Web Search nikon coolpix digital cameras The Miserable Annals of the Earth: Subject to review

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Subject to review

Okay. Tony Collett sent me a link to a place that actually pays for short stories. They're looking for a very specific kind of story -- something concerned with the near future, set on Earth, growing out of contemporary concerns. And the editor apparently really likes cyber punk.

I've written something for them, which I'm going to append under the jump. If my very small readership would look it over and tell me what you think, especially as what you may find wrong with it or what improvements you may feel it needs, I'd appreciate it.

It's a weird story, and I honestly have no idea what I think of it.

Also, I don't have a name for it as yet, so if anyone can suggest one, that would be great, too.

If I decide to submit this story, I will have to pull or at least edit this entry, as the editors do not want any stories submitted that have already been published elsewhere, so I won't want it out on the blog forever.


UPDATE: Below the jump is a slightly revised version of the story, including a working title. Any further comments are welcome.

By D.A. Madigan

Streaming video from heroesoftheunderground.com, 11/23/37:

VISUAL: Close up on Nikki Danger, dressed in gray synsilk. She looks tired, her eyes lined, her hair mussed. Her voice is scratchy. She’s sitting in a bleak, shabbily furnished room somewhere. There is a window behind her; the blinds are drawn. An old fashioned holo keyboard and holo-cube, drawn in lines of bright green light, are hovering in the air to the side of her, most likely over a data-pod, which must be out of sight beneath the cam-frame.

HOTU.COM: Cameron Crane here, with… FIVE QUESTIONS FOR NIKKI DANGER! First, Maz Danger, thnkz for taking the time…

DANGER: Hold on, let me… okay, I’ve got ten-four-five-by-five on the scramble from my end, our signal is totally jitterbugged. I have no idea where you’re calling me from.

HOTU.COM: No idea where you are, either, and no-way-Jose the Figs can break a Nikki Danger crypto. Wherev U R, though, it looks like the place should be condemned… noffense.

DANGER: Notake. This place should be condemned. So should nearly every place that people like U-n-me gotta live. It’s the way things are for 90% of the global pop right now… the 90% that isn’t rich. We live in slums that still need hardwires to get power, most of us working 60 hour weeks to pay the electricity bill so we can stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Why? Because we can’t afford antenna to pick up broadcast power… but that’s point five lies. We shouldn’t need antennas when a Power Cube the size of a vid player can produce enough zap for free to run an entire city block.

HOTU.COM: Power Cubes are dangerous, though, right? They can leak hard radiation… go critical while being assembled, like in the High Orbit Blowout of 2016… that’s why they only assemble ‘em in space, right? And only install ‘em in places like offshore islands, deserts, mountain tops… kak like that, right?

DANGER: Corpshit. The High Orbit Blowout of ’16 was faked by the Powers That Be… what did anyone really see? Big light in the sky. “Oh nooooo Mr. Bill a Power Cube blew up in orbit! They’re too DANGEROUSSSSS for youuuuuuu!” Fuggin’ kak.
Here’s the resta-the-story: PowerCubes are put together on assembly lines by slave labor in China, Unified Korea, and the UAR and shipped in the hundreds of thousands throughout the industrialized world. Every heavy duty Armored Assault Vehicle in the world has its own Power Cube in it, as does every aircraft and ocean liner. What do you think runs the satellites and the rocket sleds that service them? What do you think they use for power in the Moon bases? Every United Federal Shipping Service has a roomful of Power Cubes; they wouldn’t be able to transmat freight if they didn’t.

HOTU.COM: Huh. Yet all that skludge… military vehicles, United Federal Shipping Service, satellites, rocket sleds, Moon bases, aircraft, ocean liners… that’s all government, or things only rich people can afford. Maybe PowerCubes are just really expensive...?

DANGER: Kak and kak again. It’s like going from tape-n-vinyl to disc, back in Old Twenty. When the disc format came onto the market, it was priced 120% higher than the same content on any other recording format, although its manufacturing cost was only about 6% of tape or vinyl. Why? It was a more portable format, more easily accessed, and everyone wanted it. The media companies could charge more for the product, so they did. Cost had nothing to do with it, it was all about profits. Same thing with PowerCubes. They must be easy to make and the components must be inexpensive, otherwise, you wouldn’t have political prisoners and eco-slaves doing it. And they gotta be pretty safe to operate; the only major meltdown we’ve ever heard of never really happened.

