RogerBW's Blog

Legacy, Joan D. Vinge 29 December 2023

1980 SF novella, in the same world as The Outcasts of Heaven Belt though set before the events of that book. In a system of gradually-decaying asteroid habitats, two self-loathing people go along on a rich man's self-promoting rescue mission.

All right, it's a bit better than that. But these days nobody should need to be told that you don't get to be super-rich and retain a pleasant personality even if you had one in the first place, which you probably didn't.

In any case that mission is just the first half of the story, and the second deals with the survivors and how they cope with what happened there and what they did. (I believe this is a fixup of the original short stories Media Man and Fool's Gold.)

There are lovely details, like the way the setup is gradually falling apart; the remote manipulation gear for the power reactors isn't working any more, so you can sign up to do an hour's work there for a year's pay and a lifetime dose of radiation. And the way the radiation hazard aboard ships has pushed women out of professions (because sperm can be frozen and used years later, while eggs apparently can't) even though there's blatantly no need for most of them to breed.

It's a very depressing story, with only slight hope at the end. But it's very good.

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Previous in series: The Outcasts of Heaven Belt | Series: Heaven Chronicles

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