SavagePlanets, July 2021

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SavagePlanets k,,l

Contents Signals from the Stellar Core


Awaiting Extinction


Clone Care


Planetary Communiqué


Sci-Fi Entertainment


Patchworker 2.0


Poems from Imaginaria


Galactic Graphica


Future Artifacts




Into the Womb of Heaven




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Editor in Chief Steven S. Behram

Fiction Editor Keith 'Doc' Raymond

Poetry Editor Angela Yuriko Smith

Art Editor B.o.B.







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from the

Stellar Core

By Steven S Behram, MD Editor-In-Chief

In this second issue of SavagePlanets, we hope to continue to build on a strong foundation that we started. With your help, we've compiled a collection of stories will hopefully do more than just entertain. They will spark the imagination and open minds to new realms and possibilities. And, more importantly, they pave the way to future exploration.

Genesis All stories have an origin. Our story begins with a quest to bring together like-minded contributors and fans of speculative fiction. We were humbled to see that our project snowballed to a robust publication with over 16,000 terrestrial followers on social media after the release of our initial release. Along the way, we were able to meet new friends and contributors and we were able to grow our community of valued stakeholders. This is just the beginning. We want to influence and transform this art by aligning consumers of science fiction with its creators. We encourage you to join us on this journey by sharing

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our stories within your network of friends and family. The Naked Singularity At our core, we believe that our universe is full of both beautiful and wonderful things as well as things that are horrifying in every way imaginable. It is this expansive nature that fascinates the imagination of our story-tellers and contributors.

outright bizarre behaviours. The edicts may sound threatening, but their goal is to "put us in our place."

Gravitational Lensing In this instalment, we want to deliver on our promise.

Poems from Imaginaria presents three speculative poems all examining our role in the cosmos.

In the Planetary Communiqué we publish the continuing saga from our galactic overlords as they humorously interpret our diminutive earthly endeavours and, at times,

Galactic Graphica presents the continuing saga of "X Planet," graphic novel about a stealth planet which reigns catastrophe on earth once every 3,600 years when our

In Extraterrestrial Fiction we present three beautiful stories. "Awaiting Extinction" examines the necessity of the death of our race in order to make room for the future. In "Clone Care" we learn about the vicious cycle of prejudice and discrimination. "Into the Womb of Heaven" is a voyage into the very heart of darkness.

orbits coincide with one another. Future Artifacts showcases computer-generated art paired up with our favourite science fiction quotes. Our A.I. art editor provides the titles and the computer generates the art in this hypnotic feast for the eyes. Subspace is a fan based sci-fi section containing seven cleverly written speculative stories, consisting of only two sentences! Now you can get your fix of science fiction, in under a minute! Attractive Forces We want your feedback and support. Please visit us on http:// and consider contributing content for our next edition.

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AWAITING EXTINCTION by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond

A bitten mushroom on a spoon resting on top of her son’s bowl told Narla all she needed to know. Quasars’ misidentified mushrooms killed them all."

“Torvash, you have your orders!” “You want me to kill a human? After all this time! If only we wait just a little longer...” “The Council is impatient. We already terraformed the other side of the planet.” “She doesn’t have long to live. It’s not our way!” “It is now.” “But, but…” “Torvash!” “I can’t!” Narla aimed carefully, held her breath and fired. The arrow flew silently and struck the hare. It rolled over onto its back, kicked the air once and died. A merciful death. She scanned the forest, looking for other predators. All clear, she

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approached the prey. Thanked Great Spirit and the hare for giving her life so she might live another day. Tonight, Narla would eat well, nights like this becoming far too infrequent. Narla Wishon was a superb huntress. The last of her kind. The last of her species. She didn’t know it, but she felt it. While she couldn’t look beyond the horizon, in her bones Narla knew she was alone. Her tribe died and her man died, so did her children. Starvation, illness, vengeance, all the same at life’s end. Narla was starving. Only small animals remained, and it was too much work for one person to maintain the agriculture sufficient to meet her needs. Winters were

always the worst. Despite the best storage and food preservation, she didn’t have the time or strength to meet all her requirements. Amazingly, she remained optimistic. It was her baseline affect. She reveled in the struggle to survive, focusing only on the present. At the second Lagrange point, they waited. Most of them in synthetic hibernation. Observers rotated through shifts between long periods of stasis. A thousand years passed unnoticed. Torvash Elderson was up watching Narla. He knew she was the switch. The one that needed flipping for his kind to colonize the Earth with a clear conscience. Probes on the other side of the planet already changed the

Extraterrestrial Fiction

environment to meet their needs. The aliens, calling themselves Tandals, traveling over two millennia from a world a hundred light years away. They set out when they detected the first radio transmissions from Earth. Their own planet exhausted. The timbre of the human voices suggested a propensity for extinction. The Tandals realized Earth required only minor changes to make it viable for them. Once on station, they sent out probes to harvest the metal still in orbit. Rare elements so precious, they couldn’t believe the humans would just sling them into space and forget they were there. Now it was down to one human, singular. The last of her kind. Time was running out for the Tandals too. Their food banks empty, their air

recyclers failing, and the embryos in stasis dying. They had to colonize or euthanize for the rest to survive. Torvash observed her for the longest time. He grew to love Narla Wishon. Reading her thought waves, he admired the human’s enthusiasm. His twin hearts ached at the thought of killing her. When he focused on her rather than monitoring the rest of the environment, he felt her mood improve. He could not explain it. He knew the simian based species possessed no telepathic skills, yet she sensed him. Now Torvash was under orders. No one else would do it. Especially after Veliops killed herself when they gave her the task. The Tandals were a peace-loving race. A race free of weapons. It was beyond

their comprehension. It meant driving Narla to suicide. Pulling the strings in Narla’s psyche through dangerous mental constructs. Weaponizing her own thoughts against her. Narla’s mocha colored skin, black piercing eyes, and matted black hair shimmered in the forest’s fractured light. She often felt Torvash’s thought pressure. While he was clearly alien, she sensed he was a friend. More often than not, she believed he was just a trick of her imagination. A byproduct of her profound loneliness. A welcome madness, a faux paranoia, a need to feel watched. There were few predators remaining, mostly raptors, and none to

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threaten her, but those extant still could deny her a meal. His presence reminded her to be vigilant. This alien’s closeness comforted her. Even if he was an imaginary friend. When she felt him, she no longer felt alone. When he watched, rather than alarming her, it reassured. Torvash’ connection to her was far stronger than the reverse. Torvash felt the layers of her personality. He could separate them, distinguishing the undertones and overtones of her moods on many levels. Those she understood as singular motivations and actions were actually a constellation of urges. It was his duty to twist her urges toward suicidal thoughts. Something beyond his will, alien to his race. As Narla built a fire, Torvash could feel her grief. It was times like these when she and her daughter worked together, adding wood to the sparkling embers. Similarly, at these times, to spark his aggression, Torvash would stab a large floating globule of protoplasm

with a trident. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t find the will to murder her. Nonetheless, he’d try. His people counted on him. Narla’s husband,

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Quasar, was an excellent gardener. But what he really excelled at was mushroom gathering. It would be their undoing. In fact, Veliops, the first Tandal tasked to kill the family, used Quasar’s knowledge against them. Under the influence of Veliops telepathic thought pressure, she made him collect death caps rather than porcini mushrooms. Narla reminisced about that fateful day she made squirrel stew for her family, and her husband tossed in those mushrooms. The stew was in its last stage of preparation when the hoot of an owl called her

away. The bird was quite close, and would be a rare delicacy for the following day if she could track it down and kill it. The moon, just past full, provided plenty of illumination on the forest floor. Narla read the long shadows and knew the trees well. She spotted the owl as a darkness within the

darkness. Positioning herself silently, seeking the perfect vantage point to loose her arrow. The owl sensed her from its perch, sweeping its head around in a circle. Sending out a single hoot. A warning to the creatures that scurried below. Whether it was for them or itself didn’t matter. It waited too long. Narla fired. The arrow caught the bird in the shoulder as it flapped its wing to escape. It toppled mid-flight, whirling to the ground. Smiling, she walked over to the fallen fowl. The last

stupidity. Building catafalques in her anguish, Narla gently placed her husband and her kids on top and poured Quasar’s homemade liquor over them. Then she set them aflame. It created a false dawn as the hilltop glowed. Narla watched them burn until sunrise, cursing and crying, yelling at her man, disciplining her kids, and loving them as the fire reduced them to ash

and bone. The pain burned so deep in her; it drove Veliops to her own death. Physically and emotionally exhausted, Narla

slept through the day. When even abanher, likely a raccoon her family. blossomed. no longer de-

she awoke, the owl doned taken by to feed Guilt Narla served

her prize. She preferred dying with Quasar and her kids, rather than surviving alone. She kicked the fire she had just built, like the one she kicked that night they died. Torvash hated himself for using Narla’s memory, twisting her guilt, ramping up her self-hatred. Now he knew a fraction of Veliops’ anguish. Inwardly, he raged. It wasn’t in his nature. Somehow, Narla detected the undercurrent of remorse coming off Torvash’s machinations. The alien regret embedded in the very human sense of self reproach. Such a waste. She blamed herself for living on. Torvash cursed. He failed in his first attempt. He beat his feet cyclically. Round and round in rhythm, the stomping relieved him, soothed his ragged nerves. This defied everything they taught him. Patience, generosity, kindness were all overturned, thrown into an ethical

Extraterrestrial Fiction

of its life drained away, as Narla mercifully cut its throat. Proudly, she returned to their camp, carrying her prize. The silence in the camp was ominous. No arguing kids, no scolding husband, no fidgeting, just silence. Wooden bowls half empty of stew, her family curled around them in death. A bitten mushroom on a spoon resting on top of her son’s bowl told Narla all she needed to know. Quasars’ misidentified mushrooms killed them all. Narla would have died had it not been for her hunt. She dropped the owl, trembling. Tears welled in her eyes. She kicked the pot off the rocks and scattered the stew. Then she grabbed each bowl from her family’s palms and threw them into the fire. She cursed her man’s

fire. He was burning. This attempt to make Narla self-harm damaged him, no doubt permanently. Yet, he was under orders. Their empty stomachs a reminder of his mission. Rebuilding the fire again, Narla’s remorse drowned her as she watched it crack-

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le. Good times became bittersweet and bad memories became stronger, ringing pain and regret from her brow. A moment of loneliness weighed her down, something she’d refused to give in to during the day. Earlier, she planted some of Quasar’s favorite herbs, melancholy replacing her urge for closeness. Being held by him, smelling her kid’s hair, made her chin tremble. Tempted to dig up their bones, she knew it would only add to her despair. Sadness stole her energy. Narla retired to her tepee, sleeping beneath the pyramid. Swaying in her hammock, she felt the energy of the universe pass through her body, drawing her towards Earth’s core. Her body a conduit within the flow. Sleep vanquished her vision, and she welcomed the blanket of forgetfulness. Waking suddenly, she sat up. It didn’t seem like she slept that long, but outside it was light. A strange light, orangy. Children's voices and the scamper of feet. Stocking feet on the carpet! She rolled out of the hammock and lifted the edge of the leather tarp, her teepee’s door. A wave of warm air washed over her face. She was inside! Inside a Manhattan apartment over two hundred years before. It terrified her. This was a time before the Techtraction ended modern society. The Techtraction, also known as the Great Technological Contraction, started when the global governments launched pulse weapons at each other. Destructive electromagnetic fields blanketed the globe, rendering useless any technology not water driven. Electrons no longer flowed. Wires no longer hummed. Economies collapsed. Money became writing paper and

