Sci-Five Shorties 02 – “Saya’s Last Gasp”

Did you know I co-present a podcast called SCI-FIVE where we investigate all things SF in approximately 5 mins?  No, well, I do, and it is up to episode 62 already…you should go take a listen:


Recently we have launched the SCI-FIVE SHORTIES, a series of 4-8 minute new SF themed short stories.  I’ve written a few, and for those interested here is the second one, plus the audio link if you are interested in listening:

“SAYA’S LAST GASP” by Neil Gardner

          ‘Bugger!’ Saya shouted as her fingers, encased in their heavy-work gloves, slipped another few inches. ‘Bugger, bugger, bugger!’ Slip, slip, slip.

There are few, if any, good places to find yourself hanging on to by your fingertips, but for Saya, right now, she couldn’t think of any that could be worse.

‘THREE MINUTES TO ACTIVATION’ the robotic computer voice sounded in her ears, her telepathic communication link to the ship still working in one-direction.  Damn it, why couldn’t they hear her?!

‘Buggeration, buggery, bugger!’ she continued to swear, loudly.  She knew no-one could hear her, but the profanity helped keep her calm, and she kind of enjoyed the idea of what someone would think if they were to suddenly be able to hear her.  The thought of a stream of invective roaring around the ship’s telepathic PA system gave her a momentary diversion, before her mind refocused on her predicament.

This was such a stupid, typically-her way to die.  ‘It couldn’t happen to anyone else, could it?’ Saya thought to herself, the joints in her fingers screaming in agony, the gloves gradually slipping further. Why had she even volunteered to do the job?  She was no system specialist, and she certainly wasn’t the best at zero-g working.  Then there was her habit of losing all sense of direction once outside in space, and of course her general dislike of the cumbersome heavy-work space suits.  Combine all that with her clumsiness, lack of balance and all-round inability to do anything right, and Saya quickly realised just why she was stuck where she was stuck.

‘This is the Captain speaking,’ the warm, mellifluous voice had come over the PA. ‘As you all know we are soon to enter Relativity Drive for the jump to our next destination.  However, the onboard systems tell me that we have 1042 minor faults that need to be repaired before we make the jump.  Since we are on a strict schedule, and the engineering teams need to focus on the most complex tasks, I need volunteers to help fix the small stuff.  If you would like to help, and earn a gratitude chit for your assistance, please telpath my office before 0600. Captain out.’

Saya was a good person.  She cared about her job, her ship and her crewmates.  But sadly she hadn’t made a good impression, ever since she joined up four Relativity jumps ago.  She had been hired as a junior systems analyst and assistant, but it had become very clear, very early on that she had lied on her application.  She had basic systems knowledge, gleaned from years spent in salvage yards and on steamer ships doing the intra-system runs, but she had no clue how a Relativity Cruiser worked.  So she had been downgraded to second assistant environmental systems apprentice, lost two-thirds of her pay, been forced to move in to a shared dormitory with 5 other apprentices, and generally got the scummy end of the hydro-mop.

‘TWO MINUTES TO ACTIVATION’ the computer droned.

She had jumped at the chance to show the Captain and crew that she was made of better stuff, and to earn that gratitude chit.  She was already at MINUS 16 gratitude chits (a new ship record) and desperately wanted to break even before she was inevitably thrown off the ship.

And so she had telpathed her request to volunteer, and then she had waited.  And waited, and waited some more.  Eventually the Captain’s office telpathed to say there was one job left, it was on the outside of the ship’s hull and needed next to no skills except the ability to hold on, turn a spanner clockwise and climb back aboard before the jump occurred.

Saya, although scared and worried about a zero-g external excursion, headed for the appointed airlock, got her instructions from the bored and less-than-amiable engineering assistant, climbed into her heavy-work space suit and headed out in to space.  Sadly she banged her helmet on the steel-girdered airlock door, and broke her telpath antennae, thereby missing the engineering assistant’s hurried warning to ‘Stay clipped on to the guide rail’.

Once outside the ship, Saya had worked her way towards the small hatchport that needed 3 of its 4 locking bolts refastened.  She had a small digital heads-up display in her helmet counting down the minutes until the ship would blast in to Relativity Drive and span the vast distance to its next port of call.  She sill had 30 minutes to get the job done and get back inside the ship. ‘No worries, easy as anything,’ she had told herself.  But while confident in her ability to tighten 3 locking bolts in no time at all, she was starting to get concerned as to why she couldn’t hear anything from the ship’s telepathic PA system.  She should have been getting all sorts of messages and updates.  She ran a quick diagnostic on her suit and was dismayed to see that it was damaged.  The telpath comms system was broken.  the onboard diagnostics was able to get the system working in one-direction only. ‘Oh well, its not like they need to hear from me, is it?’ Saya had told herself.

‘ONE MINUTE TO ACTIVATION’ came the voice of the computer

Quite how she had forgotten to attach herself to the guide rail, Saya couldn’t think.  And why she hadn’t remembered that she was using a power-wrench, she really couldn’t say.  But put those two things together, add in the build-up momentum of the ship as it prepped for its Relativity Jump, and you ended up with Saya, gripping on for her life, to the exterior hull of a spaceship, slipping towards the engine mounts and about to be either [a] left behind to float in space until she died of asphyxiation, or [b] fall into the engine mounts just as the Relativity Drive powered up and she was atomised in an instant.

