Star Child
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I have no recollection where the original idea for this came from. It began as a short story called "Silver Shoes for a Princess," which appeared in Destinies (Vol. 1, #5, October 1979), published by ACE Books, when Jim Baen was editor in chief there. It was about a nine-year-old girl called Taya and her robot companion, tutor, and mentor, Kort, who inhabit a mysterious structure named Merkon. We never quite find out if Mekon is a former spaceship, colony, or what, but for as long as anyone has known, it has been moving toward a star that they call Vaxis. (I was still at DEC when I wrote the story, and everything of mine at the time had an explicit or coded reference somewhere in it to a DEC computer.) The big question, of course, is, how does Taya come to be there?   The reader finds out, naturally, but to give a hint here would risk spoiling things.

The story provoked a lot of enthusiastic responses from readers, a mumber of whom demanded to know what happened when Merkon -- whatever it was -- eventually reached Vaxis -- for whatever reason. (We found out at the end of the story that it was about ten years from arrival.) So Jim Baen and I thought it would be an idea to extend the original story to a series of several linked stories telling the events that unfolded subsequently. Soon afterward, however, Jim left ACE to set up Baen Books, and the whole thing went into cold storage. But letters from readers insisting on knowing what happened continued coming in.

Years later, in 1995, I did a deal with Baen Books to write PATHS TO OTHERWHERE and BUG PARK, and Jim and I were in business together again. One of the projects we discussed was the revival of Taya and Kort, and the result was a set of four stories in one volume under the collective title STAR CHILD.

The four stories are: SILVER SHOES FOR A PRINCESS, a slightly edited version of the original story. SILVER GODS FROM THE SKY—the much-requested sequel telling what happens when Merkon reaches Vaxis. THREE DOMES AND A TOWER—set twenty years after that, and at last answering the question of what Merkon was. And THE SILENCE AMONG THE STARS, many years later still, which deals with Kort's fears of being left alone now that Taya is in her final years, and what happens when she dies. Each story captures a phase of Taya's life: childhood, a young woman, maturity, and old age. And that's probably all it would be prudent to say here.

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