A Network of Writing and Community Publishers

'Science Fiction'
February 2012

04 May 2012


I was born on Mars.
We grew up in peace
and hope and air.

Then the air ran out.

Most of us died. Some
did not. We grew.

New parts. New lungs,

gills; lost mouths.
We speak mind to mind.

We are new. All new.

You are old. Too old.
We are now. You are then.

We are here. Now here.

Now is ours. Not yours.
Go now. Go now. Now.

Brian Docherty
Word for Word Writers Group

for Arthur C. Clarke, ‘The Nine Billion Names of God’

Presently George glanced at his watch.
The watch stared back at George then it
spoke to him:“What are you waiting for?”
The voice wasn’t little & tinny like he
might have expected if he had ever thought
about how a talking watch might sound,

any more than he had ever wondered

what a talking horse might sound like.
George thought of home as the little pony
moved across the purple grassy plains
towards his house. He could see his
wives standing together under the porch,

their blue skin glowing softly under

the new moons. He had forgotten that
both moons would be out tonight,
hanging low in the sky to light him
home. As he crossed a small stream
marking the boundary between

his families land & the common grazing,

a shimmer pulled his pony forward
while pushing against his chest.
Both wives waved then, calling Ge-orge,
Ge-orge, reminding him of the family
joke that he was their only Ge-orge.

He barely noticed the stars little dance

in the sky, re-arranging themselves
as if in obedience to an unseen, unheard music.
He was coming home to his wives,
to a fire, to his dinner, to an account
of his daughters’ day at school.

Brian Docherty
Word for Word Writers Group


Moulded from the blueprint of

Mother Nature’s spawn
Human in symmetrical form
Unemotional blue eyes embedded
Within a facial flesh like Substance
The straightened earthy coloured
Hair doth ceased to grow
Stripped of a naming identity
A motherhood deprived
Devoid of an inward scar, the
Non-existent bodily cord
Where feeding lifeblood never flowed
An artificial life without a past
The creeping teenage years that
Never dawn
An age of innocence everlasting

Mark Crittenden


Nikki rushed across the silent desolate street, before making her way down the station approach towards the ticket office, part of an old red bricked building, which stood out amongst the newly looking concreted car park and the surrounding green trees and bushes.
After repeatedly twisting the oval metallic handle of the blue chipped painted door, followed by a frenzy of pushing and pulling, which made its opaque glass window rattle. Nikki soon acknowledged, through the silence and darkness from within, that the ticket office was closed.

Nikki passed through a nearby opened side gate, before walking towards a fading timetable, which was beginning to peel away from the wall. Nervously scanning her dirtied finger down the list of destination stops and their scheduled times, she strained her eyes in trying to decipher the small print. A train was due at 10.34 am. Looking at her watch, she noticed that it was 11.05 am, the time which corresponded closely with the loud tick tocking of the suspended clock, situated above her head. That very tick tocking, apart from the squawking of a crow or the torn page of a poster flapping about in the breeze, which drowned out the total silence of the isolated platform, whose adjacent railway lines winded and cutted through the tree lined embankments into what appeared to seem like nothingness.

Nikki’s eyes were suddenly caught by a red lettered sign, with a white background, reading, ‘NO TRAINS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.’

Giving off a weary sigh, Nikki sat down on a wooden bench. She rubbed her eyes frantically, and then proceeded in taking off her shoes and socks, after which she gently massaged her aching feet, before making her way to the toilet blocks, at the end of the platform, which, to her relief, were unlocked.

Amidst the cold white shiny tiles, and their matching enamel conveniences, the sound of dripping water, in a cistern, broke the still deafening silence. Nikki made her way to the end washbasin. She looked up into a mirror. A face with bloodshot and puffed up eyes, accompanied by a head of filthy matted blonde hair, stared back at her.

For that very reflection, part of a figure, donning a dirty raincoat and muddy scruffy jeans, had been walking aimlessly for days, living off the berries from the woods and the water from the fresh cold streams, only stopping to sleep in abandoned farm outhouses or the odd abandoned car.

That reflecting pale face that was beginning to reveal signs of madness, possibly the consequence of not seeing, hearing, or speaking to a living soul for days, evident in the false belief that the trains would be operating, akin to a thirsty man in a desert who spots a mirage of water.

It would have been this very train, a five-minute journey, that would have taken her to the next village, where the family’s second home, a cottage, was located. If Nikki were to reach this safe haven, then it would mean another few hours of being exposed to tiresome trekking in a threatening land of isolation and vulnerability.

Nikki held her hand under the soap dispenser and pushed the button repeatedly. A trickle of foam spattered the palm of her hand, followed by an empty squelching sound. She rinsed her face with cold water, before leaving the station and heading up the lane, past the red bricked semi-detached houses, with their neatly kept front lawns, and threatening leering darkened empty windows, into the unknown distance beyond.


Climbing over some rusting barbed wire, ripping one of the legs of her jeans and scratching her ankle in the process, Nikki stumbled into what appeared to be a muddy field, trapping one foot in the quagmire. After straining to release her foot, which gave off revolting squelching sound, Nikki hurriedly made her way across the threatening empty landscape until she reached the side entrance to the family cottage.
Entering the property at the rear, Nikki made her way through the now unkempt and overgrown garden; that very garden, where family gatherings on a hot summer Sunday afternoons took place a lifetime ago, with endless chattering and the innocent laughter of playing children, which echoed around in her head as she searched for the kitchen door key amongst the array of different sized plant pots.

Discovering that the key was in the lock from the inside, Nikki pulled the sleeve of her raincoat over her hand, before punching the glass and carefully placing her hand through the window and unlocking the door.

Nikki entered the silent darkness of the kitchen. Flicking the switch, she discovered that the light wasn’t coming on. Suddenly, a stench hit her like an invisible brick wall. She searched the kitchen cupboards until some candles were located. Lighting one of them, Nikki discovered that the smell was emerging from the fridge, nearly vomiting at the smell of soul milk as she slowly opened the door.

