Editorial & Letters
Planet: We Publish a Science Fiction Zine... So That You Don't Have To!

 

The Six-Million-Dollar Glootnth

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I was "different". I'd try to play with the other kids, but they just didn't want to play with me. They used to laugh at my skinny arms, my nearly bald pate, and my tiny nose and mouth -- it didn't help that I was so pale and gray-looking. As I grew older, it was always the same story: No friends, no social life, not even a date to the prom. I felt like a complete outsider! Finally, in my teenage years, after so much time spent in misery, I finally went to a shrink and told him everything.

I still remember that day, after more than a year of spilling my deepest wishes and fears, that Doc (he never told me his name) looked me in my bulbous eyes and told me the truth -- a truth that I both longed to hear and dreaded to admit. "Son," he said, gazing at me compassionately, "you might have been born a boy, but, trapped inside you, I believe, is... an alien!"

I was stunned, relieved, surprised, intrigued, and slightly hungry -- as it was nearing 3 o'clock, when I usually consume a glazed Krispy Kreme donut or two -- and I felt each one of his words hit home. And then I knew, I WAS an alien. Doc's right! That's why I never fit in, that's why I always felt like a visitor from a far-off world with reddish grass, giant Day-Glo orange ferns, and, unexpectedly, a sky-blue sky with fleecy white clouds and a yellow sun. The shrink put a name to my problem -- alien dysphoria. In other words, my self-image is not in sync with the planet I live on. In other, other words: I'm an alien, trapped inside the body of a human!

[...Hello? Hello? Where am I? What in the heck is going on with this AOL Internet Messenger software? Why am I now typing in a Web browser window? These TCP packets must have gotten all mixed up, and... oh my god... it looks like I'm typing right in the middle of an editorial in Planet Magazine, whatever that is. I know, I'll get out my cell phone... and... c'mon, c'mon... Hi, Mom? Is your computer on? Quick, open Netscape and go to planetmag.com... that's right, you don't need to type http://www anymore... look, just do it, mom, OK!? You never listen. OK, you're there now? Good, click on the link for the latest issue, go to the Table of Contents, and choose Editorial & Letters. Now, scroll down a bit, and you'll see ME, right in the middle of the editorial! Yes, that's me! Those are my words!! Can you believe it!? Look at me! Haha! Bill Gates sux! I mean, he roolz! And... what, mom? Oh. OK, I'll stop. Sorry. Yes, I know it's not my magazine, and I should stop interfering with the editorial. But... Ohhhhh... All RIGHT! You never listen to me! What!? Fine. Yes, dinner at 6. Bye!!]

In the intervening years I discovered more and more about myself as an alien. It was a hard road, especially when I began changing. Specifically, with the help of resources I found at the Area 51 Public Library, I discovered that I was a glootnth, from the planet Twan. Once I reached the age of 16, I looked in the mirror and saw I had sprouted shtontahs, and they were "ridging", which of course confirmed it. But the real shocker came months later, when my seddses burst, which meant that I was a fnord, not a glabsth! Not only had I turned out to be an alien, but I was also a non-male-type gender! I was again stunned and surprised, but not relieved or intrigued, nor hungry, as this was about 11 a.m., and I'd just finished my usual mid-morning packet of chocolate Pop Tarts.

This discovery was all too much, overwhelming, in fact. And I decided that I had had enough. I couldn't afford the one-way ticket to planet Twan, and I just couldn't live in this world, being the wrong genotype, the wrong species, the wrong phylum -- basically, the wrong number in the phone call of life. So I resolved to put it all as it should have been. To right what fate had wronged.

Thus, I'm now volunteering for a new, experimental process at a private hospital funded by Bob Jones University. The procedure will cost $6 million, but that's being provided by Vulcan Ventures, the venture capital group created by Paul Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft, whose claim to fame is that he cast the deciding management vote to name the original PC drives A, B, and C, rather than 1, 2, and 3. Apparently, Vulcan is interested in the procedure because it might prove to be in high demand by Microsoft's millionaire retirees.

So last week I visited the surgeon, who wouldn't give me his name (although I know him as "Babylon6Million" in the SF chat rooms where I first met him), and he told me that he can rebuild me. That Humanity has the technology. That we have the capability to make the world's first glootnth-to-human/fnord-to-male man! And I will BE that "man". More human than I was before. More human... less pasty-faced... fatter. It won't be easy, since glootnths are 93% vegetable matter and cold-blooded, but when you next see me, I expect I'll be like any other guy you might notice sitting in a subway car, walking down the street, sitting next to you at the bar, peering through your bedroom window, or dressed as Scotty at a Trekker convention. Sure, I'll be a nerd. Unpopular? No doubt. But I will most definitely be all man and all human!

