The Siren of Titan
Seven people on a spaceship go out looking for a long-lost colony vessel, and find it.
The light off the Kraken Mare shone warm and inviting, but Andreas knew that even if he'd been close enough to feel its reflection on his face, it wouldn't have been like the mornings of his childhood, standing at the edge of the Aegean Sea and letting the sunrise bake into his skin. Maybe this very light had cast itself over those same sparkling waters -- he could never quite keep track of Earth rotation without the computer's help -- but that would have been at best over an hour ago. By now, it was little more than a dream of sunlight, his sunlight. It shone and carried on into the black and left little of itself below.
From fairyninjas.wordpress.com: "Astronauts seek out the answer to the mystery of a vanished colony ship on Titan, and find most of my worst nightmares on the way."
The Siren of Titan is unconnected to other stories and universes.
Got a whole issue about underwater things? Let's write a whole story about space.
Of course, everything in this is a water hat-tip, right down to the name of the Yemanya, which was originally the Sirène, until I figured that was just to repetitious, considering the title. I went with the Cuban spelling of her name mostly because I thought it was pretty.
For the crew, you've got Andreas, Darya, Tengiz, Ione, Youko, Morgan, and Llyr. Cal is short for something; it's short for Calypso. Thel(xiepeia) and (Ag)Lao(phonos) are also named for various sirens; I might have gone for 'Peis', but Tsukizubon Saruko beat me to it. (Not that anyone would have noticed, but I would have noticed.)
The title itself is a nod to the Vonnegut novel The Sirens of Titan, though I haven't read it in a million billion years, so most connections between the two are coincidental. I almost co-titled it 'or, Saturn is Heaven!' for the Bradbury nod, but I didn't want to give away too much of the punchline for Martian Chronicles fans.
I've had this plotted out for a while, but watching Europa Report gave me the last aesthetic push I needed to finish it off. I feel sort of bad for setting it up like it's science fiction and then turning it into creepy ghostly alien space horror, but whatever, it's October. Folk should know better by now.
The only crew member who is not definitively associated with a dwarf nickname is Morgan, who would be (by process of elimination) Dopey, but I was proceeding on the assumption that they're actually the most-degreed person on board, and therefore it's more ironic than direct.
I defend myself from charges of Self-Lubricating Asshole Syndrome by pointing out that that's the least implausible thing that happens in this story.
Titan really does have seas! I'm not making that part up. The Kraken Mare is where most of this is set; like Titan's other seas, the Kraken Mare is made of liquid hydrocarbons, and you really don't want to breathe those. I've fudged some on the science, and setting this whole thing around the year 2300 (even with a projected hundred-year stall of human progress due to anthropogenic climate change) does give me some leeway with tech, but most everything is within some degree of scientific correctness. Blame any inconsistancies on the creepy telepathic alien psychopomp.
Final credit and much love go to The Winter Cynic, who responded to my slightly incoherent story pitch with enthusiasm and returned to me three gorgeous images. Andreas is modeled physically on Alexis Papas and Dimitris Alexandrou, who are two incredibly handsome dudes I had no idea existed before this, so I'm thrilled to know about them; Cal, on the other hand, is modeled after a whole bunch of classical statues of Ganymede, this one in particular. I love all three of the illustrations, but the last one really captures the kind of creepy, exhausted tenderness I was going for there, so I could not be a happier clam.
concept sketch of Andreas and Cal by The Winter Cynic.