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Tales of the Vuduri:
By Michael Brachman
TALES OF THE VUDURI: YEAR THREE
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2016 by Michael Brachman
Cover art copyright © 2016 by Bruce Brachman
Also by Michael Brachman
The Rome’s Revolution Series
The Ark Lords
The Vuduri Knights Series
The Milk Run
*The Vuduri Knight
The Vuduri Universe Series
Tales of the Vuduri: Year One
Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two
Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three
*The Vuduri Companion
(*not yet in publication)
Entry 3-004: December 30, 2014
A Trip to the Moon
In 1902, Georges Méliès released the very first science fiction movie called Le Voyage dans la lune or a Trip to the Moon. Everyone has seen the images from this classic and while it might seem silly today, there is a point for me showing this to you:
The reason I bring this up is because this image served as an inspiration to me in one of the opening scenes of the upcoming novel The Milk Run.
As you may recall, at the end of Part 1 of Rome's Revolution, OMCOM, the starbase computer, had completed his transformation into Planet OMCOM. If you didn't know he was a living computer, you would think that Planet OMCOM was just a brilliant all-white planet. But when Aason Bierak arrives there, OMCOM moves his entire geography around to form a face. Here is that scene:
“Look in front of you,” Junior replied.
Out of the cockpit window, Aason could see the formerly homogeneous surface of Planet OMCOM changing. Junior rotated the large central display to its fully upright position and routed in his video feed. Junior’s forward camera showed minuscule pieces of the planet that had broken free and were now approaching the starship like a tiny cloud. Other portions of the surface began flowing to the north, creating a series of huge mountain ranges while still other sections began flowing to the south and west creating valleys and more mountains until a huge face appeared within its bulk like a comical Man in the Moon. However, instead of OMCOM’s regular bullet-shaped head with slits where the eyes and mouth would be, this head was rounded and expressive.
Planet OMCOM’s titanic lips started moving. “We will find your sister,” said the living computer, his voice issuing from Junior’s grille. “However, I must make some changes to Junior’s airframe to prepare you for your search.”
This scene was my tribute to Georges Méliès and his ground-breaking entry into the long history of amazing science fiction films.
Entry 3-011: January 6, 2015
I love it when a scene or chapter ends with everything going black. I love it so much that I try and put it in every book I write.
The climax of Part 2 of the original long-form version of Rome's Revolution ended with the entire sky going black. In the very beginning of Rome's Evolution, Rei is hit in the head with a piece of debris from an explosion and everything went black. In the upcoming novel The Milk Run, there are at least three scenes where Aason is subjected to an experience where everything goes black.
But it all started with my first "black" scene. This takes place right after Rei tracked his first Deucadon to his hideout that was hidden behind some rocks:
With his eyes closed, Rei was easily able to follow him within the cracks until he emerged into a glade, a grassy clearing that was perhaps 25 meters across, surrounded by 20 meter walls of stone.
There, under an indentation carved into the rock were three men, standing around a glowing box. Rei stepped through the opening, moving toward them, raising his hand in the universal greeting.
“Halli,” Rei said. “Quam sei fica?”
When they did not answer, Rei said, “Au siu Rei Bierak. Au siu Essessoni. Au asdiu dandenti cimacer ei anclefa ei nirda. Sei fica Ibbrassati?"
One man took two steps toward Rei. He lifted his hand and then there was a crackling noise and everything went black.
To set your mind at ease, know that this was just the Deucadon version of a taser. A bigger mystery was why did Rei feel the need to speak to them in Vuduri?
Well, as mentioned yesterday, this was the very first time he encountered a human being on the planet of Deucado who was not a Vuduri. And in a previous post, he had been warned that nobody would take the time to learn English so it was only natural. However he could have saved himself a lot of pain if he had just spoken in English in the first place.
Entry 3-029: January 24, 2015
The Great Escape, Part 2
Yesterday we saw MINIMCOM carve out a vertical tunnel that reached the very top of the cave. In fact, Rei could look up and see stars. But the tunnel was way too large for Rei climb. We know that eventually, in the world of Rome's Revolution, MINIMCOM's whoosh/pop snap tunnels became a staple for sending people and things from one place to another in an instant. But this is before.
Rei was familiar enough with science fiction and old television shows that he just went ahead and called it MINIMCOM's transporter in honor of Star Trek: The Original Series.
Well, there is always a first time for everything and here it is:
“It is not for you to climb up,” MINIMCOM said in Rei’s mind. “I just wanted to make sure that I did not intermix your atoms with those of the rocks.”
