When sci-if meets science (Silversides)

Real Science inspires SciFi

This is exactly what I have been looking for in a the mask that my characters in the novel, Silversides, wear when they first land on Gliese 581 g to protect themselves against biologicals they yet do not have immunities for. It is so awesome to finally have a clear image, which makes writing a bit easier. The real science fiction is behind the concept of this mask, an artist’s rendition, of the research coming out of Denmark for a new material synthesized from cobalt to extract and store oxygen eliminating the need of oxygen tanks.   Now back to editing….

Excerpt from Silversides: Chapter Five

Kulcn stepped out from the shuttle with the bleed of oxygen rushing past him, the last of Earth’s oxygen as it diffused into the atmosphere. He paused to read the input on the lens before descending the ramp, and by the time his boots touched the ground the white microtiles of his suit and mask had turned a charcoal black to match the color of the sand. The other Silversides followed, their suits fluxing from the bottom up as if they had walked into a pool of black ink.

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Under Eden

END OF DAYS SERIES: Under Eden

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Photo by Mark Lynch

“Shite, that was close.”

From the impact, the sky had lit up so bright we could see clearly down the street with its neatly parked cars, perfectly aligned like the teeth of a zipper. But no one was out and no lights came on in any of the homes; our neighbors had all moved to the underground.

 

 

When we go we want to taste the air and see the sun going down and not have the taste of someone else’s exhale lingering in our mouths or staring up at a filament, waiting for it to extinguish and be left alone in darkness with only our fear leaning in.  The underground was not for us, but I suppose for those who have chosen to stay below, there is something to be said for not knowing or seeing the end coming.

For us above, we enjoy free rein of the big box stores and the design outlets to get all the lumber, tools, and furniture needed to build a roof deck on our flat… something I had always wanted to do for my family but never had the funds to do it.  It’s bittersweet under these circumstances, but our roof deck rocks.  We have a full working tiki-bar and a well stocked drinks cupboard up here with unobstructed views of the sunsets.  And the sunsets have been magnificent lately, even knowing the colors are fed by the ash of every living thing that was incinerated from an impact.

We have allowed our fifteen-year-old daughter, Louise, to drink alcohol along with us, enjoying these last days together as a family.  Tonight’s concoction of a drink is a Commet-Kaze, but instead of Triple Sec we used Orange Curaçao– stuff we could never afford but is now readily available at the off-license… free of charge of course.  Honestly, I hope the end comes soon because we are running out of clever drink names.   My youngest, Alec, is a space nut.  When we had a family vote to stay above or go under, he was the most vocal of staying above; he wanted to see what was coming.  For the record, it was unanimous, we all wanted to stay above.  A weird lot we are.

Ever since the announcement that Earth would pass directly into a catastrophic asteroid storm, spelling out the end for us all,  Alec has been glued to his kit of computers and monitors lined up on the dining table. Seated upon his newly acquired oversized luxury office chair with his feet dangling, he has been tracking everything coming in; it’s like having the ESA in our sitting room.  He has informed us that the impact we just saw was an 8 on the Torino Scale with a low MT potential… whatever that means.    He said if it had been a 9 we would have been okay but we would have had to remain inside for a while, but if it had been a 10, well, that would have been a bit of a damp squib.

Louise has been on a mission every day now, looking for pet stores to liberate or following the barking or meowing of dogs and cats left abandoned in their homes. When we find them,  we open the doors, cages and pet food.  We even take the freshwater fish to a freshwater canal or pond and take the saltwater fish to the sea, but we need to check in with Alec before going there in case an 8 or 9 hits off the coast creating a tsunami.

My wife, Jenny, has been a rock through all this.  Me, well, when you have loved someone for eighteen years, every day as much as the first, someone you would instinctively put your own life before theirs… well… I can’t think about that right now.  It’s been a long day.  We’re off to bed.

