Posts Tagged Science fiction
I dreamed last night that I was meeting my old best friend from high school, David. We were going to an all night science fiction film festival. We hadn’t seen each other since high school and we had some catching up to do before the first movie started. So, we were sitting outside the theater on a bench talking when a person walked by that looked very strange. The person was covered with what looked like a dark green fungus and their eyes where blacked out so that it was obvious they couldn’t see. They were walking with their arms outstretched. At first we thought it was someone acting like a zombie for some horror movie festival or something. I don’t like horror movies. We continued talking and David told me that he had inherited a lot of money and was going to England to study. Then we noticed that when the strange walking person touched someone else the person they touched was rapidly covered with the same alien green fungus and also began walking around blindly. It happened so fast they barely had time to cry out. We looked at each other and said let’s get out of here. I patted David on the shoulder and wished him luck as we separated to leave. On the way out the the theater I ran into another old friend, Gail. I ran up to her and gave her a hug and kiss. She was unaware of the situation, so I quickly told her what we had seen. Just then a large crowd came out of a theater yelling and screaming and we were swept along and separated. I never saw her again after that.
Outside the theater, I watched more and more people turned into these green fungus covered zombies walking blindly in the streets. I ran to the nearest police station and was trying to explain the situation but they thought I was crazy. Just then the first infected person was let in the front door and the infection quickly began to spread. I escaped and made my way to a cliff thinking that since they couldn’t see I would be safer there. Of course, blind people can’t see where they are going, so there were still people there. I was working my way over a ledge and trying to figure out how to climb down to below when I woke up.
Last night I dreamed that I had returned to Tennessee and was looking for a job, but wherever I went my efforts were being sabotaged by some unseen entity. I had spent the last ten years of my life working on a huge computer modeling system for the government. We called it Delphi, the Probability Machine. I was the creator and chief systems architect for the system. Originally, it was designed to model scenarios and probabilities for the Department of Defense. For example, what might happen if two nuclear tipped missiles were lost in the Mediterranean Sea from an aircraft carrier? Delphi would model and predict how fast our enemies, from terrorist groups to foreign countries, would find out about the incident and how they would respond to it. Over time, though, Delphi was tied directly into huge information gathering systems at the National Security Agency. It began modeling more and more activities and scenarios that were not specifically defense related. Recently, the administration began using it to predict how the population would respond to their actions and what they needed to do to get re-elected and stay in power. I realized that Delphi was being misused and was trying to think of what I should do about it, when Delphi predicted that I was a threat and would try to shut it down. So, I was fired from my job and lost my clearance, which was how I had found myself back in Tennessee with everyone seemingly against me. How could I compete against my own creation that could predict everything that I was likely do before I could even think to do it myself?
we’re the first to go to explore each new star
in our mighty silver starships
we travel so fast and so very far
each mission we follow the standard plan
searching each new star system
looking for a planet were we can land
if a pretty alien damsel is in distress
first we’ll rush in to save her
then we’ll clean up all the rest of the mess
a bug-eyed monster from Altair we’ll kill
then before we leave to go on our way
some lonely alien heart we will steal
yes, we’re rough and we’re tough
been on every dangerous world in this good galaxy
and everywhere we go, we don’t take no guff
along the way, we’ll fight and save the day
cause that’s the way
that we earn our spacer pay
we love space and we love to fight
and we know wrong from right
only we will never fail or yield
we’re the men and women of the spacer’s guild
with my mighty rocket sheathed in black titanium
I thought to travel alone to a nearby star
navigating using a simple celestial reference system
based on the seemingly fixed positions of far distant quasars
I took off one night using stealth to avoid detection
then headed as close to the sun as my heat shields could bear
to use the energy and angular momentum from the sun’s Milky Way orbit
to perform the first ever interstellar gravity slingshot maneuver
afterwards, I prepared to enter a cryogenic sleep chamber
where my body would be safely frozen for the rest of my lengthy trip
and completed my final calculations before I turned the controls
over to a Linux computer to watch over my now silent ship
to be continued in a few hundred years…
through a top secret orbiting telescope
I turned my eyes and I finally found her again yesterday
