Set in the future when humanity has populated the solar system, a series of news items from this bizarre dystopia.
Credit to JR for coming up with the original idea of an intergalactic newspaper, I went quite mad with it and had a lot of fun.
Heliomass reporting from Callisto
The people of Tindr City (located in the popular Callisto resort crater) have had a problem. Their city is overrun with half blind pigeons unable to land without causing havoc in the so called “City of Life 2b”. And, the local government has a plan to help them touch down with style.
Callisto pigeons are distant cousins of their earth counterparts. Whilst retaining much of the same appearance as their long lost cousins from Earth, they appear about three times bigger. They have greatly enhanced intelligence, but as a result of their bigger brain size, their eyesight is very poor. A common experience is to see many of these “uber-pigeons” attempting to land on buildings and surfaces, but instead hitting people and properties, as well as regularly colliding with each other in a mid-air shower of feathers.
After decades of abortive pigeon landings and several highly publicized fatalities (both human and bird), the Callisto government has invested in a sophisticated air traffic control system for the pigeons. Landing pigeons must be at least one nautical mile apart at all times, and at peak times pigeons are held in a queuing stack above the small commuter town of Truxton, just outside Tindr.
It’s this last issue that has given rise to considerable controversy. The inhabitants of sleepy Truxton have been waking up every morning to a blanket of pigeon excrement caused by the pigeons circling overhead waiting for their slot to land. Mrs Jameson, an agitated local shopkeeper is at the end of her tether.
“Every morning we wake up to the same sights. It’s disgusting. I need a shovel in order to find my car. You know, I used to tell my daughter that it was snow. But she’s a bright girl and soon realized that it never snows on Callisto. So, now I tell her it’s ash from the local volcano.”
Zoologist Prof. Michael Yandleson explained to us the effects of biology involved. “The thing is, Callisto’s pigeon species varies greatly from its distant earth ancestor. As an evolutionary trade-off for a bigger brain, its digestive tract is less than a third of the size it should be. This results in an almost constant expulsion from the large intestine.”
So, is the new air traffic control system a success? The jury’s still out, but no one can deny, it’s a marvellous thing to see nature and science working side by side. If only they’d realized this two centuries ago, and the original Earth pigeon might still be with us today.
Heliomass reporting from Earth
This month marks the 100th anniversary of the day a human built shuttle first flew past the Oort cloud. To commemorate this event, we present a special extract from the recently discovered autobiography of Sir William Kessler, owner of the shuttle’s sole occupant: Smoky the cat.
It was only two weeks into Smoky’s training for the mission that I started to have doubts. Was it his unusually quiet demeanour? Perhaps it was the fact that his previously ravenous appetite had taken a leave of absence. Or, maybe it was the cybernetic implants which had replaced most of his internal organs. I felt compelled to intervene on his behalf with the utmost expediency.
When I arrived at SASA headquarters, I was greeted with a cold cup of coffee, and an even colder atmosphere. Demanding to be taken to Smoky’s quarters at once, I was forced to knock unconscious several employees until the expedition’s director finally came to show me in. He took me through the long winding corridors of SASA’s HQ to see my beloved cat.
Once there, I was taken aback at the sheer bizarreness of the sight which greeted me. Wall to wall, there were cages. And within each one sat a cat identical to Smoky. For all I knew, one of them was indeed the cat whom I’d formed a bond with so long ago, as I dragged his weakened frame from the tar pits of Jupiter. However, I could not tell the facsimiles from the original feline. What foul scientific madness was at play here I wondered?
Sir William Kessler is perhaps the most famous inhabitant of Saturn’s third ring. His family were the first people to colonize an asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. A renowned philanthropist; he donated most of his savings to helping victims of Saturn’s ninth cold war with Neptune. He also started Saturn’s tenth cold war with Neptune. An intrepid explorer, he put forward his cat Smokey for the mission, as he was too tired to go himself. His autobiography was unearthed six months ago by an expedition team to one of Saturn’s moons, and it goes on sale next month.
