I too enjoyed this story. I had read an article about the trouble of trying to identify toxic sites so that the warnings could be understood long into the future, given language changes, methods of recording info, etc for future generations on Earth, let alone alien species.
I enoyed the depiction of the site. Large dry moats, spiked ground…. c’mon! Take the hint! Unfortunately, I too would have fought my way to the center…and fried.
I’ve often wondered about universal concepts. Math (think the sides of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey) and, in this case, chemistry. Elements are, elemental. Every species with the potential for nuclear waste would know the structure and properties of fissionable materials. Huge orbital shells. Brillient. Someone call the NRC about digging a few moats around Yucca mountain.
Boris, that reminds me of someone’s idea about communicating with aliens: carving a giant triangle into a big forest, so as to be visible from space. Proof that intelligent life capable of doing basic math was there.
I’m divided on this story. Like Adam, I’m a parent, so the plot caught at my heart. But I was surprised that nobody detected the radiation ahead of time. Surely the ship AI had the tools. Or the lander, or hoverbikes.
Evil thought for the morning: perhaps they did. The ship AI knew, and concealed the information. Julia was a murderer. Heh.