Title: Moral Flux
Author: Stephen Sackleigh
Publisher: Stephen Sackleigh, Copyright 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
An android piloting a small, science exploration ship is rerouted by his owners to find out why one of their nearby outposts on one of Jupiter’s small moons has not checked in recently. When he arrives, he finds the outpost has been intentionally destroyed, and one of the workers is fleeing for her life. The inexplicable inhumanity this exhibits forces him to make a choice. Should he stay out of it, or should he act to protect someone in danger of being harmed? If he does act, it may require that he harm other people, which his programming prohibits.
Moral Flux is a space opera with spaceships and androids. It is also an adventure, in which the good guys take on an evil and powerful corporate enemy to right wrongs in classic Robin Hood fashion. The character development is good, the setting is well described, and the future tech and culture are believable, although neither is terribly futuristic. It’s good science fiction with a touch of moral philosophy, which, through an almost human android, explores questions of human ethics and free choice.
Those are the good points I saw. As for negatives, there are a few of those as well. This story could and probably should have been expanded into a longer book. I found some of the story elements a bit disjointed and occasionally too serendipitous. Our android hero arrives just in time to save the damsel in distress, for example, even though the outpost must have been attacked much earlier. At one point, the narrative jumps to the abduction of a conman from a passenger ship. There is no foreshadowing of this event. We don’t see our heroes plan for it or even discuss it beforehand. All of a sudden, this is happening, but we don’t find out why until after. Then there is the conman’s almost instant agreement to join them. It all seemed to be rushing the story to conclusion, which it should not. This story overall is quite good, and I would have stuck around to read those bits that were left out. I also thought the prose could use some polish in places and another round with a proofreader. There were not a lot of typos, but there were a few.
I liked this story more than many I’ve read recently, and I recommend it for science fiction fans, especially those who enjoyed Asimov’s robot books.