A set of three speculative fiction stories with a twist of Buddhist philosophy.
Bouquet - Condemned to death for treason a pilot, who has made first contact with an alien species, gives a startling last confession.
The Eighteenth Vow - In a struggle for ultimate power, things are not what they seem.
Okasan - Is an eleven-year-old, who is obsessed with a video game, crazy or remembering something from his past?
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5.0 out of 5 stars - TRULY THRILLING- TRULY BRILLIANT
By Richard S. Friedman
A most amazing set of stories that will remain with you long after you read them- so finely written and so superbly plotted- each tale is magnificent!- Bonnie Ferrante is a writer whose eloquent prose is to be savored!!!
THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB
5.0 out of 5 stars - Original sci-fi
By Bear with a sore head
I can't say that I'm quite as enthusiastic as the other reviewers about this book. If I had the option, I'd put it at 9 out of 10 but that's still pretty good. My only snagging is on the plot development which seemed a bit thin at times. I know these are short stories and that's the nature of the beast but they just seemed a little hurried in places.
You've also got to have an interest in the philosophy behind the stories if you're going to get much out of them. Again, that's not going to appeal to everyone. However, there is no arguing that the stories are very well told and that Bonnie is a talented lady.
If you like sci-fi, want something a bit deeper and a tad more original than normal, this is well worth the purchase price.
5.0 out of 5 stars - Quick pace, deep concepts- enjoyed it!
By Megan Gregor
What a unique, layered book. From the POV to the topic matter, I was intrigued by this book and found it to be original and thought provoking. I recommend!
I want to talk about my soul, Peter. But, to do that, I have to tell you what really happened. Judge for yourself whether I’m a traitor.
Assume this room is bugged. They still don’t believe I’ve told them everything. I’m not sure if they let you come because you’re my brother and this is my last day, or because you’re a priest and I might confess I’ve given away federal secrets. The guard said you’ve been trying to see me for months. I’m sure they’ve sworn you to confidentiality, which you will follow.
The faithful Father Peter Baxter. Always true to the system. I prefer to be true to humanity. Humanity. Perhaps that is not the right word.
Here, have a cup of tea, Peter, and a biscuit. Get comfortable. Civilized, isn’t it, even without bone china? They tend to loosen up on the last breakfast. You being a holy man doesn’t hurt either, I bet. Try this jam. Bookerman’s mom sent it. It’s out of this world. It’s a bit seedy, but nourishing. We both need our strength, at least for the next twenty-four hours.
I know you’ve heard a hundred variations of the incident. Well, this is mine. We were flying south of Goose Bay. One minute I’m navigating the Vulcan, and the next I’m sitting on a soft, green floor. I didn’t feel the leaving. I was there, and then I was somewhere else. There was Bookerman, Fellini, and me, your “out to make a mark” little sister. Our weapons were gone. You’ve seen our pictures a dozen times in the news, but if you’d seen our faces then…
Fellini freaked. Started screaming about how the air force had no fucking right to test new weapons on us without our permission. For a paranoid, he could sure be naïve. Bookerman, quiet as usual, inspected the walls and floor. He was our squadron genius with security systems.
Fellini finally stopped spitting threats and made a drawn out promise to smash a few heads when he got back. Bookerman explored every nook and cranny three times over, but it didn’t look hopeful. The room was basically a box, no windows, a virtually seamless door without a handle, tiny holes in the ceiling for ventilation.
The aliens brought food and water on reed-like trays in wooden containers. They wore long gowns, like monks. Dwarfish body type. Faces hidden by large loose hoods. Fellini told us not to eat. Three aliens, three trays, three of us. Bookerman tried to jump one of our captors, but was knocked off his feet by some invisible force. They put the trays on the floor and left.
Fellini thought they were government created mutants. Too much X-Files, I think. He started talking about collecting our urine to drink.
I told him, “Not in this lifetime.”
An hour later, the aliens returned. I’m the communications expert, so I centered out the smallest captor and gave it my most dazzling smile. No response. I stated my name, rank and serial number, and then demanded to know why we were being held prisoner. The creature nodded towards the others. I heard a low hum. It turned back to me, picked a container of water from a tray and drank. The hood fell back and I almost croaked.
Tiny black eyes. Poreless, greenish skin with dark veins. No nose. Thin lips. The ear, one long crescent shape from temple to temple. It vibrated slightly when the creature hummed and the room filled with a sweet scent. You think they’re children of God. Peter? Hummers with satellite heads and floral emanation? Or, do we “have dominion” over them too?
I took the container and, against Fellini’s curses, drank the water to the bottom. It was pure and cool. I really would have preferred wine. I picked up the bread.
“Put that down, Baxter,” Fellini snapped.
I told him, "Go drink your piss," and took a large bite. At other times, we ate strange vegetables and grains, but nothing resembling meat.
I christened the smallest one Skywalker. I kept waiting for Darth Vader to walk in. After so many viewings of the old Jedi movies, I thought anything was possible.
Remember when Father Charles told us marriage was like a tricycle? The man was the large wheel and the woman and children were the small wheels. I thought, screw that. I’m never getting married. I don’t want to be a little back wheel forever. Man, I thought I could fly away from all the stupid, tight, trapped little wheels. Someday the air force would let women be fighter pilots. I’d be a twenty-first centure Leia, unstoppable. At no man’s mercy. Who needs wheels when you could have wings?
Finish your biscuit.
I tried languages, gestures, even Morse Code. Who knew how long they’d been hovering around earth? Then I attempted binary code, using my pointer fingers. Nothing. Finally, I sang the scale. They were mesmerized, hummed each note back to me, and then rushed out of the room. They returned shortly.
“Yes, we come in peace,” said the machine in Skywalker’s hand. It was a mixture of our own voices, as if they’d been taped, spliced, and played back. They couldn’t form words since they didn't have the same structure of mouth, larynx, and throat. They communicated using a mixture of gestures, pitch, and scent.
I was called a chanter. The word prisoner didn't seem to have an equivalent in their culture. They’d taken us out of the Vulcan because we seemed most likely to be comfortable on their ship and we might have common experiences which would make communications easier.
I explained a few basic needs, comfort, hygiene, personal privacy. They accommodated as best they could. I felt so powerful. The mouthpiece of the world. First contact. Then, like a D-grade movie, reality gave an odd twist.
Roswell, New Mexico, the stuff of pocketbooks, came up. The Hummers wanted information about an aircraft downed in 1947. They had taken all this time to trace it and then prepare for contact.
“The Americans’ll never give them back the aircraft,” said Fellini.
“Keep aircraft,” said Skywalker’s machine. “Want beings.”
“They just want their people back,” whispered Bookerman.
Fellini thought the word people didn’t apply. I looked at Skywalker. He formed a small smile.
I tried to explain that it was a different government, that we were expendable captains, that our chances were nil.
Skywalker hummed and a bitter smell filled the room.
“What if Washington says no?” I asked.
“We will not be glad.”
“You will not hurt us? Cause us pain?”
“Is food not good?”
“I mean, if the Americans will not give you back your people, will you kill us?”
More humming. A scent like mango and clover. I don’t think they understood the question.
I sent the message to Ottawa. Washington denied all knowledge of a downed alien air craft and ordered them to depart or else. I thought that was bloody pompous, over Canadian air space. Skywalker was confused. I explained that they were a threat to earth.
“Threat like ‘smash a few heads’?”
I snorted and looked at Fellini.
Skywalker responded,“No. Not true. Unreal. Never. Negative. No threat. No harm. No weapons. Not in this lifetime.”
I laughed. Fellini asked about the force field.
“The shell is to protect from harm,” they explained. “We did not anticipate deliberate attempt to injure. It is unknown to us.”
They took me to a separate part of the ship, to explain their systems. It was so far beyond me. I had no context. They insisted the only defense they had was a repelling shell around the ship to prevent damage. Nothing offensive. I couldn’t honestly tell if it was true, so I didn’t pass that on to Ottawa. One more nail in my coffin.
The men gave the other two names: Doc and Bashful. Maybe we had slipped into a fairy tale. I sent a flurry of messages to Ottawa.
“We have patience,” explained Skywalker. “They will understand if we find the right words.”
Each alien now had a communicator and Bookerman was deep in discussion with Doc. He was fascinated by the Hummer’s music, but I think it was meaningless without the context of scent. Fellini told him repeatedly to shut up and not give information to the enemy.
Doc solved that. He showed us the audio and visual tapes they were making of radio and television broadcasts. “If we want information, it is already available,” he explained.
Here, Peter, finish up the last of this jam. I’ve eaten all I can and I’ll be damned if I’ll let the guards have it.