CH. 04 «My Minifeed»



For the entire time I’ve shared the unit with my Jovian roommate we’ve complained about our occupations as wannabe net pirates. A wireless receiver—which can be found in practically anything from a texti or your imager to a soda can or a lotto ticket—will only keep you connected if you’re within radius of an access point. Most families can afford outfit their unit with a Home-Sphere; a wireless central hub that that integrates all the corresponding systems around your unit and in your pocket together in a local network.

Meager is the minimum wage compared to cost of life in OC and my roomie knew as well as I did it couldn’t win the battle over food and electricity; and why should we really? Our building was a conglomeration of tiny apartment units. We could easily find signal from various neighbors overlapping certain spaces in our home. The only problems you face with buccaneering some spheres are the measures people take to prevent hacking or leeching. You might think it simple since the obsolescence of the coaxial or the push away from fiber optics–you don’t have to splice your neighbors line anymore, rather you can just skim some bandwidth off remotely.

It’s not always as easy as I make it sound. Most people end up taking an unprotected signal versus tangle with password protection. Some people get too frustrated with a cramped jacuzzi they keep losing their place in, though. If you’re really willing to go the extra step and you can get through a password, be warned! You’ll likely be faced with a myriad of firewalls, hack traps, or even bots programmed to infect intruders’ systems with crippling computer viri. Some are particularly destructive strains, capable of mortally wounding key hardware components. I’m sure the Jovian, Pashan, is as unwilling as I am to seek such an encounter. Thus we came to a consensus and decided it was time to go legit and invest in our own access point.

I really shouldn‘t be trying to afford anything else though, what with being recently unemployed. I didn’t even save enough credits when I was working at the bookstore, barely making it out of there every Friday with my paycheck intact. There are so many unread hardcovers and trades just collecting dust in the living room, which is also probably coated by a thin layer of neglect. Clothbound novelties on all manner of subject from prehistoric art to goddess literature and studies of shamanic cultures throughout the solar system just aging. I suspect I could read a few pages instead taking 20 minutes just to check my mail with this weak signal. You don’t want to know how long it takes to get my whole minifeed.

Archaics and old fashioned families usually take in a full cast from the teli, but anyone who’s young or just synced-up and living on-the-go needs it in a more readily accessible, swallowable shape. Sometimes that means being delayed leaving the unit while I’m waiting for the condensed cast to trickle into my gadget. Then I can take my minifeed on the fly; though not giving the screen my undivided attention until I find myself at signal lights, straight-aways and the gridlock.

Sometimes it’s all I have to survive this murderous Martian traffic.

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PREV CHAPTER: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

PREV: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

NEXT: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

NEXT: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo


CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»



I stepped out of my unit into the belligerent wind. It was evening now and the clear, starry sky above looked more purple than black. Waiting a moment for the unruly breeze to die down, I caught the slight stench of the hundred cigis lying with the mulch around me. A moment to light another one was lost with a gust that brought that permanent burnt-blood smell of iron oxide to my nostrils, giving the distinct memory of bitten tongues. A feeling not unlike the sting on my exposed skin from the cold that accompanied the odor. I leaned back inside the hatchway to dodge the wind and soon only smelled the choke of the Martian Spirit I lit after another minute, instantly remembering why I didn’t like smoking them at all.

I had bought the pack at the filling station in desperation, not able to pick out any other familiar brands from all of the foreign labels in the nicotine bookcase behind the counter. I recognized these right away, they had been popular with hip kids back on Earth who were trying to be green or just trendy, the “healthy” cigis boasting liberation from pesticides and other additives–and from any discernible taste. I personally thought these pre-fab’d cigis were bland and took larger lungs to drag, and they take too long to burn in the blasted wind. I forgot about it until I heard a skittering to my right and leapt back to the airlock, reaching inside to flip the porch LEDs. I returned to the pale-blue illuminated patio alone; I saw no scaly tail nor heard the scratch of claws, so I felt safe to assume I was so. Wishing I had not lost my hat, I pulled up my collar and hugged myself with my smoke-free hand. I missed that herringbone dob, even if Leucosia gave it to me.

