Klexos – the art of dwelling in the past.We think of memories as a work of art – and a work of art is never finished. Only abandoned.
Down town Nairobi bustles with activity. It’s midnight but the absence of planetary light has rendered nights negligible. It is now about the bottom line. Keeping the city’s economy alive and making a mark in the archives lest you be forgotten like a gust of wind. The open air market is crazy as usual. Shouts, haggling, collisions and secretion of bodily fluids. Something which has not changed for over ten thousand years, or so, the memory banks have this for a fact. Early 19th century had humans travel to market centres and trade. That has not changed at all. There is foot and air traffic as well as constant chings here and there. The city lords have banned mechanical traffic from some of the sections. They say it corrupts, fills an otherwise great trade with a background buzz or drone which is impossible to eradicate from the transaction. These include but not limited to hover cars, drone-suits, and jump bikes. One common denominator is that they are all the products of the past centuries. They have refused to die with time and instead adapted, one could say they have evolved.
They are being replaced by super squids. The semi biological fast moving, flying and swimming contraptions. They are even being used for orbital transfers. The diamond wisp stretching up to the moon is becoming old fashioned, and cheap.
Kora doesn’t like Nairobi. She doesn’t like her family too. It’s understandable she is at that stage of life. It is too crowded for her liking. The comm links in her hypothalamus keep chiming. Installed at birth, she can never get away. Unless she goes off world. The major one. Moving off system where solar noise is none existent.
To be continued
The Absence – Part 1
Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination
Couldn’t have put it better.
How do you imagine a life you could never live? Though not really a theme, this problem is at the heart of Netflix’s new original series Sense8, created by the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, and heavily influenced by Tom Tykwer. Like many fantastical or science fictional premises, Sense8’s premise is a wish fulfillment: not — as is typical of this genre and the Wachowskis’ earlier work — the wish fulfillment of the disempowered middle school nerd stuffed into a locker, but rather the Mary Sue desire of a mature, white American writer/auteur who has discovered that an entire world is “out there,” one that the maker doesn’t know how to imagine.
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Celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th anniversary with this stunning nebula fly-through video
If your digital world seems to suffocate you at times with its strangling cacophony of constant information, we recommend this refreshing odyssey courtesy of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, pulling us into the wondrous eye of the cosmos. NASA technicians created this thrilling fly-through visualization based on images obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope for its 25th anniversary.
The inspiring video teleports voyagers straight into the radiant center of the Gum 29 nebula toward the sparkling star cluster Westerlund 2 and its infinite beauty. Built by NASA and the ESA, the Hubble Space Telescope was first launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery 25 years ago today.
Here’s NASA’s official announcement:
This visualization provides a three-dimensional perspective on Hubble’s 25th anniversary image of the nebula Gum 29 with the star cluster Westerlund 2 at its core. The flight traverses the foreground stars and approaches the lower left rim of the nebula Gum 29. Passing through the wispy darker clouds on the near side, the journey reveals bright gas illuminated by the intense radiation of the newly formed stars of cluster Westerlund 2. Within the nebula, several pillars of dark, dense gas are being shaped by the energetic light and strong stellar winds from the brilliant cluster of thousands of stars. Note that the visualization is intended to be a scientifically reasonable interpretation and that distances within the model are significantly compressed.
Uncanny Issue 1 Cover & Table of Contents!
Coming in November, THE FIRST ISSUE OF UNCANNY!!!
All of the content will be available in the eBook version on the day of release. The free online content will be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and half in December.
Table of Contents:
Cover by Galen Dara
The Uncanny Valley- Editorial by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
Maria Dahvana Headley- “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White”
Kat Howard- “Migration”
Max Gladstone- “Late Nights at the Cape and Cane”
Amelia Beamer- “Celia and the Conservation of Entropy”
Ken Liu- “Presence”
Christopher Barzak- “The Boy Who Grew Up”
Jay Lake- “Her Fingers Like Whips, Her Eyes Like Razors”
Sarah Kuhn- “Mars (and Moon and Mercury and Jupiter and Venus) Attacks!”
