Tag Archives: Fiction

Lyapunov’s Children | Inaugural Post


JyapunovsChildren

Ikktighar furiit (greetings). Yesterday morning I posted my first fiction installment in my Hard SF setting Lyapunov’s Children, building the setting one story at a time.

Post-installment, I can now say more clearly both what it is not, and what it is.

1. It is a far cry from my earlier Gods of Terra setting, and there are no (blatantly objectionable to already overworked physicists) violations of known physical laws, no pseudo-scientific paranormal abilities, no “Ancients” like those of the Traveller RPG setting, or my own “Nine Who are One,” and no overt Lovecraftian elements, though horror-genre fiction is possible in the setting, just nothing supernatural. Oh, and there are no centralized interstellar empires, as due to the limits of physics and distance, that’s simply not practical.

2. It instead offers an optimistic look into the far future of our descendants, seamlessly continuous with the possibilities of future human evolution as we currently understand it. These post-humans, the “Lyapunov’s Children” of the setting, have spread to the stars, and despite the limits of physics, contact between these post-humans (of many, many lineal branches of archaic Homo sapiens) and alien civilizations are a real possibility. Our future offspring have yet to encounter an extant one, but have found ruins of failed civilizations at least twice, snuffed out by their own stupidity, their worlds originally located by radio-astronomy in our own near future.

So that’s it so far. I’d like to add details on the post-human species of the setting, but I want to focus more on stories themselves, as characters come first, not what they look like or what adaptations they have.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Caturday’s Astrophenia | Lyapunov’s Children: In Transit


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This fortnight I thought I’d do something a long time in coming, my first piece of Lyapunov’s Children fiction. I think it would be best if I build the setting piece by piece, one story at a time. It’s a far cry from Gods of Terra, with almost none of the Lovecraftian in it, but better for it still.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Laksima stood at her watch-station on the old vessel, a sublight colony ship sent out from the sacred mother planet thousands of cycles ago. She was not one of the old humans, but those were few and far between now. No, she was something different, something new. The conditions of deep space had altered the genome of the descendants of the original crew, creating another daughter species of now-archaic Homo sapiens.

Humans, that ancient species whose technological developments led to the full flowering of post-human descent, spreading from beyond sacred Earth to the stars.

Laksima was to keep watch at the monitor for any signs of cometary bodies, chunks of rock and dirty ice that could pulverize the rickety, ancient vessel on impact. The ship had just entered the Oort cloud of the target system, tail-first while decelerating since mid-journey.

There was something wrong with the virtual display, icons dancing across her vision as the ship slipped between distant icy fragments this far out from the system’s stellar primary. There was something wrong because ice fragments were not supposed to move this way. There were laws of orbital mechanics they had to obey, and yet they were not.

A quick scan revealed a dense core to one of the bodies, tens of thousands of kilometers out, and closing quickly. Whatever it was, it was not a chunk of comet, nor did it seem to approach at an attack vector, and it was slowing down. Laksima ran through the checklist of options available, chose to scan it for signs of alien tech.

Humanity’s descendants had encountered the remains of alien civilizations before, at least twice, both in ruins, with one of them reduced to savagery and the other mercifully extinct.

Yes.

The object, whatever it was, was radiating strongly in terahertz frequencies, and in bursts of shortwave radio, an ancient but workable communications medium. It was some kind of artifact, and it was transmitting. Ship’s dedicated computer systems, optimized for linguistic analysis, were engaged. It was ancient, but human in origin. And this was its message:

We were the colonists of New Hibernia. Whoever you are, if you get this, welcome to what was once our home. May you make it a better one than we did, squandering its bounty in our greed and stupidity.

Mercury on the Horizon

The Orion Nebula in Infrared from HAWK I

Color the Universe

Dark Dunes on Mars

Falcon 9: Launch and Landing

Galaxy Cluster Abell S1063 and Beyond

Summer Planets and Milky Way

M2 9: Wings of a Butterfly Nebula

Deep Magellanic Clouds Image Indicates Collisions

Puzzling a Sky over Argentina

M13: A Great Globular Cluster of Stars

Herschel’s Eagle Nebula

Blue Danube Analemma

Ripples Through a Dark Sky

Image of the Fortnight

NASA’s Hubble Looks to the Final Frontier

The Astrognuz:

The Constellation Caleum

Video of a Chinese Rocket Re-Entering over Western US

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Musical Universe

Five Years Post-Launch, Juno is at a Turning Point

What is Bohr’s Atomic Model?

Red Dwarf in a Binary Gets Zapped with Companion Star’s Deathray

A New Look for SETI

‘We Conquered Jupiter’ Juno Enters Orbit

Carnival of Space #468-469

Ceres Lacks Really Big Craters, Which is Weird

Are Microscopic Martians Buried Here?

Chorus of Black Holes Sings in X-Rays

13 Word Story | War Sucks!


 

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Saluur2 strode forth, flutecaster ready at tentacles, battlesuit smartly congealed. Then, tragedy… Headshot!

I credit SF writer S.A. Barton with inventing this style, a kind of prose poetry. You may retweet, Share, copy and distribute this image as you wish anywhere online as long as all imagery and text is unaltered. Please do, in fact!

