science fiction

  • What’s With These UAPs, Really?

    ·

    I’ve seen some pretty convincing arguments that debunk the recently released UAP phenomenon as simple lens effects or glitches in the imaging devices that recorded the video. If it weren’t for the first hand accounts from believable people, who keep their story very consistent, I would tend to lean toward the debunking.

    Yet, I don’t. The stories the eyewitnesses are telling about translucent spheres enclosing diamond shaped objects, backed up by multiple videos, is so strange and mind boggling that it’s scary. And they’re seeing them everyday from jet fighters and even from the decks of ships.

    Military ships.

    I find it hard to believe it’s space aliens. I suspect it’s something coming from much closer to home. Here’s two scenarios that, while still outlandish, I think are actually more plausible.

    It’s Our Own Tech

    How would it be possible that these physics-defying devices are actually made by humans? The answer could be that it’s not designed by humans, but by some top-secret AI that has cracked the code of space/time and we are building and testing them without actually understanding how it works. It’s been widely predicted that this will eventually happen, so what is the stretch in believing it already has, and — because it’s military in nature — it’s being kept top secret? And also because it’s military in nature, it’s being used for military purposes. This would explain why it’s being tested around our own military.

    It’s Alien Tech Under Our Control

    Akin to the previous scenario, perhaps all the stories about Roswell and Area 51 are true, and that we’ve been reverse-engineering alien technology for the past 75 years. This seems very unlikely, maybe even silly, but then again … what the freaking heck are these UAPs? They’re unlikely too, but from what we’re told, they’re real. I think it’s plausible that a UFO did indeed crash, as was originally reported by the military, but then everything was hushed up and made top secret because, you know … weapons development … and now what we’re seeing is our own experiments with this technology. And I feel this is more realistic than these being alien craft flying around because of where they are and how they’re acting. They’re acting like devices being tested, and they’re being tested specifically around our own military.

    Now, my speculations are focused entirely on the videos and information that’s being released, and I’m not taking into account all the other stories and sightings that have happened dating back into history. As far as I know those are just stories. They may have originated from some truth, but there’s no in-our-face evidence of it like there is with these UAPs. But what if we do have extraterrestrials routinely visiting us?

    If They Are Actual Space Aliens, Then They Are Among Us Now

    I don’t say this lightly, and I really don’t believe it. But an extraterrestrial race advanced enough to slip in and out of our atmosphere at a whim, and defy known physics as if they have the Komani code to reality itself, would no doubt have the ability to do just about anything including replicating human bodies and controlling them. If they want to study us, or control us, the best way to do it is to be right here with us. And maybe they’re not in human form. Maybe they’re cats, or dogs. Maybe that stray cat that we sometimes adopt and who is so mellow and hangs around with us all the time … that could be a peripheral to their information gathering network.

    But why would they do this?

    If they were here to destroy us, they would have already done it. It would be so easy. One well-crafted virus would do the trick. They wouldn’t need ray guns or xenomorph infantry. All those Hollywood alien invasion scenarios are ridiculous (except maybe for Invasion of the Body Snatchers). Invasion is the last thing I’d be afraid of if extraterrestrials are actually here. It’s more likely we’re their entertainment. We’re their reality show. If they’re doing anything nefarious, it is more likely they’re the ones stirring us up and turning us against one another, because it’s fun for them to watch.

    But I don’t believe that. I think it’s either we have their technology from a single crashed ship, or we developed it on our own with the help of super-advanced AI. Or…

    It’s all part of one of the biggest hoaxes in history.

    That, for me, would be the hardest scenario to believe. But it’s just as possible.

  • I asked the Midjourney AI to design me a batch of late 1960’s inspired science fiction book covers. It did not disappoint.

  • Today I’m celebrating my 30th anniversary of becoming a professional writer. On this date back in 1992 I sold A science-fiction short story 12 paid professional magazine. What an awesome feeling that was.

    https://www.groovymojo.com/p/30-years-ago-i-received-this-message

  • THIS IS AN OPEN LETTER TO SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS, PARTICULARLY SPACE OPERA WRITERS, AND ALSO PARTICULARLY TO NEW WRITERS

    You really need to get this hierarchy straight:

    For the most part, planets revolve around a sun. This is called a Star System.

    Stars (with their collective planets) are generally found in big collections called a Galaxy.

    Galaxies all exist in a Universe.

    YOU REALLY NEED TO KEEP THESE TERMS STRAIGHT.

    To simplify it, think of it this way: If a planet was a house, then the Star System is a street of houses, and a Galaxy is a very large city. A Universe is the entire continent.

