Planetary Scouts by Stephen Sottong

I didn’t get a weekend post up since I spent very little time at my house this weekend. My daughter had her first gymnastics meet of the season and I visited my sister for her birthday. But, it’s a new week, and time to read more! Since it’s Monday, it’s time for some short fiction. Today’s story from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology was a bit longer than most, making it into the novelette length.

Published: 2013 in Writers of the Future Volume 29

Genre: science fiction

Length: 43 pages

Setting: various planets, far future

Summary: Our narrator, Aidan Pastor, is a veteran Planetary Scout with a new partner fresh out of training. Pastor would like to get to his 25 missions and out of the Scouts, so he preps Lester as well as he can for the upcoming missions. They successfully navigate several tricky planets (if they weren’t tricky, the unmanned probe data would have been sufficient) before they nearly don’t make it off another planet.

Final thoughts: This was an enjoyable read. You’re thrown right into the middle of the story (the first mission we see is Pastor’s 19th mission), and there’s plenty of history and atmosphere that inform the story. We get the excitement of going to new planets and trying to figure out how it’s going to try to kill them, and even a bit of character development. (Not too much – this is a short story, after all.) I liked the end. It wasn’t a happy ending, but it was still a hopeful ending.

Title comes from: It was the job of the characters we follow.

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