Short Story The Falling by M. V. Melcer published in Clarkesworld Magazine.
I like this story. So in this story we’re in a future world where humans, no longer inhabit planet Earth, but instead have taken to the stars in the ships. It apparently has been generations since they lived on Earth because stories of living on Earth are just stories at this point.
I’m not sure if it was mentioned, but we would assume that our space travelers are looking for another planet to live on. If not, they have to be, because we soon find out that living on these space stations is just not sustainable, not even talking about as far as provisions, you know, food and water and waste disposal, but mechanical lifespan.
It’s apparent that this machinery that they live on living on might not last for eternity.
There is what they call “the monster” that keeps sucking in the spaceship. For years, generations I guess, all they’ve been trying to do is just gain enough momentum to overcome the monster’s pull. We find out, if it wasn’t already apparent that “the monster” is some large celestial body in space, like a black hole or planet or something. It is so large and close to the ship that the gravitational pull of it is sucking it into it.
In order to free themselves from the gravitational pull of this “monster.” They have to get rid of sections called rings of the spacecraft. Each ring contains 1000s of people living on them. In order to not get eaten by the monster, the engineers of the spaceship need to reduce their mass which means ejecting parts of the spaceship and killing 1000s of people. They never fully free themselves from the monster’s grip, but give themselves more time to live another day.
And I won’t spoil the rest of the story, but it comes to a point when our narrator, who’s good at math, and is an engineer does some equations and thinks of a solution, but it’s not an easy one. And rather than doing enough to fully propel themselves from the gravitational pool.
The thing about thinking about science fiction that’s used in this book we’re thinking about humans living on these giant spaceships to find a new place to live. I think it’s interesting to contemplate what the realities of that type of situation would be because we see this type of scenario in sci-fi movies or even other stories, you know, for years now, maybe decades. These stories give us a realistic idea of some actual complications and decisions people might have to contend with in this scenario. It’s not simply a declaration of “to infinity and beyond.”
Whenever we’ve attempted to explore new areas, we’ve been met with death and despair. Space travel would be no different.
The story also touches on self-sacrifice and maybe inadvertently, courage. Trying not to spoil anything, a character or characters are portrayed as noble, but at least one can be seen as cowardly. They kick the can down the road leaving the problem to someone else.
I like this one.