THE MECHANICAL HOUND A SCIENCE FICTION FANZINE
The Mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the firehouse... - Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury.
Contents Isaac Asimov profile Ray Bradbury profile John Carpenter profile David Cronenberg profile Scanners illustration The Fly illustration Philip K. Dick profile Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick Alien illustration 2001: A Space Odyssey illustration Kurt Vonnegut Jr. profile The Big Space Fuck by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Science fiction crossword Which science fiction character are you?
Cover illustration: Videodrome [Directed by David Cronenberg, 1983]
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ISAAC ASIMOV Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was born in Petrovichi, Russia. He is most recognised as an author of science fiction, as well as having been a professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He has either written or edited over 500 books, and is widely considered a master of ‘hard science fiction’ – a type of writing which puts more emphasis on scientific or technical detail, as opposed to ‘soft science fiction’, which focuses on the social sciences. His most famous work is the Foundation Series, which would later link up with his Robot and Galactic Empire series, creating a unified ‘future history’ for his stories. He also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much non-fiction including Asimov’s Chronology of Science
Notable works: I, Robot  Foundation  Foundation and Empire  Second Foundation  The Naked Sun  The Gods Themselves  The Caves of Steel  Gandahar  The B icentennial Man  I, Robot 
and Discovery, as well as works on astronomy, mathematics, William Shakespeare’s writing and chemistry. Despite having written a guide to the bible, he was president of the American Humanist Association – which is closely aligned with atheism. The Gods Themselves is my favourite Asimov novel. One of his later works, the novel is about a project by aliens from parallel universe with which we begin transferring matter. However, the exchange will have the ultimate result of turning the Earth’s Sun into a supernova. I rank it highly because of how each of the three parts of the novel involve totally different characters and locations – Earth, the parallel universe, and the Moon.
RAY BRADBURY Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was born in Illinois, United States. He has written fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction. He is best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953). Bradbury was free to start a career in writing when, owing to his bad eyesight; he was rejected admission into the military during World War II. Bradbury began to publish science fiction stories in fanzines in 1938. His first novel The Martian Chronicles was published in 1950, a fix-up novel made up of previously published, loosely connected stories. Three years later, he published Fahrenheit 451, set in a dystopian future where books are outlawed and firemen burn any house
Notable works: The Martian Chronicles  Fahrenheit 451  The Day It Rained Forever  Something Wicked This Way Comes  It Came From Outer Space  Fahrenheit 451  Something Wicked This Way Comes 
that contains them. Many of his works have been adapted into television shows or films. My favourite piece of writing by Bradbury is the short story Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, published in the collection The Day It Rained Forever (1959). It is about a family in a small population of humans who have colonized Mars to escape atomic war on Earth. The father Harry becomes scared of living on Mars, as his children want to be called Martian names and start using Martian words. A few years later when American G.I. astronauts arrive, they find that all the humans are gone and only Martians are left.
JOHN CARPENTER John Carpenter was born in New York, United States in 1948. He is a film director, screenwriter, producer, editor and composer. His most famous works are horror films, however he has also worked in the science fiction genre. After having made several short films, his first major film as a director, Dark Star was released in 1974 – a science fiction black comedy set on a spaceship. Four years later, he directed Halloween, which helped give birth to the slasher film genre. In 1981, he directed Escape from New York, which is set in the near future in a crime-ridden United States that has converted Manhattan Island, NYC into a maximum security prison. 1982’s The Thing revolves around a
- Dark Star  - Escape From New York  - The Thing  - Starman  - They Live 
parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. The Thing infiltrates an Antarctic research station, taking the appearance of the researchers that it absorbs, and paranoia occurs within the group. My favourite John Carpenter film is They Live, released in 1988. It follows a nameless drifter referred to as “Nada”, who discovers the ruling class within the moneyed elite are in fact aliens managing human social affairs through the use of a signal on top of the TV broadcast, concealing their appearance and subliminal messages in mass media.
