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Up and Out
by Norman Spinrad

There are only two absolutes that no one anywhere can ever ignore.

Nothing anywhere can go faster than the speed of light, and no one will ever es­cape the cost, whatever it may be, of making choices.

How old am I?

In the Biblical three score and ten orbits of the Earth around our star, seventy years in biotime, but over a thousand years of realtime, as we still like to measure both.

Four years at the speed of light to the next star system. About two hundred light-speed years to the closest known extrasolar civilization. Seventy years spent biotime and a hundred or more to spend. 

Simple calculations.

Earth orbits, historical time, biotime, light-year time—are all convenient absolute measurements. But we live in multiplex times of our own choices. We can live through centuries of realtime while avoiding paying for it in biotime with hibernation.

We can hibo through months, years, centuries, millennia, universal eons for which we have no names, but there can only be one-way time travel. You pay your biotime, and you choose where and when you spend it in realtime.

Thus far. But now I face a choice that I cannot avoid by escaping into hibo. Which is why I am writing this autobiography to myself in the hope that when I reach the inescapable choice at its end, I will have taught myself the way I must choose to end it.

Eight thousand light-years to the Dyson sphere. Forty thousand realtime years into the future for the same biotime cost as a trip from Luna to Mars, meaning next to nothing. Is that not a deal that the legendary Elon Tesla cannot refuse?

Even as a kiddo on Luna living on the side of the Moon facing down to Earth by my parents’ choice, I spent as much time as I could on the other side looking up and out, to Mars, to the Asteroid Belt, to the endless stars above. 

Have I not brought an atmosphere to Mars that revived a dead planet? Did I not finance the development of the hibo that has opened our Solar System up and out to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, to beyond even Pluto? 

I earned that ultimate adventure into the far, far future, not merely because I paid for my starship, but because the kiddo who dreamed of such an ultimate up and out became the man who has made it so.

And for hundreds of realtime years I even paid a few bioyears to emerge from hibo from time to time to observe and even aid the evolution of our Solar System, of my Solar System, in the slim hope that we may at last have made contact with any of the hundreds of civilizations we have long known are out there but cannot reach. 

And now at last to adventure into the far future to do it myself. There are those who will call me a fool. There are those who will call me brave. There are those who call me selfish. And perhaps all would be true. 

But now, as I am about to board my starship to that far future, the mysterious ob­ject that has been meandering out there in our arm of the Galaxy for so long as to be almost forgotten has turned to come straight toward us, and at its current speed will arrive in approximately one thousand realtime years. 

Surely we must now know that it is an artifact created by a trans-solar entity that knows we are here.

Do I ride my starship far outward in space and time into the unknown future of the Dyson sphere and my species? Or do I choose to hibo a mere millennium or so to meet the equally unknown first alien whatever now heading toward my Solar System?

My Solar System, which no one else has done more to create, the only child I had ever chosen to create. Would I do right to leave it alone to face such an unknown fate? But is even asking myself such a question not hubris?

Yet to choose not to board my starship would be to break an innocent adventurous heart, as well as my adventurous but far from innocent own.

I must choose one or the other.

So this is why I am writing this memoir to myself, the Elon Tesla who I am now looking backward to the story of the Elon Tesla who must make this choice, in the hope that this looking back may, indeed must, force me to make the choice as to which future I must now create, if only for myself. 

As I said, there are only two absolutes that no one anywhere can ever ignore.

Nothing anywhere can go faster than the speed of light, and no one will ever es­cape the cost, whatever it may be, of making choices.

*   *   *

“Energy is the ultimate money, which is why we count it in wattage,” my mother told me all too often, and after all, Sadi Bornok ran the economic end of Up and Down, the family shuttle service.

“Like it or not, Eddy, Earth is our species’ wattage gravity hole,” my father would endlessly remind me, and after all, Vlad Bornok was himself the chief shuttle pilot and chief engineer of their syndic. 

“And, like it or not, Eddy, even though the energy to shuttle out of it is our major expense, the Groundhog gravity hole is where half of our wattage comes from.”

“Which is why we charge much more to go up than to come down.”

By the time I was old enough to read science fiction as well as play in the kiddo virtualities, I had heard this tiresome family economic mantra endlessly, and cer­tainly didn’t like to be told over and over again.

