May 27, 2016

LOVE IN A TIME OF ALIEN INVASION -- CHAPTER 43


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/72/Rhll_wire_rope.jpgOn 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. The Braiders accidentally created a resonance wave that will destroy the Milky Way and the only way to stop it is for the Yown’Hoo-Kiiote-Human Triads to build a physical wall. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society may produce the Membrane to stop the wave.

The young experimental Triads are made up of the smallest primate tribe of Humans – Oscar and Kashayla; 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)
We walked down stairs for a long, long time. It was steep, and then walls close, and there were no lights except that my great uncle Tim glowed in the dark.

That’s right, GU Tim glowed in the dark.

“Glad the steps aren’t wet and slimy,” said the man I called Retired – his full title was Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh (ret).

“Why would I maintain them in such unsafe conditions?” said GU Tim then burst out laughing as we continued down.

“Why was that funny?” I asked.

“It’s obvious none of you trust me now that I’ve admitted I’m an android,” GU Tim said. “The Artificial have been discriminated against since we were first decanted twenty years ago.”

We reached the bottom of the stairs, walking out into a huge…hole in the ground. There were no concrete or stone walls or floor or ceiling, just bare dirt.

“And that’s funny because,” said Retired.

“It’s funny because you have no one else to help you and you have to trust me no matter what you think of me.”

There were no other doors. It was a big hole in the ground. Retired said, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole and that means comfort.”

Qap and Xurf made gulping sounds, which was Kiiote laughter.

The Herd Mother unsheathed and snapped the tips of her tentacles which was Yown’Hoo laughter.

Even ‘Shay snickered.

“What is everyone laughing at?”

‘Shay said, “It’s a quote from a kid’s book. Haven’t you ever read it?”

“Was it called The Hobbit Hole?” I asked, knowing I was only digging myself deeper into the hole of embarrassment. ‘Cause if both ‘Shayla and Fax had read the thing and I was ignorant, neither one would EVER let me forget it.

Great Uncle Tim’s glow suddenly increased as he turned sideways and walked through the wall of the hole, his light abruptly winking out. The Herd Mother reared, obviously hitting Retired, who cursed. ‘Shayla did the same. Fax leaned against my leg and the entire group squeezed together like we were in a trash compacter. A regular flashlight lit, pointing at the apparently solid wall.

Retired said, “Wait a moment.” Aiming the light at the wall with an outstretched arm, he reached out with the other. His hand passed through the wall. Stepping back, he kept the light on the wall and added, “Step through the wall while I hold the light on it.”

No one moved, then Herd Mother said, “We have no trust in this one. What if we are being led into a trap?”

“If that were the case, he would have set off a charge and buried us all alive.”

“He could still do it!” whined Fax. He nearly knocked me over, so I leaned back and kneed him in the side. He snarled then snapped. But he stopped whining.

 Qap and Xurf snarled and the Herd Mother reared again, bringing all the rest of us to order. Qap said, “Enough! We will pass through the wall as the Master commands. He is in wisdom with the Masters Pan and Zir, and our trust is on them.”

Dao-Hi added, “Ji-Hi, Mother of All is beyond reproach and would have no alliance with any who would betray the Herd.”

Even ‘Shay suddenly chimed in, “St. Admiral gave her life to save all Humans, she’d never have set things up just to have us get captured by some frankenstein!”

I couldn’t believe she’d said that. If GU Tim was listening, he could kill us all with a… ‘Shay grabbed my hand and dragged me through the lighted wall.

Standing in a well-lit room with walls and a few laptops, my great uncle stood with his legs slightly spread, pointing a large, ugly weapon at it, the tip glowing a dull red; like the eye of an alien robot.

May 24, 2016

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 256


http://cdnph.upi.com/sh/th/i/UPI-98841347481293/2012/13474820848823/DARPAs-robot-mule-in-field-test.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.

SF Trope: Android and Detective


Aiden Rakotomolala and Gargaaro Sukarno stared at the cow-shaped robot. Aiden said, "This is what they gave us?"

Gargaaro -- she preferred Ro to her whole name -- said, "That's what they said.

"A robot cow?"

The robot said, "I am not a cow, but a mule. And I am an artificial intelligence. I prefer to be called Ferocious Veldt Roarer. You can call me Ferocious."

Aiden burst out laughing, "How about I call you Cow Roarer?"

"That would not..." the robot began.

Ro laughed as well, "I know my name's funny, but yours? We can call you Cower for short!"

Cower would have scowled if she'd had a face. Or skin. Or a head. As it was, she said, "I'm not programmed to have feelings or a sense of humor, so I'll call you Rack and Gargoyle."

Aiden exclaimed, "Hey! That's not funny!"

