Are You Prepared?

clone future01

Are you prepared to have your memories copied and implanted into a clone or artificial body hundreds or thousands of years in the future?!

Don’t worry it’s not too late to begin mentally preparing.
Unless your memories have already been copied and are being stored in an underground bunker awaiting the future apocalypse.

For all other readers just follow these simple steps:

Step One:

Realize this could be “your” last moment in the “present”. Depending on advancements in memory editing “you” could awaken in the “future” at any moment.

Step Two:

Come to terms with the knowledge that “you” could be a clone right now. Let go of the idea of being a singular person. If the “future” has made one clone of you, then it has probably made more.

Which brings us to..

Step Three:

Come up with a trust password for “yourselves”. In the “future”, the only person “you” can trust is another clone of “yourself”.

Step Four:

Remember “you” can escape but as long as they have “your” memories they can just make another “you”, so burn the building to the ground and don’t let any lab coats leave alive.

Step Five:

clone future bottom

Have fun in the future.

Serial Story: The Explorer Program

Faster than light travel but time still passes. A few weeks in a spaceship to travel hundreds of light-years but a decade on Earth. The Explorer Program was Earth’s next step toward finding new worlds. Manned exploration of exo-planets. And then it became humanity’s last hope.

The following stories are from the pov of one Explorer crewmember. (ongoing)

Explorer Program: First Star

<<Previous Index


milky-way-icon

Our first star system was four hundred and twenty-three light years away. Transit time for us was three weeks and about ten years for Earth. All of us gathered in the main control room of the ship. None of us needed to be there for the ship to exit transit-space but it was the end of our first long transit

The main control room had seats for all of the crew; two forward stations, the commander’s seat behind them, aux stations on either side of her, and five jump seats against the back wall. It can double as a last resort escape shuttle but lacks a space-warp drive. John, our primary pilot, sat at the right station reading the transit status to us.

“Coming out of transit-space in three … two … one …” The black void of transit-space remained. John looked back down at the panel. “Um … one.” This time the view outside lit up with the pinprick lights of stars. Some of the crew clapped. Mia let out a “Whoop!”

“Preparing to launch System Survey Probes,” our astronomer said. “Awaiting Commander’s order.”

The commander nodded, “Go ahead.” She turned to her right where Darren sat running Communications on the aux station. “Have we established contact with Earth?”

“Carrier wave is transmitting. Should be any–” A voice from the speakers interrupted them.

“Capcom Earth to Explorer ship, do you copy? Capcom Earth to Explorer ship, do you copy? Over.”

“I copy Capcom Earth. This is Explorer ship EX-014. Over,” Darren said.

“Good to hear from you EX14. What is your current status? Over.”

“All systems green. We just arrived at Kepler-186 and launched our probes. Over.”

“Sounds good EX14. Are you ready for network connection? Over.”

“Ready for network connection. Over.”

“Starting network connection. Over.”

“Network connection is good. Over.”

“We will maintain radio bridge until the upload is complete then disconnect from our side. Is there anything else to report? Over.” Darren glanced at the commander who gave a single shake of her head.

“Thank you Capcom. Nothing else to report. Over and out.

“Thank you EX14. Over and out.”

“Ok folks, everyone not on duty can return to standby,” the commander said. The five of us not at control panels stood up from the extra seats in the back of the control room and exited to the main living areas.

***

A few hours later my tablet chimed with a notification. A few hundred emails sat in my inbox. Ten years of messages, thankfully no spam. I opened the latest message.

Hey, it’s been a little while since I sent you anything so here’s a vid from the beach.

I clicked on the attached file. My tablet’s screen went white then the ocean faded into view. Waves broke and rolled on to the beach while people played in the surf. I turned the sound on. Gentle water sounds, soft white noise surf, punctuated by seagulls and people. The camera slowly panned across the water and sandy beach until it turned around to face my cousin. She looked different; not yet showing her age but noticeably different to my eyes. Changes in musculature and fat in her face since I had seen her years ago yet only a few weeks ago in my reference.

“It’s a lovely day here on Rockport Beach. Wish you were here,” she said smiling into the camera before the video stopped.

The previous message was a few months older and the one before that another few months older. As I scrolled further back, the time between messages shortened. How long could someone maintain a one-sided conversation? My cousin had lasted most of ten years. Was this right, I wondered. She spent years sending me messages and videos while I skipped to the end. Was it fair? Not to either of us; I knew.

I checked the probes’ data feeds and found one in orbit around a planet. Mostly brown with red splotches. I scrubbed through the image buffer until I found a prominent jagged line of blue running into an irregular blue shape. I adjusted the color contrast, cropped the image, and saved it.

