My buddy Jack says he can get me a copy of Plasma Frequency Magazine. Well, he says he knows “a guy who knows a guy.” I’m at his house, helping him set up for a coworker’s surprise 70th birthday/retirement party.
We lift an over-sized paper cake from the back of his truck, and I struggle to support half of it and walk backwards across his lawn.
“Where’d you find … a cake … with a stripper … already inside?”
“I know a guy.”
I grunt as I climb his deck stairs. “Next time … empty cake … stripper … climbs in later.”
We set the cake on the deck. When my heavy breathing stops, I hear a tap-tap-tap-tap. I squat down and look underneath the cake. Greenish-yellow fluid drips from it.
Jack squats beside me. “Aw, man. Did she pee in there?”
I point to where the fluid hits the deck. It bubbles and eats a hole.
Jack looks at me. “There’s no stripper, is there?”
“Not a live one, anyway.”
We reach for our pistols, but before we can draw, a baby xenomorph bursts from the cake in a shower of confetti. It leaps from the end of the deck and disappears into the bushes.
Jack grabs my arm. “You’ve got to help me hunt it down. My homeowners’ association is a real bunch of pricks.”
“We need a dog to track it.”
“OK, I know a guy.”
“The cake guy?”
“Nah, this guy’s totally legit. Just got back from taking sled dogs to Antarctica. Don’t worry about a thing.”
“Not a thing?”
“Not a thing.”
Permutations of the Soul by Melanie Rees. People check with a supercomputer before they make any decision. I think the story is a message about over-reliance on technology, or possibly even over-reliance on other people’s advice.
Noah’s Ark by Sagnik Datta. A spaceship is headed to another “galaxy” 197 light-years from Earth, and has to go around yet another “galaxy” to get there. It’s really inexcusable that someone would write a sci-fi story and use the word “galaxy” when they have no idea what a galaxy is. Two seconds glancing at the wikipedia page for galaxy shows you a picture with a caption telling you a representative galaxy is 55,000 light-years in diameter. The author ties with the magazine’s editor for “laziest slacker of the year” award.
Anyway, in the story, a clone lives his last day aboard the spaceship, before he is euthanized and replaced by a new clone.
Coffee and Ambrosia by Taylor Hornig. A Greek goddess visits a coffee shop, and gives a girl a drink of ambrosia. That’s about it.
The Herpetologist’s House Call by George Walker. A warranty call on a robotic boa constrictor.
Sacrificial Virgins for Hire by George Walker. A dragon-slaying story.
Back-up to the B-Team by Adrian Simmons. Colonists crash-land on a planet. The guy scouting for uranium to keep the colony’s reactor running comes back empty-handed, but says something like ‘even better, I found flint!’ I guess the next colonist to get cancer will be just as happy with flint-knife exploratory surgery as they would be with an MRI and radiation therapy.
On High by Scott Shank. A foreigner visits a mountaintop oracle. The author does an impressive job of laying out a detailed setting using more dialog than description.
River, Carry Me Away by Anna Yeatts. A woman who turns into fire during daytime meets a fisherman. Nothing of consequence happens.
The Afterward by Daniel Horn. A spaceship pilot gets confused as his propulsion system tosses his consciousness between his past and future.
Fylgia in the City by Ian Rose. A spirit thing, that can only be seen by people about to die, is freaked out when a whole town can see it. The town gets nuked.
Brown Cat Blues by Vaughan Stanger. A person’s anxiety manifests as a ghost.
Design Flaw by Melody Sage. A man whose girlfriend committed suicide has an android replica of her. The android is programmed to repeatedly attempt suicide so he can save her.
Interlopers by JF Pierce. A conspiracy theorist, who works at (and lives in) a junkyard, encounters chupacabras. The guy has a pet cat. I can accept that he has a cat instead of a fierce guard dog. It’s an interesting little character difference. I can’t accept that he named his cat “Mr. Fluffy Britches”. He wouldn’t come up with that, and wouldn’t find it amusing if it were suggested to him. He would name his cat “Skeeter”.
If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy author, I’m the kind of fan you can look forward to having. I don’t even blink when the story is based on chupacabras, but get the cat’s name wrong…
Someone challenged me to write a birthday party intro story because today is the birthday of both Arthur C Clarke and Philip K Dick, two science fiction authors famous enough to have middle initials, but not famous enough for entire middle names. (I tried to guess, but failed with Chester and Kelvin.)
I’ve recently read an Arthur C Clarke book, and I’ll review it when I get some free time. I haven’t read anything by Philip K Dick lately, but maybe I’ll dust off some of his short stories.