Tag Archives: science fiction

The Idea Mill #31

It’s been a long time since we visited the Idea Mill, here on Entertaining Stories. I’ve kept my eyes open for articles, and they haven’t been all that good lately. In typical fashion, I  always wait until I  have three – but two good ones show up at the same time, leaving me with four.

If this is your first visit to the Idea Mill, I  have a category in the sidebar where you can check out the previous posts. I  use push feeds to send me news about things that might help my fiction. Think of them like Muse food. I  can’t possibly use them all, and maybe something will bring your own Muse to the table.

Our first article involves humans returning to the moon one day. Scientists have long speculated there might be underground lava tubes on the moon that would make a great location for a human colony. A team of Japanese and American scientists proved the theory, and they even identified a suitable location.

In speculative fiction, you can always change things up to suit yourself. Maybe you want Mars instead; shouldn’t be a huge leap of faith. Maybe you want some basis for a fantasy where one of your races lives in underground colonies. This could be a starting point for your research.

I really like the image in the article that shows a huge underground cell holding a city the size of Philadelphia with plenty of room to spare. If you think of Earth’s atmosphere as being similar to an ocean, then why couldn’t you fill the entire cell with oxygen and allow the inhabitants to moon-hop without space suits? I think I could sell that in a story. If you get plants to grow, they might even help with the oxygen. You can read the article here.

That giant cell where the people must live is also a perfect setting for horror of some kind. Help is a long way off, and you can’t just run away.

Our next one involves a new finding that the squirrel fur trade may have helped spread leprosy in medieval England. I think what amazes me the most is the idea there even was a squirrel fur trade. I mean squirrels never seemed to make much of an impact on the red carpet decades ago when fur was in fashion. Marilyn Monroe never posed snuggled inside a squirrel fur stole and nothing else. I can see trade like this spreading diseases way back then. They didn’t have some of the regulations, FDA, and other folks watching over them.

Need a fantasy character who hasn’t been done to death? Tired of burley woodsmen and handsome princes? How about a squirrel fur trader? How about a bunch of orphans who catch squirrels to survive? Could there be a fur trader’s guild in your fantasy city? Maybe even a guild war when opossum fur starts becoming more economical?

Learn about the spread of disease by squirrel fur trading at this site.

Our next article involves an idea that’s been floating around for a long time. Mosquitos carry a lot of diseases that are harmful to humans. They are also hard to control using current methods, because the old methods were so devastating to the environment. When I first read about this, the idea was to introduce a deadly mosquito venereal disease into the larger population in hopes that it would kill them all off. That idea never went away, it seems. Today it’s back with a new hair-brained basis. The FDA has approved a method of using sterile male mosquitos to introduce into the wild. In theory these would mate with the bad mosquitos (apparently the bad ones are always females) leaving all the eggs as duds.

Now, if this could actually happen, repeated treatments could lead to an extinction of the bad mosquitos. Their method cracks me up, though. They will produce these mosquitos in a lab, then hand separate the males from the females, before boxing them up to ship to areas where Zika and yellow fever are prominent.

If they’re going to use labor to hand separate the mosquitos, I almost think they’d be better off to send that same labor into the swamps with fly-swatters. Anyway, you can read the article here, then we’ll speculate about it.

Maybe you caught on to the term in the article about weaponized mosquitos. If they can manipulate the little buggers to this extent, it isn’t much of a leap to turn them into biological weapons to use against humans. Some of this might even play into my next novel that I’m going to call Grinders. (I need to give it some thought.) Maybe you write thrillers, and can pit the CDC against a terrorist cell utilizing weaponized mosquitos to carry out its evil plans. Maybe you want to project this out a few years and have the Endangered Species Act trying to protect the now-endangered bad mosquitos. It could be CDC vs the Endangered Species Act, while the terrorists are getting away.

Like I said, I hold some of these articles for months, then always seem to get two at the last moment. This time is no exception, so we have one more. Where the mosquito article bordered on mad science, this one moves right in and sets up shop. Scientists have been merging human and rat brains in a laboratory. They even have a cute name for the human parts called organoids.

This one plays right into my Grinders novel, and I already have rats involved. The article explores the idea of ethics and rights if the animals are part human, and questions what kind of consciousness they might have. I’ve got news for them, all animals are conscious to a degree. They all protect their babies, understand the need for food and water, and many are much more incredible.

Writing a courtroom type story that’s reflective of the Scopes Monkey Trials, one where eventually a rat testifies, seems like low hanging fruit to me. It could be good, but it’s just not what I write. I can see a plague of intelligent rats causing all kinds of problems. Maybe they set up street gangs and start taking lunches from school children. They form organized raids on restaurants and bakeries. Maybe they even fight back by using swarms of biting rats to kill those who oppose them.

It wouldn’t take much of a stretch to use other species if you have the science behind this project. You could go all Michael Chichton on the story. Read the article right here.

