Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

The Blue Planet

by Rob - December 12th, 2014.
Filed under: Mars, Short Fiction.

On December 3, 1999, the Mars Polar Lander disappeared as it descended toward the red planet. Five days later, an editor with a wonderfully appropriate surname — Catherine Bradbury — at The Globe and Mail: Canada’s National Newspaper called to ask me if I could write a science-fiction story explaining the probe’s disappearance. The only catch: they needed the finished story in just twenty-four hours. I said I couldn’t contemplate such a tight deadline for less than a dollar a word, the editor said fine (much to my surprise), and — voilà! — a story was born.

Newspapers are notorious for changing writers’ words, but the only thing The Globe changed was my title, from “The Blue Planet” to the rather histrionic “Mars Reacts!” The story appeared on the front page of section “R” of the Saturday, December 11, 1999, edition — 15 years ago this week.

David G. Hartwell took this story for his fifth-annual Year’s Best SF anthology, but he preferred my original title, and so the story was republished there — and now also on my website — as “The Blue Planet.”

Read the full short story

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