The Pretty Blue One

“It’s my turn to choose first, you always choose first. I want the big one with all the discs, what do you think of that?”

NASA Observatory Omaha, USA: Bill, you better get down here fast. At first we thought equipment malfunction; but it’s not! And Bill, you better call the state department and get them to wake the president.

“Brat! You know I like the discs and there was only the one. Oh well, I’ll suppose I’ll have that huge orange stripy one with the red spot.”

Civilian Emergency Band: …astrophysicists are working to understand and mitigate the effects of these unprecedented events. Citizens should stay indoors and remain calm. Gather preserved food, potable water and warm clothing. Calmly and quickly obey instructions from the military authorities in your area. The government has implemented emergency protocols to protect you and your family in these extraordinary times: do not be afraid.

“I wanted that one! Now I’ll have to take the tiny bright red one instead”

Radio Saviour, Salt Lake City: They’ve been lying to us those scientists like they always lied. But tonight the truth is clear to the naked eye. HIS truth IS clear. HE that MADE the planet Mars has UNMADE it. As in the times of Noah, water has engulfed the crowded lands of the unbelievers and HE has sent a SIGN. So this time you won’t believe the egg heads when they say ‘natural disaster’ because HE has removed a WHOLE PLANET to show you that only HE can protect you now.

“I know which one I want next: that blue one near the middle with the swirls of white and the green bits. It looks interesting. I want the pretty little blue one.”

7 thoughts on “The Pretty Blue One”

  1. Oh, this is great. I figured out what was happening by the time they took the one with the spot, and I truly loved the concept: a really strange, unexpected, undeserved, meaningless catastrophe that well and truly puts us in our place. Bruce Willis and a team of reluctant misfits won’t get us out of this, nothing will.

    I liked the disparate responses from the different authorities – the scientists panicking, the government crowd controlling, the believers inserting meaning. Well captured. I got reminded of two of my previous stories – the one about the end of the world (scientists rushing around) and the most recent one about scary preachers.

    Minor nitpicks on the preaching channel (I do realise it’s supposed to be a certain level of speaker, but still found the following a little jarring:)

    They’ve been lying to us those scientists like they always lied. – I would have put commas around “those scientists”

    So this time you won’t believe the egg heads when they say ‘natural disaster’ because HE has removed a WHOLE PLANET to show you that only HE can protect you now. – This reads awkwardly. I would not use “eggheads”… “them” is perhaps sufficient? The THEM always looms large for conspirators. Eggheads sounds slightly off tone, too childish? And the second suggestion would be to split the chunk up into two “So this time you won’t believe the egg heads when they say ‘natural disaster’. This time HE has removed a WHOLE PLANET to show you that only HE can protect you now.”

    These are minor – I really loved the story and the ginormousness of it.

    PS. Have you read “the dome”?

  2. Some super powerful beings are divvying up the planets between themselves. The planets are made to disappear: where they go, or if they even still exist, is not known. Panic ensues on Earth.

    I enjoyed the disembodied voices of the things destroying the solar system, who sounded both capricious and oblivious, rather like children. When I got to the last paragraph and Earth was being chosen, they have left us with no hope that they’ll not remove / destroy the planet. Was good.

    I was less happy with the preacher and the religion: he sounded a bit stereotypical (especially with the emphasised wording), and I had an ideological problem with the idea of a global flood happening at God’s will (that breaking the Covenant).

    I wondered a bit about what was going on, because some of the disasters seem larger than suggested by the removal of planets. For instance, the radio-preacher suggests that there has been major flooding, and the military response seemed extreme (although I put that down as an attempt to quell panicked peopled).

    Also, some nitpics:

    I don’t know how to get hold of the American president, but isn’t someone in the US contacting the state department to do so similar to one of us contacting our foreign affairs department to get in touch with President Zuma? But the line sounded great, though!

    The preacher implies that Mars was the first planet that could be visibly seen to have disappeared, but Jupiter and Saturn are both visible to the naked eye.

    I enjoyed how this piece came together, and the various voices in it trying to handle, explain and understand what was happening.

    1. I am shocked to find that Jupiter and Saturn are visible to the naked eye. As to the realism of massive tidal effects when Saturn and Jupiter were suddenly removed I just don’t know – Jupiter is 1% the mass of the sun so I suspect it’s absence would radically upset earth’s stable orbit.

  3. I love this – the childlike squabbling of the alien whatevers who are divvying up the planets is beautifully contrasted to the reality of the crisis and panic for the people actually on Earth. It’s also a very nicely judged exercise in different ways of attributing meaning – the Earth is government, is religion, is science, is a marble in a giant, inexplicable game. Very effective change of scale and focus.

    Like Jo I found “egg head” a bit jarring, although otherwise the evangelical voice worked well. I’m also not convinced of the appropriateness of the exclamation point in a NASA communication, for some reason it bugged me a bit, slightly flawed tone.

  4. This is a storybout (ahem) some god-like creatures removing planets from our solar system, and the resulting panic that it causes on Earth.

    “What they said” to a number of points: the preacher, mostly; the voice of the super-being-alien-things.
    I had a picture in my head of a board, Chinese checkers style, that they were plucking the planets from.

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