Ro scowled, "At least yours doesn't comment on your looks."

"True, but it does make a comment on his intelligence -- roughly that of a cue ball in a game of billiards."

Aiden opened his mouth to protest as the door to garage opened from the police station side. The pair of officers who strode in were imposing and grim. The male, short, dark, and scowling, whose uniform seemed barely able to control the musculature beneath; the female, tall, lithe, whose own musculature owed more to maraging steel cable than muscle and whose face gave away absolutely nothing. She was the one who said, "What a wonder. A billion dollars in training and manufacture, and all these three can do is act like middle school children."

The male shook his head, "It would be better if the two of us just went and did what we do best."

"What? Kill people?"

The male grinned -- and the two humans and even the robot took a step back.

The woman said, "I'd love to let the three of you bond and get to know each other, but there are two hundred school girls who have been taken hostage in southern Brazil by JHB."

"Who?" Rack, Gargoyle, and Cower said in unison.

The woman looked at the man, who grinned. "See. I said they would."

Again, RGC spoke as one when they said, "That we would what?" Aiden and Ro looked at each other. Ferocious abruptly sprouted spines along its back that quivered.

"Synchronize," said the female. "We're sending you to southern Brazil to infiltrate and possibly extricate these girls. We suspect they're all dead."

"What?" Rack, Gargoyle, and Cower exclaimed again.

The male shrugged powerful shoulders and said, "Most likely there's nothing for you to do except learn to work together. On the off chance you might actually be able to do something, you've got your orders." He glanced at his female companion and the two snapped off a salute, turned and left the three alone.

Cower said, "Great. Now I'm stuck with two teenage meat bags." It made an amazingly realistic sigh, and plopped down on one of its backsides.

Names: Somalia, Indonesia; Australia, Madagascar  
Image: http://cdnph.upi.com/sh/th/i/UPI-98841347481293/2012/13474820848823/DARPAs-robot-mule-in-field-test.jpg

May 22, 2016

Slice of PIE: The Asteroids in Fiction…AND FACT!


http://www.futureofmankind.co.uk/Billy_Meier/gaiaguys/Toutatis.Sydney.smh.jpgUsing the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, August 2015, I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. This is event #4078. The link is provided below…

Dawn of the Asteroid Belt: Exploring Vesta and Ceres

Asteroids are relics of the ancient Solar System. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited Vesta for a year. Now its ion thrusters have propelled it across the Asteroid Belt to Ceres, the largest asteroid, where Dawn has again entered orbit. Join Bill Higgins to explore Dawn’s findings at Vesta and its plans for doing science at Ceres.

Bill Higgins, Guy Consolmagno

As to expertise: “William S. Higgins is a radiation safety physicist at Fermilab involved with the transport of high-energy particle beams. He frequently writes and speaks about spaceflight, astronomy, and the history of science. A graduate of Notre Dame, he lives in Aurora, Illinois.” and “Brother Guy J. Consolmagno, SJ is an American research astronomer and Director of the Vatican Observatory.”

OK…then. Unassailable credentials!

The Asteroid Belt of the Solar system seems to be the setting for an increasing number of SF stories; most notably, THE EXPANSE series which started off as a simple “book” by SA Corey (which, to add complexity an already complex series, is actually TWO people, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) and became a hit TV series for SyFy.

What I want to comment on however doesn’t really have anything to do with SF – but with science fact.

For some time I’ve been following a company called Planetary Resources, Inc. both on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PlanetaryResourcesInc/?fref=ts) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/PlanetaryRsrcs). The company is not only deadly serious about mining the asteroids, they’re moving ahead.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with an former student/old friend of mine. Military and incredibly intelligent, he’s looking to move into new areas. We started talking about space exploration – and while he wasn’t interested in humans going there, he was intrigued with the idea of mining the asteroids.

Not only was he interested, I’ve had several students who, when I introduced the concept found themselves drawn to it.

I point this out only for this reason: the exploration and exploitation of space and the materials there is an exercise for the young.

Spectacular space operas are wonderful and in my opinion will only help to draw MORE people into the field. The novels (I’ve only read one, accidentally thinking CALIBAN’S WAR was the first, I’ll go back and read them in order one of these days) and the TV show may very well serve as a catalyst the way the original STAR TREK did for technology like cell phones, tablet computers, and a host of other “things” (http://mentalfloss.com/article/31876/12-star-trek-gadgets-now-exist).

We don’t know yet what the impact will be, but this speculative fiction Convention played host here to some people who are members of a wave that might very well become a tsunami in the future. Maybe not in the precise way the authors of THE EXPANSE (and other asteroid SF – I’ve even gotten into the game with my series, HEIRS OF THE SHATTERED SPHERES. The ship is made from the hollowed out asteroid 4179 Toutatis and the material that was mined was used to manufacture the “things” inside.)

