Monday, March 22, 2021

The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign, by Cora Buhlert

Pegasus Pulp Publications, 2020

This story is a response to a science fiction story that's rather famous, in part because of the controversy it provokes. "The Cold Equations" is about an emergency dispatch spacecraft that is, in its current mission, delivering medication to a colony world, in response to the outbreak of an outbreak of serious illness. Unfortunately, after the ship is well on its way, the pilot, Barton, discovers he has a stowaway. Because the EDS has no margin for error in its fuel and weight capacity. The stowaway, Marilyn, saw the sign banning entry when she snuck onto the EDS, but assumed the penalty would only be a fine. She just wanted to visit her brother, who is on that colony world.

In fact, because the EDS's limitations are so extreme, the penalty is death--being ejected from the ship into space.

There is some touching angst, pathos, and moralizing. In the end, Marilyn willingly stepping into the airlock to be spaced and die.

There are some really obvious problems with this setup.

The most glaringly obvious is that no one with a working brain would design an emergency dispatch ship with zero margin for error. Too many things can go wrong in what's already an emergency, or even without a pre-existing emergency. The next is why isn't the sign clearer; why doesn't it say something clear like "violators will be spaced." Why is there no lock on the entry to the ship? Why doesn't the pilot do a check of his ship before departing?

"The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign" addresses these and other issues, starting with, as suggested by the title, a crowdfunding campaign  to pay for mid-space refueling that the company won't agree to pay for. It's told through the medium of comments on the crowdfunding site, by people donating to the campaign, and in some cases those who aren't. It's told with wit and humor. The humor is perhaps better appreciated and enjoyed if you recognize who is being referenced and in some cases parodied in the user handles and their comments, but I think it will work anyway, for anyone who has read "The Cold Equations," noticed some of the issues, and wondered if the story could have ended differently.

I really enjoyed this, and do recommended. 

I received this as a free download, and I'm reviewing it voluntarily.

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