Sean McMullen is an Australian author I have just recently discovered and have been very impresses with basically every short story I have read of him so far. His collection “Dreams of the Technarion” is worth checking out.
The story follows Lars who has worked as an engineer on a large telescope project located on the Moon. He goes on a sort of date with a woman who turns out to be a contract killer on a mission to kill him. Somehow Lars is neither surprised nor very upset about this. The assassin can’t help being curious about why this seemingly harmless engineer has a price on his head, so Lars gets to tell his story.
McMullen manages to create an engaging story even though it is on the surface just two people talking. The main character even acknowledges this directly:
I have found that questions are the best way to explain a difficult idea. Do an info-dump, and people’s eyes glaze over. Force them to follow a trail of reasoning, and you have a convert.p. 117
Both characters are interesting and the actual mystery about what Lars know and why someone wants him dead was well done and original.
Read in Analog May/June 2023