Archive for June 2016

Snap Sci-Fi – Time to Go   Leave a comment

Assembled robot

“I’m telling’ ya, you’d better’d kick in a little more palm grease before I pull this duty again,” said Rathwalson, a bare-boned bot jerry-rigged from spare parts. “The way you sold this gig to me, I’d thought I’d wind up on the shores of Celestrasia, oiling my joints with some babe. Instead, I’ll be floating toward that rock there, crunching breccia and nothing else.”

“Oh, quit moaning,” said Biff Chesthair. “I’m maneuvering this bucket so close it’ll only be a leap and a step. Else, they’re gonna catch us and switch out your parts. Turn you into something you’re gonna regret. We both know why.”

“How can I not? My repeat circuit keeps showing Chrome and Pewter pissed because I mistook them for Dead Betas. What bot rests? Only boosted their Slether so I can sell it to buy more appendage junk. Hey, they’d do the same to me! And yes, I’m an idiot ’cause I didn’t think they’d have the sense to bury a tracker inside the Slether pack. So, I’m taking it…there,” Rathwalston said, pointing out the porthole to a grim, scarlets-shadowed planet.

“Look, R,” said Thurston Chiseljaw as he strapped a hefty transport box to the back of the unwilling robot. “We got to get rid of that Slether,” he said, referring to the blitz-quick addictive drug, known to bring down bots, babies and everything in between. “We can’t have both the cops and bots chasing us. Already they’re on to us. I’d do it myself if you didn’t play hide-and-seek with my helmet.”

“You lost it in that poker game last night. Now I’m wearing it,” he said, glancing at the lower part of his mechanical torso.

“Yeah, it’s your ass,” said Thurston, “and there’s no way I’m putting that back on my head.”

Meanwhile, Biff struggled with the primitive controls on their stolen ship, a hacked-together collection of gear shifting rods, a metal pegboard box passing as a control panel and a window with a target drawn on it. A few dials sporting unrecognizable symbols proved to be a complete waste of time, signifying nothing useful, to him anyway. He might as well fly blind. After much jiggering, he figured out the correct joystick to turn it towards the unnamed planet only meters away.

“If either of you loose screws wants to pay attention, we’re here. We got an hour, tops. Time to go,” said Biff to Rathwalson.

“I’m already gone. Catch you in five,” Rathwalson said as he slipped through the portal.

Biff and Thurston watched him stream towards the planet’s surface, leaving a faint trail of propulsion fuel in his wake.

An hour passed by. “Come in, Rathwalson. Come in,” Thurston hailed through the barely-functioning radio. “Come in, now, can’t hear you. Where you at?”

Nothing but a sizzle crack of dead air.

“Don’t like this,” said Biff. “Either he’s gone off someplace, or they’ve found us. I’m going down there.”

“I’ll keep watch. Not that we’re a tempting target or anything, but even if Pewter and Chrome are in a good mood, they’ll pick us off just for laughs. I mean, look at this ship,” he said, slapping the metal pegboard box that held the control panel.

Biff tugged on his spacesuit as Thurston readied the propulsion kit. “There’s not much fuel here. Might not be enough to bring back the bot anyway.”

Moments later, he disappeared into the dark abyss, floating towards his destiny.

 Headless Robot

Nothing works like it’s supposed to, thought Biff as he scrambled along the rough surface of the unnamed planet. The tracker’s sending me here, but I’m not picking up signs. 

Without warning, the sky erased it stars, replaced by a great gust of wind, then darkness. After a few foggy minutes, he regained his senses and glanced at his biometer. Oxygen…that’s good. He slipped off his helmet and breathed fresh air. A clink, followed by a ka-terrk, ka-terrk, ga-wheee sound caught his attention.


Leaving his helmet, he raced towards the noise. There stood Pewter and Chrome, disassembling a sizable assembly of bots. Among them was Rathwalson, his various pieces carefully arranged in categories: appendages, intelligence, camera, receptor, and others. That packet of Slether joined others in a bin.

“What took you so long?” said Pewter, as he turned toward Biff, pulling the head off of another bot while Chrome dissected its innards.

“That wasn’t our agreement. You know all the trouble I went through to get this stuff?” said Biff.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Pewter. “You’ve pirated more Slether than anyone this side of the sector. Our profits have vanished.”

“Time to go,” said Chrome, as he rose up from the ground.

“But…but…” Biff whimpered, until he felt the cold metal finger touch his cheeks.

Chrome unscrewed the cap that once served as Biff’s head, placed it on a shelf, and dug within his interior, scooping out the piles of packets of Slether that Biff held captive for far too long. It was time for him to go.

