Blue Collar Space

Blue Collar Space

Blue Collar Space is the name for Martin’s series of near-space, near-future hard science fiction stories. These stories are set on Luna, on Mars, in Jupiter orbit, and everywhere in between. It includes the award-winning stories “Scramble” (second place, Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award, 2012), “Unrefined” (third place, Writers of the Future, 2014), and “Racing to Mars” (first place, Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Analytical Laboratory award, 2016), as well as numerous other short stories, novelettes, and novellas. His novella “Murder on the Aldrin Express” was reprinted in Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection.

Martin Shoemaker’s ‘‘Black Orbit’’ is more conventional Analog adventure, and a very good example of such, with an internal affairs spy in the Jupiter system uncovering evidence of criminal activity, and having to find a way to get that information back to Earth, even if she dies, even despite the harsh reality of orbital mechan­ics. Add in some nice speculation about the ‘‘trust economy,’’ and about AIs with minds of their own, and you have a really solid story. — Rich Horton, Locus Online

The Corporation of Tycho Under

Sited in, around, and under Tycho Crater, the Corporation of Tycho Under is one of the United Cities of Free Luna. Originally a mining colony, Tycho Under almost failed; but the Bader brothers bought the site and converted it into farms and logistics to support their mining operations. Today it is a thriving city, and the location of these stories…

Father-Daughter Outing

Eliza Wall is a space-happy preteen living in the tunnels of Tycho in the early years. When her father takes her on a trip to check out mining operations, she gets more adventure than she bargained for!

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The Night We Flushed the Old Town

Decades after “Father-Daughter Outing”, Eliza Wall is now the owner and manager of the Old Town Tavern, the best bar on Luna… until the night of “that smell”! Can a bunch of barflies save the city from ecological disaster?

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A story of search-and-rescue on the Moon. It was awarded second place in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest.

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  • Coming Fall 2017 in The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade:

Not Another Vacuum Story

Think you’re smart enough to survive on the Moon? So did Kenneth. A story from Lunar Survival School.

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Sense of Wonder

An actor/scientist makes an important discovery. Available as an eBook short story:


The Red Planet is humanity’s next home. These are stories of its exploration and settlement.

Not Close Enough

The first manned Mars expedition orbits the planet, but with orders not to land. Can the captain of the Bradbury enforce these orders?

Not Far Enough

The second Bradbury expedition becomes a disaster, and Captain Nick Aames and his crew must find a way to survive – as a team, or not at all. This is chronologically the first Carver and Aames story, and is the bridge between “Not Close Enough” and “Racing to Mars”. Coming in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Summer 2017.

The Pournelle Settlements: Life in Jupiter Orbit

In A Step Farther Out”, Dr. Jerry Pournelle did the math and showed how an asteroid civilization makes no sense. Asteroid mining can work, but a central “capitol” is too difficult to reach. It takes less fuel to land on Earth or Mars and take off again than to rendezvous with a particular asteroid. But he ended with a better alternative: the Jupiter system. Jupiter’s mass makes the system easier to reach than most asteroids; and the gas giant has captured many moonlets that are suitable for mining.

The Pournelle Settlements are Martin’s depiction of Dr. Pournelle’s idea: a loose affiliation of mining settlements, science missions, and other ships and stations in orbit around Jupiter.


“Unrefined” tells what happens when the visionary dies and his widow and his best friend must keep his vision alive to save their space colony. When Wilson Gray dies trying to save his refinery station from sabotage, Leeanne Gray and Sam Pike must find a way to fulfill the station’s contracts. In space, if you don’t pull your weight, you don’t eat! So a city’s survival depends on them. This story won third place in the first quarter of Writers of the Future Volume 31.

Black Orbit

An agent from the System Initiative gives her life to reveal evidence of Initiative corruption in the Pournelle Settlements. Now Inspector Park Yerim must find a way to trust Bradley Stewart from Gray City, because no one else can help her to recover the evidence.

The Aldrin Express: The Carver and Aames stories

Colonel Buzz Aldrin has a vision: a Mars cycler, a ship which can orbit from Earth to Mars and back, with only minimal fuel for course correction along the way. Despite the trips being long and slow, he has described the cycler as an “express”, in the sense of a direct trip with no stops along the way.

Inspired by Buzz, Martin envisioned the Aldrin Express, a cycler ship, along with her irascible Captain Nick Aames and his patient friend Chief Anson Carver. Carver and Aames stories have become extremely popular with readers of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

Racing to Mars

This is chronologically the first Aldrin Express story (though not the first published). Dr. Constance Baldwin’s career is in ruins, until she signs aboard the maiden voyage of the Aldrin. There she must deal with a bratty billionaire’s son, his intriguing Nigerian bodyguard, and that overbearing bastard, Nick Aames. Analog readers named this their favorite novelette of 2015 in their Analytical Laboratory awards.

Murder on the Aldrin Express

This is the story that introduced Carver and Aames to the world. Misanthropic space captain Nick Aames tries his best to hide from his passengers on the return voyage from Mars, until accusations arise that one of the Mars explorers was murdered. Meanwhile Chief Anson Carver also avoids a passenger: Tracy Wells, his former fiancée… and a suspect in the murder!

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  • Martin’s first appearance in Year’s Best Science Fiction:
  • Contains an audio version of this story:
  • Another appearance of “Murder on the Aldrin Express”:

Brigas Nunca Mais

Over the course of their own wedding, Carver tells Tracy the story of why Nick hates weddings.