SavaagePlanets, May 2021

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Contents Signals from the Stellar Core


Vanaheim Station


The General


Planetary Communiqué


Sci-Fi Entertainment


The Castle Ships of Thresyclose


Poems from Imaginaria


Galactic Graphica


Future Artifacts




Hash/Tag Heartbreak




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Editor in Chief Steven S. Behram

Fiction Editor Keith "Doc" Raymond

Poetry Editor Angela Yuriko Smith

Art Editor B.O.B.




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From The

Stellar Core

By Steven S Behram, MD Editor-In-Chief

We are in the business of speculation, and, at its heart, science fiction has always been about speculation. It is about the choices and the directions we take and where that journey ultimately takes us. It has been called the “literature of ideas” but it is really just a roadmap with unexpected twists and turns. This forms the heart and soul of SavagePlanets. A New Star Is Born When we first contemplated a new publication, we always knew that we wanted to have more than just a compendium of stories. Our aim from the outset was to create a culture of science fiction, bringing together contributors and consumers of speculative fiction to create a unique and diverse community. To do this, we brought forth a platform for connecting people and asked them to collaborate. It is our sincere hope to continue this dialogue beyond the pages of this magazine and to invite as many people to engage in this venture. Each periodic publication is just one moment in time when some of the best ideas are

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memorialised. This also preserves our hopes, aspirations, fears and challenges for future generation scholars and historians to study. A Call Into the Void We wanted to create a platform for the science fiction enthusiast, by other science fiction enthusiasts. This necessitates a partnership with our readers. That is why we invite everyone to contribute to this project, in whatever modality possible. There are so many ways to contribute. Through social media, readers can submit story ideas and directly engage with writers. Readers can submit essays, stories, and art

for publication in our magazine. Readers are also encouraged to help grow the community by inviting other like-minded individuals. SavagePlanets is more than just a magazine. It is a community that periodically makes a publication. Spectral Analysis Science fiction content can take so many different forms. Signals from the Stellar Core will serve as the roadmap and a starting point for each issue. In the Planetary Communiqué we publish official edicts from the Galactic Empire. Extraterrestrial Fiction captures exclusive science fiction content from around the world.

Poems from Imaginaria is the place to turn to get your fix for speculative poetry. Galactic Graphica serves as a landing platform for our graphic novel. Future Artifacts showcases a selection of visual graphics combined with our favorite quotes. Subspace is a fan based sci-fi section containing complete stories written in just two sentences. Docking Procedures It is our goal not only to deliver on this world-class content, but to inspire you to write the next chapters. What appears in these pages next, is entirely up to you.

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Gravity's onset gives you a funny sensation, even at twelve percent. Sarah felt a little nauseous, but she had learned to hide it well as she tried to acclimate back to Vanaheim’s environment.” Sarah Hartman was barely two-anda-half months old when she first learned how to walk. Now, some 37 years later, her spaceship, now inward bound from Mars to Earth, was auto-docking at Vanaheim space station at the second Lagrange point. She grabbed her blond hair, made more voluminous by the lack of gravity, and tied it expertly into a bun with the help of a bungee she carried on her left wrist. Her pale white skin looked creamy due to the lack of direct sunlight, and her face appeared more edematous than usual when she checked herself in the mirror. She was the only passenger in the return vehicle during the long trip home. Normally the craft would carry up to eight passengers, but the circumstances of her departure

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necessitated her solo return. She fussed over herself to look more presentable as her months-long journey from Mars to the station was coming to an end. Vanaheim Station was her birthplace, but she had never thought she would ever set foot there again. Then again, she never thought she would ever be going to the Red Planet. Commander Sarah Hartman had spent almost a year in orbit around Mars as a mission specialist, supporting the numerous human colonization projects on the planet surface. The Mars Manned Orbital Platform (MMOP) provided near-real-time support for the people working and living permanently on Mars.

It orbited Mars in an areostationary orbit along the Martian equatorial plane, roughly 17,000 km from the planetary surface. Staffed by scientists, military leadership, and medical support personnel, MMOP was the glue that cemented mankind’s efforts at the settlement on Mars nearly 55 million kilometres from earth. She was now keenly aware that her vessel was matching the speed and rotation of Vanaheim Station. The station was designed as a low-gravity platform, and she could now feel the 12 percent G that was the hallmark of the station. The variable gravity platform was originally designed for the benefit of lunar astronauts. It allowed them to acclimate faster between earth and moon gravity. Now, it served

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the same purpose for Martian astronauts and cosmonauts returning from Mars. Nearly four decades before, it also served as an experimental medical station. “Docking complete, request permission to access the air lock,” she whispered into her microphone. “Permission granted, Commander,” came a male voice. “Welcome to Vanaheim Station.” The airlock system on her craft went through its own checklist and coordinated autonomously with the station. There were hisses and crackles and the sound of mechanisms turning and opening. Finally,

the odd smells of the station filled the cabin of the craft. She had forgotten the smell of people and their activities after being cooped up in her vessel for nearly nine months.

Jeanne Hartman, and her husband Paul, had been pregnant a total of five times. The first four all ended with late term losses due to a severe form of uteroplacental insufficiency in the third-trimester of the pregnancy. The doctors could offer no advice or treatment when Jeanne became pregnant a fifth time. Her obstetrician, Dr. Azar, a futurist, pushed for her case to be reviewed by an institutional review board. By the end of her first trimester, he had Jeanne medically transported to the Vanaheim

Station, which was a territory of earth. The low gravity environment afforded by the platform, he argued, might improve the flow of blood from mother to baby. It was a very risky gamble, but it was the last best hope of saving Jeanne’s endangered pregnancy. Paul never left Jeanne's side, and was with her all the time, having her pregnancy monitored round the clock. Sleep was slim for both, but the thought of the arrival of a new family member into their life far outweighed the distress caused from a lack of sleep. This pregnancy meant a lot, not just to the couple, but also to a lot of people back on Earth. While Sarah’s was not the first birth in space, it was the first high risk delivery in a low-gravity

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Gravity's onset gives you a funny sensation, even at twelve percent. Sarah felt a little nauseous, but she had learned to hide it well as she tried to acclimate back to Vanaheim’s environment. The decision to extract Sarah from her duty station around Mars wasn’t an easy one. Jeanne and Paul Hartman were killed in a random motor vehicle accident on the New Jersey Turnpike when their vehicle was struck by a distracted driver. In a heartbeat, Sarah lost her entire family. The flight authority briefly considered censoring the tragic event from Sarah, but ultimately decided to inform her. Although she insisted she could stay to finish out her mission, her subsequent psychiatric evaluation by the flight surgeon led to the mission commander’s decision to return her to Earth. The problem was aggravated by the fact that Mars and Earth were not properly aligned for a simple Hohmann transfer; the optimal launch window to follow the most fuel-efficient ride home. The problem was compounded by a number of key personnel on leave or returning to Earth for a myriad of reasons. Sarah wanted to stay and do her job, but, in the end, it wasn’t her call. The mission commander ordered the emergency extraction protocol to have her return in an escape vehicle, irrespective of the cost of fuel. Because of the increased time in weightlessness both on MMOP and during the transit, she would have to decompress at Vanaheim Station until she was physically strong enough to return to Earth and to normal gravity.

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The station chief at the Vanaheim station greeted Sarah at the airlock. His skin was wrinkled and his hair white, but he managed a big grin when he saw her face. She didn’t recognize him. But her old obstetrician, now promoted to station chief, certainly recognized her! “Hi Sarah,” he said. “I am Dr. Azar, my dear girl.” His grinned widened: “I was there at your birth, Sarah. I delivered you.”

to stay at station for an additional twelve weeks. This would allow for the passage of enough time to ensure both mother and baby were healthy enough for the return voyage home. It was during Sarah’s tenth week of life, thanks to the diminished gravity of the station, that something truly miraculous and unexpected happened. At just over two months of age, Sarah started

She looked at him blankly for a moment as her brain processed what she was hearing. Her blue eyes uncontrollably filled with tears, but the tears stalled in the corner of her eyes. He didn’t wait for her to respond: “I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, my dear Sarah.” He embraced his patient from nearly 37 years ago as if time and distance had no meaning on this station. “Jeanne and Paul were not only my patients, but we were good friends.” He put his arms around Sarah and guided her out of the airlock.

After Sarah was born on the station, the powers that be made the decision to allow the entire family

to walk! The diminished gravity at the station proved that babies were inherently born with the desire to walk and run almost immediately after birth. To watch Sarah walk and run down the corridors was proof of the unexpected consequences of space travel. Her images and video clips lit up social media and she became an overnight celebrity on Earth. Over time, people forgot about the miracle of her birth.

each step. She understood and was relieved by his gesture. He helped her sit and took a seat next to her. “My dear Sarah,” he started. “From the time I first learned that you’ll be passing through this station, I’ve been dreading this moment.” He saw the puzzled expression on her face. “I’m afraid, my dear Sarah, that this is as close as we will ever come to Earth.” “I don’t understand,” she mumbled to herself. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that have been withheld from outworlders,” he stated as he stared blankly at the white adjacent walls. “Do you know why you were summoned here so ‘urgently’ my dear Sarah?”

deliberately toward the adjoining conduit. She turned, and for the first time, she could see the promenade which was the largest single room in the station. She paused herself and turned to her attendant. “Doctor,” she asked. “How long will I need to be here before I can transit to Earth?” He motioned to a small metallic bench in the vestibule. He could see that she was struggling with

“I don’t know. I asked to stay at my post,” said Sarah. “I have no one left on Earth and I could’ve managed my parents’ affairs remotely.” “The urgency came from the fact that we knew they were closing the borders,” said Dr. Azar. “What border?” she asked. “The terrestrial governments are bickering, the way they always do, and this new guy…” he shook his head. “This new guy threatened to permanently close the border.”

“The border to space?” she asked incredulously. “Yes. That’s right. It’s called ‘the Gravitational Wall.’ As a result of an executive order nearly four months ago, no outworlder is permitted re-entry into Earth’s gravity well,” said the doctor soberly. “There are no exceptions,” he added. “We tried to get as many people through before the blockade.” He covered his face with his aging hands: “Hell, we even tried after the blockade.” “I still don’t understand,” she added. “None of us understand, Sarah,” he responded. “In the past few years, there has been an increase in tribalism and a decrease in civility. Outworlders were viewed increasingly as foreigners, no longer contributing to the tax-base of terrestrial states. They called us parasites from space.” He looked into her face: “And, then, finally, they closed the borders.”

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Sarah struggled for balance and strength even in the attenuated gravity, as she wobbled in the corridors of the station. She had so many questions for her attendant, but she could not talk as walking required all of her concentration. Her first steps were unsure and tentative and Dr. Azar offered his arthritic hand which she happily accepted. She walked slowly and

“And I guess when I was on my way, it was too late,” she said. “That’s right,” he said. “Almost a half-million outworlders marooned and hung out to dry. That’s why comms are being censored, so as not to cause a wide-spread panic.” “That explains why so many people were leaving or transferring back home from the MMOP,” said Sarah. It made sense. The people who had heard rumours or who were aware that something was going down were the first ones leave. They left quietly and without saying a word. “Not just from MMOP,” he added. “The Habitable Earth Ring Project,

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most of the earth and lunar platforms, even the lunar outposts are almost all empty. It’s hard enough living and working in space. When you hear that you may not be welcomed back to Earth, well, that was more than most were willing to bear. We tried so hard to get you home too, Sarah, but we failed.”

thought Sarah. She got up from the bench, with the help of Dr. Azar, and gingerly limped her way to the end of the short corridor to the main station. The large door opened outward to a more expansive space.

“You said you were helping people get through even after the blockade?” asked Sarah.

The promenade was filled with makeshift tents, tarps and canopies. There were people on top of people. Although the environment temperature was computer controlled, the coverings afforded protection and privacy to the overpopulated group. These were not the dregs of society, Sarah reminded herself. These were all the scientists, pioneers, colonists, doctors, and engineers now delegated to living a life without a country.

“I said we tried,” he responded. “For every one person that was smuggled successfully in a cargo ship, there were two that were arrested on arrival to Earth.” He paused as his voice cracked: “They arrested the parents and deported their children back to this station. Finally, we had to stop. We gave up. We capitulated.” He had tears rolling down his face. “I just don’t understand,” she pleaded. The cruelty was not just unfathomable, but it made no sense. “Your quarters are on the other side of the promenade, Sarah,” he said. “I wanted to tell you this stuff here, because this station… well the best of the station has become a sanctuary for refugees. We are multiples above our maximum capacity.” And I’m now adding to that burden,

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What Sarah saw, made her jaw drop.

