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mars

The Future God

by Brett Abrahamsen

I have 80,560 children. Most of them live on colonies on Mars, or in underground tunnels.

I have spent most of my life hooked up to reproductive devices. The purpose of these devices was to get as much sperm from the objects they were hooked up to as they possibly could.

The Dictator of Mars declared that anyone who removed themselves from their reproductive devices would face capital punishment – an order which produced children at alarming rates. Sometimes, there was so much consciousness that one person experienced two people’s thoughts at the same time. There was enough consciousness that no one could really tell whom it belonged to anymore.

What did the Dictator of Mars do with all of his subjects? He started a religion.

He called his religion the Holy Church of the Religion that Hasn’t Been Founded Yet. He explained his reasoning as follows: religions were constantly dying out and being replaced with better ones. Hence, it was obvious that in the future, a religion would be invented that was better than any religion that existed in the present.

He declared The Holy Church of the Religion that Hasn’t Been Founded Yet as the official state religion, the 100% truthful religion of the future. It was obvious that at some point a religion would be invented that was 100% theologically correct, even if it would take millions of years – and even if there were many more imperfect future religions (though getting progressively closer to perfection) yet to be invented.

It was also important to note the existence, or the lack thereof, of an afterlife. If there is no afterlife, to everyone who isn’t alive it will seem to them as if the universe never existed at all. All of the good fortune that caused them to be alive would seem not to matter.

The truth was this: the thing that happens after you die can be described as a burning sensation. However, no one knows whether this burning is the result of a very sadistic god, or the result of the process of death distorting the remnants of consciousness, so as to create a burning sensation.

Of course, this was the most theologically accurate piece of information in the entire Bible. However, everyone felt it – Christians and non-Christians.

The promise of eternal burning did not prevent anyone from believing in the Holy Church of the Religion that Hasn’t Been Founded Yet, since everyone – as is always the case with religion – wanted to believe in the Absolute Truth, not in what was convenient or pleasant.

At church meetings, children played games, and guessed at what the exciting Future Religion might be. “The truth”, said the Dictator of Mars.

One of the games looked like a particle simulation. The Dictator of Mars told us that if we tried very hard, we could simulate how the first particles came to exist in the universe, from seeming nothingness.

“I still don’t get it”, I said.

“By trying very hard – that is how the first particles came to exist”, the Dictator of Mars said.

One of the ironies concerning the Holy Church of the Religion that Hasn’t Been Founded Yet was that the discovery of any kind of truth would end the religion entirely. There wouldn’t be any more future truths to believe in.

The universal symbol of the Holy Church of the Religion that Hasn’t Been Founded Yet was this:

?

It was a sacred symbol. People placed it on the bumpers of their mini-cars. The fertilization wards were inscribed with it, too.

The universal symbol of sacrilege and blasphemy was the symbol of certainty, of closure. The symbol was this:

.

Another thing we used to think about was: who the discoverer of this future truth might be. We had to pray to this person, even though we didn’t know who they were yet.

The adherents of the Holy Church of the Religion that Hasn’t Been Founded Yet weren’t sure at all. They knew that any kind of certainty would most likely make them wrong, like all the past religions had been.

It should be noted that theology was very important to the Dictator of Mars. If there was no God, the Dictator of Mars was the most powerful thing in the whole universe. If there was a God, the Dictator’s power was close to irrelevant.

The Dictator of Mars did not like this. He said, “It is now the future, and I have discovered the truth”. And he started the Holy Church of the Religion that Has Now Been Founded.

~

Bio:

Brett Abrahamsen resides in Saratoga Springs, NY, and has written a number of speculative fiction stories. His favorite topics include alternate histories, philosophy, and evolution. He prefers the flash fiction medium, at under 2000 words.

Red Card

by Madeline Barnicle

FIFA and the AUNZ organizing committee thank fans and players around the world for the trust you have placed in us. We look forward to hosting the following World Cup, and we trust that the forty-eight finalists will compete in the spirit of fair play and friendship.

After much deliberation, the organizing committee has declined to accept the application of the Autonomous Martian Territories (hereafter, “Mars”) to compete in the qualifying tournament. We recognize that this decision will be disappointing to many. This is a reflection of current FIFA policies, and we do not intend it to set a precedent for other sports governing bodies.

