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Gossamer, a 1995 short story by Stephen Baxter, begins when two women crash land on Pluto when the wormhole they were traveling through suddenly collapses.


Lvov, an atmospheric scientist, and Cobh, a pilot, crash land on Pluto, and luckily both women survive.  Cobh immediately checks the damage, sets up life support systems and sends a message requesting a “pickup”.  Lvov is more concerned with the icy environment she finds herself in, and the reader has the very picturesque experience of seeing a distant planet through her eyes.  It’s beautiful.  And through her explorations, Lvov discovers something that may be considered as life on Pluto.


I loved that I couldn’t decide which way this story was going to go: Unique, amazing discovery of life on another planet?  Or nasty flesh eating aliens emerge to kill the crash landed scientists?  It was written with a good deal of suspense, even though the author may not have intended that.  It was also written by someone who seems to know his stuff about the technicalities of space and outerspace.  My only complaint is that at times, it was a bit too technical, and therefore, distracting.  However, for me it was easy to skim the big worded paragraphs and delve into the intriguing story line.  And I was very pleased with a great surprise ending that I should have seen coming!


  • Word Count: 6,091 Words
  • Page Count: 18 Pages
  • Published: 1995
  • About the Author: Stephen Baxter has degrees in both math and engineering, (yep, all that technicality is making sense…).  He has published over one hundred short stories!  Read more about this talented author at his website.
  • Be sure to read the Author Spotlight for Gossamer at Lightspeed Magazine.


You can read Gossamer for free at Lightspeed Magazine.