Meteor Man (part 3)

This is the third installment of a relatively new piece, Meteor Man. First written in July ’94, I was never satisfied with it until my last rewrite this past September.

It’s a longish piece at 11,300 words, so I’ve broken it into five sections. I hope it’s worth it.

Enjoy.

Co-Author and higher level subscribers (10$US/month or more) can download a complete PDF version of Meteor Man for offline reading. or Join Us to continue.

Read Meteor Man (part 1).
Read Meteor Man (part 2).

Meteor Man (part 3)

Ellis sat at the side of the conference table.

“Good to see you, Dr. Ellis,” said Meninquez.

Ellis nodded as she watched people enter the room. She wore a body fitting burgundy flightsuit which left only her head and hands exposed. The burgundy flightsuit contrasted so sharply with the stale green of the conference room and with the geologic shales and hazes of Awkright’s base itself that everyone entering the room was drawn to look at her before seeing anything else. Her trim, athletic figure was relaxed in the chair and she winked and tapped her ear as each person entered and fixed their eyes on her. Only Geertz failed to notice her when he came in.

Her thick graying hair was gathered into a ponytail which came over her left shoulder. She stroked it as if it were a cat.

She waited until all the chairs were filled. ” Well?”

Meninquez spun his chair to face Geertz.” Well?”

Geertz tabbed a plate in front of him. Ellis leaned forward. “You don’t use an audio actuator? Damn slow. Inefficient, if you ask me.”

Geertz nodded agreement without looking up from his plate. “For most things, yes. For the things I do, no.”

Ellis smiled. She watched Geertz’s fingers slide over the plate as holograms appeared, rotated, and merged in the air above the conference table. He slipped on his glove and a hand appeared on the perimeter of the hologram. Ellis barked out a laugh. “Modified glove?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She sat back. “Ma’am?” Her mouth worked as if pronouncing a new word in a foreign tongue. “Ma’am? What’s your name, son?”

He looked at her. “Donald Geertz.”

She winked and tapped her ear before responding. “Dr. Geertz?” She nodded, took her hand away from her ear and leaned forward. “Dr. Geertz, my grandchildren don’t call me ma’am. Use ‘Pat’. Please continue.”

He returned to the hologram. “This is The Wall. We see it as such because it’s been cleared and cleaned.” He tapped finger and thumb together twice and the hologram changed. The Wall took on a greenish hue. Red lines left its surface and moved beyond the cavern image, eventually encircling the entire structure and shaping into a three dimensional topographic of asteroid 480-SMN-10.

“Here’s 480-SMN-10,” Geertz said. “You can’t see it on this scale. You can’t even see it on a 1:1 scale, but The Wall isn’t a planar surface.”

“Show me that.”

Geertz tapped middle finger and thumb. The asteroid’s topographic faded and The Wall grew. White lines started at the corners of The Wall’s inner surface and projected inward to some center which they reached ten meters away, close to the conference room’s rear door. Once the four lines met at that far distant center another line joined them, this one moved across The Wall’s inner surface like a raster pattern and filled in a solid projection from that center to The Wall.

“Can we see this in toto, Dr. Geertz?”

Geertz was smiling, hunched over the edge of the conference table in his chair, looking up into the hologram from below. He pressed his thumb into his index finger’s second knuckle. 480-SMN-10’s topographic took shape around them. Geertz hadn’t shrunk the image. Red fractals merged and dissolved in the room as they formed the surface projection and filled the room with a swarm of twinkling, tiny lights.

Ellis sat back, eyes wide as she took it all in. “This is beautiful.”

Geertz nodded, his eyes still on the projection. “Thank you.”

The whole image collapsed until it floated above them. At that scale it was obvious The Wall was part of a sphere’s surface with the sphere’s center close to 480-SMN-10’s.

Ellis’ cheeks puffed out and a little popping sound escaped her lips. “Anybody want to argue this is planetary or geologic?”

People shook their heads.

“How come we didn’t know about this before we began extracting?”

Meninquez answered, “It’s reorganized planetary matter. It wouldn’t be detected.” He paused then added. “Actually, it was detected. This asteroid was recorded as gaseous-hollow. It was one of the reasons we came here.”

“Okay, let’s crack it.”

Geertz took his eyes off the projection and shook his head. “We can’t.”

All eyes turned to Geertz.

Meninquez barked, “Excuse me?”

“We can’t crack The Wall. We’ve discovered something unique.”


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
Want to learn more about why I use a subscription model? Read More ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes Enjoy!

Shy Jackson

I’ve mentioned before that coyote are cautious creatures.

Case in point, Shy Jackson, a male juvenile out and about for a midday stroll.

Since videoing this, we’ve confirmed loss of habitat on the other side of the woods from us.

This saddens us.