Worldcon Roundtable featuring Emma England, Michael Lee, Helen Montgomery, Steven H Silver, and Pablo Vazquez
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Miniscule Black Hole – Part II
He felt special. The flight back to earth took 5 hours. It was a shuttle of moderate proportions, not equipped with light speed enabling Alcubierre drives. He liked it that way, ships which contracted space scared the shit out of him. He could take weeks to recover from the journey.
He arrived in Nairobi at the evening just when the sun was setting. He did not miss it. The air was even stuffier than he left it though the pull of gravity was less, way much less than he had imagined it would be. He was almost floating. It was unnatural. He was picked up by a uniformed ism soldier who led him to a vintage limousine from the old earth. ”Will I be bequeathed the ruler’s head in a platter or something”, he joked to the soldier who was weaving past hover-cars at breakneck speed. No answer. Seko gave a light chuckle to himself and continued looking for anything new on the roads since he left. There was nothing, in fact people were less than the norm. This was another very unusual factor. Human beings loved earth beyond logic, many of them since centuries immemorial had adamantly refused to move to new planets and colonization. They held the earth dear, their mother. They arrived at the gleaming towers that housed the Universal Ism headquarters in no time. They were just as he remembered them. Dreary and scary. The people who worked here were always gloomy as if they held the weight of the world literally on their heads. Right now they did. Seko was ushered in to the office of Earth director in a hurry. The director was a huge man. Broad shoulders, demeaning walrus-moustache, deep booming voice and all. His face was grim. Seko noticed that he had some traces of hair on the top of his head. A very rare occurrence, the feature had been out-evolved. He felt like laughing at him the way the laughed at a boy who had the same back in school. He held it back. ”Seko, we have been expecting you. I hope you are fully nourished.” Seko wondered what this had to do with anything. ”Earth is very dear to us and it would be sacrilegious if one day we lost it. We have discovered an anomaly in our immediate space. In exactly nine months, 2 days and 6 hours, a black hole will form right beside our orbit to the sun. I think you know what happens after that. It is your job to stop it from forming.” The director said with an air of finality.
Seko was confused, he was not an astrophysicist nor was he a scientist by any definition. He willed his time away at Europa by writing poetry and occasionally editing for the news organization there. There must be a mistake somewhere. ”Sir I don’t see how, I am not a scientist and I have very little understanding of how black-holes work.” He said. ”You will be given all the knowledge there is by microchip implantation to your diencephalon. It’s a simple matter. Have you ever been acquainted with time travel? Of-course no, it is illegal”. He answered himself. ”We are the Ism though and after numerous deliberations you have come out as one of the candidates to travel back in time and rectify this problem. We have traced your lineage and we are lucky to find that you have an ancestor who was a scientist and who contributed much to the problem we are having.” The director said. ”With all due respect sir, I have to decline. I am sure there are better people suited for the job other than me.” Seko said. ”You do not understand young man, that option is not available under any circumstances. Doctor Meniz will be with you soon for orientation and implantation. You will leave in one month so that is what you have to familiarise yourself with what the chip does not make clear. Feel free to ask any questions. I believe we have come to an understanding. I am now leaving for my walk. Say hi to your great, great, great grandpa and don’t look up my family when you are there”. The director said as he picked up his cane and walked out leaving Seko perplexed.
Dr Meniz was short and rather pleasant in contrast with the director. He walked with a slight hunch as he led Seko to the lab. The first task was the chip to fall in place. Seko had never been fond of implants but his life had changed dramatically since he received the message in the morning. He was about to do many things he was not very fond of or straight out loathed. In this period he met the other three candidates. Yeggi, the tall engineer who wore old fashioned glasses and mumbled to herself. She was an expert in time travel and also an historian of some sorts. Adua, the only extraterrestrial in the group. He/She, Seko could not differentiate came from a planet in the Andromeda system. Adua was an expert in black-hole formation as well as white holes. He/She was involved in the construction of several of them in Andromeda which were used to keep in place moons and planets which had broken orbit. Why he/she had chosen to work on a dangerous project to save the earth Seko had no clue. There was Kik, a temperamental scientist who always had his brow under sweat. He was responsible for the invention of several deadly weapons and he also relished the idea of blowing up moons. To his surprise Seko was the leader of the group. He was tasked with making the first contact with his ancestor and making sure the coast is clear.
