October 30, 2015

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 74: DaneelAH & Company

http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/images/d/d7/Young_Bolian_waiter.jpgOn 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 (50,000 words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

DaneelAH pursed his lips, took a deep breath, and said, “There’s nothing else we can do – and I’m interested in what these supposed differences are between the old holy books we’ve had on Mars for the past century-and-a-half, and the ones the Dalai Lama gave us.” He nodded to his vat-sister, “I think the one who should be in charge is AzAH.”

Startled again, HanAH nodded decisively. “I don’t usually agree with you, brother, but this time I think that’s the ideal structure for the investigation.” He looked at AzAH and said, “We’re under your direction now, sis.”

She took a deep breath and said, “As much as I’m flattered that you think my skills are preeminent here, I have to point out that we’re not dealing so much with language as we are a mystery. Why would the words of holy books be changed when they got to Mars?” She nodded to HanAH. “A crime to solve, perhaps?” Looking to AzAH, she said, “Pattern recognition will be paramount. Changes in a script, especially old ones, are likely to be clumsy and sound like they are out of place.” She lifted her chin to DaneelAH. “You hang close to keep us all honest. It seems like you’re the one who’s most interested in the Paolo character and whatever it is that’s driving him to send us to the Face on Mars.”

HanAH said, “Hey! No new age woo woo! They were chased out just as vigorously as the Christians, Taoists, and embezzlers!”
She shrugged, clearly unrepentant. She added, “What else is there up in Cydonia?”

He opened his mouth then snapped it shut. DaneelAH said, “If this Paolo character wants us up there, then we have more than one question to figure out.”

HanAH cut him off, “We’re just going to do what he says, right? That’s you’re brilliant plan.”

“Unless one of us can reprogram the ‘bug, we’re stuck.”

“I could break into the program. Look at it to see if there are any consistent patterns,” said MishAH, who’d been silent until now.

“Then what?” HanAH snarled. “It’s already been established by our esteemed brother that there’s no way we’ll be able to break the whackadoodle’s programming.”

No matter what he said; no matter his attitude, he had never been able to bother MishAH. She lifted a hand and he flinched away. Patting his cheek was the ultimate in patronizing gestures and one only she could get away with – sometimes. She sniffed, “So that you can find a resonance and disrupt the program. Once you do that, you can reprogram our destination. Or failing that, we’ll go to Cydonia ourselves.” All three of her vat mates were staring at her. Shrugging, “If this is some plot for revolution, then we’re the people on the spot who can interfere with it.”

AzAH caught her breath, then set her mouth in a thin line. HanAH’s eyes narrowed dangerously and as always and without thinking, he crouched slightly, taking on an attitude that Burroughs residents likened to “a hunting North American panther”. DaneelAH’s face was abruptly still; usually the most animated of all of them, when confronted by something novel and dangerous, he lost his normal control and opted for blankness. Seeing them, she grinned, “Ah. Now I have your attention. If we agree with Señor Paolo’s plan, however, we could very well turn him to our advantage in a Martian revolution. In any case, we’re a team capable of altering the course of Human – and Artificial Human – history.” She paused. “I suggest we keep our eyes wide open – and figure out a way to take control of this vehicle.”  

October 27, 2015


https://www.clubdesmonstres.com/best/img/armus3.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.

I KNOW I just did a horror idea, but in honor of the “season”, HERE’S ANOTHER!

H Trope: (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmutation. I think I’m going to mine THIS idea in various ways for a while!), more specifically covered here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underworld_(1985_film)

Current Event: http://altimatrix.com/2012-and-your-dna (Truth? I can’t imagine that ANY person would actually believe this. Really.)

Let’s focus on this little tidbit: “According to what the dowsing reveals, there will be 6-9 DNA upgrades for these people before our critical juncture in the photon belt. Their ascension will take place at the same time as other people, however they will have more advanced evolutionary changes initially.  In the meantime these people’s subtle energy bodies will be exposed to even higher frequencies of consciousness than the average person. This will be possible due to the individual’s higher self, having the option to do this.  Once the first 3 DNA upgrades are complete, the connection to the higher self is so much less corroded that the higher self can do this type of work for individual chosen for such a role.”

Snorri Benediktsson and Hofi Flosadóttir are going to college in Bemidji, Minnesota – they’re Icelandic exchange students.

He wants to be a radio producer and is going for a mass media degree; she’s a future physicist studying high energy particles that enter Earth’s atmosphere through the North Pole.

Late one night, they’re working together in the physics lab, he’s fiddling with making an electronic file and playing with special effects.

Hofi said, “Komdu og líta á þetta!”

He sighed. He hated when she used Icelandic. “We’re in the United States. We need to speak English.”

Ekki allir hér tala ensku.

“I know that. My roommate speaks better Spanish than he speaks English,” said Snorri.
“Mine is fluent in Ojibwe, but she speaks English most of the time. She does use her native language when she chants at night,” said Hofi.

“But we’re supposed to be experiencing a different culture.”

“So why are we dating each other? Shouldn’t you be going out with a ravishing latina?”