Heliomass reporting from Io
It was a momentous occasion when man took to the stars. If you left Earth when you were 20 years old, and arrived at Io before you were due to retire, you’d made good time.
Now, with the advent of close to light speed drives, it’s possible to make the journey in just two weeks (depending on traffic), and it’s these speeds and high traffic volumes that lead to the introduction of the Interstellar Traffic Control of Highways, or ITCH.
Lately, ITCH’s traffic control system has fallen under the critical spotlight. When installed, their traffic lights didn’t take into account the effects of blue-shift, meaning that on approach to a red traffic light at high speed, the driver can mistakenly see it as green, fail to stop and crash into one of Saturn’s rings.
The most recent occurrence to hit the media spotlight involved a two light-month pile-up near Mars, as drivers failed to break for the traffic lights.
ITCH has promised to look into the problem, but say they won’t overhaul the aged system until “the body count reaches significant proportions”.
Heliomass reporting from Uranus
If you’re sitting an exam this summer on Uranus, you should be prepared for new steps to be added to the examination process.
Currently, a student sitting a two hour module exam can expect to have to turn up at least seven hours in advance of the exam’s staring time. This is to allow time for decontamination procedures. Students are permitted to enter the exam hall three hours before the start of the exam in order to fill out their attendance forms. These must all be submitted to the invigilators an hour before the start of the exam, when they are checked for errors. If any mistakes are discovered, the student is removed from the exam hall and expected to resit the entire year’s worth of modules.
Some student unions are complaining that by the time the exam commences, those that are still there are exhausted and unable to focus on passing the paper. In a student’s final year of their course, they can expect to sit up to fourteen exams, each requiring at least nine hours of attendance. Examinations are timed so as not to overlap, but as students are refused entry to the exam if they don’t turn up seven hours ahead of the start, this often makes it impossible for them to pass all of their modules.
The increasingly commercially driven Uranus government has realised that students are a prime target for advertising, and so have added in 30 minutes of televised adverts before the start of each exam, bringing the time a student needs to arrive at the exam hall to seven and a half hours before the beginning of the exam.
Some examinees have decided that being a student is more of a life-style choice than anything else, and so have chosen to invest in a camping tent and a year’s supply of freeze-dried food. This is to allow them to set up camp at their exam desk for the duration of the year.
Heliomass reporting from Pluto
“It’s too much fun!”. These were the final words of the latest victim of the happy-joy virus.
Samuel Winner was just that; A winner. A real rags to riches story, he’d built a small Plutonian software empire up from nothing. A loving wife and three children later, he’d achieved a self made utopia.
But, all that came to an end as he installed Cyclo-Tech’s newest wetware upgrade into his brain. The new software version promised improved well being and a 2% increase to frontal lobe functions. However, it also came with an undocumented extra; a human software virus designed to kill its host with love.
Detailed research has shown that there’s only so much love a human brain can take before it turns in on itself and shuts down. The Plutonian administration is looking in to how such an ironic virus could have gotten by Cyclo-Tech’s stringent safety checks, but in the prophetic words of a 20th century rock band “Too much love can kill you.”
Heliomass reporting from Pluto
Public transport has always been an issue for the inhabitants of Pluto. Not exactly known for their outgoing character, most Plutonians tend to stay at least 2000 metres away from each other at all times.
As a result, the Plutonian Transport Infrastructure Corporation (PTIC) suffers from a severe logistical problem when building trains. In order to take into account the average Plutonian’s need for personal space, they find that the size of a single carriage designed to carry up to 200 Plutonians can result in one person’s seat in the car being in exactly the place that another person on the other side of the carriage is trying to get to. This can prove frustrating for some, as a 2 mile journey to work by train can often result in an additional 3 miles’ walk at the other end.
