Monday, June 8, 2020

The Archronology of Love, by Caroline M. Yoachim

Lightspeed Magazine, April 2019 

Dr. Saki Jones was on the way to the New Mars colony, to do research but also to join her lifelove, MJ, also a scientist with the colony.

On the way, first they learn that a plague has broken out, suspected to be from the alien artifacts found on the planet. They've been looking for a virus or something similar, as the cause, but without success. Then MJ, and the rest of the colony, are all dead.

Now their mission is to find the cause. And because they don't know how to protect themselves from the unknown cause, they need to do that from orbit. They will need to use the Chronicle, a complete, immersive record of everything that has happened on the colony, which, however, they can only access any given part of it once. Collecting the data means it's effectively erased from the Chronicle. So this needs to be done with care.
The other issue, of course, is that because it's an immersive experience, the possibility exists of seeing the now-deceased member of the colony. For Saki, that most importantly means MJ, but every member of her scientific team has lost someone.

That's one set of problems. However, there is also the problem that the cause of the plague is very, very different from what they are initially assuming, both in nature, and in intent.

It's a fascinating story, tied up with two fundamentally different views of the universe.


I received this story as part of the Hugo Voters packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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