“On the Razor’s Edge” by Jiang Bo
Review by Lis Carey: I believe the cover shown is the anthology that contains this short story, a finalist for the 2023 Best Short Story Hugo. My apologies to all if I have this wrong.
Zhong Lixin is a Chinese astronaut, on China’s Tiangong Space Station in 2028. He’s working on his assigned projects, along with another astronaut, Duan Guozhu, when they hear what they’ve never heard before on the station — the emergency alarm. Soon they’re working on repairs, fixable ones, fortunately, damage caused by micrometeors colliding with the station. They’ve been fortunate, and can continue their mission.
“International” or not, the Chinese regard the ISS as an American space station, and when this accident occurs, the ISS crew consists of three Americans. But this is space, and they’re all astronauts together. Yet, Zhong and Duan don’t know of any way they can rescue the Americans.
Fortunately, despite existing tensions between the two governments, those on the ground take the same view about not leaving astronauts stranded whatever their nationality. Even better, someone on the ground has an idea. It’s speculative, risky, involves doing things never tried before. Success is far from guaranteed.
What follows is a nailbiter, exciting, scary, and completely compelling.
A worthy finalist.
I received this story as part of the 2023 Hugo Voters Packet.