Spinning to Oblivion

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Image courtesy of NASA

The acrid tang of blood was a pleasant change from the burnt smell wafting from the air reconditioners, Remy decided. He watched in distant fascination as drop after drop swirled away from his arms and body and spun across the compartment. Or was he the one spinning, he wondered, and the blood merely floated quietly after leaving him?

Drop by drop, his strength was ebbing away. He had hoped that the voices would get quieter as he got weaker, but the screaming seemed to be growing louder. At first only Lerin was yelling at him, but now Lerin was floating lifelessly beside the station’s solar-powered stabilizing array. Why had he gone out there? Hadn’t Remy warned him he didn’t have enough oxygen to be Outside for long?

Several blood droplets spun together, merging briefly into a larger globule before smashing into his left eye. Or had he smashed into it? Remy felt a wave of nausea sweep up as he caught a brief glimpse of Earth whirling repeatedly past the viewport.

The screaming seemed to be growing louder again, and this time there were more voices. A few were old friends inside his head, companions earned during months of solitary training, but the others were a mix of male and female voices he didn’t know. They were coming from all around him now.

“Remy, you need to get to the auxiliary panel!” shouted one angry voice. “You need to get the rotation under control now that the fire’s out. See if Lerin…”

He wanted to tell the voices to stop reminding him about Lerin. Lerin had gone Outside to try to save them, he reminded himself, and now he was gone. Another lurch brought him spinning around faster. His leg was tethered to a control panel that appeared to have been ripped free and was ricocheting around the module.

“Remy, where is Commander Tindal?”

Yes, there had been three of them. Three to work together, three to argue. Three to love. Three to fight.

“Remy, we can’t help you if you won’t talk to us!”

Remy felt a strange tug against his leg, rousing briefly to catch sight of a chunk of databoard guts that had smashed into him. A rising shriek drew his attention back towards the auxiliary control panel now being systematically and enthusiastically dismantled by the mission leader. Lerin’s knife drifted past his eyes.

“STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO.”

“But…you…made…us…”

Made us do it, Remy wanted to say, but his strength had ebbed away in the crazy dance of red drifting and careening around the compartment. A brief glimpse of Lerin’s suited body brought him comfort as he drifted towards oblivion. At least he wouldn’t be alone.

Copyright 2017 by Christine Clukey Reece

 

 

 

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But It’s Shiny! (Thanks, NASA)

Artist’s concept of Psyche spacecraft, image courtesy of NASA

In tribute to small children and easily distracted people everywhere, NASA will go out of its way to check out a shiny object.

Squirrel! Or maybe Rudolph.

A small asteroid named Psyche appears much brighter than other known asteroids, and NASA/astronomers believe it may be composed mostly of metal. Some are conjecturing that Psyche may be the inner core of a small planetary body stripped down by various celestial forces, and they think that a closer look at the asteroid may teach us a great deal about the inner core of our very own Earth.

Psyche is a Massachusetts-sized, mostly spherical body hanging out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, where NASA has already managed some wildly successful investigations (the Dawn Treader…er, Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres). Ceres itself handed them some surprises, most notably with the curious shiny patches on its surface that didn’t appear to correlate with anything known of planetary surfaces.

Let’s just declare the asteroid belt a cool place, m’kay? Because it is.

The mission was proposed and discussed back in 2015, and NASA selected it for further review and refining. The final decision on when the mission would proceed was announced this year. Looks like the Psyche mission is one of five exploratory ventures that NASA’s JPL will conduct from 2020-2030, in collaboration with Arizona State University (ASU) and Space Systems Loral. 

The mission director, Dr. Lindy Elkins-Taunton (ASU), has led several other successful NASA explorations of the solar system. Check out an interview with her here.

Fingers crossed that they maintain the budget needed for this exploration.

#Shiny #Psyche

Flash Fiction Friday: Impact

Image courtesy of NASA

Image courtesy of NASA

Impact

Thermafrag bombs detonated across the surface of Minerva IV like bugs splattering across a windshield. They were unlikely to hit anything, the captain knew, but might shake up the mutineers enough that they’d make a run for it.

Minverva IV hung against the silhouette of its gas giant parent, oblivious to the misfortunes of its surface. The moon had been mined and abandoned by one conglomerate or another over centuries, and now the crew members who’d attempted to murder him were hiding in the extensive network of tunnels below.

A vagrant muscle twitched in his jaw as the chilling sound of escaping air replayed in his memory. They’d told him that they’d found evidence of sabotage along the hull, and he’d fallen into their trap — suited up and headed Out to see it for himself. Good thing for him that he never went Outside without a flexoseal kit strapped on at his waist. Bad thing for them that there was more than one way back Inside the Elloran Cee.