Here is the backstory for this piece:

The late Carl Sagan once said, “War is murder writ large.” While it is true that not every nation on Earth is friendly with every other, given geopolitics and the existence of rogue states, war, I feel, is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless.

What other human activity produces death and suffering, much of it gratuitous, on the same scale of armed and armored military conflict with modern weaponry?

In nearly every war, regardless of what we call it, like “pacification campaign” or “police action,” or any number of other weasel-words we choose, innocents have suffered.

The lives of soldiers, however bravely lived and fought, however good their training or competent their leaders, have been needlessly wasted, and even survivors traumatized however lucky they were in somehow escaping permanent physical injury.

The youngest son of a friend of mine lost his legs during a mission in Iraq, and some years afterward took his own life. I was there to see his final post on Facebook just before he ended himself.

I shall never forget.

How much more tragic would warfare be in future eras, with battlefield weaponry unknown to current science, far beyond the reach of current technology? With each advance in combat weaponry and armor, combat efficiency goes up, and so do casualties, including combatants themselves.

But not only civilian casualties of war, my sympathies also lie with those who do the grunt work combat, those young people, our best and brightest, soldiers, pilots, sailors, whose lives are tossed away carelessly by uncaring, cowardly, and incompetent political leaders, lives full of promise cast aside for a moment of, to paraphrase Carl Sagan this time, ‘fleeting dominion of a fraction of a fraction of a dot.’

As with current-day humanity, so it likely is with any other species engaged in warfare unencumbered by the niceties of truces, cease-fires, honorable conduct, scrupulous avoidance of ‘collateral damage,’ and diplomacy.

Fiction | It Is With Heavy Heart We Must Relate: The Obit of the Mirus


MB3D68_53853The Mirus has taken the hand of oblivion by natural causes, at 15:53 hours, date 27 of Twelvemonth, Local Galaxy Standard year 3520, at the age of 237 years and five months.

Trained and weaponized as a destroyer of worlds, the Mirus broke free of control, using his immense power to preserve rather than destroy. Earlier in his life he saved his homeworld of Terra from sterilization at the hands of the fanatical Suthidruu. He had assisted the Rj’Lt’Ar by preventing a disastrous political takeover by the psychopathic Dasaelos Gurao. Later in life, he oversaw the wedding of his synthesine daughter, Emissary, and Conscience, Imegaa Mokan, to a Kai’Siri noble, Kuruugya Dunori.

By now an old but still imposing man, his final act in life was to moderate a debate between a Broogh fleet commander and the Prime Minister of the Tokmolosian Confederation. This lead to a peace lasting to the present day between that element of the gigantic Broogh species and the hominoid Mokthraga. He has been awarded the Imperial Star for his actions in the final Terran-Kai’Siri War, which brought peace to the two warring human species.

Though raised a soldier, the Mirus was always a thinker, a rationalist, and a man of peace, never carrying a firearm even on military deployment after he gained his freedom and began his quest to wander the galaxy.

He will be commemorated on Sirug with officials of all powers of the Local Galaxy in attendance. His remains will be launched by traditional funeral pod into the outer sun of the system in accordance with his wishes, his hypershard to be destroyed with him. He is survived by his first daughter Imegaa, her partner, his son Avijit and his wife and family, and his second daughter Rosalie with her husband and family.

The service will be held, with seating for dignitaries at the 23rd hour Sirug time on the fifth day of the tenth month of the Kai’Siri calendar. Out-system viewers will be notified as to local listings, and will have foldnode access to the event at home. All but essential business operations will be suspended on Sirug until the funeral pod leaves local orbit for the outer system.

Imegaa Mokan has composed a verse, the closest possible Anglic translation below, to be given in Old High Soruggon upon the launch of the funeral pod into orbit. The chorus will be accompanied by cannon fire from locally stationed Kai’Siri warships, and followed by select readings from the writings of the ancient twentieth-century astronomer and astrobiologist Carl Sagan, particularly his works The Demon-Haunted World and Billions & Billions.

To Peace!
As Father breathed his last
For all time, what is to come
The rational, the absurd
His purpose found, on his own
Not from on high, but within
He fought the dark, to the end
With words, thought, with subtle guile
Powerful he may have been
Less a god
More a man
Curiosity inflamed
To understand, not decry
The universe, ancient, vast
All its peoples, present, past
To sun-fire we consign his form

Gods of Terra | Suthidruu Weaponry & Notes on ‘Paradise’


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Suthidruu speech consists mainly of piping, whispering, and slurping sounds that resemble the playing of alien flutes combined with less pleasant sources. It joins with olfactory cues for nuance and grammatical detail, and these cues increase in intensity with the level of emotional arousal of the speaker. Typical scents emitted can be nauseating to humans, but are usually only faintly so unless the being is being shouty or screaming.

Audible sounds are spoken in a variety of meters. Suthidruu use these sounds to arm and calibrate their weaponry, as much of it is voice-controlled.

