Some science fiction reads like popular science writing dressed up in story. “The House Beyond Your Sky,” by Benjamin Rosenbaum, is a story you really can’t understand unless you already know some science. The references to cosmology–like simulated universes and critical constants–go completely unexplained. And you know what? I like being treated as an adult.
The language is also beautiful. Try reading this out loud:
We who were born in the first ages, when space was bright—swimming in salt seas, or churned from a mush of quarks in the belly of a neutron star, or woven in the labyrinthine folds of gravity between black holes. We who found each other, and built our intermediary forms, our common protocols of being. We who built palaces—megaparsecs of exuberantly wise matter, every gram of it teeming with societies of self—in our glorious middle age!
Now our universe is old. That breath of the void, quintessence, which once was but a whisper nudging us apart, has grown into a monstrous gale. Space billows outward, faster than light can cross it. Each of our houses is alone, now, in an empty night.
Trouble is, just listening can lull you to sleep, which is the last thing you need with this story. You really need to engage the text by reading it yourself to understand the story. And then you can go to Escape Pod and hear it.
A resonant story that makes you feel smart.
Tomorrow: Paul Davies explains it all
Monday: all short stories, all the time.