Science Fiction & Fantasy



Truth Is Like the Sun

1. The Joke

Pop-star uber-sensation Jaim Janan rockets off to promote their third album atop a SpaceX Dragon VII capsule today, where they will stream a live musical performance from orbit, some 350 kilometers above the Earth. Before today’s launch, when asked if they were feeling nervous about the trip, the young pop star coolly responded, “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”

It’s not clear how many of Jaim’s obsessive fans, or “Janatics” as they are sometimes known, recognized the star was quoting twentieth-century pop legend Elvis Presley [click for bio]. But by mid-afternoon #TruthIsLikeTheSun was the most popular hashtag on Twitter.

—Naydeen Johnson for The Washington Post

We have the food crisis in Eritrea, a new strain of Avian Flu ravaging South-east Asia, and flooding coastal cities across the world, but, yes, let’s spend billions to send some corporate shill “musician” into space so he can sell more records. We as a species need to get our priorities straight.

—Neung Espinoza in an Op-Ed for the New York Times

OMG OMG OMG I am so in love with Jaim’s tat! Totes getting my first ink with his mission insignia on my inner thigh, same as Jaim! @iamjaim #jaiminspace #swoon #soinlove #orbitalmechanics #followforfollows #likeforlikes #spacie #worldtour #janatics #truthislikethesun

—@janatic2025 on Instagram

u so hot, jaim. the things u and i could do in zero-g, baby. ps, im serious. dm me if ur interested @iamjaim #jaiminspace #zerogsports #spacie #janatics #truthislikethesun

@RealPlayaWinning on Twitter

Jaim Janan replica space jumpsuit, with real insignia, straps, and epaulettes, only $19.95 from #BestDealsChina #jaiminspace #replica #jumpsuit #wholesale #retail #bestdeals #dealoftheday #coupon

—BestDealsChina on Twitter

so,,,,,this fuckin fagot gets $284 mil to fly into space when their are stavring ppl on earth????? shamefull.

—JesusIsMyCarpenter79 in a YouTube comment

um no. jaim gave all the money to charity. he just doin it for promo and shit

—Diamla Ghiburi in a YouTube comment

THEY! Gender neutral pronouns, folks. They’re not that hard!

—Teri Marie Johnson in a YouTube comment

“Not that hard” ? speak for yourself, Teri. :-P

—Alejandro Bowlrov in a YouTube comment

I had two weeks to complete the design. An absurdly short time! But I knew I could do it. There are perhaps three persons in the world who could, but I am the only one capable of creating a masterpiece.

You laugh, but this is no joke. In the gifted, what sounds like arrogance is mere honesty. The world-record-holding runner, Jafuru Olembe, is a friend. When we talk over a meal, he doesn’t say, “Arnaud, I am a decent runner.” He says, “Arnaud, I am the fastest man on the planet.” Why should he be shy about this? Just the same, I am the best clothing designer in the world. I will not pretend I am less for to avoid someone else’s discomfort. That is the height of absurdity!

Jaim’s people contacted me one morning two months ago, in a panic. They said, “Arnaud, will you do it? We want to make sure Jaim looks just like so.” Such incredible gall! I said, “Friends, either you give me absolute control, or I walk.” They went away to discuss this amongst themselves for a few hours, as corporations do. But they came to their senses. They had to have the best, of course.

Yes, I was paid handsomely. So what? I don’t understand why people get so worked up about that. Should not remuneration be commensurate to skill? Though, I must be clear, I didn’t do it for money or notoriety. I need neither of those things. I did it for the challenge. Jaim is a gestalt, and I sought to capture that.

Jaim has an intense sexuality. It is impossible to be in their presence and not feel it. But—and this is important—a keen observer will see Jaim has always been much more than their façade. Jaim is cosmopolitan, but under the surface lies a child’s naivety. Jaim is elegant, but underneath lie hints of vulgarity. Jaim spent their childhood in the streets of Tehran living in poverty before they moved to Nonthaburi to live with their mother in relative wealth. Jaim is half Persian and half Thai, but neither of those cultures defines them. Jaim is a fractal, you see, forever unfolding. All of these things had to be incorporated into my design.

