Short Story Contest - Submit By 12/1/2020

David Trammel's picture

Lagrange Books is soliciting short stories and novellas by new and established authors in the fantasy genre, between 3,500 and 7,000 words in length for short stories and between 9,000 and 15,000 words for novellas. (Shorter or longer works will be considered in cases of exceptional merit.) The goal is to select at least ten entries for publication* in a short-story anthology.

Theme: “Politics as Story Conflict.”

Your story must include as a significant plot element a political conflict that makes up a key piece of the worldbuilding. (For guidance on how to do this, you can refer to Beyond Kings and Princesses: Governments for Worldbuilders, from Lagrange Books.)

David Trammel's picture

I love having chill time, either curled up on the bed with the cats, or in the garden listening to some music. I get some of my best story ideas then. I had the kernel of an idea the other night, and wonder how to tailor it to this contest.

Here is the concept:

One of the methods that thinkers believe that advanced civilizations would spread themselves across the stellar distances would be with Artificial Intelligence in ships, with the intention that upon arrival in a new system, those AIs would then set about building replicas of themselves to send out to further systems. This "seeding" method would work especially well if you can't create faster than light propulsion drives since an AI is about the only way you could have a ship cross hundreds if not thousands of years worth of travel.

Now suppose one such "seeding ship" were to arrive in the outer edges of our solar system, and decide we were not worth communicating with?

Such a ship commences to harvest the resources of the outer planets, while completely ignoring humans and Earth. What would happen to the political and economic systems we have in place, with the clear fact that aliens exist, never mind the religious implications, while not even saying hello?

If the alien AI restricted itself to the area of the asteroid belt and beyond, and we had progressed to the point of relanding on the Moon, would we try to go out there and demand attention, or would we just except that we were no longer the masters of our home system?

I have a few ideas of a short story outline that might fit within the requirements of the contest, but would love to hear what the other writers think of this idea.

It's been four years since I read it, and I can't remember if there were actual aliens onboard, but a ship shows up jn Saturn's orbit, and the human wrecking crews go out to claim it.

David Trammel's picture

I'll have to check that out, thanks Sophie.

I have watched a lot of the Youtube science videos by Isaac Arthur. Great stuff. He did a whole series on colonizing the various planets in the Solar System.

Colonizing Jupiter:

I was actually thinking the ship would come in at angle off of the system plane, and then after a fly through and deceleration, end up in orbit around Jupiter. From there it would start building copies of itself to launch to other star system. All the while just ignoring Earth and humans.

Since the first phase of that might take ten years, it would mean a huge deal at first, as space scientist spot it, like that comet of last year, then notice it decelerating. That would make world wide news and shake up society. Might be a rush to send a probe out but that would take 6-12 months alone to build a probe, then what 2 years to get it out there?

I thought to set it close to current time. In fact I thought of a working title of "In December, Aliens Arrived". Given what's happened so far in 2020, it seemed fitting.

Here is a vid on self replicating space probes (aka von Neuman probes)