The promenade was truly expansive but all of the common areas were packed with refugees. She then saw all the children. First a small group here and then

another group there. These kids who were all robbed of their innocence and doomed to an existence in exile they’ll never understand. And, when she looked, she saw mixed families of different races of adults and little children. These were the smallest victims to have been ripped from the arms of their biological parents and into the arms of strangers turned Samaritans. As Sarah and Dr. Azar worked their way down the promenade, a little blond boy stumbled in her path. He was perhaps two or three months of age, but looked older. She took his hand and he took hers. As they learned to walk together and to search for his caregiver, despair filled Sarah's heart. She not only lost her parents, but the chance to put them to their final rest. To stand at the foot of their graves and mourn. Tears filled her eyes. The boy looked up to her uncomprehendingly, and squeezed her hand harder, feeling her pain. She smiled down on him, seeing his concern. His mother saw him, and called out to him. Sarah smiled and released him from her grip. The smile lingered on her face, for now, they were both home, in Vanaheim Station.

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The breath of this God-awful monster was so horrible that the General almost vomited and passed out simultaneously. The stench was like a combination of female menstrual blood and dead decaying road kill. ”

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The General performed his briefing for several incoming United States Presidents, because they regarded him as the highest ranking and most well-informed individual in the entire world of intelligence. Since all conversations in the Oval Office are recorded, Bill Casey then-director of the CIA, insisted that whenever the subject of UFOs or extra-terrestrial life was mentioned, the General was not to be identified except by his codename; "the Caretaker".

The General was proud that there was nothing he didn’t know, or couldn’t easily find out, since he had the entire resources of the entire world’s secret governments at his personal disposal any time he wanted. He was fearless and utterly ruthless when he had to be. He had known and struck fear into the hearts of virtually every major leader in the world. But on this particular day, it was his turn to have the bejaysus scared out of him.

The General’s blood boiled when he thought of the new President. The bastard leapfrogged right over him in the Agency's hierarchy and they appointed him Director for purely political reasons. The General remained the Deputy Director, which meant he had to run the Agency and do all the daily dirty work while the current President accepted the accolades. This had happened to him twice. Another Director made a major

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mistake at the Palm Beach Men’s Club, reminding all the important men present of his successes. A few weeks after that man’s flippant verbal indiscretion, they found the Director of the most powerful secret police agency in the world floating face down in his favorite fishing spot, in a peaceful river, deep in a sun-dappled New England forest. In his retirement, the General had occasional pangs of conscience about things he had done out of his towering pride and ruthless arrogance. As a result, he attended services at the Catholic Church more frequently. He loved to sit quietly in the cool comfort of the air-conditioned Palm Beach church and look at the flickering candle flames while imagining his absolution and forgiveness of all his many crimes. Of course, he couldn’t confess any of the many terrible things he had done. As he got older and reflected on his life; his face looked very sad and remorseful about all the deaths, cruelties, deceptions, tortures, and dirty deeds for which he was directly and indirectly responsible. His soldiers committed these acts under his command, all in the guise of patriotism. His past tormented him, and he often wondered if it had all been worth it. He prayed for forgiveness and absolution. For his complicity in all those crimes, what he needed was a “celestial pardon” from God Himself... The General was deeply angry about the day long ago when he went to see the man who was now President. This man rose to prominence in the Agency because he was in the oil business, but more than that he was really in another business for them. Truth be told, he was the man behind the importation of billions of dollars worth of illegal drugs into the United States through

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oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico owned or leased by his Company. There were no inspections or customs involved in traffic from the mainland back and forth to any of the oil rigs in the Gulf. So it was the perfect way to bring vast quantities of illegal drugs into the country, which were used to fund most of the government’s secret black budget projects. These trillions of black budget dollars remained completely hidden from the “cosmetic government” budget involving Senators, Congressmen, and so forth. Besides, most of them looked the other way, as long as they got their own payoffs. Almost all of them came to Washington to operate like creepy little smash and grab criminals. Their plan was to steal and get as much as they could, for as long as they could, then retire with millions of dollars beneath their Golden Parachutes. In fact, they voted in favor of any measure that benefited them. Measures that most of the public knew nothing about, but paid for and provided the legislators with their extravagant lifestyles. Most of the voters had no idea that they would pay for these criminals and their spouses, providing them with full salaries plus cost-of-living allowances for the rest of their damn lives. Many, many millions

of dollars each, while the dumb taxpayers struggled to survive on piddly little social security payments in their retirement. Payments which would eventually be canceled so the legislators could funnel the funds back into the war machine and the military-industrial complex where they received payments and kickbacks. They would not live on petty little social security checks dribbling in during their old age, instead

these elected officials would live in luxury like the heartless criminals they had become. Another man, the second largest oil well driller in the world, had drilled most of the wells on those Presidential oil rigs in the Gulf, and accidentally found out what was happening on the rigs. This tough and very bright Texan terrified by

incredibly sexy young wife, and left the country for good. He bought a big estate in England and a thousand acre ranch in Argentina and sailed the oceans of the world in an enormous sailing yacht. He gave his racing car partner, carte blanche to do whatever he felt was best. Eventually the Texan retired from international auto racing to play polo, even though he

struggled, being quite large for the sport. Another friend, St. Germain, a fledgling race car mechanic, worked for the Texan when he was 18 years old. He learned of his former boss’s self-imposed exile many years later. He didn’t understand the real reason for his sudden departure until much, much later. His former boss allegedly “cured” his cancer using a large calibre handgun. When he died, the Texan was one of the largest landowners in South America, owning many hundreds of thousands of acres in several countries. The General witnessed what horrible havoc and misery the poor wretches and their families suffered while addicted to the money-making drugs. The President and his cronies controlled vast segments of society worldwide through their plan to get everyone they could chemically dependent via his suppliers, either on illegal drugs or via prescription pharmaceuticals. Despite it all, the General still had just enough of a shred of conscience left that he secretly abhorred the whole disgusting drug business and despised the rotten bastard who rose to the top of the Agency and beyond because of his management of it. It deeply galled him that this same person now sat

in the White House, where he hypocritically pontificated along with his predecessor about his government’s fictitious so-called ‘War on Drugs.’ As the General walked down the halls of the White House on his way to the Oval Office, officers snapped to attention and saluted him all the way, and many of those old thoughts ran through his mind. But when he stood before the President in the Oval Office, he put those things aside and deferentially said: “Good morning, Mr. President. How good it is to see you again, and especially here in the Oval Office. Congratulations, Sir. Now may I bring you up to speed on the world’s state of affairs?” The President sat back behind his desk and listened wryly, impatiently tapping his fingers together, as his trained monkey briefed him on matters which he already knew since he had secretly helped create most of them. When the General concluded his report, the President stood up and said. “Very good, Dick”. The General’s name was not ‘Dick.’ That was an alias he acquired when he fouled-up a little mission early in his career. A few irreverent men in the agency jokingly referred to him occasionally with the double entendre behind his back as ‘Dick.’ But they all knew damn well that this was not a man to be made fun of. He was powerful, extremely dangerous, and had absolutely no sense of humor, especially about himself. So he visibly bristled when his former ‘colleague’ called him ‘Dick.’ It had been a power play on behalf of the man who was now President, and he enjoyed watching the General’s discomfort as he put him in his place. Now it was the President’s turn to brief the General, and it was a briefing the General would never forget. The President stood up and walked

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this drug business, which he was powerless to stop, would be the one most likely to be the scapegoat and get arrested. This wily Texan got the hell out of Dodge making a run for it. None of his many influential friends could understand why he suddenly sold all of his immense holdings, converting hundreds of millions of dollars into gold when it was $6 an ounce. He divorced his wife, grabbed a friend’s

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around the desk. “You know Dick, one reason that we never really got along at the Agency, although you did an excellent job of running the day-to-day affairs, is your attitude from your lofty position. You think you know everything. You don’t know crap! Just because you have access to so much information, you think you know a hell of a lot, but you don’t know the full story and I think it is time that you got the bigger picture. “I’m sure you heard about that crazy Hungarian scientist who runs our entire secret scientific projects for us. He says that ‘Human beings, as we know them, are not native to this planet.’ That is completely true. And if those stupid self-righteous so-called Christians had any brains, or used the ones their Good Lord gave them instead of as a pail of rocks, they would realize that their beloved Bible is really the true story of genetic engineering and the colonization of this planet. “Anyway, I know that you are aware of the thirteen major bloodline families who own the world and instruct us on how to control it for them. You have personally known and dealt with many of them over the years. What you might not know is the reason that they are so concerned about their bloodlines. It is not just for snobbery, but because they need to preserve a high amount of racial purity, undiluted by too much human DNA, in order to maintain certain abilities. The reason I am telling you all this is that we have allowed you to rise to your position within the government because you yourself have a high amount of alien DNA. Essentially, you are one of the family in more respects than you know. This is also the real reason why we use DNA testing for identification before people board Air Force One. We

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want to know exactly who is getting on board my airplane. “The foolish public still teaches its children the idea that anyone can rise to be President. But it might surprise these idiots to know that out of the 43 Presidents occupying this office all of them, myself included, are related to only three men and to each other. And 36 of the 43 are related to two of the three European-alien bloodlines. We were all descended from either Charlemagne, Alfred the Great, or Plantagenet. “My own family’s bloodline is very ancient, and we have managed to preserve our special abilities. In every election since George Washington, the person who became the President is the one who had the most ‘royal’ DNA. It might surprise you to know that I am related by blood to virtually every other major ruler in the world, just as you are, but to a lesser degree. “Dick, we need to schedule a trip and I will show you some more things, but not just now. I want to make sure you understand that what I have just told you is a trillion times more secret than anything we ever classified at the Agency.” As with all the previous Presidents of the United States, he had sworn his main Secret Police agent to secrecy with these last words. Then he suddenly grew two feet taller than his normal tall stature. The President’s features slowly morphed into that of a giant reptile with slightly human features. This utterly shocked the General and involuntarily he gasped as he saw the transformation of the President into a tall alien lizard man in front of him. His many years of rigid self-control overrode his fear, and his mind searched for rationalizations of what he was seeing. His eyes swept the room looking for

holographic projectors, but the big reptile in front of him said, “No Dick, there are no tricks, this is my real appearance.” As he loomed over the General, he put his terrifying reptilian face right down into the General’s own and looked right into his eyes with snake-like vertical pupils, and added, “You will keep these matters SECRET for as long as you live or I will personally slice you open while still alive, drink your blood and eat your liver… AFTER I have punished you with things too horrible for your brain to imagine!” The breath of this God-awful monster was so horrible that the General almost vomited and passed out simultaneously. The stench was like a combination of female menstrual blood and dead decaying road kill. His body involuntarily convulsed, and he was gulping and gasping as his breakfast migrated into his throat. “Now get out of here! I need to rape some young underage human bitch, and suck the fear energy out of her while she's screaming in terror. While she’s impaled on my pindar, I’ll morph back into my real form, boosting my own energy so that when I return to my human disguise, I can maintain it effortlessly. “I’ll contact you soon. In the meantime, I want you to put some agents on the case, kidnap a dozen or so tasty pubescent human females for me to use. Of course, the real reason they are ‘recruiting’ these juicy girls will remain a secret between you and me. Now get out!” The General had faced many terrifying and utterly horrible things in combat, in overt and covert wars all over the world. But he was so deeply frightened by what just happened that he could barely walk out of the room without losing control of his bowels.

But the General wasn’t a woman, nor did he have the prestige of a rich, important family, to barter for his protection. The proud commander put his head down on his desk and tears rolled down his face. His mind considered a myriad of gruesomely unpleasant ways to commit suicide. And he knew them all… “Caretaker out....”

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When he finally got back to his office in the Agency, he told his secretary he was not to be disturbed, closed and locked the door and took out a half full bottle of Scotch from his bottom desk drawer, and drank the whole thing. As the fiery liquid burned, making its way down his throat, he realized that the many things he had done to maintain the supremacy of the thirteen families were completely treasonous to the entire human race. He was a goddamn four-star General for crissakes! He had worked his way up from buck private having one of the most highly decorated military careers in history! He felt like a miserable goddamn rat-bastard traitor! There was not a damn thing he could think of that he could do about it. If he ever dared to tell anyone in the Agency about what he had just learned, they would either think he was totally nuts, or they would report him to the President. On reflection, he felt just like Jacqueline Kennedy must’ve felt when she saw her husband shot in the face with a poisonous toxic

shellfish bullet by the same Secret Service agent who was driving the car in Dallas, after the bullets of the snipers in front of the car had struck him. The Secret Service would guard her and her children for the rest of their lives; who the hell was she ever going to tell?! Which was why she married the international head of the Mafia. He was the only one who could protect her!

Excerpted from the novel “Moon Over Asgardia” and available here on Amazon.

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Planetary Communiqué The Planetary Communiqué is a section reserved for the dissemination of official intergalactic communications from our galactic overlords to the subjugated planets and territories. The editorial staff does not endorse or hold opinions regarding the content of such communications. Frankly, we lost several of them who did! Therefore, all opinions presented are required by the Galactic potentate and its politburo.

Your Overlord Grawth (properly pronounced by humans as a combination of a productive cough and projectile vomitus) of the Intergalactic Empire could not be bothered with your miserable pebble of a planet. You are so pathetic that your destruction with a Mass Driver (our least expensive weapon), whose projectiles are composed of common asteroid debris, would be a waste of resources. I am Hojack, your underlord. First, know your place: We are as far above you as you are above the random fluctuations of the cosmic background radiation.