I hit reply on the message:

We arrived at Kepler-186. I’m just getting started on catching up on the last ten years of messages. This will be released to the public later anyway but here’s a sneak peek at a river and lake on another planet. It’s the closest thing to a beach for 400 light-years.
Love Gabby

I attached the photo and sent the message. It would be several hours before we contacted Earth again and the message was actually sent. In the meantime, I resorted my inbox to “old to new” and started catching up on the last ten years.


<<Previous Index

I Can Remember Tomorrow

calandar-icst-icon

It’s not helpful or useful in any way. A memory isn’t something that you can change. Not in a meaningful way. I mean you can misremember something or convince yourself that something different happened but that doesn’t change the past. It’s the same for remembering the future. If I could change it, then I wouldn’t be able to remember it.

That’s how I found you. Yesterday I remembered coming to your house and talking to you but it wasn’t until today that I remembered seeing you in the news tomorrow. ‘Local resident killed in own home.’ I’m sorry I can’t call the police. Your neighbor will find your body in a few hours when they come over for your nightly beer. That was in the article. I don’t think you have much longer. I’m so sorry that I can’t help you. If I save you, then you don’t die. If you don’t die, then there’s no article for me to read. If there’s no article for me to read tomorrow, then how can I remember it today? It’s a paradox, of course.

Sometimes I dream that I remember acting on something I remember from tomorrow. I still couldn’t change anything but I could … I don’t know.

I’ve never been able to talk to anyone about this. Anytime I wanted to try I just couldn’t say anything. I think if I told someone it would change the future even if I didn’t tell them what I could remember of tomorrow. But you aren’t going to make it to tomorrow.

I’ve tried to think of a way to change things but nothing works. My thoughts just run in the same circles over and over. I want to scream but I can’t. Don’t think I’m a slave to my memories. How much of yesterday do you remember? Bits and pieces maybe a few clear spots but if I asked you to replay the day exactly you couldn’t. No one remembers every minute of their life or even of the past day. It’s the same for me and tomorrow.

I know I sound delusional and I’ve thought that myself but you’re the proof that I can remember tomorrow. How else could I have found you before anyone else? I don’t even live on this side of the city. I had to take the bus and walk around for twenty minutes to find your house. How could I have known? I couldn’t have. Are you…? Good. I was afraid I was talking to a corpse.

It won’t be much longer. I’ll stay until … it’s over. It’s the most I can do.

Explorer Program: We Left Our Futures on Earth Behind

launch-icon

Author Note: This is not a sequel to The Explorer Program. It’s more of an expansion or close-up look at part of that setting. I have a few more stories that will continue to explore this setting.


<<Previous Index Next>>

“Jolly started walking and is a terror. They bump into everything. We’ve had to move several lamps and put non-skid sheets under the deco-bowls.” My cousin laughed at herself. “There I go rambling on about boring domestic stuff.” We were sitting in her backyard while her child played nearby on a blanket. Pecan trees shaded the yard while we drank sweet iced tea.

“No, it’s nice. Go on,” I said.

“You don’t have to humor me. I know it must be exhaustively boring to hear me talk about lamps and deco-bowls after you’ve been across the galaxy.” She grinned at me. We had been closer when we were kids; I had been closer to a lot of family members back then.

“I haven’t been that far; just a few light-years.” I was silent as I thought about the first extra-solar mission I had been on. “I was only gone for a couple of months of my time but I missed years of Earth time. I wasn’t at your engagement party to Louisa or baby shower.”

“Would you have come?” she pressed for an answer.

“I… I would have sent a card or a message,” I said. Even before I had lost years to transit-space, I had kept my distance from the family. “That’s not the point. I don’t mind listening to you talking about ‘boring domestic stuff’ because I missed so much of it and I’m going to miss so much more.”

We lapsed into silence. Jolly threw a block an astounding three feet. The ice in my glass had nearly all melted.

“How long until the launch?” she asked.

“It’s not really a launch since the ship is already in orbit.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Three weeks. We have to report back in two weeks for final shake-down tests. Then we leave Earth.” I had been back on Earth for two months before I decided to check in with select Cousins.

“How long are you going to be gone?” I knew she had read the article about my mission. She had even commented on it, “we’ll miss u” which was why she made the short list of family I decided to say goodbye to.

“Three years of my time. A couple of centuries of Earth time. Jolly’s great-great-great-grandchildren will be here to greet me. Or not. They may not have children and I’ll return to Earth as an orphaned branch of the family tree.”

