Friday, September 6, 2019

A Family Rendezvous, by Brendan DuBois

★★★☆☆ Mixed

(SF Thriller) A retired Air Force colonel visiting a space hotel realizes his ship is in trouble when it can’t seem to dock. But can he help? (4,460 words; Time: 14m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"A Family Rendezvous," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 09-10|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.477 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This story tells how Armand got to be a hero. It’s set up pretty well, and most of the science is plausible. We don’t learn his personal history until the very end, but that gives the story an emotional poignancy.

The spaceship is named for Chesley Bonestell, whose artwork is said to have inspired the US space program.

The story mentions STS-49, which was a Space Shuttle flight to retrieve a satellite. Things didn’t go according to plan, so three of the astronauts stood I the docking bay while the pilot maneuvered the whole shuttle close enough to the satellite for them to manage “an unscheduled but successful hand capture.”

Con: There are a few unbelievable things that detract from the story. First, there is no way the lawyers for the hotel would convince management to just let a load of tourists die outside. The bad publicity would be vastly worse than any conceivable liability.

The science is mostly plausible, but a couple of things are troubling. First, I’m very skeptical that someone could pull an entire spaceship on a tether and get it to hit the docking circle accurately enough. I’m also skeptical that the tether was strong enough to hold the spaceship in the first place. Although there is zero weight in space, inertia is unchanged.

People have had holes in their spacesuits before, and what usually happens is that skin plugs the hole. It makes a small, nasty burn, but it’s localized.

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Brendan DuBois Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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