Tales of the Vuduri
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Tales of the Vuduri:

Year Four

 

By Michael Brachman


TALES OF THE VUDURI: YEAR FOUR

 

All rights reserved

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael Brachman

 

Cover art copyright © 2017 by Bruce Brachman

 

V4.01.0002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also by Michael Brachman

 

 

The Rome’s Revolution Series

Rome’s Revolution

The Ark Lords

Rome’s Evolution

 

 

The Vuduri Knights Series

The Milk Run

*The Vuduri Knight
(*not yet in publication)

 

The Vuduri Universe Series

Tales of the Vuduri: Year One

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Four

The Vuduri Companion

 

 


 

Entry 4-004: December 31, 2014

 

Looking under the ocean

 

When I am writing books like Rome's Revolution, I try to write about what I know. Failing that, I work hard to learn about what it is I am writing so I don't make any glaring errors or ruin your fictive dream.

 

Sometimes, when I am doing my research, I stumble across something interesting and poof, it goes into the book. In this specific instance, I was looking at the topology of Hawaii, the place to which Rome, Rei and Binoda are to be banished. I was using Google Maps then switched it over Google Earth. I was amazed at what I saw. Here is a snapshot:

 

underwater

 

Right away, you notice that what we think of as Hawaii is nothing but the tips of great underwater mountains (probably volcanoes) and the topography beneath the ocean is like a whole new world. I took this experience and let Rei discover it all over again:

 

The large screen showed a vast expanse of ocean with a few wisps of whitecaps. Just looking at the images, it was impossible to tell how high up they were visually although the instruments indicated they were about 12 kilometers up. Based upon how long they had been in the air, Rei guessed they were somewhere over the Pacific. Rei adjusted some filters. A polarizer removed the glare and rippling from the waves and made the water look completely transparent. From this height, Rei was able to see detail along the ocean bottom clearly enough to make out some of its topology. He could see crevices, channels and even some peaks that looked like underwater mountains. If you ignored the fact that it was deep blue, some of it even reminded Rei of the surface of the moon.

On the horizon, a landmass appeared that Rei guessed was the Big Island of Hawaii. As they got closer, he became certain of it. Their craft banked northward and flew directly over the peaks of Kilauea and the even taller Mauna Loa. To his right was the older, rounder shape of Mauna Kea. Because of their velocity, it did not take long until they passed back out over the ocean. They passed over a small gulf then directly ahead was the peculiar arrowhead shaped island of Maui. There were heavy clouds on the northern side of the island where the sea breezes met the mountain peaking in the middle of the island. They flew over the southern side and Rei could see the mammoth crater of Haleakala which he had learned about as a child.

 

Like it? Maybe not. I just thought it took my experience and gave just a teensy bit more depth to the characters I was trying to build.


 

 

Entry 4-008: January 4, 2016

 

Goodbye, old friend

 

The die had been cast. In pat 3 of Rome's Revolution, Rome had been convicted of the most serious of crimes and exiled to a beach in Hawaii. For convenience, Rome, Rei and Binoda were transported to their destination in The Flying House. But now the time had come for the Vuduri to leave and take The Flying House with them.

 

Here is the scene where they lose their first home:

 

Rome reached over and took Rei’s hand as the cargo ramp retracted and the hatch lowered. The Flying House, their home for the last year and more, rose into the air and began to move forward. They watched it bank over the ocean and then fly back directly overhead, returning along the same heading that brought them to the island. Rei thought he saw the wings waggle but could not be sure.

As their former craft arose high in the sky, a tear came to Rome’s eye which she wiped with her free hand. “I will miss it,” she said.

“Me too,” Rei replied. They watched as The Flying House became smaller and smaller until finally it disappeared. They stared at the blue sky and low lying white clouds.

Rome squeezed Rei’s hand to get his attention. Rei turned to her. “But now we get to do our work,” she said.

 

We never saw The Flying House again. I don't know what happened to it. Knowing the Vuduri, it was probably refurbished and reconditioned and placed back into service as a space tug. So we bid adieu to our old friend. It served us well but the time had come to move on.

 

tug


 

 

Entry 4-036: February 1, 2016

 

A million words

 

As my immensely talented brother Bruce observed during the development of the covers for my recently published Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three, he said, "Do you ever look at this and say to yourself 'Damn, that is a lot of writing I've done'?"

