Friday, May 23, 2008

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Craters" (novelette, non-genre, free): Two stories - on terrorism & war

Good prose, but first of the two unnamed stories is sooo dark - it certainly is not my idea of leisure reading.

First one - perhaps first two thirds of the text - is about a new kind of human bomb in the arsenal of terrorists. In a world where governments require chip implants on birth in the body of babies for administrative reasons, there is a flourishing industry in explosive chip implants with long duration timers. A newborn is implanted with a bomb that will go off when the child is 5 or 6 years old - on a specific date & time!

By the end of the story, there are only conjectures about who does the inhuman bomb implanting in babies - their fundamentalist parents; or other organizations without parents knowledge, in collusion with their associates in hospitals.

What we see is shunned survivors - a woman whose husband & little daughter died in a bomb implanted in the child; 3 little kids whose bombs went off in crowded places because someone gave free tickets to their families on the day bombs were to go off; a little lonely girl who was used as a bomb & is now a severe cripple & her parents are also now dead.

Second story is about a weapon to prevent wars. It's less subtle that the arsenal of Overlords in Arthur Clarke's "Childhood's End". It's sort of a somewhat saner version of David Marusek's "Osama Phone Home". A bioengineered virus, (perhaps) spreads by air, harmless to humans except for a temporary but debilitating sickness. Spread among soldiers of both the warring sides by moles planted by whoever wants to avoid war.

In this story, the warring parties are Israel & Saudi Arabia - with US refusing to side with Israel. Two private bioengineering researchers in the US - former militarymen from Israel & Saudi Arabia, respectively - will play moles & ground their own militaries on the day of attack. Resulting sickness among troops is severe enough to attract international attention - hence effectively preventing war for a couple of years, at least!

Collected in.

  1. Gardner Dozois (Ed)'s "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection" (2008).

Fact sheet.

First published: Future Weapons of War/Baen, March 2007.
Rating: B
Download full text.