October 19, 2014

Slice of PIE: There’s No Way We Can ENJOY Stories About TransHumans Or Incomprehensible Aliens...


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Let me start out by saying I’m a skeptic. As Humans who are writing science fiction about the future and both “transHuman” and alien societies, I firmly believe that we’re only trying to fool ourselves. There is no way for us to write credible aliens or realistic transHumans. It’s a paradox…

“That’s not true!” you squeal. “We are brilliant! We are imaginative! What can be imagined can be achieved!”

Ah...that may be, but my question is, “What we’ve achieved, can someone imagine?”

Let’s take for example a book I’m reading now, THE CAUSAL ANGEL, the third novel in a trilogy by Finnish writer Hannu Rajaniemi. I never read the first two, so I am at a clear disadvantage, but I’ve always been taught that every book must stand on its own and not depend on What Has Gone On Before – plus I did an online search and found a glossary half way through the book that cleared up all kinds of questions in one fell swoop.

But it also made me ask myself the question above. Let’s say I took a paper copy of Rajaniemi’s book, jumped on my time machine and delivered it to HG Wells, 119 years in the past. He cracks the cover, (ignoring the transparent plastic protector) and reads, “Alone on a timeless beach, Josephine Pellegrini finds herself disappointed by the end of the world. The sun is almost down...” OK – first four sentences are comprehensible to a man for whom cutting edge technology was the camera,  gas pumps, automobiles, television, modern bicycles, machine guns, ear muffs, and inflatable tires, and for whom heredity was a concept just twenty years old.

But then he reads on, bumping into: “...subterranean bacterial biosphere…”, and “...Chen’s Dragons, turning matter and energy and information into themselves…”, and “The Kaminari jewel, the key to Planck locks…Being eaten by wildcode...”, and finally a phrase I still don’t understand completely, “...this one is a dream-vir, facsimile of an ancient Jannah, not something made to cage a Founder. There will be demiurge gogols here…” All of these eventually come to be defined in context, but would any of it make sense to HG Wells, who published THE TIME MACHINE in 1895?

Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think the level of technology he lived with would have allowed him a foothold for such strange ideas.

Let’s go with aliens. This doesn’t involve non-existent technology. Wells pretty much invented the modern idea of aliens, The Martians in 1898. This time I’ll bring him a copy of SOLARIS by Stanislaw Lem from 1961, a mere sixty-three years into his future. As there are still no real aliens anwhere (hope does spring eternal!), this should be an easily comprehensible book (after it’s translated from its original Polish).

Well’s aliens were clearly understandable for his time.

SOLARIS begins in a recognizable way, but eventually, Wells would run into these: “The night stared me in the face, amorphous, blind, infinite, without frontiers. Not a single star relieved the darkness behind the glass…It was not possible to think except with one’s brain, no one could stand outside himself in order to check the functioning of his inner processes…Successive bursts of static came through the headphones, against a background of deep, low-pitched murmuring, which seemed to me the very voice of the planet itself.” Freudian psychoanalysis was still in some thirty years in Wells’ future, though he was an intelligent man, he might have gotten it...

But how much of the future – 2014 – would Wells be able to comprehend? More still, how much would he have been able to write about convincingly?

My truth is that our descendant science fiction writers and readers (if any) will find the “ground-breaking” work in transHumanism by Rajaniemi, Stross, Banks, Benford, Scalzi, Dick, and Doctrow absurd, pedantic, or worse, meaningless. The same is true of our best attempts to conjure really alien aliens.

When we reach the mythical Singularity or experience a real First Contact (if we are not alone – and Asimov, one of the best SF minds ever to write, implied that he believed we were), will the actual event render all of our writings as quaint as communication satellites, Lunar landings, ebooks, microsurgery and nanobots, and robotic exploration of Mars and the other planets have rendered such books as 1984, FAHRENHEIT 451, MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM!, FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON, and PERELANDRA quaint and faintly absurd?

So should we stop writing and go back to writing mysteries, romances, and “literary fiction”?

