What If

by Deirdre Kelly

A rocket science fanatic from a young age, Eric Choi (MBA ’06)) was present at the Kennedy Space Center in February 2003 when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on its return to Earth, killing all seven astronauts onboard.

The horror of the moment stayed with Choi for years, influencing his early career as an aerospace engineer, and his decision to become a writer of alternate history, a genre of science fiction where a past event is creatively manipulated to produce a different chronicled outcome.

A published author and editor of anthologies, including 2022’s Just Like Being There: A Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories, Choi recently applied his time-bending narrative skills to the Columbia disaster. His novelette, “A Sky and a Heaven,” emerged as the winner of a 2023 Sidewise Award for Alternate History at the World Fantasy Convention this past October in Kansas City, Mo.

It’s a dream come true on many levels.

“I always wished that something had been done to try and save the crew of the space shuttle,” says Choi, relishing the honour of his literary achievement. “My story provides a glimpse of what might have been.” ■

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