Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Rosebud by Paul Cornell: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

Rosebud by Paul Cornell

Rosebud is a sci-fi novella that takes place in a pebble-sized spaceship somewhere around Saturn in the far future. It’s manned by consciousnesses of what used to be humansexcept for one of them who is an AI constructand they’ve been there for hundreds of years, working for a corporation that apparently rules the earth. They are happy to serve.

Then they encounter something unexpected: a pebble even smaller than their ship that emits no light and blocks their communications to earth. The crew sets to explore. Or do they? Or have they? Or did they lose communications after all?

Who even are they?

Told in the point of view of Haunt, an AI construct of computer games presenting as a goth made of smoke, this is a story about time. Whether or not it’s real, simultaneous, and/or malleableand who is there to alter it. The alien pebble takes the crew, Diana, Huge, Bob and Quin to their pasts (Haunt doesn’t have one), and the reader is shown in a few short pages why the humanity and the crew are in their current state (a human woman, a ball of hands, a balloon, and a swarm of insects, respectively, except when theyre not).

This wasn’t an entirely easy novella to get a hang of, but it was interesting and even amusing at times. The ending is good, though the reader is left to make their own conclusions about what it means. Is this a one-off event, or has the crew been stuck for centuries with the pebble, constantly altering the state they and the past are in. And does the answer even matter.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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