A review of Duane Burry’s Numbered (In Here Be Monsters: Tongues and Teeth: Issue Seven, 2012)
Duane Burry’s Numbered presents humanity with an opportunity for interplanetary communication, a way of bridging the dark, silence of space. For a planet that has not discovered space travel, this is an incredible opportunity to speak to civilisations older and far distant than our own and share with them incredible wonders from a place of infinite diversity. The communication device is ancient in design and none of the interplanetary species that use it are aware of where it comes from.
But, the joy of interplanetary communication is quickly quashed when it is discovered that no one is willing to share anything about their distinctive worlds for fear of war. The vast interplanetary silences are not facilitated by the distance of space between worlds, but by terror and the fear of the threat that others might represent.
Numbered echoes the horrors of war and colonialism, where fear of potential threats over-rides a curiosity in different people. Fearing war and potential threat, sentient races feel the need to conquer others before they become a threat – proving that fear is the universal constant.
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