Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Originally published in Perihelion Science Fiction. Free science fiction stories, science articles, comic strips, reviews, and more, on the Internet. Every month, Perihelion presents solid stories with strong plots, intriguing characters, with a sense of wonder reminiscent of the classic science fiction pulp magazines from the ’60s and ’70s. Artwork is by award winning illustrators. Articles are by experts in their fields. Established in 1967, originally as a print magazine, by Sam Bellotto Jr. and Eric M. Jones, the magazine was revisioned in 2012 as an online publication, and has been published regularly every month since. For the best in entertainment and information, bookmark Perihelion on your favorites list.

Copyright © 2016 by Richard Wren.




Comic Strips





By Richard Wren

MAXIMILIAN DRAKE’S BLEARY EYES cracked open reluctantly. Six o’clock and he had hardly gotten four hours sleep. No point in disturbing Barbara lying valium-comatose next to him. She had been like that for hours before he had gotten back. It was her method of escape.

Viewing figures last night had been high as always but consisted mainly of heads of state and politics teachers. But then what would you expect the audience of a meeting like that to be? Ten thousand people had watched him sign the welfare bill, a hundred had been close enough to hear the scratch of the pen. A dozen had stayed observing the room as the ink dried.

Those viewing numbers were nothing. It was now that the figures would go through the roof. It still sickened him. He forced himself out of bed, and farted on his way to the bathroom. He had long since given up on maintaining any pretence of superiority. He was human. These things happen. Scratching his beard and grimacing at the mirror, he wondered again why the makeup people still struggled to work their daily miracle on his face. Thousands of people watched the patching process every morning and knew what his real face looked like. Few bothered to hide behind cosmetics any more. When everyone could see the real you, any effort beyond the needs of hygiene was a waste of time.


Mrs. Sidiqui, sitting in her Damascus kitchen, scratched at her goggles where they pressed at her temple. She had been watching the man for nearly an hour as he snorted in bed then shuffled to the bathroom. It was one of her few vices, typical of a middle-aged housewife and she felt no guilt or embarrassment. Everyone did it. Sliding her hand along the kitchen table, she searched out her cup of tea and waited for the weary man to use the toilet.

Shyam Sidiqui shut his uncovered eye so he could observe his mother better. He still had to keep half his attention on his tracking of stratospheric currents. The Met Office made use of the swarms of wild, powder-like observers that had been released or escaped from the military so long ago. They couldn’t be controlled but their observations could be accessed through the Net. They were simple compared to the nano-bugs that now infested every building on Earth.

Mum had removed her goggles now that mister Drake had moved off to another meeting. She wasn’t interested in politics. The compact eyepieces dangled from her neck, still tracking favourite celebrities, flickering from view to view as the cameras switched. She glanced down from time to time as she went about her work, not wanting to miss anything.

In his office, Shyam lost sight of Mum as the crystal insect he was accessing crawled into a gap between floorboards. Other views of the kitchen were available but instead he wondered what to view next. His manager’s office? Maybe the girls’ school? Anything goes and nobody cared. He glanced at his official task and noted the threatening typhoon that could hit Bangladesh later tomorrow. The swarm-tracking programs were very good at predictions.


Nazir Rahman, a resident of the Ganges valley, watched the predictions as well, via a beetle clinging to the wall behind Shyam’s head. He noted the time briefly in order to prepare his home before moving on, leaving the beetle to revert to its basic survival behaviour.


Lisa squelched her way to school through Scandinavian slush, half watching the hummingbirds in a garden on the other side of the world. She loved to watch them in the warm, summer sunshine. On a whim she switched to see another special view—her favourite teddy bear. It was owned by a red-haired girl on the next continent who was now too old for it and spent her time following boy bands around their private apartments.


Josh Tyne, lead singer of “The Heroes” removed his goggles carefully, not wanting to mess his famously perfect hair. The girls on either side of the bed were still engrossed in their own particular choice of voyeurism. He laid down the eyepieces and rubbed his eyes, still remembering the green-spotted woodland footpaths he had just explored, far from the clamouring groupies.

From the pillow he stared at the ceiling, wondering how many eyes were gazing at him right now.

Privacy, outside of dreams was impossible these days. Peering and snooping at neighbours both near and far was the main pastime of humanity, with total access to all views in a naked and transparent world. And everyone watched Maximilian Drake.


Drake had finished his ablutions and after receiving his pointless makeover forced a smile onto his face before leaving his rooms. There were still official photos and he might as well look good for them. Prying eyes were everywhere, judging his every step, hearing every secret muttering and grimacing at every bowel movement. There was nothing he could do without the world knowing about it. Every belch, broken election promise, and discussion was known instantly.

“The Ambassadors are ready to see you, Mister President.” His Aide directed him through to the Conference room.

Drake knew he was as good as convicted. Last night’s attempt to cut welfare was already known across the world. Ten thousand people had complained to their local representative. A hundred had organised a protest march in his home town. A dozen wealthy men had cut their funding to the party. He felt like a man heading for the gallows.

In an all-seeing world, both privacy and democracy were obsolete. Some people had voted last year, but not many.

Even the worst leader can do no harm with a million eyes watching his every move. END

Richard Wren has been writing fiction for the last twenty years. He runs an Environmental Field Centre in the U.K. and teaches biology and astronomy. His previous story for “Perihelion” was in the 12-FEB-2016 issue.


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