Snap Sci-Fi – “A Close Shave”   Leave a comment


A Close Shave

Damn them, thought Ranger Radsusky. Didn’t I tell them to go away?

It all started innocently enough. After tinkering around with an old electric shaver she found in the bathroom cabinet, inspiration struck fierce, sizzling her brain with concepts and plans.

“Hmm, let’s see,” she said as she held up the graphene synthesizer in her sunny, garden-girded laboratory. “I’ll put this shaver here on the 3D model conceptualizer, plug in an aerodynamics structure, maybe even a thruster or two. Then I’ll hit the send and blend button.”

Radsusky heard a tinny, unamplified series of musical notes in the distance. “Who’s calling me now?” she said, and turned to leave the room.

Big eyed cat

Mr. Widdles, Radsusky’s inquisitive cat, slunk into the lab through a slightly ajar French window. His feeding implementor Stood in the next room, talking into a small, flat slab of glass and metal. He sniffed around in the meantime.  A flat tray under some kind of big box held a few items of interest. Say, what’s this? Food? Inching closer, he pressed his paws against a tab. Quicker than a flash, the box lit up and weird, strange buzzing noises rattled his eardrums. He ran off, seeking a quieter spot on top of the kitchen counter.

Without warning, the entire laboratory building shook, its foundations cracking. Radsusky threw down her phone and ran into her lab, only to notice four ginormous robotish razors rose from the 3D model conceptualizer. While their bodies resembled electric razors, the cord morphed into some kind of segmented legs. The on-off-clean now lights turned into eyeballs. The bits and pieces of an aerodynamic structure wound up as a kind of wing. Thrusters became fire-shooting appendages. She let out a sigh.

Rough Woman

“Jeez, I can’t even leave for five to talk to my mother? By the look of things, it’s going to be rough from now on,” she said. “These guys aren’t going to play fair. Sheesh, I didn’t have a chance to insert the morals chip. Who’d even believe this? Can’t even think who to call to stop ’em. I’d better get out of here. This roof’s about to crash.”

Sure enough, as soon as Radsusky left the lab, immense bodies rose up from the tray and continued to grow in size and strength. As they did, the lab collapsed around them.

“Go away! Shoo! Beat it!” she yelled, “Go pick on someone your own size!”

One eyed her, raised its arm, set fire to the bushes, and headed towards her. Razor-Bot meant business, and she was its first order of destruction.

“KNOCK IT OFF,” she yelled back, and grabbed a piece of rubble. She flung it hard and fast, sending it directly into Razor-Bot’s eye.

“I’m fed up! Do you hear me–FED UP! I created you! How dare you treat me with such disrespect! Get out of here – NOW!”

Fed Up Woman

One more fling of her lab’s foundation smacked into Razor-Bot’s face. It sent a stream of fire in response. Fortunately, its siblings took off for the field next door, seeing newer venues to destruct. And they were heading right for her friend’s anti-battalion defenses!

“Oh, god…I better’d tell Susie! She’s going to be really pissed if they mess with her nuclear rockets. She just finished putting a new hood on the silo, too.”

She picked through the rubble of her lab and managed to locate her phone. Thank goodness it remained close to the surface. Pressing the speed dial number, Radsusky reached Susie quickly and explained the situation.

“When are you gonna learn?” Susie said, sounding as if she’d had enough of her shenanigans. “I’m really sick of having to chase after your experiments.”

“This’ll be the last time,” Radsusky promised.”

“Liar,” said Susie, and hung up the phone. In her living room stood her munitions cabinet. She glanced at the most suitable tactical anti-bot devices and selected the perfect destroyer.

Not a moment too soon.

Her floor rumbled and wavered. China clinked in the closets. The swag light swayed. “Guess that’s my signal to clean up this mess,” she said, and headed out the door.

Razor-Bots lumbered at a quick clip across her field, heading directly for her nuclear armaments.

“Not today,” Susie said as aimed right for the intruders. She gave the Bot Blaster’s trigger a tight squeeze and shot four times.

Shooting woman

The earth shook as their bot-bodies tumbled and fell, leaving welts in the field where they lay. For a moment, whirring noises could be heard from their insides, until a tall column of steam spewed forth.

“Guess it’s over with,” Susie mumbled as she headed towards them. She kicked the sides of each one of them, hearing only the echo of an empty body of graphene and the ruined promise of an ill-conceived accident gone awry.

Copyright Gretchen Weerheim June 15, 2016



Snap Science Fiction   Leave a comment

Space Lady

Since I have nothing else to write about, I’d thought I’d come up with a flash sci-fi story written especially for you! Oh, don’t worry, it’s complete with illustrations, so if you don’t like my prose, you have pictures to stare at!

