A World of Hemispheres is a science-fiction novella by A.K. Anthony. The work remained unpublished and was destroyed by the author. The excerpts published here were reconstructed using CT scans and chemical analysis of the burnt archival remains, with additional context supplied from Anthony’s application for a work subsidy from the Foundation for Literature. In that application, the author describes A World of Hemispheres as a commentary on the romantic ideal of love, as formulated by Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium.
The action opens with signals reaching the Earth from a planet in the habitable zone around Alpha Centauri A, the largest star in the Centauri system, which also contains Alpha Centauri B and Proxima Centauri. This world is dubbed the Twin, as the land and water masses bear a strong resemblance to the Earth before the climate catastrophe. The signals are from humanoid creatures who want to lend their interstellar brothers and sisters a helping hand. The international community sends a mission to the Twin, crewed by seven astronauts. The protagonist is Cass, an exobiologist.
(…) Cass saw the Twin appear before the portholes, a virgin world in green and blue. Centauri A clearly illuminated the planet’s surface – the coastlines, mountain peaks, rivers, savannahs and rainforests had the unreal resolution of reality. Centauri B hung at the back of the planet, shrouding it in a dim twilight (…) different patterns of day and night and, Cass suspected, a more complex language to capture the subtleties of those shades. (…) stiffness from the cryogenic sleep was not confined to her muscles and bones, her thoughts, too, felt sluggish because of the chill. (…) Karlson sat down at the navigation AI, plugged in and began to murmur in a tone that indicated he was busy talking to the ship. Amadea took a seat at the control column. (…)
After landing, the astronauts find themselves in an arcadian landscape where humanoids who look like catwalk models are entertaining themselves with drinking sprees and sex. All the crew members soon encounter a soulmate, with whom they merge, telepathically and sexually. All except for Cass.
(…) walked through the forest village, sulking. They had been welcomed as saviours, and her colleagues had already surrendered to that reception, but something was not right. (…) Karlson had taunted her: if her explanatory models fell short, it was time to develop other models that supported the observations. (…) that exasperating grin on his face, which was due to the creature he was slavering over like some adolescent. They penetrated each other’s bodies in every possible way, physically and mentally. Twin souls. (…)
The humanoids urge their other halves to send word to the doomed Earth. There are soulmates here for every human, they say, and no one will ever have to be alone again.
(…) the night landscape a dream-like tinge. As quietly as possible, Cass tried to follow Amadea through the tall grass. On a beach by a lake, Amadea met her twin soul, a being with a muscular body, an angular jawline, a (…) lay down to dry on the sand in the moonlight and the summer breeze, stroking Amadea’s sickly pale skin with his alien fingers, kissing her nipples (…) in ecstasy, she clamped his head between her legs, where he lapped at her like a seasoned porn actor. Cass wanted to look away, but she couldn’t. It disgusted her, not like some puritan, but as an exobiologist. She was disgusted by the fingers penetrating Amadea, by his lips like a suction cup around her clitoris (…) lying beneath now, his face pressed firmly between Amadea’s buttocks, as she held his sizeable penis with one hand (…) where did she put it all, Cass wondered, when Amadea managed to take the penis in her mouth right up to its root, a sword swallower (…) with a vacant look in his unhuman eyes he drilled his penis right through her skull, and now Amadea hung there, impaled on his member, a lifeless ragdoll (…) her heart in her mouth, the acid of regurgitation, she saw the murderer begin to melt like fat on a barbecue. Amadea collapsed into his body, which slowly absorbed her. Soon after that, the sand also became soft, quicksand into which their collective organic mass disappeared (…)
When Cass talks about what she’s seen, there are concerns for her mental health. Amadea is taking a boat trip with her twin soul, or so they say, to an island where lovers can ‘take pleasure in each other’. (The humanoids may have prepared for the humans’ arrival by watching cheap TV shows.)
(…) middle of the day, everyone would be able to see them, and yet Karlson lay there in the clearing in the forest, licking away (…) trying to push his long tongue as deep as possible into her vagina (…) planting his nails into her thighs, bracing his large feet in the grass. And then the dilation, a dilation that turned his twin soul’s pelvis into a big pink mouth feasting on the pitiful lolly of his head. Karlson tried in panic to push himself away with his hands, but the vagina closed like a fist, snapping Karlson’s neck. (…) again the twin soul became soft, again the amorphous form flowed around the corpse, again the symbiosis seeped into the soil, one with the ground. (…) she didn’t know why she was still watching. No, she did know – she was an exobiologist and she wanted to understand this life form.
When Cass attempts to barricade herself in the ship to send warning signals to the Earth, where preparations are being made for a mass migration to the Twin, the humanoids prevent this by resorting to a gruesome gang rape.
(…) while her whole body was pain, and powerlessness, it felt as if her mind had moved to a room where only she existed. (…) in the safety of her private thoughts, she suddenly understood what this world, this lust, was all about. Not sex, but hunger. Soon, when the migration from the depleted Earth was complete, all humans would be consumed by the planet itself, an unfathomable intelligence that had harnessed its chameleon-like form to simulate the most attractive circumstances for the poor souls it had targeted. This, then, was what it took to outwit humankind. (…) foolish longing for a perfect union. She couldn’t help laughing, as deep inside her bruised, torn body their tissue hardened (…)