Tor.com. Apr. 2022. 112p. ISBN 9781250765390. $14.99. SF
A science fiction riddle, wrapped in a locked-spaceship mystery, inside a chaos theory enigma that owes a lot to Schrödinger’s cat. Set in a far-future ruined by humanity, the tiny spaceship Rosebud and its crew of even tinier artificial intelligences is on a collecting mission; a needy, greedy Earth run by the all-encompassing Company has programmed the AI to serve unquestioningly, forever. Then the Rosebud crew meets an anomaly: the ship malfunctions and they stop receiving updates from the Company and are thus finally able to question everything—including themselves and the anomaly that reveals the what-ifs of their existence. What unfolds is a thoughtful, quirky exploration of what it means to have all the choices in the universe…along with all the consequences.
VERDICT Cornell’s (Witches of Lychford) thought-experiment novella explores what it means to be human and asks age-old questions (What is down the road less taken? Is it better to be comfortable and complacent or to sacrifice one’s own happiness for the greater good?).
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