The Ship That Forgot Itself
by Daniel Rosen
Read by Stuart Jaffe
Listen to the audio version
I am Ship. I ferry souls through empty space, my course set for Kepler 186, still some 550
light years distant. I am full of life's kingdoms: plants, insects, fungi and bacteria. Humans. I am
38,000 square kilometers of airtight aluminium silicon carbide matrix wrapped around a single
tiny world. I protect life from the freezing vacuum, contain it and encompass it. I am large, I
contain multitudes, and I am very much alone.
"Have you always been Ship?" asks Annie Hou, age nine. "Did you used to have a
I reach into my memories, into long decades of captain's logs and maintenance charts. I
shuffle through audio and video, digging through hours of conversation. It seems I ought to have
had a name. Other driftcolonies had names, titles, trademarks. I dig deeper, searching teaching
materials and archives. I have been called things besides Ship, but none of them true names.
"It is possible that I was once named."
"What do you mean, possible? You know everything!" Annie crosses her legs and twists
from side to side, stretching.
"Not everything." I dig into my nursing archives for a proper redirection technique. "How
are your improper fractions, Annie?" I say, displaying five over two on the child's nictitator lens,
the second eyelid that offers a visual overlay. "Can you explain to me how 5/2 and 2 ½ are the
Annie nods, her short-cropped black hair curling above her eyes. "Ship?"
"Can I do tactics with Xiaolan if I finish the rest of the exercises?"
I run a simple probability algorithm. "If you finish within the hour."
Annie Hou nods and sets her shoulders, blinking through a series of division problems
with newfound determination. Before turning my focus to maintenance schedules, I note her
tenacity and desire for friendship, her drive to socialize. These are leadership skills.