|Media type||Print (|
|Publication date||May 1956|
"Living Space" is a
Clarence Rimbro owns the entire planet Earth. This is no great accomplishment as, thousands of years in our future, anyone can do it. There are an infinite number of possible Earths, each existing in its own parallel universe. If the chance of life arising on any one of them is about 50%, then half the time a random choice of a parallel universe will lead to a dead Earth. Since there are a trillion people living in this time, it would be almost impossible for them to live on one Earth, so each family sets up its house and garden, protected by a force field and running on solar power, on a dead Earth. Clarence enjoys total independence for his family, and an entire planet's worth of living space. As there are still an infinite number of dead Earths, they can never be filled up, and nobody is worried about the population becoming two trillion in fifty years or so.
Clarence finds he has a problem. There are noises and rumbling disturbing the silence of his domain. Naturally, he does what people usually do, and complains to the authorities. At the Housing Bureau are two co-workers; Bill Ching, who believes fervently in the parallel Earths as the solution, and Alec Mishnoff, who worries about something he only hints at to others. Both agree to visit Clarence's Earth to check out the mysterious sounds. With a
Mishnoff, with his own agenda, sets out in a protective suit into the
After a confusing conversation, Mishnoff realizes that the man is from a parallel Earth where
After Ching leaves, Berg asks Mishnoff about his own theory, the one he refuses to share. Mishnoff, it turns out, is concerned about the probability that life in some universe will arise somewhere other than Earth, and will find its way to his Earth through the portal on one of the dead Earths. The odds are low, of course, but there are now hundreds of billions of dead Earths occupied by a single house. Just then Ching rushes in with another customer complaint - someone is worried about the red creatures with tentacles who are peering into his glasshouse.