October 30, 2014

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 61: Paolo Enroute

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.

Staring down at the strange satellite, Paolo Marcillon ran through magnetic scans and while there was curious blip over the surface at 9 Tesla, the level typically used for MRIs in hospitals, but that was all. There wasn’t anything else he could do, though possibly...He tried a sonar pulse and fell backward, stunned, blind, and deaf.

He woke with a pounding headache, staring into the noon Sun. A bit less than half as bright as the Sun that would have blinded him from Earth, it still made the pounding in his head worse. He slow-rolled: rocking back and forth until he was able to get on his side. On his side, he could wriggled until his arm was down and he could push himself up. Knees. Then stand up. Panting, he finally stood looking down at the satellite.

He’d never heard of anything like it. Why would any Earth satellite react to sonar? He bent to gently test the satellite’s weight. He picked it up easily then cautiously moved toward the ‘bug. The thing might have some sort of mass reduction, but that didn’t mean it’s inertia would have been cancelled. In fact, he couldn’t make any assumptions about the thing.

Once inside, he set it down inside the airlock and closed the inside door, evacuating the lock again. He unsealed his helmet and popped off the upper torso and set it down, staring through the window at the satellite. He closed pulled the shield over the window and went to the lab station. Designed in the olden days to monitor and direct research studies, most marsbugs still tipped their collective helmets to their science roots.

It still had a suite of equipment. He tapped the viewscreens in the airlock to life. Six screens, floor to ceiling, one from above, another one to roam. It also allowed for examination of an object or objects in multiple perspectives as well as a variable frequencies.

He’d already done a simple scan with the limited equipment of the suit. There was only the suit recorder, but it’s depth was minimal. He started as he had before, though at the highest end of the electromagnetic spectrum. The thing had been exposed to cosmic rays for however long it had lain on the surface of Mars before he ran over it.

He laughed low, starting the visual record as well as records spanning the EM spectrum: gamma rays sliding into X-rays through UV into visible light. He got an odd spike at 550 nanometers what the Human eye recognized as green light. For a  moment, he thought he saw faded writing. He backed the generator to 550 again. Markings leaped out at him, incomprehensible but clearly intelligent. He left it for a while, then ran the movable camera over as much of the visible surface as he could. He could analyze it later.

Ramping it up again, he slid through infrared wave, radio, and finally the lowest frequencies of radio. Sound waves required that he poke around in the computer for a while before he finally found a program that would generate sound at both frequency and decibel.

He set it up to start, watching carefully, hoping that at whatever frequency the satellite had reflected back to him would be deflected or absorbed by the walls of the airlock.

Beginning at ten Hertz, he set the program to vary frequency in hundred Hz intervals first then increase decibels from zero to the loudest sound ever recorded – the explosion of a thermonuclear device. After the first blast, he toned it back. His suit hadn’t been able to make anything even close to that amount of noise. He figured he could continue running it from silence to a jack hammer at one meter. He barely heard that through the lock.

He watched and listened as the frequency rose from two thousand to twenty thousand Hz. No reaction. The pitch went up until he heard nothing. The meter read thirty-eight thousand, four hundred and twelve Hz when one of the screens blanked – the one closest to a rectangular marking he’d seen at 550 nm. Logically, that might be the “nozzle” of the ultrasound “gun”.

But why did it have the ability to broadcast in the ultrasonic in the first place. He set the chamber to 55o nm and 38,412 Hz or 38 kHz, slowing the recording rate of the overhead camera and fired again.

Staggering backwards, Paolo crumpled to the floor.

October 29, 2014


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: Aesoptinium ((http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Aesoptinum)

Current Event:

Sophie Sperl stared at the researcher and pursed her lips. "How is this legal?"

The technician who was hooking up the wires that led into the helmet shrugged. "You're like fourteen?" Sophie nodded slowly. He continued, "And you're in a maximum security prison, so I figure you probably committed some really bad crime, so you have no, like, rights or anything." Sophie growled and squirmed. The tech looked at her and said, "I should let you know that the room is completely monitored and I'm armed with a taser,  and whoever's watching can send sleep gas into here in a second." He worked for a while then said, "What'd you do?"

Sophie snorted. "I killed someone."
"Duh," said the tech.

Sophie looked at him and said, "What's your name, handsome?" She squirmed in the chair until the straps pressed up under her breasts.

"Arnava Boqpool, and I'm gay."

