SavagePlanets, July 2022

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SavagePlanets Savage Planets Where Dreams & Nightmares Collide

In This Issue... Michael Fowler Anthony D Redden Cass Richards Jamal Hodge Avram Lavinsky Timothy D. Minneci An exclusive interview & story by:

Allen Steele

J U LY 2 0 2 2 Vo l u m e 2 / I s s u e 3




Editor in Chief

Signals from the Stellar Core


Come Together


Congressional Hearing


Planetary Communiqué


Sci-Fi Entertainment


A Handful of Dust




Poems from Imaginaria


Future Artifacts




Moon Raiders




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Steven S. Behram

Fiction Editor

Keith 'Doc' Raymond

Poetry Editor Steven S. Behram

Art Editor

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







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from the

Stellar Core

By Steven S Behram, MD Editor-In-Chief

Life in the universe can be summarized as a series of predictable patterns leading to predictable behaviors, but, sometimes, leading to very unpredictable outcomes. This episode of SavagePlanets focuses on this universal truth to remind us that sometimes, things do not end the way we think they should.

Celestial Bodies Our growing group of contributors never cease to amaze us. We are grateful to all of them, both published and unpublished, for their tantalizing tales and awesome speculative stories. Interstellar Expanse Our poetry collection for this month begins by exploring the unfathomable price paid to explore new realms. We explore the need for the emergence of consciousness. On the topic of body parts, we are shocked to learn the value of a human brain. And, finally, we opine on the very meaning of our own existence.

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Cosmic Moonlets Our Overlord Grawth is at it again, ridiculing our system of governance in comparison to his authoritarian iron fist. Our extraordinary Extraterrestrial Fiction is still out of this world. See how an inside joke by a Beatles fan almost spelled doom for an entire expedition in “Come Together.” In “Congressional Hearing” you will discover the true relationship between body and soul and the political upheaval created by this discovery. We visit a world of constant disintegration and rejuvenation in “A Handful of Dust.” We blur the lines between man and machine in “Chaperone.” And,

finally, we follow the explorations of a brave young woman in “Moon Raiders.” Our Sci-Fi Entertainment section begins with a spectacular interview with the prolific author Allen Steele. We review the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once. And, finally, we explore the history and legacy of The Man Who Fell to Earth. We implored our artificially sentient Art Editor, BoB, to produce more mind boggling art for Future Artifacts. Our fan-supported section Subspace sports a number of very clever, but very short, two sentence science fiction stories. Our thanks to all who contributed. Our gratitude to all those who have promoted us.

Nucleosynthesis We continue to seek original stories and poems with a strong science fiction foundation for consideration in our upcoming issues. Our goal is to be a vehicle for the propagation and elevation of the quality of the genre for years to come. It is to bring like-minded people together, to welcome both new and old artists, and raise the bar for future generations devoted to science fiction. We can choose to live in peace and harmony, or we can choose to live in terror and dread. At SavagePlanets, we are absolutely ok with both options. We appreciate your support and contributions. Visit us at Together, let’s light this candle!

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COME TOGETHER by Allen Steele

The warning signs had been there all along; it was just that no one correctly understood their meaning. For the last couple of weeks, Paul and John had been bickering with each other, their animosity on display in a stream of messages that contained references that made little sense to controllers back on Earth: Apple Records, Yoko, Abbey Road studios, George Martin, something called Badfinger." In the investigation that followed, it was determined they might have avoided the entire affair if the mission planners had been a bit less clever in programming Bai Juyi’s AI network. And if they couldn’t have refrained from being clever — after all, people like them possessed both imagination and wit — then the least they could’ve done was not name those four intelligences after the members of their favorite music ensemble of the last century. But the damage was done and there wasn’t anything Bai Juyi’s controllers could do about it. And when it came right down to it, no one could blame them for what happened. If anyone were to blame, it was the AIs themselves: John, 05 I SavagePlanets

Paul, George, and Ringo. Bai Juyi was the third interstellar probe designed and built by the International Space Coalition. Constructed in Earth orbit from components launched from the U.S., China, and French New Guinea, the unmanned vehicle measured 750 meters and had a dry mass of 2,200 tons; its three elongated radiator fins gave it a close resemblance to an immense dart, with dish antennae and sensor whiskers sprouting from the payload cylinder just aft of its tapering bow. At the center of its mass, between the fins, lay the deuterium fuel tanks and reactor chamber of the z-pinch fusion drive, designed and built by a Chinese-American

space conglomerate under ISC contract. They christened Bai Juyi after the governor of Hangzhou, China, a poet-politician of the eighth century A.D. remembered for constructing the original earthwork causeway across nearby West Lake. The probe’s mission was to reach Alpha Centauri and survey its planetary system; if the science AI confirmed the existence of a human-habitable world, the probe would brake, go into orbit around the target planet, and study it for as long as possible (hopefully several years), transmitting reports to China’s Lunar Farside Communications System (LFCS) on the Moon.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Bai Juyi was larger and more sophisticated than all the two ISC probes preceding it: Benjamin Franklin and Gustave Eiffel. But the Franklin was a microwave-driven space sail probe designed for flyby missions, and thus had only gathered and sent a limited amount of data in the few precious hours it spent passing through Alpha Centauri’s planetary system. The Eiffel was another flyby probe, this one Icarus-class and using a fusion drive instead of a sail; Mission Control 1 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore inexplicably lost touch with Eiffel shortly after it entered the system, and Mission Control 2 in China’s Guizhou province could not restore contact. Yet both missions successfully

confirmed the existence of a rocky planet approximately 1.5 Earth mass and orbiting the G-class star at the outer edge of its habitable zone. Furthermore, Alpha Centauri-D appeared to possess an oxygen-nitrogen rich atmosphere with traces of carbon dioxide, organic methane, and water vapor; digital photo imagery beamed back by the Franklin revealed hazy, but nonetheless tantalizing, pictures of a blue-green world streaked with pale gray cloud formations. The public ignored several suggested names for the planet submitted formally to the International Astronomical Union. Instead, they christened it New Earth. In the end,

that was the name which stuck, for it reflected humanity’s hopes that it was a world their children or grandchildren might eventually immigrate to and call home. So Bai Juyi’s mission was to discover whether their object of desire was indeed the sort of human-habitable planet everyone hoped it would be. If so, then people could start talking about building interstellar arks. Because of its size and complexity, the engineers decided early on that Bai Juyi should have not one AI but four. Each one was a DNA-based 1.5 teraflop quantum computer, capable of functioning independently or in conjunction with the others. Because the probe would eventually be so distant from Earth that SavagePlanets I 06

prompt replies to messages sent from Mission Control 1 and 2 would be impossible, the four AIs made autonomous decisions on their own.

they could do what a human could not, make critical, complex decisions within a fraction of a second. This made the AIs — a row of four super-cooled cylinders, each resembling an old-style scuba tank When necessary, they could work in bristling with whisker-like cables concert, combining their judgment — more efficient than a human about what to do next. And indeed, crew, which had long and tiresome

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meetings which ended in pointless arguments, hurt feelings, and unwarranted delusions of superiority. The AIs would be better at running the mission than humans were. No question about it. And then some genius named them

It began as a kind of gag when someone in the cybernetics development team with a taste for classical music noticed that the prefixes of AIs’ serial numbers, by odd coincidence, corresponded with the initials of the Beatles’ names. And because it was much easier for the team to remember names instead of numbers, they attached the Beatles’ names to the AIs. Thus, Command & Control JL-9061 became John, Science Payload & Communications PM-5831 became Paul, George was the new identifier for Logistics & Self-Repair GH2224, and Ringo was Main Engine & Reaction Control RS-1089. Since they also programmed the AIs to recognize and respond to verbal input, the cybernetics team figured it would be just awesome if John, Paul, George, and Ringo sounded like the Fab Four. So they researched the voices and speaking patterns of the lads from Liverpool and used historical interviews to replicate their voices and manner in which they spoke. They even had the AIs drop sly allusions to the 1960s and 70s in their verbal responses to queries from mission controllers. So if a controller, for instance, were to ask JL-9061 for a lowdown on the ship’s general status, John would not only transmit a technical report but also say something like, “Right as rain, guvnor… and by the way, how’s the weather in ol’ London Town today?” They launched Bai Juyi from Earth orbit on February 9, 2064. By happenstance, the date corresponded with the hundredth anniversary of the Beatles’ first American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan

Show. It took several months for the fusion primary engine to achieve cruise speed, but by the time Bai Juyi reached Saturn’s orbit, the probe was traveling at 0.14c, fourteen percent of light-speed. This was a milestone. Champagne corks popped in America and China, and a few hours later, John, Paul, George, and Ringo marked the occasion by serenading the mission controllers with a lovely a’cappella rendition of “Across the Universe.” No one took much notice of the fact that they hadn’t specifically asked the AIs to do this, but as days became weeks and weeks became months, this small and seemingly insignificant thing gradually gained importance as the first indication that something strange was occurring aboard the Bai Juyi. The probe continued its path through the outermost reaches of the Solar System, passing Neptune and entering the Kuiper Belt without incident. At Mission Control 1 and 2, American and Chinese controllers settled into a daily routine. They figured it would be uneventful and even boring at times. But just as mission researchers were getting ready for a bit of excitement (a survey of the minor planets of the belt), the men and women who staffed the control centers noticed something unusual in the verbal messages they were receiving from Bai Juyi: the AIs were getting a bit… testy. Sure, they still sounded like the Beatles; John talked like John, George talked like George, and so on. And yet, slowly and by degree, they no longer spoke like the four mop-tops from England who’d charmed the world. Their responses to routine questions sometimes

had an edge to it, such as when a controller asked Paul to confirm whether the X-ray array was oriented in the correct direction to study the target system, and Paul replied, “Well, of course ‘tis, luv… do you think I’m daft?” And when someone queried Ringo whether the primary engine was still running normally, Ringo said, in a sarcastic tone of voice, “No, the engine’s not running anywhere. It’s right here in front of me, safe n sound.” At first, the controllers thought the irreverent nature of these responses was funny, even clever. But the cyberneticists who’d designed the AIs worried. Among themselves, they had teleconference meetings and traded email about what all this might mean.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

after the Beatles.

The probe’s four AIs were gaining sentience, that much was certain. This was something that happened before with other advanced AIs, and while it wasn’t necessarily bad — the metropolitan AI that took control of Los Angeles during the big quake of 2040 was widely credited with saving the city — it wasn’t always a good thing either. Particularly not if the probe’s AIs believed they were smarter than the humans who’d built them. And while no AI had ever turned on humans to such a degree that they placed lives in danger — all those science fiction stories of the last century about runaway AIs committing murder or even genocide were little more than paranoid fantasies — it was possible that the mission might be put in jeopardy if John, Paul, and Ringo continued to act up. Only George exhibited no rebellious SavagePlanets I 08

John behavior. When he was alive, George Harrison had often been called “the quiet Beatle,” and so they hoped that AI George would emulate human George and continue operating Bai Juyi’s logistical systems in a soft-spoken yet dependable manner.


On the other hand, John was clearly acting out. His responses, when they came at all, were

increasingly temperamental. Sometimes he’d tell controllers what they needed to hear about the state of the ship’s primary systems, an intricate network as complex as the human nervous system and just as vital, and sometimes he’d be uncooperative, forcing controllers to rephrase their queries or guess at the true meaning of the answers he gave. Complicating matters was another problem that was even more unexpected: John and Paul were no longer fully cooperating with each other. No one knew why, but on those occasions when a question posed to John required data from Paul, Paul would not tell John all that he needed to know. Or vice versa. And while George continued to fully cooperate with controllers, he would not always pass information on to John and Paul. And for reasons no one could understand, George seemed to be more willing to work with Mission Control 2 than Mission Control 1, as if he preferred the Chinese controllers to the Americans. The only AI who didn’t cause any major problems was Ringo. Other than the occasional sarcasm, Ringo performed his tasks without fail. For which everyone was grateful, especially since that particular AI handled Bai Juyi’s engines. Ringo was helpful, all right… just reluctant to give anyone a straight answer. Yet extreme distance,

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coupled with 0.14c velocity, meant that the communications delay between Earth and Bai Juyi was getting longer with every passing minute. Although it took the AIs less than a second to formulate their responses, by the time the probe reached Alpha Centauri it would take about four and a half years for the control teams to send a message to Bai Juyi, and another four and a half years to receive a response. Already the gap was just a little less than fifteen hours. So there wasn’t much anyone could do when John suddenly announced that he was leaving the Beatles. The warning signs had been there all along; it was just that no one correctly understood their meaning. For the last couple of weeks, Paul and John had been bickering with each other, their animosity on display in a stream of messages that contained references that made little sense to controllers back on Earth: Apple Records, Yoko, Abbey Road studios, George Martin, something called Badfinger. But it wasn’t until a music historian was called in to examine the transcripts that the cybernetics team discovered what was going on. The AIs they’d named after the Beatles ultimately decided that they really were the Beatles, and they were on their way to the greatest band-breakup in history. Upon learning this, American and Chinese controllers scrambled to correct the problem. Obviously, the solution lay in persuading the probe’s AIs that they weren’t whom they thought they were. This was harder than one might expect, though, because John, convinced that he was John Lennon, just as George, Paul, and Ringo firmly believed that they were their namesakes. As one of the Beatles’

The Bai Juyi had just reached Sedna’s orbit when Mission Control 1 received a last message. This time, it came from Paul: an official announcement that the Beatles were breaking up, its four members each going their own way. Then… silence. Like that, the Bai Juyi went dark. Mission Control 1 tried transmitting a wake-up signal to the probe, and once Earth’s rotation carried Baltimore over the radio horizon, Mission Control 2 picked up where they left off. Nothing worked. It was as if the probe itself had ceased to exist, leaving the American and Chinese controllers unable to do


After several more weeks of trying to re-establish contact with Bai Juyi, it forced them to admit that the mission was a failure. The following morning, they simultaneously held a joint press conference in Baltimore and Guizhou, where the American and Chinese mission chiefs publicly admitted what had already been leaked to social media. The Q&A session that followed was humiliating, and although they stated that another interstellar probe was already in the planning stages, everyone knew a snowball stood a better chance in Hell than ISC had for receiving further funding for another Alpha Centauri probe. In the months that followed, the ISC turned to other projects, this time focusing on targets closer to Earth where a major failure would be more avoidable if not less catastrophic. Although the Mission Control centers in America and China were repurposed for new jobs, the controllers — many of whom had been involved with failed mission — would now and then tune in on the VHF frequency reserved for the Bai Juyi, on the off-chance that the probe might attempt to re-establish contact with Earth. And then one day, from deep space just beyond the Kuiper Belt, there came a voice. It was John, with the announcement everyone had been waiting for: the Beatles

were getting back together again. John, Paul, George, and Ringo had settled their differences, and soon they would return to the studio to begin work on a new album. Naturally enough, its title would be Come Together. Oh, and by the way, just in case anyone was interested… yes, they were still on course for Alpha Centauri.


Over the course of the next several weeks, the controllers tried one strategy after another. Psychologists, philosophers, logicians, and cyberneticists of all kinds were employed in an ever-more-desperate effort to break the AIs out of their solipsistic fugue. It soon became clear, though, that nothing short of completely shutting down the AI network would solve the problem. And even so, a major command like that would have to be enacted by the Command & Control AI. So far as John was concerned, the fans who continued to pester him were just a minor nuisance, and he was under no obligation to pay attention to anything they said.

anything except pound their desks, tear their hair, and scream in frustration.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

songs memorably put it, nothing is real… but if all your senses tell you it is, then persuading you otherwise is an impossible task. So far as Bai Juyi’s AIs were concerned, the Mission Control teams were nothing more than some obnoxious fans who were trying to play mind games with them.

SavagePlanets I 10


I believe God entrusted us with free will. Is it so hard to believe he granted the same to the PCS? We are them; they are us. My scientific mind and my religious beliefs do not contradict. The two are inseparable. "

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Extraterrestrial Fiction

[Senate Hearing, 224 Congress]

MARCH 28, 2125 Serial No. 224-06


WITNESSES DR.NADIASALADI,Director,WorldReproductiveFoundation


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Thecommittee,pursuantto Representatives,hasapproved contributoroftheseventeen thenotice,at12:0p.m.,via fundingfortheprogram’sfiscal founding nations. Holoimage, Hon. Thomas year 2126. We look forward to P.Hopson,Chairmanofthe completingworkonsaidbillWhile in theirworkhashelpedto Committee,presiding. thecomingweeks,asweare revitalizetheworldpopulation wellintothenewfiscalyear.We fromthenearcataclysmic - de Present:SenatorsDanberg,recognizetheWRFhasmadea clinesufferedduringtheZikant Phan, Willis, Alvarosa, Balku, requestforadditional-appropria pandemic,whichravagedthe and Brown. tionsandunderstandthe impor globe from 2085 to 2098, the tanceofenactingthisrequest. Housedebateraisedsignificant OPENING STATEMENT OF pointsofcontentionthatthis SENATOR THOMAS P. However, as debated in the bodydeemsworthyofcontinued HOPSON, CHAIRMAN House, and also in the Senate, inquiry,despitetheirapproval. wediscoveredviaaseriesofIt is the duty of this body to fully Good morning everyone. I want databasebreachesreleased investigate to andcollect allnec tocallthishearingtoorder. thepublicthatthisbodydoes essary information to ensure the Today,wearereceivingan-up notendorsebutcannotignore; taxdollarsofAmericancitizens dateontheWorldReproductive theWRFappearstobeoperat areappropriatelyandaccurately FoundationfromDoctorNadiaing in a manner that suggests a spentbytheWRFperourfinan Saladi.SheistheDirectorofpossible the misallocation - offund cialreportingrequirements. WorldReproductiveFoundation ing,orworse,ethicalandmoral (WRF), joining us via holo-imagmalfeasanceborderingonthe With that, Dr. Saladi, thank you ingfromherofficeinMumbai, criminal.TheUnitedStates for projoiningus.Iandthecommit India. videsapproximatelythirty-three tee look forward to your testimopercentoftheWRF’syearly ny.Youmaybeginyouropening The other body, the House of operatingbudget,thelargest statement.

