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Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

bd2d44e15229844cc03c8ea95360b3c8The moment he awoke he gently began to sob. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He wasn’t supposed to wake up. He was supposed to be dead. Instead he found himself in a painfully white, antiseptic-stinking clinical bed in a tiny room under the migraine-inducing flicker of strip lights.

Nothing hurt though, at least right now, and he felt that it should hurt. It was like the pain was there – his mouth, throat and belly felt ‘wrong’ – but , at a distance.

A hand touched his shoulder in a perfunctory display of affection, a mechanical pat and he realised that he wasn’t alone.

“Jake? I’m Doctor Eich. They told me you’d be awake soon. Do you need a moment or can we talk?”

The little man perched on the bed was a gargoyle of a figure, peering with interest from behind thick, old fashioned glasses. His body odour made its presence felt even over the antiseptic and he was disheveled and unkempt for a doctor, right down to his dirty nails.

“Oh. I’m not that kind of doctor,” he said, noticing the looks. “I simply have a proposition for you, if you’re interested?”

Jake tried to speak, but all that really came out was a croak, a rasping sound like some comic-book supervillain, a wheeze that took a moment to form a “Yes.”

Eich smiled, though the expression did not look like it was used to being on his face and soon sidled off again in embarrassment when it realised it didn’t belong.

“I work for the government on military projects. I’m a neuroscientist, a psychologist and a pharmacologist. I’m working on forms of… ah… weaponised psychiatiry.”

Jake nodded slightly, taking in the rest of the room. As his eyes adjusted to the light it didn’t seem quite so bright or clinical. There was a coffee – or at least a coffee coloured – stain on the wall and an ancient television set into a folding mechanical arm. The ‘out of order’ sign was so dusty and faded he suspected the last thing on that screen had been Top of the Pops.

“If I may be blunt, and I shall be anyway… well, Jake you’re suicidal. You have no family. No parents. No children. You’re in hospital because you were doing shots of Toilet Duck in an attempt to end your life. If you see no value in your life, might I suggest that we do? We need human subjects you see and they need to be ‘disposable’. If you’re that keen on ending your life I can assure you that that’s a distinct possibility. Sound good?”

Jake just nodded, shifting to try and sit up – which made him feel pain even through the morphine haze.

“Excellent,” Eich thrust a sheaf of papers and a pen towards Jake. “Sign these.”

Once that was done Eich gave Jake a too-firm handshake, tucked the notes under his arm and headed for the door.

“Thank you Jake, Mr Bell here will keep an eye on you until you can be transferred.” He hovered a moment by the door, half in, half out. “There’s just one last thing. If we’re going to be working together you should know that I am what a layman might call a sociopath. I hope it won’t put a dampener on our relationship.”

With that, he was gone, only to be replaced by Mr Bell who had the body of a rhinoceros and the face of an elderly fetishists freshly flogged buttocks.

Jake, half wondering if this were a dream, closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

***

It hadn’t been a dream and now here he was, scant weeks later in another room. This one with all the minimalism of a Japanese hotel room and the charm of a late-period George Lucas film. This bed had straps, which was worrying.

Eich was doing something complicated with a computer terminal, centrifuge and a hypodermic while Jake sat, in crinkly paper pyjamas, waiting to hear his fate.

“Doctor, what even is this experiment?”

Eich babbled away while he worked, measuring and combining in a manner that suggested even he might be capable of happiness. “It’s an emotional inhibitor. A complex series of drugs working in tandem to alter your perception. To make your perception more objective without compromising your moral and ethical processes. We’ve had some very limited success but everyone so far seems to go mad for some reason. Not to worry, we’ve made adjustments.”

Jake fidgeted, playing idly with the buckles on the bed straps.

“Why would they go mad?

“Most people,” Eich mumbled, decanting the mixed fluids into the hypodermic “live their lives in a glorious state of delusion. Everyone has degrees of pre-existing bias and many of these are very important to them. Strip away their subjectivity and – I suspect – the world no longer makes sense to them.”

“And why would you want to do such a thing?” Jake swabbed his own arm where it was dotted with marker pen, ready for the injection.

“Can you imagine?” Eich wrapped a rubber tube around his arm and held the needle ready. “Truly objective scientists, truly objective diplomats, millitary advisors. Even soldiers? Police who could make truly rational choices about when to shoot and when not to? The advances in science alone would be enormous and whole fields would have to be excised or rewritten. Sociology for a start.”

The doctor sniffed arrogantly and plunged the needle into Jake’s arm.

“There, much of these molecules are chemically similar to opioids, so you should be fully ‘in state’ in about two hours. Let me just strap you down and I’ll come back then.”

Seeing little reason to fight, Jake lay back, closed his eyes and waited for the drug to take effect.

***

The bright lights, he supposed, as he opened his eyes, were meant to simulate the sun. There were no windows in this block so the light must be important. It could have psychological and health effects so if they wanted a baseline it made sense to reduce such stresses.

The straps were not right, one was tighter than the others and now his hand was sore, to go with the throbbing ache in his throat and stomach that never really went away.

“How do we feel?”

Eich looked terrible. Jake was aware, instantly, of every imperfection in his face. Every line, every wrinkle. He’d known Eich was psychotic but he could see it now, immediately, dead eyes, a mouth that could approximate a smile but never mean it.

“This is interesting Doctor. Very interesting. You look terrible by the way. I suppose I had built up a certain image of you these past few weeks but I see you now. You’re just here for the job, it doesn’t really mean much to you. Nothing does.”

Eich frowned a little uneasily.

“I see every pore Eich, every line, every wrinkle,” Jake pulled slightly at his straps, staring at them left and right with curious intensity to take in the stitching and fastenings before he leaned back again into the pillows. “I feel every thread in these sheets. Every imperfection. It’s like I can see everything as it really is. No beauty, no blindness. Everything is filth and bacteria. Everything is slowly dying. All that stuff we deliberately forget every day to get through our lives.”

Eich bent down and scribbled his notes with a biro on his note pad.

“The ball in that nib has a slight imperfection, the variation in sound is unbearable. That paper’s recycled, rough, it’s like sandpaper on my ears. None of this matters, but it’s unignorable and I don’t feel the need to stay quiet about it.”

Eich made another feverish note and opened his mouth to speak. Breath wheezed in ageing lungs, lips cracked, spittle stretched disgustingly, his meaty tongue twisted behind his yellowing, crooked teeth.

Jake interrupted. “The other test subjects killed themselves. Didn’t they,” it wasn’t a question.

Eich’s mouth flopped shut like a partially deflated paddling pool, teeth clicking. Then contorted his face into a jiggling noise box.

“Yes. They all did. The straps make it obvious I suppose.”

“That and if I wasn’t already at that point, I would want to. I know how insignificant we are. I know how pointless this all is. I know what you are really trying to do here and I know what’s pointless too. It’s not going to work Eich.”

Eich frowned and leant close, cheese wafting on his breath, his pulse audible as his heart sluggishly pumped that rancid stew he called blood around his veins. “What do you mean?”

“Objective soldiers? That was never your plan. Objective scientists? Perhaps. What you really want this for is governance. To control government, to make the best choices. It won’t work.”

Eich leaned further forward, there was a thumbprint on his glasses, each viscous, oily line looming in Jake’s vision like an oil-soaked cormorant. “Why not? Tell me!”

Jake turned his head away is disgust, but the faintly laundered smell of the pillow was little better.

“How do you think the ministers will react when you wheel out the Amazing Objective Man? To begin with they won’t believe you. If I live long enough to be right they’ll get spooked. Each ideology will celebrate when I agree with them and ignore me when I don’t. Nothing will change except we’ll have some certainty that if we’d only done things differently we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.”

“Surely we can convince them man! Think of the good we can do!” Eich was almost apopleptic, and he was lying.

“You don’t care about the good Eich. You’re a sociopath, remember? You’re into it for the fame. You think this is your ticket to history and a justification for your inhumanity. You’re not objective Eich, you’re unfeeling and you haven’t thought this through.”

Eich stepped away from the bed, twisting this way and that, chubby, filthy little meat-tentacle clenched into nascently arthritic fists. “There must be a way…”

“Eich. The poor vote against their own interests. Governments ruin their nations in pursuit of ideological purity and cling to beliefs long after they’re proven wrong. Rationalists and pragmatists have always been ignored. Why would I be any different? Why would you be any different? They’ll kill me as a threat and then kill you. You know it. This is a miraculous dead end. It would be like being the only sober person in the car when nobody else will let you drive. It would be heartbreaking. Even for you.”

Eich’s shoulders slumped and his head hung low.