 

To tell you the truth, I hadn't really thought about so I decided to tally up how many words I have actually produced to date. Here is the word count:

 

Non-science Fiction:

Future Past = 107,000 words

The FoxPro 2.5 API = 35,000 words

 

Science Fiction

VIRUS 5 - Part 1 - Tabit = 98,000 words

VIRUS 5 - Part 2 - Tau Ceti = 98,000 words

VIRUS 5 - Part 3 - Earth = 91,000 words

 

(These books were eventually compiled down to the current Rome's Revolution which sits at 167,000 words but we won't count that since it an abridged version of VIRUS 5)

 

The Ark Lords = 79,000 words

Rome's Evolution = 84,000 words

The Milk Run = 89,000 words

 

Tales of the Vuduri: Year One = 123,000 words

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two = 140,000 words

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three = 151,000 words

 

If you tally all these up, you get an astounding 1,095,000 words. You read that right: OVER A MILLION WORDS!!!

 

If you want to get technical and throw away the VIRUS 5 novels since I didn't actually ever put them into publication, you would swap in Rome's Revolution which I did publish. That would bring the tally down to a paltry 975,000 words on Amazon alone.

 

Boy, am I blabby!

 

And there is more coming. The Vuduri Companion is up next followed by MASAL - The Robot War. Then another Tales of the Vuduri compilation and finally The Vuduri Knight.

 

Who knows, maybe I'll hit 2 million by the time it is all done. Yikes!


 

 

 

Entry 4-045: February 10, 2016

 

A bigger floating solar farm

 

Yesterday, I described the Kyocera floating sun farm in Japan which will be able to produce a little over 13MW of energy, at least while the Sun is out. Seems like a lot of free energy, right?

 

Well, Brazil has announced that they will build a floating solar farm on a reservoir which will produce 360MW of power. That's 30 times larger than the one in Japan which is the current world's record holder. Here is an artist's rendering of what that farm will look like:

 

brazil

 

This is a brilliant idea for a variety of reasons. Obviously the main objective is to capture the free energy put out by the Sun without the emission of greenhouse gasses. But there is a secondary reason, equally as brilliant. Brazil in in the midst of a historic drought and their water reserves are going down continuously. Building a solar panel farm on top of the reservoir plunges the water into continual shade and thus significantly reduces evaporation thus conserving water.

 

For obvious reasons, you cannot build floating solar farms on ponds or lakes or bodies of water that people use for recreation. But, historically, reservoirs are fenced off and not used for recreation. Therefore their large surface area is perfect holding a floating farm. No one's peace or enjoyment of life is hindered, only enhanced.

 

It is forward thinking like this that will lead us into the new age of nearly free energy generation. Our goal should be nothing less than 100% renewable energy generation by the end of the century. We can eliminate human production of greenhouse gases and leave that to cow flatulence.

 

Maybe there is still time, yet, to save the Earth. Once you achieve free energy generation, wealth becomes available to all and leads to an egalitarian way of life, just I have depicted in Rome's Revolution.

 


 

Entry 4-046: February 11, 2016

 

The Weinermobile again

 

A while back, I wrote an article that stemmed from the second section of Rome's Revolution. The scene took place after Rome had saved Rei's life by having him ejected from the Vuduri palace. The Vuduri planned on executing him but Rome stopped that. Rei was taken in a strange vehicle that was a cross between a military transport and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile:

 

Weinermobile

 

Rei had nothing but bad memories of that trip. In the final part of Rome's Revolution, he and Rome, while walking back to the shack on the beach, were interrupted by forces unknown in a similar craft. I cheated and borrowed the description of the craft from the earlier section for two reasons. First, it was meant to show that it was essentially the same craft, semi-military in design. And second, I am quite lazy. Here is that scene:

 

Suddenly, a blinding light appeared in the sky as the craft activated its floodlights, illuminating Rei and Rome and a broad circle of sand. Instinctively, Rei pushed Rome behind him as the peculiarly shaped vehicle flew overhead then settled into the sand just in front of them. Where it landed on the beach was nearly identical to where MINIMCOM had landed earlier in the day. The craft was a long tube on stilts, like a bizarre form of a bus or helicopter fuselage. It was almost insect-like. It was rounded with rows of windows along the sides and four oversized EG lifters, one at each corner mounted at the end of the stilts. Rei realized that it was very similar to the craft that had transported him from the Vuduri palace on Deucado to the thread-grass field where the rag-like creatures had tried to eat him.

Rei put his hand up to block the light from shining directly into his eyes. He saw that a door in the side lowered and there were stairs built into the back of the door. Very quickly, six armed men, dressed completely in black, ran down the steps and came right at them.

 

Six armed men, dressed in black when the Vuduri only wore white? That can't be good.

 


 

 

Entry 4-068: March 4, 2016

 

Lava tubes

 

According to Wikipedia, a lava tube is defined as "a natural conduit formed by flowing lava which moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow. Tubes can be actively draining lava from a volcano during an eruption, or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased and the rock has cooled and left a long, cave-like channel."

