Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
“Man, we got ripped off.” said Manuel.
He was watching an old tri-D of a Flash Gordon serial made in the fifties. In the show, the year was 1998, just like now. It was hilarious and depressing all at the same time.
Manuel’s robot servant brought him another drink. “Will there be anything else?” D-11B intoned.
“No.” answered Manuel through his thought-amplification helmet. “That will be all.”
D-11B went back to the kitchen dispensary to prepare the dinner pills. Manuel continued watching Flash Gordon.
On the tri-D, Flash Gordon got into his ‘internal combustion’ ground car, put something called a cigarette into his mouth and drove to his ‘apartment’ using what he referred to as an ‘onboard navigational computer’ that told him exactly where to go.
In this series, there were little robots in space that took pictures of earth that everyone could see and use as a map. They called them satellites. No tethers! Amazing.
“Imagine how easy it would be to fly around without having to avoid all the tethers,” Manuel said to himself, “my personal jetpack would have a few less scratches, that’s for sure.”
Flash Gordon’s friend, Dr. Zarkov, had something called a pacemaker. It used metal wires to stimulate his heart with electricity!
Complete flights of fancy. The miracle material called ‘plastic’, for instance, made from the magic ‘oil’ liquid that came out of the ground, or electricity that was only in wires and not the free-floating Tesla storms that we had so many problems with.
“We hadn’t been able to live on the ground since 1938,” said Manuel to himself, “that’s why we all lived in nuclear-powered levitating houses. It was a matter of survival after The World War.”
Manuel could hear his wife’s flying car come in for a landing outside on the inner rim. He turned off the tri-D and stood up. “She’d kill me if she caught me watching this old claptrap,” he murmured, “it always makes me cranky.”
The bio-coral bone-thickeners helped Mauel’s hips as he stood up. He was wishing for a pair of those magnificent ‘plastic’ hips like in the Flash Gordon film.
No ground cars, no satellites, no shuttles, no gasoline, no plastic.
Manuel sighed. “Man, we got ripped off.” he said again.
“Honey, I’m home!” said his wife as she came in the front vacutube elevator.
Manuel forced a smile and went to greet his wife before dinner.
Author : Phill English
“I just don’t want to hear it, Helen.”
Helen grips Henry’s arm as he moves about the household, packing his things into a small carry-bag. She tries to spin him to face her as she pleads, but he remains resolute in his mission.
“Please, Henry, just hear me out. It was never intended to go that far! There just wasn’t any friction between us, and he was so gentle, so noble…”
Henry rounds on her, “Then why aren’t you lounging in his arms instead of making a fool out of yourself here?”
Helen looks down at the floor as she answers, “He didn’t care. He was so…so inert.” She spits the word out. “For all his charms, a statue! Carved, static, unmoving. But you, you, my darling Henry. Please, give me one more chance?”
Henry waves her off, moving around to the mantelpiece. He picks up an image of them together, pausing in his fury to look upon their energy, the bond that was so obviously between them. He turns to face Helen, and sees her desperation laid bare in a tearful smile.
The frame hits the ground and they embrace, frantic and excited.
* * *
Several orders of magnitude above the scene, a scientist leans back from his Planckroscope and mutters to himself, “So this is why the call it quantum entanglement.”
Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
The Herschel Scientific Outpost was located on the northernmost shore of the Lacus Ocean at Titan’s South Pole. The outpost housed six earth scientists whose primary mission was to study the life forms discovered on Saturn’s largest moon. There were more than a thousand different species cataloged in the first six months of the expedition. At least one species, the Manti, were found to be intelligent. The creatures were named Manti because they vaguely resembled a large praying mantis. They were about three feet tall, with a proportionately stockier body than their terrestrial namesakes. Their exoskeletons were composed of complex hydrocarbons (plastic, in other words). They had a feudal society, similar to the medieval societies that prevailed in Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Within several months of first contact, the scientists were able to develop a common language with the Mandi. The relationship between the two species was excellent. In fact, because of their apparently magical technology, the Earthmen were generally idolized.
“Ms. Krinshaw,” said specialist Philippe Thame, “there is an urgent message coming in from Cooper. He says he has a serious problem, and is requesting assistance.” Because of his rapport with the Mandi, Cooper Jones was considered the expedition’s ambassador to Titan. He spent more time outside the ship than any other crew member.
“Put it on the speaker, Philippe,” instructed the commander. “What’s the problem, Cooper?”
“Hello, Sarah. I’m in a bit of a pickle out here. You know the large village to the east, the one run by the Manti we call Lord Charl? Well, it seems that one of his children was carried off by a giant creature called a Nograd. The Manti are afraid of them, and asked if I could attempt a rescue. Apparently, the Nograd are capable of combining the methane and nitrogen in Titan’s atmosphere to form solid cyanogen and hydrogen gas. It then blows the gas out of its mouth. It’s an exothermic reaction, so the hydrogen gas it secretes is relatively hot. My inferred spectrometer shows the gas to be 500 degrees hotter that Titan’s -290F surface temperature. That’s hot enough to melt the Manti’s exoskeleton.”
“Understood, Cooper. We’ll send out reinforcements.”