FIFA traditionally has six continental zones, or regions, from which teams qualify. (Because New Zealand will qualify automatically as co-hosts, and Australia are currently affiliated with the Asian zone, the remaining Oceania Football Confederation teams have been exceptionally drawn against other Asian teams for this tournament.) Mars, for somewhat obvious reasons, does not have an existing affiliation with any continental federation. This is not an insurmountable barrier, however; despite geographical constraints, Israel has been variously part of the Asian, Oceanian, and European federations.

Assuming an existing federation was willing to allow the Martian team entry, qualification would likely require them to play home-and-away legs against some or all of the other competitors in that zone. Many teams have voiced their opposition to travelling to space for competitive or even unofficial matches; notably, the friendly match scheduled between clubs FC Barcelona and Bayern München at the RoyCro Multiplex was cancelled after athletes expressed concern that the travel would needlessly disrupt their training regimen. Many fan organizations also noted that, while a potential revenue opportunity for the clubs, the match would have been played almost entirely in front of residents of the United States Lunar Territories and have been inaccessible to local supporter groups. After that controversy, national teams such as Scotland and Chinese Taipei preemptively declared they would not be willing to travel to matches in non-Earth areas until a more consistent policy was implemented for which teams qualified as “national.” (FIFA does not intend this document to resolve that question.)

We have been in consultation with the current Mars staff as they applied for participation. It was impossible to travel to inspect their stadiums or training facilities, as accepting funds for travel to Mars would have far exceeded the stipends permitted in the Transparency and Oversight Standards of 2033. However, the virtual reality reconstructions of these buildings suggest that they are well-maintained and in compliance with regulations. If and when travel to Mars is feasible for opposing teams, there will be little significant investment needed to bring the pitches up to international standard. The altered uniforms and artificial grasslike fields may present a challenge for visitors unused to this terrain, but it is not an unreasonable disadvantage since the pitch conditions affect both teams equally. Therefore, as with Bolivia’s high-altitude stadium, it should be possible to host games.

Fabrice Ekoko, a former manager of the Mars team, has stated that they would be willing to remain Earthside for several months to play their qualification matches in an abbreviated timeframe. The 2025 guidelines on scheduling international matches were written in the context of players who split time between their national teams and domestic clubs. Because the Martian league is not professionalized, we expect that clubs would be willing to release their players for such a compressed qualifying series, so the guidelines could be waived in this case.

However, we believe that the World Cup is not only a celebration of athleticism; it is also a celebration of national spirit. Regardless of its political status, a team unable to play any games in a “home” stadium in front of compatriots is not fully experiencing the opportunity for peaceful competition that the World Cup provides. There are a few exceptions, such as Iraq, where political violence has sometimes made home games impractical. Mars, however, is very socially stable and its population can experience spectator sport in venues other than the World Cup. Rather than make accommodations for a lessened experience, we believe Mars ought to wait until it has the transit infrastructure to play meaningful games against opposing teams, wherever that may be.

It is likely that, were the Mars men’s national team approved to participate in World Cup qualification, their women’s team would also apply to the next Women’s World Cup tournament. However, young men and women are not always on equal footing when it comes to interplanetary travel. Samples of liability contracts from Martian settlements such as Borealis III and 6 Noach suggest that many more women than men have voluntarily agreed to forgo extramartian travel as a condition of their sponsorship, due to concerns about the effects of radiation on egg cells. Certainly, the details of any specific individual, footballers or otherwise, are private matters. Nevertheless, in a roster of twenty-three healthy athletes, it is likely that at least one would be contractually obliged not to play matches on Earth. Giving male players the opportunity to repeatedly travel, when their female counterparts do not necessarily have that right, would be at odds with FIFA’s mission of promoting diversity in sport.

Other sports’ governing bodies have taken, and will continue to take, different approaches to extraterrestrial sport. For individual rather than team sports, it is increasingly likely that financially-independent athletes will travel to and from Earth in the course of their career. The IWF recognizes its own set of weightlifting records set on the moon and on Mars, which exist alongside the records set in Earth gravity. Table tennis player Sung Bowen competed as an Independent Martian Athlete at the last Summer Olympics. FIFA will continue to monitor the challenges and rewards of non-Earth football, but with the upcoming qualification cycle about to begin, now is the time to issue clear guidelines on eligibility. Questions may be directed to Eileen Bogaerts of the AUNZ team or Gabriel Lopez of FIFA.

~

Bio:

Madeline Barnicle holds a PhD in mathematical logic from UCLA, and now lives in Maryland. She enjoys worldbuilding fantastical settings, especially simulating their sports leagues.