“That’s big of you. So how am I going to get out of here?”
“Stand in the middle of the rubble and look up,” replied MINIMCOM. “And whatever you do, make sure you keep your hands by your sides at all times. I am ready.”
“Ready for what?” Rei asked.
“Just step up and look up,” ordered MINIMCOM cryptically.
Rei did as he was told and climbed up the pile of rocks. He craned his neck. Directly over Rei’s head and coming down the shaft was a dark circle, blotting out the stars where they tried to enter into its midst.
As it came closer and closer, Rei thought, “What is that?”
MINIMCOM replied, “You are aware of the normal mode of PPT transport, where we create a static PPT tunnel and move the object through it?”
“Well, this is the opposite. I am having the object, you, stand still and I will move the PPT tunnel through you.”
“Oy,” was all Rei said and he closed his eyes. His stomach felt a little queasy but when he opened his eyes again, he was standing on top of the bluff, overlooking the glade. Behind him was a gaping hole in the rock. Sixty meters below him were the three squabbling men.
He laughed to himself. “That is one hell of a parlor trick, MINIMCOM” he said out loud.
“As I said, practice makes perfect,” replied MINIMCOM.
“How’d you come up with that?” Rei thought to himself.
“It is all your fault, actually,” said MINIMCOM in Rei’s head.
“How is it my fault?” Rei thought to himself.
“When you took us flying to the surface when we first got here, you forced me to figure out how to modulate a PPT tunnel to absorb the angular momentum of a 7000 tonne Ark traveling at a substantial relative velocity to a second location essentially at a dead stop. I actually had to move the tunnel in synchrony with the mass so that the relative position at the other end remained stationary. Otherwise it would have emerged as just so much metallic vapor.”
“What’s that got to do with this then?”
“Once I figured out how to make a moving PPT tunnel with the target stationary, I extrapolated on how to do it point-to-point. It is essentially the same principle. I was not exactly sure it would work, though. It was more theoretical. The simulations were sound but there is sometimes a small difference between theory and practice. Witness my slight problem with your room back at the settlement.”
“How do you get a PPT tunnel to stay stable in the gravity well? I thought you couldn’t do that.”
“That is correct. You cannot. I simply build one tunnel after the next in femto-seconds. I place each subsequent one immediately adjacent to the one that is collapsing displaced by the offset introduced so that they effectively connect. I determined that if I sequenced them properly, they would probably act as a continuous tunnel for the purposes of moving atoms.”
“What do you mean probably?”
“I mean exactly that. I had not gathered sufficient proof that it would actually work.”
“Is this is the first time you tried it with a real object? Are you saying I was your guinea pig?”
“I ran over 7000 simulations,” MINIMCOM said indignantly. “It worked, did it not?”
Rei patted his chest, his thighs, his knees. “All here, I think, so I guess it did.”
There was nothing whoosh-y or pop-y about this first time. But as MINIMCOM got better and better at it, he was able to instantiate the tunnel and remove so fast that the sound of air rushing in and out became audible, hence the whoosh and pop.
Entry 3-033: January 28, 2015
Why do we... knock on wood?
In the world of Rome's Revolution, Rei is always saying something that Rome has no clue what he means. Many of our colloquial expressions and actions require a cultural context to make any sense at all.
Today's question is: Why do we knock on wood for luck?
A long time ago, when people were very superstitious and believe in elves, fairies and woodland spirits, the spirits that lived in trees were considered to be kind and generous. They had a very positive vibe about them. You could touch a tree, say something nice to the spirit within and if you were lucky, the spirit would help you with your wish.
However, once the tree was cut down, the spirit's vitality was reduced. As the wood was sliced into boards, the spirit's ability to even stay awake was severely impaired.
So when you knocked on wood, you presumably woke up what remained of the spirit from within the tree long enough to hear your request and invocation and to the extent that they might grant your wish, they might do so.
Tomorrow, why do we shake hands?
Entry 3-045: February 9, 2015
Yesterday, we saw Rome set the table so that the Overmind could start to learn the meaning of life. This little vignette takes place in the middle of Rome's Revolution. Rome had explained that because the Stareaters were coming, the mandasurte were the only people who could reliably deliver a weapon to destroy these titanic creatures. Yesterday, the Overmind expressed its fear. Rome now has to show it that its fear is not justified
“Ah…” Rome thought. “Just as I suspected. You are not worried about the Vuduri. You are worried about yourself. Your fear of the mandasurte is simply about self-preservation. Your self-preservation. You are selfish. Admit it.”
“No!” protested the Overmind. “It is not just that. They think for themselves. If we allow them free rein, they will cause chaos. In that way, they are much like Garecei Ti Essessoni. And like the Essessoni, if left unchecked, they will cause much death some day.”
“So you are condemning all the mandasurte for a crime which they did not yet commit. That is preposterous. You cannot know this. Look at me. Look at what I have learned by being mandasurte. I will not cause death. I only want what is good,” thought Rome.
“But the mandasurte, they are too unconstrained,” the Overmind complained. “They cause the Vuduri to lose focus. They are not disciplined in their thinking. Bad things can happen around them.”
“You do realize you are starting to repeat yourself,” said Rome. “Know this: they are not too unconstrained. Some might be. Others are not. My Rei is good and kind and caring. He only wants to preserve life, not take it.”
“Yes, Rei,” the Overmind repeated. Then it asked a very odd thing. “What is love like?”
Within her mind, an overwhelming gladness and, simultaneously, an overwhelming sadness washed over her. “Love is life. It is what life is all about. The very things you fear are the very reasons to live. What is joy other than the delight in things or feelings. Love completes us. It gives us our future.”
“Feelings,” thought the Overmind. “There is no place for them in our world. Nothing good comes of them,” it said half-heartedly.
“Everything good comes of them,” Rome thought. “They make life worth living. Without them, you are simply going through the motions of life. Without feelings, there is no joy. Without joy, there is no point in living.”
Although the Overmind was not quite ready to admit it, eventually it came around to Rome's style of thinking. Joy was the one thing that Rome never knew she missed until she met Rei. She knew she was missing something but it took a man from the 21st century to put it into words for her.
Entry 3-052: February 16, 2015
Why do I write? Part 1
I consider myself a writer of hard science fiction. I am very proud of my Rome's Revolution trilogy. How did I get this way? Why do I write at all?
The answer starts when I was young. Ever since I was a little boy, I loved dinosaurs. Once I learned how to read, all I ever wanted to do was read about dinosaurs. My next phase was Greek mythology. I read every book I could get my hands on about the gods and those times. Then I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. This was the first science fiction book I ever read and that was the end of mythology. It was science fiction and science fiction alone for the next 50 years or so.
When I was in High School, I took some writing classes and discovered I had a talent for writing. Good thing, too. I had no musical or artistic inclinations but I could string sentences together. In fact, on my SATs, I got a higher score in the verbal test than the math. Go figure.
I took my first crack at writing science fiction my senior year in High School. Well, to call it science fiction is a bit of a stretch. It was more of a fantasy story that led up to a punchline. But that was the moment I knew I wanted to be a science fiction writer. It never, ever, occurred to me that I would be able to make a living doing that so I became a chemistry major at the University of Michigan. That didn't stop me from writing, though. In my sophomore year at Michigan, I wrote my first full-length sci-fi novel entitled VIRUS 5. Well, full-length novel is kind of an exaggeration as well. It was 20,000 words which would make it a long novelette or a short novella.
In any case, it was too long for me. Why? This was way before we had word processors and I had to type the stupid thing by hand on my IBM Selectric Typewriter. It was just too much typing for creating multiple drafts. So I broke the story up into its constituent parts and came up with a 9,000 word story entitled Rome's Revolution but that didn't go anywhere. I actually wrote a half decent short story entitled Mars, Get Ready which was a cautionary tale about a civilization that developed weapons they could no longer control. I actually got a hand-written letter of rejection from the editor of the magazine I was submitting to. That was the pinnacle of my writing career. A personal, hand-written rejection note saying good, try again, we're interested.
Then life got in the way. Wife, kids, mortgage, you know. Tomorrow, how it came back.
Entry 3-062: February 26, 2015
Fonts and professional formatting
In all of my previous books including Rome's Revolution, I have not spent any time formatting the book the way a typesetter would except for full justification of the text. For example, here is the title page for Rome's Revolution in plain old Times New Roman:
For my new book, The Milk Run, I have tried to add a few more professional touches to make it stand out. I used the same font (Neuropol) for the title page as the cover:
For the start of each chapter, I changed the first line to small caps to make it stand out:
Finally, each page now has the book title and my name at the top except for new chapters:
Of course all of these improvements only apply to the paperback. E-books lose all this formatting. Oh well. Hopefully, though, if you buy the paperback, it will look a bit more polished than my previous works.
P.S. Thanks to Michelle Proulx who discussed these tips in this blog article.
Entry 3-079: March 15, 2015
Let’s fly… across a river?
After Rei had left the underground city, Melloy, Steben and Tridin led him to a fairly narrow part of The River Karole in the second part of Rome's Revolution. We already know that even though Rei was a good swimmer, he knew he could not make it across. Well, the Deucadons had the answer. They had a rope buried beneath the sand that could be strung across. To make it over, they just need to fly through the air, zipline-style, using a tool they call a saft. Here is your first look at that tool:
Here is the section where Rei employed this unusual instrument:
Melloy bent over and dug around in the sand. At last, he found what he was looking for, a small rope, twine really, buried under the dirt. He grunted to Tridin and Steben who were busy untying something from one of the more substantial trees on the bank. They attached their rope to Melloy’s twine and the three of them retracted a bigger rope from beneath the sand.
There, before Rei, now swung a rope that traversed the river.
“Wow,” Rei said. “That’s really sleek. But how do we get across?”
Melloy reached within his clothing and pulled out another item. He held out his hand to show Rei a glinting piece of metal with two leather-like handles attached.
“This is a saft,” he said. “We use it to ride across on the rope.”
“How?” Rei asked.
“We’ll show ya,” replied Melloy. He waved at Tridin who moved forward and handed Rei his piece of metal.
“Please be sure that gets back to me,” Tridin said. “And good luck to ya.”
“Thanks,” Rei said, confused.
Tridin turned and headed back to the tree. He waited there but for what, Rei did not know.
“I will show ya how to go across,” Melloy said, “but it is nawt really difficult.”
With that, he looped his saft over the rope, grabbing one handle in each hand and backed up to the rope’s anchor point against the tree. He ran, full-speed, toward the river and just as he came to the edge, he pulled his legs up against his chest and then extended them upwards so that his body formed an ‘L’ shape. He began gliding over the river. The composition of the safts must have given them a very low coefficient of friction because it appeared that Melloy’s velocity did not decrease at all until he was on the other side. With an athletic turn, Melloy flipped off the rope and landed perfectly upright.
“Now ya,” said Steben. “Run hard.”
“All right,” said Rei. He paced back to the tree where the rope was tied and placed the saft over the rope. He grabbed onto the leather-like thongs tightly and started toward the river. He ran as hard as he could and accidentally made one step into the river before he pulled his legs up into a sitting position. He tried to curl up and point his legs upward but his abdominal muscles were far too unused to accomplish it. Luckily, there was sufficient distance between him and the water that it was enough that he stayed in a ball-shape. He glided noiselessly over the river, only glancing down once or twice. When he got to the other side, he had absolutely no idea how to stop so he just let go and tumbled over and over again, coming to rest in the sand of the far bank.
“I’ve seen better,” Melloy said, laughing. He picked up Rei’s saft and put it within the folds of his cloak. “But ya made it so that’s all that really matters.”
Pretty cool, huh? You are the first person in the 21st century to have ever seen a saft.
Entry 3-084: March 20, 2015
What would a fetus dream about?
As we discussed yesterday, while we cannot be sure why we sleep or dream, it is very clear that we must. However, if you have never experienced anything, like a baby still in the womb, what would you dream about?
This was the problem presented to Rome after she first made contact with her unborn son, Aason, in the middle portion of Rome's Revolution. Rome had just awakened from a nightmare that was a portent of her battle with MASAL's Sipre at the conclusion of Rome's Evolution. She went from sleeping sound to wide awake and her heart racing wildly. Since heartbeats and muffled sounds were about all Aason could hear, this awakened him as well. Here is that little passage:
Rome screamed. She sat bolt upright in bed, totally awake. She was shaking. She looked down at her abdomen and could see it was still fully distended. Hesitantly, she probed and found Aason there, resting quietly.
“Mother?” Aason asked from within her womb. “What is it?”
“It is nothing, baby. I just had a bad dream,” Rome said reassuringly.
“What is a dream?” Aason inquired.
“It is a picture in your mind. It is not real.”
“Do I dream?” Aason asked her.
“I do not know. Do you?” asked Rome. “Can you tell a difference from when you are awake and when you are asleep?”
“Yes. I am awake now.” Just to prove his point, he kicked her gently.
“I can see that. When you are asleep, do you know it?”
“Sometimes. Sometimes I can tell,” replied her fetus.
“Then I think you dream,” concluded Rome.
“What was your bad dream about, Mother?” Aason asked her.
“I was trying to get to your father. And someone came along who wanted to take you from me,” Rome said, shivering at the remembrance.
“That is a bad dream. I want to be with you, always,” said Aason.
“You will be, little Aason. We share a bond like no other. You will always know where I am and I will always know where you are.”
“Does Father share this bond as well?” Aason asked.
“No. His bond is different. But it is still special. I cannot wait to meet you and for you to meet him,” replied Aason’s mother.
Interesting problem, huh? How do you describe color to a person who had been blind since birth? How do you describe music to a person who has been deaf since birth? It is hard to describe something in a modality without invoking other parallels using the same modality.
Entry 3-112: April 17, 2015
No, I'm not talking about Rome's Revolution, the book. I am talking about the revolution itself. What is it and what does it mean? We saw yesterday that with the Overmind's permission, Rome taught Pegus, the leader of the Vuduri on Deucado, the "forbidden" art of separation. That is the ability to maintain one's individuality even with the Overmind present. What is critical here is that Rome had taught the Overmind why it needed to accept and embrace this practice.
Unbeknownst to the Overmind of Deucado, Rome had already introduced this technique to Commander Ursay when the Stareater Balathunazar was bearing down on Skyler Base, preparing to consume Tabit. What is critical here is through her words and actions, Rome taught Ursay why he needed to accept and embrace this practice. In Part 3 of Rome's Revolution, we come to find out that Ursay has learned his lesson well and practices it more and more. In fact, in the novel The Ark Lords, we find out he spends more time separated than connected. The Overmind of Earth is made up of many more minds than the Overmind of Deucado and even it realized this was a healthy course of action. By the time we get to the end of the 35th century, we learn in the novel The Milk Run that Ursay has effectively become President of Earth.
And what of Helome? The Overmind there was always a little different, mainly because of the overwhelming beauty of the planet. It was not very difficult for the Vuduri there to become "infected" with the desire to be independent when Rome and Rei dumped off the members of the Darwin Project. We see this in the novel Rome's Evolution. Captain Keller has married Virga and they already have two children together. They are building a society in the image of that of Deucado. What is critical here is that Rome provided the Vuduri of Helome an overwhelming argument as to why they had to accept and embrace this practice.
And so it is that Rome, the little mosdurece (half-blood) data archivist and computer lutteur, who never quite fit in, overturned the entire Vuduri civilization and moved it from a path of self-destruction to one of enlightenment and health. If that is not a revolution, then I do not know what is. I am very proud of her, even though she will not be born for another 1415 years.
Entry 3-114: April 19, 2015
If aliens come tomorrow
I live with the irrational fear that aliens will arrive on Earth tomorrow. Now it's not that I'm afraid they will be coming to eat us or conquer us. I'm not worried that they will transform society in a profound way and change the very nature of everything that we know.
No, my fear is much more selfish. I'm afraid that if aliens come tomorrow, my career as a science fiction writer is over. After all, who wants to read books about other worlds and new life forms if everybody knows you are just making them up?
At least for now, all of the things I have written about in the universe of Rome's Revolution cannot be known not to be true. They haven't happened yet. Until such time as we get to the future and find out they did not happen, they are possible which is all you want from your science fiction.
If you write fiction about things known not to be true, it is called fantasy. If you want to write hard science fiction, and I do, then if you are going to violate what is known to be true, you have to provide a valid scientific explanation as to why.
You probably think I should be more worried about economic disaster or a meteor hitting the Earth or a pandemic. It is true that these are things that should be feared but if they happen, I won't be worried about not being able to write science fiction any more. So for now, I'll just worry about aliens coming tomorrow.
Entry 3-134: May 9, 2015
In my new novel The Milk Run, when Aason, OMCOM and Junior get to Ay'den, they discover the atmosphere is less breathable than they would like. Here is that scene:
“He’s in the cargo hold,” Junior announced. “I filled it with this planet’s atmosphere as it’s a little different then you are used to.”
“What do you mean?” Aason asked.
“It’s very high in oxygen,” Junior said. “Nearly 30%. Nitrogen, carbon dioxide make up the rest. There is a trace amount of silane fluoride. Not enough to be explosive, however.”
“Can I breathe it?” Aason asked.
