Working Title: Shoot for Earth: MedSci Missions 3
This Book Is In Development
A ship of specialists sent on a mission to cure Earth of an alien pandemic must work with new far-out friends to find a solution that can give humans the shot in the arm they need.
The human brain is amazing, puzzling, and challenging. It can dream and disorient us, and it can confound others. Everyone dreams. Research continues into the mysteries of their powers. However, the thought processes that make us relate to others in certain ways get us labelled as one personality or another. We’re born with a personality, and though we can learn to modify it, we can’t change it. Should we have to change a personality to suit others – or is it up to everyone to accept and deal with even the more challenging types? I think we should at least understand the generally frowned on ones such as the psychopathy. Criminal behaviour such as Roed exhibited can be considered a choice, but how much should society accommodate the natural tendencies that go along with different personalities? A little tolerance of mad minds could bring some interesting, new ways of solving humanities problems – or we could all go mad trying to deal with it all.
Athletes, musicians, business people and others have experienced the horror here on Earth of imprisonment in a foreign land. Sometimes they’ve been guilty of crimes that are minor or not crimes at all in their own lands. Sometimes they’re not guilty of anything at all. The feelings of isolation and uncertainty must be tenfold if you travel to an alien planet to make friends and find yourself confined by them for reasons you can’t understand. Decisions must be made that walk just the right line between obtaining freedom and maintaining good relations. On Earth we have all kind of tricks like prisoner exchanges, legal fenagling, and engineered escapes using extrapolated intelligence. Procedures are in place, and known around the world. On a new planet in the depth of space, procedures are very unknown. Imagine what it must be like to forge a truly new path to get to the door; if you even knew what a door looked like!
It’s so much fun to adventure on a planet far, far away. There’s nothing like exploring someone’s home to help you understand who they really are. When I was twelve I discovered many new worlds by poring through stacks of Star Trek episodes in James Blish’s TV episode adaptations. Reading every episode before seeing them forever coloured my interpretations of that adventurous universe. To me, everything is a bit richer when read than watched. I was so enthralled that my imagination spoke to me of them, quite literally. Kirk and Spock were speaking in my head, and I started writing it down. Eventually it became clear that it was best to work in my own universe, uncluttered by inconsistencies and mandated parameters. My passion for that universe will never die, but it’s refreshing to visit the vast possibilities beyond.
Would you experiment on yourself if you were doomed to die without answers? Or if you’re not a scientist, which most of us aren’t, would you let doctors put you in a risky trial that was your only chance, but could go very wrong? Troy, like his brother before him, had to wrestle with that dilemma. Someone always has to be the first to take new medicine, or have a new procedure. Without the dreamers and hopefuls, how would medicine progress?
Our world is full of diversity, but imagine a multitude of planets in the picture. The differences between humans become trivial compared to all the possible forms of sentient beings. It’s a nice reminder of how unimportant different shades of skin, textures of hair, or minor variance of features really are. For the sake of fun fiction, I try to choose interesting, dangerous, or amusingly troublesome traits for aliens. From a human perspective, that is. For each opinion we have of a difference, the other being has one right back. It’s all a matter of perspective. To someone out there, we’re probably puzzling, toxic to touch, or just plain stinky.
Basic human nature hasn’t changed for thousands of years, and is unlikely to change in the next thousand. The dog-eat-dog realities of survival and natural selection favor a certain amount of selfishness and aggressions; and theft. Thus, the suitability of mixing in a bit of crime-solving mystery into a science fiction space adventure set in 2066. The side query aboard the medical research ship Chiron tasked with curing an alien pandemic asks who is behind the mysterious hands that flit about the ship doing unauthorized experiments and snitching supplies?
Whether it’s a VR visor or an on-screen roll playing game or imagined second life via avatar, the people of Earth are spending more and more time in fantasy lands. It can be great for a temporary distraction during a stressful medical procedure or similar scenarios, but are we spending so much time in make-believe land that we forget to live? Are people neglecting to get together for an evening of cards or board games in which there is chat and hosting in a real, new environment? I wonder if the ability to brainstorm things to do, and actually get real things done is being lost. Before all the gaming, imagination was needed to find something to do in spare time. Building a fort, painting, gathering neighbours for Red Rover or Jail, or for adults, poker or charades … conversation always slips in, based on reality, and interesting discussion lead to action on charities and community events. The reality has been lost entirely from virtual reality. People can forget there is one. They learn to live only for themselves, or worse, for their imagined self.
Having just watched Top Gun mark 2, I noticed similar tropes to what I wrote in book two, Ripped Genes: The hero taking off on a heroic mission against orders, risking it all. Faked static. Darn, it’s been done before, and will be done again. They say there are no new ideas, just new ways of presenting them. Thankfully, each time something old is used, it’s new again. Each character, plot, and set of emotional circumstances is refreshingly different. This excerpt of the coming book three, Shoot for Earth fleshes out Woon’s tale of what happened with his alien adventure, from his point of view instead of the Captain’s view we saw in Ripped Genes. The narrative style here is different from most of the novel, using Woon’s personal way of thinking. So if you find the Asian cooking theme overdone you can blame Woon Takahashi, not me! With this being a pre-publication excerpt, there’s still a chance to change it. Feel free to have your say. You can find a list of places to do so on the “Comment” page of the MedSci Missions website. All input is welcome. Or simply enjoy this twist on things.
