I recently finished a book, Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis. It was an absolutely gorgeous read, and truthfully, a deeply necessary one. The book centers a character Cora, whose father is wanted for espionage after leaking details of First Contact by the US government. Cora eventually meets the esteemed alien, Ampersand, and becomes his "translator" due to a device he implanted to allow himself to speak with her in English. The book delves into what makes humanity, what makes a person, what humanity can and cannot bear, the existential question of the implications regarding alien life, and exactly what importance humans bring to this. 

 It is suggested and made clear that intelligence is the factor that allows for the three alien civilizations and humanity to exist. It is also the downfall of these groups. The Superorganims related to Ampersand kill as they see fit, looking down on other life forms such as their sister species. However, for political motivations, a genocide is done in order to purge of the "Fremda", including the antagonist Orbeus and Ampersand. It is evident at the end two things; humanity holds one special characteristic, and the obvious lead up to Cora and Ampersands love for one another. 

 To return to the former, we must understand the similarities between the Superorganims and humans. In common, both commit genocide in order to achieve whatever the see fit. Both colonize and militarize as they find suitable. A striking difference (excluding the obvious difference of biology or hierarchy), is humans ability to empathize. This is not seen among the Superorganims, who would rather place themselves above anyone with a difference they deem lesser.

 Humans hold the capacity for deep intimacy, an often ignorant urge to care for one another, and the concept of empathy to others. These are all baffling to Ampersand, once believing them to be simple and barbaric. But it is through Coras constant acts of mercy and care that he reevaluates this, eventually placing her life above that of his "Fremda" species. In short, it was a great book.

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