A Murmuration • 2015 • Hard SF short story by Alastair Reynolds


Synopsis There is some kind of magic in the dance of starlings, as you can see in the video above. The protagonist tries to analyze the movements of the starling flocks with a BigData approach and write a scientific paper about the experiment. After a while, he starts not only watching but introduces artificial disturbances into the murmuration to break it up and reform. This changes the original intent of the paper, much to the disgress of the scientific referee.

Review I loved the exchange of insides of minds of the scientist and his referee with all its academic meta-discussions. This is Hard SF per excellence. Happily, it turned out very differently. As soon, as the scientist introduced computing processing with NAND gates into the murmuration, I started disbelieving the whole setup. It came to a nice conclusion which left me puzzling for a while but finally figured it out what was behind the scenes. Slow setup, long message, great!

Meta: isfdb. This short story was published March 2015 in Interzone. It was nominated for the Nebula Award.



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