by Max Barry

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by The ᴛᴜʀɴᴇᴅ ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴀ ᴘᴀᴘᴀ ᴊᴏʜɴ's of Miranda-22. . 534 reads.

An Overview, and a Welcome, to the Worst Place this Side of Space


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Hey there.

Bet that was a bit surprising, huh? Yeah, you jumped. I saw you.

Don't worry about it.

You wouldn't be the first. Tends to catch most people by surprise when it turns out the station doesn't have a code to access updates anymore.

Anyways, I guess you'd like to see the actual OS now. Besides, I don't actually know how long the boot-up message can be. So I suppose I'll be puntin' you on down there now.

Ain't much use for formality out here anyways.

Just scroll down and it should load up.

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MIRANDA-22 SURVEILLANCE STATION | MANZAREK-14
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MISSION EST: 58y, 221d, 19:51 | UNIVERSAL TIME: Jan. 8, 2463

Once, Heinlein wrote about men on the moon, and how they rose up against their earthly masters to strike a blow for freedom and libertarian thought everywhere. He wrote about the fall of government, the power to be found in the stars, and the value of self-rule. He was onto something in his writing, many believe, and he's responsible for about a third of modern science-fiction and its readers' opinions on the role of the Man in one's life.

Heinlein also wrote about very, very straight free love and a man who could read people's minds through copulation, so he can go stuff it. Heinlein's full of it, and this ain't what Heinlein wrote. It's Miranda-22, baby.

Originally managed and operated by contractors of certain surveying interests beholden to the early, pre-reform Colonial Authority and then abandoned once it served its purpose, later found by some questionably-sane folks in a craft held together by duct tape and hope, Miranda-22 is a repurposed supply space station on the fringes of what can be considered the known void. The stellar system it inhabits is, kindly speaking, dirt-poor, worthless, trash, and a dime a dozen when it comes to the composition of this universe, a red dwarf orbited by a hot Neptune and a thousand other petty planetoids, passed over by more reasonable folks before its current inhabitants decided to call it home. Miranda itself is located in the only really valuable part of this lovely place, its Kuiper belt, where it sits like an ungainly mosquito on a dirty marble-pouch of ice and rock composed of twenty component asteroids dragged there by puttering spacecraft and strapped together with space-grade fishing nets, as far from the system's primary as its inhabitants never are from the bottle.

Abandoned once the system this generously-named "space" "station" was thoroughly confirmed by the Authority's surveyors to be, indeed, dirt-poor and worthless, it has since grown like a parasite into something best resembling a scaffold of spacecraft, general-use HAB-blocks, and a few "original designs" made by its new inhabitants, who themselves have been drawn to this place by a combination of opportunism, bad luck, and mechanical failure, and is now ruled over by the soft-speaking, stringy, self-appointed Port Manager Price, whose rule is cemented by two things, his silenced pistol (and lack of morals in its use) and his distillery/bar on Down 11, stocking liquor constituted from ethanol drawn from the mess of comets floating below Miranda and whatever else he could throw in to make it palatable rather than lethal to his patrons. Being only one man, of course, his generously-named "rule" is too cemented by his Deputies, similarly well-traveled and, er, chaotic figures like himself. On matters Price chooses not to weigh in on, or bother enforcing his opinions on, the remainder of the station's several hundred eccentric and unfortunate inhabitants are left to rule themselves as they see fit in a libertarian hell utopia the kind writers of the past could only dream of, and which bureaucrats of the past (and future_ could only find in their deepest, darkest, most disorderly nightmares.

Damn the man, indeed, and pass me another one, will you, barman? All this talking and thinking's making me right damn thirsty.

Oh, and by the way, did you ever patch that hole on Up-40? No? Oh, well, that's why my head's spinnin', then. Welp, tell Jerry to stuff his head in it until someone gets a patch seal, I guess. If Old Pa Vacuum's got it in for us, he'll have to get past that bloody idiot's thick skull first, and ain't nobody done that in twenty years.

(Psst, we're also part of CBG Palisade's background canon, so if you recognize any names from there, that's why.)

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