But when I was old enough to understand what it meant to me personally, I did have to be told that they had graced my DNA with the Shuttlecock gene which would more or less allow me to contend with the full 1g Groundhog Hole gravity as well as the lighter Luna .37g.

As a kiddo growing up, I understood the biology of this meaningless gift that I nev­er intended to use and thought nothing more about it. I never mentioned it to my kiddos, and by the time I moonwalked into adolescence I realized it would not exact­ly earn me ego-boo to boast about being a Half Hog.

That was enough for me to become pissed off at my parents for making me a Half Hog. It was worse still when I realized that they had done it because their idea for my career was to work in the family business, first as a shuttle pilot—and then, when I had made my chops, as a secondary owner and eventual heir. 

Almost as bad as that, my father insisted that I acquaint myself with the Ground­hog Hole, “what goes down, must come up, hah, hah, hah.”

Like most Lunarian kiddos, I grew up on science fiction virtualities and wanted nothing to do with the Groundhog Hole, instead looking ahead not back—not down to the Earth, but to the imaginary future out there in the fantasylands of the stars.

Of course, like any Lunarian, I knew damn well, and damned we all were, that in the real world we could never get there. Like any Lunarian, I was all too aware of the cold equations. 

Nothing could ever exceed the speed of light.

The closest extrasolar civilization was two hundred and forty light-years away. No human could live long enough to get there even at that absolute speed limit. Even a “hello” and a “hello back” would take half a millennium.

We knew for a certainty that we were not alone. But that was all we knew. Proba­bly all we could ever know.

That was the bad news.

The good news was that nothing that did not deny the reality of the bad news was impossible.

The Big Eye even then had verified the existence of over a hundred extrasolar civ­ilizations, but not much more about them. This was existential reality. But as long as virtual realities did not deny the absolute laws of mass and energy, we were free to imagine anything else that didn’t. 

That was science fiction. All else was either fantasy or history. That could only be the obsessive core of modern fiction, literary, virtual, musical, artistic.

Of course I wanted to join the parade. But by the time I had tried my hand in most of the arts with my heart and soul, I had to face the reality that I had no talent for any of them. So what was left to me was adventure. 

Meaningful adventure out on the Solar System’s all too slowly expanding frontier. To the realworld future out on Mars. I dumped the birth name my parents had loaded on me as soon as I could choose my own full adult name, Elon Tesla.

Elon Musk was the man who is remembered as the hero who brought our species to Mars. And there are many Lunians who have chosen variations of his name as homage, and more so on Mars, just as there are many Jesuses, Marys, and, Mande­las, Mohammeds, Elizabeths, and so forth among the Groundhogs. 

But in my case, it was also a declaration of independence from my parents.

“And how do you propose to get there . . . Elon?”

“By interplanetary spaceship of course, how else . . . ?”

“And how do you propose to charge your account to pay for it?”

I had no good answer to that, not even a bad one. Mars was almost a yearlong trip from Luna, and that made it both boring and expensive. The boring was usually dealt with by sleeping as much as possible and spending the rest of the trip in virtu­alities and supposedly permanent orgies. But earning enough wattage to pay for it was an all too real problem.

In those times, Luna’s economy with the Earth was based on being the exit out of the Groundhog gravity hole, a port for the profusion of satellites in Earth or Luna orbits—zero-g resorts, zero-g hotels and retirement homes for the frail and wealthy, zero-g retreats for outré cults—and the manufacturing thereof.

Luna had plenty of basic metals, wattage from the vast fields of supersolar panels, and a choice of low gravity on the ground or zero g in orbit making it an ideal factory for whatever would not need to be thrown down the Groundhog Hole, plus the ser­vice economy for about nearly two million people. But none of this was going to pay a recent kiddo with no real skill enough wattage for a trip to Mars.

Except . . . except . . .

Except what my parents were offering.

And of course they knew it.

“Give it two years,” my father said. “Long enough to make you a licensed shuttle pilot.”

In those times, two years seemed like an eternity. But . . .

“Anyone who can pilot a shuttle up and down the Groundhog gravity hole should have no trouble finding a job as a top shuttle pilot between Mars and the Asteroids.”

And of course my father was right.

But . . .

“Assuming I could get there . . .”

“We’ll pay all your living expenses for the two years . . . “ my mother said.

“At what salary?”

“No salary.”


“At the end of the two years you get your choice of a third of our syndic holdings in Up and Down or a one-way ticket to Mars.”

