Berserker Q5 - Worlds

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"They became aware of the real world surrounding them - a universe strange and immense beyond thought..."

Between the lines of the story, there's quite a lot of world-building. We learn a little of the Carmpan Race, which seems to be both telepathic and prophetic. We learn of the Aiyan, a semi-intelligent primate like species. We learn that humans have spread across the galaxy. We learn that machines can have minds, and there are mind-control beams. Was there enough world-building? Was it satisfying? What stood out?

Comments

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    For me there wasn't quite enough knowing how we had got to the situation in the first place. Have centuries or millennia passed since humankind moved outside the solar system? Did they learn by themselves how to use the c+ drive or were they taught by aliens? How big a volume was human space? Were berserkers the only threat or were there others? How did other races (like the Carmpan) manage to survive the berserkers?

    Once we were into the world, I felt the development was sufficient and credible... I just didn't know how we'd got there.

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    I liked this part of the work - I felt we got to see Saberhagen building the world as he went. I though the framing work was shoddy - if you're going to do it, do it well please. I'm kind of curious if there are significant changes of tone in the series as he changes e.g. the Carmpan seem to me to be an idea he just thought of when he was putting this book together, so maybe in later stories they become more of a drawing than a sketch. I must admit that I rather suspect the following stories are more replication rather than repetition though.

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    @RichardAbbott Wikipedia gives a bit more backstory, but not much. This perhaps evolves through future novels and stories.

    The original Berserkers were designed and built as an ultimate weapon, by a race now known only as the Builders, to wipe out their rivals, the Red Race, in a war which took place at a time corresponding to Earth's Paleolithic era. The Builders failed to ensure their own immunity from Berserker attack, or they lost those safeguards through an unknown malfunction that changed the Berserker programming, and they were exterminated by their own creation very shortly after the demise of the Red Race. The Berserkers then set out across the galaxy to fulfill their core programmed imperative, which is now, simply, to destroy all life wherever they can find it.

    A similar premise, though on a much smaller scale, was previously introduced by Walter M. Miller, Jr., in the 1954 short story "I Made You", described by reviewer N. Samuelson as "A pure 'sorcerer’s apprentice' sketch, about a war machine on the moon which kills anyone who comes within its range, including one of its programmers, because its control circuits are damaged."

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    I liked the range of worlds we saw, and the implied history of spread and collapse. The Esteelers came across as something that was explained and developed elsewhere; there were hints at the larger setting, but it wasn't handled well enough for me to believe it.

    I don't think we established that machines had minds, did we?

    I did like the idea that the berserkers were soulless machines, therefore destroying them was a morally simple act.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    I liked the range of worlds we saw, and the implied history of spread and collapse. The Esteelers came across as something that was explained and developed elsewhere; there were hints at the larger setting, but it wasn't handled well enough for me to believe it.

    Yeah, this was something that struck me as a bit of hand-wavy-ness. But then again, I thought that it was just part of the way the publication and creation of the world went hand in hand.

    I don't think we established that machines had minds, did we?

    I did like the idea that the berserkers were soulless machines, therefore destroying them was a morally simple act.

    I thought that (so far) this was a missed opportunity. I felt that, as the book progressed, the point of the stories became more and more how humans were affected among themselves when facing an existential threat (thanks @RichardAbbott ) rather than being the overcoming of a tangible threat, e.g. the berserkers are an opportunity,

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    The worlds actually described seemed to be close-Earth-analogs, rather than anything different. No constructed worlds, no strange and marvelous worlds, not harsh and unforgiving worlds. His Federation to defeat the Berserkers made sense as a temporary last-ditch alliance, though it seemed like it was tending towards an Empire later on. All the heroes are Human. Did any other species contribute? at least not in this collection.

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