Jonathan Laidlow’s story “The Astronaut Tier” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 26 October 2018.
“The Astronaut Tier” began life as a story called “Flailing”, written for a challenge on the sffworld forums in 2015 with the theme of “surprises in desolate places”. I remember I immediately had the image of a blighted Britain, but it took a little longer to find the main theme of the story, which was the Mars One project – a Dutch organisation which was looking for future astronauts not through expertise in astronautics but through social media. Around that time I saw the brilliant film about a woman in a cult, Martha Marcy May Marlene, starring Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes, and read Paul McAuley’s superb novel The Quiet War about the opening up of the solar system. I wanted to take these elements – crowdfunding the exploration of the solar system and cult dynamics and tell the story through Farren’s strength and agency.
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