22 December, 2011

[SFAP] Concluding thoughts

I was going to write this tomorrow but I won't be at work so I won't be able to post so I decided to post this now.
So that’s the end of Sonnets From A Proton. There’s a few things I’d like to say. My last post of the year being my last day when I can post and being the afterword of the novel seems perfect.
Character wise I know it’s not strong on this, I need to develop it more and hopefully the first story in the series Orchestral Plutonium should be better in this respect, I just needed to get this damn story out of my head. I think I’d like to expand on some of the things here and probably will as time goes on but there’s the outline for 4 other books already well fleshed out just in need of writing. Polishing this one can wait. There were certainly a lot of story sub plots planned that still are in in skeleton form waiting to be fleshed out but i just never got around to it. However I am pleased with how the experiment worked out.

Thinking back to the overall structure, when I first crafted this it was intended that there be three universes in my novels. This would give me the chance to tell three different types of story. The first was this one, pure science fiction that while it may embrace a few bits of science I made up it at least included nothing that was downright impossible; like magic or FTL or heaven forbid time travel. This then gave me my two other worlds that included those concepts and so would be where i told those stories. However having fleshed those worlds out in more detail since then I realised it is possible to shoehorn them all into one world. The question is, is this desirable? I’m reminded of Azimov’s later books where it turned out that the world of robots was the same as the one of Foundation and I didn’t like it. Certainly Nemesis and The Gods Themselves should be kept as separate worlds. Yet here I am considering doing the same thing. Why?
More important I have to make the decision soon which way to go. Plutonium is safe from this problem but The Tyranny of Convenience currently has two endings, one where the worlds combine and one where they don’t. I need to pick one.
The problem is that without FTL it’s hard for humans to be a source of conflict and even harder to hold an empire together. Which is a fun story to tell, I think the route I will have to take is to stick to my principles. No FTL in this world, everyone else does it so I must not. That is surely a better story, how do you build an empire without FTL? In fact all the better if you don’t build an empire at all. Besides i don't really have any good stories to tell that actually require FTL as such yet, magic however is another matter, I've got one story at the moment that is just proving damn fun to write. The thing is it requires FTL, Time Travel and Magic all combined together.

See it was a matter of principle, everyone else resorts to an unrealistic thing to tell stories and thast's fine, but I wanted to rise above that. I wanted to tell a future that I believed could happen. That requires no magic, no time travel and no FTL.
However my solution to the FTL problem is I think quite fun, very Stephen Baxter like in one of it's problems so I think I might just run with it and see what happens as the way it is implemented should give me most of the advantages  of no FTL and the plus points of a free story world. We'll see.

I also had an idea the other day on finally what is going on is going on in the other half of the Habitat that has been mentioned but not gone into in depth. This has been intentional that I wanted it there as a potential pandora’s box; and now I know what evils that place contains. Now to make good use of it.

So what now? Well I’m going to have to put this blog on hiatus until I can actually write Orchestral Plutonium. As I have said before it is well fleshed out, the problem is the outlines make up about ten thousand words whereas a novel is hundreds of thousands of words. Now this is not a problem because as soon as I can get time to sit down and write the words just flow; but time to sit down is the problem. People talk about writers block and I don’t think I get it, now that may be a quality problem, but at least I have things I want to say.
Anyway on that subject of verbal diarrhea I’ll sign off for now. Every word written here is one less in OP.

[SFAP] Chapter 15:9

This is the last section of the last chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.

Those on the surface of the plate who saw the hub explosion took a moment to register what had happened, a new bright star had appeared.
Then the world fell.

The story continues in The Tyranny Of Convenience - which I have yet to write.
The next story to be published will be the forerunner of SFAP, Orchestral Plutonium - which I have also yet to write.
More commentary tomorrow.

21 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:8

This is the eighth section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Martin looked again, no that was no coincidence, space is legendary for its size, there was no way that ship was heading anywhere else this was far too close. Martin set off at a run towards Iz and the Habitat’s centre but spiralled out of control; in his panic he had forgotten he was in freefall in the hub and spun around wildly trying to regain control.

