The next installment of the Planetary Anthology series – VENUS – releases on Valentine’s Day!
If you like a little romance in your sci-fi & fantasy, or even a little sci-fi & fantasy in your romance, this one is for you.
My short story Thirty-Seven Shades of Yellow (yes, I went there, but it’s not what you think) is only one of twenty tales you can find featured in this new release called Planetary Anthology: Venus published by Superversive Press.
Thirty-Seven Shades of Yellow – Terraforming Venus places human pioneers in a constant struggle against a raging environment, but the real challenge is finding that special someone with whom to fight the fight.
Help make this a great launch by grabbing your copy on Amazon.
Take a look at this awesome launch video put together by Ben Zwycky.
Here’s the blurb:
The second planet from the sun, a world of sulfurous gas and tremendous temperatures where the landscape features—mountains and valleys—are all named for love goddesses. Venus herself is the goddess most known for allure and romance.
Here are twenty stories featuring Venus, the planet, the goddess, or just plain love—both romantic and otherwise. Planetary Fiction explores the themes associated with these heavenly bodies as well as their astronomical, mythological, and in some cases even alchemical significance.
Included in this volume are
Just Look, I’ll Be There by A. M. Freeman Morning And Evening Star by David Hallquist Ninety Seconds by Bokerah Brumley The Wrong Venus by Lou Antonelli Enemy Beloved by Monalisa Foster Texente Tela Veneris by Edward Willett The Happiest Place On Earth by Misha Burnett Love Boat To Venus by Declan Finn Venus Times Three by Margot St Aubin Avalon by Dawn Witzke The Rituals Of Venus by Joshua M. Young First Cat In Space by Dana Bell Venus Felix by W. J. Hayes The Rocket Raising by Frederic Himebaugh Star-Crossed by Julie Frost
Honeymoon In Fairland by L. Jagi Lamplighter Thirty-Seven Shades of Yellow by J.D. Beckwith The Fox’s Fire by Danielle Ackley-McPhail Smiley The Robot by Amy Sterling Casil
Stones In High Places by Jane Lebak
Planetary Anthology: Mercury by John C. Wright, Benjamin Wheeler, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Corey McCleery, Joshua M. Young, J.D. Beckwith, Bokerah Brumley, Lou Antonelli, Declan Finn, Misha Burnett, A.M. Freeman, Dawn Witzke, David Hallquist
Firstly, I must state for the record that I am an author in this anthology.
Secondly, I also state that the opinions expressed in this review are mine alone, and are mostly for my own remembrance of the stories. I do this with all anthologies I read (and books, too). My reviews of individual stories sometimes contain spoilers, so read them at your own risk if you have not yet read the book.
As a summary, I can say that this anthology was definitely worth the five star rating. No, I didn’t think every story was a five star, but enough of them were to justify the overall rating. I’m not rating them individually because I am a co-author. I will simply state that none are less than three stars for me, with several fours and fives.
Don’t read further if you are worried about spoilers. I try not to, but it is difficult with short stories. Plus, this is intended for me to remember with, and other interested parties to compare notes.
In the Palace of Promised Immortality by John C. Wright
Wright’s story is very deep. It took me a moment to figure out what was going on with the MC, but once I did, things became clearer. The deeper meaning is the overlay of the Christian concepts of Grace, Predestination & Free Will. Also, the concept of Purgatory being a causality loop in a time paradox was astounding. I will admit to stopping two or three times just to boggle at the allegorical weaving that this story entailed. It is a masterpiece.
Schubert to Rachmaninoff by Benjamin Wheeler
Unfortunately, this tale didn’t relly do it for me. I have read one other of Wheeler’s short stories, and thought it was quite good. It started off on a low note because I instantly hated the MC because I don’t like cocky braggarts. Then, I didn’t find the reasons for the necessity of his dangerous delivery to be believable. There were some other issues I had, but the nail in the coffin was a physics oversight. (Lack of an atmosphere means there can’t be a vacuum that sucks in dust and the MC’s bike). Not wanting to be all negative (my grumpy nerd side is showing a bit), I will say that it was full of vividly painted scenery, and there’s definitely a good writing style with plenty of action to be had. Wheeler writes well, I just didn’t like this particular story.
