Temporal Incursion. Stellar Flash Book Three. Chapter 1. By Neil A. Hogan

Temporal Incursion. Stellar Flash Book Three. By Neil A. Hogan

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Episode 1: The Hand

Chapter 1

2133/10/18/08:45 Sunday

The violet underside of the twelve-meter-sided, triangular interdimensional ship passed through the ceiling of the North Australia Space Port monitoring center in Darwin, and continued obliviously on its way. Admiral Wei Zhou watched it with awe, then smiled at the circumstances that had brought her there.

She had joined the Earth Council long ago and worked her way up the ranks. But as is the habit of Earth Council, once you’ve been a captain for ten years, you’re offered a promotion to allow the next recruits their chance at a captaincy.

She did miss it, but now she was monitoring the interfrequency and interdimensional ships that crisscrossed Earth’s orbit, ready to offer assistance if anything Earth was doing interfered with their journeys. If she couldn’t go out into space, then at least space could come to her.

Billions of ships passed through the Earth every day, and it was rare for one to pass along the surface of the planet, let alone through the actual monitoring station in Darwin. Most went through the upper atmosphere or through the crust of the Earth itself. Since Frequency Shift in 2033, most of these vehicles could be seen by the general population, and had long since become part of the background. But, occasionally, like this one, they were worthy of attention.

Now that it had faded through the wall, it was time to return to answering her staff. Admiral this, Admiral that. Sadly, that wasn’t as exciting, and she was tempted to flash back to Guangdong province for a quick cup of tea.

“Admiral,” called one of her assistants. Zhou looked up and recognized the brown hair, weathered skin and long beard. Bruce Jones, one of her Australian staff.

“Yes, Bruce, what is it?”

“Another delivery of powdered iridium from Saturn, just flashed into the base. Begging your pardon, ma’am, but, don’t you think we have enough now?”

Zhou raised an eyebrow. “You do know how much this stuff is in demand on Earth, right? All those people getting their mindview systems removed. That’s a lot of medical equipment.”

Jones frowned. “I do. It’s just that, there’s no more room in storage. Would you like me to organize storage in Sydney?”

Zhou had had no idea that they’d already filled all their storage areas in Darwin. The Stellar Flash ship must have brought back quite a lot. But she’d promised she would take it off their hands, and a promise is a promise. “Very good, Bruce. Yes, Sydney for the rest of it. Was there anything else?”

“Going to go fishing on the weekend. Was wondering, you know, if you’d like to come along?”

Zhou could tell he was trying to be casual about it, but his voice went a bit high at the end. She gave him a winning smile. “Thanks for the offer, but I’m strictly an indoors gal. Steel walls, lots of conveniences, and an A.I. not far away. Not sure what I’d do in an outdoor area. Probably get sunburned. I can’t even swim!”

“No worries!” he replied. He was about to turn away when he noticed something and pointed at Zhou’s left arm.

Zhou looked down to see that a light on her flash sleeve was blinking. “Oh! Thanks, mate.”

He smiled shyly, then turned back to his hologram.

She knew he had a thing for her. Not her type, though. She preferred her men to be a bit more feminine, thinner, hairless, and spend much of their time in space.

But now she had something else to attend to. She looked quizzically at her flash band. She usually got messages at her station stand. Why did it come directly to her sleeve? And who has that channel, anyway?

She quickly opened the message.

“Admiral Zhou, Admiral Heartness has disappeared. Please meet me at Heartness’ office on Space Station X-1a asap.”

Victoria had disappeared?


It was like anyone on Space Station X-1a would eventually disappear for one reason or another. She was beginning to think that the station was bad luck. Especially as it was being constructed with the number 1 on it during a snake year.

But she knew what she had to do, and quickly began getting ready.

She noticed the message was from Doctor John Patel and quickly understood the secrecy. He didn’t like to do things that were too public.

She checked her appearance in the mirror. No makeup smudges. Foundation was holding, short black hair shone healthily and didn’t need a comb, black jacket fitted well, long black pants were unlined. Should she put some bright red lipstick on? No. She grinned quietly to herself. She didn’t want to distract anyone else.

She quickly gathered some essential items into a handbag, set up a ‘called away on urgent business’ message at her console, then hit the relocation button at the bottom of the message.

A bright white light enveloped her, and moments later she was one billion kilometers away, inside one of the corridors in Space Station X-1a circling Saturn. She quickly stepped out of the way of a bloated blue balloon-shaped alien that floated past her, and did her best to adjust to the slightly different gravity, air pressure, and smells.

The coordinates she’d been given were directly outside Heartness’ office. She waited until another blobby alien squirmed and squelched past her, then reached out and tapped the door.

5:30pm in Darwin translated to 8:00am on the Space Station. Flashlag was going to be a bitch, she thought. Then she fell into a sneezing fit as her nose began to react to all the differences.

The door dissolved, and Patel appeared, standing in the center of the room. He handed her a tissue. “Wei, so good of you to come!”

Zhou took it gratefully and wiped her nose, before putting it in a pocket. “Sorry. You know it’s thirty degrees Celsius in Darwin. What is it here? Twenty?”

Then she realized that Patel was holding his hand outstretched indicating Heartness’ seat.

“Please,” he said, as though expecting no debate.

Immediately annoyed, Zhou threw her bag down on the table and turned on him. “Cryptic message, and I flashed here quickly, as agreed. But you can’t just expect me to take over the station at a moment’s notice every time. I have other responsibilities at the Space Port!”

Patel carefully lowered his arm and frowned. “Wei, I’m sorry. With Heartness gone, we need you here. You’re the best for this position.”

Zhou put her hands on her hips. “I’ve done research since then. Admiral Rasskator is best for this position. Pull her out of retirement.”

Patel shook his head. “I don’t want to sound sexist, but some delicacy is involved. And you have proven yourself time and time again that your feminine energy is superior when it comes to mediation. We haven’t forgotten your help with the Mars-Earth treaty. Basically, I need you to take care of this station of families, and any cultural conflicts that may arise. In fact, it is why I usually recommend a female for this role. I’m really not good at looking at anything other than the big picture, and males can be, how shall I put it, a bit too logical? We forget to allow our emotions to have a say.”

Zhou lowered her tattooed brows and stared at him. “Get that fabulous Admiral Klimova from the Russian outpost near Barnard’s star, then. He’s more feminine than I am! Even my muscles are bigger than his! And you should see his dance moves!”

Patel held up his hands. “I need you here. The station needs you.”

Zhou frowned, then walked around the table and slowly slid into the seat. “Fine. I’m here, again.” She sighed. “Fill me in. What’s happened to Victoria?”

Patel took the seat opposite and grinned as though the exchange never happened. “Excellent! Now, changing the subject. You know, I’m always tempted to take advantage of my power here, but I do my best not to let it get out of hand.”

Zhou almost laughed. “Really? Did you disable to cameras on the way here, again?”

Patel opened his mouth, then closed it again. “How did you… Never mind. Yes.”

Zhou smiled to herself. A point to her. Patel was the most intelligent person in the Solar System, but he allowed his hubris to get in the way – a lot. He did his best, but he could forget the little things. She’d feel sorry for him if he wasn’t so obliviously arrogant about it.

She took a deep breath, relaxed, and focused on the task at hand. “I guess the reason you needed me here so quickly is because you need something from this room before Earth Council sends its investigators. Something that only I can give as the admiral now in residence.”

Patel nodded again.

Zhou snapped her fingers. “You want me to officially access her files first! See if something is there that could tell you where Victoria went without Earth Council knowing you had looked!”

Patel sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “I’m impressed. You should be a detective.”

Zhou smiled, despite herself. “I might have been, if the A.I.’s hadn’t already taken all the detective jobs. Holographic scan of the crime scene, evidence analyzed in seconds, images sourced from recordings of wall reflections, DNA, fingerprints, faces located in the database in minutes, maybe two to locate the criminal, five minutes to arrest her, him or them and lock them up. That’s if the crime hadn’t already been predicted, or caught in the act first. Detectives disappeared decades ago. Not to mention the drop in crime since Frequency Shift.”

“Still, there are cold cases that the A.I.’s can’t help with.”

Zhou shrugged. “It’s all moot, now. In any case, Secret Services man. What are you hoping to find?”

Patel was silent, but raised an eyebrow as if to say, You’re smart. You work it out.

Zhou touched her chin with a finger. “Assuming Victoria was kidnapped from this room, and the investigation hasn’t started yet, then there might also be a recording.”

“Bingo!” exclaimed Patel.

Zhou looked at him quizzically. “Bingo?”

“Oh, sorry, it’s an old 21st century term for a gambling game. Before your time.”

“I see. So, like ‘Mahj!’”


