Killgrace and the Illogic Problem

  “They should have died.” Cet’s normally inflection-less tones somehow managed to convey irritation. Susan smiled, digging her toes into the sand.
    “But they didn’t,” she said, delighted. Further down the beach a group of cyclopean beings were standing out in the bright sunlight, huddled around an object that one was holding up.
    “You interfered.”
    “I wrecked your experiment,” she agreed cheerfully, picking up the glass of fruit juice from the side table and lying back on the lounger. She reached up a hand and fiddled with the clip on the parasol, trying to tilt it to get the sun out of her eyes. With her other hand holding the glass, it was awkward.
    “For no benefit,” Cet accused. One of the cyclops, passing, turned the edge of the parasol to shade Susan’s face now the sun had moved. She locked the shade in place, nodding a quick acknowledgement to her helper for the assistance.
    “I disagree,” she said to Cet, and added: “Thank you.” in the local language. She was rewarded with a smile before the creature hurried on to join the others further down the beach.
    “Define benefit,”  Cet insisted. Susan looked at him, then pointedly at the parasol, the beach, the lounger, and the full glass of fruit juice.
    “Stress reduction,” she said, taking a delicate sip, and then another. “When did I last get a holiday?”
    “Four weeks prior.”
    “Thanks to you, that was not a holiday. That was work,” she retorted in annoyance, putting the glass down and staring at its nearest sensor light with her eyes narrowed. ”I’m not letting you cause problems here.”
From down the beach there was a brief outcry. The group of cyclops had scattered, shrieking in delighted horror as they jumped back from the small object. It hit the sand and lay there, bright silver in the sunlight. Susan watched with a broad grin as they slowly crept back towards it. The bravest reached out a long arm and lifted the small, bright, object without looking at it. The huddle began to form again.
    “Trivial information was imparted.”
    “Information designed to kill everyone on this island.” She yawned and relaxed. The weather was too good, the location too pleasant, to stay angry.  
    “That was the logical consequence.”
    “Your intended consequence,” she corrected it, and went back to her book. Silence stretched between them, broken by the sound of waves, chatter from down the beach and Susan’s occasional turning of pages. A ball rolled to a halt in the sand by her chair. She picked it up, grinned at the juveniles who stood nearby watching nervously, and threw it back.
    As the sun moved slowly onwards, her companion’s shadow fell across her.
    “Logical models show the action was inevitable. Prevention was impossible!” Cet finally stated in agitation.
    “The impossible? I’m good at that,” she said. Further down the beach, the bravest cyclops held the object up, averting its face and stealing glances sidelong into the glass. As the others waited with bated breath, it screwed up its nerve, turned its head full on to the borrowed mirror and stared itself in the face for a moment. It lasted only a moment, and then it recoiled, dropping the mirror. The group jumped back, laughing and jostling, and then slowly edged towards the mirror again, ready for their own turn. 
    “I simply asked a few pertinent questions, like whether depopulating the island was a logical response to such a piece of information.” Susan covered her mouth with a hand as she yawned, turning onto her stomach and reached for a new book. Cet, less inclined to relax and enjoy what was to him a harsh and hostile environment, was not going to drop the topic.
    “Fourteen cycles required for ideological change through information dissemination and discussion. Extinction complete in ten.”
    “True,” Susan allowed,  “so I bought extra time.”
    “No method is available to remove knowledge from the system.”
    “No,” she agreed as she shook her glass sadly, rattling the ice. She picked up the jug and poured herself a refill.
    “The taboo prohibits dissemination of contradictory information!”
    “Correct,” she said, and leaned back, enjoying the sun, “but I might have told them that you had a mirror in your case.”
    “Removal of native species could be accomplished manually.” The statement was undoubtedly true, but it seemed to be uttered more to test her response than in actual consideration. Susan smiled behind her book.
    “And you would learn absolutely nothing from it,” she reminded the alien. “Besides, I know you weren’t really trying. If you were serious, you would have wiped out the whole village in one day with a change of word.”
    “Explain!”  She adjudged that particularly toneless answer as torn between frustration and curiosity.
    “There are residents with green eyes, brown eyes, and blue eyes on the island,” she said, with a smirk. “If you’d told them you saw an islander with yellow eyes, you could have depopulated the village in one fell swoop.”

A/N This story is based on the classic logic problem of the blue-eyed islanders. Bonus material and discussion can be found on the communities board.

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