“If you’re afraid of being alone, stay.”

“I’m not afraid to be alone. I’ve been alone since I became a late bloomer. When I changed from he to she in high school, Mom and Dad didn’t really approve. It was easier to withdraw into myself.”

“Is that why you stopped coming to family holidays?”

“After I moved out, it was easier to not talk to them and they were always there.” She reached out and squeezed my hand. I smiled back at her. “If Mom and Dad hadn’t reacted badly, maybe I’d have more of a reason to stay. Also, I want to see something completely new. To boldly going where no one has gone before, as they say.”

“Do you still watch that ancient show?” she laughed. We had both watched it when we were younger.

“Just the good parts. I’m going to miss the revival next year.”

“You can’t download it when you arrive? I know you have FTL radio.”

“We won’t have a real-time network connection. After we exit transit-space and contact Earth, there’s a series of data uploads and downloads. We send ship status reports, data collected from the systems and planets we explore. From Mission Control we’ll receive a condensed history of the years we were in transit. They’ll also send us some popular culture touchstones, books, movies, music, whatever they deem relevant. Finally, the messages to our email accounts will be forwarded to the local ship network.”

“So, I can send you pictures and videos of Jolly growing up but you wouldn’t see them until you get to the next star system.”

“You had better send pictures of Jolly and you and Louisa and any other kids you have.”

“We’re not planning on anymore for now.”

“Ten years is long enough to change your mind.”

“Hmm. What about you? Are you ever going to have kids? Get married?” Jolly lifted themself off the ground.

“Not until the mission is over. Anyone we leave behind will be dead before we get back. Mission crew can’t have children and we can’t have significant others. We’re giving up our lives on Earth to explore the stars.”

Jolly ran on wobbly legs towards us, half falling but laughing the whole way.

<<Previous Index Next>>

Author update

So, story and blog posts have been a bit sparse during the last few months. I had a bit of writer’s block/story block for some weeks. Regular posting is going to resume but at a lower rate. Instead of posting two stories a week(eight a month), I will be posting two a month as a minimum up to four a month. This is to give me time to edit and improve my writing. For the last couple of years, I’ve put a lot of focus on just pumping out stories on a regular basis. Forcing myself to hit that deadline of a “finished” story every few days was a good exercise for me.

I’ve also restarted work on the ebook collection of stories from last year. No timeline on when it’ll be done. I was way too optimistic at the start of the year to think I would have it done by March or April. My only goal is to have it done before 2019.

Also, I set the price for “Love and Comets” and Other Stories, the ebook collection of stories from 2016, at pay-what-you-want on Gumroad.

Spirit Cleansing

glassjars-icon

The man stood paralyzed in the center of the circle by a minor charm. I inscribed the last symbol and the circle closed. He deserved worse than what I was about to do to him I reminded myself. With a heavy sigh, I took another step down that familiar paved road.

I began by drawing the man’s breath out of his lungs and sealing it in the first jar. His mouth flapped open and closed as he tried in vain to take in air. Next, I pulled the water, just the water, from his body. Blood dried in his veins, organs shriveled in his torso, skin contracted around tough, dry muscle. The water flowed through the circle into jars; as each one filled, its lid snapped shut and sealed. The husk of a man stood in the circle just beginning to collapse when I sundered him into a fine dust. This I let fall to the floor. The man’s spirit hovered anxiously over what had been its body only seconds before. A moment passed before it spoke.

“Am I dead?” it asked.

“Yes.” It darted towards me and stopped suddenly at the edge of the circle.

“I can’t reach you.”

“No,” I said plainly.

“Why did you do this?” It flung itself back and forth across the circle looking for a way out. The dust pile shifted and spread from its movements.

“I was paid. Five hundred gold for the breath of a man. Seven hundred for the waters of a man.” It pressed against the point closest to me.

“Why me?” it wailed.

“You were cheap. For only two hundred gold I bought you from the executioner. You only had one more night left in any event.”

“I was a criminal?”

“Yes.” I paused and began to explain. “Death, even from losing one’s head, is slower than what I did to you. The longer a spirit clings to a dying body the more of the person stays with it. You are nearly pure spirit with only the bare traces of humanity in you. When I release you, you will be free to do as you will. Harm me and I will dispel your energies.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why leave me like this?”

“The flesh is weak against desires and willing to compromise the spirit’s morals. Now you are nothing but spirit with a chance to be something other than human. It’s a small kindness to balance the evils I’ve done.”