“You know what this drug does. You know I’m right. The only way out for us is if the drug fails. You’ll have to kill me. Humanity will just have to muddle through. Let them have their illusions and delusions and hope for the best. If you know they’re wrong, utterly, completely, it will only bring despair.”

Eich shuffled back to the bench and drew air into an empty hypodermic.

“You’re right. Of course.”

“Of course.”

There was nothing else to say.

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sci-fi-banner

Curated from @JeffNoon on Twitter.

  • A while back I wrote a sort of manifesto for science fiction. I’ve just updated it. I’ll present it here. 26 ideas and images…
  • Science Fiction infects and transforms. It questions, supports and replicates, firing off clichés and wonders at equal rates.
  • Science Fiction moves at the pace of life, accelerated or slow-motion. It walks the borderlines of mainstream culture, enamoured of edges.
  • Science Fiction is an emergent system. It exists both in the reality of the present day and the equally valid reality of tomorrow’s dreams.
  • Science Fiction conducts experiments upon Form and Content, inventing new techniques, new processes, new kinds of narrative expression.
  • Science Fiction evolves through small variations and wild mutations. It is designed to examine, distrust, perfect and dismantle itself.
  • Science Fiction enflames, enrivers, begulfs, undertugs, sidetwists and interslips. It befogs, englows, transplodes and intraflows.
  • Science Fiction is modified by its users over time. It revels in having loose screws and wires. It can so easily catch fire.
    Science Fiction is unashamed to fly on sentimental wings over lands populated by werebeasts, elves, vampires, androids, aliens and unicorns.
  • Science Fiction is trying to understand itself. It never will. It’s not that kind of genre. It’s diseased. The disease is its power source.
  • Science Fiction is the undercurrent, a visceral urge towards life. It worships weirdness and tradition, and will fuse the two to make anew.
  • Science Fiction is a magical sword forged in that ultimate of all fantasy realms: the human mind.
    Well-mannered literature is scared of pulp, of popular art. And of the avant-garde. And by this act it severs a deep vein of the life blood.
  • Science Fiction revels in elements from both pulp and avant-garde, and frequently mixes the two to create avant-pulp dreams and realities.
  • How fruitful this world is, when pulp fuses with the avant-garde. What strange, conjoined creatures are born. How the twin suns shine.
  • Science Fiction is a four-dimensional object (at the very least). It has more edges and borderlines than all other genres put together.
  • Science Fiction will create new ways of reaching the public. Words will flow from root to stem to flower to seed to air to earth to root…
  • Science Fiction does not have an operator’s manual. The operators are the manual.
  • Science Fiction is a journey of words through time. It says Down with perfection! Welcome to corrupted signals, glitches and fused wires.
  • To read, write or add new engine parts to Science Fiction is to partake in a grand, bizarre, dangerous, clumsy, vital, unique experiment.
  • Science Fiction embraces clichés. It can read through the clichés, explore clichés, dismantle clichés. It knows that wonders lie ahead.
  • Science Fiction moves along well-travelled paths, and yet, at the dusty end of the road, it desires to go further, out into the wastelands.
  • Science Fiction seeks out realms where no signposts or maps point the way. It crosses borders illegally under cover of night, in disguise.
  • Science Fiction celebrates hybrid creatures: monsters of the Id, machines of flesh, women who turn into fish, and floating men of fire.
  • At the liquid edge, Science Fiction leaves mainstream, middlebrow culture far behind. It travels beyond, into fog, into darkness.
  • Let us go now. Open all channels, connect to everything. Here we are gathered, lost in the flow of words. There is a strange light ahead…

Its an inspiring manifesto, but to me it embodies the ideals of the New Wave. Modern science-fiction is relatively insipid, timid, safe, inoffensive. Yet convinces itself it is radical.

Maybe we can change that.

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Please see disclaimer*

Flush with success after rooting out thought-crime recidivist Jonathan ‘Paltrow-Fucker’ Ross and stringing him from the gallows the Committee for the Unification of Narrative Tropes has begun turning its eye on other problematic areas, such as ancient myth.

Committee chair Zutana Alors explained the committees priorities thus:

“For millennia now classical myth has exerted a strong, exclusionary and problematic influence over multiple cultures and has cast a long shadow over all fiction. By attacking the root cause of these particular tropes we hope to eliminate a great deal more problems before they start. Much of ‘science’ fiction and ‘fantasy’ takes its cues from these sorts of stories and changing them should eliminate a great deal of offensive material.”

