A straight forward murder mystery on Mars. Except it is not outright murder, but someone is still responsible.
The setting is a settlement on Mars in its early stages and the story follows Blaine who is working as a marshall, serving the role of the practically missing law enforcement. A dead body of a woman turns up and he sets of to investigate how and why.
Might be a slight spoiler, but there is no murderer per se, but Blaine uncovers an unjust cooperate system that fails to take proper care under tragic circumstances. The woman was married to an employee stationed on Mars, but when he died of an illness, she lost any funding or rights to keep alive on Mars. There is a fine point to the story here about unemphatic cooperations not willing to take responsibility if they are not legally required to, but I had a somewhat hard time accepting this premise. If we ever get a settlement on Mars and have people employed on work contracts there, I am pretty certain lawyers and insurance companies would write up a plethora of clauses to handle every possible and impossible scenario. That aside still a decent story.
Read in Forever Magazine, March 2023
Originally published in F&SF May/June 2021