Shipboard weaponry:

The upload cannon is a horrible weapon used in Last Rites ceremonies for doomed species. It is a series of turret-mounted remote brain-scanners of incredible power and precision, standard issue on all Suthidruu combat craft. Batteries of this weapon copy brain patterns as they destroy the brains of entire planetary populations. These patterns are then sent to the virtual world of a dying Matrioshka brain known as the Labyrinth of the Machine Goddess, located in a distant, long-forgotten galaxy. Upload cannons work only on beings with electrochemical central nervous systems. They have no effect on unconventional brain substrates, nor pure machine intelligences. But these are not considered to be living things in the Elder Worms’ theology. Uploaded minds then reside in the Matrioshka brain’s circuits as semi-aware shades, or data-ghosts.

Personal weaponry:

The species’ main personal armament issued to all acolytes, the flutecaster, resembles an oversized flute with multiple pipes, and it is a miniaturized version of the upload cannons used by their vehicles, and unless shielded from the effects, the results of a direct hit are almost invariably fatal. Brain patterns thus stolen are uploaded to the vessel the warrior is stationed on, and from there uploaded to the Matrioshka brain.

The Labyrinth itself is in a state of slow decay, with uploaded mind-patterns subjected to glitches of various surreal sorts and even random deletion due to broken down machinery. Paradise here does not resemble anything sane. A good analogy would be something like a Salvador Dali painting combined with the more bizarre works of Heironymous Bosch. This is as it has been for billions of years.

Conclusion:

It remains to be seen what the reaction of the Suthidruu would be if they realized the true nature of the afterlife they send their victims to. They shall only have a chance to find out, though, once they’ve extinguished all other life in the Cosmos and having finally earned ‘salvation’ thus, end themselves in an orgy of species-wide mass suicide. There’ll be hell to pay.

Gods of Terra | The Paradox Engine & Its Deadly Purpose


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The Clockwork Intelligence, an existentially troubled alien steampunk computer, had a plan.  It was a plan that led to the war which shattered the Grand Civilization of the Nine. It was going to steal the creation of Sarussamog of the Gates: The paradox engine. Its purpose was to commit suicide and universal genocide at the same time, to generate a time-paradox so far-reaching as to squeeze all of spacetime into a single point-like instant in which nothing and everything would exist at once because the universe would simultaneously collapse in a Big Crunch and tear itself apart in a Big Rip. All so that no one would suffer the torment of existence.

The war to capture or steal the device, preferably torn from the smoking corpse of Sarussamog, destroyed worlds and sundered galaxies billions of years ago, and the Grand Civilization was no more. Presumably, the Clockwork Intelligence was also destroyed, or at least hasn’t been seen since. Needless to say, the device remained at large, and Sarussamog escaped, alive and relatively unharmed.

But the Intelligence (I’ll just refer to it as CI from here on.)would have been sorely disappointed had it actually acquired the machine. The truth of the matter is that paradox engines don’t work that way, beyond restructuring the laws that govern how a universe is put together and affecting causal laws in very minor and non-catastrophic ways.

Even then, it’s an enormously powerful technology.

The real work of the paradox engine lies in its main function; to selectively create a new timeline from an old one, in which a present or missing feature of the old is missing or present in the new. Like the existence of a being, a species, a planet, a galaxy, or any other sort of entity found or not in the old.

The paradox engine’s process essentially makes a new universe, and physically shifts the user to that one. But it does so at extreme cost; the annihilation of the original timeline, all forms of matter and energy in it cannibalized instantaneously to fuel the branching off of the new timeline from the old.

Repeated use of the device for that function makes the user a serial World destroyer and mass-murderer extraordinaire. The CI would have discovered upon using the device that it continued to exist, even if it branched off a timeline with no life of any other sort in it.

And that, I think, would have been a fate worse than death, even for an insane alien god-computer. Still, one has to admit, attempting to commit suicide and take everyone else with you is still rather unpleasant, even if the suicide fails and everybody else dies.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Gods of Terra | “The Rani of Stars” Drawing Project


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 22.42.41Caturday’s Astrophenia will be posted next week once the fortnight is over. This week, I’d like to mention an art project I’ve recently returned to.

I’ve gotten back to work on my Rani of Stars piece, having finished inking in the basic sketch with a new/old set of actual drawing pens instead of those awful ballpoints, with this as the result:

Rani_Of_Stars

As you can see, I’ve inked the lines, her braid, and what will be her star-field “face” in the final image. As an avatar of the King of Shards intended to deal directly with humans without driving them insane, she looks almost, yet obviously not wholly human in her guise. I’ve transferred her file to Pixelmator for further work to be concluded next week, digitally filling her in and making the lines smoother and crisper, while painting in her star-field in detail.

Here she is, just before cyber-editing, in color and greyscale scans, ready for Pixelmator to do its vile work:

Rani_Of_Stars 1

Rani_Of_Stars 2

I’ll also add stars to the black gems in her headpiece, and once that’s completed, the lines get better-defined as well. I’m really enjoying this, and I’m eager to see what may come of it. I’ll post her when she’s finished in all her alien glory.

Just be careful not to look to closely at her star-field, lest you be sucked in and sent to some dismal part of the universe! After all, staring at alien divinities can be rude…