Today, nobody believes in reality. Fiction remains stronger than fact. All stories are true - satires in particular. Imaginary heroes are more dependable than the other kind, living or dead. Whatever you need is unavailable, so choose the brighter new tomorrows that you want instead. FAX 21 is a muse (news) blog-fest of science fiction concepts and fantasy ideas for genre enthusiasts. Paradox free since next year!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Fly 3sum

Spoiler Alert!
After the final credits have scrolled, there's a teaser-trailer for the next cross-franchise movie... as cobwebs fill the screen, and the shadow of Spidery-Men appears.

Monday, 23 May 2011

It's the End of the World as we know it (and I feel fine)

A Pop Song on the radio? The prediction of a
deranged prophet? Or a new condition pervading the
multiverse? A special report from the CERN Large
Hadron Collider by ‘FAX 21’ correspondent

A strangely volatile atmosphere pervades the plush PR suite of the CERN Large Hadron Collider. The kind of hush the tabloid hacks usually refer to as ‘expectant’, as the assembled multi-platform representatives of global media gather in feeding-frenzy mode. In truth, they’re mostly technical correspondents from academic journals and dedicated sites, anticipating the long-awaited announcement. High-profile in their limited fields, their numbers are swelled by popularisers from the more mainstream titles hoping for a sexy angle. As they sip complimentary wine, monitors and wifi’s are given fine-tuning tweaks and the panoramic glassed-in walls overlook the tranquil Franco-Swiss border countryside, with a few high white clouds in the sharp still air as dusk falls over Geneva. The first stars just visible. In every way, it seems very much a normal evening. The tall bespectacled Dr Harold Camping of the facility’s theoretical physics discipline opens proceedings with the deceptively simple prepared statement that the most recent particle acceleration sequences have finally yielded evidence of the elusive Higgs Boson, with data-files recording the creation of the nano-particle – and the release of related phenomenon, a condition existing for a billionth-of-a-second, yet confirming the twelfth-dimensional quantum nature of Einstein’s final enigmatic equations, and the teasing enigma of the Mass of elementary particles.

Invited questions follow the rapturous reception of the news, as events take a stranger turn. From the display of eagerly raised hands Camping stabs the air with his pen to indicate Ms Persson of the ZEN website, perhaps expecting an easy ride. She stands, brandishes her iTablet, and asks ‘in the statement, you refer to the ‘release of related phenomenon’. What is the nature of these phenomena?’ Camping hurriedly confers with his colleagues. ‘Dealing with highly exotic particles there’s an integral element of indeterminacy. What occurred happened within the same billionth-of-a-second time-frame, but involved the creation of spontaneous bubbles of micro-singularities that nevertheless set up a ripple-cascade of consequences percolating across, and annihilating a series of parallel or alternate continuums.’ There was a pause of perhaps ten long seconds of perfect silence. Then a low hum of confused comment. Camping makes as if to move along to the next questioner. But Ms Persson persists, ‘would these alternate continuums have been inhabited, and if so, would they have been aware of what was happening to them?’ Camping squirms in his seat, obviously agitated. ‘We are entering highly conjectural terrain here. If I can hazard theoretical data I’d suggest yes, each parallel universe is both superimposed on, and separated from each other, by the slightest step apart, like layers of an onion. Certain individuals are more sensitive than others, it’s not impossible some may have picked up advance tremors of what was happening. In all likelihood they would fail to understand what they were sensing, and interpret it through some simple superstitious belief-system. Now perhaps we can move along to another questioner…?’

There’s a scuffle at the back of the hall. Camping carefully removes his spectacles, and cleans them with a precise circular motion. But attention continues to focus on the tall ZEN scribe. ‘Dr Camping, if these parallel continuums duplicate ours so exactly, how can we be sure they’re not also carrying out particle acceleration experiments that will leak over and annihilate our universe?’ ‘Ms Persson, we can’t be sure. In fact, this might already be the case, and even now we are existing in a highly attenuated echo-state, which will only continue to become yet more tenuous.’ ‘You mean, as in the movie ‘The Sixth Sense’, we’re all dead but don’t realise it yet?’ ‘To a lay-person, yes.’ ‘And what can we do to stop this happening?’ ‘We can’t. It’s already happened. The Higgs Boson data is time-coded 18:00hrs on 21st May 2011. So it’s already happened….’

There’s a strangely volatile atmosphere pervading the plush PR suite of the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Outside, the stars are winking out…

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Apocalypse Postponed

Well, it’s official. It’s all over, folks. The supposed “End Of The World” and “Rapture” as heavily advertised by fundamentalist Christians, failed to happen on 21st May, and disappointment is palpable. Human beings and deadlines just don’t go together. Look what (nearly) happened with the Millennium Dome and most other Olympic stadiums constructed by third world countries… time ran out and we cocked it up. So why should Divine Beings be any different?

