Friday, April 1, 2011

Plus or Minus, by James Patrick Kelly

Stories about the routine of interplanetary space defy the relatively low likelihood of seeing such things in the next generation or so.  Plus or Minus is another kind of throwback story that got a Nebula nomination this year, much like another Asimov's story, Sultan of the Clouds.  We see people born and bred for space travel slogging through the routine of cleaning mold off the spaceship and overseeing robots doing cargo work.  Spaceships can be ugly and purely functional.  The crew are not the highly trained and selected astronauts of today, but teenage interns.  And they face the classic will-we-make-it-before-the-air-runs-out danger when an accident happens during a run.

It's fun to read, too.  Kelly uses the story to tell of teen dangers of today, like creepy people creating animated photomanips of girls they are stalking, or getting deeply involved in a realistic dream-scape (OK, that one is mildly ahead of today).  All the things SF is supposed to do.  No new ground, more like nostalgia, but I still liked it.  3 stars.

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