“Oh, it’s from an old game from 2,500 years ago.” She waved a hand dismissively in the air. “Before your time.” Zhou looked at the screen, and it immediately unlocked for her. She peered at the processes. “The last complete room recording was half an hour ago. The current one is…disabled.”

She squinted at Patel and he shrugged. She let it pass, then looked up at the ceiling. “A.I. Replay room recording from the previous hour. Authorization Admiral Wei Zhou.”

“Confirmed,” said the A.I.

For a moment there was silence, and then a shimmer filled the room. In the center, a short, pale, dark-haired woman in a blue, short-sleeved jumpsuit, appeared to be looking for something while circling the floor.

“Can I get everything?” asked Patel.

“Pause playback. Everything?”

“I want to access her brain waves, thought processes, everything. I want to rule out any chance she has been mentally taken over. We have been working on something together that is still top secret. If whoever took her read her thoughts…”

“Accessing recordings of any person’s thoughts is usually reserved for extreme cases.”

“When not on a mission. All thoughts are recorded as standard on vehicle that has a flash system. We’ve got years of Heartness’ thoughts on record as Captain.”

Zhou stared at Patel with a look of distaste.

“Now, I know she’s a friend of yours,” he continued. “But flash jump records indicate a robot officer has taken an Admiral. If this is the start of another robot uprising, the whole of humanity could be affected.”

Zhou frowned at this new piece of information. “A robot? Any other nuggets I should know?”

Patel shrugged again as if to say, I don’t know what information to give you that you need to know.

She looked up at the ceiling. “A.I. Access entire recording of the appearance and disappearance of the boff and Admiral Heartness. Overlay reality with a holographic version, and give mental access to Heartness’ thoughts for me and… my guest. Brain wave vibration authorization Admiral Wei Zhou.”

“Confirmed,” said the A.I.

“Thank you, Wei,” said Patel.

Reality around them blurred and changed, and the recording began.

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Temporal Incursion. Stellar Flash Book Three. Print Cover.

Temporal Incursion. Stellar Flash Book Three. Prologue. By Neil A. Hogan

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Temporal Incursion. Stellar Flash Book Three. Prologue. By Neil A. Hogan


2129/02/15/01:43 Tuesday

A bright object cut across a section of the Kuiper belt, broke apart a tumbling two-piece proto-comet, then shot out of the Solar System at high speed. Explorer satellites in the area reported it as traveling close to the speed of light.


An explosion rocked the little island of South Bimini, flattening palm trees, shorting out power cables, and collapsing buildings. A group of factories dissolved into a crater, then sank under a tsunami. A tiny object exploded from the center of the carnage, climbed quickly into orbit, then blasted past the moon. Luna satellites recorded a white streak but were unable to determine origin or destination.


Drone 478 detected the intruder as it sped past Saturn and immediately activated its staccato flash drive, materializing further along the tiny object’s estimated path. The drone recorded it as it passed, predicted its trajectory, then repeated this several times before the object entered the Oort cloud. 478 quickly flashed back to Monitoring Station Z and delivered its composite video.


The images faded to black, and the lights came back up to reveal a small, oval room, with a tiny porthole looking out onto a section of Saturn’s rings.

“Interesting, don’t you think?” Doctor John Patel scratched his short, graying moustache, and glanced across the leafy table at his colleague, Admiral Rasskator, an attractive, green, mantis-like being from the planet Preyos.

Rasskator remained silent, a slight movement of one antennae the only sign she had heard him.

“We’ve since been able to confirm the objects are heading to Proxima Centauri B,” Patel continued. “They’re mostly moving at light speed but pause whenever they encounter something. Best estimates suggest they’ll arrive in just over four and a half years’ time.”

Rasskator chirped quietly, and her translator Englished. “They will be in the F.R.I.’s jurisdiction, then. Why see me about these?”

Patel smiled thinly. “Admiral, you plan to retire in four years’ time. If these objects are likely to cause a problem around then, I’d like there to be a faster transition between you and the new person here, so that we have time to prepare for anything that might eventuate.”

“Always planning ahead, John. Don’t you ever get tired? Live for the now!”

“Not a detailed plan, just a, well…”

“You’d like a recommendation for my replacement in 2133?”

Patel nodded.

Rasskator, rubbed her claw across one of her long green antennae, twisted her bulbous eyes a few times, then chirped. “Well, firstly I recommend building a new and more powerful Space Station. I doubt this throwback is going to last much longer. Certainly, if there are going to be more of these particles passing through, we need to have some kind of research center nearby.”