    Also, a note about distances:

    Planets inside a Star System can be very far away from each other, but they’re still within the gravity well of a star.

    Stars are usually very, very far away from each other, so far away that it takes their light years — sometimes hundreds or thousands of years — to reach each other. That’s why we use the term lightyears as a unit of measure.

    A lightyear is 5,878,499,801,210 miles.
    – Carl Sagan

    That is also why we generally use the science fiction term “hyperspace” to cheat and jump from one star system to another, and to bypass the reality of a thing called “time dilation” which would make plotting any kind of fictional story a real challenge.

    GALAXIES ARE VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY FAR AWAY FROM EACH OTHER. It takes light hundreds-of-thousands, or millions, or even billions of years to reach each other. Even using “hyperspace” you need to stress how in the heck you can go that far, even if it’s a simple statement that the technology pokes a hole in space to enable instant travel across ANY DISTANCE. If you establish that up front, you might get away with it, but … and this is a big point:

    You must respect the vast distances between all these celestial objects, and have a grip on what they all are. Bonus points if you have a good knowledge of what a black hole is, and a quasar, and other exotic and strange things such as a neutron star.

    Example: You will never be able to look up into the sky and see something happening at that very moment to a star. If a sun is destroyed by a “Star Killer,” you won’t see it happen from a neighboring star system for many years.

    Major goof made in a recent Star Wars movie

    You should also know that there are many different types of stars, ranging from giants to dwarfs, and various colors, and each color means something — and is an indicator of how much heat and radiation that they spew forth.

    But above all, do not get star systems and galaxies confused.

    If you do, your readers will laugh at you.

  • Cacophony Now!

    ·

    Grackles. It always came back to the grackles.

    Harold saw an opening in the crowd and made a break for it, hoping to slip past the overhead eyes that kept track of day-to-day humanity. They could see inside people but it was hard, he knew, for them to see through people. The best place to hide was in a crowd.

    From the grackles.

    They were silly looking black birds with long tails and yellow eyes – yellow X-ray eyes, as it turned out — and were armed with long, razor-sharp beaks. For four miserable years now they ruled as malevolent dictators, acting like some Hitchcockian nightmare when a human got out of line. The punishment was swift, sudden, and final.

    Thou shalt not break the laws of the grackle.

    No one had paid much attention as they migrated, spread, multiplied. An invasive species is all they were. Our own fault since we’d cut down their rainforest homes. They had to go somewhere, right?

    To them, you see, we were the invasive species.

    Even Harold had known, dimly, that they could talk — like a parrot could talk. He’d read about it somewhere. But no one, not even animal behaviorists on the extreme edge, had any idea the shiny black birds were plotting. Scheming. Positioning themselves for a strategic win.

    Don’t dare call it “Bird Day.” Don’t refer to it, out loud, as “Avian Armageddon.” Refer to it by the proper name, the name they decreed we refer to it as: “Grackle Win Big, Mankind Stupid Day.” Make sure to pronounce it with the proper respectful inflection as well, or risk a beak hole in your cranium.

    Harold had made it from the doorway and into the crowd. He kept his head down, his hands in his trench coat pockets. He heard the sound of fluttering wings pass overhead, and just as he feared, there came the piercing shriek of an alarm.

    The noise they made. The noise. It would put a Moog synthesizer to shame. But it wasn’t just noise — it was their language. And not just their language, but also the language of other birds, other animals. The grackles were consummate masters of cross-species communication.

    “Eggs stolen!” they began announcing in English. “Eggs stolen!”

    “Egg thief! Egg thief!”

    The words were punctuated with organ chords, bells, sirens, cell phone rings … a cacophony of alarms from a huge random library of sound bites. This was combined with more and more flapping of wings as the alarm spread and the grackles took to the air. Harold kept his head down, and like everyone around him, just kept walking — pretending none of this was happening. The man next to him muttered the f-word under his breath. The woman in front of him, young with curly dark blonde hair and smelling of flowery perfume, echoed the sentiment.

    One of the grackles swooped down from its perch on a streetlight and landed on her head. She made an “Eeek!” sound and froze, trembling. The bird however only used her as a perch — it’s yellow, X-ray eyes were staring at Harold. First one eye, then after a turn of the head, the other.

    “Human!” it said. “You smell of fear!”

    “I’m afraid of beautiful women,” Harold told it.

    “What is beautiful women?” it crawed at him.

    “You’re sitting on one. She frightens me.”

    “This women is not beautiful!” The bird’s voice cracked and hit pitches so high that it hurt Harold’s ears. “She smells of bad flower chemical butt smell!”

    “This is why I fear her.”

