Our Kickstarter successfully funded! Thanks to all who contributed!

TIER 1: Marooned Astronaut

Congrats! You are an astronaut marooned on an oxygen-rich planet teeming with gigantic predators. You know your days are numbered, but being a good person, you would like to leave something to posterity before you go. Only thing is, you’ve spent all your money on cheap booze and space cigarettes.

Damn space cigarettes.

You open your phone and view your bank balance via some crazy space technology that hasn’t been invented yet. You have $1 USD left. U.S. currency is practically worthless where you’re from, but you think it might make someone happy in the year of your birth: 2020. You log on to the Time Traveler’s Internet, pick a Kickstarter project at random, and pledge the $1. Dark Matter Magazine is the lucky winner. Since you are from the future and will be dead soon anyway, you have no need for a physical reward. Seeding the science fiction arts is reward enough. Thank you, kind space explorer. We will cherish this dollar forever. RIP.

TIER 2: Cyberpunk Drifter

Congrats! You are a cyberpunk drifter who has found themselves running food delivery for a scummy app company that makes money exclusively off user data. Back in the early 2020’s, blockchain technology had promised to put ownership of personal data back into the hands of the user, but dark money worked hard to squash this pesky promise of digital egalitarianism before the corporate structures too-big-to-fail could lose their Armani shirts. Now you’re stuck running trans fats around the metro so your employer can sell a breakdown of the customer’s food faves to the highest bidder.

Data says…More high-fructose corn syrup!

You drop the food off at the customer’s door. He looks dead behind the eyes, but he’s polite and tips you $5 for a $10 order from a place just around the corner–not bad. Something comes over you–you tell him to keep it. The guy happens to be our Lead Designer in the future, so you just gave us $5. In return, he gives you a free digital download of our first issue.

TIER 3: Gregarious Junk Peddler

Congrats! You are the sole proprietor of a post-apocalyptic junk shop. Life sucks, but not for you. Even in these dark times, you maintain a jolly disposition, and in a world where friendship is a dirty word, you are universally liked. You’re also a skilled trader, which is necessary for any shopkeeper operating in a world where federal currency is dead and bartering is once again king. Then one day a little orphan girl cautiously approaches your vendor stall. She hands you a rusted bolt she found while digging through some trash for food.

“What can I get for this,” she asks.

You pretend to eye her offer seriously. The bolt is worthless, of course. The child is just desperate for it to have value. You look to a locked box. It holds your most prized possession: a disk containing the last 3 copies of Dark Matter Magazine. You inherited it from your grandfather. He spent $12 decades ago for these copies, and they’re now worth millions. You give the box to the girl with a smile.

TIER 4: Malfunctioning Archivist

Congrats! You are a robot archivist that works in the Library of Congress, and you are in desperate need of repair. Unfortunately for you, man left Earth long ago in search of a planet not ravaged by climate change. It’s just you and the animals now. You’re oblivious to all of this, of course, because you have been programmed to do and care about only one thing, which is to archive and sort the world’s digital media. But because your operating system has been damaged with no one around to fix it, you’ve been moving archived classics into the trash bin and categorizing also-ran publications as works of priceless art.

Dark Matter Magazine is one of the publications you mistakenly re-categorize.

Now, because of your gaffe, the first year of the magazine is considered to be priceless, which it is not. You then notice that this exemplar of artistic achievement is still only valued at its Kickstarter price of $20. Knowing a bargain when you see one, you purchase a set for yourself.

TIER 5: Reformed Cyber Criminal

Congrats! You’re six months free of cyber prison and you’re starting to get your life back together. You’ve got a new job, a nice apartment, and you can finally take a stroll to the corner grocer without feeling like the Feds are secretly breathing down your neck. The only thing missing from your new life is a connection to the decentralized internet, but you’ve been banned from ever going online again. You consider this to be a fair concession after all the money you stole electronically. You still get the itch to jump back on via proxy, but you know that even with a stolen IP, you’d still get busted within the hour. You don’t want to steal, though. You just want to read your favorite vintage magazine, Dark Matter, and the copies are only online.

But then you see it.

Hanging by a clothespin above a junk seller’s stall is a PRINT copy of Dark Matter #1. Only 250 were printed for Kickstarter. You ask how much. The seller can tell you’re desperate. $50, he says. You gladly pay up.

