Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Articulated Restraint (Lady Astronaut Universe #1.5) by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor Books, ISBN 9781250241306F, February 2019

This novella is a deleted episode from The Calculating Stars, featuring Ruby Donaldson plunged into helping deal with a major emergency while trying not let the fact that she sprained her ankle the night before slow her down.

Being one of the Lady Astronauts always means having to work hard and be better to get the same recognition and respect as the men. It's not made easier by the fact that Ruby is on the diminutive side, the "Astronette."

Ruby arrives at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab for a training session with a small crew and one other astronaut, only to find that the place is bursting with activity, and four, not two, EVA suits are ready for astronauts to don them. Ryby had been at a dance rehearsal the night before--one of the few things left in her life from before the Meteor--and, having sprained her ankle, went straight to bed rather than watching the news or checking for messages. She's just now learning there was an accident in space, no deaths, but a ship now stranded, with only sixteen hours of consumables, including air. Ruby, her expected partner Eugene, and two other astronauts will be testing rescue procedures for this crisis, before they have to be put to the test in space. Find the flaws and fix them on the ground, not in vacuum and real zero-G.

If Ruby admits to the injury and is replaced, it will take twelve hours of the sixteen they have to prep a suit for another astronaut, because hers won't fit anyone else.

So into her suit she goes, and into the NBL, starts testing the rescue plan. The sprain is annoying, but manageable, until the testing reveals a problem that means the next step will bet testing the Articulated Portable Foot Restraint. That's going to really hurt, and it does.

Ruby has to keep going anyway, and along the way has to make some serious decisions.

It's just a short novella, and not originally intended as a separate story, but it's got real tension, and real characters. Thoroughly worth reading, and very enjoyable.

I received this as part of the 2021 Hugo Voters Packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily. 

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