September 10, 2019


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: Alien artifacts

Hans Bonhoeffer and Sa’Niah Green pursed their lips as they leaned over the Plexiglas box protecting the ‘Pseudo-Tibetan Nazi Buddha’ under the lights of the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum.

His voice heavy with a German accent, Hans said, “Why would they carve it out of meteorite iron?”

“You’d think they’d just sell it. I’ll bet they coulda got twenty grand on ebay,” said Sa’Niah.

Hans snorted, straightening up. “Even so, it’s strange. Why would anyone go to the trouble carving it and then pretending it was collected by Himmler?”

Sa’Niah straightened up as well and looked at her friend. They were about as opposite as possible – he had blonde hair, blue eyes, almost two meters tall, lanky to the point of skinny with hands large enough to grip a basketball with just five fingers (if he cared, he was a European football fanatic). She was barely a meter and a half tall, her grandparents had come from Sudan, she was squat and round (her friends called her Black Winnie – after Winnie the Pooh) and she wanted nothing more than to play on the Minnesota Lynx.

Good thing he was gay, otherwise she’d live one frustrated life. They were also both history majors. Which reminded her, “Hans – how’s your book?”

He looked up and arched an eyebrow, “Why do you think I’m standing here with you discussing pseudo-Nazi alien artifacts?”

She snorted softly, “Because we’re best friends?”

“No, because you’re the only person I know of who’s read Harry Turtledove.” She grinned. They’d met in the Wilson Library during finals first semester of their freshman year the year before. They’d gotten into an argument over who would be able to check out the newest Turtledove novel. Ultimately Hans had won because he held the book over his head and there was no way for her to get at it. She said, “It’s a good thing you decide to share it with me at Caribou.”

He grinned at her and said, “Speaking of which.” He lifted his chin and made a motion toward Dinkytown proper.

She nodded and said, “I’ll even walk outside.”

Mock-amazed, he said, “What’s wrong? Have you contracted some spinal fungus you haven’t told me about and you are preparing to die?”

She laughed. Several other arts patrons glared at her. The Weisman wasn’t for giggling college sophomores. They headed for the exit then started up East River Parkway, heading for Southeast Fifth Street. Sa’Niah said, “So, what’s the story?”

Hans fell into one of his brooding moods. They’d almost reached Dinkytown when he said, “It’s not a story.”


“It has to do with my family,” he said, his accent thicker than usual. She’d noticed that happened when he got emotional – which happened every time he broke up from his current love interest. She just listened and walked, huffing slightly. When he wasn’t paying attention, he took long, long strides and it was hard for her to keep up.

“What would a fake Nazi-Buddhist made out of meteorite iron have to do with your family?”

They reached the Caribou, ordered their favorites and settled in a booth that allowed him to stretch his legs before he said, “My family were Nazis.”

She blinked in surprise. “What?”

“My grandparents – both sides, except for one of my father’s uncles. His name was Dietrich and he was executed by the Nazis.” She didn’t know what to say. He continued, “They also dealt with the regime in antiquities.” He paused, scowling then said, “The Nazi Buddha? It’s legitimate.”

“How would you know?”

“Because I have a picture of my great-great-great grandfather holding it. And he does not look Human.”

Names: American, English/Irish; German

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