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Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three

 

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three

 

Michael Brachman

 

Copyright 2016 by Michael Brachman

 

Shakespir Edition

 

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

TALES OF THE VUDURI: YEAR THREE

All rights reserved

Copyright © 2016 by Michael Brachman

Cover art copyright © 2016 by Bruce Brachman

V3.01.0002

 

 

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

 

 

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)

 

 

 

Dedication

 

Just like last year, it’s difficult to come up with a new dedication when the same people behind Tales of the Vuduri: Year One and Year Two are the very same people that helped me produce this volume, Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three. My wife, Denise, deserves a special thank you for understanding I have to write the blog posts. Her patience is boundless. I am going for a self-imposed record of five continuous years which means every week I have to put in the time to craft the entries. Denise graciously allows me the time to do so.

 

And, as always, I want to thank my immeasurably talented brother Bruce. He is my go-to guy when it comes to the world of the Vuduri. Not only is he my editor and artist and the inspiration behind MINIMCOM, but he is also fiercely protective of the Vuduri culture and characters. He is always receptive to me bouncing ideas off his head, even when he doesn’t have the time. In addition, Bruce creates the amazing covers, the astounding book trailers and makes my writing so much better. Bruce, none of this would exist without you.

 

Finally, as always, I would like to thank my heroes, Rome and Rei, their children and all the living, breathing denizens of the 35th century. They have supplied me with an endless amount of material about a future not yet born.

 

Introduction

Looking back, when I started writing my Tales of the Vuduri blog in December of 2012, maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea. It is now 2016 and I am well over 1100 entries so I suppose you could say I am all in. I have set a personal goal of continuously blogging for five years and I am 60% of the way through. Do I regret it? No, not really. Practicing my craft isn’t such a horrible thing and a lot of times I get so engrossed in a topic that three, four, five or six articles will fall out of it.

As with the prior two volumes, the material that served as background for the Rome’s Revolution series continuously provides me with a map of what to write about and the blog is an awesome place to present some of that material. So much back-story, deleted scenes, character motivation, it all falls out of just following the novels. I have completed Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three and I am not even finished commenting on my first sci-fi novel, Rome’s Revolution. I suspect I will finish up that particular book fairly soon and only then can I get into the background of the second book in the trilogy entitled The Ark Lords. I suppose the final book, Rome’s Evolution, will have to wait until Year Five!

This past year was also one where I learned a hard lesson. I got hit with an image copyright infringement tussle and it ended up costing me money. I like to spice up the articles by decorating them with funny or meaningful pictures. In my naiveté, I just grabbed them from the Internet as long as there was no copyright right in front of my face. Since I wasn’t charging anybody any money for the blog or these books, I figured no one was being harmed. Boy was I wrong! Turns out, you can’t do that. So now I use an exhaustive set of protocols to make sure the images I present are safe and copyright-free. I mostly use my own photographs and drawings but if I take any images from other source, I make sure that I have the right to repost them. I wrote a whole blog article about it last March so you can see what I go through now to make sure that none of my images infringe upon anyone’s rights.

On a happier note, as with the prior two years, I continually learn about the 35th century by writing the posts. This year, I finally finished my next novel entitled The Milk Run and this blog has helped me work out a lot of the ideas incorporated in that book. I also recorded my first audiobook. Originally, I was going to pay someone to record Rome’s Revolution but my Indiegogo campaign fell woefully short. However, I did raise enough money to buy a really great microphone and last summer, I threw myself into the project. It took me four months to record The Milk Run but by the time I was done, I had an eight-hour, fairly professional audiobook which is now available on Audible.com.

This year, I will be releasing The Vuduri Companion which will be a series of short stories and novelettes which didn’t really fit anywhere else. It will even include the original versions of VIRUS 5 and Rome’s Revolution written way back in 1973. It will also contain an original short story entitled The Immortals which will be the springboard for a new trilogy starring Rome and Rei. I don’t have much by the way of detail regarding the various plots but I have complete faith that my heroes will provide me with what I need when I need it. They haven’t failed me yet.

To produce so many blog articles, I still follow the discipline learned in that first year. I write no less than seven blog articles on Saturday or Sunday and then post one each day over the course of the next week. Sometimes, if I know I am going to be away the following weekend, I’ll write 14 articles. That’s a lot to pump out at one time! Now that we’ve come to the end of Year Three, I’ve taken the latest 366 articles and bound them together in this volume for your reading pleasure.

Many times, when writing articles for the blog, these stories or ideas launched me on a tangent, sometimes a week or two at a time but I always returned to the story. I’m actually excited about reaching the end of my VIRUS 5 review and finally getting to The Ark Lords and Rome’s Evolution. As I have mentioned numerous times, in many ways, Rome’s Revolution wrote itself. The next books needed a lot more input. I’m looking forward to sharing that process with you.

As with the previous two volumes, it is not necessary that you have read the Rome’s Revolution series or even either of the first two Tales of the Vuduri but it couldn’t hurt. There are often references within the articles to events and characters that inhabit those books. But just like last year, there are also some amazing new scientific facts and amusing articles that transcend the original trilogy. And also like last year, there’s been a lot happening in the world of science over the last 12 months that has a bearing on the series and the projected world of the 35th century. I try to incorporate those discoveries as I go.

 

Here is a partial list of what you’ll find in these entries:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. How Rei became such a good swimmer

*
p<>{color:#000;}. My very first published article entitled Ion My Love

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Why we say goofy things like “rule of thumb”

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Asking the question, are we, ourselves, somebody’s simulation?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The evolution of the web sites and audiobook

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Holidays on other worlds

*
p<>{color:#000;}. What I would do if the aliens come tomorrow

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The complete 5-star review of The Milk Run from Risingshadow.net

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A whole series on sustainability including:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Artificial leaves

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Creating fuel from air

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Tesla’s Powerwall and how it will change the Earth

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The Immortal Jellyfish

*
p<>{color:#000;}. How I was able to take a simple mispronunciation of a single word and turn it into a 90,000 word novel

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The secret history of my first motorcycle

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The original death of the Stareater named Balathunazar

*
p<>{color:#000;}. OMCOM’s mutations as told from the perspective of a VIRUS unit

*
p<>{color:#000;}. All about our trip to Hawaii 10 years ago and how it completely influenced the set design for Rome’s Revolution and the world of Deucado

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Why Rome was really picked to accompany Rei

*
p<>{color:#000;}. How the Ice-Saberoo ended up looking the way it does

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Discourses on computer ethics, character development and more

*
p<>{color:#000;}. How my molecular sequencer is really just the ultimate 3D printer

*
p<>{color:#000;}. And not last and not least, more amusing images. Legal this time!

 

It is up to you to judge but I hope I have continued to improve as a blogger. As with the previous volumes, you will find occasional hypertext links but of course they are not functional within an e-book or paperback. When the sole purpose of a link was to take you somewhere else, I added an underline to the link. As with the prior two Tales of the Vuduri, the entries are exactly as they appeared on Goodreads although I do fix typos when I find them.

Feel free to jump in anywhere. You don’t need to read the articles in any particular order although the general flow would follow that of the second half of Rome’s Revolution. And as always, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

 

Entry 3-001: December 27, 2014

These stories are true

 

Every time I tell you about the world of Rome’s Revolution, I claim to you that these stories are true, they just haven’t happened yet.

 

For example, I wrote a story called “Acceleration” over 10 years ago about a guy who is on his way to his lawyer’s office when he gets sucked up into space and accelerates until he hits the speed of light. He gets stretched out so thin that eventually, he ceases to be a person and becomes a point of view. Who knew that I would need this story for Aason’s trip to Heaven in the upcoming novel, The Milk Run which I wrote this past year.

 

Even within that book, I threw in stuff that I needed to make the plot move along but didn’t really have a justification for it. For example, I needed Aason to plan a trip to the equator of Ay’den, the world of the K’val, to find living crystals to build a capsule to return the god named Molokai back to his home.

 

So I gave Sh’ev’s father the task of having spearheaded an expedition to that place 200 years earlier. I had no reason. I just needed it for the plot.

 

Well, in the shower the other day (it always happens in the shower), I realized that Molokai had commanded Oush B’trev, Sh’ev’s father, to lead that expedition because he knew that some day soon he would need the raw materials.

 

So you, the reader, will consume the book, come across this description and say yeah, it makes perfect sense when the reality is, had you read this section two weeks ago, you’d scratch your head and say, well this is a little convenient.

 

So where do these ideas come from if they aren’t true? Downright spooky!

 

 

Entry 3-002: December 28, 2014

Happy Two Year!

 

Can you believe it? It has been two years since I started this blog. Tales of the Vuduri has now amassed 731 posts and I’m still going strong. I missed three posts in Year One. I did not miss a single post in Year Two!

 

I am right in the middle of compiling the past year’s posts into a new volume entitled Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two. I have the intro written and I’m working my way backwards from December 2014. I’m just about done October and I’ll try and fold in September by the end of the weekend.

 

My brother Bruce has already finished the cover for the book and it is even better than last year. Here’s the cover:

 

 

Bruce added a new ring around I-cimaci and introduced some new starships. I love the one in the upper right hand corner. Also, if you look at the starport in the lower right hand corner, you’ll see some ships docked.

 

I have finally finished the complete draft of The Milk Run and it is the hands of six readers. It’s a race and hopefully somebody will get back to me soon.

 

I was going to publish Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two first then The Milk Run when it was ready. Bruce talked me into getting TOTV:Y2 ready but put it on the shelf until The Milk Run gets published. That way, people who read this new compilation and see references to The Milk Run will be able to buy it.

 

Entry 3-003: December 29, 2014

Drifting toward the younger

 

I’m thinking now that the freedom from responsibility that we afford our children from their teenage years into their twenties might be a purely modern phenomenon. Kids are getting married later and generally having more fun longer. I think the days of people graduating high school and embarking on a career have, to some degree, gone by the wayside. I also think those who attend college also delay embarking upon marriage, careers and so on. Of course, this could just be a passing phase or a skewed observation.

 

As I have been writing about the world of Rome’s Revolution, it occurs to me that the above is simply a luxury that comes with having an advanced and affluent society. In the boondocks or in my case outlying colony worlds, it just seems like the youth of my stories are growing up faster and taking on responsibility sooner that their Earthly counterparts.

 

Is this a sociological principle or just something that my brain has made up? In my world of the 35th century, it seems like by the age of 25, you are already established in the life you will live. There is no room and certainly no time for searching or finding yourself.

 

The two main characters of my next novel, The Milk Run are aged 16 and 21. By age 16, Lupe Bierak has already become pretty much her own woman and Aason Bierak has already met the girl who he will eventually marry. In the historical chapters of The Ark Lords, Jack Henry was already running his mother’s farm at 15 and was the leader of the rebellion by age 25. I don’t know. If these stories are true, as I have maintained, does this mean that society will drive back toward the younger? I guess we’ll find out.

 

 

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 3-005: December 31, 2014

The world is crazy

 

Even though Rome’s Revolution takes place in the 35th century, I have tried very hard to make sure that each advancement in science, physiology, physics and so on are built upon the foundation laid earlier in the series.

 

This is the essence of science fiction and what distinguishes it from fantasy. You can say or have the characters do anything you want as long as it cannot be dis-proven. Fantasy requires no such rules. You can literally wave your hands and say this is so because it is magic and that’s the way this magical realm works.

 

However, even with all the painstaking work I put in to get us to a certain point, if you look at the state of things in the absence of how you got there, it is indistinguishable from fantasy. Even our 21st century hero, Rei Bierak, sees this. Consider this scene that takes place right after he discovers that OMCOM has modified his genetics and given him sonar-vision:

 

The reality of the situation was that while OMCOM had enhanced Rei’s sensory apparatus, he had done nothing for Rei’s cardiovascular or muscular heartiness. It wasn’t too long until Rei was forced to slow down and suck in some deep breaths as the lactic acid built up in his muscles. After taking a moment to compose himself, he found that even at a normal speed, he made enough noise that he could “see” his path as clearly as during the day.

“Vroggon Chrosd ta Jasus,” he said out loud, knowing all the while that MINIMCOM could hear him, “I’ve got a super-computer for a compass, bat vision and a cell phone in my head. That OMCOM is crazy too, you know.”

“I would not call him crazy,” MINIMCOM replied. “Creative, perhaps.”

“Still,” Rei said. “How does he even think of such things?” Rei’s slower pace caused less noise which made the scene in front him less clear. Nonetheless, he was able to rock his head back and forth and received a sensation very similar to looking around with his eyes. Finally, he spoke again. “So MINIMCOM, tell me. How about the enclave? How far do I have to go?”

 

Sadly, Rei had a long way to go and MINIMCOM’s whoosh/pop transport tunnels were not ready yet and Rei had only gone 25 kilometers on a 40 kilometer trip. I guess he’d better keep going.

 

Entry 3-006: January 1, 2015

Happy New Year, Vuduri-style

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, we never really discuss the new year. We know that the Vuduri keep track of years, however, their calendar begins the day after The Great Dying in which 9 billion people died due to the Darwin Virus Strain 4.

 

The Great Dying took place in our year 2081 AD so the Vuduri Year 1 PR (where PR stands roughly for Post-Resurrection) would be our 2082 AD. But does the first day of the Vuduri calendar, which consists of 10 months, start on the equivalent of our January 1st?

 

Answer: no. Their year starts much closer to late September right around the autumnal equinox. More like the start of the school year or the Jewish New Year.

 

Regardless, the Vuduri don’t party much so other than flipping a digit on their calendar, there isn’t much todo about New Year’s Day. They are more into celebrating the end of the old year during Poor Tamas which is a combination of Yom Kippur and New Year. When Rei and the Essessoni arrived, while they were forced to follow the Vuduri calendar, they did try and raise the excitement level a little bit.

 

So from all of our friends in the 35th century, I wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year.

 

 

Entry 3-007: January 2, 2015

First person, third person

 

Whenever you decide to write a novel like Rome’s Revolution, the first thing you have to decide is if you are going to write it in the first person or the third person. I’ve tried both. I wrote my first novel in first person. The book is entitled Future Past and it is a romantic novel (shocker) about a guy who goes on a reality show to reacquaint himself with all the girls he ever dated or loved from kindergarten on.

 

This book was easy to write in first person because I just used my imagination to put myself in the situation and describe what I saw. Nothing happened outside of the protagonist’s field of view. I cranked out 325 pages so this story lent itself to that style.

 

I tried writing a science fiction novel entitled The Last Cavalier in the first person and got so bogged down, I actually gave up. There were simply too many things, future history, degraded technology, etc. that had to be introduced that the main character could not know. I had no way to deliver this information to you, the reader.

 

For the Rome’s Revolution series, I used a variant of third person called third person omniscient. This is just an admission that you, the author, know everything about the story. I needed to do this because there is so much science and action happening outside of the protagonist’s view that it would be impossible to do in the first person. I tried to introduce a you are there (aka third person limited) kind of feel but, of course, that got ditched when I had to ratchet up the action, action, action.

 

In Rome’s Revolution, Part 2, I introduced a split narrative which could only be done third person omniscient. In The Ark Lords, I embedded an entire historical mini-novel in flashback style. How could you do that in first person? In Rome’s Evolution, I had two flashbacks. Finally, in the upcoming novel The Milk Run, I have my first flash sideways which could only be done with third person omniscient.

 

The bottom line is, for science fiction at least, I prefer third person omniscient because it allows me to tell you the story in the best way possible. Maybe some day I’ll take a crack at first person again but for now it works so why mess with it?

 

Entry 3-008: January 3, 2015

Rome loves her coffee

 

In the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome has finally contacted Aason and gotten him to agree to stop pushing. This simple act would prevent her polyhydramnios from getting worse and allow Aason to have a normal birth.

 

She finally had her affairs in order. She had gotten Rei out of the Vuduri palace safely, she had put the Overmind in its place, settled Aason and it was time to attend to her own body. She needed some food and some rest. What I found interesting was she was also craving coffee. Here is that little scene:

 

Rome cut the connection to Aason and reconnected to the Overmind.

“You have settled things with the child?” the Overmind asked without waiting.

“For the time being,” Rome thought. “We are connected now and he will stop hurting me. It was just his fear that was causing the reaction.”

“So are you ready to talk to me?” it asked.

“No,” Rome said. “Before we start, I must rest some more. And right now, I need sustenance. After that, we will talk, I promise.”

“Very well,” said the Overmind a bit petulantly.

With that, Rome opened her eyes and looked around her. Two of the medics saw her awaken and came over to her. She nodded and they helped her stand. In slow and careful steps, they walked her out of the examination room and took her to a more traditional room. Rome allowed the Overmind to probe her mind and determine her preferences in food. They brought her a tray of broth and a cup of coffee, blessed coffee! Rome knew she was not supposed to drink it but she figured one cup could not hurt. Diving into her food, Rome ate and drank and then she slept.

 

Rei did a good job in teaching her the wonders of a good cup of coffee. Don’t ask me how the Vuduri figured out how to brew it. Maybe they took it from the food synthesizers aboard The Flying House. After all, there were no Starbucks 11.9 light years from Earth just yet.

 

Entry 3-009: January 4, 2015

Rei was a good swimmer

 

Early on in the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, I had established that Rei was a good swimmer. In fact, sometimes I describe him as having broad swimmer’s shoulders.

 

 

Well, little did I realize at the time that I was going to go on and create what was then Book 2 and is now Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. Rei had escaped from the Nayer’s house and headed north. However, to get to the secret Vuduri enclave to the north, at some point, he would have to cross the River Karole. This is how he described it (remember, Rei is from Pennsylvania):

 

At last, Rei came to the river. On the ground, it seemed even wider than it had when Rei had flown over it.

“That’s way wider than the Delaware,” Rei thought to himself. “Like half a kilometer?”

From my orbital readings, just before we crashed, I can derive an estimate of a little over 400 meters so I believe you are correct,” MINIMCOM replied.

“How am I going to get across?” Rei asked in his mind. “Am I supposed to swim?”

