Melissa Yuan-Innes. Iron Monk. (Interzone #228, May-June 2010)

An altogether darker take on space exploration than is the norm. It’s a claustrophobic story set on a Chinese space mission to respond to an alien message received from our solar system. No noble heroes here, but ‘volunteers’ who have been sent up after a number of previously failed missions by their political masters, both governmental and corporation.

The odds are stacked against them when their radiation shielding fails, and with concern over who might be the spy amongst them, and radiactive poisoining taking effect, rescuing the mission and, indeed decided what the mission is to be, is the order of the day.

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