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Organised by RogerDodger
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Every World We Visit Is Dead
Interdimensional travel is bullshit. For every action ever taken in the entire lifespan of the universe, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Plus, an infinite number of sub-actions that are variations of the initial action and an infinite number of sub-reactions based on the initial reaction. Sound complicated? It is, and it makes navigating a pain, especially when the vast majority of alternative universes don’t have an Earth, let alone humans.

“Close the containment unit and open up the next rift. Try Universe 2305C,” I order my assistant, Jeremy, over the radio built into my hazard suit.

“Roger. Maybe this one will be the one? I mean we gotta find it eventually.” Jeremy’s trying to cheer me up, but there’s a sad resignation in his voice. We’ve been at this every day for three years now, and we haven’t even found a single lifeform yet.

As the blast doors shut behind me, I sigh and activate my recorder. “Log #2305C, hoping yet again to find some life on Earth. Even if it’s just bacteria. Just…” I let out an even longer exhale. “Something.”

“Opening the rift in T-minus 5, brace yourself Dr. Jacobs,” Jeremy states.

“Life support functions engaged and magneton boots locked, I’m ready,” I reply.

The tear between worlds always starts small as a tiny neon blue sparkle, slowing widening as it rips the space between dimensions asunder. Electrical discharge spews from the hole and is routed to the superconductors to avoid damaging the onboard computer built into my suit. The light glitters and grows in size, and I feel an all too familiar sensation: decompression of the air from the room.

That means probably no atmosphere.

I carefully wait for the air in the room to reach equilibrium before detaching my magnetron boot from the floor and taking my first step towards the portal. I meticulously make sure the power for the boot touching the floor is on to prevent me from being launched out of the room.

I detach the camera probe from the underside of my wrist and feed it through the rift. Always good to be cautious. Wouldn’t want to stick your head through and suddenly get hit by a passing asteroid or something.

The camera confirms my fears: there’s nothing but an airless crater on the other side. No signs of any civilization or previous life. Just a dead rock.

“Dimension 2305C’s Earth, like every other Earth we have found thus far, sports no signs of previous inhabitancy, zero atmosphere, and requires no further exploration.” I grimace, retracting the camera. “Close it up, Jeremy.”


The rift collapsed in on itself, the light fading as it slowly stitched together the gap between dimensions.

“Rift successfully closed. Opening blast doors now.” The airlock disengaged allowing for fresh air to reach the interior of the room.

What were we doing wrong? There had to be an easier way than just trial and error. As soon as I remove my helmet, the rift begins to reinitialize.

“Jeremy what the fuck are you doing?” I yell, putting my helmet back on.

Silence. He must have left the control room after disengaging the airlock. Shit.

A red prismatic portal gradually opens up in the room. What? Red? And no decompression.

Before I can ponder this further, another me emerges from the portal, wearing only his lab coat.

“Dr. Jacobs, I presume?” he says. “Nice suit. Retro!”

I sternly gaze at him behind my helmet’s visor.

“Whoa, silent treatment. Guess somebody never figured out how to pinpoint their location in the interdimensional matrix.” Every word drips with heavy condescension. He looks towards the portal as he says this. I hear several of my own laughs coming from the other side.

I struggle think of some retort, but nothing comes to me.

“Looks like we’re in the dimension where everyone is a mute, huh? I feel bad for this dimension’s Jeremy. Three years he’s been at this, and he’s still in the safety suit like he doesn’t know where he’s going. Here, buddy, take this.” He tosses me a data stick.

“What’s on it?” I ask.

“Oh, so this isn’t the mute dimension after all," he sneers sarcastically. "It’ll show you where you are on the dimensional matrix. Makes navigation easy as pie."

He laughs as he jumps back through the portal.

See you around, Dr. Jacobs #912,453D," he calls just before it closes.

I ball my hand into a fist, seething. Interdimensional travel is such bullshit.
« Prev   11   Next »
#1 ·
· · >>Cassius
“We have met us, and he is the frenemy.”
An amusing scene with bookends. I find the drama to be a little overplayed in the first half. But I do want to see more of why Dr. Jacobs is being so nasty to his other self. Do they have a history, somehow? Or perhaps they both just hate themselves so much that it’s natural for them to hate other instances of themselves? This might be fruitful to explore, given more room to work.
#2 ·
· · >>Cassius
Amusing premise, and I like the bookends. I didn't notice any grammatical issues, but the character motivation didn't quite sit right with me. The alternate him apparently knows where he's going, and presumably dropped by to help - at least that's all he does. But he does so rudely. Why go out of you way to help someone, if you don't seem to really want to?
#3 · 1
· · >>Cassius
(Previous notes)
Yeah, no, maybe? Solid mid-tier.

