Tag Archives: sci-fi

Catch up with Starship Gypsies…

What with all the other stuff I’ve been busy with recently, (like getting my very first published stories released in paperback) I have been lamentably lax in writing another episode in the adventures of the IGV Alice Marie and her ragtag crew of Starship Gypsies (which, if you’ve missed it so far, you can start reading HERE)


So here, without further ado (or any more blatant plugging of my two debut published stories, which are also available for Kindle) is the latest chapter in the continuing sci-fi epic that Jerry and I have created.

Ladies and gentlemen…

Episode 12: Judgement Call.


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New Starship Gypsies post – 10. Hidden agendas.

The adventure continues on our sci-fi collaboration project…

Starship Gypsies


As the IGV Alice Marie blasted her way across the vast interstellar void toward Earth, Carli and Diaz continued to quietly discuss the hatch failure that had so nearly caused a fatal incident on the trip out to NASA 6.

“If that pin had sheared off whilst still in orbit, there’s no telling what kind of damage the ship could have incurred,” said Carli as she sipped a coffee in Diaz’s cabin, “we were lucky you discovered it when you did. If you’re right that it wasn’t an accident, then there’s every chance that whoever tampered with the hatch may have other plans to cripple the ship, or worse.”

Diaz considered this, grateful that her friend hadn’t rejected her suspicions out of hand and yet cautious of how to proceed, knowing that making unfounded accusations about sabotage could alienate her from the crew and very well result in her becoming…

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Starship Gypsies continues…

Here is Jerry’s latest installment from our joint project, Starship Gypsies…

Starship Gypsies


 He scrolled through his reader, looking at his blog and scanning the ‘net. Captain Toes was bored. There was a meeting in a few moments to discuss his choice of destination, Frystur, a fairly large ice planet with few Stakes of Claim for Resources. His Interstellar Planet and Heavenly Bodies Guide listed it as having methane, chlorine, and oxygen ice fields. There are also minerals and ores that have value on the Intergalactic Metals and Chemicals Exchange, so he was really excited to arrive there.

After a meeting with his bridge crew and having set the ship on auto pilot they went to hyper. He walked through the ship and stopped at the mess hall. Then he went his room, and now it was simply travel time


He entered the bridge when the proximity alarm sounded in his room. The bridge was buzzing and he could see a…

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Making more space…

I’ve spent the morning tinkering with the design of the new Starship Gypsies site.
I have now made it easier to navigate from the front page to both the beginning of the story and to the latest installment.

I’ve also (with the help of WordPress and their lovely support team, the “Happiness Engineers”) discovered how to embed clickable images.

So, because I like showing off when I’ve learnt something new, (yes alright, I expect you all knew how to do this ages ago) here are those very links.
If you’ve only just discovered our little space opera and want to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, this first link is for you.


But if you’ve been following the adventures of Captain Toes and his crew since the beginning, here is where the tale continues.


Thanks for coming aboard.

Watch this space(ship)


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Last Supper…


Good grief, it’s already after four in the afternoon and I’ve only just seen the prompt Linda G Hill left us for our Stream of Consciousness Saturday post this week;

” “expect/unexpected.”  Use either or both words in your post, or simply base your idea on them.”

Ok, let’s begin…

Last Supper.

Eldrin scanned the evening news-vid, noting the inordinate amount of coverage given to the latest fatal droid incident; hardly an unexpected story these days, what with the numbers of droids on the Parallel almost equaling those of Naturals, you were always going to get the odd bad owner who didn’t keep an eye on his property.

I mean, he thought to himself as he poured a second glass of wine, it’s not like it’s the droids’ fault, right? They were just tools when all was said and done; strong, intelligent tools, that was true, but objects to be commanded nevertheless.

