The theme for the anthology is the keystone—the central stone at the summit of an arch that holds the whole thing together. In this anthology, keystones are the critical elements that other things depend upon for support. As you might imagine, when the keystone is removed, things fall apart, quickly and catastrophically. Juli told us that anything could be a keystone—keystone species, pipelines, cops, beer, or ski resorts—anything at all, as long as it was speculative fiction.
I wrote TANSTAAFL specifically for Juli’s challenge and the story came together much faster than I expected. Yes, it required a fair amount of head scratching and doodling on a pad, but once the ending and the theme were decided, the story wrote itself. Unfortunately the story can’t spell worth a damn and its punctuation sucks out loud, but hey, I had to contribute something to the work.
The title? Well, that’s a tip of the hat to Robert Heinlein who popularized the acronym in his 1966 novel, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” In homage to the era, I also tried to emulate the pulp fiction writing style. Get the anthology, read my story, and let me know if I succeeded.
That’s all I am going to say about the story for now. I’m looking forward to the anthology’s publication date. I’m anxious to discover the other keystones. Aren’t you?
OK folks, you can turn up the theme music and join me in my happy dance. “Yo, Adrian!”