EDITORIAL & LETTERS   

I also stunt double for Father Time! 


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JUMPIN' BEING

As the first person in history to reach outer space solely by jumping progressively higher, I'd like to take a moment to thank the recently IPO'd PlanetMagazineFoundation.com for its early funding of my mission, when all others were laughing at me (although it's true that Planet laughed at me, too, as the check for $1.29 was being handed over). Anyway, to honor that support, however insincere, I thought I'd let the readers of Planet be the first to know some of the things I'm up to now: I have just completed construction of a flying device capable of taking a man from the Earth to the Moon in two seconds! And for my next project, I will be working on a device to bring that man back. In the subsequent two years, I intend to build two similar devices for women. Finally, in the years after that, if there's time, I will build the Macintosh-compatible versions of these flying devices. But those are just my minor projects.

For those of you not very familiar with my aforementioned Great Deed, here's some first-person background before we discuss my most important pending project. I started The Jump (as it's now known) in my backyard, coached by Mickey, a guy who used to run a jumping gym in a shabby part of downtown Brooklyn (he's the guy who first showed me what it really means to have "Calves"). After a few weeks of training with progressively bigger jumps, I chose May 1, 1999, as the big day. I went out onto my back lawn, moved aside the plastic furniture, and began.

As I soared higher with each leap, I enjoyed a gradually improving aerial view at each jump's apogee. First I saw rooftops, then patchworked fields beyond the city's edge, then birds soaring below me, and I even tasted quite a bit of cloud (a lovely cumulus, for the most part). I spent much of the time during the ascent and descent of each jump keeping a log of my observations (altitude, temperature, rate of acceleration, physical sensations and status, UFO sightings, etc.) on my color-screen palm-size PC running WindowsCE. Unfortunately, the batteries died after an hour, I didn't have replacements handy, and the backup battery wasn't properly seated, so I lost all of the data. It's just as well, since I had to soon dump the PPC as ballast to achieve the final, few highest jumps.

Eventually, leaping ever-higher, the blue sky thinned, the stars winked in, and finally, at the top of my largest leap, when I thought I could go no higher, deep, black space finally welcomed me, gently trying to unbind me from gravity's coils. At that point, I began stabilizing each jump-peak at the exact same altitude, using the stars to mentally triangulate my exact position, so that I wouldn't completely lose my connection with gravity, and thereby Earth. The effect of hard vacuum on my lungs was quite painful, and my knees were getting more and more sore from each jump I was taking.

When I finally confirmed via mental computation that I had jumped high enough to ensure my place in the Guinness Book of World Records, and still leave any future competitors with too high a barrier to hurdle, I began to jump progressively lower. That proved to be the hardest part. I desperately wanted to just stop jumping, but I didn't want to pointlessly fall to my death after all I'd been through. And so I ratcheted lower with each bound, still suffering from space sickness and from severely tested buttocks, thighs, knees, and calves. With my last jump, of only several inches (I wanted to be certain all residual energy had dissipated; after all, who would want to smash to the Earth from a height of, say, only two feet?), I collapsed onto the floor of the six-foot pit in the middle of my backyard that had been created by the force of my numerous jumps. And as both the medics and the media quickly swooped in, the last thing I heard before I lost consciousness was Mickey saying, "Ya did good, kid. Real good!"

Later I found out that Mickey had tragically been under me when he said that. Apparently, he had slipped and fallen into the pit sometime during The Jump, and at the bottom of each leap my feet pounded him incrementally deeper into the ground, until only his head, from the chin up, remained above dirt level. You've all seen it on tape -- reporters and camera men standing around, horrified, during The Jump, unable to do anything in the fear that they might destabilize my landing place and possibly kill me.

My legs and lungs hurt for quite a bit after that; in fact, I was hospitalized for a year in quite serious condition. How serious was my condition? Well, it seemed that all I was able to do for those twelve months was read Kant, write geopolitical strategy papers, smoke a pipe, and play chess -- quite serious, indeed! Anyway, it's all in my upcoming profile on VH-1's "Behind the Gluteus".

And so ends my long tale, as the lion said after the crocodile bit it off.

But that's not the end of my story. Not by a long jump. The big news is that my next jumping project is to become the first person to jump around the world: starting the jump in a particular location, traveling via "leap" around the world, and landing again at that same spot. To train for it, I'm working on progressively longer jumps right now, and have managed to jump several hundred miles at once. Eventually, I'll do it all in one long bound that encircles the globe and deposits me in the same spot from where I took off. My main concern is that I don't overshoot and, instead of following the circumference of our world, veer off into low Earth orbit. That could prove quite deadly to my already vacuum-seared lungs! Lesser, but still important, potential obstacles in such a jump include matador capes, Frisbees, trees, kites, ball parks, office buildings, airplanes/airports, birds, and even simple windburn. But you can find out more in the next volume of my continuing autobiography, "No Reason".

As my coach Mickey always said to me: "Hey, ya done real good for a palooka trained by a bum who smells like ketchup but never ate no tomato-related products!" I still wonder, sometimes, what he meant by that.

Upward and then Onward,
Andrew G. McCann, editor
Planet Magazine
June 1999

SPECIAL NOTICE:
ANNOUNCING THE FIRST PLANETMAG-CON

Planet Magazine is planning the first of its annual Cons (as in "con job," of course, not "convention"), to be held next year in a destroyed city in the mouth of an active volcano in Papua, New Guinea. A free can of soda may be provided to each guest in return for a small donation. No speakers or agenda are planned. No accommodations will be available. Any transportation is the responsibility of the guest. The thought of applying for a permit is scheduled for dismissal. For further information: Try to find someone who knows something more about it.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor:
Hi there. Just a note to let you know that I've just discovered Planet Magazine and I like it! I've just read issue 21 and my favourite stories are "A Child's Thought", "Carnival", "Pigg Whistle", and "The Sisters of Catherine". I am an Australian SF writer of no repute so far, but I'm working on it. I organise an SF writing group that meets once a month where a bunch of local authors help one another improve their manuscripts/short stories. I will pass on Planet Magazine's URL, so watch out -- you may soon end up with a bunch of yarns from Down Under scratching for some space on your contents page.
Regards,
Cat Sparks

Dear Editor:
Found you while movin' around the Web through poetry links and am jotting a VERY quick note. I hope you'll stop by PoetryTonight at http://www.poetrytonight.com and see what we're up to. Any poetry, links, promotion, essays, or good wishes are appreciated. If nothing else, I hope you can help spread the word. We'll be featuring links and information on poetry magazines, by the way...
Thanks and best wishes,
Brian Robertson
Editor, Poetry Tonight

Dear Editor:
Why are none of the books recommended by you written by women? There are enough of them writing powerful SF out there like, for example, CJCherryh with her Company/Union novels, including "Cyteen", "Downbelow Station", "Foreigner", "Rimrunner", "Finity's End", and many more. Strange that she is not on your list. Just wondered...
Yngve
SF fan from Norway

[Editor's Note: Hi, and thanks for asking. It's just a coincidence, I think, that we list no women writers. Our list of books is very short and comprises our personal favorites; it's not meant to be a list of "the best" SF books. Still, one woman I've been meaning to add to the list is C.L. Moore, who wrote "Shambleau" and other strange tales.]

Dear Editor:
After much consideration, we have found that your site is one that really transcends the boundaries. The consistent quality of the fiction and illustrations, as well as, heck, the 5+ years of innovation, makes Planet Magazine one that we wish to honor with the new "Step Outside" award. Award winners are reviewed in our monthly newsletter and are listed on our links page with a notation that signifies this honor. The purpose of the award is to honor a site that we feel makes an important benefit to the world of (on-line) Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. In addition, each award also comes with an award graphic for you to show off that is customized, with the date of award and the name of your site, just like a "real" world trophy. We are trying to transcend the common technique of giving away an award that is really just a way to get one site to link another. That is not our intention. This award is our way of saying Wow! "Outside: Speculative and Dark Fiction" is a Web-only magazine of short Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. We pay professional rates to authors we publish, but the fiction is free to readers.
Thanks for your time,
Brian Callahan
Clocktower Fiction
http://www.clocktowerfiction.com
http://outside.clocktowerfiction.com

Dear Editor,
I read the story "Thunderstar" in your twenty-first issue. It was a very good story. I have a language I would like to share with the world. Here it is: I rong e a dong tong hong e song tong o rong yong Tong hong u nong dong e rong song tong a rong i nong yong o u rong tong wong e nong tong yong -- fong i rong song tong i song song u e. I tong wong a song a vong e rong yong gong oo dong song tong o rong yong. I hong a vong e a long a nong gong u a gong e I wong o u long dong long i kong e tong o song hong a rong e wong i tong hong tong hong e wong o rong long dong. Hong e rong e i tong i song. Can you translate this into English????
Weird,
Mt, Pleasant, UT

[Editor's Note: Thank you for your industrious letter. Unfortunately, I cannot, with enough certainty, translate the language snippet you supplied to us; however, we did note and appreciate its pleasing cadence. Translations from readers are welcome.]

Dear Editor:
I have always enjoyed your magazine, and got a real kick out of the Letters to the Editor section when I went looking to find one of mine that you published way back when.
Jim

LETTERS TO CHEESES

Dear Epoisses:
A tennis player without an opponent walks into a bar. The bartender says, "We don't serve tennis players in here". The players says, "Well, then, do you serve tennis balls?"
Regards,
Milo Sevic

Dear Gouda:
Two refugees named Ian walk into a bar that's a hangout for NATO peacekeepers. The bartender says, "We don't serve Ians in here." One of the Ians says, "No provlem, we're from Kosobo."
Regards,
Nate Toh

Dear Edam (and Ave):
As a literary 'zine, I hope you will help spread the word to other publishers, editors, and writers that all so-called fairy tales, folk tales, myths, nursery rhymes, etc., worldwide are now copyrighted, eternally, by me. Due to my secretly having had a time machine in recent years, which I used to visit all of those ignorant peasants of historical times past around the world, I now own all rights in perpetuity to all such stories (I even paid some of these ur-storytellers in potatoes!). Thus such tales are no longer in the public domain, and, in fact, now never were! This means that all royalties must be paid to me, including retroactive royalties, for all stories, songs (e.g., "Greensleeves"), poems, and related works that have been published and used by others. Do you realize what this means? It means I'm rich, rich, I tell you! And I now have the funds to crush any one of you who dares oppose me!
E. Gomainyak
Richest of All

Dear Swiss:
I'm the CEO of one of those niche Web start-up companies. I find that, to keep your "edge", it's not enough to be aggressive in the Internet biz, you have to be literally a psychopath. So here's what my firm is doing at the building where we work: All elevator doors spring open or shut without warning, whether or not they are on the right floor; move too slow, or too fast, and you get crushed by two steel doors like karate chops from God; or perhaps you'll fall to your death. Second: Excess headcount will be monitored daily on a real-time basis, based on an algorithm linked to our gray-market stock price; at the end of every day, those excess employees -- determined randomly -- will be leaving the building feet first, in sandwich bags. Third: anyone I catch away from their desks at any time during the day becomes fair game for my knife-throwing Doberman/human mutant companions. Fourth: Well, the list goes on, and it's time for lunch now, so I'll be toddling off -- exempt from Rule Three, mind you!
Best,
Webb "Bill" Yunnair

Dear Goat:
I digitized myself and uploaded me to a Web site. A week later, I checked my counter, and it read 000001 hits. Turns out that one hit was me! The Web is so very self-involved, don't I think?
Regards (to me),
Brough "Ken" Linx

Dear Lymeswold:
I digitized a doobie and uploaded it to a Web site. A week later, I checked my counter, and it read 000056 hits. Turns out that a doobie can take only so many hits before it burns out and becomes unusable. I feel like a real ash.
Regards,
Byrne Taroach
Fangorn Forest

Dear Monterey Jack:
I am an artist who, as an e-art project, has scanned 1,000 white pages onto a Web site as a statement. Um, that's it!
Sincerely,
Flatt N. D'Bye-Liftoff

Dear Ricotta:
This letter was created by me dropping off to sleep at my computer, falling head-first against my keyboard, and apparently hitting a random sequence of keys that typed out these words you are reading and then somehow (although it strains credulity) addressed and sent to you this very electronic letter. I don't even know I typed this and sent it.
Amazing, No?
Jim Panzee

Dear Cream:
I've gotten criticism from all over the galaxy regarding my affair with Emperor Klin-Ton. It's true that our actions brought the galactic empire to near-collapse, but what people simply don't understand is that of all the men I was dating concurrently at that time, only the Emperor gave me love that was true and deep -- the kind of love that people search for and usually find in an evening, but NEVER in the Emperor's own Circular Office! And He gave and GAVE every single day of our two-month relationship! Anyway, whatever.
Buy My Book,
Mon-Ekah

Dear Colby:
This is another letter from the future. Just wanted to warn all of those playwrights out there about what happened to me during Y2K (like the shirt says: "I Survived Y2K, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt During the Three-Day National Riot Utility-Meltdown Police-Revolt Massacre That Followed"). Anyway, we had a special New Year's performance of my post-modern play: "Blip-Blop Suburban Cannibalist a Bleached Adjective". Well, right during the Second Act, as the characters were explaining to each other (using a language I invented for this play called Exo-skeLatin) why they were AND were not transparent trapezoids, the counters rolled over from midnight, December 31, to 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000. And the played suddenly turned positively Victorian! The all-white living room set transformed into a chintz-covered parlor, while the characters began spouting some sort of Jamesian dialogue! I was shocked -- shocked! -- to find such rambling in my play! However, the critics loved it, and now I'm going to the Tony Awards!
Regards to Broadway,
Sam U. L. "Beck" Itt

Dear Editor:
Here are some facts of which your readers might not be aware, yet perhaps need to know if they are scheduled to appear on "Jeopardy!". Fact One: Zebras are actually completely white. But they live their entire lives in the shadows of a small leafy tree, the Loub-Lang, and this accounts for the black stripe patterns so often seen on their hides. Fact Two: All enamel paints are poisonous to humans, except those colored an exact shade of royal-blue (Int'l Paint Council Ref. No. 12-b3-16g). This paint is completely safe to drink, as the refraction of blue light through the paint matrix neutralizes any ketones. Fact Three: Much to his embarrassment, the famed illusionist and escape artist Houdini was never able to successfully escape even once from a straitjacket. Ironically, he later died insane -- bound in a straitjacket -- at Great Hallsmoor Asylum, Ithaca, New York, in 1897. Fact Four: It is harmful to the eyes to look at a hummingbird's wings while it is flying. Fact Five: An ostrich egg is literally the exact same size as the mother's head. It is also the identical size to the Australian Rules football itself. And Fact Six: The word "ploor" (with varying meanings) occurs in every single extant language worldwide, except English.
Jess DeFax
Ploorville, England

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