20 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:7

This is the seventh section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it” remarked Tom “Just gives you a sense of wonder”
“It’s too close for comfort is what it is” replied Laurence
“I think the captain is giving us a treat, a majestic swing by.”
“It’s a waste of propellant and dangerous is what it is.”
“I’m sure he knows what he is doing.”

19 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:6

This is the sixth section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

No thought Martin the plume is facing in the wrong direction the ship wasn’t decelerating preparing to dock, it was accelerating towards the Habitat. It must be just coming close to head off somewhere else. it was just coincidence that brought it near here.

16 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:5

This is the fifth section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

This close to the Habitat it really was quite quite beautiful, you could see more than a dumbell swinging through the sky. You could see what it would one day be; a huge hoop in the sky spinning once a day to create a daily cycle of night and day and a comfortable one G gravity held together by the spokes to the hub that were the pylons. When they first found the Habitat it looked like just a big dumb object and in this state as it was now a fraction complete it still was clearly big, but some of the elegance of the simplicity of the design made it clear that it was more than dumb, it was simple elegant and totally beyond anything that humans could build. It was scary, it was powerful, it was humanity’s salvation or their damnation.
Laurence cursed it as he saw this and saw the end of humanity or it’s release. Like the zoo keeper coming with the shotgun, is the future bright or staring down a pair of barrels.

15 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:4

This is the fourth section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Martin took a step outside of the control room. He was never happy when someone else was really involved and deep into a problem he just felt like an outsider. Still, thought Martin, it was quite beautiful out here provided you didn’t suffer from vertigo. That would be the wrong word though, as to the right was the plate he knew and had experienced and to the left was the unknown. It was weird he knew it was over a thousand kilometers away only visible by the lights but it was his home. Strange he thought that he now thought of it that way. Earth was a memory of another time, it was the Habitat that had made him who he was and he realised he still felt it was his as if luck made it his responsibility, his calling. Turning away he stared into the black of the sky ahead of him trying to let his eyes adjust to the darkness and beauty of space.
The simple stillness was spoilt these days by artificial stars that were the exhausts of countless ships, the once static perfect heavens had flys buzzing all over it. Unable to swat them he tried to reassure himself that this was all for the best.
Strange that particular artificial star was perceptibly coming closer. Must be a docking ship. Long time since there’d been one of those that he’d heard of. Most these days were the Habitats which had a barely perceptible exhaust. They really didn’t appear as stars unless they were at full burn and this one was quite quite bright.

14 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:3

This is the third section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Laurence turned to Tom “You know I always used to say I had the worst of everything.”
“You were a middle class Caucasian male, unhindered by poverty or prejudice or by the expectations of ruling parents. How could you have wanted more as a start to a successful life?”
“That’s kind of it though, no-one gave me anything. If I were born richer I’d have already had everything. If I’d been born poorer or a different race I’d have had handouts and positive discrimination working for me.”
“You do realise you just said that out loud don’t you?”
“Oh I never claimed to be a nice person. You’re the one who wants everyone to love him, me I just had to make something of myself because if I’d have failed I’d have had no excuse and yet I didn’t have the golden spoon to help me succeed”
“Are all you pre-Habitat kids this much of an arsehole?”
“Hey you do what you have to succeed. It’s the luxury of success to feel guilty over it.”
“Again you do realise what you just said?”
“Fuck that. I am fed up of apologising for who I am. Everywhere you go now it’s all handed to you on a plate. New challenges just appear in a decadent society around social norms. Well I’ve had enough. Did you ever think you’d starve if you stopped working for just one day?”
“No and you never did either.”
“Don’t tell me how I spent my youth. Now you’re right I wouldn’t have starved but that doesn’t stop me from believing that I would. I don’t need to apologise for how I made myself what I did.”
“No but you should apologise for how you behave now.”
“You’ll offend a lot of people”
“Am I offending you?”
“Well, yes, well no.” Tom stuttered
“You just can’t do it can you. You’ve spent your entire life sucking up to people and you just can’t come out and say ‘you are a shit’ can you?”
“You can’t say that!” exclaimed Tom
“Yes YOU can. Repeat after me. You, Laurence are a shit.”
“I won’t”
“It would achieve nothing.”
“You’ve got to tell people the truth how else will they improve?”
“It’s not about people improving”
“Then what is life about if not trying to be a better person”
“Exactly so you know what you were saying is wrong”
“No I know it’s not politically correct, I do know it’s what drove me to be who I am now. Or at least part of it. To deny the truth is to deny yourself and that’s the worst thing you can do is be blind to who you are and how you got here.”
“I’m just not the man to do it”
“Then improve yourself and learn how to do it when it is needed”
“Are you going to stop being the shit you are”
“Hey I just said that’s how I was, I’m not saying it’s how I am”
“You still think it though at your heart”
“Not really, I just feel that even having everything going your way can be a challenge to overcome”
“What? How am I supposed to grow if there is nowhere to grow to”
“Exactly, like a bonsai tree!”
“Are we still talking about you being a prat?”
“Probably I’m kind of lost now.”

