Galaxy follows galaxy in endless succession as a rocket trails its course through the cosmos. Set at various heights and depths, they are superimposed over one another as seen from various perspectives above them, and if one looks up from this perspective there are still more galaxies; looking downward they seem endless too. Not that there are any ups and downs in space; the traveller there sets his own bearings.
Surprisingly, each new part of space has its own qualities. Far beyond Alpha Centuri, space and time are commingled, creating new sensations of things. At first, in this commingling, it is almost like pumice, or creel, but then things as they are, or have been, are going through great transformations into the unknown.
The crew of the starship OBLIVION had been watching this cosmic array timelessly as they travelled through the commingling I was talking about, and into its results, and they were laughing about the place they had come from and the primitivity of its inhabitants, in comparison to themselves.
"Mud Daubers," sneered Akron Akinnis, the co-pilot of the craft. "If they thought up a planet themselves, it would be a flat expanse of thin, viscuous mud, and the people populating it would do mud things, and just stay like that until accounts were called."
"That's right - there wouldn't be anything on it!" Simony Jake, a mechanic, carolled. "They'd just build mud edifices and roll in mud for their recreation. Their geniuses would have discovered how to congeal and bake mud!"
"They'd develop writing," the astrogator, Carl bin Leyden, opined. "Graphite would be a substance that would evolve out of the mud. Paper? Some other creator would look at the mud and think of that substance to compare with it. It would lay around on the surface of the mud until graphite was discovered."
They all laughed, deep rumbling laughter that crescendoed into gay peals. Finally Akinnis said, "Well, let's not laugh TOO hard. Out here where things are so different, we might start to miss - what was the name of it again? Oh, yeah, Earth. Good old Earth." He thought over the phrase he'd used, looking like it was a very unsatisfactory description. Oh well, he decided at length, it was good enough. Good, though? If you thought over calling Earth "good" long enough, you'd forget what "good" was supposed to mean. And it wasn't THAT old. Some of this stuff out here was probably older. Older? Older like his big brother had been - a man capable of driving any car, or, if not, capable of driving a car. Being in space like this brought back a lot of memories of his early life. His brother would have been at a loss in a spaceship.
This crew with which he travelled had the sand required to be travellers in far space. They could stand up to the changes and the threats. Akinnis looked them over. A mighty rough lot. He'd trust them with some monumental tasks. There'd be a lot of those if they ever landed anywhere. Survival itself would probably be a monumental undertaking. Landing. He thought the word over. They'd be some real landed gentry if they ever landed.
Out in space there often aren't many dangers. There are no people around for any amount of distance and if one avoids hitting any of the material found in the void, meteors would be a good example of this, there is little to do but look at the sights. Here, where space merged with time, and in a manner by no means unpleasant, it would be thought that the dangers were even fewer; but that would be a matter of controversy for any amount of time, for although the dangers might not be definable as standard dangers, they were multitudinous. For example, as the crew watched the sights, they were in turn being watched by the sights. The inhabitants of this part of the cosmos identified with the spatial apparitions the crew was viewing. The crew could have counted on trouble, had they but observed in their turn this observation and delved into the nature of it. The beings of these far reaches were involved in some discussion of what they were seeing.
"They have 'size' and 'materiality.' This makes them almost invisible to us." As if having a spacecraft were indeed a form of craft. "But the impactness of their circle of being is certainly apparent to us. There's a lot of trouble, though, in discovering what and where they were, not so?"
"Of course it is so, just exactly that way. What are they? Where have they come from? Doubtless we shall learn that they are from the Green Galaxy, the one where an immobile life form dominates all surfaces and has that color. Haven't they been here before?"
"Yes, they have, in the sense of being here now. It has a sort of 'before' effect for them to be here at all, due to their materialistic definiteness. Pass me some 'schlurr'."
His request was for a certain cosmic effect to be manifested for his contemplative enjoyment. From where they were, the crew noted the schlurr as a minor cosmic phenomenon which had a sort of drifting effect.
"My observation is that they would be unapproachable but by their own means." He was enjoying his schlurr. "Therefore a study of their ways should lead to the development of a means of presenting ourselves which would resemble them."
Mindful of the probability of this viewpoint, they came up with a fully-manned spacecraft upon which each crew member was a representation of one of themselves. This crew practiced individual communication as it was put on an intercept trajectory. They had found it expedient to create a crew which would conflict with their visitors, conflict being the friction which begets social intercourse.
Merely one of the dangers that could be found in this totally new system, if system it was.