Monday, March 16, 2015

The Big Ship and the Wise Old Owl, by Sarah A. Hoyt

As a sign of my gratitude for the many hours spent in Sarah's Virtual Diner, sipping the excellent coffee and losing my cares in the company of the regulars, I am marking the eve of Sarah's surgery by tasting some of her fantastic literary dishes. You could do worse.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Little people, doing little things, and that's what makes it all go.
March 15, 2015

I don't remember the first story I read about traveling arcologies. I don't know if the term 'Universe Ships' covers the entire genre. The Big Ship is of the type in which everybody is awake all for the entire voyage, making it a multi-generation ship. In other stories, nobody is awake, the people and animals are all in what used to be called 'suspended animation', but seems now to be known as 'cold sleep.' And sometimes there is a caretaker crew. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle use the caretaker crew to take over the ship and force a loss of status on the sleepers in last least two books: humans on Plateau in "A Gift From Earth" and the Fithp, elevated elephants in "Footfall."
And that's what is happening in "TBSATWOO." However, the designers of the ship had a safety plan.
Which was revealed in the form of nursery rhymes.
There is a really interesting little bit here given to us by the linguist: nursery rhymes are there to teach us IMPORTANT THINGS NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN! But...why? Surely the people running the ship will do the right thing, Won't they?
Has a bureaucracy EVER given up power?
So, a computer repairman (Ciar), a linguist (Ennio), and a mechanic (Nia) find themselves in the unique set of circumstances that allows them to make the transfer possible without riots.They each have a small part to play; they aren't the MAIN forces; but without them doing the next right thing, people could very easily panic, and maybe the ship doesn't complete the mission. Little people, doing little things, and that's what makes it all go.

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