March 31, 2015

Free Fiction Friday: Shadowfall Part 1

As eclipse season one of two continues, so does the eclipse-fueled scifi here at Astroguyz.com. This week, we start in with an original four part tale: What kind of bizarre eclipses might occur on distant worlds? Our latest tale Shadowfall gives eclipse chasing a bizarre — and deadly — twist:

 

Shadowfall

Chapter 2

by David A. Dickinson

 

“C’mon kid,” Kendra heard Merak huff under his breath. “You’ve just gotta make it over this salt pan…”

Kendra knew it was a joke, of course, but she still lacked the will to turn around and slap him.

“What do you mean,” she heard Yeara call out from far in front, not even bothering to look back. “Out there, from behind the next barren salt pan?”

“You guys are just wasting energy,” Garath hollered back to all of them. “I’ll pass your drying skeletons next saros ‘round.”

“A lovely sentiment,” Kendra said under her breath to no one in particular.

She’d tried not to notice the appearance of an occasional skull and rib cage that jutted up from the crust of the desert pavement under her feet. Instead she ran faster, keeping her eyes focused on the distant flat horizon, with its flat grey expanse reaching up to meet the metallic blue sky. All around them, brighter stars and planets burned through, though the bloated red sun was high overhead, trying its best to fry their soft bodies to a crisp. Kendra knew that only the ancient backwards moving moon and their own two feet kept this grim fate from becoming a reality.

“Why don’t they just haul the old bodies off?”  Yera asked, half knowing the answer.

“It’s not worth the effort,” Kendra replied. “No one comes here to this old husk of a world any more. Why would they?”

“Just us,” Merak called out. “We’re the only ones crazy enough to tease hell.”

Kendra tried to ignore the burning in her lungs that stretched down to the very soles of her feet. She felt like someone had struck a match inside of her and was now slowly roasting her from the inside out.

She stuffed the sensation as deep inside of herself as she could. These weren’t her friends anymore. Not if she wanted to survive.  She tried not to think of home, or the lush blue waters of Slonath.

“Folks used to live here, y’know,” Merak said, pulling up along side of her. “Heck, they used to spend fortunes back on old Terra just to witness what’s going on over our heads just now.”

“Folks are crazy,” Yera barely huffed under her breath.

Was she faking it or dropping? Kendra thought to herself. She was so strong back on Grimm’s Planet…

“…and besides, those are just stories parents tell their kids when they don’t want ‘em to grow up and become spacer pilots.”

“The umbra is life,” Garath quoted their instructor, “Stay inside it and live.”

Kendra looked above her as the ghostly white glow of the corona shown down on them. Was that a flash? Was she falling behind? Were they even moving in the right direction? She saw rows of shadow bands race past her, a sure sign that she was on the grim edge of the moon’s shadow as it raced across the ancient and desiccated face of Priea.

She squinted to get a better look at the Elites. Herrick would be there, their trainer from back on Grimm’s Planet.

“They… say… if you run fast enough, you can get ahead of it, and take a ten minute break… before it catches up.” Kendra didn’t want to know who said that, and she forced herself to not even entertain the idea of stopping now.

“Don’t listen to him,” Yeara told her. “We’ll be passing his body burnt to a crisp at marker one.”

“I wonder how long you can really manage to live outside the shadow…” the boy continued, slowing pace. “Maybe they’re lyin’ to us…”

Kendra continued to concentrate and focus straight ahead. “There,” she said. “There’s Herrick.”

She could just see his tall wiry form in the muted light, rhythmically slapping out an intimidating pace. Unlike many of the other Elites, he disdained use of polarizing visors or smart wicking fabrics and preferred instead to run mostly unencumbered.

“And he’s not even augmented,” Yeara once whispered to her in training.

“This is his third Shadowfall,” Kendra said, noting the three diagonal hash marks tattooed on his leg. “He does this for fun.”

In the days leading up to their drop off on this scorched world, Kendra had tried to wrap her mind around what that meant. Fun had been the furthest thing from their minds when Kendra and the hundred-odd eligibles of the Diaspora had signed up to complete their first Shadowfall. They were 16 Terran years old, and some of them came from as far away as the outer Comet Cloud just for a chance to compete. Of course, most of the Diaspora tried to ignore the bleak reality that was Shadowfall. Many thought it was at most a diversion, a nod back to the days of human savagery.

