This story is very typical Analog. NASA is testing its very early stages of an asteroid defense system – the DART system (this mission actually happened recently), but during the test they discover something that looks like an artificial structure. After ruling out China and Elon Musk it is clear it must be aliens. NASA prepares a mission to check it out. Who will go and what will they find? The story is mostly light in tone and the discovery is amusing but a little overly positive.
I did find it odd how Oltion apparently felt the need to add a few bashes at American politicians. There is literally a congressman saying:
“… but if we approve this boondoggle, we’ll be sending a man up there. A white man”.p. 12
With how things are going this is probably pretty realistic, but just seems offbeat to add weird things like that in a story that is about something totally different.
The story has more than few nods to Contact with similar obstacles for the female astronaut to be the one to go on the mission, but this short story doesn’t provide nearly enough depth to the cardboard villains to make it even worth adding in the first place.
Read in Analog September/October 2022