If you were banished from your spaceship to work on an alien planet, would you be brave enough to pop out a weapon to help a police chase? Or perhaps foolish enough? How strange it must be to suddenly live and work on an alien world, with new alien friends and colleagues – but it’s also the adventure of a lifetime! It excites the imagination to wonder about the daily life and adventures. No longer a guest, a visitor sailing by on a ship, but an integral part of a completely different society. That’s what science fiction adventures are all about; discovering and embracing the differences. What they will be in this case is still in discovery, so it’s exciting for me as they pop out of the pen, so to speak.
That is the question Captain Walsh hopes to get an answer to. The world of artificial organs and limbs has such potential I believe one day we will not longer have people who feel handicapped. Instead they will be enhanced humans. Some might be squeamish, though at the thought of trading in for artificial. There’s something about the real, original organic that we love. Why buy a perfect silk rose infused with scent that will never wilt or fade, when you can pick the real thing? The artificial one is superior, but is it as desirable? Why do we covet real, natural, and organic even when it’s inferior? Perhaps attitudes will change over time as the technology moves. Perhaps we’ll have to discourage people from trading in organic eyes for cybernetic ones. Remember what the bionic man could do? In any case, despite Walsh’s decision, he’s in for a surprise when he wakes up!
Out in space, the crew of Chiron need special force field generators to pull them to the deck. Finding a force that makes them fly is all too easy. Add in an engine that’s risky to use, and we’ve got a ship load of trouble!
There’s a fun term, ‘shipping’ created by fans, which reinforces what every writer is told: whether or not you have people driving a ship, they certainly drive the story. In this snippet, I chose to recap some character drama from book two, Ripped Genes, by having a main character, Woon, tell the tale of an adventure that took place during the timeframe of book two. I decided to tell only the result of the mission in book two in order to keep the flow of the main plot cleaner and have something to tell later to get readers back into the adventure. Enjoy!
It’s unfortunate that scientific freedom is only science fiction. All my life I’ve listened to the frustration of family and friends as they push to do basic research that could enlighten the world. I briefly experienced it; listing materials I would need and justifying my intended project for an upper year microbiology class. Then the search for sources while on Christmas break. I was lucky that family were trying to set me up with a young scientist at their work place. I got back from hunting and told my grandma excitedly, “He gave me some sewage!” My grandma thought it was hilarious, but I was glad to have procured a good sample for my test of where different species of bacteria were found. I sympathize with the struggle for supplies. Hence, in my fictional world, I imagined scientists set free from paperwork and hassles, and able to just dream up new possibilities. Kind of like writing science fiction, only for real. Too bad it only happens on alien worlds.
Debates fly about whether countries not involved in a vicious war should step in with physical force to stop atrocities. Interventions might succeed, but at a cost of outside soldiers and equipment. There might be a net decrease in loss of soldier lives, so if you’re not one of the sacrificed soldiers’ loved ones, it seems the best of the bad options. The question gets more complicated if one or more of the enemies involved in a conflict has an unknown or unpredictable psyche. Aliens encountered in fiction, or a human megalomaniac or psychopath in charge of a dictatorship can change the danger level. Armed intervention might start out successful, but then the unknown element, being of alien or unknown psyche, might behave in a horrific manner. If they see that they will lose, they might throw out all the rules. The rules are for humans who have agreed to them, and will follow them. An unknown might, for example, send off the equivalent of nuclear bombs to wreak as much havoc as possible to appease rage. Aliens might have different rules entirely, so the danger of getting involved, or even of simply offering aid to injured individuals is a risk. Hopefully one worth taking!
Mission specialists on revolutionary research hospital ship Chiron seek a cure for Earth’s remarkably strange alien pandemic. On their way to a distant planet, they must deal with tricky aliens, weird wildlife, and science gone awry. When they follow their map to meet the aliens of Fabar, unimaginable problems arise. Bits of humour are blended into darker matters that must be taken care of on a pulse-pounding planetary adventure to forge relationships with aliens who might have answers Earth needs. How do they deal with the dilemma of clones who shouldn’t be, but are essential for the success of their medical mission? How can they save one who doesn’t want to be saved? *You can fully enjoy this book if you haven’t yet read the origin story, Earth and Beyond: MedSci Missions 1.
Sometimes a little coercion could turn out well. Being forced into a visit with unknown, intimidating beings could bring a whole new world of knowledge and experience. Though fear might grip you at the thought of leaving the known wonders, hazards and horrors or Earth for mysterious ways and weird things, exploration could enrich you in ways you can’t imagine. On the other hand, or paw or craw, a little coercion could turn out very un-well!
Stories abound about abductions by aliens, usually grey with large eyes. Perhaps the tales are true, or perhaps once the ideas got around, everyone’s imaginations were seeded. In any case, have the greys done any real harm? People are returned, albeit with a few creepy memories. Whatever it is they’re doing (or not) doesn’t seem any worse than what we do ourselves to further bio research. As one of too many examples, the horrors of genetic experiments by Nazis are far worse than most descriptions of alien encounters. Even the legitimate medical research by human doctors that follows strict protocols can involve dangerous chemics and invasive procedures, from which the subject might not even benefit. Further, we’re guilty of doing many experiments on so-called lesser species on our planet. If Greys are so far advanced they can travel to Earth, we are analogous to chimps or guinea pigs in comparison to them. So, should we really complain about some discomfort as we further the knowledge of our neighbours from the stars?
