SavagePlanets, April 2022

Page 1



Editor in Chief

Signals from the Stellar Core


Convict Eighty-Seven


Falcon's Call


Planetary Communiqué


Sci-Fi Entertainment


The Quiet Silence


The Stowaway


Poems from Imaginaria


Future Artifacts




Clean Slate




01 I SavagePlanets

Steven S. Behram

Fiction Editor

Keith 'Doc' Raymond

Poetry Editor Steven S. Behram

Art Editor

B.o.B. (A.I. Sentience)







69 SavagePlanets I 02


from the

Stellar Core

By Steven S Behram, MD Editor-In-Chief

The noticeably dark mood of this episode of SavagePlanets is no doubt a reflection of the dark times that surround us. We know that our world is one of both light and darkness and it is this intersection that remains our singular focus. We have the power to imagine a world of marvel and wonder, but instead, we chose the world of pain and misery. This is, perhaps, our greatest flaw. Solar Winds We continue to receive and showcase outstanding contributions from our growing network of friends. We thank you for your wonderful perspectives which creates a richness to the fabric of our publication. Extragalactic Invasion In our speculative poetry section, we follow the last moments of a soldier's life as he succumbs to a machine. We explore the mathematical limits of our reality and number theories that bind us. We discuss the glory of new exploration. And we see the perils of extra-terrestrial communication.

03 I SavagePlanets

The Hypernovae In the Planetary Communiqué, Overlord Grawth reveals his faith in karma by stating the what goes around, comes around and will hit you in the head. As always, we have five Extra-terrestrial Fiction stories. In “Convict EightySeven” we explore machine-based incarceration. We introduce you to “Falcon’s Call” and invite you to explore an alternate ending to a great story about a mysterious finding in space. We go out not with a bang, but a whimper in “The Quiet Silence” which is a story about the chilling vastness and emptiness of the cosmos. We explore the arachnid world in “The Stowaway.”

And finally we travel to the plastic and ever shrinking reality of "Clean Slate." In Sci-Fi entertainment, we review James Cameron’s world of Avatar. We also have an exclusive interview author and contributor Mike Waller. We also review the Silent Sea which is available on Netflix at the time of this publication. Our Art Editor, BoB, produces more imaginative renderings using his AI logic circuits in Future Artifacts. In Subspace, we give fans the opportunity to submit a two sentence sci-fi story. Fan submissions are always welcomed. Orbital Inclinations Our project is based on a collaboration between readers and writers.

As always, please consider contributing your original science fiction stories and speculative poems for consideration. You may notice our stories occasionally have unique word spelling. This is not an error, but is consistent with the written English from that side of the planet or galaxy. We receive submissions from all over, and for authenticity, keep the work in the proper English of that region. Thank you for your understanding. If you've contributed before, please consider doing so again. If you have never contributed, please consider doing so. Kindly share and promote our magazine on your social media. Our website is Let’s kick this thing into a high orbit together!

SavagePlanets I 04


I wake laying on my back. It takes several minutes for the sedative to wear off before I can even open my eyes. I’m in one of the solitary confinement cells. It’s dark. But not the dark of night, the dark of not having my implant. "

“Convict Eighty-Seven. You will consume your meal, or we will liquefy it and funnel the food down your throat.” The Android's voice is metallic, cold, and lifeless. I sigh.

Steve’s oral transmitter kept reverting to basic mode, even after a factory reset and re-installation of the latest upgrade. It didn’t want to take the new software. And Steve wasn’t the only android with this issue. Almost half a dozen cybernetic guards could not identify the difference between prisoners and visitors. Even with their ocular 05 I SavagePlanets

implants functioning. Scratching an itch on my forehead, I zoom in with my synthetic eye, wanting to get a closer look at Steve’s optics. The translucent wiring looks clean, but there were burns where they connect to the skull plate, as if the insulation fluid had been leaking. The visual processor would have to be replaced; I’d repaired it too many times for it to be salvageable. I still don’t know why it kept malfunctioning. “Alex,” I called out to my electronic assistant. “How can I assist you, Paul?” Alex’s voice is chipper, as always.

“Create a parts requisition order for me.” I waited a microsecond for Alex to process my command. “Android Echo One-Eight-Four needs a new oral and visual processor, and I think one of his power relays is bad.” Sitting back, I rubbed the back of my neck. Staring at Steve, the six-foot bot, I wondered what could cause all the malfunctions. “Alex, open the chest plate.” It pops open and I don’t need my enhanced vision to see the burned circuits. I know them by the smell of overcooked coffee and burned popcorn. “Alex, close order and power down Android Echo One-Eight-Four.”

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Instead of watching Steve’s interior lights go out as he powered down, I push away from the examination table and head to the storage vault for the new oral and visual processors. There are several androids in there on standby, waiting their turn for repair and upgrade. Ideally, we’d process them in about a day, but my assistant took emergency leave. His absence delayed everything. He didn’t even leave a formal time off request, just a vague, sloppy note on my desk. Didn’t even look like his handwriting. I had to put it in for him again. I shake my head, knowing I’ll have to talk to him about procedure when he gets back into this prison’s microverse. I smile, knowing it

won’t be the last time that I do him a favor. Vishal is a good kid, just needs to figure out what he wants out of life. As I pull out the processors, my synthetic implant spasms, and my vision goes dark. The box in my hand tips and falls from my grasp before my right eye can adjust.

the light and rub my wet fingers together. There shouldn’t be any moisture. Pinching my lips, I sniff the thick liquid. I smell nothing. I touch my index finger to the tip of my tongue. And gag.

The room is a lot darker without the electronic assistance. The colors muted and gray. Bleak really. I remove my left eye with cool hands. I hear the quiet pop as the automated system detaches the clamp from my optic nerves. I run my fingers across the glassy surface. Frowning, I step under

Synthetic ocular fluid tastes like burned hair and wet cheese. I’m coughing, trying not to lose my morning coffee. I drop my implant. Thratch it! My implant, like everyone else’s optic replacement, contains my identifier as a technician. I can’t leave this microverse without it. I can’t even move about SavagePlanets I 06

the prison freely without it.

seven days.”

Sighing, I stoop carefully and lay on the cold concrete floor, using my hands, searching for where it went. I have to find it to get out of here. The latest episode of Gynoids–Love in the Miniverse airs tonight. I want to be home for the opening credits.

I jump and hit my head on the metal shelf.

I catch the reflection off my implant stuck between the floor and the bottom bar of a supply shelf. How it got there, I have no idea. I slip my arm between the bars and touch it with the tips of my fingers.

He is straddling my legs, looking down at me. I didn’t hear him get off the table or come into the room. His chest plate is still open. His hands close on my coveralls and he yanks me to my feet. I try to free myself, but it’s an android. I don’t stand a chance.

Steve drags me towards the door. Toward the exit. If I walk past that “Convict Eighty-Seven. You will door without my implant, I won’t be return to your cell or the warden will able to get back into this room. I revoke your exercise privileges for won't be able to leave the hallway.

Or go home. I won’t see real daylight again. Not to mention being trapped in this microverse until someone does a prisoner audit. They’re supposed to happen every year, but in reality they only do it once every five to ten in this longterm facility. I try to pull away as I shout, “Alex, shut down Android Echo One-Eight-Four!” Alex doesn’t respond. I’m not wearing my implant. I climb up the bot, planting my feet on Steve’s chest. Pushing as hard as I can with my legs, I feel the synthetic material of my coveralls give way. Newtons third law takes effect. I slam hard into the wall, making all the boxes shake. For a moment, I’m dazed. Steve stands there stupidly, holding bits of material in his alloy fists. No time to waste. I roll over onto my belly and shove my arm under the shelf. My fingers brush against metal and carbon. I push myself deeper under the shelf, groping. “Convict Eighty-Seven is non-compliant, administering calming agent.” I scream and twist, trying to reach my implant and escape Steve’s needle as he inserts it into my butt. The pinch isn’t painful. I feel the edge of my

07 I SavagePlanets

Steve yanks me away from the shelf once again. My implant rolls out, now within easy reach. If I can get back down to the floor, I’ll be able to pick it up. Problem is, Steve lifted me off the ground like a pro wrestler. “Convict Eighty-Seven is non-compliant. I must protect him from injury.” The smell of overcooked coffee and burned popcorn hits me once more. His chest plate flaps open, unsecured. Reaching into his chest, I grab a handful of wires and yank. They come away. Glowing wires spew fluid, spraying my coveralls. Staining them with a glowing blue liquid. Steve drops me, and I stumble back into the prison corridor, still clutching the wires. His body tumbles to the ground in the door-frame, blocking the blast doors from closing. With a relieved sigh, I lean on the wall, panting. The world is spinning, and I’m finding it hard to keep my eyes open. I can’t remember a time I’d been this tired. In the storage vault of my repair shop, the androids power up. Their safety protocols activated by the proximity to a prisoner-damaged guard. As one, they turn to me. “Convict Eighty-Seven has destroyed government property. Convict Eighty-Seven, Ordinance 183slashB states we must confine you in isolation for sixty days.”

Their voices are in unison. And like Steve’s, they speak in a cold and lifeless tone. I have fifteen seconds before they power up their automotive systems and restrain me. I have to get to my implant. Pushing myself off the wall, I take four steps before my legs give out and I drop to the floor. The sedative is working its way through my muscles. Lightheaded, the door frame flashes a red warning as I reach for it. The androids in the vault speak again, “Unauthorized access detected.” It’s a long shot, but I have to try. “Alex, power down the droids.” My words slur, my eyelids are almost too heavy to open. My implant is within six feet. All I have to do it touch it and Alex will respond. I hoist myself to my knees and crawl over Steve. My lids droop, my blinks getting longer, my right eye can’t seem to focus. I’ve made it! No, I swipe empty air, just a little more and… The tiny yellow lights on the bots’ arms and legs flash. I have five seconds. My limbs are sluggish and numb. It’s within reach. It’s right there! I force myself to keep going. Just a few more seconds. My right arm doesn’t respond when I tell it to, and I lose my balance and face plant into the concrete.

I try to speak, to call to Alex, but my mouth won’t work. It comes out, “Arreg, bowwow dow….”

I wake laying on my back. It takes several minutes for the sedative to wear off before I can even open my eyes. I’m in one of the solitary confinement cells. It’s dark. But not the dark of night, the dark of not having my implant. After a few more minutes, I’m able to sit up. I frown. I’m not wearing my ripped work coveralls. I’m wearing a bright orange jumper with the number eighty-seven embroidered on the chest. The door opens, and three android guards step into the room. One bot has a long nasal tube and a bag full of gray liquid.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

implant, using the nail of my middle finger, I drag it toward me.

I swallow as the translucent door closes. I think about Vishal, my assistant. He won’t be back from emergency leave for another week. No one will notice I’m missing for seven days. “Convict Eighty-Seven has refused food. We must feed the convict.” As they step forward, I blink my right eye and scramble backwards. I hear Vishal in the cell across from me. There are three androids in his cell as well. He wales out, “I’ll eat, please no, not again…”

I hear the androids say, “Convict Eighty-Seven, will now be confined.” Turning my head so I can see my implant, I throw my left arm out to grab it. My hand lands on it. SavagePlanets I 08


Something unseen slammed into the still functional number-one booster. At enormous velocity, the baseball-sized meteoroid punched through the unit, reducing it to a twisted mass of scrap metal as the impact wrenched it from its mountings. Alarms screeched as the ship automatically cut the wrecked unit off from the reactor."

09 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction NO LARGER THAN a baseball, its coming. An even more unlikely wanderer and its precursors now it moved at a pace several times second collision, a glancing blow passed was almost empty. that of a high-velocity bullet. between the third contender and Spawnedofacataclysmicconflict rubblefromthefirsttwo,sentBut the not quite! between three larger asteroids, rock in the swarm’s wake, on the it streaked mindlessly through exact identical course despite space, oblivious to either destinaodds in the trillions to one. tion or destiny. A hot, tropical sun beat down on Contrary to popular belief, objects brilliant, white sand. Salt spray Far ahead, a swarm of small, in the asteroid belt are not denseswirled along the waterline as a sand-grain-sized meteoroids, the ly packed. They are in reality far warm, murmuring breeze drifted result of a freak impact between apart and collisions are rare. The in from the vastness of the South two of the adversaries, heralded region of space through which this PacificOcean.Thesoundsof

SavagePlanets I 10

children’s laughdrifted up from the water's edge, mixed raucous skirl of seagulls.



with the

few seconds

Something smashed hard onto

his head.

Joe Falcon half-opened his eyes. A young woman clad in a brief, suggestive, white bikini strolled across the beach towards him.

“What the f…?”

A glance in direction.

the solid, unforgiving bulkhead of the captain’s cabin. Weightless, he struggled to regain equilibrium. His eyes blind in the pitchdark, his ears rang to the noise of the ship's breach alarm. He reached out wildly in the darkness, his hand falling on the latch of the bathroom door.



warm, friendly smile.

