Sights.

What are you afraid of,
I know that you are
Keep it in your sights now
and don’t let it go far
 – London Grammar
 
It is approximately two years since I did any serious writing. It has been awful. Even by extensive procrastination periods, this has been a record breaker. It is like I have been in hibernation, a long hibernation which defies biology. Buried deep in the ground never daring to raise my head up.
So what have been doing all this time not writing. Well, I have designed. Beautiful websites and applications, learnt a new language (Python). Promptly dropped it. Old unlikable PHP still does wonders in legacy systems. Wandered around jobs. Kept wondering how I got here. Quit them, stayed home and gazed at the stars searching for Alpha Centauri and Betelgeuse. Never found them. Stocked my library, read new experiences. Got hooked to Charles Stross and Neal Stephenson. Had an existential crisis, got over it. After all we all heading to the big black. Why sweat it?
I have listened to less and less music. Later settling on two bands which seem to resonate with me on a level I can’t quite grasp. Of Monsters And Men and London Grammar. Give them a ear, they will not disappoint, oh, and Mayonde.
I usually don’t do(did) short posts. This is a new ground which I am not treading again. It has been hard to put up whatever sh*t I have churned out. I haven’t submitted anything to magazines too. Blame it on the crippling self doubt which I would like to imagine I am crushing it right now with a vice.
I am dusting several halfway done manuscripts and typing word after word until I am done. Every two weeks I am putting up something. I was born to do this, dammit!

Klexos

Klexosthe 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.

Giant Bio mech squid

 

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

There was an eerie look around the village. Dusty paths Meadows filled with sand soil. In addition to making them difficult for transit, they gave it a rather rusty feel. Like it had seen the better days. A feeling that once upon a time prosperity had made this a home. Then came a time to move on. Leaving trails of dust and hopelessness. I  was seated alone in the back of the old struggling bus which managed to find extra energy after every few minutes to move ahead. I was aprehensive of everything. The weird quiet soundings which had an occasional hoot of a barn owl. We came upon a dry riverbed where the bus had more than it’s fair deal of the labourous journey. Passengers got out to give it a push, will it to expend any remaining energy and if like Jeremy says it has soul; find within it’s nooks and cranes for that extra will power to get through the sand. I did not disembark because my body was not willing to. Hours of hard bumping and slipping in and out of consciousness had worn me out.
 
We were on the road again in no time and for some reason my eyes were fixed on the left window staring far in to the distant hills. In between I could see huts which had smoke billowing. A notification that it was already lunchtime and I had had few scraps for the last 36 hours. A few of the huts had white flags on the roofs. A common protective feature for a community which had completely refused to move with times and adopt imported religions. Shrines where the gods resided where hallowed ground and it would be an anathema if an outsider like me got to peek in to one.
 
The drone of the bus, occasioned by the constant scuffles as it hit massive potholes was hypnotizing. The drone was a cue to get asleep, bumps woke me up with a start or sometimes they didn’t. The last bump made me bite my tongue, for the umpteenth time. With the trend going on I could be devoid of speech functions in the next few hours.
 
I was running in the beach barefooted. Hazy and dreamy filled with love. A scenario I witness in romantic movies when couples are watching the beautiful orange tropical sun set. I was doing the same thing, only this time the sun was not setting in-font of me. Up in the sky were rockets and space-ships constantly breaking out of earth’s atmosphere and transforming in to fiery fireballs albeit for few seconds. They created a spectacular aurora which was amplified by the dying streaks from the sun. It was a beautiful sight. I realised I had a camera in my hands and I went on a photography rampage. This went on for so long until I realised there was no end to the rockets departing. A thought dawned. None of them was coming back. All around me now was sand, dunes and more sand. Then there were numerous ground space stations where the ships were being launched from. The noise emanating from the anti-matter engines was deafening. I covered my ears but it would not stop. Then there was a whizzing sound for a few seconds, my ear drums burst. I was back on the beach, seated on the cool sand and watching the sky. The lights now were much less than before. I saw one burn and burn, then instead of dissapearing in to the outer space it plummeted back to the surface. It streaked like a shooting star but only growing bigger and brighter. It hit the ocean at some point and fizzled out. My thoughts formed, a sort of eureka moment which was a little too late.Every living soul was vacating earth, vacating the solar system. The sun was dying and with it support for  any life here. Billions of humans left to search for habitable planets far away. In multi generational ships for journeys which would take centuries and if the luck was still a bitch, millenniums.
They ships engineered for the purpose. I had briefly worked on Kano both on the Indian ocean and the low earth orbit. 
I was the only soul left on earth, freezing…I bit my tongue again really hard and woke up.
 