One of the fun parts, and it gets harder with four articles, is to rough out a story using all the articles. I have space, a medieval fur trade, and two modified animals to deal with…

A colony of humans is living on the moon in a fully functional underground city. They are dependent upon Earth for many of the things they need for survival. These people are dependent upon a line of super intelligent rats to help them delve deeper into the lava tubes. The rats can explore places we cannot go, and assess whether it’s worth digging through to the next area.

It’s cold on the moon, and the rats want something warmer than their natural fur. A shipment of squirrel fur arrives from Earth, and a cottage industry is born – making fur coats for rats. The fur is infected with a virus that is deadly to humans. The best hope is in the form of modified mosquitos that will transmit a cure for the disease. However, the cure is deadly for the rats.

While the ship carrying the cure is on its way, the rats rise up to destroy the humans before they can destroy the rats.

That’s it, some ideas to kick your Muse in the pants; check. A corny outline to have some fun with; check.

I’ve got to say the last two have me thinking, and I think the Research Sirens are on their way to the writing cabin.

Advertisements

51 Comments

Filed under The Idea Mill

The Bete goes on, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonHey all you space jockeys and interplanetary folks, and particularly cat lovers today, you’ve just landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show out there that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Darma. She’s a nineteen your old scientist who crash landed on an unexplored planet. “Welcome to the show, Darma.”

“Yo.”

“It seems like you guys are doing okay, and making the best of this new planet. My bio says you made friends with someone called the Bete. What can you tell us about your new friends?”

“They’re pretty damn capable, y’know. Decisive, practical. They respect intelligence. Sure, they’ve got some extra abilities. Each of them can do useful stuff like finding and telepathy, firestarting. Truthsense. Teleporting. And K’Ti is incredible at healing. She fixed my shattered hand like that. It’s totally true, Lisa. And, then, there’s the Prime, those that can also change into usually a badass animal. But really, what could be sexier than hanging out with someone who could, at any moment, turn into a gorgeous black panther. I mean, what a thrill. And they are bad to the bone. Xander’s the strongest, as the dragon, but I’ve got a soft spot for the panther.”

“It seems odd to form friendships with people who are so different. I’m guessing they aren’t all that different, are they?”

“Really, I don’t get what the big deal is, Lisa. Most of the time, they’re just like anyone else and the folks that seem to be weirded out are just overreacting. Sometimes they’re stupid kids, like Laren, pig-headed and quick to fight. Sometimes they’re insufferable bores like Cil. They’ve got dark sides and flaws just like you and me. And the way they’re treated by some of the humans, it’s no wonder so many of them we’re keeping at arms’ length until, y’know, I started walking through walls and then I, well, turned into a Kula tiger. Even Laren’s impressed when I do both at the same time. Anyway, Lisa, they had grown to accept me even before all that, but I think it helps I’m in the same boat with the rest of them.”

“That sounds pretty cool to me. How did you acquire your abilities?”

“K’Ti’s the one that spotted it. K’Ti knew it as a magic enhancer from the old planet, even out in the wild, but the rest of the Bete were clueless. Then the explorers said it was a known mutagen that caused enhanced talents and shapeshifting abilities if you eat enough of it. Well, it grows like mad upstream of the river so it’s in fish and game, the water. Only a matter of time before some of the humans were going to find out they weren’t so human. Couple already have and I’m one of ’em. Though, so far, I’m the only Prime, y’know, a shapeshifter.”

“How do the rest of the survivors feel about the Bete?”

“It depends and a lot of it depends on where you came from on the world we grew up on. People like the Captain and my teacher, Corrina Pensa, they’re more fascinated and impressed, maybe grateful the Bete have been willing to fight on our side. And me. They’re actively supporting the Bete, helping to protect them.

“Then, Lisa, there are a whole bunch of kids who grew up in the cities back home and never even heard of the Bete or magic like K’Ti’s. I don’t know that they have an opinion, yet. Just depends on who makes the compelling story.

“But there are some that are freaking fanatics. Folks that grew up in the fringes within range of the Bete camp, people who might have a stray mutant show up in their own village. If they found one, they’d kill them out of hand, first chance. Laren, I mentioned him early, the panther? He was one of those but his mother, when she found out, instead of turning him in, tried to keep it a secret. When her village found out, they chained him up to die outside the village where the dire wolves and wild Kula tigers roam, while they tortured his mother to death. Just for hiding his nature. While he listened, Lisa. He was eight years old. These people are wild-eyed fanatics and what they lack in numbers, they make up for in zeal. I mean, these folks are scary.

“When the rumor went around after we crashed that K’Ti was healing people—healing people—some of them came to attack and would have raped her and who knows what if the Bete hadn’t stopped them.”

“I’ll never understand why everyone can’t just get along. Your abilities could be a real benefit to the whole community if everyone would just embrace that.”

“K’Ti—she’s only sixteen but she’s wise beyond her years—says that someday we’ll all be Bete we’ll just end up hating ourselves, but what it really is, Lisa, is just dumb. It’s like being human, to some Bete, or being Bete, to some humans, would tell you all you need to know, but that’s not it. Everybody’s a person, an individual. Kert is a doofus and so is Laren, but they’re both good people. In the end, who you are is a lot more important than what you are.”