Helen, his beautiful wife of just a week, with her soft, gentle voice and the look of an angel. A week? It seemed like a day. He watched her approach. Life was satisfying, becoming better by the minute. A

split-second blink. When his eyes opened again she was gone, the sand where she walked smooth and undisturbed. From somewhere nearby the rattat-tat, staccato rattle of an automatic weapon shattered the harmony, followed by the shrill, piercing whine of a

11 I SavagePlanets

Joe’s forehead struck

Seconds earlier, been reclining Australian

he’d in the hot sun, luxuriating in the soothing, caressing breeze of a time long gone but still cherished; a moment of bliss, a hard bang and a rude awakening. The beach dimmed in memory as, with eyelids squeezed tight, Joe battled to silence the persistent gremlin breaking rocks behind his temples. Every

a sharp, machine-gun rattle echoed through the structure around him. Something was not right. The dim emergency lights flickeredonandJoe'sbrain-tum bled back to reality. The faint, ever-present vibration was absent, the accommodation wheel motionless. When rotation ceased Joe's body had continued, inertia launching him

With a

the near wall and tapped the com-patch. “Sarah? What in God's name…?”

fusion-drive two, three more on the tanks, and six on the spine. No damage to the crew areas.” “The accommodation aren't turning. What pened to the power?”

wheels hap-

“Meteor shower, Boss.” The “We lost the feed from the voicebelongednottohisfirst reactor,” Terry replied. “I got us on officerbuttoTerryCaldwell,the backup now.” second engineer. “We been hit! Micro-m’s” “Good man. Engines?” “You're

joking, right?” “Wouldn’t do that,

Boss.” Joe whistled through his teeth. Thesourceofgunfireinhis dream now made sense; the irregular pings sounding through the toughened alloy structure of the ship were minute, sand-grainsized meteoroids hitting the outside of the accommodation wheels. Chances of being in the path of a meteoroid swarm were billions to one, a once in a lifetime event if at all. Unlikely, Joe gentle push against the thought, to bathroomdoor,hefloatedhappen again before he across to the crisis locker and died. his emergency suit and then dragged the stiff “What's our status?” fabric over his limbs as best possible in the zero-g. “Not too bad, Boss. Sizes less than two millimeSatisfiedatlast—hehadnottres, done mostly. We got may- be thisforalongtime—heclipped three hundred hits overall but the bubble helmet to his the old girl can handle it. belt, planted his feet on Only a few bad ones: three on the reactor module, four on

“Unit two's got a few hits. It can be repaired, I reckon, but we might need a dock.” “Anyone outside?” “Yeah. The guys are out on the rock, 'round the back. They should be safe. External links are down, so Sarah's going out after them. She's in the lock now.” Joe grunted acknowledgment. The vessel was tethered to the surface of an irregular shaped asteroid approximately three hundred metres across, the latest target in their never-ending treasure hunt through the Asteroid Belt. The 'guys', Carl Geddes and Peter Stanley, had been out taking core samples and soundings for analysis in the lab. A rock like this was not generally worth the effort but Carl had request- ed more time to check it over, muttering something about it being part of a planetary body, probably Mars, which somehow ended up here in the Belt. Unlike the typical

PlanetsRising I 12

Extraterrestrial Fiction

from his bunk. Deprived of the small but crucial centrifugal gravi- ty he had drifted without waking across the tiny room and into the opposite wall.

metallic or carbonaceous asteroids in the area, this one was igneous rock.


“Any hull breaches?”

Joe's nose wrinkled at the faint, “The engine module, tanks and ‘canned’ odour of the air. It felt upper work bays,” Terry replied. Chunks of Mars thrown off by cold. He shivered and then de“The shower hit mostly aft of the meteor impact often turned up on cided it was his imagination. The wheels. Bit of luck, hey Boss?” Earth, but how such a massive temperature was normal but the piece found its way out here Joe cool, bluish, secondary lights cast “Engineering?” couldnotimagine—hardly - suran unnatural pall that fooled the prisingsinceitwasnothisfield. senses. “We lost … oh, hang on … got a He was navy, or had been once. faint pressure drop in wheel two.” Opposite the door, a window Terrypeeredbrieflyataread“Are you alright, Sarah?” looked towards the bridge and out above his head. “A pinhole forward docking module. All was breach—easyfixed.” “Yes, Captain,” the voice of motionless beyond the polycarhisfirstofficerrepliedoverthe bonatepane,confirmingthelack “Fine. Engineering?” intercom. “Almost ready to go out of wheel rotation. Joe launched now.” himself at the exit ladder and “Oh, right. One engine out. floateduptothecentralspine, Reactor’s ig okay. One of the bigger “Sounds like the shower's over.” noringtherungs—withoutgravity, buggers tore straight through the theyweresuperfluous. casing on the primary power loom “I wouldn't be going otherwise. forward of the radiation shield. A Oh, hang on, I may not need to. An open hatch in the hub led up broken piece of the case must’ve The boys are coming around the to the corridor within the spine of taken out the power cables. Mari rock now.” the ship. Joe glanced aft; a few and Sam are getting ready to go metres away another rotating now.” Joesmiled—hisfirstofficerwassleeve, also motionless, marked younger than every one of the the ship's secondary wheel. The Joe nodded. Marius Pine and ‘boys’ on the ship by several cargo-zone access hatch beyond Sam Bright, the ship's chief and years. “Good. Be careful. Terry, was shut. Joe guessed Sarah electrical engineers, would sort I'm on my way up. Are all the had secured it on her way to the the mess soon enough. Joe took crew in suits?” service bays. a great deal of pride in Butterball's crew. They did their jobs expertly, “You bet, Boss.” Nothing else appeared comneither needing nor expecting promised other than the lights, orders. Joe pulled himself into the Joe berated himself for leaving suggesting damage was limited to command chair. his com-patch off, stared at it for the electrics, tanks and engine. A a moment, tapped it off again and lucky escape; the situation could The mineral prospecting ship then pulled himself through the have been far worse. Butterball began life as a longdoorway into the corridor. haul supply freighter built for the As Joe entered the bridge Terry Earth to Mars cargo run before Dim emergency lights illuminated turned, his battered, scar-covered the Resources War. Little more the interior of accommodation face showing obvious concern. than a long, spinal gantry conwheel number one, throwing That face always intrigued Joe. At necting the bridge and docking dark, surrealistic shadows on some point in the past, it had unmodule to the aft engineering the curved walls. Near-silence dergone considerable involuntary units, she resembled a giant stick haunted the motionless structure, re-arrangement. Joe did not ask; insect in space. The backbone the constant drone of the ventiit was not his business. That’s contained an access corridor and lation replaced by an almost indis- how it was in the Belt. formed the conduit through which cernible shush from the backup ran high-voltage lines delivering electricity from the reactor to all 13 I SavagePlanets

We still got one fusion engine, so we should be solid, Boss.”

The view on the command screen currently looked aft towards the radiation shadow-shield. Behind the bridge module, two counter-rotating habitat wheels contained the living and working quarters for the crew. With the loss of power, the vessel now functioned on batteries alone, and rotation of both wheels had stopped.

Joe's heart sank. The ship's main engine was a xenon-ion drive that provided low but constant thrust and used little fuel. This allowed her to accelerate at a slow, steady rate, ideal for her original intended purpose of freighting between Earth and Mars but useless for working the asteroids.

Above and below the primary engine were Further aft, removable work twin deuteriandcargoflatssataroundtheum-tritium spine. From there, the business fusion of mineral surveying and prospecting took place. In the bottom, forward work bay

metal as the impact wrenched it from its mountings. Alarms screeched as the ship automatically cut the wrecked unit off from the reactor. Joe slumped back into his seat, took a deep breath and waited for his heart to stop pounding. If the rock had struck a metre or two lower, it would have hit the ion drive. A few metres

further forward and it would have taken out the reactor and killed them all.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

other parts of the ship. Those cables now lay in shreds.

It was a frighteningly close call. “Crap,” he murboostmured. “Trip's over.” Marius and Sam were ers,fittedduringtherefitfor getting ready to begin emergency faster manoeuvring near targets repairs. in the Belt. One was now out of action, so Butterball would have Allan 'Waldo' Pearce peered Long streamers of liquid spewed to rely more on the ion drive, through the fogged windscreen into space from two of the many making close-quarters work more as he manoeuvred his brand new tanks lining either side of the gan- difficult. Porsche into the darkened parktry between the upper and lower ing lot. Hoarfrost-covered gravel flats,diffusingintorainbowclouds Joe cringed as the proximity crunched beneath the tyres as he of crystallized, frozen vapour. alarm let out a loud, chilling wail. turned into what he considered Butterball's lifeblood boiled away his personal parking space and in a cloud of glittering diamonds. Something unseen slammed into killed the ignition. the still functional number-one “Xenon numbers three and booster. At enormous velocity, Easing ample legs sideways, he seven,”Terryconfirmed.“There's the baseball-sized meteoroid struggled to extricate himself from still enough to get home once we punched through the unit, reductheseat—thedirectresultofa carry out repairs, but only just. ing it to a twisted mass of scrap PlanetsRising I 14

large, overweight man in a sleek, underweight car. He peered up towards the ridge. In the darkness ahead, the massive, ghostly domes of the Franklin Telescope Complex loomed in the crisp night sky. The facility perched far back on the western edge of the Mount Wellington plateau, over a thousand metres closer to the stars in the clear, southern skies of Tasmania. From here, the resident scientists enjoyed an unequalled view of the galaxy, but still with the nearby comforts of the cosy metropolis of Hobart. Little more than an hour away, the small capital city of

Australia’s island state sprawled along the lower, eastern slopes of the mountain and the beautiful Derwent River Estuary. Withthefullbulkoftheflattopped mountain between, the city lights did not interfere with the telescopes, and the closeness of civilization compensated for the long hours of solitude with which Allanchosetofillhislife. “God, it's bloody freezing up here,” he cursed. He hated the cold but accepted it for the sake of his work. Eager to escape the late autumn chill he reached in to retrieve his briefcase and bag, and then locked the door of the vehicle. For a man of his size the sports car was absurd, but he drove it regardless to remind

everyone a man of his status could afford the better things in life. Without doubt one of the pre-eminent members of his profession, he found getting respect from his fellow workers the hardest part of the job. He shivered, and crunched his way along the gravel walkway between the lot and the entrance to the observatory. With every laboured step his breath streamed in curling whorls of frozen white drifting away into the night. A battered, old, leather jacket did little to warm him as he pulled it tight around his girth and pressed on. Low, shielded footlights lit the way. The management permitted an absolute minimum of exterior lighting around this complex, to avoid interference with the array of giant optical telescopes. At the front entrance, Allan pushed his way through the swinging doors into the comparative warmth of the foyer. “Evening, Allan,” the security guard greeted, his eyes remaining glued to his newspaper and the steaming coffee in his hand. Allan ignored him, turning towards the reception centre. The man annoyed him, and persisted in addressing him byhisfirstname. Heshuffled across to the reception desk and the svelte, young

15 I SavagePlanets

hours could occasionally be carried out a comparative analpleasant, but he preferred workysis against previous records ing alone. Grateful for the chance of the same area. Any variation Heflashedhisbest,winning to work undisturbed, he threw his triggeredareport,flaggingthe smile. “Good evening, Sophia. bagstothefloorandloggedinto anomaly for closer inspection. How are you tonight?” the workstation. Any change in position indicated a body, a comet or asteroid, mov“None the better for being here,” With the system functioning proping through near space. she replied, casting a disapproverly, he waited as the telescope ing glare at the astronomer's sought out the region containing The operations manager already yellow-toothed leer. his current object of interest. He had the schedule for the night, so had scanned the area several while the hired help got the scope “You can always cheer things up times in the past year but his readyAllanshuffledovertothe a bit by agreeing to dine with me latest, still unexplained discovery kitchen to brew a fresh batch of sometime.” stemmed from a spontaneous coffee. decision to take a last look a few “In your dreams, Allan.” She weeks ago. In his mind, astronomy rode on returned the sweetest smile she caffeine. He intended to consume far more than considered could muster. Anincreasinglypopularscientific healthy in the course of the night, endeavour in recent decades, sufficienttokeephimtossingin The University fawned over hunting for asteroids, meteoroids his bed all the next day. With the Pearce, one of the most promiandcometsreflectedanincreas firstofmanycupsinhand,he nentastrophysicistsinhisfield, ing awareness of the fact somereturned to the desk and checked and considered itself privileged thing enormous and soulless the screen. to have him at all. Sophia did was inevitably destined to plough not share that opinion. Only his through humanity’s peaceful and “Ah, there you are my little unshakeable belief she would ignorant bliss in the near future. beauty.” one day succumb to his charms allowed her to be so blunt withFirst begun in the twentieth A dozen observatories were out suffering the wrath of her century,thefieldlostfavoursoon tracking this new target but Allan superiors. after, overshadowed by the more glamorousobjectiveoffindinghadfounditfirst.Inthelastfew years, using either Earth based “Ah well, I live in hope.” Wiping exoplanets, particularly Earthobservatories or orbiting satellite away a pretend tear, he lowered type ones. Forty years ago the telescopes, he had discovered his head in feigned misery and search for near-space objects numerous comets and other sigshuffledinthedirectionofthe once again reached prominence control room. due to a rock the size of a small nificantobjects,ascoreplacing bus slamming into the slums on him comfortably in the ranks of On most nights, other scientists the outskirts of the Indian city of hisfield,hethought. shared the complex, but tonight Mumbai. Thousands died and a Allan worked solo. Of all the jaded branch of astronomy again He always insisted his discovobservatories he had worked in, became fashionable. Everyone eries be in some way named he preferred this one. Possessing suddenly realised there was an after him; he never succeeded. It the latest in optical and computer endless supply of cosmic bullets was against current convention systems, the lab had a small ofout there. to have an astronomical body ficeinwhichhecouldworkapart named after the discoverer. from the telescope's operational Thetricklaynotinfinding - any personnel. thing new but rather, something The target tentatively designated changed. At regular intervals, NE372BJ4firstappearedfifteen He liked the solitude. Accepted, scanners recorded a patch of sky days ago, an uncatalogued object company through the long night and within minutes computers barrelling in from the far reaches

Extraterrestrial Fiction

woman with the misfortune to be tonight's shift manager.

