Starfish: Watts's Explanation

Maire wrote:

>Please explain.
>If the new microbe gets out, a Behemoth age will result.
>The smart gel is programmed to blow up the fault, if it thinks that
>will happen, to destroy the Rift, and the new microbe
>the smart gel wants behemoth age
>the smart gel blows up the fault

>Where did I go wrong????????

It probably wasn't you. It was probably the author.

But it does make sense if you parse it out. Here's the scoop as I see it:

Remember, there are a lot of gels out there, busily trying to disinfect the net. One of them--call it MasterGel--gets press-ganged into Behemoth-containment-duty. A second gel (call it BenthicGel) is installed to do the dirty work down on the rift proper.


  1. MG, with its unsuspected views on the virtue of parsimony, is working at a global level to spread Behemoth;
  2. BG is on the rift with orders to nuke the neighborhood, but not until collatoral damage back on shore falls below some "acceptable-loss" threshold. Hence its cycling sims;
  3. MG sends a lifter to extract the rifters and spare them such a fate;
  4. Rowan and the Grid Authority (which could be described as the heroes of the piece--they are, after all, trying very hard to save the world) figure this out, but too late; MG's plan is already underway and Joel Kita's lowering a winch down to Beebe; so
  5. The GA has no choice but to blow the rift manually, before the rifters can escape. (BenthicGel doesn't like this much, because the collatoral damage is going to be way too high, but tough--it's out of the loop);
  6. Joel Kita scoops Lenie out of the drink just in time to save her ass; so
  7. The GA shoots him down with an orb-to-air missile; and
  8. Lenie Clarke gets *really* pissed off (along with a number of readers, who were evidently hoping for more closure, but not the author, who now gets to shake down Tor for three times the advance on a sequel).

All those details are explicitly spelled out in the book, but it's the author's job to get them to click in the reader's head with a single reading. It's not a good sign when people are forced to go back and read stuff over just to puzzle out what happened, and if the author was here he might well admit that he'd fucked up. (Which does not, necessarily, mean that he needs therapy.)

And damn right it's hard sf.