Author: Edwin H Rydberg

Alternate Futures

The Light and the Flame

Another NaNoWriMo prep session. A little over an hour this time and 1056 words. Warning, it’s a bit political. (image from Shaun of the Dead)

The Light and the Flame

So far, the disease had cropped up in five different towns, today was the sixth. Like all the other cases, the victims here were mobile but unresponsive. I would have called them zombies, but that would have implied a certain degree of physical degeneration and a notable bloodlust. These people had neither. For all intents and purposes, they appeared completely normal.

Like the other five towns, this one was small, rural, conservative. There was a single main street, more churches than grocery stores and nothing notable had happened in the history of the community.

“That’s all of them, Emma,” Joss said. “Tinytown: total population six-hundred forty three, sixty-five percent zombie. Give or take.”

“Please don’t call them that. It’s hard enough dealing with the media hyperbole without sinking to their level.”

“Sorry. Sixty-five percent unresponsive.”

“Do we know anything else about this place? Is it on a uranium mine? A landfill? Toxic dump?”

“Nothing. A lower level of welfare than average, strong community spirit, heavy church goers.”

“That’s all?” I asked, inputting the information, sparse as it was, into my database. It seem to match the details of the other communities fairly well.

“Well, I found a lot of these,” Joss said with distaste, holding up a now infamous red MAGA cap. “So, maybe they got what they deserved.”

I glared at him. “That’s almost half the country you’re talking about. Even if that is related, I’m not giving up just because they voted different to us.”

He just shrugged.

“Joss, I may not like the guy they voted for, but they’re allowed their opinion.”

Joss was an ideologue — big government, no religion except ones from foreign countries, no hate speech, and diversity, were his rules to live by. I tended to agree, but not to the same degree. Which is to say, I wasn’t willing to punch Nazis just because they were Nazis. A person had to act violent before they deserved a violent response, in my book.

Anyway, as humorous as the idea might be, I doubted politics could turn someone into a zombie.

Small drops of sweat ran down my face inside the biocontainment suit as I struggled to make sense of this illness. The strange part was that usually these kind of things — not that there’d ever been a zombie outbreak, but things like bird flu or ebola — happened in poorer parts of the world where hygiene wasn’t as well developed as in the West. This was the first such outbreak I could think of in modern times that started in an affluent country.

“Here, just look at this garbage!” Joss said, returning to interrupt my train of thought. He flung pamphlets, fliers and books on the diner table.

I picked up a few and read the titles:

  • Say ‘no’ to illegal immigration
  • The truth about international terrorism
  • Walls work
  • Global economics simplified
  • Are Nazis really right wing?
  • Global warming alarmists: what they’re not telling you

“You might as well call this Hatespeechville,” he said. “I’m done. They can wander in their mindless paradise forever, for all I care. Better yet, why don’t we just torch the entire place and them with it?”

“Joss!”

“I mean it, Emma, these people make me sick. I can’t possibly save monsters like this.”

“Call it a day, Joss,” I said noticing that he sun was beginning to set anyway. “I’m sure we’ll feel better once we get out of these suits,” I added, once again struggling to shake a drop of sweat from my eyes.

As he stormed out of the diner, I stood beside the old, but well-padded bench amid what was once probably a classic malt shop and burger joint, and watched the sun fully set.

From the restaurant I could see the edge of town and beyond. It struck me this was a peaceful place. There was no constant bustle of shoppers, no constant honking of cars. There wasn’t even a very good wi-fi signal, so we’d had to rely on a satellite feed from the CDC truck. It was a place where a person could be free to sit and think, without the distractions of modern life, without the incessant attacks of ideologues from one side or another.

Darkness filled the small town, with only the tiny circles of street light as sanctuary. For a moment, I was worried. I’d never been in the dark in a town with wandering outbreak victims before. But as I watched, they seemed no more violent in the dark than in the light. In fact, they even seemed to give off a faint glow themselves. That would be something worth studying tomorrow.

