Thursday, January 14, 2016

We Jump Down Into the Dark, by M. Bennardo

(Hard SF) Anders joins a mission to try to save two people from a colossal space station before it twists itself apart. (~5,284 words)

Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story


"We Jump Down Into the Dark," by appeared in the December 2015 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, published , by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: Anders completes the mission and rescues Jessica. The descriptions of the giant station are good, and the physics seems accurate enough.

Con: Lots of loose ends. We never learn what happened to the station, nor why Anders was so into this woman, nor why he seems to blame himself for what was clearly her fault.

4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Anders does not "rescue" the girl. And she's not a girl. She's an accomplished scientist who had the situation well under control. Why he's in trouble is the point of the story.

    1. I changed "the girl" to "Jessica." I try not to make mistakes like that, but I guess it just shows how hard it is to overcome unconscious sexism. Thanks for telling me.

      As for the other bit, it's clear that Jessica claims to have the situation under control, but it's clear that Carlo doesn't believe that. On rereading it, I still agree with Carlo, but it may depend on whether the reader thinks it's rational to risk human lives to save animal lives.

  2. It was a problem in their relationship. That's why it's over. She has to destroy the male guerrilla because he came after her. Our normal expectation is that the man will rescue the woman, but the story is subverting that theme. It's also told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator.

  3. I'm surprised you see Anders as an unreliable narrator. I don't see anything in the story that contradicts the facts that he relates about the rescue. Did I miss a key paragraph?

    The way I read it, Jessica was criminally negligent. She and Lee should have taken those evauation pods before the rescue crew ever got there. As a result of her negligence:

    1) The rescue crew had to make a dangerous docking with an unstable space station.
    2) Because she didn't even leave a note at the dock, the rescue team risked their lives searching for her on the station.
    3) She apparently ordered her subordinate to risk his life too. She should have ordered Lee to wait at the dock, or , better, put him in a pod.
    4) She didn't even confide in Lee that there was a pod nearby she meant to get to, so he couldn't convey that to the rescue team either.

    Yes, she "rescues" Anders from the bull gorilla, but that's rescuing him from a dangerous situation that she herself created.

    If you step it back a bit, this whole station is only here because she apparently thought it would be cool to put a few animals in a space habitat--despite being advised against it. The same money would surely have set up a far larger habitat on Earth.

    And what is her excuse? That she needed to try to rescue four gorillas--animals that were only in danger due to her own bad judgment.

    I can see how Anders and Carlo might face a reprimand, since Anders wasn't in shape for the mission, but they could argue that he did know the design of Eden, and he did have six hours to recover en route. I don't see any argument that would save Jessica from prosecution.