Esem Junior’s story “Siberia in Four Dimensions” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 26 March 2021.
It only took me a couple decades since high school to revisit the theory of relativity and, once I absorbed it with a more fully formed brain, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Meanwhile, no discussion of relativity can take place without reference to black holes and, lost one evening in a Möbius Strip of internet links, I came across an article on a supercollider under construction in Europe. The Swiss community had come undone by the prospect that supercolliders, theoretically, could give birth to micro black holes. While debunked, somewhat, I knew I had to write a story about this. At the same time, I had just lost a close family member, and it didn’t take long to marry those emotions with the potential craziness (or wonderfulness?) that a micro black hole could levy on the lives of people beset by grief.
When blocking out the story, I came across black-and-white photos of ancestors from 19th century Russia, complete with heavy wool coats and ushankas, and boom, I had a setting. Since I’m not a scientist, the most difficult part for me was maintaining some fidelity to the universe’s physical laws. That meant immersion in books by Brian Greene, Kip Thorne, and other physicists, and more than a few times asking stupid questions and creating bizarre hypotheticals on physics chat boards.
In the end, the story is not hard science fiction — and anyone who offered me advice on the chat boards would be mortified by what I’ve done — but the basic principles of gravity, time dilation, and relatively are fully at play and legit. In the end, this story is about a grandmother, her son, and her grandson, and the family staying connected through the interstitial spaces between known physical dimensions, despite the actions of a hostile government and the limitations of mortality.
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