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Questions, Answers and Updates

In this transmission, we chat with two recent Signals contributors before announcing our next publication.

Q&A: S. A. Sackinger

S. A. Sackinger's short story "For Want of a Nail" was featured in Signals #2.

1. Your story “For Want of a Nail” is something of a comedy of errors. Describe how you came up with the idea.

My initial thought harkens back to my short story in the previous anthology, Into the Unknown, “Oort”. In the story a crew member does EVA to fix a part. I got to wondering what it would take to make it impossible to get to. My funny bone did the rest.

2. As we already know, space travel can be filled with unexpected perils. (Apollo 13 comes immediately to mind.) In your opinion, will the technology that powers our spacecraft become more or less reliable?

The technology will have to get more reliable. Here on earth, we have a complete eco system (atm) to fall back on. As we go further and further from our home system, we will have zero wiggle room.

3. Your story features a nautical, military model for crew interactions. Do you have a favorite example of a “navy in space” story, either written or in other media?

I’ve been a big fan of Star Trek from when the very first episode aired the first time. They’ve wandered a bit from that, but essentially it holds as an example of how to run things.

4. Captain LaDue does not suffer fools gladly. Is this an attribute you share with your main character?

I’m cast in the role of fool too often to come down hard on those who follow my path.

5. Finally, tell us about what you’re currently work on, and where readers might be able to find more of your writing.

Currently I’m working on a novel; working title is Time Well. It’s science fiction and fantasy within the same story. Two of my favorite short stories that I’ve written are in the 2021 anthology/art e-book put out by Coventry Press in the UK.


Q&A: Vera M. Key

Vera M. Key's short story "Master of Improvisation" was also featured in Signals #2.

1. “Master of Improvisation” is a tale of trainee mechanics undertaking a difficult test in order to prove their qualifications. Describe how you came up with the story.

I started writing a story about graduation and it came to my mind to write about an exam, something that seems benign at first but then takes on more sinister tones. I was also inspired by reality shows where people are supposed to prove what they can in a public test, except that in my story the stakes are higher. Much higher, as it turns out.

2. The story describes a future where the less fortunate are forced to perform dangerous work for the chance to lift themselves out of poverty. What, if any, real-world parallels did you draw from while writing it?

Unfortunately, this is the reality of our present world, not just something that might happen in the future. I was mostly inspired by the migration taking place from the “third world” countries (and what an unfortunate term that is) into the richer countries, with people being desperate enough to risk their lives to come to a place where they hope to find prosperity.

3. Your setting is one where humans have colonized planets outside our solar system. If you lived in such a future, would you remain on Earth or depart for the stars?

I used to think that I would just up and go into the unknown if only given a chance, but that was before I started my own family. Right now, there are just too many people I’d miss if they could not go with me, so probably I’d stay.

4. Your main character, Vinny, is a master of improvisation (hence the title). Is this a trait you share?

I think so. I am quite good at adapting to the circumstances, and I got to practice a lot. I think that’s one of the most important survival traits and I wanted my main character to be good at it because Vinny is a survivor.

5. Finally, what are you currently working on? Is there a place readers can find more of your writing?

I’m working on a SciFi story for the upcoming anthology of the Lower Decks Press, as well as on the last part of my romance trilogy The Neighbor. That book promises not to be a romance at all, but a touching story about a friendship between a former prostitute turned nurse and her elderly patient. For more information about my work, readers can visit my website

And finally ... announcing our second anthology!

Following up on the success earlier this year of our introductory publication, Into the Unknown: A Science Fiction Anthology, Lower Decks Press is excited to announce that work has begun on a new anthology of short science fiction. We've chosen a theme, polled potential contributors for interest, and targeted Spring 2023 for its release.

Stay tuned to our news feed for further details!


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