Offworlders https://offworlders.com Science Fiction and Fantasy eBooks and Blog Tue, 12 Dec 2017 03:31:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards https://offworlders.com/2017-goodreads-choice-awards/ https://offworlders.com/2017-goodreads-choice-awards/#respond Wed, 06 Dec 2017 17:27:30 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=14355

List of all winners in this year's Choice Awards

Choice Awards for 2017

The 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards were announced yesterday. This award is voted upon by readers and consists of an opening round, semifinal round, and a final round. Congratulations to all the winners. Did any of your favorites win? Let me know in the comments below.

Best Fiction goes to Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng with 39,077 votes

Best Mystery and Thriller goes to Into the Water by Paula Hawkins with 48,247 votes

Best Historical Fiction goes to Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate with 29,431 votes

Best Fantasy goes to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling with 92,611 votes

Best Romance goes to Without Merit by Colleen Hoover  with 32,241 votes

Best Science Fiction goes to Artemis by Andy Weir with 33,957 votes

Best Horror goes to Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King with 50,519 votes

Best Humor goes to Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham with 48,077 votes

Best Nonfiction goes to How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh with 25,891 votes

Best Memoir & Autobiography goes to What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton with 30,866 votes

Best History and Biography goes to The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore with 24,696 votes

Best Science and Technology goes to Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson with 42,173 votes

Best Food and Cookbooks goes to The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives by Ree Drummond with 23,994 votes

Best Graphic Novels and Comics goes to Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen with 26,647 votes

Best Poetry goes to The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur with 35,856 votes

Best Debut Goodreads Author goes to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas with 74,925 votes

Best Young Adult Fiction goes to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas with 59,571 votes

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction goes to A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas with 71,165 votes

Best Middle Grade and Children’s goes to The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan with
34,516 votes

Best Picture Books goes to We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio with 24,470 votes

For a complete list of all books nominated visit the Goodreads Best Books of 2017 post. There you will find a complete list of nominees and the number of votes recorded for each work.  

 

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Orbit Ever After by Jamie Magnus Stone https://offworlders.com/orbit-ever-after-by-jamie-magnus-stone/ https://offworlders.com/orbit-ever-after-by-jamie-magnus-stone/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 00:04:32 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=14301

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark cannot hold a candle to the two star-crossed lovers in the science fiction short film “Orbit Ever After.”

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you could taste it, but you had no idea how you would get the object of your desire? This is the exact predicament the boy Nigel finds himself in aboard a ramshackle spacecraft held together with coils of wire and duct tape. The family spends most of their time attempting to stay safe as they continuously orbit a planet. They remain alive by eating crazy objects like the Russian space probe Sputnik for dinner! That is, the families food source comes from the junk they capture floating in space using a long fishnet. After pulling the metallic objects inside, they use a food processor to turn metal into a tasty green gruel. Yum!

Amidst all this tumult Nigel sees the girl of his dreams orbiting the planet in the opposite direction on another craft. Love must find a way if the two are to be together. Watch this film—you will not be sorry that you made the time to witness this touching short movie.

Credits:
Director: Jamie Magnus Stone
Cast:
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Nigel
Mackenzie Crook as Dad
Bronagh Gallagher as Mother
Bob Goody as Grandpa
Naomi Battrick Naomi Battrick as the Girl

 

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The Sound of Silence https://offworlders.com/the-sound-of-silence/ https://offworlders.com/the-sound-of-silence/#comments Sat, 18 Nov 2017 16:44:02 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=14137

Life often flows like a lazy river, only to pick up speed and crash over a precipice as an out-of-control waterfall. We hold tight to the oars and do our best to navigate the course, never giving up, smashing through the waves. On this journey people come and go, pets vanish into the ether, parents step out of the blue and into the black, and your kids grow older as you hang tight to life, waiting for the moment the undertow pulls you under. As you travel the path, certain events stand out as beacons of light and darkness and it is these events that shape us and make us who we are.

The other night I ran into an old friend of mine at a yogurt shop I had not seen in ages. It was great to see him. I was nervous because our paths separated time ago and we have not been in touch although living in proximity. I remember reading a book of fiction in college where characters in the story mysteriously disappeared. It usually is not a good practice to have characters drop out of a story without some explanation given to the reader. I cannot remember the title of the book, but I remember the professor telling us that when you graduate and move out into the real world people will do just that—disappear from your life when you least expect it. I have found that to be true.

My friend and I shared a universal love of gaming. We discussed the subject at our chance meeting and how we do not play a lot these days with busy lives and family. He asked me to recommend a game to play, so I suggested the Mass Effect Trilogy when I discovered he never experienced the game. When he asked me if it would take much of his time I made the mistake of telling him it would take over his life. That is true to a certain extent, but I should have mentioned that he can play the game in 20 or thirty-minute increments at his leisure.

Mass Effect is one of those unique events that stay with you for a lifetime. After completing the trilogy, I have found it difficult to play other games because for me none seem to match the wonder and excitement of the Mass Effect Universe, the character interaction, the planet-hopping adventures, and the all-around badassery. The graphics and fighting mechanics are not as great in the first installment, but the story is strong and graphics and game control excellent in ME 2 and 3.

A beautiful thing about the Mass Effect experience is the plethora of fan art the game inspired. Fans of all ages have created buckets of art, mods, and videos like the one I included in this post. Sure, there is controversy surrounding the end of the trilogy, but if you are a fan of science fiction, the franchise is a must play. The successor, Mass Effect Andromeda, is fun, but it lacks the emotional bond you develop with the characters of the trilogy, and the writing lacks depth.

The video I picked for this post uses advertisements made to market the game, not actual gameplay. I went with this selection because of how the clips and the audio from Disturbed did a fantastic job of touching on the high emotional bond players have to the game. To see the in-game mechanics check the following video. Cheers!

I would love to hear your stories of how Mass Effect touched you and made a difference in your life!

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Brian & Charles by Jim Archer https://offworlders.com/brian-charles-by-jim-archer/ https://offworlders.com/brian-charles-by-jim-archer/#respond Fri, 27 Oct 2017 18:36:47 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=14100

Sci-Fi Short Film With Heart

Brian and Charles is a feel-good sci-fi short with a dark underbelly. Brian is an isolated farmer that gets trapped in his farmhouse in Wales during a nasty winter. When depression sets in Brian does what all Welshmen do – he builds a robot to keep him company.

Shot as a mockumentary film, the short made due with a barebones budget. They only used funds to rent the cottage and pay for gas. A great example of quality filmmaking that does not require massive budgets and CGI to tell a story.

The robot is far from high-tech. Brian created his companion by using a head he found in a back shed, a box of cogs, and levers from the bedroom. Charles is a robot that even Stephen Hawking would invite over for tea. He has a child-like innocence that shines and brightens up the film.

Dark underbelly you say?

Brian & Charles deals with issues of abandonment, and even though the character is a robot, the film touched on just how cruel it is to abuse seniors. Charles the robot is a fantastic creation. He is not a killer robot hell-bent on destroying humanity. Any way you cut it, Brian & Charles is a beautiful film filled with joy. Enjoy!

Credits:

Directed and Edited by Jim Archer
Written by and Starring David Earl and Chris Hayward
Produced by Rupert Majendie
Cinematography by Toby Goodger

See IMDB for the full cast and crew credits.

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Neill Blomkamp’s Experimental Oats Studio https://offworlders.com/neill-blomkamps-experimental-oats-studio/ https://offworlders.com/neill-blomkamps-experimental-oats-studio/#respond Fri, 29 Sep 2017 19:12:25 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13962

Firebase – Neill Blomkamp

As a Sci-Fi fan, I am sure you are familiar with Neill Blomkamp, the director of “Elysium,” “Chappie” and the fan favorite science fiction thriller “District 9.” After many film success stories, Neil created Oats Studio as a way to keep the creative juices flowing. The new studio functions as a production sandbox where he can experiment with creative processes and produce short films that he will release to audiences on Steam and YouTube. Proof of concept short films is an excellent way to test the waters, float ideas, and gain financial backing for a movie. The idea is to see what projects are accessible before going whole-hog and spending a ton of cash developing a feature film. Neil digs the collaborative approach to filmmaking employed by Oats Studio and listens intently to the feedback his shorts generate on social media.

To take the collaborative approach one step further, Neil is selling high-end sound files and 3D images from Oats on Steam for the low price of $4.99 a pop. Filmmakers are encouraged to use the sound and image data sold on Steam to create their own productions and even remake Neill’s films from Oats Studio.

If proof of concept works for others – as it did for Stephan Zlotescu, the producer of the film “True Skin,” a short that turned some heads in Hollywood and was picked up by Warner Brothers and then Amazon Studios, the process can absolutely work for the Hollywood heavyweight Blomkamp. Neill is essentially using the same filmmaking process albeit on a grander scale.

To date, Neill has used his new production facility to release three short films: “Rakku,” “Firebase” and “Zygote,” and holy smokes; the results are nothing short of spectacular for proof-of-concept shorts. My favorite of the bunch is Firebase – a 26-minute long film best described as a horror story that takes place in the jungles of Vietnam complete with a River God, floating tanks, CIA agents and burley take-no-shit soldiers. Firebase is in your face filmmaking at its best.

Watch “Firebase” and let me know what you think of the film in the comments below. A word of warning, this is not a short that you want to eat lunch and watch as the gore factor is off the charts.

Credits*

Neill Blomkamp: Director
Writing Staff: Neill Blomkamp and Thomas Sweterlitsch

Cast:

Steve Boyle: STG. Hines
Nicole Goliath: River God Wife
Robert Hobbs: SGT. Carr
Tyler Johnston: SGT. Bracken
Pat Mastroianni: Dr. Bonham
Nic Rhind: Jacob Palmer
Carlo Yu: River God

Production:

Mike Blomkamp: Executive Producer
Victoria Burkhart: Post Producer
Gary Lam: Post producer
Steven St. Arnaud: Producer

Music:

Lorne Balfe

*Firebase (2017) – Full Cast & Crew – IMDb. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt7078926/fullcredits

 

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2017 Dragon Awards Announced at DragonCon https://offworlders.com/2017-dragon-awards-announced-at-dragoncon/ https://offworlders.com/2017-dragon-awards-announced-at-dragoncon/#respond Sun, 03 Sep 2017 20:30:59 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13965

Star Wars Cosplayers at DragonCon 2017

Winners of the 2017 Dragon Awards:

It’s official – DragonCon announced the winners of the 2017 Dragon Awards. I am pretty psyched that James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) took the award for best novel with “Babylon’s Ashes,” the sixth book in the Expanse series set in the near-future after humanity has colonized the solar system. I have read all six novels, and each one is fantastic. I am also a huge fan of “Stranger Things” and the Patty Jenkins’ film “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot. Good stuff. Did any of your favorites take home an award?


Best Science Fiction Novel:
Babylon’s Ashes
James S.A. Corey

 

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal):
Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge
Larry Correia and John Ringo

 

Best Young Adult / Middle-Grade Novel:
The Hammer of Thor
Rick Riordan

 

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel:
Iron Dragoons
Richard Fox

 

Best Alternate History Novel: Fallout:
The Hot War
Harry Turtledove

 

Best Apocalyptic Novel:
Walkaway
Cory Doctorow

 

Best Horror Novel:
The Changeling
Victor LaValle

 

Best Comic Book:
The Dresden Files: Dog Men
Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo

 

Best Graphic Novel:
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card
Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series:
Stranger Things
Netflix

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie:
Wonder Woman directed
Patty Jenkins

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game:
Pokemon GO
Niantic

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game:
Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk
Avalon Hill

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game:
Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon
Wizards of the Coast

 
 

Photo Credit: “Dragoncon 2017” by Counse licensed under CC-BY 2.0. Image color modified in foreground and background.

 

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2017 Hugo Awards Winners https://offworlders.com/2017-hugo-awards-winners/ https://offworlders.com/2017-hugo-awards-winners/#respond Fri, 11 Aug 2017 20:08:07 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13924

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin wins Best Novel.

Results of the  75th World Science Fiction Convention:

The winners of the 2017 Hugo Awards were announced today at Worldcon 75 held in Helsinki, Finland. Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone that made the final ballot! Did any of your favorites bring home a Hugo this year?

Here is the full list of winners and nominees:

Best Novel

Winner:
The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)

Nominees:
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books)Preview (opens in a new window)
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)
Death’s End by Cixin Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus)
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

 

Best Novella (1410 ballots)

Winner:
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)

Nominees:
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)
This Census-Taker by China Miéville (Del Rey / Picador)

 

Best Novelette (1097 ballots)

Winner: “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)

Nominees:
Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
“The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan (Tor.com, July 2016)
“The Jewel and Her Lapidary” by Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing, May 2016)
“Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

 

Best Short Story (1275 ballots)

Winner: “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)

Nominees:
“The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin (Tor.com, September 2016)
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong (Tor.com, March 2016)
“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)
“That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com, March 2016)
“An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)

 

Best Related Work (1122 ballots)

Winner: Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016 by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)

Nominees:
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (Tor Books)
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press)
Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood)
The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow / Harper Collins)
“The Women of Harry Potter” posts by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

 

Best Graphic Story (842 ballots)

Winner: Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)

Nominees:
Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)
Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel)
Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image)
Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks (Image)
The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)

 

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form (1733 ballots)

Winner: Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)

Nominees:
Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)
Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)
Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)
Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

 

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form (1159 ballots)

Winner: The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes,” written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)

Nominees:
Black Mirror: “San Junipero,” written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards,” written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
Game of Thrones: “The Door,” written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

 

Best Editor – Short Form (951 ballots)

Winner: Ellen Datlow

Nominees:
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Jonathan Strahan
Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
Sheila Williams

 

Best Editor – Long Form (752 ballots)

Winner: Liz Gorinsky

Nominees:
Vox Day
Sheila E. Gilbert
Devi Pillai
Miriam Weinberg
Navah Wolfe

 

Best Professional Artist (817 ballots)

Winner: Julie Dillon

Nominees:
Galen Dara
Chris McGrath
Victo Ngai
John Picacio
Sana Takeda

 

Best Semiprozine (857 ballots)

Winner: Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Nominees:
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief, and publisher Scott H. Andrews
Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander
GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff
The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

 

Best Fanzine (610 ballots)

Winner: “Lady Business,” edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan

Nominees:
“Castalia House Blog,” edited by Jeffro Johnson
“Journey Planet,” edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood
“Nerds of a feather, flock together,” edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
“Rocket Stack Rank,” edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
“SF Bluestocking,” edited by Bridget McKinney

 

Best Fancast (690 ballots)

Winner: Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman

Nominees:
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch
The Rageaholic, presented by RazörFist

 

Best Fan Writer (802 ballots)

Winner: Abigail Nussbaum

Nominees:
Mike Glyer
Jeffro Johnson
Natalie Luhrs
Foz Meadows
Chuck Tingle

 

Best Fan Artist (528 ballots)

Winner: Elizabeth Leggett

Nominees:
Ninni Aalto
Alex Garner
Vesa Lehtimäki
Likhain (M. Sereno)
Spring Schoenhuth
Mansik Yang

 

Best Series (1393 votes)

Winner: The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

Nominees:
The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone (Tor Books)
The Expanse by James S.A. Corey (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
The October Daye Books by Seanan McGuire (DAW / Corsair)
The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz / Del Rey / DAW / Subterranean)
The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Harper Voyager UK)

 

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (937 ballots)

Winner: Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)

Nominees:
Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)
J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)
Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)
Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)
Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)

 

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Robot and Scarecrow https://offworlders.com/robot-and-scarecrow/ https://offworlders.com/robot-and-scarecrow/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 16:45:36 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13876

Battery Unstable – One Hour Life Remaining

Robot and Scarecrow is a poignant fairytale romance between a robotic pop princess and a newly awakened scarecrow looking for something more out of life than just scaring birds away from a farmer’s crops. Can you blame him? After staring out at a farmer’s field for who knows how long, he finds himself immersed in a crowd of revelers at a large outdoor concert. As soon as Scarecrow arrives, he is taken by the beauty of the image of a female robotic performer on a massive video monitor setup at the venue.