HOTU. COM: Yeah, mebbe. But if they so safe why don’t every richie rich in America have one or two in their basement? They get their power broadcast. We could do that too if we had the money for the antenna…

DANGER: But if the powers that be sold Power Cubes on the open market at a fair price, everyone could buy them, and chances are, you’d only need to buy maybe half a dozen over the course of your life. What happens to Big Energy’s profits then? So they tell everyone Power Cubes are complex and dangerous and they require licenses to own and operate them and charge a fortune for them. So utilities get their power broadcast to them from offshore Cube installations and sell it to us over the wire, same as it always was. And richie rich buys a broadcast antenna, cuz it’s cheaper than getting a Cube license… but, again, Cubes perfectly safe, n cheap to make! Licensing is just a way for Powers That Be to keep their thumbs on us.

HOTU.COM: Huh. Interesting. Okay. There are a lot of rumors about your background out on the inters. Can you tell me anything truthful about where you came from?

DANGER: I was born in a Nola relocation camp… my parents got scooped early by Homeland Security and never came back again, so I got sent to a State home in Michigan. The Big Flash in ’17 knocked out the whole northwest power grid and fried nearly every bit of local data, so now nobody knows who my real parents were. Took my name from a comedy disc this one kid used to play over and over again at the home.

HOTU.COM: And you’re no friend to the Figs?

DANGER: Nobody who isn’t rich is a friend to the Figs… you know where that comes from, right? ‘Federal pigs’ – it’s obsolete. Goes back to a time when there were different kinds of security troopers… city, county, state. Now all we got are Homeland troops, but it wasn’t always that way.

HOTU.COM: Okay, last question. You’re credited with monkeywrenching several major Fig moves. There are Fig warrants out for you for eighteen different crimes, most of them data-related, but an impressive number actual real world violations. Is there an endgame, or are you content to just throw sand in the gears when you can?

DANGER: There’s an endgame. The Figs keep us down by controlling our access to energy. If we work hard for them and don’t give them atty, they keep us juiced… unless there’s a rolling brown out, of course, which they throw at us a few times a month to keep us scared. But they limit our access to real energy through bogus licensing laws for PowerCubes. The Figs don’t want people to have Cubes, because if we had Cubes, we’d have infinite energy, forever… and with infinite energy forever, you get all kinds of other chocolatey goodness… antigrav, transmute, force throwing, even tee-pop. Give every citizen their own Power Cube and we’d be free… really free… for the first time in human history.

HOTU.COM: Huh. So how do you give every citizen a Power Cube? Seems like they’re pretty well guarded.

DANGER: Sorrycharlie. Outta time.

Streaming in the air three inches above an open cellphone lying on the ground several feet away from the burning wreckage of a 2036 Hummer Alpha hovercraft:

VISUAL: A youngish man wearing fullview specs and the kind of halfie haircut popular in ’31 and early ’32 is speaking earnestly into cam. Only his head and shoulders are visible in the cubical view area. His voice is unprofessional, agitated:

“…cut off, after Westinghouse famously asked Tesla, ‘where do I put the meter?’ and Tesla just shrugged. Free power was discovered again in 1989 by the chemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann at the University of Utah, although said discovery was almost instantly discredited by a campaign of misinformation erroneously claiming that the effect could not be duplicated. In actuality, the Pons-Fleischmann apparatus was confiscated and a non-functional simulacrum was put in its place.

With the sweeping black outs of ’15 and ’16 spreading around the planet cutting disastrously into global production of every sort, the powers behind the powers finally admitted publicly to the existence of free, limitless energy… but claimed that the Power Cubes were too difficult to manufacture, and too hazardous to operate, to be allowed into private hands. Governments set up Power Cube stations on satellites, mountaintops, and in the middle of deserts and licensed existing public utility corporations to receive broadcast power from those Cubes through expensive antenna installations few private citizens could afford. The utilities resold the power over the wire to the vast majority of the people, and life went on much as it always had, with most citizens paying for the electricity they consumed on a month to month basis. Those who decide such things for all of the rest of us had indeed figured out where to put the meter…”

Graffiti written in glo-paint on the side of an abandoned former bakery in Wappingers Falls, NY:


United Nations Treaty Organization Missile Command Log Entry for 03232039, 04:23:36 hours:

Unidentified craft detected entering atmosphere in UNTO airspace at [coordinates classified]. No response to hails. Craft employing stealth technology which prevents full radar lock but does not prevent tracking. Hailing craft.

