Inconstant Moon is a science fiction short story collection by American author Larry Niven that was published in The title refers to "O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon", a quote from the balcony scene in William Shakespeare 's Romeo and Juliet. The Sphere paperback version of the collection only contained seven of the twelve stories originally included in the Gollancz hardback edition. First appearance: short story collection All the Myriad Ways.
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Inconstant Moon is a science fiction short story collection by American author Larry Niven that was published in The title refers to "O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon", a quote from the balcony scene in William Shakespeare 's Romeo and Juliet.
The Sphere paperback version of the collection only contained seven of the twelve stories originally included in the Gollancz hardback edition. First appearance: short story collection All the Myriad Ways. The short story won the Hugo Award for best short story. Stan, the narrator, notices that the Moon is glowing much brighter than ever before.
The people he meets as the story begins all praise the Moon's increased beauty but lack the scientific background to understand its cause. However the narrator surmises that the Sun has gone nova , the day side of the Earth is already destroyed, and this is the last night of his life. He then calls and visits his girlfriend Leslie, presuming her ignorant of the situation, but she realizes it independently when Jupiter brightens with appropriate delay; they then enjoy their last night on the town, before rain and winds start.
Later, he realizes one other possibility. In case he is right, they find appropriate supplies and seek refuge from the coming natural disasters in Leslie's high-rise apartment.
The second possibility turns out to be correct: the Earth has "merely" been struck by an enormous solar flare —by far the worst disaster in human history, with most if not all people in the Eastern Hemisphere presumed dead, but humans in the Americas have a chance of surviving the cataclysm.
The vaporized seawater leads to torrential rains, hurricanes and floods. The story ends at the break of an overcast, gray morning, with Leslie's apartment becoming an island among the raging flood waters, but with the narrator rather optimistically wondering "if our children would colonize Europe, or Asia, or Africa.
In , the story was made into an episode of The Outer Limits television series written by Brad Wright. A prototype faster-than-light spacecraft crewed by two men is sent to the Sirius system, known from robotic exploration to include an earthlike world. In orbit around the world, they notice that one of the continents has a thin, strange border all the way round its coastline, which radiates a low heat and appears black in visible light.
After exploring the edges of the smaller continents, and discovering that the ocean hosts only one lifeform—a single species of algae that they think might have been genetically engineered —they decide to explore the large continent with the border.
When they discover just what the black border is—a seething mass of trapped humans with very dark skin, feeding off the algae and each other—the result is the death, by suicide, of one of the crew, and the self-destruction of the ship by the traumatized survivor upon his return to Earth—and a chilling reminder that there may be great danger waiting for further human explorers.
The story ends on a hopeful note, with the project leader believing that Earth can help the humans at Sirius, and a fearful one, with the crewman then speculating that the humans were seeded by carnivorous aliens as food animals. I was playing with some preliminary ideas, and one of these — the "Blind Spot" effect of this form of faster-than-light travel — was later incorporated into Known Space. But it's a different timeline entirely. Similar statements hold for " One Face " Hair styles and human colony worlds from this story later entered Known Space; but the story does not belong to that universe.
First appearance: Galaxy Science Fiction , October The man team setting up the first base on Mars experience tragedy when a murder is committed. Carter, the murderer, in the process of escaping on one of the transportation buggies crashes through the plastic bubble which holds in the base's atmosphere in an attempt to kill everyone else; however, it fails, and he is soon chased by Alf, the brother of the victim on another buggy.
The lethal chase, with the two combatants in constant radio communication, slowly reveals the community stresses which resulted in the murder. Alf wants to kill Carter in revenge for his brother, while Carter wishes the same and to try once more to destroy the base This story appeared originally on Galaxy Science Fiction , in December A sequel to "How the Heroes Die".
Muller, a smuggler with a cargo of precious magnetic monopoles , attempts to use Mars the 'hole' of the title; to spacers, planets are merely gravity wells to be avoided if possible as a means to whip his ship to a new orbit that will enable him to escape the customs authorities who are chasing him.
His plan fails, and he crashlands, close to the now-abandoned base. Over the next few days, he explores the ruins and finds out the terrible story of what happened. Unfortunately, he himself suffers the same fate as the original colonists—all of which he commits to his log, which is later recovered.
Niven's use of the term " gravity well " in the story is the third use of the phrase in science fiction recorded by Oxford English Dictionary researchers. The two Mars stories do belong to " Known Space " and they are specifically referred to and to some degree influence the plot of Protector , which takes place a long time later. Also, the failure of Mars colonization as depicted here contributes to the generally held opinion in that future history that planets at least in the Solar System are virtually worthless and it is asteroids which are the truly desirable real property.
First appearance: Galaxy Science Fiction , June During a routine hyperspace jump, an accident involving a small meteoroid striking into the machinery causes the ship to be trapped in a stasis until billions of years have passed. They emerge in the Solar System 's far future, at which time the sun has become a greenish- white dwarf and Earth has lost its atmosphere and become a tidally locked world; i. The ship's main computer has also been damaged, so its decision to have the captain replaced by one of the passengers to maximize survival causes disagreement.
