This week's story recommendation is "Jaiden's Weaver" by Mary Robinette Kowal, the reigning John W. Campbell Award winner for best new writer.
"Jaiden's Weaver" appears in Diamonds in the Sky, an on-line anthology of science fiction stories illustrating concepts of astronomy, which Mike Brotherton assembled on a grant from the National Science Foundation. A few of the stories are reprints but most are original, and the original tales come from an impressive list of contributors including Kowal, David Levine, Wil McCarthy, Jerry Oltion, Alma Alexander, Jeffrey Carver, and Daniel Hoyt. Because the stories are meant to be instructive to students, several of them have a young adult feel.
"Jaiden's Weaver" falls in that category, and it is as good an example of YA science fiction as has seen print since Robert Heinlein was still with us. Set on a habitable ringed planet, "Jaiden's Weaver" illustrates the concept of planetary rings. The rings come into play, but the story is mainly about a young woman, Jaiden, desperate to acquire her own teddy bear spider. Her earnestness will put veteran SF readers in mind of Kip from Have Space Suit--Will Travel, yet the tale feels fresh, particularly when Jaiden starts giving parental advice, and should appeal to contemporary young readers.
I enjoyed "Jaiden's Weaver" from start to finish, and now I can't wait to read it to my daughter.