“Our Uncle on Proxima”

The tenuous atmosphere of Proxima Centauri b contained a relatively low level of oxygen, but this made no difference to Uncle or the children. The children were engineered to breathe the concoction of gasses present, and Uncle could actually do just fine with no atmosphere whatsoever.

I wrote “Our Uncle on Proxima” in the late summer of 2017. There was a great deal of speculation about Proxima Centauri b in the media at that time, and I was fascinated with the reports and suspicions about the planet that were appearing in Astronomy and other periodicals that year. The theories and hypotheses that were (and are) swirling around about Proxima Centauri b were (and continue to be) tantalizing. 

Proxima Centauri b is the closest exoplanet to Earth and has some similar qualities. However, the planet is tidally locked to Proxima Centauri and may not retain much atmosphere. These are significant hurdles to potential habitation (and there are many others). However, I also enjoy the conjecture that surrounds the potential for humans to settle beyond Earth. I broach that topic in “Our Uncle on Proxima”, which primarily concerns an attempt to seed Proxima Centauri b  with life (specifically human) from Earth. The mission is nearly a disaster and is saved only thanks to the ingenuity of an android (who is not human but demonstrates the nobler human qualities and aspirations). 

I’ve always had a fascination with robotics and the role that androids (such as the titular character in this piece) may play in our future. Although I’m not sure that such creations will purely benefit mankind or prove our saviors (I’ll remain hopeful for now). As a public educator (please hold your applause or condemnation), I do place a great value on the strong role models that children (especially young children) must possess and, as a product of the “takes a village to raise a child” mentality myself, I sympathize with single parents. Balancing the need to provide with raising a child (or children) is simply not easy for one person, yet many single mothers and fathers are tasked with just that challenge (as is this protagonist).  

Lastly, as a history teacher, I must wonder how the perspective on our history will change in the future. Will subsequent generations value the same events and characters from history that I do? Most likely not. So, what aspects from our past will be embraced in the future? If we settle the cosmos, will the accomplishments of ancient civilizations remain significant? I don’t have answers to these questions, but I enjoy imagining the future responses to those queries. 

“Our Uncle on Proxima” appeared with Empyreome in October of 2017. Click the DNA structure below to travel 25,000,000,000,000 miles beyond Earth and several centuries into the future to visit a faithful robot and his children:

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Author: joshuajscully

That’s my picture up there. I’m not totally sure why I look so angry. I may be thinking about how much I hated the Crypt Keeper as a child. I grew up faithfully watching reruns of The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt. Unfortunately, I missed the boat in terms of writing for either of those programs. I do consider both to have been wildly influential when I think back to my earliest thoughts about becoming an author and I’m grateful my parents let me watch those shows as a kid (although there were probably some nights early in my childhood my mother wished she hadn’t let me watch those shows). If you’re familiar with either program, then you know what genres are my focus. I thoroughly enjoy science fiction, suspense, the twist ending, and some horror or supernatural elements as well. Honestly, when I was a kid the Crypt Keeper scared the hell out of me. As an adult, I’ve really learned to embrace the puns. Historical fiction is a favorite of mine as well, and the root of that is shared with my profession. I am an educator by trade, and I teach American History. I consider some of the best writing I’ve ever done to be within the realm of historical fiction and I really enjoy saturating my mind in the research end of those projects. I would make the argument that storytelling is in my blood. Even my sister mulled, very briefly (about 45 minutes), launching a career as a screenwriter! My last name is one of those Irish (and, apparently, formally Manx) ones with a wonderfully researched history -“the story-teller’s descendant”. On of the first day of school each year, I do share that “my name is Mr. Scully, and that rhymes with Kelly”, just so I do not hear the myriad of mispronunciations on the first day. Several years ago, I started a blog similar to this one to highlight my middle years as a teacher. If that aspect of my life is of any interest to you at all, you can still find that blog online. During my summers, I really have time to pursue my writing projects and this blog will highlight some of that work. My first attempts to sit down and write extensively occurred when I was 15, but only a few years ago did I make setting time aside to write a priority. I’ve also benefited wildly over the years from many willing readers among my family and friends. The direction and feedback from those individuals has been invaluable. Outside the world of the written word, I am an educator, basketball coach, lecturer, and (very, very occasionally) a landscaper. I have only ever known Western Pennsylvania as my home. Although I love a good novel, I am absolutely unable to resist the power of the short story. The latter is really what I hope to be remembered for one day.

4 thoughts on ““Our Uncle on Proxima””

  1. A good read! I liked the idea of having a caretaker for a cohort of engineered children. It not only makes for good fiction- but it’s a more realistic take on space travel. Genetically engineered humans are probably the best bet if we’ll ever visit other worlds.

    Your work is inspiring. Keep writing, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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