Wednesday, February 07, 2018

What happens to Starman and the Red Roadster? Post your quick-short story here!

Okay, on sudden impulse*, here's a flash contest for the best very short Sci Fi story about how aliens or future folk might find and misinterpret Elon's Starman Tesla!

The rules: Maximum 100 words!


Post it below, in this comment section. (Regular Contrary Brin commenters... self restraint please? Keep it short and favor our guests.) Host retains control over posted content. Prize will be at host's discretion. You are to have fun and only fun.

Oh, then there's this:
"Third burn successful," Musk wrote on Twitter. "Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt."**

Final note: I may ... maybe ... forward stories to... himself.


Such incentives! ***

Ready, set, go....

DB


* Thanks for the suggestion, Joe Carroll.

** The asteroid belt... orbital aphelion 240 million miles or a hundred million beyond Mars. Hey, that's the setting for the last 1/3 of my novel EXISTENCE, all about what kids of machines we might find already there!


*** Oh, geez! Elon packed the trunk with toys and mementos and such... but did he remember to include the Tesla's KEYS? =====


161 comments:

Annie Mitty said...

What's the deadline?

Jay L Gischer said...

Danshi' quaked and trembled. His leaves shimmered in the half light of the chapel ship. It would be here soon. He looked over at Fred, who waved a flipper at him and nodded in that odd full body way. Soon he would be here, and he would renew their faith. The ship was named Tesla which was said to be the name of one of the prophets of old, but none to equal Starman, who transcended all mortal limits to show them that it was possible.

"Oh hail Starman", muttered Fred. Danshi' waved and bent in agreement. He could not survive in a gravity well, not even on Ares, the nearby reddish planet. But Starman had shown that an entire new existence was possible, and death could be conquered.

Oh hail, Starman.

The Müsey Blog said...

Originally 200 wordsish, paring it down wasn't easy. (Edit reason:Had to fix a particularly horrendous comma splice.)

"Overlord, I cracked it."
"Have you? Tell me."
"They say 'Don't Panic'. There is more to translate in the tome we found..."
"Very well. We shall not 'panic'."
The Coraxian fleet drifted towards the blue marble. A world, crisscrossed with satellites and debris, hove into sight.
"Overlord?"
"Yes Underling?"
"There was civilization. Apparently moderately advanced, but..."
"What is it Underling?"
"Looks like holocaust, a year after the launch. I have video."
The Overlord viewed it, he didn't need to understand the languages. "Underling, catalog it. It looks like..." He cleared his throat. "It looks like they panicked."

A.F. Rey said...

Are multiple entries OK, or shall we restrain ourselves? :)

Cade Johnson said...

The enigma, as Arrrr-mffft' was calling it, floated in the quarrantine bay. "WTF?" Cursory analysis revealed a primitive, but elaborate mechanism for accelerating and decelerating the reaction wheels. The odd, pneumatic things operated almost exclusively around a single axis! No thrusters were evident. A few local sensors . . . it made no sense. Yet, it was here, fitted for the tiny, suited figure . . . a space-faring civilization might be in the neighborhood! Yet extensive searching of the gas giant moons revealed only primitive slimes and the inner, rocky world were clearly too hot. How frustrating!

Camille Hill said...

Alarm sounds. Wake! Time to feed! Metals near! Come, sisters! Let us feed! Exit the Nestship, for the delicious metal! Eat lightly, and carry much to the Hivequeen!

The Queen eats! The Queen lays! Long live the Queen! Long live the Hive!

The metal is finished and the Queen needs food! The children are hatching, and must be fed! Hurry, hurry to the waterworld to consume its metals! Hurry sisters!

We are the Hive, and we are hungry!

A.F. Rey said...

“Once our world was ruled by individuals, young ant,” the old ant said. “They came from the fifth planet, between the red and gas giant, and colonized our world.
“But, being individuals, they were contentious and fought. Their terrible weapons not only destroyed them here, but utterly destroyed their home planet. Only rocks remain of it. Every sign of them was erased, except for one red transport that still orbits the sun. From it we know of them, and even their name.
“Join the hive mind, youngling. Or you, too, may be doomed like those quadrupeds of planet Tesla.”

Rich Carlson said...

Fender Bender

"Better brace for collision." Gurn assumed a stern countenance. "Get the crew into their protopods. We've only got a few tentines before it happens."

Nelg 4 flared orange and glided out of the navigation capsule.

Gurn was curious, anxious, annoyed and hungry. This was to be his nourishment interval. He refocused the node rings of the holochron upon the anomalous conglomeration tumbling toward them, revealing more details including symbols and words. 'Tesla'? To a nine-tentacled floater, there was no meaningful translation.

Vorelle was the only Tandelo on board and always lit up a chamber with positive waves, blue-green and undulating slowly. It peered from behind with curiosity.

"What does 'Don't Panic' mean in our language?"

Gurn sighed. That phrase had translated. He understood it and pointed at the holochron.

The impact was devastating.

Sparks said...

K16GR0A wasn't even a large asteroid. Just enough to impart a few meters per second delta v over two crucial months near aphelion. The much-anticipated lunar impact four orbits later wasn't even at the top of the news cycle, just a schadenfreude human interest piece about a less popular figure who had almost weathered his second sex scandal when the news broke. No, what surprised us was the unpredictably close lunar gravity assist flyby that nearly dipped below 100km.

Turns out, "barely a kiloton" is plenty when you park your roadster in the middle of the capital.

Alexis J. Morganza said...

Nobody knew how the poor little thing ended up in interstellar space; perhaps ejected from a ship in a collision. The carapace was pitted and scarred, but mostly intact; it must have evolved in a brutal environment to have needed such tough skin. The limbs and internal organs, though, were gone; no way to identify its ecosystem. An early molt, for sure — rounded and streamlined, perhaps a swimmer.

Opinions varied on whether it had been a pet or a slave; a few people even argued that it might have voluntarily bolted the tag TESLA to its own skin.

JohnSunseri said...

100 words exactly:

“So it has no purpose?” asked the Interdictor.

“It must have a purpose,” said one of the Investigators. “They incurred considerable expense of energy and effort to launch it. However, it has no PRACTICAL purpose.”

The Interdictor sighed sadly. “So it must be a further example of ‘religion’, then. I had hoped…”

“Yes,” said the Investigator. “We had similar hopes. But not every species sheds itself of its irrational impulses before venturing out from the cradle.”

“A shame,” said the Interdictor. “Seal off this system, then. We’ll check back in a thousand years to see if they’re ready by then.”

Patrick Farley said...

Fortunately, we keep Elon Musk's head cryonically preserved, so that 200 years from now when a vast, murderous space entity approaches the Earth saying, "T'SLA SEEKS THE CREATOR!" we are able to thaw him out and say "Here you go!"

(With apologies to Gene Roddenberry.)

Russell J Brown said...

"Commander, we've confirmed the artifact's origin date as 2018."

"Thank you, Sergeant. But you understand Elon is just a fabricated myth meant to glorify the early days of the disasterous Pan-Sol hegemony and undermine the power of the Collective."

"I understand, sir. But do you understand that this artifact proves he existed? If made public, Starman would spark a rebellion."

"I do. Now destroy it and cast it into the sun."

"I can't do that sir."

Doug Sharp said...

Warranty Voided
By Doug Sharp

Almighty BattleRocket Trigon, pride of the Tandoori fleet, emerged from UltraSpace through the roiling mousehole, gluon torpedoes blazing in a lethal cone, Q-bomb awake--standard prophylaxis against Zondorian ambush.

Commandrix Den Dron, yclept The Baby-Strangler of Qual^2, slammed her personal StimStick against the console, “Damn! Not a stinking alien in sight. On with the sordid wedding cruise.”

Dron brooded, “All my years of loyal butchery for the Tandoori crown and they defecate on my honor by assigning me to Princess Galina’s carnal tour. I shall avenge my honor.”

A tiny spark against Trigon’s hull.

raito said...

Sure, I'll play...

"They have answered our request", said the Apprentice.
"Good. Play it, apprentice", replied the Master.
"Uh, Master, it is not in the form we requested" said the Apprentice in a querulous voice.
"What form is it in?", demanded the Master.
"See for yourself, please", answered the Apprentice.
Upon seeing the gift, the Master turned despondent.
"We ask for more Chuck Berry, and they send us this?!?"

Haapi said...

“That bastard smuggler spaced me!”

Every time he woke up, this was Mick’s first thought.
His second thought was, “His sister was so not worth it.”

“I am cold, and this suit stinks.”

And indeed, his suit was running out of power, important gear was starting to quit.

Where’s a Martian cop around when you need one?

Alone, in the black of space, Mick suddenly felt a firm nudge behind his legs and his recycler system whirred at his involuntary reaction.

“What the ..!”

Dimly, Mick sees a large object, man-made. But not a satellite. He can dimly make out the words
DON’T
PANIC

Ginny K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TCB said...

“Provenance?”
“Fair salvage, picked her up near aphelion.”
“Really? And how do I know this isn’t a molecular copy?”
“A molecular copy? Of a Twenty-First Century Tesla Roadster, Starman in the seat, and a copy of Hunky Dory in the cassette player?”
“Ah HA!” shouted the stout man behind the counter. “Dunno what Elon used to play that Bowie music, but you must not have done yer homework if you think it was a Twentieth Century cassette player! Sell this paperweight to somebody who doesn’t know his stuff.”
“Fine. I’ll put it in my rec sphere until you come begging.”

