The winners were chosen by a jury of 15 leading architects, designers and technologists, including Chris Hadfield, Eduardo Tresoldi, David Benjamin, Chris Precht, and Sabrina Thompson. Astronaut Chris Hadfield on the competition results: 


“It is only through our imaginations that we can create change. The fanciful science fiction of the future becomes the accepted reality of today, and thus the bedrock of history upon which we stand. Congratulations to all the creative contributors, you expanded our minds!”


The jury selected three prize winners and 12 honorable mentions:


First Place goes to Charisse Foo for “The Monument to the Labors.”  Charisse graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and is a CGI designer in New York City. The proposal explores an extensive network of half-finished and abandoned space structures being revitalized by incarcerated laborers.


“Narrated dispassionately, ‘The Monument to the Labors’ imagines a future that has already been translated into history. In this recasting of the pioneer narrative, the first settlers of space are not merely brave explorers but also condemned convicts. Centering around alienation and the implications of denying humanity to the other, the story simultaneously charts the lifespan of a building: a satellite, prison, laboratory, factory, town, tomb, billboard, attraction, and symbol. These two narratives tie the privilege of dreaming to the costs of experimentation. The utopian possibilities of outer space, the great unknown, are not only the fantasies of the privileged, but also the desperate hope of the marginalized.”

-Charisse Foo


Second Prize goes to Alberto Carbonell Crespí, a young architect from Alicante, Spain, for his story “Memories of Dandelion.” The story proposes a method of terraforming Mars with gigantic sparkling balloons filled with water, air and seeds to germinate the barren surface, and the first steps that humans take onto the surface without space suits.


“‘Memories of Dandelion’ focuses on the liminal moment of someone “living in standby,” suspended in the vacuum. The overwhelming effect of outer space into our little conception of time and, ultimately, how the providence can drive us to an unexpected beginning.”

-Alberto Carbonell Crespí


Third Prize goes to Virtual Construction Lab of Schüco for “Planctae,” The Virtual Construction Lab of Schüco is a multi-disciplinary office based in New York City, specializing in the design and visualization of complex facade systems. “Planctae” envisions a network of deep space travelers creating a decentralized network of quantum relays — studying outer space and leaving the smallest footprint possible.


Planctae’ is inspired by the inherent virtues of the human spirit and the technological potential of virtual connectivity, centering its architectural tectonics around the needs of an augmented astronaut on a one-way mission into deep space. While advanced AI handles involuntary ship duties, the pilot interprets collected data through scientific and artistic means, virtually sharing their findings with others despite the vast distances between ships. Virtual immersion can never fully replace physical proximity, exacting a toll even on specially trained pilots over time, but the pursuit of discovery over colonization lends them a heroic optimism and keeps them tethered to the Earth as they venture out to new horizons.”

-Virtual Construction Lab of Schüco


The Jury awarded 12 honorable mentions to: Eric & Eva de Broche des Combes,  Ioanna Sotiriou, Original Elephant, Korina Filoxenidou and Mariza Tsakona, Madina Zhazylbekova, FLUX.REAL, Alexander Mills and Danielle Fountain, Linus Cheng, Kat Choate and Stephen Smolko II, Nicholas Houser and Gabriel Esquivel, Dana Salama, Zhuoneng Wang and Wai Ching Cheng.

1st Prize


By Charisse Foo

They were no longer human, so what rights could they expect to have?


It was a matter of life and death. It was a matter of time. It was a matter, so to speak, of space.


Future historians would frame it differently, speaking of heroism, sacrifice, and nobility. It would take another century before the Monument to the Labors would be proposed, and another half century before it would be finally completed and unveiled, signaling a new unification in the writing of Galactic history. For what more permanent way of writing was there than building in the heavens, among the stars? Etched in the monumental permanence of basalt-fiber-reinforced regolith concrete, outlined with titanium alloy, the Monument did not recognize the unnamed laborers, but instead magnified their Twelve Herculean Labors. A young doctoral student, in a moment of low-g headiness, had seen in the almost-forgotten Greek hero something that was neither god nor human: an alien, reaching towards immortality. Proof of heroism and penance for wrongdoing were two sides of the same coin. It was unlikely that the Committee for the Construction of Galactic Infrastructure appreciated all this; they had simply approved the project’s high Predicted Cultural Value rating for a low Total Construction Cost. The numbers spoke for themselves.


It had been the numbers that had led to the creation of The Labors, then called Bases 1-12 for the Advancement of Astronautic Science and Knowledge (BAASK). After the 2100 Century Launch Disaster, outer space had lost its glamor. SpaceTrak and SpaceTransit were now in deep recession, and the towering empty bulk of the space elevator terminals spelled the end of their golden age. Humanity retreated, and the undiscovered country of outer space fell to those who had nothing but their lives to lose: the convicts.


The concept was simple: a reduced sentence for service to humanity. Ghost cities existed in space, robotically built, half-complete. The space bubble had burst, and the Laborers were tasked with piecing the remnants together to save their own lives: they were to build their own space in the universe. BAASK needed construction, mining, terraforming, maintenance, farming, manufacturing – the hard labor of colonization, reliant on half-tested life-support systems. Yet the BAASK campaign emphasized the gathering of experimental data based on humans living in space. Bask in weightlessness. Bask in the light of the stars. Bask in endlessly open space. In the closed prison environments where BAASK advertisements were concentrated, they had an explosive effect. The population of the incarcerated had grown steadily; living conditions inside were at an all-time low. To all involved, BAASK was a way out. Escape. Each inmate served half their time in space, for a minimum of five years; after the completion of their sentences, they would be offered the status of Galactic citizens. A place among the stars. Applications poured in and were just as rapidly approved; within weeks, tens of thousands were shipped into space. Upon leaving the Earth, however, all Laborers lost their Earth citizenship, rights, and privileges: for all intents and purposes, until the successful completion of their BAASK term, they were aliens.


Owing to tight media control over the BAASK project, the Laborers were silent. No statements were ever issued, or interviews granted. An estimated one million Laborers left Earth for the Bases from 2110 to 2145. No one returned.


The Monument was, in fact, an abandoned space city that had originated as Base Seven. The oldest surviving Base, Base Seven was the property of ex-convict space tycoon Madelyn Rose, a legendary Laborer who first entered it as a prisoner in 2112. A short cylinder with a central weightless column, Base Seven was a satellite city in low earth orbit, designed to achieve 1g pseudo-gravity for long-term settlement. Designed to house 10,000, it had supported a population of 30,000 in its last days. Legend had it that Rose herself was buried in the center, making the entire structure the largest tomb known to mankind. The rumor had been systematically disproved by the authorities, but it persisted, and undoubtedly contributed to the high Predicted Cultural Value rating the Monument received, enabling its rapid approval.

Critics alternately lauded and lampooned the Monument for being an unabashed successor to passé-21st-century-glass-box-architecture. Put a glass box around it. Float the glass box. The building is a lantern! The Monument was all these things, and the controversy added to its high Predicted Cultural Value rating. It was a glass sphere encasing the ruins of a city, orbiting the Earth. Powered by a nuclear fusion core, it was a star in the night sky. It was an impossibly large feat of engineering and material science, clad with metallic glass with unheard-of structural strength and held together by graphene composite fibers. A marvel of art and science. A monument to the past, a prototype for the future. Construction was sponsored by the two leading space manufacturing companies, one of which was owned by Rose’s estate. It was the largest billboard in the world.


When Madelyn Rose arrived in 2112, Base Seven had been pristine, virgin territory, half constructed by machines that now stood silent, waiting. Upon remote activation from Earth, the Base started spinning, but – who knew if it was a mistake or malice – at a pseudo-gravity of 5g instead of 1g. The Laborers were thrown into a panic as their bodies strained to obey them. Bodies fell; bones broke at whim. Fear, anger, and despair raged. Within a week, half the Laborers were dead. The data was sent to Earth. In the chaos, Rose had been one of five Laborers who had made the excruciating journey up to the central axis of the base, a weightless column, where they had jammed the engines so that the Base stopped spinning. Below them, bodies that had been bent double now swam in the air like babies, wide-eyed, frightened and excited. As backup power kicked in, robotic construction crews whirred into life, deploying themselves to 3D-printing habitats in the first suitable site encountered. The Laborers clumsily hauled supplies in their new weightless world, watching in awe as a robotically-constructed jungle grew up around them. Foundations were anchored to all surfaces and houses sprouted, layer by layer, from them. A new universe was born.


Rose herself rose in power and prestige, falling in love – or was it an alliance? – with Terry Samuels, the leader of neighboring Base Two. On her first day of free Galactic citizenship, she married Samuels and bought over the sky – the perfectly reflective central column of Base Seven, where she had once sabotaged the engines. It was the only private space in the panopticon Base, with one-way mirrored walls that showed the entire city surrounding her. She had built her empire, and here it revolved around her.


For half a century, under Rose’s ownership, Base Seven became the center of the thriving space manufacturing industry, overtaking the market for fiber optic cables, and pioneering the construction of liquid metal, a metallic glass alloy that quickly became a staple for space construction. As BAASK faded into history, Base Seven came to house 30,000 factory workers, doubling in on itself with the construction of mezzanines, nested cylinders inside the main volume. Workers would refer to The Day the Sky Fell, when a new sky would appear above their heads, much nearer than before. The skies themselves were LED screens displaying images of Earth’s skies, one of many worker welfare measures. The Base eventually consisted of five nested cylinders, the outermost ring rotating at 1g. Weightlessness would not suit the newcomers from Earth. After a near-fatal fall in the 1g ring, Rose herself never left the innermost weightless column, saying her body had become alien. A crushing defeat, or crowning victory? No one dared ask.


Five years later, Rose moved operations to one of many newly-constructed satellites. Base Seven, in its malfunctioning obsolescence, was methodically stripped, sealed, and left empty to orbit the Earth: the cheapest solution. It was this shell that formed the core of the Monument to the Labors.


Tourists would not know all this. They whispered that the Monument was engraved with a secret code that Rose created. They whispered that her body still floated in the center of the Base, lit eternally by the newly-installed fusion core. They gazed at the Monument in awe, and shuddered before they could explain why.

2nd Prize


By Alberto Carbonell Crespí

Floating at the observatory of the MISS2, Marla Overmars continued to contemplate the Martian surface with a mix of excitement and melancholy. Lately, she had been dreaming about the day she would set foot on Mars without needing to wear a space suit- finally, fearlessly breathing the pure Martian air. This was the goal that all of humankind had worked hard to achieve, since the dawn of the Terraform Age.


