Sunday, February 9, 2020

Salvage, by Andy Dudak


(SF Drama) Aristy salvages souls from humans the aliens turned into statues a thousand years ago, but not everyone is thrilled with her project, and she has a dark secret. (10,528 words; Time: 35m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘MHaskins+1 πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"Salvage," by (edited by Andy Cox), appeared in issue 285, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.068 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The best part of this story is the setting, a future where humanity once occupied numerous star systems but where aliens have converted nearly the whole population into machines that isolate everyone but give them a virtual reality experience. The only survivors are the ones who were travelling near light speed at the time and therefore escaped the aliens’ notice.

Aristy gets the job of bringing a murderous dictator to justice, which is ironic because she herself killed the sleeping owners of the colony ship she herself arrived in. Also, her work of “freeing the souls” of the people the aliens transformed can also be viewed as a form of mass murder.

Con: I found the ending unsatisfying. Nothing really seems to be resolved here, unless I missed something.

Since I can’t make myself see the simulacra as human, I think I probably miss the thrust of the story. In my view, Picti is dead, and these “people” demanding he be brought to justice are dead too. I have trouble believing anyone would really make this a priority.

Aristy’s atrocity, on the other hand, was genuine mass murder. It’s hard to believe she’s been allowed to go unpunished.

On the technical front, the premise of the story rests on a serious misunderstanding of what the word “observed” means in quantum mechanics. When they say that an entangled state is resolved when either of a pair of particles is “observed” they mean “when it interacts with anything.” Usually, the thing that “observes” a particle is another particle, typically a photon. It is unfortunate that the principle is stated in such a way that it sounds like the particles care whether an intelligent creature “observes” them, but this is not the case. Accordingly, the idea that the aliens needed to put the human race on ice to protect the universe from being observed too much is just wrong, and this destroys the premise of the story, although, admittedly, this detail never really matters to the plot of the story.

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