I would like to know the title of the short story that I believe takes place on the moon. The setting is a mall or some other very public location and the main character is a police officer. She needs to talk a sentient bomb out of exploding. I know there was the John Carpenter film "Dark Star" with a similar plot line but I'm trying to identify the short story and the author.

  • 1
    A nitpick: The sentience was a human mind that was built into the bomb, the bomb was a perfectly ordinary uranium gun design otherwise. It was just a future-tech version of a suicide bomber, I wouldn't really call the bomb sentient. Jan 11, 2012 at 23:53
  • There's also a Philip K. Dick story with a similar plot (not happening on the moon or near a mall). And then there's The Centauri Device.
    – user56
    Jan 11, 2012 at 23:59
  • @Loren - now that I've reread the story-it's probably been 15-20 years-I see that you are correct. Jan 12, 2012 at 15:13
  • @Gilles - I'd love to know the name of the PKD story if you can recall. Jan 12, 2012 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


John Varley's short story Bagatelle has this plot.

Original publication appears to have been 1976. My copy is in the 1980 anthology The Barbie Murders (named after a short story in the volume, for anyone who's starting to get confused).

It opens

There was a bomb on the Leystrasse, level forty-five, right outside the Bagatelle Flower and Gift Shoppe, about a hundred meters down the promenade from the Prosperity Plaza.

"I am a bomb," the bomb said to passersby. ...


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