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Sports of one sort or another go back into distant prehistory, and have probably been around ever since something at least vaguely recognizable as a human being came down from the trees to walk on the open savanna (and perhaps before! Jump-tag from branch to branch was probably a favorite sport for our chittering insectivore ancestors). Certainly games resembling checkers or chess go back into ancient Egypt and Sumer, and there’s evidence for dice games stretching back into the Neolithic—and, although they leave fewer traces for archaeologists to dig up, I’m willing to bet that chase-and-fight games reminiscent of soccer or football have a heritage going back into the Ice Age as well, wherever there was an open field, good summer weather, and some restless hormone-drenched young hunters with time on their hands.

And probably sports will remain an important part of human existence for hundreds or even thousands of years to come. As long as we remain recognizably human, as we understand the term (brains floating in vats or disembodied computer-simulations made of data and pixels are probably not going to want to go out in the backyard and kick a ball around), sports will be part of our lives—whether they’re high-tech variants of the familiar sports we see today on television, or yet-to-be-invented sports suited for life in space, or in zero-gee environments, or on other worlds.

So open up the pages of this book and let some of science fiction’s most expert dreamers take you into the sporting worlds of the future, where you will find baseball being played on the low-gravity diamonds of Mars, football players genetically engineered for superhuman speed and strength, basketball players who download their playing skills from computer chips, Sumo wrestlers who clash minds instead of bodies, cyborg zombie boxers of immense stamina and strength, tests of strength and skill that pit humans against aliens, spaceship races across a course as big as the solar system, gameworlds created by science where the stake is life itself . . .

No matter how much the details change, though, with sports, even future sports, one thing will always remain the same: There will be winners. And losers. And those who are willing to risk it all for a chance to be better than anyone else can be . . .


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