This novelette is a Nebula finalist published by The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It ended up with 8 recommendations on the Nebula Recommended Reading List.

Humanity has built a Bernal type space habitat with a population of about 27K people. Fertility and therefore expansion into space is controlled by a large corporation based on research that indicates embryos don’t develop properly in zero gravity. Veronica challenges this restriction by getting pregnant and heading outbound in a spacecraft. The corporation sends an agent to bring her back, and he eventually starts to see this as a rescue mission. However, he finds the AI in his craft is programmed to eliminate both Veronica and the developing fetus. He works to outsmart it, but now Veronica has gone into labor. Will he be in time for his rescue?

I actually read this one when it was published and I can’t find my copy of the magazine right now to refresh my experience with it. However, here’s what I recall. Pros: This is hard SF, which I’m glad to see on the ballot. It’s strongly plotted and, as far as I could tell, well researched and accurate as far as space travel and AIs go. It leans fairly heavily to technical details, mounting tension and emotional impact, so tends to neglect characterizations, imagery, etc. Because of this, it didn’t have the emotional impact it would have had if we’d known Veronica better.

Cons: This is still another story about abusing and/or murdering children. I’m up to six in the count so far in this year’s reviews.

Three and a half stars.

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