Change of Tack

Paley found Director Oflake staring out her office window at the park and the sunshine beyond.

“Did you read that report?” he asked.

“Yes,” she sighed. “The first half claimed that the Alcubierre drive we are attempting to construct does not work, and the second half claimed that it will never work. At all. It’s impossible. I didn’t follow all the mathematics but the message was clear.”

“Yes,” said Paley. “Our spaceships cannot go faster than light, and never will.”

The Director rested her chin on clasped hands, closed her eyes and sighed again.

“I spent nine hundred billion on genetically-engineering super geniuses and pairing them with the world’s best artificial intelligence. When is that team going to take a crack at this?”

Paley shook his head. “Unfortunately they wrote the report. They are the ones saying it’s impossible.”

Oflake slammed a fist on the desk. Paley jumped. Then Oflake walked to the window and pressed her palms on the glass.

“This wonderful blue-green marble of a planet that we call home,” she said. “It’s actually a prison. All the science, all the art, all the wisdom, all the music, all the poetry, every life, every love and every death, it’s all been for nothing. Everything will just disappear when the sun explodes and takes Earth with it.”

Paley jumped again as Oflake suddenly screamed at the top of her lungs, banging the glass with her fists, causing a crack to snap across the window pane.

“I cannot believe the universe works like this!” she shouted. “I will not accept it!” She turned and stabbed a finger in Paley’s direction. “We start again,” she said. “Back to first principles, we check everything. Everything. Every last archive, every corner of science, everything. Someone, somewhere in history must have had an idea that we can use. Every avenue will be explored. Is that clear?”

“Yes Director,” Paley bowed. “But while we search for how to escape our prison… may I suggest something?”

“What?” she snapped.

“Well,” he said. “It’s a lovely day outside.”


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