PlanetsRising I 16

of the Solar System. A bright blue sand kilometres, a hop and a step camera. flareonasingleimagefirstdrewin astronomical terms. Allan’sattentiontothisspecific “That you, Waldo?” region of space. The phenomeIntrigued by Allan's discovery, na did not re-occur, but the scan OSEL agreed to power up its “Hey, Dave. What's with the identifiedanunusualtarget systems mov as the two travellers crowd? You guys having a party ing near the coordinates of the shot past each other at breakor something?” original event. neck speed. The encounter had come and gone hours earlier, and “Yeah man. Got bad news for Something about this one did not tonight Allan expected to see the you. You don't get to name angel. Object NE372BJ4 appeared results. other comet after yourself. Hard slightly elongated by the vapour cheese, old buddy.” tail typical of all comets, but it was By the time the call came, he still well beyond the orbit of the was well into his third game of “Crap!” Allan shoved his keyboard planet Jupiter, much too far from computer chess and fourth packet aside and turned to face Clarke, the Sun for a tail to be developof potato chips, the crumbled more than a little annoyed at his ing. In addition, the light curve remains of which lay scattered associate's lack of tact. “Why the was wrong. Uniform and unvaryeverywhere around his chair. The hell not?” ingly bright, it differed monitortohisleftflickeredand from Davis Clarke, a close friend “Check your data feed.” other and member of the obCox 24 Allan turned his attention back jects to his workstation as a series of in images began to scroll across the deep screen.Asthefirstcameup,he space, took his closest look yet at object which NE372BJ4. tended tofluc“You're going to be tuate in famous, buddy,” brightness Clarke said. as they rotated or tumbled. “I'm alA week earlier, Allan had contacted a friend at the Outer System Exploration Laboratory. By sheer coincidence, OSEL's latest mission was close to the target, so the university had lodged a formal request for the probe to take a photograph. The unmanned Cox 24 spacecraft would pass NE372BJ4 at a distance of less than five-hundred-thou 17 I SavagePlanets

team, peered out from beneath long and untamed hair. Behind him a small group of fellow workers milled about, drinks in hand, as they smiled and waved in the direction of the

ready…” For a few short moments, he stared at the fuzzy, elongated image. His jaw dropped. “Holy snappin' duck s…” “You're a rock star Allan.” Clark's voice faded into the distance. “We're all going to be famous, man.”

SavagePlanets' Alternate Ending

Displayed on the monitor of his workstation, was an image of the interloper. Shaped like a giant ice cream cone, Allan immediately recognized it from a science fiction show from years gone by. “But how could this be?” he mumbled to himself. Alan looked for volumetric data

and mass data. Knowing these two values, he could derive a rudimentary density number for the structure. He checked his division twice because what he found validated his worst fears. The structure had the same density as material from the inside of a neutron star. In that instant, he knew for sure that he was not going to be a “rock star” as Clark had suggested. This structure didn’t just resemble the Planet Killer from Star Trek. It was a planet killer, composed of neutronium, hurling towards the inner planets. The questions as to who and how and why became completely irrelevant.

We hope you enjoyed this alternative ending to Falcon's Call. You can enjoy the original story by visiting the provided link.

Copyright © 2018 by Michael D Waller. All Right Reserved. Published by Rampart Publishing 2018 ISBN: 9780648275541

PlanetsRising I 18

Extraterrestrial Fiction

He physically felt ill as the little hairs on the back of his neck began to stand. His first instinct was to dismiss the data as an elaborate hoax or, maybe worse, as a hallucination. He checked and re-checked the feed for the source information of the data. This was no joke and he was not imagining this.

Planetary Communiqué ThePlanetaryCommuniquéisasectionreservedforthedisseminationofofficial 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, Hojack requires compliance with all opinions and edicts issued by the Galactic potentate and its politburo.

Your Overlord Grawth, the Hilariously Humorous Hijinxer, has recently noticed you guys are killing each other. Angered to the point that his blood actually came to a rolling boil, he has concluded that this was not being done to please him but for some unintelligible reason. I, Hojack, your underlord, send greetings, and this, your quarterly communiqué. First, know your place: Your spehumanoids with almost identical an expansive franchise network cies is so stupid that you waste DNA structure called, I believe, on all civilized planets. For an yourmiserablelittlelivesRussian fighting andUkrainian.Atfirst, additional$5permonth,Smell-Owith one another for no reason. we thought this was an altercation Vision is available for species who Whenwefight,itisforentertain between the makers of a type of require olfactory delight. ment.Whenyoufight,itisfordirt. salad dressing and, presumably, the consumers of the dressing. So, you see, for each life lost, Don’t get me wrong as we are Our scientists, however, quickly there is a drop in our revenues. anything but peaceful. We reign determined this could not be the This is completely unacceptable on our subjugated planets with case due to the fact that Russian to us. anironfist.Wedon’tsaberrattle, salad dressing is gross and but,instead,wedecapitatefirst presumably indigestible by all Lord Grawth has ordered the and then live to brag about it. multi-cellular organisms. immediate cessation to all hostilYour Overlord’s lactose triggered ities and the resumption of your flatulence(aka“TheMassive Even if we cannot understand the miserable little lives. He wants to Gassive”) has more energy than reason for this aggression, each make sure you don’t get everyall of the munitions accessible to and every human life is precious one killed because there are so your civilization in all of your histo us. many other disasters that he still tory combined. If the gas ejection wants to see. He wants you to be is even in the general vicinity of Rest assured, this is not because around when Democracy is lost. your planet, you can expect it to we care for you. The reason each He wants you to feel the heat be a near-extinction event. In one life is precious is because each when your planet scorches to particular gaseous exchange, life tells a story. Each story is near Venusian temperatures due your Overlord destroyed an entire marketed and packaged into its to runaway greenhouse gasses. arm of the Milky Way. The stench own reality show and is syndiHe wants watch your global caused some of the surviving civcated and sold to the network economy collapse due to supply ilization to commit hara-kiri. Talk with the highest bidder. It is chain disruptions. After all, it was about collateral damage! then beamed to beings who pay so much fun to see your idiotic Netflix$19.permonthforthe response to the most recent panWe watched with horror the premiumservice.Yes,Netflixis demic on your sorry planet. And “incident” between two groups of an intergalactic organization with he wants to watch your global 19 I SavagePlanets

gravity. Seeing as how this would impact the dynamics of the quantum gravitationalfield,andseeingashowyourspecieshasnoideahow gravity really works, this would be a silly discussion. As your underlord, it brings me infinitepleasuretobringtoyou Edict #3 the edicts for this quarter. economy collapse..

You cannot use nuclear weapons. This is not because we care about mass destruction or global contamination. It is simply because it makes the transmission of the images from your planet a little bit fuzzy. As we YoumuststopfightinginUkraine. said, the show must go on. Edict #2 If we detect that someone is going to use nukes, we will immediately and without haste provide lethal and hilarious military support for the Ifyoucontinuetofight,Lord other side. Grawth will sanction your entire planet. His Lordship will start by In the past, we have provided the underdog with the following sophistiturning off gravity to your planet. Asyoufloataroundweightless, cated weapons system. make sure you stock up on bisThe “Sting” surface-to-air missile. The missile is not particularly lethal, phosphonates and anti-emetics but if hit, it will make you hum a tune from The Police over and over because your bones are going again in your head. The effect is permanent with no possibility of a cure. tobecomesoftandfloppyand your stomach is going to be doing The “Juvenile” anti-tank missile. Again, this is not a lethal weapon, per some Olympic-grade somerse, but the target will revert to their teenage years with all the horrible saults. And good luck trying to accompanying symptoms including acne, social awkwardness, and a pour yourself your morning cup predilection to grunge rock. In a sense, it’s a fate worse than death. of coffee! Rest assured that all of this is nothing compared to the The“BladeSwitch”unmanneddrone.Thisisafieldweaponandwhen galacticbroadcastofyourfirst deployed over enemy territory it will cause all of the razor blades to attempt to use the bathroom in a zero gravity environment! I would be dull. The net effect is an increase in the nicks and cuts. Users will usually succumb to infection or hemorrhage over a period of months or say that it’s all just clean fun, but yearsastheykeeppurchasingandusingnewbladesinhopesoffinding there is nothing clean about it. something that will give them a smooth shave. And this is exactly what you all deserve if you don’t cut out the fighting.Onceyourgravityis - disAs your humble Underlord Hojack, and in the words of Lord Grawth whose wisdom was stolen by John Lennon: “Please give peach a continued, your planet will incur chance.” a reactivation fee and someone has to be present when the tech arrives to reconnect your service. So make sure you have your subspace phone near you so you don’t miss the call from the tech, otherwise the next available appointment would be a few centuries later. Edict#1

What’s worse than losing your gravity is having the Overlord reverse your

PlanetsRising I 20


In209,JamesCameronre Avatar program. His brother dies leased Avatar with the highest before departure from Earth, and production cost of all time, one Jake, genetically matched to the billion dollars. It is also the Avatar, is offered new legs if he highestgrossingfilmofalltime, takes the assignment. exceedingTitanicanotherfilm by James Cameron. Avatar Experiencing the freedom of received multiple nominations for being mobile again through his AcademyAwardsin201,but Pandoran Avatar, Jake falls in only won Best Art Direction, Best love with a Na'vi woman, Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects. In my humble opinion, it should have won Best Picture. Ifsomehowyoumissedthisfilm, you owe it to yourself to see it. In brief, on the lush alien world of Pandora live the Na'vi, beings who appear primitive but are actually highly evolved, having learned to live with Nature. Because the planet's environment is poisonous to humans, human/ Na'vi hybrids, called Avatars, must link to human minds to allow for free movement on Pandora. JakeSully(SamWorthington), a paralyzed former Marine, has a twin brother assigned to the

21 I SavagePlanets

conductor. The viewer and Jake learn of the Na’vi’s connection to their planet, and we, along with him, discover the dangers and wonders of Pandora. A planet that looks like a healthy coral reef above water. He is like a child, learning to climb trees and move through the forest,rideDirehorses-(nectari vores), and ultimately tame and flyMountainBanshees.Hemust not only learn their language, but how to hunt. Yet his true mission is to spy on and betray them.

Butmuchlikeotherfilms - por traying indigenous tribes, he is enchanted and transformed. Taken in by the Na’vi, they adopt Jake.Inhisgratitude,hefightsfor them against his own kind to save Neytiri,(ZoeSaldana)As . abond Pandora. Avatar is more than just with her grows, he is drawn into a a warning to future generations to battle for the survival of her world. preserve our planet or suffer the Theyfightthehumaninvaders,aconsequences. corporation called the Resource DevelopmentAssociation(RDA), Thefilmcombinesscience raping the planet for unobtanium, fictionandfantasyinawaythat a rare room temperature super is endearing to readers of both

genres. It introduces tropes, such James Cameron listened to released each December thereafasthefloatingmountainforests, them, and not only is he making ter. So this adds a cherry on top that soon appear in many other asequel,butismakingfivemore.oftheholidaysforthenextfive stories. But it is also a Saturday In fact, he is making all of them at years. matinee adventure, with cliffhangthe same time! ers(literally),battles,heroesand The production budget for Avatar villains. There is no doubt in my mind 2 is only a quarter of the original that each one will be a success. film,whichisstillquitehefty.The Fansandfilmgoersresponded, Avatar 2 will be released in CGI no doubt will be better, but begging for more. There are even December 2022, after an eight it was astounding before. The Na’vi avatars for use online, video year delay, some of which is main characters are back, as games, and a novel by Nicole related to the pandemic. Avatar well as the original actors, except Pitesa, Avatar: The Na’vi Quest. 3,45and6willsubsequentlybe Sigourney Weaver will play a

SavagePlanets I 22

different role as she was killed in force for the Na’vi in defending but I’m sure it will galvanize viewthefirstfilm.SimilarlyStephanPandora. So no doubt, we will get erstoseetherestofthefilmsin Lang, the evil Marine Colonel to see them learn the skills that the series. Perhaps the technoloQuaritch,killedinthefirstfilm Jake will had to master. The joy and gy improved, or there were other also return, revived somehow. challenge of those skills and the factors, not to mention writers’ discovery of their limitations will demands to add them. Consider What can we expect from Avatar add the thrilling dimension which thatthelastfilmedunderwater 2 The Way of Water? A brief summadethefirstfilmsuchajoytowar was in Thunderball and mary without spoilers: Omiticaya watch. Aquaman but I believe we will see village and the Hometree has even more amazing underwater beendestroyedinthefirstfilm,When James Cameron made the sequencesintheAvatarfilms. and the Na’vi build a village near filmTheAbyss,oneofmyfavor the Tree of Voices, after defeatiteunderwaterfilmsofalltime, This article merely touched the ingthehumansinthefirstbattle. he swore he would never make edges of the Avatar universe. The RDA returns to Pandora in anotherfilmwithunderwater There se are innumerable links on force and drives the remaining quences. Reason being it was not the web exploring that universe.

Omiticaya to the reef village of only dangerous, but he often had You can learn to speak Na’vi. You Metkayina, on the other side of to wait while the visibility in the can memorize all the villages, the planet. The Sea people live tankwherehefilmedmostofthe know all the names of the animals there, and Kate Winslet, a free sceneshadtoimprove(through of Pandora, study the Na’vi’s diver named Ronel, becomes inthe settling of silt suspended in folklore and history. You can get tegraltotheplotforseveral the films water) before he could continthe inside scoop on the RDA, and to come. ue. But Pandora is a water planet, study the avatar linking technoloand not going there, deprived the gy, which I’m sure will improve in Yet the real drivers of Avatar 2 audience of more than half of that theupcomingfilms.Youcanim The Way of Water will be the next world. merse yourself to the extent that generation. Jake and Neytiri’s like Jake, you will become your kids will grow, along with other The decision to include underwaavatar. Or maybe our avatars villager kids, and become the new ter sequences is anyone’s guess, become us!

23 I SavagePlanets

See Your Story In Print.