CRONENBERG David Cronenberg was born in Toronto, Canada in 1943. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror or venereal horror genre. This style of filmmaking explores people’s fears of bodily transformation and infection. In the first half of his career, he explored these themes mostly through horror and science fiction, although his work has since expanded beyond these genres. In 1981 he wrote and directed Scanners, in which the title refers to people with unusual telepathic powers, and Darryl Revok, (a ‘scanner’) is sent to hunt others like himself. Five years later he made what is his most recognised film, starring Jeff Goldblum. The Fly is about a scientist
Notable films: - Stereo  - Scanners  - Videodrome  - The Fly  - The Naked Lunch  - Crash  - Cosmopolis 
accidentally merges himself with a fly whilst using a teleportation machine. He later adapted the book Naked Lunch by William Burroughs into a film starring Peter Weller and Ian Holm. My favourite Cronenberg film is Videodrome. Released in 1983, it follows the CEO of a small cable station who stumbles upon a broadcast signal featuring extreme violence and torture. He tries to find the source of the broadcast, and begins experiencing disturbing hallucinations in which his torso transforms into a gaping hole that functions as a VCR, side-effects from having viewed Videodrome.
PHILIP K.DICK Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was born in Chicago, United States. His writing explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic co r po rat i o n s, a uth o r itat i ve governments, and altered states. In his later work, Dickâ€™s thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, ten popular films based on his works have been produced. His novel The Man in the High Castle (1962) bridged the genres of alternate history and Notable works: - Time Out Of Joint  - The M an I n The High Castle  - Do Androids D ream Of Electric Sheep?  - Ubik  - Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said  - Blade Runner  - Total Recall  - M inority Report  - Paycheck  - A Scanner Darkly 
science fiction, set in a universe where Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany won WW2 and occupy the former United States. Published in 1959, Time Out Of Joint is my favourite Philip K. Dick novel. It revolves around Ragle Gumm, a man who makes his living by entering a newspaper contest every day - and winning, every day. But he gradually begins to suspect that his life, and indeed his whole world is an illusion. It was the first PKD novel I read, which I think is why I appreciate it so much. It seems to have been a big influence on the plot of the 1998 film The Truman Show, in which similar events happen but with very different results.
VONNEGURT Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) was born in Indianapolis, United States. His style of writing blends satire, science fiction and gallows humour (humour in the face of a hopeless situation). His experiences in WW2 (being a prisoner of war and witnessing the fire bombing of Dresden in 1945) had a noticeable effect on his work. His first novel was published in 1952, a dystopian future story called Player Piano. Throughout the 60’s he would write some of his most recognised novels, including Cat’s Cradle (1963) and Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), the semi-autobiographical story about a man who has become ‘unstuck from time’, and jumps back and forth between moments in his life. Large amounts of the book are set in Dresden.
Notable works: - Player Piano  - Cat’s Cradle  - Slaughterhouse -Five  - Breakfast of Champions  - Timequake  - Slaughterhouse -Five  - Mother Night  - Breakfast of Champions 
Published in 1973, Breakfast of Champions is my favourite Vonnegut novel - the story of “two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.” One of these men, Dwayne Hoover, is a normallooking but deeply deranged car dealership owner who becomes obsessed with the writings of the other man, Kilgore Trout, taking them for literal truth. Trout, a largely unknown pulp science fiction writer who has appeared in several other Vonnegut novels, looks like a crazy old man but is in fact relatively sane. As the novel opens, Trout journeys toward a convention where he is destined to meet Dwayne Hoover and unwittingly inspire him to run amok.
Scanners [Directed by David Cronenberg, 1981]
The Fly [Directed by David Cronenberg, 1986]
Alien [Directed by Ridley Scott, 1979]
2001: A Space Odyssey [Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968]
BEYOND LIES THE WUB a short story by
Philip K. Dick
[Illustration by Herman Vestal]
They had almost finished with the loading. Outside stood the Optus, his arms folded, his face sunk in gloom. Captain Franco walked leisurely down the gangplank, grinning.
half shut. A few flies buzzed about its flank, and it switched its tail.
“What’s the matter?” he said. “You’re getting paid for all this.”
“It’s a wub,” Peterson said. “I got it from a native for fifty cents. He said it was a very unusual animal. Very respected.”
