Name: R.S. Hunter
Author of: “Jewel of Tahn-Vinh”
Current Geographic Location: San Diego, CA
Recent publications: “Strike Breakers” in 20,001 A Steampunk Odyssey and “Blood Moon” in Ten Silver Bullets.
Do you think alien life exists in the Universe? Absolutely. It comes down to probabilities. There are millions and billions of stars and planets in the universe. It just makes sense that some of them would contain life, even if it’s only on the cellular or bacterial level. The chances of there being intelligent life (or life we’re even able to recognize as intelligent) are probably slimmer, but I believe it’s out there.
If you could travel off Earth, would you? What if it meant you could never come back? I’d travel off Earth in a heartbeat. Science fiction is my favorite genre, so if I was able to actually live some of the things I’ve read about, I’d be in heaven. I’d probably miss Earth if I wasn’t able to come back, but for the opportunity to travel among the stars…I think that’d be worth it.
What inspired your story? I set “Jewel of Tanh-Vinh” in a universe I’ve used for stories before. It’s actually the same universe as “Runner” even though the two stories aren’t related at all. I looked at the prompt for the IN SITU anthology and wondered what it would be like if a person not trained in biology/xenobiology/whatever were to discover an alien artifact. Would this person even recognize what the artifact was? What if other people discovered it first, tried to understand it, and failed? What if they didn’t leave behind any notes about their progress?
The story just kind of came from there. I added some horror elements because that was the vibe I wanted to create.
What music or movies helped you to write this essay? I usually listen to electronic, instrumental, or video game music while I write. I used the video game Dead Space for some of the visual aesthetic I pictured in my mind. Sci-fi TV shows like the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and Firefly are some of my favorites, so I think I tried to channel a little bit of them too.
How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I’m really meticulous when I write. I outline like crazy before I write my first draft, even for short stories. I wrote a 1,700 word outline for “Jewel of Than-Vinh” before starting on the story, which clocked in at about 3,650 words. The outline was one of my shorter ones. Strangely this story was one of the easiest for me to write. It only required one or two small rewrites. The main structure and format remained unchanged from the original outline.
What is your favorite bit? For some reason, the image of Seth – kind of a space trucker/salvage guy – watching “future” soap operas in the cockpit of his ship makes me laugh. I also like when he discovers the derelict ship:
Not many things about derelicts surprised him anymore after a few years on the job, but the round hole in the hull of the colony ship made him almost lose his grip on the controls. Strips of hull metal unfolded outward around the almost perfectly circular hole like the petals of a flower. The edges were blackened and blistered, but everywhere else the colony ship was essentially pristine.
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