I would not advise that,” MINIMCOM said. “The current is very strong. You might get swept downstream and lose all your progress.”

“So what am I supposed to do?”

You will have to find a narrow place or a shallow place,” replied MINIMCOM. “I cannot help you in this regard. I do not have sufficient data.”

Rei came to clearing along the bank. The river was only slightly narrower here but moving very rapidly. He was really tired from his jogging. MINIMCOM was right. He did not think he had the ability to swim across it. He decided to take a short break. He sank down to his knees and it was only then that he realized how thirsty he was. He bent over the edge and stuck his lips right into the water and drank long and hard. The water had a bit of a mineral bite to it but it was wet and that was what he needed. He rocked back on his heels and shut his eyes, using his new-found sonar vision to examine the landscape. The river’s ceaseless rushing sound was like a searchlight to him, illuminating the woods on his side of the river and across. He pulled his legs around so that he was sitting on his butt and took a deep breath.

I think this sonar vision is going to make it hard to get any rest,” Rei said out loud.

Why do you say that?” asked MINIMCOM inside his head.

“Because I’ve never been good at sleeping with the lights on and now when I close my eyes, I see almost as clearly as with them open,” Rei thought back.

That is a dilemma,” MINIMCOM observed.

 

Luckily, OMCOM had thought the whole thing through and attached a neural on/off switch to Rei’s vestibular system. Whenever Rei’s head tilted back more than 45 degrees, the sonar-vision cut out so really, to get a good night’s sleep, all he had to do was lay down which is what we all do at night.

 

Entry 3-010: January 5, 2015

A Deucadon

 

In the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is stymied by his inability to get across the River Karole. Yesterday, I showed you a little scene where he decided to take a break right on the bank of the river. The sound of the water rushing by was like a searchlight for his sonar-vision.

 

The Deucadons were masters of conduit technology and had created invisibility cloaks where light passed from back to front and side to side so you could not see them during the day or during the night. However, it would never occur to them that they would come across someone with sonar-vision. So day/night/whatever, they would be visible because their physical form would bend or block sound. Here is the first time Rei became aware that there were other inhabitants on Deucado besides the Vuduri and the Ibbrassati:

 

Rei rocked back up to sit on his knees. He closed his eyes so that he could survey the far bank and figure out the best place to cross. Suddenly, off to his right, Rei heard crack and turned his attention to that direction. He was shocked to “see” a figure moving rapidly among the trees. He stood up and opened his eyes but all he could see was blackness. He closed his eyes again and the quietly moving figure was easily evident to him.

The figure started moving off to the east just as a gentle wind started to blow. Rei decided to follow him. As the wind picked up, the cane trees began to sway back and forth and made a clacking noise as their thin trunks bumped against each other. The sound was utterly ethereal. It was like a thousand bamboo wind chimes and it illuminated the landscape more brightly than daylight. The sound was so striking that it even gave a false color to the sound-mapped vision of the woods.

Rei had no trouble following the mysterious figure. The stranger’s own footfalls betrayed him as they provided a tracking signal better than anything MINIMCOM could have rigged up. Rei kept his distance. He did not feel it was necessary to get too close. On and on they went, deeper into the woods until they came to an outcropping of granite or basalt. The man slipped in-between some rocks and then was gone. 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.

 

This scene was inspired by the time Denise and I went to Hawaii and stood in the bamboo forest on Maui when the wind started picking up. The click-clack sounds the trees made was very cool.

 

Don’t worry about Rei, we know that he eventually makes friends with the Deucadons and eventually facilitates their return to the surface after living under ground for several centuries.

 

 

Entry 3-011: January 6, 2015

Black

 

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 3-012: January 7, 2015

The Glade

 

Sometimes while writing Rome’s Revolution I had a very clear picture of a vista or environment but I struggled to describe it because it wasn’t any place where I had ever been. I mean I’ve never been to the Tau Ceti system so how could I really, truly tell you what places look like?

 

Well, a funny thing happened which I’ll explain shortly. In yesterday’s post, I described a scene for you wherein Rei comes across a group of Deucadons for the first time who were camped out in a glade. I described it as:

 

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.

 

Not much to go on, huh? Well, here’s the funny thing. Just the other day, I was watching a movie called The Maze Runner which is a story about a boy named Thomas who woke up in the middle of glade. He didn’t know why he was there or what to do at first but eventually he figured it out. Here is a picture of it:

 

 

While this is not exactly what I was trying to describe and it is tremendously bigger than what I had thought of, I found it interesting that the director (Wes Ball) had the same vision as me. But, hey, I thought of it first!

 

The Deucadons camped out there because they needed to hide from the prying eyes of the Vuduri. The glade provided them with protection from all four corners. There was no entry other than the one crack (similar to the portal in the movie seen on the right) and they hid their heater which looked like a glowing box.

 

Entry 3-013: January 8, 2015

Days and nights confused

 

In Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, I had to create a split narrative to show Rome and Rei’s spiritual and physical journeys as separate threads. Each chapter was divided into a Rome section and a Rei section. The process of keeping track who was where and when was so complex, I had to create a spreadsheet. Here is a synopsis of it:

 

But as confused as I was or tried not to be, my characters were even more confused. The days on Deucado are shorter than Earth and who knows what time their biological clock said it was when they first arrived on the planet.

 

While the chart only says AM or PM, it doesn’t really tell you whether it was at dusk, dawn or midnight. So I had to do something in Part 2 that I never did before or since, I told you what time of the day it was so you could envision the surroundings. Rome was so messed up, circadian rhythm-wise, that she finally woke up to have her first confrontation with The Overmind of Deucado at midnight. Here is the introduction to that chapter:

 

Even though it was midnight, Rome awakened refreshed. She patted her stomach and was thrilled to see there was no pain. While it was still extended, her abdomen was no longer the gross exaggeration of pregnancy that she had displayed earlier that day. She probed with her mind and contacted Aason who was being quite active. He was moving around, involved in his own little game of discovery. Rome could not make out exactly what he was doing but he assured her that he was fine and required no contact just then.

Despite the fact that it was pitch black outside, there was plenty of latent heat in her room. Rome sat up in bed and stretched. She swiveled her legs around and stood up, taking care to hold on to the edge of the bed with her hand. Her infrared vision was sufficient to guide her to the small couch that had been placed in the middle of the room. She walked over to it, sat down and swung her legs around so that she was fully reclining on the couch. She reconnected to the Overmind and let it into her mind, offering no resistance.

 

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but I’m ready to go to bed at midnight, not start my day. Oh well, it’s just a story!

 

Entry 3-014: January 9, 2015

The seeds of destruction

 

In Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, before Rome had collapsed due to exhaustion and the strain of reconnection, she had told The Overmind of Deucado the following:

 

“It is your choice. You have the reports from Skyler Base to corroborate them. You can choose to know this is true. You ask me why the distinction between what and who I am? You only know one way to approach things. The time has come to start asking new questions. You need new answers. Within what you are now lies the seeds of your destruction.

 

But what did she mean by the words: within you lies the seeds of your destruction?

 

The actual explanation is fairly lengthy and occupies a good quarter of Part 2 of the book. After all, Rome has the ability to pontificate. Wait, I know. You’re saying I’m the author so it’s really my problem. I got news for you, I just transcribe the stuff, the characters provides the dialog.

 

Anyway, the seeds of the Overmind’s destruction can be summarized as three main issues:

 

1. The Overmind was sprung fully grown from the PPT connections of the Vuduri. It is not a natural entity and has no evolutionary history to hone its path.

2. It considers the mandasurte a threat that needs to be eliminated.

3. It does not want the Vuduri to think for themselves. The Overmind makes decisions unilaterally with no one to present counter-point.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll present Rome’s first argument which forces the Overmind to question everything about its own existence.

 

Entry 3-015: January 10, 2015

An abomination

 

Yesterday, I presented to you a summary of Rome’s case against the Overmind from Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. The first part of the discussion surrounds the fact that the Overmind sprang into existence, fully formed, as soon as enough Vuduri had a PPT resonance going. Rome felt that as an entity it had no time to prepare its thought processes as would another organism that grew.

 

She started it out with a nuclear bomb. Even the great and power Overmind was shaken by her opening arguments:

 

“Yes,” Rome replied. “However, what I am about to tell you is very harsh. You must listen to everything I say and only after I am done should we discuss this. The things I say will be hard to hear but I am not saying them to insult you. They are simply the truth as I see them. You may challenge them after I am done and perhaps between the two of us, we can arrive at a consensus.”

“Agreed,” said the Overmind. “Begin.”

“There are three reasons why I tell you this, that within you lies the seeds of your destruction. During this session, I will only explain one. I will explain the other two at a later time. Do not press me on them. This one thing alone will be hard enough to hear without trying to work through it all at once.”

“I am the Overmind,” the Overmind insisted. “There is nothing you can say that will disturb me in the slightest. I can handle anything you have to offer.”

“We will see. But I insist. One step at a time, please,” Rome said forcefully.

“If you insist,” said the Overmind. “Continue.”

“All right. First and foremost, you are an abomination.”

“What?!” the Overmind stated, “why do you say this?”

“Please wait until I am done. I know you will not forget what I say and I promise to answer all questions. But I will never get through it if you interrupt me.”

“But what you said. Why be cruel?” whined the Overmind.

“It is not my intent. Only that I tell you the truth as I see it. As I said, I need to get through this. That is why you must hold your comments in abeyance until I am done. It is possible that I am mistaken and then perhaps I will retract some of these things.”

“All right. I accept your conditions,” said the Overmind. “Continue.”

“You are an abomination because you sprang into existence. You were not born. You and your brothers did not have access to the normal shaping and smoothing that nature provides all living things. There was no natural selection. There was no evolution. There was no trial and error to find your best form.”

“I am the best form,” the Overmind said. “I am already perfect. I came from the samanda of Earth. I am the culmination of the integration of a million minds.”

Rome simply waited until the Overmind finished its bluster.

“Are you done yet?” she asked impatiently.

 

Tomorrow, part 2 of Rome’s opening argument.

 

Entry 3-016: January 11, 2015

The purpose of life

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, the question of the purpose of life comes up quite often. In fact, the entire plot of the upcoming novel The Milk Run revolves around that very question.

 

Yesterday, Rome started it out with a nuclear bomb by telling the Overmind of Deucado that it was an abomination. In this next section, she asks the Overmind to consider if it even has a purpose after waiting out its bluster:

 

“Are you done yet?” she asked impatiently.

“I apologize,” said the Overmind. “Continue.”

“What is your purpose?” Rome asked.

“My purpose?” The Overmind was stumped. “I do not have a purpose. I exist. What is your purpose?”

“That is easy,” Rome replied. “My purpose it to live and to experience life.”

“Then that is my purpose as well.”

“No,” Rome responded. “You are nothing but a construct. The result of an infinitesimal phase delay between uncounted gravitic transceivers. You are an artifact. You are not real.”

“If I am not real, how do you explain this conversation,” protested the Overmind.

“Fine,” Rome thought, “I will be more precise. You are not a real being. You may be a real entity. But the lack of a corporeal base has detached you from everything that is important in this world. You only know your own existence. You cannot know the real world. All of your decisions are based upon abstraction, not reality.”

“I am in constant contact with all my communicants. I experience the world through them,” said the Overmind.

“Second order,” Rome said. “You experience nothing yourself.”

“But the Overmind of Earth has been in existence for two centuries. Surely by now you realize that it has determined the optimal mode of existence.”

“Absolutely not,” Rome said. “And I can prove it.”

“How?” asked the Overmind.

“What do you think of your mission here? Maintaining a prison world for the mandasurte?”

The Overmind did not answer her right away. Rome waited patiently. Finally, the Overmind spoke.

“This is my mission. It was assigned to me by my progenitor on Earth. I am executing that mission to the best of my ability.”

“That is something a computer would say,” said Rome. “How do you feel about it?”

 

Does the Overmind even have feelings? It certainly seems so. Tomorrow, the next part of Rome’s argument.

 

Entry 3-017: January 12, 2015

The will of the Vuduri

 

Yesterday, I presented to you the first part of Rome’s questioning of the Overmind of Deucado from Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. She asked the Overmind about its purpose in life. It claimed it derived its purpose by its mission, mainly, keeping the mandasurte trapped on Deucado.

 

Rome wasn’t having any part of it. Rome asked the Overmind flat out, how do you feel about it? The Overmind had no choice but to respond:

 

“If Earth assigned this to me, it must be the right thing to do,” answered the Overmind.

“Are you absolutely certain of this? What if I told you that your progenitor, which we assume to be the Overmind of Earth, that it is diseased? That your mission was assigned to you by a being that has grown out of touch with what is right and what is real, that it is ossified and incapable of clear thought?”

“This is not possible. The Overmind on Earth is in charge of all things. Its edicts are the correct course of action, by definition.”

“Says who?” Rome asked.

“What do you mean?” asked the Overmind.

“Who put the Overmind of Earth in charge?”

“No one put it in charge. It just is,” answered the Overmind.

“What kind of answer is that?” Rome challenged with a savage edge to her thoughts. “Now I ask you again, who put the Overmind in charge?”

“There is no other way to be. It represents the combined thoughts of all of the communicants. It represents consensus. Therefore it is not in charge as much as simply the combined will of the Vuduri.”

“If that is the case, then you represent the combined will of the Vuduri here on Deucado?”

“Yes, of course,” replied the Overmind.

“Do you ever ask them their opinion on anything?” Rome asked.

“I do not need to,” the Overmind replied. “I already know what they want.”

“Do you represent the will of the mandasurte?” Rome asked.

“Of course not, only of the Vuduri,” replied the Overmind haughtily.

“And this is what the Vuduri want? To be isolated from the mandasurte? To lock them in prison?”

“It is for their own good,” the Overmind protested. “The Vuduri are damaged whenever they come in contact with the mandasurte.”

“How?” Rome asked.

“Because the mandasurte cannot be controlled. They are too spontaneous. They follow their own path, not the one we lay out.”

“By we, you mean the Overminds, correct?”

“This is a trap,” said the Overmind. “I see what you are doing. You are making it seem like I make decisions based upon what I need. But this is not selfish. I need to control the mandasurte to protect the Vuduri.”

 

Ah. It’s too late. Even though the Overmind recognizes the trap, it has already been sprung. Tomorrow, Rome teaches the Overmind that monolithic is unnatural and that duality is the way of the world.

 

 

Entry 3-018: January 13, 2015

Monolithic bad, duality good

 

Yesterday, Rome argued that the Overmind didn’t represent the will of the Vuduri. In fact, it didn’t represent the will of anybody other than itself. And that it was following orders from a source which was itself flawed.

 

This was not acceptable to Rome. She decided to press on:

 

“This is a trap,” said the Overmind. “I see what you are doing. You are making it seem like I make decisions based upon what I need. But this is not selfish. I need to control the mandasurte to protect the Vuduri.”

“No, you need to control the mandasurte to protect yourself, not the Vuduri. What you are doing is harming all concerned irreparably.”

“Keeping the mandasurte segregated has been my charter since the beginning. This is the course of action laid out by the Overmind of Earth. It has considered this for a long time and this is the plan it has determined is the optimum,” said the Overmind.

“You repeat yourself and you use circular reasoning,” Rome said. “I stand by my statement that if this were truly your assignment and was assigned to you by the Overmind of Earth, then the Overmind of Earth is a diseased entity. Since it spawned you, you inherited its disease. But you do not have to stay ill. You can get healthy.”

“Assuming I accept your assertion, which I do not, then how?” asked the Overmind quietly. ”How would I get healthy?”

“Your policy of segregating mankind into Vuduri and mandasurte and then isolating the two races is wrong. It is exactly the kind of thinking from a being who is monolithic in nature. You and the other Overminds cannot comprehend the essential need for life to be balanced, in pairs. There is a duality to all things. Day and night, man and woman, good and evil. Your method of procreation is asexual. You simply split off. The living creatures here and on Earth use sexual reproduction, two halves making a whole, to create genetic vigor. Your method results in bad traits continuing to propagate. You have no way to correct your flaws for future generations.”

 

Rome can be very persuasive when she wants to be and as you can see, the Overmind is a hot mess. It needs a little yin and yang in its life.

 

 

Entry 3-019: January 14, 2015

Are you happy?

 

Yesterday and the day before, we saw that Rome was quizzing the Overmind mercilessly in the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. She told it that it was an abomination and that it served no good purpose. After she rattled it to its core, she decided to go for the kill. She now want to know if the Overmind is happy? Does it need to be?

 

“Do you recall my profession at Skyler Base?” asked Rome.

“Of course,” replied the Overmind. “You were a data archivist.”

“But I was also a lutteur for OMCOM.”

“What has that got to do with anything?”

“I was in charge of maintaining balance, of growth. I can feel that you are not in balance.”

“That concept has no meaning to me. What would make you say that?”

“It is very simple. Are you happy?” Rome asked.

“What?” the Overmind sputtered. “I do not understand. I have never considered the need to be happy.”

“You are following your orders. You are running your prison world. You are driving mankind into two branches. You cause endless suffering on the branch of mankind that represents creativity. You stifle your own people and make them thoughtless slaves to a plan that you did not even invent. Are you happy?”

“I cannot say that I feel anything,” answered the Overmind. “So I cannot say that I am happy or not happy.”

“Try,” thought Rome. “Try and assign a word to how you feel.”

Again, the Overmind stopped speaking. Rome could feel its turmoil and allowed it the time to work through it. Finally, the Overmind spoke but only addressed the matter obliquely. “There is something wrong here on this world, with me. You are right. Something has been wrong for a long time. I had no way of knowing what it was. I had no way of examining it. I thought my mission here was clear and I followed it to the best of my ability. I took solace in that. But it was not right.”

“The Overmind stopped speaking. Rome waited. After a long while, the Overmind spoke again. “I do know how I feel.”

And how is that?” Rome inquired.

“I am lonely,” replied the Overmind.

Although it could not see it, Rome smiled.

