Skip to main content

"Number Thirty-Nine Skink" by Suzanne Palmer

"Number Thirty-Nine Skink" by Suzanne Palmer 

This story comes from the March 2017 issue of  "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine".  Writeen by Suzanne Palmer. 

This story was a little bit mystery and a little bit suspense rolled up into a fun Sci-Fi exploration of a new planet.  We start off by being introduced to the character which calls itself Kadey.  Kadey was in the middle of creating life with the blueprint "Number Thirty-Nine Skink."  We watched the process unfold as Kadey mixed just the right molecules to form life.  After the creature was created he releases Number Thirty-Nine Skink into the wild of an unknown planet. 

 We soon discover that Kadey is an artificial life form brought with a team of humans that were sent to explore the planet Kelomne.   The team used Kadey to seed new life on the planet and take samples of the local ground, water, and flora.  Kadey also had a cool feature that allowed it to basically disassemble life on the planet and recreate the molecules.  However, the team that brought Kadey disappeared and Kadey was left alone with a sole person named, Mike. 

Soon after everyone else disappeared Mike died.  Kadey was left to fend for itself.  So we followed Kadey around the planet while it seeded new life and explored it new surroundings.  The mission was for a select area of the planet, but soon after Mike died Kadey goes outside the mission parameters.  He starts to take on a life of it's own with no one left to direct it what to do. 

During the night Kadey always shut down to recharge and conserve energy.  One morning he discovers scratches on it's legs that couldn't of been from romping through the flora of the planet.  So the next night Kadey doesn't completely shut down and stayed "awake" during the night.  Kadey soon discovered the cause of his scratches.  Some of the local plant life attacked him.  That meant they had evolved defensive skills which meant there was a predator they had to look out for.  There was more life on the planet than first realized.  

Was this predator the reason why the mission was aborted, or why everyone disappeared?  Or was there another reason.  Kadey would have to access some off limit data storage to find that out, but if he was wrong it would shut Kadey down for good.  He would have to discover what this threat to the local life was and maybe some of his questions would be answered. 

This was a fun story.  As I mentioned earlier it had some suspense and mystery mixed in.  That added to the tension of the story.  What normally could have been a fairly boring story just following around A.I. life around a new planet turned into a kind of whodunit story. 

I like how the author created the character for this story.  the character although just a machine, was a very complex character.  You almost could feel that a machine was expressing emotions.  Loss over a friend when Mike died and excitement when new life was discovered.  You felt for the character by the end of the story and for being a machine that was some well done writing. 

Overall a fantastic science fiction story.  I can see why it was the title story of this months issue of Asimov.  I would be pleased to read some more from this author.


Popular posts from this blog

"Red Card" by S.L. Gilbow

"Red Card" by S.L. Gilbow
This story comes from the anothology "Brave New Worlds" edited by John Joseph Adams.
This story had an interesting concept.  A government program in Merry Valley gives anonymous and random red cards to some of the residents.  A government issued revolver is also given along with the red card.  These red cards entitle the carrier of the card to become what is known as an "enforcer." 
An enforcer gets to kill one person of their choosing for any reason.  They can kill with impunity, but must follow the laws and guidelines of the program to not get in trouble.  As long as the guidelines are followed there are no repercussions

"Extraction Request" by Rich Larson

"Extraction Request" by Rich Larson
This story comes from the anthology "The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Vol. 2" edited by Neil Clarke.
This is a story about a squad leader, named Elliot, and his squad.  Elliot is the squad leader of the team that was flying through the air of the planet.  He is also the squad leader addicted to pain killers.  Although he tries to hide this fact from his squad many of them notice the changes in him.  He's not fooling anyone.
The squad wasflying through the air of a planet when they hit a smart mine and went down.  The planet was covered in large swathes of fungi.  Fields of it for miles.  Small amounts of flora, but pretty much just the fungi all around them.
They went down pretty hard, but with only one casualty.  Beasley was pretty much sheared in half, but still coherent.  He sent out a ripple to the squad.  Each squad member saw the flash of light on their optic visor that allowed them an up or down vote on whe…

"Under Cover of Darkness" by Christopher Golden

"Under Cover of Darkness" by Christopher Golden
This story comes from the collection "Tell My Sorrows To The Stones" written by Christopher Golden.
This story started out following a national guardsman, Carl Weston, waiting in a trench.  We aren't sure what he is waiting for yet, but we find out he is "babysitting" one of the new guardsman, Brooksy.  Soon we find out the National Guard is working with Border Patrol on the Mexican Border.
The Border Patrol had intel that there was a cartel running illegals across the borders and making them smuggle cocaine at the same time.  A double bonus for the cartel.  The Border Patrol setup an operation to stop this shipment of drugs and illegals crossing the border withthe National Guard backing them up.
Soon illegals crossed the border from Mexico into the United States carrying backpacks full of drugs.