Sunday Short: David D. Levine's Damage

Sunday, February 1, 2015
This week's short is David D. Levine's short story Damage, published in January via

Illustration by Victor Mosquera, published in Tor.

In this story, we are told the story of the final battles of the Free Belt base Vanguard versus the Earth Alliance, from the perspective of Scraps -- the AI of a Free Belt fighter ship. Scraps is made of parts of other ships that have died, and has been programmed a unique AI to handle the specifications.

Honesty time: I am actually not much of a space military opera fan. Ships shooting ships in groups of people fighting just as they did here on Earth -- it isn't as interesting an area of sci-fi to me as some other areas right now. It has to have something special -- questions of identity / survival (ala BSG) or political intregue (ala Ancillary Justice) -- to get me interested.

But I did enjoy this short story, mainly for the narrator. Scraps struggles with her programming that enables a conscious. As told in the story, the programmer's reasoning is that a fear of death begets a better fighting machine (as it doesn't want to die), but it also creates the knowledge of the impact of death on the enemy. And this definitely has implications on how far an AI will go to follow orders that will destroy many lives.

Scraps is also programmed with an unconditional love for her pilot, which reminded me a little of Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice/Sword series (with a little less subtlety -- which can be forgiven given the short story vs novel setting). By the end of the story, I was rooting for Scraps, and I did want to see what happened.

If you are a fan of Leckie's series or like near space / military stories, you might enjoy this short. It has made me realize that I do probably need to give space opera another try. Readers -- have you any recommendations for a special space opera I should try?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © 2014 Exploring Worlds
Template by These Paper Hearts