Entry Nickname: Asteroid Snacks
Word count: 84K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Estranged form friends and family, Baku makes rent by doing odd jobs for her landlord and kills time flying her ship around the asteroid belt, hitting up seedy convenience stores for MSG chips. When she runs out of fuel and siphons some from a luxury cruiser, she sets in motion a series of misadventures that permanently alleviate her boredom.
The owner of the cruiser, Genevieve, forces Baku to pay for the fuel she stole. The only object of value Baku has is a silver coin she keeps as a good luck charm. Baku hands over her Siriusan denarius that, unbeknown to either of them, is worth millions of Ganymede Guilders.
The coin isn’t just valuable, it’s trouble. Possessing it leads Genevieve into the hands of paranoid but affable crime lord, Erik. Baku rescues her, but their subsequent attempts to evade Erik lead them into the world of forgery and organized crime.
When Erik captures Baku and holds her ransom, Genevieve forges art to secure her release. But Erik needs more than just art. He needs scapegoats to take the fall for the interstellar revolution he’s fomented by supporting two opposing sides of a Siriusan political conflict. And he isn’t afraid to doom Genevieve and Baku in his stead.
The Fly n’ Buy mechanic lay hibernating behind the checkout counter, his segmented body curled into a ball, his hundred eyestalks gently entwined. Above the till hung a sign that read ‘Pump Out Of Order.’
“Guess I flew here for nothing,” Baku said. “Better stock up on snacks in case I end up adrift for days.” She shrugged off her irritation. At least she’d gotten out of the house and filled a few empty hours.
Baku roamed the dim aisles. She loaded her hand basket with gummy worms, condensed potato starch chips, and a stale, greasy donut from a rotating hotdog heater. The Aldebaranians who worked this asteroid outpost never knew quite what to make of human food. They roasted coffee beans in the popcorn popper and dumped buckets of cold, gelatinous soup in the slushy machine.
Baku placed her basket on the counter. She fished in her coat pockets for coins and dropped a handful in front of the till. A Cordelian thaler and two Callisto rupees tinkled onto the silicon countertop.
The clerk trained one eyestalk on the coins, then on Baku. He motioned with a claw for more.
Baku dug deep in an inner pocket and found an Io yuan beneath a lump of lint. She dropped it beside the other coins. The clerk scooped the money into the till and placed the items in a bag, donut first.
“Thank you,” Baku said, having acquired all the accoutrements of identity she could afford. Maybe one day she’d spring for a soup slushy.
Title: Double Blind
Entry Nickname: Aliens, Catapults, Car Chases
Word count: 99K
Genre: Science Fiction
I am seeking representation for my completed, professionally-edited, 99,000-word science fiction novel, Double Blind, a story of alien contact. I was nine when Star Wars came out. I saw it in the theater seven times. I grew up, studied ecology and evolution, and became a biologist. But Star Wars stuck with me. The cantina scene stuck with me. I began to imagine how that cantina could exist, full of diverse aliens. How did it start? Let’s assume that one species was native there. Then another species arrived. They planted their own crops. They brought their own pets (and giant work animals). They presented massive challenges to the legal systems. Bartenders learned what the new folks drank.
I’m going to build that cantina, but out of hard science fiction. I’m not writing about the Star Wars universe. No Force in my world; no magic. Also no spaceships. If we’re honest about it, space travel looks too hard. We haven’t even gotten to Mars yet. Maybe interstellar travel is just not feasible. So how does my multi-alien world exist?
The aliens’ message reaches Earth in 2025. That message contains the instructions to develop alien life plus several thousand genomes. The aliens (Senders) seem to propose a swap, where humans raise aliens on Earth and the Senders raise humans on their planet. No mention of any spaceship.
Jose thought that his musings on alien biochemistry were theoretical and safe—go to a conference and spout some stuff. Now he’s growing alien species on Earth, and realizing that his project has determined enemies. When his remote African lab is raided, Jose scrambles to rescue the developing aliens. Soon the young and precociously violent Senders are loose in the African back-country. Jose’s past and that big scar on his scalp have taught him to avoid guns and danger, but now he has to decide how hard to fight for his cause.
Based on the genomes humans sent in a reply message, a Terran ecosystem has been established on a planet called Kaijo. But humans there live in an Iron Age society, with no sign of the alien Sender culture. Onso is a hunter who travels into the wilderness of Kaijo. That’s where he encounters the fierce Pachan and the odd species of their ecosystem. Onso isn’t really a “people person,” and now the people he’s working with are crab-like, semi-aquatic murderers. Onso must comprehend the Pachan in order to survive and possibly avert a war the humans seem sure to lose.
“You’re wanting Beta Hydri next?” asked Siyo, the telescope operator. Siyo put on his reading glasses and leaned into his screen.
“Please,” Oscar said. “Right ascension—”
“No, no, that one I got,” the operator interjected. “We get a lot of looks at her. Give me forty seconds and you’ll be on target.”
A hum shook the building. In the main chamber of the South African Large Telescope, heavy objects moved to take aim at the star. Oscar took the time to pull his trench coat over his slender frame. Even in November, the Southern Hemisphere summer, nights here were cold. He could see his reflection in the momentarily dark screen. Oscar’s hair was scarlet red, grown out from a Mohawk. Underneath the coat, his T-shirt sported a Higg’s boson joke.
The two men sat in the SALT control room in ergonomic blue chairs meant for sitting all night. A long bench supported computers and screens with wires snaking through the ceiling. One wall held a framed poster describing the main sequence of stars. Another had a small glass case with a hammer on a chain. Its label read:
In Case of Something Significant, Break Glass
The case contained a bottle of whiskey. Other than these two wall decorations, the space was relentlessly functional. It had only one small panel of physical controls, and half of that was the thermostat. A few mouse clicks controlled the movement of the 11-meter telescope. Eight screens were up and running on the long table, although Oscar and Siyo mainly used three.