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Showing posts from September, 2016

Mongrel: Zebe at Xanthe's (Part 3)

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Zebe visits her twin sister, Xanthe, in Brisbane and discovers some more of the effects of the Moogerah Monster's dust. And finally, there's Xanthe's reason .... 
Zebe sipped her drink in tandem with Xanthe while she thought. “And?” She made her mouthfuls smaller so she could hold out for the length of Xanthe’s drink. 
“It got me thinking. I decided to bring some of the dust home so I could really look at it.” Xanthe sculled down her drink to subvert Zebe’s tactics. 
Zebe grinned at her and their silent manoeuvring. 
“At last, a smile.” Xanthe swung off the couch. “Come on, I’ll show you.” She slid back the concertina room divider, one half to the dining area, one half to the kitchenette.  
Every horizontal surface was covered with glass laboratory jars. Zebe stared. “You must have just about emptied the shelves at SoHAB.”
“Not at all. A job lot at an auction. Cheap as.”
“Sterilised?”
“Neil makes sure we’re rostered on for the same weekends. We autoclave them in the baseme…

Mongrel: Zebe at her Sister's Place, (Part 2)

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Zebe is introduced to the power of the alien's dust by way of a cat that had mangy fur ... 
“That kiss was a payment?” A fury against the new boyfriend gripped Zebe by the heart. 
Xanthe laughed. “No, Neil and I are mates! He’s in it as deep as I am.”
“More like lovers, it looks to me.”
“All right, yes, we’re lovers. We’ve even applied for a hearing to make it legal.”
“You let him?”
“Zebe! I said, ‘We have applied for a hearing.’ And once we’ve tied the knot we’ll be applying to have a child though it’ll be years before it’s our turn.”
“It’s that serious?” Zebe said to stall any further unsettling news.
Xanthe laughed again. “Oh, Zebe! You’ll get on fine with Neil. I’ve told him all about you. How we are. You’ll still be my funny Celtic twin. He’s helping me to help you without thought of the danger to his career.”
Zebe wasn’t mollified by the praises. “Celtic twin! Huh.” 
“Neil said that as soon as I showed him my holo of us. Your dark hair, your eyes and your olive skin. He said…

Book Review: Stanislaw Lem ...

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This week I'm really enjoying Stanislaw Lem - Tales of Pirx the Pilot - Return from the Stars - The Invincible. First published in one volume by Penguin, 1982.

The Tales of Pirx the Pilot were first published in Polish in the 1960s; Return from the Stars 1961 and The Invincible 1967.

Pirx's exploits are set during the 21st or 22nd centuries. Colonisationation of the Solar System is in full swing with settlements on the Moon and Mars. Pirx starts as a learner pilot and works his way up the promotional ladder to being the captain of a merchant vessel.

Interestingly, the article in Wikipedia considers the genre to be medium hard science fiction. I might have agreed with that when it was first published perhaps fifty years ago.

Lem's space travel is by nuclear-powered rocket. I'm not so familiar with the intricacies of modern spaceships as to be able to compare Lem's version with today's realities in a piece by piece way. The rich world building and the stories are …

Mongrel: Zebe at Xanthe's (Part 1)

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Zebe decides to go see what's up with Xanthe, despite Xanthe's threat that Zebe isn't welcome unless invited. 
Zebe waited in Xanthe’s minuscule front porch, more impatient by the minute. It wasn’t like Xanthe to be late for her twin, even if she was coming from work. Zebe had hardly let Cele know she’d be gone for the weekend, then had to wait for an hour for the boat to take her to the mainland, to then fly to Brisbane. Normally she didn’t mind the journey but Xanthe’s email had been so mysterious.  The most worrying thing about it was the way Xanthe alternated seeming anger and actual excitement. As if she was saying something more than just the meanings that could be attached to her words.  
Xanthe hadn’t very far to come at all since she had a town house in the SoHAB residential facility, almost next door to the complex. Zebe on her toes could just make out the roof of the central octagonal hall. “Come on, Xan!” she said. “I’m here, on the doorstep.” Her twin-key hadn…

Mongrel: Zebe's Discovery

Zebe's strand continues with her discovery of the uses for the alien silver. 

Joe Loreno, Beardy and Laura didn’t come back from their leave. Cele and Zebe decided to close the doors. “Let’s face it, Zebe,” Cele said. “We both love our projects too much to risk any further upsets.” In fact, Zebe thought, the slightest inkling of Cele’s project to the public media would blow SoHAB sky high.
Zebe’s and Cele’s reason to SoHAB was that, since they had only two staff, they didn’t have enough presence to show people round as well as work on their projects.
SoHAB were on the ball. And why not with Xanthe in the loop? Zebe doubted SoHAB even saw Zebe’s earlier request for permission from SoHAB to try for a licence to seed Zebe’s new corals through Reef waters. 
Closing the Reefarium to the public for the next foreseeable months was a great solution, Xanthe messaged for SoHAB. 
Zebe rolled her eyes at Cele. “Duh.” 
Cele laughed and started talking about her project. “Some days I still can’…

Mongrel: Xanthe continued

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As Xanthe herself says this is a pure info-dump. If you are as patient as her twin you will find out some necessary facts. 
At the time of their capture, what was assumed to be a many-headed, many-limbed creature turned out to be a bunch of separate creatures, some of them very Earth-animal-like, for example the ape, and some, like the lavender-coloured woman with one huge leg, completely other-worldly. 
Cele King knew exactly but would anyone listen? She apparently was paid for her silence with a huge genetic-engineering project to be worked at the Reefarium … funny how I never met her when I came to see you. I suppose you had to sign a secrecy clause as well. Still, I am your twin. 
Cele comes from that same valley where the aliens splashed down and lived for the missing fifty years. I read the historical notes that SoHAB forced her to write before they would send her and the baby up north. Do you know that baby? He should be about thirteen. The female creatures call themselves a hudd…

Mongrel: Xanthe, Zebe's Twin

Xanthe, as you will find out, is the daredevil twin. In a time of normality that might work, but with a bunch of very alien aliens in the picture, daredevilry is much more difficult to turn into an advantage. 

From: School of Human and Alien Biology, Brisbane Secure Message Facility Xanthe to Zebe:
Hey Twinster, You are amazing how you still so often forestall me. That prophetic Celtic thing in you, I’m sure. I’d love to help make your dream come true. Don’t stress, I’m not losing the plot. Remember that I must embroider. It’s the Viking-daughter thing in me. I started undercover last week. A couple of days before your request, in fact. But so intensely serendipitous. Or should I say synchronous? Never could tell the two apart. 
Yes, in case you’re asking, at the School of Human and Alien Biology. The undercover part is where I masquerade as a cleaner. Quite okay to say where any human might want to read it, because it’s the ladies in the cage having the wool pulled over their eyes. Yo…