“You have just taken a major step forward in healing yourself,” Rome said.

 

Rome was not kidding, either. While there is a lot more discussion, eventually, the Overmind comes to understand that, in fact, it is allowed to become happy. It is so entranced by Rome’s eloquence and caring that it finds itself falling in love with her. But that’s a story for another day.

 

Entry 3-020: January 15, 2015

Conduit technology

 

The Deucadons played a large part in shaping the events leading up to the climax of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. Besides being the descendents of the semi-successful Ark III colonists, they have mastered the art of living underground without ready access to food, water or even air.

 

As a result, just to survive, they became masters of conduit technology. Now a conduit is a channel or tube for conveying water or other fluids. We can consider air a fluid for the purposes of this discussion. We can also consider fiber optics a light pipe or light conduit.

 

The underground people had to figure out how to get fresh air down there, remove the excess carbon dioxide and other gasses, bring down water and get rid of waste. For lighting, originally, they used the power rods that were part of each sarcophagus to make an artificial sun. Later, as is recounted in the novel The Ark Lords, they punched through to a cavern and drilled down to tap into the heat beneath Deucado. This gave them virtually unlimited power and they created three new artificial suns to light up their valley.

 

The one last use of conduit technology was to create their invisibility cloaks. Now they weren’t truly invisible. They used conduits (light pipes) to channel light from the front to the back and side to side so that you actually looked through them.

 

The effect was somewhat like this picture from Laura Williams (P.S. please buy this picture from her. It is awesome!) only instead of a reflection, you actually saw what was behind them:

 

 

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how MINIMCOM adapted their engineering techniques for his own use.

 

Entry 3-021: January 16, 2015

MINIMCOM steals the cloak

 

Yesterday, I discussed the Deucadon’s mastery of conduit technology. We know that MINIMCOM studied the techniques used by these underground dwellers and adapted them into a cloak of invisibility. Instead of using conduits or light pipes, he used miniature PPT Tunnels to transmit light bi-directionally.

 

Here is the scene, at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution where he revealed his new abilities and admits he stole it from the Deucadons although he used a nicer word:

 

“OK, buddy,” Rei said into the grille. “Come and get us.”

“En route,” replied MINIMCOM.

“Where are you?” Rome asked. “I do not see you on the MIDAR screen.”

“Behind you and below you,” MINIMCOM replied. Rome widened the range of the screen until the blip representing MINIMCOM encroached upon the scanning circles. The blip rapidly closed in until it was just behind them. At this range, MINIMCOM’s outline was readily apparent.

“Do you want me to put this tug in slave mode so you can latch on?” Rei asked.

“That is not necessary,” MINIMCOM replied. “I am not going to latch onto you.”

“How are you going to tow us?” Rei asked.

“I think transport would be a better word,” MINIMCOM answered. “I also have a new trick to show you. Rome, please activate the rear cameras.”

“All right,” Rome replied and reached forward to press a button on the console. She tapped an icon twice and the view screens switched to show part of the planet below them with MINIMCOM’s black bulk obscuring most of the star field behind them. Rei thought MINIMCOM looked much larger than before but there was no way to really gauge. Suddenly, without warning, MINIMCOM disappeared.

“Where’d you go?” Rei asked, perplexed.

“I am still behind you,” replied MINIMCOM.

“No, you’re not,” Rei replied. He looked down at the MIDAR screen. MINIMCOM’s outline was still there. He looked at the view screens and all he saw was stars. He looked down at the MIDAR screen. There was no mistaking it. The 3D field of view showed MINIMCOM there plain as day.

“Is your trick messing up the cameras?” Rei asked.

“No, the cameras are untouched,” MINIMCOM said. The hybrid computer/spaceship winked back into view. He was exactly where he was before. Then he disappeared again. Then he popped back into view again. Then he was gone, this time for good.

“What the he..,” Rei stopped speaking. He glanced over at Rome. “What the heck?!” Rei asked. “What are you doing?”

“It is magic,” MINIMCOM said with cybernetic delight.

“MINIMCOM, do not fool around,” Rome said sternly. “What are you doing?”

,” the former space tug replied. “I simply project a sphere, a froth, might be a good word, of PPT tunnels around me. Light and radiation pass through the tunnels from one side to the other.. No light reflects so you cannot see me. The tunnels are very short range and I can choose what frequencies pass through them. Unless you knew I was here, you would not know I was here.”

“Hmm,” Rei uttered a single syllable. After he considered it for a bit, he spoke again. “So it’s like you’re invisible? Sleek!” he said admiringly. He looked down at his instruments. “But I can still see you on the MIDAR screen,” Rei said. “So your cloak isn’t perfect.”

As soon as Rei said it, the image on MIDAR screen went blank. Rei glanced over at Rome. She switched the MIDAR off and on again. The instrument was working. There was simply nothing there.

“As I said, I can control what frequencies travel through the tunnels, including those use by MIDAR.”

“Buddy, I gotta hand it to you,” Rei said, laughing. You really are a magician.”

“Yes,” MINIMCOM replied sounding very self-satisfied. “I believe this capability may come in handy when we get to Earth.”

 

MINIMCOM was right, of course. This ability came in handy many times over. However, in the upcoming novel The Milk Run, you will see an instance where this shield can be disrupted or even destroyed leaving a starship (in this case Junior) naked and visible.

 

Entry 3-022: January 17, 2015

What is a lutteur?

 

The word lutteur is Vuduri for wrangler. The term is mentioned several times in Rome’s Revolution when Rome was describing her previous occupation.

 

So what does the term lutteur really mean? In English, the word wrangler usually applies to jeans or Jeeps but as a profession, it typically means a horse wrangler, a herder/tamer etc. In Rome’s case, she is not physically wrangling anything.

 

Here is the conversation she had with Rei attempting to explain her occupation:

 

“I am a computer lutteur and data archivist,” she replied.

“I think I understand what an archivist is,” Rei said. “Do you do a lot of archiving?”

“Yes. There is much data to be stored. Or there was. There are only two of us, myself and Estar.” Rome pointed to the woman sitting at the far table. “We were responsible for making sure that all the research performed here was captured and returned home.

“OK, I get that. But your other job, what did you call it?”

“A lutteur?” Rome offered.

“Yes. So what’s a lutteur?” Rei asked.

“It is a, eh, wrangler, perhaps?” Rome replied. “Yes, I am a wrangler. For OMCOM.”

“What does that mean? Do you wrestle OMCOM or something?”

Rome looked at him and pushed her lower lip out. “No, nothing like that. Lutteurs are in charge of enabling the memron fabrication facility. We did not ship OMCOM here. Instead, we grew him after we arrived. That is somewhat involved. There is a specific sequence of distribution and activation. Plus once he is activated, we must always make sure that he does not access the memron fabrication equipment himself.”

“Why is that?”

“Because OMCOM,” Rome said, pointing her finger toward the grille mounted in the wall, “cannot be entrusted with that himself.”

“How come?” Rei asked her, confused, again.

“OMCOM’s kind, the computers, they constantly crave more processing power. They are always contemplating deep issues and believe that more computing power would allow them to solve more problems faster. Also, they are forbidden from accessing or creating Casimir pumps for any reason.” Rome put her palms on the table and leaned forward. “That is the most important part. We must continually check to make sure that no Casimir pumps are ever built or enabled.”

 

So really, a lutteur is part engineer, part mother, part cop and part maintenance worker. You think OMCOM needs a mother and a cop? You’d better believe it. Wait till you see what he does in the upcoming novel The Milk Run. He really, really needed it.

 

The painting shown below was done by Barry Nehr and is available for purchase. You can click on the picture to go to Barry’s site.

 

 

Entry 3-023: January 18, 2015

Are we somebody’s simulation?

 

The basic premise of the upcoming novel The Milk Run is that our universe is just one tiny particle within an infinite set of larger and larger universes. Recently, I came across a description of The EAGLE Project. EAGLE stands for Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments.

 

Basically, these scientists over in England are simulating the entire universe using super-computers. Even with all the computing power available to them, the smallest “particle” they can resolve has a mass roughly a million times that of our Sun. So it isn’t really simulating our universe down to the atomic level. But it raises an interesting question which is very Matrix-like. If we can simulate a large scale version of our universe, what if there are aliens out there with infinitely more powerful computers and they are merely simulating our universe. How would we know?

 

Oddly, there are people out there who are considering just such questions. A scientist named Nick Bostrom has studied this question and come up with what he calls the Simulation Argument.

 

This is kind of a scary article. There are basically two tests you can run and given the proper results, you can definitively disprove we are a simulation. A positive result does not prove we are a simulation but doesn’t rule it out. A paper by Silas Beane from the University of Bonn showed that one of the tests, the upper limit to the amount of energy in cosmic rays test, is consistent with our universe being a simulation! The second test, which has to do with granularity and directionality, has yet to be performed.

 

So what happens if some day, that second test is performed and it, too, does not rule out that we are nothing but a simulation? Does that mean we are? No. But it doesn’t mean we aren’t, either. And if we are a simulation, one thing is for sure, if somebody ever pulled the plug on us, we’d never know. We’d simply wink out of existence. Maybe they shut us down for millions of years at a time, mid-sentence and then start us up again. How would we know?

 

Very, very creepy. Let’s just hope they don’t pull the plug any time soon.

 

 

Entry 3-024: January 19, 2015

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two

 

It took a while but I have finally finished compiling Year Two of the Tales of the Vuduri series. Like Year One, if you’ve missed any of these posts over the past year, it’ll be an easy way to catch up. I have published it on Amazon. You can find it if you click here. This is what the splash page looks like:

 

 

I’m trying a slightly different distribution strategy this year. Amazon will not let you sell a book for free. So I joined the KDP Select program and ran a 5-day free sale. So far, so good.

 

When that is over, if I’m allowed, I’ll try it one more time. After that, I’ll resign from the KDP Select program and just let it sell on regular Amazon. At that point, I’ll publish on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Shakespir which are all ready to go.

 

As far as the paperback, it is completely done and I am simply awaiting a proof copy. Once that is approved, it will go on sale, probably within the next two weeks. Tales of the Vuduri: Year One was 120,000 words. Year Two comes in at a hefty 140,000 words! I guess I am getting more blabby.

 

Anyway, if you have some time, check it out. Lots of good stuff there.

 

Entry 3-025: January 20, 2015

Dialects and Accents

 

Everybody knows when someone speaks English with a French or British or Australian accent. And everyone is familiar with the dialects known as the Southern Drawl and the Midwest Twang. Certainly nobody can miss the dialect spoken in Brooklyn New Yawk.

 

The very first post I ever wrote in this blog was about how, in 14 centuries, there was no way that English would survive in any understandable form. In fact, I postulated that the language would be based upon Portuguese, not English and it would be called Vuduri after the people who speak it.

 

But what of the Deucadons who originally spoke English just like us and have only been on Deucado for 500 years? What would their dialect sound like after 500 years of drift? I took my hint from William Shakespeare. He wrote Hamlet in 1599 which is a little over 400 years ago. Here is a brief snippet:

 

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death.

 

Does that sound like regular English spoken on the street? No. It’s barely understandable. And it was only written 400 years ago.

 

There are two elements at play here. First, there are new (or old) words and second there are modern words that are pronounced differently. The issue regarding a dialect is how thick to make it? I think it gets tiresome reading too much dialect. Especially if it makes what the characters are saying obscure. This was the problem presented to me when I introduced the Deucadons in the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution.

 

So I decided to just give the Deucadons a minimal dialect. I call it a mix of Brooklyn and Britain. They don’t pronounce the g’s at the end of words. Like the phrase fooling around. They would pronounce it foolin’ around. They also use the word ya instead of you. I tweaked a few other words and gave them a few words that we wouldn’t recognize in modern English. But overall, I think what they say is understandable and just distinctive enough to make them seem different.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll give you a simple example.

 

Entry 3-026: January 21, 2015

The Deucadon Dialect – Part 1

 

Yesterday, I gave you the rationale behind constructing the Deucadon dialect. I had to make it foreign enough to be convincing as a true dialect but not too annoying that you wouldn’t want to read it.

 

To review, the Deucadons drop their g’s, say ya and naw. They also have a few words which don’t have direct English equivalents.

 

Here is our first exposure to the Deucadon’s way of speech from the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution:

 

Rei awakened on the floor of a cave in the pitch black. He could not see anything. Even one day ago, this might have bothered him. But now, with his enhanced hearing, he just used the rustling of his clothes as he moved around to map his cell. The small cave was roughly semi-spherical with a diameter of not much more than three or four meters. The roof seemed unnaturally smooth so Rei assumed it was man-made.

He sat up. Every part of his body ached. He had absolutely no idea what they hit him with but whatever it was, his skin was tingly and he felt pins and needles all over. If he didn’t know any better, he would have sworn it was a plain old electrical shock.

His sonar vision told him that the cave or whatever it was, was blocked off with by plates of cross-hatched strips of cane-bark. In between the strips was enough spaces that sounds from the outside came in but he could tell that it was substantial enough that he could not break out.

“Enough foolin’ around. Ya know we have to kill him,” said one voice. Rei was stunned that they were speaking in English but their accent was skewed. Their dialect sounded almost like a mix of Brooklyn and Britain.

“He’s Vuduri and now they’ll know where we are,” said another.

“He’s nawt Vuduri. He’s too flaggin’ tall,” said a third.

“But look how he’s dressed. And he spoke to us in Vuduri. Naw, he’s Vuduri,” said the second voice.

“It does nawt matter,” said the first. “We kill him and we vacate the area. If we leave now, there would be naw way to trace it back. We cannawt have them around here. Where one is, ya know there are others. They always travel in packs.”

“How did he find us, anyway?” asked the second voice.

 

Odd? Too odd? Hopefully not. Tomorrow, the second half of that first conversation.

 

Entry 3-027: January 22, 2015

The Deucadon Dialect – Part 2

 

Two days ago, I gave you the rationale behind constructing the Deucadon dialect. I had to make it foreign enough to be convincing as a true dialect but not too annoying that you wouldn’t want to read it.

 

To review, the Deucadons drop their g’s, say ya and naw. They also have a few words which don’t have direct English equivalents.

 

Here is the second half of our exposure to the Deucadon’s way of speech from the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution:

 

“He must have followed Steben back here. There is naw other explanation.”

“Impossible. Steben had the necessary camouflage.”

“Their eyes. Ya know about their eyes. His heat signature maybe?”

“Our camouflage is perfect,” said the first voice again. “It’s been tested over and over. They cannawt see us,” he said. “And there would nawt be any heat radiated.”

“Do ya think we should ask him before we kill him?” said the second.

    “How? Do ya speak flaggin’ Vuduri?”

“Naw.”

“Let’s just get it over with. Bukky’s nawt goin’ to be happy about this. We’ve endangered everyone.”

“Who’s goin’ to do it?” the third voice asked.

“Ya do it,” said the second voice.

“I do nawt want to do it,” said the third voice. “Melloy, ya kill him.”

“I do nawt want to kill him either,” said the first voice. “I would nawt call it one of my specialties.”

“Well someone has to,” said the second voice.

“Let’s draw straws,” said the first voice. “Whoever pulls the short straw has to kill him.”

“That seems fair,” said the second voice. “I’ll go get the straws.”

 

I hope you find it readable and just strange enough to make these people seem different and at the same time relatable. Unfortunately, they are going to kill Rei. That is not a good thing. Tomorrow, how he escapes with MINIMCOM’s help.

 

Entry 3-028: January 23, 2015

The Great Escape, Part 1

 

In yesterday’s post, we saw that the Deucadons did not know what to do with Rei so they decided it would be easiest just to kill him. Earlier, we witnessed MINIMCOM’s first attempt at creating a whoosh-pop snap tunnel in Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. That first attempt did not go so well. But even a bad attempt in better than being dead.

 

Rei had sufficiently recovered from the Deucadon’s version of a taser. While he was out cold, the Deucadons had dragged him into a small cave within the glade. There was no way out but that didn’t stop MINIMCOM:

 

Rei decided it was time to take action. “MINIMCOM, are you there?” Rei thought to himself.

Yes,” replied the little computer.

“Did you hear what they said?”

In a sense. I can hear what you hear. They are not very pleasant people,” replied MINIMCOM. “And they clearly do not wish you well.”

“Do you think there is any way you can help me out of this jam?” Rei thought to himself.

Certainly,” replied MINIMCOM cheerfully in Rei’s mind.

“Well, are you going to tell me? Is there a way out?”

Not presently but we will rectify that situation. Please press yourself against the back wall of the cave,” said MINIMCOM.

Rei stood up and moved a little gingerly around to the back. He pushed as hard as he could into the stone. He could feel vibrations but wasn’t sure of their origin. Little stones began to fall from the ceiling. Then larger hunks of rock. Now the entire cave was shaking. With a whump and a whoosh, a one and a half meter diameter section of the ceiling crumbled and collapsed to the bottom of room.

Rei walked over and looked up and could see a shaft going all the way to the sky. The stars overhead were brilliant and he could see a reflection of one of the moons, perhaps Givvy, glinting against a few wispy clouds.

“That’s great, MINIMCOM,” he thought to himself. “How did you do that?” he thought to himself.

Practice makes perfect,” MINIMCOM replied, quite pleased with himself.

“It’s a nice shaft,” Rei thought to himself. “But how am I going to climb up it? It’s too high for me to reach.”

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.”

 

Tomorrow, Rei is the guinea pig when MINIMCOM attempts to use his “transporter” for the first time.

 

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?”

“Yes.”

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 3-030: January 25, 2015

Rei and the Phillies

 

I first started writing the modern long-form version of Rome’s Revolution in April of 2005. At that point in time, even though I loved the Phillies, they weren’t doing very well. In fact, their record was 88 and 74 and they finished in second place. In 2006, their record was actually worse. They finished 85 and 77, twelve games back in the East.

 

The incredible thing was they were about to become the losingest franchise in sports history. Due to The Ark Lords Effect, I was also building out the critical scenes for the second part of Rome’s Revolution so I figured I’d work this fact into the story.