Now, there has been some silly talk on the internet that I must now put to rest. A few have speculated that Jaim’s jumpsuit is a pastiche of Michael Jackson’s or Beyoncé’s attire during their prime years. Well, there is an American word for this theory: Hogwash! Jaim’s jumpsuit is the same as Michael Jackson’s or Beyoncé’s as a bird and a rocket are the same. Both fly, but only one will launch you to the moon!

Yes, there are obvious symbolic references in my design, but some are too subtle for the cruder eye. One sees themes of a bandleader, as Jaim is our conductor, leading us skyward. The gold epaulettes on their shoulders and breasts represent our ascent to the stars. The black fabric is the sea of space. The yellow finials are the sun’s rays, the source of all life on Earth. The concentric white rings are the always-circling, but ever-distant stars.

The material, too, is purposeful. The jumpsuit is crafted from a newly invented fabric called Nouvalyne, developed by three brilliant Nigerian chemists. It has the look and feel of silk, the softness of cotton, and the weight of air. You’ll soon see it everywhere. You could pour a glass of your best Bordeaux on it, and it will roll right off. You could press your lit cigarette against it, and it won’t burn. It will keep you hot in winter and cool in summer. This fabric is humanity’s indomitable spirit, our confidence to face all challenges now and in the future.

I would love to do another suit for Jaim, if given the opportunity. But, you know, it will be very hard to top perfection.

—From “Arnaud Lefèbvre, Per Vestis Ad Astra,” an interview in Vogue Paris

Combinaison de l’espace de réplique, avec de vrais insignes, sangles et épaulettes, seulement €19.99 #wholesale #shipsworldwide #jaiminspace #replica #jumpsuit #bestdeals #dealoftheday #coupon

—From a comment on the Vogue Paris interview “Arnaud Lefèbvre, Per Vestis Ad Astra”

2. The Supernova

The Dow Jones Industrial Average took a sharp dive yesterday as billions of people around the globe paused to watch Jaim Janan’s YouTube livestream. Europe’s Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Xavier Janiszewski, said, “We’ve seen significant market dips before during major sporting or terrorist events, but never one of this magnitude and duration. Quite frankly, we’re all shocked.” The Asian exchanges remained wary in late-day trading, but after the opening of the New York exchanges this morning, the DJIA has returned to near-former levels. However, trading volume is still unusually high as investors remain jittery. Never before has a pop-star’s performance had such an effect on the global economy.

—Lisa Applebaum in a CNNMoney article.

I watched Jaim’s performance live. I guess I was one of the lucky few who didn’t get cut off when YouTube crashed. I never really listened to Jaim’s music before. But I have to be honest, I wept like a baby. These really are such beautiful songs. Will def be checking out more of their stuff now. Guess I’m a Janatic now too. ;)

—Sonny in Albuquerque in a YouTube comment

Dang-double-dang! Even with the YouTube crash, 19 BILLION views of Jaim’s video in one day! That HAS to be a record, right?

—SweetAmaranth in a YouTube comment

SweetAmaranth, yes, Jaim broke their own previous record from last year of 12 billion views in a day for their song, “moment2moment.”

—Knit Picker in a YouTube comment

Good grief. . . . these are possibly the greatest songs ever written. All other musicians stop making music, you will never do better than this.

—Justine’s Just Desserts in a YouTube comment


—JustJanatical2024 in a YouTube comment

i just srsly cried. omfg!!!

—Minx Catastrophe in a YouTube comment

Just four chords? Lame.

—Folk Guitar Hero in a YouTube comment

Autotune in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

—NinetyNine Balloons in a YouTube comment

uh-oh, oh-oh-oh! milli vanilli moment at 1:17!

—Naj Menendez in a YouTube comment

Naj Menendez, wth is milli vanilli???

—Gamer Guy in a YouTube comment

wuuuuuuuut? the music don’t match his mouth.

—Kiril Armstrong in a YouTube comment

They had a slight audio sync problem for the first minute of the feed, if you watched it live. But they edited the video, because there’s no sync issue when you replay it now. Also, the performance was 100% live. And it wasn’t lip synched or auto-tuned. See here for proof:

—Vajra Mudali in a YouTube comment

I am going to put these songs on repeat for the rest of my life.

