UnBooks:The Second Conquest of the Moon
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Published January, 2038 by UnRandom House (New York, London, Kingston), all rights reserved.
Dedicated, with love, to Miss Baker.
Every schoolchild knows that man went to the moon in the late-1960s and early 1970s. Twelve of their ancestors walked upon its surface, picked up rocks, set up American flags, rode around in fully-loaded dune buggies, hit golf balls, and posed for thousands of glossy photographs. The moon was man's oyster for a few years, and then in 1972 it was left alone to rot in the sun. As the twelve Apollo astronauts who'd visited it (and got it all over their clothes) passed away one by one - except in that case of two by two known as the "Tom Hanks Incident" - they became icons, then legends, then historical action figures. The nickname "Buzz" took on some kind of sexual connotation, Apollo is a famous Scandainavian ska-rapper, and Tranquility Base became a trendy Paris night spot. Man had gloriously conqured the moon, and then gave it back.
Chapter One: "We choose to go back to the moon in this decade and do the other things."
Lars and Selene never knew if they had a good thing going or not. You ever meet a couple who thought they had it all - success, good looks, and a nice art collection - and yet hated each other without knowing it? That was Lars and Selene. And now Selene had to get that rat low-life germ motherfucker out of the fuckin' house before she fucking killed him. Moth-er Fuck-er, what in the nasal passage of Oprah's well-heeled ghost did he think he was doing? Fucking her sister! No, he did not. He mother-fuckin fucked her sister!? Moth-er fuck-er.
But Selene knew from studying Wilhelm Reich that when the body's chemistry is given this volume of a jolt, like when you're so god-damned angry you want somebody dead right now, or when you're so deep in grief - like when your dad walked out and ain't that a mudderfucker! - or even when you fall in love at first sight, that enough energy is freed up for you to grab hold of and aim it straight and deep into your emotional baggage. You can then dig around in the trauma and muscle tensions, and when you get enough of a handle on any of the stuff to shift it into overdrive the best idea is to take that freed-up energy and use it for something constructive.
So Selene, knowing Reich and walking fast, the whole time all "Mother fucker Lars slept with my bitch-ass thunder thighed mother-fucking sister? Girl that lay down with every Tom, Dick, and Swami and he inside lickin' at her? OH NO HE DID NOT!" she walked and screamed at the people passing on the crowded sidewalks. She looked and sounded like any abnormal New Yorker, but hyped-up about tenfold. Selene kept marching her "bony 'thank-you-very-much' ass" right across town, walked maybe five miles in her bare feet, and got stares and odd looks the whole way, even from normally jaded residents of the oddly-named "Big Apple". Selene gave some of them the finger, and glared at others like they'd just punched out her mother. Walking faster, she put it into overdrive, stopped for a pretzel - "gotta keep up the carbs" - walked another mile and a half, shoved her way past four surpised guards, marched right down the hall while shoving another guard and upending a potted plant, burst through the doors of the General Assembly of the United Nations and yelled "You mother-fuckers ever going back to the moon or what????"
Jacques LaTree, the ambassador of France to the United Nations and co-chair of the "United Nations Committee on Science, Space Exploration, and Refreshments", was bored out of his skull and half-listening to some Afghani going on and on about his countrymen not having enough clean drinking water. Right about where the "live grenades floating in dirty rivers" card was being played, LaTree was doodling arrows and circles and a pole-vaulting bunny on his fancy-pants United Nations notepad. Suddenly everyone heard a loud cry of righteous anger echo throughout the hall. LaTree turned around, quick as a spark, and saw a short barefoot 300-pound Mexican woman with her hands on her hips and a desert snake tattooed on her exposed shoulder rear her head back and yell with all her might and at the top of her voice "What in the ho-ly godforsaken fuck are you waiting for? You know all the guys that walked on the moon have been dead for ten motherfucking years now. I want some more of them! Lots more! 'We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things my sweet rosy red ass'. Now you suits get me some more moon men or I swear, I'm coming back here!!"
With that Selene turned and marched out the way she'd come in, screaming for the goons to let the-fuck-go of her arm or "I swear on goddess' left-tit I'm gonna make it so no more baby juice ever finds its way out of that scrawny dick you're carrying around you mother-fucking scumbag." And LaTree, still staring at the air where the crazy lady had been, in a spontaneous move that he was barely aware of, stood up and applauded.
