Set in the same ‘post-Mistake’ setting of Lake’s ‘Torquing Vacuum’, which appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine a few weeks back, and which impressed me. The story has more detail on the backhistory, the nature of the Mistake (thread-needle devices proving FTL travel, flying in the face of laws of physics, which reasserted the strength of their law), and has as the two leading characters a pair ‘Befores’, humans who date back to the Mistake, who have undergone massive genetic tweaking to live extended lifetimes, and who are hardened, both physically and mentally, to the rigours of deep space travel.
The two are ex-lovers, the same sex relationship handled tactfully by Lake, who go back many centuries. On the starship Polyphemus (whose AI is a strong third character in the story), the Captain, The Before Raisa Siddiq, has set in place a mutiny against the ship, the better to replace the AI with another brought in to replace it. The Before Michaela Cannon has to find out who is behind the mutiny, and, more importantly, why.
It’s an excellent story crying out for more background, more detail, more action, but probably the better for not having it. I’d much rather see Lake producing an ongoing series of stories and shorter novels (like Baxter’s XeeLee sequence), rather than moving on to a sequence of very fat novels (as Alastairy Reynolds has done). But I’m guessing Lake would go for the £1m Gollancz contract of Reynolds over a series of cheques for short fiction!
And having read this pair of ‘post-Mistake’ stories, it’s good to see an author producing far-future, deep space SF which succesfully merges hardware, society, and human emotions.