I’m not a fan of “novellas” since they seem to be short and don’t build on characters or give any depth to the story. But, since this is part of the Silver Ships series, I had to read it. I am, by my own assessment, a cranky, old, war veteran and grandpa. That grandpa part gets me every time I read these books. My emotional side comes out and I can’t stop it. Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m a softie when reading Mr. Jucha’s books because he can say things in such a way that brings out the emotions or at least he does with me. But enough of that. What’s this story about.
Well, I saw this coming way back when Alex Racine and Julien became best friends. If your new to the series, I really encourage you to go back to the beginning and start reading it from the there. You’ll find these a really different kind of science fiction story. I won’t go into a lot of background, but suffice it to say, Alex Racine loves people and sentients of all kinds. Ok, the people part you might get, but what’s that about “sentients”? Well, within the Confederation system there exist a massive number of “Self-Aware Digital Entities” or SADEs. These SADEs were built by Méridiens to serve as needed and represented the pinnacle of their technological achievement. SADEs sat in black boxes aboard every starship, cruise ship, cargo hauler, and just about any other space traveling vessel the Méridiens constructed. They also existed in all the major “Houses” of the various governing families. Shipborne SADEs ran the ship. They were the ship so to speak. They did have a Captain whom they deferred to on most issues except on the safety of the ship and crew. Of course, no Captain would ever willing put his ship and crew in danger, but if that were to happen the SADE would overrule those actions and protect the people about that vessel. As for the house SADEs, they ran the huge palaces and estates of these wealthy Méridiens. All of these SADEs had done this for thousands of years. And that’s the way things were.
Except, Alex Racine rescued a derelict Méridien ship who’s SADE was about to die. At that time, Alex was just a space miner with his tug. He captured small asteroids and brought them back to the smelters for processing. Only this time he captured a very fast moving silver ship full of one SADE and Méridiens. That act would have repercussions throughout the Méridien civilization as well as eventually Earth’s civilization. Alex didn’t see the SADEs as tools or servants to do his bidding. He treated them as the sentient beings they were. He and Julien, the first SADE he met, became instant friends which eventually led to the discussions of why was Julien confined to a black box aboard a space ship? There was no good answer to that question. Julien had also thought about this and was very interested in becoming “free”. So, he drew up a set of plans for building a human-like construct to which his crystal matrix would be transferred allowing him to become mobile and interact with humans on an equal basis.
That was the beginning of the “Allora” story although it happened many years prior. Allora is a brand new luxury cruise liner. She has just been finished and has started providing ships passage to various locations throughout the Méridien system. She is also just starting to learn about the world in which she was created. She want’s to know what it means to be a SADE and she wants to know if all SADEs are like her or she like them. She is so inquisitive that she becomes some what of a pleasant nuisance to the other older SADES. She also begins to have some thoughts not common to a SADE so young. Usually, most SADEs take a century or two just of figure out where they fit in with the other SADEs. Allora eventually finds out about Alex Racine, Julien and the Harakens. Now she wants to meet this most famous New Terran. She also has another idea that will shake the foundations of Méridien society and civilization. Can you guess what it is?
Another great, if not kind of short, story in the universe of the Silver Ships. I hope there’s more, lots more to come.