There is no doubt in my mind that this will join the likes of "Exhalation" and "Friction" in my personal "best of escape pod" list. It has a beauty of its own that accents the beauty of everything.
Being a short story, it says a lot. It's paradoxically epic.
As a weekend bushcrafter (I mess around with knives, axes, firebuilding, twigs, and tarps) I wanted to jump into the story and help her fortify her shelter. The story took a dark turn (after the avalanche) where I think she's freezing to death. I got a cold pit in my stomache... No! No! NO! The story's grippiness went to "11" as I wondered how the radio-voice would TRY to rescue the girl from hypothermia.
Now, THAT'S good story telling. When a piece of writing can get a 46-year-old high school science teacher to get all worked up into a tizzy... nice!
The story gave me a hell of suprise at the 40 minute mark. What's going on? Is the shuttle-pilot-AI-being doing some kind of time travel thing and trying different senarios to get Sochi to survive longer? I visualized this being a kind of matrix moment... where different outcomes are tried out to see with will give the most successful consequence.
Here's another image I mused... The Green Lantern Corp. Is the AI-being a Green Lantern protector? I'm assuming that the Green Lantern Corp has to witness countless planet extinctions. I wonder how the corp deals with this workplace hazard?
Whatever's happening in this story -- it's rich story telling. I like it! More, please.