Coming across an old camp stove, Nikki boiled some water whilst emptying the remaining coffee from a jar into a cup.  Whilst sat at the table, Nikki lit up a cigarette and began to drink the black coffee, before starting to reflect back on her life.


Nikki was once a well brought up lady, beautiful yet considerably wealthy: nice designer clothes, plush apartment in the metropolis, not to mention being decently educated in an exclusive school. Nikki had it all. But all of this had one major downfall; it had conditioned her to be selfish, disheartened and greedy, with no real remorse or feelings for others.

She thought that she was different to, and better than, everyone else, until that fateful day when ‘they’ came. Nobody knew who ‘they’ were, where ‘they’ came from, and what ‘they’ had originally looked like. One thing was certain, once ‘they’ caught up with you, the consequences were catastrophic, the discovery of which had led her to the family cottage, for she knew that ‘they’ would not find her here.


The next morning, Nikki bravely ventured out of the cottage and into the village lane, once again walking into the threatening silence. It was cold and the sky was overcast.

Feeling thirsty, Nikki approached the village shop. To her surprise, the door was unlocked, despite a sign in its window saying, ‘Closed.’

Inside, she made her way through the turned over shelves, trampling over the sprawling array of magazines, newspapers, packets of crisps, and sweets, until she reached the refrigerator. Selecting a warm bottle of mineral water, Nikki made her way to the counter. The till had been wedged open and its contents removed. She placed the money, for the drink, on top of the counter, and left the shop.

Walking further down the lane, Nikki discovered a stile. Climbing over it, she entered a nearby woodland. Trees were stripped of their leaves, and a mist was escalating. Not a living creature could be seen or heard. The only sounds were the rustling of dead leafs and the snapping of twigs beneath her feet as she walked deeper into the woods.

In the distance, Nikki spotted a shroud of figures, with white pale faces and unemotional staring eyes. The group slowly approached her and stopped. One of them stepped right up to her. Holding Nikki’s head with both hands, the figure placed his mouth over her nose, sucking her brain fluid out through her nostrils. Her face turned pale and her eyes became fixed. She was transforming into one of ‘them’: lifeless, soulless, indifferent and unemotional, but now equal.

Before total transformation took place, Nikki, who couldn’t bear to be the same as everyone else, recalled an article, she read as a child, where five Barnsley miners, in 1860, were disintegrated with water after suffering similar consequences. Taking this into consideration, Nikki undressed and walked into a nearby lake, placing her head under the water. A large spill of blood emerged to the surface, shortly followed by a grinning skeleton, donning blonde hair.

Mark Crittenden

100 years later

Imagine going to sleep for 100 years

Time would have erased all your fears
The world you had lived in would be such a strange place
Inhabited by an unfamiliar race
Modern technology is much more advanced
People walk around like they are in a trance
The roads are empty there is no need for cars
To get where you want, you dont travel far
You just walk straight through magical doors
or get sucked in through magical floors
Its like you disappear for a few seconds without a trace
then you are transported to another place
Modern convenience has made people fat and lazy
And all the waves in the atmosphere are sending them crazy
There is no need for children to go to school
They are programmed with knowledge, they know every rule
Food has no place, there is no need to eat
Nutrients come in tablet form, chocolate flavour for a treat
The workd has been taken over by modern technology
And the harmful waves are changing peoples biology
You went to sleep and woke up 100 years later
but is the future really that much greater

Liz Jury

2084  (an Orwellian future.)

Manifesto for a new World Order.

Every man individually responsible for their own actions.

Health and procreation.

We evolved to live in small tightly knit communities. No town should be more than around 2000 people. Cities are a mistake. The world has too many people. Seven billion is about five billion too many. The population needs regulating by enforced birth control. It will be have to be enforced by the state since we are never going to do so voluntarily. Because if we don't do something soon, Malthusian nature will cull humanity with war, drought and famine.

Prospective parents would need to prove they have the knowledge and resources to provide for the upbringing of their child until it becomes an adult. They would be expected to provide for its education in the same way they pay for food and clothing. Couples could only apply to be parents when they have a stable marriage and no health or genetic problems. Successful applicants would learn parenting for at least one year from experienced parents who had raised well adjusted children. If parents failed (despite help) to show love, or to discipline them to become good citizens, their children would be fostered. Instead of "Every Child Matters" would be Childhood Matters - meaning children require control and moral boundaries. Good behavior rewarded with love and praise but bad behavior receiving strict punishment.

The health service has too much red tape. Each hospital should be autonomous with matrons and doctors setting policy. The hospitals that work well would compete for patients and the best would get more funding. Admin would be cut by 75% with the savings going into better healthcare.

People who choose to smoke or drink or over-eat or use drugs have made a choice, the money spent on the smoking ban and anti-smoking / drinking campaigns is wasted because people now know the dangers. (Perhaps we need an anti-procreation campaign.) Public places e.g. bars should be able to opt out of the smoking ban, if non-smokers don't want to go inside they have many alternatives. Cannabis should be made legal for individual use. On the other hand, people who become ill because they choose to smoke or drink or over-eat should expect their health care to receive lower priority. Problems resulting from alcohol or drug abuse would still be a criminal matter.


Close all the schools, there will be far fewer children in the new world order and, at first, surplus teachers. Teachers should be individual tutors , one to one is the best way to learn. (except siblings) Parents would choose a teacher on the basis of their reputation and pay them accordingly. There would be no need for regulation or standards since if a teacher shows poor results, no one would use them. Children under six would stay at home with their parents. The state would support families so that mum / dad can stay at home. Day care and child-minding would disappear, since parents would have the time and resources to devote to them. Obviously it takes very special people to be full-time parents and only about 25% of adults would be breeding stock. For everybody else there would be compulsory sterilization.

Young people who want to go on to University should basically pay for it themselves. Places at University should be strictly limited to the best 10% of all adolescents. The Universities would have only the very best in teaching and resources. Students would be expected to work and to think. Subjects offered would be: Classics, Languages, History, Geography, Sciences, Mathematics, Art, Music, Political Economics  - but not media studies or management. If you want to learn a trade or vocation you should learn on the job. Since there are no schools as such, there are now no standard examinations. Industries, services and universities would set their own entrance tests to get a job or a place.

Wages and Housing.

The payment of outrageous salaries will be abolished. Wages capped at five times the minimum wage. Eg. If the cleaners get £12,000 a year then the director / chairman can only take £60,000. This would apply throughout industry, services, politics, entertainment (celebrities) sports, media, arts etc. Entrepreneurs and inventors and people who make significant contributions to society (eg. artists, scientists, doctors) should be specially rewarded. Financial trading (in stocks and shares) would be heavily taxed.

Private rental will be abolished, tenants would be given the property they have paid rent on. The profit from all rental contracts would be sequestered to buy homes for ex-tenants.

Crime and Punishment.

The law is just too complicated. Get rid of most of the judicial system. Criminals should not get away with community service or ASBOs. In the new word order most citizens would be armed and householders would have the right to shoot burglars. Businesses and shops could employ armed security. But criminals using weapons could be shot on sight. Anyone caught for serious offenses would be promtly executed. (no long appeals.) Lesser offenders would be made to do unpleasant or dangerous work that society needs doing.


Large standing armed forces are unnecessary today. Instead there would be armed citizenry. No country could occupy another because the people would not submit. The main use of the army would be conscription. Every citizen would learn self reliance by compulsory six months basic training to learn discipline, fitness and survival. Countries should not interfere in other countries internal affairs. If the world government votes to topple a regime or fight a war, they could use covert special forces who go in or use advanced weapons like biological agents to remove the generals without mass warfare.


There are too many politicians. What good do they do ?

Get rid of 60% of politicians. Choose politicians on the basis of results. Have economics and political science taught by people who have shown real results. Reward progress. Fire politicians when they make too many mistakes. Since communities are smaller they can have two representatives for every town of 2000 people. Counties would be more autonomous on the ancient Greek city-state model.

Everybody would know their town councilor and referendums could be held on local issues. Voting would be compulsory. Counties of about 50 towns would elect one County Sherif who would take the local issues to national parliament where the nation would be run by a non-party Commons of County Sherifs. Each nation would be represented by a Head of State, elected every eight years by the people. There would be a World Government consisting of the heads of state, they would vote by ballot on global issues (one vote for every million citizens) such as the environment, population control, but have no power to interfere with national sovereignty.


SLOAN [2007]

Colossus bending space-time

A Gladiator of gravity


Said the platypus
I laid them in clusters
With sand I covered them
For they were as if my very soul
A treasure laid deep
To begin the hatching
Of a crisis structure

My brood shines brightest

Where matter
Is most dark

I distribute my children

Smooth and fractal
Small amongst
The biggest.                                                  

‘The great Sloan wall’ is a structure on the edges of the known galaxy  discovered by the Sloan digital sky survey, the wall measures hundreds of millions of light years across. Few know of its existence, and few really care!

The poem SLOAN is about the last great question of physics:

How to unify the really big and the really small and
The second great question - the trillion £$ question =
Is the distribution of dark matter smooth or fractal ?

Andrew Henry Smith

The last Question

Fuck space up wiv

Big metal pricks
Cylindrical dicks
Perform those weightless satellite tricks

Space dust orbits

Cynical rabbinical
Following the laws of chaos
In orders of magnitude
Holy scriptures
Gratitude and finitude
Reaching out
To the upper mass limit

I explode in darkness

To illuminate the wastes
Intrinsic or temporary
I ask of myself

Those short-sighted war fucks

I’m a nobody too, an
In this vastness
So is everybody else

Temporary =

Is this try out
Ain’t happening
A big fucking bang
that’s what’s next

Andrew H. Smith                    
No poetry Friday                   

Sacred Orb    
Tiamet water star
Shining jewel
Sacred Orb
Bestower of life
Set in ornamental space

Once worthy of worship

Once holy
Once pure

Now spoilt

We will soon have to desert you

To lay waste
more world’s

Truly I am become

Devourer of time

Andrew Henry Smith
27 April 2007

Critical mass

Rune: a secret letter whose project is

Planetarisation and the development of
Women is in the wilderness
Coherance Chaos and an unsustainable pathway to
Omega point/dwell point where
Human integrity impinged bringing forth
Spiritual rebirth
World announcing

Andrew Henry Smith

Gas giant Around small moon
Orbits time

Andrew Henry Smith

The masters of time

Mathematics will uncover the secrets of time

Round up all the animals
Of the particle zoo
capture them in the trap
Bewilder them with speed
And our cold powers

In this state

Our sums will cut the world up into little pieces
These little pieces
Which we examine in minute detail
Measure and catalogue
Till full understanding be ours
So very soon now we become
the masters of time

Andrew Henry Smith

Stellar tales

I have always written of stellar tales

For like a collapsed sun
I have no star materials remaining
Like a hollowed grinning white skull
Condensed to a singular point

Waiting on some perverse law of physics

In operant on this rock
To attain the tipping point
So begins the devouring
Insatiable and terrible
A God surely
Without love or hate
Ethic free following no morality
Which operates on this rock

I cannot be sated

Numberless worlds will be
Together with
Billions of once lonely wanderers
Hewn from rock, ice and metalium
No longer alone

Until I am become

super massive
Surpassing all understanding
Operating on this rock
As the
Upper word limit is reached

Andrew Henry Smith

[formerly bending metals]

For long time I have been reaping the benefits of failure

Observing the bombs raining on the innocents
Chosen pray of the War kings

Finding clarity of vision

In the wisdom of the breath
Like a weather worn stone
A delight in the hand

Unknown to the hotel dweller

Like the super gravity
Hidden in the smoke of the mushroom

It seems so obvious now

Collapsing within itself other realms
For failures on the edges to discover
A secret like the inactivity of the quiet sun

For long ago this undiscovered planet

found us, nurtured us in her seas
To become carnivorous and twisted
And turn against our mother

It seems so obvious

She must be sad at the way we turned out
Bending metals into cages
Drawing out tubes to channel death
In ‘smart’ ways

