Monday, March 16, 2020

A Solitary Crane Circles Cold Mountain, by Gregor Hartmann

★★★★★ Cool characters in a chilling setting.

(Dystopia) Lili’s Foundation is close to launching their generation ship if Lili can figure a way to make the society stable and if the world government can be convinced it doesn’t undermine harmony. (6,025 words; Time: 20m)

"A Solitary Crane Circles Cold Mountain," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 03-04|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.149 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: On the surface, the plot is about Lili finding a way to get the generation ship launched despite the awful totalitarian government. Separately, it’s about Lili and Victor finding a way to be together despite the huge differences between them.

The intellectual problem is a real one: how could you design a generation ship with any hope that it would still be functioning after hundreds of years? Even if you staff it with the best and brightest, people tend to revert to the mean; there’s no reason to believe the next generation will produce enough rocket scientists to run the ship. But if you automate everything, giving the people little purpose, won’t they eventually revolt?

The separate problem is that the global government is essentially a religious dictatorship where the religion is based on preserving the environment, and sending a ship to the stars violates their principles in all kinds of ways.

I found it very uplifting, then, that Lili’s solution worked for the ship, it worked for the government, and it even let her and Victor be together. It very nicely brought all the pieces of the story together.

Con: It was actually kind of horrible that the colonists agreed to have most of their minds erased in order to regress them to the level of Tang-Dynasty peasants. Yes, it was a solution, but it’s bad if you think about it too closely.

There were several hints that the world was on the verge of a civil war between the two main factions, but nothing was ever done with that.

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