If you haven’t read it yet, click here to read it. I’d much rather you read the story than read the review!
Lethem doesn’t write as much SF as he used to, so nice to see this story online in The New Yorker.
The story takes the form of a series of transmissions from one of a small crew of astronauts in Earth orbit, trapped them by a series of orbiting mines placed there by the Chinese. There’s little background to the story, which is fine, as the focus is on the letter-writer, keeping her New York-based boyfriend up to date with their situation.
The quality of the oxygen in the small ship is deteriorating, as is the health of the crew, and as are their prospects. It’s an achingly bleak story, as the letters get further apart as the outlook, and their ship, gets darker. But there’s a glimmer of humanity in the dark, cold orbit which they keep, right to the end.