Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Ghosts of Ganymede, by Derek Künsken

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Colony) Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees making a new home on Ganymede discover million-year-old monuments left by unknown visitors and find they’re causing problems with the colony’s electronics. (7,842 words; Time: 26m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 148, published on .

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

Review: 2019.051 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story does a great job of conveying just how tired Kedija is of conflict. I can’t say that she’s “desperate” to find a solution because she’s too tired to be desperate, but she definitely powerfully determined to find a peaceful solution that leaves them more united.

Only by uniting are they able to solve the challenge of the “ghosts,” since it takes the attention of all of them to collapse the quantum wave function and set the ghosts free.

The orbital mechanics are great! Masses, distances, rates of revolution, temperatures--even the radiation exposure rate on Ganymede are all quite accurate. Bravo!

Con: Lots of people have the misconception that only observation by a conscious mind collapses a quantum wave function, but that’s far from true. The nomenclature in QM is really bad here, but the usual thing that “observes” the state of a particle is just another particle. So the whole premise of the story rests on a misunderstanding.

Although it's true that mammals in general are much more susceptible to radiation damage than we need to be (cockroaches show how to do it right), it defies belief that anyone would spend money to re-engineer poor refugees (and no one else) to make them radiation resistant. Also, engineering this in children would be challenging enough, but doing it for adults would be even more difficult.

Beyond that, it pained me that they had to destroy the ghosts at all. They were almost-living relics of the only alien life ever discovered by humanity, and they destroyed them all before anyone could study them.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. You kinda have to ignore the word "quantum" to enjoy this story. Which makes me very leery of his novel The Quantum Magician and the forthcoming The Quantum Garden. Any idea if they're connected to this story?

    1. Not sure, but it wouldn't surprise me. Maybe someone who has read both will chime in.