Review of Colin Bramwell and Dominic Samra, “The Stripped Core”, in Around Distant Suns, ed. by Emma Johanna Puranen (Guardbridge Books, 2021): 1-10 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
The “stripped core” at the center of this story serves a dual purpose: It is both a scientific description of what lies at the center of a gas giant, and an allegory for a model of education used in the boarding school that Alex, the main character, is sent to. I read this story, and its description of “cryoeducation tanks”, wherein students are submerged in a cryogenically-induced unconsciousness in order to absorb learning directly, just a day after reading this opinion piece about a windowless dormatory built for 4,500 students, which comments that “Perhaps in the future students can be cryogenically frozen at night, then efficiently stacked using the storage and retrieval systems of an Amazon distribution centre, before being defrosted in time for their morning slurp of laboratory-made food substitute.” On the one hand, there’s something very macabre and dystopian about this sort of future. On the other hand, the way Bramwell developed the story into something quite cooperative and potentially glorious was really satisfying.
The short commentary pieces by Bramwell and Samra both emphasise the importance of good science communication, and the way that stories can be used to inspire the next generation of scientists. I think this piece did a good job of doing both.