Dead Planet XLVIII

Dead Planet XLVIII

humanoid androids—
were popular way back then
on tralfamadore

scifaiku poets—
like the wise young basho
wrote humanoid lit

krell stem cell research—
and reverse engineering
designed perfect toys

cute android boy toys—
genetically altered droids
built for your pleasure

simply flip a switch—
so long desperate housewives
douchedroid boyz so hot

humanoid boy toys—
a popular dark model
very well-endowed

across the universe—
from the sleek rings of saturn
to ganymede town

from red plains of mars—
to the slave pits of titan
douchedroid dildos ruled

multi-channel clips—
drifting in & out of time
droid soap-operas

down there on terra—
many spacewives so happy
morphed into droid love

terraformed timelines—
tralfamadorian scripts
zits on the zeitgeist

pick your own time-slot—
leave it to douchedroid high tech
total recall cheap!!!

that’s what basho did—
a little side-step in time
back to the sixties

embedding himself—
synchronicity schmoozing
new scenario

thanks to scifaiku—
swiping his memo-card clean
and starting again…

Dead Planet VLVII

Dead Planet XLVII

“it was the first of
Satsuki—the time-
traveling month”
—Basho, Narrow Road
to Triton Interior

in summer triton—
frozen methane waterfalls
begins long journey

a zeit zipper lock—
i couldn’t open it right
all the falling stars

even titan trolls—
leave it alone this fissure
splitting the known worlds

android boy pauses—
looks across neptune’s plains
feeling nothing new

scifaiku silence—
waiting for it to emerge
from the moon shadow

edo’s beginnings—
tokugawa shogunate
young handsome warlords

after victory—
the battle of saturn’s rings
solar daimyo reigns

the title shogun=
consolidated control
alliance system

power base strengthened—
mollifying one's rivals
triton stealth stronghold

tokugawa fleets—
solar system bakufu
space bureaucracy

feudal hierarchy—
fadai “house daimyo” droids
imperial bots

triton troops allowed—
but no galaxy-going ships
one castle per sun

closed planet edict—
interstellar trade outlawed
dejima only

earthboy-childhood’s end—
deep in the planet’s dark heart
exile-planning droids

almost no one sees—
nagasaki bloom thru time
it takes third eye sight

sword, ship, laser gun—
all proudly displayed
when boyhood’s end comes

Dead Planet XLVI

Dead Planet XLVI

“Much of the prose
in Dune started out
as haiku and then
was given minimal
additional word-
padding to make
it conform to
normal English
sentence structure.”
—Frank Herbert,
The Road to Dune

watching gulf news—
thinking about giedi prime
baron harkonnen

“One element of the construction of this book’s all the way through there…”

scifiku poets—
know the giedi prime secret
the spice of dune

“that I wrote certain parts
of it in haiku and other poetical forms…”

those pulp sci-fi dayz—
back when i was a young Slan
telepathic kid

“and then expanded them to prose
to create a pace.”

Null-a can be taught—
at least that’s what van vogt said
do i still think so?

“I often use a Jungian mandala
in squaring off characters against each other,
assigning a dominant psychological role to each.”

herbert uses haiku—
like quick scifiku snapshots
then fleshes out the plots

“The implications of color, position,
word root and prosodic suggestion…”

delany and disch—
streamlining their prose ad lib
impromptu scifiku

“—all are taken into account when a scene
has to have a maximum impact.”

hugo nebula—
squeezed into ace paperback
pulp fiction haiku

“And what scene doesn’t if a book—
…is tightly written?”

Trouble on Triton

Trouble on Triton
—for Samuel R. Delany

“Lay ordinate and abscissa
on the century. Now cut me
a quadrant. Third quadrant
if you please. I was born in
‘fifty. Here it’s 2010”
—Samuel R. Delany,
Time Considered as a Helix
Of Semi-Precious Stones

a toke of some weed—
helps to transform this journey
into smooth helix

a neat tight helix—
of semi-precious stones
from here to triton

spring passes—
deep water horizon blows
the birds & fish scream

ah—speechless back then
disco inferno bad boyz
blazing saddles time

we shave our heads bald—
my brokeback mountain boyfriend
we start the journey

stop awhile on mars—
by the pyramid ruins
our journey moving

jasper's the password—
throughout six worlds & worldlets
translation: “fuck off”

the hologram plate—
it gets cut in half again
same information

by analogy—
tralfamadorian time
bejewels the facets

bp, exxon, shell—
big time racketeer barons
crime big business

good witch of the west—
in her saucer overhead
speeds toward triton town

with this jewel i join—
the roguish fraternity
doorways dial open

here comes the hawk kid—
get me outta here he sayz
we barefoot it out

cute skanky hustler—
dirty black denim jacket
no shirt beneath it

hair pale like split pine—
a ripe pair of black bluejeans
“what else ya got, huh?”

on the waterfront—
by the flashing black hudson
down by the dark piers

i show him the jewels—
he paws thru them all knuckles
with chewed fingernails

they are worth plenty—
ten times more than i ever
hope to get that night

the kid sayz “hey, not bad—
am going to a party
later on tonight”

hell’s kitchen at ten—
regina abolafia
at the tower top

citycorp singers—
tokyo leads with seven
alex spinnel’s there

the word is changing—
tonight & young hawk is game
we slink towards times square

past fifty-seventh—
strolling down dark new york streets
then down in subway

doors hiss, grey floor hums—
dark patterns rush the windows
we lurch to a stop

above us a light rain—
the thousand sequined city
rushing overhead

the platform sign sayz—
twelve towers station with its
looming tall condos

luxury towers—
menacing the lower clouds
we go straight up there

sleek elevator—
wrapping us in gold foil petals
eighty stories zip

hawk calls me harvey—
the tungsten magnate

the party is swank—
sarah palin is schmoozing
the planet potus

many wealthy guests—
senators, gay debutantes
golden charisma creeps

texaco heiress—
some university profs
movie stars rich riff-raff

the new word’s "agate”—
hawk the scifaiku poet
sayz over his drink

lumps of moonlight fall—
like lozenges thru the palms
arty the hawk smiles

i sell him the jewels—
some scarlet-banded beauties
sixty-thousand bucks

the helicopter—
blackens the moon above
crashing thru the ceiling

we make our escape—
hawk & me diving into
the elevator

infernal feet run—
the cloud alarms are sounding
the flames are roaring

the lobby fills up—
times square flows into the fray
brawlers, drunks, addicts

thieves, morphadine-heads—
douchedroid hustlers, some old drunks
then a brawl breaks out

we pass thru the guards—
all of them have been paid off
with precise finesse

we part company—
no blow-darts from passing cars
no alley deathrays

i reach the subway—
get the fuck outta there fast
nothing happens yet

agate gives way to—
malachite which turns into
tourmaline, beryl

then comes porphyry—
sapphire, cinnabar, turquoise
and then tiger’s eye

my new nom de plume—
h. calhoun eisenhower
triton ice cream queen

neptune mafia—
middle-class underworld hood
carefully legit

garnet takes over—
the basic rule be careful
imitate others

topaz i whisper—
trans-triton corporation
i wear a nice suit

touring frozen cliffs—
methane niagara falls
honeymoon romance

slick albino stud—
my new bride a droid princess
cybernetic girl

playing the deadpan game—
iapetus lux for lunch
bellona plaza

lovers come & go—
nonchalant mutant affairs
you get used to it

trianon hotel—
android ambiguities
humanoid failings

young spock bodyguards—
vast vats of vulcan jizzjuice
morphed badboy valets

spending my spare time—
au naturel android boyz
pink dilated eyes

gemütlichkeit boyz—
retro-engineered just right
grotesque genitals

great tourist gimmick—
johnny eck the cute half-boy
other half all-dick

another disguise—
my next flight to bellona
back to planet earth

the marigold suite—
aboard the platinum swan
johnny eck’s big smile

Dead Planet XLV

Night Visitor
—for Shikō Munakata

He’s surely not here—
He never was or will be…
Just a woodblock dream.

Shikō dreamed him up—
He’s just a strange Jomōn Man
Knocking at my door.

A night visitor—
Gone when I open the door
But the knock is real.

Mars is full of ghosts—
The landscape strewn with debris
Gears, clocks, skeletons.

There’s nothing much left—
Except for the sands of Mars
The cold stars above.

The expeditions—
Top secret to find out things
Why catastrophe?

Like the Lunar base—
On the dark side of the Moon
Lots of Nitrogen.

The Mars colony—
Led by Miss Eisenhower

And all the other—
Remote viewing personnel
Found out lots of things.

