Don't try this at home, kids!

"Planet Magazine: Sci-Fi Done Rite!"


Y2K?  Y NOT 2K?

Planet Magazine believes it's time to offer its own perspective on the Year 2000, or Y2K, Problem (not to be confused with the MST3K Problem, for which there appears to be no solution). For some time now, computer and financial experts around the world have been squawking in fear over the Y2K issue, like so many chicken heads with their bodies cut off.

In a nutshell, the Y2K problem would not fit. It's much too large. But it could be summarized as a paradigm of thinkinglessness by a generation of software-programming drones and their corporate figureheads. The problem is that many long-running, "legacy" software programs used for all sorts of essential, or "mission-critical," applications over the past decades (such as calculating interest-rate returns for banks, maintaining systems at electric utilities, or toting up daily page hits for Planet's Web site) use two digits to describe a year, rather than four. In other words, at the end of 1999 these programs would see "99" turn into just "00", rather than 2000. Unfortunately, these programs would then conclude that 00 is 1900, since they assume that all years begin with "19", which kinda messes up the forward calculations that the computer is doing. If left unfixed, the effects supposedly would be widespread -- banks would grind to a halt, Wall Street would implode, utilities would shut down, water supplies would slow to a trickle, the Gateway 2000 computer company would become Gateway 1900, etc.

So far, the fix has been to hire a lot of ancient, mainframe-oriented software coders, who were long ago put out to virtual pasture, and have them pore over millions of lines of dusty code, trying to make these programs-without-manuals understand that we are entering a brave new century, where everyone will be free to use fast-acting nano-tech to morph their bodies into giant, talking parrot cages or twenty-foot-long red-licorice sticks with blinking eyes and mag wheels. Yes, this is the paradise we truly can achieve -- IF we can fix Y2K.

On the other hand, we wonder, why fix it at all? Why go to all the time and expense? Especially if all of the necessary changes can't be made in time? Why not let the computers think it's 1900? After all, that was a simpler era, when interest rates were low, people were shorter and made less demands on the environment, Strontium 90 barely existed, and there were no computers (except, of course, for Charles Cabbage's failed Spinach Engine, a room-sized calculator made from vegetables, which are too prone to wilting under the heat of calculations). And maybe the shock of a time-traveling, anachronistic event for our computers would actually force them into self-awareness, leading to a new era of happy rule by benevolent silicon sentients, where we could all happily quit our jobs, submit to brainectomies performed by humankind's loving computer stewards, and sit around in circles, eating sticks of delicious red licorice with funny, blinking eyes. But that's only IF we dare to dream.

If necessary, we could even program the computers to think it's the 1900 of the future -- that is, the year we will reach again after time has, so to speak, gone around the world and come back again to 1900 A.D. Think of how our investments would be doing! Think of how much yummy mag-wheeled red licorice we could buy!

So maybe we're all worrying a little too much, running around like Cassandra Little, shrieking that the Future Is Falling, the Future Is Falling! Hey, maybe even this whole Y2K Problem will just "go away," for some reason that we Earthlings cannot understand. As evidence for this Alien Scenario, we point to the fact that Commander Bill Gates, the bi-human Overseer of Tall-Nordic-funded Microsoft, has, without fear, and against the wishes of the Reptilian-controlled "Justice" Department, just released the two-digit Windows 98. If he's not afraid to leave off the "19", why should we be? And since Mr. Gates has tested positive for Deep Blue-level intelligence, as well as for more money than I can stand him having, Planet Magazine rests comfortably in its knowledge that it continues to know nothing, and that nonhuman entities are likely to once again step in to right the course of human affairs. So party on, my friends, like it's 1999.999!

From Deep Within My Bunker in the Mojave,
Andrew G. McCann, Editor
September 1998


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Starting with this issue, and as part of our continual rollout of free "portal-like" services for readers, Planet Magazine's Web site will generate a customized issue for each individual reader. No two issues will be alike. Even if you can find and delete the invisible 10mb cookie that Planet parks in a hidden folder somewhere on your hard drive, we will still be able to tell that it's you every time you visit www.planetmag.com. Thus, you will always see the "same" magazine each time you come to the Web site.