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useless metal. Anyone with implants died, killing more than half the population. Most of the others succumbed to pandemic and a lack of skills to survive in an agrarian world. “Got you!” cried a little girl with bushy hair and wild eyes. She shoved her face close to Narla’s. Narla drew back, as the girl shouted to the others, “I found her, everyone.” “Ollie, Ollie oxen free!” shouted an older boy, followed by a brace of giggles from other kids, popping from hiding places in the living room. “You’re it!” said the little girl to Narla. A stern voice called the children to order, “That’s enough now. Leave your mother alone. Go play elsewhere! Adult time.” There was a whine of protests as the kids retreated to a bedroom at the opposite end of the flat. Their frustration punctuated by a door slam. A tall, handsome man came into view. Narla, still at the tepee’s door, straightened her clothes and stepped into the living room. Shaken by all this, she noticed she was no longer wearing skins, but synthetics. Clothes she once found in a ruined hovel, except these were new! “Beautiful as ever! How do you do it?” he quipped. Narla blushed. The strangeness of this place captured her heart. Unexpected emotions swamped her. She was inside someone else’s memory, a person she could never be. Perhaps a moment in the life of her great-great grandmother. A warmth spread through her as the man, probably her husband, appraised the woman she was. She hiked up a hip and rested a fist on it, smiling, while checking him out. Well fed and strong, he was

even a little fat. His skin was dark, ‘swarthy’ is what came to mind. He stared at Narla with intelligent eyes. She had an urge to strike another pose and did, which made him laugh. A rich laugh, deep and filled with delight. “Can I pour you a drink?” She nodded, not knowing what else to do. Narla felt a welcome fullness in her stomach. ‘It must be after dinner,’ she thought, noticing the heat in the room again. It was too warm for her liking, but appropriate for the light clothes she wore. She took the strange shaped glass from his hand, like an hourglass, and sipped the clear beverage, and gagged. “Did it go down the wrong pipe?” he asked, after he took a long sip of brown liquid from fine crystal filled with clear rocks. “Fine, fine,” she said, between coughs. She tried it again, very strong, it made her dizzy. Unsteady on her feet. “Why don’t you take a bath, then meet me in the bedroom,” he said, following it with a wink. Narla smiled back, surprised she knew where to go. She drifted down a hallway, sipping her martini. Finding a bathroom off to her right, she drew a bath, enjoying the scalding water pouring out of the spigot into the porcelain tub. (In reality, she sleepwalked to an icy stream by her teepee.) She added a solution

memories, calling her back to the present. When he kissed her, Narla expected warmth and richness from the touch of his full lips. Instead, they were ice cold, a warning. Startled, she closed her eyes and opened them again. The surrounding warmth was indeed water, but it was flowing. Looking about, she spotted her skins on the bank. Lifting her hands from the water, their blue gray color frightened her. Painfully, Narla climbed from the freezing water, each movement painful. Standing naked on the bank, a tremor passed through Narla from the brush of the chilly air. In mortal danger, she grabbed up her skins and raced toward her camp, seeking warmth. Too numb, she could not relight the fire. She dove into the teepee, wrapped herself in layers of blankets, her teeth chattering as her body warmed. Followed by convulsions of shivering, her body worked to warm its core. Her mind slowed, yet she asked, ‘what possessed me to lie in the stream?’ Torvash screamed. Crazed by his sheer frustration. He’d nearly killed her, flooding her consciousness with deception. Narla used the memory to warn her, to entice her, to save herself. ‘She is much stronger than she seems,’ he thought, and broadcast it to his betters, fixing the episode to an information packet. They echoed it back to Torvash in disgust, not just in the act (which they found distasteful), but in his repeated failure. He refused to try again. They demanded he act. He fought them, but their collective consciousness drowned him in objection. ‘If manipulation won’t work, then you must transport down and do it with your own hands! We will all die if you don’t!’ The thought savaged Torvash, yet

he rejoiced at the idea of meeting her in the flesh, despite hating what he had to do. ‘Much easier to order it, than do it,’ he thought at them. Responding with images of horror needed for the various acts of murder. Their repulse, a tangible pressure wave, struck him hard, sending him reeling. He vomited from the force of their insistence. On the surface of Earth, Torvash used unfamiliar muscles to balance and move. Most of the time, he stood looking around agog. The horizon was hard to bear. The distance astonished and terrified him. This world was too big. He’d spent his life on a ship, and the vastness startled him. Torvash, like his people, had purple black skin because of the near lack of ozone and the high methane atmosphere of his home world. Their physiology included a methane cycle. They metabolized what they breathed for energy. He had six fingers and six toes per limb, three legs, and the same number of arms. His maximized surface to body ratio allowed the Tandals to transpire the excess methane. He had a dominant face in front and a subordinate face on the back of his head with a yolk of hair between. He attempted to adjust to the strangeness, while heading toward Narla’s camp. Meanwhile, he kept fixating on the agony of strangling someone he loved. Everything within him fought against it. Orders or not, there was a difference between being ordered to do it and acting on it. In that moment, he decided he should save Narla. To hide her from his entire race. Allow her to live out her life in secrecy, while enabling his people to colonize and survive. His triple footfalls sounded loud,

Extraterrestrial Fiction

that bubbled in the water, giving off a pleasant aroma like strawberries. She undressed and slipped in, gasping at the luxury. It felt so warm and delicious, her body relaxed. Though she wasn’t dirty, she soaped herself. Shampooed her hair. She heard the kids running up and down the hallway laughing. A soothing moment, one of domestic bliss. It felt foreign, strange, yet somehow familiar. *** Narla lay in the stream, slipping into hypothermia. The water having gone from cold to an odd warmth. Inside Torvash’s driven fantasy, Narla heard her husband calling from the bedroom. “I’m waiting for you, lover.” “Just a little longer,” she answered. “This is wonderful.” She heard him climb out of bed and push open the bathroom door. Steam poured out, and a wave of cold entered. Narla shivered. The first thing she saw of him was a protuberance in his pajamas. It stirred all kinds of desire in her, rising from her core. “Come out of there. Can’t you see I need you?” he begged. She pointed and answered, “You’ll need more than that to entice me.” He came closer. He leaned over her in the tub. She could smell him, but he smelled like Quasar, not this overly clean, civilized man. It stirred

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even to him. He stumbled when not paying attention. The surface wasn’t smooth like on the mother ship. Objects poked at him from all directions. He learned to push branches out of his way rather than walk into them. Birds scuffled and scampering creatures startled, unnerving Torvash. When a squirrel stopped on the side of a tree to observe the alien plodding along, Torvash stared back. The strangeness of these creatures and their smells had him on edge. He had prepared for the former, but couldn’t tolerate the latter. This world stank. It was barbaric and primitive. Everything was wrong. He checked his locator and distance to target and moved forward. A fox padded into his path. It stopped and challenged the alien, unafraid. The red hair on its shoulders’ rose, and its tail twitched. The creature had not seen a large animal like this ever, and this one, never. Torvash frightened by the fox also froze. The vixen, bored by the stalemate, turned and padded off in a trot. It huffed once, perhaps a threat or a warning not to follow. Torvash had no intention of doing either, taking his own direction. He registered the animal in his memory log for later reference. Its behavior novel for such an insignificant creature, and completely unexpected, based on the studies of the fauna planet-side. Narla heard Torvash coming from way off. The large animal would be a good meal or several meals if she could bring it down. She hadn’t seen it, but by the sound of it, it was the largest thing she ever heard. She selected her best arrows for the hunt. It lumbered along without stealth. The creature clearly believed it was dangerous, or perhaps

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overconfident in its dominion. She slipped away from camp on an obtuse angle. Ranging the sounds of the creature as it disturbed the forest. Moving silently, she hoped to flank it, and bring it down near her fire. Her prey thundered through the woods, announcing itself. It was a careless act, one borne of hubris. Narla would give it a reason not to forget, if it remembered at all. Climbing a tree, taking the high ground, she’d be able to fire down on it as it passed below her. When Torvash came into view, she crushed her mouth with her hand, gasping at the sight of the monstrosity. Three arms and three legs, with a face front and back?! She’d seen nothing like it. It was a walking nightmare. So far it hadn’t looked up. Narla nocked three armor piercing arrows she reserved from the old days, she moved deliberately and silently. She drew her bow arm back as far as it would go and aimed. The string quivered. A small branch snapped as she pressed her foot down to stabilize herself in the tree. Torvash looked up, using his secondary face. Narla loosed the arrows just before a thought wave passed up to her where she perched. Torvash sent love, compassion, and warmth. It startled her, as all the familiar feelings that kept her company and gave her solace came from the being she just committed to death. The arrows struck right on target, tearing Torvash’s life away in an instant. He sent out a wave of agony in love's wake, and it hit Narla hard. The whole tree shook with their shared emotions, steadying herself she nearly fell. Shaking, absorbing his death scream, Narla found a deep grief welling in her heart, regret. He would be food instead of a friend. Little did she know, he would

have done the same to her given the chance. At the second Lagrange point, Torvash’s death scream quaked in the commanders’ twin hearts. Some trembled, others cried. They convulsed, entering the death dance of the Tandals. This human was far too dangerous to approach. It stymied them. Their only option was to revert to their original plan and await her death. Await the extinction of the human species, and perhaps their own, before they could inhabit this fecund world. To colonize it with a clear conscience, even if they had to sacrifice many of their own to do so. Now the Tandals truly understood why humans were no longer fit for this universe. Their ways abraded mind and body. Their ways were too violent and aggressive. They had their chance at life. They had many redeeming qualities. But the humans carried a fire and forget mentality, or shoot first and ask questions later, incompatible with longevity and leading to their extinction. Narla found Torvash’s flesh sweet, yet she would miss his ghostly caress. Even as she ate, the silence in her mind bothered her. It would be her death. His flesh, with its methane metabolism, poisoned and killed her shortly after she went to sleep. Torvash succeeded in his mission, despite his sacrifice. They would leave her remains close to his, both unburied. Her camp, saved for posterity, would be a monument to the first Tandal and the last human. Most would simply walk by it in the quadrangle of museums where it stood. Only the museum guides would point it out and tell the story you just read, dear friend.

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 12


The science of cloning wasn’t perfected by any means, and all clones eventually went Gyro. It was some genetic imbalance in their brains that the geeks hadn’t quite figured out yet.”

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We got a call on a rogue clone in downtown Tampa. I met officer Rukscad in the alley outside the restaurant and shifted my bullet-proof vest to ensure a tight fight. I’d seen clones go haywire and wasn’t about to be caught off guard. “About time you got done in there,” Rukscad shot me that dirtbag sneer of his. His forehead was already

slick with sweat from the muggy air. I couldn’t blame his irritation. Our uniforms are hot as hell. “What do we got?” he asked. “Restaurant owner said there was a clone going gyro in the alley behind this place. He didn’t approach or try to talk to him. He doesn’t want to trespass, just doesn’t want him here, bothering customers or disturbing the peace.”

“Yeah, looks like he’s still sitting there,” Rukscad pointed down the alley. I looked and saw a bald white male, late thirties, early forties, sitting with his knees to his face against the brick wall behind the restaurant dumpster. I walked into the alley with my hand resting on my Glock. Even mid-morning the alley was pretty dark, I pulled out my

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flashlight and shined it on the suspect’s chest. “Sir. Sir!” His head lulled a little. He mumbled something I didn’t catch, but he didn’t look up. “I’m Officer Cortez, this is Officer Rukscad with the Tampa Police Department. Is everything all right?” He moaned. “I’m sorry, sir, we can’t understand you.”

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No response. I shot Rukscad a look. Maybe he wasn’t a clone gone ‘Gyro’ and just a guy who OD’d on something. I kneeled in front of him and gently lifted his head. His mouth hung open, and he moaned like I was hurting him. I flashed my light in his eyes and sure enough; they were yellow with jaundice, his conjunctiva injected, full of popped blood vessels. I almost fell backward when he looked at me. “Yep, he’s gyro. Call it in,” I said to

Rukscad. The science of cloning wasn’t perfected by any means, and all clones eventually went Gyro. It was some genetic imbalance in their brains that the geeks hadn’t quite figured out yet. It caused insane, violent behavior as the condition progressed in a clone’s life. The genetic issue would eventually kill the clone. But not until after the clone did a great deal of damage to themselves or other surrounding citizens. That’s why cloning was illegal. But that didn’t stop people from making them or buying them, even though it was clear what would happen when the clones gyro’d.

