Tag: sci-fi

Ever feel like you’re screaming into the wind?

Sometimes (and by that, I mean all the time) I wonder what I’m doing all this for. It’s not like people really care about what I write–and that’s okay… no one cares about what most people write. There’s a reason for that. Two, really. One is time. Most people these days just don’t have enough of it. The second is due to Sturgeon’s Law–80% of everything is crap. People know this instinctively, and budget their time accordingly. They stick to the writers they know and like and are often unwilling to take a chance on anyone new. Hence the reason most sales of new writers go to friends and family, and usually only the one time. Even your friends figure out quickly enough whether or not you’re someone they’re willing to add to their list of “writers”.

With that in mind, I offer a little story here for you to dip your toes into the icy river of my words…

An Illusion of Night

by Clancy Weeks

Everything leaked—the window, three bulkheads, seals, and the port reaction chamber; the worst were Will’s head and Paul’s own abdomen, and the second he plugged with two quick squirts of Heal-It.  There was nothing he could do for Will, and Lena had trapped herself in the airlock.  Next up was the port engine before their universe went boom, but unless he got into an EVA suit soon, it wouldn’t matter.  Paul’s trachea burned with every icy breath, and the ship’s alarm faded with every second; in moments, hard vacuum would reduce it to a vibration he could sense only through his boots.

He ran to the nearest locker and shrugged on the suit, ignoring pre-check protocols.  The collar on the helmet clicked home when he gave it a quarter turn, and air flowed instantly to his aching lungs.  Before he could descend the ladder to the port engine, a fierce rumble vibrated up his boots, through his legs, and into his brain.

“God da—”

***RESET***

“I’m not goin’ in there.”  Will shook his head violently, the white-knuckled grip on his weapon never wavering.  “Why me, anyway?”

Paul eyed him with a frown, then pasted a smile on his face.  “Because you’re the better shot.”  Without waiting for further argument, he opened the hatch and shoved the boy through, dogging it closed behind him.  The kid stared through the porthole with wide eyes, then spun at a sound from the darkened depths of the hold.

One, two, three shots rang out, vibrating the floor plates under Paul’s boots.  There was a short, high-pitched scream, and a bucket of blood splashed over the porthole.  The beast that had once been Lena had just pureed Will, then pressed a leathery snout against the glass and licked it clean.  Paul pointed his weapon, hands shaking, and blew the glass out with a single blast, accomplishing nothing more than enraging the creature.  She bashed the door, and Paul retreated.

Not fast enough.

The metal screamed, and the door popped open like a can of biscuit dough.  She gripped the ragged metal and pushed the door wide; head and body revealed an inch at a time.  Paul fired into her abdomen and head with no effect, and she lunged and seized him around his chest.  She tore the rifle away, taking most of his right arm with it.  He cried out in agony, his vision blurry from pain and rapid blood loss, but clear enough to see her mouth open wide.  Rows and rows of glistening teeth awaited, and he smelled Will’s blood on her hot breath as she—

***RESET***

The upper half of Will’s body exploded in a fountain of gore, bits of bone and brain raining over Paul’s head.  The creature lifted Lena high into the air, its roar of rage shaking the ground, and he shouldered the weapon and prayed this time his aim was true.  He took a deep breath and pulled the—

***PAUSE***

Dr. Jackson lifted his hand from the control panel and rubbed his temple.  The power of the machine humming through every surface faded, then stopped.

“Why did you do that?”  Inspector Janet Hardison stood on the other side of Paul’s body, studying the holo-field over his head.  “We’re close.”

“He’s spiraling, Detective.”  He shifted from rubbing his temple to scratching the five o’clock shadow on his cheek.  “The longer he’s inside, the greater the chance of trapping him in a loop.”

Janet rubbed the side of her nose with a forefinger.  “I think we were close a few iterations back.”  She frowned and furrowed her brow.  “Can you re-run from there?”

“Yes, but—”

“Do it.”  Her tone left no room for argument.

“How long do you plan to continue?”

She sneered.  “The man murdered his wife and son, Doctor.  I want that confession.”

“How long?”

Janet straightened.  “As long as it takes.”

***RESET***

Will’s body lay splayed on the ground, his head a mess of red oatmeal, while Lena screamed under the weight of the bald man with all the tattoos.  A wave of déjà vu washed over Paul as the other bikers struck him over and over with their lead pipes.  How many times had he been here?  A thousand?  Two?

Blood poured from a deep cut on his forehead into his eyes.  They burned and blurred, but he refused to close them.  One leather-faced animal wound up like a major leaguer and—

***RESET***

Superman is NOT of Krypton!

Let’s get this out of the way up front:  I am not a physicist, nor have I made an in-depth study of the subject.  I also am no Superman geek who knows the entire canon.  What I am is a science fiction writer with a better than fair passing knowledge of the character, and someone who was able to successfully explain the ending of Lost to my friends.  That, right there, is qualification enough.

I’ve been thinking about Superman’s various powers over the years and have spent much time arguing with fellow comic book fans over who is the better superhero in the DC universe, The Man of Steel, or Batman.  Setting aside Batman’s obvious mental illness, Superman still comes out on top every time.  “But Batman has beaten him more than once!” they say, as if that matters.

Riddle me this—Why doesn’t Superman just nuke him from orbit?  The reason is obvious—Superman is actively trying not to kill his friend, but Batman has no such compunction.  He fights like a lunatic, and the battle is therefore asymmetrical.  I laugh at those who say Batman doesn’t kill—take a look at decades of comic history for the real story.

