Indrapramit Das. The Moon Is Not a Battlefield.
Originally in : Infinity Wars (ed Strahan, Solaris 2017).
Read in : The Year’s Best Science Fiction 35th Annual Collection (ed Dozois, St Martin’s Press 2018)
This is just the fourth story by Das that I’ve read, and all have impressed. One of those, ‘The Worldless’ was chosen by Neil Clarke in his take on the Year’s Best SF of 2017.
This story is thoughtful and powerful. Mind you, when I say ‘story’ if you are wanting a plot, and action and the like, in a traditional format, you may well be disappointed as was the Rocket Stack Rank reviewer who gave it 2 out 5, bemoaned the lack of anything other than the protagonist reflecting on their life, and did not recommend the story.
Gita is a retired ‘asura’, a soldier plucked from the Indian streets as a child and trained to be a solider on the Moon. India is the third country to have a settlement on the moon, and others have followed, and there has been a very low-level Cold War in the decades since, that has included some hostilities. Gita, now retired, is back on Earth (or at least, closer to Earth as she is now living in a slum on a space elevator) and being interviewed about her life. She reflects on her childhood and her friend who joined her as an asura, the life on the moon, the combat they were involved in, and the hopes they had for the future. That future has changed, with the advent of FTL, and against all expectations the moon has been de-militarised as humanity looks to spread across the galaxy. There’s a touching vision of the future from Gita for :
I pray that the humans who will sail past light and into the rest of the universe find grace out there, find a way to bring us closer to godliness. To worlds where we might start anew, and have no need for soldiers to fight, only warriors to defend against dangers they they themselves are not harbingers of. To worlds where our cities have no slums filled with people whose backs are bent with the bravery required to hold up the rest of humanity.
It’s a touching ‘story’. Watch out for it on the SFWA Nebula Award nominations sez I. 2 out of 5 stars indeed…