The applause grew. First the ambassadors of Japan, the Netherlands, and Jamaica immediately stood and joined LaTree. Then the entire eastern European block stood as one, and started cheering in some slavic tongue. This caused the Russian ambassador to get all bug-eyed and angry, 'Nyet nyet, try you show me up?', and he stood and attempted to clap and yell the loudest even though he hadn't understood one word the lady said. This irritated China and India, who looked at each other and rose as one, which got the mideast's panties in a bunch, and so on down to the Phoenix Islands and Vatican City. And by the time Canada and Australia gave into the emotion of the moment, the United States, Israel, and Great Britain were already cursing their dumb luck and empty pocketbooks and politely got up to unenthusiastically add to the subdued applause coming from the nations making up the Security Council and the massive overwhelming support from everyone else. By then Haiti was dancing most of all, circling round and round the Jamaican ambassador who was standing on top his desk singing to the tune of "Redemption Song" "We choose to go....we choose to go right now.....we choose to go... we choose to go right now... We choose to go to the moon in this dec-ade, and do ... do do do...and do the other things....do the other things...the other things". Before he got to the second verse the U.N.'s interpreters were in a frenzy trying to keep up with the song while simutaneously translating the enthusiastic statements of support shouted out by the world's ambassadors.
Within thirty seconds everybody in the room knew that they'd been forced to choose to go back to the moon in this decade and to do the other things. And, like always, that the United States, Great Britain, and Israel would pay 90% of it.
Preparations to re-conquer the moon...
...took about a week. The internet tech boys and nerdy spaceship start-ups had been uploading, programming, and perfecting the science for decades. Any ten-year old boy with a laptop could get you to the moon. Applying available tech and hardware to the moon mission didn't even require taking a ship out of mothballs - the newly named "Selene" was fueled and ready to go just as the real Selene got home from her walk to kick both her husband and her no-good nasty-ass sister down the stairs. Selene threw his guitars and her goldfish out the third-story window, "mother-fuckers no they did not!" And just around the time the goldfish was rescued by a neighbor and Debbie's husband and her 400-pound "I'm big-boned" sister limped to his car, the United Nations officially agreed to fund a trip to the moon in this decade and to do the other things.
The U.S. asked for and was given the right to name and staff the mission's governing body - the World Astronomical Society Americana (WASA) - and to pick its first executive director (the best avilable candidate seemed to be the vice president's brother). But by the time those patronage creeps got around to opening up an office and having a meeting, the mission was up and running and would launch on Thursday.
"That's another small step for man...
Thursday came, and the good ship "Selene" took off without a hitch. By that time every meter of its trajectory, its travel speed, and the solid fuel pound pressure per tube-cube had been so mapped out that they'd been available online and on Wii well before the last living moon walker died in 2027.
Thanks to the Chet Krynski Fusion Drive, a low-tech cold fusion unit designed by a high school junior in Nebraska for a 4-H ribbon and a kiss from the prom queen, the ship reached the moon in just over five hours. And since everything was run by computer, the Earthnauts - Nikola from the Ukraine, Juanita from Peru, and a dog and a monkey - had literally nothing to do for the entire voyage but look out the window and learn to pee in zero gravity.
So at Nikola's playful urging they decided to have themselves a rollicking good time. He'd snuck lots of vodka on board, and he and Juanita got totally plastered. They drank, and then they played drinking games and tried to outdrink each other. In the process they shut off the communications to earth on a double-dare from Nikola, tried to take photographs of each other even though Juanita and the monkey kept floating away and giggling, and, because of Nikola's zero-gravity dancing, spilled almost as much as they drank. The "Selene" carried the bodies of two of the orignal moon-walkers whose wills stipulated that they should be planted on the moon for tourists to point at. By the time Juanita tried to get the mummified corpses to take "just one more itty-bitty little sip" the inside of the cabin looked and smelled like the men's bathroom of an east-end pub.
Also on board "Selene" were several dozen experiments designed by moon conspiracy theorists, some earth rocks that Nikola wanted to scatter around the lunar landscape as a joke (like his cousin, the Secretary General of the UN, Nikola always enjoyed a good prank), and a four-foot tall silver sculpture of an insect because it had won some sort of on-line contest and there was no way to back out of it.
The dog and monkey went along in honor the first animals in space, which were actually fruit flies and mice and a few of those were on board too. Just to confuse the historians, mission control gave the German shepard-wolf mix and the chimp wannabe the same names as the originals: Laika the Russian dog and Gordo, the American monkey. The dog kept barking at nothing for the entire trip, and when Nikola tried to stare it into submission the dog bit him and the monkey hooted and hollered and pulled everybody's hair. Somewhere near the moon Gordo let the mice out of their cage, chased them in mid-air, and threw them at Nikola. It was a hell of a mess, but the vodka did wonders for the atmosphere in the place, and soon they arrived.
