Futures this week is pleased to welcome back Sylvia Spruck Wrigley with her story Project Daffodil. Previously, Sylvia has taken us to the front line of an alien war, explained what it’s like to be lost in space and spent time as a prisoner on an alien world. This week, she tackles the logistics of colonizing Mars. Sylvia’s first novella, Domnall and the Borrowed Child, is now out as a part of the Tor.com novella imprint. You can find out more about her at her website or by following her on Twitter. Here, she explains what inspired her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.
Writing Project Daffodil
I’m interested in telling stories about the people we don’t see very often in traditional science fiction. I read fiction for years before noticing how many story heroes have no family: no mothers, no father, no siblings nor grandparents. So now, it’s something I actively try to think about: what is Great Aunt Gertrude’s role in this universe?
At some point I heard someone make the comment that we shouldn’t have any problem heating up other planets, as we’d done OK overheating this one. It was a remarkable simplification that caught my imagination. I was already thinking about the fact that the worse the living conditions on this planet become, the more pressure there is to find ways off of it, to move on to a new home.
I wrote another story, called You Only Live Once, which told the story of a Kickstarter project in which supporters could fund a commercial space programme by buying a cheap ticket to be on the first cargo launch — or pay double in order to get the round-trip. The idea of a one-way ticket into space seemed like it would solve a lot of the practicalities of space exploration.
So somehow these things combined in my head and Project Daffodil began to take shape. If the first wave of colonists was going out to set things up, how much would there actually need to be done? I imagine that most of it would be automated, so you would mainly need people there in case a switch needed flipping or a computer resetting. In which case, why send highly qualified astronauts? The main requirements seemed to be avoidance of boredom and ability to follow instructions … and of course to be happy to accept that this is a one-way trip.
And with that, I had a story. I hope you have enjoyed it.