Delving back in time—
Zeitvernichtung technical

Deimos & Phobos—
Ancient satellite drones
Monitoring Mars.

The deeper they got—
The double labyrinth grew
Translation of Texts.

Martian archives—
Were syntactically sealed
Krell mind-boost needed.

The old pyramids—
Aligned perfectly with Earth
Edo exacto.

Scifaiku mind-set—
Opened up the vast bank-vaults
Deep secrets inside.

The samurai class—
With laser-swords & haiku
Were used to such things.

And so the Space Force—
Did the same thing as Japan
Bashō back again.

Shikō Munakata, Night Visit (1938)

Dead Planet XLIV

Scifaiku and Martian Literature

“The creatures were friendly,
and they could see in four
dimensions. They pitied
Earthlings for being able
to see only three. They had
many wonderful things to
teach Earthlings about time”
—Kurt Vonnegut,
Slaughterhouse Five

1 Martians have the ability to read books in four dimensions, i.e. they have total recall and access to past, present and future writers.

2 They can perceive books from any genre, literary period or writerly oeuvre. They know the exact beginning, middle and end of every book in existence. Even books that haven’t been written yet by human beings.

3 Their response to a writer’s birth, life and death as well as their bibliography is—“So it goes.” They’re fatalistic about Literature—seeing the end of the universe as basically a factory world which remainders books into pulp fiction oblivion.

4 Martians gather together for a time-travel scifaiku literary convention yearly—on Titan, one of Saturn’s beautiful moons. There the ancient multi-dimensional beings meet to supposedly discuss the various scifaiku poems, novels and literary issues of a specific Zeitgeist in time—usually involving the grim social affairs and political aspects satirized by various Earthmen SF writers disgruntled with old dystopian Apocalypto storylines. New ones are always in demand.

5 Martians publish a 3-D SciFaiku poem yearly—which is usually rather pornographic and somewhat multi-dimensionally simultaneous with what’s happening in the linear Aristotelian narrative universe. Blips on the vidscreens usually confuse Earthmen lit critics—since synchronicity is seen as an annoying oxymoronic disjunctive distraction interfering with “normal” human space-time, cause-effect SF narratology. Japanese haiku writers apparently mastered the Martiian Effect back during the Edo Period—making time-travel junkets to confer with Martian intelligentsia on their home planet.

6 Mars is a cybernetic cosmopolitan android world that came from far away in the Small Magellanic Cloud. It’s the home planet to the Martians—the survivors of an even more ancient race of intelligent machines, the Nexroids.

7 Not much is known about the Nexroids—except that they were another race of intelligent machines who originally developed the Martians as super-being humanoid creatures and android boy-toys who were built to sexually entertain and give robotic meaning to their bored Nexroid existence. Unable to achieve this task, the precursor race used the Martians instead to extinguish themselves. The SM Vega supernova being the ancient awesome result.

8 Without masters to entertain—the Martians voyaged thru the known universe and finally adopted the human race as their new masters even tho humanoids were an extremely stupid and ignorant monkeybrains race bound for extinction as well.

9 The Martians are fatalistic about their new masters—usually describing the human condition as “So what?”

10 Bashō the eminent Terran scifaiku poet captured the Martian literary mission and subsequent pulp fiction scifaiku literary output—with his recently updated i-Pad Kindle Nook version of the classic "The Narrow Road to Titan" which features a translation by Ho-Hum-Hung and original 3-D kiri-e illustrations by Miyata Masayuki.

Dead Planet XLIII

Dead Planet XLIII

“SciFaiku is haiku
and it is not haiku.
It deviates, expands,
and frees itself of haiku.”
—Tom Brinck,
The SciFaiku Manifesto

see how low he flies—
devil boy up in the sky
the darkness darkens

the devil boy lands—
out there in the moody moors
his beat-up saucer

rain washes away—
the smell of airship ozone
a radar blip fades

i’ll shut my eyes and—
pretend the robot is gone
but the thing’s still there

the flight staircase—
opens up in the cool night
crop circles ripple

devil boy from mars—
the light from his laser eyes
melts my skinny ass

his alien lips—
purse like sour persimmons
his black leather boots

he wears a skull cap—
black shiny plastic so sleek
his sharp vampire teeth

spilling down over
his scarlet cape in the breeze
again and again

again and again—
i ask the others to wake
their eyelids are dead

cocky young earthmen—
abducting them back to mars
that’s his big mission

sponge-gourd blossoms—
boy from mars deflowers them
he chokes on their phlegm

see how he hovers—
then he takes off back to mars
his captives inside

at the hot-spring moon—
earthboy clones get hatched nicely
their buzzing tight pubes

quite to their surprise—
some of their offspring are born
martian young men

i want to go home—
i’ve done everything he’s said
repeat it he says

in the distance hills—
a patch of martian light
the withered canals

cold polar caps—
still lingering even now

in the spring wind—
i admire his dying race
trying to survive

terraforming mars—
their last hope earthboyz in heat
they want all of me

scifaiku diary—
discovering something new
in old mars ruins

i suck the sour taste—
the tangerine sands of mars
once so bloody red

all day long now—
the martian pyramids
casting long shadows

i am not alone—
instant recall brings others
back into the now

against my helmet—
shower of meteorites
ort cloud monsoon rain

a spaceship soars—
over the red sands of mars
the last day has dawned

Dead Planet XLII

Dead Planet XLII

“My personal speculation is this: the
Earth is part of a gigantic cosmic
construct, and is being pulled along,
like on a conveyor belt, towards its
proper place in that construct. When
Earth is a perfectly sized sphere
meeting cosmic specs, it will blast
off from the Milky way launch pad
and snap into its proper place in
the ultimate structure.”—Kenzaburo
Oe, The Pinch Runner Memorandum

Or do we get it? What’s there to get? What’s there to understand? What’s there to somehow comprehend—other than that the Other is already you? Somebody as close as your wife or husband or lover or domestic other? Could there to be an alien Other any more alien than that—if the mysterious alien were already a part of you?

A sort of soul-brother or soul-sister waiting in the wings? Like Deckard's kid? A sort of narcissistic twin-paradox kind of thing? Like Heinlein’s “Time for the Stars” (1956)—with telepathic contact between twin brothers going on during faster-than-the-speed-of-light space travel. So that telepathic communication could be possible—between the various torchships and Earth. As the various complexities of faster-than-the-speed-of-light space travel and exploration of nearby star systems—is smoothed out for future higher Exo-tech possibilities?

Of course, Stanislaw Lem the author of the novel which led to both screenplay versions of “Solaris” (2002) and “Solyaris” (1972) has written his own reactions to these film treatments of the Other.

In one interview, Lem says that he thinks both movies are failures—that neither one could possibly portray the Other since the “Other” is just that. It’s pure, unadulterated “Otherness”—above and beyond human comprehension and understanding.

It makes one wonder if indeed Stanislaw Lem’s novels and short stories are any better at it—compared with the filmic versions? Is it possible for science fiction—to portray, narrate or explain Otherness? Other than the Golden Days of SF—with Astounding Science Fiction magazine and a heavy dose of “hard science” adolescent juvie sci-fi “Sense of Wonder” stuff. Whatever that is?

Maybe Lem is right. Otherness is beyond human comprehension? Perhaps it’s up to the Others—to find their own way of contacting us? Perhaps they already have. Not through—vast SETI radar dishes spread out in the deserts like ogling eyeballs or ears listening to the static of the universe.

But rather more subtly human—in less intensely electromagnetically hypersensitive ways? Something more like what we already are—“all too human” naked apes constantly fighting with each other on this tiny blue marble planet?

Perhaps we are a “stricken species” as Paul Davies suggests in his “The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence.” As we circle our lonely star—out here seemingly in the middle of a vast cosmic nihilistic Nothingness?

Dead Planet XLI

“What to do with these multiple
permutations, in which the return
of the same is always different?
The pseudo-couple, to be sure,
traces an august (if ridiculous
lineage) all the way back (via
Flaubert) to Don Quixote…”
—Frederik Jameson, “Pseudo-Couples”
LRB 20 November 2003

This jump we’ve made between James and SETI—what kind of “Otherness” is happening here? What are the dimensions and limits—of such a Phenomenon?

Is it the kind of otherness George Clooney experiences in “Solaris” (2002)—with Natascha McElhone his supposedly dead wife in her various guilt-inducing Solarian klones? Is this the same kind of Otherness we’re talking about—as far as SETI is concerned?

If Alien-ness is beyond human comprehension—how can human/alien contact actually happen? Surely James is pretty close to the truth—it’s done supernaturally through another dimension?

The same with Tourneau—and the contact with the Voodoo Zombie Land of the Dead? Is it approximated or partially accomplished by means of a human analog to the alien Other—as with Tourneur and his ancient Afro-Haitian-Caribbean voodoo version that flows through his black & white, neo-noir plot of a Zombie world embedded in a Western sugar plantation decadent analog world?

The same with “Solaris”—the Phenomenon interfaces with Clooney the psychologist temporally through something familiar and erotically simpatico? Cloning itself as Natascha his suicidal, born-again, over-and-over-again wife—returning again and again to him until he finally gets it? His guilty consciousness assuaged somehow—aided by Solaris like some celestial alien counselor? Just as perhaps Kidman, Sandra Dee and Deborah Kerr eventually get it—the fact that the Other has entered their lives?

Dead Planet XL

“a galloping and comic nightmare
more reminiscent of Lem’s Futurological
Congress than anything in Philip K. Dick.
The father and son actually change places,
the former becoming a teenager while
the latter assumes the advanced age of
the father [Kenzaburo Oe's Somersault].”
—Frederik Jameson, “Pseudo-Couples”
LRB 20 November 2003

This is the kind of cat & mouse game—
that Alejandro Amenábar plays with the movie audience of “The Others” (2001). It’s a much more sophisticated, surreal approach to James’ ghost story—and the earlier screen adaptation “The Innocents”
(1961) directed by Jack Clayton.

In this earlier movie version—Deborah Kerr plays Miss Giddens the governess to the seemingly precocious children of another huge haunted estate. Miles and Flora, as well as Mrs. Grose and the shadowy Peter Quint—these characters interface with Governess Kerr in much the same way as the servants in Amenábar’s “The Others” interact with Kidman the mother of the children.

Except that the level of awareness of Otherness—is more heightened by Alejandro Amenábar. So that the servants and the clairvoyante conducting the séance in the second movie—are all more aware and much more a part of the plausible deniability of the Other than in the first movie.

In fact, Amenábar creates a film noir version of James’ ghost story—very much like Jacques Tourneur creates a similar scenario with “I Walked With a Zombie” (1943). Tourneur, Amenábar, Clayton and James—these directors-writers-magicians play their audiences like a finely-tuned Stradivarius violin. They develop the idea of “Contact” awareness like Stanislaw Lem in “Solaris.” The actors and plots with their various and sundry encounters of the third kind—perform a Contact sport.

“I Walked With a Zombie” is a tragic zombie romance story—out of Inez Wallace’s novel using Curt Siodmak’s screenplay. Francis Dee the naïve nurse, like Deborah Kerr and Nicole Kidman, gradually realizes—that everybody is in on the act except herself. That’s when her contact awareness begins.

It happens through a series of ghostly encounters, journeys through unearthly nightscapes and gradual revelations in regard to the intricacies of voodoo witchcraft and human possession—so that indeed Kidman is a “ghost” or “alien” or “voodoo zombie” just as much as all the others. Otherness opens up like a deadly rose or putrid orchid—such that alien self-awareness happens through the human point of view rather than through a schmaltzy, crummy, Grade-B horror flick kind of direct confrontation with little green men.

Dead Planet XXXIX

Dead Planet XXXIX

“The conceptual limitation
then confirms Lem’s ultimate
message—namely that in
imagining ourselves to be
attempting contact with the
radically Other, we are in
reality merely looking in a
mirror and searching for an
ideal image of our own world.”
—Fredric Jameson,
Archaeologies of the Future:
The Desire Called Utopia
and Other Science Fictions

Fredric Jameson calls it “The Unknowability Thesis” in his “Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions.” Stanislaw Lem the author of “Solaris”—simply shakes his head. There can be no contact—between mankind and any non-human civilization.

Not only that but—“Solaris” is negative proof about writing science fiction itself. For there is no SF writing, no message—and the oceanic Other is merely activating traces within our own brains and projecting them back to us. We become lost like Stilitano—in our own House of Mirrors, nicht wahr?

The servants in Amenábar’s huge mansion know—the psychics in the séance know. Even the piano that plays mysteriously in the middle of the night in the empty room behind locked doors—it knows the awful truth as well. The absence of evidence—isn’t the same as evidence of absence.

In other words, if we may briefly divagate from James into the eerie silence of the SETI soiree (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)—the absence of any evidence to Nicole Kidman that she is a ghost is indeed very different than the kind of evidence that would prove or disprove the existence of ghosts themselves. That Kidman is herself—a ghost.

Kidman must go through her own journey of suspicion—that the huge mansion that she and her two photo-sensitive children are living in is haunted, But surely she and her children are alive and well—and not ghosts themselves? She and her kids are surely doing the ghost hunting—the ghosts are surely the “others” and that’s the real problem?

Gradually, slowly as the plot develops, though—hints are dropped by the servants who appear out of nowhere. Surely there’s something amiss—surely something is not what it appears to be. The wise, solicitous man & wife servant couple—they’re not actually who they appear to be are they? Whoever they are—they’re actually doing more than just taking care of the house, the grounds and doing the domestica Americana sort of things that normal household help does. The day-to-day tasks, chores, cleaning, yard-work, things like that.

In fact, one of the revealing/concealing scenes has the male servant working the yard—raking up leaves. Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? Except he’s raking the leaves over some tombstones—with his wife nodding knowingly about something they themselves know, but which Kidman is clueless. Do the gravestones belong to—the already deceased Kidman and children? Are the servants trying to protect Kidman—or gradually ease her into the realization that she’s already dead and a ghost like them?

Dead Planet XXXVIII

Dead Planet XXXVIII

“On top of these imponderables
is the vexed issue of whether
we should respond to the signal,
by sending our own message to
the aliens. Would that invite dire
consequences, such as invasion
by a fleet of well-armed starships?
Or would it promise deliverance
for a possibly stricken species?”
—Paul Davies, The Eerie Silence:
Renewing Our Search for Alien

Deckard didn’t realize he was alien—until afterwards.

By then it was too late—too late to be anything but more than human. Perhaps that was the Null-A part of the game—alien self-awareness disguised until at some point he’d gradually realize that contact had already been made.

That to become human was the first priority—and then deconstructing that identity delicately was the next order of business. Such a delicate denouement had to be done, well, how was it to be done?

That was the problem—the plausible deniability of being Other. Rather than the other way around. Humans simply couldn’t interface with it—there was just too much baggage and cargo cult flack involved. The Others didn’t want to lose them—like they had done on other worlds.

Mirrors for Observers—don’t always work. They crack sometimes—or a young species gets lost in its own reflections. Infinite regressions. Like Stilitano in Genet’s “Journal of a Thief”—trapped one day in a carnival House of Mirrors. Unable to find himself out of the labyrinth—the audience laughing at him.

Was it that ironically reminiscent, rather oxymoronic quip—that Donald Rumsfeld once made at a news conference? Whether consciously or unconsciously, he’d let the cat out of the bag: “Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence” (on weapons of mass destruction).

It was like Nicole Kidman in that strange Alejandro Amenábar remake of Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” Kidman was the last one to find out—the last one to know the weird, eerie truth. That she was dead already—one of the ghosts in the big haunted mansion. She was one of them—the Others. And not the other way around…

The ghostly disjunct between who Kidman thought she was and who she really was—is like the alien denouement that occurs when Contact is made. In retrospect it seems easy enough to make the connection—but each time is very complex and sometimes humans are like Kidman… without a clue.

Dead Planet XXXVII

Dead Planet XXXVII

“Once the mind and body
are conditioned at a pre-verbal
level, to operate beyond the
assumptions of Aristotelian categories,
and to be aware of the self-reflexive
nature of abstraction, then the mind
is ready to adapt itself to reality as
it is, not as we wish it were.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A
Continuum: Continuing A. E.
van Vogt’s World of Null-A

The kid: “I’m gonna take you somewhere, Rick.”

Rick: “Why, kid? Why not just float here awhile?

The kid: “Ya missed me, huh?”

Rick: “What’d you think, kid?”

The kid: “Oh, I dunno. We gotta get outta Mars pretty soon tho. Know what I mean?”

Rick: “Yeah, I know.”

[Overhead Lizard drones are patrolling Hellas Town night & day. Mopping up the last of the Martian colonialists. The Tower is empty—except for Rick up in the penthouse. His jag-hovercraft ready to take off.]

Dead Planet XXXVI

Dead Planet XXXVI

“Memory is identity.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A
Continuum: Continuing A. E.
van Vogt’s World of Null-A


The kid: “Who was the chick?”