Pressed for further details the committee released a preliminary report on the changes they’ve decided to make, specifically to Greek mythology.

  • Race is an issue, all the characters are Greek. To fix this people of all ethnicities will be introduced into the mythology, over-represented compared to contemporary demographics to compensate for millennia of literary oppression. The only remaining Greek character is Hades, who will double as a symbol of hegemonic white oppression over that period.
  • As a symbol of beauty Aphrodite creates unrealistic expectations and hence body issues in many young women. As such she is to be replaced by a genderfluid, pre-op, plus-size, disabled transwoman with special needs. This will demonstrate that anyone can be sexy and that everyone is deserving of love.
  • Ares is a phallocentric glorifier of violence and destruction. He creates a problematic template for toxic masculinity. Changed slightly, Ares will make an excellent figure of fun and a cautionary tale to be avoided. As such he is now a buffoon with a giant cardboard sword and is to be renamed ‘Dudebro’.
  • Theseus and the Minotaur has been deemed to be prejudiced and triggering towards Otherkin (those who identify as having animal souls) and will be rewritten into a peaceful encounter wherein Theseus and the Minotaur engage in a long debate. After the debate Theseus will check his human privilege and come to an understanding of his innate, subconscious prejudice to the non-human community.
  • Zeus is also a deeply problematic figure as a womaniser and serial rapist. As a model the committee has looked at how to correct the story of Leda and the Swan. In the new version Zeus approaches Leda respectfully with no obvious intent of seduction or physical intimacy until she expresses a possible interest. They undertake a journey to visit Eunomia, goddess of law and justice, where they draw up a contract of consent before their coupling. Leda changes her mind and says no, Zeus respects that and returns to Olympus. This has required excising Helen of Troy from the canon, but as – like Aphrodite – she presented an unrealistic, platonic ideal of female beauty – this saved even more bother.

The committee was asked by a member of the Culte de la Raison who attended the open meeting why they were devoting so much time to rewriting fictions and where the harm was in what were obviously just stories. He was informed that words hurt before being dragged outside by the Revolutionary Guard, all the while protesting the need for empirical evidence. He was then beaten to death with typewriters to make the point more emphatically.

*Definitions of liberty and equality may vary, fraternity includes sororalty and all points in between. One liberty per customer – to be determined by the committee. Some are more equal than others. Dictionary definitions not accepted. Semantic arguments not accepted. Allegory, metaphor and problematic characterisation or situations not covered. May cause ideological fanaticism. Side effects may include loss of humour, ‘triggering’, excusing bigotry from traditionally oppressed groups and emotional blackmail.

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A compilation of my existing pulp stories in one volume, with the added bonus of an extra story ‘One Man McCann’ – a war story of British pluck and heroism against the evils of Nazi wonder weapons, all on the eve of D-Day!

Other stories include:

Cichol’s Children: Genealogy can take one to strange places indeed as is about to be discovered. A ‘mythos’ tale in homage to HP Lovecraft.
Stain: As with hard boiled eggs, hard boiled detectives can go off as well. Stane is a washed up detective who no longer cares, the perfect patsy for a case that nobody wants.
Shanks: An English gentleman walks the dusty trails of the old west, but do not mistake a gentleman for a sissy and don’t think grit is enough to deal with an Englishman when his dander’s up.
The Black Rat: The 1970s, a time a plaid, three day weeks, power outages and only three television channels. Dark times that call for a dark vigilante who sets his sights on police corruption and violence.
The Dastard: Howard’s Conan started out as a thief, The Dastard starts as one and remains as one. A viciously selfish antihero, cast out of paradise and making do in the barbaric world far from his home. One big score might buy him the luxury he seeks.
Wild: The jungles of Africa, the Amazon and Australia still hold mysteries to be discovered, amongst them a strange woman, white as snow, deadly as a panther and a holder of ancient African secrets.
Rink Rash: After the world comes to an end, a sport remains. Rollerbrawl.
Mimsy Burogrove: Expand your consciousness and solve mysteries with the world’s only psychedelic detective.
Doc Osmium: Two-fisted man of science, Doc Osmium teaches physics with pugilism.
Tessa Coyle: In a future world, a fever dream from the 1940s, the Science Police act as a board of ethical oversight – with extreme prejudice.
Ace Slamm: The world of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, but through a distorted lens. After interplanetary war Ace tries to find a way to drink himself to death in peace, but the old war keeps coming back to haunt him.You can get the ebook at:

Drivethrufiction

Smashwords

Lulu

You can also snag a PoD hardcopy HERE.

