The Falls: A Luna Story • 2015 • SF novelette by Ian McDonald

★★★1/2

Synopsis: Shahina is a first generation moon child, a wild daughter freeclimbing a Moon habitation’s dome. Her mother Nuur watches her falling. Interleaved is the psychotherapeutic dialogue of Nuur with an AI satellite heading for Saturn.

Review:  Last year, McDonald published his novelette The Fifth Dragon in the predecessor anthology Reach for Inifinity, both stories are in the same setting as his brand-new novel Luna: New Moon. I haven’t read the novel, but the scenery is wonderful, and this story expands it, I hope to read more of it. It varies from Fifth Dragon, which concentrates more on the capitalistic background of Moon’s society. Although the debts on water, air, carbon, and data shine through as well, this novelette discusses different topics: how Moon’s new society evolves – not only evolutionary – from Earth. It is reflected in Shahina’s motivation to escape, and her adventures with her comrades. Her climb, and finally her fall is narrated very dramatically.

I also loved the dialogue with the self-aware, desperate satellite, the sense of wonders that no human will be able to feel and facing mortality on its mission to Saturn. The idea of granting AIs emotions wasn’t dumb at all. The AI wasn’t antropomorphized but stayed strange with its different body parts and motivations. Alone the idea of a human psychotherapeuting a satellite was hilarious.

Both views touch the meaning of existence and excel with their contrast and comparison.

Meta: isfdb. This SF short story appeared 2015 in Meeting Infinity.

 

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