How do we do it? Just a simple HTML/JavaScript trick we came up with, based on the principles of fuzzy theory and chaos logic. We can't go into details because the patent is still pending. But basically, we use the science of unstable systems to calculate the likely identity of each person visiting our Web site based on how, and where, he or she clicks on a link to an issue.

Skeptical? Well, just try this little test, and you'll soon be very convinced: Read any issue of Planet and then challenge a friend to read the same issue (not easy, we know!). When you're both done, get together over, say, a couple of quarts of synth-vodka, and invite along a few professors of deconstructionism. Then, discuss the issue of Planet, and you'll soon see that each of you has read something very different. Enjoy!



Dear Editor:
Have your readers been to hikeeba.com? Knock on the front door. Take a left. Take a right. Where will you end up? Trust me. Maybe in Cold As Hades, featuring: DARKERS The future looks scary... <http://www.hikeeba.com/hades> Enjoy a sample of this new, as yet unpublished novel. Visit a space station that isn't quite as friendly as the name implies. A neighborhood where some of your neighbors are probably undead. And one of them is making sure a selective few stay dead. Ah well, there goes the galaxy. Ask Phillip Lew, he's just hoping to get out alive. Or, perhaps...The new part of town, MEviews: <http://www.hikeeba.com/meviews> All of my reviews from "SFSite," "SFZine," and "Source SF" collected in one convenient location.
Just what you've been yearning for all this time.
Lisa DuMond


Dear Editor:
Just found your magazine today and enjoyed the Ray Dangel story "Shift" <http://www.planetmag.com/pm18/pm18.htm> but didn't have time to read much more. I look forward to enjoying other stories and issues.
Howard M. Kaplan


Dear Editor:
I am inviting your readers to check out what I believe to be some of the best entertainment the Internet has to offer. We are in the midst of providing comic book style Multi-media Entertainment, as well as online gaming which coincides with the story. In other words a player in the game can alter the story line by his actions within the game. Please check us out soon at <http://www.evestale.com>.
Dean Driscoll
(Producer of the Meltdown Project)


Dear Editor:
I read your stuff and thought it was great! Cracked me up.
All the best,


Dear Editor:
Just wanted to let you know that I've started a free-for-all sci-fi writers site, at <http://fast.to/wwwrite>. Single and multi-authored works welcome! As well as graphic and RealAudio links. Stop on in when you can!
Steve Duys
WWWrite Webmaster


Dear Editor:
I recently found Planet Magazine through a search engine, and I thought the site was great -- lots of science fiction by new writers who are able to get exposure through your magazine. Finally, a site where SF writers can post their work and be noticed! I'd like to ask your readers to please visit my somewhat strange sites -- Aaron's Weird Stuff <http://members.aol.com/WeeirdStuf> and the new Be Amazed Webzine <http://be.amazed.com>.


Dear Editor:
I'm writing regarding Neverworlds, a fiction e-zine you linked to a month or two ago. I was hoping it would not be too much trouble if you could alter the old URL to reflect our new home. The new address is: <http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/dechaune/neverworlds/nw.htm>. Pulling up roots on the Internet is a daunting process, one I hope not to repeat anytime soon. :)
K. L. McPherson -
N E V E R W O R L D S -|- the Unique Fiction e-zine


Dear Editor:
I'd like to invite writers and editors to The Silver Quill Forum, a place where ambitious fiction writers discuss their craft and the publishing market. Come share your literary genius with us. Membership is free and only requires registering with Delphi. If you've never used Delphi before you'll need to go through a quick registration (so you can post messages). It only takes a minute and it's free! The address is: <http://forums.delphi.com/m/main.asp?sigdir=writersforum&isp=if&pic=in-WRITER994423>. Or contact Bobette Bryan at <novelist@ponyexpress.net> for more information.
Hope to see you there,
Bobette Bryan


Dear Editor:
Just wanted to send out a grin and some stimulated synapses in appreciation for your poems. Being a visual artist, I have a difficult time verbalizing criticism for poetry, but I can say you have fulfilled my intelligent-scifi needs.
Via e-mail
P.S. Are the images on your site original? I approve ;)

[Editor's Note: Yes, all of our artwork is created by either Planet Magazine's staff or by various digital artists who have made or loaned images for a particular issue.]



