Thursday, May 10, 2018

Blasters of Forever by Cora Buhlert

Release date: May 1, 2018
Subgenre: Superheroes, Time Travel

About Blasters of Forever


1985: Screenwriter Simon St. John makes his living writing toy tie-in cartoons and dreams of finally getting his screenplay "People on a Bridge" produced.

But one night, when Simon has just come up with his latest creation, a group of time travelling cops known as the Blasters of Forever, a portal opens inside his living room. Out of the portal hop none others than the Blasters of Forever or at any rate, people who look very much like them.

The Blasters explain that they are from the future, where Simon is considered not just one of the greatest creative minds of the twentieth century, but also the inspiration for the time travel program that eventually led to the formation of the Blasters of Forever.

However, not just the Blasters of Forever are real. The villainous Doctor Chronos, sworn enemy of the Blasters of Forever, is real as well. And so is his cadre of time travelling assassins.

This is a short story of 5500 words or approximately 20 print pages.




They burst out of the swirling time vortex to a fanfare of electronic music. The Blasters of Forever.
They were remarkable, sensational, awesome. More awesome than the Magnadragons, more awesome Dana Star and the Dynonoids, more awesome even than Ace Thunder and the Ultrasaurs and those had all been pretty damn awesome indeed. The Blasters of Forever, however, were the most awesome thing ever in the world of toy tie-in cartoons.
They were… plastic. Injection moulded ABS, painted in bright Day-Glo colours, studded with iridescent plastic gems and partly coated with metallic paint that was the latest nano-micro-whatever technology, semi-experimental and pretty damn expensive.
They were truly awesome. Or at least they were supposed to be. Because when Simon lifted them one by one out of the box, the big cardboard box labelled “Design Prototypes! No Unauthorized Handling!”, they looked considerably less than awesome. In fact, they looked like cheap junk. Cheap junk made by forced labour in a squalid factory somewhere in the Far East. And Simon was in charge of turning them into the most awesome thing ever, this year’s must-have Christmas toy.
Simon was good at this, good at turning cheap junk into the most fucking awesome thing ever. He’d started out with Billy Galactic and the Magicdogs, a line of stupid stuffed toy dogs that were, well, magic. All right, so they toy dogs weren’t magic at all, though they had voice chips that said things like “Abracadabra” and “Simsalabim” and broke down after roughly five hundred activations. A lively kid could go through those in two weeks.
Everybody had known that the Magicdogs were kind of naff, even the manufacturer. But Simon had come up with a story about magical dogs from outer space, stranded in an earthly dog pound and fighting crime, the sort of petty crime that didn’t freak out the censors, of course. The resulting cartoon, drawn somewhere in the Far East in an assembly line studio that was probably right next to the toy factory and offered only marginally better working conditions, had been a hit. It hadn’t quite catapulted the Magicdogs into the top 5 of Christmas toys, but it had sold more stuffed toy dogs with voice chips than anybody ever expected. Not bad for a toy everyone in the know had expected to tank.
From then on Simon played in the big leagues. The Magnadragons had been next. They were plastic dragons who changed colour when exposed to hot water. The colour-changing thing had been the hottest toy gimmick three years ago. Everyone had been doing it, even Barbie. The story that Simon had come up with was about prehistoric dragons living inside a volcano, trapped by hot magma (he’d initially misread “magna” as “magma” and by the time he realised his mistake, it was too late to change it), only to emerge in our time and fight crime.
Next came Dana Star And The Dynonoids, one of the rare action toy lines aimed at girls. They were cheap plastic dolls with garish neon-coloured hair and some kind of electric light-up action. Once Simon was done with them, Dana Star was a princess from outer space. When her evil twin Dee Dee Star usurped Dana’s throne, Dana fled to Earth with her girl pals the Dynonoids, who just happened to be cyborgs with special powers, since cyborgisation with a teen rite of passage in Dana’s world, just as a nose job for overprivileged girls was in ours. On Earth, they posed as a pop band. And fought crime, of course.
Dana Star And The Dynonoids had been a huge hit, even in the notoriously difficult girls’ action figure market. And Dana’s success had landed Simon his biggest job to date, Ace Thunder and the Ultrasaurs, last year’s must-have Christmas toy. The Ultrasaurs were dinosaurs that could transform into vehicles for reasons best known to themselves. A total Transformers rip-off, but the manufacturer had faith in the product. And they had hired Simon to come up with the story that would sell it to the public. And oh, what a story it was!
There was a palaeontologist (though Simon hadn’t been allowed to use that term — too difficult for the kiddies), the implausibly named Ace Thunder. He had a time machine — didn’t all palaeontologists? — and travelled back in time to study dinosaurs. But the evil Dr. Cyberpunk (Simon was still proud of that little in-joke) also travelled back in time to turn dinosaurs into ruthless cybernetic killing machines, because… well, that’s just what villains did, wasn’t it? Come up with really convoluted and idiotic plans to conquer the world. However, the heroic Ace Thunder saved some dinosaurs from Dr. Cyberpunk’s psychic enslavement and took them back with him to the future, where Ace Thunder and his Ultrasaurs battled Dr Cyberpunk and his Cybersaurs. It was all total bunk, of course, but no one cared about such little matters such as logic and scientific accuracy in what was in essence an extended toy commercial.