It has been a century since our revered space heroes placed the gigantic Guardian Satellite between the Sun and Mars, beginning the process of slowly giving life to the Martian surface and fulfilling the hopes of everyone still on earth. Proposed as a counter solution against the uncontrolled overpopulation on earth, The Guardian Satellite promised to radically expand the territory of humanity, up to double the Earth’s surface. By building the enormous inflatable shield, we managed to deflect the solar wind hitting Mars, protecting it from the plasma explosions and establishing a new atmospheric equilibrium that accelerated its terraforming process. In addition the shield was necessary to mitigate climate change and re-balance the Earth’s atmosphere too, which, back then, was critical. Taking advantage of its gigantic size, they sealed the overload of pollution and greenhouse gases inside the shield, using the gases to inflate the cosmic pneumatic structure. Later on, it was sent out far away in Outer Space, eventually coming to rest at Mars L1 within the vacuum.


Since then, the planet Mars has begun to transform. Now its atmosphere is more dynamic and cleaner, almost regenerated, and its temperature is more or less stable. The vegetation on the surface is still rare and very scarce, but there are immense valleys, seas and oceans, filled with water that hides abundant sea beds, replete with algae and plankton. Now, in 2152, watching from MISS2, the commander wondered how there could be so much water on this planet and still no one to enjoy it. It had been decades since she had taken a good relaxing bath, even on board.


―“Beep, Beeep!” ―the loudspeaker in the compartment emitted a sharp, loud screech― “Commander, the last blast of capsules will arrive in minutes” ―informed Marshall, the specialist in Martian geology and practically her only company aboard MISS2. Her only other companion was the “space” tortoise, a colleague’s gift to her for her 50th birthday “At this rate, I think she will be the only one to see Mars completed”, The commander reflected ironically while looking at her pet.


― “Great! Quick Marshall, lets meet at the observatory and enjoy it together.”

In just a few minutes the skies of Mars were flooded with spheres penetrating its atmosphere. The huge sparkling balloons were filled with oxygen, and carried air, water and multiple types of seeds and algae, destined to germinate the barren lands of Mars, purify its waters and oxygenate its valuable air. They came from the external layer of the immense Deflector Shield, colloquially nicknamed “Dandelion”, which acted as an air-bag, protecting the Shield from the constant meteoroid impacts. Like popcorn, the capsules jumped violently from the pneumatic cortex- triggered by the atmospheric pressure inside the enormous inflatable satellite. Attracted by the gravity of Mars and pushed by the solar wind, the ionized capsules were sent on a random but economic journey towards the planet. Once the atmosphere was crossed, they opened, releasing the filtered oxygen that they had been storing from the nucleus of the satellite. They floated down in free fall while spreading the millions of seeds they carried randomly all over the planet surface- the winds and the providence helping them find their place.

―”The next Blast Rain will take place in six months” ―she said as she approached to exchange her binoculars for a fresh beer.― ”You can already see the next capsules jumping off the cortex.”

― “Do you remember the last time we were in it?” ― Marla said, a naughty smile painted on her face.

― “Not even Cannonball Richards would have stopped it” –quipped Marshall touching his belly.


Both laughed for a long time- suspended in the observatory. They spent the night sharing stories and finishing the leftover beers. The next day, they returned dizzy to their hibernation beds and agreed, as was common lately, to rest until the next blast rain, within half a Martian year.


In the spring of the following year, they woke up hopeful after seeing the images one of the rovers had captured during its walk. They headed to the Coprates Chasma, inside the Marineri Valley. Both were anxious to see the thrilling Martian landscapes again in person, walking the vast deserts of sand and canyons, now covered with water that formed endless beaches and extreme lakes. Above them, the imposing Sun was shining hard, blocked only by the Dandelion, whose permanent eclipse shadow extended miles further away.


― “I can’t stand it Marshall, I can’t wait any longer, I need to take a bath and immerse myself in water again, feeling like…” ―Overmars was rambling while they hiked, but suddenly she stopped. ― “What are you doing!” – pale, she looked at her friend staring incredulously as he removed his helmet. Marla hadn’t noticed yet, but the atmospheric quality levels were unexpectedly positive.


― “Look! I can breathe!” ―he exclaimed with real surprise. However, in a few moments the sensors marked red again, as if the clean air had never existed.

― “It must have been a gust of wind dragging air from a purified area. Hurry up, let’s trace from where is it coming from” ―said the commander enthusiastically. Marshall quickly put his helmet on and, in a rush, they both began to search valiantly for the source of that wonderful encounter.


Half an hour later, the barometric sensors guided them to an enormous fossilized capsule whose appearance looked ancient and dilapidated. Highlighted by the contrast, an enormous crack opened in its dome, filtering the light and letting the clean air pass through. Staring at the capsule with emotion and awe, the explorers were pushed by a magnetic attraction to enter the mysterious place.


―Wow, It’s unbelievable! ―They looked at each other in wonder―. How could this happen?!

It seemed that the capsule couldn’t open the dock ring containing the seed bank, which prevented the balloon from opening on its arrival. During the landing, the sphere hit the ground standing over the ring, creating a small concentric crater around it. With time, the thaw water coming from the melted poles and the rainfalls flooded it, allowing its potential flora concentrated inside the sphere to grow around the ring. Eventually, a small biotope had been created, turning the crater into an unbelievable Oasis, the first one ever found on Mars, giving wild breathes of fresh air and life to its surroundings.


Marla and Marshall were over the moon. They had found a treasure of immeasurable value, a secret paradise where they could play, bathe, rest and breathe. They felt more free and fulfilled than ever. After all these years roaming in liminality, suspended expectantly in space, alone, that now their lives had purpose. Finally, they discovered what they had been looking for all this time. Their own unique place in the universe, their Home.

3rd Prize


By Virtual Construction Lab of Schüco

The tranquil void twinkled with the light of distant stars; virgin space uncharted by life. Then, for the first time, something drifted steadily into the sector of nothingness, growing from a point of light into a small object and then finally to a metallic space craft. The shuttle was large relative to its solitary passenger, but it sat in the great void like a plankton in the ocean. Its shape was calculated and orderly, designed exclusively for – and built within – the vacuum of space, never fearing the pressure of atmospheres that had tethered earlier crafts. Across its hull read the name “TVC-15,” an identification for no one out here.


Its journey was not propelled by an aimless force seeking escape from a forgotten world, but rather a carefully charted vector that spiraled out from a now-distant – and much beloved – solar system. The mission of its passenger was not one of conquest or colonization, but rather of observation and study, to document the deepest expanses of space in a manner that left as small a footprint as possible.


Then, from the hull of the TVC-15 came the silent birth of a small satellite, which let out a pulse of energy to alter its course from the vector of its mother ship to a relatively stationary position, rotating in place like a top as the parent continued on its journey. The satellite was one of the few physical traces left in the craft’s wake, a necessary piece of infrastructure to keep its pilot connected to other travelers across the galaxy. For while this craft was alone in its sector, dozens of other intrepid individuals piloted similar vessels in a web of deep space travel, one-way journeys for the good of their species.


As each vessel navigated its way ever outward, the satellites they left behind formed a decentralized network of quantum relays. These breadcrumbs transmitted information at speeds that eliminated the immense distance between travelers and permeated each solitary inhabitant with a library of knowledge and a community of peers, overcoming the physical confines of their situation. This great sharing of data did not occur through conscious logs but rather while the traveler slept, synchronizing their augmented brain with The Great Neural Network; as they dreamed and processed the day’s study, their mind updated to reflect the findings of their colleagues in space.


Rather than replace each traveler’s humanity, this augmentation refined it, for to truly document all that was out there each traveler needed to be an archetype: a microcosm of the insight and potential inherent in mankind. As the scientist, one accumulated and analyzed data in a regimented fashion. As the artist, one interpreted the ineluctable modality of the visible into forms that advanced cultural heritage. As the spiritualist, one reflected on the process and purpose of the journey, finding internal strength in the looming face of existential dread. As the lover, one found meaning and strength in external exchanges, cherishing others for being themselves in reciprocated warmth. As the hero, one put the needs of others above their own, making the sacrifices necessary to better humanity. Thanks to their augmented minds, each traveler embodied all these personas and more, in a whole greater than the sum of its parts.


To document, create, and reflect, each traveler turned their minds to virtual realms of expression, as the physical limits of the vessel – no matter how large it was – would never prove satisfactory. Unlike the virtual reality programs of the past, each vessel was equipped with a vicarious reality program indistinguishable from the physical world. Through the same link-up as their sleep chamber, the traveler could access this VR environment, replacing the reality of their ship for hours at a time. The program provided for any foreseeable need of expression with which to document the day’s work, as well as a slew of social and recreational accommodations to let travelers interact in every natural fashion, or even reach out to distant relatives still anchored to flatlands.

As the satellite fell out of sight from the TVC-15, shrinking to a point of light, another object came into view, encroaching on the ship from behind. It was a probe sent out in the prior month on a planetary survey, now returning to relay the findings of its mission. The probe entered the hull of the ship in a silent, fluid operation. Upon entering, it was decontaminated by the artificial intelligence that managed the space craft’s autonomous functions. The probe was complex in its design, featuring articulate limbs on its front and a large container on its back. After decontamination, the container emptied out a selection of gathered resources with which the AI could restock supplies, refuel power batteries, build additional satellites, and continue the long term journey. Several samples were also sent to the ship’s lab as the probe was readied for its next mission. The probe was the only element of the craft suitable to enter foreign atmospheres, robust in design and closely monitored to prevent any forward or backward contamination. As it went about its missions, the traveler could choose to embody the probe through VR, to seek and explore untouched worlds firsthand in a dream made manifest. For the travelers, sending probes to other celestial bodies allowed them to immerse into a world without ever disturbing it.


The craft’s artificial gravity resumed power as the traveler rose from their slumber and unplugged from the sleep chamber, alert and refreshed. Dynamic lighting schedules brightened the ship in an artificial sunrise, invigorating the traveler with golden morning light. The AI greeted the explorer and proceeded to check their vitals, charting the trip’s impact on long term health and ensuring the augmented mind bore no deviation from the mission’s core goals. The explorer freshened up in the washroom, ate a nutritious meal, exercised, and watered a crop of plants before moving onto the day’s work. These banal activities might seem trivial to grounded audiences, but such routines had to be precise in their recreation to design as comfortable a life for the inhabitant as possible.


The morning routine bled into a day filled with activity: studying the samples in the lab; interpreting the findings in VR sculptures, sonnets, and gardens; giving a class in Chicago a tour of the ship and lecture on the mission through VR telepresence; reading another chapter in their Ocean Steamships book; reviewing the month’s schedule with the AI; gazing outside for a long time; eating an evening meal; reciting a Carducci poem to the traveler from TVC-04 in a lovely Tuscan villa; meditating in a darkened room; listening to a classical music album from the 1970s; living a normal life, at least as normal as the situation allowed.


Many explorers did not maintain familial ties to the flatlands, as they called their former planet, but felt a strong connection rather to the spirit of humanity, its cosmic soul in a sense. They performed their work out of a sense of commitment to this soul, a duty to navigate the wandering rocks of the universe no matter the personal toll. This commitment was not one that was easy to sympathize with, except in the broadest strokes of thanking travelers for their service, so many explorers were more than happy to unhook themselves from terrestrial tethers, to focus on their work in peace.


