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"More Adventures on Other Planets"
A short story by Michael Cassutt
(online at sci.fiction, 2001.)

Rating: "A," maybe "A+"

The unexpected romance between Elements Rebecca & Earl....

Look, you're going to have to be patient with me. Because the couple is not just a couple. It's more of a quartet. And two of the individuals aren't even people.

Picture the surface of Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter. It is midday, local time, but the sky is black... What really catches your attention is the striped ball that is Jupiter, looming overhead like a gigantic jack-o'-lantern. It actually seems to press down on the snowy landscape...

Earl Tolan, age 59, is having a bad day at work -- he's a teleoperator of a Pathfinder-class rover on Europa. He meets Rebecca Marceau under less than ideal circumstances -- she took his parking spot while he was at the doctor's. It isn't love at first sight....

Earl Tolan is what they used to call an unsympathetic character, back when people still made such judgments. You wouldn't like him, on first meeting. He is smart and also opinionated, a combination which has made friends, family, and co-workers uncomfortable, since he has a bad habit of telling others how best to live their lives, and with great accuracy... He's also bull-headed and fatalistic.

He has paid for his sins, however, in two failed marriages and the cool, distant relationships with his three children...

There isn't much hard SF that features world-class character development and New Yorker-quality prose. This is one, and it's a winner. Don't you dare miss it. And look for it on the awards ballots next year.

Michael Cassutt has been a writer and/or producer for a number of SF and fantasy television series, including The Twilight Zone, Max Headroom, and The Outer Limits. He is also the author of a number of books on space flight, two dozen science fiction short stories and, most recently, a novel about NASA: Missing Man (Tor paperback, March 2000) -- which will now move high in my to-read pile.


Review by Peter D Tillman; More of Peter D Tillman's reviews can be found at: SF Site and Google "Peter D. Tillman" +review for many more!

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© Peter D Tillman 27 January 2001