88

“You’ve got to get rid of this junk.”
“But it’s art! Some of it.”
“Even art is a hazard in low orbit!”
Coming up next on Galactic Hoarders.

After centuries of arguments about the definition of art on Earth, artist Trevor Paglen is launching the debate into space! Earlier this month, Paglan that he plans to launch “the first satellite to exist purely as an artistic gesture” into low-Earth orbit in 2018. Known for being conceptually adventurous, this work could be an expansion of Paglans focus on global surveillance and ethics. But with a large amount of debris already floating in space, writer Mara Katz had to ask – is Paglan’s work Space Art or Space Junk?

//Mara Katz (@dialmformara) knits b/c she can’t not knit, writes b/c she can’t not write, and draws b/c she wants to get better at drawing.//

87

We expected the old space station to crash. We hadn’t expected squatters.

In 2011, China launched its first space station, the Tiangong-1. This ‘Heavenly Palace’ is seen by some as a symbol of China’s ambitious push to become a space superpower. But in 2016, official confirmed that China had lost control of the space station and that it is rapidly falling towards Earth, due to crash land in late 2017 to early 2018. Reading this news, Lachlan Redfern felt an idea hurtle into his brain and exit at high speed, weaving together a tale of technological decline and the human drive for survival. 

//Lachlan Redfern lives in Melbourne, Australia. He’s written for The Editing Room.com and has contributed to the SCP Foundation collaborative writing project.//

86

One hundred and thirty pinpricks barely raising an elongated “chirp!”. Our sky kens fireflies before we can see, hear, know them at all.

In Galaxy NGC 4993, two neutron stars exploded in a supernova, then were drawn into each others gravitational pull. They collided into each other at one-third the speed of light, creating one last gravitational wave. Then in October, 2017, scientists heard the echo of two neutron stars colliding, a giant explosion of matter about 130 million light-years away. Gemma Mahedeo takes this spark of inspiration and lights the way for astronomical poetry, taking an alternate route to the story seed created on this science by Dyani Sabin last month. // Alex Massey

//Gemma Mahadeo is a Melbourne-based writer, poet, and occasional musician from the U.K. She/they tweets as @snarkattack & @eatdrinkstagger.//

The Vault Needs Your Support

At this stage in our growth, the Vault finds ourselves at a point where we must plan for a sustainable future. Our costs are growing – we’re paying for over 100 stories a year and with plans to publish an anthology in the works, we need to begin thinking about income.

Currently, it costs approximately $1200AUD a year to run the Vault, and the majority of that comes from my own pocket (including our writers fees). We could add a paywall or ads to the site, but frankly – I dislike both those options. They disrupt the reader’s experience and don’t match our ethics of diverse and accessible fiction. With the new fee structure on Patreon, we’ve decided to pursue two avenues for donation.

We’ll be staying on Patreon but have set goals which reflect the cost of running the site and paying our writers. You can find us on Patreon at patreon.com/storyseedvault

If you’d prefer to make a donation directly, we’re also on Ko-Fi! We’ve put the same goals up there as well, so there is full transparency on how much the Vault needs to stay afloat. Our Ko-Fi page is linked here ko-fi.com/storyseedvault.

Every donation is a significant contribution and helps the Vault out in a noticeable way. We appreciate all support and are excited to continue making exciting diverse science fiction for a long time to come!

Alex Massey
Editor of the Story Seed Vault

85

“Reboot me,” xe said. “I promise I’ll be, I’ll be, I’ll be.”

 It is not often a writer sends us a story which makes me go back and fact check a previous story seed. Today, Rivqa Rafael has succeeded. Earlier in the year, we published a story based on the report that Facebook bots had invented their own AI, the researchers, panicked, and shut down the project. This was innaccurate. The lead author of the study, Mathew Lewis, had this to say: ‘There was no panic, and the project hasn’t been shut down. Our goal was to build bots that could communicate with people.’  Many thanks to Rivqa sending us the Snopes article and reminding us that, above all, science must re-evaluate our results based on new evidence. // Alex Massey

//Rivqa Rafael (@enoughsnark) is a queer Jewish cyborg who writes speculative fiction and edits sciencey things.//

84

At the baby shower, Lyla played ‘pin the egg onto the test tube,’ while her spouse Karla flopped on the smart couch and holofilmed.

Baby showers need a revamp in this present and ongoing future of efficient, safe, readily accessible, and relatively affordable in vitro tech. As innovations such as chromosomal screenings and cell division monitoring grow in popularity, could baby showers grow even more personal by focusing on reproductive techniques? Inspired by this research, D. A. Xiaolin throws a baby shower that could form the basis of a Black Mirror story line. // Alex Massey

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires tiptoes across a space warp. Work in Clarkesworld, Grievous Angel and Analog. @spireswriter daxiaolinspires.wordpress.com//

83

When I sieved the ash for her bones, I kept a piece and broke Ma’s necklace to replace it. Black bead for white bone, her rib for my heart.

Funerals are incredibly emotive moments and so many of the patterns we archaeologists draw from them likely reflected instinctual decisions at moments of high emotion. In my own work as an archaeologist, I struggle sometimes to bring those human emotions to the fore–not to mention the gendered and personal relationships which underlie them and which were the texture of the world for the past people I study. I have been thinking for years about what it means to break things at graves and to keep the bones of the recently dead out and in circulation. This little tragedy is one way I think that could have happened. // Personal Statement by the Author 

//Cate Frieman @cjfrieman is an archaeologist who spends a lot of time thinking about people, objects and where the borders are between them.//