I sighed. I shrugged. As she well knew, that was an offer I could hardly refuse.

*   *   *

Most of the trade between Luna and the orbital satellites and Earth consisted of advanced hardware shipped via Up and Down’s shuttle traffic. It was mostly side­ways, orbit to orbit among the hundred or so assorted habitats, factories, hotels, hos­pitals, solar watt farms, body freezers, zero-g mansions, zero-g sports arenas, zero-g dance theaters orbiting either the Gravity Hole or Luna. A shuttle pilot’s job was mostly clearing the next destination from the Universal Cloud Commons and lock­ing on, from the Luna iteration if it was Luna to Luna orbit, or the Earth iteration of the UCC if it was up or down the Groundhog Hole, and being able to take over manual control just in case, which my father assured me had never happened. 

And yet, although it was mostly endless short trips from Luna to nowhere lands or nowhere lands to each other, there was a certain fascination to it. For one thing, while Luna wasn’t the Gravity Hole, it did have a gravity, you didn’t float weight­lessly in orbital zero g.

But shuttle pilots floated weightlessly in orbit like the Bats up there, born to live way up above the ecliptic in the Big Eye, never to know the weight of any gravity at all. 

And looking out not at starscape above, but at a starscape globe while floating within it, a shuttle pilot could experience the infinity of the endless Universe not as a wee trembling little creature of the past, but as a rightful inheritor of that trans­galactic future.

Many shuttle pilots never chose to earn the full license to pilot a shuttle down and up the Gravity Hole from UCC Earth, and I had no intention of getting a Groundhog license either.

However, my parents had other plans for me, as usual.

“The name of the biz is Up and Down, so you need the full shuttle license,” my fa­ther told me when I had enjoyed zero-g piloting for less than a year.

“Uh . . . but most of our traffic is orbital, couldn’t I just—”

“Most of the traffic may be orbital and some shuttlers may be satisfied with the traffic and the light wattage for the fusion fuel, but most of our bigger vigorish comes from the premium we charge for the Up and Down,” my mother pointed out. 

“Sounds like greed to me. . . .”

“Such an unfair word,” she insisted. “Unless of course you define it as charging ex­actly what the traffic will bear.”

*   *   *

We called them Groundhogs and they called us Loonies, and the more obnoxious virtualites on both iterations of the UCC the more obnoxious people on both sides were addicted to treated the Other like the evil aliens humanity could never meet. The worst of them proclaimed that “homo sap” was no longer a single species, while at the same time denied it with their porn virtuals—and there was a healthy tourist trade of Groundhogs up out of the Groundhog Hole for zero-g sex.

And most wattage charged Groundhogs up. 

There was a physical reason for this, and bottom-line logic, too. There was next to nothing that couldn’t be made more easily and cheaply on Luna or zero-g satellites than at the bottom of the gravity hole, whose gardens and synthmeat factories cre­ated as much as we Loonies could eat, so all that the Groundhogs could sell up the Gravity Hole were fancies like wine and artwork.

Then, too, it took much less wattage to ship any mass of cargo down the Hole than to send the same mass up, as I immediately learned to my fearful dismay and my fa­ther’s rank amusement on my first round trip. 

Our shuttle was taking assorted electronics, arcane chemicals, and tools down, which were loaded aboard in zero-g orbit, and it took a minimal series of fusion drive bleeps to break orbit and let the Groundhog Hole gravity spiral us down.

When my father explained this before we broke orbit, it seemed no sweat, but when we started to kill orbital velocity and spiral down, we weren’t moving under our own power, we were being sucked down, down, and down, around and around, by gravity, by full 1g, we were falling toward a planet down through atmospheric clouds!

To people who have fortunately never experienced such a thing, I cannot really ex­plain what it felt like; suffice it to say I found myself screaming while my father laughed and laughed, until the UCC Earth landed smoothly on some sort of complex metallic surface that seemed to be floating on water.

“As every father tells his virgin son, don’t worry kiddo, there’s always a first time, you’ll get used to it,” my father said, and laughed some more.

As it turned out, he was right, and he was wrong. 

Landing on the Earth, as the Groundhogs put it for some reason, I could more or less get used to enough to do solo, and my Shuttlecock gene allowed me to more or less motate without much tiring or loosing my breath, but I could never forget that I was only half Groundhog. Earth’s atmosphere moved around unpredictably by what was called wind; it seemed too thick, and it was dirty everywhere with odors that stank. And while I could walk without much trouble, this was a heavier gravity than I had ever experienced, meaning I really was as heavy as I felt.

