Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

22nd June
written by amber

Mars 300

The boys would hike far out into the Martian country, carrying nothing beside light backpacks. The landscape was sere but in every sheltered hollow, air plants grew and a network of creeping vines skeined across the gritty dust, binding it against the wind and slowly converting it to soil, as they’d been designed to do.

“Look at this picture of my grandparents out on a walkabout,” Fox said, showing the other boys a projected image.

“Breathers!” they chuckled.

“Still use them over in Cimmerion,” Fox said.

“They’re Luddites there,” Bear scoffed.

“No, they just want to go back to Earth and be able to breathe the air and stand the heat.”

“So they’re not real Martians. They can’t go out from under the domes.”

“If you want to have a dog, you have to live under a dome,” Shark told them. He was obsessed with dogs.

“No, I heard there were some engineered dogs that escaped up in Bonestell and now they run wild up there. Maybe someday there’ll be enough that we’ll see them around here.”

“That would be neat!”

“Let’s camp now,” Fox said to his friends, each one of them named in the current fashion after extinct animals of Earth.

Bear and Shark shook their flimsy tents until the fabric hardened and switched on the solar heaters while Fox gathered meat bush twigs and water bladders and sweet coco-cherries for their dinner.

Three hundred years since Mars had been settled, the boys lay on sleeping pads beside the heaters and watched the sunset and early twinkling stars and the one steady point of light that few Martians considered to be home. It was minus 30 degrees and the atmosphere was 12 percent oxygen, yet they were perfectly comfortable. The planet had changed greatly, but the men – and boys – who lived there had changed much more.

The Story 365 project was a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012.  This was the final story of Bradbury week, in February 2012, and it’s taken us to the possible future of the settlement of Mars as I’ve imagined it. And it’s the final story in this group of Bradbury-inspired stories re-posted as a tribute to the late great SF writer.

21st June
written by amber

Little Dead Town

He pulled into the little dead Martian town, stopped the engine, and let the silence come in around him. Inside the dome, nothing moved and light barely penetrated through the scratched plasteel.

Coral dust formed dunes in the narrow streets and drifted through the open doorways of the houses. Footprints from decades’ worth of visitors lay undisturbed by wind, ever since the breach in the dome had been repaired.

The house numbers were faded but he found his great-grandparents’ house easily, the first house on Walnut Street. The house was tiny, of course. Fitting 50 families and an air plant and heat exchangers and greenhouses beneath one small dome had put space at a premium.

The door opened directly onto the street, without an airlock. No one had anticipated that the plasteel dome could be pierced by anything short of a bomb or a meteorite. Chances of either had been astronomically small, but a meteorite had come.

On Walnut street, all the houses had only one room. They had been for families like his great-grandparents, with grown children no longer living with them or young couples who had no children yet. One room serving as bedroom, living room and kitchen, with a minuscule bathroom behind a curtain.

He needed to do no more than step through the door to see them, two wizened figures in the fold-down bed.

Everyone said it had been a mercy that the accident happened when most people were asleep, but he always wondered how many could have slept through the sudden lack of oxygen and bitter cold.

The meteorite storm had knocked out planetary communications and so it had been nearly four weeks before the ghost town had been discovered, bodies already transformed by cold and dryness into mummies.

No one had considered any grave in the sere Martian dust to be a better resting place than here, in the village of their plans and dreams among their fellow pioneers, the people of New Chengdu.

18th May
written by amber

The Hermit – (a teaser)

After seven years on his own, the hermit came into town but there was no one there.

The doors hung open, sagging on their hinges, the walls had lost their angles, the windows were blinded by tiny pits from the eternally-blowing sand.

The hermit walked into the first house he arrived at. There were bowls on the table, each with a dry wizened mess in the bottom. There were leathery dead people on the chairs at the table, their clothing in rags and their bones poking through their desiccated skin.

The hermit walked out of that house and along the street toward the centre of the town. He didn’t go into any more houses. The wind made shushing sounds as it siphoned fine sand from one place to another. The wind made creaky metallic sounds as it worried at the ragged edges of the houses.

Dear Readers – this is just part of a story. One of the problematic aspects of Story 365 is that many of the markets to which I usually submit stories will not accept previously published stories. Stories on my blog are considered to be previously published.

StoryADay gave us the assignment today to write about a loner, and I had the first line in my head all day. I’m quite pleased with the story that resulted, and it’s a little longer than many of my stories, so I’m giving you just the first few paragraphs and I’m going to submit it to Daily Science Fiction. I’ll let you know how it is received.