Rick: “That was no chick—that was a lizard droid.”

The kid: “Got somethin’ against droids, Rick?”

[The kid smirks, leans back in the antigrav-Laziboy. It’s in the massage mode. An electro-Camel dangles from his lip—he closes his eyes.]

Rick: “Nah. Just the liz-snake ones. They bug me.”

[Rick fixes himself a drink. Turns on the shower.]

The kid: “So, she tried to make you?”

Rick: “I dunno. Her name was Rachael #69. It’s a long story.”

[Rick kicks his desert boots off—slips outta his jumpsuit. He can’t wait to take a shower after being underground in Snakeville. He finishes off his drink. Gets into the shower.]

The kid: “Tyrell & Co. They must be gettin’ kinda desperate, Rick. If they’re pullin’ that kinda shit on you. They don’t know you that good, do they?”

Rick: “Fuck me. I dunno myself half the time anymore, kid.”

[Rick takes a long shower. Rinsing off the stench of Mars Underground. He’s thinkin’ and feelin’ human again—with the kid back again. He’d turned all that off a month ago—like a light switch. After the pyramid escape, Rick thought he’d never see the kid again. That him & the Predictress had made their escape somewhere safe. But the kid’s back. Rick’s already feelin’ human again—he can think to himself. He admits it—he’s missed the kid. A lot. He lets the hot water bring him back to life. The kid—what is it about him? He has a way of doin’ that. Just being there. Why Rick doesn’t know. It’s more than just a Nexus thing. He’d always taken it for granted. He looks down at himself—he’s alive again down there. That’s for sure.]

The kid: “So Tyrell the Double tried to pump you for info, hmm?”

Rick: “ Oh, the usual.”

[Rick dries himself off in the living room. Fixes another drink. Stands there—looking down at the kid. The kid glances at Rick—smirks. Browses thru the channels.]

Rick: “Yeah, the same old song & dance routine. Every 300 years they shed their skin—it’s the end for the old lizard queen. He knows it—even with the Tyrell clone double-body. The good cop—bad cop routine. It didn’t work.”

The kid: “You’d think they’d give up? It’s me they want, Rick.”

[Rick jiggles the ice cubes in his drink—looking out thru the balcony window. The Martian sunset glows ochre—like a rotten peach.]

Rick: “Yeah, you can say again. Tyrell wants an Exit Visa from the whole mess. He’s sick of the nazi snake empire thing—just as much as everybody else is. Especially now—gettin’ ready to kick the bucket. Funny how things work out, hmm?”

[The kid pulls Rick down into the Laziboy with him. The antigrav adjusts itself—expanding out to cushion them both in mid-air. Rick feels himself fallin’ into REM dreamtime—it feels like comin’ back home. The sunset slides along the Amazonis sea-bottom—stretching out into the desert. Rick hadn’t realized how exhausted he was—his body & mind craved it. REM dreamtime—how long had it been? He drifts off into a much-needed deep sleep…]

The kid: “Yeah, well. They understand, Rick. It’s a two-way proposition—they can’t get anything outta me without you.”

Dead Planet XXXV

Dead Planet XXXV

“The function served by a tool
can be inferred by its design.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

Rick: “You’re a chick with sullen tendencies.”

[Hellas Tower the old resort hotel is ahead & down below them—it looks dumpy & rundown from the air. Half hidden from view behind a bunch of Mars City ruins—it seems especially oppressive to Rick today for some reason.]

Rachael #69: “You saw the way Tyrell was acting today? What's his problem, anyway?”

Rick: “Oh, nothing. He’s just another sulky mulky Serpent, that’s all."

Rachael #69: “I'm an Emo kid too—sulking is the name of the game. And sulking is what I do best. Especially in bed.”

Rick: “Hey, baby. You wanna sulk shake? To kinda go with your cry fries? I love a chick who whines & dines away her time. I’ll make ya whine for more—when I get your fine ass back home. We’ll get down real nice. I’ll take care of your sulky pussy, Rachael."

[Rachel looks down at Hellas Tower. Rick slowly circles it on purpose—checking out the roof for any Creepazoid hover-craft. His lets his right hand move up Rachael’s leg—feeling her up all the way. She smiles.]

Rick: [Shrugs, looking for a place to land] “I heard the lizard-boss whining back there underground. He sure knows how to—make a guy feel sullen & down in the fuckin’ dumps.”

[Rick feels up along Rachael’s nude leg. It looks like flesh—all pink & nice & warm & inviting. But actually it feels cool & smooth like a snake. She’s really a Reptoid snakedroid—disguised as a cute Rachael #69.]

Rick: “Let me adjust your safety belt.”

[Without blinking an eye, Rick hits the belt-button, then hits the Jag-jet door release. Tilting the hover-craft to the right—letting the Rachael lizard-droid fall into space. The cabin roars with air—he closes the door with a click.]

Rick: “So much for fuckin’ Rachael #69. Jaysus Christ, the Lizards are getting good at it. Now they’re doing Nexus-9 Snake chicks—to entice poor stupid fuckers like me.”

[Rick lights up an electronic Marlborough—inhales and breathes it out slowly down thru his nostrils.]

Rick: “Man, oh man. They’ll try anything won’t they? Hmm, Jag boy?”

Jag-jet Voice: “I was kinda goin’ “boing-boing” on that one, Decker. She fooled me—but WTF am I? I’m just another droid bot like her—it’s your Private Dick intuition. It saved your ass again.”

Rick: “Yeah, well, lucky I wasn’t drunk. I might not have noticed the difference. It’s been a l-o-n-g time, don’t ya know, Jet-boy?”

[The gray structure of the Hellas Tower seems to have turned its back on the old Martian sea—at the bidding of some crazy Terra fairy-tale conjuror. The tower facade, with its columns, cracked stairs, and stories stacked on top of each other. The whole thing looks like an old used-up Midwestern grain tower back on Earth—the kind that used to line all the railroad tracks along towns full of wheat belt booty, bent eternally before a blasted winter wind outta nowhere.]

Rick: “Ah, home sweet home. But for how much longer, I wonder?”

[Looking down on the shallow courtyard full of space junk & debris—he circles around it to get a good look at what’s left. No familiar squatter domes, no smells outta Earth-émigré kitchens, no more laundry hanging in the breeze, and down there on the lower floor where the hustlers, hairdressers & tricks used to mingle & gossip about the latest Earthboyz to arrive. Empty & abandoned. Gathering red dust.]

Rick: “Wonder where the kid is now?”

[What’s left of the once swanky interplanetary tourist hotel—now it’s just a massive monolith facing an empty ancient dead shoreline with only two or three unbroken picture windows at the top. A few yards from the colonnade there’s a high concrete wall—beyond that ochre rays of the sunset glint on the aerials of the shut-down local power plant. The tall formal doors of his condo conceal themselves in the shade of a cyclopean balcony—it’s been locked for so long that even the crack between them & the doorway has disappeared under several layers of caked Martian dust. Until recently.]

Rick: “Scan the lower floors, Jag-boy. Any lizards or creepazoids still hangin’ around the joint?”

[The courtyard usually empty, except when an occasional hover-truck used to cautiously squeeze its way in, bringing milk and bread from Feodosia. But all the drifters & riffraff have been cleared out by the Lizards. Deckard’s the only one left—in the Hellas Tower. This evening there isn’t even a Snake or Creepazoid cop in the condo—so there’s no one to notice the individual leaning on the molded balustrade of the balcony, except perhaps for a pair of droid seagulls out on patrol, two white specks drifting across the sky. The stranger is looking up and to the right, toward Deckard getting ready to land on the roof. Down below toward the shelter on the dock—the cone of a semi-dead loudspeaker lodged under the edge of some ruined tiles of a collapsed roof. The sea is soundless—but when the wind blows toward the hotel, it carries audible snatches of some kind of radio broadcast directed at the deserted beach. The Lizards scan the beach—checking out the dead city.]

Jag-jet Voice: "No lizards or creepazoids down there... The Lizards are playing another one of their Snake Religious Broadcasts, tho…"

Lizard announcer: “…not at all the same as each other, not cut to the same pattern ... created us all different; is not this part of the grand scheme of things, counted, unlike the transient plans of Monkey-man fools, in many ... What does the Lizard Lord expect of us, as He turns His hopeful gaze in our direction? Will we be able to make use of His gift? ... For He Himself does not know what to expect from the souls that He has sent to Mars..."

[Then comes the strains of a church organ. The melody is majestic, but from time to time it’s interrupted by an absurd "Oompah-Oompah"; in any case, there’s no chance to become caught up in the music, because very quickly it’s replaced once again by the voice of the Lizard announcer.]

