Trader-adventure stories have always been well-received by readers of Grand Tradition stories because of their action-adventure elements. Some of the best-known SF Trader tales are those of the Polesotechnic League series by Poul Anderson, featuring sweeping tales of the well-heeled Nicholas van Rijn and his associate David Falkayn who use their wits and a whatever-it-takes approach to make a profit. Another take on the trader-adventure story is epitomized by Andre Norton’s novels describing the travails of the crew of the Solar Queen, a small independent interstellar trade ship whose owners always appear to be teetering on the edge of insolvency. Author Kat Otis’ story “Obsidianite” fits well within the merchant adventure profile. In “Obsidianite,” Janessa’s profit, pride, and personal history mix explosively on the side of a volcano.
Kat Otis lives a peripatetic life with cats who enjoy riding in the car as long as there’s no country music involved. Her fiction has appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress XXVI. She can be found online at katotis.com or on Twitter as @kat_otis.dit.
It wasn’t that she didn’t trust her newest pilot—Darion was better than her last three pilots combined. But Darion was also still young and didn’t have much experience with interstellar travel. Anyone with half an understanding of calculus could throw together coordinates for a basic FTL jump; the difficult part was making the dozens of ship-specific adjustments required to make the jump without damaging said ship. One of the Bonadventure’s aft sensor arrays was especially prone to shearing off in transit—she’d owned the ship for seven years and lost as many arrays in the same time period.
“I didn’t botch the calculations, Jan.” Darion drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. “All systems should be green to go. Will you stop fussing and check out the planet? I think that transmission really was a distress call.”
Read the full story in Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures . . .