Editorial & Letters
Planet Magazine: We Know What Mad Scientists Are So Mad About....
It was physicist Stephen Hawking who famously proposed that "Time travel might be possible, but if that is the case why haven't we been overrun by tourists from the future?" With all due respect to Mr. Hawking, physicists should stick to their science knitting and let us amateur zine editors tackle the big-picture issues in physics today.
I believe it's quite possible that time travelers have been with us for centuries, or even millennia, but they're just not saying anything. Think about it: If you came from the future, probably as a tourist looking for relatively fresh air or as a scholar studying a particular event, like the birth of Planet Magazine, would you also stop by the offices of the Weekly Shopper newspaper to do an interview? Would you hang out in biker bars and mention to desperately high people that:
"I hail from a Time Yet to Come -- but please, don't ask me Which stock is going to become the next Berkshire Hathaway, or When will California finally slide into the ocean, or Does Peter Jackson ever film 'The Silmarillion' and who exactly is Tom Bombadil anyway? Because I know the answers to all of these questions but really shouldn't tell you, and probably would tell you under the slightest bit of torture, for we in the future are quite soft, given our luxurious lifestyles funded by all the money we've made off the next Berkshire Hathaway stock."
Would you really do something like that? And would you then go on to say to those swaying, staring biker punks in the bar: "Could you recommend a nice hotel that accepts Remnimbi Dollars and could you escort me there down a dark alleyway while holding my Truth-Telling Laze-Sword for me?" Well you might say all that, if you really are that soft in the future. But the whole idea is just a ridiculous non-starter -- like a typical scenario you'd find in this Editorial column.
Speaking of which, I am prepared to reveal a little bit about one of these time travelers whose existence, in my mind, I have confirmed. Unsurprisingly, the subject centers on moi. Yes, I am from the future -- a time lost in its self-same mists, if you get my temporal drift.
I was once of your historical period. But one day as I left the local Cosi with my poppy-seed bagel and grande coffee, I stumbled into what I later realized was a time eddy (a relativistic relative of a "fast eddy", akin to a very young Time Lord), and ever since that moment I've been out of sync with your present. I am unafraid to admit this because the Time I hail from is only 0.8 picosecond in the future. That's why there seems to be an ever-so-slight lag in your comprehension as you read these words (Mitochondria know, it can't be my writing that's causing the lag, given its limpid lucidity). So there is essentially nothing I know that you don't know, and for all intents and purposes I am of Your Time.
Perhaps there is some risk to me in this revelation. Perhaps someone urgently does want to know what will happen 0.8 picosecond from now -- such as an ambitious CERN staffer -- and is willing to go to quite dramatic lengths to find out. Quite frankly, for that unlikely reason I agonized about whether to reveal any of this to you. But since I am typing this editorial as my internal debate rages on, and because I'm also using one of those new Intel/Samsung-designed disposable laptops using Windows UO (Use Once), which has no delete or backspace key and which automatically uploads your text to a Web page using Perma-XML (in this case, that Web page is the Editorial section of the current issue of Planet Magazine), there wasn't much I could do about stopping this confession.
Still, I'm not too worried that someone will kidnap me to make a stock-market killing, as I may be 0.8 picosecond ahead of all of you, yet it's generally known that I'm slow on the uptake. So I would be easily outclassed by any would-be day trader using free-trial tools from Value Line. In fact, for me to really feel comfortable about giving any stock tips, I'd need to study their performance over a five-year period, adjusted for 0.8 picosecond. And even then I'd probably be wrong.
But none of you dedicated Planet readers shall go away empty-handed from this Editorial. I will now reveal that in my future, Berkshire Hathaway shares look likely to be "the next Berkshire Hathaway shares", California is still here but has slid into an ocean of debt, and a one-day, three-part "Lord of the Rings" marathon is a reality! As for the truth about "The Silmarillion" and Mr. Bombadil, however, you'll have to pursue those questions at the local biker bar.
With Future Regards,
Andrew G. McCann
Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor: I am the publicist for Odyssey, a six-week workshop for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror held annually at Southern New Hampshire University. We would greatly appreciate it if our information could be added to your website. Odyssey welcomes applications from serious genre writers, and I imagine the people that access your site may be interested in honing their skills at an intensive workshop like Odyssey. Odyssey is widely considered to be one of the top workshops in the country for science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. You'll find much more information on our website, www.sff.net/odyssey.
Dear Editor: Although my book, "Tritcheon Hash," is available from Amazon.com for $14.95, the publisher has seen fit to offer it as a free e-book, downloadable from them (http://www.metropolisink.com). Please help yourself and don't have a second thought about me, the starving author.
Dear Editor: I know you must put much effort and time in your endeavor -- without much thanks. I thank you.
Dear Editor, I'm a Romanian writer and the editor of Lumi Virtuale (Virtual Worlds) e-zine. I want to announce that a new issue of Lumi Virtuale e-zine is on the net at the new address below.
Letters to Poorly Disguised Aliens
Dear Kim Jong-il: Why can't everyone just leave Michael Jackson alone! I understand his pain only too well. He, like me, is of the St'shnee, of the Planet Lbamballaaa. We St'shneean "face dancers" have been persecuted throughout the 118 Galaxies lo these past few galac-years! We are jealously hunted down because we are musical, can walk on moons, and care only about peace, love, helping everyone, and beautification through plastic surgery.
With a Mathematically Straight Face,
Dear Vladimir Putin: I just wanted to apologize to your readers for the experimental plague virus that escaped from my lab. I had all kinds of safeguards and really didn't think that could happen. Boy, was I wrong. Anyway, if you find that your brains are liquefying and pouring out through nose, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry but also that you please stay far away from me. Nothing personal, of course.
Dear Steven Tyler: Mr. Baggins writes a book about his travels "there and back again", and what does he get for it? Worldwide acclaim and millions of dollars in franchising revenue! What do I get for my Middle Earth travel books? Barely enough to afford one crumb of lembas! And my books are every bit as good as those of that braggart Hobbit. Thrill to my adventures across the Mines of Moria (although, admittedly, I was able to get across the snowy mountain pass above them, and didn't have to actually go through the Mines themselves)! Gasp at my audacity as I scream "Hallooo, Smaug!" right in the great dragon's ear (of course, this is the stuffed carcass of Smaug found in the Long Lake Museum). And on and on go my adventures! Even I can't wait for me to finish writing these thrilling journals! I do accept bulk orders in advance as well.
Sharkey Sackville III
Dear Dan Rather: I was skateboardin' down the street the other day, smokin' a cigarette and holdin' a cellphone against my ear with my other hand, and I totally wiped out. Barreled into a crowd of pedestrians. Sent 18 people to the hospital. Don't worry, though, no one was hurt. I was just embarrassed by my pancake and offered an all-expenses-paid tour of the new St. Medicare Memorial hospital building to all 18 eyewitnesses. What bothered me, though, is the way all of them showed their appreciation by saying, "Thanks, ya frickin' clown-boy!" Hey, next time I wipe out, everyone can just pay their own damn way!
Goin' Way Too Fast,
Dear John Kerry: Quentin Tarantino here. Just a quick note that the Motion Picture Association forced me to tone down the violence in "Kill Bill" Volumes 1 and 2 -- not because they object to violence per se (after all, it does sell tickets and video-games) but because there was so much blood that the screen was literally, completely red for two-thirds of the flick. As a result of the body count dropping from about two "killion" to about one, we decided to rename the movie. It will now be called "Hurt Burt" Vol. 1. Volume II will be done as an all-Muppets movie. Anyway, the Muppets need their careers revived, which is one of my specialties.
In Homage to Myself,
Dear Dick Cheney: You've GOT to try new Herba-Slim-n-Go! I took this amazing, all-natural herbal supplement for only two weeks and lost 185 lbs! I now weigh only 72 lbs but have MORE energy than I've ever had before in my life! I feel simply great! In fact, I think I might even be able to rip all four leather restraints right from the steel rings bolted into the walls and floor of my flourescent-lit concrete "guest" room here at the home. That is, if my wrists and ankles don't snap first! Ha-ha! Who cares? It's been a long 13 days here, but as I said, I've never felt more fabulous in my LIFE! And when I get out of here, I will see to it that ALL of you absolutely take this spectacular dietary enhancer -- the all-new Herba-Slim-n-Go! Fantastic!
Herb "Al" Zuplimindt
Dear Cher: Why are people always telling me to "get a life"? Hey, I HAVE a life! And that life consists of working 12 hours, six days a week at a high-speed mail-sorting facility and then going home to my tiny apartment to drink and update my AOL Journals blog, which details my day's commuting problems (if any) and gives the inside scoop on how I've been kept from advancing at work due to "certain" unfair managers. On Sunday, I watch sports, order in some Chinese food, and sleep. It's a full schedule, with no time for friends or family, but I manage!
O. "Ver" Knight de Liverie
Dear Carson Daly: I just read "Illium" by Dan Simmons, and speaking as one of the post-humans mentioned in the book, I was a bit perturbed to see how much the novel ended up digressing from the "actual" future you humans will experience -- a future which was my past. I was even more concerned when I got to the end of the book and read that Darth Vader had managed to right his ship and avoid getting killed by the exploding/imploding Death Star. This can only mean we shall one day be reading book two, something like "The Gods Strike Back". Frankly, I can't wait. Anyway, being a whimsical post-human, I thought I'd write this letter and get some buzz going again about us mysterious "posts" -- I miss that notoriety. I will reveal one secret, though, about where those of us who survived went after we left our cities in space. We went to Middle Earth. To live as Hobbits, Orcs, Ents, and so forth. Wouldn't you? I think this also finally explains Tom Bombadil.
The Old Took
Dear Editor: Here is my preliminary idea for "Saruman at Home", a sort of "Where Are They Now?" followup to The Lord of Rings movies. The scene opens, and we see a nice, quiet but plush one-room apartment, with sink, fridge, bed, and TV (which is playing "Good Evening, Gondor!") in view. Down a short hallway, a door is ajar. Inside, we can hear someone coughing and clearing his throat; then it is silent. One presumes it is Saruman inside this possible bathroom, yet he doesn't come out. The door remains open, casting a long sheet of light into the dim hallway. In fact, whoever it is never does come out, and the movie ends with that potentiality left unresolved. This film is a commentary of some sort on something, which I'm still working out as I type up my latest draft.
Let Me Know If You Liked It,
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