Tuesday, November 30, 2021

"Where He Was Going, No Man Had Ever Gone Before"

"The Cosmic Snare."
By Stephen Marlowe (Milton Lesser, 1928-2008).
Illustration uncredited.
First appearance: Imagination Science Fiction, February 1956.
Short story.
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE; 13 text pages) and The Lumin-ist Archives (HERE; original text: 14 pages; go down to text page 108).

     "Sub-space was a vast nothingness used for instantaneous travel between stellar worlds. It was uncharted, and—Liddell knew—a death trap!"

In our everyday world the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but in Liddell's universe the shortest distance is between love and death . . . .

Main characters:
~ Liddell:
  "He blinked. And opened his eyes. And stared out on a featureless gray infinity."
~ Linda:
  "I trust you, Lidd. I trust you with my life."
~ John Smith:
  "Why don't we talk about where you're going to send me?"

Typos: "They must be a catch"; "the blank whiteness his head".

References and resources:
- "a hundred parsecs": A long, long walk:
  "The parsec (symbol: pc) is a unit of length used to measure the large distances to astronomical objects outside the Solar System, approximately equal to 3.26 light-years or 206,000 astronomical units (au), i.e. 30.9 trillion kilometres (19.2 trillion miles)" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Sub-space" (often called hyperspace) has been a very useful trope for SFF writers for decades; for the Star Trek versions of sub-space see Memory Alpha (HERE). Wikipedia has an article about "hyperspace" (HERE) and TV Tropes has a more expansive entry about it (HERE), but the idea of using it to get around is lampshaded at Atomic Rockets (HERE).
- "Deneb Twelve": We still don't know for certain how far away it is:
  "[Deneb] is the brightest star in Cygnus and the 19th brightest star in the night sky, with an average apparent magnitude of +1.25. A blue-white supergiant, Deneb rivals Rigel as the most luminous first-magnitude star. However, its distance, and hence luminosity, is poorly known; its luminosity is somewhere between 55,000 and 196,000 times that of the Sun" (Wikipedia HERE and HERE; also see Memory Alpha HERE).
- "the normal space-time continuum": We're not so sure about that "normal":
  "In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model which fuses the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a single four-dimensional manifold. Spacetime diagrams can be used to visualize relativistic effects, such as why different observers perceive differently where and when events occur" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Snafu here": For politicians and bureaucrats it's a way of life:
  "It means that the situation is bad, but that this is a normal state of affairs. The acronym is believed to have originated in the United States Marine Corps during World War II" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Zeus wielding a thunderbolt": When that happened superstitious people would look anxiously skyward:
  "Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of three poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Two other stories making use of the teleportation plot device have been featured on ONTOS: Larry Niven's "The Alibi Machine" (HERE) and Wendy Nikel's "Glitch" (HERE).
- We've bumped into Milton Lesser using several aliases, including his own name ("Wild Talents, Inc." HERE) and the less common Darius John Granger ("Stop, You're Killing Me!" HERE).

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