I woke up the next morning with a massive headache. This was not a good way to start a day promising to be weird. The first thought was of the former human or post-human species lodged in my lab. My shoulders slumped. They were going to stay slumped for a very long time. A frown would also materialise which at last would take a plastic surgeon to wipe off. I took my hover-car to the lab. I walked inside to find Seko hunched over the bench with another creature. This was definitely not a post-human species. It was not bipedal for a start. It floated mysteriously just above the ground and buzzed all over my lab swiftly. This did not give me a second heart attack though. I was past the stage partially due to the events of the previous day and partially due to the fact that I was still a little bit inebriated. ”Hello Seko, who do we have here?” I asked cheerfully. ”Oh, where are my manners, this Adua. Adua, meet my once upon a time ancestor. He will definitely help with these calculations,” he said to the creature which turned to me and made what I presumed was a bow, or an insult. ”Nice to meet you Adua, now Seko, would you for the love of God explain to me what the hell is happening,” ”Chill out mate,” he said cheerfully ”see I familiarised myself with your slang to sound cool, chill out”. I was not about to ‘chill out’. ”No Seko, for the record that slang does not belong to this age and even if it was I do not use slang in my conversations. Now tell me what the hell is going on”. I realised I was getting agitated.
”Okay, okay mate sit down and have your precious coffee.” He said. ”Do you remember a paper you wrote 2 years ago about the formation of artificial worm-holes as a means of space travel?” ”Yes but it was only a theory and it does go against many laws of physics, it is not tenable,” I replied. ”Well, my old man. Some of your former colleagues did not think so and right now as we speak they are in the final stages of setting it up. It will not succeed, not now anyway. It will remain dormant for another four hundred years. When it does form then, in our time, it will not be a worm-hole but a black-hole. A black-hole smack in the middle of the solar system. Its size will be capable of collapsing the whole of the Milky Way. Sucking it unto itself. You would not want that to happen, would you? Your job is to help us stop them.” His cheery self had disappeared with his little speech. ”We need an old rocket which to refurbish as soon as possible, I am sure you can get us one old man”. I was not happy he was calling me old man but then again I was his great, great to infinity grandfather.
Obtaining a rocket discreetly was not an easy task. There were few of them just outside Nairobi in Athi river mines. They were dumped in old missile silos used in the world war three. The good thing is that they were not heavily guarded as they were regarded useless. We transported there in the nightfall by my hover-car loaded with 3D printed confusing contraptions which were to be used in repair. They had spent the whole day printing them with fascinating efficiency. There were two bored guards by the entrance strapped with laser rifles. We alighted and crept by the shadows until they we were a few meters away, then Adua materialised and said hello. They fainted. I summoned the hover-car and we bundled them in an air-lock inside. After that it was a breeze. Once inside they selected an old NASA space plane which was used to transport supplies to the International Space Station and the moon later. Seko said it was more than they had wished for.
We printed several drones and programmed them for the repairs which they did efficiently. In a few hours it was as good as new. The next step was weaponry. It was at that moment that an apparition occurred just beside me and off it went with some of my sight. Out stepped two creatures which looked like Seko. They did not even bother acknowledging me. Later I learned it was Yeggi and Kik. They spoke very little. Kik got down to work installing weird equipment to the sides of the plane. By the time he was done it looked more menacing than a Russian military chopper. We launched in the wee hours of the morning. A few minutes after we did, we got a message from the ground space control that we were not allowed to launch any rockets and especially old ones. We were asked to abort and we promptly declined.
The next warning was not so polite. It was a ground to air missile which missed us by miles. The next one was four heat seeking missiles capable of breaking in to space. The plane responded with its own which destroyed them. Several others were released to the same result. The real battle was ahead of us.
