Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Extra Short Story: Over there; there.

When you live in the shadow of the tallest trees for hundreds of miles, your lives become something of a sideshow these days.

“What’s it like seeing real live trees all day?”

“Is that your tree house?  Can I climb up there?”

“Are you a Druid?  Are you related to one of them? “

“Is it true you dance naked among the trees to celebrate the seasons?”

Day-in, day-out people come to gawk at the century trees and wonder aloud about how they got so big when the rest of the trees have been left stunted brush by comparison.

Calling them Century Trees at all is a bit of a stretch too; as the druids seem to be able to grow massive 200 foot tall apple trees in what seems like less than a decade.  Green thumbs, toes and everything in-between it seems when it comes to the Tree-Folk, which is what they call themselves.  They live around the trees, sometimes in tree houses up in the canopy, sometimes in the trunks but mostly in little adobe huts on the south faces of the trees, attached to the outside of the trunk and slowly rising up, up up as the tree does.

The tourists come into town (Gramercy, thank-you very much, not Apple-Town)  and gawk at the trees to the west and marvel at the nearly constant humidity and the way that the rain has become so predictable in the shadows of the Grove.  They come, stop a while in town, spend a night or two in the hotels or camp in the north wood near the river and then leave; back to normal forests and unpredictable rain; back out over there.

Gramercy was here before the Grove and before the Tree Folk moved in.   We got by as a highway/biway a food stop with curios for people on long road trips going from important place to important place.  It was flat and dry and future-less here.  A town populated by people perpetually leaving or settling in to die.  We had one public school servicing Kindergarten through Grade 12 and then the kids would leave for college and leave the town a little more quiet than it had been.  The closest thing to modernization that the town council had ever implemented was a municipal sewer system to bring indoor plumbing to the sleepy village of 110.

When the first Tree Folk arrived about 40 years back; they were just passing through like anyone else.  The Sheriff at the time thought they were hippies or something and hassled them out of town; but some lingered and bought up the dusty scrub land west of town with what seemed like an endless supply of cash.  This pleased the town council at the time; because the land had been “town land” for as long as anyone could remember and it was good for nothing but rabbit hunting and atv rides in the dust.  The Tree Folk set about building their grove as soon as the ink was dry on the deal and within 20 years something like 30 Century Trees stood west of Gramercy and even in their shadow the whole of the area was green.

The Tree Folk mostly keep to themselves; tending their grove and trading massive fruit for what they need.  They all kind of dress the same, the men wearing tight crew cut hairdos and the women smart bobs.  They all have a healthy glow about them and arms like chimps, from climbing and tending their trees.  The Tree Folk kids attend one of three Public Schools in the area; with Gramercy now boasting a population of 10,000 most of the year and a few (not many) chain hotels and restaurants calling the area a new tourist hot spot.  A wholesome Las Vegas or something.   Their kids rub elbows with the rest of us and then go home to the Grove at night; nestled in their adobe houses on the sides of massive apple trees.

About 35 years back; as the grove started to grow there was a huge hoopla about the water table and how much water all this Green was costing us.  The Tree Folk’s leader at the time, Paul, he just smiled at the question and produced a sheaf of paper showing the water levels for 100 miles around over the past 10 years, showing an actual increase in the water table in the local area.

“The Trees, ” he said, still smiling that beatific smile they all seemed to flash when talking to folks from Gramercy, “The trees don’t take water, they make it.  They convert Oxygen and Hydrogen into water on their own and then the excess leeches down their roots into the water table below.   The trees make their own food and then share the bounty with us”

Some bigwig from the EPA showed up a while later and after some harrumphing and more official visits from the CDC the Tree Folk were given leave to do what they would with the Land; with the only consideration to the government being lights affixed at the top of the trees to ensure they would not be a hazard to air travel.  Paul had smiled a little smile at that, whispered something to one of his followers who nodded and wandered on foot back to the grove.  Weeks later the canopy of the trees glowed a soft blue at night, like the massive leaves had stars weaved into them.  When asked about it Paul would only say “We asked the lightening bugs how they did it then shared it with the trees”

Years later; when the third public school opened and the latest organic plastics plant went into operation (supplied via the skins left from a pulping mill down the way) the Tree Folk became a national treasure; something to read about in books and learn about on educational specials.  Like the Amish of Pennsylvania, the Tree Folk of Montana were just another reclusive farming folk; building their land of Milk and Honey and finding Utopia among the leaves.  And Gramercy, we’re along for the ride, living here in the Shadows of the CEntury Trees and always ready with an answer to “Do you know any Druids?  Did you see them dancing naked at Springtime?”