The Element of Transformation by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Lamplighter’s story is another fantastic tale. The son of Prospero the Magician gets thrown into prison where he runs across Mercury (the god). A loss from his past prevents him from acting in motivated self-interest until Mercury shows him some things from another perspective. It is complex, derives a bit from history and the real world while weaving in the mystical. Amazingly, the MC actually has growth, even within the confines of a short story. The ending was terrific, unexpected, and uplifting.
In Tower of the Luminious Sages by Corey McCleery
This was a very vivid tale of Oriental Empires and Ancient Dragon-Gods. A young female thief gets more than she expects when she tries to rob a tower with magical significance. She discovers a truth about her own origins and reveals a truth that can save an Empire. Well written and highly descriptive, this story paints its images on the theatre of your mind that almost paint by number in its exactness. You almost have no choice but to see what is described. Gripping and had a good ending.
The Haunted Mines of Mercury by Joshua M. Young
A scary tale that is but a glimpse of a much larger world and universe. While investigating strange occurrences in a mine on Mercury, the MC must face ghost/demons left behind… in the distance past of the planet, and in the recent past of his own heart. The main action scene in this story are pulse-pounding, and the lead it is spot on for tension building. Bravo, Mr. Young!
Quicksilverby J.D. Beckwith <– Hey, I know this guy! 🙂
I enjoyed writing this story, and spent way more time designing the Chariot of Helios in my head than I should have. I hope you like it too.
Ancestors Answer by Bokerah Brumley
A Japanese woman whose family honor has been completely tarnished by the action of her descendants is given the power and responsibility to go back to the land of the living to correct it.
Last Call by Lou Antonelli
Mercury’s core has been mined out to make a space fleet to protect humanity. An old hand of forty years has known nothing but ore hauling. Now that it’s done, he stays behind to close out the books. This one is very shy on character development, even for a short. It’s meant to be a sympathy torque, but it missed the mark for me because I didn’t connect with the MC.
Deceptive Appearances by Declan Finn
Two rough and tumble detectives stop a weapons dealer on Mercury, but only one of them knows the full score… because where would be the fun if they both did? Nice detective noir style story that’s self-contained and fun.
mDNA by Misha Burnett
A genetic courier and artificial insemination expert makes house-calls for the few remaining reproductive people on a dying Earth. I was a bit put off by this one, as it was a bit depressing and kind of an icky subject matter. Good writing though.
The Star of Mercury by A.M. Freeman
An entrepreneurial inventor with money woes is stranded on Mercury with a sickly daughter he needs to get back home to Earth for treatment. A jealous and disreputable nemesis keeps stealing his work. This story was amazing. It made me SO MAD at the bad guy I could have spit! I loved the ending!
Cucurbita Mercurias by Dawn Witzke
Devotion to achieving fame leads a terraforming botanist’s work on Mercury to a dark place when sweat and tears are no longer enough. Short, but oh so dark!
The Wanderer by David Hallquist
A failed attempt to seed a newborn solar system with life leaves a sentient ship lost and alone for eternity. A mystery in Mercury’s depths brings one man face to face with what could be mankind’s greatest discovery. Epic in thought and scope, this story is by far my favorite of the anthology. I hope for a sequel or expansion.
Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.
The Cloverfield Paradox is a great science-fiction romp. I highly recommend it.
The critics’ response to The Cloverfield Paradox once again proves that ‘Critics Don’t Know Science Fiction’ or what’s good. The special effects are awesome. The suspense is great. The science referenced is deep (but don’t over-think it). The actors, although completely unknown to me, are terrific.
This third installment of the Cloverfield franchise is much more on par with the first.
The original Cloverfield was a great movie. The style (jerky camera footage) made me a bit nauseous when I watched it at first, but it made for a sense of realism that pulled me in as a participant rather than just a viewer. That feeling of not knowing what would happen next (or what the heck was really going on, for that matter) was what made it a great movie to me. Well, The Cloverfield Paradox does that again, only this time it’s in space!
