FIVE TO THE FUTURE: All New Novelettes of Tomorrow and Beyond
UNO!.. DOS! ONE-TWO! TRES! QUATRO! by Ernest Hogan
A counter-culture figure from the wrong side of the tracks escorts a tabloid journalist through the barrio. When a riot breaks out they flee in his batmobile-like car to the secret lair of his scientist mother where they encounter a pyramid from outer space. Poking fun at xenophobia and linear thinking, Uno is an invitation to peel back the reality-mask of linear thinking and embrace the mutual contradictions and chaos of poetry. A theme Hogan seems fond of.
QUEEN OF THE CATS by Emily Davenport
Jean is the sole survivor of alien invaders. She adopts all the now-orphaned cats of the neighborhood. She is in turn "adopted" by Vad, one of the invaders. When these invaders are defeated by the lizard people, Vad, now sole survivor of his race, flees back to Jean, and she pleads for her life and his. The lizard person lets them live, and also leaves her a supply of cat food.
Moral: Taking care of others engenders empathy which decreases genocide, or, Cats are the universal solvent!
FOLLOW YOUR DREAM by Cynthia Ward
Set in a private Japanese girls school, there's the jealous, spoiled, rich brat; the girl who, in a hilarious and inspired bit of utterly delicious silliness, talks really loudly- like loud enough to shatter windows!, and is really a long-lost princess of the dragon riders; and her BFF who possesses superhero abilities and is really the orphaned daughter of the hovering spaceships. This is an homage to Japanese anime, very funny and one of my favorites!
DREAMWEAVER by Arthur Byron
Chess is a cynical cop working missing persons. A thankless and doomed exercise in futility in a world where people jump in time and place, intentionally or inadvertently, leaving no followable trail. A chance encounter places in his hand a magical talisman that leads the world-weary detective to discover, eventually, his own destiny.
WRITTEN ON RIBS by M. CHRISTIAN
Soviet-era Russians disseminate bootleg, illegal recording of western music on old X-ray films. Something I did not know and find fascinating! But as in all "prohibitions," this life-affirming demand is filled by for-profit criminals. Ribs does a wonderful job of conveying the sense of living under a repressive regime, the mundane and routine pettiness of it, and how repression rolls downhill.
The writing in Five to the Future is of uniformly excellent and pleasing quality, and although the editor put no thematic constraints upon the contributors, this seems a thematically cohesive collection to me. Not in the sense of "grey-quadrupeds-piloting-space-freighters" but more in feeling. With the exception of Hogan's story there is a certain nostalgia to the pieces, a wistfulness; and in all the stories humor is an element, sometimes crucially so. And Strange Particle Press has produced an excellent cover for the anthology.
The high quality of the book is marred by lapses in the proofreading (missing words, extra words, wrong words....), which are inexcusable, but few enough in number they can be overlooked by speculative fiction readers who will surely enjoy these talented writers and their deserving stories. Recommended.
(Disclaimer: Strange Particle Press also publishes Jody.)
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Jody speaks truths still all-too-relevant today in a searing, prescient essay penned during the Bush presidency.
It's the fight of the century ladies and gents!
In this corner at 440 pounds in brand new, designer satin red-white-and-blue trunks--AMERICA! And in that corner at 40 and one-eighth pounds, crummy, smelly, freezing to death with every rib sticking out, wearing a disgustingly dirty loincloth--AFGHANISTAN.
Oh boy, at last we're all happy. We love a good fight; a good fight proves how brave we are.
Without a good, exciting war our lives are suddenly seen to be empty, pointless, wearisome, unbearable and when you come right down to it--utterly meaningless, so thank God (or the tooth fairy) for this brave new war of ours.
We were all happy when our Leader announced "War is declared"--never mind that only Congress can declare war--never mind that The Enemy is not a nation but only a single, very rich hoodlum (a man we have yet to find).
And we were even happier in the act of dumping billions of dollars' worth of bombs (making munitions manufacturers even richer than they already were) on our enemy--
And never mind that after arming those people against the Russians a few years ago, instead of running out on them and ignoring them, we should have stuck around and begun the hottest red-hot advertising campaign in history, designed to sell them on how much better Our Way is, and with massive supplies and aid.
Aid that works--not dropping peanut butter on people who think peanut butter is either a toy, maybe it's paint? or maybe a scabies cure. They've never seen the stuff before. Their culture, surprise!, is totally different from ours.
In other words you can't just go in and use a people for YOUR purposes, then dump them cold and stupidly wonder "Goodness, why do they hate us? Golly, why do the crazies among these people want to hurt us?"--because that is just plain senseless.
Fed lie after lie, trivialized by constant advertising that adds fuel to the ever-expanding greed for material stuff, our people have become consumers and not much more.
At the top are the Bill Gateses and the computer-tenders and lawyers, the pols and the doctors (wildly highly paid and admired, these latter have killed more people than all wars and car accidents combined but are still worshipped by the peasantry).
I won't even mention the psychiatrists who, lacking a workable technology have hooked millions of children on "medical" drugs. (Note: medical drugs are the same as street drugs. Don't be fooled. A killer caste is a killer caste.)
Today, right now, thousands have been thrown in jail for the crime of being foreign. You think this won't come back like a boomerang and hit you in the teeth?