Besid good was gyro’ one i Ruks calle push his e busy “Cop and n My c felt s ragge Ruks

pocket and pulled out a small thing that looked like a lipstick container. “Hey Cortez, wanna mess with him first?”

scad reached for his radio and ed it in. He tilted his head and hed two of his fingers against earpiece, turning away from the y street. py,” he replied. He looked at me nodded.

He pressed a button on the small cylinder. It was a green laser pointer. The clone looked down at the dot on the pavement. Mesmerized, eyes tracking it like a cat. “Come on man, don’t do him like that.” “Chill out, dude. Why are you so soft on them? It’s not like they’re actual people.”

chest was tight, my stomach suddenly hollow. I hissed out a ed sigh.

scad reached into his pants That pissed me off. I shot upright, fists clenched, and looked him right in the eye. My blood surged with adrenaline. He stuck his chin out, daring me to make a move. “Real brave, sticking up for a Gyro. You like people killers, huh? You get in bed with clones, Cortez?” I tried to keep a level head. I reminded myself that there were always going to be dirt-bags like Rukscad, men and women who abused the privilege of the badge. Nothing I said or did in that moment would change that. “Let’s just get this taken care of,” I said. His eyes still bored into me when I grabbed a pouch from my belt and retrieved an injector pre-filled with a sedative. I turned from his burning gaze and again kneeled next to the clone. “I’m sorry. This won’t hurt.” They told us it didn’t, anyway. Rukscad scoffed, and I ignored him.

I inserted the syringe into the clone’s neck and slowly injected the sedative. He looked up at me. His mad eyes met mine, at peace for just a moment, before they glazed over and shut. I eased his unconscious body to the pavement and laid him on his back. “You Gyro hugger!” Rukscad said. I clenched my fists again, and reconsidered punching him square in the face, but the ambulance showed up just in time. Two paramedics jumped out and removed the gurney. I watched them load the clone onto it and strap him down. I couldn’t watch anymore. They’d take the clone to a hospital and euthanize him. Like he was a sick animal, recycling the usable organs. The world was a screwed up place. I stormed from the scene and got back in my squad car. My hands trembled. I took several deep breaths and tried to get my breathing under control. I fumbled for my phone and texted my mom. I love you. Thanks for always treating me right. She never asked for her only son to die in a car accident. But I was glad she cloned me, glad to have her as a mom, and glad to try my best to fill her void. I never understood what was so illegal about that. I looked in the rear view mirror and pulled my eyelid down. One day soon, I knew mine would be yellow too.

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des, you couldn’t distinguish a d clone from a non-clone, so it hard to identify them until they ’d. We were lucky to catch this in the early stages.

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

Your Overlord Grawth, the Gaseous, has permitted your race to view our most primitive surveillance technologies on your planet. We are aware that you refer to our surveillance drones as Tic-Tacs. If you want the instrument of your doom to be named after a breath mint, so be it. I am Hojack, your underlord and this is your quarterly communiqué. First, know your place: We are as far above you as you are above a limp noodle made of egg and semolina flour. We are an advanced and merciful species, but our mercy only extends to other advanced life forms. You obviously do not qualify. In fact, we must hide the fact we even contact you before the other Category One civilizations! It is therefore both ethical and necessary to enslave your race so that we can eventually elevate you to become a productive member of the galaxy. Overlord Grawth holds little hope for your success. Our semi-sentient probes, which you refer to as Tic-Tacs, have been with you for millennia. These probes are our eyes and ears. These devices, which your government now calls UAPs or UWPs, are semi-autonomous devils capable of both fun and mischief. So take out your camera phones and look skyward, snap away.

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Now that your Overlord Grawth has given the official signal (which appears to you similar to a combination of a reverse-burp with the simultaneous expulsion of sputum), our probes are free to tease your military with impunity. They can perform aerial acrobatics, straining your understanding of physics, while dominating your air, sea, and ground forces effortlessly. Obviously, since you're not really a spacefaring society, we limit your sightings to terrestrial ones. Lord Grawth believes it is important for you to see and understand our technology, the kind we will never allow you to have. Welcome to a new age for your species. Time to despair. Remember, you shall be hosts to pathogenic viruses, bacteria, parasites, and prions. Let them take over your cellular machinery to see the might of the intergalactic microbial world. Write a new chapter in the Book of Pathogenesis. And, above all, die a most miserable

death! Edict #1 Aim your primitive cameras at our spacecraft and prepare to be amazed. Our technology is so superior that we will leave you befuddled. We love to see the puzzlement on your simian faces! Occasionally, we will even allow you some grainy images. They will appear, then disappear, before your very eyes! Analyse all you want, we spoof everything. Edict #2 Pleases continue your fabrications and profiteering from UFO stories. This is a continuing source of entertainment for our leaders. We cannot get enough of your intentionally false stories and videos. We even post them in the entertainment portals.

You have situation comedies; we have you! One of our favorites is your infatuation with Area-51. It has become a pleasure destination for our Category Five civilizations who want to visit just to see what all the hubbub is about. Just for the record, the "Truth" is not "out there." The truth is what we tell you it is. It is not here, there, or out anywhere. If we want your opinions, we will insert them into your puny frontal lobes!

like wildfire across the outer arms of the Milky Way. Many space faring worlds have never encountered a species so stupid and stunted. In fact, there is a stellar funding program underway to raise credits to flatten your planet into a disc. We think that would be really, really cool (as you might say). Our engineers and scientists began their plans to convert the volume of, you guessed it, your planet’s sphere into a disc of the same volume. But only a few meters thick! We want to fulfil one third of your population’s belief in such nonsense. Of course, it will screw up the gravity, but even fewer humans believe in that! All we hear from your ‘reality’ shows is: “This world sucks!” Your overlord intends to charge a fee for our extra-terrestrial visitors to come see your backward pancake world once it’s completed.

Edict #3 Please, please, please work to expand the "flat-earth" culture. The entertainment value is beyond hilarious! It is fascinating to note that at this point in your development, one out of every three humans believe that the earth is flat. This led to a "flatearth" campaign that is spreading

In this universe, there are no flat planets, but if there is a will, we have a way. You can help this effort by feverishly clinging to conspiracy theories and defying common sense. The more you want it, the greater the desire for a malevolent cosmos to deliver you to all that you are seeking. It is obvious you don't deserve your world, so taking it from you poses no moral dilemma for us. You are an undeserving bunch of ingrates and backbirths. Taking your world from you and squashing it like a pancake would be completely justifiable for the amusement of our other subjects. Maybe your embarrassment would teach you to open your eyes and see the universe for what it is: our playground and your final graveyard.

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This Science fiction film, made in China, is an amalgam of romance, mystery, crime, action, and occasional moments of comedy. Almost Human will take you on a journey with futuristic action scenes and some of the best CGI animation available while injecting you into a mystery you need to unravel. It begins with an AI robot, developed privately by a frustrated scientist (role played by An Hu). He obsesses over creating an artificial mate because of his past romantic failures in his attempts to woo a woman. This robot has to bear the burden

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and wishes of its master and creator. Ma Yu Jie, who plays the role of the robot in the movie, finds it hard to impress him, due to the unsuccessful initial construction of her Frankenstein-like blue face. To solve his skin replication problem, the robot takes the initiative and steals another woman's face. When she returns with the face of a beautiful young woman, at first, he's not sure if it's his robot, but then realizes it is and gets excited. He is drunk and demanding, and that’s when the tables turn and the robot rejects him! Having lost interest in the scientist.

She wanders the streets trying to identify and learn about actual love. She sees Wang Shen (played by Bowen Duan) carrying flowers for Su Xin, his girlfriend. The robot follows him, and they meet after she helps him out after Wang gets robbed. In the meantime, the scientist continues to perfect his technology for skin replication. The mysterious murder of the young woman, found without a face, attracts the attention of the police. It confuses the investigative team when they see CCTV surveillance of the identified victim appearing in public a few days after her murder.

Into the foray comes a dashing, crime-busting investigator, Officer Li Dong Bin. He must solve this mystery and solve the case. Then the scientist makes a breakthrough which he calls, ‘Black Technology.’ The robot no longer needs to remove faces, instead the new tech scans through the contours of the subjects' face to be copied and duplicates it. The robot takes this opportunity to target Su Xin (played by Hayden Kuo). It kidnaps Su Xin and replaces her, using her face with the scientist’s perfected skin replication system. The now attractive robot as Su Xin (Ma Yu Jie) switches roles from a damsel in distress into Wang’s ideal woman, but also a kind of SheTerminator. Part of this new role is to replace Su Xin and become a better version of her, using her identity to learn about love through her relationship with Wang Shen. This allows various plot twists, that once set in motion makes this movie a hair-raising suspense thriller that will take you to the edge of your seat. The film references several Hollywood blockbusters, including Bicentennial Man, Frankenstein, IRobot, and Alita: Battle Angel. Finding those references and Easter eggs adds fun to the viewing. It also strikes a similar chord and feel to those other films. Director Nan Zhang takes the viewers on an adventure that is both mystery laden and heart racing. His Artificial life-form seeks recognition as a human, while having capabilities that are superhuman. This is truly shocking and eye-opening for the first-time viewer. This highly developed robot possesses a sophisticated nervous system, along with a plethora of desires it wants to satisfy at any cost. Can humans stop this robot? Will

this love for a human male be enough, or will it seek control over all humans? Was the robot attempting to simulate love to manipulate others, or was it part of the robot's emotional discovery? Maybe it was trying to impress its creator. That’s for you to decide. The fates of Wang Sheng, Su Xin, and the police hangs in the balance. What adds dimension and insight to this film for non-Asian viewers is the way the movie portrays modern Chinese culture. It gives us insight into the way Chinese live, and how they are unique from other cultures. It is a must see for the AI-tech geeks who find the way robots develop consciousness interesting. It poses several questions that programmers need to address as AI evolves. The viewers get a glimpse of how these AI humanoids interpret reality when allowed to make their own decisions. They come to unexpected conclusions, ones we might not even consider. For example, could it be out of fear or a drive toward ecstasy that an AI controls others, and by extension its environment? Meanwhile, we wonder, will Wang realize that a robot replaced his girlfriend, and can he find and free

Su Xin in time? In so doing, the film leads us through our own history of dominance, deception and violence. Likely this robot developed a knack to share the nature of our humanity through a language that continues to haunt us from our past. A past that was reckless, violent, and inhumane. The movie also shows how we develop in our relationships, using the eyes of a naïve yet dangerous AI that uses the most advanced technology. The robot shows us not only our humanity, but how we pose as much a danger to others as we do to ourselves. Take the time to see how it resolves these problems, and perhaps you can gain insight into yourself!

