Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.
Editor

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Fiction

Watchman, What of the Night?
by Eric Del Carlo

Enemy From Nowhere
by Jeffery Scott Sims

Dance by the Light of the Moon
by Milo James Fowler

Continue Program?
by Seth Chambers

Perfect Blue, Scorched Black
by Rachael Acks

Catastrophic Failure
by David Steffen

Twice Upon a Midnight Dreary
by Richard Zwicker

Screwed by Frankie Frog
by Tim McDaniel

Infinite (∞) LDK
by Ryu Ando

Reparation
by Sara Backer

Articles

Time in a Bottle
by Eric M. Jones

A Real Death Star
by John McCormick


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Editorial

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Editorial

A Cyborg’s Life for Me

WHY IS IT THAT IN ALL THE TV police procedural shows the “perps” are very very fast? As soon as the detective declares “NYPD!” or “NCIS!” or whatever, the bad guy takes off at a velocity that would make Olympian Carl Lewis in his prime look slow. Criminals train. That’s my best guess. Every morning, when not working, the career cat burglar or purse snatcher, before breakfast, dons sweats and clocks up to three miles. Think “Rocky” with a heavy helping of larceny.

I used to do this, the running part, not the robbery. This was before my knees gave out and arthritis took hold. Now when I get out of bed, my knees hurt. My toes hurt, too. Lack of cartilage in the joints. The bones rub against each other, and this is painful. My mother suffered from osteoarthritis for a good chunk of her life. She had a number of surgeries to alleviate the condition. But I don’t want the doctors to replace bone with the equivalent in titanium. I want to be a cyborg. Cyborg, cyborg man, I gotta be a cyborg man!

I don’t want to see my original leg with a lengthy scar over the knee. I want to see a glistening metal leg that makes a faint whirring noise when it moves, powered by an internal pencil-point-sized nuclear reactor. The advantages are numerous; aside from being impervious to mosquito bites, the cybernetic leg would never tire. I could stand on it for hours. It would also contain a programmable GPS system that I could set for a specific route or destination, and let the leg do all the walking. Okay, my other real leg would still be required, primarily for balance, but that’s significantly less work than it does right now. Using a cyborg leg would be almost like driving a car. I could relax, enjoy the scenery, maybe even grab a short snooze while the leg gets me to my destination, on the right.

Let’s not stop there. I’ve a bit of arthritis in my elbows and wrists, too. My arms have never been all that strong. During my 30s when I was probably in the best physical shape I ever was, I jogged three miles per day, but could only manage 20 pull-ups (pronated grip). I’m right-handed, so I am looking to replace my right arm assembly. In addition to the benefits of no more pain and extra strength, I would like to weaponize that arm. Legally licensed, of course. I’m thinking small arms, something in a 9 mm automatic that fires from the wrist. I wouldn’t want to replace the hand itself. Four fingers and an opposable thumb are still one of the greatest ideas of the Cenozoic Era. With programmable digits that can fly across the keyboard at lightning speed, however, I’d be able to write, typo free, and simultaneously use my left hand for drinking coffee.

Since I was in the third or fourth grade, I’ve had to wear glasses for myopia. With age I’ve developed a touch of astigmatism, too. I have computer glasses, reading glasses, and general vision glasses, any of which I am always misplacing. It’s a testament to my inventiveness some of the places my glasses have been found after a frustrating 20 minute search. So let’s dump the spectacles and outfit me with high tech eyes featuring full ten-to-one zoom capability, assorted filters—hey, I could stare directly into the sun—such as UV, infra-red, and night vision. X-ray lenses would be interesting, but not necessary. Probably not very practical, either. The X-Ray Glasses offered in the back pages of 1950’s comic books weren’t real, you realize. They were based around an aspect of optical trickery involving light diffraction.

I have no pressing interest in augmenting any of my other senses. Dogs, as you know, have senses of smell many times more powerful than their human companions. Whenever I take my dog for a walk, she frequently screeches to a dead halt in order to olfactorily examinine some of the most off-putting residue. I don’t believe I would like to smell what she smells with her nose only a few millimeters away from a dead squirrel or heap of day old fecal matter. Dogs’ brains have had thousands of years of evolution to comfortably process this data; mine has not.

But speaking of brains, a USB port implanted into the side of my head, feeding directly into my cerebral cortex would be another magnificent advantage of the cyborg lifestyle. I could jack in thumb drives containing different versions of the popular Rosetta Stone software and become fluent in a number of languages overnight. I could earn a Ph.D. in physics via Bluetooth. I could save a ton of money, as well. Instead of hiring repairmen at $100 minimum just to walk in the door, I could download “Plumbing for Dummies,” or “Electrical Wiring for Dummies,” and do the jobs myself. With the money I’d save, you probably think I would buy a wide range of reference materials, transfer the data to flash drives and dump it all into my brain. You would be wrong. In all the science fiction movies, when the protagonist does this, he or she develops a fatal God Complex, and the movie ends rather tragically. So I will settle for fixing my toilet, learning how to speak Mandarin, and living happily ever after.

Which would undoubtedly be a lot longer as a cyborg. I wouldn’t mind that. According to most actuarial life tables, I have about another 20 years remaining of this mortal coil. Luckily, we carry hardy genes in my family, and a chain of stubborn telomeres, so in reality I’m looking at another 30 years. I’ll take it. However, if I were a cyborg, with biomechanical improvements of my vital organs, that one score and ten allotment could be stretched out, at least doubled.

There’s a song by Walter Catlett from the classic Disney movie, “Pinocchio,” which I would like to paraphrase. This is well within the accepted parameters of fair use, so the Disney lawyers ought to be leaving me alone. I will let you know.

Hi-diddle-dee-dee
A cyborg’s life for me
A high tech leg, I can toss my cane
A nuclear heart and an enhanced brain
Hi-diddle-dee-dum
A cyborg’s life is fun.

Sam Bellotto Jr.


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