Another, larger wind-wrought clatter in the yard beside mine startled me from my lamentations and decided I ought to head in. It was too bitter out there to make the cigi worth the hassle. Stomping it out on the pavement before it ever had a chance to burn to the little printed ink graphic, I turned on my pressed toe and hurried back inside. The automatic hatch slid shut behind me. Its hermetic seal squealed as it cut off the atmosphere from outside… all except one tiny wisp of smoke that followed me back into my unit. circularcrop-itlom004-chapter-additivefreelungs copy

NEXT CHAPTER: CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

PREV: CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

NEXT: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

NEXT: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

Listen to Transmission Audio:

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Lo there, internets! Aren’t these new social media tools the ultimest invention since the micro-fusion reactor? Just when I thought I was alone in the universe, I’m able to connect to all my old classmates so we can keep in touch as we venture out into the worlds. Having a rolling feed of moments and memories from dear friends provided by apps and widgets which I can program to display on any surface at home that has a screen. Everyone’s lives brought within my fingertips.

With our social networks I can get my own thoughts out there amongst the crowd. Just like everyone else on sites like Spacebook I could use simple status updates to describe my most momentary feelings and post images depicting where/what/whom-ever I want to tag. But now that I’m a tlogger I have my very own feed where can express myself limitlessly; embedding within my transmissions any vids, images or links that I want to share with my followers. I can write on and on for pages if I so wish and everything I include in my entry will be condensed down into a tiny parcel your feed aggregators will pick up as soon as I post it. You receive a pretty imagegram of someone’s lunch or a character-limited rant in a Rippler post most times you have a notification. Any updates you get from me could contain a whole world of emotion and information thanks to my new tlog.

What better topic for a tlog than a charismatic Earthling chronicling their life on Mars? I feel like plenty of people could relate to the experience or find interest in learning more about my journey. After all it’s not too unusual a set of circumstances that brought me to the rust covered world; you would have done the same in my situation. You see, I moved to Mars for love.

I came to the 4th planet of Sol the same way everyone else does: by commercial rocket. After an arduous security screening and six nerve-racking-hour flight from the capital of Earth—complete with requisite layover and change of ships on the Moon—I’d arrived on the world of red beaches and palm trees. I knew Southern Amazonia would be a pleasant change the moment I stepped onto the landing pad. Immediately met by some of that nice weather everyone’s always posting about, I admired my surroundings now that I was on Mars.

The blazing sun was a sweltering pink disc in a vast scarlet sky. Endless and cloudless, not a drop of moisture could be detected in the air. The crimson canopy could make one feel miniscule. It seemed to stretch on for an eternity, coming to a stop only for the summit of mighty Olympus Mons. The iconic volcanic mountain rises 26 miles into the heavens and is visible from space…as well as half the territory of Amazonia. It’s the picturesque backdrop of Novus Angelicas, the uncredited character cast in every film shot at the home of the movi industry. Olympus was the only identifiable object in the skyline amongst all the square cement buildings of the urban sprawl surrounding the spaceport.

This is every scene taking place in NA. This is it everywhere you go. There are no other hills or ridges, or other features on the horizon. Just miles and miles of cement shapes with some palm trees and powerlines thrown in. Something like 4,000 sq miles to be more accurate, all laid out in square grids with squat square units seated along every street and squared corner as far as you can scan. With a population of over 10 million fit snuggly inside the county lines of this entirely incorporated supercity it’s more densely populated than a good number of moons. Every single person living here gets to play out their dramas on the very same set; all part of the Novus Angelicas experience.

My first footsteps on Martian pavement felt like a homecoming. This was surely the place I was meant to be all my life, I was more certain with each tread across the tarmac. Slipping into the airlock of the small spaceport’s terminal building I was greeted by a couple hundred curious faces. Loitering around an out-of-date lobby, with far too few retro-styled seats to accommodate modern passenger load, all of the travelers looked up from their comms and tablets for a moment to evaluate me. The expressions of the first Martians I met at Porro Beach Spaceport seemed to say: Who’s that? Do I know them from somewhere? Are they in movis? Look, who is that? Did you get a good look? Don’t look like you’re looking! Equally alarmed and flattered at first, I’d learn its normal behavior in Novus Angelicas; where the celebrities walk amongst us.