The heart of science fiction is, or should be, science; but should the words needed to tell a story that creatively uses real or imagined facts and extrapolations be strung together in an artistic way as well? The term ‘literary’ first brings to mind classes that analyzed grim works full of long descriptions and much human suffering in excruciating detail. In my youth I eschewed literary techniques, like those in my sphere of influence. Over time I came to appreciate many of the elements of the classics I’d studied. I formulate exercises to study them in my local writing group and attempt to incorporate them into my work. Word choice can slip out unconsciously, especially in the first draft, but I’ve seen it’s worthwhile to make a conscious effort to slip in things to read between the line, give food for thought, make an attempt an eloquence. Not all science fiction writers put, or want to put, carefully massaged text with literary techniques such as alliteration, symbolism, allegory. Simply stated action and ideas that stretch science can suffice. Styles differ, but perhaps striving to go beyond pure entertainment, and putting a bit of art in with the science is superior.
An ancient samurai tradition was to commit honourable suicide. For a Japanese historian-turned-defender, it could seem like an easy way out of the doghouse. Woon pushed beyond limits to have a successful mission, but ultimately, disobeying orders brought guilt and shame. Normally an officer being disciplined wouldn’t lead to suicidal thoughts, but when the guilty party was already on the brink from committing unintentional murder in his youth, performing an act ingrained in his culture slipped easily into the mind. Though he didn’t throw the first blow in the fight leading to death, accepting mandatory army service instead of court justice meant he didn’t have a chance to accept judgement for the crime. Thus, the guilt lives on. Will he?
As we engage in war, so must we repair the havoc wreaked by it. One vital element of the horrific cycle of destruction and reconstruction is emergency surgery. On a spaceship in the future, the surgeon will have technical advantages over today’s practitioners, but also additional challenges. As I studied bio-sci at Guelph U, I developed a close friendship with a vet student in my dorm, with whom I had many fascinating discussions. When not obsessing over the objects of our romantic ambitions, we delved into theology, the meaning of beauty, and of course, medicine. It was pointed out that a veterinarian needs knowledge of incredibly diverse species. To graduate, one must be competent in everything from pet turtles to beef cattle. As I set about creating my star surgeon for this series, I realized vet studies would make him an ideal candidate for dealing with aliens. In the after-battles the surgeons fight, he must be ready to make instant decisions to enable almost instant action on unfamiliar beings. Extrapolation is a key skill for the future war surgeons of space, as I imagine them. Perhaps one day we’ll find out if I’m right.
The past never leaves us. All our traumas come back to haunt us, in dreams or living nightmares. Training drilled into us is so entwined into our nerves that the screws pushed into place pop out whenever need arises, but reset as we sleep for the rest of our healthy days. Captain Walsh, like many on Earth, was involved in combatting the alien robot occupation that eventually led to war. Unfortunately, battles tend to stick in brains, bringing forth memories and reactions at awkward times. On a more positive note, years of learning how to save lives never leaves the soul. Dr. Heather McTavish might not practice by choice, but a first officer who can double as a doctor is a valuable resource indeed. Past skills that arise in times of need didn’t happen by accident on Chiron. Ambassador O’Bien scoured Earth for multi-talented individuals. When people resources are limited to 199, finding those who were once another can essentially double the personnel count!
Trust is vital in any relationship. Does that mean humans would be well advised to reveal what makes us tick? Perhaps trust is a human concept, and doesn’t even apply to aliens. Maybe it’s more important to connect to an alien in any way possible – to show them anything but the door. Though humans feel incomplete without them, set protocols for how to deal with aliens are probably a bad idea. Each being will be different, even within the same species. So perhaps Roed’s seeming naivety really was an innate ability for perceptive judgement. If more meetings were left to logical scientist bent only on learning, perhaps the galaxy would be a better place.
I didn’t think I was a horror writer, but after a reader commented on Online Bookclub that Ripped Genes was macabre, I realized parts of it are indeed intended to shock. Horror isn’t my favourite to read, so it puzzles me that I sometimes like the idea of readers gasping and cringing for a bit. Mostly, I want to convey a sense of wonder, and optimism for the future. Just like in real life, though, there are bumps in the black of night or deep space on the route to happiness or at least success.
In order to bring readers richly developed characters, sometimes you want to flesh them out fully before having them play a cameo, so to speak. That’s when it’s time to let them play their part in the story, and make notes for further adventures with them. The reader can be treated to a depth that comes from time spent on development and imaginings even though they play a small but important roll in a particular story. That was the case here, except it was always the plan to have further stories using the set of characters who take off from the main ship Chiron. Further adventures were initially planned for comic format, but the logistics and expense of that are large (but hopefully not insurmountable). Meanwhile, it’s fun to kick them off so they can have a whole new set of adventures while not distracting from the plot of the novel that introduces them. I hope you enjoy wondering about these Metasapians (mutated humans with odd abilities) as much as I and other dreamers.
Imagine waking to a future world of wonder or horror. Would you have a functional body? How would you live? What a challenge to find a new job, a place for yourself; unless you arranged a home ahead of time, an expensive sounding proposition. What if you didn’t ask to be frozen, and someone messed with your brain? The possibilities are endless. Placement in a drone sounds more practical. One could fly around like an angel, observing, sending and receiving messages. With a solar charged battery, people could flit about like angels with very little cost to themselves or society. Sophie in the story here awakes in outer space after getting infected with an alien infectious DNA strand on Earth. She’s not quite the person she was, though.…
That is the question. If you see a button, do you have the urge to push it? I’m betting most of us do. Whether it’s red, green, or indefinable, its very presence is a mystery waiting to be solved. People famously can’t help touching fresh paint when there’s a large sign declaring it as such. Perhaps it’s a reluctance to take someone else’s word for something. Maybe the paint was fresh when the sign was put up, but now it’s not. There’s only one way to find out; or so we tell ourselves, when faced with it. So if you were on an alien planet and a button presented itself, would you push it?
