Wednesday, November 30, 2022

"The Talk" (Part One) by Bruce Bethke

And once again, Spring returns to the North Country. In the space of two short weeks we've gone from watching the glaciers calve...

To watching the trees bud, the grass turn green, and the crocuses, tulips, and daffodils erupt from the ground in a glorious riot of color, only to get nommed to bits every night by hordes of ravenous bunnies.

Still, the flowers keeping trying. You have to admire that.

Along with the flowers, another sure sign that Spring has returned are the messages like this one, which have begun popping up in my email Inbox lately:

"Dear Mr. Bethke,

"I teach [subject] at [school], and I was wondering if you'd be interested in coming in to talk to my class about..."Actually, yes; schedule permitting, I would be delighted to come in and speak with your class.


My reasons are complex, and not always altogether clear to me. Some part of it is born of a simple and honest sense of altruism. Another part is born of a nagging sense of obligation. When I was a cocky young brat just starting out in this business, a lot of older and more experienced writers and editors were much more patient with me than I really deserved. While it's too late to repay their kindness now, I can pay it forward, so this is something I always try to do.

Then there is another, somewhat more mercenary and perhaps less admirable part.

I wouldn't do anything so precious as to claim that I do this for market research, or to "keep a finger on the pulse of the next generation" or anything like that. But the truth is, these conversations always end up being very educational for me. We who live and work inside the ant farm of SF/F publishing tend to take the long view, and given half a chance will tell you all about some story that Arthur C. Clarke first published in Galaxy in 1952. We tend to forget that out there, in the so-called real world, time continues to slide by -- and it does so in the form of window, about ten years long. For most people out there, five years ago is ancient history, and five years in the future is almost unimaginable.

Couple that with the other ten-year window -- that short span of years between the age when a young person is old enough to begin reading for pleasure and the age at which his or her literary tastes have become ossified for life -- and it's enough to make you feel positively Tralfamadorian.

So from time to time I feel the need to step out into the rushing time-flow, to talk to this year's crop of students, but mostly to listen and learn. And some of the things I learn are astonishing.
Science fiction, fantasy, horror? Those bright lines of demarcation between genres and subgenres that we in the business claim to see so clearly are invisible to younger eyes. Steampunk elves? Sure. Fighting vampires and zombies on spaceships? Why not? As long as the story is exciting and the imagery is engaging, all else can be forgiven.

Print, video, graphic novels, online gaming? It's all one continuous media space now, and the different incarnations of a given property are all just different points on the same continuum. Books, live-action movies, animated movies, graphic novels, and video game cut scenes are all treated as equally valid. "The movie was cool but the game totally sucked" is a trenchant critique.

Star Wars? Bring that up in a classroom today and you're most like to spark an argument over whether Disney's decision to close down LucasArts and turn all game development over to Electronic Arts was a disaster or a catastrophe. "Oh, you mean the movies? I think my Dad still has those on DVD and watches them once in a while."

Star Trek? "Wasn't that movie with Chris Pine and Zach Quinto great? I am so waiting for Into Darkness to open next week!

"What, you mean the old stuff, like with Captain Piccard, or the really old stuff, that my Grandpa still watches?" To this generation, the original Star Trek occupies the same cognitive space that old Flash Gordon serials occupied for mine: some pretty cool ideas, hampered by hammy acting, plodding scripts, and laughably cheap special effects. The idea that Into Darkness is a re-imagining of a thirty-year-old idea bothers them no more than the idea that The Wrath of Khan was an expansion of "Space Seed" bothered their parents.

Harry Potter? "I think my older sister read all those books. I'm more into Twilight. And World War Z. And The Walking Dead. And The Hunger Games."

Doctor Who is a series you watch on Netflix. Any mention of Dr. Who is sure to start a vigorous argument over which one's the best Doctor -- Matt Smith or David Tennant -- with one smug girl in the back insisting they're both wrong, it's Christopher Eccleston. Mention Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, or how wonderful it was to see Elisabeth Sladen one more time in "The Stolen Earth," and all you'll get is a roomful of blank looks. "Who?"

Radagast the Brown gets a surprising amount of name recognition. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are those films by Peter Jackson. Dwarves are awesome. Elves are probably gay. (This last assertion is always followed by a sudden nervous look around, and then, "Not that there's anything wrong with that.")