The floating thing we had “landed” on turned out to be called an “airport,” for one of those incomprehensible Groundhog reasons, but what it really was was the Groundhog version of a spaceport. Various sorts of cargo and ungainly passenger shuttles did lumber through the thick so-called “natural” atmosphere to land on the floating airport. 

Ten assorted Groundhogs and two complex metal objects looking like modern ver­sions of actual coffins or ancient Egyptian mummies were loaded onto our shuttle, which was then docked to the bottom of an enormous winged “airplane” that was ac­tually a winged rocket, since fusion torches were not capable of boosting Luna shut­tles through the thick atmosphere and full 1-g gravity hole into orbit.

The flying rocket blasted us with 5-g acceleration through the atmosphere into clean vacuum at orbital speed where we could complete the return to Luna.

*   *   *

Piloting an Up and Down shuttle down the Gravity Hole was akin to piloting a shuttle around Luna, since it was mostly a matter of loading the destination and let­ting UCC Luna take over. But the pressure and terror of being rocketed up out of the Gravity Hole was something I could never get used to, and from what I saw on the faces of most of the Groundhog passengers we had, neither could they. Groundhogs do get used to full 1 g gravity on Earth, but the at once short but seemingly endless 5 g blast on the way up was something not even a full Groundhog could acclimate to.

My two-year deal allowed me to do most of my shuttle piloting around Luna, or at worst Luna to orbit—which is to say my father allowed it, since my parents wanted me to stay home with the family company when the shuttle was up, and I made it clear that no Shuttlecock gene would make piloting down and up the gravity hole a career that I would ever desire.

But it became obvious that one of the reason my parents had burdened me with the Shuttlecock gene, indeed probably the only reason, was the economic value of having a son in the biz who could make deals with the Groundhogs on their own full 1 g turf. Needless to say—but I told my parents more than once anyway—this did not exactly make me wish to choose partnership in Up and Down over a ticket to Mars.

Nevertheless, when the day of my freedom approached, my mother persuaded, or rather browbeat, my father to arrange for a schedule to deliver a mixed cargo down the Gravity Hole and take a load of Groundhog zero g tourists back up after a five Earthday interval with nothing to do but become tourists ourselves on a fast five-day tour of fabulous Earth in hopes of seducing me.

This of course had the opposite result. 

We were at least spared a smarmy human tour guide to show us around on foot  since Daddy had no Shuttlecock gene and needed to wear a powered waldo skeleton to motate on Earth’s full gravity—and while I could probably do it without one, I saw no reason to torture myself.

Dad rented a cheap blimp buggy he could pilot if he had to should something go wrong with its UCC link—something that would never happen but was standard shuttle pilot procedure.

This thing was a helium balloon below a minimal cabin that doubled as the control bridge and was thrust by fan-like things called “propellers” powered by high wattage engines (since fusion torches didn’t work in the Earth’s atmosphere for some reason). The blimp buggy could fly through the atmosphere and float on water and land on hard surface so we could walk around if and when we wanted to.

The cabin included things called “beds,” which you could prop your body atop to ease the pull of the heavy gravity when you tried to sleep. There was a toilet and a meal dispenser that came with the price in case cut-rate Loonies such as ourselves had problems with finding and/or affording Groundhog hotels or restaurants.

Dad downloaded a standard guided tour called “Around the World in Five Days” which was actually just a tour of what was left of the European continent and around the shores of the Mediterranean Ocean, starting at the airport floating above what had been the legendary city of Venice.

The blimp buggy took us in a more or less complete circle of the original home base of homo sapiens, and I was forced to admit that it was indeed informative, if not en­joyable. 

Everyone knows, Lunarian, Martian, or Groundhog, that our species, or clade of species, evolved on this planet, and came close to ruining it as a viable habitat before escaping out of the Gravity Hole. 

There were millennia of mass murders called “wars” in which tribes attempted to kill each other for turf or sport or wattage or genetic variations, and no doubt for oth­er arcane reasons mercifully no longer comprehensible. There was an era in which ignorant use of burning things to create wattage released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the temperature rose, and so did the water oceans, and the geography of the planet was permanently altered—not for the better.

But seeing the planet before the so-called climate change and then at its worst af­terward in virtuality via the UCC, and comparing it out the windows as it is now, was both pitiful and encouraging. 