If you were setting off for a long trip into space, would you take your cat? For all the reasons we have them in our homes on Earth, I’d recommend it, though only if a positive environment could be provided. If you lost the cat, though, would you clone it? Grow a new kitten using an incubator? How about throwing in some genetic modification? Perhaps you would get a GMO whether you wanted to or not. A unique feline that could be the start of a new line in a colony; or if the changes were deemed dangerous, it could be neutered or left as the sole member of its species. The feline on spaceship Chiron will eventually force the humans to answer some of those questions. Whether or not it should exist, it does, and it wants its cuddling! Once created, the methodology of its conception is moot. Its humans are morally obliged to embrace its oddities and consider letting the species evolve to a point no felines have gone to before.
Whether you’re wanting to laugh away the disasters and wars of the world, or the pressures of completing a mission in space to save lives, laughter is restorative medicine. The metaphorical Martians wreaking havoc on Earth definitely aren’t funny, but humour has been used to alleviate stress for centuries. It makes sense it would still be used in futuristic medicine and a space faring medical research vessel. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a comedy spiel script, and the perfect place came along in this novel. It was fun to gather family quips and jokes, and miscellaneous thoughts to put together a psychiatrist's side hobby therapy effort. Hopefully it lightens the mood for readers and lifts a bit of the weight of the world.
It’s human nature to fight, but why don’t we all fight to save nature? Instead of mining brimstone and sending it forth to others, we could put all that hostile energy into joining forces against the almost biblical fires, storms, and floods wreaking havoc on all our lands. Only then will we have the future many of us dream of in science fiction space adventures. What might that future look like? There will be beauty, but unknown dangers aplenty. Perhaps by then we will have learned how to work with galactic friends to battle weird anomalies. Conflict with others, be they human or alien, is inevitable, but not insurmountable. With inventive minds, technology could be our savior. The device used to help Captain Rod is a system to collect the ambient energy floating around in space. That clever bit of engineering means the spaceship will seldom run out of energy. Along with labs that grow mean, and efficient hydroponics, living in space circa 2066 can have a low footprint indeed. That leaves energy to share resources in the fight against natural disasters. Humans get aggressive when there isn’t enough to go around, whether it be land, food, love, or anything else. With technology and all of space to explore, the problem is pretty much moot!
With Russia rushing into Ukraine, and China buying the world a bit at a time, one has to wonder what the world will look like in forty years. Time and time again, groups try to change the rest of the world to their way of thinking, or grab land for living or income. Why don’t they realise diversity and independence develop many more possibilities for solving problems? It seems that evolution has forced domination for survival, and now that we’re supposedly civilized, we’ve been unable to get away from that mindset. I imagine a future under a world banner tuned to the wants of the world, not to the desires of dictators. How that all happens, exactly, might make a full novel some day. For now, the concepts bring us to a different future. Would beings on other planets really be bent on invading Earth and dominating it? That’s a common theme in much science fiction, but would they really think like humans? As with humans, there would probably be individuals and groups breaking away from the norms of their society. Thus, it’s possible, to play future aliens as friendly, yet, feature bang-up action now and then. I have hopes for peace despite the rush in wars, so while exciting fiction frees the mind, my characters don’t rush into it!
I was surprised when a reviewer said my Sci-Fi Medical Thriller was macabre – then I remembered a scene in it that definitely is. I started wondering at the wisdom of mixing macabre into what is mostly an adventurous story of discovery with a goal of curing an alien pandemic. I’ll admit I had a lot of fun going gruesome on illicit surgery. Subsequently, though, I got as much satisfaction finding a character in a tight spot, literally, and being able to laugh it up a bit. Perhaps it’s marketing madness to insert such a wide spectrum of moods, but with characters having different personalities and agendas, some proper, some personal, that’s the way they wrote themselves. I’m not alone in mixing a dash of macabre into medical mystery. I grew up reading Robin Cook’s Medical Thrillers, along with stacks of Star Trek and an eclectic string of other stories. Cook’s macabre descriptions of warehoused bodies in Coma planted seeds somewhere within the folds of my grey matter, and once sprouted, slowly wound their way into what I was creating. Exactly how the firing of neurons creates fiction is a topic for science, which I used to dabble in. All I can say as a writer of fictionalized science is that mixing in macabre felt morbidly right.
Lava is deadly and dangerous, there’s no doubt about that – but recent studies show the Earth’s core is cooling quickly. In my novel Ripped Genes an organism digs deep to pull lava from the core to use as a weapon. On Earth, lava naturally erupts and burns everything in its path. However, in only two or three billion years, that’s likely to change. Every time a volcano erupts with a spectacular release of heat onto the surface, or an alien sucks lava and spits it out, the core is cooled a bit. Eventually, Earth will turn into a barren rock. By that time, I have faith that humans will have found a way to continue. While the author of Sapiens thinks humans will only survive a million years, I’ve noticed that throughout history, we step up to overcome disaster and live on as a race. That’s what it’s all about, this being alive thing – reaching out, exploring, imagining new ways and solutions. Each of us has a role to play in bettering humans or the planet in some way. Solving with science, educating, charming into peace and goodwill…all talents are useful. Earth might be slowly losing its lava, but future generations will find ways to warm hearts, minds, and a home, wherever it might be.
I’ve been having fun with a character temporarily called “Mystery hands.” Starting in book one Earth and Beyond, and continuing in Ripped Genes, there is a series of short scenes in which hands carry out suspicious activities in a lab or medical setting. I look forward to the reveal in book three! Meanwhile, the idea is to personify the hands themselves. Why would I do that? Purely for the mysterious fun. The questions asked by the reader are not just “What is going on,” but also, “Who is doing this?” Since characters are the heart and soul of the MedSci Missions stories, the “who” is as important as “What in the galaxy is going on?” The hint I’ll give is that the hands belong to a character known to the reader. As for the science, I can’t say too much without giving away one of the long-term plot threads. I can say that BinDNA is described at the beginning of Ripped Genes as “bound DNA.” That means the alien infectious DNA has a chemical additive that binds up portions of the single-stranded alien DNA so it can’t pair up with human DNA and infect people. Thus, the BinDNA is safe to use in the lab as the scientists try to solve the big mystery, Earth’s pandemic.
You might wonder about my use of sound-alike swear words. Why would I do that? I personally hate having the F-bomb thrown everywhere; I suppose because I grew up hearing it only from school yard ruffians. More importantly, I wanted to make the series family-friendly like original Star Trek was. It really bothers me to hear curses in newer series that don’t fit into the Trek Universe because of the language. Not only does it limit the audience, but it makes a lack of consistency. Also, it’s just plain fun to make up new expressions. Why would future phrases be all the same as crude or religious or planet-bound ones we use today? I chose to explain the prevalence of expressions such as “sucking black holes” as being popularized by a 50’s holo-vid. (a 2050’s “tv show.”) Otherwise, it would be unlikely that people would speak galactically before they had deep space travel available to them. It’s only halfway through book one that a theoretical, dangerous Quantum Displacement Drive is built for a quest to cure an alien pandemic; so the additional fiction enabled the out of this world expletives I wanted for a space series. Why not stay clean and get creative instead of offending portions of the population?
Fantasy and Science fiction are two quite different genres. While both fall under speculative fiction, and both need rules to follow, fantasy can fully leap into the imaginary. Sci-Fi, though, must (or should!) be a logical extrapolation of real science. While Woon doesn’t know much about his foe at this juncture, I can give you some enrichment; the beast does indeed “breathe fire,” using lungs near the shoulders like the humanoid Fabaris have. However, it’s due to an exothermic reaction involving burning his saliva. For ignition, Slatas must depend on energy stored in an organic battery from solar energy-collecting scales. The tongue and tunnels are coated in a material similar to asbestos. Another genre blend here is martial arts. The Zap suit referred to is for hand-fighting with electrified body parts. As a teen, I didn’t know when I read a book on karate techniques that by the time I was in my thirties I’d have a couple of black belts. I signed up to encourage our son when my husband got a bad back. Blending genres can expand and enrich a story. I love fantasy books, games, and creatures. I love karate and well done fight scenes. With solid science available to explain those elements, why not slip them into my science fiction?
A change from fall to winter means a drastic switch in my lifestyle; from working the earth to full writing mode. With the advent of crunchy crystals on frozen plant stalks, I look away. I turn inward and create my own reality, which I work hard to share with all of you; imagining, drafting, and massaging text for others to enjoy as flakes fall mostly unnoticed. With so much dark in the day, my work hours get wonky. Day or night, snow or sleet, it doesn’t matter – my world is now coming from inside. In the real world, nature is the one in control, but writing gives one that same power. The weather is whatever you make it. In my novels, old Joe is the one with that power. Is he a lowly maintenance man, or a god? Does he revel in the power or is it a chore he churns out? Considering he stand silently in the centre of his creations you might conclude the former; or is he just taking a “smoke break?” Enjoy imagining taking control of the environment, and turning frigid to sunny in a blink. Most of us can’t fiddle with physics, but in our own minds we control all. You can think away cold thoughts and be sunny.
I had a lot of fun with this cloned musician character. Don’t ask me who it is, legally it’s no one in real history. I’m a fan of many musicians, and have eclectic tastes, so really he’s a compilation of characteristics that famous performers tend to have in common. The challenge for Ramone is to overcome trauma induced by aliens, which leads him to unearth a buried talent. He finds himself in trouble, but through counselling and music gets on the right track (figuratively and literally). His genetic makeup has been hidden from him so he won’t feel pressure to become a famous icon. A personal journey of discovery leads him to his own path as he carries on vital genetics research for the ship’s mission to cure an alien pandemic. Through Ramone’s growing musical proficiency, crew and specialists on board get a bit carried away with partying in the karaoke bar, and measures have to be taken to keep the normally studious scientists on track. Not as bad as spores up Spock’s nose, but you get the idea. Should cloning of sentient beings be allowed? That becomes an important question to the mission specialists and the aliens of Fbar as they start what will be a lasting friendship.
