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The futuristic nature of this excellent short story means that Godwin is speculating about possible futures, and it is clear that the setting presents us with just one of many possible scenarios of the future world that he imagines. His setting is incredibly bleak and unyielding, as we are presented with a world in which the difficulties of maintaining contact between outlying space colonies results in the "cold equations" of the story's title becoming incredibly important:
The cruisers were forced by necessity to carry a limited amount of bulky rocket fuel, and the fuel was rationed with care, the cruiser's computers determining the exact amount of fuel each EDS would require for its mission. The computers considered the course coordinates, the mass of the EDS, the mass of pilot and cargo; they were very precise an daccurate an domitted nothing from their calculations.
On the one hand, such a scenario does seem a bit to scientifically bleak to me. Surely we think about progress and the future with a more optimistic air than the rather depressing world Godwin presents us with. However, on the other hand, we need to remember that in a future world where space travel is the norm, the logistics of maintaining contact between distant colonies would represent a massive challenge, and thus this story could be argued to be an accurate reflection of some of those challenges.
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