 

Beneath an active volcano like Kilauea, there are many lava tubes. In fact, when my wife and I flew over Kilauea during our trip to Hawaii, we actually saw molten lava flowing from a lava tube into the ocean. Lava tubes can be quite long. One tube from Mauna Loa, also on the Big Island of Hawaii, has been measured at 31 miles.

 

Lava tubes can be quite wide, up to 50 feet wide but normally they are narrower. And as they get farther from the volcano that spawned them, they tend to narrow even more.

 

Rome and Rei were being held in a makeshift prison/laboratory under the seemingly dormant Kilauea built in a larger portion of a lava tube. The room had doors and walls but you could still see the lava rock on the ceiling. Here is the image of the one I used to envision Rome and Rei's capture from which they had to escape. I'll describe why this is important tomorrow.

 

lava tube

 

 

Entry 4-121: April 26, 2016

 

Kilauea erupts

 

In the latter portions of the novel Rome's Revolution, I had been promising you that something big was going to happen to the seemingly dormant volcano Kilauea. Well the time has finally come for it to serve our needs, namely to evaporate MASAL and the threat that he represents.

 

Here is that scene:

 

MINIMCOM followed the coastline which curved back around, heading down the east coast of the Big Island toward the former site of Hilo. When he had finished the grand tour, MINIMCOM reduced his speed and came to a stop, hovering just off the coast, 40 kilometers due east of Kilauea’s caldera.

Finally, he spoke. “OMCOM reports it is time,” he said to Rei and Rome.

“Time for what?” Rome asked.

“Please observe,” he said. “However, for your safety, I must disable my external acoustic sensors.”

The cockpit became silent but only for a moment. Even though MINIMCOM deactivated the sound pickup, there was a low rumbling noise that got louder and louder, unlike anything they had ever heard before. Unseen by the humans, beneath the surface, the two thousand degree magma, which had been held in check for the last 1400 years by a combination of lava rock and pumice stone, was driving upwards, escaping its prison in the mantle of the Earth. Normally, Hawaiian eruptions are fairly well-behaved as the magma is made principally of basalt. However, the sudden unleashing by the VIRUS units caused the molten lava to leap towards the surface, melting everything in its path accelerating as it went. Driven by expanding gasses held in check for 14 centuries, the nearly white-hot rock blasted upwards gathering more and more momentum. With a deafening roar and an untouchable power, the entire top of the volcano blew off, exploding everywhere, throwing fiery rock and flames more than 600 meters in the air. The sight was astounding. The glowing lava flames lit up the early morning sky. Their gleaming glory was a vision of the primordial Earth before it was tamed by the oceans and air.

One thing was certain: Kilauea was dormant no more.

 

And just like that, MASAL was gone for good. I know I've used this image before but that doesn't make it any less cool:

 

kilauea


 

Entry 4-123: April 28, 2016

 

Mommy missed you

 

Yesterday, we saw OMCOM set Rome and Rei straight. Even though MASAL had been evaporated, the Onsiras would continue on with their mission to hunt down and destroy the mandasurte, the mind-deaf, so that their genetic program to convert mankind into living robots could continue.

 

As the end of Rome's Revolution, there is so much action happening, we almost forget that Rome is a mother, first and foremost, and that she had left her baby in the care of her parents while she went to fight her battle. Even though they had to continue the mission, there was no way Rome would overlook the chance to be reunited with her newborn.

 

At Mach 2, it took MINIMCOM less than 15 minutes to fly south of the peak of Mauna Loa, across the Alenuihaha channel, past Haleakala to reach the stretch of beach outside their dwelling on Mowei. He came to a stop and hovered about 20 meters in the air over the cabin that had been assigned to them.

“Go and check the cargo hold,” MINIMCOM said through the grille mounted in the front panel.

Rei and Rome unbuckled and ran back to the cargo section. There was a whoosh and popping noise and in front of them stood a slightly bewildered Fridone. There, too, was Binoda, holding Aason in her arms.

“What is this?” Fridone asked. “MINIMCOM’s projector told us to hurry and gather Aason. What is going on?”

“My baby first,” Rome said.

“Here,” said Binoda, walking over to Rome who held out her arms. Binoda held out the baby and Rome embraced her child, reveling in his cooing softness.

“He missed you,” Binoda said.

“I missed you,” Aason said to Rome, in her head.

“Yes, I know,” Rome replied, cuddling her child. The baby smiled. Rome held him close, feeling the joy in his thoughts.

 

You can be sure that Rome would not leave him behind again as she battles to save mankind.