Both our town and the town we abut increase their services and infrastructure in order to lure people forward. This increase in services drives up taxes and the price of homes. The increased tax rate and home price keeps people away from our town and the town we abut.

And also drives current inhabitants to less expensive towns and such.

Which means there’s a housing glut, which drives prices down but forces tax rates up because now police must patrol more vacant properties for migrants, indigents, squatters, and such.

The increase of migrants, indigents, squatters, and such drives insurance rates up.

Which causes construction to decrease. Often at some point during completion. Leaving massive house skeletons on empty, untended lots.

And we still have Old Ones coming into our yard.

We are glad.

 

Why I don’t read in my genres any more

(updated from an original post on Goodreads long, long ago…)


I debated writing this post for a while.

Three things solidified it for me:

  1. A discussion about fast paced sci-fi reads. I made a comment and offhandedly shared that my library listed my picks – Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain and The Terminal Man – as Fiction, not Science-Fiction (FWIW, Wikipedia claims science fiction, medical fiction and thriller as his genres). The comments intrigued me. I didn’t see any definitions of genre (sci-fi, fantasy or horror in this case) v fiction/literature offered. Examples, yes, definitions, no. Why is something considered fiction or genre? I wondered if something about being fast-paced shifted my library’s cataloguing from sci-fi to fiction. Did a metricable difference between literature and any genre (let’s include mystery, gothic, spy, romance, military, medical, thriller, western, historical, et cetera) exist or if, as some claimed, was it anything from personal bias to outright snobbery? Basically, I want to know if literature v genre is quantifiable. (i think it is, although I’ll yield that how important the metrics are is based on personal bias.)
  2. I started questing for relevancy; I have reasons why I rarely read in my genres any more. Did anyone else have anything similar? That question led me to Chuck Wendig’s “25 REASONS WHY I STOPPED READING YOUR BOOK” post. It’s classic. I don’t share all of Mr. Wendig’s 25 reasons, simply most and as for the others, it’s not so much that I disagree as I’m not sure if I agree.
  3. I read Pushing Ice (Goodreads rating 4.02, my library casts it as SF) and The Golem and the Jenni (Goodreads rating 4.1, my library casts it as FIC) pretty much simultaneously. Both are first novels, the differences in several factors are so striking that I knocked off 50-60 pages of The Golem and the Jenni whenever I had the time andPushing Ice…well…
    Continue reading “Why I don’t read in my genres any more”

Meteor Man (part 2)

This is the second installment of a relatively new piece, Meteor Man. First written in July ’94, I was never satisfied with it until my last rewrite this past September.

It’s a longish piece at 11,300 words, so I’ve broken it into five sections. I hope it’s worth it.

Enjoy.

Co-Author and higher level subscribers (10$US/month or more) can download a complete PDF version of Meteor Man for offline reading. or Join Us to continue.

Read Meteor Man (part 1).

Meteor Man (part 2)

Geertz sat behind La Velle and Singer in the unused navigator’s seat as they piloted their asher back to The Wall. He hooked the navigation displays into Awkright’s Xenolab systems back at base. In front of him a fabber of The Wall floated suspended in repeller matrices all its own. Multicolor rhombics danced into it. Geertz used an iconglove to make adjustments. The various links clicked as they updated their displays.

La Velle glanced at Singer and nodded towards Geertz. Singer nodded and cleared his throat. “How’s it going, doc?”

Geertz continued making adjustments. The rhombics turned teal-green and stabilized under and slightly to one side of the surface of The Wall. The asher’s ventilators hissed briefly.

La Velle gently clapped his hands. “Dr. Geertz?”

Geertz spun in his seat. His eyes were red and his gloved hand closed into a fist. The Wall and its rhombics exploded in a technicolor frenzy.

“I’m sorry, Doc. You okay?”

Geertz turned back to his lost displays. “I’ve never been in an asteroid before.”

Singer nodded. “You get used to it.”

“Are you two Meteor Men?”

La Velle laughed. “God, Doc. That goes back a ways. I haven’t heard that used since I was starting out. Yes, we both are, by the way. Got the paperwork to prove it.”

“Actual paper paperwork?”

“Yeah, actual paper paperwork. They haven’t done that in,” he shook his head, “I have no idea how many years.”

Singer monitored their descent. “You age slower out here. Nobody knows why.”

Geertz gazed at their faces, the professional scientist’s sharing the child’s lack of shame at investigating the unexpected. The asher filled with the static clicks of updating displays and the hiss of slowly moving air.

La Velle checked his displays. “I was a little jumpy my first time down under, too. Kept waiting for the Meteor Man to show up.”

“The Meteor Man?”

“Oh, you know, every new place has its boogie men. First folks out this far said they heard partial words on shadow frequencies, off band, some said they saw the rocks move. The usual scary stuff to keep the kids in their beds at night.”

