Alien Stones

Publications

  • First publication
    • Orbit 11, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnamís 1972
  • Wolfe collection
  • Other reprints
    • Machines That Think: The Best Science Fiction Stories About Robots and Computers, ed. Isaac Asimov, Patricia S. Warrick, Martin H. Greenberg, Holt, Rinehart & Winston 1984

Comments

Interpretation

This story shows the triumph of the tech-minded Captain as compared to the Betazoid-like empaths. Caring nothing for machines, Youngmeadow breaks one in order to attract the aliens' attention; he dies for this mistake. Captain Daw figures out the alien numbering system and repairs the broken machine, making this first contact a success.

Some think the Captain deliberately sent Youngmeadow on the mission in hopes that he would be killed, because of his attraction to his wife, Helen. The name Helen, like Helen of Troy, does suggest a woman that men would kill for.

Unanswered Questions

Is it Daw or Wad that is the simulation? Or perhaps both are simulations, playing against each other one iteration after another in a simulated scenario.


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