 

isaac


 

 

Entry 4-143: May 18, 2016

 

Vantablack

 

You may have read about a substance called Vantablack in the news recently. The name comes from Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays. This is a relatively new material made out of carbon nanotubes which absorbs 99.965% of radiation making it the blackest substance on Earth. It is also hydrophobic which makes it waterproof. It can be applied to certain materials using vacuum-deposition or spraying it on materials and post-processing. According to the manufacturer, Surrey NanoSystems, it is so black that three dimensional objects appear two dimensional to the eye.

 

So what the heck does this material have to do with Rome's Revolution? The answer is, I don't know. I have been trying to come up with ways it could have been incorporated into the future technologies displayed there. For example, could it have been used by the Deucadons for their invisibility cloaks instead of their light conduits?

 

The answer is no. First off, a Vantablack surface is easily damaged by any direct impact or abrasion so it wouldn't be very useful applied to clothing. Second, it really wouldn't make you invisible. If you were standing in front of a tree, you'd block off the tree and be quite visible. The Deucadon's invisibility cloaks pass light from front to back so if they were standing in front of a tree, all you'd see was the tree.

 

So if we can't use it there, what about MINIMCOM using it for his stealth shield instead of his miniaturized PPT tunnel "froth" that covers his outer airframe. Again the answer is, it wouldn't work. Instead of seeing through him, you'd see him occlude things. So that's out.

 

What about as a coating on Rei's Ark? Wouldn't that be useful? Not really. The last thing you'd want on a spaceship that is supposed to be super-cold would be a substance that is ultra-absorbent and retains heat. You'd want as reflective of a surface as possible.

 

In summary, is there any way I could incorporate Vantablack in Rome's Revolution? Not that I can think of. If you come up with something, let me know.

 

vantablack


 

Entry 4-144: May 19, 2016

 

The EmDrive

 

Yesterday, I told you about a new substance called Vantablack which is blacker than black. I tried to figure out if there was some way to fold this new material into Rome's Revolution but I was unable to come up with anything.

 

Today I want to talk about the EmDrive which was designed and developed by Roger Shawyer, an aerospace engineer, in 2001. This drive focuses microwaves into a hollow chamber and has an opening at one end. According to Mr. Shawyer and many other scientists, this drive does produce a small amount of thrust. Even NASA has tested it and has confirmed that it might actually work.

 

Why is this important? Because it means you could theoretically build a starship which does not require fuel, only electricity. Toss in a small nuclear-powered reactor and you have a spaceship that can reach Pluto in a matter of months. So if this thing works, could it have been applied to Rome's Revolution?

 

Answer: absolutely. I wouldn't have had to jump through the hoops of inventing the Grey Drive which harnesses a quantum black hole to produce Hawking Radiation that drives the ship forward. I totally made that up. But conceptually, it is pretty damned close. You have chamber with this thing in the middle that produces radiation and that radiation generates a tiny amount of thrust but requires no fuel. Well, in the case of the Grey Drive, it did use xenon atoms but one atom at a time so not very much fuel at all.

 

So give me credit for getting the fundamental concept down correctly on how to get people to the stars. It just never occurred to me to run a microwave oven with the door open!

 

emdrive


 

Entry 4-217: July 31, 2016

 

Hexagons and Saturn

 

Have you ever wondered why a snowflake always has six points? Have you ever wondered why a honeycomb is made up of hexagons? Have you seen the recent images of the top side of Saturn with the gigantic hexagon? Is that the work of an alien life form or some sort of cosmic artist? Not really. Let's start over. Here are some images to help you visualize these concepts:

 

saturn

 

There is a reason and it is pretty simple. It has to do with the number of π. The circumference of every circle is 3.14159 times the diameter. We learned that in grade school. If you stack a series of circles around that first circle, you can fit exactly six circles of equal radius around the inner circle. Not five. Not seven. Exactly six. Well, not exactly six, it is really 6.28 circles. But since there is no such thing as 28/100ths of a circle, six will have to do.

 

So any grouping in nature that consists of circles or cylinders or tubes that are round will also form itself into what is known as hexagonal close packing. This means that six circles around an inner circle is the tightest you can get. This is not a law, it is just a mathematical fact. And it doesn't just apply to circles, either. It also applies to spheres in a single layer. However, when you start adding in new layers, the mathematics becomes more complex. It turns out that the next layer up only also forms hexagons but the spheres themselves settle into the gaps created by the lower level. The next level up is stacked exactly the same as the layer two rows below. This goes on and on and on as much as needed.

 

Anyway, I hope this explains the "mysterious" hexagon on the North Pole of Saturn. It isn't mysterious at all. It is just another variant of π as seen from above.


