It was an old book that had a series of short sci-fi stories in it. I read it in 2005 before it was removed from my high school library’s catalogue, so I think it was pretty old then. While I don't remember the name of the book, or the author, I do remember several of the stories within it.

One was about a murder committed in one area, but the culprit was hundreds of miles away. He used a teleporter to travel to his victim, kill her, then travel back, all within minutes. The end of the story talks about how this new technology has made crime impossible to prove, since alibis mean nothing now.

Another was about the future of corporate servitude in the future, where these companies literally raise you and become your family. It was about a couple, each from a rival company. The man eventually breaks free of the compelling indoctrination, but his wife (or girlfriend or fiancée, I can't remember exactly) kills him out of loyalty to the company she works for.

Finally, the last story I can remember is about uncontrolled technology escaping. In a lab, scientists create either tiny purple men, or intelligent purple bacteria. All that matter is that they're very small, and each generation becomes smaller by half. Eventually, they become so small they can manipulate subatomic matter. When the scientists try to kill them, they grow resistant and hostile, killing several of the scientists who used to be their friends. In the end, they impersonate the last scientist's wife and kill her, before taking over the planet in a "grey goo" scenario, where their intelligence is a single person, alone on a planet of itself, lamenting the isolation of its actions.

The only other thing that I can remember about the book was that it also had illustrations and pictures between and of the stories, including images of fractals, the golden ratio, and other small mathematical designs.

If anyone has even a clue about this book, please let me know, because this mystery has been bugging me for years now.

  • It almost sounds like Theodore Sturgeon or Philip K. Dick kind of stories, but not quite. Especially because I don't remember those kinds of illustrations in any of their collections. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 10:59
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    The first story is by Larry Niven; I'm sure I read it, but I don't remember the title or what anthology it was in. The things are called displacement booths in his universe.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 11:57
  • 3
    @MrLister The Alibi Machine by Larry Niven
    – Delameko
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 12:45
  • @Delameko That isn't the story I was thinking of. But I found another one just like it, which also isn't the one I was thinking of. A Kind of Murder. Apparently, he was on a writing spree at the time.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:27
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    @ImaginaryEvents: That description does not fit either version of Blood Music.
    – Beta
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 18:57

3 Answers 3


According to the ISFDB, both "A Kind of Murder" by Larry Niven and "Blood Music" by Greg Bear were in the 1997 UK anthology Cyber-Killers, edited by Ric Alexander. So I think that's probably the one you're looking for, although I can't identify the third story you remember.

  • 8
    I'm afraid 1997 was 17 years ago, and if the OP is a university student now then he or she was about three years old. I know, it feels like just yesterday to me, too.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 17:56
  • 1
    I read it as a freshman in Norwalk High School in Iowa; it was an old boom that they were removing from the catalogue to make room for newer materials. This was sometime around 2005, so I think the book was more than eight years old if they were getting rid of it from the library. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 22:15
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    @MikeScott: thanks to the fact that books don’t spontaneously combust within the year they’re published, the OP could have read it after 1997. Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 9:26

I don't know if this is the one you're thinking of (I suspect not, actually), but the last story and the description of the pictures between chapters remind me somewhat of Clifford Pickover's book 'Mazes for the Mind'.

It wasn't a short story collection; it was an eclectic jumble of musings about mathematics that ran all over the place. However, between chapters and 'interludes', there often were several various images, ranging from fractal patterns to scenes looking like they were copied from a medieval depiction of Dante's Inferno.

One of the later chapters is a story of sorts; it deals with 'Oos', tiny little creatures developed by a scientist and kept (originally) in a petri dish. The first pair of Oos are described as being thumbnail-sized, but due to the space constraints of the petri dish, each generation got successively smaller. (Not by a 50%/per generation rate, but smaller). They started off green, but turned purple when the scientist working with them dumped a pile of horseradish in the dish out of boredom. Dr. Mutcer, the scientist in question, does try several times to kill them, always unsuccessfully.

The Oos eventually did grow small enough to cross the subatomic threshold, at which point the subatomic variant managed to travel outside the petri dish. Shortly thereafter, they took over Dr. Mutcer's apartment, eventually filling it to capacity as well. While the Oos never impersonate Dr. Mutcer's wife, they do end up impersonating not one, but two separate girlfriends. (It's implied the 'real' woman never existed in either case.)

In the end, the Oos did go full-out attack and take over the world. The attack itself wasn't gray goo, but the end result is described as being such, with a single unified Oos-being left sitting and looking up into the stars.

The problem with this answer, of course, is twofold: 1)As I mentioned above, the book isn't a short story collection, and 2)Nothing even remotely resembling the other two stories was present in it as far as I can recall. Still, I'm hoping this might give you a few more clues to further your search.

  • It's possible that the asker has mixed up two or more books and remembered them as a single book.
    – MJ713
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 16:08

Another was about the future of corporate servitude in the future, where these companies literally raise you and become your family. It was about a couple, each from a rival company. The man eventually breaks free of the compelling indoctrination, but his wife (or girlfriend or fiancée, I can't remember exactly) kills him out of loyalty to the company she works for.

This is a story by John Shirley called The Incorporated - It's collected in an anthology called FutureCrime: An Anthology of the Shape of Crime to Come which includes Niven's A Kind of Murder (The teleporting killer story).

The Incorporated is available at the Internet Archive. Here are some relevant quotes:

Corporate loyalty over all other loyalty:

Broken homes made broken homes made broken homes. The big corporations, meanwhile, consumed the little ones, and, becoming then unmanageably big, looked for ways to stabilize themselves. They chose the proven success of the Japanese system: the corporation as an extension of the family. You inculcate your workers with a fanatic sense of loyalty and belonging. You personalize everything. And they go along with that or they lose their jobs.

So now jobs were precious. Jobs were life. So you embraced the new Corporation as home and family system. The breakdown of the tradi- tional family structures reinforced the process. And you put your em- ployer above your true family. You let its agents in to destroy your husband’s new career. . .

Husband and wife work for different corporation (close - he's freelance)

"Are you accusing me of something?” She said it with her icy Vassar incredulousness then, like: I can’t believe anyone could be so painfully unsophisticated.

"I’m accusing Worldtalk. You’re theirs. They do as they like with you. If Worldtalk says it’s not productive to have kids, if Worldtalk says it’s not teamplaying to have kids, you don’t have kids. Even when their disapproval is unnecessary: You wouldn’t have had to quit your job — I can understand you wanting to have a career. We could have had the kid in a hired womb or an artificial womb. I would’ve taken care of it during the day. If Worldtalk says listen for Usefuls, you listen. Even at home. They don’t want employees, at Worldtalk, they want to own you."

Wife sent by rival company to kill husband

Kessler stared at her. Her eyes flickered, her mouth opened, and shut, and she shook her head. She looked drained.

And Kessler knew.

"They sent you. They told you where to find me,” he said.

"They — want the money back,” she said. "They want you to come with me.”

He shook his head. "Don’t you get sick of being puppeted?”

She looked at the window. Her face was blank. "You don’t understand.”

"Do you know why they do it, why they train you in that Americanized Japanese job conditioning stuff? To save themselves money. Because it eliminates unions.”

"They have their reasons, sure. Mostly efficiency.”

"I know. What’s the slogan? 'Efficiency is friendship.’ ”

She looked embarrassed. "That’s not — ” She shrugged. "A Corporate Family is just as valid as any other. It’s something you couldn’t under- stand. I — I’ll lose my job, Jimmy. If you don’t come.” She said lose my job the way Kessler would have said, lose my life.

The story fits into Shirley's Song Called Youth series, by the way

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