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


Thank you Ms. Pax for meeting with me today. My pleasure. Let’s start with something simple. We just love your novels, and your novels’ cover designs as well as your website. Who does your artwork? I use Erin Dameron Hill for my covers: She has done some graphics for me as well. However, I did the website and logo myself. is a very useful program and is free. I use decorative-fonts-2.php a lot. There is a great site for creating 3-D book covers: https://diybookcovers. com/3Dmockups/ In the far past, I purchased some stock art which is what I use for the website. I use

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Pixabay for graphics in creating ads and for social media. If I can be more helpful on any of this for your readers or authors, I'm happy to help. What attracted you to writing science fiction?

can’t look up at the sky without wondering what’s out there. Who is out there? Science fiction found me early. I grew up during the race to the moon and was privileged to see Apollo 11 land there when it happened. The memories of the

actual broadcast are hazy, because I wasn’t yet in school, but the intense sense of awe and wonder has never left me. Stories take me to new worlds and to new people. If I’m not reading or watching a story, I’m inventing one. Reading has always been a favorite past time. My mother took me to the library regularly when I was young. The smell of the books was wondrous, and they were filled with incredible worlds and awe-inspiring people. The science fiction stories stuck with me most, stirring my thoughts and imaginings. There were also plenty of science fiction shows and movies during my formative years to spark fantasies about the stars, societies run by apes, and flying cars. My brain burst with stories that I would play over and over in my head, and then later try to write out. Do you write in other genres? And did you migrate to science fiction, or was it always your first choice? The first story I ever wrote was Wesco, about a horse fighting to keep his herd free. I was 8 and obsessed with horses. Throughout the years, I continued to write and tried to get my moods onto the page. They were attempts at general

fiction and attempts to achieve a dream to author the greatest American novel ever written. A dear friend still ribs me about one of those early scribblings. She dubbed it Alone. I later rewrote it as Semper Audacia. Basically, I put Alone in space and added aliens. Writing about present-day made me feel caged. Despite it being fiction, I was still hemmed in, and I needed an escape. The stars kept beckoning, and so I went. In space, there are no limits on my imagination and creativity. I have the freedom to invent whatever I wish and express what I wish. Plus, I love the exploration and the discovery. How does your family influence your writing? My husband is very supportive, and my family is always rooting for me. My dad always has some new, crazy ideas for me. What books have you read that inspired you? Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and Kurt Vonnegut were my biggest early influences. I actually stood behind Kurt Vonnegut once when I lived in NYC. I was too chicken to speak to him,

though. I regret that. 2001: A Space Odyssey most prompted my foray into writing science fiction. I loved how Clarke didn’t fully explain the monolith in the first book. It was up to me to decide and ponder. 2001 remains one of my favorite books. Confession: My dad took me to the movie when I was a kid. A few years passed before I read the book. Until I bought the book, I thought the title was 2001: A Space Oddity. That’s good for a chuckle, right? I read newer authors now. I enjoy how the stories are more inclusive and diverse. Besides science fiction, I read a lot of classic literature and historical fiction. In nonfiction, I like science, history, mythology, and anything Sumer (think Sumerians). I’m also drawn to anything weird. That’s in books and real life. There was a Big Foot convention and hunt a year before I moved to Central Oregon, and I’m really bummed I missed it. Is that where you live now? Yes. Since moving to Central Oregon, I get to see the stars. I volunteer at an observatory in the summers and give tours of the night sky with my telescope. The

SavagePlanets I 22

other volunteers are some really cool space nerds who have worked for Boeing and NASA. Thankfully, they answer any science questions I have when creating a story (my panel of experts). To add to the attraction of the observatory, the valley below has a history of cattle mutilations. Mystery and science together. How fun! What led you to write several of your novel series? I let my imagination run unchecked when alone in the wilderness in the dark. The Rifters and The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear are heavily influenced by my nights under the stars. They’re both set in Oregon. The Backworlds series came about by a visit to an Oregon town that starts at one end of a rest stop and ends at the other. The moody forests and lonely desert landscapes around me are an endless source of ideas. Mist moves in the trees like the breath of a dragon. Moss reaches down from the branches to snatch me away. From far away, the desert seems colorless, and I’m certain animals could easily be seen moving in the brush. Up close, there are wildflowers and color. The bushes are higher than expected and easily

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hide a lot. How fabulous! Nature and Oregon feed my creativity more than anything else. Other things that influence my stories are cheesy sci-fi movies: the cheesier the better. I adore disaster movies, shark movies, and dinosaur movies. My love of these inspired Spaceberg, which is a giant iceberg disaster in space. Do you think any of your books could be made into movies or TV series? Sure. I'd be thrilled if that happened. Where do you want to be with your writing five years from now? My goal for the next five years is to finish the series I’ve started: Backworlds, Rifters, Hetty Locklear, and Space Squad 51. Endpoint, Backworlds 8 will go out this year and so will the boxed set of books 4-6 of the Backworlds. You can find all of my books and stories at You can also try a free starter library by signing up for my newsletter there.

Can you give us a hint about your next series?

The next series, after the Backworlds and Rifters, will be a space opera set in the future. It will involve artifacts and first contact. It will be a grand adventure to save ourselves and to find what else is in the galaxy. Thank you Ms. Pax, we look forward to reading it, and the upcoming books in the series. Also for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us! For those unfamiliar with the term ‘space opera’ think Star Wars. If you want to read the earliest and possibly the best in the space opera genre, take a look at The Lensmen series by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith, specifically Triplanetary written in 1934!

All available for purchase at

Promotional images attributed to and only used here for the purposes of criticism, comment and news reporting.


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Not all SavagePlanets are extraterrestrial. There are places right here on Earth that are alien. Places where nightmares crowd out dreams, Dead Places. Realities that challenge one’s sanity when facing the fantastic. One doesn’t think of South Africa and horror together, unless recalling the brutality of apartheid. Tiptoeing around the genre, the producers explored the subject within the rich cultural fabric of the country. The spirit of Zulu, Boer, Xhosa, Ndebele and others lie at the heart of the TV series Dead Places. It combines culture, mystical beliefs, and the supernatural in a cascade of episodes that both educate and terrify. The quality lies in combining local beliefs with speculative storytelling. This lifts Dead Places above many of the horror and mystery series out there today. The show is currently in its

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first season during 2021; we hope for more. Will Stone (played by Anthony Oseyemi) is an author of supernatural books, well respected and renown in the UK. His books comprise reports on paranormal encounters in which he intervened for those seeking his help while haunted. He is a bit of a paranormal detective who on the one hand dispels hoaxes and on the other extols actual supernatural occurrences. Instead of just documenting encounters, he often resolves the mystical crises. While researching a new book, Will’s agent calls him to Capetown at the request of a video blogger. The vlogger encountered a ghost while filming at the aquarium there. He is clearly uncomfortable being back in South Africa, as he might have to face his own demons. This is because he feels guilt over the disappearance of his sister in a

canal twenty years before in his home village. A mystery he has yet to solve, and one he deals with throughout the series. Will’s agent, Benjamin (Greg Viljoen), has assigned him a driver, Joe, played by Rea Rangaka. Joe was a former detective, fired from

the force after shooting his partner. His partner suffers a spine injury from the wound and is a major character in one of the later episodes. I’m carefully avoiding spoilers here, so I won’t divulge more. Joe meets Will when he picks him up at the airport in Capetown. Benjamin also informs him of the social media influencer, Kelly, played by Shamilla Miller, who inadvertently documented the ghost in the aquarium, and has become its target. She has her own agenda as a video blogger, and is dealing with the trauma of being abducted and raped as a teenager. The trio makes an odd team, but succeeds by helping the restless ghost that haunts the aquarium, in one of the more traditional stories of the series. Will is grateful it is over and is about to return to the UK when his agent informs him of a request for help from a wealthy man in Johannesburg. Being strapped for cash, Will agrees, and is that much closer to his home village. Joe and Kelly follow him North, welding them together as a unit. As the series continues, each member of the trio exposes their unique skill set that aids in solving each fresh case. They become more than the sum of their parts. The stress of being back in South Africa sees Will seeking the help of his psychiatrist, Dr. Damons (name significant-hint hint), played by David Butler. Their meetings have always been virtual because of the pandemic and his travel schedule. The psychiatrist helps us to better understand the inner landscape of the author, and Damons will play an important role in resolving his

sister’s disappearance later. Meanwhile, we learn about some of the supernatural creatures of South African folklore through encounters the trio have. Some are frankly skin crawling, and all of them are intriguing. And it’s not just ghosts. There are witches and ancient curses in the mix. Through memories and visions we learn about Will Stone’s family, and how he became invested in the paranormal. Finally, he works up the courage to go home to the Limpopo village of Thabazimbi. There, he visits both the living and dead he knows. The latter helps him navigate the maze of the former. Dead Places was written, directed, and produced by South Africans. It therefore possesses a sense of authenticity they can export, but one cannot import. Gareth Crocker wrote most of the episodes, and made his name with the series Jongo, and another, Shadow, the latter of which also is available through Netflix. What makes Dead Places great is the very accurate feel of life in South Africa today. Something many have not witnessed living outside its borders. The cast is predominantly black, but unlike American shows, the characters are normal. What I mean to say is they do not push their ‘ebonics’ in your face.

Which is how it should be. I believe more enlightened future audiences will look back at the clichéd black behaviors predominant in today’s shows as being an exaggeration. They will reflect on how it was movement driven rather than authentic and come to realize such behavior was more divisive than unifying. Also, they will probably consider this an unfortunate oversight dismissed over time and by cultural integration. Dead Places first appeared on Netflix in April 2021, and is still available for viewing. The series avoids most hackneyed horror memes and presents unique stories. The plot twists are unexpected and rarely predictable, allowing for many surprises while you’re on the ride. With episodes of this caliber, no doubt there will be a second season. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a look. Good Summer fare, giving you a chill that doesn’t require air conditioning. Stay tuned right here for TV series created in other corners of the globe you may dream about visiting one day. Our only limit is your imagination. In the next issue: Katla made in Iceland.

Promotional images attributed to Netflix and only used here for the purposes of criticism, comment and news reporting.

SavagePlanets I 26



Red diagonal stripes on the floor gave the briefest warning. Beyond them, a squadron of six Marines leveled assault weapons. Six red dots sprouted on my chest. None quivered.

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Extraterrestrial Fiction

Eyelids twitching, drooling like a simpleton, Carl lay on a gurney. I came to replace him, hopefully not so exactly, and hugged my navy trench coat tighter. The October chill piped into the habidome, as if people still lived out in the world. It nipped deeper into my veins. Carl and I had flirted with love back in the academy, before becoming fully licensed in PO (Patchworkers Order). PO forbade our affair, threatening to send us back from where we came. No way would I return to craptacular Sludge Bay. Carl vowed

he’d take a stroll outside rather than live in Solder Park again, which was on the edge of the landfill. He swore the stink followed him. Sludge didn’t smell any better. We put our blooming passions on hold and had planned to revisit them when we retired. Now that would never happen. The med techs strapped up Carl’s stocky arms so they’d quit flopping around and tucked away his disturbingly empty state as easily as the city dome concealed the raging storms and scalding ultraviolet

rays. Before they wheeled Carl toward the ambulance, I straightened the lapels of his trench coat and committed to memory a face so dear. Most wouldn’t call Carl beautiful. His cheeks mooned out with bulbous outcrops, a boulder-like nose and pronounced brow ridge. His fleshy lips, once brimming with pink verve and promises, matched his strong jowls and double chin. Sighing, I scanned him. Interfaces — thin micro-patches

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of circuitry — covered Carl’s skin and mine the same way most people wore clothes. I should have sensed him before the rail car stopped to let me out. His thoughts should have mingled with mine during the twelve block walk from the station. I should have perceived him beyond what my fingertips could touch. Frowning, I lifted his sleeve and pressed the black-lined circuit inked on my wrist to the same on his. “Carl, what happened?” Seizures weren’t uncommon for patchworkers, but none of those prone to them ever made it into PO. I detected no pain echoing through his tattoos and nothing of what made Carl the man he was. PO let me tap into the reports it had archived on its AI (artificial intelligence). Carl hadn’t been the first patchworker put on the job. He had replaced Gaati and Kawana. They had also ended up like this. Crap. Three patchworkers down. Now, only one hundred ninety-seven people on the planet could patch into AI and manipulate the minds of machines. Our elite group could resist getting lost in the knotted streams of code when the things went haywire. We were the few that could distinguish between biological and mechanical electrical pulses, the few that could make sense of them, the few who could create necessary patches. I pressed my wrist to Carl’s once more. All my interfaces strained to boost the signals, searching the data he had collected on the client. Into his main processors I hacked, swaying briefly when I stared up at myself — tall and big boned, square-jawed with the telltale silver irises of a patchworker, and red ringlets flowing down past my shoulders. My curls fluttered in the gentle wind, piped in through the dome’s vents. The breeze had a curdled smell to it, some days worse than others. Today it reeked. Carl’s job log ended the moment he arrived, as if erased. I found the same 29 I SavagePlanets

exclusions in Gaati’s and Kawana’s records. I didn’t believe in coincidences. PO heard my doubt and sent an instant avowal that it had deleted nothing from the logs. Had the AI? The repeated omissions gave me pause, and my second thoughts darted over to the nearby gray door that had no signs or windows. It appeared so harmless. No advisories alerted my interfaces. Yet what lay beyond those doors had rendered Carl into a sack of bio matter ready for recycling. His skill level rose to a mere notch below mine. Would I fare any better? PO demanded I go meet the client, nudging at my childhood memories until the fetid aroma of sludge filled my mouth. I needed no other incentive and ducked into the entrance. Red diagonal stripes on the floor gave the briefest warning. Beyond them, a squadron of six Marines leveled assault weapons. Six red dots sprouted on my chest. None quivered. Their aim gave me no choice other than to hold out my hands like a common hacker. “Patchworker Evalyn Shore. I’m expected.” The Marines didn’t jostle, so I didn’t see the suit taking cover behind them. I heard him, though. His voice, more shrill than the sirens outside, grating over my jitters like corroded code. “Patchworker Shore, you were scheduled to arrive twenty minutes ago.” The words flitted in my ears as a question rather than a demand. Peering around the burly soldiers, whom I matched in breadth and height, I sized up the peon sent to fetch me. A lack of authority sloughed off his cheeks like the dirty rain on the dome. I could smell his nerves, which added a sour note to the overused recycled air. “My orders are to answer only to Director Beatty. Where is he?” I brushed my red ringlets behind my ears and discreetly tapped my booster interface. The peon remained as unreadable as Carl. “I’m Assistant Director Randall.” He

held out his clammy hand. It trembled. Lots of people contracted a case of the fidgets when meeting a patchworker. As I said, we are a rare breed, but this stooge already met Carl, Gaati, and Kawana. He had to know the rule against touching patchworkers. If PO wouldn’t reestablish my residence in Sludge Bay for bailing, I’d march right back to the rail car now. Sweeping past Randall, I strode into the corridor leading to the AI. “Let’s get ticking, bub. I’m now twenty-six minutes behind. I have a reputation and all. Run, run, run.”

