A noder's group of science fiction fans, for the best in science fiction writing.

Our purpose is two-fold:

  • To encourage the best science fiction writing on e2; whether that be stories, film, book or television review or genre critique.
  • The collection of the best of the aforementioned writings on e2.

The e2scifi usgergroup has been granted the privilege of weblogging writeups using the "-ify!" commands, which will let the members of this group mark and gather the best science fiction writing on e2.

To join the group send Tem42 a friendly message.

If you are looking for help or advice about science fiction or the writing of science fiction, feel free to contact any user of the group; we can either help you or send you in the right direction for help.

Our Humble Weblog

Venerable members of this group:

sirspens, kthejoker, Jet-Poop, wordnerd, ReiToei, in10se, belgand, Uberbanana, TenMinJoe, JD$, Transitional Man, 256, GhettoAardvark, crewgrrl, Gorgonzola, Lucy-S, The Custodian$, ianah0, Kizor, redbaker, santo, Evil Catullus, Tem42@, Rancid_Pickle
This group of 24 members is led by sirspens

Picard: Sigma Indri, that's the star,
So, Data, please, how far? How far?

Data: Our ship can get there very fast
But still the trip will last and last
We'll have two days til we arrive
But can the Indrans there survive?

Picard: LaForge, please give us factor nine.

LaForge: But sir, the engines are offline!

Picard: Offline! But why? I want to go!
Please make it so, please make it so!

Riker: But sir, if Geordi says we can't,
We can't, we mustn't, and we shan't,
The danger here is far too great!

Picard: But surely we must not be late!

Troi: I'm sensing anger and great ire.

Computer: Alert! Alert! The ship's on fire!

Picard: The ship's on fire? How could this be?
Who lit the fire?

Riker: Not me.

Worf: Not me.

Picard: Computer, how long til we die?

Computer: Eight minutes left to say goodbye.

Data: May I suggest a course to take?
We could, I think, quite safely make
Extinguishers from tractor beams
And stop the fire, or so it seems...

LaForge: Hurray! Hurray! You've saved the day!
Again I say, Hurray! Hurray!

Picard: Mr. Data, thank you much.
You've saved our lives, our ship, and such.

Troi: We still must save the Indran planet --

Data: Which (by the way) is made of granite...

Picard: Enough, you android. Please desist.
We understand -- we get your gist.
But can we get our ship to go?
Please, make it so, PLEASE make it so.

LaForge: There's sabotage among the wires
And that's what started all the fires.

Riker: We have a saboteur? Oh, no!
We need to go! We need to go!

Troi: We must seek out the traitor spy
And lock him up and ask him why.

Worf: Ask him why? How sentimental.
I say give him problems dental.

Troi: Are any Romulan ships around?
Have scanners said that they've been found?
Or is it Borg or some new threat
We haven't even heard of yet?
I sense no malice in this crew.
Now what are we supposed to do?

Crusher: Captain, please, the Indrans need us.
They cry out, "Help us, clothe us, feed us!"
I can't just sit and let them die!
A doctor MUST attempt -- MUST try!

Picard: Doctor, please, we'll get there soon.

Crusher: They may be dead by Tuesday noon.

*COMMERCIAL BREAK, COMMERCIAL BREAK
HOW LONG WILL THESE DUMB ADS TAKE?*

Worf: The saboteur is in the brig.
He's very strong and very big.
I had my phaser set on stun --
A zzzip! A zzzap! Another one!
He would not budge, he would not fall,
He would not stun, no, not at all!
He changed into a stranger form
All soft and purple, round and warm.

Picard: Did you see this, Mr. Worf?
Did you see this creature morph?

Worf: I did, and then I beat him fairly.
Hit him on the jaw -- quite squarely.

Riker: My commendations, Klingon friend!
Our troubles now are at an end!

Crusher: Now let's get our ship to fly
And orbit yonder Indran sky!

Picard: LaForge, please tell me we can go...?

LaForge: Yes sir, we can.

Picard: Then make it so!

-- Author Unknown

Previously: 200620072008all E2 Quests

Saifaikuesuto: 00:00:00 January 1, 2009 to 14:52:32 February 1, 2009

So it's 1999 and there's this COBOL programmer who's worried about the Millennium Bug. Not only is he expected to fix it, but if he doesn't fix it, he gets the blame for all the COBOL that goes wrong. So he decides to cryogenically freeze himself for ten years - by which time there will hopefully be no COBOL at all!

Eventually he gets woken up. "This is the year 2009?" he asks. "No," say the bald, toga-wearing super-advanced super-human super-scientists who woke him. "There was a programming fault in your cryogenic chamber and it never unfroze you."

"So what year is it?"

"Well, it's actually the year 9999. You've been asleep for eight thousand years."

"But why did you wake me up now?"

"Well, we're worried about the Decamillennium Bug, and it says on your resume that you know COBOL?"

New! Unauthorised! Unlicenced! Entirely without the support of the Everything2 administration!

The big digit rollover should have been a clue. We are now living in the future - or at most five minutes behind it. It has never been easier to write science fiction. Just come up with a cool "WHAT IF?!" and run with it. You have no excuse. Pull out your pen and start typing.

