Monday, December 14, 2015

Conscience, by Robert R. Chase

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(Military SF) Constanza flies a stealthed warplane for the US in a near-future war, and she's picked for a series of special missions carrying a single, silent, soldier up to the front and back. (5,498 words; Time: 18m)

Rating: ★★★★★, Award-Worthy
Recommended By: SFRevu:4

"Conscience," by , appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction issue 01|16, published on by .

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

Pro: We gradually figure out that the silent soldier is a robot. The explanation of the procedure as intended to minimize PTSD is very contemporary. On the last mission, we realize that she's not meant to survive it, and we feel elated at her decision to destroy the machine and seek asylum in the EU.

The portrayal of a military that's willing to compromise on morality to win the war is plausible. Killing Constanza isn't, but it's believable that that's Rossum's own idea.

Con: But is she really making the right decision? She's betraying her country, after all, and the enemy is ruthless and remorseless. It's not 100% clear that this program would need to be kept secret, provided they were a bit more judicious about their targets. The public accepts drones as more humane than strategic bombing; they'd probably accept these as "ground drones" too.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. This is a very good story and worth reading.

    You do not need to be a military SF fan to appreciate it.