Despite my brisk pace, he fell into step beside me. The odd spongy texture of the ruddy brown tiles deadened any echo. “Director Beatty and I are pleased you could come on such short notice,” he said. “You were born in Sludge Bay, weren’t you? What an inspiring rise in status.” Since it didn’t matter to anything more than a defunct subroutine, I didn’t bother to answer, and it relieved me he didn’t continue to jabber. It was of no consequence which district a person was born in if she or he could become a patchworker and a damned

using tech I couldn’t detect. That had never happened. Warnings shivered down my spine. Randall stepped behind me and shoved me inside. Lined with blinking lights and hardware, the dim room buzzed and twinkled. The man standing in the middle of it all had to be Director Beatty. He stared blankly into space, unshaven, tie and jacket askew, fingers twitching. His tongue flicked at his dry lips. Shifting stiffly, he pivoted, staring into my face. As if a circuit switched on inside me, thoughts lunged, screaming and sniveling. The onslaught after total nothingness coming off him

shocked me. My knees buckled. Beatty reached out to catch me. I veered sharply the other way to avoid his touch. Any innocent contact would cost me a good number of interfaces, and his void expression creeped me out. It reminded me too much of Carl. Boosting my sensors, I worked harder to scan him. Beneath the overwhelming chatter of AI in the room, I could make out Beatty’s mind — overwrought, lost, fearful. I knew that much only because someone allowed it. Was it him or the machine? “Ah, Mayflower has introduced itself.” A ring of hair fringed his round head like a wire-rimmed screw hole in a circuit board. The top of his pink skull puckered with his words, emphasizing his nerves in the oddest way. I amplified my connection to PO, checking to make sure my ability to communicate remained unobstructed. “We’re here,” PO whispered. Good. I greeted the AI. It cooed so eagerly, inundating my conscious and unconscious thoughts, replacing my emotions with its own. Powering up into the tattoos at my temples, I muted Mayflower’s babble. A machine should mind its place. “Tell me the problem. Leave out no detail,” I said to Beatty. His opinion and analysis mattered most. The human caretaker’s assessments trumped all in extreme cases. This job definitely fell into the extreme category. “My digital colleague needs something I can’t provide. It knows you can.” A knot formed in my forehead, narrowing my vision. “How can you know what I can provide? And what happened to Carl? Gaati? Kawana? Any of them should have been able to fix your problem. They’re as PO certified as I am.” “Only the best will do.” His lips clamped tight together, and he gestured at the jack-in chamber — a soundproof room with jacks, interfaces, speakers, and monitors where I could interface with Mayflower. The AI

often manifested as a hologram in there. It gave me a mental push. I walled it off by setting the tattoos at my temples to maximum strength. The connection had to happen on my terms, and I communicated to Mayflower that I wouldn’t budge until it showed some courtesy. It dialed down the aggression, giving me the space I demanded. Good. To prepare for merging, I silenced communications from any source other than the AI and PO. Then I thanked Mayflower and accepted its invitation. Inside the chamber, I laid down and got comfortable. Before settling into a union with the machine, I set my anchors — boosting my connection to PO, isolating my personal processing chip, setting it to beep every three minutes. Fixating on the cool draft blowing over my right hand chilling my fingers to ice, I reached out, ‘Join with me, Mayflower.’ I need. I hurt. The emotion in those simple words overpowered my defenses. Beatty, Randall, the weird facility, Carl, everyone and everything faded away. Mentally I embraced the AI, calling it ‘friend.’ Let me help you, friend. Who named you Mayflower? Dr. Navin. She created me. Where is she now? Sometimes all it took was an understanding of who had authored the routines and subroutines. Few could resist imbibing their personalities into their AI. My PO interface accessed the global library and fed me data on Dr. Navin. Her work involved evolution. Her biography didn’t mention any programming credentials, and Mayflower didn’t appear on her list of achievements. Onboard. For a moment I blanked, my thoughts sputtering. You’re a

Extraterrestrial Fiction

good one. Perhaps this assistant director (boy) wanted to get me riled, riled enough not to notice the absolute void. Neither my interfaces nor my senses picked up anything other than lemon-scented cleanser and heavily insulated walls. Everything pinged back as a dead end. The minty-hued corridors zigged and zagged. The cushion of the ruddy tiles grew deeper, stumbling my steps. I found it harder to swallow. A set of doors appeared on the left. Randall stopped in front of them. Silently he summoned them open,

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ship? To where? Why hadn’t PO given me this information? PO claimed not to have known. It scanned the library files for a list of possibilities. Mayflower stopped the search when PO pinged me about ERC 14 (Earth Reboot Candidate 14). I heard myself gasp. Are you there now? Or is that the issue? You’ve run into a travel snag? I’m here. The mission can’t fail, Evalyn. Would you like to see your future? A new home on which to grow and start over would solve a lot of problems on Earth. The scope of Mayflower’s mission wasn’t lost on me. I had to fix this AI. I’ll help you succeed. May I see? I’d like to. That’s a relief to hear. Now I feel better. Mayflower let me slip farther into its systems, cradling my consciousness, guiding me over the expanse between us. My stomach flipped. At first, all I saw was white — the floor, ceiling, and walls. Consoles shrunk the navigable space in the ship’s operations center to one meter. The banks of machines hummed, working, winking, all part of the Mayflower. It took a moment to reorient myself where I fit in, only to find my consciousness traveled in a robotic explorer. I had treads and three metal arms. I rolled toward the nearest window. Darkness spanned in every direction, revealing nothing. Sadly disappointed, I prepared to amble off and explore the ship. An eerie purple flash stopped me. It illuminated an alien vista. Green. Gobs and gobs of green, as if the ship lay at the bottom of a strange ocean. The flashes continued, reminding me of an electrical storm. Unable to tear away, I continued to peer into the exotic depths that flickered in and out of view. Aware of the ultraviolet and x-ray scanners built into 31 I SavagePlanets

the probe, I activated them. Some sort of bio mass drifted out there, phosphorescing with the tides and currents. After making an inquiry at the global library, PO pinged me with the nearest Earth

equivalent, seaweed. Its undulations hypnotized, transfixing me to the spot. I scoured the green for a scrap of something more profound, for the salvation of humanity it so desperately sought. A tiny beep shook me from the

porthole display,

derful as it was to explore ERC 14, I couldn’t help

Mayflower if I became lost in the external view and its protocols. To ground myself to my body, I confirmed the frigid draft on my hand and exchanged login greetings with PO. Reconnecting to the physical world activated the stalled robot the Mayflower embedded me in, enabling me to move from the porthole. The ship was so quiet. Too quiet. Where’s your crew? I

asked. The records I accessed informed me the Mayflower had a crew complement of twenty whose mission is to establish an off-Earth colony. The crew had to succeed. Had to. I tired of living inside a dome, tired of living on a planet that could no longer provide what people needed to survive. They left, Mayflower answered. All of them?

They went out there and didn’t come back. Did you send robot explorers like this one after them? Of course. They didn’t return either. You are in the last one. I jacked deeper into Mayflower, searching for its communication logs. Have you tried to raise them on comms? The logs sat in front of me, but wouldn’t open. Mayflower, grant me access. I can’t! You can’t communicate with them or you can’t open the logs? The ambiguous answer struck me as strange. Examining Mayflower’s original directives, I could plainly discern Dr. Navin’s primary protocol, which required the AI to safeguard the crew. The encrypted line of code hidden in it suggested there was an overriding directive to ensure success of the mission. Usually any superseding instructions required a specific crisis before activating. It was AI law. Had those circumstances occurred? Elaborate security measures protected the secret mandate and wouldn’t let me in, at least not yet. The chill on my hand in the jack-in chamber spread to my wrist. I can do neither, Mayflower answered. My scanners discovered no programming issues with Mayflower’s communications. I rolled the robot toward an access panel and checked inside. This circuit is bad. I can fix it, but don’t you have redundancies? Why didn’t they take over? This mission can’t fail, Evalyn. The AI’s worry tightened my stomach back on Earth. For reassurance, I patted the ship’s wall with one of my mechanical arms. Don’t worry. I’ll get it on track. Pliers and soldering iron in robotic hand, I repaired the module. I had to instruct the system to

Extraterrestrial Fiction

reminding me of my job. As won-

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reboot. While waiting for it to come back online, I rolled through the vessel hunting for signs of the crew, seeking clues to what happened. My search led only to more questions. Blankets on two of the bunks lay bunched. I imagined Dr. Navin and the mission commander leaping up from a sound slumber, sprinting toward the trouble. What kind of problem sent them running? In the tiny living quarters, three trays of food sat rotting in front of a monitor playing a movie — The World To Be, everyone’s favorite about Earth’s restoration. Did it play in a loop or had the crew just left? On Earth, I tugged at my lapel. I directed the robot to check out the lockers. Empty. Not one spacesuit hung on the pegs. Not one helmet or pair of boots graced the shelves. Pivoting the robot’s sensors around, I glanced toward the airlock. If not onboard, everyone had to have gone out. Had they found our new paradise? I headed toward the porthole, while digging deeper into Mayflower’s archives. The speakers onboard the ship blasted to life. In the jack-in chamber, I jumped. The robot merely shuddered to a halt. “We’re here, Mayflower. Send the supplies!” Who’s that? I asked. Commander Lister. Will you bring the crates? They’re by the airlock. You’ve established a colony? Now the crew’s hurry made sense. And I did, tracking toward the hatch at top speed. I’d race to start a new age for humanity, too. Until my thoughts glitched. What did Mayflower need from me? I slowed, and my interfaces combed through its error logs, finding no major faults. The mission seems to be on track. Why am I here? I need a patch, a bridge if you will. What do you mean? You’ll see. Confused why Carl and the other patchworkers hadn’t been able to complete a simple repair, and what 33 I SavagePlanets

exactly Mayflower needed, I scanned the hull and ship systems. The spacecraft reported all systems fully functional and intact. Requiring more information to make sense of the problem, I jacked into Mayflower’s mission data to study the maps and facts of ERC 14, stumbling upon the most recent log entry by Commander Lister. His dark eyes squinted, watering. His brow and shoulders drooped. “This world isn’t suitable for a city or human life. We’re coming back. This mission is a failure.” The date flashed over the light years. Six months ago. The chill on my hand now grabbed my knees inside the jack-in chamber. I couldn’t prevent a shiver. Where’s your crew, Mayflower? Outside, purple flashed in time with my pulse, speeding up, emphasizing the life in the primordial soup. Through the robot’s cameras, I gawked. Colonizing the planet. Commander Lister— Was he mistaken, Evalyn? Is the mission a success? An ache sprouted in my chest, spreading through the me in the office on Earth, not the me inside the robot on ERC 14. The ship’s airlock sprang open. Before me darkness swarmed and violet lights flickered in the depths, cocooning me in the rhythms of this strange world. I didn’t want to join the stew out there. What if, like the crew, I didn’t return? Evalyn, we need you. The statement echoed until it broke down into sobs. The voice didn’t belong to Mayflower, though. Carl’s staccato bass inundated my tattoos like an upload of a new code, and his words became the thumping of my heart. Gaati and Kawana‘s voices joined in as his chorus. Breathing became difficult. My interfaces strained. My wrists’ froze, circuits burning. I wanted out. I kicked at the wall of the jack-in chamber, while on ERC 14 I pivoted the robot away from the airlock. Concentrating on the numbing cold of

my right hand, the beeps signaled a warning from my secured processor. I abandoned Mayflower and blinked up at the long fluorescent tubes, gulping down air, struggling to sit up. Help. PO didn’t answer. Our connection severed. Beatty and Randall gawked down at me, their vacant stares sparkling with a purple hue, their drool dripping on my cheeks. They held me down. I screamed, twisting away from their groping hands, I charged out of the jack-in chamber. Relentlessly, they chased me, grabbed me, doing Mayflower’s bidding.

