Tightbeam #268, November 2013… (appearances)

My science fiction story, The Starship Hanoi, is in the current issue of Tightbeam.  Tightbeam is the official zine of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F), an organization created in 1941 with a very large audience in SF fandom (it’s also a club with dues); Tightbeam has been around since 1960, and has a pretty healthy circulation at numerous SF/F conventions.  They have fiction, non-fiction, book reviews (all mostly unsolicited), and con reports between their pages.  My story is about The Vietnamese Life Cycle and what inertia will bring to an Asian colony (and culture) in the far future.  It’s a story of the burdens of technology and progress, really.  Links to free download and N3F website below (also in print).  Issue #268, edited by David Speakman.

TIGHTBEAM #268

***November 2013***

Official Zine of the National Fantasy Fan Federation

TightbeamJPG

The National Fantasy Fan Website (est. 1941):

http://www.N3F.org

Tightbeam (est. 1960, free download):

http://n3f.org/2013/10/tightbeam-268/

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Amazon Kindle: “New eBooks by Lawrence Dagstine…”

Well, after a year in the making, the six-novellas project comes to a close.  Six brand new releases for Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, Sony eReader (via Smashwords), Apple iPad (Smashwords), Smashwords.com, and I’m sure over the next few weeks a couple of more.  I have a wide range of science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate history, satire and suspense titles available (including the almost-40,000 word A CHILD WEEPS IN MOSCOW), some inspired by authors like George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut to Stephen King and Ray Bradbury.  Quality fiction with characters and plots that boldly go where no other (at least I hope) author has ventured before.  I’d like to take this time to thank my cover artist Bob Veon, and fellow editor Edith Marlowe.  With that said, these titles below are only 99 cents to $2.99 each, worth the price, and a welcome addition to any eReader.  Just click on the buttons beneath the covers to access the ordering page for your favorite reading device.  Or go and visit my eBooks & Kindle page (up on top).  Most of all, happy reading!

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How Jones Goes by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “How Jones Goes”

Price: SCIENCE FICTION (FREE on Smashwords)

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In the late 21st century, overpopulation is a problem.  There’s also the problem with mental health.  In one particularly unusual asylum, there is Dr. Born (psychiatric intern) and Dr. Bloch (sexologist).  And then there’s Jones.  You have not met anyone like Jones.  You see, it’s not every day that patients claim they are from Mars.  And it’s not every day they come and go as they please.  A science fiction story filled with loads of satire (and lots of oddities that will make you shake your head) by speculative fiction author, Lawrence Dagstine.

A Child Weeps in Moscow by Lawrence Dagstine

A Child Weeps in Moscow by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “A Child Weeps in Moscow”

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Alien possession meets alternate history, in this communist tale set in 1923 Russia, about a boy named Abraham (Abe), whose parents suddenly disappear one day.  Like many of the adults throughout Russia, they are being taken away in the night by a special police force put together by Lenin’s “new” government, a government put together after the arrival of spacecrafts with biomechanoid origins and higher intelligence and influence.  Aliens the citizens simply call, The Invaders!

Klara Izolyev, Abe’s teacher, tells the boy that the only way he can learn the truth about the Invaders is to go to Moscow.  There he will learn what they really want on Earth, what role they play in the current socialist movement, and possibly find his missing parents and sister.  There he will fight starvation, arrest, combat homelessness, and meet an even more influential figure.  Arkady, the leader of a Moscow street gang, whose parents have also been taken away.  Together they will all journey to find the people they once loved, discovering just why the aliens are so interested in helping Lenin.

The Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “The Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean”

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Mercer Hollingsworth is not your typical pirate; he’s more a buccaneer of the freelance sort, with a bit of the old hero in him.  No job is too big for his merry crew, so long as it helps bring down the Great Armada and plenty of booty is involved.  But when he brings his own wench aboard, members of the crew start disappearing.  Who is this mysterious young woman? Why does she sing so much? Why is Mercer still alive? When they find themselves stranded on an island in the Caribbean, blood and death will go hand in hand, as the wench reveals her true form and purpose in this speculative pirate story.

“The Paraplegic” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “The Paraplegic”

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“Doc, I’m telling you.  I just woke up in a hole in broad daylight.  No memory!”

When Herbert was told he had amnesia, he knew things were bad.  When he couldn’t feel anything below the waist, he got scared.  When the doctor told him he’d be paralyzed for life, he got depressed and wanted to die.  After all, no one wants to be a paraplegic.  But what made him crippled so suddenly? Did somebody do this to him? And if so, why? Now in the hospital, undergoing intensive surgery, little does Herbert know that the force responsible isn’t done with him, not by a long shot! Something’s coming back.  There’s a little unfinished business to take care of, and it comes in the form of vampires.

“Family Reunion” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “Family Reunion”

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When Kendra was a teenager, she got raped and knocked up more than once.  When she finally found the courage to run away with the children, she went back to school, got a job, and set up a nice life for herself far away.  The children are now eight, and Howard has come ‘home’ for what he feels belongs to him.  He swears he’s a changed man, he wants to get married and be a dad.  Even if it kills! He wants this reunion to be one that Kendra and the kids will never forget… should they live to tell about it.