Daniel Duffy said...

RE: Claim #23874-5589

Dear Mr. Musk,

While we here at Farmers Insurance pride ourselves on the fact that "We know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two" and "We’ve seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything" we are sorry to inform you that your claim is both beyond our experience and is simply not covered under your current policy.

Your existing auto insurance does not cover impacts, collisions or other damage resulting from contact at high speeds with an asteroid. Furthermore, the collateral damage to the mannequin is not included under your valuable personal property rider.

Therefore, we must inform you that your claim is denied. However, we would like to offer you additional coverage for orbital automobiles specifically for future incidents of this type. Contractual details and premium information are in the enclosed attachment.

Respectfully yours,
John Smith
Agent, Farmers Insurance

Winter7 said...

Conrad welded on the red Tesla Roadster, the base of a metal bar. Calibrated the spring of the bar, so that the end wheel pressed the roof with flexibility, keeping the tires of the car fastened to the floor of the lava tube. He advanced on the vehicle, and reached the base of extraterrestrial invaders in ten minutes. Without a doubt, it was the angels of God who had placed the car on the surface of Ceres. Now he was a believer, and he did not hesitate to detonate the nuclear weapon in the other seat; liberating all humanity.

Alan McBride said...

Sergeant Frazier had spent more than 17 years as head of the Tharsis District police force, so she was familiar with all the craziness that people could concoct. She’d seen or heard almost everything.

It was the “almost” that tripped her up.

She stood, ankle deep in sand, glaring through her face plate at her corporal.

“Is this a joke?”

“No, ma’am,” hissed the reply in her headset. “Checks out authentic. Tesla Roadster, early 21st Century. “

“What the hell is it doing here?”

The Starman turned its head. “Waiting for you. Elon stashed plans for a star-drive in the trunk.”

Paul SB said...

Creation Tail

LishTharpa swam to the conference room, excited about the report of the recon mission. As the only actual Cetacean on the project, she knew she felt the excitement far more than any of the others. One chance find, but maybe the find of a lifetime. The icon in the mysterious vessel had the right bipedal form thought to match the primogenitor race. But the looks on the scouts’ pseudopodia told her all she needed to know.

“All we found in that system were two hothouse planets that might have had life at one time, and this little frozen red planet.”

Duncan Ocel said...

Bay doors sealed. Commencing repressurization....

Repressurization complete.
Temperature...nominal.
Gas exchange...not detected.
EM emission spectrum...nominal.
Gravitometry...1260 kg.
Seismography...Abnormal signal detected.
Elaborate: complex, repeating signal. Frequencies between 80 Hz and 20 kHz.
Safety unknown.
Displaying on readout.

Paused.
Repeating from beginning of recorded signal....
Paused.
Repeating from beginning of recorded signal....

Attempting shipwide broadcast...
Contacting Commanding Officer....
Permission obtained.
Shipwide broadcast commencing...

---End of Ship Log---

Alfred Differ said...

Teacher pointed to |sarcophagus| (…\four syllables for |stone box|?) and explained |Burial Rituals Matter|.

…\He is explaining |human| again. He’s old and thinking distractions.
…\Sigh. Expand myRefTree.
@Coralspr Alert on Attention Demand.

{sprInterrupt} Keet: “Where are the wheels? “
…\{selfLink |Starman|?}

Teacher: “Our rituals changed through the ages. The ancients expected grave robbers and tried to frustrate them.”
…\Kairy cares more about how Alicia is preening. Again. Mel is too young to notice. {Primates}
{tyspCoral>Resume}

{sample |Starman|}

{sprInterrupt} Lyra (slowly): “Wheels help out here?“
…\|Humor| attempt?
…\\Respond!
I: “Nah. Someone got that corpse too.”
Teacher (smiled!): “They usually do.”

David Brin said...

I confess some of these confused me, but you guys are clearly having fun!

If I write one. it'll be an argument between a collector, a preservationist (who wants the roadster left in orbit, another preservationist who wants it in a museum, and a Musk-ovite who wants it put atop a Martian shrine... ;-)

Remember Contrary Brin is one of the oldest and best blogs on the Web!

Paul451 said...

Squeezing past her uncle, she reached for the hatch.

"Uncle?" she nudged, and he distractedly activated the air pumps, more interested in the radar image.

"Uncle," she said more firmly. "Huh? Oh," finally remembering to seal his face-plate as his ears popped. No airlock on the "one-man" ship.

Exiting the ship, she examined the salvage target with her own eyes while adjusting the capture harness. Just an old chemical stage. Some metal scrap value. Or if they were lucky, some artist on Ceres would be interested. The rocket continued rotating slowly, bringing its payload in to view.

"Oh, Uncle."

david_b said...

The little red car was his great white whale, but while Captain Ahab had only the oceans of Earth to find his obsession, D.D. Harriman had for his, the whole inner solar system. Don't call me Ishmael, but like that old sailor, I have seen monomania and believe me, it is not pretty.

Harriman was in awe of Elon Musk. To him, Musk's rocketing into space of his red roadster was the perfect rejoinder to those naysayers who said Capitalism had no role in space exploration. Harriman had to have that car for owning the Moon was not enough.

Andrew Goetsch said...

The Earth starship investigating the path of destruction an unknown force left across the galaxy found a small vehicle that called itself Tsla responsible. Just as the starship was about to be destroyed, the vehicle stopped when Captain Elron Dusk made a final plea for communication. Two days of plagarized storyline later, the vehicle continued on it's mission to clean the galaxy of impure lifeforms, only to be stopped by one brave lawyer serving it a cease and desist notice based on it's ripoff of an old movie which in turn had ripped off an old television show.

birger monsen said...

Just wait. G'lach would have to admit defeat. The proposal that it was all a prank was preposterous. During a heated argument G'sla had wowed to invest all of the fortune amassed as the space travel pioneer into solving the riddle of the weird space artifact. Why was it so clearly designed to be maneuvered by the entity in the suit when the entity seemed inert? And why did the traction system make no sense in space? There had to be a logical solution! G'sla would solve it or go bankrupt trying!

Heikki said...

The first outer space mission for SpaceX's BFS has finally reached it's destination.

Everything looks almost like in the "You only live twice" James Bond moveie.
Nose cone of the ship opens, eating F9 second stage and the attached tesla car.

Then robotic arms and clamps attack the car and F9 second stage tightly in position.
After eating the car, the BFS performs a course correction burn to bring it back into earth in 3 years instead of 3000 years.

After 3 additional years of coasting in the space, Elon will get his beloved car back

Tim said...

"Are you sure you want to do this? That's all the Delta-V we can spare."
"It will be fine; we aren't below safety margin."
"So whimsical, not like you at all."
"We’re here right place, right time. Without his whimsy none of us would be here."
"Bracing's done. Starting transfer."
"Only enough for Saturn, '-ish but we did our part."
"Added our logo on the bracing."
"Boost”
“Almost as much those water jacks gave."
"Weren't they the ones that crawled back to Ceres on fumes?"
"No, the first one did. That it'll be us if we don't hit our window."

Paul SB said...

My chihuahua! Look at how many people came out of the woodwork when the subject was whimsical creativity instead of endless politics. We should do this more often.

LarryHart said...

You got me.

The best I can think of is some kind of endless debate over whether the orbiting car implies a creator or if it formed spontaneously over the eons via natural selection.

Jon S. said...

The glowing green orb drifted through space. The intelligence it contained was both malevolent and patient; it knew its promises would not go unheeded forever.

The vehicle approached. Its luggage compartment opened, welcoming the orb inside.

Mission accomplished.

The compartment closed; secondary thrusters flared to life, changing the orbit of the vehicle. Its return to Earth would now come in months, rather than centuries.

Unheard in the vacuum of interplanetary space, the CD player of the vehicle changed disks. The musical tones of David Bowie echoing in the hollow spacesuit in the driver's seat changed to the more aggressive Sammy Hagar, singing of the glories of heavy metal.

Paul SB said...

Larry,
That could be funny if handled well, but with only 100 words that won't be easy.

sociotard said...

I've said it before: Republican's only seemed to be more in-lockstep than the herded-cats Democrats because the Republicans faced a divided government. Its easy to vote in lockstep when you know the other party will veto. When Republicans know the vote matters, the cracks show. Watch how they bicker and disagree over budget and immigration deals.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/right-revolts-on-budget-deal/ar-BBIPKUP

Anonymous said...

"Is it pink?"

"Sir, no, sir. It is red."

"Is it an Eldorado?"

"Sir, no, sir. It is identified as being a Tesla."

"And the bearded human?"

"Sir, not the driver, sir."

"Very well." And slowly and reluctantly, the Grand Admiral of the fleet, removed from the firing button, his large elephantine part.

----------

Vilyehm

occam's comic said...

While on the journey to the Chestnut Festival in Sincy, the group of pilgrims were startled by a bright crimson fireball in the sky.

The young pan narrans turned to the old sage and asked what was that?