Maybe I will get my teeth clipped when I am back in the city. I did not know how long I had been asleep and dreaming but the landscape had not changed a bit and the bus drone was still disturbing.
‘Tell me about it’. I turned to my right to find an old lady holding a kyondo of apples staring at me apprehensively. Apples which made me salivate and had my stomach rumbling and squeaking in all sorts of funny noises ‘uh?’ I stared back at her blankly. ‘Tell me about your dream young man, in exchange of  some apples’. She said. ‘Was I mumbling in my sleep? I am sorry for that’ I said. ‘Nothing of the sort young human, I can tell you were dreaming, tell me about it’.Her eyes lay deep in their sockets, bright and constantly searching my face. I thought, what the hell. It was just a stupid dream and I would murder for some of those apples so here it comes old lady. I told her about my dream without leaving any detail. What surprised me was that I was able to remember everything about it with vivid clarity whilst I  always have problems recalling my dreams even the ones I really struggle to remember. She listened and nodded and in between she offered me an apple which fuelled the story. If I could really sell my dreams at a price then maybe I wouldn’t be so distraught and broke like I was. When the story was over I guess she was disappointed just as I was. If I could stretch it to several hours maybe I could end up with the whole basket. It was a disappointment. Was I willing myself to fall asleep and dream just for an apple? 
 
This was eerily weired. Who was this old hag anyway? Her complexion was dark and for some reason her face seemed cloudy. Her nose was long and her eyes were the only clearly discernible feature of the wrinkled face. When she spoke her voice was crisp clear, strong and commanding. She had a musky, old smell which should have been disturbing, but it wasn’t. Where had she come from? I couldn’t remember her embarking in to the bus when the journey commenced and sure as hell she did not get on at one of the numerous stops. I could have seen that. 
 
I had set out for this journey as a soul searching mission. A washed up journalist who was in and out jobs making enemies with editors on nearly daily basis. The journey which was now on it’s second month had fleeced my accounts and now I was traveling on a shoestring budget. Food had become a luxury and my stomach was constantly rumbling. The hag couldn’t have been here at a better time.
 
I don’t remember when I fell asleep again but I woke up with a shudder after we hit a rather massive pothole. This was an empty piece of sleep. No dreams at all and no memory of how it was. This did strike me as odd but who was I going to lodge a complain to? The old lady who was staring at me uncomfortably? I said hello once again. ‘Sorry ma, no dreams’ I said with a shy smile. “I know”. The reply. 

Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination

Couldn’t have put it better.

thenerdsofcolor

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.

View original post 2,986 more words

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!

Uncanny

Uncanny_Issue_One

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

Editorial
The Uncanny Valley- Editorial by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

New Fiction
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”

Classic Fiction
Jay Lake- “Her Fingers Like Whips, Her Eyes Like Razors”

Nonfiction
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
Tansy…

View original post 136 more words

Miniscule Black Hole – Part II

See Part I of this story.

The trees in Europa are so green they are blue. Seko stared at a willow through his window and made a mental note to pluck some leaves. He had just received a message that he was needed back at earth with immediate effect. The message had come directly from the Universe Ism ruler. Seko already knew it was a matter of magnitude proportions. A summon by the ruler was unheard of. He was so mysterious and scarce that he was almost mythical. After 11 earth years he was going to depart from Europa at last. He was born on earth but came to the island domes as part of his studies. He never went back. He loved it here. There was plenty of unspoiled oxygen and terraformation had created a wonderful environment. The shuttle was leaving in one hour, he already had the special pass authorised from the Ism directorate. The mere sight of the stamp was enough to send the guards scrambling to salute you or even kiss your ass literally.

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.