It’s getting close to the February 14th deadline for Planetary Awards nominations, so it’s time I threw my short story candidate into the ring. Well, not literally. As you’ll see below, that would be dangerous.
Last month, I posted a list of short stories I was considering for nomination. I ended up choosing none of them. I continued reading short stories after that post, and I’ve decided to nominate “The Pilot” by Andrew Mayne, from the collection “Predator: If It Bleeds“.
Many of the stories in this collection are set during historical time periods (there’s a samurai story, a viking story, etc.), and “The Pilot” is set during the Cold War, some time in the 70’s or 80’s. The main character is an SR-71 Blackbird pilot who is shot down after he’s sent to observe suspicious happenings on a Soviet island in the North Pacific.
The story made me nostalgic for the Cold War. It was a simpler time. You knew you were either going to die in a nuclear war, like in The Day After, or in an exchange of gunfire with communist troops, maybe in a Red Dawn scenario. These days, it’s wide open. Most of us have no idea what’s going to kill us. It’s stressful. Kim Jong-un is trying to bring back the good old days, but it’s just not the same. Give it a rest, Jong-un, you’re no Brezhnev.
Getting back to “The Pilot”, the story had one heck of a twist in the middle. A lot of sci-fi short stories use twists, so you find yourself watching for them, but this one blindsided me. I knew I was reading a predator anthology, so I was expecting one or more predators, but I didn’t see one coming at the moment the twist happened. Now, I’ve realized the author is THAT Andrew Mayne, so it’s not shocking that I didn’t spot the twist ahead of time.
So, for the combination of historical fiction that captured its time period, and a twist that I wasn’t expecting, I’m giving “The Pilot” my nomination for best short story of 2017.
Andrew Mayne has a number of books for sale at Amazon, including mysteries, sci-fi thrillers, and how-to books on writing. I think I’ll pick up one of his mysteries as a gift for my parents, and another one of his books for myself.