Review: Zombie Frank Herbert might do a better job

Anyone who has read a review on my site before will be familiar with my “Stars” rating system; I will forgo this system initially to provide for you a reaction shot of me; while I read this:

oh-god-its-looking-at-us

This may look like I might have been enjoying myself; but you are reading my expression incorrectly.  I am about to poke my eyes out with “The Horns”.  This was to prevent the blood that gathered behind them from exploding from my sockets in a hematic squirt.

Paul of Dune

Frank Herbert’s son attempts to fill in some of the Plot of Dune, with predictably hilarious results.

Did I say Hilarious? I meant unreadable.

My rating: 0.5 stars
1/2

It took me months to trod through this drek.  I’m not a fan of Space Opera at all; this book simply cements my poor opinion of the Genre.  Thanks to Mini Book Expo for the chance to read this one; I will forgo resiting my instincts on these books in the future, Scion of Herbert be DAMNED!

Short Story: Lights Out Part 9

The building shaddered in time with the sounds that woke the sleeping people huddled throughout the Feldex building.  Thumping and bass-rich blows pounded the whole structure.  When the people in the shaken offices looked outside, they could see buildings collapsing around them.  Skyscrapers that had dominated the skyline were falling all around the Feldex building, scorched buildings gave up their skeletons and fell upon the streets.  Dust and debris flowed through the streets now like angry crowds, blanketing them in brown, choking demise.

Janice had found Frank overnight; he was curled up in an empty office and had slept through the horrifying night.  The corpses on the balcony had given up slamming themselves into the windows and doors and simply dived off of the edge of the building into the waiting streets.

The office was quiet now save for the noise of the Office buildings of Saint Paul dying as surely has the people that had occupied them had.

Security Chief Mike Pendegras came on to the PA:

“Ladies and Gentlemen; this is the security Chief.  Our building is in no danger of falling.  We have not suffered the damage that the fallen buildings have.  We are intact and remain secure.  We caution you again to remain in your offices and to report any activity that seems threatening or dangerous.”

After he clicked off the PA, Mike Pendegrass exhaled and tried to slump into his chair.  His teams had swepth the building for any more “Zombies” and locked the main staircase tight.  Nothing from the 25th floor or above was going to come down that way again; no one would be going up again either.

Chief Pendegras had received a call from his dead father overnight; he had thought it was a dream at first; but some of his team had received calls from their relatives too.  Chief Pendegras wasn’t one to accept the supernatural; but his faith in the solidity of his convictions had been sorely tempted.

“Chief!, Chief!  There is an APC outside of the building!” it was one of the new kids up on 13.  “Chief, do you get me?”

“I get ya kid, where is it? Over”

“Chief, it’s right outside the front entrance, it’s got a scoop up front like a bulldozer, it pushed through like a snow plow!  Chief, there is a sign painted on the top: 555-573-7878”

The Chief recognized a cell-phone number when he heard one; “OKay kid.  Keep an eye on it. Chief out”

Chief Pendegrass picked up his cell phone and dialed the number:

“Hello, Disaster recovery.  Were are you calling from?”

“This is Security Chief Mike Pendegras.  Before I tell you where I am; tell me who you are.”

“Sir, I am a coordinator from a former Fema Unit stationed in Saint Paul.  I am tasked with coordinating the APCs we have on hand to retrieve survivors and send them back through to Earth”

“So, the scientist on the phones was real?”

“Yes sir.  Where are you?”

“I’m not sure about all of this; some strange shit is going down here Ma’am.  Can you have the APC’s around the city flash some kind of friendly si..”

Outside the building, Mike Pendegras heard the thunder of a belt-fed machine gun firing.

“Chief! The soldiers in the APC, they are shooting at people in the street!  Holy Shit!  The people, they are getting back up and running at the APC!  FUCK!  The soldier on the tank blew their heads off.”

“OKay Kid, I got you.  Over”

“Listen Fema Lady.  What is going on here?”

“I thought that the communication last night was clear.  We are on an extrasolar planet and we are sending people home as fast as we can.”

“My phone was OFF when that call came in”

“Sir, If I may be frank. If you don’t think we have the technology to turn phones on remotely, you haven’t been watching enough movies.  Let me be clear, a scientist teleported a  massive section of Saint Paul to another planet, turning on cell phones remotely is within our scope”

“Fair enough Ma’am.  How, precisely do we decide who goes back in that APC outside?”

“You have an APC nearby?  Excellent!  What number is it”

“Kid, 13.  What number is on that APC?”

