The Taking of IOSA 2083
I'll Never Find Another You
Inconstant Nature
Imaginary Enemies
Pink Ice in the Jovian Rings
All the Things We Gave You
Consequences of a Clockwork Theology
Love In A Time of Bio-Mal
The Unfortunate Necessity of Regular Upgrades
Exchanges in No Man's Land
The Uploaded
A Forgiveness of Wolves

End of the World

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The Taking of IOSA 2083

WHERE Read it at Kasma SF

This story was originally published in Mutation Press' hard-SF anthology "Rocket Science" edited by Ian Sales'. Ian (who unfortunately is likely someone whose politics I'd have a big problem with these days) did a spectacular job of editing the anthology, setting up a blog to document the process and producing charts and graphs showing what was being submitted to the anthology. The submissions guidelines were for hard SF set within the solar-system, and Ian produced charts of where in the solar system the stories were set, the type of story they were, the gender of the protagonist, etc, etc. Seeing these charts I realized that people tended to clump around certain attributes: certain locations, certain types of story, etc, etc. I decided my mission was to put a new slice onto every one of Ian's pie charts, to create a story that, in every dimension that Ian was measuring, was doing something that no-one else was.

For location I picked Miranda, a little-known moon of Neptune. For story type, I went with 'Heist': I've always liked noir fiction, mostly because it's set in a world I could imagine existing in, whereas I've never believed I'd get into starfleet acadamey, not having been born into the right background. The title is obviously a reference to "The Taking of Pelham 123" and I wanted to have something that was genuinely dramatic, maybe even a little pulpy, because so much SF these days is basically kitchen-sink drama set in space, which is fine, but I wanted something more... pointed.

When it came to picking the gender of the protagonist, I obviously had to pick something other than just male or female. I had to do something that none of the other authors had. I'd already written Pink Ice in the Jovian Rings by this point. One of the characters in that story was a neuter-gender artificial human (a 'neut' in the terminology of the story). Someone had commented during the critique stage "thank god you didn't make her the hero" (not that Pink Ice had much heroism) and that stuck in my mind. Why couldn't they be the hero? As someone who, frankly, has never felt I'm the protag even in my own life, I felt offended by this exclusionism. Likely it was an innocent comment that I'd misunderstood, but now the opportunity arose I decided that my protag should be a neut.

I did a lot of study for this one, making sure the SF was 'hard' enough. Much of the technology in this story is stuff that we could make now, if we wanted to: in fact I was basing a lot of details off the Apollo moon missions and other American and Soviet technology of the space-race era. It was quite shocking to realize that things that we were doing forty-plus years ago, now read like science-fiction once more. The only piece of technology that I thought really might be magical in this story, was a child's toy that can make cookies out of anything.