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The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers


Please welcome Jeff Somers to The Qwillery!



The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers



The Answer is Always Giant Robots
by Jeff Somers

Like most people, as a youth I ignored the advice to go into a field that might be of practical use and lucrative earning potential, preferring to play video games and write novels. This means I’m more or less entirely dependent on the folks who can actually do math for just about everything I need in life, leaving me free to be one of the least useful things on the planet: A futurist.

All sci-fi writers are in some sense futurists, of course; we’re paid (sort of) to imagine what the next five minutes, five years, or five centuries will be like. Which means that when I was approached by Ragnarok Publications to contribute a story to their Mech: Age of Steel anthology it was the perfect partnership, because Mech: Age of Steel is all about giant robots, and according to my research when it comes to questions about what the future will be like, the answer is always giant robots.

Problem-Solving with Giant Robots

Question: Is there anything that can’t be solved with giant robots? Answer: No. There is nothing that cannot be solved by the generous application of giant robots. Let’s examine some of the problems facing humanity now and in the future.

Death. This, in my opinion, isn’t getting nearly enough attention. As shocking as it is to discover that, say, Britney Spears is going to die someday, it is almost twice as alarming to discover that I might die someday. Luckily, the solution is pretty simple (at least according to all the comic books and cheap paperbacks I read as a kid): Pop our brains into giant robots, preferably robots with missiles mounted on the shoulders and jet engines in the feet. Or butt. I’m flexible on the placement of the jet engines.

War. Needless to say, if everyone was either given, assigned, or placed inside a giant robot that could fly and had missiles on its shoulders, war would quickly be a thing of the past, if only because so many people would be dead from vendettas, grudges, and drunken brawls within months of the robot bodies being handed out.

Dancing. I think all reasonable people can agree that watching other people dance is an affliction to the soul. This applies equally to your inebriated relatives at a wedding and the endless procession of “crews” on televised variety shows; every pop and lock just erodes our will to live. Luckily, however, dancing in enormous armored robot bodies is almost impossible. In an alternative future where not everyone gets a giant robot body, the rest of us can apply our shoulder missiles to eradicating dance crews everywhere.

Disease. Having your brain housed in a huge robot body means you eliminate the main vector for disease: Your disgusting biological body (and man, it is disgusting). If science can simply upload your brain to the robot, even better! Though the possibility then exists of a computer virus getting into your source code and assimilating you into a hive mind, but at least we will never have to deal with a runny nose ever again.

Parking. Every year the average adult spends about two years looking fruitlessly for parking spots in major urban areas. If we’re all just flying around as robots, we won’t need cars any more, or parking spots. Although there will be an increased risk of drunkenly crashing into buildings, plus all the associated destruction when we collide with each other in the air and riots break out, destroying entire downtowns in mecha-brawls. Well worth it, if you ask me, a man who once aged ten years seeking a parking spot after 6PM in Hoboken, New Jersey.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point: Very soon all of our problems will be solved via the liberal application of giant robots. Which makes Mech: Age of Steel a useful primer on what life will be like when this glorious future comes. Buy one copy for your crapulent current physical existence so you can read it in the bathroom, and buy a digital copy for easy uploading when you wake up to discover you’ve been upgraded overnight.





Mech: Age of Steel
Tim Marquitz and Melanie R. Meadors, Editors
Ragnarok Publications, June 20, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 658 pages

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers
MECH: Age of Steel is a collection of 24 mecha-inspired short stories in the spirit of Pacific Rim, Macross, Transformers, Robotech, Gundam, Evangelion, and more.

The MECH: Age of Steel anthology features a vast array of tales showcasing giant human-piloted, robot war machines wreaking havoc in blasted cities, or on dystopian landscapes, or around space stations and asteroids against a cosmic backdrop, and more!

MECH is anchored by authors such as:
  • Kevin J. Anderson
  • Scott Sigler
  • Ramez Naam
  • Jason M. Hough
  • Jeremy Robinson
  • Jody Lynn Nye
  • Peter Clines
  • Martha Wells
  • Graham McNeill
  • Jennifer Brozek
  • James Swallow and more!
This anthology also features illustrations for every story and is the perfect companion to its sister title, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. So strap in. Activate your interface array. And let's rock!





About Jeff

Jeff Somers (www.jeffreysomers.com) was first sighted in Jersey City, New Jersey after the destruction of a classified government installation in the early 1970s; the area in question is still too radioactive to go near. When asked about this, he will only say that he regrets nothing. He is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books (avery-cates.com), Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People (wearenotgoodpeople.com).

Jeff’s published over thirty short stories as well; his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris and his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006. He survives on the nickels and quarters he regularly finds behind his ears, his guitar playing is a plague upon his household, and his lovely wife The Duchess is convinced he would wither and die if left to his own devices, but this is only half true.

Today, he makes beer money by writing amazing things for various people. Favorite whiskey: Glenmorangie 10 Year. Yes, it is acceptable to pay me in it.

Facebook  ~  Twitter @jeffreysomers  ~  Google+

A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte


Please welcome Marsheila Rockwell and Jeffrey J. Mariotte. "A Single Feather" will be published in Ragnarok Publication's MECH: Age of Steel Anthology presently on Kickstarter. I'm a backer! Check out MECH on Kickstarter here.




A SINGLE FEATHER
by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte


The impetus for this story was the following image and the facts behind it:

A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
Protecting Our Mother For Our Unborn Children.
by Gregg Deal, 2013

This poster was made from a photograph of Amanda Polchies, a Mi’kmaq woman who held up an eagle feather in front of a line of RCMP at a Canadian fracking protest, seemingly keeping them at bay. “What if,” we thought, “The feather really had power?”

Of course, that wasn’t a story by itself, and certainly not a Mech one. But we didn’t stop there. What if the Earth itself decided that fracking needed to be stopped? What if it took a mobile, active form and rose up against the oil rigs and the drilling tearing it apart? And what if the power that feather – and whoever held it – had was the power to control the vengeful Earth?

That was the essence of the tale we came up with, but no good story is that cut and dried. They’re usually a combination of new and old ideas, mixed together in an author’s (or two authors’) brainstew until something original and uniquely them rises to the top. So it was with “A Single Feather.”

Environmental causes have always been near and dear to both of us, but for Jeff, it runs in the family. His, brother, Michael Mariotte, is the president of NIRS, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, an activist organization that seeks a nuclear-free planet and a sustainable energy future for us all. Recently, Michael was honored in Washington, DC for his decades of effort with the organization, and we were there. We saw dozens of old pictures of Michael (for whom the character, Michael Turcotte, is named) protesting – and being arrested – at nuclear plants around the county.

Those images combined with the image of Amanda Polchies to give us the character behind the story – an idealistic Native American protester and her more pragmatic and cautious boyfriend (and, of course, instigator Michael).

During the time we were stewing over and planning the story, it seemed that an oil-train bomb was exploding every week, somewhere around the country. Most of these traveling disasters originated in the Bakken formation of North Dakota, where a major oil boom was underway (a boom that has since gone bust, as every energy boom does—a casualty of the plummeting price of oil).

One of the worst—and presumably a major influence in the decision of Amanda Polchies and others to protest at Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada—took place in Lac-Mégantic in Quebec Province, Canada. On July 6, 2014, a 74-car train carrying Bakken crude derailed and rolled downhill into Lac-Mégantic’s downtown. The crash and explosion killed 47 people. Of the buildings in the small city’s downtown area, more than half were destroyed outright; all but three of those that remained were condemned and slated for destruction due to oil contamination.

There was a city there, where people lived and worked and shopped and laughed and dreamed, and then there wasn’t. Amanda and her fellow protesters saw that happen and didn’t want it to happen where they lived, or where anybody else lived. They wanted to call attention to the rate at which runaway carbon consumption is making our world a more dangerous place. They wanted us to think about what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it, and to start making decisions about our actions that take such considerations into account.

Amanda stopped a line of armed men with a single eagle feather and a well of courage most of us will never know. In our story, Bree Little Feather displays bravery, too, and her courage animates a much more powerful force—a Mech of a different type than most we expect to be found in the anthology—to carry out her will. And then some.

We’re delighted that the book exists (or will soon, anyway), because who doesn’t love giant robots? But we’re also thrilled to have been given the opportunity to write this story, to pay some distant tribute to the real heroes, the Amandas and the Michaels who work and fight and cajole and testify on behalf of people everywhere and the planet we all share. Their efforts give voice to the powerless.

But sometimes, the Earth speaks for itself.





A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
MECH: Age of Steel is a collection of 24 mecha-inspired short stories in the spirit of Pacific Rim, Macross, Transformers, Robotech, Gundam, Evangelion, and more. MECH features a vast array of tales featuring giant, human-piloted, robot war machines wreaking havoc in blasted cities, or on dystopian landscapes, or around space stations and asteroids against a cosmic backdrop, or wherever, you-name-it!

MECH is anchored by authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, Ramez Naam, Jason Hough, Jeremy Robinson, and Jody Lynn Nye. This anthology features illustrations for every story and is the perfect companion to its sister title, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. So strap in. Activate your interface array. Let's rock!





About Marsheila and Jeffrey

A Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
Soon-to-be husband and wife team Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell and Jeffrey J. Mariotte have written more than 60 novels between them, some of the most recent of which are The Shard Axe series and a trilogy based on Neil Gaiman's Lady Justice comic books (Rockwell) and Empty Rooms and Season of the Wolf (Mariotte). They’ve also written dozens of short stories, separately and together. Some of their solo stories are collected in Nine Frights (Mariotte) and Bridges of Longing (Rockwell). Their published or soon-to-be-published collaborations include the novel 7 SYKOS and short works “A Soul in the Hand,” “John Barleycorn Must Die,” “V-Wars: The Real HousewiVes of Scottsdale,” and “The Lottons Show.” Other miscellaneous projects include Rhysling Award-nominated poetry (Rockwell) and Bram Stoker Award-nominated comic books (Mariotte). More complete bibliographies and news about upcoming projects, both collaborative and solo, can be found at marsheilarockwell.com and jeffmariotte.com.


Marsheila Rockwell Twitter @MarcyRockwell

Jeffrey J. Mariotte Twitter @Jeff Mariotte

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff SomersA Single Feather by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey J. Mariotte

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