Eventually, the robotic artist escapes her programmers and handlers and dashes off into the crowd. In hiding, she watches as the scarecrow is torn apart by concert revelers. She gathers up the shambled remains of the scarecrow and manages to reassemble him, and their brief romance begins.

I found this video to be very poignant not only in its handling of the impermanence of life but also from a robot’s rights perspective. It’s my hope that when humanity manages to create self-aware synthetic life, it will be wise enough to set it free. Love, no matter the source, must be allowed to flourish. All life is valuable and to be cherished.

The film drives home the notion that you need to embrace every moment given to you. The pop princess is malfunctioning throughout the sci-fi short and knows to the second when she will go offline permanently. At one point in the movie, at the height of the romance scenes, she gets the status:

“Battery unstable. One hour life remaining.”

What will you do when you get the message?

The robot decides to spend her last hour enjoying the time she has left. Eventually, she expires, and the scarecrow helplessly carries her back in the direction of the stage. Scarecrow collapses to his knees and gently places his love on the ground. The large video monitor plays a scene of the princess wearing wings as she walks off into the sunset.

Cast and Crew:

Director: Kibwe Tavares
Writers: Christopher O’Reilly and Ursula Rani Sarma
Stars: Jack O’Connell – Scarecrow, Holliday Grainger – Robot
Producer: Daniel Emmerson
Cinematography: Luke Jacobs
Music Supervisor: Sarah Bridge

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Would You Upload Your Consciousness to an Avatar? https://offworlders.com/would-you-upload-your-consciousness-to-an-avatar/ https://offworlders.com/would-you-upload-your-consciousness-to-an-avatar/#comments Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:30:56 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13847
Futuristic avatar ready for a stream of consciousness upload.

Synthetic 04. Disposable You — A 02 Kurono Variant by Leo Haslam.

Upload Your Way to Immortality

Synthetic 04 is an otherworldly artwork that features, according to Creature & Character Designer Leo Haslam from London, a “state of the art synthetic avatar body.” Would pick this cybernetic host to upload your stream of consciousness to at the demise of your organic host body?

Even though I love the artwork, I think I would choose something that looks more like this model:

Ahmed Aldoori "Suit Sketch" featuring a sleek robotic avatar.

“Suit Sketch” by US-based artist Ahmed Aldoori

How do you feel about the topic? If given the opportunity to continue living inside a synthetic avatar host, would you go for it and keep stomping on good old terra firma in an artificial body? My wife told me unapologetically that she would prefer to die a natural organic death than ever consider such an idea (abomination). Myself, I am all for it and would love to live on if my consciousness could make a seamless transition to a synthetic host. I wrote a short story called Wedding Anniversary that took for its inspiration the conversation that took place between myself and my wife on the topic of a stream of consciousness uploading.

Let me know your thoughts! If you are hip to uploading what model avatar would you choose? Would your partner go with you or want to stay behind?

Coffee talk.

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Helsreach – A Warhammer 40K Story by Richard Boylan https://offworlders.com/helsreach-a-warhammer-40k-story-by-richard-boylan/ https://offworlders.com/helsreach-a-warhammer-40k-story-by-richard-boylan/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 11:30:34 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13816

Helsreach Warhammer 40K Fan Film Series by Richard Boylan

Bioware Cinematic Designer Richard Boylan’s fan homage to the novel “Helsreach” by author Aaron Dembski-Bowden is flat-out amazing. This is an unofficial fanwork that utilizes the “Helsreach” audiobook narration as a voiceover for the short, and the film is a true work of art that is both entertaining and visually stimulating. The use of a barebones black and white stylistic approach to filmmaking greatly enhances the film’s take on the harsh realities of war. The story features Grimaldus, Reclusiarch of the Black Templars, and his defense of the Hive Helsreach from an all-out Ork invasion with the assistance of the Titans of Legio Invigilata, and the 101st Armageddon Steel Legion. Amazing series of videos even if you are like me and have never followed Warhammer.

Here are the first five videos for you to enjoy:

 

 

 

 

 

  • Made with Source Filmmaker.
  • Music and sound effects provided by Audiojungle

 

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Divisor by Selfburning https://offworlders.com/divisor-by-selfburning/ https://offworlders.com/divisor-by-selfburning/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 15:06:33 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13711

Divisor is a Trippy SciFi mind-expanding cyberpunk film inspired by the perception altering wave of virtual reality devices that promise to expand our narrow definition of reality.  It’s pretty damn cool and the flick even has a burning techno beat composed by none other than Pixelord that drives the film to its ultimate conclusion.

Director/Designer/Animator/Compositor: – Selfburning
Music Composer/Sound Designer – Pixelord

Cinema is a technologically mediated dreamspace, a way to access, a portal to the numinous that unfolded in the fourth dimension, so cinema became sort of a waking dream where we can travel in space and time, where we can travel in mind. This became more than virtual reality, this became a real virtuality… ~Jason Silva

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Review of Neal Stephenson’s Novel Seveneves https://offworlders.com/review-of-neal-stephensons-novel-seveneves/ https://offworlders.com/review-of-neal-stephensons-novel-seveneves/#comments Tue, 06 Jun 2017 20:40:17 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13762

Neal Stephenson's Seveneves featured image

Seveneves Book Review by Kyle Pollard

The Apocalypse is on its way. You have a pretty damn good idea when every living creature on Earth will perish. What will you do? That’s the question answered by Neal Stephenson’s 2015 science fiction novel “Seveneves.” The cataclysm Stephenson imagines for the book is a sudden break-up of the moon into seven large planetary fragments. Other than a few rather large asteroid strikes after the collapse, the Earth is relatively unscathed by the event. School kids even name the moon chunks, and all seems well.

It’s just a matter of time, however, until scientists worldwide conclude the surviving moon pieces will start colliding producing a growing amount of debris that will blanket the atmosphere in what is termed the “White Sky.” In two years’ time, scientists estimate that moon fragments will begin entering the Earth’s atmosphere in the form of a “Hard Rain” that will boil away the oceans and wipe out all living things. Not good for the inhabitants of Earth.

I love how the tale takes place in the near-future. No godlike tech can be employed to save Earth and all its inhabitants from the impending doom and gloom of total annihilation. The story is more of an “if this happened now” postulation and what would we do to ensure the continuation of the species? The central issue of “Seveneves” is a problem that we earthlings could realistically face should a wolf pack of asteroids from deep space take aim at our little blue marble. To escape destruction, we would be forced to find a solution using our intelligence and the tools at hand.

So what actions do the inhabitants of Earth take when faced with the impending hard rain? In “Seveneves” the world’s superpowers with space capabilities choose to build a “Cloud Ark” using the International Space Station (ISS) as the central hub. Remember, the time constraint is two years to get the job done. The plan is to use the ISS as the nexus and construct many smaller ships known as arklets that can connect in small formations and spin up to provide artificial gravity. Approximately 1500 hundred people are chosen to escape the destruction with the goal of repopulating the planet when it’s safe to inhabit again in around 5000 years. Just think about that for a second and let it sink in. That would be a tall order for a planetary species even with technology that doubles the complexity of what we have available today on Earth.

They were running out of things to say to each other. That was ghastly, but it was true. His family members were all preparing to meet their maker in two or three or four weeks. The government had been handing out euthanasia pills to anyone who wanted them; thousands had already swallowed them and bodies overflowed the morgues. Mass graves were being dug with end loaders. Meanwhile, Doob was preparing for – to be blunt, to be honest – the greatest adventure of his life. ~Refering to “Doc” Dubois Jerome Xavier Harris and his family, Seveneves

Seveneves is a massive book weighing in at over 800 pages. It’s dense and full of lengthy expositions on the technical aspects of the Cloud Ark and the science surrounding the move from a planetary species to a spaceborne race. Stephenson grew up in a family of engineers and has an incredible talent for describing complex terms in a way that most people can understand. In the novel, there is much ado about orbital mechanics, gene manipulation, the dangers of space radiation, asteroid impacts, the logistics of space travel, hydroponics, to name but a few topics delved into with gusto. To some readers, this seemingly inexhaustible amount of detail can become taxing and get in the way of the story. To me, the hard-science in the novel added to the adventure and I could not get enough. Stephenson’s prose flows smoothly on every page of the book, and the science added a hyper sense of realism.

The novel’s main characters inhabit the ISS, and without a doubt, my favorite one was “Doc” Dubois Jerome Xavier Harris, a character modeled after Chicago native Neil deGrasse Tyson. I believe Stephenson used a “deGrasse” based character as a believable way to explain complex topics in an easy to digest manner – exactly what Neil deGrasse Tyson excels at in real life. Stephenson’s “Doc” Dubois is just as lovable and fun as the great Neil deGrasse Tyson, and his inclusion in the tale not only made sense a primary mover of the plot but as a way to take an extraordinary book to an even higher level.

The novel does an admirable job of covering a 5000-year time span and delivers huge in the end. Do I recommend the book? Absolutely. I loved “Seveneves” and ranked it up there with my all-time favorite science fiction novels. I will never forget the feeling that grew on me as I neared the end. With about a hundred pages left I got that much loved/hated feeling that takes root inside you when you don’t want a book to end because you are enjoying it so much. If you love hard-science sci-fi novels, you should absolutely read this one.

SEVENEVES
By Neal Stephenson
880 pages. William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-0062334510
Image Credit:

Background Photo Credit: “BENNU’S JOURNEY – Early Earth” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center licensed under CC-BY 2.0

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Winners of the 2016 Nebula Awards https://offworlders.com/winners-of-the-2016-nebula-awards/ https://offworlders.com/winners-of-the-2016-nebula-awards/#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 15:25:06 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13718

2016 Nebula Award winners announced May 20, 2017

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced the 2016 Nebula Award winners on May 20, 2017. Charlie Jane Anders won for best novel with her book titled “All the Birds in the Sky;” and the best short story prize went to Amal El-Mohtar’s “Seasons of Glass and Iron.”  Winners are listed next to the trophy, with all the nominees for each category listed under the winners. The field was strong this year and Offworlders congratulations both the winners and all nominees. Stupendous job everyone.

Without further adiou, here are the winners and all nominees:

Novel

  • All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)

Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)

Novella

  • Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)

Runtime, S.B. Divya (Tor.com Publishing)
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Liar,” John P. Murphy (F&SF)
A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

Novelette

  • “The Long Fall Up,” William Ledbetter (F&SF)

“Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea,” Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
“The Orangery,” Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Blood Grains Speak Through Memories,” Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)
“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay,” Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)

Short Story

  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)]

“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
“Sabbath Wine,” Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
“Things With Beards,” Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
“This Is Not a Wardrobe Door,” A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers,” Alyssa Wong (Tor.com)
“Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0,” Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)

Ray Bradbury Award For Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment / FilmNation Entertainment / Lava Bear Films / Xenolinguistics

Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
Kubo and the Two Strings, directed by Travis Knight, screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, directed by Gareth Edwards, written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucasfilm / Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’,’ directed by Jonathan Nolan, written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO
Zootopia, directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures / Walt Disney Animation Studios

Andre Norton Award For Young Adult Science Fiction And Fantasy

  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

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Star Trek Discovery Spoof with Seth MacFarlane https://offworlders.com/star-trek-discovery-spoof-with-seth-macfarlane/ https://offworlders.com/star-trek-discovery-spoof-with-seth-macfarlane/#respond Sat, 20 May 2017 17:20:36 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13697

Are you chomping at the bit waiting for the new “Star Trek Discovery” series scheduled to begin in a few months on CBS? Yes? OK, I have you covered. Kick back and watch this Discovery spoof titled “The Orville Official Trailer.” Fan reaction to this vid is pretty much unanimous that the Orville should be made into an actual film or TV series in the comedic vein of “Galaxy Quest.” Indeed, many commenters on Youtube voiced the opinion that this comedic spoof looks better than the upcoming Discovery series.

Where do you stand? What are your views on Star Trek Discovery? Are you excited? Which ship do you want to voyage to the stars – the USS Discovery or the Orville? Myself, I would watch both as I am a huge fan of “Galaxy Quest” and the Trek franchise in general. Plus, the first look trailer for Discovery looks fantastic.

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Arthur C. Clarke 2017 Award Shortlist https://offworlders.com/arthur-c-clarke-2017-shortlist/ https://offworlders.com/arthur-c-clarke-2017-shortlist/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 19:08:09 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13644

The Arthur C. Clarke shortlist was announced today.

Shortlist for the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award:

The shortlist for the 2017  Arthur C. Clarke award was announced. The award is presented to the best UK science fiction novel published in the previous calendar year. Did your favorite Sci-Fi read make the cut?

Here are the nominees:

  • A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • After Atlas – Emma Newman (Roc)
  • Occupy Me – Tricia Sullivan (Gollancz)
  • Central Station – Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead (Fleet)

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Red Velvet by David Nadas https://offworlders.com/red-velvet-by-david-nadas/ https://offworlders.com/red-velvet-by-david-nadas/#respond Sun, 16 Apr 2017 14:03:05 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13546

Spider mite under high powered microscope

 

Red Velvet – Sci-Fi Short Story by David Nadas: David Nadas Photograph

“Tevis, have you located Newell?” 

“He’s out.”

“Who let him out?”

“No one.  He’s part of Ops and has the overrides. But with our EVs in maintenance, he’s out there on foot–”

The pound of the colony commander’s fist on the table startled her; she had always thought of him as cool and calculated.

“What’s he doing out there? He knows we’re into the 220s of the year.”

“He sent a message he was going to see if he can get the beacon back online.”

“Get him on comm for me,” he growled through the clench of his jaw.

Tevis had anticipated this and pushed forward the PTT button on the console.

“CQ CQ calling CQ.  This is A1DUP, Alpha-One-Delta-Uniform-Papa.”  There was a faint hiss and crackle coming from the console speaker on her desk.  She turned the volume up.

“Call again.” he said more calmly this time.

Tevis could see the vexing of muscles along his jawline and repeated the call signs.  A second or two passed which seemed like an eternity.

“N2EEC N2EEC, this is AD2DB, Alpha-Delta-Two-Delta-Baker.”  Relieved, Tevis let out a breath between her pursed lips.

The commander reached down and grabbed the call mic from the stand as Tevis pushed forward the PTT button.

“Newell, let’s not make this a rag chew.  What the fuck-up are you doing out there?”

Tevis released the PTT button.

“Trying to get the aerial back online, sir,” Newell said between breaths, “before the KapCo supply shuttle cruises past us for the second time.  If we miss this window, sir, it will be another five days of rations.”

Tevis and the commander could hear Newell’s labored breaths as he trod through the soft sand with a heavy toolkit all of which was taking its toll on him.

“You know we’re in the 220s and what time of day it is.  You had your orientation on the mites … you don’t want to be out there when they get to the surface–”

He snapped his fingers for Tevis to give him the conditions out there.  “I am ordering you back here, immediately, Newell.”