Lizard announcer: "You have been listening to a broadcast from Snake Inc. especially prepared for our station by the Lizard Charity of The Rivers of Babylon ... on Sundays ... to the following address: The Voice of God, Bliss City, Amazonis, Mars."

[Deckard lands his Jag-jet on the roof. He knows who’s waiting for him on the balcony. It’s the kid—back again it seems.]

Rick: “Wonder what he’s got goin’ now? Probably up to no good. Knowin’ him—he’s got something goin’ on tho.”

Dead Planet XXXIV

Dead Planet XXXIV

“When the symbols an organism
uses to grasp and manipulate
reality are false-to-the-facts, this
is called a semantic disturbance.
Sanity is approached by checking
symbols against their referents.
Neurosis results from the attempt
to protect false-to-the-facts
associations from criticism.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

[Rachael#69: meets Rick leaving the greenhouse.]

Rick: “You wanna tell me now?”

Rachael#69: “Tell you what?”

Rick: “What it is you're trying to find out this time?

[Rachael#69 pretends to look puzzled.]

Rick: “You know, it's a funny thing. You or one of your Rachel clones are always trying to find out things. Like what Tyrell’s trying to find out. And I'm not trying to find out anything. He wanted to talk to me, that’s all.”

Rachael#69: “You could go on forever, couldn't you? Anyway it'll give us something to talk about next time we meet.”

Rick: “Among other things.”

Rachael#69: “If you can use me again sometime, call this number.”

Rick: “Day or night?”

Rachael#69: “Uh, day's better. The snakes sleep then.”

Rick: “Hmm-hmm.”

Rachael#69: “Your story doesn’t sound quite right.”

Rick: “What story? Gotta a better one?”

Rachael#69: “Maybe I can find one.”

Rick: “Did I hurt you much, sugar?”

Rachael#69: "You and every other man I've ever met.”

Rick: “How'd you happen to pick out this Snake? The one back there in the greenhouse. The Head Snake?”

Rachael#69: “Maybe I wanted to hold his hand.”

Rick: “Oh, you can do better than that.”

Rachael#69: “You're cute.”

Rick: “I'm getting cuter every minute.”

Rachael#69: “Is the kid as cute as you are?”

Rick: “Nobody is.”

Rachael#69: “What will your next step be?”

Rick: “The usual one.”

Rachael#69: “I didn't know there was a usual one.”

Rick: “Well sure there is—it comes complete with diagrams on page 47 on how to be a detective. In 10 easy lessons. Distance learning is cheap these days, you know? And uh, plus I collect blondes and whiskey bottles too.”

Rachael#69: [again] “You're cute. I like you.”

Rick: “Yeah, what you see’s what you get, Rachel. I’ve got a Balinese dancing girl tattooed across my chest.”

Rachael#69: [again] “You're cute. I like you. I like you too much.”

Rick: “Yeah, that’s what all you Rachael clones say. How many of them are there?”

Rachael#69: “I’m #69. Tyrell liked that Nexus model. He created a lot of us—here & there.”

Rick: “Yeah, I know. But I liked the first one. She was the best. The only droid chick I ever loved.”

Rachael#69: “He’s getting ready to croak, you know. The Tyrell clone. The Lizards live 300 years—but his time is just about up. I feel sorry for him.”

Rick: “I didn’t know you droid-chicks loved anybody?”

Rachael#69: “Your Rachael loved you, Rick.”

Rick: “Yeah, but she couldn’t help it. My animal charms turned her humanoid.”

Rachael#69: “And the Predictress?”

Rick: “See? There you go. Tryin’ to weasel secrets outta me. She’s a droid like you—why don’t you ask her, sweetheart?”

Rachael#69: “I would, but nobody knows where she is. Her and the kid. They’ve been pushing me to find out. Before it’s too late?”

Rick: “Too late?”

Rachael#69: “Well, duh. You know the Lizard lord is dying. The Tyrell clone didn’t cough-up much anything. Except…”

Rick: “Except what?”

Rachael#69: “C’mon, Rick. Now you’re the one grilling me for secrets.”

[Rachael and Rick reach the elevator hatch. The doors dial open silently—to whisk him back to his Jag-jet ten miles up above. Outta subsurface Mars Underground City—to the freedom of fresh Martian sunshine & air.]

Rick: “Touché, my dear. I owe you one.”

Rachael#69: “You know what he wants, don’t you?”

Rick: [Smiling, lighting up an electronic Marlboro.]

Rachael#69: “He wants an Exit Visa. He knows Lizards have no afterlives. Only humans.”

Rick: “What does he expect? His Tyrell charade is as fuckin’ close—as he’ll ever get to being human.”

Rachael#69: “That’s what I mean. He likes it too much. It gave him a taste for being human. He wants to go all the way. He’s bored with being a Snake—even if he’s the head Lizard Lord.”

Rick: “Sweetheart, these tunnels are tapped. He’s listening to us right now. I hope you realize that.”

Rachael#69: “He told me to tell you all this.”

Rick: “Why didn’t he ask me himself?”

Rachael#69: “He’s too proud. Lizard lords don’t ever admit they’re wrong. To say he wants to be human—it’s treason to the Lizard Universe.”

Rick: “Exit visas—they’re hard to come by.”

Rachael#69: “He knows that.”

Rick: “What’s he want me to do? What’s in it for me?”

Rachael#69: “You get to live.”

Rick: “Yeah, but for how long? Once Lizards get what they want—they off you just like that.”

Rachael#69: “You’re his last hope. Tyrell’s research & the Martian Archives hit a brick wall—when it comes to that sort of thing.”

Rick: “What sort of thing?”

Rachael#69: “You know. The kinda stuff the kid’s into—and the Predictress. The Mayan connection—the pyramids, time-travel & all that stuff.”

Rick: “I gotta go now, honey. I’m startin’ to feel claustrophobic down here.”

Rachael#69: “You’re always the difficult kind, Rick.”

Rick: “That’s what everybody says, honey.”

Rachael#69: “Will I see you again, sometime?”

Rick: “We gotta stop meetin’ this way.”

Rachael#69: “Can I go home with you?”

Dead Planet XXXIII

Dead Planet XXXIII

“The process of false identification
takes place at a subconscious level:
With proper training, the mind can
be made aware of these subliminal
processes and subject them to human,
as opposed to animal, abstraction.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Do you like Venusian orchids, Mr. Decker?”

Rick: “Not particularly.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Ugh. Nasty things. Their flesh is too much like the flesh of human beings—their perfume has the rotten jungle sweetness of monkey-brains & putrid rotting ape-shit.”

Rick: “Oh, c’mon Tyrell, you don't have to get carried away like that with me. We both know you hate us humans—us naked apes are pure anathema to you & your calm, cool Reptoid race. Anybody watching you—sitting there in that anti-grav wheelchair. Knows you’re on your last snaky slither, my dear Lizard lord. With your long pink forked tongue—slithering in & outta your old decrepit slit-mouth.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Hiss!!!”

Rick: “Oh dear me, said little Goldilocks to the Big Bad Wolf posing as dearest Grandma. Oh Grandma!!! What big ugly vertical slit-irises—your big old bedroom eyes have!”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Hiss!!!”

Rick: “Why don’t you just save everybody a lot of grief—and fuckin’ wear some decent dark sunglasses, Tyrell? That way the rest of us—won’t have to look at your skanky Snake Eyes all the time? Do me a favor, Tyrell. Cross your heart—and hope to die. Tell me—the honest-to-gawd truth. Is that you inside there—or just another Lizard queen?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You stinkin’ ugly monkeys—you’re impossibly impertinent even to the very End.”

Rick: “Well, I can't imagine, Tyrell. But you seem to be worried about the End a lot more than me? You have me tailed all the time. Your snakes stalk me—everywhere I go. Do they have the hots for me—that fuckin’ much?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “I don’t like you that much, Deckard.” [smirk]

Rick: “Really? Then why did you want to see me?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You’re not here, Deckard. You haven't seen me and we both aren’t having this little discussion in my underground greenhouse this evening.”

Rick: “Have it your own way, Tyrell. I’ve been getting used to the cold shoulder treatment from everybody, Mr. Snakeman. All the way from Marty the Martian—to you now. So what else is new?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You’ve been in bed for several days & nights now, Mr. Deckard. Dreaming your ho-hum REM life away. We were beginning to think you worked in bed—all the time like that Miss Marcel Proust?”

Rick: “Who's she?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Oh, you wouldn't know her, a faggy French writer.”

