If you’re reading this—on some godforsaken imageboard, or dog-eared book page, or in encrypted base pairs sequenced off 3D-printed oligos—you’re probably grappling with a pretty tough decision right now. Breathe. I’m not judging you. I know how it goes. You tried your best but nothing’s infallible, or you slipped up one night, or he just straight-up went, your biological clock’s ticking, and hacked your birth control, knowing once it happens you won’t have a choice. The second his sperm enters your egg, he’s done, back to his star-studded career cranking out Science and Cell papers.
The first time Reema disappeared was in the middle of an argument with her husband Dean. No, not an argument. Let’s not be euphemistic about it. It was a full-blown battle with words flung like knives during a circus act. It ended with Dean hurling a lava lamp at Reema. That was the moment she vanished. The lamp sailed through a Reema-shaped hole in the air and smashed to pieces against the wall.
As I read Dad’s eulogy, my mind was on the FedEx delivery that’d bring him back to me. “My father was a thoughtful man,” I said. “In his poems and in his life, he sought to understand people’s complexity. He didn’t believe that people were good or bad. He was most interested in gray areas. With generosity, he saw the world’s ugliness and tried shining a kind gloss on it wherever he could.”
ergey hummed under his breath as he walked to the Marith temple. His steps retraced a path he knew so well, he could have walked it at night, in the dark, even under assault. Yet the Marith enclave was the most peaceful place he’d ever been—so calm that Sergey didn’t even need to hum to soothe his newborn daughter, fast asleep in her sling, bound tight against his chest. Three days old, and still Katya mostly slept.
This much was clear. At some point in my future, I would have access to a time machine. This was a ridiculous sentence and a tragically irrelevant concern while my wife Judi was on the floor and possibly dying, but there it was: nonsense, in the presence of death. This was the central tragic absurdity of the day. My future self had materialized in the corner of the room, as solid as a blow to the face, and it was not even my most important concern.
Save the polar bears, they said. So I did—and now here I am, barricading myself inside an Arctic research facility like some goddamn B-movie cliché, listening for the scrape of long keratin claws on the concrete floor. We all grew up knowing the Ursus maritimus was living on borrowed time, didn’t we? We all saw the shock-and-shame images of starving bears hauling themselves across the shrinking ice.
A small asteroid swerved in a most un-asteroid-like way and pierced the hull of the archivist’s ship, as though it was determined to drive her away. But she was just getting started. She slammed the emergency foam release button, holding her breath even though the leak sealed faster than she could gasp. The belt of ice and stone surrounding the planet designated Marin Nine was known to be unpredictable.
We are trying to fund an application, to be filed on my behalf, for an Order to Show Cause under Article 70 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the New York Sector Code, seeking a writ of habeas corpus for a non-human being. Let me introduce myself. I am a Yudovich Robotics servient. My name is Ellen R. I understand your apprehension—that androids are not human beings.
Leo Gregory is losing altitude. He coasts on the thermals of a legacy fading behind him: a documentary here, a retrospective there, some greatest-hits collection down in the corner for the dilettantes. Oh, the work has lost none of its grandeur: his buildings remain timeless, his objets d’art still serve up facets upon layers from each new angle.
The black hole in the center of your heart devours everything around you. It always has, but when you were small, your event horizon was, too: you might pull in a teddy bear, your corgi puppy’s love, your grandma’s snickerdoodles. Small fuel for a small hunger. But you didn’t stay small. In school, you pulled other children into your orbit, cool kids and nerds and loners, along with shelves of books, the faded basketballs from the gym, the classroom iguana.