Tag Archives: cyborgs

The Idea Mill #23

It's been a while since I ran one of these out, but the news has been a little bit slow lately. I collect articles that pique my interest as a writer of speculative fiction. I have used some of the things from these posts, and might will use some of the stuff I bring you today.

Let's start out with the Tree of Death. The manchineel tree is a tropical plant that can even be found in Florida. This thing has more defenses than the acid filled creatures in Alien. It appears that everything about it is toxic; its fruit, sap, bark, leaves, everything.

It is written here that natives used to stake people out under the trees as a form of torture. The frequent rains would wash across the leaves and an drip onto the victims causing acidic type burns. Read the article I saw here.

From my point of view, this becomes a great murder weapon. Murder happens in all kinds of fiction and isn't limited to just mysteries and thrillers. It also lends some credence to any kind of alien environment you might want to create. These trees could also play into a global warming kind of story. They push their way north and south of the tropics to drive the people away as nature tries to recover some room for itself. Could be an interesting magical ingredient too.

The next section is a combination of two articles. Neural Dust is the name given to tiny implants into potentially human brains. There are two hopes, the first one being a way to treat some impairments like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The second part appeals to me, where it may allow some patients to control various robotic items. Here is the link to the first article.

The second article doesn't seem to come right out and name the technology, but appears to be the same idea. It puts a different spin on things with a warning about protecting our own brains from hackers. Here is the link to the second article.

These two really appeal to me, because I outlined a novel last summer about bio-hackers and grinders. I have a hunch these ideas will work their way straight into that book. (I just need to get finished with The Yak Guy Project.) It also fits right into something I was working on yesterday about a futuristic baseball league called The Enhanced League.

So what would you do with these? There are any number of mind control ideas that could happen. Need an innocent person to pull of the heist of the century, drop off the ransom, commit a terrorist act. Here's the reference point to make it work. It gives a whole new spin to date rape drugs, political puppets backed by corporate entities, or even a cyber-zombie outbreak when long term implants go wrong.

Finally, the US has authorized researchers to implant human stem cells into the brains of animal embryos. They've even dubbed the creations as Chimeras. Again, the hope involves various brain disorders and extends to growing transplantable organs. Read it yourself, right here.

What could possibly go wrong? Let's explore that. Need some science to back up your Planet of the Apes science fiction, here it is. Need spies to infiltrate a secure government facility? How about some human intelligent rats, or aerial ravens. Nobody would look twice at the sparrow outside the White House.

Part of these posts involves me describing a schlocky story using all the elements. This is always tough, but this one comes with special problems. The Enhanced League and the Grinders novel are screaming at me, and I don't want to spoil anything. Top that off with the manchineel tree not fitting into the science fiction base of the other articles and it gets exponentially tougher. Let's see where this goes…

Iguanas are immune to the poisons of the manchineel tree. A group of genetically enhanced iguanas are forced to plant the poisonous trees around a perimeter to build an invasion camp. Might as well use Florida since they already have iguanas.

The President's brain has been hacked via the national security Neural Dust chip he is required to have. He authorizes a secure facility inside the perimeter where evil scientists will create an army of chimera cyborgs who control their weapons via their own neural chips. Imagine cyborg gorillas and minotaurs marching upon Washington.

The only hope is an ethical scientist who must break her personal code and accept her own Neural Dust implant before it's too late.

Okay, that sucks, but individually there are some great story elements here. They might not drive an entire novel, but a couple of them could. I know I'm going to use neural dust in one, if not two, stories. I may use chimeras too if only as designer pets to do some world building.

What would you do? Manchineel smoke in your voodoo? Designer organ farming for the super rich? A cultural rift between those who are all born lithe and beautiful due to embryo manipulation and those who have to take what God gives them? Let me hear it in the comments.


Filed under The Idea Mill

The Power of Six, on Lisa Burton Radio

Coming at you with one point twenty-one jigawatts of power, this is Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today we’re having our first ever open-mike show.

I brought some old albums, like The Pretenders, and some Joan Jett if we run into a soft patch. So let’s get those phones ringing.

It looks like we have a caller already. “Hello caller, welcome to the show.”

