Saturday, April 9, 2016

High Jack, by Bud Sparhawk

(Hard SF) At 51, Phil is ready to take one last big risk and retire, so he leaves Mars to take a job supervising orbital construction on Amalthea at Jupiter. (~6,000 words)

Rating: 2, Not Recommended

"High Jack," by appeared in Trajectories (edited by Dave Creek), published by .

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

Pro: This is a very interesting tale of blue-collar workers doing dangerous work in space. Sometimes it's exciting, sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's both. We like Phil, and we're happy for him at the end.

Con: The science errors are just too numerous to overlook, and they keep destroying suspension of disbelief. For example, the trip to Jupiter takes seven months, which is pretty quick--clearly they've got a lot of energy to burn. But why does their ship fly past the Earth's orbit? If Jupiter is that far away in its orbit, they've really got energy to burn! But then they loop by Europa and Io on the way in, as though they were very short on energy and needed some sort of gravitational assist.

Construction material sent from Europa to Amalthea should arrive in just a few days on a minimum-energy orbit, but instead it takes months. Worse, it's on a spiral orbit," even though no such (unpowered) orbit is possible.

The story says that Jupiter's intense electromagnetic fields made communication impossible, and yet NASA has already sent at least one probe into the Jovian atmosphere, and it had no problems. A laser-com link would have zero problems as well. The only reason for this is that without inability to communicate, most of Phil's problems would be solved easily.

There's a certain amount of as-you-know-Bob dialogue. Not enough to sink the story by itself, but enough to be irritating. 

No comments (may contain spoilers):

Post a Comment (comment policy)