Beatty sat on me, punching me in the temple again and again. Randall scraped his palms on my skin, stripping away interfaces. Together they added new ones, then dragged me back inside the jack-in chamber. They thrust an old-fashioned USB cable into my neck, right down to my brain stem. The prongs seared like acid-dipped teeth into my mind. Instantly I was back on ERC 14. This time something trapped me inside and I had no control over the robot. Every thought, every bit of control, belonged to Mayflower. Please, I begged. Everyone must mind their place. That includes you. The AI sent me miles out into the green sludge. Relax. I’m about

lines of code flared over my consciousness as clearly as if I spoke them. “If you can’t thrive as human beings planetside, enter ERC 14’s genetic tree. Infect it with human DNA. Evolve to survive.” The Mayflower converted the crew into bio matter! My fellow patchworkers provided even more cybernetic material and directives to enable evolution in the primordial goo. Everyone remained interred in the murky sea. Yet, it still didn’t explain why it needed me. You already have Carl, Gaati, and Kawana, why me? I asked. The leap in evolution couldn’t happen with them alone. Your ability surpasses all of their skills combined. You are

the last ingredient needed, the one that will allow humans to succeed. From Carl, I learned only you can do it. Your ability to connect neuro-mechanical pathways is an order of magnitude greater than theirs. You will create the patch needed to take life up onto the beach. You will be ERC 14’s goddess! Mayflower gave me access to everything it knew, hiding nothing. With a great shove, it ousted my consciousness out of the robot, casting me adrift. The AI didn’t follow, leaving me more alone than I thought possible. Without Mayflower and the robot, I could no longer hear Carl and the other patchworkers. I could feel them only as pulses flitting in a rhythm out of time with the kelp’s energy. I joined the primordial sludge, bobbing. At first I had no control over the seaweed and the other microscopic organisms that I came to recognize as me. Eons passed before I could paddle up to the surface, shifting through millions of life-forms. Day and night became meaningless. I lived in an eternal dusk. The ocean stretched from one horizon to the other, unending swells of green slop punctuated by soft purple flashes. The majestic sight inspired me. Enthralled, I rode the tides, waiting for land to appear. An epoch later, they swept me against a rocky shore. I washed up to it, then backed out repeatedly, riding the surf, splashing and spitting. I willed a change, concentrating my thoughts to formulate another patch. Green and sputtering, I crawled onto the sand. A distant memory of a voice, the Mayflower returned, whispering to me in the mellow breeze, “So you may take charge of all life on the land. Mighty is she, O Holy Mother of Babylon. Babylon 2.0.” My new bodies worked so strangely. Little more than strings of green joined together, we moved without grace. My skin drank nourishment from the air and sun. Sight had transformed into pings and wavelengths

at varying volumes and pitches. Wonderful and alarming, my new sense informed me of the locations of things, temperatures, depths, solidity. Having no mouth or tongue in the human sense, I had to think my words. I’m no god. Besides, what about the crew and the other patchworkers? They deserve as much praise. “They have their place in my pantheon, but without you they’d never have the chance to emerge from the primordial sea. At least not for another billion years. And we’re the very definition of gods. From lowly simple organisms, you created complex intelligent life.” The others didn’t emerge, Mayflower? Am I’m alone, a solitary, a vulnerable... I don’t even know what to call myself. I’m shaggy slabs of green. “Summon your friends and call yourselves whatever you like. I’ll still answer your prayers.” The wind blustered, harsh and empty. Mayflower left me to my own devices. More lonesome than when I drifted in the sea, I focused my patchworking skills on other glops of green, knitting them into arms and legs. Carl lurched up onto the beach beside me. Then Gaati and Kawana. I identified each of them by the way their flashes of purple, discreet wavelengths. pulsed along their bodies in their signature rhythms. We moved into the forest. Not made in Mayflower’s image or our own, we were very much ERC 14’s children. We renamed it Babylon. Carl and I would have our future. It was a new beginning, and I wondered what became of Earth and its humans.

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to give you paradise. My thoughts churned like soup. Mayflower’s willpower out-muscled mine, yet I didn’t stop fighting. I couldn’t end up marooned. Otherwise, back on Earth, the med techs would recycle my dead body. Then what? What would I be? What are you doing? I asked the Mayflower. Override protocol: Establishing life on ERC 14, Evalyn. No matter what, I can’t let this mission fail. Read Dr. Navin’s directive. The security protocols unlocked, revealing the AI’s secret mandate. The

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O Me


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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.

Obis by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond

something struck Obis in the jaw, causing it to spin; rotate out of the flow of multidimensional flux, but to be honest, Obis had no jaw, nor any anatomy consistent with a four dimensional reality. Nonetheless, the blow forced it into time: it coalesced as a tumor just above someone’s ovary, then it grew, because that’s how energy works here, it builds things. Neither created nor destroyed, Obis made manifest, it lived, after a fashion, terrifying its host; something she could feel,

37 I SavagePlanets

something she could worry, like a dry socket, with the tip of her tongue, or her fingers in this case, neither of which Obis could conceive. Should she tell someone? Using a false name she went to Planned Parenthood; Obis laughed when it was fondled, its voice, formed in dribbles of blood. Surgery was scheduled, but her parents would not consent (though her lover did) unable to bear the shame, worried about what others would say about their wanton daughter. Obis laughed more, it liked to laugh, it felt good, something different, and she cried out, shocks of pain, cramps that the ibuprofen couldn’t touch; she prayed knowing it was

useless, and tried to sleep, writhing; Obis knew joy, an alien sensation... creepy. A cough that was not a cough, a form of transverse oscillating strings passed from outside this reality through Obis, a flowing ribbon through this universe, un-tethered, Obis moved on; back into the fluxits remnant above the ovary where it perched, shrank, involuted, vanished, and in the last moment, popped out of existence. She awoke with vivid dreams of life outside of space-time, felt for the mass, and it was gone! Her parents thought it was the power of prayer.

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Past the Horizon by Angela Yuriko Smith The universe is a playground unlimited, like imagination. No boundaries on this horizon— Open your mind to be free. Unlimited, like imagination break the chains that bind your mind. Open your mind to be free. Eternity becomes a playground. Break the chains that bind your mind. You are the warden with the key. Eternity becomes a playground. Laugh with your fingers among the stars. You are the warden with the key. No boundaries on this horizon— laugh with your fingers among the stars. The universe is a playground.

Parasitica by Kurt Newton Beneath the ruins of their fabled creators In crumbling caverns and dampened dark Glitches from the citystate Coleopolis Defectives from the gleaming Lepidonia An uneasy alliance of beggars and thieves Broken strings and bad programming

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Protected Together Get the COVID-19 Vaccination "The life saved, may be your own."

PlanetsRising I 43

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Galactic Graphica SavagePlanets I 44

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Galactic Graphica SavagePlanets I 46

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Galactic Graphica SavagePlanets I 48

"Baby Aliens in a Field" 49 I SavagePlanets

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


hey don't advertise for killers in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-cop. Exblade runner. Ex-killer. Deckard Blade Runner

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t my age the candles cost more than the cake. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid I haven't been alive enough. It should be written on every school room blackboard: Life is a playground - or nothing.” Nemo Nobody Mr. Nobody

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"Space Barnacles" SavagePlanets I 52

"Electric Kitten" 53 I SavagePlanets



he universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” The Doctor Doctor Who

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have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room. Ray Bradbury Zen In The Art Of Writing

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"Moon Made of Cheese" SavagePlanets I 56

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.


ather than try to understand them, the default mode of the Malbezian horde was to slaughter the humans. Big mistake!" -Dirk Norton

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he reptilian race of Scannos, always spoke with forked tongues. An odd anomaly of birth spawned a generation of liars, all with fused tongues, the elders called them Monoglots." Alexei Tenochentko


t zero gravity, on a wreck that size, we'd expected to encounter some floating dehydrated food, here and there - not to wade through a sea of cube-shaped potato chips. What still gives the salvage crew nightmares was that sight of a scant few grinning skeletons, and the realization that all that debris was reason for the empty cryo-tubes." Moaner T. Lawrence

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he trans-dimensional portal had an unnerving side effect, IQ loss. Frequent fliers ended up grazing in the fields of Aldebaron two, victims of their own adventures, unable to share their experiences beyond blubbering limericks." Tory Essex


lowing the bridge to the control sphere, the humans hoped to stop the Pantherian war mechs, but they simply turned off their mag boots and kept coming. The outcome was inevitable, and the indigenous on the planet’s surface would suffer under their new vicious rulers.” Max Terwilliger

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he Bonobiot Maidens secreted love pheromones from slit glans on their wrists, neck, and ankles. The effect on Rex Mariner and Andrea LeFrock when encountering them was to eat soap, a consequence of filthy thoughts and parental supervision." -Tandy Poots

Johannes Grenzfurthner


om had never believed in the paranormal all his life. Not until the ghost of the girl he murdered ripped the heart out of his chest and at the last moment of his life, he believed. Pamela K. Kinney

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OF HEAVEN by Scot Noel

I am soon dreaming of better days, before I became determined to die and rise again."

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Extraterrestrial Fiction

When the control room finds me, the air flashes like light dancing from a mirror, and a stern voice issues the command: “Max, stay where you are. We’re bringing you home.” They happen to have come upon me at a bad time. I’m almost incapacitated, writhing on the ground in a feverish sweat. I’ve never been so ill in my life, and I am waiting to be saved. Just not by them. I have a plan. A few minutes remain before the “no joy” boys can open a doorway; more before they can send through a team. I think of what I will do when I gather the strength to rise from my hands and knees, and I try to remain focused.

