Category: Issue #01

The ‘What-The…!’ Tree

I lurch upwards, fighting to gulp air, my body trying to remember how. A pressure on my chest prevents me from flying off.

‘Breathe,’ a distant voice commands, and I do.

A warm flannel is passed roughly over my preservative-numbed and gunk-covered face as the tank drains around me, the vacuum pumps gurgling as the last of the fluid is sucked away. If anything, the air feels even colder than the liquid.

Slowly, painfully, I crack open my eyes, light flaring across them.

The room is quiet, the bays to either side empty, as unlike the organised chaos of our departure as anything can be. Am I the last to be awakened or the first?

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The Age of Exploration

Reality was a blur.

As it was every morning.

Tsukiko woke. 98 years young. The eldest member of the geriatric crew.

Her enhanced retinas spun to work, and reality focused. The augments’ efforts seemed to cause a whir in Tsukiko’s skull. She knew the sound was a figment of her imagination, a phantom of her own making. A persistent one, though.
The antimatter grav-engine in her quarters switched into day-mode and, slowly, Tsukiko felt the weight descend on her joints. Others preferred weightlessness in their personal chambers, but the light pressure made her feel oddly comforted, as if she were being embraced by embodied memories of Earth’s unrelenting tug. Besides, it numbed the unavoidable aches that came with an ancient body. Even an augmented one.

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‘Maybe you want to put that weapon down, son.’

I never figured out how Moore could sound so calm with the barrel of a gun pointed at him. The two strangers standing on the edge of our lands were haggard, thin, and twitchy—the worst kind of travelers on Nuaga. Moore looked like royalty compared to them, in their threadbare clothes. But the way he squared his shoulders, the way his low baritone issued smoothly through the dry air—that was the real source of his authority, which set him apart from the wanderers and from me.

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A Generation Starship Answers The Wrong Question

The generation starship trope has provided a rich seam for science fiction writers. From Heinlein and Aldiss in the Golden Age of SF, the idea of a starship bound on course for generations, with its Noah’s ark of human cargo, has fascinated writers and readers. Yet, recent scientific advances have revealed how difficult it would be to build and sustain such a ship throughout its long voyage. More importantly, when we are eventually able to build it, will we still need it?

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For Future Generations, Part 2

The first section of our first issue is now complete, and we move from exploration to interrogation. Yes, perhaps a generation ship is currently our most feasible option, but will it always be so? Are the associated costs worth the benefits of such a titanic effort? Is there a middle ground? What haven’t we considered?

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Transmission to Tera

The shuttle, shaped like a Ferris wheel and operated like a zip line, came to rest in the satellite bay as it did every day-interval. Guy Heller got off with the rest, the same workers he had commuted with for years. They traded the same remarks, made the same observations on their way up the terminal: yes, it was still considered Monday on the anachronistic calendar; everyone was still addicted to caffeine and some to alcohol; outer space was still remarkably big.

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The Caulbearer

‘Should be close, now—about two cables,’ said Kexin, peering into the watery murk through the bulb of our harvester pod. ‘Come on…’

The powerful lights showed nothing but the ubiquitous organic snow—a cloud of tiny glimmering particles that filled the seven oceans of Heptabia.

‘They should be here. They should be right here,’ he said, not bothering to keep the frustration from his voice.

‘I think I just got a blip,’ I said, scrutinising the sub’s on-board echo read. ‘Try a little higher.’

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Quest Nine

I might as well get up since I can’t sleep anyway. There’s barely enough room to turn around in my tiny shower, but the water is perfect. I make it so hot my skin will glow pink when I step out. Eventually, the ration timer sounds its trill 30-second warning, but I let the system shut itself off rather than stop it manually, savouring these last few seconds.

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For Future Generations, Part 1

Dear Reader, Welcome to the debut issue of Electric Athenaeum! We hope you, the current generations, enjoy the articles, stories, and poems we have gathered to explore the theme of For Future Generations. We certainly enjoyed (most of) the process of assembling them for you!

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