“That’s not necessary, Sarah. Since my suit can handle 375F, I decided I could take care of it on my own. After all, Titian’s creatures are pretty frail by Earth standards. Anyway, I tried to chase it away from its prisoner by jumping up and down and waving my arms around. It wasn’t afraid of me at all, so I decided to chuck an ice-rock at it. Since Titan’s gravity is less than one seventh of Earth’s, I was able to throw a pretty big bolder. I ended up crushing it.”
“I don’t understand, Cooper. If you killed the Nograd, what’s your problem?”
“Well, Sarah, uh, it appears that the offspring I rescued was Lord Charl’s oldest daughter. They say that because I saved her life, I have to marry her. And if I don’t, they’ll consider it an insult of the highest degree, and therefore, an act of war.”
“Interesting,” she replied with an unconcealed smile. “I’ll consult with Earth Command, Cooper, but considering the potential consequences, I don’t think we’ll have many options. My guess is that you’re about to become a Prince.”
Author : Yubin Kim
“I can see time, you know.” She said.
He looked up from a piece of paper full of scribbled equations, frowning at the interruption. “What?”
She plucked the pencil out of his loose grasp, quelling his half-formed protestations with a mysterious smile. Holding the thin object between her thumb and index finger, she closed her eyes. She could almost feel his frown deepening into a scowl, but she ignored his displeasure and instead, _looked_.
“I can see where this pencil was. In your hand, your pencil case, in the desk drawer, in the manufacture plant which it was made.” She narrated in a whisper, as she saw the pencil’s glistening shadow floating through time and various points in space.
“I don’t have time–”
She overrode his frustrated outburst, calmly continuing her narrative. “I can see where this pencil will be. Back in your hand and then–”
She opened her eyes with a startled gasp and glared at the pencil.
“What now?” He growled.
“It ends.” She explained in a slightly troubled tone, dropping the pencil back into his open hand. Rising from her chair, she lightly stepped away from the cluttered desk, and walked out of the room in wide, swinging steps.
He studied her sudden exit with bemusement, then shaking his head, he bent over his task. However, when he pressed the end of the pencil to the paper, the thin body broke in half with an audible snap. Blinking, the he stared at the remnants, and then raised his gaze towards the door where he saw her standing there with a smile. In her hand, she held up a new pencil. He suddenly found himself speechless.
Author : J. Keegan
In line at the all-you-can-eat, and I’m waiting my turn; fifty different alien species in the joint; it’s hard to get human food anymore; an earthling on earth and out of place.
I lift the lid to, ‘Turkey,’ but it is Alevi style, raw turkey, appendix red. Afraid of faux pas, I say, “Mmm, looks good, piquant.”
A Tarand to my left says, “Indeed,” he sarcastic.
The soup of the day is Campbell’s Alphabet soup, but not the Latin alphabet, and I get sick of eating a Sanskrit like language, the letter A in the shape of a character, a logogram, the character for lucky. Other entrees include, a bowl of ice chips, margarine, or rinds, not watermelon, just the rinds of watermelon.
The Tarand says, “W. C. Fields said, ‘Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.” I laugh. Tarands, always classy.
I have to wait for a Beliada to spoon insoluble fiber onto his plate, no opposable thumbs.
In line behind us is a CalCalaKer, and although there is a little sign on the sneeze guard, ‘Please No Antennas,’ the hat stand alien with thirty antennas, you know will touch something.
More food, dozens of skull and crossbones, red cabbage being poisonous to Delteras; peanuts being poisonous to Elevens.
How things get translated, interpreted. The phrase all-you-can-eat, and Feltas taking the wording literally and trying to eat the silverware and plates, the seat cushions too. As well, all-you-can-eat, understood by carnivores, the Gelter’s Incident, two years ago, as all-the-patrons-you-can-eat.
A Heleton opens the 400 gallon ant farm and digs out a tunnel.
I’ve heard of beef tripe, the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach. And, Kopi Luwak coffee, undigested coffee beans picked out of monkey stool, the Asian palm civet. And, I’ve heard of the Italian cheese, Casu Marzu, a cheese infested with maggots on purpose until the cheese becomes buttery, eaten maggots and all, and when disturbed the larva jump six inches off the cheese. But the alien selections disgust me, the cannibalism mostly, an Inieateri eating an Inieateri – part of their religion.
Vegetarians too, Janusi, with a face in front and one in the back so it walks forward when it walks backward. Common backyard weeds, elephant ear, dandelion, creeping charlie, sold for hundreds of Euros per kilo. One alien species, the Keael, digesting sorghum, for the Letins, regurgitating and spitting in the other’s mouth like a mother bird.
Political correctness, and aliens complained of, ‘Bovine-mammary-gland-cow-utter-nipples,’ so ice cream had to be removed from the menu.
The staff, the workers paid less than minimum wage, they in stupid uniforms with chef hats, the floors greasy, used napkins everywhere, and probably nothing’s changed in a century.
I’ve my tray, rice balls and raisins. Nowhere to sit.
What did I expect for only $176.88 a plate?
The Tarand, being kind, “There’s room here at my table. Please, sit here by me.”
I’m a little afraid because of the Tarands’ high intelligence, their high class. “Thank you,” I say. I try a joke. “They’re no longer serving milk,” I say. “Like W. C. Fields used to say about being told no more alcohol, ‘My illness is due to my doctor’s insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies.’”
“Yes,” he laughs. “Like W. C. Fields used to say, ‘Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.”