This is a followup to “Next Frontier” from the July/August 2021 issue which sets up an alternate history about the space race, where events fold out a bit differently with another group of people as the first Americans on the moon - a woman being one of them.

This continues the believable representation of the inner workings of NASA and how the moon program could have turned out differently, not unlike the Apple TV show “For All Mankind”. The US and the Soviet Union is heavily competing in getting a more permanent foothold on the Moon and Natalya is returning to the Moon for another mission. But something goes wrong on a nearby Soviet mission, so their trip is turned into a rescue mission of a Soviet cosmonaut.

The first half is NASA politics and the second half is a pretty standard space rescue mission type story. It is decent story with solving engineering and people type of problems, and seeing an alternate timeline of the Apollo program has potential for a world history that develops differently. We see glimpses of that here, but it is still primarily a typical rescue story.

Read in Analog November/December 2023
Rating: 3