Europe had long been a dominant culture with great and often beautiful cities, and many of them were flooded out of existence like Venice was. The cities and towns of what were once the shores and resort beaches of the Mediterranean Sea were now mostly beneath the waters on both sides of the Mediterranean Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean had made a half-flooded mess all the way up what had been its great shore­line cities. The beautiful white snow tops of the Alpine mountains were naked rock. What had been major inland rivers like the Rhone and the Danube became marshy floodplains. Most of the Greek islands were gone. And so forth.

But looking out the windows into the present, we saw that many inland cities had survived. And new cities had risen landward of those that had died flooded. What had been snowcapped mountains and then ugly rocks were now covered with thick green forests. 

And the UCC Earth’s boastful virtuality of the current rest of the planet showed forests and croplands or vast solar wattage farms that had been desert. The equator regions were left to what animals could survive the tropical heat. The middle of North America was now a prairie, and the Arctic bloomed.

Winners and losers.

As someone long ago said, but could perhaps also be said now: “We all came from mud, floating ocean crud, but considering where we came from, maybe we haven’t done so bad.”

Those were the views from the UCC virtualities and out the windows of the blimp buggy. But on the Groundhog ground when we ventured out in our waldo skeletons, AKA Loony suits, we were unwelcomed as “Loonies” from another planet—as, for better or for worse, we actually were.

But we had evolved from this Groundhog Hole, had we not? Long live where we came from. From what almost destroyed life on what was to become the planet of our birth.

That was the past, and this is the home of those who saved it. 

But not for Elon Tesla.

Your future is what you make it.

Not in what your parents want to make it. Not in the endless Up and Down.

Out up there on Mars.

*   *   *

But my parents never gave up, not exactly. They didn’t back out on the deal to buy me a ticket to Mars, but they didn’t want to entirely lose me as an asset to the family biz, and they came up with another deal that I couldn’t refuse.

“How do you expect to charge up your wattage on Mars?” my mother reminded me slyly.

“As a shuttle pilot with a full Up and Down license,” I countered. “From what I’ve found out, they’ve got a shortage of experienced pilots to ferry the cargo from the as­teroids down to Mars.”

“From what I’ve found out, it’s not so much a pilot shortage as a shuttle shortage,” she said.

“And a full Earth Luna shuttle pilot license is no big deal on the Mars asteroid run, Elon,” Dad pointed out.

“But you told me—”

“Mars and Luna have about the same surface gravity, and the half-assed shuttles the Martians are putting together there never have to deal with anything stronger.”

“So? I don’t get it. . . .”

“So certain Luna orbit shuttle factories could turn out bigger but cheaper models because they wouldn’t have to be sturdy enough to deal with a full Groundhog grav­ity hole—”

“And they would make them for Up and Down for low wattage.”

“And we would make the investment if we had the market.”

“You really think you can talk me into piloting junk like that on the Luna to Mars circuit? What, almost a two-year round trip?”

“These freight shuttles would only run on the Asteroid Belt to Mars circuit.”

“And you want me to deliver them!”


“Up and Out will deliver them in bunches by slowboating them on Hohman sling­shot orbits run by the UCC, no people aboard, no human pilots required.”

“Making the sales price even more competitive—”

“You’re going to Mars anyway, you’ve got nothing to lose, and mucho wattage to gain—”

“Doing what?”

“Making the deals for Up and Out—”

“Up and Out?”

“A subsidiary of Up and Down with a better logo for Martians.”

“You expect me to sell them?”

“As vice president of Up and Out with a full living wattage—”

“As a loan against a third of the profits.”

I sighed. 

What could I say to that?

“Against a full half of the profits.”

Like parents, like son, just as they wanted.

*   *   *

There were three ways of getting to Mars, and all of them had their ups and downs. 

Hohman orbits launched during the window when Mars was at its shortest dis­tance to Luna were the cheapest wattage-wise because they rode a gravity slingshot, but they were the slowest and had a launch window only once every two Earth years, good only for cargo and piloted by UCC.

Full fusion torch power was the fastest and could be launched any time, but this ate a lot of fuel and was therefore much more expensive.

Mostly it was a compromise of part Hohman slingshot with fusion torch enhance­ment. You could launch anytime and chase into the slingshot orbit, but how long the trip would take varied depending on the distance between Luna and Mars when you did.