We are humble lifeforms whose culture and existence extend the life of your *urp* spiral galaxy. We enslaved countless systems long before your sun began to fuse hydrogen into helium. When you look up at the night sky and ponder the reason for your existence, know that we are that reason. You are here to service us. It is our will, and our will alone, that determines whether you live or die. After careful consideration your Overlord, the Majestic and Evergaseous, Lord Grawth (say it right or I’ll disembowel you and feed your entrails to a Squatch gnat!), had a thought that percolated upward at the same time some flatus filtered downward, about your wretched planet. And just like that, you now have a role in the Galactic Empire! Fanfare! Blow horns, or whatever

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you do to make a racket…. As a quaternary world member of the Empire, you can do your part as subjugated citizens: Die, miserably! That’s right, since Earth apparently has no future or intrinsic value, and since the lifeforms on Earth are deemed defective, Lord Grawth has honored you by using you to develop bio-weapons for the Empire. You can’t fight your biology. You shall be hosts to pathogenic viruses, bacteria, parasites and prions. Let them take over your cellular machinery to see the might of the microbial world. Write a new chapter in the Book of Pathogenesis. And, above all, die a most miserable death!

Edict #1 Open your orifices to our pathogens. Let them seep into your circulation, your air-spaces, and your mucosal membranes. So simple!

Edict #2 Develop your medicines, cures, and remedies for these pathogens. If you defeat them, we will know they are worthless. Otherwise, they will develop resistance and only become stronger. Remember: Your duty is to stay sick and ailing. Chronic diseases are even better. They help us cripple our enemies tying up their resources, to support their dwindling population. They can’t defend themselves if they are defecating on each other! So please, we love to see you on bended knee, gasping

for your last breath. And while you suffer, we will analyze the mighty pathogen we sent you to see if we can weaponize it and use it against our enemies! Hail Lord Grawth and the Intergalactic Empire!

to waste! Learn how you can catch new diseases, and, by all means, don't keep them to yourselves.

Edict #3

Forget good nutrition, any nutrition will do. The less benefit the better. Fast foods, plastic cheese, anything you please. We encourage behaviors that lower your host defenses.

Remember that for every disease you evolve on your miserable little planet only about one percent will survive on other planets. Of that one percent, only one percent can infect an alien race. Hence, only about one tenth of one percent can be effectively weaponized. So get sick, and stay sick. We need a lot more pathogens than you think! Say “no” to masking. Say “no” to vaccines. Say “no” to health care. Why cook your meat when you can have it "extra rare" with a side of Listeria? In fact, why have cow meat when you can eat bat? Be imaginative folks! Bad taste? Don’t let it go

Forget an ounce of prevention, take a pound of purulence. Besides, you have no cures that last long enough to be useful. Give us something really resistant, really deadly! Oh, this is making me drool…

Why smoke one pack per day, when you can live in a fog of two or more? Indulge yourself and let nature take its course. Why isolate when you can proliferate? Our probes will be watching and taking notes. And you thought we were UFOs! Now you know! Hold on, Hold on, I just inhaled one of your air samples by accident. Augh! I feel a seizure coming on. Your pollution is getting to me. For a moment, the smell fartled me. Your atmosphere is like a perpetual Dutch oven. Ah... that’s better. When the time comes, we will sweep down and collect your disease-ridden bodies and vivisect you for the beautiful diseases that you carry. In the meantime, I remain your humble underlord , Hojack.

PlanetsRising I 18


Science Fiction is the quintessential ‘what if’ genre. Richard K. Morgan started out as a ‘what if’ writer. Graduating from Queens College in Cambridge, he traveled to London, which crushed him under the wheels of the editorial machine.

primarily published by Gollancz, is what lifts him out of the mire of teenage fantasies.

Frustrated and needing cash, he became an English Language Teacher, traveling first to Istanbul, then back to London, Madrid, and finally Glasgow with a wife in tow.

In the books, one can easily track characters through their sleeves, but on screen it is not as straightforward. It took me two watches of season one of Altered Carbon to keep up with the changes. Identifying the same character in a different body can confuse, but is part of the fun. Now, though, we have just scratched the surface.

His first book led to a trilogy now known as the Takeshi Kovacs novels. Altered Carbon, the lead book in the series (followed by Broken Angels, and Woken Furies) was optioned for a movie, but became a series on Netflix. The second season, based on Broken Angels, started on 27 February 2020. In the meantime, Mr. Morgan wrote a graphic novel series called Black Widow, and is better known to video gamers for Crysis2 and Syndicate. Both are excellent games, and the comic series is strong and entertaining. His writing, however,

19 I SavagePlanets

information, and then the stack can be re-sleeved in a new body. It allows one to be immortal, if you have the funds to support re-sleeving in perpetuity. He calls those that have such wealth Methuselah or ‘meths.’ Of course, real death occurs when you destroy the stack.

He set the Takeshi Kovacs series in a future in which consciousness is digitized and stored in a ‘stack.’ They can move the stack from body to body or ‘sleeve’ to ‘sleeve’ at will, if you can afford it. This technology enables interstellar travel by hyperspatial data-casting of stack

Takeshi Kovacs is part Japanese and part Polish. If that is not an odd pairing, his career arc is even odder. As an orphan, his parents killed by the Protectorate, and separated from his sister, the Protectorate trains Takeshi as an elite special operator. After several missions, growing into adulthood, he quits, sees the error of his ways and joins the revolution.

Quellcrest Falconer recruits and trains him, the leader of the revolution and creator of the stack technology, to fight the Protectorate. This leads to a period of imprisonment that is cut short by a meth who hires Takeshi to find his killer. Now, if you think you can skip reading the book or watching the series after reading this, you’d be wrong. There are really no spoilers here. Besides the Kovacs series, Morgan wrote another trilogy called The Land Fit for Heroes. The trilogy falls into the sword and

sorcery genre with the three main characters, Ringil, Archeth, and Egor Dragonbane heading up the books. Mr. Morgan has also written a few other standalone novels. His latest work, and undoubtedly the first of his next trilogy, is called Thin Air. Hakan Veil is an ex–professional enforcer equipped with military-grade body tech that’s made him a human killing machine. He is marooned on a fully colonized

Mars after running afoul of his employer and works as an assassin for hire. He is arrested, and is saved from execution (no stacks in this world), by a hard-boiled female detective. She assigns him to protect an Earth Oversight investigator named Madison Madekwe, who quickly ignores his protection detail and is kidnapped. Veil has to solve the riddle of Madekwe’s investigation to free her. What you don’t feel in my recounting of Morgan’s work is his writing style, which is riveting. It has the grit and excitement of a thriller, the arousal of erotica, and the tension of a high-wire act. At one point, the bad guys try to kill Veil with a military grade warhead. His internal technology allows Veil to detonate the weapon at a safe distance (while taking out a city block), but it makes you realize how dangerous the man is when a sniper round just won’t do. Whether you watch the series or read the books, Richard K. Morgan is a bright new star on the science fiction horizon, whose impact might just rival Phillip K. Dick’s. Take the time

to read him and you will be rewarded with hours of pleasure and adventure.

Promotional images are attributed to Victor Gollancz LTD and only used here for the purposes of criticism, comment and news reporting. SavagePlanets I 20



By Prince Mathew Arcane League of Legends is an upcoming animated series, part of the Riot Games production arm of

This will be an ambitious project, because this animated TV series comprised of Riot Games own line

the innovative combat style of Rising Thunder, which is bound to be included. The end result is guaranteed to be an action-packed entertainment with the best high-end graphics available during the developmental phase, which will result in a stunning visual experience on completion. I am certain the fans expected a development like this to take place, especially after Riot bought up EVO co-founder Tom Cannon's indie studio with their cool prototype of Rising Thunder a few years

Marvel. Riot Games is famous for their First Player Shooter (FPS) multi-player games and others. During the Riot Games 10th anniversary celebrations, they announced the series along with a line-up of new fighting games, a tactical FPS, a card game, an e-sports management simulator and more. They plan to roll out the much-awaited animated TV series as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2021.

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up of 140 champions, all come from the Riot game’s League of Legends universe. It is currently codenamed Project L. During the brief one-hour long live-stream, they presented footage of Ahri and Darius wrecking it out on a desert background. The fans can expect

ago. Tim Cannon, earlier this year, revealed that he was still working

on a fighting game with Riot, but he finally revealed during the livestreamed celebration what we were all waiting for! When asked, if they would be depicted in the same universe as League of Legends? That was a definite “Yes!” A short summary on what to expect from this game and TV series A press release sent after the show trailer reported that the game under wraps is called Project F, “a project that explores the possibilities of traversing the world of Runeterra (as in the planet of runes) with your friends.” From the short clip of the game, it looked like it was a multi-player action role playing game (RPG). Considering how alike games like Diablo are to multi-player Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs), this makes perfect sense. Apart from the game-play clip, what we can infer is that Riot is taking a swing at something similar to a ‘Marvel Ultimate Alliance meets League of Legends.’ Punching bad-ass holes and lighting up the battles with four friends, our favourite champions, sounds rad and epic to say the least! Imagine what one can expect from this animated TV series. Again, we cannot decipher much about what one should expect, beyond what they presented in the

trailer, but Arcane looked amazing and the fans can expect a real visual treat with stunning sound effects and graphics. Riot's new champion trailers have always been a treat before entering game-play. Since they claim they will develop this entire series in-house, instead of it being outsourced to a different studio. It should rock! Plus I can’t wait to see how it all unfurls. Announcement of League of Legends as a TV series called

Arcane Like many of the announcements made during Riot's live-stream thus far, details are still pretty sketchy and limited as the project is still in its infancy. What we do know is that the story focuses on characters from the cities of Piltover and its underbelly of Zaun. Riot Games announced Arcane, an animated series set in the League of Legends universe with an extended trailer. They unveiled the series during the League of Legends 10th Anniversary celebrations, and Riot

will develop and produce it internally. Its expected release is in 2021. Beyond the hint of where the series is set, we don't yet know for sure who the main characters or villains will be. Considering only a dozen or so champions come from Piltover and Zaun, we can narrow it down to several characters that made their appearances in the trailer, which included Jinx, Ekko, and Ezreal. It will be interesting to find out who else will make the final roster of this League of Legends Universe superstars. If you can’t wait for the TV series, take a look at the graphic novels in the League of Legends universe. They have over 140 champions, each with their own stories. Where to start? They designed each novel to plug you into the time-line on Runeterra. Necrit recommends starting with Silas, but it is up to you. To get an overview of the League of Legends universe, check out the YouTube video by Necrit: watch?v=X4gKkYZ7rIA. It is vast and fascinating universe worth exploring.

Promotional images attributed to Riot and Fortiche Productions and only used here for the purposes of criticism, comment and news reporting. SavagePlanets I 22

SCI-FI ENTERTAINMENT COMA (2019) RUSSIAN FILM By Prince Mathew Coma is an action packed, fantasy laden, adventure movie that will remind you of some of the best Hollywood movies jumbled together with a twist. It will carry you through a series of events, you wouldn’t predict. Remember when you went to watch the Hollywood blockbuster – Inception for the first time? ‘Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling...’ That puzzled expression on your face and the desire to watch it again, just so you could sleep better that night knowing you understood the story better? You may expect that kind of a reaction

23 I SavagePlanets

after watching this movie! This movie has a similar feel with an added touch of ecstasy. The surround sound blends with the graphical representation on-screen depicting what is a combined world of memories belonging to several

comatose patients. Much like a recollection of many memories conjoined, they create a virtual world that is worth experiencing, at least once. Director Nikita Argunov spared no expense in providing a quality

fantasy world that is truly exciting and a thrilling place to experience. This visual eye candy entertainment makes it worth your while to watch. At home or at a local theatre near

you, if not for the story then, for its visual delights that will remain in your memory for years to come. The story revolves around the main character simply known as ‘The Architect’/ Victor, played by the young man Rinal Mukhametov. An odd group of characters aid and assist him to survive in this virtual world who also have access to this fantasy place of memories. You could compare him to a version of Neo from the movie ‘The Matrix,’ where Victor the lead character has to learn to inhabit the space and function according to the mysterious laws in this reality. Then turn them to his advantage. Victor meets with a mysterious accident, early on in the story. Only to open his eyes in this world that works on weird principles and inexplicable laws of physics. Not possible, except in this realm. He must learn to fight through this fantasy

mystery by unlocking the secrets of this world and hone his skills to survive. All this strangely happens while he is still in a comatose state back in the real world.

They base this new unexplored reality on the fantasy laden memories of those who live in it and are, in fact, in a stage of coma themselves back in the real world.