In fact, I expect to live forever in the annals of medicine, a greater symbol of scientific advancement than Dr. Octavious Mandrejk's famed chimp-to-legume experiments in the doomed soymeat farms of Underground Titan. In fact, my doctor expects this operation to represent a total breakthrough in alien/man reassignment surgery in terms of Web-enablement and ease-of-use. We've long had alien DNA maps, from those captured saucers 'n' such, but now that the human genome has been mapped, it's a simple matter of extracting my specific DNA pattern, XMLifying it, and matching it up with a human template along with XML tags -- run the whole thing through IE or Netscape 4.0 (or above) on an iMac (DV or higher), munge it through some proprietary software controlling the still-classified bio-tank setup that I've been soaking in for 10 months, and Bingo! Goodbye Mr. Bug-Eyes, and Hello, World!

Humanfully,
Andrew G. McCann, Editor
May 2001

 

Letters To The Editor

Dear Editor: Thought you and your viewers might be interested in this Writing Contest with Poppy Z. Brite on 13thstreet.com. Here's the link: http://www.13thstreet.com/. It is great opportunity for fans and writers of Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Goth. Please feel free to make it available to your readers.
13thstreet.com

Dear Editor: Web del Sol wants to report that the Web Fair 2001 in Palm Springs was an enormous success! Three days of film, lively panel discussions, and new media demonstrations brought out the best in everyone. Details and photography at http://webdelsol.com/f-webfair.htm. We're now accepting proposals for WF 2002 in New Orleans. Information and
proposal form can be found at http://webdelsol.com/AWP Proposal
categories include: New Media, Magazines Online, Net Publishing, Poets and Writers Online, and State of the Net
Mike Neff
Web Del Sol
http://webdelsol.com
LOCUS OF LITERARY ART

Dear Editor: I wrote some books, mostly science fiction, and effectively self-published them with iUniverse.com. They're listed on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble (www.bn.com), Borders, and lots of other Web book sites. I'm just letting you and your readers know.
Tom Slattery

Dear Editor: I just wanted to announce that the paperback of my horror novel, Naomi, is out in stores now. Naomi was the Internet serial I wrote originally in 1999 -- this is the revised version. Please note that all of my royalties from this paperback of Naomi go to the National Down Syndrome Society (www.ndss.org).
All Best,
Doug Clegg
www.douglasclegg.com


Planet Magazine Notes:

Planet Magazine has been reviewed by Dark Matter Chronicles
http://www.eggplant-productions.com/darkmatter

In addition, Planet is mentioned in an interesting editorial at Strange Horizons,
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2001/20010402/editorial.shtml

We also recommend reading the editor's notes, too, at
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2001/20010402/review.shtml

 

Letters to Mutant Monsters

Dear Half-Man/Half-Maize (a.k.a. Micorn Jordan): I'm just checking in to let you know that I'm still hoping to win the lottery, without having to buy a ticket. After all, why should I have to spend my own money to win? It might sound lazy and outrageous, but no one really uses those words anymore. I see myself more as efficient and savvy. That's just the way society is today. There's nothing you can do about it. Look, Hollywood let Kevin Costner make "The Postman Rings Twice", the sequel to his SF epic "The Postman", right? Then why shouldn't I have my way just because I say so? In fact, send me all your money now. Send it!
L. Otto Weiner

Dear Head in a Tank of Bubbling Green Fluid: Soon, all your base will no longer belong to us. As we were unable to keep up with payments for outsourced plant & equipment maintenance and labor costs, subsequent to our capture of all your base, a lien was put against all your/our base by Galactic Court of The Big Justice. To avoid forfeiture of the properties and all related goods and materials, we have elected to auction off the whole lot on eBay. This letter, therefore, is to notify you that you are eligible to bid for "all your base" and potentially "win" back all your base at approximately 50 Scamidian Cents to the Bog-dollar. Of course, if all that occurs, you can safely assume that we will re-attack and capture said properties and all contained therein, at which point all your base will again belong to us. And you can be sure that we will attempt to avoid high unionized labor costs and certain other operating expenses by using any captured prisoners, such as you, as slaves, on a go-forward basis. In conclusion, all your base and all your people belong to us... soon, very soon.
Regards,
Your Duly Sworn Enemies

