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A few years back, I read Richard Paolinelli’s novel Escaping Infinity, which I subsequently reviewed. I found out that although Richard hadn’t planned on writing a sequel, the novel’s fans kept pestering him about it. So he did, or rather, he will, in the forthcoming book “Expanding Infinity.”
However, in between this and that, he invited authors to write a series of short stories for an anthology he is calling Exploring Infinity. Technically, with a hotel blipping in and out of 5,000 years of human history, kidnapping people to repopulate a devastated Earth in the far future, there must be a lot of stories to tell. Pre-order it at Amazon.
For me, there was only one: “The Last Astronaut.” I mentioned this just a few days ago. It takes the events in Richard’s novel and does a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on the original material (a play first staged in 1966 which I first found out about through a Shakespeare-obsessed friend in the late 1970s).
My character Booker Robinson is the observer of the events in Richard’s novel, but by the end of the story, he becomes much more than that. In Richard’s introduction to my story, he says:
Like Lucca DeJardins, James Pyles also appeared in Planetary Mars. In fact, his short story in that volume, The Three Billion Year Love, earned an award for Best Short Story in the 2021 Helicon Awards.
So when James let me know he was putting together a story for this collection, I was eager to read it. And James does not disappoint in this story, The Last Astronaut.
He also opened the door for yours truly to help set the stage for the upcoming third book in the Infinity series.
I won’t lie. I thought there were some things “off” in Richard’s novel and I mentioned them in my short story (okay, it’s about 10,000 words long). I addressed them and monkeyed around with some of the events, which was why I was pretty convinced Richard would turn down my story. Astonishingly, he accepted it, but in introducing his own short story, he said:
I wrote Infinity’s Child in such a way to incorporate all of the accepted stories, tying them all together in this final act of this collection. The idea behind this story, or this conversation if you will, was that at some point did the ship itself become self-aware as it searched through the centuries for the population of New Earth?
What would it do with this newfound self-awareness? Would this new lifeform alter the trajectory of the Commander/Manager’s program? Would it “cheat” once it found the “one” it was designed to find to lead the humans of New Earth?
You’ve probably noticed that one or two aspects of the stories in this volume have not perfectly aligned with the original Escaping Infinity storyline. That’s okay. Because we are about to find out a little something about this universe we live in within our next story.
This isn’t the only universe.
Pretty much aligns with yesterday being “Skynet” self-awareness day.
Richard’s “Expanding Infinity” will appear in 2022, and the anthology “Exploring Infinity” should be coming your way not too long after Labor Day. Oh, here’s the table of contents. Worthy authors all:
5. A Time Apart by Aaron Van Treeck
33. The Unsolved Case of Mr. James Phillimore by Ann Margaret Lewis
55. Protector of the City by Dana Bell
83. A Teller of Tales by Sam Robb
139. Messis Quidem Multa by Frank B. Luke
177. Whatever Became of Ichabod Crane by Washington Irving and Lucca DeJardins
201. The Last Astronaut by James Pyles
247. Infinity’s Child by Richard Paolinelli