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"I can't tell whether or not there's going to be a Singularity. I don't really believe the rapture of the nerds stereotype..."
- Charles Stross

Concentrated Cosmic Radiation  
  Passing through a region of intense radiation alters lifeforms.  

On a primitive moon, strange species are found.

Everyone listened with deep interest as the Brain's chill, metallic voice recited his translation of the old tablet.

"We men of Antares colonized this small world many generations ago. This world was then the moon of a planet in the system of **** near our own star...

"But then came unforeseen catastrophe. A dark star was approaching the system **** of which this moon was a member. The passing dark star came so close that its huge gravitational pull dragged this moon from its orbit and flung it off into space. The moon left that system and drifted steadily out into the vast interstellar void...

"But out in the face of the deep a terrible thing began to happen. The drifting moon had entered a region of terrific cosmic radiation. It was an area of space in which cosmic radiation swept in a concentrated current, due to **** and other obscure factors of space-warp The result was that all life upon this little world was drenched by constant penetating radiation which soon caused a subtle and fearful change...

"Evolution began to speed up terrifically upon our drifting world. The unprecedented radiation produced **** and other changes in the genes of every living species, which caused a tremendous flowering of new mutations Each species of animal and plant life on the world began a rapid new evolution. And our human species, too, began to evolve.

"We humans became less and less human' New mutations rising among us, such as **** radically altered the nature of our species. By now it seems evident that we **** destined to evolve hideously onward into species entirely unhuman.

Technovelgy from The Face of the Deep, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Captain Future in 1942
Additional resources -

See the earliest instance of this idea, and other references, at Poison Space Cloud (Etheric Poison) from The Poison Belt by Arthur Conan Doyle, published by The Strand Magazine in 1913.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Face of the Deep
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to The Face of the Deep
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

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