“NG-101, sir”

“Ma’am, the APC outside is labelled NG-101”

“Thank-you Mr. Pendegrass, please send out 10 people to meet the APC and be transported to our holding facility.  We will send a bus out for the rest as soon as we have up-armored enough of them for the trip.  Send only the people who could defend themselves in a fight sir, they may need to leave the APC and proceed on foot.”

“I’ll send some people out in 30 minutes”

“Thank-you Mr. Pendegrass.  Wil you be joining them?”

“No Ma’am, I’ll ride security until we have this building empty.”

“Alright Sir, please keep in mind that we are not sure how long we can keep sending people home”

Mike Pendegrass thought about this for a while before responding.

“You keep the door open; we’ll get people home and I’ll get home in time to complain to your superior about your flippant attitude during a crisis”

Chief Pendegras could feel the woman on the end of the line smile.

“It’s a date sir”

Chief Pendegrass flipped his phone closed and turned on the PA.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I need 10 volunteers who have either combat experience or combat training.  Make your presence known to the security team on your floor and we will escort your to the main lobby.  Thank-you for your cooperation”

Almost instantaneously, his radio lit up “Chief, what the fuck? Are we recruiting deputies?”

“Guys, this is the chief.  We are recruiting some people to run Pony Express, escort people to the main lobby and then return to your posts.  We’re going to round up ten people to make a run to the Fema center and head for home; if they make it, we’ll send more.  The rest WILL be deputized.”

A chorus of, ‘okay chief, got it’ sounded back.  Chief Pendegrass was left to think about the voice on his phone and the prospect of leaving on the APC outside.

Review: "Bloody Crazy" does not rhyme with Satan

Blood Crazy

Nick Aten ambles over the bloody remains of a boy evicerated by his own mother to eat a burger and shoot the shit with a friend. The next day his younger brother is dead and the adults have taken up the hobby of killing everyone under the age of 20, all adults everywhere. Now Nick has to get away from it all and slip his parents as they hunt him across england.

Blood Crazy is a recounting by Nick Aten of the year that Adult humanity stopped caring for the youth and instead began turning the bodies of the young into massive necropolises and temples of death across the countryside.

Anywhere there were young people, the adults would gather and destroy them.

Nick spends a whole year on the run from place to place; finding his way from callow youth to something else.

Simon Clark does a fantastic job of making the story fast paced enough to keep you reading and 300 pages in I realized I’d read the majority of it in one go. Bravo I strongly recommend Blood Crazy!

My rating: 4.5 stars
****1/2

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I read this one quickly, I usally only read in small drips and have spent MONTHS not reading a DUNE novel, but I gave this book a minute while I was in disposed and could not stop reading it.  It’s not high literature; and once again we have a post-apocalyptic hero that can’t walk 20 yards without tripping over yet anothere willing woman who needs him to make love to her and plant his seed.  I wish that I was exaggerating this point.

The “cause” of the adults going crazy is explained; it’s a bit weak.  I don’t think it detracts from the book at all, but the explaination is weak.

This book does the oppostite of “Graceling” when it comes to travel, the travel portions are either mad dashes from blood-crazed adults or treks across wastelands that are leading urgently to somewhere; not detracting from the pace or the action.  It was a relief when a character found a safe place to sleep;  I cared that they got to sleep comfortably.

Nick Aten; the main character is somewhat stereotypical lead character.  He’s smart, but not an intellectual, strong, but not too tough.  Cocky but not cock-sure… I could go on.  He’s not so generic as to be an everyman, but he’s no stand-out.

The “Bully” character which serves as the human plot point for most of the story has a back story that I think that Simon Clark almost maliciously leaves off, going so far as to cut the character off when he attempts to vocalize his perceived injustice with Nick.   I was most frustrted with this; Tug Slatter is a bully and a thug, but he is certainly more than that and we are NOT given more than a glance at whatever motivates him and his misanthropy.

All in all; I will recommend this one to fans of Post-Apocalyptic survival novels.  It was a good quick read and worth picking up.

Quick Story: Bobo and the Newspapers

Bobo the Chimp having previously gained his freedom from the Brentwood Academy; set about learning all he could about the human world beyond his gated and caged world.  Previous to his escape; he had lived on what he learned from errant radio and newspapers.  He had come to believe that the human world was filled with dangers and worrisome crowds of monsters who would prey upon him, (morese because he chose to disguise himself as a child).