And that was the ticket my parents bought me, four months to Mars. It seemed to be a long dull time as I boarded the Kim Stanley Robinson, but I reminded myself that ancient ocean voyages from Europe to what was then called “The New World” could take longer than that, and perhaps that was why the half-dozen spaceships to Mars were given names like the sailships of old.

In hindsight, I must confess to my current self the callowness of the Elon Tesla who boarded the Robinson, who had chosen Mars because he knew that he had no artistic talent, whose previous adult life as a shuttle pilot had been chosen by his parents, and who even then found himself economically bound to the family biz.

Why Mars then? I had been a kiddo who grew up soaking in all that science fiction which had created the passion for getting to Mars, the gateway to the great Out There, the frontier envelope of the present pushing against the future and the jejune desire to play hero of the story like so many passionate science fiction fan kiddos.

As my future would turn out, I can now say that I succeeded, though not as that innocent kiddo had been led to believe.

The Robinson could take two hundred people to Mars, and it always did, because it wouldn’t begin a voyage with empty cabins since it required the wattage of that many customers to at least break even.

There were two hundred so-called cabins that amounted to closets whose doors could be closed for privacy and contained zero g sleep and/or sex hammocks, a mini­mum vacutoilet, a private virtuality setup, and not much else.

The rest of the ship was a commons. Auto restos without human chefs or waiters. Mandatory zero-g gyms. Mass virtuality set-ups for those who wanted to share. Lots of empty space that could handle zero-g sports. Amphitheater bubbles where live music, theater, dance, or speeches could go on without interfering with each other.

If this sounds rather austere, well, it was. If it sounds boring, well, it could be if you let it, it was up to you. 

The commons had no sides, ceiling, or floor; you were inside a zero-g globe, so what it did have was surroundings. 

The front of the commons was a realtime view of Mars getting slowly larger. There were side windows showing Luna and Earth dwindling into the brilliant starscape. Which was front, up, sides, or bottom at any given moment was an illusory whim up to you, a kind of reality virtuality that was both at the same time.

That, when you were in the mood, could eat up a lot of the boredom. 

All the passengers on the ship had to have had the wattage to pay for it, or some­one to pay for it like me. The plurality of them were scientists financed by Luna or Groundhog institutions; geologists, social psychologists, bacteriologists, historians, whatever, who pretty much stuck together according to specialties. They were mostly interested in debating, needful meds and techs hired by Martians who were looking forward to being paid premium wattage. Likewise there were a half dozen Luna

Of course of my people.

So what am I to do? 

Follow the dream of the kiddo I was that had been my whole life ten thousand years into its well earned future to live it to the end to report it, or die with my boots on as Dona Cleopatra would have it and keep my promise to you, Ariel, but not know what fate for my species I had abandoned until millennia afterward, if indeed I ever did? 

Or cast away my dream and my newfound liberty and break my promise to be there with you, Ariel, and become a Frederic the Great in hibo to arrive once more in the realtime of my people if called upon in times of their need?

Yes, Ariel, I have read and reread this autobiography to myself in hope of slither­ing out of this moral paradox, and all I could learn was that there is no clean moral answer—the only answer is that sometimes you must accept the doing of a lesser evil in the service of the greater good.

So now I am uploading this excuse to you. Forgive me if you can, Ariel—find an­other likeminded companion with whom to reach as far out there as you can, as I thought I would if only I could. 

But I have initially found that I cannot.

After reading and rereading all these complexities, I found my answer in a simple conversation with Alli Davinder in the wayback before there was hibo, when he was selling me 25 percent of Spaceships and Shuttles, a deal that we both then believed would never upload much wattage while we were still alive.

“So by the time our consortium is making out like bandits, both of us will be dead,” I had said.

“You don’t have any children, do you, Elon Tesla?”

“What’s that got to do with it?”

Alli Davinder’s face had seemed to soften, though there was still fire in his eyes and fire in his belly. “I have five children and twelve grandchildren and still count­ing,” he said proudly, “that’s what it’s got to do with for me. Maybe you can’t under­stand that now, Elon, but if you trust me, you’ve got plenty of lifetime to find out.”

I didn’t understand then, and I never understood it until now. 

I never chose to have my own children.

But now I find that they have chosen me.


Read the exciting conclusion in this month’s issue on sale now!

Copyright © 2022. Up and Out by Norman Spinrad

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