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aphilosophical,medical,andsoul,andwheredoesitcome ethicalquestionthathasfrom? beenAs remarkable as this atthecenterofcontroversy may for sound, that answer is not thousands of years. Is it at the onlywithinourgraspnow,but momentofconception,whenthe alsopossibletoanswerand spermpenetratestheoocyte, reconcile. as MUMBAI, INDIA certainreligiousscholarshave argued? Is it the moment a fetus Life, as we understand it, Thankyou,ChairHopson,mem- hasdevelopedlungcapacitybegins and at birth. But a soul, our bers of the Senate Committee. breathesonitsown?Inprevious consciousness,predatesthe I’mhonoredtojoinyoutoday. centuries,theybelievedthat moment theofconception.Wecan While I am here today as a timeofquickening,whenababyquantifydefinitivelythatasoulis representativeoftheWorld firstkicked,establishedproof atangible of construct - thatad ReproductiveFoundation, life. Or is it at birth? There is still herestoandalsochallengesour pleasenotethattheworkdone noconsistentuniversalidea knowledge of regardingthebasic encompassestensofthou whenperson-hoodbegins. lawsoftheuniverse,suchas sandsofhoursbyanincredibly thermodynamics. dedicatedstaffofprofessionals Theconceptofperson-hood around the world. As is often the itself is hard to determine, but In short, we have reverse engicasewithmedicalandtechno for the sake of argument, we neeredbackfromthemomentof logicalbreakthroughs,ourinitial stipulateitoccurswhenwhat conceptiontowhenandhowa drivecansometimesleadtowecallandunderstandas soulemergesintoexistenceand unexpectedoutcomes. consciousnessbegins.While communicateswithitsvesselin cellularfunctionmaybeginat thispre-fertilizationstate.Itis Ithinkitisimportant - torecog thesperm-eggfusion,theestab withinourgrasptocoordinate nizethecharterofour-organi lishmentofconsciousnessis with not what we have designated zation,whichwasfoundedby asclear.Forthishearing,Iwill asthePCS,orpre-conception seventeen allied nations folusethemoresimplifiedtermof souls,tohelpassistintheirfeta lowingthesterilizationplagues the soul. placement.Thereisa-say youreferencedwhichoccurred ingthatyoucanchooseyour attheendofthetwenty-first Wenolongersubscribeto friends,butyoucan’tchoose century.Fornearlythirtyyears, theideaputforthbyRené your family. In reality, that is no we have worked to better unDescartesthatonlyhumanslonger true. Thank you, and I derstandthecomplexorigins haveconsciousness.Birds look forward to your questions. of human life as they relate to exhibitREMsleep.Elephants fertilityandreproduction. recognizethemselves-inmirCHAIRMAN HOPSON. Thank rors.Greyparrots,dolphins, you, Dr. Saladi. We will now But the WRF is not just about andchimpanzeesexhibitlevels beginaroundoffive-minute making sure babies are born. ofcognitiveabilityonparwith questions for the witness. I ask Iftheplaguetaughtus - any toddlers.Lawsinthetwenty-all first mycolleagues,pleasekeep thing,itwasthefactthatthere centuryregardinganimalrights trackofyourtime.Staywithin wasafragilebalancebetween evolvedsignificantlythanks those to fiveminutes.Wehave existenceandextinction.With thesediscoveries. manymembersinattendance aglobalpopulationtrending up today. Senator Danberg? wards again, we have the time Onparwiththequestionsof andresourcestodedicateour thecosmologicaloriginofthe SENATOR DANBERG. Chair, organizationtomorecomplexuniverse,andwhathappens thank you. Thank you to Dr. andtheoreticalpursuits.when we die, one of the greatest Saladi.I’mpleasedwearehear questionsscientists,religious ing your testimony today and When does life begin? That is leaders,andphilosophershave thank you for the extraordinary wrestled with is — what is a

Extraterrestrial Fiction


PlanetsRising I 14

work the WRF has done. Wasitatthemomentofconcep - yousayingyourecordedpeople However, there are some very tion?Theso-calledquickening? having sex? serious issues that need to be Lungdevelopment?Physical addressed.AndIbelieveIspeak birth? When? DR.SALADI.That’scorrect. not only for myself but for my colleagueswhenIsaywhatyouSENATOR DANBERG. And SENATOR DANBERG. And you aredescribingisquite-fantasti whatdidyouandyourcol receivedgovernmentfundingto cal,evenforuswithveryactive leaguesdiscover,Dr.Saladi? paypeopletohavesexforyour imaginations.Tostart,canyou experiment?Thisishowour explaintheprocessyouusedDR. to SALADI.Wediscoveredthe Americantaxdollarsarebeing contactthepre-conenergyweascribetothesoul appropriated? existedbeforeconception. DR.SALADI.Pre-conception DR. SALADI. No. They were souls. The PCS. SENATOR DANBERG. Say unpaidvolunteers. again,doctor? SENATOR DANBERG. Yes, the SENATOR DANBERG. Okay. PCS.Canyouexplainthatto DR. SALADI. The energy exists It’sunorthodox,butus? beforethemomentofcon ceptionbyanamountoftime DR. SALADI. For our study, DR. SALADI. Yes, I would be so small it requires quantum intercoursewasrequiredto happyto.Iwantthecommitteemechanicstodeterminethe identifythemomentofconcep members to think about their measurement. tion. We studied all alternative bodyastwoseparateideas. methodsoffertilizationaswell. There is the tangible – your SENATOR DANBERG. For the bones,yourmuscles,blood. sakeofsimplicity,canwerefer SENATOR DANBERG. I underEverythingthatmakesupyour tothisamountoftimeasasplit stand.Fine.Let’smoveon.You physicalbeing.That’seasyforsecond? talkedaboutthissplitsecond. ustocomprehend.Thenthereis I’mnotadoctororascientist. theintangible,whichisslightly DR.SALADI.Ofcourse.Inthis Canyouexplainwhathappened moredifficulttowrapourheads splitsecond,timereverses. and what it means? around. The intangible, for exThisisnotanewconcept.Time ample,istheelectriccurrent reversal in hasbeenatheoretical DR.SALADI.Ofcourse.I’lluse ourneurologicalsystem.Wecan aspectofparticlephysicsfor an analogy. Imagine a train travonlyseeitseffectonthebrain some intime.Wehadnotactually eling through a tunnel at night, PETscans.Butthereisalsoan observedthisphenomenonuntil and you are standing outside the electricalfield.Somemightrefer we began our work. And to say tunnel.Youcanhearthetrain, toitunscientificallyasanaura. that we witnessed it would be butyoucannotseeit.Youmight incorrect. seethelightitprojects,butnot Thiselectricalfieldis,likeour the train itself. Until it exits the brainimpulses,composedof - enWerecordedthemomentof tunnel, two elements–sound ergy. Our bodies are matter. We conceptionsimultaneously and onlight–are audible and visible canconvertenergyandmatter avarietyofequipmentmeasur outside the tunnel to you as the from one to the other. There is a ingallaspectsoftheenergyobserver, even if the train itself deepwellofresearchbyphys and matter involved so that the isnot.We’llrefertotheseas icistsregardinghumanenergy Oak Ridge National Laboratory energy, and the train as matter. andelectricalfields,andthe inKnoxville,Tennessee,could Theenergyprecedesthematter, WRFtappedintothattostudy reviewandanalyzetheresults. eventhoughthesourceofthe themomentofconception.We matter and energy are one and wanted to understand when that SENATOR DANBERG. Hold on. the same. With our study, it is, energybecamemeasurable. Themomentofconception.Areaswesay,onlyasplitsecond.

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Extraterrestrial Fiction

Thisnextaspectofthis-discov afixedspeed;itisnotinstanta muon.Somuchso,inthesplit ery is based on thermodynamneous. What we are seeing is secondoftimethatoccursjust ics,whichImentionedearlier. boththepresentandthepast prior attofertilization,timeslowst Now,abasiclawofphysics thesametime.Thatisimportant thepointofreversal.Atfirst,this isthatenergycanneitherbe to understand regarding time seemed like an error. While time creatednordestroyed,itcan and relativity in relation to the dilationexplainstheslowing onlychangestate.Thegreat conceptoftimedilation. of time for a fast-moving obmysteryofourexistenceis: jectversusastationaryobject, whathappenswhenwedie? Differentquantumenergy - parwecouldnotcomprehendthe We inverted the question and ticles,suchasmuons,travelphenomenonactuallyreversing asked,whathappensbeforewe atvelocitiesthatactually the bend flowoftime.Itwasn’tuntil live?Notasaspeciesmillions time. When a muon leaves wecouldcontactthePCSthat of years ago, but as individuals. thesun,itshouldbreakapart we understood how and why this Ifasoulisenergythatbecomes beforereachingtheEarth.But washappening. measurable at the moment of itdoesn’t.Muonshavesomuch conceptionwhenaspermcellenergy,theycantravelfarther SENATOR by DANBERG. Thank fromamalepenetratestheegg slowing time. I understand that you.Iseemytimeisup.Tobe fromafemale,wherewasitprior thisisatoughconcepttograsp. honest,I’mnotsureIentirely tothatpuncture?Theanswer Ihave is haditexplainedtome followed that last bit. notsimple. byleadingscientistsandIstill have trouble fully understanding CHAIRMAN HOPSON. Thank When we see a star in the sky, it myself. you.SenatorWillis,please. often what we are seeing is an activestarfrommillionsofWhat years isimportanttorecognize SENATOR WILLIS. Thank you agothathaslongsinceburned is that the energy generated by ChairHopsonandthankyouto out.Itisbecauselighttravels the PCS atis even greater than a PlanetsRising I 16

Dr. Saladi for being here today DR.SALADI.So,humanscom programessentiallysayshelloto andrespondingtoour-ques municateviaelectriccurrents thePCS.Infact,duringthissplit tions.Asmycolleaguesknow, orelectromagneticwaves.Cell second,theA.I.andthePCS Iwasanobstetricianpriorto phonesarethemostobviousexchangeinformationonalevel serving in Congress. Senator example.Butthatisnotdirect greater than any human being Danberg used the term fantascommunication.Webouncea couldprocessduringtheirentire ticaltodescribeyourwork,and signal off a tower to another lifetime.Butthat’snotthemost forgive me, but even with my andthentothepersonweare remarkable thing. twenty-fiveyearsofdelivering tryingtoreach.Wedonothave babiesinTennessee,I’mhaving actualdirectcontactwith SENATOR them. WILLIS.I’mhard ahardtimewrappingmyhead Similarly,thePCSenergyisn’t pressedtoimagineanything around your testimony today. If inalocationwecandialup.Itmore is remarkable than what Iamunderstandingyoucorrect nowhere and everywhere at the you’vealreadysharedwithus. ly, are you telling us that these same time. But what we know PCS,asyoucallthem,are iswhereitwillbeasplitsecond DR. SALADI. I understand, consciousbeingsandyoucan priortoconception. Senator.WhatI’mrelating communicatewiththembefore here,ourteamresearchedover themomentofconception? Oncewerealizedthis,we decades.Thisisalottotakein, theorizedhowtocommunicate andIhaven’tevengottentothe DR.SALADI.Thatiscorrect. with the PCS during this tiny mostinterestingaspectofityet. Althoughwedon’trefertothem window of time. We worked with as beings. experimentalquantum - physiSENATORWILLIS.Ifindthat ciststohelpusbuildanartificial hardtobelieve,butplease, SENATOR WILLIS. All right, that intelligenceprogramthatcould continue. aside. How are you able to do contactthePCSduringthat this? splitsecondwindow.TheA.I. DR. SALADI. What we

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Extraterrestrial Fiction

discoveredviadownloadingBut the PCS not only sees the questions.It’sgoingtotakeme theA.I.dataexchangewiththestar still shining from earth that sometimetounpackallthis.I PCSis,frankly,stillshockingto burned out long ago, it sees the thankthechairandyieldtherest us,despitebeingawareofitfor earthfromtheperspectiveof ofmy the time. some time. If we think again of star.Ayoungplanetmillionsof thePCSas‘the’consciousness, yearsbeforeitcansustainlife. CHAIRMAN HOPSON. Thank andthebodyseparatefromit,ThePCS,fasterthanwecan you. Senator Alvarosa. whatisbeingproducedat - conblink,viewstheentirespanof ceptionisthephysicalbeing,the thenewlifeabouttobe - creat SENATOR ALVAROSA. Thank fetus,thebaby,andfinallytheed. It then reverses time, and you,chair.Dr.Saladi,Iwillsay human being, that the PCS will, eitherbecomestheconscious upfrontthatIamdeeplytroubled forlackofabetterterm,inhabit. nessofwhatwillbethis - perby your testimony today. As a Then, at the moment of death, son, or it does not. Resulting in woman of faith and a holder the PCS disengages from the miscarriage. ofdeepreligiousconvictions, body. theytaughtusthatGodcreates SENATOR WILLIS. (inaudible) eachsoulatthemomentof SENATORWILLIS.Doctor,is Holdup.Wait.Whatdoyou conception.ThatGoddirectly this your roundabout way of saymean,doctor?Areyousaying intervenesincreatingeachof us,andnowyousaythatisn’t ingthatreincarnationisreal? thatwhenapersonisborn,they so. That we are, as you dealready know how their entire scribed,merelyadropofwater DR.SALADI.Notinanydirect lifewillplayout? pluckedoutofamassivepool. way.Wehavenowaytotrack I am wondering if you and your where PCS energy goes at DR. SALADI. No. From what colleagueshaveconsideredthe death. But we know the energy wecantell,thetimereversal impact isn’tdestroyed,merelychanged. accomplishestwothings.First, if ofyourexperimentfrom areligiousperspective? Thinkofitlikeapool-ofwa the fetus is non-viable, the PCS ter.Addonedrop,itbecomes willnot,forlackofabetterterm, DR. SALADI. Senator Alvarosa, instantly indistinguishable from enter. Non-viable, from what as a woman of faith myself, I do therestofthepool.Remove we have determined, is highly not discounttheroleofGodin onedrop,anditdisplaysallthe variable.Holoprosencephaly, the any of this. Whether our beliefs elementsintrinsicinthepool. most It extreme form of anenis the same, but different. cephalyinwhichababyisborn alignorconflict,thosedisagree ments have existed for thouwithout a forebrain, only a brainNowthinkbacktotheanalogystem,isanexample.Infants sandsofyears.NoneofWRF’s researchaddsorremoves about the star. We see it in the bornwithholoprosencephaly God from the equation. For sky. It exists. But we are seeusually die within a year. ingitviewedfromitspast.The everydiscoverywemake,all star long ago burned out. The Second,consciousness - de thequestionsincreasetenfold. presentandthepastexist simul velopsatthesamerateasthe Asascientist,myinclinationis taneouslyinourperception.physical For body,thebrain,etcet to seek answers following the thePCS,thepresent,thepast, era. It is not entirely a blank generalprinciplesofthe - scien andthefutureareidentical slate. until The PCS within the body tificmethod.ButIalsocannot themomentofconception.Theyhasasurvivalinstinct.But erase that ordiminishthepossibility existinastateweunscientifical may have more to do with huof the divine. His work is beyond lycallnon-time. man evolution than anything the mycomprehension.AllIcando PCS brings to bear. We are still isworkwithintheparameters Sowhenthatsplitsecondof studyingmanyaspectsoflong- ofwhatwediscoverandmove timereversaloccurs,whatis termdevelopment. forward from there. actuallyhappeningis,thePCS contactsthefertilizedegg,SENATORWILLIS.Doctor, SENATOR ALVAROSA. I unenergyandmattercombines. thank you for answering my derstand,doctor.Butyousaid PlanetsRising I 18