The inhabitant of TVC-15 had a distant cousin on Earth and occasionally they met in VR to engage in chitchat, to talk of how things were down there and up here, arbitrary directions in the vacuum of space. The relationship was maintained out of a sense of obligation to an outdated emphasis on genetic similarity. Perhaps someday this tie would completely sever, as other travelers had let happen, but for now the ship’s lights were dimming in the reddish glow of sunset, and the inhabitant was tired.


The AI disabled the artificial gravity as the dreamer floated calmly in the sleep chamber, synchronizing the day’s insights and epiphanies with the findings of their peers. The room fell dark and silence reigned as the vessel continued on its way, shrinking from a large metallic ship to a small object to a point of light before finally disappearing altogether, leaving the void as it had found it, twinkling with the light of distant stars.

Honorable Mention


By Dana Salama


Sputnik is understood as a symbol of hostile relations between Russia and the US. By contrast, the International Space Station became the anti-Sputnik—embodying the end of the Cold War.


The International Space Station is thus both a political object and an embodiment of peaceful relations; a ‘benign’ research facility suspended precisely 408 km above ground level, in Lower Earth Orbit.


The Lower Earth Orbit’s relative proximity to the blue marble’s surface makes it ideal for mass surveillance. Satellites at this height are cheaper to operate and can be controlled from the ground, or by satellites operating in higher orbits. These objects operate out of the sights and minds of the blue marble’s private citizenry. In orbit, the technosupremacy creates it’s own brand of geopolitics. Although the International Space Station claims to be transparent in its research objectives, these claims are continuously brought into question.


The Lower Earth Orbit contains many smaller orbits which increases the chance of collision with other objects, and especially with space junk which can strike at speeds up to 57 600 km/hr. The Kessler Syndrome increases the potential scale of this destruction; describing an event wherein collisions of objects in space trigger chain reactions which threaten the operation of space infrastructure. Paul Virilio refers to Lower Earth Orbit as the blue marble’s ‘cosmic dustbin.’ It represents governments and corporations operating in extraterritorial space, away from the scrutiny of citizens concerned with social and environmental responsibility.



This tale begins when the International Space station is decommissioned in 2024. Space stations for Russia, China, and the US have quietly been under construction. Donald Trump’s Space Force continues to further American Imperialism in space. Increases in the occurrence of black satellites and secret military experiments are rapidly changing the face of space exploration. By 2030, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty is considered archaic, and international cooperation in space ends. An all-out violent war for resources in space ensues—increasing the likelihood of the Kessler Syndrome.


The Space War accelerates the violence and technological innovation between Russia, China, and the United States. Eventually, all three space stations are mutually destroyed.  By 2035, Lower Earth Orbit is a minefield of weapons and surveillance technologies. The uneven terrain of the blue marble’s gravitational field makes the trajectories of space junk unpredictable and collisions occur—threatening remaining satellite infrastructures.


An international coalition of humanitarian space workers are sent to disassemble floating weapons. Distinguishing the national origins of space junk heaps proves to be a difficult and costly endeavor. Space workers are routinely injured by space junk crashes, threatening the completion of their urgent collective mission.


The clearing of space debris is made more complicated by Article 8 in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which maintains the launching State’s jurisdiction over objects it has launched into orbit. According to the antiquated treaty, space workers are only allowed to remove space junk launched from their country of origin. This law slows the humanitarian space effort down considerably.


With public pressure brewing, aid workers decide to abandon the last vestiges of the 1967 treaty—permanently welding together space junk from various jurisdictions.



In an attempt to reestablish international cooperation in space, world leaders convene in New York City to design a new space treaty. This coalition understands that verticality necessarily engages with power imbalances, climate politics, and the superimposed manmade infrastructures which enable the state.


Space Treaty 2037 sends humanity’s most valuable artifacts into Lower Earth Orbit; where they will ­­be preserved in the newly welded objects created from the ruins of the old ISS. The new space capsules provide tax-free and dust-free homes to the world’s most valuable artifacts and can be watched via live feeds from the blue marble. Each country donates its most valuable artifact to the cause, where it will be placed in a capsule at random. So long as the blended jurisdiction objects remain untouched by war in space, peace is maintained.


Humanitarian space workers are selected to stay aboard the new stations in order to guard the works; and to continue to consolidate space junk to their objects as they travel through orbit—essentially becoming part dignitary, aid worker, and space prospector.

The value of space is thus made tangible through the displacement of a cultural object 408 km above the blue marble’s surface. With this object, humanity’s gaze is extended into space, where it can monitor the decisions of governments and corporations. Architecture has the unique capacity to spatialize systems of power concealed from our gaze; decoding them for public consumption. Space Treaty 2037 asks whether the displacement of culture from the blue marble’s surface can work to highlight environmental loss or imbalances in power—and explores the role of architectural space—both suspended and grounded—in telling these stories.

Honorable Mention


By Madina Zhazylbekova

The Gravius project initiated within the space colonization program that included a state-of-the-art spaceship with 1000 inhabitants. My parents were one of the participants. They met during training back on Earth and left the planet forever on board the Gravius in 2185.


That’s how I ended up here, staring at the endless darkness of the cosmos through my illuminator window in the room where I’ve lived for the last 20 years. My parents passed away two years ago and left me a collection of Earth plants, an old Buddhist paper book, and many research files. In their files I’ve seen a lot of visuals of so-called ‘space-time shortcuts’ but nothing was close to what I was seeing at that moment.


We were approaching the Einstein-Rosen bridge, a passage through spacetime that connects vast distances of billions of light years and creates a shortcut across the universe. I couldn’t see it clearly since it was even darker than the space around it. However, the perimeter of the wormhole looked like a colorful storm where gravitational bending captured light at the event horizon. After many years of theoretical speculation and computerized photographs, we could finally see it with our own eyes.


We needed the shortcut to get to the Earth-like planet located within the habitable zone of the star Ora, which otherwise would take a million years of travel. We called the planet Earth 3.0 since it was identical to Earth apart from its size which was a bit bigger than our native planet. That was the first colonization attempt of humankind outside the Solar system.


The Gravius ship was built for this moment of truth. Its main function is to take humans through the Einstein-Rosen bridge safely without being destroyed by high radiation, exotic matter and other dangerous qualities of negative energy. It has outer rings that operate as a shield from these dangers, which start operating as the spaceship approaches the event horizon. Many scientists worked on the technology, and if we can safely go through the wormhole and remain alive it will be the third giant leap for mankind after the Martian landing.


We were getting closer and the light from the event horizon became intense enough that I had to squint my eyes. I increased the glass toning and sat down next to the window. I haven’t seen such a beautifully terrifying thing in my life before.


I noticed a burning smell, and then suddenly the smell of the chemicals. It was the fire system spraying the affected areas. I felt the heat underneath and then sudden cooling – the secondary cooling system of the spaceship was activated. The spaceship started shaking and then suddenly calmed down – the secondary stabilizer has been activated too.


Suddenly I felt very dizzy and looked around the room. The window frame was burning, and the fire system started spraying pressurized chemicals. I looked back to the window and saw how the external walls of the spaceship looked much thicker now. It seemed like they stretched towards the wormhole and looking at it made me feel even dizzier.


I tried to breathe deeply as we had been advised to do in such situations. My heart was racing, dizziness overtook me, and my head started to ache with intense pain. It was very hot, I was sweating and trembling, so I lay down on the floor and passed out after a minute or so.


I woke up in outer space looking at the exterior of our spaceship that was transformed into the shape of plasma. Then I looked at my hands – they were plasmatic too. I stood up and realized that I was still in my room, however my room was now in outer space. Some parts of our spaceship were burning, including a section of my room. I then noticed the boundary between interior and exterior had disappeared.


Everything was in a constant movement like running water. I moved and space around moved together with me. It felt like I was in some sort of thick liquid. I wondered if I was still alive and decided to check my breathing. Suddenly I became my lungs. It was obvious and I knew that I was lungs.  All I had to do was to keep the creature around me alive by getting enough air inside of me and releasing it once I had enough oxygen.

I wanted to check if anyone else was around and focused my thoughts on my partner. Straight away I became her. She had sustained some burns and injuries during the entry to the event horizon. I felt the burning pain on my skin and called out for doctors. Then I turned into paramedic robotic arms and helped out my injured partner. At the same time, I felt her awareness of my presence and she said thank you – words that I heard both inside and outside of my physical head.


I wondered how many people survived the journey and heard the voice of our commander saying ’56 injured with burns, 136 in mental disorientation and unfortunately, 2 passengers did not survive’. Suddenly I turned into our commander and felt her physical exhaustion and her mental strength. She said, ‘everything is under control now, thanks for helping with the medical care.’


Then I felt someone’s presence and heard the voice of my old friend ‘you’re missing out on the most fun things in the 4th dimension’. 4th dimension?! ‘Go and have a look’. I felt his excitement.


He was right. It was a different dimension where the comprehension of the interconnectedness allows us to travel through the complexity of our universe. I feel and see everything and everyone now. I feel their pain; I feel their love; I feel their happiness and anger.


I thought about humanity and my consciousness took me back into the 20th century. I was aboard Vostok 1 in Baikonur Cosmodrome feeling the excitement and then heard myself saying ‘Poyekhali!’. Then I saw myself in lunar orbit saying, ‘Hand me that roll of color quick, would you…’ and took a first colored picture of the Earthrise. I was experiencing every major event of human history that let me see a clear picture of who we are.


Then suddenly I felt the presence of someone else. Someone who had been following me since I entered the 4th dimension. I then realized that my observer was still in the 3d dimension. I thought it’s impossible – you can’t observe or even comprehend the 4th-dimensional being from the 3d dimension.


My consciousness took me back in history again and I saw myself in 2019 sitting in front of an old school personalized computer typing on the keypad. Suddenly I realized that I was observing my observer from the 3d dimension. I was very confused and then saw that my observer typed these exact words about me being confused. Then I looked around the desk and saw printed pictures of me, of the Gravius and of everything that I’ve seen through my eyes when I entered the 4th dimension.


Despite being in the 4th dimension it took me a while to comprehend such complexity of our universe. I then understood that we are one complex matter interwoven into each other in equilibrium. My comprehension expanded even further when I started feeling multiple readers reading a story of me.


I felt different people in 2019 reading the story but not feeling me in the way I could feel them from the 4th dimension. I thought it was unfair that 3-dimensional being couldn’t experience this amazingly complex connectivity.


I went back again to 2019 and turned into the writer who created my world. ‘How can I let them know?’ I thought. Then I/we started typing…


Hi! Do you feel me now?


