Review: “Unrefined” by Martin L. Shoemaker

3 of 5 stars.

This story opens with unmitigated disaster–a computer malfunction on a commercial space station orbiting Jupiter has destabilized the fusion reactor. For Sam Pike, the stress is compounded by sitting shotgun to the best pilot in their fleet, Leeanne, whose husband is the last person still on the station. As owner of the company, Wilson is not going to be easy to talk off the dangerous orbital, even if it is his best friend coming to the rescue.

The disaster leaves Leeanne despondent for weeks and Sam as the new CEO of a mining start-up almost lost in space with supplies running low. Worse, computer software analysis shows that the malfunction was the result of well-covered sabotage from somebody back on Earth. Sam is running himself into the ground and taking the company with him in his exhaustion.

The concept and writing of this story is less science fiction and more business management in a space setting. A longer form for the story that tackled the sabotage storyline would be welcome. As it is, that thread goes unresolved which does not bode well for the company and all its players.

The story is illustrated by artist contest winner Tung Chi Lee. As a quarterly short story contest winner, “Unrefined” merited inclusion in the anthology Writers of the Future Volume 31 by L. Ron Hubbard. I received the anthology through Net Galley.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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