“The silane compound will be rough on your lungs and throat,” OMCOM chimed in. “But the extra oxygen should compensate. I would say it is breathable for short periods of time.”
I need to explain a little bit about the compound and why I invoked it. To understand silane fluoride, you first have to know what silane gas looks like. Here is the molecule
It is made up of a silicon molecule with four hydrogen atoms attached. I wanted to make the molecule more exotic so I said it was silane fluoride. This is the molecule I was intending for it to be, one silicon atom with four fluorine atoms attached:
However, technically, this molecule is called silicon tetrafluoride. The chemical formula for silane fluoride is actually H4F4Si meaning the fluorine atoms are attached to the hydrogen atoms, not the silicon atom. Oh well, I screwed up.
Regardless, whatever it is called, why was there any of it in the atmosphere, let alone enough to make Aason have coughing fits? The answer lies in the living crystals which inhabit the equator of Ay'den. I figured if they were alive, they would have to have some of the attributes of life. They would have to have a metabolism, show growth, reproduction, and respond to stimuli or adaptation to the environment. Metabolism means they ingest food, respire and produce waste products. Well, what would the waste produce be from a silicon-based life form? I figured it had to be something made of silicon hence my invocation of the improperly named silane fluoride.
Both chemicals (silicon tetrafluoride and silane fluoride) exist on Earth. Silicon tetrafluoride is notable for having a remarkably narrow liquid range (its boiling point is only 4 °C above its melting point). It is fairly volatile and is only used in the manufacture of microelectronics and the occasional organic synthesis. Interestingly, volcanic plumes contain significant amounts of silicon tetrafluoride. The moisture in the atmosphere rapidly modifies the molecule to form hexafluorosilicic acid. I guess that's why we don't find it much here.
That's all I have on my misnamed molecule. It was there to entertain you so we'll just pretend that I meant it to really be the more complex molecule after all. I mean, if I didn't tell you what I was really thinking, how would you have even known?
Entry 3-139: May 14, 2015
Sustainability - Tesla's Powerwall part 2
Yesterday, I introduced you to Elon Musk's announcement of the Tesla Energy Powerwall. This compact battery is Musk's vision of how to change the world. I also showed you what Musk claims is the total amount of surface area to power the entire United States. It is remarkably small. However, unlike the graphic, it really doesn't need to be a single square. It can be distributed on rooftops, hung on poles and so on. Here is a screen cap of his introductory video:
Just from this one image alone, you can draw several conclusions.
First, the Powerwall is pretty cool looking. Musk says it even comes in your choice of colors. The particular model shown in the screen cap is their entry level version. It is designed to mount on the wall either inside your house or outside. If you are lucky enough to have solar panels on your roof, you can pipe them directly into the Powerwall. Musk believes that a whole subset of people will be able to go "off-grid" meaning they would be completely self-sufficient from a power perspective.
These Powerwalls are surprisingly affordable. The model shown in the image is their 10 kWh model and only costs $3500. You can gang these Powerwalls together if you'd like up to 9 at a time. They are guaranteed for 10 years.
Musk and Tesla Energy are also building industrial-sized versions of these power packs for energy-producing utilities. In his speech, Musk said over a 20 year period, he could build 2 billion of these power packs and the Earth could be done with fossil fuels forever. It would mean the end of greenhouse gas emission and begin to reverse the trend toward global warming. Once the world makes the commitment to become 100% solar, as battery technology advances, you just swap them out for newer, better models. Chinese scientists have already announced the next generation of batteries that can be 70% recharged in just two minutes. Astounding!
I don't know about you but I'm just bought one share of stock in Tesla Energy (actually Tesla Motors). I think this could be really, really big!
Entry 3-141: May 16, 2015
The Immortal Jellyfish
At the end of the new novel The Milk Run something happens. It is a science fiction thing but nonetheless it allows you to ask the question, is it possible to be immortal? Most of us would say no. After all, excluding aging and organ failure there are a zillion diseases and fatal accidents. But if you could protect yourself against disease and accident, could an animal (maybe even a human) live forever?
As it turns out, there is one animal floating around the ocean that has already demonstrated this. Its technical name is Turritopsis dohrnii but its more titillating name is the immortal jellyfish.
So how does it work? How does this jellyfish live forever? The answer lies in what happens to this jellyfish as it nears the end of its life. All jellyfishes go through several stages. They begin life as a polyp then the polyp buds and produces an ephyra which is an immature jellyfish. When it is fully grown, its final stage is called the Medusa stage, I suppose because it resembles what Medusa's head was supposed to look like. In the case of Turritopsis dohrnii, they are very tiny. Even full grown, they are only two tenths of an inch across.
