Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beyond the Aquila Rift, by Alastair Reynolds (author), Tom Dheere (narrator)

Ifinivox, February 2008

This is a really nicely done short, making very effective use of compression and mood.

Humans have colonized "the Bubble," the local region of our arm of the Milky Way, relatively free of dust. They've done it using a network of FTL travel gateways left behind by some ancient space-faring species they know nothing about except that they left this network behind. Humans have learned how to use, but don't fully understand it or the principles on which it works--so sometimes, things go wrong. Ships wind up somewhere other than where they expected to go, and the crew is just stuck with the problem of getting home again. Depending on how far off course that is, that might take days, or weeks, or months.

Or years.

The captain of the Blue Goose is awakened from his surge tank to find that he's not where he expected. How far off course is he? A familiar face, an old lover, Greta, hedges for a while but eventually tells him he's weeks out of his way. Once his ship is repaired, and he and his crew can make their way home, they'll be at least forty days behind their scheduled arrival date. It's upsetting, but it's a risk every spacer crew takes.

And then he starts to notice little discrepancies. Where is he really? And why was Greta here to meet him, rather than some random stranger?

It's a really compelling story which delivers a nice punch at the end.

Recommended.

I borrowed this story from a friend.