Million Mile Road Trip by Rudy Rucker

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Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
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Imagine Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy involving a car instead of a space ship.

Now imagine that car driving across a parallel universe that is flat with valleys of lands instead of a sequence of globes hung in space.

Now imagine the characters and their encounters have more in common with cyberpunk attitudes and sensibilities than space opera.

If you’ve got all that in mind, then you’ve got a pretty good mental image of what you’ll find in Rudy Rucker‘s novel Million Mile Road Trip.

Now add a giant bagpipe the size of a mountain as the big bad, a Mayan pyramid as the ancient advisor, and three teens (18, 18, and 16) as the heroes. This is one road trip you don’t want to miss.

To be honest, I’d never heard of Rudy Rucker prior to picking up this book in my local library. The cover offered praises from William Gibson and promised a humorous scifi adventure. Once I’d finished the novel and read the afterward, I discovered that Rucker was influenced and mentored by Robert Sheckley, a personnal favorite scifi author I’ve mentioned in a previous post and one of the true kings of comedic scifi.

I really enjoyed this one and recommend it to all fans of scifi, humor, comedic scifi, and anyone else looking for a different spin on so old scifi themes.

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Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
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Labor Day

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Yesterday was this week’s session and my fifth session with the VA OT Creative Writing group I’m participating in. The writing prompt for the day was “Labor Day” wuth a couple of printed handouts on the origin of Labor Day in the U.S.. This is what I came up with.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. The bosses get the money, the workers get the shaft. I’ve heard there was a time when workers got a chance to push back, but that was obviously before the human race left Earth to colonize the local solar system.

Once the space race shifted from government entities to private companies, colonization began with the companies offering great benefits “on paper” to get the best workers.  However, what they leave out is everything about the job is dependent upon the company.

Your quarters are in a company housing area; your goods and supplies come from the company store, assuming the company paid its bills and the company transports were able to deliver new goods for the month; your money went into and out of the company bank, usually more out than in. You are what the economists call an indentured servant since you start out $1.5 million in debt to the company for the cost of transporting you to colony job site. We, the workers, know that we’re really just glorified slaves.

After the first settlements on Mars started, the workers there were too far in debt for word to get back to earth about treatment of them. So, as humanity spread to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, people quickly discovered their hopes and dreams of a new life beyond the stars was really just a nightmare in the void of space.

There are periodic attempts to draw attention to and improve the quality of life for the company colony workers, but those attempts usually don’t last very long. The most egregious example and the one the company bosses go out of their way to make sure everyone is aware of is the Europa Incident.

The company workers on Europa tried to organize and go on strike. The company brought in security personnel from the nearby Titan colony under the guise of stopping a terrorist cell that emerged on Europa. A few firefights took place between the Europa and Titan security teams, before the Titan team learned the truth behind what was happening on Europa and why the Titan team was really there. 

The two security teams worked together and joined with the workers to overthrow company management and attempted to create a worker-led work center. That lasted just long enough for the company’s on-site executives to make their way to escape craft bound for other company holdings and those same executives to vent atmosphere of the colony on the way out. No one can breathe in Europa’s atmosphere. The official story was the terrorists vented Europa’s atmosphere in a suicide attack when the Titan security team cornered them in one of the colony control centers.

When UN Space and US Space Command expressed questions and doubts about the official corporate story and their intents to send investigation teams, the company’s colony base on Europa suddenly exploded after some middle manager accidentally triggered a self-destruct sequence that was in place should another country, company, or species attempt to access proprietary data. But the message was clear to company workers on other colony sites, don’t cross the company because every worker is expendable.