"The King of Trumpeters" by Lawrence Dagstine

“The King of Trumpeters” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “The King of Trumpeters”

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Salamand (Sal) was a slippery donkey, and a troublesome one.  Escaping one bad owner, only to find himself in the hands of another.  But after being sold to a nice couple, he swore he’d finally escape and start the perfect coup.  The one that would help all donkeys take over Jerusalem and the human race.  The plan might work, as humans are stupid creatures; might even give Salamand the edge he needs.  After all, what could possibly go wrong in a parody?

"Overcast" by Lawrence Dagstine

“Overcast” by Lawrence Dagstine

Story Name: “Overcast”

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It’s not every day that a 1920’s flying ace risks his life to bring a plane down safely for a little girl.  But when a horribly disfigured Sal and Lillian land in the remote, snowy mountains of Montana, a friendship will occur, a bond like no other.  As the winds blow and the snow accumulates, the pilot will do everything in his power to get this child down harsh ravines and rocky slopes.  Through darkness and despair they will do whatever it takes to stay alive.  A bittersweet story of survival, with an emphasis on the importance of not giving up and working together, no matter what age group you are.

Moscow Novella

Or purchase the NEW 150-page print version of Child Weeps in Moscow for $5.95.

BuyNow

Other New Entries: “New Releases, eBooks & Kindle”

If you can’t find a Dagstine story on a particular reader or android device, just get to me at Facebook or Twitter.  Every few weeks I will be ironing out formatting issues, adding on stuff, and working out other kinks.  Family Reunion and King of Trumpeters will also be available in print sometime in March or April.

Coming Soon: “A Child Weeps in Moscow” by Lawrence Dagstine

COMING SPRING-SUMMER 2013

to Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Sony eReader, Kobo…

Coming to e-Dagstine.com Download Center, coming to eBooks & Kindle (and as a chapbook).

In the vein of George Orwell’s 1984

“A CHILD WEEPS IN MOSCOW”

A Novella by Lawrence Dagstine

ChildWeepsMoscow

Alien possession meets alternate history, in this communist tale set in 1923 Russia, about a boy named Abraham (Abe), whose parents suddenly disappear one day.  Like many of the adults throughout Russia, they are being taken away in the night by a special police force put together by Lenin’s “new” government, a government put together after the arrival of spacecrafts with biomechanoid origins and higher intelligence and influence.  Aliens the citizens simply call, The Invaders!

Klara Izolyev, Abe’s teacher, tells the boy that the only way he can learn the truth about the Invaders is to go to Moscow.  There he will learn what they really want on Earth, what role they play in the current socialist movement, and possibly find his missing parents and sister.  There he will fight starvation, arrest, combat homelessness, and meet an even more influential figure.  Arkady, the leader of a Moscow street gang, whose parents have also been taken away.  Together they will all journey to find the people they once loved, discovering just why the aliens are so interested in helping Lenin.

Official soundtrack for… Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean (teasers):

Also coming in 2013, and a MUST READ!

For fans of Weird Tales & Pirate Fiction

“THE MYSTERIOUS LADY OF THE CARIBBEAN”

A Novelette by Lawrence Dagstine

MysteriousLadyoftheCaribbean

Coming Soon to: New Releases, eBooks & Kindle

Artist Spotlight: “Interview with Cover Artist-Illustrator Bob Veon…”

If you draw or write in the genre communities, if you are affiliated with comic books and illustration in any shape or form, if you know who Alex McVey, Vincent Chong, and Daniela Siera is, then you probably know who Bob Veon is.  If not, you are missing out on the next big thing in horror and scifi illustration, Ebook and print cover art, as well as mind-blowing graphic design.  Like McVey, Chong and Siera, Bob Veon is currently breaking into the big time.  2012 seems to be his year, and things are only looking up for 2013.  Here is a small press artist that turns your visions into beautiful—or scary, if that’s how you like it—prints.  A man who can turn a canvas or book cover into the next museum masterpiece, or who can bring ideas to the table that probably no other artist of his caliber can.  This freelance master of pencils, ink, paint and Photoshop is also available for hire.  Let it be said that there is nothing this man can’t do.  He is the next award-winning genre artist.  It is not only an honor and a privilege to obtain his services for my own fiction work, but to interview him this very day.  See what inspires him and makes him tick.  You will also see some of his favorite art samples and be able to contact him at the end of the interview should you desire his services.  And now, on with the Q and A…

Robert Veon (a.k.a. Bob) hard at work

Lawrence: Bob, I’m glad you could be here today.  Let’s start from the beginning.  Where did you grow up and go to school?

Bob:  Thanks for having me here!  I grew up in East Palestine, Ohio, and went to high school there.  After, I went to Pittsburgh Technical Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I studied Multimedia and Graphic Design.

Lawrence: What was your childhood like?

Bob:  Probably pretty much the same as any other kid growing up in the 80’s/90’s.  I was always interested in horror movies and books from a very early age and anything else creepy and strange.  I liked to play video games and draw, read comic books.  Pretty typical stuff.

Bob Veon  — pencil, ink, canvas, computer art, etc.

Lawrence: How did you first get into drawing?

