The short story I'm looking for (which I think I read in an anthology about 10-20 years ago) involves roughly the following plot:

Humanity has found the means to travel between dimensions (or something analogous) but the only means to do this is to transmit one's consciousness to the next dimension where it is incarnated into a new body which is created there for it. The old body ceases legally to be that person and is destroyed.

An investigator is sent to a dimension a considerably distant from the home plane to investigate the status of research into the remains of an extinct civilisation which has been found there. For some reason this investigator takes the form of a tiger upon arrival.

His investigation reveals that one of the scientists was concerned that the activation of the machinery left by this ancient race could somehow cause a great disaster, perhaps the destruction of the entire multiverse, and wished to prevent this from happening. He was killed by the other scientist, but not before he could transmit a warning. This warning was received by susceptible minds throughout human history causing them to write stories rather like The Tempest, but couched in terms that they can understand (i.e. islands or planets rather than extra dimensions). Thus this, Forbidden Planet, and other fictional examples mentioned in the story are manifestations of the same idea transmitted back in time.

...this is probably a very rough recollection of some of the points but with luck it may prompt someone who recalls the name and author of the story.

1 Answer 1


I'm nearly certain that that this is Alastair Reynold's "Tiger, Burning".

Alas my copy (in Year's Best SF 12) is lost somewhere just now, so the best I can do for a reference is a quote from a review of Mr.Reynolds's collection Deep Navigation where the story also appears:

“Tiger, Burning” is a mystery involving the leak of information from a faraway parallel universe in which advanced aliens, long since gone, have left behind mysterious machinery. Adam Fernando, officer from the Office of Scrutiny, is sent to investigate, a process that involves his memories being decanted into a human-sized cat in that particular brane (the way one travels between them). He questions Dr. Meranda Austvro, the sole researcher of the alien artifacts. As mysteries go, Reynolds has concocted a decent one — especially since it involves some cool world building around the structure of the branes, traveling between them, and the alien technology.

The story first appeared in Forbidden Planets in 2006.

  • Thanks, I'm pretty certain that that's the one. The Best SF anthology you mention sounds familiar, too, but I will see if I can get hold of Deep Navigation.
    – knirirr
    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:41
  • The title, of course, is a Blake reference. Mar 13, 2017 at 12:27

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