Like every modern scientist, Ferdinand earned his pay by making persuasion videos. A compelling enough documentary usually led to a brief crowd-funded career. Though traditionally trained, he eased into the dominating entertainment era with all the other academics who now had to film for income. His decades-old, unhip publications meant nothing anymore. Thus, at age 56, he took on the latest tactics of the cyber economy. He strolled into the shanty town with a minicam in each of the two buttons of his white shirt collar. His straw hat hid a microphone. The thin power cable ran down the back...

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Ever fulgent Pandia Selene cast red-limned shadows across the landscape. On any other night, Nedra would’ve stopped to admire the moon, but out here, near the edge of the Mandy Brots, she forced herself to stay alert. The fetid air and the twisted fungal structures that loomed in the ruddy moonlight suffused her with the nervous excitement of meeting a long lost friend. Nedra filled her lungs through her nose filters. This was where she’d remade herself back before Boom Shroom went out of style. But nobody wants this stuff anymore. Why had Dok Shabbat sent her here? The market...

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Karen Walker had been in the malodorous gravity chamber for almost an hour, gradually dialing up to an unpleasant 0.8 Earths as she pounded the cross-trainer. She was pushing it, but not too hard, careful after what happened to Rashford. Her straw-colored hair was dripping and her vest ringed with dark sweat marks when she finally gave in and stopped. Passive conditioning time now in the tiny, mildewed Alu-foil chamber. She sat, dialing the crushing simulated gravity up to full Earth. Karen closed her eyes and let her heartbeat slow, drifting as she tuned into to the familiar bass note...

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