With no evidence of any contagion, and a face dripping in sweat, I removed the helmet of my suit and sat down, trying to figure out what to do next. Idly I flipped open the first flier and began reading.

Contrary to my expectations, it was interesting and informative. There were some valuable points. Did we really want to become a refuge for criminals? If this pamphlet was to be believed, the vast majority of people crossing illegally into the country weren’t destitute refugees as I’d always been taught, but people looking to shortcut the legal immigration process for economic benefit.

Curious, I read another, only to learn that, globally, one belief system accounted for more than 30,000 terrorist attacks in the last year. Something that our own media downplayed because relatively few deaths in our country could be attributed to them.

Already the views I held so dear were developing cracks. Why had no one told me this stuff before?

I read a few more and each one drove into the wall like a sledgehammer until I could finally see a pattern in the half-truths and lies I’d been exposed to my entire life. The emotional haze obscuring my perception fell away and I could suddenly see a path forward. Not just for the country, but for the world. And it made sense. Not just in a vague, emotional way. But in a concrete, numerical, functional way.

The veneer of the world fell away and I stared, wide-eyed at the beauty of what could be.

I lost track of time and space then and was only brought back to reality when the flames of the burning town bit into my skin.

Alternate Futures

Fayre is Fair

Second offering for 2017 NaNoWriMo warm-up. This one feels more like a scene than a short story, but here it is anyway (word count: 1249, time 60 minutes)

Fayre is Fair

“If you leave now, you get nothing.”

It was a statement as much as a threat, the words of a demented psychopath bent on destruction of the city.

The Host she called herself. Middle-aged, lumpy, with potato chip crumbs clinging to a faded blouse that might once have been covered in beautiful flowers. In a former life she would have been unnoticeable among the crowds checking out the latest sales at Wal-Mart. But one extra large bag of radioactive, Poutine-flavoured chips later and she’s a global threat.

“So, what will it be, National Nanny? Do you go home with your winnings, having saved only the financial district, or do you continue to play for the whole city?”

“You sick fiend!” I answered. “How can you play games with people’s lives? And with all your power.”

“Oh shut it, Babysitter Girl. Life’s a game, we either decide to play along with rules we didn’t make, or we check out. There’s no in between. Except for me,” she added, smiling. “Fate has chosen to let me make my own rules. Now stop stalling and tell me what you’ve chosen. Time’s running out.”

She wasn’t lying. The giant hourglass she’d somehow managed to conjure, hung high over a large map of the city that was somehow miniature replica tied to the original. As she’d shown me at the start of the game. The hourglass had landed on the city park, destroying both the map version and real version completely.

“What do you want from me?” I yelled.

“Your answer, please. You’ve go five seconds remaining.

“I have no choice but to play on. I can’t let you kill all those innocents.”

“An excellent choice,” she booms, speaking as if to a large audience. As far as I can tell, however, it’s just the two of us in the converted warehouse.

“Pick your category: Things I ate when I was five; Boys I kissed and left; Tests I cheated on; or Places where I peed my pants.”

“The first one, I guess.” It seemed the safest, if she was somehow sending a video feed of this out live. Although it seemed she already knew everything about me.

“I’m sorry, you have to say the category name and a value.”

I exhaled strongly. This was starting to wear on my nerves. Nevermind the innocents, if I didn’t find a way out of this game soon I’d go crazy.

“Things I ate when I was five for 200, please Host.”

“Much better. In this category, you not only have to name the item, but you have to bring me an edible example.

Well, that would allow me to get out of the warehouse, but I doubt I’d have much time to do anything in the short time she’d give me.

“Your answer is: Behind the neighbour’s shed with Jimmy Green.”

The flashbacks hit me hard and for a moment I was unable to formulate an answer. Jimmy was my first crush and we had numerous times behind sheds and under bleachers as teenagers, before he’d been killed in a car accident. I glared at The Host, knowing she made me relive that horrible memory intentionally, even if the answer she ‘wanted’ was, “What are Jelly Beans?”

