For over a hundred and fifty years, the rarest and most valuable substance in the solar system has been mined from the only location where it exists in significant quantity: Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede.
For all of this time, the remote mining outpost has been serviced by clone slaves who are drugged into mindlessness, and all of it has been monitored, controlled, and administered by the artificial intelligence known as Prinox.
But what happens when a failed rescue mission causes a small band of escaped clones to begin questioning their lives, their society, and their very existence? Hunted by deadly killing machines, confused and scared, these renegade slaves are about to find out-for better or worse - just what it means to be human.
©2013 George Wright Padgett (P)2013 George Wright Padgett
Spindown concerns a mining operation on Ganymede operated by clone slaves and overseen by an artificial intelligence (AI). The tale commences with a "Greenpeace-like" activist group who attempt to intervene to liberate the clones only to be killed by the AI's defense mechanism. What follows is the ordeal of one clone to avoid "reduction" or destruction due to his contact with these outside individuals. This clone treks to safety with a slowly dawning, but incomplete recognition that his worldview is so limited as to be essentially infantile in nature.
The setting is obviously futuristic with both cloned human beings that can survive by transdermal skin packs as well as some settlement and exploitation of the solar system. There's also the AI that is sophisticated enough to eliminate the need for intelligent humans to oversee. Most of the story is tedious and slow moving with the listener understanding far more than the protagonists most of the time. Problematic however is the vague references to a system running on automatic pilot, but without any explanation as to why this has evolved. If the original rationale for this endeavor was the presence of a rare mineral (only found of Ganymede), why has operations been abandoned and largely forgotten? Someone should have bought up the rights even if the company no longer exists.
The narration mirrors the slow pace and tedious nature of the tale. Voices are rendered more than adequately, but the lack of actual progress by the characters does not engender empathy for any of them. Perhaps a sequel might answer some questions and offer a more compelling tale.
Very thought provoking, but mixed with enough action to keep everything moving.
Asimov, and Clarke stories
Without giving any spoilers, I was moved by Fowler & Sholve's final scene at the superintendent station.
Buck's explanation at the dock of the spacecraft and Roon's choice to return to a housing compartment
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