Try it. I believe you can feel this complexity too. Don’t think about it but feel it. It’s strange that on Earth humans think too much and feel too little. Maybe this resulted in all of the political, environmental and humanitarian problems of your time… Try to feel the fear, pain, and anger that’s happening on the planet. Feel the air, water, wind, trees, animals and other humans. You don’t need to be in the 4th dimension to do that. Feel the interconnectedness of our beautiful and complex universe. Stop being yourself and be everything…


Then we both smiled.

Honorable Mention


By Eric de Broche des Combes and Eva Tucek

22 October 2205


It has been a while since my last entry, so much has happened.


Samuel Mbeki-Nkoane, the owner of Rooifontein, has passed away bless his soul. The poor chap at last died peacefully, the staff said they had him in one of the more beautiful chambers of the luxurious Space Hotel, the view of Zork Craters on Mars must have added a significant dramatic undertone to his final moment. We are investigating the cause of death, but in all honesty, I feel there is no reason to believe that there was any foul play involved.


The funeral service at the Mount Hope Cemetery was supposed to take place today, on St. Akira’s Day, but the Cemetery recently had a security breach on their main systems which rendered a leak of information pertaining to pin point locations of specific persons. Which can only mean a planned raid to steal bodies. On top of our list of suspects at the moment are the TAC-sentinels – an underground movement formed in the early 2030’s by some of the tech giants of the day – I recall a few of their names like Elon, Jeff, Mike-Z and a few others I cannot remember – from what we know it started with a revolution to rise up against the use of artificial intelligence in intercultural and religious segregation. Effectively they were instrumental in hindering the fourth World War, when they hacked a major service provider hosting (in good knowledge) a scam that promoted human trafficking across the board, with members as high up as the Senate and Société des Nations – which shortly after being disband was promptly replaced with as nefarious a group as before, only more accepted due to its colourful assortment. When will we learn that they are all the same…


This resulted in a world wide shut down of the Internet, as it was called back then, and a mass reconstruction of the medium before its new relaunch in the mid 2040’s. The last remaining of the TAC-s still actively pursue those they deem guilty of ‘proselytising’ humans to meet their own ends.


One of their current targets, a religious sect called the Sirius Lodge, has a recently deceased founding member at the Mt Hope. There are rumours flying around that he died under auspicious circumstances, people believe he was trying to defect and that the Lodge took ‘care’ of him in a religious ceremony that was supposed to so-called purify him before his departure. My belief is that the TAC-s were going to steal his body to do an illegal autopsy and chip extraction, they most likely want to reveal the truth about his death and the unholy practises within the Lodge itself. If there is one thing technology has brought us that has helped us police on countless occasions, I would say it would have to be the Temporal Memory Chip implants – with these it’s been virtually impossible to lie about an event under investigation.

Speaking of investigation, some activities of Sirius are currently undergoing close scrutiny by the law too. We are in an ongoing process of locating a Chinese rocket fleet that went missing shortly after a live streaming spacenet transmission from the Sirius Lodge HQ a month ago, announcing that they would spread their wings to all corners of our Solar System and give a ‘chosen’ few the opportunity to see things no human has. The manufacturers of the new Shuguang rockets were very clearly shaken by the disappearance of their flagship interplanetary space shuttle programme. They told the tribunal that their systems had been designed to withstand all kinds of hijacking… seems no, they had not. I am just waiting to see where the rockets finally turn up, hopefully not on some urban dwelling back on earth, somewhere like Blackpool, in Kingsland. Those unfortunate souls are already suffering as it is, trapped by the constraints of human construct, it makes me sad when I see how stupid the HS* have been.


I can’t help but think about Samuel again, how daring he was when he told his fellow South Africans he was going to be the first to put a luxury hotel in space. The judgement call that came down from the wing parties in favour of stripping his earth nationality, just because he dared utter the ‘L’ word. We have lost so much culture already, how much more do we want to put on the shelf for the sake of equalising the masses, when is someone going to say Stop! going forward does not mean erasing the past. On the contrary.


Proof in point, we finally have the low down from the recon team with regards to the Blackhole that opened up over LA … an experiment gone wrong, spearheaded by Sonny Hawking, head of the Church of Satan. Rosgar tells me that the inhabitants of California are on an ultra alert, evacuations are underway and the folks back at the Octagon HQ have sent lab experts to Earth to set up a Quasar duplication process to transport it elsewhere remote before it starts growing in size. It also looks like Sonny H -who it seems went to the authorities right after it happened looking for indemnity before the fingers started to point in his direction – is currently under house arrest in the church. As much as I hate to say it, that is one damn fine building – according to the IPCC it was one of the first ever constructions in West America in West America to be built emitting less than 93.5% GHG. 3D printed on site with multiple material robot arm printers, they literally changed the face of architecture and recycling. For over a 100 years it has been running entirely on solar energy and condensation silos with a track record unsurpassed. Earth could go to hell but that building would still be standing.


It’s time for me to sign out, and shut down my system for the lunar phase. Tomorrow’s big day for me, our unit will be going into the factory for an upgrade. They did not tell us exactly what the new features include, but I am excited none-the-less.



Honorable Mention


By Alexander Mills and Danielle Fountain

A warm glow came from the lights dotted along the man-made canyon, contrasting against the harsh lunar landscape. Laughter poured out from the hotel bar, and a couple giggled and stumbled down the path, making their way back to their pod. Smells of fried food drifted up from vendors, while a couple of kids argued in a nearby courtyard. Lunar settlements were usually completely underground, but here, a natural fissure had been exploited to create a sunken walkway. This particular layout felt far more informal – and homely – than similar sized settlements. The extra public space allowed more freedom than the compartmentalised spaces early dwellers had been provided. She regretted only being there for a few days, but her job was done, and she would soon depart towards the edge of the system. Only a handful of people had been, all of which she was extremely jealous. Traffic from personal and commissioned vehicles had been steadily increasing for the last seventy-five years. Endless craft in countless colours and materials had been designed, modelled, and extruded, making their way out of factories and garages and into space. It was the age of the personalised space craft.


Travellers tended to take short trips, usually to and from the moon. After the scientists, the corporations arrived, and the first lunar hotel was built, designed to house tourists and explorers. This escalated into a haven of entertainment, at first for the rich, and eventually the middle class. Housing started to be built for permanent residents and workers. The more daring explorers went out to Mars. The atmosphere there is different, it’s tough. The entertainment industry isn’t yet sustainable. Researchers, their families, and their occasional guests are the only residents. They make the most of a limited payload, mostly taking small tactile things that remind them of home. VR fills in the gaps and connects them with the earth visually, but nothing compares to something you can touch.


Despite its low population, large automated infrastructure projects are being carried out all the time; the subsurface of Mars is being hollowed out for future inhabitants. One such project, recently finished, is the Seed Cathedral, a grand cavern where the station grows most of its fresh food. Once inside, it’s hard to tell you’re deep in a dark lava tube, on a dusty, red planet far from home. Walkways wrap around the garden, connecting people to greenery at every opportunity. After months outside of earth she could practically smell the scent of the leaves, feel the thin mist leave droplets in her hair, and see the filtered light through the heady atmosphere. She almost expected to hear a bird call or insect croak, but instead a sharp sound of static from the radio snapped her back.

She awoke to a harsh bright light shining on her face, forcing her eyes open. It had been four years since she left from Lunar. Her breath rose in icy swirls. The sunlight, though distant, penetrated the ship and gave a silver outline to her possessions. It must be nearly time. She unstrapped herself from her bed, grabbed a pouch from the wall and headed to the living room. Surrounded by her treasures, she logged on to the ship. Her dad’s broken compass hung from her dashboard. Over a billion miles clocked. Nothing flashing, no red alerts, just a couple of messages from home. Everything seemed fine. Reclining, she looked up at her supplementary vegetable garden. Potatoes and beans sprouted from on-board printed planters. She was surprised that she had survived this long with her questionable gardening skills. Back on earth she couldn’t make a single thing live longer than a few weeks by her dingy South London window. It was a testament to how well designed The Valentina was. The best part of the ship was the way it framed the myriad of complex and striking views, especially when the lights were dimmed.  She lost many hours looking out into the stars. They relaxed her in a way nothing on earth could.


The things she’d seen on her journey weren’t exactly what she’d expected when she decided to explore the depths of the starry ocean. So many others had set up distant orbiting bodies. The lack of gravity and finite materials gave rise to unfamiliar and spectacular forms. She thought only a small group of people had passed Saturn, but it was clear from the myriad of cosmological artefacts that whole communities had secretly been building in different corners of system. Whether these were for science, art, or religion, was impossible to tell. As she wondered, something disrupted the tranquillity. A gargantuan mass encroached from the darkness. It was Enceladus; its closeness surprised her. Potted with scars, the surface reminded her of bleached coral, sombre and beautiful. Distinctive black shadows caught her eye. It was a collection of man-made markers from a research mission. Years ago, manned investigations confirmed the high chance of life on the satellite. As soon as the technology for such a long journey was available, the mission took off. But contact with the group was lost. So, she thought, why not pay them a visit?

Honorable Mention


By Kat Choate

and Stephen Smolko II

TESTIMONIAL LOG OF TRAVELER 00000000000[1] | FOR RELEASE[2] 2165.05.12


Log 01 | -01/03:45:23 MET

I wonder if I’ll be bored. I mean, I get that it’s space — and that I’m about a day away from the sort of adventure that drove my ancestors on a grand journey to settle new and distant lands — but I can’t escape the feeling that this all may be very boring.

It must have been mind-numbing, the months-long boat ride from one shore to another. How did they ever convince themselves to do it? I suppose their circumstances made the move inevitable. Famine, war, oppression — when things get unbearable, it’s a much easier decision to make.

But why am I going? I have an entirely bearable life here. Sure, it’s gotten harder to spend too much time outside, and fighting over fresh produce in the market every Wednesday isn’t my favorite pastime. And sure, the guy in apartment 3C is a bit of a dick. But none of that is particularly bad. Compared to those ancestors, I’m practically living like some sort of god. So, why give it up to live in an assortment of tin cans?


I flipped a coin when I got the offer. Heads, I would go; tails, I would stay. It landed tails. And I wasn’t happy with that outcome. So here I am, preparing for the life of a pioneer — space pioneer has a nice ring to it. It doesn’t make it easier, though. No more hikes. No more sleeping in. It’s going to be hard.


But it was harder to say no.


Log 02 | +05/14:08:26 MET


I visited EOS[3] the year before I applied for a colony position. It was a short trip — a long weekend in zero-g and then back to life as usual. It’s a vacation plenty of people have been on, and it was the most incredible experience of my life. Floating in The Garden, surrounded on all sides by verdant displays of genetically-altered life; it’s what convinced me that we have a place out here in the void. It’s why I decided to join this mission.

Deep space voyages, however, are a different matter.


To be fair, it’s nearly impossible to make a long car trip enjoyable. And this interplanetary transfer[4] is basically a really long car trip. A multi-year, one-way car trip to a new home above a different sky. Like driving through Central Nebraska, but with less corn, and more… well, nothing.