    “Stupid human!” The bird bounded into the air, iridescent black wings flapping, yanking a few of the young lady’s hairs out as it flew off.

    The young woman turned to look at Harold. Before he could say a word or mutter some sort of apology, she slapped his face. Hard. Then without further comment, she turned again and resumed walking, as did the others in the crowd around them.

    The shock of the pain, the stinging of the skin on his face, it didn’t bother him. The truth was women did scare him. That’s why the bird flew away — it didn’t detect a lie. Harold shook it off, and deliberately putting one foot in front of the other, he fell back into the flow of the crowd, his head down as before. The cacophony and flapping wings continued above.

    Harold made it out of the area, crossing a bridge over murky water, and then entered his apartment building without further confrontation. Once behind locked doors and closed curtains, Harold gently extracted a handkerchief from deep within his trench coat pocket and holding it before him, gingerly unwrapped five tiny eggs. They were light blue with dark lines and spots as if someone had spilled ink on them. He held them, taking shaking breaths, his hands trembling.

    These five delicate objects would fetch a fortune on the black market. It was the ultimate defiance. The eggs of the enemy. But Harold had no intention of selling them. They might be tiny, you see, but they were delicious.

    It all came back to the grackles.

    Harold craved an omelet.

  • Giant Flaming Fowl

    ·

    Gargantuan white ducks waddled down the road, their orange webbed feet large as small cars, and each impact released a thunderous tremor that could be felt miles away. We hid in terror at their passing, huddled behind broken signboards. “Quack!” said one. “Quack!” We covered our ears and trembled, sure each moment would be our last.

    Jane, crazed by booze and her innate hatred for the lab-created monsters, broke free from her hiding place and raced out to the middle of the cracked pavement. She stood behind the last one, pointing a flare gun. I wanted to scream “No!” but didn’t dare. She risked her life, but I couldn’t risk everyone else’s.

    The muzzle spit flame and sparks, and the projectile shot out, wobbling, and embedded itself into the massive tail feathers. It took a moment for it to register through the massive body, but when it did the giant duck gave a shudder and it opened its beak. A noise like none other raked the very air around us, and flames quickly spread along the oiled feathers.

    Jane did a dance of vengeful joy and then scrambled to load another flare.

    It was the last time we saw her alive.

  • Now, before you get too excited, there are plenty of arguments that this is wrong — but for the sake of Science Fiction let’s suspend any disbelief and take this paper by Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon at face value.

    Here’s the idea: if you apply Moore’s Law to the demonstrated exponential rise in genetic complexity over time, it suggests that life as we know it formed roughly ten billion years ago. This is significant as the current estimated age of Earth is only 4.5 billion years.

    Origin of Life (Graph borrowed from a MIT Technology Review)

    This suggests all sorts of intriguing possibilities. For one, in this scenario, Panspermia is a foregone conclusion. Life did not form on Earth

    Sure this is not a new idea, but now Science Fiction as a genre has some numbers to play with. One of them is the possibility that in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, we’re not the backwards baby intelligence in a galaxy teeming with far more advanced races. We could very well be the ipso facto advanced intelligent race.

    How so?

    Consider this: We’ve always assumed that it takes at least 4.5 billion years for an intelligent race to develop. Now there’s evidence it might take as long as 10 billion years. Sure, we are leaving out a lot of factors, such as asteroid strikes and other mass extinction events – that you’d think would throw off the time table – but we’re not looking at that kind of physical history. We’re looking at the uniform rise in complexity of genetic material.

    Information.

    The assumption is that it somehow endures through these disasters and continues progress. After all, it somehow migrated through interstellar space through untold and unimaginable disasters – possibly the destruction and reformation of solar systems – to take root on this pretty little blue orb of ours.

    And so, this theory argues, thus explains the Fermi Paradox: We’re not hearing from any other intelligent species because they’re either close to, or behind, our own sophistication. That’s why we’re not being invaded by bug-eyed-monsters, or grey hive space aliens, or multi-trunked Pachyderms from Alpha Centari. If anything, we’d be the invaders, a la James Cameron’s Avatar.

    But beyond that lies the really intriguing questions:

    • Where, exactly, did life begin roughly 10 billion years ago?
    • Was it localized, as in a star that existed, and then perished, and the material reformed to become our current star and set of planets?
    • Is it spread through our entire galaxy, which means it permeates space and seeds all other hospitable environments such as Earth?
    • Are there other, wholly other alien forms of DNA-like substances which formed in a different time and frame, and that seeds other sections of the galaxy?

