Flash Science Fiction – “Patchwork”


“I thought the survey team said most of this planet was arable.”

African inland delta - surreal natural Medusan art.

With thanks to Commander Chris Hadfield aboard the ISS.

Commander Thaller frowned in concentration as she highlighted sections of the image. “We’d better hope it has potential for it, at least,” she muttered to her second-in-command. “Otherwise, we’ll get to come back and rescue these settlers and they’ll fight us every pico of the way.”

The Explorer-class vessel Delta Bonita was on hyperbolic transit through the system, following an arc that would aim it back toward  Pax Sector HQ. Thaller’s shuttle, the Foxtrot, had brought over the first load of settlers and their gear. The Dee-Bee‘s hyperbolic course meant limited time for them to either turn around or put everyone on the surface.

“All right, listen up!” she called out as she manoeuvred into the passenger compartment. “Here’s a new screencap of the surface near our intended landing zone. There’s a mix of land types across your chosen latitude – mostly river basin, desert, and rock. You’ve got two minutes to make the call on whether to start the landing process or turn around and try the next planet on the list.”

After handing the photo capture off to the settler’s leader, Arton, she headed toward the cargo area to double-check everything was ready to offload when they hit dirtside. The surface patchwork wouldn’t give the settlers much land to live on unless they chose to stay in flood zones, but these people were determined to found their own colony. She gave it 10-to-1 odds that they’d demand an immediate landing.

The would-be colonists hurriedly unstrapped and huddled together over the picture, their voices quiet but intent. The extent of the river basin area appeared liveable, but it looked like there were few arable zones and they were far distant from one another. Each area looked able to support a small group indefinitely, but not all of the settlers together. Not without the ability to travel easily between those zones. Arton looked at his wife, his thoughts evident on his face.

Thaller came back into the passenger area, resealing the door to the cargo bay. “What’s your choice, people? Drop or go?”

Arton came smoothly to his feet, gesturing with the screen cap. “Commander, this igneous rock appears able to bear the shuttle landings and takeoffs, and it’s close enough to the delta area that we won’t have much trouble ferrying gear over. We drop.”

She nodded, studying the faces of the other settlers. They looked excited and apprehensive, but not terribly concerned about the dangers inherent in the planet’s topography. It was their problem now. “Very well, get strapped back in and we’ll pass along the alert to the other shuttle crews. We’ll be on the ground in about 15 minutes.”

Thaller managed not to shake her head in disdain as she strapped back into the pilot’s seat. Every batch of settlers thought they were unique and capable, but their shared hatred of the United Planets government kept them from properly evaluating planetary hazards. She gave it three years, tops, before they’d call for rescue…and she hoped the UP placed a high price on that service.

Dee-Bee, this is the Foxtrot. We are go for drop. Out.”

Copyright 2013 – Christine Clukey Reece


Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien

You gave us hobbitses, Gollum, Middle Earth, Gandalf, and the Sackville-Bagginses. Yes, I love the Shire most of all – mostly due to my lack of height – but I happily chewed my way through tales of other far and distant lands, vivid images of stately elves and graceful architecture springing into my mind’s eye.

Google, however, failed us today. They came up with some glorious doodles last year, but they ignored Tolkien’s birthday. [They also ignored Isaac Asimov’s birthday on Jan. 2nd.] I’ve sent several tweets their way asking why they didn’t do anything interesting, but no response so far. #Fail

Here’s a few links to help you celebrate the professor’s birthday. The first is fairly self-explanatory and absolutely lovely:

Middle Earth as seen from Space

Middle Earth

Middle Earth


And the second link…well, it appeals to my sense of humour. Enjoy!

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

2012 Recap, No Space Odyssey

In spite of my desire to leave Earth and establish a colony of non-stupid people on Mars, I’m still here. Turns out it’s a bit more problematic than I expected to talk Space X into holding a contest to help me get there. Ah well. They have some great competition topics and I guess I can’t be too upset that they’re focusing a little closer to Earth for now.

I’m working on a few story ideas, one of which is partially based on my previous flash fiction here. Another story is very loosely based on the space game I’m running in the Megaverse – not using any of their copyrighted material, just based on a few entertaining PC exploits. I’m sure my players will be thrilled to hear how they’ve inspired me to commemorate their deeds. *cough*

This year has passed in a bit of a blur. It’s been busy, we’ve dealt with stress and some health issues, and we moved to a large city. [Love the city!] Along with that, I’ve been fighting a huge case of something resembling writer’s block. The stories are there in my head, but I have trouble setting them down on paper or on screen. I’m not sure if it’s fear of writing garbage or fear of hearing negative feedback, but I’m working my way through that baggage and hope to post new material soon.

Things to look forward to in 2013:

  • New games
  • New gamers to hang out with
  • Exploring the city
  • More good movies coming out
  • Some great books coming out
  • Continuing my paleo cooking adventures
  • Comet ISON
  • Negotiating with Space X

That last one will be tough, but worth it. Mars ahoy!