13 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:2

This is the second section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Iz looked around at the walls of monitors and banks of terminals. “Well this must be where it wants us”
“You’re sure this is where it wants us”
“Well if not here’s its chance to tell us”
Both of listened in silence.
“Typical” muttered Iz in disgust “just like a god to remain silent.”
“No need for that” scolded Martin
“I never knew you were religious”
“Never said I was, old habits die hard I guess.”
“Well it looks like it’s keeping quiet again. Fine I’ll set up data watches around the data store to watch what is going on. Shouldn’t be too hard to do it with all the access we have up here”
“And then what”
“Let’s see what I find first, look if you’re not going to help go for a walk or something”
“Fine” replied Martin heading out the door to the viewing galley “Shout if you want me for anything”

12 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 15:1

This is the first section of the fifteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

“How you holding up old chap?”
“Worse for having some gravity back” replied Laurence “They say freefall makes bones heal really badly but I’m sure this gravity lark is the problem.”
“Sorry it took us so long to pick you up.”
“Well there’s not exactly any fast ships left in the system, well except for this one and it’s hardly properly finished. Why did you come anyway?”
“And miss a little pleasure tour are you kidding”
“You hate space travel.”
“Hey it grew on me.” replied Tom “Besides, they messed up my facilities so there’s nothing for me to do back at Saturn for a good few months until they fix it. Say what you like about drones, they may make things for you for free, but they’re useless at showing initiative.”
“Is Jane avoiding me then?”
“Not really, just knows what you’re like when you’re grumpy.” Tom saw the expression that created on Laurence’s face “Her words not mine”
“No no I know my wife anywhere” Laurence paused “Wife? ex-wife? I’m not sure. We were supposed to make a clean break but you know how it goes. You can’t change the way you think.”
“Why break it off, if you love her?”
“Then nothing would change and I always said it was important that people died so that society can change. Then offered immortality I jumped at it but still had my principles. Now look at me, back in exactly the place I ran from.”
“This is no bad thing”
“It is, people need to die otherwise nothing can improve, the young can’t move on from their mistakes. What would society be like if those in power at the time of slavery were still in power. No I need to either give up the reins of power or change myself. So far I’ve managed neither.”
“There’s always tomorrow.”
“Not really no, they’ve pulled me into the design of the new battleship and designing some new fighters based around the bodging the bats did. I’m back where I was thirty years ago.”
Tom stared at the man in front of him who looked like he’d have trouble getting served in a bar and put a hand on his shoulder “Are you learning from your mistakes though, or at least not making the same ones twice.”
“Plenty of room for new ones.”
“Then maybe there is merit to a long life.”
“Tell that to those fleeing the Habitat to go to Saturn”
“James’ plan worked then?”
“Not really just as many are fleeing here to go there. Change is in the air though.”
Laurence looked at Tom “Just leave the physics jokes to someone else please. Actually no, leave them to no one else.”
“You know on this little return trip we’ll be the closest I’ve been to the Habitat in years”
“Yeah, nice co-incidence we should be able to see the actual shape of it, make out the plates and even the hub. With any luck the pylons will be lit up so we’ll be able to see those too”
“I’ve heard it’s quite beautiful”
“Beauty in the dark. How poetic” He spat.

