94

This is your granddaughter, talking to you from the future. You died a year before we invented immortality and artificial afterlife.
I’m so, so sorry. It was so close.
I love you.
Goodbye, forever.

I’ve been thinking about how my generation is seeing sci-fi become reality. Flying cars, wing suits, independent robot warplanes, AI, immersive virtual reality. Increasing our lifespan using science now seems possible. Immortality has already been discovered in nature. We know that certain jellyfish species can revert to infancy due to injury or ageing, repeatedlyVirtual reality programmers and cryonics groups are testing new methods of cheating death and making a VR afterlife. But I have to ask – by how much will we miss this discovery? I’m struck by the tragedy that my generation will have passed just as it becomes more than theoretically possible.  // Personal Statement by the Author

//Luis Mina is a hardcore comics fan and comics writer, amateur standup comic, writes essays about our science future at Medium, and tweets at @Mallinz.//

93

Enceladus’ mysterious south pole water plumes marked the true beginning of a pioneer’s journey. Space panic crept into stasis pod dreams.

Oh, mysterious Enceladus, are you soft hearted beneath that icy shell? This is the question planetary scientist Gaël Choblet and his colleagues have been asking. Known for an icy mantle, scientists were surprised to find Saturn’s moon Enceladus has subsurface oceans and plumes of water jetting out of the surface of the moon. What could be causing this? Choblet and his team theorise that the planet has a sandy core, which causes enough friction to keep the planet warm. Sabrina Eads casts their simulation into a story of space exploration and existential dread. // Alex Massey

//Sabrina Eads is a daydreamer, reader, editor, and writer trapped in the body of a citizen of the work-a-day world.  She can be reached at @sabbysteg on Twitter or via www.sabrinaeads.com.//

92

“I spy in the night sky, don’t I – “ Listening to old Blur, whilst showering away the day’s cares. I’ve got moon kittens on my mind.

For astrophysicists, the planet Saturn holds uncountable mysteries. Perhaps one of the cutest are the moon kittens, who are being born in Saturn’s rings. Of course, we’re not talking about literal kittens. The “kittens” are actually baby moons — or moonlets — which form after particles within the ring collide and clump together. Inspired by the purring satisfaction of the cat-loving portion of the research team, who chose names like Mittens and Fluffy for the moons, Gemma Mahadeo sent us this story. Would we have explored space sooner if there were kittens? // Alex Massey

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

90

Rudolph sneers, holds the pink slip between teeth. Santa screws in red headlights.
“Just wait: driverless cars,” Rudolph says, vindictively.

As technology has replaced equines and ruminants for more efficient modes of transportation, such as engines, so, too, has Rudolph been replaced with a faster craft. For Santa, reindeers are becoming harder to come by, making them both less efficient and more expensive beasts of labor. Meanwhile, Rudolph’s predictions on Santa’s superfluousness come with an economic punch. // Statement by the Author

Can you go wrong with a D. A. Xiaolin Spires holiday story? I don’t think so! And the greatest gift of all was her contribution of this explanation. // Alex Massey

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires regulates body moisture, shedding excess hydraulic oil. Work in Clarkesworld and Analog. @spireswriter daxiaolinspires.wordpress.com//

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 announced 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.//