Nomination: The Pilot

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.

Red Dawn

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.


  1. I think I’d have a bit of trouble with that story. How did a blackbird get shot down? I hope the author has a real good explanation for it.

    1. I’ll have to go back to the story and check. My first guess is that some predator tech knocked it out.

      1. Yeah, that would probably work. 🙂

  2. Dang, completely missed this collection coming out last year. Outside of “The Pilot” how where the other stories?

    1. Pretty good. I’ll be reviewing the collection, but I want to finish my magazine reviews before starting on anthologies. I only gave one story a low score, and I’m guessing I gave 3 star to about half the others, and 4+ to the other half. That might not sound great, but it’s really high compared to other anthologies I’ve been scoring.

      It was much better than the Aliens: Bug Hunt collection that came out earlier last year. I’ll also review it some day, but my average rating was pretty low on it.

  3. That sounds really interesting. My only knowledge of predator and aliens is from Prometheus and talking to my husband. I missed out on all those stories and movies and I’m still too scared to watch them.

    Thank you for subscribing to my book review blog, Contemplateandintimate. My most recent sci-fi review was for The Warrior’s Apprentice in the Vorkosigan saga. Have you read those stories?

    1. The Predator anthology is pretty good (much better than a similar Alien anthology that also came out last year), but I’d probably recommend seeing the first movie or two before reading it, if you can.

      Yes, I’ve read all of the Miles Vorkosigan books, but only one or two of the ones that don’t feature him. I enjoyed the books featuring Miles, except for Winterfair, which I found dull.

      I was planning to check out your review today, I’ll take a look at it now.

      1. I was wondering if Miles would be back again! He’s a really great character, I love his sense of humor.

        1. I think there are about 12 books with Miles, and a handful of others set in the same universe but without the Miles character. The non-Miles ones that I’ve read haven’t been as good.

          1. Oh, wow! I had no idea that the series was that long…. that’s intimidating.

            1. She’s good at wrapping up the plot line to each individual story, so you can stop or take a break anywhere without needing to rush to the next book.

            2. I noticed that with the first Miles story, which is why I wasn’t expecting him to come back! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me!

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