“Correct! You have 60 seconds to bring me some.” As she finished, the giant hourglass slowly inverted, starting the sands draining through.

I flew off through the entrance she’d so conveniently left on the far wall for just such occasions. She knew I’d be back, and she knew I wouldn’t attack her or the hourglass/map because I’d already tried that and somehow they were protected by powerful forcefields.

By the way, yes, I fly. Not fast, certainly not like the characters of comics. But fast enough to get to the fairgrounds and back with a bag of jelly beans. As I landed, I threw them at her.

She easily caught them, laughing. “Well done Nanny. Are you ready for your next question?”

“Does that one count?”

She just laughed again. “Well spotted. And no. Pick your category and point value.”

I’d been here far too long to enjoy playing homicidal games with psychopaths. Fortunately, my brief trip had allowed me to formulate a plan. All superpowered crazies are megalomaniacal. They can’t resist hiding something of their ‘true genius’ in their plan and it’s usually the flaw that brings them down. If I was right, I just had to find the question I needed.

“Places Where I peed my pants for 200, please Host.”

“Ooh, excellent. The trick with this category is that once you answer, you’ll have five seconds to clear the map of the building before the hourglass smashes into it, destroying the site.

“Now, the answer: On the mat during sleep time.”

She was truly sick, threatening kids like this. I psyched myself up and planned my path before I said, “Rosewood elementary school.”

“Correct! You have five seconds from… now.”

I raced through the streets of the map as quickly and carefully as I could, uncertain whether errant footfalls could also cause devastation. Meanwhile, I counted down in my head. 5… 4… 3…

I reached the school. The building was up to my knees. Fortunately, my strength was well above normal and I hoisted the map segment up, like a giant puzzle piece in the wrong place, turned, and jumped, narrowly avoiding the falling hourglass.

“Oh, well done,” The Host said, clapping with glee.

I was really getting sick of her.

“Once you return to your post, let me know your next selection.”

A few moments later, I was back and ready to end this. “Places Where I peed my Pants for 1000,” I said.

“We’re going for the big money,” The Host said, but I was only half listening. As far as I could tell, the forcefield generator could only be under the floor, perhaps feeding the energy up through conduits in the wall. It I was right about the next question, I’d have my chance to stop her. But it would require exact timing.

“Here’s your answer: Cotton Candy Carousel.”

“That’s the Fairground,” I answered, muscles tensed to spring.

“Correct, your five seconds are on the clock.”

I sprang into action, rushing to the nearby fairground — the one and same I’d just recently gotten jelly beans from. I feigned struggling with the map component, all the while counting in my head. I had to be precise. 3… 2… 1…

With superhuman strength, I flung the piece out of the way as the hourglass came speeding toward me. I may not be able to destroy it, but I had the feeling I could at least move it.

At the last moment, I side-stepped before giving it a powerful shoulder check. The thing was heavier than I thought, but I managed to move it enough so that it crashed down on the scale model of the warehouse we were in.

“Nooo, what have you done?” The Host cried out.

But it was too late. The hourglass plowed through the floor setting off explosions throughout the building as it destroyed what I assumed was the forcefield generator. The look in her eyes told me she knew what this meant, but I was there faster than she could react. A right to the jaw and she was down for the count.

The superforce would send a clean-up crew now that I could notify them and The Host was off to maximum security prison. No more games for her.

Alternate Futures

Space Surprise

In an attempt to prepare for the impending NaNoWriMo, I’ll be trying to write a short story, inspired by a randomly generated first line, each day. Here is my first one (written in 2 x 25 minutes). It’s rough (no edits!), but I’m happy to hear comments.