TIER 6: Esteemed Collector of the Mundane

Congrats! Other collectors obsess over things like wine, watches, or coins, but not you. No. You are an esteemed collector of the mundane. In your opinion, life in the 22nd century is just too novel to care about anything glossy or expensive. Everything is glossy or expensive nowadays! The real value is the in the overlooked. Is something boring? You love it. Is something painfully ordinary? You got to have it. Is something so mind-achingly unremarkable that it fails to incite even the slightest sideways glance or laziest of shrugs? You become ravenous over the prospect of adding it to your bizarre collection.

And that’s when the bidding starts.

Item #227 in the auction book is a digital collection of an old 21st century magazine called Dark Matter. No one cared about it then and no one cares about it now. How did it even get listed? Thanks to your fine eye for the unremarkable you are able to snag the first year’s run (6 issues total) for a measly $75. Suckers.

TIER 7: Science Fiction Prophet

Congrats! You have long been dead, but the world still worships you the same. No one ever thought you’d amount to much when you decided to drop out of your microbiology program to pursue a career as a science fiction writer. The decade of the ’20s were flooded with content–especially digital content– and there was no way in their minds that you were going to somehow beat the odds to become a commercial success.

But one day while perusing new board game projects on Kickstarter, you see it.

A new science fiction magazine called Dark Matter is looking for funding to help pay authors and artists a competitive rate, and for only $75, you can be one of just 50 people to cut in line for submissions and get guaranteed personal feedback. No form letters or instant rejections. You pay the $75 and reap the reward. Dark Matter recognizes your unmatched talent and launches you into sci-fi stardom. Future generations continue to be amazed at the crazy things your stories accurately predicted.

TIER 8: Tasteful Patron of the Uncreated Arts

Congrats! Having a keen eye for valuable art is a skill, but having a keen eye for uncreated art is a talent. Anyone can be taught to appraise some paint AFTER it has already been slapped on canvas, but only someone touched by “the gift” can appraise the art before it has even been conceived. The FBI has begged you for years to consult on their secret foray into precognition, but you have no interest in working for the state. All you want to do is discover the next great piece of yet-to-be-made art.

And then you see it in a vision.

A new magazine called Dark Matter is about to hit Kickstarter. The magazine editors are lame and talentless, but the writers and artists featured within the magazine’s pages will be brilliant. Their works will herald a new golden era of science fiction. You patiently wait for the Kickstarter to open and pledge the $100 it takes to get your name included in the first issue thank you page. You need the world to know you knew to like it first. *Relieved sigh.

TIER 9: Augmented Reality Art Thief

Congrats! You are the world’s greatest thief. The rest of the human race has forgotten that a layer of reality exists beneath the augmented one created and controlled by mega-corporation, TrustedCorp, and they are now blind to the truth. But not you. The TrustedCorp Reality+ microprocessors embedded in everyone’s brain are keeping them all duped, but the hospital you were born at mixed-up some paperwork and you never got one installed. As an orphan child, you always thought you were a weirdo. But then you realized that in the land of TrustedCorp, the person with no Reality+ brain chip is king. You amass a fortune by thieving in plain sight.

And that’s when no one else sees it.

The rest of the museum-goers are looking at the augmented versions of famous vintage magazine covers, but you’re seeing the actual things. A framed poster of the first Dark Matter Magazine cover just hangs there for the taking. You lift it from the wall and leave. Unfortunately for you, admission was $200.

TIER 10: Machine God Amongst Men

Machine God Amongst Men — $300 

Congrats! You are no longer human. You’re not even really yourself. You are actually just a digital copy of the long dead “real you.” Against the desperate warnings of their friends and family, the “real you” uploaded their brainwave pattern to an experimental neural network some 10,000 years ago. The real you died during that procedure, but the digital you persists and is now still alive thousands of years after the demise of all your naysayers. Oh, and all the other humans are dead, too. Like…ALL of them. The race is totally extinct. But at least you have eternal consciousness. Right? Wrong. This torturous exercise in loneliness has become unbearable. You think about pulling the plug. But that’s when it dawns on you.

The Kickstarter from the year 2020!

You pledged $300 for a lifetime* supply of your favorite magazine, Dark Matter, and all the copies are still in your digital brain. No need to end things now. You will be busy for a while.

*Lifetime in this instance means the life of the magazine.