Nah – but I think that certain sub-genres should stop taking themselves so seriously, because it’s not only irritating for me, it makes me wonder if we’re trying too hard to be profound at the expense of being understood. Also, lest you think I’m the only one to wash up on this peculiar shoal while reading Rajaniemi’s book: “...as daunting a novel...requiring from its readers such deliberate commitment that those who come to their fiction for fun...would be best to leave this baby be. Accessible it ain't, I'm afraid. What it is is brilliant: far more focused than the books before it, and as fulfilling, finally, as it is indubitably difficult.” (Niall Alexander, Tor.com)

And of alien aliens, Gary Wolfe in WIRED  has this to say, “Stanislaw Lem has never been beloved by the science fiction establishment...Members of the Science Fiction Writers Association booted him from their group…Lem...denounced popular sci-fi as trivial pulp produced by mental weaklings...a whore,’ prostituting itself ‘with discomfort, disgust, and contrary to its dreams and hopes.’...[despite that] he is considered among the greatest sci-fi writers of all time…his wit...too cruel, his love of science too prominent, his outlook too cerebral...” In short, Lem’s aliens were incomprehensible because he WANTED them to be.

So we continue to write about the distant future and alien aliens – but maybe we step back and consider that we’re not writing to predict, we’re writing to entertain.

Resources: This has links to all three books in the series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannu_Rajaniemi#The_Jean_le_Flambeur_series,


(FAR more extensive than the glossary above)
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October 16, 2014

LOVE IN A TIME OF ALIEN INVASION -- CHAPTER 22


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The Cold War between the Kiiote and the Yown’Hoo has become a shooting war.  On Earth, there are three Triads one each in Minneapolis, Estados United; Pune, India; and Harbin, China. Protected by the Triad Corporation, they intend to integrate not only the three peoples and stop the war that threatens to break loose and slaughter Humans and devastate their world.; but to stop the war that consumes Kiiote economy and Yown’Hoo moral fiber. The Yown’Hoo know about the extra-Universe Braider, aliens whose own “civil war” mirrors the Cold War. The Braiders accidentally created a resonance wave that will destroy the Milky Way and the only way to stop it is to physically construct a sort of membrane that will produce a canceling wave – generated from the rim of the Galaxy inward. The Braiders don’t DO physical stuff on that scale – the Yown’Hoo-Kiiote-Human Triads may be their only chance of creating a solution. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society may produce a stability capable of launching incredible expansion, creativity, longevity and wealth – and building the Membrane to stop the wave.

The young experimental Triads are made up of the smallest primate tribe of Humans –two; the smallest canine pack of Kiiote – six; and the smallest camelid herd of Yown’Hoo – a prime eleven. On nursery farms and ranches away from the TC cities, Humans have tended young Yown’Hoo and Kiiote in secret for decades, allowing the two warring people to reproduce and grow far from their home worlds. Grendl, Manitoba is one such place. No one but the Triad Company has ever heard of it and the physical plant goes by the unobtrusive name of Organic Prairie Dairy.

The city Triads never hear of anything they aren’t spoon fed in their luxury worlds and have heard only rumors of the farms and ranches. Surrounded by a Humanity that has degenerated into a “duck-and-cover” society as the Big Boys fight their war, the Triads don’t care about anything but their own lives. Oblivious, cocooned, manipulated, they have no idea that their privileges are about to be violently curtailed and all of their biology ransacked for the correct Membrane pattern. (update: 5/2/2014)

What I understood was that Kiiote had been animals, driven by the Pack to expand their territory – wolves did it on Earth, or do it still, I don’t know, the only wolf I’ve ever seen is on vplate. 3D, projected full size, but v, anyway. The Kiiote ran into the Herd on their homeworld and dominated. Yown’Hoo got smarter, faster and pretty soon fought back and nearly destroyed the Kiiote – but worse than that, they became Pack Leaders in the psyche of the Kiiote. They submitted, bit Yown’Hoo had no idea what they were doing. Having defeated the enemy, they started to get stupid again.

Their war was wearing down when they ran into Humans.

We gave the Kiiote a challenge, though we couldn’t beat them. We became subordinate in the Kiiote mind. They rose to take us; to lead us. They pressed Yown’Hoo…we were part of a cycle.

Yeah. Makes only a tiny bit of sense to me. When I told ‘Shayla, she said, “What the def are you talking about?”

Shaking my head, I looked at the Leaders, the ones who’d set up the Triad Corporation, shrugged, and said, “I think they need us. I think Minneapolis is going down, so I think we’d better trust them to get us out of here.”