The touchdown on the moons surface was witnessed by only the dog. When the computer brought "Selene" gently down, Laika went around nudging the armpits. Gordo was the first to awaken, rub his eyes, and realize they'd landed. His chriping woke the others. They decided to turn the radio and cameras back on, said "Hello Kingston, we have no problem" and started drinking again - but this time on air. By the time Nikola and Juanita got around to getting into their spacesuits and opening their outer hatch, the dog and monkey had alreadly jumped out of their hatch and were running all over the moon. Nikola got to the surface, vaguely remembered he was supposed to say something, and stuck his face right into the camera. "Yeah, alright," he drooled. "Yeah, can you hear me? Well, that's another small step for man, another giant drink, I mean, ah jeez did I say drink, another giant leap for mankind".
In the background Juanita was rolling in the dust with the dog and monkey, laughing and tossing Gordo into the air to test the one-sixth gravity. Nikola ran up and threw a moon rock at the dog, which missed by a lot. They played hide and seek, tag, jump rope, and set up an improvised hop-skotch grid. Everyone was loving every minute of it.
"To the moon, Alice"
All of this time Kingston ground control was screaming in their ears, telling them to "pick it up", to "get back on schedule". "Selene's" computer, nicknamed Alice, would automatically blast off from the lunar surface in about four hours. Since nobody thought this mission would accomplish anything the twelve Apollo astronauts hadn't, the earth had all the moon rocks it'd ever need, and every inch of the satellite had been photographed and chemically analyzed by generations of circling orbiters, they weren't scheduled to be there long. The only reason they were anywhere near the moon in the first place was because of that crazy New York woman. So the missions director, the U.S vice president's kid brother, still royally pissed that they'd set up the entire mission before he'd even put on his shoes, gave them six hours and out. They were scheduled to do hardly anything on the moon. Yet because of all the goofing around, they actually had to play catch up.
First, they hauled out the experiments demanded by the moon-landing deniers. Numbering in the millions, these people had elected public officials in some important undeveloped nations, enjoyed the backing of all the powerful anti-Mensa societies, and even had the endorsements of some of the illiterate holographic-vid stars. So the earthnauts knew they had to waste their time on a fool's errand (although secretly both of them thought that man had never been to the moon).
The jolly moon-walkers, as earth was now calling Nikola, Juanita, the dog and the monkey, started tossing plastic bags, ping-pong balls, paper airplanes, and plastic, metal, and slime-goo frisbees way up into the air and across the landscape. The dog, chasing the frisbees, jumped into the air as high as 20 feet, and sometimes had enough time to lick his spacesuited balls before he'd have to go fetch.
Nikola beamed all of this back to earth via holotube. When the dog and monkey started wrestling over the frisbees, Junaita and Nikola broke away and carefully set up the world famous "pendulum experiment" designed by the esteemed Mr. Professor N of Oxford University. In this test, 300 pendulums, wind-chimes, origami swans, and assorted bobbleheads would be swung in 1/6 gravity. This test was being replicated and conducted on earth at the same moment, in full gravity and within a total vaccum. The pendulums, wind-chimes, origami, and bobbleheads came in varied and interesting sizes, weights, fabrics and materials, and were strung along clotheslines firmly anchored in the ground. When everything was hung properly the monkey went from one end to the other and electronically set the junk in motion with nanobot-driven swing speed technology.
After three boring minutes of watching the things moving back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and not slowing down at all, Nikola excused himself and staggered back to the ship to take another sip of Russia's finest.
Antikythera mechanism. That's the first thing that came to Juanita's mind when she looked back after falling helmet over heels into the moon dust. This occurred after she had to finish up the doubters-experiments by herself after that country bumpkin Nikola went back to the ship, and spent the remaining two hours exploring several shallow craters within walking distance of the ship. Nikola, who was supposed to explore these godforsaken holes with her, was sleeping it off.
Juanita hurried her way through two of them. Same old same old, dust, rocks, and boulders. She picked up a yellow rock as a gift for her mother, kicked dust into the air like she used to do in the barrio, and did a backflip to win a bet with the ship's owner, her boyfriend Phil. She finally climbed down the slope of one last crater, named Pan in honor of some wayward god of nature, forests, erotica and fertility, and stepped onto its dusty floor. Before taking three strides from the wall she suddenly was helmet over ass and disorienated, having tripped on something just under the lunar dust. Upended and dizzy, she was mad at the world. The somersault and fall would have blown her knee all to hell if she wasn't six-sheets-to-the-wind and in 1/6th gravity. Juanita jumped up like a marionette, like they do in the old moon footage, spun around to face the rock that tried to take her life, and damn if there wasn't right there, sticking out of the dust and all shiny, this little machine.
