Friday, December 29, 2017

Poor Losers Preview

Next Month in Chronicles of the Deep Patrol:

Tommy Gunn and his crew travel to the Glorious Challenge City of Diss, where they must take part in the games and sports that form the backbone of Diss society. Can he beat them at their own game, or will he play a little too well and find himself Gamesmaster-Emperor? And what precisely is Dr Perky's Refreshing Beverage? Out on Patreon on 1 January.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Liner Notes 1

Some background information on the story Partial City Diplomacy (on Patreon) and on the fragment Cyclopean Gigastructure (on this blog).

Liner Notes 1 : Partial City Diplomacy 
I didn’t have a plan for the series when I started writing this story; by the time I had finished it I knew there would be 13 stories in total, had outlines for the next five stories, knew that story 7 would be the pivotal one, and that number 13 would be a slam bang finale tying everything up in a neat bow.
None of that plan lasted (except the number 13), but at least I had one. This story was unplanned. It also took about four months, mostly in 100 and 200 word bursts as a warm up exercise before writing (or re-writing) other things. If it has any coherence or a unified tone or theme, that mostly came from the second draft. I started off intending to write a pulpy adventure story and that’s what I got. Mission accomplished I suppose.
So where did this one come from? Well very explicitly it was trying to look like a piece of TV science fiction. Our dudes arrive on a planet, are faced with a problem, resolve it in some way, and clear off for the next episode. Partial City is a studio backlot put directly into the text; only as much of a building exists as is needed for the scene. The people of Partial City are clones; the same bodies taking different roles, like actors. Ella and Gunn escape the Labyrinth by going behind the scenes, short cutting the plot (device), and then shooting their way out.
The Energy Jammer is inspired by a bunch of things that people have used in stories when they want to stop high tech machinery working. Some notable examples include the stasis field in the final battle sequence in Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War; the Holtzman shield in Frank Herbert’s Dune, and of course every time Kirk’s phaser is useless and he has to do the leaping two-footed kick to beat an enemy.
Gunn, of course, came fully formed, the captain supposed to make a nice, simple reconnaissance and instead has to overthrow a warlord to rescue his crew. Is he really a hero? I pick this question up a few times in this series and have a look at it from some different angles, so if I had an answer it would be premature to discuss it.
Liner Notes 1a: Cyclopean Gigastructure 
The redoubt at the end of time! See novels by Stephen Baxter and Alistair Reynolds, The Last Question by Isaac Asimov and many other stories. See also this post by Patrick Stuart (not that Patrick Stewart).
Is the Gigastructure Cyclopean architecturally, as in made up of massive boulders with minimal clearance, or does it have one big eye? I can’t remember so have left that question open; if forced to answer, probably both.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Cyclopean Gigastructure

FIRST: A fragment of science fiction, related to my Chronicles of the Deep Patrol series.

What is the Cyclopean Gigastructure?

In the dying embers of an ancient universe – our own trillions of years in the future or perhaps another – the leftover fragments of billions of cultures maintain the shattered remnants of existence. They cower in a huddle, feeding off the tiniest scraps of energy and knowledge leaking from one to another. The Cyclopean Gigastructure; ropes, threads, knots of the end of every conceivable civilisation. Planet-sized avatar-mausoleums, containing trillions of minds inconceivable to humanity, frozen, packed away against the hopeless encroaching dark. Jammed together in a structure bigger than the known universe, enormous cells pushed tightly but unevenly together in the final ark.
Is there an endgame to this or is it just a final spasm of survival as entropy comes to grind apart the leftovers of a dead cosmos? Ghoulworlds crawl the Gigastructure, parasites chewing through billions of years of accumulated history to fuel the next attack. Faced with ultimate extinction at the end of time some civilisations have hidden reserves, turning the tables; not mere revenants but lichcultures. The hunter becomes prey, absorbed into their target or forced out into the infinite dark.
The Gigastructure is rich beyond the wildest dreams of those of us living in the bright glare of the Big Bang’s after-effects. Trillions of years of data, and more of knowledge, repeated uncountable times in the cold librarymorgues. Projects that take a billion slow years have come to fruition, as have the descendant experiments based on the earlier data, taking a thousand times longer, and then the ones that build on the knowledge gleaned from all the earlier operations.
And of course it is hideously dangerous. Any culture-ark with a spark of life that escaped into our cosmos could overwhelm us, sequestering all energy and matter for the end of time rather than waste it in the current profligate manner; a billion years of slow strategizing will have planned for every contingency, our weapons and tactics dispersed by technologies a million times more efficient.
Even dead information could cause disaster if revealed carelessly. Ideas and plans unleashed before their time; alien thoughts transplanted into minds, warping actions and thoughts. Forbidden technologies, abandoned due to their toxicity (and not just physical; moral and intellectual too) set free in an energy rich universe. By granting the discoverers their wishes they can destroy them, turn them into ravening monsters torn loose from their foundations, an empire of capricious omnipotent demons.
It is theorised that a precursor group to the Wavefront may have entered the Gigastructure and been corrupted by the information they uncovered there. The limited understanding mankind has of the structure and of the dying cosmos it exists in are all intimately connected to the Wavefront remnants. Whether that makes the Wavefront a resurrected lichculture, a native-universal species infected with dead knowledge, or even an attempt to firewall and destroy an incursion from beyond is a matter of debate.
Time is another piece of the puzzle. Many of the remnants left by the Wavefront require more time than could have passed to be able to exist according to our records; some need more time than has passed in the entire universe to date. This suggests the Gigastructure is in the – or a – future of our own timeline. Yet Gigastructure entities seem unable to effect time; and if they could, why are they left in a resource desert in the long cold death of the cosmos? Could it be that this is the better future? The best of all endings?
The final possibility, the one that haunts everything discovered after the Event and the passing of the Wavefront, is that the Gigastructure and the dying universe are a hoax. It would take a thousand human lifetimes to explore even a fraction of it and determine if there is anything there that can’t be explained by the already barely-comprehensible fallout from the Wavefront. Is it simply a bizarre artefact, larger and more dangerous that most, created by the Unknown Powers? The question would be futile even if the dimensional gate were not currently sealed.
Update:  Patreon has reversed the changes described below so everything is back to normal other than the massive loss of trust in the platform, obviously. The first Deep Patrol story Partial City Diplomacy can be found by following the link in the name.

Now the dull bit. This is supported by my new Patreon, where the first Deep Patrol story Partial City Diplomacy can be found. Having launched on that site last Friday, on Wednesday they changed the terms and conditions so that instead of patrons paying the amount pledged, instead they pay that plus a fee. This is not quite what I signed up for and not what I've spent the last few weeks explaining to people.
So. If you want to support this through the Patreon, then you can go to the link and do so. And if you don't, then don't. I will be considering what to do, probably next week, when I see if they're sticking to this.
Well that was dull. Marginally more interesting stuff to come on this project.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Chronicles of the Deep Patrol

Well here we are at the end of the countdown and it's some boring attempt to sell you fiction.
Here's the pitch: if you go here you'll find the first episode of a space opera serial by me. It's called Partial City Diplomacy and it introduces Lieutenant Commander Tommy "Ray" Gunn of the Deep Patrol. He encounters a strange city of incomplete buildings, a masked warlord, his equipment all fails and his crew is taken prisoner. Also he meets a woman with a big hat. He has to solve the problems with his wits and his fists. If you know anyone who might like it, why not pass it on. This one is free!

If you read it and like it, please consider subscribing for future episodes. It's on Patreon and for the low low price of $1 a month you'll get an episode and also help support the extra material I intend to publish.

Thank you for your attention. We now return you to your regualr programming.