“Nearest Far-Away Place” in Planet Scumm #7

I’m super stoked to have a short story—”The Nearest Far-Away Place”—in the new issue of Planet Scumm. This is my third time publishing in the magazine, which has been a really nice experience each time. Tyler and the other folks at Planet Scumm continue to impress as each issue pushes their creative boundaries a little further. I’m honored to be invited along.

The cover illustration, which I am in love with, was created by Erika Schnatz, a production artist at Image Comics. The spot illustrations in this issue were all completed in a single, unbroken line by Planet Scumm’s creative director, Alyssa Alarcón Santo. The book is worth picking up for the illustrations alone. Seriously.

I hadn’t realized that I had a pull quote on the back cover until I was looking at the digital file. By the time I have a story either in print or digital, I kinda can only squint at it and just hope it all turned out all right.

Here is how it starts:

On the space stations, the mining colonies, the inns for wayward travelers built into asteroids, the generation ships where many live in-between lives, and on the habitable moons that are our new homes, we carry our boxes of photographs of the people we have met so we can remember who we are.

We are careful not to touch the paper’s grain and bleed an image away. Like the gravitons stored below the decks of our starships, my wooden box of photographs keeps me from floating away. The hinges of the box creak, the corners are dented and chipped, and the cherry finish is rubbed away from the lid. Instead of storing holos on my reckoner, my photos are printed on a variety of materials: heavy photo stock, cheap paper (with images green and fading), and dull metal plates.

In the photographs, I see Rowan, my red-haired love; Azariah, the commander of my first star ship; Landry, the homeless child I should have helped; and the bartender on Helios Creed.

My wife read this story in an advance copy of the magazine and liked it. So there you go. It’s also a little more emotional than my usual goofball stuff. Other stories include:

  • Zone 59 by Rebecca Gransden
  • Dance Dance Apocalypse by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
  • Reptile by Hailey Piper
  • The Perpetual Empire by Aaron Emmel
  • The Nearest Far-Away Place by Frank Smith
  • At the Border Post by Noah Lemelson
  • Original artwork by Erika Schnatz and Alyssa Alarcón Santo

Pre-orders are available now. Books will ship September 10.