It was unmistakable, and it was remarkable. The gear box lay exposed, and a few very human looking dials combined with this undescribable quantum field full of alien doohickeys, whatchamacallits and whatnots that were not always where they were a moment ago. In the middle of this machine, a contraption she could only imagine had been seen before by people on either ayahuasca or quinoa, "arms" (for lack of a better word) reached into a wavy space that looked a little like one of J-Ra's new vids equipped with time-tremble app. That was her first thought. But overlayed on it was her knowledge of the antikythere mechanism.
The antikythera mechanism is a fully modern-looking gear driven analog computer that tracked the orbits of the planets. It was found off the coast of Greece in a shipwreck almost two-thousand years old. Dated to the "first century" A.D., when the machine - and if there was one of these things still in existence then there were lots of them back then - was put back together it looked like it could be cleaned up and repaired into operating condition. Now here, in the dust of the moon, was something which made the antikythera mechanism look like an antique jack-in-the-box.
Juanita dug it out slowly, and whenever she moved her hand into the quantum soup to get a grip it gave a better grip and she felt things pulling on her gloves while hearing little giggles. When someone gave her a tickle on her palm, both her skin and the glove crawled. "Mother Mary, Our Lady, pray for this sinner," Juanita implored her goddess, asking for the strength to get this machine safely out of the lunar soil and back to earth. Suddenly, as if Mother Mary herself answered her prayers like an omnipresent OnStar representative, the machine moved, shifted, and popped into her arms. In doing so the wavy field momentarily passed over her face and she saw, just for an instant, little men creating objects out of something not-quite light, more like music, sounds, and wishes, and offering them to her. She stifled a scream, shifted the tiny machine in her arms, and climbed out of the crater.
Before long Juanita was in heaven. Her place in the history books would no longer be alongside a drunken Ukranian, a dog, and a monkey. She would be honored as the premier explorer of the space age, and could open a chain of businesses like she always wanted to do. Soon she saw, off in the distance, that intoxicated moron Nikola prancing around with the stupid monkey, both of them kicking up dust and slapping their knees. That's when she realized that she and she alone had fulfilled the prophecy given by the Brookings Report on the Implications that the Discovery of Alien Life will have on Human Affairs:
|4. "Though intelligent or semi-intelligent life conceivably exists elsewhere in our solar system, if intelligent extraterrestrial life is discovered... Evidences of its existence might also be found in artifacts left on the moon or other planets."|
With fifteen minutes to spare Juanita walked up to the ship. Laika jumped at her, wheeeeee good doggie, grabbed the machine from her arms with his spacesuit's mouth - fetch the frisbee, good baby! - and ran. As Laika's spacesuit tail wagged back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in the 1/6th gravity, the mut raced round a hill and was seen no more. Juanita cursed the day her saintly mother gave birth to her. She lay down on the ground right then and there and just wanted to go to sleep. But when she realized that the dog wasn't coming back, she pushed herself up and made herself climb into the spaceship.
With two minutes to go before liftoff, Laika happily bounded up the stairs, a moon rock in his mouth and his tail wagging a mile a minute. Juanita didn't want to let him in, and Nikola was out cold. But Gordo opened the door, helped Laika off with his spacesuit, hung it up, and watched the dog run over to Juanita and Nikola to smell their breath, trot over to a corner, lick his balls, and open its mouth like dogs do when they look like they're smiling.
The "Selene" took off on schedule. The primates all stayed royally drunk during the short return trip, and when the parachutes splashed them safely into the windswept Atlantic ocean its waves swung the capsule back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, just like a bobblehead in 1/6th gravity.
The dog was the only one awake to feel it.
Afterword to this 2138 edition
Many say this UnBook "restarted the space age". Others credit Selene and the U.N. ambassadors for doing that. But the monkey got the lion's share of the credit.
They'd all contributed in their own way. But when the human race conquered and colonized Mars and Titan, steered away from Europa, and camped out for a month on the rings of Saturn, much of its "get up and go" attitude and fate in the technology to get the job done came from this volume, which unveiled the insider details of the voyage of the "Selene" for the first time. Most of the top-secrets revealed in the book were obtained during a series of interviews done, in accordance to contract, while the particpants were sober.