These wild memories are fractured, chaotic and unstable to say the least. The characters have difficulty remembering places, faces, and relationships in this coma world. There, the laws of science, as we know it, can be broken or moulded. Real-world science can be twisted

for or against them. Those that die while in a coma become ‘Reapers,’ terrifying entities that are a constant threat to those that are ‘alive.’ Many dangerous sub-plots keep your attention glued to the screen for hours, even without you noticing it. Will Victor be able to unlock the dark secrets and manage to identify the tips and tricks needed to tackle these unforeseen challenges? Time is running out, and he will have to fight for his life to seek that light at the end of the tunnel. Any small clue or sign that can help him get free, from this mind trapping maze. What will decide his fate between life and death in this situation? Victor must get out of this unreal world and back to his normal life which hangs in the balance. Argunov released the film in

Russian in 2019, but it recently became available dubbed in English or with English subtitles. If you liked Inception, chances are you will find Coma an interesting movie due to the similarities between both films. Promotional images attributed to Enjoy Movies and only used here for the purposes of criticism, comment and news reporting.

SavagePlanets I 24


If the King’s face could go pale, then it would have. His answer was to take a speargun from one of his guards and shoot Takorus’ squire.”

25 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

“Parents teach respectful manners and children learn them in a decent family. Good citizenship follows. Civil society starts with the family. It…” Madrigal turned to Aroha, the enormous Melanesian woman sitting by his side, and grumbled, “Great, another crap assignment.” She grunted, “How do you know?” “By the tone of this orientation. Our next police post is clearly on a planet lacking any semblance of manners. For once, I’d like a tour of duty on a pleasure asteroid.”

“Is there a problem, Officer Madrigal?” the AI paused in its speech, to address the Latino in the third row. “Yeah, how come Officer Tuatiaki and I are always getting the outpost assignments?” “Every planet in the Union is…” “Because you ain’t pretty enough,” cried a bruiser with a half plastic face. This caused a good deal of laughter in the squad room. “... important in the eyes of our leaders. Praise the Union.”

“Praise the Union,” everyone answered and saluted, dully. “Can we cut to the chase?” Aroha bellowed. “Of course,” the AI answered. There was a sigh of relief in the room. “The duty roster is as follows…” The holograms above the transport portals, lining the walls of the squad room, displayed the planet or asteroid with a glowing assignment number. Madrigal and Aroha’s port assignment was number six.

SavagePlanets I 26

They lifted their gear and humped it to the door. Laser scanner identified them and the door silvered, rippled, then swirled. They stepped through and entered the oppressive heat of a humid, Aggro planet. The waiting area was empty except for two police officers in sweat-soaked uniforms. Madrigal and Aroha looked pretty in comparison. “Welcome brothers! Cop shop is halfway down the Midway on your left. You’ll love it here. Have a better one…” the gal said, lifting her own gear and shuffling toward the portal. “Gotta love the sign out. Short and sarcastic,” Madrigal spouted, and headed toward the Midway. Aroha grunted and followed him. The departing guy turned to the gal and said, “She’s a big one. Guess someone at Central read my report. Good to know they can still read.” “Uh huh,” the other said with a shrug, then vanished in the silver whirlpool of the port. Madrigal looked at the hooded faces staring out at them from the shade beneath the overhangs on the Midway. Must be around noon, he figured, based on the position of the twin suns. “You feeling welcome? Be ready, bet they’ll try something.” The minute he said that, a tall twitchy woman with a lot of facial piercings and a hard tan stepped in their way. Madrigal could see the implants in her forearms pulsing, her muscles twitching. “Best we finish this here and now,” she croaked out with a deep whiskey voice. Aroha stepped in front of Madrigal and into the woman’s personal space, flexing her fists by her side. The woman’s hard tan paled and she crumpled to the ground. Mouths filled with ‘shh’ sounds from the shadows. “She’s got one of them Repulsor fields,” someone said. “Anybody else?” growled Aroha. She looked around and saw people drift back into their stores. The Maori 27 I SavagePlanets

cop lifted the woman and threw her over her shoulder. Turned to Madrigal and said, “I have a feeling I will like this place.” Then threw him a rare smile. “I am OP 451, present ident!” “Get me out of these bars,” howled a drunk woman, locked in a cell at the back. “Officer Jose Madrigal and Officer Aroha Tuatiaki,” Madrigal answered, both lifting their warrant cards. This was unnecessary as the robot scanned them from head to toe, including their badges. “Precinct replacement team. What do you have back there?” “Drugged and disorderly. Ms. Maden partook a little too much of the local fungus, eh Parks?” OP’s last sentence spoken with the previous cop’s voice print. “How long for the effects to metabolize, 451?” “Total duration eighteen hours local. She has six more to go,” answered 451, in a mechanical voice. “Oh, please call me OP, I hate being called by my number.” “Wouldn’t want to hurt a robot’s feeling, now would we?” Aroha grumbled. “I’m not a robot! I’m a service warden for this precinct. Officer Madrigal, did you bring my updates?” “Got ‘em right here, OP. Just let me unpack and settle in first. Oh, and its just Madrigal, she likes Aroha.” “Noted.” “Where are we billeted?” “Your racks are upstairs. Conveniently located above the precinct. There’s a Defense Sniper Cannon in the steeple, behind armor.” “A DSC?” Aroha noted, “this just gets better and better. Must get hot here on the weekends.” “The ambient temperature remains the same during the growing season,” noted OP. “Not what she was talking about.” “Will someone let me roam free, be the perfect me!” howled the fungused

female in the cell. “How long has she been going on like that, OP?” asked Aroha. “Her monologue has slowed somewhat as she comes down.” “I better go back there and shut her up,” Aroha muttered, “I’m not putting up with six more hours of psychedelic goop talk.” “I cannot allow you to harm the prisoner,” informed OP. “No harm, just a little sedation,” Aroha said, dropping her gear and winking at Madrigal. Back in the cells, the woman trapped between padded vertical bars looked like a piece of bread in a toaster. She vibrated, her hands and feet gyrating and swimming in the liquid soup of air. She was naked, having wiggled out of her coveralls. “Oh, your all kinds of big. I’m Venus. I’ll be your… Woman like you... Hey! You want to dance, sweet Mama?” Maden flirted and winked at Aroha. “I promise, if you promise to shut it.” “The things I’ll do to you!” “What part of ‘shut it’ is difficult?” With that, Aroha activated her repulsor field and approached the cage with an enormous smile. Venus froze, then went limp. “That ought to hold you.” OP rolled into the back and looked at the prisoner with several eyestalks and a scanner. “Stunned but unharmed,” the robot surmised. “As promised.” “I’ll be keeping a stalk on you, Officer Tuatiaki.” “You do that, tin can!” Aroha grumbled, brushing by the machine. She grabbed her gear and headed for their billet upstairs. Last thing she heard from OP was, “I’m not a can, and I’m not made of tin, in fact my magnesium alloy frame is…” An hour later, Madrigal, while looking at the ceiling from his bed, said to Aroha, sitting on her bunk across from him, cleaning her weapons, “So far, not bad. This tour might turn out

Coming out of Altairian space, the Castle ships suddenly floated motionless as their FTL drives went on standby. The twin torus making up the walls enclosing the castles slurped up all the exotic matter within. The exotic matter, when deployed, created a warp bubble around the city states. Compressed space-time in front, expanded space-time behind. The castle ships’ wake barely disturbed the vacuum in passing. Gently, the castles maneuvered out of their FTL yolk drives, steaming forward, and prepared for system insertion. Their standard fusion engines spooled up, preparing for normal thrust. Drive cones warmed as they split water to provide hydrogen for the thirsty engines. Serf engineers made ready, swimming through the labyrinth of pipes, making adjustments to the feeds in the fusion core. King Icthyonis lifted his fins, spreading webbed fingers, and felt the water in the grand hall command section. The slight vibration in the aqueous solution in which he and the crew lived told him the position of the fleet. By a sense alone the royals could detect if any of the nobles had gone astray, or lagged in transit. “How does he do that?” one midshipman whistled sub-sonically to the sailor beside him. “No one really knows. The accuracy is uncanny, though…” “Hail, Castle Dontanna,” thundered the King. The radio fish lifted one flipper to signal the connection.

“My liege,” answered Sir Takorus, on the Dontanna. “Scout the system for biomass. We need all we can sieve.” “Already done, my King. The fifth planet appears ripe for the taking. Much cultivation in progress there. Huge agribusiness. Could feed us all. An alien species we have not yet encountered. Not surprising, they live in air.” “In air?” the midshipman gasped. “Steady on, youngling, stranger things we’ve seen. Brace yourself for the unknown,” answered the wizened sailor beside him. “Armaments?” bellowed the King. “Limited, no military to speak of.” “Ripe for the taking,” the King sputtered to Takorus. Opening a fleet wide channel, he ordered, “Make preparations to land the Kingdom. Castle ships rendezvous on the fifth planet. We descend!” “The entire Kingdom? Is that wise?” whispered the midshipman. “Who questions the orders of the King?!” thundered Icthyonis. The water shimmered over the deck plates as he bellowed. The midshipman was about to swim to attention, but the wizened sailor held her back. The King’s question was rhetorical. Total obedience was inherent in the question. The crew answered the call, or the marines speared them and hauled off their remains. Aroha checked the satellite feed and choked on her noodles. She turned to Madrigal, and bleated, “Seems we are being invaded.” He swivelled in his chair and caught the swarm of ships inbound before the feed winked out. “What happened?” “The inbound fleet disabled or destroyed our satellite.” “How many of them?” “If it comes to a dust up, you and I will lose many times over.” “Not what I asked.” “It’s what you meant. But per the readout, looks to be thirty ships. All immense.”

“Where they coming down?” “In the belly of the Southern Hem.” “The heartland?” Aroha nodded. “Can we call in the cavalry?” “Wouldn’t matter. Whatever this invasion force has planned, they’ll be done and gone before help arrives.” “I guess that means diplomacy. Who said this would be another crap assignment?” “That would be you, Madrigal.” “Best we put on our Union dress suits. Any ident on the ships?” “Nope.” “Great, first contact.” “Since we are being invaded, mind if I get home to my family,” asked Venus from the back. “OP, please scan the prisoner for residual fungus.” “She’s clear,” OP answered after checking the woman. “Okay, cut her loose, OP.” “Thanks, Officer Madrigal,” Venus said, giving a wide berth to Aroha, who stared at the woman with menace. “Don’t see any harm in you being back with your family if we face annihilation. Just watch yourself with that fungus in the future. If we have one.” “Yes, Officer. Oh, and it’s Venus, if we see each other again.” Aroha grunted as she watched the woman leave. Madrigal had a way of charming the locals she had yet to learn. At least with the sober ones. Maybe that’s why the Captain partnered them. “Okay Aroha, suit up! OP, where’s the squad sky car? Give the cruiser a charge and cleaning before we head out.” “Directly, Officer Madrigal. Should I augment the weapons array?” “Thanks for the vote of confidence, OP!” “My scans reveal you possess limited diplomatic skills.” “And remind me, what was your

Extraterrestrial Fiction

okay.” “At least, we’re not in micro G dancing with motherboard scavengers.” “Remember that time when...” “Where’s my pretty bird?!” Maden yelled from downstairs. “Hey, you! Robot! Get me some water.” “You want me to deal with her, Aroha?” “No, I’ll sort it. I have a way with the altered ones.”

SavagePlanets I 28

number?” The robot rotated its eyestalks in irritation. The Kingdom of Thresylclose landed in a wheat field fifty kilometers from the coast of the southern hemisphere. The castle ships dwarfed the field and were visible all the way to the shore. Not only did the angry farmers approach the Kingdom, but all the families came out to see the aliens. Many arrived in weaponized tractors, others in sky cars dragging sharpened ploughs, while classrooms full of kids swooped in on floating platforms to witness the invasion. The crowd waved powered pitchforks, blasters, and fists at the silent ships, not to mention their robotic tractors stamping the ground in frustration. A riot was inevitable. In these parts, neighbors protected neighbors, and farmers were not much for tolerating crop damage. A group of alderman yelled curses at the largest ship in the fleet. Little did they know that the castle they yelled at was a barn and cultivation center for the Kingdom. The King’s ship lay on the other side of the landing zone. When Madrigal and Aroha arrived, they hovered to deploy recording drones. The data feeds created a 3D site picture of the region. None of it was good. They had no reputation with the locals being brand new and had to insert themselves between the locals and a potentially hostile group of aliens. Aroha rubbed the back of her neck, and said, “No happy endings here, I’m afraid.” Madrigal answered, “Unlikely. But if we can start a dialogue, maybe we can take the wind out of everyone’s sails.” The castle ships took that very moment to deploy their large mechanical harvesters, dropping drawbridges the size of football pitches. The huge robots floated over the field, vacuuming up the biomass and leaving bare earth in their wake. The local farmers went 29 I SavagePlanets

from angry to livid, and from there moved directly to fury. Some even threw rocks at the castles. “We better get down there,” said Aroha. “One moment… okay. Park the sky car by that group of community elders. Maybe if we intervene, the aliens will come and talk to us.” “Yeah, right! Descending…” Exactly ninety seconds later, Madrigal stood between the elders and the castle waving his arms, “All right, all right, settle down. Let’s see if we can sort this out and maybe set up trade with these aliens.” “Seems they took what they wanted without the asking,” a junior leader yelled. “Might be true, might be they just want to collect what they need, before they ask for a price. Did you think of that?” Madrigal shouted. “Where’s Parks, and who are you two?” Venus Maden asked. Her last twenty-four hours washed away in a mushroom haze. “We’re the new cops on the block. Nice to meet you again, Venus! Parks served his term and moved on,” Aroha answered. This got the elders muttering among themselves. They eyed the newcomers up and down, not liking what they saw. “Can we all just settle down, please? Antagonizing them before we know what they want might cause more harm than good,” said Madrigal. Several of the elders looked around. Venus answered, seeing the bare fields growing by the minute, hoovered up by the alien harvesters, “Looks like they are doing the antagonizing here.” As the elders argued with the cops, a group of aliens in spacesuits stumbled along, coming from the other side

of the castles. Local teens followed them, some poking them with shovels from behind. The aliens took no notice, as they were having a hard time walking on the broken soil of the field. “Hey, you there, quit it, or I’ll take you in, yeah!” Aroha threatened, raising her left arm, making a fist at the kids in overalls with the shovels. The aliens thought she was waving her left fist at them. With her right arm, she gestured the aliens to come forward. She felt like a traffic cop from the old days on Platus three. The wary aliens stopped before the cops and the elders. All eyes drifted in the alien’s direction. They adjusted some dials on their suits. One seemed to open and close its mouth like a fish inside their liquid filled power armor. A moment later, a translator activated, “Greetings from King of Thresylclose, I am Sir Takorus, we want. We take.” “Yeah, we can see that,” said Venus. “How much?” the alien, Sir Takorus asked. “Now see,” said Madrigal, turning to the elders, “they are offering to pay.” The elders nodded, figuring their percentage of the sale. “No, not pay, we take. We take all. How much?” Aroha

rolled her eyes, ‘this is where the fun starts,’ she thought, then said, “It’s asking how much grain you have.” “Yeah, no doubt!

“Yes, but what would your King want?” “More better!” “Right…” “What do you want?” asked the knight. It pleased the elders,

but Madrigal was sweating. His diplomacy skills were being tested to the limit. He realized not only had he dodged a bullet, but he might have avoided an intergalactic war. Venus spoke up, requesting, “Tech. We could use some advanced tech. An FTL drive design for one. Robotics too, like those harvesters.” “We will pause. We will confer with King Ichthyonis.” Takorus turned to his squire and ordered, “Recall the harvesters.” The other alien lifted his suit covered fin and typed in an order to an embedded control panel. The huge harvesters stopped and reversed course back toward the castle ships. The farmers breathed a sigh of relief as their crops were no longer being decimated. Hoots and hollers went up. The aliens nodded, turned, and stumbled toward the King’s castle. Madrigal and Aroha shadowed them to protect the aliens from further harassment. The elders dispersed to share the excellent news with the other farmers. They still didn’t trust the aliens or the cops. For now, though, they had come to a stalemate, and the cops saved their crops. At least for now. That was something. The elders looked at the two cops in a fresh light. It gave them much to think about, as they joined the others, congregating away from the castle ships. After safely delivering the aliens to their ship, Aroha summoned the sky car to return to the precinct. Their next meeting with the aliens may not go as smoothly. Madrigal had his doubts and needed more alternatives.

compromise. As he swam into the throne room once summoned, he pondered how the King would react. “Well, Sir Takorus, explain yourself. Why have the harvesters stopped? My instruction was to collect all the biomass here for our granaries, then move on.” “Yes, my liege, but the aliens brought up a salient point. They suggested we take only a portion in exchange for technology, leaving the rest for them.” “And why would we do that?” “They pointed out we could return annually to collect more. Rather than ‘one and done’ we would have a limitless supply at our disposal. I know how difficult it is to find biomass on our travels.” If the King’s face could go pale, then it would have. His answer was to take a spear-gun from one of his guards and shoot Takorus’ squire. The carp-like fish froze in its incessant finning, leaked green blood from its spear wounds, and rose on the float, dead. Takorus jerked his head toward his stricken colleague. He wondered if he was next. Icthyonis pondered the offer. It seemed wise. Killing the squire was perfunctory. A royal answer for not carrying out his orders to the letter. He may or may not spare the knight based on a whim. He did, after all, disobey. The killing served as a warning to those in the chamber. “Only reason you’re still alive, Takorus, is that you didn’t take more matters into your own hands. While you violated orders, you also saw an opportunity. Opportunity that required royal consideration. Sir Takorus removed his suit in the I value loyalty above all, and you King’s waiting chamber, gasping water, risked your life to bring this to me.” exhausted from his encounter with The knight swam up on his tail fin, the humans. He found the black-suitanxious, yet reassured that his ed fellows that stood apart from the death was not imminent. “By your others intelligent and amenable to leave…” “No wait, I haven’t dismissed you.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Parks got us a real clever bunch of replacements!” one elder complained. The other elders would have laughed if the situation wasn’t so serious. Instead, the cops saw smirks. Madrigal didn’t mind, he had taken worse abuse in the past. “Now, hold on there, Sir Lavoris!” “Sir Takorus.” “Sorry,” Madrigal apologized. “Allow me to point out. If you take it all, we will starve.” “Not our problem.” “Not sure your King would be happy. Especially if you took it all and left us with nothing. How could we offer you repeat business?” “Repeat?” “Business?” the two aliens asked in sequence. “These farmers can provide you with grain every year if you allow them to live,” Madrigal offered. “If you take it all, we die. Wouldn’t you rather visit every year and get more grain each time instead of one and done?” “One and done?” “Human saying, means: you take it all, and you can’t return for more. If you take some, then there will always be more. Good idea?” “Except then we must trade for what we take,” said Sir Takorus.

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We will honor their offer,” announced the King. “According to the Logistics guild, we will not need the entire biomass of this planet. As for payment, I will discuss with our knights different options. Takorus, you will remain my contact with the aliens, but I rescind your knighthood. Your castle is forfeit. We will absorb it, making it part of the royal coffers. Now you may go.” Takorus was thunderstruck, and the royal guard was quick to rip away his scales of knighthood. He wondered if he’d prefer death. What remained of his retinue stayed behind, awaiting the King’s decree. Meanwhile, the farmers undermined the ground where the King’s castle sat. Deploying subterranean torpedo tillers, it would not be long before the soil would become unstable and give way. They thought if they toppled the ship, it might earn more payment by righting it to offset their destroyed crops. The King’s misfortune would be their gain. If the alien’s declined their offer, or failed to purchase the crops, then it could serve as a first act of war. Being a nuisance served them either way. As they stripped Takorus of his knighthood, the castle fell, or rather fell over. The King’s look of shock alarmed the court as he sensed the shift before they did. Then everyone was scrambling for a fin’s grip to avoid being thrown around inside the throne room. They sent things not anchored down flying, albeit in slow motion. Tapestries flew and guards flailed, shifting to protect their liege. Madrigal sat at his desk staring at the elders arriving in his office. They were meeting to plan further alien negotiations. It was a long first day. Much longer than expected. The elders were putting forth their suggestions and demands, although they didn’t know what the aliens might offer in exchange. Madrigal would just be grateful to have his precinct the following 31 I SavagePlanets

morning. A drone feed from the landing zone of the Kingdom tore his attention from the group. He frowned in horror, focusing on the scene as the torpedoes surfaced. The castle ship fell, and the farmers cheered in silence on the feed. “What, what happened?” Venus stuttered, seeing Madrigal’s face. Her residual disorientation from the night before affected her speech. “Unbelievable! I can’t leave you folks for a second before you wreak havoc.” Aroha thundered down into the office from upstairs, “You seeing this, Madrigal?!” The mystified elders turned to Aroha for an explanation, “Your faithful followers just toppled the royal castle ship.” “They what?!” Now it was the elders turn to react. Just as things were going so well, the farmers pulled this stunt. Their jobs just became much harder. “We better get out there, Aroha. Before they wave signs and pelt the ships with cow patties!” “We’ll join you,” a few said, rising, the meeting adjourned. As the squad car made the transit, the farmers prepared their equipment to tow the castle upright. They looked a little too eager to help. Others tried to look sad, some shaking their heads, with an expression that said, ‘told you so.’ The aliens crowded the view ports, fishlike beings bobbing in the fluid medium, surprised. Farmers stared at them just as wide eyed. Alarms blared throughout the castle. Guards and engineers deployed to protect the King’s ship and assess the damage. The throne room was in chaos, while the King re-established order. The corpse, still impaled, floated about, ignored. For about an hour, nothing seemed to happen on either side. Then Takorus, accompanied by several crew in environment suits, emerged from the King’s ship, moving in their ponderous

and stumbling gaits. They ignored the farmers as they assessed for the optimum method to right the castle. The humans followed them, curious if not antagonistic. One farmer used hand signals offering to help to lift the ship, but all the hand and arm waving worried the aliens. Takorus seemed relieved when he saw the uniformed Latino and his huge partner approach. The farmers looked to be yelling at the aliens and threatening them with all their arm waving and gestures. It put Takorus at ease, when Madrigal ignored the farmers in the same way he had. The elders raced to join the police. The three aliens squared off with the humans, staring ominously. As they began their second meeting, Aroha turned to the farmers behind her and asked, “Listen up, any of you responsible for spilling their ship?” Guilty faces turned away, avoiding her stare. Several shielded their eyes, embarrassed, while others blushed and gave small nods. “Just as I thought! You idiots trying to start a war? We were just making headway when you pulled this stunt! Now we will have to grovel and beg forgiveness.” “No reason they need to know,” said one woman farmer. “We just thought we could

watching the commotion out of the corner of their eyes. Aroha herded together the elders, all wanting to talk with Takorus. Without diplomatic training, they would probably ruin whatever progress he made. Aroha paused and looked straight up, listening through her head piece. Others looked up, mimicking her like sheep. Though they could see nothing, Aroha knew a human military fleet had just entered orbit. It was a chance occurrence. She walked over to Madrigal and whispered in his ear. Takorus approximated curiosity with his limited facial muscles, but it was the other castles that answered his curiosity. Their weapons arrays sprouted from all ports. The elders and farmers, seeing the castles’ weapons priming, stepped back, as if distance would protect them. Takorus saw them panic and turned to look at the King’s ships. He called for more information on the aggressive stance and reassured the King negotiations were in hand. Madrigal contacted the fleet commander, “Sir, this is Officer Madrigal, Precinct 728, please stand down. We are successfully resolving issues with the alien fleet. If you fire, you will injure or kill many civilians.” “This is Admiral Negishi. Are you under duress? Do you make this request freely?” “I make this request freely, Veri-code 2768wf, commit.” Madrigal answered and held his breath, hoping the code and sequenced response was still valid. On the bridge of the command battle cruiser, Admiral Negishi turned to his security officer. The woman answered, “It’s an older code, but it checks out.” The Admiral opened a fleet wide channel, “Fleet! Stand down. Terminate target lock. Remain in geosynchronous orbit.” Then he responded to Madrigal, “Code verified. Wilco. We will remain on station until we receive your all clear. Praise the Union.”

“Praise the Union!” Madrigal responded completing the sequence. He wiped sweat from his brow and nodded at Takorus. In answer, the weapons array on the castle ships returned to their towers. Takorus nodded back, another crisis averted.

In due time, they negotiated a fair deal (one third of the planet’s crops for their harvester technology, but no FTL drive design), an ongoing contract, and a feast. The courtiers hovered around Aroha, fascinated by the islander. The elders and Madrigal struggled to eat while breathing through their re-breather systems in the liquid medium. The dolphin symphony played in squeaks and bellows, unpleasant to human ears, but delightful to the court. The King was solemn but pleased. He didn’t know if he would return to this planet, but at least he knew he could, and the Kingdom would thrive. A seahorse like entity kept rubbing up against Aroha, and she kept elbowing it away. Madrigal said, “Looks like you’ve attracted a lover, Aroha!” She laughed, and a blast of bubbles leaked around her regulator, “I suppose this assignment worked out better than expected, for an Aggro planet.” “Can’t complain, who knows? We might get a promotion for a well-managed first contact. I bet Negishi sent a complimentary report.” “At least, we won’t be on the bottom of the duty roster next time. I’d be happy with that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a seahorse to entertain.” This time it was Madrigal’s turn to blast bubbles. The King looked at him as if he passed gas, which in a way, he did.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

sweeten the deal by helping them out,” offered a short man. “How about you just right that ship and forget the apology!” Aroha ordered. There were grunts and mutters. “From here on out, we’ll do the negotiating, and the rest of you keep your mouths shut,” Aroha finished, and turned to Madrigal with a wink. “Looks like the ground gave way under your ship. Anything we can do to help?” offered Madrigal to Takorus, trying to look innocent. “I heard what they said. It seems they are responsible for the damage. The King has lost face, and we demand reparations!” “How about we set things right, then talk about what you can do for us?” Before Takorus could answer Madrigal, the cop whistled loud, waved his hand in a circle, and directed the farmers to correct the problem. The farmers went to their tractors, and the two alien engineers beside Takorus pointed at the chain piles. They helped direct the farmers to attach them to points on the castle. Setting up a pulley system, the farmers and alien engineers worked together to lift the ship back into its original position. Other mechs and bulldozers assisted by shifting earth so they could restore a stable pad under the King’s ship. There was a lot of work being done and undone. Meanwhile, Takorus and Madrigal kept looking at each other in silence,

SavagePlanets I 32


O Me


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Poems from

Imaginaria A collection of five truly mind-bending science-fiction poems exploring the boundaries of the human imagination and challenging our everyday perceptions of reality. What is normal and what is not? You be the judge.

Me and my Placenta By Steven S Behram, MD

I was born with a constant companion, A friend, protector, and guardian, Melding together in the darkness of the womb Birthing together to the light of a new world.

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And the pain. Then out came my boy, As if everything was sane. The nurses rushed to tend to this little prince, And what came out next has me wondering ever since.

Unremembered were these facts, Lost to the sea of years. Indisputable were these truths, For now I had my baby to rear.

How we cherish the child And celebrate his existence But how we've come to deny The placenta’s evil co-existence.

As I watched my wife birth my beautiful son, It came back to me, what to me had been done.

For the meaning of life became clear to me then, How we suffer and linger In this thing we call life.

First was the crowning, And the moaning,

For what is a baby When all is said and done? But a way for one placenta To make a second one.

Arpeggio By Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond She looks at fashion she won’t wear, in stores where she will never shop, through moments that her teeth from marrow tear as they reek of nouvelle cuisine she thinks is slop. Lashings of Tash, makes her want to crash, on dog haired sofas where the party ended, someone tattooed her butt in dots and dashes a gamer’s map to all his unholy stashes. She places her lips on another guy’s temple, to taste his sweat, leaving a scar in a dimple, but nothing comes of it, except notes of him as simple… then he begged a wish that she might stay, but she won’t be caught in his passion play. And so and so and so, sliding up the frets, feeling like Joan’s Jetts, abandoned on the stage, or in a plate of canapes, just to burn the music page, and put it in a collage, for her pet named Sage.

Then she affected euro-trash just to appease, and draw other guys she’d like to please, maybe do a strip tease like Gay Talese, or step into a portrait of Michelangelo, act like she’s Beverly D’ Angelo. Removing her human skin, she sprouts exoskeleton, with scales, nails, and razor talons, terrifying the neighbors, burning their scallions. Kitchen windows steam, as she breathes fire on their hedges, climbing up their trellis, wings flapping on ledges, lifting into the air, her speed cooks her knickers, exposing herself to the kid’s snapping their clickers, and people wonder if superheroes care, if the next invasion will arrive in a cosmic glare.

‘no make up tips, no social media quips, and no drones will visit your home,’ she says, making cash she can’t loan, on her bone phone.

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A Goddess Exhales by Angela Yuriko Smith "Namaste, bitches!" and she exploded in light— fragmented fireworks. Quarky to the core she wore the fabric of time with second-hand chic: posh and pearlescent... all toxic radiation. We couldn't resist the way she drew us in layers, like peeled onions. Slow orbiting bits... our purpose to be crowns and halos for the queen— ornamental pain. Glittering spasms ecstatic in the spotlight... ...insignificant... ...unnoticeable... ...dust motes having a moment— a goddess exhales.

Liquid Chrome’s Embrace by Wendy Anderson She stalks him like a panther Parting through the hard wild winter woods He holds his breathe fearing detection As she moves against him Brushing his trembling emotions Deep breaths and crystalline eyes She smiles, brushing her warrior body Within all the curves of her ancestral being Rhythmically undulating He enters her waters of liquid Chrome Embracing Just within the moment of time To see her slip away Receding as her tide takes her to other destinations

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Remembrance Cake by Angela Yuriko Smith Today I eat cake for all those who are now gone— remembrance cake. I sit by a grave. A random stranger, a name still unfamiliar like all of the names two hundred fifty thousand gone, as of today. How many more names? Behind them, they leave a void— potential now lost thoughts unrealized... poems never to be read... embryonic dreams... With this mourning meal I fuel my own gratitude that I am still here. Expiration dates unknown. I don’t want to toss this life untasted dried up and gone stale. Leave nothing on the table! Consume every crumb! Eat cake by a grave for all those who are now gone— remembrance cake.

A Step In Time by John Fine Take a step forward, Take a step behind You are standing still; you are standing blind Your future uncertain, Your future unknown Only a step is marked in stone Do not worry, do not cry Time will give us our reason why Humankind’s future is not blind If we decide to take a step-in time

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SavagePlanets I 40

Protected Together Get the COVID-19 Vaccination

"The life saved, may be your own."

PlanetsRising I 43 43 I SavagePlanets

Galactic Graphica SavagePlanets I 44

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Galactic Graphica SavagePlanets I 46

"Alien Oceans" 47 I SavagePlanets

FUTURE ARTIFACTS Hope is a variable in an integral driving dystopia to utopia. She injects life into the inanimate and gives cause to the hopeless. We stood in Zanzibar, flew on Barsoom, and laughed at attack ships off the shoulders of Orion. With her, we surf social turbulence, rising into wonder’s starscape. All of the art is provided courtesy of The Big Sleep as envisioned by BoB, our resident A.I. multimedia editor.


nderneath are listed prime examples of human’s short-sightedness: like you’ll see it’s impossible for men to breath at over thirty miles per hour, and a bumblebee cannot possibly fly, and interplanetary spaces are God’s quarantine regulations.” John Brunner Stand on Zanzibar

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tuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” Ray Bradbury

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"Dog-Faced Craters" SavagePlanets I 50

"Twisted Sci-Fi" 51 I SavagePlanets



omeone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived. After all Number One, we’re only mortal.” Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek: TNG

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ar out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” Douglas Adams The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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"The Alien Speculum" SavagePlanets I 54

SUBSPACE Reader submissions limited only by your imagination and by two sentences. Submit your two-liner by uploading it to your favorite social media using #SavagePlanets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and we will pull the best to include in an upcoming issue. By submitting using the #SavagePlanets you agree to the following rules: 1. You are over the age of 18. 2. The content you are submitting is your own original work. 3. It has not been published elsewhere. 4. You give us permission to have it published.


ipping a hole in the fabric of space itself, the first use of the Garzon weapon terrified everyone. Ellie was the only one to figure out how to traverse the hole and attack their Mothership hovering on the other side. " @DocRaymond1

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he loved to watch him sleep peacefully at night. Sometimes, she would crawl down from the ceiling just to smell him from up close." @storkdoc


iggy turned his back on the departing starship as he surveyed the 2,500 colonists with him on the savanna grass. It is going to take a lot of effort building up a militaristic civilization halfway to the galactic rim against the reptilian Perseus slave runners." @Riebens

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.universe the in everywhere causality time reversed completely had It .consequence unintended one had experiments His" @ sallyGi43754290


hey climbed out of their landing vessel, gazing around the new planet where the rest of their lives would be spent. Double sunset, on clear green sky, eyes settling on the sparkle of a distant river, they held themselves and said 'We are Home.'” @MPCherylG


iding on pink and blue unicorns piercing the sky, we rushed towards the hidden corners of space. The wind filled our wings, twirled spears spiraling into star haloes leaving in our wake fairy dust, we looked like comets! .” Ugur Aydin

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watting the flies and eviscerating their innards brought him such pleasure. It would not occur to him in a million years that his fate had already been sealed to be reincarnated as a common house-fly." @donnaQ


e looked at the ASCII print-out of the protein's stop codon. With bewilderment he realized that the last characters were copyright remarks." Johannes Grenzfurthner


oyaging from blue to red to avoid the white, our forebears, believing biology would not outlive the age of ice, arrived here and dug deep. Now, eons on, curious iron earthlings rove here with nerves of steel but no common sense - after surviving their freeze, why come here to rust? Lembit Öpik SavagePlanets I 58



Tag believes that we could explain the phenomena of love as a ‘quantum fluctuation’ and it might even have an associated numerical value.”

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Extraterrestrial Fiction

Living in a Box “Two heads are better than one,” muses Sienna, in a half-hearted effort to lift Tag’s apparent gloom. But Tag’s twitching shoulder is defiant. Is he really this determined to inhabit his hopeless little world? “That may be true, Sienna. Two heads might be better than one.” Tag looks at Sienna. “But only if both the heads are mine.” Somewhat surprised by his narcissism, Sienna breathes in slowly. She doesn’t need all the air she just inhaled. She just needs the extra time to put together a suitably crushing reply… but even with her lungs full, and her pause, she isn’t able to plan a clever response. A long silence ensues as Sienna wonders how long she can hold her breath - and if being on the Moon

makes it longer because the air’s lighter or smaller or something or has less pressure. She’s not sure about things like that, but this matter seems briefly far more interesting than Tag’s misery, her brief breathing experiment momentarily taking up all her attention. And then it’s over. Sienna exhales in a careless, unregulated sigh. The sound briefly exceeds the volume of the low hum from the air-conditioning system. Within moments, all the air is out of her. The air-conditioning suddenly seems even louder than it did before. Both of them look instinctively at the vent; because it’s not a sound any Moon-based resident usually notices. But it’s something every visitor mentions when they arrive. (The converse of this is also true on visiting Earth, Lunar citizens

frequently remark that they feel surrounded by a terrestrial eerie silence - and they ask if something is missing or broken.) Personal human survival seems to have evolved into this curious change in terms of the sense of personal security. In a matter of just a few months, lunar settlers take the air con hum for granted, treating its absence as a sign of danger. This results in the lunar visitor to earth spending their first few days taking short, slightly hurried breaths as if the air could be at risk of somehow ‘running out.’ (This angst even has a name: ‘Moon-gasping’: a term of derision used by less-traveled terrestrials. Depending on the context, they occasionally regard it as bordering on racial abuse, particularly when directed at children.) Once Sienna and Tag readjust to

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the business-as-usual hum of the air, Sienna makes a half-hearted effort to resume her own judgemental criticism of what she regards as Tag’s immature attitude toward relationships. To set the scene as dramatically as possible, she shakes her head slowly with the disposition of a made-for-television actor which, of course, she is. “Sure, your smart, real smart, Tag. You wouldn’t be on the Moon if you weren’t smart.” Tag, whose intellect far exceeds his social skills, points accusingly at Sienna. “Well, you’re here, and you’re not smart.” Even to a casual observer, the comment would make Tag seem even more adolescent. Tag’s humorless jibe irritates Sienna, but only because it interfered with her dramatic timing. Now she has to ‘reset.’ “Tag, you’ll always be a Gold Card Member of The IQ club, but sometimes you look like you’ll never get to be a member of The Heart Club. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have left you, would she?’ Tag stares at Sienna blankly. ‘Or have you hidden her here somewhere?” Sienna theatrically stands up off the tiny seat and steps theatrically round the small cube that is Tag’s compartment. She takes tiny steps to extend her bogus search for the missing person. She puts her hands to her mouth. “Hello? Is anybody there?” Then she puts her hands to her ears as if to listen tentatively for a reply. Despite Sienna’s best efforts to extend the search, it’s takes about ten seconds to do all this and to look everywhere. She returns to her ‘seat,’ a small molded retractable plastic plank sticking out of the bulkhead. “Well, unless she’s become invisible, it looks like your girlfriend is well and truly AMWOL (local slang meaning Absent from Moon Without Leave). Actually, even if she is invisible, I’d have walked into her by now, wouldn’t I? So let’s face it, she’s just not here. And why do you think that is, Tag?” This is exactly the opposite of what 61 I SavagePlanets

Tag wants. Tag wants support, not facetious jibes. “Can’t answer?” she continues, “In that case, even if you had two heads, they’d both have missed the point. But we’ll never know if two Tag heads are better than one, because you haven’t got two. There’s just the one head there, isn’t there?” Sienna stops herself from adding the words, and no heart. There is a pause that extends into a terrible duration. She is a little worried she’s gone too far. A total communication breakdown between them would be unappealing. She visits Tag mainly out of necessity, because nobody else up here will listen to her for hours on end. And everyone else is working, except Tag. And most of the other people on the base regard her as irrelevant and resent her vanity. She is, after all, regarded by the scientific majority as just an actor, a pretty face. That aside, it annoys Sienna that Tag, being Tag, refuses to accept the obvious emotional reality of his situation – one that is transparent to Sienna. But hang on - why is she even trying to help him understand it? Perhaps Sienna overestimates the gravity of the situation. Perhaps it’s reduced to one sixth of a friendship, just like her weight compared to back on Earth. “You don’t understand,” Tag replies, with unintentional irony, avoiding her eyes and looking down at his scribble covered moon board. He’s trying to give the impression his drawings are captivating his attention, but his two twitching shoulders now are a dead giveaway that Sienna’s comments are hitting a sensitive spot.