04:24:38 hours:

No response to hail. Repeating hail.

04:24:52 hours:

No response to hail. Repeating hail. Final warning.

04:25:22 hours:

No response to hail. Comm of Watch issues WEAPONS FREE, SPLASH INTRUDER order.

04:25:45 hours

T-ROC missile cluster fired at unidentified craft.

04:25:49 hours

UI craft taking evasive maneuvers.

04:26:06 hours

UI craft destroyed by T-ROC missile.

Footage from a Hydra-Co security hover-cam, specific location classified:

VISUAL: Two people, moving down a mountain road. They are moving single file; one is several paces behind the other, and has a gun in hand, pointed at the leader’s back. In the valley below, heavy grey oblongs rumble between, and sometimes over, primitive stone, mud, straw, and wattle buildings, many of which are in flames. Screams can be heard, distantly, like a thumb repeatedly rubbing against a glass beaker.

The lead figure is female, tall, slender, with short red hair, garbed in a singed Wetherproof outdoor coverall and PakPak memory foam boots. The trailing person, holding a gun on the lead female, is male, has blond hair expensively cut in a long bangs/short crop reverse mullet, heavyset, and has ice-eyes – mirror like ocular inserts that work like fullview glasses and that don’t require recharging, but are usually more uncomfortable. The gun in the male figure’s hand is a Taurus Magnetic, which holds 60 metal pellets capable of being accelerated through the gauss-turbine in the weapon’s base and driven at barely subsonic velocities down the short barrel. Its accuracy is fair out to ten meters and poor beyond that, but any living biological hit by it will generally fly to pieces.

Over each figure letters flicker, obviously the results of a visual data-search for meta-information. Superimposed over the male: JASON VAN der WITTEN, EXECUTIVE TRAINER/SENIOR FIELD ADJUSTER – HYDRA-CO. Over the female: NICHOLE DANGER (pseud?), ECO-GUERILLA/HYPERCORPS SABOTEUR. Scrawling along the bottom of the picture: EXACT LOCATION UNKNOWN, PROBABLY EAST/CENTRAL EUROPEAN MOUNTAIN PASS: 03/23/2039.

VAN der WITTEN: Amazing you even survived that crash, Nikki. I would not have thought, scanning the wreckage from a distance, anyone could come out of it alive.

DANGER: Well, don’t feel bad or anything. You did manage to kill Jerry.

VAN der WITTEN: Jerald Landers? The Canadian? I had no idea he was in the vehicle. Were you sleeping with him?

DANGER: Not when the missiles hit, no. Although, if I’d thought of it…probably would have been more fun than evasive maneuvers…

VAN der WITTEN: You will not make me angry, Nikki. You will not goad me into a foolish mistake.

DANGER: No, huh? Did you authorize this op?


DANGER: The dozen Velociraptors down in the valley smashing everything into rubble. Your idea?

VAN der WITTEN: Of course. After intercepting your teleconference, I –

DANGER: There’s no gold, Jay.

VAN der WITTEN: No gold…?

DANGER: Yuh huh. Also, all those screams? Fex. I had a girl in here a week ago warn all the natives. They’re all up another mountain hiding out in caves right now.

VAN der WITTEN: Fex?

DANGER: F.X., special effects, fugg, Jason, did you every study anything besides HyperCorps Rape & Pillage? The screaming is all sound effects. It’s fake. Udig?

VAN der WITTEN: Oh, I see. So I’m supposed to believe that this is all one of your famous jokes…? Very humorous, but, no, Nikki. Fool me once, shame on you. You will not fool me again.

DANGER: You are one sad silly little loogie, Jason. It’s not a joke. I figured you’d send in AAVs. You sent in AAVs. Now my people just need to knock one out long enough to grab its Power Cube.

VAN der WITTEN: That is… no. That is inconceivable.

DANGER: Heh. Don’t tempt me with PRINCESS BRIDE dialogue. Also, I’m about to escape you and leave you totally sutye.

Danger steps casually over towards the cliff edge of the road.

.VAN der WITTEN: Sut-yee?

DANGER: Shit Up To Your Eyebrows. Dumbass.

Danger takes another step towards the edge.

VAN der WITTEN: Stop it, Nikki. I remember you very well, and since we parted ways I have followed your exploits closely. You cannot possibly surprise me –

At this point, Danger steps off the sheer cliff side overlooking the mountain valley. From the security-cam’s POV, which is obviously hovering somewhat above the two, it can clearly be seen that she catches herself on an outjutting tree, swinging around it acrobatically. Van der Witten would not be able to see this from his POV on the road behind Danger.

VAN der WITTEN: Gott im himmel!!!

Van der Witten rushes over to the point Danger stepped off from. Danger’s legs, at full extension, swing up from below, one foot striking his wrist, the other the gun in his hand. The gun flies into the gorge. Danger’s legs scissor around Van der Witten’s neck. Danger twists on the branch like a gymnast doing a 180 on a parallel bar. There is an audible crackling sound, like a wooden branch snapping, and Van der Witten’s body is yanked off the road. Danger swings around the branch again, opening her legs. Van der Witten, his head visibly at an unnatural angle on his neck, follows his gun into the gorge.

Danger swings around the branch four more times before kipping upward at full extension and rolling back onto the roadway. She reaches into a pocket and takes out a cellphone.

DANGER: Connie… I know, I know, very late, yeah… okay, listen, Jerry’s dead… yeah, sux, I know, but I don’t have time for it now. Look, I can hack the security grid from here now that I have a couple of minutes… vector everybody else into the village proper…try to get everyone set up with a good shot on an AAV for when the force fields go down. Uh huh. Okay, see you down there.

Danger disconnects, then thumbs a code in on her cell phone.

In a burst of static, the security footage goes blank.

From Jason Van der Witten [jvanderwitten@univnewdelta.psychdept.net]
to N.D. [brouhahahahahaha@qmail.com],
date Tue, Apr 25, 2026 at 2:12 PM
subject My LAST Word
mailed-by univnewdelta.mail.com


All right I get that you are thinking you are done with this and surprise surprise now you have me in agreement with you. I will say for the final time the Claire thing had nothing to do with you or with us. My relationship with Claire was a completely separate matter and I never allowed it to in any way have any effect on your life or my feelings for you. I am very sorry that you were hurt finding out about it but I have to say one more time I never intended you to discover it and I took every possible precaution. What happened was completely out of my control and I think you should give me some credit for that. However you are clearly going to be unreasonable continually so we are better off moving ahead.

I will say again that you are not the only one hurt by your decision in this. I have feelings too and I did truly have feelings for you and you are being extremely unfair in not taking my concerns or needs or desires into any consideration in any decisionmaking you have about us. But you were always trying to be inappropriately controlling in all the time we have been together and you know this has been an issue for us. I have tried and tried to compromise with you and in the end this is what I receive. Fine. But you need to understand that in life things go in circles and we will come around again and when we are once more together then it will be my turn to treat you as badly as you are now treating me. Karma is a real thing and someday I will be in a position to make you crawl. And I will, Nikki, believe me when I say, I will.


Transcript of a scrambled teleconference held by Extremely Low Frequency transmission on 1/12/39:

Voice 1: Gold?

Voice 2: Six hundred tons of the shit. Nazis stashed it in a huge subterranean pocket under a mountain village named Kroos back in 1943.

Voice 1: Okay. Nazi gold. Ripleys, but, whatever... But commerce is all virtual now. It’s all labor-credits and energy-credits and kak. Why…?

Voice 3: Gold is one of the best engineering metals in the world. Very ductile, fantastic conductivity. Absolutely terrific for electronics. And we’re not mining much of it any more. 600 tons in one place is an attention getter for anyone who does manufacturing, engineering…

Voice 4: …and that’s another thing. With no gold standard any more, it’s hard to say how much 600 tons of gold is worth. That much coming on the market at once… It would have depressed the price for months in the old days. Now, though… a couple of billion? I don’t know.

Voice 1: Oh-KAY. So… where did we get this from?

Voice 2: United Nations geological survey team doing deep resonance scans in the Balkans for oil pockets. Only the lead surveyor saw the analysis showing the presence of the gold… refined gold. He brought it to us for a finder’s fee. It’s never been anywhere but on the disc he gave us… hold on… okay, I’m emailing you all a coded version.

Voice 3: All right. Let’s break to look it over and we’ll all hook up again at six tonight PST.