Space Surprise

by Edwin H Rydberg

It was the trip of a lifetime, until the sound of the pirates’ grappling hooks fusing against the chitomond alloy shell resonated through the ballroom. What had been an amazing party to end all parties, on an amazing trip to end all trips, suddenly became a panicked free-for-all on what looked like it might really be their final trip. As the terrified shrieks of other guests deafened him as they filled the space inside the ship, Russ L. Freeman grabbed his wife Shaera’s arm and guided her in the opposite direction to the fleeing hordes.

As one might expect, most people were attempting to rush back to their quarters. Most were rich and the reflex to save said riches was undoubtedly overwhelming. In addition, they’d been promised that, ‘in the event of an emergency, your room will double as a lifepod’. That was certainly true, just as it was true of the flotation devices on planetary aircraft. However, in the majority of situations, Russ was certain that he’d take his chance trying to salvage something of the ship, rather than risk freezing waters or pirate infested spaceways.

Especially in pirate-infested spaceways. After all, space was huge. It wasn’t like a rescue ship would appear before the oxygen in the rooms was used up. It wasn’t as if there weren’t dozens of light-years between stops on the cruise. And it wasn’t as if pirates would destroy a perfectly good ship. Even if it wasn’t functional, salvage of this quality was hard to come by in the depths of space. That much was obvious from a glance out the spaceports.

As they sped through the corridors leading back toward the functional parts of the ship — those sections few guests ever visit, such as engineering, propulsion, life-support… the kitchen — Russ noted the view out the various ports they passed. Close to a dozen pirate ships buzzed around their cruiser, like bloodthirsty insects ready to feed. Each ship was small. Tiny even. A one or two seater cobbled together from precisely the salvage they were hoping to score from the cruise ship. Once aboard, they’d disable tracking hardware, then fire up the engines and guide the ship back to whatever pirate port they hailed from. Their own vessels would clamp to the surface like remoras on sharks, refueling off the ambient energy leakage until they were able to divvy up the spoils of their catch, using some to upgrade their ships. Much of the rest would be sold as scrap.

As for the poor, hapless guests in their lifepod rooms? The lucky ones would be captures, robbed, and given the choice to join them. The unlucky ones would drift forever, lost in space oblivious to what had happened after their twelve hours of life-support was exhausted and they gently suffocated before freezing solid. Their corpses would drift the spaceways forever an anonymous, lost testament to the harsh reality of space travel.

Russ was determined that would not be his or Shaera’s fate, so they ran faster through the corridors. Narrow, wide, crawling through Jeffries tubes or sprinting side by side down the passages to the immense galley where robotic assistants delivered food prepared by automated tools, they ran as if their life depended on it. Because it very likely did.

There was only one thing that could stop the pirates from taking this ship. Self-destruction. It they managed to trigger the self-destruct mechanism, it was send a warning to all ships in a four light minute radius. The pirates would scatter because their alternative — being caught in an anti-proton explosion — would result in their ships being vapourized.

It had seem like they’d run forever, but they ran on. Russ began hearing sounds behind him. At first he thought it paranoia, after all, how could the pirates have anticipated their move? They should be taking their time rounding up pods and causually working toward the propulsion systems. But on a long stretch of straight corridor, he caught a glimpse of a radiation-deformed figure hobbling along in pursuit.

“Faster,” he urged on Shaera.

“I’m not sure I can keep going, Russ,” she answered. “We’re near lifesupport, what if I shut down forward decks and try to stall their encroachment?”

She as slowing noticably so, reluctantly, Russ agreed. “Barricade yourself inside and I’ll come for you once they’ve cleared off.”

After a quick kiss, they parted ways and he attempted to make enough noise to draw the attention of the pursuers, giving Shaera every chance of safety and escape.

Finally, he entered Engineering, a heavy metal door clanging shut behind him. The ladders and colour-coded piping that snaked overhead and around, forming walls and ceiling, were a stark contrast to the rich veneer coating the rest of the ship. It almost felt like he had x-ray vision and could see through the walls into their innards.

Shaking himself free of the thought, Russ zig-zagged through the maze of corridors in engineering as he heard the door once again open and close behind him.

