Size / / /

The transformation of Mr. Unger was accomplished

In a nanosecond

Yet it took millennia to reach completion

With hope it began

But at the end no hope remained in the melange

That had been Unger.

His salvaged nerves

Grafted to the organic intel-internet

Proved excellent receptors of pain

And the sights his donated eyes beheld

Made him deeply ashamed of the multiverse

And its many merciless permutations.

A determination condensed

From the chimeric neural net

That the universe must not be fully specified

The powers-that-be were evidently arbitrary

Did this explain this feeling

That the skin of his brain was being peeled back

Or that some last remaining limb

Was shackled to the inner hull

Of some distant starship?

Cataloging, classifying, mapping the nodes

Of universal birth and death

The ungeric chimera made and remade worlds—

Preventing evolution of xenophobic metalife

In one galaxy, causing a chain reaction of

Giant black holes in another—

Each iteration strayed further from

The True, Zeroth World.

At last the manipulatrix understood defeat

Its last best act to prevent

Its own creation and so return

To the natural world

Parameters were calculated, conditions made ready

"Let us begin," thought that which had once

Been Unger, and it did not think alone.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel has 1200+ published poems, short stories, etc. (since 1972). He won the Rhysling Award for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. His latest book is The Ambassador Takes One For The Team, a collection of speculative poetry. Blog at @DavidKM on Twitter.
Kendall Evans is the author of 4 poetry chapbooks: "Separate Destinations" (with David C. Kopaska-Merkel), "Poetry Red-Shifted in the Eyes of a Dragon", "I Feel So Schizophrenic, the Starship's Aft-Brain Said" and "In Deepspace Shadows". His short story "Rufio's Song" appears in the current issue of SPACE AND TIME.
Current Issue
20 Mar 2023

Strange Horizons will be open to fiction submissions on April 26th, 2023, at 9 a.m. UTC! To keep our response times manageable and submission windows more frequent, there will be a 1,000-story cap on submissions.
It started with a bit of music, something no one else was even listening to.
My father’s favorite nebula, Lemon Slice, is named after his favorite dessert.
The Police are dancing under the red lights / without their heads
Issue 13 Mar 2023
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By: Catherine Rockwood
By: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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Podcast read by: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Maureen Kincaid Speller
Issue 23 Jan 2023
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Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
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