Weeding Womb


Valour by Chris Beckett. A wonderful story of stagnation and change. It's a simple concept - in the not-so-far future, humanity finds and decodes a steady broadcast from Cassiopeia. And ignores it.

Turns out the broadcast is mostly philosophy, not fancy new technology like the various funding governments wanted. So, just a few years after the first decoding, funding is drying up like general interest did long ago.

But that's just the backstory. Into this appears Vincent, a typical ordinary young-and-vital computer-oriented man who after a chance meeting with philosopher and Cassiopeia-broadcast-studier Heinrich Gruber, re-examines his life and the lives of people around him.

The 'valour' of the title is one of the three aspects of Cassiopeian morality philosophy - the one missing from the story's setting.

It seems that, as we are a rather binary society (male/female, good/evil, body/soul, etc./etc.), Cassiopeians are trinary (male/female/'promale', valour/gentleness/evil, substance/life/soul, etc./etc./etc.). Their morality is divided into valour, gentleness, and evil. Good doesn't exist, per se, as it means that the mutually incompatible valour and gentleness need to work together, seemingly a rarity in human society.

More often, it seems, valour and evil unite (such as in violent dictatorships) or gentleness and evil unite. The story's version of Europe fits this bill - people who wall up their problems (unemployment, racism, homelessness) and ignore them, hoping they'll go away.

As Vincent realises this, he takes a look at his life and sees how it has stagnated along with his society, and how he needs to try change it.

A nice ending, and a hopeful one after seeing the darkness that humanity is (in Real Life) rapidly attaining. Highly recommended.

The Archon

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