Tag Archives: Science Fiction

May the fourth be with you, and also with you

Happy Star Wars day everyone!


Image Source: Total Hangout

Now I am decidedly a Trekkie in the whole Trek versus Wars debate (and yes I meant to say Trekkie not Trekker which is a whole other debate). Actually I’m more of a B5’er or whatever you call people who love J. Michael Strazcinski’s 5 year epic that should have been subtitled “The Rise and Fall of Londo Molari”. But I think all of us nerds can agree we really love both. Wars and Trek appeal to different parts of our brain, and even though there have been times I’ve complained of Trek heading in more of a Wars direction (particularly with the last couple of Abrahms movies), I’m still going to watch, game and read many of the things these two properties have to offer.

Though not either properties’ animated series.

Here’s the thing though. In a way this debate feels archaic, or at least should feel archaic. I’ve heard an update of this might be Babylon 5 vs. Battlestar Galactica, but even those series have been off the air for a while (I personally found Galactica depressing and grinding after a while). I’m a brown-shirt too, but let’s face it, 14 episodes, a movie, and a few comic books are really all we’re gonna get out of that.

It’s like people who still cite the ABC’s of Science Fiction (Asimov, Bradbury and Clarke). These are all great writers (or great thinkers anyway). I wish I had the talent for imagery and crafting short stories of Bradbury, and I find myself striving for some of the same things as Asimov without trying to be too much like Clarke (the ending of my first ever completed novel was a lot like the ending of 2001 which is to say, incomprehensible and bad).

To me both Wars, Trek and the ABC’s are a solid grounding in the classics. But have we reached a point in science fiction where it might be time to start defining the genre by more than just these two titles? The Trek versus Wars thing feels more like an external classification than an internal one, and it seems maybe even a little dated despite the lasting legacy of both these series.

Now I say this as a guy who is on a bit of a mission to convince people that Deep Space Nine is better than The Next Generation, and as someone who still buys Star Trek comic books, and was thrilled for his 30th birthday to receive a Starship Enterprise sushi set. This is a nudge more than a shove.

I wish I was a little better versed in some of the great work of modern authors (besides Doctorow and Scalzi), and I’m making an effort every day to find the people who are writing this generation’s Trek or Wars. So far the place I’ve found it is in comic books, with titles like Letter 44, The Fuse, Saga, Copperhead, Roche Limit and Black Science (most of which I’ve reviewed on the blog). I guess lately I’ve been finding the idiosyncratic and personal work of comic book writers to be more appealing than larger more mass marketed properties. That said, a lot of individual authors still do great work on these series (and we haven’t even gotten to the behemoth that is Doctor Who which is again a 50+ year property).

Again, I love these old shows, movies, etc. I want my kids and my grandkids to enjoy them. I just want to make sure that when we (or the people outside) talk about science fiction, it seems like there is more to talk about. There’s something out there in science fiction for everyone to love, not just us nerds.

And maybe today of all days is a good time to have that discussion. If someone talks to you about Star Wars today, have fun with that, and maybe throw in something else you’ve read lately that really grabbed you, and that they might enjoy.

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Forty-Minute Story “Gray”

This is a sequel of sorts to a scene I wrote about eight months ago, itself a tangential piece relative to one of my works in progress. Before you read this scene, you may want to go back and read “Dust“. Enjoy!


The orange sphere arced through the air on the way to its target. Cora stood watching the ball, her “fingers” still out-stretched hoping to hear the satisfying flick of “nothing but net.” All her ears were met with, however, was the capricious clank of backboard, and rubber against the gym floor.

“Pretty close from half court,” a familiar voice shouted.

The last few months had brought a degree of informality between Cora and her commanding officer. Instead of snapping into a salute, Cora ran forward to pick up the errant ball and position herself back at the center line.

“I’d like to see you do better.” Cora pulled the ball up to her chest, her elbows flying out to chest pass the ball, but dropping at the last second with a little laughter, and a softer toss.

“A throw like that and you’d put me down in rehab with you,” He joked, passing the ball casually from hand to hand.

“No thanks,” Cora said, using her flesh and blood arm to wipe the sweat from her forehead. “Been seeing too much of you as it is.”

“I notice the arm’s sill gray.”

“Yeah, what of it?”

“You know the nanites can be rearranged to realistically mimic skin. You’ve got yours looking like a prosthetic arm from twenty years ago.”

“Mimic skin, huh? Like this?” Cora flicked her wrist and within in an instant she had a flesh and blood hand, attached to a dull gray robotic arm. She flayed her fingers to examine them.

“I could never get my nails looking this nice, even with a dozen manicures. See?”

She held up her other arm for comparison.

Her commander took her hand. It was cool to the touch, but otherwise felt perfectly normal. Her fingernails scratched his hand as she pulled back suddenly, another flick restoring the cold gray appearance.

“I keep it this way because I don’t want to stand out from the other soldiers. It’s bad enough I’m one of the only ones with a private room, I don’t need anyone else prying about the special hardware you’ve grafted onto me.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m no fool. This wasn’t just a new experimental procedure, the next generation in prosthetics or whatever line you sold me. You built me for a purpose, and I think it’s about time you told me.”

She swiped for the ball with the new arm and flung it toward the basket without looking. The ball was palmed in her iron grip as her arm stretched and arced, her eyes never breaking contact with her commander. When her hand was just above the basket she just dropped the ball, and was rewarded with the swish she’d been looking for.

“That’s why I’m here, Cora. I think it’s time for your first assignment.”


