Thursday, November 7, 2019

Solve For X, by Jay Cole


(SF Thriller) A saboteur explains why he/she sabotaged a lunar communication satellite to keep people on Earth from learning about a signal from extraterrestrials. (1,701 words; Time: 05m)

The equations in this story are not visible in the Kindle edition. You’ll either need the print edition or else look at the print replica with the Kindle app on a phone, Android tablet, or Kindle Fire.

"Solve For X," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 11-12|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.613 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s a decent setup.

Con: The “equation” for computing how many humans are ready to learn about extra terrestrials is nonsense. First, it fails dimensional analysis: it produces a number of people per year, not a total number of people. Second, it only makes sense to multiply the various factors together if you think they’re uncorrelated, but, of course, they’re almost certainly very highly correlated.

And, of course, it’s hard to see how an act like this could work; the news would get out sooner or later or else someone would discover the signal independently.

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