Something Better Than Flash Friday…

Yeah, I know. Sh!t happens though, dunnit? But today only, you can read a real author! Read it and miss Omni magazine. Miss it really hard. That is, if you’re old like me.

They’re Made of Meat – Terry Bisson

Either way, you can also enjoy this nearly complete archive of scanned issues of Omni mag.

Marvel at these awesome covers:

I miss Omni magazine                   

Just the right mix of futurism, science fiction, paranormal, and wickedly arty art. The perfect thing to nourish growing nerdlets in the bad old days before the interwebs.

My Other Time Machine is a DeLorean: Doctor Who/Back to the Future Mashups are the Best Thing Ever

I Only Use It for Short Trips

In a move calculated to send Who fans into apocalyptic nerdgasms, the stars of Doctor Who arrived at the New York screening of the seventh season premier in the second most famous time machine – the DeLorean.

Photo Jill Pantozzi; themarysue.com
Photo Jill Pantozzi; themarysue.com

See the full photo set here. OMG, right?

This was totally out of the blue. It’s not as if geeks everywhere were fantasizing about seeing a scene like this, for instance:

via DanoKano’s DeviartArt

Or as if nitpickers ever noticed any similarities between two characters, like this:

via CeeNot’s DeviantArt

Or ever wondered if various sets of time travelers might meet, like this:

from theothermike’s DeviantArt via liveforfilms.com

Squeee! Er, I mean, one hopes the season premier is as good as the publicity above implies. If the writers are half as clever as the marketing people, then we’re in for a real treat this season…

Also this:

Great Pilgrim!

Flash Friday: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something…Crappy?

This is an old bit of something that I used to really like. But now, not so much. I’ve re-purposed it here, but I’m not sure it’s worth saving. It’s meant to be part of a story about forgetting. One of those ‘in the horrible future’ deals where remembering has been hoarded up by a privileged elite. Yeah, it’s as bad as it sounds.

Grassland and Sky - grassland and lush trees photo  1024*768 NO.29 Wallpaper

CHRONOLOGUE

The sky was robin’s egg blue and crystal clear.

It always was.  

Gammage blinked in the bright morning light. The birds must have been singing in the trees that flashed by the car windows, but Gammage couldn’t hear them. The windows were rolled up, and all he could hear was the sound of the engine, the road underneath, his parents laughing in the front seat. Gammage could see his mother’s face, her blond hair tucked behind her ear. The yellow dappled leaf-light crawled over his mother’s face. She turned and smiled at him, but even smiling, his mother looked sad and serious.  

Gammage’s father laughed louder. He couldn’t see his father from the back seat but Gammage imagined him as he always was – eyes crinkled, mouth open in a wide smile. His father was always smiling; nothing much seemed to bother him. 

There must have been a song on the radio, but Gammage couldn’t make it out. There was a sudden calm and quiet in the car, and then the noise and the chaos.  The brakes screeched, the car swerved, and turned over and over and over.  

Then, there was only the terror and the darkness.  

Gammage sat up in bed, eyes wide. He wrapped his arms around himself.  It hadn’t really ended that way; in darkness and silence.  Gammage had not lost consciousness when his parents’ car had rolled, and smashed headlong into a tree. He’d been awake the whole time, his parents dying or dead in the front seat, for two whole days before he was found. He had been three years old.

 * * * * *

When Gammage arrived that morning on the 11th floor, his cube-mate, Darryl, was already there.

Their latest victim had arrived. She stood, not ten feet away, unaware of his presence. She was dressed sensibly in a black pant suit, hems turned up at the ankle, and shoes that looked like something out of the boys formal section at Sears.

She looks almost dapper, Gammage thought, raising an eyebrow.

The blond tips of her hair curled in on the right side of her face, but out on the left side. There was a slight awkwardness in her thin frame that gave him the odd sense he was looking at a teenage boy.

Darryl was chatting her up, but then that was his role here: make her feel comfortable. Make sure she didn’t bolt. Darryl was leaning back in his chair, one hand in his pants pocket, the other waving around his face. He was regaling her with the details of the newly installed lighting system.

“The idea is to pipe in natural light using fibre optics. It’s a hybrid system that uses regular fluorescent bulbs to make up for the times when its cloudy. Or at night of course. There’s a dimmer switch connected to a sensor. When the level of natural light falls below a certain level, the fluorescents ramp up to make up the difference.”

Gammage wasn’t interested. He’d heard all about the lights during their installation.