Several satellites in the orbit were already armed in readiness for the rogue plane. Their sheer number was overpowering. Kik’s massive veins on his forehead bulged as he fought them and neutralised them one by one. He was hitting them with missiles of his own creation which de-fragmented them in to several million pieces and to avoid creating space junk sent the scampering back to earth, breaking orbit and in to atmosphere. In a sense he was infecting every piece with smart nanites. Nanites which I had created in my lab. We soon settled on the orbit and started scanning for the construction team. When we saw them they did not seem perturbed. What was a mere space-plane against their five massive spaceships?
One of the spaceships was holding the supercollider which was in the process of accelerating the collision of the particles. The mission was to annihilate it. Remove any trace of it’s existence. We fired a warning shot high above them in the dismal hope that they would move away. They charged their weapons on the four ships and activated defenses on the fifth one. This was not going to be easy. We advanced in what was soon to become a battlefield.
The two ships in the flanks closed on us and simultaneously rained torpedoes on us. It was the time for Kik’s shields to prove their character and they really did. While the force from the attack threw us around, nothing penetrated the hull. It was like stabbing a cerrusite plate. This went on for five long minutes without any retaliation from our side. We took down the lead ship in less than a minute blowing it in to smithereens which like the satellites broke orbit back to earth. This prompted the other ships to form a triangle in defense of the one holding the collider. They made it too easy for us. Kik sent a volley of nanites enhanced photon torpedoes and soon we only had the mother ship remaining. We systematically destroyed it’s propulsion and weaponry system as they intended to take it to the future. Doing so would enable them to track any changes done in the field and disable them from their own time-line going onwards. Kik once again proved useful by equipping the space plane with cloaking mask which enabled me to go back to earth invisible.
Nairobi is in utter chaos now that I am back, and so is every place on earth. There are conspiracy theories on what really happened yesterday but nobody can guess the truth. I will take it to my grave.
Miniscule Black Hole – Part I
This post originally appeared on Storymoja Festival Blog
What Nairobi needs is a flood of heavenly proportions to clean it, wash the filth towards Nairobi river and any other outlet available. Wash away the filaments of delirium inducing weapons from the future. Weapons which have destroyed the present to save the future.
I walk briskly towards city centre and in no time I am at 20th Century cinema wine bar. I usually frequent it on Fridays but this Tuesday calls for special drinking. I would like to see if not so few shots of whisky will clear my brain which is very cloudy at the moment. Thoughts and counter thoughts on time travel criss-cross it. It is a paradox and a scientific impossibility. Sure, since time immemorial people have burned the mid night oil trying to come up with calculations which can enable it but it is just too complex and still impossible. I am really not sure how this future race did it but they must be pretty good to pull it through. It is surprisingly hot where I am seated and I endeavour to move to another corner. I pick up my glass and but I trip with the first step I take and go sprawling towards the counter. This day is not getting any better. My artificial limp luckily hits the ground first so there is no real damage other than my deflated ego. Rising up I realise the nights mission is already accomplished, I cannot keep my balance and hell and Seko know what tomorrow will bring. I summon my hover car to take me home.
Satao – a legend
I really had to repost this.
When I last wrote about Satao, I felt that I couldn’t use his name. I could refer to him only as a ‘magnificent tusker’ or an ‘iconic Tsavo bull’. I feared that naming him would risk revealing where he lived. Now that I can use it, I wish that that I couldn’t.
On the 30th May, poachers finally caught up with Satao. An arrow smeared with Acokanthera poison hit him in his left flank and penetrated his body cavity. It travelled right through to his vital organs. To begin with, he might have run, to get deeper inside the park, where he felt safe. Running would have made the poison work faster. He didn’t get very far. Eventually he stood still in open ground, not a mile from the park boundary – with the potent cardio-toxin coursing through him. Without any cover to hide his tusks, he’d have felt exposed…
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Oh! The Joys Of Kenya @ 50
Have you heard that they are looking for 150 limousines to ferry V.I.Ps during our beloved country golden jubilee? Did you see that 50 bob gold coin our dear supreme leader launched to show how rich we are after just fifty years of independence? Have you seen flags and other shukas paraded all over the city proclaiming the fifty years? I have heard some guys on Twittverse have been paid 100 grand to tweet about their love, their pride, their heritage, their commitment to a Kenya which is just fifty years young. Why not 50 grand?