TRANSCRIPT of COCKPIT RECORDER, final two minutes, 2026 Hummer Alpha model hovercraft registration number NZ333389QR45012D (masked in flight), digitally date stamped 03-23-2039:

VOICE 1: Are they all out?

VOICE 2: That’s the last of them – and there’s the last chute. We take the high road, they take the low road…

VOICE 1: I wish we were goin’ to Dublin. There’s this nice little pub…

VOICE 2: Hey, have you seen this pod-cast I’m working on about free energy? It’s nearly ready to upload. I like this part…

VOICE 1: Yeah, you’ve shown me some of it… that bit about figuring out where to put the meter is brilliant. Hey, your phone isn’t broadcasting right now…?

VOICE 2: I’m not that big an idiot. Here, we’re coming up on that part you like…

[VOICE ON RADIO A] Unidentified aircraft, this is United Nations Treaty Organization Missile Command. You are not authorized, repeat, you are not authorized for your entry vector. Please respond immediately.

VOICE 1: Goddamit, Jerry, I thought this thing had stealth capacity.

VOICE 2: The package is 8 months old… fucking UNTO must have upgraded.

VOICE 1: Maybe they won’t shoot. She sounds kind of conflicted.

VOICE 2: Nikki, you know better than that. You plan for what the enemy can do, not what they will do...

[VOICE ON RADIO B] Guten tag, Nikki. You seem to have your cell phone turned off, so I am breaking into this radio signal. This is Jason. I am sure you remember me. You can thank me, or, rather, Hydra-Co, for the excellence of the local missile command’s detection systems. We also provided them recently with some new T-ROC hunter missiles. I told you one day I would pay you back, my dearest.

VOICE 2: Oh you’re kidding. One of your ex boyfriends wants to get closure NOW?

VOICE 1: Heh. He’s going to be WAY pissy when he figures out how badly we’ve suckered him this time. Wish I could see his face. Okay, evasive maneuvers…!

[VOICE ON RADIO A] Unidentified aircraft, this is United Nations Treaty Organization Missile Command. This is your last warning. You are unauthorized and if you do not respond immediately I am going to blow you out of the fucking sky. PLEASE RESPOND GODDAMIT.

VOICE 2: On the other hand… hunter missiles? Your ex seems to be severely overcompensating for something…

VOICE 1: He had a lot to overcompensate for. Shit. I’m showing missile launch. I don’t see missile lock, though…

VOICE 2: No lock, the stealth package was worth that much… but damn she’s a good shot! You’d better spin this baby…

VOICE 1: Going evasive –

NOTE: Voiceprint identification 96% certain VOICE 1 = Nichole Danger, U.S. national, 99.7% certain VOICE 2 = Jerald Thomas Landers, Canadian national. 100% certain VOICE ON RADIO A = UNTO Missile Command Tech Commander Echelle St. Zell. 98.4% certain VOICE ON RADIO B = [classified]

Overheard on a Baltimore go-ball court, 07/12/35:

SPEAKER 1: So, you think Nikki Danger could hack Homeland Security’s mainframe?

SPEAKER 2: Bitchpleez. Like, with her tongue stud, I’msher.

Pirate video burst-transmitted globally on 4/27/39:

VISUAL: Image is fuzzy, interrupted with static bars, but some kind of sophisticated vehicle control board is still very discernible.

VOICE 1: Sorry for the poor visual, I’m using my cam phone and this thing’s has a pretty good built-in anti-elint field... okay. This is Nikki Danger and you’re looking at the controls to a Velociraptor 5500 Armored Assault Vehicle, built to military specifications on contract to the United Nations Security Department by the General Defense Products Company, a fully owned subsidiary of Hydra-Co. A group of undie guerillas has just liberated it and I am uploading this to be re-transmitted simultaneously across every comm-sat in orbit around Earth in… what… a few hours…?

VOICE 2: More like a few days. We need to get to a good dish so I can hack the arrays.

VOICE 1: Okay, a few days, then… all right. Now let me spin the cam around here and… Rina, can you open that hatch… that’s great…

VISUAL: Image blurs for a moment as the cam is moved, then steadies again on a green metal cube roughly one foot on a side, installed inside a metal cabinet, with heavy cables running out of it into the sides of the cabin. A very dark skinned woman with a shaved head is holding a hatch open so the cube can be seen.