Rick: “Sounds like the kinda guy who wouldn’t ask a chick—“Won’t ya come up? Up to my boudoir, my dear? And see my etchings?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You’re so clever, Mr. Decker. Too bad you’re not a Snake. We could use somebody like you with some brains—on our side.”

Rick: “I’m surprised at you, Dr. Tyrell. Willing to do some horse-trading now with the enemy? My monkey-brains—for your loser snake-skin? I didn’t know you Lizards played the horses?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “We don’t. We play humans.”

Rick: “Yeah, I know. The odds are pretty much against us human beings right now. Aren’t they?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Speaking of horses, Deckard. I used to go to the track regularly. When I was Tyrell. I learned how to pick a winner. I usually like to see them workout a little first, see if they're front runners or come from behind, find out what their whole card is, you know, like what makes them run? What makes you run, Mr. Deckard, hmm?”

Rick: “Oh I don’t know. Money I guess.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Perhaps. I think you’re more complicated that just that, tho.”

Rick: “Go ahead.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “I'd say you don't like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.”

Rick: “You don't like to be rated yourself?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “I haven't met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?”

Rick: “Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but I don't know how. It must be what’s left of Tyrell inside you. Before you became his rider.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “A lot depends on who's in the saddle. What if I was your Jockey instead of Tyrell’s?”

Rick: “I’m simply shocked, Tyrell. Is that really a proposition?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You go too far, Deckard.”

Rick: “Those are harsh words to throw at a man—especially when he's been commandeered to show up in your greenhouse boudoir.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You've forgotten one thing—I’m only half lizard.”

Rick: “What's wrong with that? Tired of being a Snake all the time?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Nothing you can't fix.

Rick [laughs]: “You go too far, Dr. Tyrell.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “I just don't care much for your manners, Mr. Deckard. You’re not management material like Tyrell. But maybe we could make a deal? We could become a snake he-man transplant?”

Rick: “No thanks. I'm not crazy about that one. Yawn. Like I didn't ask to see you, Dr. Tyrell. So what’s up?”

[Tyrell levitates his anti-grav wheelchair in a more comfortable position. The Siamese twin game he’s been playing with Tyrell is wearing off. He’s phasing back into Lizardhood like a blurry vidscreen image. It’s only with a great deal of concentration & will-power that the Snake lord maintains the conjoined consciousness of being—both human and lizard.]

Tyrell (Lizard double): “I just can’t stand your monkey-mind, Rick. If only you weren’t so wise-ass & cocky. Dealing with the other Lizard lords is bad enough—but you’re just as bad or worse than them.”

Rick: “I don't mind if you don't like my manners—I don't like them myself. They are pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings. I don't mind you propositioning me—but surely you’re digging the bottom of the barrel. I’m just a has-been Terra private-dick—nothing but Soylent green glue-factory material. You don't have to waste your time playing games cross-examining me. I don’t know nothin’, Tyrell—and nothin’ really knows me.”

[Rick reaches under the Lizard’s shawl covering his lap & snatches a zoid-gun outta the lizard weak clenched fist. Flipping it into the greenhouse greenery—it lands & skids in the moss & ferns.]

Rick: “My, my, my! Such a lot of guns around Snakeville today & so few brains! You know, you're the second lizard I've met today that seems to think a gat in the hand means the world by the lizard tail.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “What makes you tick, Mr. Deckard?”

Rick: “Too many people telling me to stop.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Very smooth, Mr. Deckard.”

[switching positions with his anti-grave wheelchair]

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You may smoke, if you wish. I actually enjoy the smell of it—even tho I’m not totally human anymore. Yes, a fine state of affairs when a Lizard-man once who ruled the Vega star system—has to indulge his vices by proxy. You're looking, sir, at a very dull Lizard lord who led a very snaky life. The Dark Force took over my body—body & lizard-soul. Now I’m crippled, paralyzed in both legs, I don’t eat and my sleep is so near death it's hardly worth doing. The other Lizards keep me alive—to play this insipid Tyrell avatar game with gentlemen like you.”

Rick: “That’s what they say—you were once El Primo Snako Numeral Ouzo. The genius snake. Now you’re playing a two-bit part-time “Dr. Tyrell” stooge. You’re the Scientist Who Came In From the Cold. Why do you keep doing it? Don’t you Snakes ever retire?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “You're the private detective. What do you think, Mr. Deckard? Am I still any good?”

Rick: “Well, either way you’re fucked, aren’t you?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “If I seem a bit rundown & low-energy, Mr. Deckard, it’s because I don’t have much time left. I’m just a washed-up Snake & has-been Earth Scientist now, Mr. Deckard. My hold on life is so slight anymore—I don’t really care very much anymore, sir. A hypocritical, aloof dystopian Snake—that’s me. I surely deserve what I get.”

[Tyrell (Lizard double) lights up a cigarette—a rare ersatz Camel cigarette. He breathes in the rich tobacco, holds it, then exhales it thru his humanoid nostrils. The real Tyrell did the same thing—a rare guilty pleasure he kept to himself from Earth.]

Rick: “I assume you’ve adopted—all of Tyrell’s usual vices, Snako El Primo? Whether you’re half-human or half-snake. We humans aren’t that stupid, are we? But then, does it really matter anymore?”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “I only wish my fellow Lizard lords were as succinct & to-the-point as you Mr. Deckard.”

Dead Planet XXXII

Dead Planet XXXII

“The advantage of non-Aristotelian
integration over the stereotyped
reflexes of categorical thought is
greater flexibility of mental adjust-
ment of abstractions to the facts
they represent.”—John C. Wright,
Null-A Continuum: Continuing
A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

[Meanwhile in Mars City Underground—Tyrell (Lizard double) is having a last-minute conference]

Tyrell (Lizard double): [Addressing the Lizard lords gathered around the conference table. The same headquarters table—that the TyrellCorp used for meetings. Except this time—it’s for Lizards only.]

“Greetings, fellow Lizard Lords & Snake Princes. There’s something we must now discuss. It’s about the monotonously oppressive & depressing monkey melancholy—I’ve had to go thru dealing with Detective Deckard’s human REM dreaming. I always hate to tele-dream that way. I have this nervous sub-cortical disgust & uneasiness for that despicable human being. A repulsive aversion to dreaming into his primitive monkey brain-thought patterns.”

[The Lizard lords in the conference room hiss nervously in agreement. Some of them pound on the table with their gloved fists. Others narrow their slit-eyes—fingering themselves under the table.]

Tyrell (Lizard double): “He’s just too fuckin’ jungle lucid—much too primitive & hairy for me. Too much hominid ignorance & bad breath impinging on my pristine Snake cerebrum. Each time I’m around him—his monkey presence smears & profanes me with his dirty, nasty monkey-brain subconscious. Forcing its way rudely into my pure lily-white smooth snake consciousness—how tiring it gets, my fellow Snakes.”

“I don’t know how Deckard can stand it—surely he must yearn for some other non-hominid exo-reality where it would be impossible for him to not be so sickeningly sad & naked ape melancholy that way all the time? That phrase “All too human” means just that—“all too fuckin’ human.” What a waste of time & lizard energy—dealing with these creatures. The sooner our calm, cool Snake Consciousness—takes over this stinkin’ hominid Solar System. The better off our Empire & all of us will surely be—that’s for sure.”

[Hissing fills the conference room. Lights dim. The air-conditioning system almost fails. Everything humans construct is falling apart. Snakes have to drag in human technicians to fix the crumbling infrastructure. In many ways, it’s like that classic decadent Earth movie “Brazil”—technological decay & crippling kipple have set in & there’s no stopping it.]

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt. We Snakes of the Garden of Eden—we got rid of the humans—and now it’s time to reclaim the Garden of Earth as our own once again!!! Let the Snake Pandora’s Box be opened one last time—let the Fig Leave reveal the Monkey’s Dirty Dong of Doom once again!!!”

[The Lizard Council hisses even louder in agreement—the timetable must be set up faster. It’s urgent & terribly necessary to rid the solar interplanetary realm—of stupid naked Adamic monkey brains forever.]

Tyrell (Lizard double): ”The Head of our Medusa Goddess. That's who’s in the Box—and when her deadly gaze looks out at the universe, then everything will be changed forever!!! Not into mere pillars of salt & stone—but into living breathing glorious Reptoid Beingness! Not brimstone and ashes—not Sodom & Miss G. But of course, my fellow Lizard Lords—I’m just preaching to the choir. All of you know that already—we the blessed Medusa Minions of the New Millennium. We who never have a Bad Hair Day—we who proudly wear the Writhing Snake Coiffure of the Medusa Goddess. We who bear the Art Deco Zig-Zag Wig—of the great Bride of Frankenstein!!!”