Time to think in failure

Nearly the same as those who have made time, through success
But a lower profile
Hidden among the multitudes
Like the futurists
Clipped in wing

Andrew H Smith   
24 April 2009


Did you notice

The sun is quieter than yesterday
So still - we can hear our world turning
Spinning out life

Silence is a ‘knowing’

A co-understanding with creation
Waiting with amazement
Building time
An architect of the future

The newt, once plentiful

Glided across the pool
Mixing within the silk-soft green weed

I wondered at this

Subterranean world
Silently existing

The sun is quieter than yesterday

And tomorrow
Will be quieter still
Like our tomorrow

Listen to the quiet sun

Andrew H Smith  
08 May 2009


“You’re having a laugh mate”

So they took it back
The American fridge
Eater of four worlds
A consumer and gobbler of planets

They took the door off;

To get the next one in

A monolith: gun metal grey
You may one day discover on an @lien world

An object of worship

A deity of ‘A’ grade economy
Several lines should flow
In Luke or Deuteronomy


Kneel before
This alter
Of chilled produce
Icy pockets
And cool compartments

Bend low

And weep

Andrew H Smith
08 May 2009


I ring the bell to summon

Nectar laden birds who ply
Mendicants upon the weary
to keep them from the sun

Tied to the bed

Fear and beauty melt the ice away
With love and potency
A Voodoo zombie rises
A homunculus
All that is left
Are my descriptions
Of what it said

Cold draws lines upon the clouds

Exposing the scar red sky
Hot pokers tear and rip smoke from blue corpse lips
Blowing life out
A death kiss for the tranquillised pupae

Corkscrew code words

Soil secreted under the pummel horse
Risk and beauty
Moth powdered wings
Decay is all around us

The children must escape to become Avatar’s of the virtual world

As this one is in ruins
Veers and teeters
Its human phase completing
The closer
The clincher
Dandelion summer

Fridays here for the wage slaves

To drink the chilled foreign beer
Next time you get ’out of it’
don’t be so sure it will be here when you come back

Avatar continued

Each line an act of witchcraft

A Halloween hoot
A roman nail
The storm is building
The chain is mail
Sloan wall to crush us
Unless the super collider
Gets you first

The contract is on our heads

Put out by the corporation’s
And your highway commotions
And body motions

And prophets

Car parts, star charts
Wont save us now

Carbon trading

Slaves in China
Deals in Brazil
The dream catcher hung above the window sill

The bottles with the pills

Accusations at the race track
For in this conspiracy
We all breath together

Hells angel throttle

All those fears around heavy metal
And gun culture
Its all explained
On your chest..it’s a vulture

Of course Jesus and the gang

Are something to hold on to in these trying times
The cross casting a long shadow over the Christian crimes
But these we overlook
These gods saw no need of children
So we hid our displeasure in the rituals
And tried to forget our disappointments

The warm sand

Of an occupied island
Under our feet
Wealth won where our guns failed

Avatar continued

Slave waiter sentinel’s at your side

Storm coming ..raise the alarm
Harbour wave
Harbour wave
Out at sea

The real revolution is the wind

Rising with the morning sun
Its path is shining
By avatars
And software
Dreamers of the dark age
Who draw a wage
To the very end

Breaking all the crosses

Close the ages
Break the seal
The universe resounds to the cry

No new gods to come

Soon we will all become
Sun like me

To consume all

As history and legacy amount to nil
For all eternity and evermore

Which I wrote in 2007 before the film of the same name appeared in 2009

Andrew Henry Smith   
21st August 2007

Cloud walkers of the red thread

My atoms were rearranged

Providing a covering
For the earth and a pattern for tomorrows flowers

Records of my history, my existence

Are randomly distributed
Amongst far greater amounts of information
Though I know not where
Archaeology has sway over this now

The sunlight I used to absorb

Will be spread amongst
Those remaining
And the wind once upon my face
Will blow unhindered to the south

The space I have left

Is for experimentation and research in awareness
Any monuments I have erected
Will soon be forgotten
Unless as a reminder of the futility
Of permanence
As time merely exists
To stop everything happening in the same moment

Once you have gazed upon Kali’s face

And raised the serpent of Kundalini
You see everything is here
And always will be

So I consult myself

The cloud walker

My elongated finger

Able to reach the most distant lift buttons
And the curious pale blue powder

I am liquid

And the cabled box drops opening to the corridor
I do not recognise

Cloud walkers of the red thread….. continued

Intricate red thread crosses my path

As I become aware
I am naked for my appointment with a hooded judge
Flanked by jackals
And the flames of immortality
Fanned by the tunnel wind

In my haste to escape

I break the thread
And the frogs I trapped as a boy
Tumble from the sky

My entrails are laid bare

To show my condemnation
Revealing the black draw string bag
I stole from my mothers drawer

These are placed upon the ornamental plinth before my gaze

I bow to the inevitable needle of my failures
To be transported to the empty desert
Where I find sweetness and freedom
In the noon day sun and warm sand of shortest shadow

Freud sits behind my bed

To win praise for his description of my castration anxiety

I become a cloud walker

Of the red thread.

Andrew H Smith   
31st August + 14th September 2007

Sci- Fi Significance?

"The future is real," you say to yourself;but what if you don't know where it leads. Silverscreen spaceships take you to planets; in what have become upside down environments in which varied versions of alien, android or mutant stare with glass eyes void of expression. The maverick heroisms created in the minds of Isaac Asimov, H.G Wells and Stan Lee make us wonder that with enough dexterity on the trapeze of technology, we can have super powers like a spider or a cyber man. Two atomic bombs let loose before half of the last century was over, caused us to want to create places and races beyond our earth; in which we could find solace or a breakthrough.

These stories are an undoubted tool for our imagination but we should not forget to listen to genuine scientists who have laboured long and hard with perspiration, to discover real inspiration upon a half second blink of time. They too have their place in the scheme of things. Wanderlusts of imaginary galaxies where our mundane earth can come into orbit to meet complex life forms; can if we let it take on legendary significance. The plots which contain the mauling or vapourising of unsuspecting people from strange, ruthless beings had in their 'thorough' geographical research not done their homework, in that they unlike us couldn't survive the common cold or other unexpected dangers.

