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Internet Review of Science Fiction

posted Nov 27, 2009, 9:40 AM by Jonathan Sherwood   [ updated Dec 21, 2009, 8:32 AM ]

- Lois Tilton, 1/10/2006

Ignition. Tessa’s head snapped back in its cradle and her lips slid away from her teeth. The shock slapped the fog off the inside of her helmet and misted her face.

This is science fiction. Hard science fiction — the Real Stuff, not the so-called “hard SF” that’s nothing more than galactic adventures and thrilling space battles, in which a futuristic veneer overlays the fantastic core. Here, the wormhole is the only concession to unreality. Very rarely do we see this kind of fiction these days, and more rarely still do we see it done this well.

The story is not a complex one. Tessa’s destination is the remote ring of a star bridge in transit, a wormhole portal that, once in place, will enable travel from Earth to another world. She has piloted many of these missions, but this time she discovers that a nearby singularity has pulled the ring off-course, with potentially disastrous consequences. Now she must work against time to solve the problem by doing math. I am not the reviewer to check the author’s calculations, but Sherwood writes his physics with such authority that I feel no tremor of doubt threatening my suspended disbelief. Nor does he neglect the human element. As time inexorably runs out, the tension rises; readers can feel the sense of urgency driving Tessa’s desperate efforts.

According to the editorial blurb, this is Sherwood’s first fiction sale. Science fiction now seems a bit less moribund.