Normal jellyfishes then reproduce either sexually or asexually and soon after they die. But the immortal jellyfish reverses the process. It sheds its outside cells, brings up cells from the inside (I suppose they are essentially stem cells) and the animal becomes a polyp again thereby starting a new cycle.
Some scientists believe there are actually three separate species of jellyfish which have mastered immortality but nobody really knows for sure. Currently only one scientist, Shin Kubota from Kyoto University, has managed to keep a group of these jellyfish alive for a prolonged period of time. He believes that in studying them, some day their life-extending properties could be adapted to human use. Kewl, huh?
Entry 3-148: May 23, 2015
In the universe of Rome's Revolution, it has been clearly established that the little world of Deucado does not experience much in the way of seasons nor temperature extremes. The reason for this is two-fold.
First, the planet has next to no axis tilt which means no matter where it is in its orbit around Tau Ceti, both hemispheres are receiving about the same amount of sunlight year round. Second, Deucado's orbit is nearly perfectly circular, again normalizing the amount of sunshine it gets each day. So no variance in the amount of daily sunshine equates to no seasons to speak of. Deucado does have two moons, Mockay and Givvy so it does have tides and thus life was able to flourish.
Aason Bierak, the hero of the new novel The Milk Run has never experienced very much cold or heat. He did explore the far continent of Sul one time but he never went close to the polar ice cap.
While it does rain sometimes, I once told you that it's always sunny on Deucado. But this is mostly for dramatic reasons. And while we know it rains in the early morning sometimes, it never snows in the lower latitudes. So in the end, it took a journey of 68 light years to the planet of Hades for Aason to truly experience bone-chilling cold for the first time. It was his first time seeing snow, as well.
After Aason rescues his sister, I truly believe he will send a squadron back to Hades to make contact with the inhabitants there. I wonder if they will want to stay there or abandon the planet and return to Deucado or Earth, or maybe even Helome. Oh well, that's a story for another day.
Entry 3-157: June 1, 2015
Cookies in the future
The whole Rome's Revolution series takes place in the 35th century. The people that live there, the Vuduri, don't care much for food and only eat because they have to. Their food is rather bland emphasizing nutrition over flavor. Here was Rome's pre-Cesdiud take on food:
“This is all pretty tasteless,” Rei remarked to Rome. “Don’t you people use spices or anything?”
Rome stopped eating for a moment and regarded him. “It is very nutritious,” she said. “Each meal is balanced in terms of nutrients, bridaone, eh, protein and the sort.”
“But you’re allowed to have some flavor, aren’t you?” Rei asked.
“Too much flavor would be a, a distraction,” Rome said. “We have more important things to do than eat. We only do so because it is necessary.”
So needless to say, regular Vuduri are not into cookies very much.
I love cookies. I like chocolate chip, of course. I really like animal crackers. I like brownie crisps. I will eat sugar cookies. I like almond cookies, butter cookies, fortune cookies, graham crackers, macaroons and malomars. I really like fig newtowns and Oreos and Milano cookies. I am especially fond of Ivin's spiced wafers that you can only get around Halloween time. I love the Girl Scout Thin Mints.
But to me, the king of all cookies is the oatmeal raisin cookie. Why? Because it is truly delicious and it is good for you! It contains bran which is good for the colon and raisins which have anti-oxidants. They have eggs which are a good source of protein. All in all, what better way to finish off a meal than with a good oatmeal raisin cookie?
Since I am the author, I think I am going to make oatmeal raisin cookies the official cookie of the 35th century. I just have to figure out how to get some oats to Deucado. We know they have raisins because even in Rome's Evolution, they were already making wine on the southeastern edge of Lake Eprehem.
And for those of you who don't know what they look like, here are the second-best cookies in the world:
Entry 3-172: June 16, 2015
Stories of my youth
Yesterday, I told you about the influence Galaxy Magazine had on my growth as a writer. I aspired to hone my craft until one day, I would be good enough to get published. I had a gazillion story ideas. When I first started writing, I actually hand-wrote my stories. Trust me, that was a struggle. I don't have very good penmanship.
