short stories

Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain

The usual fallacy is that, in every universe, many futures splay outward from any given moment. But in some universes, determinism runs backwards: given a universe’s state s at some time t, there are multiple previous states that may have resulted in s. In some universes, all possible pasts funnel toward a single fixed ending, Ω.

A story about fate, an inexplicably deadly gun, and a glass of water two degrees away from freezing. This is what happens when I am thinking about guns and Daniel Dennett’s Freedom Evolves at the same time. Thanks to Rachel Brown, my sister, Geoff Cohen, Iain, and Joseph Betzwieser. Published in Lightspeed Sept. 2010 (Issue 4; podcast version available). Reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction 28, ed. Gardner Dozois, The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011, ed. Rich Horton, Lightspeed Year One, ed. John Joseph Adams, and Other Worlds Than These, ed. John Joseph Adams. A 2011 Sturgeon Award Finalist.

Lightspeed also ran an author spotlight, where Jordan Hamessley asked me about the background of the story.