Friday, May 26, 2017

Thoughts on the Terminator franchise

I was in college in the mid to late 90’s, back when this newfangled internet thing was just getting going.  One of my friends who knew I was a fan of both Terminator movies, somehow found this script online.  Basically, a guy wrote up his idea for Terminator 3 and put it online in the hope that if enough people read and enjoyed it, the studio would make it.  I think my friend only read the first few pages, but was curious what I thought of it.

I read the hundred pages or so, and from what I remembered, some years after Terminator 2 John is in college and Sarah is dating someone and trying to get her life in order.  But then two T-1000s are sent back, and I believe a good T-800 also shows up.  The good one leads them to an old fallout shelter and Judgment Day happens.  They stay in the shelter for a year or so, and I think over the radio start setting up the Resistance.  They finally blow up the time machine and there’s a whole mess of timey-wimey stuff, the world isn’t destroyed, and Kyle is alive again and married to Sarah.  John and Sarah are the only ones who remember the alternate timeline, and it ends with Kyle going to work for Cyberdyne and he carpools with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Patrick.  If any of you remember this story, I’m kind of curious what happened to the guy who wrote it.

Anyway, the story was pretty much garbage.  I don’t fully remember the details, but I have a vague memory of the dialogue being horrid, the tone being off, and the ending being completely stupid, in the sense of “Just throw everything at the wall and hope nobody asks any questions.”

So a couple of movie reviewers I watch recently talked about great movies and spent some time on the first two Terminators.  I started thinking about this old story where a good terminator leads them to a fallout shelter, they start the Resistance, and then this timey-wimey bullshit ending.  And then I realized, That’s Rise of the Machines, Salvation, and Genisys.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Possible Futures – The neighborhood terrorist

In the majority of these Possible Futures posts, I’ll talk about wondrous things that will make our lives better and easier.  But not all possible futures are so rosy.  For example, I’ve talked about genetically modified plants to produce items to be used around the home.  (See Firewood trees and Plastic plants.)  While I do believe that genetically modified organisms could – and hopefully will – drastically change life for the better, I don’t want it to seem like I’m complete blasé about the matter and that genetically modified organisms could only be used for good.  And that’s a key thing I think many people forget when it comes to genetically modified organisms.  Technology is neither good nor bad, it’s how it’s used.  For example, a rocket that launches a weather satellite to help better predict the path of hurricanes, could also launch a nuke to anywhere in the world.

Genetically modified organisms can be used to increase food production, create medicines, provide useful items around the house, and they could be used by some nutjob to unleash a plague.  Biological warfare is not new.  In days of old they’d catapult the corpses of plague victims into a besieged town, but nowadays it’s a bit more sophisticated.  As the technology to modify organisms gets better, and cheaper, the day may come when the guy down the block stops making meth and downloads the DNA of Ebola and gets to work.  You may say that there are rules and regulations about biological agents, but what happens when the “arms” we’re allowed to keep and bear are extended to mutated anthrax, you know, for duck hunting?


An earlier version of this post appeared on Persona Paper in January 2015.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Short story – “Dad”

The other day, It’s Okay To Be Smart posted a video asking Are We All Related?  It talks about our ancestors and how, if we could accurately trace all of our family trees back thousands of years, we’d find that all people now living share a common ancestor from about three thousand years ago.  This is nothing new.  I heard about this just over ten years ago, and I wrote a story about it.  The story was published on a friend’s website, which I don’t think has been updated in about five years.  I figured, what the hell, I should revise the story and repost it.  So here is the revised version of “Dad.”


The girl tied to the overturned cart screamed and called out to gods who did not respond.  Whether she cried more for her father – whose cooling body lay before her – what the ragged stranger was doing to her older sister, or the fear of her own fate, could not be determined.

Two men in flowing robes, unseen to the girls and the stranger, stood in their stealth bubble watching the scene with disgust.  The younger man, pointing to the man raping the girl, turned to his companion and asked, “Havol, are you sure it’s him?”

“Yes Seriton, the genetic scan is conclusive.” After a short pause Havol continued, “What did you expect?  A scholar?”

“No.”  Seriton looked to the ground.  “I figured we would just find an illiterate farmer.  Not this.”

The stranger finished with the girl and left her, bloody and crying, lying beside the road.  He ran back to the cart and began jumping around and screaming obscenities.  The younger girl cringed away from him and tried to hide behind her arms.  The stranger picked up the body of the father and began swinging it around.  Whether he was trying to dance with it or have sex with it, the watchers could not tell.

Seriton shook his head, “I know we can’t do anything, but…”

“You’ve answered your own question,” Havol said.  “We can’t do anything.  Nearly a tenth of the world, and you yourself, are descendant from the son,” here he gestured at the crumpled form of the oldest sister, “she will bear in nine months.”

“It’s…” Clenching his fist, Seriton said, “To travel back four thousand years, searching for the last man from whom all humans alive are descendant from, only to find he is a killer and a rapist, it’s ….”

Havol held his chin in his hand for several seconds.  “To be completely dispassionate and objective, being a rapist was probably the way he managed to have so many children.”

Seriton turned and stared at the older man.  “That is a very depressing and disturbing thought.”

“The truth often is.” Turning away from the depraved scene, Havol continued, “Come, we have everything we came for.  It is time we returned.  Everyone will want to know how our search for ‘The Father of Humanity’ has gone.”

“And what will we tell them?”

Without answering Havol activated the machine, and the two time traveling researchers returned home.

The stranger had dropped the body of the father, and grabbed a jug of wine that was unbroken.  He drank deeply, although a large portion missed his mouth, washing a minuscule part of the grime from his face.  Once fortified, he grabbed the second girl.