Read this novella a while ago. I think it was on Asimov magazine. It was about a trial where the sole survivor of a spaceship was trying to end a program where chimps were traveling with humans and they had cut the arms and legs of the crewman in order to save his life. The chimps spoke using sign language. It has an epic ending where he realizes that they sacrifice themselves in order to save him. Anybody know the name and/or author?

  • How long ago was "a while"? – Politank-Z Apr 15 '18 at 17:43
  • What? What do you mean "end a program"? They had to cut OFF the crewman's arms and legs? Why? – Vanguard3000 Apr 15 '18 at 17:44
  • 2
    @Vanguard3000 - Probably because he kept kicking the seat in front of him. – Valorum Apr 15 '18 at 18:57
  • I think this may be one of a short series of stories by Arthur C Clarke about superchimps used as human servants and helpers on space-ships. But I can't find the one I'm thinking of yet. – Simon Bucher-Jones Apr 15 '18 at 22:16
  • @Politank-Z About 1993-96? Vanguard3000 The program to use Chimps in space. They cut the arms and legs so he could fit on the escape pod that was built for chimps. – Photografia Apr 16 '18 at 18:03

The name of the story is "Humanity Test" by Charles Sheffield and appears in "Georgia on my Mind and Other Places". Very moving story, indeed. The cutting off of the limbs was an attempt to reduce the weight of the people in order to save their lives as the lifeboat had a minimal capacity. The story was Sheffield's take on the classic tale "The Cold Equations". The chimps had their intellects artificially augmented and that was the program that was in jeopardy after "Skip" seemingly went crazy here.


  • OMG!!! YES, FINALLY!!! – Photografia Apr 18 '18 at 16:11
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!! @Emsley Wyatt – Photografia Apr 18 '18 at 16:21
  • If you're interested, dig up a copy of Sheffield's "Dancing with Myself" and read "The Double Spiral Staircase". Different story, but just as good. – Emsley Wyatt Apr 20 '18 at 1:14

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