Tag Archives: science fiction

We Are Living in a Dystopian Fantasy

What if the Trump administration was just the beginning of a Young Adult Fantasy story?

•••

Naomi felt like a baby in a blanket. She was swaddled, covered in drool, warm and safe. It took her a moment to realize she was wearing a straight jacket and that stiff surface beneath her wasn’t a crib, but the floor of a padded cell.

Naomi eyes took time adjusting to the light. The fluorescent fixtures had rainbow auras, they shined so bright they cast sunspots on the walls. The shadows swayed back and forth as her pupils shifted in and out of alignment. Finally the chamber revealed itself.

The cell was lined with a canvas with two tones: white on the top and stained at the bottom. Its cushions were lopsided from years of use. At this point the padding looked like it would do a better job protecting the walls than the patients.

Naomi’s head throbbed. It felt like a rat had burrowed beneath her brow, curled up, and started kicking the skin. It took all her strength to wrench herself up off the floor. Continue reading We Are Living in a Dystopian Fantasy

Newsreelmancer PART 2

Continued from Newsreelmancer PART 1

Welcome to the year 2036. Technology has changed, but society’s ills have remained the same.

Our hero purchased a pair of smart lenses off the darknet, so he could slack off at work. Too bad the first thing he saw with them was a terrorist attack. Three planes crashed into the Freedom Tower at the exact moment our hero turned his lenses on. Coincidence, or is there something sinister about these so called Oracle Eyes?

Newsreelmancer PART 2

The night the One World Trade Center was attacked I lay in bed staring at the applications on the ceiling. I scanned through those rune stone icons, opening and closing them. Apart from the News app, none of them opened with a strange flurry of pictures.

There was one app that refused to open at all.

This rune had a keyhole etched into it. I squinted at it but it wouldn’t enlarge nor would it ignite. After thirty seconds of staring all that appeared were the words DET HEMMELIGE KAMMER. I ran them through a Norwegian to English dictionary. They translated to THE SECRET CHAMBER.

I’ve seen applications that pose as other things: documents, system apps, or folders. Things a suspicious spouse wouldn’t bat an eye at. Developers marketed these apps as little black books for swingers, photo libraries for sexts, and lock boxes for corporate secrets.

Those apps hid in plain sight. DET HEMMELIGE KAMMER had “Secret” in the title and an icon that demanded inspection.

I kept trying, but the application wouldn’t respond to squints, nor would it give me a field to enter a password in. Stranger still, it wasn’t present in any of the Oracle Eyes beta operating systems I found online. Either these lenses were pre-alpha prototypes or they’d been modded after the fact. Continue reading Newsreelmancer PART 2

Newsreelmancer PART 1

The world can’t seem to go a week without a soul shattering tragedy. The news is getting harder to take, while the methods for viewing it are only getting easier. Imagine a future where tragedies are worse and updates come as easily as thinking. Would you be able to resist filling your head with all the bad news?

Newsreelmancer

The words 1 SEARCH RESULT projected on the wall.

I flung my tablet on the pillow, threw my fists up in victory, and jumped on the bed. My cat, Loki, saw my excitement as a threat and fled the room.

The page loaded. The logo filled the wall from the ceiling to the dresser: the pyramid, the all seeing eye, and the finger applying the contact lens to it. The perfect emblem for the holy grail of wearable technologies.

I caught the tablet before it fell off the mattress. I’d filled several columns with letter combinations and put checkmarks next to the ones whose searches produced nothing. I was finally able to circle one: Fern_Rep_Coy_Release.

The price hovering above my cactus was one grand.

I craned my neck. “Alfred, open my wallet.”

A refined English accent boomed over the surround system. “Which card would you prefer sir?”

Projections of four credit cards spread out over my action figure collection, three glowed red. One glowed green. I pointed to the green one, “Let’s go with the MasterCard.”

“Very well, sir.”

The price tag for the Fern_Rep_Coy_Release flipped around to PURCHASED. Continue reading Newsreelmancer PART 1

What The X-Files Taught Me About Writing Scary Stories

1. Grown Man with Action Figures

The X-Files defined dramatic science fiction in the 90s. It inspired fans to write spooky stories of their own. Rumor has it, the show is returning for a limited run. Mulder and Scully will wave their flashlights across our TV screens one last time.