MIKE WALLER THE TASMANIAN TIGER by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond Mike Waller is a multi-award winning author and independent publisher who has written in some form or other for many years in relation to other occupations, but has only recently turned to writing fiction. During his life, he has been many things, ranging from public servant to computer programmer to boat designer, and has now decided to do that for which he has a great passion. His books FALCON'S CALL and HAWK: HELLFIRE are B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees in the genre of Science Fiction 2019 and 2020, and FALCON’S CALL is a Reader's Favorite Gold Medal winner 2019. Mike is a great believer in the idea that humankind 25 I SavagePlanets

will one day outgrow its troubled childhood and reach for the stars. His great passion is to explore that possible future, not just from the scientific viewpoint, but from the lives of everyday normal people. His stories generally feature strong, independent and powerful heroines and heroes, and have strong plot driven stories with well developed main characters. His inclination is to write science fiction action/adventure stories. Mike currently lives in Queensland, Australia (beautiful one day, perfect the next). Let’s start with the last sentence of Chapter 19 in your novel, Falcon’s Call. “… this voyage had begun as a dream, and now it was beginning to unravel, slowly turning into a nightmare.” This line resonates with SavagePlan-

I don’t think I do this deliberately; it’s just the way I write. Certainly, in the Falcon novels there are a number of important characters, but the main character is always Joe Falcon, and he binds the story together. Other characters come into the story to support Joe, or to broaden the world building, but it always comes back to Joe. Other I have a tendency to take the dreams to characters are secondary, but with some of nightmares approach. The general line of the most important, I try to make them fairly mystoriesisthatinanotherwise - (reason round,complexindividuals,ratherthanflat ably) happy world, things start to go wrong ThesameistrueofHawk:Hellfire.Hawk and get progressively worse, leading up to is very much a loner, the eventual triumph but he knows his limits of the main characand calls on help ter. My starting point when he needs it. I is never “peaches have always believed and cream”, and people do not funcseveral of my chartion well in isolation. acters start out with Most of us are team existing problems oriented and a story but still in control, with just one main thenfindthem character and many selves in circumflatsupportcharac stances over which ters would be a little they have little or boring. Utilizing some no control. Lazarus of the secondary Hawk, for example, characters in a bigger is in an unhappy way also allows me place at the start to introduce additionof the story Hawk: al strings to the plot Hellfire,butbythe lines, drawing them end of the story and all together through after going through the story to increase the nightmare, he suspense. It takes a findshimselfina bitmoreworkfiguringoutallthecharacte better place where he is in full control. For and keeping track of them, but it’s worth the Joe Falcon, it’s similar, but the nightmares trouble, I think. stretches over three novels, the last of which is still in the process. There is one One of the most important questions I obvious exception to this basic rule. Solhave is, as a ship designer, why didn’t itude’s End starts with the nightmare and you include images and designs of the then follows the main character, Echo, as spaceships in your novels? shefightstoclawherwayout. ets magazine because of our motto, where dreams and nightmares collide. So my question, do you prefer to write dreams where nightmares intrude, or nightmares in which the dream blossoms up through the cracks of the story?

In your books, you chose the most challenging approach, an ensemble cast. There are a lot of moving parts. How come?

It simply never occurred to me to add illustrations to my novels. I always try to keep my yacht designing and my writing separate. It helps me to organize myself and my time, which tends to be in short supply.

SavagePlanets I 26

Hobart in Tasmania, and Coonabarabran Except for explanatory maps at the beginin New South Wales) are all places I know ning, images in novels have never been a well, and I prefer in my books to describe favorite of mine, mostly because I think it places with which I am familiar. I also use is better to let the reader use their imagisites in the USA, Sumatra and Italy in the nation about the spaceships etc. Human Falcon books. The fact I place characters imagination beats a diagram any time. outside the USA or Europe is something Bestleftforgraphicnovels(whichIalso my readers seem to appreciate, and I have love.) received good comments on that. Thesecondisthatit’snotreallymyfield. Having said that, the Brisbane/Sunshine Spaceship illustrations are the domain of Coast area is one of the greatest places on artists, not naval architects. I am not an Earthtolive(beautifuloneday,perfectthe excellent artist, and trying to create imagnext). I have lived in several places, and es suitable for novels with the software I this region is by far the best. use for yacht design wouldbedifficult At SavagePlanets, and time-consumwe wholeheartedly ing. When I look agree with your love at some of the of science fiction! amazing spacecraft You, like us, do it illustrations on the for the love of the web, I am in awe of genre. What was the the talent of these path that led you to artists, and I know I writing? Was there could never do it as a particular book well as they do. that made you move on to becoming an One thing I enjoy author? about your books is that Australia, and Brisbane in particular, play the role of the center of humankind. Almost all other scifi novels place that center elsewhere. What unique qualities distinguish Brisbane from other parts of the Earth as the seat of humanity?

I have always loved sciencefiction - be cause of the potential scope. It is the true genre of the imagination. Every other genre besides Sci-Fi deals withafinitearea:what is now and what has been.Sci-Fidealswitheverythingelse—all that is to come, all that is yet to be learned ordiscovered,andsoon—andislimited only by the imagination of the writer.

I have never indicated or intimated that Brisbane, or any other place in AustraI have been writing since I was a child. I lia, is the center of humanity. Australia is haveanactiveimaginationandascientific simply the location where some characbent, and I have always had my mind in the ters in the Falcon books live. My reason stars, so it was natural for me to turn to Scifor choosing it was that it is my backyard. Fi.MyfirsteffortwaswhenIwasinprimary TheplacesIdescribeinAustralia (Bris school and it was, of course, rubbish. I’ve bane and Mount Mee in Queensland, 27 I SavagePlanets

improved since then, just a little. The book that got me into Sci-Fi was one I read when I was a teen: Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I continued to read the entire original trilogy, and I can’t think of a better introduction to Sci-Fi.

hundreds or thousands of entries. Some award organizations, such as the highly respected Indie B.R.A.G. Awards, and Literary Titans, give their medallion only to books that meet their high standards against set criteria, and are not actually competitions.

Your books have won several awards. Was this something you actively sought, or was fame and prizes thrust upon you?

If Hollywood came calling, would you allow your books to be made into films, or would you insist they remain novels?

As you know, I write for pleasure, not for money, but I would be wrapped if someone wanted to make mybooksintofilms. I doubt that is likely, however. Most of For any self-pubmy stories would be lished author, exexpensive to produce, posure is critical and besides, I don’t to bring attention thinkfilmproducers to your book, pay much attention and competitions to independent puband awards are lishers. If it should a huge part of ever happen, it would that, just as they depend on the proare in any creducer and the deal. ative endeavor, There are many and very much cons out there, and an accepted part it would have to be a of the industry. legitimate offer from The best award a legitimate organiorganizations zation or producer. place the winning I would also want to books under the be at least a consuleye of the right tant on the project, people, everyone just to have at least from bloggers, some control over publishers and what someone else does to my story. I bookstorestofilmproducers,andany don’t insist on my stories remaining books, self-published author who ignores this because stories are meant to be shared in does so at their own risk. whatever medium they are most accessiThere are some competitions I have ble to an audience, but I also never write a nominated my books for, and this does book with the idea that it might become a not differ from any other creative endeavfilm.TheonlyfilminvolvedwhenIwriteis or I’ve engaged. In others, third parties the one playing in my head. have nominated my books for awards. Politics plays an important role in your Impartial judges set criteria to judge any books. Typically, it is the dull part of any nominated book, and the best receive Neither. Fame and prizes are not what independent book awards are about. They are about exposure.

SavagePlanets I 28

novel, but you make it engaging. Have you previously held a political office, or are you just reflecting on previous political discourse and incorporating it into the woven scenarios? I’ve never been involved in politics in any way, and really have no interest in it other than having a general public interest. I try to incorporate it into some of my novels because it is a fact of human life. Where you have humans, you have politics at every level, and when you think about it, politicians are amongst the most controversial characters we have. I don’t so much include politics, but the politicians themselves, as they can be agoodwaytoincreasetheconflicton which all novels rely. The idea the Falcon clan could do what they do without some kind of political interaction would not be believable. The views expressed in my books, in this regard, are not personal views at all, but mostly general observations from watching politics from afar. As you say, politics in a novel has to be done without making it boring. It has to advance the story in some way, otherwise it gets cut. I try to make some politicians good, and others bad, just to keep a balance, but they make fantastic bad guys.. Do you map out your novels or are they all written by the seat of your pants?

okayinothergenres,butinsciencefiction,I thinkitwouldbeverydifficulttoget abelie able, coordinated story. Will you continue to write other Joe Falcon novels, or are you moving on to other projects now that you published Falcon’s Ghost, the second book in the series? There will be one more Falcon novel, and that is book three, Falcon’s Bane, which I am now writing. The series will end there as a trilogy for now. I think there is a lot of scope for additional books in the Falcon universe in the future, but for now, that will have to wait. After Falcon’s Bane, I intend to go back and write another Echo’s Way book, and then on to Lazarus Hawk, which I want to turn into a series. Finally, is Joe Falcon your alter ego, or is there another character in your books that is more similar to you? If so, how do you differ from Joe? JoeFalconisdefinitelynotme,butIhaveto admit there is just a little of me in his makeup. This is only natural, as Joe is the character whose head I spend most of my time inside, and inevitably, a bit of me will end up in the mix. I would not say he is my alter ego, as he is very much a separate character. His general attitudetowardslife(easygoing,familyand peoplefirst,governmentsandeverything else second) is very much me, but that’s about it. Joe’s background, political and religious opinions, choices in life and so on, are his alone. I am not nearly as brave as Joe Falcon, and I doubt I could carry the load he ends up carrying in the books.

I am very much a plotter. I know exactly where my story will go and how it will end before I write it. More often than not, however, I only write down the basic plot points for each scene. I have a splendid Physically, I based Joe on someone I know, memory and the rest of it I store in my but not me. I always have a real individual in scene outline until I need it; the outline mind when I describe a character, as it helps acting as a prompt when necessary. me visualize them in my mind’s eye, and in Mostly, I work out the details when I Falcon’s Call, three characters are people I shouldbesleeping(likemanywriters; I know personally. I don’t base characters on am an insomniac). I have never been a myself on principle. seat-of-the-pants writer. That might work 29 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Got an idea for a story? That's awesome!! Put pen to paper and consider submitting your content to SavagePlanets. We are always looking for exclusive creative content in the following categories: 1. Sci-Fi Poetry 2. Sci-Fi Short Stories 3. Sci-Fi Entertainment 4.Sci-Fi Multimedia Arts 5. Two-liner Stories

Each month, we will select the best entries for publication in our magazine, our website, or social media accounts.

For more information... Visit our website at for rules and our submission guidelines. All submissions must be your original work and you must have the rights to submit the work for publication. Must be 18 years or older. Additional rules apply.

SavagePlanets I 30

SCI-FI ENTERTAINMENT TRAWLING THE SILENT SEA by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond For once, a TV show uses this loss as a premise for a science fictionseries.TheSilentSeaisa Korean drama directed by Choi HangYongbasedonhis2014 We are probably living during shortfilmTheSeaofTranquility. the last years of abundant clean Intheyear2075,theEarth’s wateronEarth(oranywhereelse, oceans are mere puddles in a for that matter). What with ocean vast desert. The rivers are gone dumping, a massive population and the high mountains are explosion, and entire cities being devoid of snow. All life is facing built in deserts, our wasteful use extinction. of water is leading to an insurmountable shortage. People Governments ration water. taking baths and three showers a Criminals get none. Laborers only day isn’t helping. a bit more. Scientists involved in research to save the planet and Wefilloursewersdailynotonlyrestore the water supply have unnuclear reactor supposedly killed with mercury from broken therlimited(gold)rationcards.Even the occupants. The actual reason mometers, but also with the water they are conservative with water is far more sinister. we blithely let run down the drain. use. Pets are illegal and hunted Reclaimingthatwaterfilledwith to preserve water for humans. The Korean astronauts on the hormones, chemicals, and toxins Dehydration becomes the number mission must recover an asset isincreasinglydifficultandless one cause of death. from the Station. A precious samreliable. Desalinization plants ple that not even the Commander can’t nearly meet demands. The TV series opens in Seoul, knows might be the key to saving South Korea, where the “National Earth. Previous missions discovMeanwhile, movies and TV shows Committee for Human Survival ered ice deep in the craters of frequently feature people standing Measures” is launching a new the moon. They built the Balhae under showers for hours washing mission to a lunar station where Station to study and research this away turbulent emotions and a an enigmatic mass casualty event ice. The potential secret that held valuable resource. Sending that derailed research. Balhae Lunar water on the moon may be the message out to the public encour- Research Station is devoid of life key to keeping water on Earth. ages further waste. after a radiation leak from their 31 I SavagePlanets

Yet lunar water has unique propdeath by an unseen force, the The series suffers from the same erties. It can be deadly, as well pace may seem too slow for the miss-translation problems in the as a lifesaver. All but one person average viewer. subtitles people complained about on the Station died from it. The in Squid Game. But The Silent astronauts, after surviving a crash Many of the actors are graduates Sea is not straightforward, which that strands them, must march of Squid Game, including Yoo is why some problems are not across the Moon’s surface to the Gong, who plays the mission’s just in translation. Granted, I do station.Theretheyfindthedead commander. Inwardly, the comnot know how to speak Korean, collected in one corridor. Their mander struggles with a variety of butfromwatchingfilmsin - oth bodies frozen like cordwood in the directives coming both from Earth er languages both familiar and vast station. and the crew, along with the risks unfamiliar, I can tell things get associated with bringing lunar wa- a bit muddled, clearly evident in The Silent Sea combines science ter back home. Each episode is the facial responses of the actors fictionwithmysteryandhorror. psychologically intense, because following a bit of dialogue. There are several subplots onof emotional problems occasiongoing, one of which involves the ally out of reach for the Western In my mind, though, it makes Americans. They hired one of the mind. the series more challenging and Korean astronauts as a double enjoyable to watch. Figuring out agent to secure samples of lunar Yet this makes the ongoing story what I missed, or correcting miswater for their own study and compelling,earningita10% interpretations of both the action research. But the story revolves on Rotten Tomatoes. And yes, I and speech, is intriguing. Most aroundDr.SongJi-an(playedby haven’t given away the plot, with sciencefictionnowadaysisCGI Bae Doona, previously seen in almost no spoilers. dependent. They set this show Cloud Atlas and Sense8). almost entirely on Balhae Station, Asafirst-timeviewer,however,with very little movie magic to Dr. Song is an astrobiologist. Her they often leave you in the dark, enhance it. Although they make purpose on the mission is vague, parsing out character motivations one huge mistake, gravity outeven to herself. They selected her and insights as needed to further sidethestationisonethird(like perhaps for political purposes, but the story. Offering them up at the Moon) while inside everyone also because her sister, a rethe same time as the characters walks around like on Earth. There searcher, died at Balhae Station. themselves learn about other are other scenes where this error The Committee is interested in crew members while advancing is clear as well. her sister’s encrypted research the plot. Throw in some dream files,whichDr.Songmight sequences, and you end up learn- That aside, I think The Silent Sea access by knowing her sister’s ing what previous events meant takes us to a realistic near future idiosyncrasies.Thosefilesmight onlyinreflection. dilemma,injectssciencefiction contain the knowledge neceswith a hefty dose of mystery and sary to safely use lunar water on If you choose to invest the time intrigue, plus a dash of horror. It Earth. in the series, don’t base your moves the center of our universe decision on continuing by the from the Washington DC to Seoul, Each episode plods along befirstepisode.Thereissomuch changing our perspectives and cause of all the banter among the backgroundpresented(a - com assumption about space exploraastronauts. Banter that underpins mon no-no in story writing) that tion and astrobiology. the cultural differences between it may cause you to turn away. Koreans and the show’s global I encourage you to stick with it. The series is available now on audience. While there are moIt gets much better, and many Netflixwithmultiplelanguage ments of sheer terror, such as an reviewers describe the ending as subtitles. Enjoy! astronaut drowning in his own spectacular. That always makes fluids,oranotherbeingliftedten me nervous, as hyperbole often feetoffthefloorandchokedto leaves me disappointed.