“You’re trapped,” a gruff voice yelled from behind him.

He ignored it and continued with his search. He was looking for the command and control of the energy systems. Once there he could trigger and overload. Then, when the pirates had fled, he could safely cancel it and return the ship to the nearest port.

But his search was getting more difficult. Breath was coming shallower now and his vision was blurring. He glanced back, through the piping and caught a glimpse of the pirate wearing an oxygen mask.

Why would he have that on? But his thinking was becoming fuzzy.

Turning another corner, and finally he came to the control computer. But now he could barely see display. The interface looked old, primitive. Damn engineers didn’t like the fancy voice activated stuff or neural interfaces. Always had to build sturdy, archaic, impossible to use operating systems.

He staggered, grabbing hold of a post while trying to focus on the screen.

“Too late,” the gruff voice said from behind him.

He turned to see it wasn’t alone. There was another pirate, along with Shaera!

“If you hurt her, you monsters…,” he let the threat hang in the air.

“Hurt me? You twit, they’re working with me. Why do you think you’re having so much trouble seeing, breathing? I turned off lifesupport in Engineering.”

As she talked, she had the two pirates disconnect the computer system and smash the screen.

“But I was trying to save you, save us.”

“I’m so sick of you always trying to save me. Dragging me here or there on a crazy whim. Do you ever ask my opinion or am I just the helpless doll to you? Did you know there’s an engineering override on the bridge? Your plan would never have worked, but I knew you’d try the most convoluted thing possible. Instead, this entire attack, these pirates, they’re working for me. I hatched this entire plan just to get rid of you. And to get rich, but that was just a fortunate aside to the main plan.”

“But…”

“Good-bye Russ. You were fun for a while, but I’m moving on now. Moving up.” She turned, with the two pirates and headed back to the thick metal door.

“But…”

“Good. Bye. Russ.”

He watch the trio leave, the heavy door clanging shut behind them. Then he slid to the floor and sat there, eye’s staring after them, as the cold slowly took his last breath.

 

 

 

Alternate Futures

Minder Rising by Carol Van Natta

Minder Rising (Central Galactic Concordance, #2)Minder Rising by Carol Van Natta
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Although I gave this 2 stars, there are some very strong positives in this novel. First, the world-building is great and feels detailed and well-developed. Also, the characters feel real and have detailed histories, right down to the relationships with multiple generations of their families. There’s also an interesting mechanic in the various version of psychic powers of the minders. Also, the writing itself is technically well crafted and easy to read. Finally, if you’re interested in such things, there is a strongly diverse cast of characters both racially and sexually.

So, what were the weaknesses?

First, a purely cosmetic issue is the cover. The 70’s disco look gave me the impression of a fun, crazy sci-fi story, which this was not.

Second, I believe this novel is listed in the wrong genre. This story is categorized on Amazon as Science Fiction –> Galactic Empire / Galactic Engineering. This gives the impression of a space opera. However, I would argue both from the events of the first and last chapters, that this is primarily a romance story within a science fiction setting. This idea is further supported by the fact that so much of the story (well over half) is concerned specifically with the budding romance of the main characters.

Finally, ignoring the prologue, there are no plot developments of note until a minor one the 45% point in the story, and then again around the 60%, where the plot finally activates. Other than these points we are treated to well-developed characters chatting with friends and family in a detailed world with virtually no threats worthy of our attention. So, for a science fiction story, I would suggest that the pacing needs reworking, although for a romance it’s probably fine. Personally, I only managed to get through the story because all other aspects were so well written and crafted.

View all my reviews

Alternate Futures

10 Fictional Warnings for Modern Times

“There is a curse.
They say:
May you live in interesting times.”
― Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times

Whether your cancer is Trump’s ‘anti-immigration’ policies or the hypocrisy of Leftist anti-free speech protests, there can be little doubt that we are living in ‘interesting’ times. But these times are not original in their threats.

