Category Archives: Published Stories

Intelligent Design

Intelligent design is the evil stepchild of a way of “thinking” that goes back to the time of Darwin. In it’s most simplistic form it’s known as “creationism” – now renamed to “young Earth creationism”. It’s the concept that the ostensibly biblical six-day story of creation is in fact correct. Leaving aside the disturbing fact that the bible has more than one creation story, it’s still such a ridiculous idea that I wouldn’t even attempt to write something based on it.

But “old Earth creationism”  or Intelligent Design is another matter. In this slightly more sophisticated “theory”, the evolution of new life forms over a long time span is accepted, but there’s an invisible hand guiding it all. That hand is, of course, the Christian God, though the proponents make a point of never stating that.

Now I don’t buy into that theory either, but I write Science Fiction, and I started to think: What if they were right. What would be a scientifically plausible scenario where Intelligent Design could be believable?

And I also speculated that if living beings were designed by some greater intelligence, the religious fundamentalists behind the Intelligent Design movement might not actually be too happy to learn the nature of that intelligence.

This story is the result of all that .

http://www.quantummuse.com/story.php?RecID=623

 

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The Vanishing Hairdresser

My third published Sean and Cindy story finds our heroes helping local Sheriff Ollie Gustafson to solve a mystery – what’s happened to Cindy’s hairdresser, her husband, and their three miniature schnauzers? This story, while it stands alone, depends on my two previous Sean and Cindy stories for full character development.

I tried to write this like a classic mystery complete with red herrings and a limited point-of-view (Cindy’s) so that the reader can slowly discover facts as the POV character does.  These red herrings, or false leads are part of what I love about the British mystery shows I eagerly devour, shows like George Gently, Touch of Frost, and Foyle’s War.

Here’s the link:

Vanishing Hairdresser

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Two-Edged Sword

I’ve always been fascinated by time paradoxes, but many stories about time travel seem, to me, to be quite lazy about getting the logic right. I think a lot of authors just want to put their characters into different time periods and play with “what-ifs” based on changing history, or maybe just use the time period as a setting for action.  What I like is really exploring what could happen by changing the past, especially your own past.

Many years ago I read “The Man Who Folded Himself” by David Gerrold. The book explores what happens when a young man visits himself in the past and the future. Gerrold has a wonderful imagination, and the book stayed with me all these years. Not only did it address time paradoxes as well as anything I’d ever read, it also broke new ground with its treatment of gay characters.

I decided to write a kind of homage to that book – a very short story, barely longer than a flash, that would also have a gay character, but would also deal with the issue of AIDS, unknown to Gerrold at the time he wrote the book. You could think of AIDS as something akin to the Mule in Asimov’s Foundation trilogy – something completely unexpected, impossible to predict, impossible to deal with using the laws of probability.

Two-Edged Sword tells two rounds of a story that swirls in time, circling back and forth, never ending. Each round changes something, and that causes changes that cycle back. I took away the cop-out of multiple time streams and instead looked at the time stream as something that doesn’t have an arrow – that can move in both directions, or more properly, in a circle.

Take a look and decide for yourself how well I succeeded.  www.quantummuse.com

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Murder in the Oak Forest

Sean and Cindy return to solve the mystery of a strange skeleton found in the forests of the oak that Sean buys and ‘exports’. This story is a follow-on to my story Cindy’s New Profession and my fifth published story. You can read it at this link.

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Critical Mass

Critical Mass is my go at a post-apocalyptic story. I’ve always kind of liked that genre – that is until it got taken over by zombies and other forms of the undead. The earliest and probably still best of the P-A genre has to be Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz”. I re-read this book, first published in the 1950’s, just before starting Critical Mass and it influenced me greatly. I decided to make an homage to one of the all-time great SciFi books. See farther down for all the references.

Critical Mass is about a commune on a river island in Nebraska that survived a horrible plague. It’s become a refuge of information in a world that has fallen into a new dark age. It’s charismatic founder does his best to hold onto the scientific knowledge he so reveres, but reality knocks at the door with greater and more disturbing regularity, creating a crisis in the commune that is the central plotline. This story is completely outside the world of many of my stories. There aren’t any aliens, and nobody comes from another planet to save the commune members. They’re on their own, and have to make very hard choices to ensure their survival.

Themes of the practical verses the ideal, and the proper use of available technology drive the story. The central human conflict is the same as the conflict between the two choices the commune has for protecting itself.

The link to this story is here

Here are all the references to “Leibowitz” in Critical Mass

1. The concept of the Simplification, here turned into a religion.

2. “Leibowitz” author Walter Miller’s name is used for the military commander in the story.

3. The first section of “Leibowitz” takes place in an abbey and focuses on a monk, Francis Gerard. I use that name for one of my main characters.

4. The leader of the abbey in “Leibowitz” is Brother Arkos. In Critical Mass I use that name for Dr. Arkos, the charismatic founder of the commune.

Thanks to Bewildering Stories for giving me a voice by publishing my work!

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Cindy’s New Profession

I borrowed a character from my novel “Brighter than the Stars” for “Cindy’s New Profession” – Jason Wise (he’s Sean in this story).  His vanity, intense sexuality, and cavalier attitude toward life and the world he’s chosen to live in fit perfectly with the little northwoods community where he meets the town’s lone prostitute – Cindy Johanssen. Cindy holds down a second job as a waitress at the Tall Timber – the only restaurant within thirty miles, and so she gets to know all the interesting characters that come into the area – and you’d be surprised – there are some very unusual visitors to her little town!

I’ll just stop right there, because discovering what’s really going on is what makes this story fun.

Here’s the link

Cindy’s New Profession

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Paradise Lost

This is a very short, but very serious story that is part of a cycle of stories that I’m writing, all trying to answer the question: “What if the Intelligent Design people are right?” OK, if you’re not a religious fundamentalist, you probably must think that I’m some bible thumper now, but you’d be wrong. I simply wanted to take an idea, which I personally don’t think makes any sense at all, and try to make it work in the world of science and natural phenomena.  Intelligent Design advocates, who are the direct descendents of Creation Scientists, believe that some amorphous Head Designer created the world. By doing this, the Head Designer becomes what they call God.

But what if they were right? How would it all work? What would God’s real nature be if he/she/it were a super-scientist who created our world? To simplify, I limit the act of creation to just that of the human species, and I make the Designers plural – a whole race of aliens. The story is told from the point of view of the first generation of humans cut off from their designers (whom they call gods). It centers around a conflict between a priest and warrior. The priest wants the people to remember the gods (designers), worship them, and pray for their return (sound familiar?). The warrior counsels people to live for themselves, forget about their origins.

The story is written in a style that one commentator said reminded him of Roger Zelazny in Lord of Light. I was striving more for a very slight resemblance to Hesse’s Siddhartha, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Lord of Light was inspired by Siddhartha. The title’s allusion is, I hope obvious, and the core story is in fact a retelling of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

You can read it here:

Paradise Lost

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