Sophie looked disappointed and squirmed until she was comfortable again.

"Sorry, kiddo."

"You're the same age as me! I'm as much of a kiddo as you are!"

He shrugged, finished the contacts in the helmet and said, "Yeah, but I'm a genius."

"I am, too."

"You're a genius at murder. I'm a genius at being a sponge."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

He picked up the helmet and tried to place it on her head. She snapped her head back and forth until he stopped and said, "You can be conscious for this or I can tase you out cold." He shrugged. "Up to you."

She stopped struggling and let him put the helmet on her head. He snugged a strap under her chin and said, "There. This shouldn't take too long. They say your brain is no match for mine."

He sat down across from her and lifted an aluminum bad bristling with wires and spikes and placed it on his head.

"What, you're a refugee from GAME OF THRONES?"

"Nope." He leaned to one side and said, "When I turn on the interface, we'll meet mind to mind. You'll try and kill me. I'll absorb you like so much spilled Koolaid." He flipped the switch.

Names: India ; , Germany

Resource: “Robert Sawyer…Neanderthal Parallax…plans sent by aliens…lets people read each other’s minds...strongly implied that this will lead to utopia.”          

October 26, 2014

WRITING ADVICE: What Went Right With My Second Book (the one I just sold!) Guy Stewart #8

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, Lin Oliver speak at a convention hosted by the Minnesota Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Since then, I have shared (with their permission) and applied the writing wisdom of Lin Oliver, Jack McDevitt, Nathan Bransford, Mike Duran, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, SL Veihl, Bruce Bethke, and Julie Czerneda. Together they write in genres broad and deep, and have acted as agents, editors, publishers, columnists, and teachers.

While I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it...neither do all of the professional writers above...someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. When I started this blog, that was NOT true, so I may have reached a point where my own advice is reasonably good. We shall see! Hemingway’s quote to the left will now remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales! As always, your comments are welcome!

I’ve been going through my publishing successes chronologically, and at this point, I should be writing about my CICADA story, “Dear Hunter”. But that can wait until next time.

 What did I do right about VICTORY OF FISTS, the novel I and my agent just sold?

I know it’s going to seem prosaic, but I’m close enough to this sudden reversal of my “fortunes” that I can see with clarity. Two weeks ago…what was I doing right? Truth? It goes way farther back than that.

I had finished and was submitting a novel called THE BIZARRO FAMILY PROJECT about a teen girl who lives with her grandmother, Esther; her grandmother’s boyfriend, cousins, and assorted friends and guests join them to stay for various lengths of time at a B&B in Stillwater, MN. Suddenly Esther dies. Does her granddaughter, her boyfriend, her other grand kids, and the passel of odd friends have anything in common – other than her? The book was about them all discovering that Esther loved each of them differently...yet she loved them all. Is that enough to stay together?

An editor wrote back to tell me that he wasn’t taking the book because it wasn’t “edgy” enough. Incensed, I said – actually and factually out loud – “Not edgy enough? Not edgy enough? I’ll show YOU edgy!”

After thinking about the students at the high school I work at and what they like, what draws their attention and the popularity of my son’s favorite movie, “Fight Club”, I figured that if I wanted my book to get into a school, I’d have to have a fight in it. I’d broken up MORE than  my fair share of them. They drew immense crowds automatically and once there’s one in the school, no one can talk about anything else.

OK. So. Now what? I wanted to offer a solution, but anything I could think of right off the top of my head sounded trite. So I looked at it from another point of view – if I wanted it in the schools – my school in particular, I needed to figure out what ELSE young adults love.

There’s really only one other choice: poetry.

NOT the Robert Browning variety.

The spoken word kind. The Poetry Jam type. The rapper type. The beat type. As a high school counselor, I’ve been privileged to read the intimate poems of hundreds of students. Abused students. Confused students. Enraged students. Pouring your heart out on paper, ipad, twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, or KakaoTalk is common, no matter how good or bad a student is in English class. Kids write poetry because it’s short and expressive and it is unbounded by rules and regulations.

So I rammed the two together: Teen loves to fight but has to stop. Redirects anger into poetry. Wins college (in biomechanical engineering, no less). Gets girl. The end.

I wrote it. I finished it.


I sent it to the editor who’d told me my first book wasn’t edgy enough, but either VICTORY OF FISTS wasn’t edgy enough or I hadn’t polished it enough yet. He was the one however, who commented that it was “FIGHT CLUB” for boys. I sent it out again and again then entered it in the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award competition. It was a gamble. I waited, watching as more than 1000 novels were entered before the gates closed...

