|Publication date||April 1986|
On Balfrost, a planet that experiences decades-long seasons, the Playpoint resort attracts tourists during the warm seasons. In winter it is maintained by an artificial intelligence who was once a man, Andrew Aldon, and a pair of custodians, a man and a woman, who are in suspended animation except for a few days each year when they awake to inspect and maintain the resort. The resort has powerful weapons to keep encroaching ice at bay.
Paul Plaige, a former custodian who left under suspicious circumstances, returns in winter with his latest paramour, a woman named Dorothy. His real reason for returning is to retrieve some precious stones lost in a cave-in that claimed his partner, a woman named Glenda.
In the years since Paul's departure, Andrew Aldon has noticed a change in the weather patterns. He believes that the planet is somehow intelligent, as in the Gaia hypothesis. Paul sets out to find the stones, with the weather curiously helping him by maintaining a calm area around him. Later, Dorothy tries to follow with help from Andrew Aldon. Paul comes upon a cave containing Glenda's corpse, somehow preserved. In fact Glenda is still alive, having merged with a biological network present across the planet, and has been controlling the weather. In the confrontation that follows, Dorothy sees Paul with Glenda's re-animated body. Andrew, in touch through Dorothy's wrist communicator, tries to prevent a conflict, but instead Glenda causes his personality to switch places with Paul's.
Andrew and Dorothy leave the planet, while Paul and Glenda act out their hatred for each other with the weapons of Playpoint and the planet's weather.
References to other works
- 1987 Hugo Awards, at TheHugoAwards.org; retrieved June 20, 2017
- 1986 Nebula Awards, at Science Fiction Writers of America; retrieved June 20, 2017
- Science Fiction Rebels: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1981 to 1990, by Mike Ashley; published December 31, 2015, by Oxford University Press