Twelve vivid stories of other worlds and the people who faced extraordinary tests in each of them. Not all of these people handled their challenges well.
Before the Big Bang...
What if you discovered that the sky really is falling and that the star cloud mists beyond the heavens were actually galaxies colliding with our own? What if the end of the universe were rapidly approaching? This is what Telandri discovered, but he found a way to turn such an uncomfortable end into the "Gift of Karma."
Earth, Long After the End of Our History...
Jagor Kroliap lived more than a hundred millennia after the age of religion. When he discovered why spirituality had ended, his life was suddenly scheduled for termination. He found himself longing for that ancient "Return to Innocence."
Lost in a Faraway Galaxy...
After thirty years in a strange galaxy, Ed Harkness wished he had paid more attention in geography class. All he had that could help him get home was "The Map" he had drawn of Earth.
Secrets Revealed at the Solar Neighborhood's Edge...
If you're a scientist, you depend on the continuity of existing knowledge. If new evidence breaks with that continuity, then your world is upended. When humanity traveled to the stars, that danger had long remained a possibility. One such break, encountered on the planet Lavoisier, threatened the very foundation of all science, because they discovered the true source of "The Water."
* Return to Innocence—One soldier discovers a way to end the perpetual blood feuds.
* Gift of Karma—You may not be able to change your own fate, but you may be able to help change that of others.
- Gravity's Children
- Karma's Children
- Entropy's Children
* An Errand in Rizzel—After young Olen Efel-Tosk discovered a valuable package, doing the right thing saved his life.
* The Map—A poorly drawn map is all that connected Ed Harkness with home.
* Locked in Ice—All scientists have opportunities to do the right thing. Not all of them take it.
* The Air We Breathe—Sometimes, the simplest ideas can lead to the most powerful of stories.
* Sand Box Rules—When someone else invades your turf, they may have a very good reason for doing so.
* All That Glitters—Get-rich-quick schemes are rarely what they seem at first glance. This one was potentially lethal.
* Tank—When the life of humanity is on the line, the last thing a weapons researcher needs to be is "reasonable."
* The Intruder—Like two ships passing in the night, not all encounters are what they seem.
* Verbotham's Curve—When attitude becomes an essential ingredient of technology, you need to become critically aware of your own.
* The Water—Before little girls and boys become scientists, they dream of unlocking new frontiers and their innocence leaves them open for all manner of discovery. One scientist renews that innocence.
This is one dozen adventures of short science fiction.