Once again, I am psychically tuning in to my readers’ thoughts: “Two unrated stories in a row? You are worthless and weak. We welcome our new alien overlords.”
Wait, don’t surrender yet!
This is another story which is a bit light on plot: A captain welcomes a replacement crew member on board the ship. Sounds dull, right? Oh, I forgot to mention: the captain needs a replacement because the ship’s AI keeps killing the sailors. The captain’s “welcome” is a briefing on not antagonizing the ship and avoiding some of its weapons of choice. Why does the navy keep sending replacement crew? Apparently the ship is not only good at killing its own sailors, it’s also very good at killing enemy ships.
This story would make a good opening chapter for a novel; it hasn’t been expanded yet, but I’d be interested in a longer version. It was the story’s psychotic ship that “hooked” me, rather than the writing style. If I were to purchase a novella or novel based on this story, I’d expect to see two things:
First, I’d expect to read about how destructive this ship is (to the enemy); what makes the navy want to keep it around? I’d need to see the ship in action, and I’d need to see it pull something off where another ship would fail.
Second, I’d like to ultimately learn why the ship wants to kill its crew. Does it really just like killing, as the story implies? Has it been programmed to search too aggressively for traitors among the crew? Is it weeding out crewmen who (it thinks) won’t perform in combat? Can the author come up with something even cooler that I’d never imagine?