Saturday, June 17, 2006

book review: Golden Fleece

I just finished reading "Golden Fleece" by Robert J Sawyer. As with everything from Sawyer, I highly recommend it.
It's set on a colony ship, an arcology, heading for a distant planet. As the book begins the artificial intelligence that runs the ship is murdering one of the crew. Many people believe that it was suicide since the dead woman's husband had left her for another woman a few months before. But that husband keeps finding pieces that don't fit. The book covers the husband's investigation, the ship trying to keep whatever secret it felt worth killing for, and, to a lesser degree, the strain this puts on his relationship with the new woman.

You wanna know how it ends? Check the comments.

1 comment:

Ibid said...

In the end the ship explains his secret to the husband. He and other AIs had been overseeing Earth and rigging it's elections for years. Older systems that monitored the nukes and other doomsday weapons had bugs in their software. The collective AIs determined the likelyhood of a bug that would cause an accidental launch to be reaching 100%. So the arranged for the arcology to be built and selected a +10,000 people with brains and good genes to go to the new world. This was followed by a fleet of smaller ships.
See, the AI's lied about the new world being inhabitable. But with a few tens of thousands of years of terraforming it would be perfect. So the people on our ship go into orbit in the Oort Cloud (a sphere of dust encompassing the Solar System way out beyond the last planet) and use the cloud a fuel to run the ship as close to light speed as possible. So the relativistic effects will mean that the whole trip takes the expected 8 years according to the people on the ship, but the robot ships will go on ahead and ~30,000 years will pass on the new planet. Meanwhile, on Earth, everything went up in a radioactive cloud about 2 months after liftoff.

The ship is willing to kill to keep all this secret because it thinks that it would be bad for the collective psyche of those on the ship. Survivor's guilt times 10,000 among other issues.