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WC Brown

William Charles “Charlie” Brown is an American author of Science Fiction stories. His latest work, Daniel Shires and the Multiverse, is a story about parallel universes and the people who stumble into them.


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Space Opera

August 30th, 2019

I was digging through some older stuff looking for some story snippets and came across this bit from Chapter 8 of Star Charmer. It was too long for what I was looking for, but I really like it, so enjoy!

The only setup you need to know is that Thomas is the spaceship. M is his new companion-in-training, and Thomas’s spiderbots are all named after vice presidents because as he puts it, “they are mostly brainless and can’t do anything without my say-so.” Oh, and he forces them to wear costumes.

Before he could answer his own question, Thomas was interrupted by a sudden thump followed by a high-pitched hiss. M turned to see a tiny hole in the hull behind her and noticed a growing circle of blood soaking her shirt just before everything went black. Several drawers opened from what were previously smooth walls as she slumped to the floor. Spiderbots flooded out of the drawers and began dragging her limp body to the Med-Bay which had also opened out of its place inside the wall. A few spiderbots hurried to repair the holes in the hull caused by the micro-meteor. As the Med-Bay closed, M opened her eyes slightly and let out a few confused syllables.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you,” Thomas said, as she closed her eyes.

* * *

A day and a half later, the Med-Bay opened, and M sat up.

“So this is our Med-Bay,” she slowly swung her legs over the edge. After a moment, she stood, still a bit shaky. “What was that?”

“A micrometeoroid. It happens from time to time. Never went through a passenger before, though. That’s new.”

“Crew,” she corrected. “How long was I in here?”

“Thirty-six hours. Haven’t you ever been in one before?”

“No. My friend was once. She fell out of a tree and broke her arm. It only took a few minutes. Wow, thirty-six hours. That must be some kind of record.”

“Oh no, not even close. One of the other survey ships told me a story about a repair that took a month. Apparently, there were residual skin cells from a previous repair job. The Med-Bay stowed itself away inside the wall, but at some point, the damn thing came on by itself without anyone noticing. It was probably some sort of Single-Upset-Event, perhaps a cosmic ray.”

“Single-Upset-Event?” she asked and yawned.

“That’s what they call it when a bit of radiation affects some electronics. The ship didn’t notice because it’s a completely isolated system. The passenger didn’t notice because the Med-Bay was still inside the wall until it finished and opened up with his clone sitting there looking all dazed.”

“A clone?”

“That’s right. It made a perfect copy from the residue DNA but without any memories. So, it couldn’t even speak. Complete tabula rasa - a blank slate.”

“What did they do with him?”

“Well, they did the only thing you can in a situation like that. They taught it to play cards,” he said as the spiderbots laughed.

M frowned. “More nonsense. Which fallacy is that?”

She walked around to get her balance back and noticed a new spiderbot wearing a silver funnel hat and carrying an oil can.

“I love this one because it’s close to several fallacies. Firstly, our friend number eleven again, Appeal to Authority, where you believe something just because your cousin’s friend from two towns over knows what he’s talking about because he was there. The second one is number twenty-five Ad Nauseum where a story gains credulity through repetition. If you say something often enough, people will believe it. The third fallacy is another one we’ve covered already…”

Don’t Trust Anything Thomas Says,” she repeated with sarcasm.

He laughed, and the spiderbots chittered again.

“The give-away is the Med-Bay being isolated. You should have caught that, M. It’s not a simple Stitcher. It can’t do a thing without me.”

“Whatever. So, we should be at the asteroid by now, right?” she said.

“Well, not exactly.”

“So, where are we?”

“I…pulled out all the reactor safeties and turned back for Earth. We’re nearly there. I suppose we can turn around now that you’re done with your little holiday.”

“You were worried about me,” she accused grinning.

“No, I wasn’t,” he said with indignation, “I simply wanted to be ready for a replacement should that become necessary.”

“Liar. Why the hurry just to drop off a dead body?”

“I have submitted the request for a gravity assist maneuver around Earth so that we can get back on schedule,” he said, ignoring her.

“We have a schedule?”

“No, but I love speed. Speed is goo-ood. Speed is right! This might even be a personal-best for me.”

As they came around the planet in a close arc, Thomas accelerated like a rock in a slingshot.

“No - No - No! Oh, that’s disappointing. Missed it by one percent!”

“It’s over already? I didn’t feel a thing.” M said, surprised.

“Oh, right. Sorry about that. I didn’t mean literally hang on. I keep a constant one gee inside for the comfort of my passengers.”

“Crew,” she corrected, but he ignored her.

“Although,” he laughed, “I discovered through experimentation that I could gradually increase it to one-point-five gees before Dennis noticed.”

“Hey Thomas,” she said in a serious tone, “Thanks - I owe you one.”

The sound of the reply from the committee filled the cabin. It said, “Asteroid Survey Ship Thomas is denied permission to perform gravity assist maneuver,” they both laughed.

Rob Reid

June 28th, 2019

Holy crap! I just finished bingeing on Rob Reid’s amazing podcast ‘After On’

If you have a brain, you need this. If you think of yourself as well-informed, he will disabuse you of that quickly.

The free bag of crack that got me started was his Ted talk. If you haven’t watched that, go now!