Now, I won’t compare it to the fail that was 10 Cloverfield Lane. That was just psycho-thriller garbage with aliens thrown into the mix. It was like Signs, but with John Goodman manifesting the crazy of the entire cast himself right after a screeching fight with Rosanne Barr. Swing away Dan!
Anyway, below I’ll discuss some details about the plot and give some nitpicks. There are going to be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it first. But come back and read the rest of this and see if you agree. I’d love to hear your comments!
—————-SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT—————-
The movie starts off in the middle of a gas shortage line. I was thinking we were going to get some Clover action right up front, but it was the character back-story instead. You find out that Earth is in energy depletion hell and about to fight about it. Soon though, you are on the space station where the super-collider is being built that will generate infinite power (nitpick #1). Fail, fail, fail again. Then success, but a BIG BADA-BOOM fail.
After that, all sorts of weird happens. Not mega-critter or creepy critter a la Clover weird, but more Event Horizon without the malevolence weird. There’s plenty of eepy-creepy to enjoy. There’s also lots of space ‘spoldy stuff and a good bit of intrigue. Like I said before, trying to figure out what is happening is what makes it so good. And it has lots of different genre styles meshed together.
Now it’s time for my usual nitpick where I point out the things I didn’t like (sci-fi nerd complaints). 1) Infinite Power from the supercollider – Nope. Not even a theory as far as I know. I am not a particle physicist, however. 2) Play it again, Sam – They run the Shepherd (Collider) again to get back home. How does that work? They randomly jumped to the parallel dimension they were in, so why is the second time reversed? Why not another random jump. This was never fully explained to my nerdly satisfaction. And the third time they run it everything is fine because they blow all the condensation out. Huh? OK, whatever. 3) Displacement & Destruction – They appeared on the opposite side of Sol from Earth. Why did the other station go boom then? It crashed in the ocean (w/o burning up?). Why were they displaced. Why were able to go right back to Earth orbit when the returned after they spent days in a new solar orbit. It comes down to a case of ‘How Do It Know?’ for me.
Oh well, nerdy nitpick done. It’s sciency enough to enjoy, but like I said, don’t over think it (I don’t follow my own advice on this most of the time… which is why you should ignore most of my nitpicks in reviews.)
I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars with a healthy suspension of disbelief for the sake of enjoyment.
Free Story Friday – 2-2-18 (Unintended Consequences – A Peacekeeper Index Story)
This is the first of what I hope to make a bi-weekly blog event. Every other Friday, on Odd Weeks, I plan post a free short story. I will eventually figure out how to set up a mailing list to do this, but for now you will be able to catch them here on the blog. Of course, that means I have to write one every two weeks, which will be a challenge. This week, due to lack of time, I will admit to cheating with one I already had.
This story was written with the intent to be a one-off as a way to put a pin in the idea of The Peacekeeper Nanites. Microscopic robots in the brain that kept convicted criminals from committing repeat crime. It went on to become something much more complicated in my head, and eventually led to the origin tale that is the novel eConscience Beta
Unintended Consequences – A Peacekeeper Index Story
Silence reigned in the courtroom as Mr. Zebulon “Zeb” Brockway Edmonds, Attorney-at-Law began his closing statements. “Your Honor, my client is not some malicious criminal as the prosecution would have you believe. She is in fact the unrealized victim of one crime, and now, via the hands of the prosecuting attorney, the actual victim of two others… namely libel and harassment!
He strode back and forth in front of the judge, one arm casually resting in the palm of the other behind his back as he continued his monologue. “Now, Your Honor, I may make my living practicing law in a modern metropolitan city, but my roots go back to a much more rural upbringing. So I hope you’ll forgive that I’ve thought of a rather nice colloquial analogy for this situation.
“If a fox were killed by a farmer for trying to break into a chicken coop, would you hold the chicken at fault for being too noisy and drawing attention to itself, Your Honor? Highly doubtful. I mean, there might be some extenuating circumstance where perhaps the chicken is parading back and forth at the door yelling the fowl equivalent of ‘na-na na-na boo boo’, but, the more likely scenario is that the chicken is simply cackling over her eggs and being a chicken. No, sir, the chicken is not at fault for the fox’s ill intent, nor for the actions that the farmer takes to protect it.
“That is the situation you have in this case, Your Honor. You could hold this woman,” pointing toward his client, “no more at fault for what happened to the plaintiff than you could the chicken for the fox.
“To further that analogy, Your Honor, what if this isn’t the fox’s first time at the farm? What if he has already had a run in with that farmer before, survived the encounter, yet refuses to learn from it and returns again?” He said the last statement with a gesture toward the plaintiff, who sat at the prosecutor’s table.
He was a study in contradictions; a plethora of prison tattoos cover his forearms, neck, scalp, and even the bridge of his nose while he was dressed in a well tailored suit and tie. Most jarring of all though, were the colloidal scars on the left side of his neck and face, twisting upward to touch the corner of his empty left eye socket and his half-melted earlobe.
“The plaintiff certainly has a previous history of poor choices. In this instance, the farmer, in the form of Peacekeeper Nanites, protected the flock, Your Honor. The plaintiff is responsible for his own thoughts, and, as the Peacekeeper Nanite technology effectively demonstrated, his own attempted actions. Those actions are on the record of Required Confession from Restrained Parolees. The plaintiff admitted he intended to knowingly engage in a premeditated, illegal act against the defendant. Furthermore, as I’m sure Your Honor is quite aware, it has been established time and again in legal history that verbal antagonism — which was completely unintentional in this case, I might add — is NOT just cause for such acts!
“Additionally, Your Honor, I would like to put forth a note of caution. As conscientious actors within our the legal system, we cannot allow a case of unintended consequences to set a precedent that might be used as leverage against the first amendment of the Constitution. My client was having a private conversation in a public area in direct exercise of her free speech rights which the plaintiff just happened to overhear. The conversation was not even directed at him specifically! Did speaking aloud her opinion that “all Parolees should be required to perform menial labor at minimum wage for the remainder of their lives” kindle the plaintiff’s anger? We don’t refute that possibility. He is a Parolee, so maybe it did make him angry,” he said with a questioning shrug, a wobbling hand wave, and a slight purse to his lips. “But my client had no knowledge that he was a Parolee, nor was she even actively aware of his presence for that matter. He was in the kitchen behind various pieces of equipment. Further, one of the rights of Parolees is that they not be overtly identifiable, in which case, how could she know?
“Your Honor, the prosecution’s entire case rests on leading you to connect a very thin line of dots between events that would somehow show some culpability exists on the part of my client. It simply does not exist. My client is not responsible for someone else’s actions.
“Did the plaintiff’s anger at the defendant’s statements cause him to decide to act illegally? The answer is yes, by his own confession, it did! Did his subsequent Restriction by his implanted Peacekeeper Nanites cause his collapse and injury? That too, is a matter of factual record. However, Your Honor, the causal nature of actions does not convert to a conclusion of direct responsibility. The plaintiff’s anger, which he was not able to control in a positive manner, was his responsibility. His own failure of self-control led to his attempted illegal act, as recorded by his confession, which was the real cause of both his Restriction, and his injury. Had he chosen not to try to throw a boiling pan of hot fry grease at my client, which he knew to be an illegal act, he would not have been Restricted. His collapse to the floor — with said grease falling onto his own person — was the results of his actions, not my client’s. His injuries were of his own making!
“In conclusion Your Honor, my client has testified before you that she regrets the harm that the plaintiff has suffered. Even though, had he not been Restricted, his actions would have led to the same harm befalling herself; she still has compassion for him. That fact alone should show no personal threat or ill intent was, or has ever been, directed toward the plaintiff from my client.
