Tom Godwin's Cold Equations

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The exploration of space, while the seeming pinnacle of human exploration, has been shown to be quite dangerous. From the explosion of the Challenger to the cinematic portrayals of endless possible incidents, there are few things more hazardous than braving the infamous “Final Frontier.” Because of the danger posed by space exploration, there must exist a code to follow to ensure a desired balance between safety and progress. Tom Godwin’s Cold Equations has been described as “the best SF short story ever written, it is a virtuoso performance, a story set in a future so distant and different that we can only glimpse it in mysterious reflections and intriguing images” (qtd. Benford 217). First published in 1954, the beginning of the Space…show more content…
“… she was of Earth, and had not realized that the laws of the space frontier must, of necessity, be as hard and relentless as the environment that gave them birth” (3). Marilyn desperately wanted to see her older brother, Gerry, who was one of the explorers on Woden, the planet to which Barton was delivering supplies. When she learned an EDS would be sent to Woden, she hid aboard the ship, ignoring the sign that read “UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL KEEP OUT!” (3). She assumed that the consequence of stowing away aboard the EDS would be paying a fine rather than paying with her life. She probably couldn’t even imagine such dire consequences, having lived a sheltered life on Earth “where life was precious and well guarded and there was always the assurance that tomorrow would come” (9). Barton, of course, lives in a different world, “where the lives of men could be as fragile and fleeting as sea foam tossed against a rocky shore” (9). Barton lives his life according to the previously mentioned cold equations. The unspoken question this poses creates a new feeling of suspense: Will Barton be able to save Marilyn? Godwin shows that while Barton feels bad about Marilyn’s situation and remorseful about what must be done, he is blunt and honest with Marilyn about what will happen to her. His brutally honest words to her present the reader with a harsh reality: the life of one person (Marilyn) cannot be saved at the expense of seven

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