This opening scene snippet introduces the aliens the mission specialists of Chiron get to know intimately over time. The Fabaris are humanoid, with two main races that evolved separately, like Neanderthal vs Homo Sapiens, and at least one slightly different island race. The eyes do some dramatic things, and humans can easily learn to interpret moods and expressions. The Fabaris sport a prehensile tail with two fingers and an opposing thumb at the end. Photosynthetic strands in varying percentages streak through hair falling from the tops of their heads, giving shiny green highlights in most. Fifty percent streaking is average. The skin is pale gold, smooth, and soft looking. The tail is able to swing in any direction, wrap completely around another Fabaris, and squeeze or pull. The tail can bend around a corner to allow the digits to grasp something. The tail can also loop around a pole or branch and hold firm long enough for them to hang comfortably for an hour or so, depending on their fitness level. The photosynthetic strands provide energy directly to the brain – for that reason, Fabaris hair is usually kept as long as possible on both males and females. I look forward to developing these exciting aliens more as book three moves along.
Perseverance is power. A novelist needs it for pushing an idea into a completed project. The same is true for scientific breakthroughs. They’re not magic. It takes many hours of patient pipetting. Dr. Weinz heroically carried on through coughing out in deep space, trying to come up with a cure. Creative brainwork is the only thing that can solve Earth’s fictional pandemic – no amount of blasting aliens can do it (though some of that has to happen as well). In the real world the superpower of science is more important now than it’s ever been. So much so that I feel stabs of regret that I set my grey matter to things that don’t matter. Fictional problems. Why didn’t I persevere in real science like many of my relatives and friends? Too much imagination, I think. A text book problem sparking a run of what ifs in my mind makes for slow reading. Fiction, though sparks many minds, drives people in directions. Perhaps there is a purpose to it. There's certainly passion!
I swear I wrote about this horrible, world-wide "Pandora" pandemic before COVID-19 was in the picture. For a long while I stopped promoting book one while I waited for the real suffering to end...it hasn't happened yet, so with apologies I'm continuing with the series as planned. Here, at the beginning of book two, "Ripped Genes," I pick up where "Earth and Beyond" ended. The Pandora isn't a normal virus or bacterium. It's an alien infectious DNA strand; simply a strand that can only travel if it gets protectively wrapped in mucous, as in a sneeze. I enjoyed opening with mysterious science, like I love reading in Robin Cook medical thrillers, from "Coma" and beyond. Then I take it out into space like my beloved space adventure series such as (of course) Star Trek. As you will see, the set up in these books is a fresh take, and don't worry, after book three there is a wrap (of some kind, no spoilers!) on the Pandora long-term plot thread, and other adventures are open for exploring. Enjoy!
A utopian future is disrupted by the arrival of mysterious aliens. After a bizarre robot occupation and all-out war, humanity is threatened by an alien mutagen. Headed by clever Ambassador Karen O’Bien, the world’s top scientists must venture into deep space on a pulse-pounding medical mission to cure the pandemic sweeping the Earth.
Seeing small sprouts packed with nutrition emerge from bare soil gives me a feeling of peace and security. If the trucks stopped rolling at least there would be that. In the past, it was vital to grow food locally. Later, ships brought spices from far lands. Then came the age of luxury for those living in the right locations. Gleefully, people left the toil of the fields as convenience food was delivered daily. Food production turned from each household’s manure fed crops to massive fields enriched with chemical fertilizers. Food aplenty for the fortunate came with a cost. Today with droughts, floods, fires, pandemics, and wars around the world, fear has grown about a break-down in the system we’ve grown to depend on. We diligently back up our computer files, perhaps a back up for food is now in order. A great back up for food can be the back yard. In the future, on Earth or a spaceship, an efficient hydroponic garden might be essential back up to recycling and synthesizing. Maintaining the ability to grow food the old-fashioned way from seeds brings more benefits than just security. It can also bring a place of beauty and restoration for bodies and minds. In the future, producing food from emptiness will be a vital present to the world.
Wherever you are in the world, you can help Ukraine and other countries, regions, and individuals. Every one of us can bombard the world with pleas for peace. What is peace, anyway? What are we asking for? A sense of safety, of being settled and able to reach for happiness is what we seek for all. It’s not simple to achieve. When you walk into nature on a sunny day and hear only the chirp of birds and gentle rustle of leave, it’s easy to think there is peace. It’s a personal peace, however, not brought to the rabbit hiding in a hole waiting for you to leave so he can get back to lunch. Perhaps following a path is a compromise giving both rabbit and human some freedom and security. A sense of peace for Putin would be knowing he has successfully invaded Ukraine, and he has power over them. His personal peace means agony for others. Let’s find compromises, follow a path that brings some peace for others as well as ourselves. Look for the lurking dangers, the insidious disintegration of structure. Ask yourself what real action you can ask of others and yourself to help bring that peace, then put it out there. The cumulative effects of the personal peace that will bring will better the bombs.
What is freedom? The carefree feeling of walking down a street safely because people are not free to attack you? Running your own business so you have no boss telling you what to do?—but wait, you actually have a million bosses, called customers. Does individual freedom depend on someone else not being free? We’re free to hike in the wilderness—or are we? In order to do so, we have to buy land or pay a park fee, or pay taxes for keeping the land “free.” Then we have to strap on a pack with water and bear spray, then slather bug repellant. Is anyone in the world ever free? Let’s say someone chose to do none of those preparatory steps. Woo hoo, freedom! Just roll out of bed and take off through the woods. Oops, brush so dense you can’t go where you had wanted. Now having to wave arms madly to chase bugs, then finally, climbing a tree and remaining there stuck, as a bear waits below. Ain’t freedom wonderful? Will there be more or less freedom around the world in 2066 when mission specialists must search space to cure an alien infection? With a world government in place, formed by hackers in an eVoices revolution, does the future de facto belong to the individual?
