February 24, 2018

My Encounter With Jesus Christ, Through the Reverend Billy Graham

July 13, 1973...I was just sixteen...

If this picture encompassed the entire Minnesota State Fairground race track bandstand, you'd be able to find me as a kid, sitting next to the kid who had invited me. His name was Jim Fox...

Like many others that night, I gave my life to Christ through the witness of this man.

Words cannot express my deepest thanks (though you notice, I tried...) for Billy Graham's witness to me as a teenager. I wish I could thank Jim for inviting me.

Image: https://transformmn.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Billy-Graham-at-MSFG-7.13.1973-300x198.jpghttps://transformmn.org/rev-billy-graham/

February 22, 2018

LOVE IN A TIME OF ALIEN INVASION -- Chapter 81


On Earth, there are three Triads intending 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. All three intelligences hover on the edge of extinction. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society might not only save all three – but become something not even they could predict. Something entirely new...

The young experimental Triads are made up of the smallest primate tribe of Humans – Oscar and Xiomara; the smallest canine pack of Kiiote – six, pack leaders Qap and Xurf; and the smallest camelid herd of Yown’Hoo – a prime eleven, Dao-hi the Herd mother. 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.

“We had nearly fallen into stagnation when we encountered the Kiiote.”
“And we into internecine war when we encountered the Yown’Hoo.”
 “Yown’Hoo and Kiiote have been defending themselves for a thousand revolutions of our Sun.”
 “Together, we might do something none of us alone might have done…a destiny that included Yown’Hoo, Kiiote, and Human.” (2/19/2015)

Dao-hi was giving me command of her Herd whether she was there or not.

Suddenly she charged me, swinging her long neck and catching me full in the chest. She knocked me clear across the tunnel and reared back, shouting, “There is no one here to protect you, small Human! No one here to make me your equal or the Pack’s equal when I am the one who is superior!” I staggered to my feet and she swung her head again. I didn’t move fast enough, and I couldn’t believe what she was saying – she was betraying us! She was betraying us to…

By the time I woke up, the Herd Mother, Dao-hi was gone with her tiny sliver of a herd.

When I sat up, I practically passed out from the pain in my ribs. I wasn’t dead from a punctured lung, so I guess that’s a good thing. It was probably only a bruise – maybe a fracture. Even if I was supposed to – which I wasn’t – I couldn’t have wrapped myself. First, I wouldn’t know what I was doing; second, I didn’t have anything to wrap myself with.

I managed to get to my feet, leaning against the wall and gasping like a fish out of water. After moving around a bit more, I realized it was less my ribs that having been hit with the Yown’Hoo sledgehammer head. They used they used their heads as weapons in battle – no problem for them as the Yown’Hoo kept their brain in what Humans would call their chest.

I took as deep a breath as I could, held it, realized I also had a pounding headache, and figured I’d better get moving. Besides Retired’s – Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh – orders to get to Sand Dune State Forest and dig out the all-terrain vehicle and get it ready to take us north. We’d have a long way to go – nearly six hundred kilometers. On foot. With people who want to kill you…
That’s why Retired had me heading for something with a more kick to it. He said there was an ancient armory not far from the Forest. Maybe even grown over by now. He said there might be a tank or something he called a cargo plane. It was in a village that had once been a renowned headquarters of a religious order, a place called Saint Clodoald, after an abbot, counselor, and healer from so long ago, no one had any idea who he was besides the moniker.

Anyway, Retired said that I’d have to travel beyond the Dunes to the Abbey of the saint and appeal to whoever I found that still lived there. For a second, I wondered if the Herd Mother – or even the Pack leaders had orders from Retired as well.

In fact, I wished right then that I could talk to my Great Uncle Rion. How many others did Retired know? How many others were involved in the Triad? Would I even have a clue if we were being manipulated by forces beyond us? Worst, what if the manipulators didn’t care about any of us?

