New entry May 06
Critters is 25!
Last November, Critters turned 25 years old! Wow! Thanks so much to all of you, who've made it such a resounding success!
Books from Critters!
Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.
How to Write SF
The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells by Ben Bova, best-selling author and six-time Hugo Award winner for Best Editor. (This is one of the books your ol' Critter Captain learned from himself, and I highly recommend it.) (Also via Amazon)
The Sigil TrilogyIf you're looking for an amazing, WOW! science fiction story, check out THE SIGIL TRILOGY. This is — literally — one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read.
I was interviewed live on public radio for Critters' birthday, for those who want to listen.
Free Web Sites
Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at www.nyx.net.
ReAnimus Acquires Advent!
ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!
THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock
Announcing ReAnimus Press
If you're looking for great stuff to read from bestselling and award-winning authors—look no further! ReAnimus Press was founded by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]
The Mysterious Fruit Punch the fellow had called it. Gordon stared at the milky red liquid, ladle in hand.
There was no question that he had to take a drink. It would be a huge breach of diplomacy if he didn't. Who knew what the aliens might do if they took offense?
He took a deep breath and poured the liquid down his thoat as one might cough syrup. But amazingly, it wasn't that bad. In fact, it was rather good.
Then he noticed the strange smiles the aliens wore on their faces as a wave of heat spread from his stomach outward.
A second wave of heat drifted from his stomach. Then a third. He had been turned into a biological heating device.
Startled, Gordon squirmed beneath the restraints of the padded reclining chair. He had selected Beethoven's Ode to Joy to be the Inter-Species Kindred Groove of his Personal Revelation Pod, and as he struggled to loosen chair straps, a baritone voice was just beginning to chide the chorus. "_O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!_" One part of Gordon was fighting like a lassoed mustang against the straps, but a small corner of his thoughts filtered the song through his mind in English. He strained against the straps with all his might, and was rewarded with a "plup!" as they flew off. The aliens reached for him, the soft tree-frog pads of their fingers brushing him. He shoved them away and ran wild-eyed out of the small room and into the atrium. He ran its circumference, slowing to look through portholes of other Revelation pods. Others whom the United Nations Lottery had selected for the Great Galactic Rave were still settling into their Captain's Chairs, or just preparing to drink the Rolling Stellar Cooler. The fat Chilean woman who had told him her life story as they waited at the spaceport rolled her eyes as he banged on her window, then an alien scuttled over to cover the pane with a handful of colorful brochures. Gordon ran screaming ran from door to door, and Beethoven followed him, commenting.
Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum !
Fire drunk! Gordon giggled as a squad of more somber-looking aliens tried to surround him. He was one of the feuertrunken!
"Certainly that was... unexpected." A golden eyed alien rotated its fingers in aggitation as it peered intently into Gordon's face.
"Nerrr... a slight miscalculation perhaps in the formula? Unforeseen reaction? No harm. No harm." said the purple skinned creature who stood directly to Gordon's right.
"What..." Gordon suppressed the inappropriate urge to giggle madly as he glared at the circle of aliens surrounding him. "What the bloody hell was in that Mysterious Pruit Frunch... Myshterious Fruit Frun.."
"Nar, nothing that would _harm_ you, assuredly. Mustn't breach protocal, shall we?" The first alien's eyes tilted upwards as he 'smiled'.
'He looks too blasted pleased with himself' Gordon's brain growled beneath several layers of Mysterious Fruit Punch induced fuzz.
"Hurt you not." The golden eyed alien continued pleasantly. "You now understand, yes? Understand completely. Understand us."
Gordon didn't know if he should laugh or cry as another tidal wave of heat engulfed his body. So he decided to do both.