A generation of steady indoctrination has failed: most girls still don't want to be kick-ass warrior women. They want to be Disney princesses, or better yet a Disney princess with a longbow and a talking unicorn for a companion.

If dwarves are awesome, tharks are even more awesomer. Disney totally botched the deal with John Carter, because the film really resonates with teenage boys, most of whom have watched it on DVD or Blu-Ray and can't wait for the next one to come out. I haven't yet had the heart to tell any of them that it took 80 years for this one to get made, so they're probably in for a long wait.

Only Goths like Batman. Captain America is awesome (now that was a surprise), and boys don't want to be Batman or Superman, they want to be Tony Stark -- provided they also get Gwyneth Paltrow in the deal.

No teenagers read comic books any more. They can't afford to.
Of course, this is all incidental. The kids aren't there to teach me -- at least, not consciously -- they're there to hear me teach them The Secret. And no matter how I might try to steer and control the conversation, it always ends up with one brave student finally getting up the nerve to ask:

"Mr. Bethke? How do I become a writer?" Oh, boy... be continued...
by Bruce Bethke, May 10, 2013 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Creating Alien Aliens 19 -- How Do the Heptapods in “Arrival” and CS Lewis’ God Perceive Time?

I was having trouble writing this and couldn’t figure out why. After a six hour interval during which I went to a Celebration of Life for a work friend of mine, I sat down again to try and finish this.

The problem was that I hadn’t defined my goal; my question. I got hold of the question as soon as I sat down again: Why is an altered perception of time OK in an alien and ridiculed in God? Both the original story and the movie won glowing reviews:

“The Story of Your Life”: “won the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella, the 1999 Theodore Sturgeon Award; nominated for the 1999 Hugo Award for Best Novella; translated into Italian, Japanese, French and German”; James Gleick wrote: ‘[This] poses the questions: would knowing your future be a gift or a curse, and is free will simply an illusion?’, answering himself, ‘For us ordinary mortals, the day-to-day experience of a preordained future is almost unimaginable’, but Chiang does just that in this story, he ‘imagine[s] it’. It was reprinted ten more times before the movie came out. Besides the awards above it was nominated for a HOMer, a Tiptree / Otherwise Gender-bending SF, a Locus, and won a 2002 Seiun (Japan) for the Best Translated Short Story.

The movie “Arrival”: was “nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay; won the 2017 Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation”. In addition, “It grossed $203 million worldwide and received critical acclaim, with particular praise…for the exploration of communication with extraterrestrial intelligence. Considered one of the best films of 2016, [it] appeared on numerous critics' year-end lists and was selected by the American Film Institute as one of ten ‘Movies of the Year’… ‘Adams received nominations for a BAFTA, SAG, Critics' Choice, and at the 74th Golden Globe Awards, nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress…The score…was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 60th Grammy Awards.”

The thing is, I agree with all of the above hype. My question however, is WHY did the story and movie generate so much attention; so much praise; such awe? During a summer school class I teach called ALIEN WORLDS, I have my students watch clips from it. IMDb describes it this way, “A linguist works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world.”

Really??? What it DOESN’T say is absolutely crucial: The aliens don’t experience time as Humans do. The aliens, whom people call Heptapods (from the Greek: seven + feet (as in podiatry, not units of 12 inches)) may possibly have a similar perception of time that CS speculates God does.

In his Section 3 of his book, MERE CHRISTIANITY, in “Time and Beyond Time”: “…in [this] final section of the book…C.S. Lewis addresses the question of how in the world God can hear all of the prayers in the world at once. In 1945, CS Lewis also addressed the same problem that Ted Chiang did. In his essay, he writes, “Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He know what you and I are going to do tomorrow. But if he know I am going to so so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise?...the difficulty comes from thinking God is progressing along the timeline like us…But suppose God is outside and above the timeline. In that case, what we call tomorrow, is visible to him just the same way as what we call today. All the days are ‘now’ for Him. He does not foresee you doing things tomorrow; he simply sees you doing them.’”

The Heptapods in “Arrival” make a similar statement. When Louise is behind the transparent shield and (apparently) breathing the same air as the Heptapods, and after she understands their language, she has a conversation.

