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In The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories, Ian Williams takes us to the near future and beyond. From a moon base where androids conduct experiments on human test subjects, to futuristic tours of the ocean depths that hide a terrible secret; from a society governed by harsh rule of law that is enforced by AI, to a humble clockmaker tempted by the promise of increased productivity through technological augmentation. Covering issues such as environmental decay, the end of facts and proven truths, our growing waste problem, and humanity’s tendency to divide when we should come together, this collection of six science fiction stories relates as much to our time as it does to the many possible futures.
From Last Bus to Freedom
A hail of bullets bounced off the door only an inch from Justin’s left shoulder. He returned fire, leaning out the door and unleashing a barrage of his own. His aim was off, he was ashamed to see. Still, he’d achieved the reprieve he’d intended. The trucks had backed off, albeit for the purpose of regrouping for another attempt.
The next time the trucks tried, Justin was ready. He aimed for the driver of the closest truck, choosing to focus on one target at a time and ignoring the other vehicle beside it. The second he had the driver’s head in his sights, he fired, sending a single bullet through the windscreen and the guy’s right eye.
There was nowhere for the second truck to go when the first pulled across its path. They became stuck together in a death roll, chunks of metal and flames flying off in every direction. Bodies landed on the road and were crushed beneath the churning chaos, their body armour stopping none of the impacts. When the two vehicles had finally come to rest in the middle of the road, they were set ablaze by bursting fuel tanks.
Everyone aboard the bus cheered in enraged delight, only for their celebration to be cut short a moment later.
“Erm, Justin,” Boy said. “You’d better see this?”
Please tell me things aren’t about to get worse already.
“I think things just got worse.” Boy’s timing was impeccable.
If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would you want to have seen?
I was born in 1983 so I was born far too late to have witnessed this event. But to have seen it would have been truly magical. Of course, by the very nature of this event, witnessing it personally would have proven difficult, so seeing it on TV as it was happening would have to have done. The event I am referring to is the moon landing.
Being a Sci-Fi writer means I am a full-time geek. That also means I am bordering on obsessed with many of sciences most incredible achievements. The top of that list is putting human feet on another world on July 20th, 1969. On that day we became a space-faring species, albeit to Earth’s natural satellite. The positivity towards the future I imagine people felt watching on that day must have been immense.
I would have been glued to the TV set throughout the entire experience, in case I missed something. I have watched the recordings of that trip either on TV or online since. But to have seen it as it unfolded live would have been something extra special. The feelings could never compare. I missed out on the trepidation, the anxiety, the sense of danger that came with watching as it happened. What if they crashed into the moon’s surface? What if their three-stage 363-foot Saturn V rocket exploded on the launchpad? What if they found aliens up there? (OK that last one was probably not too much of a concern).
For the next three years,NASA continued to go there. 10 astronauts stepped foot upon the moon in that short time. They each left their mark. Gene Cernan, the commander of the last Apollo mission, had this to say before leaving the moon: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.”
Now, finally, he may be right. There is a happy ending coming just over the horizon. I could get my wish as soon as 2024.NASA now has plans to return to the moon and to stay there this time. With the help of commercial and international partners, humanity is set to take the next giant leap.And I will be watching every second.
Each story I have writtenis infused with that love of science. So, however deep into the realm of fiction I delve, there will always be that element of real science to it. This is as true today with The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories, as it was with my very first published novel from 2014, called Transitory. The stories I have always enjoyed the most have been grounded by science facts as they have explored the science fiction.
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Ian Williams is a Science Fiction writer from the UK. He lives in a small town not far from London. Ian had a short career in the UK Court Service but was forced to quit that job when his medical condition worsened. Now, from the comfort of his wheelchair, he writes the stories he has always wanted to read. His writing spans lightyears of space, to near-future Earths; from small changes to society, to entirely new civilisations.
Author Website: HOME | Ian Williams Sci-Fi Author (ianwilliamsauthor.com)