When the book came out it was an overnight sensation. The general public had been kept out of the mission's loop, and was largely unaware of its details. Most people only knew that the earthnauts had played tag, frisbee, and threw plastic bags around on the moon. Unknown to the earthnauts, the live six-sense neuron surround-touch moon cam that Nikola was operating came with a hidden 14-second delay, so during most of the trip the viewing public was told there were "glaring problems" in the video feed. The best guess was that one of the animals had knocked something loose up there. When the UnBook exposed the truth, it won both the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Journalism and the Liquor Industries esteemed "MD 20-20" Award for Best Unintentional Promotion.
The lives of the Earthnauts and Selene
After the ticker tape parades, in which Selene, Lars, and Gordo starred, the two human earthnauts and the monkey went their separate ways.
Nikola somehow lived for another 25 years, liver the size of a wombat and thirsty for the taste of the potato when he awoke in the morning. He sometimes toured with a circus.
Gordo became the spokesmonkey for hundreds of products, tech corporations, and erotic-based websites. Gordo-owned companies blossomed under the management of Debbie's new husband, and most of the equipment used on the Mars, Saturn, and Titan missions and their inhabited colonies was invented, produced, and sold by Gordo Industries. Sadly, Gordo - the acknowledged star of the moon mission - lived for only three years after his return. While pouring massive amounts of alcohol into two young ladies one evening, Gordo played one drinking game too many and met his maker.
Juanita never got it together, and bounced from job to job and city to city. She made most of her money from selling autographs and memorabilia, and there were never a lack of well-to-do collectors who didn't mind spending a night with a moon walker. Juanita achieved her personal dream when she opened several coffeehouses in Amsterdam. Yet when it turned out that all she was going to serve was vodka, they failed within a month. Juanita, devastated once again, was found dead of hypertemia in the backyard of a house near her favorite bar. It was a comfortable 84 degress that night, so lots of barflys joined "that moon lady" in what they thought was an outdoor sleepover. They didn't realize that Juanita - as drunk as a human being had ever gotten in recorded history - was freezing to death right next to them.
Laika lived for another seventy-five years, flew on the first Mars mission, and was one of the camper animals living on the rings of Saturn for a month. He was secretly the brains behind Godro Industries, and invented most of the new tech and computer progams used to "power" spacetrips across the solar system in less time than it used to take a commercial airline to fly from New York to Canberra (with the routine unscheduled layover in Kingston). While on the moon, Laika had stuck his head into the quantum-wave dialoguer of the (roughly-translated) "Galatic Gladiator 8" inner-connection machine from the Sirius system. Unlike Juanita, he kept his head in there, and was in the presence of the tiny people for maybe seven minutes. He accepted all of the gifts they gave him, and, because he got smarter during this process, around the fourth minute he was directing them what to make with their sound-ovals and crystaline jelly holographic units. After hearing Laika's descriptions of new devices and mental capacities, the amazed little beings added a few twists of their own before uploading the gifts into Laika's nervous system. They said he was a good baby, a good doggie. In the years to come only six people knew that Laika could converse fluently in 25 Earth languages and seven Siriusian dialects - which Laika thought would be adequate. Of these four confidantes, two were family friends who secretly managed his affairs, patents, and transcripts. Three others - a four-time Nobel Prize winning theoretical scientist, a post-multigraphene-based computer programmer/artist/datajourneyman, and an East Indian chef - were paid millions of dollars a month for working with Laika and for their silence. Laika passed away 78 years after he and the crew landed in the ocean - dying while apparantly still young, like that mouse in "The Green Mile" - when there came that inevitable day that he finally fell off the wagon. On a whim, a double-dare, sexually based peer pressure and product availability, Laika had his first drink of vodka since the old days. The drink aged him overnight, and he was gone in the morning.
Yes, Selene quickly divorced her motherfucking first husband, that motherfucker Lars. She and her sister eventually made up, but not until long after Selene and her second husband, Jacques LaTree - the former French ambassador to the United Nations, honorary Commodore of WASA's Space Program, Chairman and C.E.O. of Gordo Industries, and the author of the above UnBook - had Sophia, their first of four children. Sophia, a teetoltaler like her parents, grew up to command the first Mars mission and was a crew member on the Saturn ring campover. Sophia and her parents were the other people who knew Laika could talk, and the things they all did together for the peaceful advancement of humanity, the quantum-leap tri-sentient bi-annual higgs-driven innovations in hyper-data cognitive communications, and in the development and scope of multi-field practical and post-practical scientific explorations, you would not believe! Good baby, good doggie!