Featured Guest Post: “Realistic Sci-Fi – The Best Films That Accurately Portray the Modern World” by Maria Ramos


Please welcome back to the site, Maria Ramos. You may recall her last contribution, which dealt with Contemporary Dystopian Novels that are worth reading and not part of the current, overplayed YA fad. Well she’s back, this time with contemporary science fiction movies that are definitely worth watching. Enjoy!

The world of science fiction is full of fantastical tales that have no place in reality. Some of the best stories could never happen in real life. Still, the ones that really capture our imagination are those that contain a hint of truth. These five films are fascinating examples of realistic sci-fi films that may provide a glimpse into our future.

Many films of the past have been able to accurately predict things like tablet computers, home security and automation, cell phones and wearable tech. It’s a strange thought that these objects, when shown for the first time on the silver screen, seemed so far fetched and borderline ridiculous, but today are as commonplace as a coffee maker. Let’s take a look at some of the films that have gotten it disturbingly right in their predictions.

Metropolis (1927):
This film from the 1920s is set in a seemingly perfect city filled with wealthy people living a charmed life, with no idea that a vast population of oppressed workers are forced to stay underground, operating the machines that keep life going for the upper class. Although created decades before the advent of computers or even television, Metropolis predicted video calls through programs like Skype with its “television phone,” which characters in the movie use to communicate.

The Andromeda Strain (1971):
This film based on the novel by Michael Crichton tells the story of an alien virus that comes into contact with humans, mutating as it goes, almost destroying civilization. From biological warfare to satellites and laser weaponry, a lot of what is used throughout The Andromeda Strain mirrors the technology we have available to us today. Even the premise of the movie in general is not completely outlandish; microbiologists believe that it is possible that we may one day contract an extraterrestrial disease. If that were to happen, it’s unclear whether we would have the tools to combat it.

Gattaca (1997):
The premise of this 1997 flick may seem completely impossible: society is structured based on genetic sequencing, which reveals everyone’s genetic makeup. Clear lines are drawn, giving those who are genetically superior special privileges over everyone else. The discrimination the main character faces for his inferior dreams isn’t yet a reality, but as we work towards sequencing complete genomes, we will find ourselves closer to uncovering the secrets of our genes, and the consequences of this knowledge may not all be good. The film’s basic premise echos the recent controversy surrounding genetic testing to detect cancer.

Interstellar (2014):
In this movie, the world has become uninhabitable due to drought brought on by global warming, forcing mankind to search for somewhere to live. Although we haven’t reached this point, scientists stress the very real possibility of climate change ending life on Earth. If this were to happen now, humanity would be doomed, since we haven’t quite mastered the art of long-distance space travel yet. Still, scientists say that a trek on the scale of the one taken in Interstellar is possible. Ideas for how to accomplish this are still being explored, but thermonuclear fusion, light sails and gravitational slingshots are all potential solutions.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015):
One of this year’s most popular films is also one of the most noteworthy as far as realism in science fiction goes. While apocalyptic settings aren’t uncommon in sci-fi, the psychology of the characters in Mad Max: Fury Road is unique. Instead of the stereotypical hero who beats the villain and gets the girl, Max shows the kind of psychological damage you might expect in a harsh environment like the apocalypse. The other people in the movie also show the influence of this trauma through their behaviors, making for a realistic portrayal of what the end of the world might really be like.

Scientifically accurate sci-fi can both educate and inspire its viewers. Films like the ones listed above offer a window to the future, letting us see what might happen if we continue on the path that we are on. These predictions are sometimes an encouragement to innovate, but also sometimes a warning to change course before it’s too late. Either way, realism in science fiction makes for quality films that can be enjoyed for decades to come.


The Fate of Humanity

the-futureWelcome to the world of tomorroooooow! Or more precisely, to many possible scenarios that humanity could face as it steps into the future. Perhaps it’s been all this talk of late about the future of humanity, how space exploration and colonization may be the only way to ensure our survival. Or it could be I’m just recalling what a friend of mine – Chris A. Jackson – wrote with his “Flash in the Pan” piece – a short that consequently inspired me to write the novel Source.

