Strata is a stand-alone novella by two Writers of the Future Award winners.
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.