“Most of you won’t make it,” Herrick told them in a flat baritone voice on their very first day.  “In the 30 hours it’ll take to reach the Terminator, most of you will simply fall back beyond the umbra and fry. Others of you may succumb to… other hazards. This isn’t your Mom’s garden tea party on Jangor now.”

Kendra had looked around her on that first training day at the glowing faces of hopefuls. Shadowfall was legend on some worlds, and some trained their whole lives for it. On other worlds, participation was expected; a family rite that bordered on the religious. You could tell the type, kids like Garath with a thousand-yard stare that looked old beyond their years.

And then there were the thrill seekers, those who’d grown tired of the predictability of virtual reality and now seemed bent on taunting the real thing.

Kendra was none of these. She could have declined the chance to run Shadowfall, but like most of the kids on Slonath, she’d thrown herself at a chance to escape the life in the slums that she would face otherwise. Completing a Shadowfall was a threshold, a gateway to a life as a Guardian and a way out of crushing servitude. A Guardian’s word was law, and those of the old Legion Order — like Herrick — were rarely trifled with.

“Less than 1 out of 20 of you will survive Shadowfall,” Herrick had continued during their training. “Few can keep pace with the umbra… and fewer still have the will.”

Kendra remembered looking around her that day in training, at the glowing young faces that drank in Herrick’s every single word. She wondered how many of these eager starlets would jump into the sack with Herrick right then and there, if given the chance.

“The shadow of the moon moves just fast enough during eclipse for you worms to keep up with it… that is, if you can manage to keep and sustain a brisk pace.”

“Why the astronomy lesson?” Merak had whispered to Kendra that day.

“Because I’ll be pissing on your dried bones next Shadowfall if you don’t pay attention,” Herrick shouted at them. “This is a testament to your ability to survive. If the Swarmers come back into this system again, we’re the only thing that can stop ‘em.”

To be continued…

Read Shadowfall and other original science fiction tales by David A. Dickinson.

Free Fiction Friday: Exeligmos Part 3

Here it is just in time for eclipse day: the final chapter of our time-spanning eclipse adventure Exeligmos. We’ve got lots more original sci-fi, eclipse-based and otherwise, on our Amazon author page… don’t forget to start this three-part tale back on Chapter 1.

Exeligmos Chapter 3

by

David A. Dickinson

Ever watch those the old vids made as the shadow of the Moon swung across the old United States for the first time in decades on August 21st, 2017? If you look hard, you’ll see me. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Exeligmos Part 2

We’re just one week out now from the first and only total solar eclipse of 2015. Can’t wait that long? Then travel through space and time in our chapter two installment of our sci-fi tale Exeligmos. Chapter 1 is also available online, and we’ll have the conclusion up next week!

Exeligmos chapter 2

by

David A. Dickinson

You can travel the length and breadth of our galaxy and not find the unique alignment in space and time that our own Moon offers. Some of my brethren have given up career and family to sit on the surface of Enceladus and watch Saturn’s Rings shimmer and drift over a pale distant Sun overhead, or catch Phobos transit the Sun as seen from the surface of Mars. Perhaps, the transits and eclipses of a terrestrial variety seem pedestrian, and dare I say… boring in this context to some. Me, I don’t try to guess the psychology of such benighted souls… if you get yours collecting tawdry 18th century postcards or by performing feats of astronomical improbability, hey, it’s alright by me. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Exeligmos Part 1

Welcome to our weekly serving of free and original science fiction here at Astroguyz.com. As the first eclipse season of 2015 draws neigh, we though we’d feature one of our many eclipse inspired tales entitled Exeligmos. What started as one eclipse sci-fi story soon grew into half a dozen, two of which are already completed and an are available online. Exeligmos is an adventure through space and time, and highlights one man’s dangerous obsession and his new-found ability to use a cutting edge technology to push it to the very limit. Enjoy!