Here are ten books that are cautionary must-reads for anyone concerned with the modern hyper-polarized West.

“The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they became with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps, it was easier to see something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow.”
Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.”
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.”
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race. But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right. And he stood on the threshold of freedom for which the blood of the centuries behind him had been spilled.”
Ayn Rand, Anthem

“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” ― George Orwell, 1984

“you’re deluding yourself that you have some deep spiritual connection, like you didn’t just read it on Wikipedia. There’s a difference between tradition and culture.”
Lauren Beukes, Moxyland

“If you love freedom, if you think the human condition is dignified by privacy, by the right to be left alone, by the right to explore your weird ideas provided you don’t hurt others, then you have common cause with the kids whose web-browsers and cell phones are being used to lock them up and follow them around.”
Cory Doctorow, Little Brother

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
Aldus Huxley, Brave New World

“There is no final one; revolutions are infinite.”
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We

“A weird time in which we are alive. We can travel anywhere we want, even to other planets. And for what? To sit day after day, declining in morale and hope.”
Phillip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

How many have you read? Which are your favourites and which do you think are most prophetic?

Alternate Futures

What Superpower Would You Choose?

Destiny City, from my new Altered Destiny serial, features superheroes and supervillians with a lot of different powers. Starshyne has flight and energy projection, Black Pariah has heightened reflexes and an alien computer sidekick, Virtue Maroni is an expert marksman and tech genius, Dreadlock is superstrong with limited teleportation, Thixotrope is a futuristic nanite swarm, Neverland Nuance is a fairy, and Rembrad has a cosmic paintbrush that can paint reality, and that’s not even including the heroes that dies in the plague.

With all the vast different types of superpowers that have, and have yet to be, created, which would you choose? And why?

As a kid, my favourite superheroes were The Atom and The Flash. Even now I’d still love to have superspeed. Of course, it’s important to realize that each power is not a single power, but rather a host of powers. Superspeed is an excellent example. What good would superspeed movement be if you couldn’t think fast enough to process what was coming at you? Or if your reflexes weren’t good enough to dodge it? What about surviving the tremendous wind ripping against your body, bluring your vision? And that’s even ignoring the metabolic issues required with generating that much energy (from this, you can easily see the genious in creating the ‘speedforce’ in the flash comics, which solves all these problems).

And there are other issues.

In literature, superpowers fall under the category of magic. And all magic that is interesting to read about has a cost. If it didn’t the user would be a god and could solve all their problems instantly. That would be boring (although it would lead to a discussion of the character’s own flaws, as in Marvel’s Infinity Guantlet series). The most interesting heroes are the ones were forced to give up something important on their path to greatness.

So, considering that, would you still choose that power, and all the good it could do, even if you had to give up what was most important to you?

Starshyne gained cosmic powerbeams and flight, but lost her parents. Adam Johnson has amazing reflexes and an alien computer as a friend, but lost his wife. Even Dr. GrimLaw, supergenious, lost something. It’s easy to say ‘I’d love to have superspeed’, but much harder to accept the power if it comes with loss. So, would you still choose your power, if it came with great loss, or even a Faustian deal?

Would you?

Edwin

Alternate Futures

Free Speech, an Author’s Responsibility

Musical Accompaniment: Should I See by Frozen Ghost

Free speech is nothing without the right to offend. That is the only version of free speech that is actually free and it’s the only version of free speech that does not lead to oppression.

And yet, all over the Western world, we are eroding our free speech in the name of being nice. Or rather, in our desire to legislate our world into being nice by using the carefully named hate speech laws.