“Show? What show?”

“This is Lisa Burton Radio. What’s your name, please?”

“I’m Mark, in Maintenance. Listen, I know this sounds crazy, but I’m trapped and need your help.”

“Shouldn’t you be calling emergency services? I’m just a radio host.”

“Don’t you think I tried that. The phones are out in the entire building. Maybe your broadcast will reach someone who can help me.”

“Where are you calling from?”

“I broke into the lab. There’s a box here, labeled Trans-Narrative Broadcast. No idea what it does. There’s only one button on it, I pressed it and somehow got you. Now can you help or not?”

“I’ll try. What seems to be the problem, Mark?”

“Please don’t think I’m crazy, but, but, the whole building is filled with these … Creatures.”

“Creatures. Like Aliens?”

“No, nothing like that. They were humans a moment ago. My colleagues. Then they started changing. They’re… Deformed. Like an amputated mass of flesh and metal.”

“Like cyborgs?”

“Yeah, like monsters.”

“Cyborgs aren’t monsters.”

“Well these are. They kill everyone they meet. Or change them into one of them. I used a maintenance shaft to flee to the lab. I hoped to meet someone, but the lab is empty.”

“Did the cyborgs kill them?”

“No idea. You know, maybe a virus got into the building. They work on some pretty weird stuff around here. Oh God, what do I do?”

“Okay, keep calm. Where are you?”

“Do you know the new AI-controlled building in the city center? The one that just opened up last month?”

“Sorry, haven’t heard of it.”

“Where the hell have you been living lady? Under a–”

“Hooking up my umbilical cable and tracing your call. Got you, the Internet says your building is entirely run by artificial intelligence. Have you tried talking to the building? Maybe it can show you a way out.”

“All the terminals here are busted. Perhaps there’s one outside. No way I’m heading out there, though.”

“The Internet site says the AI was programmed by someone named Nicholas Rossis, have you tried reaching him?”

“I already told you the phones are out. How about you dial the cops instead of asking all these questions? Or, better yet, the Army. Wait, hang on–”

“What? What’s happening, Mark?”

“It’s a chopper. Forget calling the cops. It looks like the entire Police Department is out there. Oh God, they can’t get in.”

“Stay with me. Craig’s texting me. He says your story sounds familiar, and you have to head out.”

“Are you nuts? I’m not leaving. Those things are everywhere.”

“Mark, listen to me. You have to go, right now. The corridor is empty. Head West. You’ll meet the Head of the medical sector and his secretary. You can all use the elevator to get out.”

“I’m not doing that. You’re supposed to use the stairs in case of an emergency.”

“Yeah, if the emergency is an earthquake or fire. The rules change in the case of a mutant hoard attack.”

“Elevator, then what?”

“It looks like the AI has control after that. Should be simple after you reach the elevator.”

“Fine, but if this thing has batteries, I’m taking you with me. I just have to unplug it, and then–”

“Mark? Are you still with us, Mark?”

“Mark?… Sorry listeners, we seem to have lost the connection. If you want to find out what happened to Mark, you can read the whole story over at Nicholas Rossis’ blog.”


Nicholas is a versatile author, and has written three books of short stories. I’ve read two of them and can vouch for them.

This is Nicholas’ newest book. He has it on sale until the end of the month for 99¢. Take advantage of this offer, and pick up your copy here, Honest Fibs.

This is Nicholas’ second book of short stories, and it’s a good one. Check out Infinite Waters.



The Power of Six is the one that’s on sale for 99¢. Don’t miss out on this promotion. This is where Mark’s story is, and after you read it on Nicholas’ blog, come back and pick up your copy.


Nicholas C. Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of his baby daughter and two silly cats, all of whom claim his lap as home. His children’s book, Runaway Smile, has won the Gellett Burgess Children’s Book Award.

What readers are saying about Nick’s fantasies:

“Most avid readers still have books from their childhood which they read over and over again. ‘Runaway Smile’ has joined the list.”

“From the very first sentence I realized I was not reading a book, I was going on an adventure.”

For more on Nick or just to chat, visit him on his blog: www.nicholasrossis.me or on:






Filed under Lisa Burton Radio