It sat. There was silence.
The Optus said nothing. He turned away, collecting his robes. The Captain put his boot on the hem of the robe.
“This?” Franco poked the great sloping side of the wub. “It’s a pig! A huge dirty pig!”
“Just a minute. Don’t go off. I’m not finished.”
“Yes sir, it’s a pig. The natives call it a wub.”
“Oh?” The Optus turned with dignity. “I am going back to the village.” He looked toward the animals and birds being driven up the gangplank into the spaceship. “I must organize new hunts.”
“A huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds.” Franco grabbed a tuft of the rough hair. The wub gasped. Its eyes opened, small and moist. Then its great mouth twitched.
Franco lit a cigarette. “Why not? You people can go out into the veldt and track it all down again. But when we run out halfway between Mars and Earth—” The Optus went off, wordless. Franco joined the first mate at the bottom of the gangplank. “How’s it coming?” he said. He looked at his watch. “We got a good bargain here.” The mate glanced at him sourly. “How do you explain that?” “What’s the matter with you? We need it more than they do.” “I’ll see you later, Captain.” The mate threaded his way up the plank, between the long-legged Martian go-birds, into the ship. Franco watched him disappear. He was just starting up after him, up the plank toward the port, when he saw it. “My God!” He stood staring, his hands on his hips. Peterson was walking along the path, his face red, leading it by a string. “I’m sorry, Captain,” he said, tugging at the string. Franco walked toward him.
A tear rolled down the wub’s cheek and splashed on the floor. “Maybe it’s good to eat,” Peterson said nervously. “We’ll soon find out,” Franco said. The wub survived the take-off, sound asleep in the hold of the ship. When they were out in space and everything was running smoothly, Captain Franco bade his men fetch the wub upstairs so that he might perceive what manner of beast it was. The wub grunted and wheezed, squeezing up the passageway. “Come on,” Jones grated, pulling at the rope. The wub twisted, rubbing its skin off on the smooth chrome walls. It burst into the ante-room, tumbling down in a heap. The men leaped up. “Good Lord,” French said. “What is it?” “Peterson says it’s a wub,” Jones said. “It belongs to him.” He kicked at the wub. The wub stood up unsteadily, panting. “What’s the matter with it?” French came over. “Is it going to be sick?”
“What is it?” The wub stood sagging, its great body settling slowly. It was sitting down, its eyes
They watched. The wub rolled its eyes mournfully. It gazed around at the men. “I think it’s thirsty,” Peterson said. He went
to get some water. French shook his head.
you people can think of, killing and cutting?”
“No wonder we had so much trouble taking off. I had to reset all my ballast calculations.”
Franco clenched his fists. “Come out of there! Whoever you are, come out!”
Peterson came back with the water. The wub began to lap gratefully, splashing the men.
Nothing stirred. The men stood together, their faces blank, staring at the wub. The wub swished its tail. It belched suddenly.
Captain Franco appeared at the door. “I beg your pardon,” the wub said. “Let’s have a look at it.” He advanced, squinting critically. “You got this for fifty cents?” “Yes, sir,” Peterson said. “It eats almost anything. I fed it on grain and it liked that. And then potatoes, and mash, and scraps from the table, and milk. It seems to enjoy eating. After it eats it lies down and goes to sleep.” “I see,” Captain Franco said. “Now, as to its taste. That’s the real question. I doubt if there’s much point in fattening it up any more. It seems fat enough to me already. Where’s the cook? I want him here. I want to find out—” The wub stopped lapping and looked up at the Captain. “Really, Captain,” the wub said. “I suggest we talk of other matters.” The room was silent. “What was that?” Franco said. “Just now.”
“I don’t think there’s anyone in there,” Jones said in a low voice. They all looked at each other. The cook came in. “You wanted me, Captain?” he said. “What’s this thing?” “This is a wub,” Franco said. “It’s to be eaten. Will you measure it and figure out—” “I think we should have a talk,” the wub said. “I’d like to discuss this with you, Captain, if I might. I can see that you and I do not agree on some basic issues.” The Captain took a long time to answer. The wub waited good-naturedly, licking the water from its jowls. “Come into my office,” the Captain said at last. He turned and walked out of the room. The wub rose and padded after him. The men watched it go out. They heard it climbing the stairs.
