From the event horizon of a distant black hole to the junk that orbits the Earth, from a dystopic future to multiple dimensions within our own timeline, KC Ball's stories are filled with the humor and humanity that made her a Writers of the Future winner./
Snapshots from a Black Hole & Other Oddities/sends you on a whipsaw journey through mind of author K.C. Ball. A mix of flash fiction and longer work, science fiction and fantasy, humor and gravitas, the stories in Snapshots will linger long after you've set the book down.
It means a lot to me to have Snapshots from a Black Hole and Other Stories by K.C. Ball in this collection. I am intimately acquainted with its pages, having been its editor, and its author was a personal friend who died last year and is sorely missed. K.C.'s visions are funny, poignant, and full of human beings trying to do the best that they can. – Cat Rambo
➢"Snapshots From a Black Hole & Other Oddities is a treasure chest of interesting, wacky, sometimes dark and off-beat characters paired with convoluted and surprising plots … She is clearly a connoisseur of story and she does story very, very well here, time and again."– Mary Rosenblum
➢"In Snapshots from a Black Hole & Other Oddities, K.C. Ball weaves lyrical spells that never feel like fiction, filled with real characters who breathe and ache and resonate with life over a landscape of prose made more rich by an economy of words."– Ken Scholes
➢"These are compassionate stories, told in a classic sf way but often with very contemporary concerns. K.C.'s people—cops dealing with dinosaur and orbital trash collectors collecting space junk—do the jobs that the rest of us don't want to, with grace and humor."– Maureen McHugh
An Establishing Shot: Here's Quantum Wanderer, Chloé Dubois' exploration ship. This one's recorded through a single-use sensor drone, fifty kilometers up-slope from BH/Hawking's event horizon. If you care for the big words, that's one-point-five Schwarzschild radii. Do the math. You'll see.
Thirty years ago, this voyage would have been impossible. BH/Hawking's not very large, but its intense gravity would have torn Einstein and Wanderer apart. Now, thanks to the new tidal-gradient compensators, the mission's only dangerous as hell.
Instruments aboard Wanderer ceaselessly collect data while its massive nuclear-pulse engines struggle to maintain a stable orbit against forces that want to suck the ship into oblivion.
The engines produce a fearsome racket but inside Wanderer it's church quiet. Each of the ship's one-point-six-five-million pieces has been tuned to exact specifications. A perfect jigsaw puzzle that nullifies the noise.
Sensor arrays, drives and fuel-containment systems, tidal compensators, communications gear, and radiation shielding fill almost every square centimeter. The bit of room left for Chloé and her life-support suit accepts just that and not one single scruple more. She doesn't so much ride in the ship as wear it.
Of course, Chloé doesn't have to be on board. A level-four A.I. orchestrates the show just fine without her. But humans hate to be replaced by a machine, even when you know we can do the job better at far less risk.
So Chloé lays her life upon the line, two subjective hours out of every twenty-four, to orbit BH/Hawking, hoping to wrestle free its secrets. Two shifts left. Still so much to learn.
Of course, she hasn't come alone. See that gleaming speck? That's Einstein, riding the tidal gradient in chrono-synchronous orbit to Wanderer, two Schwarzschild radii away.
And twelve kilometers above Chloé, tethered to Einstein by a tractor field, Andy Mercer hunkers in a shielded observation pod too small to have a name.
Andy makes immersives—you know, grabbies. He watches Chloé's every move, hears each grunt and exhalation, captures what she tastes and smells and touches, everything except her thoughts, through long-range sensors. He's risking his life too, recording every little detail of this grand adventure for all of you back home.
You're curious, aren't you? You want to see what's in the darkness, as much as any of the twenty members ofEinstein's crew. And you want to know why the world directorate laid out one hundred, ninety seven billion for the trip.
It's your money. You paid for a ticket, you deserve to see the show. Let's be honest though. The science stuff is boring. You really want to be around in case it all goes wrong.
In the deepest, darkest, meanest corners of your hearts, all humans want that. You watch disaster from a distance and if someone dies, so much the better. You can whisper to yourself, "Thank God that wasn't me."