‘Bugger me, bugger me, bugger me! Won’t SOMEONE hear me?  Please, I need help! Don’t fire up the engines. I’m still out here….’ she screamed, gasping for breath, desperate to be heard.  She felt the vibrations in the hull building, her gloved hands slipping.  She screamed once more…

‘Oh come on you bastards, you must know I am here…help!’

The Relativity Drive powered up.

‘Oh bugger,’ she gasped.

(c) Neil Gardner, 2012

Sci-Five Shorties 01 – “The Sound Within”

Did you know I co-present a podcast called SCI-FIVE where we investigate all things SF in approximately 5 mins?  No, well, I do, and it is up to episode 62 already…you should go take a listen:


Recently we have launched the SCI-FIVE SHORTIES, a series of 4-8 minute new SF themed short stories.  I’ve written a few, and for those interested here is the first one, plus the audio link if you are interested in listening:

“THE SOUND WITHIN” by Neil Gardner

          Inside the space was cavernous, a behemoth of structure, its size close to unfathomable for the untrained mind.  Within the space there seemed to be no height, no width and no breadth.  The space itself appeared limitless, without end…without start.

Outside of the space was darkness.  Inside the space was limitless light. The boundary between the two was at once indistinct and yet as undeniable as the space itself.

Determining the structure of the space, the purpose of the space, the meaning of the space was a daunting task.  Where would you start? And how would you know when you had finished? From where would you begin the task, and where would you conclude it? By what criterion would you attempt to define the space? And to what would you make comparison?

The space was.  The space is. The space is everything.

Yet within the space there was nothing.  No up or down, or left or right.  The space, while illuminated by the fiercest white light, was utterly devoid of anything to see by that light. The space existed, but it was impossible to describe such existence using any explainable distinguishing features.  The space was just…the space.  It existed, therefore it was.

The space from within appeared devoid of function or purpose.  In fact it seemed devoid of anything, except the light, and its own existence. From without the space was an all encompassing light that defined the darkness around it.  The darkness was, because the space was.  One defined and delineated the other.  Without one there might not be the other.  Did the space, therefore, describe the darkness? Or did the darkness inform the space, give it substance and form?

Outside the space was silence.  The darkness said nothing. No sounds emerged, no sounds escaped. The darkness remained inviolate.

Inside the space the nothingness of the light was considered to be the completeness of existence.  Light was the space, and the space was the endless bright, furious light.

And then something extraordinary happened.  From deep within the space, from the very heart of the light, there came a sound. It lived for but a heartbeat of time, and then it was gone.  Gone, but not forgotten.

An eternity of space and light passed.  And just as the sound became a nano-spot of a fragment of the merest suggestion of a memory…it happened again.  This time it lasted for a whole second.  It defined the time of its duration and gave life to speculation.  Was sound going to supplant the light within the space? Did the light create the sound? Why was the sound longer this time?

Before answers could be formulated, the space rang out with the sound once again.  It grew in strength and volume, in amplitude and tone.  The sound ran laughing around every part of the space and back again, seeking the edges of the space and marking the boundaries of its existence.  The light, previously everything within the space, exploded in to a myriad colours, refracting through the lens of the all-encompassing sound.  Together the sound and the spectrum of light burst and fractured and exploded throughout the space.  The space had no time to come to terms with this new experience, as sound and light, sharing and joining and merging and mutating, reached the place where the darkness lived, and with one sudden gasp of momentum…spewed forth from the space into the darkness.

Now the space and the darkness are joined.  A river of sound and light gushes between them.  Space is defined by its birthing of colour and the reflections and echoes of the sound.  The darkness is now no longer entirely dark, and knows the joy of both light and sound.  Slowly, ever so slowly, the space and the darkness are creating something new, something different, something else.  In time there will be no more space, there will be no more darkness.  Then…what will be, will be what has come before, and what will come next, will be a space all of its own.

(c) Neil Gardner, 2012

We’ve Re-located the Sci-Five Podcast

A bit of house-keeping news for you.  I’ve moved the Sci-Five POdcast to its very own wordpress home, to keep things tidy and help focus all our attention on…er…um…well, to keep things tidy!

You can find all the eps, and all the future eps over at:

Please pop by and subscribe to the feed and share the news with your friends.  And don’t forget to send us you own Sci-Fives when you can 🙂

Sci-Five Podcast Ep 2 – We Want Mecha!

Ep 2 is here and Neil & Tanja demand a kick ass mecha movie!

Send in your Sci-Fives to:


Sci-Five Podcast – Ep 1 – The Force Unleashed Movie

Welcome to the first of the new daily episodes of SCI-FIVE…a five minute easy to consume podcast that looks at the whole world of Sci-Fi.  From movies and TV to toys, games and books…each ep deals with one topic and is all over and done with in 5 mins (give or take a bit!).

Presented by me (Neil Gardner) and my other half, Tanja Glittenberg.

We invite you to submit your own Sci-Fives – you can agree, disagree, or chat about anything sci-fi you like.  Just keep it clean and keep it to 5 mins.

You can get in touch by emailing


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