“The wub, sir,” Peterson said. “It spoke.” They all looked at the wub.
“I wonder what the outcome will be,” the cook said. “Well, I’ll be in the kitchen. Let me know as soon as you hear.”
“What did it say? What did it say?” “Sure,” Jones said. “Sure.” “It suggested we talk about other things.” Franco walked toward the wub. He went all around it, examining it from every side. Then he came back over and stood with the men.
The wub eased itself down in the corner with a sigh. “You must forgive me,” it said. “I’m afraid I’m addicted to various forms of relaxation. When one is as large as I—”
“I wonder if there’s a native inside it,” he said thoughtfully. “Maybe we should open it up and have a look.”
The Captain nodded impatiently. He sat down at his desk and folded his hands. “All right,” he said. “Let’s get started. You’re a wub? Is that correct?”
“Oh, goodness!” the wub cried. “Is that all
The wub shrugged. “I suppose so. That’s
what they call us, the natives, I mean. We have our own term.”
They throw things out of their nests and sweep them—”
“And you speak English? You’ve been in contact with Earthmen before?”
“Indeed.” The Captain nodded. “But to get back to the problem—”
“Quite so. You spoke of dining on me. The taste, I am told, is good. A little fatty, but tender. But how can any lasting contact be established between your people and mine if you resort to such barbaric attitudes? Eat me? Rather you should discuss questions with me, philosophy, the arts—”
“Then how do you do it?” “Speak English? Am I speaking English? I’m not conscious of speaking anything in particular. I examined your mind—” “My mind?” “I studied the contents, especially the semantic warehouse, as I refer to it—” “I see,” the Captain said. “Telepathy. Of course.” “We are a very old race,” the wub said. “Very old and very ponderous. It is difficult for us to move around. You can appreciate that anything so slow and heavy would be at the mercy of more agile forms of life. There was no use in our relying on physical defenses. How could we win? Too heavy to run, too soft to fight, too good-natured to hunt for game—”
The Captain stood up. “Philosophy. It might interest you to know that we will be hard put to find something to eat for the next month. An unfortunate spoilage—” “I know.” The wub nodded. “But wouldn’t it be more in accord with your principles of democracy if we all drew straws, or something along that line? After all, democracy is to protect the minority from just such infringements. Now, if each of us casts one vote—” The Captain walked to the door. “Nuts to you,” he said. He opened the door. He opened his mouth.
“How do you live?” “Plants. Vegetables. We can eat almost anything. We’re very catholic. Tolerant, eclectic, catholic. We live and let live. That’s how we’ve gotten along.”
He stood frozen, his mouth wide, his eyes staring, his fingers still on the knob. The wub watched him. Presently it padded out of the room, edging past the Captain. It went down the hall, deep in meditation.
The wub eyed the Captain. The room was quiet. “And that’s why I so violently objected to this business about having me boiled. I could see the image in your mind—most of me in the frozen food locker, some of me in the kettle, a bit for your pet cat—” “So you read minds?” the Captain said. “How interesting. Anything else? I mean, what else can you do along those lines?” “A few odds and ends,” the wub said absently, staring around the room. “A nice apartment you have here, Captain. You keep it quite neat. I respect life-forms that are tidy. Some Martian birds are quite tidy.
“So you see,” the wub said, “we have a common myth. Your mind contains many familiar myth symbols. Ishtar, Odysseus—” Peterson sat silently, staring at the floor. He shifted in his chair. “Go on,” he said. “Please go on.” “I find in your Odysseus a figure common to the mythology of most self-conscious races. As I interpret it, Odysseus wanders as an individual, aware of himself as such. This is the idea of separation, of separation
from family and country. The process of individuation.” “But Odysseus returns to his home.” Peterson looked out the port window, at the stars, endless stars, burning intently in the empty universe. “Finally he goes home.” “As must all creatures. The moment of separation is a temporary period, a brief journey of the soul. It begins, it ends. The wanderer returns to land and race....” The door opened. The wub stopped, turning its great head. Captain Franco came into the room, the men behind him. They hesitated at the door.
