Aero One: A Hayden’s World Short Story

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Aero One: A Hayden's World Short Story

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...It is a very good hard sci-fi story and for fans of that genre I'd rate it 5. ...

It starts with a bang, literally as Jia’s spacecraft is exploding. She’s working a Uranus mining operation, hit by pirates, and now she and her co-worker Ping are trapped inside a burning ship. Even if they escape it, there are still the pirates to worry about.

I can’t fault the science. This is hard scifi, the maths has been worked out, and the events thought through and plotted out carefully. Normally this would be the type of story I would adore, and I will say I enjoyed parts of it. However it just didn’t really click, for several reasons.

One thing that weakened the story slightly for me is the characters. Ping is the genius, if geeky, engineer, and Jia the brave, brash, plucky heroine and that’s all we really get to see about them. They have similar speech patterns, and no distinct personalities really come across. The focus is on the science, which means that sometimes people make poor decisions to progress the plot. For example, expect a standard British villain using euros (?), who is fortunately not bright as he gives them his face twice (once direct to their cameras) and tells them his ships’ names. Until that point he could have plead innocence, but in a digital world even if it takes time to get out you can’t get rid of data once it is there. And seriously, if you follow historical pirates, Jia’s lucky and not very bright. If he had reacted the way pirates historically did to her actions, she, her co-worker, their station, and their aerostats would have ended up a very messy warning to any other spacers who thought they would get smart.

Normally a sci-fi story expects that the author will read along and get the gaps filled in, but this takes a bit much for granted. It feels as though we need a bit more explanation of the world, up front. Instead of refering repeatedly to Ping by name, an early reference to ‘her collegue’ or ‘her co-pilot’ could have cleared up some confusion on this reader’s part about what exactly she wanted to get from the cargo hold. (I had been watching a technician running ping tests all morning which might have contributed to the problem).

While the writing is great, and there are no notable typos or grammar errors, sometimes the author’s wordplay is too smart for its own good, or an international audience. Refering to cold air he says it stings “like January air.” Those from the southern hemisphere may spot that winter and cold are not synonomous with January. While I moved on by deciding that the protagonist was from the northern hemisphere, I shouldn’t have to rationalise something like this and some readers will be taken out of the story by things like it.

It is a very good hard sci-fi story and fans of that genre should definitely pick it up. For them I would give this a 5. However it will have little appeal to readers who are not into very hard science fiction, and even fans of space opera might find it not for them.

Rating: 3
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