Back in the days of Usenet, I started to put together a bibliography of science fiction that were built around baseball. One of the stories on that list is Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars.” Originally published in Robinson’s collection The Martians, a companion collection of short fiction to supplement his Mars trilogy that included Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. Four months after “Arthur Sternback Brings the Curveball to Mars” was first published in the UK, it made its US debut in the August 1999 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, one month before the collection would be released in the U.S. by Bantam Spectra.
Since that time, the story has been reprinted in Robinson’s collections A Short, Sharp Shock, The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson, and Stan’s Kitchen and the anthologies Future Sports, The Hard SF Renaissance, New Skies, and Field of Fantasies (a collection of speculative fiction baseball stories). Demonstrating that interest in baseball is not limited to the US, the story has been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Romanian, in all but the last case as part of the original collection. The Romanian translation appeared in Sci-Fi Magazin. …
Robinson won the Hugo Award for his novels Green Mars and Blue Mars. He won the Nebula for Red Mars, the first novel in the series, as well as for 2312 and for his novella “The Blind Geometer.” Red Mars also won a British SF Association Award, the Ignotus Award, and the Seiun Award. Green Mars won the Ignotus Award, the Italia Award while Blue Mars won the Prix Ozone. He won a World Fantasy Award for the novella “Black Air” and his novel Pacific Edge received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
“The Part of Us That Loves” was originally published in Full Spectrum 2, edited by Lous Aronica, Shawna McCarthy, Amy Stout, and Pat LoBrutto in 1989. Robinson included the story in his 1991 collection Remaking History and that same year it was translated into French.
The city of Zion, Illinois was founded in 1901 as a religious community. Although it has become a more traditional community over the years, Robinson uses its religious background as an effective setting for “The Part of Us That Loves.” The tale feels like two completely separate stories, though the first half provides the means of understanding the second.
The first half focuses on Naomi and Tom, two teenagers in the community band preparing for a concert in honor of two residents who are both celebrating their one hundredth birthday. The two are interested in each other, although they aren’t sure how to pursue that interest.