The damage to the ship prevents it traveling faster than light , and the passengers and crew debate using the ship's remaining sub-light engine to travel relativistically to a neighboring star to look for a more viable planet. Reluctantly, believing that any other similarly senescent star will offer no better option, the people accede to the new captain's order to land on Earth despite the lack of an atmosphere. However, this is not a haphazard decision by the new captain, who is an astrophysicist.
He is convinced that there is a remnant atmosphere frozen on the dark side, and uses the ship's drive to begin to re-spin Earth. The drive really is powerful enough to achieve this within a reasonable timescale, if only the planet's crust can withstand the seismic stresses without catastrophic earthquakes. This will, he hopes, convert this frozen gas back to a breathable atmosphere. A ship with a two-man crew—Howie, a normal human, and Eric, the disembodied brain of a seriously injured man who has been installed in the ship to serve as a living computer and control system—is exploring the upper atmosphere of Venus , using the empty fuel-tank as a dirigible device.
About to return to Earth, Eric reveals that something is wrong with the ramjet that propels the craft, necessitating a landing in order to fix the problem. When Howie can find nothing physically wrong with the system, he can only conclude that, disturbingly, the problem is with Eric.
He believes Eric has a psychosomatic disorder preventing him from operating the ramjets, using the analogy of a traumatized soldier that can no longer feel his hand and pull the trigger of a gun. After revealing his theory to Eric, Eric admits it is a possibility but insists that Howie keep inspecting the ship, reasoning that Howie is the only one that can check for mechanical problems.
Howie agrees, but secretly has convinced himself that the problem is truly with Eric. In an effort to cure Eric using a placebo , Howie creates buckets of ice-water using the ship's freezer, and dumps it into the wiring panels on the wings, telling Eric that the heat and pressure of Venus might be affecting the ship's function.
Eric regains the use of the ramjets and the pair manage to escape from Venus and back to Earth. On the trip back, Howie reveals his ruse to Eric. Howie accepts the bet. Back on Earth, the mechanics determine that, indeed, it was a mechanical problem due to the pressure of Venus's atmosphere. A Known Space story, first of "Gil the Arm" line. Asteroid miner Owen Jennison is found dead in an apartment on Earth, apparently of suicide: He was a wirehead , directly stimulating the pleasure center of the brain, and starved.
His investigations lead him to people associated with organlegging — the illicit handling and sale of spare body-parts. Eventually, Gil is captured by the organlegging gang, until, under threat of being harvested alive for his organs, his "third arm" - a psychologically limited form of psychokinesis — allows him to kill his captor in spite of being completely bound.
The title, a play on the tradition of murder mysteries , is a reference to the story's investigators speculating about the experience of being electrocuted through the pleasure centre of the brain:. Had his death been momentary Hell, or all the delights of paradise in one singing jolt? Hell, I hoped, but I didn't believe it. It is one of a group of Known Space stories in which Niven speculates on the effect on human culture of simple universal organ transplants:.
Every voter had a bit of the organlegger in him. In voting the death penalty for so many crimes, the lawmakers had only bent to pressure from the voters.
There was a spreading lack of respect for life, the evil side of transplant technology. Part of The Magic Goes Away "mana" series.
First Appearance: Galaxy Magazine , September From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Dewey Decimal. Main article: Death by Ecstasy. Retrieved Archived from the original on March 28, Galaxy Science Fiction. Retrieved August 26, Hugo Award for Best Short Story — Dickson " "Repent, Harlequin! Martin Complete list Retro — — — —present. Bibliography by Larry Niven. Niven's laws " Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex ". Collections by Niven or others With Edward M. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history.
‘Arrival’ Producer to Develop ‘Inconstant Moon’ Sci-Fi Movie for Fox
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Science Fiction Friday: “Inconstant Moon” by Larry Niven – Bring On that Nova Weather
What are you going to do with it? Despite the late hour, almost midnight, he calls Leslie, a quasi-girlfriend with benefits. The lovers make love and then head out into the night for decadent desserts and drinks to shut down the bars. However, a lack of aurora and subsequent shockwave has them daring to hope that their half of the planet might actually pull through the arising tempests and apocalypse. This story is illustrated by artist contest winner Bernardo Mota.
I was watching the news when the change came, like a flicker of motion at the corner of my eye. I turned toward the balcony window. Whatever it was, I was too late to catch it. When the first commercials came on I got up to reheat some coffee. Commercials came in strings of three and four, going on midnight. The moonlight caught me coming back. If it had been bright before, it was brighter now.
It first appeared in a short-story collection, All the Myriad Ways. Inconstant Moon is also the title of a short story collection published in One late night in California, Stan notices the moon shining unusually bright. It continues to grow brighter until it is bright enough to leave an afterimage in his eyes.