FICTION: a short story about the real magic hidden in quantum physics
The twist that gets me here is that in the worlds where he is killed, as the copy-cat magicians are in his world, he then leaves behind a trail of broken hearts and bloody stages. At first, this seemed extremely selfish to me, to think of all the multiverses he's leaving with suicides on live television and loved ones without any answers—horrible stuff really. (This presumes a more well-loved protagonist)
Then it hit me; this story is really saying death is happening constantly anyways—that we are constantly perishing in front of the eyes of loved ones thanks to chance events, or cars that didn't stop—and causing all this grief in these split worlds, but the magician is the only one taking control of this truth and putting it to use. Now I can't decide what to make of his actions.
As others have said, thank you Erik, very thought-provoking indeed.
Jason Shiga’s “Meanwhile” is a fun and interesting play on similar themes, only instead of a device that kills the narrator, there’s a device that kills everyone else in the world. Also time travel. Also it’s a comic book. And a choose-your-own-adventure. Basically I highly recommend it if you enjoy this sort of world-bending story.
This is awesome dude. Reminds me, at least the teleportation part, of the prestige. Your novel, The Revelations, has just arrived via post. I am even more excited now to read it than before.
Great story! Loved it!
This is one of the best short stories I've read, thank you for sharing.
Very nicely done. Definitely did not expect the trajectory...
Have you by any chance read Quarantine by Greg Egan? He plays with similar ideas (very differently, though).
And who can say it isn't true? Honestly, terrifying.
Omg. Amazing. Fantastic. Brilliant. Can you tell I loved it?
I like the story, but it's unclear to me why the narrator allows anything bad to happen to him. There's no reason why he would want to remain in universes where tricks went wrong, where he had to kill the boy, where he got injured, etc.
Also, him being teleported inside the elephant is vanishingly unlikely, since that requires the teleportation of far more particles. There are of course universes where it happens, but in the vast majority it does not, and since it wasn't a condition of the suicide, there's no reason it should show up in the story. The story could of course be about the protagonist in one of those incredibly improbable universes, but it's not in keeping with the rest of the plot, where the amazing tricks are of his own design, not just randomly happening to him. It happening in this story is just as unlikely a human randomly teleporting in a story that's *not* about quantum suicide.
This is part of a larger issue that you touched on with the reanimation: Whatever conditions he sets for the suicide, he will nearly always find himself in a universe that satisfies the minimum possible condition; where the number of unlikely quantum occurrences is as low as possible. In practice this would look like tricks always being as unimpressive as possible, as long as they were above the threshold at which he'll kill himself.
This is fascinating, Erik. Wow. I couldn't help but think of Camus' The Stranger, the element of morality (or lack thereof), perception, meaning, life/death, etc. The story had such a strong voice and a great sense of tension. It kept pulling me forward. I kept needing to know what would happen next, and that is the mark of great storytelling. I also enjoyed the ironic, sardonic wit. You should publish more fiction on here. Good stuff.
"Sincere American Writing"
This was SO GOOD!
Whoah 😯 fucking excellent stuff
Never did buy into the Schroedinger cat thing, somehow. Such unnecessary complication of reality. Maybe I just don't understand enough. Or maybe I too blithely accept that we can't (ever) know everything...(and this is a good thing). (Yeah, I found the story repugnant.)
This is really fantastic. Well done!
This story is at the edge of my understanding; mind blowing! If I understand the story, the two commenters below and your responses; the thing that remains unexplained is the messy physicality of death. If death is not instantaneous, then what happens in the other universes that branch out st the moment of the gunshot? Its splitting hairs though; truly the best short story I've read in a very long time.