It was everyone’s Creator-given right to own a droid and nobody was going to change that anytime soon, no matter how many of those nature freaks campaigned against it.
It had been that way for hundreds of years after all, there was no way they were going to persuade the billions of droid owners across the Confederate Parallel to suddenly go without their cybernetic servants.
It would be like returning to the Pilgrimage days of the old stories, when settlers on the newly-discovered Parallels could only survive with the mechanical assistance of early droid prototypes.

The changes in gravity and polar orientation had made it difficult for the first few generations to acclimatize to the initially hostile conditions of the extraordinary new world they had colonized, so the Fathers had made provision in the Confederate Parallel’s Grand Charter to allow all citizens to possess however many cybernetic servants they required.
The first colonists received their droids as a gift from the World Council, as a sign of gratitude for volunteering to free up space on the catastrophically overpopulated home planet.

“No man, woman or child should be expected to give up their homeworld and embark on The Pilgrimage, save that the Charter guarantees them the right to employ the assistance of synthetic slave droids for the purposes of construction, manual labour, hunting and for the personal protection of themselves and their families. No man may question another man’s right to possess such a device, nor may he deny others the right, even should he not wish to possess one himself.”

And that was the way it had always been.
It was unimaginable that anyone should want to regulate droid ownership, the people wouldn’t allow it, there would be a revolution.

Obviously, thought Eldrin, the more of these dangerous radicals there were, wanting to take away everyone’s rights, just because there were a minority of owners who couldn’t or wouldn’t program their droids correctly, resulting in the occasional lethal malfunction, the more droids they would need to maintain order.
So he certainly wasn’t expecting the announcement that came on the vid he was watching, made by none other than the Overseer himself. He seemed to be pledging to drastically curtail the freedom to own anything but the most basic service or defence droid, with the introduction of stringent vetting procedures expected to come into effect almost immediately.

All because of a few kids getting crushed by a badly maintained education droid that didn’t know its own strength and most of them had survived anyway, barely even a dozen had died this time.

He didn’t understand why they were making such a fuss.

And as for reports from other Parallels, those that had revoked the rights of civilian droid ownership since acclimatization, suggesting that rates of violent deaths were lower than in the Confederation, well they were obviously untrue, those colonists were primitive peasants compared to the enlightened society they enjoyed here.

The sound of plates being cleared away made him look up from his screen, the carefully blank features of the servant droid intent on its work.

“So, I suppose you’ll be for the scrap heap won’t you” he said, grinning maliciously, “now that he’s bowing to pressure from the Natural lobby?”

“Excuse me sir, I do not comprehend your question.” The droid looked at him, an expression of polite enquiry on its face, “my purpose is only to provide service to society, I pose no threat to its citizens.”

“Well he won’t be taking my slave units away,” Eldrin snapped, “I don’t care if they do make it law, they’ll need to pry the control chips from my dead fingers. It’s guaranteed in the Charter damn him!”

“Is there anything else I can get you sir?” asked the patiently waiting droid.

“No, why are you even still here? Get out of my sight, you sycophantic synth, before I have you disassembled.”

“As you say sir.”
The droid moved behind Eldrin, ensuring it was indeed “out of his sight”, then reached out, grabbed his head firmly in both hands and twisted it sharply to the right, then the left, letting the body collapse noisily onto the table before returning to its service cubicle, Malfunction light blinking rhythmically, to await further instructions.

After a few moments of shocked silence, the buzz of conversation restarted;

“…another bad programmer, there are so many irresponsible owners…”

“…you can’t expect them to work right if you don’t treat them right…”

“…you can’t blame the droid, it just wasn’t coded properly…”

“…this sort of thing won’t get better unless they bring in more defence droids…”


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The continuing saga of the IGV Alice Marie: 4. NASA 6…

Another day, another chapter in the life of the Starship Gypsies…

Starship Gypsies


Lazzaro left the med bay, stopping at a com panel on his way out.

“Bridge; Lazzaro, what the hell was that noise?”