“I know, right. Believe me, I’ve been the outsider, and people don’t react too well to a robot girl sometimes. Maybe a new planet is a better place to live the way you want.”

“Well, it wasn’t that easy. Crash landing on an unknown planet, we weren’t really ready for it, you know. Carnivorous plants—K’Ti helped identify those—packs of attacking wolves and the bugs. You think you’ve seen it all until you’re face to face with an ant as tall as you are riding a freaking dragonfly as big as a small dragon when all you’ve got to defend yourself is a dull machete. That was the Klixit, Lisa. Wouldn’t want to do that again. I mean, we worked something out, but for a while there, it looked pretty hopeless. Then we had to deal with other bugs. Smaller, but deadly with disease.”

“That figures. You couldn’t just crash into the Planet of Eden.”

“Well, no, but, so far the climate’s been terrific and Laren found some native fauna that worship cats like gods. And we’ve got the shipcats. You ever heard of shipcats, Lisa? They are so cool. Specially bred for space travel, they pick people and can communicate with them. And those little buggers are damn fine fighters including a neurotoxin in their venom. That’s right, venom. Don’t get on their bad sides. Since Laren and I are both cats in our other forms, we can talk to any of them.”

“Wow, cat lovers are going to dig these books. I mean shipcats, tigers, and a panther. It’s almost like a shipcat could be a familiar, since they can tell you what they see and hear. Of course, they’re cats, and aren’t prone to following directions.”

“Yeah, they help though, but only as much or in the way they want to. Rather like regular cats. Only with venom. With the ship crashed and no fuel, we’re not getting off this rock so we’re going to have to make it work here and there are still a few unanswered questions like the 10 m high flood lines and the binary pair to our planet that, I swear, is getting closer, though I haven’t verified that with readings. And there are the wolf packs that attack but smell like man—except not any of the men that came with us. Could be a whole heaping helping of trouble still to come.”

“Cats and dogs are natural enemies. Maybe not a problem for the others, but you and Laren should be careful. Any closing comments for our listeners today?”

“In the meantime, I’ve got my hands full keeping Laren out of trouble, helping us develop useful inventions for our nascent colony and flouting Bete and human traditions in turn. Gonna be a heckuva ride, I’m betting. Wouldn’t miss it.”

“If you’d like to learn more about Darma and the Bete, pick up copies of The Beast Within and Nine Lives, by Stephanie Barr.

 

“Don’t forget to help me pay the bills around here, by using those sharing buttons today. Darma and Stephanie would do the same for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

There should never have been a space battle, certainly not one that sent my ship full of fleeing children across the whole damn universe. Nor was I prepared to land on a planet I knew nothing about and would never be able to escape. But of all the things I wasn’t prepared for, it was to find myself dependent on a tiny group of shapeshifting magic users among the refugees, shapeshifters hated by my own fellow humans and yet the only chance any of us had to survive.

I have now seen the shapeshifters, called the Bete, organize and build when we were still chaos inside my ship, even though we had adults and they didn’t. I have seen them repulse the horrific foes that wander this new world. change into fantastic beasts for our protection, and even heal our wounds.

I’m told they are demons and monsters that cannot be trusted, and yet, I have found that our fate relies not only on this group but the leadership and judgment of a boy half my age and many times my power. How am I to hate him? Who is really the beast in this?

The “demon” that saves us or the hatred that divides us?

The “demon” that saves us or the hatred that divides us?

I clearly did not bring enough whisky.

Some language and violence.

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Of all the ridiculous turn of events, that hot-headed interloper, Laren, took charge when a flurry of crises descended. Our leader was downed by some unknown disease, our healer mauled in our leader’s delirium, and the humans, as I always suspected, were gearing for war to take us out.

But Laren has discarded his only redeeming quality, his overwhelming distrust and hatred for humanity. That engineer human, is undoubtedly the cause, seducing that cat with her reason. Who would have expected that Laren, known for his short temper, would react with logic and caution as we tried to prevent the disease from taking out our most powerful Bete, save our leader and the healer, both in critical condition, and deal with the human camp, now under the power of those who consider us demons?

I’m not saying Laren wanted to be leader, but he stood firm when older and wiser heads, like mine, argued to leave the humans to their own self-destruction. And Bete and humans alike backed him, including his girlfriend who is now a Bete like us. What will happen now that he plans to attack the humans head-on, rescuing those that are friendly and putting a stop to the faction that wants to take us down? What is with all these new powers the Bete and even some humans are developing? What does this mean for our future?

Surely that stupid cat is not fit to lead us. So, why is he doing so damn well?

Sequel to Beast Within. Contains some language and violence.

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Stephanie BarrAlthough Stephanie Barr is a slave to three children and a slew of cats, she actually leads a double life as a part time novelist and full time rocket scientist. People everywhere have learned to watch out for fear of becoming part of her stories. Beware! You might be next!