Retired said he’d come from a long line of soldiers, dating back to Indigenes who had tried to defend North America from waves of invaders sent against them by the super powers of the time. They succeeded often, but eventually were crushed by the sheer numbers fielded against them. Retired said he’d ancestors on both sides of that conflict. He’d also compared the Yown’Hoo and Kiiote conflict and its effect on Humanity’s home world with the invasion of the land I’d grown up on. The super powers then hadn’t cared about the people who’d already been there. They were too wrapped up in their own conflict not notice the people they trampled to death.

Sounded like the Yown’Hoo and Kiiote to me!

I was finally loose enough to set off on my own trek. I had about thirty kilometers to go until I could head back up to the surface. Retired had said I should be close to the Dunes by then. He’d another surprise, too. He’d given me directions to a shelter that contained a wing I could use to fly, combining helium and a small hydrogen jet. Slow, sure, but faster than walking to Saint Clodoald. Once there, he wanted me to see if I could get the plane flying or the tank running, or some other thing that could carry us all the way to Grendl.

I found that if I kept my elbow pressed to my side, I could almost jog. As I lit out for the Forest, I realized that if I had secret orders, then everyone else could have secret orders, too.

I just hoped we were all working on the same side…


February 20, 2018

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 344


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: Isaac Asimov’s Three Kinds Of Science Fiction: “Gadget sci-fi: Man invents car, holds lecture on how it works.”

Khünbish Qureshi said, “Once we drill through the ice, we can begin extract the uranium. But we have to do it fast.” He tapped the wide pipe with his heavily armored hand. While there was no true atmosphere and the surface of the moon was exposed to the radiation sleet from Jupiter, they both wore flexible suits and had ridden to the surface on little more than a hovering plate.

“You think extracting a few metric tonnes of uranium from this moon would have any kind of effect at all?” asked Yelizavta Zaya. She bounced a few meters back after stomping her foot.

“I can’t say for sure.”

“Why not?”

“I’m a geologist...”

“You mean a Eurologist?”

“That makes me sound like a bladder specialist!”

“Well, it’s not Earth, so you can’t be a ‘geologist’.”

“There’s not a bladder in sight, either!”

Beneath their feet, the ice sang. On any other world, it would have been a quake, but here the ice vibrated, shifting, sliding along cracked edges. Immense crevasses sang bass that shook the world like a drum head; smaller ones sang faint hymns of joy; the smallest sang beyond the hearing of Humans.

Khünbish slapped the pipe again and said, “If there were living things under the surface, maybe my sucking the lifeblood from the water will make them sit up and take notice.”

“I doubt there’re sitting beings under our feet, Khun.”

He grimaced at the diminutive – Americans and Loonies made a habit of lopping parts of people’s names off willy-nilly – and said, “Whatever they’re doing, I’m hoping they notice.”

“And if there’s nothing under our feet but ice, water, uranium?”

“Then we stand to make a fortune and retire wherever we want to.” He bounced back as the ice began to sing again. As he fell to the surface, he grimaced and said, “Can you hear that?”

Names: ♀ Russia, Mongolian; ♂ Mongolian, Pakistan

February 18, 2018

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: Funny Aliens & Humorous Spacemen


Using the Programme Guide of the World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki Finland in August 2017 (to which I will be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Programme Guide. The link is provided below…

Humour in SF: Science fiction and fantasy are serious genres, but of course there are very humorous works as well. Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett - and many more! Who are the others? Come hear our panelist discuss the lesser well-known humorous SF fiction!

Laura Pearlman: stories have appeared in Shimmer, Flash Fiction Online, Daily Science Fiction, and a handful of other places; her LOLcat captions have appeared in McSweeney's
Phazedout: Irish and Finnish Geek, dwarven singer, wandering podcast writer and bibliophile
Craig Macbride: old science fiction fan
Ian Stewart: popular science writer on mathematical themes, published more than 120 books on a number of different fields of science; The Science of Discworld series with Sir Terry Pratchett and Jack Cohen; two science fiction novels, Wheelers and Heaven, Jack of All Trades, The Living Labyrinth (with Tim Poston)

Must have been a strange session, because as far as I can tell, nobody here has WRITTEN humorous science fiction, fantasy, or horror (of COURSE there’s such a thing. Just watch “The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”…)

So, all I can do here is talk about the humorous SF I have read and attempted to write.