“And you should be hanging out with some fratboy who only wants you for your body and has no idea you’ve got a brain that’s as sharp as the curves are beautiful.”
Hofi blushed and turned back to the window in the lab that looked north, out over Lake Bemidji and toward the frigid air of the pole. A particle collector floated in the atmosphere some hundred miles north and twenty miles up, the display near the window was connected to the college through a satellite uplink. She pointed at the rippling  patterns in the sky. “That’s what I wanted you to look at.”

For a moment, even Snorri couldn’t ignore the display. When he finally worked up the nerve to put his arm around her, she turned away. “All right. This has all been done before. Electrons, ionized gasses and the lot has been done to death.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’m going to do something no one has ever done before.”

Scowling, he walked over to her humming machine. A small box, open on the side facing them, emitted an odd, pulsing sound. He said, “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to really collect particles from the aurora. I’m using one of the new particle transporters from England to move some of the particles directly from the upper atmosphere to here.”

“Is that safe? I mean, I know I’m not a physics whiz like you, but I do know that high energy particles – like UV light – can burn human skin.”

She shrugged. “Sure. But there are other particles up there. That’s what I’m trying to measure. That’s what I want to find – the other particles up there.” She waited a moment and then said, “Stand back.” She flipped a switch. The box sparked and she fell back, covering her facing a screaming. An intensely pink colored, gaseous substance flowed from the box, coalescing on the floor around where Hofi was writhing on the floor.

Snorri dropped to his knees, hands grabbing her shoulders and coming into contact with the pink, amoeboid gas. For a moment he froze, then the cloud began to crawl up his arms. Both of the Icelanders shivered but otherwise didn’t move.

Instead, their skin began to crawl.


October 25, 2015

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: Hard SF or Soft SF…*once more with feeling*…

https://michaelpatrickhicks.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/wanderers_ringshine_03.jpg?w=350&h=200&crop=1Using 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 #2600 (page 59). The link is provided below… ?Zz

 The Changing Face of Hard Science Fiction: Hard science fiction has roots that at least go back to Verne, and it’s been a major part of the field—some would argue it’s been the center of the field, or even the only real SF—since at least the 1940s. But like the rest of SF, it has evolved and change. Where is it now and where is it going? Stanley Schmidt (m), David Hartwell, Nancy Kress, Karl Schroeder

I would have loved to have been to this one! All of these authors/editors are ones I LOVE: Stan Schmidt goes without saying – editor of ANALOG for years, hard SF writer in his own right. David Hartwell – started the STAR TREK line at Pocket Books, started Tor Books, and administers (with Gordon van Gelder) the PK Dick Award. Nancy Kress, aside from being a spectacular short story writer, also wrote two of my favorite series – the BEGGARS books and the PROBABILITY books. Karl Schroeder invented and wrote stories in a totally absorbing world that exists as “bubbles” of air in zero-g.

With a biology major – and having taught astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, meteorology, zoology, as well as various and sundry fifth, sixth, and seventh grade “general science” classes – I naturally gravitated to hard SF.

That being said, I’ve been exploring themes of my own in science fiction that have their roots in hard sciences – mostly biology – but tap into “less hard” sciences like psychology and sociology. This isn’t to say that I’ve gotten it all down and I’m ready to move into the “pros”; but I’m working on it.

In particular, in my first novel, I look at how the future will treat young people on the autism spectrum or with learning disabilities. Unfortunately, I don’t think that anything will change because neither of those has a specific “genetic home” – at least that we know of today. With politicians flailing about, trying to acquiesce to teachers unions (and make no mistake about it – Washington is talking to teacher-politicians. REAL teachers don’t have time to waste talking to politicians. They’re busy teaching kids) and return us all to the bad old days where we pass kids on without knowing what they know (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/10/24/obama-calls-for-less-standardized-testing-in-schools-addressing-nationwide/).

 I explore education and how genetic manipulation of Humans will intersect and the effect that intersection will have on society. I look at unexpected results of genetic manipulation. I wonder what would happen in an interstellar civilization if none of them had ever made use of animal and plant domestication – we think it’s “normal”, but just as “psychic powers” might be normal for aliens, the practice of large scale domestication might be something Humans do that is unique.

It’s hard science with a soft science intersection.

The thing is, isn’t this what SF writers have been doing all along? They just vary the mix of science and psychology; science and sociology; science and parapsychology; science and politics; science and business management, economics, finance, and advertising; science and anthropology; science and education; and science and humor. ANALOG and PERIHELION, and others, tend to be stronger on the hard science. ASIMOV’S and F&SF tend toward the softer science. None of them are exclusive, but all have tendencies. Nebula and Hugo Awards tend to reward the softer science mixes more often than the harder science stories.