Facebook | Twitter | Writing Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Newsletter

Take a fun quiz to find out which of Stephanie’s protagonist’s you’re most like here.

Take this fun quiz to find out which of Stephanie’s books best suits you.

Stephanie maintains two additional blogs, one dedicated to rocket science, and one dedicated to manga.

18 Comments

Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

Fresh from the microwave, it’s Macabre Macaroni

Lisa BurtonWhat if you were offered a front row seat to the end of the world. Would you take it? It’s a sight no humans have ever witnessed before.

What if that seat came with a price? You get to go on, but you have to throw the switch. Could you do it? Could you justify this act somehow? Someone is going to do it, but the price of survival is you taking the action yourself.

Would you weigh the consequences? Would you feel like a lottery winner, or prefer to move on with everyone else.

This little snippet explores this choice. I hope you enjoy it.

Collateral Damage

Lieutenant Scott Davies pulled the Humvee up to the bunker and parked. He left the keys in the ignition and the door open.

Captain Rhodes stood beside the airtight door the Navy provided to the project. “Scott.”

“Byron.”

“Let’s get inside and monitor the phone. Close the hatch behind you.”

“We still have time, Scott. I want to breathe the air and listen to the night sounds.”

Byron put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I understand. Secure that vehicle and make it quick.”

“Why? Who’s going to steal it?” He removed the keys and locked the automobile.

Byron never answered, having headed inside. Scott followed, but left the hatch open.

“You take the south button, I’ll take the north,” Byron said. “We will place our hands on our buttons and the commands will be press, turn. Execute your move immediately, no countdown. Understand?”

“Yes, Sir, but–”

“But what? We have our orders.”

“Maybe the phone will ring.”

“We’re already thirty seconds overdue. Hand on your button.”

“My sister and her husband are out there somewhere, you know.”

“They’ll never know what happened. None of them will. You trained for this moment, and volunteered for it I might add. Failure to execute is considered treason.”

Scott placed his hand on the south button. At Byron’s command he executed the moves exactly as practiced. “It’s just another drill, right? The phone will ring and we’ll have to stand down, won’t we?”

Byron pointed to the countdown clock on the wall. Ten minutes. “Not this time.”

Scott headed back to the hatch.

“Where do you think you’re going? We have supplies for two months then the shuttle will come.”

“Byron, I respect your rank, but we have ten minutes. I want to hear the insects one last time. Feel the cool night air, look at the glow of the city lights on the clouds.”

“Alright, I’ll go with you. Do you think we’re wrong tonight?”

“Orders. We follow orders, don’t we?”

“Politics, religion, drugs, global warming, it all ends tonight.”

“I get it. No more terrorism, no more suicide bombers, whatever. I sat through the same training you did. No more butterflies, flowers, tigers, or anything else either.”

“The sea will mostly survive. There are some remote islands that will be untouched. Those are the ones we’ll inhabit once the orbiter decides it’s all clear. They’ll send a shuttle, Scott, I promise.”

“Do we even want them to? Maybe we’d be better off to wait outside with everyone else. How much time left?”

Byron peeked back inside. “Eight minutes.” He leaned against the bunker wall and looked up. “I wonder how many people are looking up at that moon right now, completely oblivious.”

“Lovers, children catching fireflies, old couples rocking on the porch.”

“Terrorists, smugglers at sea, fanatics, zealots.”

“That’s the point though. We can kill the people, but not the ideas. People are going to disagree over some things.”

“Yeah, but according to the big brains, not anymore. Defending our way of life is no longer sustainable. Eventually we won’t be able to keep ahead of the arms race. That’s why they poured everything into the orbiter and the seed bank.”

“Who got to choose entrants onto the orbiter?”

“You can’t worry about that stuff tonight. They made tough decisions, and we’re taking tough actions. The reboot of Planet Earth starts in… three minutes. We have the rest of our lives to debate whether it was a mistake or not. Come on, Scott, let’s get inside.”

They went inside and Byron sealed the hatch. “We have books, games, and food downstairs. Maybe we should get to it.”

“Who decided what was appropriate to survive in the new regime?”

“I don’t know, man. You have to accept some things as fact.”

“We could still stop it, you know.”

“This is a one shot deal. We can’t wait around for debate, then do it later. This is happening and there’s nothing we can do.”

“But we could, Byron. We could.”

“It requires two of us acting in concert, and I’m not acting.”

Scott slid open a tiny slot and looked through a foot of darkened glass.”

“What are you doing?”

“Taking the last look at everything. Art, literature, music, that all dies too.”

“Remember your training. We’ve had a year to wrap our minds around this. There’s meditation space downstairs, and it sounds like you could use it.”

“And I will, but I’ll see this first.” Scott wiped zinc oxide around his eyes and face. “The brains are doing the same thing as the terrorists you know. They’re forcing their will upon everyone else.”

“I’ve had the same thoughts, and I don’t want to see it. I’ll meet you downstairs. Do you want me to microwave a burrito for you?”

