Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘The Cold Equations’ by Tom Goodwin

with 7 comments

This is one of those stories where the hero has to shoot a puppy to prove what a noble but tough consequentialist he is. Obviously in order to do so the author must massively stack the deck; in this instance, Goodwin makes the logistics ridiculously tight and the security ridiculously slack.

‘The Cold Equations’ is one of the most famous SF stories ever written but knowing the punchline meant there was no reason to actually read it and I spent the whole story waiting for it to be over. I did like this bit though:

Yet, to protect such as her from the results of their own ignorance of the frontier, there had been a sign over the door that led to the section of the Stardust that housed EDS’s; a sign that was plain for all to see and heed:

UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL
KEEP OUT!

Wow, that is a strongly worded sign! Who wouldn’t expect to be pushed out of an airlock after disobeying it?

Quality: *
Hardness: *****

About these ads

Written by Martin

8 June 2010 at 08:53

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I think they have that same sign over the US/Canadian border.

    Peter Hollo

    8 June 2010 at 10:22

  2. Damn those violent Canadians!

    chance

    8 June 2010 at 13:00

  3. There was an utterly ridiculous television adaptation of this story in which the ship clearly contained many stowaway masses of entirely superfluous stuff that could be jettisoned.

    Rich

    8 June 2010 at 20:49

  4. There’s an enormously long rambling letter from John W. Campbell to Theodore Sturgeon, in which he happens to mention he believes that the reason “The Cold Equations” was so powerful was that it showed that “Human beings CAN be sacrificed to the good of the race”. Sturgeon thought “The Cold Equations” was “one of the most effective stories ever written.” (NYT, 1974). I sometimes think that it had some influence on Sturgeon’s “The Man Who Lost the Sea”, which similarly has the individual dying, but the space mission succeeding.

    Matthew Davis

    8 June 2010 at 23:54

  5. Man, Campbell’s anthropotriumphalism gets creepier with every added data point.

    David Moles

    10 June 2010 at 11:25

  6. [...] by Anne McCaffrey ‘Message Found in a Copy of “Flatland”‘ by Rudy Rucker ‘The Cold Equations’ by Tom Goodwin ‘The Land Ironclads’ by HG Wells ‘The Hole Man’ by Larry Niven [...]

  7. THIS IS IN REFERENCE TO THE STORY BY TOM GODWIN’S “THE COLD EQUASIONS”. I’VE READ THE STORY AND HAVE SEEN THE TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE.

    IT IS THE SADDEST TV EPISODE I’VE EVER SEEN AND SHOULD BE REQUIRED VIEWING FOR ANYONE GOING INTO THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY. THIS IS TELEVISION AND SCIENCE FICTION AT IT’S FINEST.

    THE AUTHOR, PUBLISHER, LETTER WRITERS OF THE ’50’S, AND THE BLOGERS OF TODAY, AS WELL AS THE FUTURE, ARE DOING EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO. TALK ABOUT IT NOW, TALK ABOUT IT IN THE FUTURE, BEFORE THIS SCENARIO HAPPENS.

    THIS STORY CAN STILL HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. THAT IS, IF PEOPLE NOW AND IN THE FUTURE KEEP IT ALIVE IN THEIR HEARTS AND SEE TO IT THAT NO PILOT OR CAPTAIN WOULD EVER HAVE TO EXECUTE SUCH A TERRIBLE PROCEDURE. THAT NO IGNORANT, NAIVE GIRL EVER WOULD HAVE TO DIE. AND, NO PARENT (WHICH VERY WELL COULD BE OUR GREAT GRAND CHILDREN) EVER RECEIVES SUCH A HEART WRENCHING LETTER.

    I THINK IT’S EVERYBODY’S DESIRE THAT THIS STORY REMAINS FICTION AND NEVER BECOMES PROPHECY. IF THIS IS ACHIEVED, AND LIVES ARE SAVED, THEN SCIENCE FICTION WILL HAVE DONE IT’S JOB.

    TIM J. MCKEE

    23 October 2012 at 12:52


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers

%d bloggers like this: