A Passion for Pluto

For ten years I have waited for TUESDAY.

A decade ago, I read about New Horizons, a planned space probe launch to the strange dwarf-planet with an erratic 248-year orbit that defines the edge of our solar system and the beginning of the vast and lonely reaches of interstellar space.  A probe to Pluto!

Pluto and sun and Charon-0-11BD50C2000005DC-576_634x356

Artist conception of sun and Charon moon from Pluto https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Southern_Observatory

Ten years was a long time to wait, so I didn’t. Calling on the power of the pen, I wrote a short story about a woman, a survivor of a crash of the first manned mission to Pluto. In a bold moment, I sent the manuscript to Marc Buie, one of the mission’s experts, and he was gracious enough to take the time to edit it for accuracy.Pluto

Although I have now published historical novels and non-fiction, this story became my first published piece, finding a home in Aeoff’s Kiss, a small magazine (and netting me $8.97 and much pride over my long-sought elevation to “professional” writer).  Accompanying my check was the editor’s kind note that this was “one of the best stories his magazine had ever accepted” –words that kept the spark of my writer’s soul alive through many dark nights.

Over the years, I followed the scientific discoveries and mysteries about Pluto, updating my story with new information.  Strangely, some of the inventions I employed to make the story work are now on the table as bon fide scientific theories! I also never dreamed I would have a personal connection, but my brother, Dan Katz, (an Alabama boy) has just joined the Space Exploration Sector of the Applied Physics Lab at John Hopkins. That’s the group (with Southwest Research Institute) that originally put together the probe for NASA and has been shepherding it on its long journey.  I’m sure he was sweating along with the team on July 4th when the probe “got too excited and passed out.

It will take 16 months for all the data to get in, but Tuesday (7/14/15) New Horizons is scheduled to start sending the closest-ever photos and data about this mysterious planet, named after the mythological Greek god of the underworld who stole the maiden Persephone from her mother, dragging her to his kingdom beneath the earth and bringing winter to the world.

To celebrate, I’d like to share my story with you.

Pluto’s Chrysalis
by T.K. Thorne

Eternity is subjective. I’m spending mine clawing into nitrogen-methane snow and dragging my body by painful centimeters from the ship’s wreckage. My helmet monitor lists internal bleeding, spinal injury, and two fractured ribs. Legs don’t work. Breathing hurts. Easier to just let the cold take me or for a piece of the ship to fall on my head and end it, but I’m a stubborn woman, as my father would attest, were he not three billion miles away.

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T.K. Thorne is a retired police captain (Birmingham, Alabama), director of City Action Partnership, and an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction.


About T. K. Thorne

T.K. is a retired police captain who writes books, which, like her blog, roam wherever her interest and imagination take her.
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19 Responses to A Passion for Pluto

  1. Reblogged this on Random Storyteller and commented:
    Check out this story by my friend and author, T.K. Thorne. She writes historical fiction as well as nonfiction–all imaginative and meticulously researched. She recently released Angels at the Gate, a well-received novel. Check out her Goodreads page! http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3166354.T_K_Thorne Enjoy!

  2. Dan Katz says:

    Looks very good and reads very well.  Love, D

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

  3. T.K. Thorne says:

    Thanks for the reblog, Catherine! So glad you enjoyed.

  4. T.K. Thorne says:

    So proud of you!

  5. Bea dM says:

    Fantastic that you started your publishing career with this story! I signed in on the New Horizons CD before it launched, but hadn’t yet decided to activate “the power of the pen”. Good story and more important, lesson I shall remember!

  6. T.K. Thorne says:

    Thanks for the note and happy to connect with other stargazers! My first love was science fiction. It stirred my imagination in dramatic ways!

  7. This was an awesome read! I love the references to life and death…perceptions of all.

  8. T.K. Thorne says:

    Thank you! It has always been a favorite story of mine. Makes me happy to share it!

  9. Patricia Steele says:

    I loved this story! Thank you for sharing it.

    Patricia Steele http://www.patriciabbsteele.com


  10. T.K. Thorne says:

    Thank you for taking the time to let me know!

  11. Bea dM says:

    same here, difference is huge time-lag in trying to connecti to my writing persona 🙂 will be looking up your books…

  12. T.K. Thorne says:

    🙂 Love to hear from you when you do!

  13. Stephen Edmondson says:

    It takes a mighty talent to combine thoughts on the far Pluto with a young woman adventurer, keep it all correct, technically as well as true to the ancient Greeks and their Gods and fallen, and make it so very interesting that I was saddened to see it end. TK, is there a Harper Lee-like prequel/sequel coming? After all, tomorrow is the official “Pluto Mockingbird Day.”

  14. T.K. Thorne says:

    Stephen, thank you for your kind comments! I think New Horizons gets first claim to the day, as it was in route long before announcement of Go Set A Watchman!

  15. Stephen Edmondson says:

    Wednesday night, 8 pm. on NOVA, program on Pluto. Stephen (I can’t see why there isn’t more excitement about a close up with Pluto, a great adventure of our time. To me, this is really, really bigtime. And I am not in line for a copy of Watchman. I have Friday’s Wall St Journal with advance copy of chap 1 and haven’t bothered to read it yet.

  16. Tina Savas says:

    As always, T.K. delivers an out of this world experience for her reader. Sublime!

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