Neptune’s Reach and “The Children of the Wind”

by Gregory Feeley

“The Children of the Wind” [in our July/August issue, on sale now!] is a free-standing chapter from a novel in progress, Neptune’s Reach, which I began writing long ago and then set aside for other projects. Three earlier sections appeared in Asimov’s between 1986 and 1999, and others in various magazines and anthologies.

I returned to it after finishing a long novel a couple years ago, and last summer I wrote “The Children of the Wind” and a kind of sequel, “Wandering Rocks.” Through the vagaries of publishing schedules, “Wandering Rocks” appeared first, in Clarkesworld’s October 2020 issue. (Another is forthcoming in a future issue of Asimov’s.)


The planets are tiny loci of matter surrounded by immense tracts of emptiness, growing greater as one moves farther out, and it’s ridiculous to write about “visiting” them without keeping this constantly in mind.


I knew in the mid-eighties that Voyager 2’s 1989 flyby of Neptune would render much of what I wrote about Neptune obsolete, so many of the early sections will have to be rewritten when the novel is finished. And since the sections were written to stand alone, there will be revisions to make the thing work as a novel.

When I was a kid, Neptune was a neglected locale for science fiction (when Robert Silverberg assembled an anthology of stories set on each planet, he had to commission Alexei Panshin to write an original one for Neptune). This is less true today, though the aspect of Neptune that most fascinates me—its astonishing remoteness—still gets underplayed. The planets are tiny loci of matter surrounded by immense tracts of emptiness, growing greater as one moves farther out, and it’s ridiculous to write about “visiting” them without keeping this constantly in mind.

There is one other important element of the series, one that I find difficult to articulate: its preoccupation with English Romantic poetry. I believe there is a deep affinity between SF and Romanticism, something I would express in an essay if I understood it better. As it is, pretty much all I can say is “Something to do with the Sublime” and watch it recur in my fiction.


Gregory Feeley sold his first story in 1973 and has since written a number of short stories, novellas, and novels, including Arabian Wine, which first appeared here (in shorter form) in 2004. Greg took a dozen-year detour into teaching to put his kids through college, but hopes to return soon to full-time writing. He recently completed a long novel, Hamlet the Magician. After a seventeen-year absence, we’re pleased to have him back in the pages of Asimov’s.

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