Depression. I would NEVER make the cut.

And then I did: first, I made the Top 1000 Best; a month later, I made the Top 250 Best; another month, and I found I’d made the Top 50!; in June of 2010, the sad news: I was out of the running.

Did I give up and throw it away? I wanted to for a while, but I loved the story. I loved the people. I loved what happened in it. But ultimately, I’m too stubborn for that.

But I DID take the next step – I started submitting the book to AGENTS. I’d never felt I had a story strong enough to make an agent pitch. Over the next year, VoF was rejected another fourteen times by agents and editors. Then the first fifty pages reached my agent’s desk in the summer of 2011 – though she was not my agent yet.

She wanted to see all of it! I sent it.

She rejected it immediately.

She said she got tired of Langston’s constant whining. I read it again, agreed and revised it entirely over the next month. (Did I mention my wife led the cheer section as I did this, constantly encouraging and believing in me and the story? She did. My daughter was also on the squad. And her good friend from school. Without their unwavering belief, I’d have given up.)

I sent it again.

She rejected it, sending notes back suggesting ways I might improve it. I nearly gave up right then, sending it to another agent. It was February, the depth of winter in Minnesota. It seemed like I lived outside of Depression City, MN. I didn’t know what else to do but rewrite it, this time taking the axe to some fundamental aspects of the story, primarily Langston’s motivation. I sent it again.

For five months, I heard NOTHING. The crickets were chirping from the distant shores of the West Coast. Then in July of 2012, she wrote to say she LOVED IT AND WANTED TO REPRESENT ME!!!!

I did backsprings! I “whoop-whoop”ed! I jumped up and down! I celebrated. My troubles were over!

What followed was two more years of submissions during which every single editor that read VICTORY OF FISTS rejected it.

Seventeen times.

My agent and I corresponded and I was ready to throw in the towel. I entered VoF in a contest. I lost. In fact, the site didn’t even tell me I’d lost. I had to go and look it up myself. I wrote in my sub log, “after 2 years of ineffectual submissions, I am done. VOF is going into the garbage and I'm not thinking of it again. I hope…”

In June of 2014, my agent agreed to try one last submission, MuseItUp Publishing. A 21st Century company, they didn’t offer advances but paid very well for electronic rights. It was NOT self-publishing, it was MuseItUp accepting a MS and agreeing to edit and create a cover and promote the book.

The second week of October 2014, my agent emailed me the following: “Just off the phone with Lea...well, between ending that conversation and a 15 minute confusion with 3 giggle gaggle of girls, I'm back to say YES, sending a contract for Victory of Fists this weekend.”

“WE SOLD IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I sent back to my agent. Got the contract day before yesterday, and there’s a note suggesting a tentative Summer of 2015 publication date.

I’d love to offer you wisdom, advice, or even a conclusion to this, but I think I’m just going to let you draw whatever you need from this. It’s a story with a happy ending that took six years to get there.

I hope you have one of your own.

October 24, 2014


http://www.d48.net/wp/1940water.jpgThis 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.

Tommy Hastings jerked his chin uphill toward the creamery and said, “Let’s go before they catch up to us.” Freddie Merrill and Tommy started up the hill just as a truck came roaring down the street. It was dark. The city was near silent except from a banging shriek of metal on metal drifting up from dumping and resetting from the ore docks on the Lake. The boys scrambled into the shadows and knelt down on the concrete sideway in the dark.

The truck slowed down…

Tommy breathed, “Don’t breathe.”

Freddie leaned close as they watched the angry Finns pause under a harshly burning street lamp. There were muttered words, a few of them pointed uphill and they got into a brief argument. There was shoving and after most of the men sided against two, they pounded on the roof. The truck roared away, continuing on into town. “Is that it?” Freddie whispered, blowing in Tommy’s ear.

Tommy fell forward, exclaiming, “What are doing! That tickles like crazy!”

Freddie straightened up, spun around, and started walking uphill. “Let’s go before they come back.”

Tommy chased after him, “What’s wrong, Fred.

“Nothin’. Let’s get up there before they come back.”

“I didn’t mean anything by that!”

“Shut up.”