The podcast episodes are long; they run about an hour, and they are deep dives with real experts that will scare the buh-jebus out of you. They’re so thick with detail, I’m planning to listen to all of them at least twice because I’m sure I missed things. (When I listen to content that is engaging to this level, my mind wanders off on some nugget, and it’s several minutes before I can get my focus back to the source. That’s when the ‘go back 30 seconds’ button saves my sanity.)

Sorry for the brevity. I’m keeping this short so I can get back to listening!

Seriously, Rob F*#ing Reid!

Ancient Treasure

June 14th, 2019

Well, ancient may be a bit of hyperbole. The Tickencote Treasure was originally published only 116 years ago. This wonderful tale of an English gentleman caught up in the accidental obsession of a treasure caught my attention when I was searching for similar books. The tragedy for anyone who loves treasure stories is that there are so few and searching always yields either ‘Treasure Island,’ picture books for five-year-olds, or non-fiction stories which are entertaining but all too similar to be taken seriously. I’ll have to write another blog article someday about how many stories there are about a dying vagabond who bequeaths a map to a vast treasure to the heroic doctor who made his last hours more pleasant.

I love the self-referential quality of the difficulty in finding good stories about treasure. A treasure hunt to find a book about a treasure hunt is very G.E.B. It’s also a slice of the larger tragedy of finding any book that is “just right” for the tastes of any particular person. My hope is that someday soon, machine learning will be able to give each of us genuinely unbiased recommendations.

For those who like a bit of Victorian fiction, I recommend this treasure about treasure. The Tickencote Treasure is available free in several formats - all a bit awkward to use - from Project Gutenberg. Or, you can listen to the mp3’s I made for myself. These are by no means audio-book quality (‘read’ comes out sounding like ‘red’ instead of ‘reed’) but, they are on par with the Kindle’s text-to-speech. That being said, why didn’t I just have the Kindle do it? The problem I had with the Kindle was that it stopped only a few minutes into my morning walk. I put it in my pocket, and I think it stopped when it went into sleep mode. Another frustration was losing my place, and I really missed the feature of Overcast, the app I use to listen to Podcasts, which lets me go back 15 seconds. This ‘what did he just say?’ feature is so useful I just couldn’t do without it, so I added that to the webpage I made just to listen to this book.

If you have found another old treasure like this one and want to make your own mp3s, check out my previous post Text-To-Speech

Daniel Shires and the Multiverse

May 26th, 2019

Daniel Shires and the Multiverse

Daniel Shires and the Multiverse is a Science Fiction/Adventure novel by WC Brown about inter-dimensional travel to alternate worlds.

What’s it about?

It’s about a hidden part of the universe - a powerful secret which affects us all, yet none of us can see.

It’s about a ten-year-old boy named Daniel who discovers it and uses it to travel to other worlds full of strange creatures.

It’s about a man named Fate who also knows the secret and has used it to cheat death for five hundred years.

The secret that only Daniel and Fate know, is the existence of three invisible lines which connect us to our universe. Each of us has a North-South line, another for East-West, and a third for Up-and-Down.

Each time we make a complete turn, we have twisted one of these lines and wrapped the other two around us. If we turn back around in the other direction, we can untwist the lines, but since they are invisible, we don’t know to do this, and we get more hopelessly entangled every day of our lives.

Every few hundred years, entirely by chance, one lucky individual finds himself untwisted, and witnesses firsthand its powerful effects. It exerts a strong psychological influence on anyone within range and sends animals into a frenzy. It also endows its possessor with unnaturally good fortune.

Fate is one of these untwisted people, and until he meets Daniel, he thinks he’s the only one.

Daniel has not only discovered the lines, but unlike Fate, he can also see them. Together, they must stay one step ahead of a murderer named Vogel who has had his lines completely severed - an unfortunate state which has its own set of side effects.

There are dangers at every turn! Strange people, strange worlds and even stranger creatures!

*Parental warning: This story contains violence that some parents may find inappropriate for children under the age of 9.

Star Trek and smoking while praying?

March 3rd, 2019

Many years ago, a friend told me the ‘Can I smoke while I pray?’ story. For those unfamiliar, it’s a lesson in how to ask a question. There are many variations: A man asks two priests the same question rephrased, a man asks the same priest the rephrased questions, and so on.

Man: Father, can I smoke while I pray?

Priest: Of course not! It would be an affront to God!

Man: Okay, then. I’m going out for a smoke. (turns around at the door Columbo-style) Oh, father?

Priest: Yes my son?

Man: If I get the urge while I’m smoking, can I pray?

Priest: Of course my son. God is always listening.

So, what does this have to do with Star Trek? Seth MacFarlane

I was upset when Star Trek The Next Generation(STTNG) was canceled, and apparently, so was Seth. The story goes, that he pitched a very similar straight-up space adventure show to FOX but was rejected because - well, he’s the comedy guy right? So, Seth made a spoof of Star Trek, got it past the narrow-minded decision makers that, at least in my mind, dominate every network, and bided his time.

I watched as each episode of The Orville added more serious SciFi elements, less slapstick, and fewer cheap jokes. Seth was getting to smoke while he prayed.

Let’s not forget that STTNG tried to be funny occasionally too. It usually fell flat, and like the occasional soap opera episode we all had to endure, they were worth it because we eventually got space battles with The Borg. So, for all of you who think SciFi shouldn’t be funny(looking at you Steve Gibson) and turned up your noses at The Orville, I say, watch Season 2 Episodes 8 & 9 “Identity” and “Identity part II” This two-parter is straight up space warfare against an enemy that seems invincible.

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