But he was decidedly producing more tears than laughter. He could hear the drops of his tears on the floor. He was crying far too much. It sounded like a rainstorm and he found he could not control it. His neck felt heavy and all he could do was angle his eyes toward the floor to catch a glimpse of his deluge--as small red lake, growing and. . . moving towards the oblivious aliens. The red liquid flowed towards the bottom of the purplish alien's body. He had just enough time to see what must have been fear and surprise erupt on the alien's face before he completely lost the ability to see normally.
The heat was intense. Flames leapt from Gordon's screaming mouth. Amazingly Gordon felt no pain, but from the ruckus he heard from the frog aliens, they were not so lucky. He heard the ambassdor from the planet Krogleal attempt to direct his people away from the human volcano, but apparently the fear and pain were too much for the aliens. "Single file!" screamed the ambassador. "Please, exit the room in an orderly fashion." The intergalactic fire proof translator, attached to Gordon's flame retardant suit pleasantly gave the flaming man a running commentary of the action. "And then a female said 'Aaaiiii! I'm on fire!'," announced the translator. Gordon fervently wished the flames would burn his ears and put him out of his misery.
But the ceiling caught fire before his ears did. Burning splinters of carved halluciwood peppered the crowd.
Gordon was allergic to halluciwood smoke, so he ran from the burning room, feeling hotter and hotter. Aliens scattered wherever he went, but he finally found the room with the Mysterious Fruit Punch. He grabbed the bowl and poured it over himself. It quenched the flames, and began reacting strangely to the exposed skin of his hands.
"Ambassador!" Gordon said as the purple Kroglealing skidded past the door. "The bathroom? Where's the bathroom?" Perversely, now that the flames were out the pain had started. And the itching.
Ambassador Fremend, still trying to maintain order among the stampeding Kronglealings, raised his ceremonial Kling-Horn in a menacing fashion. Gordon managed to note that the safety was off, but he was too occupied with scratching his poor suffering skin to protest this outrageous breach of etiquette.
The resulting resonance sucked Gordon into a black hole of unconciousness. How long he lay on the floor unattended was beyond his calculation or care. Only when he was pried off the coolness of the faux marble floor did Gordon begin his journey back to conciousness.
A journey lead by the sense that his skin was melting into a pool of bubbling flesh beneath his feet. Gordon forced the image from his mind and concentrated on the large blur that stood before him.
"I deman ah explanalation!" He summoned his best authoritative tone to no avail.
"Lucky indeed, you are." The blur had a voice, it was that of Ambassador Fremend. "Your species is unique, unfortunately very much so."
"Unfortunately, entirely too much so," someone else said, at nine o'clock and six o'clock and about twelve after four o'clock from where Gordon was standing, dripping, wobbling in front of the Ambassador who was steadfastly refusing to become more substantial than a blur. "C'mon, let's get you back to your pod," it added, this time from three other vantages.
He felt a backward tug, a grip and pull from invisible hands the size of mythical Texas. His feet made a gelatinous 'schlorph' as they were peeled off the floor.
Ahhh!! The blessed pod! Immediately a soothing gelatinous balm oozed over his skin, calming the infernal itching. Cool air drifted into his lungs and belly quieting the mighty storms within. A heavy sigh, and a rip-roaring belch later and Gordon felt as good as new.
As Gordon left the pod, the Ambassador thanked him profusely for the remarkable gift he had given the Kroglealing congregation. Such entertainment had not been seen in decades.
The alien's hand felt odd in his, as they shook, like velvet turned rubber; like rubber cement dried.
"I'm glad my travails could entertain, Ambassador. I hope you'll do any humans who visit in the future a favor and warn them off of that stuff."
"I can promise you that. Most things around here are as...allergic...to flame as you seem to be of our punch."
"Ah, yes, speaking of allergic. I feel much better now, but perhaps now you could tell me where the toilet facilities are. My 'unique' system could probably use the purging."
"Oh, certainly. Up two decks, fourth corridor on your right."