For example, this was supposed to be funny: http://stupefyingstories.com/ (Scroll to December 6, 2017…) It was called “The Bogfather”. It was intended to be a play on words using a drifting bog island in northern Minnesota as a setting…

As there have been no rave reviews (or even any comments, for that matter), I have to assume that the humor was lost on anyone but me (and maybe Bruce Bethke…).

But what IS humor – putting speculative fiction aside for a moment – and is it either definably or is it something that can be intentionally created?

One definition: “the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement”. To me, this means that how you evaluate an experience forces you to either make a barking sound or feel something (probably pleasant).

Ah! Here’s a REALLY helpful theory of what humor is, it’s even “endorsed by Peter McGraw [an associate professor of Marketing and Psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder], attempts to explain humour's existence. The theory says ‘humour only occurs when something seems wrong, unsettling, or threatening, but simultaneously seems okay, acceptable or safe’.” (Wikipedia)

I’ve written on humor in speculative fiction before. In the article (http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/search?q=Humor), I noted, “I have a COMEDY WRITING SECRETS book; I read THE HUMOR CODE)…I’m a funny guy. I’ve read collections of science fiction humor, too like ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact’s THE FUNNY SIDE (an old collection) and the Kelvin Throop III stories. Spider Robinson’s CALLAHAN’S CROSS TIME SALOON books.” Also, here: http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2017/05/possibly-irritating-essay-laughing.html; and here http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2014/03/slice-of-pie-james-thurber-o-henry-mash.html; and here http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/search?q=Humor

I love to laugh, and my humor of choice is slapstick. I LOVE a good pratfall! My wife and I just finished watching Despicable Me 3 – which is just one sight gag after another. I spent most of the movie laughing out loud.

I should just say that she doesn’t get it. Her sense of humor is much more subtle than mine is. She enjoys the cerebral humor of M*A*S*H (which I do as well) and the movies made from the Jane Austen books. She likes the gentle humor of Barbara Streisand rather than the slapstick of Ellen DeGeneres.

I made my first sale to ANALOG with a humorous piece called “Absolute Limits” in which I hyper-exaggerated the search for a FTL drive and the tendency of Americans to take speed limits set by law enforcement to be suggestions. “Bogfather”, linked above is funny, as is one I’m shopping around called, “Titan Mission Drops Bomb”; though I confess that that one is a bit of scatological humor that even I’m uncomfortable with!

It also happens to be the only story I’ve ever submitted to Daily Science Fiction that made it into the “Hold for further consideration” category, so maybe I’m finally getting close.

At any rate, as no one in this group actually wrote humorous speculative fiction (at least as far as I can tell), I guess I didn’t miss anything…


February 15, 2018

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 120: Paolo In Burroughs


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. If you’d like to read it from beginning to end (70,000+ words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

Judas scowled. “We have more immediate problems – outside of recent history and ancient history. The mind police will be looking for you and they’ve already marked some of our Church members. They’ll be tagged again and some brought in for questioning.” He paused, adding, “They don’t question Burroughs citizens like they question citizens of Opportunity. Here, they use lead pipes.”

Paolo shuddered. “I’m sorry. There’s really only one thing to do, then.”

“What’s that?”

He walked down the corridor and popped the hatch again, saying, “I turn myself in.”

Judas exclaimed, “No!” He ran after Paolo.

“Only way to keep the fellowship safe in Burroughs and for me to prove that the vast majority of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and Artificial Humans don’t mean anyone any harm…”

“They’ll argue that some will! Some have!”

Paolo nodded, “Then we’ll tell them that that is true. I plan on leaving unsaid that some people with the Unified Faith in Humanity can also intentionally harm others. Any number of murders, assaults, embezzlements, and even an atrocity or two have demonstrably been perpetrated by someone not belonging to one of the banned philosophy groups.”