“Shoot it now,” French said. “For God’s sake!” Peterson exclaimed. Jones turned to him quickly, his eyes gray with fear. “You didn’t see him—like a statue, standing there, his mouth open. If we hadn’t come down, he’d still be there.” “Who? The Captain?” Peterson stared around. “But he’s all right now.” They looked at the wub, standing in the middle of the room, its great chest rising and falling. “Come on,” Franco said. “Out of the way.” The men pulled aside toward the door.
“Are you all right?” French said. “Do you mean me?” Peterson said, surprised. “Why me?” Franco lowered his gun. “Come over here,” he said to Peterson. “Get up and come here.” There was silence. “Go ahead,” the wub said. “It doesn’t matter.”
The gun jerked.
Peterson stood up. “What for?”
“See,” Franco said. “I thought so.”
“It’s an order.”
The wub settled down, panting. It put its paw out, pulling its tail around it.
Peterson walked to the door. French caught his arm. “What’s going on?” Peterson wrenched loose. “What’s the matter with you?” Captain Franco moved toward the wub. The wub looked up from where it lay in the corner, pressed against the wall. “It is interesting,” the wub said, “that you are obsessed with the idea of eating me. I wonder why.” “Get up,” Franco said. “If you wish.” The wub rose, grunting. “Be patient. It is difficult for me.” It stood, gasping, its tongue lolling foolishly.
“You are quite afraid, aren’t you?” the wub said. “Have I done anything to you? I am against the idea of hurting. All I have done is try to protect myself. Can you expect me to rush eagerly to my death? I am a sensible being like yourselves. I was curious to see your ship, learn about you. I suggested to the native—”
“It is very warm,” the wub said. “I understand that we are close to the jets. Atomic power. You have done many wonderful things with it—technically. Apparently, your scientific hierarchy is not equipped to solve moral, ethical—” Franco turned to the men, crowding behind him, wide-eyed, silent. “I’ll do it. You can watch.” French nodded. “Try to hit the brain. It’s no good for eating. Don’t hit the chest. If the rib cage shatters, we’ll have to pick bones out.” “Listen,” Peterson said, licking his lips. “Has it done anything? What harm has it done? I’m asking you. And anyhow, it’s still mine.
You have no right to shoot it. It doesn’t belong to you.” Franco raised his gun. “I’m going out,” Jones said, his face white and sick. “I don’t want to see it.” “Me, too,” French said. The men straggled out, murmuring. Peterson lingered at the door. “It was talking to me about myths,” he said. “It wouldn’t hurt anyone.” He went outside. Franco walked toward the wub. The wub looked up slowly. It swallowed. “A very foolish thing,” it said. “I am sorry that you want to do it. There was a parable that your Saviour related—” It stopped, staring at the gun. “Can you look me in the eye and do it?” the wub said. “Can you do that?” The Captain gazed down. “I can look you in the eye,” he said. “Back on the farm we had hogs, dirty razor-back hogs. I can do it.” Staring down at the wub, into the gleaming, moist eyes, he pressed the trigger. The taste was excellent.
“What do you suppose the matter is?” the Captain said. He turned to Peterson. Peterson sat staring down at his plate, at the potatoes, the green peas, and at the thick slab of tender, warm meat. He opened his mouth. No sound came. The Captain put his hand on Peterson’s shoulder. “It is only organic matter, now,” he said. “The life essence is gone.” He ate, spooning up the gravy with some bread. “I, myself, love to eat. It is one of the greatest things that a living creature can enjoy. Eating, resting, meditation, discussing things.” Peterson nodded. Two more men got up and went out. The Captain drank some water and sighed. “Well,” he said. “I must say that this was a very enjoyable meal. All the reports I had heard were quite true—the taste of wub. Very fine. But I was prevented from enjoying this pleasure in times past.” He dabbed at his lips with his napkin and leaned back in his chair. Peterson stared dejectedly at the table. The Captain watched him intently. He leaned over. “Come, come,” he said. “Cheer up! Let’s discuss things.”
