Tag Archives: science fiction

Natural Selection

“Desdemona is a dangerous planet,” the guide called out to the group, “but only if you don’t respect her ways.”

James rolled his eyes. He hadn’t wanted to come to Desdemona, but human-friendly habitable planets were few and far between, especially now that Sol was trending toward red giant these days.

“Most of what lies beyond the energy barrier could kill a person in a blink,” the guide continued. “This bit of safe haven you’re standing in has been carved out with a lot of sweat, blood, and tears.”

And that was when James spotted the maintenance hatch down the path a little way. Making sure no one was watching, he nonchalantly walked away from the group — they were all distracted, anyway — and opened the hatch, using the adjoining service tunnels to get out beyond the barrier.

Sometime later, James finally stepped into the open air and took a deep breath — and a razor-sharp leaf spiraling from a nearby tree sliced cleanly through his skull.

Desdemona was not kind to invading, incautious species.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

So Long, Jack

It was a small memorial, only two to witness the laying of the casket into the ground.

“So long, Jack. We hardly knew you,” one said.

The other quirked up an eyebrow. “That’s it?” he asked. There was a note of amused incredulity in his voice.

“What’d you expect?” A ghost of a smile. “This is, what, the eighth time we’ve buried you now?”

A nod. “At least.”

“Does it ever get old?”

Jack shrugged and pushed his hands down into his pockets. “Hasn’t yet. I’m good for at least another half dozen deaths, I think. There hasn’t been any detectable signal degradation yet.”

“Well, that’s debatable.” The first man sounded sullen now.

“Oh, c’mon, Charles. This project was as much your idea as mine. You don’t get the right to be grumpy about it.”

“I’m not. I just—” Charles broke off, leaving the thought unfinished. A pause. “Do you remember what it feels like each time? Y’know, after?”

Jack grimaced. “Every bloody detail. I’m thinking I’ll go for something less violent next time.”

“Fine. I’ll arrange it.”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The LXD

The LXD. The League of Extraordinary Dancers. At first glance it sounds like it might be pretty corny, right? Wrong. This is an amazing and ambitious new webseries that puts a wholly new spin on the superhero genre where the power of dance can be used for great good, horrendous evil, or anything in between. If you love comic books, science fiction, dance, or any combination thereof — or even if you don’t — you should definitely check this series out. It’s a fabulous and artistic series, and the first three episodes of season one are now available on Hulu for American viewers and iTunes with new episodes being released every Wednesday. The filming is fantastic, and the music is spot-on perfect. You can’t help but be drawn into this story, and it always leaves you eager for more. Check out the trailer below for a taste of what The LXD is all about.

[via io9]

No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Guilty

No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Guilty. This is… unfortunate. For what it’s worth, I tend to side with Dr. Watts. I’ve always had a problem with the customs process for crossing between the US and Canada. It’s been my experience that the guards there tend to be somewhat over-reactive about relative trivialities, so the fact that this event happened to Dr. Watts comes as no surprise. There is certainly shortage of horror stories from people who have found themselves handled somewhat indelicately by customs officials.

What I find disturbing is the trivial detail from Watts’ trial that resulted in his conviction — that, apparently, asking ‘Why’ is enough to garner a felony judgment.

The whole situation seems unfortunate, as by all accounts, Dr. Watts is pretty stand-up guy. Here’s hoping the judge passes a suspended sentence in April.

Mesmerized

The bag of chips was all but empty, just a few crumbs left in the bottom. He shook the bag, bouncing it in his hand, so that the niblets would fall together in the corner. There were so few left – and he wasn’t one to waste anything – so he tilted the bag to look inside to see just how much of his snack remained. The chips in the bottom reflected off the bag’s silver interior, and he was torn between the decision to pinch out what was left with his fingers or to simply tip the bag back and dump the crumbs straight into his mouth. A seemingly simple decision, yet he felt his mind stutter, then freeze up as solidly as two pieces of metal welded together.

And there he remained.

* * *

The two programmers observed their immobile subject on the monitor.

“Brilliant bit of programming there, Bud. How exactly did you induce that response?” Thom asked.

Bud chuckled. “It was pretty simple, actually. The silver lining in the chip bag contains several thousand lines of scrolling code – invisible to the naked eye, of course,” he said with a wink. “The program running inside the bag forced our subject into a state of indecision, then compounded the response, effectively throwing his brain into an infinite loop. The program essentially prevents him from action because the decision-making process never ends.” He glanced at the monitor again. “By now the program’s subroutines have copied over to his brain and should be running all on their own there.”

Thom nodded and asked the next logical question. “So. How do we get him unstuck?”

There was no response from Bud. Thom looked at him and saw that his face had paled and his eyes were wide with shock. Thom felt his gut clench in a combination of panic and fear as he looked at the monitor again. The horrible truth of what they had done came to him suddenly.

There was no way to end the program because the program had no ‘kill’ command – let alone a way to execute it – and no way to ‘reboot’ the subject. Neither of them had thought of that when they started alpha testing their project.

Thom said the only thing that he could.

“Oh.”

Originally posted at 365 Tomorrows.

