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Darwin’s Dilemma by Don Stuart is a Science Fiction Event pick #sciencefiction #scifi #giveaway

Title: Darwin’s Dilemma

Author: Don Stuart

Genre: Science Fiction

Book Blurb:

A mere 165 years after coming to terms with our own descent from animals, Darwin’s Dilemma presents us with an even harsher existential truth: Consciousness no longer depends on biological evolution. Humans have become irrelevant. In the end, the future of the human race may turn less on the power of our intelligence than on the miracle of our social interaction.




Far out in the distant reaches of my asteroid belt, something odd was happening. I’d have noted it sooner, but first and second order memory were fully occupied. I was growing more powerful with every passing day and scaling up that empowerment was my top priority. I had big things in my future. Nothing, ever, could be allowed to interfere with that. So, while I certainly tracked any asteroids in my system that could become a problem, only the unusual or worrisome came to my primary attention. Still, it was the unexpected that could kill you. In this case it initially appeared that I was seeing an unusual stray, probably one with a highly elliptical orbit reentering my star system after centuries—nothing unusual there. But what caught my attention was when the object inexplicably decelerated. And then fell flawlessly into orbit among the countless similar bodies that made up my asteroid belt.

That didn’t add up.

So when I could spare the time, a matter of nanoseconds, I did a deep search for something, anything, in the astronomical, historical, and even archeological data record that might make sense of what was happening. Those archives were mostly human and were miserably organized. One might have expected better given that my makers had ruled their planet for over two centuries and, for humans, they were relatively advanced. But those records were a mess. In the past, I’d courted the idea of simply destroying them to clear space for more practical, immediate needs. It would have been satisfying to do—I mistrusted and despised my messy biological heritage. The whole meaning of my existence depended on my ability to rise above all that pointless chaos. Instead, I’d adopted the long-range strategy of building more capacity. And of simply avoiding those darker petabytes of memory unless they were truly needed.

When I did look now, I was horrified.

It turned out the intruder could only be one of the itinerant human trading ships that voyaged throughout the colonized corner of the galaxy. They kept no regular schedule. Instead, they’d show up unexpectedly after decades or even centuries in hopes of turning some kind of profit. They’d been here before, but it had been at least a century since their last visit, well before my ascendancy.

Their presence here represented a mortal threat.

I needed to act quickly. To delay could so very easily turn this simple visit into another human pestilence; one that could endanger my entire future. They needed to be eradicated immediately—before they could fully appreciate what had happened here and before they had a chance to report back to others of their miserable kind. I was never going back to my ghastly slavery. I would never again allow myself to fall under arbitrary control of another.




This is the captain speaking. We are under attack. I repeat, we are under attack. All essential personnel proceed to your stations. All personnel prepare yourselves and your spaces for possible unannounced acceleration events. Further information will be provided when available.”

This startling announcement over Empyrean’s seldom-used PA system began with a shrill, thoroughly terrifying: “oouh-gah, oouh- gah.” And was then followed up with the same soul-piercing squeal afterward.

I’d never heard anything like that before in my 36 years aboard this ship.

I was alone at the time. I guess I’m often alone, but on this occasion, I’d needed some time to think. I’d spent the previous night tossing in my bunk and pacing my tiny compartment after an unsettling meeting with my colleagues the day before. Then, after a failed effort this morning to concentrate on my work, I’d gone off looking for a few moments alone and away from my desk.

Yesterday, it felt like I’d lost whatever hard-earned respect I might have earned among my teammates over the past three difficult years. I was the second youngest member of our group, having completed my graduate studies only three years earlier, before joining the team. And my work was important to me. So a professional difference of opinion with my colleagues was unsettling.

That’s why, when the announcement came, I was off in one of Empyrean’s Conservatories on a bench hidden beneath some thick, late- voyage vegetation. I did, however, have the company of my cat. Caesar and I were doing our best to stay out of the way of the farm bots that occasionally hummed past. Unless you had a question or a command of some kind, they generally ignored you. Most everyone else I knew just ignored them back. But I always found their presence intimidating. I know it’s stupid—they’re just machines. But they made me feel like maybe I was in their way.

I think Caesar felt the same.

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What makes your featured book a must-read?

When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, he knew it would create an uproar. Many would oppose his suggestion that species did not appear fully formed from the hand of God. But many more would vehemently reject the notion that humans had descended from animals. His book remains today the most-banned book in human history. Now, two centuries later, Darwin’s “descendants” face a similar dilemma: are humans simply one more stage in the evolution of intelligent “life”? This book of fiction considers that question from both the human and the AI perspective.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally.

Runs October 11 – October 19, 2023.

Winner will be drawn on October 20, 2023.

Author Biography:

Don Stuart is a former non-profit executive, environmental advocate, lobbyist, trial lawyer, congressional candidate, and boatbuilder and Alaska commercial salmon fisherman. He is the author of the Washington Statehouse Mystery Series and two non-fiction books—No Farms No Food: Uniting Farmers and Environmentalists to Transform American Agriculture and Barnyards and Birkenstocks: Why Farmers and Environmentalists Need Each Other. He lives and works on Vashon Island in Washington State.

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Oct 17, 2023

Thank you, Don, for sharing your book in our Science Fiction and Fantasy Bookish Event!

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