A Tale in 13 Words | The Fractal


FD_M1When I play with fractals, I often wonder what I’ll see when zooming deep within a figure, or surface for 3D images, especially with custom presets. This quasi-fiction piece, the format borrowed from that of my friend S.A. Barton, tries to reflect that sense of wonder…

Journeying deep into Mandelbrot’s Seahorse Valley, there were beheld strange and marvelous arabesques.

Flash Fiction: Young Festerling


It happened again. But this night was different. I had that dream again, just like I did the night of my 13th birthday a month ago.

It was that…thing again, a big, slimy, wormy-looking monster hovering over my bed, and me not being able to move or scream, just looking it in the — eyes? — before I woke up sweaty and cold that first night.

It was squealing, sighing, tittering, making awful slurping noises, and weird smells, one after the other, waving ropy arms around like it was trying to tell me something, being real quiet so no one would hear it but me.

But tonight was different.

I never told anyone, though, since one time I understood what it was saying to me…

…and I’m not afraid of it anymore. It told me what to do. So this night, I got up and obeyed it, and sent my family to heaven. Just like the monster said to. They’ll be so much happier.

The big, wormy monster rewarded me…gave me a present. It’s on my shoulder now, and I’ll keep it a secret, just between us, a sign of love…

…I can’t let people know about my new tentacle.

Future Fluff: Suthidruu Afterlife: The Truth behind the Mythology


The Suthidruu, my twistedly compassionate genocidal monastics, are given to exterminating all life in whole galaxies, one planet-buster or nova-trigger at a time. Their motivation is the belief that they are sending their victims to paradise, offering salvation, on its face a murderous delusion.

But what if they are at least partly right? What if there’s a grain of truth to it all, however warped?

What if they are sending their victims to paradise, just not to the one they actually believe in in some other dimension of reality?

In some far corner of the universe lies a red dwarf star. Enclosing that star in layers, like an onion for ogres, or a parfait for talking donkeys…

…there is a massive structure, a collection of solar collectors and computing elements…a Matrioshka brain. Within its vast network of circuits lies a virtual universe.

It is a relic of the bygone days of the Nine Who are One. It is here that paradise lies, in this massive universe-within-machine. Here, all of the destroyed species are uploaded by mind-ripper technology and here they exist as data-patterns.

In the Suthidruu’s infamous Last Rites ceremony, the neural patterns of every species on a world capable of perceiving and reacting to its environment are destructively copied. Brains and nervous systems are turned to soup, and the data uploaded to the Matrioshka brain. They reside as digital shades unaware of their predicament and existing in this virtual world for as long as the ‘brain can draw power from its star.

The mind-ripper is effectively black-box technology to the Worms, considered to be holy relics of mysterious construction.

There is no downloading to a new body, or return to an old one for the copied data-pattern. They’re stuck there, to await the company of the Suthidruu far in the future of the universe.

That’s when the Pious Worms have finally fulfilled their duty and destroyed themselves in a final mass-uploading. Only then will they know the truth behind the myth, when the patchwork nature of Paradise is revealed, its less-than-optimal simulation of the hereafter obvious in the universe’s dying days as the star powering it cools to a lightless cinder.

Future Fluff | The Maelstrom: Hyperspace Travel in Gods of Terra


The discovery that often propels a species into the community of civilizations known as the Local Galaxy is the discovery of Kurtz-Dunar field technology, and through it, access to the turbulent levels of hyperspace known as the Maelstrom — and to the stars in a reasonable amount of time — with some risk.

More a state of being than a place per se, the Maelstrom exists in the higher dimensions of 11-dimensional space-time, and so is a common means of transport through those dimensions, bypassing Einsteinian space using artificial wormholes opened and kept open through the Kurtz-Dunar field generated by a starship and its protective screens.

The radiation pressure within these wormholes is intense, enough to buffet a starship in transit, called starfold translation, and it builds up a residue of hyperspace matter particles that can result in damage to the ship and crew if within the Maelstrom for too long. This is also affected by the size of the starship and so the power needed for its drive-field, with larger vessels needing stronger drive-fields and so building up more residual particles. A ship must exit the Maelstrom before the buildup of residue reaches a critical point, and allow the residue to dissipate in Einsteinian space-time before resuming translation.

Theoretically, higher states of hyperspace may be accessed, but this is a technological feat out of reach for the known civilizations, even for the Kai’Siri and the ancient Mokthraga. The Broogh Flow, partly for historical reasons and partly because of the practical limits imposed on the size of starships accessing the Maelstrom, does not use hyperspace travel, and instead relies on sublight plasma drives allowing travel at speeds roughly 10% that of light at most.

These suspected higher regions of hyperspace might be less dangerous than the Lower Maelstrom, and may impose fewer or different limitations on ships travelling through them. The Suthidruu are thought to be one such species with access to them, the Tathladi are another, both of which have use of the mind-boggling technology of the long dead Grand Civilization of the Nine.

Those same regions of hyperspace, useful though they may be, require access to energy sources beyond the current means of the Local Galaxy, and so remain out of reach — so far.

Maelstrom travel has narcotizing and hallucinogenic effects in most species, and so the drive must be controlled by automated systems while in translation as the crew is asleep, delirious, or unconscious. Forced wakefulness in the Maelstrom often results in temporary psychosis, and permanent psychosis or dementia resulting from neurological damage in long-term exposure.

The Mirus’ starship, the Emulael Enza, is navigated by his hypershard when in translation, his mind locked in a dream-state that often allows sensory access to the higher dimensions of space-time and powerful insights not available to his waking state. It is often a time of nightmares, sometimes resulting in screaming fits as he suddenly wakes when translation is complete.

This is a powerful means of travel, despite the limitations on the size of a ship and the safety of the crew, and it is the key to the stars. With it, a civilization can make its mark on the universe, or bring about its early demise courtesy of rival civilizations it may encounter. It’s up to them.