Sunday, May 17, 2020

Warm Math, by Rich Larson

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Thriller) An escape pod with two passengers needs just a bit more reaction mass to reach safety—an amount about equal to the mass of a person. (3,250 words; Time: 10m)

Since this story plays with the concept from “The Cold Equations,” by Tom Godwin, it might be worth reading that story before this one. Although considering how wrenching that story is emotionally, you might want to wait and read it after.

"Warm Math," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 05-06|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.284 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The similarity to “The Cold Equations” is superficial; in both stories there are two people in an escape pod that only has enough fuel to take one person safely to the destination.

The twist is quite a surprise, and the ending is both shocking and unsurprising.

Con: As with “The Cold Equations” the biggest hole is that the fuel is so tight. The cost of losing a ship is vastly greater than the cost of a small amount of fuel, so one would expect such ships to have reasonable safety margins, even if the big companies put no value on human life. The mass of a person is very small compared to the mass of the ship, so the impact of one extra body should be insignificant. (Or, in this case, the odds that the ship is just a few kilos over weight are really, really low.)

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