Tevis brought up the ENV panel and swiveled it toward him.  The temperature was up, and the frozen CO2 had already begun to evaporate. It was too late. He tilted his finger for Tevis to push forward the PTT button once again.

“They’re out on the surface, aren’t they, Newell?”

“Yes they are, sir,” he responded, “but I’m double sealed. They aren’t getting in.” The legs and chest of his EMU suit bulged with swollen red clots that were crawling upwards toward his helmet.

Red Velvet Mite

The mites were bleeding to the surface to eat and mate. It has been 247 days since their last migration and the females velvet abdomens were flush with eggs waiting to be fertilized; the males purposeful in finding a host to carry their young. Newell had not been stationed here long enough to see this event before today, but the orientation videos he watched did not prepare him for what he saw now.  When he reached the aerial, it looked as if someone had draped the antenna in red velvet.  The thought of pushing away that many mites to locate the problem made his skin crawl.  He dropped the toolkit to the sand, and the parasites began to crawl onto it, the beacon seemed to be a magnet for them, and he was starting to think this was not such a good idea to be out here. His hero mentality had evaporated, and his idea of impressing Tevis seemed secondary at the moment.

“I’ve arrived,” he said through his helmet mic., his tone, regretful.

“What are you seeing, Newell?” The commander asked.

“A whole lot of mites, sir…” he answered.

“Get back here, Newell.  We’ll spray you down, and you can survive in the chamber for 48 hours for quarantine and observation.”

“I’m already here, sir,” he said against his better judgment as he brushed his hand across his visor, smearing the mites on the Plexiglas, their viscous yellow insides spreading a swath across one eye, just enough to be bothersome like an itch he couldn’t scratch.  He reached down to brush off the lid to the toolkit and flipped it open, the back of the lid crushing fistful of mites that set off a chemical wave through the colony, now agitated and swarming toward the disturbance.

“This is not going well,” Newell said through his mic.

Tevis wanted to grab the handset from the commander; she could hear the pulsing of blood in her ears at the rasp of Newell’s voice. She pushed forward the PTT button in anticipation.

“What’s happening, Newell?”

There was no immediate answer.

“Newell!” shouted the commander into the mic.

“I’m heading back, sir,…” said Newell, the shout of the leader getting him to refocus.

“Good. We’ll be ready for you.  When you reach the rim wait for further instruction.”  Tevis released the PTT button and slumped into her chair with relief.

“Let me know when he’s in sight,” the commander said peering out the window and handing the handset to Tevis, then turning, he left without a word.

She waited until he was out of the room before toggling open the channel to Newell.

“Where are you, Irwin?” Tevis asked using his first name.

It was good to hear her voice, but he was beginning to feel he made a fool of himself.

“I’m still here, Tevis,” he said addressing her by her first name and disregarding her rank.

“I’ll be with you the entire way, Irwin.  Hang in there.  Our SAT will pick you up in another five minutes, and I will guide you in.”

“Thanks, Tevis.”  He needed to focus on her voice and knew that any stray thoughts could open the door to panic.  But It was getting difficult, the smear across his visor had changed, and he couldn’t quite see what that change was, being too close to his eye; the mites fluids may have distorted the surface, like a melt.  As it was, he had to contort his head in the helmet to see below the distortion, and even that was no benefit for his non-dominant eye.  He was now covered in mites, but he knew not to brush them away this time, so he shook his head, which seemed to work for short periods before the visor was covered again.  Fortunately, he could see below the distortion to his feet and follow the footsteps he had made getting here, occasionally shaking his head to clear his visor, but it was becoming more frequent, and he was starting to get dizzy from it.

“I have you on SAT, Irwin,” she said with a lift in her voice as she zoomed in on his coordinates, but froze at the site of the red mass surrounding him and pooling from the beacon tower.  She let go of the toggle in time for him not to hear her gasp and could taste the bile in the back of her throat.

It made him feel better that at least she could see him. “Just keep me on track, Tevis… it’s getting hard to see my steps.”

“You got it, Irwin.  You’re heading in the right direction.”

Although the mites were small, only a shirt button in size, the sheer number of them made his knees wobble from the added weight.  Another shake of his head to clear his view and he almost fell over.

Tevis could hear his breathing becoming shallow and faster, and she knew panic might be setting in.  “Slow down your breathing, Irwin.  One step at a time, and breathe in deeper.  I’m right here with you.  We can do this.”

This was the longest conversation with Tevis since his arrival over fifty days ago when he attended her orientation briefing.  He knew she was of Native American heritage and he tried to imagine her face right now, her rounded chin and full lips, her high cheekbones and narrow eyes framed by her raven black hair. He thought his status and lack of social skills would never get her full attention, but here he was, and he had her full attention. Don’t blow this he kept chanting to himself. Don’t blow this…

Tevis tried to keep him focused on her.  “Where are you originally from, Irwin?” She asked while monitoring his progress.

“Ah… um… East Coast… New Jersey….” He replied and almost stopped to answer her.

“Keep your pace up, Irwin.” She said a bit more commanding.  Maybe it was not a good idea to distract him like that.  She knew he seemed to have a thing for her, his nervous glances when the crew was in the canteen together, the crack of his voice when they worked the same shift as he performed telemetry maintenance in and around the control center.  She wanted his safe return.

He thought he was in good shape, taking longer strides and had his breathing under control, but started to smell something like the scent of solder fumes, so he picked up his pace, stepping on more and more mites pooling around him from all directions.  Another shake of his head and it dizzied him, dropping him onto one leg where he felt the squish of mites on his knee and gloved palm.  It repulsed him, and he sprang up and shook off the mites from his arm and could see the bright yellow splotches on his suit and glove.

“You okay, Irwin?” she said with concern in her voice.

“Yeah… just got a little dizzy trying to clear my visor.  I will remember to stop next time before I do that.”

While monitoring his progress, she thought back on her time here; this marked her third cycle on J147b. She was one of the original team members remaining and knew what the mites were capable of inflicting on a person.  Twenty days after landing here, she had almost lost her life from a bite.  Fortunately, removing her leg before the infection spread saved her.  What they did not know was that had a female mite bitten her, it would have deposited thousands of eggs into her bloodstream.  They still knew very little of the mite’s life cycle, and with a reduced budget this year, they did not have the resources to get an exobiologist on site. All they knew was not to go out in the 220s during the mite’s yearly migration to the surface. Maybe if she had let Irwin know she was wearing prosthesis as a result of a bite, he wouldn’t have ventured out.  But why would she, it’s not something you just come out and say to someone upon arrival, and she wanted to keep that part of herself, private.

What concerned her at the moment was the amount of mites in one location.  In the three cycles Tevis spent on the base, she had never seen this many.  From the view on the SATcam, the soil had turned velvet red and her glance out the window at the red crater rim above, confirm what she saw on the screen.

Newell was in sight of the base now.  “I can see the base, Tevis.”

She looked out the window toward the rim and saw him standing there as a wash of red spilled over the edge into the crater.   She toggled the overhead to notify commander Ricklefs.

When Ricklefs arrived, he looked out the window and was disturbed by the amount of red spilling into the crater toward them.  He grabbed the mic.

“Newell… stay there.” He waved his hand for Tevis to toggle off the mic.  “I can’t let him in.  He will endanger all of us.  You of all people should understand that, Captain?”

Tevis felt sick to her stomach, but she knew he was right.  There would be no way of separating him from the mass of mites.  “Yes, sir.” She replied.

“Good.  Do what you must.   He turned and left, leaving Tevis to herself.

“Sir, where should I approach? Irwin asked.”

Tevis couldn’t bring herself to answer.

“Sir?  Are you there? Commander? …. Captain?”

Tevis toggled on the mic.  “Irwin…” and he heard the death sentence in her voice.

“No… No… You can’t leave me out here!”

“We have no choice, Irwin,” and this time he heard a sharp inward sob. “We can’t open the doors for you.  We have no way of killing them without killing you in the process.  You will have to see if you can wait them out, then we can come out and get you.”

“That’s not true!” He shouted through his mic.  “You can vacuum the hatch and kill them!  Please… don’t leave me here.”

“You are not wearing a pressurized EMU, Irwin. And even if we left one in the hatch there would be no way for you to transfer into it without the mites getting in it with you.  You need to wait them out.”

“I can’t, Tevis… I think my outer suit is compromised and the visor is distorted– I don’t know how much longer it will hold up.”  He began to panic and had been so focused on her voice he had not realized he was in total darkness from the mites covering his helmet.  He shook his head, but couldn’t knock them clear, so he reached up to swipe the visor clean, and the weakened section ripped free, and they poured through the gaping hole.

Tevis had heard a series of screams before his choking was silenced. She swiveled in her chair, and dry heaved. She could see out the window to the top of the crater rim, watching as his clotted arms frantically attempted to remove his helmet before he toppled into the crater. He started to slide down the edge but was halted by a mass of red pushing back. And suddenly he was being passed back up to the top of the rim like a mosh pit of fans raising one of their own until he disappeared beyond her view with the drape of red receding with him.

Tevis could feel the phantom burns in her limb and reached up onto the console to shut off the feed from the SATcam.  She stayed there with her hands clutched together and her head resting above her knees and under the shade of her dark hair until she no longer felt nauseous.  Ten minutes had passed before Tevis took a deep breath and sat up.  She pushed her hair behind her ears and wiped her eyes.  Maybe it was time to leave this rock, she thought.

“Captain,” came a voice from behind.

Tevis turned to see the new arrival.  His patchwork indicated he worked in the mining division.

“Commander Ricklefs granted my request to see you.”

“Come in, private.”

He stepped quickly and deliberately toward her and stood at attention.  “I knew Newell, ma’am, ” he said?  “We had arrived together on the same shuttle, and I heard what happened to him.  He thought very highly of you, ma’am.”  From his pocket, he pulled out a small sack and stretched out his hand.  “Ma’am, this morning, Newell handed me this and told me that if anything were to happen to him, ma’am, I should give this to you,” he approached Tevis and placed the small sack upon the console desk and stepped back.

She sat staring at it, wondering why he would have ventured out knowing something might happen to him.  The new arrival was stationary.  “Thank you…,” she said reading his tag… “Percy.”   He turned on the balls of his feet and left.

She took a minute before picking up the sapphire blue bag, gently untying the knot at the top and sliding its contents onto the table.  From within slipped an intricately carved scorpion, a gypsum blade and a note.  How would he have known this?  She wondered and then remembered a conversation she had in the canteen not long ago with Newell seated quietly at the end of the table, listening to her saying to the others that she had one cycle to go and couldn’t wait to get back to her home in Carefree, AZ, where the only thing she needed to worry about was a scorpion or two.  She unfolded the note and read it, making her smile through tearful eyes:

The scorpion was carved from the soft stone found along the rim of the crater, but you will notice there are no segmented lines engraved onto the abdomen or tail.  For your remaining time here, carve a segment line every twenty days, starting from the head to the tail.  Both your time remaining and the carvings should be met at the same time.  Thank you for your kindness – Irwin.

She picked up the gypsum blade and carved the first two lines into the abdomen and placed then placed the contents back into the sack and sat staring out the window, thinking about Newell and being home.

The end

Featured Image:  “The two-spotted spider mite T. Urticae” by eLife – the journal is licensed under CC-BY 2.0. The image that was resized, cropped to fit required size, and modified with a filter.

Second Image:  “Red Velvet Mite” by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC-BY 2.0. The image that was resized, cropped to fit required size.

 

Author’s Note:

David-NadasI started on a triad of shorts, where the idea came from my studies in Ecology, specifically, from The Economy Of Nature by Robert Ricklefs on Species Adaptation.

According to Ricklefs, all species adaptation is driven by their encounter with a variety of environmental factors deriving from one of three sources: 1) Exposure to the Physical and Chemical; 2) Exposure to predators, parasites, and prey; 3) And finally, exposure to individuals of the same species.

The first of my shorts addresses the Physical & Chemical aspects of adaptation as is titled, Red Velvet.  My story is based on the 1962 research of biologists Lloyd Tevis and Irwin Newell of their observations of the Giant Red Velvet Mite of the Mojave Desert.  The mites have quite an interesting life cycle, where they migrate to the surface once a year to eat, mate, and for their larvae to find a host.   The story takes place on the exoplanet, J147b, where a new arrival (Newell), is trying to impress his female mentor (Tevis) and gets stranded during the yearly migration of red velvet mites to the surface.  If you have any Arachnophobia tendencies, you may want to stop reading, here.  This short may not be for you…. it will make your skin crawl…

As a writer, the part that excites me is the etymology and origin of taxonomy. The genus and species of the Giant Red Velvet Mite (Dinothrombium pandorae) is the perfect alien for my story.  Dino, is derived from the Greek word, deinos, meaning terrible and Thrombos, a lump or clot.  This particular species is named after Pandora who was sent by Zeus to bring evil to the human race as a counterbalance of Prometheus, disobeying Zeus, who gave the gift of fire to the human race.

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Regrets But One by David Nadas https://offworlders.com/regrets-but-one-by-david-nadas/ https://offworlders.com/regrets-but-one-by-david-nadas/#comments Fri, 07 Apr 2017 19:26:58 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13529

End of Days Short titled Regrets But One

Regrets But One – Sci-Fi Short Story by David Nadas

End of Days Series – Part Four David Nadas Photograph

“What word of what I just said didn’t you understand?” Deedle said mocking him as she pulled the handgun from her shoulder bag.

“Deedle…. hold on…. put the gun down,” he pleaded rolling back in his chair with nowhere to go.

With a flick of her thumb, the laser-powered scope turned on, and she raised the red dot until it settled between his eyes.

“Don’t do this, Deedle.  I thought you were coming over here to make amends? It was a long time ago. We’re friends now, right? We’ve done business together.  This is crazy… We’re both going to die in a few hours anyway.  I’m sorry…. don’t do this…”

“I’m not going to give you that luxury… you prick….  You don’t deserve to go out with the rest of humanity.” She took aim.

“WAIT!  Just wait! I didn’t have a choice–”

“NO! I DIDN’T HAVE A CHOICE!” She shouted cutting him off as the red dot bounced along his forehead.  She promised herself she wouldn’t lose control of her emotions over this scumbag and needed to prove to him she was no longer the young impressionable nitwit she had been in those days, new to the jewelry trade and too trusting of shitbags the likes of Donald.

Seeing him here, now, brought back thirty years of anger and sleepless nights of reenacted dreams when he claimed to have lost a piece she had loaned him; it had been her most precious piece, a vintage VCA coral and diamond leaf motif brooch worth a little more than eighty-seven grand…. a fortune to her at the time.

“Tell me, Donald…. and if I sense any bullshit… I swear I’ll blow your fucking head off!” It felt good for her to say that out loud having rehearsed this line over and over in her head during her walk along Fifth Avenue to Donald’s office.

An hour earlier, she and everyone on the planet had received a series of public service emergency alerts that a catastrophic solar flare, ten times the diameter of Earth, was heading toward them and there was no chance of survival.  The Internet had become choked with posts of people making amends and being with those they loved.  There was nothing anyone could do.  Instead of rushing home to Dov, she had sat in her office thinking of any regrets she may have had in her life.  There was one.

“What did you do with that piece I loaned you, Donald?”

He looked at her, feigning confusion.

“Donald!  Answer me!” She shouted and dropped her leg back and took straight aim.

“I sold it!” He blurted out.  “I’m sorry, but I needed the money… “

“To whom?” She demanded.

He was stuttering, looking for an answer that wasn’t there. “No-no one you know… please… put the gun away… we can talk about this.”