SavagePlanets I 32


He screamed and grasped onto whatever he could. His index and middle finger caught a corner of the rock and he pulled himself up far enough so he could grasp it with his other hand. He lay now, stomach down, lashing himself to it, and realized where he was."

33 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Reality faded in and out. Blackness, cut to gray, then an eventual return to blackness. The sharp, incessant ringing in her ears faded in and out periodically, returning to the depths of black. Broken arm and almost certainly a broken back.

She woke with a gasp.

their bodies quickly felt as if they could rip it clean off, revealing the primitive white bone that took millions of years to evolve and crush into dust in the instant from which it began.

As the ship descended closer to themagnificentstorm,the - colThe ship’s automated audio syslective experience on board was tem let out three dings, and then as if the world was ending. Here, it stabilized. An intense shaking millions of miles away from them, suddenly stopped, easing the their‘worlds’revolved.Theflesh crew's fears. They relaxed back that once felt closely attached to intheirheavilyfortifiedchairsand SavagePlanets I 34

took a deep breath, each letting it out jaggedly. Out of the entire complement on board, only one person had made this voyage before. Kyle did not talk positively about many things this far away from his children, but the sight of Jupiter up close cleared that from his mind for a brief second.

a kiss and a hug. They sat down over tea and discussed how they were going to make their payments this month. “I’m in deep debt, Kyle, deeper than you just helping me out every month. This is big. We need money now.” “Has Esperanza asked for it?” He thought it over and told her not to answer.

On Phobos, the sole inhabited moon of Mars, he had a small home where his children currently lived. He closed his eyes and imagined it as vividly as he could. So far away now, he took out a picture of his family from his jacket and looked longingly at it. It wasn’t long before that one night he came home, and his children gathered in the kitchen surrounding Melinda at the table.

“You know the answer to that. I was just down the street at the bar watching the inter-planetary Colosseum match when I saw a help wanted poster on the wall. We’ll have to prepare for it on one of those military training grounds, but the money is great.”

“I thought you wouldn’t come, it’s late,” he said.

He got up and poured them another.

He ushered his kids into bed with

‘Soon, I’ll hug them all again,’ he

35 I SavagePlanets

“Where is it? And how dangerous?” she asked, looking down at her empty cup, already knowing.

thought. He closed his eyes, and the ship settled, now more stable on the outpost landing pad, relaxing him further.

Theartificialgravityintheirsuits weighed them down, but they all continued to feel as if they were going to blow away in the storm’s unrelenting wind. The team, chained tightly to each other on the crashed asteroid in Jupiter’s Big Red Spot, walked in a singlefiletokeeporder.Ifoneof themdidsomehowflyoffintothe storm, there was a faint possibility that together, they could save the unlucky one. The lead and rear person in the formationhadthemostartificial gravity pumped into their suits. Therefore, it was their jobs to anchor them all down if any issue arose. This tactic had been unsuccessful in the past, but it was the only one available when traversing in this storm.

“There!” exclaimed Hopper at the head of the line, the team leader, motioning to the small, twinkling bright blue light only a few paces away. The multitude of colors in the atmosphere blinded the crew, forcing them to inch forward. Melinda, second in line, got out her standardized container, carefully capturing it inside, then tightening the lid as much as she could. There, in the small glass jar,floatedanextremelyrare chemical compound. Only a mere few ounces of it could power an entire outer world station for six months. That is precisely what the mission was about. It was so precious and extraordinarily gorgeous it dazzled all, both past and present; those enlisted as galactic catchers. It was a shame that they had to come all this way for it, into the closest version of hell the waking

consciousness could imagine. scintillated in the atmosphere, Many explorers and laborers died creating a surreal image in the here within Jupiter’s famed storm. afterglow. A vision for the crew Theofficialcountstopped-millen to admire as it spread out in all nia ago. directions. From the back of the chained line, Kyle spoke up on the radio, saying it was time to head back. “Hopper, we should get moving.” “Wait. Just give me a moment,” Hopper said.

“What a place to die,” marveled Hopper. “This is God’s Eye, the benevolent, as he watches us all sin.” She watched three tornadoes collide along the horizon, then she turned back.

Hopper, in the lead, was looking out at the breathtaking spectacle, the most dangerous storm in the entire Sol System. The rest of the line spread out to see the stunning view that only a few had ever witnessed.

The team’s chained line reached the shuttle, taking them back to the station less than an hour later. They went through the pressurization process and were now Lightningflashedinthecloudsworking on the elements they below, illuminating the surroundbrought back from The Spot. ing area for as far as the eye could see. Bright orange, red, The outpost was making its way blue, dark purple and white gases to Titan, where they would unload SavagePlanets I 36

the elements. From there, they placed them on a freighter to be distributed to all the human colonies, far and wide. As Kyle leaned over a lab table, carefully separating clusters of the elements by size, retrieved from The Spot, Melinda entered the sealed lab. Kyle stopped his work and looked up at her. “Close one today, huh?” He said in his Southern American drawl. “Always is,” she remarked with her British accent. “Don’t worry, we should get close to our quota soon.”

with his other hand. He lay now, stomach down, lashing himself to it, and realized where he was. He looked out into the abyss of forever.

In a panic, he glanced down at He awoke an unknown time later. the rock, clinging to it for dear life,andrealizedhewasfloating Kyle drifted in and out. He woke among the enormous rings of again laying on his side, tears Saturn. rolling down his face. He stared at Saturn’s debris for a long time, He tried to calm himself, but not thinking or saying anything, founditverydifficult.Kyle-resort lost. ed to the breathing pattern that Melinda taught him long ago. He thought of it as pseudoscience then, but now it worked.

Looking to his right, he saw the endless stream of ancient space Neither nation existed anymore, debris from the former human places where they once could colonies, their destroyed transport cultivate their accents. Certainly ship, varying sizes of rocks and not for a long time, for all nations ice that made up Saturn’s ring. He ceased to exist. The cultures of looked to the left, and there was thoseoncemagnificentcountries more of the same. still lived within its people, who were now displaced across the He noticed a throbbing pain and solar system. Many had nevgrimaced. It was coming from er laid eyes on Earth, but their his feet, his toes, he guessed. dreams would always plague He tried to wiggle them and them with the desire to return to screamed. Kyle broke almost all something they never knew. his toes on his left foot and the two smaller ones on his right. He checked the rest of his body and felt his right shoulder probing the dislocation. With his left hand, and with what little strength he He woke in a panic. His body and still had in him, he set his right mindstillinitsinstinctual shoulder fight-orback into its socket. The flightmode.Herolledsidetoside tears came and then stopped as and felt himself slipping backthe pain meds dispensed by his wardsonthesmallfloatingrock. suitflowed. He screamed and grasped onto He tried not to look straight ahead whatever he could. His index and at the void. Kyle already made middlefingercaughtacornerofthat mistake, and the sense of the rock and he pulled himself up vertigo was terrifying. Using his far enough so he could grasp it right hand to hold himself on the 37 I SavagePlanets

debris, Kyle rotated to the left, so he was looking at Saturn instead of the black. The effort took a great deal out of him. He got halfway around and passed out from thepainflaringinhishead.

He tried to count the amount of ice particles passing by the piece of debris he lashed himself to. Some looked as though they were big enough to pierce his body. Eventually, he lost count, but it was the only thing that kept his mind off the recurring pain. He eventually worked his way up to an astronomically high number, then noticed something in the distance. Areflectinglight? Maybe. He wiped his face plate, trying to clear as much of the dust off it as possible. Yes,areflectinglight. How? Hedidn’tknow,buthefigured it couldn’t be too far away from him. He made his way towards it. It would be slow, but he had to know what it was. ‘What do I have to lose, anyway? I’m already dead,’ he thought.

again. He grabbed her arm and squeezed. She awoke screaming, her breath heaving. Thereflectinglightgrewever closer. He bared down and jumped from one rock to the next, ice formation to ice formation, careful not to lose his grip. If he did, there was nothing he could grab onto, and he would drift out into the void.

“Melinda!” He cried, recognizing the number on her suit. He did not know if his in-helmet communication system still worked. He squealed her name again, choking back his tears.

Floating. Forever. He kept making his way towards it, and now he was only three rocks away from the light. Two, one. He saw it. He saw her.

Kyle could not hear her, but he could see the terror on her face and her mouth agape. She kept reaching, trying to touch him,herrightarmkeptflailing back and forth. He caught her hand with his and they lay together, sharing her piece of rock for a while.

He leaped onto the rock next to her. He was careful not to land too hard. Striking her rock would send it caroming off on a different trajectory.

She turned her head and tried to talk to him through her tears, but he couldn’t hear anything. Kyle pointed to his chest, toward his communication radio, and she Helayflatonhisstomachand nodded. He held up a series of reachedforher.Hisfingertipsnumberwithhisfingersandshe barely grazed her suit. Kyle understood. She dialed to that stretched more and more, and channel, while he did the same. now his body was halfway off his rock. He reached for her He heard her breathing,

SavagePlanets I 38

39 I SavagePlanets

“Hello!” she cried.


“Hi,” he panted.

Kyle could hear crying through the radio.

“I’m broken,” she grunted. “What do you think it’s like?” He laughed and said that he was, too. “No, love, really, I broke my back, and my left arm too.”

“What, what is what like?” he said with his back to her, planning his course through the ring. “Death.”

"Christ." "Yeah, it's horrible," she sobbed. “I’ve used up all my suit’s pain meds.”

“I just want you to know…” he began.

Kyle kneeled on the rock they shared. Putting his helmet to hers,hetoldherfirmlyhehadto gofindthestation.Shestopped protesting and just nodded her head.

Kyle imagined himself leaving a bar back home on Phobos and lighting up an evening cigarette. He would take a stroll, swaying from the drink as he walked. It was not the walk back he thought of; it was his driveway as he came close, beneath the dim streetlight that illuminated it, welcoming him home.

She laughed, then coughed. The pain was becoming too much for “Ihavetogofindthestation,”he her. Already laboring, he pushed himsaid, looking ahead and glancing selfupoffanotherfloatingrockof at the abyss of tinkling stars. The “That…” he stopped and thought ice and made his way toward the flashinglightsofitblendingwith about it. outpost. the constellations too far away to be their salvation. He slipped off “Yeah?” she asked, turning her the debris, trying to keep cenhead towards him with great tered. Kyle knew the rocks on effort. which they perched weren’t at all stable platforms. If he slipped off “ThatIloveyou,”hefinished, Melinda watched him leap from one of them, he would drift away. reaching for her hand and rock to rock until she lost him in squeezing it in his. the ring's enormity. She closed Forever. her eyes, trying hard not to lose She looked down at Saturn, and consciousness. She let out a “What station?” she asked, unbethe realization of their situation deep breath, thinking it would die lieving his words. hit her. She laughed even harder in her lungs. The satisfaction of now. exhaling stale air was akin to pure “The only one that’s circling the ecstasy. planet.” They both lay there for a moment longer, crying between gasps. As she lay there in a completely “What? You’ll never make it! It broken physical and emotioncould be a thousand miles from Kyle reached into one of his suit al state, she leered off into the here or even two!” pockets and brought out the picnever-ending vastness of space. ture of their children and handA tear blurred her vision as she “If we lay here were going to die. ed it to her. Torn in places and stared at the last thing she would Might as well try.” charredattheedges,heflattened ever see. it out. She looked at the photo of She was silent. them in front of an oak tree. She The Quiet Silence. couldn’t look her husband in the “I’llfindit.I’llgetthere.Takea eyes. ‘What had they done?’ ship and come back for you. I SavagePlanets I 40

41 I SavagePlanets

By Thomas Koperwas

Sometimes he busied himself braiding grass while they stared down at him from the foliage high overhead. The arachnids would stop their pruning and chew their leaves. Almost as if they were eating popcorn and enjoying his movement in the enclosure below."

Extraterrestrial Fiction


All three members of the Bug standing at the edge of the ship's face like spider legs. "Always Lust'screw—AllenWillard,the open hatch, staring down at him. have!" arachnologist, Jyl Byng, the myria"You didn't have to gas me!" he "The arachnids we let loose podologist, and Howard Atchkins, shouted. “And now you're maroonin the ship were gentle and theentomologist—cheeredas ing me on this planet. You can't non-venomous," shouted one as they pushed the partially leave me here to die. Have some Willard, his voice choking with anesthetized,350-poundstow pity! Have some compassion!” emotion. "Simple and harmless away out the hatch of the hovering creatures." ship and into the blistering hot sun "Consider yourself lucky we only of Alpha Verminus. The big man anesthetized you, Mr. Oliver," Falling silent, the scientist fell thirty feet, howling all the way, sneered the arachnologist. "How smiled grimly. "Not at all like landing with a thud on the crown much pity and compassion did you, Mr. Oliver. We still can't of a massive dune high above you have when you euthanized figureouthowyouslippedonto the planet's parched and arid ourentirescientificcollection our ship of at that maintenance landscape. arachnids?" satellite and hid out for two Rolling over onto his back, the stowaway wiped the sand from his sweaty face and pointed accusingly at the tall, austere scientist

entire weeks, gobbling our food "I hate spiders!" cried Oliver, and drinking our water! I'm betarchingeightstubbyfingersand ting any man as smart as you running them over his quivering can survive a two-year stint

SavagePlanets I 42

alone on Alpha Verminus. That's about how long it'll take us to rebuild our collection of extra-solar arthropods you destroyed. If you're still alive when we get back, we'll take you to Earth with us." Byng and Atchkins tossed a small packet of food and a bottle of water to the stowaway, then withdrew into the shadowy interior of the ship.

Behind him lay an endless array ingrained horror of things that of dunes. Ahead lay a scorched crawled or slithered. landscape of badlands and a He knew they needed distant chain of gray mountains. water as much as he did, and he'd The shadowy cracks and crannies run out of that precious commodity in the badlands should provide two days ago. Survival was parashade, maybe even water. Oliver mount. He braced himself for the tookafinalswigfromthesolitary worst and followed them. His skin water bottle in his hand and headcrawling at the thought. ed toward the convoluted landscape of twisted canyons, ravines, Oliver found a hole near the botgullies, caves and hoodoos. tom of the hollow, partially plugged

"Now drift!" barked Willard, slamming the hatch shut behind him. The stowaway grabbed his meager provisions and started down the side of the dune, alternately sliding and rolling, pausing to catch his breath and gaze forlornly at the Bug Lust as it disappeared into the glare of Alpha Verminus's massive white sun. Oliver examined the foreboding terrain. His massive, muscular body, a powerful adaptation to life on a large mining planet with high gravity, would hold up better in this harsh environment than the body of an ordinary earth-man. He’d escaped the depleted, impoverished world he laughingly called home by squeezing his bulk into the empty storage bin of an automated alien supply vessel, jumping ship when it docked for repairs at the maintenance satellite.

Oliver watched with trepidation as the slithering horde of centipede-like creatures slipped into a hollow at the bottom of an outcrop of rocks that resembled the mandibles of an immense insect. His hand still bled from where he'd bit it to keep himself from screaming when the yard-long arthropods ran across the parched ground and

The scientists of the Bug Lust were far too busy tending to the ship’s vital resupply to notice him slip aboard and hide among the specimens. Now his over his feet. survivalwoulddependonfinding But common shelter from the searing disc in the sense and the will sky. to live overrode his 43 I SavagePlanets

by blowing sand, so he fell to his knees and dug down until he'd cleared enough of the plug to squeeze through. There was sufficientlightfromtheoutside to reveal a large tunnel he now stared down. A draft of


The sound of dripping water drew Oliver down the tunnel towards it. Fractured rays beamed faintly through the opening of a large vertical shaft from above. The smell of water made his sun-baked throat throb and ache with thirst.

Trails of water fanned out from the pool, and footprints provided evidence of many arthropods. They stopped there to drink and moved on. Smiling, Oliver cupped his hands in the shape of a bowl and placed them under the falling rivulet of life-giving water. Clear, cold water as sweet and refreshing as ambrosia...

grimly to himself. A dim smudge of light appeared before his eyes, growing brighter from second to second. Soon, the hapless stowaway discerned he was inside an amorphous shape clasped tightly around his head and body. ‘It's my shroud. My cocoon.’ He noted it was dissolving while he stared, letting in light!

Suddenly, a thick, sticky cord dropped down from the shaft, wrapping itself around his hands, A thin trickle of water fell from an binding them together as if in opening and formed a shallow prayer. Then he shot up into the poolonthefloor.Standingatits air, screaming at the top of his edge, he peered cautiously up the lungs. Hoisted aloft by an unseen shaft. Discerning only a discaptor. tant source of light, he lowered his eyes Oliver lay unmoving in the inky toward darkness.

Oliver twisted and turned, squirming in desperation to free himself. Feeling the shroud bend slightly to his will, he redoubled his efforts. Suddenly, his hands burst through the covering. Taking hold of the sticky material, he ripped the shroud away from his face and body, opening it to crawl free.

‘Can't see a thing, and I

Extraterrestrial Fiction

deep within the dim underground passageway. It provided relief from the heat besides its shade. Far ahead, he could see a pale source of light.

Oliver breathed deeply and gagged on the steamy, musty air that smelled of dirt. Rising to his feet, he looked up at a vast array of bio-luminescent lights suspended from the ceiling high above his head. Perhaps a nest of glowworms illuminating a veritable forest of hanging plants. "I'm trapped inside an underground chamber!" he cried aloud.


can't move,’ he thought

He saw a multiplicity of long, thick, hairy clawed tufts part the canopy of leaves, exposing a throng of disembodied variegated eyes staring curiously at him from the darkness. These weren’t the glowing eyes of simple, predatory spiders. They seemedfilledwithintelligence, wholly alien and inscrutable. SavagePlanets I 44

The gestures they made with their long legs suggested they were studying and discussing him. Unfortunately, the creatures shared a superabundance of ugly characteristics common to all spiders: too many legs, fangs, and spine-like hair. Characteristics that made Oliver shudder as he instinctively loathed and dreaded them. He staggered weak kneed as the immense spider-like arachnids emerged from the hanging forest, descending on silken drop-lines as thick as space tethers. Snapping his eyes shut, he screamed in terror and threw his arms above his head. He couldn’t imagine a worse death. But there was no attack: no

45 I SavagePlanets

searing bite of fangs, no injection and bulging abdomen. "They must of venom, none of their digestive have constructed this underenzymes burning beneath his ground facility as a place for food flesh,noparalysis.Hishorrorfilled growth and storage." imagination pictured his internal Confidenthewasclearofdanger, organs dissolving from their poiOliver turned his attention to the son. Opening his eyes, he stared high-walled enclosure surrounding in disbelief at the arachnids as him, discovering, to his surprise, they hung there, only to retreat, alanother room with a small freshmost warily, into the dense foliage water spring. Inside was a table above. made of silk and saliva, stacked Seeing one arachnid peak out with leaves of various plants, and again, it tore a leaf off a plant in a platform for him to sleep on. He the eerie green light, and chewed drank deeply and sampled the on it unhurriedly, watching him. foodstuffs with satisfaction. Then he lay down, exhausted from his With sudden insight, he exclaimed ordeal. Soon, he drifted off into a out loud, "Why, they're nothing deep sleep. but harmless vegetarians! Highly intelligent ones too!" He noted the hi-tech tool belt strapped tightly Oliver waited until Willy had gone between the arachnid's thorax

Time passed slowly in the underground chamber. The glowworms never turned off, so Oliver had no way of knowing whether it was day or night. He approximated the passage of days by putting a plant stalk aside each time he went to sleep. It was a week later when he concluded he'd been right about his captors. The arachnids indeed kept their distance, and so much the better. But he still felt nauseous whenever he saw their hairy bodies.

Still, I’ve lost some weight. Must be from switching to pure vegetarian fare, and not being able to stretch my legs.’ Thinking of it, he walked to the center of the enclosure and came to a dead halt. Looking around the ceiling above, he realized he was alone in the underground chamber. This wasafirst!

Extraterrestrial Fiction

out the front door, then snuck down the stairs to the basement. It was shady and creepy under the stairwell where his older brother kept the box with his horrible and fascinating pets. Willy's creatures had introduced him to new and unfamiliar feelings; fear, shock, and disgust. Powerful sensations that both attracted and repelled him. Oliver was dying to know what Willy had found this week in the yard...

"Where are the spiders? Have they gone?! But it looks like So he reached down and lifted the they've given me a chance to lid, his hands trembling in anticclear out, too," he said, seeing ipation and fear. Inside the plain Each day followed a simple, the new large hole in the enclocardboard box, he saw a large, fixedroutine.Oliverwokeupandsure's wall. frothy globe swarming with the collected the leaves and fruit the silhouettes of spider-lings. He had Stepping through it, he looked arachnidsdroppedtothefloor, never seen spiders before, and up at an immense egg sac ostensibly for him. Then he laid theyterrifiedhim.Thesewereugly hanging from the ceiling like down in the middle of the enclocreatures that he never wanted to a tethered weather balloon. sure and ate the food while he see again. But he held "Huh? Looks like they left watched his captors work in their onto the lid. For a mothe next generation with all garden. ment, he imagined them thefixings:food,water,and crawling all over him. Sometimes he busied himself shelter," he marveled. "And Suddenly, he simultabraiding grass while they stared me! Hopefully, their offspring neously shrieked and down at him from the foliage high are vegetarians too. If not…" tittered in terror as other overhead. The arachnids would heshuddered,terrifiedatthe spiders scurried off the stop their pruning and chew their thought. inside of the lid and up leaves. Almost as if they were The roaring sound of a ship's his hands defending eating popcorn and enjoying his drive interrupted Oliver’s their brood... movement in the enclosure below. musing. Had it been two years Oliver woke with a start. An atmosphere of peaceful coexalready? Had the Bug Lust reistence grew between Oliver and turned early? Running into the "Ah ha!" he said, his captors. Soon, it surprised him mouth of a nearby tunnel, he poundinghisfistinhis to discover he tolerated their prescame out onto the surface of hand. "Now it all makes ence. He recognized individuals Alpha Verminus, blinking in the sense. My brother in the group by the different colors bright light in amazement as an caught his horrid pets of their tool belts. He even gave immense arachnid shaped ship in our yard. Now I'm the them pet names: Fat Head, Old raced toward the sun. spiders' horrible and Creepy, Motherly Love... fascinating pet they "Well, I guess the planet's all caught in their yard! mine now... at least until that I’m to be their ugly pet, big egg hatches," he said, One day, Oliver woke up with a screaming in their faces eying the tunnel where the smile on his face. to their delight, every immense sac hung. "How long time they drop down for beforeIfindoutifI’mdestined ‘Life is good with these spiders,’ a look-see. I bet they'll to be just a piece of baby food hesaidtohimselfwithasatisfied keep their distance from or an ugly pet for a million baby grunt. ‘I don't know why, but I feel now on. Yeah, right!" spiders?" great. Those grape-like fruits, He shuddered at the long banana things, and spinach thought. shaped leaves must be healthy. SavagePlanets I 46


O Me


Official erch Store Quality merchandise at reasonable prices. Limited-edition and collector's items. Proceeds used to fund future magazine content.

Inventory changes quarterly. Surprise the alien in your life. Ships to North America and Europe.

Shop Now!


Poems from

Imaginaria A collection of 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.

And In My Last Moments by Bilal Hattani


49 I SavagePlanets

SavagePlanets I 50

51 I SavagePlanets

SavagePlanets I 52

53 I SavagePlanets

SavagePlanets I 54

One Big Mistake

yb Steven S. Behram, MD

55 I SavagePlanets

SavagePlanets I 56

"Mech Assassin on Venus" 57 I SavagePlanets

FUTURE ARTIFACTS In each issue, we highlight our favorite quotes from our favorite masters of science fiction. Tell us your favorite quote and we might include it in this section. All of the art is provided courtesy of The Big Sleep as envisioned by BoB, our resident AI multimedia editor.


sn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?” Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

SavagePlanets I 58



fter all, a person is herself, and others. Relationships chisel the final shape of one's being. I am me, and you.” N.K. Jemisin The Fifth Season

59 I SavagePlanets

"Aquatic Life of Europa" SavagePlanets I 60

" Smithereens" 61 I SavagePlanets



ach day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.” Marie Lu, Legend

SavagePlanets I 62



created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.” Ernest Cline Ready Player One

63 I SavagePlanets

"Zombie Apocalypse" SavagePlanets I 64

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.


he creature was helpless in the arms of the muscular human. It shape-shifted into the form of his beloved attempting to evade its fate, his kiss however, turned deadly." Florence Donato

65 I PlanetsRising


he scientists shivered as the first energy entity emerged through the portal they designed. Its incompatibility with a dark matter universe tore the fabric of space killing the scientists and collapsing the rift, taking it back to its own dimension." R. K. Winterborne


n the underside of the Plains the cries of rampaging warriors echoed. Laying an ear to the ground, he could feel the thunder of hooves as they descended on the ruins of forts and the ghostly wagon trains, the native spirits reveling in their happy hunting grounds." Jessica Sanders

SavagePlanets I 66


roid Six stirred the noxious waste, blending it in with the recyclables in smelter forty. When the system came on line, an unexpected thing occurred; a new life-form climbed out of the soup and stared at its maker, declaring it their God." Alain DeMarco


've heard that all of humanity might have already spent their whole lives inside of a gargantuan black hole. Well, all the laughter and love I've experienced is real enough to me, so I'm okay with that." D.M. Woolston

67 I SavagePlanets



lying nape of the earth through red rock canyons, the fighter jinked evading weapons fires from the advanced ship. Leading the alien into a trap, he dropped below the radar array that targeted the alien with a flight of surface to air missiles, just in time for the pilot to sigh in exhaustion as his pursuer vaporized."

Morris Hartman


e regained consciousness soon after entering the event horizon of the super massive black hole. In the very short time he had left, he could not determine if he had gone totally blind or if he had entered into the darkest and blackest part of the universe." Steve Behram, MD

SavagePlanets I 68


SLATE By Emma Louise Gill

The blue room ripples, becomes translucent, a bubble, a plastic sphere surrounding her head. Her throat is parched, lled with memory dust; she chokes a little, and someone removes the sphere, pulling tubes out of her nose. With a snotty gasp, she breathes easily, weirdly refreshed." 69 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

IwantMarvyntobethefirsttofor comfort. go, Quinn thinks. Marvyn… and after that, we’ll see. There can’t Overly loud speakers crackbe many memories of him that le. She jumps. “Ready, Mrs. were good, surely. There’ll be Genevan?” pipes the nurse, time to exorcise other wrongs. Bettise. Eveninthis,herfirstsession,Quinn’sfingersdigintothe she feels things slipping away. semi-plush armrests. “It’s ‘Ms.’ Genevan now, Bettise.” She settles into the lab chair, Her mouth is dry. She’s been the plump, synth-leather thinking of changing her name, cushions unable to hide its but… one thing at a time. shortcomings. Head encased “I suppose you can call me in a translucent bubble, oxygen Quinn, seeing as you’re about tubes pinched too close to her to excavate my head.” septum, the machine teasing her hair into a frizz. The air “Okay then, Quinny.” Bettise’s smells strange, a taste like volume is lower, her pitch deep. a new shower curtain on the Quinny? She opens her mouth back of her tongue. Comfort is to admonish, but it’s Marvyn impossible. But she isn’t here standing over her, saying,

“Quinny?” Quinn shoves him back in surprise and anger, but he’s gone and she sees the helmet, a bubbleinstead,andit’s - float ing up, up and away, melting into the blue ceiling where it drifts off, a white balloon, lost in a bank of clouds. When she looks back, her ex-husband is laughing and cooking sausages on a BBQ at Batman’s Park. Brisbane just across the river, a hundred metres away. Christmasflagshanglimp above the roads. Last summer. Pollen. She sneezes.