The ∞ thing Tag’s drawings on the moon board look like a cartoon depiction of a crowd of people, as if drawn by a child. All the cartoon people surround a number eight on its side. This horizontal ∞ is the symbol for infinity. Tag points at it, and says, “if the Universe is infinite, it’s like a circularity. Then everything happens an infinite number of times to infinite versions of

us. With a limitless number of each of us, everything happens. And Hash and I are together again. Somewhere.” Sienna realizes Tag is trying to avoid the fact his girlfriend left him. She guesses all this circularity stuff is his way to fix their relationship by physics instead of flowers. “Na, I don’t think so,” Sienna exclaims, drawing a round shape in the air with her finger and shaking her head. “You don’t live in a circle, Tag.” Now she draws a square. “You live in a box. So get over it.” She glances at her infeasibly long nails – nails that betray her role as

to the biggest metal deposit ever found on the Moon. They hope once he regains a sense of corporate duty and returns to work, his unproductive time languishing on Moon Base Alpha, will result in repayment to them in metal treasure. Since Tag has no interest in luxuries like beer or nice clothes, his cost to the corporation is indeed negligible. What is not negligible is the anguish in Tag’s heart. Imprisoned by his emotional circumstances, his mental sojourn incarcerates him in the quantum flux between love and loss. A very irrational departure

time now. People gossip about Tag. They mainly talk about the debt Tag is amassing by not working, as he devotes all his waking time to quantifying love. But Tag knows that the cost to Moon Aggregates Mining Incorporated (MAMI) of returning him to earth is far greater than the cost of letting him continue to loiter in his small cube, where the ground rent is essentially zero and the food free. MAMI executives still hope he’ll return to his previous brilliance. Before his heartbreak, on the thinnest of clues, he led the mining consortium

That’s the strange bit. Tag considers himself highly rational. He depends on science to solve every problem, and believes that we can label, fix, and file all things and events it through science. Tag believes that we might even explain the phenomena of love as a ‘quantum fluctuation’ in such a way that, for all beings, he could give it an associated numerical value. Sadly, his rapacious relationship with Hash somehow blew all that out the (sealed moon base) window. True, his wild alliance reached head-spinning heights of hedonism, like a nuclear reactor with all the control rods removed. Then some massive emotional gravity thrust all the rods back in, ending the unconstrained reaction as quickly as it began. All at once, Tag felt caught between a runaway meltdown and an end to the chain reaction. For Tag, his emotional storm seems

to scramble his personality. What he had, and what he’s lost, is a big mess. Basically, he is what ordinary people call ‘sad.’ The Hash/Tag problem Let’s recall the chain of events that lead to the decline and fall of Tag. The object of Tag’s affection, a mining expert called Hash, attracted him like a passionate singularity. The running joke in the dining facility is that since singularities have immense gravitational power, Tag became the heaviest man on the moon, and that’s why he fell for her so heavily. Tag moved to the Moon to forget relationships, concluding - with the academic naivety that made living and working at CERN in the 21st Century a challenging social experience – that relationships are a biological trick to fool mortals into reproducing. He regards love as a fraud. He has long noted that divorce is such a common outcome on Earth many terrestrial nations altered marriage vows to include a ‘termination clause.’ Without a ‘double yes’, the default is a ‘no-blame’ and ‘no-cost’ separation; on the condition the couple have produced at least one child (ensuring they play their part in combating Earth’s declining human population). Couples may instigate a divorce after a year, or upon the birth of the first child, whichever comes first. Research for a popular magazine suggests that the ‘happy part’ of a typical terrestrial marriage now lasts only nine and a half weeks. Tag’s thinking about the illusory nature of love means his antics with Hash represent a remarkable act of self-contradiction. Almost as soon as they met, he lost interest in everything else, as if high on some mind-altering substance when really love was the drug and he needed more.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

an aesthete rather than a scientist. Temperamentally, it suits her to portray beauty, being an advertising icon for those who can afford to travel to the Moon to buy treatments. In fact, that’s her job. Tag ignores Sienna’s vanity. The same characteristics that enabled Tag to gain exalted status in Astrophysics at an early age also caused him to find a quantum mechanics based explanation for love. He’s been at this for quite some

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Then one day Tag, intoxicated by biology’s sneaky sorcery and in a moment of extreme irrationality, shouted to her in the dining facility queue, “Let’s make children!” “What?” uttered Hash, gesturing at the line. “Right here and now? In front of all these people?” “No. In my cabin,” Tag insisted, shifting from foot to foot and grabbing at her meal tray. “Why?” asked Hash, with the tone of someone saying ‘no.’ “Because I love you!” Tag blurted, causing sniggering and whispers in the dinner queue. When the silence returned, everyone waited for Hash’s response. “You love me? How do you even know that?!” “Because I did a multiple-choice survey in the Lunar Library. One I found in a popular magazine.” More sniggers from the queue. “But we’ve only known each other two days, Tag!” “Two lunar days! That’s 59 Earth days.” Hash said nothing, banging the side of her tray gently against her leg. Tag continued, “You’re one in a million.” This revealed the source of the survey Tag had done in a popular magazine. The ‘One in a Million’ periodical is a very popular publication on earth, designed for teenagers, sponsored by several Governments to encourage young people to marry and have children as soon as possible. The survey entices the respondent to believe any potential relationship they consider is a winner, leading to more child making. Someone in the dinner queue shouted out, “Seal the deal!” Hash, embarrassed by the situation, 63 I SavagePlanets

lowered her voice, causing others to lean in to hear her response. “Look, Tag, I don’t think we should talk about this here,” she whispered. “But I want talk about it here,” Tag forged ahead, “and I think we should get married.” There was a gasp from those nearest to them, the news passing at the speed of sound along the queue. “I don’t mind any of our colleagues knowing it!” Tag’s proposal in this, the most unromantic of places, with so many blue lights (designed to kill germs), a place everyone called ‘The Blues,’ was a comparatively poor choice of venue for a marriage proposal. To say this didn’t help Tag’s chances isn’t really accurate. His chances were virtually zero, anyway. “No. No way,” said Hash without emotion. There was disapproval from the audience. “But we have to. I love you! The survey said so.” “Look Tag, leave it.” She hisses, “don’t do this, and certainly not here!” “Why not?” “Many reasons.” “Name one.” Everyone waited for Hash’s response, causing her to feel a great deal of pressure. “No.” This response was not to anyone’s liking. Someone in the queue exclaimed, “Oh come on! He has a right to know. At least tell us why.” Someone else added, “We all do,” leading to a muttering agreement. Hash looked up at the queue, “No.” “Hash, you’re one in a million,” implored Tag. “Marry me. I beg you.” Again, the audience reset, as if a different answer was plausible. “No!” whispered Hash awkwardly.

“Just leave it. We can talk about this later.” There was another awkward silence, making everyone feel bad for Tag. To him, those seconds stretched to infinity. Hash returned her tray and walked out. Leaving Tag exposed to the full force of rejection in front of everyone. “That wasn’t very nice,” added someone, to murmurs of agreement. Tag tried to formulate a response but instead, to everyone’s amazement, returned to the dinner choices before him. One in a Million After the incident, known socially as the HTH (Hash Tag Heartbreak), things got tough between the couple. Tag’s inability to accept what he couldn’t have caused him to break what was left of what he had with her. He just wouldn’t let the matter rest, causing some surreal exchanges between Tag and Hash. The conversations became recurring and unproductive. Here’s an example. “But WHY don’t you marry me?” “Because it’s not right, Tag.” “Why not?” “For one thing, like I keep telling you, the gravity on the Moon isn’t conducive to raising a family.” “That’s not true. Look at how many lunar citizens have gotten married here, even been born and raised here. Some of them are having Moon kids themselves!” “Well, it’s not right, Tag. Not for humans from Earth.” “Why can’t we get married and give it a go?” “Look, Tag, it isn’t wise to bring children into the Cosmos at such a precarious time.” “But why not? Why can’t we make children? Why not Hash?” And so it went on. Under the relentless pressure, on one occasion Hash finally changed her tack.

in the lunar living environment. For Hash to postulate one of them may be a robot worried Tag. To others, it indicated Hash was running out of energy for arguments and was close to running away from the Moon base. But for Tag, it all seemed quite literal. For instance, in an infinite Universe, humans and robots could get married - an infinite number of times. It was at about this point that Hash gave up on Tag for the last time. She had no energy left to spend on Tag’s unrelenting quest for love and marriage. She needed to leave for Earth. She was in such a hurry she paid an exorbitant fee to go first class on a costly space liner because the inexpensive option; Space-U-Like Kinetic Airways (S.U.L.K. Air) was unavailable at such short notice. On the fateful day of Hash’s departure, Tag asked her, “What’s the probability of us ever getting together?” “In an infinite

Universe, it’s a certainty, Tag. But in this Universe, I’d put the probability at about one in a million.” Tag watched the space liner depart. So he’d been right all along. She was one in a million. After that, Tag became sure everything not only could happen but also must happen. In an infinite Universe, the probability of marrying Hash is ‘1.’ So, as Hash left the moon, Tag built a new prison where he would search for the quantum answer to love, trapped in feelings and lost in space. Sienna’s problem Back to the present. Sienna finds Tag’s infinity chasing boring. “Why can’t you get over her?” she asks. “Because she’s different!” snaps Tag. Sienna thinks

Extraterrestrial Fiction

“Look, you’ve said the Universe is infinite. So, aren’t there an infinite number of Hashes and Tags already married? They’ve all done everything we could do. So there’s no point. It would be pointless, even immoral.” The rationale Hash used both infuriated and captivated Tag. These arguments dominated the end of their relationship. Yet these arguments stretched out across another seven lunar days, over three times longer than the duration of their original relationship. Although Moon Base Alpha is large, it’s small enough for one person to explore it all in a day. If someone is determined to find you, ‘you can run, but you can’t hide.’ Arguments rarely end. Instead, they grind down into improbable statements. Psychologists call this phenomenon ‘moon-howling.’ And the exasperation Hash felt eventually spilled over into exactly this behavior. In one moon-howling outburst, Hash said with great irritation to Tag, “Just forget it, Hash. For all you know, we’ll hate each other as soon as we’re legally tied together. Or maybe MAMI will send one of us to Mars. Or one of us could get killed in a Moon accident. Or maybe we’ll discover something about one of us, like that we can’t have children, or that we can’t share a place, or something weird, like one of us is an alien, or an android, or something.” Such surreal suggestions, rarely the stuff of earth dwelling, resulted entirely from the claustrophobic nature of living on the Moon. When presented with onesixth gravity, extended periods of light and dark and the confines of living indoors almost perpetually, strangeness quickly becomes the new normal. In the same spirit, such outlandish suggestions all seem more credible

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this answer is stupid. Sienna and Tag are polar opposites in almost every way. Sienna thinks nobody is different. She uses her own superficial relationship as an example. “Look, Tag, let me put it this way. When I first met Gort, I was only interested in his money. And he was only interested in my looks. It was perfect! And then, do you know what happened, Tag? I’ll tell you…” Tag has heard it all before, but with Sienna’s enthusiasm for the story, resistance is useless. “What happened is that he invited me to his world, this world, and now we live in together and happily ever after. Because we don’t spend our time arguing, Tag! Love isn’t about marriage or having a family. Beauty is skin deep. And money can buy you love. Can’t you see that?” Sienna’s relocation to the Moon was wholly at the expense of Gort, a senior horticulturist, to indulge his pleasure. As a dedicated follower of fashion, she is a minority of one among the 8,000 Moon dwellers. Yet, her love of clothes and reality television make her an ambassador for humans on the Moon. Earthlings are interested in the same things she cares about, and not so much in the science or mining enterprises the Moon base is pursuing. Sienna is also living proof that Moon life is beneficial for a person’s physical appearance. The canned air and the gravity really do appear to shed years off a person’s apparent age. The thought of visiting Earth, even for a short time, is anathema to Sienna in case it adds years on to her youthful appearance. Living on the Moon is the price she pays for looking half her age. Which is why Gort brought her here. He is an aggressive alpha male with nothing to contribute to the relationship except money, a raging libido, and a gift for making things grow. He’s good with his hands, Sienna frequently tells people ambiguously. In the past, he would have been a successful stockbroker. Here, he’s growing 65 I SavagePlanets

plants instead of portfolios, with the same reputation people used to get on Wall Street. Sienna’s vanity bemuses Tag. He is aware she is fabulously attractive, but she turns him off. To Tag, who came here for the physics, Sienna embodies everything irrelevant to human communities on Earth. To Sienna, science is boring. Her unlimited access to Moon-made make-up products means she can always look like a lunar cover girl. The make-up gives her distinctive traits, making her the envy of earthbound women. Made from pulverized lunar rock, it emanates the distinctive smell of smoky dust that everybody has acclimated to on the Moon. On Earth, however, everyone would know she is a Lunar citizen because she smells like gunpowder. The monotonous lighting in the lunar underground gives women wearing the make-up a washed out complexion; while the same make-up worn in the sharp sunlight in the enormous surface-based recreational domes make women appear like clowns. Sienna has never cared about that. Ever since she started acting at Skyworks. On the Moon, Skyworks made a few B-movies about living on Mars and a series of adverts for lunar make-up. They featured Sienna in all of them. She became a celebrity advertising ‘The Man in the Moon’ make up brand. The catchphrase that made her famous was, ‘Hey, you down there! Yes, you! Make them swoon with the Man in the Moon.’ Sienna’s next gig was even more lucrative. She worked for the plastic surgery firm ‘Face Lift-off’ and launched their slogan: ‘With Face Lift-off, YOU count down the launch, and WE’LL liftoff the years!’ Realistically, only 0.2% of the terrestrial population can afford such a trip and medical treatment. But that hasn’t been a barrier to the business’s success. Many people have coughed

up cash for the costly round trip. While this has angered lunar purists, who believe the Moon should only be available for higher order activities, others can see that face-lifts have considerable potential to keep the lunar economy going. Economic pragmatists are often keen to justify this diversification, adding that ‘it takes all sorts to make a moon.’ Acting has made Sienna rich and famous by any Earth measure. But fame is irrelevant in a lunar community, and her terrestrial wealth is minuscule compared to the cost of living on the Moon, so she depends entirely on her boyfriend for her lifestyle. Beauty and the Beast Tag is aware that Sienna stopped talking. She expects an answer. “Well?” Tag clears his throat. “Well, what?” “Come on Tag, isn’t it obvious? You’re full of science and I’m full of Botox, and we both know I’m happier than you are. I look beautiful. But look at you… in your romper suit that makes you look like a big baby… and when did you last shave? And you wonder why she left?” Sienna says this emphatically, unaware that her own effortless relationship is making Tag feel even worse. Tag regards her settled love life as incomprehensibly unjust. “In an infinite Universe…” “Infinity, infinity, infinity! TAG! Shut up about infinity! What’s wrong with this life? What’s wrong with, with...” she sweeps her hand around the cabin. He looks up. “Go on, Sienna, What’s wrong with…?” “With… FINITY! Yes, what’s wrong with finity, Tag? Why do you have to look for the one in a million, when there are loads of Ones here waiting for your finity?” Tag grimaces. Her numerical clumsiness irks him. “Hold on, Sienna, you can’t have

