Sunday, June 23, 2013

Twistaplot #18 Calling Outer Space

I'm inadvertently falling into lame "themes" with these and I promise I'll try to stop it before I completely wallow in the "it's Labor Day, here's a book about Labor Day!" pigsty. Last time we were promised desert adventure in a balloon but were instead murdered by big-ear aliens for the crime of being insufficiently helpful. This time it's probably going to be more close encounters of variety number 3 with another Twistaplot book. Yes, the series that is basically a book version of that person who says "I'm so sarcastic and random!" and then wonders why they're also nearly universally despised is back again. At least one of these has to be decent, right? Right?

You know, let's just do this shit.

 Alternate Title: Billy Makes Homemade Acid

Like any truly great story we begin with a nerd feud. "Fred," of the Computer Club, disrespected me and my radio telescope at the science fair, making dated references to forgotten eighties movies and basically implying that I'm a flying saucer nut. Whatever Fred, we all know the real future is in sending radio waves into space, even though the closest areas that might have intelligent life would take years to get the signal and more years to respond, and not in so-called "computers" which have flash in the pan written all over them. 

Don't mock my radio telescope. Bad things happen to people that do that.

Undaunted by being made the object of fun in front of the local pre-teen scientific community I get the radio up and running, apparently not understanding the vastness of space and so on. A few hours later I think there's a reply. It's thumping. Apparently the shockingly close unearthly intelligence is into "beats." 

Space be droppin' phat bass, yo.

I fiddle with the dials to try to improve the signal. First I think I'm getting an unintelligible voice, like maybe one of those EMPs of my dead gram-cracker telling me to stop wasting the gift of life on radio telescopes. Then I'm all "this is just space noise." It's so disappointing I begin to question my credentials as an "astronomer" and am ready to quit. Rather than allow the agency to make a choice, which is pretty much the whole gimmick of these books, I have to flip a coin. You're pushing me, Twistaplot, you're really pushing me toward that edge. 

My lucky Maryland quarter comes up "Maryland" and I go back to sleep. I awake to "moans" but since I'm told my parents are at an "antique show" it isn't that, you pervert. Instead a cylinder has crashed through the roof of my house and a "bird-like creature" is asking for help with the same voice from last night! Man, the wild adventures this is gonna kick off! This is going to be so totally radical!
Then the story ends on the next page.

It turns out the visitor isn't actually hurt, which is probably lucky because I'm about to deploy some of my patented worst aid. Instead "help" is the only word it knows. I love how creatures that someone master the nearly impossible feat of long distance space travel are always totally inept and slow to adapt to novel situations. Next thing I know, he's falling down the stairs, bouncing off objects and acting like the Serbian E.T. knockoff that didn't quite capture the heart and wonder of the original. The story ends with an attempt to call the "rescue ship" although I'm not told if it was successful. It just ends there. 


We invented faster-than-light travel, when not falling flat on our faces.

I honestly remember this series being better. I always fall back on the "well, it was just one play-through excuse," but there comes a point where that just seems lame. I had to flip a coin to make a choice. Unless little Billy the scientist is also the Creature of Havoc that b.s. gets no love. 0 for 3, Twistaplot. 

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

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