We were awakened by the alarms from Alec’s monitoring alerts, Jenny and I still in a tangle with the lingering scent of our lovemaking around us.   We knew the drill.  If this was going to be the one to take us out, we wanted to be together through to the end.  Jenny would gather up Louise, as I headed down the steps to the sitting room to find Alec inches away from the monitors, the screen data reflecting off his specs as he nibbled away on a biscuit from Marks & Sparks.  Now that we were directly in the path of the storm, Alec has been sleeping here on the couch under a litany of graphs and hand drawn eclipses of near misses and impacts, looking for the one that will do us in.  He never had a passion for sport or music and had always been a bit of a loner with his technical books and sci-fi pulp fiction, but this makes him happy, happier than I have ever seen him.  So be it.  The kit he put together came from the Apple Store and smaller bits and PC shops down the block.  I’m not sure of what his kit does, but he seems to know of inbounds before anyone in his circle of plusers does.  Lucky us.

“Alec.  What does your crystal ball show?” I said coming up behind him, making sure to slide my slippers on the floorboards so as not to startle him.

“Daddy, you should see this one. It’s big.  A 10 with a high MT.” he said not turning away from the screens.

I stooped over his shoulder, trying to see what he was seeing, but all I could make out was a ball of multicolored elastics knowing somewhere beneath it all was Earth.

“Hmmmm….” was the most meaningful response I could come up with.

“This is the one,” he said without the slightest doubt and proud that his forecasts have always proved to be spot on.

I palmed the mop of his hair, thankful he got the hair gene from his mum. “Let’s get up on the roof then,” and I helped him into his pullover hoodie with the phrase, Waiting For The Asteroid, written in front.

“I’m very proud of you, Alec.”  I said reaching down to zip him up, tucking the hoodie around his ears to keep out the chill.  When we got to the roof, Jenny had the mushroom heaters going and a hot tea for me in hand.   We sat close together on the outdoor furniture, our overly fluffy slippers up on the ottomans while passing the tin of peanut butter shortbreads, from Luigi Zuck.  This was our routine; no one should have to go out without the finest shortbreads at hand.

“See it!” Alec said jumping up and almost losing his glasses.

It started as a white dash in the night, elongating and brightening as it raced toward us.

“It’s traveling at 24.360 Kilometers per second,” Alec said.  He moved to the edge of the deck, leaning over with his hands on the rail, then looked back at us with a child’s innocence.

I reached over and pat Jenny on the knee.  “He’s right about this one.”  And stood up to join my son at the railing, my arm draped around his tiny shoulders, pulling him tight.  I was proud of him and he knew it. Jenny led Louise to the railing, standing beside me as I reached for her hand and felt the wedding ring I had slipped onto her finger eighteen years ago.  We looked up at the dash in the sky, its cobalt blue tail under a gown of white forming a cone.  It was beautiful, I had to admit, like a slow moving shuttlecock entering the atmosphere.  Then from the tip of the cone, the object projected outward, a second stage, plunging into the lower atmosphere and growing brighter, affording us a clear look down the entire block of flats as if it were daybreak.

“Shades down everyone.” And I helped Alec with his before my own.  It was bright, even through the welding goggles we were wearing. I knew Jenny was looking over at me and I turned to see her smile beneath the dark lenses.

“Don’t think you’re getting your back scratched, tonight,” she said as a statement of relief.

I laughed. “It’s been wonderful, Jen.” and I leaned in for a kiss, her head tilting to the side, her lips slightly parted and I knew her love for me and I for her would never dim.  As we kissed, we drew in Alec and Louise.  There is something to be said for the human spirit, something that feels it will never extinguish, even where it can’t exist.

Author’s Note:  This third short was inspired by a fellow G+’er, Mark Lynch (Lynchy), who lives in London and posted a beautiful sunset of his street. It moved me and I knew the story to come with it belonged here. Thanks Mark for the image and please extend a thanks to your  lovely wife for the ‘squib’ reference… I’m still laughing……

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Cover

Photo - Mark Hurn

Photo – Mark Hurn

COVER

Diagraphy: 2046.06.18:

I come from a lineage of great surfers dating back to the 21st century on Earth. My name is MoonDoggie, a name one of my French ancestors had given to her first born son, a name that could not be repeated for ten generations; so that would be, me.