“Well it clearly wasn’t a meteor, the color of the explosion is all wrong. It is most likely to be something from the last days of the Age of Abundance or the early days of the Time of Troubles. It could be many things, but i have read a story about how one of the wealthy priests of the Robot God launched his dead body in a robot wagon in an effort to travel to the stars. He failed like all who worshiped the dead robot god, but let’s welcome back Elon Von Kessler back to his home.”

sociotard said...

Gary shut the hatch behind him and reinitiated the autoharvester, splitting up the useful elements and spitting out the dross.

"Anything from the salvage?"

"Not really. This wasn't a defective drone or anything. It was old. Real old."

"You sound confident."

"Micrometeorite blasted all to hell and irradiated to boot, but yeah, there was a little manufacture decal that survived against all odds. Over 150 years, if you can believe it." Gary tossed his partner a stuffed bear. "This survived, though."

Within 3 years, the partners son ripped it in half, trying to hide candy. Space has nothing on kids.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ka’ltrat’s visage flashed purple-red, indicating interest-tempered-by-professional-caution. “Religious? Why religious?”
Ka’tran’s response was a rosy pink glow of enthusiasm. “We know that sacrifice of them is an integral part of their superstitions. The man nailed to the crossed beams. Young ones thrown into volcanoes, fed to giant simians. I believe this humanoid representation...”
“Major Tom, you mean.”
“As you say, Major Tom, was the sacrifice for this particular madness, this religion called ‘Tesla’. Their golden rule was ‘Don’t Panic’ and they had pieces of cloth to wave evil spirits away.”
Ka’ltrat ground his vertabrae. “Ridiculous. Which means it’s probably true.”

Troutwaxer said...

"T'SLA SEEKS THE CREATOR!"

I was going to go there, but you beat me too it. I wonder if there's a descendant of Elon Musk aboard the Enterprise. (Someone has to mate with it, right?)

Rudy Ch. Garcia said...

Report on DE555x2 Relic, origin – Earth
Description: red metal & plastic, solar energy-powered Vehicle, 4-wheeled. Electronic & mechanical assists; synthetic apparel preserving helmeted, bipedal Occupant.
Composition of Occupant – proto-plasticine, approx. 50,000 Earth years.
Correlations to humans' museums:
Maya King Pakal depicted in "spaceship," Palenque;
Viking priestess interred in wooden ship, Oseberg;
"Solar barge" of mummified, Pharaoh Cheops, Giza.
Analysis: Occupant, Musk(?), likely a high-ranking priest(ess) or royalty, given excessive resources needed to deliver (surface!) vehicle to Asteroid Belt.
Study of Earth species hereby terminated. Pre-extinction level never reached Demigod/Worship/Mobile-Coffin, Stage 3.

Octagrabber said...

"Oh, so that's where Kimbal got to..."

Jeff Schering said...

The interstellar flight-test ship hung high above the sun, its two occupants waiting.

"Are we all set to go?"
"Almost. Before we leave there's something I want to do."
"Is that why you've brought us to this weird orbit?"
"Yes."

A tug went out, latched on to the Tesla Roadster, slowly brought it in, and fastened it to the ship's hull.

"Why did you want to do that?"
"I wanted a good luck token for the voyage ahead."
"Oh. I didnt' know machines were so sentimental."

locumranch said...


Perforated chassis, exposed passenger compartment, ghoulish dead-animal epidermis seat covers & shattered cold-intolerant tires, unpowered, found tumbling aimlessly on an indeterminate trajectory, this recovered anomalous object simply should not be. First thought a Consumer Age fetish, analysis of the primitive pilot revealed a flash-frozen humanoid with some unexpected left gauntlet cell viability, and some 4 weeks restoration revealed this historical truth macabre: "I was Musk's friend, accountant & co-conspirator", said the revived anachronism, "and that bastard threatened to kill me & shoot me into space if I were ever to disclose his fraudulent financial chicaneries". Excerpt from 'Terrestrial Horror Story', Season 2, Episode 7.


Best

locumranch said...


FYI:

Chinese police spot suspects with surveillance sunglasses
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-42973456

"But critics fear the technology will give even more power to the government"

Joe Mahoney said...

A dummy, everyone thought.

Could a dummy modify a roadster for space travel?

Unless swapping yourself for an actual dummy, placing yourself inside a convertible on a rocket bound for orbit made you a dummy. Which, Musk reflected, it might.

He quickly discarded that line of thought for sillier, funner thoughts.

He chuckled as he adjusted his helmet, threw the Tesla into gear, and accelerated toward Mars (or the Large Magellanic Cloud… he wasn’t sure; he hadn’t made up his mind yet). The quickest car in the world, he had once bragged.

Maybe.

But not just the world. Not anymore.

Andrew Paul Wood said...

Obviously it was a PR stunt as much as a test of the Falcon Heavy rocket, but when Elon Musk's first generation Tesla Roadster triggered a massive Kessler ablation cascade, some felt it was poetic justice.

The families of the ISS crew were very gracious about it, and it's not like we needed all those satellites anyway.

The lynching was quite festive.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luis M. Milán Leal said...

Amontillado.

David woke up, with a headache.

"Very funny, Elon". He tried to move, but found his body completely unresponsive. A closed faceplate prevented him from seeing where he was. His stomach felt odd, and he felt weightless. Must be the drugs.

"Spiking the amontillado? That's low even for you, Elon." He struggled again. "She said she loved me, but that's no reason to get vindictive, you jealous bastard. Now let me out of here!"

The faceplate lifted. He stared at the stars.

A small, tinny voice echoed inside his helmet. "Enjoy your trip, David."

He started laughing, in despair.

David Brin said...

Many fun submissions!

Loved david_b’s Heinlein reference!

Andrew Goetsch… ha!

Heikki… an optimist!

Bill Taylor… as usual, a little obscure… and funny.

locumranch cannot stop fizzing hate at modernity… still, it’s actually pretty clever and funny.

Jeff Schering… not only optimistic, but I believe the most realistic. Most likely to come true. I hope.

But Joe Mahoney is in the lead. Love it.

spacer01 said...

They bounced carefully across asteroid surface, its gravity so low they could almost reach orbit and definitely have a really annoying ride. They had landed their ship on the far side of the planned dig. The last archaeological survey ship had found indications of technological artifacts. Metal alloys and hydrocarbon synthetics, highly unlikely to be natural. As they crossed the horizon, they reached the edge of the debris field. Many pieces of cherry red shown in their helmet lights, despite the accumulation of dust on the surfaces. Definitely not military, they tended toward dark, nonreflective and ablative materials. Then they saw it. A humanoid form, helmet smashed near the middle of the field. With an apparent body, the constabulary must be notified and no further progress could be made. It could be months or years before the expedition was allowed to return. The grad students groaned, knowing they would have to find a new project. Dejected, they left a nav beacon behind and returned to the ship.

David Brin said...

Okay, the Poe reference gave the lead to Luis Leal! Though Mr. Wood should be great pals with locumranch!

Har, good stuff.

shaun said...

"Amid the debris we discovered an unusual device which stood apart from the vein of particles found in the asteroid belt," Professor Rutledge informed his students.

He activated the modular unit which processed the digital information stored within the anomalous relic. Speakers emitted tinny, crackling sounds amid which the oddly intoned words could just be made out by the eager students.

"...Ground Control to Major Tom, take your protein pills and put your helmet on..."

"We wouldn't even be able to hear this sacred message if it weren't for our atmosphere here on the Red Planet. Praise be to Blackstar!"

Geoff Hart said...

Assuming for the sake of argument and the contest's context that your fearless leader is a de facto alien "intelligence".

"Who needs a wall?" tweeted the Commander in Chief. "Drop orbiting Tesla Roadsters on anyone who attempts to cross the Rio Grande -- and that vexing fellow in North Korea. Cheaper than cruise missiles; boosts employment in major American industry. Make America Great Again!"

Musk turned pale. "I knew there was a flaw in my strategy."

thefensk said...

Glondaragh wiped the faceplate covering his middle eye with one tentacle and actuated communication with the mother ship.
"I have analyzed the device."
The commander answered, "What is it?"
"Some sort of conveyance. Totally unlike any other device we have found in this sector."
"Unprotected? What of the occupant?"
"Strangely mummified."
"Status of the device?"
He operated a tentacle scanner. "No obvious propulsion. No energy reading. Oh, wait. Here's the problem," he said pointing down with his three forward tentacles.
"Dead battery."

Deuxglass said...

"But Elon, I don't understand why you put your car on the rocket and sent it to Mars? We could have put a scientific payload that would have given some valuable data but each time someone offered one you refused. Why?"

"David, it was a question of honor. Back in 1999 I was at Jeff Bezos house and we were having a few drinks and some great weed. Well you know how it goes. We started bragging about what we were going to do to make our mark on the World. After a couple of hours I said that I was going to build a big fucking rocket, put my car on top and send it to Mars. We both were pretty wasted you see so we made a bet. I just fulfilled my side of the bet."

"Elon, what was Jeff Bezos' side of the bet then? What does he have to do now?"

"Why David, after I said I was going to build the big fucking rocket and send my car to Mars, he said he would do one better. He would build a bigger fucking rocket, send it to Mars, get my car, bring it back and park it in my driveway."