 

 

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I think my next project, once my brain sorts itself out, will be a collection of short genre-erotica. The idea’s been teasing at me and I intend to do the same sort of format that I did for the pulp stories. That is, approximately 6k stories with approximately 1.5k word ‘episodes’ in four parts forming the story as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll post the pre-edited versions here as I did before, but I might.

The current plan, subject to change, would be:

  1. The Other Woman – An espionage story about a female agent of particular talent and deadly ability.
  2. Tiger Bone – An adventure story about tourists running afoul of tiger poachers.
  3. The Lady in the Castle – A fantasy story about a spoiled brat of a maid waiting in her tower for her prince to come.
  4. Cold Hands – A horror story or ‘paranormal romance’ in which a woman takes a vampire for her lover but things don’t turn out sparkles and rainbows.
  5. No Refuge – A ‘grande guignol’ mystery in which an adulterous lover is betrayed by his unconscious mind.
  6. Heart of Glass – A detective story in which our detective tries to track down a gang of jewel thieves known for using sex as a weapon.
  7. Have a Heart – A science fiction story about a jealous robot.
  8. Conqueror of the Clouds – A steampunk story of an amazing airship and its unconventional captain.
  9. Iron in the Fire – A western story about an ambitious saloon girl dealing with her competition.
  10. Debt before Dishonour – A fantasy story in which a sell-sword finds himself on the slave blocks of Khem.
  11. The Ambassador – A science fiction story about the obsequiousness of humanity in serving a more advanced race.
  12. The Suitor – A horror story about a very persistent suitor.

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I completed a set of short stories and my first novel this year. Not all of them are up for sale yet but some are and they might make good stocking-stuffers for people you know with kindles, tablets and all that mularky.

Perfect for reading on the train, at lunch or anywhere else you can grab a few spare minutes to plunge into the imagination.

https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51klgn%2BocCL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-58,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgAce Slamm: Space Bastard

Years after World War 2 was interrupted by a space invasion, rocket pilot Ace Slamm finds himself approached by three strange individuals. They want to buy a ride on his ship to Dyzan, the counter-Earth. The scientist, the feisty beauty and the sportsman are hell bent on getting to that blasted planet, but their steps are being dogged my a mysterious man in a shining metal mask.

Amazon

https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wdzMkL18L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-58,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgMimsy Burogrove: Psychedelic Detective

In swinging London, consulting for the police on strange cases, Mimsy operates out of her trendy flat. A heady concoction of mysticism, psi and LSD gives her access to the psycheverse, a spirit-dimension There are things in the psycheverse that long to gain access to the real world as well and Mimsy may well find herself a conduit for evil spirits like Mean Mr Mustard.

Amazon

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GWRKQ7oqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-58,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgThe Black Rat

The 1970s are a grim time in Britain. Power outages, the three-day-week and rife with police corruption and right wing violence. The Black Rat, a sort of ‘working class Batman’ takes to the streets to try and bring a little vigilante justice and payback for those the police have wronged.

Amazon

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51crqHB5aZL.Image._.jpgDoc Osmium: Synchronius Maximus

Two-fisted genetic superman, Doc Osmium, finds himself inexorably drawn into a series of inexplicable and seemingly unconnected events. There’s more to it though and he and his new companion must find a way to navigate the strands of fate and probability and to overcome the odds.

Amazon

https://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NP%2BajE0NL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-59,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpgTessa Coyle: The Obsolete Prometheus

After the atom wars there were few places left where there was true civilisation. Science City is one and it depends on its bleeding edge technology to survive. This super-science transcends ethics, physics and even reality and can only be constrained by The Science Police. When experiments start going wrong, electropunk heroine Tessa and her companion Robur are on the case.

Amazon

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Science City demands a very special kind of police force. A police force that knows the cutting edge, can cope with the strange and with the heroism and judgement to mete out ethical justice in an ever changing environment.

Enter Tessa Coyle, Science Police.

A short, pulp story in the style of E.E. Doc Smith.

Zip File (Epub and Mobi) at Drivethrufiction

Lulu

It should be available via Kindle and other device-linked stores soon.

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