As Gordon lifted his foot to move forward, he noticed a red gelatinous mass oozing from his heels and dripping copiously down onto the antique rug beneath him. Red gel mixed itself indelibly into the woolly surface's fibers stopping only at its edges. The gel hardened as it transformed into a lighter weight translucent surface defined by two smooth oval edges, one at each end. The mass then morphed into an off-white shape which appeared to struggle to expand towards its middle. Strange squeak and squawking sounds could be heard from within. An omnious tapping echoed from within. Gordon's flesh quiverred. His stomach began to cramp. His abdominal muscles tightened and squeezed, harder and harder, until the sensation overtook his entire consciousness. His lungs released anguished screams, increasing in frequency and duration. Then the solid oval shape beneath him rumbled and shook. Gordon, a member of the World's Greatest Sea Ranking Captains, held his ground.
Until. .. until! Out popped a creature. And the creature looked at Gordon, and cried, "Dad!".
Gordon passed out.
The next thing he was aware of was an insistent pull on his sleeve, an annoying tug, tug, tug. "Mmmmmmmmmfff," he moaned, trying to shake his arm loose, to no avail. As he cracked his eyes open, he saw a small furry grey ovoid creature standing on a pair of bird claws, tugging at him with its Donald Duck bill. Its large, mammalian eyes were pooling with tears.
"Come on, Dad, we've got to get out of here!" his son implored.
"How wierd," Gordon mumbled in numb confusion, eyeing his mutant offspring with a mixture of pride and disgust. There was something familiar in his big-billed child's face. "Howard?" "Yes Dad?," the platypoid raised its imploring eyes as it continued the tugging toward the closest portal.
"How wierd," Gordon could not be sure he was not still reeling from the fruit punch. "Howard?" he supposed hysterically.
"Yes Dad," the ducklings tugging had nearly brought them to the Gravi-lift.
"Stop calling me Dad," Gordon stopped them just before the lift door."
"Then stop calling me Howard." The punch born avian replied clearly, his bill at last freed from the sleeve.
"Howard?" Gordon quizzicly quiped.
"Duck!" his down covered desendant demanded.
Some unexpectedly literate part of Gordon's mind obeyed his feathered offspring. His poorly-executed bow brought his forehead into contact with the open alloy portal of his Personal Revelation Pod, just as the whipping tongue within Fremend's Kling-Horn slapped the face of the approaching space-pirate.
'Ngafh' said the space-pirate, as he spun three hundred and sixty degrees to execute a perfect pratfall against his partner, knocking each of them out.
'Close one, dad,' Gordon Junior said, with a sharp intake of breath as he saw the bump rising comically on his father's forehead, much like film of a fast-growing mushroom shown in a high school biology class.
'Most profuse apologies,' Fremend fussed, bowing into the opposite side of the portal - connecting with a familar gelatinous 'schlorph' in typical alien peace-offering style.
'The Great Punch was meant to bring you psychic sharing with all the races of the universe' Fremend explained, with much blinking in Gordon Junior's direction '...not create a new one. Such a rare allergy, your species is very fortunate. Or will be, if the Mutant Slave-Trade pirates do not kill us all and kidnap you magnificent ... son?'
"No. I won't accept it. This is all nuts." He flexed his fists and swung out at his feathered so-called progeny. Sure enough, his arms flew through empty air.
"Damn you," he cried, swinging with all his might at the alien Fremund. This next he did not expect. Fremund too, at least the Fremund standing before him, was made from mist, and Gordon toppled forward through the holographic mirage.
He hit the cold ground hard, turning on bruised elbows to look behind him. Fremund and 'Howard' each stood looking down at him. Their eyes bespoke contempt.
"Stupid," they said in unison, before blinking out of existence entirely.
Gorden woke choking on the disgusting swamp water, He blinked and a small insect fluttered out of the corner of his eye. It grew larger and larger until Gorden could no longer see it's head.
"Just as well, he was an ugly bugger."