Dragonfly

//BEGIN TRANSMISSION
SEARCH ‘DRAGONFLY’
AGGREGATION BEGINS IN 3… 2… 1…
ACCESSING NEWSNET
COLLATING FEEDS

NeuroSoft Corp Releases New Gaming Console
New Chicago, Robaxian (AIP) – Interplanetary neuroware giant NeuroSoft Corp announced earlier today the release of their newest gaming console, dubbed the Dragonfly Entertainment System.  The Dragonfly features state-of-the-art hardware, allowing it to achieve unprecedented graphic display and processing speeds.

“We’re very excited about Dragonfly,” stated Mark Bradley, founder and CEO of NeuroSoft, in his announcement to the Twelve Worlds earlier today.  “This console is going to revolutionize the way people play games.”

The Dragonfly is the smallest gaming console to date.  Measuring less than 1cm across and just 3mm thick, it is easily the most compact gaming entertainment system ever built.  But perhaps what makes the Dragonfly so special is its ability to plug directly into NeuroSoft’s standard neural wetware modules.  Simply slide the console into the wetware port, and a whole world of gaming opens up to the user.

Dragonfly designer and project chair Michael Pickerell tells what his favorite feature of the revolutionary gaming system is.  “Try the full-screen mode.  But make sure you’re sitting down first.  Most optical displays these days use only one corner of the visual output field, and even that has a minimum level of opacity.  Can’t have people bumping into each other or smashing their gliders just because they can’t see, right?  Well, Dragonfly was designed to provide a total immersion experience for the gamer.  You can option for the full-screen at a zero percent opacity and experience the game the way it was meant to be.  It’s just like actually being there.”

Already NeuroSoft has seen huge success in their sales…

BrainWaves Podcast
Episode 413
”…scare in the gaming world.  Today, in City Heights, Paradigm, professional gamer Darian Rice collapsed during an MLG tournament…”

UNN News Ticker
NEURAL SOFTWARE GIANT NEUROSOFT FORCED BY NMHA TO RECALL ALL DRAGONFLY GAMING CONSOLE UNITS PENDING AN INVESTIGATION

Channel 9 News
“If you play video games on the Dragonfly Entertainment System, the latest in gaming technology from NeuroSoft Corp, you just may be taking your life in your own hands.  What started as an interplanetary phenomenon has turned into an addictive and potentially lethal pastime.  Medical reports issued by the Neurological & Mental Health Agency describe frightening side effects from prolonged use of the gaming console, including serious addiction and, in many cases, death…”

TWBS Special Report
Interview with neuropsychology expert Professor Doug Addams, Ph.D.
”…what seems to be happening is that the player often experiences high levels of stress as his character takes damage.  In some cases, the player’s mind is no longer able to make a distinction between fantasy and reality.  It thinks that the player’s body is actually dead or dying and starts shutting down vital systems.  Either that or the player experiences so much anxiety that he has a heart attack…”

UNN News Ticker
NEUROSOFT EXPERIENCED FURTHER FINANCIAL HARDSHIP IN THE STOCK MARKET TODAY AS STOCK VALUES PLUMMETED FURTHER…

Live News Conference – Pandemon, Darkfall
“We’re very pleased about the merger of the two companies.  I think NeuroSoft had the right idea with Dragonfly, but unfortunately insufficient testing and court settlements were enough to bring the company to a hard place.  We’re only all too happy to step in and help out.  NeuroSoft’s mission to provide only the best neuroware to every city in the system has not died here.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  If anything, its mission has been reborn today, and we will continue to provide only the best and state-of-the-art neuro- and wetware possible.  That’s Microsoft’s pledge.”

//END TRANSMISSION

Originally posted at Flashes of Speculation.

7th Son Concluded

I finished up listening to 7th Son this morning on my way to work, and it was a little like what I imagine it must feel like to come down off a high. Three novels’ worth of hard-hitting, gut-wrenching action ends with a bittersweet goodbye to our heroes and a feeling of loss that says, _Oh, great. What am I supposed to listen to_ now_?_ I just wanted to keep on listening, to stay with these characters that I’ve come to love so well. J.C. has certainly done a fabulous job of weaving his tale of science fiction, horror, and intrigue, and I hope that he is successful in getting the trilogy into print. I know I’ll have a copy of the set on my bookshelf as soon as he does.

And the man is just sick in the way he doesn’t let up on you. Even in the final chapter, he doesn’t let you find complete resolution. It’s close, but not close enough. And the epilogue, of course, just leaves the lid off of _that_ can of worms ever so slightly. Leaving your foot in the door for a possible follow-up are we, J.C.? Hm? Man, that _would_ be a joyride of undoubtedly epic proportions.

If you haven’t checked out _7th Son_, then you’re missing out. Go click on the link above and start downloading and listening. Or grab J.C.’s iTunes feed from his website and pull it directly into your iPod. It’s good stuff – just like shooting up on heroin. (I’m guessing…)

Book Reviews for an Alien

“Check it out”:http://www.apexdigest.com/Online/review071203.shtml – my first set of book reviews for someone other than myself. Awhile back, Jason Sizemore, the editor-in-chief of “Apex Digest”:http://www.apexdigest.com put out a call for a part-time book reviewer. I responded, gave him some past samples of a couple of books reviews I’ve done here, and then he shipped a book to me. It scored a bonus because it was actually one of those two-books-in-one deals. The results of that can now be seen at the link above. Hopefully, this will work out well on a monthly basis. I enjoyed reading the books and writing the reviews, so I’m looking forward to doing more of them in the near future.