Ace Thunder was still selling well and in fact, he and Dr. Cyberpunk both had just returned to the Jurassic age to convert more dinosaurs into Ultra- and Cybersaurs, so the manufacturer could sell even more toys. But that was no longer Simon’s concern. Once the basic background story was in place, his job was done.
Now on to the Blasters of Forever, his mission for this year’s Christmas season. They were obviously time travellers, the silly name suggested as much. Of course, time travel has also featured prominently in Ace Thunder, which might be a problem. But on the other hand, cyborgisation had featured prominently in both Ace Thunder and Dana Star and no one had batted an eyelash at that. Dinosaurs and teen pop stars were sufficiently different, so no one cared that they both happened to be cyborgs.
Next question was, what did the Blasters of Forever actually do? The toys, that was, not the characters. Because whatever stupid feature the toys had — and they were almost all stupid — it had to be incorporated into the storyline. So Simon picked up the prototypes, began to play around with them a little, then thought the better of it. After all, the last thing he wanted to do was accidentally break one of the prototypes while trying to figure out what it could do. And the damn things were always so damn breakable. During his second assignment, he’d dumped one of the Magnadragons into a pot of scalding hot water and permanently messed up the colour changing mechanism into an ugly, mottled grey. And last year, he’d accidentally broken one of the Ultrasaurs halfway through the transformation into a Lamborghini. The manufacturer hadn’t been too angry, at least Simon’s clumsiness had pointed out a fatal design flaw, that might’ve led to lawsuits and kids swallowing things, if not corrected. But it had still been a costly mistake.
So he reached for the documentation that accompanied the prototypes instead. This wasn’t the sort of colourful booklets that accompanied the mass-produced toys. No this was a sheaf of loose papers, badly typed and badly xeroxed. There were design drawings, too, that might have depicted anything from a toy figure to the top secret plans for an underground nuclear facility. And finally patent applications, documenting in excruciating detail what exactly this particular piece of toy innovation could do.
It seemed they’d come up with something new for the Blasters of Forever. They were equipped with little lamps that lit up and a loudspeaker that emitted a ZAP sound. Nothing new there, Dana Star and her Dynanoids had been able to do that two years ago. But what was new about the Blasters of Forever was that the little lamp and the loudspeaker were activated by an infrared signal that was triggered when a kid hit the sensor on the figure’s chest with an infrared toy gun. The toy gun was helpfully included in the shipment as well, on the very bottom of the big cardboard box. It was a wicked looking thing of black and gold plastic that made wicked sounding noises when the trigger was pressed. The infrared mechanism that activated the tiny lamps on the figures was also surprisingly useful for switching the TV on and off — and so much cooler than the regular remote control.
When the toys went into serial production, the enclosed documentation said, every figure would also include a target disc the kids could pin to their closes to play tag with the infrared guns, should they ever get bored shooting at action figures. All of which, Simon had to admit, sounded like a really cool idea. And one that was sure to be controversial with parents, educators and the usual killjoys.
Okay. How to counter them and hopefully pre-empt any criticism they might possibly have? Hmm, shooting at action figures they would probably tolerate, after all they had tolerated it before. But shooting at other kids, even if it was just shooting with glorified remote controls at sensor discs pinned to their clothes? No way. That was glorifying violence, glorifying killing, glorifying war. Unless…
It wasn’t really killing, of course. No, the Blasters of Forever were pacifists. All toy tie-in cartoon characters were, even the bad guys. And when the Blasters of Forever zapped someone with their impressive looking blaster pistols, they didn’t kill them. No, they just… sent them back to the future, whence they all came, to stand trial for their crimes.
Yes, that was it! The Blasters of Forever were future cops, travelling through time to track down criminals hiding out in the distant past to evade the law. Of course, the criminals would be fairly non-violent folks, the sort that never did worse than robbing banks and maybe occasionally indulging in a little kidnapping and blackmail. Nothing so violent and gory that it would wake up the guardians of decency — and how tempted Simon was to at least once tag one of his supervillain groups with that name.


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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 
Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres. When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher.


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