Bob:  I liked to draw pretty early on in life.  Ever since I was able to pick up a crayon, I think I’ve been drawing since!  I always liked to come up with strange creatures and places that were different from what you saw in life.  When I was a kid I was always fascinated with drawing skulls and skeletons (no shocker that I still have that fascination).  I remember a tornado going over the apartments we lived in during the mid-80’s and afterward I went into my “tornado drawing phase.” Drawing has always been my place to go to think and look at things.

I always doodled in my notebooks at school and at work.  Probably about 2005 or so I decided to start doing more elaborate work with it.  Trying to make something distinct, original.  I came to this decision that I’d make some stuff that I would like to hang on the walls around me, art that would reflect myself and things I found interesting.  Then a friend of mine suggested that I try doing illustrations for short stories, so I checked around online and Whispers of Wickedness gave me a try.

Lawrence: I used to be a reviewer and contributor for Whispers of Wickedness.  So tell me, what inspires you? For example, certain music and video games set the mood for me.  But they also inspire me, too.

Bob:  I’ve always been drawn to dark and strange themes.  When I draw I tend to put on a lot of music that reflects that, and the two of them, music and drawing, seem to go together great!  I tend to listen to things like Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson.  A lot of Industrial music too, things like Wumpscut, Combichrist, and Dismantled.  That sort of thing.  It really adds an energy to what you’re doing!

Bob Veon’s Comic Book work 1

Bob Veon’s Comic Book work 2

Lawrence: Let’s talk influences.  Everybody has them.  What writers, artists, or filmmakers influenced you and your work?

Bob:  Huge fan of Stephen King’s work – The Dark Tower series is still something I read over and over.  Clive Barker has been a major influence in my life since I first saw Hellraiser and then went on to read his books and get acquainted with his artwork.  He’s great in any medium he works in, as far as I’m concerned.  Besides fiction, I read a lot on paranormal subjects.  The things like alien abduction, UFOs in general; mysterious occurrences, cryptozoology, and conspiracy theories. Books by folks like John Keel and Jim Marrs. There’s a lot of strange things that happen in the world that kind of get brushed aside.  I don’t know what’s more fascinating a lot of times, the stories you hear themselves, or the reactions in the “official world” to them.  As far as art goes, I’ve always been amazed by HR Giger’s work – definitely an original vision there!  Frank Miller’s black and white comic style is definitely something I was impressed by.  Jae Lee is fantastic in that whole positive/negative style too.  I love his attention to minute details.

Bob Veon’s work space

Bob Veon & Lawrence Dagstine project

Lawrence: I love your penciling and inking style the most.  I love how you draw everything by hand first.  But at the same time you’re the kind of guy who can do pencils and inks one day, then jump from canvas to crayon to computer art the next.  What is your favorite medium to work in? Also, what mediums are you experienced in?

Bob:  I’m going to have to say that the medium that seems to be “me” the most is pen and ink drawings.  It’s a pretty fun and worthwhile effort all around to see what you can come up with.  When I first started to get serious with pen and ink drawings I would sit down to a piece of paper with just a pen, no pencils or other starting points, and just start going.  Make a mistake?  Just fold it into what I was doing somehow!  It could get challenging, but at the same time was pretty exciting.  Especially when I pulled off something that looked good!

I also like to paint a lot, but haven’t done much of that in the past year.  It’s always interesting to me how drawing and painting, while essentially very similar in that you are trying to create form, space, and value, defining something two-dimensional to look a certain way, are so very different to do in technique.

As for other mediums, I do stuff with Photoshop, but mainly just for coloring or adding effects.  I don’t do much with it aside from that.  I do a lot with Illustrator which is a really interesting graphic design program with a lot of potential.  When I was in school I worked in some 3D programs but never really got into them like I thought I would.

Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean 1 – Bob Veon

Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean 2

Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean 3

Lawrence: Originality.  It’s definitely something you have.  What is your take on it?

Bob:  Like I said before, I was striving to try to go into places that I hadn’t seen before when I started getting serious with my artwork.  I try to be as original as possible when I’m coming up with things to work on, but I’m sure that you see a lot of the things that influence me in there as well.  I guess that you’ll always have that, though.

Lawrence: Your black and white illustrations would look great on somebody’s back or forearm.  I’m sure they would also make your typical tattoo artist salivate.  Have you ever thought about working alongside a tattoo artist?

Bob:  I have indeed!  Actually, I’ve done tattoo designs for a few people.  My girlfriend actually got one that she asked me to design for her.  I did check out a tattoo shop a few years ago that was looking for apprentices and took in several of my sketchbooks for the owner to look through.  He seemed to be really impressed with what I was doing and said it was very original, which I took as a great compliment!  Unfortunately, due mainly to time and economic reasons, I wasn’t able to go forward with this.

Family Reunion Novella – pencils

Family Reunion Novella – colors

Lawrence: A lot of artists create their own graphic novels or books of their work these days.  They even do it on places like Lulu or CreateSpace.  Have you ever thought about coming out with an art book?

Bob:  I finished up a graphic novel script just last year that I’d love to get moving on.  I started penciling about three pages then got busy with other projects, but would love to get back to it.  I know that it’s going to be a long project, and I think that kind of keeps me reserved on it.

I do have a book of artwork available through Lulu from 2007 called Landscapes of Hell.  It’s still available if anyone’s interested.

