QSFer Gina A. Pond has a new queer hard sci-fi book out, Survey book 2: Unity.
Jack Kirby just wants peace.
Deeply scarred from a failed mission and struggling with the loss of his lover, Jack takes a job as a Religious Program Specialist on a remote PreCol station. There, he finds what he never expected: a family. Marsha, a complicated woman with a deep connection to the spiritual world.
Jenny, a cheerful ensign with a dangerous past. Mark, driven to demolish the atavistic cult he was born into. Can Jack protect them all as they become entangled in an espionage game with galactic stakes?
Identities: Ace, Bi, Demi, Gay, Gender Fluid, Intersex, Lesbian, Non-Binary, Poly, Trans FTM, Trans MTF; BDSM, sex-worker positive, neurodivergent persons.
“Come in, John. Thank you for coming,” said Control through Sun Tzu’s comms output as the door opened to their rooms. Somehow, Sun Tzu had made it sound distinct as if they were actually speaking with their physical voice. This part of their quarters wasn’t really an office, but a control center with multiple screens and consoles from floor to ceiling.
How they could read them all, I didn’t know. But then again, they were
enhanced much more than the average Captain of a Survey ship. I came quietly over to where they were sitting in front of the consoles. The room was always disturbing to me, but I wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea of enhancements. John Smiths rarely were. I loved Sun Tzu, but to have them in my mind all the time would have been a disturbing lack of control.
“I take it you’ve seen the increase in chatter?”
They didn’t say anything more for several minutes. I could see them looking at the consoles and screens, assimilating information. I waited patiently. Control would sometimes forget that they needed verbal speech.
It made me wonder why Sun Tzu bothered with a human captain at all.
Then again, there are some leaps of logic that humans make that AIs can’t.
Or so Sun Tzu has told me.
“You need not lock up the data cube this time, John. We need to move up our timetable. Take the package to Musashi.”
“Your DMN is prepped and ready to go,” said Sun Tzu. “Musashi is expecting you.”
I was a little surprised. I didn’t ask if they were sure, though, because they were always sure. “Do we have all the assets we need?”
“Do I need to acquire them?”
“No.” Control turned from the consoles. “They are already in play.”
“Understood. I will leave within the hour, then. I’ll need to brief Jane before I leave.”
“How is our new asset?” they asked.
“Useful, just as you both predicted. He’s also been informative about the state of Unity Hub and Unity Intelligence. He’s confirmed some of your suspicions.”
Control sighed. “I wonder if we should have dealt with the Owenites sooner.”
I shook my head. “You know as well as I do how that would have turned out. No, we stick with our plan.” I turned to leave, then stopped.
“There’s nothing else I need to know, is there?”
“The clock is ticking, now, John. We’re running out of time.”
“Understood. I will see you when I return.”
Control nodded and turned back to their consoles. I left the room and the door closed behind me. I tapped my wristcom. “Jane, meet me at my airlock in twenty minutes. It’s time.”
“Acknowledged,” she said, and I made my way to my office to retrieve the data cube. I frowned. The fallout was going to be bad, but it would be even worse if things went unchecked. I sighed. If only humans could be less damn predictable, I thought.
Rev. Gina A. Pond is a writer, an ordained Christian pastor, and Wiccan priest. She currently lives in Switzerland with her Wife, likes to cook, weave and spin yarn, game a bit, has many fountain pens, and is a gadget geek.