Louise: Where is Abbott.
Costello: Abbott is death process.
Louise: I don’t understand.
Costello: Louise has weapon. Use weapon. We help Humanity.
Louise: I don’t understand.
Costello: In 3000 years, we need Humanity help.
Louise: [She experiences another out-of-linear-time event where her seven or eight year old daughter shows her different representations in different media of her mother (Louise) and her father (Ian)]
Costello: There is no linear time.

Chiang and Lewis explore a fascinating concept and somehow, they arrive (no pun intended!) with the same answer as they explore how aliens and God might experience time and how nearly-incomprehensible that seems.

My students were both captivated and confused with the Heptapods (of course, I can’t mention CS Lewis and God…though I suppose I could bring up Lewis’ Space Trilogy and the aliens in THAT).


The upshot of this post is to bring to light that the question both Chiang and Lewis sought to explore were the same.

The answer they explored was also the same.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

"The Trouble with Advice" by Bruce Bethke

Thirty-five years ago I was living in Los Angeles, shopping my demo tape all over Hollywood, and trying to take my musical career to the next level. Auditions and callbacks were few and far-between, though, so I spent a lot of time either in my apartment or else down at the beach, watching the nonstop freak show, scribbling away in my notebook, and doing my best to follow in the unsteady footsteps of Jim Morrison. In my mind's eye the images from those days remain remarkably razor-sharp: I can still see the shape and color of the inside walls of that small apartment, and the way the cockroaches danced and scattered when I flipped on the lights, and the faces and houses in the surrounding low-rent but not altogether unpleasant neighborhood -- and the best places to go for cheap but still edible Asian or Mexican food -- and the near-miraculous way the smog would sometimes lift, sometimes for entire hours at a time, and the skies would clear enough for me to see the mountains, a thousand yards off in the distance. I can still remember all the different back ways and side streets I used to take to walk or bike down to the beach...

Many years later a business trip brought me back to Los Angeles, and one morning I found myself at loose ends in Hollywood with a nice rental car and a few hours to kill. On a lark I decided to drive back to my old neighborhood, to see if anything had changed.

Oh, it'd changed, all right. It was now not so much a low-rent neighborhood as the exterior daylight set for some low-budget post-Apocalyptic sci-fi movie. The ghetto bars on almost every window weren't all that much of a surprise to me, but I didn't expect to see the coils of concertina wire on the perimeter fences and rooftops of the remaining businesses, or the gang graffiti tags on pretty much every flat vertical surface, or the knots and clots of young men standing around on the sidewalks and street corners, glaring at me with narrowed eyes, as if trying to decide whether I was worth the effort of car-jacking or if they should just bust a cap on my fool ass for trespassing on their turf.

I took a few heartbeats to soak it all in, then hit the gas, found the nearest freeway entrance ramp, and just about kicked the accelerator pedal through the floor in my desire to light up the afterburners and get the flaming flying hell out of there.

L. P. Hartley once wrote, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." This is not merely a truism but a serious problem for those in the advice trade, both those who would like to give it and those who hope to receive it. Maps both physical and cognitive are constantly changing, and the best we on the giving side can do is tell you what the landscape looked like when we last went that way.

To those who hope to receive advice, remember: any advice you receive from someone who's already been there and done that is by definition old. It may be useful as-is. More likely it will require some straining and filtering to be useful in the here and now. Much of it might be completely irrelevant, and some of it -- such as the mental map of a certain neighborhood in Los Angeles that I drew back in the 1970s -- might actually get you into serious trouble if you were to try to apply it now.

Case in point, when I first decided to get serious about writing science fiction for professional publication, about thirty years ago, there were six "pro" magazines on the newsstands, perhaps two dozen good-paying semi-pro mags, and at least a half-dozen book publishers with healthy lines of mass-market paperback originals. The typical editorial response time ranged from four to six weeks, and if you lived reasonably frugally it was possible to pay the month's rent with one decent short-story sale.

Since I wasn't haven't consistent success at first, I decided to sponge up all the advice I could find from the established Old School pros. It took me years to realize that their advice was in turn rooted in a time when there were two mail deliveries daily, no paperback originals market, a lot of pulp magazines on the newsstands -- for that matter, a lot of newsstands -- and far fewer writers competing for the available publication space. Back in their day, if you lived in New York, it was possible to mail a story to Astounding in the morning, get it back with comments from John Campbell that afternoon, rewrite it overnight and remail it the next morning, and have Campbell's check in-hand the following evening -- and that was at a time when 5-cents per word was serious money.

