Issue VIII -- Chesley Bonestell

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Read about the contributors to our eighth issue, based on the Chesley Bonestell painting Exploring the Moon by Earthlight, and see excerpts from each article or story.

Issue VIII Contents

Exploring the Earth by Moonlight -- Joe Murphy

Joe brings us a unique view of the fate of those explorers on the lunar pinnacle.

The Golf Ball and the Javelin -- Terry Bramlett

We had many submissions with stories linking the Chesley Bonestell theme to the Apollo missions. Terry combines that with the isolation of a family cast out of Lunar society.

Earthmen Will Believe Anything -- Greg Beatty

Being a celebrity and having a place on the tour schedule can be a challenge, so Julian looks for ways to tease the tourists.

Exploring the Earth by Moonlight by Joe Murphy © 2003 Joe Murphy

     The aggregate shudders from multiple impacts. Within its honeycomb of lunar glass and calcium bubbles, frightened twelve-legged harvesters scurry from crystal farms.  Latticers, their spinnerets bulging with liquid sealants, skitter through the tunnels toward the surface, frantic to fix the collapsing walls.

     "They're breaking through!" 3ringmind cries.  "They're crushing through the surface layers."

     "They?" Overmind asks.

     "They."  3ringmind's voice crackles with static.

       Sunnoise commonly causes such disruptions, Overmind knows, but this is no mere sunnoise. "I need an image."

     "We will help." The photonics' golden-voiced chorus fills Overmind. Out on the surface, photonic squadrons flicker and die, faithfully exchanging life for specific spectral measurements.

     The photonics send an image, which appears in Overmind's perceptions and the aggregate's communal thoughtcloud: the aggregate's surface, its reddish stone spire that rises above the surrounding regolith.  Immense upright objects, larger than Overmind, vaster than a trillion latticers or harvesters, move ponderously closer.

      "They," Overmind murmurs. 

     The phenomena trudge up the slope toward the spire, each moving upon two massive appendages that sink through the outer aggregate shell, deep into the lattice, crushing crystal farms and mineral factories, smashing production nodes and heat traps.   

Four gigantic behemoths, although during a static burst one turns away, vengefully retracing its path down the slope as if unsatisfied by the carnage.

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The Golf Ball and the Javelin by Terry Bramlett © 2003 Terry Bramlett

Terry Bramlett is a Mississippi science fiction and fantasy writer. He has been published in Speculon, Elysian fiction and contributed The Bubble Bursts to our first Mysteries issue.

The Apollo 14 site at Fra Mauro was one of the last sites to be salvaged. A few pieces would be sold to museums or individuals, but the market for moonshot memorabilia weakened. Everybody wanted Apollo 11 or Apollo 17 stuff, but the sites near Tranquility had been plundered. Raynard Green and Poppa made the long trek to Fra Mauro.

Raynard saw a flash of metal and wondered how any of the equipment ended up so far away from the landing site. Air moved across his skin as the temperature rose in the bulky suit. Sweat dampened his clothes and the recirculated air cooled him, but not quite enough. The old suit was in need of maintenance. Raynard made a mental note to check out the air-conditioning unit. He keyed the microphone.

     “Poppa, I’m going toward the crater.” His father waved and continued hooking the chains around the LEM. The mining unit RomMiner stood behind Poppa silhouetted against the black sky. A half-earth hung over the lunar landscape.

Raynard smiled and bounced toward the crater. Salvaging the old equipment was against the law, but the Rom followed different rules. Gajikano laws covered the gadje, protected the gadje, not the Rroma. The Rroma followed rulings of the Kris and, two years ago, the Kris banished Poppa and his familiya.

Marime’, ritual banishment, he thought. We are nonpersons in our own community.

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Earthmen Will Believe Anything © 2003 Greg Beatty

            “I’m telling you, Derek, they’ll buy it. Earthmen will believe anything.”

            Pat waited for his words to reach his friend and return, then saw his friend’s face, which had been waiting in customary time-lag politeness, crease into a smile.

            “You forget I’m one of them,” Derek said.

            Pat waved one liver-spotted hand. “You’re different. You know better. Remember the time those two bigwigs were in from Tokyo inspecting all the plants in the Midwest, and I ran the foreman’s lunch box through the assembly line? You were the only one smart enough to look at me, because I wasn’t laughing.”

            After a few seconds, Derek shrugged in agreement. “But won’t the tour company pull your gig for this?”

            “Maybe. Who cares? With my pension, Marybelle’s insurance, and the machine work that will always need done, I’ve got enough to get by. And besides, they’ll probably just take me off the tour for a while. I’m too good an advertisement for them to completely ditch me.”  Pat’s voice grew husky with bitterness. “‘See the oldest living loonie! See how the moon men live! See what the moon does for heart patients!’”

            Derek’s dark face nodded. “I know a bit about being a symbol.”

            Pat waved his hand, embarrassed he’d let his frustration show. “I’ll leave the screen on passive receipt, then?”

            When Derek nodded, Pat called, “Passive.” The panel reverted to its screensaver mode of Chesley Bonestell’s “Exploring the Moon by Earthlight.” Pat moved about his apartment, straightening and organizing. Eight years, and he still hadn’t gotten used to Marybelle’s absence. The only thing that kept him going were the occasional prank, the fact that the young bucks here on the moon took his mechanical skills seriously, and the dreams he’d nursed since he was a boy back in Ohio. He’d put those dreams aside when they’d married, but now that Marybelle was gone, they haunted him once again. He glanced at one of the few mementos he’d brought up from Earth with him, a flying saucer with a little green man peering out of a window. When were they going to get here?

            His doorbell rang and lit. Was the air pressure so low that the bell was lighting automatically, Pat wondered as he glided to the door. I’ll have to look at that. Then he was opening the door, reflexively checking the emergency airlock as he did so.  

            “…like many of our residents, Pat Miller is a lifer. In fact, since his heart condition makes it impossible for him to live on Earth any longer, and the rest of the system would require too long in weightlessness, you could call him a lunar native. Well, hello Pat! May we come in?”

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