Twenty years ago or thereabouts, I listened to an audio book about a sci-fi short story. I remember bits and pieces, and pardon the vagueness of it due it being 20+ years ago, but the general synopsis is as follows:

The story was being told by an astronaut in first-person on board a space shuttle. The space shuttle was on a mission from Earth (to go somewhere) but either something malfunctioned or something happened during the journey. Whichever the case, the space shuttle carrying human astronauts headed towards the Moon. They had to perform a slingshot manoeuvre in order to travel back.

There was an astronaut on board who was a mother of two children (her surname was Wolfe?). Just before they performed the slingshot manoeuvre, she spoke to her children over radio, explaining what they were attempting to do. I vaguely remember the dialogue being, '...Hey kids! If you imagine running towards a tree, holding the trunk with one hand, and swinging around, that's what we are trying to do..'.

As the space shuttle entered the dark side of the Moon, they saw a city of lights on the Moon with bustling activity. The crew debated on relaying this information back to mission control, but the consensus was to not make this information public.

A few years after they returned, Wolfe wanted to share what they saw with the entire world. Mission control didn't want the public to know about this city of lights they had seen.

The story ends with an official statement from mission control stating that (Colonel?) Wolfe tragically passed away suddenly (probably implying they killed her to keep her quiet).

Please help me find the name of this short story or novel. Googling all types of phrases didn't help.

It's been 20 years. You're my only hope.

Many thanks and much appreciated.

  • 1
    You're my only hope, Obi-Wan...
    – FreeMan
    Feb 12 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


Could be "City of Lights" by Tim Vicary:

From this link:

A young pilot Cathy Fox has lost her job. She is said to be seriously ill. But Cathy tells a completely different story. Last year she flew a space-plane called "Space Bird One". Two other girls accompanied her. Helen was another astronaut and Mary was a journalist. The trip was very important and it was broadcast all over the world. The flight was going well until the girls saw a strange object. Mary wanted to discuss it on the TV, but the other girls did not let her. As the space-plane tried to move away from the object, the motors suddenly broke down. The plane went out of the Earth's orbit at the risk of never coming back. Fortunately, the pilots found a way out. What the girls saw on the dark side of the Moon changed their lives forever.

It's available to borrow from the Internet Archive here.

  • 2
    Yes, this is it. I read though and it contains all the elements mentioned in the question. Feb 12 at 13:35
  • 1
    @JohnRennie In the immortal word of Cyberleader David Banks... EXCELLENT!
    – AJM
    Feb 12 at 14:01
  • Yes it is! Thank you so very much. This story popped into my mind a few years ago and I've tried my hardest to find the title. Although after reading the story I realised I was wrong about a lot of little details. But still, I am so happy to have closure now. Thank you @AJM.
    – user171750
    Feb 13 at 2:24
  • @user171750 Thanks! Don't forget to click on the "tick" to mark this question as solved!
    – AJM
    Feb 13 at 11:25

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