Home > Recommendations > “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide”, by Ruth Nestvold

“Mars: A Traveler’s Guide”, by Ruth Nestvold

This story has no plot and no characters.

Okay, okay, I suppose it does have a character.  However, that character is never seen and never heard.

You see, the entire story is told in the responses that a computer has to the character.  And all the character does is look things up on the computer.

Of course, the things the person looks up have a specific agenda. . . rescue.  Alone on Mars.

Funny, scary, and very, very well done.

“Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” in print (as part of the linked .pdf)
“Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” in audio

  1. Llyra
    March 10, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    I wonder what it says about me (and the author) that as I was reading this, I was picturing the protagonist, and it was a woman. Hmm.

    Great story. Yay! thank you for passing it on.

    • Steve Feldon
      March 11, 2011 at 8:41 am

      Huh. Me too. Didn’t even particularly think it was in doubt.

  2. Ruth Nestvold
    March 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks, Steve! Glad you liked it.

    And yeah, it’s autobiographical. Kind of. I lived through help systems and am here to tell the tale …

    • Steve Feldon
      March 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      My first reply-from-the-author. *swoon* 🙂

      So, Ruth. . . is the protag female? And what else would you recommend of yours for folks who liked this one?

  3. Ruth Nestvold
    March 16, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Actually, I don’t think I was imagining a specific protagonist while I wrote the story. I was hoping people could imagine either a man or a woman on the other side of the help system voice. At the same time, it was clear to me that a lot of people would be seeing the protag as female because of the “Ruth” in front of the “Nestvold.” 🙂

    About half of my published short stories are science fiction. Similarly experimental in form is “Sailing to Utopia,” but that’s probably pretty hard to get your hands on. One of my personal favorites is “Looking Through Lace,” which was nominated for the Tiptree and Sturgeon awards and which I’ve also made available through Smashwords.

    Time permitting, I intend to make more of my stories available on Smashwords, and then eventually through Amazon.

  4. July 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Outstanding short story.

    It is the perfect treatise on the delights of automated help systems, I wonder how it would play out on a stage?

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