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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Antigravity Globe Arena  
  A spherical arena for wrestling.  

Extreme body modification can help people to work in space. But how can you see what a potential crew member can do in a weightless environment - on Earth?

Rydra looked up. "Let's watch the wrestling."

Along the counter people raised their heads. At the tables, patrons released the catch in their chair arms so that the backs swung to half recline.

Calli's mug clinked on the counter, and Ron raised both feet to the stool and leaned back against the bar.

"What are they looking at?" the Customs Officer asked. "Where's everybody—" Rydra put her hand on the back of his neck and did something so that he laughed and swung his head up. Then he sucked a great breath and let it out slowly.

The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light. The room had gone dim. Thousands of watts of floodlights struck the plastic surface and gleamed on the faces below as smoke in the bright sphere faded.

"What's going to happen?" the Customs Officer asked. "Is that where they wrestle . . . ?"

Rydra brushed her hand over his mouth and he nearly swallowed his tongue: but was quiet.

And the Silver Dragon came, wings working in the smoke, silver feathers like clashed blades, scales on the grand haunches shaking; she rippled her ten-foot body and squirmed in the antigravity field, green lips leering, silver lids batting over green orbs,. "It's a woman!" breathed the Customs Officer.

An appreciative tattoo of finger snapping scattered through the audience.

Smoke rolled in the globe—"That's our Brass!" whispered Calli.

—and Brass yawned and shook his head, ivory saber teeth glistening with spittle, muscles humped on shoulders and arms; brass claws unsheathed six inches from yellow plush paws. Bunched bands on his belly bent above them. The barbed tail beat on the globe's wall. His mane, sheared to prevent handholds, ran like water.

Calli grabbed the Customs Officer's shoulder.

"Snap your fingers, man! That's our Brass!"

The Customs Officer, who had never been able to, nearly broke his hand.

The globe flared red. The two pilots turned to one another across the sphere's diameter. Voices quieted. The Customs Officer glanced from the ceiling to the people around him. Every other face was up...

"What are they trying to do?" the Customs Officer whispered. "How can you tell who's winning?" He looked down again: what he'd grabbed was Calli's shoulder.

"When one can throw the other against the wall and only touch the far wall himself with one limb on the ricochet," Calli explained, not looking down, "that's a fall."

From Babel-17, by Samuel R. Delany.
Published by Ace Books in 1966
Additional resources -

Captain Wong explains:

"You can really judge a pilot by watching him wrestle?" the officer inquired of Rydra.

She nodded. "In the ship, the pilot's nervous system is connected directly with the controls. The whole hyperstasis transit consists of him literally wrestling the stasis shifts. You judge by his reflexes, his ability to control his artificial body. An experienced Transporter can tell exactly how he'll work with hyperstasis currents."

"I'd heard about it, of course. But this was the first time I've seen it- It was . . . exciting."

Compare to the courtarena from The Tactful Saboteur (1964) by Frank Herbert and the battleroom from Ender's Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Babel-17
  More Ideas and Technology by Samuel R. Delany
  Tech news articles related to Babel-17
  Tech news articles related to works by Samuel R. Delany

Antigravity Globe Arena-related news articles:
  - MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars

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