James Patrick Kelly. Plus or Minus. (Asimovs, December 2010).

A sequel to ‘Going Deep’ which appeared in the June 2009 issue of Asimovs.

Mariska Volochkova is still in her mid-teens, now working as a junior grunt on a small crew on an asteroid bucket. She’s got the shadow of her famous mother hanging over her, a lecherous older boss, and difficult relationships with her fellow teen crew. Matters come to head after an accident, the Plus or Minus of the title relating to the adjustment to the Cold Equations that have to be made, and someone is going to have to step up to the plate.

The story was a tiny bit of a struggle for me, as at 50+ I’m not that engaged in teen angst story elements – I’d be more interested in the story as seen through the adults in the story. And I have to own up to a touch of concern about reading a story including teenage sexuality elements : absolutely fine with the explicit ‘sexuality’ of Kij Johnson’s ‘Spar’, so it’s not the sexuality per se, but I wasn’t at all too sure about reading the bit where the teenage girl fantasises about a fellow crewmember getting up close and personal.

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