 

Entry 4-223: August 6, 2016

 

Building the campus, part 3

 

Yesterday, I showed you how my brother Bruce took my original Excel spreadsheet and converted it into a 3D layout for what would eventually become the University of Deucado. Much of the action in The Ark Lords revolves around this particular piece of real estate.

 

Once Bruce had converted it into a 3D layout, he used it to guide his more sophisticated tools as the building and construction pads started taking shape. I rotated it around a little bit but you should still be able to see my original spreadsheet underlying the streets, pads and building. If you click on the image, you will see a slightly expanded version of the original:

 

campus3

Look at all the trees and detail he added. He built himself a model of the two different species and then started replicating them to give the tree-lined streets and forest behind the campus.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll pull the camera back and show you the full vista, rendered from a single frame of the book trailer.


 

Entry 4-252: September 4, 2016

 

A starship is born, part 1 of 4

 

 While I have a general idea of how a story is to progress, many times the dialog and even sometimes plot twists are supplied by my characters. To non-writers, that would seem insane, but most writers would understand the phenomenon completely. So, too, it was that my characters surprised me when MINIMCOM, the starship that was once an auto-pilot computer, gave "birth" to a son who he called MINIMCOM Junior or just Junior for short in the beginning of The Ark Lords.

 

When I think back, I realize that MINIMCOM himself was a surprise and had burst on the scene, all of his own volition. The fact that he became one of the most, if not the most, popular characters in the Rome's Revolution was a revelation. Once I became familiar with him and became attached to him, I began to think of him as an entity, not just computer. And all entities, not just biological ones, probably have the need to reproduce to propagate the species.

 

I had explained previously that Junior was not truly a child. He wasn't even a clone. His method of gestation and birth was more like budding which is seen in flatworms, sponges and coral. Because Junior retained all of MINIMCOM's memories, he was born fully cognizant of his place in the world. But once he split off from his father, he developed his own unique personality.

 

After I was "informed" that Junior was coming, I engineered it backwards to produce a "stork" which was nothing more than an OMCOM clone in the form of a starship. I took the design from the old Commando Cody serials and you will see that in the description of the "delivery" of MINIMCOM's child.

 

The idea of MINIMCOM as a parent grew on me but I had always thought of him as, well, male. You will see, when Rei pointed out the starship had given birth, MINIMCOM was quick to state he thought of himself as a father, not a mother.

 

Starting tomorrow, I'll show the delivery and "birth" of Aason's cousin and best friend, the starship named Junior.

 

spaceship


 

Entry 4-276: September 28, 2016

 

Synthehol

 

 Anyone who has watched any of the variants of Star Trek is familiar with the substance known as synthehol. This is just an amalgam of the words synthetic and alcohol. The idea was that this substance had all the taste and smell of "regular" alcohol but would not get you intoxicated or poison you. My question is: what's the point? Other than the bite, pure vodka or even grain alcohol has no flavor. If you are going to drink and there is no alcohol, you are drinking a Shirley Temple or O'Dooles or even lemonade. So the concept of synthehol is just plain stupid.

 

We saw yesterday and the day before that Edgar Mullen was slogging down Rei's gift of the first bottle of wine produced on Deucado and he was drinking it primarily because it had alcohol. It was certainly not because he was looking for the flavor. He wanted to get drunk. Now I'm not saying everybody drinks all the time to get drunk because then everybody would end up as raging alcoholics. However, there are so many positive effects of drinking in moderation that without alcohol, again, I say, what is the point.

 

Recently, my stepson Matt sent me an article about a scientist by the name of Professor David Nutt who thinks he has invented a synthetic version of alcohol which he calls alcosynth. However, unlike Star Trek's synthehol, his version absolutely does give you a buzz but side-steps the deleterious effects of real alcohol such as hangovers, nausea or alcohol poisoning. The substance is a far-distant cousin of valium and Professor Nutt thinks that by 2050 alcosynth might replace all alcohol.

 

I, for one, reject his statement. Natural fermentation and alcohol have been around for millions of years. Man has evolved with alcohol readily available and our systems have developed to consume it. If you don't overdo it, you don't wake up with a hangover. I know some people used to take Quaaludes (methaqualone) to get a drunk-like effect. If you ever saw the movie The Wolf of Wall Street you'll understand. The Quaalude scene was pretty funny.

 

The bottom line is this: alcohol is a natural substance and if used in moderation, can lead to positive things. I, personally, am not interested in synthehol or alcosynth or whatever fakakta substance science fiction writers or actual scientists come up with. So I gave my characters the real thing.

 

By the way, the following image was hand-painted by my extremely talented wife, Denise. Go to DeniseCoopermanArtist.com to view her other paintings.