VOICE 1: That, for you folks at home who have never even seen a picture of one before, is a Power Cube. It’s not radioactive or in any way hazardous to anyone’s health. Every military vehicle, as well as the few private air and seacraft left in the world have at least one installed in it. Why? Because the antennae that receive broadcast power can only soak up so much in one location at one time, and things like force field projection, or anti gravity, or matter transmutation, or even teleportation, take huge amounts of energy. And all those things have military applications, or are important to long distance transportation. Broadcast power won’t get it done.

VOICE 3: Speaking of which, I just figured out how to engage the anti-grav drive… hm… and the forcefield will keep enough oxygen in so we could do a transorbital if we needed to. We can’t stay outside the atmosphere more than… hem… six minutes, tops… but that would be twice as much time as we’d need.

VOICE 1: Great! Okay, you folks at home heard the man. Power Cubes are VERY heavily guarded; the last thing the powers that be want is for us po’ folks to get our hands on one, and getting access to THIS one has cost several lives so far… but now we’ve got one, and we’re bringin’ it home. So stay tuned, peeps. Within a year at most, we should be able to mass produce Power Cubes for everyone who wants one… and when we can, check your back doorz, cuz one of these days there’ll be one sitting on your stoop.

VOICE 3: Everybody hold on to something. This could be a bumpy ride…

Excerpt from transcript of U.S./UN Congressional/Security Council Sub-Committee on Energy and InterNational Security secret hearing, 4/16/39 classification level Ultra-Horus Zeta:

SENATOR RAMSHACKLE: So this Danger woman basically conned you.

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: It could seem that way.

REPRESENTATIVE LOGG: Seem that way…? She deliberately let you overhear a teleconference talking about 600 tons of Nazi gold that didn’t exist, in hopes that you’d put military assets in a Central European mountain valley where her team could jack a Power Cube, and you put military assets in a Central European mountain valley where her team could jack a Power Cube. How is that not the Danger woman conning you?

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Her plan was unsuccessful. Her team did not…


JASON VAN DER WITTEN: No, sir, she underestimated me. As can be seen in the actual camera footage I have submitted to this subcommittee.

DELEGATE ANSEUER: Wait. You mean where she does the gymnastic routine around the tree limb and kicks you in the…

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: No, ma’am, those graphics were synthesized by sophisticated computer program. They were, as Nikki herself would say, ‘fex’. That is not what actually happened.

SENATOR RAMSHACKLE: So you mean the footage where you shot her.

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Yes. That is what truly occurred. She took a sudden step towards the edge of the cliff, and knowing how dangerous she was, I shot her twice.

REPRESENTATIVE LOGG: Right, all right, I remember watching that. You shot her…


JASON VAN DER WITTEN: I was on the German fencing team the year she won the gold medal for the United States, sir. The same year she took a silver in gymnastics and martial arts. Yes, I shot her in the back. Twice.

REPRESENTATIVE WAGGONER: And then she went over the cliff…?


DELEGATE ANSEUER: And to date her body has still not been recovered…?

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Six hundred feet to the valley floor from the point she went over, ma’am. With two bullets in her back. Much of the loose snow at that altitude is thirty, forty meters deep. We may never find her body, but, still…

SENATOR RAMSHACKLE: All right. Never mind. So, you’ve faked the footage where she breaks your neck, and this other thing… where she’s talking about capturing a Power Cube and mass producing it…

REPRESENTATIVE LOGG: I don’t understand it at all. This whole plan. Go over it again. If you release these videos, won’t this make people expect things to change? Get them all riled up? We don’t want them riled up, there’s an election next year…

REPRESENTATIVE WAGGONER: Short term impact of the fake videos will be good. It’ll keep people quiet. But in a year or so when nobody gets any Power Cubes, there’s going to be hell to pay.

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: No, sir. There will be Power Cubes. We’ll leak the videos onto the Internet. Everyone will think Nikki Danger stole a Power Cube and is off somewhere manufacturing more of them for her beloved ‘peepz’. In about ten months, we’ll send a thousand or so ‘home made’ Power Cubes off to various citizens…


JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Not so much. People on the public dole… the permanently disabled, the chronically unemployed… people no one will miss. But people Nikki would have naturally sent the first Cubes to.