She ought to bolt, Gammage thought, but Darryl was skilled at what he did, he had been doing it longer than any of them. She stayed uncomfortably put. Gammage wished he could say something intelligent to this lovely skittish specimen, something witty but nothing like that came into his head. So instead he said what he always said.

“Excuse me, er. Hi. I’m Gammage.”

She turned and held out her hand to him.

“Nice to meet you Mr. Gammage, I’m Angelike Jones.”

“Ms. Jones, Welcome to the Ministry of Chronology. You’re a civil servant now.”

Rule 63 is the Best Thing Ever

Maybe it’s just me, but I get a huge kick out of seeing my favourite fictional characters get Rule 63’d. And the Doctor always inspires fan speculation about whether or not his next iteration will be female (see, for example, this April Fool’s Day post at Doctor Who TV). So the two things are a natural match.

Marvel at this awesome Doctor Who Rule 63 offering from the Nadiezda Tumblr:

 

Nine, Ten, and Eleven all translated seamlessly to the opposite gender. It’s great work.

And check out this awesome Rule 63 image of every single Doctor from artist Gladys at Rocket Surgery (via Know Your Meme):

https://i2.wp.com/i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/374/557/005.jpg

I think Four and Eleven work really well here. Nine, not so much. I like Nine. 😉

What do you think? I think it’s the Best Thing Ever.

Flash Friday Original Fiction: It’s Happening Again…

It’s been a long week. Isn’t it always? So here it is, a steaming pile of words fresh from my, uh, brain. Yeah. That’s it. Sure. 

It’s 3:57 a.m.

I’m in bed, propped up on my elbows; heart beating like it’s trying to hammer its way out of my chest. It’s them. Again.  The paralysis, the light, the creepy little people – a classic alien abduction. I don’t believe it’s real, it can’t be real, but that doesn’t stop it happening. And it doesn’t stop it from being absolutely terrifying.

The hallway light comes on and makes an uneven rectangle under the door. There’s a soft knock.

“Everything OK in there?”

I’ve been screaming, then. Again.

I inhale and then hold my breath for the count of six.

“It’s good Lefty. I’m alright.”

She half sighs, half exhales with relief. “Dad. I wish you’d stop calling me that. I’m not a baby.”

I get up and put on a t-shirt. “Sorry, Lexandria.”

I open the door. Lefty is already as tall as her mother was, is I guess. Her mother got tired of the screaming, the inexplicable fear and walked out one day. Never came back. Unlike her mother, Lefty has a ring in the middle of her bottom lip. Her hair is shaved up one side and flipped over so that you can only see one eye. But she’s a good kid. And she knows about the dreams. I call them dreams, insist that they are dreams. But deep down, I’m not sure.

“It happened again,” she says. It’s not a question.

“I think I may be up for a while. I’m going to get a sandwich.” I say.

Lefty follows me down to the kitchen. I hear faint beeps behind me as she composes a text message. Who in the world is she texting at this hour? She sits at the table while I get out bread and cheese, and putter with my sandwich: it’s more to keep my hands busy than anything else. Then I sit across from her and run my hands through my hair.

Lefty glances up, and giggles.

“You have crazy bed hair,” she says. “Don’t make it worse.”

I watch Lefty texting. She finishes and looks up. “I have an idea,” she says.

“Uh-huh,” I say through my sandwich.

“You know how you can use your phone to see where I am? It works as long as I keep my phone turned on right? Well, I was thinking…” Lefty stops and pushes her hair off her face so I can see both eyes.

“Well, why not keep your phone with you, you know, at night? Then if it was really happening, if it isn’t dreams, then you’d disappear off the map. You know, like in Harry Potter? We’d know you were gone. For sure.”

She looks down and picks at her nail polish. I stop chewing, and hold my sandwich in midair. I realize I may have the smartest daughter in the entire world.

Every Tuesday Needs Some Retro Futurism…

I’ve always been a sucker for retro futurism. You know: flying cars, raygun gothic architecture (the kind featured in Futurama, and Disney’s Meet the Robinsons), shiny robots. Who doesn’t love that? I clicked over to Retropolis to check out their selection of retro-futuristic wares. The “Tell it to my Giant Robot” T-shirt has been on my wish list for a long time.

Detailed Image

Apparently it’s been longer than I thought! A lot longer. Not only is there a shop full of T-shirts, art prints and posters, but also lavishly illustrated, interactive, steampunk-y stories! Very cool! They are like high-rent Choose Your Own Adventures for the devoted retronaut. Definitely worth an afternoon when you’re supposed to be finishing those reports. Go check them out here: Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

They also have customizable business cards! You know you want to hand these out:

Monorail Business Card

Sweet huh? Go spend an afternoon in Retropolis. You sooo won’t regret it. It’s the best thing ever.!

