he big conversation these days is the settlement of Mars and how everyone would go (well, now, if you ask them). And this story centers on how they will go. In this case, it’s in Jalopies – single person pods that will feed you, entertain you, and keep you somewhat sane on that long voyage across space to Terminal, the new city being built on Mars. For once you’ll arrive you’ll be a citizen, your Jalopy will be scrapped for the city, and you’ll join the others in this hardscrabble existence.
But that’s the thing. Jalopies are cheap – you can sign up to go on a street corner. And a lot of people are going who have medical conditions, people who won’t make it to Mars – why not? You’ll still get the materials there, right?
And so Terminal is a drifting story of this drifting fleet, of Haziq (a fellow who left his wife and family behind) and Mei (a woman suffering some sort of bone degeneration) as well as a lot of other people chattering back and forth across their radios, monitored (even voyeured) from Earth. Don’t expect technical details or a hard conclusion or anything from this story. It is more a drifting tale of people coming to terms with themselves in this great human migration, of individuals and dreams and frailties. I rather liked it – it didn’t have any powerful much, no gotcha ending. It just drifted along (like the Jalopies) towards an eventual conclusion.
I found it in The Best Science Fiction of the Year which I think was for 2016. You still should be able to get it, or possibly find the story on its own someplace. Good luck, Space Cowboy.