Sci-Fi Setting: Humans Are Not Average

It seems to me that every time humans are mentioned in fantasy or science fiction settings that include other races, humans are average. This applies to most games that give a choice of races to play, or to science-fiction settings that include a whole gallery of aliens.

That gave me the idea for a setting where humans are decidedly non-average in some way. The story, which I have neither plot nor characters for, would take place in modern times. But the backstory would go back about 1,000 years, to when aliens landed on Earth. These particular aliens were explorers, seeking only to catalog the local flora and fauna on the planet. They landed in Northern Europe, and were dismayed when their studies turned up a version of the bubonic plague that had not yet evolved to attack humans. According to their calculations, there was a 98.2% chance that this plague would evolve into a superbug and cause a planet-wide die-off of humans and other animal species. These explorers didn’t have the medical technology to avert the crisis, so they decided to rescue as many humans as they could with their spaceship, and take them back to civilized space to start anew, with alien technology to help them adapt.

Nine hundred years later, the descendents of those original humans who were “saved” are now an equal part of a interplanetary federation of sentient species, far away from the presumed ruined world of Earth. Another explorer ship travels to Earth to investigate strange radio transmissions, and discovers humans still on Earth, quietly building an impressive society of their own. The aliens decide not to open contact with Earth yet, merely to observe for the time being. Continue reading

Story

This is a short story I wrote in late 2009. If you think the beginning is poorly written fantasy, don’t be fooled — that’s deliberate. Anyway, here we go. Story, by A. Segal.

“No! This cannot be! I am … the BLACK ENCHANTER! … I cannot … be … defeated …”

“It’s over, you fiend!” cried Ryu, the ninja monk. “Only true friendship, compassion, and love can command the power of the Seven Shards.”

Ryu looked at his friend, the white wizard Gandor, for encouragement. Gandor nodded back. United by a common purpose, the adventuring party had traveled the world searching for the Seven Shards of Solana. The quest had been long. It had been difficult. And even now, with the Black Enchanter seemingly cowed and broken, Ryu was not certain his labors had reached their true conclusion. The Dark One was all but melting before them. And yet, thought Ryu, it was all too easy. The fight had been so much simpler than he had imagined it would be…

Without warning, the men felt a tremor from the earth below. Ryu looked down at the shaking stone floor, then up at the painted ceiling. The huge, overhead fresco depicted the Black Enchanter standing atop the world’s highest mountain, holding the planet in his hand and laughing. Now, the globe in the painting seemed somehow to be growing, blocking out the Enchanter. Was this proof of the Seven Shards’ power? Had the Earth Mother already started to reject the evildoer’s influence? Or was the ceiling…

“Collapsing!” cried Ryu. With lightning speed, he ran over to his compatriot Aleksei. Just in time, Ryu pushed the Swordsman of Justice clear of the falling rock.

As fast as they could, Gandor, Ryu, Aleksei, and the fire mage Ignado ran from the crumbling fortress. As they neared the front gates and safety, they heard a shrill voice echoing behind them.

“This… isn’t… over…!” the Enchanter shrieked. “I… shall… return!”


“Well, THAT’S more than a little cliche. And could they have been any less subtle about the sequel?” Gene put down the game controller, and flexed his hands. After maybe 40 hours of gameplay, Search for the Seven Shards (from the legendary Quantum Programming) had ended in a completely realistic cutscene. Everything from the floor shaking, to the smell of mold in the bad guy’s castle had been reproduced. Gene didn’t know much about the technology behind it. He did know a thing or two about gaming, though. As good as the holosystem was, the game mechanics had been nothing special. The standard ATTACK, MAGIC, RUN options as always. When would game makers learn? A 4096-bit holomatrix is no substitute for quality gameplay.

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