Greg Egan's "Crystal Nights" (novelette, AI, free): A retelling of Theodore Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God"
Story summary.Daniel Cliff is a rich businessman who's purchased rights to someone's private invention - a tiny optical computer that works better than buildings full of conventional ones.
He's going to run a simulation in it of a microcosmic universe - a world called Sapphire & its moon, local evolution of life, & a handle to our physical universe via a "monolith" placed on their moon (remember Clarke's "2001 A Space Odyssey"?) once they evolve enough to reach their moon. This monolith is actually a control panel for actual equipment in a physics lab in our world.
Idea is to eventually have them outsmart humans because of their much faster evolution - so they can do things for him in our world. Daniel personally has ambitions to be digitized & uploaded into their world!
Only, the simulated beings ("Phites") are now way too smart to do his bidding...
- Gregory Benford's "Reason not to Publish": What if we were in place of those simulated beings?
- James P Hogan's "Making Light": A humorous, sometimes hilarious, description of why GOD was forced to create our universe an evolving one by embedding some things called the laws of physics, in preference to standard precreated one!
- Gardner Dozois (Ed)'s "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection" (2009).
- Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s "Best SF and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 3" (2009).
Fact sheet.First published: Interzone, #215 (April 2008).
Download full text from publisher's site; or podcast at Transmission from Beyond (includes downloabable MP3 audio).
Among the nominees of BSFA Award 2008 in short fiction category.
Added to my best of the year 2008 list.
Related: Stories of Greg Egan.