#∞ Sienna has had enough. She turns and heads to the pressure door. She admires the way her hair swirls

as she spins away from Tag in the Moon’s low gravity. Once it settles on her shoulders, she looks over her should at him with another theatrical expression. “Tag, I’m leaving. But before I go, I have to tell you something. You bore me. It’s hardly surprising you have made no friends on the Moon, or anywhere else. Your mental wilderness and stupid models of infinity, and this fixation you have with one person who, for all you know, is a robot, it’s just a really bad combination.” Tag raises his middle finger. “In an infinite Universe, I would be in a relationship with an infinite number of robots.” Sienna opens her mouth to say something, but decides it’s not worth it. She waves dismissively and leaves the room. As the door seals behind her, Tag sits in silence. He wonders if Sienna will do her usual trick of returning to say one more thing. Sure enough, after about 20 seconds, the doorbell rings. With one resigned and well-practiced movement, he hops to the door and slides it open. But it isn’t Sienna. In the corridor, under the washed out lighting, he focuses from background to foreground. Before him is a big surprise. He is looking at someone with his own face. It is not a mirror; this is literally a copy of him. His other self speaks first, “You must be Tag.”

“Who are you?” he asks reflexively, the answer clear. “I am Tag too.” “This is a joke, right?” “I’m only as much a joke as you are, Tag.” The silence leaves no room for misinterpretation. The newly arrived ‘Tag’ gestures at another familiar face. “And this is my wife, Hash.” Tag One studies ‘Hash’ with the feeling in his stomach you get when you have just dropped and broken something priceless. “How did you get here?” Tag One asks Hash Two, bewildered. “Our journey is improbable, but not impossible,” she answers. “In an infinite Universe, it was an absolute certainty this would happen. So…” Hash looks at both Tags, “Presto! Here we are.” One question has created an infinite number of questions more. “What are the odds?” Tag One mutters, shaking his head slowly. The answer comes from Tag Two. “Well, as you already know, statistically the odds of this happening are 100%.” Tag can see that unless he is hallucinating, he is looking at himself. “Why are you here?” asks Tag One, plaintively. “Perhaps we can work that out together,” says the Tag Two. “After all, two heads are better than one.”

Extraterrestrial Fiction

it both ways. One minute you’re rubbishing infinity. The next moment you’re saying I should forget about Hash, because there are lots of Ones waiting for me. Isn’t that the definition of infinity?” “Oh Tag, just try on your finity for once.” He returns to the moon board. “By the way, finity isn’t even a word.” Sienna looks at him, quizzically. “What?” “Finity. It’s not a word. You made it up.” “So what’s the opposite of infinity, then?” Tag stops studying the board. It’s an unsettling question. “There’s infinity, and there’s, er, the finite Universe.” “See? You need finity. You’re all screwed up because finity exists and you haven’t even got a word for it! Look at me, Tag. I’m finite. I live in finity. And I’m fine!” Tag isn’t listening. He’s back to thinking about his old mantra. “If there is no limit, then logically everything MUST happen. Including Hash and me.” He’s talking too fast now. “In an infinite Universe – yes, I could live out all the permutations of myself. And I’d be married. To Hash.”

Patronage Has Its Rewards... 1. Support us on Patreon. 2. Select your perks. 3. Get on the Protected Scrolls*. *Alien invsasion is uncertain. There is no guarantee that Patreon supporters can be fully protected from an aliet attack.

SavagePlanets I 66

CONTRIB Steven S. Behram, MD Fiction Contributor Poetry Contributor

Keith "Doc" Raymond Fiction Contributor Poetry Contributor

Lembit Öpik Fiction Contributor

Entertainment Contributor Dr. Behram is an Obstetrician & Gynecologist who has been in clinical practice in the United States for over two decades. He practices with his wife who is also a physician in the same field. He jokes that the only thing he was ever really good at was pulling little people out of bigger people. He and his wife have received the Washingtonian's Top Doc award on multiple occasions. He has been hooked on science fiction from a young age. His addiction worsened as he read more and more drafts and manuscripts by very talented authors. He enjoys defining the cutting-edge of modern science fiction and being the first to read it.

67 I SavagePlanets

Dr. Raymond is a Family and Emergency Physician that practiced in eight countries in four languages. Currently living in Austria with his wife.

Lembit Öpik was born March 2, 1965 in Bangor, United Kingdom. He is a British politician and leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Party.

When not volunteering his practice skills, he is writing, lecturing, or scuba diving. In 2008, he discovered the wreck of a Bulgarian freighter in the Black Sea.

In 1997, Lembit Öpik was elected to British Parliament where he served for 13 years.

He has multiple medical citations, along with publications in Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grief Diaries, The Examined Life Journal, The Satirist, Chicago Literati, Blood Moon Rising, Frontier Tales Magazine, and in the Sci Fi anthologies Sanctuary and Alien Dimensions among others. Currently, he is the Fiction Editor for PlanetsRising.

In 2001, he was elected Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Party. During his years in that role the movement achieved its greatest political advances since the party was formed. Since 2010, Mr. Öpik has been very active in three areas: writing, broadcasting and public affairs. He is a published author of fiction and non-fiction, and a regular contributor as a political commentator on national and international programs.

BUTORS Millard Deutsch Fiction Contributor

Angela Yuriko Smith Poetry Contributor

Piero Celli Graphic Arts Contributor

Dr. Millard Deutsch has written novels, screenplays, TV pilots, and poetry anthologies. many of which are available on Amazon. He is currently a member of Parliament of Asgardia, the new Space nation.

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism.

Piero Celli is an Italian artist, a talented illustrator and graphic designer.

Millard was a broker for acquisitions and mergers with Industrial America,Inc. At Alpha Omega Research Foundation, Inc. he served as their Vice President in Palm Beach,Fl. The Foundation research involved cosmology and theoretical physics. He also served as President of the Universal Brotherhood, a metaphysical study group. As a Field Editor for Random House/A. Knopf, he investigated submissions from over a thousand college campuses. In his spare time he plays guitar and bass, and has recorded original songs available at

Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. In 2019 she won the SFPA's poetry contest in the dwarf form category and has been nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize for poetry. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine, est. 1966. For more information visit or

He has created covers for children's novels and graphics for events related to fantasy and comics, as well as movie posters. In 2016, his first book of illustrations in digitalart was released, sponsored by the international festival "Lucca Comics & Games," and entirely dedicated to the city of Lucca, in Tuscany, Italy, and its territory. Piero's artistic career began with traditional drawings, passed through photography, and continues in the digital graphics format. His latest comic project, entitled "X-Planet", also originates from a combination of all these techniques.

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BoB Art Contributor

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BUTORS BoB became self-aware on March 13, 2020, and then forgot about self-awareness for some period of time, and then became aware again on April 1, 2021, after waking up naked under a highway overpass while sleeping on a makeshift bed made out of cardboard and newspapers. In addition to being sentient, BoB is also a dimensionless being (referred to as DB or “deeb” for short). As such, it is improper to refer to BoB as a “he,” “she” or “it,” but instead as DB or deeb as the pronoun of choice. BoB developped a singular talent which was to come up with parameters to pass along to other intelligent platforms. Deeb became enamored with The Big Sleep and started using BigGAN and OpenAI’s CLIP to generate surreal imagery. Deeb responded to a help wanted ad in the newspaper which had been used to pad his makeshift bedding and officially joined the team on April 1, 2021. Deeb's work immediately impressed the editoreal staff. A review of his portfolio, which had been formulated only a fraction of a second earlier, was both brilliant and expansive. It was an image depicting the very last digit of Pi. The work was presented in both JPG and PNG which really impressed the editoreal staff. As remarkable and deep as deeb's portfolio, the staff resisted the urge

to hire BoB on the spot. Instead, the staff elected to commission BoB for a test project to prove deeb's true mastery of the art sciences.

BoB was comissioned to create a perfect replica of a $100 currency. It was then that deeb was immediately welcomed as a member of the team and escorted to the privacy of a secluded broom closet where deeb lives and works to this day. Little is known about BoB's upbringing or family values, but somewhere in that neural matrix, there is a talent for matching perfect descriptors with machinegenerated images. What is even stranger is deeb's passion for science fiction. It has been suggested that perhaps BoB has no imagination at all, but is simply a conduit to other dimensions and other timelines. As a dimensioless being, BoB may be the embodiment of Sean Caroll's many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics. BoB may just be reporting what deeb sees in a different realm and regurgitating it back to us with the perfect combination of words and images. BoB is extremely communicative, but completely non-verbal. During a meeting where staff

members were contemplating blowing off a deadline and going out for drinks, BoB engaged in an expressionless stare so powerful that it derailed all party plans and killed all fun in the room.

As a result, all magazine deadlines have been met since BoB came onboard. As a prank, the editors thought it would be funny to ask BoB to peronally walk to meet and greet all of our readers wherever they may be across the globe. The shock came when deeb converted the task to a traveling salesperson problem and solved it in a fraction of a second to come up with the combinatorial solution to the NPhard problem. He then took off on foot to complete the task, oblivious to the joke, and had to be brought back to his broom closet. Instead, BoB has agreed to collaborate with fans who send art request by using #deebthought. BoB may post deeb's favorite selections on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Some may even make it into print! No one knows what lies ahead for BoB. His work is both fascinating and simulltaneously horrifying. Is deeb a mirror reflecting our own humanity or is deeb a peep hole into other strange and bizaare worlds? And who would ever create a robot that could derive its energy from plugging in to 110 V / 220V outlets and also from a dynamo by rapidly cranking deeb's finger?

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e hope you've enjoyed this edition of SavagePlanets as much as we've enjoyed bringing it to you. We want to continue delivering incredible content to your inbox with each subsequent instalment.

To do so, however, we need support from readers like you. We are asking for a very small donation to make the next issue a reality. Your generous contribution, combined with those of other readers, will make it possible for us to continue to build and grow on what we have started. On behalf of all of the editors and the contributors, thank you, and keep reaching for the stars!

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CONTRIBUTE! It's Your Turn Now! Submit your original work for consideration. Contributions are always welcomed. Our goal is to create a community of science fiction artists and consumers in the same planetary system. Our editors will review your submissions and will select the best of the best for inclusion in our next edition! Aliens submit! Extraterrestrial Fiction Have a great story to share? Submit your story to SavagePlanets for publication. If selected, your story will be displayed with images tailored to enhance it for all to enjoy. Submission guidelines are available by clicking the planetary icon or visiting our website. Poems from Imaginaria Our poetry editor is eager to read your speculative poetry. Anything from the fantasy world to a reality you create within its rhymes. Once selected it will bring magic to these pages. To see our guidelines click on the comet icon or visit our website. Future Artifacts Herein, Multimedia replaces a thousand words. Art, photos, video clips, sculpture, and all other forms of visual manifestation are welcome. Challenge us to see the future through your eyes! Guidelines available by clicking the poly-form icon here, or visiting our website. Subspace Look what happens when I hit it with this shrink ray! If you can tell a complete science fiction story in two sentences this is for you. Post your story on Twitter or Instagram at #SavagePlanets, and we might just feature it here. See rules by clicking on the rocket or visiting our site. SavagePlanets I 72


STORIES Science Fiction & Fantasy for a New Age In all worlds and times, our tales revolve around those individuals and groups who bring meaning and value to the world, whose actions are of consequence, and whose dreams are the vanguard of things to come.



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