All this fuss over The Martian…

The-Martian… and the world has forgotten a similarly (completely different) novel that is totally scientifically accurate (if there were sparrows on Mars or time-travelling assassins) set on the Red Planet. While Andy Weir’s excellent book and Ridley Scott’s excellent movie are being read and watched by millions, the plight of the Paranoid Androids in their fight for justice goes cruelly unignored. After all, this book has lesbian vampire robot prostitutes from space! Need I say more? Apparently. There’s also a creepy subplot that may or may not have definitely been inspired by stories about Michael Jackson (some parts could use an update). But mostly it’s about a couple of pop stars fighting for justice, as they do. Here’s an excerpt that is scientifically accurate (as far as I know).


Blood, being thicker than water, refused to ask for directions as it slowly pooled on the floor. Declining to follow gravity’s logical path through the cracks between the tiles and into the drain, it gathered in a blob near the body. There the blood mourned, until it shivered and congealed. Then the boot stood on it.

Jess Tait heard the squelch and cursed. She cared not about leaving bloody boot prints across the white floor, the crime scene would be torched soon enough, but she usually took great care to look after her footwear. The knee-high, pink leather left boot with the three-inch heels which her limb was stitched into courtesy of severely-crossed black leather straps, would either need thorough cleaning or regrettable destruction. As would the right one, she reflected, the corners of her mouth turning down as she crouched to remove her knife from the corpse that was soiling it.

Tait looked at it carefully. That the blade, almost as long as her forearm and as wide as her wrist in parts, had damaged the bone, muscle and vital organs inside the leaky body was beyond question. She was worried instead that the bone, muscle and vital organs may have damaged or blunted her favourite weapon. Her day had been bad enough as it was. She didn’t know that this was the point where novelists would write that it was about to get worse, much worse, or where those scoring films would introduce the menacing music. She should have known, since she had read enough bad books and sat through enough terrible films.

Once she was satisfied her friend, Stan, was unharmed by his swift and repeated journey to the centre of the heart, she wiped it nonchalantly on the dead man’s thigh. A temporary sheath would have to suffice until she could sterilise the knife, removing any trace of scum that may remain. The bastard was unworthy of such a death, and he was certainly unfit to bleed on her boot. But she was a professional, and Tait would not let such thoughts distract her for long.

Needing only a cursory glance at the mirror where she checked for spatter and fixed her hair (being a professional also meant looking the part) Tait stepped from the bathroom. The awkward hallway took seconds to navigate, wasting more time. The trained killer side of her brain did its job and propelled her efficiently to the next task, the untrained accountant side screamed that she wasn’t being paid by the hour and she should get her pert little arse into gear and get outta there. The long-suppressed wannabe writer in her decried the abysmal vulgarity of her language, and was reproachful for being referred to as “wannabe”. What an ugly word.

She sighed as she found her handbag, removed an aerosol deodorant can, hoisted the chunky leather straps to her shoulder and walked to the kitchen. She had hoped, rather than expected, there to be an old-fashioned heating element of some sort that did not have an in-built computer control or safety software. She was in luck.

metacover copy“Finally, something goes right today,” she muttered to herself while plugging in a sandwich press. For all the high-tech and ridiculous devices in the average upper-middle-class kitchen nowadays (who uses a caramel curling iron more than once?) sandwiches had changed little over the centuries. The method of heating them had altered slightly, but not enough to matter once an aerosol can was shoved inside and the power turned up.

This was no ordinary, harmless deodorant can. Using it was likely to leave you armless. Possibly headless, too, if used incorrectly. Jess Tait had loaded it with a range of explosives, the combination specially designed to leave no trace after explosion other than a lovely lavender scent. That slight signature was the trade-off for being able to carry deadly weapons through airports and spaceports undetected. As she wandered into the sunlight, wrapping a scarf over her strawberry-blonde locks and donning thick sunglasses lest any security cameras be pointed her way, she doubted any of the detectives who had investigated the trail of suspicious deaths she left behind had noticed the lavender. Peace had broken out over the world mid-way through the century, but it was not as though police in Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Lima, Brisbane and Mare Tranquillitatis were ever in regular contact with each other to share information. Then there was the whole time travelling thing. That helped cover her tracks.

Where was she now? That’s right, turn left, walk four hundred metres, catch a taxi and be in the city before the can explodes. Be on a plane and out of this end of the world by sunset.

The first sign of trouble was the road on her face. Or was her face on the road? Hard to tell. She could taste bitumen. The second sign of trouble was she could not tell what the second sign of trouble was. Was that the smell of fire? The air certainly felt warm and smelt vaguely of barbecued mushrooms.

“Don’t move,” a voice behind her commanded, assured in its authority. A needle pressed into her neck. That was the third sign. Or was it the fourth? Hard to count now. Losing consciousness.


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