seeing into the distant past where she was standing in a wheat field
on planet in a galaxy thousands of light years away
like the salt vampire creature from Star Trek
that had the ability to let each victim see what they wanted to see
she looked virtually unchanged to me since I saw her thirty years ago
now she stands there looking just like she did in my memory
the years have been kind to her, I suppose you could say
while for me, obviously, time has taken its toll
perhaps, I have had a hard life and it has aged me
but it seems more likely that my genes play a larger role
I wonder if life on her planet lives on indefinitely
maybe she is immortal and will be there for eternity
I only know that I am in love with the vision of her
and I’m brokenhearted knowing that she will never see me
a strange traveler roams
an empty void in an odd machine
he reaches back through time and space
to the familiar place he has repeatedly seen
hopeful, he wipes away his tears
as his endless journey begins anew
spinning down through a loop in space time
only to feel defeated to see the same old view
he’s caught in a closed circle of a broken time warp
caught in time and time and again
lost forever, he can never escape
lost forever, he can never win
wading through the evening sky
a glowing moon is seen way up high
while green leaves are touching each other in the trees
intertwining with the cool summer evening breeze
then humans pair off as candlelight romance comes a wandering
leaving unwary space visitors, like me, deeply pondering
for we have traveled distances that you couldn’t conceive of
just to study these strange Earthly ways of love
after carefully observing and being sure to leave no trace
through a twisting wormhole in space-time
a strange traveler returns from his journey to the distant past
only to find everything covered in ooze and slime
he knows that he must have accidentally changed history
but how could this have happened? he cries out in despair
for he was so very deliberate and careful
for all the time that he was there
now he sits alone checking and re-checking his instruments
in his slowly sinking time machine
wondering what could have gone wrong and never noticing
the single squashed bug caught under his boots and never seen
I used to have a check list of attributes that I was looking for in my future wife. I never wrote it down, but I thought about it a lot. Which is odd, because I wasn’t dating at the time. So, it is unclear how I ever really expected to meet the woman of my dreams.
- a compatible sense of humor. I wanted us to be able to laugh at each others jokes.
- intelligent. Of course, intelligence and a sense of humor go together, I think.
- likes science fiction. I wanted us to be able to watch everything from Star Trek to Doctor Who, together
- likes same music. I wanted us to be able to enjoy listening to the same music, especially The Beatles and power pop. And I thought it would be nice if she liked my music and poetry.
- likes computers. Perhaps even works with computer software, like me.
- appreciates science and technology
- wants to have children. I wanted to be a father ever since I first held my little sisters first son. so, looking for a good mother for our children seemed obviously important.
- someone I could trust. I was looking for a equal life partner that I could share anything and everything with.
- pretty. Of course, beauty is not easy to define and attraction is often inexplicable.
- compassionate, caring, sensitive. I think it is important to be empathetic to others.
- forgiving. Hey we all make mistakes. It is critical to be able to forgive ourselves and others.
Interestingly, when I finally started dating and met my future wife, I purposely decided to throw out my list. Something about having a list of criteria and checking them off seemed so cold and calculating to me. Which is really odd, because I’m a computer scientist. I am cold and calculating. Anyway, as a result, my wife doesn’t particularly care for science fiction, doesn’t like Star Trek or Doctor Who. She listens to country music. She is not very computer savvy. And she doesn’t laugh at my jokes. Instead, she says, “Funny, Kirk”. We did have lots of things in common. Some things that might seem kind of inconsequential to some. We both liked “Winnie the Pooh“, for example. We collected little Pooh objects and decorated our son’s baby room in Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too. I had a small collection of Pillsbury Dough Boy items in my kitchen from when I was single. We often searched for more dough boy collectables together.
I was floating in a shimmering blue energy field of some kind when I opened my eyes. Looking outside of the cylinder of light that held me, I could see a beautiful woman with long, wavy auburn hair. She was wearing a tight fitting yellow suit of some kind with strange attachments and connections around her waist and arms. She held up her finger to her mouth to instruct me to be silent. Somehow, I knew that was a good idea although I had no idea who she was or where I was. She was manipulating something outside of my vision that must have been some control panel. Shortly, the shimmering blue began to drop as if a curtain was falling to the floor and I fell to the floor with it. She motioned for me to follow her and I did.