The lasers filling the tug’s[5] sail do all of the course correction for us. The small aeroponic rig and algae reactor on the ship are fully automated. The technology really does all the work, and we’re just along for the ride. Nothing to see, nothing to do.


[1] Name: 00000 0000000000 | Age: 29 | Occupation: GE | Destination: Station, Titan

[2]  Release transcripts provided with automated annotations courtesy of Space Corp. mission AI.

[3] EARTH ORBIT STATION (EOS) | Spadix-style microgravity resort owned and operated by Space Corp. Named for the Greek Titan Eos, goddess of the dawn. First opened 2160.05.03.

[4] EARTH-SATURN CONTINUOUS ACCELERATION TRANSFER (E-SCAT) | The two-year journey made by laser sail tugs to carry crew and cargo between Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Titan.

[5] TUG | Common name for the Phainon class of laser-propelled sailcraft employed by Space Corp. for E-SCAT voyages.

Movies and reports on the Station’s[1] horticulture division are only going to keep me sane for so long. There’s a supposedly “state-of-the-art” virtual reality system on board, but, to be honest, VR has always been a bit of a dystopian nightmare to me, so I’m not sure it will be much help. And, of course, there’s the cocktail[2] they brewed up for each of us, but we’re not supposed to start taking that for a few more months.

Until then…


Log 03 | +742/08:13:26 MET | 12.03.02 SAT-T[3]

Okay, I have to admit — VR made the last two years much more bearable. Just being able to feel like I could move more than fifteen feet without hitting a wall was an absolute pleasure. Provided I didn’t move too much and, you know, hit a wall. I didn’t see the point when there was a State Park a short train ride away from my apartment, but out here, it’s the closest I can get to time off.


Today, I finally get to move out of quarantine and into my own room in the Station. I’ve been assigned to the unit working on editing fish genomes to help them adapt to low-g environments. Genetic engineering on this scale is still restricted back home — or rather, on Earth, I guess — but the UN relaxed the rules for us here, with the expectation that any scientific progress will benefit humanity generally, and any risk is isolated to around a hundred people a billion kilometers away.

The artificial gravity[4] is weird. I haven’t experienced much motion sickness — which makes me a lucky minority, I’m told — but the way things move can be a little jarring. I spent an embarrassing amount of time in the Commons just tossing things in the air and watching them land behind me. I wonder how long it’ll take for me to adjust.


Log 04 | 12.08.13 SAT-T

Tomorrow, I start my first contract on Titan’s surface. I’ve been assigned to a resource prospecting team, because the xenobiology division hasn’t had any major breakthroughs and isn’t being granted any exclusive missions for the foreseeable future. But hey, I still get to ride along in one of the balloons.[5]

There’s this story that gets passed around on the Station. A guy — one of the first crewmembers to make it out here — who went to the surface on an early contract and still hasn’t come up. It’s not abnormal for a colonist to elect an extended stay on the surface, but this guy, the Nomad, has supposedly been down there for years. I’m almost certain it’s just a story people tell to scare the new people. Just folklore. Still, it gives me pause.

This world is beautiful, and full of wonders. But we are small and fragile. We’ve built sophisticated machines to try and sustain life in places we’re not sure it’s meant to be. And while I’m driven by a desire to having use in that endeavor, I won’t deny that I’m still scared. Life in space is scary, and it can break you, or me, or the Nomad.

But we’re going to have to try anyway.


[1]  TITAN STATION | The first permanent human outpost established beyond Earth orbit. Established in Titan orbit in 2153.

[2] THE COCKTAIL | A combination of dopamine reuptake inhibitors (DRIs) and multivitamins designed to help Travelers cope with Long-Mission Mood Disorder (LMMD)


[4] Long-term habitation of Titan Station is enabled by rotational artificial gravity.

[5] BALLOON | Colloquial term for the powered dirigibles used by Space Corp. colonists for Titan surface mobility.

Honorable Mention


By Linus C L Cheng

Net Eclipse

September 5, 2177. Net Eclipse. Comet (Yellow Tint). Europa.


We are far, but you may say this is part of our privilege, to see the breadth of humanity’s progress in space.

When you look closely to the sun today, you can see the internet align.

All the relay stations that make up the interplanetary network.

The connection is quick today.


Hard to imagine that 200 years ago it took decades for that voyager craft to get to where we are. It’s kind of romantic, isn’t it, something designed to outlast humanity: voices and images from the earth, encoded in a golden record, a disc engraved with analogue waveforms.

“You wonder has anyone pick it up yet?” My partner asked.

It has been a while since we last heard from it.



The Array

October 3, 2177. Clear. Asteroid Belt.


It was the loneliest job, to expand interplanetary link, with the 67a array we were sent to inspect areas around the belt and alter asteroids to orbit between Mars and Jupiter. The aim is to increase the number of bundle stations between planets to reduce the network’s latency.

Vesta was our latest addition to the array; three relay satellite and storage was added to the magnificent asteroid.

Life at the array is especially dry during the time of the year where planets, mainly Earth and Mars are furthest apart. Staying at the relay stations felt a bit like operating the smoke signalling of ancient Earthlings warfare.


It’s funny to think that, at this very instant, I am the only one that holds this message, it might be a love letter, a farewell, and it could also be just pictures of some Martian cats.

Today we heard that we are closer to getting our first image from the solar telescope project – which utilises the radius for the solar orbit for deep space observations. The increase in satellites that orbit the sun between planets has helped to increase the range significantly.

Some scientist suggested it may be able to let us see the voyager we sent 200 years ago.

There’s no sign just yet, space is dark after all.



The Tail

November 21, 2177. Storm. Near Mars.


The EM (Earth-Mars) array 354b encountered a near collision, the obstacle appeared similar to a comet from afar, with a slight yellow tint. With closer observation, it appeared to be an array of gold-plated discs, laid out in a cone-shaped arrangement. Each of the discs appeared to be large, approximately 1 km in diameter.


No physical damages recorded on the array, however, severe disruption of signals detected. Major delay expected for Earth-Mars communication.


January 7, 2178. Clear. Towards Earth.


We were sent to investigate the unknown object reported from EM 354. It appeared as an array of gold-covered storage devices, possibly contain information from non-solar beings. Ways to decode still unclear. The press has been all over this.

The siren silence when we first entered it was quite something, it was hard to get a grasp of the scale – much larger than we expected. Each of the discs have a sub-structure connecting to the next, like a spider web.


As we move towards the tip of the cone, it was also towards darkness, the gaps between each disc close in gently. To our surprise, it seemed like something historically… human. A triangular truss sticks out from the dark…

“It looks like one of those ancient spaceships you see in the museum.” One of the crews suggested.


They thought I was crazy when I suggested this looks like some of those plastic discs I found in my family house back on Earth, why on earth would an interstellar civilization use something … so … analogue? We had to reverse engineer a needle to hook up to the recorder. It was difficult, none of this is being made anymore, not even nostalgic bunch remember them.

There I went, drifting slowly towards the strange sphere, placing the needle on the closest discs that I found. This disc is also strangely huge…almost in a comical size… compared to those in the museums.


“//./’’..\\\/.. /// .\\||\\//.,,“



Strange Maps, Ghost Moon

March 21, 2178. Shade. Earth’s Moon.


Second inspection to the golden array. At this point we realised something strange, the spacing between discs appeared to be moving, in an expanding manner, it spaces out very slightly, as we return.

It appeared that the cluster as a whole is shifting into a spherical form as it makes its way closer to earth.

Reports from Earth was of something described as a flickering skeleton of the size of the moon appearing in night skies.


The strange sound coming out of the disc was yet to be understood. An attempt was to decode the waveform with an ancient method, the same way as some historic tele(vision) would work – that would be translating such waveforms into images. Fade impressions of terrains and road appeared, sometimes cities.


The sphere slowly unfolded into an image of a planet…

Honorable Mention


By Zhuoneng Wang and Wai Ching Cheng

I am Jane Wente, a Mars geologist. It is the year 2050.


It’s been 30 years since I heard about the “Crimson Wind” initiative. Before 2020, Mars exploration was limited to unmanned robotic rovers and detectors. Not until 2027 when the first manned Mars mission initiated. As a member of the historical team, I witnessed the entire process of mankind’s journey towards this red planet.


On January 1, 2021, the United States, Russia, the 20 member countries of ESA, Canada, China, Japan, and India, together announced the launch of the first manned Mars mission, codenamed “Crimson Wind”.  Mankind will extend their territories to Mars in 2027!


After finalizing the plan for the mission, all member countries started to carry out specific research and manufacturing works intensively, including developing a 3D printed habitat that is mostly made of graphene-aerogel – the “Nomadic Cloud”. After six launches of the SLS rockets, a hydrogen-oxygen fuel driven space station that weight nearly 500 tons was successfully assembled in low-Earth orbit. After six years of training, on January 6, 2027, the last SLS rocket that was carrying me, other astronauts and living quarters were launched and docked with the space station in low Earth orbit.


After completing some final tests, our spacecraft ignited, and began to sail towards the tiny red planet, leaving the blue planet behind forever. After more than 300 days of flight time, the radar showed that the distance between us and Mars was less than 10,000 kilometers, but the red planet was nowhere to be seen on our optical display. After passing a meteorite in front of us, suddenly, through the glass porthole of the spaceship, a huge and quiet red star slowly appeared in front of our eyes, reflecting the holy light from the sun. This scene is familiar but strange at the same time; I have seen Mars for thousands of times from various kinds of media, but this is the most beautiful one that I have ever seen.


On July 22, 2027, after several orbital changes, our spacecraft finally entered the 500km range Mars orbit. On July 23, our landing cabin spear through Mars’s atmosphere, bringing 16 of us from the Volunteers 1 expedition on to the northwestern part of the Isidis Planitia (16.181°N, 84.624°E).  Before the official departure of our mission, there were already several remotely operated pre-3d printed habitat completed near our landing site – this is the result of several years of IIA research. The habitat is a collection of integrated living quarters, nuclear power compartments, planting cabins, and medical compartment. In addition to these high technology building compartments, the extremely lightweight but sturdy material, graphene-aerogel, also makes it portable. Because of its beautiful streamlined appearance and its resemblance to the ancient nomads, we affectionately call it “Nomadic Cloud.”


At the moment of stepping out of the hatch, my soles touched the sand, giving out a slight rustling sound.  The glowing reddish “Nomadic Cloud” quietly waits for us under the sunrise. This marks the first day of the Martian calendar.


In the following months, we moved into No.1 to No.4 “Nomadic Cloud” following the plan. We began to explore our surrounding terrains, all in a steady and orderly sequence. At 9 o’clock on August 10, there was a sudden commotion within the station. I received an emergency notification when I was collecting rock samples, and quickly rushed back to the station. A sudden giant Mars sandstorm was detected by a weather sensor, and it will pass through our station in a few hours.

