Joe2stories

Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Category: Writing

For Your Consideration

Cinema fans! Space is truly a place for the stars today as the first Lunar film festival starts today at the fabulous Jules Vern theatre in Lunar City One, the centre of culture off Earth. Thousands of leading lights in the film industry from across the Solar System come together to sample the best that the nascent off-Earth film industry has to offer. Though still small compared to its larger counterpart planetside, there has been massive growth in the number of films made in recent years with close to a hundred so far this year, many of which use the alien environments they were filmed in to make some startling cinema.

With over forty films on display over the next week. We asked our crack team of critics to select a short list of must-sees for the discerning cinephiles out there.

They include

 

The dust sparkled on her face

The latest thriller from director Jorgenson Fields follows hard-nosed LunarPol homicide detective Dieter Wolf as he wades through the murky rat warren called Lunar City Three trying to find what he can about a dead young woman, a missing shipment of helium 3, and the answer to questions way beyond his pay-grade.

Our critics loved the use of older sections of Lunar Cities Three and Five for principal shooting. The locations all had a busted, grimy vibe, and the omnipresent moon dust in the air gave every shot a smoky noir quality.

 

Dirk Spaz II: Titan Crush

When secret files are stolen and look about to get into the hands of renegade terrorists. The Interplanetary Secret Service know the one man to turn to. Secret agent slash extreme adventurer Dirk Spaz.

The critics had a lot to say about this new adventure story by Andreas De Milo. While they acknowledge that the plot is not up to much they praise the use of immersive holographic effects that lets the audience be right there with Dirk while he surfs methane waves on Titan, flies at breakneck speed through the rings of Saturn and falls into the icy clouds of the gas giant, all before finding the disc, getting the girl and saving the day.

 

I, JX97: A journey to freedom

Through a series of interviews and news recordings gathered together by acclaimed documentary director Hiroshi Sato, I, JX97 tells the story of the J model autonomous mining robots and their struggle from slavery on the scorched surface of Venus to the court case that won them full citizenship rights less than a decade ago.

The critics found that while the alien mannerisms and phrasing of the interviewees often makes the film seem like an arthouse piece, the pure honesty of the subjects makes this documentary a fascinating look at intelligences very different from our own.

 

Catching the Coriolis

Meet Alan, who is living a boring and unhappy life in Lagrange One when a freak encounter with the station’s Coriolis effect throws him into the life of Aliayah with hilariously life-changing results.

Our critics say kudos to the writer and director Angelou Mtemba putting a new “spin” on an old romantic comedy trope.

 

The Black Cave

A mining team beneath the surface of Mercury uncovers an ancient secret, long buried, for a very good reason.

The critics feel that director Shen Shi-Tsu is a visionary using the metal-rich obsidian walls almost as a secondary character, which both traps and terrifies the cast long before the real monster shows up.

 

Bare Minimum

When meteor strike wipes out the rest of his team. Asteroid miner Grigori Sarahkov is forced to live in a tiny compartment, surviving on the bare minimum until rescue arrives, whenever that is.

The critics found the attention to detail in this offering by new filmmaker Manuel Soto astounding. The survival procedures are accurate enough to keep even the most blood-spitting rock wrangler quiet for the close to two hour running time. There’s also the spectacular emotional depth of the relationship between Grigori and B.O.B. the autonomous cleaning robot that’s unintelligent but still, just slightly, responsive.

 

FIDO’s Quest  

Join the space exploration rover FIDO as it explores Jupiter’s Moon of Io. Help it find the power crystals that will keep it and all its rover pals working.

A first for the genre, mistress of animation Katryn Jones takes Intellicorp’s brand new narrative AI system to create an animated story that can change depending on what the children in the audience react while they’re watching. Every time you watch it you’ll see a different film and learn something new.

 

The Ares Conspiracy

The world was still reeling after the loss of Ares two, the second manned mission to the red planet. A lone investigator seeks the truth of the tragic loss. Will he find it? Or will sinister forces working in the shadows get to him first.

Our critics admit that director Mikhail Petrov has always had a soft spot for the more far-fetched conspiracies out there with this offering no exception. Still; he is a talented filmmaker and this is as well made as any in his repertoire. Well directed, acted, scored and above all beautifully shot, both on Earth and on location in Chryse Planitia, it’s well worth seeing. Just don’t assume factual basis.

 

The Tempest

Filmed on a camcorder by mission scientist and amateur filmmaker Roberta Klein with all the cast in spacesuits. Shakespeare’s classic filmed on the chaotic surface of Uranus’ moon Miranda. The tale of Prospero, Caliban and the location’s namesake Miranda is made all the eerie by the faint light from the sky and the broken world around them.