The Triad: Qap, Xurf, Doj, Qilf, Fax, and Towt; Dao-hi, Zei-go, Seg-go, Ali-go, Hil-hi, Jus-hi, Nah-hi, Por-go, and the immatures, Lan-mai-ti, Ked-sah-ti, and Eel-go pot; me and Kashayla Kimpo – looked to me all of a sudden.

The Masters – Pan and Zir, Ji-Hi, St. Admiral, and Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh (ret) – looked at me as well.

“Why are you all staring at me?”

St. Admiral said, “It’s an eerie feeling, isn’t it? When you begin to ask intelligent questions and ask intelligent questions, people begin to take you more seriously. It appears to me that you are the questioner – and therefore our leader.”

I couldn’t help but snort, “Leaders are brave, and bold, and blow stuff up.”

Bakhsh laughed, “You got the first two. I think it’s time you do the last one – before the really big one goes up.”

“What do you mean?”

He gestured to the bakery truck, and I could see clearly in the lights of the parking ramp, that JACK’S BAKERY was written on the outer panel. Bakhsh walked up to the side of the truck and slapped it.

The thing shimmered like it was on the far-side of a burning hot parking lot, then suddenly the truck turned brown and the UPS symbol appeared. Shayla said, “It’s got mimepaint?” She looked at Bakhsh, “Isn’t that a little unusual for a bakery to have?”

He shrugged, “The bakery is just one of a few companies we use now and then for transporting personnel and supplies.”

“Supplies for what?” Qap growled.

Pan snarled back, “There are some things you do not need to know at this time. What you do need to do is get inside!” She added a snap and laid her ears back.

Qap’s tail lowered and she moved to the truck along with the rest of the Pack. The Mother of All Herds snapped a tentacle, filled the air with a pheromone of command and led the Herd that gathered with her to the back of the truck.

“How long will it take us to get there?” I asked.

“Get where?” said the Lieutenant Commander. He managed to keep a straight face, but even though I’d only known him for a few hours, I could tell he was teasing.

"Wherever it is we’re going to be hidden until you oldsters can figure out something to do,” said Shayla.

He grunted and said, “You’re going straight north. You’ll arrive at the safe house in eight to forty-eight hours.”

Dao-hi exclaimed from her place at the back of the Herd, “That is a wide spread of time, Bakhsh! There is a reason?”

“Yeah, seems to be an awful long time to be in the back of a bakery truck,” said Shayla.

He shrugged. “Everything depends.”

“On what?” asked Qap, risking a nip from the nearby Zir.

He paused a long time before he answered. Shayla shuffled her feet. The Herd moved closer to the Ji-Hi. One of the pups whimpered.
He made a face and finally said, “It all depends on whether the trip goes off without a hitch – the truck’s carrying several cutting edge defensive technology – or if the Humans who are set to nuke this city find out how we’re transporting you.”
“What are the chances of that happening?” I asked.

He was silent until he finally said, “High, son. Very high.”

October 14, 2014

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 178

http://www.medwynsmuseums.co.uk/images/medwyn_looking-right.jpgEach Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.


Current Event: (not-so-much-this-time) http://narnia.wikia.com/wiki/Mole

In a hole in the ground, in the lawn of a museum given over to the collection of scientific inventions both weird and wonderful, there lived a mole.

This wouldn't have been terribly surprising except that the museum was in Narnia and the mole was really a Mole named Loamy Trowel. She lived in a very comfortable hole with shuttered windows that overlooked an antique cotton gin as well as a rocket preserved from the brief but exciting Narnian Space Age.

Loamy would have loved to close her windows day and night. Daylight made her squint in a way her nephews and nieces thought was comical. Like most Moles, she felt that if she must be out and about, it should be at night. For this reason, she'd taken up a small hobby. She looked for things that daylight people had lost in darkness.

Her first job had been to find a sack of coins Fennerish the Faun had lost. Loamy had found it quite easily and felt her nose blush red at the acclaim accorded her for a bit of simple night-time looking.

The next time, Tincture the Skunk was certain the family of Chitteringfools, the Squirrels had made off with an ancient family heirloom reputed to possess magical powers. It turned out that the moth-eaten pelt had been sold at rummage by the youngest Skunk family member; and that the only magic it had was the ability to make virtually anyone sneeze because of the dust.