    The premise leads to endless conjecture – which is fuel for good Science Fiction – but more importantly it gives a more solid jumping off point, as – despite the inconclusive and tenuous evidence – it’s really the best we have right now. It’s something, other than nothing. Because before this paper came out, that what there was: nothing. Wide open nothing.

    This gives us something to test. Now, if we do finally find conclusive samples of life beyond planet Earth, we can see if it fits this model.

    That’s what science is about.

    And that is the best fuel for good Science Fiction.

  • SleepLink

    ·

    Raymond’s phone emitted a crystalline chime. A message, he knew, from another world.

    Swaying back and forth with the train’s motions, his eyes blinked open and he reached into his jacket pocket, feeling for the warm metal. Pulling it out, he held it in front of his bleary eyes and focused on the screen.

    SLEEPLINK Message from Mary North – Ray I need your help! My hair has turned to metal! I think it’s like Brillo or something! Can you come home right now?

    “Uhh yeah,” he whispered to himself. Thumbing the phone’s keyboard he replied, “You are asleep and dreaming right now. Nothing is wrong. Either wake up, or shift your dream in another direction.” He hit send then plinked the screen off with a push of a button, and then slid the phone back into his pocket. Oh man, he thought, it would be nice to be at home right now, asleep, instead of riding a stuffy crowded commuter train at 5 in the morning.

    From deep within his pocket came another chime. Raymond gave a half-sigh, half-laugh. Why, he wondered, did we ever think this SleepLink service was a good idea? He slipped his hand once again into his pocket, finding the phone, pulling it out.

    “I’m not the one dreaming, you are,” she’d replied.

    “No sweetheart,” he typed back. “You’re the one logged into SleepLink, not me. Everything is okay.” He almost quipped something about making sure her Brillo hair didn’t get rusty, but he restrained himself. He was too tired.

    Accessing the control app, he thumbed through the menu and chose something he was only supposed to do if absolutely necessary: RESET PARTNER’S DREAM. He knew he was supposed to try to talk her through a nightmare first, because using this was kind of like teleporting at random and not knowing where you would land.

    The wheels hit a bump in the tracks, and the lights flashed inside the train. The jolt threw Raymond’s head against the window so hard he was amazed the glass didn’t break. It felt like it had cracked his head. He clutched it a moment, feeling a wave of dizziness, and after he recovered Raymond felt a warm body next to him in the seat. Glancing over he was startled to see Mary sitting with him.

    She was in her pajamas. Her sexy pajamas.

    “What the hell?” he exclaimed.

    “Oh, you hit the dream reset!” she said. “Great. Just great. I’m naked in public. Thank you Ray.”

    It took him a moment to find his voice. She wasn’t naked, exactly — though the nightie was pretty much see-through. What stole his voice from him was the fact that her head was festooned with a mass of dull gray steel wool instead of hair. “Oh crap,” he said, “I teleported you out of your dream!”

    “No, stupid, you teleported me into your dream.”

    “I’m not dreaming!”

    “No? Then how do you account for me being here? Teleportation isn’t actually possible. And—” she pointed “—explain why there’s a Klingon sitting in the seat across from us.”

    The Klingon looked over at them, bemused. “I’m heading to a Star Trek convention,” he said in a low, guttural voice.

    “He’s going to a convention,” Raymond said. “See.”

    “Of course he’s going to agree with you,” said Mary. “He’s in your dream.”

    Something occurred to Raymond. “Wait a minute,” he said to the Klingon, “it’s five in the morning! What Star Trek convention is going to be open this early?”

    The Klingon now had a third eye. “Meow,” he said. He smiled at them with long, sharp, pointed teeth.

    Everyone else on the train turned around to smile at them. They all had three eyes and sharp teeth. Raymond and Mary looked at each other, and then both fumbled quickly for their phones, scrambling to open the DreamLink app and hit the reset button. Mary — lord knows where she had been keeping her phone — beat him to it.

    The lights blinked, and instead of being on a train, they both floated in a kind of blue-violet void surrounded by large stuffed panda bears and Hello Kitties. “Oh no!” Raymond cried. “We teleported into your dream!”

    Mary spun upside-down and smiled. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

    “No!” Hello Kitties terrified him, and these were over 15 feet tall. He fumbled for his phone but lost his grip on it, and it went tumbling away into space. Raymond watched it in horror, especially as one of the giant stuffed pandas grabbed it and crunched it to bits with its very real, very non-fluffy teeth.

    “Raymond?” said a voice that wasn’t Mary’s. “Raymond? You okay? Raymond?”

    He sucked in his breath and lifted his head in one convulsive movement. Raymond found himself sitting at a table with a bunch of people who were all staring at him. His co-workers. The lights were dim and a PowerPoint presentation shown on the wall. His face felt wet, and he reached up to touch it, finding drool all over his chin and cheeks.

