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Fiction: 5(n) Guys

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The mad scientist’s cloning machine was complete! He’d tested it (on himself, naturally) and the five replicas were perfect. They weren’t quite as brilliant as he was, but they were healthy, and loyal.
But he was out of funds to continue his research.
Some time later, a car pulled up to the drive-through at a local burger joint.
“Greetings! Recite your demands into the listening device!”
The driver pulled through and picked up their order. As she turned back into traffic, she turned to her passenger.
“You ever notice how the guys at this place all look the same?”

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
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Fiction: The Invader

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The mech suit rumbled along the sandy track, making more noise than the pilot liked. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. The foundation of the colony was supposed to be glorious, even easy!
He had been assured that the locals would be either awed by their technological majesty or cowed by their firepower. So why was he the only unit left?
He spotted something laying in the road and paused. It was a broken toy, a mech suit action figure with the arms and legs ripped off. By the time the message registered, it was already too late.

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Fiction: After the Accident

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“How long has it been since we crashed on this god-forsaken planet,” the old man asked his robot companion.
“Forty-one years, nine months, twelve days, and… my apologies, my chronometer isn’t so accurate these days.”
“And no hope of rescue.”
The robot shrugged. “That’s the danger of superluminal exploration. Our distress signal won’t reach human space for another hundred years.”
“At least you’ll still be there to tell them what happened,” the human said. They didn’t have the heart to tell him the only thing that kept them going was the man’s maintenance, something they couldn’t do themself.

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Fiction: The 5th Gender

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The 5th Gender: A Tinkered Stars Mystery
Written by G. L. Carriger
Published by the author
Reviewed from an Advance Reader Copy

5th Gender Cover

The Skinny: A sweet, fluffy queer sci-fi romance with a few bits of mystery thrown in for good measure.

Alien diplomat Tistol and space station security detective Drey Hastion have been making eyes at each other for months. But just as they finally get together, to the mutual relief of their friends and coworkers, Drey gets a case that he’ll need his new romantic partner’s help with. A ship from Tristol’s notably reclusive home world has arrived, and there has been a murder, something so unthinkable in Tris’s society as to be unprecedented.
Going in, I was worried that this book was trying to do too much, but the author comes through with flying colors. Carriger, who may be better known for her best-selling steampunk adventures, brings her characteristic sense of style and dry wit to this romantic cozy mystery. The Galloi are a fascinating and well realized species. The sex scenes are well written and feel natural.
As a cozy, there isn’t a lot of tension in this book. Even places where I expected there to be, such as Tris’s naive misunderstanding of human gender and racial concepts is breezily but respectfully handled. Although as a cis-gendered white man, it’s not my place to make final judgement on that. Drey’s space station seems much more of a utopian one than Carriger’s Dickensian Wheel in Crudrat, which is implied to share a universe. But the story is charming and sexy, with delightful characters you’ll want to see more of when you get to the back cover.
The 5th Gender is directly available from The Author’s Website, as well as Amazon, the usual online stores, and can be ordered by Your Local Independent Bookshop.
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Hugh Likes Comics: Ascender

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Ascender #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dustin Nguyen
Lettered by Steve Wands
Published by image

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The Skinny: In a galaxy ruled by a despotic witch, a young girl dreams of freedom.

Even though I’ve never read Descender, the long-running science fiction series to which this book serves as a sequel, I’m still intrigued by the premise. In a galaxy where technology is outlawed, the universe is under the control of a powerful witch. Raised in isolation by her father, a girl
Most of the first issue of Lemire and Nguyen’s Ascender is table-setting. As someone coming in fresh, I was captivated by the world building, with hints of a growing rebellion and a compelling space fantasy premise. We spend most of the episode with the authoritarian Mother and her cronies and henchmen as she plots to keep her iron grip on the universe in the face of a mysterious opposition. The mystery here is strong enough to make up for the lack of movement in the plot, and we get a good look at how bad life is under this regime.
Nguyen’s art is the real star of the show, though. Everything is done in a beautiful watercolor style. it’s more intimate and graceful than your average story about space magic, and it lends something unique and resonant to the book. It contrasts the brutality of the regime by painting it in soft blues and grays. Each page has something surprising and gorgeous in the midst of horror.
Much like Star Wars, Ascender #1 starts at the lowest point of an ongoing story, but invites the audience in on a new adventure to save the galaxy from the forces of darkness. I’m 100% on board. You can find it in floppies at your local comics shop, or digitally from Comixology.
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Fiction: Morning Announcements

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“Attention Colony Citizens: We regret to inform you that the book signing scheduled for today at ten-hundred hours in Book Depot C, Helmets Off: What Colony Administration Doesn’t Want You To Know About The Great Brain Parasite Hoax by Clint Voss has been cancelled due to an unforeseen schedule conflict. We would like to apologize to Mr. Voss’s readers, and will announce a new date as soon as possible. Thank you, and have a wonderful day.”
“In an unrelated matter, would the Brain Parasite Decontamination Team please report to the C-Block Staging Center immediately for a routine meeting?”

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoyed this story, why not support my work by buying me a coffee?
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Fiction: The Murderbot Diaries

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“All Systems Red”
“Artificial Condition”
“Rogue Protocol”
“Exit Strategy”
Written by Martha Wells
Read by Kevin R. Free
Published by tor.com

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The Skinny: A coming of age story told from the killer robots point of view.

In a corporation controlled far future, planetary exploration is considered so dangerous that terminator-like cyborgs called Sec Units are contracted to keep teams safe. Murderbot is one such sec unit, and they’ve recently hacked their own system to give themselves free will. They aren’t finding it as great as they had hoped they would, so they’ve decided to watch TV instead.
The Murderbot Diaries are a collection of four darkly funny novellas about what it means to be human. No, what it actually means to be human. After deactivating the module that demands compliance, Murderbot is free, but in order to not get scrapped, that mostly means they’re able to download endless hours of soap operas to their internal feed. Murderbot doesn’t want to be human, but as they investigate an incident involving an attack on his most recent clients, and their own redacted memory, they may find that they don’t have a choice.
The Murderbot Diaries are a very modern sort of robot story. It’s everything that Star Trek isn’t, with a dangerous, corporate-controlled life amongst the stars and a robotic protagonist that not only doesn’t want to be more human, but actively wants to be left alone. It delves into issues of neuro-diversity and the ubiquity of social media from interesting directions. Prickly, sarcastic Murderbot isn’t ‘likable,’ but they are certainly entertaining.
I listened to these books as a series of audiobooks read by Kevin R. Free. Free’s performance is outstanding, and he brings Murderbot and the other characters to life in a completely engaging way. These are short audiobooks, but this production makes them worth every credit.
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