Exeligmos

By

David A. Dickinson

Chapter 1

 

I was first bitten by the eclipse bug on October 19th, in the year 3000 AD as reckoned on the Old Calendar. I was eight years old, and my parents thought the trek to the Bolivian Andes might just feed that spark of interest in astronomy they saw in me as I rattled off the names of all 101 of Jupiter’s moons, or recited in discovery order every habitable world in the Local Group. Boy, they had no idea. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt For Beagle Part 9

It’s Friday, and here without further fanfare is the conclusion to our Mars-spanning adventure The Hunt For Beagle. You can start back at chapter 1 and read the entire tale here a chapter at a time on Astroguyz, or read the tale in its entirety over on Amazon.com.

Enjoy!

The Hunt For Beagle

by

David A. Dickinson

What happened next was a force unlike any Andrea had ever experienced. A blast of air slapped her in the back of the head, knocking them both off of their feet. They were both tossed like rag dolls down the passageway, towards the bay and the open Martian desert beyond. Andrea caught a glimpse of the clear, airless pink sky that lay beyond. It was like a bad dream. Everyone on Mars had a lingering subconscious dread of getting caught out in its near void unprotected. The guards, surprised at something that was never supposed to occur, barely had time to slide their breather masks in place before they could be sucked off their heads.  She closed her eyes and dug her head hard into Zeke’s side, fearing the final end was near… [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt for Beagle Part 8

And here it ’tis… chapter eight of our young adult, Mars-spanning adventure! For Chapter One, head here. You can read The Hunt for Beagle in its entirety over at Amazon.com.

The Hunt for Beagle

Part 8

by

David A. Dickinson

Andrea’s mom, Alexi, got off the call. She breathed hard and sighed. “They say all of the Gliders are grounded,” She began to Andrea’s older sister Kara, who had just arrived. “They won’t be able to mount a search until the storm wave passes”

“That could be weeks!” Kara shot back, nearly spilling her tea. The Terran Legion doesn’t give a damn…” [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt For Beagle Part 7

…and here it ’tis: Part 7 of our Mars-spanning adventure The Hunt For Beagle. You can read the entirety of the tale, or start from Part 1 online. Expect more tales from the Solar Winds Universe to come!

[Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt For Beagle Part 6

And here it is… our weekly offering of free and original fiction with chapter 6 of The Hunt For Beagle novelette. You can find lots more over at our Amazon author page!

Go here to start from Chapter 1.

The Hunt For Beagle

by

David Dickinson

Chapter 6

By Martian local noon, Andrea had begun to worry. Without communications, they only had T.I.N.A.’s internal navigation computer to go by, plus what her grandfather would call “stick-and-eyeball” reckoning. They should be near the Beagle 2 crash site, yet Andrea knew that due to their latest adventures, they weren’t even close. They had perhaps 60 more klicks to cover, and Zeke had noticed that their front axle was now slipping, no doubt due to their flight from the scavengers. “T.I.N.A. can’t repair her, not without her mobile unit,” Zeke explained. “I’ll probably have to crawl under and take a look when we stop.” [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt For Beagle Part 5

Here it ’tis; this week’s installment of our young adult Mars-spanning adventure. We’ve got lots more original science fiction available over on our Amazon author page!

 

The Hunt for Beagle

by

David A. Dickinson

Part 5

Andrea was amazed how clear the sky was, out from under the Saganopolis dome. The entire trail of the Milky Way could be seen, mottled with blackened scars. Earth was just off in the direction that the Sun had set, and squinting, Andrea could once again just pick out its solitary Moon. We all came from that improbable point in the sky, Andrea marveled. She tried hard to think of a place without pressure domes and air scrubbers. A place where they could walk free under the stars…but the thought made her dizzy. She wondered if they would ever go there. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt for Beagle Part 4

Here it ’tis… part 4 of our Mars-spanning adventure The Hunt For Beagle. This puts us neigh half-way through the tale… head back here to start from Part I. If you want to check out more stories in the Solar Winds universe featuring an older Ms. Makati  — and some original tales outside of it — head over to our Amazon author page.