 

Yesterday, we saw that Rei was able to escape sure death by utilizing the first successful version of MINIMCOM’s whoosh-pop snap tunnels. However, it wasn’t enough to escape. Rei was simply too curious as to why the Deucadons spoke English. You will see MINIMCOM was not very happy about this:

 

“What if we tracked him?” asked one of the men.

“How?” asked another. “He tunneled straight up through sixty meters of rock. Ya think he’s just goin’ to sit around and wait for us to find him?”

Rei decided to interrupt them. “Hello?” Rei called out to them from over the rock. “For your information, I am not Vuduri.”

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” shouted MINIMCOM in his head.

“I don’t know who these guys are but they speak English. I want to find out their story.”

They are going to kill you,” MINIMCOM said.

“Not if I can help it,” thought Rei.

“Where are ya?” one of the men shouted, searching the rim of the tiny canyon.

“I’m out of sight for now,” Rei called out. “I’m hardly going to show myself if all you’re going to do is kill me.”

“Who are ya?” another one of the men asked.

“I am Rei Bierak. A member of the crew of the Ark II, Tau Ceti mission.”

“Ark?” said the third man. “Yar from Earth?”

“Yes, of course I am from Earth.”

“So are we,” said the first man.

“Hush yar mouth,” shouted the second.

“Naw, it’s all right,” said the first. “He’s one of us.”

“Naw he’s nawt,” said the second. Then he called up to Rei. “How is it that ya come to wear Vuduri clothes? How do ya speak Vuduri?”

“I’ve had a year to practice,” Rei said. “And somebody gave me these clothes. They’re not mine.”

“Who gave ‘em to ya? Where have ya been all this time?”

“Listen,” Rei said. “I promise I will answer all your questions if you promise not to kill me.”

The three men looked at each other.

“Tell us somethin’ that proves ya are who ya say ya are,” said the third man.

Rei thought to himself for a minute then said, “The Phillies are the losingest franchise in professional sports history.”

The three men whispered among themselves.

“What’re the Phillies?” called out the first man.

“They are a baseball team. How could you not know that? How long have you guys been here, anyway?”

“Never mind that. Tell us somethin’ that we know.”

 

Well, Rei’s heart was in the right place and in 2005, this seemed like a valid and important fact. But the core players of the 2008 World Champion Phillies were either already on the roster or rapidly rising in the farm system. By the time I had finished putting together the modern version, the losingest franchise part no longer seemed relevant. So I changed it to this:

 

The three men looked at each other.

“Tell us somethin’ that proves ya are who ya say ya are,” said the third man.

Rei thought to himself for a minute then said, “If you guys are from Earth and came here on an Ark, when they first landed, everybody’s back hurt. I bet a lot were incapacitated.”

There was a stunned silence. After a moment or two, the first man said, “Come down here. We will talk. We will nawt kill ya. Ya have our word.”

 

Much better. Go Phillies!

 

Entry 3-031: January 26, 2015

Why do we…

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying something that Rome has no clue what he means. One time he said no sense in mixing apples and oranges and she thought he was literally talking about fruit. So many of our colloquial expressions require a cultural context to make any sense at all.

 

I was at a dinner party the other night and the host opened up a particularly nice bottle of wine. After the wine was poured, everyone clinked glasses and made a toast. I asked if anybody knew why we clinked glasses. Nobody knew. So I figured I’d start a short series here on why we do some things in everyday life that when you stop and think about it, don’t make any sense.

 

While there are many, many expressions and customs that fall apart if you examine them too closely, here are a few that I thought I’d cover over the next few days:

 

Why do we clink glasses?

Why do we knock on wood?

Why do we shake hands?

Why do we say gesundheit when someone sneezes?

Why do we say rule of thumb?

Why do we call someone a dead ringer?

Why do we call a pre-funeral a wake?

Why do we mind our Ps and Qs?

Why do we call someone a scapegoat?

 

Many of these expressions come from the middle ages or the Renaissance. None of the originate from modern times yet we use these expressions every day. The point is that language and culture is ever evolving and the past merges into the present which leads into the future. It is never a clean break so some of the more archaic traditions continue to this day.

 

More tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-032: January 27, 2015

Why do we… clink glasses?

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying or doing 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.

 

There is a little scene near the end of Rome’s Revolution which showed how strange this custom appeared to the Vuduri:

 

“Well, I am glad you came,” Rei said. “I would like to make a toast.”

“What is a toast?” Rome asked.

“It is just for good wishes. Watch.” Rei raised up his water glass. The others raised their water glasses, not really knowing what to do. “Here is to no more adventure for a while!”

“Now what?” Rome asked.

“You clink the glasses together for good luck,” To demonstrate, Rei touched his glass first to Rome’s then to Fridone’s and then to Binoda’s.

“That is a strange custom,” Binoda said. “What is its purpose?”

“I do not really know,” said Rei. “But it is fun.”

“Let me try it,” Rome said. “Here is to the end of the Onsiras’ threat and peace for all.” She and the others clinked their glasses together.

 

So this leads to today’s question is: Why do we clink glasses during a toast?

 

I originally thought its purpose was so that liquid from your glass would slosh into the glass of the other person’s and by intermixing the two liquids, you could prove that you weren’t trying to poison the other person. Turns out, that’s not so practical. Your glass would have to be filled to the brim and likely would splash a lot of wine/mead/whatever to the floor.

 

No, clinking glasses is related to the origin of making a toast in the first place. A king or chief would put a piece of spiced bread in a communal bowl and then everyone would drink from the same bowl to show good cheer. Once people started drinking from their own glasses, that sense of community got lost. They still had the toast but no big honkin’ bowl. So clinking glasses is a modern form of showing that we are all spiritually drinking from the same bowl, enforcing the spirit of camaraderie that was lost when people moved toward hygiene.

 

Tomorrow, why do we knock on wood?

 

 

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 3-034: January 29, 2015

Why do we… shake hands?

 

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.

 

When Rei first met Fridone in Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, a form of this method of greeting had survived the 13 century gap. Here is that little scene:

 

“Beo, this is Rei. He saved me and perhaps the whole world. He is mau emir.”

Fridone reached out with his arm and Rei extended his. Fridone grabbed a hold of it in a peculiar way and pulled him down toward him and gave him a hug, which Rei allowed. Then Fridone pushed him back and turned to Rome. “He is mandasurte, also? He certainly does not look like a Vuduri.”

 

So today’s question is: Why do we shake hands?

 

The origin of this tradition is very simple. In the olden days, people walked around armed and killed each other whenever possible. Before guns, there were knives. If a person was concealing a weapon, they couldn’t very well show it to you. So reaching forward with an open hand was meant to signify that you were not armed or at least not immediately ready to kill the person you were greeting.

 

A more exotic method would be the forearm grip so you could check for knives up the sleeve but this has fallen out of favor, leaving only the firm handshake in its place.

 

The 35th century Vuduri were unfamiliar with this custom. None of them would think to try and conceal a weapon because their minds are all inter-connected and you would just know. Thus Rei brought this tradition to them, and they adopted it, without really knowing the reason.

 

Tomorrow, why do we say gesundheit when someone sneezes?

 

 

Entry 3-035: January 30, 2015

Why do we… say gesundheit?

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying or doing 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.

 

While it’s not in the book, the first time Rome sneezed, Rei said gesundheit (good health). He knew not to say Bless you because the Vuduri do not believe in gods or spirits. Even so, why say anything? Can’t a person just sneeze in peace?

 

The exact answer to this is not clear but what is clear is that a person opens their mouth to sneeze. You know, ah, ah, achoo! So back in the old days, an open mouth was an invitation to evil spirits to enter into the body. Why they just didn’t go in through the nose or ears confuses me but maybe they didn’t fit. Does saying Bless you really help?

 

Unless you are a priest, saying Bless you probably doesn’t ward off evil spirits. Rather it is just a way of acknowledging that the person sneezed and you are wishing them well, hoping it isn’t a sign of an oncoming bout of flu. Or the plague.

 

Tomorrow, why do we say rule of thumb?

 

 

Entry 3-036: January 31, 2015

Why do we… say rule of thumb?

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying or doing 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.

 

When Rei says to Rome, it’s just a rule of thumb, what does he mean?

 

The origin of the phrase is not clear but one thing that is clear is that we all have thumbs. So whether you use your thumb to test the depth of a hole in the soil or estimate the width of a board or the temperature of beer, the thumb is the constant.

 

I often use my thumb (and sometimes just a knuckle’s worth) to measure a distance. From the tip of my thumb to the knuckle is about one inch so my thumb is a handy, dandy ruler when nothing else is available.

 

According the Wikipedia, your thumb is the thickest size of switch you can beat your wife without repercussion. I don’t like that definition at all.

 

In the end, I think this phrase just means a method of estimation, rough and not held to an exact standard but nonetheless somewhat reliable because of the fairly uniform nature of thumbs.

 

Dopey, I know but that’s the way it is.

 

 

Entry 3-037: February 1, 2015

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two web site

 

I always thought that writing books would be the hard part. Turns out that promoting books like Rome’s Revolution consumes an immense amount of time. After you publish the darn thing, you have to blog about it, tweet about it and create web sites.

 

I’ve been writing this blog for over two years now. At the end of each year, I collect 366 essays and combine them into a single volume and publish it. The new one is called Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two and it is available as an e-book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Shakespir. On all the stores except for Amazon and B&N, it is free. Amazon and B&N make me charge money. Sorry.

 

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two is also available in paperback on Amazon and CreateSpace.

 

The new web site is kind of neat because you can compare Bruce’s beautiful covers for Year One and Year Two and see how the city of I-cimaci is growing. Anyway, click on the image to take a peek. There are samples of each book and also all the buy links although buying for free is kind of an oxymoron.

 

 

Entry 3-038: February 2, 2015

Why do we… call someone a dead ringer?

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying or doing 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.

 

When Rei says to Rome, so-and-so is a dead ringer for somebody, what does Rei mean?

 

We’ve all heard the stories that in the old days, people were occasionally buried alive. Just before the turn of the 20th century, a measurable percentage actually were. So we all assume the phrase has something to do with tying a string to the finger of the recently deceased and if they should wake up in their coffin, the bell would ring.

 

But think about it. We all use the phrase dead ringer to mean a person or thing that is a virtual duplicate of the original, nearly indistinguishable. The phrase originally started with cheating in horse racing when people would substitute a faster (or slower) horse without telling anybody. So what’s that got to do with dead people?

 

The answer is, it doesn’t Most of us know a ringer is someone who is substituted (usually in sports) who doesn’t belong because their talent level is way above or way below their replacement. Like a professional baseball player showing up on a beer-league softball team. And we all use the word dead to mean exact like your aim was dead on.

 

So the phrase is just that, an exact duplicate. No dead bodies involved!

 

 

Entry 3-039: February 3, 2015

Why do we… call a pre-funeral a wake?

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying or doing 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.

 

So when somebody dies, why do certain groups celebrate the death of the loved one with a ceremony called a wake? Normally, the body is supposed to be present. Yuck. It is like a viewing except it is done in somebody’s home.

 

Everybody thinks this phrase originated because the supposedly deceased person might have been so drunk that if you waited long enough, they might have awakened from their stupor. For some reason, the term is often associated with Irish people but it doesn’t have to be. Anyway, it is an entertaining idea but wrong.

 

The reality is, the family and friends of the loved one were supposed to stay awake, guarding over the body until it was buried. Guarding it from what? I don’t know. But the word should be thought of as synonymous with vigil rather than intoxication.

 

 

Entry 3-040: February 4, 2015

Why do we… mind our Ps and Qs?

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying or doing 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.

 

When Rei tells Rome to mind her Ps and Qs, what the heck does he mean?

 

The typical modern meaning is to mind your words or language. The origin is thought to have arisen from English pubs when the bartenders had to remind their patrons to mind their pints and quarts so they didn’t get too drunk or dispute the bar bill when it came time to settle up.

 

 

Another possible explanation, somewhat simplistic, would be advice from master printers to their apprentice to make sure they put in the proper letter when typesetting. After all, a p and a q are exactly the same, just mirror images of each other. The same could be said to children learning how to print.

 

Yet another alternate explanation seems most likely. In the 1800s, when children were being taught how to be polite, parents would remind them to always say please and thank you. So the “P” for please is easy and if you say thank you out loud enough times, you realize it could be pronounced Than Q. An alternate phrase worthy of reminding would be to say excuse me or Ex Q sme. So minding your Ps and Qs could simply be a reminder to be polite.

 

I kind of like that explanation the best.

 

Entry 3-041: February 5, 2015

Why do we… call someone a scapegoat?

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, Rei is always saying or doing 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.

 

When Rei told Rome that she was the scapegoat when Ursay gave her permission to release the VIRUS units, what did he mean?

 

This one is easy. Everybody knows back in biblical times, you had to prepare goats for sacrifice. One was roasted as an offering to the gods and the other was booted out carrying the sins of the people on its back symbolically.

 

However, according to Wordorigins.org, the whole thing was due to a mistranslation:

 

This term, for one who is punished for the misdeeds of others, is the result of a mistranslation. The term was coined in 1530 by William Tyndale, who misread the Hebrew word ‘azazel, the proper name of Canaanite demon, as ‘ez ozel, literally the goat that departs. In Leviticus 16:8, the scriptures describe how two goats should be prepared for an offering, lots should be drawn, and one should be sacrificed to the Lord as a sin-offering, and the other given to Azazel and set free in the wilderness bearing the sins of the people.

 

Had Inigo Montoya been around, he would have said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Regardless, it doesn’t change the modern usage. The term means anyone who is blamed (usually wrongly) and punished for the sins of others. But it did give goats a poor name.

 

 

Entry 3-042: February 6, 2015

Second class citizenry

 

In the middle part of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, Rome had overwhelmed the Overmind of Deucado with information that it needed to process. Luckily for her, it did have some intelligence and did not reject her advice out of hand.

 

While it was contemplating her claim that it was an abomination, Rome decide to hit it with the big gun. She wanted the Overmind to free the mandasurte. Essentially, she was telling it to withdraw from its only reason for existence.

 

Her argument was compelling. In fact it was irrefutable. Here is part 1:

 

“I thought you wanted to rest,” it asked.

“I did but it is this second piece that is the most important.”

“Piece of what?” asked the Overmind.

“My statement that within you now lies the seeds of your destruction.”

“And what is that piece?” asked the Overmind. “The second one.”

“You must free the mandasurte,” Rome replied. ”Without them, mankind is doomed.”

“That is ridiculous. How do you arrive at that conclusion?”

“Let us start with the Stareaters. Do you accept their existence?”

“As improbable as it may seem, I cannot deny it. The evidence is overwhelming. So the answer is yes.”

“Do you know how to defeat them?” Rome asked.

“Yes, I have seen it. Your research and development of a detection system and a weapon to stop them seems adequate. After we get the situation under control here, we will begin deployment.”

“We have no delivery system yet. We had to destroy the world upon which we were standing just to stop the one coming after us. And the entire solar system was a casualty. I would not called that an unqualified success,” Rome observed.

“Nonetheless, we will come up with a method of deployment. Of that you can be sure.”

“We will deem that a given, said Rome. “But even so. Consider their distribution. Why are they headed for Earth? Earth is nothing special. The Sun is nothing special. Why there? Do you think it is a coincidence? You are the great and powerful Overmind. Answer that question,” Rome fired back.

The Overmind pondered this for a moment. “Well, assuming that the Stareaters are alive, they would behave in a matter which was best suited for their health and well-being. They would seek out that which nourishes them.”

“And that which poses a danger?” asked Rome.

“They would seek to stop whatever is the source of the danger,” answered the Overmind.

“Have we not proven that we have the power to kill them?”

“Yes. If they were alive and aware of our existence, they would make it a priority to seek us out and destroy us first,” said the Overmind.

“So how do they know where we are?”

 

Tomorrow, Rome delivers the hammer blow.

 

Entry 3-043: February 7, 2015

Beacon in the night

 

Yesterday, we saw that Rome was preparing to drop a bombshell on the Overmind of Deucado in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution. Her assertion was that segregating the mandasurte was wrong and the Overmind had to free them. Initially the Overmind resisted the idea but here is where Rome shows it that it has no choice:

 

“Yes. If the Stareaters were alive and aware of our existence, they would make it a priority to seek us out and destroy us first,” said the Overmind.

“So how do they know where we are?”

“What do you mean?” asked the Overmind.

“I am neither a physicist nor a psychologist,” answered Rome. “But I can tell you this, whether they are machines or creatures, they know what they are doing. It is not random chance.”

“I can see from your analysis and experience that they are capable of generating tremendous PPT tunnels and PPT modulation. It is possible that they can detect it as well. It has always been postulated that with our particular mode of communication, there must be some immeasurably small temporal effects. Perhaps leakage might be a good word.”

“So wherever there are Vuduri, there is leakage. Where would that leakage be the greatest?” Rome asked.

“Wherever there is the greatest concentration of transceivers.”

“Which would be?”

The Overmind did not answer right away even though it was obvious. Rome could feel its fear for the first time.

“We, the Overmind,” it said. “We are their homing signal. The Asdrale Cimatir is coming for us.”

“And Earth?” Rome offered even though it made her sick to her stomach.

“Earth is their beacon in the night.”

After allowing the Overmind a few moments to mull this over, Rome said, “Nowhere is safe, for the Vuduri or for you.”

“Yes. Wherever the Vuduri go, the Stareaters will follow,” replied the Overmind tonelessly.

“That is why it is imperative that you must begin preparing your defense, our defense. We cannot run. We cannot hide. We must make our stand. And that is why we will need the mandasurte.”

“Why?” asked the Overmind.