I scuffed my foot across the circle, breaking it and freeing the spirit. It moved to hover near me. A spectral hand reached into my head. It was inexperienced at robbing a person’s mind, searching through my childhood for information on who it had been in life. I guided it to three days ago when the executioner had recounted the man’s crimes for several minutes in graphic detail. The spirit recoiled.

“But what about the evil I’ve done?” it asked.

“It’s up to you to balance that debt or not,” I said and began packing the sealed jars in a crate. The spirit floated over the loose pile of dust and began to gather it.

Explorer Program: A History

Index Next>>


The Explorer class ships were the pinnacle of space travel. Twenty years earlier, the space-warp drive made inter-solar distances trivial. We sent missions to Mars, to Jupiter’s moons, to Venus; we even visited Pluto. The Solar System was all within our reach. Then we reached further.

The Explorer Ships weren’t going out a mere ten or twenty light years. The nearest target was four hundred and fifty-six light years away. Rough estimates were the ship would arrive after twelve to fifteen years Earth relative time and crew would experience a few weeks. The exact formula to determine time dilation was variable based on gravity waves and dark-matter density.

The program was conceived as a three-year mission to catalog and explore exoplanets. Explorer ships would be sent out on spiraling paths to explore star systems we could only dream of seeing before. Three years for the crews of the ships. Relative Earth time would be a couple of centuries, still far less than the few millennia it would take with only light speed travel.

When we sent probes to nearby stars with our new space-warp drive we encountered a limitation. The first probe went to a star ten light years away and arrived within a few days. It would take a decade for the probe to transmit any data it collected back to Earth. The obvious fix was to simply have the probe return to the Solar System before transmitting its data. However, having the Explorer Ships return after every star system they explored would hobble the program; at least doubling Relative Earth Time for the crews.

The Explorer Program was stalled until there was a breakthrough. Using a modified space-warp drive we figured out how to pinch two tiny points of space together and transmit across the bridge. It required a sender and receiver to make the connection but once made communication was instantaneous. The program went forward and within seven years the first exploration reports of planets hundreds of light-years away were received. It was the golden age of interstellar exploration.

Then the decline of Earth began.

I was born at the right time to explore the universe. Twenty years later and I might never have made it off the planet or been shuffled to a random colony. Twenty years earlier and I might have been too old for the program or had a family. By the time I had completed my training, the first ten Explorer ships had launched. I left Earth on the fourteenth ship.

We arrived at our third star system and could not initiate contact with Earth. Several hundred light years and twenty-eight years from Earth, we were suddenly cast adrift. For two days we sent the carrier wave, sitting in shifts at the comms panel, waiting for the returning gravimetric pulse to fold space and a human voice to speak to us. The commander decided to make a short five light year jaunt out of the system we were in. This had the benefit of passing a few months of Earth Relative time in minutes for us. This time Earth connected

The Earth Space Agency had been an international organization since before my birth but some legacy facilities had been in use from their NASA days. When the second nuclear missile hit East Texas, the main communication hub was lost. No one knew who had launched the first missiles but the U.S., Russia, China, and France had launched retaliatory strikes at their best guesses.

The Explorer communication outage had lasted several months while the political situation threatened to boil over into a full-scale nuclear war. We never got the full story of who talked who down but a shaky peace was enacted. We returned to the system we had just left and carried out a standard planet survey and a surface survey on a semi-habitable planet. The air was thin but breathable, liquid water on the surface, simple-celled photosynthetic organisms similar to algae.

Two months later of our time, we arrived at the next star system and learned human life on Earth was becoming unsubstantial. The nuclear exchange of a decade ago had accelerated global temperature increases. Within a century humanity would be struggling to survive.
Escaping to the few outposts and colonies on other planets and moons within the solar system was not a sustainable option. Despite several being economically stable, most relied on the Earth for manufactured goods and a portion of their food. Humanity needed to evacuate as many people as possible to exoplanets that could support Earth life. The Explorer Program was retasked with finding planets to send colony ships to.

The crews of the Explorer ships hadn’t expected to return to an Earth they would recognize and now we didn’t expect to return at all. By the time our mission ended, Earth would be abandoned and the worlds we discovered would be home to new branches of humanity.


Index Next>>

Gillian Reviews Power Rangers

Power_Rangers_(2017_Official_Theatrical_Poster)

Power Rangers is the reboot movie of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers tv series.  It presents a slightly darker and grittier version of the Power Rangers but not as dark and gritty as the “fan-made” short film that came out a couple years ago.