An important part of the NA Experience: the chance to watch movistars walking their squogs down the streets or catching musicians nomming at late night diners. It seems like every actor and artist who’s anything in the Solar System makes their residence in Novus Angelicas. It’s a most integral industry town and at its heart lays the heart of entertainment itself: Polywood. Birthplace of modern movis and home to the fabled golden era of cinema, all the greats came to live somewhere in Novus Angelicas. This city’s name is synonymous with stardom and fame. It’s also often mentioned in the same sentence as false hope and trap. NA is a city in the business of dreams, whether they come true or not.

It was my turn to claim my fame and get my face on the 3D screen. The two travel cases I retrieved from the baggage carousel, the clothes on my back and my determination were all I felt like I needed. Along with my good looks, talent at acquiring skills and boarder-line genius intelligence I was certainly a shoe-in for success. I waited impatiently on the curbside in front of the spaceport for my ride. The Martian Dream was out there somewhere and it surely wouldn’t be waiting for me. This city didn’t seem like the waiting type.

It really is a fast-paced metropolis, its residents anxiously rushing about all day and night. At any given time half of them are overhead, zipping across the skylanes in aircars, shuttles and skipper transports. The bright LCD panels from billboards impart quick slogans simple enough for drivers to absorb as they zoom on by. Their images flash and dance and distract and loop over again, repeating for days before being updated or cycled out. They make up a constantly shifting background and at night assist a billion street LEDs in illuminating the city that never sleeps.

During the day you’ll find the other half of the population roaming the dusty surface. A good portion might work meaningless office jobs and remain crushed under the indomitable weight of their cubicles. Many could be stuck in their crawlers and rovers, cursing NA traffic as they sit bumper-to-bumper on one of the massive five-lane freeways. Others tramping along cosmopolitan crosswalks and strutting across star-studded walk-of-fames. And every single one of them with their eyes permanently affixed to a screen somewhere: their computers, workstation terminals or registers; their HUDs or dashboard and headrest telis; their comms, droids or their 3D-projector COGs; their BlueEye devices and even optical-nerve augs. The more portable your screen is the better in a lightspeed metropolis like NA.

Its sights sped past the passenger hatch of Leucosia MyLock’s rover until they became an orange blur. My lovi was giving me a ride from the spaceport, providing a place to crash and helping me get on my feet. My journey to Mars would have never been possible if I hadn’t started dating her. I was so grateful to have met this beautiful blond girl from Southern Amazonia, let alone maintain a long-distance relationship and be loved by her; I knew the stars were on our side. When the opportunity had presented itself I wasted no time in ditching my home on Earth for the high life on Mars. Leucosia wasted no time in ditching the surface streets and merging onto the elevated freeway.

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Downtown Novus Angelicas #mars #na #martian living #thebigcity #finallymadeit

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Beyond scuffed guard rails I could see over the flat rooftops, comm towers and palm trees. The scene shimmered slightly in the afternoon’s red heat, looking just like something I’d seen in a movi. A maroon Olympus Mons loomed over the tall shapes of the skyscrapers downtown. After we’d passed by them, weaving along at a hundred miles an hour, the enormous commercial structures seemed to get swallowed up by the urban sprawl. They disappeared into the horizon as we continued on our course away from the city center. We cruised towards the great mountain’s purple silhouette onwards to Olympus County… Further and further from Novus Angelicas.

You see, Olympus County is not the same as NA County. Not even remotely close. The industry’s nearly nonexistent and the famous don’t hang out down here; it’s just the synthetics. OC is opulent, but the most conservative county in all of SoAm. The teli shows and movis that gave it popularity over the past few years surely made it appear nothing but glamorous and lavish. That’s just movi magic: polishing up a heap of slag to sell you a pretty illusion. But it’s no Novus Angelicas.

They still play along every day pretending it is. Granted, their portrayal of NA might be closer to the movi version than the real one. In OC they believe decadence is a value and nothing is as important as status. Everyone has to look as if they’re living like a movistar: driving the fanciest rides, wearing the trendiest fashions and sporting the newest gadgets. Everyone stays slim on a diet of cigis and coffee. Everyone thinks whatever business they’re up to is the most important kind imaginable and the universe should bend to assist their needs. Everyone struts and cuts around as sharp as they can, vidchatting away on an eyepiece with a smartcomm in one hand and a jumbo-sized latte in the other. The OC is a soulless clone of Novus Angelicas…which might be saying a lot if you’ve found NA was a depraved and desperate being to begin with.

The town of Fender isn’t so bad, though. I ended up moving to one of OC’s oldest settlements, a nice little city with a bit of history. It boomed up when the first maglev rails passed through and used to export more oranges than any other municipality in the whole Union. It became the site of some of SoAm’s earliest oil wells. When gas-powered rovers became available and started showing up on Mars you could find the first corner filling station here. Fender was home to the oldest community college still operating on the planet. It was well established, conveniently located and a seemingly pleasant place to raise a family; a lot like my hometown, Vine. And just as boring. One of the first settlers called it ‘the most desolate and lonesome place in Sol’ which is a description I could agree with.

It turned out to be a bit too remote for me. Before I became a resident of Fender I had no idea how far away I would be from NA. I couldn’t imagine how long it would take to sit through traffic to get to a gig. And without my own set of wheels I couldn’t just bum 4-hour rides to make an audition. Was I seriously going to try to use public transportation to attend my acting classes? My dream of ending up on the screen would have to wait.

I was stuck on the wrong part of Mars. So close, but so far. At least I had Leucosia by my side, she was my starmate. I’d moved to this town so I could be closer to her; I figured I might as well make the most of living in Fender. I enrolled at the community college, found an apartment unit on the desert side of town, took a job at a mediastore in Nuport and got myself a new 3-hatched crawler. After a year I’d officially become a resident of Amazonia, the last thing I needed to acquire in order to feel like I was ready to take on my dream. But that’s when the slag hit the turbine.

If you hadn’t heard already, Leucosia and I broke up back in October. That’s putting it nicely, though. My first real love, the girl I left my homeworld for, my starmate… broke my heart and dumped me on Mars. I was devastated for months, it really shook up my reality. It’s been awkward for me to talk about it publicly because I’d hoped we could just get back together and put it behind us. She’s the only person I know on this planet and she had taken care of me, she wouldn’t abandon me now, right? It’s been so long since there was a chance of anything working romantic reconciliation here. She wrote herself out of the story before it even began.

At least I still had my mediastore gig to keep me occupied and my coworkers to keep me company… for a while anyway. I lost that recently as well. Blame it on workplace depression; Leucosia and I had jobs in the same shopping mall. You try starting every day you’re scheduled by being reminded you used to access the express lanes when you carpooled together. You used to take your breaks together in that food court, and used check out the cute animals at that pet shop after your shifts, and you’ve waited for her to try on clothes in all those stores and you never would have applied for the job or visited Style Isle if it hadn’t been for her.

You walk past all those memories on your way in to your underpaid, overburdened and immeasurably meaningless occupation; where you’re penned into the soon to be obsolete movi/music section and forced to hopelessly pedal media discs that everyone’s just downloading for free nowadays. How long would it take before you lose it and get terminated for misconduct?

I’m better off without the dead-end nine-to-five and the flighty Amazonian bird. I’ve still got everything I need to make my dreams possible; no one can strip me of my passion. And I still have you, all of you linked-up and receiving my feed. I’ve got the most useful tools to connect and communicate in this age of instantaneous information exchange and I’m going to utilize them to report my findings on Mars. If you follow my transmissions you’ll hopefully be imparted with the wisdoms of this harsh world I’ve had learn the hard way.

Sync ya later, folks. Take care until my next transmission, signing off from sunny Olympus County.



Prev Chapter: CH. 01 «Not of This World»

PREV: CH. 01 «Not of This World»

NEXT CHAPTER: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

NEXT: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

CH. 01 «Not of This World»

Listen to Transmission Audio



I should extend my most gracious welcome to you–but first a formal introduction is in order. No, I’m not some famous netjournalist or a semi-literate celebritease. In fact, since I don’t know whether or not you’re a net savvy programmer from the city or just the farmer’s daughter on some backwater, rural world that recently got linked-up, I feel the need to mention that, these days, all it takes is a working modem and a solved captcha and just about any noob can further degrade the nets with their very own netlog. I hope it won’t take you long to notice I’m not of that ilk.

My name, for purposes of this tlog, is K. Lane. Rolls off the tongue a bit better than my given name – Klay Lane – don’t you think? I never quite liked the way my first name came out, too abrasive; sounds too old fashioned. My parents were Earthlings after all, so what can I say…

I’m not really what you would call a ‘Writer’, more of a ‘writer’. Lowercase letters keep expectations low, I find. I’ve never had that strong of a relationship with rules of any kind: grammar and syntax doubly so. I’ve always been more of a visual person, I’d say what I do is far from linguistic composition, more akin to painting-with-words.

It’s been a while since I even laid the blinking brush of a cursor to the page. I don’t think I’ve kept a tlog, or any real online correspondence, since before moving here. I’ve been depressed for a few months, I guess. The nets have likely entirely changed since I last signed on, I have no idea who uses them or even who’s reading this. I’d like to think this as a cautionary tale about the perils of Mars, directed at other Earthlings lest they embark on similar tragedies. Although, you may very well likely be from this windswept world, or otherwise already here, and if so you could consider it a survival story.

But even if you were Callitian, Titanese, Plutonian or a Venusian, it wouldn’t hurt to get a good idea of who the protagonist is around here. One might describe yours truly as a dashingly handsome 20-something artist/adventurer, seeking his noble dreams in a foreign and exotic land. Or, one might more accurately describe me a lonely, quasi-introverted Earthling, displaced in this crimson desert and desperately seeking anyone willing to see the universe his way. Either way, I promise to try and keep it interesting, even if it means that I end up sabotaging my interpersonal relationships for your continued entertainment. Now, where to begin…

Well, I came to Mars almost a year and a half ago, and overall I’ve observed that there’s really not that much different from Earth. At least where I grew up. Plastic money and plastic bodies, classy transportation, with a glamorous facade of artificial emotions to accessorize; Synthetic Humanoids. Everything comes pre-fabricated including friendship so, even if there weren’t any palm trees back home, I should be used to this post-suburban Olympus County. Still though, on cold nights when the Tharsis winds whip up and the sun retreats behind the burning orange coast, it feels very alien and alone. Even if the greenbacks nextdoor manage to keep the empty skies filled with awful music all night.

I came here to follow the Martian Dream, which is really just the Earthling Dream on a much more self-centered, ego-absorbed scale. Everyone born here believes they are god’s gift to the stars. And for some reason pop culture has built up this illusion of Mars as a happening, inspiring, and beautiful place where your fantasies come true. So far though, all I see is a sprawling desert and inhabitants fighting nature in vain to hold onto land which really shouldn’t support life, human or otherwise. But we’re told the rest of the worlds aren’t living the life that Mars offers, it’s even said that Novus Angelicas is the ultimest city this side of the asteroid belt. I can tell you that’s a scorching heap of drosslag.

Gork! I’m suspicious that it’s all a giant marketing ploy to generate revenue for a government more interested in hording resources and taxpayer credits than prosperity or advancement of the Martian people. Really though, as forward thinking as it’s is supposed to be—the trend setting cultural hub of the inner worlds as it is—it think Mars is further behind morally and intellectually than most of the Old Worlds. Gork, even Earth and Venus by now.

I came to this planet just to be disappointed thus far, but I’m not willing to give up hope on the decency of the Martian people. There’s a place for me somewhere on this planet I may have just chosen a dull place to live first, too close to the barren wastes. As far back as I can remember, looking up at that blinking little red eye in the evening or on the broadcast during the day, I think I’ve always wanted to come here. I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere on the Earth, that my destiny was tethered to a distant, magical place.

I still have yet to find the Mars of my dreams, but I’ve only just begun my search, and I’m closer now than I’ve ever been in my little human life.



NEXT CHAPTER: CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

NEXT CHAPTER: CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

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