"Six Questions About the Sun" by Brian Conn
A rambling intro to the story I mentioned in my last post--I'm sure I've mentioned a number of times how much I enjoy Italo Calvino's stories. I first encountered him through Invisible Cities, which remains among my favorite books even after having read it multiple times, then moved on to Castle of Crossed Destinies, which I also enjoyed and hope to reread soon. My absolute favorite, and one that always comes up when people ask for my favorite books in general is If on a winter's night a traveler. But the real reason I bring up Calvino in connection with this story is two of his other books (both also very enjoyable), Cosmicomics and t zero. Both are a series of stories that essentially take scientific history, especially astronomy, and have a character with an unpronounceable name narrate his recollection of that time--from the Big Bang to the separation of the moon from the earth to the evolution of species. Not that it treats these with rigorous scientific examination--Calvino takes a theory (and it doesn't ultimately matter if the theory fits the best data or not), and spins a whimsical tale from that premise.
So these are the stories that "Six Questions About the Sun" reminds me of. It's a whimsical story about the sun that doesn't match any current scientific knowledge of the sun and about an explorer (Tariq the Cosmonaut) who sailed there, about the poisons and doors on the sun and the little winged creatures who bring the sun its fuel. Like I said, pure whimsy...and great fun. I won't say any more about the story itself, but do go and read it. The story first appeared in Sybil's Garage No. 3, and they are making it available on their website.