Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Respite, by Catherine Wells

★★★★☆ Well-written with a surprising outcome.

(SF Drama) An immortal man returns to a space station he designed over a thousand years ago to see if anyone still uses it, and if the inhabitants need help. (5,579 words; Time: 18m)

"Respite," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 03-04|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.104 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story comprises two plot threads: Obviously there’s Rafe’s attempts to do something for the station, and, failing that, to do something for the people still on it. But there’s also the blooming relationship between Rafe and Sara. And the longer the story goes on, the more doomed both efforts seem to be.

Rafe and Sara are both good people, and they’re both practical people. Getting involved with each other is a bit out of character for both of them—as love often is.

The big decision at the end is quite a surprise. Yes, he could cannibalize his ship to extend the life of the station, but the people on the station themselves vote not to; they’d rather send a dozen young people back. And Rafe’s decision to stay with Sara is both a surprise and not one; he’d already said he had trouble relating to other immortals and trouble being accepted by “perishers.” Staying here and dying with his creation solves that problem and lets him spend his last years with someone he loves.

Con: It’s a little hard to believe he came that far without all the parts he’d need to repair the station. It’s also hard to believe he had no way to send a communications drone of some kind.

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