Short Story #23: Concluded

Alien first contact Romance

23 Concluded alien first contact romance short story

What if Departure came before Arrival?

Short Story Writer’s Journal: (May Contain Spoilers)

I had a rollercoaster of a time with this story. Why? Well, writing prompts are unpredictable animals and can lead you where you least expect.

This one - water crisis - could have gone many ways and I didn’t get far with it for a few days. Just didn’t feel ready to start so I spent time reading the Distaff Science fiction anthology, and writing a review post to help with their 15-August release date.

One of these weeks I’m going to report that I managed to take a prompt and write a 2000+ word short story in the same day.

But, alas, not this week.

The bulk of the 3,900 words that comprise Concluded emerged on Saturday and Sunday after a ton of ideas had marinated sufficiently for me to rustle up a tale.

Without giving too much away here are five of the pieces that helped bring this story puzzle together.

  1. New Scientist mag to the rescue again with some features on planned missions to the Gas Giants and their moons. Europa makes the grade in my story.

  2. A family member was in Greece this summer and that inspired a location.

  3. Book cover design: a current study interest of mine.

  4. Spinning up an idea from one of Richard Matheson’s best short stories (Shipshape Home, one of those I ticked as read in the photo below.)

  5. Mashing Ted Chiang’s idea of Arrival (which I read again this week, still to see the movie though haha!) into my take as Departure.


Above is the contents page from my copy of The Best of Richard Matheson

I’ve tagged it as science fiction, first contact and climate fiction (cli-fi) but with the science element so far ahead of our current understanding of time and space as to make it almost magical.

Does that mean it’s science fantasy or speculative fiction or?

Perhaps it’s all of the above.

In my wee story some aliens are here and appear to be benevolent by nature.

The story is also a nod to Carl Sagan’s ETs in Contact, who adopt an ambiguous guise as to their real existence.

But, as with Ted Chiang’s aliens in Arrival, their interest in humanity is observational and there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves (to quote Dr. Sagan’s famous words as I recall them.)


(A summary listing of all short stories in this challenge can be found by clicking 52-in-52.)