Patel sighed, looking about at the tiny space, knowing the monitoring station was barely 500 meters across. “It’s in hand. The project will commence at the end of 2132. We’ve received enough complaints from, ahem, your station, to bring things forward.”

“Acceptable. I do recommend Captain Victoria Heartness. She will have been working as a captain for ten years by then. An ideal time to be considered for promotion, and as my replacement.”

Patel leant back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “Interesting choice. We’ll see how she goes, and maybe I’ll put in a good word. Anything else I should know?”

Rasskator pointed a claw at the time stamp at the bottom of the last video. “You might have missed something with the last recording. Hard to see tiny Earth numbers in a hologram.” Her proboscis twisted back and forth in amusement, knowing Patel knew Preyosians had much better eyesight than humans. “Let me play the images forward for you again. Watch the clock.”

The composite drone footage played again, and Patel’s eyebrows raised as he realized what he was seeing. “The image is forward but the time stamp is running backward? How did I not notice that?”

“You have billions of projects on your mind. Impossible for you to notice everything. That’s why you are always happy to get a second opinion. In any case, whatever that object is, it is surrounded by a reverse time field. If that hits a populated area, there are going to be many beings in a lot of trouble. You saw what happened to that island in your Bermuda area. You were lucky it wasn’t a lot worse.”

“Well, let’s hope it passes safely through the Proxibee system and keeps going,” said Patel. “Otherwise, it won’t just affect one world, it’ll wipe out the entire flash ship project.”


It is the year 2133, just one hundred years after Alien Shift. Humanity can now perceive the trillions of alien races that live in the galaxy, having finally increased their frequency speed to Zero. Now a member of the Interdimensional Coalition, humanity works with alien races from all over the universe on Flash ships, exploring realities on higher level frequencies, and instigating First Contact with new alien races. The Stellar Flash Frequency Ship is the newest addition to the universal mission.

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Temporal Incursion: Stellar Flash Book Three. Now Available. A Science Fiction, Fantasy, Aliens and Time Travel Space Opera Adventure.

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Temporal Incursion: Stellar Flash Book Three

By Neil A. Hogan

Dangerous temporal disturbances are appearing throughout the Proxima Centauri system, and 27 scientists have gone missing from the Frequency Research Institute’s base on Proxibee.

When Admiral Victoria Heartness declines the request to help, she mysteriously disappears, too.

Doctor John Patel quickly enlists Admiral Wei Zhou to manage the station, and look into Heartness’ disappearance. But with builderbot’s going rogue and attacking some of the station’s residents, Zhou’s hands get full pretty quickly. 

Captain Jonathan Hogart would be the next best person to help track down Heartness, but then the Stellar Flash ship goes offline, internal doors stop working, and rooms start being erased. With just Raj Kumar and the ship’s Japanese avatar available, and no access to communications or flash jumps, Hogart is unable to even get his crew on board.

In desperation, Patel requests Commander Sue Lin of the Proxima Centauri Space Force to investigate the F.R.I hive,and find Heartness. But with her soldiers being wiped out by a crazed energy cloud, it’s all she can do to stop herself from destroying the base from orbit.

With micro time particles converging, a deadly alien entity expanding, a robot uprising spreading, and flash ship problems increasing, can the Stellar Flash crew get to Proxibee in time to not only rescue Heartness, but also prevent Commander Lin from making a mistake that could destroy the entire universe?

Temporal Incursion is Book Three in the Stellar Flash series. A self-contained story of about 63,000 words.

Temporal Incursion Writing Update

One of the characteristics of a good Space Opera is opening the story with an explosion, a kidnapping, a death, a war, or some other instantly engaging scenario that catapults the reader/viewer front and center into the action, and encourages them to want to know what happens next.

Star Wars did this well by starting the movie right in the middle of a laser conflict with massive battleships. Doctor Who sometimes did this with a preview before the episode started.

TV shows that want to get people into the action know this works, but episodic shows usually follow the basic three step formula of introduction/conflict/resolution. Unless a viewer is a fan of the show, the opening of an episode doesn’t usually pull people in quickly enough to stop them from hitting the channel surfing button. So, starting with a preview from about twenty minutes in, or even just before the resolution, can hook someone in, and they’re more likely to continue watching.