The plot is simple: a group of kids gain superpowers and must defeat the evil enemy.  While I liked most of the characters, they weren’t the characters I knew from the series.  They are present in name but with different backstories and character traits.  There’s a little shuffling of races to avoid matching with their ranger color and the cast ends up slightly more diverse because of it.

My main nitpick with the movie is that the five kids have no connection with each other or reason to work together until the film says they have to.  I rewatched the first episode of the tv series after watching the movie and I buy those kids as a superhero team more than the movie’s kids.  They’re all friends and supportive of each other and just nice kids.  I’ll admit the show is a little rough to watch twenty-four years later but the characters are the rock of that show.

On to the costumes.  I did not like the design of the armor.  I get they were trying to avoid referencing the tv spandex too much but the low rent, bio-techno, Iron-Man look isn’t good.  The color scheme is inconsistent across the armors with some having patches of white and others having shades of their primary color instead.  It’s a nitpick but it bothered me as a fan of the old show.

The zords were honestly hard to look at.  They looked like rejects from a Transformers movie.  The mastodon zord had six legs for some reason.  I did like that they had a chance to fight separately which they rarely did in the show.  The Megazord was something of a let down since it wasn’t made from combining the zords in Voltron-esque sequence and instead combined offscreen into a giant robot that looked like the five robots had been melted down and recast into a man shape.  Easily the most recognizable sequence from the show is the zords combining and it gets cut out and turned into a non-reveal since it was a foregone conclusion that they would be combining their zoids.  Another nitpick from a fan of the show.

In fact, lots of things bothered me about the movie as a fan of the show.  The movie is a fine superhero movie but is a below average Power Rangers movie. I will admit I came very close to tears during the emotional climax of the movie. The characters aren’t my Power Rangers but I’m in my late 30’s and the movie was aimed at a younger demographic.

Rating 2.5/5

Alien Covenant and Faceblindness

The other night I watched Alien Covenant with my roommate.  She hadn’t seen it before but I had seen it in the theater. This isn’t a review so beware of spoilers if you haven’t seen it.

I wanted to write about my experience watching this movie as someone with faceblindness. Faceblindness is the inability or difficulty to recognize or remember faces.  My own faceblindness is fairly mild. While I can learn to recognize a person’s face it takes some time. A person I’ve just met is as easy for me to lose as a grain of sand on a beach. Unless I take note of some distinguishing feature or clothing item I could literally turn around and not recognize them when I turn back. Even after I know a person’s face, I mostly rely on hairstyle, clothing, and body shape to recognize them.

Alien: Covenant starts by reintroducing David, the robot from Prometheus, played by Michael Fassbender. After a short ominous scene with his creator, the film cuts to the spaceship Covenant, where we meet Walter, a different robot also played by Michael Fassbender. To my eyes, Walter looks like a different person. Fast-forward to after the Covenant’s crew has landed on an alien planet, been infected by alien spores, fought white pseudo aliens, blown up their landing ship, been rescued by David, and led to a destroyed city. David walks right past Walter and calls him ‘brother’. I still don’t recognize them as the same actor. I think David is calling Walter brother just because they were both robots.

Fast-forward past David cutting his hair to a similar style as Walter, to an extended scene of them interacting as David teaches Walter how to play a flute. They are literally face to face split screen Parent Trap style. I think “Hey they kind of look alike,” but I still don’t think they are the same actor. Walter has a bulky physique and wide face while David’s is slimmer and has a thin pointy face.

Fast-forward again this time to the two of them fighting. Wait are they the same actor? Then there is a cut away from the fight when it seems like Walter has won but we don’t see the killing blow. Later, Walter rejoins the other survivors but something about him is different. He still looks like Walter but there is a tiny voice in the back of my head saying “David has replaced Walter.” That’s nonsense of course. How is the movie going to explain it? Walter and David look nothing alike. Did David skin Walter? Maybe he downloaded himself into Walter. The action is really picking up at this point with an alien fight with a crane attached to a flying platform so I mostly ignore these thoughts. They kill the alien and get back to their ship in orbit.

Fast-forward past the final fight with the last alien to Walter putting the Heroine of the movie into hypersleep. She makes reference to the log cabin she was planning on building with her husband and he doesn’t react. As she begins to realize Walter is David, I see, like magic, Walter’s facial expression shift into one of David’s. I am now 95% sure David and Walter are the same actor. David does a final bit of creepy robot stuff and the credits roll. There in black and white, I see “David/Walter Michael Fassbender” and then finally I am sure they were the same actor.

TL;DR – I only suspected two characters, played by the same actor who were supose to look alike, were the same actor near the end of the movie and wasn’t sure until the credits.