somethinginyouropeningstate - studiedeachother. Here, the AI dismentthatyouhaven’ttouched turbed PCS interupon,whichIfindquitedisturb SENATOR ALVAROSA. What actionswithahost ing.I’mgoingtoreaditbacktodid they learn? body. you. You said, and I quote, ‘it is withinourgrasptocoordinate DR. SALADI. We are still reSENATOR with what we have designated searchingtheresults,but - we ALVAROSA. be That asthePCS,orpre-conception lieve there is a linkage between sounds extremely souls,tohelpassistintheir the fetal consciousnessofallbeings. concerning.Howwas placement.Thereisa-say the PCS altered by ingthatyoucanchooseyour SENATORALVAROSA.I’m theseinteractions? friends,butyoucan’tchoosesorry,doctor.Whatdoesthat your family. In reality, that is no mean? Are you saying we DR.SALADI.Simply longertrue.’ canreadeachother'sminds? put,thePCSwill That’swhatitsoundslikeyou’re denyplacementina DR. SALADI. Yes, that is saying. body if the being is correct. not only non-viable, DR.SALADI.No,that’snotwhat butproblematic. SENATOR ALVAROSA. Can you I’msayingatall. pleaseelaborate? SENATOR SENATOR ALVAROSA. OK, ALVAROSA. How DR.SALADI.Ofcourse.AsIex pleaseexplain. (inaudible) what does plainedpreviously,thePCScan thatmean,problem pre-visualizetheirplacement DR.SALADI.Wemightdescribe atic?Whywouldthey andcanwithdrawifthe-place them as feelings. A mother denyplacementfor ment will not result in a sustainthinks of her daughter away at that? ablevesselforconsciousness college, to andatthatmoment,the prosper.Aswehaveinstructed phonerings.Itisherdaughter, SENATOR WILLIS. ourA.I.tocommunicatewith andshesays,I’msogladyou What did she just the PCS, they have engaged in called.Iwasjustthinkingofsay? you. robustconversations.Allwe Wecanattributethat - tocoin doisgivedirectionstothecidence. A.I. Butwecanalsolook(inaudiblecrosstalk) before it engages with the PCS. attheenergyfieldcreatedby Wecannotinteractwiththe human PCS beings,andhypothesizeCHAIRMAN HOPSON. Senator directlybecauseofthespeed that of atanon-detectablelevel, Willis,pleaserestrain - (inaudi theirconversation. soul entanglement results from ble). You had your time. ourunifiedenergy,moststrongly SENATORALVAROSA.Thesplit reinforcedbyfamilialrelations. SENATOR DANBERG. Let the second. FromourA.I.'sinteractionswith doctorspeak,SenatorWillis. the various PCS, we have a DR.SALADI.Correctthesplit modest understanding that the SENATORWILLIS.Apologiesto second.Oneofthefirstques energyofourconsciousness, DoctorSaladi,pleasecontinue. tions we asked was, what allowallsoulstoremain - incon criteriadoesthePCSusebefore stantcontact. DR. SALADI. We asked that committingtoplacement?The samequestion,repeatingthe A.I.reportedtousitdidn’tor Whatwebelievehashappened,request to understand what wouldn’tanswer.TheA.I.con unintentionally,isthatbecause istheircriteriaforplacement. tinued to ask the same question ofourdiscovery,ourAIaltered Theresponsewasbinary overseveralhundredencoun the behavior of the PCS. Known –happyorunhappy.Ifthey ters. Instead, both the AI and astheHawthorneeffect.The witnessedaproblematic(asin themultiplePCSitencountered observeraffectstheobserved. anunhappy)individualintheir 19 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

unhappiness.Thelistincludes saying they want us to end fampre-visualization,theywanted suchthingsasindividualsine that and war? theoptiontodenyplacement. createpoverty,famine,war, health,injustice,corruption, DR.SALADI. and Correct. SENATORALVAROSA.Doctor, that’s.Wait.Howcanthatbe more. Essentially, things that determined?Happiness?That’s areobstaclestoahappylifeSENATOR for ALVAROSA.Doctor. subjective,isn’tit? themselves or others. IthinkIspeakforallmy-col leagues when I say that ending DR.SALADI.Wereachedthe SENATORWILLIS.C’mon.That poverty,famine,andinjusticeis sameconclusion. isridiculous! noble. It is what this body strives toaccomplish.Buteliminating SENATOR ALVAROSA. So CHAIRMAN HOPSON. Sen themovernighttocreatesome howdoesthePCSdefine Willis, I warned you before. Any sortofutopiajustisn’tpossible happiness? further outbursts and I will turn offyourmicrophone. DR.SALADI.Ofcourse,wesaid DR. SALADI. The PCS said that thesamething.Iwillparaphrase happinessoccursinaperson(crosstalk) theresponsewereceived.First, whencertainqualitiesinthem theysaid,you’relying.Second, areabsent.QualitiesthatSENATOR cause ALVAROSA. Are you they said, or else. PlanetsRising I 20

SENATOR ALVAROSA. Or else? Orelsewhat,Doctor?

the time to Senator Alvarosa. Senator,pleasecontinue.

happinessisnon-negotiable.It istheresponsibilityofeveryone tomakethishappen.They-rec ognizethatsomewillsucceed while others will fail, but the pointis,weallmusttry.

DR. SALADI. Like you, Senator, SENATOR ALVAROSA. Thank we were worried about this reyou Chair and Senator Brown. sponse.TheyexplainedallPCSDoctor,soareyousayingthe could,iftheychose,denyfuture PCScoulddenyfutureplace placementtoeveryone,putting ments, if we do not meet their SENATORALVAROSA.Doctor, humanityinperil. demands? When do they intend what if in a hundred and fourtocarryoutthisthreat? teenyearswe’veeliminated (inaudiblecrosstalk) everythingbutinjustice?Is DR. SALADI. They said within humanitygoingtojuststop SENATOR ALVAROSA. Ah, our lifetime. reproducing? chair.IbelieveI’veexceededmy allotted time. SENATORALVAROSA.I’msor DR. SALADI. That is a question ry, our lifetime? weposedaswell.Theanswer CHAIRMAN HOPSON. You was:we’llletyouknow. have.SenatorBrown,apologies, DR.SALADI.Correct.Everyone youmayproceed. whoisalivetoday.According SENATOR ALVAROSA. to the PCS, their timeline is (inaudible) SENATOR BROWN. I yield my basedonthelongestlifespanof fiveminutestoSenatorAlvarosa anyonecurrentlyliving.That DR. is SALADI. I understand tocontinue. one hundred and fourteen years. how frustrating that answer is, The time they give humanity to Senator.Weaskedforclarifica CHAIRMAN HOPSON. The alteritscourseandstrive tion tore butreceivednone. chairrecognizesandyields solvetheseissuesandachieve 21 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SENATOR ALVAROSA. With all for your inquiry into human funding of the WRF if their of this in mind, do you think that consciousness,what’sdoneis researchhasledtothis.Their openingalineofcommunication done,anditappearswecannot work is an abomination that tothePCSisakintoopeningreversecourse.Thisbodycanthreatensusall!Ibelievewe Pandora’sBox? onlydosomuch,asitdoesnotmustvoteontherecordto… holdjurisdictionoverthe (inaudible). fateof DR.SALADI.Pandora’sBox all humanity. impliesthePCScausedthese CHAIRMAN HOPSON. Senator problemsbytheirunwiseactions DR. SALADI. Understood. We Willis, I warned you. I have shut priortoconception.Ibelieve each the canonlydoourpartto offyourmicrophone.Senator opposite,thesearepost - conrepairthissituation.ButWillis. Senator, Senator Willis, where are ceptionproblems.Humanityis forgive me, your daughter gave you going? Sit down. now required to address them or birthjustyesterday,correct?You meet its end. To right the many are now a grandmother. (inaudible yelling) wrongswecreatedthroughout ourhistory.Theseimprove SENATOR ALVAROSA. Yes, SENATOR ALVAROSA. Chair, ments, all of them, must align that’scorrect.What’syourpoint? Istandwithmycolleaguefrom withthebasicunderpinningsof Tennessee.Iwillnotsupport DR.SALADI.Perhapswe continuedfundinguntilweknow everyreligionacrosstheworld. shouldnotsimplyconsiderthe theexactnatureofthe - dam fate of humanity resting entirely age done by the WRF and Dr. SENATORALVAROSA.Doctor, areyouimplyingGodistakingaonourshoulders.These- chalSaladi’sgroupintheirso-called lengeswefacewillalsobethe research. hand in this? challengesofourchildrenand grandchildrenifwesurvive.CHAIRMANHOPSON.That’s DR. SALADI. I believe God Insteadofkickingtheproverbi enough. This body has rules entrusted us with free will. Is it alcandowntheroad,likewe of order. Senators Willis and so hard to believe he granted didonissuessuchasclimate Alvarosa,you’reoutofline. the same to the PCS? We are them;theyareus.Myscientificchange,Irecommendwedo somethingunprecedented. Iin (inaudible yelling) mind and my religious beliefs sistwerequirethemtocontinue donotcontradict.Thetwoare the work we started. SENATORWILLIS.(off-micro inseparable. phone)Gotohell,Tom! SENATOR ALVAROSA. Thank SENATOR ALVAROSA. Well, you,Dr.Saladi.Let’shopeyour CHAIRMAN HOPSON. Enough. Doctor.We’reobviously - go optimismwinstheday.Chair, SubmittostrikeSenatorWillis’ ingtoneedfullaccesstoyour research.Ifwhatyou’resayingI yield my remaining time and outburstfromtherecord.Per istrue,andifweconfirmthe suggestabriefrecess. hearingrules,we’retablingthe WRFfindings,thenthisexceeds decisionuntilallmemberscan ourauthorityasasubcommittee CHAIRMAN HOPSON. Thank regaincontrol.Wearegoing meeting. you, Senator. torecessfortenminutes.Dr. Saladi, thank you. DR.SALADI.Responsiblepar SENATOR WILLIS. Chair, I tiesarewelcometoreviewour request the remaining time. [Whereupon,at12:5p.m., findings. theHearingwastemporarily CHAIRMAN HOPSON. Senator adjourned.] (inaudiblecrosstalk) Willis,you’reoutoforder.Thisis your third warning. SENATORALVAROSA.Doctor, thank you for your testimony. SENATOR WILLIS. Chair, we Whatever the intention or basis cannotrubberstampcontinued PlanetsRising I 22

Planetary Communiqué ThePlanetaryCommuniquéisasectionreservedforthedisseminationofofficial intergalacticcommunicationsfromourgalacticoverlordstothesubjugatedplanetsand

territories.Theeditorialstaffdoesnotendorseorholdopinionsregardingthecontentof suchcommunications.Frankly,welostseveralofthemwhodid!Therefore,Hojackrequires


Your Glorious Overlord Grawth just saw nine humans dressed in robesreverseahundredyearsofhumanprogress.Sinceyou’re obviouslyalow-orderlife-form,HisGrotesquenesshasopined thatthisbodyshouldnotbecalledtheSupremeCourt,butthe ZoopremeCourtoftheStupidMonkeyPeople,or,ifthat’stoo long,theZoopremeCourtoftheStupidPeople.Nooneinthe universecaresabouttheZCSMP/ZCSP. The habitable universe has been removedtheseparation be andgunrights.Letmespellitout: watchingthegoingsonyouritty tweenchurchandstate.Bravo, You do not have any rights. Never bittyplanetwithdelight,joy since and youcan’ttellthedifference did, and never will. So save us all morethattheoccasional - involun between reality and imagination. a lot of time and hassle and just tarygiggle.Webelieveyoudon’tYou’veeliminatedstatesfrom keepgoingwiththeseregressive deserveanyrightswhatsoever! passinggunlawstoprotecttheir policies.Youhavealotofwork Andinthispastquarter,younot owncitizensfromgunviolence.ahead of you. onlyprovedourposition,butyou Magnificent,sincethemoreyou forfeited your own rights and freekilleachotherthebetter!You’ve Asyourunderlord,Iamcontrac doms. How absolutely, wonderfultakenpowerawayfromthestates tuallyobligatedtopresentyou lyregressiveofyou! andconcentrateddecision mak withthefollowingedictsforthis ing to nine funny-dressed huquarter. Don’tmisunderstandus:Wewere mans!You’realmosttothepoint goingtocurtailallofyourrights whereyoucouldaccepttherule Edict #1 anyway!Sayingthathumans ofyourdistantanddisconnected should have rights is as absurd overlord in favor of self-goverYou do not have the right to think as saying that the stain made in nanceandindependentthought. foryourself.Ourculinaryexperts atoiletbowlshouldhave - “protec Weareimpressedbyyourabilityare divided, but there are some tions.” Think of us as the brush toturntheclockback! whobelievetheycanPankoyour that’sheretoridtheuniversenot graymatter,deepfryit,andserve ofthestainyou’vecreated,but LordofGrawth may be wrong with itwithalovelychilioilsauce. thestainthatyouhavebecome. thedecisionshemakescurtailing Even if there is the smallest Wewillscrubthatbowlandmake therightsofhissubjects,but chance he thatyourbrainscanserve itlooklikenewwithoutanounce isneverindecisive.Andbecause asanappetizereveninafailing ofregretforyourpreciousrights. yourrightsdon’tmatter,yourrestaurant, lives then,bydefinition,you don’tmatterand,byextension, do not have the right to think. Insomeofyourcity-states youdon’tmatter.So,getover you’vecurtailedawoman’sright yourselves.Stopfeudingabout Edict #2 ofchoice.Weapplaudthat,as thereproductiverights, - contra all human life, whether born or ceptiverights,genderequality, Wehavewatched,withhorror unborn,isworthless.You’ve racialequality,immigrantrights andamazement,whatyoucall 23 I SavagePlanets

“human”reproduction.Atfirst,soon our unleashonyourplanetandwhichwillenteryourorificesfroma scientistswereconfusedassides, they coagulatinginthecenterofyourbody,andthenradiallyshoo outinalldirectionslikeaFourthofJulyfirecracker.Onceliberat thought what they were looking thedroneswilllockinandcoalesceinsidethebodyofthenextper atwasjustapre-ambletothe actofreproduction.Next,our adjacenttosuchabarrel-shapedantenna/beacon.It’samarvelou to see. anatomistsandscientiststhing were genuinelyperplexedbywhatyou Byallmeans,keepyougunshandy.Polishthemdaily.Sleepwiththem. callsexualorgans.Mostsentient Keepthemclose.Andifyoucanaffordit,pleasebuymore.Ouronly life in the universe enjoy a large concernisthatinsomeplaces,youmaynotbeallowedtobeinclose assortment of sexual organs. enoughproximitytosuchapowerfulantenna/beacon,likeatchurche You have just one organ and you schoolsorathospitals.Pleasepasstheverynecessarylegisla How topermitcarryingsuchweaponseverywhereahumanislikelytobe. daft!Finally,ourculinaryexperts, Remember,thisisnotarequest,butanedict.Youmustpursuethis inaminorityreport,recommend questasifthisisthemostimportantthinginyourlittlemisera ed bundling a barrel full of baby humansasapostprandial- purga tiveduringoneofLordGrawth'You s arenowwellonyourwaytoriddingyourselfofpeskyrightsand protections.Sinceweplanonrelievingyourburden, ,wealltheway feasts.Sincethescreamingand areverycontenttohaveyoutakecareofthisyourselves.Yourrece squirmingwillundoubtedlyinduce progressinthisregardisimpressive,butyouhavealongwaytogo.In indigestion, allowing the feast to continuefollowingexpulsion!alargegalacticempire,planetshavenorightsorautonomy.Theyhav nosay.You’vegottolearnthatlessonnow,beforeyoudevelop expec tationssuchasuniversalorinalienablerights.Youwillneverh Edict #3 rights. Theassault-rifleisajokeofa AsyourhumbleUnderlordHojack,Iwillsharewithyouthewisewords weapon.Whenwecomeforyou, fromLordGrawth:“ThatstainthatIshowedyouinmytoilethasmore andthatdayisfastapproaching, suchaweaponwillnotgiveyourightsthanthehumanrace.Itwillbeagreatsourceofprideformet personally makeeveryhumanbeingunderstandthatsimplefact.” eventheslightestprotection. In fact,thechrome-molysteeland thechromelinedboresofaM16/ M4Mil-Specbarrelwillactas homingbeaconfortheswarmsof nano-sizeddroneswhichwewill

