Friday, July 29, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Interesting bit of video, especially around thirty minutes in. Well...more depressing, but still interesting.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
“Come here girl. Come on.”
Hand open, a few chunks of hard bread on the palm. The mongrel, a narrow featured animal, ears curving up and flopping over at the tips, wags her curled tail. There is something of the northern working dog in it, but more than a little of a rat-killer as well. Eyes like twin dollops of chocolate fix on the bread. A tongue slides out, pulls in.She is hungry. And cold. But mostly hungry.
At night, she dreams of running.
“Come here, Zhuchka. Come here my little bug.” The hand twitches, spilling bread between fingers, to plop into the snow. “Come to me.”
The dog's ribs are visible beneath its coat. She is alone. Hungry. The food is too much for her. She trots forward, paws plodding through the sludge of the streets. Gulps down the bread with greedy abandon as hands scrub her head and back.
“Good girl. Good dog.”
Excerpt from LAIKA, CONQUEROR OF MARS (Rocket House, 1957):
'The insect screeched, mandibles clicking out a hideous song of death. Laika leapt over the scythe-like talons, her paws scrabbling up the reddish-brown carapace of the beast. Her jaws snapped shut on the monster's neck and she savaged it, her weight sending the beast over backwards. It shrieked like a stuck baby and clawed at the air as Laika severed its head from its shoulders. The dog crouched over the body of her foe, muzzle coated with black, inky blood and snarled at the other insects surrounding her. The cannibal-horses of Mars clicked their mandibles and closed in...'
“Easy girl. I know you want to move, but we have to test the harness.”
The dog whined. The harness chafed her and she couldn't move. Hands reached around, over and under her, checking the fastenings and food dispenser. She licked furiously at the hand she could reach, her whine growing shrill.
She didn't like being bound up. She couldn't move. She liked to run. Run so fast she could almost fly. But she couldn't like this.
“Easy. Easy. Shhh. It's all right. Everything is all right.” Fingers scrubbed her head and rubbed her ears. Her stomach gurgled and she panted, tongue dripping.
“Heh. You are a greedy one. We just fed you, Limonchik.”
She whined again and the laughter spread among the hands. Her bowl filled with a dollop of the bland gel-paste they had trained her to eat. She gobbled it down, tail swinging back and forth. It wasn't as good as running, but it would do.
“Good girl. Good dog.”
Excert from WONDER-DOG ON DINOSAUR ISLAND (Arcturus, 1958):
'The air was as thick as soup, and strange shapes glided through the haze. Laika trotted from the remains of the pod, her harness ragged and torn, but her own body amazingly unharmed. She shook herself, panting in the heat of her tropical surroundings. A sudden shriek caught her attention. The voice of a human! Laika's tail began to wag, but her hackles rose all the same as the woman crashed through the brush, falling to her hands and knees, breathing heavily.
And behind her, death came. It was a monstrous thing, bipedal and immense, with gaping jaws of sword-blade teeth and eyes like the pits of Hell itself! The Tyrannosaurus roared a challenge and Laika responded with a snarl, leaping to the attack!'
“She can sit, stand or lay down. Beyond that, no movement.”
“Excellent. So she'll be comfortable?”
“Who can tell? She can't exactly answer us, can you girl?” Hands caught her head, pulling it up as fingers scritched behind her ears. Her tail thumped against the floor and she whined, eyes pleading. She wanted to be let loose. It was time to run. To go and fly and see. But they hadn't let her loose yet.
“She's a little tramp this one, no?”
“She just wants a treat. Isn't that right my Little Curly? A bit of beef maybe?”
Her tail thumped harder, causing her harness to jingle.
“You shouldn't give that to her. We're trying to keep her on the paste.”
“A little treat every now and then won't hurt. No it won't, will it girl?” Hands descended, fingers gripping a bit of dried meat. Her jaws snapped together, pulling it away. Swallowing it. Fingers stroked her, head to tail and throat to belly. It wasn't as good as running, but it was good enough.
“Oh she is a good girl. Good dog.”
Excerpt from THE LUNAR REVOLUTION (Sputnik Books, 1959):
'Crimson star bright on the chest of her harness, Laika bounded towards the Selenites, her barks of warning catching the insect-people's attentions.
“What-click-is-it-click-friend-Laika?” the leader of the patrol asked. Laika barked again, dancing in a circle.
“The-click-English-click-are-coming?” the patrol-leader said, astounded. Laika barked again, growling. “An-click-ambush! Those filthy-click-imperialists!”
Laika snarled in agreement...'
