The ED SF Project

The Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project, that is. We're showing the love for five and a half years of great short fiction, and we need your help! We've got over 300 stories to cover, so if you're a person who loves short speculative fiction, we want you. Go here to read the list and add your voice.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"The View from Endless Scarp" by Marta Randall: An Appreciation by Pat Lundrigan

It starts off simply enough: the last human spaceship is taking off from a dead world. But wait! Someone's been left behind. Her reactions are what you'd expect, but it turns out she planned on staying behind, and only when the ship took off did she have her moment of doubt. Why Markowitz stayed behind, and what happens to her, left on a world that is nothing more than a failed terraforming project, is the story.

I read this story when it originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The late 70's was my "golden age" of science fiction. I had started by reading I, Robot and other books by Asimov. Then I found out that those wonderful Science Fiction magazines as described in The Early Asimov still existed, and could be found for sale at newsstands, drugstores, and even supermarkets. I started buying them, and in a Christmas gift to rival a Daisy Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock, my sister gave me a one-year subscription to F&SF. That was my yearly gift for a few years, until my interest in SF waned. I still kept all those magazines, though.

Flash forward several years, past college, past work, past several apartments. Clutter had finally caught up with me, and I was throwing out junk with reckless abandon to make more room. In the hall closet was a box, full of those magazines from the late 70's. I was on the verge of chucking the entire lot into the dumpster when I picked out the June 1978 issue of F&SF and looked at the table of contents. "The View from Endless Scarp" was in that issue. And I remembered it. Remembered Markowitz's journey down Endless Scarp across the desert to search for Thompson, and her struggles with the native, Kre'e. "Wow!" I thought, "can't throw this out!" A few more looks through the pile revealed more gems, more stories that I remembered almost 20 years after reading them. I kept that box of old SF magazines. And I'm glad I did, because when my interest in SF was rekindled a few years ago, and I went right to the stories that got hooked in the first place.

And that's what SCI FICTION has been for me. A place where I could not only read the latest SF, but also a source of the good old stuff (classics, in other words)--stories from a few or more years ago, but still good stories.

"The View from Endless Scarp" stands the test of time. It is an example of good SF not because it has groundbreaking ideas or prose crammed full of eyeball kicks, but because it is a character story, about character that is memorable, and one who we can know and feel for.

I'll miss the "Classics" section of SCI FICTION. Ellen Datlow has chosen some of her favorite stories, and brought to the forefront stories that might otherwise never have been read. But don't despair. You might have a box of old magazines or books in your closet. And there's always used bookstores. But, for a brief while, it was nice to able to find some of the good old stuff right on your computer.

Link to story.


Post a Comment

<< Home