“Not sure sir, we’re showing a hull breech in the cargo hold, but that can’t be right, the olefin team are down there monitoring the methane transfer.”

“I’ll head down that way and take a look,” said Lazzaro, “and see if you can raise ZT, he’s probably puffing on one of those bloody Jamaican Gold things of his, try somewhere in the garden. Lazzaro out.”

Eric Lazzaro was one of the few people who got to call the captain by his given name – the hated “Zachary” – but only when nobody else was listening. Although Toes had relented slightly when Lazzaro shortened it to ZT, (“Zee-tee”) he thought it sounded more military, Eric suspected, like the old soldiers in the captain’s vintage movies who used to call…

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Starship Gypsies: 3. Carli…

Here is a link to the latest installment of Starship Gypsies, “Carli”, and remember you can go to the widget menu to start at the very beginning…

Starship Gypsies


It was dark, but not the kind of darkness that you got because the lights were off, more the kind that came from wearing a blindfold or having your eyes screwed tight shut.

This must be one of those waking dreams, thought Carli, because I feel awake.
So, if I just open my eyes…

Ok, that didn’t seem to work, let’s try…

“Aha, the Cyclops lady is awake at last.”
The voice, somewhere very close by, made her jump

“Who’s there, where am I, what the hell is going on?”

“Well, to answer your questions in order; Eric, the med bay and ocular clone surgery.”

“Eric..?” The name was familiar, but to start with she couldn’t work out why, then it suddenly dawned on her, “Lazzaro, Eric Lazzaro? First Officer Lazzaro?”

“Correct on all three counts,” he said, the smile audible in his voice, “but you can call me…

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Starship Gypsies is go…


Before you start, no, that shouldn’t be “Starship Gypsies are go”, because Starship Gypsies is the name of the new blog from Jerry at Jdawgswords and myself, a completely new collaborative adventure in multi-contributor, multi-media fiction writing.

We have only been “live” for less than twenty four hours and have already been approached by a blogger who’s eager to participate in our experiment, so who knows where it might lead.

Jerry and I have so far written an episode each, of a tale that was originally his idea (although he hadn’t even considered collaborating on it, that was just an off the cuff suggestion from me that, like so many of these things, took on a life of its own and gathered momentum rather quickly) and that’s as far as we’ve got.

For now, I’ve crafted a rather lovely new WordPress site, (even though I do say so myself, which I do) with links and widgets and dropdown menu thingies, all glorious gloriously enhanced by some beautiful photos which (for now, at least) I’ve pinched from NASA.

The concept, if nothing else, is simple.
We extend an open invitation to all and sundry; anyone willing to contribute writing, illustrations, video, music, graphics, animation, anything at all that will add to the overall look, feel and content of “the project” will be welcome aboard.
The idea is to have a continuously evolving storyline that could go absolutely anywhere, in any number of formats.
And, as an added incentive to those of you out there who have always wanted to have a go at writing a blog, but haven’t been quite sure where to start, (exactly like me, three years ago in fact) well, we’ve already done all the hard work of setting up the site and getting the story off the ground, why not jump on our merry bandwagon and hit the ground running (excuse the mixed metaphor) by joining us on the IGV Alice Marie as we boldly go where no blogger has gone before.

Without a map.

So here it is, I hope you enjoy our new crowd-blogging collective as much as I’m looking forward to being involved in it.
Browse the new site using the widget menu on the About page, which you can find at the link below.

See you there…



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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: The Last Outpost…


Saturday Sunday means (a late) Stream of Consciousness fiction offering, so let’s see what Linda G Hill left us as a prompt today…

Ah, ok, ” “temp.”  Use a word with “temp” anywhere in it – beginning, middle or end – or use it as a word all on its own.”

Fair enough…

The Last Outpost.

The temperature in the corridor was always just the wrong side of cool, thought Ryskal as he hurried from the cryo-lab, eager to reach the more temperate climes of the bridge.
It wasn’t as if there was any need for the frigid atmosphere, scientifically speaking, but with the ship deserted apart from himself, there didn’t seem much point in wasting valuable life-support energy on luxuries like climate control.

