Fresia struck me as very cozy for a pirate, with her cat and her beanbag chair. How did she and this story come to be?
I have to confess that Fresia is nine-tenths me. I would for sure have a cat named Whiskey and a beanbag chair on my space pirate ship. My friend Ferret bragged that ever since he wrote a story with donuts in it, random people gave him donuts. I sat right down and wrote the title “Single Malt Spacecraft” with visions of free shots dancing before my eyes. We all have a little pirate in us.
This was such an interesting lens through which to look at time jumps, linguistic drift, and meme loss each time a person touches down in a different port. Did you picture the casks as time capsules, or did that theme emerge as the story went on?
Scotch whisky is almost certainly the greatest invention of western civilization, but it takes a criminal amount of time to make! I once got to attend a scotch tasting where the host had a 110-year-old bottle with a hand-lettered label. It was magnificent. Clear and bright as a summer’s day. I was transfixed. Here was the physical remains of a hand on a pen, and inside, the liquid distilled from a summer’s grain harvest a century ago. Aged whisky has always been a time capsule. Think about comics and ephemera and all the hostages time takes from nostalgia. “Maybe,” I thought, “time dilation stories don’t have to always be depressing. There’s an advantage to skipping ahead.”
The past is somewhere we can never return to. The future is somewhere we may never see. I love the juxtaposition of two yearnings, and I tried at least to end on a hopeful note, because we can see a better future. We have to grow it and harvest it.
What’s something in your life now that you love that someone in your youth told you wasn’t for you?
The scene at the start of this story is 100% autobiography. Yeah, I slobbered all over your twenty-one-year Glenlivet, Mookie! Way to not stand up for my side, Raj! I’m still mad. Revenge is a dish best served in professional publication.
Honestly, the surest way to get me to want something is to say it isn’t for me. As a kid it felt like everything I liked was “not for me.” Toy cars. GI Joe. Football. I even had some jerk tell me, “Girls don’t like science fiction. They like fantasy.” I’d like to say I beat him about the head and shoulders with his own copy of Dragonriders of Pern, but instead I probably said something like, “Huh, that’s interesting,” and went back to trying to read every Asimov book in the public library in alphabetical order.
Can you recommend a beverage pairing or flight for this story?
Start off with a messy wet swig straight from a bottle of Glenlivet 21-year. Don’t wipe off the rim. Then have a leisurely shot of Glenmorangie, at least a 15-year. Love the caramel notes. Now a shot of Laphroaig 12 for the peaty sharpness. Finish with a double pour of Bowmore 18. That bourbon barrel finish is what adds the complexity. Now you’re messed up enough you can have some blended scotch without feeling it. Famous Grouse is good. Cut it with Coca-Cola as you slip happily into unconsciousness.
What can we look forward to next from you?
My murder mystery “The Rooster of Io” will be in the next Amazing Stories, and my blue-collar robot revolution which everyone said I should change the title of, “On the Changing Roles of Dockworkers,” will be in Analog fairly soon. Plus stories in the Trouble the Waters and Detective Thrillers anthologies. I have a lot coming up and I’m always working to keep the slush piles full of me. Check out marievibbert.com for the full list!
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