Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Bridge from Sea to Sky, by Bennett North


(Hard SF) When a collision almost severs the space elevator, Aoife and her coworkers struggle to try to save it—even though Earth is thinking of defunding it. (5,821 words; Time: 19m)

"A Bridge from Sea to Sky," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 07-08|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.380 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: There’s some good tension and excitement as Aoife tries to climb far enough to reach the electrical connections.

Con: Probably the biggest problem with the story is that it makes zero sense that Earth would defund the space elevator if it were able to make money. Failing all else, there would be companies asking to buy it rather than have it decommissioned—especially if no one had a cheaper way to put payload into orbit.

A more technical complaint is that no asteroid could hit a satellite unexpectedly. We’d know about it years in advance. The story probably means a meteor, but then it’s a weird extra complication; why doesn’t the meteor just hit the elevator directly? The satellite never figures in the story again.

Then there are the errors in the basic physics. At 25,000 km altitude, a space elevator would be moving at about 8200 km/hr, not “nearly 700 km/hr. Gravity at that height (net of centrifugal force) would be about 1/40 of a g, so objects would fall slowly, but not that slowly. Untethered, you’d be falling at a brisk 14 m/s after one minute, but the folks in the story are in true zero g.

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