Minlas’s Flowers by Alastair Reynolds

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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This is a novella that I decided to read as it provides a prequel to his Merlin stories which I thought I’d read in chronological order rather than published order. With a damaged spaceship Merlin is forced to take refuge on a planet with an intractable war in progress. With his superior technology he soon discovers that the world itself will be destroyed by an unstoppable cosmic event in the near future and finds himself faced with the moral dilemmas of how to get them to stop fighting in order to work together to save themselves.

This is a depressingly believable account of how suicidally stupid humans can be when it comes to setting aside their differences to deal with a great existential threat. Merlin must decide what technology to give these people with the strong possibility that they will use those technologies to kill each other rather than save their world. All very depressing, yes, but also all very relevant to the sort of problems we manage to create time and time again here on Earth.

4/5 stars
 

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