“Your Honor, we ask that you please do not let an innocent victim be turned into a criminal by overzealous attorneys. And we also ask that you please do not let a victory for the Peacekeeper Enforcement Agency be turned into a mockery of justice by a frivolous lawsuit over a self-inflected consequence. With that, Your Honor, the defense formally asks that the plaintiff’s suit against my client be dismissed with prejudice, and that the plaintiff be held liable for all attorneys’ fees and court costs in this matter. The Defense rests, Your Honor.”
“Very well,” the judge said. “This court will be in recess for two hours while I deliberate,” he announced as he slammed his gavel once, and then left the dais. Noise returned to the courtroom as people and papers begin to shuffle around.
“Don’t worry, Zeb comforted his client, patting her folded hands. “There’s no way he can let this go forward. Come on. Let’s get out of here for a bit. We’ve got two hours.” He took her arm and they walked out the courtroom doors together.
“All rise!” the bailiff ordered loudly as the judge reentered the courtroom from his chambers. He seated himself and rapped his gavel three times in quick succession. After reciting the prerequisite formalities, the judge began his statements.
“I’ve reviewed this case thoroughly, and while I agree in principle with the arguments of the defense, I cannot help but see the pain and suffering that the plaintiff has endured. Let me be clear in saying that the fault for his injuries is not, in the opinion of this court, directly the result of the defendant’s actions. However, there is sufficient evidence that they were indirectly — through either negligent social behavior, or direct antagonism — caused by the defendant.”
A low murmur began in the gallery, causing the judge to rap his gavel for order. Zeb’s features darkened into a perplexed frown, but then lightened as he realized his client was looking at him fearfully. He gave her a reassuring pat on her hands, and gently encouraged her to return her attention to the judge.
The judge continued, “The court, at this juncture, cannot know with certainty which of these is truly the case. Therefore, reasonable doubt forces me to find the defendant not guilty on the charge of felony criminal threat.” The court suddenly began to buzz again with chatter, and Zeb patted his clients arm once more, and gave her a small smile as the judge banged his gavel to restore quite. “However”, he said, “on the charge of hate speech, I find the defendant guilty as charged.” The courtroom buzzed even louder this time. Zeb felt his client begin to sink to her seat, but he looked at her and shook his head quickly, indicating that she needed to remain standing.
The judge rapped his gavel several more times, calling for order repeatedly before the buzz died down again. “But, since I have not been shown conclusive proof of intent to harm by the prosecution, I will disallow the monetary damages being sought. Instead, I will take this opportunity to address an unforeseen gap in the protections and rights afforded Parolees. This court now renders the following decisions and directives.
“Firstly, by way of its granted power from the U.S. Congress through the Judicial Code Enforcement Act, the court directs the Peacekeeper Enforcement Agency to enact temporary civil code as follows: any person practicing speech or other non-verbal communications with the intent of inciting a Parolee, known or unknown, to trigger a Restriction event shall be classified as a hate crime. This code shall be enacted, and all Parolees informed of said code change as soon as practicable.
“Secondly, the court directs the prosecuting attorneys, in cooperation with the PEA, to issue a writ of legislation request to add said code to Federal Law, specifically to that law known as the Parolee Bill of Rights, such that if adopted it will be adhered to by all non-Parolee citizenry, thus becoming the law of the land.
“Thirdly, knowing that the functionality of Peacekeeper Nanite technology can prevent a future occurrence of direct verbal antagonism toward a Parolee with this code enacted, this court orders that the defendant be made a Parolee of the State, and released as soon as that has been affected. Should the defendant exercise Right of Refusal then physical incarceration shall be mandated for no less than five years in the federal penitentiary without the possibility of future offering of Parolee status. This court stands adjourned.” The judge banged his gavel once and immediately left the room.
With his client breaking down in tears, Zebulon Brockway Edmonds, Attorney-at-Law turned a stupefied stare toward his counterpart at the prosecutors’ table. The prosecuting attorney was staring at him as well. His brows were raised incredulously, and his jaw slightly agape. Shaking his head, he said to Zeb, “Well, that was unexpected!”