Earth Inherited

a Short Tale of Planetary Plague & Astronomical Affliction

Nothing sets the tone for the day like learning your home planet has just changed ownership.

* 2nd Place Award for Humor, CIPA EVVY Book Awards 2017
* Official Selection for the New Apple Summer E-Book Award for Short Story Fiction, 2017
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Earth Inherited

Nothing sets the tone for the day like learning your home planet has just changed ownership.

Today is a day like any other on Earth. People wake and work. Minds plug into electronic devices. Social networks spark with spontaneous brain sputterings. A woman primps. A man scratches his balls. Humans relate, congregate, procreate.

And news anchors across the globe offer an ounce of vital information for every pound of mind-numbing nonsense...

Then, the figurative bomb hits. Screens are ablaze, and radio is abuzz with a news flash like no other:

Earth has been inherited. The planet has a new owner.

And he's not happy to find his endowment overrun by a planetary pestilence.

Earth gets its wakeup call. How would you answer it?

Fingertips found their way to the well-worn power button on the TV remote.  In an instant, the television ignited with life, designating the beginning of a new day and cajoling Nathan into believing he wasn't alone in the world.  And for the first time since the local morning newscast became Nathan's default just-out-of-bed viewing, his favorite addictively affable male presenter with the painted on smile wasn't smiling. 

On-screen, still as poised as a hand puppet before the subduing cream-colored set backdrop, Matt Mandigo couldn't even speak.  He was drowning in the forbidden on-air silence.

And so was Chrissy Winkins, obligatory uber-feminine counterpart solely responsible for Nathan's sudden, unwavering interest in offline news reporting.  She floundered beneath her bounty of blonde hair and bounced in her secretly worn Spanx, twisting in her seat like a toddler's tantrum about to erupt.

Still bearing his weight on the bedroom carpet steps away from the toilet he desperately needed to use, Nathan was frozen in place, balancing on bare feet.  He stood, crotch still in hand, refusing to blink for fear of missing a single, delicious detail of the television's display of genuine human discomfort.

  

Matt Mandigo's gaping mouth uttered a guttural sound followed by "and... uh... we don't seem to... have any... more information... on the..."

"Yes," Chrissy Winkins chimed in.  "I'm sure we'll be able... to... clarify... the... uh... information... when..."

"As soon as there is an update," Matt answered for her with noticeable pride.

"Yes," Chrissy added with the return of her usual beauty queen smile.  "Thank you for tuning in..."

"We've certainly enjoyed your company," Matt recited on cue, expertly managing to revert to his own wide smile, universally recognized by his viewing public as borrowed from a ventriloquist's dummy.

And Chrissy tilted her head in graceful agreement, adding her characteristic slight bow, which served up a classy, comforting view of her cleavage for her awaiting admirers citywide.

As camera number one rolled back on its track, the pair leaned toward one another for a parting parley of fake conversation.  Her smile unwavering, Chrissy whispered above her still-live mic, "What the fuck is going on?  Was that for real?"

"Can't—" was Matt's final word before his voice vanished beneath a Chevrolet commercial.

  

Still envisioning Chrissy's cleavage, Nathan found the Silverado to be a real contender for his next vehicle purchase.  His hand slid unceremoniously from his crotch as he scuttled past the TV, and his attention turned to the rogue eyebrow hair springing into view in the bathroom mirror. 

* * *

Nationwide, every member of the waning audience for live morning news programming promptly affixed themselves to their preferred online social networks, wrongfully assuming to be the first to share their witty reports and captured clips of the hilarious fumbling of their local television and radio newscasters.  Meanwhile, similar shenanigans were chronicled online and dispatched from every other nation on the planet as each viewer and listener of live news in any medium was treated to the same feast of publicized professional embarrassment.

Minutes later, the consensus on the internet was that the simultaneous botched reporting stemming from every major and minor city across the globe was the most outstanding organized prank in recorded history and therefore, likely the funniest thing to happen throughout the life of anyone lucky enough to be alive at that time. 

Hours later, giggling news anchors quoted one another as they delighted in informally bestowing the award for Best On-Air Aberration.  The United States collected the most nominations from their fellow news professionals worldwide, making programmers' decisions to drop stories of the day's local shootings in exchange for replaying YouTube videos refreshingly easy.  The providers of the videos were paid licensing fees of 5,000 GBP to 30,000 USD and quickly opened new social network accounts to rebrand themselves as professional suppliers of video footage.

Related hashtags ran rampant.  The world embraced new memes.

The original, instigating statement uttered by unsuspecting anchors worldwide was forgotten—for a time. ....