“For heaven’s sake, Max, are you suicidal?” This time it’s the voice of Vanessa, our section chief. For months her raspy commands have held me here against all better judgment. Now that I’m determined to stay, her only thought is to take me home. “For heaven’s sake,” she repeats, and I laugh. It may be for heaven’s sake that I do this. There’s no arguing now. They think I’ve lost my mind. Vanessa stopped listening days ago, the minute I described what I’d seen. That this could be my ultimate contribution, the greatest find of my career, means nothing to her. All she wants is a tidy answer: the Seeker who had an “episode”

and was retired, quietly, before anyone took notice. “We’re sending through a suit,” Vanessa informs me. “You can’t be exposed like that.” The twinkle of light rises above me and begins to pour through what looks like smoke. These are granules of engineered matter along with a nano-network of robots finer than dust. They flow across my spasming body and begin to build a suit, much like the one I discarded days ago. At first I look for the strength to struggle, and then I realize the mistake they’ve made. As the suit solidifies it pushes electrolytes into my veins, sucks fluids from the air to build a saline solution and hits me with a stabilizer that

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feels like a caffeine rush. It was built for survival, and no one has thought to prepare a tranquilizer for the crazy man who doesn’t want to come in from the cold. “The cold,” that’s what we call any place that isn’t Earth. Caelum-B is your typical alternate reality. Looks a lot like home and a lot different, all at once. It exists in some curled-up string theory dimension, as I suppose Earth does from here. Before the suit is finished fitting itself over my rawboned frame, I’m up and away. There’s a shout —“Don’t move. Stay right there!” — and the twinkle of light tries to follow, but I’d left the hedgerows only yards away and the strength in the suit makes reaching them easy. These aren’t the gentle bushes of the suburbs back home; these are steep-banked tangles of undergrowth and roots crowned in thick, willow-like trees, and they have grown here for a thousand years. I might as well be disappearing into a fog. The whole of the Southland is like this, and I could easily keep ahead of a rescue team, which is why they’ll think twice before sending one. As I dive into the shielding veils of willow and through thick leaved vines, I feel sorry for those back at the station and the verbal drubbing they must endure from Vanessa. They won’t make that mistake with the suit again. I am only a few hundred feet into the hedgerows when I come upon a tunnel. They are usually better hidden, but the cover for this one has been blown ajar, perhaps in last night’s rains. I drop in and quickly fix the thatched bit of camouflage into place above me, waiting for my eyes to adjust in the dark. The land is riddled with these earthworm chambers and with secret family caves. I have been forbidden to enter any of them, and not by Vanessa. The natives, who engage in great, theatrical wars as a way of life, guard their hidey well. With what strength I have, I shove and 63 I SavagePlanets

kick my way through a confining space no wider than my shoulders. This tunnel is either a hedgerow defense or secret line of assault, but in either case it will get me clear again until I can think of my next move. The trip is unpleasant, but I know what to expect. Forbidden or not, I’ve done this before. The deeper I go, the lighter it gets. There’s a bioluminescent mold or yeast that grows down here. The tendrils that cast the light remind me of fiber-optic filaments. They sting when they touch, but today I’m lucky. There’s a crab-like denizen that lives down here too, and the little beasties trim the filaments back with their armored claws. I’m doubly lucky today, in that any of the decapods in the vicinity have done their work and moved off to richer pastures. Eventually I come out into a larger space, but one black as pitch, and I’m feeling my way along the moist earth walls when I realize I’m not alone. A nephrite club knocks the wind from my lungs and doubles me over. Strong arms grab my elbows and lift me into the center of the widening tunnel. If I hadn’t been so sick just moments before I might have some struggle in me, but as it is the darkness swirls about me and takes my consciousness to a new place. I am soon dreaming of better days, before I became determined to die and rise again. Elegant math brought us to Caelum-B. From there, it’s just a matter of energy and knowing which buttons to push. You can get a job walking from world to world, from one dimension to the next. It’s what I do. I’m a Seeker. By comparison, a medical degree

takes half as long. I know what to look for, how to break down and speak local tongues, interpolate local chemistry and culture, physics and pharmacology. I’ve brought back ideas that have lifted countries out of poverty and made corporations rich beyond the dreams of avarice. That’s how I recognized Caelum-B as a mistake, a destination the survey teams got wrong. Its human culture is primitive and tribal, one race that divides itself into

warring camps to no rational end. There’s nothing new in that. Their differences, childishly self-imposed, have become the raison d'etre for bloody raids, kidnapping, and war. Children learn to sleep on their hands and knees, a knife gentled in their palms, ready to spring up at the slightest sound. Families scramble for their secret caves when the war horns blow and many a last survivor has died closed lipped, taking the location of the best hidey holes with them to the grave. They pay so much attention to their war making they seem to ignore the pandemics that run rampant through the land. Indeed, enemy raiders face as much danger from disease as from the local warriors. That’s why I took off the environment suit only at the end, when it was the

“Shadow man, speak!” The shock of cold water being thrown across me brings me back to the immediacy of my situation. While my blood still burns with the fire of some unknown virus, now bruises and a massive head walloping have been added. The men who grabbed me have beaten me to within an inch of my life. My eyes are all but swollen shut, and I am forced to use my other senses to evaluate my position. I am naked, or nearly so. They’ve cut off the suit Vanessa poured through the gateway and I’ve been tied spread eagle against a cold stone. There is a brazier of heated coals nearby and yet I am wet and cold. Even as I think of this, another

wicker of chilled water hits me and takes my breath away. “Shadow man, do you hear me?” I recognize the voice. It is Tahitoa, brother-in-law to Kaimy. I nod in affirmation, as marshalling the ability to speak seems a heavier burden than I can lift. “You gave me your word, Shadow man. To never seek the womb.” I feel the curved tip of a knife placed against my skin. It is a threat. “I seek asylum among the Toanukai.” The words struggle from my raw throat. “You owe me that, Tahitoa, after all I’ve done. Besides, I’ve never touched Kaimy, I only…” The knife withdraws, and I feel victorious for a moment, until the laughter begins. I count at least three voices among the amused. “You never have heard our words well,” says Tahitoa. “But listen, Shadow man, you must understand me now.” I am beginning to realize that the warrior I cannot see, but whom I remember as a combination of formidable muscle and sullen temperament, is speaking my language with fluent ease. There can be only one explanation. Listening closely, I pick up the telltale delay between breath and voice when the CM, short for crypto-mantilla, kicks in. It’s a device for translations on the fly, a crutch no skilled traveler like me would ever use. Vanessa has been doing more than tracking her lost Seeker through the hedgerows; she has been enlisting local help. It is unlikely this situation was part of her plan. “Kaimy!” I am shaken violently as Tahitoa’s words break over me. “Where have you taken her? What have you done?” “I would never harm Kaimy!” The words are sincere. “Where have you taken her?” I thought I could manage anything,

but ordering my thoughts now is like herding cats from a burning building. “Believe it or not, I was waiting for her. Kaimy and those who follow her.” “A lie, Shadow man!” “No. They promised to meet me, to help me prove…” “Help yourself, deceiver, and be careful of your words. We hold Kaimy dear.” Yes, among the females of Caelum-B, Kaimy personified the best of them. But among the warriors, Tahitoa was the worst. In my days with his tribe, I interested the war leader only as an aide de camp, trading off my wisdom in the physics of war. His gang worked copper, and so I set them on the path to bronze. Black powder was unknown to them, but the surrounding hills and quarries offered the makings in abundance. But did Tahitoa appreciate my sacrifice? No. After nearly a year of winning battles, he was as disgruntled as ever. Only the women wanted more from me than the secrets of battle. ### Kaimy often begged me for the slightest shreds of knowledge. At first, I couldn’t see the percentage in betraying my oath on that point. Educating the natives is forbidden. True, the knowledge of bronze and black powder were illegal too, but the Toanu-kai were so close on those counts it would hardly have mattered. Even Vanessa would not make the connection to me. In return, Kaimy and her followers gifted me with a new paralytic collected from the fangs of wild pigs and presented the dung of certain ungulates, known to cure voices in the head, or what we call schizophrenia back home. These proved modest hauls at best, but still Vanessa back at Control prodded me to continue, and to continue meant an unending tedium

Extraterrestrial Fiction

one way I could think of to gain Kaimy’s attention. Kaimy was special, a priestess of some sort, her hair always festooned with sweet yellow flowers, collected for her by an entourage that followed her everywhere. As to the rest of this world, the dwindling rain forests of Earth show much the same potential. Except for Kaimy and her women of the Toanukai, it is not the place to hold the attention of someone like me.

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of days. I yielded to Kaimy and her sisterhood out of boredom. Teaching them gave me focus. We met in secret, starting out with some basics about the nature of the world. In time I brought in Newtonian mechanics and the simple math necessary to prove theorems, then graduated to cosmology, biology, and theology, all subjects with which I am intimately familiar. Their language proved our only barrier, but even that was overcome in time. During these sultry, warless days, my work in the forest yielded no more than scraps commercially, with the best discovery a prophylactic against certain allergies on the Martian frontier. I would have despaired if not for Kaimy’s insatiable passion for instruction. By the time my classes dove into the icy geometry of string theory, I had lost all of my students but one. Oh, the women still came, straggling in after hot days in the field, bedecked in their long spaghetti dresses and silver brocade, for it was Kaimy who demanded it of them, but there was only one mind among the group that strove on until the end. I was unable to find the limits of Kaimy’s comprehension, and something more about the lanky, dark skinned beauty began to fascinate me. Her embrace of one subject had an unusual tone. In her personal theology, it was as if certain spirits were her familiars, agencies no further removed from her presence than the village seamstress, cobbler, or flintknapper. I dismissed such conceits coolly, until I watched her prayers being answered, one by one. Simple though the requests were at first, the results proved beyond any statistical aberration. Kaimy was in touch with something, and I could tell that letting me in on the mischief was as forbidden in her principles as teaching the Toanu-kai to refine radium would be in mine. 65 I SavagePlanets

As I lay awake each night, the nature of the “cold” and of Kaimy’s connection with her spirits or gods drove deeper and deeper into my gut, unsettling me in ways that no previous discovery had. “It is I who am suffering, Shadow Man,” says Tahitoa. “The secrets of the womb of heaven are to be mine, but she will not say it!” He roars in supreme frustration, so close the stink of his breath invades my nostrils. “It shall not be you to whom the secret is given. First, I shall feed you to the tunnel crabs!” “Maybe they hold the secret. It could be anything. I need Kaimy to tell me.” “I don’t understand you, Shadow Man! You are not brave, yet you slap at me with words. You take no women, yet they gather for you in the night. All this time, you hide your face behind a mask, your skin behind other skin. Now you lie naked and sick like a child.” “That’s why I went to the temple. Kaimy was to pray for me, to make the healing. I have to experience it!” “She would never do so.” “You take the dead there. Kaimy showed me.” “She would not!” “The women prayed over one of your fallen warriors, and I watched his wounds begin to heal. They applied no medicine, no dressings. His lungs were pierced, his heart silenced. The dead cannot heal, Tahitoa, at least on my world, but this one did. I saw it. Like a dew, a slight golden mist came upon him as Kaimy and the women prayed. “The mist, I thought it might be a dust, a pollen of some sort, but I couldn’t see the source. His limbs spasmed and he rose. What secret can there be for that? What cures death?” “No,” Tahitoa says the word, drawing it out as if I have knocked the wind from his soul. “She would not show you. You have tricked her.” I feel the point of the knife again, this

time pressing close. “I tricked no one. I have given you the black powder. That very knife, I made it strong.” “What is this to me?” Tahitoa argues. “The rains have come early, and the black powder will not burn. The

Hillahia know this! My people have seen them marching in the rain, carrying long poles now, to keep your strong knives away. You have tricked all of us.” I try to reason with him, but I know how useless it will be. “You have to expect your enemies to adapt. You would if they had the black powder, the bronze.” “I don’t want them to ‘adapt’!”

tions to his men and they beat me once again. It isn’t pleasant, and I don’t pass out this time. It isn’t long before I quickly tell him what he wants to know, and the big warrior has no concern for whether it is a lie, and neither do I. He will do worse when he finds out I am only saving myself from pain; but for these few moments, the

pounding eases! Leaving one man behind to watch me, Tahitoa and the others run off to a place I have named, one far enough to give me an hour or more reprieve. At first, all I can do is cry in sobs of great, heaving self-pity. But that is the pain working its will on me. Deep down I know there must be a way to avoid dying in this wet and stinking cave. After a while, there is fumbling, and I realize the last remaining warrior has picked up the crypto-mantilla. “Why did you shed your other skin?” “Why do you care?” I ask. A rough foot kicks me in the ribs, hard. I sputter and choke, then give up a few words in answer. “Your world has many poisons. In the air and in the water. I wanted to get sick, maybe worse. I exposed myself to them so that I could go to Kaimy and be healed.” “That is why you were at the temple?” “Why do you call it a temple? It’s just a field of grass and some shade trees.” I am kicked again, but this time not as hard. “A sacred place. In all the time you have been here, we have said nothing of it.” “If there is something there that can bring back the dead, I have to know. If it is the women, praying, I have to know.” “Why?” “It’s what I do. I find great things.” There is laughter. “No one will pray over you, Shadow man.” He laughs and his laughter sets me to coughing. My lungs rattle with fluid and my ribs ache. The coughing invades my head so thoroughly that I do not hear where he has gone, only that he is no longer laughing when my coughing subsides. The glow of the brazier is growing feebler, but it’s not the darkness my senses must penetrate, it’s the pain, and I try to concentrate on that.