I had hoped to avoid this idea by starting Temporal Incursion with a robot kidnapping Admiral Victoria Heartness.

I know. Robot kidnappings are an old trope, but I haven’t personally done one yet, so it’s new for me!

But, then I thought, if I start with Heartness being kidnapped, it’ll be like Hogart being kidnapped by the Florans in The Andromeda Effect. I don’t have a set formula for how each book should develop, but two books in a row where a main character is kidnapped at the beginning, might suggest I do. But, besides the other trope of a friend in danger, Heartness has been written into her semi-retirement position on board Space Station X-1a, and there’s no other reason to get her into the action. (Okay, she could get a flash band malfunction, ordered by Earth Council, gets drunk and takes the wrong flight, falls through a wormhole, etc) but I want to create a subtle underlying mistrust of all robots from here on out, to set things up for Book Four: The Robots of Atlantis, due out in 2020.

Eventually, I went back to the old idea of a prequel, prequel. Something that happened over 4 years ago (2129) that would affect the situation in Proxima Centauri B in 2133. So, rather than a disaster which started Book Two, this one starts with more of a mystery.

Book One is a straight out First Contact story with a twist.

Book Two is a high tech defeat the invaders story.

Book Three is a mystery horror story with a deadly alien.

Temporal Incursion Book Three is due out on the 5th March.

Here’s the new cover:

The image of Proxima Centauri B featured on the cover has been released by the European Southern Observatory under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ and originally comes from the video: ESOcast 87: Planet found around closest Star. Please visit: eso.org/public/announcements/ann16056/ to watch the complete video.

I’ll post more details as soon as it is released.


Alien Dimensions Science Fiction Short Stories Anthology Series #17 is now available in digital and in print formats

Issue #17Digital | Print

Alien Dimensions is a science fiction short stories anthology series featuring amazing authors from around the world.

Previous issues have featured stories about extraterrestrials, clones, robots and androids, invasion and colonization, cyberpunk and space opera, first contact, genetic manipulation, starship exploration, time travel and more.

From seriousness to humorous, high octane to slow burn, from back-story heavy to present tense dialogue-driven adventures, Alien Dimensions explores the far future.

Enjoy a much more alien experience with Alien Dimensions.

In Alien Dimensions #17:

Space Case by Tom Howard

Sky Tears by Mike Adamson

Tomorrow’s Children by James Armer

Pests by Francis W. Alexander

Mothermind by Robert Walton

Guardians of the Treasure by Gustavo Bondoni

Strange Lands by Neil A. Hogan

Issue #17 Digital | Print

Subscribe to be updated when the next issue is due out here

Intermittent Fasting, Senescent Cells and Living Forever

One of my long time passions is to read the latest on life extension research. I plan to live to at least 300, but there’s no point in doing that if my whole body turns into a pile of unmovable sticks, and I have to transfer my consciousness into a box. Not quite ideal. So, on the look out for simple ways to live longer without dramatically changing my lifestyle.

A number of research papers have been released over the past few years about senescent cells and how the accumulation of these in the body is what causes aging and mental decline. So, I looked up the latest research on removing these. You can read about senescent cells and experiments on mice here.

Sadly, I found one of the biggest ways to reduce them is intensive exercise, daily. Read the research paper here. But, I don’t want to waste three hours of potential writing time going to a gym, exercising and having a second shower. If I wanted to waste time, I’d sleep more! So, I wasn’t happy with that finding. I’ll get my basic exercise doing the necessary daily cleaning and washing chores, and keep looking.

The next thing I found was that senescent cells can be reduced with a new family of drugs and supplements called senolytics. The most promising of these is fisetin. Read the research paper summary here.

As buying supplements on a writer’s income is a bit difficult, I was able to confirm that you can get small amounts of fisetin from a number of sources including onions and cucumbers. Onions also contain another senolytic flavonoid polyphenol called Quercetin, so I can get double the senolytic effect by eating onions. I’m not a big fan of onions though, and I don’t know whether they have to be raw, cooked or sauteed. Still, my local sells ready chopped frozen bags of onions, so I might be on to something.

But by far the best thing I found was intermittent fasting. When I’m in the writing zone I have no reason to be eating. It’s only when I’m stuck that I might reach for a packet of chips or a glass of whiskey. Certainly, when the muse takes me, sitting and typing for 6 hours straight sometimes isn’t a problem. Not to mention the money I could save by not eating! So, I researched this further. Intermittent fasting not only stimulates the removal of senescent cells from the body (autophagy) at around 18 hours into the fast, it also induces ketosis, enabling the body to begin burning its fat stores. So I can start getting rid of that tire around the stomach as well. How exciting! Info here.