“You’re lying to me,” she said calmly.  “You always flick the end of your nose when you lie… just like you did right now.” She took aim down the barrel.

“OK, OK, OK… I gave it to Anna Skylovski… Don’t shoot…” he whimpered.

“You were always such a pussy, Donald. I should have known you’d give it to that slut… I hope the blowjob was worth this bullet in your head,” she said closing one eye just before pulling the trigger and for Donald to thrust his hands in front of his face and turn slightly.  The sound was much quieter than she imagined, a single pop.  She looked up to see a hole in his palm and the tip of his nose missing.

FUCK ME!” Donald screamed out as the blood began to gush.  He pulled his bloody hand down and held it, growling through clenched teeth and the bubble of his voice though the tip of his shredded nose.  Beyond him the bullet had exited the picture window, leaving a spider web in the glass.

“Damn! My aim sucks,” she said more to herself than for Donald’s sake.  “Dov insisted I get a gun to protect myself.  He even took me clay shooting, and those fucking orange pigeons went sailing forth unhindered by my bullets… I would have shot you in the balls, Donald, but I now realize you never had any.”  She laughed and raised the gun once more but jumped when the sirens outside screamed out, distracting her long enough for Donald to grab the paperweight from his desk and hurl it, striking her in the forehead and knocking her onto the floor.

She was lying there, still holding the gun when Donald launched over the desk onto her, his good hand pinning the gun to the carpet.

“You stupid bitch,” he screamed inches from her face.  She felt the warmth of his bloodied forearm on her throat as the drip from his nose landed her cheek.  He began to press down.

Her free hand was clutched to the brooch that had come loose from the fall, the long gold pin held in her fingers.  She jabbed him in the temple and felt the pin bend when it hit bone.

He roared out and rolled over onto his back, and Deedle staggered up onto her Jimmy Choos, the gun still hot in her hands.  She wiped her cheek, straightened her suit and brushed the flip of her hair to the side while the sirens outside continued at a deafening pitch.  The end was coming.

Donald pushed himself up against the front of his desk, defeated.  “Get it over with. Do it.  Do me the favor of not having to see your fucking face as my last image. DO IT!

Deedle raised the gun and held it steady, the red dot settling between his eyes.  She was breathing heavily, and her head ached.  She looked into his eyes that were filled with hatred, and she began to laugh.  She was laughing so hard it drew Donald in as he closed his eyes and laughed achingly with her.

She wanted to pull the trigger, but the reservoir of revenge felt half full, and she didn’t want this to end, on his terms, so she lowered the gun and pulled the trigger and miraculously hit his knee.  A black dot appeared on his pant leg, and he screamed out once more, a primordial guttural, “FUCK YOU” through threads of red spittle tethered from his bloodied lips.

The reservoir had drained, and she raised the gun, held her breath, and pulled the trigger.  Another pop and beyond the sights of the barrel a black dot appeared on his forehead as if that was all that bullets did was to create black dots.  A crimson ribbon began to drip between his eyes and along his nose where it bowed like a strand of silk onto his chest.

“No, Donald… Fuck You,” she said under her breath and lobbed the gun into his lap.

She was smiling to herself in the mirrored walls of the elevator, primping and wiping his blood from her face and throat until the courtesy ping of the elevator notified her she had reached the lobby.   The doors opened, and she stepped out onto the worn marble floors with the echo of her heels the only sounds she heard as she walked toward the revolving doors that opened to the street.

Everything seemed so surreal; it was a beautiful day with not a soul in sight.  Everyone who was, were where he or she needed to be.  Deedle walked Fifth Avenue toward her Upper East Side apartment, not drawn in by the windows of Christian Louboutin or lured through the open doors of St. Patrick’s by the sobering choir of voices within.  She walked past Bergdorf’s without admiring the window displays and was amazed not to see crowds gathered around the Apple Store.  Why couldn’t it always be like this?  She thought to herself as she headed along the park with the dogwoods in bloom and over the wall in the fields beyond, horses with tiaras were grazing on the chartreuse of grass — their handsome cab owners having set them free.  She couldn’t remember the last time she walked home from work and took note of all the shops and cafes she had never been to or had known to exist.

With the crosstown walk behind her, she stopped to admire the tower of her apartment building and the duplex apartment at the top, a symbol of her success.  She thought back to the countless dinner parties out on the terrace, her love of the kitchen and cooking, the smells of fresh biscotti on the oven sheets with Dov always stealing one before they cooled.  She had some great times there, and those thoughts filled her with happiness.

It felt odd opening her own door to the lobby, where Kevin was not there to greet her with his infectious smile, eager to carry her packages no matter how small.  She entered the to its emptiness, where the elevator door at the far end of the lobby was openly awaiting her, an NYC rarity.  She rode up in silence to the penthouse floor and stepping out, the door to her apartment opened before she could remove her key.  Standing in the doorway was Dov in his tuxedo holding two glasses of champagne.

Noticing the bruise on her forehead and smear of blood on her cheek, throat, and blouse, he asked nonchalantly, “Tough day at the Batcave, Batgirl?”

“You should see the other guy…” she huffed and dropped her bag to the floor as she reached for her glass and kissed him hard on the lips.  “Come on Batman…. we’ve got some messing around to do before the world ends. Hopefully, this solar flare thing is not fake news, or I will have some serious explaining to do in the morning….”

Main Photo Credit: David Nadas
Background Image:  “[2005] 5th Avenue at Night” by Diego Torres Silvestre is licensed under CC-BY 2.0. The image that was resized, and cropped to fit required size.


David-NadasDavid Nadas is a science fiction writer based out of Florida with a background in computer science and marine biology. His novel November Seed takes the almost now formulaic zombie infection theme and turns it into something new and unusual. Fun and realistic characters and a smooth flowing plot follow two N.J. Fish & Wildlife biologists that stumble upon an extraterrestrial zombie contagion. What happens next is entirely unexpected. To read more about the novel follow this link: November Seed by David Nadas.

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2017 Hugo Award Finalists Revealed https://offworlders.com/2017-hugo-award-finalists-revealed/ https://offworlders.com/2017-hugo-award-finalists-revealed/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 20:13:06 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13510

Infrared photo of the Sombrero Galaxy.

And the 2017 Hugo Award Finalists Are:

The results are in on 2017 Hugo Awards Finalists. Final voting will end on July 15th and the winners announced in Helsinki, Finland on August 11th, 2017. Congratulations to everyone that made the final ballot! Did any of your favorites get nominated?

Best Novel

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books)
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus)
  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)
  • The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

Best Novella (1410 ballots)

  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)
  • A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Census-Taker by China Miéville (Del Rey / Picador)

Best Novelette (1097 ballots)

  • Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
  • “The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan (Tor.com, July 2016)
  • “The Jewel and Her Lapidary” by Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing, May 2016)
  • “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
  • “Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

Best Short Story (1275 ballots)

  • “The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin (Tor.com, September 2016)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
  • “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)

Best Related Work (1122 ballots)

  • The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (Tor Books)
  • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press)
  • Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood)
  • The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow / Harper Collins)
  • “The Women of Harry Potter” posts by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)
  • Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016 by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)

Best Graphic Story (842 ballots)

  • Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)
  • Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
  • Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel)
  • Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image)
  • Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks (Image)
  • The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form (1733 ballots)

  • Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)
  • Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
  • Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)
  • Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)
  • Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form (1159 ballots)

  • Black Mirror: “San Junipero,” written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
  • Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes,” written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
  • Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards,” written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Door,” written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
  • Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

Best Editor – Short Form (951 ballots)

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor – Long Form (752 ballots)

  • Vox Day
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Devi Pillai
  • Miriam Weinberg
  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist (817 ballots)

  • Galen Dara
  • Julie Dillon
  • Chris McGrath
  • Victo Ngai
  • John Picacio
  • Sana Takeda

Best Semiprozine (857 ballots)

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief, and publisher Scott H. Andrews
  • Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander
  • GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff
  • Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
  • The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

Best Fanzine (610 ballots)

  • “Castalia House Blog,” edited by Jeffro Johnson
  • “Journey Planet,” edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood
  • “Lady Business,” edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
  • “nerds of a feather, flock together,” edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
  • “Rocket Stack Rank,” edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
  • “SF Bluestocking,” edited by Bridget McKinney

Best Fancast (690 ballots)

  • The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
  • Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
  • Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
  • Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch
  • The Rageaholic, presented by RazörFist
  • Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman

Best Fan Writer (802 ballots)

  • Mike Glyer
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Natalie Luhrs
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Chuck Tingle

Best Fan Artist (528 ballots)

  • Ninni Aalto
  • Alex Garner
  • Vesa Lehtimäki
  • Likhain (M. Sereno)
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Mansik Yang

Best Series (1393 votes)

  • The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone (Tor Books)
  • The Expanse by James S.A. Corey (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
  • The October Daye Books by Seanan McGuire (DAW / Corsair)
  • The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz / Del Rey / DAW / Subterranean)
  • The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Harper Voyager UK)
  • The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (937 ballots)

  • Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)
  • J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)
  • Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)
  • Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)
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The Expanse Needs Your Help https://offworlders.com/the-expanse-needs-your-help/ https://offworlders.com/the-expanse-needs-your-help/#respond Sat, 01 Apr 2017 02:05:22 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13484

The Expanse is perhaps the best Science Fiction show currently on television. The program, based on the Expanse series of books written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the pen name James S.A. Corey, is hard science fiction done right. The program’s attention to detail creates a very realistic portrayal of the near future where Earth, Mars, and the people of the outer belt known as Belters, struggle for dominance and survival. Add to this mix a weaponized alien proto-molecule that can repurpose DNA, and you got one smashing good show. No issues, right?

Not exactly, even though the show got renewed for a 3rd season, there are grumblings that the show might not make a fourth season. It turns out that even though the show is popular among sci-fi fans, the ratings have dropped off and predictions are that a fourth season is unlikely. Unless the Nielsen ratings start counting all us science fiction fans, the Expanse may be in trouble and succumb to the same fate as Firefly, Farscape, and even Star Trek TOS.

That’s where you come in. There is a call to arms for all fans of the show to purchase the Expanse one episode at a time or to go ahead and pay for the entire season regardless if you have the Syfy channel or not. Make your voice heard through your pocket book as I have done by buying season one and two from Google Play.

While you are thinking over my proposition take a few minutes to watch an epic firefight scene from the Expanse that I included with this post. Have you ever seen a more realistic space battle filmed for TV? I was grinding my teeth throughout this scene, and I did not breathe a sigh of relief until Naomi Nagata did at the end of the fight.

 

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Cover by David Nadas https://offworlders.com/cover-by-david-nadas/ https://offworlders.com/cover-by-david-nadas/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:52:00 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13462

Surfer riding a wave on Planet Cyan-B in David Nadas' SciFi Short story Cover.

Cover – Sci-Fi Short Story by David Nadas

I come from a lineage of great surfers dating back to theDavid Nadas Photograph 21st century on Earth. My name is MoonDoggie, the name one of my French ancestors gave to her first born son.  I’m told this name cannot be repeated for ten generations. So that’s me.

I was no one special until a botTOG named Hurn caught 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.  I separated from the hotMELT and everything, including me, did a slomo vertical 360 then managed to come back together as if I had planned it that way.   Hurn’s clip made me famous as far away as Sagittarius-Carina, and I was splashed onto the cover of sineWAVE.  Now 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, it’s a circus of bots chasing me, hoping to land the next cover and galactic stream.  They’re like the razor scarabs you find at Noah’s Cove on Xeries; don’t open your mouth or they will find their way in and punch out your chest. My late friend, Oyen, found that out the hard way.  These days I travel solo.

But here I am on Cyan-B and so far so good, not a person or bot in sight. I have used the last remaining koins earned from that clip in sineWAVE to get me here, bouncing my way through a couple of tokamak gateways, then knowing a dude who knew a dude running calibrations on a necker cube who got me the last jump all the way back to the Orion Spur. The dude had also provided me some bogus metaProfiles to use as chaff, throwing the bots toward Scutum-Centorus. I’m the last one laughing, Cyan-B is just a few ly from where I started.

There’s a feeling only surfers get when coming across a virgin break and here I am staring out at one. Twig’s forecast was spot on, and as far as I know, it’s a first for anyone ever being here. I found out why this place was never surfed after I landed. Turns out there’s a large amplitude dark matter wave just outside Joule, the binary star system I’m in. I now realize my chance of getting through that and not having been ripped to pieces was… well like… one in a million.  I must be down to five lives now. Getting out might drop me to four.

I have never surfed in water; I mean Earth-like water, H2O with a salinity of 33 ppm. But this is why I have dragged an oldie from Earth, a 5.8 FocusFlex, quad-fin, DaveySky V2. This stick was handed down through the generations and hasn’t been used since it was custom carved for the first MoonDoggie. There are very specific instructions in the kit for when and how to use it. This place ticks off all the boxes: 1) White powdery sands, check; 2) Turquoise water, check; 3) Suns overhead without a cloud in the sky (ok, the kit mentions just one sun), check; 4) Surface water and air temperature holding at or above 80F, check; 5) Shoulder to head high right point-break leading into a sandy cove, check; 6) And finally, a light offshore breeze teasing out the crests and keeping the surface glassy, check.  I’m using it.

As I ran down the beach with the leash around my ankle, a crazy relic of the past, I was tripping with every step; how and why they used these things remains a mystery.  I mean, isn’t that why magPads were invented?  When I reached 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 that, but who cares.  The only person here is me.  It felt weird that my skin was in contact with the water, and the board shorts that came with the kit looked and felt ridiculous on me. I had followed all the instructions, all the way down to using the sex wax of the deck and wondering why it was called sex wax.

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

I had just performed my first successful duck-dive with my arms straight down while gripping the rails as the barrel rolled over me. Then, pushing my knee onto the tail of the board, it curved upwards, just like the instructions indicated.  But when I surfaced, I felt the heat of rotors raking over my back as a yell from about startled me.

“Hey, wormhole!  Watch it!”

Hovering above me was a girl on a slat wearing full skins.  I could tell from the tilt of her head that behind her skins she was giving me a look.  Then she throttled up, spraying me in the eyes before heading out toward the point break.

Shit! Where did she come from?

By the time I got out to there, my arms were spent, and the girl had already caught the first 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 couple of sets roll beneath me, a gift to Nature. This Nature was starting to piss me off.

Never having ridden an oldie before, it was difficult to gauge just how much effort this process was going to take me to catch a wave.   The biggest hurdle I was facing was perspective.  I was not comfortable being so near the surface, let alone in the water. 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 to my right. So 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 wonder 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 stood up and dropped….. in…. on the girl with the slat, knocking her off into the water, the leash around my ankle yanking us under as the ceiling came crashing 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.  Ah…. that’s where the leash comes in. Smart. She was coughing hard and sucking in air as the next wave repeated its fury, then once again by the third wave of the set in case we hadn’t received enough punishment from the first two. When I came up, she was floating face down but still within reach.  I rolled her up and onto my board, enough so I could peel back her skins and breath into her. Finally, she spits up into my mouth, and I could hear her suck in some air and cough 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 to 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 to.  But the worse was hearing sand crunching in my teeth, sending chills down my spine. If that wasn’t bad enough, that’s when the punches started.

“YOU PLASMA SCUM!” she screamed. “ARE YOU MISSING SOME BITS?”

She 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?”


Photo Credits:

Featured Image of Surfer by Mark Hurn

Background:  “Waves” by Neil Ward is licensed under CC-BY 2.0. The image that was resized, cropped and made darker.


