In celebration of Father’s Day weekend, I thought I would take the opportunity to release my short story “The Disappearance of Josie Andrew” to Amazon for you kindle users out there–complete with a revamped cover image. (It’s already on Smashwords and all the places SW distributes to for all those other reader-types).
DJA is a special story to me for several reasons. Yes, it got me into my first Writers of the Future anthology, and it also made the preliminary Nebula ballot–either of those alone would give it a warm place in my heart forever. But this one goes considerably deeper for me. Here’s what I wrote about it back in the day:
Stories are strange things. Sometimes they cling to my mind and won’t let go when I want to stick them on paper, and other times they flood out and I merely hang on for the ride. “The Disappearance of Josie Andrew” was the later. I wrote the piece on a Saturday, in a single setting over a period of maybe four or six hours.
Of course, it then went to the Fishers Five and Lisa for modification. But it remains essentially the same tale that I put down that first morning.
I’m really proud of it. In fact it’s one of the few stories of my own that I still read every now and again because it makes me feel strangely good.
This is also a story that created some interesting commentary, as I’ve heard people give very different views about its politics. This actually surprised me a bit because I wasn’t writing a political story at all. Instead, I was really just pouring everything I really knew about what being a dad means into this character, who is a kinda down-on-his luck guy. Toward that end, I dedicated it to my father when it made its way into the WotF anthology..
Anyway…I hope you like it.
I put my palm against the Plexiglas where B86-97 floats.
Warmth flows into my hand.
I smile despite the pain this child unwittingly brings me. “Good morning, Kyle,” I say. That is the name I give to B86-97. Kyle Lincoln. I gaze into his tightly scrunched face and say his name three times inside my head to make sure I will remember it. I’ve never been good with equations or history or economics–or anything like that. But I can put a name to a face.
I pull my hand back, the heat of the chamber lingering like a stolen kiss.
In “The Disappearance of Josie Andrew,” author Ron Collins explores some ramifications of advances in reproductive technology. The “artificial womb” motif is a popular one in science fiction, and a personal favorite; I admire his choice to tell the story from an oblique angle — instead of the usual parent or scientist, the protagonist here is a janitor/technician at a large (and spectacularly unethical) institution. Collins takes the time to suggest, delicately, the awesome potential of human life and the tragedy of its loss. The story is rather morbid and set in a very anti-choice atmosphere … but I appreciate it anyway. It certainly sticks in my memory. I like the idea of small people and small changes being able to make a big difference. Creepy, but another favorite.