"The Cold Equations" absolutely underscores the role of technology in undermining human choice; the title itself, using the adjective 'cold,' connotes a lack of warmth and human perspective. The plot of the story revolves around a young girl who has stowed away on a space transport; upon discovery of the stowaway, the pilot of the ship has no choice but to force-eject her from the ship. The ship, the Stardust, is bound for a planet desperate for the life-saving medical supplies.
The Stardust does not have enough fuel to reach its far away destination, Woden, with the added weight of the girl, so ultimately the logistics of the flight plan, the cold equations of amount of fuel versus distance, determines the outcome of the story. Ultimately, the young girl Marilyn realizes that for many others on Woden to live, she must die. The circumstances of the story seem extreme and otherworldly to the reader; Godwin's story definitely uses the metaphor of the space ship to explore larger concerns of science versus human understanding.