09 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 14:20

This is the last section of the fourteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Jane sat back in her chair, the test had gone quite successfully. A few teething problems but the full power test was quite the success. No-one else seemed to wonder what happened to the exhaust, aside from wondering why Jane was quite so interested in how well the efficiency enhancing laser focusing stages behaved. As far as anyone else knew it would be hundreds of light years before the exhaust hit any known object.
Although there were a lot of questions asked around the base the next day when an unexpected meteor shower lit up the rings and the upper atmosphere of Saturn in quite a spectacular manner; no-one however realised that they had ever been under threat except Jane.

07 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 14:19

This is the nineteenth section of the fourteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

“Bloody hell” exclaimed Martin staring around the room “It’s changed a bit since I was last here.”
“It’s massive isn’t it?” said Iz staring around the bay. The air was thick with drones fresh off the production line heading to their jobs and thousands of others ferrying materials to the production plants. Martin couldn’t begin to count them but there were hundreds of thousands of drones here and more joining them every second.
“Oh it always was big, but this has been extended quite significantly, and there’s a lot more stuff.”
“You think it’s designed to impress?”
“I’m not sure of anything that the Habitat does, but yeah there’s a lot here.” Martin grabbed his visor and seemed to stare briefly at a building in the distance partially hidden in the mist of drones. “Yeah that looks like the hub control, coming?”
“Yeah.” Iz clipped her belt to the conveyor and was tugged along on the pathway “How far does this actually go on?”
“I’ve been told the factories continue into the pylons, so hundreds of miles for all we know.”
“Ever fancy trying to map it out and answer that?”
“Not really, it’s always expanding so kind of futile really.”
“Or so we think, it could be a big hoax by the Habitat”
“I don’t think so. I just wish I knew quite what it was doing with all this workforce.”
“Well it’s still constructing itself.”
“No I saw this thing building itself in the early days and I just watched it build a city overnight with less than a hundred drones, no whatever is going on here it’s bigger than what we see on the Habitat”
“You think it intends for us to see this?”
“I do, we’ve got in here far too easily, it’s planning something and I don’t know what.”

06 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 14:18

This is the eighteenth section of the fourteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

Jane stared at the screen. half a dozen incoming fighters they had massacred the Earth`s quite surprisingly impressive defences and were on their way here. They had also before they started braking launched missiles that had taken out Jupiter’s defences far more effectively than they had Earth even though Jupiter was supposed to be the home of the solar navy. Well, thought Jane, time to show them what a civilian base can do. The bots had been their normal efficient self since the Freedom had proved the success of the AM generator and the AM drive and had in the five days since the Freedom had left built a new one. This time the final model ready for the colony ship. Most of it had she admitted already been in parts waiting for approval and any potential design revisions but there it was. She looked outside her window and in a few hours it would be tested.
If the fighters that were bound for her followed previous patterns they wouldn’t start evasive manoeuvres until they were a light minute or so out. She still had time. A simple matter to change the direction of the engine before the test begins.