I was no one special until a botTOG, named Hurn, rec’d a clip of me free falling down the face of Phaedra 18-C. It was on a dare and I was attempting a slide-in backside on a hotMELT.  But things didn’t go as planned and I had separated from the hotMELT and did a slomo vertical 360 but managed to get it all back together as if I had planned it that way.   Hurn’s clip made me famous as faraway as Sagittarius-Carina and I was splashed onto the cover of sineWAVE.  These days, I can’t hit a break where someone or something doesn’t yell out, “Hey MoonDoggie! I dare you….” And that’s when the shit happens. And it’s weird shit.

The baggage that comes with notoriety has been mounting, so much so that my traveling buds are few and I don’t blame them; there’s a circus of bots chasing me these days, hoping to land the next cover and galactic stream.  They’re as reckless as the razor scarabs you’d find at Noah’s Cove on Xeries; don’t open your mouth or they’ll find their way in and punch out your chest. My late friend, Oyen, had found that out the hard way.  These days I travel solo.

So here I am on Cyan-B, having used the last remaining koins earned from that clip to get me here, bouncing my way through a couple of tokamak gateways, then knowing a guy who knew a dude running calibrations on a neckerCube who got me the last jump all the way back to the Orion Spur. The dude had also provided me some bogus metaProfs to use as chaff just before the last jump to throw off any botTOGs shadowing me.  Guess it worked, not a one in sight.

It looks like Twig’s forecast had been spot on, the surf looks awesome, and as far as I know it’s the first time anyone has ever been here.  I didn’t find out why until after I landed and read through the hyperLogs; turns out there’s a large amplitude dark matter wave just outside Joule, the binary star system I’m in, and my chances of successfully having gotten through that without being ripped to pieces, was like… well… one out of every 3.14.  Lucky, lucky, lucky me.  I must be down to five lives now. Getting out in one piece might drop me to four.

 

There’s a feeling only surfers get when coming across a virgin break and here I am… staring out at one. The fact is, I’ve never surfed in water; I mean Earth-like water, H2O with a salinity of 33 ppm. But this is why I had dragged an oldie from Earth, a 5.8 FocusFlex, quad-fin, V2 by DaveySky. This stick had been handed down through the generations and hasn’t been used since it was custom carved for the first MoonDoggie back in 2017.  And there are very specific conditions to be met prior to its use:

  • White powdery sands [check]
  • Turquoise water [check]
  • Suns overhead without a cloud in the sky (ok, the kit mentions just one sun) [check]
  • Surface water and air temperature holding at or above 80F [check]
  • Shoulder to head-high right point-break [check]
  • Light offshore breeze [check]

I’m using it.

It actually felt good with the suns on my back and my feet buried into the sand as I read through the manual, which had all sorts of crazy vids associated with it, like: paddling, posture, duck-dives, pop-ups, drop-ins, cut-backs, aerials, etiquette, you name it.  This should be a space-walk for me.

Step One: Attach leash.  Running down the beach with a leash around my ankle ( a crazy relic of the past)  was constantly tripping me.  Why they used these things remains a mystery.  I mean, isn’t that why magPads were invented?  

Step Two: Get Stocked.  Reaching the water I shouted out at the top of my lungs, “I’m Stoked!” Whatever that means, but apparently it was a phrase my ancestors had used before hitting the waves. I’m glad no one was around to hear me, but who cares, the only person here, is me.  

Step Three: Enter water.  It felt weird to be in contact with water, and the board shorts that came with the kit look and feel ridiculous on me.

I have followed all the instructions, all the way down to using the sex wax of the deck.  Sex wax?

Seek out and have fun with Nature,’ were the last words written in the kit.  So who is this Nature?

After performing my first successful duck-dive, watching the barrel roll over me, I surfaced and felt the heat of rotors raking me from above.

“Hey wormhole!  Watch it!”