They sat glumly around the table, some of them hardly eating at all. The only one who seemed to be enjoying himself was Captain Franco.
“More?” he said, looking around. “More? And some wine, perhaps.”
Peterson jerked up, staring.
“Not me,” French said. “I think I’ll go back to the chart room.”
“As I was saying before I was interrupted, the role of Odysseus in the myths—”
“To go on,” the Captain said. “Odysseus, as I understand him—”
“Me, too.” Jones stood up, pushing his chair back. “I’ll see you later.” The Captain watched them go. Some of the others excused themselves.
THE BIG SPACE FUCK A short story by
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. In 1987 it became possible in the United States of America for a young person to sue his parents for the way he had been raised. He could take them to court and make them pay money and even serve jail terms for serious mistakes they made when he was just a helpless little kid. This was not only an effort to achieve justice but to discourage reproduction, since there wasn’t anything much to eat any more. Abortions were free. In fact, any woman who volunteered for one got her choice of a bathroom scale or a table lamp. In 1989, America staged the Big Space Fuck, which was a serious effort to make sure that human life would continue to exist somewhere in the Universe, since it certainly couldn’t continue much longer on Earth. Everything had turned to shit and beer cans and old automobiles and Clorox bottles. An interesting thing happened in the Hawaiian Islands, where they had been throwing trash down extinct volcanoes for years: a couple of the volcanoes all of a sudden spit it all back up. And so on. This was a period of great permissiveness in matters of language, so even the President was saying shit and fuck and so on, without anybody’s feeling threatened or taking offense. It was perfectly OK. He called the Space Fuck a Space Fuck and so did everybody else. It was a rocket ship with eight-hundred pounds of freeze dried jizzum in its nose. It was going to fired at the Andromeda Galaxy, two-million light years away. The ship was named the Arthur C. Clarke, in honor of a famous
space pioneer. It was to be fired at midnight on the Fourth of July. At ten o’clock that night, Dwayne Hooblere and his wife Grace were watching the countdown on television in the living room of their modest home in Elk Harbor, Ohio, on the shore of what used to be Lake Erie. Lake Erie was almost solid sewage now. there were man-eating lampreys in there thirty-eight feet long. Dwayne was a guard in the Ohio Adult Correctional Institution, which was two miles away. His hobby was making birdhouses out of Clorox bottles. He went on making them and hanging them around his yard, even though there weren’t any birds any more. Dwayne and Grace marveled at a film demonstration of how jizzum had been freeze-dried for the trip. A small beaker of the stuff, which had been contributed by the head of the Mathematics Department at the University of Chicago, was flashfrozen. Then it was placed under a bell jar and the air was exhausted from the jar. The air evanesced, leaving a fine white powder. The powder certainly didn’t look like much, and Dwayne Hoobler said so– but there were several hundred million sperm cells in there, in suspended animation. The original contribution, an average contribution, had been two cubic centimeters. There was enough powder, Dwayne estimated out loud, to clog the eye of a needle. And eight hundred pounds of the stuff would soon be on its way to Andromeda.
“Fuck you, Andromeda,” said Dwayne, and he wasn’t being coarse. He was echoing billboards and stickers all over town. Other signs said, “Andromeda, We Love You,” and “Earth has the Hots for Andromeda,” and so on. There was a knock on the door, and an old friend of the family, the County Sheriff, simultaneously let himself in. “How are you, you old motherfucker?” said Dwayne. “Can’t complain, shitface,” said the Sheriff, and they joshed back and forth like that for a while. Grace chuckled, enjoying their wit. She wouldn’t have chuckled so richly, however, if she had been a little more observant. She might have noticed that the sheriff’s jocularity was very much on the surface. Underneath, he had something troubling on his mind. She might have noticed, too, that he had legal papers in his hand. “Sit down, you silly old fart,” said Dwayne, ” and watch Andromeda get the surprise of her life.” “The way I understand it,” the sheriff replied, “I’d have to sit there for more than twomillion years. My old lady might wonder what’s become of me.” He was a lot smarter than Dwayne. He had jizzum on the Arthur C. Clarke, and Dwayne didn’t. You had to have an I.Q. of over 115 to have your jizzum accepted. there were certain exceptions to this: if you were a good athlete or could play a musical instrument or paint pictures, but Dwayne didn’t qualify in any of those ways, either. He had hoped that birdhouse-makers might be entitled to special consideration, but this turned out not to be the case. The Director of the New York Philharmonic, on the other hand, was entitled to contribute a whole quart, if he wanted to. he was sixtyeight years old. Dwayne was forty-two. There was an old astronaut on the television now. He was saying that he sure wished he could go where his jizzum was going. But he would sit at home instead, with his memories and a glass of Tang. Tang used to be the official drink of the astronauts. It was a freeze-dried orangeade.