They climbed in silence the rest of the way up the hill turning into a wide gravel lot. Two huge metal towers with the words LAND-O-LAKES stood to one side. The lot was abandoned. Freddie walked away from Tommy and sat down on the block of concrete holding up the tower, his back turned. Tommy stopped, staring at the other boy’s back. A cold wind blew across the lake, freezing cold even in the middle of summer. He walked over and sat down at the opposite corner. Sandburs had grown between the concrete and the parking lot, poking him in the ankle. But he didn’t want to move; he didn’t dare move. They sat together, looking down on the few lights in the city. The wind blew. From behind them, something flapped against a wall or roof.
Finally Freddie said, “You didn’t want me here all along.”
Tommy wanted to punch his best friend. Instead he said, “You’re my best friend. Why wouldn’t I…”

“It’s always been about your mom.”

Tommy thought about it, then said, “I guess. I seen the picture my whole life. Ma never talked about it and Dad just got mad if I asked. Dad said it was from Duluth. I took it out of the frame one time while they were gone. It had some writing on the back, but I couldn’t tell anything that it said except ‘Duluth’.”
“I get it. You never wanted me to come with.”

“I couldn’t have done it alone, though.”


He slid across the concrete, finally pulling the burr from his ankle. “I could’a gone without you.”

There was a long silence until Freddie said, “You’d be dead by now, that’s for sure.”
Tommy moved slower. They sat not-quite-touching until Tommy said, “Don’t ever breathe on my neck like that again.”

“I was scared. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

They heard a grinding gear, but before they could run, a truck pulled into the parking lot, flooding them with its headlights.

October 21, 2014


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.

Krzysztof Oja blinked and slowly shook his head.

Eden Ochion thought he looked like a shaggy orangutan. A scary one. "There's no way you can tell me what you're thinking?" she tried again. Krzy -- whose unfortunate name lent itself to being abbreviated to "Crazy" -- squeezed his eyes shut harder. "You have to tell me what's going on in that shaggy head of yours!" She said, reaching forward and rapping on his skull. Why couldn't she get through to him? No one had ever been able to resist her charms. People ALWAYS told her their secrets. It's why she was the most popular person at Barack Obama High School. If people made her mad, she could always spill those secrets. "Don't you have any secrets, Krzysztof?"

He stared at her, took a deep breath, opened his mouth as if he was going to say something and then closed it again. It wasn't like he was going to stand up and leave, Eden thought. She'd actually, physically glued him to his chair. She'd set it up so that the chair was the only open one in the library. That was because she'd coaxed, coerced, and blackmailed everyone into leaving it alone just so that Krzysztof would sit there. What was weird was that he hadn't reacted at all. She knew -- somehow that she wasn't sure of -- that he realized he was sitting on several mounds of hardening crazy glue. She smiled at the interior joke. "Crazy glue for a crazy boy," she muttered. She fixed him with one of her brilliant smiles and said,

"Anything you want to tell me?"

She was wondering why he hadn't said anything about the glue when he looked up at her. The intensity of his gaze was startling after the way he'd always let her looks slide off him. She'd been trying to catch his eye since he got to school on the first day. It rarely took her more than a week to break a new person down enough to find a secret tidbit or two. Even the principal, one of the wiliest old ladies Eden had ever met, buckled after a two week onslaught of kindness and interest. In her heart of hearts, Eden called BO High a garden of earthly preflight...because once she knew what she knew, most people were ready to take off.

Or do her bidding.

Everyone but little Krzysztof here. That was why she'd made him her special project for the past month. After the challenge of Ms. Zarinche the Principal, she thought he'd go down into a blathering heap as soon as she unleashed her feminine wiles. Now she had to face the possibility that he was gay and she'd have to have one of her coworkers do the attraction and extraction. She smiled into Krzysztof's baby blues. She studied them, looking deep. There was something unexpected in there; a deep, dark secret. Her smile spread from ear to ear.

Here it was at last! "So, saxy boy, you got something you want to tell Mama Eden?"

His gaze didn't shift, except that it felt deeper, as if it were pulling her forward. She wanted to turn away because she'd always thought there was something to the idea that the windows were the eyes into a person's soul. She couldn't. He still didn't smile. In fact, his face had gone weirdly slack, as if he were concentrating hard. She tried to blink, but couldn't. She tried to take a deep breath, to sigh or whistle or something, but couldn't. Strangely, her breathing was slowing down despite the fact that she was starting to panic. This was incredibly weird...

Names: Hebrew, ; Czech

October 19, 2014

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

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)

October 16, 2014


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.”