Announcing Strata — A Story of the Future Suns

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A while back I had an idea for a story. It was going to be about pilots racing solar skimmers over the surface of the sun. That’s about all I had when I started, and I kept it loose on purpose because I wanted my collaborator to be able to provide a lot of input into the story. When I had the kernel of the story in mind, the first person I thought of to collaborate with was Steve Gaskell, a Clarion classmate of mine. I write about pretty much only fantasy when it comes to novels, but I do like to stretch my science-fictional muscles in short stories. Steve, however, is a great writer who writes mostly science fiction. His style reminds me a lot of Robert Charles Wilson and Robert J. Sawyer.

I was really glad when Steve agreed. We started brainstorming and writing without putting any restrictions on the characters, the setting, the length of the story. We just wrote, sending the text back and forth, each of us adding, editing, deleting as we saw fit. There were times when we disagreed, but those few times were vastly outweighed by the number of times we agreed. The story gelled nicely, I’d say, and I feel fortunate to have had this experience, because I think the story that came out of it turned out wonderfully. I’m very proud of it.

Here’s the description of the story:

Strata is a stand-alone novella written by two Writers of the Future Award winners: Bradley P. Beaulieu and Stephen Gaskell.

It’s the middle of the twenty-second century. Earth’s oil and gas reserves have been spent, but humankind’s thirst for energy remains unquenched. Vast solar mining platforms circle the upper atmosphere of the sun, drawing power lines up from the stellar interior and tight-beaming the energy back to Earth. For most of the platforms’ teeming masses, life is hard, cramped—and hot. Most dream of a return Earthside, but a two-way ticket wasn’t part of the benefits package, and a Sun-Earth trip doesn’t come cheap.

Kawe Ndechi is luckier than most. He’s a gifted rider—a skimmer pilot who races the surface of the sun’s convection zone—and he needs only two more wins before he lands a ticket home. The only trouble is, Kawe’s spent most of his life on the platforms. He’s seen the misery, and he’s not sure he’s the only one who deserves a chance at returning home.

That makes Smith Pouslon nervous. Smith once raced the tunnels of fire himself, but now he’s a handler, and his rider, Kawe, is proving anything but easy to handle. Kawe’s slipping deeper and deeper into the Movement, but Smith knows that’s a fool’s game. His own foray into the Movement cost him his racing career—and nearly his life—and he doesn’t want Kawe to throw everything away for a revolt that will never succeed.

One sun. Two men. The fate of a million souls.

You can sample the opening chapter of the story by downloading the files here:

Download in ePub Format

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Or you can purchase the full story for your Kindle or Nook:

Thanks, everyone. We hope you enjoy the story.