Spaceknight Saturdays: Rom on the Outer Limits

With Rom heading into outer space, Bill Mantlo gets into an Outer Limits/Twilight Zone/EC Comics groove, using the Spaceknight as a cipher to tell SF short stories with a twist/moral type tales.

Is this a good direction for the title? It's fine for now, but the reader can't help but miss those wascally Dire Wraiths and their brain-sucking shenanigans. Sigh. Maybe we can invite them for a reunion or something.

Not to say "Ad Infinitum" is a bad story, not at all. It's crazy harsh! Check it out: It starts with Rom getting attacked by guys on flying space bikes for no good reason.
Well, the reason is that he looks like machine and they're at war with his "kind". He lets himself get hauled into their mothership to see their matriarchal leader who's just stepped out of an amateur production of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Rom wants to deal peaceably, but first he's got to overcome the language barrier. The next scene is perhaps why it wasn't such a good idea for the Galadorian think tank to build a translator in gun form.
But the matriarch's a little better than her men at reading people, and allows him to use his Babel Fish gun at them. They can then trade stories, though the matriarch lets her ship's computer explain the details. Not that it wants to. It's a machine sympathizer, you see.
It finally complies faced with the threat of auto-destruct charges, and tells the story of an overpopulated planet that looked at exploring space to find other worlds to colonize. A schism developped, however, between those who wanted to send people, and those who wanted to send automated probes.
So it's finally decided they shouldn't risk human lives and build a super-intelligent probe called Automata to the stars. However, at some point they lose contact with Automata. They presume it destroyed, but in actuality, it simply decided "screw this mission" and started to reproduce (I've seen people do that at work too). She returns with an army of like-minded missiles.
According to Automata, why look for a planet when they have one right here? So it's overpopulated. So what? Just exterminate the humans! It's a proud robot tradition. Rom thinks he can broker a peace between the humans and machines, but fighting erupts as soon as they are in view of one another.
Rom neutralizes all their weapons and flies down to meet Automata herself. She's grown fat in the last few generations.
She's clearly insane, so Rom flies out into space, places himself between the ship and planet, and broadcasts one last plea to stop the fighting.
Think of the children/microchips!!!
Ah well. I hope Rom realizes he's a soldier, not a diplomat now. Let's get back to fighting stuff. Stuff that drills holes in your skull and drinks you brain preferably.

2 comments:

chiasaur11 said...

Rom:

Awesome one man army.

Really crappy diplomat.

Prime Director said...

Rom should probably stick to poetry.

 

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