PlanetsRising I 24


ALLEN STEELE by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond Mr. Steele, thank you for agreeing to this interview for SavagePlanets. To begin, was there a defining moment in your life and writing that made you turn to science fiction? If not, which books contributed to your commitment? AS: Science fiction has been at the center of my life since childhood, really; I became obsessed with this kind of story at an early age, starting with Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials I saw on Saturday morning TV as a little kid. When I was about nine, I was in a serious auto accident while in summer camp, and older sister Genevieve gave me Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, which I read while stuck at home recovering from my injuries. I read that book again and again, and the story helped me 25 I SavagePlanets

mend a deeply traumatic experience — it was a terrible wreck; it could have killed me and I knew it — and as soon as I could get out on my own, I began looking for any science fiction novel I could find. I read everything from James Blish’s first Star Trek novel — which I read a full year before I actually saw the TV show, which wasn’t shown in Nashville until the second season — to Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke to paperback anthologies and Ace Science Fiction Specials, anything I could lay my hands on, leapfrogging over most children’s books and getting into some pretty adult literature before I was even in middle school. So when I began writing my own stories in the fourth grade and decided to become a writer when I was about 15 or 16, there was no question in my mind that I was going to write SF. It just felt like something was what I was born to do. 2) What your readers love is how cozy your stories make them feel. Is this your natural ‘voice’ or did you work at it to distinguish yourself from other writers? AS: I think this is the first time anyone has used

the word “cozy” to describe their reactions to my stories, but I won’t object… I’ll take any compliments I can get, and thank you. It took me a very long time to develop the way I write, and when I was a novice I went through a phase when I was consciously trying to emulate the styles of writers I admired, including some as radical and experimental as Harlan Ellison, Tom Robbins, and Hunter S. Thompson. But over time, I realized I got my best mileage by not trying to imitate writers whose styles are inimitable, relaxing a bit, and writing in a more natural way, addressing readers as if they’re friends who’ve dropped by to visit and hear a story. It seems like a straightforward thing to do, but it actually took me quite a while to learn how to do it and do it right. 3) In many of your stories and novels, you have been a historian of the science fiction genre. To chronicle the works of sci-fi writers, both living and dead, you mentioned their work. In fact, I have hunted down and read some writers you brought up in your books, while with others I rejoiced reading about them again. It gooses the reader and provides them with a special thrill. I cannot think of a better way to archive the genre than by embedding the best of the stories of science fiction in a science fiction tale. What made you do this? AS: One thing that’s come out of a lifetime of being a science fiction reader and later becoming an active SF fan — after attending my first convention in 1973 when I was 15

years old — is a deep knowledge of science fiction and personal appreciation for the people who write it. I spent my summers as a teenager touring conventions I regularly attended in the South and Midwest, and occasionally went further afield to world conventions in Washington D.C. and Toronto, and because I was one of the few teens who was in fandom — geeks or nerds weren’t respected and I was often harassed at school, and so it wasn’t until after Star Wars came out that you saw many of them at conventions — so several writers took a shine to me and let me hang out with them. I became friends with people like Gordon R. Dickson and Frank Robinson and Ed Bryant and Andy Offutt, got to meet Frederik Pohl, Isaac Asimov, and Leigh Brackett, had dinner with Theodore Sturgeon, and even received my first professional compliment from Harlan Ellison, who said to me during an impromptu writer’s workshop in Nashville, “Kid, you’re a writer!” And because I had conversations with these people and read their essays and biographies as well as their novels and stories, I gained an in-depth knowledge of the genre’s history that wasn’t academic but more personal. Over time, I realized that the history of science fiction isn’t just a series of random incidents and events, but indeed a science fiction story itself, and an epic one at that. So beginning with one of my earliest published stories, “Hapgood’s Hoax”, (it’s in my first collection, Rude Astronauts) and continuing through my novel Arkwright and recent stories like “The House on Infinity Street” (it’s in The Allen Steele Superpack, my omnibus collection that SavagePlanets I 26

came out last year), I’ve treated SF history as thematic terrain I frequently revisit. Aside from my friend Barry Malzberg, whose novel Herovit’s World has been an enormous influence on this, I don’t know of any other SF writer who has done this as much or as often as I have. 4) In 2011 you won the Hugo Award for best Novelette for the story ‘The Emperor of Mars.’ Definitely well deserved. It featured life in a remote outpost, a working mine, on Mars. It talked about the stresses of living in isolation, far away from home, unable to return easily. I have worked in such environments and the story and feeling rings true. Have you lived in remote locations and experienced or witnessed the stresses such places can have, and how it affects an individual? Did something real in your life inspire it? AS: I was also something of a juvenile delinquent when I was a kid, so to keep me from landing in jail or worse, my folks sent me off to a boarding school in rural Tennessee. This was not a happy time for me. It was one of those boys’ schools that was dominated by jocks on the one hand and rich, snotty brats on the other, and since I was neither of those most of my schoolmates didn’t like or understand me and I wasn’t crazy about them either, so I spent most of my free time in my dorm room either reading or, most significantly, writing stories to send off to magazines like Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction, trying to become a pro SF writer at age 16. So while it wasn’t a moon 27 I SavagePlanets

base or a Mars colony, I learned a great deal about isolation, homesickness, and boredom that, later in life, I could use in my fiction. When I finally graduated from high school, all I wanted to do was leave all that behind me and get the hell out of Tennessee. So not only did I go off to college in a small town in New Hampshire, a place I’d never even visited before, but I also sought adventure in everything that I did. I was a big kid with a lot of muscle on me who wasn’t afraid of hard labor or living in harsh conditions, so I took tough jobs like being a busboy, working in a state park as a groundskeeper, and being an overnight security guard, and these experiences taught me much about being a working-class, blue-collar guy. Together with being a newspaper journalist for a while and seeing the world from that perspective, all this became useful background material for my writing. There are a lot of incidents in my stories and novels that are taken from real life, but no one but my family and a few close friends know it. 5) In your recent novel Arkwright, the main character of the foundation is a science fiction writer of popular space operas. It deals with the end of humans on Earth, and a new start on a goldilocks planet using a seed bank (an Ark) aboard a colony ship. Once again, in the novel, you celebrate great sci-fi writers. As one of the regional directors of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, how many of the writers did you have working friendships with, and who impressed or influenced you the most? AS: Because I started attending SF conventions as a teenager and sought the

company and advice of writers I admired, I formed many friendships with authors who have given me support and advice over the years. That’s one of the great things about the SF field: because it has an active fandom that generates its own authors, it’s possible for a novice to learn from masters in an informal, non- academic setting quite unlike the college writing workshops I did later. So although I work-shopped with the mainstream literary novelist Russell Banks when I was in college, before I met him I’d already spent time with people like Gordon R. Dickson and Ed Bryant and Harlan Ellison, all of whom willingly gave me a few minutes of their time to tell me everything from how to prepare a manuscript for professional submission to professional etiquette to ways of researching a subject I was completely unfamiliar with so I’d have correct factual information for a story. So by the time I got out of college, I knew just about everything I needed to know to become a working professional writer. Now all I had to do was learn how to write a story a busy person would want to read! Which is what Andrew J. Offutt said to me when I was 15 and I eventually learned was the real secret to becoming a successful fiction writer. But even after I sold my first novel and stories, I continued to learn from senior authors. I consider Gregory Benford to be my mentor; sometimes I even address him

“sensei” in conversation, which is the Japanese term for one’s teacher and master. I had Gardner Dozois as my short fiction editor for most of my career, and I learned much from him by writing stories for Asimov’s Science Fiction and anthologies he edited, including a couple he did with George R. R. Martin who was another person who gave me great advice when I was getting started. And even today, I’m learning from writers whose work I first read many years ago and later encountered in real life. My friend Barry Malzberg, through frequent Zoom chats, has been offering late-career advice that I need now, even after I’ve been at this for 33 years. If you’re wise, you talk to the people who’ve traveled down the road before you, because they’ll tell you where the potholes are and where the cops are hanging out with radar. And besides that, they’ll also tell you some great stories about stuff that happened before you got there. All those guys I mentioned have told me about people and incidents that are funny and fascinating and sometimes libelous as hell, and it was from them I gained an appreciation for science fiction’s long history which eventually manifested itself in Arkwright, along with several other stories I’ve written that have SF history as its background. Science fiction is itself a science fiction story, and it’s quite an epic. 6) And a follow-up question: As a man with his finger on the pulse of American Science Fiction, what direction is it heading in? Will we see a new Golden Age? Since there is both fantasy and science fiction making a big splash across SavagePlanets I 28

the small screen and the big, how is that influencing the writing out there? AS: Those are troublesome questions. I wish I could say that science fiction’s present condition is as great as its past, but I can’t. In many ways, it’s become a victim of its own global success in the mass media. When SF was still largely a literary genre, with only a few TV shows and the rare movie — most of which were junk anyway — you saw a lot of invention and innovation, particularly since SF readers demanded originality and didn’t want to read the same stories again and again. That’s why the Golden Age of the 40s and the Silver Age of the 70s and even the Silicon Age of the 80s, when I and my classmates came in, were so great. Through most of the 20th century, SF was a cultural underdog that was overlooked by major publishers, neglected by Hollywood, and despised by literary academia, and so most of the people who wrote or otherwise made it their art form did so because they truly loved this stuff and wanted to contribute and become part of it. Around the turn of the century, all this changed. It really got started in 1977, the year when Star Wars and Close Encounters came out and were colossal hits that stunned everyone with their unexpected success. The

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following summer, when I returned to the SF cons I’d been going to for years, I discovered that their attendance had doubled, mainly by people who’d paid little attention to SF till then but now wanted to get in on it. And that popularity never faded. SF’s popularity steamrolled, all but wiping out older genres like westerns and historic adventure while boosting cousin genres like fantasy and horror, until it finally reached a tipping point around 2000 when it became, overall, the most popular form of entertainment in the world. But it didn’t come from novels and magazine fiction, even though those were the root of it all, and certainly not just from movies and TV, by also from online computer games and cosplay with contributions from other kinds of entertainment, like graphic novels. Science fiction has become big business, and that’s not been good for the genre, because the major publishers are now far more interested in making money than producing original and inventive fiction, and while there are far more SF movies and TV shows than there once were, most of them are imitations of one another that mainly devise variations on a few, wellworn tropes. And over time, this had a negative effect on the literature. Lately, a lot of new writers have come into the field primarily to make money and score fame, and believe if they just write military space opera or novels about killer robots or amok AIs or alien invasions or dystopian societies where everyone has an irrational hatred for teenagers and spend enormous amount of time trying to exterminate

them, or whatever next year’s trend will be, they can get rich and famous. Or at least that’s what they think, although it seldom works out that way. Believe me, I’ve been around a while… I’ve seen ‘em come and I’ve seen ‘em go, and the guys who go are the ones who were just here for the money.

public-domain clip art. I let my editor know I was unhappy, and one reason I left Ace was because I realized I no longer had any input into what my books looked like. One reason I mainly work with small-press publishers now is because they’ll give me a greater say in what my books look like when they’re published.

Since it became an independent genre in 1926, when Hugo Gernsback published the first issue of Amazing Stories magazine, science fiction has sought wealth, fame, and acceptance. About a hundred years later, it has achieved all that… and now it’s paying the price.

I’ve self-published a couple of things — my novellas “Escape from Earth” and “The River Horses” came out as Amazon ebooks after they were first published in an anthology and in Asimov’s — so I have no problem with electronic self-publishing per se. Quite a few of my colleagues, particularly older writers like myself, successfully use it to either keep older work in print (which is what paperback publishers used to do but not any longer except for a few bestselling authors) or publish works that don’t fall into one or more of the formulas I just mentioned.

7) Now that selfpublishing is a thing, there are both good and bad writers putting out their work. You have been incredibly prolific. How satisfied are you with the covers of your books, and the way they finally appeared? Given total freedom, would you do things differently? Are there things you hate about selfpublishing? AS: I’ve been incredibly prolific because I’ve spent an incredible amount of time — nearly my entire life, really — learning my craft and refining it and always experimenting with new ideas and forms instead of just settling for one formula that’s repeated over and over again. I take a lot of pains to give my readers full measure, and this extends to the cover art, along with the maps and diagrams I often include. The very few times I’ve had bad covers, it’s when I have had no say over the cover art or they ignored my advice. The one for V-S Day, for instance, is a stinker; Ace-Penguin cheaped out on it by using

So I think ebooks and print on demand (POD) publishing is a significant innovation. Ebooks have replaced mass-market paperbacks in the last decades just as paperbacks replaced pulps in the late 40s through the 50s. POD books provide a way to get those books in the hands of readers who prefer printed pages to screens. Where I see a problem is when novice writers try to use electronic self-publishing as a short-cut around traditional publishing. These days, any idiot can write and publish a novel; the trick is writing a book worth reading, and that takes time and effort to master. No amount of cool cover art or relentless self-promotion will SavagePlanets I 30

help you in the long run if all you’ve produced is just another version of something countless other writers have already done. Readers pick out copycats pretty quickly. People who succeed at becoming writers do so by taking it seriously, not just imitating what seems successful, but unfortunately selfpublishing offers instant gratification without the hard work and sacrifice and learning from failure that is necessary to master any art. 8) Switching gears, in your latest novel Sanctuary, we are seeing something new from Allen Steele. The story is the perfect melding of science fiction, mystery, and fantasy with hints of hard science and whimsy. It feels more like an anthology with seamless stories annealed together from their original and perhaps serialized publication in Asimov's magazine. Is this mixture of Sci-Fi and fantasy what you had in mind for the future of the genre, or at least for your science fiction? AS: Sanctuary is another experiment. Although I’m not much of a fantasy fan, a little while ago I picked up again some of the heroic sword and sorcery I read when I was a kid, in particular Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. Around the same time I’d written a hard-SF story, “Sanctuary”, that had an open ending that I thought I could develop into a novel. And I’ve always been a fan of hard-boiled detective fiction, in particular authors like Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald, and the more 31 I SavagePlanets

recent writers like Max Allan Collins and his mentor Mickey Spillane. All this came together over a period of time until I wondered if it was possible to produce a hybrid of these three genres, hard SF, heroic fantasy, and hard-boiled detective. What came out was a novel-length version of the original short story, also titled Sanctuary. That’s sort of what I imagine we might have gotten if Poul Anderson and John D. MacDonald or Jack Vance and Donald Westlake ever collaborated. I think it’s an excellent novel, and so did most of the editors at the major publishing houses where my agent submitted it. Though major publishing houses are now more interested in chasing bandwagons than taking roads less traveled, and so the common refrain we got was “I like this novel, it’s very well written, but it’s not what we’re looking for just now”… meaning, “Come back when you’ve written something like Ready Player One or The Expanse.” So I sold Sanctuary to Fantastic Books, whose editor Ian Strock belongs to the old school of editors who look for originality, and he let me pick Ron Miller, who did the covers for my Coyote novels, to do the cover for this one. I’m proud of this novel and hope it does well, but it was so hard to get published that I’m afraid this is an experiment that will end with one book. If you read the novel, you can see where I set things up for a sequel… or rather, a prequel… but I rather doubt that will happen. Too bad!

9) Mr. Steele, you’ve been writing for quite a while now. Beyond the shift from journalism to fiction, can you identify phases or periods in your writing? Transitions between one style to another, or was it simply a continuum? AS: Lately, I’ve looked back and seen that, while my SF career has previously seemed to me to a more or less smooth transition from one novel to the next, there actually have been several periods during which I’ve written one sort of thing or another before tiring of it and moving on to something else. So I started with my Near Space series, Orbital Decay through A King of Infinite Space and Sex and Violence in Zero G, which was a radical hard-SF revision of traditional Robert Heinlein space fiction, then transitioned to nearfuture or alternatehistory thrillers like The Jericho Iteration through Oceanspace and Time Loves A Hero, where I was trying to write a more genre-oriented sort of technothriller, then I went to the Coyote series, my great epic which rather accidentally became I wrote over the course of 11 years and comprises this huge, multigenerational saga, and from there went to writing stand-alone novels like Apollo’s Outcasts (a Young Adult novel), V-S Day (alternative history), and Arkwright (literary character-driven fiction), and lately it’s been what my friend and editor Steve Davidson identifies as Neo-Pulp, the Captain Future series and Sanctuary, where I’ve taken old-style pulp fiction and reinvented it for modern times. And

now, I’ve begun doing something else, and eventually my readers will see that too. This is how I’ve been able to continue writing SF for so long, outlasting many writers who came into the field at the same time as I did. I’ve never remained permanently stuck with one thing or another, writing it until I and everyone else tired of it, but have sought to reinvent myself through the years. It’s been fun, and I hope to keep doing it for a while longer. 10) In closing, can you give us a two sentence science fiction story (what we call Subspace) on the theme of SavagePlanets? Something to inspire our readers, and encourage them to write their own science fiction.

grew up.

AS: One day, humankind suddenly found that the phones were all dead, the computer screens were dark, the cars and trains and planes were motionless and crashing, the bank machines no longer spouted money, the radios silent, there was nothing on TV at all, and soon not even the lights came on. And it was on this day, when humanity’s long adolescence finally ended, which is when it put away its toys and

Thank you for your time, Allen! If you liked the story Come Together by Allen Steele within this issue, please take the time to visit his website at, and/or go to your local book dealer to pick up his novels. Sanctuary and Arkwright are both on the shelves now!

SavagePlanets I 32


EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond The multiverse is the current fascination of movie producers and audiences. It brings science fiction into the mainstream. On the tail of the disappointing Dr. Strange visitation, we have an unexpectedly enjoyable alternative: Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (EEAO). Going into the theater, I expected a kung fu movie. Michelle Yeoh is one

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of the hottest stars in the genre, but it delightfully surprised me to find not only action, but comedy, mystery, and science fiction too. EEAO goes beyond even that blend of genres by tickling our spiritual understanding of reality. It helps us to appreciate the No-thingness of Everything. In summary, the film presents an unwitting

mother, Evelyn, forced into the multiverse to save her daughter, Joy, who has become the Jobu Tupaki. Meanwhile, Waymond brings Evelyn into the tangle of the multiverse while going to attend an IRS tax audit. Her husband from another universe, Alpha Waymond, inhabits the body of Waymond in this universe and starts her adventure.

