Some claim that the Creator has infinite facets, that every deity ever prayed to is one and the same. Following that line of thought, one might conclude that every temple ever constructed is equally valid, that He of Infinite Aspects exists in every church and sanctum, and can be praised and pleaded with pretty much wherever. Such an assertion is surprisingly accurate, but only up to a point. Similarly, in the realm of quantum mechanics, there exists a many-worlds interpretation, which states that every single event—from stomping a snail to detonating a thermonuclear weapon—acts as a branch point, birthing parallel...

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Man, as history had known man, was dead to Earth. For a generation and a half, the blue-green planet had been ravaged by a world-encompassing plague the likes of which had never been dreamt of in the wildest of fictions. The plague had thieved away from its victims the capacity to communicate through any form of language, oral, written, or sign, like some demented anti-Prometheus. Now the ruins of civilization were, in the general consensus of the Martian populace, no more than a playground for savage beasts, human only in physical appearance, to wage battle against one another over the...

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They say that hell is other people, but that isn’t true. Hell is no one. It is being completely, totally, and utterly alone. Anyone who has been to space knows this. And few people know what it means to be alone in space the way that I do. They also say that war is hell, and that is very true – I know this from experience. If you are familiar with the history of Gliese Prime, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I’m from Zarmina, the smaller of the two inhabited planets in the system. Librus is the...

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The cool summer air caressed Alder’s face as if to cleanse his overwhelming guilt. The burden of the past few days melted away into a new found freedom. He stood in front of his apartment building, his backpack heavy with a few necessary accessories of living, pondering his next move. Well this is it. Should I go right or left? Since his building faced east on a north-south street he felt more drawn to go south than north. Right it is. I’ve made the first decision of my new life. He turned, and with little trepidation, began making his way...

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Five billion kilometers from Earth, Ishtar hurtled through the abyss, her antimatter reactor burning with the relentless energy of a miniature star, her lidar arrays sweeping the frozen darkness ahead, her astrogation systems parsing terabytes of positional data each fraction of a second. For long, lightless years she had traversed the desolate void, heeding a faint voice from the other end of the Solar System, racing toward a black enigma at the very edge of interstellar space. Closer and closer now; the strobing lasers plucked a signal out of the nothingness. An impulse raced through Ishtar’s artificial neural network. The...

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Twelve lives would end if she kept spinning in a chaotic orbit around the Madeira instead of finishing her job. Zadie watched the cosmos blur into spinning streaks of light as she twirled away from her starship. Pulling her body into a ball, her star-belly spacesuit retracted its starfish nubbin arms and legs into its torso. Like a seed, she was soon enclosed at the center of a round, protective shell. She was breathing in quick gasps of jiangtek. No idea of her surroundings. Space just space. The voice of the Madeira’s commander boomed through the signal static: “What happened?”...

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It hadn’t always been this way, a time and place of reduction, of vanishing, of things slipping away. No, not things, he corrected himself. People. Individual men, women, and children, those were what he was dealing with, what he was in search of. For some reason, they had started to disappear, as simple and quick as turning a page, and just as quietly. No warnings, no gasps, no dropped phone calls, no doors slammed, and no cars speeding into the night. It wasn’t as if they were trying to get away from him, he was sure of that. Nor was...

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“Professor Steinmetz? Professor Henry Steinmetz?” asked a man in a dark suit and sunglasses approaching him as students filed out from his afternoon lecture on particle physics. He nodded. “Yes. Can I help you?” The man looked official; he could see a gun holstered on his belt beneath his suit jacket. Although never employed by the DoD, he’d acted as an advisor to certain projects conducted under the aegis of DARPA and had co-authored briefing papers for both the Pentagon and the White House, so was used to the occasional official approaching him like this. The man flashed a badge...

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It was a surreal combination of the thrill of victory and lead shot in my stomach when the head of the review board said, “Congratulations Dr. Danque, the board has decided to offer you a slot in the Settler program.” It was the culmination of what I’d spent my adult life trying to accomplish, but the moment had a bittersweet tang to it. Ella would be devastated. I was devastated. It was so unfair, she was just as strong a candidate as I was. Why did they offer me a slot and not her? “Thank you, ma’am, it’s an incredible...

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Q It used to be considered as a disease. Parents told about abnormalities in the amniotic fluid would weep inconsolably, and consider the option of a late termination, fully supported by the medical world. Those who believed the presence of life outweighed the ability to endure it bore children into a world they could never truly understand, other than through pain and confusion. As science, and society grew in strength, and illnesses vanished, and the scope of normal was stretched beyond the narrow confines of the 19th century, which itself was wholly permissive by the standards of the 16th, several...

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