However, while not eating for 12 hours has never been a problem for me (sleep period included, so just skip breakfast), how on Earth could I get the fasting to go as far as 18 hours? I would have to take a day off, or apologize to anyone around for my incredibly loud stomach. (And no Skype calls, either. Microphones pick up everything!) So back onto Google to find how others have been able to increase their fasting period.

Some took walks, or exercised. I still wouldn’t want to be taken away from whatever I was doing. Some suggested brushing their teeth as the toothpaste mint would reduce their hunger. Not for me. I’d start thinking about Mohitos or spearmint lollies.

And then I found many were drinking black coffee.


That’s not fasting. Fasting is not eating at all. Zero food and drink, apart from water. But then I read that it depends on what you want. If you want the full beneficial effect of fasting, where all your organs get to get a rest, then water fast or, if you can do it, skip the water, too. But, if you’re just wanting autophagy and khetosis, you can drink black coffee! (Of course, that amount of mildly acidic liquid on an empty stomach can cause problems for some people, so perhaps just one?) In any case, I love black coffee and I drink two to three cups a day, so I have found my solution.

I’ve only got afternoon appointments for the next week, so I could conceivably stop eating at 7pm and start again at 1pm, and potentially get younger!

Let’s see how long I last!

Fantasy Short Stories Book Two. Available in Digital and in Print.

Fantasy Short Stories Book Two is now available.

Fantasy Short Stories Digital Version

Fantasy Short Stories Print Version

Featuring amazing stories by authors from around the world

In Book Two:

Foe by Francis W. Alexander

Fresh Start by Gustavo Bondoni

Flypaper by Tom Howard

The Backup by Hannah Steenbock

Layers by Neil A. Hogan

Enjoy more fantasy with Fantasy Short Stories Anthology Series Book Two

Fantasy Short Stories Book One is still available

Available in digital and in print formats

Fantasy Short Stories is currently planned to be released every few months, so you’ll always have something fantastic to look forward to.

You’ll find Fantasy Short Stories on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Each issue will feature stories exploring fantastic and magical realms with interesting characters and compelling stories.

If you’d like to be updated as to when the next issue is released, please subscribe to our mailing list.

If you’d like to write for the series, please visit our submission guidelines page for details.

Thank you for your interest in Fantasy Short Stories.

Neil A.

Fantasy Short Stories Anthology Series Book Two is available for pre-order!

Happy New Year! I’m very pleased to announce that the ebook of Fantasy Short Stories Anthology Series Book Two is now available for pre-order here . The release date is 8th January 2019. The ebook version will become available around then (USA time) and the print version not long after. Pdfs will be emailed to contributors within the week of release.

More about Book Two

Fantasy Short Stories is an anthology series featuring amazing stories by authors from around the world.

In Book Two:

Foe by Francis W. Alexander

Fresh Start by Gustavo Bondoni 

Flypaper by Tom Howard

The Backup by Hannah Steenbock

Layers by Neil A. Hogan

Enjoy more fantasy with Fantasy Short Stories Anthology Series Book Two

I’ll have more news about Alien Dimensions #17 due out in February, very soon!

Splinter. Science Fiction Weekly #26. Stellar Flash Prequel II by Neil A. Hogan. Short Reads Series

Available from Amazon

When Raj Kumar investigates Pluto for possible life signs – standard procedure before adding a manned space station – he is surprised to find them. He’s even more surprised that they want to communicate with him.

What do they want? 
Why him?
And what does Doctor John Patel of Space Station X-1a have to do with all this?

Find out more in Splinter. #26 in the Science Fiction Short Reads Series, and a prequel to the introduction of a character at the end of the Stellar Flash novel The Andromeda Effect. Splinter is a short story of about 4600 words.

Gene-Reality by Neil A. Hogan

“Ji. This does not look like a bio lab.”

Ji swept his arms wide to encompass the microscope that filled the room. “Maggie, you’ve got to admit, it’s pretty impressive. Imagine what you could do with this.”

Maggie shrugged. “To see genes, I need something a bit smaller. That monstrosity will just give me atoms.”

Ji pointed at a bank of screens in front of the tube-shaped structure. “It’s not an electron microscope. Something much better. We can actually see superstrings with it!”