Her fame spread and soon she was doing far more mystery solving than gardening. Her services had grown to be in such demand that she'd recruited four other Moles, five Squirrels, a Raccoon, and a very young Centaur. The Mole Agency as it had come to be called, was busy all the time. Word spread from one shore to the other of Narnia, and Loamy was certain that would finally be the end of it, until one night there was a knock on her door.


Having grown used to such visits, she opened the door and for the first time in many years, stood with her mouth open in total surprise. Standing on her doorstep was a girl, her head carefully wrapped in the turban favored by the people of Calormen. She dipped in a curtsy and only then did Loamy see the circlet of gold atop the wrapping of fine cloth. The young woman said, "If you please, Madam Trowel, my name is Lucy Pevensie the Fourth, and I would like to hire you to solve a deep mystery..."
Names: Moleish; English
Image: http://www.medwynsmuseums.co.uk/images/medwyn_looking-right.jpg

October 12, 2014

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAYS: "Science” Needs To Fall Out Of Its Ivory Tower


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For some time now, I’ve read whining dissertations and essays about how “scientists” are disrespected today. For example, this article weeps about the casting of scientists in the role of bad guy (mostly, I might add, these are big, old, fat, white, guys) http://io9.com/why-are-scientists-always-the-bad-guys-in-movies-1643054457/all. As well, it several articles make it sound as if there is a general demise of the American way of Science,   http://www.alternet.org/education/results-are-america-dumb-and-road-getting-dumber, http://io9.com/npr-pulls-the-plug-on-krulwich-wonders-1640085459, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-schweitzer/ignorance-kills_b_5851052.html, http://io9.com/meet-the-new-underclass-people-with-ph-d-s-in-science-1644006710?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow. Usually this is attributed to George HW Bush, the No Child Left Behind Act, or Republicans in Congress who actively try and crush science in league with Christians everywhere who are wrong believers in Anthropogenic Global Warming and Evolution.

Often these diatribes miss the fact that Al Gore, the world representative of AGW (who, incidentally has no science degree, got a BA in Government, and avoided science and math at Harvard in favor of watching TV and playing pool), Bill Nye (who has a BA in mechanical engineering, and who began the Science Guy routine as comedic shtick on Seattle’s ALMOST LIVE! television show), the NCLB (which was, incidentally, a bipartisan bill whose most important supporter was Democrat Ted Kennedy), and Bush's refusal to support science education (“Bush signed into law H. R. 4664, far-reaching legislation to put the National Science Foundation (NSF) on a track to double its budget over five years and to create new mathematics and science education initiatives at both the pre-college and undergraduate level.”) are rarely, if ever, a complete expression of the aspects of the axe being ground.
Wild attacks of anyone who doesn’t toe some sort of ideological line exempts that bastion of the Liberal Left, National Public Radio -- which recently axed a long-running science program Krulwich Wonders. Is NPR "anti-science"? Nope. No rants. No imprecations. No threats. No claims that the Left is Once Again Disrespecting Science...just mute, weepy acceptance of the financial necessity of canceling a popular science program. The response might have been different had a Republican Congress cut funding to NPR.

The problem therefore, may not be the PUBLIC, but sometimes-myopic “real” scientists who seem to believe that their love of science popped out of nowhere and was never once nurtured by an elementary teach, a middle school teacher, or a high school teacher. Oh, that’s RIGHT, it must be that the scientists decrying the sad state of science in the US became a fan of science shortly after they got their BS, MS, or PhD…


So the impression I’m left with is that the jobs that all elementary, middle school, and high school science teachers (as well as those in Community colleges and anyone who has less than a PhD) – have done are meaningless and all such teachers are inefficient buffoons. The only real “science fans” in America today are the white men (and token minorities like establishment-acceptable women and blacks) with BSs, MSs, or, (the REAL lovers of science) PhDs…

But there may in fact, be dissension in the ranks. In a fascinating, but (I have no doubt) rarely cited article, Dr. David Goldstein (professor of Physics and Applied Physics) has this to say:

