Compared with a spaceship in distress, going to hell in a handbasket is roomy and slow!
your first real emergency, isn't it, Captain?"
"I suppose so," Somers answered vaguely.
"And you're responding to it like a stunned ox," Rajcik said. "Wake up, Captain! If you can't live with joy, at least try to extract some pleasure from your dying."
"Shut up," Somers said, with no heat. "Why don't you read a book or something?"
"I've read all the books on board. I have nothing to distract me except an analysis of your character."
Watkins returned to the cabin. "Well, I've activated your big electronic god. Would anyone care to make a burned offering in front of it?"
"Have you given it the problem?"
"Not yet. I decided to confer with the high priest. What shall I request of the demon, sir?"
"Give it all the data you can," Somers said. "Fuel, oxygen, water, food--that sort of thing. Then tell it we want to return to Earth. Alive," he added.
"It'll love that," Watkins said. "It'll get such pleasure out of rejecting our problem as unsolvable. Or b
The three-man crew seems doomed to die in the void between stars after their ship malfunctions and burns most of their fuel at once. They will miss Mars. So what would it hurt to consult the supercomputer they're hauling to Mars?
Nice characterization, good plotting, a little dated (transistors and microfilm,) but overall, the science is good (it's nice to find a story where the ship doesn't have infinite fuel, or speed).