Hovering above me was a girl on a slat wearing full skins and a lens.  

Shit! Where did she come from?

I could tell from the tilt of her head that behind the lens she was giving me a look.  She throttled up, the spray blinding me momentarily.  When I could finally see, it was too late.  I got pummeled by the next wave in the set.

By the time I got out beyond the break, my arms were spent and the girl had already caught the next two sets. So much for virgin break.  I was anxious to catch a wave, but waited patiently just like the kit had instructed me to do. I was to ‘chill’ here for a time, letting the first set roll beneath me, a gift to Nature. This Nature was starting to piss me off.  

Never having ridden an oldie before, the biggest hurdle was perspective.  I was not comfortable being so near the surface, let alone in the surface. How could anyone see what was coming? The kit instructed me to look for a dark blue line on the horizon, indicating an outside set was coming in. Seriously? But there it was, a dark blue line appearing on the outside. I kept paddling until I could see the set rolling in.  I’ll be damned… It was a huge set..  Now I was instructed to sit up on the board–a bit wobbly– and rotate toward the beach.  As the wave neared, I was to grab the tip of the board, lean back and push it down under me, then let it pop back up and forward, giving a nice boost into the wave. Slick. That actually worked and I wondered if I could do the same on my hotMELT? I kept my back arched, like the kit instructed, cupped my hands and stroked alternately until momentum took over.  Dude, that was awesome and I knew the rest would be easy as I popped up and dropped….. in…. on the girl with the slat, knocking her off into the water, the leash around my ankle yanking us up into the wave as the ceiling pitched us over, my ribs hitting down hard on the board. We were in a tangle but I managed to reach down and grab her by the waist then followed the leash to the surface after the wave had passed.  Ah…. that’s where the leash comes in. Smart. She was coughing hard and sucking in air as the next wave closed out on top of us, then once again by the third wave in case we hadn’t received enough punishment from the first two. When I came up, she was floating face down with her lens off but still within reach.  I rolled her up and onto my board, enough so I could peel back her skins and breath air into her. Finally she spit up into my mouth, sucked in and coughed up more water, but by then we were near enough to shore for me to stand. I lifted her over my shoulder, the leash dragging my board onto the beach where I dropped down onto my knees and rolled her out onto the sand.  I made sure she was still breathing before I collapsed onto my back.  My hair was matted over my eyes and my eyes were caked with sand.  I had sand in places I didn’t know sand could get into.  But the worse was hearing and feeling the sand crunching in my teeth, sending electric chills down my spine. If that wasn’t bad enough, that’s when the punches started.

“YOU PLASMA SCUM!” she screamed in rhythm to her punches “ARE YOU MISSING SOME BITS?”

She momentarily stopped and was looking out over the cove for her slat.  WHERE IS IT?  WHERE’S MY SLAT?”

I didn’t have time to answer the first question before more punches followed, punches that I could hardly see coming. If it wasn’t for her state of weakness it could have been a lot worse, but I managed to grab hold of her wrists and keep her still, until she straddled me and drove her knee up into my groin. These board shorts are for shit. Fortunately the pain was so intense my forehead shot up into her temple and that was the last thing I could remember.

We came to around at the same time. She was rubbing the side of her head with her hair and face plastered with sand.  I sat up with my arms propped up in back of me.

“Are you, Nature, by any chance?” I asked.

She gave me a sideways look.  “No you warp…” she replied. “Are you, Stoked?”

View From My Kitchen

END OF DAYS SERIES: View From My Kitchen

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Image by Ann Swanson

They said it would come, that it would start with a sunset of such unbelievable beauty it would bring tears to your eyes.  They were right. It was quiet. Eerily quiet.  No bird chirps or the whine of motorboats speeding across the lake. No one in their back yards, no joyous shrieks of children chasing fireflies, no smell of fire-pits and no sound of car tires rolling down the crushed stone roads, eager to get to their weekend camps.  Everyone was down in their last-minute shelters with not enough supplies to outlast what was about to unfold.