Now? There are, what, three major pro magazines left? A vast plethora of minor pro and semi-pro markets ranging from brilliant to awful, a paperback originals market that's coughing blood, an entry on the Endangered Species List for "neighborhood bookstores" tagged Believed Extinct in the Wild, and a good short-story sale might... Pay your cell phone bill for a month, and leave enough left over for lunch at Taco John's?

So how much of the advice that I sponged up from the Old School pros -- or even that I developed myself, from my own experiences in the 1980s and 1990s -- do you suppose is relevant now?

There is no going back to the way things were. Heck, there's not much point in going back more than a decade. When I first decided to revive The Slush Pile Survival Guide, I thought, "This will be easy. I've been writing this kind of stuff for twenty years! I'll just go back into the deep archives, exhume my old columns, and -- "

And discover that the world has changed in the years since then, far more than I imagined. True, many aspects of good story-telling haven't changed since the Neolithic age, but the business of selling your fiction and getting it published has changed almost beyond recognition in just the past ten years. A few of my old columns are still useful as-is, and a few more contain nuggets of information that might conceivably be reworked into something useful now, but most are now better off taken to the county hazardous waste site and left for safe disposal.

That is the challenge you face, when you read advice from any established old pro. You must be a discerning reader; you must weigh and evaluate what you see and determine what's relevant to you. I can't tell you with absolute assurance how to break into publication in today's fiction market, because I didn't do it, and I'm not the one who's trying to do it now.

Remember, I became a successful and award-winning fiction writer in a different century. And in a foreign country.
Posted by ~brb February 22, 2013  

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Status Update • 17 November 2022



A lot of people have been asking lately, “What’s going on with Stupefying Stories?”

My honest answer is that I don’t know. My attention has been elsewhere. 

As most of you already know, my wife, Karen, has always been the heart and soul of Stupefying Stories and Rampant Loon Press. She’s also been battling metastatic breast cancer since 2010, and as a consequence we’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and more than a few times when everything seemed to be going sideways. 

I’ve been going back through my planner, trying to figure out what went wrong this time. With the benefit of hindsight, it looks like things started to go wobbly in July. There followed a slow and steady decline through August, and then—

Well, a picture being more effective than words, here’s a photo of her I took in late August.

When things really went wrong was when she began treatment with a new chemotherapy drug on August 30th. This drug is so new, it was only approved by the FDA on August 5th. While it does seem to have done a good job of suppressing the spread of her cancer, systemically, all sorts of other things started to go wrong. Not all at once; not things that were obviously interrelated. But throughout September, she took an accelerating downward plunge that came to a crisis in early October. 

From the ER, she was admitted to the ICU. From the ICU, she was transferred to the Neuroscience wing. After a day or two they decided trepanning her to let the demons out was not the best option, but a month later she remains in the hospital, while her medical team struggles. Each new day is one step forward, two steps back, and perhaps a little skip sideways. We can get this problem under control, but doing so just opens the door for that problem to get worse…

When a doctor pulls you aside to tell you it’s time to call the family—and the family priest, if you have one—things are not going well.

So where are things going with Stupefying Stories? Right at this moment, I don’t know. My attention is focused on the person who has been in my life for more than fifty years and my partner for most of them. Good Lord, we were so young when we began this journey!

Thank you for reading this,
Bruce Bethke

Friday, November 4, 2022

Creating Alien Aliens, Part 21: The REAL Possibility of Intelligent Alien Aliens

Update 11/5/2022: A BRAND NEW article on BBC News: Humans are still searching for signs of intelligent alien life on other planets – but how would we react towards it if we ever did make contact?

I’ve been a fan of SF movies with aliens in them since I watched “Invasion of the Saucer Men” when I was 13 (1970). It was a movie that was, oddly, 13-years-old as well, made in 1957. I was watching a late-night TV show called “Horror, Incorporated” when the movie ran. Unlike my response to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (where I threw the blankets over my head when the camera panned to the eyeless farmer); my reaction to the still-living, alien hand – torn off when the couple who’d been making out at Inspiration Point and heading home, ran over one of the invading aliens – was total absorption.

