You may wonder why twenty-three years passed between the publication of my last novel, Wildlife, in 1994 and Mother Go in 2017. I wonder too! I do know that I was having a exhilarating writing streak with my short fiction, producing stories that won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards and which were often collected in various Best of the Year anthologies. Why not stick with what was working?
In 2009, I had the cover story in the June issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. “Going Deep” was about a young woman growing up on the Moon. She was a clone and a hibernator, in training for a career working in space, when her mother, her genetic original, returned to disrupt her life. Mariska made an immature, willful and desperate attempt to escape her mother Natalya, with unintended consequences. Some reviewers found Mariska unlikeable, but I was fascinated by her and many readers were as well. “Going Deep” was a finalist for the Nebula Award and was collected in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Four, edited by Jonathan Strahan and the Nebula Awards Showcase 2011, edited by Kevin J. Anderson.
I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to Mariska after “Going Deep” and in 2010, she was back on the cover of Asimov’s in a novelette called “Plus Or Minus.” After running away from home, she was working as a “bucket monkey” on an ore freighter inbound from the asteroid belt when a tragic accident threatened the lives of the entire crew of the spaceship. As I was writing, I was already imagining how my story might slip into the structure of what was to become Mother Go. “Plus or Minus” was a finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula and also appeared in Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Five.
In 2011, I sold “Tourists” to Jonathan Strahan for his anthology Eclipse Four. “Tourists” took place on Mars in and began the day after the conclusion of “Plus or Minus.” By this time, Mariska was dragging so much backstory behind her that I knew I couldn’t publish any more stories with clotting them with clumps of explanation. I didn't want to be writing previously on the Mariska Show style introductions.
And so I committed to the novel, although first I had to drastically rewrite the three stories to fit together as the first actof the longer work. In particular, I had to go back and account for Mariska’s life in the span between “Going Deep” and “Plus Or Minus.” This was no simple task, and the ever-present lure of writing new short stories distracted me. And coming up with the new material about space – and Mars – was hard. So much research! And of course, I wondered how readers who had read one or more of the three published stories would feel returning to the altered narratives. But I persisted, because, despite her flaws, I liked Mariska, and wanted to find out what finally happened to her.