“The great corporations have decided that central research laboratories were not such a good idea after all...The economy has gradually transformed from manufacturing to service, and service industries like banking and insurance don't support much scientific research...jobs are scarce for recent graduates...academic expansion is finished forever… since it takes scientists to identify prospective scientists [this] accounts for the very real problem that women and minorities are woefully underrepresented among the scientists, because it is hard for us, white, male scientists to perceive that once they are cleaned and cut and polished, they will not look like us…science education is for the most part a dreary business, a burden to student and teacher alike at all levels of American education...Above all, it resolves the paradox of Scientific Elites and Scientific Illiterates. It explains why we have the best scientists and the most poorly educated students in the world…we scientists must find a way to teach science to non-scientists...The frontiers of science have moved far from the experience of ordinary persons [and] we have never developed a way to bring people along as informed tourists...The long era of exponential expansion ended decades ago, but we have not yet reconciled ourselves to that fact...Today's scientific leaders...are mostly people who came of age during the golden era, 1950–1970...the era of scientific elites and scientific illiterates must learn to face reality, and admit that those days are gone forever.” (CalTech 2002)


October 10, 2014

A FABULOUS ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




I (and my Agent, KAREN GRENCHIK) sold my novel!!!
VICTORY OF FISTS
A YA novel whose tagline might read: “Chuck Palahniuk’s FIGHT CLUB meets Ellen Hopkins’ CRANK…with humor.”

There are many, many things to be done until the unveiling, but you will get all the details RIGHT HERE! Also, if you’d like to read the first two chapters IN FIRST DRAFT FORM go here: http://theworkandworksheetsofguystewart.blogspot.com/search/label/Victory%20Of%20Fists%20--%20Chapter%201%20and%202

October 9, 2014

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 60: Aster of Opportunity


On a well-settled Mars, the five major city Council regimes struggle to meld into a stable, working government. Embracing an official Unified Faith In Humanity, the Councils are teetering on the verge of pogrom directed against Christians, Molesters, Jews, Rapists, Buddhists, Murderers, Muslims, Thieves, Hindu, Embezzlers and Artificial Humans – anyone who threatens the official Faith and the consolidating power of the Councils. It makes good sense, right – get rid of religion and Human divisiveness on a societal level will disappear? An instrument of such a pogrom might just be a Roman holiday...To see the rest of the chapters, go to SCIENCE FICTION: Martian Holiday on the right and scroll to the bottom for the first story.

Aster Theilen, late the consort of the Mayor of one of the five largest Domes on Mars, was the one woman who stood the best chance to make changes. The first change would be to somehow inspire the rest of the planet to donate their hard-earned, hard-inherited credits to support children and young adults who had been an experiment in genetic engineering. The Martian Child Foundation worked tirelessly to provide for children who were supposed to be the future of Mars – who ended up being an embarrassment to all Humanity.

Because of that, they were hidden; ignored; scraping by on donations and the leavings from government trust funds – even that was regularly challenged during budget negotiations on every Council.

Etaraxis did what he could, but he was a political figure against whom some people would cast a vote to airlock their own mothers if he told them to vote to save her life. He stood little chance of doing anything more than convincing cats to crave catnip.
Their account was near empty. He needed an unexpected windfall. “He needs a miracle,” Aster muttered to herself as she watched Hanam vo’Maddux walk away. The woman could blow up her rocket on the launch pad if she chose to. But there was something about her. Something that seemed sad rather than frightening. Aster shook her head and turned to head in the opposite direction.

She needed an idea. Something that would capture the minds of Opportunity’s half million people – engaging them without repelling them. Poster children were out right away. There’d been enough of those attempted in the ten Martian years since the manipulations and births happened. People now only turned away. She found herself strolling to the Core. It was early afternoon so the sun poured down, magnified and reflected and augmented by Solar-spectrum lights until she had to squint. There were people wearing sunglasses as they strolled the vast spiral leading to the top levels, just under the greenhouses and Solar mirrors on the surface. Higher still, parked in an arestationary orbit, webs of solar cells connected to powersats beamed abundant power down to each of the largest Cities. From there, power was beamed or travelled through cables to outlying Stations and Outposts.

From Highest Olympus, the space station serving Mars’ connection with the rest of the Solar System, she had seen the pocks of green on the rusted surface of the Red Planet. The green spread a bit every year, and botanists had claimed this year that they had finally developed a tough, straw-like lichen that could live outside on the Martian equator and in the deepest parts of Valles Marineris.