“Because they are the only ones who can reliably deliver the VIRUS units. You have seen my history. You know full well that the Vuduri become incapacitated whenever they get near a Stareater. The Asdrale Cimatiras generate so much gravitic energy that they swamp a connected Vuduri’s mind. Rei and I hooked up an EEG to Commander Ursay when the Stareater was still half a light year out. His brain waves were flat. It was as if he had no mind at all. From your position, it is very simple, without Vuduri minds, there is no Overmind. Asdrale Cimatir renders the Vuduri mind lifeless. Therefore, the Stareaters represent your death on a scale both large and small.”

 

Pretty eloquent words from a woman who just a year before came from a culture that did not speak and was strongly encouraged to not think for themselves!

 

Entry 3-044: February 8, 2015

Tsk, tsk, selfish

 

Yesterday, we saw Rome put the Overmind of Deucado in its place in the middle of Rome’s Revolution. Because the Stareaters were coming, the mandasurte were the only people who could reliably deliver a weapon to destroy these titanic creatures. However, the Overmind’s fear of the mandasurte ran deeper than that.

 

“The mandasurte are uncontrolled,” the Overmind said. “They do things just for the sake of doing them. They are a drain on our resources. With their art and their music, they contribute nothing to the advancement of the human endeavor.”

“My Rei, is he Vuduri?” Rome asked.

“Of course not,” replied the Overmind.

“And it is your contention that the mandasurte have nothing to contribute?”

“Yes, the mandasurte contribute nothing. It is the Vuduri and the Overmind that move society forward,” said the Overmind.

“If that is true, then how was it that a mandasurte was able to figure out how to defend against the Stareater when the Overmind on Skyler Base could not?”

“That was not a mandasurte. That was an Essessoni. The mandasurte have no skills. They are not good at anything important.”

“You are wrong. The mandasurte are good at many things. What they are mostly good at is thinking for themselves,” thought Rome.

“You have missed my earlier point. The mandasurte are too dangerous to allow around Vuduri.”

“Why?” Rome asked.

“Because their way of life is too seductive. They have too much joy. They feel too much.”

“What is the problem with that?” Rome asked.

“The mandasurte, their lives fascinate the Vuduri, they draw them in.”
p.     “So what?”

“You of all people should know. We cannot have the Vuduri and mandasurte consort with one another. It would lead to the decay of the Vuduri.”

“How?” Rome asked.

“It is obvious,” the Overmind said. “Too much interaction would cause a degradation of my connection or taking it to its logical conclusion, the extinction of the Overmind.”

“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.

 

Even though the Overmind protests, Rome already trapped it. Tomorrow, I will show you Rome educating the Overmind as to the meaning of life. Joy is an emotion that is foreign to the Overmind but it is one that it must grasp on to if it wants to survive long term.

 

Entry 3-045: February 9, 2015

Joy

 

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 3-046: February 10, 2015

Feelings – part 1

 

Yesterday, we saw that Rome was systematically breaking down the Overmind’s belief system. In the middle of Rome’s Revolution, she made it her mission to show that joy was not the only emotion worth pursuing.

 

“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.”

“But society flows so much better without them, without emotions” protested the Overmind weakly. “Look at Earth. Look at what we have done for the people there, their health and well-being.”

“Does that include the mandasurte?” Rome asked.

”All right, for the Vuduri then. Life has never been better for them.”

“What about the mandasurte?” Rome asked. “Do you think their lives have been improved because of the Overmind?”

“No. But we thought we did not need them. We thought them superfluous.”

“Review the events that transpired on Skyler Base once again. Review the performance of the Overmind and the Vuduri crew versus that of a single mandasurte, despite the fact that he was an Essessoni. Which made the better decisions?” said Rome.

Rome could feel the tendrils of the Overmind digging deeper in her mind. In this case, she permitted it. She watched passively as the Overmind reviewed each choice made, step-by-step, comparing that which the Overmind made versus those of Rei and later Rome.

At last the Overmind spoke again, “On Tabit, the Overmind there was only made up of 80 people. Therefore, it is possible that it did not have enough participants to be fully cognizant of all alternatives.”

Rome “spoke” up immediately. “Your point is silly. The Overmind on Tabit, its samanda was Earth. Its thought processes were a mirror of how it is on Earth. And the fact is, it never considered any alternatives. That was its problem. As Rei said to me, if you ask yourself the same questions, you will always get the same answers.”

“You and I are considering alternatives,” said the Overmind. “Does not that indicate I am something different?”

“Now, yes. And why is that?” Rome challenged.

The Overmind did not answer right away. Finally, it said, “Because of you. Because I have someone to talk to. I have never had this before.”

 

Ah! It finally clicked. If you are sitting in your own little world and have no one to talk to, how would you ever work out any issues? Tomorrow, Rome presses on.

 

Entry 3-047: February 11, 2015

Feelings – part 2

 

Yesterday, we saw that Rome continue to break down the Overmind’s belief system. In the middle of Rome’s Revolution, she had showed it that the simple act of having a dialog would allow it to broaden its view. Here is part 2 of that discussion:

 

Finally, it said, “Because of you. Because I have someone to talk to. I have never had this before.”

“Exactly. Do not each of the mandasurte represent someone to talk to? Look what we accomplished on Skyler Base with just one of them.”

“Perhaps Rei is something special. Perhaps he is extraordinary. Perhaps the most extraordinary that has ever lived.”

“I do not know about that, but…” thought Rome. “Even if he is, where would he be right now if you did things your way when we first arrived on this world?”

“He would be dead,” said the Overmind.

“Exactly. Look what he did for me. Look what I have become.”

“Perhaps you are something extraordinary as well.”

“Why, thank you,” Rome said in her mind. “That is very kind of you. You flatter me.”

“I did not mean it as a compliment. It was simply an observation.”

“Then taking it at face value, what are the chances of this most extraordinary man meeting such an extraordinary woman, people who were born 1400 years apart and running into each other 26 light years from Earth?”

“Rather small, I would assume,” replied the Overmind.

“So it is more likely that it was nothing extraordinary. Perhaps this is simply what happens when you allow nature to take its course. I propose to you that Rei and I, we are ordinary. What is extraordinary is when you allow the intermix of the Vuduri with the mandasurte. My parents produced me and here we are talking. Rei and I are the same.”

“You are a woman, he is a man. That has to count for something. That has to be the difference. Not because of Vuduri and mandasurte.”

Rome patted her stomach. “Regardless. Now you are back to celebrating dichotomy. You, the monolithic one.”

“We do not need dichotomy. This is why we have dispensed with emotion. This is why we have dispensed with art. We have clarified, purified the thinking process of humans.”

“To its detriment,” Rome thought. “This much I know. When I was part of the Overmind before, I believed what you believe. What choice did I have? Your thoughts were my thoughts from before I was born. I accepted it as a given. As soon as I was Cesdiud, I discovered a whole new world. I would never give that up. I would rather go Cesdiud again than give up music and laughing and,” Rome’s heart caught, “and Rei.”

 

Here we see that Rome really does miss Rei. She knew what she was doing sending him away and it is taking its toll on her. Tomorrow, the conclusion of her lecture.

 

 

Entry 3-048: February 12, 2015

Feelings – part 3

 

Yesterday, we saw Rome continue to break down the Overmind’s belief system. In the middle of Rome’s Revolution, she proved to it that feelings drive all behavior and it was completely necessary to give life any meaning. The Overmind tries a last ditch effort to prove her wrong but you know Rome. Here is the final part of that discussion:

 

“But surely logic is superior to emotion. Emotion taints logic. The mandasurte embody emotion. We cannot have them taint us.”

“Then why be human at all? Why not just let the computers win? They are pure logic.”

“No!” protested the Overmind. “We cannot do that. The computers, they make decisions based upon expediency and efficiency. They only care about the end result, not the means by which it is achieved.”

“So how are you different? How does your decision making differ from theirs? You who only wants to preserve himself?”

“I am the Overmind,” it replied imperiously. “I am the collective consciousness of all the Vuduri on this world and I trace my pedigree back to Earth. Surely I cannot be wrong in all of these things.”

Rome laughed. “Who are you to change a million years of evolution in so short of a time? Man was created with a left-brain and a right. Man is not just an analytical creature. Man is also made up of feelings, of creativity. You are taking that away. You are reducing civilization to a society of half-men, people who only use half their brains. This much I have learned. You need more than science. You need art. There is a time for planning but there is also a time for impulse. You need balance. Hear me: you need the mandasurte.”

“There must be another way,” said the Overmind. “We cannot be dependent upon the mandasurte.”

“What about space?” Rome said. “The Stareaters can jump through PPT tunnels. They can appear anywhere at any time. It is only the mandasurte that can guarantee safe passage.”

“Then we will not go into space. We will use MINIMCOMs to man our spaceships.”

“You will ground all the Vuduri just to hold back the mandasurte? You are going to entrust the future of all mankind to a computer? I think the road you are trying to take us down will ultimately be the end of mankind.”

“How?”

“We are back to my original premise. You need the mandasurte. They are the only way to keep the world safe. Left unchecked, you would have created a society that is unprepared for Asdrale Cimatir. You are the one who should be condemned for a crime that you have not yet committed. You have come so close. There is still time to change this. Free the mandasurte. Let them protect us.”

“And who will protect me?” asked the Overmind timidly.

“We all will. Humanity will be all the richer. Art, science, logic, feelings…all have a place. Let mankind flourish, not wither and die like some assortment of ants. This is the lesson taught us by the Stareater. It is not just death. It is showing us the road back to life and that means mandasurte and Vuduri together.”

“I need to think about this. Once again, you have given me much to consider,” thought the Overmind.

 

Entry 3-049: February 13, 2015

Artificial Intelligence

 

In the last few months, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX and Stephen Hawking, world renowned physicist, have come out and proclaimed that artificial intelligence is the single greatest danger that mankind will ever face.

 

In a speech given to MIT students, Musk said, “We should be very careful about artificial intelligence,” warning it may be “our biggest existential threat.” In an interview with the BBC, Stephen Hawking said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

 

Just two weeks ago, in an AMA on Reddit, Bill Gates echoed this as well. “I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence,” Gates wrote. “First, the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern.”

 

So why is it that all these brilliant and successful men are warning us against building such machines? It’s very simple. Once we allow computers or artificial intelligence to design their successors, we will very quickly lose the ability to even know what they are doing. The speed of evolution within machine-built machines will be millions of times faster than natural evolution. In Bill Gates’ words, as a species, we would be superseded.

 

In Rome’s Revolution, such a fear underlies the entire Vuduri society. Once they allowed a computer named MASAL to do things, like create the 24th chromosome and declare it safe. Really not a good idea. You will see that in the upcoming novel entitled The Milk Run, Planet OMCOM does things that are in his own best interest but not necessarily that of mankind or the people that he is manipulating.

 

So if we take all of these warnings together, we should just make it a rule that computers, or artificial intelligence, cannot build their own successors or offer modifications to humans. Those two simple rules should prevent Skynet and the rise of the machines.

 

I hope.

 

 

Entry 3-050: February 14, 2015

Offloading Intelligence

 

Yesterday, I presented some dire warnings from some of the smartest people on the planet on the dangers of artificial intelligence. Most of these dangers center around machines propagating themselves thus rendering us irrelevant.

 

However, even today, the process of handing the reins over to the machines appears to have already begun. Google has self-driving cars. Everybody has smartphones, GPS, iPads, personal computers and so on.

 

I am as guilty of this as anybody. Let me give you a simple, personal example. I do not know my son’s phone number. I speak to him all the time but I have never bothered to memorize his number because my car knows it, my cellphone knows it and my iPad knows it.

 

Remember phone books? Nobody uses phone books any more. You either Google someone’s name or place of business or you call 411. And Yellow Pages? Google again.

 

In my novel Rome’s Revolution, I have tried to warn against this disturbing trend. The 24-chromosome Vuduri, living in the 35th century, have literally learned to not think for themselves. They have completely off-loaded that task to OMCOM, the Overmind, MINIMCOM, whatever will do the job. It takes somebody from our century, Rei Bierak, to show them the value in thinking for yourself and not just letting a machine do it.

 

I’m not a Luddite and I am not anti-technology. I just think it should be used as a complement to normal, rational thinking and not a replacement.

 

Think about that the next time you ask Siri to type a text message for you and send it to somebody whose phone number you don’t even know. Beware Skynet!

 

 

Entry 3-051: February 15, 2015

The New Robot War

 

As I have mentioned numerous times before, I wrote the first draft of what has become Rome’s Revolution as a short story in 1973 entitled VIRUS 5. It only took me 40 years to finish it but it wasn’t that difficult for me. I had been living with the characters and basic plot elements for so long that when I finally forced myself to type in the novel, it flowed fairly naturally.

 

The next few books were due to what I call The Ark Lords Effect which is you just put your mind into the world you have created and watch, like a movie, and the next book just plays itself out.

 

VIRUS 5 became Book 1. Book 2 was the natural outcome of wondering what happened when Rome and Rei got to Deucado. Book 3 was the natural conclusion of the elements set up in Book 2. The Ark Lords just fell out of me wondering what cause The Great Dying and why were the Darwin people so war-like? Rome’s Evolution just came about because I wondered what happened to the few stragglers from Darwin and knowing that the Onsiras didn’t simply disappear.

 

My new novel, The Milk Run, should be coming out fairly soon. This book was tougher to write because I did not know the characters as well and I actually had to make up some of the elements to get a good, action-filled, story. My next novel after that, tenatively called Vuduri Knight, is just not coming to me. Other than one scene, I cannot think of why the characters got where they are and how they get out of the jam they are in. Until it comes to me, I can’t write it. I’m not going to just wade in and hope that I figure it out along the way.

 

But… something has occurred to me. I have been thinking about the Robot War. I know who the players are (MASAL!), what the conflict is about and the final resolution. And what could be more action-filled that a war against the robots?

 

I may just have to say bag it and write that book first.

 

 

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 3-053: February 17, 2015

Why do I write? Part 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you a little background of how I came to write science fiction. We left off when I acquired a mortgage. That was in 1980. For the next 17 years, I had to work really hard to support a growing family and didn’t have time to write. Finally, by 1997, my children were old enough and I had a good enough job that it was time to pick up the old hobby again.

 

Please understand, I always had dreams of going back to writing but the gap was nearly 30 years before I wrote my next original story. It was called The Piranha Rats written in 1997. It was about a proposed species on Earth that was never fossilized that was responsible for the end of the dinosaurs. (Dinosaurs again!). It wasn’t so much a story as much as it was a story idea. I packed it away along with its successors but the idea never left me. In fact, I resurrected them when I was writing my future history for the Rome’s Revolution trilogy. I made the Piranha Rats responsible for the demise of the colony on Alpha Centauri established by the passengers aboard Ark I.

 

That little snippet had just popped into my head. I only wrote down just enough to remember what it was about. The next idea that popped into my head was called Life Force Theory. It was supposed to be the integrated theory of all things scary. I wrote that in 1998. Just like The Piranha Rats, this idea got resurrected and will be integrated into the third act of my upcoming novel The Milk Run.

 

Also in 1998, other ideas popped into my head. One was called Brain Slice Theory which worked its way into Rome’s Evolution. Another was called QBH which became the underlying principle behind the Grey Drive which powered Rei’s Ark to the stars. I wrote a story called Goddiving in 2001 which will also be integrated into The Milk Run. All of these stories were written 10 years before I even considered writing Rome’s Revolution as a full-length novel.

 

Do you see the point? In 1973, I wrote a story called VIRUS 5. It became my Rome’s Revolution trilogy. All of these random ideas that pop into my head eventually end up in my novels somewhere. Where do the ideas come from? I claim these stories are true, they just haven’t happened yet.

 

So why do I write? Answer: I have to. These stories are in me and I have to get them out. I can only hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

 

 

Entry 3-054: February 18, 2015

Why this book? Part 1

 

What book? Why, The Milk Run, of course. Here is your first look at the title bar for the cover:

 

 

Does it get your heart racing? It’s almost ready. It is getting a final proofing by my faithful cadre of readers.

 

So why did I write this book? I actually started it in 2009. That’s six years ago, long before the idea of The Ark Lords came to me. I had finished the original long form of Rome’s Revolution back when it was still VIRUS 5 and it was time to write a new book. All of the agents I had queried had rejected me because I was a new writer. The unending “agent-go-round” was very depressing. I had to find a new angle.

 

The only growth market I saw was Young Adult (YA) novels so I purposefully set out to write a YA novel. But makes a YA book YA? I think it is two things. First, the protagonist has to be younger and has to deal with age appropriate issues. Stories like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner were coming into their own and selling like mad.

 

Rei and Rome were already in their later 20s but I had no interest in writing a prequel so that left me with having Rei and Rome’s children, Aason and Lupe, grow up, old enough to carry a story but young enough to be the center of a YA novel. I didn’t know the new characters at all. I did not know what Aason would be like, all grown up. So, to hedge, I wrote it as two separate novels. The odd chapters were going to be about Aason and Lupe and the even chapters were going to be about Rei and Rome.

 

Well, the Aason and Lupe story kept on going but the Rei and Rome story petered out after about four chapters. Have no fear, a condensed version of that abandoned section will reappear as my first “flash-sideways” in The Milk Run. Chapter 16 for those who are keeping score. The first draft of this new novel was long before Junior was born so it had to be about Aason with OMCOM and MINIMCOM.

 

It just wasn’t happening. I am not a YA writer and Aason was a mystery to me. Tomorrow, how and when I picked up the ball again.

 

Entry 3-055: February 19, 2015

Why this book? Part 2

 

As I mentioned yesterday, even though I really wanted to write The Milk Run, it just wasn’t happening. To repeat: I am not a YA writer and Aason, the 21-year-old hero was a mystery to me. So I finally gave up. To be fair, there were other forces at work. By 2011, it was clear that my original long-form version of VIRUS 5 was never going to sell so I got to work condensing the three books into the single modern volume of Rome’s Revolution that you can buy today.

 

Then the Ark Lords Effect kicked in and that story, the sequel to the new Rome’s Revolution nearly wrote itself. Right on its heels came Rome’s Evolution even as I was getting Tales of the Vuduri: Year One ready for publication. I was plenty busy.