To back up a step, as a wedding present, my son Aaron (not Aason!) gave me a treasure trove of papers that had been accumulating dust in the crawlspace for 30 years. I had forgotten about them. They were the stories of my youth. The first batch, probably 20 stories, some of them multi-page, were hand-written! Amazing. They are practically illegible, after all, I wrote them three decades ago, but oh so many of them are science fiction.
Finally, my parents realized I was serious so they shelled out the money and bought me a Royal Electric Typewriter.
That's when I really went to town. I wrote story after story. You really cannot believe how many stories I found in that treasure trove.
My finest story, the one I alluded to yesterday, was called Mars, Get Ready. This was the story that I received an hand-written rejection note from the editor of Galaxy. The thrust of the story was, a long time ago, Venus, while warm, was a viable planet and a sentient, advanced life-form had developed there. But because of the atmospheric conditions, thinking and speaking were one and the same. The leaders of the colony were those that spoke the loudest.
Politically, just when the civilization had reached its peak, a war broke out and the planet was immolated completely in a nuclear holocaust. This occurred just as Earth was passing at its closest in a billion years. The radiation spark from the planet dying was just enough to cause certain amino acids in the tidal pools of Earth to join in odd ways and life began on our planet.
The story, at least the title, was supposed to be a cautionary tale stating that Venus did not die in vain but Mars better get ready. I wrote this in 1973 and I suppose nuclear fever was way up there.
I'm thinking now, that after I finish The Vuduri Companion, maybe I'll take a break and compile some of these old stories and bind them into a volume called Stories Of My Youth. What do you think?
Entry 3-187: July 1, 2015
In my Rome's Revolution series, I try very hard to write cinematically. That means I am attempting to form not only pictures in your head but pictures that could someday be rendered into a movie.
The middle section of Rome's Revolution has a split narrative, that is each paragraph is in two sections, one from Rei's perspective and one from Rome's. As the climax of Part 2 draws near, it was time to reunite the couple. My vision for this reunion was meant to be filmed from Rome's balcony then have the camera whip across into MINIMCOM's cockpit. Each of the two lovers were seeing the same thing but just from a different locale. See if you think I pulled it off:
Rome took that as her cue to disconnect the link to the Overmind. She walked to the edge of the balcony, placing her hands on the stone railing there. She shielded her eyes with one hand and scanned the horizon and finally spotted a tiny white presence, glinting in the early morning sun. She waved to it then closed her eyes to open a channel.
Inside the cockpit of the modified tug now the starship known as MINIMCOM, Fridone sat in the co-pilot’s seat, watching the view screens and various instruments. Next to him, in the pilot’s seat, sat Rei just staring out through the cockpit window, watching the sun as it was rising over the Vuduri enclave. His reverie was interrupted when his mind was warmed by his wife, the sultry little Vuduri, who thought to him, “Rei?”
“Yes, sweetheart?” he replied.
“It is time. Come and get me.”
“You bet!” Rei thought enthusiastically.
Then out loud, Rei said, “You heard the woman, MINIMCOM. Go and get her.”
Ah. Reunited at last. I always know they would be together again but it was a long time coming.
Entry 3-205: July 19, 2015
As every parent will tell you, all they want is for their children to grow up healthy and happy. Also, given a choice, they don't want them to grow up and be too fat or too thin. Well, my books are almost like my children as well. Actually, any artist will say their creations are like their children and not be ashamed to admit it.
Keeping this in mind, when I wrote Part 2 of Rome's Revolution, back when it was still the long form called VIRUS 5, I didn't want it to be too fat or too thin. So there were times when I added stuff to make sure that it had enough "meat".
But the reality was, the meat was actually fat and when I decided to boil down the three books into a single omnibus aka trilogy, I knew I had to trim the fat.
Yesterday, I presented one of the scenes that had to go. It was one of my classic "everything went black" scenes and while it was dramatic, in the end, it was just fat.
Over the next few days, I'll show you some other parts that got cut out including how the Stareater died and when OMCOM changed over to become Planet OMCOM. I'll also show you how the VIRUS mutations started. Finally, I'll give you the titanic space battle and the apparent death of MINIMCOM. I always knew he was going to be jet black and the excised scenes were my first attempt at this transformation. I found a much better way in the modern version.
Regardless, sit back and enjoy this next series even though it was just fat that got cut out. But they say it is fat that gives meat its flavor so maybe it had some value after all.
(End of sample)
Read more in
Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three by Michael Brachman
TALES OF THE VUDURI: YEAR THREE
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Copyright © 2016 by Michael Brachman
Cover art copyright © 2016 by Bruce Brachman
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