Monday, February 3, 2020

Luna Anthology: Samaritan, by Karl Gallagher

When I was put in charge of the Luna anthology, my first choice was to approach people I knew and could rely on. On authors who I knew would come through.

Karl was easily one of my first choices. His Torchship Trilogy was a finalist for the 2018 Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Science Fiction Novel... and it was nowhere near as squicky as Stranger in a Strange Land.

When bioengineered germs are floating on the wind, the only way for the Amish to avoid high technology is to move to the Moon. But even in that splendid desolation you can't help seeing the neighbors sometimes.

"Samaritan." Thomas' people settled on the Moon to avoid contamination from biotech and nanotech gadgets. But when a high-tech spacer crashes Thomas must risk exile from his home to save the stranger's life.

As our world experiments with new technology, it's hard to be in the control group. Peer pressure forces people to buy smartphones and join Facebook. GMO-phobes find their "pure" veggies are catching pollen from improved plants. When we have nanotech robots and artificial bacteria it'll be even harder to block unwanted tech.

So what's someone wanting the simple life to do? Move away. Far away.

To someplace where no breeze can carry the latest invention into your yard. Naturally there's no place on Earth like that--we only have the one atmosphere.

The true control group will have to live on the Moon, separated by vacuum from technology they don't trust. But who'd want to live without the latest and greatest toys? We already have them: the Amish, better known as "Old Order" communites, and Hutterite and other denominations who form isolated farming communities separate from modern society.

Would they be willing to move to the Moon? Certainly not all. But if that's the only way to prevent nanobots infiltrating their bloodstream, some would. They'd likely be subsidized by the kinds of billionaires who worry about AIs and other existential risks, and this wouldn't be an option until there are existing lunar settlements.

So in the year 2100 there may be a portion of the Moon "off limits" to current technology, inhabited by religious settlers using technology close to the Apollo era.

I originally conceived that idea for the GURPS Transhuman Space roleplaying setting. This is a game where where a dead person's mind copied into a robot is an almost boring character. I wanted to create a foil for the transhumanist weirdness flooding the setting, and a runaway Amish kid in space seemed just the ticket.

Some years later it came back to me as I was brainstorming a new story. Rather than make my viewpoint character a runaway I chose someone who wants to stay home and settle down. When he sees a "modern" injured after his spaceship crashes there's a dilemma--help the stranger or keep himself safe?


Karl K. Gallagher is a systems engineer, currently performing data analysis for a major aerospace company. In the past he calculated trajectories for a commercial launch rocket start-up, operated satellites as a US Air Force officer, and selected orbits for government and commercial satellites. Karl lives in Saginaw, TX with his family. His novels Torchship, Torchship Pilot, and Torchship Captain are available on Amazon and Audible.

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