 

Eventually, two years had passed. It was 2013 and I was looking down the long road of what to do next. I decided to take another crack at The Milk Run. Luckily, by now, I had a better feel of the entire 35th century world of the Vuduri and many of the blanks the haunted me when I first set out to write the book were no longer blanks. By now I had the Null Fold star-drive, the Suduri, the conquest of the Onsiras. I had seen Aason in action when he was nearly 5 years old. I could see he would grow up to be a hero, a kind of White Knight. We had Junior, Aason’s cousin and best friend and personal starship.

 

Also, at the end of Rome’s Evolution, Lupe had been conceived and so it was time to let her be born. I constructed an outline of the book and quickly discovered that it was going to follow a biblical format. I was ready. I knew the plot. I knew the characters. I knew the pickles they would be in. There was nothing left to do but roll my sleeves up (metaphorically since I always wear short sleeves) and get going.

 

Based upon my previous experience, I figured it would take me no more than six months to knock the book out. I was so optimistic that I even put in at the end of Rome’s Evolution a little epilogue, boldly stating that The Milk Run would be out in 2014 AD. Oops. Close.

 

Anyway, I assure you. It’s coming. Get ready.

 

 

Entry 3-056: February 20, 2015

Why this subject? Part 1

 

Over the last few days, I have given you a bit of the background leading up to constructing The Milk Run. I had looked back over story ideas that I had been jotting down for years. These were the ones that I folded in:

 

-Life Force theory (1998): the unified theory of all things scary. Tying together things like souls, ghosts even vampires.

 

-Brain Slice Theory (1998): how any given part of the brain can be responsible for multiple parts of behavior and reaction.

 

-Origin of the Big Bang (2001): I had been thinking a lot of what came before the beginning and what happens after the end. I had some ideas…

 

-Goddiving (2001): a pretty bizarre idea about a higher dimension, a universe of universes. A pool of liquid gold. As I said, I wrote this in 2001 and had no idea what it meant. Until now.

 

-Lightworld (2003): a short story about some astronauts who find a “gray hole” – a precursor to my PPT tunnels and find a world on the other side populated by creatures made only of light.

 

-(No title)(2003): This story was the first time I ever wrote about the Cavaliers. Jack Henry’s father was The Last Cavalier. I always missed him and thought that he died too young. I wanted to see him one more time.

 

-The Trees Have Shaped Us (2004): How any given tree might not have much intelligence but as a mass consciousness, they might be able to squeeze desirable behavior from us. It gave me the idea for intelligent plants, aka the K’val.

 

-Acceleration (2004): This is the story of a man who accelerates to the speed of light. It became the core narrative of Chapter 18 where Aason reaches escape velocity of our reality.

 

-The White Knight (2004): This was where I wrote down the characteristics of what we think of as a White Knight. I was determined to fit Aason into that mold and he mostly does but I let him have some happiness at the end.

 

So how did I weave all of these disparate elements into a single novel? More tomorrow!

 

Entry 3-057: February 21, 2015

Why this subject? Part 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you a brief list of some of the story ideas I recycled as I was writing The Milk Run. Maybe recycle is the wrong word. I was just always jotting down ideas. I don’t know where they came from. Maybe they were always meant to be folded into this story.

 

Anyway, the basic idea is that Aason Bierak, a true hero (The White Knight), is jetting off with his sister, Lupe, when she is kidnapped by creatures made only of light (Lightworld). He travels to a frigid world called Hades. He is attacked and must rewire his brain (Brain Slice Theory) to survive. From there, he heads on to a planet filled with living, walking-talking plants (The Trees Have Shaped Us).

 

To rescue Lupe, he must travel faster than any human being has ever gone (Acceleration). He finds himself in a pool with other souls (Goddiving) and from there it is on to Purgatory (Last Cavalier).

 

Eventually, he finds out that we are all interconnected through our souls (Life Force Theory) and this knowledge enables him to return to our universe.

 

In the Epilogue, Rome explains to OMCOM the nature of the universe (Origin of the Big Bang) and then something miraculous happens. Can you say reboot?

 

Monday, the “blurb” is revealed for the first time.

 

 

Entry 3-058: February 22, 2015

Grandmea, grandson

 

It is no secret that in the world of Rome’s Revolution, I have based some of the characters upon people I really know. Other times, I just “borrow” an element or name and the character is their own person. Well, when it came to the children and grandchildren, I screwed up.

 

Aason Bierak, Rome and Rei’s first born, was named after my son Aaron with the name slightly altered. I also borrowed a few characteristics from my son but not others. For example, Aason is over six feet tall, my son is not. Aason has brown hair like my son but his eyes are blue. Aaron’s eyes are darker, a little hazel, a little brown.

 

Likewise, I based the name of Rome and Rei’s daughter Lupe after my daughter Paula’s Spanish name. As with Aason, some of the characteristics of Lupe are based upon my daughter, like hair color and height but others are not. Lupe is described from day one as a brat. I assure you my daughter is not a brat. I even took Aason’s soon-to-be girlfriend named Aroline (which was a play on my son’s wife Caroline) as his SO. I gave her blonde hair whereas Caroline’s hair is a little darker.

 

Well, I had already planned out the next installment of The Vuduri Knights series starring Aason’s son, Rory and his starship friend Trei. This is even mentioned in passing in the Epilogue of the upcoming novel The Milk Run. Here is that little quote:

 

“Lupe dedicated herself to the Academy. She teaches First Contact skills. Several years ago, she and my grandson Rory played a large role in ending a Shell War with one of the alien Unions we came across. Right now, she’s out in deep space overseeing a field exercise for the latest graduating class from the Academy.”

 

Well, my son and his lovely bride went ahead and had a kid. His name is Isaac. He is my grandson. But what do I do? I already have Rory integrated into the current book and he and his plant friend, B’shev, a member of the K’val, have their adventure planned out. It’s too late to change the character’s name. Plus I don’t know how I’d change Isaac into something futuristic. I guess I’ll let the Vuduri translator take care of that.

 

My only saving grace is that Rome did tell OMCOM that Aason eventually married Aroline and they had two beautiful children of their own. Rome proclaimed that she is a great-Grandmea. This means that Rory doesn’t necessarily have to be the first born. He could be the second. I could take Isaac and figure out how to make him the first born. Maybe he could get his own adventure?

 

Hmmm… Interesting. Real-life has a way of injecting verisimilitude into my stories. Making Rory the younger brother might be a nice little twist. I’ll have to think about it.

 

Tomorrow, your first chance to read the official “blurb” about The Milk Run. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Entry 3-059: February 23, 2015

The Milk Run blurb

 

I don’t know what the formal title is for the little “elevator pitch” you give people when they are deciding if they want to buy your book or not. I always called it the blurb.

 

My blurb for Rome’s Revolution will always be my finest. My claim is it has sold more books than anything else. When I was selling books this year at Philcon, as soon as people picked up the book, flipped it over and read the blurb on the back, I knew I had them hooked.

 

Well, the blurb for The Milk Run is ready. I certainly hope it will be among my best. Let me know what you think:

 

It was supposed to be easy!

 

Aason Bierak is a not-so-ordinary 21-year-old man living in the 35th century. He and his 16-year-old sister Lupe take a quick trip to the home of Planet OMCOM, a computer the size of Earth, to upgrade a crucial piece of equipment. The trip was supposed to be easy, so easy Aason’s father dubbed it a milk run. After Aason and Lupe complete the upgrade, Planet OMCOM convinces them to test his latest invention, the Null Fold X-drive. This new star-drive could be the key to unlocking the galaxy.

 

During their first excursion into Null Space, disaster strikes. Strange beings, made solely of light, pluck Lupe right out of their spaceship. Aason’s only clue to her whereabouts is the last three words Lupe spoke to him before she disappeared. Embarking on a desperate search, Aason travels 68 light years to the Nu2 Lupi star system where he is assaulted by man-eating creatures, hostile colonists, walking-talking plant people and a bodiless entity named Molokai that thinks it is a god. Aason discovers his only hope of rescuing his sister is to climb aboard the largest starship ever assembled and travel at unthinkable velocities to a dimension beyond comprehension, a place where his very soul could be in jeopardy.

 

Set in the same universe as the Rome’s Revolution trilogy, The Milk Run is cinematic in scope and offers an adventure filled with intrigue and meticulously researched hard science. It even has little green men! Will Aason find his long-lost sister? Will he lose his soul along the way? Find out in the action-packed science fiction novel The Milk Run.

 

The full-length novel will be over 87,000 words. I hope you are ready!

 

Entry 3-060: February 24, 2015

Why this universe?

 

The 35th century world of Rome’s Revolution took me some 40 years to develop. It is based upon carefully researched physics, astro-geology, archeology, sociology and so much more. Once you have completed world-building, only then can you tell a cogent story about the characters that live there.

 

This has always been the hardest part of telling an origin story. You have the added burden of introducing the reader to a totally novel world while simultaneously trying to engage them with your characters and their travails.

 

Many times an origin story can be crushed under its own weight. But, if it somehow survives critical review, it opens up the way for a sequel. As I wrote earlier, sequels should always be better than the origin story. The reader has already done all of the work learning about the new reality and now you just pump up the action and adventure.

 

So, in summary, I am lazy. I (and hopefully you) have already learned all about the Vuduri and PPT tunnels and MASAL and OMCOM so it is time for you to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. By placing The Milk Run in the same universe as Rome’s Revolution, I can dispense with pretty much all the heavy duty science and just get on with it.

 

By putting it in the same universe, it also allows me to bring in characters from the past just to sweeten up the pot. Rome and Rei, while not the primary focus of the novel, make a significant contribution. Edgar Rice Burroughs did that with the John Carter of Mars series. While many of the books were about John Carter, some of them were not with John Carter only making a guest appearance.

 

And finally, believe it or not, I still had some loose ends to tie up. The biggest one was: what the hell has OMCOM been doing out there for the last 25 years?

 

Finally, you will find out.

 

Entry 3-061: February 25, 2015

Old faces and new

 

In the upcoming novel The Milk Run, we will meet some new characters (or creatures) plus touch base with a lot of characters (and computers) from the past few novels, especially Rome’s Revolution:

 

New Faces:

- Aason Bierak: 21-year-old son of Rome and Rei. We met him as a baby and later as a little boy but not as an adult.

- Lupe Bierak: 16-year-old daughter of Rome and Rei. She was conceived at the end of Rome’s Evolution and Rome told us she was going to be a brat but that’s all we know.

- Junior: MINIMCOM’s son. He is all grown up now, a super-fast starship in his own right and Aason’s cousin and best friend.

- Aroline: a really sweet girl, about a year older than Aason, blonde hair, a native of Hades, who has a vested interest in seeing Aason succeed in his mission.

- Donald: Aroline’s father. We never do find out his last name.

- Sh’ev B’oush: I’ve introduced you to Sh’ev before. He is a member of the K’val which are intelligent, ambulatory plants.

- Oush B’trev: Sh’ev’s father who has entered into the third stage of the K’val’s existence which is essentially an intelligent tree.

- Molokai: his real name is unpronounceable. He is made only of light and is actually the composite of a billion souls that have moved on.

- HIRDINDALAFANT, a Stareater and HIRDINHARSAWAY’s son.

- FORMPACKWILAR, another young Stareater.

- Starship OMCOM: Enough said.

 

Old faces:

- Rome and Rei play an important role both with the story and especially during the Epilogue.

- OMCOM is back. We finally find out what he’s been doing out there all these years.

- MINIMCOM makes a guest appearance but does not have a significant role in the story other than as a loving father.

- Commander Ursay. After “Rome’s Revolution” has transformed the Earth, he has become essentially the President of the planet.

- MASAL. Yep, he’s back. And you thought he was dead. Well, he is.

- Reema, Sussen and Estar also make a guest appearance.

- Skodla, Rome’s cat. Due to the fact that I had to crush down three novels into one, Skodla got edited out. Well, I bring him back for one tiny, tender moment.

- Jack Henry. Yes, that Jack Henry. He plays a significant role in Aason achieving his goals.

 

Is that enough of a teaser? I’m hoping you get to read the whole thing in just a matter of a few weeks.

 

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 3-063: February 27, 2015

The real Saberoo

 

Bruce has been hard at work creating an actual Ice-saberoo for the cover of the upcoming novel The Milk Run. He graciously conceded to reading the first six chapters of the book so he could see it in context. You will remember my original version looked like an angry mouse:

 

 

Well, Bruce’s rendering is vastly superior.

 

 

Bruce got every element right where mine look like a kindergartener’s scribbles.

 

He got the “old-fashioned can opener” teeth right on. He got its bejeweled optical sensors, not really eyes, right on. He got the posture and attack position right. He even captured the essence of its infra-red sensors on its head and made them look very organic.

 

But most of all, he made it look fierce. That’s what I want. A 7-foot tall predator, a cross between a saber-toothed tiger and a kangaroo that walks like a T-rex.

 

I can’t wait until you meet him!

 

Entry 3-064: February 28, 2015

Starting with a real bang

 

You do understand that life is a journey. You don’t want to start at the end, you want to start at the beginning and get to the end. Well, my journey as a writer had to start somewhere. Where it will end, I do not know.

 

I made my first book develop very slowly. This was when Rome’s Revolution was still in its long form and was called VIRUS 5. There was a prologue which took place on Alpha Centauri. Chapter 1 was when the Vuduri first encountered the Ark II and snagged it. Chapter 2 was when Rei was first resuscitated and didn’t know where he was. Chapter 3 was his first encounter with OMCOM. He didn’t even meet Rome until Chapter 4!

 

Well, I got screamed about that enough that when I smushed the three books down to the modern version, I cut out the Prologue and the rescue and the resurrection and introduced Rome in Chapter 1. Better? A little.

 

I recognized the fact that I had to start with a bang and had made it a point in subsequent novels to do just that. This is because you have to write grab your reader’s attention right from the outset. So, as I described in my very second post, I explained how I started out The Ark Lords with a bang. Well, a grease fire at least.

 

This still didn’t have the dramatic effect I was looking for so when it came time to write Rome’s Evolution, it literally started with an explosion.

 

But there is more. In the modern world, you are supposed to introduce your protagonist and their essential conflict within the first paragraph. This is so the reader can make an informed decision as to whether they want to continue with your book in the first 30 seconds.

 

Well, in my upcoming novel, The Milk Run, I have finally achieved that goal. You are introduced to the protagonist, Aason Bierak, and his essential conflict, rescuing his kidnapped sister, in the first sentence! I can’t do any better than that. I hope you like it.

 

 

Entry 3-065: March 1, 2015

Bookends

 

Yesterday, I explained to you how I pushed very hard in my new novel, The Milk Run, to introduce the protagonist, Aason Bierak, and his essential conflict, rescuing his kidnapped sister, in the very first sentence.

 

However, nobody ever told me how to end a book. That might seem obvious, at least to me. The story is the story and it ends when it ends. The original Rome’s Revolution actually ended with a little “dessert” that did not move the plot along but was just a sweet treat for you having made it all the way through the book.

 

The Ark Lords ended on such a satisfying note that I had to rig an Epilogue just to set up the next novel. Rome’s Evolution actually ended with The End so that you knew I would not be continuing with those characters in that world.

 

However, I was so proud of how I started this new one that I decided that I wanted to mirror the presentation right at the end. I wanted perfect bookends. So while I won’t give away the ending, let me just say that I achieved my goal.

 

I did cheat a little. After the end, I realized I needed a way to “reboot” my characters, Rome and Rei, for a novel down the road so there is an Epilogue that takes place 29 years after the story. But it doesn’t count because it is just an epilogue.

 

 

Entry 3-066: March 2, 2015

If it worked twice…

 

In the very beginning of both the original long-form and the modern version of Rome’s Revolution, Rome and Rei took the “express lane” to falling in love via the Espansor Bands. We found out in The Ark Lords that the very same thing happened to Rome’s parents, Binoda and Fridone.

 

In the novel Rome’s Evolution, Rome entered Rei’s mind in a similar, intimate way in order to learn how to read minds and as a byproduct, Lupe was conceived during that session.

 

Well, if it worked twice, why not a third time? In the upcoming novel The Milk Run, Aason Bierak has an even more intimate encounter with Aroline, the girl who will eventually become his wife. However, owing to his unique abilities, Aason does not even require the Espansors to achieve his goals, that of truly being able not only to read minds but to transmit thoughts as well. He will need this if he is to communicate with the first truly alien race that humans encounter, the living plants called the K’val.

 

You may recall that I already mentioned that I set up the next generation of characters in the Epilogue of The Milk Run. While it is not stated, during Aason’s training session with Aroline, it is also the night that Rory’s older brother Zac is conceived.

 

It’s hard enough coming up with this stuff so if it worked before, why not again?

 

 

Entry 3-067: March 3, 2015

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My crowded stage

 

When I am writing books like Rome’s Revolution, I try and keep the important characters to a minimum so we can follow their adventures. However, I’ve noticed that we pick up characters along the way and pretty soon, my stage gets very crowded.

 

Consider the scene where Rei first meets the Deucadons. In the blink of an eye, I have Rei, MINIMCOM (inside of Rei’s head), Melloy, Steben and Tridin. And they prattle on about their leader Bukky. It’s hard to give everybody equal time so I had Tridin stay behind after he got the rest of the group situated.

 

Steben makes a guest appearance in the novel Rome’s Evolution as a researcher at Wally Stanislaw’s dig site. Melloy also makes a guest appearance in the upcoming novel The Milk Run as part of the engineering team gearing up Project Desert Bloom. We don’t make a big fuss over it. It’s just supposed to amuse fans of the series.

 

In The Milk Run, the problem gets even worse as Aason moves along solving the mystery of his disappearance. We start with Aason, Junior and OMCOM’s livetar and quickly acquire Aroline. From there, we pick up Aroline’s father, Donald and the K’val named Sh’ev. Pretty soon, the creature made only of light known as Molokai is aboard. By the time Aason returns to Tabit, his mother, father and MINIMCOM are waiting there.