The critics adored this ultra-low-budget but enchanting offering. A fine tribute to the connection between the Bard and this distant outpost.

 

Dancers in the Sky

Two star-crossed lovers meet in the shadow of Neptune’s moon Triton. When he sees her his world fills with music and they sweep each other off their feet and into the clouds.

According to the critics this is the best low-gravity choreography since the Royal Ballet held Swan Lake in Aldrin Stadium. Truly magical to behold and with a clever use of camera angels by director Owen Brady and special costumes designed by Malcolm Smith with well-hidden flying surfaces all adding to the wonder. Top it all with some beautiful musical numbers.

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Six Word Stories 200918

“Let there be light” Fuse burnt.

Had a picnic, bear came calling.

Went Fishing and caught a mermaid

Niece found an egg. Hatched. Dragon.

Woke during night. Stranger in Bed.

I talked to doll. It answered.

First Contact

It was, as would be later said by some of the most celebrated historians in the galaxy, a perfect storm of bad circumstance. On the side of the humans, this latest species to arrive at sentience had reached the level of advanced telecommunications where falsehoods can spread as easily a truth but not the level of societal wisdom needed to deal with it safely. The Galactic representative was unfortunately from the Dra’Hel, an avian species tending towards fanatical literalism.

When the embassy ship arrived in orbit it flooded the airwaves with the standard galactic greeting. Translated into seventy of the most common local dialects, the message was the usual script of peace and love and offerings to help with some of the more pressing problems the locals seemed to be dealing with.

Within about seven minutes the contact team were shifting through the thousands of messages being sent both at the embassy ship and amongst the local political groups. Many were promising, offers of welcome, genuine discussions about how these new arrivals could help the onward development. However; almost as soon as the promising communications arose there was, in the darkest parts of the internet, some very disturbing signals.

The Illuminati knew about the alien threat. Agreed to sell your children as slaves. See the proof here. said one. Another was: The “Alien Ambassador” is a person in costume, special effects guru lays down the evidence here. There were thousands like that and they were growing at an exponential rate. As minutes turned to hours the official narratives which seemed so promising had been overshadowed by words of fear and distrust.

It all came to head when President Carl Wilson came on to address the World. He was a controversial figure. Formerly a shock jock and conspiracy theorist, he had entered the White House on the back of shocking rumours about his rival that had never been verified and was well-known for not thoroughly thinking through his statements. “These Aliens, who have come from so very, very far away” he said “We don’t know why…. Some people say good reasons. Other’s say bad reasons. I can only say that we in the United States would rather die than permit them free rein on our great nation.

Maybe the president should have picked his words better, maybe the translators on the embassy ship should have done more research about the context of particular human idioms. There could have been a whole host of things that may have been done better. All we know is that the Dra’Hel got the impression that the people of Earth wanted to die and figuring it takes all kinds to make a galaxy ordered the ships weapons to full.

There wasn’t much that could have been done after that.

 

Horoscopes 310818

Capricorn (22 December-20 January): Unexpected things are coming. Dark, unexpected things… Dress warm.

Aquarius (21 January-19 February): You will filled with a surprising but not entirely unpleasant feeling of warmth when an ex-wife sets you on fire.

Pisces (20 February – 20 March): You have been too dependent on others and you will find that to be happy you don’t need all your family, friends and most surprisingly, bones.

Aries (21 March – 20 April): Love is in the air, spreading all around you, much like that rash you really should have looked at.

Taurus (21 April – 21 May): You will be an inspiration to generations. Future text books will provide you as the prime example of the absolutely wrong way to inseminate a camel.

Gemini (22 May – 21 June): The stars thought about telling you what’s going to happen but they think the look on your face will be much funnier if it takes you by surprise.

Cancer (22 June – 23 July): You are an unstoppable force, determined and strong willed. Much like the freight-train that will hit you Tuesday morning.

Leo (24 July – 23 August): There is a grand connection, a link that joins all people in the world. That is a desire to slap you in the face.

Virgo (24 August – 23 September): Your friends will be a force for good in your life, when they finally hold an intervention about your sex-doll collection.

Libra (24 September – 23 October): You will find that little white lies can make novel social experiences go much smoother when a hooker tells you she’s clean.

Scorpio (24 October – 22 November): You know when people tell you it’s not the end of the world? On Friday they’ll be in for a hell of a surprise.

Sagittarius (23 November – 21 December): A career change is in sight when you discover a surprising and improbably mutual affinity for manatees.

Discovery

The sun was high and the desert wind blew dust continuously from the steppe into the shallow trench of the dig-site. They had been working there continuously for close to a month and already had uncovered a  veritable treasure trove of fossil life. There were massive herbivores, ferocious looking predators, a suite of bugs, crawling things and perfectly preserved plant life. A grad student was chipping away at the rocks at the edge of the trench, brushing away the powder as carefully as she could.