—Ridgewater Pet Shelter in a YouTube comment

So unbelievably beautiful. I can die in peace now.

—KevinTheLibrarian in a YouTube comment

I’ve been unable to stop smiling all day. I keep stopping and pinching myself, because I can’t believe it. I am so unbelievably happy that Jaim is the first trans person in space!

—Fluffer Nutter in a YouTube comment

Come on now, folks. YouTube has the *largest* server capacity in the world. Their live feed shouldn’t have crashed. Not unless (a) someone sabotaged the downlink feed, or (b) YouTube was DDoS attacked by someone who has massive internet data pipes and very good reasons to block the feed (e.g. China). Everyone knows China hates Jaim because of the incident in Beijing last year when Jaim came onstage wearing Chinese flag underwear.

–AnonymousCoward in a comment, (Score 3: Insightful) on the article, “Jaim Janan’s Live Stream Temporarily Crashes YouTube.”

Calm down and take your meds, pal. No one sabotaged the downlink. The YouTube livestream wasn’t DDoS-attacked. YouTube’s CTO Jinmun Singh said the problem was simply their system reaching max capacity. They didn’t have enough bandwidth to fulfill the *billions* of requests for Jaim’s livestream. I said this in an earlier comment, but I’ll repeat it again here for everyone’s benefit: they could have just dropped the video onto BitTorrent and that would have saved everyone a ton of needless headaches.

—OnTheBashShell in reply to AnonymousCoward, (Score 5: Informative) on

Um, no. If they had uploaded the full video to BitTorrent then it *wouldn’t have been live streamed*. That was the whole friggin point. Also YouTube wouldn’t get the ridiculous ad revenue from all the traffic, which AFAIK was close to $40 million per *minute* during the live performance.

—ReticulatedPython in reply to OnTheBashShell (Score 5: Informative) on

I saw that Jaim is giving all the proceeds from their sponsorships to charity. They must have made billions from their performance, so that’s pretty fucking admirable any way you cut it.

—Noreen R. Hazaga in a Facebook comment

Jaim called me up personally and said they wanted to donate a percentage of their proceeds from their space performance to the Solar Mission. We were shocked. Jaim has always been a champion of the environment, but it was still very refreshing and wonderful to see someone of Jaim’s status act instead of boast.

With Jaim’s donation, which we have already received, we will increase India’s solar power generation by 27.7 gigawatts, finally bringing this country within reach of getting one hundred percent of our electrical power from renewable sources. I honestly never thought I’d see this day. We are all very excited and happy.

—From an interview with Anusha Bhasin, chairman of India’s National Solar Mission, in The Hindustan Times.

It’s ridiculous. One “spacie” from orbit, and Jaim has turned on half the world. I’m not saying he isn’t attractive, but is this what we invented space travel for? Porn?

—Richard Bonacaccio in a Facebook comment

Richard Bonacaccio, YES.

—Ennis Durani in a Facebook comment

First off, Richard Bonacaccio, Jaim transitioned over a year ago. They now go by the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” which people have called Jaim since like forever. Second, why *shouldn’t* Jaim show off their body if they are proud of it? Does Jaim need permission from you, Richard Bonacaccio, to appreciate their body? NO, they DON’T. Go spread your toxic masculinity elsewhere.

—Mary Freidberg in a Facebook comment

I caught my son masturbating to that selfie of Jaim in space that everyone has been sharing. Does that mean he’s gay?

—ConcernedSoccerMom on the Motherhood Today forums

>ConcernedSoccerMom: Jaim doesn’t identify with a gender anymore, so I don’t think your son is gay. But even if he was, so what? If Jaim has proved anything today, it’s that one’s sexuality will never again be a limitation to achievement.

—MoreStepfordWifeThanU on the Motherhood Today forums

Hello, my name is Emily Henderson. I am eight years old and i am in the 3rd grade. I live in Muncie, indiana and go to JAmes Polk Elementary. The school smells like trout sometimes, but it is not so bad. I saw you sing in space yesterday. it was so cool!!! I loved all the songs. whatz it like to float in 0 gravity? is it like swimming? how do you eat upside down? does the food fall out of your stomach?? does the moon look huge? are the stars brighter? Will you come to visit Mrs. Frasier’s class next thursday and tell us about your trip to space??? i have alot more questions to ask you. I will tell Mrs. Frasier your coming. Don’t worry. shes cool with it. she has a picture of you on the wall.