(to order Landscapes of Hell: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bobveon)

The Paraplegic – pencils

The Paraplegic – colors

Lawrence: Who are some clients, authors or publications you have done artwork for?

Bob:  I started off doing black and white illustrations for Whispers of Wickedness.  They always had some really good stories!  From there I started working with Jason Gaskell on his online magazine Oriental Tales, doing illustrations for the stories people sent in.  Other than that, I was asked to send some original work in for Taj Mahal Review and Harvests of New Millennium.  For a while I hadn’t been doing much illustration and then just this last summer Jason Gaskell got in touch with me about doing illustrations for more of his short fiction for a collection he wanted to put out.

Grim Reaper print (part 1) by Bob Veon

Grim Reaper print (part 2) by Bob Veon

Lawrence: What do you think art is most lacking these days? And why?

Bob:  I try not to get too elitist about art.  It’s usually something you get or you don’t, but the fact that someone created something, took the time out of their life to put the energy in to make something for someone or just for themselves, that’s pretty important and deserves a look.  If I want to get picky about things though, I could say there is too much of a reliance on digital technology to make something look good.  But that would be a stupid thing to say since I do it myself!

Gargoyle-Dragon Creature

In Thrall to the Succubus

Lawrence: Although it’s taken both of us almost a year, what do you think of the “Six Novellas” eBook project? Have you ever done something like this before?

Bob:  It’s been a lot of fun and exciting!  I never know what to expect in the next story I get from you, and that adds to the fun of what I do for them.  Hell, I’d never drawn a pirate ship before and then found myself doing it for Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean!  I’ve never done anything like this before, but would love to do more of it.  It certainly keeps the creative process moving!

Lawrence: If there was an artist or writer you could work beside, living or dead, who would it be? And why?

Bob:  I think it would be pretty fun to work with someone like David Lynch.  He certainly brings a very unique touch to whatever he’s working on.   Really just about anyone I mentioned before as influences would be great fun to work with.  It would be neat to see firsthand how they go about their work.

Death Clock

Dream Within a Dream

Lawrence: Funny how when we first teamed up we learned that we owned the same exact video games, the same exact toys and stickers (Star Wars, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, etc.), and other collectibles as if we had identical childhoods.  Fun Stuff… What do you do for fun? Where do you turn when it’s time to take a break?

Bob:  I know what you mean!  It was pretty wild to find out we pretty much owned the same toys and video games!  Usually for fun I like to play video games.  I’ve been a huge fan of them since the old Nintendo system and haven’t stopped playing since!  Things like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, Castlevania – I enjoy them all.  I also like to watch movies and read.  Seems like most of the things I liked to do when I was a kid have pretty much stayed the same!

Nurse by Bob Veon

Secrets of Darkness

Soul-Eating Demon

Lawrence: In twenty years time, where would you like to see yourself?

Bob:  I would love to be able to work on my artwork full time.

Lawrence: If you could be somebody famous in history, who would it be? And why?

Bob:  I don’t know if he’s considered someone famous, but the Count St. Germain.  I just want to know if he was this immortal that he claimed to be or a fake.  Regardless, I’m sure it would be an interesting time!

Scarecrow Piece by Bob Veon

Tarot Reader piece by Bob Veon

The Return by Bob Veon

Lawrence: Favorite comic book superhero and super villain? And why?

Bob:  Oh boy, this is one that’s hard for a comic geek!  If I had to boil it down, I’m going to go with Wolverine for superhero.  Why?  With his powers and unbreakable skeleton he pretty much has no choice but to be this tough little ball of fury taking it to the villains every time they come up!  As for super villain – Herr Starr from the Preacher comics.  He takes villainy to a ridiculously fun level to read!

Lawrence: You know it’s bad for you.  Favorite junk food?

Bob:  I could eat pizza every day if I could, though I don’t consider it a junk food because it contains the four food groups.  See how I justified that?

The Tormentor by Bob Veon

We Can Make You Better

Wicked Forest

Lawrence: Have any advice for aspiring artists who might be reading this?

Bob:  If you want to make artwork just do it. And keep on doing it.  Don’t try to compare what you’re doing with what someone else has done because that’s a very quick way to get discouraged.  Good and bad are arbitrary things in art, and you are your own judge.  The important thing is that you are expressing yourself creatively and hopefully gaining confidence as to just what you’re capable of doing with your abilities.  It takes time and effort, but you will find your own unique style.

Canvas Work 1

Canvas Work 2

Canvas Work 3

Lawrence: Bob, I want to thank you for being here today and wish you the best of luck.  Do you have any last words?

Bob:  Just that I hope everyone likes what we’ve got on the Six Novellas project for next year! It’s been a pretty fun thing to be working on, so I’m hoping everyone gets that sense of fun when they get to read the stories.  Thanks again, Lawrence!

Commissioned cover for Surprising Stories

Need a book cover done? Or maybe a canvas or a graphic novel? Hire Bob Veon now.  Click any of the links below:

Main website:

http://bobveon.webs.com/index.htm

Also check out:

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bob-veon.html

http://www.artistrising.com/shop/tags/bob-veon.htm

http://bobveon.deviantart.com/

Or contact Bob Veon directly at:

bobveon@yahoo.com

Artwork Copyright by Bob Veon.  All Rights Reserved. 