Of course, this is a gross simplification of a kaleidoscopic story. The film also is an exposé of Chinese family culture and dynamics, presenting life issues in a multi-generational family. Being true to form, half of the movie is spoken in Chinese. Your first impression is of a mother struggling to make ends meet living above the family’s laundromat that is failing. She seeks a divorce from her husband, while caring for her father and an obstreperous teenage lesbian. Then the magic starts. Alpha Waymond from the Alphaverse informs the local Evelyn about the multiverse in a janitor’s closet in the IRS office. He, along with Alpha Evelyn, developed ‘verse jumping’ technology, hoping to thwart the Jobu Tupaki. The Jobu Tupaki, once Alpha Joy, has her mind splintered after Alpha Evelyn pushed her to versejump extensively; Jobu Tupaki

now experiences all universes at once and can verse-jump and manipulate matter at will. Taking her skill into the surreal and absurdist, the Jobu Tupaki creates a temple in one universe to house the ‘Everything Bagel.’ A torus, like a black hole, that contains everything she cares about and wants to suck more in. Meanwhile, Alpha Waymond comes to believe that the local Evelyn, the greatest failure of all Evelyns in the multiverse, has the untapped potential to defeat Jobu Tupaki. The Alphaverse team wants local Evelyn to kill Jobu, but she refuses because Jobu/ Joy is her daughter. Instead, Evelyn embarks on a journey through the multiverse to gain the same powers as Jobu and reason with her. The Alphaverse techies mobilize their followers to pursue and attack her to avoid a second Jobu arising from Evelyn. In

the Everywhere, one of the places Evelyn flees to literally jumps her off the map of the multiverse to one where people have hotdog fingers (yes, it’s that weird). There are several other plot complications along the way that are fun, but then Evelyn learns that Jobu Tupaki created the ‘Everything Bagel’ not to destroy everything, but to destroy herself. This leads to Joy searching for an Evelyn who can understand her and help her. Reason being Joy/ Jobu becomes suicidal after discovering to her horror that nothing truly matters. I won’t spoil the ending by saying how they resolve all this, but they do, and in a warm, fuzzy way. Along that same way, there are some great fight sequences, including the amazing antics of Trophy and Bigger Trophy, played by Brian Le and Andy Le, respectively. These

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lads learned martial arts by watching and mimicking every martial arts film they could find. The Le brothers, whose family was too poor to send them to martial arts classes in southern California, practiced in their backyard and developed their own fighting style by mixing and matching all the different fighting styles out there. They then started posting YouTube videos of their fighting, which attracted the attention of

Hollywood talent scouts. This led to their performances in several films and television shows, of which EEAO is the latest. It’s definitely worth paying attention to them. Danny Kwan, making his name in Hollywood in the 70s and 80s, wrote and directed the film. One film he acted in during that time that stands out and perhaps led him on a path to making EEAO: Big Trouble in Little China. Which is also definitely worth a look. 35 I SavagePlanets

Other surprises in EEAO include Ke Huy Quan, barely recognizable as Waymond from the character that made him famous, Short Round, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. His masterful performance and transformations in EEAO lifts him strongly out of his child acting days. There is also a surprising and complex performance from Jamie Lee Curtis in EEAO, where she starts out as an

IRS tax auditor, but plays multiple roles throughout the multiverse, including the wife of Evelyn in the hot dog fingers universe. Stephanie Hsu, as Joy and Jobu Tupaki, puts on a wonderful performance. She’s a newcomer, fresh from her role in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Playing multiple characters in a single film is challenging for even the most skilled of actors, but Ms. Hsu carries it off deftly, not allowing one Joy

to bleed into another across the multiverse. Same goes for the other actors. The production design is stunning and truly captures the multiverse in all its glory, that other multiverse films don’t hold a candle to. The only downside I noted was in the editing, where they cut some events leading up to moments you scratch your head, wondering how that came about. Yet the film is so fastpaced, before you ask yourself

the question where did that come from, it has moved on. Perhaps this appeals to the video game generation, whose attention span is close to the blink of an eye. I strongly encourage you to see it, as it sets a new standard for science fiction that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is a genre bending film that I hope we see more of in the future. Like the film’s poster, it is a pachinko game and Tibetan Thangka Mandala rolled into one.

See Your Story In Print.



THE BOOK, THE FILM, AND TV SERIES by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond

In the April issue, we featured an article on The Silent Sea based on a global drought on Earth. In this issue, we feature a severe drought on another planet, Anthea. The story begins in 1962 with a literature professor at Ohio University, one Walter Tevis. He already had success with his first novel, The Hustler, published in 1959. He wanted to write his autobiography but felt he was too young for it to be taken seriously, so he disguised himself in his second novel, immersing his life into his main character, Thomas Jerome Newton, The Man Who Fell to Earth. Tevis contracted rheumatic heart disease as a child and suffered from it throughout the rest of his life. They treated him in San Francisco with bed rest. To ensure he stayed there for a year, they gave him high doses of phenobarbital. Long-term sedation led to his curiosity, and finally hunger for alcohol later in life. His

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alcohol addiction combined with chronic smoking, frequent episodes of depression, and heart disease led to his premature death in 1984 from lung cancer.

Truth be told, he beat his alcoholism with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1970s, but his smoking only increased after that. He married twice and had two children with his first wife. Despite this, every one of his six novels was award-winning. His first novel, Mockingbird, was a nominee for a Nebula award. The Hustler, The Color of Money, The Queen’s Gambit, and of course, The Man Who Fell to Earth, ended up as movies and/or TV miniseries. He imbued all of them with autobiographical features, although The Man Who Fell to Earth was the most comprehensive. During Tevis’s phenobarbital year, his family moved to Kentucky, where his father received a land grant in Madison County. The science fiction novel featured his time in bed there at age eleven. In the book, Newton falls to Earth in Kentucky from Anthea. Anthea is suffering

a severe drought following nuclear war, leaving only three hundred survivors. The Antheans having no water, but an abundance of food which is slowly dwindling. Like all Antheans, Newton is superintelligent, and they have selected him for this mission because he has the physical strength necessary to function in Earth's hotter climate and higher gravity. In Kentucky, he plans to earn sufficient funds to mobilize a fleet of starships to return to Anthea, collect the survivors and return them to Earth. His plan is to create World Enterprises based on nine basic patents he writes up from the advanced technology on Anthea. He hires Oliver Farnsworth, a lawyer, to handle the business end. He also hires Nathan Bryce, a disillusioned scientist and professor, to be his fuel specialist on the project. They become fast friends and have long discussions about life on Earth. He also meets Betty Jo, a woman who loves him, although he can’t reciprocate her love because he is married with two kids on Anthea. What they do share is a love for

alcohol. In the meantime, he is under surveillance by the CIA and they ultimately capture him, identify him as an alien and experiment on him. Shortly after his release, the FBI picks him up, and the torture starts all over again. When they x-ray his skull, it blinds him because of an increased susceptibility to X-rays as an alien. Now blind, this foils Newton’s plans to rescue his people. Bryce helps him to send a radio message to them on Anthea. Then Newton leaves his friendship with Bryce behind and enters isolation to drink and despair. In 1975, Nicolas Roeg, a British film director, already famous for his films Performance with Mick Jagger, and Walkabout made The Man Who Fell to Earth with David Bowie in the starring role, released in 1976. Not one to shy away from nudity and sexuality (during the sexual revolution), the director has Rip Torn play

Nathan Bryce. Bryce is a promiscuous professor eager to explore coeds, but frustrated by the ever deteriorating levels of education of his students (Tevis’s belief as well). He quits the University after an offer by Farnsworth to work with World Enterprises (also huge from the basic patents). Again, Bryce is a fuel expert for Newton. In the movie, Thomas Jerome Newton is building starships to transport water back to Anthea. Instead of a Betty Jo, Newton meets a Mary-Lou (played by Candy Clark), and he falls in love with her. Their relationship deteriorates because of alcohol, which she introduces him to, and from her discovering he is an alien. Bryce helps Newton, but they are far more distant than in the book. In the meantime, the US government captures Newton and foils his plan. Besides the plot deviations and the sex scenes, the movie also serves as a platform to introduce mixed-race

marriages, decadent sloth, and a homosexual relationship between Oliver Farnsworth and his male lover, all risque at the time Roeg made the film. This was in the heyday before the AIDs pandemic, beginning in 1981. As a result, it was both Tevis and Roeg’s attempt to explore and challenge our culture and values. To that end, in the movie, rather than being blinded by X-rays, the FBI welds Newton’s human prosthetic eyes to his Anthean eyes. So he ends up drinking in despair, knowing he can’t return and face the Antheans and also knowing his family back home will soon be dead. Forty-six years later, Alex Kurtzman revisited and developed the story further in The Man Who Fell to Earth, the television series. Developed for SHOWTIME and released on 24 April 2022, it differs from the original book and movie in that this is the second man who falls to Earth. He calls himself

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Faraday, after reading a police officer’s name tag when they pick him up for vagrancy in New Mexico. Faraday is following up on the mission of the first visitor after his failure, and ‘sees’ the spirit of Thomas Jerome Newton, after traveling from Anthea. In flashbacks, we see the experiments conducted on Newton, and his blinding by X-rays (consistent with the novel). We also see the Anthean struggling to adapt to life on Earth. Faraday (played brilliantly by Chiwetel Ejiofor), as The Man Who Fell to Earth, recruits Justin Falls (Naomi Harris), an applied physicist, to help him build a fusion reactor to power a starship and collect the remaining Antheans. Justin has fallen on hard times after she killed her husband during a

fusion reactor experiment, before Faraday shows up. She must now care for her aging and sickly father and her young daughter, working a clean-up job collecting hazardous waste to make ends meet. Faraday takes her to Seattle, after Justin witnesses him walking into a tornado to communicate with Anthea. Faraday needs the tenth patent to complete the construction of the fusion reactor. He enlists the disgraced son of Oliver Farnsworth, Hatch Flood, to approach his sister, Edie Flood, CEO of World Enterprises, to get the patent. The message in the tornado draws the attention of the CIA, who assigns an oddball yet effective agent, likely with Asperger’s syndrome, named Spencer Clay. He strong-armed Edie Flood to give Faraday and

Falls the patent and the funds to build the reactor. Faraday’s philanthropic goal in building the fusion reactor, beyond saving his people, is to save the Earthlings from suffering the same fate as the Antheans, because of climate change that is devastating both worlds. The underlying message here is the need to create a clean energy source that will make Earth independent of oil and coal for electric power and save the planet. It is a noble and timely topic. What makes this series great is the incredible humanity on offer. Both the kindnesses and cruelty challenge us to be better. We learn and see more about Anthea, its beliefs, and problems. It helps us to reflect on Earth’s problems, through the eyes of Faraday and his display of unique abilities as an alien. It is a warning and a promise to Earthlings of what is to come if we don’t change our ways. The second Man Who Fell to Earth helps other Earthlings to enable his goals. His selfcentered mission also frees others to help him, and in the long run, making their lives better. This differs from the novel and the movie. Faraday also loves water rather than alcohol, as it is the one resource Anthea lacks. Yet humans, their habits and their nature, constantly surprised him. It is a journey of joy rather than one of despair. It is a feel-good science fiction show, much needed during these days of war, social conflict and pandemic. But also a cautionary tale that makes you think. Take the time to explore the book, film and the television series. You’ll be glad you did.

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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 40


As Stone took out his wallet, the man stood up. Moving slowly, he entered his establishment, returning with a floppy mask and pair of broad snowshoes. These he handed to Stone in exchange for the money. Then, sitting on the ground by his bowl once more, he went through the dust-to-man transformation as if it bored him. "

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Extraterrestrial Fiction Stoneflewinoveraterrainof in the dust bowl. The layer of dust himtovanish,thendippedin rust-coloredrocksandyellow feltlikewalkingthroughdeep andscoopedouthandfulsofhis dust.Abandonedvehicles,some snow at home. powderedself.Hoveringoverthe nearlyburiedindust,covered bowl like sieves, the hands sifted maybeanacre.HesettleddownA man squatted in the dust out thedustbackintothebowl.Asthe nearthesolestructurehehad front,hisheadprotectedfrom dust thefell,themanreappeared,cap spotted,theairreadingwarmintense but sunbyayachtsman’scap. to trousers. breathable.Stillwearinghis Before flight himsatalargetransparent jacket,heputonrubberboots bowl, nearly invisible. As Stone “Nicecruiseryougotthere,”he andafiltrationmask,gotout,watched,themandisintegrat said to Stone, whole again. andapproachedthelowbuilding. edintothickdustandtumbled Itdisplayednosignboard,butintothebowl,capandclothing Stonenodded.Hedidn’tcarehow lookedlikeaconveniencestore with him. His hands, the last of sooddacreature,andoneso

SavagePlanets I 42

distant from Earth, had learned English.

theman.“Butparkingonmylot where everyone heads who forlongerthanfifteenminutes comeshere.Seethosesparse willrunyoutenpisces.Andif green trees by that shimmering “Sorry,butI’mnotselling,”saidyou’regoingtowanderaround blue lake a quarter mile over?” He Stone. “Is this your lot?” here,you’llneedabettermask. pointedtowhatStonetooktobe KeepyourAviatorsonatalltimes, anoasis.“Headoverthere.It’sa “Igotsomethinginasporty andI’drecommendsnowshoes mirage,butitfoolseveryone.He’ll Galaxy Runabout for a man like instead of those rubbers. No beoutthatwayifanything’sleft you,”hereplied.“Lowlight-yearspuddleshere,justalot-ofquick of him.” andwellmaintained.Topvalue sand-like for dust. Snowshoes are your trade-in.” yourbestbet.Allthatplusthe “AllrightifIflyover?”saidStone. information you need will run you “I’mlookingforaman,”said fiftypisces.” “Iwouldn’t,”saidtheman.“Dust Stone. “Around thirty, well-built, stormcomingin.You’dbeblind handsome like me.” He showed As Stone took out his wallet, the intheair.Yourmanwon’tbe themanaphotoonhisphone. manstoodup.Movingslowly, far, even with a three“He’swanted.” he entered his establishment, day lead. Here,” he returningwithafloppymaskandtossed something “That’snotanofficialvehicle, pair ” ofbroadsnowshoes.Thesesolid at Stone, themansaid,referringtoStone’s hehandedtoStoneinexchange something cruiser.“Youabountyhunter?”for the money. Then, sitting on the Stonecouldn’t groundbyhisbowloncemore, see. “On the “Moralexemplar,”saidStone. he went through the dust-to-man house. You transformation as if it bored him. mightfindit “Sure,foraprofit,”saidtheman. useful.” Atthat,hedisintegratedonce “TheProton’sbackthere,”the more into his bowl. His hands manpointedwithhisthumbto Stone saw rosetosprinklehisdust,and some he placebehindhim,“what’sarefraction reappeared,allinseconds. leftofit.Pilotalmostcrashof land sunlight and ed about three days ago, so guessed the right “What’shewantedfor?” he’slikelyinthesameshape spot.Hepickedupa I’min.Thechangefrommanto transparentbowl. “Snobbery, among other violadustdoesn’ttakelong,twoor tions,”saidStone.Hepocketed three days at most. After that, “Awordofadvice,”saidtheman. hisphone.“Mostlyotherthings. you’resiftingeveryminuteto“Without find a bowl, Willoughby is Incorporatedwilltakehimdead yourself, or if you know how.” As if likely gone, mixed in with all the alive.” to demonstrate his meaning, he other dust. The stuff is shifting againbecameastreamofdust andendless.It’stheremainsof “Snobs are the worst,” said the into his bowl, and then dug himeveryone who ever lived here, man.“What’sheflying?” self out whole again. countlessmillionsoffolks, - theen tireancestryoftheplanet,nowall “230blueProton.‘BorntoRun’ “Thepilot,Willoughbyyousay, dust. Plants and animals, same impressedononewing.Hisnamewon’thavestayedinhisbird,”thefate. Visitors turn to dust in a isWilloughby.Hehasalongscar man went on. “Likely he headed onhisleftcheekandalongerrap sheet.” “I might have some information,” said 43 I SavagePlanets

fewdays,likeIsaid,sodon’t - lincruiserandtookoffon-snow Willoughby, “I like it here. Come ger.There’snofuturehere,only shoes,hopinghewasn’ttoolate. getme.”Hecascadedbodilyinto thepast—eventhepastturns Hewas to inluck;inonlyafewmin hisbowl,hishandsfinallypitching dust.” uteshespiedhisman,scarandthebowlanditscontentsintothe all, sitting in the shade of a large surrounding dust. “If Willoughby is dust,” said Stone, reddishrock.AsStonewatched, “Icanbringhimbackwiththis Willoughbycollapsedhead-first Stone knelt adroitly and grabbed bowl, the way you do yourself.” intoatransparentbowljust atlike theflyingdust,buthishand thelot’sowner,hisdisembodied passedrightthroughtheparticles “Maybe,” said the man. “If you handsbringinghimbacka-mo Hesnatchedupthelastpartof knowwheretosift,youcan mentlater.Preoccupied,hefailed Willoughbytodissolve,whichwas alwaysthrowacoupleofhandfuls tonoticeStone. his right hand. This he stuffed inthebowlandseewhat - hap intoajacketpocketjustasthe pens.Willoughbymightreappear, Stonecreptupwithhisphoneappendagecrumbled.Thatgave butlikelynot.Ifhe’sgoodand outandsilentlyclickedaphoto himenoughDNAtobackupthe scattered,amillionmensifting ofWilloughby’sbemusedface, photo.Ifthatdidn’tturnthetrick, amillionyearswon’tturn sendingtheimagetohiscruiser he’dabandonhisprofession. himup.Notwhole,anycomputer.Hisphonepingedwith way. I meant the bowl apositiveIDontheretinalmatch “Looks like you were too late,” for you.” inseconds.Thatclinchedit,not said the lot man when Stone that there was any doubt. trudgedback,apparently - emp “Thanks,” said ty-handed. The man was sitStone, “but I “Hello, Willoughby,” Stone said, ting where Stone had left him. don’tplantostick revealing himself. “Enjoying the Grinningenigmatically,Stone around that long. view?” droppedatwenty-piscesnoteinto I have three days, his bowl. right?” “Who wants to know?” said Willoughby, looking over his bowl “IfIevercomebackthisway,” “Two or three days,” at Stone. saidStone,“youcantellmehow said the man. those bowls work. Yours and the “Youledmeonamerrychase,” one you gave Willoughby, or more “Whydoesanyonecome saidStone,removingapair likely sold him.” here?” said Stone, taking in the ofhandcuffsfromhisjacket. desolation. “Thoughtyoulostmebackinthe Hewalkedontowardhis-cruis IotaDistrict,eh?Let’sgo.” er, leaving the lot owner looking “It’stheperfectunplanned get puzzled,ormaybemiffed.The away,” said the man. “My used “Icouldusearideoutofhere,” dust-mandidn’tknoweverything; birds are on sale today and every saidWilloughby.“I’llpayyou.” nosignofanystormcoming, day,too.Youcan’tbeatmyprices either.Countingallhisexpenses, anywhere in the universe.” “Incorporatediscovering includingrefuelingatleasttwice allexpenses,”saidStone.“Move beforereachinganIncorporated Wearing his new mask, Stone it.” headquarters, Stone would end stowed his extra gear in upwellahead.Timetofireupand his “Onsecondthought,”said lift off before he needed that bowl himself.

SavagePlanets I 44

45 I SavagePlanets

By Anthony D Redden

The chaperone placed a hand gently but firmly on his back to support the old man’s head. Then he put a finger into the man’s waiting mouth. Allan sucked upon the robot's digit as it released a jet of nebulised medication. He eagerly breathed it in, filling his lungs with the relieving drug to calm his breathing."

Extraterrestrial Fiction


The inner workings of his lung,andgenerallife-supportwas disappearedfromthepublic hands were visible beneath the nolongerasustainableoption. consciousness. near-transparentlayersofskin. He wasfinallydying,andall Allan Itwasn’tuntilmanyyearslater wiggledhisfingersandwatched themedicaladvancementsof thatAllan’sstorywasagainof the veins and sinew squirm and thetwenty-thirdcenturystillhad interest, as millions of tethered popastheycollidedwithhis notyeteradicateddeath,merely humanswatched,heunder phalangealbones.Allanwas - un pusheditback. wentthefirstextensive - bio-re impressedbytheoldmanhehad Allanhadbeentheworld’sfirst pairandofficiallybecamethe become.Hehadtoadmit,though, successfulcybernetichybrid,the world'soldestlivinghuman. thatitwasn’tbadforsomeone firsthumantobetetheredtoaThat was a long time ago, and who had outlived their natural life robotcounterpartfrombirth.Allan’s He newfoundfamewas atleastfivetimesover. hadbeenbornacelebrityand notjustasthefirstsuccessful Alltheartificialenhancements and grown upunderaglobaleyeof hybrid,butasthebenchmark transplantedorganswere, howequalscrutinyandadoration.of Bywhat everyone else might ever,finallynotenoughto- main thetimetheyapprovedthe - ‘chap expectasthey,too,reacheda tain him anymore. He had grown erone’programforpublicroll-out, once-unimaginableage. toooldandtooweak;evenhis everyonehadflockedtogettheir Allanandhischaperonewere humanoidcompanionthatacted cybernetictether,andAllan’s thepioneersinasymbiotic ashistissueincubator,artificial notorietywaned.Hequickly SavagePlanets I 46

unionofhumanandartificial Thefacelessfigurenoddedever Withnimblehands,thechaperone intelligence.Itheraldedthem so as slightlyinresponse. expertlyreleasedthelatch,which the next stage in human evolution, securedthetubesandwirestothe “If you are sure, Allan.” butnowtheworldwatchedwith wallpanel.Themachineoffereda interest as Allan slowly died. finaldoublebeepbeforeitsmotor “Yes,I’msure.” whirredtoahalt.Thechaperone Theoldmanclenchedafist,but Allan grabbed the assortment of openedapanelinhistorsoand there was no strength in it and the tubesandwiresthatprotruded attachedthetubeswithasingle effort left him shaking. A white, fromhischestandconnectedhim twist,hissyntheticbodytaking metallichandgentlyplacedupon tothelife-supportmachinethat sat over thelifeprolongingprocesses hisowncalmedthetremor.Itwas withinthewallofhissmallcubicle. thatkepthisfriendbreathing. asmooth,icyhand,sleekand He gave the tubes a gentle tug beautifullycrafted,astarkcontrast The robot looked at Allan and, with andanexpectantnodtohisfriend. tothefeeblefleshandboneit Thechaperonestoodandplaced aconcernedtone,asked,“Howdo gentlycaressed. you feel?” a reassuring hand on the old

man’sshoulder. Allanliftedhisgazetohislifelong “I’mokay.Jimmy,you’redoinga companion,guardian,andfriend. “YourealiseI’mgoingtogetinto good a job. You always do a good Asmooth,featurelessface,as lot of trouble for this,” warned the job.” perfectlycraftedasthehand.It robot in a gentle tone. Withgreatcare,ittransferredthe looked at the old man and, with a old man from his bed to a wheelThe old man smiled. gentle, silent nod, reassured him chair.Allangrabbedtherobot's he was safe and that even in the “Just like old times.” armandgaveitathankfultap. last moments of his life, he was “Good man.” not alone. Therobotpausedinmomentary contemplationbeforenodding.Thehospitalwasbustlingwith “Jimmy, I think I want to go for that activity.Doctorsandnurses hur walknow.”Allan’svoicewasraspy“Just like old times.” ryingtokeepatopoftheirduties, and dry. consultants,andmedicalstudent Allan’ssmilebroadened.

47 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

intow,eachobservingandadvis Pioneers.Thefirst…” theycommonlyreferredtoas ing. Patients all tentatively availing the‘beak’. “…andneverbetter,myfriend.” themselvestoexamination.Each Theoldmanfinishedhiscompan Thebeakwasasmallplatform human,coupledwithahumanoid ion’ssentence. that overhung the vast elevapartner,movedinunison,compli torshaftsthatdroppeddown mentingeachaction,andassisting “Indeed.” toseeminglyendlessfloorsin ineachgestureasanextension “Thefirsttobetethered,and thelowerdepthsofthefacility, of their own body and mind. For deepereventhantheocean the longestlastingconnection. thosepatientsthatweretoo frail or floor.Theshaftsdescendedto There’snothingweweren’tthe incapacitatedtoengagewiththe the foundation levels, where firsttodo.Youandme,Jimmy. nurses,theirchaperoneadvocat the vast stasis bunkers housed Thetrailblazers.” ed on their behalf. many of the remaining hu“Like Bonnie and Clyde.” Allan emerged out of the blue sanmans;thosethatstillhadnot itationlightthatkepthisroomfree yetundergonethecybernetic “More like Laurel and Hardy.” Allan fromcontaminants.Heremained tethering that would save huchuckledathisjoke,whichturned quietandsuppressedthewaves manityfromextinction. intoacough. ofpainthatwashedthroughouthis Eventhesolarfiltershielding body. Pain that would otherwise Thechaperoneplacedahand theearthcouldnolonger - effec causehimtowinceorcryout.He gentlybutfirmlyonhisbackto tivelydeflectthesun' - sradi stoicallyremainedemotionless, supporttheoldman’shead.Then ation. Its rays drove humans hopingthathewouldnotdraw heputafingerintotheman’s - wait deepbeneaththeoceansinto attention to himself. ingmouth.Allansuckeduponthe vast networks of underwater robot'sdigitasitreleasedajetof Despitetheirfame,oncedressed citiestoescapeitsdeadly nebulisedmedication.He-eager inthesamegreenhospitalgown effects. lybreatheditin,fillinghislungs astheotherpatients,they imme withtherelievingdrugtocalm hisdesigned the beak They diately blended in with the busy breathing. platformtoserveasaunique throngofactivity.Theoldman visual feature of the observaand his friend weaved their way “You always found your own jokes tiondeck,butfewdaredwalk throughthecrowdsandtowardfunnierthananyoneelse’s.” overthetransparentfloor. the nearest elevator. There was a Thewheelchairglidedsilently The doors to the elevator slid brief wait before the double doors over open to reveal the vast expanse ofthe glass, followed by the silentlyslidopen,andtheyhastily delicateclip-clipofrobotfeet. theupperobservationdeck.From disappearedwithin.Allanreached Recessedinthebeak'swall here, someone could look out outafeeblearmtopressthe but was another elevator. This was into the vastness of the endless tonfortheobservationdeck,but a rarely used shaft reserved for ocean. This was the highest point hiscompanionbeathimtoit. maintenance workandrestrict ofthestationthatcivilians could “Thatwasclose.”Therobot accessandtheclosestpublicedonlytothosewithspecial sounded relieved. areathatwassafefromsurfaceclearance.Withaswipeofthe chaperone’shand,thedoorslid radiation. Theoldmanchuckled. open,andtheyentered. At this early hour in the morning, “Jimmy,areyousureyou’reokay “Okay, now we might get into it was always going to be mostwiththis?It’snotgoingtofryyour trouble.” Allan smiled at his lyempty.Justafewnightowls, programmingoranything,willit?” friend. oceangazingandpeacefully Thechaperoneshookhishead. relaxingbeneaththeripplingshine “Might?” of moonlight through the water. “Still with the jokes, old man.” “Bythetimetheyfindus,I’llbe “Youcantalk.ImaybetheoldestThe arrival of the old man and his dead,soI’mfine.” robotcompanionwentunnoticed. human, but you are the oldest They quietly emerged from the elchaperone.Rememberthat!” “Nice.” evatorandsnucktheirwayacross “You never let me forget. Pioneers The old man laughed until he thesoftcarpetedpromenadeand Allan,that’swhatweare, coughedagain,andJimmy upabroadinclinetowardswhat SavagePlanets I 48

quicklyprovidedhimwithanother ofpassingthroughtotheoutside lookat.EventhroughtheUVfilter nebuliser treatment. ontheelevator’stannoy: that surrounded the station, Allan had to squint, and the bright glare Themaintenanceelevatorwas‘Warning:Restrictedaccessonly. immediatelybecamealmosttoo smallandprovidedlittleroom High forradiationlevelsdetected muchtobear.Theairwashumid movement.Therewasnochoice ahead;properprotectivegear and dense, but fresh, and Allan ofdestination;itwentdirectly required. to Youmustactivatethe breatheditindeeply,savouring oneplace,thepylon.Thepylon commandkeyauthorisationto the taste of natural oxygen. was one of hundreds of satellite continue.’ unitsbeyondthefacility’ssurface Theoldmanreachedoutahand Therobotswipedahandacross andwastheonlystructurethat asifhecouldtouchthemoon. thecontrolpanel;athinredlight reachedbeyondtheshieldingto scannedupanddownhiswrist “Weproperlyfuckedthisplanet thesurfaceoftheplanet. beforeitchangedthesafety pre up,didn’twe?” “You realise the radiation outside cautioncommandkeyfromredto “Speakforyourself.”Therobot will kill you in minutes.” green,andtheelevatorcontinued repliedwithasmirk. itsjourneyupwards. “Jimmy....” “What was it you wanted to ask Theelevatorfinallystopped,anda “Andyou’restillsureyouwantto me, Jimmy?” secondarysmalldooropenedonto end it like this?” ashortbalconythatperchedupon “Itwasmoreofaproposalthana apillarseveralhundredfeetquestion. above “If the last thing I see is the moon Agift,Isuppose.” sea level. A fierce ocean roared withmyowneyes,thenIcandie “Youdon’tneedtogivemea and fought beneath them, while a acontentedman.It’sthelastthing gift,yousillyoldsod.Spending viciousstormraged.Allanwasat tocrossoffonmybucketlist, a lifetime with you has been gift oncecoldandwetfromthethick Jimmy;youknowthat.” enough. If not for you, I would oceanmistthatbombardedthem. “I know. I just have a question.” have died long ago and missed Neitherofthemwerepreparedfor thespectacletheywouldface. out on so many things.” Theelevatorsuddenlycametoan abrupthalt,andawarningalarm Above,themoonblazedsoclose “Allan?”Therobot'stonewas chimed.Anautomatedcaution and so large it was terrifying to serious. informedtheoccupantsoftherisk

49 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

“Jimmy,we’vespokenaboutthis have administered a sedative to sonholdingherclose,prevent before, and no, you mean too easetheprocedure.” ingherfromcollapsingingrief muchtome.It’smytime,and to the ground. “No,Jimmy,please!”hebegged. that’sthewayofthings.I’mtired, “Dad!OhGod,no.Jimmy,how anddespitethewonderfuljob“If you Istopnow,weshallbothdie, couldyou!”criedhisson. do,Iache,andI’msoverytired. so you best behave and let me do Tobehonest,I’mkindoflooking this for you.” Thedoctorpushedhiswayto forwardtoanicesleep.Doctor thefrontofthecrowd,buthis Stephenscanfinallykissmyarse;Theoldmangrippedthewristof chaperoneputanarmoutand his friend. Tears welled in his eyes that’sgottobeawin.Andnomore heldhimback. ofJacob’stediouswarstories. as he sobbed. “Nancy?”afamiliar,yet Thinking about it all, this will be a “This was not what I wanted, strangelysynthetic,voice sweet relief.” Jimmy;youknowIwouldnever calledoutoverthegathering. “Webothknowthat’sbullshit,haveaskedyouforthis.It’stoo“Nancy,isthatyou?” much.” Allan.” Thewoman’ssonloosenedhis Theoldmanpushedhimselffrom “Iknowyoudidn’task;butInevergripatthenameofhismoth gaveyouachance.ItisIwho hiswheelchairintothearmsof erbeingcalled.Thewoman couldnotbeartobewithoutyou, his friend, and they both slowstifledhertearstolooktowards my friend.” ly lowered to the ground. The thevoice.Allan’schaperone Chaperoneclaspedtheoldman, steppedoutoftheelevator, as Allan rested his head in the carryingthebodyofhisfriend, android’slapsothathecouldThe look observationdeckfilled withablanketdrapedoverhim upatthemoonthatshonethrough withmurmuringvoices,sharing inrespect. thebrokenclouds. theconcernandworrybythose gathered.Atechnicianandhis “Nancy.”Thevoicecalled “Theyknowwe’vegone.”The again,butthevoicecamefrom chaperonekneltbythemainte robotspoke.Asmallflashinglight the robot. nanceelevatordoor,attempting on his wrist informed Jimmy their tooverrideitscontrols.Acouple “Dad?” absencehadbeenreported. ofsecurityguardsheldbackthe crowdtogivethemspacetowork.Thewomanstaggeredback. “Letthemcome.”Theoldman’s Shepushedherson’s-em skin reddened and blistered from “I’mnotdetectinganylifesigns. braceawayandmadeherway theradiationthatwasquickly Theyhaveterminated,”reported forward. All the while, her eyes burninghisflesh.Hehardly- no Allan’snurse. fixeduponthefeaturelessface ticed.“I’llbedeadbythetimethey of the robot. Her hand shook findus.” Agasprosefromthecrowd. asshereachedouttotouch “About that.” “Whatareyousaying?He’s him. dead?”Awomanscreamedatthe “Jimmy,nomore,please.” “Nancy,it’sme,yourfather. doctor'schaperone. Somehow,it’sme.Ididn’t-be “Buttheprocesshasalready be “Whathemeanstosayis,I’m lievehecoulddothat.” gun, my friend.” afraidyourfatherisgone.I’m “Idon’tunderstand,”sheturned sorry.”Thedoctorintervened.“His Allanturnedhisheadtolookup brieflytothedoctor,thenback attherobot’sface.Hereached chaperoneisbringingAllan’sbody toJimmy,asking,“What’s back,walkinghisfingersuphis backnow.” happened?” ownneckonlytofindtherobot's “Iwillkillthatbloodymachine!” spreadacrosshiscraniumand “Jimmyswappedplaceswith affixedtohisskull.Allanfeltthe The elevator doors slid silently me.Myconsciousnessisin nauseabuildingupinhim,and opentorevealthetall,sleekhim, figure andhis….” hismindswirledwithaconcoc ofachaperone.Cradledwithinhis tionofmedicationsandelectrical firmgripwasthelifelessbodyof The robot looked down at the lifeless body in his arms. discharges. Allan. The woman burst into uncontrollablesobsofsadness,her “Thediscomfortwillbebrief.I SavagePlanets I 50


O Me


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

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

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4 The Crossing by Cass Richards

Hewokupithawetpinkhodieinhishand, Onadistantbeach,withouiswifeandchild Havingfolwedhisdreamsofaforeignland. Hehaduprotedhm,havingsavedandplanned, Bythesongsofcunterfeitsirensbeguiled, Butendeupwithawethodieinhishand. gTo ethrtheyadcrosedanoceanofsand, Andthefalingcitiesofhumansgonewild, Havingfolwedhisdreamsofaforeignland. Thenonenightheywreshovd,jutlikecontraband And,onasmallboat,heyflirbodiespiled. Hewokupithanoldpinkhodieinhishand,

53 I SavagePlanets

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.

SavagePlanets I 54

55 I SavagePlanets

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57 I SavagePlanets

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yb Jamal Hodge

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"Alien Cave Drawings" 61 I SavagePlanets

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


can't help thinking somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man. Has to be." Taylor Planets of the Apes

SavagePlanets I 62



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

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"Embedded Microchip" SavagePlanets I 64

" Space Assassin" 65 I SavagePlanets



on't forget, I'm half-human. So that fifty percent of me that's stupid, that's a hundred percent you." Peter Quill Avengers: Infinity War

SavagePlanets I 66



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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"Alien Departure" SavagePlanets I 68

SUBSPACE SUB SPACE 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.


was walking home from work when I saw a man following me. It was only after I turned around and shot him that I noticed he was my clone desperate to deliver a message that now I will never receive." Jamal Carter

69 I PlanetsRising


was driving in my car when I swerved to avoid a woman who suddenly appeared in the middle of the road. I lost control of my car and smashed head on to an oncoming car, killing the driver who turned out to be the woman's husband returning from an extramarital affair." Clive V. Reyna


woke up in a cold sweat. This was very unusual for my people, as we live exclusively under water." Jaspal Boone


he received her tri-valent vaccine booster today. It would immunize her against jealousy, greed and haste." Jena Mcmillan

SavagePlanets I 70


found a diary in my attic from the previous owners of my house. The last entry was dated the day after they were murdered." Paul Goldsmith


ay showers. They always bring April flowers." Steve Behram, MD


recounted to the divorce judge my vivid memories of getting up in the middle of the night to care for my children when they were babies. He told me that, in fact, I never had children and my wife is divorcing me because of these very delusions." Jimmie Lopez

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e stared at the Google search bar in absolute shock and horror. The AI search assistant had correctly anticipated and filled out his search request before he, himself, had any awareness of what he wanted to type into the search box." Zaina Bryant


e had lost any freedom of choice regarding his ability to move in any cardinal direction. He deduced from this simple fact that he must have inadvertently entered into a black hole." Donald Peralta

SavagePlanets I 72


RAIDERS By Avram Lavinsky

The blue room ripples, becomes translucent, a bubble, a plastic sphere surrounding her head. Her throat is parched, lled with memory dust; she chokes a little, and someone removes the sphere, pulling tubes out of her nose. With a snotty gasp, she breathes easily, weirdly refreshed." 73 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction There would never be an I sat down at the little table and not what it was before the EpsilonComplex,notwith straightenedmyhairclip. outbreak.” AlphaComplexdead.The adults never used the term Afterspooninguseacha Aftersweepinghisseconds dead, but at dinner, I had a platefulofCentauri - mush into his mouth, Darius lowclearviewofAlphaComplex rooms,MomcutupDarius’s eredhisplatenexttomine.I’d fromourkitchenwindow.Thick- foodniceandsmall,likeshe savedmyplumpestmushroom treadedconstructionvehicles always did. And, like always, forlast.Dariusreachedover remainedparkedinthesame heliftedhisplatetohismouth anddraggeditontohisplate unchangingrow,theircockpits sohecoulddevoureverything withhisthumbandforefinger. empty,theircoatingofsand on it animal-style. She ate her Hepulledhisplatebackwitha andspacedustgrowingthicker own dinner, leaning against the smug grin. witheachpassingweek. counter,thenservedDarius seconds.Onlyahalfaplateful. GamaComplexboasteda Behind them, the windows of Helookedup,allglassy-eyed, fewfreakishlyover-sized‘little’ thehexagonallivingspaces asifshe’dmurderedhisbest kids,butDariustoppedthe andarchedproduction - han friend. list. He was six years younger gars loomed dark and lifeless. than me, but stood taller than Further east, beyond a few “TherestI’msavingforyour some kids in my grade. He had craters,Epsilon’slowmazeof father.”Sheputanother - plate anoversizedforehead,ironic foundationwallszigzagged, ful aside. “I would have bought givenhisnearcompletelackof never to rise any higher. more,butthefoodsupply’s brainfunction.

SavagePlanets I 74

Ireachedoverandgrabbedmy Dad would laugh and tell me I had Darius was born?” mushroombackjustasMomturned plentyoftimetothinkaboutit. to us. I raised the mushroom to my Idid.Thenitoccurredtome.“So mouth,hopingtoeatitbeforeIgot Imemorizedthenamesofthe Mom’spregnantagain?” scolded. ribbons,eventheonesIcouldn’t un derstand, like the words of a song in Dad nodded. Shedroveherpalmsintomyjaw. aforeignlanguage:mer Mychairtippedbackwards.The itoriousservice, - occu “Could she lose the baby, like the seat-backcrashedtothefloor,and pationservice,gallant ry one she had before Darius?” We myheadsmackedagainstthehard cross,joint - ser vice neverspokeofit,butIhadmemo tiles. achievement.Overtime,Dadgrewries of Mom tearful in her bed harder to talk to. I knew nothing of for weeks. “Don’tyouevertakefoodoutofhis the ribbons he earned over the last mouth!Doyouhearme?!”Mom’s fiveorsixyears. “Ihopenot.” forearmspressedintomychest. She bared her bottom teeth, nearHiscallendedwithcurtsalutes. Outside our winlytouchingmynose.Herbrows dow,afewcarcrumpledoverwildeyes.HerhotKnowingMomwouldbebacksoon, rion-bots breath,stillsharpandspicyfrom Igathered the mycouragetospeakto mushrooms,brushedmyface. himwhilewestillhadsomeprivacy. “Dad... if I was worried about Mom, I Thebackofmyheadthrobbed. couldtellyou,right?” Tearsfilledmyeyes.“Itwasjusta mushroom.” “Youcantellmeanything,Nectaria.” Hecheckedhimselfinthemirror andsmoothedoutsomevertical creasesbelowhisshoulders. Dadpacedbackandforthashe - lis tenedtosomeofficersreportabout “But, I mean, if I told you she technicalstuffIcouldn’tfollow. wasacting..weird,thatshewas scaringme,woulditbeokay,not Atightpatternofcoloredbars disrespectful and oranything…ifwe blocksdecoratedhisdressuniform talked about it, you and me?” abovethepocketontheleftsideof fought hischest.WhenIwaslittle,Iused Dad turned around to look at me. over distopesterDaduntilheexplained cardedjunkin whateachnewblockofcolormeant. A vague memory of his smell the thin Cronus Therewasoneforeachcampaign, whenIwaslittlepassed Five air. Rows of legs oneforeachmoon.Hissquadron through my mind, but he had rippledandfanned helpedclaimfortheempire. changedsomuchsince along worm-like bodies then. Everything had. crawlingovereach Dadalwaysplayedthemdown. other for a Some moons, he said, were tiny, “Oh,Isee.Well…yourmom morsel of the battles mere skirmishes. IllandIwerethinkingit’dbe half-spent defendedoutpostssurrendering betterwith if we talked with you energycells. noresistance. aboutthislater.Butsinceyou broughtitup,maybeIbetter I left our Looking over those small tokens of set things straight.” His eyes unit theyearswespentwithouthim,assessed I me for a moment. while told him I would be a moon raider “You’rethirteennow.Idon’t Dad myselfoneday,displayingachestthinkit’srighttohidethings was still fullofblockyribbonsofmyown. fromyou.”Hepaused.“Doyou busy in his remember how Mom was before office,andMomwasstillout. 75 I SavagePlanets

I knew the occupants. Elena

Anakalýpto, or Dr. Anna to anyone that knew her, was a mission specialist. She alwayscalled me “dear” and offered me cut tings from her jungle of beautiful plants.Petra was a systems engineer. Short andblocky,shenever smiledandrarelyspoke.

plantsintoa and heaved thehopperofa

plasticbag buckleditshut,andslungitover them into herback.Drawingasmallcylin wastecart. dricalkeyfromherpocket,she lockedthepaneldoor.Itoccurred I gave the workers a wide berth tomeIdidn’tknowwhetherPetra andcontinueddownthehall. washerfirstnameorlast. One more turn brought me to the accessshaft.Iliftedthehatch “Do and yourparentsknowyou’re descendedintothetunnels.down here?” asked Dr. Anna.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Beyond the fork in the main corridor, workers in hazmat suits buzzed around a unit.

Glowingringseverytenpaces I tried a little too hard to think of an bathed the surrounding walls in answer that would satisfy her. justenoughlighttoseeby.Ikept my head low to avoid the “Iguessthat’sa‘no.’” hangingpipes and bundled cables.My destination I shrugged. “I thought you two was a favorite chamberat were in quarantine?” theintersectionoffivepassages, tall enough to stand in and wide Petrasnappedherheadtowards enoughtostretchoutontheme. stone “Well, we took ourselves out floor.Iwentthereoftentothink. ofquarantine,sokeepyourmouth Givenrecentevents,Mom’shead shut.”Shekeptherreddish-brown mightexplodeifsheknew,butI hair an odd length, halfway down liked the freedom I felt there. her forehead and just beyond her ears, giving her head a wide look. I always stayed alert for the sound She gave off a sweet, ashy smell. ofmaintenanceworkers,soittook Or maybe they both did. mebysurprisewhenIwalkedinto thechambertoseetwowomen. “Petra!”Dr.Annaglaredather companion.Thenshesighed. Ifroze. “Nectaria,we’refine,really… well,maybealittlegrumpy.”She The older woman stood with one frowned at Petra. “Promise you hipagainstthestonywall.Surprise won’ttellanyone,willyou,dear?” showed in her eyes, but she gatheredherself.“Hello,Nectaria.“Okay. ” Sure,Ipromise.You’rea doctor.Iguessyou’dknow.” Atfirst,Icouldn’tplacethefacein the dim lighting, but the waves of “I’mnotthatkindofdoctor.I’ma gray hair and the way she folded xeno-botanist.” herarmssparkedamemory.“Dr. Anna?” “Uh, okay.” “Yes,dear.It’sme.”

She grinned at me humorously. “It meansIknowalienplants.” Realizingthatthewoman- tinker ingwithsomethinginawallpanel “Oh. Yeah, sure.” labeled‘Ventilation’wasPetra,I nodded at both of them. Petra shot She looked down the tunnel to her meadefensivescowlandquickly right. swungthepaneldoorshut. Withthicklyglovedhands, Ifollowedherglance.“Whereare aworkerstuffedtwotallflowering Sheputatoolintoherpack, you two headed?” SavagePlanets I 76

“None of your business,” said Petra.

thatseparatedGamafromBetapods.Theyfellandrattledtothe Complex,Dr.Annatappedabut ground. “BetaComplexhydroponics, - ”an tontoopenthepressuredoor.It swered Dr. Anna. buzzed,andwestoodclearasthe “Are you going to eat those?” I weighty metal oval unsealed and asked Petra. Petra rolled her eyes. swungopen. Shedidn’tanswer.Turningoffthe “Why do you ask? Are you lost or Westeppedthrough,andPetra polelaserandsettingitdown,she something, dear?” tappedthebuttonontheother took side. asilverdiskfromherpackand Theredlightglowed.Fiveseconds placeditonahip-highwall.She “Yeah.CanIcomewithyou?” later,thedoorbuzzedalouderdroppedapodontothedisk.The warning,andswungclosedwithapodglowedred,andatansmoke “You’renotactinglost,”saidPetra. clangthatechoedendlesslyin rose. thePetrainhaledthesmoke - deep passage. ly through her nose. “Please?Ijustwanttocheckitout.” After a while, I wondered if we had Dr. Anna joined her and did the “You’renotafraidtojointwoadults passedthroughBetaComplexall same. She waved me over. “Come who took themselves out of quarthewaytothecommandposts smell this, dear.” antineandheadtoBetaComplex, ofDelta ” Complex.ThenDr.Anna said Dr. Anna, “even with all that climbedaladderandliftedahatch. Idriftedtowardthembutdidn’tlea peoplearesayingaboutthatplace?” WepoppedupintheBetaComplex into the stream of smoke. “Are we hydroponicsdome.I’dneverbeendoingthisbecausesomethings “I guess not. What have you heard there before. wrong with the air here?” I asked. about it?” I knew what the kids at schoolsaid;IknewwhatMomsaid, BoxyretainingwallssetapartPetrastoleaglanceatDr.Annaand butitdidn’talwaysmakesense. tall fruit trees from lush desert exhaled. “The oxygen level in Gama plantsandrowsofherbswith is more than high enough to sustain “Well,peopleinGamaComplexare jagged-edged leaves. Further on, life.” sayingpeopleinBetaComplexare dozensofvibrantflowersIcouldn’t tryingtoconcealanoutbreak,”name. said Nothing looked rotten. The “You really should try it, dear,” said thedoctor.“And,ofcourse,people placesmelledfreshandflowery. Dr.Anna.“It’sapleasantfragrance. inBetaComplexaresayingthe Everything was in full bloom. Breathedeeply.” samethingaboutGamaComplex.” Dr. Anna wandered between two tidy Ibentoverandinhaledthescent. “What do you say?” rowsoftreestoapatchofknee-high It was okay. Even sweeter than the stalksthatendedincone-shaped, air in the rest of the dome. Knowing She leveled her eyes at me knowpurpleflowers. thatmyparentswouldexpectme ingly.“IsaythatBetaComplexis home, I left Dr. Anna and Petra just as safe as Gama.” Petradroppedherpack.Shetook there a half hour later and returned outathickrod.Shedrewtheends through the tunnels to Gama. “Mom said all the fruit is rotting on apart.Onceittelescopedtoalength the trees there.” about the same as her own height, shelockeditwithatwist.Atthe “Did she?” pressofabutton,itbuzzed,andaSchoolwasasboringasever.Iwas hook-shapedbluelightappeared inon algebrawhenasounddistracted “That’swhyallourfoodissorancid. one end. me,ahissing,slurpingsound.Itried Exceptthemushrooms.” topinpointit,lookingattheother Petra walked to the base of some kids.Ms.Talbotcalledonmyneigh Dr. Anna started down a tunnel and treeswithbroadfrondsatthe bor, top Aster. He had on his signature motioned for me to follow her. Petra andhangingbrownpodsbelow.Shecut-offvestmadefromhisfather’s walkedbehindmeinsteelysilence. raisedthehookedshapedlaser, flight and jacket.Thoughlongandlanky, itcrackledassheswungthelight he was still a head shorter than his Whenwecametothebulkhead bladeacrossthestemsofthethick absurdly tall dad. Aster might grow 77 I SavagePlanets

Atclasses’end,Ihurriedontowardsthestampedein themaincorridor.Astercaughtuptome,takinglong stridesonhisspindlylegs.“Nectaria.How’sitgoing?” “Sure.Everything’sfine.” “You want to study math together?” Theinvitationcaughtmeoffguard.We’dspentalotof timetogetherwaybackbeforeDariuswasborn,but notlately.“Sorry,Ihaveotherclassestocatchupon first.Myparentsareonmeaboutmysciencegrades.” I walked ahead, leaving him. “Thatsucks,”Hecalledafterme.“Maybenexttime.”

Extraterrestrial Fiction

intothatvestsomeday,butfornow,itcamedown I ran into Dr. Anna and Petra at the same fork in the robe-likebehindhiskneesinthechair.Astertunnels, explained and they led howtofindx,basedontheequationontheboard,me off butbetweenhiswords,thathissing,slurpingsound returned.