Our cowardly Puppetmasters LOVE to have a finger up your butt:
"It's war. Your rights are hereby suspended and we, the Government, can do anything we want to, to YOU, and make you eat it and then say how 'patriotic' you are being."
But you're not being patriotic, you are being irresponsible.
Governments do things to cause these wars so they can then strip all of us of our hard-won civil rights.
Don't fall for this oldest trick in the book. Stand up and demand that your leaders act in a sane manner (AND pronounce the word "nuclear" correctly).
I'm mistaken, you say? Read some history, read a book, do a little research, don't just swallow everything the Puppetmasters tell you.
Their first responsibility is to their own class, the people who got them elected, the 0.01% of the population that owns 99.99% of the world's wealth--think about this! What kind of compulsive maniac wants to get (and stay) rich by stripping bare his or her own society? These are not happy people.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all got together and waved our flags for something positive--something truly patriotic for a change; something (like word clearing for instance) that really promotes the common welfare?
The guy who keeps saying "We all must be happy to give up our rights for the duration"--this grim-faced, terribly serious and important fellow never gave up a "right" in his life. Servants, private jets, immunity from accusation no matter how justified, he doesn't have to wait in line with you! He is your Puppetmaster.
He needs that war to impress and oppress YOU, and to stay on top.
If you stop falling for all the codswallop they feed you, these damnfool wars of theirs would come to a flying whoa. The power is in your hands.
If there's a war it's because YOU want and will accept it.
War never does anything good. Not ever.
So get smart, people. Pull up your socks! You can turn this planet into a glass marble (look up "nuclear weapons" in your encyclopedia), or you can open your eyes before it's too late.
Or would you rather sit there eating french fries dipped in ketchup and calling ME a traitor for speaking the truth?
I'm no traitor; I'm the biggest, gutsiest Patriot you ever saw and I'm telling you that only YOU can stop these junior highschool boys (your estimable leaders) from escalating this scuffle into a full-scale war with nuclear weapons.
Every war could be stopped years before it happens--and not by searching YOUR luggage for godsake! That sort of nonsense could go on forever without making YOU one bit safer; why not opt for a solution that works?
Something is very wrong here. You may not know it (because you didn't see it and cannot feel it) but the U.S. has gone down into a steep decline in the past 60 years. You've probably not been aware of the ebbing intelligence of the American reader, but you've surely seen the dehumanizing commercial exploitation of everyone including yourself and your family.
So when Bush says: "You are either with US or with the terrorists" I object to the bullying implicit in this "speechwritery" slogan.
And despite all the expensive help he can rely on, our President still says NUCULAR. Do you think mispronouncing an important word like NUCLEAR is a small thing? A gaffe we can (and must) overlook because we are so "patriotic"?
Let me tell you something: if that's what you think you are an ignorant, bloodthirsty barbarian who can only wind up getting us (as a species) wiped out.
Let me tell you something else, Oogala Caveman: if you mispronounce a word it means you do not have a correct definition for that word. It means you do not know what you are saying.
It's dangerous not to understand the words you use, my friend.
If you don't understand a word it will make you physically sick. You'll get angry. You'll have strange, spinny feelings and won't grasp anything you read about that subject from that point on.
But now we have Pres. Bush, the Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy AND Education, who doesn't understand the very word upon which the end of our world is about to depend.
My God, do you frantic flag-wavers know what you're doing?
Now listen and listen closely:
It is NOT a small thing to mispronounce a word like "nuclear." If you think it is, obviously you were trained to be a moron.
Also obviously, the Govt does not want you to grow up intelligent. If you were truly intelligent they couldn't get away with half the stuff they always get away with--such as allowing (or encouraging) wars to break out.
War is only a confession that YOU cannot communicate.
Communication is based on words.
If you don't understand (and understand thoroughly) the words you use, you won't be able to communicate and will sooner or later get into serious trouble.
If you happen to be President and cannot pronounce the word "nuclear"--then God help this suffering, soon-to-be-dead planet!
Our whole culture is designed to make you weak, frightened, easy to manipulate. In my book, there is no moral justification for bombing children. Yet you follow blindly and passively and call it patriotism.
If waving a flag gives you the illusion of security, go ahead and wave one--but YOUR responsibility goes far beyond that.
Which brings us back to subliteracy. This same Pres is in charge of creating a new "educational program" to be used by every child in this country. And he hasn't the slightest idea of how to do it or what it means--need I say more?
"Sleep tight, ya morons!" Remember Holden Caulfield? That's what Holden yelled out when he left his dorm for the wild streets of NY, disgusted with his prepschool and all the rich, smug, self-satisfied students in it.
So, ladies and gentlemen, put down your bombers and go get yourself word-cleared so you can find out what the hell is going on on this planet we share. Before doing so is beyond our grasp. Forever.
I know that "forever" is a big word but careless people who say NUCULAR are just the ones to finish us off as a species--kaput, extinct.
"We'll meet again, don't know where don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day" as they all sang in Dr. Strangelove before the whole thing blew up...remember?
Dropping bombs after YOU mess up isn't what I'd call a heartwarming act of courageous American heroism; it's more like (not too put too fine a point on it)...the mind-numbing stupidity of the quasi-sane.
You can stop any war years before it breaks out--but only if you're sane, and sanity begins with a true understanding of WORDS.
This is the most important lesson you'll ever learn.
read all Jody's essays