He surveyed the two remaining members of the bridge crew, their facial scars standing out in stark relief under the glare of instrumentation lights. They were fine officers, he thought, able to withstand any amount of physical punishment in the performance of their duties. His fingers curled around the short whip at his waist, anticipating their next training session.

 

Copyright 2017, Christine Clukey Reece

 

A Happy and Kind Recommendation

Image found on Daily Kitten

Image found on Daily Kitten

I’ve worked with Digital Fiction Pub (DFP) as an editor for some time now and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the company and the authors they publish. One of my favorite experiences was helping to select stories for and edit the original Digital Science Fiction anthologies…most especially a happy little story called “The Night We Flushed the Old Town” by Martin L. Shoemaker, in Therefore I Am (Digital Science Fiction anthology #2).

Martin posted a great tribute to Michael Wills, the gentle genius behind DFP, and the final paragraph of the post included a kind reflection on me as his editor. Martin’s a great writer (and you should definitely check out his other works, especially “Today I Am Paul”), and I’m grateful to be thought of so kindly. It takes a special kind of focus to help an author fine-tune their fiction, and I love having the opportunity to do it.

At present, DFP is closed for submissions (and has been focusing on reprints), but keep checking the site if you have any science fiction, fantasy, or horror short stories you’d like to share! Stories under 3,500 words in all three genres fit the “Quickfic” category, and these stories are posted on the DFP website as well as turned into Quickfic anthologies. Michael selected one of my stories to lead the way in the first Quickfic anthology, and I’m hoping to submit more of my own work at some point.

In the meantime…write more!

No Flash Fiction, Just Sadness

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I’d intended to restart my #FlashFictionFriday posts as of today, but I’m overwhelmed by the news about Carrie Fisher. I’m not sure if the press’s “stable condition” is trying to back off the alarmism of the first posts about her heart attack, but requiring half an hour of CPR doesn’t bode well.

article-1088513-0289ce2d000005dc-747_468x468She’s more than just another actress to me and millions
of women around the world. Back in the 1970s, her Princess Leia introduced us to a woman who led others, made plans of her own, tossed around witty, sarcastic commentary, and picked up a laser pistol to defend herself and others. She was fully human and strong as hell, and Carrie was amazing in the role.

Her depiction of Leia taught us we could be anything, just like the boys could be. She also showed us we could dress up and be beautiful AND dress down and engage in combat. Because women can be fully competent as people, not just as decorative window dressing.

In her personal life, she has faced down many demons and come out stronger than ever and full of life. Postcards from the Edge, both her book and her screenplay, showcase what she fought through. And then she came back to us in the form of General Leia in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, showing us that women could get older and still matter — both on screen and off.

May the Force be with her and us all, and I hope her medical team is able to help her. I’ll be picking up her latest book, The Princess Diarist, as soon as I can.

And 2016: we hate you. So much. That may make me a Sith tonight, but care not, I do.

 

Need Ideas for Alien Creatures?

If you need ideas for alien critters, look no further than Antarctica. Well, under Antarctica. Photo courtesy of footage provided by the Australian government, and the video linked above is worth checking out.

These structures are holding up under immense pressure and cold, even though they look lacy and delicate. If that’s possible on Earth, then what might grow on other celestial bodies with oceans under ice? What might grow in thick, soupy atmospheres?

The science on life forms is pretty limited by our current knowledge that limits it to carbon-based units. It’s entirely possible that everything in the Earth’s oceans is carbon-based, but maybe they’ll eventually find something that started from a different elemental unit.

All that aside, check out the colors and structures. Consider how those colors might be affected by the various elements present in atmospheres on other worlds. What structures would plant life need to flourish in a heavy sulphur-based atmosphere? Would they use photosynthesis? Would photosynthesis work if you altered the intake chemical? Instead of carbon dioxide, could plants process sulphur? If so, what would they emit?

I’m contemplating some large tree-like structures like this blue and white one, but I’m trying to fit it into the context of a new world. We’ll see how that goes.

 

Get Knotted, 2016

This year has been one of a few high points and a number of lows. Some pretty awful, horrible lows. The year started with the death of David Bowie, and it ends with my family mourning the loss of a loved one…and with a number of world events mirroring those that built up into World War II.

With 11 days to go, it makes one wonder what’s coming next. There probably isn’t enough booze for it, regardless.

It’s no longer #ThanksObama, it’s #Thanks2016.