Wherever Talie Tappler goes, death and destruction are sure to follow, so when she turns up on Earth circa 4000 BC, the people of Atlantis know there’s going to be trouble. Now two Atlantians, a temple priest and a high class prostitute, have only a short time to save their civilization from certain doom. Click here to start reading “The Flood of Atlantis.”
Prepare to read this in your best movie trailer voice:
In the 30th Century, history changed. An army of microscopic robots survived extinction; now they’re sweeping through the galaxy unchecked. They’ve destroyed thousands of worlds, they’ve taken countless lives, and they’re evolving. They’ve sampled the human brain, studied it, and modified their neural network, making them smarter and more imaginative. Their military strategies have become more innovative… and more effective. Earth’s space fleet is barely holding on as colony after colony falls to the Swarm.
But now history is changing again. The Swarm says they’ve realized the evil of their ways, and they wish to repent for their sins. They’re asking for humanity’s forgiveness. Should the humans forgive the Swarm for all they’ve done, or is this another of the Swarm’s innovative tricks? Find out in the next Tomorrow News Network adventure: “Children of the Swarm.”
Update: I had originally planned for this story to come out on Friday, May 31st. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I have to postpone it to Monday, June 3rd.
Update as of June 3rd: Okay, I thought I was back on schedule, but apparently I was wrong. I don’t want to make excuses for this delay except to say that 2013 has not been very kind to me. The story will be ready by the end of the week (probably Wednesday). If you’ve subscribed to this blog, you’ll get an update when it’s posted.
It is the apex of Martian civilization. The ruling Scientific Council has instituted a program to ensure the continued growth and evolution of the Martian species. Mars has tapped an unlimited supply of geothermal energy. The Martian space program has sent its first probe to Earth to study “alien” life.
But watching the Tomorrow News Network, the people of Mars have realized there is a problem: there are no Martians in the future. Mars will one day become a dead planet with no oceans, no jungles, and no native people. It’s lush greens and deep blues will be replaced by dusty, red deserts.
One Martian scientist, Dr. Snu Sajnook, has a controversial theory to explain what will happen to life on Mars. He believes he can change the future. He believes he can save Martian civilization… but will anyone listen to his radical ideas?
The next story in the Tomorrow News Network series, entitled “Mother Mars,” will come out on Thursday, April 25th.
P.S.: For those of you who read “Death to History,” you may be interested to know that Gina Zaphiro, the protagonist of that story, will make a guest appearance in “Mother Mars.” If you didn’t read “Death to History,” click here. It’s pretty awesome, especially if you hate history.
As regular readers of the Tomorrow News Network know, the Tomorrow News Network broadcasts the news backwards through time. It’s usually bad news–death and destruction kind of news–and they let everyone see it except the people directly involved. Those people see only static.
I’m currently on vacation in Las Vegas. Yesterday, I walked into a casino and had the great misfortune to see this:
It’s been nearly a year since this project started. I promised to write ten short stories, one every month from January to October. Things fell a little behind schedule in September, so the final story is now coming out on
November 16th November 19th (sorry for yet another delay).
Through the course of the previous nine stories, we’ve seen how the Tomorrow News Network operates. They’re a news organization run by time travelers. Their reporters show up at newsworthy events before they happen. They broadcast the news one day backwards through time, censoring it for some people so they can’t change their own futures. They’ve covered a lot of crazy stories, from assassinations to dinosaurs to the UFO crash at Roswell.
But the Tomorrow News Network isn’t the only time traveling news agency in the universe. In this year’s final story–the season finale if this were television–we’ll meet the competition.
In this month’s story, we’re taking some time off. Mr. Cognis, one of the Tomorrow News Network’s cybernetic camera people, takes his girlfriend on vacation. Unfortunately, the planet they visit has a dark secret… one which might be worth reporting on the news. Here’s a preview of “Mr. Cognis Goes on Vacation,” which comes out next week.
Update: The complete story and illustration will be posted on Friday, August 31st.
* * *
Mr. Cognis saw the universe in two ways. Through one eye, he saw it as any human would, but through the other he saw as machines do: in high definition.
Homo machinae were a superior species, a perfect blending of biology and technology. Evolution had robbed them of their emotions, but why would cyborgs need emotions anyway?
Light fingers ran along Cognis’s arm, feeling the seams between flesh and hydraulic muscle. He enjoyed the playfulness of the touch. Though cyborgs had no emotions, Cognis sometimes downloaded programs to simulate an emotional experience. He and a fellow cyborg named Ms. Macnera had recently downloaded a new one called “love.”
Cognis looked at Macnera with his human eye. Beauty was not an emotion, not something he could understand with downloaded software. He could appreciate things for their simplicity, their complexity, or their effectiveness, but beauty was beyond his comprehension. Yet something about the shape of Macnera’s lips, the curve of her neck, the slight motion of her chest as she breathed–something about the lines where her organic and mechanical parts met, about the cybernetic circuitry tattooed down her body, about the way light reflected off both metal and bare skin–something about her physical appearance in general fascinated Cognis. He could not be certain, but he estimated with 87% probability that the term beautiful applied to her.