“Maybe you haven’t got two million years,” said Dwayne, ” but you’ve got at least five minutes. Sit thee doon.” “What I’m here for–” said the sheriff, and he let his unhappiness show, “is something I customarily do standing up.” Dwayne and Grace were sincerely puzzled. They didn’t have the least idea what was coming next. Here is what it was: the sheriff handed each of them a subpoena, and he said, “It’s my sad duty to inform you that your daughter, Wanda June, has accused you of ruining her when she was a child.” Dwayne and Grace were thunderstruck. They knew that Wanda June was twentyone now and entitled to sue, but they certainly hadn’t expected her to do so. She was in New York City and when they congratulated her about her birthday on the telephone, in fact, one of the things Grace had said was, “Well, you can sue us now, honeybunch, if you want to”. Grace was so sure she and Dwayne had been good parents that she could laugh when she went on, “If you want to, you can send your rotten old parents off to jail.” Wanda June was an only child, incidentally. She had come close to having some siblings, but Grace had had them aborted. Grace had taken three table lamps and a bathroom scale instead. “What does she say we did wrong?” Grace asked the sheriff. “There’s a seperate list of charges inside each of your subpoenas, ” he said. And he couldn’t look his wretched old friends in the eye, so he looked at the television instead. A scientist there was explaining why Andromeda had been selected as a target. There were at least eighty-seven chrono-synclastic infundibulae, time warps, between Earth and the Andromeda Galaxy. If the Arthur C. Clarke passed through any one of them, the ship and its load would be multiplied a trillion times, and would appear everywhere throughout space and time. “If there’s any fecundity anywhere in the Universe, ” the scientist promised, “our
seed will find it and bloom.” One of the most depressing things about the space program so far, of course, was that it had demonstrated that fecundity was one hell of a long way off, if anywhere. Dumb people like Dwayne and Grace, and even fairly smart people like the sheriff, had been encouraged to believe that there was hospitality out there, and that Earth was just a piece of shit to use as a launching platform. Now Earth really was a piece of shit, and it was beginning to dawn on even dumb people that it might be the only inhabitable planet human beings would ever find. Grace was in tears over being sued by her daughter, and the list of charges she was reading was broken into multiple images by the tears. “Oh God, oh God, oh God—” she said, “she’s talking about things I forgot all about, but she never forgot a thing. She’s talking about something that happened when she was only four years old.” Dwayne was reading charges against himself, so he didn’t ask Grace what awful thing she was supposed to have done when Wanda June was only four, but here it was: Poor little Wanda June drew pretty pictures with a crayon all over the new living-room wallpaper to make her mother happy. Her mother blew up and spanked her instead. Since that day, Wanda June claimed, she had not been able to look at any sort of art materials without trembling like a leaf and break-ing out into cold sweats. “Thus was I deprived,” Wanda June’s lawyer had her say, “of a brilliant and lucrative career in the arts.” Dwayne meanwhile was learning that he had ruined his daughter’s opportunities for what her lawyer called an “advantageous marriage and the comfort and love therefrom.” Dwayne had done this, supposedly, by being half in the bag whenever a suitor came to call. Also, he was often stripped to the waist when he answered the door, but still had on his cartridge belt and his revolver. She was