Ready? Here we go…

Pay Day

“You little weenie! I’m gonna blast the f—— s— out of your freakin’ ass,” Trish Walker muttered. Not one to mess around with unscheduled attacks, she wrapped her fingers around the zapper.

Alkazoid taunted, “You couldn’t hit the side of chettle dock if it sat on your face. Why dontcha show some sense and give up like your pal, there?”

“Jim? What’s he got to do with anything? He’s all wheezed out after sucking down that bottle of potato water he stuffed in his pack. Fell out of the lander and bashed his helmet. Idiot.”

“What, so you’re picking up his mess? What are you, the cleaning lady?” sneered Alkazoid.

“Yeah, and I’m gonna finish the job right…now,” Trish said, giving the zapper an extra hard squeeze as she let loose. Crackling streams of electrodes sizzled Alkazoid smack in the center of his eye.

“Jeez! That f—— hurt!” Alkazoid screamed. “For that, you’re gonna pay.

Trish glanced at her colleague, Jim. A worthless sot, half the payload of their space cruiser hid his devil juice. Tossed out anything his drunken brain considered disposable, including food, munitions and air caches. Of course, she discovered this far too long into their misguided journey. They’d gotten word a wormhole existed only 37.65° left of Kronos. Jim steered the ship that many degrees to the right. Out of fuel and resources, they wound up on some hunk of rock with one insane piece of teal-shaded talking flesh.

“With what?” Trish yelled, continuing to lay on her zapper. “Buttons or good looks?”

“Ohhhh…god…my…head…” groaned Jim, entirely unaware of the jam Trish sought to end.

“Shut up!” Trish yelled, thrusting him downward with her unoccupied hand. She gave him a good, hard thunk on his helmet, hoping it inflicted even more pain.

“Aaaay…gimme a break…” Jim uttered as he passed out.

“No…you’ll pay with this,” Alkazoid said.

The last thing Trish saw was the reedy smile of his snaky lips as he tossed a red octagon towards her. Then…nothing…


She figured a couple of hours passed, maybe more. Her eyes fluttered open to an inexplicable vision of insane red madness. She and Jim were now babies, and instead of him sucking vodka out of a straw, he seemed to be ingesting it from the homelike teat of a maniacal machine. Its faint alcoholic odor drifted under her nose. He seemed utterly contented, laying on his back on the shelf lap of this metal mama. Its tentacles massaged Jim in a rather intimate fashion. Nearby, a kid played with what seemed to be a miniature version of their space cruiser. He chanted, in a sing-song manner, a little something about naughty people getting punished, becoming doomed and answering to karma’s deep, lingering force.

“Say…wait a minute,” she said aloud. She glanced down and around. “Something’s not right here.  Am I…is Jim…are we…babies?” Her feet dangled in air, her body held captive by a mesh sling as her arms stuck out from its sides. Nearby, a mechanical gizmo resembling a machine with an arm, lay on the ground.

“Mmmmm,” said Jim, happily slurping on his tubular teat.

“What’re you so happy about? We’re prisoners in metallic nursery,” said Trish.

“No,” said Jim. “We’re living in my fantasy. You see, when I saw that red thing come crashing in my direction, I remember thinking about a dream I had back on home base. When I woke up, I figured that dream might’ve been running through my sleep time again. But you know what? It’s real. We’re here. And if I remember correctly, that thing you were zapping at said something just before you passed out.”

“Me? You were already history,” Trish said.

“No…that teal thing-man gave up a few more words. Said better race towards your dreams – whoever gets there first wins. So I guess I won. Pretty sweet, huh? I can go on like this,” he said, sighing with pleasure.

Trish pressed her lips in anger. That bastard wasn’t going to win. It was then she became aware of a hard cylinder in her grip. She raised her hand and read the tiny inscription on its side: to go out, pull here.

“Whatcha doin’?” asked Jim, noticing Trish pulling on an object with her teeth.

“Game over,” Trish said, and spit out the pin into the grass.

Graphic Novel Projects   Leave a comment

On my Twitter feed, I follow all sorts of sci-fi creators. Writers, aficionados, artists, designers, editors, fans…everyone’s got my attention. While I simply don’t have time to click on every link I get, I do check out quite a few. That’s the beauty of Twitter – tons of information packed in a sliver.