We were in some long corridor and I could see a long line of blue shimmering columns. Many had dark unrecognizable shapes in them. On my right the whole wall of the corridor appeared to be made of glass and I could see through it down into a huge room, perhaps the size of several football stadiums. In the room I could see many large strange objects. There was also a few familiar objects, like a Cessna airplane. She led me to a small circular door that opened with a strange fan-like motion. Inside was a small room shaped like a sphere that projected out into the larger room that I had seen along side of the corridor. She went into the room and I reluctantly followed her not knowing what else to do.
After the door closed again with a strange wooshing sound, she turned to me and said “you’ll be safe here for awhile”. Her hazel eyes looked at me intensely and expectantly and I felt like I should know her, but I didn’t. I thought about what she had said for a moment then asked, “where am I and exactly what am I safe from?”. “The others,” she said without elaboration, turning her head to look around as if someone else might be hiding in the room. However, there was nothing else in the room except for a couple of small round black objects, perhaps seats of some sort, and what appeared to be a glassy panel that circled the room. The wall of the room appeared to be spherical and made of the same glass-like material as the corridor wall allowing a wide view of the large room.
“I don’t understand”, I said. She stepped closer to me and looked into my eyes. “There is something about you. I don’t know what it is, but I had to release you.” I had no idea what that meant, so I shook my head yes and said, “uh huh”. I’m a smooth character like that, always ready with a witty response. Okay, not really. I was a little intimidated that she was standing so close to me. There was something strange about her. Yes, she was beautiful and yet she seemed to have a strange shifting glow about her. I felt that if I looked away from her she might fade from my view as if she was only a finely pixelated hologram or projection or something. She didn’t seem quite real to me. I rubbed my eyes as her arms reached out and pulled me close. Okay, now she seemed real enough with her arms tightly around me.
“You may kiss me, if you like” she said. That was not what I was expecting and was certainly not something that had ever happened to me before. So, I was uncertain of how to respond. I thought of saying, “I don’t even know you” as her eyes peered up into mine, but that didn’t seem like an appropriate response. As I hesitated, she pulled me even closer. So, I leaned in and kissed her on her lips. It was a long kiss. It was a good, long kiss. I didn’t remember kissing anyone like that before and after we separated she briefly lay her head on my shoulder and sighed. I was just confused. Well, confused and elated. But, mostly confused.
“I have to go or I’ll be missed”, she said next, completely catching me off guard. She quickly stepped away through the strange door and turned back to look at me, “I’ll be back as soon as I can”. Then she turned and was gone. I stepped up to the door, but it didn’t open and I noticed for the first time that there was no obvious way to operate the door. “Okay, this is not good” I thought to myself. I shook my head, realizing that I didn’t even ask the woman what her name was. After a moment of self ridicule, I turned and surveyed the room I was trapped in. I wondered what purpose it served. “Perhaps it served as an observation platform for the large room?” I surmised based on the location and view.
I went to the strange round chair-like object on the left. The shape was not quite right, like it was not really a chair. I tried to set down in it and it moved and squished around me in a very disquieting fashion. “How odd”, I said aloud. My voice seemed to cause a flash of light to form in the glassy panel in front of the chair. It swirled around and formed strange characters and shapes. Nothing that I could recognize. It didn’t even seem to be any language or symbols that I was familiar with on Earth. On impulse I reached out and touched the panel with my hand and the lights traced around my hand and suddenly the characters and shapes began to shift and change into English and into recognizable buttons. It appeared to be a control panel. I was in sub-control unit 42, whatever that meant. I tried touching one of the buttons and an overlay of four empty spaces appeared with the words “Panel locked. Enter access code”. “That’s interesting”, I said aloud again.
Inside the four empty spaces were four smaller squares, as if I needed to enter four sets of four digits or characters. It looks like a Visa card number, I chuckled to myself. I was about to try some random pattern, knowing the odds against me correctly guessing would be astronomical at best, when I noticed a button in the corner that simply said “Help”. That looked encouraging to me, so I pressed it. Text began rolling past me on the panel at a dizzying rate. It was a useless blur. I could only catch random words here or there. “I wish this could slow down” I said aloud to myself thinking that it was important for me to be able to read the text. A deep voice answered, “adjusting for average human perception rate”. “You understand my voice commands?” I asked the voice. “Obviously,” it answered. That was a stupid question, I admit.