[The Lizards lose it completely—the Conference Room turns into a Cosmic Alligator Pit of Anger. Lizard Kings & Queens—start wrestling with each other on the conference table. Crocodile tears flow like rivers of darkness—flooding the fetid humid Lizard underground headquarters there beneath Mars.]

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Listen to me, my slithery all-knowing Fellow Lizard Lovers. Even if I were the beast-god Cerberus himself—barking with all his heads by the gates of hell. I would still tell you the same thing—it’s time to Open Pandora’s Box & Let Snakehood Goddess Free Once Again!!!”

[Leaning down over the vidscreen image of Deckard—descending in the elevator to a meeting with the Head Lord Lizard himself. ]

Tyrell (Lizard double): “See, there he is. This time I’ll take care of him myself. I’ll use my Snake charm & Lizard suavity—to turn him into a reasonable monkey. I’m going to meet him now—in my special greenhouse conservatory. We’ll make a deal. A deal worth it—for him to drag himself outta the hominid gutter & into my clutches. I’ll learn the secret of his Nexus droid—and his Predictress courtesan.”

A Lizard Lord warns: “Careful, Deckard’s a smoothie. He's a professional bedroom dick you know.”

Tyrell (Lizard double): “Hmm, you’re right. I didn’t think of that. He’s probably immune—to my mind-fuck manipulation games. I’ll try out a humanoid avatar first.”

Gas station attendant (Lizard double):

[Supposedly admiring Rick’s old hover-craft up above]

“Jaysus Christ, Mr. Decker—what a beautiful classic old Jag hover-craft! This Jag model’s worth plenty, big time Mr. Decker!!! How much you want for it?”

Rick: “Sorry, kid. I’m married to that old Jag now.”

[So much for the Jag hover-craft ploy, the Lizard lords down below say. They ponder other ways—to influence Decker’s mind-set. Maybe they’ll just let Tyrell the Lizard double handle it his own way.]

Dead Planet XXXI

Dead Planet XXXI

“The general rule is that any
notions of identity are simplifications
of a more complex underlying reality;
this rule applies to self-identification
as well.”—John C. Wright, Null-A
Continuum: Continuing A. E. van
Vogt’s World of Null-A

Deckard can’t help but notice—how utterly, tragically, completely depressing Hellas Town has become. Flying low over the shabby concrete city jungle—he slows down to get a good look at how everything has really gone downhill fast.

The Lizards down below are mopping up—the has-beens, the old hanger-on Martian crowd, the bums & loonies, the smalltime hoodlums, the drifters & young hustlers from Terra still hangin’ around town. They’re all being rounded up by the Creepazoid cops & Lizard heavies.

Deckard tilts his hover-craft to the left. “Oh jeez,” he says. “They’ve closing the old Amazon Pawn Shop—what a raw fuckin’ deal.”

The old couple, Joe & Gardenia, look up & wave to Deckard. He’d land and say goodbye—but he knows where they’re going. To the Soylent Green glue factory—for lizard food. That’s where.

“Pretty soon they’ll be coming for me too,” Deckard says to himself.

He guns it back for the Tower—thinking fast, pretty much deciding what to pack & what to burn. He’s been the man in the high tower long enough, that’s for sure. Mars was good while it lasted—but nothin’ lasts forever these dayz. Where to go now tho—with the fuckin’ snakes everywhere?

Deckard can’t help but look down—getting into how crummy & film noir the whole planet has become. Mars reminds him of an old ‘50s gangster movie—that one with Sterling Hayden in it. What was the name of it? Asphalt Planet? Asphalt Jungle?

“I forget—but I can still see those opening credits. Crawling down that Saturday night movie screen—back in the those good old movie palace dayz like the Rialto & Golden Gate.”

Far down below—the crumbling ruins of an old gone Martian city. A crummy canal-front—rundown spaceport hangars, power wires looping overhead, crumbling curbs lining the dirty streets, pot-hole asphalt abandoned alleys, garbage lying around.

Grey concrete bridge columns, decrepit plastic apartment houses falling apart, Chandler-esque kipple fading fast, decaying terminals leaning against each other till they fall down, last minute crime just waiting to happen, growing on things like green mold on cheese, a kind of dying Earth city like Cincinnati, taking its own sweet rotten time, kicking the bucket the slow way, one desperate Martian hoodlum at a time…

“And I’m the last has-been hold-out—me just another two-bit private dick hoodlum. Marty the Martian & Dick Handley—they’ll get the fuck out in time. Their kind always thinks fast—when it comes to their own fuckin’ skins first. They know when the game’s up. When the rats need to abandon ship. They’ll move on to some other casino planetoid or Las Vegas moon. Probably Titan Town—that’s where the dismal dregs & reject gang lords are migrating to. As if it’ll do ‘em any good…”

“The Snakes got me in their slant-eye sights—me & the other two,” Deckard says to himself. “The kid & that Predictress dame—that young dynamic droid couple hiding out somewhere. They better keep playin’ low too—if they know what’s good for them. They must know somethin’ I don’t know—something big & nasty. Bad enough to get the lizards & snakes all upset—so fuckin’ nervous & nosy.”

“Everybody scramblin’ for their own precious Exit Visa—even the Tyrell lord lizard double & his gang. The creepazoids heavies want out too—they’re sure getting desperate about something. Funny how things work out,” Deckard says to himself. “The snakes & creeps more worried than me,” Deckard smirks to himself.

The Jag hover-craft takes a quick dive—and then changes course for the Hellas Town limits not far away. That’s where Deckard’s Jag-jet is headed for now—the bleeper on the vidscreen blinking emergency red. He leans back in his Jag pilot seat. The controls have been taken over—now they’re on automatic. There’s nothing Deckard can do—except let the hovercraft go where it’s told to go.

“Destination: Tyrell (Lizard double) bunker,” says the Jag-craft voice. “Arrival time: two minutes. Urgent detour: No cancellation possible. You’re expected soon, Detective Deckard.”

“Who cares,” Deckard shrugs. He adjusts his shoulder-holster tighter into his armpit. A zoid-gun hugging him close—it always made him feel better.

“Everything was getting too easy anyway,” he says to himself. “There for awhile I wondered what was up. Something’s gotta be really wrong big time—with the Lizard agenda in free-fall this way.”

“I’ve been thinkin’ the same thing the Jag-jet droid said on the intercom. “Them pussy-footin’ around with you all the time.”

“No shit,” Deckard says.

“Now it’s even more apparent,” the Jag-jet droid opined. “The lower-level slugs & heavies like Lt. Snake? They’ve failed, haven’t they Rick? So now it’s time for the big shots to make their move. It’s about time. I’ve been waitin’ for them to play their crummy cards—ever since we got outta that Martian pyramid, remember?”

“Yeah, Jag—I remember. Some of it anyway. The kid did the heavy lifting tho—him and the Predictress queen. Oh well…”

They were getting close to the Hellas Town city limits. Deckard wondered what the Tyrell clone had in mind this time? More fun & games? Maybe it’s too late for that—maybe he’d waited too long?

“Oh well, Jag, everything else is goin’ down the shitter. Might as well be yours truly too, hmm big guy?”

The Jag-jet doesn’t answer—it’d never been a very talkative droid. Only in a pinch—it’d bitch about something or other.

The underground bunker doors up ahead—they’ve begun sliding slowly back. The Lizard tractor-beams—gently grab hold & pretty soon Deckard finds himself in an elevator. Slowly taking its time—descending 10 miles into the heart of the beast. The monsters waiting for him—down there in Mars Town Underground…

Dead Planet XXX

“Categorization, the mental act
of treating individuals as identical
members of a class, is an abstraction
whose accuracy must be always
open to question.”—John C. Wright,
Null-A Continuum: Continuing
A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

[“First, you find a little thread, the little thread leads you to a string, and the string leads you to a rope, and from the rope you hang by the neck. What kind of thing was coming down—and what did it have to do with him?”]

Rick: “Okay, what should I do now?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “You can't top this deal. They said they'd let us both breathe some.”

Rick: “What does that mean?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “It means, Rick, we gotta play it low. We don’t know each other anymore. You don't look like anyone I know, right? Goodbye. And stay away—you’re nothin’ but Trouble from now on. With a big fat capitol T.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Yeah, who’re you?”

