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.//

91

She traversed the barren planet, running swabs of algae so gently across the surface. A slow process, terraforming, but someday, a new home.

Takayuki Kohchi, colleagues at Kyoto University, and 40 other researcher facilities and universities around the world have been studying the genes of the common liverwort. Within the genome of the liverwort lies an exceedingly simple genetic sequence. This sequence is the fundamental ancestral version of basic mechanisms used to keep plants alive. Researchers will now be able to trace the evolutionary history of these genes and gain more insight into how plants evolved. Inspired by this tale of life, Gabrielle Friesen imagines a new wold, where this history did not occur by accident.

//Gabrielle Friesen @BeteMonstrueuse deepest fears are dogs and the ocean. She enjoys talking about bats, and old things buried in archives.//

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//

89

A hologram stole my heart; cracked my root seed, and absconded through a blockchain. A cryptic message left: There are no trust objects.  ​

 In the twenty-first century, block-chain applications like Bitcoin are being hailed as the future of currency and economics. Looking at the future growth of the blockchain, experts theorise that their uses will grow rapidly from individual payments to international marketplaces. This new marketplace will rely on the exchange of ‘trust objects’, based on a new technology of “verifiable claims”. But can we truly ‘trust’ anything? Inspired by this analysis and the age-old trope of the con artist, Annie Avery programs a new tale of love, deception, and theft for the era of Bitcoin.

//​Annie Avery writes poetry and screenplays; is a mother and survivor. http://heardmagzine.blogspot.com/ http://annieavery.blogspot.com///

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.//