Free SF Serial: “Orphan’s Prey pt. 3” – Lawrence Dagstine

Science Fiction Serial Part 3

First Draft – Follow it from the beginning…

Orphan’s Prey 1: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/04/20/free-sf-serial-orphans-prey-pt-1-by-lawrence-dagstine/

Orphan’s Prey 2: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/06/10/free-sf-serials-orphans-prey-pt-2-by-lawrence-dagstine/

Who are the Vendragon?

So self-assured, she was, only hours earlier. So brave and self-confident. So virtuous and independent at the right moments, yet obviously weak during others. 

She suddenly found herself pressing her hands to the sides of her head—she’d never done something like this in front of her brother—almost sick with discomfort.  She saw the expression on the boy’s face, then her own, only in her mind’s eye, weak, scared, unprotected, and she realized once more that they were just small children, incapable of much, and just how alone they really were.

 

ORPHAN’S PREY

 by

Lawrence Dagstine

A rather large, muscular, adobe-colored lizard was awakened that same night by what sounded like distant explosions.  From behind the controls of his land scout, the startled iguana with the reddish-brown leather armor and twaddle-speaking tongue realized it was thunder reverberating among the low cumulus that was some hundreds of miles wide.  There was the pitter-patter of rain pellets on the vehicle’s front looking glass and hood.  A break in the drought? No, couldn’t be; Ragnarok should only be so lucky this time of year.  All the water in the universe couldn’t fix that recurrent problem, only toss it a band-aid.  Hence the greenhouses, pipelines, and special sprinkler system back at the city.  Fog clouds approaching? Maybe.  It was a more logical bet.  In sandy, mountainous regions like this, a heavy thunderstorm or methane-mixed hail shower could be an isolated occurrence or a signal that a new front was moving in—or yet another unwanted season.  Whichever it was, the lizard was glad he was snug inside his tracker rather than camped out in a dry marsh or deep desert valley where the storm was picking up speed and strength.  As for how bad conditions would get, he’d just have to wait and see.

“Fog billows?” asked a similar life form from a standard operating panel in the rear.  Unlike the front of the vehicle, there were no visual systems or radar maps or even a looking glass to peer out of.   Compared to his much taller partner, this reptile’s armor was grayish steel, the portions of scaly flesh that was visible a mustard tone.

The tongue-tied lizard at the wheel of the land scout looked at his weather gauge. “With precipitation like this”—when he talked his mouth didn’t always move but, rather, an electronic chest unit with a flashing orb flickered—“what else could it be?”

“The way you study natural features,” his friend remarked, “I would have thought something more exciting.  Whatever your definition of exciting is.  You know, Koral, I’m quite surprised you never applied for an Earth visa.  You show a certain kind of enthusiasm for your work.”

Their vernacular wasn’t perfect, the interpretive English and back and forth chitchat a bit skidded; but the chest units helped immensely with vocabulary and pronunciation.

“You mean neurotic?” Koral’s tongue lashed out in slight irritation.

“Mmm, that’s the word.  A human term, too.  I’d bet my green farm that Earth scientists would have adored you.”

“Funny, Bakkra,” he laughed. “I don’t know whether to pat you on the gills for your clever perceptions of me—because I am mostly used to your cynicism—or just go ahead and collect my winnings now.  Heh! And here I thought only the man-droid was able to understand me.” There was a brief pause. “Speaking of which, the synthetic one has not returned or communicated back with our lovely package.”

“He’s a robot.  Robots are late, too, you know.”

“Not this robot.  I was the one the manufacturers hunted down and finally sold to.  I was the one guiding him through the wastes.”

“You seem concerned, and tired.  Should we call off the search?”

“No.  Not yet.”

“They’re that important to you, huh?”

“Yes.  That important.” Koral leaned back in his metal chair and let the ravaging elements unfold before him, while keeping a close eye on the overhead gauges and monitor for something else.

Lightning flashed some more.  The alignment of the bolts, shooting outward from the cumulus in all directions, reminded the lizard of the storm chasing he undertook in his youth; after three hundred and sixty years, one begins to feel old but still take pleasure in the eccentricities of the past.

Thunderstorms in the wastelands of Ragnarok were forever awesome displays of limitless power, he thought, sometimes releasing energy many times greater than the atomic explosion range.  Hailstorms derived of methane were a whole other story.  Still, he knew if you were close to either one, or became trapped in the very center of a fog cloud, there was about them a personal quality.  It was dramatic and inescapable.  It was terrifying but vivid, as if every sudden flash, every strong gust of wind, and every simultaneous explosion that crackled and boomed were seeking you out; after all, it really sought no one else.  The lightning came in multitudes and blinded you.  The thunder wreaked havoc on your ears and deafened you.  The ice-cold rains came down heavily and drowned you.  And on the open plains, the sand-filled wastes, and in hanging valleys of crystal and rock, there was no place to take refuge.

