There’s the same sort of beats–similar to Avarna Kern, a set of humans left Earth-That-Was (😅) in some Past for a new world that has terraforming potential, as part of a mission to colonize the universe, since nothing bad ever came out of humans colonizing other people! Right? Right? Slowly, the best laid plans of Mice and Men (or in this case, Octopi and Men) are laid to waste and everyone tries to make do the best they can…
This time around, there’s a planet with strange life-like organisms which puts an immediate halt to any sort of terraforming plans, because the scientists on this mission are all actual scientists with no terrorist sleeper cells to be found. But there’s still one scientist who’s intent on terraforming a world. Except. Not for humans. For…his octopi.
It’s another delightful diversion as Tchaikovsky explores what intelligence looks like when viewed through the lens of cephalopods, who only recently have seized our consciousness through such medium such as My Octopus Teacher and that long form article trying to measure octopus intelligence through the metric of human intelligence. It’s the classic tale of human arrogance, yet again, except this time it’s not Humans + Portiids vs Octopus it’s really Everyone vs the mysterious We who are the real enemy and lifeform on the original planet. Slowly the mystery unravels, and communication (or lack thereof, completely realistically) becomes the sticking point. How do you communicate across species that have evolved entirely differently? Thank Kern for a distant, distant ancestor and Imperial C.
For a second time I’m delighted by how Tchaikovsky ties up the ultimate conflict–not with war and bloodshed, but with smarts and science!