“Nothing has ever been banned…”

“Rightspeak then, if you insist, ‘non-guaranteed philosophy groups’. Crimes have been committed by people whose philosophical foundation is guaranteed by Martian Law to be held innocent of intentional harm. People who have ancient faith foundations are not.”

Judas exclaimed, “If you preach…”

“I already preached. From here on out, I plan on living my faith.”

“You could die!”

“I could go outside and be caught in a micrometeorite shower and die. I could have a seal blowout. I could trip and fall off the edge of the platform.” He shrugged, “I could stroke out right here.” He held his arms out, palms toward Judas, then let them drop, “I guess not at that moment. So, I’ll keep living for Christ and I’ll keep gathering artifacts to prove that Humans are not alone in the universe.” He stepped out, then looked around the airlock door, “In fact, some of that non-Human intelligence might still be around.”

“There’s nothing…”

Paolo saluted him, said, “You’d better get out of here. I assume your children are already safe. I can see that the mind police are here for me.” He pushed the airlock closed and leaned against it. The mind police, whose tools included numerous ways of digging into someone’s mind. Some were chemical, some nanotechnological, some involving sound, radiation, or even, rumor had it, physical persuasion. He found himself grinning, anticipating experiencing some of the things his namesake had experienced.

He didn’t see the spindly tall man running on the sidewalk that ringed the gMod platform until it was too late. He tried to step back, but the lock had closed and he couldn’t turn fast enough to activate the palm lock before the runner crashed into him.

Their limbs tangled as both went down, scattering the crowd around them as well as tumbling themselves. Even as they collided, Paolo wondered at the irony of it. About to go into the world and give himself up, he not only succeeded, but drew the attention of the crowd, this time inadvertently.

The man who’d plowed into him rolled free and staggered to his feet, saw Paolo and offered his hand. “I am so sorry! I wasn’t looking where I was going! I don’t know what I was thinking!” He was young, had a head of flame-red hair, and a spattering of freckles. The coloration was so rare on Mars as to be nearly unique and referred to as Lotharians, after the reclusive, auburn-haired alien species of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom books.

The gathered crowd went from scowls to eye-rolling quickly. Some even bent over Paolo and asked if he was all right. Smiling, he waved them off gently, saying, “No harm done. I’m fine, just a little bruised.”

The young man’s eyes were wide and extremely blue as he fussed around Paolo. People were shaking their heads, smiling, and returning to their business so that none of them noticed when he lean into Paolo and whispered, “You have to leave immediately. I’ll meet you outside. I’ll be walking the secondary road heading northwest toward Cydonia.”


Then he was gone.


February 13, 2018

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 343


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.

H Trope: the attack of the killer ALGAE

Jefferson Benson looked up from the microscope and said, “What do you mean, ‘it looks like it’s spreading’?”

Terace Miller shook her head, “I didn’t say that. It IS spreading.” She held out her hand. A thin patina of greenish-brown made the skin on her forearm look wet.

Jefferson leaned back. “What happened?”

“I was working late – I’ve got to have the slides examined and summary prepped for Dr. Hester by tomorrow at the latest. She said she wanted it today.”

“So?”

“So, I worked until about four this morning then fell asleep at the computer.”

“How’d you get algae skin from that?”

She slugged him in the shoulder with her uninfected arm. “I dozed off – slept sideways. My back was to the microscope and my arm was against a dish with a sample of the algae in it.”

“It crawled out of the dish?” he looked at her, scowling.

“Algae can’t crawl, idiot!”

“Hey! Just because my master’s thesis is in the histology tapeworms doesn’t mean I’m ignorant about plants!”

“It just means you’re plain ignorant,” Terace said. “Listen, for whatever reason, the algae got on my arm. I washed it off, but it grew back.”

“What?”

“It grew back in about an hour. Even after I swabbed it with alcohol and betadine.”

“You try salt water?”

“What?”

“Isn’t your algae a freshwater variety?” She blinked at him in surprise. “Hey!” he exclaimed. “I listen to what you talk about!”