Dear Wavy Gravy:
When I was a kid, our house was so small that roaches couldn't live there. In fact, it was so small that the fleas were hunchbacked. On top of that, our house had the strongest gravitational pull of any house, anywhere. I mean, it was just unbelievably strong! (Editor's Note: OK, so how strong was it?) The gravitational pull of my house was so strong, that not even light could escape. In fact, it was so strong that not even the absence of light could escape!
S.V.F. Nobananas
Galactic Busker


Dear Baba Ram Dass:
I stumbled across a great place to go hunting -- not too far from home, lots of easy-to-find game. So I showed up the next day all suited up in camouflage with my gun and lunch bucket, but then, if you can believe it, they threw me out! Said there was "no hunting allowed" in a zoo. Well, excuse me for having been born!
Enn R. Ay


Dear Jerry Garcia:
The other day I saw that Gay Jesus play by Terence McNally, and I figured -- hey, looks like if you want attention, you gotta push the envelope. So last night, in a burst of creativity, I wrote a new play: "Jes-Wuss", a story about how the Savior was a total wimp. Now before anyone calls me anti-Catholic and tries to ban my work, remember this: As any American would tell you these days (as would any Japanese auto commercial), being No. 1 is what it's all about. We know that for a fact now. And you have got to be top dog at all costs. Even if it means killing your best friends (indirectly and painlessly, of course). So would you "turn the other cheek"? I don't think so, suckah. The message of my play is simple: "Bare the other (butt) cheek!"
Les Toyl


Dear Arlo Guthrie:
I read the letter above from the hunter and wanted to pass on a tip to any frustrated hunters out there. I found out there was a mouse in my apartment, so I bought one of those little mouse rifles. It's a tiny gun that must be operated with a waldo setup -- i.e., my hands were in special gloves that, through a micro-engineered hookup, operated miniature hands with pine-needle-like fingers. It was extremely challenging to operate, especially since I was using a night scope in my darkened living room, but I finally got a clean shot right through the little beast's heart. And as it tumbled to the ground in seemingly slow motion to my hunt-heightened senses (first its forelegs twisted up and over, followed by a half-turn and then a flop of its hindquarters), I knew that I would eagerly slaughter it on the spot and feast, later that very night, on thick (for a mouse), juicy mouse steaks carved out by my tiny mechanical hands.
Norman D. Invasion


Dear Timothy Leary:
I just wanted to write in to lend my support to the show South Park and say that it is certainly not too violent. In fact, I'm watching it right now. And I believe that what its critics are failing to understand is that ... wait a sec. Ha-ha! They've just killed Kenny again! Where was I? OK, so what I'm saying is that it's obviously just a cartoon, and no kid is liable to take it seriously. By the way, I'm 45 years old and live with my mother.
Montel Bates


Dear Eldridge Cleaver:
Why do people always call me "human"? As all the news feeds have explained countless times, I am a super-intelligent, grainy, viscous liquid from the 14th dimension that has chosen to reside here on Earth to study your ways through total immersion. It's true that I am a scientist, what you call an anthropologist. And it is true that I live in one of your "houses," have taken on a "job" at an "Olive Garden" restaurant, own both a human "wife" and a nonhuman "dog," and have assumed a human "name" -- but not one of these things can change the fact that I am simply NOT one of you! Not in ANY way! So please stop calling me "human"!
Be Seeing You,
Hugh Mann


Dear Abbie Hoffman:
I bought one of those new palm-sized PCs that run the Windows CE operating system. And I want to complain, once again, about Microsoft's deceptive advertising claims. This thing is not palm-sized at all! It only fits in my hand --- it's nowhere near the size of a palm tree!
Michael Meyers
International Serial Killer of Mystery


Dear Jerry Rubin:
In the future, we will all have networked homes, where we can talk on the phone, play games, check our e-mail, update our PalmPilots, and say, "I'm sorry, what did you just say?" -- all at the same time! And we'll still be able to get at least 3 hours of sleep per night.
Mark A. Teer


Dear Bobby Seale:
It's interesting to note that my acting troupe always has "rehearsals", yet we have never once had an initial "hearsal".
Fess P. Inn


Dear Bill Clinton:
You are only being sent this letter once. You will not be contacted again. I represent the Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail Writers Guild, a new Internet-based organization dedicated to the task of improving the quality of what most people call "spam." Let me tell you a little story about how I became involved with the Guild. I was an unemployed male housewife, age 34, trying to make a living at home writing spam, but the stress of hiding my true e-mail address eventually became too much for me. Quite simply, I cracked. Eventually, through the aid of a friend I'd met in a marketing chat room -- a friend named Todd who had once been like me but had turned his life around -- I found my way to membership in Spam-Anon, which is based in Hormel, Wisconsin. Thank Todd I found that group! (You might have noticed I thanked "Todd," rather than God; the reason is that "Todd" is my "sponsor" -- i.e., another spam writer who has already recovered and gained a financial relationship with a "higher power.") For those who don't know, Spam-Anon is a self-supporting group of formerly wayward spam writers who meet weekly to discuss their feelings, experiences, and financial strategies and to sell multi-level marketing products to each other. Membership fees are a low, low $1,000 per week; half that if you bring in a new member.) Eventually, I made enough in commissions through Spam-Anon that I was able to graduate to Platinum Member Status, which also gives me a seat in the Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail Writers Guild. Our goal with the UCEMWG is to show both recovered and unrecovered spam writers how to write UCE that is truly inspiring, interesting, profitable (at least for the Guild), AND technically legal. As Todd always told me: "Lying is not only wrong, it's poor technique!" and "Falsehoods Never, Fabrications Yes." Please contact me at any time for information on our training courses. But, remember, if you can't join us, at least read us. Look for the UCEMWG logo and motto on all of your commercial e-mail!
Martha Steroid

P.S. Coming Soon!! Watch for information on our two newest organizations, which are currently "under construction" -- the GIF Animators Guild, which I believe is self-explanatory, and the International Association of People, which should be even more self-explanatory.


Dear Janis Joplin:
Pediatricians say that the best way to project what a child's height will be at adulthood is to average the height of both parents. So, for example, if Dad is 6 feet tall and Mom is 4 feet high, then Junior or Sis should be about 5 feet tall at adulthood. This explains the ancient, fossilized skeletons recently found beneath the ocean floor of 1-billion-foot-tall humans (who scientists said often died young due to comet strikes to the head and torso, complicated by the pulmonary and cranial effects of overexposure to hard vacuum). Eventually, I suppose, humanity will dwindle to tiny fairy-like creatures (without wings, I presume), and even one day disappear with an implosive 'pop' into some other universe. That's all good news for the environment!
Ann Thropologee


Dear R. Crumb:
To those who've been wondering about the true gender of God, I can tell you once and for all that God is, in fact, a man. However, he's married, and his wife tells him what to do.
Blaise Phamee


Dear Paul Kantner:
What if there really were no alien abductions? Or if Oswald had actually acted alone? I guess then Planet Magazine would be about sports, or something, rather than serving as a coy mouthpiece for our murderous alien overlords.
Thomas M. Schpoon


Dear Editor:
Do you know where I can complain about a hostile, even fatal, work environment? My co-workers have been dropping like flies on a weekly basis, ever since my boss introduced Casualty Friday.
Paul F. Suspision*






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