Re: Will You Be An Astronaut?

In New Skies, there are a fair number of classics which are heavily anthologized elsewhere, such as “Out of All Them Bright Stars” and “They’re Made Out of Meat“. Most of the stories seem to be directed at young people who haven’t read science fiction before. I think if that were the case for me, I would have liked better the one about the woman who walked around the Moon, or the one about the guy fighting his way down and up an immense, city-like tower. But what led me to look for this collection was a wonderfully creepy reading on Escape Pod of  “Will You Be An Astronaut?,” by Greg Van Eekhout. This story takes the whole idea of a science fiction for young people in a whole, weird direction.

It sounds like a children’s book, but there are passages that are wrenching. Massive amounts of suffering are barely hinted at. Then you get to the story telling children to look out for people suborned by the evil aliens and report them, even their parents. The example of self-sacrifice extolled by the ending is still more chilling. You really don’t want to let little kids hear this!

On the other hand, if you want to challenge your reader to pick apart the layers, to see propaganda for what it is, to question the motives of the writer — maybe this is just the thing for for young readers.

Will you be a science fiction reader?