MY STORIES.* LET ME TELL YOU THEM.

* For this quest we are accepting science fiction nodes, but also nodes about science fiction. For easy marks, write up a classic episode of Star Trek.

Rewards

Since this quest is currently completely off the books, unauthorised and officially not happening, there will be no rewards besides my benevolent countenance. Nodes I deem worthy will receive upvotes. Particularly shining examples, Ching!s. But God help the downvoted. Oh my. It would be better for those nodes if they had never been written.

This quest is now sponsored by mauler. Right now there are 30 submissions. That means each participant will receive 30 GP. Want more? Write more! The more everybody nodes, the more everybody gets! Recruit other people!

Entries

These are listed in reverse order, so the most recent nodes receive the most attention:

I staggered out of the whistling, vicious wind into the outpost's antechamber. Leaning heavily against the wall, I used my good arm to punch the button to cycle the lock. With a hydraulic hiss, the outer door closed behind me.

The intercom monitor by the door flickered to life. "Jackson?"

"Sure, it's me. Meet me in the infirmary, I'm injured." I gestured towards my bleeding arm. The monitor flicked off, and the inner door opened with a slight sigh of warm air. Nursing my arm, I made my way through to the unit's modest sickbay.

The doctor and the commander were already there. The commander, drawn and tense, leapt to his feet as soon as I arrived. "What happened, Jackson? Did you damage it? What does it look like?" The doctor gently pushed him aside to get a look at my injury. "Give him a second, Commander Burns, the man is hurt." He rolled back the sleeve to get a good look. "You've really sliced yourself up here, I'm surprised there isn't more blood." I smiled weakly back at him. "There was, Doc. Want me to go back out and fetch some of it?"

"Enough chit-chat," interrupted Commander Burns. "We've lost two men already. Jackson, what happened out there? I need to know what we're dealing with. Did you kill it?"

I sat down heavily in the only chair, and winced as the uncomfortable metal seat reminded me how bruised and battered I was. "I hurt it, Commander," I said. "I don't know that I killed it. I didn't stick around to take its pulse." He frowned. "What did it look like?" I paused to think. "I don't know, really. It was…humanoid, I suppose. But not human. The proportions were all wrong. It came at me from behind. I heard it, I turned and fired, it fell, and I ran. It was really just a shape in the snow, Commander, I'm sorry. You know what it's like out there on this wretched ball of ice."

The doctor caught the commander's expression, glared at him, and gave me an almost paternal pat on the shoulder. "We're just glad you're alright, Jackson, aren't we Commander?" Burns had drifted over to the computer console and was staring at it, deep in thought. "What's that? Oh, yes, of course. Listen, I've had an idea. The thermal imager – we use it to track the lava bursts all over the asteroid, right?"

"That's right," I agreed.

"Well," he replied, "If I change the parameters, I can set it to detect weaker heat sources." He jabbed at the keyboard inexpertly but carefully. "Weaker heat sources like us. And our friend out there, whatever it is."

The doctor frowned. "Not whatever it is. Jackson said it was humanoid, but that doesn't make it human. You've no idea what kind of body temperature it has, or if it has one at all."

Burns didn't really seem to be listening. "Human, humanoid, humanlike, whatever." His alterations finished, he punched the program onto the display. A map of the outpost appeared on the screen. The commander flashed a nervous grin. "You see?" He pointed at where the map showed the infirmary. "Three heat sources. Us. Now, let's see what's out there." He tapped a few more keys and the map flicked away, to be replaced with a larger area map, with the outpost in the centre. He sat and stared at the screen for several seconds in silence.

The doctor peered over his shoulder. "Nothing. You see? This is pointless, Commander, we know too little about what we're looking for. We're safe in here, anyway. All the attacks took place outdoors."

Burns was still staring at the screen. Again, I sensed that he'd hardly heard the doctor. Suddenly, without warning, the commander bolted for the door. We heard him race off through the compound. The doctor and I exchanged a surprised look, and set off after him. We arrived at the outpost's exit just in time to see him sealing the antechamber's inner door.

I hit the intercom button. The commander's image appeared on the screen next to the door and I could see him hastily putting on an environment suit. He looked panicked, crazed even. "What are you doing, Commander?" I demanded.

He looked up at the camera. "Don't you see? If it's not out there, it's in here. Must be some kind of... shapeshifter, I don't know. It's one of you. It's sure as hell not me, anyway, and I'm not sticking around to find out which one of you is going to tear my guts out. Don't try to follow me, I'm using the command override." He typed a passcode into the door panel and the red 'locked' indicator came on over our side of the door.

The doctor stepped up to the panel. "Commander... Jim... this is crazy. Shapeshifting monsters? You can't go out there, Jim, you can see the sun's gone down. You'll freeze in minutes, with or without your suit. Come back inside and we can talk about this."

Burns didn't even answer. There was a slight clunk as the outer door opened, and he vanished into the snow.

I pushed the door release, but nothing happened. "It's useless, you know," the doctor said. "We can't override his command codes. He'll die out there, there's nothing we can do."