Rick: “Who am I? Who are you?”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “I'm Friday. You’re Saturday—I don’t know shit about tomorrow. I'm here today—but you’re the tomorrow man. Get it? Friday, Saturday, Sunday—what’s the difference? You know, you're not anybody anymore. Not Dix Handley the Heavy’s friend or Marty “The Martian” Augustine’s friend either.”

Rick: “I know what you mean. I’m on my own.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Maybe I’d be your friend—if the price was right, tho?

Rick: “Oh, great. Then you can be my friend, all mine—nothing but love & kisses. How much?

Dix Handley the Heavy: “What d’ya got?”

Rick: “A cigarette.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “A C-note gets ya zip.”

Rick: “How about a James Madison?”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Maybe—maybe not.”

[Rick hands him the bill Augustine found on him. What’s good for the Boss—is good for the Heavy.]

Dix: “What do I have to do?”

Rick: “I want you to be around. Just in case I need some muscle. I don’t trust the Lizards an inch.”

Dix: “Maybe.”

Rick: “Maybe if your boss says maybe.”

Dix: “Maybe.”

Rick: “Let's see how good you are at spelling. Can you spell the word "Los Angeles?”

Dix: “LA spells "Trouble."

Rick: “That's a good boy. Now you practice saying that. Because one of the best ways to be friendly with me—is to know what LA means.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “I just heard about LA on the vidscreen a couple of minutes ago. How’d you know?”

Rick: ”Twenty years, I lived in LA. Did in a lotta droids. LA doesn’t exist anymore.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah?”

Rick: “They’re parking it—in Saturn orbit. Along with the rest of Earth. There goes the Terra Mob.”

[Rick leaves Marty & Dix sitting there—their jaws hitting the floor. He takes off in his Jag hover-craft—heading back home. Thinking about things.]

Dead Planet XXIX

Dead Planet XXIX

“Every identity is distinct.
No matter their overt similarity,
one of any two objects in a class
of objects is an individual.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

[The Predictress materializes in Deckard’s apartment. The Lizards have put him under house arrest—after not getting anything outta him in the orbiting Snake Ship. Nor with Marty "The Martian" Augustine. The kid’s REM training—has made Deckard a hard nut to crack. Phasing in & out of brain patterns randomly—a real mess of alpha, beta & delta humanoid buzz & static. Hard to pin down—or predict. It’s been 3 weeks since the Pyramid Affair. Deckard can’t visit his pals in his hover-craft—he’s grounded & being monitored every minute. His escape from the prison-ship being planned—resulting in no leads either.]

Predictress: “Well, Deckard…here you are.”

Rick: “Well, well, here yourself, sweetheart... If it isn’t the Fugitive Predictress—welcome back to the Laughing House! [Both laughing]

Predictress: “They were blocking us.”

Rick: “Do me a favor, will you? Keep away from the patio & windows. Somebody might... blow you a kiss.”

Predictress: “Kiss me, Mike. I want you to kiss me. Kiss me. A liar's kiss that says I love you, and means something more.”

Rick: “Whoa, honey. The kid must’ve shared some of his Earthboy hormones & wisdom with you—while you two were gone. Those Nexus boyz sure are devil droids—aren’t they?”

Predictress: “I apologize, Rick. You’re right. He made me realize there’s more to being an android—than just the usual cyborg-asexuality. He’s learned a lot about being human—living with a guy like you. And he gave me—some of it…”

Rick: “Listen, sweetheart. Get yourselves to nearest droid-zeit bus stop—and forget you ever saw me. If you don't get outta here—things might not work out the way you want.”

Predictress: “We can’t—we need you.”

Rick: “If you need me—then you’re the only ones on Mars who does. Everybody else has been tryin’ to shut me down—pretty soon permanently, that’s my guess.”

Predictress: “The kid told me—you’ve got only one real lasting love.”

Rick: “Well, it isn’t him—I can tell you that.”

Predictress: “He knows that. He said you're one of those selfish, self-indulgent males—who thinks only about himself. Your car, your zoid-gun, yourself. He said the only reason you do push-ups every morning—is just to keep your belly hard.”

Rick: “I gotta do that, girl. I gotta be able to still see my dick. I got pride, you know. Sorta. Kinda.”

Predictress: “I could tolerate flabby muscles in a man—if it'd make him more human. He said you give a lot in a relationship—but after Rachael you gave up. Us woman-droids—what is it we can do to make you love again?”

Rick: “WTF—there’s more than enough Rachael dames hanging around. They get me in trouble—then they get me outta trouble. Either way it’s a losing proposition—I’m getting’ too old for the game.”

Predictress: “The same with the kid?”

Rick: “What's this all about? I'll make a quick guess. You were out with the kid—and you thought love was gonna be more than just a four-letter word? But with the kid—it’s a two-prong proposition ain’t it? Was he too much for you—he can go on all night long if he wants. Did he go queer on you—or something?”

Predictress: “No. But I looked into his future.”

Rick: “Yeah? What did’ya see, hmm?”

Predictress: “I wasn’t there. But you were.”

Rick: “Well, don’t worry about that. I doubt that’s ever gonna happen—at the rate things are happening around this joint. I don’t expect either one of us—to survive this Lizard War. You two might—you’ve got ways to come & go. I’m stuck here—nowhere else to go.”

Predictress: “They’ve lost Los Angeles. No bus stops—in & outta there anymore. The Lizards are tractor-beaming Earth outta orbit—terraforming it on the way out to Saturn. It’s gonna be their new homebase—it’s gonna be Lizard Alpha for the incoming Snakes.”

[Deckard doesn’t say anything—Marty & the Martian Mob ain’t gonna like this one.]

Deckard: “Do you always go around with no clothes on?”

Predictress: [smiling] “The kid likes it that way.”

Rick: “I can see why. I’m happy for both of you.”

Predictress: “We followed what happened to you. Your coma—the reptilian interrogation. You were under for three dayz—the kid thought he’d have to get you a new tux & bury your corpse.”
Rick: “Sounds like him. You better get goin’. They’re monitoring this place bad.”

[Predictress dematerializes into thin air]

[A few minutes later—the Creepazoids bust down the door]

Lieutenant Snake: “C’mon, Rick. We know she was here. Why don't you tell us what you know? Then step aside like a nice fella—and let us professionals do our job.”

Rick: “What's in it for me?”

Lieutenant Snake: “Like what did the Predictress say? She was blocking us out. What did she want?”

Rick: “She told me she wanted to go to bed with me. We just had time enough for a quickie—and then she's gone.”
Rick: “An ordinary private eye gets nailed—his droid partner escapes. It rings bells all the way to Titan Town & Venus City. There's gotta be a pitch—I’m just some private dick—the kid just another usual suspect. What was the big deal? Maybe we got into a pyramid by mistake—so what, big deal. We got outta there as fast as we could. All hell breaks loose—it’s still goin’ on. WTF—I don’t know nothin’, boss.”

Lieutenant Snake: “You lie. Nobody can get down that quick, Deckard. Not even a private dick like you.”

Rick: “I was horny, that’s all. You’ve grounded my hover-craft on the roof. No dames or chicks come see me. She teleported herself onto my face—android-precogs are good at doing quickies, you know Lt. Snake?”

Lieutenant Snake: “You were with her the night she disappeared. With your android buddy boy. She knows a lot of things. She can see into the future. She was part of Tyrell’s exo-archeology team. She must have talked and told you something... If she knew something—you'd know it, dope. C’mon, what was it Deckard—something about the Lizards? They wanna know bad. She knows too much—what are we gonna do with you, asshole?”

Rick: “I dunno. Do like everybody else. Beat the shit outta me. What good would that do, Lt. Snake? You know us humans by now. We’re just a bunch of stupid naked apes—compared with you guyz.”

Lieutenant Snake: “Lizards live longer than monkeys. That’s all. You monkeys are clever—you can’t be trusted.”

Rick: What does it matter? My retirement gets interrupted, my hover-craft gets grounded, my life gets roughed-up, to put it mildly. If you hadn’t made a play for this solar system again—none of this would’ve happened. So let's pretend—you didn’t take over.”

Lieutenant Snake: “Well, we're gonna steer away from these penny-ante runaway cases like yours for a while. I've got a line on something better.

[Rick raises his eyebrow—acts disinterested. Acting disinterested—not taking the bait right away. A cop’s hint on purpose—about something big. An invitation—worth following up on.]

Rick: “Can I have my hover-craft back? And my zoid-gun?”

Lieutenant Snake: “Why not? You’re just small-change now. You’re free to come & go now, Deckard.”

[Deckard’s really curious now. He wants to know what’s up. Or what’s comin' down. Something’s up—that’s for sure. Lt. Snake smiles & leaves.]