SENATOR RAMSHACKLE: The woman was crazy. Pure-d squirrels in the attic hella-bad bold face 24 point font crazy. But all right, as long as productivity won’t be impaired.

REPRESENTATIVE LOGG: I still don’t understand. If a thousand U.S. citizens get Power Cubes… even disabled people, slackers, losers, whatever… I mean, if even one of them has any kind of mechanical aptitude, or access to any kind of decent workshop, they could take it apart themselves. Learn the schematics. It’s lunacy…

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: These Power Cubes won’t work right, ma’am. I mean, they’ll generate power, but they’ll leak hard radiation pretty badly. They’ll need frequent recharging. And a few of them will eventually go critical when recharged.

REPRESENTATIVE WAGGONER: I assume those locations will be selected very carefully, son.

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Oh, yes, sir. Nothing that will seriously hurt U.S. productivity. And nowhere near any significant populations or landmarks.

SENATOR RAMSHACKLE: So you’ll end up killing… what… do you have casualty estimates?

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Total – from overload explosions and radiation leaks… no more than a few thousand.


JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Between two and three.

SENATOR RAMSHACKLE: And then… nobody ever trusts Nikki Danger or anyone else in the 'underground' again.

REPRESENTATIVE LOGG: Or wants to have anything to do with a personally owned Power Cube.

DELEGATE ANSEUER: Jesus Christ. That’s…

SENATOR RAMSHACKLE: That’s brilliant, son. Brilliant. This government owes you a huge debt of thanks.

JASON VAN DER WITTEN: Thank you very much, sir.

United Nations Geological Survey, Grid 109.442.21, DAILY REPORT 03/23/39:

Nothing notable in terms of geological deposits.

Discovered human female suffering gunshot, fall trauma, minor frostbite.

Administered first aid.

Subsequent discussions with female contraindicate filing this report electronically.

More to come.


At 11:27 PM , Anonymous Tony Collett said...

Good story. I read it all the way through.
My thoughts: -Change the next to last scene with Jason and the government representatives from a transcript to actual story format, put something in the end of the scene to the effect that an electronic transcript will go to the President or similar level of higher ups, eyes only, to disappear after read, cannot be recovered.
-Try to see if you can apply the futurespeak (thnkz, noffense, notake) at the beginning more throughout the story. It just looked liked token placement at the start.
-Also at the beginning, maybe expand slave labor in just three countries to more worldwide, also add prison labor, or something to indicate explotation of third world countries?
-Plus when Danger is talking about the high price attached to CDs and DVDs connected with power cubes, maybe add something about the implied premium the consumer would attach to higher technology? Maybe change CD and DVD to "discs" to include Blu Ray and other future technologies that crop up between now and then? Maybe she could make a remark about how ironic it is energy is traded to the general populace intangibly with something tangible available and better, when it didn't take with entertainment (aside: that's why I don't think downloading will be the way to go in the immediate future for entertainment unless the companies can guarantee their product offered in the case of computer crashes, etc. Plus, I think people like to have an actual physical product they can hold rather than something they can get with a few mouse clicks)
-When Danger is talking about the satellites and rocket sleds being run by power cubes instead of broadcast energy, maybe she could make a joke about how you don't see a big antenna sticking out of those vehicles. Also, maybe change her line "Nobody who isn’t rich is a friend to the Figs… you know where that comes from, right? ‘Federal pigs’ – it’s obsolete" to something along the lines of "Did you know...etc, etc" Maybe portray Danger as less flippant when she is in a broadcast, and was told that her message would go over better if she would lighten up a little bit.
-As for the reluctance of the public to make and use power cubes, how about adding an incident before the story that would be referred to as something that keeps people from doing it instead of general technophobia? Much like Edison did to discredit Tesla by associating executions with his type of electricity (although it was more like Edison's) or something like what they are doing at the end of the story that they did before, but have to do again to remind the rubble not to use power cubes, but use their electricity (and keep the money and power going).
That's what I had. Hope that helps.

At 11:29 PM , Anonymous Tony Collett said...

Almost forgot: suggested story title: e-Junkies (e for energy)

At 9:17 PM , Blogger Doc Nebula said...


Thanks for the in depth feedback. I'm going to wait and see if anyone else adds anything once we get past the weekend (few people seem to read blogs on the weekend, I've found) before I really respond at length.

At 9:24 AM , Blogger Doc Nebula said...


