Universe Annex #2 — Sept. 2010

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Universe Annex #2
September 2010

”The Long Fall” by Jason Chapman

Reviewed by Duane Donald

The replacement for Jim Baen’s Universe, Universe Annex publishes one short story every other month, as part of editor Eric Flint’s Grantville Gazette.  I will say this for Universe Annex, they may have only one actual story per issue (thus far) but, to date, they have managed a couple of very well written ones.

In ”The Long Fall” Jason Chapman delivers a highly creative, classic science fiction tale of not only intrigue but forbidden love (robot love that is).

Mi Dimarco finds herself in the asteroid belt mining ore to be shipped back to Earth and Mars. Herself a lifelong space-brat, as a kid she felt space was the only real place for her as an adult. She falls in with the crew and learns to be just another rock jockey, but one of the crew, an autonomous robot named Max, seems just slightly out of place. Mi spends much of her time trying to figure Max out; he just isn’t like most robots and she plans on discovering the truth, but hopes finding out doesn’t kill her.  

Not everyone on the crew is fascinated with Max as a flesh-like replacement or with the possibility of “his” taking over a human’s job, and thus begins the intrigue.

The characters are fleshed out very nicely and the dialogue, though at times a tad sentimental, meets the reader’s expectations. While nothing here is of a revelatory nature, the story was not predictable.

Chapman has really done his research, something I certainly applaud. Science fiction is one of those genres where proper research can be the difference between a very good, well written story like “The Long Fall” or a silly piece of tripe like anything played on the Syfy channel on a Saturday night.  

A couple of thousand words or so could have been edited out, but nothing seemed sluggish. If you’re looking for a good read with that true SF flavor, I highly recommend Jason Chapman’s “The Long Fall.”