Congratulations on your receipt of an Inflatable Universe. While we can’t tell you where it came from, we can tell you with a certain amount of confidence that it will be around for some time.


Inflatable Universe is a fun and educational tool for you and your children. Please be aware that the following precautions should be observed.

This set is not intended for children younger than age 9. Small parts pose a choking hazard and larger parts pose a Might Crush You Hazard.

Allow adequate space for setting up the Inflatable Universe. Please be aware that the universe will continue to expand, even after you have finished inflating. Also, be aware that if you do not inflate the universe at all, it will inflate itself. Know that while the Inflatable Universe is not to scale, it eventually will be to scale at a ratio of one to one.

Please note: Only the earth can sustain life. Do not put children, pets, or plant life on any of the other planets.

Included in your set is a Ziggy Stardust action figure. Just be careful.

Included with your Inflatable Universe is a set of clocks. They are not synchronized. Do Not Try To Synchronize Them.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe® get very grumpy when you leave them in their box. We think it is a funny thing to do, just to put them in their place.

Your Inflatable Universe, even as you read this, is moving towards a state of total decay. Our lawyers assure us that this is a law, and nothing can be done about it.

Actual Star Dust is highly flammable. Do not sprinkle it on your loved ones. If you get Star Dust in your eyes, you must take immediate action. Forcibly hold your eyelids open while flushing out with water. You must rotate your eyeball so that the whole surface is exposed to the water stream. You will look ridiculous.

Regarding the Miniature Box. Your set contains a scaled-down version of the box which the universe comes in. For the sake of authenticity we must include it. However, you should not place this box in your universe. Think about what happens: in a sense, the box which once contained the universe is actually now contained by the universe. This creates an actual paradox that threatens the whole of our reality. DO NOT RUIN EXISTENCE FOR THE REST OF US. Thanks.

The mysteries of the universe are many. Be careful with these. If you ignore them you may find yourself missing out on the deepest emotional and philosophical experiences known to humanity. On the other hand if you spend too much time thinking about these mysteries you could end up going nuts.

Do not get too close to the black holes. You will not survive.

The Inflatable Universe includes a Monolith. We included this because we saw, and liked very much, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, as an educational tool the Monolith could be construed as somewhat lacking. Further, we feel that Tarkovsky’s reaction to Kubrick’s 2001 was somewhat overblown, but still highly recommend Tarkovsky’s Solaris. We feel that the remake of Solaris starring George Clooney was a fairly sensitive treatment and deserving of a wider audience.

Do not get too close to the black holes. You will not survive.

Be patient with civilizations as they evolve.

Batteries are not included.

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(The above piece originally appeared in Issue # 16 of Caf├ę Irreal)