And it’s rather ironic that news concerning the Beagle 2 spacecraft came out just last week! Clearly, there’s more to the tale to be told…

The Hunt for Beagle

Part 4

by

David A. Dickinson

Andrea kept watch over the virtual terrain as the Sun climbed higher in the Martian sky. Already, she felt the thrill of being out in the open Martian desert, somewhere she obviously wasn’t supposed to be. If her Mom had her way, she would go off to university just like her sister, without a whimper. But she didn’t feel suited for cubicle life. She wanted adventure…. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt for Beagle Part 3

Here’s this week’s installment of our Mars-spanning adventure set in the Solar Winds universe. Read it as a stand alone, or start back on Chapter I.  Or read The Hunt for Beagle in its entirety!

The Hunt for Beagle

Part III

by

David Dickinson

 

It wasn’t hard for her to summon up the time to approach Zeke between classes the next day. She slid coyly up to him as he munched on his sandwich.

“How’s things?” She said gamely. Zeke was taken back by her new found attention. The unspoken pattern between them was that he usually chased her, and then she chased whatever new unobtainable heart throb she currently fancied. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt for Beagle Part 2

As promised, here’s part II of our Mars-spanning epic. Also be sure to check out last week’s Part I, and read The Hunt for Beagle in its entirety.

The Hunt for Beagle

by

David A. Dickinson

Part II

They donned light excursion suits shortly after dusk and headed outside. The night was cool and calm and Andrea could feel the bite of the oncoming Martian winter even through her thermocycle, which was working overtime. Soon, men like her father would’ve been coming in from their months on the high plains. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: The Hunt for Beagle Part 1

It’s here!

As promised in 2015, we’re going to start offering excerpts from some of our free scifi novelletes, all available on Amazon for a few shekels. This week’s first story is set in our Solar Winds universe, and hey, if you’re not careful, you’ll get a lesson or two on early space exploration history before we’re done… [Read more...]

Mathematical Curiosities by Alfred S. Posamentier and Ingmar Lehmann

On sale now.

Today, we’ll delve into the exciting and exhilarating world of mathematics. Wait, wait, come back…

This week we’ll be looking at Mathematical Curiosities: A Treasure Trove of Unexpected Entertainments out from Prometheus Books by Alfred S. Posamentier and Ingmar Lehmann. [Read more...]

Review: The Return of the Discontinued Man by Mark Hodder

A sci-fi classic!

Alt-history Steampunk has never been hotter. We recently finished up the fifth book in a brilliant science fiction series courtesy of Pyr Books.  We’re talking about The Return of the Discontinued Man by Mark Hodder, out earlier this month. This is the fifth and (final?) book in the outstanding Burton and Swinburne series. We’ve chronicled our addiction to this series in the past, starting with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack up through The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon and The Secret of El Yezdi[Read more...]

Review: The Cosmic Cocktail by Katherine Freese

A stellar recipe!

It’s the hottest topic in modern astrophysics. What exactly is dark matter and dark energy? It is kind of amazing to think that astrophysicists do not yet completely understand just what most of the universe is made of. [Read more...]

Review: The Nebula Awards Showcase 2014

Out May 20th!

It’s out! One of the most prestigious awards in all of science fiction-dom is the annual Nebula Awards. Hey, Hollywood has the Oscars and the Grammys, and sci-fi has the Hugos and the Nebulas, as well as a scattering of other secondary awards. And every year around springtime, Pyr Books puts together an outstanding compilation of the “best of the best” as selected by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. [Read more...]

May 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Ah, tis the month of May.

Perhaps April showers may bring May flowers, but here at Astroguyz HQ, it also marks the very precipice of science fiction movie blockbuster season. The X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man 2 are all on our must see list. Is Marvel about to rule the world? And keep an eye out for those dark horse unknowns that often jump the gate just ahead of those sure-fire bets just prior to Memorial Day weekend. And hey, next year we’ll get a third Hunger Games, an Avengers sequel and a reboot of the Star Wars franchise… can the internet survive? Will fans take a shine to a galaxy far, far away according to Abrams? In the meantime, here’s some science fiction and more hot off of the press to keep you satiated: [Read more...]