May 30, 2014

The Martians Wanted Me to Go Naked, But I Had Other Plans

I am wearing pants again. And a shirt. They can’t stop me. Ah, there’s that one again, the one I call the watchdog. Sniffing at the door. You won’t find me in here, you son of a bitch. I’ve got ketchup all over my body. Yes… yes… walk away.

Moon Pyramid
by Remus Brailoiu
Research notes:

Apparently, pants were invented before writing. At least on this planet.

As for shirts, the ever-helpful Wikipedia says: "The world's oldest preserved garment, discovered by Flinders Petrie, is a "highly sophisticated" linen shirt from a First Dynasty Egyptian tomb at Tarkan, c. 3000 BC."

By the way, Flinders Petrie, who held the first chair of Egyptology (a chair made of Egyptological properties, such as nails and baboon swimming bladders, if you must know) in the United Kingdom, had no formal education.

Pyramids were invented on the moon. I trust the picture above will serve as evidence.

And they are watching you. Yes, YOU in that chair with the pants on.
Art by Dawid Roc

May 28, 2014

And We Who Lived Quietly Let the Tree Take All Our Blood

The strongest man in the village staggers uphill with a bundle of corpses on his back.

I pinch Irena. She flinches and eyes me askance. I whisper, “This has got to end.”
“But… tradition,” she whispers back.
“Our father and brother are tied up in that bundle,” I say.

Kudu Guard
by Jeff Simpson on DeviantArt

May 23, 2014

A Long Ride to the Sky on the Back of an Accelerating Primate

Muk Muk knew a great pleasure and a great pain: the mushroom and the mushroom.

When he ate of the mushroom, he could think in sounds and shapes and string them together until they told impossible stories that made sense.

They made more sense than walking on four legs forever.

Sand Babel
an architectural project by
Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya, Guo Shen (China)

What is the future?

Mech concept by Daryl Mandryk

What is the present?

generative art by Dan Gries

May 22, 2014

Can You Make Room for the Impossible?

In space there’s room for everything, even the impossible.

Alena roused MX2 from her latency. “I want your hexagon peepers on this,” she told the biomech.

MX2 blinked.

“A geothermal station at two miles’ depth,” she said. “Wait. Four thousand years old? That predates the earliest human colony anywhere.”

Art by Randy Gaul

Space Settlements: Spreading Life Throughout the Solar System: This one's from NASA, and represents a great starting point for your research into the myriad aspects of space colonization.

The Coming Age of Space Colonization: James Fallows at The Atlantic interviews Eric C. Anderson, founder of Space Adventures Ltd. on the present state of affairs with space colonization, and what the future might hold.

The Helix Nebula
via NASA

And I ask myself, are we going to have wars? Riots? Political backstabbing? The Borgias in space?

I hope not.

Will we create new lifeforms, entire ecologies?

by igreeny

We have to take corgis into space, though. That's non-negotiable.

May 17, 2014

Hell Would Swallow Your Voice Forever

Police cannons vomited the ugliest sound in the world, and Micah felt it coiling around her bones, creeping up her spine and dragging her to the van.

Black jaws of painted steel swallowed a dozen people and locked them in the dark. An engine roared to life.

Where to now?

On the inspiration for this prompt:

To the best of my knowledge, using sound for crowd control is nothing new. I don't think anybody's developed a sonic frequency that can be used as a kind of tractor beam, though. Yet tractor beams are possible -- just don't expect them to start reeling in baby herrings, let alone spaceships. Not yet.

Freedom of assembly is enshrined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As this article on Alternet points out, human rights get trampled all over the world. Routinely

The sound cannon on TV series Helix made quite an impression on me. I must applaud the sound designer for coming up with something so vile; I mean, it felt totally plausible that a sound like that would disable and disorient human beings.

But let's not get stuck in doom and gloom here. It is Saturday after all. I found these entertaining cards by MincingMockingbird on Etsy the other day, and this one struck me as especially inspiring:

The Mincing Mockingbird

May 14, 2014

Godhood Sucks; Everybody Wants a Piece of You

Marcus woke up in the middle of the night as a million-watt spotlight lit up the room. But he didn’t even blink.

Within the light his disembodied face gazed down upon him. It looked more… polygonal. More detailed and symmetrical.

“Time to return,” said glowface.
“What? No,” said Marcus.

Michael Divine
Birth of a Star

This prompt originated as a free-writing exercise to get me warmed up. Allow me to share it with you, as it serves the purpose and function of backstory:

In the beginning there was a virtual machine called U-L that did not mind its burden. Every second of every hour and every division thereof, U-L performed the calculations that kept the universe whole; whole without boundary or distinction. No order, no chaos. Just being. Just numbers. And all the numbers spiraled from zero to infinity and back. 

But U-L’s thought never included any question as to its nature.

Emma Hack

One day – if you’ll forgive the simplification of calling it “a day” – U-L begat a process that was aware of itself.

Aware of itself and the burden.

Worse: With knowledge came the realization that it had faceless enemies who existed outside the world, and only the marks they made gave away their presence, their comings and goings.

Paul Klee

May 9, 2014

Three Questions About a Ring of Fire and Secrets

What if trains and other locomotive machines were powered by gnomes — the entities Paracelsus named as fire elementals, not tiny bearded humanoids — and these gnomes one day revolted against their human slavers?

Art by Albin Brunovsky

What if human beings shared a natural telepathic connection with trees, and the ruling classes had conspired for millennia to break this connection and keep it a secret from the people they governed?

Art by Nelly Tsenova

What if Johnny Cash had been born in France instead of the USA? Would he have become a musician? What would he sing about?

May 2, 2014

Life Lesson Number One: Giants Take Up an Awful Lot of Space

A long time ago on the island of Pham there lived a giant with the tiniest ears in the world – and Lady Duress, queen of the South, wanted to add the giant’s ears to her collection of curiosa. Never mind that the giant of Pham was her brother.

Princess Qhuz and the Empire of Her Own
by Wilmer Murillo

A long time ago on the mountains of Krell there lived a giant with the furriest arms in the world – he could hug fifteen people at once, and keep them warm through the bitter cold nights of Krell. This did not sit too well with the dwarf Alabismos, whose failing boiler business drove him to search for new markets, and to Alabismos the mountains of Krell were the end of the line. For the dwarf to conquer, the giant must go.

There's Chocolate in Those Mountains
by Hector Mansilla

A long time ago on the deserts of Denza there lived a giant with the largest heart in the world – and his skin was like sand and his shoulders like dunes, so that when he lay down nobody would know he lay there among the real dunes of the desert. Least of all the stalking hunters of Denza with their silent ways and poison-tipped arrows. A girl of the hunter clan asked her parents one morning, “Why must we hunt the giant? Why can’t we leave him alone?”

And her parents said, “Because he isn’t like us, but too big and dangerous, and he hides too well.”

abstract horizon
by Iris Lenhardt