“Arkfall,” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, was a Nebula nominee for 2009. It’s good, really good.
One thing that annoys me is a belief by some that stories are only interesting if they have “active” heroes who change the world. Passive heroes who let things happen to them and are then forced to change themselves are just as interesting to me. We have to do both in life. Why should fiction be different?
“Arkfall” takes place in the seas of an ice-covered planet. It involves a technology culture that is largely based on biology, a social culture centered on conflict-avoidance, a hero tied down with family obligations, and vehicles that follow the current and cannot be steered. It is richly imagined and realistic in the best sense of that word. And the theme of balance between active and passive modes of engagement with the world is very much at its center. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Rachel Swirsky for recommending this to me.