"Fountain of Force"

by Grant Carrington and George Zebrowski

First publication:
    INFINITY FOUR, edited by Robert Hoskins. Lancer Books 75387-095. 95 cents. 1972.

Subsequent publications:
    BLACK HOLES, edited by Jerry Pournelle. Fawcett Crest 2-3962-4. $1.95. 1978.
    BLACK HOLES, edited by Jerry Pournelle. Orbit Books 0 7088 8014 2. U.K. 95p. Australia $2.95. New Zealand $2.90. 1978.

    I wrote the first draft of this story at the 1968 Clarion SF&F Writers Workshop. It was inspired by an article by Kip Thorne on black holes in a recent issue of Scientific American. George Zebrowski was at that same workshop and several years later said he'd like to collaborate with me on a rewrite if I hadn't already sold it.

    Bob Hoskins' introduction: Can there ever be an end to the universe--an end to time itself?

    Jerry Pournelle's introduction: A number of stories on this theme have appeared; this is one of the earliest, and still one of the best. Grant Carrington and George Zebrowski are not generally thought of as 'hard science' writers, but they can do science when they try; as witness this.

    Fleming Mayhew visualized a universe peppered with rat holes. Matter was disappearing from Einstein's universe, streaming through holes punched into space by stars undergoing gravitational collapse, returning to normal space seconds, hours, or days later in time-- sometimes between the island universes, sometimes popping back into the same galaxy only megaparsecs away. It was a universe peppered with rat holes. Humanity's starships traversed these spatial relics of gravitational collapse, charting regular points of entry and re-entry in space-time's elastic fabric, finding new wormways to maintain a reasonably useful galaxy-wide system.
    Sita Rahman took readings from the microelectrodes implanted in Fleming Mayhew's shaved scalp. She stopped speaking and carefully turned a dial on the instrument console. "What does that feel like?" she asked.
    "Like you're tickling a pleasure center with strawberry-flavored spaghetti." He looked up at her. She was a short woman with closely-cropped black hair and large brown eyes, and she never looked into his eyes when she was working.

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