December 31, 2013


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: “In 1953, Isaac Asimov published an article titled ‘Social Science Fiction’ in Modern Science Fiction. In that article he stated that every science fiction plot ultimately falls into one of three categories: Gadget, Adventure, or Social.” This week: “Adventure: The invention is used as a dramatic prop. It may be the solution to a problem, or it may be causing the problem itself, but the main focus is on the caper and how the invention's presence helps or hinders it.”

Keven Mean floated free of the International Space Station and turned so that he could look down on the BA 330 module that had just been connected.

Beside him, following NASA protocol, his fellow cadet Brooklyn Kukk floated. She said, “They say it’s haunted.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Keven asked. He was self-conscious of his Brazilian accent and tried to imitate a Midwestern American one in his English.

“You must have heard about the accident when they were putting on the finishing touches down on Earth?”


“Yeah,” she said, stopping to breathe for a few moments and move closer to the module. “They were working inside and a section of the floor collapsed – not that it would do anything like that out here in micrograv – but on Earth I guess it was a big deal. Killed him in a freaky way, too.”

Keven jetted forward, pushing his tether out of the way. Behind them, two regular crew of the ISS monitored their work. It was a simple maneuver – attaching a UHF antenna to a socket on the BA 330. Nothing could go wrong. He focused. Brooklyn made him nervous. Aside from the fact that she seemed to like him and was always putting her hand on him, she was also very dramatic. He wasn’t much, despite the reputation of his fellow Brasilias. His parents had been masters at hiding everything – their anger, their joy, their divorce, when they gave him to a state-run orphanage.

“You ever see that old movie, ‘Gravity’?” Brooklyn said suddenly.

Over their headsets, one of the crew said, “This is López, focus on your work, trainees.”

“I am,” Keven said.

López continued, “Good job, Mean. But just to calm your fears, the Skysweeper Act has done a good job of clearing out all the junk floating around out here.”

“What about the robots themselves?” Brooklyn said as they moved toward the socket. The antennae, delivered – ironically, Keven thought – by a robotic maintenance robot about an hour earlier, floated on its own tether nearby.


“As far as anyone has been able to tell,” López said with a laugh, “There have been no rogue AIs wandering near-Earth space preparing to rain a hail of death down on the governments of the planet.”

Brooklyn gasped then said, “You’ve seen ‘Skies Of Death’?”

López said, “It’s how we pass our nights and days here.”

“So there’s no chance that an AI could spontaneously become an intelligence?”

“This is the universe you’re talking about – there’s no assurances to apply for, none given.”


López cut her off, “You have a job to do, Kukk. Please proceed.”

She snorted and jetted forward. As she did, she muttered, “This was supposed to be an adventure. I haven’t seen anything adventurous since I signed the contract…”

The edges of Keven’s helmet abruptly turned red, flashing on and off and a keening sound filled his headphones.

Names: ♀Canada (P.E.I.), Estonia ; ♂ Aruba, Brazil (Divine)

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