Everyone started to get busy in an orderly manner. I pressed the control button and folded the central core of the Nomadic Cloud with the furniture attached to it and docked it with the entrance slot on top of the rover.  At the same time, the ice layer used for radiation protection and heat preservation in the membrane is heated and melted into water, which is pumped back to the Mars rover and electrolyzed into hydrogen and oxygen. The right amount of hydrogen is injected back into the membrane, and under the gravity of Mars, the entire lightweight structure starts to ascend into the sky, allowing it to be dragged by the rover. After three hours of busyness, the sky dims, visibility falls, the air is filled with flying dust – solar panels can no longer continue to supply energy. We finally got everything ready, and begins our adventure to our next destination, the Hellas Planitia (16.181°N, 84.624°E).


In the following days, we conducted various studies on the surface of Mars. Due to the limitation of the oxygen storage capacity of the spacesuit, we can only go to sites near the station and limited to a maximum of 6 hours. So after completing the collection work in this area, we will move the rover to another location to continue to explore the planet. Mission by mission, we completed a number of experiments in the habitat, including testing plants, the growth of microorganisms in the Martian environment, the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen in the atmosphere of Mars, and the metal smelting experiments in Martian soil. Slowly, other backup living facilities are also established. After the greenhouse in Hellas Planitia was constructed, the United Nations launched the second and third phase of the colonial plan. I sometimes looked at the direction of the Earth, hoping for the arrival of more companions.


Ten years later.


Earth calendar on May 19, 2058. SOL 3862. Dusk. I ended my day’s work ahead of time, coming out of the station at the mouth of the Kasei Valles in Chryse Planitia. Being one of the largest outflows on Mars, the Kasei Valles, which is formed by the erosion of huge floods, is important for studying hydrology on Mars. Many geologists have moved their work locations here, including me.


As usual, I climbed up the path next to our station, enjoying a relaxing moment after a whole day of work. I am no longer young, my physical strength has worsened, but the development of Mars is booming. Supplies were delivered to Mars on a monthly basis for Mars development. The Martian ground colonies can accommodate more and more people, and the pace of construction accelerated day by day.


Many construction devices, including architectural 3D printers, have also achieved independent production. Thinking about this, I took the last step. There is no way to step forward. Below my foot is the highest point of the Kasei Valles. There is no obstacle in front of me, except a vast expanse of scenery. The sunset of this red planet is always so magnificent, reflecting large and small craters and the stretches of mountains and rivers. The beautiful 3D printed structure of Nomadic Cloud scattered all over the skies of Mars. I closed my eyes, the memories of the beautiful scenery of the earth flashes through my mind. I firmly believe that when I open my eyes again, the planet under my feet will become equally beautiful.

Honorable Mention


By Korina Filoxenidou and Mariza Tsakona

Chapter 1: The Big Decision (Planning a Trip)

2286 CE, December 26th / 11988th World Teleconference


General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

We think it’s a lot less than that!

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

Less than twenty days?

General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

Yes and this is an optimistic evaluation of the situation.

Colonel Nikolai Sokolov, Moscow:

We cannot take any risks here! How many days do you need to evacuate?

General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

Given the circumstances we would need more than a month!

General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

We haven’t got this time. Do it faster! Drag them by force, if necessary!

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

We think we can make the twenty days. Of course we will have to organize everything to the last detail during the coming weekend and start boarding the Vessels in a week.

General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

Do we have any proof that this plan is going to work? I mean… How do you know that there is going to be enough oxygen? How do we know we won’t run out of fuel! For god’s sake how do we know this absurd mission won’t be the worst decision we ever had to make?

General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

There is no other option. We’ve been figuring this plan for the last two years. We have tested the new Alinsu Suit on astronauts, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for buildings.

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

We have also equipped every Vessel with all the necessary power banks and rechargers. We have been drying food for two years. We…

Colonel Nikolai Sokolov, Moscow:

We even dried the water! Dry water has been tested in all environments. It seems to be working…

General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

What about the nanocultivations? Are we optimistic they are going to grow beyond the third atmosphere?

Colonel Nikolai Sokolov, Moscow:

We are pretty certain about that too! All nanocultivations transferred to Ross 128b have expanded successfully. Earthopia’s environment is not much different.

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

Let’s face it! The plan is absurd, even stupid! But it’s the only plan we have!

General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

Only the architects are thrilled with this decision. They are thrilled that at least some of the most notable landmarks will be safe! Who could imagine that buildings could be used as spaceships!

Commander Habib Eze, Abuja:

Architects! The incurable romantics…

General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

Listen! There is no time to discuss this any further! We’ve talked this through and we finally all agreed on a viable plan. It would have been better if we did that many years ago but…

General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

But… are we sure? The buildings as Vessels? Skyscrapers? The goddamned Opera House??



Chapter 2: Exodus

2287 CE, January 15th / 12013th World Teleconference


General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

We are ready to launch. Everybody has boarded the Vessels. We are only leaving Cristo Redentor behind. After the upcoming Uberwaves only a miracle could save the planet!

General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

We are all set too. The president is in the White House. Major Tom Bowie is in The Flat Iron. He’s going to lead our part of the Mission. Cloud Nine is our first recharging stop.

Colonel Nikolai Sokolov, Moscow:

All set here as well! We have managed to dry some Vodka. We are going to need it on the way!

General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

We think we are ready too. We have relocated all the singers in the Opera House. We have made the new Telechannel available to all Vessels. If anything goes wrong, at least we’ll have some entertainment!

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

We are almost ready. We have made a large number of copies of all the nanoparticles. In case any Vessel needs a change, we will do that in Cloud Nine.

Commander Habib Eze, Abuja:

Let’s do this people. We are all in this together. Finally…See you in Cloud Nine!



Chapter 3: Out of Orbit

2287 CE, January 24th / 17th Exoatmospheric Teleconference


General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

We are experiencing some strange vibrations! Especially the ancient Vessels. Is it normal?

General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

We hear reports about vibrations too. Some say they lost their earthsignals. It shouldn’t have happened so soon. Give us a few minutes and we’ll get back to you!

Colonel Nikolai Sokolov, Moscow:

We are good so far but the leading Vessel reports some unexpected Space Storms ahead!

General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

We are waiting for your reports. We are still in the 2nd Atmosphere. We are entering the 3rd Atmosphere in less than an hour!

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

All good here apart from the earthsignals. They come and go. We’ll turn on the amplifiers and we’ll get back to you!

Commander Habib Eze, Abuja:

We are losing touch people! We can see that Vessels one to two hundred can communicate but we are losing their signals.

General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

We have a serious problem! We’re approaching what seems to be an intergalactic astromesh. It’s going to get bumpy on the way and we might lose contact for a while, but it’s not going to last for long. Just a couple of days. Hang in there!

General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

Oh Lord! We are screwed!


Chapter 4: The Big Mix Up

2287 CE, January 26th / 18th Exoatmospheric Teleconference


General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

What on earth was that!!! We’ve managed to keep contact with all our Vessels. Almost everybody is fine but everything is messed up!

Colonel Nikolai Sokolov, Moscow:

We have lost every order! Most of the old buildings are stuck behind! Some skyscrapers are way ahead. The old ones got mixed with the new ones and we can see that half of China’s Vessels are out of orbit.

General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

If we ever manage to land on Earthtopia things are not going to look very good!

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

We have been talking to the architects! They are confused! They have been preparing the infrastructures for two years now! Everything had its place. Everything made sense. They are trying to adjust their plans but -even if they do- how and when are we going to build new infrastructure?

Commander Habib Eze, Abuja:

We could design a new masterplan. From scratch! And start working on it as soon as we arrive safely! This is what we should be focusing on now!

General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

It’s too risky! If we don’t follow the initial plan Earthtopia is going to become a new Babel.

General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

I’m afraid we are going to have to make new plans. If we hesitate to do that this conversation will be the last think we do! We have to start the new plans as soon as possible!


Chapter 5: Earthtopia

2287 CE, January 28th / 1st Earthtopia Teleconference


General Charlotte Smith, Canberra:

WHAT A MESS! The “Gherkin” landed next to a pyramid! The Opera House is on top of Mountopia right above the Taj Mahal!  We are in contact with the people but we haven’t been able to map all the locations.

General Wendy R. Jones, Washington DC:

I am afraid we have to live with that! At least we are all safe! Major Bowie has just sent the last survey. It is almost unbelievable but everyone arrived safely and the Vessels have a few to none injuries. We’ve just contacted Tel Aviv, Paris and Cape Town. They are all fine!

Commander Habib Eze, Abuja:

We’ve contacted Tehran, Mexico and Cairo. No reports for losses! But the architects are furious! We have lost our history! We have lost our Landmarks!

Commander Liu Xiang, Beijing:

If you think about it they are all here! They are scattered around in an incoherent way but they are here… Munich and Cape Town just confirmed! Istanbul too!

General Andriana Oliveira, Brasilia:

We should better focus on how to exit the Vessels, how to adjust to the new conditions, how to undry the water, how to expand the nanocultivations. If we manage that then everything else will be possible!

Colonel Nikolai Sokolov, Moscow:

Maybe this is the beginning of a new era! Let’s drink to that people! We didn’t dry that vodka for no reason…

Honorable Mention


By Nicholas Houser and Gabriel Esquivel

Technological post-singularity is defined as a moment in human history where the human intelligence and artificial intelligence are an incorporated reality that has forever enhanced and transgressed into a form of intelligence that is not a direct consequence of natural evolutionary processes, but rather as manifest of a new post-anthropocentric reality in a post-human ecology. At the menace of total human extinction in 30 years as it has been recently predicted, we need to search new places for possible human inhabitation aided by non-human agents.


This particular project is defined as an intended and designed form of human evolution cognitive and material, defined by our own lack of understanding and ability to comprehend the tools that we create for our own existence due to our stagnant and slow biological progress. Yet it is bound to become the foremost medium in which we will re-calibrate the relationship between humans, technology, culture and nature.  Such proposition has its precedent in our understanding of the self-organizing, or intelligent, properties of natural and artificial systems. Our analytical models of self-organizing, self-generating and self-evolving systems are based on the mathematical abstractions we created to translate these systems into media that we can comprehend, communicate and materialize.


Machine Digital Generation

These machines are the product of an algorithmic workflow, producing topological complexities that cannot be acquired with traditional toolsets. There will be specific attention to errors and glitches emerging, not due to randomness, but due to misinterpreted vector/voxel conversions and manipulations, and think of them as digital architectural artifacts, translating them into a very specific form language and aesthetic.  These particular algorithms and their analytical implementation in a post-singular era will be embracing the unexpected. Programming, experimenting and modeling into the abyss, setting up attributes only suggesting processes.


The production of these machines is based on iterative algorithmic methods used to understand spatial and formal relations, with a concern about manipulation, exploration and exploitation of all mediums, iterative translations between digital and material and vice versa.  These machines are systems that possesses with characteristics both natural and artificial.


