Edgar Quimby

We submitted His Name Was Edgar Quimby to Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.


In this short story a journalism student takes to a mental hospital seeking the little nuggets of truth inside the stories of patients which are far outside of reality. The doctor recommends Edgar Quimby, whose story has not wavered in over 50 years. He’s scheduled for a lobotomy the next day, so what harm could come from feeding into his delusions?

Edgar is from another planet. His real name wasn’t Edgar. When he traveled from his home planet, which was destroyed when it’s star went supernova, he and his mate came as souls without a bodies. After a freak accident, he ended up reborn as Edgar, separated from his soul mate and has been searching for her ever since.

If this isn’t interesting enough, the doctor that has been treating him for years frustratedly points out all the coincidences in Edgar’s life that he must have distorted into his delusions.

Anyway, today Asimov’s rejected it. They never say why, they just do.

Now, Edgar Quimby can be submitted elsewhere, or shared, or shelved until our anthology is complete.

UPDATE: We decided to self-publish this story. Amazon and Smashwords.


4 thoughts on “Edgar Quimby

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  1. My first thought was, “Putting that big Asimov’s logo in the blog post looks a little cheeky; are you sure you should be doing that?”

    My second thought was, “How well did you research what happens when a star goes supernova?” Because I imagine a magazine like Asimov’s would care about plausible science (Isaac Asimov certainly did), and if the editors read your story and thought, “Um, no, that’s not how supernovas work” then no wonder they rejected it.

    For a start, supernovas don’t just happen. If there was ever life on a planet orbiting a star that was destined go supernova, it would have been killed off long before when the star became a red supergiant. Also, because such stars are short-lived, there wouldn’t be much time for life to evolve (unless maybe Edgar’s ancestors were themselves colonists).

    There are other ways to get a supernova, but these have their own problems. Does your story address these challenges?


    1. No, it takes billions of years for life to evolve. In a million years you can evolve from a small animal who eats peanuts to a large animal who eats people (there was recently a report about a shark-like creature that evolved only a million years after most life on Earth was wiped out) but it takes a lot longer to evolve completely different types of life from scratch.

      Very roughly, on Earth you have the earliest signs of life about 4 billion years ago, the first complex cells and multicellular life about 2 billion years ago, the first sexual reproduction about 1 billion years ago, the Cambrian Explosion and all that about half a billion years ago, and as a time traveller I can tell you that the first civilisation flourished about a quarter of a billion years ago. (They all died, sadly.)

      In your scenario, you have life evolving in an ocean inside an ice planet that happens to be orbiting a massive star, though the inhabitants don’t care about that because their energy source is internal. So far so good. Then the star explodes into a red supergiant, the whole environment changes, and almost all life is wiped out. But something survives, and adapts, and colonises the land, where it is able to evolve the kinds of intelligence you can only evolve on land, where you can see the horizon and can plan your actions based on what you see.

      OK, let’s say that’s mostly possible (good enough for science fiction). I’d still estimate that you’d want at least a quarter of a billion years to evolve intelligence (that’s if you basically win the lottery, but in an infinite universe someone has to), and that’s not your biggest problem. Your biggest problem is that a red supergiant would not have a stable goldilocks zone at all. These stars are unstable and would be sometimes hotter, sometimes cooler, so the goldilocks zone (such as it is) would pulsate in and out. Not good news if you’re depending on the star to stay alive.

      I don’t really know that much, so you should definitely seek other people’s opinions.

      P.S. Titan is the one with the methane. Europa is the one with the water.


  2. Carl Sagan said that life could evolve around a red giant, the only problem was that once they were advanced enough to define a supernova, they were unlikely to see one.
    He was an astrophysicist, astrobiologist, and the Smithsonian went as far as to say, “We live in Carl Sagan’s universe.”
    It was this one quote that I heard as a kid on the show ‘Cosmos’ that I based this entire story off of. Could Carl Sagan have been wrong? Certainly. Is he more of an authority on the heavens than Adrian? Possibly.
    All that aside, this is a work of fiction. Edgar Quimby isn’t real, we made him up!
    Also you can’t ever say never or couldn’t, because one thing science always proves, is that life will find a way.


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