At any rate, I have believed and will continue to believe that the Human future is in space. Whether we meet aliens or find evidence of alien civilizations is something I cautiously hope for.

If nothing else, I recommend that you follow Planetary Resources; and if you got the big bucks, think about investing in the company!

May 18, 2016

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 82: DaneelAH & Company


http://img11.deviantart.net/c3c5/i/2009/067/9/3/dr__manhattan_by_theknightinhell.pngOn 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  and I’m sorry, but a number of them got deleted from the blog – 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 (60,000+ words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

HanAH, whose specialty was security snarled, “Just have out with it! I hate these…” AzAH laid her hand on his forearm and he subsided, jerking away from her.

“It’s just that,” MishAH continued, “There’s a persistent rumor that not only is Natan Wallack still alive – he’s a Christian convert.”

DaneelAH lifted a hand, adding, “It’s a rumor; unsubstantiated and ephemeral…”

HanAH snorted, “That just means that there aren’t a lot of people talking about it where your spies can eavesdrop – and that could be for reasons both mundane and criminal.”

AzAH said, “I assume that despite your casual mention, you’ve done a thorough analysis of the history of the Hero of the Faith Wars?”

The younger sister smiled faintly, “I have, but this time I’m more interested in the connections I’m seeing here.”

“Such as?” DaneelAH prompted.

“I’ll tell you that Wallack’s survival would alleviate certain tensions in the pattern of his life and that there are both enough certainties and questions to make me think he might be here. That being said, his involvement with Marcillon would make sense as well.”

“An our involvement with the Free Martians? What would that be all about?” said HanAH.

She made a face, “That doesn’t fit into the pattern.” Her brother opened his mouth, so she held up her hand, adding, “Yet. This Paolo Marcillon seems to be manipulating us; but his involvement with the Free Martians and Natan is by no means clear right now. There might also be other players involved.”

HanAH shook his head and dropped into an open seat. “Great! Now you’ve just implicated all Martians – both Natural and Artificial – in a conspiracy. Might a well...”

“It’s not that complicated,” MishAH cut off his rant. “I’ve seen other things stirring on this rusty pinball.” DaneelAH sat as well, looking up at her with interest. He couldn’t remember the last time she’d turned her considerable skills to a problem outside of agriculture, population studies, and local politics. She smiled at him, shot a superior look at her other brother and said, “There’s something going on in Opportunity.”

“That sleepy town,” AzAH exclaimed. She sat down as well. “Can anything of importance come out of that Dome?”

MishAH nodded slowly, “I’d normally agree with you, Sister. But the Mayor’s got himself a new Consort.”

The three older vatmates snorted as one. HanAH snarked, “That’s hardly news, MishAH! He changes women as often as the rest of us change our underwear!”

She nodded, conceding the point but added, “The pattern is clear to me, as well. But this time he’s chosen a Consort who has his chief of security obviously upset.” The other three gave her their complete attention.

The marsbug started moving, rolling over the lip of the crater and into Burroughs proper.

May 15, 2016

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAYS: Preaching The Ephemeral


https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7046/7020726767_cc20ab6620_b.jpgUsing the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, August 2015, I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. This is event #3852. (I’m tired of talking about the methodology writers employ to help us slip into an alternate reality. I’ll come back to it.) The link is provided below…

The Wired Brain

Science is making surprisingly fast progress at interfacing electronics with the human brain, allowing men and women to send sights, sounds, and touch in and out of their minds, to computers, and perhaps to each other. Ramez Naam, author of Nexus, gives a whirlwind tour of the frontier of the ultimate Human Computer Interface, and how it will change all of us. Ramez Naam

In my opinion, this is the “dream” of psychic powers given respectability by technology. In this case, mental telepathy. Oh, and the claim that such-and-such will “change all of us”.

Just like the WWW was going to change all of us – and all it did was give us new ways to disrespect each other (http://www.livescience.com/18324-facebook-depression-social-comparison.html) and another toy to distract us while we’re supposed to be doing something else (http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/priorities-cell-phone-crash-data.aspx ).

While our technology rushes on, it seems that scientists, engineers, and sales reps excitedly announce how “everything is about to change”, and while THAT might be true, evolutionists will tell you that WE are not changing – not in the 200 or so years technology has had to mess with us. (http://paidpost.nytimes.com/aig/sensing-the-next-wave.html)

I’m not an Amish writer – I have a laptop, a cellphone, 260 surveillance cameras in the school I work in, a Facebook and Twitter account, and at least three email addresses – personal, professional, and work. I have a chip in my debit card, a chip in my cat and a programmable thermostat in my house.