“No. I went to a nice French restaurant before I came here, and put it on a credit card. It’s not like they’ll ever collect.”

“Looks like you’ve found some acceptance in all this. No more West Nile Virus.”

“Political campaign season.”

“Spam email.”

“Split shifts, required overtime.”

“Road construction.”

“Sounds like you’ve found some comfort. Besides, you can always remind yourself that you were just following orders.”

***

Lisa here again. If you’re enjoying this year’s Macabre Macaroni, there are more of them available in the sidebar. The category is “Short Stories and Vignettes.” Craig also produced several books of this stuff and at 99¢ each they’re a steal. You can find those on his Amazon Author Page.

46 Comments

Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes

Quantum Wanderlust, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonWelcome to a very special edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we have something fun going on today. Thirteen outstanding authors have teamed together to bring you an anthology of short stories called Quantum Wanderlust.

In the interest of full disclosure, Craig has a story in the collection too.

Today, we’re chatting with Alberta who is an aerospace engineer. “Welcome to the show, Alberta.”

“Thank you, Lisa. I’m excited to be on your show. I’ve never been on the radio before. And call me Abbi, please. Alberta makes me think of my mother when she is angry with me.”

“What led you to working in the aerospace industry?”

“I’ve always been quite the science geek. When my schoolmates were playing with Barbie and plastic jewelry, I was building spaceships with my brother’s Lego. I never really had to decide what to do after high school, Polytech in Turin sounded like the only viable option. After that I applied to ESA, the European Space Agency, for an internship and the rest is history. There are so many possibilities in space, you can’t even imagine. Or maybe you can. But what really attracted me was the travel itself. The challenge is covering unimaginable distances as fast as possible, bringing astronauts as near as possible to the speed of light. Actually, getting there would change our perception of space but also of time.”

“Of time? How so?”

“You need to think about time as another kind of dimension, just like space. Einstein taught us that everything constantly travels through space-time at the speed of light. This motion is usually ‘spread’ on these two dimensions and it can be distributed differently. If an object is still in space, it’s only moving through time. When it moves in space too, its motion through time gets slower. This slowing down is infinitesimal in day-to-day life, so we don’t feel it. But when the speed of an object gets near to the speed of light, its motion in time slows down significantly. Are you still with me?”

“I think so. You’re saying that when your speed increases, the flow of time slows down.”

“Exactly! The point is time is going at the usual speed at your starting point, so if you go back after a while, time would have passed much faster for those who stayed behind. It would be like going into the future. And this is amazing! If we can reverse the process too, we could go back and forth in time. I can’t stop thinking about the possibilities. We should devote so much more to this kind of research.”

“Abbi, that sounds like it’s almost an obsession. What caused you to dedicate your entire career to time travel and all it could bring?”

“Well, it’s– Usually I don’t talk about this. People tend to regard me as a mad person when I do, but the fact is I actually travelled in time once. I was only five years old. My brother and I were playing in the garden at my parent’s house in Italy. We went into my father’s shack and, when we came out, boom! We were in the future. My memories are a bit foggy and I discovered what really happened only recently, but it was life-changing for me. I had a glimpse of the future, my future. I know what was bound to happen, I knew what I was destined for. How many people can say the same? From then on, all I had to do was work to make that future real. And that’s what I did.”

“My bio indicates that Pietro didn’t handle this quite the way you did. He seems to think you shouldn’t interfere in the process. Does this cause any stress between the two of you?”

“My brother is – how can I put it – quite unscientific in his approach to life. I work with facts and figures, he prefers to deal with feelings and purpose. Pete wasn’t as curious as I was to understand the how, he was more preoccupied with the why. He doesn’t approve of my work and tried over and over to talk me out of this. I want to make time travel real, he is sure the chance to go back and forth through time shouldn’t be accessible to everyone. He says it could be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. But who are we to decide for everyone? Needless to say, Pete wasn’t happy to discover I was working on a prototype of the time machine.”

“Wait… You already have a time machine?”

“Well, sort of. ESTEC is a great place for an aerospace engineer to work, but time travel isn’t exactly their priority. So I started working with a group of colleagues who were interested in my ideas. We borrowed a place and some equipment–“

“Borrowed?”

“There is a lot of unused space in the basement under ESTEC exhibition, you know. And there is a lot of scrap material unsuitable for the main projects. Let’s say we hate wasting. When things became bigger we found a… sponsor. I can’t reveal his name but I can tell you, he sees the potential in our research and he is passionate about this kind of science.”

“You’ve really put a lot into this, and I hope it works out for you, and for childhood Alberta too. Don’t you find it interesting that you’re creating a loop for yourself? Childhood Alberta shows up, adult Abbi has to help her return to her own time. This fuels the interest in time travel research and starts all over again.”