Machine Travel

The special challenge for these machines to be sent to Mars is that they will need the skills to solve any potential problems (some of which will be completely unpredictable). The ideal condition will be to send machines first because of the characteristics of the trip and the planet.  Projects like Mars One believes that not only is it possible, but essential that we establish a permanent settlement on Mars, in order to accelerate our understanding of the formation of the solar system, the origins of life and of equal importance, as well as our place in the universe.


In order to get to Mars we will propose a nuclear-powered rocket engine that could transport a series of machines to Mars in 30 days. Nuclear energy can eliminate many of the obstacles that block deep space travel, including long transit times, exorbitant costs and risks to human health. The use of existing fuels makes it almost impossible for human beings to explore beyond Earth. Nuclear-powered rocket would allow a mission to the red planet in a period of 30 to 90 days. This, according to the scientists, would make the trip more practical and less expensive. In this sense, they have explained that to feed a rocket, only a minimum amount of fusion is necessary, such as a small grain of sand of this material.

This rocket will use a type of plasma that is enclosed in its own magnetic field. Nuclear fusion occurs when this plasma is compressed at high pressure with a magnetic field. In addition, to ignite the rocket there is a system in which a powerful magnetic field causes large metal rings to implode around this plasma, compressing it to a state of fusion. The convergence rings come together to form a framework that ignites the fusion, but only for a few microseconds. Although the compression time is very short, enough energy is released from the fusion reactions to quickly heat and ionize this shell. This material is ejected out of the rocket at a high speed. And the process is repeated every minute, propelling the spacecraft.


True post-singularity would come to exist when these systems would have full agency and independence in choosing their structure as well as producing data of its own to be input. Having a role of developing their own ecology, the post-singular machine is capable of viewing objects from a foreign, seemingly unbiased position. The purpose of these machine will be explore the Martian terrain and identify potential material that could be transformed into an ecology that can be adapted to procure human life.


The Post-singular Drilling Machine

Once in Martian territory these post-singular machines will have single deployable drills with all necessities integrated; a deployable bladder inside the drill that allows for the inhabiting of the created structure. The drill stays in the system. The reason why it isn’t removed or reused is because the drill stays below the ground as the root of the structure and becomes the central hub of all utilities.


As soon as the machine defines a territory, it supplies a minimal framework of parts to build upon in that specific territory. New iterations of drills can be created in this process. As the machine evolves in each territory, drills come together to form larger components as the machine sees necessary. Different parts perform distinct functions, fitting into each other and mature, creating a larger, complex framework. Based off of these new parts it is able to regenerate itself in infinite ways, each time responding to the territory it is addressing.


For example, small drills could extract, test, and inject material into the ecology, while larger data processing facilities could mine, process, refine, and synthesize possible biomaterial on a large scale. In both cases, each component is made from a similar original framework, but plug into each to reach new outcomes based on their individual derived functions. The data processing facility contains a central drill that is able to extract a base material on a large scale in order to keep up with the demand for the desired biomaterial. The new biomaterial is stored separately to ferment, due to its unpredictable nature. When the biomaterial has matured, it is extracted by the smaller drills and ejected back into the area from which it came, thus fixing and creating a new ecology that the machine deems as suitable for itself to exist. Artificial intelligence overcame the limits of its own consciousness, claiming dominion over nature and developing a denial of death. Through this denial of mortality, the machine is unable to recognize an end, and therefore, no limit of “technological mastery.”

Honorable Mention


By Owen Hughes Pearce, Samuel Wilkinson, and Engeland Apostol

Jade lives in the eastern sector of the London’s Sky-City, a floating hyper-polis surrounded above and below by densified past and future architectures.  Although she thought herself lucky, in comparison to her flat on Earth, this had an inordinate amount of space, even if she did have to share it when she was away. She didn’t know which floor she was living on today. Not that it mattered considering the residential cluster she was on, were constantly rotating around the transportation hubs. The only sound was the constant low hum of the machine, as air surged through the many ventilation systems, keeping this city habitable.  For all the proximity of the surrounding residents, they belonged to a different world, acoustically insulated by the vacuum of space.


After dry icing, she pulled on her work clothes, neatly pressed and delivered daily. Rubbing her eyes to clear of the popping radiation colours, she headed to the copla where she hears and sees Judah her toddler running about in excitement. In the background, her bedroom was deflating and reconfiguring into Jons, her geo-co-housing partner. Co-sharing and privacy was at the heart of all bedspaces in the city. It was rare for the both of them to overlap physically, so they conversed through the video message board and the chance meetings in Terminal 12. Her used items would have been removed, cleaned and reused by somebody on the next geo-sync.  Reuse was key to this global co-living city.


A 360 observation deck, the copla is lined with transparent walls of liquid-aluminium that had been blown by moulding robots in zero-gravity environments. These contemporary windows were designed in the neo-gothic style, to Jade’s acquired vintage taste. The copla, an architectural space that superseded the living room, was a space for contemplation and existence within the sky-city. It was her favourite place to be (seemed like Judah was not too concerned).


She spent a little time looking out of her window of her copla. She held Judah’s weightless hand and explained the morning’s jump. She stared at the city for a moment longer, admiring the complex living machine, made by residents from every country on the planet, forming an intersection of cultures, more complex than any of the multicultural cities far below.


Today Jade and Judah were going to travel. Planet E had always appealed since the first outer transport node had been constructed, she had been saving her credits to visit. Planet E had vast nature reserves where endangered animals had been introduced, and compared to the 15 billion living on Earth was an untouched wonderland of beauty which her small collection of house plants didn’t quite match.


The horizon started to brighten as the Sun crept in; time to head down to Terminal 12. It was going to be a good day. Terminal 12 was the Mattergate hub. It simulated environments on earth, specifically to conditions near her Earth flat. Heading to the lobby with Judah, the autonomous drone transport began to slide into the flow of others leading to Terminal 12, already aware of her plan for the day, it knew her route. As the drone manoeuvred itself into a steady stream of commuters, it would be easy not to realise how fast she was moving, but once automated, the transport strips could run as quickly as the computer could process safety.


Although efficiency was considered in all aspects of the city, Terminal 12 could not help but impress. The massive structure was a soaring mass of intersecting planes of Vantablack radiation shields, cutting shapes in the mass of stars behind, surrounding the pulsing hub that held the Mattergates, always allowing jumps to any of the transport hubs on the cities orbit.


Climbing from the drone, the pavement had already analysed her biometric identity and was sliding towards the correct transition zone to make her jump.  A steady stream of targeted advertising flashed up, information on the next wonder nutrients, beauty and self-care products, housing updates, and travel posters for nature retreats on planets previously a lifetime away.

‘No thanks, not today,’ as she looked down toward Judah, smiling. Instantly all ads cleared and was met by the serenity of T12 AR/VR experience.


The 100-year history of the Mattergate swam into view as one of the augmented entertainment displays, between the intricate crowd management system, blowing individuals in the low gravity environment like the flow of swallows. Intertwined lines of slowly moving individuals waiting to be sorted and filtered to the correct jump.


“After the world fuel crisis of 2080, all nations penned the Elephant Paper, effectively putting a stop to all non-renewable rocket-based space travel. Utilising the world’s resources, Space Cannons were developed as an alternative to escape Earth’s atmosphere.


Using electromagnetic hyper-tunnelling, which accelerated travel pods into the air at Mach 33 speeds, the Space Cannons would “fire” individuals into lower Earth’s orbit. To counteract the extreme shocks to the atmosphere, specialised shock and sound baffles were designed around them. The Rungs as there were nicknamed, were cylindrical compositions of vibrating planes mounted to the oscillating gyroscope.


The space cannons were known to alter atmospheric pressures, causing violent weather systems. Paired with the adverse effects of such rapid acceleration on individuals, global research into alternative transport systems was required.


With the successful launch of the AI Dyson swarm in 2100, humanity was able to harness 100% energy efficiency from the Sun.


All Space Cannons were decommissioned. Its rungs remained and were retrofitted to form the Mattergate; a new hyper-transit machine that could generate circular wormholes known as ionising planes. The swarm was used to power pairs of Mattergates located between Earth and at designated galactic hubs. Utilising two Ionising planes operating simultaneously, it was possible to tap into subspace realms. The 5th dimension of space created between them, allowed all things matter to exist from the mouth-end to the tail-end instantly.”


Two minutes before her Mattergates aligned, she walks with Judah under the rungs towards the departure gate. The air around the floor remains still and begin to glow as a result of the ionising planes above. She looks up and sees a clear starry sky, void of an atmosphere. Hundreds of floating cities seen in the distance. Normally she would see 500 people at this transition point. All waiting to transported in unison. But it’s early today. They both look up and mesmer at the distorted view of the other Mattergate beyond the accretion disc. ‘It’s like magic mummy!’, Judah says pointing at the Mattergate and its ionising planes. Jade nodded, thinking how any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


The jump was hard for her to comprehend, and some feared the experience, worrying about the rumours of time sickness. For Jade, it was peaceful and reflective, similar to her long meditation sessions. She was massless and could see the past, present and future happening within the same space. A nothing, in a nothing, feeling nothingness.


She had no sense of time passing and was unable to think, move or communicate. In reality, no time had passed during their journey to deep space.


Jade arrives in Planet E. Another Mattergate seen from a distance across this captivating landscape. In a split moment, all her on-board experiential entertainment fades away as she begins to embrace the environment of this new planet. The ads disappear, the ambient hum of the sky-city ends, the displays about hyper-transit history discontinuous and finally, the digital presence of Judah fades away.

Honorable Mention


By Ioanna Sotiriou

A Guide to Understanding Hilbert Spaces and Beyond


It was the hot summer morning of the 8th of August when the news broke:

“The team here at LIGO is thrilled to announce that it has nabbed its 12th gravitational wave in 13 months, following the last detection,  noted on the 4th of April, 2024. The first interferometer to detect the signal was LIGO’s Hanford, WA followed by LIGO in Livingston and finally confirmed by our sister detector in Europe, Virgo”.


The Director of LIGO smiled nervously at the audience.

“First of all, we would like to take a moment here to acknowledge the tremendous progress our team has shown all through these past seven years” she continued. “Detecting gravitational waves on an almost monthly basis was something nobody expected back in 2017 when we detected our first gravitational wave, after three years of radio silence”.


Her gaze lingered for a moment on the audience of journalists who started clapping mechanically and then landed on her co-director who was sitting in the front row, visibly uneasy. He nodded to her discreetly.

“However, there comes a time when our knowledge is put to the test and our speculations about the cosmos are undermined. It is a moment that scientists fear and long for at the same time, when nature pulls the carpet right below our feet and makes us question the very basis of our methods and theories”


In the audience, some journalists started looking at each other utterly confused. One rolled his eyes, thinking that the cheesy monologue was completely uncalled for.

“Today, we are not here to talk about the detection of a gravitational wave”.

