He was afraid--not of the present or the future, but of the past. He was afraid of the thing tagged Reed Kieran, that stiff blind voiceless thing wheeling its slow orbit around the Moon, companion to dead worlds and silent space.
ng searchingly down at his face, showed a trace of relief. "You do know, don't you? For a moment I was afraid it hadn't worked."
He sat down on the edge of the bunk.
"How long?" asked Kieran.
Vaillant answered as casually as though it was the most ordinary question in the world. "A bit over a century."
* * * * *
It was wonderful, thought Kieran, how he could take a statement like that without getting excited. It was almost as though he'd known it all the time.
"How--" he began, when there was an interruption.
Something buzzed thinly in the pocket of Vaillant's shirt. He took out a thin three-inch disk of metal and said sharply into it,
A tiny voice squawked from the disk. It was too far from Kieran for him to understand what it was saying but it had a note of excitement, almost of panic, in it.
Something changed, hardened, in Vaillant's flat face. He said, "I expected it. I'll be right there. You know what to do."
He did somet
This SF story was written back in the day when it was considered certain that: 1) We are destined someday to explore intestellar space, and, 2) We will encounter intelligent life during our explorations.
Although neither supposition is a certainty anymore, the idea considered in this story is still interesting. What ethical issues arise if we discover a world with a dominant and technically advanced non-human species, with primitive humans living as animals?
Initially set on a space station in 1981, the story deals with reanimation after frozen sleep, political manipulation, and an interesting question of an intelligent non-human race "caring for" a primitive race of humans on their planet.
The characters have enough depth to tell them apart as individuals, the plotting is logical and interesting.
Excellent story that has aged really well. Love the title and the ending.
I understand a short story of this nature does not really lend to deep character development, but my word, every single character here is just plain annoying.
Well written and nice ideas