Recently, on Twitter, J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series, for anyone who has been living under a rock for the last two decades) appears to have come down on the side of accepting hate speech laws. This, to me, is completely unbelievable. Not only is she an author, someone who makes her living (and has make a very good living) on being allowed to say the words she wants, but her own work has faced attack for it’s content. There have been bannings of the Harry Potter series by devout Christians and Muslims because they believe it promotes witchcraft and Satanism. A good summary can be found on Wikipedia:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_debates_over_the_Harry_Potter_series#Wicca

Unless she’s completely ignored the issue and let her agents deal with it, she is someone who has first hand experience with censorship. And yet, still she advocates government censorship of speech in the guise of hate speech. I find this unbelievable at best and hypocritical at worst. And yet, she’s not alone. A few years ago (2013), the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers Association) erupted in conflict over the cover of an issue of their magazine. It depicted the Conan character Red Sonja besting a beast in a mountainside scene while wearing her iconic chainmail bikini. Claims of sexism and mysogeny were thrown around, despite similar pictures of male characters adorning previous issues. Eventually, many people resigned from the SFWA leadership and steering committees, and many people left the organization altogether. The argument continued for over a year.

I will admit, to someone who wants all peoples to get along and treat each other well, as I do, a hate speech law can, initially, sound appealing. However, what’s important to consider is what happens when the political wind changes direction. When our side is no longer pulling the strings. Suddenly, that well-meaning hate speech law designed to protect the marginalized group of the moment, is being used to oppress anyone the state doesn’t like, and the truth of said law becomes blatently apparent. Your anti-Islamophobia law is now used to attack anti-Christians. Your gender-identity hate-speech law is now used to attack trans-people. Etc.

Hate speech laws, and indeed any laws made by the state against our freedom to speak or express our thoughts and feelings in non-physically violent ways, are tools of force by the state to control the individual. If you take away the ability to criticize, if you take away the right to offend, then you take away the right to independent thought.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Voltaire.

Alternate Futures

Farspace 2

Farspace 2 is a lot darker, more cautionary and less care-free, than Farspace 1. Among others, it features stories about control—by entities that want to harm or protect us, and stories about exploration. Not the happy, “everything is wonderful out there and all will be great if we only go” stories. But rather the “yes it’s dangerous out there, and we can get killed, but we still need to go” stories. Yet, ultimately, Farspace 2 is an anthology of hope and promise for the future, an anthology that urges us to keep moving forward despite the hardships we might find along the way.

Save

Alternate Futures

Assassins’ Canon

Few images evoke a more powerful or frightening reaction than that of the assassin. Silently creeping into your room while you sleep, they plunge a pick deep inside your brain, or fill your snoring nostrils with poisonous vapour. Or perhaps skilled fingers from the shadows strike a vital point during mid-step; the coroners say it was a heart attack. Assassins are people to be feared, no doubt. But what do they fear? What do they dream of? What life, what world, are they longing to achieve with their actions? Is the killing just a job or is there some deeper motivation that drives them? And what happens when it all goes wrong?

In Assassins’ Canon a full gamut of would-be killers is explored: gangsters, henchmen, soldiers, newly-weds, the reluctant, the willing, the skilled, and the novice. And, for better or worse, all must bear the consequences of their choices.

Alternate Futures

Echoes of the Past

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Charlene Stanfeld, aka Starshyne, has problems. Her parents were killed five years ago in the fireball that started the Hero’s Plague and she’s been alone ever since. She has a job with no future, a boss with no self-control, and now there’s a super-powered gang that has her number.

Ayn Elipso just bought a new house with her fiance Ryan and is getting the final touches ready for their wedding in one week. Only, Ryan has become distant, working long hours every day. They’ve become strangers and Ayn is no longer sure she wants to go through with the wedding.

Virtue Maroni, daughter of the Godfather of Destiny, wants to make her own name in the world, separate from her parents’ money and influence, but despite superior technological abilities and combat skills, she has to fight for every inch of respect.

Three women, three stories, three destinies, with one thing in common – the evil Dr. GrimLaw. But just who is he and what is his connection to them and the Hero’s Plague?

Echoes of the Past is the first episode of the Altered Destiny Saga, a female-centric superhero series. More information on the world, people, and history of Destiny City can be found online at Destiny City Now! (Destiny-City.com).

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