The snow, which frequently becomes spot blizzards with reckless currents of air beyond gale force, could also be merciless and astonishing in its ferocity.  Large, lazy flakes drifting down at first, touching the ground and melting instantly.  But in minutes the fall becomes thicker, more rigid, and the wind-whipped mess pummels the landscape.  The temperature drops rapidly.  Marshes and gullies turn in the twinkling of an eye to great streams of half-frozen mud, which then later break apart from those very same winds and become torrents, rushing steeply downhill unintended, catching up loose rocks, Yurga bush, even boulders.  Other times, the mud is uplifted and snatched from their channels, as if by some godly hand.  Then it is flung into the air with impending force, thus turning it into hail during its whirl around the cloud formations and falling with a shrapnel effect down upon lower elevations of land.  In the midst of the mud particles, an unscented methane composite, laid bare to Ragnarok’s wrath and planetary nature to do whatever mixing and mashing it likes.  Once it falls back down again, hardened and in hail form, it wreaks of the most terrible odor, which can be inhaled up to hundreds of miles away.

Koral always remembered the cloud masses beginning somewhere in the high mountains, never the desert regions or marshlands, and in an almost tentative fashion.  Always the highest escarpments, always the greatest plateaus.  Perhaps that was what made the seasonal irregularities so peculiar, so unrelenting in their expansive devastation.  And you never expected a season to change so fast or, unintentionally, drive through one.  Not unless it was closely monitored or regarded from a distance.

From within the land scout, and up along a high altitude, the now-dozing lizard found such an effect magical.  A swirling, shifting pattern of light, eventually graying, then dulling and, finally, obscuring.  Precipitation from some disturbance in the planet’s magnetic field eventually conjured up the surrounding fog—yes, that had to be it—but he couldn’t be certain.  Neither could his people.  It was just another mystery of the planet, passed down from generation to generation, and his hypothesis was open to much conjecture.  Sometimes there was a break; usually there wasn’t.  Sometimes it revealed uncharted peaks, gorges and canyons, and the Vendragon Township far below, often untouched by the gathering clouds and coming storm.

At times he found such atmospheric wonder indescribable.  He often used worlds populated by humans as a comparison: where Earth’s seasons changed over the course of months, the cycles on Ragnarok could change within minutes if not mere seconds.  He used these comparisons in his teachings.  The Vendragon, whose society already flourished in ways early human colonies had, achieved much knowledge and experience from it.  They took it with them wherever they went; though formally a tribal race, that and available technology became a handed down tradition.

Finally the lizard’s thoughts were interrupted by a voice on the overhead speaker. “Hey, storm chaser! Come in, chaser! What are you chasing after now? Over.”

“Apparently little boys and girls,” Bakkra hollered from the back. “Ain’t that right, Koral?”

The man-sized iguana turned and shot his mustard-colored friend a filthy glance. “Do you mind?” His chest unit flared bright red.

The speaker chimed again: “Check.  Fog clouds reach you yet? Over.”

“Affirmative,” he answered. “Unpredictable weather surrounding just about everything.  All within close proximity of the vehicle, at least, otherwise cloud-to-ground.  Too soon to tell.  Just beginning.  Over.”

“I’m sure the young ones are all right,” the speaker crooned; the voice on the other side tried to be reassuring.

“What makes you think I was worried about that? Over.”

“Have any of our friends made an appearance?” An intense silence followed.

Bakkra was about to say something smart when Koral turned and shushed him. “The man-droid has still not reported back, and no,” he said. “No activity or other signs of life in the region.  Over.”

“Oh, well, still armor yourself.  This storm system reading is immense from our side.  We’re going to catch it for good and for sure, and there’s an airstream behind it.  First snow and ice, then rain and wind, heavy at times.  Even at your elevation.”

“Trust me.  We’ve already felt the thunder.”

“Thunder is nothing.” The communicator cut off for what seemed like two, maybe three seconds, followed by unusual static. “We may lose… you if… you go any… higher,” the voice continued brokenly. “You been feeling tremors? Over.”

“Negative.” Koral flipped a few switches on the overhead panel and fixed the glitch. “Unless there’s something I don’t already know or you’re not telling me.  Over.”

“Hmm, well, we’re still sending two extra rovers your way.  Over.”

“Helpful, Ooglad, but Bakkra and I are all right.  Over.”

“Listen, Koral, I know it’s just a random search, and this cloud build-up is like all the other occasions, but let’s be honest here, you can use all the help you can get.” A brief pause, and then: “Small stuff, under four on the quake register, with sand-shocks set well outside your perimeter.  But why turn down a free assist? Over.”

“Thanks, Ooglad, but no thanks.  Out.” Koral switched off the communicator.

Bakkra was the one with the smug look now. “What did you do that for? You’d have to be mad to turn down a rescue and assist in conditions like this.”

“We don’t need it.  We’ll just stay the night.  The storm will pass, like those before it.”

“For all you know those children might already be dead! Your droid’s bleeper would have picked them up kilometers ago.  This, my friend, is just suicide!”

“Really, Bakkra? How so?” Koral leaned back in his seat once more. “Does this also mean I’m forcing you to commit suicide with me? Because I do occasionally entertain the thought.”

“I guarantee you these children are already worm food or some other kind of beast droppings!”

“I say you’re wrong.” The lizard was terribly amused. “For once in your pathetic existence, don’t be such a coward.  Part of our race’s survival depends on these two kids.  We’ve weathered fog clouds before, and knowing how Ooglad thinks, he’ll most likely still send out that extra patrol regardless of what I say.  He’s crazy and neurotic, too.”

