Personally I think this is one of my weaker stories, but I know other people quite like it. This was my first sale to Kasma SF. Initially I was trying to make a statement about the way human beings look at everything like it's just there for them. Whether it's outerspace or dataspace, we just view it as something else for us to consume. It's a difficult point to explain, because I've got no problem with us living in these spaces, but it's our attitude towards them, whether we choose to live there or not, that I have a problem with. It's one thing to live in a forest, and say "I live in the forest", it's another thing to say "This is my forest, and I can do with it as I wilt". The way we assume that every newly discovered territory is ours, and no-one else would be living there, or that we'd be the apex predator there, is something I find a little disgusting. The universe isn't there for our benefit, we are something that has popped out of it for a bit, and we'll return to dust when our time is past.
This doesn't come over very strongly in the story, but it's there in the final scenes. Somehow the story pretty profoundly lost sight of its original intent. Maybe that's a good thing, because the point has strong overtones of post-colonialism, and I've seen that ideology used to often as a fig-leaf and excuse for racial hatred. These days I don't want to be associated with politics that is slowly turning rotten, my only interest is in the question of whether it's possible to have a politics that doesn't gradually degrade into tribalism and hate, and so far the evidence seems to be piling up for the 'no' position.
It's difficult for me to reread this story without getting angry, because this was one of the stories that requires_hate used in order to slander me. There's a lesbian character in here, and requires_hate declared she was a stereotype and I was homophobic and misogynist and god knows what else, and all the loony lefties of science fiction went along with it. I was a cis-gendered-straight-white-male after all, and we all know what they're like, right? Well, I shouldn't have been surprised, they'd already gone along with her calls for people to be murdered and statements that 'ex-pats' should go home. Truth is the character was based upon people I'd met, and at the time it was still the case that you'd rarely see positive gay characters in fiction, and I wanted to write someone who was very openly gay but also a good friend to those around them. But it seems requires_hate, a lesbian herself supposedly, only wants to see conventionally physically attractive gay characters in fiction. Well, now we know that requires_hate's agenda wasn't political anyway, it was purely personal. She was just hacking ideology to eliminate her fellow writers. In the end, I'm not angry at requires_hate, and I respect her skill in manipulating people (I don't approve, you understand, but you have to respect such a high level of craft). I'm angry at her supporters, all the legions of clever-clever people who think they're so moral, and will look down their noses at you and call you 'regressive', but then get completely owned by a sociopath, and don't even have any shame about it. But then, of course, I've seen such people before in a religious context (which is one reason why I used to be so down on the major religions). The 'holier than thou' crowd are always the first followers of fascism.
Gah. You see? I said I was getting angry. Now all these stories are touchstones to disillusionment for me.