Macnera’s hand slipped over his shoulder and began exploring the contours of his chest. When the two of them had decided to go on vacation, Cognis resisted wearing the traditional vacation attire. Board shorts did not fit well over his augmented hips and legs, but now he was glad Macnera had persuaded him. Wearing his usual full body-molded suit, he would have missed the subtleties of her gentle caress and the fractional increase in body temperature it produced wherever she touched.
They sat on the sands of an artificial island, the golden light of a binary star shining high in the sky. The ocean smelled salty, a warning of potential corrosive effects to metal, yet Cognis found the smell relaxing rather than alarming. Even the sound of waves rushing up the shore caused him no concern.
“Tell me more about Talie Tappler,” Macnera said.
“Why do you want to talk about her?” Cognis asked.
“She’s so strange,” Macnera replied. “I heard she was there the day the universe began and will be there the day it dies. I heard she’s traveled beyond the known universe and that she knows the future of every living creature, including herself. I am too rational to believe in religion, but Ms. Tappler seems almost godlike. You’ve worked with her more than I have. What’s she really like?”
“We are on vacation,” Cognis said. “We are not supposed to talk about work.”
“Of course,” Macnera said, snuggling up to him. “Forget I said anything about it.”
Cognis complied and deleted the conversation from his memory banks.
I only have to tell you one thing about this month’s story: its title. July’s story will be called “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts.”
After centuries of war, racism, and social injustice, after centuries of one religion versus another, of death and destruction upon the whole human race, one man has united the various nations of Earth. One man has brought peace to the whole world, and the world has thanked him by electing him President of the new Earth Republic.
But this man is not who he appears to be. Only his long lost sister knows the truth, and because of what she knows about this man, this hero to all humanity, this first President of Earth—because of his terrible secret, he must die.
Coming June 15th: Gina Zaphiro will assassinate Earth’s President. She will murder her brother. The future depends on it.
Seventeen-year-old Leo June has a crush on the Tomorrow News Network’s most popular reporter: Talie Tappler. Now his ultimate dream is coming true. He gets to meet her! All because his mother was brutally murdered, and according to Talie someone in the June family killed her.
Be sure to check out May’s short story, “Tomorrow’s News Today,” coming out on Thursday, May 10th.
According to the rules, Tomorrow News Network employees are not allowed to change history. But time traveling journalist Talie Tappler doesn’t always play by the rules. She is prepared to risk her whole career so that a great musician can finish an unfinished opera. Her cyborg cameraman, Mr. Cognis, is the only one who can stop her.
Here is a preview from “The Opera of Machines.” The full story will be posted on April 16th.
* * *
Once inside, Cognis made his way to the newsroom, the pulsing heart of the Tomorrow News Network. Full of sleek, aluminum desks and computers, lit by pure tungsten light and the glow of approximately 900 holographic viewlink screens, the newsroom utilized the most advanced technology in the known universe. Yet surrounding this high-tech facade were other machines, far older, tucked in shadows, built into walls, hidden in the darkest corners–cogs and gears, wheels and pendulums–keeping track of time in ways only ancient technology could. Quietly, the giant clockwork turned, following the backward and forward journeys of time travelers, compensating for them so that as history shifted the newsroom remained unchanged.
Writers and producers bustled about, checking sources and typing scripts while technicians edited video. A reporter and cameraman vanished in a burst of light, rushing off to cover a story in the past. They returned an instant later, their work complete.
Cognis turned when heard the distinctive clicking of high heels. Talie Tappler arrived a moment later, her skirt swishing around her long legs. “Mr. Cognis,” she said, “we are in a hurry.”
“Mr. Cognis!” Macnera cried. She ran across the newsroom, the joints in her legs buzzing and whirring, her pace out of alignment with her normal, steady gate.
“Cognis,” she said, staring at her feet. “My dear, sweet Cognis. I love you.”
A quick glance confirmed all the switches on her arm were in the off position. Something was wrong, but before Cognis could say so Macnera flung her arms around him and pressed her lips to his. The kiss proceeded so randomly, so unpredictably that it alarmed Cognis’s electronic mind.
Macnera pushed herself away. “I’m sorry,” she said, moisture gathering under her biological eye. “I must have overdone it.”
The whole newsroom had stopped. Hundreds of journalists–members of species from all over the universe–watched Macnera run off toward the maintenance department. Talie leaned against a desk, her arms folded across her chest. Her golden hair partly obscured her expression, but Cognis recognized it anyway. It was the one that meant she knew something he didn’t.
“What?” he inquired.
“You’re blushing,” she said.
Cognis checked. “My heart rate and blood pressure are within normal parameters.”
Talie smirked. “Are you sure you don’t want to go to the maintenance department too?”
“I am functioning normally.”
“Maybe you should show her how well you’re functioning,” Talie said, heading toward the spiral stairs leading to the News Director’s office. Following her, Cognis observed Talie checking her pocket watch.
“I apologize,” he said. “I’ve made you late.”
“I’m never late,” Talie said, twisting the dial on her watch. The world around them swirled in impossible colors then settled ten minutes earlier. Talie glided through time without the slightest disorientation. She had natural talent. Cognis, on the other hand, felt out of sync whenever he time traveled. His cybernetic brain depended too much on the constant durations of hours, minutes, and seconds.