"We've a shuttle docked at the hub," Volyova said. "We'll just need to take a spoke elevator andclear outbound customs."
Before very long they reached the hub, cleared customs and boarded the shuttle, a nonatmospheric craft consisting of a sphere with four thruster pods splayed out at right angles. The ship was called the Melancholia of Departure, the kind of ironic name Ultras favoured for their craft. The interior had the ribbed look of a whale's gut. Volyova told her to go forward through a series of bulkheads and gullet-like crawlspaces until they reached the thing's bridge. There were a few bucket seats, together with a console displaying reams of avionics gibberish, latticed by delicate entoptics.
Volyova thumbed one of the visual readouts, causing a small, traylike device to chug out of a black recess in the side of the console. The tray was gridded with an oldstyle keyboard. Volyova's fingers danced on the keys, causing a subtle change to sweep through the avionics data. Khouri realised with a tingling feeling that the woman had no implants; that her fingers were actually one of the ways by which she communicated.
"Buckle in," Volyova said. "There's so much garbage floating round Yellowstone we might have to pull some gee-loads."
- The small ship's name is an obvious variation on the "theme naming" seen in the name of its mothership. The Melancholia is also the only shuttle of the Nostalgia known by name.
- The spherical design of the shuttle, aside from being generally very practical in a vacuum environment, bears a striking similarity to the Aries Ib class shuttles of the Space odyssey series, authored by Arthur C. Clarke and first adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick. Alastair Reynolds is a self-confessed old fan of Clarke's body of work, so the chosen shape might also be a bit of a nod.
See also Edit
- Spherical shuttle - The type of vacuum-only shuttle the Melancholia belonged to.