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Editorial Reviews

In “Earth Inherited” by Justine Avery, ShZ, an insectoid alien from the GrT colony, inherited the planet Earth from his mother who is the late Queen JjT. ShZ is very unhappy when he discovers that this planet is infested with foul smelling humans, who have almost destroyed his inheritance with their obnoxious habits. His own planet is having major problems, and his addiction to royal jelly has consumed almost all of the royal jelly resources there. This shortage has prevented the creation of new queens, so ShZ’s own race is in danger of dying off. Would-be queens are now workers instead of breeders because of him.

ShZ is sadly disappointed when he goes to Earth to announce his new ownership. First of all, the humans are foul and disrespectful towards him. Secondly, the planet isn’t attractive anymore due to the abuse by humans. When he arrives, he tries to talk to someone important, but he gets Nathan. Nathan’s superiors believe that ShZ is a crazy human, in costume, so they think it is funny to give ShZ to Nathan to handle. Nathan believes ShZ is a coworker in disguise and that this whole thing is a joke, and laughs hysterically. He gets a reality check when ShZ starts flying. Then he realizes the rumors are true. Fortunately, nature will solve this problem.

I totally enjoyed "Earth Inherited," I just wish it was full size instead of a novelette. I wasn’t ready for it to end! The author’s sense of humor runs wild throughout this story. She does a great job of creating quirky characters. The writing is superb, totally engrossing! I enjoyed being able to see the alien’s perspective of earthlings. Through his eyes, we aren’t too impressive! However, he is also a hypocrite for judging us, as he is responsible for almost wiping out the population on his planet because of his greedy addiction.

I have never seen issues like this addressed in my alien sci-fi adventures, so I think it is fun to be able to focus on the failings of both the humans and the aliens. There are other entertaining characters in this story, including two newscasters who also have fun roles in this story. For a great escape, “Earth Inherited” by Justine Avery is a must read!

Readers Favorite 5 Star SealEarth Inherited: A Short Tale of Planetary Plague & Astronomical Affliction is a science fiction short story written by Justine Avery. In a matter of just five earth days, momentous world-changing events took place that most certainly merited the selfies Nathan took in that conference room when he was supposed to be going out for quesadillas with his cubicle neighbor. It had been a strange week, starting with the melt-down of his two favorite anchorpersons: Matt Mandigo was inexplicably at a loss for words while the comely Chrissy Winkins wriggled in discomfort. They were not the only newscasters to have stunned their audiences with their absolute failure to deliver the canned news performances so many early-risers depended upon. There were reasons for this aberration; though earth's impending doom, or rather, the doom of earth's dominant species, was an event most stayed blissfully unaware of. Nathan wasn't quite so fortunate. His boss had decided to cancel Nathan's lunch and instead let him handle the crazy who was waiting in the conference room. The being was impossibly strange and alien, with clusters of eye lenses and unsettling facial filaments that swayed as it spoke, and Nathan couldn't help but be impressed with the intricacy of the prank that was being played upon him. He just had to get up close and get a selfie -- it would go viral and make him famous.

Justine Avery's wry science fiction short story, Earth Inherited: A Short Tale of Planetary Plague & Astronomical Affliction, is a sly and clever peek into the strangeness of that uncanny television series, The Twilight Zone, complete with an otherworldly being who has come to claim his inheritance, albeit one despoiled by the sluggish beings that have multiplied out of all proportion and Nathan, the office drone, who somehow is appointed the human representative to make earth’s first contact with an alien species. As I read this clever and sharp little tale, however, I began to see parallels and inside stories, and I wondered whether the Astronomical Afflictions could not be considered the Planetary Plagues in many respects. Avery gives the discerning reader a lot to think about in this dryly humorous tale that has some very dark aspects indeed. As with Avery's other short stories, there's often more happening behind the curtains than out on the stage, and that's a fine thing. Earth Inherited: A Short Tale of Planetary Plague & Astronomical Affliction is most highly recommended.

It seems the Earth has a new owner! Welcome to the new, wonderfully-oddball short novel by Justine Avery. First, I must admit, I’m a big fan of this writer. Her writing is off-the-wall, slightly absurd and always, ALWAYS spellbinding. It’s wordy, yes, all of her novels are, but every word is there to play with you, to trick you, and to pull you relentlessly in. This is an author who is not frightened of experimenting with her plots, her characters and her language. It’s refreshing. It’s enticing. And I love it.

Now to the plot. Is there a plot? Yes, sort of. It’s in there. But if you are looking for a plot-driven story, this is probably not for you. But what you will find is a host of splendidly-developed characters that will not only fascinate you but will also force you to think. There’s a lot of commentary hidden in here, on how the world works or, indeed, how it’s not working. But the author’s sly and has such competent writing skills, she can put over her message without the reader ever feeling overwhelmed.

But what I love the best is the comic elements. They spill from every tiny chapter and every eye-widening simile. This author is funny. But not ‘silly funny’ but ‘clever funny’. For example, when the ‘owner’ of the planet performs a waggle dance, and the author informs us, ‘The dance, however flawlessly executed, did not translate.’