(Expanded version)
A big deus ex machina comes to resolve the narrator's motivation. And because it's heavily related to the story, it didn't feel cheap and, moreover, the last line links the disappointment of both the reader and the protagonist. Good one.
Unfortunately, this resolution definitely closes the story, and there is much to take from it.

So I'll just confirm my previous statement. This feels like a solid mid-tier.
#4 ·
· · >>AndrewRogue >>Cassius
Hm. The whole first portion of this is more or less filler where nothing happens. It's rather redundant, given that the title line explains the basic concept by itself, and feels especially odd in a format where most authors are desperately scrimping on their descriptions to save word count.

Once the other portal appears, we get some action, but... it's not really narrative action. The protagonist himself does nothing, and there's no arc. The doppelgänger is super rude for no apparent reason and with no followup, and that's all the character building we get.

Overall this feels like one of those entries that goes "I thought of a couple of scenes and ideas, but couldn't shape them into a story in time, oh well, here's 750, hat in the ring." No particular shame in that, there are several in every mini round. This won't go high in my votes, but completion without trainwrecking is a worthy goal unto itself. Thanks for writing!
#5 · 1
· · >>Foehn >>Cassius
This is a rarity, a comedy fic where I really like it compared to everyone else.

>>Ranmilia's post made me stop and think about why I consider this stronger than something like Roy's Diner (which I similarly stated had a mostly filler body), and the conclusion I came to was the following: the beginning of this story ties directly into the later punchline, in that the punchline is an inversion of the drama. That particular setup (which also plays a bit against type with how parallels are presented - I'm sure it isn't fully unique, but it is a pretty good take in this field and explores a logical area that isn't happening).

So yeah, I found it amusing.
#6 · 1
· · >>Cassius
I'm going to have to agree with >>AndrewRogue here; I enjoyed this one. Nice use of bookends. If not an original concept, then a solid execution thereof.

My largest issue here is how jarringly different the persona's counterparts' personalities are compared to his own sans-explanation; I suppose it's played for comedic effect vis-a-vis the bookends, so it's not entirely unjustified, but it feels a little off.

Nonetheless - a fun read. Cheers, author.
#7 ·
· · >>Cassius
Random observation:

I detach the camera probe from the underside of my wrist and feed it through the rift. Always good to be cautious. Wouldn’t want to stick your head through and suddenly get hit by a passing asteroid or something.

As I was reading, this paragraph really stuck out to me as a inane, pointless detail. It's not serving a comedic purpose or a thematic purpose, so I don't know why it's here. Others have mentioned that the fic feels like it has a lot of filler... lines like this, where you plainly describe the process of examining a universe (the mechanics of which aren't very interesting) don't help that problem.

Nice title, though.
#8 ·
· · >>Cassius
Hmm the concept is interesting but is not really exploited in depth. I mean you could've established a setup like the cartoon Whacky Races and all Dr Jacob's copies could be competing to find the right dimension in which the Earth is habitable and sustains life. Suddenly the snotty Jacobs appears and calls the other dumbass or something for not having thought about using the multiverse finder.

Here, the story is insubstantial, because we don't really know why the guy is looking for a habitable Earth. Also, weak hook.
#9 · 3
· · >>Ranmilia

So this is story's lack of success I think is a cautionary tale of putting all your eggs in one basket and hiding the basket in a place only >>AndrewRogue and >>Foehn could find. Or rather, if you're going to write a joke story, make sure the joke that makes the entire story function is visible.

So I hear you asking, Cassius, what is joke? Why would you write a story that's played 90% straight and try to tonally whiplash the entire mood in the last 100 words? Are you made of dumb?

So >>Dubs_Rewatcher and >>Ranmilia both mention that the story has a lot of "filler" where I painstakingly detail every minute step of Dr. Jacob's dimension travelling process. That is there for a reason, and it is not just there to waste your time, although wasting your time is part of the overall effect. It is to establish the tedium of the process, which is later undercut by the alt!Jacobs just jumping out the portal with the greatest of ease and berating him for being too stupid to figure out a better method to travel. It's basically the story of the Gordian Knot retold in sci-fi form, except you have an alternative you mocking you for being too stupid to just cut the damn knot and the added insult of knowing that you are the dumbest idiot version of you across the multiverse for not thinking of that to begin with. That was the joke. Please clap.

The overall intention of the story was to take the piss out of "hard" science fiction, which always seems to focus on these excessive details of how something functions rather than just have it function. Dimensional travel would in any practical sense be a lot more like examining into a billion empty vacuums from afar to make sure it doesn't kill you, but that is fucking boring.

protip don't have contempt for the conventions of the genre you're writing in


Why is Jacobs so rude to himself? Basically because the alt!Jacobs recognizes that prime!Jacob is a hack failure and being so terrible at his job that he had to actually intervene to find him, rather than him just discover how to travel on his own. He's not helping him to be nice, he's helping him to be patronizing.

As always, thanks everyone for commenting.