—From a forum on The Official Jaim Janan Fan Site.

This GOVERNMENT STOOGE Jaim performed for only THIRTEEEN minutes. But if the Earth were curved, as the BRAINWASHED MASSES have been LED TO BELIEVE, the performance would have lasted for an ADDITIONAL NINE MINUTES AND TWELVE SECONDS, according to my DETAILED CALCULATIONS [imgur link]. This is DEFINITIVE PROOF we are BEING LIED TO. THE EARTH IS FLAT! WAKE UP!

—GameOfDrones on the /r/FlatEarth sub-Reddit

I’m sure if I shoved a pencil up my dog’s ass, fed him pure crack, and blew an air horn, the scribbles coming out of his backside would be more scientifically accurate than your “DETAILED CALCULATIONS.” But let me posit another solution: the real reason why Jaim’s performance was only thirteen minutes long is because that was the length of the set. Jaim stopped playing because of the diabolical conspiracy of playing three full songs to their end.

—MoundOfAnts in reply to GameOfDrones on the/r/FlatEarth sub-Reddit

Jaim never went to space. It’s all fake. My brother saw Jaim yesterday outside the Sheraton in Hanoi. Jaim bummed a Marlboro off of him, and they chatted for a few. Jaim said the video was shot in a secret studio in Svalbard. My bro said Jaim was like totally down to earth (haha) not stuck-up or anything. He told my bro that the whole space show was just a scam for publicity. Then while they’re talking, some buff dudes in black gear and dark glasses hop out of a truck and take Jaim away. My bro said it totally freaked him out. He was still shaking when he Skyped me.

—Don Tuan on the /r/conspiracy sub-Reddit.

Jaim In Space replica jumpsuit, with real insignia, straps, and epaulettes, only $99.99.

—Worldwide China Wholesale in a YouTube comment

3. The Apotheosis

A group of women from Bihar took celebrity adoration to another level when they were seen worshipping a life-sized ceramic statue of Jaim Janan, the famous pop-star. A video of the women pouring water and offering flowers to the statue is making the rounds of social media today. Facebook user Vinita Chetty from Delhi uploaded the video on her wall and it has since gone viral.

—From “People Seen Worshipping Statue of Jaim Janan” in the India Times.

As a trans woman, I cannot describe what an inspiration Jaim is to me. To see someone like me in space, someone who has gone through so much pain and suffering, to see them literally shoot away from all this awful chaos into orbit is just too much. Words cannot fully describe my elation. Jaim, you are my star, my beacon in the sky, and I will look to your light to guide my way when I am lost.

—Micah K on Tumblr

At exactly 3:14, right over Jaim’s shoulder, the sun crests Earth’s horizon just as Jaim sings, “Look again at that dot. That’s home. That’s us.” I get the chills every time I watch it.

—Mayim Heschel in a YouTube comment

My grandma said a lot of Jaim’s lyrics are from an old book about space called Pale Blue Dot. It was written a long time ago by this 20th-century astronomer called Carl Sagan. He studied the planets and stars and tried to convince ppl that we should go into space and become an inter-planetary species. There’s lots of vids of him on YouTube. He seems pretty cool. I wonder what he would have thought of Jaim.

—Not Your Everyday Archaeopteryx in a YouTube comment

No, you never see us. That was intentional. It was part of the deal SpaceX made with Jaim’s team. They wanted the performance to look like Jaim was orbiting in space all alone. But the Dragon VII spacecraft isn’t that big! We had to velcro ourselves to the walls just to stay out of the camera eye. We all joked we had front-row beds. You can’t see us in any of the videos, but I could have reached out and touched Jaim’s shoulder from where I lay strapped. We were that close!

There have been performances in space before. The most famous is probably Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity.” But that wasn’t live and was heavily edited. As part of the agreement we made, Jaim’s performance had to be livestreamed, and this ended up being quite difficult.