A rumor goes that the M.Ps are getting 10 M bonuses, once again, why not 50 M? After all they have worked hard to earn it. 50 years of screwing up a country of nearly 50 M people is not a small task. I myself and my whole clan couldn’t do it in a millennium. I know what is on your mind, no, we are not lazy. They have sank their teeth and wieners in to the good old Kenya without making any considerable mistakes. It’s true every once in a while one of them decides to steer away from the masses and do something else. Let’s say some developments, civil rights activism, fight corruption and some other acts of selfishness which are frowned upon by the members of the August house. He or she is quickly silenced by the high priest or else he is jeered upon by his comrades until he drops the embarrassing behavior.
I think you have heard that some people have died in Moyale due to tribal clashes. 27 of them and counting. In case you are wondering, yes, this happens often. But what does the good old menopause Kenya do about it? Nothing , it’s not a big deal. The fourth estate is excellent in it’s devotion to licking the ass of the high priest and his cronies. Fifty years on. All of them have the money to sent reporters to S.A for Tata Madiba’s send off but none to make their way to Moyale. Well, the high priest recently decided the licking was not up to the current globally recommended standards. Borrowing a leaf from Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, Ayatolla etc (He sure does have many role models). They decided to add another thread to the screw. It will now include curtailed press freedom amongst other things. The forth estate was brought up to standards by a resounding ‘Ayeeee!!!’ in August house a few days ago. Newspapers were then termed as ‘makaratasi ya kufunga nyama’ . I am at loss why they still lick that ass instead of a fully blown media blackout. The perks of Kenya at 50.
The process of retrenching nay sacking 100,000 civil servants is already on the wheels while we celebrate. A good reason given for this is that we can’t afford the wage bill. We are simply too poor. Yes, we can afford to pay M.Ps and their smaller followers M.C.As gazzilions of Kenyan shillings but we are too poor to compensate the hardworking Kenyans. Teachers have been whining since time immemorial, their wage, working conditions and other negligible issues have always been in contest. The government is for the opinion that they are just fine and they should stop making noise over nothing. Teachers think otherwise but still, they have all the reasons to celebrate Kenya at 50.
Health workers will also be on strike while the celebrations go on. Of course this is a non-issue. No M.P can ever be caught dead using the public health system. To sum it up it’s no concern of theirs. It has now become the norm, rather than the exception for you to lose your belongings or life to criminals every once in a while. This, as a proud country which is past mid-life crisis, we choose to ignore. A product of unemployment and flawed institutions. We trudge on, after all we are fifty. Police officers don masks and steal from you at gun point, they rent out their guns when they feel it’s too cold. But hey, we are fifty, a reason to celebrate.
We have an excellent education system, hell, the good old government is even upgrading to schools 2.0. Laptops for standard 1 kids and all. Graduates who cannot perform a single task litter the job places but who cares. The government is digital. We have a new constitution. A fact which makes us congratulate ourselves every day. Plans are underway to screw it up and judiciary will just be a victim of circumstances. Guys who at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sorry Mutunga and co. Please show up to the celebrations in full regalia, we will have nothing less. Lest we forget, we have Thika Superhighway. The other potholes are negligible. This calls for a toast of champagne.
I must confess the euphoria has also sank in to my cranium. You can only hold on to being bombarded by the marketing efforts for too long. I have been dreaming of Madiba passing on the night before celebrations. I am not sure how our dear old Kamwana would have reacted then. It would have been a real bummer. I would still celebrate Madiba’s life, just like I am doing.
P.s I saw my good old senator ‘hanging out with’ Mandela thanks to poor photoshoping skills. Please, Mars take me away.
- The Fifty Years of Destruction – Kenyan @50 (jukucapital.wordpress.com)
- Dozens killed in north Kenya inter-ethnic fighting (capitalfm.co.ke)
- Moyale killings dampen Golden Jubilee celebrations (nation.co.ke)
- Sata Kenya-bound (times.co.zm)