Like military science fiction? Rich Larson’s got a fantastic story in the January issue of Clarkesworld: Extraction Request.


The story follows a group of soldiers who have been shot down, and where they find a bit more than they expected while they’re on the ground.

I love Larson’s voice in this particular story, and how he goes about laying the characters and situation out little by little.


As a point of disclosure, I published a story by Larson in my own anthology, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction.

When they finally shift the transport’s still-smoldering wing enough to drag Beasley out from where he was pinioned, for a moment all Elliot can do, all anyone can do, is stare. Beasley’s wiry arm with its bioluminescent tattoos is near sheared from its socket, and below his hips he’s nothing but pulped meat and splinters of bone.

He’s still alive, still mumbling, maybe about the woman Elliot saw in a little holo with her arms thrown around his neck, back before Beasley’s dreadlocked mane was shaved off and a conscript clamp was implanted at the top of his spine.

“His impact kit never triggered,” someone says, as if that’s not fucking obvious, as if he could have been ragdolled out of the transport otherwise.

“Is the autosurgeon trashed?” someone else, maybe Tolliver, says. Elliot’s ears are still ringing from the crash and his head swimming from what he was doing before it and all the voices seem to blend. He knows, dimly, that he should be giving orders by now.

“An autosurgeon can’t do shit for him. What’s it going to do, cauterize him at the waist?”

Read the rest here.