The cameras, the lights, the spacecraft orientation, the satellite downlinks, the software, and so much more—all had to be perfect. We were working up until the last second to make sure we had everything right, because if something went wrong, millions would be watching. It was stressful, certainly, but we are trained to operate under pressure. But I have to say that everyone involved, the crew up here and our ground team down on Earth, did a superlative job. We couldn’t have asked for a more professional bunch of people.

The best part, of course, was that we had a front-row seat! As soon as Jaim started playing, all my stress vanished. By the end of the set, I was so moved I was wiping away tears. Jaim really is an incredible performer. And, yes, contrary to what some are saying, it was all streamed live, without edits.

What you hear about Jaim, their affableness, their charm, is one hundred percent true. They’re a genuinely sweet person. Jaim is funny, witty, and whip-smart. There’s no arrogance or entitlement in them, which is honestly not what I expected after hearing so many malicious rumors.

Overall, I have to say, this experience has been one of the most rewarding of my life. And I hope Jaim’s performance has inspired people, young and old, to take a greater interest in space. I think it’s already working though, because I heard that applications to NASA’s astronaut corps have increased tenfold just this past week.

—From “Music of the Spheres: An Interview with Astronaut Theresa Ortolani, Mission Commander for Jaim Janan’s Journey Into Space” in The New York Times Magazine

The Bank of Thailand has issued a press release today announcing a new commemorative banknote. The 500-Baht note commemorates Thailand’s own Jaim Janan and their journey into space.

The new notes are primarily purple, similar to the 21st series of 500-Baht notes. Additional details and highlights appear in gold, orange, blue, and red. The front side depicts Janan in their space jumpsuit looking up and to their right, toward a turtle overlaid with stars (the constellation Orion). The reverse side depicts Jaim floating in zero-gravity before the spacecraft window, where the sun is rising above the Earth and Thailand is clearly visible. As an anti-counterfeit feature, the radial pattern surrounding the rising sun will turn yellow when viewed under ultraviolet light.

While the Royal Family could not be reached for comment, Queen Sirikit Narkhirunkanok has repeatedly condemned the choice of putting the world-famous celebrity on the bank notes. Nevertheless, the people of Thailand overwhelmingly support the measure, according to polls.

—From “Jaim Janan Will Appear on Commemorative 500-Baht Note,” an article in Thai Rath

Jaim Janan replica space jumpsuit, with real insignia, straps, and epaulettes, only 9,000 Baht from #BestDealsAsia #jaiminspace #replica #jumpsuit #wholesale #retail #bestdeals #dealoftheday #coupon

—From a comment on “Jaim Janan will Appear on Commemorative 500-Baht Note” in Thai Rath

Many in the world are celebrating Jaim Janan’s flight into space as if it were an act of divine revelation. But this troubled soul defiles the Lord’s good works with his sins, and his presence in the Lord’s heavenly sphere shames us all below. My dear children, if you are as heartbroken by the course of the world as I am, come join me this Sunday for a most serious worship and sermon, and together we will meditate on how we can turn this broken, twisted world from its dark path.

—A message from Senior Pastor Isaiah Young on the Fellowship Church’s website, Grapevine, Texas

Did pop-star Jaim Janan’s orbital performance make you more or less likely to want to go into space?

  • Not sure: 1%
  • Less likely: 2%
  • Somewhat less likely: 2%
  • Somewhat more likely: 10%
  • More likely: 84%

—From an online worldwide Gallup International poll of 386,415,678 respondents, ages 13-55.

In an apparent response to Jaim Janan’s famous performance in space, North Korea announced today they will be launching native-born pop-star Kwan Jang into space atop a repurposed ballistic missile next spring, where he will perform several songs from orbit. In a statement released yesterday, the reclusive government said, “Kwan Jang will showcase Korea’s indomitable strength, agility, and power. Jang is perfectly fit and healthy, and his musical ability is unparalleled in all musical genres. Jang will provide a harmonic, pleasing result to the entire world.”