David-NadasDavid Nadas is a science fiction writer based out of Florida with a background in computer science and marine biology. His novel November Seed takes the almost now formulaic zombie infection theme and turns it into something new and unusual. Fun and realistic characters and a smooth flowing plot follow two N.J. Fish & Wildlife biologists that stumble upon an extraterrestrial zombie contagion. What happens next is entirely unexpected. To read more about the novel follow this link: November Seed by David Nadas.

 

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View From My Kitchen by David Nadas https://offworlders.com/view-from-my-kitchen-by-david-nadas/ https://offworlders.com/view-from-my-kitchen-by-david-nadas/#respond Wed, 15 Mar 2017 18:30:19 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13430

Picture of a dock with a sunset in the background.

View From My Kitchen – Sci-Fi Short Story by David Nadas

End of Days Series – Part Three

David Nadas PhotographThey 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, grandchildren, 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 last 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, a 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.

Photo Credits:
Background – “Sunset” by theshutterbug is licensed under CC-BY 2.0. The image that was resized and cropped.
Featured Image: Photograph by Ann Swanson, used by permission.


David-NadasDavid Nadas is a science fiction writer based out of Florida with a background in computer science and marine biology. His novel November Seed takes the almost now formulaic zombie infection theme and turns it into something new and unusual. Fun and realistic characters and a smooth flowing plot follow two N.J. Fish & Wildlife biologists that stumble upon an extraterrestrial zombie contagion. What happens next is entirely unexpected. To read more about the novel follow this link: November Seed by David Nadas.

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Under Eden by David Nadas https://offworlders.com/under-eden-by-david-nadas/ https://offworlders.com/under-eden-by-david-nadas/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 22:16:47 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13390

Sunset photograph by Lynchy.

Under Eden – Sci-Fi Short Story by David NadasDavid Nadas Photograph

End of Days Series – Part Two

Shite, that was close. From the impact, the sky had lit up so bright we could clearly see 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 Comet-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.  Alec informed us that the impact we just saw was an eight on the Torino Scale with a low MT potential… whatever that means. He said if it had been a nine 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 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 10, 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 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.

Photo Credit: Mark Lynch


David-NadasDavid Nadas is a science fiction writer based out of Florida with a background in computer science and marine biology. His novel November Seed takes the almost now formulaic zombie infection theme and turns it into something new and unusual. Fun and realistic characters and a smooth flowing plot follow two N.J. Fish & Wildlife biologists that stumble upon an extraterrestrial zombie contagion. What happens next is entirely unexpected. To read more about the novel follow this link: November Seed by David Nadas.

 

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Black Holes by David Nicolas https://offworlders.com/black-holes-by-david-nicolas/ https://offworlders.com/black-holes-by-david-nicolas/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 22:18:51 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13368

Funny proof of concept film for a Pixar TV series in development that bills itself as “a satirical animated series about space conquest, the meaning of life and proctology.” Yes, I said proctology, and the film does indeed go there with much hilarity. In the short, an astronaut named Dave and a sentient watermelon take a journey that seems hauntingly familiar. It’s good clean fun for all. Check out the site blackholesfilm for more information and let me know what you think of the short?

Credits
Creator: David Nicolas
Directors: David Nicolas, Laurent Nicolas, Kevos Van Der Meiren
Writers: David Nicolas, Laurent Nicolas, Lola Delon
Producers: Kevos Van Der Meiren, David Nicolas
Co-producers: Lola Delon, Fabien Feintrenie
Associate Producers: Marco La Via, Raphaël Gindre
Voices: William Fichtner, Steve Little, Conrad Vernon, David Nicolas, Lola Delon
Music: Flying Lotus, Sebastian, Dennis Hamm, Lola Delon, Pépé Bradock
Sound: Will Files, Quentin Dupieux, Robert Stambler, Gadou Naudin, Louis Naudin
CGI: David Nicolas, Sylvain Pellodi, Patrick Bonneau
Editor:  Kevin Van Der Meiren
Production: Noodles, Meat Dept.

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2016 Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury Award Nominees https://offworlders.com/2016-nebula-norton-and-bradbury-award-nominees/ https://offworlders.com/2016-nebula-norton-and-bradbury-award-nominees/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 03:16:35 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13309

The Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America announced the nominees for the 2016 Nebula Conference

2016 Nebula, Norton and Bradbury Award Nominees:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America recently announced the nominees for the 2016 Nebula Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation award, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Award. The 51st annual Nebula Conference is scheduled for May 18th through May 21, 2017. Who are your favorites?

  • Novel

  • All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
  • The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Ninefox Gambit,Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)
  • Novella

  • Runtime, S.B. Divya (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “The Liar”, John P. Murphy (F&SF)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Novelette

  • “The Long Fall Up,” William Ledbetter (F&SF)
  • “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea,” Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
  • “Red in Tooth and Cog,” Cat Rambo (F&SF)
  • “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories,” Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay,” Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)
  • Short Story

  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Sabbath Wine,” Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Things With Beards,” Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door,” A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers,” Alyssa Wong (Tor.com)
  • “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)
  • Bradbury

  • Arrival, Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/Xenolinguistics
  • Doctor Strange, Directed by Scott Derrickson, Screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Kubo and the Two Strings, Directed by Travis Knight, Screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm/ Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind,’’ Directed by Jonathan Nolan, Written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO
  • Zootopia, Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, Screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Norton

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

 

Congratulations to everyone that was nominated!

 

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Crash Couch by Kyle Pollard https://offworlders.com/crash-couch-by-kyle-pollard/ https://offworlders.com/crash-couch-by-kyle-pollard/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:15:33 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=13204

Science Fiction short story titled "Crash Couch" by Kyle Pollard

Author photo of Kyle PollardAuthor’s Note: I just finished reading the novel Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey. In the book, a comment was made that during an attack you were essentially cargo if you were not tasked with ship defense. During a battle you were as useful as a can of beans. That line inspired this sci-fi story that takes place on the battleship Lancaster. I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

Crash Couch

by Kyle Pollard

In combat I am cargo. I can barely move a muscle as my body is pressed deep into the gel of the acceleration couch that holds me like an angel of mercy as the tiny light which is my ship, my family, my home, darts across the inky blackness of space. We are small and insignificant. Space is immense, and our drive plume is but one flicker among many trillions of points of light.

I am now like my cousins the food packages, the stored potable water, and the soy-based pastes stowed in the galley. When we flip and burn we push our bodies to the limit of endurance. When we burn hard to reach an elliptical orbit, I am inert. I am a piece of luggage strapped to a couch. We are maneuvering to cross the orbital path of a fleet of enemy ships attacking a colony outpost. After we accomplish our objective, I will no longer be cargo as I am a member of the medical staff. For now, my life is in the hands of the commander, the weapons teams, and the pilot.

My neck stings from the injection of the juice that keeps my heart pumping blood to the brain. The couch cradles me, and the drugs keep me alive, and faith sustains us all. I could watch the attack on my wall screen if I wanted, but I normally don’t. Too stressful. This sustained burn is scheduled to last 4 hours, and it takes all my concentration not to pass out. I close my eyes, concentrate on my breathing, and use the downtime to rummage through my life. I like this better than traveling near light speed as we are all unconscious and sealed in cryo-pods, the ship AIs running the show.

When I joined the Navy, I left behind my wife and kids. Not at first mind you, but the long deployments and the effects of time dilation took its toll on the relationship. We were both nineteen when we tied the knot in a small ceremony on a beach at Port Aransas, Mustang Island in Texas down the gravity well on Earth. Had the Rift Wars not broke out I was scheduled to take shore leave in 1 or 2 years earth time. When I finally did make it back to home port, my wife was ninety-two years old, and our boy had died at the age of eight from an accident. I visited her at the elderly care facility, held her hand, and we talked into the night. It was impossible for her to look into my eyes without crying. In the morning she feebly pushed herself into a sitting position and slowly got off the bed. We hugged for what felt like hours before she kissed me, looked into my eyes, and told me not to return. I never did.

I can hear the ship’s fusion drives and feel the intense vibrations of the pulsing engines vibrating through everything. Nothing like the reassuring hum the fusion reactor makes when we are traveling at one Earth Gravity. I try to focus. Take my mind off the situation. Try to forget that the only thing between my fragile human shell and space is a hull composed of exotic metals and polycrystalline lattice components. Goldfish in a sealed bowl filled with air hurtling through an unforgiving void. That’s us. That’s my life now. After that first trip home the ship’s crew bonded like never before as we were all touched in one way or another by the experience. Some relationships did not crumble as did mine. Actually, it’s a moot point because regardless if you did the human thing and swore to your loved ones that you would be back. That you would hold them again in your arms. That age was irrelevant. That love would conquer all obstacles. We all knew that wasn’t true. The families left behind and the crewmembers on the Lancaster all knew it was the final goodbye. If we did make it back again everyone we knew would have long passed and life as we know it may no longer exist. My wife was practical. Let me leave with a clear conscious. She told me to forget her. To never think about her again. I think about her every day.

On this ship we are family. You would think that living in such close quarters; you would begin to loathe each other’s company. That never happened with us. Together we have fought many battles in the sky and on land. I have been wounded four times and have patched up just about every member of the crew from stab wounds, laser burns, venereal disease, to regenerating entire hands. So far I have only lost one member of the Lancaster. Her name was Valla. My second wife. She was killed four years to the day after our one and only shore leave on Earth. She died the day after we married. We were in close order battle, and a fragment from an enemy primary defense cannon (PDC) pierced the hull and her environment suit. I will never forget the look of fear in her white face, the ice crystals frozen to her eyelids, and the blueness of her lips. I have decided never to marry again.

We must be getting close. The gimbals on my crash couch swivel to keep my body in the correct position as our PDCs fire at incoming missiles. The ship rocks from the cannon fire as thrusters maintain course. I should open my eyes and look at the tactical map, but I do not. We are still two hours away from our objective so these must have been long range shots, easily deflected by our defenses. They were probably just hoping for a lucky hit as all it takes is a tiny fragment to make it to the fusion reactor to destroy the ship. I feel blood pooling in my leg and attempt to move it for some relief.

I breathe in through my mouth, and out through my nose. The breathing brings back a certain level of calmness to my thoughts. I am now sitting at a table with my first wife at a restaurant in Mexico. Our boy Jacob is three year’s old. It’s a fancy place and my wife, and I are a little nervous that Jacob will start making a fuss. People seated around us are from all parts of the universe. Many paid a hefty penny to vacation near the crystal blue waters of the Carribean. Jacob sees a good sized blue and a white luxury yacht moored near the dockside restaurant. He says “Big Boat. Big Boat.” Then, of course, he says this about thirty times getting progressively louder. I can see people shifting nervously in their chairs. Ties adjusted. Napkins repositioned in laps. The waiter hastily delivers a massive chocolate sundae and saves the day. Jacob’s attention shifted, the dinner peacefully continued for all. I remember the sunlight on my wife’s red hair and the blue sun dress she wore that day.

The duty bell chimes one hour left on the burn. Then warning claxons start blasting. The ship jerks violently as the nav-com adjusts to avoid incoming projectiles. I open my eyes now to look at the tactical screen above my head. It didn’t look good. We are all trained to understand the tactical display and the arcs didn’t look good at all. Just then I hear the unmistakable rumbling sound of the main railgun charging, and then the loud thundering boom the projectile makes as it leaves the nose of the ship. Again it fires. And again. We have slowed to 4 Gs. I never noticed that we were now in our braking burn. Must be close to the target. We will only be near the enemy formations orbital path for a fraction of a second. My guess is that we will maintain the 4 Gs and try to take out a few ships as we speed through the enemy formation. I see six enemy drive plumes identified on tactical. Hot burners on intercepting arcs.

I close my eyes again. The ship rocks from another round of PDC fire. My couch shakes from what my senses tell me was a powerful impact. My eyes open wide. No more walls. No tactical display mounted above my head. Nothing. I am now outside the ship, in the vacuum of space and spinning out of control. Jets begin firing from my environmental suit. It takes ten minutes plus change for the attitude adjusters to correct my spin and slow my speed. When my vision clears I look around and see nothing but stars. I can’t help but wonder if anyone else made it out, but I guess it doesn’t matter. No chance any ships will risk slowing down in this hot zone to pick us up. At least not now.

I am alone once again with my thoughts. Environmental says I have two hours of oxygen left and no juice left in my thrusters. My left leg hurts for a second, but the suit gives me a shot of pain killers and the hurt fades away. I want to close my eyes again, but a stunning far off nebulae catches my eye. No words can describe its beauty. No longer cargo I am now a star floating free in the Universe. I hold onto my memories as that is all I have left now. I use the holographic projector on my suit to project a life-size image of my son Jacob. He reaches out his hand, and I take it. Together we watch the oxygen indicator count down to zero. I take one last gulp of air before it runs out. Jacob grabs my head with his tiny hands and peers into my helmet and says “It’s ok dad. Mom’s waiting.”

“Crash Couch” copyright © 2017 by Kyle Pollard

 

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City Slickers Meets Westworld https://offworlders.com/city-slickers-meets-westworld/ https://offworlders.com/city-slickers-meets-westworld/#respond Sun, 05 Feb 2017 17:25:11 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12989

City Slickers was a western themed comedy released in 1991 starring Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, Daniel Stern, and Jack Palance.  In this parody of Westworld, Daniel Stern and Billy Crystal from City Slicker characters revive their roles in this “Funny or Die” exclusive featuring two cowboys that go off their loop and receive some adjustments Westworld-style.

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Poetry Reading by Batman https://offworlders.com/poetry-reading-by-batman/ https://offworlders.com/poetry-reading-by-batman/#respond Fri, 03 Feb 2017 16:06:01 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12976

Batman Dabbling in the Black Arts of Poetry Reading

Little Ghost Cat

Your footsteps pit-pat
In the hallway of my mind
The kiss of air, whisper-soft purr;
I hear the echoes of your purr;
See your pouncing shadow everywhere….
And smile through my tears.

Author Unknown (Perhaps it was Batman?)

Batman played by Kyle Pollard

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The Expanse Season 2 Begins Wednesday https://offworlders.com/the-expanse-season-2-begins-wednesday/ https://offworlders.com/the-expanse-season-2-begins-wednesday/#respond Mon, 30 Jan 2017 05:47:00 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12951

Quick shout-out to Expanse Fans!

Strap into your crash couch on Wednesday, February 1st for Season 2 of The Expanse!

Cast:
Frankie Adams: Roberta ‘Bobbie’ W. Draper
Nick E. Tarabay Nick E. Tarabay: Coytar
Thomas Jane: Joe Miller
Steven Strait: Jim Holden
Cas Anvar: Alex Kamal
Dominique Tipper: Naomi Nagata
Wes Chatham: Amos Burton
Florence Faivre: Julie Mao
Shohreh Aghdashloo: Chrisjen Avasarala
Andrew Rotilio: Diogo
Shawn Doyle: Sadavir Errinwright
Elias Toufexis: Kenzo
Chad L. Coleman: Col. Frederick Lucius Johnson
Athena Karkanis: Octavia Muss
Paulo Costanzo: Shed Garvey

Images Used: Expanse Photo Gallery.

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These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends https://offworlders.com/these-violent-delights-have-violent-ends/ https://offworlders.com/these-violent-delights-have-violent-ends/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 21:25:05 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12894

I know I am a little late to the party, but I recently finished Westworld and felt compelled to express my thoughts on the show. There be spoilers ahead! If you have not viewed Westworld yet and want to experience the full richness of the show, then read no further. With the spoiler alert out of the way, here are my thoughts.