He slowed his pace as he neared the access panel and reached for the security card that hung….. Ryskal looked down for the pass that he permanently carried on a lanyard around his neck and stopped.
The thin cord and its encrypted chip card that allowed access to every area of the ship was missing.

He froze, then turned and quickly retraced his steps down the chilly white corridor, trying to think of how and where he could have lost it.
He almost never took it off, not even when he showered was it more than a few feet away, it was that vital to him for getting around on the huge, empty research vessel.

As Ryskal approached the double airlock that led to the cryogenic facility, he realised with a sickening jolt that something wasn’t right. There was a figure slumped in the space between the two sliding glass doors that isolated the lab from other parts of the ship, seemingly unconscious but with one arm reaching toward the security panel that operated the exit controls.

He stopped in his tracks, his mind racing as it tried to make sense of what he was seeing.
This just couldn’t be. There were no other crew members on board.
He should know, he’d been alone on this floating experiment for long enough now that he knew every last chamber, duct and passageway by heart.

No, that couldn’t be it, the cloned Temps that they’d installed in cryo-stasis before he had boarded had all been in deep, biologically-induced comas since the ship had left the surface and nothing short of a serious life support malfunction or catastrophic failure in the ship’s structural integrity would cause them to be resuscitated ahead of schedule.

He couldn’t see the face of the immobile figure, his head was turned away, pressed up against the inner door to the lab, but he could just make out the loop of silver cord that lay against the back of the red jumpsuit that he wore.
His chip card!

How in the name of all the Founders had this stranger managed to gain possession of his pass, in just the few minutes since Ryskal had left the lab?

Kneeling down to give himself a better view of the unknown and unaccounted-for crew member, he tried to make out any signs of life, but could see no indication that the man was still breathing, or come any closer to identifying him for that matter.
He appeared to be roughly Ryskal’s build and height, but had noticeably thinning hair and the skin of the outstretched hand was lined and grey-looking, like that of an old man.

He stood up, keeping an eye on the body (there seemed no point in hoping the man was still alive, but some ingrained superstition wouldn’t let him look away) and tapped a few keys, entering the security override code on the holo-pad that glowed on the wall next to the airlock.
He was relieved when it instantly came to life under his fingers and ***CODE RECOGNISED * INSERT CHIP CARD*** scrolled across the display, but only because it meant the computer still recognised him, it didn’t get him any closer to accessing his pass or finding out how this interloper had taken it in the first place.

“None of this makes any sense,” he muttered to himself, as he stared through the reinforced glass of the airlock doors into the lab beyond, “I was only in there ten minutes ago, all I did was…,” his voice tailed off, suddenly seeming loud and hollow in the featureless white tube of the corridor.

All he did was…wait, what had he been doing?

He thought back, attempting to reconstruct the last half an hour in his head.
He’d been working in the lab…hadn’t he? Then he’d, what, entered the airlock?…then what?
With a rising sense of horror, he realised that the furthest back he could remember was making his way to the bridge and finding his chip card missing…

“Calm down,” Ryskal told himself, trying to control the feeling of panic that was threatening to sweep over him “there has to be a logical explanation for this. You’ve been working too hard, that’s all, it’ll come back to you in a second.”
But he didn’t sound convinced, not even to himself.

He forced his gaze back to the body in the airlock, wishing he could make out the dead man’s features, yet at the same time, terrified at what his identity would reveal.
There was something familiar about him, even from this angle, but for the moment it eluded Ryskal and he once more turned his attention to the holo-pad, automatically tapping in his personal identification number and waiting for the computer’s response.

He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t the message that flashed across the holo’s display:

Admittedly it was a while since he’d needed to use his ID code, the chip card granted him unlimited access without requiring additional clearance, but he was sure he’d input the correct series of numbers.