Either way, I’ve been thinking about the likely future scenarios and thought I should include it alongside the Timeline of the Future. After all, once cannot predict the course of the future as much as predict possible outcomes and paths, and trust that the one they believe in the most will come true. So, borrowing from the same format Chris used, here are a few potential fates, listed from worst to best – or least to most advanced.

1. Humanrien:
extinctionDue to the runaway effects of Climate Change during the 21st/22nd centuries, the Earth is now a desolate shadow of its once-great self. Humanity is non-existent, as are many other species of mammals, avians, reptiles, and insects. And it is predicted that the process will continue into the foreseeable future, until such time as the atmosphere becomes a poisoned, sulfuric vapor and the ground nothing more than windswept ashes and molten metal.

One thing is clear though: the Earth will never recover, and humanity’s failure to seed other planets with life and maintain a sustainable existence on Earth has led to its extinction. The universe shrugs and carries on…

2. Post-Apocalyptic:
post-apocalypticWhether it is due to nuclear war, a bio-engineered plague, or some kind of “nanocaust”, civilization as we know it has come to an end. All major cities lie in ruin and are populated only marauders and street gangs, the more peaceful-minded people having fled to the countryside long ago. In scattered locations along major rivers, coastlines, or within small pockets of land, tiny communities have formed and eke out an existence from the surrounding countryside.

At this point, it is unclear if humanity will recover or remain at the level of a pre-industrial civilization forever. One thing seems clear, that humanity will not go extinct just yet. With so many pockets spread across the entire planet, no single fate could claim all of them anytime soon. At least, one can hope that it won’t.

3. Dog Days:
arcology_lillypadThe world continues to endure recession as resource shortages, high food prices, and diminishing space for real estate continue to plague the global economy. Fuel prices remain high, and opposition to new drilling and oil and natural gas extraction are being blamed. Add to that the crushing burdens of displacement and flooding that is costing governments billions of dollars a year, and you have life as we know it.

The smart money appears to be in offshore real-estate, where Lillypad cities and Arcologies are being built along the coastlines of the world. Already, habitats have been built in Boston, New York, New Orleans, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and the south of France, and more are expected in the coming years. These are the most promising solution of what to do about the constant flooding and damage being caused by rising tides and increased coastal storms.

In these largely self-contained cities, those who can afford space intend to wait out the worst. It is expected that by the mid-point of the 22nd century, virtually all major ocean-front cities will be abandoned and those that sit on major waterways will be protected by huge levies. Farmland will also be virtually non-existent except within the Polar Belts, which means the people living in the most populous regions of the world will either have to migrate or die.

No one knows how the world’s 9 billion will endure in that time, but for the roughly 100 million living at sea, it’s not a going concern.

4. Technological Plateau:
computer_chip4Computers have reached a threshold of speed and processing power. Despite the discovery of graphene, the use of optical components, and the development of quantum computing/internet principles, it now seems that machines are as smart as they will ever be. That is to say, they are only slightly more intelligent than humans, and still can’t seem to beat the Turing Test with any consistency.

It seems the long awaited-for explosion in learning and intelligence predicted by Von Neumann, Kurzweil and Vinge seems to have fallen flat. That being said, life is getting better. With all the advances turned towards finding solutions to humanity’s problems, alternative energy, medicine, cybernetics and space exploration are still growing apace; just not as fast or awesomely as people in the previous century had hoped.

Missions to Mars have been mounted, but a colony on that world is still a long ways away. A settlement on the Moon has been built, but mainly to monitor the research and solar energy concerns that exist there. And the problem of global food shortages and CO2 emissions is steadily declining. It seems that the words “sane planning, sensible tomorrow” have come to characterize humanity’s existence. Which is good… not great, but good.

Humanity’s greatest expectations may have yielded some disappointment, but everyone agrees that things could have been a hell of a lot worse!

5. The Green Revolution:
MarsGreenhouse2The global population has reached 10 billion. But the good news is, its been that way for several decades. Thanks to smart housing, hydroponics and urban farms, hunger and malnutrition have been eliminated. The needs of the Earth’s people are also being met by a combination of wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and fusion power. And though space is not exactly at a premium, there is little want for housing anymore.

