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Yesterday’s story was on a large scale, a four kilometre long spaceship. Let’s try something larger.

Indeed, today’s one is the largest ‘someone clambering about on a spaceship hull’ I’ve ever come across, given that the spaceship is the size of Jupiter and the story takes place over millennia.

The story being told feels epic as well, even though the main character, the walker, just wants to be left alone. It feels little interest in conversing or even being noticed by the increasingly prevalent humans. One of the nice features of the story is sense of the wider world, that beyond the walker there are vast migrations and colonisations across the Great Ship. And while the walker has this strong, easily relatable desire for solitude, the reader never forgets that this is an other; it works on far vaster timescales, and thinks nothing of standing still for a few decades when something scares it.

Alone by Robert Reed

Availability: print only

Word count: 23,000

Universe: Great Ship (prior knowledge not needed)

First published: Godlike Machines, edited by Jonathan Strahan, 2010, SF Book Club

Where to find it: The Best SF and Fantasy of the Year Volume 5, edited by Jonathan Strahan, 2011, Night Shade Books

The Year’s Top Ten Tales of SF 3, CD, edited by Allan Kaster, 2011, Infinivox

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