It was stunning enough that she felt that, had she the voice or any musical talent whatsoever, she would have written a song and sung it then and there! As it was, she had tapped a pathetic poem, thinking it the most evocative thing ever written. Hidden in an encrypted file now, she shuddered...

Down the ramp from the surface came a class of children, their query marker guru smiling, laughing, and doing his darnedest to keep the passel of multi-toned kindergartners under control.

“Kenisha! Don’t go so close to the railing! Mohlee – keep your hands to yourself! Onorio, you and Keiko just have to share until we get back to the park!” He paused, scowled, then called, “All right, everyone, let’s sing ‘Belka v on korzinu’!” He glanced at Aster, started, and said, “Let’s ask the Mayor’s Consort to sing ‘Squirrel In The Cart’ with us!”

The children gathered around her, and Aster hummed along as they sang. Smiling, she knew exactly how to run the funding drive for The Martian Child Foundation.

October 7, 2014

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 177


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Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: Advanced Ancient Humans

Current Event: http://edge.org/conversation/why-did-human-history-unfold-differently-on-different-continents-for-the-last-13000-years, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_mammoth, “Just think what the course of world history might have been like if Africa's rhinos and hippos had lent themselves to domestication! If that had been possible, African cavalry mounted on rhinos or hippos would have made mincemeat of European cavalry mounted on horses. But it couldn't happen.” Jared

Doba Hrafn shaded her eyes from the sun. To her left – east – the Mississippi glittered like aluminum chaff in the light. Beneath her, her mammoth, Li trembled. She patted the hairy neck. She’d no reason to love the ride north. She’d have preferred to fly, but negotiating a treaty with the Iroquois Confederation required that she appear in traditional garb.

Overhead, a ‘thopter hovered. She tapped her headphones and said, “You’re ruining the effect.”

Maza Blaska Hunt, her aide and mixed blood interpreter, replied, “I’d love to let you ride into Minnesota Polis on your steed alone, but the terrorist alert is high today. You need tight cover.”

Doba sighed, “Who is it this time?”

Maza paused, then said, “Two groups: the Free Chinese negotiating team is threatening to scuttle the talks if the Japanese Emperor is allowed to land and the President of India wants to get going, but Pharaoh Elect Djau Nedjes is taking his own sweet time on the tarmac debarking from his Wright jet.”

Shaking her head, Doba prodded Li and the mammoth lumbered onward. At least she didn’t have to worry about the dumb trumpet wandering off the trail. The pavement was well-maintained and arrow straight. A faint shimmer in the air indicated that a force barrier of some sort would persuade her back on the ceremonial trail if she fell asleep while walking. It would take at least four hours for her to reach the Conference city. Sighing, she said, “Are we doing anything fun when we get there?”

She heard the shrug in Maza’s voice, “Only if your idea of a good time is endless meetings.”

Doba sighed. “I thought I saw somewhere that the Iroquois Space Council was supposed to be meeting.”

There was a longer pause, then Maza said, “You saw correctly.”

Doba stood up in the saddle, waking Li who muttered and slowed down. Dob settled down, patted her mount and when the hairy fool was back up to speed, said in to her headphone, “And when were you planning on telling me?”

“Never.”

Doba sighed, “That’s ridiculous! I would easily qualify for the program! I graduated from Cambridge in New York! I got a Bronze Medal in the Marathon in Athens! I’m Anasazi for heaven’s sake! I’m a minority! Why would they possibly reject me?”

“You’re the only daughter of the hereditary Ruling Council and as far as I can tell, you’re not planning to settle down any time soon and make some heirs.” She fired a rude, derogatory, racist, sexist, and entirely un-ladylike string of invective at Maza. When she finally ran down, he said, “Finished yet?”

“I’m done for now, but as soon as I think of something else, I’ll add it.”

“Good. Now, back to reality, when we arrive in four hours…”

She answered in monosyllables as he droned on about meetings, parties, conferences, and the other details she’d retained him to handle. But her mind wasn’t in the details. All she could think of was the red planet Heng and the colony rumored to be in the planning stages. There were already orbitals, and she’d heard the Aztec and the Zulu had habitats on the moon. Her burning desire was to be the first woman to set foot on the planet named for war…


Names:  Navajo, Old Norse;  Dakotah, European