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Bewildering Stories

Karlos Allen writes about...

The End of SF As We Know It

Note: the following account is true. Only the names... events... conversations and any other inconvenient details have been changed to protect the guilty and serve the author’s purpose (cheap laughs).

As any who’ve bothered to peruse my bio know, I work in the semiconductor industry. I used to spend most of my time toiling away in the cleanroom before I managed to work myself into becoming a “carpet dweller” or, as those who have not yet escaped like to say, “a cubical puke.”

These clean rooms are really clean (even the dust is white) and they’re kept that way through constant filtration and the requirement that everyone wear Gortex suits, shoe covers, hoods and latex gloves. Quite often the only way you recognize someone is by how they look from behind. (“You say you work with me in the fab, huh? Turn around and let me see... Oh! Hi, Ralph! Whassup?”)

One day, when I was in there moving some wafers around and trying not to think about how many years I’d have to work for free if I screwed this lot up, a strange tech came running into the bay. He looked around wildly and then, out of breath, asked, “Where’s the control panel for the Ion Emitter Array?”

I stared at him in shock. I was used to the hi-tech atmosphere (I’d stopped walking around in slow motion like I was an astronaut on the Right Stuff days before) but this was new. I fully expected to see a starship captain and three red-shirted officers beam in behind him.

“I’m sorry, Captain. I canna help ye.” I said in my best Scots brogue.

He looked at me as if I was nuts and started racing around the room peering behind, under and above the tools. About then another tech raced in.

“Did you find it?”

“No, I can’t see it anywhere!.”

“It’s not very big, maybe a couple of inches across.”

I couldn’t stand it any longer, “What are you guys looking for?”

“The control panel for the Ion Emitter Array.”

“What’s that?”

He pointed at the ceiling above my head. “That’s it, up there.” I looked up and there, sitting quietly above my head, ionizing the air and sweeping the particles out of it, was the Ion Emitter Array. Four little white plastic tubes.

I love old science fiction, but something died that day. Whenever Captain Heroic is menaced by the Evil Empire, he won’t be able to save the day by blasting their fleet out existence with his Ion Emitter Array. Nor will he be able to cure diseases with it, or penetrate a cloaking device.

If he needs his air cleaned though...

Copyright © 2006 by Karlos Allen

Ed. note: That reminds me of an old joke of mine (they’re all old, but this one really is): My personal space vehicle is equipped with fore and aft photon projectors, four-way velocity dampers, and a sonic alert beam. Watch out for me: I’m a rolling Star Wars defense!

And it even starts on cold mornings.

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