My rating: 5 out of 5
An excellent piece of short fiction from an excellent storyteller and it's clear to see why this story has won pretty much every major award possible (it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards plus many others).
In the far future, long after the demise of the human race along with it's huge galactic empire, a group of alien archaeologists visits Earth in an attempt to uncover the truth of the dead race's initial success followed by its ultimate death. Sifting through the layers of archaeological sites at Olduvai Gorge (in what was Tanzania in Africa), they discover seven unique artifacts, each related to a different era of humanity's history and each telling a unique story about humankind's strengths and weaknesses. But are they prepared for their final discovery, which will change their worlds forever?
I found it fascinating to look back on our species from the far future after we've built ourselves up, achieved so much to literally inherit the stars, only to descend back to where we started. Ashes to ashes indeed. This story helps to see our ignorance, the arrogance that we seem to possess as a species. I never thought I would find the viewpoints and opinions of a group of aliens so enlightening. A great read and another example of how fiction in short form suits the science fiction genre so well. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.