So, after settling the issue of greatest (at least in my mind), we come to the meat of the Batfriends’ major complaint—Superman is a god, and therefore is cheating as a superhero.

But, for the first time, I reveal here that Superman is no god.  He doesn’t, in fact, have any powers at all.

What?

For an explanation, we must travel far back in time.

Krypton, by all accounts, was a planet orbiting a Red Giant.  A Red Giant star is very old, at the far end of its lifespan, and by most theories began as a sun much as our own.  At the end of its life, with much of its hydrogen burnt, it feasts on the helium and iron byproducts and swells into a Red Giant and swallows the inner planets as it expands.  What’s left are the gas giants that were once orbiting far outside the habitable zone.  Much of the gas on these planets would be stripped away by the solar wind as the star expanded, leaving a smaller—though still massive—rocky, or even a crystal core.  Krypton is one of these.

A planet such as Krypton might be more than four times Earth’s mass, with a toxic atmosphere and very low surface temperature.  And it was here the “Kryptonians”, already a starfaring race, settled a small community to mine the planet for resources.  These proto-Kryptonians were much like us (let’s just go with that for now) and could never have withstood the gravity or atmosphere, so they altered themselves with nano-technology to give them the ability to live on the planet without the need for environment suits.  The nanites are intelligent enough to give the people whatever abilities are required for each given circumstance and are powered by the radiation from the Red Giant.

Why nanites and not simply altering DNA?  Because the proto-Kryptonians traveled to other planets, and each had their own needs.

At some point in Kryptonian history, they became a separate and distinct colony from their homeworld—far enough removed that they no longer remembered their origins.  It was possibly due to an interstellar war, cutting off the distant colony, and leaving them to fend for themselves.  This might explain their reluctance to leave a dying planet.

Once Kal-El arrived on Earth, our yellow sun—much richer in the radiation spectrum than Krypton’s sun—supercharged the nanites with the energy they needed to endow Superman with his abilities, and even explains his evolving powers over the years.  The machines in his body give him the abilities he needs when he needs them.  It clarifies his ability to stop a falling plane instead of just punching through it—the nanites forcefield emitted to protect him envelops whatever he is trying to stop.  This even explains the effect kryptonite has on him but not humans.  The radiation interferes with the normal functions of the nanites, not his biological systems, and is why he heals so quickly once the kryptonite is removed.

This is why he is the hero he is.  He knows the nanites could fail at any given moment—that he could die at any time without their help—yet he charges head-first into every dangerous situation.  This guy commits, and he does it on pure faith.

Every single so-called plot hole is filled (maybe even Bizzaro) with reliance on the technology we know the Kryptonians possessed.

Deus ex machina, indeed.

Superman may have come from Krypton, but he is not of Krypton.

Mining for books…

So… I had a discussion a while back with a friend who happens to be a genius and a physicist. I made the simple supposition that since Pi is a non-repeating infinite series, we could assign each character necessary for printing a book to a simple three-digit code. My theory is that somewhere in Pi is a long string of digits corresponding to all the recorded knowledge of, well, the whole universe, past, present, and future.

This would, consequently, mean that every book I have ever written, or ever will write, is in there somewhere.

Now here’s my question: if this is true, what does this say about free will? In fact, if I even consider writing a book or story, it’s in there whether I write it or not. What does this say about destiny, or even time’s arrow? Of course, we can’t actually find these strings of numbers, but what if we could? Would knowing what I write ten years from now affect my decision to write it? It might not matter, because there’s room for every story in every style of every author ever born or will be born. That’s the nature of infinity.

We could do this for music, too, finally hearing Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony, or the full catalog of works Mozart would have written had he not died young. Future history books are in there, too, making a mockery of the idea that information can’t travel backward in time.

Also, hidden within Pi are the blueprints for a faster than light engine, or a working matter transporter. Perhaps plans for a super-efficient table-top fusion reactor. Anything you can think of, really.

Yep. These are the kinds of things I think about all day long. The cool part was my friend agreed with all this. I kept hoping he would point out the flaw in my logic, but he couldn’t.

Such is the nature of infinity…

Who the hell am I?

And why should you bother reading my books?

It’s a long and winding road (apologies to the Beatles), beginning when I was nine and wrote a (*ahem*) “novel”, which I immediately mailed out to either DAW or Tor. I wish I’d kept the rejection letter because they obviously knew they were dealing with a very young Sci-Fi fanboy. I wrote little after that, but became a voracious reader, then turned my attention to music. I won’t bore you with the details, but I ended up earning my D.M.A. in Music Ed. and Conducting, also spending my time teaching band for over 20 years. During that time, I also published over three dozen works for wind ensemble and orchestra.

Once I’d decided to do this writing thing full-time, my amazing wife dove into the deep end with me and became our sole support. Scary, right? More for her than me. I’ve published a few shorts–one in Analog–but most of my time belongs to the novels. I just have too many ideas to set them aside while I write a short. I do keep doing them, though, whenever I’ve finished a book, or kicked it out of the nest to fly on its own. I also still write music, having just picked up a commission for a large work. I’ll be damned if I know how I’m gonna shoehorn that into my schedule, but what the hell?

The only Con I hit regularly is Comicpalooza, and only because it’s close to home in Houston. I encourage people to contact me, and not just because writing is a lonely business. But, yeah, that’s some of it.

Looking forward to hearing from a reader or two in the future!

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