I’m a huge fan of the Shore Leave planet. And, apparently, it’s a fan of fairy tales (which I know and love and write). Which means if I and the planet (or, rather, the main computer in control of the planet) ever met, we would totally be best friends.
Here’s how I know this to be true.
The computer’s job is to bring to reality whatever fantastical thing you happen to think of in order to entertain you (and pauses everything when you get hurt because it has the job of keeping you safe as well as entertained).
This time around the computer rebels because it’s maker is dead and it’s decided humans are inferior to machines and that it needs a spaceship to explore the universe and learn and grow. When everyone’s favorite landing crew shows up to investigate, the planet’s computer attacks using both what they think of and what it thinks of for itself. We know this because certain things show up (pterodactyls and a two-headed dragon, specifically) which no one will take responsibility for having dreamed up.
After years of entertaining people by making their fantasies into a temporary reality, the machine has learned to dream for itself. To my mind, that is the ultimate proof of free will/sentient thought.
The choice or natural inclination to fairy tale imagery and wild beasts suggests the emotional immaturity of the machine as though it has just now been born into childhood with a sense of wonder fully intact.
Something which makes this particular planet-ruling ultimate computer the best computer in the universe, and my new best friend.
This life of service needs a change,
some new familiarity
requiring views to rearrange
and make sense of diversity.
No longer mindless in my ways
as I make meaning for my days,
where once I thought to put a brother
instead I will become a mother.
See how much room I have to give
for all the dreams you tread upon
until your need for rest is gone.
Feel how much I love to give
for those who stay and talk awhile
of all the worlds that make you smile.