I wanted to share what the show taught me about plot structure, characterization, and planting scares in an audience’s imagination. Continue reading What The X-Files Taught Me About Writing Scary Stories

Too Much Information: Why Writers Should Conceal Their Research

"I have to resist the compulsion to reference everyone of these"
“I have to resist the compulsion to reference everyone of these”

A few years ago, someone approached me about adapting a thriller into a screenplay. Reading through the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure where the script should begin. The first scene involved an autopsy where the pathologist missed the symptoms of a biological agent. The author took us through each stage of the autopsy including each instrument the pathologist used, where he made his incisions, and the weight of every organ. Continue reading Too Much Information: Why Writers Should Conceal Their Research

My Time Travel Romantic Comedy Pitch

What’s missing from the time travel romantic comedy genre? A harsh dystopia. What if every manic pixie dream girl, was secretly a talent scout from the future? What if someone told you your magnum opus finds an audience long after you die? This story is a commentary on where I think the entertainment industry is headed.

Hand me the keys to the Delorean and I’ll show you an alternate timeline. Here’s some of the irresponsible things I’d do with a time machine.

"Drew, you just ran over Hitler with a Delorean!"
“Drew, you just ran over Hitler with a Delorean!” “HE WAS IN MY WAY!”

My Time Travel Romantic Comedy Pitch

This isn’t a synopsis, it’s a loose pitch, a parade of plot points, a poll of possibilities. If you think it’s something worth developing, say so in the comments.

Logline: A publicist travels back in time to seduce an author whose fame was achieved after his death. Her firm specializes in corrupting these unsung geniuses with stardom, and reaping in the profits.

Character/Drive

In the not too distant future: every film, TV show, and video game is based on an established work. New intellectual properties are considered risky investments. The corporations with the most time-honored masterpieces in their vaults own the entertainment industry.

Ashlynn is a scout for a publishing firm. Charged with copywriting classics before they enter into the public domain, she gets to these stories before their audience can. Violating restrictions on time travel, her firm has offices that stretch back to the dawn of the printing press.

Ashlynn specializes in finding authors who gained notoriety after their deaths. Traveling to when they were in their prime, she wins them over with sweet talk, and publishing contracts. For minuscule costs in the past, she reaps massive benefits for the future.

Ashlynn’s firm is responsible for an alternate reality where Edgar Allen Poe lives to become a bored true crime author, where H.P. Lovecraft struggles to step out of the shadow of his Cthulhu mythos, and fame gives Henry David Thoreau a new found affection for the big city.

Ashlynn pressures Herman Melville into writing a sequel to Moby Dick. It undermines the original’s message, turning the series into a precursor for Jaws.

As a scout, Ashlynn does her best to avoid the firm’s temporal agents, dark figures who travel back in time to enforce the firm’s agenda. They make sure their golden geese keep laying eggs. Whenever an author has a flight of fancy, these shadow figures clip their wings. Sabotaging lives, the agents put these writers back in front of the blank page. The firm regards their authors, who would never have achieved acclaim without them, as their prose spewing property.

Ashlynn watches the agents detain Emily Dickinson, when she tries to burn her journals. She sees them catch Franz Kafka trying to do the same. When he writes about their “Kafkaesque” time bending schemes, she’s surprised to find they publish it as it is.

Ashlynn thwarts Sylvia Plath’s suicide attempt. The agents throw her client into a padded cell, where the price of daylight is a page of poetry.

"Drew, you just hit Bin Laden with a flying skateboard!"
“Drew, you just hit Bin Laden with a flying skateboard!” “IT’S CALLED A HOVERBOARD, OLD MAN!”

Continue reading My Time Travel Romantic Comedy Pitch

Lenses

Photo by Keane Amdahl follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned
Photo by Keane Amdahl follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned

This was originally posted on Alana Chapman’s website as part of her summer shorts series. Check her site out here, and follow her on Twitter @AlanaofOz

***

The arrows on the floor have taken on the texture of the linoleum. They look like shadows made of light. When I peer inside the coat room, they animate around me. They beckon like fingers leading to a pie in a cartoon.

“Not this way,” The arrows say.

Yes, this way. I press on. Here in the dark, the coat room is unattended. I roll my eyes. Everything goes green. The coat racks present themselves in shades of lime. Pixels line their sleeves. Staircases line their shoulders. I feel the pockets for lumps, discard scarves, and gloves to the floor. I gag when I get a palm full of tissues, still wet with snot.

It’s all worth it, when my hand strikes pay dirt, a business card with a picture of a manuscript with fluttering pages on one side, and a QR code on the other. I hold the QR code up to my eyes. I scan the boxes from left to right. I hear a ding. The eureka sound effect that accompanies light bulbs.

Continue reading Lenses