Short Story – The Archaeologist

Kortan wished, once again, that he could rub his nares. They itched. But the unyielding face of the cleansuit thwarted all attempts at scratching. He refocused on his task. The ancient data storage system had been a valuable find, the find of the decirotation, perhaps. Though his arms and legs ached from crouching, the device fascinated him beyond measure. Above him were grayish walls of debris, carefully sloped and held back by force curtains to prevent them from falling on the site.

At this particular dig, their archaeological group had found a complex of chambers. Many of the artifacts were exceptionally well preserved, having been buried under layers of volcanic ash. Already many discoveries had been made about the Ancients’ materials technology, daily life, work habits, and much more. Some of the artifacts were obvious as to their function, others were completely puzzling. To what purpose, for example, did a cubical object serve that merely sat on the work surface and had no moving parts? Though the material it had been made from had long since disintegrated into powder, the imprint it had left was plain.

The Ancients had left a wealth of writing implements, traces of wood pulp fibers that indicated the presence of paper products. Many artifacts were made from simple petroleum based plastics, using molds. Molds! Kortan smiled as he gently brushed the ash off the case of the data storage unit. Sure enough, there were fine mold lines on this too. This was made of plastic and some kind of coated sheet metal, no doubt made with a stamping process. The sheer impact of being surrounded by this much history made Kortan’s cardiac organ flutter. As he saw the next prize, his excitement only grew.

Click here for the rest of the story – also on

Undreamed of possibilities

In this post, I wrote about things I thought were true when I was five. I was reflecting today on just how different my life is from what I expected. My formative years were spent mostly before the internet was common, and though I grew up around my dad’s clunky yet trusty 286, I never dreamed computers would be such an essential part of my life. I’m sure everyone reading this can resonate on some level, so please feel free to provide your own examples in the comments.

When I was a kid, I never dreamed I’d…

…work with computers constantly, both at work and at home, have a monitor that’s about an inch thick, and consider my internet to be essential while cable TV is not.

…be able to pay somebody to shoot me or my loved ones in the face with a laser, for any medical purpose.

…actually have a published novel in any form, since self publishing in my youth meant you had access to a good copy machine and made ‘zines.

…have a blog, once again, see the lack of internet and lateral communication.

…become good enough at pen and ink drawing to do decent illustrations. Pen and ink was a loved but unheard of dream at the time.

…carry a tiny portable telephone that connects me to anyone anywhere in the country without long distance fees. I grew up in the bad old days of corded phones, peak calling times and long distance.

…learn to blue and parkerize metal, learn to use a mill or a lathe or a grinder, become comfortable with power tools, and learn the pure love of a good pressurized air system. I grew up being nervous even around hand tools.

When I look at the things I can do, that I never dreamed I would be able to, and would have thoroughly envied anyone I knew who could, the future doesn’t seem too dim. What possibilities are still in store for all of us that we never imagined would be possible?

What shall I pass to the future?


I wrote this a couple years ago but it’s still very true.

My grandmother is ninety-three, and I am thirty-five, and my mother’s age is one I’ll not reveal, or she may thump me. As I get nearer to my thirty-sixth year I start to wonder what virtues, and habits, and passions will I pass down to future generations? Will I be yet another forgotten worker bee, part of the landscape? Or if I am remembered at all, will there be some bright spark that others might find good to see?

My grandmother still writes in a fine classical Palmer hand, in a style that predates the current D’Nealian version and was popularized in the late 1900s.  Until a week ago, I wrote in a not so fine and brutally pragmatic print hand. It was readable, but never had a pretense of elegance. Is this what I want to have when I am ninety-three? Or sixty, even? Will I rather have eighty or ninety years of practice writing in something that is not fair to look on, or fifty five years of practice in lovely penmanship? I know the choice I am making now.

The same goes for books. Will I tell future generations of the works of Shelley, and Tennyson, and Kipling, and Lafcadio Hearn, and Robert Heinlein, and Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle, and Shakespeare, and Samuel Clemens, and Miyamoto Musashi?  Or will the only books I know be Harry Potter, Star Trek or Star Wars novels, and modern fantasy? The website Project Gutenberg is a priceless portal to many immortal works from all around the world. It’s also free, which is rather important as well.

Will I start a Work of Noble Note? Will the others, in my generation, do the same? What will their choices be?

And what of you? I’ve covered two things I’d like to take to the future. What things from the past would you like to pass forward? What’s worthwhile to you? I’d love to hear it.