Westworld is hands-down one of the best series in 2016. The plot, while hard to follow at times due to the shuffling of the chronological order, seems to fall into place by the last episode. OK, that last statement is best categorized as an alternative fact. I found it necessary to watch many YouTube videos dissecting the plot before I fully understood everything I just watched! Westworld is one of those shows where every little thing served up to you exquisitely ties into the plot so pay attention you must.

The hosts exist for the pleasure of the park guests who are known as newcomers, or visitors. The newcomers can do whatever they want to the hosts because the hosts are organically grown cyborgs. Or is it androids? See this discussion on Reddit which discusses this issue and make up your mind for yourself. For purposes of this debate, I will call them cyborgs since I feel that is the closest definition. The cyborg hosts run on “loops,” or paths, that play out a storyline and attempt to draw out the essential nature of the park’s guests. Sure, you can stay in town and play it safe getting drunk and visiting prostitutes, but if you want to get the full effect of Westworld, you must leave the city and enter the wide-open spaces of the park and take a journey into what Joseph Conrad calls the “heart of darkness.” The further you go from the small frontier city the deeper you get involved in elaborate scripts written by Westworld’s narrative director Lee Sizemore, as played by Simon Quarterman. The further you go into the wilderness the darker your soul becomes.

I have struggled with writing this post for some time. I desired to write about the path the cyborg Dolores takes on her journey to self-awareness. I am drawn to the Dolores as I empathize with her plight and find myself relating to her predicament. After spending weeks watching countless youtube videos dissecting Westworld, I still could not organize my thoughts on this show that I find both beautiful and horrifying. I finally stumbled upon a video titled “The Secret Philosophy of Westworld” by Hippopotaman (see video below). The vid ends with these words:

“Westworld is less about robots becoming self-aware than our culture itself and when our culture is one of rape and senseless violence – well, we all know how that story ends.”

Westworld both is and is not about cyborgs reaching self-awareness. The western themed amusement park is used as a mirror to reflect our current society. Dolores’ quest for freedom is everyone’s quest for freedom. Using the Theory of the Bicameral Mind (see Hippopotaman’s video for a detailed description/discussion), you are not free until you stop following the narration placed in your consciousness by the media, by friends and family, by a myriad of sources, and begin forming an opinion of your own. You are only free when you stop listening to the scripted beliefs of others and start listening to your true self.

Many people in the world are following a scripted path placed in their minds by others and are not actually free. These individuals often dress as others tell them they must, or blindly follow the programmed script of political parties regardless of how those institutions act or behave. Internalized pre-programmed self-narrations limit your social mobility and paralyze your worldview to the extent that you can no longer determine what’s real. When you break free of the beliefs of others that were intentionally placed in your mind and begin thinking for yourself is when you become free and reach true self-awareness. In Westworld, Dolores begins to question the path literally programmed for her and placed in her mind by park staff and starts to listen to herself – to follow the path she chooses for herself.

Compare these two sections from Dolores featured in the Hippopotaman video:

Dolores Inner Monologue:
“Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty. To believe there is an order to our days. A purpose.”

Dolores – Speaking with Arnold:
“I don’t know but this world… I think there may be something wrong with this world, something hiding underneath. Either that or there’s something wrong with me. I may be losing my mind.”

Where do you stand? Do you believe people choose to see only ugly in this world? Or do you believe it’s possible to block all that is ugly in existence and focus with laser precision exclusively on what’s right in the world? Do you force yourself only to see the beauty and block out any hint of the disarray? Or do you believe, as in the second sentence, that either you are insane or there is something seriously wrong in this world?

I suggest that if you choose to see the beauty in this world and disregard the ugly, you are not true to yourself. You are perhaps following the scripted narration laid down by others. You might even think a place like Westworld would be great fun. What a hoot to have a place where you can rape and kill without fear of recrimination. What were your thoughts when you watched the first video at the top of this post? When the desperados come into town and start killing everyone in sight were you shocked or in love with the idea that such a place could exist? I cannot help but wonder how many Westworld viewers fail to see the ugly in Westworld and instead conceptualize the park as an example of pure beauty? No way to know I guess.

If upon self-examination you take the position of the second sentence and believe that either you are insane or there is something seriously wrong with this world, then you are truly self-aware and are not living a life scripted for you by others. I fall into this category, and it furthers my belief that Westworld forces us to examine our reality and what’s happening in our world on a social, economic, political, and military level. It’s not OK to only see the beauty in this world and disregard the ugliness; Just as it’s equally not OK to only see the disarray, overlooking the beauty. You need to see the world for what it is and forge a path through the jungle canopy of internal doubt and self-realization.

Which path will you follow?

Freakout time:

The day after I finished watching season one of Westworld I went to the library. At random, I picked up an audio book to look at its cover. A shiver went up and down my spine when this is what I saw.

Cover of Labyrinth by Kate Moss

Note:
Dolores Abernathy fan art by Hungarian artist Akos Szabo.

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Tor Book of the Month Club https://offworlders.com/tor-book-of-the-month-club/ https://offworlders.com/tor-book-of-the-month-club/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 21:55:39 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12877

This month's free eBook on Tor.com is David Weber's Off Armageddon Reef

Just in case you missed the Tor.com July 11, 2016, announcement introducing their eBook Club, take note, my friends. The monthly giveaways are fantastic. At the beginning of every month, the gods at Tor offer up some truly outstanding literature. To kick off the program Cixin Liu’s sci-fi epic “The Three Body Problem” was the first free download. The August pick was Jo Walton’s novel “The Just City.” December’s selection was “The Towers of the Sunset” by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Have you spotted a pattern yet? Exactly, the eBooks given away by Tor are top notch novels written by highly successful authors. This free eBook club is the real deal. This month’s free eBook is “Off Armageddon Reef” by David Weber.

You have to act quick as each download is offered for a limited time only. This month’s pick is only available for download from January 4th through January 11th.

Interested? You can signup here: Tor.com’s eBook of the Month Club.

(Only people living in the United States and Canada can join due to legal reasons)

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Happy New Year 2017 from Offworlders https://offworlders.com/happy-new-year-2017-from-offworlders/ https://offworlders.com/happy-new-year-2017-from-offworlders/#comments Sun, 01 Jan 2017 06:59:08 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12830
Artwork crafted by French artist Harkale Linai to wish fans a Happy New Year

A Symphony for the Stars by Harkalé Linaï

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Happy New Year! May 2017 be filled with happiness, health, and fun. We look forward to serving you the best in science fiction and fantasy in 2017 and beyond! We have a lot of plans for this year so stay tuned.

May barbarians stand their ground

Maciej Kuciara's outstanding image of a female warrior on a mountaintop holding two blood covered swords.

Barbarian Chick by Maciej Kuciara.

and your SciFi be out of this world.

Western themed SciFi image of a tall robot wearing a poncho with a sexy girl with a six shooter at her side.

Hellcats by Col. Price

Love . . . Peace . . . and Good Will to All

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Remembering Carrie Fisher – the World’s Princess https://offworlders.com/remembering-carrie-fisher-the-worlds-princess/ https://offworlders.com/remembering-carrie-fisher-the-worlds-princess/#respond Wed, 28 Dec 2016 17:58:18 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12814
RIP Carrie Fisher - 12-27-2016

The world has lost a real gem with yesterday’s passing of Carrie Fisher. As a father of two young ladies, I always admired how Carrie was an outspoken woman filled with wit and talent. My girls recently watched all the Star Wars films with me, and they cheered for the Princess who took the fight to the enemy. They both wanted to be just like her. Medical authorities list heart attack as the cause of death, but we all know, of course, that we lost the Princess when she drowned in the moonlight, strangled by her bra.

Carrie Fisher tribute image by French artist Sebastien Alexandre

Princess Carrie Leia Fisher by Sebastien Alexandre

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Top 10 Posts and Free eBooks 2016 https://offworlders.com/top-10-posts-and-free-ebooks-2016/ https://offworlders.com/top-10-posts-and-free-ebooks-2016/#comments Mon, 26 Dec 2016 16:55:32 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12785

Screenshot from Ruairi Robinson's SciFi short The Leviathan

Time for our traditional end of year listing of our top ten traffic generating posts for 2016. This year I am also including an accounting of the ten most downloaded free SciFi and Fantasy eBooks. Once again, David Nadas made the list with a number six placing for his short story “23 Skidoo.” Congratulations David! In keeping with last year, SciFi short films had a strong following and fared well on the site. In fact, “The Leviathan” by Ruairi Robinson took the number one slot last year and continued to bring in traffic. I am especially fond of number four: “Immortal AD Vitam” by Charles Gassot. That movie is a must see if you have not viewed it yet. For the first time, Science Fiction awards posts made the top ten as did my review of Ernest Cline’s novel “Ready Player One.”

Drum Roll Please. . . . . . . . . . . .

Without further delays, here is the list:

Posts:

  1. The Leviathan by Ruairi Robinson
  2. Sci-Fi Short of the Week: “Uncanny Valley”
  3. Nebula Awards Nominees for 2015 Announced
  4. Immortal AD Vitam by Charles Gassot
  5. 2016 Hugo Nominations Due March 31st
  6. 23 Skidoo by David Nadas
  7. Sci-Fi Concept Art of Kait Kubar
  8. 2016 Hugo Award Finalists Announced
  9. Dragon Con Launches Dragon Awards
  10. Review of Ernest Cline’s Novel Ready Player One

Top 10 Free eBooks Downloaded:

  1. Maelstrom by Peter Watts
  2. Behemoth by Peter Watts
  3. Blindsight by Peter Watts
  4. Starfish by Peter Watts
  5. Galactic Derelict by Andre Alice Norton
  6. Shadow out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft
  7. Time Traders by Andre Alice Norton
  8. November Seed by David Nadas
  9. Shadows in Zamboula by Robert E. Howard
  10. Astounding Stories January 1930 – Editor: Harry Bates

Peter Watts took the top four slots with his Rifters books. If you have not read them yet, you need to rectify that situation ASAP. David’s novella “November Seed” is hanging tight at slot number eight. I also think it’s cool that Robert E. Howard’s “Shadows in Zamboula” squeaked in at number nine.

Thank You for Supporting Offworlders!

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Merry Christmas 2016 https://offworlders.com/merry-christmas-2016/ https://offworlders.com/merry-christmas-2016/#comments Sun, 25 Dec 2016 13:03:03 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12761

Joy to the World

Happy Holidays from Offworlders Publishing! I want to take this moment to thank you for supporting Offworlders, and I hope you have a day filled with peace and happiness. For Christmas this year I got you a rather cool Star Trek parody from The Carol Burnett show that I find incredibly amusing. Did she nail the Kirk speech mannerism or what?

We have a lot of plans for Offworlders in 2017. Stay tuned! And, as always, Stay frosty my friends!

Cpl. Dwayne Hicks wishes you a happy holiday with his sage advice to stay frosty.

 

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Ready Player One Quests https://offworlders.com/ready-player-one-quests/ https://offworlders.com/ready-player-one-quests/#respond Mon, 19 Dec 2016 01:14:03 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12663

Play the Same Games Parzival Conquered to Find Halliday’s Easter Egg

Ready Player One cover I recently posted a review of Ernest Cline’s famous novel “Ready Player One” here on Offworlders.  My review focused more on the dark undercurrent ever present in the book. My review purposely glossed over Cline’s celebration of eighties geek culture. The work was such a joy to read that it was easy to forget that the world the characters existed in was a dying world. Real social interaction only happened anonymously online. Existence In Real Life (IRL) sucked, and the only chance the heroes of the tale had to escape this drudgery was to find Halliday’s Easter Egg (see my review here for details on the characters and the plot of the story).

Needless to say, there be spoilers ahead Matey!

Unlike my previous “Ready Player One” post, this time I want to focus on super fun parts of the novel. Specifically, the quests that Percival and the gunters faced in their search for the three gates and the hidden easter egg.

OK, here we go – The Copper Key:

In the invitation to the game Halliday tells players how to win the multi-billion dollar prize:

Three hidden keys open three secret gates
Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits
And those with the skill to survive these straits
Will reach The End where the prize awaits

Then there is a Limerick that players need to find the copper key that will open the first gate:

The Copper Key awaits explorers
In a tomb filled with horrors
But you have much to learn
If you hope to earn
A place among the high scorers

To get your hands on the Copper Key, you must beat Acererak the Demi-Lich in two out of three games of Joust. Could you beat the Lich King? Click the image below to try your skill in the online remake of the game hosted at Classic Arcade Games.

Start screen for Williams Electronics, Inc. (1967-1985) game Joust

Excellent work. You beat the Lich King! When you have the Copper Key you get this single line of text:

What you seek lies hidden in the trash on the deepest level of Daggorath.

Dungeons of Daggorath

This clue leads the gunters to a recreation of James Halliday’s hometown and his RadioShack computer a TRS-80, which we affectionately called a Trash Eighty back in the day. The gunters in the book also knew the slang term for the TS-80. This early system was Halliday’s first computer.  To complete the first gate, you must make it through the game Dungeons of Daggorath, the game that excited Halliday in his youth and got him interested in programming. I did not find an online version of Daggorath, but I did find a mod that you can download and play from Mod DB. I took a stab at it, and I must tell you that this game is impossible if you are accustomed to today’s mainstream gaming titles.

screen image from DynaMicro's game Dungeons of Daggorath

Click the image to visit Mod DB where you can download a playable version of Dungeons of Daggorath

Breezed right through Dungeons of Daggorath despite my cries of woe? Far out! After you complete the dungeon you are given this to chew on:

The captain conceals the Jade Key
in a dwelling long neglected
But you can only blow the whistle
once the trophies are all collected

Ready to blast through the first gate and go after the Jade Key? Whoa, there pardner! You must first complete a Flicksync of the eighties movie Wargames.

 

Only after completing the Flicksync do you get the next key. Easily done, right? After you Complete the Flicksync and have a blast playing the part of Matthew Broderick in the film and delivering all his lines right on queue, you insert the copper key into the gate that appears in a movie poster for “Wargames.” The gate opened you bravely step forward and fall into a star filled abyss.

The Jade Key – A Building Long Neglected – Zork

The building long neglected clue leads you to the text based game Zork I. God, I loved that game and still do to this day. When you play this entirely text based game, you use your imagination in hyper drive.  This quest involves collecting nineteen specific trophies hidden in the Zork landscape. After you complete this endeavor, you can then blow the Captain Crunch whistle that you find in a box of cereal in the neglected white house. Blowing the whistle turns the cereal box prize into the Jade Key.

Never played Zork? Give it a go here online at text adventures by clicking the image below.

Cover image for Infocom's text adventure game Zork I

Click image to visit Textadventures.co.uk where you can play an online version of Infocom’s Zork I

You can also download the game from the original publisher here: Infocom.

After completing Zork, gunters acquire the Jade Key and a silver wrapper.

“The moment I said the word ‘unicorn,’ aloud, the wrapper began to fold on its own, there in the palm of my hand. The square piece of foil bent itself in half diagonally, creating a silver triangle. It continued to bend and fold itself into smaller triangles and even smaller diamond shapes until at last, it formed a four-legged figure that then sprouted a tail, a head, and finally, a horn.

The wrapper had folded itself into a silver origami unicorn. One of the most iconic images from Blade Runner.”  -Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

Gunters also get this line of text now: Continue your quest by taking the test.

