Brad R. Torgersen. Ray of Light. (Nebula Awards Showcase 2013)

nebula2013Originally in : Analog December 2011.

Due to alien intervention, humanity (or what remains of it) is ekeing out an existence on the ocean beds, cut off by thick layers of ice atop the ocean (atop is a good Analog word!). What could be a simple Analog daring rescue mission story is something quite different. The daring rescue mission isn’t daring at all, and doesn’t require any scientific cleverness, as the protagonist, a dad, knows exactly where his runaway teen daughter has gone.

What the story offers that many in Analog don’t (or didn’t, when I read it regularly) is a bit more about people, and a bit less about science. True there is science in there – out on a submarine journey the protagonist ‘paseed one of the black smokers – chimneys made of materials deposited by the expulsion of superheated water along the tectonic ridge’. And there’s the intriguing alien ‘intervention’.

But the story features a broken marriage, a suicide, and a deeply unhappy child, and it paints a bleak picture of life in extremis. And it’s the children who are the future, and the ending was a little cheesy for me (“Hang on, little one. Dad’ll be back soon.”) Perhap a followup to see if the youngster can lead a path to reclaiming Earth for humanity?

Runner up in the novelette category to Geoff Ryman’s ‘What We Found’.

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