Point by point:

- The central conceit of this story is that it's a modern day, high tech version of the classic epistolary tale. Where usually these stories are told in the form of correspondence between two or more parties, I wanted to tell this one entirely without the usual form of first, second, or third person narrative, where ALL information in the story is conveyed by some high tech communications/recording media. So I can't suddenly break out into 'actual story format' without puncturing the entire balloon.

- More futurespeak... yeah, but it's a fine line. Whenever you throw that in you have to make sure the meaning is clear from context. Otherwise, you're failing at the artist's first task... communication. I'll look for more opportunities to jazz it up a little, though.

- more slave labor? maybe... I'm not sure the narrative needs it. I'll think about it.

- CD and DVD to discs... maybe. (Aside: I think people will be perfectly happy to download entertainment, as long as they feel they are getting a permanent copy. Yes, they want something they can hold in their hand, but it doesn't have to be a tape or a disc. An Ipod will work just fine.)

- Nikki has little enough personality as it is; I'm not wild about the idea of getting rid of the tiny amount I've managed to give her.

- Maybe. May be some reference to the 'Orbital Cube Explosion of 2015' or some such... not a bady notion.

Thanks for the help.

At 10:37 AM , Blogger Nate said...

Uh, no see story.

At 11:46 AM , Blogger SuperWife said...

What he said...

At 11:51 AM , Blogger Doc Nebula said...

Okay, it's back up. Thanks for any feedback you may have to give.

At 4:46 PM , Anonymous Tony Collett said...

Thanks for your responses to my critique. To respond:
First point: I don't know if you can edit your comments, but you might want to add the [condenscending] [/condenscending] to the front and back of it, like I added the code [nonhostile casual] to this response.
Yes, I understood the storytelling form you were attempting. However, I don't see how changing the narrative of the next to last scene would destroy the flow. The scenes leading to the penultimate scene can be in the form you had, the scene in question can change narrative in the context of the officials reviewing that information and formulating a plan, and the last scene can go as the other scenes before that without being jarring.
-Second point: futurespeak is a fine line. I would say a line between frak and felgercarb. It just seemed I only saw it at the beginning and it seemed more like token placement was all I was saying.
-Third point: I was merely pointing out additional, cheaper sources of labor that I saw that could be extrapolated from the way history has been going. If anything, it has shown us that cheaper is the way to go. All we need for it to take place is some conservative "tough on crime" politicians to push it though, and if it saves a buck or two, so much the better.
-Fourth point: we can argue next-gen (HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray) vs. downloads all we want, my only point is the given the time between now and when the story takes place, putting in CDs and DVDs might be disconcerting, and was suggesting alternatives (with some personal soapboxing that was based on the form of delivering entertainment to the public that prevails isn't necessarily the best one. Again, examples in the past, extrapolating from that)
-Fifth point: I'm not taking anything away from Nikki's character, I'm suggesting adding something to her character in the interview scene, and more than the "Spider-man cracking jokes to hide his fear" personality template. A little "mike fright" for lack of a better term could be an additional touch that adds something to her personality.
-Sixth point: there is no sixth point.

Your story is good and it made me think. You just might have something here.

At 5:11 PM , Blogger Doc Nebula said...


I'm sorry you found my response to your feedback condescending. In future, I'll do everything I can to avoid offending you further.

At 6:01 PM , Anonymous Tony Collett said...

[[I'm sorry you found my response to your feedback condescending. In future, I'll do everything I can to avoid offending you further.]]

You didn't, it was just that one comment that sounded that way.
You don't have to worry about changing your ways, I know we're going to disagree on a lot of things.
Okay, I just read my post, and I didn't make it clearer it was in reference to your first response. Noffense ^_^.
Seriously, don't change, because if you start agreeing with me more, I'm going to say (like I say to dawife sometimes) "Who are you, and what have you done with the real (Darren)"
Also seriously, it's a good story as is, hope it gets picked. If it doesn't, it's good to be shipped to other markets. I just wish there were better markets to ship to.
And the day I'm having now, if you wanna be mad at me (I know you're not, but just in case) take a number and get in line.

At 2:50 PM , Blogger Nate said...

Most of the 'data feeds' the reader sees are of the 'not for public consumption', or at any rate, not mainstream media types.

It might be useful to see a government sanctioned version of some of these events. Other than that, I can't think of anything to say but I like it.


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