The Impact of Your Ideas
A robotic pack horse carries a secret about it’s creator. Told in three segments, this hard-science-fiction story explores the impact of product design on a widow, a soldier, and a friend.
Humanity by Proxy and other stories celebrates the positive aspects of technology and it’s designers. The collection includes three other stories: A Cup Of Dirt, The Music Teacher, and Plastic Thingy. Each short includes a backstory, discussing concepts and inspiration.
From Humanity By Proxy
The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is indifference
After eighty-one years of wedded bliss, Tiffany Stott was glad to be rid of Walter. He’d been so cute at thirty-years old, but after they married, he’d started on correcting every one of her faults. Apparently, there were many. Walter was employed as an engineering project manager, the most controlling of career choices. Obsessive-compulsive was a job qualification, not a disorder. Promotion was based on the eradication of unplanned events. Walter had a difficult time leaving this behavior at work, and inflicted it on his family, friends, and mostly Tiffany.
During author presentations, it’s typical to be asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” With Humanity By Proxy, I’ve included explanations for each main story, detailing where I found the characters, how the plot came about, problems I had, solutions I created. If you’re curious about writing science fiction, you might find these backstories helpful.
From A Cup of Dirt
Dirt is what you track into the space station. Soil is what you grow things in.
Enzo and Dmitry sat in the galley of the space station unencumbered by EVA suits, eating dinner and appreciating being able to scratch their faces. Olya Sidorova, the older, taller and blonder of the much-lusted-after Sidorova sisters tried to eat between interruptions from the kitchen. Three plates held construction-worker sized quantities of spaghetti with tomatoes from the hydroponic gardens.
The galley was small, so it was logical for Olya to be sitting close to Dmitry. Close enough that her blonde hair stuck to the static electricity of his sweater.
“Izvi`nite,” Olya said. She reached across Dimitry’s plate for a
She could have retrieved a napkin from the dispenser behind her, but instead invaded his personal space, flashing a smile. Olya’s smile had caused several rocket scientists to lose concentration. Dmitry blushed and focused on his spaghetti.
Read the backstory of A Cup Of Dirt here.
From The Music Teacher
Josh called it Mr. Flat Five. Musica Diablous. A chord with a flatted fifth note. Mi contra fa est diabolus in musica. The Musical Demon.
It killed Josh. Actually, Josh killed himself. But he died on account of Mr. Flat Five. It does that to people. Makes them obsessive. Gives them the illusion they’ve found something world-changing and the end will justify the means.
I had it long enough, just for a few months. It doesn’t look evil—more like a bowling trophy, or a kid’s toy made out of soft metal. But I don’t have it anymore—that’s why Grace is mad.
Read the backstory of The Music Teacher here.
From Plastic Thingy
“Hey. Guy with the broom. Like, I need a plastic thingy.”
Her noisy appearance at the front counter of Hankins Hardware is only made louder by the smell of chlorine. Doing her part to keep Portland weird, I think, as I put down the broom. She’s wearing a funny sort of jacket, stretch pants and steel-toed boots. Maybe that’s odd, but what’s really unique is her just standing by the counter.
Regular customers know the store layout. They walk in, briefly acknowledge our presence, then disappear down the appropriate row. You want paint? Look in aisle one. Bolts? Located across the front of the store. Aisle five has been electrical for the past two centuries. Newbies like her walk in and execute a “Deer in the Headlights” maneuver, freezing and scanning the store. Sometimes they carry a handful of broken parts or a plastic bag of moist pipes. Not wanting to admit they’re confused, they take a right turn and head towards the paint aisle. If we’re quick, we can intercept and point them in the right direction. If not, we wait until they loop around and reappear at the front of the gardening aisle.
But not this girl. No handful of parts. No wandering to the paint aisle. She just stands there, expecting us to get her a plastic thingy. It’s near closing time, I should give her the end-of-day brush off.
Read the backstory of Plastic Thingy here.
Humanity By Proxy and Other Stories is available in paperback from Amazon.