Since then, and fueled by a BS in biology, and an addition that allowed me to teach Earth Science in MN, I’ve been fascinated by alien biology.

Like anyone else who reads and writes science fiction, I believe with all my heart that there is intelligent life Out There and just because we haven’t definitively “met Them” yet, they HAVE to be out there somewhere.

But, what’s the REAL possibility of finding intelligent life off of Earth, if not in our Solar System or orbiting a nearby star, then SOMEWHERE in the universe? I refuse to accept Ellie Arroway’s lecture to a group of kids at the end of the movie, “I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space. Right?”

Carl Sagan’s book of the same name, that has been misattributed to his own invention, which was coined by John Burroughs (American naturalist and nature essayist) in ACCEPTING THE UNIVERSE (“On Other Stars”) (1920). His exact words are, “If they be inhabited, what a scope for misery and folly; if they be na inhabited, what a waste of space.” It has repeatedly been attributed to Carl Sagan because he quoted it at a November 20, 1972 symposium on “Life Beyond Earth and the Mind of Man”, held at Boston University. But the fact is that, it originated half a century before he quoted it.

Like the quote, and despite our firm belief that Modern Civilization “invented” the idea of aliens and alien worlds – because we’re just SO forward thinking – the concept of aliens and alien worlds has been around since Roman Empire actually ruled Western Europe: “The famous Roman poet Cicero was interested in the possibility of living beings on the Moon, and his Somnium Scipionis may have inspired Plutarch (46 A.D. - 120 A.D.) to write his account of a visit to the Moon. In Facies in Orbe Lunare…

Plutarch endorsed the Pythagoreans thus: ‘They affirm that the Moon is terrestrial and inhabited like the Earth, peopled with the greatest living creatures and the fairest plants...’”

Then the author makes an unsubstantiated claim that the Church was responsible for a thousand-year silence regarding the possibility of space travel and alien life writing, though they hedge their bets by what I call weasel words, “…This may probably be attributed to the pervasiveness of the Church philosophy and its rigid opposition to the idea of the plurality of worlds. The pronouncement of…the Bishop of Chiusi, in 1145 A.D. was perhaps typical: The belief in many worlds was to be condemned as heresy.” They provide no references…then runs with their conclusions, making Thomas Aquinas into some kind of simpering idiot: “If God really was all-powerful, why was he only able to create one world? Conversely, if only one world existed how could God possibly be truly infinite and omnipotent? The theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) came up with a ‘solution’ to the problem: God had the power to create infinite worlds, but all the matter in the universe had been used to construct Earth!” Continuing the narrative (and using exclamation points to highlight the author’s disbelief, “…“…the Church subsequently partially reversed its extreme position. In 1277…[the Church] decried as new heresy the belief that a plurality of worlds was impossible!...According to the physics of Aristotle (“from his teachings…the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.”)…still in vogue (sounds like the author is stating that Aristotle was some sort of fad that soon passed) until the 16th century, if any other worlds did exist they would have to gravitate to the center of the universe (where Earth was). But it became wrong to suggest that God could not create many worlds if He wished.”

“The debate was far from ended. In 1410 the Jewish philosopher Crescas wrote: ‘Everything said in negation of the possibility of many worlds is vanity and a striving after wind." Still, he was unwilling to stick out his neck very far: ‘...yet we are unable by means of mere speculation to ascertain the true nature of what is outside this world; our sages, peace be on them, have seen fit to warn against searching and inquiring into what is above and what is below, what is before and what is behind...’”

“…during the Inquisition in Europe in the mid-fifteenth century. Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa in 1440 in which he stated: Rather than think so many stars and parts of the heavens are uninhabited, and that this Earth or ours alone is peopled.. .we will suppose that in every region there are inhabitants, differing in nature by rank and all owing their origin to God.”

Considering how little we know about other animals here on Earth, he claims, "of the inhabitants....of worlds other than our own we can know still less, having no standards by which to appraise them.”

“As astronomical observations became more accurate, the geocentric Aristotelian/Ptolemaic world view began to generate problems that were difficult to resolve…[and] The roadblocks to the idea of intelligent alien life on other worlds were rapidly disintegrating.”

