The Road Unravelled
The Earlyworks Press Science Fiction Challenge
looking for stories that are a credible picture of where we might be
heading - or where we could end up if.... Stories should conform
to the sci-fi 'What if...' genre, that is, they should be predictions
backed by credible if not actual science.
science must stay in the background. We want stories you can read
without having an MSc! And they must have real, in depth
characters, not just manikins to drive the space ships.
lists of ‘over-used sci-fi plots’ going around the web. Can you make
one of these plots worth visiting again, or do you have a truly original
was the challenge, and this book is the authors’ answer to it. They
have given us theories about god, genetics, mortality and human
responsibility. They have asked what can and cannot be done with
computers, robots and AI, and what it is that makes us human. The result
is some startling predictions that raise some mind-melting questions.
Enjoy them, think on them, and sleep if you dare!
are some extracts…
From Chucking Out Time by R D Gardner
what would I have to do?”
another beer, and shut your eyes: this has to go in your spinal cord.”
Matt, how much have you had?”
I’ve never impaled a rat yet.”
needle went into the back of my neck.
don’t remember to this day what we did then, or how I got home: the
students next door assured me I came home at sunrise, singing:
Never get bombed with a
boffin, you never know where it might end,
Don’t get laboratory
ratted, and do what you didn’t intend...
From Experimental Use of the Drug Axenphenicol Lithium Sulphate in Forensic Criminology
by David Dennis
of seaweed stroked my face, like the hair of some mermaid or lost
maiden. I tried to catch them in the vain hope that they were anchored
to some rock which might help me save myself. There was a roaring in my
ears. When I came up for air I saw the shining sea wall and on it was
some writing in white foaming letters, tall and broad:
‘DID DADDY TOUCH YOU?’ it said.
someone dived in and rescued me.
Going Away by Vanessa Lafaye
the drive to the Facility, Julianne and James revisited their favourite
moments from the past on the handheld viewer. They were conspiring
together, both focused on the happy images of their miniature selves
being replayed in the back seat of the taxi.…
long?” he asked. She closed and opened her eyes to view her Life Clock
and said flatly, “20 minutes.” He stroked her hand, hoping that his
touch would register even if she was almost beyond the reach of his
Transcript by Clive Gilson
Boss leans forward.
shift to red. Unlike ancient submariners, silent running means that all
external scans and counter-measures are killed. Sound is immaterial. We
exist within our cloak, blind, with our ears cocked for the sound of
heavy footfalls over our shoulder.
peeling off and dropping in behind us,” Dewey explains. “Thing is,
we don’t know if it’s seen us or if it’s routine. They drop back
in rotation every couple of hours to see if anyone is following.
Standard defensive tactics.”
struggle to make my mouth work, swallowing to force the glands in my
mouth to produce saliva. My heart is thumping in my chest. “How do we
you see a very bright white light then you’re dead.” He laughs out
loud. “Only way to know for sure. If you’re still looking at me in
ten minutes then chances are they’re none the wiser. Tick-tock,
tick-tock.” The bastard is grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
From Mission Statement by Peter Caunt
return into normal space came with a heavy jolt, and a striking pain
down his left side. At least it would have been pain if he had been
human. The damage sensors had simply registered a severe fault condition
on the port engine intakes, but he liked to think of it as pain.
Zingibers by Kim Green
Excited. Satisfied. Outraged. These were some reactions to the new
enclosure of The Earth Zoo… Everyone agreed though, that the new
enclosure was important, and
could not be dismissed from the mind easily by anyone who cared for the
future of the Earth.
From Hippo with Three Eyes
by Martin Pevsner
Hey, man. Need any more of that? Need anything at all? I whip round, see that I’m being watched. He’s a mean-looking bloke,
weasel face, greasy brown hair centre-parted, thin lips, sharp nose.
He’s smiling at me knowingly. He’s seen me necking the pill. I say
nothing, looking him over. I register his lasertat, an XXX,
on his neck. It’s the symbol of the Pig klan, a large Bandon crew, not
to be messed with.
Where you from, Blud? he
asks. I tell him. You lads are
cool. Well known fact, the Hiiippos from Kroyden are the hardest village
klan. I’d be honoured to do some business with you.
From An Invisible
Rose by Catherine Edmunds
shuffled a pile of plasma records on Rachel’s desk and patted her
head, looking disconcerted when his hand fell straight through her
he muttered, turning away blushing.
Kev, you were saying?”
spun round and marched away, tripping over a waste-plasma bin. Rachel
watched the mechanised safety rope swing into action, lassoing his wrist
to prevent him falling, but pulling his arm out of its socket in the
process. A medic-droid dropped down from the ceiling and whacked Kevin
on the shoulder, fixing the problem with startling efficiency.
From The Beautiful Mind of Samuel Bland Arnold by David Dennis
will tell you why I cannot reveal my love for Patty.
There is only one phrase for it: fear of rejection.
How can you continue to command a ship this size when your deputy
has told you she does not reciprocate your love and yet you are both
immortal? You would have to live with your shame and embarrassment
forever. ... If I were wrong it would stain my memory with ugliness and
breach the Arcado Doctrine.
From The Extinction Paradox
by Kenneth Shand
what’s your future, Gorn?’ Kayib was getting aggressive.
operate the Faith Stream a while longer, maybe get promoted, have lots
of little Gorns…”
me stop you right there.”
seen them. All my flame haired little Gorn-alikes.”
mean you get them all to look like you?”
one of them.”
so vain it’s despicable.”
I’m the perfect model after all.”
you’ve seen them?”
screen I have, and I’ve had them dance around as avatars.”
I tell you.”
help us all.”
From Catherine and the God Market by Sheila Adamson
Tuesday night Catherine answered the doorbell to find two aliens
outside. It took her a while to work out how to react to that.
said the alien on the left. “Can we interest you in a message of hope
alien smiled brightly. At least, she thought it was smiling. It had a
huge lipless mouth, which it was stretching widely; and huge owl eyes
which it was blinking enthusiastically. It also had three arms, three
legs and rather scaly grey skin. Presumably in an attempt to blend in,
it was wearing a dark business suit. “Are you happy?” it enquired.
felt herself edging backwards. Strangers weren’t supposed to ask you
questions like that. Of course she wasn’t happy. What business was it
of anyone else’s, human or not?
like to tell you about true happiness,” said the second, smaller
we come in?”
The Road Unravelled –
220 pages, 23 pieces of brand new science fiction containing real humans.
£9.75 + £1.50 p&p to UK addresses
Or you can order by post. Cheques payable to Kay Green. Please post to Earlyworks Press, The Creative Media Centre, 45 Robertson Street, Hastings, Sussex TN34 1HL