If I had to make a guess, these people – as well as the field at large – would say that “hard SF is dead” and that mixed SF is the “wave of the future”. I think we’ve already been there and come back. We’ll see, but I think the field will swing back into hard SF again – because it’s the exploration of current technology’s impact on the future.
Program Book: http://sasquan.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ConGuide.toupload.pdf

October 22, 2015


http://rlv.zcache.com/hitchhikers_1937_postcard-rbf112e822dc04d10acd46d68344da7d2_vgbaq_8byvr_324.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 and Freddie Merrill woke up to the thundering rumble of a truck roaring past them. It didn’t have a muffler. It didn’t have a top over the back and was full of men.

Neither one moved as it disappeared over the horizon. Finally Freddie whispered, “They’re going to the Cities.”

“Duh,” said Tommy, standing. “Let’s go.” He started walking, the sun glaring full in his face. He stopped. “The sun’s goin’ down.”

Freddie stepped up beside him and said, “Duh.”

“How can we get back home before them?”

“We can’t,” said Freddie.

Tommy spun to face him then shoved him backwards. Freddie didn’t do anything to protect himself. He just fell backward and rolled a little down into the ditch. He stayed there. Tommy slid down and shouted, “Get up! We have to go!”

Freddie rolled over, squinting into the sun. “Go where?”



“To save my ma!”

Freddie shrugged, then said, “Unless you can fly ‘faster than a speeding bullet’, you ain’t gonna catch up with the Communists.”

Tommy screamed, “They’re Socialists!”

Freddie shrugged again. “We don’t got no truck. We don’t got no car. We don’t got nobody but us and our feet.”

Tommy glared down at him. He clenched his teeth tight. He jaw trembled. He turned bright red. He glared some more. The trembling passed. He took a deep breath. “I got a thumb.” He stared down at Freddie for a long time then said, “And so do you.” He held out his hand. The other boy didn’t move for a long time. Tommy held rock solid.

Finally Freddie grinned and held out his hand. Tommy pulled him to his feet as Freddie said, “Now you’re talkin’.” They climbed out of the ditch and headed south,  thumbs stuck out, facing the way they walked. The sun slid a little farther down in the sky.

It slid farther.

Shadows started to crawl across the road and the monster heat that made the other side of the silent road shimmer fell away. Soaked in sweat, Tommy and Freddie trudged in silence, fair hair plastered to their foreheads. “I think I got heat stroke.” Freddie said suddenly.

“You don’t have heat stroke,” said Tommy.

“How do you know? Last time I looked, you weren’t a doctor.”

“Last time I looked, you weren’t layin’ on the road, you weren’t boiling hot...”

“I am, too!”

“Not the weather, stupid, YOU! Earl said they got heat stroke in the South Pacific all the time.”

“How come he told you that?”

They trudged in silence until Tommy finally said, “‘Cause I told him I had heat stroke to see if I could get outta school”

Freddie barked a laugh just as a cool breeze dribbled from the north, along the road and slid up their backs. Both boys sighed and trudged a few more feet until they stopped.

The breeze carried the deep-throated rumble of the diesel engine of a big rig.  

October 20, 2015


http://eq2wire.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/grave-hand.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.

H Trope: The dead coming back to life...

Current Event: Any “miraculous” “resurrection” of someone who was “dead”…

Ephraim Mendoza shook his head and said, “That can’t be.”

Mercedes Chokkoon pursed her lips, closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. When she opened her eyes, she said, “She’s dead. I was with her when she died.”

Frowning, Ephraim looked at her, eyes wide and said, “You said she’d be fine.”

Mercedes shrugged. She couldn’t take any more of this. “She was my sister. She was just your girlfriend. You think this is easy for me?”

He stared at her for a long time before he said, “No. That’s why I don’t understand how cold you’re acting. You sister is dead. The love of my...” his voice caught and he looked away. Not before she saw the tears slid down his face.

Mercedes glare at him, willing herself to blame him. “I can’t.”

“Can’t what?”

“Blame you.”

“What do you mean ‘blame you’? How could I have had anything to do with...”

Mercedes shook her head hard, “Nothing you did. Nothing you didn’t do. She wanted to live for you.”

“So? She wanted to live for you, too!”

“Not enough.”

“You’re blaming her for dying?” he said, incredulous. “She didn’t do anything to deserve this! She had no control...”

Mercedes slapped him. Then found her hands clenched in fists. One moment she was trembling, the next she was hitting him. She hit his face. Hit his nose. His eyes. Then she kneed him in the groin. He shoved her away, slamming her into the wall. She bounced off, spun, and fell face-first into the meal tray, screaming obscenities at him. He was down on the floor with her, hands around her throat, pressing; pressing; pressing the life out of her...

On the bed beside them, Chante sat up and said, “Stop it. Now.” There was no emotion in her voice. There wasn’t even a breath. The sound came without her moving her lips.

Mercedes scrambled back, free suddenly from Ephraim’s hands. He tried to stand as well, but tumbled over her. They found themselves with their backs against the hospital room door, side-by-side, clasping hands.

The heart monitor, still connected to her, was silent. The respirator, still taped to her jaw, was silent. The EEG waves turned the screen green with wild activity as she spoke, “Stop it. I love you both and if you don’t stop fighting…”

Names: ♀ French, Thai; Israeli, Mexican; ♀ French