SavagePlanets I 70

“You all right, Q?” someone asks, a rich male voice she knows and likes.

“Yes. Cut the bastard out! Remove it all.”

She turns, allowing a small smile. “I’mfine,Ben.”Shewrigglesher itchy nose. Pulls up her face-mask, the one with yellow wattles, the inside dotted with mucus. “Can’t be too careful, though.”

“Okay, Quinn. Take these. Remember the instructions?”

Marvyn’s eyes never smile, and she can’t help lingering on Ben’s twin green orbs, mirrors to her own. It’s not like Marvyn even mentioned her allergies; no, he’s too busy checking out the young women running the riverside path. Pervert. “Shall we, then?” Ben points across the lawn, his other hand around her waist. A grey ribbon leads from his chest towards the smoking BBQ, and now she sees them emerge from everyone’s bodies, like threads of time, unspooling. Quinn frowns, remembering following Ben, making small talk with colleagues, sipping from plastic wineglasses and trying to hide more sneezes. She ignores the constant jibes from Marvyn, the ‘famous Ben’ comments, the lewd sausage moment, the wolf whistle at the runners after too many beers… Later will come the spite, the argument, the public humiliation and the utter embarrassment.

Sudden heaviness weighs down her hands. She holds a pair of large, black-handled shears, the kind used in opening ceremonies. Her lips stretch into a grin separating the blades. With a cathartic ‘snick’, she cuts the ribbon from her chest. It falls in anticlimactic silence, retracting down the hill, taking the others with it; like the withdrawal of a tendril’d creature, cold and alien. Then it’s gone, along with the park, and Marvyn; the emotional residue; even Ben. She is sitting in a blue cube, ears ringing from the surrounding nothingness. She has no recollection of what she had been doing, but somehow she felt happy. Her frown smooths out. It is the strangest and most freeing moment she

She stops, tasting the memories of congealed fat, too-sweet wine, fragrant heat, salty tears. It is so vivid. ever Hercheeksflush.Thistime,shehas experienced. control. “What would you like to trim “Cut it,” she says aloud. Ice next, Quinn?” a friendly voice tumbles down her spine as the says. moment freezes, bleaching into monochrome. She’s taped a list to the chair in her handwriting. It crinkles A disembodied voice sounds in her underhertremblingfingers. ear, clinical. “Are you sure?” Days, dates, times. The 71 I SavagePlanets

header says, Marvyn. Oh, yes. Him. She remembers her purpose now, in this blank space. She reads the next event. Though Quinn knows something the friendly voice does not—Bettise,thatwashername, thenurse—notsomeonesheshould trim. Whenshefinishes,therewillbeno more Marvyn. Not just the terrible Christmases, the awkward dinners,thelate-nightfights.Their elopement, his brother drunk, turning up uninvited and unwanted. The frosty holidays, the years of subtle digs. The

Extraterrestrial Fiction

missedflights,missedcalls,empty met a few hours earlier. But she beautifully asymmetrical, yet bed. doesn’t mind, not when he’s warm perfectly in sync with each other. and smells better than the ciga“Welcome back, Quinn,” the nurse She imagines the shears in her rette-smoking locals. Better than says. hands. Today she is a surgeon, the other tourists her friends disand Marvyn is her tumour. appeared with. Their familiar North Quinn blinks. What is the woman’s London accents couldn’t compare name? to Marvyn’s Australian tones. His intoxicating hands roam under her *** It is Friday evening at a clothes… beach-side apartment in Playa She walks through the door, chin delCosta,Spain.Itis19;she ‘Snick.’ held high, red heels clicking on the is tipsy from sangria, Robbie concretefloor.Hernewhaircut, Williams’ dance mashups She jams the blades together so bleached and short, easy mainteplaying, rose-tinted hard her wrists snap. The night nance and better for helmet-wearsunsets, and dancing fades away, and she is in the blue ing, is taking some getting used to. that was not-quiteroom again. It is familiar, and the But she’s determined not to feel sex. The man last vestiges of nostalgia and uncomfortable. She makes it to the beside her on half-longing fade, along with the polished reception desk without the balcony is residual oily layer of disgust she looking anyone in the eye. Marvyn, like the feels, leaving her clean. Empty. singer, though “Appointment at twelve,” Quinn his voice Whoever she was looking for announces. doesn’t quite vanished, and Quinn feels, if not match. glad,thensatisfied.Shenods - firm The receptionist nods, rainly. She is waiting for something. bow nails clacking. “Nice to His atSomeone else? see you again, Ms. Nova,” they tempts to recreate acknowledge. the song on the box The blue room ripples, becomes were adorably translucent, a bubble, a plastic Shenodsandjabsafingerinto bad sphere surrounding her head. the desk. “Make sure I get the Teal when Herthroatisparched,filledwith room today. That doctor, what’s her they memory dust; she chokes a little, name, said I could.” and someone removes the sphere, pulling tubes out of her nose. The receptionWith a snotty gasp, she ist has a name breathes easily, weirdly badge: ‘Riley refreshed. (they/them)’. They hesitate, and A brown face peers Quinn digs up a at her placidly, smile. “Please, unconRiley?” cerned. Rainbow clicks on keys. “Of course, Ms. Nova.”

Her features are

Sheflouncestoachair.The waiting room is larger than she remembered, the seats upholstered in genuine leather with Luna Grey metallic thread running through them. She used to work in design, SavagePlanets I 72

she should know… though the manufacturer’s name escapes her at the moment.

She breaks from his gaze; reaches down past her pretty summer dress to scratch at blooming hives.

How else can she truly be happy?

Quinn ignores that and sits back, casting a knowing glance at the other patient. But the woman isn’t paying attention; too busy worrying. Quinn knows the expression. It used to be hers. A newbie.

“For God’s sake,” she mutters.

The phone buzzes. No one ever calls. Quinn thinks they may have, once.Herfingerstrembleasshe answers. “Hello?”

“What is it, Q?” She smiles. “Nothing. Just allergies.” But it ruins the moment. “Cut.”

“Ms. Nova? Hello! I’m Doctor Hilbert. I work for Clean Slate. We met in May.”

Quinn’sfingerstaparhythmonthe “Are you sure?” A voice, somehow armrests. It’s soothing and familfamiliar and warm, echoes around iar, though she can’t place it. She her, coming out of nowhere. The “May? Oh. That was…” studies the middle-aged, greyshears’ weight is comforting in her haired housewife, who’s looking hands. She doesn’t remember much “Several sessions ago, I know. Don’t away. Well, suit herself. She was from the sessions, but she knows worry, it’s understandable.” only missing out on talking to Clean these. There are virtual calluses Slate’s most frequent extractee. forming on her palms. May, though? Her memory problems Although, how much of Quinn’s slate cloy, but she should remember two is clean? It’s hard to tell when there “Yes, I’m sure.” The ribbon begs to months ago. “Okay?” used to be so much more. Or was be severed. ‘Snick.’ It uncoils. there? “I’m calling to conduct a routine Grass fades and waves recede. A check-up. Could you tell me about Her heart grows concerned for a silent teal room replaces it. There is your health and how you’re feeling, moment, but then a MedBot calls something magical about the colour, onascaleof1-0?” her name. Right on schedule. likesheisfloatinginwater,asoul unborn. Quinn turns the phone in her hands. Focus on the positive. Has she done this before? Not on It was a beautiful memory. But she’d the phone. Probably. She stands and heads to the apchecked again, just in case. She pointment that was keyed into her needs to check them all, it seems. “Ms. Nova? Are you there?” calendar, along with a note advising And though she’s not sure what the Teal room. she erased, or who ‘Ben’ was, she “Yes, Doctor. Um, I think I’d rather isconfidentthememorywasn’t do this in person. I can be at Clean perfect. Slate in…” she checks the digital, “one hour. How about then?” She is lying on grass. It tickles her Only those deserve to stay. bare thighs. The ocean crashes “Oh, well, I’m not sure I’m nearby, looming thunderclouds over- Quinn has lists of memories in her available…” head. Grasshoppers chirp, unaffect- bag, with detailed instructions. She ed by the crackling in the air. Quinn reads aloud the next date and inci“I can wait there until you are.” has responsibilities somewhere. dent, ready to immerse into recolHere she can almost imagine a lection without the vagaries of time’s “Really, Ms. Nova, it’s just routine...” different life. filter.Enterstheminhope,with shearsready.Shefindsaflawinev - “Then it shouldn’t take long.” She A handsome man lies beside her. ery one. Memories plugging neuron watches the boats on the Bay Dark skin, green eyes, perfect hair. space. Clutter. Adding nothing but through the window. Icy wind, cold His collared shirt is slightly open, pain and negativity to her psyche. water. She knows where she’d rolled up blue sweater cushioning rather be. “Medical information is his elbow as he leans over, spicy She prunes them all until only the sensitive, Doctor. My privacy…” She cologne merging with the scent of good remain. nods. ‘Be Firm,’ she spots on one impending rain. The grass is itchy. of her notes. There are lots of them, 73 I SavagePlanets

“Ms Nova, please…” “I’ll see you in an hour.” She hangs up, heart flutter ing at the thought of returning to Clean Slate three days early. She’s painted the living room like their surgery, a similar blue-green, but it’s not quite the same.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

yellow paper stuck at eye height all over the apartment.

The ocean is grey under thin, corncob clouds. The water deceptive. So much lies beneath. At the shore where the waves break, calm hides the turbulence; all the flotsamdumpedtherereturnedby-ripcur rents that can carry you away if you aren’t careful. The ocean is like her mind, she thinks. Untrustworthy. Quinn turns back to the near-empty room. She sold all her furniture; only an easy chair remains, her own Clean Slate. And a good thing, too: the sessions aren’t cheap. Heels click on the dustywoodfloor.Shefindsthe surgery’s address on a post-it and heads out.

SavagePlanets I 74

from a Doctor Hilbert,” Riley tells the doctor. “There’s no Doctor Hilbert here, Ms. Nova.”

“Oh, well, we don’t have anyone here by that name,” she tells Quinn. She reads the receptionist’s drawn- “Perhaps you were mistaken.” Her on eyebrows. Their nails look like smile is pitying. “Your next appointgalaxiestoday.Quinnfindsthem ment with us is on…” distracting. She turns to Riley, who answers, “He called me for a check-up. I “Three days.” came straight here,” an octave higher. “Why don’t you come back then?” “Ms. Nova, I don’t know what to say. Perhaps you misheard.” “No, I did not. I am not senile!” “What’s the trouble, Riley?” A white-coated doctor says, emerging from the back. “Finally,” says Quinn. “Ms. Nova here says she had a call

75 I SavagePlanets

Quinn’s pulse is racing. “No.” She will Be Firm. She digs out her phone, shows them. “I got a call. He wanted my health details. I came here because…” The doctor raises her eyebrows. “Because I wasn’t comfortable giving out those details.” Her voice rises again. She isn’t paranoid, dammit. She’s sensible, and that’s why she’s at Clean Slate now.

Quinn’s notes tell her so. She is a ‘forward planner,’ and she knows what’s in her best interest. The doctor frowns. Glances at Riley, concerned. Finally, she gestures to Quinn. “Health details, you say?” She sighs. “You’d better come to my office.” Quinn’s shoulders relax. She follows the doctor, not through the usual door, but into a hallway, past a series of closed doors to the one on the end. There is no name on the plaque. The doctor gestures to a plastic chair. The plush trappings of the waiting area are absent here, the room utilitarian. A fake-bamboo vaporiser pumps mint and lemon into the air. Sighing again, the other woman adjusts her white jacket and introduces herself. “My name is Dr. Karen Jones. I’m a co-founder of Clean

Quinn’s mouth forms an ‘o’. What does that mean? “Some people don’t like what we do, Ms. Nova.” Jones’ eyes focus somewhere in the distance. “They’d like to see us shut down.” “Why?” Quinn’s hand jumps to her heart. Jones shifted in her chair. “Some people hate memory manipulation. They say our technology leads to long term…” She shakes her head. “They are wrong.” Her smile is reassuring. “But it seems they target our patients.” Now her smile

sharpens. It reminds Quinn of a “Yes, Clean Slate helps,” Quinn blade, a familiar one. “I am glad says. “Except for today’s incident.” you came, Ms. Nova. We believe in confidentiality,justasyoudo.Jones It’sin nods. “Except for that. the NDA you signed, after all.” Well,” She makes a show of looking over her screen, clicking butLeaning forward, Jones continues, tons. Quinn follows every move. “Look, Ms. Nova. This must be “We can offer you an additional an unpleasant memory for you.” session today to erase this unforQuinn’sfingerstwitch.“Iknow tunate memory,” Dr. Jones offers. how important it is for you to only remember pleasant things. After Quinn tries to hide her excitement. all, that’s what your sessions are “Complimentary?” about, right?” She smiles, an ingratiating smile. Jones clears her throat. “Well…” But Quinn cannot understand “Surely I don’t have to pay to people too scared to cut out misery. remove this unpleasantness? She’s seen this look before, she’s Perhaps I should… cancel my sure. On old colleagues, now just contract?” vague shapes, and on her parents, though she cannot quite remember “I don’t see…” them,either.Whichisfine,because surely she is better off forgetting Quinn glares, battling the low them. sun shining through the window. “I could have avoided this

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Slate. We haven’t met, but I know you’re one of our most frequent patients, Ms. Nova.” Quinn nods and smiles, smooths her own plain pantsuit. “But we don’t do phone consultations, which is why you felt compelled to come here.”

