For Queen and Country

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Scene from the 2017 film “Victoria & Abdul

The wedding loomed closer and all Tay could do was think of storm clouds. She did love Silas, after a fashion, but while their marriage would join their two Kingdoms into a formidable and wealthy Empire, Udristan to the east and Mutriuka and Kozanar to the south would likely become fearful. Previously, neither her beloved Sasmen or Silas’s nation of Crenia to the west were considered a threat, but this wedding and all of its implications could be interpreted as a prelude to war.

“A penny, Tay.”

She had been staring out her private tower’s western window at the city skyline and the farm lands beyond, and hadn’t noticed that her mother had come in.

Turning, she walked over to her, knelt, and kissed her hand in greeting. Then she rose and faced the Queen. “You would be short-changed, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, that again.” Her friendly demeanor instantly soured, and she adopted an expression of displeasure. “I’m only thinking of our people. This alliance will strengthen both of our nations. You know that.”

“And quite possibly plunge us into a bloody war, Mother.” She spun and walked to the window, and then turned back to her progenitor and the most powerful woman in their nation. “I’ve explained the dynamics of it again and again…”

“Yet you fail to convince me, little one.”

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The Last Exploit of the Escapist

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Progress spacecraft re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in a blazing trail of plasma, as seen from the International Space Station – © NASA

The Escapist initiated the landing sequence as the ship began its rapid descent into the stratosphere, his neurochemical link to the spacecraft’s control systems making this nearly reflexive.

“Welcome to my world, Jack. Glad you could join the party.”

The voice of the Beast crackled in his audio receptors sounding as if he were a game-show host speaking offscreen; his tone exuding an untoward friendliness and familiarity.

“I have the Amaryllis with me.”

“The actual item? I’m impressed. Whole armies have been slain, eviscerated by the Negative whose sole task was to guard it unto eternity.”

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Worlds: Stupid Sci-Fi Film Tricks, The Nuclear Option.

independence day

Poster from the 1996 film “Independence Day”

Periodically, I read fictional stories depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war as having devastating effects 500, 800, 1000 years or more afterward. But when I consult a credible source on the topic, recovery from such an event is considered relatively swift (months and years, not centuries). It is true that in the case of a “modest” nuclear war such as between India and Pakistan, nuclear winter (or significant cooling at any rate) would last years/decades, but afterward there would still be recovery.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying nuclear war is a good thing or that it shouldn’t be avoided, but it seems when a lot of folks consider the “unthinkable,” whether it’s nations using nuclear weapons or a person using a firearm in the commission of a crime, there’s a tendency to jump from zero to panic.

Huggins’ blog post reminded me of this, so I thought I’d do a reblog.

Oh, “Independence Day” is my favorite “Fourth of July” movie. Really, you can’t take it seriously. It’s just for fun.

G. Scott Huggins

A version of this post appeared earlier on my Patreon site, but I thought it was worth exploring here.

Let me introduce you to one of my pet peeves about SF movies in general, through that awesomely terrible film, Independence Day, a film that apparently existed for the sole purpose of trying to make Will Smith and Bill Pullman as President Lone Starr into badasses, if you kinda squint. Hard.

What was the funniest moment in Independence Day? Was it Will Smith’s “Welcome to Earth,” line? Brent Spiner’s performance as the clueless Area 51 boss? No, I suggest that it was the parts where humanity attempts to fight 15-mile diameter floating city-battleships with air-to-air missiles. It’s kind of a credit to the movie that when the shields go down and the missiles hit the targets that the response form the audience is a cheer rather than, “Wow, the humans scratched…

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I See You: An Alternate Ending

bridges-dickinson

Lloyd Bridges and Angie Dickinson in the 1970 made for TV movie “The Love War”.

Allan didn’t need the glasses to read and he didn’t even need them to survive, not anymore. He had written an app so that it accessed the camera on his phone, letting it perform the task of detecting his adversary automatically.

He took a seat in the back of the coffee shop where he had a clear view of everyone coming and going. He had ordered the establishment’s trademark latte more to blend in than because he liked it.

To the world around him, he looked like a middle-aged man, blond, athletic, bronzed from the sun. He could have just finished a game of tennis or golf.

In front of him was a mystery novel by a well-known author whose name was, as they say, a household word. And yet Allan couldn’t have told you any other books the writer had penned. Like the latte, it was camouflage. Even his name was misdirection and subterfuge.

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I See You

bridges1

Actor Lloyd Bridges in the 1970 television movie “The Love War”.

Allan didn’t need the glasses to read but he did need them to survive.

He took a seat in the back of the coffee shop where he had a clear view of everyone coming and going. He had ordered the establishment’s trademark latte more to blend in than because he liked it.

To the world around him, he looked like a middle-aged man, blond, athletic, bronzed from the sun. He could have just finished a game of tennis or golf.

In front of him was a mystery novel by a well-known author whose name was, as they say, a household word. And yet Allan couldn’t have told you any other books the writer had penned. Like the latte, it was camouflage. Even his name was misdirection and subterfuge.

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Z is for Zebra

z is for zebra

© James Pyles

Daniel put the yo-yo back in his pocket as he reached the fenced pasture. The only horse he knew by name was Champion. The ten year old pulled up some grass from his side of the fence and coaxed the horse over. Of course the three others started moving toward him as well.

“Just came to say good-bye, old boy.” He patted the horse on the nose. “I mean, now that you’re just a horse again and everything.”

Suddenly, Champion and the other horses started acting spooked and moved away from him.

“What the…”

“It’s probably me, Daniel.”

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The Ascent

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Photo: Tyson White/KTVB

He’d been climbing for hours. Fortunately, he’d trained for it. Seth Minstrel was the first to get this far. He could see the tops of the jagged peaks just above him.

“I’m going to make it. I’m going to be free.”

The air was hot and humid in the valley below, the valley Seth had lived in all his life. It was the valley where generations of his people had toiled as slaves to the ruling MacGregor clan. The people grew the food, and the MacGregor’s and their thugs took half. But without the MacGregors, water wouldn’t fall down the cliffs to the south, allowing their arid valley to produce and sustain life.

The MacGregors said they should be grateful.

“Yeah, right. Grateful. You MacGregor’s have freedom and steal our food, barely allowing my people enough to eat.”

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When the King of Israel Rules

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U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan (Credit: Reuters/Parwiz Parwiz) Reuters/Parwiz Parwiz

“We are all Israelis.” The phrase kept repeating itself in Steve’s head as he huddled in the makeshift bomb shelter in the basement of his house. He never thought this day would come. At least he sent Nancy and the kids away from the city to her uncle’s farm in Idaho. They’ll stay safer there.

He could hear the explosions getting closer. After the bombardment was over, the ground troops would move in. Steve still couldn’t believe that this great nation was being attacked by a country the size of a postage stamp. Where did they get that kind of power?

The enemy freely answered that question, but it was patently insane to Steve. It wasn’t that he wasn’t a believer. He had been a born again Christian most of his adult life. But he’d also been told that God was on the side of the Church and of America. How could things have gone so wrong?

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