Dear Hunched Guy with One Huge Eye: I am also a mutant, known as The Improviser -- my power is that I can become any character based on any suggested location, although that suggestion must come from a studio audience, preferably one comprised mostly of my CIA superiors. I have excellent skills for surveillance, particularly if the target in question is a member of the aforementioned studio audience (and especially if he or she is sitting in the first couple of rows). I do admit that it's hard to observe the target when the house lights are off and I'm in a spotlight, yet I feel confident in those cases that the high caliber of my performance will keep my victims glued to the edge of their seats (especially since I put glue on their seats prior to the show). The only real weakness I have is when my characters are cartoonish, overly talkative, and don't know when to end a scene and get off the stage -- however, those instances are always due to a lack of greatness, imagination, and intriguing suggestions on the part of the studio audience.
With Swirling Cape,
Sekk N. deCitie

Dear Crawling, Veiny Blob: I'd like to share my experience with time travel and offer a warning to those among your readers who might be so foolish as to try it. I answered one of those cheap time-travel ads in the back of a magazine and got their Home Chrono-Travel Kit, which of course does not come with any legal advice. So I jumped ahead hoping to live a better part of my life, only to get sued by my future self, who already was living AND had every intention of living those times -- and of course he knew I was coming, since he had been me! So I ended up having to purchase the rights to those future times from my future self, so that I could live the life I would have anyway. On the positive side, the money he received from me was what fueled those future good times that I got to live later, especially since my payments to him had to take into account future inflation rates.
Paradoxically,
Kell R. Tomahdo

Dear Sentient Celery Stalk: Just got my new iPaq, which, as you know, is based on classified designs smuggled out of North Korea in the early 1970s, when the regime there was under the mistaken impression that "Star Trek" was a NASA documentary. Anyway, I had already been doing a good job with my Palm IIIxe of alienating the fairer sex, but now when I whip out my iPaq from its custom shoulder holster, while we're all chillin' after work at Charley O's, I find that I'm able to repel women 100%! Actually, it's more like 110%, since some of them have gotten a bit violent. But it's OK, 'cause now I'm able to focus full time on my personal project of streamlining and XMLizing Win XP for pagers -- which I can totally do on my iPaq while listening to MP3s!
Rock On!
Vin "Doze" C. Eie

Dear Super-Strong Radioactive/Toxic Guy: You always hear nurses, pilots, and other people in high-stress jobs complain about the pressure they're under and how they are not "robots". And you always hear these people say, after they're arrested for some crime spree, that they just "snapped". Well let me tell you that I happen to be a robot, and we robots also are under extreme pressure -- whether it's high-speed chassis building on an auto-assembly line or laying fiber-optic cable across the floor of the Pacific Ocean -- and you never hear us complain, do you? And while it is true that we robots sometime snap, that's only because we are, after all, constructed out of metal and plastic. When that happens, you might hear us scream, "AAAIIIEEEEEE!", but that's not because we're in pain, it's just a lucrative marketing tie-in we signed with Spielberg's people for the movie "A.I.", which we expect to help a lot towards improving human/robot relations.
ReGEARds,
Rob Ott, Chairman
Lou Tenant-Daytah, Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Robots

Dear Tall, Staring Bald Man with Clutching Hands: With this letter I am applying for a role in the new X Men movie, which, BTW, really should be called X Persons to avoid any sexism. I am the closest thing to a mutant alive today, as I shall explain. They've apparently already hired various persons to play the new parts, which are new for the movie -- but I tell you that I could do everything they do and more! For example, there is Brennan, who can conduct electricity (hey, I can do this too, using only a light socket and pan of water); Emma, a telepath who can influence other's emotions and behavior (I'm not telepathic, but I have been able to influence others' emotion and behavior -- perhaps I'm doing it right now!); Shalimar, whose DNA is half human-half animal (I am ALL animal, if you know what I mean, ladies); and Jessie, who can alter his body density (no problem: I can do this too; just give me a week and lots of lasagna). Thank you for your time, and I hope I get all the parts.
Dramatically,
Wavier X. Gravier

Dear Giant Brain (a.k.a. The Editor): I'm just writin' in to let you know that no one should worry at all about this econo-thingy with the stock market movin' down cadentially 'n' all. Everything is going to be just fine. As for the ecologement, why that's just a hoax that's been perpetumenated by the liberals. In fact, it turns out that our bodies are institutiated of those supposably bad chemicals! So you can all just go back to watching Survivor! reruns. Well I gotta go now -- I'm feeling a little low, and it's almost time for my hourly cup of pure cane sugar.
Grinningly,
Bern Rubbeir


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