While sales numbers of Jang’s recordings within North Korea are hard to come by, the artist is virtually unheard of outside of the country. Within North Korea, he is most famous for his somber, orchestral versions of “We Are One” and “Reunification Rainbow.”

—From “North Korea to Launch Their Own Pop-Star Into Space” on BBC News

Jaim Janan replica space jumpsuit, with real insignia, straps, and epaulettes, only $499.99 from #BestDealsChina #jaiminspace #replica #jumpsuit #wholesale #retail #bestdeals #dealoftheday #coupon

—From a comment on the BBC News website

Space tourism and transportation company Virgin Galactic has dramatically lowered the price of their sub-orbital space flights from New York to Tokyo to $12,500, putting space travel within reach of millions more people. This announcement comes in response to other space transportation companies, such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and China’s CALT, recently lowering their prices as well.

“Certainly, we have to remain competitive,” said Julia Tizard, President of Operations for Virgin Galactic. “The cost reduction is part of that. But interest in space travel has reached a global tipping point. Just as electric vehicles shifted from niche items into the mainstream once a certain price point was reached, we believe space travel between continents will soon become commonplace.”

While space travel today is not nearly as cheap as an intercontinental airline flight, Tizard says such a day isn’t far off. “We’ve seen demand for space travel rise exponentially in the last five years. It’s a simple economy of scale. The more people who go into space, the cheaper space travel becomes. By our current estimate, at the end of the decade as many as eighteen percent of intercontinental travelers will use some form of space flight to reach their destination. With such numbers, relatively inexpensive trips to the Moon and even Mars become a possibility.”

When asked if Jaim Janan’s orbital performance affected demand for space travel, Tizard replied, “Oh, absolutely. From the moment Jaim announced they were going into space, we saw a jump in reservations. But after their live performance, the demand has been just incredible. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen a twelve hundred percent increase in reservations. This, more than anything else, is the factor enabling us to lower our prices.”

—From “Virgin Galactic to Dramatically Slash Space-Travel Costs” on

Today, Jaim Janan performed in space. A trans person. Billions, I’m told, watched. There were so many, the internet crashed. The world stopped, for a moment to see. To hear. To feel. Many mocked Jaim before the trip. Many more were indifferent. But since Jaim’s performance, there has been a sea-change in the world. I sense it when I ride the train to work, and I see it when I look into my fellow citizen’s faces. We are no longer members of a particular race, nation, tribe, or band. We are all members of one race. We are all human.

With our endless news cycles focused on misery and despair, it’s all too easy to become myopic, to see the world only for its faults. It’s all too easy to become a cynic, to close our hearts and give up. But what Jaim has taught me, what Jaim has taught all of us, is that hope for humanity isn’t dead. Beauty persists in the world, and most especially in us, if only we allow ourselves to dance to its ancient song.

Today, a shining star has arced across the sky. Jaim is but one person. Yet there will soon be—I am sure of it—billions more to follow.

From now and every day to come, I will know that something within us has changed for the better. Because even though, compared to the sun, one star may be small, the long night has gotten a little bit brighter.

So Jaim Janan I just want to say: Thank you.

—Ysha Fuente, from an Op-Ed in Süddeutsche Zeitung

Look again at that dot
That’s here, that’s home, that’s us
Everyone you love, and everyone you know
And everyone who was
All their joys and suffering
All their faiths and prayers
Every saint and sinner
And their countless little heirs
All our bands and tribes
Thieves and lovers
Tyrants and peasants
Children and mothers
In the history of the world
Lived here
. . . here, here
On our little mote of dust
Dancing for a moment
In bright flash and gleam
Oh, dancing for a moment
. . . just this lonely precious moment
Dancing for a moment
Suspended in a sunbeam.

—Jaim Janan, after Carl Sagan

Matthew Kressel

Matthew Kressel

Matthew Kressel is a writer & software developer. He has been a finalist for the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Eugie Award. His short fiction can be found in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Analog, io9, Nightmare, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2018 Edition, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year – Volume 3, as well as many other online and print publications, and has been translated into seven languages. As a software developer, he created the Moksha submissions system, in use by many of the largest SF publishers today. Matt is also the co-host of Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in New York alongside Ellen Datlow. Find him online at @mattkressel or at