Author : Bob Newbell

Four minutes. That’s how much longer I have to be human. Or, if things don’t go as planned, to be alive. I could have elected to be anesthetized for the procedure. If I had and anything went wrong, I’d never know it. I’d simply never wake up. But I chose to remain conscious for the transformation. Death will be almost instantaneous if this doesn’t work. And if it does work, I want to be wide awake and remember the moment when I became…something else.

How long has it been since anyone underwent a totally novel transformation? It must be nearly 300 Earth years. Yes, that sounds about right: around the year 2700. The first settlers on Venus. That was a particularly difficult one. Surface temperatures over 460°C and an atmospheric pressure almost 100 times that of Earth. It took the bioengineers even longer to transform people to live on Venus than it took them to adapt a human subspecies for life in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Not every world is a Mars or a Titan that will let you get by with only a moderate amount of biological transfiguration. Even the people who live on Luna still look vaguely like humans from Earth. The extremophile worlds just don’t tolerate much evolutionary baggage.

Just over two minutes. They told me the neural scanners will continue operating right up to the end. Theoretically, I shouldn’t notice any “interruption” of my consciousness. From my perspective, one moment I’ll be here in the ship and the next I’ll be out there, neither the spacecraft nor my original body surviving the transformation.

In my new form (again, theoretically) I should be virtually ageless. If that’s true, maybe I’ll live long enough to see the human race, in all its various forms, finally achieve the age-old dream of traveling to the stars. It’s hard to believe that after a thousand years of spaceflight, we’ve still never succeeded in reaching even the nearest star system. Multigeneration ships, suspended animation craft, near-light-speed vessels, countless schemes to create wormholes and space-warp corridors. And yet no one who has ever tried to cross the gulf between the stars has ever signaled back that they made it. But surely humanity won’t be confined to one solar system forever. One day mankind will leave the cradle and take its place among–

Transformation! It worked! My personality and memory are intact, preserved in a network of magnetically-woven plasma. I am vast. How could that infinitesimal creature I was a moment ago have ever been me? I can…”see” isn’t the right word. I can perceive the last remnants of the spaceship that brought me here vaporizing. And here’s a 500 kilometer wide spicule jetting alongside me at 20 kilometers per second, but to me it feels like a pleasant breeze. Now, I have to modulate the local EM field to emit a radio signal to let them know we’ve succeeded. After three centuries of stagnation, humanity has slipped the bonds of planets and moons and comets. Mankind has finally colonized the Sun!

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