A simple plot summary would do this story no justice : out in Jovian orbit, a spaceship encounters a very alien cloud, and changes course, headed for Mars. There is no communication with the crew, but one earth-based scientist is summoned to a rendezvous. It sounds like a Hollywood SF film, and in fact it could make a story as good as Danny Boyle’s ‘Sunshine’. But the narrative is provided through the reflective notes of the scientist who made the rendezvous, recuperating in a psychiatric institution. Some of the things she saw on the spaceship, and the things she felt, she has hidden from the rest of humanity. The cloud’s composition is being kept quiet, it supporting the panspermists, and its impact on the crew, notably the lesbian partner of the scientist, is the climax of the story, one that works well in looking at the impacts on a psychological level of events that in SF are typically shown as part of a dramatic action story.
- Asimovs. June 2010.