It doesn’t take long to discover there’s a lot of people out there doing their literal best to breathe life into their loves. E-published works pop up all the time. So do gorgeous illustrations with nary a book to grace. But like many of us, the means to take these works to the next level is woefully absent. Let’s just say if .000000000000000000001 of the amount of money wasted on this year’s presidential was put towards good causes, including arts in all forms, this nation could nurture, educate and launch many artists careers.

So once that art teacher’s been let go, or the music teacher is split between 6 schools in the district, or grammar goes out the window when the English teacher teaches to the test, we all lose.

But I’m only slightly digressing here.

Determination will get you everywhere, and out of the ashes of worthy causes rose Kickstarter. For every project, there’s believers just like the you. Come up with a good idea, spread the word and eventually, if that project’s worthiness commands attention, Kickstarter investors will support even the most humble projects.

Two Tweets caught my attention recently, both graphic novel projects, using Kickstarter and other means to raise money for their projects. I like them both and thought I’d bring them to your attention.

Paradox Girl

“Paradox Girl” Credit: Cayti Elle Bouquin/Yishan Li

“Do you know what happens when you violate causality? By definition, nothing.” These are the opening words of the first “Paradox Girl,” written by Cayti Elle Bouquin, illustrated by Yishan Li, edited by Peter Bensley and published by Georgina Bensley. It’s the story of a girl who shifts back and forth in times so frequently, she runs into herself constantly…and therein lie the often humorous plot.

These dedicated artists wish to share Paradox Girl’s dream with all of you, but realize you might want to figure out who she is first (and actually, so would PG!). Their website introduces PG to you and shows the reader who charming she is. If you like what you read, there’s three different graphic novels to choose from available for purchase. They’d appreciate it if you bought a copy or two, plus left a little something in the tip jar. Join their mailing list and they’ll let you know when their next Kickstarter campaign begins.

Have Space

Credit: Eric Gignac

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel” is the second Kickstarter project that’s come across my Twitter feed. Since I can’t explain it any better than their web page does, I’m quoting it directly below:

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel is the second graphic novel adapted from Robert Heinlein’s Virginia Edition, which is the complete and definitive 46 volume collector’s set of all of Heinlein’s works. This follow-on project is approved by the copyright owner, the Heinlein Prize Trust and will be produced with the support of the Virginia Edition Publishing Company. The purpose of the Heinlein Prize is to encourage and reward progress in commercial space activities that advances Robert and his wife Virginia’s dream of humanity’s future in space. The Virginia Edition Publishing Company is responsible for the production and distribution of the authoritative text of all of Robert Heinlein’s published fiction and non-fiction – The Robert A. Heinlein: Virginia Edition Collection.”

Click on the above link and you’ll be take right to the Kickstarter page. Eric Gignac only has until July 16, 2016 to raise fund for his project. He’s more than halfway there, and if you’re will to share in his dream, show your support and donate.

As with both projects, your donations will go towards an artistic worthy cause, support science fiction folks just like yourself, and leave you with the warm and fuzzy feeling that your money didn’t go towards a campaign run by people who neither understand nor appreciate just how otherworldly and bizarre this year’s campaign has become (or fodder for yet another graphic novel?).

June’s Nighttime Sky   Leave a comment


Credit: earth

Look up, folks!

This month proves to be a bonanza for Mars and Saturn fans! Take a look in the southeast and you’ll notice the giant fishhook that is Scorpio. You can’t miss it and if you glance at the top three stars, they form a crooked line. Here’s a better example of the constellation:


Credit: H.A. Rey, “The Stars”

Mars slips across the southern sky, so incredibly bright, you can’t miss it. If you’ve been keeping your eye on it, you’ll notice every night it’s in a different spot, competing with Scorpio’s Antares (magnitude: 1.22). Mars is a fair distance ahead of Antares, so you can’t get them confused.

Saturn isn’t in as much of a hurry as Mars, but still commands attention. During June, the ringed planet is its closest to the Earth, and, as an added bonus, has its rings nicely tipped at a 26 degree angle, showing them off nicely for you. It, too, is in Scorpio, just above it.

Scorpio also happens to be one of my favorite constellations, glimmering all summer long. When I see it rise, in earnest, in May, I know summer isn’t far behind. It glimmers and shimmers. It never rises that high, but you can’t miss it when it’s here.

In the early morning sky, you can also see Comet Pan-STARRS near the constellation Capricorn low in the souther sky. It comes into view around 4:00 am.

If you happen to have a telescope, all of these are worth seeking out. Even a strong pair of binoculars make a difference, especially with the comet.

Here’s a brief video from NASA JPL with more details regarding Mars, Saturn and Comet Pan-STARRS. Take a moment this weekend and look south – nature will reward you with its charming beauty!



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