I am certain that more highly inflammable obtacles await us in the future. The spur of the moment, frenzied bravery of the emergency services in the aftermath of 9 -11 could have come straight out of a space age movie such as 'War of the Worlds' in which an enemy uses scientific knowledge for evil ends. However what we can hope for is that the Dalek exterminators will overlook vital information and we'll be saved by the margin of a knife edge. By the grace of a higher being, some of our best discoveries come when an idea taps us on the shoulder when we're not looking. In this regard science fiction can teach us much!

I now place two weights on the scales both for and against the ideal of an intricate world of great advance where the robot is king and nothing is beyond us. Does our planet work best with no restriction on our exploration or are we only really free when accountability is at the heart of our curiosity for research? We together must make the right decision for

our children's sake.

Simon Walker
Goodmayes Writers

The Spice of Life.

Nobody saw them coming - which set military minds to worrying. From the start they were at a disadvantage, they spoke no intelligible language. That, and the age old human fear of the new, the strange and the unknown were the reasons why their peaceful mission turned into armed conflict. The Denarians were an old race, time had fitted them well for their unique environment - which was a harsh one. The result being that it is difficult to think of a Denarian as being either pretty or harmless. Yet among the great conferences taking place at the fortified negotiations centre, there had sprung up a friendship between a little girl and one of the Denarian young. The nuclear base at Moulscombe dated back to the time of the cold war. The massive concrete block houses were built to withstand any amount of pounding. They seemed well suited to the military men who "knew how to deal with these aliens."

The negotiations were not going well. Under the circumstances that was not surprising. The Denarians kept asking the same question - and the military kept replying with the same safe answer "No."

The little girl turned to her daddy as he got up from the breakfast table - " Daddy, What do the Denarians want ?" He looked troubled for a moment, then he told her honestly that he didn't know. Going in past the check point at the centre he was still pondering the question. If only they could understand, he and the other moderates could sway the military into a less intractable posture. As it was it seemed safest to keep saying "No" to any demand until they understood better. But would they ever ?

Meanwhile a battle was raging - reports came in of another armored shuttle being destroyed. Tactfully neither side acknowledged these incidents at the table. Luckily we had never engaged any of the huge space cruisers, more of which were arriving in orbit every day. The small fighter craft were dangerous enough. But it was the threat of the gigantic battle cruisers that frightened everyone. Strangely when a Denarian fighter was occasionally destroyed in a skirmish then its immense mother ship shortly blew up as well. None could explain this.

After seeing off her daddy, the little girl went out to play. She had found a new friend in all this concrete wilderness, She was a country girl at heart and the grass wasteland just inside the wire was a natural lure. Soon she had fond a small break in the fence she could wriggle through. Each day now she played here. At first she had not seen the strange child who shared her secret playground. It was obvious even to her that the child was a Denarian, yet she lacked the preconceptions of her elders. Besides, all her usual playmates were at school. He was lonely too - so far from home in a strange world. When the two children had been playing for a few days they soon forgot each others peculiarities and got on very well. As children will if left alone.

One day they were playing tag when the alien seemed to look up suddenly. It was as if he had heard his name called. But he was reluctant to leave the game. He stayed just a bit too long and his anxious mother arrived on the scene. At first the little girl was frightened. More by this adult intrusion into their playtime world than by the alien's strange appearance. She soon grew accustomed to the child's mother who sat quietly and watched them play with a sad smile on her comical features. She was the mate of the chief negotiator and had been allowed on Earth as a concession by the wary military.

In the evening playtime had to end and Julie, for that was her name, would sit at supper with her parents, Daddy was always so tired and snappy,. He complained to mum that the Denarians seemed to want everything - the land , the ocean, yet kept insisting that it was only a little thing that they had come so far for. Then came the day that Julie was given roast beef sandwiches in her lunch box and tucked into the corner a tiny container of salt to add flavor. Her new friend was late - but she thought little of that. She was more concerned by his mother's appearance, she was looking tired and ill. Perhaps thought Julie, she had arguments with her husband just like her own parents - it was a strange idea.

However, the malaise went deeper - the alien's lovely purple fur was getting patchy; could she be unwell ?

The children happily played their games until lunch time. Then Julie opened her box. Her friend was always very interested in its contents. Today he was almost hysterical. Yet quickly he regained his composure and giving Julie their special look he reverently took the salt container over to his parent. She was resting against a tree. He offered it to her in a way that suggested to Julie a great high priest serving the eucharist to some worthy potentate. In total silence his mum took the offering, and with equal reverence tasted a few grains. Tears flowed from her great brown teddy bear eyes. It was the first time they had been given anything freely. The with poignant regret she made her child turn to give it back. But Julie was there by her side and her little hands pressed the container into the velvet paws of the alien creature. At this gesture she was overwhelmed - she could hardly get up for crying. Julie could not at first understand - had she done something wrong ?

The mother eventually got up and holding the salt like a trembling monk entrusted with a fragment of the true cross, she thanked Julie effusively in her strange language and returned quickly but with great care to the base; leaving Julie alone to think. Something important had happened and she must go home and tell daddy. Yet she didn't want to because she knew she was not allowed in the fenced off area. That evening she vas quieter than usual - so much so that her much preoccupied father asked her what was the matter. She blurted out the whole story. " I know what they want." she kept saying. When her father refused to believe her, she flew into a tantrum. However it was only when she accurately described the alien that he did believe her.

Could Julie really have the answer ? He was a desperate man, ready to try anything, so the next morning he took two one kilo bags of salt in his brief case. An investment of less than £2 to maybe stop an interplanetary war. Round the negotiations table that morning all the usual gloomy faces argued. As he entered, the pictures and maps they all knew so well were being shown again and the military were preparing to deny the obvious need that showed in the Denarian faces. Suddenly he knew somehow that Julie was right. He didn't know why they needed it, but he was certain it was salt hey had come so far for. Without preamble he walked round the conference table and placed one of the bags in front of the chief negotiator and one before his assistant. Everything went silent, as if in a dream, then suddenly the deadlock was broken. The aliens were greatly excited. They tasted the salt and started talking very fast. Everybody else was loudly demanding an explanation of his strange action. Things eventually calmed don and finally explanations were made.