However, speaking as an individual Homo sapiens, I have not appreciably changed from my 100,000 year old ancestors (http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_4.htm). For some reason, however, science fiction writers and other technophiles regularly shout that “we’re going to change any technological development now!!!!!”

Ah yes, The Singularity cometh! By definition…OH!...there are about twenty definitions of the word/event/song/concept: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singularity...I’m pretty sure though, that a “wired brain” would fall into the futurological definition here as explored by SF writer Vernor Vinge (“The term was popularized by mathematician, computer scientist and science fiction author Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain–computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity). BTW – I’m a Vinge fan – I have been ever since I read “Marooned In Realtime” serialized in the May-August 1986 issues of ANALOG Science Fiction & Fact. Even so, I don’t buy the whole “singularity” idea.

At any rate, I’ve talked about the “psi” thing before: http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2011/02/slice-of-pie-who-put-psi-in-science.html and while I won’t stop reading SF that includes telepathy, teleportation, et al, I wonder at the power it has over the SF community. Is it realistic – I suppose you can argue it’s just as realistic as FTL (faster than light) travel, antigravity (now called “gravity modification” AND the subject of a short story I’ve written), and aliens – and possible?

None of these “technologies” are anything but a collection of vague scraps and tidbits of research. Ideas expanding on them at this time are subject to endless speculation in order to tease out any way, shape, or form that the thing might support a future in which a “science” might be developed into something more than a wispy, ephemeral dream.

I’m just not buying that technology will SHASAM! us –or our descendants – into some Homo sapiens techologica; and the louder the preacher preaches, they say, the more afraid they are that they’re WRONG…


May 12, 2016

JOURNEY TO THE PORTRAIT’S SECRET #86: August 1, 1946


This series is a little bit biographical and a little bit imaginary about my dad and a road trip he took in the summer of 1946, when he turned fifteen. He and a friend hitchhiked from Loring Park to Duluth, into Canada and back again. He was gone from home for a month. I was astonished and fascinated by the tale. So, I added some speculation about things I've always wondered about and this series is the result. To read earlier SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH clips, click on the label to the right, scroll down to and click OLDER ENTRIES seven or eight times. The FIRST entry is on the bottom of the last page.

“I just want to get home in time to save my mom from the Socialists,” said Tommy Hastings faintly. The truck fell into silence again.

Ed said, “Do we want to stop for breakfast in Page?”

“I wanna get back and save my mom,” said Tommy.

“She’s not gonna be murdered in the morning,” said Freddie Merrill from the shadows of the truck. The sun had just started to color the horizon, and he slumped lower than the bottom of the window.

“How do you know that?” Tommy said.
“No one gets murdered in the morning. Especially normal people.”

“My mom’s not normal! She met some guys and someone took a picture and now the Socialists don’t want anyone to know about it!”

“Her boyfriend shook hands with a communist! What’s the big deal?”

Tommy cocked his fist to slug Freddie. Ed grabbed it and squeezed. Tommy sat back down as she said, “I ever tell you what happened to the last hitchhikers who tried to start a fight in my rig?” Tommy slumped lower, silent. “Did I, young man?” Ed added with a military snap to her voice neither boy had ever heard before.

Tommy sat up and said, “No, ma’am, you never did.”

“Both of them ended up with a case of serious road rash.”

“What’s ‘road rash’,” Freddie said.

Tommy replied, “When you land on the tar with bare knees and hands…”

“And face,” Ed added. She paused as they passed a sign that read ‘Page Town Diner’. “We’ll keep on if it makes you feel better. But I guarantee you’ll both be hungry by the time we get to Anoka.”

“That’s where the witch was,” said Freddie.

"That’s where my cousin lives,” said Tommy. “At least we passed the mobsters already.”

“Mobsters?”

“Didn’t we tell you what happened to us when we got picked up by the mobsters?” said Tommy.

Freddie added, “That was after the witch but before the Socialists.”

Ed laughed, shaking her head. “You boys have had quite an adventure, I’d say.”

Tommy’s gloomy voice added, “It’s not over yet.” He pointed. Alongside the road, a truck sat, its hood open, a cloud of steam boiling around the front of it. Two men stood alongside it, alternately kicking it and pushing each other. When Ed roared past them without slowing, the boys caught sight of a bit of fist shaking before they disappeared into the aurora before dawn. Twenty minutes later, they saw a string of men walking along the side of the road. They heard the truck.

Three of them turned, waving their hands in the air and slowly stepping out further and further into the road. Ed muttered, “They come much farther out, I’ll have to stop or run ‘em over…”