05 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 14:17

This is the seventeenth section of the fourteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

“Right they’re on their way back now. One last command” James rapidly hit a series of keys on the console in front of him.
“What have you just done” asked Laurence
“Ordered the fighters to launch missiles to attack this base.” He proceeded to strap himself carefully into the seat he was sat in. “I want his base totally destroyed, or at least I want them to think it was a last minute panic and we had no base self destruct. Perhaps maybe you entered the command to stop me in my deranged plan, who will know, but all evidence will be gone.”
“Cover your tracks?”
“Exactly all the places they know we reside will be destroyed as well as a few they don’t.” He pulled the last strap tight “I don’t know about you, but I hate all that floating around. You can grow up in it all you like, but it’s never really comfortable.”
“So we start getting out of here then.”
“No, the escape craft will be launching in a few minutes, but we won’t be on them.”
“What? Why?”
“Simple if we escape they’ll eventually find us. If they think we escaped and we didn’t then we’re fugitives forever, they’ll be forever paranoid.”
“You’re planning to die here yet give the impression you’ve escaped so that they’ll be looking for you forever.”
“Indeed, every mishap will be blamed on me. Every attack will have my name stamped on it yet they’ll never find the mastermind behind the grand plot because I’ll have died decades previously. I’ll be the ultimate immortal forever unkillable and in their search for me humanity will take control of the solar system for itself and then later the stars.”
“You don’t have to die for this, I certainly don’t”
“Much as I’d like to let you free and carry on this work I just don’t think you get it. If you truly hated me I could let you go in the knowledge that I could use that. If you were with me, you could help the cause. The problem is you’re just powerful enough at the moment and just don’t quite get it so that this is the only way.”
“People say there is no other way when they have already made up their mind and are closed to reason.”
“Perhaps. Sometimes we blind ourselves because we know that we cannot trust ourselves.”
Laurence realised he wasn’t getting anywhere, “All this equipment around the room, this is all the targeting and intel control hardware Fillwick supplied isn’t it?”
“Yes?” replied James
“Thought so.” Laurence paused and then proceeded to speak as fast as he could “Recognise Stephen Fillwick,” James’ eyes lit up as he realised what was happening and struggled to release himself from the seat he had fastened himself into; Laurence carried on “Code Tango Three Zero Oscar Seven Two Delta Echo, Zeus protocol.”
The straps holding Laurence into his seat released themselves and those of the chair that James had just released himself from immediately snaked out and reached for the now fleeing James barely missing him. Laurence knew that he wasn’t skilled in freefall whereas James had shown himself to be a veteran in these circumstances. Still Laurence had the computer on his side so all he had to do was get James towards one of the seats and the computer would do the rest with the restraint webbing. Unfortunately although most of the equipment here was taken straight from the command deck of the latest class of battleships, the internal weapons had not been installed. Either that Laurence reasoned or they had been disabled because they clearly weren’t firing at James as Zeus protocol dictated they should have been.
James barreled towards him, Laurence had little chance to dodge, but the computer was with him. A computer whose only actuators in this room were attached to the two chairs they had until recently been in. Laurence swung his legs around to throw himself into a spin forcing James to miss his lunge for his grab.
James rebounded against the wall at the far end and flung himself back towards the now out of control Laurence. He was barely two body lengths away when Laurence realised he had a chance.
Laurence closed his eyes “Whiteout” he shouted and all the monitors behind him went to full intensity briefly blinding James
“Blackout” he shouted again just in time to open his eyes and grab the now disorientated James as he flew past. Laurence grabbed his legs and flung him towards the waiting chair. as he skimmed the chair the restraint webbing reached out and pulled James in and secured him.
“Sorry James” he apologised and swam out of the the control room and headed for the hanger bay. He thought as fast as he could while alternately rebounding off the walls. Arriving in the hanger bay he reasoned there should be some sort of ship there, anything to get him to the nearest habitable ‘roid. For the first time since leaving Earth he was thankful for the freefall conditions, doing this trip with the broken legs would have been impossible in the time he had, but pulling himself along the wall with his arms was almost as quick as running, and only the corners slowed him down.
The landing bay offered few choices of craft, most that could be salvaged had been with the knowledge that this base was doomed. What was left were a few construction craft and none of them had a pressurised dome. That would mean wearing a spacesuit and he didn’t have the time to get into one and even if he had the state of his leg made that a sickening prospect. No a spacesuit would not be able to sustain him long enough to make it to the nearest habitable ‘roid a day maybe two yes, but weeks? Not a chance.
Thinking as fast as he could he saw a mining mole. Those things were designed for tunnelling through the ‘roid prospecting for new seams of minerals and were perfect for what he needed in terms of life support. But they were designed for tunnelling through rock not space. Just in case you hit a void in a roid they had small thrusters to get you back to the rockface where they could attach, but small thrusters were no use for what he needed. Still it was better than nothing, he flew over to the nearest mole.
Inside the thing had been gutted, but someone had clearly adhered to the letter of the manual when they had neglected to strip out the life support system. You never knew in space when you’d need a refuge so it was a rare native of the vacuum who would intentionally disable a liveable shelter. Inside the computer systems were completely missing so it was back to the landing bay again to find something, anything to control this mole with.
Laurence checked the time. He had maybe ten minutes before this place was blown up, that gave him maybe five to be in that mole and out of here. He swam over to one of the construction bots and ripped out the control panel. They were strange craft these, designed for manoeuvrability not speed. An X shaped craft with a thruster at each corner. Slow but durable and designed for long usage in space. He had the idea, and swam back to the mole.
Patching the control panel into the mole was surprisingly easy. He’d heard that the new systems were designed for ease of maintenance but this was a shock to him. No matter, the control panel was still in contact with the original maintenance bot. Whoever had designed this thing to have a backup radio link to the host system in case of severe damage was about to get a equally severe promotion when Laurence got back home.
He instructed the mole to fly out of the bay and the construction bot to rendezvous with them. As soon as they were outside the bot was put into maximum burn and they coasted away from the ‘roid at what seemed like a snail’s pace but which Laurence reckoned was now probably approaching a few hundred klicks.
The effects of the adrenaline finally being felt Laurence suddenly realise how much two broken legs could hurt and screamed in pain. Wait he thought was that another mole leaving the ‘roid, no it was too fast. He tried to find some binoculars in the craft, tried to get the screen to show him more detail but the craft just wasn’t meant for this. It was meant for examining rock a meter or so away from the ship, not a craft leaving maybe a thousand klicks away. Suddenly the screen was filled with a bright light as the ‘roid was hit with the missile.
So was that an escape vessel and James had escaped, or had he imagined that star? There was no way to know now.