 

lapenta


 

Entry 4-285: October 7, 2016

 

Lacy Henry - Part 1 of 5

 

The other day, I introduced you to my new collection of short stories entitled The Vuduri Companion. Now while I want you to buy the book and read it and enjoy it, I thought I'd give you a little taste by presenting one of the short stories in serialized form. This particular story is Chapter 5 entitled "Lacy Henry" and it is about Jack Henry's mate.

 

No one knew she existed until I got to The Milk Run. I added her to the story because in Rome’s Evolution, the Overmind of Earth informed Rome that she was descended from Hanry Ta Jihn (Jack Henry) who was one of the most revered figures in all of Vuduri history.

 

Well how could Rome be a descendant if Jack Henry died before having a child? So this story is how I unpainted myself out of that corner.

 

Year 2671 AD

Location: Earth

Southern Part of What Had Been New Jersey

 

Lacy sat in her favorite wooden chair, one leg tucked underneath, rocking back and forth, holding her extended abdomen. Even though the chair creaked, it was a soothing sound. She stared out the window, not really focusing on anything beyond the groaning chair and her self-massage. The room itself smelled musty. Pa had tried to fix the leak in the roof so many times but nothing stopped the inevitable bloom of mold and mildew right after it rained. And it rained a lot. But Lacy was not even tempted to open the window. The wavery illusion of the air rippling across the fields told her it was another blistering hot day. The piercing must was vastly more tolerable than letting the blast-furnace heat into the darkened room.

Lacy lifted her eyes to the sky. She held her hand up to block the sun and tried to imagine if Jackie was doing the same thing right now. It had been over a month since the love of her life went off to wage war against the Ark Lords and he should be coming home very soon. Normally that thought comforted her but as the days wore on the comfort was slowly being replaced by a sense of unease.

 

Tomorrow, Lacy receives a visitor but it is not who she thinks or wants.


 

Entry 4-325: November 16, 2016

 

Are comic books science fiction?

 

Last Thursday night, my daughter aka Lupe and my brother Bruce accompanied me to see the Dr. Strange movie which was really good, by the way. Now Dr. Strange is all about the mystical arts so clearly at its core it is fantasy. But not all movies or comic books are based upon magic.

 

Take Star Wars, which looks a hell of lot like science fiction, it still is not. It is science fantasy because there is a lot hand-waving and you have humans mixed with aliens. And it took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It is clearly not extrapolated from current, known science.

 

But take a comic book like Iron Man. In fact, let's focus in on the original Iron Man movie. How was that not science fiction? It was based in the modern day with human, not alien, characters and built upon a technological base that was not hard to swallow at all. What exactly were the fantasy elements as opposed to the science fiction elements? Well, the hero wins out. But the hero wins out in my books, too. We, as Americans, like that when the hero wins out.

 

Take another comic book, Spider-man. Sure when Peter Parker got bit by a radioactive spider and got spider powers. But my hero, Rei, was given a pill that modified his genetics and gave him sonar-vision and a "cell-phone" in the head. What's the difference?

 

Let's look at Batman. Are his stories science fiction? I don't see why not. He doesn't even have super-powers. He just is physically well-trained, like Jack Reacher, and uses his intellect and technology to defeat villains. That's barely science fiction at all.

 

There are certainly plenty of comic books that are indisputably science fiction, like the Firefly series which was actually based upon a science fiction TV show.

 

So, maybe I'll leave it at this. Just because it is a comic book doesn't imply whether it is fantasy, science fantasy or science fiction a priori. It just depends upon the plot and the need to invoke technologies that we do not know not to be true.

 

What do you think?

 

heroes


 

Entry 4-326: November 17, 2016

 

The Not Sex Scene 1 of 9

 

Two days ago, I showed you that Rei forced Rome and MINIMCOM to leave Helome placing himself in Virga's custody. Virga's intentions were clear. She wanted her people to mate with Rei to force a genetic correction in the development of her race. However, Rei wasn't going to go along without a fight. Virga will never see it coming. Here is Part 1 of 9:

 

Virga and the two women accompanied Rei to the front door of one of the apartments. The door opened automatically as they approached. Once inside, Rei looked around. The room was unlike a standard Vuduri apartment. It actually looked reasonably comfortable with a workstation in the corner, a large bed against the far wall, a sitting area and a doorway which Rei assumed led to a refresher.

“Comfy,” Rei said in an offhanded way.

“This is to be your mating chamber,” Virga said. “We have done our best to fashion it in a manner pleasing to you.”

“You did a good job,” Rei said approvingly.

“We are to perform a test,” Virga said. “I have been selected by the Overmind as the first candidate. I am ovulating right now so it is time for you to inseminate me. Please take off your clothes.”

