Friday, July 8, 2011

Combatwords for July 11, 2011: The Rules of Sci-Fi

Combatwords for July 11, 2011: The Rules of Sci-Fi

The famous and influential sci-fi editor Groff Conklin said there were only a few types of sci-fi stories: invasions from space, space travel & possible worlds, parapsychological concepts, time travel & possible worlds, worlds of tomorrow, the superscience of humanity, and earth wonders. So this topic can either be on the archetypes of novelty, or sci-fi (or sci-po). Be creative. Even if you think this topic isn't for you, surely you have given some thought to science—and perhaps been proven wrong. That's even better. Flawed misunderstandings of the truth are the most entertaining truths of all.

Combat Expiration: 12am PST, 7/11/2011

Critique Expiration: 12am PST, 7/13/2011

Bonuses/Penalties: +2 if posted by 9pm PST 7/8/2011; +1 if posted by 2am PST, 7/9/2011; -1 if posted by 6am 7/11/2011; -2 if posted by 12pm 7/11/2011

The Rules:

Subscribe in a reader


  1. Science Fiction of the Future (The Future of Science Fiction)

    1. A Hologram

    A half-eaten order of Walla Walla onion rings, crispy skin of breading encases each slimy ribbon of milky onion. You can feel the texture of every crumb, every splotch of dribbled grease soaking through the paper taht lines the bottom of the plastic basket. A folded gray newspaper sits beside it on the bright orange tabletop. You can read every word, though the date is obscured by a convenient smear of ketchup.
    Something buzzes past your nose and is sucked to the edge of the basket like a clump of iron filings leaping toward a magnet. A huge bluebottle, with a yearning proboscis and glasy wings. If there was such a thing as numbers, you could could every hair on its legs.

    2. Tomorrow Was Here Before You Knew It

    In the future, the Vietnam War never happened. The aliens assassinated every world leader and replaced them all with robots. These robots were microscopic time-travelers sent back to harvest genetic material from mastodons and wooly crocodiles. In the future every baby was born with a computer in its skull which in turn was inhabited by a pixilated ghost prostitute. In the future, cannibalism. In the future, nuclear-powered unicycles were pedaled into the holographic wastelands where we did battle with a race of subterranean Adonises. Moons were lassoed together and flung like giant bolos across the solar system. We made love to insects and worshipped candy bars. In our spare time we gathered around the digital fires and told stories about steel-finned rockets piloted by sentient vegetables, delivering medicine and pestilence to the distant colonies. The future glittered beneath a thick layer of ash. In the future we believed that the universe was an infinitely large mote in the eye of some cosmic beast which spent eternity blinking and blinking in an attempt to rid itself of this irritating speck.

    3. Supernova in a Glass Eye

    On that high shelf in the pantry sat jars of pig’s knuckles, fish heads in brine, pickled vegetables that looked like entrails. Instead of getting out the step stool, I gazed up at the unreachable goodies and peeled the wrapper from a Milky Way. A marble sat on the windowsill, and reflected in it was a shrike sitting on a wire outside, crunching the shell of a locust in its beak. Deep in the ceiling beams, termites chewed, their bellies churning with microbes hard at work breaking down bites of splinters. The smoggy sunset burnt a brilliant orange. A small chalkboard hung beside the refrigerator, with the words “To Do” etched across the top. I took a stub of chalk and pressed it to the slate. The soft tip crumbled, leaving a trail of stardust to trickle down, swirling the particles that up until now had been lazily drifting through the sunbeam.

  2. Cattraption [Combatwords, July 9, 2011]

    What of the wires of the cat and contraption?
    Feline who sits on computer, observing
    Keystrokes and flickered intention on monitor
    Linked by the wireless data to trolly:
    Sphinx of the fogbelt, lynx of the kilobit,
    Minx of the fence—she is orange or tabby.

    Cameras watch us from space, on the buses,
    Toll-bridge and office—the witness of nothing.
    Witless, the eyes have transcended the brain.
    Idols have sung of the eyes without face—
    Idle, our mouths fill with worship, not grace:
    Spied-on and spying; one cries and one scries.

    Seen by machines, gone to meaningless storage;
    Accessed by programs, the meaningless programs
    Watching, recording, recalling, forgetting—
    Never to purr or demand our best dairies;
    Never to sicken, recover, regenerate
    Litters of microchips, mewling, reforming.

    Rust for a daughter, entropy daughter;
    Lethe made of solder, our servant, our daughter
    Watches for nothing, while spies made of animal
    Watch and refuse us—love and ignore us.