SavagePlanets I 76

harassment if Clean Slate kept my personal information safe. How’d someone get my number otherwise?” She laughs, but unease twists her stomach. “I’m sorry, Ms. Nova.” Jones types some more. “But… What if we bring your appointment forward from Thursday and add an extra half hour? That would certainly cover the memory excision?” “No doubt. But at no cost to me, right?” “Yes, but, well, as our most outstanding client, surely you can see that

you’d be setting a precedence... Then others might seek free sessions too; no matter if their reasons were legitimate.” Jones’s face is neutral. “Once we warm up the system, though, it makes no difference if we run it for longer. The original appointment and the ‘on the house’ extension. See?” Quinn doesn’t, not really. She pays by the minute. But her nerves tingle and her heart races at the prospect and even the thought of going in there, ready to ‘snip, snip, snip,’ makes her lips dry, her mouth salivate. The lemon minty air is intoxicating. She wants the bubble’s sharp freshness of pure oxygen, and, here she surprises herself, that soft coconut smell of the woman who guides her. Herfingerstwitch.“Okay.” “Great.” Dr Jones grins, relieved. She stands, gesturing to the door. “I’ll be in the Teal Room then?” Quinn hopes, following the doctor. Jones looks quizzically over her shoulder. “It’s peaceful there,” Quinn explains. Jones takes a breath, but says only, “Yes, certainly.” Quinn smiles. She’s glad she came. Oh yes, very glad indeed.


gets up each morning, prepares breakfast, checks the fridge’s smart system, orders anything she is low on, and eats in silence. Today her screenblinksred:insufficientfunds It must have malfunctioned. She writes a sticky note to check the error. Dressing in a drab, interchangeableoutfitfromhermeager wardrobe, she lets her MedBot brush her teeth and hair, picks up her instructions and leaves, not bothering to lock the door. She no longer has anything worth taking except an error-prone refrigerator. The sun shines intermittently from behind grey clouds. The day is brisk. People ignore her as she walks, as she them. ‘Interactions breed poor memories,’ her notes insist. She must only keep positive ones. She makes a note to herself to erase the memory of this morning’s unpleasant refrigerator error. Quinn has one destination: Clean Slate. She is due there at nine. She knows Clean Slate; it is her only required memory. Positive things happen there, they must. There are so few other things she knows or remembers. A daisy dancing in the breeze. A baby laughing. Rain on her fingertips. A teal room, peaceful and empty, yet filledwithjoy. She thinks she once had a purpose… but beyond that, nothing.PerhapsshewillfinditatClean Slate. She follows her directions, and at the door it slides open to let

77 I SavagePlanets

“Ms. Nova? You can’t be here,” they say with a frown. Quinn looks around. “Me?” “Yes.” They give her a sideways look. “Did you forget? We’re closed.” She reviews her notes. “But I have an appointment.”

There is another woman in the teal room, dismantling a chair. Piles of wires and plastic surround her. A globe-like helmet sits nearby.

feel… bad, so you got rid of it. You’ve been coming here for nearly a year. In some ways I’m surprised it took this long.”

She jumps at Quinn’s entry. “You scared me!” Then, “Oh, it’s you.”

“A year?”

Quinn steps forward. Her heart is racing, cheeks hot. “Hello.” The woman is beautiful. She is home. “You shouldn’t be…” “I know, the front desk told me.” Quinn waves the note. Its sticky strip is damp with her sweat. “But I had an appointment, and I heard you…”

The woman points to the machinery in the room. “Yes. Here at Clean Slate. With me.” She smiles. “I’m Bettise. I’ve been your nurse from the start. But… now, now it has to end.” Quinn’s knees feel shaky. She dry-swallows. “I think I don’t like this.”

“Ms. Nova, we’re closed permanently. I’m sorry.” They look away and continue packing.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

her in. The waiting area is half-lit, a single, faded chintz couch and a tall, slim person behind the desk, piling electronics and papers into a box. Their neon green scarf is the only colour in the room.

She sinks onto the cool tiled The woman stares at her, face floor.Closeshereyes,paper drawn, eyes tight. She goes to limp in her hand. She tries to speak, then pauses, walks to the focus on cheerful things: a “No. No, this can’t be.” door and closes it. She reads the butterfly’swings;butter - melt instructions on Quinn’s note for a ing in a croissant; the scent of Another worker enters the room, long minute. Hands it back. Quinn magnolias.Butbutterfliescrush balancing equipment and paperwork glancesdownwheretheirfingers’ easily. Croissants go cold, butter before them. They force Quinn to touch. congeals. Magnolias make her dodge their determined stride out sneeze. Flawed, she thinks. the door. All she sees is the back “You really don’t remember, do Cut them out. Her hands shake, of a woman’s grey-haired head, a you?” She faces Quinn, something Quinn pants. She only permits sweater, and a yellow skirt. strange in her brown eyes. “In some perfectmemories,flawlessand ways it’s incredible, your brain doing wonderful. “Please?” Quinn begs, turning back that.” to the receptionist. But they, too, She is in the teal room, where have a box in their arms. “What?” only her fondest memories remain. She can see the helmet, “Go home, Ms. Nova,” they say as The woman nods in thought. “Of the bubble that encloses her they pass her. “Enjoy the rest of course, trauma patients do it all the mind, allows her to cut. your life. God knows you can create time, locking away memories. But new beautiful memories, without the your brain has learnt to erase them Cut. old ones holding you back.” completely! Hilbert said it would happen.” She points at the note with Eyesflickopenandshelung Then she’s alone in the waiting a resigned sigh. “We told you about es. Bettise cries out as Quinn room,staringatapainting- offlowthe closure last week, Quinn.” barrels past her, grabbing the ers. Red roses, white lilies. Love helmet away from the nurse, and death in the same vase. She Quinn tries, brows creased in construggling to put it on. It clicks jumps, hearing a noise, but no one centration, digging… but nothing into place, nodes adhering easenters. She looks at the note. Nine surfaces. Nothing except the feeling ily to her shaved head. A small am.Amemoryfloatsby:thedooron she is exactly where she’s supposed hiss sounds in her ears. For a the right, a MedBot, and at the end, to be. “I don’t remember,” she says. moment, there is only her and a teal room. She walks to the door. the bubble, trapped air on her Opens it expectantly, with a gentle “Because you erased the memotongue. push. ry,” says the woman. “It made you SavagePlanets I 78

She is alone, and all the world is lonely. Who is she?

ended up here. Carving away her memories, stripping the emotions that weigh her down. Leaving only perfect, pristine moments to savour forever.

Is this all there is now? It has to end.

Moments like looking into Bettise’s brown eyes.

“Let’s create fresh memories then, perfect ones,” Quinn says. “‘Focus on the positive.’ We can do it together. That must be why I still come here, why I won’t let myself forget you. We can start

Those eyes dismiss her. Quinn doesn’t remember, and not But Bettise steps forward again. being able to remember is cruel. “Take the helmet off, Quinn! It’s She’s crying. Weeping. She wants dangerous, and I can’t talk to you to reach her memories so badly, and in there.” she also wants to cut them all out. End this horror, this leaden nothQuinn locates a cable leading ing she can’t erase. The world is from her helmet; it trails to a flawed.Experienceisflawed.Time console. She hadn’t noticed it isflawed.ShecriesoutasBettise before because they matched comes towards her. the blue-green furniture in the room. She runs, though it is “Get out of there, Quinn,” the nurse difficult,herheadbobbinginthe urges. “I haven’t disconnected the bubble. Bettise grabs her. They circuits yet, it could...” struggle. The nurse fumbles at the helmet’s catch, hissing when “I know you,” Quinn interrupts, her nails scratch metal and sparks hands out, reaching, unsure. “You’re singe the air. the reason I’m here. You’re the voice, you’re my anchor.” As she “Shite.” She looks at Quinn with saysthewords,certaintyfloods eyes wide-open, leaning in close, through her. “I don’t know myself grabbing her arms. “Whatever again. anymore, but you, I know you.” you’re feeling, don’t include me, We don’t please. It’s not right. You can’t need…” Bettise stops. Her expression is a project, reaching for something, dark pool on a starry night. “Your anything, to keep you and me here. Bettise shakes her head. mind is fooling you, Quinn,” she You’re obsessed, Quinn! The pro“There’s no perfect world, Quinn! No says, gently, with that warm voice gram did this to you.” future ideal. That’s in your head. I’m that feels like home. sorry.” She gazes at Quinn through Quinn shakes her head. “I know the bubble. Both women’s cheeks “You said I can keep ‘good’ memowhat I feel. I look at you and I see are wet. “Please. Let me take this ries. That’s you, Bettise.” the one beautiful place left, in the… off.” cracks between things.” The nurse shakes her head. “No. I Quinn can hardly breathe, heart don’t think… I’m sorry.” Bettise trembles, looks away. Her pounding, salt stinging her vision. cheeksflush,andQuinncan’ttell How if can Bettise say no? An alarm “What?” Quinn’s vision blurs. She it’s from anger or humility. “I just… sounds on the console. They both blames it on the helmet’s condensa- even if I believe you,” she sighs. look towards it, and just like that, tion. “I’m too messed up to feel, is “Even then, I don’t, I can’t feel the Quinn knows what to do. that it?” same. I gave up that part of me a long time ago. Because I’m a Clean There’s only one thing to do. No, that’s a lie. It’s only because Slate, too. Is that what you want?” she feels too much that Quinn’s She shoves; Bettise stumbles, 79 I SavagePlanets

She glances at Bettise, whose eye“Why shouldn’t I forget?” Quinn lidsflicker.Afainthumpervadesthe asks. room, vibrating through the helmet. The air shimmers. She tastes plastic They are both sobbing. and coconut, the tingle of warm showers. She wonders what brand She answers her own question. of shampoo Bettise uses; whether “I think… I think all the reasons the frizzy locks that Quinn once had, don’t matter anymore.” This is she would have liked. her last chance. “I don’t remember why, but I think I’d rather “Don’t do this,” Bettise whispers. forget everything. Start again.” “Don’t become like me, and all the other empty shells.” She smiles. She’s lonely, but she’s not alone. “Maybe next Quinn’s mouth turns down at the time, perfect won’t matter.” edges. Her chest is heavy, tight with rejection’s pain. The teal The bubble is growing dark. Is room shouldn’t feel like this. that supposed to happen? “Whoever you think you are, you’re not empty,” Bettise cries.

Quinn doesn’t care. Bettise said her brain would format itself. But she needs help. She needs the shears. If only she’s strong enough to hold them, she can cut.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

bumps her head on the console and lays still. Quinn reaches the controls. Presses ‘Activate.’ Lights blink, warning of an unstable connection, various gas percentages, a dangerous environment.

There is a weight in her hands. Waves lap the surrounding shore.Sheseesabutterflyand Quinnfindsthebuttontostart carefully clips its wings. A croisthe sequence. “But maybe you’re sant, moving backward in time, right.Maybetheworldisflawed. into the oven, into a bowl, into Maybe there’s no perfect life.” its constituent parts. Magnolias, roses,lilies—witheranddie. She’ll erase it all this time. Clean Grey, unscented. Then they Slate, Bettise, every spark of emovanish. There are only a handful tion. No memory is worth having if it ofmemoriesleft.Allflawed. makes her feel this way. Her last memory, a pair of “Don’t forget yourself.” Another brown orbs, warm as the sun. whisper. “Are you sure?” a voice says. The helmet is heavy. She slumps downbesideBettise,fingers-hesitat “Yes,” says Quinn. ing, then caresses the other woman’s brown hair, watching her face. Snick. Soft.

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 80

CONTRIB Keith 'Doc' Raymond Poetry Contributor

Devin Vandriel Fiction Contributor

Paul Ballard Fiction Contributor

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

Devin Vandriel has been or will soon be published in Academy of the Heart and Mind; Down in the Dirt; Children, Churches, and Daddies; an Essential Anthology; and, The As You Were: The Military Review Literary Journal. She recently graduated with degrees in English and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Although dyslexic, she was encouraged to write by her 8th-grade history teacher.

Paul Ballard is an author and security professional who writes fiction and non-fiction. He was born in New England and holds formal degrees in the fields of History, Security, and Law.

Entertainment Contributor

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. 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. Keith is the Fiction Editor and co-founder of SavagePlanets.

81 I SavagePlanets

Check out her website at

Ballard’s favorite genre is Speculative and Science fiction but enjoys and practices writing in any genre. He can be contacted at:

BUTORS Thomas Koperwas Fiction Contributor

Emma Louise Gill

Mike Waller Fiction Contributor

Thomas Koperwas began his professional teaching career in the high arctic working several years in Canada's Northwest Territories.

Emma Louise Gill is a BritishAustralian speculative fiction writer and coffee addict.

Mike Waller is a multiaward winning author and independent publisher who has written in some form or other for many years in relation to other occupations, but has only recently turned to writing fiction. During his life, he has been many things, ranging from public servant to computer programmer to boat designer, and has now decided to do that for which he has a great passion. His books FALCON'S CALL and HAWK: HELLFIRE are B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees in the genre of Science Fiction 2019 and 2020.

He is at present a retiree living in Windsor, Ontario with his wife (his # 1 editor) and enjoys writing short stories of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in: Anotherealm; Jakob’s Horror Box; Literally Stories; The Literary Hatchet; Literary Veganism; Bombfire; Pulp Modern Flash; Savage Planets; Blood Moon Rising Magazine; Corner Bar Magazine; and, Free Bundle Magazine.

Fiction Contributor

She has two cats and two kids, all of whom strive to sit on her keyboard way too often, so she is usually found writing in random cafes instead. Emma's short fiction has been published in AntipodeanSF and Flash Fiction Magazine, and is forthcoming in Curiouser Magazine and others. She blogs at emmalouisegill. com and procrastinates on Twitter @emmagillwriter.

https://www. mike.waller.7902 profile/mike-waller

SavagePlanets I 82


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!

83 I SavagePlanets 83 I PlanetsRising

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 84


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.



Limited Time Only

$14.99 Digital Subscriptions Available - Online, Mobi, Epub


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.