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Chapter 1
Introduction

Alternate Reality News Service Frequently Unasked Questions

1) What is the Alternate Reality News Service?
2) Like Rush Limbaughís brain?
3) How does it work?
4) Whoa! Whoa! Could you explain that in laymanís terms?
5) How do you get the journalists back from the alternate reality?
6) That may be, but how do you get them back?
7) Iím sure itís great, but how do you get your journalists back?
8) Thatís it?
9) What happens to ARNS reporters who materialize in alternate realities hostile to life?
10) With, like, a plaque on the wall?
11) Do your correspondents ever bring back pieces of where theyíve been with them?
12) Isnít that a problem?
13) Why donít I remember any of that?
14) Whose idea was the Alternate Reality News Service?
15) Really?
16) And you accept this?
17) How can I become an Alternate Reality News Service journalist?
18) What if I have my own notepad?
19) Why are all of your correspondentsí names so long?
20)Is the Alternate Reality News Service based in Scandinavia?
21) Do you have any correspondents from, you know, any alternate realities?
22) Whatís the strangest alternate reality youíve got reporters in?
23) Whatís so strange about that?
24) All this talk of alien invasions Ė the truth is that most alternate realities are just as boring as this one, isnít it?

1) What is the Alternate Reality News Service?

Itís, uhh, a service that provides news from alternate realities.

2) Like Rush Limbaughís brain?

No. Some alternate realities are too dangerous for us to allow our reporters to enter.

3) How does it work?

We use an ion capacitance coil in a particle accelerator to collapse the quantum probabilities of atoms into a different reality than the one that we experience every day. Then, we use a wormhole borrowed from a black hole to transport our journalists between the two realities. The great thing about particles accelerated to near light speeds is that Ė

4) Whoa! Whoa! Could you explain that in laymanís terms?

Sure. We push the red button, a light goes on in the doorway and we push somebody through it.

5) How do you get the journalists back from the alternate reality?

Theyíre on a timer.

6) That may be, but how do you get them back?

Itís a really fancy timer. Digital.

7) Iím sure itís great, but how do you get your journalists back?

We offer them a free meal when they return.

8) Thatís it?

Youíd be surprised what journalists will do for a free meal.

9) What happens to ARNS reporters who materialize in alternate realities hostile to life?

They make employee of the month.

10) With, like, a plaque on the wall?

Donít be so cynical. Itís a lovely plaque.

11) Do your correspondents ever bring back pieces of where theyíve been with them?

Oh, sure. Itís hard to get alternate reality out of leather.

12) Isnít that a problem?

Can be. Funny story: one of our reporters, Alicia Grubskotowskaya, came back from a planet called Ambulster with a fluvianatole. She didnít know Ė hee hee Ė that the fluvianatole was pregnant. Well! Before you could say ďIf the three yellow suns are aligned, the day will be malign,Ē the carnivorous race had taken over the Earth, enslaved everybody and started breeding humans for their meat. (They started the human meat farms in countries that already had high levels of obesity Ė the best argument for dieting Iíve ever heard.) Oops. Our bad.

13) Why donít I remember any of that?

You donít? Oh, ahh, we must be getting this mixed up with another reality. Sorry. Still, lesson learned: donít travel with a fluvianatole unless you know itís been neutered!

14) Whose idea was the Alternate Reality News Service?

Bill Gates.

15) Really?

No. But after he bought the ARNS, he had the official history of the organization rewritten so that it would seem as though he had created it.

16) And you accept this?

In most realities, Bill Gates is a small sea slug, so it kind of all works out.

17) How can I become an Alternate Reality News Service journalist?

Not everybody can be an ARNS correspondent. It takes a special mix of nerves of steel, the intelligence to be able to negotiate with living beings who are substantially different than you are and the wisdom to know when negotiations are pointless.

18) What if I have my own notepad?

Youíre in!

19) Why are all of your correspondentsí names so long?

Theyíre Scandinavian.

20) Is the Alternate Reality News Service based in Scandinavia?

No, we just recruit heavily there.

21) Do you have any correspondents from, you know, any alternate realities?

Weíve considered using superthin 17 dimensional beings in universes with conditions that are hostile to human life. We call this our ďStringer Theory.Ē Itís still a theory because we havenít found any superthin 17 dimensional beings to test it out on.

22) Whatís the strangest alternate reality youíve got reporters in?

The one where George W. Bush wins the Nobel Prize for Peace, Love and Understanding.

23) Whatís so strange about that?

Alfred Nobel made his fortune in dynamite. Whereís the peace, love and understanding in that?

24) All this talk of alien invasions Ė the truth is that most alternate realities are just as boring as this one, isnít it?

Look, when you come home from work, do you tell your wife about the three hours you spent filling out requisition forms for photocopier toner cartridges? Of course not. You tell her about the weasel that got into the coffee pot. Yes, okay, most alternate realities are duller than Jimmy Carter. You happy, now? Okay, thatís it. Iím going to see if any weasels got into the coffee pot.

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Welcome, Science Fiction Fans!

If you came to Les Pages aux Folles curious about my writing thanks to science fiction or fan fiction, welcome! You can find the complete text of Alternate Reality Ain't What It Used To Be, +

Welcome Back My Friednishes To The Show That Never Ednishes

I now have a Facebook author/fan/whatever you want to call it page: Ira Nayman's Thrishty Friednishes. Go, look around, like it if you feel so inclined and feel free to leave a comment. I have only just started it, so it may be a little sparse at the moment, but I will add content based on what people post they would like to see. Within reason.

Would you be interested in immortality?

The Alternate Reality News Service (ARNS) has two advice columns: Ask Amritsar, a column about love and sex and technology, and; Ask the Tech Answer Guy, a column about +