Spaceship voyages are among the most familiar Grand Tradition tropes and they have been used throughout the history of the genre. They are the logical progression from the popular sailing ship adventures of the day that featured daring captains who visited strange locations populated by even stranger inhabitants, not the least of which is Gulliver’s Travels (1726). But the fun romp “Bear Essentials” is an even more specific sort of spaceship voyage; not just a tight-knit crew manning a small vessel, but composed predominantly of family members. Well-known SF stories featuring family-owned or operated ships include The Rolling Stones (The Family Stone in Great Britain) published in 1952 and the TV series Lost in Space (1965-1968). Author Julie Frost continues in this tradition by introducing us to Captain Russell Fisk and his daughter Mandy who pilot the tramp freighter the Inquisitive Tamandua from one potential catastrophe to another. The character of Captain Fisk resonates with the empathetic side of the reader: He isn’t the aloof steely-eyed adventurer. Instead, he is a harried fallible father who worries about everything—his ship, livelihood, crew, passengers, cargo, and his daughter's changing relationship with the mechanic.
Julie Frost lives in the beautiful Salt Lake Valley in a house full of Oaxacan carvings and anteaters, some of which intersect. Her work has appeared in Cosmos, Azure Valley, Stupefying Stories, and Plasma Frequency. She whines about writing at agilebrit.livejournal.com, or you can follow her on Twitter via @JulieCFrost. A prior adventure in this timeline, “Illegal Beagles,” is available for free download at the author’s website agilebrit.livejournal.com.
“What do you mean, Dad?”
“I just got a call from a potential client who wants us to take a grizzly bear, of all things, from the spaceport on the other side of the city to a monastery on Upcurion.” He rubbed his beard—which hadn’t been this gray, he was sure, before their most recent jobs. “How many times do I have to say I don’t like moving live cargo before it sinks in?”
“Oh, come on.” She pushed a lock of brown hair out of her face. “It hasn’t been all that bad.”
“Other than the fact that I involuntarily got a baby dragon added to my crew after the last job?”
Read the full story in Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures