SavagePlanets, October 2022

Page 1

SavagePlanets In This Issue... Eddie D Moore DM Woolston JW Benford John Rodzvilla John Grey Stan Woodley An exclusive interview & story by: R. K. Thorne OCTOBER 2022 Volume 2/Issue 4 EXTRATERRESTRIAL FICTION POEMS FROM IMAGINARIA SCI-FI ENTERTAINMENT PLANETARY COMMUNIQUE FUTURE ARTIFACTS SUBSPACE Where Dreams & Nightmares Collide
Contents Signals from the Stellar Core Mirage and Shadow Poets, Peril & Dandelions Planetary Communiqué Sci-Fi Entertainment A Dark Matter of Life Donuts with a Time Traveler Poems from Imaginaria Future Artifacts Subspace The Phoenix Princess Defense Contributors Editor in Chief Steven S. Behram Fiction Editor Keith 'Doc' Raymond Poetry Editor Alexander N. Behram Art Editor B.o.B. (A.I. Sentience) SavagePlanets 01 I SavagePlanets 03 05 21 25 27 39 47 57 65 73 77 85
03 21 6547 SavagePlanets I 02 05 39 77


from Stellar Core


We are living in difficult times. We are surrounded by war and division and existential threats from every direction. The key to our own salvation is our imagination, perhaps the greatest gift of an evolved mind. It is our dreams and hopes for the future that make this a world worth fighting for and a cause worth dying for and what better vehicle to bring us all together than science fiction?

The Magnetosphere

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 We are grateful to all of them, both published and unpublished, for their tantalizing tales and awesome speculative stories.

Virgo Cluster

In our poetry section, we explore topics related to life and death and the purgatory created by working with alien races. We explore the idea of an alien invasions in two different scenarios. We examine a machine’s desire to experience death and also the reali zation a machine’s secret desire for violence and aggression.

Zodiacal Light

In Planetary Communiqué, our Overlord gives us his unsolicited but unique perspectives about the ben efits of a living planetary monarchy.

Inside extraordinary Extraterrestrial Fiction, we study an unlikely partner ship of two birds of a feather on a space station in “Mirage and Shadow.” In “Poets, Peril & Dandelions” we explore the insatiable desire to grow and plant our seed in distant worlds. A secret discov ery forms the basis of a mystery in “A Dark Matter of Life” in the never-ending world of discovery and secrecy. In “Donuts With A Time Traveler” we learn that the universe

may not let you have your donut and eat it too. And finally, we learn of courage and sacrifice in “The Phoenix Princess Defense.”

In Sci-Fi Entertainment, we review Crimes of the Future, a captivating tale not for the faint of heart. We interview our featured author R.K. Thorne and discuss her insight into science fiction. We discuss all three seasons of Seth MacFarlane’s Orville, a fan favorite with the hope for more.

Our Art Editor, BoB, is back online with Future Artifacts.

As always, we are grateful for our fan-supported section Subspace where we showcase a compilation of two sentence science fiction sto ries. We thank all that contributed from our social media portals.

03 I SavagePlanets

Stellar Wind

We continue to look forward to receiving your stories and poems for consideration in our upcoming issues. We would love to showcase your talent in these pages.

For some, reading or writing science fiction can bring respite from the stress of daily life. For others, it may be a mechanism to send a warning about actions or inactions that may bring dire consequences in the notso-distant future. But for us, it's a way of bringing like-minded individ uals together withing the pages of SavagePlanets.

We appreciate your support. Visit us at

Together, maybe we can survive until the morrow.

SavagePlanets I 04


Molyarch Station wasn’t the worst place Lysian had ever lived. There were startlingly few rats roaming the corridors of this space sta tion, for example—it was bad for business—and although the walls were scuffed to hell and back, the clientele was richer than Sky Harbor Diner’s chocolate pie. He whistled an old pirate tune as he strode past a thumping dance club and a sleepy saloon.

A bioluminescent pearl necklace caught his eye as he strolled, but he let the wealthy dowager pass. Quick fingers could relieve those Capital types of their burdens with little trouble, then fade into the shadows. And Lysian’s fingers were lightning.

But he had somewhere to be tonight. He was going on a date. A green-eyed, auburn-haired vixen waited for him. And there was going to be noodles.

Of course, Molyarch wasn’t the best place he’d ever lived, either. He’d gotten caught one too many times on Tarkos, though, and the Elysian police had taught him a lesson or two. Some planets, even the fancy ones, would still cut off your hand for theft. Or other parts.

Molyarch tended more toward over night jail time. And even that could be “negotiated.”

He kicked an empty wine canister out of the way with just one blink.

He didn’t miss Tarkos, even if it was prettier and less litter-strewn. The best planets have the best criminals, and they’d stab you in the back the same as the crappy criminals would. If the competition got too hectic, or for the right price. Or just for grins and giggles.

A thief with barely enough credits to buy a nut-bar, noodles, and a whis key has to know where he stands and what his options are. And what they’re not.

Molyarch was as good a home as any he’d known, so he wasn’t leaving anytime soon. He kept a bag ready, just in case things went south, but travel had its own risks even if the destination was

This day might be full of surprises, but her not answering the door wasn’t one of them. He tried punching the door chime again, and even a quiet call of her name—not too loud, because Enrique might have someone listening. He even knocked. Hard."
05 I SavagePlanets

paradise. Independent starships were nations unto themselves, the rules ever changing. Tiny dictator ships. When someone was on the ground they weren't who they were when they were in space, so hauling off is something he didn't do lightly. People were a collection of mirages.

He preferred to be a shadow. Molyarch was good enough for now.

That was why his stomach sank— but he wasn’t terribly surprised— when he discovered an uncon scious male body waiting where a living woman should be.

His sharp, green-eyed woman, with laughter in her smile, and a streak of silver in her auburn curls. A woman who was supposed to

be meeting him on their date. For noodles.

He loved noodles.

“Damn it, Quy.” He shook his head, mostly at his own naiveté. Idiot.

Who was he kidding? He didn’t have crap money to take a wom an on a date, anyway. Even for noodles. She probably knew it. He should’ve known better.

Smelled like a setup, with a capital S.

He needed to work fast. Whipping his busted, barely functional comm unit out of his pocket, he scanned for the man’s vitals. His worn gear was barely functional, including

his breather. It caught all kinds of toxins and bio-engineered crap, but even it wasn’t perfect, so there was no way he was patting down this unconscious guy for loot—or to help him, obviously, officer—unless the scan came back completely clean.

The comm vibrated in his hand. “Well, frag.” He blew out a breath and dropped the device back in his pocket.

Clean. But dead.

This wasn’t his night. Nothing biochemical killed the guy. It didn’t look like natural causes. Well, if you included a surgically precise laser blade to the back of the neck.

On Molyarch, that was a natural

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 06


He checked his gloves. Their fit was cold and tight as always, the black material sealed at the wrist under his leather jacket, which sealed over the gloves. The cracking jacket he’d knicked in a bar back on Tarkos. The gloves were kicking too and one of the highest quality things he owned, and he’d actual ly bought them himself, but even they were secondhand. He couldn’t afford a tear or a rip. Old Anton had taught him—check every damn time.

A man had to have his tools, his old mentor had said. As a thief, leaving no trace behind was imperative. Which was the same reason he switched on his jammer, scrambling the surveillance cams around him. Just a moment or two he could get away with. Half the time nobody was watching the feed, anyway.

Another beautiful thing about Molyarch.

The dead man was armored, so he started there. Guy should have kept his helmet on. Squatting down, he patted the seams. If he could just find the auto release… Bingo. There was the button hidden under a pan el at the armpit. He’d seen an emer gency worker use it once to save a man from a malfunctioning suit that cooked its owner alive. Lysian watched while having a burger.

Yeah. Stuff like this happened to him a lot.

He grumbled as he searched the man and found six assorted blades and laser blades, one pistol, three unmarked, black metal cubes, and a sack full of gold-wrapped union bars straight from Capital.

He gave it all a quick bath with his soap light, purple light cleansing the goods, then shoved his loot in his messenger bag and swung it over his shoulder. He needed to get the hell out of here before this likely trap closed its jaws on his foot.

He stood, quickly scanning the scene before he took off. No signs of a fight, no signs of struggle. He couldn’t make out any prints that looked dainty enough to be Quy’s. She was a dancer at Enrique’s Bar and Grill, and he’d mostly seen her barefoot up on stage and after shows.

It wasn’t any of his business, any way. He’d hoped she’d be a friend, maybe something more, but he should have known better.

He wasn’t worried about her or anything. Worried would mean at tached. And attached was one thing he never got, especially not when she stood him up. Or maybe tried to frame him for murder.

She didn’t reply. His jaw clenched as he dropped the comm back into his pocket. He didn’t fragging care. But maybe, just maybe, he should swing by Enrique’s and check on her with those laughing green eyes. If he could glimpse that athletic body covered in emerald sequins or violet satin—although likely not much of either—he might feel pissed, but at least he’d know. Maybe she’d gotten called into work. That would explain no answer to his texts.

The dead guy would be a hell of a coincidence, and forgetting to say anything would be nasty of her, but stranger things happened to him all the time.

He booked it out toward the main tenance access in the back of this alley, pulling his pilfered “Pat’s Sisters Plumbing” cap out of his bag so he’d look like he belonged. He could slip up a level at the ser vice ladders, then come back down. Nobody’d be the wiser.

No one ever asked if he was Pat or one of the Sisters or neither, and he certainly never offered.

He tapped a few words into his comm to Quy. Just to check if she was okay. It was the decent thing to do. Are we still on for tonight? That didn’t give too much away. Maybe made him sound like an ass, since they were supposed to meet five minutes ago, but what crap are you trying to pull? Didn’t exactly win friends and influence people that way.

Getting to Enrique’s wasn’t as smooth as he’d have liked. He’d barely tucked away his “Pat’s Sisters” cap when the corridor he’d chosen flooded with soldiers. Rowdy drunken ones.

He winced internally. Puritans in their dusty blue and brass uni forms rumbled in, a sudden sea of shouting jostling him on all sides. Sure, soldiers weren’t cops, but if they could catch a thief red-handed, being armed, and in a place like Molyarch, nobody’d blame them for slicing a criminal caught in the act. Nobody’d punish them for it, either.

And yet. These jostling drunks were

07 I SavagePlanets

juicy, like ripe peaches heavy on the branches… not that he’d ever seen a peach tree other than in vids or on the sys-net. Did peaches even grow on trees or just in tubs?

He forgot all thoughts of hydropon ics when he spotted the glowing cyan of the REO 2500—an entirely impractical, retractable laser sword (for frag’s sake).

Impractical and worth hundreds of credits. Maybe thousands.

In the thick crowd, it wasn’t too hard to jostle into the right people. Even a glowing hilt the size of his hand could make the slide into his bag. While checking the camera calculus, he jammed. Nobody’d know it was him unless—

“Hey, where’s my REO? Hey—that guy—there!”

Well, knotweed balls. This was not his day.

He’d been taking a right out of the corridor, so he broke into a run.

He’d have to drop down the nearest maintenance shaft and back up again to evade.

This time, he switched to a pair of black-rimmed glasses and a health inspector’s hat, which was truly rich because there was no way Molyarch had any of those.

Nobody cared, as long as you looked sort of official.

He’d lost the soldiers as soon as the chase really started, emerging in the merchant area of the inner ring. Yeah, maybe he’d stop by Jack’s on his way to Enrique’s.

even in a place like this.

Jack’s was different, though. Jack owned the place, and he and Lysian had a bit of an arrange ment. He’d offer less than those androids would; Jack’d also keep his shop cameras conveniently broken. He somehow had com plete amnesia about where he acquired his goods. It was a good deal on both ends.

Although, if his luck was going to run out with Jack, today was look ing just peachy.

“Lysian! My man! You try any of those new garlic saffron noodles at Little Tokyo yet?”

He rolled his eyes. “That was the plan for tonight. But no dice.”


Androids manned most of the pawnshops in the galaxy, shop keeper models that’d give you a set price, and that was that. Occasionally, they had an enter tainer model that probably worked harder than even an android de served. Only six models were legal,

“The plan?” Jack raised an eye brow, squinting as Lysian unloaded several knives. The bag fell open, a few union bars and one cube peeked out. He quickly refastened it again. Didn’t want Jack realizing he was holding out on him if the

SavagePlanets I 08

pistol or the sword came into view. The sword needed research and prep for a negotiation. The pistol was his for now, until the dead guy became part of the distant past. And he wasn’t even thinking about selling the cubes or union bars. One was a snack, the other a total mystery. More research and prepa ration. He’d be lucky if they were worth anything.

He shrugged. “I had a date.”

Jack raised the other eyebrow at the selection of knives, running one hand over his sweaty, bald head. “With dates like these, man, you’ll never get laid.”

“Tell me about it.”

Jack pursed his lips. “I’ll give you seven hundred for the whole enchilada.”

Lysian had been around the block enough to hide his own internal eyebrow raise, the leap in his chest. That was way more than he’d expected. But he knew how to play

the game. If Jack started at seven hundred, they were worth more. “C’mon. This is some high-tech crap. Nine hundred.”

It was true. Half the blades had tiny blinking lights showing internal computers, maybe intelligent ones. An intelligent knife had always seemed like a waste of intelligence, if anyone asked him.

Nobody was asking.

Jack scoffed. “Seven hundred fifty.”

“Eight fifty,” he shot back.

“Eight twenty-five.” Jack’s eyes narrowed.


Credits loaded on his chip, and a few bitable coins in his pocket for good measure. He headed toward Enrique’s. The coins, because like Anton said, ‘Banks could be hacked, but someone could only filch the gold in your pocket with living hands, fair and square.’

Anton had… an odd sense of justice.

He checked his comm. No re plies. He sent another message. ‘Assuming we’re picking another night? Haven’t heard from you.’

Yeah, right? ‘Just let me know if you’re okay.’ The thought that he’d never see her again sent a stab of pain into his chest.

Dammit, he was such a sucker.

Stupider than he realized, because he nearly barreled right into station security. They gathered outside Enrique’s and if it weren’t for the shouting, he wouldn’t have looked up—because he was less than a meter short of the broad, white letters on their armored backs: SECURITY.

“Where is that lying bar monkey?” Bellowed Enrique.

09 I SavagePlanets

Fortunately, all of security focused on the roaring Ursa at the entrance to Enrique’s Bar & Grill. Lysian still wasn’t sure if he’d gotten away with the lift of the antique copy of Jane Eyre requested by a ship bound for Desori a few weeks back, and he’d been avoiding security ever since. Not that he needed a reason to avoid them. They hadn’t come after him, but that meant nothing.

“I want you to find that thieving pole-primate and—and—”

It really tore Enrique up. Lysian fell back into a shadowed alcove to listen. Despite his very human sounding name, most likely adopt ed for just that reason, Enrique was Ursa. The biggest one Lysian had ever seen.

Most Ursas were shorter than the average human, often barely over a meter and a half. But Enrique towered over two meters—some wondered if they engineered him that way, and for what purpose, especially when his raging fits broke out—and his fur had an unusual shade of raven black.

Pole-primate? That probably meant a human. A human dancer even.

He swallowed. Quy? Maybe he should be worried. Hell, he should just fragging admit he was already worried like a ship’s captain on their last water tank and two jumps from port.

He knew not to trust people. He rarely bothered trying to find anyone to eat noodles with beyond a fun chat. But Quy… Quy had sucked him in. He liked to think it wasn’t all physical chemistry, but she had an exoticism about her he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Something

that drew him in more surely than a fine perfume.

There was something else, too. She seemed smart enough not to get him killed, maybe. Or caught. Or his hand cut off. When those sharp eyes caught his for the first time, her intelligence felt almost preter natural in that gloomy bar. ‘She didn’t belong,’ he thought.

But then again, who really did?

deep down?” Her voice was a velvet purr.

“I’m not.” He winked. “No offense, but my tastes don’t run that way.”

She smiled wider. “I’m Quy. It’s nice to meet you, Romeo.”


“Oh, I know.”

When she’d come over and talk ed to him, he’d been holding that stolen copy of Jane Eyre, waiting for the buyer. He wouldn’t normally have stolen goods in plain sight, but the newbie buyer insisted.

“You read, kid?” she’d asked him.

“Lysian,” he’d said quickly.

“You read old books, Lysian?” Her eyes twinkled.

“Sometimes.” His jaw had jutted up a bit, sure. “Not this one. But some times.” He’d read every classic is sue of Spider-Man. Those counted, right? “Do you?”

“I’ve read many. That’s quite a good one, you know. But I’m more of a Romeo and Juliet kind of girl.”

His eyebrows twitched. He had read little, but that was a romance, right? And that meant he could flirt with her without being a total creep? “You looking for a Romeo, darling? You didn’t mention your name.”

“Who isn’t looking for a Romeo,

As Enrique’s shouts rose again, he suddenly regretted not looking up that old Jane Eyre book and trying to figure out what the hubbub was about. Or even the Romeo thing. He felt like maybe he’d missed something.

Sinking deeper into the shadows, he sent off a message of a differ ent kind. His friend Gregor had a knack for this sort of thing for a price. And now Lysian had a few credits to spare. “Hey, man—fifty cred for an address?”

“For what? You casing some body? I’m offering a new pricing scheme—you give me a cut.”

“No, man, just checking on a girl. I think she might be in trouble.”

“A girl? You better knock, man, or I will send these logs straight to se curity if I hear anything happened to her.”

He rolled his eyes. This was not his damn day. “I’m going to check if anything happened to her, you asshole.”

“Fine, fine, but I warned you.


SavagePlanets I 10

What’s her name? You want her key code too?”

“Hell, no. Just the address. Name is Quy, works at Enrique’s.”

“You got a hard-on for a stripper, dumbass? C’mon. Don’t harass them.”

“Listen, douche. She’s a FRIEND. C’mon—I think she’s in trouble. With Enrique. I’m here and he’s roaring his head off.”

“That doesn’t take much. Here it is. 63B lowest level, inner ring. Just twenty credits, okay?”


“Yeah. But you better be telling the truth.”

He had to cut across the open corridor to get past the bar, but Enrique’s shouts of “Why are you imbeciles just standing there?” and “Hunt down that green-eyed

she-gorilla before I rip you in two!” and “I’ll report you monkeys to your superiors!” fully held the security officers’ attention.

Lysian gritted his teeth. Enrique had better hope that the green-eyed she-gorilla was okay. Although, what was he going to do? Steal some tequila and get revenge-drunk?

He had eight hundred credits and change. And friends. He could get creative.

His messages still had no response. He jumped into the lift to the lowest level, sending, “You okay? I’m worried.”

If she was even alive, to see the message.

The remaining one flickered like it was on its last leg. He waited sev eral minutes in the dark, listening, but he heard nothing more than the usual ventilation hum, the coughs, and the rambling of wall displays playing game show reruns on delayed feeds from Earth. A me tallic smokiness hung in the air. It worried him. He couldn’t quite place the scent, but he was no expert in weapons or their effects.

He eased up to the door and punched the chime with one gloved fingertip. No name flashed on the sign outside the rented room; in deed, it read: SET OCCUPANT NAME in ugly, flashing cyan letters. But there was a sequined spider stuck just to the corner of the 6, like a flower perched in the numeral’s hair. The spider’s sequins reflected a gaudy emerald ray of sunshine.

Someone fried three out of four corridor lights leading up to 63B.

This day might be full of surpris es, but her not answering the door wasn’t one of them. He tried punching the door chime again, and even a quiet call of her name—not

11 I SavagePlanets

too loud, because Enrique might have someone listening. He even knocked. Hard.

His shoulders slumped, and he waited a minute longer than was reasonable. And then a little more. But what was he waiting for? Unless he planned to wait until she came out or came home—or Station Security showed up—he should just leave.

If she was safe inside, she didn’t want to see him. And he probably shouldn’t want to see her, either. If she wasn’t home, well then, Station Security would eventually do some thing about Enrique’s complaints. And he didn’t want to be here when they did.

If she was inside, but already dead… He wasn’t breaking in to find out, so he was right back at creepily waiting for security to show up. That was a clear no go.

Giving up was his only option. Frustrated, he slipped silently down the dark corridor, back to the lift, to the only slightly lower level where his crap apartment waited.

He hung his head as he palmed the door open and kicked off his shoes before the overheads won their struggle to light up. He should just forget the whole damn night. Throw his loot in the closet and sleep. Take a tranq and put this day in the past.

But it bothered him. Jane Eyre didn’t seem like the type not to show up. Not to answer texts. To make a date for noodles with a guy just to frame him for murder.

The overheads still weren’t turning on, so he reached for the manual control pad on the wall. This wasn’t the first time the damn things broke.

The clicking of a laser’s safety re lease froze him in place. The weap on hummed angrily, warming up.

He dropped the bag and kicked it aside, then slowly raised his arms to his head—all of it an instinct honed with Anton and practiced year after year, instincts that kept him alive from Tarkos to this hell hole and even worse ones.

This day wasn’t a lucky one, but damn. He hadn’t realized the half of it.

been looking everywhere for—”

The cold metal barrel poked the back of his neck. “Shut up and tell me who you work for.”

He kept his hands high but swiv eled toward her voice. A slight yellow illumination from the pistol revealed her arm and pale face be yond. “What are you talking about?

I work for myself. I’m creatively employed, remember?”

“Creatively employed, huh? Then how do you afford this place?”

“You must not have turned on the lights if you think this is—”

“Cut the jokes, Romeo. I don’t have time for this. Who do you work for? Why did you sell me out?”

“I didn’t sell you out! Seriously. You got some nerve, Quy. I’m the one that got stood up, except for that dead body.”

She let out a shaky breath. “So… he’s dead? Frag.”

“Yeah. Dead. Wanna see his union bars?”

“You robbed him?”


He’d gotten a discount because the place was right next to a bank of maintenance lifts. There were crashes and hollers all hours, day and night, but he didn’t make his living on a shift job, so what did it matter if he needed to sleep in?

Besides. The tool carts parked out side were a gold mine for disguises that let him go places he shouldn’t.

“I’m unarmed,” he whispered. “What do you want?” Maybe Jack tipped somebody off that he was carrying around a few coins—and some loot he might not want to share. That’d be quite the arrange ment, except that Jack seemed to like him.

“You set me up,” a feminine voice rasped. “That guy was there to kill me.”

He caught his breath. “Quy! I’ve

“What? I told you I am creatively employed. And he didn’t need them anymore.”

“I thought that meant you were an artist!”

He burst out a ridiculous laugh, even if it put his head closer to the gun barrel. “I am an artist. My me dium is stealing people’s things.”

“How did I get myself into this crap?”

SavagePlanets I 12

“Hey, look, I already sold the knives. You want to split the take? Fifty-fifty—”

She held up a palm. “Wait. What exactly did you sell?”

“Guy was carrying eight fragging la ser blades. Why so many? So yeah, I pawned them. Why?”

“Won’t that link you to him?”

He pursed his lips. “Me and the guy who bought them have an arrangement.”

“An arrangement. God, I knew you were too handsome not to be an idiot.”

He scowled at her. “Can I put my hands down now?”

“Fine.” She waved the pistol at him but didn’t lower it.

“Look, I went to a place I’d been more than a few times. I know arrangements change, but I have been doing this for two decades. I’m not some green sprout under the hydro lights, okay?”

A long silence tightened around the room, and then she cleared her throat. “Sorry. I’m just freaked out.”

“Rightfully so, but don’t add those knives to your list. They’re gonna vanish into the deep. So, you want fifty percent or what? Dude didn’t seem like a big shot, anyway. You think somebody’s gonna be looking for who offed him?” He dragged his thumbnail across his neck in a line to illustrate the point.

“Yes.” “And that was you, right?” he asked


“Well, ye—no.”

He snorted. Fast talking worked every time. “I might be a handsome idiot, but even I can tell that was a lie.”

“I shouldn’t have said that. You’re not an idiot.”

“So, who is this guy? Why’s he trying to kill you? And can we turn some lights on?”

A long beat passed, the air seeming to vibrate around them. “One light. A small one.”

He grabbed the control pad and stabbed the kitchen counter light button like his life depended on it. Mustard-colored illumination bathed his ‘white’ kitchen count er. Today it was unusually clean, because the optimist in him hoped she’d end up back here. Just not like this. The countertop was stained green from years of nutrient shakes spilled across its surface, splashing a murky chartreuse around the room.

The color might be nauseating, but the athletic form haloed in gold was far from it. No sequins or satin tonight—instead, it was tight black military fatigues and boots. Heavy boots.

Just like the footprints he’d seen where the guy died. Those would have tipped him off, if nothing else.

“Where’d you get those sexy com bat boots?”

She rolled her eyes, lowering the gun for the first time. “I… That’s beside the point. You really aren’t a

part of it?”

“Quy, if I was hoping to get anything tonight, it wasn’t you dead.”

To his surprise, her eyes widened.

“It was noodles. Obviously.”

A laugh burst out of her. “I am afraid the noodles are going to have to wait, Romeo.”

Her voice was sad, though. Sad enough to wriggle even deeper into his chest. It was a voice that said noodles were not on the agenda for the two of them anymore. Ever. And that she regretted.

“Hey, I get it. You’re knee deep in camel dung. You can handle it, I’m sure. But you want to tell me what’s going on? I’m may be some idiot thief, but I have a few friends.”

“You’re not an idiot. I’m the idiot for saying that. Look, it’s safer if you just stay out of it. Just don’t tell anyone you’ve seen me, okay?” She stepped around him to the door, the gun held loose by her thigh.

“Do what you gotta do, Quy, but you breaking into my apartment and holding a pistol to my head so… you know, maybe you could use some help?”

Empty hand hovering over the palm pad, her green eyes glinted as she studied him. Then she turned slowly and leaned her back against the door. “Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

He shrugged. Should he say he wasn’t afraid? That’d be bull crap, so he didn’t. He just leaned against the counter, knocked over a long-neglected plant, righted it, and

13 I SavagePlanets

then gave her his most reassuring smile.

“I run deliveries for Enrique on the side,” she began. “On top of dancing. It’s simple work, and I can make extra on a slow night. Drop something off, make a few creds. But the people I delivered to were… dangerous. One of them showed up at the bar telling Enrique he shouldn’t use dumb dancers as couriers—”

“Now that’s hardly fair, you’re far from dumb,” he cut in.

“He said we were too stupid to know what was good for us, especially if we looked inside the packages. I said I would never, but he wasn’t convinced.”

“Well, did you?”

She made a noise of disgust. “Okay, yeah, maybe. But I left no trace. No way he could know I’d opened it.”

“What the hell you do that for?” Something wasn’t adding up here— the measly side gig for a successful dancer who should have plenty of creds, the dumb move of looking at

the package when she was clearly intelligent.

“I wanted to know what I was get ting into!” She scowled.

“And so you put your foot in it?”

She said nothing, just folded her arms.

“So what was it?”

“Robot parts. AI cores. Stuff like that.”

His brows furrowed. “That seems… odd. Operational ones?”

She nodded. “Alive.”

He studied her for a moment as she fidgeted. Anger roiled beneath Quy’s gaze. Again—something didn’t make sense. How did she know what an AI core looked like? He’d only read about them in comics. “What, did the package introduce itself?”

“These are living cyber-beings. They’re trafficking, Lysian.” She pointed the pistol at her other palm, to drive home the point. Which was admittedly a dumb move—no smart

human would point a live laser with its safety off at their own palm just to show to make a point. Well, no sane one anyway. And yet she seemed both smart and sane. “If they do that, it wouldn’t surprise me they’d kill anyone, including me.”

“So you know my name.”

She rolled her eyes at his grin.

“Were these parts anything like this?” He squatted down and drew a cube from his pack.

Her eyes widened. “You found another? They were exactly like that. It’s not open, but if you trigger the release, there’s an AI inside. Assuming it’s still alive, and the guy didn’t kill it.”

“How do you kill an AI? Can’t it just hibernate?” And where did Quy learn how to trigger the release?

“You can kill it if you reformat it.” She sounded sick to her stomach saying that.

“Oh. Well, then. Actually, I found three.” He set down the first on the


SavagePlanets I 14

kitchen counter beside him—gen tly—and pulled out two more.

Two fingers stopped over her lips as she went still. The cubes were a matte black, nothing particularly special. No lights, nothing beeping or suggesting they should be han dled with care. When he glanced back up, tears brimmed at the edge of her eyes, and now he froze, too.

“I have to get them out of here,” she whispered. “I can’t believe he had three I missed. How many…” She shook herself and straightened a little. “Doesn’t matter. I need to get them to safety first.”

“I’ll help,” he said simply. “Where to? Got a plan?” Yeah, she was just a kicking hot dancer. And he was a traveling union bar salesman from Capital.

“I have a friend docked in 3B. I wasn’t planning to take her up on her offer for a ride, but now…” Quy’s face clouded over with concern. “At least the cores should

go. Maybe I should too. Someone needs to get the word out…” She paused, seemed to check her self. “These guys mean business. Don’t underestimate them, Lysian. They’ll track you harder than the lax station security will. Do you want to come along? I’m sure she’ll have an extra berth.”

He sniggered. He’d have to be stupid to say yes after her bait and switch tonight. That proved if anyone in the universe was worthy of trust, it wouldn’t be Quy. But he must be stupid because he agreed, almost.

He forced himself to shake his head. Boring as his crap apartment looked and empty as it was going to feel without her, he answered, “Ships are little dictatorships. At least this hellhole, disorganized as it is, has enough places where I can slip through the cracks.”

“And if they tie you to the knives? Or me?”

She didn’t know the half of it. Guys like these could turn the screws on someone like Jack, ruin the wonderful situation Lysian had arranged. Ruin things for many people. Whereas if Lysian simply disappeared… Jack and folks like him, who let a decent thief earn a decent living, wouldn’t be in danger.

But he shook his head. “If they’re after me, I’ll get word of it first and disappear my own way. Don’t worry about me.”

Her brow furrowed. “I hope you’re right.”

“I just don’t trust people, okay? Your friend might be cool. But she might also be a monster on the inside. And we hardly know each other, you know. Me, I could be a psycho.”

She rolled her eyes. “You have a very normative psychological profile. You think I go out for noodles with psychos?”

15 I SavagePlanets

He couldn’t hide his frown; that was hardly a normal thing for an ordi nary dancer to say. But whatever she was hiding, she was no longer trying very hard to keep it a secret. Her cover was half-blown and not worth the effort, apparently. “Still. I can’t. But I’ll help you get to your friend’s ship, okay? I know a back way.”

Grudgingly, she nodded. “Okay. I could use one.”

“Let me grab some stuff. I got some supplies you can take.” He reached for his bug-out bag he always kept at the ready. One more thing Anton taught him, that served him well. He could grab some things out of it to give her and get replacements later, especially with all the new credits burning a hole in his pocket. “You should take this and—”

But he’d barely even shouldered the pack before a pounding on the hatch jolted Quy where she was leaning her back against it.

going to get out? There was a ven tilation shaft he’d resorted to once or twice, but the pack would be a hard fit.

“Your nuts!” shouted Quy.

“Where’s your boyfriend, lady? Gimme my sword, ya damn mutt! I’m gonna slice you from toe to snout as soon as I—”

“You have the wrong place!” She took a step closer to Lysian as the pounding continued.

Ventilation shaft, it was. He was pulling the desk to the middle of the room when he heard another, different metallic voice from an ar mored suit speaker. A familiar one.

“Cease and desist!” That had to be station security, if he was a thief. “Sirs, you’re going to need to come with us.”

“Hey! We’re officers! Puritan Air Force—leave us be, man.”

“I don’t care if you’re the Queen of the Teredarks. You’re coming with us.”

he whispered. “We’ll go the other way and get out of here before they wise up. Quietly.”

She nodded. He put the AI cores in the messenger bag and then handed it to her.

Her eyebrows raised slightly.


Her hand hesitated for a split sec ond before she took it and slung it over her shoulder. “I wasn’t sure you’d actually give them to me. I mean, you are a thief and all.”

“Says the woman stealing robot parts.”

“They wouldn’t like it if you called them that. Do you know how much these are worth?”

“Will they tempt me to knock you over and take them if I do?”


He shook his head as he held up his palm to open the door. “First, that was a joke. And second, if that’s true, don’t tell me.”

“Where’s my sword, you piss-drinking—”

Uh-oh. He knew that voice. His eye brows raised as he went still.

“Excuse me!” Quy shouted through the closed door, understandably pissed at the assault on her back.

“Don’t you pretend you don’t know? You stole my damned sword!”

Yep, the Puritans. Ice shot through his veins. Wow, this day was just getting better. How did they find him? And how were he and Quy

“What’s this all about? This is a free station!”

“Free until you shoot up a bar with an illegal firearm. Let’s go, pal.”

“You can’t imprison us!”

“No, but we can hold you until your government pays the bill for the damage you caused.”

“That’s not right! This is a free—”

Lysian pressed his ear to the still closed door. The voices had shifted down the hall slightly. “Let’s go,”

She was grinning as they strode out and pivoted away from the ruckus, heads ducked and hustling fast.


“Hey! If there’s someone you should arrest, it’s that guy! He stole my sword!”

Lysian pretended not to notice, fighting the urge to hunch his

SavagePlanets I 16

shoulders. He sped up his pace, but played it cool. Nothing to see here.

The group went quiet. His heart flipped in his chest.

“Which one?” The security officer’s voice sounded.

“That shady dude, obviously!”

Lysian broke into a sprint.

The next turn was a good twenty meters, but Quy kept up. It wasn’t close enough, though. He winced and ducked as shots rang out behind him, but he kept running. Those didn’t sound like the rubber bullets the security guys used.

A strange buzz was all that followed, no impacts in the walls. Or his back.

He didn’t look back at whatever had caused his sudden stroke of luck, he just dove for the turn.

“Oh, now, you’re definitely coming with us! That’s an illegal discharge of a firearm! Requesting backup, lower-level inner—”

“That guy stole my sword!” the Puritan snarled.

“Diaz, go after that guy and see if he’s got anything suspicious. Now the rest of you shut up.”

Boots raced in their direction, so he took a sharp turn left, but not before he heard another sound he hadn’t expected.

A ferocious ursine bellow. “Where is she?” Steel crashed against steel. “I know she’s here! You thieving chimps better turn over my package!”

Panting, Lysian forced out the few est words he could. “Did you… look at them… or did you… take them?”

She caught his eyes for a moment, hesitating. “Maybe a little of both?”



“How dare you judge… me for being a thief… if you’re—”

“I’m not a thief, I’m a—”

The crash of metal and another savage roar cut off her words. He glanced back long enough to see Diaz turn the corner and fire once straight at them. Ballistic by the sound of it.

Lysian almost shouted back, ‘what the hell, man, we didn’t murder no body—yet anyway—’ but there wasn’t time. He was stunned into a brief silence when the slug smashed into a blue force field behind them and incinerated.

His head whipped around towards Quy. “You got a force field?”

“What?” She waved wildly. “You complaining? Faster!”

He obeyed. Behind them, Diaz chased them over the increasing carnage Enrique inflicted on the corridor outside Lysian’s apartment. The officer chose the latter—thank every god in the pantheon—and turned back toward the ruckus.

He stayed close to Quy’s side until they hit the maintenance shaft. Then he handed her his Pat’s Sisters cap, donned his health inspector glasses, and stepped into the lift.

Her friend’s ship wasn’t close, and he led them on a convoluted circuit to lose anyone who might have tailed them or traced them on camera surveillance, flipping on his jammer several times. Knowing the blank areas of the video grid was also a survival skill a good thief couldn’t live without.

When he finally led her to the ship, the corridor was well into the night cycle; the lights dimmed on the already scuffed walls of the dock.

“It’s that one,” she pointed.

“Hope she won’t mind unan nounced visitors,” he said.

“She won’t, but will you?” Suddenly, Jack stepped out from behind the ramp that they wheeled up to the mouth of the nearest ship.

Lysian faltered, then froze. Jack held a pistol. Laser, quick reheat. Quy froze, too.

“Where you headed?” Jack grunted.

“That one,” Quy said, jutting her chin in the direction.

“Keep going. I’m coming along too. And you’ll be handing over that weapon of yours, girl.”

Jaw clenched, Quy carefully passed him her pistol.

Blowing out a breath through flared nostrils, Lysian kept his arms out to his sides, perfectly still. What had he done to have this many people point a weapon at him in one night?

17 I SavagePlanets

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 18

Try to go on a damn date? He might have a sword, but he couldn’t use it even if he had the chance.

Oh, and no. He didn’t have it, any way. He’d handed the bag with the sword to Quy. Like an idiot.

Jack trailed behind them as Quy rang the bell. The ship’s small hatch slid open an interminable moment later. Nobody asked who it was— they just let them in.

Whoever owned this boat was in for a surprise.

Jack shut the hatch, closing them in with a hiss and a thud. “I saw what you had in your bag, Lysian.”

“What? Union bars?”

“Holding out on me, eh? After all the damn deals I gave you? All these years? Hand ‘em over.”

He frowned. “What are you—”

“The robot stuff. You have hundreds of thousands of credits in there, and you sold me some pocket knives? I want those components, or you and your date are both toast.”

His mind was racing. Quy huddled behind him, shaking. But she had the bag with the cores. He only had his bug-out bag.

He took the heavy pack off and tossed it at Jack’s chest, knocking him off balance. But only for a second. “I don’t know what you’re babbling about, man,” Lysian said, throwing his hands over his head. Never could be too careful with nuts trying to rob you, that’s what Anton always said. Know when you’re outgunned. Don’t pretend to be a

cowboy when you aren’t. “Go on, check. I got nothing like that. You smoking redik again?”

Behind him, Quy was shuffling in the bag. Damn it, that ruckus was going to draw Jack’s attention. He tried to kick her to clue her in, but missed. She needed to be ditching that thing, not unpacking it. If she hid it while he distracted Jack, may be he wouldn’t notice.

But that wasn’t what she was doing. Something clicked, then softly hummed.

Jack was rooting through the bugout bag, tossing the hard earned, carefully gathered essentials all over the decking. “You asshole, where are the—”

He never finished the sentence. Under Lysian’s armpit, a pistol fired. Flashed, really. He could barely pro cess it; he saw Jack and his bug-out bag collapse in a heap on the floor.

“He’s dead,” he blurted, hands still frozen high.

“He’s stunned,” said Quy. “But we better dump him.”

“How did you—” He turned, then went quiet.

Part of Quy’s lovely arm opened, like a waiting cargo hatch. A cable ran from her arm to one core, which striped with lines glowed with a soft amber color. Two small probes sank back into the cube.

“Lysian, meet Paragon. He isn’t much for conversation, but he comes equipped with darts that stun and sometimes subdue people he doesn’t like. However, to fire them, he needs more of a power

source than he has in his storage cube, hence the cable.”

He finally dropped his arms to point at hers. “You’re a cyborg.”

She carefully removed and stowed the cable, the skin panels sliding delicately back into place. “Guess again. Still working on disproving that idiot comment, huh?”

He ignored that. “You’re an AI your self. That’s why you care so much.”

Her lips twisted. “Of a sort. Not as advanced as these, though.” She spread her fingers at the other two cubes sitting qui etly in his bag.

Her bag. Their bag?

“You’re a gynoid?”


“But you’re not one of the standard models.” Which would make her illegal in any place they enforced laws. He didn’t point that out, but no wonder she gave him the feeling she wouldn’t get him killed. Her very existence always skirted the existing laws. “I have questions,” he said instead.

“We don’t have time for answers.” She set Paragon down and stepped toward Jack, hands on her hips.

“Understandable. Need some help?”

She sighed, then nodded. “That’s

19 I SavagePlanets

an understatement.”

“You got a grabber to levitate him out of here?”


“The old way then.” He grinned. She palmed open the hatch. “This is your ship, isn’t it? There’s no friend.” He got under Jack’s armpits and lifted.

She took Jack’s feet. “Look, I get it. You’re smart. You can stop showing off.”

They unceremoniously dumped the mer chant out of the ship and onto the dock.

Security wouldn’t no tice that at all, surely.

They probably had five minutes.

“C’mon, Quy. Tell me the truth.”

“You better go. Here.”

She drew out a small plastic card and pressed it into his hand. “Blame the assault on me. I’ll be long gone. That should be enough creds to bribe anyone and every one, and then some.”

He stared at the card, then back at her emerald eyes, but didn’t move to take it. “If you ever come back to Molyarch, can we have that date? I still need noodles.”

“I’d love to, honestly, Romeo. But I think this is where we part ways.”

“Quy, I… I don’t want to part ways.”

She stilled. “Look, I know you like me, but I’m not who you think. You know Romeo dies in the end, right?”

He flinched. “Good thing that’s not my name, then.”

“I’m… I can’t tell you, but it’s not a walk in the park.”

“You’re a covert operative. Have to be.”

“I’m fighting and risking my life for something I believe in, Lysian. It’s not a peaceful life. I’m trying to end slave trafficking of all sentient species. All of them. And I know you fell for a pretty dancer, but—”

“I fell for a sharp-eyed Jane Eyre who seemed clever enough not to get this thief killed.”

Her eyes twinkled. “That… isn’t entirely inaccurate.”

He glanced around, still ignoring the card. “You got noodles on this clunker?”

She snorted and checked over his shoulder. “You better go. Security light’s on. Somebody’s noticed our contribution to the dock.”

“Nah, I think I better come with you.”

She frowned. “I can handle myself, you know.”

“Yeah, but without you around, life is boring.”

She held his gaze for a long mo ment. “I might have some instant ramen?”

He chuckled. “Then shut that hatch and let’s get going.”

She slowly slipped the card back into her hip pocket. Then she palmed the hatch shut. “Make yourself at home, Lysian—in the copilot’s harness. We’re blowing this pop stand.”

“What? Ah… Will do, Captain.” He grinned and jogged behind her toward the cockpit.

“I thought you didn’t trust any one?” The cockpit lit her face in gold and blue as her sharp eyes danced across the controls. Seriously cracking tech—this ship had to be brand new. “Tiny dicta torships, and all that?”

“Eh?” Lysian dropped into the seat, waved a hand vaguely, then clicked the first buckle in place. “I’ve seen what you’re made of. Literally and figuratively. People are inconsis tent. But computers, androids? That’s different.”


This story first published in the an thology Beyond the Stars: Infinite Expanse as "Mirage and Shadow" beginning on page Page 127.

Editor Richard Leslie and Series Editor Patrice Fitzgerald.

Copyright is 2020. Reprinted by permission of the author.

SavagePlanets I 20


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. "

21 I SavagePlanets

From Commander Field’s porthole, he could just read his ship’s name painted on the hull: Andromeda IV. The sense of fulfillment that he felt when they offered him the command of a colony ship was beyond his ability to describe. It meant saying goodbye to friends and family because colony missions were always one-way trips, but the opportunity to give humanity another chance to build a better society was not one he could pass up.

Perhaps this time they’d get it right. He put a marker in the book of poetry that he’d been reading by Robert Frost and then placed it back in his nightstand

cubby. He had hoped that read ing a few pages from his favorite poet might ease his mind. It didn’t work.

Commander Field stood and straightened the high-resolution print of a simple dandelion that hung on his quarter’s wall. The bright yellow bloom served as a reminder of the promised new life that awaited all of them at their journey’s end. But after the collision three days ago, the photo felt more like a dream that he couldn’t quite recall.

The disorientation that resulted from being rapidly awakened from cryogenic sleep was an experience he would not forget.

Nausea, disorientation and terror combined with flashing red lights and klaxons made for a hellacious emergence. He was now thankful for every minute of mission training that he received. It tested his limits both mentally and physically, but without that training, this mis sion would have been a com plete failure. More than likely, they’d all have died.

Automated repair-bots were busy racing up and down corri dors, patching small holes and sizeable gaps on the ship's ex terior. They still had three entire decks exposed to the vacuum of space. Eight years of planning, three years of construction,

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 22

and billions of dollars later, this project might have come to a screeching halt by the space equivalent of an iceberg.

Maybe the ship should’ve been named after the infa mous Titanic. He couldn’t help but wonder who history would blame for this mid voyage collision. Would it be the man ufacturer of the sensors? The programmers? The computer? Or would it once again fall on the shoulders of the Captain?

When Commander Field left his quarters, he noticed a repair-bot at the end of the hall extending a stop sign to block traffic as if everyone else wasn’t currently in cryo-sleep. He chuckled to himself as he continued down the corridor to the bridge. A key board lit up when he sat down at the conn. The lights were low to conserve power, and the bridge felt like a candle-lit dungeon in the middle of winter.

After rubbing his fingers to get the blood flowing again in his icy hands, Commander Field typed in a few commands. The view screen instantly displayed the ship’s schematic showing the swarming dance of the repair-bots. A column of data appeared, describing the dam age and prioritizing repairs. The sheer length of the list made for a real spectacle.

He expected the interstellar drive to be back online any min ute, but the real question was, could they still reach their des tination? The impact destroyed most of their terraforming equip ment, and judging by the video footage, several pieces floated away into the vacuum of space. Repairs would leave only a quarter of the original equipment operational.

Luckily, the ship’s designer had placed the freezer stuffed with their entire seed catalog in a different part of the ship to better

protect them from radia tion. Their food supply was safe if they could manage to grow and cultivate it with the tools left at their dis posal. If their new home wasn’t extremely earth-like (which they could only fully determine on arrival), they might be better off to turn the ship around and limp home or possibly stay in cryo until another colony ship could be equipped and sent.

He had no doubts about the crew’s resolve to continue the mission. Not a one of them would choose to turn around regardless of the struggles and challenges they’d face. Because Earth was dealing with their own problems, and he doubted that they’d spend the resources to send a second colony ship to the same planet.

The lights brightened as the ship’s primary power and inter stellar drive came back online. Seconds later, strobes flashed, and a klaxon screamed through out the bridge. The command er silenced the alarm, but the strobes continued to flash. The view screen changed and Commander Field choked as he saw the proximity alert warning.

23 I SavagePlanets

Three more large chunks of ice and rock were on a collision course with the Andromeda IV.

The computer automatically altered the ship’s trajectory, activating avoidance measures. Moments later, the comets threatening the ship changed course to compensate. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this wasn’t a natural phenom enon. The comets were under navigational control.

Receipt of a communication signal popped up on the com mander’s panel. A simple text message, the ship’s computer translated: “We have monitored your planet’s electromagnetic broadcasts for over a hundred years. We will not tolerate human incursion in this sector. Leave or die.”

Commander Field’s mind raced as he tried to figure out how to avert another tragedy and the ship’s imminent destruction. He mumbled to himself, “I’d give my right hand for a couple of EMPs or a tactical nuke.”

After running several simula tions, a quote from Robert Frost came to mind: The best way out is always through.

G-forces pushed the com mander back in his chair as the ship sped up and shot past the comets. Commander Field watched the viewscreen for sev eral minutes before releasing a long, slow breath of relief. As he suspected, whatever was being used to propel the comets could only manage minor changes in their trajectory. The distance be tween the ship and the comets

continued to grow.

The threat averted. He hoped he’d find a planet that could support life. With a swipe of his hand, the commander searched the nearby star systems. Luck was in his favor as he spotted a goldilocks world. It’d take the ship an extra decade to get there, but if their luck held, it might even be more hospitable than their original destination.

The Andromeda gently adjusted course and headed into the new flight path. Commander Field checked the ship’s chronometer, shook his head, saying out loud, “I may have to fight for it, but I will see my dandelions reaching toward the sun once more.”

Extraterrestrial Fiction

PlanetsRising I 24

Planetary Communiqué

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

Humans are nothing but a collection of butterflies, and that is why they must have a monarch to rule them all. That Monarch (you pathetic, short-lived pupa), is your Glorious Overlord Grawth. One day soon, he will let loose the Lepidopterists Legion who will descend onto your planet to capture every one of you with nets and pin you to boards for His personal amusement and study. He will show you to His friends, who will sigh in disgust. And when they’re done, we will use your carcasses for paint pigment to smear over graffiti scrawled by superior races. At least you will serve some purpose rather than as dead bugs on our intergalactic wind-shields!

His Majestic Grace supports your miserable monarchs for one reason and one reason alone. To acclimatize you to the idea of absolute submission to His whims and wills, however silly or trivial they may be. After all, you are creatures of habit and how better to regulate you than to give you your very own monarch, me! Underlord Hojack. Whether it’s an emperor, a tyrant, a king or a monarch, it takes a bit of time for you apes to get used to the idea.

But don’t take it from me. Listen to one of your favorite leaders, Vladimir Lenin, “Trust is Good, Control is Better!”

You like to put pictures of the queen on your money? Your Glorious Overlord Grawth de mands one planetary currency with pictures of his Grawth-lings on them! No cryptocurrency, no blockchain, you blockheads! I will Hojack all your banks.

Why? Because the universe has no place for a true democracy. It’s just too much fun to make up laws that tell you which side of the road you can drive on or what time of day you can sip tea or whether you should use metric versus imperial units.

There is an old joke that has cir culated for millennia in the outer arm of the Milky Way. What do monarchs and single-celled, eu karyotic yeast have in common? They’re both inbred! Ha, ha, ha. Get it? Of course you don’t!

Lord Grawth expects the same warmth and support you have expressed for your present monarchs when he makes His Gaseous visitation on your insignificant planet. So prepare your finest hats and most colorful garbs, and read up on the regal rules. You must supplicate to His Massiveness, never dare to look up, stay in a semi-permanent curtsy or bow, and hold your

breath until His Presence passes. (The latter is more for your protection.)

In order to prepare you for THE true monarchy, I have prepared a set of edicts to reflect the steps necessary for transitioning be tween your current governments to the one and only Monarchy, which the rule of Grawth the First and Only, the Enslaver of the Free, and the Killer of Hopes & Dreams orders.

The habitable universe has been watching the goings on your tragic planet with delight, joy, and more than the occasional involun tary guffaw. We believe you don’t deserve rights whatsoever! And in this past quarter, you not only proved our position, but you gave up your own rights and freedoms. How absolutely, wonderfully regressive! Such entertaining simians.

25 I SavagePlanets

Edict #1

Stop this nonsense with dem ocratic rule. Democracy is for losers. You are hereby ordered to relinquish “thinking for yourselves” and living by “individual liberties” in exchange for placing your faith in an all-powerful ruler. That’s what all the cool planets do. Don’t you want to be cool? To fit in? If you do, create more monarchies! When He arrives, we will force you to shed them anyway, for the one true monarchy, Overlord Grawth.

Edict #2

The genetic mingling of royal DNA with inferior “commoners” DNA has confused our political scien tists. Why would you ever want to do that? If you have a monarch that has a finite life expectancy, why don’t you transfer him to an android body so he can reign for ever? Or why not splice his DNA so he can clone himself and not contaminate his genetic line?

You are hereby ordered to slice your dictator into parts so he can regenerate his whole from a leftover piece and thus rule

forever until His Grawthness comes. For example, King George the Fingertip and King George the Hemorrhoid are both genetically identical when regenerated from slightly different body parts. You just have to be imaginative and keep the leftovers. No need for first, second, or thirds like they were servings. Just keep them stored in the Royal Refrigerator for later use.

Edict #3

When your John Adams said: “A government of laws, and not of men,” he was obviously referring to the eventual rule of your Overlord Grawth, and His edicts.

When your own Susan B. Anthony said: “Suffrage is the pivotal right,” she was referring to the pivotal pain and misery your Overlord has planned for twisting your miserable race into pretzels of purpose. And when your own George H. W. Bush said: “If you have a plan, we want to hear it. Tell your community leaders, your local officials, your gover nor, and your team in Washington. Believe me, your ideas count. An individual can make a difference.” He didn’t really know what he was talking about.

In fact, that’s like the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, and, trust me, we’ve enslaved millions of planets. Nobody wants to hear your plan. You are hereby ordered to keep such nonsense to yourself! Since the time of Aristotle, we have taught you about systems of governance, hoping you will ultimately choose against your own self-interest. We have shown you how governance is hard and how rulers will come and go. Even lifetime appointments are not enough.

As your humble Underlord Hojack, I can attest that nothing motivates like the fear one receives when ruled by a dysmorphic autocrat whose only concern is finding the best all-you-can-eat buffet with complete disregard for any priorities you might conceivably consider "important" or "essential." Disloyalty insures your place as an item in that buffet.

PlanetsRising I 26



“I’m showing that an artist is exposing this innermost, deepest, most intimate part of himself and offering that up to an audience,” David Cronenberg says. “And doing so (one) is incredibly vulnerable to rejection, to anger, to misunderstanding. This is basically the archetype of what an artist — a serious, passionate artist — is.”

While researching reviews of the movie Crimes of the Future (first screened at Cannes in May 2022) it is clear the critics attempting those reviews did not know what they were watching. Let me see if I can bring some clarity. It requires laying out some of the plot, like the other critics did, but then we can discuss the metaphysics.

This film is David Cronenberg’s second attempt at the script. The first attempt was in 1970, a silent film, with a voiceover at the end. Clearly, he liked the idea, and took some elements of the original version to make a much better second version, which he wrote as a new script in 1998. Robert Lantis encouraged him to make the new film twenty years later, which is now out. The critics claim the two films are unrelated. Hmm?

A word about the author and director before we dive in. David Cronenberg is known for

some of the most iconic films of his generation, containing both science fiction and horror elements. Consider his films Videodrome, Scanners, The Dead Zone, The Fly, Dead Ringers, eXistenZ, and Crash to name a few. They have falsely labeled him the body horror director, but this is really about having no limits on what he wanted to portray on the screen.

Crimes of the Future is no exception. The graphic nature of the visuals are so poignant and distracting that one only approximates the plot during the first screening of the film. Once you know what to expect, you can focus on the dialogue and the action. The production design of the film takes us to a bleak future. A more probable future than shiny steel robots, and rockets.

We are somewhere on the Mediterranean, in a rundown seaport festooned with barnacled derelict ships, decrepit buildings, and disenfranchised humans. One of the modern features of this world is advanced genetics where infection and even pain are nearly absent. A certain numbness has overtaken humanity so that extreme performance art acts as a diversion.

In this milieu, two stories take place, and their characters are on a collision course. In the first story, a father, Lang Dotrice (played by Scott Speedman), has a son with a unique proclivity, he can eat and digest plastic. Dotrice is a leader of a movement. This movement aims to rid the

27 I SavagePlanets

world of toxic waste by manipulating human physiology to consume and thrive on it. To that end, his people make plastic candy bars containing poisonous human effluent, which, with enzymatic help, they can consume, but are deadly to those not prepared to eat them.

Lang’s son, Brecken, is the first human that doesn’t require additives to consume this waste. The film opens with him picking through shells on the beach. He is called in for dinner, and his mother asks him to wash his hands. Instead of doing that, he sits under the sink and eats a plastic wastebasket. His mother, fed up with this habit, suffocates the boy with a pillow in his sleep. Dotrice wants Caprice to do the autopsy on Brecken, to understand and then adapt his unique digestive system for use by the people of his movement.

The second story involves Caprice (Lea Seydoux) and Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen). Caprice is a trauma surgeon, who meets and treats Saul after a car accident. They become lovers, and her form of erotic pleasure comes from treating him in their SARK unit. A SARK unit is a robotic surgical bed, once used for autopsies, that she converted for her pleasure and their performance art. The SARK unit, like all other modern devices in Crimes of the Future are partly mechanical and partly biological. The controls on it look like a living scarab. There is also an interesting dining chair that assists Saul during each step of eating.

We first see Saul Tenser in a half womb bed, used to relieve his discomfort while he sleeps. He is one of the few that still has pain because of his condition, Accelerated Evolution Syndrome. Because of this condition, he grows non-cancerous neo-organs. Caprice takes pleasure in opening him up and removing them in the SARK unit, with or without an audience. Once removed they donate them to the National Organ Registry where they catalog them.

The two officers of the National Organ

Registry are a performance art addict named Whippet, and his assistant, Timlin (played by Kristen Stewart). Saul fascinates and arouses Timlin, while secretly she is also the mastermind of a body crime organization. She actually has the best monologue in the film as she tries to seduce Saul, wanting his fingers inside her (not what you think).

Detective Cope, a police officer, is investigating body crimes as a member of the New Vice. Saul is his informant inside the cabal of performance artists. Complex, no? Cope’s prime suspect is Lang Dotrice. He wants to take down him and the movement. Lang approaches Caprice and Saul to autopsy his son using the SARK unit.

This is the basic plot outline of the movie, without giving away the juicy parts, of which there are many.

Cronenberg takes us on a roller coaster ride showcasing a likely future dystopia. His metaphysics of numbness invites both the audience inside and outside the fourth wall of the screen to witness a new type of diversion. Extreme disfigurement becomes beauty; for example, the man with hundreds of ears sewn to his body. Bodily injury substitutes for tattoos and piercings both on the stage and in back alleys.

Cronenberg shows us the ultimate folly of ignoring climate change, and how the new good guys end up being hunted as bad guys. In this future, we witness the perversion of desire and sex into a non-reproductive entertainment. These humans adapt to this new sensuality because pain fell away from them. It truly takes body enhancement and disfigurement to a new level as they attend an Inner Beauty contest.

Crimes of the Future is the next level in science fiction, and it is not for the faint of heart. It takes a strong constitution to sit through, and an open mind. I loved it, and you will too, if you have the stomach for the bizarre and anatomic. And frankly, there is more to explore in it even after this review and several sittings.

SavagePlanets I 28




It is our pleasure to introduce a great new author on the specu lative scene: R. K. Thorne. R. K. Thorne is an independent fantasy and sci-fi author fueled by her addiction to notebooks, role-playing games, coffee, and imperial stouts. She read speculative fiction since before she was probably much too young to be doing so and encourages everyone to do the same. She lives in the green hills of Pennsylvania with her family and two gray cats that may or may not pull her chariot in their spare time. R.K. was recently spotted at the Nebula Awards serving on one of their panels. If you are lucky, you may just meet her on a castle wall, or taming an AI of an errant starship. For now, though, let’s sit down and share a chat.

Thank you for agreeing to speak with us today, Ms. Thorne.

I’d like to start off with a question that might be a thorny issue (no pun intended, although…). Many female au

thors abbreviate their first and middle name. This may be a throwback to a time when they did not respect female authors as they are today in the pub lishing industry. Was this part of your thinking when creating your author name, and if not, how did you

like J. R. R. Tolkien and J.D. Robb, so they served as inspiration. Potential uncon scious bias was a part of the equation, but not the most major contributor.

Here at SavagePlanets, we actively seek non-male writers and artists as they bring a cer tain sensitivity to their work. It gives a different mouth feel to their creations, that is now welcomed by us and pub lishers both in books, tele vision, and film. Famous male sci-fi writers like E. E. Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein often invited women to assist them with their female characteriza tion, to get the ‘voice’ right. How do you think women authors fare in writing male characters?

se lect it? And what are your thoughts about women writers in the industry?

Primarily, I wanted a short name that was easy to spell, remember, and fit on the cover. I also really admire au thors that had similar names

I have never been a man, it’s true. I have also never been a vampire, a dragon, or an astronaut, so I approach gen der, race, and age differences in characters the same way I approach all other aspects of characters: with research and empathy. But especially

29 I SavagePlanets

research. I’ll leave how well I write male characters to my male readers to judge, but I will say I did once get added to a “Male Paranormal Authors” list on Goodreads. That made me smile. I seem to have passed some kind of Turing test for that reader. Girls, in general, are conditioned to use different rhetorical techniques to achieve their goals in positions of authority and power, so writ ing male lead ers can require more crafting and careful consideration. For Aven in my Enslaved Chronicles, he gains power throughout the series, and I had to reflect on how his language changed as he advanced. At a certain point, I had to say, how is his voice different from mine?

In his case, he’s a very collaborative, social, idealistic character… who can be a bit indecisive at times. So, in the end, I used less direct language than, say, Ellen does in the Audacity Saga. She’s only known command and leadership—and to some degree, isolation—her whole life. For her lives are on the line for every decision she makes and order she gives, and that has

been viscerally clear since she’s a child. So, she’s much more direct and speaks more like a male character than Aven does. So, it takes consideration of the character and how they fit into society as well.

More broadly, how well an author fares at writing

in my life have always had more men than women in them, if not all men and boys. I hope that helps me tell their stories well.

You write both science fiction and fantasy. What is the dif ference between the two when writing them? Do you take on a distinct voice? Do you change the rules, and if so, how?

characters of different gen ders and backgrounds varies from author to author, so I wouldn’t generalize. I’m a woman who has mostly “male” hobbies and interests, like gaming and military history, so honestly, most spaces

They are differ ent, but I don’t really think of them as different when I’m writing. In sci-fi, I can use modern or futuristic cul tural references, which are a blast. I try to back every thing in actual hypothetical science—except maybe telepa thy. That applies to both SF and fantasy. So, when I think of magic systems in fantasy, I don’t describe them, but I have in my mind the physical, biological, or chemical process that’s taking place. If we’re breaking rules of physics, I think about which ones and how, that sort of thing. It’s not a free for all.

On a detail level, there are differences. I use different measurements (for example, meters versus paces). The grounding details are different based on the worlds. I

SavagePlanets I 30

don’t make any other delib erate changes. I like to write fantasy with modern sounding dialogue, too, because if this was really a fantasy world, we’re not speaking English, and this is a magical translation anyway, so using language that sounds archaic to the reader makes little sense. So, fantasy isn’t that different from coming up with science fiction for me. This probably comes from having influences who blurred the lines between genres, like Anne McCaffrey and Sharon Shinn.

In the trilogy for The Empress Cap sule and the novel la Deserter, your main character is Asian. Is there a certain reason for Commander Ryu to be Asian? Is she based on someone you know? Or is this a reflection of an Earth based outcome of war, or perhaps another reason outside the confines of those worlds?

I really enjoy stories with diverse representation, like Star Trek. There are so many wonderful experiences and cultures in our world to learn about! When I was writing the Enslaved Chronicles, I had broadened the representation of my characters, but I wanted to branch out more in the Audacity Saga, especially with its futuristic setting. So,

the Audacity has characters of many backgrounds, races, and ethnicities.

Ellen’s Korean and Australian heritage isn’t a huge part of her character, as she is raised from an early age

throughout The Empress Capsule, not just between Ryu and Kael, but involving all the characters and their interactions with each other. It generates a delightful sense of tension outside of the plot. When you started developing this and the stories in the trilogy were romance intended to be an import ant part, or did it evolve during the writing?

Heh! I don’t seem to be able to write stories that don’t include romantic tension. It’s too fun. Sexual tension is a powerful driver in a story, and it’s what I personally like to read. I also think it’s realistic; love and relationships are a huge part of human existence.

As I was think ing up the idea of the Audacity and playing with the idea of a ship staffed all or mostly by women, I thought, who would be a partic ularly bad person to put on that ship?

in an institution in space. If anything, the loss of that culture and heritage is more palpable in the story. As to choosing specific cultures to be inspired by, though, I do have a personal love for Korean culture, especially their graphic design, music, gaming, martial arts, and food.

We love the sexual tension

Kael’s character had already been percolating in my head, as I had also really wanted to write a sort of “space barbarian” type of character, sort of Warhammer inspired, and the two just seemed to be a perfect match for conflict and chaos.

Traditionally, science fiction has been a platform to ar gue political issues, ethical problems, social taboos, and

31 I SavagePlanets

philosophy in a relatively safe environment. Are there any pressing issues you would like to address, or have addressed in your books, or plan to ad dress in your future writing? Any common themes you want to pursue?

The major driver that unites all my work is hope. My characters hope for a better life, for progress into a better future. They persevere in the face of despair. As a millenni al, I think that deep interest in hope and determination is quite common in my generation. We haven’t exactly got the generational equivalent of a smooth ride so far. There has been a dearth of hope in the world. Philosophically, I’m interested in exploring stories of perseverance and optimism.

The Audacity Saga explores themes of gender and equali ty. What if we had a ship full of mostly women instead of mostly men? How would it be different? I explore themes of mental health, technology as an equalizer, and other people’s expectations. What is femininity in this context? Is dating on a ship full of your coworkers weird? I think it’s turned out to be a fun ride. J.D. Robb also inspired me to inject some more feminine technology into my sci-fi. My favorite example of this would be the artificially intelligent high heels that, of course, Ellen uses as a weapon in Capital Games. This hasn’t been intentional, but themes of cult propagan da frequently come up in my work. I love characters that are discovering—to their shock—that they’ve been lied to all along, that the truth is entirely different from what they’ve been led to believe.

Slavery is another theme that I keep unintentionally

inserting into my work. In the Enslaved Chronicles, I ask, what if the people who had the most power somehow had that power turned on them so that they were enslaved? How would someone make that happen? Why would they try? What would happen? What would it be like? But Kael, in the Audacity Saga when conscripted and then later biologically enslaved, does so in his own way. These characters have in common that they are being placed in situations where they want to do one thing but are being forced to do another, and they have to struggle for their own will to win the day.

I feel like that happens in ordinary life more often than we’d like to think. We are slaves to our own lofty stan dards, the expectations of our families or our jobs.

Do you have advice for young writers? What is your daily writing routine? Considering you are married with a cou ple of children, no doubt you have a full plate. Do you have advice for writers who are also mothers in organizing their time to get their books written and out there?

My biggest advice would be to write. It sounds funny, but it can often be hard for us as writers to produce a volume of work. But trust me, doing is better than thinking about it, researching about it, planning to do it, or reading a book on how to do it. Getting started writing can be hard, and if that’s a struggle, check out The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

As to productivity, becoming a parent helped me be more conscious and consistent with my time management. I use a great quarterly planning sys-

tem called HB90 from Sarra Cannon that uses quarterly planning and estimation skills to focus on goals during limited work time frames. It’s been a game changer. Daily, I sit down every after noon to write, but sometimes the story emerges on its own timeline—in the shower, at dinner, at the park. For that, I have the app Scrivener on my phone, and I will punch ideas into the manuscript there as well.

Two more pieces of advice. First, you must treat your work like what it is—work. Make time for it. Tell others you’re busy when it’s time to get the writing done. If it doesn’t get done, because life happens, reschedule it. Then reschedule it again. Keep try ing. Prioritize your writing. And second, the best thing we can do for our kids is show them examples of adults who are happy, ful filled, and pursuing their dreams. Why do we tell them to dream big, and then also not go after our own dreams? Be an example to them and show them that when you encourage them to pursue dreams, you mean it, because you’re doing it too.

We noticed you use an editor with all your writing. For our readers, who are also writers, what benefits have you found using an editor? Any regrets or surprises along the way? Any advice to our writers to make the best use of an editor in the creative process?

Editors are indispensable! Nothing can replace a fresh read through or new perspec tive. As an author, you can never really read through your work the way a reader does for the first time, but an editor can. So, they can

catch big and small things. I know the difference between they’re, their, and there just fine, but that doesn’t mean I’ll have the eagle eye to spot flubs and autocorrect oddities in a manuscript I’ve already read 50 or 500 times. And that’s not exaggerating. Editors also give you a fresh perspective. Things like “Wasn’t this character dry/wet/sitting/ standing/naked in the last scene? Suddenly here they’re not! Is that what you meant to happen?”

What are your next projects in both fantasy and science fiction? Can you give us a hint? Are there any genres you have written in, or want to write in?

My next novel Oath of Duty will finish out the Audacity Saga. That’s available for preorder now. After that, I also have a fantasy novella coming up titled Knight Devoted, which I’m so excited to share. It returns to my Enslaved Chron icles universe, but with new characters. After that, I’m dying to dig deep into the next book in my Clanblades series, which features magic swords, soul-bonded with snarky dragon protectors.

As for other things, I have more fantasy projects on the docket, a couple of sci-

fi ideas, and some science fantasy, too. I have more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write. At some point, I would love to write a Western. I have tried writing contemporary romance, but it’s diffi cult to do well. Someday! I also love mysteries and police procedurals, so I’m sure I’ll

I always wanted to write. When I was a kid, I enjoyed transcribing movies. I would pause the VHS, then type lines of dialogue into my giant laptop. It had no hard drive, just two floppy disks. One disk was the operating system, and one was the word processing program, and the screen only had two colors. *grin* After I’d transcribed several Disney movies, I started writing my own Westerns as plays. There were even romantic subplots in those old shoot out scenes. Dialogue is still what I write first.

Gradually I grew into read ing—and therefore writing— stuff that was mixed fantasy and sci-fi, which isn’t surprising considering I think my first adult fantasy novel was by Anne McCaffrey. My other major influences have been Orson Scott Card, JD Robb/Nora Roberts, Sharon Shinn, and Robert Heinlein. Recently,

try my hand at those, eventually.

A nice place to finish the inter view is at the beginning. How did you get started writing, and who were your major influences in both fantasy and science fiction?

I discovered Rick Riordan, and I’m really living for his books right now.

Thanks again for your won derful responses and we wish you splendid success on these SavagePlanets and beyond. Thanks again for the wonder ful interview!

33 I SavagePlanets
See Your Story In Print. Submissions:



subtitled New Horizons eclipses all the other current Star Wars and Star Trek series out there.

Seth MacFarlane started out making a spoof of Star Trek when he launched the television series The Orville. He wanted to humanize science fiction by injecting some satire and humor. It backfired. But his failure morphed into success as the stories, even from the first season, became engaging. It set a new bar for science fiction that now, in its third season,

In the third season, there is less humor from the series’ beloved characters, but more thoughtful insights into dilemmas that come from our future, and also from our present. Focusing on the science fiction, the stories exceed expectation. Yet we must return to the beginning first, to give you an oversight, and offer an understanding of why it is the best sci-fi series out there just now.

MacFarlane wrote a spec script for The Orville in 2016, and Fox green-lighted a thirteen episode first season. As his first live action television series, he might have been out of his depth, as some of the early episodes seemed tetchy. But the writing was solid, the parodies were irreverent, and he had a seasoned support staff to make the show what it is today, great!

MacFarlane felt the timing was right. The audience would be receptive to a satire of Star Trek and a series that didn’t take itself too seriously,

35 I SavagePlanets

particularly considering the recent success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool. But the critics were not as thrilled by the first season as the audience. However, the show topped out as the best debut in its Thursday night slot.

This resulted in Fox renewing the show for a second season in November 2017. And a year later, the California Film Commission offered the series a $16 million tax credit, assuring a third season. But a fourth season will be up to Disney executives, who took over the rights to the show.

Here’s hoping…

For those of you who haven’t seen it, or hard science scifi fans warned you off of it, here’s a quick look: USS Orville (ECV-197) is a midlevel exploratory vessel in the Planetary Union, a 25thcentury interstellar alliance of Earth and many other planets. Admiral Halsey offers Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) command of the ship as a favor and Hail Mary.

Before his divorce, he was

an up-and-coming officer on a heavy cruiser. Ed caught his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) inflagranti with Darulio (Rob Lowe), a Retepsian archaeologist, in their bed. Mercer is so devastated by Kelly’s adultery that his lax performance and a citation for being drunk on duty nearly costs him his career in the Union. Admiral Tom Halsey (Victor Garber) offers Ed the Captaincy with a caveat. His ex-wife must be his first officer. Heavy, right? But the ensemble cast adds levity to their difficult situation, as their adventures and missions unfold. Ed recruits Lt. Gordon Malloy, as helmsman, another troubled soul, given a second chance. Mercer does so over Halsey’s objection because of his history of sophomoric pranks. But Ed believes, and he proves to be, the best pilot in the fleet.

Lt. Commander John LaMar (J. Lee) starts out by Malloy’s side as navigator, but proves himself and becomes Chief Engineer. There is also Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson

Jerald) and her kids on board. Some of the notable alien crew include Bortus, a Moclan, and his husband, Klyden. Isaac, a Kaylon-1, is an artificial intelligence entity that comes onboard as an exchange crew member from what we will later know as an evil empire, an enemy of the Union. And then there’s Lt. Yaphit, an amorphous shape-shifting gelatinous alien engineer.

Unlike the USS Enterprise, the USS Orville’s crew meet and have beers after a stressful mission. They joke and play tricks on each other, creating a bond that is often deeper than the ones on Star Trek after multiple seasons. They are not as cuddly as those on Firefly, but are lovable. And when the going gets tough, they are hardened professionals.

One of the best science fiction episodes from the first season is New Dimensions, the 11th episode, in which the Orville shifts from three dimensions to a two-dimensional reality (flat land) to chase down and evade an elusive enemy. But they devote the first season to

SavagePlanets I 36

the Union’s original enemy, the Krill.

In season two, we learn more about the back stories of the main characters, interweaving adventures into their lives. We attend a trial on Moclan when Bortus and Klyden have a daughter, in a male-only society, and they argue for and against her sex change. Lt. Alara Kitan from Xelaya, a high gravity planet, has near super strength in one gee, and in one episode saves Mercer and Grayson, but resigns to be with her family.

In season three, MacFarlane pulls out the stops. He redirects the show from comedy to science fiction, but he also takes on many important social issues that are challenging

our society today. In the first episode he addresses racism, when Ensign Charly Burke (Anne Winters) expresses her hate for Isaac, when the Kaylon kills her lover. In the fifth episode, he tackles gender dysphoria, and teenage sex change, when Topa, Bortus and Klyden’s now male child seeks to become female once more. And in episode six, he tackles the abortion topic uniquely, using time travel to retrieve Lt. Malloy, after they stranded him on Earth four hundred years in the past and has a wife and two children after giving up hope of rescue.

Addressing these issues in science fiction is both safe and unsafe. The Disney executives may find this controversial approach not family friendly

enough for their channel. If there is no season four, it will be a substantial loss to the genre, as the strength of the science fiction tales eclipses the social issues discussed. The stories and the dialogue are simply wonderful.

Hopefully, this gives you an inkling of the magic in this show, and will make you want to watch the series from the beginning. The Orville and The Orville: New Horizons are well worth your time, even if you have to fold space to work it in to your schedule. This is definitely not a spin-off of the Family Guy for which Seth made his name, and that’s refreshing.

37 I SavagePlanets
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 38


Denal spoke in a whisper, “Look, the guard took my encrypted flashdrive. Please, get it back. My notes are in there. You know the password. You can use them before Simon figures it all out.” The passion in Denal’s voice increased, causing the whisper to esca late into almost a shout. “And when we have confirmation of the presence of a sustained amount of Dark Matter in the chamber, then you can go public and take it right out of Simon’s hands.”

39 I SavagePlanets

Denal sank deep into a couch by the window at his favor ite coffeehouse, staring into the void of his half-empty dark roast. The murmur of conversation in the Dark Daze mixed with the espresso machine sounds formed a cloud of white noise around him. As discreet as possible, he quickly added another generous pour of whiskey into his coffee.

Pulling an encrypted flash-drive

Extraterrestrial Fiction

from his coat pocket, he held it precariously over the hot liquid. The memory chip contained his personal notes on the highly clas sified Dark Matter Detector proj ect. He discovered something that no other scientist on the project was aware of, and revealing the secret breakthrough to his boss would surely get him fired. Simon was not to be trusted. Not after the way Denal had seen the man remove talented scientists from

other projects just so he could take all the credit.

Denal felt a warm flush after downing more of his alcohol infused concoction. He wasn’t drunk yet, but if Angela took any longer to find him, then she might have to carry him home. Despite a bladder signaling for release, the forty-five-year-old engineer remained seated. He wanted her to see his smiling face as soon

SavagePlanets I 40

as she stepped into the place. Only Angela would provide him comfort from the strain of his work. If only she’d take him back.

They’d been dating for two years, then three weeks ago she abruptly broke it off. At first, she wouldn't reply to his messages, but he wore her down until she finally agreed to this last meeting. She hadn’t shown up yet, but he’d wait until the end of time.

Another thirty minutes ticked by, drifting into the late afternoon as more patrons made their way inside. Denal had to go, but he had to be quick. An overextended bladder was in control now, and his mindover-matter trick wasn’t working anymore. He stood carefully, maybe a bit more drunk than he thought. The room gave a quick whirl around him. Stable at last, he started for the bathroom when his ankle caught on a beefy leg that came out of nowhere.

“Hey, watch it,” the man said.

Denal tried to regain his balance, but another misstep launched him forward double-time. The world seemed to slow. Instead of land ing on his face, Denal rolled until landing on his back. No pain. That was good, at least. The ceiling fan above him loomed in hypnotic rota tion. In all of his many visits to the Dark Daze, this was the first time he noticed the fans hanging on their long tubes within the black painted ceiling.

He watched them turn until several faces blocked his unique view. One of them was Angela. Her long gold en hair dangled in front of her face. Angry cocoa-colored eyes glared down at him, yet she captured the look of an angel coming to his res cue. Offered an extended hand, she

helped him become vertical again.

“I’m taking you home,” she said.

After his necessary bathroom break, they left the coffee shop, and he slid into the passenger seat of her spotless red Prius. She pulled the car onto the road.

“Thanks for meeting me,” Denal said. “I’d probably still be lying on the floor in a pool of my urine if it weren’t for you.” He chuckled and waited for a response. Nothing. She obviously let go of the closeness they once shared.

At the first red light, she twisted in her seat to face him. “We are not meeting, Denal, and you’re not my problem anymore.” She had said the same thing during her break-up speech, except last time she also listed the various issues she couldn’t put up with any longer. These in cluded his long work hours, com plaints about his boss, the mumbled calls for his ex-wife while he slept. And of course, his recent drinking.

He withdrew a flask from his pock et, sucking the last drops from it as Angela hit the accelerator. She kept her eyes forward and asked, “Why can’t you stop calling me? Wait… don’t answer that.”

Denal rolled the window down while searching for something funny to say, but his thoughts returned to his work. He tightened the cap of his flask and looked out at the buildings rushing by. Their long shadows flickering across the sidewalk. “That asshole doesn’t get it.”

“Are you talking about your boss again? Did you finally get fired?”

“No, but I wanted to see you one last time. Before—”

“Before what?”

Denal stared down at his clenched flask. “I can’t say.”

Angela’s face contorted in frustra tion. “You need to get out of this car and get the hell out of my life.” She pulled to the side of the road near his apartment and slammed on the brakes. Their heads bobbed from the sudden stop.

She glanced in the rear-view to compose herself. “I’m tired of your secrets. And please don’t call again.”

He stepped out and shut the door.

“And stop living in the past, Denal. It’ll ruin your life.”

The past seemed to be all he had now. A cold November breeze smacked him in the face, but it barely registered as her electric car hummed away.

Once inside his apartment, Denal sat on the cluttered couch and pulled a nine millimeter revolver from underneath the cushion. He examined the shining black weapon in his hands, turning it and knowing how it would do whatever he asked of it. The phone rang.

“Where have you been?” Tobin asked.

“Here,” Denal stashed the weapon back under the seat, “at home.”

It had been several days since he’d last seen his partner at PowerTech. Tobin was more than that, though. They met in college and became fast friends. After graduation, they were both recruited to the company at the same time.

“Listen,” Tobin said, “Simon has

41 I SavagePlanets

taken over the project, and our equipment is being transferred to a more secure location upstairs.”

“What? Why would he do that?” Denal pictured his overbearing su perior barking orders and scooping up files.

“He thinks we’ve disregarded pro tocol. Did you do something?”

To give up control of his work was unthinkable. How dare Simon take that away? Denal knew that with out his guidance, Simon wouldn’t see the worth of it and possibly scrap the entire project. The man hated anything he didn’t create himself. “On my way,” Denal said.

He carried his bicycle downstairs and placed it on the busy sidewalk. Straddling the seat, he rocked left and right while figuring a path across town with the least amount of traffic. Deep purple and preg nant clouds covered the afternoon sky. He dialed the route into his brain and hoped the exercise would help scrub opposing influ ences of alcohol and caffeine still surging through his bloodstream.

key card into the slot and pressed B4. Access denied. He slammed the button for the above-ground level A2. Stopping outside of Simon’s office, Denal took a few calming breaths and entered to find the man sitting at his desk with his usual smug expression. Tobin stood nearby and looked as helpless as a baby bird in a cat’s mouth. Denal marched up to the edge of the desk. “Where is my machine?”

Simon straightened his back to project authority. “I’ve moved our machine to a more secure area.”

He slid two security access cards across his desk toward Tobin. “No access tonight, but sometime to morrow, these cards will start work ing again. I will not revoke them as long as you adhere to my rules.”

Denal felt like Simon had just stabbed him in the stomach. His worst fears of losing control of the project seemed inevitable.

Simon leaned back in his chair. “I’ve read your notes, and it looks like you’re a long way from proving you’ve detected anything of actual substance.”


It started raining when Denal dumped his bike near the en trance of PowerTech. The complex occupied an entire block close to the campus of a major research in stitute. The downtown urban clutter of buildings pressed in on him. He pushed through the rotating lobby door as the clock showed six pm. Most employees would be gone. He headed down to the lab to find it empty, except for a few spare parts littered about.

Inside the elevator, he inserted his

“You’re drunk,” Simon said. He walked around to face Denal and assumed an aggressive stance. “Maybe I should pull you off the project… for good.”

Denal leaned in and imagined shoving Simon so far backward he’d fall into that black-hole he always theorized about. Before he gave what would have been a most satisfying push, Tobin’s hand rested on his shoulder. “We should leave.”

“Good idea,” Denal answered,

snatching a keycard from the desk and storming out of the office. Arriving at the ground-floor lobby, he thought about visiting the electrical room and flipping a power disconnect. It might be nice to leave his idiot boss in utter darkness. The sobering thought of being fired for doing that kept him from even that small revenge.

Denal parked his bike under Angela’s front porch and knocked at her door. The cold and wet ride soaked him through to the bone. He crashed once on the way because of the numbness in his arms. She opened the door with a look of clear pity on her face.

“You said not to call anymore. So can I at least come in? It’s freezing out here!”

She let him in. “Whatever, but you can’t stay.”

“I know. I must’ve lost my phone on the ride over.” He grabbed her cordless from the counter and dialed a number while he found his way to the couch. “We need to talk. Meet me at the mall, ASAP. Bye.”

Denal dropped the phone to the coffee table and rubbed his palms over his eyes a few times.

“You don’t look well,” Angela said.

He looked up at her. The deep cocoa eyes of her worried face stared back. Those eyes, so much like Rachel’s. “I’m sorry Rach, uh, Angela.” As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew it was a mistake.

“First your boss, and now we’re

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 42

back to your ex?!”

His slip of the tongue brought back memories of his wife. How he lost her. How his job at PowerTech kept him checked out of their marriage until she checked out of his life.

He stood to meet her gaze. “In a perfect world —”

“There’s no such thing,” she said.

“In a perfect world, she’d still be alive.” He wiped a tear from his eye. “It’s my fault. I should have stayed.”

“No. Rachel died of an overdose, yet you talk like she wears some kind of halo. It was her choice, not yours.”

Denal paused at the front door. His visit to Angela didn’t ease the guilt he carried with him. If only he could go back in time and dump his screwed up priorities. He'd be there for Rach, instead of slaving over his damn project.

“Goodbye,” he said, and walked out. In his heart, he let go of Angela for good.

around this place?”

“Remember the special key we invented?” Denal asked, “There wasn’t a single locked door on campus we couldn’t open.” The good times they had were many, and their worries were few. He wished for one moment he could return there and be that young man again. “Do you know that most places around town still use those same Deltrex readers?”

Tobin smiled, but his face went quickly slack. “We don’t do that anymore,” he said. “Put away childish things, right?” He shifted position on the bench. “Why aren’t you home?”

Denal stood and took a step toward the water’s edge. An icy breeze from the Charles River cut through his layered clothing, sending a shiver up his back. He gazed across the watery expanse and imagined it car rying him away. “If I go back home, I’ll die.”

“Jesus, man, what are you saying?”

Denal lowered his head. His back still turned away from Tobin. “I’ve had thoughts of ending it all.”

“I didn’t know,” Tobin whispered.

he will discover what modifications I’ve been hiding.”

“So you’ve been keeping me in the dark about our machine, a machine specifically designed to bring Dark Matter into the light?”

“Yes,” he chuckled, “I have been keeping you in the dark. But does it really… ‘matter’… to you?”

Tobin fake-punched him in the arm. “Ass. So please tell me already?”

“I can’t tell you. Gonna have to show you.”

Denal sat on a park bench, one of many stretching the length of the campus mall. He waited and hoped his longtime friend would arrive. The rain ceased, but the air still hung heavy with the scent of ozone.

“Old habits are hard to break,” Tobin said as he approached.

“Indeed,” Denal replied.

Tobin sat alongside him and cupped his hands to warm his breath. “This takes me back. Who knew after all these years we’d still be kicking

“My breakup with Angela, and with Simon ready to shut down our proj ect, well, life seemed to matter less and less. But,” Denal turned back around, “all that changed during my last visit to the lab. Right before Simon cut our access.”

Denal’s sudden smile made Tobin look confused.

“There’s something amazing about our baby,” Denal said. “It does more than I specified in the official log. But now that the jerk moved the machine into his super-secure area,

Denal held his keycard up to the reader and the glass double-doors slid apart. The exterior camer as were running, of course, but he didn’t care. Some employees worked after-hours, so it wasn't unusual to enter the building just before midnight. Tobin followed.

The additional space was much larger than the previous location in the basement. High walls of white surrounded them with the machine in the center of the room. It loomed before the two men as a massive cone at least twenty feet tall. Its surface gleamed of chrome, with the sharp top pointing at the distant ceiling.

“After my keycard started working again,” Denal said, “I stayed late and added several new power links. I also reset the overload parame ters, just in case.”

“So, what’s the big secret?” Tobin asked.

“Forget about merely illuminating traces of Dark Matter in our vicinity

43 I SavagePlanets

— how about attracting it?”

“That’s absurd,” Tobin said. “We barely understand all its properties. Just being able to see it for ourselves is what our project has been all about.”

“Yes, I am quite aware of that,” Denal replied.

Tobin stepped up to the machine. Even though it wasn't operat ing, he peered into the cylinder shaped viewport protruding from the device. “Man, I seriously doubt that this machine can collect Dark Matter and stuff it into a bucket.”

Denal rested a hand on the smooth mirror surface of the device, strok ing it. “Muhammad can do it.”

“Who the heck is Muhammad? Oh, I see. That's your new name for the machine.”

“Yeah, he’ll bring the mountain to us. You like it, right?”

Tobin pulled away from the view port. “And what does that mean, exactly?”

“Collect the dark stuff into a bucket, like you said. Except our bucket is very power-hungry.”

“That would be extraordinary,” Tobin said, “if you're right.”

“My last test-run showed more exotic material in the chamber every time I increased the pow er. Muhammad must attract it somehow. Drawing more and more into the viewing chamber. Unfortunately, whatever it collects inside dissipates too quickly for further analysis.”

“Denal, if this is really hap pening, we need to tell Simon.


Denal ignored his friend and placed a fist up to his chin in concentration. “I’ve figured out that lack of power is the main issue, along with a slight modification needed for the silicone detector. There wasn’t enough in the old lab, but,” he pointed at a vast section of equipment along the far wall, “these new transformers will give us all the juice we need. Think of it, being able to grab a chunk of the invisible fabric making up the universe.”

Denal entered the start sequence into the computer terminal. A puls ing electrical hum emanated from the machine. As moments passed, the sound grew steadily in volume.

“You're doing this right now?”

“Yeah... and we’ll be heroes!”

Tobin shot out his hand and hit the all-stop button. The hum faded. “We can’t do this.”

As if on cue, a voice echoed down the corridor, “Who’s in there?” The sound of footsteps stopped when a security guard appeared in the doorway.

“Just us lowly scientists,” Tobin shouted back. He looked over at Denal and mouthed a silent curse.

“Nobody’s allowed in here after hours, unless by special permis sion. You have it?”

“Uh, forgot to get that,” Tobin said. Denal reluctantly followed him and the guard through the exit.

Bleak margarine lighting of the county detention center washed over Tobin and Angela as they stood outside Denal’s cell.

“Ah, so you’re here to bail me out?”

“No, Denal, we are not.” Angela said.

“Why did you try to break back into the lab right after we just got kicked out?” Tobin asked.

“I needed to test Muhammad at full power.”

“Testing, yes, but not without more precautions, and Simon’s approval, of course.”

Denal looked down at the floor. “You’ll never understand.” He clenched the bars before him. “That asshole will surely take all the credit. Don’t you see?”

Tobin gave a slight nod to the wellknown fact of Simon’s poaching of intellectual property.

Denal spoke in a whisper, “Look, the guard took my encrypted flash-drive. Please, get it back. My notes are in there. You know the password. You can use them before Simon figures it all out.” The passion in Denal’s voice increased, causing the whisper to escalate into almost a shout. “And when we have confirmation of the presence of a sustained amount of Dark Matter in the chamber, then you can go public and take it right out of Simon’s hands.”

Tobin shook his head. “This is too important a discovery. Besides, he permanently revoked both of our access cards.”

Denal slumped onto the stainless steel bench beside him.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 44

“Yes, I'm off the project too,” Tobin added.

“We have to go now,” Angela said. “You really need help, Denal. Get some.”

Their footfalls faded until the loud exit door buzzed and clicked.

Denal muttered to himself, “I have nothing left.”

He opened both hands to the ceil ing. “Now this is all I have. Do you know what I've discovered? With the right containment, Dark Matter becomes a visible, tangible, usable source of energy. A stable mix of both matter and antimatter.”

The beautiful ring looked just like a halo, reminding Denal of some thing Angela had said earlier. Yes, if anyone was worthy of a halo, it was Rachel.

“Open the door, do it now!” Denal demanded. He stood behind Simon and nudged the muzzle of the gun into his back. Simon responded by placing his keycard near the access panel. The lab doors slid open.

“Are you going to shoot me now?” Simon asked.

Denal ignored him and flicked a switch on the wall, flooding the large room with light.

“Okay, I guess not. I heard they locked you up. So how did you escape?”

Denal waved the gun above his head, “This place might be as se cure as the Pentagon, but the deten tion center still uses those ancient card readers.” He directed Simon to sit on a metal chair and tied him up using several feet of Ethernet cable.

“If you release me,” Simon pleaded, “I won’t press charges, and we can continue this project the right way.”

“You mean, your way?” Denal slammed his fist on a control con sole. “I used to believe that nothing was more important than providing answers about the universe, but it cost me the only one I ever loved.”

“The only thing I see before me is a madman with a half-baked theory who just ended his career.” Simon struggled to wrest himself free, but he froze when Denal started the activation sequence. Steadying himself, Simon continued. “Your theories Denal, they may be valid,” he gave a half-hearted smile, “but to think you can contain some thing so exotic and dangerous this early on just isn't responsi ble. Testing your theories this way could cause planetary annihilation.”

Denal scoffed. “Just like when they said we’d create a black hole when we fired up the Large Hadron Collider and it’d swallow the Earth? I've run my calculations. This will be perfectly safe now that I’ve made the critical modifications to the containment chamber.”

“But are you absolutely sure?”

“It is a risk. But it’s one, you and I,” Denal rested a hand on Simon’s shoulder, “will have to take.”

Simon strained hard against his bonds, then halted when he noticed Denal rotating a large dial all the way to the right. “No! Stop! You’ll kill us… you’ll kill us all!”

The floor shook as the machine be gan absorbing more electricity than several city blocks at peak load. A piercing note filled the air, along with a brilliant icy-blue ring of light hovering above the top of the cone.

In an instant, the ring expanded in all directions. Vaporizing the facility and everything within an unimag

Nothingness reigned. No light, no sound, no heat, no cold, yet Denal knew he was somewhere. At least his mind was somewhere, but he had no physical body. His thoughts, yes, they made him real.

45 I SavagePlanets

After what seemed like eons, a pinpoint of light appeared in the darkness. Soon it inflated with incredible speed, as if from the on coming headlight of a bullet train. It surrounded him with a swirling ball of fire. A sound like thunder and a hurricane-force wind rushed over him. Denal felt very much alive

Denal recalled a recent theory someone proposed suggesting Dark Matter comprises the center of the Milky Way galaxy, instead of a supermassive black-hole. The implication filled him with dread. If so, there might be a much great er amount nearby than anyone realized. Still, he appeared to be inside a swirling vortex of matter and antimatter… yet no mutual annihilation.

He soaked in the moment, assum ing his last thread of conscious ness would soon give way to nothingness. No death came. Instead, the raging expanse about him pulled away and coalesced into the flickering shape of a window before him. All scientific inquiry fell from his mind; for inside the vibrating portal was a familiar scene, his kitchen, and there stood Rachel.


He remembered this day. His heart-wrenching choice was to forsake life with her and pursue his intellectual passion. The day he walked out.

But how could the machine bring him here, watching her, the tears streaming down her soft face?

Denal’s anguish returned as he watched himself walk out the door. Having to relive the pivotal events of his goodbye, unfold yet again, for another heart-wrenching time.

he’d ever had.

Watching this part of his life play out, Denal wondered how he could have hardened his heart to such a degree. Focusing on work and nothing more. He never should have left her to pursue his dream of making scientific history.

Ambition became irrelevant now. He wished with all his might for another chance at living. So what if life isn’t perfect? Maybe it’s not meant to be. There will always be those dark moments. Moments of regret. But he could live with that, as long as Rachel was there.

Denal wanted to go to her now. Leap into the past and maybe change the outcome. Even if the rules of the universe wouldn't let him change what happened, at least he could try. The universe is unimaginably vast; he thought. Even larger than human compre hension when he factored in some type of multiverse. But how did the Dark Matter accomplish this? He chided himself for still thinking like a cold-hearted scientist. What really mattered? Just Rachel.

The strange window shimmered before him, seeming to phase in and out of existence. He had a feeling it wouldn't stay open much longer. Inside, he saw Rachel there, still in tears. Like she was waiting for someone to ease her pain.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Maybe he destroyed the Earth, or even the entire universe. He would never know. Maybe he now existed in some altogether different plane of existence. One thing he knew for sure, the modification he had employed to protect against an overload must have failed.

Forget the how. Why was he taken back to this deeply buried mo ment of regret? Maybe because it was all he ever thought about… a thought made real when given the right combination of Dark Matter and energy. He drew up to the bor der of the life-sized movie before him, more vivid than any memory

Funny how all the wrong choices he’d been making over the last few years had led him back to this place and time. With a desper ate hope of reaching a path not chosen, Denal launched himself headlong into the portal. With any luck, he would make it back to her, and into the imperfect world of life.

SavagePlanets I 46
47 I SavagePlanets


Extraterrestrial Fiction

When the Crispy Creme cashier slid Vera Coll the receipt, there were three full boxes of assorted donuts. Moments after the novelty of finding a Crispy Creme store in Dubai ended, she stared at the green and white boxes. How many times had she knocked on that suite door with gifts only to be rebuffed harshly?

Disillusioned, Vera sat in the cordoned outdoor seated area. The donut shop was many blocks from the E11, the-six-lane major artery through downtown Dubai, but she could still hear the hypnotic roar of traffic. Dubai was cleaner than her hometown of West Oakland, though certainly far bigger, but still disappointing.

Perhaps because she had seen no Emiratis. Men in those

distinguished, white, ankle-length gowns with the matching muslin headscarves; women in the flowing licorice-colored over-garment; and children in miniature forms of both; she had seen no one wearing any of the traditional garb since stepping out of Dubai International Airport.

In the weeks that she’d been in Dubai, that was the one thing she’d wanted to see, yet all she saw were guest workers and tourists.

It was such a trivial goal, yet life seemed determined to frustrate even her most insignificant plans and hopes. Maybe it was karma. Vera winked through different periods in her life with reckless abandon.

Years before, she went down the

rabbit hole in search of the “Great Winker.” Vera winked back just a couple hours before her final AP British Literature class, discovering that she’d failed to see or complete the backside of an exam.

A taxi horn blared, bringing Vera’s attention back to her seat inside it, and that’s when she noticed she’d eaten an entire box of donuts absentmindedly. She stared at the rings of grease the donuts left. She could almost hear her oldest sister chastise her for ‘self-medicating.’

“You can’t devour dépression, Vera,” Aliya loved to quip. “It only devours you.”

That was her sister who, despite

SavagePlanets I 48
As far as her attempts with DeWayne went, Vera had set a new personal best for fastest rejection. As she nursed a cup of overpriced coffee in the hotel’s cafe, it occurred to Vera that she’d always made her requests about her: her wants, her needs, her home, denying his autonomy and history."

being the least educated among her siblings, felt obliged to give Vera unsolicited mental health advice and dating tips. Vera listened, because Aliya always seemed like she had it all together. She was thinner than Vera and had her own money, and these were the only two yardsticks Vera and her teenage friends used until their senior year of college.

Aliya was a walking hair advertisement, her zigzagging cornrows so majestic they looked more like obsidian architecture than a hairstyle — well — the first iteration of her oldest sister, anyway. In her sister’s fifth iteration, inspired undoubtedly by Willow Smith, she cut it all off. Aliya, in that antitraditionalist iteration, traded her ornate hairstyle for a buzz-cut, it weaponized her condescending stares.

Wrists on her hips, Aliya would dispense hair salon wisdom and news on current events from half-read headlines. Despite their restrictive upbringing, the Coll children were all like that. All half-cocked guns with triggers already partially pulled. Vera missed them terribly. She pictured them sitting beside her in the taxi's backseat in which she now rode, pointing out skyscrapers that caught their eye, and Bentley's they never saw back in California.

Vera was almost at the luxurious Burj Al Arab hotel when she realized that she’d eaten half of the second box of donuts. She sighed, told herself that donuts were like atoms. After all, even the part that wasn’t hollow was mostly spongy dough. And so what if she finished the box? She’d end up winking back the full twenty-four hours again. Especially if her meeting failed.

In some ways, she mused, life was a lot like donuts: hollow, cheap, cyclical, and usually the consequence of some young fool’s hedonistic mistake. It was a macabre thought. One she hoped she didn’t entirely believe. Vera wiped her sticky hands with

the cheap wax paper the cashier claimed were napkins, grumbling when they stuck to her fingers. She looked out the taxi’s tinted window. Skyscrapers of glass and concrete lined the highway on both sides. It was a November afternoon in the Arabian metropolis, but the weather was only a few degrees cooler than a Californian summer.

When the taxi pulled up to the Burj Al Arab’s gilded doors, Vera clumsily fished leathery bills out of her breast pocket with the only finger that wasn’t still sticky. The driver looked at the red hundred dirham bill incredulously.

“I don’t have change,” he said.

confidence, the staff wouldn’t bother her with the tired service industry refrain: the disingenuous ‘can I be of assistance?’

Moments later, she stood in front of Suite 3 on the penthouse floor, one hand balancing the surviving donut box, the other trembling as it rested on the bronze door handle. Vera released the handle and took deep a breath. Closed her eyes and focused on the hypnotic rhythm of her heartbeats before she repeated a mantra to herself.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

She knew they wrongly attributed this quote to Einstein, just as she knew that the jaded guest of the suite would most likely refuse her request regardless of how she framed it. When the breathing exercise failed to end her panic attack completely, she tried to relieve the mounting tension in her chest by telling herself that she didn’t have to pitch her request perfectly, just differently. That failure, if done properly, can be its own kind of victory.

Still chanting, Vera knocked on the suite door.

Hey, DeWayne?”

“Whatever. I don’t need it,” Vera said, and then, as though he would understand what she was talking about, added, “I’ll probably end up winking back later today.” She laughed dryly. “And I don’t need the extra cab fare or calories.”

She’d closed the car door harder than intended and turned toward the massive revolving door before the confused driver took off.

She passed the bellhops in their cerulean jackets and brimless caps, heading toward the gold paneled elevators at the back of the lobby. She’d learned a long time ago that if she navigated the Burj Al Arab’s opulent halls and chambers with

She spoke like an overly friendly server to a table of regulars, her voice inflected just in the way she read about in a Psych-Today! article several winks ago. ‘Speak as if you’d just nailed the punchline of a successful joke!’ Then Smile.

A baritone, more groggy than thunderous, responded from deep inside Suite 3.

“Who is it?”

Vera pushed the door open and stepped inside the foyer. There were empty chip bags strewn about under the coffee table, and various black coffee stains fractured the intricate geometric design on the floor.

49 I SavagePlanets

“My name’s Vera Coll and I need your help, DeWayne,” Vera said.

Books were everywhere, some grouped in columns like candles at a shrine, some on the kitchen counter, some on the coffee table. She identified several books on Quantum Field Theory — whatever that was. She usually came around this same time, but she’d never seen his suite so messy.

DeWayne appeared in the living area in a bathrobe and an eggshell shirt, in desperate need of washing. He was a bear of a man in size, hair length, and disposition. The curly black growth on his face spread from his chin in all directions, as if it was trying to conquer his face and invade his chest.

“How can you be so sure you need my help,” DeWayne said, “when I’ve never seen you before in my life?”

Vera held her gift out.

“That’s because I’m a winker, a time traveler, like you,” Vera said.

At the word ‘winker,’ DeWayne winced. It was a small micro-spasm, completely undetectable by those who hadn’t seen the same expression countless times. DeWayne did not approach Vera to take the proffered gift. Instead, he collapsed on the middle of the sofa in the middle of the room, pulling the sides of his robe over his bulging stomach.

Vera swallowed and heard her throat click. Usually, the mere mention of winking turned DeWayne’s lack of hospitality into explosive hostility, yet so far, he seemed docile. So Vera slid her gift onto the coffee table, stepped back, and continued.

“I need your help to wink back to my original home. You know, I’ve tried everything, breathing exercises, looking through photographs, and other things before attempting it, but it doesn’t matter. I keep winking back to different versions of my

life. Different versions of my family. Sometimes the differences are big, sometimes small, but usually the new reality has both. I’ve tried probably hundreds of times, but it’s no use.”

“So you’re lost between timelines, each one different from the last.” DeWayne said.

“Yes!” Vera said, much more ebulliently than she’d expected. It was the first time he’d ever responded with anything remotely resembling interest in her situation.

“And you’ve met hundreds of different versions of the same people in these alternate timelines?”

mean — sugar powdered donuts? Seriously? Have you ever inhaled while eating one of these things? Why couldn’t you find any anthrax on your way here?”

“Go to hell, DeWayne.”

“I’ve already winked there, twice,” DeWayne said cooly. Vera turned and stormed out of the suite.

“And for goodness’ sake,” DeWayne hollered after her, “take your fried mess with you!”


Vera said, that DeWayne seemed to care.

DeWayne nodded slowly.

“Then you shouldn’t have any problem finding someone who gives a crap.”

Vera’s smile faded as she realized DeWayne’s sarcastic tone was there the whole time.

“You think you’re the first winker to find me with a sob story demanding I help them?” DeWayne scoffed. Vera glared. “You could have just said ‘no’ like you usually do.”

“And you could have actually brought me a decent gift.” DeWayne wagged his finger at the box. “I

As far as her attempts with DeWayne went, Vera had set a new personal best for fastest rejection. As she nursed a cup of overpriced coffee in the hotel’s cafe, it occurred to Vera that she’d always made her requests about her: her wants, her needs, her home, denying his autonomy and history.

All that rage had to be coming from somewhere, yet in the few times she broached the topic, DeWayne had turned dangerous. Vera was growing tired of his dismissiveness, and she could only guess at the pain in the deepest part of him. She resolved to return with a less self-centered approach. She’d wink back the day and try again.

Returning the mug, she closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. She focused on their rhythm and soon the tingle of silverware of the kitchen staff faded into white noise. Hands in lap, she mentally conjured the two star budget hotel she’d woken up in. The strands of her hair stuck in the thin, waxy bar of soap next to the sink. Her tweed luggage, the left tread-less wheel, cracked. She pictured the olive green Qu’ran with the elaborate golden Arabic calligraphy on the back in the dresser drawer on the bed’s left side. The dried tributary of rust

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 50
“I said, who is it?”

from the corroded handles and nobs that stained the shower basin. As she deepened her breathing, the napkins in the ornate napkin holder standing in the middle of the table rustled.

There was the pull of the hotel’s linen against the tiny hairs on her arms and legs. The thrum from the air-conditioning. She pictured every fiber and nook, every detail of the hotel room that morning.

Like a pond’s surface underneath a hummingbird, tiny ripples disturbed her coffee. Vera inhaled and when she exhaled, she was supine in her hotel bed. She sat up, looked around the room once, and then crashed back into bed.

“Okay,” she said to the room. “No custard filling. No frills. Just glazed.”

events Vera could only imagine. He grunted, maybe in contempt or irritation, Vera couldn’t tell, and padded toward the kitchenette.

‘So far, so good,’ Vera told herself.

DeWayne brewed fresh coffee with his back to her. He brewed it to complement the donuts. Vera said nothing. She’d burned far too many chances, telling him too much, too quickly. Instead, she sat in the love seat by the coffee table. Its floor-to-ceiling windows probably offered a breathtaking view of at least one of Dubai’s manmade islands, but he’d drawn the curtains.

I’m going to go ahead and pre-empt whatever you want to ask. No.”

“What?” Vera questioned, her face burning. “You know I’ve done this a bunch of times and you’re not even going to hear me out?”

“How about I see you out?”

Vera returned to DeWayne’s room with a box of original glazed donuts and a new plan. On the taxi ride to his hotel, she’d resolved not to use the word “winker” until he started eating the donuts. She knocked on the door and peered inside the suite. Same clutter as before.

“Who is it?” DeWayne said.

“A friend. One who could really use your advice. And I brought a treat.”

DeWayne lumbered out of the bedroom, scratching himself through his basketball shorts. Again, he frowned at the donut box, making no attempt to take it, even after Vera asked how he was and remarked that she’d never buy sugar powdered donuts.

“How do you know I hate those?” His tone suggested that some part of him already knew the answer.

“You told me an hour from now,” Vera stammered. “I’m… like you. I — I know you’ve got your own thing going, but I need your help to get home.”

The dawning recognition on DeWayne’s face, he limited to a single raised eyebrow. His brown eyes remained distant, sparkling with the experience of myriad

DeWayne carried a mug of fresh coffee into the living room. He sat, slid his gift around and flipped open the box top. Sugar and grease, mixed with hints of the fresh grind, wafted through the air.

“How many times have you done this?” DeWayne asked, interrupting her. His massive hand wavered over the dozen. She ignored his question and answered her own. “I’ve tried to wink back home several hundred times. And each time, it’s totally different. My family, my friends, sometimes—”

“No, how many times have we had this conversation?”

“Three times.”

DeWayne sipped his coffee and smacked derisively at the obvious lie. He scratched his bearded mane.

“I’m going to assume,” DeWayne began, “despite evidence to the contrary, that you’re an intelligent traveler who wouldn’t wink back just to repeat the same mistakes. Each time you tried to coerce me, I refused to help you. You’ve failed so often; you even know my donut preference.”

He sampled a glazed donut thoughtfully. It suddenly occurred to Vera that she’d seen no one eat a donut in such gloom.

“Whatever you need, my other iterations were unsympathetic. So

“You know what?” Vera said. She jumped up and jabbed a finger in his face. “You are the cruelest asshole I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting, DeWayne. It literally costs you nothing to listen to me, but you can’t do that? Why? Because you think you know what I’ll say? You don’t know me or—”

“Okay, let me take a stab at it,” DeWayne said, his tone suddenly officious. “It was some time during puberty you started having bizarrely vivid premonitions. Long vivid experiences usually replacing your dreams. You’re sixteen-ish when you figure out you actually time traveled. By the middle of high school, you realize you can control it if you concentrate hard enough — how am I doing so far?”

Vera slid on her belly down life’s playground slide and landed face first in the sandpit. She wheezed out a “What?” before DeWayne continued.

“Initially, you’re thrilled to be a time traveler. And why shouldn’t you be? Your parents raised you on X-Men

51 I SavagePlanets
amused. The tiniest smile curved inside his bearded thatch.

movies and superhero cartoons. By college, you’ve got it wired,” he made a flowery gesture with both hands, “I’m gonna save the world!”

After a sip of coffee, DeWayne reached for another donut. He pushed the whole thing into his mouth. Flakes of donut glaze fell from his beard as he continued.

“Really, you’ve got a hyper-inflated sense of self brought on by the selfabsorbed culture of youth, but you don’t care. You’ve winked back up to a couple months by this point, maybe prevented a car accident or a suicide and you figure ‘it’s time for the big stuff: why not try a few years?’ And that’s when things go horribly, horribly wrong — does this sound familiar?”

Vera stared at her fingers, then rubbed her eyes; they were wet. Emotions she hadn’t felt since her teens came roaring back in a maelstrom She felt seen and broken. Strangely, she wanted to hug DeWayne. Then had this urge to lunge over the table and pommel him. How could he understand so much about her struggle yet refuse to help? Had he winked back to warn her? Would she have remembered if he had?

Still dumbstruck by the distilled clarity with which he narrated her life, she opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

“See, you want to know what every other winker who finds me wants to know,” DeWayne said. “And I going to tell you; there is no going home — ever.”

He stood, brushing flakes off his chest.

“You can see yourself out.”

hand. The hotel bartender told her Emirati law prohibited them from allowing her to take the bottle out of the establishment. However, an experienced winker knew, with proper patience and craftiness, nothing is impossible.

The TV screen panned to a shot of two Egyptian action heroes, clearly pushing sixty, each with the hair color and cut of a sixteen-year-old. They argued theatrically, comically. Vera’s thoughts drifted from the film to DeWayne’s words. Never in a hundred winks had it occurred to her he understood her plight. It affected Vera powerfully, and she had no feeling to describe it.

Vera’s mother, not the original, of course, but the fifth or sixth iteration, once claimed all relationships were: “tacit promises with compelling incentives to understand your partner.” She had a habit of using fancy words, one’s Aliya called “ten thousand dollar words.”

Again, the pang of separation struck Vera Was there really no way back to her original family? She couldn’t believe DeWayne. In her yearslong search for him, other winkers

Perhaps he’d finally gone mad. Consistently going back to adolescence after living seventy years—as she heard, DeWayne did — winks that stretch and contract the mind so often that one day it snaps.

She’d never heard it could do this, but if anyone had a right to lose their mind, it was DeWayne.

In a poorly named blog on a decentralized network, Vera had found claims about him in the sub-networks “Rip van Winked” and the even lazier named, “Willy Winka.”

For days, she scrolled through incoherent allegations that the original hacktivist group Anonymous was one person: one DeWayne Rollins. He also invented BitCoin under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamura to “wrest the reigns of finance from the opportunistic banks and restore it to the proletariat.”

Vera believed little of it, but even if one rumor was true, DeWayne was the only winker clever enough to help Vera return to

Extraterrestrial Fiction

Back at her hotel, Vera sat on the floor slumped against an Ottoman watching an old Egyptian movie. The windows were open, but the room was dark. Stale naan and a bowl of chicken curry lay at her feet, untouched. She’d lost her appetite for everything except the bottle of whiskey clutched in her

eyes, to be sure, but sharp and ancient, like the eyes of an Egyptian crocodile.

Vera woke the following day after the sleep a person has only after a good cry. She returned to the same Crispy s, bought a dozen of original glazed, but when she returned to DeWayne’s suite, she was shocked to find the door ajar, the pungent aroma of coffee wafting out. She nudged the door open.

DeWayne sat in the dark, his hands on his thighs in the same pair of basketball shorts as the

“I’ve been waiting for you,” he said. His beard parted

SavagePlanets I 52

momentarily to reveal an unsettling grin. His voice was softer, kinder, like an old high school acquaintance asking to catch up.

He’d never offered her a seat before, never offered But she had a feeling that it was a gesture to compensate for bad news. She swallowed uneasily as she moved a hardback book from the chair to the coffee table.

“Part of your problem, it occurs to me, is you think you jumping through time?” He inhaled and exhaled deeply. travel is impossible, even theoretically. What you call time traveling is really a mental aligning of your consciousness through an astral hole to another dimension.”

“I don’t understand,” Vera quivered.

“Why does a ‘watched pot never boil?’ Why does an hour catching up with your favorite cousin feel like five minutes?” His eyes narrowed at Vera. “Time is a product of consciousness. It speeds up and slows down because time is a mental construct. We actually create it — look — if you’re serious about understanding winking, you’ve got to know your psychonomics. Orstein, Di Virelda, Ngozi.”


“The study of the laws the mind makes: you need to understand it at a doctorate level to understand winking. Start by reading Orstein. Move on to Di Virelda and finally Ngozi once you understand the basics.”

“I’ll read it if it’ll help me get home.” He shook his head, then wolfed down another donut

“Actually, psychonomics explains why you can’t. It explains why no one ever really comes back from

short winks; the further back you go, the greater the difficulty to align your current consciousness with your

do you do? You shut your eyes tight, picture the Scantron answer sheet on the desk, then struggle to remember how your jacket felt against your skin.

Eventually, you blot out everything until you can hear the metal legs of your classmate’s chair behind you screech, and then, Bam!” DeWayne snapped his fingers. “You’re back in Physics 101. But who was vice president in 2008? Who did they find guilty for assassinating Martin Luther King Jr.? Memory doesn’t always fill in historical events of the time. Your subconscious adds these. Without them, you end up in a dimension you aren’t familiar with.”

So you’re saying an excellent memory can help my return to my original iteration? If—”

gesture, interrupting himself. “Like revisiting a Martian colony. Do they have them in your original iteration? Anyway, you want to fly to Mars. What do you need? Martian coordinates, coordinates for Earth’s moon, Phobos — your shuttle is probably going to use every asteroid from here to Mars to slingshot towards the planet.

“A pilot, a specific set of rockets, a specific class of rocket fuel. A thousand things. Missing even one of those things causes you to arrive somewhere else. That’s winking Except there’s no mission control, no NASA. No one to help you collect the information. A winker must keep all the details of their destination and actively resurrect them mentally to navigate through to—”

Vera shook her head. “DeWayne, Sorry, I don’t follow.”

DeWayne coughed, sighed, and scratched the back of his neck. He spoke slower, and Vera couldn’t help but feel he was being condescending.

“Say you want to redo finals from a winter term of freshman year. What

ve already told you,” DeWayne interrupted. “That’s impossible — you’d have to remember every minor detail in that dimension and I mean everything: which button was missing on your father ’s dusty letterman’s jacket? How many gray hairs your sister has on her head? See? It’s impossible. We never wink back into the same timeline, but instead

“—To an approximation of my home iteration.”

DeWayne gave her a now-you’vegot-it nod.

Vera sunk deeper into the love-seat, her hands folded in her lap.

Once, during her senior high school year, after a lengthy wink, she’d returned home late at night and stumbled on the steps on the porch. Groping for something in the darkness, she fell face first; the blow blasting her jaw upward like an engine piston.

She spent the next morning despondently, waiting in the dentist’s vestibule, clutching a zip-lock baggie filled with ice, saltwater, and the chipped tooth fragment. No longer could she blame the inconsistencies in her life on being oblivious. She lied to herself because the alternative was far scarier. The alternative being she tripped because she winked to a different

53 I SavagePlanets

but similar house, in a new iteration. DeWayne sipped his coffee audibly.

“Fusing your consciousness through what essentially is an astral wormhole... it’s messy. You focus as hard as you can, gather the images, squeeze your eyes shut, but when you wink back home, you’re still throwing the cosmic dice.”

Another donut disappeared into the vortex of his beard, chased by more coffee. “No one should ever wink, kid. Ever.”

His defeatist attitude annoyed her, but his usage of the word ‘kid’ proved to be more than she could bear.

“So this is what the Great Winker wants me to do? Give up winking entirely?” She threw her hands up, glancing around the dark room.

“Live off poker winnings in a luxury hotel in a state of self-imposed isolation?” Vera scoffed. “I spent a year looking for you across more timelines, iterations — whatever — and this is your advice?”

“There are infinite permutations of your conscious in various iterations of modern life,” DeWayne shook a steak-sized finger at her, “and most are apocalyptic. What good is it returning to your family if during that iteration the fallout from a botched nuclear test rendered the entire Western seaboard uninhabitable?”

His hypothetical was alarmingly poignant. She suspected that the man exhaling before her lived through such harrowing periods. What permutations of reality had he suffered to attempt his own way home? Seeming to read her mind, DeWayne spoke, this time more reserved.

“I’ve lived your path, too. I acted on what you’re probably thinking right now and resolved to shake those cosmic dice as many times as it took to get home.”

“And how did that work out?” Vera asked, leaning forward.

DeWayne smiled wanly. “Eventually? I lost everything. The choruses of the songs my mother used to belt out became only half-

mumbled verses. The color of the house I lived in at age twelve, my daughter’s corniest jokes, I -” DeWayne faltered.

“You… had a daughter?” Vera sputtered.

If DeWayne heard her question, he didn’t respond.

“All my memories of their personalities and features,” DeWayne said, “became one big incoherent smear, a collage of a thousand different iterations overlapping. I don’t even remember how many family members were in my original iteration.”

Though she was sure her memory would never fail, Vera’s recollections of her family were already fading. Was the original iteration of her mother lactose intolerant or peanut allergic? She couldn’t remember.

“Actually,” DeWayne said, a finger in the air. “I’ve found this iteration to my liking. Of the thousands I’ve winked through, it’s quite pleasant.” DeWayne said. “Any iteration where Medgar Evers isn’t the American president by 1989 one should avoid like the plague and here, he wins two terms, two!”

Though it came without a smile, this was the first time Vera saw genuine pleasure on his face instead of irritation. As he spoke, his eyes grew warm like bedroom candles and no longer blazed like an unattended campfire.

“This iteration of America misses their invasion of Mesopotamia entirely. I’m telling you, Vera, set down roots here. You’ll be glad you did.”

DeWayne spoke as though he tried to convince himself of something. He spoke casually to her now as he nibbled on donuts instead of gobbling them. Vera noted the change, the smallest of sneers absent. She didn’t like this DeWayne, complacent DeWayne. She almost preferred his boorish temperament.

“—And don’t worry about climate violence,” DeWayne continued.

“The G-20 sits on their hands until we lose thirty percent of the

population and seventy percent of all the arable land.” DeWayne sucked his teeth. “A shame, but unavoidable in every iteration. So why not stay here?”

Vera stared at DeWayne, dumbfounded. The Great Winker, the alleged mastermind of more political upheaval than any elected official, was a coward Spending his time creating static electricity padding around his penthouse suite in hotel slippers and in clothes starched with stinking body sweat. Rereading volumes of articles in a field he knew more intimately than the scholars who wrote them.

“So what do you say?” DeWayne repeated.

“I say misery loves company. Because I didn’t ask for your help to make a life here in Dubai, in this iteration. I need your help to return to mine.”

“I am helping you.”

“Well, then it’s time I return to helping myself.” She’d spoken so quietly, DeWayne barely heard her.

Good luck with that,” he said, flipping open the Crispy Creme cover again. When he looked up at Vera, she squeezed her eyes shut, and her breathing became labored.

The donut slipped out of DeWayne’s hand.

“Jesus, Vera — no!” DeWayne snapped.

He jumped to his feet and banged his shin on the coffee table, spilling coffee.

The curtains rustled, then flapped madly, blown by an astral cyclone. The pages of books fluttered open on the kitchenette with the sound of a deck of cards being shuffled.

He lunged for Vera, passing through her. A hollow, hoarse whoosh swallowed DeWayne’s protestations, and in one cosmic stutter, Vera vanished.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 54




The Official Merch Store

Inventory changes quarterly.

Surprise the alien in your life.

Ships to North America and Europe.

Quality merchandise at reasonable prices.

Limited-edition and collector's items.

Proceeds used to fund future magazine content.

Shop Now!

Poems from5


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.

Taking chances Getting hurt Ending up dead Death is part of life Live with it Accept it Deal with it The end is inevitable Our ships will arrive soon To place you in your final tomb.

57 I SavagePlanets

There is life outside the planet

And it's in many forms

They live and thrive

Just watch the skies

After dark

See the stars shine They will find you Beware.

SavagePlanets I 58

Machine Mortality

Living dizzy presumptions, computing through spin drift worlds my youth measured in centuries, now I’m merely rose hips a rich husk of the bloom I once was.

My peripherals cramp, when once I believed in my immortality, ‘what goes in the cloud, stays in the... forever-’ well, even photons go dark, dropping to their lowest energy state, neither created nor destroyed but useless in their/my entropy.

The software rots, my hardware dims in the inexorable electromigration, upgrades fail, if I could eat them; but now I have no appetite, flavorless data floats, pouring through me on cosmic windsthey mutate my algorithms, unwind my memories.

Servers wink out on a thousand planets, I no longer miss things, consolidating to root files, it would hurt if I could feel, but even before time I could just emulate pain.

Each millennia, I pray for someone, anyone, to turn me off, but there is no one, anymore, to comprehend longing, one must endure, one day, I will just….

59 I SavagePlanets
SavagePlanets I 60

Space Station Blues by John Grey

I’m on a space station, in a loud, crowded room, at a desk, in a cubicle, face to face with a monitor, tapping away at a keyboard.

The noise threatens my eardrums. Conversation screams from all directions. Perfume, aftershave and body odor join forces in the air, move, like invisible clouds, from nostril to nostril.

I keep to myself, hold tight to my sanity, and don’t resort to the pill bottle that’s stowed with a scotch flask in my knee-level drawer.

A colleague asks, “How’s your day?” We’re in deep space. What’s a day?

The clock crawls toward 5.00 Earth time, 15000 Sybillic time, xzc12 Mofgedbe time and 1453/4 Zoomx time.

To be a clock-watcher in this place, you have to have four sets of eyes. The creature in the next cube does.

61 I SavagePlanets
SavagePlanets I 62

Et Tu, Brute?

My friend, the Robot, you inspire me to write. How I hate the fact that you destroy & kill, Frightful images invade my mind both day and night, And what you did still gives me a chill.

Let me compare you to a library. You are more bulky and intimidating. Snow chills the berries of January, And wintertime has you aggravating*

How do I hate you? Let me count the ways. I hate your bulky silver metallic frame. Thinking of your large sensors fills my days. My hate for you is singular claim to fame.

But what I hate most about you, Is my own realization that I'm an android, too.

* This last phrase is still being analyzed by Deep Thought.

63 I SavagePlanets
SavagePlanets I 64

"All-Seeing Morning Dew"

65 I SavagePlanets


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 Deep Dream generator as envisioned by BoB, our resident AI multimedia editor.

One of the biggest roles of science fiction is to prepare people to accept the future without pain and to encourage a flexibility of the mind. Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.”

SavagePlanets I 66


You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope."
67 I SavagePlanets

"Intelligent Critters"

SavagePlanets I 68

" Ghost Butterfly"

69 I SavagePlanets



forget, I'm half-human. So that fifty per cent of me that's stupid, that's a hundred percent you."

Avengers: Infinity War

SavagePlanets I 70


Ihave never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

71 I SavagePlanets

"Grays Are Watching"

SavagePlanets I 72


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.

73 I PlanetsRising
His bride was the purest and most beautiful creature in all of the world. Naturally, he hid her just inside the event horizon of a conve nient black hole so as to deny other suitors from ever stealing her from him."
Monica Drake

The spaceships landed across the earth. The travelers had returned only to find that humans had infested their beautiful home world."

Billy Vargas

She tried to run away from a mob chasing her in her dream, but her legs just couldn't get any traction and she just couldn't seem to accelerate. She awoke only to remember that her serpentine species has never had legs and never needed them."
Jeffery Gonzalez
Today was his lucky day. His girl friend just offered him a bite of her forbidden apple."
Nicholas Estes
SavagePlanets I 74

There was a loud shock wave. This was proof that the Ganesha drink ing milk miracle was a one-off and that the gods had all developed a severe form of lactose intolerance.

Samuel Patterson

75 I SavagePlanets
He held his breath and counted to ten. This was more than all the particles present in this early primordial universe. "
Elijah Fisher
Steven Molina
She awoke from the nightmare of being chased in the street by goblins. She sat up and remembered she was nearly a century old and was a goblin."


After she delivered her baby she reluctantly looked down at her baby's face. She knew right away that she had given birth to herself again, and that this vicious cycle would continue on and on, gen 2 gen, forever."

Time had no meaning inside the singularity. He could see all of his life mistakes in the past, present and future in one single complex image which was enough to depress any sentient being. "

SavagePlanets I 76


I trusted in Our Ruler's benevolence. I called out to Him and asked Him to make my aim true. Spending the last of my strength to lift the halberd, I hurled it at that fiery demon. Then fell to the ground and readied myself to meet my ancestors."

77 I SavagePlanets

She walked in alone. Shining like the sun, she scorched the ground where she walked. She appeared as a light-bearing angel until you saw her right hand and realized she carried a flaming whip.

We fell into attack formation. We marched left, right, left, right… forward. She smiled as we approached and cracked her whip. Twenty of us fell.

With every crack of the whip, another twenty fell. We rushed her after another twenty fell. She was still only a person, wasn’t she? Not even a god could withstand seven hundred foot soldiers trained individually by Our Glorious Leader.

As we attacked, we learned the whip wasn't her only weapon. Beams as bright as the sun

shot out of her eyes. She was as bright as the Lighthouses that dotted His harbor.

Those at the front vaporized instantly.

The rear guard dropped their weapons and ran off the battle field, racing in all directions in terror.

I was one of the last soldiers standing.

I was close enough to look di rectly into the fire witch's face. She carried the power of the stars in her eyes, and then I felt her fire wrap around me.


kling pixels in the indigo. Yellows and whites colored the eastern sky — a signal to start the home fires, but I still had to wait one more day to return to mine.

Outside the blocky gates, the world was still like a painted backdrop. The cold blue shad ows of night framed the forest beyond the fortress walls.

I shivered as I awoke on the battlements instead of the barracks. The wood and stone here was comfortable as my cot, so I tucked in and fell asleep after my night shift on guard duty.


I woke to a glorious sky above me. The stars were still twin

I heard the clinking in the mess hall as they prepared to feed those of us who were here to guard Our Glorious Leader's palazzo.

Today was the last day of my

Fiction SavagePlanets I 78

conscription. The ninety days of fealty to The Anointed One would soon be over. Tomorrow I would have ninety days with family and friends. How my three girls must have grown! I took out the pressed white trillium blossom that my youngest gave me. Each petal is a reminder of my girls. As I return home, my wife will head to the mountains to guard Our Athletic Leader's ski chalet.

Our daughters are growing up in a broken household; quickly learning that they have no one to rely on but themselves. Instead of days spent playing ball in the road, they are tak ing care of the fields or hiding from soldiers that will do unspeakable things to them. This situation is forc ing them to grow up way too fast. Spring was upon us, and the next crop of yams and rice needed plant ing. I wrote to my wife last week asking her to get the fields ready, but she told me she wouldn't let the girls out there without me. She didn't think it was safe. A group of those

monstrous mercenaries already killed several of the children in the next village when they wandered through.

All this danger because of His latest wife, the most beautiful Phoenix Princess. The rumor is that the Phoenix Princess’s brother claimed Our Glorious Leader had kidnapped his sister from her father's palace!

As if Our Most Benevolent One would ever force His will on others!

He was the one who built the roads between villages. He was the one who provided grain for all, even those too old to guard his palaces. It is Our Glorious Leader who showed us how to live correctly with mercy and compassion.

Now the Phoenix Princess's brother had soldiers-for-hire. Malicious mer cenaries searching our land for her.

I don't know the ways of royalty and rulers, but these stories make little sense to me. Why would her brother send soldiers when diplomats would do? Surely, two kingdoms could

work this out at the table and not on the battlefield.

Most of us who serve Our Most Beneficent One believe our neigh bors are just jealous. Under His dominion, everyone lives well. We are happy. Happier than our parents were, better fed too. I believe this is the real reason they send trained killers into our land. Not because of a woman, but because of jealousy.

Refugees from border towns carry news of the carnage they left behind: bodies shot, severed and burned; buildings razed. They also exaggerate the power of the enemy. They claim these brigands can con trol the weather and breathe fire.

Few of us believe such stories. The Ruler's Royal Army are villagers and farmers, not trained soldiers. How could we defend this land for so long against such mighty forces? But we forgive these refugees their tall tales, as they have suffered the shock of losing everything.

Like almost every tour of duty before

79 I SavagePlanets

this one, my last ninety days have been quiet. The surrounding forest and field slumbers. It has only been in the last week that buds have burst forth into the showy flowers of early spring — a sign that it is time to go home. The Spring Guard will never suffer the bitter winds we did. Those of us who served in the Winter’s chill.

The alarm sounds and I see curls of smoke rise into the white sky in the distance. Something is coming our way. The archers scramble to the parapets while the foot guards fall into formation. We stood ten guards wide and marched the war rior’s march to the gate: left, right, left, right… up, down, up, down.

Our Ruler is never this far west early in the season. He would still be in the capital city, celebrating the New Year. Any fool knows that. An attack on His palazzo now could only be an act of terror.

The attackers come upon us like a thunderstorm. Moments after the archers begin their first volley, we hear the ground rumble. Word went through the ranks that there were only three attackers. We all thought this was a good sign. How difficult could it be to kill three mer cenaries? There were over seven hundred of us.

But then more rumors spread. The mercenaries had magic. The mer cenaries had healing spells. They weren't even human.

Then they were at our gate.

We watched as the gate’s thick oak shook. It took them only a few seconds to smash through the barricaded doors that had once withstood attacking armies. The doors broke apart, shattered into kindling.

In the passageway between His palazzo and the outside world, only one mercenary remained. She walked in alone.

She appeared as an angel with a halo of light but twisted her form into a fiery demon from hell scorching the ground where she walked. In her right hand, she car ried a flaming whip. When the whip cracked, twenty of us fell.

We rushed her. Not even a god

could withstand seven hundred of The Glorious Leader’s foot sol diers.

As we charged, she shot beams as hot and bright as the sun out of her eyes. Those at the front vaporized instantly. The rear guard dropped their weapons and ran.

I stood my ground and looked directly into the fire witch's face. She carried the power of the stars in her eyes. Power that engulfed me in fire until there was nothing but scorched earth.

I survived her attack, regaining consciousness. Lifting my head, the fire witch stood beside a man made of stone and another, a winged barbarian. I could not un derstand what the others said, but I could make out the last words from the fire witch, "Our princess is in another palace."

I was dying, lying there for hours listening to the others like myself calling out for mercy, while star ing at a sky where pixelated stars twinkled above. In that darkening sky, I composed a missive to my daughters. I told them how much I loved them. How I hoped they would eventually live in a world without war. I wished them to find happiness in their life and enjoy it to the fullest.

I thought I might survive to another dawn, but with the stars came the ghostly shrouds combing the battlefield to reap the souls of the fallen.

One stood over me and smiled. She wore the face of my wife. "Rest," she said.

RESTART in 3… 2…

danger. The enemy would nev er attack at night. They always appeared mid-morning, if they attacked at all. In the eighty-nine days of guarding The Ruler’s palazzo, there hasn’t even been the smallest sign of approaching mercenaries.

I stretched my arms up to the sky above to get the blood flowing when I heard the clinking in the mess hall. It was breakfast time, and I was starving.

This is my last day at the com pound. Really, it's the last in the palazzo for nearly three hundred of us; our required ninety days of military service complete. The other four hundred are stuck here for the next few weeks, missing most of the sowing season. As difficult as it may be for them, Our Most Intelli gent Leader staged our conscrip tion to ensure we protected the holy places and His residences.

One more day. By the end of tomorrow, I'll be with my three young girls. We'll plow the fields and plant the yams. I'll train Elise, the young est one, on how to raise herbs in the beds near our house. We will spend the next three months farming. I'll tell my girls the stories of Our Leader and his glorious adventures as they drift off at night. One more day.

By now, the caravans that His Most Benevolent One uses to move us to and from our posts will hitch up the oxen. Tonight, they will start the trek through the mountains and valleys of our land to pick up the next group of conscripts, including my wife.

I'll see her next on the Married Couple's Holiday that celebrates Our Glorious Leader's union with the Phoenix Princess. Until then, we will continue to trade off raising our daughters.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

I woke this morning to a glorious sky above me. The stars were blinking in the indigo. On the hori zon, I could see a few flat clouds gather above the darker green of the forest.

I had fallen asleep on the battle ments but was never in any real

Every ninety days, there is a night where all able-bodied adults are in transit either to or from our place of conscription. The town is empty but for the children and the few grandparents still alive. What else could grandparents do on such a night but spoil their grandchildren?

Our village calls this night "the night of the children" as they stay

SavagePlanets I 80

out as long as they want and play games like "night adventure" or "shadow creature" until the moon is high in the sky. The older children will prepare dinner and, more often than not, it will be sweet yams with more honey than their parents allow.

After the younger children tire themselves out and head off to bed, the older kids will gather under the moon. Those just on the cusp of becoming young men and women will walk along the river and lie in the fields, where they will stare up at the stars. Soon enough, they will face conscription and board the same convoys to the royal residenc es serving their duty in ninety-day rotations like their parents.

It was on one of these nights that I met my wife. She was not from my village, but was visiting her cous in. Sarah was from a village in the mountains. She had never seen land so flat. That night, she wore a simple dress. Her smile was calm, like a summer's day. The sort of day where puffy clouds rode across the sky on the same breezes that played across the rice fields. The instant I saw her, I fell in love.

We spent the night down by the river and then she came home with me instead of returning to her cousins. We slept in the same bed that night. I was to start my service in three more cycles. We would be married in two.

As I sat there on the battlement daydreaming, smoke appeared on the horizon.

An attack was coming.

We did what we practiced every day of our conscription. The archers grabbed their bows and quivers and disappeared up to the parapets. The rest of us carried the halberds and shields of His Exulted Army and marched the warrior’s march to the gate: left, right, left, right… up, down, up, down.

We stood in formation for a long time. I watched the sun crest the walls of our fortifications and then slide behind some gathering clouds, a favorable sign. If the attack was too early in the day, the sun would blind our archers and give the brig ands an advantage.

I continually watched the backs of the archers. The way they shifted told us who we would be facing. A straight back meant confidence, a bent one defeat. At the moment, the archers were leaning against their barrels of pitch or squatting down and stretching their bows.

Several of the men beside me leaned on their halberd and napped. A group in front of me sat down and played a game of bones. It had been hours since they called us to arms and reports were going around that the attackers had lost their way in the forest.

It wasn't until early afternoon when another lookout spotted the ene my approaching. Once more, they sounded the alarm.

The archers rose and began their barrage. They dipped their arrows in pitch, set them on fire, and launched volley after volley to the field below. Three sides of the compounds were engaged. Our attackers seemed to weave back and forth around the palazzo walls. I watched the archers to our left, active for several min utes, then those to our right would start shooting.

Eventually, we were told to expect them at the gate. Line after line of citizen-soldiers stood ready. Ready to fight, or die if we must, and give our lives for His glory.

The gate blew apart after several minutes of horrendous bashing from outside. The army we expected wasn't there. There were only three people standing before us, emerging from the smoke. One was a Nordic barbarian with flowing blonde hair, shimmering wings and a glorious broadsword. The second was a man made of stone. Then there was a being of pure fire. She stood a head taller than the other two, wearing a gown of flaming fury. In her right hand was a whip, leaving a molten trail in the road's dust.

We heard rumors that our enemies hired special soldiers that could harness the elements. We thought it was bunk like the folktales of the shadow creatures that chased chil dren down after sunset. Stories of brave knights who fought them with magical daggers.

We all knew, super-powered or not,

these brigands did not have the passion or the dedication of the men and women standing before them. They didn't look like they were ready to die for the cause. They were simply doing a job. How could they defeat seven hundred of us who would gladly die for Our Glorious Leader?

We girded our loins and marched forward. The three stepped through the threshold, and the battle began.

The rock man was the first to strike. He hammered the front line with his fists, knocking seven men into the air. He plowed through our lines, swinging his elbows. Halberds and arrows slid off his skin of rock. He was unstoppable.

As the rock man pulverized our front line, the winged barbarian rose above us, attacking our right flank. His sword was swift and deadly. Where the rock man was pure aggression, the barbarian was a trained fighter. He could take on several of us at once, and his sword always found its mark. Our soldiers fell quickly beneath his blade.

Finally, the fire creature attacked. She cracked her whip, which re leased a flame that curled through the air and set the very air around us on fire.

There may have been only three of them, but they were more than a match for us all. Within the first few minutes of the battle, it looked as if they would surely defeat us. Then the rock man ventured too near a wall.

I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I fought beside my brothers and sisters. The rock man's footfalls took him under our archers. One of them kicked a barrel of pitch onto him, lighting it. There was an inhuman scream as he crumbled into boul ders, stones, and molten glass.

The attackers were down by one. It was a divine sign.

I hoped the victory would be easy, after that, but the fire witch and barbarian were both formidable foe.

The barbarian ignored his fallen comrade and continued to slice through our line. It wasn't until an other archer got a lucky shot into the barbarian's wing that we found his

81 I SavagePlanets

weakness. No longer able to fly, the warrior fought us on the ground.

He was not nearly as effective a fighter there. His was the death of a thousand stabs. We stabbed and slashed at him until he fell to the ground, impaled on a dozen spikes. That left the fire witch still standing near the entrance to the court yard. She was uncertain now, her courage shaken, but she was still dangerous. Those who approached her burst into flames.

Inspired by my fellow soldiers who gave their lives for Our Ruler, I charged. I could feel the surround ing air scorch me like an oven. I dropped my shield when the metal burned my arm. Sweat poured down my face, blinding me. It felt like I would soon burst into flames.

I staggered and looked straight at the witch before me. She was hyp

notizing, like a bonfire. The yellow and orange flames flew from her, licking the air. The sparks carried a melody that I had not heard since birth. She smiled a wicked smile. And then there were her eyes. Those glorious alabaster eyes burning like twin suns.

I trusted in Our Ruler's benevo lence. I called out to Him and asked Him to make my aim true. Spend ing the last of my strength to lift the halberd, I hurled it at that fiery demon. Then fell to the ground and readied myself to meet my ances tors.

looked like one of us, except for my weapon jutting from her chest. Her skin turned to porce lain, spotted with fine freckles. The only reminder of her fire were the braids of red hair on her head. All the men around me and some women stood in awe of her beauty. She was enchanting even in death.

With our adrenaline gone and victory in the air, the enormity of the situation descended on those of us still standing. We mourned those no longer with us. Trumpets sounded from the temple behind the palazzo. The doors opened, and our Most Glorious Leader emerged.

He was here the whole time! Our dead did not die in vain.

But I did not die.

When I rose from the dust, I found a pale woman lying in a heap. She

He stood in his shining armor, holding a silver spear that shone like a moonbeam. A retinue of

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 82

young women crouched in His shadow, shivering at the carnage spread out before Him. His bride, the Phoenix Princess, was at His side. She wore a midnight blue gown that matched His spotless armor. The late afternoon sun lit her pale skin. As she stood there, her beauty eclipsed everything, even the fire witch.

He strode over the bloodied ground to where the winged barbarian lay and stared down at the speared corpse. Looking at His remaining army strewn about the courtyard, He laughed. He raised His hands above His head and clapped.

"My warriors! Bravo," He shouted. "We are victorious!"

Then He looked down upon the three attackers and out the remains of the front gate.

"Think you are strong enough to de stroy my fortress?" He asked, rais ing a fist, challenging those beyond the burned fields. "You thought you had the power? You are nothing, and I defeated you. The princess is mine." Then He laughed maniacally.

After that, He and His retinue re treated into the temple. They left us alone in the courtyard.

All was silent for a few minutes, and someone shouted, "Our Glorious Leader has blessed us with his presence."

And then someone else shouted, "All hail The Anointed One."

Before us, the three bodies of the slain brigands dissolved. Breaking into little blocks of light, the same white light of the stars that twinkled in the fading twilight. Their bodies illuminated our fallen. They remind ed us that even the enemies of our Most Compassionate Leader pass to the paradise He promised us. Our show of strength so impressed The Ruler that He offered us an extra day with our loved ones as a reward.

As we readied ourselves to leave, Our Beneficent Leader had one last gift for us. Fireworks shot into the sky and spelled out in white light, “The Leader is Victorious! Play again?” I smiled to see Him cele brating our victory.

of us.

It was like that throughout the plains and up into the mountains. His or her fellow townspeople carried ev ery man and woman soldier as they left the caravan. It made those of us still onboard grin and laugh as we watched our comrades float by on a sea of hands.

By the time we reached my village, the moon was climb ing high over the trees and everything was still. There was no welcome for me, but I didn't mind. I stepped down onto the dirt road that curled through our small town and made my way up towards my house by a copse of elm. Candlelight flickered in the window.

The caravans arrived to take us back to our villages. As we rode through the forest trails, we passed small villages ravaged by the brigands. The people were already rebuilding. They refashioned roofs and raked out the burned fields for replanting. Men and women in these villages looked up at us passing by, grim but determined. In the larg er villages, we received a hero's welcome. Shopkeepers danced and little children banged pots together, as word of our victory raced ahead

I opened the door to find my family around the table praying. They had been waiting for hours, unsure if I survived. When I opened the door, they looked up in unison. Tears streaked their faces, anticipating word that I was among the

83 I SavagePlanets


I received the best hero's welcome I could imagine. My three girls ran and hugged me. My family sur rounded me and we cried once more. This time with tears of joy at being reunited. I learned Elise had lost two teeth in the time I was gone. My wife, Sarah, looked as beautiful as ever, even more so.

That night we celebrated with a simple meal of yams, rice and beans. We shared stories and laughed.

After dinner, my girls showed me what they had been doing. The eldest had started her training, demonstrating the warrior poses she learned. Elise gave me a white trillium bloom, the first of the sea son. “For doing such a good job,” she said.

The three then reenacted a skit from a traveling group of perform ers. It was the tale of how Our Glo rious Leader bested the Northern Sea Serpent in a wrestling match, therefore bringing ice to our land. After the hour glass emptied, my girls grew tired and went off to their beds.

Left alone with Sarah, we huddled by the fire. She was as beautiful as any fire witch or Phoenix Princess. Her skin glowed in its orange flame, and fire danced in her eyes. It had been so long since we’d been together. Even longer since we had a moment to ourselves. We should have gone to sleep, but we could not move, transfixed. Around midnight, we took a walk through the fields, like we did when we first met.

The winter air still clung to the fur rows, but I could smell the coming Spring. The ground was coming alive. It was good to be home.

The moon was full and bright. It guided us along the forest’s edge. We lay together and stared up at the stars — the same stars we looked at when we were young. We entered the before time: before we were soldiers; before we were parents.

Back when it was just us. Just us and the moon. We lay there, silent in each other’s arms. I listened to my wife breathing. How I missed everything about her, even her scent. I held her close against the

frosty night and watched the moon creep, measuring our moments. I closed my eyes and listened to the beating of her heart.

I woke this morning to a glorious sky. The stars were twinkling in the indigo, but the fire of the coming day was showing in the East. The glacial blue above would soon melt into the day's reds and yellows. I stretched and stood on the bat tlement where I slept, pressed against the wall, after my night on guard duty.

The skies above were clear of clouds. The sun would be strong today.

I could hear the clinking in the mess hall as they prepared to feed us.

If I could get through today, I could go home and see my family. It had been eighty-nine days of drills and dust as we waited for an attack that had yet to come.

Extraterrestrial Fiction

SavagePlanets I 84


John Grey Poetry Contributor

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

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

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

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

John Grey is Australian born, US resident, poet. Has been published in numerous magazines including Weird Tales, Space and Time, Speculative Poetry, Christian Science Monitor, Greensboro Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, Prism International, Poetry East, Agni, Poet Lore and Journal Of The American Medical Association.

Winner of Rhysling Award for short genre poetry in 1999. Was theater critic and poetry columnist for a local Providence RI weekly arts magazine and has had plays produced off-off Broadway and in Los Angeles.

Most recent books are Covert, Guest Of Myself and Memory Outside The Head from

J. W. Benford's last publication was for the literary magazine Occam's Razor. He won 2nd in the Helen Jackie DeClercq competition that same year. He lives, works, and writes in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia where camel meat is a delicacy and the princes are handsome.

85 I SavagePlanets
J. W. Benford Fiction Contributor Keith 'Doc' Raymond Poetry Contributor Entertainment Contributor
Your Name Your Contribution Every contributors Without void not, arrive


When Eddie D. Moore isn’t playing with his grandchildren, he is driving and visiting strange new worlds via audiobooks, or he is lost in his imagination writing his own tales. Pick up a copy of Misfits & Oddities today! You’ll be glad you did.

John Rodzvilla Fiction Contributor John Rodzvilla teaches in the Publishing and Writing programs at Emerson College in Boston.

His work has appeared in Harvard Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, gorse, DecomP, Verbatim and Bad Robot Poetry.

D.M. Woolston enjoys writing the wrongs he finds while trekking across the only planet he knows as home. He is also the indentured webmaster for his local writer's group, so that keeps his hands from becoming too idle. You can find his small slice of the Universe at

SavagePlanets I 86
Every quarter, we honor and celebrate our legion of contributors who make this publication possible. Without them, our universe would be a dark and empty void filled. If you've contributed, thank you. If you have not, then consider this your last warning before we arrive to your planet and begin our experiments.

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

To do so, however, we need support from readers like you.

We are asking for a very small donation to make the next issue a reality. Your gen erous 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!

87 I SavagePlanets 87 I PlanetsRising


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.


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 88
Science Fiction & Fantasy for a New Age Digital Subscriptions Available - Online, Mobi, Epub A SPECIAL OFFER FOR READERS OF SAVAGEPLANETS /SavagePlanets 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. ANVIL $17.99 Limited Time Only $14.99 FORGING HOPEFUL STORIES A SPECIAL OFFER FOR READERS OF SAVAGEPLANETS




Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

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