The Real world proved to be just as worrisome; but not as horrifying as the newspapers had made it seem.  Bebo noted that the Humans seemed to rush through their days, going back and forth from place to place in seemingly endless circles.  He gripped the Omega Nugget tight in his paw when he wandered the late night streets; willing the people that passed him to simply ignore his hairy arms; especially when he couldn’t get shaved.  Remarkably; most people simply ignored him or thought him afflicted with some terrible condition.  Those in the latter group were to two types; one would see him and make a concious effort to avoid contact and the others would approach and engage him.  Bobo found the latter more troublesome as he had not mastered Human speech and would have to gesture to them to leave him alone.

One late summer evening; after a long subway ride and a visit to the park, Bobo found himself wandering the streets near a series of Bars and Clubs; it was too early for the normal crowds and Bobo always gravitated to the more “empty” parts of town when he could.  It made avoiding people easier and he could be sure to avoid any unwanted trouble from rowdy children and criminals.  Bobo was lost in thought when he was approached by an old lady, dressed in a pink overcoat and wearing a similarily color cake shaped hat.

“‘ere, yoo look like wun ‘a them monkies, yoo doo!” she cackled and pointed at Bobo, “innit, it’s a monkey!  ‘ere Mavis.  Look at this ‘ere monkey!  Ooos a handsome lad then?”  She cooed to Bobo and crooked a finger to call him to her.   “Awww, c’mere and give us a kiss you little fellar.  I likes Monkeys, yoo looks like a fine feller.”

Bobo had dealt with drunken ladies before; he bared his teeth at her and gave a low keening squeal between them, as if hurt.  The lady and her friend recoiled from Bobo and stopped their coaxing.  Bobo snorted and waddled past them, shrinking his head into his jacket and pulling his scarf up over his mouth.

The ladies watched him go, not sure what they had just seen.  They were both sure that they had been speaking to a hairy kid; but now they weren’t sure.  When they sobered up they would both swear that they had seen a monkey wearing clothes and walking in the entertainment district, but being well known-drunks their story wouldn’t be well-regarded.

Bobo; for his part had learned to avoid people who had been drinking heavily and kept his walks to the late evening and early mornings.

Quick Story: Bobo and the Omega Nugget

When the omega nugget fell into the chimp enclosure at Brentwood Academy, the chimps all gathered around it and began to poke at it’s shiny coating.  Some of the chimps wanted to push it out of the enclosure, better to leave it to the humans.  Some of the chimps wanted to put it into the water moat at the south end of the enclosure and drown it.  One of the chimps, Bobo; wanted it for himself.  So he snatched it up and secreted it with his private stash of fruits and random implements that fell into the Chimps’ cage during the day.

Bobo studied the Nugget at every chance he could, he fingered it’s designs and tried to puzzle out what it was for.  It was small, metal and yellow.  It had scribbled words all over it; like a human tool, but it wasn’t designed for hands like theirs were.  It was just a lump of metal with words on it; but it hummed and pulsed like it was alive when you held it just so.

The other chimps lost interest in it until they go near it; Bobo noticed that when he held it he could read the signs around the cages and understood the Humans when they spoke (more than he could when he wasn’t near the chunk.  He even grew to realize that he had put it with his secret food stash so that he wouldn’t forget about it when he wasn’t near it, like the other chimps.

Day by day, Bobo became more and more aware of himself.  He began to try to imitate the speech of the humans that visited the Brentwood Academy and make himelf understood.  He never let the humans see the Nugget, it was for him alone.  He’d gesture at the children and they would whoop and clap when he would gutter “Hey you!  Throw me a bit of fruit and I’ll dance for you!”

The guards and keepers started to take an interest in Bobo and so Bobo decided that he would only perform when there were kids around and alone; so that the keepers wouldn’t take him out of the enclosure.  He felt sure that when he left the enclosure, it would have to be on his own terms.

The Nugget had been subtly chaning too; it started to look a bit like a rough outline of a brain, with a band around it.  Bebo didn’t know that this was a brain though, just that it changed.

The other chimps came to shun Bebo, as he was just “different” now.  They would share his food though, but then shy away or openly attack him if there was no food around.  Bebo came to realize that if they Keepers saw him being unsocial, they would take him away from the Nugget.

One day, Bebo decided that it was time to leave the enclosure, and using a but of sharp metal he hid himself in the back of the enclosure, away from the eyes of the humans, he shaved himself bald and using some clothes dsiguised himself as a lanky child.  Hiding the nugget in his pocket, Bobo leaped from the enclsoure close to closing time and hid amongst a crowd as they left.

The papers were filled with stories of the performing Ape who had been stolen from the Brentwood Academy; but Bebo was never seen at the Academy Again again.