Analysts on other worlds have suggested that rather than building ever bigger trains, PTIC should spend their money on sending their passengers to group therapy sessions in order to help them reduce their personal zones down to a sensible size.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. When looking for a mate, Plutonians have been known to reduce their personal zones to 500 metres, in order to cast a wink at a prospective suitor from the other side of the town. PTIC are currently looking into incorporating pheromone generators into their train carriages in order to cram more people in. Trials start in a couple of months.
Heliomass reporting from Neptune
Uranus based carrier Layzee-Go is beginning a new budget route between Uranus and Neptune next year. A single journey is remarkably cheap, clocking in at little more than you’d expect to pay for an evening newspaper. With the current boom in budget carriers, how is it Layzee-Go can afford to outdo the competition with such extreme?
The answer lies in the small print at the bottom of every ticket; You’ll get to your destination in one piece… provided you don’t freeze to death or end up cooked meat. Atmospheric controls within the shuttle are set to a random value, and whilst most flights will just be distinctly uncomfortable, one third of them will end in frozen tears.
“We want to provide an affordable service to our customers, but the catch comes when we have to find a way to cover fuel costs.” says Layzee-Go boss Armando Rialdo. “By ensuring that 1 in 3 of our customers doesn’t reach their destination alive, we can recycle their bodies back into the fuel system to drive the next flight out. This is what keeps costs down and customer satisfaction high.”
The odds are good that you won’t end up experiencing the extreme temperatures that can kill a man. But, even if you do find yourself being burnt alive in transit, you can rest easy that you nabbed a good deal on your ticket to the afterlife.
Heliomass reporting from Mars
Sources on Mars are claiming that the local government has begun putting into effect a drive to encourage healthy eating amongst its citizens.
The average inhabitant of Mars currently suffers from a lack of vitamin intake in their diet. A recent survey demonstrated the wide spread deficiency of vitamin C in the average citizen, when 62% of those interviewed admitted to using super glue to keep their gums attached to their mouth.
A representative from the Earth based glue manufacturer said “Whilst we feel the citizens of Mars should be taking better care of themselves, we don’t really see a problem with many of them using our product as a substitute for fresh fruit and vegetables. After all, carrots don’t grow on trees you know!”
In response to this epidemic of poor eating habits, the government has been engineering their apple trees to grow the local currency in their apple cores, rather than pips. They hope that this will encourage people to get their “5-a-day”, and make some pocket money in the process.
In spite of this initiative, there are those who feel that the root cause of the problem needs to be looked at in greater detail. Spiritualist and pseudo-psychologist Lord Kimbo III told us “People have grown afraid of nature. They see a tree, and they start crying. How can we expect them to get close enough to pick off an orange and eat it? The government’s plan to put money in the centre of apples is all very well, but what if someone chokes on the small change?”
The debate may rage on, but the super glue corporation on earth is already working on a retro-virus to wipe out all fruit producing trees on Mars. “Nature is a business competitor too.” said the spokesperson for the super glue company “And we will defend ourselves against any competition, even Mother Nature.”
Heliomass reporting from Ganymede
The excitement just went up a gear, as the Annual Ganymede Olympics hit it’s fourth day, charging to life like a half mutilated bull mistaking a brick wall for a cow in heat.
Saturn’s favourite Simon Clement took the lead in the zero-G archery event, managing successfully hit Jupiter’s big red spot three times in a row. Ganymede’s own Hitomi Tanaka came a close second, and only lost out on a joint lead because her final shot ended up orbiting the big planet twice before hitting its mark.
In the soup swimming triathlon, the competition was equally as fierce. Not perturbed by the first leg, which requires cutting paths through thick pea soup, Uranus’ Peter Barker took the lead. Managing to hold on to first place through the miso soup, which formed the second leg, he ended up falling into fourth place as he was overtaken in the third leg’s aqua-vitae soup by olympic newcomer “Ken”.
“Ken” is one of a new breed of independent sports competitors who bears no allegiance to any of the worlds in the solar system. Born in a vacuum, he had only this to say to his fellow competitors: “I am Ken. Please don’t hurt me”.
More excitement awaits in day five, with the much anticipated upside down anti-gravity log tossing event.