“Shhh girl. Easy girl.” The harness was snapped into place and she found herself unable to turn around. She did not whine, having become used to this. It happened every day, at different times but every day nonetheless. She lapped at her gel paste, unconcerned. She allowed the hands to do their work and attach her waste bag and the various other things. Every so often, the hands would rub her head or scrub her jaw.
She no longer worried about running. They always released her after a time. She just had to be patient.
“This isn't right.”
“Science isn't right or wrong. She's a dog.”
“Exactly! She doesn't understand! Look at her!”
Fingers play with her muzzle, stroking her. She sneezes and looks up hopefully, tail wagging awkwardly in the confines of her cylinder. Maybe there will be another twist of dried meat. She has not had one in a while.
“She doesn't-I can't-”
“You knew this day was going to come when you brought her in.”
“I know. I know. I-”
“Go. Go have a drink or something. I'll finish up.”
New fingers play with her, stroking her softly. She shifts, trying to get them to go behind her ears the way the others did. They oblige and she pants happily.
“Good girl. Good dog.”
Excerpt from WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MUTTNIK? (Trocadero Press, 1975):
See Spot in a can.
See Spot orbiting a ball.
See Spot chase the ball.
See Spot go round and round and round.
Poor Spot. She will never catch that ball at all.'
“How is she?”
“We've got a heater keeping her warm. Food supply is good. Everything is...”
She can hear them, but not see them. It is dark in her cylinder. Cold, despite the heated air blowing in. She is hungry. The paste wasn't food. She wanted a twist of meat. She tried to turn around, to get comfortable, but the harness prevented her, holding her in place. She whined, scratching at the black in front of her. They hadn't let her out in the longest time. She hadn't stretched her legs in forever.
“Is that her?”
“Yeah. She's been whining on and off for the last day or so-”
“If it bothers you, don't listen.”
“How can they-”
“It's just a dog.”
“She isn't. She's our Little Curly.”
“She wasn't ours to begin with. She-”
She can feel the hands pressing up against the outside of her container. She whines again. The voice is soothing, despite her hunger. Despite the cold. The ache in her legs is all that remains.
“Shhh. Shhh my little lemon.”
“Good girl. Good dog.”
Excerpt from BEAST (Rhino Publishing, 1985):
'The dog was no longer what it had been. And in many ways, so much more.
It breathed heavily, its lungs now like bellows as it slid into the chill Siberian night. It's fur had fallen out in great clumps, giving way to glittering scales. It was still dog-like in both shape and gait, but distinctly unearthly now in its manner. The cosmic radiation had seen to that. No longer Laika, a Moscow mutt. Now it was something far worse.
It stood, spread-legged, in the snow-swept street and stared up at the moon. It raised malformed jaws to the sky and howled...'
“Respiration has increased. Pulse rate is up.”
“Capsule has seperated as planned.”
“How is she?”
She can hear their voices but all she can feel is the shaking. She gives a whining bark, eyes rolling, teeth bared as the world shakes around her. Sensors rattle and shake, slapping her on the side and the muzzle. She can't stay upright. Invisible hands force her down, press her to the hot floor. And it was hot. It wasn't cold anymore. She panted. Whined. Thought of the cold streets. Of a twist of meat. She didn't want to be here. She wanted a treat. She wanted to run, to be able to move. Even just a bit.
“Shhh. Easy girl. You're doing fine.”
“Keep her calm. We're about to level off.”
“I'm trying. But she's scared-”
“Of course she is. She has no concept for what is happening to her. Just talk to her. Keep her from chewing the sensors off.”
“Shhh. Easy Little Curly. Easy. There's a girl.”
The voices stroked her ears. It was so hot. And she was hungry again. Her legs ached.
“I can hear her eating.”
“That's a good sign.”
“Good girl. Good dog.”
Excerpt from THE DOG FROM OUTER-SPACE (Children's Reader Press, 1992):
'Laika led Sandra and Nick down the gleaming steel corridors, stopping and barking each time they came to one of the glass enclosures set into the walls. Inside each, a different form of alien life was contained.
“Laika, did you catch all of these creatures?” Sandra asked, pressing her face to the glass and staring at the jewel-like plummage of the Grox of Cassiope. Laika barked proudly, tail wagging as she danced in a circle, as if to say, 'Of course! Why else would they have shot me into space, if not to chase things and bring them back?'
“Thermal insulation is loose. The cabin has been heating up steadily.”
“How is she?”
“I-I can't hear her.”
She was so hot. She lay panting, tangled in her harness. She couldn't even summon the strength to eat. The air itself felt as if it were crushing her, pushing her flat. She could barely hear the voices soothing her, whispering to her. She wanted them to pet her, but they didn't. Perhaps she had been bad. Perhaps that's why they were punishing her. That's why they weren't letting her out.
