Tag Archives: space

Incursion, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hey there all you space marines, special ops, and saboteurs. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio. The only show that brings you the characters from the books you love.

I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Irene Sol Vianini. “Welcome to the show, Irene.”

“Thanks for having me. So many interesting people have been here before. It’s a true honor to be one of them now.”

“Your story is a bit different than many people we get on the show. To set the stage a bit, aliens are about to invade Earth. A special unit is assembled to wreak havoc upon them, prior to them reaching the outer Earth colonies. You are part of this special unit. What can you tell us about that.”

“I’m a scientist on the factory ship Lapland. Our part of the mission is to build any parts the marines and fighter arms might need, and also to do any quick development. Let me give you an example of why a factory ship needs scientists and not just engineers: let’s say the marines are seeing action on some surface where the conditions are bad for their suits. The science arm might get called on to create a mono-molecular coating to protect them. We can then put that formula into the nano-factories and presto, one less thing for the troops to worry about.

“Let’s cut the crap here. You are part of a radical group of pacifists. Mission Specialist might be your cover, but what is your actual mission?”

What? I can’t believe… I see someone’s been talking out of turn. All right, if that’s the way you want to play this, then yeah, let’s discuss it. Sure, I’m trying to stop this mission. It’s just another case where humans are aggressors. We’ve been killing each other for millennia, so why are we going to stop now that we have someone else to be unpleasant to? I see this radio panders to the militaristic side of things – even your intro talks to marines, specialists and saboteurs… tell me something: can you be any more jingoistic?”

“Nice try, but the question was about your actual mission.”

“Look. I know you have to sell advertising space, so the truth isn’t what you want on this show, but let’s be honest. Anyone with more than a few brain cells to spare knows that this is all our fault, and if we stop listening to the arms manufacturers who are making trillions out of this war, the aliens – if they even exist – will just go back o their lives and leave us alone.”

“I understand your point of view, but you have to be absolutely correct. You’re risking the lives of millions of people upon a theory. Aliens are headed toward Earth, and they have some huge assed weapons with them. Certainly, you can’t ignore that.”

“Of course they have big-ass weapons. What would you do if you came into contact with a species as destructive as ours?”

“Okay, the direct question isn’t working here. How about this one? What are you going to do to make sure the space marines and others don’t prolong this war?”

“I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. A few other sane people have managed to sabotage he launch of this mission. They’ve messed with the navigation systems to ensure that the task force won’t end up anywhere near where they think they should be. They’ll end up in a system that looks similar enough to pass muster but is actually really far away from the fighting. My job is to keep them in the dark for as long as possible so they don’t even try to turn around and do something about it until it’s much too late.”

“Okay, so a team of zealots on a suicide mission are infiltrated by a different zealot with an opposing mission, but all during this time there are aliens approaching Earth, bent on destruction and packing enough firepower to get the job done. Makes my processors heat up. Does that sound about right?”

“No. You’re like so many others. You’re looking at the details, the crap in the news. You have to look at the bigger picture here. If we don’t stop this vicious circle once and for all, humanity will be locked in this disaster forever. A few thousand marines, or a million human lives are a small price to pay to finally save the race. My own life is such a tiny thing. To die knowing I made such a huge difference would be worth it.”

“So you know that you’re on a suicide mission too. If your group gets destroyed, you will too. How do you plan for something like that? Did you write a Will, or did you leave more of a Manifesto?”

“A manifesto? I’ll leave a legacy much greater than that. I’ll have saved us from ourselves. And if a few thousand marines get killed for it, or a couple of colonies that shouldn’t even exist get wasted, well, then tough luck. Screw this. Why do I even bother talking to you people? I know who’s paying your bills. The same people getting paid to build more weapons and fighter ships. I sincerely hope you’re among the casualties. Go to hell.”

“Sorry about that everyone. Apparently Irene killed the connection. We have young people in uniform going into harms way. They’ve been infiltrated from the inside by a third faction. I wish I had more for you, but you will have to read the book Incursion, by Gustavo Bondoni to find out what happens. I’ll post all the deets on the website.

I encourage everyone to use those sharing button at the end of this post. I can’t speak for Irene, but Gustavo is pretty cool and he’d do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.

***

It was supposed to be a desperate suicide mission, a holding action designed to delay a deadly enemy bent on destroying humanity: five starships sent to their doom, thousands of men and women knowingly laying down their lives to buy time for the besieged human race. And then things got really hairy. Tristan, a highly trained shock marine, wakes up after the trip to find that nothing works: not his equipment, not his ship, not even his body… He joins the race against time to bring their equipment back up to fighting trim and begin to understand what has happened to them and to unravel the layers of confusion and betrayal. But the enemy waiting for them doesn’t care about any of that. They just want to destroy the human incursion as quickly as possible.

Pick up your copy of Incursion

Bio: Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer who writes primarily in English. He has recently released three science fiction novels: Incursion (2017), Siege (2016) and Outside (2017)  His latest book is a comic fantasy novel entitled The Malakiad.  He has over two hundred short stories published in fourteen countries.  They have been translated into seven languages.  Many of the stories are collected in Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011). The Curse of El Bastardo  (2010) is a short fantasy novel.

His website is at www.gustavobondoni.com.

Twitter:  @gbondoni

Website:  www.gustavobondoni.com

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Gustavo-Bondoni/e/B004FRVMO2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Just give that last Macabre Macaroni to the dog

I had one story left. It didn’t seem to completely fit the Halloween idea.

I felt inspired by NASA’s abandoned space gun project, and the new Navy rail gun.

Message in a Bottle

“Commander Allen, this is Houston. We’re going to need you to switch to a secure network before describing that debris.”

“Roger, Houston. Switching now…Houston, Commander Allen here. How are you reading me?”

“Loud and clear, Commander. Now what did you say it was made of?”

“Houston, it appears to be made from some kind of brass, or bronze. It’s about the size and shape of a watermelon with Fins, it has an antenna out the aft end.”

“Is it still transmitting?”

“Affirmative, Houston. Just a single ping about every ten minutes or so, like someone wanted us to find it. There’s a door in the side and I’m going to open it.”

“Make sure you can jettison it if something goes wrong.”

“Roger that, Houston. I’m still in the cargo bay and the doors are open. I’m turning the screws loose right now.”

“Try to get us a visual, Commander. We suspect it might be Korean. We want pictures in case you have to deep six it.”

“Suit cameras coming on now. It appears to be a piece of paper inside- No wait, it’s a big leaf, but it’s not like any leaf I’ve ever seen before. Kind of like leather.”

“Roger that. What are those marks on it?”

“It says, Hamburg, 1943.

“We listened to the Allied bombers every day and night, praying they would get closer. We needed cover to fire the space mortar and the bombings were as good as we were going to get.

“We’d been hunted by the Nazis for over five years. Getting caught meant certain death. Leaving was nearly certain death. We elected to take the small chance we had left and risked our very lives on a narrow escape. We didn’t know what we would find and doubted our supplies would last.

“We are alive and well at the time of this message. This tiny vessel is made from the last working parts of our ship. We are marooned, but happily so. The soil here is good for farming and we have domesticated some of the local fauna.

“There is life among the stars, if you know where to look. Come in peace or don’t come at all. Signed Ernst Cohen.”

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