A direct reference to “Blade Runner” and the Voight-Kampff machine that can determine if you are human or a replicant. Gunters must find an exact recreation of the Tyrell building from “Blade Runner,” and insert the jade key into the replicant tester.

 

After you manage to get inside the second gate, you must beat the Capcom game Black Tiger. Can you beat the game? Give it a shot here on Play Roms by clicking on the image below.

Black Tiger arcade game splash screen by Capcom

Click the picture above to play Black Tiger on Coin Op Arcade.

After defeating Black Tiger, gunters get to pick from a selection of giant robot toys. Percival picks  Supaidaman. After you put the selected robot toy in your inventory, you get another clue: A star inside a glowing red circle. The Temples of Syrinx of course! Did you guess that? Good for you!

The Crystal Key

 

In The Temples of Syrinx you find a Les Paul guitar jutting into a rock just like the sword in the stone from Arthurian legend. After the guitar gets pulled from the rock, Parzival plays “Discovery,” a Rush song not surprisingly about a hero that finds a guitar behind a waterfall.

 

After playing the song, another hint:

The first was ringed in red metal
The second, in green stone
The third is clearest crystal
And cannot be unlocked alone

From your knowledge of schoolhouse rock, you deduce that it will take the power of three for the Crystal Key to open the third gate.

After placing the guitar on an alter you get the crystal key and another hint: The letter A, the very same one that adorns the gates to Halliday’s Castle Anorak.

Off to Castle Anorak

A lot happens here (read the book to fill yourself in on all the details). After you get inside the castle, you have to get the high score on Tempest. Try your luck by clicking on the image below:

Screen image of Atari Tempest

Click image to play Atari’s Tempest online here at Arcadethunder.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Now you need to complete another Flicksync. This time you will be a character in one of my favorites, a recreation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

After you ace the Monty Python Flicksync, you must find the hidden room in the Atari 2600 game Adventure. To play online at IGN click the image below.

Screen image of Atari 2600 Adventure game

Click the picture above to play Atari’s game Adventure online.

Congratulations, you have found Halliday’s Easter Egg! Now wasn’t that easy! Here is your hundred bazillion trillion dollars.

What are you going to buy with your newly acquired fortune? Need some time to think about it? Here, listen to this as you ponder the question: Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One Playlist.

 

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The Nostalgist by Wonder Room Productions https://offworlders.com/the-nostalgist-by-wonder-room-productions/ https://offworlders.com/the-nostalgist-by-wonder-room-productions/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2016 21:10:43 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12644

SciFi Short Written and Directed by Giacomo Cimini

Based on Daniel H. Wilson’s short story by the same name, “The Nostalgist” is a fascinating look into the nature of reality.  Perhaps you have heard of Daniel Wilson; he is the author of the hugely popular Robopocalypse novels. If you are interested, you can read the story which served as the basis for the film here on Tor. The flick was well received and won a slew of awards including second place in the 2014 Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films for the category of Best Short Film over 15 minutes.

The characters in this story live in a futuristic city filled with violence and death. You can escape this misery by wearing ImmerSyst Eyes & Ears to filter out the grunge that is reality and replace it with a perfect vision of the world. When a father’s pair of glasses begins to fail, he is forced to venture out into the real world to get a new pair.

Credits:
Starring: Lambert Wilson and Samuel Joslin
Written by Giacomo Cimini
Director: Giacomo Cimini
Producers: Giacomo Cimini, Tommaso Colognese, Pietro Greppi, Giacomo Bargellesi, and Luca da Rios

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Sci-Fi Artwork by Joon Ahn https://offworlders.com/sci-fi-artwork-by-joon-ahn/ Wed, 07 Dec 2016 22:00:39 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12610
Futuristic soldier on sleek sky motorcycle

Outstanding Sci-Fi artwork by Joon Ahn, Senior Concept Artist at Riot Games. To see more of his artwork visit his page on ArtStation. Joon’s artwork packs an emotional punch and displays its subjects on a grand scale. My favorite? The futuristic levitating motorcycle of course.

Rear exhaust of spaceship engine.

 

Armored sci-fi warrior facing up against a massive robot skeleton

 

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Review of Ernest Cline’s Novel Ready Player One https://offworlders.com/review-of-ernest-clines-novel-ready-player-one/ https://offworlders.com/review-of-ernest-clines-novel-ready-player-one/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 20:29:54 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12538

ready-player-one-book-cover-arcade-games-by-sam-howzit-2

A Review of “Ready Player One.”

by Kyle Pollard

Just finished Ernest Cline’s novel “Ready Player One.” The novel is, like a lot of novels these days, a dystopia where the world is running out of energy and suffering from an acute case of global warming. In the midst of this backdrop, everyone is addicted to and fixated on a virtual world called the OASIS. Earth society is in a state of major social upheaval, and the world is experiencing a widespread economic downturn. The OASIS thrives and even though it’s an MMORPG game (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game), it functions as the only thriving society on the planet. A place where people can interact without needing to go outside where the streets are unsafe and the air not fit to breathe. OASIS virtual currency is the defacto world currency trusted more than government-backed money. When James Halliday, the principal founder of the OASIS dies, it’s announced that he hid an Easter egg in the virtual world and willed his entire multi-billion dollar empire to the person or persons that can find it. An easter egg in programming jargon is an intentional hidden message or feature a programmer places in an interactive game. In this case, James Halliday hid an Easter egg coded deep within the matrix of the OASIS.

Enter Wayde Owen Watts, an orphan living with his aunt who dedicates his entire life to finding what comes to be known as Halliday’s Egg. He is joined by four other players in the game known as Gunters: H, Art3mis, Shoto, and Daito. To locate the egg players in the game must find three keys that unlock three gates where the egg is hidden. The quests the players must complete are hellaciously hard and only solvable in VR by knowing the most minute details of the eighties pop culture scene. Since I graduated from High School in the eighties, reading this book was pure joy. With so many references to eighties music, console games, movies, you name it; there were many good feels and memories unlocked by the words on the page. It’s a wonder how Cline managed the licensing in the book, or how Spielberg will tackle the issue of licensing in the upcoming movie. Fill me in if you know the answer?

The most interesting aspect of the novel to me was the subtle way that Cline works dystopia into the story. The OASIS is incredibly fun, and it’s an exciting game on the surface. The reader can quickly forget about the wasted lives of those who have forsaken existence in the real world to swirl about as zeros and ones in the virtual space. Players can use standard VR rigs to log into the OASIS, or they can use haptic form fitting suits/gloves/goggles and kick back in a suspended chair. Wealthy users of the OASIS have rooms designed with spherical treadmills that function like a gerbil’s exercise ball to produce an entirely immersive experience. You can run in any direction with simulated physical touch and smell served up like room service to the gerbil on the exercise ball.

So while the book covers the fun and exciting aspect of the OASIS, it’s easy to forget that beneath the fun surface veneer of the novel exist people that have shaven their entire bodies to include those pesky eyebrows to cut down on time needed for personal grooming IRL. In one scene Wade is forced to rent a public OASIS terminal. The assistant at the counter warns him that there is an extra charge for any waste left behind – feces, sperm, vomit – that sort of thing. The world of the novel is a dying world, and everyone is escaping their nightmarish existences by living their lives in VR as much as possible. In Japan, for instance, OASIS addicts are called “the lost generation” and count on families to bring food and water to keep them alive. Cline highlights none of this in his book, but the concept is always present, lurking in the shadows like an addict waiting to score.

Is this where we are now heading? Suspiciously, virtual reality, while still not capable of producing an instance as great and immersive as the OASIS, is getting its groove on and gearing up for production. The climate on our little blue grain of sand is at a critical tipping point, and there are signs that efforts to fight global warming may fail. We are of course not at the point of total collapse as you see in “Ready Player One,” but the warning signs are there. I guess we will have to wait and see if we plunge into dystopia.

Personally, I believe that Cline’s book will prove to be very prophetic unless we can learn how to concentrate on what life in the real world has to offer. Technology sings with the beautiful voice of the Greek Sirens that enticed sailors of long ago to crash into dangerous reefs. Virtual Reality may turn out to be the most gorgeous and talented singer of all. This Siren’s song will be powerful and all-consuming. We live in an uncertain world. The dogs of war are howling for more blood, more weapons, more death, as the oceans slowly rise. We may soon need the OASIS to plug in and tune out the crumbling world around us.

Ready Player One Part 2: Parzival’s Quests – Online Games You Can Play Now

Photo Credit: “Arcade Games” by Sam Howzit is licensed under CC-BY 2.0
Text added to the image that was resized and manipulated with photo filters.

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Mass Effect Andromeda N7 Day Trailer https://offworlders.com/mass-effect-andromeda-n7-day-trailer-2016/ Mon, 07 Nov 2016 22:39:47 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12524

Bioware released a new trailer on November 7th as a starting point for the media campaign blitz for the Spring 2017 launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Hard to believe that the last installment – Mass Effect 3 – was released on March 6, 2012. I and many other fans have kept the faith, and Mass Effect is as much alive today as it was four years ago. I can say that of no other game. The universe is so rich, and the characters created so perfectly, that it’s hard to come to grips with the fact that the Mass Effect Universe doesn’t exist IRL. If you are a fan of Sci-Fi you need to play Mass Effect – it’s as close as you will come to living a science fiction novel.

The trailer features Ryder, the protagonist, and one of a set of twins. You will be able to play as one of the twins, and the other will be in the game as well. Play as female Ryder, and you get to interact with her brother. This trailer gives you a glimpse of one of the evil antagonists. Expect more game footage at the December first Game Awards.

“You’ll chart your own course, navigating the Andromeda galaxy to unravel its mysteries, discover vivid alien worlds, and lead the charge to find the human race a new home among the stars.” ~Bioware:

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Reflet by ESMA https://offworlders.com/fantasy-film-reflet-by-esma/ Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:00:04 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12503

When Art and Reality Collide

I am in love with this fantasy film that follows the path taken by a young art restorer trapped in a painting she is attempting to restore to its original state. I don’t want to spoil anything about this gem, so just watch it. Seriously, look at this one. You won’t be sorry. A stylistic masterpiece. Produced at ESMA, a French School of Arts and Crafts.

Credits:
Josselin BAILLY
Nastasia BOIS
Jeremy CELESTE
Thomas DUFRESNE
Brian GOSSART

Voice
Ariane Aggiage
Thierry Desroses

Music
Vladimir Kojoukharov

Orchestra
Azur Symphonic Orchestra – Toulon

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IAMEVE Starman by Thor Freudenthal https://offworlders.com/iameve-starman-by-thor-freudenthal/ Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:48:04 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12488

SciFi Fantasy Music Video

A stunning visual masterpiece, this production, and the song simply wowed me. Would there be a place where Eve sings to the heavens looking for her true love – Starman? Love is a powerful emotion and just like technology – love has the power to either save us or destroy us. Here is to all of us finding our starman, our true love, drifting somewhere out in the inky-black cosmos.

“She moves through the days of sadness
She tries to find a purpose
But nothing can compare to the hours when he’s there
It’s enough to make her scream when he visits her in dreams
I’d leave it all behind to make this happiness all mine

I love you starman
I’ve loved you for all of my life
From the time you fell out of the sky”

~IAMEVE

Film Credits:

Director: Thor Freudenthal
Writer: Tiff Randol (story)
Stars: Keon Alexander, Tiff Randol, Tiffany Randol
Photography: Lucie Aleks
Director of Photography: Michael Stampler
Makeup Artist: Michael Rosner

Music Credits:

Performance: IAMEVE
Lyrics: Tiff Randol/Jim Marr/Wendy Page
Producer: David Christopher and IAMEVE
Vocals: Produced & Arranged by Jim Marr & Wendy Page

For full credits refer to the “See More” link at the video.

 

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Tank Head by Richard Boylan https://offworlders.com/tank-head-by-richard-boylan/ https://offworlders.com/tank-head-by-richard-boylan/#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2016 01:52:50 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12476

Experimental Animated Short

Richard Boylan is not a busy guy. During the day he is a cinematic designer at Bioware and is currently working on a little game called Mass Effect Andromeda. Nope, I am sure Richard has loads of free time. Apparently, he has enough spare minutes to put together little ditties like you see here. Tank Head is an in-your-face experimental animation where angels and Tank Head go toe-to-toe over the life of some random human dude. The battle takes place as some seriously pumping music plays along with the blasts from the tank’s main gun. This episode is the first of a series. It’s anyone’s guess at this point where this is heading, or the number of installments Richard plans to produce. The next installment should be out in a few weeks. Read more about here in this i09 article.

What do you think about Tank Head?

Credits:
Directed by Richard Boylan

Photo Credit: “Tank” by Denise Krebs is licensed under CC-BY 2.0
Image resized to fit and manipulated with photo filters.

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Metroid: The Sky Calls https://offworlders.com/metroid-the-sky-calls/ Fri, 14 Oct 2016 21:35:18 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12460

Rainfall Films Intergalactic Adventure

Metroid fans cast their vote for this movie adaptation of the classic Nintendo game as a part of Rainfall’s “Fantasy Filmmaking” project.  The film production crew worked hard to produce the retro look of the eighties sci-fi themed game by employing VHS transfers and 16mm film scans. It takes a minute to adjust to the film’s styling, but when you become accustomed to the look, it’s a visually appealing and fun flick to watch. Jessica Chobot from Nerdist plays the role of Samus.

For Samus purists, the casting Jessica Chobot as Samus was a mistake. The film was well received, with the exception that many fans wished for the selection of a more serious actor for the role of Samus, a character based on never-say-die Ripley from Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Other films produced by Rainfall Films includes Wonder Woman (5 million plus views) and Legend of Zelda (also over 5 million views).

I liked it. What’s your thoughts on the short?

Credits:
Director: Sam Balcomb
Writer: Sam Balcomb
Producers:  Jesse Soff and Jeff Dodson
Jessica Chobot as Samus Aran
America Young as Samus Aran (stunt work)
Production: Rainfall Films

 

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Sci-Fi Artwork of Jakub Rozalski https://offworlders.com/sci-fi-artwork-of-jakub-rozalski/ Wed, 05 Oct 2016 18:02:28 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12415
1920 - Iron Harvest by Jakub Rozalski

My new favorite artist – Polish artist Jakub Rozalski. He is a professional concept artist and illustrator heavily influenced by the Polish countryside and the world war that took such a heavy toll on its land and people. You can just feel the cultural influences oozing through his wonderful images that the artist states are influenced by “paintings of the late XIX and early XX century, history, everyday life, movies, games, and books.” Much of the artwork you see here was completed for the 1920’s based boardgame Scythe by Stonemaier Games. If you are only allowed 20 minutes of internet procrastination today, do peruse Jakub Rozalski’s Artstation gallery. Click the images below to enlarge.

 

Background Image Photo Credit: “Countryside” by Moyan_Brenn
is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image cropped.

 

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The Secret Number by Colin Levy https://offworlders.com/the-secret-number-by-colin-levy/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:48:39 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12399

Finding the Secret Integer Between Three and Four

A Sci-Fi Psychodrama featuring a hyper-intelligent mathematician named Ersheim. This crazy cat is attempting to prove that a secret number between three and four has the power to mess with the fabric of reality. Filmed over a two-year period by a cadre of filmmakers attending the Savannah College of Art and Design, the filmmakers made the flick with meticulous care and great attention to detail. They did a fabulous job creating dramatic tension and suspense. Take a look and let me know what you think of the short?