“Can you hear me, my Little Curly?”
Her tail thumped weakly. She whined softly.
“Oh my Little Curly. Oh my little lemon-dog. You are such a good girl. Such a good dog. I am so sorry.”
Excerpt from THE SPACE-RACE (Kuttner & Cassky, 2001):
'In his later years, Oleg Gazenko expressed regret for allowing Laika to die: "The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.”
In spite of Gazenko's sentiments, Laika was memorialized on the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, erected in Moscow in 1964. Her figure is seen beside such luminaries of the Russian Space Program as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Yuri Gargin.'
“Can you hear me, my Little Curly?”
“Cabin temperature is at forty degrees celsius.”
“Nothing for the past hour.”
“Come on. Please. Come on. Little Curly?”
“Limonchik? Bark for me. Just once. Please...”
“It was just a dog.”
“She was not just a-”
“Get him out of here please! Security!”
She could not hear them. All she could hear was her own breathing. She was cold and hot at the same time. Behind her eyes she was running, running through the streets and hands were stroking her and rubbing her and she could taste the twists of meat. She was limp in her harness. The darkness was so bright. Everything was so quiet. So quiet.
She closed her eyes as the world faded around her and dreamed of running. Dreamed of the voices.“Good girl. Good dog.” they said. Her tail thumped once.
Everything was quiet.
Excerpt from BEYOND THE DOG-STAR (Stone Fiction, 2009):
'Laika awoke from the heat and the darkness, awoke from her dreams of running. She lifted her head, a whine of query spilling from her throat as she lifted herself up onto shaky legs. They surrounded her on all sides, glowing beings, ethereal and majestic.
“Good girl. Good dog.” They spoke as one. It sounded like the wash of waves over sand or the rustle of trees in a breeze. A whisper of scents and tastes made audible. Voices at once beautiful and inhuman. But Laika recognized them all the same.
They were human voices, after all.
And they had finally called her home.'
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Excerpt From ‘LAIKA, UNRESOLVED’ (H&S, 2070):
The dog was the first test of the system.
A mongrel mutt of unidentifiable origins. A bit of terrier, certainly. She was named Laika. It meant curly. The Russians fired her into space without planning to get her back down. Later, one of the engineers would commit suicide from the guilt. Others could never look at a dog again without weeping. One or two would remain satisfied that they had done the right thing. The correct thing.
In his twilight years, Oleg Gazenko, the scientist who had found Laika on a Moscow street and adopted her, expressed regret for allowing Laika to die: "The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.” This was a sentiment shared by many involved in the space-programs of the twentieth century super-powers. The ghost of Laika haunted the public imagination for a century-the eternal symbol of every animal victimized by man in the course of civilization.
Laika, of course, knew none of this. All she knew was that men she had trusted, men who had given her treats and scratches behind the ears had bundled her up into a confined capsule, immobilized her, and left her alone in the dark. She whined as the rocket took off, and ate her paste. It was a nutrient gruel that the Russians would vary only a little when they gave it to their human cosmonauts later. It did not satisfy her hunger and only made her thirsty. When the thermal insulation came loose, she began to grow hot and then sleepy. After a while, she simply hung in her brown leather harness with its crimson star stitched on the front. Eventually, she would cook to death in her tiny capsule before it completed its orbit and returned to Earth.
Laika would be memorialized on the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, erected in Moscow in 1964. Her figure stood beside such luminaries of the Russian Space Program as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Yuri Gargin. It was only fitting as she had been the first Earthling to reach space.
One hundred years later, a new system was invented and again, Laika was called upon to act as a test subject.
The Russians lost contact with Laika’s capsule four hours after take-off. Six hours after take-off, Laika died. It left the chrononauts exactly two hours to dock with the capsule, initiate a rescue operation and return up-time. A perfect test of the technology. it had everything a public relations advisor could want: Human interest, a photogenic dog, and time-travel.
Ten minutes after Laika passed out from the heat, she awoke in a cool, sterilized environment and was fed her first solid food in days by chrononaut Alexia Gazenko. An hour later, her bio-rhythms had returned to normal and she was as perky and frisky as she had been before she’d been fired into space.
Upon returning to the late twenty-first century, Laika was immediately adopted by Simon Parkwell, the scientist in charge of the PRIMEtime project. A noted proponent of animal free testing, Parkwell had chosen Laika as the test subject of his technology over other proposed luminaries such as Martin Luther King Junior, Joan of Arc, and Anne Frank. When asked for a comment in interviews he was reported to say, “What can I tell you? I’m a sucker for dogs.”