Filed under Short Stories, Uncategorized, Writing

Forty-Minute Story “Dust”

The bed was wider than a hospital bed should be. She was in a private room, no curtains separating her from other patients, but no windows to the outside world. Yet somehow the light was warm and natural, as if the sunlight had trickled down into whatever deep place she had woken up in.

Of course she knew where she was, where she’d been for the last few weeks getting ready for this first moment of waking up, of trying her new arm.

She looked to her right and all she saw was a pile of grey dust.

Why they left her alone like this she didn’t quite understand. Somehow this pile of dust, these “nanites” were going to be her arm, but none of the doctors or nurses had told her how it was actually going to feel. Maybe they didn’t know. The piece she couldn’t see was the interface. It had been inserted a few days before, but she’d been asleep for that, been asleep for days recovering as they rebuilt her piece by piece.

She thought about lifting her arm an inch off the bed. Cora watched with fascination as the worthless pile began to wave and shimmer, like one of the bed-sheets in the wind. But it had no substance, no form of an arm, and it moved in ways she really didn’t think she was controlling. Even as she watched, the dust settled back into an indistinguishable lump.

Maybe moving the whole pile was unrealistic. After all, what had her real arm been but a bunch of flesh hung on a piece of bone? Her body only had to contract a few small tendons to move that bone, and everything moved with it.

Cora closed her eyes and thought of a wire hanger, like the ones she used to get with her dry cleaning. She bent out the hangar in her mind until it was straight, then bent it again in the middle where the elbow should be, and once more a few inches above her “hand.”

She opened her eyes and saw the hanger. A small portion of the dust had formed a rod that was sticking out of the stub of her body. She bent the rod this way and that and her new arm moved with her, thinner than a pencil, but still under her control.

She thought about flesh but somehow that seemed still too heavy. Instead her wire hangar became the trunk of a tree, with branches sticking out at intervals. The silvery particles were forming a crystalline-like structure, slowly beginning to cross and interleave, like the wire frame of paper-mache.

Just then the door opened and her commanding officer stepped in. It had been weeks since they’d seen each other, not since the first day of this, and Cora snapped into a salute almost by instinct. The sharp branches of her tree poked her forehead, and she thought she felt a small drop of blood forming.

“At ease, Lieutenant.”

Cora moved to put the arm back in the pile of dust but found it had dissolved on her top sheet. She leaned a little to one side to allow the nanites to fall into the pile. Her commanding officer leaned over and with the tip of his thumb brushed her lip ever so gently.

“You had a little of your arm on your mouth, Lieutenant.” The gesture was playful but also showed some of the almost fatherly concern the commander was barely trying to hide.

Cora smiled. “Yes, sir. Better than my foot.”


Filed under Short Stories, Writing

10 Reasons Why Deep Space Nine Is Better Than Next Generation


Trust me it’s not. While Deep Space Nine may be hard for many hardcore Trekkies to embrace at first glance, if they don’t then they are missing out on some of the best Star Trek stories ever told. Here are ten reasons to take the plunge:

10) Benjamin Lafayette Sisko: Not only do we share a first name, but he’s another Captain who’s not afraid to rock the bald. From the very first season he’s defined as being different than a certain other bald Captain, in part because Picard killed Sisko’s wife (while he was Locutus but still…). Sisko’s a good guy with rough edges, who’s not afraid to tread into moral gray areas when it serves the greater good. His relationship with his son is also a real treat (no Wesley Crushers here), and one that carried on between the actors in real life. He also cooks cajun food, loves baseball and isn’t afraid to punch Q in the face.

9) The Best Ferengi Stories Ever Told: Ferengi’s play a prominent role on the station, centering around Quark, a bartender, and his family, his brother Rom and Rom’s son Nog who also happens to the best friend of Jake Sisko. On DS9 we meet the Nagus (inconceivable!), Quarks indomitable mother, and watch just how well Ferengi fair in courting Klingons. Gone are the marauder and flat characterizations of Next Gen, replaced with much more complex, and at times noble, characters.

8) The Best Klingon Stories Ever Told: Once a certain Starfleet Klingon joins the cast, all hell breaks loose. The treaty between the Federation and the Klingons is broken (we’re back to Original Series days man!). And even as things seem to be getting better the Chancellor of the empire may be a spy, or leading his people to certain doom. Plus Alexander grown up not quite how you would have expected.

7) Jadzia Dax: Those spots do go all the way down. ‘Nuff said.

6) Continuing Storylines: From the season 2 finale til the end of the show the threat of the Dominion, a new race of conquerors from the Gamma Quadrant, is looming. The Klingons are at war with the Federation, the Cardassians and sometimes themselves. Bajor is trying to rebuild after years of occupation, and is hurtling down a road to apocalyptic prophecies. And Odo, the station’s security chief and a shape-shifter, is trying to figure out who he is and how to tell the woman he loves how he feels.

5) Long Story Arcs: Two of the best sequences in the show are the Season 5 Finale and opening six episodes of Season 6, and the last 10 episodes of Season 7. Multi-part storylines, lots of peril for main and supporting characters.

4) The Defiant: Tough little ship isn’t even the half of it.

3) Complex Characters: Two of the most interesting villains\allies in the show are both Cardassian. One a former Obsidian order operative who’s full past is unknown and claims he is just a plain simple tailor. The other, the former head of the Bajoran occupation with a grandiose vision for his race, but a father’s love for his daughter. No one ends this show the way they began.

2) There was a firefight!: In a season six battle Starfleet’s fleet of 600 ships encounters 1254 Dominion\Cardaissian vessels. Never before has Star Trek been on such a massive scale.

And the number one reason is…

1) My wife will watch it with me!


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