Usually as notoriously taciturn as Clarence House and the Vatican, The Press Office Of God was yesterday moved to release a statement, by the heartbreaking sight of thousands of disappointed Christians waking up to find themselves still alive:

“God wishes to express his heartfelt apologies to patient and long-suffering followers who were eagerly waiting to be obliterated on the advertised date of May 21st 2011, but due to excessive pressure of work we regret to announce that the Final Apocalypse has had to be delayed. This has already been a busy year, with Fire, Flood, Famine and Locusts (Yes, they’re back, a homely old-fashioned touch, hope you’re enjoying them? –G) all to be rained down on my disobedient and wayward children, and something just had to give. There’s also been a lot of so-called man-made disasters such as exploding nuclear reactors and massacres of political protestors, and it’s easy to forget that as Supreme Being, none of these can happen either without considerable logistical support from The Office Of God. It all takes up time. Nonetheless, God wishes to reassure the public that He remains fully committed to an ongoing programme of spectacular and wrathful demonstrations of Divine Power, and endeavours to meet all His deadlines on time, as regulated by the independent monitoring body “Off-God” who currently rate His efficiency on catastrophe delivery at 87%. Customer satisfaction is continually monitored under the Worshiper’s Charter, and heavy penalties will kick in for every ensuing week in which God continues to fail to deliver the Apocalypse. Of course, prayer rates are falling, and these penalties could eventually become spiritually crippling, at which point the contract for the Apocalypse would have to pass to another Catastrophe Provider, such as Lucifer. Customer complaint forms can be found at all local churches…”

So there you have it. The press has been rife with rumours recently, that with the discovery of habitable planets within the Gliese 581 star system, God may be being lured or head-hunted, for a new more lucrative position on a planet with more promising spiritual assets. Leaving Jesus in charge of Earth as an unelected despot unrecognised by Jews and Hindus would be likely to leave him with all the popularity of one of Gaddafi’s sons, and a recipe for unrest, so we’re on the horns of a dilemma.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, never one to steer clear of controversy, weighed into the debate over the weekend:

“I can fully understand the disappointment of Christians waiting for the end of the world yesterday, at finding themselves still alive. I know fresh air, good food, and the sound of birdsong in the morning, can be of little comfort to them, at this difficult and testing time. I can only suggest that they seek out other means to relieve themselves of their burden, and while suicide of course remains a sin, today’s world presents countless opportunities for putting yourself in harm’s way, for instance by becoming evangelists in Islamic Fundamentalist countries. Failing this, of course, in just a few decades in most cases, Nature will take its course, and can be hastened somewhat I believe by chain-smoking or living and working near a Nuclear fission reactor.”

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Bun Laden !

No sooner has the white-shrouded body of Osama Bin Laden, the bĂȘte noire of the West, “slipped” (they make it sound like a careless accident) off an American aircraft carrier into the Arabian Sea, than his image has been re-born as a marketing brand. Yes folks, you heard it here first.

New Pakistani burger chain “Bun Laden” look set to announce a major expansion of their highly successful franchise next week, with numerous new outlets opening in middle-eastern economies over the next six months.

Fax 21 caught up with their CEO Alza Wiri, during a rare break in his packed business schedule, over lunch at one of their flagship “Fatwa Food” restaurants in Islamabad.

Was expansion into America, Europe or the UK on the cards next, I wondered?

“Why not?” –He smiled broadly from behind his disarmingly vast Ray-Ban sunglasses, in white casual polo T-shirt and jeans. “Sure, Americans have problems with French Fries or Freedom Fries, but our chips are labelled Friendly-Fire Fries, and make an excellent side to go with our Jihadi Burgers and Semtex Quarter Pounders…

I wondered aloud if issues of taste would be a problem, as I admired the two life-size fibreglass statues of Bin Laden flanking the entrance, Planet Hollywood style: one in camouflage mountain-goat look, the other in white-robed prophet mode, both toting plastic AK-47s.

“Taste?” –he puzzled, thinking I meant flavour, before the penny dropped. Then he laughed: “But isn’t ridicule and high cholesterol food the best possible aid to stress-relief after a hard day at the office fighting the global War on Terror?”

For Dessert, he went on to explain (labelled “Operation Dessert Storm” on the menu boards), Bun Laden serves Afghan Opium-Browns (Hash Browns are seasonal and have to be imported from Lebanon apparently), or glow-in-the-dark Depleted Uranium Flurries, washed down with a large Coke Bush-Puppy).

“Think of all the work involved (any graphic designer will tell you) in establishing a new brand on the world market, but with Bun Laden all the legwork has been done for us already by a deranged mass murderer. Isn’t everybody happy? Why not just take something horrible like this and divert it into good food and fun, where’s the harm in that?”

“Relatives of the victims?” –I reminded him, as a little boy ran by kitted out with a sherbet-shoe-bomber pack and full-body suicide-burger vest. Or maybe he was just overweight.

“Okay, okay. Our flame-grilled Smokin’ Twin Towers double burger deal might have to go, but the Rumsfeld Rum Babas are here to stay.”

It was hard to argue with Alza Wiri, particularly when he pulled out a chocolate hand-grenade and lobbed it at me. Instinctively, I ducked, but the man behind me from CNN caught it in his teeth. “Man down” I joked, but everyone seemed to be cheering up already...