Rocket Racing April 29, 2010Posted by bobv451 in e-books, ideas, inventions, sci-fi, science fiction, sense of wonder, VIPub, westerns, writing.
I saw this and it made me groan. It’s clever! It’s what I should have thought of when I did a story for a contest a few years ago. My friend Gwynne Spencer mentioned a newspaper was looking for stories about how the southwestern states could survive economically. I came up with the idea of coupling the spaceport in southern NM with an old timey rodeo. As with all such contests, the deadline was extreme. This is virtually flash fiction since I came up with the idea, wrote the story and sent it in two days.
The idea of rocket racing, like the 20’s air races, fascinates me, but how do you actually see anything? You can hear it, sure, but that’s not so good. In the video you can check out above, this is solved brilliantly. Kudos to those folks!
And here is the beginning of my story (along with the good ole pen name of mine), which continues in full over at my website.
Robert E Vardeman & Karl Lassiter
“That broke down old nag your ride?” Steve Kenyon pushed back his wide-brimmed hat so it rode high on his head and clucked his tongue at the sight. “I saw something like this in the Smithsonian once, only this one’s older. And it’s not in anywhere near as good a shape.” He looked down his crooked, sunburned nose at the dull-skinned rocket plane sitting on its skids instead of decent wheels. He shook his head in mock amazement. “I haven’t seen a hunk of junk like this since 2025, maybe. No, it was later. Remember old Jersey Jenks? He ran a scrap yard for junkers like this.”
“It’s not even forty years old,” said Jack Slaughter, the hybrid rocket plane’s pilot. He worked to hold down his irritation. He knew Kenyon was only trying to get this goat, but the other pilot’s tone still rankled. He was close to veering over the line separating joshing from downright insulting. “And it’s wiped out all comers so far.”
“So far,” Kenyon said, mopping his forehead with a large blue bandanna. The hot New Mexico sun took the hint and hid behind a fleecy strand of cirrostratus cloud like a heavenly herringbone. “I came up through a harder competition bracket.”
“Yeah,” said Jack, stepping between Kenyon and his precious Lori Sue. He ran loving fingers over the spot where the nose art had been prior to heat ablation during his last qualifying flight. Six days of competition and four flights had dimmed the paint but not the pilot’s determination. The rocket races were the culmination of the rodeo, and as far as Jack was concerned, the only event worth winning. The crowds cheered and hooted and hollered at the other, earthbound races, but getting up high into the atmosphere was the only worthwhile frontier left. Who cared about acrobatics or tight-course slaloms–those had been popular back in the 1920s when they had air races with prop driven planes. They were nothing compared to outright, grab the stick, full throttle, aim for the sky freedom of rocket racing.