“You just never…” she looked down at her arm, brushing over the slick spot. “I don’t know. I used the other things so I’m sort of afraid of trying saltwater. Besides, the same species has been found in freshwater aquariums and off the coast of California.”

“Really?”

She nodded slowly, stared at the slimy patch for a moment, then said, “What if the algae has taken up a commensal relationship with epithelial cells?”

“You mean like lichen?”

She pursed her lips, looked him in the eye and nodded slowly.


February 11, 2018

WRITING ADVICE: Can This Story Be SAVED? #20 “Rock of Ages” (Submitted 8 Times Since 2005, Revised 3)


In September of 2007, I started this blog with a bit of writing advice. A little over a year later, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, In April of 2014, I figured I’d gotten enough publications that I could share some of the things I did “right”. I’ll keep that up, but I’m running out of pro-published stories. I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it, but someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. Hemingway’s quote above will remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales, but I’m adding this new series of posts because I want to carefully look at what I’ve done WRONG and see if I can fix it. As always, your comments are welcome!

ANALOG Tag Line:
How long you can hate someone has its limits, even when you are vastly different from the one who hurt you; and the hurting was done purely as an act of war.

Elevator Pitch (What Did I Think I Was Trying To Say?)
Two mortal enemies can forgive each other even after two centuries of enmity.

Opening Line:
“I’m ready to die.”

Onward:
“I think Sturgeon is ready to die, too.
“But before that moment, I need to see him face-to-face. The Ilshshlir and I can do First Contact and the Final Battle at the same time. For a hundred and seventy-one years, we have been marooned on Earth at the same time, apart. The moment to come together is upon us.”

What Was I Trying To Say?
This one was all about forgiveness and how it doesn’t just “happen”. Forgiveness is a verb, and it’s a two-way verb; and a universal need.

The Rest of the Story:
As written, I threw in some sort of tabloid reporter who, while he pretends the story is imaginary, has suspected their presence on Earth for some time. He has made their story his life’s work, and the story has taken on a life of its own, much as the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS’ “Batboy” series.

Smithe has grown old with them, though not as old as them – Sturgeon, of the Ilshshlir, a race of intelligent alien “fish”, and my unnamed (a la Ralph Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN) humanoid alien protagonist, of the Kuvor; have lived on Earth for a hundred and seventy years.

The story does include their initial battle and the end result that stranded them on Earth. When it appeared he be stuck on Earth for the rest of his life, the Kuvor had himself surgically altered to look more Human (the removal of a sixth finger) and has stories to explain his other “deformities”. He has married three times, adopting numerous children. He has also made several fortunes by introducing Kuvor technology to Humanity in bits and pieces.

My protagonist is ready to die, his people committing ritual suicide while still in their right mind, and at the onset of certain physical signs. He is old and wants to die in peace; and while he has been seeking Sturgeon, has only encountered him a few times in the nearly two centuries they’ve lived on Earth.

End Analysis:
The story is poignant, sad, but ultimately uplifting. However, it’s deeply marred by adding in the stupid Human who plays no role but to, I suppose, Humanize the story. The older versions included a scene in the newspaper’s HQ as well as a bar scene for the Kuvor.

I chopped it down and chopped it down until it’s almost to its bare essentials.

It’s almost there.

Can This Story Be Saved?
I need to drop the Human and add two battles, one where each one almost kills the other. One scene can be reminiscent of Ahab’s battle with Moby Dick – from the point of view of Sturgeon; the other perhaps can be reminiscent of the fight scene from INVISIBLE MAN, emphasizing that the nameless Kuvor will never BE Human, no matter how much he looks like a Human and learns to act Human. Few people will accept him as being, in a broader sense, Human.

So, yes. This story CAN be saved and I look forward to working on it and several others.


February 8, 2018

LOVE IN A TIME OF ALIEN INVASION 80: The Trial of Team Four

On Earth, there are three Triads intending 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. All three intelligences hover on the edge of extinction. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society might not only save all three – but become something not even they could predict. Something entirely new...