In hindsight it was all so obvious. The Denarians knew we had salt in abundance, whereas it is a rare and precious mineral on their world. Their females need a small intake of salt to remain healthy and have babies. As for the massive space ships, that was the greatest tragedy of all. They were not lethally armored battleships, but the family homes of the warriors who flew in defense of them. So when a fighter was destroyed they self-destructed because he was their only reason for living.

Now Denarian and Earthman live in peace. They giving us many technological advances, such as the radar screen that allowed them to arrive undetected, and in return we give them salt - such a little thing, but to them the spice of life.


Mayhem at the Science Fiction Club

A young man thought that to meet

Some new friends would be neat
So he went to the Role Play game
Dressed up like an Orc
Armed with a pitchfork
To earn for himself a great name

That rookie young Orc

Overwhelmed by the thought
Of the carnage that was bound to ensue
What with taunting incitement
And mounting excitement
He just couldn't wait for his cue

A minor infraction

But he leapt into action
Before the whistle was blown
The fight was soon won
Though it hadn't begun
The monster had turned on his own

As he bellowed and battled

His team were quite rattled
What to do, they just didn't know!
Arms flailing and wailing
This wasn't plain sailing
Their monster friend was now their foe!

Time-out was called

But he wouldn't be stalled
The heat of the fight was upon him!
He dealt out hard blows
And bloodied the nose
Of the Chief Orc who tried to restrain him

The monsters dividing

Soon ran into hiding
Too scared, their faces to show
They felt so alarmed
'Til he was disarmed
Back home, they just couldn't go

Though it seemed a disaster

It caused me much laughter
When the Orc, his story he told
And now when I'm shopping
I have to keep stopping
Until I regain some control!

Ashley Jordan

Based upon a true story, as told to me today.  


There is no truth in the rumour that, were the Mars Polar Lander to have found water on the Red Planet, our water bills would eventually be dramatically reduced. It takes 15 minutes just to send a radio signal the 145 million miles to earth.

“No,” they tell me “We aren't going to bring the water back – we just want to find out if it's there. If it is, there's a good chance there will be some form of life also.”

“But hang on a millisecond, maybe Martians don't drink water.”

“That's not the point,” they retort, adding “you can't have life-forms without water.”  So you try and reason with a scientist.

There is no sound from Mars. Well, there is - we just aren't hearing it.

“What happened to the pictures?” I ask.  Everyone remains silent.

Another fault with the sound.  Some years ago, an exploring probe landed on Venus. Almost immediately, audio and visual links were lost forever. Did someone (on Venus) switch them off?  Anyone who breathes carbon dioxide (as they would on Venus) can't be all bad – it's just when they might get high on the clouds of sulphuric acid.

Maybe it's time to stop invading other planets. After all, they wouldn't do it to us; or do they?

Robert Brandon

E Equals MC Squared

Einstein is discredited,

It seems he wasn’t right.
They’ve proved that we can travel
Faster than the speed of light.
Can we go to the future?
Can we go to the past?
All I know is when we go
It will be bloody fast.
Our scientific theories
Are thrown into disarray.
Some clever sod will prove a god
Made humans in a day;
Or that we originally
Came from outer space;
Got our bodies from the monkeys,
From the Martians, got our face.
Looking for the answers
Can drive us to despair.
That’s why I don’t bother,
Because I don’t really care!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Science Fiction Weapons. (Non-Fiction)

War may be hell, but to the science fiction writer war is paradise, ready-made drama, endlessly variable as he wages Star Wars or Insect Wars or even Witch Wars. With the great drive outwards to the stars, and the explosion of population that goes with it, the value of human life is seen to diminish almost to zero; the weapons of war become the heroes, and war itself becomes a symbol of man's dominance, not just of his own polluted world but of the universe. The warships get bigger, the weapons more horrific, the ways of dying more entertaining.

War in science fiction began when H.G. Wells described the hideous events and aftermath of a Martian invasion of the Earth. The War of the Worlds (1898) was a war of territory. Mars, overcrowded and exhausted, sends its warships to Earth's green pastures, where there is room to live and breath again. Wells conceived of the Martian ships as hollow shells from a giant gun, they impact with the earth rather than land on it (and who can forget the image of that great shell slowly unscrewing). However we must remember that this was written many many years before rocket science. The Martian invaders fight from within walking and flying machines that can fire deadly heat rays. The Martians were eventually defeated by a biological weapon - the common cold. Ray guns and bio-weapons were to become the props of so many sci-fi stories that perhaps we forget how farseeing was Wells' archetypal War of the Worlds.

Thereafter the Earth was to be invaded more times than most readers care to remember. They have come from all across the universe to take our land, rape our women, or inhabit our seas, or exploit and subdue our peoples. Others have come not in war, but in peace, but the generals have always overruled the voices of reason with their paranoia, and the tanks open fire on defenceless flying saucers, or the alien forms are cut down in machine gun swathes. (The Day the Earth stood Still. 1951). They don't all come in peace of course, and the atmosphere of Earth has often been rent by the screech of the invasion fleets and their energy weapons. Sometimes the invaders adapt their own biology as a weapon like the hideous slug creatures in Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (1951), which attach themselves to the spines of human beings and take them over.

In John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids (1951) the alien plant-like creatures, activated when they sense that the human population has gone blind, begin their programme of world domination. They kill all but a handful of humans who escape to an island, beyond the range of Triffid spores. Man loses. But in 1962 Security Pictures (U.K.), bristling at the implication that man's weaponry might not be equal to a bunch of plants, find that sea water is the way to kill the film's mindless plants. Like Wells' Martians these Triffids come unprepared. Today it is far more likely that an invasion from space would result in our losing. As E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith in Triplanetary (Amazing Stories 1934) realised any race capable of crossing the interstellar void would be possessed of potent and sinister weaponry, and would swiftly reduce man's cities to molten rubble.

Man also wars against man, of course, often over territory, inevitably his global skirmishes end in a radiation wasteland (Terminator. 1984). Survivors and resistance members crawl through this apocalyptic world and eventually rebuild civilisation, society and of course weapons. That particular irony was realised long before in Walter Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz (1960). The post disaster theme is almost a cliché now, but Miller's work still stands apart for having explored the war wasteland and after in truly imaginative ways.

The tank is the ultimate battlefield weapon, first described by Wells in The Land Ironclads (1903) but his description of tank warfare is nowhere near as vivid as eye witness accounts of the real tank war that occurred scant years later in World War 1. Despite its human occupant a tank is closer to a robot, a machine that seems almost sentient as it pursues its enemy. The Daleks were an extension of this idea, and certainly the most frightening of all of Dr. Who's many adversaries. The sentient tank, or sentient machine of war, frequently appears in sci-fi. Keith Laumer's short story The Last Command (Analog. 1967) describes an immense intelligent tank that is dug out of the rubble of the war in which it fought, and which instantly continues on its mission of death. It will obey only one man but that man is now old and frail and his voice is unrecognisable to the machine.

When it comes to machines though, only one can combine both mechanical mindlessness and inhuman reason - the robot. Robots have stalked future battlefields for as long as they have existed in pulp science fiction. Gigantic robots, or tiny scurrying robots, they combine all the good qualities of the human soldier; they don't question, they obey without hesitation, they do not feel fear or pain. They can sometimes get their brain circuits scrambled in an electronic version of shell shock, perhaps turning on their own controllers, or refusing to fight. After all, to fight is to risk getting killed and a truly sentient machine might begin to put a higher value on its own life than its makers intended. (Skynet in the Terminator movies). Perhaps men make better soldiers; a man can be enhanced cybernetically, made virtually invulnerable with inorganic replacement parts and prosthetic weapons, and sent into battle against the robots. Now which is more human?

For a really big war the Earth is not room enough and Man takes to the stars. Star Wars ( 1977 ----) has a sickening romance to it, the Battle of Britain transferred to the stars where ships explode soundlessly and human screams are lost against the silence of the void. It's all so clean, so sterile, so civilised and technologically superior. The battle fleets lined up above the tiny contested world, the lancing phaser banks, the shimmering defensive screens and the disintegrator beams raking across the pot-bellied hull of an immense imperial cruiser. Or the photon torpedoes tracking down the enemy vessel and causing, just briefly, a tiny nova against the backdrop of the stars.

Be warned, there are aliens out there and it is best to shoot first and ask questions later; after all many of the aliens are hideous, such as the insectoids in Heinlein's Starship Troopers (Book 1959   Film 1997). The hand gun, be it pulse rifle, or laser, or blaster - speaks a far more eloquent message than any attempt to communicate intelligently. Besides, being non-human it is quite obvious that any alien is in fact less than human. We've seen this before in the pioneering American West; it is the pioneering spirit that underlies all of science fiction's galactic explorations and wars. Flash Gordon without his ray gun is just plain Boring Gordon, as unthinkable as the Lone Ranger without his six-shooter.

In Joe Haldman's The Forever War (1974) is presented a bald and bitter statement of war's futility, exquisitely using the physical laws of the known universe to turn the ongoing war into a perfect metaphor for the novel's central statement. The Forever War was started by humans in the early days of space colonisation; at that time all colony ships were armed and the first time they met an alien vessel - a Tauran ship - they naturally blasted it. From that day on, for centuries, the war has continued, but it is a war such as no other writer had explored before. Each battle may last only days, but when a trooper returns home for leave he finds that centuries have passed. When he goes back into battle centuries have passed there too, his weapons are hopelessly outdated and he needs total retraining. Einstein is the cause of the trouble, because fighting battles near light speed gives a relative time dilation - beyond the battle zone the universe is progressing far faster.

Once a soldier has been out to the wars there is nothing for him to do but stay there, ever learning to use new weapons, always waiting for the time when his own weapon is several centuries behind the enemy's and he is killed. Machine guns will work well against clubs, but not if the clubs are wielded by soldiers in bulletproof armour.

Not all defences are offensive; shields, deflectors and cloaking devices are all used in Star Trek by the Federation in their promotion of universal peace and harmony. If all else fails they can use the warp drive to outrun the enemy. However they can also use phaser banks, photon torpedoes and as a last resort, the Genesis weapon. Against the Borg they do not have superiority of weapons and they have to use tactics and alliances to defeat the Borg's adaptive shields and weapons. In Voyager (Year of Hell.) the crew come across a ship that is fighting a battle using time itself as a weapon, it alters the universe so that its enemy is weak and they have won, but the ship cannot go home.

A different sort of weapon is the human mind. After all if you can telekinete and teleport, you can make nonsense of mere projectiles. In Star Wars the Jedi Knights have the Force, but such a potent weapon comes with a commitment to use it only for peace. In Richard Matheson's Witch War (Startling Stories. 1951) seven little girls sit in a hut and ‘think’ mayhem upon the invading armies. Their psychic powers, raw and unstoppable, enable them to pound the enemy with boulders, or turn the ground beneath them to quagmire.

What then is the narrative function of the weapon in science fiction? It can be a symbol of the power of authority or of the hopes of rebels. It can be ceremonial or indicate status, or can be used for hunting (perhaps of people) for sport. It can be an extension of the hero's masculinity - a phallic symbol. It can be humorous like "noisy cricket" in Men in Black (1997), or the main character can become the ultimate weapon as in Lawnmower Man (1992). In Robert Heinlien's utopian (?) vision of an American society in a future where everybody is armed, and any insult can lead to a duel, there is little crime and people are careful to be polite to each other.

Finally there are stories in which the author has obviously dreamed up a new weapon and created a story around it. Such stories as Larry Nivan's Soft Weapon (Neutron Star. 1967), in which space travellers find an alien artefact that turns out to be a weapon. This gun has several settings and the story is about how the characters discover the use of each setting, each more deadly than the last. Also by Larry Nivan is Ringworld (1970) and no analysis of sci-fi weapons would be complete without mentioning the Ringword Defence System. The sun at the centre of the Ringworld can be controlled, its photons achieve a state of population inversion, and the entire output of the sun is released along a laser beam! Surely the most powerful beam weapon created. Another ‘weapon’ story is in the film Dark Star (1974) where a three-man spaceship carries several intelligent bombs, which are to be used to blow up suns. One of the bombs is ordered to detonate and destroy a star, however the bomb release mechanism fails and the crew find themselves talking to a live bomb, trying to convince it not to blow them up. The bomb decides that it is the most powerful thing in its universe, and hence it is God, hence it must explode and create a new universe - let there be light, and there was light. Which goes to show that you should never make a weapon that is too clever for your own good.



S9F. Special 9th Squad Fighters of the Jungle Strike Family. Captian Serephim witnessed one of the Fallen Cities occupied by what he calls the Black Dogs. This takes place 15 years after. ( Time Frame in my world  changes ). ' The Chapter House of Distant Red Roses was why we were sent to the Fourth City of Tusk. Back then it was called City of Dros. Our vessel reached the city when it had just been freshly taken.

So Karseen soldiers still roamed the city fighting with whatever dying flame they had within them, My squad had encountered a few ourselves when we reached the city by a carrier ship. As soon as we got there, the whole city was covered with the most grotesque and obscene doings, If Empe-Commander Kasim was there to see what his half gene sons had done, i'm sure as hell he would of cut them down himself. I'm going to be plain and simple here, these so called men, are not men. They are monsters...yet they defend our land but can you imagine if they ever turned against us? i wouldn't want to face them.

-He sighed gently and turned to the computer screen, we were in his office. I have been waiting for a long time to get any type of information about the Fallen Cities of Karseen and the Tusk Cities are one of those horrific cities that our men of Ishia had conquered. This was my chance to get what really happened out there.Who are these dogs of war that Commander Kasim leads?The Captain turned to me casually and smiled -

'We landed at the Pavilion Square. It wasn't welcoming, gunshots could be heard from all around, they were not close. The constant screaming that followed or even just screaming was constant in the city, men, women and children screamed, i remember seeing a group of children getting chased into a block of flats, the Black Dog lobbed a grenade. Me and my men were very tempted to pull the trigger on these...things, but we couldn't afford to, Can you imagine if we went all out on them specially not knowing what they are fully capable of...we soon found out later and i wish we hadn’t  either.

Bodies hung from lamp posts, buildings, some skinned, some even there skin covering the lamps i don’t know what they got out of this...storing fear into the people? The enemy soldiers? Who was there to see this? They’d be dead! No one could survive the way they fought so why ruin and dishonour the enemy in such a vile way? Women were found laying on the grounds  or hung or some still alive and some with their bellies ripped open and their unborn child pierced with crude blades. Ah....this wasn't war.

This was a genocide.

-The Captian shook his head and smirked -

We had two days to get to the Chapter House and we knew we could of done it even within an hour of landing in that forsaken city. After seeing what had been going on,we decided to capture one of these...dogs. We were resting after a short fire fight with a few Karseen Soldiers that had just evacuated a few civilians and had unfortunately spotted us as we were making our way towards the Chapter House, we retreated into a cafe and held our ground and finally the assault ended with Neithan using his rocket launcher to kill a single Karseen soldier.

Yes i know it was over kill...but Neithan was just the hot headed type and we were getting irritated at the fact a single Karseen Soldier was alive out there barraging the walls with some kind of advanced support weapon.

The sun was beginning to set, the skies were terracotta with a hint of tiberian gold and we were just staying put till we could move on with our objective. While resting and taking turns to keep watch we suddenly heard screaming, a youthful female voice and the sudden rush and trip on the stairs in the next building, screaming and shouting at the constant, then followed heavy steps up above.

Me and my men knew this is the chance we've been waiting for, to get one of these Gene Bred soldiers  and see what there really made of. We got into the room where the screaming was, she went silent as soon as we stepped in and the Dog turned with this smile on his face, those eyes were of crimson red, merciless. Me and my men looked down to his victim. a nine year old girl, a  long slit around her throat, her eyes rolled back and blood still being pumped out of the wound, she was gurgling and thrashing. My medic was at her side and pressed a steel capsule against flesh, a quick hiss and the capsule emptied it’s contents within her. She seized and died painlessly, I  turned around to the dog as he was leaving, i lifted my gun and pulled the trigger.

- He bit his bottom lip -

We didn't say anything after that, we carried on our mission, got the Chapter House. Secured Lady Katrina of the Red Rose and got air lifted out of that City. These dogs....they are not normal. We never spoke to anyone of this, but when i shot him through his back he turned and raged against us.

He knocked three of us off our feet within seconds, he was a blur and damaged our equipment, he was fast and yet he had a wound! blood was everywhere, ours and this one goddamn dog. We finally pinned this bastard down, we tried getting answers from him, asking him what he was doing here, what exactly was there purpose and he said nothing, he just laughed, Neithan, one of my soldiers at that time was constantly battering, and abusing this dog.

But he just didn't feel anything, he didn't flinch...he just laughed and spat blood. When it was time for us to go, i slit his throat and left. He smiled as i left the room....i will never forget his smile....'

Ifran Kasim

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: Wishing everyone fun and enjoyment from the months challenge! I see we have good solid entries already!  Forgive me for taking a 'month off' - This subject while a thrill to others, is my Nemesis!
Won't be slacking, I am putting my energies into the pre-planning of a big Childrens Poetry Competition I am running through the summer! See you in March!

Your Name: Ashley Jordan

Your Comment: A fascinating glimpse into the way science fiction writers have explored issues around war, violence and genocide.  And lovely to have a factual entry for the writing challenge! - Bravo Gareth :-)

Your Name: Ashley Jordan

Your Comment: Fantastic start to this month's challenge Ifran - I hope we'll get the next installment before the end of the month!


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