Member 146
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Contributor to project:
Designing Science Fiction...
Mark Lavin (M, 47)
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since May 15, 2007
Uplinks: 0, Generation 1
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  • markl’s project
    Designing Science Fiction...
    The course will be loosely inspired by the movie (and the book) The Man who Fell to Earth in which David Bowie plays an extraterrestrial visitor...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    From markl's personal cargo

    The k-plane docks in the rickety old death-star beer can, then they serve lunch in the first room, which they call the Diner at the End of the World. Surprisingly delicious veggie burgers, six bucks, eight with fries. The nervous first-timers get goofy with the fries, launching them at one another, the nutty instructors messing with their heads the whole time. No soda though. Carbonation doesn’t do so well for the bod out here. No windows in the beer can; the view comes later. Stickers on the armrests, the red highchair tabletops and overheads say things like Skykriminalz, Warlocks, Burning Comet, Smoking Gun, in bright colors with lots of skulls, sharks, fire, tigers, roses, etc. Some of the stickers are new and glossy, some are old and peeling and taking the paint off behind them. In one area, a number of framed picture synchronized o-jumpers in various positions with the big blue Earth behind them, or the sun-rise behind them, the black of space or the moon.

    In the hallway beyond the Diner at the End of the World, there’s a Plexiglas hatch and people are bouncing off the padded walls in all sorts of directions on the other side of it. Continuing down the hall a friendly girl, all small-town smile and dressed like an old-time flight attendant, puts a metallic homer-band on your wrist with a number and a barcode.

    Entering a fluorescent lighted room now that might have looked like something out of 2001 except for the fact that there are more stickers and that punctured cushions in some places reveal the foam inside, a bunch of identical TVs light up all around the space. Clipboards float about, connected by strings to a central pedestal. Same picture on every TV; a crazy-looking old man in a white motorcycle helmet with a flaming skull sticker on the side and a gray-white beard a foot and a half long. Despite the fact that he’s missing several teeth, he misses nothing regarding the dangers you’re facing and the rights you’re forfeiting. Punctures, cracks, life-support failures, debris-shield failures, launch failures, oxygen-tank failures, fainting or seizures due to pressure changes and g-forces, the bends, depressurization, improper poses when landing on the collectors, missing the collectors altogether, collector malfunctions, k-plane crashes on the way up or the way down, even debris impacts on the station itself. And aliens. Aliens? That’s never happened, but it could, and if it did, you’d have forfeited the right to sue. You also forfeit the right to sue and the right of anyone who survives you to sue on your behalf the suit manufacturers, the touring company, the launch manufacturers, the station operators, the k-line, the k-plane manufacturers, the collector manufacturers and operators, and anyone else in any way related to the operation. The station is considered New Zealand territory and the contract will be administered by New Zealand law, no matter what country you’re from.

    Fill out the paperwork on the clipboard, then float into the next room, where you sign and date it in front of two witnesses, still forgetting that it’s ’58 and putting ’57 on everything and then turning the 7 to an 8. Look right into the camera and acknowledge that you signed the contract of your own free will. The video document streams right down to the database down in Rotorua at the touring company headquarters and into your own email box, where you’ll see it tomorrow, should you live.

    Next, a room that looks and smells like a locker-room. Rented suits still stink of the sweat of the guy or girl before. First the undergarment goes on, then exofabric and the hard shell for your chest and the gloves and the helmet. Then the oxygen tanks and the backup homer around your neck for the off chance that you mislaunch or go unconscious and have to be traced. The whole apparatus would weigh 300 pounds on Earth, but here it’s as light and flexible as a t-shirt. While you’re dressing, Bryce, your training instructor, puts his helmet on backwards, konks his head hard against the wall and pretends to go unconscious, then says he’s never actually o-jumped before.

    Enter the airlock. Air swishes out all around you and soon there’s no sound. The suit enveloping you loosens up a bit, the floor falls out and you’re on your back on the big X. Align your arms and legs with the X as you’ve been trained. Check your temperature, pressure and oxygen controls as you’ve been trained. Make sure you do it every ten minutes. There’s no radio out here. You will be alone. Wait a minute, notice a tear in your eye and that there’s nothing you can do about it. Notice the fog of your breath on the inside of your visor, which is quickly becoming cool against the vacuum.

    As you focus your eyes down the barrel of the railgun, you become so heavy in an instant that it hurts as the giant X hurtles you forward with the might of seven G’s. The railgun’s trusswork blurs around you; now you’re moving as fast as a bullet, and the railgun is gone. Now there is only you, the stars, and the great blue marble, seemingly motionless below. Now there are only three-sixteenths of an inch of fabric between you and outer space.
    You can’t hold your breath for the full ninety minute orbit. That’s why they actually tell you to scream. Scream as loud and as hard as you can. Flail your arms and legs. It won’t change your trajectory. In a few minutes, South America will be in full view, and when you’re done screaming there’s silence deeper than you’ve ever imagined. If you were going to pass out, it would have happened by now, and the collectors will be there when you’ve gone all the way around.

    Fewer people die o-jumping than from falling off ladders in their own homes. Look down. Feel. Let it all in. And enjoy the ride.




    Thu, May 24, 2007  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Designing Science Fiction Scenarios
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    sjef     Fri, Dec 14, 2007  Permanent link
    I like your stuff. The intros are somewhat clunky while you're building up, due to the descriptions/dialog feeling a bit contrived, but once you get to the core concept of your stories the flow really picks up and the endings are generally delivered well.
     
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