Singer nodded. “Yeah, Doc. My first time down I lost my lunch five times. Jumped every time a shadow moved. It takes some getting used to. You want us to shut down for a while? Give you some time to adjust?”

“What’s it take to be a Meteor Man?”

La Velle laughed. “Started out blowing up NEOs, asteroids coming too close to earth to take a chance they’d hit rather than fly by. We made asteroids into chunks of rock that just shot through the sky back home. That’s where the term Meteor Man came from.”

Singer took over. “Then Northern Arizona University discovers Didymos’s moon is behaving strangely and SpaceGroupX is hired to investigate. They drop a sounder and discover she’s rocked over and not natural. Nothing in her, but still she’s not natural. The next thing you know five or six of the big terrestrial mining firms are in the space recovery business and the ‘Belt, Trojans, Greeks, Hildas, Centaurs, and the Kuiper and Oort when we can get to them, and whatever else is out here goes to auction with the governments getting first pickings through any finds.”

La Velle finished. “But we got steady jobs, great pay – ”

Singer chuckled. “And no life and no wife.”

Geertz’s face paled.

“Oh, Christ, Doc. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”

Geertz cleared his throat and turned back to his equipment. “That’s all right. Thanks. We need to know about The Wall. Dr. Ellis wants all the particulars.”

La Velle covered his partner’s faux pas. “We have plenty of time, Dr. Geertz. Let’s shut her down, give you a chance to get use to things.”

“No, thank you.”

“Tell you what, doc. We’ll keep her going, slow her down a bit and turn up the matrix to smooth out the ride some more. Can we do that for you?”

“Yes. Thanks.” Geertz turned back to his work.

It remained quiet except for the caterpillar’s whine and the repeller matrix’s small red suns holding and releasing the cave walls as they crawled along.

Singer, forgetting about their guest, started to sing the instrument readouts. La Velle also forgot Geertz sat behind them and started adding his” Uh-huh” of agreement as a backbeat to Singer’s tune.

Geertz cleared his throat.

The ashermen stopped singing. Singer swung his seat around, his head silhouetted in the dark by the asher’s forward displays. His eyes reflected Geertz’s station lighting. “Sorry, Doc. Didn’t mean to disturb your work.”

“No. Not at all. I was going to say you guys sing together well. You must have worked together for a long time.”

Singer swung back and looked up at La Velle’s reflection in the forward. “We been together on twenty digs on as many rocks, Doc.”

“That’s a long time.” Geertz paused. “I think it’s a long time. It’s a long time, isn’t it?”

La Velle tapped a screen. “Wall’s coming up. It’s about thirty, thirty-five years, Doc. Normal years.”

“You guys must like each other to be together that long.”

Singer and La Velle looked at each other’s reflection. Singer nodded. “We like each other well enough.”

Geertz pointed to the scorpion’s claws. “Why do they call them ‘mormons’?”

La Velle laughed a little. “Because they’re scoopers.”

“Beg pardon?”

“You know about the Mormons, doc? The religious people back on Earth? There used to be a joke about Mormons: People called them scoopers because God opened their heads and scooped out all their brains.”

“Ow.”

“I guess the first team to use an asher had somebody who knew that joke. You can find the reference in most astromining texts. Here, let me call up mine.”

Geertz sat up and leaned forward.

La Velle tucked himself into his seat. “It’s okay, Dr. Geertz. You can come up here. You won’t break anything.”

Geertz looked at him and smiled hesitantly.

“Come on, Doc. You can’t see it from back there.”

Geertz stood between the two men. Just as he did the asher’s glide system lifted it slightly and to the right. Geertz lost his balance just enough to have to lean against Singer’s station. Singer caught Geertz’s arm and helped him steady himself. “No problem, Doc. Happens to everybody. See? Look here.” Singer pointed to two switches on his panel. They were labeled “Scoop 1” and “Scoop 2”.

Geertz smiled. “Wow. I’ve never heard them called anything but mormons.”

La Velle glanced at Singer and nodded. “Funny how some things stick.”


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
Want to learn more about why I use a subscription model? Read More ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes Enjoy!

Mark Hayes’ Passing Place: Location Relative

I read Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful” in Harvey Duckman Presents V7 and was (am still) amazed by it (I reviewed it in Why It Works for Me – Mark Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful”). I reached out to Hayes and learned “The Strange and the Wonderful” is part of the Passing Place mythos, so asked for an autographed copy of Passing Place.

It took a week to read the book because 1) I’m a slow reader and 2) I was savoring it. Passing Place is a fine meal, an elegant respite from the world’s chaos. I’m leaving the following review in several places and the baseline take-away is READ THIS BOOK!
Continue reading “Mark Hayes’ Passing Place: Location Relative