From the Correspondence of M. A. Johnson, as provided by James A. Conan
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye
Frontiers Journal of Xenobiology
I’m writing in regards to your issue of last month, which contained my colleague’s article concerning his recent expedition to the marsh planet, Xanthus. I’m afraid I have several errors to point out the fault of you or your publication. Professor Knight’s sense of humour is so subtle as to be virtually non-existent. As mutual friends of the good professor, you and I are both aware that Winston’s scientific rigour is equalled only by his tendency to exaggerate the hardships of his fieldwork. As a fellow scientist and an agent of the Bureau of Exploratory Sciences forbidden from publishing my findings for profit, it annoys me, along with the rest of our field, that this makes him the most published Xenobiologist in League Space. Sitting there in your nice, comfortable offices, Knight’s field reports of our research on strange planets must seem far more adventurous to you than they actually are. I ask you, when reviewing Winston’s work in the future, to keep in mind that you are running a serious research journal, not a science-fiction magazine.
Specifically, I strongly object to your publishing the tentative name of the infection I contracted during my time on Xanthus: Gonococcus palus. I’ve taken it up with my own offices on Majestique and with the Athena Institute on Helia Tertia. We are in agreement that the infection wasn’t caused by sexual contact, but rather by the sting of a native insect. We aren’t yet certain how it penetrated my pressurized environment suit during my time in the field but, upon the conclusion of a complete equipment check, a report will be available on the BES central database. This sort of thing is unfortunate but, as I’m sure you know, happens all the time in our area of expertise. Xanthus may not be the most promising world for colonization, but it is a scientific gold mine, full of new and wildly different species of flora and fauna. The BES exists to categorize these new species and publishes in the public domain in order to increase the overall understanding of natural sciences throughout the League. Turning the expedition into a joke in this way is damaging to both my credibility and that of my office. I would appreciate an immediate official retraction via the I-Space InfoFeeds, as well as in your next issue.
Marcus Aurelius Johnson
Xenobiologist and Field Operative
League of Confederated Solar Systems Bureau of Exploratory Sciences
P.S. Honestly, Terry, this is no way to act. Swamp Gonorrhoea? I don’t know where you got that. Just because I missed a date and forgot to call you the last time I was on New Plymouth is no reason to tell every single reader you have on every planet in the League that I came down with a full-body case of swamp clap on my last assignment. Winston’s my friend, but he’s a joker who’s never forgiven me for dropping out to work for the Bureau. You’re only feeding his ego and helping him continue to punish me for leaving his doctoral program for a government job. Don’t believe a word he says. I’ll make it up to you the next time I’m there. Dinner at that Namoran seafood place you like on the promenade, you have my word.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2016 collection.
Marcus Aurelius Johnson is a Xenobiologist employed by the Bureau of Exploratory Sciences, a government research department of the League of Confederated Solar Systems based in the capitol of Triomphe on planet Majestique. He graduated with a Master’s Degree from the Athena Institute on his homeworld of Helia Tertia.
James A. Conan is a 25-year old chef and writer living in Toronto, currently seeking representation for his first novel. He studied politics and international development at Trent University.
Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at www.scarlettohairdye.com.
“Love Bites” is © 2016 James A. Conan.
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Scarlett O’Hairdye.