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The year is 2025 and Gotoba General Construction—a firm that has built structures to survive the Antarctic and the Sahara—has received its most daunting challenge yet. Sennosuke Touenji, the chairman of one of the world's largest leisure conglomerates, wants a moon base fit for civilian use, and he wants his granddaughter Taé to be his eyes and ears on the harsh lunar surface. Taé and Gotoba engineer Aomine head to the moon where adventure, trouble, and perhaps romance await.
Issui Ogawa is known as one of Japan's premier SF writers. His 1996 debut, First a Letter from Popular Palace, won the Shueisha JUMP Novel Grand Prix. The Next Continent (2003, Haikasoru 2010) garnered the 35th Seiun Prize. A collection of his short stories won the 2005 Best SF Poll, and The Drifting Man, included in that collection, was awarded the 37th Seiun Prize for domestic short stories. Other works include Land of Resurrection, Free Lunch Era, and The Lord of the Sands of Time (Haikasoru 2009). Ogawa is a principal member of the Space Authors Club.
The evening meal was punctually observed. In fact, this was the only part of the schedule that was. Like clockwork, the five Chinese strictly adhered to the two-hour meal period, but there was no private time afterward. The five crew members never observed the scheduled start of the sleep period at 22:00. Instead of private time, they worked late into the night on facility repairs, harvesting the experiments in the White Tiger module and preparing for the next day’s tasks. Once, around 4:00 a.m., Sohya woke to use the toilet and heard the animated voices of Peng and Cui coming from the White Tiger module, audible over the round-the-clock basso profundo hum of fans that pervaded the base. It sounded more like an argument than a discussion.
And after every task was completed, there was communication with Beijing Flight Control. Cui had constantly checked his wearcom during that first day’s tour―not only to monitor the time, but to send text updates to Beijing. His refusal to do updates via voice link reflected his irritation with having to do it at all. This was not hard to understand. It was his duty to contact Control even when he visited the toilet.
Yet there were times when Cui set aside his usual dour mood. One evening after dinner, Ma suggested they watch a movie together, and Cui revealed another side to his personality.
The movie was not streamed from Earth. Ma had carried it with him on a memory card. It was not the kind of entertainment Beijing would have transmitted via one of their communications satellites; it was an erotic comedy from Hong Kong. Taé averted her face in confusion. Sohya was embarrassed for her, but Cui paid no attention. For a short time, he became a different person, exploding with laughter throughout the film. Still, the rest of the time he remained difficult to approach, while Commander Peng and Jiang were easy to deal with.
After several days, the reason for the irregular scheduling suddenly dawned on Sohya.