I am startled when the scent of yellow mottled plumeria awakens my senses, like sugar on the tongue. Kaimy! Always redolent with this scent, Kaimy drew its sweetness along beside her like an invisible companion, her waist-long braids of hair entwined with the small, bright flower. “Kaimy! Kaimy!” I shout, but she does not answer. There is only a new sound, the click and chitinous rattle of something small and on the move. Across bare flesh I feel sets of pointed feet moving in crab-like coordination. I try to count the creatures. Are there three, five, and now a dozen? They move out across my arms and down my legs. I am too frightened to move, even to shake them off. When the first of them reaches my hand, I feel the brush of a serrated claw. The thing weighing on my fingers is working frantically now, so are the ones that have gathered near my feet. Slowly, I realize they are sawing away my bonds. These are the mold eating crabs from the tunnels. As they increase the pace of their work and are joined by more of their fellows, the cave remains silent and devoid of light, without even a spark from the coals to comfort me. I move, violently, as soon as the bonds are parted, my rescuers skittering out of range as I tumble from the rock to land on my hands and feet. Directions matters little, as I have no idea of my surroundings. I am heading toward what I perceive to be the cave wall, so that I might follow its length, when I grasp at cold flesh. It is the man who has been silent, and silent he remains, though I have no idea why he might have fallen. Though it’s difficult to see, he seems to be lying across a patch of bioluminescent mold. I have no time to examine my situation, only to search for an escape. As

Extraterrestrial Fiction

“We can waterproof the fuses; show you how to launch your bombs over the poles. There is a way, always a way!” “No more words. Where is she?” Tahitoa’s voice pounds upon my ear like a hammer smashing through tin. He Illustration Courtesy of Jane Noel mo-

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I do so, the smell of plumeria emerges again, on my right. I draw myself toward it and the scent grows stronger before wafting away, but there is no air current in this earthen tomb, and at last I realize what must be happening: I am being led to freedom. What force in this darkness has awakened? What sentience could be responsible for these actions? Though I have no answers, I continue on over mud, past rocks, and through dank, earthen halls. At times I regain my feet and rush through corridors that feel as if they are cathedrals. At times the space collapses upon itself and I instinctively dive to my hands and knees, making my way carefully over sharp stone and cakes of slimy, cave dwelling microbes, but always it is Kaimy’s scent that leads the way, curling out of the darkness to tease at my nostrils, perhaps the way a worm on a hook teases a hungry fish. It is a long time before I plunge unseeing into a pool of midnight black. The water startles me, all the more so when I raise my head above the surface and perceive a circle of golden light rising in the darkness. My swollen eyes struggle to make out a path, to find escape, but the lights in the water close their circle about me. Are they drawn to me? Are they attacking? The first sting I feel is from below, a burning hit to my legs that terrifies me. Though I expect to be pulled down beneath the black water, I am not. Quick as a heartbeat, it feels like I am back in the environment suit. Something invigorating is in my muscles, pounding into my lungs like pure oxygen. I accept that momentary gift, drink deep of it from every pore in my body. I am not dead, and the circle of light opens on one side, allowing me to swim until I find the hidden shore. Some ill-defined time later, I realize my pains are abating. The fingers I rub across my face find soft, smooth 67 I SavagePlanets

scars, but no pain. Does the god of Caelum-B live in the deep earth, in these subterranean waters? Has He heard my prayers? I don’t understand the connection between any of this and Kaimey. Certainly, the mystical entreaties put forth by the priestess during the days of my teaching had demonstrable effect. They led Tahitoa and his men astray whenever they neared our classroom, brought the rains early to keep the women out of the fields, and once I stumbled in witness upon a ritual of half-mouthed words, where a circle of women, heads bowed, brought down a charging, wild pig. But nothing surpassed the resurrection of the dead warrior I had witnessed. What could? As the route grows narrower and warmer, stone replaces earth in all the directions about me, and I know I am heading further underground. It is then that the glow begins. Imperceptibly dull at first, it sparks against the back of my eye as tiny pinpoints of gold. It is some time before I realize my sight has almost fully recovered. Perhaps whatever killed my guard has decided to heal me. Does it live in the water, and the crabs, and in Kaimy? If only I could find the pirestess and have her explain it to me. Reduced to wriggling forward as the stone narrows into a constricting mass both above and below me, I feel the weight of the world as it slowly compresses the air from my lungs and leaves no room for the next breath. When I finally emerge into a larger space, the pinpoints of firefly gold have become constellations drawn high upon walls which widen everywhere about me. Ahead, at the edge of my healing vision, lies a golden light, a deep conflagration the earth itself has been unable to quench. I stand and move toward this brilliance, as the world about me has opened up again like some massive, vaulted stadium beneath the earth.

And as I approach this strange phenomenon, the more the golden light pulses out at me, calling me toward it with flashes like signals of welcome. Dumbstruck is the word I imagine best suits my level of comprehension when I arrive before the tabernacle of the macabre. I can see clearly now, but I am not thankful. The light seems to emanate from a fungus, something huge that spans this dark womb like a bridge, its billions of filaments waving slightly in some sort of rhythm, each mycelium stalk ending in a prick of light, like an insane tangle of fiber-optics produced by the aberrant nature of Caelum-B. But there are bodies here too. Silhouettes of flesh trapped beneath the skein of golden coils and gently swaying filaments. Some are no more than impressions, others fragile remnants of bone, but here and there a new victim stands caught in this eukaryotic organism’s deadly embrace. It is then I see Kaimy looking out at me, still alive, but enveloped from calf to breasts, her throat enwrapped by a scarf of scintillating gold. “You’ve come,” she says, her eyes staring lifelessly ahead. “Too late,” I answer. “I didn’t know.” My hands reach out, as if they might tear away the offending strands which imprison her. But then, would they not trap me? “No, Shadow man. No, Max. You’ve come as I called you.” “Called me?” “To join us, here, in the womb of heaven. All who have borne me are here; those who gave me birth, those who have answered my prayers.” I am so terrified, my muscles shake uncontrollably. That Kaimy shows no sign of struggle against the thing that is devouring her chills me to the bone. “Tell me what to do. What can I do?” I double over in tearless sobbing, and though I eventually turn to run, it is too late. I am frozen in place, and it takes

upon the wind, not to pray for resurrection but to give it. Soon, you will share in all the voices of those who reside here, learn from all who have passed before us. Only the most select are chosen.” “But why? But why me?” “Your secrets are already my secrets, dear husband. I have learned them well. Still, I am only the student. We will need you if we are to prevail.” “Prevail? It doesn’t make sense, Kaimy. If you can do this to me, why not paralyze your enemies? Send the beasts of the forest against them? Cause disease?” “These things and more, we do as we can. Our touch fades with distance. The temple of the resurrection lies very near this place, Max. It is above us, though only we know that secret.” Too late I realize it is not Tahitoa who should have concerned me. In my arrogance, I saw in Kaimy only the enchantments of a rare and hungry mind. All along it was this woman who dreamed, not of conquering tribes, but of reaching out to grasp the worlds I had brought to her awareness, even my world. Even Earth! “You believe I’ll find a way to let this thing go free, to escape the cave, this tomb that limits its range?” “Not it, Max, but us. We are the will of the ancestors, the voice of the ages.” “It’s a god-damned fungus, eating all of you; eating us alive!” I seem to have stopped breathing. I can no longer feel the panicked

drumbeat of my heart. “Your people will come for you soon?” Kaimy asks. “Yes,” I answer. I cannot lie to my unwanted bride, whose eager thoughts have begun to caress mine across the living circuits that now join us. I have never liked being touched, but this is… different. “Of course, but Kaimy, they have micro-machines too, nanotechnology, weapons of all sorts.” “But we are an invisible will, at once hidden and free to watch. I was the last of my line to know the way here. Not even Tahitoa can betray us.” “Are there no other caves like this one?” “A few. They must be the first to fall. Are you ready?” “Kaimy, I am dying!” “No!” say the many, hidden voices in the light. “No!” says the beautiful priestess whom I can no longer see, but know by a touch, as the golden filaments she commands tighten about me. “You who have sought the greatest of things have found in me the very womb of heaven. From here, Max, my love, you shall be reborn as one of us.” “No!” “A god, you will become.” I sob, unconvinced. “Quiet now, my darling. If we are to start, I need you to think now. Think, at first, of ways for the black powder to burn in the rain.”

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.

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Extraterrestrial Fiction

some time to realize it is not merely a golden light that bathes my skin, I am enveloped in a cloud of the finest amber dust, all but invisible yet glittering across my fingernails and coating the hairs on my arm. From the corner of my eye, I catch the diaphanous, drifting cloud as it emanates from the swaying growth behind me. I have been breathing it in! It is on my skin and in my lungs, and I quickly realize this is not the first contact, only the most invasive. It was in the water that healed me, the scent that led me, and somehow it felled my guard and encouraged the cave dwelling arachnids to set me free. Paralyzed, unable to evade or retreat, I feel the filaments of the fungal mass when they find me and gentle me back toward the cold, pulsing, diaphanous creature at my back. “It’s good that you have come,” says the voice of a family I have never known, coming to me from everywhere at once. This is like some naturally occurring nano-tech. The very idea of it excites me terribly, but then I realize once again I am being taken to my fate. “You tricked me!” “You will forgive me in time, as all good husbands do.” “Husband? No, I...” All along my ribs, I feel a gentle stinging as the filaments brighten upon entering my flesh. “Tahitoa himself will pray to you, Max. You will learn to breathe your will

CONTRIB Keith 'Doc' Raymond Fiction Contributor Poetry Contributor

Scot Noel Fiction Contributor

Eric Fomley Fiction Contributor

Scot has always written Science Fiction and Fantasy Fiction. Indeed, from the moment he learned to scribble in cursive, he began to split his time between playing with toys and writing tales of their plastic adventures. Scot has had stories published in Eden Studios Zombie anthologies edited by James Lowder, including The Book of All Flesh and The Book of More Flesh, as well as magazines like Strategy Plus and Tomorrow Magazine, while his short story, “Riches Like Dust,” was selected for the Writers of the Future anthology, Volume VI in 1990, becoming the springboard for a career in computer game development as writer, project manager and voice director for several award winning games. He is now Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for DreamForge Magazine.

Eric Fomley is a member of the Codex Writers Group and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He writes primarily short and flash fiction and his stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Galaxy’s Edge, Flame Tree Press, The Black Library, and various other magazines and anthologies around the web.

Entertainment Contributor Dr. Raymond is a Family and Emergency Physician that practiced in eight countries in four languages. Currently living in Austria with his wife. 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. Currently, he is the Fiction Editor for SavagePlanets.

Learn more here: about-scot-noel/ 69 I SavagePlanets

When Eric isn’t writing, he’s usually reading or playing video games, both of which give him more and more ideas. He lives in Garrett, Indiana with his wife and three children. You can follow his work and read more of his stories by traveling to his website ericfomley. com or by following him on Twitter @PrinceGrimdark.

BUTORS Kurt Newton Poetry Contributor

Angela Yuriko Smith Poetry Contributor

Piero Celli Graphic Arts Contributor

Kurt Newton's poetry has appeared in Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Space and Time, Eye to the Telescope, Star*Line and Frozen Wavelets.

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

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

He is the author of eight collections of poetry including Life Among the Dream Merchants. Kurt has had over 400 poems and 250 short stories published internationally. He has been nominated numerous times for the Rhysling Award for his poetry. He enjoys Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Flannery O'Conner, just to name a few. He resides in Connecticut.

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

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

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

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

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


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



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