The young experimental Triads are made up of the smallest primate tribe of Humans – Oscar and Xiomara; the smallest canine pack of Kiiote – six, pack leaders Qap and Xurf; and the smallest camelid herd of Yown’Hoo – a prime eleven, Dao-hi the Herd mother. 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.

“We had nearly fallen into stagnation when we encountered the Kiiote.”
“And we into internecine war when we encountered the Yown’Hoo.”
 “Yown’Hoo and Kiiote have been defending themselves for a thousand revolutions of our Sun.”
 “Together, we might do something none of us alone might have done…a destiny that included Yown’Hoo, Kiiote, and Human.” (2/19/2015)

GURion refused to help me lead, it wasn’t like Retired. It had its own agenda. So the departure of Group Three was sort of dark thing for me. I’d be the last Human in the group with a robot, the Herd Mother Dao-hi, and two of the youngest Herd members.

The only startling part was that Xio kissed me before she left. Absolutely NOT like a sister. After we pulled apart, she also punched me in the chest and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, ‘Car, but I’m pretty sure you’re not my type.” She paused, “I might be interested in older men.” She gave me a dirty leer, adding, “Much older men.”

Then she led her team up the tunnel to the surface.

Shaking my head, I said to the rest of the Triad – without GURion or Retired, there were only me, Dao-hi, Lan-ma-ti, and Por-go-el. The Herd Mother would take care of her Herd. All I had to do was give direction…

Dao-hi pulled her tentacles free, snapping them at me; a Yown’Hoo challenge. There was only one thing she could be challenging, and even though I thought it was a moot point, I had to respond.

She was challenging my leadership. I knew the signals; I knew the stance, I knew what I had to do, even though I didn’t have tentacles. I had arms and I had one pair of legs – and my two might not have hooves, but they were ten times stronger than her.

I squatted, as if I was cowering, then throwing my arms into the air, I raced at Dao-hi; either she would step back and I would win, or she would stand her ground, fight back, and maybe shred my face with her saber-sharp hooves. She could; but I was heavier and faster on two feet. I could swing around, hop on her back…

Dao-hi gave ground, sheathed her tentacles, then keened – more like a wolf than when the Kiiote gave praises to their Herd Mountain. Every Herd had a place they claimed as their origin, the plain beneath a mountain peak somewhere on their world. Their highest form of praise was to do a song to the mountain; a song passed from the first Herd to become established there. The size of the mountain had once determined the prestige of the Herd. Obvious in ancient times – the biggest, oldest Herd had the best mountain range, and the best feeding. Everyone else was less.

Dao-hi was giving me command of her Herd whether she was there or not.

Suddenly she charged me, swinging her long neck and catching me full in the chest. She knocked me clear across the tunnel and she reared back, shouting, “There is no one here to protect you, small Human! No one here to make me your equal or the Pack’s equal when I am the one who is superior!” I staggered to my feet and she swung her head again. I didn’t move fast enough, and I couldn’t believe what she was saying – she was betraying us! She was betraying us to…

***
Her Human friend, companion, and Herd member slumped against the wall.

She loathed herself for betrayal. Por-go-el, potential male, and the potential intelligence Lan-mai-ti cowered as ‘Car had. He hadn’t believed her deceptive action. It was uncharacteristic of her kind; among real Herd, it might almost be deviant behavior! But she had learned from Humans and Kiiote; her people had learned from the Kiiote the sometime wisdom of committing a crime that would lead to greater good.

She leaned to sniff at ‘Car. He was alive, unconscious, and might have even broken a bone – the scent was there, though faint. The potential male and intelligence would soon discover if they were worthy of both the Herd and the Triad.

Dao-hi, Herd Mother snorted them to attention and said, “We must go!”

“Where Herd Mother?” the potential intelligence said.

To herself, she noted that this was a good sign. Out loud, she said, “Question me not, Nothing!”

