Monday, 13 August 2007

Felix and the Frontier - Part Three


Felix and the Frontier is a story told in six episodes, posted serially by me, your resident purveyor of free neutrons, Cheeseburger Brown.

Related reading: Simon of Space, Free Felix, Life & Taxes

Preview follows:



3/6

Felix is very excited. The next candidate world he steps into has liquid water oceans, and he spends a moment standing outside the gatehouse on a windswept cliff, smelling the salty air from the sea.

A spectacular aurora fades in the north -- scarlet, streaked by violet, encompassing a third of the sky. Felix wonders whether anything could live under such a fierce bath of cosmic rays.

The sun is rising, a cheerfully fat red giant with strands of arcing fire glinting at its edges, its face festooned by sunspots. The sky turns yellow, then a vivid orange that glimmers with wide, diffuse decks of suspended dust.

The newest parts of Felix shine in the ruddy morning light, but most of him is too tarnished to reflect. His armour is a mottled brown and grey collage of repairs and stains, cracks and scratches. A dew of antibiotic drips from his arm, leaving tracks in the grime.

An insect whizzes by Felix's head. He blinks, tracking it with a smile. It's a tiny, flitting thing with an exoskeleton and two pairs of translucent double wings. "I've got a good feeling about this place," Felix says to no one in particular, made heady by the promise of this rich ecosystem.

Uncomfortable with the idea of another aquatic adventure, he turns on heel and walks directly away from the water, proceeding down an escarpment of fallen boulders and gullies of rock layered in jagged bands of deep black and stark white. More winged insects buzz about.

He climbs out of a gully and thrills to see a rolling purple prairie extending before him. The inky grasses wave in the wind, rippled whorls chasing one another to the hazy horizon. Felix takes a sample stalk and examines it, delighted to find familiar green chlorophyll working along with a novel molecule bound to a dark, nearly black, pigment to absorb the widest spectrum from the fat red star's feeble light.

Felix makes a note.

He wades deeper into the prairie. He notices bands of baldness where no grasses grow, and tracks them back to the seaside cliffs where they seem to correlate with the zebra stripes in the rock face. "Curious," says Felix...

To read the complete novella get it for Kindle!

23 comments:

Simon said...

The simple story of an interstellar surveyor got a whole lot more complicated in a hurry, eh?

I loved the "...good feeling about this," line. That right there set the whole episode up. Sort of amusing and tragic to see a small, cute People being decimated by what amounts to racism, and armed with nuclear weapons. The bit about the sacred snuggling was funny, too. I think I might use that one with my wife.

I think The Atomic Badgers would make a great band name.

sheik yerbouti said...

Beware the atomic badgers.

Now that's worthy of a t-shirt!

Once again, good sir, your creativity astounds and delights.

SaintPeter said...

Why do I suspect that you wrote this entire section just so you could say "Beware the atomic badgers"?

I laughed out loud. I got funny looks.

Felix rocks!

Teddy said...

Ewoks. Ewoks with nukes. I particularly enjoyed the depleted-uranium enhanced arrowheads. Primitive weapons don't necessarily need to be primitive.

We seem to be seeing various advancements in life and society. That is a good question though, what if we had had nuclear-based technology a millenium ago? Would we have gotten through it then, in a less scientifically enlightened age? I think no.

TRH

Bridget said...

"It's pronounced Fe-lix."

I think I adore him. Nope, correction, I know I do.

Good to come home from vacation to find a couple new story installments waiting. Sounds like your vacation was about as "relaxing" as mine.

Mark said...

This chapter was simultaneously long and fulfilling.

That sounded kinky.

But, really, it had wonderful characters, and especially the part where Felix says, "It's pronounced Fe-lix." Just classic.

He's such a nice guy, but with such confidence when he knows it's warranted. Rare type of fellow, that.

I knew the last line before I read any of the rest, because I copy, paste, and print each installment. I have to squint better next time.

Orick of Toronto said...

It is wonderful to come back from my vacation to this wonderful story. Atomic Muskets, depleted uranium arrows, and of course Felix! Made me dread work less.

The line that cracked me up in this chapter is "He clutches a musket to his chest, chewing on its handle for comfort.

one part didn't make sense, Felix realized that was atomic weapons being fired at him earlier but he didn't stop the nuclear reaction and had to run instead.

Yeah, I thought of ewoks with atomic weapons too.

I didn't check how many chapters there are at first. So when I got to the end, I thought that was it and was a bit sad Felix didn't help the people. Then I realized there are 3 more chapters.

CodeWright said...

orick:

i don't think felix will be helping the People any more... he's already done more than he felt he should.

---

mruyob: a soviet secret service chavver.

Sith Snoopy said...

"Beware the atomic badgers."

That's going in my email signature. :)

sheik yerbouti said...

Orick, I wondered that too; maybe he was stunned and not thinking clearly on the run...? He seems a bit more easily surprised -- i.e. less observant -- than, say, Jeremiah... which all fits my theory quite nicely :)

CBB, is there a link to the store somewhere? I would have figured it'd be either on your blog or on the main Cheeseburger site, but so far it has eluded me.

Hopefully Cingular works at the beach, so I can read Chapter 4 on my BlackJack tomorrow night! Then again, my wife has just turned over our copy of HP 7 so Felix may have to wait... decisions, decisions!

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Simon,

Yes indeed, with their bigotry and explosions the People have a long way to go if they're ever to become peers of the Neighbourhood. I'm not sure if we'll see them again, but anything's possible.

