The Freeze-Frame Revolution

The Freeze-Frame Revolution

The Freeze-Frame RevolutionPeter Watts has written some pretty interesting tales, and this one has the hallmarks of something amazing, and by the looks of it, it’s the start.

Let’s rewind. We have a working kind of generation ship whose goal is to leave Earth and set up an interstellar highway. The crew, engineered since birth for the job, wakes up, sets up a new overpass, then goes back to sleep, for eons. Over and over and over. It’s a wild idea overall.

A pretty omniscient computer runs the ship, CHIMP, that wakes up different groups at different times, manages the ship while everyone snores on. Easy! Right? Hah!

The problem is, there is no end. When do they stop, how do they know? This bothered me; it also bothered the crew. Programmatically, I’m really surprised at the frame that has to be built here. The winning scenario is that the many years removed Earth civilization will travel up to them through one of their gates and say, “Hi there! All done!”

That seems rife with problems. As my grandfather said, “Feces happens.”

The book is built upon this idea of waking, working, sleeping, rinse repeat, and figuring out a way to hide a mutiny within the pages, between the lines, so a sophisticated AI doesn’t know about it.

I enjoyed the book for the idea set forth. What I didn’t like was the trope activated. You have a one method win solution for the computer and crew to end on. That seems horrible from any point of view. Why didn’t the Earthers set up an iterative check-in, roll back concept after X (X=100) gates, or time-oriented? This binary situation creates everything of this mess and it’s hard for the technologist in me to grapple with that one fulcrum. The people who made the project, the AI, the amazing things to be described within are all hinging on a one-win scenario? Nah, that’s inconceivable.

I liked the idea, characters, technology, strange concepts, shadows in the dark, and unknown things to come—I just really had a tough time accepting the premise. Get by that, and you’ll be good.