Both cowered. She regretted harming ‘Car, but he orders came from a much higher power, so much higher that Dao-hi had first assumed it was a Kiiote deception or a Human trick – the apes were masters at the trick; sometimes not serious, sometimes worse that Kiiote deception. It was no wonder the Mother-of-All had never known exactly what to do with Humans – were they enemy or ally? Were they irrelevant or essential to the survival of Yown’Hoo? She’d grown up with them, and even Dao-hi wasn’t certain.

But Oscar was part of her Herd and she still wasn’t sure how to deal with this deception. She couldn’t philosophize any longer. She had a mission. “We go!” she snarled, then tipped her slender head back and howled. A moment later, she raced ahead, what remained of her Herd fast behind, at times dodging between her flashing legs. A short distance, and she found the abandoned branch of the tunnel and raced up the ramp screened by a holographic image of a collapsed tunnel wall. Ten minutes later, they emerged into a partially collapsed Human garage and after that, though an easily collapsed door and into belly deep snow surrounding a Human forestry station.

With a flash of hooves, she broke through untouched snow to lead her Herd into the dense pine woods.


February 6, 2018

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 342


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. Regarding Fantasy, this insight was startling: “I see the fantasy genre as an ever-shifting metaphor for life in this world, an innocuous medium that allows the author to examine difficult, even controversial, subjects with impunity. Honor, religion, politics, nobility, integrity, greed—we’ve an endless list of ideals to be dissected and explored. And maybe learned from.” – Melissa McPhail.

Current Event: Earth and prairie structures integrating land and technology… https://www.onecommunityglobal.org/highest-good-housing/

 Sahkyo Uskilith shielded his eyes from the glaring noon sun over Central. Long spells, sacrifice – no more Human ones! – and research into the ancient ways had restored this small part of the world.

Wohehiv Fisher-Rainingbird snorted. She took the same pose, then said, “Some of you seem to think that this wonder you’ve conjured is going to be utopia.”

Sahkyo shrugged. “Not utopia, but a fair chance to do things a different way.”

“What things?”

He looked at his long-time friend and research fellow. They’d joined the Prairie Project for different reasons. She was doing research on prairie biomes and how Humans could repopulate some of them. He, on the other hand, “Calling back the spirits instead of driving them away.” He was working on his masters degree in revival, not of literal, human beings from the dead – he shuddered – but reviving spirits that had been drained by the constant attack of the mechanistic methodologies used to conquer land and beast.

That kind of magic wasn’t available in the United States. He’d heard there was an underground college of the dark arts somewhere in the Carpathian mountains that specialized in combining biogenetic research with magic. Not something he wanted to pursue. He was…

“Wohehiv to Afterlife! Where are you?”

“I’ve invited someone to our excursion today.”

She scowled, “You didn’t even ask me!”

“The opportunity presented itself suddenly. I had to invite them before they left.”

“Where’s he from?”

“She,” he paused to let that tidbit sink in, continuing, “is a research fellow visiting from The College of Truly Ancient Arts.” They reached the car and he unlocked it with a motion of his fingers. His parents had gotten him a recent model equipped with camera locks. His mother had pointed out that audio locks were easy to pick using a throat modification spell.

Wohehiv – Dull Knife – said, “Never heard of it. Or her.”

He lifted his chin, “She’s from the University of Minnesota’s School of Trolddom…”

She knew her jaw dropped open and she blinked in surprise. “That school was closed a hundred years ago!”

“I would guess that it wasn’t,” he said, smirking.

“Danish magic is only good for making pastry…”

“They turned aside an attack from the Carpathian Mountains…”

“When? Last year? The Dawn of the Time of Magic?” She started to laugh, then added, “You’re not talking about Vlad the Impaler, are you, because if you are, I’m leaving…”

“Not Vlad. Radu, his brother. He was a far more powerful necromancer than his brother. The reason was that the spells required the blood of the one who worked the spell. Vlad’s propensity for blood sacrifice – most notably the blood of others – kept his magic fairly pedestrian.” He paused. “If we are going to truly colonize the Great Plains, we need powerful magic. This woman has studies Radu for the past five years. He has something we need.”

She stepped away from her friend. She knew he was a magician of some skill and power, her own charms and magicks were child’s play compared to him. “What?”