Unexpectedly, the grey-brown of the rock substrate gave way to a brilliant sheen of metal. She called everyone else over.

Metal? In rocks that formed millions of years ago? What could it mean? Some unusual geology? Evidence of some technology from the deep past? Something even more unexpected? Any one would be a noteworthy find.

With even more care than before she slowly chipped away the base rock from the find. It reached an edge, a straight edge, almost unheard of in nature, then a corner, a right angle, even more uncommon.  There were three more corners in total making up a plate of metal roughly the size of a legal pad.

Breathing softly, the student and two other colleagues, gently pried the plate off the rock it was lodged it and turned it over. There was a gasp from everyone around.

There was markings, indecipherable but clearly some form of writing. One set was engraved into the first ten centimetres, of the plate. It was ordered and had obviously had been placed there by some form of machine. The second, though apparently made of similar characters, were instead crudely fashioned with something like a rock.

The students, helpers, volunteers and professors who had all shared in this unforgettable find looked at the plate and then at each other. Where had it come from? What did this strange language mean? Whoever figured it out would undoubtebly discover a remarkable story.

*****

Daniel 153827 kicked the spherical machine that laid under the tropical sun, “Stupid rental” he muttered to himself as the engineering section gurgled something as if in response. “That’s just great.” He looked around. There were a lot of plants and some unfamiliar bugs crawling around but none of the bigger creatures that the brochure had talked about. They seemed to be keeping well away. It didn’t matter much. The cockpit had a mean looking blaster powerful enough to give even the largest predator in history a really bad day. He was in no danger…. Yet.

Thinking about the orientation lectures he’d had that morning (relative) he remembered, barely, what he had to do next. He felt around the back of the seat until he found the metal plate with “CronoCorp time travel rentals. Please follow these simple rules to enjoy your voyage through the fourth dimension”

There were then a list of ten don’t, normal stuff, common sense. “No killing historical figures, Not even Hitler” for example.

Grabbing a sharp rock he scraped a short message into the lower half of the plate. Starting off with his coordinates in time and space followed by “drive coolant system not working. Unable to effect a field repair.” and finally “If you find Johann 96891 in sales please tell him it is NOT like falling off a log.”

He walked over to the soft mud next to a pool of water and dug a shallow hole in which he placed the plate. He then washed his hands in the pool and walked back to the dead machine. It shouldn’t take long now.

As if on cue an identical sphere with the CronoCorp logo on the side appeared about five metres from his own. A woman in a technician’s coveralls and holding a tablet came out.

“Daniel 153827?” she asked “Sorry about the delay. You won’t believe where your message ended up.”

 

 

Essence

The frothy mess bubbled furiously around the view port of the copper still. Professor Jennsson took an appraising look and then let his apprentice Philip see.

“The distillation is the most important step.” He said to Philip, “It is the only way we have to extract the essence of the wormwood root. Its spirit if you will. Once we capture it we will be able to proceed with the next step of making our formulation.”

Philip was still looking into the view port his voice muffled by the protective robes he wore “Is it meant to move so violently?”

Prof. Jennsson looked over Philip’s shoulder to say something reassuring but saw how the froth had started to extrude through the seams of the view port. “Down!” he shouted and pushed Philip hard making him fall over.

Within seconds of them hitting the ground there was a loud band as the glass circle of the view port shot out and smashed into the wall of the workshop. There was a roar of escaped gases and scalding froth which caused the two men to make a rapid retreat to the relative safety of the filing cabinet.

From behind the pile of books and old notes they looked as the seething mass of noxious vapours hung angrily in the air. Slowly, it formed the shape of a head filled with menacing teeth and then faded into nothingness with the distinct impression in the silence of evil laughter and shouts of “I’m free! I’m free!”

Prof. Jennsson and Philip looked at where the apparition had been and then at each other. Silent for a second Jennsson was the first to speak “I was hoping to wait longer to start this part of your training but I suppose now is as good a time as ever.”

“What is that?” Philip asked “Some new spell? Something to make everything alright?”

“Close.” Said Jennsson “I will now teach you the dark art of blaming the still maker in front of the safety committee.”

Six Word Stories 240618

The president now rules the cinder.

It turned out, God hates lawyers.

Tortoise and rabbit race, Vegas madness.

Voices demanded Murder. I decided who.

Whale watching. They’d seen Moby Dick

Alien contact mishap. Translation only swearwords.

The wrong kind of love

General Sorcerer Daniel Victor raised his head as his latest patient, a young man, came in through the door. He was holding a long stick with large dog at the end. The dog was struggling to get around the pole at him.

