7

I remember them being part of an archive, a collection of short stories. Incredibly vague, I know, but I have some information that would be sure to make someone remember if they too have read some of these stories.

The first story had the following basic plot: Essentially, in order to go faster than light mankind had to send out ships to make stargates, and over millions of years the humans on board are dwindling to ever lower numbers, whether due to suicide, depression, madness or simply not wanting to wake up from cryo-sleep. This leaves our narrator of the story, talking about how he is woken up from time to time to work on the ship and basically make sure it is functioning. He tells of strange happenings, and how most human beings in existence look nothing like him at this point (he being an "original", so to speak, an unevolved human-being), and has found himself disgusted with what he sometimes sees out there.

At one point there is a woman who looks exactly like what one might think a human would look like, one with magical powers and such who happened to stick around long enough for the man to actually notice when she went missing one day in the massive bowels of the ship (it's never disclosed, I think, what happened to her). Eventually as the short-story begins to finish up, the narrator mentions and laments the fact that nobody really human or human-derived has actually made contact with the ship, and the closing line is something along the lines of "Why have you forsaken us?"

The second story: A man embarks in a single-crew ship to undergo the trial of an FTL device, and fortunately it works. The bad news is that he lands on an alien planet, and finds an incredibly evolved creature that does a truly terrible thing to the human and degenerates the man mentally into that of an animal. The story is from the perspective of the human animal in trying to get "revenge" on having something (though said human animal is not sure what) from it. It ends with the human astronaut indeed getting his revenge and making his way back home, only for all of his friends and coworkers seeing him and becoming terrified of what terrible changes they see in the main character's eyes.

Unfortunately I cannot give any concrete details in regards to when I saw it, other than that it was around a decade ago and that all were original stories (further unsure if they were ever actually published, but I do know they were not some small story in a greater novel.)

4

The second story is In The Bone by Gordon Dickson. An astronaut in a super-duper high tech spaceship that is half warship is arrogantly exploring space. He runs across a planet with a dome-shaped base. He treats it contemptuously, but has the rude surprise of discovering the alien inhabitant has such high technology that the astronaut's ship is comparatively speaking a birch-bark canoe.

The alien neutralizes the super-duper high tech spaceship, copies all the data out of the ship's memory banks, peels the astronaut out of the ship, plops him into the wilderness stark naked, and tells him "Live, beast" (meaning go live like the primitive animal you obviously are).

The astronaut reverts into a sort of animal/cave-man mentality out of psychological shock. Gradually he figures out how to survive in the wilderness. But he retains a hatred of the alien in its base.

As the astronaut slowly recovers he studies the alien base, and eventually figures out how to evade the defensive force field. In a climactic battle, he confronts and kills the alien in hand-to-hand combat.

After months of study he figures out how to use the alien technology, and calls for help.

His co-workers eagerly greet him as he arrives back home, but are taken aback at the savage look in his eyes.

If you look at the link, it lists all the collections this story was in. That might help you discover the identity of the first story in your question.

4

The first story seems likely to be Peter Watts' "Freeze Frame Revolution", or possibly a short story by the author with a similar plot, "The Island", available to read online here at rifters.com.

The part that sounds most familiar is your description of an original-style human building hyperspace terminals for a species that is increasingly divergent in its evolution:

"We are the cave men. We are the Ancients, the Progenitors, the blue-collar steel monkeys. We spin your webs and build your magic gateways, thread each needle's eye at sixty thousand kilometers a second. We never stop. We never even dare to slow down, lest the light of your coming turn us to plasma. All for you. All so you can step from star to star without dirtying your feet in these endless, empty wastes between.
Is it really too much to ask, that you might talk to us now and then?
I know about evolution and engineering. I know how much you've changed. I've seen these portals give birth to gods and demons and things we can't begin to comprehend, things I can't believe were ever human; alien hitchikers, maybe, riding the rails we've left behind. Alien conquerers.
Exterminators, perhaps."

  • That is exactly it for the second, and the archive as well, thank you so much! – R.Doe Aug 4 '18 at 11:57
  • Unfortunately it's been so long ago that I had reason to believe that it may be the case, but now that I see it, I believe they were not actually part of the same archive. I think what actually happened is that my source for finding both of these stories was from the same place, but not in the archive. – R.Doe Aug 6 '18 at 7:41

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