“The ability to change Humans into grass eaters instantly…”

Names: ♀ Navajo ; Cheyenne

February 4, 2018

Slice of PIE: Military SF: Pro-war or Anti-war?

Using the Programme Guide of the World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki Finland in August 2017 (to which I will be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Programme Guide. The link is provided below…

“Joe Haldeman's The Forever War is still relevant after 40 years. Even though it was meant as a Vietnam protest originally it could easily apply to the Middle East today. Why is anti-war military SF still written or is it? Should it be?”

Leon Perniciaro: German writer, teacher, and translator
Robert Corvus: German fantasy and science fiction writer; BattleTech, Das schwarze Auge (The Black Eye), Perry Rhodan, dark fantasy, and scientifically solid SF novels 
i. simes: journalist, publishing editor, and bookseller
Joe Haldeman: SFWA Grand Master, five Hugos, five Nebulas; World Fantasy Award ; SF Hall of Fame

The plot from Amazon.com: “Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand--despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties and do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But ‘home’ may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries...”

In an interview, Haldeman said in part, “The novel was unique in the fact that it was a war story at heart, but not explicitly right-wing, like most similar works of the time. The theme of The Forever War became, “…dealing with people who are fundamentally different from you [in terms of] appetites, tastes, philosophies, who still have to work together…When talking about the influences on the book, Haldeman noted that he ‘grew up in this humanistic, anti-establishment tradition of science fiction writers,’ and that he was ‘influenced by his generation's desire to change the world.’…publishers, science fiction war stories were ‘very, very right-wing, very masculine, [had] no sex and a very heavy God influence.’ Instead of trying to fit into that mold, Haldeman decided not to pay attention to what came before.”

It’s interesting the Haldeman didn’t “bash the military” or rail against “unfair wars” or the Military-Industrial Machine. Instead, he notes that THE FOREVER WAR is, in fact, a war story even though it’s not right-wing.

The theme of his work, as related by the author, isn’t anti-war. It’s about relationships and how we need to work with people who are different than us.

Somehow, I suspect (though can’t know for sure, because, you know, like I said above, I wasn’t there…this is all about jumping off the parameters of the sessions as published and then seeing what bubbles up), that the attendees might have had less benevolent intent in their discussions. I can hear people talking about how the author intended to say that not only is war bad (except when it’s twisted to fit whatever the ruling party’s agenda includes), it’s always the fault of the “other side”, whether it is or not. For example, a Democrat actually led the escalation of the war (Lyndon B. Johnson) in response to a North Vietnamese offensive; a Republican began the withdrawal of American troops…but that’s not something that SF people like to talk about.

We all like our ideologies to be right, tight, and black-and-white.

Haldeman had something to say about war, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the intended lesson of the Right or Left. I think he intended to say that war is personal, even when it’s “fought by nations”.

My neighbors – and several students – are Hmong. The state I live in has the third largest Hmong population on Earth and was the first state of the Union to have a Hmong legislator who went on to serve for eight years. I often wonder about the journey they took to get here. I tried to reflect some of what I’ve seen in a short story I wrote (but couldn’t sell for some time). If you want to read it, it’s here: http://aurorawolf.com/2016/09/carpe-hnub/

The intent of this Slice of PIE is to point out that the man who changed the direction of “anti-war” science fiction wasn’t interested in serving the “anti-war” political machine (make no mistake – it’s as much a machine as the political war machine; it just pulls in the opposite direction just as hard and just as nasty). What he clearly says here is that the theme of The Forever War became, “…dealing with people who are fundamentally different from you [in terms of] appetites, tastes, philosophies, who still have to work together…”

Sounds like it’s not JUST about war, either. War is just the backdrop of a story about people. People like my neighbors…

Resource: https://theportalist.com/joe-haldeman-tells-the-story-behind-the-forever-war (The Portalist is a haven for science fiction and fantasy fans. We value imagination and science equally, and welcome all who are curious, passionate, and eager for an uplifting, inclusive view of the universe.)