Over the next few minutes I had a long conversation with the voice. The voice was some kind of computer, but more advanced than anything I could have ever dreamed of. It was able to carry on a conversation that was indistinguishable from talking to another human. I found out that I was on a space ship. The operators of the ship were known as “Collectors” and apparently I was part of their collection. It appeared that they traveled the galaxy collecting items of interest which they then sold after returning to their home world. I began to realize that I was in a really serious situation. “We ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto” I said expecting to confuse the voice, but it surprised me by actually recognizing my reference. “You’re not even on Earth, Dorothy”, it responded making me laugh out loud.
The voice was more than extremely helpful. It was almost friendly. It knew everything about Earth, every language and seemed to have a catalog of Earth life forms that included species we still hadn’t discovered yet on our own planet. It quickly became clear to me that the designers of this device had not anticipated anyone other than the operators of the ship interacting with it. The simple help system had access to a vast amount of data beyond my understanding and awesome computational capabilities. Before long, I had the help system running through all possible numbers to unlock the access code for the panel. I was feeling rather confident of myself, although I had no idea of what I would do after I got access.
Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me ask “what are you doing?”. The woman had returned and I was so focused that I hadn’t even heard the door. “Nothing”, I said reflexively, as if all the flashing lights and spinning numbers on the console in front of me were mere unimportant random reflections of light. “Uh huh”, she said repeating what I had said to her earlier. I wondered if that was intentional. She moved to sit down in the other chair and there was a brief sparkle around her. Her face appeared for a moment to look something like a flattened horse’s head with the same long auburn hair. That was a little disturbing sight. As she spoke, her face took it’s original beautiful human form again. “The others are in stasis now. I have to reset the ship’s timer for the jump so that we will have some time.” Odd shapes appeared on the glassy display in front of her and she confidently spun the shapes around with her fingers.
I started to say “uh huh” and then caught myself. “Some time?” I finally asked after a long pause. “Some time for what?” I didn’t really want to ask that. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to know the answer. “Time to get you back to your planet,” she said while turning and smiling back at me. That sounded good, very good. Again, she had surprised me. I wondered who was this woman and why was she helping me? After she seemed satisfied with her work on the timer, she stood up grabbed my hand and pulled me back out into the corridor. “We should hurry”, she said. She led me to the opposite wall and as she approached she waved her other hand and part of the wall appeared to simply evaporate leaving another door. “How many weird doors do they have in this place?”, I remember thinking to myself. She pulled me through the opening and smiled up at me. I looked around wondering what we were doing in a empty closet, when suddenly the floor began to fall. I realized we were in some kind of elevator.
The elevator ride was a little disconcerting and I reached out to her for support. That seemed to please her and she smiled at me again. I remember thinking that her smiles seemed so … natural. I thought that was strange, considering that she almost certainly wasn’t human. As soon as we stepped out at our destination, I could tell we were in the large room. “This way”, she said as she began briskly walking still holding my hand. I noticed a row of what appeared to be about eight foot tall mechanical spiders against the wall. They were glowing with that strange blue shimmering energy that I had originally been trapped in and their legs were folded under their huge bodies. She noticed I was dragging behind looking at them and said, “you don’t want to get close to the spiders. They aren’t dangerous, but if they get activated an alarm will go off.” “Spiders?” I asked puzzled. “Sometimes, we use them to collect specific items, ” she answered and then urged me to continue on by pulling on my hand.
I’m alone in my parent’s house, a two story brick building. It is late at night and I hear strange noises coming from outside. Somehow I know that some alien presence, perhaps a space ship or inter-dimensional craft, is circling in the air. I am terrified as I rush to make sure that all the doors are locked so that it can’t get in. As I move in the house by darting and crawling on all fours, bright white lights pour in nearby windows as if the alien outside knows my every move and is playing with me. There is something strange, something different about the light. I do everything I can to avoid letting the unearthly light touch me. The air is thick and hot and full of static electricity. My hair is on end and fear has my body trembling uncontrollably. I somehow know that if the alien gets inside that I’m totally helpless.
