When they are stranded on the surface of a hostile alien world, two sentient robots H4NS3L-671, the military-minded combat drone, & GR3T3L-1, the advanced surveyor prototype, find themselves with neither memory nor mission.
With no resources and no one to count on but each other, the robots must learn to work together in order to endure the brutal landscape, unlock the mystery of their missing memories, and plan their own rescue, all before their power runs out.
What they don’t know is that the dangerous planet holds a terrible secret that could ruin their chances of ever escaping alive…
This is “Hansel & Gretel” told like never before. This is “GR3T3L-1.”
Targeted Age Group:: 16 – 55
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book is the next in the series of re-imagined fairytales called “Good Tales For Bad Dreams” . I wanted to put a science fiction on Hansel & Gretel and explore the concept of artificial intelligence, first contact and the socio-political implications of our growing use of technology on the battlefield, particularly as it pertains to new frontiers such as space exploration. I drew inspiration from many of the sci fi classics like “Alien”, “Blade Runner” and “Frankenstein”.
How is writing SciFi different from other genres?
Science fiction requires an inquisitive mind in order to examine concepts and their applications in great detail. Science is one of the fundamental building blocks of our knowledge and the driving force that helps us acquire, understand and apply new information about our world and our universe.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters in “GR3T3L-1” arose from the need to challenge myself. I wanted to write a story centered on two non-human, non-gendered robots and somehow make the audience invest in their journey. I used one as a cipher for one socio-political perspective and the other for it’s opposing counterpoint. Hopefully readers can identify with at least one of the characters and be able to reflect on how their view are represented in the book.
Turning end over end as they plummeted toward the surface of the planet, the twin metal crates blazed hot and white in the glow of the setting sun. They hit with the force of a small explosion, scattering red sand on impact. A thick cloud billowed up around them, shrouding their bulk as the metal cooled. Despite their landing, both crates were intact.
There was a metallic buzzing inside one of the containers and the screws that held its walls in place began to vibrate. One by one, they rotated out of their housing and floated slowly down to the red sand. There was a small click and the wall came loose, drifting away from its container. It hung in the air for a few seconds, floating in low gravity, before sinking to the ground.
A metal hand extended out from the open container, flexing its four fingers. The bronze coloured plates which made up the hand’s metal skin shifted in geometric patterns, revealing a fine mesh of sensors underneath. The hand rotated smoothly in every direction, taking readings and measurements of the surrounding area. It was joined by a small metal foot which sank its angled treads into the ground with a crunch, testing for stability and density. Once satisfied that the terrain was sound, the roughly humanoid body emerged. Its form was monochromatic, illuminated by a spread of small blue and yellow lights embedded along its chest, shoulders, arms, and legs. The motors in its neck whirred as it looked left and right before stepping out of the crate. A fine layer danced just above the surface, scattering as it bounced off the robot’s bronze metal skin.
Reaching down, the robot scooped a handful of red sediment up, allowing its tactile sensors to analyze the composition. The robot brought its hand close to its glassy face and watched the sand drift from its fingers.
The crate beside it rocked slightly, kicking up bits of sand, causing them to float outside of its metal walls. The robot watched the silent bending and crumpling of the second crate with interest. The crate’s occupant hauled itself out and plopped heavily onto the sand. This robot was a much cruder, bulkier design, covered with thick plates composed of a white ceramic composite over a sturdy frame. It was streaked with the faded remnants of old dirt and oil, which made its scratched paint lines hard to see. Its head was made up of a single, powerful lens which was shrouded by a thick, pock-marked metal housing that looked rather like a helmet. Upon exit from the container, the small satellite dish mounted on its shoulder began to rotate in search of a signal.
The second robot noticed its companion immediately. A radio transmission crackled to life between them.
The bronze one responded promptly, “GR3T3L-1: Advanced Planetary Survey Prototype.” A pause. “Who are you?”
The bulkier robot’s on-board database could not identify the bronze model, yet the barcode signature on its shoulder indicated it was made by Western Alliance Scientific Research Systems. The seams on the bronze model were flawless, a far cry from its own armoured design. In addition, its voice, as heard through the radio was much softer and smoother, possessing a tone that was almost human. The bronze robot’s face also appeared to be modeled off that of a woman, which the larger robot found a puzzling and entirely unnecessary contradiction as gendered expression was irrelevant to machines. Nonetheless, protocol warranted that it identify itself in return.
“Unit designation: H4NS3L-671, Combat Infantry Drone.”
The bronze robot scanned H4NS3L with its array of sensory lights. “Hello, H4NS3L-671.”
H4NS3L was unsure how to respond, as another had never responded with such a greeting, so it defaulted back to its limited selection of responses in place for human interaction and selected what it thought was appropriate. “Greeting acknowledged.”
GR3T3L-1 assessed its hulking companion. H4NS3L was solidly built, like an eight-foot tall linebacker made from tank parts. GR3T3L took special note of its twin shoulder mounted launchers, the larger of which carried a heavy oval gun barrel. GR3T3L’s on-board warning systems immediately identified it as a highly dangerous weapon—the Velocitas Eradico Hyper Magnetic Rail Gun or VE Gun, designed by Western Alliance Military Systems. Cross-referencing the design brought up the language database which translated the gun’s name: I, who am speed, eradicate. The VE fired small kinetic energy rounds at Mach 7 via twin rails propelled by magnetic pulses. On-board systems also found several historical military campaign videos which outlined the weapon’s successful deployment in several world conflicts including: World War IV, the United Africa campaign, the Korean expansion, and moon-based TelePrime One war. The VE had been the most devastating projectile-based weapon outfitted to all Combat Infantry models for the past 7 years, since 2129.
H4NS3L’s other launcher had a rounder, snubbed barrel with a smaller muzzle opening. This weapon would expel small beacons containing powerful telemetric arrays, allowing for instantaneous satellite communication and tracking. These were useful in the battlefield for marking targets and keeping track of drone locations.
Looking down at its own lithe form, GR3T3L surmised that it was not built for combat the way H4NS3L was. The bronze robot dug deeper into its internal database under the query “purpose”. There were a number of entries under the personal files belonging to someone named Dr. Li. Records indicated that this was the person most directly responsible for its creation. However, there were no command-level mission objectives associated with this person, so GR3T3L continued its search.
A diagnostic screen popped up on its Heads-Up Display (HUD).
[Warning. Electromagnetic surge has damaged systems. Data tracks and memory banks fragmented. Role, status, and functional memory intact. Short-term memory scrambled. Re-assembly in progress. Current location: Unknown. Mission status: Unknown. Mission objective: Unknown.]
Readouts continued to scroll across its HUD.
[Planet atmosphere analysis summation: Nitrogen/Hydrogen/Argon/Methane/Gas Unknown/Gas Unknown/Gas Unknown/Gas Unknown. Insufficient data to calculate proportional quantities. Planet surface composed of iron oxide/sulphur/mineral unknown/mineral unknown/mineral unknown. Insufficient data to calculate proportional quantities.]
GR3T3L found it odd that its database could not identify the compositional elements of the planet they were on. Surely some planetary survey team had already scouted out this environment. It would be extremely unwise to deposit two robots on a planet without having done a complete evaluation first.
“Where are we?”
About the Author:
V.M. Sawh was born in South America and grew up in Toronto, Canada. He’s had pen and paper in his hand since he was 6 years old and his first trilogy of novels was completed at age 16. Despite the urgings of his Writer’s Craft professor, he didn’t publish at the time. He’s spent the years between then and now honing his craft and engaging in all manner of geeky pursuits including assembling a ridiculous collection of graphic novels, anime and movies. He’s been featured in the Toronto Sun, won the Ontario Writer’s Conference Story Starter’s Contest, met with Guillermo Del Toro and has had his first short stories debut at #1 on Amazon.
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy GR3T3L-1 (Good Tales For Bad Dreams #3) On Amazon