Dear Sheik,

If someone seconds the notion, I'll find some time to do it up in T-shirt form.

Dear SaintPeter,

I can't deny it. It's true.

Dear Teddy,

We are indeed witnessing a progression along a continuum, which should, when all's said and done, tie in nicely with the ultimate theme of this story.

Dear Bridget,

It has become plain to me that "family vacation" and "relaxation" are terms thoroughly unacquainted with one another.

Dear Mark,

Oh yes, I too know the sting of seeing what you didn't want to see while copy-pasting. Next time I'll be sure to bury the puchline in the middle of a paragraph for camouflage!

Dear Orick,

Felix is more...cavalier, perhaps, then a specimen like Jeremiah. He is less methodical and more improvisational. When the blasts were aimed at his heels the simplest, more instinctive thing for him to do was to run away.

To afford him additional credit, it is also plausible that Felix was unwilling to flex his secret muscle until he had a firmer idea of what was going on.

Dear Codewright,

Quite right. In the next chapter Felix will visit yet another new world, leaving the People behind to be investigated more thoroughly by others.

Dear Sith Snoopy,

Cool!

Again Sheik,

The store is linked in cheeseburger menu that appears on the top and/or bottom of most content pages on the main site.

Meanwhile: I'm very busy at work so the likelihood of having Chapter 4 ready for Thursday is low, sadly. More likely a Friday post. So, your decision is made: dive into the Potter.

I enjoyed the last Potter installment, myself. I'm sure you'll pound through it in no time at all and be back here with us to catch up with Felix.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Teddy said...

re the new HP book:

Snape kills trinity with rosebud.

TRH

sheik yerbouti said...

Thanks, Teddy; you just saved me at least three nights of reading!

CBB, I appreciate the heads-up. As it turns out, my own work is so busy that we're pushing our vacation back yet another day (we were supposed to leave Wednesday), so I wouldn't be able to relax and enjoy it yet anyway. Grumble grumble and all that.

Then again, as you've already pointed out, taking three small children to the beach isn't exactly a picnic (except in the literal sense as we'll be bringing food out there).

Anonymous said...

Cheeseburger,

Now that Harry Potter is over, could you write a "darthside" type blog, from the perspective of Snape? No one else could do it as beautifully as you....

Please?

Anonymous said...

I second the notion for the t-shirt.

Also, please for the love of god leave the Snape idea alone. We all know it would be brilliant if you did it, but I am so hooked on the burgerverse that if you took time away from it to write Snape I'd crack just a little bit more than my cushy state job would allow.

-Tomas

Anonymous said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and hypothesize that we will not be seeing a Snape blog from CBB, ever.

maltese parakeet said...

third on the t-shirt.

Simon said...

Yes, the Snape thing would be thoroughly engaging from the perspective of the fella who wrote the Darth Side, and the Ad Sense potential is certainly there with the audience that could be drawn in... but CBB has to think: WWJD?

(What Would Jeremiah Do?)

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear all,

I'll add the t-shirt to my to-do mass which, in the interest of full disclosure, I should note currently resembles a rabid hydra. Due to a confluence of vacation time I'm the only fellow manning my department at work this week, and I'm being squeezed pretty hard.

Hence, in the interests of maintaining quality I won't be posting the next chapter tomorrow as hoped. I think I could stay up late and push myself to finish it tonight, but considering the girth and depth of the thing I think it needs more than a cursory re-read before it's ready for the limelight.

Like so many stories, this one is ending up a fair bit fatter than originally conceived.

Meanwhile, we're ramping up for fun and/or potential humiliation at the upcoming SFX 2007 SciFi Expo (see News in the sidebar). I've received my banner and business cards and stickers and a quantity of books. There are still some things to work out. I'm nervous and excited.

By the bye, I'm obliged to say that, for a variety of reasons, we won't be seeing any Harry Potter fan-fiction from Cheeseburger Brown. And that's all I have to say about that.

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

sheik yerbouti said...

1) Yeah, no Snape. It just doesn't have the cultural gravitas that one expects from everyone's favorite whiny-bratty-white-boy-transformed
-into-a-big-deep-voiced-black-man.

2) Workloads can suck. I finally get to leave on our five-day family vacation Friday morning, two days later than planned. Believe it or not, I like my job.

3) Yay for the t-shirt! Now I just have to sell some goodies at my night job and I'll be headed over, virtual cash in hand.

4) I'm getting pretty excited about this next chapter, given CBB's Rowling-esque tendency to get more verbose and detailed as the series goes on.

Teddy said...

Felix nods. "We prevailed, against that and worse." He pauses, looking up into the bright orange sky at the point he knows the Solar Nebula lies. "Much worse," he says somberly.

It suddenly struck me that by now, earth has been obliterated, destroyed by Tim's Bomb. Odd to think of it that way...

TRH

gl. said...

it took me a while to get into this story, but this chapter got me hooked. felix is adorable. you wrote he taps the side of his head while saying "good day to you madam," and though i know he was inhibiting nuclear reactions, it made me think he was doing a little polite salute.

vcokcq: the curse words i'm using as i'm trying to restore my computer.

Bridget said...

Ooooh, Bikes of New York as a novella!

And the cover illustration, she is nice.

That, and the remaining two issues of Collected Vinyar Tengwar, should round of that shelf of books nicely, yes indeed.