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Bubbles by David Brin

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"Bubbles" is a 1987 science fiction short story by David Brin. It is about a huge robotic trader that gets stranded between galaxies.

Being Stranded Sucks!

Have you ever been stranded in the middle of no where? I have, and although it was interesting it wasn’t very much fun trying to get back to where I belonged. I ended up walking 20+ miles through the night just to get to a telephone where I could call my family! Whew, I’m glad that is over, but here is a story of a traveller who gets so stranded that even mundane little statistics become in-proportionately important.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Andromeda galaxy

Serena is a Grand Voyageur – a gigantic, robotic explorer / trader that travels between galaxies shuttling goods from one civilization to another. It is an interesting and fascinating life, and every once in a while she gets to meet up with others of her kind to swap stories. Now, however, she is truly and sincerely stuck. You see there was a malfunction and she has been deposited in the space between galaxies. She is so far away from anything that she can’t even tell if she is moving. She finally determines that she is closer to the center of the “bubble” between galaxies than she is to any one galaxy, and as she moves towards this mystical point she is extremely surprised by what she finds!

Some Interesting Tidbits

  • Word count: 4,403 (9 pages)
  • Did you know that David Brin has a Ph.D. in Space Physics? Yep. You can learn more about this talented and brilliant author on his web site.
  • Want to learn more about galaxies and the relationship between their sizes and the distances between them? Then check out this excellent page by the Hong Kong University’s department of physics.

Where To Find Bubbles

  • This short story was first published in the 1987 anthology The Universe.
  • You can read "Bubbles" for free online at Lightspeed Magazine.
  • It is also included in Brin’s short story collection Otherness.

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you liked "Bubbles" then you may also enjoy “Little Lost Robot” by Paul McAuley – about a huge robotic war machine that cruises the galaxy destroying all intelligent life forms it finds.