02 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 14:16

This is the sixteenth section of the fourteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

The commander of the Compton supervised the repairs and waited for any clue as to what the next step was. He had been ordered to wait for a clue as to when the next phase of the attack would begin. Probably a nondescript piece of orbital junk would crash into Earth or something would suddenly change orbit to land on Earth. He just had to wait and let the computers do their job. Until then he had to get this ship fixed.
“Sir I think we’ve got it.”
“The ship?”
“Yep, remember that rescue come pirate attack the Contrafibularity suffered?”
“Well they theorised that there was some sort of carrier stage that formed the initial engines that got them into the right flight path to rendezvous with the Contrafibularity”
“And it’s return path has brought it awfully close to earth orbit”
“How close?”
“Close enough that a fuel leak at this point would be enough to get it into atmospheric entry trajectory.”
“Let’s go get it then”
“Slight problem.”
“It’s already past the L1 lagrange point. By the time we get to it it’ll be too late.”
“What? You were supposed to find it.”
“And you can thank the AIs for that. It was a known piece of low risk junk so they masked it out from our searches.”
“Do you know how much junk is out there?”
The commander rubbed his head “So we failed.”
“Fine inform ground forces. They’ll have to intercept.”

01 December, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 14:15

This is the fifteenth section of the fourteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

“Earth’s best defences, pretty bloody scary and we still beat them. Ha, I knew it!”
“No you didn’t.”
“Well no, but just shows what good forward planning and overkill gets you.”
“There is no such thing as overkill. Just sufficient kill.”
“I bet that’s in all your sales brochures.”