S. J. Klapecki’s 2023 Station Six is a near future science fiction novella.
Lunar Module Construction — LMC — offers the army of workers on Station Six the opportunity to work hard enriching CEO Maximilian Ashe and LMC shareholders. In return they get almost enough money to sustain worker life. Life is tenuous at best. It’s about to get even worse. Impending automation will render most of the workforce redundant.
The workforce will probably be moved to another LMC station. The next location could very easily be worse. What are powerless workers to do?
There’s a toothless corporation union called the LMC Happy Family program, to which workers must belong. Many of them also belong to the illegal Federation of Unions. The Federation sees opportunity in current events. Faster than LMC might believe possible, workers agree to strike.
Realists would point out that LMC still holds most of the cards, not least of which is control of the station’s computer networks. This is where Max comes in. In addition to the skills for which LMC pays Max, Max is also a skilled hacker. Previous experience says the strike is doomed. Nevertheless, Max joins the Federation’s Protection Forces and places their technical skills at the Federation’s disposal.
Optimists might expect LMC to come to the negotiating table. Not even the Federation expects that. LMC controls the on-station security forces. The LMC also controls what information reaches the press and how that information is presented. If it absolutely needs to escalate further to crush the union, it can call on the services of heavily armed mercenaries. Why negotiate with a union when it can make an example of them?
Max may be on the side of righteousness. Max and Max’s allies may well still end up in prison or dead.
This would have been an appropriate book for May Day. Ah, well.
Astute readers will note online book sellers pitch this as the third book in the Black Dawn series. Black Dawn is less a series than an imprint. To quote:
With the Black Dawn series we honor anarchist traditions and follow the great Octavia E. Butler’s legacy, Black Dawn seeks to explore themes that do not reinforce dependency on oppressive forces (the state, police, capitalism, elected officials) and will generally express the values of antiracism, feminism, anticolonialism, and anticapitalism.
One has to admire the thoroughness with which corporations have shaped the world of this novel to their convenience. Rather than attempting to slow or reverse climate change, for example, companies control populations through their control of mitigating technology. To paraphrase Diet Smith, the company that controls air conditioning will control the Earth. Putting workers in space habitats where every bit of life support is owned by the bosses is an extension of this process.
In fact, by the time the unionizing kicks off, companies have won so completely for so long that nobody, even the union organizers, expects workers to win. All they really hope for is to make their masters momentarily uncomfortable.
Despite some pacing issues at the beginning, once the plot gets going, it moves along nicely. Of course, this being a short novella, the plot has no room to meander. Max is a plucky character who will, once convinced to join, set aside personal doubt and do their best to contribute to the team effort, which is to say a person about whose fate the readers will care.
As to whether the workers will somehow prevail or be crushed by company goons, readers will have to purchase the book to find out.
I have no idea if Station Six is available from Apple Books.