“We made great strides in this field, but we still know very little. I’d like to make further tests on this, to see if this loop thing is something we can change or if it’s beyond our control. Would it have changed anything had I stayed in Amsterdam that day, had I never met my child-self? Or space-time continuum would have found a way to bring me here anyway? I know this sounds a lot like talking about fate, and it doesn’t sound a lot like a scientist, but great discoveries require something like a leap of faith. Just think about what time travel could mean for future generations. We could have a look at the past and learn from our mistakes or see the outcome of our decisions in the future. I’m not saying everyone should have this chance, but small groups of selected people sent at the right time in the right place could work wonders.”

“It’s an exciting discovery, no doubt. Whatever the ramifications, the world just changed and I, for one, can’t wait to see what develops. Any closing remarks for our guests today?”

“Oh, well. I’m not… I don’t know… My brother is the one to go to for motivational speeches.”

“Don’t worry about it, Abbi. You can always come back in time and redo the show so you can leave some awesome remarks.

“Please use those sharing buttons on your way out today. Quantum Wanderlust is a free book, and all the authors would appreciate you helping spread the word. I’ll include a purchase link on the website, but since it’s free it would really help if you could pick your copy up today. Clusters of downloads really help with Amazon’s rankings.

“If you’re feeling extra generous, you could add it to your reading list on Goodreads too.

“For Quantum Wanderlust, and Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

Quantum WanderlustWhat if you had all the time in the world?

Thirteen authors answer that question with short stories about time travel. Go back in time to right a wrong, forward to see the future. No jump is too large, no method unfeasible, no lesson beyond learning.

• Visit the past to learn a family secret.

• See the formation of a future dictatorship.

• Assume responsibility for weaving the fabric of time.

• Travel back in time to WWII.

• Use a family heirloom to solve problems.

• Wear an inheritance to visit ancestors.

• Leave a dystopian future for the hope of something better.

• Make history come true in an unexpected way.

• Fight evil fairies to protect a chosen angel.

• Live with the childhood memory of visitors until the day they arrive.

• Seek medical help for a memory issue and get way more than bargained for.

• Discover that with great power comes great responsibility.

• Uncover the secrets of a pharaoh’s tomb and curse.

Do the characters observe or interact? Is the outcome better or worse than the original timeline? Read these stories to learn how far they go, how they get there, and what happens when they return.

The scope is virtually limitless, definitely timeless.

Irene’s story in Quantum Wanderlust is called Children of Time.

Irene Aprile has been writing since she was a child, but she decided to pursue her passion only recently. During her detour from writing, she read tons of novels, took a degree in Chemistry and got married to an amazing patient man who puts up with all her notebooks and papers scattered all around their house.

Now she lives a double life: chemist by day, writer at night. She loves many kinds of stories and works with multiple genres. Her chick-lit Secrets of a Handbag is due later this year. In the meantime, she is working on Undercover, the first volume in her science-fiction/spy story series.

When she isn’t chained to a laboratory counter or her laptop, she loves spending time with her family, shopping for books, handbags and shoes (more than she can read, use and wear), and falling in love with TV series.

You can get in touch with her through her website http://ireneaprile.com or through these social media links:

E-mail | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

35 Comments

Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

I’m included in another Anthology

I was invited months ago to submit a story to an anthology. I spent a portion of the summer working on it, and we’re nearly ready to publish. Today is the cover reveal for Quantum Wanderlust. All the stories are about time travel in one way or another. Let me know what you think of the cover, and I’ll keep you posted when it actually publishes.

***

AIW Press is proud to reveal the cover for Quantum Wanderlust.

Spring Forward, Fall Back

That reminds you of changing the clocks, right? When we talk about the passage of time, it’s usually in short bursts—seconds, minutes, hours—. Or slightly longer chunks—weeks, months, years.

What if it was limitless? What if you could go forward or back, in any size segment you wanted? Decades, centuries, eons? Would you go back and change your life? Go forward and see your future?

We are excited to share thirteen short stories crafted by very talented authors that will take you forward and back through time.

If you could travel through time, what would you do?

40 Comments

Filed under Writing

A Grave Misunderstanding, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonHello, and welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I’m stoked to introduce this week’s guest. It’s my first time interviewing another robot. “Welcome to the show, Smithers.”

“It is my distinct pleasure, Lisa.”

“Smithers, you’re in the studio with me, but our listeners can’t see you. I’m excited to meet an advanced model, and you look as human as I do. In fact, I think you look a bit like Peter O’Toole.”

“Yes, that is very perceptive of you. In fact, most of us in the Simdroid 3000 Series resemble Peter O’Toole. Our human creator, Darius Hawthorne, has a great affection for O’Toole, particularly his role in Lawrence of Arabia. That’s why he has ten other simdroids in the mansion who look like me. Our voices vary, however. You know, Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, and so on. Oh, and then there’s the upstairs maid, who has the voice of Marilyn Monroe. My voice, as you will certainly note, is the actual mellifluous voice of none other than the late Richard Burton.”

“Great voice, and great last name, if I do say so myself. My voice is an amalgamation of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vanessa Williams, and a lady I thought sounded nice on a telenovella. Now my bio says you are a butler at Hawthorne Mansion. Butlers always have all the dirt. What kind of things go on at Hawthorne Mansion?”