“You’re right,” Bakkra said. “For once you are very right.  That young reptile is paranoid and foolish like you.  But I am not.” Gathering his things, he went on, “I don’t plan on staying here with you.  So, if you will not wait for the assist and accept it, then I will.  They’ll give me a ride back to the city, while you stay out in the hail to wither and die.”

He was prepared to slide open the door and exit the vehicle when Koral jumped up and stopped him. “Oh no, my friend.  You are not leaving this tracker.” The lizard made his presence felt; the air suddenly became hostile and serious. “Not while I am in charge.  I say we weather the storm, investigate these hills and cliffs, and that is final!”

“Let go of the door, Koral.  Things could get messy in a very confined space.”

Lightning flashed just outside; the crackling sound was ear-piercing.  Koral shook it off.  Then he released his massive-sized hand from the door’s grip. “Go ahead,” he said. “I’d ask you to be reasonable but I think you and I both know we are beyond that now.”

The mustard-toned reptile reconsidered. “The only reason you are being this way is because of what happened to Arim.  You’re scared you’ll have to live through a repeat.” There was a brief silence, significant, and followed by what seemed like an even more emotional reawakening. “Your puny brain might not realize it, because it’s crammed deep inside your subconscious—yes, one of your human terms—waiting for the chance to be exposed, waiting for the opportunity to be expressed, and aired in permanent relief.” Then Bakkra put his things down and took two steps back. “There is a cause to your neuroses, Koral.  I see this.  Ooglad sees this.  The whole tribe sees this! They worry about you.  They can see right through your armor, the pain you are suffering, the empty feelings you sometimes emit.  You leave the camps and city grounds to study the conditions out here, bury yourself in your research.  This is your means of escape.  But because Arim perished and you suffer does not mean others need suffer as well.”

Koral did not reply.  Instead, he returned to the front of the vehicle, strapped himself back into his metal chair, and peered silently out of the looking glass.

Bakkra went on, “I will not go.  I will return to my station.  This is a very strong storm formation we are dealing with here.  Hopefully, your instincts are right this time.  I also pray you will not be blinded by pride again.  This stubbornness needs to subside.”

Koral blocked the rest of what he had to say out and stared up at the overhead panels in dismay.  Eventually he closed his eyes and, with the ease of long practice in strange places, went immediately off to dozing again.  In a few hours he would see what effects of the storm he could find, and if the children or the man-droid had left a trail for him.  This time he was prepared.  He had a carry-along machine, lightweight with a strap, which detected alien life forms.

He continued to ignore Bakkra’s petty banter through the night.  He continued to be aware of feeling kinship with the environment and, oddly enough, with the fog clouds.  It was a feeling he found impossible to shake.  Pensively he looked back at the fateful actions that led up to the Arim tragedy.  It was so long ago, uneventful to say the least.  How could the thoughts still persist? Were they really bottled up inside of him? It was his first interspecies “coop”, as most out-colony settlers called it in those days.  The boy was too young.  Sixteen in Earth years.  For every hour the lizard was out there searching for the two orphans he probably thought of Arim and the accident that befell him twice as much, only unconsciously.

For a reptile such emotions were not like him; then again, perhaps he did not try hard enough to show emotion.  Along with his predictions in the weather, and for as long as he could remember, he had experienced premonitions instead.  If the premonition seemed genuine, his chest unit would emit a strange glow, and he would utter a warning of disaster to the rest of the tribe.  Very rarely did the Vendragon take him seriously, and very rarely did they act on it.  His forebodings were never specific, the calamity either absurd or nameless, so it was unusual that he did not speak of any premonition in the days or hours before Arim—a most treasured farmhand assisting their nascent culture in advancing agriculturally—was attacked and fell from that high cliff.  And never in his wildest dreams, he thought, could he predict that, even now, the two orphans he searched endlessly for might bring with them a terrible but ancient disaster.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Lawrence Dagstine: “Masters of the Universe 2010…”

The birthday of all birthdays approaches.  Three.  And this year’s theme is actually the very expensive, 30th Anniversary re-release of some funky figures I grew up to in the very early 1980s.  He-man and the Masters of the Universe: Adult Collector Series.  These are for my son, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a little fun with them myself (he he).  The artwork and detail is out of this world, done by the Four Horsemen, and if you have an action figure or toy news blog, please feel free to use these pics.  I was most surprised by how expensive they were.  First off, they sell out in less than 24 hours all the time on Mattel’s main homepage… So your only shots are places like eBay or Amazon if you want to own these high-end figures.  Next, when I say high-end, I mean it.  The 2010 Masters of the Universe line-up runs between $25.00 and $80.00 per figure on average; with $35.00 to $60.00 being that in-between number with S&H.  Are they worth it? Yes and no (I also managed to pick up a 2002 Castle Grayskull MINT in the box.  Some of the more memorable characters are even more awesome-looking than when they first came out in 1982.  Characters like He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Trap-Jaw, and Moss Man included.  And they include better weapons and equipment, too.

Word, yo. It all good... Later we go to Mr. B's for a Nickel and Shiznit!

It should be noted that I didn’t pick up Skeletor but, rather, Scareglow instead.

No hard feelings, Skeletor.  I’ll give a little description of the figures further down.

Sorry, Skeletor... but Scareglow looked wayyy cooler than your candy ass.

