Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Three Bodies at Mitanni, by Seth Dickinson

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Earth has sent a powerful starship to find the colonies it established 1,000 years ago and to destroy any that pose a threat to humanity. (7,100 words; Time: 23m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆, Average

"Three Bodies at Mitanni," by , appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact issue 06|15, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The debate over whether the people on Mitanni are conscious or not is fascinating. The agonized decision over whether to destroy them (killing billions) or to let them live (possibly dooming "real" human beings). The resolution to the dilemma is satisfying and horrifying at the same time.

Con: We don't really develop any emotional engagement with any of the characters in the story--not even the ant-like people from Mitanni. The canned human consciousnesses are also a little hard to believe, given that the people who built the ship apparently didn't know how to make it be conscious. (They're all machines, after all.) The biggest hole, though, is why it was necessary to send a manned vehicle at all. Why not send unmanned probes to report back from each world and only send a manned vehicle to the worlds that needed it?

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