We headed back to the infirmary to check the thermo-imaging program. The commander's heat spot was clearly visible. He was heading away from the compound, but the red smudge of his heat signature was already fading in the freezing asteroid night. Silently, we watched as the red turned to orange, the orange to yellow. Eventually he faded out altogether.

"Shapeshifting demons," muttered the doctor. "Silly old fool."

I looked at him. "When does the relief ship arrive, Doctor?" He was still lost in thought as he replied. "Two days from now, you know that." He sighed and turned away. "We can survive in here until then."

I didn't answer, because I was concentrating. With a sigh, I abandoned my disguise of the dead human Jackson, and reverted to my natural form. I lunged, and the doctor never saw what hit him.

I can wait two days.


A homage to the short stories I loved as a kid. More about this here.

The device first appeared in the classic Frank Herbert novel Dune. It was wielded by the hand of Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Her mission was to test the humanity of the son of Lady Jessica and Duke Leto Atreides.

Mohiam harbored resentment toward the Lady Jessica for allowing herself to become pregnant with a son by Leto, thus thwarting plans the Bene Gesserit had to develope the Qwisatz Haderach. The product of this union was a genetic wild card, and one which was outside the control of the Sisterhood. This resentment extended to the young heir of House Atreides, the son Paul.

The gom jabbar was a deadly poisoned needle which would be thrust into the subject, should they fail the test. The test itself involved a neural stimulator capable of exciting nerves via induction to create a pain stimulus. The response to pain is escape, a response normal and consistent to any animal. A human however would be capable of utilizing his own mind to overcome the stimulus. Failing to over ride the stimulus and seeking escape would result in the injection of poison, which would then result in the immediate death of the test subject. Mohiam, in her resentment and desire to punish Lady Jessica, almost pushed Paul over the brink. She pushed him beyond all limits previously set by every female subject, thereby conclusively proving his humanity.

Later along in the Dune saga, gom jabbar becomes a metaphor for a test with dire results, as well as an expression of veiled threat.

SciFiQuest 3008

American writer of fantasy and science-fiction, and rather prolific at that. His first trilogy, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, was compared to Tolkien (as, let's face it, every new fantasy writer seems to be... although the wording was rather odd. 'Comparable to Tolkien at his best...' said The Washington Post, without saying whether Donaldson was akin to Tolkien when Tolkien was at his best, or when Donaldson was; perhaps the ambiguity answers the question sufficiently anyway). The trilogy was Lord Foul's Bane, The Illearth War, and The Power that Preserves (all written in the late seventies, pretty much); the second Trilogy (called, unoriginally, The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: 'cos now he did believe) included The Wounded Land, The One Tree, and The Power the Preserves (early eighties). A thin volume, a missing chapter from The Illearth War, was published afterwards called Gilden Fire. It included some very dodgy line drawings and very big print. Reading it was rather like being shouted at.

The books on the whole were rather good, once you'd got used to the idea that Donaldson and Tolkien were similar insofar as they both wrote books: there, though, the simliarity ended. They concerned said Mr Covenant, a leper, transported to another world at unhelpful moments in his life. Whilst there his dead nerves are brought back to life, and he can feel again. He has half a hand (the rest having been consumed by his disease) and a white gold wedding ring - the former makes him a dead-ringer for an almost mythical leader in the Land (the rather prosaic name for the other world); the latter is, apparently, very rare stuff and allows the bearer to perform magic. Covenant is only able to do this, for reasons which I think only Dondaldson understands, at specific moments.

Lord Foul wants him to unleash this Wild Magic, because it will break the 'Arch of Time', thereby freeing Foul from the world on which he is held captive. Needless to say, Covenant does not. (Obviously there's much more to this - in the second trilogy, Covenant is as dead to feeling as he is in the real world - but this time has taken a young doctor, Linden Avery, into the world with him: she has her senses reawakened... it makes sense when you read it. But there's about 3,000 pages worth of text. If you're massively interested in the summary, there's one in the beginning of every book, sort of as a 'What has gone before' affair. Seems to me like a wry admission of the fact that his new readers don't want to have to go back and wade - and his old readers will probably have forgotten it all.)

All I really remember is that it was really rather vicious: there's a very nasty rape scene for example, in the first book. There are also some high class corny moments: a spell (or 'word') that stops people from passing certain points (like a booby-trap) is referred to as 'a word of warning'. Ho ho. That, and the High Lord (dead before the series starts) was called Kevin. Maybe Kevin is a slightly more grand sounding name in the US (he's American by the way), but, and I don't want to annoy people called Kevin, incidentally, it's not really up to the level of Gandalf or Thorin, or Legolas and co, is it? (Maybe Donaldson just wasn't at his best at this stage?)

Donaldson also wrote The Mirror of Her Dreams, and A Man Rides Through, called collectively Mordant's Need. Much, much better stuff. Hugely enjoyable - but which sank largely without a trace. He's also written two volumes of short stories: Daughter of Regals and another, fairly recently, Reave the Just and Other Tales.

After The Second Chronicles he wrote a huge science-fiction series called The Gap. I know absolutely nothing about it. Sorry.