My children, grand children, friends and neighbors begged me to come with them into the town’s shelter.  But why miss the last sunset one would ever see.  Where was there to go?  Nowhere.  It would take ten-thousand years just for the fires to burn out, and the only reason they would extinguish would be due to the absence of oxygen left on Earth.
I know it might seem selfish–that I should spend the end of days surrounded by family and friends–but I just wanted to spend it in my kitchen, overlooking the lake where I can see the memories of my grandchildren out on the dock, their silhouettes with fishing poles matching the paintings in my home .  So here I stand, glass of Chardonnay in hand and raising it to the sky, thankful I was given this sliver of time to see and experience this magnificent world and hoping my next journey will be as spectacular. Cheers.

Author’s Note: This short was inspired by a friend’s profile picture update on Facebook (Ann).  Although my interpretation is a bit dark and not what she intended.  Thanks, Ann….  it is a beautiful image.  Then I thought about building a collection of shorts based upon the End Of Days told through the eyes of the people who wrote them.    Enjoy.

 

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Alien sound coming from Mariana Trench

trenchOriginally reported by The Sun, Researches picked up an alien sound while their hydrophone was over the Mariana Trench.  Although whale like in nature, it does not quite fit the patterns of what researchers already know. To listen to this sound,  Click here.  Initially, they thought it might be a mating call from whales, but they are thrown off by hearing this sound year round.

There was a follow-up piece on Wired,

The mystery of the ‘alien call’ deep in the Mariana Trench is solved

which seems to indicate it is a Baleen Whale…. but the article does end with… “more data needed….. ”

It does make for good Sci-Fi, especially now that I have been working on a treatment called HUM, which is about an alien life-form that was attracted to Earth by its sound.   Yes, yes, I know… sound does not travel through space… but other signals do and who is to say what wavelengths aliens can hear.

November Seed – Wait for it!

November ssed

Day day will look like this

It’s going to happen within the first two weeks in November, Phragmites will release their seeds on a day like this.  Look for blue skies, steel-bottomed clouds, high gusts and it will feel like it could snow.  But don’t be fooled,  they are not the first flurries of the season.  My prediction is November 15th.

November Seed

November Seed

For the first time in years, I will miss this spectacular event in the NE, US, so I need your eyes and camera phones on this one.  When you see them, take pictures and post them here.  Do not get any on you–you now know the consequence.

 

Good luck all  and stay safe…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do Sci-Fi Writers Get Their Ideas? Part II

My guess is that every writer of sci-fi has his or her special picking fields for ideas.  One that I often go to is, ZME Science with their tag line: not exactly rocket science.  I love this site for the richness of articles that cover everything from social to biological to astronomical and every thing between.   There are so many great ideas out on the Internet to seed the mind of a sci-fi writer.

silkworm

Here is an example and one that is quite interesting and quite resourceful on the part of the researchers; why make the machine that spins the thread, when it already exits.   My hat is off to Yingying Zhang and her colleagues at Tsinghua University on this one.

Silkworms spin super silk after eating carbon nanotubes and graphene

 

So it got me thinking.  I will use this concept in one of my works in progress titled, HUM

It’s about a former nuclear physicist who was fired from the Los Alamos Labs and is now on a federal watch list.  He appeases a local barfly by following him to a cave where the barfly claims to have discovered a new species of bat.  But what the barfly has discovered is not from Earth, setting the physicist on a crazy plan to save the planet from a hostile alien invasion, a plan no one is willing to listen to and one that will surely get him killed by the FBI, if he’s lucky….  for dying at the hands of the aliens would be ever lasting.

As hideous as I have already imagined my aliens, adding in the concept that they now have access to new materials has spurred my imagination to make my aliens even more horrifying.

Mylar

END OF DAYS SERIES: Mylar

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Photo by David Nadas

Geri!.. Don’t do that. It will be political suicide and end your career.  It’s not that bad—”

“NOT THAT BAD! Are you kidding me, Dave? You need to pull the plug on this!  We’re talking about the end of days here.  They have no clue what they are about to do… All the data… All the research I’ve conducted points to the fact that this experiment will be a run-away process–”

“Just listen to me, Geri. I’ve read the data and it’s….” he said coming to a halt.

