Originally in : Federations
An excellent story in it’s own right, and intriguing in the light of the few other stories by Wright that I’ve reviewed.
As Dozois’ states in the intro, it’s a clever piece of hard sf/epic fantasy – not a combination that you see that often! The central conceit is that a generation-battleship has been badly damaged in combat centuries after launch, the computer systems are down, and the crew, without access to the computer, have in effect degenerated from the genmod, nanobot supported gods that they in effect were previously. What has developed is in effect a heroic fantasy setting, with kings, knights and others in a semi-feudal state based on the various levels of the ship.
The ship is still under attack, and the erstwhile leader, Acting Captain Weston II is faced with challenges – both from the one ring that can control the computer, to others who have designs on the ring.
It’s all told in a semi-lyrical, Tolkienesque manner, redolent of both his ‘One Bright Star to Guide Them’ (F&SF April/May 2009 – link), and the much earlier, but similarly mannered ‘Guest Law’, collected by Hartwell/Cramer in Year’s Best SF #3, way back in 1998.