 

Chronologue: Original Short Fiction

Yeah, I know I’m bent. Enjoy:

Chronologue

Students straggled into the lecture hall. The space was a bit cramped considering the size of the class, and the walls were generously scuffed around the bottom. There was a window high up at the back of the room that never seemed to let in more than a perfunctory amount of light. Professor Zeno opened his lecture notes. He usually did not need to look at them, but he kept them there just in case. He cleared his throat and began:

“I’d like to remind you all that your essays on Chronological Ethics are due today, and to please leave them on the front table on your way out.

“To recap last week’s lecture, we experience time in one direction only, in a steadily moving present, fresh from a fixed past and into an uncertain future. This is generally taken as representing reality, but it’s not clear that this perception is true in any sense. However, since we humans cannot experience the dimension of time in any other direction, it is pragmatic to take our perception and run with it. Especially when logging your field hours in a non-native time location.

“If you consult your syllabus you’ll see that today’s topic is Determining Your Time Location. While state-of-the-art time travel is often accurate within a decade or two of the target time location, locating oneself in history can be more difficult than it would appear. A good Chronologue can assess a time location in under 5 minutes experienced time.

“As a novice Chronologue, your main concern on the ground is orienting yourself in the time stream, in relation to your point of origin. If you are on solid ground and not inside the sun, nor floating in space where the Earth might have been if you’d arrived three months ago, then the space aspect has taken care of itself. So-called ‘prehistory’ is a popular destination but orienting yourself against long homogeneous stretches of slow time presents its own special set of problems which are better addressed in a separate lecture.”

Professor Zeno looked around the spacious lecture hall. Students listened half-heartedly, or pretended to take notes while covertly playing solitaire on their tablets. He sighed, and wondered when this institution had become little more than a degree factory, handing out credentials to any warm body whose cheque cleared. He pushed on though, there was always one student who cared about the subject as much as he did, and that one student made it worth showing up each day.

“The obvious solution is to ask someone what year it is. But there are a handful of decades and locations where this enquiry would get you arrested, or interred in a sanatorium, while failing to elicit an answer. We have learned through painful experience that this is the method of last resort for an unprepared Chronologue.

“It is always best to research your era of choice thoroughly before engaging with direct contact. You will have a good sense of the sensory clues you’ll need to orient yourself properly. It will also allow you to select a suit of clothes that is nicely inconspicuous. It is vitally important that you don’t interfere with the progression of history, or pollute the timeline with anachronisms. You are there to observe and record, not interfere. Let me reiterate that any interference, even if you think it is trivial, can disrupt the time stream. What we think of as the present could be irreparably altered.”

Professor Zeno spoke quietly in the windowless basement room. The handful of students listened intently, trying to memorise every word: they didn’t dare take notes.

“So again, orienting yourself in time. In the early 2010s, as an example, the presence of abundant plastic gives you a window of about one hundred years. Plastics became prevalent in the early 1900s and fell out of regular use by 2020 as petroleum reserves dwindled. Presence of wristwatches puts you no earlier than the 1920’s, a digital watch makes it no earlier than 1970 and no later than 2015 when most people switched back to analogue watches or to handheld devices, which only incidentally told the time.”

Professor Zeno tucked her hair behind her ear and addressed her open-air seminar. It was a beautiful spring day, and the fresh air kept the mind sharp.  

“What are some other sensory clues that would help you assess your time location?”

The students raised their hands and called out their answers as she pointed to each one in turn.

“Presence of motorised vehicles?”

“Seeing animals with a known extinction date?”

“Zippers?”

“The main language, and the variety of it?”

“Visible religious symbols?”

“Favoured companion animals? If any?”

Professor Zeno put his hands together, smiled, and nodded. The tiny seminar room was comfortably full. Thousands more students watched at home.

“Yes. All possible clues. For your assignment this week I want you to think about the time location that you have chosen for your final project. I hope you’ve all picked one by now. Then I want you to research that period and present the sensory cues you would use to assess your location. Start with broad clues, that place you by century, and work to items or customs that would place you by decade or by year, if possible.”

The empty room was lit by a makeshift candle – just a wick set in a tin can of rendered pig fat. Zeno finished writing and closed his notebook. He hoped that one day, someone might read it.