No, I’m not talking about breakfast cereal, though as a teen I did get laughed at by a whole class for admitting I ate it. “Here comes Lucky Charms,” they said ever after. Despite that nick-name, I’m not one of those lucky charmers. I have my moments, but more usually I’m asked by someone “Why didn’t you say hi? You walked right by me!” I apologise sincerely and try to explain I live inside my head a lot, and forget to notice what’s outside of it. I do have something people like. All my life perfect strangers have complimented my hair. Don’t ask me what colour it is – it’s been called red, blond, strawberry blond, cherry blond, copper, gold, titian, and even pink, though the guy was a little drunk at the time. A charmer would find something appropriate to say back and make a connection. I manage a smile and a thankyou. I chose to make a central character of my MedSci Missions series charming. We need charming people – they become politicians, moderators, and caregivers; or get hired as the Ambassador heading up a mission in space to cure an alien pandemic. I’m not saying I’d trade the characteristics that make me uniquely me, but a lot of things are easier for those lucky charmers.
The Ambassador who leads the mission to cure an alien pandemic on Earth found a normal grocery shopping trip more dangerous than expected. Unfortunately, with a real pandemic raging on Earth, we all have hazardous grocery trips. There’s no stopping anyone from going. We can outlaw theaters, but grocery stores are today’s hunting ground for food; we need to go to survive. Hence, anyone in a city who has the virus in them or on them traipses through. Luckily, we can minimize the risks. Like in past post apocalyptic movies, everyone has to mask up, sanitize, and keep their distance. It really hits you that we’re living the movie when somewhere as normal, bright, and delicious as the cake aisle looks like an infectious disease ward. It’s still a bit shocking to think of, with the worst continual danger of my formative years being a cold war that was easy to ignore with some good music blasting. I feel bad for the youth of today stripped of carefree partying. At least they can group like bandits in the grocery store for ad hoc conflabs. Perhaps some will discover the pleasures of a quiet night with a good book. With caution, not all trips to the store have to lead to the hospital like my unlucky Ambassador’s did.
Whether it be thundering live theater, gripping videos, or a great book, using entertainment to distract and refresh is an age-old coping mechanism for daily distress, and disasters. Kings of old hired court jesters to lend levity to their demanding lives, understanding intuitively that everyone needs a break. Something to lift the spirits, take you away from it all. The designers of medical ship Chiron understood that. A generous rec hall, sports facilities, and even a sim swim pool were included in the hugely expensive vessel encompassing Earth’s hope for a brighter future. No expense was spared in enticing the world’s best medical scientists away from secure, well-paid jobs on Earth. While the crew sweat to run the dangerous Quantum Displacement Drive and ship’s systems, the mission specialists can take a breather on the basketball court, or let loose with some karaoke. Leaving the day to day worrying to the Captain’s people lets those who have to cure Earth’s pandemic focus on their research. A few minutes of fun has regenerative powers to refuel their powerful minds. The same is true for all of us. Let the fun flow; allow it to wash away reality, so our minds will have the energy to make it better.
Evolution is slow. Why not help it? My character got into a bit of trouble being distracted by glowing enhancements in this excerpt, but the possibilities for genuinely useful improvements are endless. Even when enhancements are used for aesthetics, it saves on world resources. Many people feel the need to coat their skin in creams and colors that have to be created. Perfumes and powders are packed and shipped worldwide, and much time is spent daily on applying them artistically to maximize perceived desirability. Instead, if people require these kinds of additions to themselves in order to bolster confidence, why not do a one-time installation of a smart system that automatically presents a person the way they want? Beyond that, think of hearing aids that don’t fall out, glasses that don’t fall off or need continual washing and application, embedded antimicrobials to save on wash water. Mind you, it’s likely that adding android bits to bodies actually makes human evolution even slower. If people aren’t selected against bad eyes, more are born with them; but does it matter? If we have modern methods that skirt around natural selection I’d say it’s a plus. We need not cry over split milk genes, we just go get a nanode replacement.
In this novel I wrote before we had a real pandemic to deal with, a literally far-out solution is sought. It seemed like fun fiction at the time. Don’t worry, it’s still fun fiction, but I’m afraid the chances of us really finding a cure in deep space is somewhat remote. So, while you might not get ideas for how to go about your pandemic research on these pages, there’s still a lot of interesting science to contemplate; and of course, alien obstacles to overcome and battle to win. So why did I choose to cause a pandemic? People need an incentive to do anything that’s really expensive, especially if it’s also dangerous. An infectious DNA strand that affects a random Pandora’s box of organs or tissues serves that purpose. Hence, there was finally a motive for taking a serious look at a bizarre Quantum Displacement Drive proposal from one of my main characters. Unlike COVID, my Pandora pandemic also came from space, so it’s the logical place to look for a solution. An infectious DNA strand is not like the virus we have running rampant. There’s no viral casing, just DNA flying about. It’s a real thing you can explore, but if microbes aren’t your madness you can skim past it to get to the juicy action. Enjoy!
