“Everglades” — Mira Grant

Mira Grant is an open pseudonym for fantasy writer Seanan McGuire. Under the McGuire byline, she is the author of Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, and An Artificial Night. Seanan is also a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. As Mira Grant, she is the author of the Newsflesh trilogy, the first of which, Feed, came out in May. She describes the Newsflesh books as “science fiction zombie political thrillers” that focus on blogging, medical technology, and the ethics of fear. Our next story is set in the same milieu, during a time called “the Rising,” the event that changed everything.

Steve Irwin was the host of the extremely popular Australian TV show The Crocodile Hunter. Irwin, who had been wrestling crocodiles since early childhood, took over his parents’ zoo, and married a woman who had attended one of his shows. (They didn’t wear wedding rings, as these might pose a hazard to them or the animals.) He was criticized for once holding his infant son in his arms while feeding a crocodile, though Irwin maintained that the child had been in no danger. Danger was something he lived with daily. A television ad he appeared in joked about him dying of snakebite after not choosing the fastest delivery service. He eventually did die after being attacked by a stingray while snorkeling at Great Barrier Reef. Later, several stingrays were found dead on local beaches, their tails chopped off, presumably by vengeful Steve Irwin fans.

Our next tale is also about danger, death, and wild creatures. The author says, “This story is about the inevitability of natural selection. And it’s about alligators. I’ve always had a passion for reptiles and virology, which gets you looked at sort of funny when you’re a perky little blonde girl. I have been bitten by multiple kinds of venomous reptile, and one of the most chilling things I’ve ever done was go into the Florida Everglades to see the gators. That really makes you realize that Nature has things much more efficiently designed to survive than we are. We’re just blinks of an eye to the alligator.”