‘What Continues, What Fails…’ by David Brin
This story unashamedly treads both the hard and soft paths of science fiction. The hard part takes the form of speculation about the nature of black holes. The soft part takes the form of speculation about the structure of a society that takes to the stars. These two halves are bonded together by a shared and literalised metaphor of motherhood. So on a technically level it is extremely satisfying in its construction. However, as befits its subject matter, it is a rather chilly story and for me there was no spark that brought it to life.
From the introduction:
Brin is of the old school of Campbellian hard sf, adept at storytelling manipulation and stock characterization in the colorful mode of Robert A. Heinlein — clever, facile, slick, entertaining, with a clear and usually unornamented prose style. His thriving career is proof that there is still a large and enthusiastic audience for science fiction that incorporates few of the literary changes and devices that have entered the field in the last three decades.
Damning with faint praise or back-handed compliment?