Dear readers, tonight with us is an electrical and computer engineer, working on the moon. She is here to tell us about about commercial operations, international tensions — and finding alien remains
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
That would be Murmansk: a grubby, rundown, vodka-soaked, Navy port town well into the arctic. What was that like? Cold. Miserable. Depressing. For forty days every winter the fucking Sun never rises there at all.
What was it like growing up? Any cherished memories?
In a word, hard. In two words, damned hard.
Father was a submariner. Not that he wanted to be. Not that any sane person wanted any part of the decrepit, post-Soviet navy. He did it because jobs were scarce. Then, in 2000, the nuclear sub Kursk was lost with all hands. Moscow did its best at first to deny everything, and then to deflect the blame. Mother and I were left with nothing but a pittance of a pension. But Mother was a fighter, and she raised me to be one. It took each of us working two jobs, and sometimes three, but I made it to, and through, university. That made me the first in our family to do so.
I won’t call any of the struggle a cherished memory, but there is satisfaction in the accomplishment. I want to believe Father would have been proud. Even though my degrees are from an academic backwater like Murmansk State Technical University.
What do you do now?
I’m an electrical and computer engineer, and I’m damned good at it. Good enough to get a job on the Moon. Do I understand the ins and outs of helium-3 extraction from the lunar regolith? Of the fusion reactors people yet hope to invent, that our He-3 might someday fuel? No. But I do understand all there is to know about the electronics and computerized controls that make it possible for people to live and work on the Moon. More so, if you ask me, than most snooty, overspecialized types with their fancy PhDs from Moscow universities.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Now there’s a question. First you must know that—despite his delusions—everyone at the Russian lunar base always assumed Yevgeny Borisovich Rudin was an FSB spy. (The FSB is the post-Soviet successor to the KGB. I’m just saying, in case you didn’t know.) He was just too damned interested in everyone else’s business to be anything but a spook. That, and his official job, the lunar version of bush pilot, was just too convenient. The job gave him frequent cover to drop in on any of the several small settlements and research outposts, both international and of any nationality, scattered across the Moon.
So, when Rudin came recruiting—for an undefined project, “somewhere” on the Moon—I wanted no part of it. When he dangled a fat bonus (and how, except with FSB backing, would he even have had access to that kind of cash?) some of the people he approached took the bait. Not me. I never wanted any part of that spook shit. However tempting the money, I said no.
Only for the mine’s senior management to order me to cooperate. Not that they knew any more than me what this was about. The FSB must have pulled their strings, too.
I expected trouble, and I wasn’t disappointed.Continue reading “Ekaterina Borisova Komarova, aka Katya (of Déjà Doomed, by Edward M. Lerner)”