I would happily recommend this story to anybody who enjoys satire and being surprised. Had a long day at work? Feet killing you? Then curl up in your bed with a Justine Avery story. It’ll make you smile.


Reader Reviews

What would happen if "God" showed up, and nobody believed who he was? What if they thought he was a big fat cosmic joke? That's basically the gist of this story. It's also one of the reasons you won't put it down until you're finished reading it.

So the character of ShZ isn't really God. He's just an alien. After his mother the queen dies, he inherits planet Earth. Now he's on Earth to claim his inheritance, and everyone thinks it's a joke, and they think he's a joke. He meets Nathan, and he assumes that Nathan is the leader of the planet, now it's time to discuss the transfer of the planet.

Honestly, this story made me laugh, and it's a good thing. The author could have taken this story and turned it into a science fiction tale and handled right, it would have worked. Instead, she chose to throw some humor into the mix, and she made it work. The writing is excellent, the story is fast-paced, and the whole thing feels like a great ride.

The whole story just works. The writing is punchy, and the author doesn't waste one detail because it's a short read. For anyone who loves science fiction, this would be an enjoyable story although it's a common plot in science fiction (aliens invade planet to take over). Fortunately, this author took the whole thing, turned it on its head, and created a short novel that is both engaging and hilarious. Well done!

Magic is the term that comes to mind first when attempting to describe the impact of Justine’s prose. She has a mastery of expression of created fantasies that ring very closely to contemporary reality – and that is the mark (or one of them) of a first class short story master/mistress.

 

....

Brilliant tale (with a message for science distrusters) told with perky style – another tune from one of our finest short story creators. Grady Harp, April 17

Very humorous sci-fi novella by an author who must be channeling Vonnegut! Quick Summary: (but in no way, a description): An Alien tries to get Earth's attention but no one gets their nose out of the internet or believes what they see when they do! What a world we live in! I have just blown through several of her short stories and this is now my favorite; however, I have one more to go!

Is reality, stranger than sci-fiction?

If you are a person that likes storytelling that gives you pause to think on deeper matters, Avery's storytelling does the trick. This read evoked some interesting personal reflection. The writing was compelling and the story was thoroughly enjoyable, made me think of Kurt Vonnegut and his storytelling. Placing the story in a "now" context, I saw a relation between this fictional offering and present reality. I found myself seeing the story as a commentary on living and what is really valuable in that living. The apparent contrasting notes of the story are the character species, alien versus human. It is their dominating thoughts we get to peruse and examine. These thoughts, feelings, and emotions shared similarities, and yet, was so different simultaneously. A very interesting read with emotional undertones, and a back story that seems to examine the sense of responsibility, empathy, and apathy in life.

Funny and enjoyable read!

Earth Inherited offers up a great twist on the classic “first contact with aliens” trope and it also manages to be a critique of hyper-media driven world we currently live in.

The story weaves in plenty of hilarious moments that recall Vonnegut in their absurdity. Avery has a knack for details and this helps the story resonate more and more. In the world of internet hoaxes and fake news everything is at once believable and totally unbelievable, with the truly outstanding discoveries seemingly taken as make believe.

Such is the case in Earth Inherited, wherein the alien ShZ comes to earth, claiming it is his royal inheritance. Only the people of earth don’t seem to take him seriously, leading to some hilarious and insightful moments. A great short read that will have you laughing and also questioning the current status quo. Recommended.

Earth Inherited by Justine Avery is a wonderful short story. It is a rather fun read that will not disappoint. This a story I would recommend to nearly anyone looking to read a nice tale.

Without giving too much away, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the level of complexity in the main characters, but especially in the insect-like ShZ, who thinks Earth is owed to him. This story goes beyond the standard fare of an Earth-E.T. encounter. Avery has taken the premise of alien invasion and turned into something strangely relatable, even from ShZ's point of view. The story is interesting from the first page, which becomes even more crucial considering the length. Avery demonstrates an ability to balance character development with plot, while maintaining a fast (but not too much) pace. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of things in ShZ's society that, while normal to them (such as the "royal jelly") they are important for us to notice, so that we can imagine their society as complex, not just a cold, faceless civilization as is the norm in e.t. fiction.

This is a well-written short story which, though brief, is full of surprises. I loved the creative use of language; here is an example, the introduction to the reader of the alien creature who has inherited the earth, “ShZ absentminedly twirled the setae on the pulvillus on his most comfortably reached tarsal segment. The sensation self-soothed as each stimulated seta secreted its oily, adhesive substance.” The idea of the earth being a resource owned by an alien race is a good one; the inhabitants of earth are blissfully unaware that their home planet is being passed down through generations of aliens, who can’t be bothered to visit it.