So with the castle and the average forty-fifty dollar action figure I ended up spending close to $700.00 in He-man related toys.  Why spend so much, you ask? Well, while I agree they are for my son and I’m reliving my childhood through him, and hope one day that he might want to repeat the process… It wasn’t just a birthday celebration or bunch of gifts I just “had to own!” Yes, I do collect my own Doctor Who and Star Wars action figures.  Yes, I have Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars.  Yes, I have baseball cards made of chrome.   Oh, and don’t even get me started on Transformers, Thundercats, Smurfs, G.I.Joe, and some now-old school 8-bit NES games.  These toys were a celebration to welcome my son into my home as I now have custody (visitation rights) of him 7 to 8 days a month.  In the event a weekend lands with a Monday as a holiday, there’s your eighth day.  So I have my kid for lots of cartoon fun (and the park outdoors) one week a month.  Which means more to me than my writing, so yes, along with a new bed directly across from mine, makes $700.00 seem all the more worth it.

2002 Castle Grayskull - MIB; with Action Chip/Sound Effects

2002 Castle Grayskull - Back of box/castle interior view

Other gifts included a Superman “Through the Ages” gift set, a 13″ tall Cyberman, a pair of Iron Man sneakers, and a 2010 AT-AT Imperial Walker.  But let’s concentrate on the Masters of the Universe line-up for now.

Scareglow - Skeletor's Henchman from another dimension

Beast Man - Skeletor's Original Henchman with realistic paint job

Tri-Klops - Skeletor's Henchman who can see through one eye

Trap-Jaw - Skeletor's iron-mouthed, claw-armed henchman - RARE! $50 and up!

The He-man adult series also comes in nice collectible boxes

It appears I’ve picked up an unequal amount of good guys versus bad guys.  Maybe that’s because the bad guys always looked cooler.  I’ve also picked up the whole 130-episode television series, which lasted four years in the early 80s — they tried to bring it back in 2002, but failed — and they were the basis of my childhood and fantasies growing up.  It’s now time to introduce it to another generation, just as some parents from Generation X are introducing Star Wars and Transformers to their young ones.  Who knows, maybe the 80s culture will always be with us.  Why? Because the 80s into the early 90s were probably one of the coolest periods for things in general.  And not just toys.  Though cheesy to some today, you had your clothes, music, movies (ala Empire Strikes Back, Predator, Terminator, and Aliens), comics, graphic novels, and even science fiction, fantasy and horror novels when it was at its height.  There is a man by the name of Stephen King we can thank for that.  Anyway, on to some more action figure pics.

He-man in Battle Armor - paint job just like the day he premiered

Faker - The evil He-man which Tri-Klops & Skeletor put back together.

Wun-Dar - Savage ancestor of He-man; great grandfather - VERY RARE

Moss Man - authentic green fur and he smells like a Christmas Tree

Man-E-Faces - Good guy robot from the 2002 collection with three faces

Now before I go, get a load of this… Not only did they make the new figures look just like the older figures, only with superior paint jobs — once again, the Four Horsemen are responsible for these figures — but one of them included a ring.  The ring you see below I used to own and wear almost thirty years ago.  The Castle Grayskull Ring.  Every detail has been repeated.  I don’t know what’s funnier, the way it looks since I lost it in the early eighties and the fact that I still remember it, or when I was running around second grade with it on, raising my hand to the sky, shouting, “I HAVE THE POWER!” Actually, what’s probably hilarious is the ring still fits my ring finger, and I wore it outdoors by mistake one day, not realizing I had it on.  Nevertheless, when I was young I loved that He-man ring, and I’m glad to have an exact duplicate of it back.  It sits on my writing desk, and believe it or not, it even gives me a little inspiration when it comes to penning horror stories.  I fiddle around, put it on, or sometimes just stare at it.  Oh yeah, I also picked up the NEW Webstor figure.

The Castle Grayskull Ring - Memories that still fit almost 30 years later.

Castle Grayskull put together w. The whole gang saying goodbye.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with reliving your childhood or passing it on to the next generation.  And it’s things like this which helped inspire me to become the one thing I do most these days.  Being a genre writer.

With that said, everybody say goodbye.  Until next time.  BYE BYE.  Bye everyone.  See ya.

Cheers,

Lawrence Dagstine

OG’s Speculative Fiction, Mid-Late 2010… (3rd Acceptance!)

A couple of weeks ago I grabbed my third acceptance to the long running speculative fiction/science fiction magazine on the Web — available as a free PDF Download to read and eventually purchase on LULU as a magazine for cons — The Opinion Guy (aka OG’s Speculative Fiction).  This would be my second acceptance in one year to them, and they’ve featured some very talented and familiar names in the science fiction arena.  Both short stories and poetry.  Matter of fact, this third credit comes right after my 2nd, and bolstered me up to the 400 credit mark.  Editor is Seth Crossman, and he also provides an Internet site full of informative articles.

 

Lawrence Dagstine RETURNS to OG’s Speculative Fiction

Third Acceptance – Click on the link(s) for some free reading in PDF format

MAIN HOMEPAGE:

www.theopinionguy.com

Previous Dagstine Stories:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/03/25/ogs-speculative-fiction-march-2010-2nd-acceptances/

Other New Entries: “Magazines”