Sometimes science fiction gets too tied up in the minutia and does not remember that no matter what the genre is that story is more important than anything and good stories are built around characters. Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen does a good job of remembering what really matters in any story while never falling in the trap of being a story with pointless science fiction elements and because of that tells a story that feels complete and follows the rules it sets out even though it leaves some major questions unanswered.
The story takes place in an underwater colony which exists because the surface of the earth has been frozen and it is one of the few habitable places on the earth. The main character is an astronaut who has lived in the colony with his family since before his teenage daughter was born.
At this point I get the same feel I got from Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. A story in which humanity is fighting a losing battle to survive. Apocalyptic since fiction has existed for as long as people have been telling stories, but the level of realism as they scrape along as things fall apart reminded me of it. Luckily Brad R. Torgersen is less wordy than Stephenson, at least in this story, getting to his point much faster.
The Ray of Light has a clear double meaning. The first is the light of the sun, that has been blocked out after an alien ship released a cloud of mirrors into orbit. This is the major question that is left unanswered in this story, as it is clear it happens, but not why. Either way, they stop the sunlight from getting to the earth and it freezes.
The other ray of light is the protagonist's daughter. A girl obsessed with the sun although she has never seen it. This fits in perfectly as through the story you see several ways that lack of sun has had a massive impact on her life. In this story the girl has gone missing and through her father's search for her the story plays out.
If you want to know how it plays out, you can find the story on Amazon, or in the December 2011 Analog Science Fiction magazine. It’s not the most shocking ending of all time and doesn’t rely on any major plot twists, but it is heartfelt and about characters you want to succeed. Looking for a good fairly quick character based science fiction story you should check out Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen or the author’s website at http://bradrtorgersen.com/