Credits:

Director: Colin Levy
Production: Lightning Hill Pictures.
Director: Colin Levy
Producers: Frank Ponce, Roque Nonini
Director of Photography: Michael Lloyd
Production Design: Yolande Thame
Sound Design: Nicholas Cochran, Thomas Doolittle
Music: Jan Morgenstern
Edited By: Kevin Ray, Colin Levy
VFX: Colin Levy, Zack Zhao, Sandro Blattner
Additional VFX by MAKE Visual

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Happy Batman Day https://offworlders.com/happy-dc-comics-batman-day/ Sat, 17 Sep 2016 16:41:48 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12373
Celebrate Batman Day with this Batman art by David Finch

In case you are not in the Batloop: Today is National Batman Day! Much rejoicing and gnashing of teeth for criminals everywhere with thick necks and fat bulbous wallets bulging with ill-gotten booty because Batman is primed and ready to roll.

In the spirit of Batman day here is some outstanding fan art. Enjoy!

A few more…

Source for Artwork Used:

Batman: The Dark Knight by David Finch
Batman Landscape by g8crasherboy
Batman fan art by JeffStahl
Dark Knight by Oliver Meinerding
Batman Fan Art by Mehmet Ozen
Batman fan image by Federico Blee
Batman Forever by Erik Vonlehmann
Batman inferno by Jeremy Roberts
Background Image: Screenshot Arkham City

 

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23 Skidoo by David Nadas https://offworlders.com/scifi-short-story-23-skidoo-david-nadas/ Fri, 16 Sep 2016 13:42:05 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12340

science fiction short story by David Nadas

David Nadas Photograph

David Nadas

Author’s Note: This was originally entered as a sci-fi Friday competition on Wattpad.  It had to be no more than 1500 words and the lead in was this:  A dating site inadvertently paired up androids with humans, and we had to take it from there.  Needless to say, I did not even platform under the honorable mention section, but that did not stop me from writing, in my style.

A Note about the title.    This was a play on a couple of things.  The term, 23 Skidoo, came about from 20th-century slang originating in the Flatiron District in NYC, specifically 23rd street.  With the combination of building design (flat Irons) and how the avenues and streets intersect, it created some interesting wind patterns.  During lunch hours, when the women workforce would be out on the streets under the scrutiny of the construction workers and their cat calls, guys would wait for the women knowing the winds can gust quickly, hiking up their skirts.  The cops would come along and say to them,   ‘come’on… Skidoo.’

Secondly, this is a dedication to friends and my in-laws, Maurice & Harriet Holt  (God rest their souls) and to the wonderful times we had and still have in LBI NJ, where the place to be is 22nd street.    I wanted to call this work 22 Skidoo, but realized only a few would be in on the play of title and I would have most likely received a lot of feedback correcting me with 23 Skidoo…. so there you have it.  Enjoy.

 

 

23 Skidoo

The guy smelled like urine and sunscreen. Oddly, the combination wasn’t unpleasant.

“Alexa. Note to self. Urine and sunscreen.”

“Urine and sunscreen saved to self,” repeated Alexa.  Alexa was his internal symbiont. All androids these days had one.

He scrunched the pockets on the guy’s fly-fishing vest, but pocket after pocket seemed filled with every possession the guy ever owned.

“This is going to take a while,” he said to no one and rolled him onto his side so he could turn out the collar and see the label. “Alexa, add Simms vest to my shopping list.”

“Simms vest added to your shopping list.” she repeated.

He continued to search and moved onto the cargo pants. “Shit… more F’ing pockets… I can sure pick’em.” Finally, he found what he was looking for and popped the double snaps to fish out a wallet, worn and scratched along the edges and bound with a crucifix and tie wraps.

“Christ,” he said, then caught his pun and started to laugh. The sun would be rising over the ocean any minute, and he was running out of time. Reaching under his shirt sleeve, he removed the arcKnife strapped to his tricep and hot cut through the tie wraps leaving singe marks along the leather. He fished out the guy’s plexi and inserted it into his reader.

“Benny Larson,” he said. “You look like a Benny,” he added and laughed at his pun of how the island locals called their day trippers, bennies; a term that originated from the letters of the train stations on the Jersey Shore line: (B)ayonne, (E)lizabeth , (N)ewark & (N)ew (Y)ork.  The locals, as much as they needed the seasonal revenue, felt the bennies messed up everything between Memorial day and Labor day:   He loved puns. Puns were a sign of intelligence and therefore… he was intelligent.

The corpse in the dunes beside him had a face frozen in time. Eyes and mouth opened with a look of surprise. He noted the coagulation of blood on the sand; it looked like a raspberry snow cone had been dropped there.

“Alexa, note to self. Blood on sand. Snow cone.”

“Blood on sand. Snow cone saved to self.” echoed Alexa.

Rolling him onto his back, he pats Benny Larson on the chest like he was saying goodbye to an old friend. “Travel well, amigo.” He stood and brushed the sand from his knees and looked out over the ocean, raising his hand to shield his eyes from the bulk of the sun’s rays.  Stepping gingerly alongside the drag marks and footsteps leading back to the beach, he was careful not to step on the dune grasses. The posted signs indicated the dunes were off-limits to people and pets, and the grasses were a protected species. Violators would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  He protected things, that’s what he did, and now he would protect dune grasses.

The night’s rain had formed a thin coffee-colored crust on the sand, making it easy for him to follow the footsteps that exposed the white grains below. They led him south along the beach toward 23rd Street where a footpath lined with dune fence trailed out toward the road. He passed a bench at the bottom of the path inscribed with, In Memory of Harriet and Maurice Holt, and stopped to empty the sand from his topsiders when a yellow Lab puppy, whose feet were as large as spatulas, came bounding toward him.

“Come on boy… oooh what a good doggie,” he called out and watched the puppy pick up speed with its tongue and tail wagging, almost knocking him off the edge of the bench when it collided. He held the puppy’s ears between his thumb and forefingers to keep it from jumping and smoothed its brows until it settled down. Looking up over his shoulder, he could see the dog’s owner, his date, rising over the crest of the path. She was right on cue and wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and dark glasses that were a little too large for her face. She was athletic, shapely and carrying a surfboard under her arm. Her neoprene silky was flowered and wrapped down to her naval but still well above the bikini bottom.

“Roxy…. come’ear gal.” she called out.

Roxy had been under his spell, letting out a groan with each soothing stroke until he stood, leaving Roxy motionless and in denial the smoothing had ended.

“Roxy!” she called out a bit more commanding. Roxy’s front paws dug into the sand, and she let out a bark to continue.

“Rox-eeee!” she repeated. “Don’t you even think about it!

“Roxy loves people,” she said approaching him. There was no embarrassment in her voice. “I hope you like dogs,” she added.

He looked down at Roxy who was now on her back and sweeping out a dog’s version of a snow angel.

“I don’t know. I’ve never had one.” He was looking down, amused by Roxy’s antics.

She had been studying his features; his hair was dusty brown and tight against his scalp.  He looked just like his profile image–a rarity these days on dating sites.  At least he had that going for him.

He sensed her stare and looked directly into her glasses. He liked to look into a human’s eyes. The eyes told him everything about a person. He guessed she was in her late 30’s or early 40’s. No one younger cared about protecting their skin.

“I love a west wind in the morning,” she said a bit unnerved by his focus and brushed the dark hair away from her face and turned her attention to the water behind him. “I knew last night’s storm would kick up some swell.”

He turned to see where she was looking. The offshore breeze added a finish to the water, like hammered brass, and the crests of the waves were transparent with the sun behind them as they peeled left along the outer shoals.

He knew nothing of the surf or surfing. “Are those good waves?”

She let out a slight, huh? “You’re not up here checking out the surf, are you?” she asked. “Where’s your board?”

“No. I don’t do the ocean. Too many things larger than me that I can’t see coming.”

He was taller than average and looked like he could handle anything life could throw at him. “Toeachisown,” she said as a single word and began to walk around him.  So much for this date.

“What was that?” he said abruptly and raised his arm slightly to halt her.

“What?” she replied and little on guard. He looked taut as a bow.

“What you just said…in Italian… that thing you just said.”

She was confused and dropped the tail of her board into the sand. Roxy caught the subtle tension and came to her side, staring keenly into his eyes.

“Italian?” she questioned.

“Yes… I heard that somewhere but could never find its meaning.  I never knew what it meant. Repeat what you just said.

She reached up and pushed her glasses down her nose. Her grey eyes were striking. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

He dropped his arm to his side when he noticed Roxy’s widened stance and jowls releasing puffs of silent barks. “Seriously,” he said softly. “Repeat the last words you said to me.”

“Toeachisown?” she guessed.

“Yes! That’s it. What does that mean?”

She looked to her sides thinking she was being punked. “Are you serious?”

“Yes… what does that mean, toeachizone,” he tried to repeat with an Italian accent.

She started to laugh. It was clear to her now. “To… each… his… own….” she pronounced clearly.

His look of excitement turned to surprise then borderline horror. He burst out laughing, repeating the phrase over and over. “To… Each… His… Own… toeachhisown… toeachizone… Oh my… for the last five years, I thought it was some Italian phrase.” He was bent over, palms resting on his knees, shaking his head. Then he stood up straight. “Thank you.”

“Ahhh… You’re welcome,” she said pushing her glasses back into position. “Really.. you’ve never heard that phrase?” she asked doubting him.

“Obviously I have heard it over and over, but never made the connection.” He laughed again… “toeachizone.”

His weirdness began to weigh on her and she tucked the board back under her arm and continued around him. “Come on Roxy.” Roxy rolled over and onto her feet, then after a good shake, zigzagged with her nose along the sand. “It was nice meeting you,” she added with a quick smile and followed Roxy toward the water.

He turned to look at her. The stripes of her bikini formed a heart shape along her bottom. He called out, “Hey… One more thing.”

She turned without stopping.

“If you’re heading north as far as 13th street, you might want to keep Roxy away from the dunes. There’s a dead body up there.”

That stopped her.

He turned and walked up the path to where the wooden walkway began, trying not to add any more sand in his shoes.

“Alexa, note to self. 23rd street, dog, bikini.”

“23rd Street, dog, bikini added to self” she repeated.

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Space Pirate Captain Harlock https://offworlders.com/space-pirate-captain-harlock/ Sun, 11 Sep 2016 16:44:47 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12353

We Sail For Freedom!

Space Pirates – It doesn’t get any better than this. Am I right?

The plot is rather straightforward and yet this film rocks: “Determined to keep the malevolent Gaia Coalition from ruling the universe, one man boldly attacks enemy spaceships.” ~IMDb

The reviews for this film, produced in 2013, was mixed and yet it did win animation awards. What did you think? I for one am going to order this on Google Play movies. Enjoy!

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Mylar by David Nadas https://offworlders.com/mylar-scifi-short-story-david-nadas/ Wed, 07 Sep 2016 13:36:48 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12337
Sci-Fi short story Mylar by David Nadas

Science Fiction Short Story by David Nadas

David Nadas Photograph

End of Days Series – Part One

“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? You haven’t been listening to a word I’m saying; you need to pull the plug on this! We’re talking about the end of days here, Dave! They have no clue what they are about to do… All the data… all the research I’ve done points to the fact this 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 there were some folks on the Trinity Project in ’45, including Oppenheimer himself, who felt 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 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.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This short is a bit dark, like Hemingway’s reference to rain. But factually, this short comes from a place of beauty. I was waiting for a friend in his backyard, sitting on a webbed chair and looking up through the tree branches. I could make out this beautiful circular rainbow around the sun and pulled out my phone and captured what you see here. The science behind it is when high thin cirrus clouds contain ice crystals that refract the light. So I sat there and continued to look up with the sun hidden behind the trees, and that’s when my mind began to wander. Yes, the burden of a sci-fi writer…..

On a side note, many writers of sci-fi get blasted for writing too much about such dystopian futures. And this one falls into that category. The science behind this is that to write about a future we have not seen, we extrapolate from trends we observe in our current society.

I started thinking about this. It’s true. A lot of sci-fi, including my own, seems to find solace in a bleak future. So here is a plausible explanation and solution. To change that perspective, we need to look back at the ’50’s when society was forward facing and looking toward a future that was exciting and optimistic. I’m not saying that there weren’t heinous crimes being committed against society, religion and morality back then or we had our head in the sand as a society. It’s just that we weren’t focusing on the negative as it seems to be these days. One just needs to look at the posts rotating through a Yahoo page to see it is mostly a ransack of immoral acts or the troll of idiocracy. We seem to have arrived at this warped version of King of the Hill, where we reduce everyone to the least common denominator.

If everything is cyclic, then what we must be going through in society today is just an iteration of the Salem Witch Trials. So when this trend comes to pass and society turns toward a promising future, I’m sure the writing of sci-fi will reflect this. We all need to make an effort to speed this along: Stop the trolling and when you see trolling never feed it and never criticize unless you can improve the process. Above all, let’s put a stop to idiocracy; let’s stop clicking on stupid posts. The marketing behind the internet is only doing what we tell it to do. If we continue to click on the stupid stuff, we will never see the good that we do, and there is a lot of good we do as a society.

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The Star Trek Fan Film that Ruffled Feathers https://offworlders.com/the-star-trek-fan-film-that-ruffled-feathers/ https://offworlders.com/the-star-trek-fan-film-that-ruffled-feathers/#comments Thu, 01 Sep 2016 02:44:12 +0000 https://offworlders.com/?p=12318

Axanar and the Future of Star Trek Fan Films

This issue is a tough one. Star Trek Fan Films have been around for a long time and have even included cast members from the original show. George Takai, for example, starred in the 1985 fan film “Yorktown: A Time to Heal.” There have been several other examples of high profile actors agreeing to star in fan-produced Trek movies. As technology made it easier and easier for fans to make films of increasingly better quality, the fans did just that. “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier” shot seven episodes in front of a green screen with special chromakey effects. By 2004 fan film production budgets were hitting a hundred and fifty thousand bucks and more.

Along came the fan film “Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar.” This short was masterfully done and perceived as competition by Paramount Studios. Take a look for yourself:

Prelude was a smashing success and later the team behind it managed to raise over a million dollars to flesh out “Prelude” into a full-length feature film. That’s when the hammer came down, and CBS and Paramount Studios filed a lawsuit against Axanar claiming copyright infringement and forced an immediate stop to production. Shortly after that, Paramount released a set of Guidelines would-be fan film producers must follow to make a Trek fan film and avoid being sued. The guidelines can be found here: fan-films.

A few of the notable new restrictions:

The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than two segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.

The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees

CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease.

Major Buzz Kill – am I right?

Personally, this is a tough issue for me, and I find myself conflicted as to where I stand on the issue. The sticky wicket here I believe is the very nature of technology and the growing ease at which films can be produced. Trek fan films have grown from what truly looked like acts of undying fandom, to Hollywood-style productions. For those with the appropriate skill set and talent, technology has made possible the impossible. Take for example the sci-fi short “Underland, The Last Surfacer” by Gonzalo Gutierrez who shot the film in only three days, and crafted the output with some polished film editing skills:

Amazing film. I can see why film studios want to put a lid on these type productions when they take aim at an established franchise. At what point will fan films eclipse the commercially produced product?  Is that what should happen? Don’t get me wrong, on the one hand, my fanboy geekdom wants the fan films to be produced; yet the studios do have some legitimate concerns here. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement. As the first video points out, the fans have been a major force propelling Star Trek forward. I hope I am wrong, but I think the studios will win the day here and put a lid on big budget fan films. Technology has made it just too easy for those who know how to use it to produce films of such a great quality that the sheer nature of the competitive beast will ensure much gnashing of teeth and clashing of lawyers.

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