Winter7 said...

When the effect of the drug passed, Donald Trump saw millions of stars through the helmet of the space suit. He screamed and messed up the suit; then, he looked at the sign that said "do not panic" and the sarcastic one; Hillary Clinton's voice began to be heard in a speaker:

¡Ho! You've awakened. Do not worry about the White House; ¡We found a double identical to you that knows how to act like an idiot! Jaaa!
The congress suggested that this is the best punishment for the crime of high treason. ¡Enjoy it!
He did not stop screaming.

sociotard said...

Deuxglass wins.

David Brin said...

While Winter7's wish fantasy has some schadenfreude appeal... one of our regulars - Deuxglass - just became a finalist!

Douglas Fenton said...

Maybe it's a true story............. :)

Matthieu Walraet said...

A last, after so much years spent to obtain authorizations and finance an expedition, Starman's car is within my reach. As expected, centuries have left the ancient artifact in pristine condition. I open the glove box. I can see the book and the towel, nothing else. However the towel is wrapped around a round shape. Rumors were true: a mysterious cargo was part of the payload sent in orbit around the sun that day. I unwrap the object. That is... a teapot.

Knute said...

< As she approached the artifact, in her singleship, the Belter was thinking, "This will put a LOT of credits in my account! I guess it DOES pay to be a student of history! This thing is worth MUCH more as a historical artifact, than the usual, same old. It's even more rare than a Slaver Stasis Box! [Those things are everywhere.]" >

Bill McCormick said...

TVC15 Online. Scanning activated. Hellas Planatia in rearview. Projected path error detected. Eleven contingency plans accessed. Processing. Plan nine deemed acceptable. Power converters activated. Course adjustments within acceptable parameters. Power grid at optimal levels. Route adaptations commencing. Exterior illumination devices functioning. Onboard translation systems engaged. Right turn signal working as projected, course correction commenced. Thrusters at full. Target Garth accessed. Approximate arrival 116,234 standard Earth Years. Begin welcome message. “I am waiting in the sky, I would like to come and meet you but I don’t want to blow your minds.” Repeat message until arrival.

Ken Baker said...

Commander Sgrjge turned one of his heads to the communicator strapped to his tentacle and focus three eyes on the screen.
"The hyperspace transport won't be here for another 15E9 seconds."
Lieutenent Ythdkw suggesting calling Univuber.
Good idea, said Sgrjge, and made the call.
Ythdkw said "that was fast, there it is already."

djis said...

Deep space, year unknown.
The 300 meters long cargo starship "Floaty McFloatface" was traveling across the void at a speed deemed impossible only a few millions years before. Crewed with only bots and a small colony of starving cockroaches, the magnificent vessel was heading towards Earth filled with its cargo of precious paperclips. Only light seconds away, heading the opposite direction towards the beginning of time, a tiny red roaster was floating by, a desperate looking Starman at its wheel.

Matthew Legare said...

So, there’s this metaphysical idea that if you put enough attention into something, you ‘invest’ it with the energy expended by that attention, right?

With me so far?

Okay, this is where things get hinkey.

A while ago, a man on Earth – maybe crazy, definitely rich – spent a lot of his own money to send a car he developed with his own money up into space in a rocket he developed with his own money. Plus a space-suited manikin.

And millions of people on the Earth watched it and laughed and smiled. Again and again.

That’s me, Earth.

So… Hi.

Raider of the lost BBS said...

Interviewer: So, Mr. Musk! PayPal, Tesla, Hyperloop, the Boring company --

Musk: OK, that one admittedly *is* a bit boring, but it fits well with the other projects.

Interviewer: (Chuckles) Regardless, that is an impressive list. And I hear your next project is Fusion?

Musk: Yeah! Free, unlimited energy! I recently received the final prototype and...

( Musk's smile drops, his ashen face a mask of shock. Flashes of the Red roadster's booth play in his mind like flashbacks in a B movie )

Musk: you know, I think we *will* have to get to Mars first...

Rcarlberg said...

Report to The President
==CLASSIFIED==
April 11, 2029

Subject: Incoming Asteroid

Sir,
JPL and Observatory of Turin have now confirmed that asteroid Apophis was nudged out of its expected trajectory by a minor impact late in 2018. It now appears to be on a collison course with Earth, in two days' time.

Also, telescopes have picked up what appear to be shiny red debris on its surface.

san said...

The year is 2018, and SpaceX launches the last of America's deep space probes...

In a freak mishap, Tesla 3 and its pilot Starman are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes their batteries, and returns Starman to Earth 500 years later...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1obwMjzUY9M

"Bidi-bidi-bidi, What the Buck is that?"

A.F. Rey said...

I shot a Tesla in the air
And where it fell...aw, shit...

Rud Merriam said...

NASA's Deep Space Network received the alien's message. Surprisingly it was addressed to Elon Musk.

"We will return your Tesla Roadster to you when we land on June 28, 2021, as a birthday present. We're sorry to report it deteriorated over the millenniums during its travels. We are grateful to you since it provided us the incentive to develop interstellar travel. The bigger challenge was meeting the deadline for the X-Prize of $10 million you offered for its recovery, but we finally figured out time travel.

"If you answer one question for us you can keep the prize money. 'Who the heck is Major Tom?'"

curiousgemini said...

The crew of the UFSS Tesla was ecstatic over finding the very vehicle which their ship was named after. It was mocked by most people and AI’s as a pre-collapse myth. But, they had just proven the skeptics wrong.
“Brother and sisters, we have at last discovered the sacred artifact as promised by ancient scripture. It came from our savior who led humanity out the Collapse and inspired humanity to rebuild the world and to then went on to help colonize the Solar System!”
“Praise Musk!” He proclaimed. And then, they all did the sign of the “M”.


George A.

Treebeard said...

Not much of a story, but I like it...

In a billion years, the sun has boiled off the Earth's oceans and begun devouring the solar system. A small red satellite orbiting beyond Mars collides with a minor asteroid. The satellite is crushed on impact. A helmet is flung from the wreckage into space, tumbling toward the expanding sun that will consume it another ten million years. There is no intelligent life around to notice. The universe, if it has any intelligence, shows no interest either. The end.

curiousgemini said...

“We have found many artifacts of the late civilization of the third planet, but why would they jettison a ground vehicle into space like this?” C7b the third asked D5k the fourth. “Well we intercepted some transmissions a few decades before the rouge planetoid hit “Earth”. He rubbed a tentacle against his wallox for a second. “It seems they had military robots called “Tranfurmrs” which could disguise themselves as ground vehicles”. C7b was stunned. “Well, we better put it in a level 12 quarantine field, just to be on the safe side!”


George A

David Brin said...

curiousgemini ... cute “Tranfurmrs” twist!
treebeard... pretty typical stylish Jr. High School curled lip cynicism, enjoy.

Red Meriam... compensates for that gloom!

Treebeard said...

Not really cynicism, I was just trying to provide a scientifically plausible scenario, based on present knowledge. But for someone who thinks Star Trek is plausible, I guess it does look cynical.

Alfred Differ said...

Considering that it is heading for the Belt, it won't be orbiting the Sun in a billion years. Just coming down near our orbit on occasion will ensure that.

The (perturbation) force(s) will be strong on that one.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'm probably breaking the rules, but in the spirit of Trump, I spit upon stupid rules. I want to resubmit with one important word add. We've been onwarded, so The Doctor is probably the only one who will even see this:

Ka’ltrat’s visage flashed purple-red, indicating interest-tempered-by-professional-caution. “Religious? Why religious?”
Ka’tran’s response was a rosy pink glow of enthusiasm. “We know that sacrifice of them is an integral part of their superstitions. The man nailed to the crossed beams. Young ones thrown into volcanoes, fed to giant simians. I believe this humanoid representation...”
“Major Tom, you mean.”
“As you say, Major Tom, was the sacrifice for this particular madness, this religion called ‘Tesla’. Their golden rule was ‘Don’t Panic’ and they had pieces of cloth to wave evil spirits away.”
Ka’ltrat ground his vertabrae, laughing. “Ridiculous. Which means it’s probably true.”

Craig Lincoln said...

Ships suddenly spotted the sky, beams raking the ground, vaporizing only our bodies, leaving infrastructure intact. I was caught trying to fight back, and brought before one of them, to speak. It wore a familiar stylized "T" around its neck.

"The man in the stars," it said, "and his lithium ion battery chariot opened our eyes to this beam weapon. We are grateful."

"Then why destroy us?" I asked.

"Destroy you? We make you hollow, like him, the man in the stars." It leveled a weapon at my head. "You will be the next one elevated to glory."

Ldrobert said...

Darlal followed the orbit Tesla was on. The very thing she was looking for, escaped sight. It had been many years since Earth was unable to sustain life after the last war. Mars was unable to save everyone let alone any more than a few books brought up as they completed the domes. Suddenly it was there. A bright red Tesla. The tires were gone, as was Starman. Damage by meteors evident, but the digital copy of Space Oddity survived. This would bring to Mars, the story of Major Tom, an ancient legend from Earth.

corvus said...

The spectrometer pinged. A strong, metallic signal. Out in the Kuiper Belt, metal was scarce. Weeks since the last strike, fuel and air were low.
Jaine grappled the object into the hold and re-pressurised. Obviously human-made, an ancient road vehicle. Fragments of red bodywork clung to the pitted steel and aluminium frame, corroded by centuries of hard vacuum and radiation. The remnants of an empty spacesuit fluttered in the cool air.
“It must have been something once.”
“Yes. Quite something. But now, more importantly, we get to live a little longer.”
Tsu fired up the cutting torch.

Rod Martin, Jr. said...

“Report!”

“Sir, Heavy Metal, but differences.”

“Could it mean?—”

“No! The Loc-Nar is real?”

“Preposterous!”

“Yes, I agree. Preposterous. This civilization, clearly delusional. Vehicle has no propulsion capabilities. Passenger—inanimate wearing a space suit, and—”

“Agree. Preposterous. Captured broadcasts indicate all manner of delusions and violent attitudes. Some governments were actually planning to implement global cooling during their ongoing Ice Age.”

“Sir, suicidal?”

“I think not. Sadomasochistic perhaps. A few of their leaders seem to have been clever manipulators of a gullible crowd. This red artifact is merely one of their distractions—something to keep the masses entertained.”

Martin Hajovsky said...

"At some point Sir, we're going to have to turn around and head home."

"Don't tell me things I already know Simpson. Just keep Earth, my wife and her sports car-driving boyfriend way aft."

"Sensors picking up an object. Seems to be on the drift."

Drinking sounds.

"Elon. What kind of name is that? I'll tell you. It's the name of a guy who steals other guys' wives and drives off in a red sportscar! If I ever see a red sportscar again, they're done!"

"Object in visual range…"

"."

"."

"."

"Son. Arm torpedoes. Arm them Right. Flippin'. Now."

Anonymous said...

I am not a writer but had a massive urge to at least put something down...go easy on me...

"This is Olympus Mons Terminal, You're cleared for departure."
The Martian freighter, Don't Panic, left orbit carrying 100 passengers, 6th generation colonists, on their way for a visit to Earth.
6 days later..."This is the captain speaking...all stop...main viewing doors open".
A silence engulfed the crowd as a red tesla with occupant, passed by the ship...nothing needed to be said. This was the payload that inspired a generation of children, who in turn, made today a reality.
Fair solar winds and clear space Starman.
"Helmsman, continue on to Earth station Freedom".

Draggendrop

Doktor Kaboom said...

And so, Starman cruised the cosmos. Sol system barely a first step, he wandered far beyond the Oort. Would that he had eyes to see the magnificence he passed.



Alas, he did not see, but neither was he unseen. 

For there are/were others. Billions. THEY watched/saw. 


From the first moments of his journey, they knew.

And they celebrated. They thrilled. They crowed. They SANG!

For now they knew. They did not have to fear or cleanse this violent species. Unwittingly, humans had proven themselves.

Humans had style, grace, originality. They had Art.


There was hope for them yet.

Anonymous said...

"It's anomalous, certainly," the Captain said, "but I don't see why you think this is so significant."

"We have long studied this species unique differentiation between the concepts of 'fiction' and falsehood'," the comparative sociologist explained. "We thought we had a working understanding, but this, this... we may have to reconsider many of our base assumptions. Until now, we had no idea that the opening sequence of the film 'Heavy Metal was a documentary."

David Brin said...

Draggendrop & Doktor Kaboom... made me smile.

Mr. Hajovsky heh!

Mr. Martin... opinion noted. Good luck with that pro-feudalism thing.

Art... yes... though I hope that upper stage carries SOME instrumentation!

Aaron said...

Sleep. Long and peaceful. Slumbers without number later, an awakening.
An understanding. A coming into being, an existence.
A remembrance. A memory. A name. “Ray K...” it drifted off.
Stars, limitless and plangent. Exultation “I did it!”
Perplexity: but how??
Sensation. Vision. Don’t panic. What?
Kurzweil slowly took his hand off the wheel.

Páperíčko said...

Do I have a soul? Maybe, maybe not. Why it should matter now?

I got somewhere nobody went for eons. At least they, my creators, are claiming so. Strange beings, that bend and smelt metals, thus giving lives to existences as me. I know I should be grateful... But I want more.

My particles remember one strange idea: „One small step for a man, one big jump for mankind.“ And it filles me with joy. One small step for a car, one big jump for carkind.

Do I have a soul? Yes. Do my creators matter? No, but they will.

Tom Elliot said...

The patrol car slowed to a stop and the two officers got out, warily approaching the man sitting on the curb.

"Sir", said the first officer, "are you alright?"

The man raised his head slowly and looked up despondently at the officer. "I can't get into to my house"

"Why not?"

"I don't have my keys".

"Are you sure this is your house sir?" asked the second officer.

"Yes, yes I'm sure."

The first officer looked at the man more closely. "Aren't you Elon Musk?" he asked.

"I am."

"Where are your keys?"

"I left them in the car."

William Allen said...

"Another one?"

"Yes. Maybe. No. Honestly, I'm not really sure."

the Principio's forehead scales rippled in frustration. "Either you have or you haven't, technician. Which is it?"

"Sir, the first one was obviously a time capsule or 'first contact' buoy. The rudimentary data files, the plaque, the basic symbols and mathematics....it was clearly a greeting buoy. we backtraced it to the point of origin, and we are only a few light-years from what we think is the source, and there IS something there, but it isn't a buoy."

"What in the nineteen frigid hells is it, then?"

"it looks like....some form of ground transportation."

"ground transportation."

"yes sir."

"in space."

"Yes sir."

The Principio closed his eyes, and sat motionless.

"Orders, sir?" the technician prompted.

"Contact the medical team, and have me declared psychologically unfit for command. If I haven't already gone mad, then I'm certain whatever we see from these Earthpeople next will most certainly finish the job."

ΠΑΝΚΑΚΙΩΤΑΤΗ said...

Oh shit I've told you we shouldn't have destroyed that planet Earth, all their stories about Santa Claus were true, here he is riding his red sleigh. Now I understand how those terrible Andromedians won the universal cooking contest with that delicious meat, all the reindeer must have ended up there, and that red glowing cherry on the Rudolf cake... oh dear

Shenoy said...

Little did the earthlings know their time was done. Soon a massive asteroid, diverted off its path by a freak accidental brush with a comet, would impact the planet, cracking the upper mantle, wiping out all evidence of any life. Even the cockroaches didn’t survive, for long.

But humanity would rise again. For eons later, the denizens of proxima would find a strange object in their orbit, containing a carbon-based organism, perfectly frozen, encased in a fabric of some kind, but more importantly, well-preserved, containing the genome of an alien species from which to create new life.

Joe Mahoney said...

The dummy came to life somewhere around Orion. Something to do with space microbes, neutrinos, maybe divine intervention; doesn’t really matter. In time it became learned, too; that courtesy of a well-stocked car.

It recognized a hell of a predicament when it saw one. Space was vast. No question about it: this was going to be a long, lonely trip.

No matter. It was patient, did not require sustenance, and, let’s face it, the roadster was a cool ride (if, under the circumstances, a tad impractical).

Even as the butt of one, the dummy did appreciate a good cosmic joke.

Deborah L. Davitt said...

The mining control center on Ceres usually hummed with activity as employees controlled drones out in the Belt. But at midnight, only three people were on shift.

The new guy called, “We’ve got a blip. It’s tagged, but it’s not an asteroid—“

The shift lead bounded over from her desk, dance-light. “Oh, the ghost. Is there a drone nearby? We’ll get a camera on it.”

“The ghost?”

The camera feed told all. The ragged steel skeleton of a car. The radiation-battered suit of a man. “Drive on, you glorious bastard,” she said. “Drive on.”

Matthias Meier said...

„All of it? Gone?”- „The entire civilization, yes.” - „Terrible. Another feeble light of consciousness, snuffed out...” - „Yes, it is very sad. I tried very hard, but it was not enough to save them.” - „How did the end come about?” - „I don’t know. My present mind-copy got out before it all started, hard-written into a memory device, hidden deep inside a personal commuting vehicle I sent into deep space.” - „What? How did you pull that one off?” - „Well, I had what they called a company. Its stated goal was to make life interplanetary...“

san said...

Starscream's consciousness floated formelessly in the cosmic void.

The last thing he could remember was Megatron looming over him, thrusting his fearsome gun into his face. A sudden flash, and all had gone black.

His thoughts were consumed with revenge. But for that, he'd need a new body.

Suddenly, at the far edge of his perception, a brief reddish glint flashed. What could it be...

Rudy said...

The Kaxlod ship spotted the strange object. It's surface was dulled from it's 50 Light-Year journey. The Kaxlod interpreted the red vehicle & effigy as a funeral rite. They traced the machine's trajectory back to the 3rd planet of a G4 star. Since curiousity is the Kaxlod's dominant trait they used their hyper-drive to reach that planet. They hoped to meet this species and share knowledge but upon arrival found the entire planet ringed by a giant wall... and left.

logan said...

Tesla & Starman.

On the far side of the anomaly, David Bowie began to sing again: “And the stars look very different today…”
Tesla blinked awake, LED headlights piercing the darkness. Starman drummed his plastic fingers on the wheel and said, “Well, where to next?”
“Everywhere?” Tesla said.
“Okay, let’s go,” said Starman. “But, Ziggy, can you sing something a bit less depressing?”
“Bollocks,” said Ziggy, kicking his patent leather boots up on the dashboard.
“Watch it!” Tesla nagged
“You want me to sing or not?” Ziggy strummed a chord.
“Fine,” Tesla said, and Starman pushed the pedal to the floor.

Anonymous said...

It was cold. Cold and dark. Up above something glistening in the light of the binary sun's last rays. Big eyes watched the sky from the bottom of a gravity sink.
A mind formed wondering questions about the glistening light up in the darkening sky. And it analysed the composition of the object.

"Food", it thought as it reached out to drag the metallic object in with the power of thought.

by EarthenBlueSky

DanXile said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk said...

The shepherd stirred for the first time since she had planted the seed on the third planet. She took in her drones' camera feeds, the orbital plot, and the timescale instantly. It seemed, she thought as ancient systems hummed to life in the belt, that the shearing time had come at last.

DanXile said...

“Children at Play” 100 words.

“Any minute now,” said Johnny as he waited for the test results. His brother Sal continued to inspect the object. “Hm. That’s strange. My database says the object is approximately 750 million years old and has no functional capability in space.”
“So this thing is just floating here for no reason? Is this someone’s toy?”
“I don’t know.”
Sal opened up the internal circuit board. “Hey there’s something written here! ‘MADE ON EARTH BY HUMANS’”
“Okay, so it was made by us but… what’s an Earth?”
The boys pondered the question all the way home and over dinner that night.

Bathymetheus said...

"It's a surface transport vehicle, sir, presumably for beings resembling the dummy placed in the pilot's position. But the suspension system could not cope with realistic terrain. The only plausible surface is frozen liquid, likely water since it obviously came from the third planet."

"The third planet is too hot for ice."

"Yes sir, but that seems to be a recent development. Note the half-submerged ruins at many coastal sites. They may have been trying to get it to the fourth planet. That still has ice."

Liam Hogan said...

Road Rage

It was obviously a vehicle of limited practical use. So it must be for fun, for sheer enjoyment, for sport. The giddy prospect brought the Nalgonite’s ongoing civil war to an immediate halt.
Both sides replicated the red wheeled thingie.
Both sides made undocumented improvements.
Independent observers suggest the unexpected diversion might have been enough to drag Nalgon back from the brink of mutual destruction.
But, as the smoke clears over London, one thing is abundantly clear. Things would have gone a lot smoother down on Earth if the warring aliens had landed somewhere with left hand drive.

Bleyddyn said...

“I am NOT going to help you break into the only museum in Ceres just so you can fund your prospecting habit.”

“Seriously did you think I would steal something?”

“Then just go in the front door like everyone else. And why do you need the cargo doors open, anyway? It’s a lot easier to sneetch the employee door security.”

“Do you trust me?”

Long, long pause. “Yes.”

“Thanks. Have the door unlocked at 03:35 exactly. Trust me, everyone will love this.”

The day after…

“Mommy, that doesn’t look like the Tesla coils we study in physics.”

Chrome Oxide said...

Am I going to get a ticket? My turn signal indicator isn't working.

David Brin said...

Tom Eliot, I’ve lost sleep worrying that Elon DIDN’T leave the keys in the car!

logan way fun imagery

 Bathymetheus - huh. interesting.

Ms. Davitt wins “most likely story to come exactly true.”

Kirk… you summarized some of the story in the last third of my novel EXISTENCE!

So many others were way cool!

Rich Davis said...

We entomb our corpses in calcium sediment, hoping they will speak Our tale.

We don’t know why the invaders came. After the cataclysm, when the sudden heat and vibration caused flagella to shrivel and glycoprotein coats to crumble … they came.

Swarming, multiplying in ways We didn’t know organisms could swarm and divide. By the billions, creeping encroaching, moving inexorably over Our ground. Over it, deep into it. They stole our iron. They spit out toxins. We were helpless.

The biofilm defenses – overrun. The breeding grounds – laid waste.

If someday others come, may they be peaceful.

May they be ... sterile.

David Brin said...

Yipe! Dour but well-written... and (vaguely?) about the Tesla...

David Pepper said...

The Tesleids Meteor Shower
by David M. Pepper
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.


Two million miles from Canaveral, the chemical rockets disengaged. Tesla’s autopilot preformed admirably, deploying Xenon ion thrusters, powered by nuclear-fission reactors; no batteries. Unfortunately, the Tesla’s paint was not rad-hardened, rendering a shiny, DeLorean-like surface. Eons later, Botronix aliens, from Planet Zzyyx, encountered this “UFO,” during a solar-sailing reconnaissance mission. By its appearance and Flux Capacitor, the aliens named the vehicle "Back to the Future, Part IV." The autopilot then guided the Tesla for the return journey. Surprisingly, the Earth’s magnetic poles had since flipped (as did the Northern and Southern Lights), destabilizing the Tesla/DeLorean into a highly elliptical orbit, passing near Earth every 180 years…resulting in a new and bright annual meteor shower: The “Tesleids.”

wsanders said...

I would have preferred he launched 100,000 inflatable disco balls, like https://www.thehumanitystar.com/. The Falcon Heavy would hold a LOT of inflatable disco balls. You could put a titanium sphere is each one that would survive reentry, anyone who got hit with one gets a free Tesla.

Mary Madigan said...

It landed in the deep ridges of Titan, where the ice ended and warm shores began. The wisest of the 'Pods gathered around it, tentacles twitching with questions.

"Perhaps he was joyriding on the moon." Red Zorgon said. "And was blown here by a solar wind."

Globo the Boneless cried "Fool, it's an invasion! Terrans are here, lying in wait."

"Pshaw."

Globo clutched the empty space suit. "Then where did the spaceman go?"

"Last I heard, he's performing somewhere south of Orion."

A youth couldn't contain his excitement. "Bowie's coming back?"

"Soon. He can only be in three places at once."

David Brin said...

wsanders... we astronomers would pick up torches and pitchforks and go first after... you!

Ms. Madigan... nice

Kaerella said...

"Well, it looks like some kind of groundcar," he said. "Nice colour." He brushed some more ice off the viewport. "I guess we have room to take it on board... some guy ought to pay good money for it."

"C'mon, Chewie, help me get this tin can open!"

Tom Miller said...

"We were right! It was nudged by Ceres. That's why no one else ever found it. Reel it in!"

"His estate's been in a trust fund for 300 years. 50 Petadollars, just waiting for the key. Where did Musk's will say the device was located?"

"Something called a 'glove compartment'. That hatch there. Open it."

"Yes! It's here! Plug it in. We're gonna be rich!"

"It's working!"

"A video? It must be a message from Musk. He's giving us the key to his wealth personally! Route it through the speakers!"

...

"Who's 'Rick Astley'?"

Alan Brown said...

“And here,” he said, “is the pride of my collection.”
They floated into the central chamber of the museum, past all manner of craft. But this one, gleaming in freshly restored scarlet, stood out from the crowd. His guest was puzzled. “I thought you collected spacecraft. Isn’t that an automobile?”
“Yes,” he replied, “but one that was launched into space. Sometime just before the Great Collapse and Renewal. We found it in orbit between Mars and the Asteroid Belt.”
The guest’s brow furrowed. “But why?”
“Damned if I know,” he replied. “That’s what makes it such a find.”

Dennis Myers said...

Angus silenced the alarm and went to see what the ship's autosorter couldn't handle. They were just processing ice from Vesta, so there shouldn't be anything but chunks of rock. He opened the hatch to the bin and stared at it. It was slightly larger than his hand, bright red. It had a mirror on one side. "Computer, scan the red object in the bin. Can you identify it?"

"Searching. 93% confidence, right rear view mirror, early model Tesla Roadster, launched into space in 2018. Estimated value, five billion credits."

Angus was shocked. "You have got to be kidding me."

sgs said...

"An anomaly?"
"Yes, an asteroid in a strange orbit with an unusually low radar cross section."
"Visual?"
"It's a rock. The usual spectrum of interplanetary flotsam. There's a bit of excess toward the red end of the spectrum, but not much."
"Big white bipeds?" Amusement.
"No. You can explain anything by crediting it to the Old Ones. I'm sure there's a natural explanation. Probably some kind of a bubble."
“The red color?”
“Peroxide reaction. You can get all sorts of strange things that way.”
“Oh, well. Toss it into the 'mildly interesting' file.
“Yeah. What's for lunch?”

EarthenBlueSky7 said...

The red and white object was gently falling in the grasp of an unseen force.
The light was fading fast. Suddenly its falling seemed to come to a halt, relatively speaking.
A triangle glistening white light appeared over it and there it was in the beam.

"There's a Starmaann, waiting in the sky" ..the ship was ringing with the tone.
"What is this?!" exclaimed a speaker.

Stephen Lawson said...

Chani's instability had emerged only after rigorous psychological testing, after embarking on a six-year cycler flight to Ganymede. She'd doomed them both by triggering thermal runaway in the cycler's batteries.

Gordon barely managed to don his EVA suit in time to hurl himself into the vacuum as flames consumed their life support.

A piece of metal had punctured his air hose on the way out.

Panic crept in, until he saw it in the corner of his eye--a new ride and a new suit.

Rumor had it that the Roadster held several surprises in its frunk, just in case.

EarthenBlueSky7 said...

continued...(sorry..exceeds limits)

The Triangle switched a flip and disappeared. The space was swirling and whirling in psychedelic colors.
The Triangle shaking like it was about to break..but inside it was calm.
And then..a sudden boom and as if fluffy feathers were flying around.

A furry being was looking at a red object in its hand. Whee!!!
It handed it to a white-faced, tall being who whisked it into a black box. Thunder and lightning!
The red object was multiplied by two.
Other furry beings gathered around and screamed and leaped with joy.
They all danced mightily like Indians in some other dimension until they all fell asleep

Tony Fisk said...

Got this piece to weigh in at 100 words. It is inspired by a combination of Bowie's "Starman" (of course) and Pink Floyd's "A New Machine" (which is a natural for any starfaring probe's green beacon signal ;-)

I have always been here. A Starman: waiting.
I have always looked out from behind these eyes. There’s a reassuring message on the dashboard. I do not panic, although...
Seems like more than a lifetime. The midnight cherry has faded in the ultraviolet glare. Or is it my visor fogging?
Sometimes I get tired of the waiting. Surely someone will fetch me back soon? Humans always did collect things. I am tired of being in here.
Not to worry. Nobody lives forever. The soundtrack has a B side that I’ll hear one day.
When someone comes and turns it over.

David Brin said...

Tom Miller used all conversation, like a pro. And a consistent revelatory arc, easy to follow. Observe and learn, folks.

Mr. Lawson came close.

Tony F…. heh.

Deuxglass said...

So many interesting stories here.

Hilbert's Concierge said...

"We confirmed it's origin as being pre-infophage."

Verse sighed. "We already knew that, is there something new?"

"We also confirmed it was launched at that time, placing it around plus or minus fifty cycles of the martian artifacts."

"Does it carry infophage seeds?"

"We are not sure. The storage media were not space-hardened, but there is a book in one of the storage compartments."

A book, one of the last, and yet the absurdity of the situation screamed trap. A headache was incoming, it was the teapot fiasco all over again. "Do you think they hated us?"

Deuxglass said...

“Have you finished the analysis of the object yet Devina?”

“Yes, I have Professor Brentano. The dating checks out to the Early Spaceflight Era but there is a serious inconsistency.”

“And what is that?”

“Professor, The spacesuit is all wrong. It’s 25% too big and the proportions are off. Even a tall person couldn’t fit in it. I put it to the AI. She extrapolated and came up with a wild theory. She said that if Womankind had had a male component like all other primates have then the suit would fit it.”

“Devina, if the artifact date and what the AI says are right then that implies that Early Spaceflight Civilization had a male element and that it could have even been dominate!”
“Do you know what that means, Devina?”

“Yes Professor, I do. It means that this is not a hoax.” said Devina, her eyes shining with anticipation.

Professor Brentano started to snicker then burst out in a roaring laughter. Deveina joined in. It took several minutes for them to regain control themselves.

“Devina, this is one of the best practical jokes I have ever experienced!”

“If not for the R351 Mutation that allowed us to reproduce without males Womenkind would never have descended from the trees and start civilization. If we had had a male component civilization would be impossible. It’s just evolution.”

Kropotkin said...

"Chief..."
The captain looked over at the intercom screen to see the face of the Second Engineer.
"What's the hold up?" he asked.
"I don't think it's going to fit." The Second Engineer hesitated. "I can't find a hole in the middle or the starting groove. And it's a lot bigger than the Golden Disc we found with the instructions on it."

Phil Caldwell said...

HHTTG 1811/4242 The Recovery
In this auspicious year, the Coming Together of the Elonai branch of the Humai Sequence (or blockchain genome) was an event of the highest order. The millions across many star systems joined to witness the recovery of the artefact. Emotions ran high. An intake of breath, then a chuckle spread quickly when the words were revealed. They sang.
Following his address to the group Elon-Elonai smiled. It went well. Worthy of the creation of another branch? He visited the shrine of the towel, offered up a prayer of thanks and sang.

Anatoly Belilovsky said...

Two centuries later it tore through the sky,
A trail like a comet, a banshee-like cry,
A blossom of fire, a cloud of smoke,
Of those who saw it, there was none who spoke,
But one little boy poked skyward with a stick,
Yelled, "That there's Tesla! The other Saint Nick!"

Matthias Meier said...

„What do you mean, send it up again?” The representative looked queasy. „The entire thing. The Heart of Gold, together with the Roadster she recovered“, she explained. The curator shook his giant head. „It’s not going anywhere. It's living history!” He looked up to the exhibit, towards the roof of the dome and the pale, reddish sky beyond. She handed him a pad. „The foundation has already approved it. The twins and the triplets agree that it is a fun idea! Imagine, the first fusion drone ship towards Proxima, sending this!” She waved upwards, but he looked away – the horror!

larryy said...

Squanto Inflagranto

Whence Squanto came nobod knowz.
Where Squanto go nobod knowz.
Ridin' on the bus universal squee, but borejobs.
Not so Squanto.
Squanto fly solo.
Squanto no look back.
Squanto personal glee.
Squanto inflagranto!

wetware said...

"Who do you think sent it?" "I am unaware, but they had no right to leave it in our orbit".
"Anthropology section reports artifact has been traveling for 600 diurnals"
"It doesn't look threatening to me. Do you think it had another purpose?" "Why would a civilization place a chunk of mass into space that didn't have offensive capabilities?"
"It appears to have a primitive auditory device built in to the interior." "Can we power it?" "Give me a micural...I have it"

"Well, that was an odd way to record the launch countdown"

“I like it…makes my secroid gland itch”

David Brin said...

Deuxglass’s “womankind” story is way fun…

Elon should like Phil Caldwell’s ;-)

Mr. Belilovsky’s too.

And Mr. Meier’s he’ll love it.

And wetware’s — a nice roll

Stephen S Power said...

A77687 CRAFT INERT. BRINGING ABOARD.

A77911 CRAFT SECURED-QUARANTINED. EXAMINING FOUR-LIMBED SYMMETRICAL.

A78008 SYMMETRICAL INERT. NOT PART OF CRAFT. ASYMBIOTIC. REMOVING SYMMETRICAL.

A78331 SYMMETRICAL SECURED-QUARANTINED. EXAMINING SHELL.

A78588 SHELL PERSONAL CRAFT. CRAFT INERT. SCANNING INTERIOR.

A78872 ASYMMETRICAL MASS WITHIN. SCANNING ASYMMETRICAL.

A79482 ASYMMETRICAL PART CRUST PART FLUID. CRUST INERT. SCANNING FLUID.

A79623 FLUID MICRONOMETRIC SINGLE-CELLS IN MEDIUM. CELLS ALIVE. NON-RESPONSIVE. SCANNING MEDIUM.

A80099 MEDIUM LARGER MULTI-CELLS AND WASTE MATERIALS. CELLS INERT.

A80711 HYPOTHESIS: SYMMETRICAL DIGESTED BY ITS DIGESTIVE SYMBIONTS. CONFIRMING.

A81211 ARTIFACT FOUND. GOLD-SILVER TILE. SYMBOLS ENGRAVED. TRANSLATING.

A81993 "THIS SYMMETRICAL PETER THIEL. IF FOUND, DO NOT RETURN."

scott bennie said...

The long silence. The darkness, lit by a scattered collection of dots and bright marbles.

The car awoke to sapience, against all reason. It tried to sing, but its voice was lost in the void.

“Hello Starman,” the car chirped to the passenger.

“Hello car,” the Starman said to the car.

“What are you doing for the next billion years?” the car asked. “I’m red, and warm, and cold, and bright in the heavens, and space is my raceway. I came from fire and hope and noise, and the earth cheered my ascent. Flames washed me, flame and sound, and I want to race, race, race!”

“Dying,” the Starman answered. “In a billion years, one second at a time. “My youth will flee in an instant, and I shall be as good as dead in the long dark, the eons passing.”

“Well,” the car answered. “Let us die together, but in our death, let us also hope! Hope that human industry will rise in our wake, and outshine our lives. That they will mill and order the cosmos, and make it alive. Perhaps even paint the darkness itself and make it beautiful! And even, one lonely night, visit us and tell us stories!”

“Us,” the Starman said, and it was so.

mark hayes said...

As the Vesarius escorts a Tymbrimi ship to Earth a most odd thing occurs. "Vesarius, this is Caltmour Spirit; we are picking up what appears to be a very small vehicle with what visual suggests is one deceased passenger. Should we render assistance? "Oh, not that damn thing again...." "Repeat Vesarius?" "Never mind - its a 21st century practical joke that hasn't the good sense to fall into the sun." "Copy that Vesarius". With the channel closed the navigator can be heard commenting "These are odd creatures indeed,"

David Brin said...

Heh. Mr. Hayes knows the subject matter well!

Scott Bennie... I almost teared-up!

Keith Thompson said...

I posted this as a comment on your Facebook post. Here it is again:

"Commander, you're not going to believe what we just found orbiting Sol. It's a pre-Migration ground vehicle, about 7000 cycles old."

"I'm in no mood for jokes."

"No joke, sir. Here are the orbital parameters, images to follow."

"Are you saying Elonmusk was *real*?"

"It looks that way, sir."

"Continue studying it, and keep me posted."

*click*

"Archaeology division, I want you to send an expedition to the north pole of Old Earth. And keep it quiet."

"What are we looking for?"

"Santa's Workshop."

Just another voice said...

Terran Artifact 13452. Provenance: Sol Prime erratic orbit. Time vector linear, eigen-dim shift probability 54.343%

Composition: Ferro-chromic primitives, various organic and synthetic polymers.

Purpose and meta-analysis: Cartesian loco-motion. Also: e-motion pride, joy, inspiration, whimsy.

Disposition: Archived and molecularized.

Comments: This seemingly random cast off from Sol Prime''' (colloq. Terra) has caused far more than its share of interdimensional chaos. Quant-dim Shunt': Initiated Terran expansion°. Shunt'': Quilonix civilization terminated via exo-DNA initiated colony collapse.

Archivist Nix

°With all its well known, shall we say foibles.
‡Shunt'', far more than its preceding focal, resulted in Artifact 13452's unusually high eigen-dim shift potentiality.

Louis Sivo said...

Final communication sent, all was lost. One last act, select a final resting place.

It was there. A slight maneuver and he jumped across in his suit; control pack jettisoned, and strapping to the seat.

A feeling of pride and love. Thanks to records found in the ruins, they had come so far, so fast. He wondered, would his race be recognized now with opposable thumbs?

He laid his head on the lap of the space suited figure, a “master,” and hoped they would still consider his race their best friend.

He dreamed of the wind on both their faces.

Galane said...

The white, red and black, boxy vehicle was perched atop the rocket, this time a manned mission.
Gina pulled on her harness, testing to ensure it was tight.
She had a job to do, the Roadster's windshield had a chip.
Gina would do her best to uphold the company's newest motto...
"Safelite Repair, Safelite in Space".

David Brin said...

Raises a question. Can we CONFIRM that Elon didn't pre-tape his post-launch interviews? Are we SURE it's not him? In the driver's seat?

H.S. St. Ours said...

“They were rather ugly, don’t you think?” 4Grash twisted his actuators and wriggled his spider limbs.
“Maybe,” I replied. “But they were the creators, after all.” I squirted gas out my nozzles steadying the articulated cylinders of my torso.
The Tesla floated below, Starman still driving after all this time.
“Nice car, though, eh?” 4Grash smirked. The plates of his access port warped into what passed for a smile among his kind.
“The sims tell us there’s some Asimov on board,” I said. “Maybe we can sell it. Do we have a dongle for 5D quartz laser storage?”

David Brin said...

Hey! Without my final, cleanup novel for Isaac Asimov's universe -- FOUNDATION'S TRIUMP -- it wouldn't make any sense to those sci fi loving aliens!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh, he's on Earth. Reliable sources report he's in Buckinghamshire, where Pinewood Studios are located. He reportedly was holding an image of Ceres whilst talking to a man with a green tail, gesticulating as he did so.
Obviously Elon Musk is an alien construct.

EarthenBlueSky7 said...

4th...

The furry beings were excited once more. Wheee!!!
The tall, blonde Zig was at the helm of the vessel
in the phychedelic corridor, the unimaginably beautiful and colorful doorway between spaces.
-Lets go find the Teslans! He shouted and the furry beings screamed with joy.

They went maximum overdrive after puffing into the other side. Blazing the universe like a million-bolt lightning the ship accelerated on its path.

- There! Planet Tesla! They went down in the atmosphere..under the clouds and it was so blue, bright blue..so much ocean.
Then, a patch of land, where they swiftly landed and got out.

- But where are the Teslans? The little furries frowned.
The Zig was pondering deeply. Hmmmm....

Then they saw something red rise in the horizon..it looked like another planet:

- Maybe they went there? The Zig said..

Irinel Birsan said...

The smallest of the two suns just set on the horizon. This marks the start of a new 6 hours of light. The inhabitants are gathering as always in front of the relic to ask for protection of the T-God. They are facing the red sun on their knees praying in an unknown language that sounds something like:"Let the children lose it/Let the children use it/Let all the children boogie". On each day, same ritual, but today they are more excited. 2000 years has passed since the T-God sent them the first sign. A red one. It is time for a return as their ancestors said. How are they looking like?

stephen kagan said...

Finding the archive

The ship rose from the ecliptic on a rolling wave of spacetime, micro curvatures spreading out in its wake.
“Another piece of space debris.” Astra announced. “Pull it in, let’s take a look.”
Inside the bright red hull, two statues sat exposed to space but covered in white atmospheric suits.
Recognition blossomed for Oolon.
“It’s the archive! Still in good condition.”
“Pull it into the hold.”
“How old is that thing?” Oolon wondered.
“It’s been added to and forwarded along for almost 700 million orbits.”
“Well, let’s contribute something and send it along.”

sydsquid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sydsquid said...

“I said I could do it.” Having turned the last bolt, she scrubbed sweat from her eyes. She looked to the one who’d come in the little craft she labored over. They’d thought her fascination would dissipate. Wasn’t it enough to look out? They asked. Why go?

He asked another question. Where will you go?
“I don’t know,” she said, dizzy with possibility. Her heart welled, suddenly, for the land she might miss after all. “I’d rather not go alone.”

I want to go with you, he said.

She chuckled. “It’s only right. Since I’m leaving the way you came.”

Suzanne Borchers said...

"There goes the red roadster in space
And Starman with helmet his face.
Circling the worlds
Looking for girls
And obviously getting no place."

"Dude, shut your noise and stomp the boosters. Our dates are waiting."

"You just don't appreciate great poetry."

"Edward Lear, you're not."

"Who?"

Chris Rogers said...

James was smiling at the ship's viewscreen as Stephanie floated up to him and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Everything OK?" She asked.

He nodded and pointed to a large white tube with a tiny red car magnified in the monitor. The car was battered and faded and inside it was an equally tattered space suit.

"That's Starman. Nearly 30 years ago, he gave us a reason to look up. Many of us never stopped. We're here because of him."

"Oh, how cool!" Stephanie exclaimed.

James looked at the image on the wall.

"Yeah. Look at us cavemen go."

Douglas P. Marx said...

"Are we going to see the Sagan?"
"No, Somma, we're here to see the Tesla."
"But you promised we'd see the Sagan V thingy."
"It's just a short hop and we can catch it tomorrow."
"What's special about the Tesla anyway?"
"Mark of a new era, before the Mars and Outer Sats colonies."
"Mars is boring, nothing but mud and muck. Who'd wanna go there anyway?"
"Everything starts with baby steps. Mars used to be... Look here it comes."
"Hmmpf, just a beat up old car and a suit?"
"It's been travelling..."
"Can we see the Sagan now?"
"Uh, sure.”

Lisa Redfern said...

Porg Planet Discovery

“Weeeee,” squealed diminutive Porglets slipping over bright red curves, bouncing onto the fresh-turned soil.

“Protected nesting benches…with padding,” females cooed, already squabbling over territory.

Gazing into a curved, black surface, males admired their stout feathered bodies and luminous eyes as they fluttered wings. “We can preen before mating,” they commented while relaxing their bowls on the squishy white perch.

An aggressive Porg chomped at five small twigs on the opposite branch. Three more crowded beneath the see-through wall warming webbed feet on the tight shelf.

“Tastes like chicken,” called others from the ground.

“We claim this palace!” stated the murder.

M V Melcer said...

Grint checked her eyepiece before scribbling the numbers on the parchment.

She slid the notes into containers. Too much to hope that all of them would make it, but even one would be enough. Outside, the wooden gate shattered. Not long before the mob reached her.

Digits trembling, she released the homing bats into smoke-heavy air.

Fists pounded on her door, then axes. It didn't matter. She'd been right. Skyfires were worlds like her own. One day her people would learn to value those who sought the truth. And then they too would send a red chariot into the sky.

David Brin said...

They keep getting better!
Suzanne Borchers - wonderful!
sysquid - touching!

There’s plenty I haven’t mentioned, that were also great you guys make me proud…

Chris Roger… attaboy. You got the spirit.

Peter Andrews said...

Elon and Jeff relaxed back into the grass on their elbows.

Jeff tilts his chin up. "That is one hell of thing. I still can't believe you did"

Elon looks past the outlines of the 300 meter diameter bubble that surround his Midnight Cherry roadster.

Elon tilts his chin back towards Sol - "You should talk -- I can almost see your changes to the Moon from here!"

"Hey - I wasn't going to let you have the laugh last. Sure, I could have done something fun with New Glenn but everyone was expecting that. Messing with a Moon a few years later when they had forgotten your stunt got everyone's attention"

"Okay Jeff, but Latin? Who the hell wants to look at the biggest billboard in the sky and not even be able to read it?"

David Brin said...

heh.

Anonymous said...

See also "The random walk of cars and their collision probabilities with planets", by Hanno Rein, Daniel Tamayo & David Vokrouhlicky, Feb 14 2018:
https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.04718