Strange Horizons, November 21, 2016

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Strange Horizons, November 21, 2016

One Giant Step” by Jay Werkheiser

Reviewed by Benjamin Wheeler

One Giant Step” by Jay Werkheiser begins with Kent falling into the atmosphere of Venus. He comes to grips with his impending death, and attempts to slow down his descent long enough to land on Venus’ surface and have a chance to survive. During the fall, he talks to his father and they settle their differences. The story ends with Kent landing feet first on Venus’ surface, the first human to touch the planet.

This story is a mix of great, hard science fiction and decent emotional drama. The descent into Venus’ cloud cover is described in good detail. The author’s solid use of the planet’s thick atmosphere and other qualities to create a tense scene really makes the story feel like one of the John Campbelledited stories than most of today’s modern science fiction. The emotional drama that fills in the gaps is lacklustre. While it does serve a purpose, the emotional response from the characters about the issue and their personal history did not enhance the main conflict of the fall. However, the ending is satisfying, if grim. Well-written stories that have Man triumphing over the unknown, even at the cost of their lives, is always worth the time to read. Many may find it inspiring.