Additive manufacturing, biomanufacturing and nanomanufacturing have all led to an explosion in how public spaces are built and administered. Though it has led to the elimination of human construction and skilled labor, the process is much safer, cleaner, efficient, and has ensured that anything built within the past half-century is harmonious with the surrounding environment.

This explosion is geological engineering is due in part to settlement efforts on Mars and the terraforming of Venus. Building a liveable environment on one and transforming the acidic atmosphere on the other have helped humanity to test key technologies and processes used to end global warming and rehabilitate the seas and soil here on Earth. Over 100,000 people now call themselves “Martian”, and an additional 10,000 Venusians are expected before long.

Colonization is an especially attractive prospect for those who feel that Earth is too crowded, too conservative, and lacking in personal space…

6. Intrepid Explorers:
spacex-icarus-670Humanity has successfully colonized Mars, Venus, and is busy settling the many moons of the outer Solar System. Current population statistics indicate that over 50 billion people now live on a dozen worlds, and many are feeling the itch for adventure. With deep-space exploration now practical, thanks to the development of the Alcubierre Warp Drive, many missions have been mounted to explore and colonizing neighboring star systems.

These include Earth’s immediate neighbor, Alpha Centauri, but also the viable star systems of Tau Ceti, Kapteyn, Gliese 581, Kepler 62, HD 85512, and many more. With so many Earth-like, potentially habitable planets in the near-universe and now within our reach, nothing seems to stand between us and the dream of an interstellar human race. Mission to find extra-terrestrial intelligence are even being plotted.

This is one prospect humanity both anticipates and fears. While it is clear that no sentient life exists within the local group of star systems, our exploration of the cosmos has just begun. And if our ongoing scientific surveys have proven anything, it is that the conditions for life exist within many star systems and on many worlds. No telling when we might find one that has produced life of comparable complexity to our own, but time will tell.

One can only imagine what they will look like. One can only imagine if they are more or less advanced than us. And most importantly, one can only hope that they will be friendly…

7. Post-Humanity:
artificial-intelligence1Cybernetics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology have led to an era of enhancement where virtually every human being has evolved beyond its biological limitations. Advanced medicine, digital sentience and cryonics have prolonged life indefinitely, and when someone is facing death, they can preserve their neural patterns or their brain for all time by simply uploading or placing it into stasis.

Both of these options have made deep-space exploration a reality. Preserved human beings launch themselves towards expoplanets, while the neural uploads of explorers spend decades or even centuries traveling between solar systems aboard tiny spaceships. Space penetrators are fired in all directions to telexplore the most distant worlds, with the information being beamed back to Earth via quantum communications.

It is an age of posts – post-scarcity, post-mortality, and post-humansim. Despite the existence of two billion organics who have minimal enhancement, there appears to be no stopping the trend. And with the breakneck pace at which life moves around them, it is expected that the unenhanced – “organics” as they are often known – will migrate outward to Europa, Ganymede, Titan, Oberon, and the many space habitats that dot the outer Solar System.

Presumably, they will mount their own space exploration in the coming decades to find new homes abroad in interstellar space, where their kind can expect not to be swept aside by the unstoppable tide of progress.

8. Star Children:
nanomachineryEarth is no more. The Sun is now a mottled, of its old self. Surrounding by many layers of computronium, our parent star has gone from being the source of all light and energy in our solar system to the energy source that powers the giant Dyson Swarm at the center of our universe. Within this giant Matrioshka Brain, trillions of human minds live out an existence as quantum-state neural patterns, living indefinitely in simulated realities.

Within the outer Solar System and beyond lie billions more, enhanced trans and post-humans who have opted for an “Earthly” existence amongst the planets and stars. However, life seems somewhat limited out in those parts, very rustic compared to the infinite bandwidth and computational power of inner Solar System. And with this strange dichotomy upon them, the human race suspects that it might have solved the Fermi Paradox.

If other sentient life can be expected to have followed a similar pattern of technological development as the human race, then surely they too have evolved to the point where the majority of their species lives in Dyson Swarms around their parent Sun. Venturing beyond holds little appeal, as it means moving away from the source of bandwidth and becoming isolated. Hopefully, enough of them are adventurous enough to meet humanity partway…


Which will come true? Who’s to say? Whether its apocalyptic destruction or runaway technological evolution, cataclysmic change is expected and could very well threaten our existence. Personally, I’m hoping for something in the scenario 5 and/or 6 range. It would be nice to know that both humanity and the world it originated from will survive the coming centuries!

New Theatrical Trailer: Interstellar

interstellar_2014This weekend, when the Godzilla remake will be screening, audiences will be treated to another first. After wrapping up with the Dark Knight series, Christopher Nolan has taken a different route with this next project, title Interstellar. And with this latest theatrical trailer, moviegoers will finally see exactly what his new film is about. Basically, in the not-to-distant future, a global food crisis hits Earth, and to find solutions, humanity must look to the stars.

That’s the bare bones of it at any rate.  To be more specific, the plot revolves around Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his family. A former pilot and engineer who has had to turn to farming to feed his family, Conner finds himself being called upon to take part in an expedition in order to find a new place for humanity to live. As Michael Caine’s character is quoted as saying: “We’re not meant to save the world, we’re meant to leave it.”

Embracing such things as Climate Change and the public’s growing fascination with space exploration and the next great leaps humanity is likely to take, Nolan has announced his return to the world of epic space-exploration. And between the scenes of gritty desolation seen on planet Earth, to the majestic grandeur of the scenes set in space, it’s clear that Nolan is well suited to the medium, being a director who’s well known for his stunning visuals and ability to create atmosphere.

The Council of Muraqaba – Part I

HD_85512_b_(Artists's_impression)Hello all! Now that I’ve finally finished with all my edits and revisions for Papa Zulu, I thought I might get back on the science fiction train and start working on some the ideas that have been piling up in my memory folder. Awhile back, I began proposing dusting off an old idea – the Council of Muraqaba – and making it see light again. And today, I managed to put the finishing touches on the first installment.

To recap, the story takes place in the distant future and is part of the Legacies universe I came up with many years ago. In this universe, Muraqaba is a colony that grew up around an institution started by Sufis seeking relief from the intense and rapid pace of progress taking place in the Core. However, over the course of many generations, it became an interfaith institution connected to the rest of the universe.

Within the Council, all matters pertaining to faith, belief, practice and the spirit could be contemplated and ironed out. People of all walks of life and faith were free to set up an annex in the place, either physically or virtually, and eventually, it would become a beacon for the establishment of a universal religion. But in this particular story, the institute becomes the site of something much more interesting.

Contact with a presence that is something else entirely. After generations of leading all of humanity in the contemplation of higher things, it seems a higher intelligence wants in on the discussion…

gliese-581-ePlanet Muraqaba, Gliese 581 d
Sol 66, 2278

“If the Qutb is indeed the pole and axis of the universe – a man through whom divine grace did flow – does it follow that men who demonstrated wilaya would have been invincible to attack?”

The specter of Mahdi Grasciano peered intently at the others in the circle, each of which had been rendered flawlessly amidst the background of the Rifa’i. At the moment, the prayer hall was bathed in the faint glow of artificial light, courtesy of the floating embers that ensured the circle could see each other clearly now that nighttime had fallen on the Mosque in real-time.

Standing on the far side of the circle, Imam Selvanayagam hummed thoughtfully and formulated a reply to this latest challenge.

“It does, necessarily, follow. The Qutb could not have been harmed by men, being under the protection of God.”

Grasciano was quick to jump on that:

“Alas, Mohammed, the example of the armed prophet, was unvanquished by men. But Jesus, Socrates, Siddhartha Gautama, and all other candidates mentioned here today, did not share that fate. They succumbed to treachery, judgement, and poisoning, thus demonstrated that they were of mortal condition.”

Imam Koteib, who had been standing quietly by the northeast column, chose to intervene on this point:

“And yet, in An-Nisa, it clearly states ‘but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise.'”

Selvanayagam spoke again.

“Such a circumstance pertains to this one of God’s Prophets, but can it be said to extend to those others as well?”

The heads in the circle turned to Zahawi, who stood at to the south-west end of their circle. Being their host, the one who had selflessly offered the Rifa’i prayer hall to conduct it, his was the place of honor – his back facing towards holy Mecca.

Scratching at the white, wispy beard that covered his chin, he offered what insight he could. “Such a condition could be said to apply, in that all such men triumphed over death in their own fashion. Who can remember the names of the Athenian statesmen who sentenced Socrates to death. And did Sidharta’s wisdom not live on in the absence of his corporeal being?”

Yusuf finally saw an opportunity to offer a point of consensus and spoke from his spot at the east end. “Indeed. Shall it be agreed upon then that the condition of death does not rule out the existence of sanctity?”

“It so shall…” Koteib said, nodding. Grasciano smiled and appeared ready to reply, but the smile quickly faded. His next words sounded almost like a pained admission.

“Hmm, I’m not sure where that leaves us.”

Zahawi also began to look grave and added his voice to Grasciano’s. “Indeed. Have we determined the existence of Qutb, or merely found a way to redefine it?”

A pause followed as each specter groped for something more to add, a comment or illumination that might break the deadlock. Eventually, a number of the Imams began to laugh. There seemed little else to do under the circumstances. Many times, expounding on such matters only served to cloud them further, expanding upon the mystery rather than dispelling it.

One could only laugh in the face of such irony, and perhaps conclude that divine obfuscation was at work. In any case, the debate had run its course, a sort of consensus settling in after many hours of discussion. It now fell to Yusuf to conclude the transmission.

“I would like to thank you all, masters of your turuqs, for your continuing participation in these majalis. In so doing, you are a part of the greatest ongoing spiritual dialogue our species has ever conducted.”

“As-salamu alaykum,” the Imams said in near-unison. Yusuf replied in kind.

“Wa alaykumu al-salam.”

They concluded with the dhikr, citing the appropriate verses and repetition of His name. The simulation began to fade a moment later – the elaborate stone walls and flickering light from the suspended aerodrones that marked the interior of the Rifa’i slowly retreated from his consciousness and was replaced by his true surroundings.

Yusuf became aware of the room, the tall metal panels and the lighting that emerged from behind them, and the cool air like a man waking up from a dream. His mind responded to it all like a harsh reality intruding upon quiet sleep.

As always, he sat on the room’s central dais with his legs crossed, but his knees ached as if he had been upright for some time. The sensation of being offworld was so immersive that he truly felt that he had been standing for hours in an entirely different setting. But of course, that was the point of the experience, and an ongoing cause of concern amongst the more conservative elements in their turuq.

The sound of the door opening behind caught Yusuf’s attention. He turned his head just in time to see Mansur appear in the open doorway.

“Maruf!” he said informally, smiling. “You’re timing is impeccable.”

“I know, Master. I waited until you were finished. I did not wish to disturb you while you were conferring with the others.”

Yusuf slowly stood up and tried his best to hide the sudden sense of chagrin he felt.  It was sometimes difficult to tell how just long a session lasted. Even without the effects of dilation and correcting for local time, hours could feel like days. And knowing Mansur, he could be expected to wait indefinitely.

“So what can I do for you, Maruf?”

“It’s Lusserer, master. She asked that I come find you.”

“Ah, and what does the lady of technical support require of me?”

“Well, sir…” he said delicately. “It’s the signal. We seem to experiencing some trouble.”

“Trouble?” Yusuf stopped, turned to face him. “That’s a little vague, Maruf. Care to elaborate?”

“She did not say,” he replied. “In all truth, master, I don’t think she’s quite sure what the problem is either.”

Yusuf suppressed a scowl. Any sign of misgiving was likely to be taken on by the young Mansur, who was in the habit of taking on his master’s moods and amplifying them by varying degrees. He tried to sound as calm and even as possible as he replied.

“Then I shall go to her forthwith, and see what I can do to help.”

“She would be most pleased by that, I’m sure,” Mansur said and smiled happily. He stood there for a moment, idle and twitchy, as if expecting something more. Another quirk of the young man, always in search of a duty, and always in need of being dispatched before he could tell that a conversation had run its course.

“Perhaps she and I could do with some tea. Would you fetch us some and meet us in the ISIS lounge?”

“Certainly, master!” said the young man, quickly slapping his hands together and issuing a short bow. He was gone quickly after that, letting Yusuf address his own thoughts in private. At the moment, he only had two, and they were vying for just about every inch of his cortex.

A problem with the interstellar array and Lusserer is at a loss, he thought. This must be something of consequence…

New Movie Trailer: Interstellar

interstellar-teaserposterI came across this trailer recently, thanks again to my bud over at Ellipsis Media. And although the clip is short, it does manage to intrigue and fascinate. And as the name would suggest, the movie is all about space exploration in the not-too-distant future, where humanity suddenly finds itself able to bridge the vast distance between the stars for the first time ever.

Here is the commercial description, courtesy of MOVIECLIPS:

Interstellar chronicles the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

The movie is set for release in November 7th, 2014. Christopher Nolan is the director (Inception, Dark Knight trilogy), and the film has an all-star cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace and Michael Caine. Enjoy!

My Sci-Fi Drugs!

Hey all, again! Last time I talked about drugs and sci-fi, I mentioned all the examples I could draw from classic science fiction franchises. Today I thought I’d share the one’s I came up with myself, which were partially inspired by some of the examples I mentioned. They all come from the same place, known as the Legacies universe. This is the setting of my short stories, Eyes in the Dark, Flights of the Icarus, Turncoats and Vega Rising. I’ve listed them based on where they emerged in the course of the expanded storyline. Here they are:

Adapted from THC and multiple strains of genetically modified cannabis, Tar is the street name for a form of superhash that grew in popularity during the 21st century. Widely used as an inhalant, usually with the help of a vaporizer, it can also be consumed in solid or liquid form.

With the development of stronger and more effective synthetics, the use of Tar and other cannabis drugs diminished by the late 21st century. However, the drug remained in use well into the late 22nd century and was even a source of income for remote agricultural colonies.

Though it never constitutes more than a small portion of the interstellar drug trade, Tar remains a controlled substance on many worlds. However, authorities have often been known to turn a blind eye when it comes to enforcement. In some port cities, it is even legal and distributed by licensed authorities, often in the same places where one can purchase Tröpic (see below).

By the mid-21st century, deep-space mining operations and off-world colonization began in earnest As a result, private and governmental aeronautics agencies began collaborating on a drug that would ensure their pilots would stayed sharp at the helm and passengers could be brought out of cryosleep and assume their duties without a lengthy recovery period.

Thus the designer drug EBME (endormorphinbenzoylmethylecgonine)was created, aka. “Shine”. Chemically engineered to be a stimulant devoid of side effects, with the exception of a mild euphoric state, the drug became widely used by miners, spacers, and those forced to enter into cryosleep for long journeys through space.

However, it did not take long for long-term effects, such as growing dependency, mood swings, hallucinations and even psychosis to become evident. In controlled use, Shine was a relatively harmless drug with obvious benefits and a low likelihood of chemical dependency. Unfortunately, the psychological addiction factor was underestimated and non-commercial (i.e. recreational) use became widespread.

By 2137, the development of the FTL subspace drive system meant that Shine was no longer needed for as cryosleep slowly became obsolete. Thus the UNE officially made Shine illegal on Earth, while colonial administrations, under the Directorate’s power, were slower to respond. It was felt that with the lives of colonists, often marked by hardship and tough conditions, required a little “chemical cheer” to keep things running smoothly.

It was not until the late 22nd century that Shine was officially banned in every corner of the known universe. It remains a popular black market item on every colonized world and the distribution of it is usually handled by one syndicate or another. The most notable of these are the Akuma, the Sadruzhestva, the Lumbre and the Shé, who are responsible for the distribution of this and other drugs on the inner colonies.

In all times, a little departure from reality is always sought after. And if that departure should take you to a place renowned for its bright colors and ecstatic feel, so much the better! That was the idea behind MDD (methylenedioxydiethylamide), otherwise known as Tröpic. Although it is unclear how and where it first appeared, this powerful hallucinogen was in widespread use by the late 21st, early 22nd century.

Initially, its use was confined to Earth to the Solar colonies, where bohemian art cultures and psychedelic music gave rise to Tröpic clubs. In time, the practice of combining this drug with the music scene, specifically music geared to stimulate users (known as trope), became widespread throughout the inner colonies. However, within the outer colonies, where conditions are harder and there is less of an “artistic scene” to speak of, it is considered somewhat pretentious!

The development of cybernetics as a commercially-available option also led the emergence of new drugs. In this case, it was the medicinal narcotic known as Enkavelazepam, a drug designed for the maintenance and regeneration of nerve tissue after cybernetic surgery. Patented for use on many worlds, this drug was also known by the trade names shinkei, koltaziz and nevrikon, and the street name Sharp.

Though it was never officially banned, recreational use of the drug is considered a crime on all colony worlds, particularly when used in conjunction with Pump or Juice to achieve performance enhancing effects. In addition, it would often be used on its own by mercenaries, enforcers and anyone who’s livelihood depended on sharp reflexes and fast reactions.

Here we have another example of a drug that began as a legal substance designed to combat the effects of deep space travel. During the 21st and much of the 22nd century, spacers were forced to travel for extended periods of time in low-gravity of zero-gravity environments. Even with the invention of the subspace engine in 2137, artificial gravity was not an option until several decades later.

As a result, Luyten corporation, a shipping magnate, mandated the use of Hydorzene, a synthetic steroid that promoted muscle growth and bone density. Going by its street name “Pump”, the drug began a wide system of black market distribution, being used by everyone from professional athletes to bodyguards and hired muscle.

Paired with other enhancing substances, such as Sharp and Juice, the term “Juicer” emerged to describe anyone who underwent artificial muscle enhancement.

Much like Pump, Juice was a synthetic steroid and growth hormone that was developed for commercial use. However, in this case, the developer was the TDF (Terran Defense Forces) who developed it give their soldiers the ability to carry heavy weapons and equipment, as well as the ability to function in high-gravity environments.

Naturally, this drug was also made available alongside Pump for civilian use, particularly among planetary miners. Much like military personnel, these were people for whom added strength and the ability to withstand gravity in excess of 1 g was not only desirable but necessary to survive.

Use of the drug was short-lived however, as lightweight nanomaterials and the development of mechs and exoskeletons eliminated the need for augmented strength. But once again, the black market was quick to pick up the slack and ensure that the drug maintained production and was available to all those willing to use it.

By the early 22nd century, the popularity of Tröpic led to the development of even more powerful psychotropics. One such development was known as Oblivion, a Hermian invention which was apparently designed in a chemical engineers own home, presumably in an attempt to attract the attention of the Akuma.

Named in honor of its chief effect, helping its users to achieve oblivion, this inhalant became all the rage amongst connoisseurs and the underclass alike. Reported users quickly became addicted due to the drugs tendency to induce powerful visions, usually of transcendent phenomena or death. It is for this reason that Oblivion has been reported as being used as part of religious ceremonies within several cults and sub-sects as well.

Aside from its addictive nature, side effects include a diminished ability to distinguish reality from fantasy, waking visions, psychosis, and delusions of a messianic nature. It is also for this reason why Oblivion remains a banned substance on all colonized worlds, and the manufacture and distribution of it remain a bone of contention between the Akuma and Sadruzhestva cartels.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the pharmaceutical drug known as Neurozene. Known by its street name “Blinding Light”, this painkilling neurostimulant saw widespread use after it was invented during the early-mid 22nd century. Originally developed as a surgical painkiller, neurozene was different from hydromorphone or diacetylmorphine in that it blocked pain and triggered euphoria through the targeted stimulation of neurons in the brain.

Unlike other drugs, the syndicates do not maintain much in the way of control over this drug’s distribution. Since it is not physically addictive and remains legal and regulated for medicinal use, it is not typically sought after by users and underworld elements very much. For the most part, recreational use is limited to those looking for a positive high without much in the way of side effects.

Well, that’s my list of fictional drugs, all written up by me some eight years ago. I’ve added some here and there, but the core group remains the same. Assuming people don’t mind hearing about sci-fi stuff that strictly mine, I think I’ll do one or two more. I’ve had awhile to invent this stuff, so there’s a fair bit to share ;)!