This one’s from a colleague at work – “I send my books out into the universe”.
On space-ships. Through portals. On the colony transporters carrying thousands of sleeping passengers. On the cargo freighters picking up minerals from the asteroid belts and ice from the far-out moons before beginning their run back. On the orbiting stations above alien planets, circling above long-dead surfaces. On tiny skimmers flitting across the planet’s surface, darting there and back again.
The paper has been well-thumbed – maybe enough that you now have to wear gloves, or use a tool to turn the pages, so that you don’t wear the print off for someone else. There’s a box, or a shelf, or an alcove on every vessel; crammed with the crew’s choices, their precious sheets. There’s always someone amongst the team who knows how to repair a binding, or can coax the printer to spit out new pages to paste between the worn plastic covers. They are treasured, patched and repaired, bound and bandaged, to be read and worn down again and again.
They read in their bunks. In the long hours between asteroids. In the silence of the stars. In the howling storms of alien worlds, the bright sunshine of the galaxies, the darkness of space. On new worlds, deep under the crust or in new settlements on the hills, high above the surface or somewhere on the endless ice-plains. They read between customers at the dive-bars on the docking-station, before starting the day fishing on the narrow seas, after crossing unimaginable distances and back again.
No matter where they travel, stories go with them, and the scraps of paper and plastic are a better dimension to other worlds than any they can imagine in their own.