Between the Lines: Racing to Mars

Jul 7, 2016

The Planet Mars
Credit Wikipedia

What are the chances of finding an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer in a village of 500 souls? Actually, the odds are excellent. Martin L. Shoemaker is a native of Byron Center, just south of Grand Rapids, but he now lives in the Village of Hopkins, between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.


“I like neighbors at a distance,” Shoemaker admits. “When you want to meet someone, you can go to the local coffee shop, but not have them 15 feet away.”

A writer needs his or her seclusion. And in Shoemaker's quieter hours, the software developer lets his imagination roam to other worlds. He says that his 30 years in the field of technology helps him as a science fiction writer.

“We computer geeks don’t always think like regular people,” Shoemaker says. “For us, what we think is simple and obvious when we look at technology is not what regular people see. And, frankly, we’re wrong. Understanding how other people think in the world is a valuable skill for a software developer. And it’s the same for a writer.”

Credit Analog Science Fiction

Shoemaker’s ability to see the world from multiple perspectives, and his ability for world-building - a necessary skill for a SF or fantasy writer - has earned him a following among science fiction fans. It’s also garnered him several awards. Readers of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, the longest-running U.S. science fiction magazine, selected Shoemaker's story “Racing to Mars” as its top novelette of 2015. The story is about a doctor and her struggles with a difficult spaceship captain, and with a billionaire’s spoiled son, on a trip to the Red Planet.

An earlier novella by Shoemaker in the same series was reprinted in both the 31st edition of the Year’s Best Science Fiction, and the Year’s Top Short SF Novels 4. His short story, “Today I Am Paul,” was named a finalist for the Nebula Award, chosen by his peers in the Science Fiction Writers of America. It was also selected for four best-of-the-year collections and for translation into French, Italian, Hebrew, Polish, Czech, German, and Chinese. Another novelette, “Unrefined,” was a third-place winner for the Writers of the Future contest.

Some of Shoemaker’s work can be found online at his website. But he also has a darker, more mischievous writing persona online.

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