Gorden felt the hot dripping jaws just over his shoulder, he turned gingerly, but still managed to slip into the nasty swamp water. Gagging and coughing his head bobbed to above the waves. The jaws moved again. "Bugger? Who you calling a bugger?"
"Slugger, I said slugger." Gorden replied in haste.
Gordon looked around quizically. The last thing he remembered was hitting his head on the less-than-padded rim of his Personal Revelation Pod. Even after the recent chain of events, he felt unprepared for this latest challenge.
About two and a half meters tall, the new alien looked carnivorous in the extreme. With three eyes floating about on thick, tendrous stalks, it stared hungrily (or so it seemed) in Gordon's direction.
With apparent difficulty, it spoke again, "I'm bloody sure you called me a bugger, mate."
Gordon, wiping swamp water and smelly, wet moss from his eyes, shook his head violently from side to side. "With all due respect to you sir, I'm sure it was slugger. You remind me of the late first baseman from the Saint Louis Cardinals. His name escapes me just now."
Standing gingerly and looking around he addressed the alien with the utmost respect and said, "Have you seen Howard?"
" Howard? Sure, he went around the corner with the mutant nubbies."
"Who you callin' a nubbie?"
Gordon shook his head and lifted his hands in protest, anger creeping into his vice. "Not you! You said Howard went with the mutant nubbies. What are the mutant nubbies...uh, sir?" He remembered the alien's size at the last second.
"Are you sure you weren't calling me a nubbie?" the alien asked, his three eyes narrowing and moving closer to Gordon's face.
Gordon lost restraint. "No I didn't call you a nubbie your imbecilic moron? Don't you listen to a Baal damned word I say? Where in the name of your feces filled undershorts is Howard?"
The monster roared and Gordon had only a moment to realize his mistake. It's hands enveloped him and lifted him from the ground. He lost his breath in the stink of the monster's own.
As it stuffed him down its mouth, and he felt its fangs punch through his flesh and its acidic saliva burning at his face and eyes, he thought, 'Finally, blessed death, for me most wretched of creations.'
---And then Gordon was no more.
"spit him out!" Cried Jespael The beast spasmed at the command and involutarily began to vomit.
"What the hell is goin' on here?" Gordon said standing to wipe the creatures earlier meals from off his clothing. The awe, of all that was alien, gone.
"You are the ambassador are you not?" said Jespael looking contemptuously at the creature writhing on the floor to front right side of her.
"You are unfortunately a... how to put this" She pondered. "More acurately, how do I put this totally correctly?" "put what correctly?" He puzzled. "You are a clone... A psychic clone is only a slight bit more precise... perhaps the best way to put this is you are a real person who birthed a psychic life that is also you but has no body. Because your species psyche can not dislodge itself to... communicate... via telepathic methods it sought instead to birth one that can?"
"Is that it?" He said calmly while ringing out his favorite hat. "Cause you sure are being, well... rather vague about something" He blurted in a rush of anger.
Then, taking a deep breath, he continued." I apologize, I don't mean to seem so angry, it's just that..." Gordon looked at Jespael and whispered..."So much seems to have happened since I drank that... that.... stuff." Then he frowned and remembered what she had told him, that he was a clone, more accurately, a psychic clone. "Ok, Ms. Jespael, how the hell could I drink something if I am only a psychic clone? Answer that one, if you can?"
Jespael gave him an exasperated look. "You are such a human! Of course you did not physically drink anything, at least your psychic self did not." Gordon felt foolish now. He was practically the first human allowed to participate in this ritual and he was not setting forth much of an example. Not a good one at least.
"I am afraid that I can't remember a whole lot before I drank the punch. How long is this supposed to last?" Gordon blurted out, since Jespael seemed to walking, moving, drifting away from him.
"It's over now!" shouted voices that seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of his head. And so it was.
THE END (DONE)
Can we start a new one! This ones been here for 2 years and no activity!! I suggest errase and start anew.
Yes! Good idea, lets start a new SF story hehehehehehehehe cool :)