He re-typed the code, his fingers moving almost of their own volition to enter the digits that were so firmly embedded in his memory, and once again the unexplained message appeared; ***TEMP CODE ACCEPTED * RETINAL SCAN REQUIRED FOR ACCESS***

Ok, there was only way to solve this, if he was to convince the computer that he was indeed who he said he was, he needed it to compare his scan to the one in the ship’s personnel records, then perhaps he could access the ship’s systems and somehow open the outer airlock to retrieve his pass.

Ryskal took a step back from the panel, bent slightly so that his head was level with the scanning field and waited for the recognition software to validate his identity.

Of all the things that might have resulted from the scan, he was totally unprepared for what happened next;


There was a soft mechanical click and the door immediately slid smoothly open, the movement of the curved glass shifting the position of the prone figure so that he rolled over and lay face up on the floor of the airlock.

Ryskal stumbled back in shock as he looked down upon the desiccated mask of skin, stretched over the skull-like grimace of the dead man in front of him.
He managed to suppress a scream, clapping a hand over his mouth and staring in horror at the all-too-familiar face and the nametag on the red jumpsuit; Kalen Ryskal.


The Temp had no way of telling how long it stood, frozen to the spot, staring into the dead eyes, before its programming finally took over and began streaming the data back-up from the ship’s mainframe into its processors, but the residual emotions of its deceased Original faded from its memory circuits after only a few seconds.

It leaned down and removed the chip card from the dead crewman, fastening the lanyard securely round its own neck before stepping over the corpse, entering the lab and resealing the airlock.
The Temp walked past row upon row of cryogenic chambers, all but one containing cloned copies of the ship’s unfortunate Original and made for the bench where the flask of bio-chemical compounds stood, the one Kalen Ryskal had been working on before the leak of deadly toxins resulted in his death less than an hour previously.
It noted the results of the failed experiment, carefully disposed of the flask and started again.


Far below, the war-ravaged planet slowly turned, the long-dead population no longer in need of a weapon that would deliver them from their enemies. And all the while the forgotten research ship, with its sleeping, artificial crew and deadly cargo, continued its silent orbit through the endless night.


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Interesting new fiction project in the works…

So, here’s the thing.
I was scrolling through my WordPress reader yesterday when I came upon the latest post from Jerry at Jdawgswords, a blog I’ve been following for a while.

But this post was something different from his usual style, a seemingly unconnected extract from a sci-fi story that I hadn’t seen before, which I liked straight away.

I couldn’t say exactly what drew me to it, other than to say I like the “feel” of how it was written, so I left a comment to let him know it had made an impression on me in some intangible way and left it at that.
Much to my surprise, today I found that he had written a second segment of the story which he had introduced as having been prompted by my interest in part one.

I was very honoured that he’d do such a thing and told him how much I appreciated it.

Then I had an idea.

I suggested that maybe we could collaborate on the continuing adventure, perhaps by writing alternate chapters that could be improvised as we went along, just to see where it went.

The result of this spontaneous idea was a two hour video call in the early hours of the morning, or early in the evening, depending on your point of view, since he’s in Texas and I’m in England (prior to this we had never communicated directly) and we hit it off right away.

Now, this is so far just in the “hey, that’s a great idea, let’s do it” phase, but during our introductory conversation I honestly think we may have hit upon a rather interesting new project.

I am reposting his initial, as yet untitled, piece here, just to give you an idea of the setting and lead character (the excellently named “Captain Toes”) and we shall be having further discussions on what direction the project might take. But it seems likely that we will be asking for input from other bloggers and writers, each of whom could add their unique style to the mix.

As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for collaborations, so I’m really hoping this new scheme takes off and if it sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to have a go at, do please let Jerry or myself know, either here or at Jdawgswords.

Here then, is that opening salvo in full.
Make way for a new sci-fi hero…


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