“It’s what… Dave? Inconclusive? Is that what you want to say to me? I can understand these button pushers up here not taking me seriously…” she said with a snort, catching the irony of the situation. “But you Dave! You of all people…” and she stopped, a pointless end to it.

He could hear the sadness in her voice as much as the pain felt in his heart for what he was about to say to her.

“Yes… It’s inconclusive,” he said from the hammock in his backyard. There was silence on his connection to Geri who was orbiting 250 KM above him. His phone was resting along his shoulder as he looked up through the tree branches at the sky, so blue and crisp on this Indian summer day that he never wanted it to end.

“It’s inconclusive because no one has ever lived through the consequences to make the data conclusive. I’m sure this same scenario was played out on Mars eons ago…. There’s your conclusive evidence, Dave. All you need to do is look at Mars. It’s scorched.”

“Geri…. I promise… nothing is going to happen. I know you’re the smartest person on this project and everyone on the team up there has read your report and they feel the same way as I do. Trust us on this. I’m sure some folks on the Trinity Project in ’45, including Oppenheimer himself, must have had some worry in the back of their mind that what they were about to do could end the world. But it didn’t happen. They trusted their research.

“It’s not the same, Dave. They weren’t trying to open a wormhole with a so called controlled singularity.”  He could hear the mock in her voice.  “And it’s my research we’re talking about here!”

“You’re right, Geri. It’s not the same thing, but it is the same level of research and much more. We’re not calculating these models with slide rules; we’re using quantum computers on this, Geri. We’re about to make a gigantic leap for humanity and you will stand among history’s greatest scientists that has ever lived.”

There was more silence between them.

“Geri? You still there?”

“Yes, Dave.”

“Then we’re good on this?”

“Dave…”  she said ignoring his question.

“Yes, Geri.”

“I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me—”

“No need to thank—”

“Just hear me out, Dave,” she was running short on time.  “Don’t talk. I would never have had this opportunity without you in my life. I would never have had the chance for this opportunity had it not been for you on that cold morning, seeing me in the shadows outside, Alley Bakes, as you strolled by with that bag in your hands.” She let out a saddened laugh. “I don’t even know how you picked me out from under that cardboard box…. and now that I look out from the portal of my bay, I can see all of New England below without a cloud in the sky there. I bet you’re out on the hammock, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Good.” she said.

“I look forward to seeing you upon your return,”  and he held up his wrist to see the counter ticking down.  “T minus 1 minute, Geri. How come you’re not with the team?”

“No view there and I wanted to see Perkins Cove for the last time.  Dave, It should be beautiful. You’ll see a bright flash and although you won’t see the X-ray projecta, it will bore a silent hole through the atmosphere creating a brilliant circular rainbow… a halo around a spot of emptiness….  I’ll have been gone by then and you will have about a minute to reflect on the life this world has had. Nothing lasts forever.”

“Geri… come on.. don’t think that way,” he said with a chuckle in his voice. “I thought we were good on this one?”

“Bye Dave.”

“Geri….” but he stopped short when a flash blinded him from above and he turned his head to shield his eyes. When the overload on his retinas began to clear he looked up and could see the partial circular rainbow through the branches and got up from the hammock and moved out into the clearing of his patio along the cove. The sun was low in the sky behind him,  but above, at the center of the rainbow he could make out a black dot. He stood there, looking up until he felt the skin on his arms begin to crawl and the hairs on his forearms were curling into ash and drifting away. His eyes sparkled, but this time like melting Mylar, and everything went dark. His heartbeat was pounding in his chest and he could hear the blood boiling behind his ears as he dropped onto the pavers and pooled there as bird after bird thudded to the ground around him with the sound of flesh and earth sizzling before a shockwave of dark fire swept over.

 

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