Friends and family are in floods; forests have been decimated by fires; a world-wide pandemic won’t give up its grip. Is it time to dam up the flow of disasters and have a little fun, at least for a nice long weekend? For those of us who aren’t in the thick of building new dykes or giving shots, maybe it’s time to party it up so we can come back refreshed and imagine a future with fun. Before med-ship Chiron underwent the dangerous Quantum Displacement to send mission specialist on their quest for a cure, they partied. The crew hired to ferry them and keep them safe were suffering the grim tension of preparations, but everyone else was asked to relax and get acquainted. Now, a room full of geeks doesn’t really knows how to party properly, but they tried. Shooting though ramps, tunnels and corners in some 3D pool, live monster shoot-outs you can step into with your team, some BB, karaoke, or old-fashioned cards. Fun! More than just fun, though, partying plays a vital role in our survival. What would be the purpose of humans living without enjoyment? How would we carry on continually cognizant of horrors and suffering? We need a break from it. A video binge, perhaps. Maybe a good book (grin.)
War is horrible, there’s no doubting that – but in the future, it could be less horrible. Today’s excerpt entails repairing dire damage. Jack Henson moves on with his new awesome robo-legs. At a push of a button, they hiss together so he can bounce on them like a powerful pogo stick. Don’t play basketball against him! Due to this horrifying war-past incident Jack is very loyal to his rescuer Captain Walsh. He can be a bit grumpy and stubborn with other members of Chiron’s crew, and even the mission specialists they’ve been hired to serve and protect; but if the Ambassador calls for war action he turns kick-ass robo-Rambo. There’s no way he’d let anyone call him handicapped. In this circ. 2066 story, he’s an enhanced human. Why not make the best of a bad situation? In this future fiction, there are factions who think humans should stay natural, but the transhumanists want to pump us up all they can. The ideologies furtively battle it out while the mission to cure earth of a pandemic plays out. With the advent of the real pandemic, today’s situation is not so different – but I say let’s embrace technology to move forward with enabling the disabled!
Is deep space travel actually possible? Creative consultant BJ Hansen makes it sound so. Is simulating a massless quantum particle in deep space dangerous? Ok, yes, I’m not sure I want to do it, but I’m glad the heroes in my novel do. Whether we humans really deserve to be doing it is another question…I do understand the objections of those who say rocket science causes unjustifiable pollution. We have an urgent need to use our scientific minds to save our own planet. Ultimately, though, I believe humankind will use spacefaring knowledge for good. In fiction it’s exciting to throw in space battles, but in reality, I don’t think real roving has to be that way. Real roving you say? As if I believe we can get around the speed of light problem. Well, more than one real possibility has come up for that. Fictionally, BJ’s engine on board Chiron generates a Quantum Displacement Field within which everything will Displace. In the novels, it’s an inspirational invention by Dr. Markus Røed, (“Red”), considered crazy by others at first, then funded out of desperation. Desperation is the key to pushing ahead in real life, too. History has shown that as a species, we step up as needed to survive and move onward and upward!
I’m a practical person. I accept the cruelties of nature. I eat meat occasionally. I don’t think food hunting is evil – but I long for Disney Zootopia world. We’re so close to being able to manufacture meat in labs, I can (almost) taste it. People have removed themselves from the horrors of nature, with houses and projectile weapons. If a lion manages to maul a human child, it’s all over the news as a horrific event. Yet every day the same lion rips apart fawns and bunnies, and no one bats an eye. It’s natural, people say, innocently not recognizing the selfishness of ‘better them than us’. We must not feed wild animals, or stop them from tearing into each other alive. On the other hand, ages ago we selected out a few wild animals to partner with, and let them evolve into domestic dogs and cats that we get fined or jailed for not looking after and feeding enough. A strange irony. So here in this snippet of origin story for a science fiction space adventure, I’ve dared to dream of a future Earth in which we’re learning to remove other animals from the terror of attacks. Technology and science are the keys to not just our future survival, but just maybe for other species as well.
Sometimes characters, like any other person, can make horrible mistakes – mistakes that can drive depression, horror, and even a desire to end it all. Martial arts are ancient, very real, and very dangerous skills. Ancient samurai and modern soldiers boldly battle as they must, but true bravery is being able to rise above agony, to live with intense regret and move beyond instead of indulging in a quick release. Circumstantial depression can be healed, through skilled treatment, and those in need must seek it out. Those who are witnesses must reach out. Artistry can lead to madness, but the science of the mind, or a deep intuition of it can cure. Woon Takahashi trained to a high level of artistry; built powerful muscles of body and mind. With awards for such, and proof of success, we might expect euphoria – but sometimes winning a battle is not the want. Winning the war takes much more, so he must, join together with shipmates who can direct his talents to play a vital part in a winning team.
Since the characters are the heart and soul of my story, I made a creative decision that I suspected would make marketing a challenge; I wanted to start the main characters, the crew and specialists of spaceship Chiron, off as teens or young adults on Earth. Through their actions and struggles I could show the lead-up to the crisis that saw them speed into space to solve, and let the reader live in real time the back histories that grow each into the adventuring heroes they become. Roed will be the Chief Engineer on board, after inventing the revolutionary Quantum Displacement Drive that enables Earth to venture into deep space. The man, however, and especially the teen, has a challenging personality type. Though he’s a genius on the level of Einstein or Hawking, he’s socially awkward in the extreme, and suffers from some level of autism and more than one disorder, namely narcissism. Walsh is destined to Captain the mission, so learning to deal with Roed is a crucial part of his life experience. Sophie will be on board Chiron as well, but not in a way that you might suspect.
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