Suddenly, I find myself outside the house. And now that I am outside, I can fly. As I glide behind some nearby trees taking cover, I can finally see the alien thing. It is a pulsating white and yellow ball of light. It also seems to have a hole of emptiness sucking in the air around it at the center. Somehow, I know that it is alive and I am revolted by it and yet drawn to it. At the same time, I am also still inside the house. I am in two places at once. Outside I am frozen watching the sickening thing reach out and lash at the house with pseudo-pod like extensions of sparkling light, as if to snatch and feed on my other self within the house. Inside, I’m still crawling around terrified as I wake up.
I was in sick bay of the Starship Enterprise. At first it seemed real, then I realized that it was just a set. Still, I was in a blue tunic dressed as a Starship Doctor. I began to talk with some of the people working on the set. I told them that they needed to change the fixed consoles next to the beds to be removable thin glass touch tablets that could be waved over a patient to study internal organs and to control the diagnostics built into the bed. They nodded in agreement and kept working.
Then, I left the sick bay noticing that the door worked perfectly and had the appropriate swishing sound. I remember thinking that was an improvement since the original series doors were hand operated and the sound had to be added later as an effect. I began to move through the wide corridors and felt like I knew the layout of the ship by heart. I briefly saw the view from a bird’s eye perspective over they entire huge set. I felt good in my uniform and strode with purpose. As I turned a corner, I could see into an open door of a brightly lit lounge. Inside, there was a group of people relaxing and eating. They all were dressed as crew and seemed to be staying in character, greeting me as if I were a ranking officer.
As I walked further into the room, several people turned and motioned for me to join them as I woke up.
I was Captain Kirk. We were orbiting a small outpost and had security teams down helping them because they were not fully staffed yet. I was sitting in the captain’s chair rubbing my chin and could feel stubble because it was the end of a long shift. Suddenly we got an alert that there was trouble on the small planetoid. I left the bridge to go to the security center and called out “Spock!” knowing that he would know what I wanted him to do without having to say any more. The turbolift, on the other hand, wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to the brig or to the security center when I called out “security”. I had to be specific for the computer. At the Security Center, the Officer in charge gave me an update. Two teams had been attacked and there were two casualties. Being the Captain, this hit me hard. I felt responsible for every crewman. Also, we did not have such a large crew, a little over four hundred. We were far from any starbases and support and I felt so exposed with so many of my security teams down and off the ship supporting the outpost. I touched the intercom and asked Spock for an update knowing that he would have switched Enterprises scanners from looking for minerals under the surface to scanning the surface for life signs. Spock reported that the teams had been attacked by a indigenous life-form to the planetoid. It was a small creature, about the size of a loaf of bread and with the consistency of a jelly-baby. He added that according to logs from the outpost the life-form had showed no previous signs of aggression and that some had even been taken into the base as “pets”. I shuddered and looked reflexively up to see if anything was going to fall onto me thinking of the previous trouble with tribbles. “Not another cute pet?” I asked rhetorically. Spock intuitively knew what I was thinking, “These are called nubbins. Humans do seem to have an emotional need to keep pets”. I requested Lt. Uhura to patch me through to the outpost administrator and informed him that I would be taking direct control of the security teams and supporting engineering teams and that Enterprise would be focusing all resources on this incident. He hesitated as if thinking of objecting, but relented. I smiled, glad that I would not have to remind him of the power and capability of a Starship. Next, I began giving rapid orders with full confidence that my crew would execute them. “Medical Team to Transporter. Security Center coordinate with Transporter to beam back all away teams starting with those with injuries. Spock, locate all nubbins in the outpost and coordinate with Transporter to have them beamed back to their natural habitat. All department heads join me in the briefing room in one hour with assessments of the situation. I’ve lost two security officers and I want to know why.”
I was again in the Captain’s chair and we were about to enter a solar system for a standard research and catalog mission when the Enterprise was catapulted without warning some ten light years from its position. I put the ship on red alert and asked all stations to report. We had no idea if we where under attack or if this was some new spatial phenomena. I had to restrain myself from the desire to blindly fire photon torpedoes in all directions. Instead, I commanded the ship to stop all motion and tried to assess our situation.