Rei whipped around to look at her and her two companions.

“Uh, I don’t know how much you know about the Essessoni,” he said, “but we don’t normally have sex in front of an audience.”

Virga looked confused. Her eyes took on a defocused look while she considered Rei’s statement. After a moment, she nodded and held out her hand. One of her companions gave her a plasma pistol and both of the other women left the dwelling.

“We are alone, as you requested,” Virga said, holding the gun up to Rei’s head. “You will now take your clothes off.”

“Uh, OK,” Rei said. Seeing no other option, he reluctantly unbuttoned his brown shirt and placed it on the corner of the bed. Virga stared at his chest and broad swimmer’s shoulders and her eyes widened slightly. He kicked off his shoes then unbuckled his tan pants and removed them, along with his underwear, making a neat pile along the edge of the bed.

Virga looked at him up and down and her arm trembled slightly.

“Are all Esssessoni built like you?” she asked hesitantly.

“Some are, some aren’t,” Rei said without a hint of modesty. “I don’t exactly exercise regularly but my job is pretty strenuous.”

“That is not what I mean,” Virga said, looking down at his waist.

 

Some things about women, at least how I as a man write about women, don't change. Virga sees Rei as a stud. Let's see if he can exploit that.


 

Entry 4-337: November 28, 2016

 

Tesla's Solar Shingles 1

 

What is your opinion of installing a solar roof on your house? I am a futurist so I am all for it but my wife is an interior designer and she said no. Her objection was not to having solar and using sustainable, free energy. Her objection was simply due to aesthetics. She hates the deep silicon blue traditional solar panels. She doesn't hate the concept but she refuses to have her roof filled with them.

 

Well, Elon Musk, all-around genius, has done it again. He is merging Tesla with a company called SolarCity and they are beginning production on a new roofing material called a solar shingle. Even right now, as they are starting up production, they have four styles: Tuscan (Terra Cotta), Slate (French Slate), Textured (Asphalt) and Smooth:

 

shingle types

 

Aren't they incredible? Tesla has built a series of model homes with roofs made of each of the four types. You have to admit these houses are stunning and there is no way you would even know they were solar if you didn't know.

 

solar house

 

Here is the terra cotta which they call Tuscan glass:

 

terra cotta

 

Incredible, right? Tomorrow, how the magic happens.


 

Entry 4-339: November 30, 2016

 

My Dad

 

I saw my Dad last Saturday for the first time in a long time. He has severe Alzheimer's Disease and doesn't know who I am nor does he know my brothers or his grandchildren. He doesn't really speak. He mostly just lies there, occasionally opening his eyes but usually just drifts off to sleep. It's a sad sight and it hurts to see him this way. However, since this is my blog and I get to write about whatever I want to, I thought I'd share with you a few memories of my Dad when he was younger and very vital. I have lots of memories of things with my family, too many to recount but there were times when it was just me and my Dad.

 

One of my fondest older memories is when my Dad would take us to the Eagles games, back when they were still playing at Franklin Field. I was just a little guy and squished in between men with big coats. I had my hot chocolate and I was warm and the games were so much fun. My Dad taught me to love sports and the Eagles especially.

 

I remember whenever I entered a science fair, my Dad would guide me on my experiments. He never did any actual work. He didn't believe in that. But he always forced me to give my best effort and I was very proud of my entries. My Dad taught me to love science in a way that sticks with me to this day.

 

I also remember my Dad was always into technology. He taught me how to build an analog computer out of meters and some potentiometers. He later got us our first microcomputer, an Altair 8800 and later the KIM-1 and AIM 65. My Dad taught me to love computers and programming and I still make my living today doing exactly that.

 

Finally, I remember how much my Dad loved his family and he was always there for us, even when he was off traveling the world. My Dad taught me how to be a Dad and how to love my children and wife and that is something I practice every day.

 

When I look back on it, all of the major influences on things I do, things I love, came from my Dad. His condition is going downhill and the person who once was my Dad will be gone soon. But our times together will always live on. Goodbye Dad. I will miss you and I will always love you.

 

mom and dad


 

Entry 4-348: December 9, 2016

 

The Dark Side of the Moon

 

Everybody knows there is no such thing as the dark side of the Moon. The entire surface of the Moon gets equal amounts of sunlight just like the Earth. What they are trying to say is the far side of the Moon. Because the Moon is tidally locked with the Earth, we only see one side. However, thanks to NASA and other space agencies, we have a very good idea of what the far side of the Moon looks like. I thought it would be neat to explore this exotic place within The Ark Lords :

 

Rei said, “As far as I can tell, the only real advantage they have is this Virus 5. The Ark Lords that landed on Earth were defeated. They clearly never had a chance to deploy it. So it’s still down there, somewhere, on the Earth.”