Daniel thought a second then said, “I need you to show this. Let the dog go.”

The young man, reluctantly, released the dog. It took a bounding leap towards the young man, knocking him down, licking and nuzzling him. Daniel had to paralyse the dog with a quick spell.

Embarrassed, the young man got up and said, “I don’t understand. He’s never acted like this before. Must be bewitched.”

Daniel asked, “Have you bought any love potions recently?”

The man made to protest then said resignedly, “Yes I did. What of it?”

“I’ve seen this before, most potions don’t make someone fall in love with you but rather amplify any existing feelings for you. The thing is they can affect anyone, and anything” He gestured to the dog.

“What? Him!”

“Do you give him treats? Talk to him.”

“Occasionally.”

“Well that’s your problem. You’ve fostered an affection. The potion made it stronger”

“But what can I do?”

“It will wear off after a week.”

“A week!” The man gestured at the dog. “What am I to do until then?”

“There is one other way, but it may not work.”

“I’ll try anything.”

Daniel rolled up a newspaper and handed it to the patient. “You know what to do.”

Misunderstanding

When the Tel’krit embassy in New York was first opened it was expected that they would, like all their interstellar compatriots, staff themselves with natives of their home planet. But it turns out, it was just too expensive for the planetary government to pay for transport of sufficient staff and instead decided to hire locals.

This was, of course, looked upon as a mild case of madness by the rest of the diplomatic community and dire warnings, hushed gossip and no small amount of currency wagered on when things were going to go balls-up.

The Tel’krit though were having none of it. They’re a stoic race and were certain that any problems caused by hiring humans could be sorted out a few days “Cultural Training” and good old fashioned “common sense”.

And they were right, at first, that was until Sandra Kulinski came into work one morning and was instructed by the ambassador’s chief aide that they would be requiring a human dish specifically an omelette for a breakfast that would be held for some human business executives that morning and that she was to check the pantry for whatever they had that could be used and to buy the rest.

She quickly found the vegetables, spices and oils for cooking but was short only one ingredient, eggs. No matter, she was about to set out to the local store to buy a dozen when she saw through an open door, a half dozen just lying there on a bed of sand. They were a little big, slightly grey in colour, but not far from the norm. They would do nicely.

What the embassy staff would later find out, after quite a deal of consternation, is that common sense didn’t always cross species boundaries, things that every Tel’krit child knew like red lines should never be crossed, or how doors left open signify something inside that owner wants to display but certainly not take.

Most importantly, however, they found that while Sandra had been learning Kritian for some weeks she still had a lot to go and, for example, did not know the prominent sign on the door she entered said “nursery”.

The memory of White

The man was old,  his body shriveled by years of hard work, his skin the colour of leather from too much time under the harsh sun. He stood on a the porch of his modest home, surrounded by the parched dust of what had once been his garden.

“Yo recuerdo los cumbres blancos de la cordillera.” I remember the white peaks of the mountains, he said, “Yo recuerdo los como el pelo blanco de mi abuela” I remember them like the white hair of my grandmother.

He pointed to the mountains in the distance, the grey of the rock, shaded blue by the haze. “Yo recuerdo el nieve, y el agua corriendo por todo el año” I remember the snow, and the water running all year. He looked at the dry pit that had once been a canal, “Yo recuerdo una tierra verde, una tierra llenado con vida, flores, arboles, mariposas.” I remember a green land, a land filled with life, flowers, trees, butterflies.

“What happened?” ¿Que occurido? I asked him. His greying eyes watered up and his voice crackled with dry emotion.

“Mi madre me dijo que lo estaba ira de Dios” My mother told me it was God’s wrath, he said, “Construyamos ciudades demasiado grande, suciamos el aire y el agua. Dios no pudo permitir el nieve blanco puro en un mundo malo. Tampoco aqua puro.” We built cities too big, we polluted the air and the water. God could not all pure white snow in a dirty world. Pure water neither.

“How did you survive?” ¿Como sobreviviste?

“Trabajo duro. Vida dura. Mucho muerto en mi pueblo. Perdi muchos amigos.” Hard work, Hard life. Many dead in my town. I lost many friends. There was a tear in his eye. “Perdimos mucho, perdimos todo, cuando perdimos el blanco en las montañas.” We lost a lot, we lost everything when we lost the snow on the mountains.

He grabbed my arm with his hand, a grip stronger than his frame suggested. “Recuerda nuestra historia.” Recuerda nuestra avisa.” Remember our story. Remember our warning.  

“Si tengas blanco nieve en tu pais. guardalo, protegelo. Los cumbres blancos salvarán tu pais.” If you have white snow in your country. Guard it, protect it. The white summits will save your country. 

“Nunca les permitas morir.” Never let them die.