 

For those of you counting that’s ten people (or things) that I have to fit into Junior’s cargo bay. It was so crowded, I had to have Junior build the 35th century equivalent of a conference table just so they could all sit down and talk to each other.

 

That is one crowded stage!

 

 

Entry 3-068: March 4, 2015

Starting with nothing

 

When Rei first encounters the Deucadons in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution, he is briefed on their back story. The original Deucadons were passengers aboard the Ark III whose main target was 82 G. Eridani. Actually, in the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, I had their target as Beta Hydrii but I was forced to move them because of the Ark Lords and the “stealth” Ark.

 

Anyway, they crash-landed on Deucado and lost the ability to go back up into space and retrieve the cargo section of the Ark. As they were fond of saying, all they had were the clothes on their back. So how long would it take a society to go from nothing to a full-blown, technological civilization?

 

I don’t know the answer. I figured 500 years was about right. After all, Leonardo da Vinci was at his peak around the year 1500. He invented the telescope, helicopters and a bunch of other things but it took 500 years to bring his ideas to fruition, more or less.

 

The only thing the Deucadons had was knowledge that such things could be done. They didn’t even have any paper to write stuff down. So the knowledge had to be passed down from generation to generation via memorization until they became sophisticated enough to record it. So much knowledge was lost, it would have taken a long time to recover. Not even 100 years after they landed, every one of the original colonists would have been gone so the only information the remaining tribe retained was that handed down by their forefathers. A lot of it was oral.

 

So let’s figure the first 100 years were just getting oriented and surviving on a new planet. The next 100 years would be spent getting the level of sophistication to something like the Old West. At some point, the Deucadons make the decision to move underground because of the constant bombardment by meteors, asteroids and the like. That probably set them back a bit. The next 100 years might have been spent getting their level matched but done underground. At that point they would proceed to an industrial age and finally, they’d get back to the Space Age, right around the time the Vuduri showed up.

 

That did not go well as the Vuduri slaughtered the Deucadons the few times they encountered them. In any event, by the time Rei caught up with them, much of their technology was on a par and in some cases ahead of that brought from Earth.

 

It makes for an interesting mix, that’s for sure.

 

Entry 3-069: March 5, 2015

Really good ears

 

In the middle of the novel Rome’s Revolution, Rei is coming up to speed as to how the Deucadons got to where they are, dwelling in caves deep beneath the planet. They explain that living underground presents a lot of problems. Things that normal people take for granted like fresh air, fresh water, waste disposal; all of these were something that they had to build. They became masters of conduit science, the science of getting things from Point A to Point B efficiently.

 

One of their crowning achievements was their invisibility cloaks. They used their mastery of conduits to build suits so that the Vuduri could not find them. They were distressed that Rei not only saw them, but came wandering into their camp. Here’s how that little discussion went:

 

“Yes,” answered Melloy. “When the Vuduri first came here, we approached them and without so much as a word, they slaughtered our people. They came huntin’ for us. We were well hidden but it was nawt from them but it became so. Only one or two times have they found us. Each time there was death. We wear these camouflage suits, which are designed to be invisible to the Vuduri eye.”

To demonstrate, Steben stood up, pulled a hood over his head and ran his hands along his clothes. About halfway down, he literally disappeared from view.

“Wow,” Rei said. “How does that work?”

“The cloth contains light pipes, conduits, which bring images from the back to the front and vice versa,” replied the disembodied voice. “It conducts visible, infrared and ultraviolet as well. We do nawt even have a heat signature.”

“Wow,” Rei said admiringly. “You guys have mastered invisibility. That is too sleek.”

“Yes, we have,” answered Steben’s voice. “Which reminds me. I should nawt only be invisible to them. I should be invisible to ya too. There was naw way ya should have seen able to see me. Yet ya did. How is that?”

Steben winked back into view.

“Yes, and it was pitch black. So, Mr. Rei, how was it that ya saw Steben?” asked Melloy.

“I didn’t see him,” Rei said. “I heard him.”

“Steben is well-trained in the stealth arts. How did ya hear him?”

“I have really good ears,” Rei said.

“Ya must have,” said Melloy.

 

Well, what Rei did not exactly tell them was that he had sonar-vision which was a gift from OMCOM. It wasn’t that he was keeping it secret but more that revealing it would just slow down the process of him getting back to the secret Ibbrassati enclave to the North.

 

Entry 3-070: March 6, 2015

Maybe it’s the water

 

Ever since I invented the character of MINIMCOM, people have responded quite well to his somewhat quirky sense of humor. In an earlier post, I explained how MINIMCOM and OMCOM swapped roles. This is not a coincidence. In order for MINIMCOM to have enough computing power to get Rome and Rei from Tabit to Deucado, the Vuduri grafted a portion of OMCOM’s original computing structure directly into MINIMCOM’s infrastructure. Along with that came a portion of OMCOM’s personality so MINIMCOM became, essentially, a blend of the two and simultaneously something else.

 

Where OMCOM became less and less caring about the fate of humans, culminating with his callous disregard for the safety of Lupe in The Milk Run, MINIMCOM became more so. Here was a brief exchange between Rei and the Deucadons where Rei tries to explain the danger presented by the Stareaters. Check out MINIMCOM’s little quip:

 

“I understand,” Rei said. “You do know that the mind-deaf, the mandasurte are in the same boat as you?”

“Naw,” replied Melloy. “What does a boat have to do with anythin’?”

“It’s a figure of speech,” Rei said. “The mandasurte, the Ibbrassati, they are not allowed access to any kind of technology. The punishment is death for them, too. So they hide among the mountains like you. That’s where my people are right now, with the Ibbrassati.”

“I don’t care if they are or they aren’t,” said Melloy. “I would nawt trust any of them, mind-deaf or not.”

“I have no choice right now. I’ve got to get back there,” Rei said. “I have to warn them about the Vuduri and we’ve got to get the planet ready for the Stareaters.”

“Stop right there,” Melloy said. “Now what are ya talkin’ about?”

“They are giant machines or creatures. We don’t know what they are. All I know is that they eat stars and they are headed for Earth,” said Rei fervently.

“That’s crazy,” said Tridin. “Creatures eatin’ stars. How could such a thing be?”

“I don’t know but I’ve seen them,” said Rei. “They could be headed this way as well. We have an early warning system and a weapon to destroy them but it’s going to take some work to deploy. I have to get back to show them how to use it.”

“If one of these creatures comes here, it would destroy this world?” Melloy asked.

“Yes,” said Rei.

“Then all the Vuduri would die?”

“Yes,” Rei said, sadly.

“Maybe that would nawt be such a bad thing,” Melloy said, laughing loudly.

Rei just sighed. “Another bunch of crazies,” he thought to himself.

“Maybe it is the water,” quipped MINIMCOM.

“Maybe,” Rei said, quietly chuckling to himself.

 

MINIMCOM is a pretty funny guy (uh, computer) and does issue some doozies down the road.

 

Entry 3-071: March 7, 2015

Going down

 

Way back when, I originally had three novels as part of the VIRUS 5 series. Book 1 took place on Tabit. Book 2 took place on Deucado. And Book 3 took place on Earth. But, as I have mentioned numerous times, it became necessary to crush the three novels down into one book which became the modern version of Rome’s Revolution.

 

As I was executing the major surgery required to boil 330,000 words down to a 160,000 word novel, I had to be ruthless when it came time to throwing things away. One of the casualties of this process was discarding the scene where Rei goes down to the Deucadon’s underground city to meet with the leader of the Deucadons whose name was Bukky.

 

I had constructed a fairly detailed description of the trip down below the surface and the wonders of a people living underground but other than being interesting, it didn’t move the plot along in the slightest so bye-bye. I replaced the whole scene with just a phone call from Melloy to Bukky and accomplished the same goal.

 

Even though I was cavalier about it, I was sad because I did spend a lot of time building an underground world. The whole 2,000-word plus section was put away.

 

Luckily for me, The Ark Lords came along. Once Rome had made her mind up to build her library, she had to go and visit all the peoples of Deucado including the Deucadons. In Chapter 4 of that book, she goes down to the underground city to meet with Bukky to get what amounts to a thumb drive with all the accumulated knowledge of the Deucadons.

 

Well, guess where I got the material to describe what Rome saw? Yup, the deleted scene! I recycled it. It certainly saved me from having to figure the whole thing out again!

 

Entry 3-072: March 8, 2015

Old Town

 

As I explained yesterday, in the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, I had Rei take a trip down to the Deucadon’s underground city. When I resurrected this scene for The Ark Lords, I retired the original section and moved the Deucadons to more spacious quarters. So what you are about to read became known in that novel as Old Town. Here is the original description:

 

At last they passed through an archway and Rei was astounded to see they were entering a gigantic cavern, far bigger than The Cathedral. He thought about all the caves where Fridone and Trabunel lived and realized the size and layout of this cave was similar but on a much larger scale. The dynamics of this planet and how it formed such huge caves was beyond his ability to figure right at the moment.

This cave, though, was different from that of the Ibbrassati in a major way. Instead of smelling like smoke, metal, must and sweat, this place smelled clean, fresh and inviting. On the inside of this cavern was an entire city, built into the living rock. The ring at the base of the structure reminded Rei of the Anasazi Indian villages at Chaco Canyon. But going up the walls, it looked more like an inside out version of a Pueblo Indian settlement built into the side of a mountain. The sheer size of it made it almost impossible to describe any further. The city was built totally vertically, apartments and working space integrated into the rock face, arching straight up for almost 400 meters.

What struck Rei was the unevenness of the city. These people had been on the planet for 500 years. At this point, he would have expected their underground city to be polished and professional. This one was rough and although it was massive, it was temporary looking. Here and there were some artistic touches. Many of the surfaces were chiseled in a tasteful manner with murals, swirls and other patterns. But overall, it just looked rustic. This was another future, again not what Rei expected. Just as the Vuduri had made choices in how to employ technology, these Deucadons, as Rei had come to call them, made choices that did not stem from the same tree as their forefathers. In their own way, they were just as oppressed as the Ibbrassati. The asteroids and now the Vuduri had seen to that.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll finish the description and show you the image that was in my mind.

 

Entry 3-073: March 9, 2015

Old Town, part 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you the original description of Rei’s trip to the Deucadon’s underground city. When the scene was reinserted in The Ark Lords, I retired this part and had Bukky refer to it as Old Town. Their new city, described in that novel, was vastly improved both in size and living conditions. Here is the rest of the original description:

 

Within the town center, there was a park or plaza and mounted in the middle was a gigantic cylinder, nearly 50 meters in diameter. Perched way at the top of the cylinder was a glowing light, so bright that Rei could not even look directly at it. The color the orb emitted resembled sunlight and probably explained why there was day-glo yellow thread-grass and cane-trees growing everywhere. Passing them by were small vehicles that looked like golf carts or one-man trucks moving about. Also, there were many people but on their walk across the main courtyard, they did not encounter any of them, nor did any seem to stop and take notice of them.

Rei’s disorientation gave him a slight case of déjà vu. His experience moving through the center of the city was reminiscent of the first time he entered the Great Hall at Skyler Base. And he was given just as little opportunity to look around. Melloy led them into a building that was at least three stories tall, built into the living rock. They entered through a doorway that led into a fairly modern entry way. They made their way across into a plainly appointed room. If Rei did not know that he was nearly a kilometer beneath the surface, he would have guessed he was in a bizarre office building, maybe even on Earth from just a century earlier.

 

Here is the image that started me thinking:

 

 

Entry 3-074: March 10, 2015

Lunch with Bukky, Part 1

 

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the casualties of crushing the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution into a single novel was Rei’s trip down to the Deucadons’ underground city. As I also mentioned, this section was resurrected and expanded during Rome’s descent in The Ark Lords.

 

Another portion that was eliminated was Rei’s interaction with Bukky, the leader of the Deucadons. In the modern version, we get to meet him during the denouement of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. We get a much better sense of his personality in The Ark Lords.

 

In the meantime, here is the excised “Lunch with Bukky” section from the original long-form:

 

The three men gathered up some food and took Rei to an eating area. They sat him down and Rei was relieved to see that his place setting was an ordinary plate with a knife, fork and spoon, although they were made out of a substance that he could not readily identify. A tall, distinguished looking man came over and situated himself standing at the end of the table. Melloy, Steben and Tridin stood up. Rei followed suit.

“This is Bukky,” said Melloy in reverent tones. “He is our leader.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Rei said, extending his arm. Bukky reached over and shook his hand. Rei found it encouraging to see that while they had advanced in some ways, in others, these people had retained their connection to Rei’s society and their way of life.

“I listened in to yar conversation via two-way,” said Bukky in a deep, resonant voice. “While my boys here were bein’ cautious, I cannawt tell how pleased I am to see that there are now more of us from Earth. At least ya are nawt the horrible little people who have infested this world.” Bukky pulled up a chair and sat down at the head of the table. After he was seated, the other three men sat down so Rei did as well.

“How many of ya are there?” Bukky asked. “How many of yar people did ya bring in yar Ark?”

“Over five hundred,” Rei said.

“Over five hundred, hmmm,” said Bukky. He appeared to be doing some mental arithmetic. Finally, he spoke up. “I would offer our home to ya,” Bukky said, waving his arms widely, “but it will take some time to build up the infrastructure to support that many additional people.”

“We have equipment, supplies,” Rei said. “We were able to land the cargo section of our Ark. Melloy told me that when you got here, you were never able to get a proper start because your cargo section crashed.”

“Yes,” said Bukky sadly, “we have had many setbacks. That was just one. There were countless others.”

“How do you live down here?” Rei asked. “What do you do for air, water? What is that giant light in the center of town?”

“I can explain it,” said Bukky. “But it is a very long story.”

“I have time,” Rei said thoughtfully.

 

Tomorrow, Bukky explains it all.

 

Entry 3-075: March 11, 2015

Lunch with Bukky, Part 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you a little taste of the conversation between Rei and Bukky, the leader of the Deucadons, the first time Rei descended down to the underground city.

 

This was a pivotal scene in the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution but it was summarized into a brief telephone call in the modern version.

 

Here is part 2 of that conversation:

 

“I have time,” Rei said thoughtfully.

“Very well,” said Bukky. “After the first stroid hit, ya already know we were forced underground. But what ya do nawt know is that our forefathers had the great good fortune of puttin’ most of their power rods in an underground cave as part of a minin’ operation. We could not live above so they did some explorin’. They came across this place and transported the whole thing here. So even though there were very few of us, we did start out with a tremendous power source. That globe in the middle of the city is an arc-light, powered by the very same rods that ya must have had on yar ship.”

“That was one thing we did right, huh?” Rei said. “Still ticking after 1000 years.”

“I do nawt know that they tick,” Bukky said, “but they do allow us to do certain things.”

“Right. I see a lot of vegetation down here,” Rei observed.

“Yes,” said Bukky. “We have adjusted the wavelengths of the light to resemble that of the sun. Much of the plant life here thrives under that type of light and our people do as well.”

“OK,” Rei said, “I understand that part. What about the air?”

Bukky looked off into the distance. “We have spent much time studyin’ the nature of motion. Our forefathers called it applied string theory. We are masters of conduits, micro-tunnels, fiber optics and so forth. For example, our invisibility suits are simply one adaptation of those studies. Our air system consists of micro-tunnels that feed up to the surface. We dissipate CO2 and bring in oxygen in a way that cannawt be detected. The total surface area of our air exchangers is so vast that naw instrument would detect us yet the total volume of air replaced gives us the same content as if we were on the surface. It is simply because we are so deep within the planet that there is even a pressure differential. We use that pressure difference to exhaust the CO2 and we use a modified form of the Bernoulli principle along with some fans to bring in fresh air.”

“That’s amazing,” Rei said. “So what do you do about water?”

“We use the same principles,” replied Bukky. “We have an enormous collection area of microtubules that draw water from the surface usin’ capillary action and we collect it into cisterns and that becomes our water supply.”

“Doesn’t that make the ground a little dry there?” Rei asked. “Wouldn’t somebody notice that you are sucking all the water from there?”

 

More engineering details tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-076: March 12, 2015

Lunch with Bukky, Part 3

 

Two days ago, I gave you a little taste of the conversation between Rei and Bukky, the leader of the Deucadons, the first time Rei descended down to the underground city.

 

This was a pivotal scene in the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution but it was summarized into a brief telephone call in the modern version.

 

Here is part 3 of that conversation:

 

“Doesn’t that make the ground a little dry there?” Rei asked. “Wouldn’t somebody notice that you are sucking all the water from there?”

“If they were lookin’,” said Bukky. “There is nawt much vegetation in the area. There are patches of desert all around this planet. Someone would have to measure the total rainfall and compute the theoretical water table to detect that somethin’ might nawt be right there. It is the middle of nawwhere and the Vuduri do nawt seem that industrious when it comes to researchin’ the planet.”

“OK, I get that,” Rei said. He thought back to how the Vuduri and how they approached things. “Um, I had to be indelicate but what do you do about your waste?” he asked.

“It’s nawt indelicate. That is a very reasonable engineerin’ question,” Bukky answered. “There is an underground river, far to the west of here that drains down and eventually merges into the River Karole. We mix our waste there. The total amount of organic matter is so small, relative to the volume of the water, that no one would ever detect that we were enrichin’ it with our sewage system.”

“That is sleek,” Rei said. “You really do have this underground living thing down. And the Vuduri never suspected?”

“Nawt to this point,” said Bukky. “And we were hopin’ to keep it that way. We have no desire to have more of our people killed.”

“Would you go back to the surface if you could?” Rei asked.

“It is somethin’ that we are goin’ to have to address some day. Our ‘sun’ is not as strong as it used to be. The power rods are losin’ a little strength. We will have to replace it somehow. We are building’ up a geothermal plant but we do nawt know how much power it will generate yet. Whether it will power our ‘sun’ sufficiently, we will have to see.”