“Where?” Rome asked.

“I don’t know,” Rei replied. “Maybe the tape will tell us. MINIMCOM, fire it up again.”

“Of course.”

Rei sat back down in the pilot’s seat while the 3D holographic display lit up showing Colonel Slayton picked up in mid-sentence, “…the event that you get there first, we will put a beacon on the far side of the Moon to broadcast the coordinates of where we will store the virus. The beacon will be placed in the center depression of the Perepelkin Crater. It should be easy to find. The beacon will be nuclear-powered so the signal will be available for at least a thousand years. That should be more than enough time.”

The Colonel leaned forward in his seat. “Remember, the vaccine is only biologically active for a few years. If you or your people decide to deploy Virus 5, you will need to re-inoculate yourselves prior to release.” He sat back in his chair.

“That is all for now. This data slab has instructions on how to manufacture more vaccine, images of the virus storage canister, everything you will need to complete your mission.” He made a fist. “Here’s to Project Darwin, survival of the fittest and reclaiming the Earth.” He raised his hand smartly to his brow then snapped it back down. “I salute you and wish you the best of luck. God bless America.”

As the video winked out, Rei lowered his head to cover his eyes with his hand while his elbow rested on his knee.

“You know what we have to do, right?” Rome asked Rei.

“Of course,” Rei replied exhaustedly, not even looking up.

“MINIMCOM,” Rome said. “We must find the storage vessel for the virus and destroy it. That will be the end of the Erklirte forever. Take us to Earth.” She paused for a second, and then added, “Please?”

“I presume we are going by way of the far side of the Moon?”

“Yes,” Rome commanded. “We must find that beacon. It holds the key to the location of the virus.”

 

Tomorrow, let's go to the Moon!

 

far side


 

 

Entry 4-365: December 26, 2016

 

Above Unity - Hydrosonic Pump

 

A few days ago, I raised the issue of Above Unity devices that produce more energy than you put in. These are not magic devices, the energy comes from somewhere. You know full well if you light a charcoal briquette with a match, the match does not supply the energy but rather the Earth did when it compressed trees and dinosaurs during the appropriately named Carboniferous Era. However, coal is boring. I want to focus on some modern technologies that appear to be Above Unity but are based upon sound science.

 

We all know that if you concentrate a ball of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen and push it together using an ordinary atomic bomb, you get a thermonuclear reaction which is certainly above unity. That is a big boom but there is no magic. However, tritium is hard to come by. We know that the Sun fuses ordinary hydrogen and converts it to helium because of the tremendous pressure and heat there. So could we convert ordinary hydrogen here on Earth into helium? There may be a shrimp (yes, you read that right) called the Pistol Shrimp that might be doing just that. Here is a picture:

 

shrimp

 

The shrimp cocks its large claw and snaps it closed so fast that it creates a cavitation bubble which then collapses so rapidly, it generates temperatures nearly as high as the surface of the Sun. The shock wave generated is used to stun or kill its prey. And many times, the shock wave is accompanied by a flash of light, called sonoluminescence, which may be a couple of hydrogen atoms fusing, a tiny thermonuclear explosion at the bottom of the ocean.

 

This concept was developed and exploited by a man named James L. Griggs who created the Hydrosonic Pump which has since been renamed the ShockWave Power Cavitation Reactor. The generator spins rotors to create cavitation bubbles which collapse and generate heat. Some people believe that his machine is an Above Unity device, in that it produces more net energy that it consumes. Mr. Griggs is a businessman and knows that if he were to claim that, he immediately would be escorted to the place reserved for fringe scientists. So he does not. Instead, he focuses on the uses for his ShockWave Reactor for heating, mixing and extraction. His company, Hydro Dynamics, concentrates on the following:

 

-Hop extraction for beer

-Biodiesel reactors for transesterification

-Scale free heating (no fouling)

-Polymer and gum hydration

-Mixing thick and viscous liquids

-Gas-liquid mixing

-Extraction

-Increasing mass transfer, process intensification and acceleration

-Ethanol yield enhancement

 

Still, in its heating configuration, if you measure the amount of energy put in and the amount of energy that comes out, it looks suspiciously like an above unity device (some measures show it at 150% or more) but if this is true, it is based upon sound scientific principles and not fringe science.

 

 

 

Read more in

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Four by Michael Brachman



TALES OF THE VUDURI: YEAR FOUR

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Copyright © 2017 by Michael Brachman

Cover art copyright © 2017 by Bruce Brachman

 


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