(From The Forever Man, by Gordon R. Dickson)

It was unbelievable, not only that, thought Jim, it was just about indescribable.

He and Mary and Squonk were surrounded by what could only be described as a host of innumerable invisible fireflies. Ro call them fireflies and at the same time to say they were invisible was a contradiction in terms, but it was the only way of describing them. They were invisible to any physical sight – even AndFriend’s instruments did not register their presence. But his mind saw them very clearly indeed as multitudinous living points of colored lights – lights whose colors changed constantly, so that it was like standing in the midst of a rainbow in the process of sorting itself out from an endless number of tiny component parts.

And they were constantly in motion.

Not only that, but they were not only in the ship but all around it. They were in the interior space of the ship, they were partway through the hull of the ship, they were outside the ship, swarming in space and stretching off into the interstellar distance like the tail of a comet.

- They see us! Like the other one!

- That one doesn’t.

- But these two do. It’s lovely to see and be seen by you.

Their voices rang in Jim’s mind, each one different and memorable. Each one audible separately for a moment before they were drowned by a perfect roar of greetings from what sounded at the very least like hundreds of thousands of such voices, all entirely individual.


They went. It was a magnificent but surprisingly brief trip. Outside the ship as they now were, they were at the head of the comet’s tail of invisible yet rainbow-colored fireflies that were those of 1’s race which had chosen to come along. Illustration : © Megan Jorgensen