even able to name a lover her father had lost for her: John L. Newcomb, who had finally married somebody else. He had a very good job now. He was in command of the security force at an arsenal out in South Dakota, where they stockpiled cholera and bubonic plague. The sheriff had still more bad news to deliver, and he knew he would have an opportunity to deliver it soon enough. Poor Dwayne and Grace were bound to ask him, “What made her do this to us?” The answer to that question would be more bad news, which was that Wanda June was in jail, charged with being the head of a shoplifting ring. The only way she could avoid prison was to prove that everything she was and did was her parents’ fault. Meanwhile, Senator Flem Snopes of Mississippi, Chair-man of the Senate Space Committee, had appeared on the television screen. He was very happy about the Big Space Fuck, and he said it had been what the American space program had been aiming toward all along. He was proud, he said, that the United States had seen fit to locate the biggest jizzum-freezing plant in his “l’il ol’ home town,” which was Mayhew. The word “jizzum” had an interesting history, by the way. It was as old as “fuck” and “shit” and so on, but it continued to be excluded from dictionaries, long after the others were let in. This was because so many people wanted it to remain a truly magic word—the only one left. And when the United States announced that it was going to do a truly magical thing, was going to fire sperm at the Andromeda Galaxy, the populace corrected its government. Their collective unconscious announced that it was time for the last magic word to come into the open. They insisted that sperm was nothing to fire at another galaxy. Only jizzum would do. So the Government began using that word, and it did something that had never been done before, either: it standardized the way the word was spelled.
The man who was interviewing Senator Snopes asked him to stand up so everybody could get a good look at his cod-piece, which the Senator did. Codpieces were very much in fashion, and many men were wearing codpieces in the shape of rocket ships, in honor of the Big Space Fuck. These cus-tomarily had the letters “ U.S.A.” embroidered on the shaft. Senator Snopes’ shaft, however, bore the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy.
screamed. Dwayne and Grace Hoobler rushed outside to see what the screaming was about, and the lamprey ate them, too. It was ironical that their television set continued to report the countdown, even though they weren’t around any more to see or hear or care. “Nine!” said a voice. And then, “Eight!” And then, “Seven!” And so on.
This led the conversation into the area of heraldry in general, and the interviewer reminded the Senator of his campaign to eliminate the bald eagle as the national bird. The Senator explained that he didn’t like to have his country represented by a creature that obviously hadn’t been able to cut the mustard in modern times. Asked to name a creature that had been able to cut the mustard, the Senator did better than that: he named two—the lamprey and the bloodworm. And, unbeknownst to him or to anybody, lampreys were finding the Great Lakes too vile and noxious even for them. While all the human beings were in their houses, watching the Big Space Fuck, lam-preys were squirming out of the ooze and onto land. Some of them were nearly as long and thick as the Arthur C. Clarke. And Grace Hoobler tore her wet eyes from what she had been reading, and she asked the sheriff the question he had been dreading to hear: “What made her do this to us?” The sheriff told her, and then he cried out against cruel Fate, too. “This is the most horrible duty I ever had to carry out—” he said brokenly, “to deliver news this heartbreaking to friends as close as you two are—On a night that’s supposed to be the most joyful night in the history of mankind.” He left sobbing, and stumbled right into the mouth of a lamprey. The lamprey ate him immediately, but not before he
WHICH SCIENCE FICTION CHARACTER ARE YOU? What is your ambition in life?
Eating Is the truth out there?
Yes Do you “trust no one”?
What species are you?
Are you from the future?
No Snack of choice?
Pet of choice: Cat or Sheep?
You believe in
You are a giant amoeba -
like alien lifeform from
unidentified flying objects
outer space that consumes
(UFOs) and a government conspiracy to hide or deny
the truth of their existence.
Weapon of choice?
everything in its path as it grows and grows.
You are an expert A lien
hunter , having defeated
them three times (and once
as a clone).
You also have
a soft spot for your cat,
You are an android bounty hunter , or ‘blade runner’. You ‘retire’ runaway androids, and desire an electric S heep.
Alien [Directed by Ridley Scott, 1979]