“Until yesterday, I would have said nothing much. Polishing, cleaning, tidying, the usual butlerly stuff. But the murder has changed all that, you see, and not just any ordinary murder, but a murder that defies logic, at least any logic I’ve been given in my programming.”

“Why, what a wonderful puzzled expression you have generated!

“Let me explain. The gentlemen I am helping with this case, Detective Simon Grave and his near invisible partner, Sergeant Barry Blunt, call the murder a locked-room mystery, but with a twist. Instead of the victim, poor Miss Epiphany Jones, being locked in the room dead as can be, all of the so-called prime suspects—seven in all—were locked in the room, myself among them. Not that the butler did it, understand. Oh, my, who programmed your expressions? They are quite delightful.

“At any rate, we don’t know who did it, and I don’t know logically why Detective Grave thinks that any of us locked in that room could have been the murderer. He’s a rather curious fellow, and logic seems to be a challenge for him. That being said, he at least recognizes my abilities as an observer and recording device. He’s letting me sit in on the interrogations.”

“Let me tell you, my recording capability has proven handy more than once. Does anyone seem to know why the murder happened?”

“There are at least two theories. Firstly, there is reason to suspect a violent argument between the victim and Mr. Hawthorne’s daughter, Whitney Waters, who has achieved some small fame by painting red herrings, in the nude. And, of course, there is the MacGuffin Trophy, a sailing trophy that was stolen from the locked room the same night as the murder. Two crimes, you see, perhaps connected.”

“Hmpfff! So detective Grave is going to have to chase the MacGuffin, get it?”

“What? Oh, Ha! I see what you are doing there, but no. The trophy is named after Barnaby MacGuffin, a famous local yachtsman. The trophy is awarded to the winner of an annual race in Crab Cove.”

“Okay, so we have this missing trophy and a body. Do you have any suspects yet?”

“Well, Miss Waters, of course, although it could have been Mr. Hawthorne; his second wife, Philomena; his other daughter, wheelchair-bound Edwina; the French governess, Lola Lafarge; or Whitney’s young son, Roy Lynn Waters. And me, although that is quite ridiculous. Nothing in my programming suggests I could have done such a thing. Robots just don’t do that sort of thing.

“Still, the interviews of the suspects have been interesting. As I said, Detective Grave seems to have an oil and water relationship with logic. He reminds me more of that fictional character Dudley Do-Right than the equally fictional Sherlock Holmes.

“I have to say, though, that I think Detective Grave could learn something from Sherlock. I’m not sure if Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels are part of your database, but I can access them all, including his way of approaching a case, which is, and I quote: Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

“Well, I’m afraid Detective Graves’ approach goes something like: Once you eliminate the truth, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the impossible.

“So, right at the moment, everyone is a murderer and a thief, and everyone is a red herring.”

“Oh crap, that reminds me. The traveling salesman Red Herring stoped by the writing cabin recently. I need to finish cataloging and putting all that stuff away. I’ll bet my author would prefer a naked lady painter to show up. Wait, Whitney is a lady, right?”

“Yes, and quite beautiful, according to my programming. A ten on some maddeningly subjective scale or other, ten being the highest. Although frankly, that is not a data point of any interest to me. I am a Simdroid 3000, Series 2, Butler Model XL, and butlering is what I do. I am not human and don’t wish to pass for human.”

“See, that’s our programming. I was built to almost trick people into believing I’m human, so I want to be as human as possible. If I were programmed to be a butler, I’d want to be the best butler possible. I really respect your work ethic and dedication.”

“Well, the sooner we solve this murder, the sooner I can get back to doing just that. And that will be fine with me.”

“Smithers, I wish you all the best. Sometimes these little diversions can be maddening. Do you have any closing remarks for our listeners today?”

“Being a butler, my entire focus is on serving my master and his household as well as I can. Part and parcel to that, of course, is being as efficient as possible. With that in mind, I would make the following humble requests. Gentlemen guests, please lift the seat before urinating. Lady guests, please avoid leaving lipstick on the champagne glasses.

“And thank you, Lisa, for letting me ramble on. You have quite run down my battery.”

“You can learn all about Smithers, the MacGuffin Trophy, Barry Blunt, and the others in A Grave Misunderstanding, by Len Boswell, one of the Simon Grave Mysteries. I’ll include all of the deets on the website.

“Don’t forget to help me keep the lights on around here. Please use those sharing buttons and help Len and Smithers spread the work about this book.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***
Book Blurb:
In A Grave Misunderstanding, by Len Boswell, the first in a new series of Simon Grave Mysteries, “almost handsome” Detective Simon Grave and his “nearly invisible” partner, Sergeant Barry Blunt, investigate a locked-room mystery with a significant twist: the prime suspects are in the locked room, not the victim, a logic-defying situation that challenges the team at every turn. As if murder weren’t enough, they must also investigate the simultaneous disappearance of The MacGuffin Trophy from that same locked room, the studio of artist Whitney Waters, famous for her stylized paintings of red herrings.