Meanwhile, if any of you want the entire story, I’d be happy to email it to you, as that is not considered to be publication. Just leave a comment with your address.

16th May
written by amber

Prom Night

He’s so handsome with his little horns.

And he’s polished his hooves and put on his best jacket. His hair and beard are neatly combed. The corsage for his date is in his pocket.

My son, the goat boy, ready for his prom. And favouring me with a mild look, not quite a smile, but not a glare.

These last few years haven’t been easy. We thought things were bad when he was a baby. All the publicity, the outcry when we refused surgery, his first day of kindergarten and the way the other children mocked him. But puberty has been a whole new ball game.

Probably all parents of teenagers go through something like this. Probably we’re kidding ourselves (pun inevitable) that our experience is the worst possible.

Sometimes I wish the other children at school still ostracized him, instead of this popularity he has now. Of course, he’s not the only hybrid human any longer – he’s just the first.

No one believes us when we say that all we were trying to do was fiddle with the human digestive system a little, biohack a way for us to be able to eat more things, ideally to eat our own garbage instead of filling the land with landfills. I didn’t know I was pregnant. I certainly didn’t know the modification would affect my son the way it did.

Billy (we didn’t name him that – we named him Bradley – he chose that for himself) lost his driving license last week and he says he’d be mortified to have us drive him, so Ashleigh, his date, is picking him up in her car.

And here she is and the few moments of unaccustomed peace in our house end as he yells across the yard “I’ll be right out, Ash!” and turns to us with a scowl, “I suppose you think that even tonight I should come home by a certain time.”

“No, son,” my husband says, “You go out and have a good time. This is a special night for you and we’re really proud of you for graduating.”

“Surprised you, hey?” he says, hovering in the doorway. “Maybe you should have been tinkering with a way to make people smarter all those years ago instead of aiming for a human trash compactor.”

He’s off then, trotting across the yard, and I am filled with so much love for him. He never shows us how much his differences have brought him pain. He always seems to revel in his individuality. I’ll cherish this night for many reasons, but most of all for this rare moment of candor.

I wasn’t able to get on the internet earlier today, and so I wasn’t able to find out StoryADay’s prompt, therefore I didn’t have a chance to think about it prior to logging on this evening and discovering I was to write a love story. And I totally went blank on it. Then I looked out the window and saw a deer stroll by in the pasture, with short little horns. So I wrote the first line and carried on from there. And I was able to put in something about biohacking, which I heard about on CBC this morning and thought would work well in a story.

14th May
written by amber

The Get-O

I took a wrong turn and ended up in the Get-O, surrounded by Get&Fetchits.

Or, to be more politically correct, surrounded by Digicerians. But who calls them that?

I’d been around them before, but usually at a distance. In an eatery, for example, where they would be wearing aprons and clearing tables, or at some wealthy person’s estate where they would be wearing coveralls and raking up leaves.

I’d never been afraid of them before, but I was now. For one thing, they were naked. I should have expected this. I know they wear clothing for our sensibilities, not for theirs. Their home planet is quite cold, so they find our preferred temperature oppressive.

For another thing, they seemed taller. I realized that they are always slumped when serving us, and I guess I’d thought that was their regular posture, but in their part of the city, they stood much straighter. In fact, most of them were taller than I am.

They didn’t act threatening toward me, but they bunched together and jabbered in their strange-sounding language and looked at me with their odd eyes and I couldn’t help but recall the circumstance of their being among us.

The first intelligent species we encountered when we began to colonize other planets, and we destroyed their home world. It’s no excuse that we didn’t know they were there, that we didn’t know harvesting oxygen would destabilize the atmosphere; we turned a green forest world into an airless wasteland. And so we brought them to live on our planets.

Our biggest fear when we set forth into the universe was that we’d meet a race superior to us. Some hoped such advanced beings would elevate us, but most expected them to despise us and enslave us. And now we have done that to the Digecerians. That we’ve done it more through accident than intent does not excuse it.

And coming face-to-face with them in the Get-O, confronting my fear which arose from my guilt and not from their loud outcries which might have been anger, I ultimately felt sorry for them. They were in the wrong place through no fault of their own, and no right place for them existed among the known planets. We had ruined the world they call Earth in their tongue, and halted the progress which may have brought them a future as bright in knowledge and technology as our own.

StoryADay gave us the suggestion to write about someone in the wrong place at the wrong time.