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May 17th, 2009

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  • 19:41 Reading Joe Scalzi Old Man's War. Loving it #

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A good book...

There are many books I find enjoyable when I read, but a truly good book is one that not only entertains me, but inspires me, a book that gives me ideas.

So I was reading Old Man's War when I came up with a daft short story idea.

I'm sticking it under the handle War Games but I'll probably change the title later.

The Ifrey came to Earth on 12 May 2051.
Their huge ships descended in Earth’s atmosphere, putting down their long telescopic legs like giant stick insects, while the ‘body’ of the ship remained almost out of view.
The Ifrey rode down the legs in lifts to meet the gathered and bewildered humans who had streamed out to watch.
The television commentators went berserk. Here was a civilisation that had come from the stars, more intelligent than humans. Here was a civilisation...
They looked like beetles. Not the rustly, clicky, evil kind but cute ladybugs with bright colours and big, faceted googly eyes. Some of them had coloured wings, like butterflies. They were in one word, pretty. And totally peaceful.
I don’t actually remember that day, of course, because on 12 May 2051, I was little more than a wriggle in my father’s you-know-what, but like every child who went to school in the sixties and seventies, I saw the pictures, and the recordings, and the movie, and then the adapted movie version, and goodness knows what else, until I was so sick of it that the mere mention of the name Ifrey made me gag.
You see, they were adored like heroes. They brought technology, and gave it to us for free. A jump drive, an interstellar ship. The humans took it apart and re-built it like a huge meccano set, until they understood its workings. The stars opened up for human colonisation. All the countries in the world lifted restrictions on births, because Earth needed colonists, and lots of them. That’s how I came about, incidentally, even though the thought that the Ifrey were indirectly responsible for my birth still makes me puke.
My brother left as a colonist soon after.
There are pictures of that event, too, my brother waving – although my mother had to point him out to me, because I’ve never seen him – and my parents standing proud with tear-filled eyes. My mother with her hand on her round stomach. That was me, in there.
They had great hopes.
I certainly had the right pedigree. My father was a theoretical physicist and my mother had a distinguished career in mathematics. She had also been an athletics champion in her younger days, and was still very fit. She declined a surgical birth, assuming that what had come easy to her at twenty-six would still be easy at sixty-two. Big mistake. I shall not mention the nature of damage to her plumbing except that it wasn’t pretty, and that for the rest of her life she blamed me for it.
I wasn’t quite the child they’d expected either.


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