Shepherd Moon is an exhilarating sprint of a story, taking us into orbit and exploding us back to Earth. It’s a tale of the basics of spaceflight, the tragedy of a lost astronaut, and the difficulties of coming to terms with your past. Mohamed presents a well-written journey in a future where humanity is on the cusp of casual space travel.
Analog Science Fact & Fiction, September/October 2018 Issue
There are two parts to this story: the spaceflight and the interpersonal drama. In terms of spaceflight, Shepherd Moon shows the mundanity of a mission as astronauts go through dozens of checklists, ticking boxes and preparing to rocket to space. It’s smooth sailing until something goes wrong, sending the story into a terrifying spiral. Mohamed shows how quickly space can turn the mundane into the life-threatening.
The interpersonal drama adds an unexpected twist to the story. This woman is forced to confront her past lover under public and tragic circumstances. It’s her connection to the astronaut that almost ends her life. Never has a tear held so much power.
Thea is a conflicted character as she tries to steel herself against past feelings of hurt, frustration and anger. It’s bad enough to run into an ex, but having to recover one from space is on a whole new level. She flies through a gamut of emotions before, during and after the mission. The author captures her struggles well, helping us to connect with her as she struggles. By the end, we see how much of a bad ass she is, getting herself safely back to the surface, though admittedly very roughed up.
The story is set in a future where private space travel is still in the beginning stages. Earth seems to be on the cusp of really venturing out into space. The private space company is missing a lot of the bells and whistles of a NASA launch. There is no dramatic countdown, no biting of pencils as technicians stare at screens. It seems to be just another day job at the headquarters. Space itself isn’t presented as something that’s super thrilling or exciting. It’s just another day for Thea.
Space, Space Travel, Spaceship, Tragedy, Privatization, Future
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