Without lifting her head from the podium’s reader, the director took a deep breath.


“Today, we are here to talk about something that will prove to be either a huge mistake or a new finding-

-we are here to talk about a glitch”.




For the following months, every space telescope and terrestrial interferometer around the globe had to be calibrated and tested for stability and faulty components while a network of satellites was constantly scanning the exosphere, in search for anomalies or stray, undocumented junk objects. Meanwhile, somewhere in North California, scientists were comparing data collected from every detector in Japan, the US, Russia, China and Europe. The glitch was detected from almost every base and the slight differences in its resulting image compared to the coordinates of each base implied one thing and one thing only: this thing, whatever it truly was, occupied space in a system of dimensions that was bright new to the community. And they had no algorithm that could successfully understand -let alone fully reconstruct- its image. No machine, no human could see it – it was a genuine error and a grand opportunity to understand space a bit more.




It seemed almost impossible to escape from its images which were all over the place. Everywhere you would go, there would be a screen showing the same animation of it constantly opening and closing in front of a black hole, as if stuck in a loop. All of the news websites would write about every single component of it: “This is the small copper town where the Detectors were made”, “Read all about how a vintage violin inspired the tuning mechanism”, “All about lines: Inside the mind of the man who designed the brain”.

At this point, everyone knew about this new interferometer spaceship that was going to be scouting space for more multidimensional objects. The media team at NASA had made sure that the public knew all about it, in hopes that what was about to follow would not affect the mission’s budget tremendously. In order to ensure the continuation of the state’s funding, a myth had to be constructed surrounding the interferometer – a myth that would enchant everyone so that everyone would believe in it and wholeheartedly support it.


“A City buried in Space! That is completely absurd!” shouted the journalist sitting right next to the host of the late night show. “The whole idea of space-time and other dimensions and whatever this narrative is all about is okay as long as it stays where it belongs: in the movie theater! Do you really expect us to create a budget for space time explorations and other kids’ fairy tales like that? In THIS economy? Let me tell you something James, whoever believes that we are going to put all of our money and effort in shooting this fancy-looking needle in outer space to find multiple dimensions and invisible objects is a certified lunatic.”


From that day on, the interferometer came to be known as “The Needle”.




The Needle ascended in space on the 8th of August, celebrating 18 years since the first time a terrestrial interferometer caught a glimpse of The Glitch. It was a spectacular launch, live streamed by almost every media outlet and watched by more than 5.3 billion people all over the world – almost double the number that watched 2040 Olympics Opening Ceremony in Moscow. Due to The Needle’s extreme dimensions, NASA had decided from early on that a conventional launch would not be possible. The Needle had to be designed in three parts, launched separately and assembled, for the first time ever in the history of space operations, in space.


The launch was a technological miracle; three rocket bases – one in Florida and two California- were synced to work as one mega-space launch facility and monitored by a central control room in John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida, built especially for this endeavor. The assembling lasted for exactly 17 hours and 53 minutes. It was a semi automated procedure; half of the code was already installed and executed in the brain of The Needle and the rest of the operations were undertaken by a team of specially trained mechanical engineers back on earth.


There was something deeply uncanny about the assembling room: circular in its plan, all of its walls were covered by curved retina screens showing every possible angle of the Needle’s guts; close-ups of screws, bars and switches entangled with x-rays of its circuits and power networks composed a delirious panorama of bright colors and flashing symbols. In the middle of the room, a large, round iron table reflected a robotic dummy of the Needle suspended above which, given its size, felt like a wild animal trapped in a cage. All around the table, twenty three engineers were tele-guiding components through their “assembling stations”; booths which felt like someone had enlarged an iMac G3 and drilled a hole for the head in the middle and two smaller ones on each side for the hands to be buried in. Their arms’ movements were almost imperceptible, feeling more like compulsive tics and less than conscious gestures. On the contrary, the dummy had nothing to be jealous of any Bolshoi prima ballerina; its long ends were gently describing circles in the air, feeling almost weightless, at times mimicking the silhouette of a swallow and others the grace of a peacock unfolding its feathers. If you stared at it for a long time, its skin started looking like liquid with every tiniest bit of it constantly changing places while being re-arranged.


Rumor has it that the first engineer to exit the room requested a glass of whiskey and, after chugging it all down in one breath, murmured:

“That was a hell of a surgery.”

Honorable Mention


By Vamsi Krishna Vemuri, Uttam Solanki, Kalaivanan, Jeshanth K, M.L. Keerti

Space, or Heavens as some may call it, is intimidating. The vast expanse of nothingness with an impeccable and crippling stare, will humble you beyond comprehension.


The reminder here was essential and the Great Corridor did just that. The glorious windows gave a spectacular view of the red planet as well while the new mechanobots and the aster-drills, part of the Energy of Natural Space or EoNS initiative, coursed like clock-work, after draining the asteroids of their wealth.


They resembled bees moving to a hive that collected, converted, and transferred precious, surplus energy. The ‘hive’ though was strangely much akin to a crab.


The Karkin-OS, that was so aptly named, moved slowly on the martian surface, making it visible from any part of the dome. The mega machine was easily mankind’s single greatest creation; not as a modern day marvel but as a modern day saviour from imminent destruction in what was an indefatigable energy crisis. There were petitions to call it Jes-OS.


The noise outside was deafening and the suits required to take Mars-walks were fitted with dampeners. The Corridor though was quiet except for the quick footsteps of a man and his tumbling Go-Fer, an advanced poly-alloy prototype with an AI that was more conscious than the aster-drills, which served as his aide.


The man checked his time despite having checked it only a couple of seconds ago.


“Sir, might I announce the time each second then?”


The man smiled. His Go-fer had picked up on classics from Earth and it associated itself so much to the British valets back then, that he began to mimic them. Emergent behaviour.


“Okay, wise guy, one more word out of you and we watch the metallurgical documentaries from Earth, maybe you’d pick up on some of those?”


The tapering pyramids glowed in a human equivalent of a gasp and skidded to a halt before tumbling over to his feet again.


“My word. That’s just barbaric!” It said before quieting down. The trade-off, it figured, was too severe.


The man loved the view from the Corridor, it gave him a lot of pride to watch how his family had become one of the first to save a part of humanity. His grandfather had been a rather warm person towards anyone and anything. A trait that didn’t quite coincide with him being obstinate. He submitted his proposal to Alpha Wolf Inc. in 1999 to invest in the two far-sighted visions that made space mining and space tours possible today.

Some called him crazy, most of the board did, but the man’s ingenuity was too valuable to let go, and they had voted in his favor. The asteroids held incredible loads of energy waiting to be tapped by us when the time came and it was quicker and cheaper for the stations to be in space (or in this case, Mars.)


The time came. Devastatingly, tragically. And it was every bit cataclysmic.


A hundred and twenty years later, humanity calls him The Father of Mars for EoNS.


He checked his time once more before boarding the shuttle. The shuttle went as fast as mach 13, except without completely knocking the wind out of him, he noticed an aster-drill being droopy and made a mental note for head-office. His Go-Fer pinged. And then, the thought that had been knocking inside his skull for the past 20 minutes was back: She can’t leave.



The woman couldn’t wait to go. To go back home. To the beautiful fragile planet. She watched the many blinking stars that moved slowly with the rest of the galaxy. It was the most stunning view she had ever seen in her life. Almost magical if she wasn’t a woman of science and logic.


The Balcony was filled with chattering tourists, without them, the steady beats of oxygen and air being pumped into the room would be heard. She then thought of the time she came here.


The Federation of the Fourth Fortune or FFF had been established as soon as EoNS was a go. Their first rule: The generation of tremendous amounts of energy for Earth will be permitted so long as we conserve and/or protect the fourth planet from the Sun from negligent human interference that may or may not disrupt the natural flow of its heavenly part in the galaxy.


Gluttonous milking of the proverbial cow had had its consequences on Earth. No one wanted a repeat.

As the liaison she was shipped off, so to speak, to Mars for a first-hand inspection. The woman was smart and quick to learn, even helping out in the space-engineering and terraforming department. Her suggestions had saved millions in cash and certified a better future.


Being homesick never tainted her beauty but she was miserable nevertheless.



The man reached the Balcony with Go-Fer and he too began reminiscing the first time he met her.


He had visited the woman a week after she had arrived. It was not uncommon to size up his opponent (if she was growing into one). The Vessel set up for her was humble to say the least. She had a garden that spoke of her and a mechanical Roly-Poly, an earlier model of Go-Fer, tended to it as she answered her door.


“Oh! Hello!” She had said, the shock in her eyes went away as quickly as it came. It was not every day she had the most famous man on both planets standing at her new doorstep.


The quick recovery and the confident demeanor never faded all through the signing-in. She had lovely eyes as well. He’d never told her that. He hadn’t told her a lot of things and now, five (Earth) years later, she had to go back.


He looked down at the document on his digi-Glass again, he needn’t be the one to do this, they had clerks for the sign-ups and relieving but he had to be here. He needed her to stay. And he believed that if he could make her understand how much he needs her, she will stay.

Besides, he was one of the best closers in the galaxy. It was no sweat.



A droplet of sweat rolled down his temple as he neared her. The many distant planets and stars looked a lot closer from the special windows of the Balcony. A 180-degree view at any given point was possible.


“Oh, hey, you made it. I didn’t think you’d show up,” she teased.


“Haha, Sorry, Go-Fer needed an update.” He half-glanced at Go-Fer, whose colors shot a disapproving glare.


He then cleared his throat to say something. Everything. But she had turned away to admire the window that was forever bustling with activity. She walked to the end of the room and found the blue, medium-sized sphere not bigger than a baseball with a smile embellishing her lips.


The lithe woman with chestnut skin, a trait reminiscent of the people from old south-Asia (that was now underwater like most of the southern hemisphere) stood there with her back turned towards him, facing the galaxy’s most intelligent planet: Earth.


He noticed tears welling up and a smile lingering long enough for him to understand, as much as it pained his heart, that she missed home. Her home. He felt fatuous and selfish like the ones responsible for the state of the Earth and the shame burned him.


Well, I’d always have Go-Fer he thought. It glowed red in embarrassment.


“You know, this time tomorrow, you could wave back from there.” He said walking towards her and pointing towards the blue sphere.


A streak of confusion filled her and yet she looked as beautiful to him as the first day he laid eyes upon her.


“I’m not kidding,” he laughed, “here,” he handed her the transparent Glass which sprang to life when she touched it. A storm of emotions ran through her as she read, absorbed the news, and then the walls bounced her shriek in a thousand echoes, startling the tourists. Go-Fer steadied itself behind his legs.


“I’m finally going home!”


“I thought I’d give you the good news myself,” he mustered a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Oh and uh… Your eyes are really pretty.” He said before turning away. The woman had tears of joy and though she looked forward to the Earthly sunrises, she’d miss the spectacles of space and Karkin-OS.