So, there’s an interesting view of the past. Now that we have the Science of the 21st Century, it should be obvious by now that all discussion of life on other worlds has more-or-less resolved itself into a fairly uniform belief: it’s ABSOLUTELY THERE!!!!

Hold on a moment!

Current speculation – and make no mistake, every thought we have or write (I include myself here and now) is PURE SPECULATION. There is NO EVIDENCE of life existing anywhere else but Earth. NO EVIDENCE (alien abduction victims to the contrary), we have no evidence (which is essential to good police work and science) of life existing anywhere but right here. That’s evident from the range of articles written and referenced below – that in the second and third decades of the 21st Century that there could  STILL logically be between “we’re all alone” to 42,777 intelligent civilizations to “numbers almost too large to imagine”.

It doesn't seem that we've progressed very far from Cisero, Plutarch, and the obstructionist Roman Catholic Church – we have no evidence PLUS theories and mathematical calculations whose solutions vary wildly from We Are Alone to a universe teeming with life eager to contact us if only…the most recent speculation I’ve heard is that communication between the members of the Inter Galactic Union of Intelligences and Humanity waits until a civilization can both detect and effectively control gravity waves the way they control the EM spectrum!

There was serious work done on generating gravity waves in 2012:; though it wasn’t until 2016 that we detected them:,detector%20in%20Italy%20have%20announced; and in April of 2022, astrophysicists discovered another way of detecting those waves:,detector%20in%20Italy%20have%20announced.

Speculation (there’s that word again!) is, now that we can generate and detect g-waves, maybe we can finally hear if there’s anyone chatting Out There! (

There seems to be a monumental gap between amorous teenagers and astrophysicists, but it's where we are right now. Until we get firmer evidence of aliens OUT THERE, (*sigh*), we’ll just have to be satisfied with the probability of intelligent aliens hovering somewhere between “we’re alone” and “too many to imagine”…

Source: (I did NOT watch it all as there were an inordinate number of “Ahsss…” in the first fifteen minutes…);; (Generic article without the math:; SERIOUS article WITH the math:

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

“Warranty Claim” • by Gustavo Bondoni


A shiny metal disc streaked through the sky before descending in front of Sergeant Murphy, a twenty-year veteran who just happened to be crossing the parking lot. 

As soon as he saw it, he buried his face in his hands. “Not these guys again.” He’d been on duty when these particular aliens had first come to Earth, and had been part of the initial talks.

The major he’d been walking alongside ran off, presumably to inform the upper brass of the visit. That would be unnecessary: every inch of Area 59 was filmed and wired for sound. Washington already knew what was happening.

The ship disgorged several blue-skinned aliens in silver spacesuits. 

“You are the one they call Murphy, correct?  The one we met the last time we were here?” the leader asked.


“This is broken.”

It held out a slim silver rectangle with the well-known company logo, a fruit, on it.

“It’s probably the battery,” Murphy said.

“Can it be changed?”

“No. They make them that way so you have to buy a new one.”

“No good. You need to fix this immediately. We’re in an argument about whether alien life forms can be Communist Nazis. We tried opening a new account, but the website refuses to acknowledge our ship’s operating system.”

“I can’t help.”

The leader sighed. “Do you want us to destroy your planet?”


“These are our demands”


“Silence! We demand you get the experts at this computer company to fix our laptop.”

“That could take a while.” After a moment’s thought, Murphy responded: “Will you at least let me work through the problem with IT support?”

“As long as you get it fixed.”

Murphy sighed in relief. That should  buy the Joint Chiefs of Staff time to get something done.




Gustavo Bondoni is novelist and short story writer with over three hundred stories published in fifteen countries, in seven languages.  He is a member of Codex and an Active Member of SFWA. His latest novel is Test Site Horror (2020). He has also published two other monster books: Ice Station: Death (2019) and Jungle Lab Terror (2020), three science fiction novels: Incursion (2017), Outside (2017) and Siege (2016) and an ebook novella entitled Branch. His short fiction is collected in Pale Reflection (2020), Off the Beaten Path (2019) Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011).
In 2019, Gustavo was awarded second place in the Jim Baen Memorial Contest and in 2018 he received a Judges Commendation (and second place) in The James White Award. He was also a 2019 finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest.
His website is at