Excellent hard SF from Johnson, that has a strong narrator and interpersonal interplay and characterisation and psychology on top of the science and technology.
“O my Boyo, my love, my son” the story starts, intriguingly. The story is being told by a mother, to her son (don’t read on much ahead if you don’t want to have your future enjoyment of the story spoiled – if you like short SF then get ahold of this issue).
The setting is an interesting one, humans playing a role in transmitting data across the galaxy, working on spaceships that due to the nature of the task cut off their crew, forever, from the rest of humanity. I’m guessing Johnson would have ideally inserted a graphic at the point where the reason for this is explained, but doesn’t do this, making the narrator explain to the reader how to draw out the diagram instead!
The story unfolds with previous choices having been made and their consequences, and the mother-son relationship which underpins the story evolves, even though the two are so far distant. There’s depth to the story and it flows smoothly, leaving you with a glimpse of a setting and characters that you would have liked to have learnt more about.