Published: Jul/Aug 2013 in Analog
Genre: science fiction
Length: 26 pages
Setting: earth orbit, near future
Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology
Summary: We follow Charlie and Kalima as they pilot a junkship to a Zombie satellite. Their job is to attach a Lorenz tether to the satellite so it will safely decelerate and burn up in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, all is not as they were told. The satellite isn’t a Zombie. The Chinese want to keep it in orbit. The tethers don’t actually do what they promise. Kalima sacrifices herself to keep the satellite in orbit, and Charlie ends up back on Earth. Interspersed with the action are bits on how Earth got to the point that they needed junkships in the first place.
Final thoughts: This story was written to answer the question “What happens if orbital space junk gets out of hand?” It was an interesting answer to the question, but I didn’t really care about Charlie and Kalima. They were supposed to be getting married soon, but I sensed very little connection between them. Kalima seemed like she had a death wish, and Charlie was clueless. Moral of the story – don’t let space become a battle zone and take care of the trash.
Title comes from: Perhaps the tether connecting the junkship to the satellite and Kalima to the junkship.