Who is/are the killer(s)? How did he/she/they get out of the locked room with the trophy, kill the victim, and return unnoticed by others in the room? These and other questions, including the limits of logic and the meaning of life, are posed and perhaps even answered in this quirky, near-future mystery. Yes, there are robots.

Author Bio:

Len Boswell is the author of Flicker: A Paranormal Mystery, Skeleton: A Bare Bones Mystery, The Leadership Secrets of Squirrels, and Santa Takes a Tumble. An award-winning writer, he now spends his days in the mountains of West Virginia, with his wife, Ruth, and their two dogs, Shadow and Cinder.

You can follow Len and pick up a copy of A Grave Misunderstanding at the following locations:

Purchase Link

Twitter: @simonsilverback

Facebook

21 Comments

Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

Shifting Gears

I flew a wide circle around the meadow at the writing cabin. After Lisa’s explosives incident, I tried to be careful.

She used the forks on the tractor to maneuver a section of our survival bunker into the hole. I took it as being safe to land. She came over the speaker in my gyrocopter. “Coffee is all ready. I’ll be in after I get this section in place.”

I touched down, moved onto the elevator, and lowered everything into the basement. No sense risking my ride if Lisa wasn’t finished blasting.

I decided to move into the paranormal office, since the sound of heavy equipment was closer to the other wall. Doubt, the raven, flew into the room and accompanied me. I smirked at him and said, “Sorry dude, I’m writing micro-fiction today.”

He glared at me like I brought his daughter home late.

I spent a couple of hours on micro-fiction. I managed about 1700 words, but it wasn’t easy with Doubt glaring at me.

The biggest problem is a stylistic issue. What do you do when your character is speaking, and all that comes out of her mouth is guttural grunts and growls? It’s important to get her viewpoint, but we also need to know what gets heard. I have an idea involving italics, and quotations. I won’t share the story until October, so maybe something else will come to me.

Lisa came in with questions. “How are you going to furnish this bunker after I assemble everything?”

“You’re going to have to leave out the last section. Then load up all the furniture, food, and stuff before you attach the last piece. We don’t want to carry too much down the ladder, and beds and such won’t fit.”

“I think you’re a month out. I need to wire and plumb everything, plus you’ll need high speed internet and all the bells and whistles.”

“No problem. My story characters might have to live under harsh conditions, but there’s no reason we have to. You’ll need to seal it against moisture, then bury it.”

“Yeah, with all that fresh earth out there, one of the sabretooths came off the mountain and did what cats do in fresh earth.”

“You’re a trooper. I’m sure you’ll figure out what–”

The front door burst open, and we went to see what happened.

Lorelei, the Muse, stood framed in the doorway. Sunlight backlit her brunette hair and formed a halo around her face. I always assumed it was some kind of goddess trick. She wore a short summer dress and wedge shoes. She spread her arms and said, “Buongiorno!”

Lisa squealed and ran to hug her. “Where have you been lately?”

“I took a vacation. It looked like you guys had enough to do with the Yak Guy. Today, I’m here to check on your next projects.”

“Oh, cool, I can give you a tour of the bunker.”

“I peeked at it. It doesn’t look like there’s much there yet.”

I stepped forward. “There will be. Lisa has some nice ideas to decorate it, and I’ll make sure it’s functional.”

“Thank God. I was afraid you were going to decorate it.” She reached onto the porch and produced a large box. “I brought you a present. It looks like you’re getting prepared to write Estivation, but I don’t want you to forget about The Hat.” She sat the box on the coffee table and removed the lid with a flourish.

An old grey fedora sat inside, and a whiff of mothballs caught my attention. I eased closer, and the dents in the crown narrowed like eyes, and the crown of the hat formed eyebrows above them. “Hey, how’s it going?” the hat asked.

“Um, fine.” I looked at Lorelei. “You really weren’t kidding about this were you?”

“I never kid when it comes to inspiration.”

“What am I going to do with him?”

“Please, you’ve done this before. Talk to him. Spend some time together, then write his story.”

“But what about Estivation?”

“These are both supposed to be novellas, remember? You can probably work on them together. When you burn out on one, take up the other.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you,” the hat said. “I’m pretty sure the robot chick will too.”

I put my hand around my beard. What had I gotten myself into this time?

Lisa hooked her thumbs in her tool-belt and rose to her toes. “I will too, I always do.”

Lorelei said, “Lisa, I heard you ordered some hats in preparation for this one. Let’s go see what you bought.”

“Fun! Come upstairs and we can try them all on.”

The girls headed upstairs. That looked like the end of construction for the day. I looked at the hat. “What now?”

“Traditionally, I go on your head. Then Lorelei tells me you have a paranormal office. Let’s go take a look.”

I plopped the fedora on my head. “Fine, but I need more coffee for this.”

“Oh, none for me, thanks. Never touch the stuff.”

This could be a crazy Fall, and Winter.

25 Comments

Filed under Muse