I was intrigued from the beginning when the anchors seemed to be in awe of something. Nathan, by far, was my favorite character. ShZ was a close second. Poor Shz, he was not ready for what his inheritance had in store for him. Nothing like having a look at something on the outside to make you appreciate what you already have - for Shz, all it took was earth. LOVED its hilarious moments.

Thoughtful and Suspenseful

I love science fiction and was sure Ms. Avery would not let me down in her new intriguing work ‘Earth Inherited’. Once again she kept me captivated and guessing. Her endless imagination never ceases to amaze me. Her attention to detail continues to bring the characters to life in this riveting tale, but it is her trademark plot twist in the end that keeps me coming back for more.

This is the first piece of work I have read from Justine Avery and I am quite impressed. She isn’t afraid to write about the shortcomings of others, or their quirks, to show how the human race really behaves. These little details she sees in others are what endear her to her readers.

When the world is invaded by an alien who thinks he rightfully owns our planet, no one takes him seriously. Shz is amazed at how the human pests have polluted the land and air. He first commands Nathan to demand that the colony work tirelessly until your inevitable death. That does not get the response he desired so he commands us to leave.

Nathan is an office worker who doesn’t take life to seriously. He goofs off at work and is disappointed when his lunch break is cut short to interview a crazy person off the street. Thinking his photo of his “alien” will make him an instant success, but doubts himself because everyone on the internet says it isn’t true.

Chilled my bones!!!

I have always loved how descriptive her writing is and this read is no exception. I love the social insight as well. :-)

Perhaps you have a faux leather-bound edition of the Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe: you know, the kind of book where the top of the pages has gilded paint on them. A home decoration. Even if you opened the book, you'd go right to the "Tales of Mystery and Horror" part -- all the old favorites are there. What you might not do is check out the "Satires" part, the rather larger part, actually. Poe satirized the mores and manners of his time for magazines, on spec. (Like most writers, he was poor and needed jobs.) The "Satires" are often as fantastic as the horror tales.

They are also funny, not a word usually associated with Poe. "The Cask of Amontillado" -- Poe's literary revenge on an unkind critic -- may serve as an example. The fact is, the style of Poe's Satires -- combining caustic wit and macabre detail -- has rarely been recalled, let alone imitated.

But here comes self-published author Justine Avery, who seems to have inherited (if she'll pardon the pun on her story's title), whether consciously or not, this Poe-like blend of grotesqueries and trenchant social commentary. Ms. Avery seems to think we're in trouble, and we may be unable to confront that trouble because we're too busy trying to capture it on our individual social media "brands". She seems to suggest that, in our decadence, we're ripe for invasion and inheritance.

A wasp-like alien king of super-intelligence named ShZ appears and gives humanity a forbidding command to "depart", but Avery declines to dramatize this in the usual way. Rather, she describes the event through the mindless readers on TV news and on the meme-worthiness of the media's confusion. Later, a character named Nathan, even after being convinced of the alien's provenance, can only summon the urge to take a selfie with the creature. Can anyone gainsay Avery's thesis? If aliens or meteors (or something more prosaic like climate change) were about to end our existence, we'd be on Twitter competing for the hottest take on the event. All is "meta". This may be a subtle nod to our current political nightmare, as well.

Our self-absorption is unconsciously mimicked by ShZ Itself, who is threatening the existence of his own species by his greed for the "royal jelly" that will help those of his kind breed (only Queens are supposed to nosh it). It should also be noted that reproductive imagery abounds throughout the tale, from a newswoman's cleavage to the "gently nursed chambers" of queen larvae.

But the details are not there to get bogged into. This is a highly metaphorical tale, satirical in intent and elliptical in its language. Avery uses a difficult, densely packed vocabulary that captures what we might imagine to be an insectile intelligence. The tone remains clinical when she considers the humans, though the words naturally become more severe and judgmental. It can be argued that we deserve nothing less.

So: mix a Poe satire, a shot of Buñuelian Surrealism, a garnish of Borgesian metaphor, and a splash of pop sensibility, and you get this utterly unique creation. But that's like the old Hollywood Pitch. The truth is, Justine Avery is her own force. Very soon, we may say of someone else that they're Averian.

5 out of 5.

* 2nd Place Award for Humor, CIPA EVVY Book Awards 2017

* 2nd Place Award for Humor, CIPA EVVY Book Awards 2017

"The CIPA EVVY Awards is an international book competition sponsored by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA), along with the CIPA Education and Literacy Foundation (ELF), to recognize excellence and achievement in independent publishing."


August 2017

* Official Selection for the New Apple Summer E-Book Award for Short Story Fiction, 2017

* Official Selection for the New Apple Summer E-Book Award for Short Story Fiction, 2017

"New Apple's Annual Summer E-Book Awards was established to award excellence in independent publishing and to honor the creative achievements of independent authors."


August 2017