She looked about, not quite hearing him. “You don’t even have any centrifuges in here.” She put her hands on her hips and turned to him. “What’s going on? I thought you needed my help splicing genes!”

Ji grinned. “The genes of the universe, Maggie. I want you to splice the very substance of reality!”

Maggie gaped. “I’m a molecular biologist, not a physicist. I’m not so sure about playing with reality.” She walked around the machine. A large spherical ball was where a slide might be on a normal microscope, with a LED panel on the outside. “Faraday cage?”

“Something similar. Paradoxically holding two isolated superstrings in a vacuum.” Ji pointed at one of the screens in front of it. “The first one has an interesting vibration at this range. Multiple colours cascading from top to bottom. It looks almost like a chromosome. I guess our bodies express the fundamental shapes of the universe.”

“Fibonacci spirals, golden ratios in everything. Sounds legit.” Then she looked shrewdly at him, still not willing to get closer. “There’s nothing in the journals about this research. Is this military?”

Ji shrugged. “No idea. Contracted out to us. I don’t deal with the funding. I just get paid. My latest project is to find someone who can join them together.”

“Wait. What?”

He pointed at the screen again and she came over to have a closer look. The screen was divided into two. On the left side flickered the superstring, with four legs splayed out like a deformed insect. The right side of the screen was black. “Strings are influenced by our thoughts and observations,” said Ji. “You only need to direct your thoughts at it to influence it. My problem is I can’t influence it enough to connect with the other one. Maybe you could try…”

“Ji. You do know what gene splicing is, yes? It’s all biological. We use enzymes to snip out pieces of DNA inside genes, then mix the broken DNA with snipped DNA from other genes, then put the useful recombinant DNA into bacteria that will replicate it. There are other processes involved, but it’s completely unlike the fundamental building blocks of the universe. For a start, I’m pretty sure superstrings don’t have DNA.”

“Well, at this level, superstrings are everything. They are DNA and genes and chromosomes, if you like. Just take a bit from that superstring and add it to this one, and the energy field will replicate it. Think of it like your gene-splicing experiments but with everything purely energy. The universe will take care of the rest on the other dimensions.”

Maggie pointed at the dark side of the screen. “Well, I need to see the other one to know if this is possible.”

“I’m afraid our equipment is not compatible.”

Maggie stared at Ji for a moment, uncomprehending. “Is it faulty?”

Ji grinned. “This is the exciting part. The other string is not from our reality. It was taken from a wormhole we opened inside a micro-black hole in the Collider.”

“But, if it is not compatible with the instruments, then it can’t be compatible with our universe. What the hell have they asked you to do?”

“Look. If we splice it with a piece of our universe, we’d be able to find out what it’s like! What it can do!”

Maggie looked incredulously at him. “No. I flat out refuse. I don’t care if your project loses funding. I’m not merging the underlying foundations of two universes just for your research.”

“Come on. A simple thought, and it’s done. If you won’t do it, there are plenty of other gene doctors out there that could. Why not be the first?”

“No.” Maggie folded her arms.

Ji looked sadly down at the floor. “Well, look. Alright. I understand. But, just for me. How would you do it, if you wanted to? Like, what would your procedure be? Obviously, I can’t do it myself.”

Maggie sighed. “I don’t know the shape of the other one to know how for sure, but I’d imagine moving one on top of the other, and then allowing the vibration of ours to influence the vibration of the other one. As they synchronized I’d be able to see what the other one looked like, then work out how I could join them together. If the other universe’s superstrings had eight extensions, for example, I could take one and add it to this one and see what happens. I mean, it’s really…what is it?”

Ji was staring at the screen as the right side began flickering. “It worked. You’re a genius.”

Maggie’s hand flew to her mouth. “No, no, no. You tricked me!”

Ji was ignoring her. “Look, look. The other string has six legs. And it’s slightly larger. Wait, what’s it doing?”

Maggie pushed him away and looked at the strings. One was on top of the other and seemed to be vibrating faster. “Oh no!” She quickly reached for her mobile phone.

“What? What are you doing?”

“Calling my mum to say goodbye.”

“What? Why?” Ji’s face paled as he realized she was serious.

“They’re not merging. They’re mating,” cried Maggie.

But it was far too late.

There was a momentary flash as the combined strings quickly replicated, and a new universe exploded from the laboratory at a billion times the speed of light.


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