“The Rocketeer” by Rebecca Hodgkins

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 8, 2014 in Writer's Life |

Daily Science Fiction


Rocketeering: It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. That’s what I came away with after reading The Rocketeer, in which a jaded, veteran astronaut is irritated by the over-enthused nature of her barfellows in a space station orbiting Mars. She’s surrounded by young “Major Toms” who have no idea of the boredom that awaits them in the Big Black. She’s bitter, yes, and in addition to mental tolls, Space has left its physical damage upon her as well:

The Rocketeer has that peculiar frailty of the long-time flyer. Her body is stretched, emaciated, a side effect of not enough gravity. Because she has so little body tone, a mini-rocket on her back keeps her up, an anti-gravity pack fighting against the simgrav. The vets all have one. The rocket is very conspicuous, silver metal against the black fabric of her suit.

A particularly nice piece of imagery, and one that also parallels the Rocketeer’s feeling of being adrift, no longer connected to the Earth she’d fled decades ago. She’s not connected to anything now, but an honest conversation with one of the Major Toms forces her to reconsider the value of life how she fits into this universe.

As far as craft goes, I thought it was an interesting choice to alternate POVs between the Rocketeer and the Major Tom. It took me a bit to settle into it, and by the time I did, the story was almost over. The escapist in me was a bit bummed by the realness of this story. While it was not a story written for me, it is well-written and worth a read.


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