Friday, March 4, 2011

Diving After the Moon

Short Story by Rachel Swirsky
Text and Audio published free at Clarkesworld

Norbu is an astronaut who never appreciated his mother, Jamyang's, old stories. Norbu is part of the first moonwalk for the country of Qinghai, formed from a chunk of fallen-apart China and Tibet. When everything goes to hell because of the political posturing of larger powers (Egypt and Australia!), Norbu and his crew prepare to suffocate while Jamyang begins a fantastic plot to rescue them.

The combination of astronauts and fable-like fantasy involving monkeys may jar readers at first, but it's a really funny/apropos solution that Jamyang comes up with, considering the set of rules she's playing by, and any reservations you have about how, exactly, everything is working will be resolved by the end.

Let's just say that this is definitely a Science Fiction story in my book, and the ending is sweet and sad and very well written. The mother-son dynamic is what holds the story together, but it's also a reflection on the symbolic value of manned spaceflight and the importance of storytelling.

Three common themes in modern SF, but done exceptionally well, with a heartwarming/sad/thoughtful story to back them up, also monkeys.

4.5 chains of monkeys out of 5.

No comments: