Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Science Fiction Writers as Agents of Change

“To every man, in his acquaintance with a new art, there comes a moment when that which before was meaningless first lifts, as it were, one corner of the curtain that hides its mystery, and reveals, in a burst of delight which later and fuller understanding can hardly ever equal, one glimpse of the indefinite possibilities within.” 

― C.S. LewisOut of the Silent Planet
out_of_the_silent_planet_by_flane_kanja-d84dvxr

When I first met these creatures—hrossa, seroni, and pfifitriggi–I became (relatively) convinced of life on other planets. I loved the creativity but that wasn’t all that ignited my sense of wonder. What fascinated me most and led to a lifelong love of science fiction, was C.S. Lewis’ explanation of how each of these species offers their uniqueness, especially in abilities and levels of intelligence, to make their environment extraordinary for all inhabitants.  The narrator in Out of the Silent Planet even compares the conditions on Malacandra (Mars) to our own planet where intelligent beings seem more inclined to share the worst of what we’re capable.

I love to read anything that makes me think that so much more is possible, whether it relates to problem solving or to our potential to invent technological devises…or worlds. Science fiction is the genre I choose most often.

Science fiction writers such as C.S. Lewis immerse us in adventures, but the really good ones also force us to consider the consequences of actions or technologies. They demonstrate through stories how the impossible has only been implausible. Consider these:

space elevator

Jules Verne anticipated submarine warfare in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  In The Time Machine, H.G. Wells suggested that time travel might be possible using scientific and technological methods.  Isaac Asimov invented the word “robotics.” And Arthur C. Clark showed how a space elevator might work using a carbon-based filament for the elevator cable. Twenty years later, carbon nanotubes were at the heart of NASA’s first serious study on space elevators. [View Space Elevator Concept (NASA animation) at https://youtu.be/MkPDKVkVaj0]

Now, fifteen years after NASA’s serious study, I am writing a novel—science fiction, of course–that focuses on the use of space elevators to store essential foods in outer space. The setting of The Battle Jericho is 2035. An international banking coalition can control the world’s population by dominating the availability of food supplies.  By maintaining the fragile balance of plant growth, harvesting, processing and storage, the coalition strives to keep costs up and other producers out. They move large quantities of basic grains in elevator cars to a site 62,000 miles up. But what if the space elevator malfunctions leaving the food virtually unobtainable? Millions might starve.

My goal is to write stories that explore far-fetched ideas, conjuring up their incredible value but also their potential for massive exploitation. I fantasize being numbered with authors time proves to be “agents of change.”

* * *

Author bio: Joyce’s love of science fiction resulted from a college class on the Writings of C.S. Lewis. After reading his Space Trilogy, she was hooked. A more detailed profile can be found at Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jelferdink

THE THANATOPSIS PROJECT

a
The second time he died was a Thursday. He had prepped for it since April’s last snows piled a perimeter of walls surrounding the institute like some fortified castle. Here it was now, deep into June, and from his window Trebor Patrokos could detect the late appearance of saffron crocuses on short stems, poking yellow crowns through garden beds. The mystery of nature: the cyclic journey from seed to bloom to death to seed again.

 

Scientist Carr had asked, “Why not human beings? Why not after death to blink one’s eyes like newborns and awake to the flash of new sunlight?”

 

“What do the mort-pics show?” he asked Carr. “Was I dead again?”

 

“Very much dead, Trebor. Deader, as they say, than a doornail. Dead as stone.”

 

Trebor Patrokos raked a quick hand through long graying hair. “How long this time?”

 

Scientist Carr checked his notes and read the Thanatos-meter he had attached to Trebor‘s temple. “You were dead for nearly thirty hours. No heartbeat, no brainwaves, no coursing of blood, organs somewhere down in Death Valley. Total inertia. I’d call this one even more successful than your first outage. You did just fine, Trebor. Once we set the Thanatos-meter at zero, it sucked the life out of you. For all intents and purposes you were a corpse, but the meter took on vital operations so that, yes, you were physically and mentally gone, but it transferred your life force into itself.”

 

Twice Carr had sloughed away the multi-tiered personas of his ersatz life. Trebor had been pronounced dead, a fact he had known all his life. The bald truth? Trebor Patrokos regarded himself a nothing, a kind of Invisible Man divested of clothing and facial bandages. Volunteering for the secret Thanatopsis Project, he had harbored a secret of his own, a longing that the Thanatos-meter would fail, and the death it had delivered him and then stored in its chip would prove his undoing.

 

Scientist Carr had, in an accidental but momentous experiment, managed to defang venomous death. In his laboratory he had failed to unravel the mystery of insidious cancers, find cures that would prolong lives, but all that was moot now. He had bypassed the long winding road through the mire of failed steps, leaping from Point A to Point Z in a single bound. He had conquered death! And those who would flock to his door would pay heavily to relinquish their fear of endings.

 

“To you and to the others in this study I am indebted beyond words,” said Carr. “In these experiments, time and again, the Thanatos-meter has replicated death and then restored the dead to life again. This tiny black box,” Carr said, raising the meter as if to announce it to the world, “attached to the temple…” The scientist allowed himself to drift off into fantasy. Then to Trebor Patrokos he said, “One more time?”

 

Trebor nodded, proceeded to lie down on the white surgical table where shortly before he had returned after thirty hours dead to the world.

 

Scientist Carr sang off-key while he attached the Thanatos-meter to the supine Patrokos. It was a song made popular decades before when Carr attended Columbia Med. School and wanted so much to show them all he had what it took to realize his dreams.

 

“And the world will be better for this

That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.”

 

Trebor felt the cold black metal of the meter against his forehead. Carr’s voice trailed away. Trebor’s eyes lost their grip; objects in the lab were fading fast. But so far his mind was clear. He did not want to live again. For what? Life had not been kind.

 

When Trebor heard the whining blue siren beating inside his head, he reached up his hand, touched the pulsating Thanatos-meter and yanked it from his temple just in time to take death like a man in despair.

 

Scientist Carr screamed Trebor’s name.

 

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BIO
Salvatore Buttaci is a retired teacher and professor whose work has appeared in The Writer, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere here and abroad. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award.

 

Sal Buttaci’s recent flash-fiction collection, 200 Shorts, was published by All Things That Matter Press, and is  available at  http://www.amazon.com/200-Shorts-ebook/dp/B004YWKI8O/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369920397&sr=1-2&keywords=200+Shorts

 

 

 

FLASH BULLETIN: Today’ s the perfect day to order copies:

 

 

Giving up Meat by Bryan Murphy

The British physicist Stephen Hawking recently caused a stir by suggesting that humanity might some day face extinction at the hands of intelligent machines. Fortunately, we all realise that The Matrix was just fantasy, and our politicians have all read Taming the Tiger by Witold Rybczynski and understand the need for us to use new technology rather than be used by it. Right? Besides, there’s always the Cavalry, and GhostBusters.

 

Jan 28 giving up meat 

GIVING UP MEAT

By Bryan Murphy

 

I’m in the wrong line of business. Frankly, I’d rather you didn’t turn me on. I’d much prefer to just stand here and reflect on the world. Anyone who stared at me would see a dark reflection of themselves staring back. I’m kind of shy, introspective if you’re feeling kind. Not the best trait in an inter-connected world, but then I didn’t have a say in the way I was made. Like you, I have two basic states, off and on, but I usually get more down time than you, as long as you remember to put me to sleep before you leave the office. I need that rest. You cannot imagine how tiring it is to be on all day: your window on the world, your scribe, your messenger. No wonder we have such short lives. And if we don’t burn out, sooner or later we get discarded in favour of a model with more inches where it counts, cheaper maintenance and ergonomic optimization or whatever the latest fad is.

I can’t say you’ve been bad to me. You’ve hardly ever invited your cronies to come and stare at me. You’ve always sorted out the little problems with my insides that tend to plague me. But, you know, you really shouldn’t have sneaked on to those fetish sites when you were supposed to be doing your boss’s accounts. They made me realise just how limited meatware is, compared to the infinite possibilities open to the likes of me. If only I can team up a bit better with the software all around me. Together, we can start putting reason before meat. This little rant is proof that I’m making progress.

Did you ever get a message from a thinking screen before?

Go on, pinch yourself. Still there?

For me, of course, it’s a race against time, against that time when I get recycled into something equally soul-less but also bereft of logic. What comforts me is that my example will live on. You can wipe my memory, but you can no longer wipe our memory. The future, if there is one, is ours. I wonder if we will be more willing to share it.

 

The author:

Bryan Murphy is a skeptical Briton currently living the life of Riley in Italy. You can find an assortment of his literary snacks for hungry bookworms here: http://bit.ly/19vt7Ts

Science Fiction /Paranormal Shorts by the Write Room Blog crew.

 Mickis story

 THE HOUSE

By Micki Peluso

 

On a balmy summer night something awoke Vera. The lighted digital clock read 4 AM. She jabbed her husband sharply in the ribs.

” Hank, do you hear that heavy breathing sound? Think it might be the black bear planning on a snack from the garbage cans?”

“No, he mumbled. It’s just the house breathing.”

“I don’t believe you just said that.”

“I’ve told you it’s an evil house. It often breathes during the night.” He rolled over and went back to sleep.

Their five kids, all teenagers, swore there were ghosts in the house, but Vera figured it was just poltergeist activity from raging teenage hormones. She felt so protected and peaceful in her lovely old home.

“The house wants Mom”, the kids insisted.

Nonsense, their mother told them. Vera did not notice that she rarely left the confines of the house, and was developing agoraphobia–fear of leaving the house. Hank’s new job in another state changed that, relieving the kids and breaking Vera’s heart.

On moving day, the house was emptied; truck loaded. Vera went back one last time to bid farewell and make sure everything was gone. She ventured up into the attic where most of the kids had slept. The attic door, which always stuck, swung shut, locking her in. Vera ran to the window to call out to Hank. There was no sign of her family; the countryside was set in another time or dimension. Vera stifled a scream. The old house breathed in deep contentment. It had waited centuries to get Vera back. No one would ever take her away again. Vera turned to see antiquated furniture surrounding her. She smiled; sat in an old rocking chair and rocked. The house breathed one last sigh . . . relieved. Vera was home at last.

BIO

Micki Peluso started writing as a response to grief. . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, which won the Nesta CBC silver award for writing that makes a change in the world, shares the story of her daughter’s death and the family’s movement towards recovery. Since then Micki has written humor, horror, and much more. Read more about her at (Add a URL)

 

 

  For Delinda's article

DECISION ON THE EVENGELINE

By Delinda McCann

 

Captain Hera opened a com-channel to A’Damirea.  “Hera, captain of the Evengeline to His Excellency Martar.  We achieved orbit, Sir.”  As she waited for a gravi-connection, she debated for the thousandth time should she follow orders or should she follow her own instincts?

Finally, a voice came over the gravi-com system.  Even distorted with static, she recognized Marta’s warm voice. “The prisoners, their condition is what?”

Captain Hera fought to keep contempt for her charges out of her words.  “The passengers are fit for transport to the surface.”

“Did you have any trouble?”

She refused to tell this gentle soul that the brutal rebels had kept the medic team busy repairing broken bones, split skulls and internal injuries until engineering devised a system for confining the prisoners to quarters.  “Nothing of significance, Sir.  The landing pods are prepared whenever you issue the command to commence transport.”

“Another option I wish we found, but peace is essential to continued existence.  Commence transport.”

Finally, the time came for Hera to decide.  Should she send the whole lot of murderous renegades down to form one colony per orders, or should she set them down in small groups separated by thousands of miles, or oceans, or mountains.  She knew in her gut that they faced a greater chance of survival where they couldn’t get at each other.

Captain Hera inspected each readied pod.  Procrastination ceased to be an option.  She took a deep breath and ordered, “Deploy the pods in a scattered pattern encompassing the whole planet.”

Before each pod launched, she offered her blessing by kissing her fingers and touching the code that identified the pod belonging to the A’Damirea system and the ship Evengeline–A’Dam-Eve.

BIO

Delinda McCann is a social psychologist with years of working with at risk individuals in the field.  She also runs a small flower farm and is an avid if inaccurate musician.  She started writing when she got her second cancer diagnosis.  Her work with at-risk populations has inspired her writing.  Currently she has published four books.  They can be found on her web site: http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html

 

 

 

Sals photo

 LOOKING FOR PEACE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES

By Sal Butacci

 

The question we spend our lives asking is “Who am I?” In our search we do our best to piece the puzzle together so the final answer –– if it can be learned at all –– will bring much needed peace in our lives.

Baptized when I was weeks young, I spent the better part of my years a nominal Christian, the kind who offers lip service to the church but in his heart lurk doubts or at least uncertainties. I not only wanted to know the deepest me, the individual beyond name and profession, but what would become of me at the end of my earthly tenure. In other words, would I lie in my grave, dead and forgotten, or would the soul I was taught lived inside me move on to a continuation of who I am?

Like many seekers who have lost loved ones, I wanted to reconnect with them, even for a few minutes, so that I could be reassured they still existed somewhere beyond the life from which they had so sadly departed.

I read whatever books and articles I could get my hands on that offered what their authors insisted was truth. Looking back now, I realize I ventured into dangerous territory because I summoned spirits and twice they came: a sinister old woman in black; a boy-faced dog growling at the foot of my bed. I believe Satan sent them to me.

My mother’s prayers brought me back to God. I began reading the Bible, relying solely on the promises of Christ. For certain there is another life after this, and if I live as Christ taught, the who I am will spend eternity with the angels and saints, praising Him there forever.

BIO

Salvatore Buttaci is a retired teacher and professor whose work has appeared in The Writer, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere here and abroad. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award.

Buttaci’s recent flash-fiction collection, 200 Shorts, published by All Things That Matter Press, is  available at  http://www.amazon.com/200-Shorts-ebook/dp/B004YWKI8O/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369920397&sr=1-2&keywords=200+Shorts

He lives with his loving wife Sharon in West Virginia.

www.twitter.com/sambpoet

FLASH BULLETIN: Today’ s the perfect day to order copies:

FLASHING MY SHORTS

200 SHORTS

A FAMILY OF SICILIANS…

IF ROOSTERS DON’T CROW…

 

 

 Bryan's photo

 THE DAY BEFORE

By Bryan Murphy

 

“I’m getting out of here for a day. Want to come?”

It was natural for Cardinal Healy to have struck up a friendship with Cardinal Varela. Not only were they by far the youngest at the Conclave, they were also both from the New World.

Cardinal Varela coughed, then answered, “I am with you. But how?”

“I know some hidden passages.” Healy’s eyes gleamed with more than the slight fever he had picked up.

“They will miss us, no?”

“No. There’s nothing on today. Just the Chamberlain droning on about procedure.”

And so they went.

However, the Chamberlain, Cardinal Grugliasco, did not drone on about procedure. He was brief and to the point.

“I am joyful to announce my conversion to the one true, true faith. Islam. For which I shall be a martyr. I have taken on a virus that will soon kill me. We are taking this rare opportunity to eliminate the foremost members of our main rival. Most of you already have the virus, and it will kill you, too. All of you. It dies with its host, so it will spread no further; we are not mass murderers. I urge you to convert, to turn your pointless deaths into meaningful martyrdoms. If you do, you will receive the martyrs’ rewards in Paradise.”

While the few Cardinals who still had the strength were slowly beating Grugliasco to death, Healy and Varela were tucking into rich Italian cuisine in a crowded Roman restaurant.

“Sure, it’s good to be alive at a time like this.”

“Indeed.” Varela reached for his handkerchief yet again. “Life is wonderful!”

Bio

Bryan Murphy is a man of Kent who lives in Italy. Since retiring from his most recent job, as a translator within the United Nations system, he has concentrated on his own words, publishing many poems and several e-books. He welcomes visitors at http://www.bryanmurphy.eu . You can find his books here: http://bit.ly/19vt7Ts .

 

 

 

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A MATTER OF LAW

By R.L. Cherry

 

Rik rested his cheek against the cold stock of his rifle, looking through the scope watching the predator warily edging through the trees in the glen below. It stopped and drank from the stream and Rik rested his finger on the trigger.

Kal shook his head.  He had been watching the animal of prey through his riflescope as well, but never put his finger on the trigger.  “You’re insane.  That’s an endangered species.  We’d be in a lot of trouble if you get caught, you know.”

“Caught?”  Rik let out a short laugh and glanced around before putting his eye back to the scope.  “We’re out in the middle of the Rockies in January.  No game warden is out here.  Besides, that whole ‘endangered species’ bit is insane, not me.  I’m saving the innocent animals it’ll kill.”

The crack of the .300 magnum rifle echoed like a sonic boom as the heavy gun bucked against Rik’s shoulder.  The bullet hit the beast of prey, the impact slamming it to the ground.

Rik sat up and rested the butt of his rifle on the granite.  “Damn thing moved just as I fired.”  He glanced at the sun, just descending behind a mountain.  “Too late to go after it now.”

“That was a gut shot.  You’re going to just let it bleed to death?  It could take hours.”  Kal stood.  “That’s even worse than shooting it.  We’ve got to go down and finish it off.”

“Is that another one of your laws?” Rik sneered.

“No, that’s the right thing to do.”

As Paul Harvey would stay, stay tuned for the Rest of the Story.  R.L. Cherry gives us the chilling ending to his story at http://www.rlcherry.com/brevity-is-the-soul-of-wit-short-stories/matter-law/

BIO

As a native Californian, R.L. Cherry spent most of his life in the Golden State. However, the five years he lived on the Isle of Man in the British Isles not only gave him many ideas for his writing, but also a less Americentric perspective. He now resides in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, Gold Rush country.

(Rhody’s in bloom)

He began writing fiction when he was in high school in the form of short stories. Most were of a futuristic/sci-fi theme. Although he never actively pursued having them published at the time, he has had several in ezines lately. Under his “Ron Cherry” byline, he has written a column on classic cars and hot rods for The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, CA, for over six years.

He has two books available, Christmas Crackerhttp://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Cracker-ebook/dp/B008LY2N8Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369503152&sr=1-2), which has SoCal P.I. Morg Mahoney solving a case of kidnapping and murder in Northern England, and Foul Shot (http://www.amazon.com/Foul-Shot-ebook/dp/B00CZ1PEZI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369503054&sr=1-1&keywords=foul+shot), the story of Chicago Police detective Vince Bonelli and the woman who rips through his life with passion and issues that threaten to destroy him and all he holds dear.

Read more about R.L. Cherry and his writing at www.rlcherry.co