Interview with Cortesa Singh

Three questions with Cortesa Singh, resistance member of Bradbury Weeps and asteroid belter, survivor of the Oort Line on 2311.04.17, when the Chorister fleet swept towards earth. Interview recorded at the Silton Repository on Dirt.


Where were you from?

The belt. Parents planned against a kid but the pills didn’t work, and they wouldn’t sign me over to MarsCorp. Started flying our mining skiff–the Stendahl’s Promise–at fifteen. Wasn’t legal, but we fixed the pilot logs, clocked enough hours to start paying down the company debt.

Lost my leg and dad died in a space grit shower. Other belters got us back but the Promise needed repairs. My cousin Orsina fixed our maintenance logs so MarsCorp couldn’t deny the death benefit. Patched the Promise up, shared what we could with those who got us home.

Orsina taught me Bradbury.

Old Earth writer, before space flight. Told stories that ended with Earth gone and Mars being where we moved past the worst of what people did to each other.

You seen MarsCorp? All us little lights out in the black and they’re sucking us dry on contracts and margins.

Bradbury weeps.

So MarsCorp probes got lost and their systems broke and their scales weighed heavy and paid out extra and we’d share it round.

We were close to getting caught, when the war started.

How did you experience the war?

War, hah. Was a leaking massacre. Scrappy little ships what couldn’t cross a galaxy on the Oort Line, and what came for us–

Orsina and me stripped the Promise down to fuel and power, clad on extra armour, swapped scanners for weapons. I flew, she was gunner. Got through a Chorister hull, but half our weapons were blown clean off. Rest stopped firing.

Wanted to think they’d run dry.

We weren’t getting back anyway.

Gearing up to run the Promise right into the Chorister’s guts when Orsina–

Didn’t hear her coming. Was wearing Bashton’s Ears.

She used a medkit sedative.

Woke up too late.

People talk about Earth and Mars. Not about what it was like out in the black, after. Tatters of the Line stretching all the way to the belt.

The frozen air, leaking.

Understand it. Known her since we were too young to work. If we’d have been dying over nothing, fine, but…

Promise could’ve slowed that Chorister.

Haven’t seen Orsina since I dropped her on the Calabrese. Don’t know if she’s on Dirt or off on a Permancer ship or what. Haven’t checked.

Got nothing to say to her, now.

What are you doing now?

Fixing shit. *chuckles* Haven’t had time to take Promise off-world since I got here.

Dirt’s pretty easy. You can breathe free, step outside free… even water’s free, just leave enough for others. So much give here.

Sloppy or unlucky can kill you, but the belt taught me a lot that’s useful. Sinkhole at Jadoc? My filter masks kept the kids breathing long enough to get fished out. Webster flood? I welded the bridge that held. It’s not just scrabbling. It’s building.

Dirt’s…

We’ve got a chance here. Something new, like Bradbury dreamed we could be on Mars. Fleet’s holding on. Dirt’s building up. Kids from the sinkhole’re doing okay.

Couple still have bad dreams, imagine they heard things.

Dirt’s home now, right? It’s ours, free and clear, thank the Permancer.

Sure they meant well. Only.

Have dreams myself sometimes.

Bradbury said things about free dirt.


After the War is a science-fiction tabletop roleplaying game of memetic horror by  and . Ten years have passed since the end of the galactic war, and now we rebuild our new home on this alien frontier world. Back the Kickstarter to tell your own stories on Dirt.

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Towards the dark of the year

A simple carving job, but a pleasant result.

Barrelling on at high speed towards winter, now. Hallowe’en was nice, if quiet; we resorted to putting a jack o’lantern out on the front porch and a small sign asking people to follow the honour system, and then refilling the candy bowl regularly.

I’m working on NaNoWriMo, but rather than aiming for thousands of words, I’m aiming for hours of editing. It’s going pretty well so far; I’ve revised one story, and done the first half of my revisions on another.

(The first story I revised, I’ve also come up with an idea for another change to it that I think will make it stronger, so it’s not exactly done yet. I’m just figuring out how to make the change I want without completely altering the tone.)

If you ever find a good crit group, by the way, treasure them for they are absolute gold. Sometimes you genuinely do not see what is wrong with a story and then three people very gently tell you that you appear to have started a 21-page story on page 9.

Also, the Kickstarter for After the War kicks off on Monday, and I’ll be sharing my story “Interview with Cortesa Singh” then! Hoping you enjoy it.

Someone left the clock running. (It might have been me.)

Greyscale head-and-shoulders illustration of a woman with glasses in a space jumpsuit.
Seriously, isn’t it lovely? Belters unite.

First off, you may note that my avatar has changed; it is currently an illustration by Claudia Cangini in the vein of the After The War RPG, which will be debuting on KickStarter in a few weeks–on November 12–at which point I’ll be able to share the story I wrote for it.

October was a one-convention, one-conference, one-vacation month in the middle of crunch time, which means the time off was lovely but also extremely dense. Coming back to work has been a bit of a shock, but I think I’m catching up on things again.

A final note: I went to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and would love to go again; I have not taken notes like that since university, and I feel like my brain is still digesting quite a bit. It was lovely to see people (I finally met Cat Rambo in person!), it struck me as an incredibly well-planned conference, and there was karaoke.