I tried not to look edgy around my family as I did my homework,butIwaseagertofinishearlyandhead overtofindDr.AnnaandPetra. “Howwasschool?”Dad’svoicedroned,deepas always, but something hung in the air. I smelled thesoapandthecleanuniform,butsomethingelse mixedin,somethingsharp,somethingnoxious. Thenheputhishandonmyshoulder,andittookall thecourageIhadnottojump.Hishanddidn’tfeel right.Itfelthardandcold,likethedullsideofaknife. “Nectaria?” “Schoolwas..long.” “Workandparentingcanbeawholelotlonger,”said mymom,driftingovertoslipundermydad’sarm. “Enjoyschoolwhileyoucan.” Ifinishedmyhomeworkandheadedtothefrontdoor. through When Mom asked where I was going, I told her Aster the invitedmeovertostudymath.Whichwastrue. pressure doorback to Beta SavagePlanets I 78


breathing the smoke from these Complex.Everything’sshutdown pods?” inBeta.It’sspreadingfastinthe Upinthehydroponicsdome,Petra researchcenteratDelta,too.” went straight to the trees with the “Toclearourheads,dear.” broadfrondsandcutdownmore Dariusbumpedintomefrombehind, pods.Wegatheredthemand “Fromwhat?Ifyou’renotinfected, pushingpastmeintothedoorway.I breathed their smoke from the heat- why bother?” swiveled,readytogivehimakickin ed disk again. the shin. Dr.Annadidn’tanswer. Dr. Anna talked in low tones about Seeinghim,Ijumpedback.Twojag thetotalnumberofpodsleft,and Iconsideredtheirsituation.ged, “Maybe narrowjawsopenedsideways Petraaddedsomefactsaboutthe ifyoupleadyour caseto where his mouth should have been. ventilationsystem.Icouldn’tthe follow command center, He ran to Mom and hugged her, what they were saying. Finally, they youwouldn’t have buryinghisfaceagainstherside.At shook their heads, frowning. to hide.” herwaist,hishandwasn’tahandat all.Itwasalong,blackclawshaped Inthesilencethatfollowed,Dr.Petra’s stony likeasickle.Momjuststoodthere. Anna took a moment to look me face turned Noreaction. over. “Tough day?” towards me. “What Ibitmylipandtastedblood. “How’dyouknow?” makes you Dad stood and turned. Two side“Youlook…”sheconsidered.“… think we waysjaws,thesameonlymuch spooked.” haven’t?” bigger,workedthemselvesopen andshutashespoke.“Don’tbe Inodded.“Somethingweird-hap frightened.It’sallright,Nectaria.” pened.Mydadputhishandonme, butitdidn’tfeellikeahand.It Dad felt was Stomachacidroseintomythroat. coldandhard.And before on a conthat, I heard the creepiest ference call Momgazedupintomydad’seyes, soundcomingfrom Aster, arguing when buttheyweren’thiseyes,just thiskidI’veknownforever.” I went to say bulgingblackspheresthesizeofmy goodbye to fists. “Aster, from the unit two doors down him the next from yours? What kind of sound?” morning. I “Wehaveorderstoevacuate.”My waited in the dad’staperedclawmotioned to “Idon’tknow.Iheard itinclass doorwardsthedoorway.Butitwasn’tmy and then later when he talked way of his dad,justahorriblethingthatspok to me.” study. Mom withmydad’svoice. stood a “Didn’thisfamilycomehereafter few Growingfaint,Istaggeredbackinto the raid last year?” steps bethelivingroom;thewallsspinning. hind him, biting the Aster felt familiar edge ofherfingernail.Dad’s“Evacuate?”Mymomlookedfrom as an old blanket. shoulders were even oneofhisblackspherestothe Atleasthe’dfelt more rigid than usual. other,herchestrisingandfalling.“I that way to me until just then, but thereatransportcoming?” Dr.Annahadmeallconfusedabout Asthecallended,Momhugged him.He’dalwaysbeenthere.Or herselfandsteppedcloserto“With Dad. theraidingfleetrefueled,we had he? “What’swrong?What’shappened?”shouldbeabletotransport every one.”Arowofhair-liketentacles Changingthesubject,Iasked,“Why “Theoutbreak.It’sworsethanwe wavedashismouthopenedto arewespendingsomuchtime thought.There’snooneleftinAlpha speak.“They’realreadyloading 79 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

provisions.Therearetworally longpincersflashedaroundme, shouldersridingabovethecrowd. points.OursistheelementarybutIkeptlookingstraightahead.At school.” thesecondfork,thecrowdparted. She shouted something about not We followed the mass of bodies, gettingseparated.Asterhalted The others followed me into the takingtheleftpassage.Sodidand allturned towards her. His head livingroom.Araspingbuzzpulsedthefigureswiththegianteyespivoted and onaball-and-socketneck onandoff,andtheword‘evacua thepincersforhands. thatdisappearedintoarounded tion’flashedredonapanelalong ridgeabovethecollarofhiscutoff thetopofthewall.Belowit,a Only human forms veered right, vest.Thenhismonstrousface compartmentwithouremergency all of them older, none with young angledfurtherinmydirection. gobagsslidopenautomatically, children. andthecreaturethatsoundedlike Istoppedwalking.Bodies myfatherreachedinwithits sick Ahead of us was a family that lived streamedpastmewhilemyfamily le-shapedclaw. aroundthecornerfromus.Three moved on. preschool-agetripletsheldeach Myfacefeltcoldandmoistwithother’sclawsastheyfollowed Aster’sblackeyeslockedonto sweat. behindtheirparents. mine.Hisfatherscratchedathim. Asterpointedasickleclawinmy “It’sallright,kids.”Thehair-like Their mother, waddling and very direction.Hisfatherlookedover tentaclesinsidethecreature’s pregnant,turnedbacktolookthe at crowdatme.Thehorizontal sidewaysmouthfluttered,gurgling them.Shehadhumaneyesfilled bladesofhismouthopenedashe andhissingashespoke.“Don’t withconcernandahumanmouth motioned towards me. beafraid.We’llbejustfine.”Ashetightwithworry.Satisfiedthatall gestured,thick,blackhairsstuck threewerekeepingup,sheturned I drifted to the right wall. I turned out between segments of the shell- backtotheirfather,lookinginto away from him and leaned into likeskinofhispincers. hisgiantorbs,spellbound, - grab it, walking against the rush of bingthesleeveofhisjumpsuit. bodies. Iwasthankfultohaveanexcuse Protruding to from that sleeve was beterrified. anothercurvedclaw. Isawacheery-facedyoungwom anwalkingalongsideacreature, TheDariuscreaturewentinto There were three or four other herhandclaspingitsclaw.She thekitchenanddugthroughthe pregnantwomen,too.Alllookedlaughedassheapproachedme. cupboard,graspingatfoodbut human. Every father and young kid “Wrongrallypoint?” knockingmostofittothecounter was one of them. andthefloor. Aster’senormouseyessearched Ifeltnauseousagain.Thefloor outmineasheknifedcloser Momshoutedathimassheput tilted downward under my feet. I fell throughthecrowd,thehard sur anarmthroughherownpack. deeperintoitwitheachstep.faceofhisfaceflashingpinkfrom “Noextrastuff.Noextrasnacks.” theredevacuationsignsabove. Heradamanttonedidn’tlast“Watch long. whereyou’regoing!”Hair“Okay,fine.”Shewentafterhim liketentaclesfromamonstrous Isteppedpurposefully,fightingthe andunwrappedthreeproteinmouth bars. wagged at me. Something urgetorun,ignoringthepounding “Youbetterfinishthosebefore hard we shoved me in the ribs. inmyveins.Backatthefork,I reachyourschool,though.” followed the bodies, breaking to Isearchedforfamiliarfacesamong the right. Whenourfrontdoorslidopen,a the human ones. I saw a few kids streamofotherfamiliesfilled my the age. Then the frayed edges of “Stopher!”Astershoutedfrom passageway.Mymonstrousfather acut-offvestupaheadcaughtmytheotherbranch,hisvoicesharp joined them, taking the lead with eye.Asterpressedforwardwith abovethefootstepsandthe puls Darius at his side. I swallowed hard long-legged strides. His mother, ingbuzzofthealarm. and followed behind Mom. afewpacesbehind,struggled tokeepup,hisfatherbesideher Iquickenedmypaceandtriedto Glimpsesofgiant,blackeyesandwith his own head and rounded rush ahead of the surrounding SavagePlanets I 80

bodies without looking too nervous. startedemittingtheirenzymes, her their hip.Shestumbledandalmost Morevoicesrosefrombehindme. pheromones,brainwashingthefirst fell.Petrafollowedclosebehindme. Thecorridoremptiedintoanother peoplewhowelcomedthemand branch.Thecrowdthinned,andI then just worked their way through Thescratchescamefaster, - grow broke into a run. therestofthecomplex.” inglouder.Thecreatureheardus. Itwasgaining.Icouldn’toutrunit “Hey, slow down,” said a man with “Mymomisn’toneofthem,butshe alone,muchlesswithDr.Annain anofficer’sstarsandbarsonhis seemshypnotized,underthespell front of me. shoulders. ofthethingpretendingtobemy dad.” BehindPetra,twoblackpincers ap Iroundedthecornerandranfaster. peared,skiddingforwardalongthe Shoutsandmurmursofconfusion “That’swhythey’rehere.”Dr.Annastone sidewall. rose behind me. nodded somberly. “Remember that rashofinfantdeathsandmiscarriag - “Take this,” Petra shouted. Iturnedintoanothernarrowcorridor, es?Theydidthat.Theycan’tbirth still hugging the wall. Darting toward theirownyoung.Can’traisethem, I turned. theaccessshaftforthetunnels, either. I Theyhavetotrickahost col liftedthehatchandloweredmyself ony into doing it all for them.” Sheheldoutthesmallcylindrical down.Ipulleditshutbehindme, keyfortheventilationpanels.“Take mufflingthevoicesandthepulsing Thethoughtchilledthebloodit! in ” buzzofthealarm. myveins.“Can’twestopthem? ThecommandcenteratDelta Igrabbedthekeyandracedahead. AsIreachedthefivecorners,Dr. Complex…theycouldstillground Anna ran to me, grabbing me by theships.” Petrastopped. theshoulders.Petra,stone-faced, She peeredbeyondusintothepassage “We tried.” Petra shook wheeled atmyback. her head. around “Theywon’t and Mywordstrippedovereachother. listen. The droppedherpack “I saw them. So horrible. They were onlyproofwe onthedeck.She allaroundmeinthehall.There’s have anis a few gotthepolelaser evacuationorder.” airsamples extended just as the with the thing reachedher.Theblueglow “We know,” said Dr. Anna. chemicalstheysecrete.” ofthehookedbladetracedawide arc. “Idon’tunderstand.MyDadcan’tThethudofahatchclosingmade have turned into that thing. Did it usfreeze.Welookedateachother Thecreaturescreeched.Theblade replacehim?Didonereplacemy forafewlongseconds.Afaint crackledandhissed,andthe - crea little brother?” scratchingsound,likeshellagainst tureflaileditsarms.Witha stone,echoedandthengavewayto surging hum, Petra swung “Yeah,itdid,”saidPetra,scowling. silence. thebladeforwardandback, “Andnoonedidn’t.” jabbingatit.Thecreature’s Dr. Anna motioned with her eyes armoredlimbsclackedagainstthe “Wecan’ttalkaboutitnow,”said towards Dr. the tunnel to Beta. I folrock.Oneofitsclawsclampedonto Anna. “Time is too short.” lowed, and we made our way down thepole.Thentheotherclosedon thepassage,keepingourheads Petra’sneck. “Tell me.” low, trying to stay quiet on the balls of our feet. Icouldn’tlook. Dr. Anna set her jaw. “Your father islonggone.I’msosorry.They Somethingscratchedagain,closer Dr.Annamoaneduncontrollablyat all died in the Polyergus raid, your this time. thehorriblecrunchingbehindus. fatherincluded.Everyonethat Ipressedherforwardwithapalm camebackwasoneofthem.They IspurredDr.Annawithtwotapson againstherback.I 81 I SavagePlanets

Upahead,thelightedpanelofthe “Doit!Go!” bulkhead glowed. Dr. Anna rushedtowardsitandslapped She the button. on. Morescratchingsoundsgrewlouder The behind us. Thepressuredoorinchedopen. Slowly. Too slowly. Finally, Dr. Anna stumbled


Facingit,Isteppedback throughthepressure door.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

shudderedatthewetthudofPetra’s She stared at me, bodydropping. wide-eyed.

The shadow shot over my feet. Giant pincersglistened. Adeafeningbuzz drowned out the poundingofmy blood.

Thecreature lunged.Onepin cerflewaround myneck.

A thud shook the tunnel as thepressuredoor slammed shut. through. Ididn’t follow. “No!

Nectaria, don’t!” “Go!”

Severed,theclaw scrapeddownmy chestandclattered tothefloor.The creature’shead bouncednextto it. It rolled around, the worm-like appendagesinits openmouthstill writhing. Then theystopped.A puddleof yellow liquid expanded from its neckto the base the bulkhead.

bloodstained cut-offvest cameintoview asthecrea turescrabbled forward. The pointsofthe sickle-shaped clawsgrew clearerinthe shadows. of I felt for the closebutton. Still breathing hard, I Ipressedit. picked My blood uptheendof theclaw throbbed in by its hairlinedtip, my ears. ignoringthefluidoozing from the other end. I started Thecreature passedan towardsDr.Annaandthecom archedlight.Itsshadowsurgedmandcenter.Theywouldhave towards me. theirproofnow. SavagePlanets I 82

CONTRIB Avram Lavinsky Fiction Contributor

Tim Minneci Fiction Contributor

Born and raised in the South of France, Cass Richards has been living and teaching in Toronto, Canada, for the last 17 years.

Based on Boston’s South Shore in the USA, Avram Lavinsky writes characterdriven novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction.

Tim Minneci is a Columbus, Ohio-based writer, musician, and personal assistant.

Even though they have dozens of unfinished stories in French, it was during a creative writing course that they realized that writing in English was much more enjoyable.

He has placed in the Writers of the Future contest and was a recent semifinalist in Ruminate Magazine’s VanderMey Prize competition.

Cass Richards Poetry Contributor (Photo Unavailable)

Using different pen names is also a way for them to discover more about their identity beyond the limitations of their “imposed” and established self (work, family, friends). They don't own any quirky pets. Their latest short story will be published in Interzone.

83 I SavagePlanets

He co-hosts the weekly 1990s alternative musiccentric podcast ‘Dig Me Out’ and spends as much time in the garden as possible.

His work has appeared in or has been accepted to appear in Boston Literary Magazine, the San Antonio Review, and Mystery Tribune. A proud member of Mystery Writers of America and the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, Avram has had the tremendous fortune to work with the same dedicated critique group for the last six years.

Jamal Hodge Poetry Contributor

Jamal H filmmak Membe Since M have be Film Fe includin Fest) at Directo and Be screeni and the

He is cu docu-se with Pe Renaud

BUTORS Michael Fowler Fiction Contributor

Anthony D Redden Fiction Contributor

K. A. Williams Fiction Contributor (Photo Unavailable)

Michael Fowler has contributed stories and humor to countless zines and webzines that now are mostly defunct, among them Kittenpants and Raging Face. He has short science fiction stories upcoming in Schlock! and Piker Press.

Hodge is a multi-award-winning ker and writer who is a sitting Board er of Harlem Film House and Axs Lab. May of 2016, Jamal Hodge's films een an official selection in over 100 estivals, and have won over 50 awards ng The Vanguard Award (Best of The t the Hip Hop Film Festival (2020), Best or at The Chelsea Film Festival (2020) est Director at GenreBlast (2020), ing at Tribecca Film Festal, Sundance, e Cannes Short Film Corner twice.

urrently co-directing/producing a PBS eries called Southern Storytellers (2022) eabody-winning producer/director Craig d. Learn more at

Anthony D Redden is a science fiction and horror writer from England. He has been writing for over twentyfive years building up a list of publishing credits including Ether Books, Kyanite Publishing, Schlock webzine, Crystal Lake Publishing and Terror Tree Publishing to name but a few. He works nights as a therapy assistant and carer, and in his spare time managed to graduate from the University of Teesside in 2018 with a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. He is part of the editorial team for Bandit Fiction and writes movie reviews for the entertainment webzine ScifiMonkeys. He lives with his wife, three children.

K. A. Williams has published over 110 speculative, mystery/crime, and general fiction stories in many magazines including Theme Of Absence, 365 Tomorrows, Aphelion, Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Trembling With Fear, Corner Bar, Altered Reality, and The Rockford Review winning one of their Editor's Choice Awards for prose in 2009. In 2010, the North Carolinian began submitting poetry which was published in various magazines such as Nuthouse, The Creativity Webzine, Tigershark, The Blotter, Literary Yard, and View From Atlantis. Over 90 of her poems have been published so far. Apart from writing, she enjoys rock music, Scrabble, and CYOA games.

SavagePlanets I 84


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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!

85 I SavagePlanets 85 I PlanetsRising

CONTRIBUTE! It's Your Turn Now! Submit your original work for consideration. Contributions are always welcomed. Our goal is to create a community of science fiction artists and consumers in the same planetary system. Our editors will review your submissions and will select the best of the best for inclusion in our next edition! Aliens submit! Extraterrestrial Fiction Have a great story to share? Submit your story to SavagePlanets for publication. If selected, your story will be displayed with images tailored to enhance it for all to enjoy. Submission guidelines are available by clicking the planetary icon or visiting our website. Poems from Imaginaria Our poetry editor is eager to read your speculative poetry. Anything from the fantasy world to a reality you create within its rhymes. Once selected it will bring magic to these pages. To see our guidelines click on the comet icon or visit our website. Future Artifacts Herein, Multimedia replaces a thousand words. Art, photos, video clips, sculpture, and all other forms of visual manifestation are welcome. Challenge us to see the future through your eyes! Guidelines available by clicking the poly-form icon here, or visiting our website. Subspace Look what happens when I hit it with this shrink ray! If you can tell a complete science fiction story in two sentences this is for you. Post your story on Twitter or Instagram at #SavagePlanets, and we might just feature it here. See rules by clicking on the rocket or visiting our site. SavagePlanets I 86


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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