Some people think that being out alone in the void must be exceptionally lonely. Those are the people who have never realized how lonely a crowded room can be, how desolate a busy city square appears to someone whose pursuits are of the mind.

Out here, on the ragged edge of the void and what is known, I am immersed in a crucible of creation. I can marvel at sights that no one else has ever seen or will ever see, sights no better or worse off for having been observed. Glistening nebulas in the dark, stars in the throes of a violent death, black holes messily devouring entire solar systems.

The most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen is a binary star rising over a planetary ring on an Earth sized world. With a blue star and a red star set against rings of shimmering gold, and of vast plain filled with spindly biomass almost resembling Earth’s fields, I lingered for almost an hour, speechless.

I think in that perhaps the most striking thing about that vista were the strands of gossamer poison in the air. It was a cyanide-based ecosystem, one without a planetary magnetic field of any size to keep hard radiation at bay. Literally everything in that gorgeous tableau was capable of ending my life, and even the hour that I did stay wreathed in an environment suit probably shortened my life by a year or more.

But it was worth it.

The most beautiful sort of deadly loneliness.

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