The Cold Calculations

Today’s post title kinda comes from a story written before I was born.  Tom Godwin’s The Cold Equations was published in 1954 and, about fifteen years later, was deemed a classic of the science fiction field by The Science Fiction Writers of America.  A long story short, it’s about an emergency space ship sent to deliver medical supplies to a colony world, and the pilot discovers there’s an eighteen year old girl hiding aboard the ship who decided to hitch a ride because she wanted to see her brother.  However, the ship carries only enough fuel to handle the delta v needed to get from the mother ship to the planet’s surface based upon the calculated pre-stowaway weight, and because she weighs slightly more than a cell phone, at the end of the story she’s sent out the airlock like Laura Roslin herself discovered the girl.

The moral of the story is the universe doesn’t care who you are, you screw up and you’re gonna die.  Which is pretty true when you think about it, because the universe doesn’t give a shit about you–and if you read anything about the things were discovering out there, you’ll see it’s looking for new and inventive ways to kill us.

But nobody dies today; everybody lives, ’cause The Doctor said so–and besides, there’s no need for killing, at least not yet.  Not in my fictional word . . .

Kerry’s a little lost in his thoughts as he zooms over Selena’s Meadow, and it set up the post’s title, because if there’s one thing Kerry’s starting to understand, it’s cold.

And for your viewing enjoyment, follow Kerry's route along the line from left to right.

And for your viewing enjoyment, follow Kerry’s route along the lower line from left to right.


(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

The race started well. Kerry began on the inside in fifth but shot to third half way through Woodland Path. He went after Rivânia Suassuna from Åsgårdsreia and Penny the moment they were over Selena’s Meadow. This was their first race with snow on the ground, and Kerry had to fall back so he’d know where the leaders were, as he didn’t want to run into them—

Which he’d continue to do for that and the next six laps.

They only place anyone could make time without fear of hitting anyone was in the air, and the moment they were airborne and picking up speed the wind chill came down on them hard. The minus fifty wind chill the Salem Overnight flight encountered was mind-numbing, but Kerry never spoke much of the minus twenty wind chill they dealt with for their overflight of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. He never mentioned it because it was something they—the entire flight—knew they would need to withstand when they were on The Polar Express, and to do so for far longer than the few hours before arriving home.

There was a huge difference between that cold and the chill Kerry felt now: on the first and this last overnight flight, all that was necessary was set a heading and fly straight. Here he had to keep his mind on rising, diving, and turning, all usually being done while avoiding other racing and the safety enchantment.

But he didn’t have time to think about what had already happened: it was the last lap, and he was approaching Meadow Climb at high speed. Turning to the left as he cleared the trees, he pulled his broom to the right and set up in the middle of Pentagram Pass. It was only as he began passing Blodeuwedd Coven tower that checked to see if he still had someone behind him.

An Åsgårdsreia flier continued to stalk him from about five PAV lengths back. He quickly checked the ID on their broom and had his suspicions confirmed: it was Anna Laskar, who’d stuck with him since this point in the first lap. Kerry relaxed, because Anna didn’t worry him. Her B Team records showed she was a clean racer, and in those sections of the Blue Line where someone could get aggressive and dangerous, she’d decided not to push her luck and remained behind him. He knew it was entirely possible that she was going to make a move against him at some point during this last lap, just as Alex had during his first Blue Line race—and there was even the possibility that she may do something to hurt him because she was friends with Lisa—

As he set up for his dive into The Trench he discounted this last thought: Anna wasn’t racing like someone who was out to get him. She was being careful and deferred his experience where necessary. There was also the moment before the race processional, when the fliers were setting up inside The Diamond, where Anna came over and not only wished everyone a good race, but said she’d do her best not to cause a problem on the course, and that she’d get out of the way of the more experienced racers if it should come to that.

No, Anna didn’t worry Kerry. But he’d not seen Lisa since the green lights flashed . . .


It would appear that (1) flying in low wind chills isn’t fun, (2) racing in them is even less fun, and (3) Anna seems to be a good sport and not an evil little bitch like her friend Lisa, who is still on Kerry’s mind.  But we’re only about a quarter of a way through that last lap, and like I said, the universe doesn’t give a shit if you’re cold or worried–

And neither does the author.

But then again, I am the universe here.