James Franco(s) at the Edge of the Universe

By Brubaker, James | Michigan Quarterly Review, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

James Franco(s) at the Edge of the Universe


Brubaker, James, Michigan Quarterly Review


1. At first, there were skeptics

Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947. Three centuries later, actor, writer, director, and philanthropist James Franco broke the Metric Expansion Barrier and traversed the edge of the universe. Skeptics were quick to question the reports of Franco's achievement as they were certain that the universe was closed and spherical, meaning there should have been no edge for a ship to traverse. When the flight to break the Metric Expansion Barrier was conceived, the goal of scientists and physicists was to build a spacecraft fast enough to circumvent the expanding universe and arrive back at its launch point from the direction roughly opposite that of the ship's departure.

These skeptics also argued that James Franco could not have possibly been the pilot of such a mission because James Franco was born in the late twentieth century, and the Metric Expansion Barrier wasn't broken until the twenty-third century. The skeptics' protests were worthy, indeed. Nobody knew how James Franco was still alive, or why he would even want to break the Metric Expansion Barrier. When James Franco was interviewed in the days leading up to his flight, the actor described his desire to break the Barrier as "a hunger." Because hunger had largely been eradicated by the twenty - third century, most who read the interview were confused by this metaphor until a scholar of twenty-first century culture wrote an essay describing the concept of hunger and explaining why it was an applicable metaphor due to Franco's compulsive involvement with many different art forms throughout his career.

Ultimately, despite the validity of the skeptics' concerns, they were unable to convince others that James Franco's flight did not occur exactly as stated by the public record. As several generations passed between the start of Franco's flight and the discovery that his spacecraft arrived at the edge of the universe, the skeptics had little evidence to support their claims. Conversely, to confirm that James Franco did, in fact, break the Metric Expansion Barrier, those who believed that Franco made the flight had the aforementioned interview and a photograph of Franco, decked out in a flight suit, sporting a neatly trimmed goatee, waving from the hatch of his spacecraft moments before his flight. Like the skeptics themselves, their claims soon died. This is for the best because, as it happens, this time the skeptics were wrong.

2. The public record

On the morning of April 5, 2263 AD, James Franco left Earth in a small, warp-capable spacecraft, intending to circumnavigate the universe and arrive back at Earth. Franco's spacecraft consisted of a cockpit and a small living area with a bed, a food synthesizer, and a waste extraction facility.

Using a vast array of satellites, high-powered telescopes, sensor arrays, and space stations, Earth's Mission Control tracked much of James Franco's progress. Because of the great distance James Franco was traveling, his flight was monitored by several generations of mission control specialists. This was possible because of time dilation, meaning that James Franco's velocity caused him to age slower than people who were not traveling faster than the speed of light. Once James Franco was beyond the reach of Mission Control's sensors, his ship's flight recorder transmitted a constant stream of data to the nearest space station, which then relayed information back to Earth. It was thanks to this transmitted data that Mission Control witnessed James Franco's arrival at, and traversal of, the edge of the universe.

The details and video quality of Franco's voyage were murky, which fueled the initial burst of skepticism regarding Franco's flight. The data from James Franco's flight recorder showed only the rapid approach of a large, silver barrier. Sensors detected the barrier's presence, but nothing of its composition. When sensors detect nothing, they are usually still detecting radiation, light, and minute particles of space debris. …

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