    “Uh, yeah, I’m okay,” he said, his tense and breathless voice undermining his words. He had to put his hands firmly against the table to hold himself upright. He felt dizzy and disoriented.

    “Are you sure?” asked his boss. She looked concerned.

    Raymond’s phone, sitting on the table in front of him, chimed and the screen lit up. INCOMING SLEEPLINK MESSAGE, it said. Without reading it, Raymond grabbed the phone and turned it off, then shoved it into his shirt pocket.

    Up on the wall, the projected PowerPoint slide depicted a giant Hello Kitty.

    His three-eyed boss said, “Meow.”

  • The Godhead

    ·

    It looked like God.

    That is, if God had four eyes, four arms, and pincher-claw hands. And a giant mustache … which could, actually, be interpreted as mandibles.

    It was undoubtably someone’s god. Carved out of a mountain, it loomed over the settlement and filled a quarter of the sky. There was a lot of talk about either moving the settlement, or building a new one on the other side of the mountain — because having this enormous four-eyed monster staring down at you all the time gave everyone the creeps.

    Well, almost everyone. Philip Richard found it endlessly fascinating, and while most people built their homesteads to face away from it, looking instead out across the great expanse of the Dime River, Philip made sure the Godhead filled the view of his main picture window.

    “Why did you do that? It’s hideous.” Regina stood next to him, sipping her drink and staring out the window. “The thing gives me nightmares.”

    Regina was a beautiful second generation clone with blue eyes and dark hair. Philip had met her at the Politico rally a fortnight before. It had taken him this long to lure her over. “Maybe,” he said to Regina, “that’s what its purpose is.”

    “To give people nightmares? It’s working.” Regina turned her back to the window. “Don’t you have curtains you can put up?”

    “No.”

    “A blanket? Some foil?” Her face puckered like she were tasting something bad. “Bricks?”

    “You should try not to look at it negatively,” he told her. “An ancient race dedicated lifetimes to creating this godhead, probably as a protector. And if you think about it, it’s still working — we, trespassers on this world, are completely freaked out by it — which for all we know is exactly what it’s supposed to do.”

    “Of all the places on this world, it’s crazy that the Guardians chose to land the seed ship here, settle us here.” She shook her head. “They’re supposed to be so smart, why can’t they also be freaked out by the thing?”

    “The Guardians saw it as a perfect starting point — the site of a former civilization,” Philip said. “We’re supposed to be inspired.”

    “By a civilization that vanished? What if this godhead of theirs had something to do with them disappearing?”

    Philip shrugged. “Evidence points to them evolving away from corporeal existence.”

    “I don’t buy that, ‘they turned into The Force’ nonsense.”

    He gave her a warm, genuine smile. “Neither do I, really.” They shared a look which quickly grew awkward, and finally he said, “If the view of the godhead bothers you we can go into the other room.” He pointed.

    “Is that your … bedroom?” she asked.

    He nodded.

    The silence stretched, growing even more awkward, and he thought that this wasn’t going to work. But then Regina said, “Okay. Anything to get away from that big creepy monster.” Her arms crossed in front of her, she walked through the doorway, and after a moment he followed.

    The next morning Philip emerged, feeling incredible. The night had been awesome. He was in such a good mood that if he wasn’t afraid of waking Regina, he would have been whistling.

    Gazing through the window at the godhead, it seemed to glow in the light of the rising sun. If he didn’t know better he’d say it looked alive, pulsing with energy and warmth. Putting his hands together in front of him, Philip gave a little bow to the godhead and thanked it. Sincerely, honestly, thanked it.

    He’d decoded the alien glyphs. He’d translated the ancient texts. Philip knew exactly the true purpose of the giant statue.

    It was a fertility goddess.

  • He Likes Bacon

    ·

    “I want bacon flavored bacon on my bacon. I want so much bacon flavor that it obtains critical mass. I want it to collapse into a bacon singularity were no flavor can escape.”

    She pushed her glasses down her nose so that she could look over the wire-rimmed frames at him. “That’s crazy,” she told him, “that would leave you trapped inside the bacon event horizon.”

    “That’s where I want to be,” he said.

    “All alone? Forever?”

    “With bacon you’re never alone.”

    “You’re insane.” She crossed her arms and shook her head. “But if that’s what you really want, I can’t stop you.”

    “This is goodbye, then,” he said. “I’m gonna have me some bacon.”

    “Goodbye, moron.”

    He smiled and waved, then stepped into the giant Bacon Accelerator. There was a loud hum, a flash, then he was gone.