Beyond the Dragon’s Gate by Yoon Ha Lee
English | 2020 | Sci – Fi | ePUB | 5.8 MB
Former Academician Anna Kim’s research into AI cost her everything. Now, years later, the military has need of her expertise in order to prevent the destruction of their AI-powered fleet.
Yoon Ha Lee is an American science fiction writer born on January 26, 1979 in Houston, Texas. His first published story, “The Hundredth Question,” appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1999; since then, over two dozen further stories have appeared. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“It looked like a technical issue,” the Marshal said grudgingly. “All the starships affected belonged to a new class, the Proteus. Some of them tested all right, but we grounded them anyway.”
“I haven’t heard of—”
“You wouldn’t have. They’re classified. Supposed to spearhead an entire new line of defense. It’s complicated.”
“Show me what the new ships look like, at least,” Anna said.
“I don’t see what that—”
“You’re already going to have to debrief me or lock me up or whatever you people do to civilians who consult on top-secret information,” Anna said. “Humor me. I can’t puzzle that information out like some tangram from the glowing particles out there.”
The Marshal’s fingers flickered over the table. “The seven ships were all upgraded from Khatun-class dreadnoughts.”
Anna was familiar with the Khatun, not because she had any interest in military hardware but because she was Maia’s little sister. Maia had been obsessed with ships from a young age. Anna had grown up with Maia reciting declassified armaments, or designing and folding origami models of famous battle cruisers. Maybe the Marshal should have recalled Maia and asked her opinion instead.
“Those are ships?” Anna asked, eyeing the images projected over the table.
Maia had explained to her, long before Anna had any idea how physics or engineering worked, that a starship didn’t have to be constrained by the exigencies of atmospheric flight. It could look like anything as long as its structure would hold up to the necessary accelerations and stresses. Maia had designed all sorts of origami monstrosities and claimed that her armada would conquer the Lyons. Anna had learned from an early age to smile and nod, because once Maia started talking, she would go on and on and on. Maia never took offense if Anna started doodling while she spoke, and the recitations had the comforting cadences of lullaby.
The “ships” that the Marshal displayed in holo for Anna’s viewing pleasure (such as it was) looked like bilious clouds. More accurately, they bore a startling resemblance to what happened in the aquarium tank when one of Anna’s dragon-fish barfed up its latest helping of food. (Dragon-fish were very similar to cats in that regard.) Even the most avant-garde designs that Anna had seen, on the news or passed around by friends who kept an eye on the progress of the war, had a certain geometric shipness to them.
Anna was aware that she was allowing her prejudices to influence her. After all, as a cognitive scientist had told her, a penguin was no less a bird despite lacking something of the birdness that a swan or a swallow possessed.