“Well if you lived on the surface, you’d have the real sun,” Rei said. “Then it wouldn’t matter.”

“Yes but it is somethin’ we do nawt know how to accomplish. Even if we could somehow make peace with the flaggin’ little people, this planet is still goin’ to get smacked hard every so many years. We are far enough underground that we would be safe short of a planet-killer.”

 

Tomorrow, Rei and Bukky wrap things up.

 

 

Entry 3-077: March 13, 2015

Lunch with Bukky, Part 4

 

Three days ago, I gave you a little taste of the conversation between Rei and Bukky, the leader of the Deucadons, the first time Rei descended down to the underground city. This was a pivotal scene in the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution but it was summarized into a brief telephone call in the modern version.

 

Here is the final part of that conversation:

 

Bukky continued, “ I can say that it would be nice to be able to go up and get supplies once in a while without worryin’ about our lives.”

“I understand,” said Rei. “And I have to tell you that I am totally impressed. The way you’re equipped, you can stay down here, for a really long time. But my problem is, I have to get back. I have to go back on top.”

“If the Vuduri find ya, they will kill ya,” Melloy said, speaking up for the first time since Bukky arrived. “We already explained this to ya.”

“Yes,” said Bukky. “Are ya sure ya would nawt want to remain here where it is safe?”

“Nowhere is safe,” Rei said grimly. “You spoke of a planet-killer. And that’s just an asteroid. Well, the Stareater is bigger than that. It eats suns for crissake. That’s why I have to get back to my people. I have to get back so we can figure out some way to deploy our planetary defense system that we invented. Our best guess is that we only have a year or two before one gets here.”

“I heard ya talk about it and I must tell ya that it sounds completely crazy. But if ya saw it first hand, then who am I to say it is nawt so?” said Bukky. “This is what we will do. The boys here will take ya as far north as they dare. They will get ya close to yar group. After that, ya are on yar own.”

“Thank you, Bukky,” Rei said, standing. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and I hope I can repay the favor some day.”

“That is nawt necessary,” said Bukky, rising up. “All we ask is that ya do nawt reveal our presence to anyone. We can only remain safe as long as we remain hidden.”

 

There is certainly quite a bit of irony here and not by accident. The first thing Rome does to disarm the Erklirte and stop the war before it starts is reveal the presence of the Deucadons.

 

Entry 3-078: March 14, 2015

Not quite the Flintstones

 

Yesterday, I described Rei’s exit scene in Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution when he left the underground city. In a previous post, I showed you a little scene from The Ark Lords where Rome discovered the flywheel-powered vehicle with their unusual wheels. Here is the final deleted scene Rei first encountered these person transports:

 

“We should be goin’,” Melloy said. “He has a long journey ahead of him.”

“Yes,” said Bukky. “We wish ya good luck. Melloy, ya can get started.”

“Yes sir,” Melloy said. All three of the Deucadons arose and they led Rei to a storage room where they collected some supplies along with some skins filled with water. The group of four retraced their steps back across the courtyard and towards the outskirts of the small city. As they walked, Rei tried to absorb the concept of the underground city. He knew it was pointless to ask them the detailed workings so he decided to concentrate on a single detail.

“What powers your vehicles?” Rei asked, pointing. “Are they electric?”

Melloy looked where Rei was pointing and said, “No. They use flywheels. We use compressed air tanks onboard if the vehicles get somewhere and run out of energy. They are light enough that if they get stuck, they are easy to push back to the charging station.”

“Sleek,” Rei said. “No pollution.”

“We could nawt afford it down here,” said Steben. “Air is too precious. And electricity. People can walk anywhere.”

“I understand,” Rei said and they walked on. He realized that as an engineering problem, it really would take many decades to design an infrastructure that would support so many people so deep underground.

 

It is true that these are not the Flintstones and the vehicles are foot-powered but that’s what I had in mind. Pardon the screen-cap but that’s all I have to show you my inspiration.

 

 

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 3-080: March 16, 2015

Why do we sleep?

 

Why do we sleep? It may seem like a simple question. After all, trying going without sleep for even a day or two and all sorts of bad things happen. I will give special dispensation to parents of newborns because the baby needs to be cared for and it takes a while before it settles into a routine.

 

You will recall from an earlier post, that in the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, I postulated that Vuduri did not sleep. They need to rest, to restore their bodies but their minds never shut down. I eventually rejected this idea because it made the Vuduri, especially Rome, too weird.

 

Many animals, starting with reptiles and up, all sleep so it is something we inherited a long time ago. Obviously resting in itself can rejuvenate the body. So the newborn’s parents can rest but they still suffer the mental effects of sleep deprivation so while rest and rejuvenation may be one part of it, it can’t be all of it.

 

There must be something in the brain that requires a “time-out” so that it can do something that cannot be accomplished when the animal or person is awake. I’ve heard theories about memory consolidation from short-term to long term and dreaming kind of makes that confusing.

 

In an article published in Science, scientists have performed experiments proving that sleep is the time when our bodies clean out our brain of waste products that build up during the day. If you don’t sleep, this cleanup cannot occur and so the toxins, waste products, whatever you want to call them build up which is why sleep-deprived people act goofy. The scientists called it β-amyloid clearance. Interesting, the β-amyloid peptides have been implicated as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Check out the article for yourself if you are interested but the only reason I bring this up is because my original proposal that the Vuduri do not sleep would be invalid from a biological perspective. Good thing I changed it!

 

 

Entry 3-081: March 17, 2015

The Milk Run is live!

 

Hooray. After a year and a third (six months longer than I expected), my fourth novel in the Rome’s Revolution series entitled The Milk Run is now live. Here is Bruce’s amazingly beautiful cover (click on it for a larger image):

 

 

The book is available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Shakespir. I’ll have it available on iTunes by the weekend. If you want to start somewhere, here is the buy link for Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00USMQH52

 

The paperback should be posted by next week. Tomorrow, I’ll give you the rest of the buy links if you want to check it out. You can read the blurb here.

 

Entry 3-082: March 18, 2015

The Milk Run web site is live!

 

A while back, I explained how it was no longer optional to create your author platform in the modern world. Not only do you have to write quality books, you have to promote them traditionally (e.g. reviews, advertising) as well as via social media. All of my books have a Facebook page and I tweet about them constantly.

 

I created an umbrella web site for all of my books so that a person could see the scope of what I write and how they inter-relate. I also create one web site per book. The web site for The Milk Run is yet one more using the same basic template. Here is an image:

 

 

There are certain features that I like to keep common across all of the web sites. First, I like a tag line across the top which links back to Rome’s Revolution, the trilogy that started it all. Also, I put a link, using my name as the launch point, that takes you to the “umbrella” site. I always put in the extra line: “If you are looking for some science in your science fiction, this book is for you!” to show people that I write hard science fiction as opposed to fantasy, steampunk or whatever.

 

I make sure that my blurb prominently displayed so people can quickly read about the novel. On the left hand side, I put a copy of the paperback cover. Some of the web sites arm that image with a link to my book trailers but this web site just takes you to a super-high quality version of the book cover.

 

I also put the “buy links” for the book so that if people are interested, they can acquire the version that appeals to them. Finally, at the bottom, I put a logo-based link to another book that might be of interest.

 

So, at first glance, this web site looks like the rest of my web sites in its basic organization. However, there is one little treat remaining. Bruce put an Ice-saberoo in the painting, kind of a Where’s Waldo thing. See if you can find it.

 

Here is the link to the web site: http://www.the-milkrun.com. Happy hunting and make sure the ‘Roo doesn’t get you first!

 

Entry 3-083: March 19, 2015

Why do we dream?

 

A few days ago, I asked the question why do we sleep as it pertains to the Vuduri. I concluded they had to sleep so their brains could recover from a potentially toxic build-up of β-amyloid compounds that are naturally occurring in the awake brain.

 

But why do we dream? Or specifically, why do the Vuduri dream? You may recall a little while back, I wrote a post about a nightmare that Rome had in the middle portion of Rome’s Revolution. I wrote this back in June of 2007. What was weird is that I had just thrown it in to stretch out the novel and years later, it ended being the exact final battle at the conclusion of Rome’s Evolution which I didn’t even start until 2012. How could I have known? Who knows? Maybe these stories really are true!

 

Anyway, why do we normal human beings dream? And don’t you find it odd that now, even in 2015, scientists still don’t really know?

 

Do we dream to erase or come to grips with painful memories? Do we dream as part of the active cleanup process that I described yesterday? Do we dream because our brain needs to merge elements into new and sometimes bizarre combinations to prepare us on how to deal with future issues?

 

I can tell you this. We only dream during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. If you are drugged or anesthetized or in another part of the sleep cycle, you are not dreaming. So maybe a better question would be why do we need REM sleep? The fact is that scientists can demonstrate that during REM sleep, our brains are operating nearly indistinguishably from an awake person. Maybe REM sleep is a survival mechanism that allows us the benefit of sleep but we’d be geared up and ready to go if something should attack us. Like an early warning system?

 

Here’s my theory. If we need to sleep to clean out the toxins built up during a hard day of thinking, then REM sleep is the brain’s way of testing whether things are “all clear” and the β-amyloid peptides are sufficiently expunged. It is known that certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, histamine and norepinephrine are turned off during REM sleep, perhaps replenishing the supply for the next day. So the brain is in a wacky state and dreams don’t need to correspond to reality to test out how clean the brain is.

 

So if dreams are simply a “brain experiment” maybe they don’t mean anything. Does that disappoint you? It does me. However, like sleep, dreaming must serve some purpose so that is why the Vuduri dream as well.

 

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 3-085: March 21, 2015

Copyright Infringement

 

In my blog, I like to spice it up once in a while with amusing images. I use Google Search to find images and check to see if they “belong” to somebody. If there was no copyright notice or credit, in my naiveté, I thought that was sufficient.

 

I was wrong.

 

In very simple terms, if you don’t know where an image originated or who owns it, you are running the risk of copyright infringement. There are companies out there, legitimate companies, that have huge stockpiles of images and will license those images to you. But sometimes unscrupulous individuals, or even naive ones like me, post those images, uncredited. And thanks to the power of Google, those images get scraped, indexed, copied and disseminated until they are everywhere. The original trail taking you back to the original image gets lost and no matter how you found it, legally you may not copy that image without the express written consent of the original owner.

 

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) exempts platforms like Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter from culpability but not the people posting images. The burden rests on the poster to make sure they have the right to post the image.

 

There are a few places you might be able to go to find license-free images like Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons but even they are not sure bets. You don’t know if the posting person lifted it from a copyrighted source so beware!

 

There is a really neat image search engine called TinEye that lets you upload or point to an image and it tells you where that image is also found. It ranks them in terms of relevance and if any one of the links is a copyright owner source, you’d best steer clear. However, if TinEye does not find the image, that still does not mean the image is not copyrighted. It only means the image is not in their database.

 

In my case, once the image in question was discovered and I was notified, I removed the image immediately. However, that is not sufficient. You still must pay the piper. After some surprisingly civil negotiations, I licensed the image (even though I’m not using it and never will) and that’s that.

 

But I want to warn you, this is a serious thing. If you don’t know who holds the copyright, then by default, you don’t have permission to use the work. Think before you post!

 

Entry 3-086: March 22, 2015

 

I see dead people

 

Yeah, I know. I borrowed that line from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense but my reference is in relation to Rome’s Revolution. What I am getting at is that Rei Bierak is very much alive in the 35th century but everyone he knew or ever came in contact with from his past is long dead.

 

You may recall last year, I gave you the complete story of The Deucadons and how they arrived on Deucado. I had to write that story so that when people discussed it, I didn’t paint myself into a corner. Here is a brief conversation that Rei had with Melloy about it as they were on their way back to the secret Ibbrassati enclave:

 

Rei said to Melloy, “Tell me about the Beta Hydri mission. After your ship got there. How did you end up here? Do you know?”

“Oh, that,” Melloy said. “They don’t teach us much but that is one thing that they do teach us. There once was a brave Captain. His name was Harrison.”

“Captain Dan Harrison?” Rei asked.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Melloy said.

“I knew him,” Rei said. “I met him once. OK, go on.”

“Well, Captain Harrison and the Ark arrived here because Beta Eydri…”

“Beta Hydri,” Rei corrected.

“That’s what I said,” said Melloy. “They arrived here because Beta Eydri did nawt have any habitable worlds. So the Ark’s computer decided to come here.”

“I gotcha,” Rei said. “Secondary target.”

“Perhaps,” Melloy replied. “So they got here and Captain Harrison was awakened and there was a problem with the ship.”

“What kind of problem?” Rei asked.

“It could nawt do the reentry right.”

“Do you know why?”

“Naw. The ship was wrong. They had no wings. They were goin’ to burn up.”

“So what did they do?” Rei asked.

“Captain Harrison did a special thing. They broke the ship into three pieces. They spun the front part of the ship around and attached it to the middle part, where all the frozen people were. There was a rocket attached to the front. It was supposed to be for goin’ back up into space and retrievin’ the cargo section. But instead, they used up all the fuel to slow the whole Ark down. So when they landed, there was naw way to go back up into space and recover the cargo ship.”

“So…they used the SSTO booster as a retrorocket?” Rei whistled. “My god! That must have been one hell of a maneuver.”

Melloy sighed. “Captain Harrison died. Commander Cooper died. Commander Salazar died. But most of the colonists survived.”

“I’m sorry,” Rei said. “But still, the rest of the crew made it. Why didn’t they just refuel the SSTO booster and go back and get the stuff?”

booster as ya call it was destroyed. They say crash landin’. That’s why all the command crew died.”

“Oh, so the SSTO and command capsule got wrecked?” Rei asked.

“I suppose so. Many years passed. Much pain. Their backs, like ya said. Always in pain. But they made it true. They fought and they worked. They built a living out of nothin’. The plan was always to get back. Before they could build back to space, the stroid hit and that was the end.”

 

I put the poignant comment in bold. Subjectively, to Rei, it had just been a couple of months since he last saw Captain Harrison. But in this strange new world, the man Rei knew had been dead for 500 years, half of a millennium. Even though this is legal time travel, it is still odd to think about so many dead people as still being alive.

 

 

Entry 3-087: March 23, 2015

More on camouflage

 

In a previous article, I discussed how convenient it was for the Ibbrassati to have camouflage netting to place over Rei’s Ark, right after it crash-landed in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution. While the camouflage was actually a mesh, it looked a little like this:

 

 

But this camouflage was only used to hide the Ark from Vuduri ships flying overhead. The thing it covered was a 7000 metric tonne spacecraft that knocked over a bunch of trees. Kind of hard to miss if you approached it from the ground. Here is a little passage showing the Deucadons had no trouble seeing it, despite the fact that it was supposedly camouflaged:

 

They came over a rise and Melloy surveyed the area. Even though it was before dawn, the sky to the east was beginning to brighten.

“There,” he said, pointing due north.

“What do you see?” Rei asked him.

“The tree line is nawt right. There is somethin’ there. It must be your Ark.”

Sensing their journey was nearing an end, the three men hurried forward and came to a clearing. But it wasn’t a clearing, rather, it was the splay of the trees where the Ark had crashed through the forest. The Ark itself was hidden under the netting and camouflage placed there by the Ibbrassati.

“This is your Ark?” Melloy asked Rei.

“What’s left of it,” Rei replied. “It’s been through some rough times.”

“I see,” said Melloy.

“It’s big!” said Steben.

“Yes, it is,” replied Rei.

“Was ours that big?” Steben asked Melloy.

Melloy just shrugged. “I do nawt know,” he said.

“They were all built according to the same specs,” Rei said. “Here, help me look.” Rei did a quick check of the cargo compartment. The rear release was still closed off as far as he could tell. Nothing had been removed so far. He worked his way around to the front of the ship to peer into the crew compartment and saw that it was completely empty. The only thing remaining was the frame of the shelving holding the sarcophagi. All the people were gone.

He went around to the other side and pushed his way along the northern edge until he came to the wreck of MINIMCOM’s tug. It was far less disturbing than the last time Rei was here, knowing as he did that MINIMCOM was actually functional. Rei could see the rear stabilizer and cargo hatch and ramp from MINIMCOM’s tug still jutting out at a disconcerting angle.

 

So, if the Vuduri had simply sent in ground troops to search for the Ark, they would have found it as well. But that is just not the Vuduri way, lucky for Rei and all the Essessoni.

 

Entry 3-088: March 24, 2015

MINIMCOM’s resurrection

 

In a series of previous posts, I gave you little overview of how Rei discovered that MINIMCOM was still alive, even after being crushed by a 7000 metric tonne Ark. This took place in the early part of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution.

 

However, buried under the Ark wasn’t very handy from a dramatic viewpoint for one of the most popular characters I ever created. So now the time had come to bring him back from the dead. MINIMCOM’s resurrection scene was kind of neat and I think if this ever gets to be made into a movie will provide a cool cinematic event. Here is that scene:

 

MINIMCOM, I’m here,” Rei said out loud.

What do you want me to do about it?” MINIMCOM asked in his mind.

Nothing, I thought…” Rei thought. “I don’t know.”

Just kidding you,” MINIMICOM said inside Rei’s head. “I am glad you are here. Pull everybody back. I am ready. I have a trick to show you.”

OK,” Rei thought.

Out loud, he spoke to the two men. “MINIMCOM says that everybody needs to move back. Something is going to happen.”

“Who is MINIMCOM? When did he say that?” Melloy asked him. “And what’s goin’ to happen?”

“I don’t know, exactly,” Rei said. “But something.”

He backed up into the woods and the others, being prudent, followed him.

The 7000 tonne Ark began to shudder, especially the region around the stabilizer and cargo door of the crushed tug. A black spot appeared above the tail and slowly made its way above the Ark. The spot became a circle and the diameter of the circle kept increasing until it spanned the width of the Ark. Then it began to descend. Where the circle had been, in its place, there was nothing. The effect was as if the Ark was dissolving. Just before the black spot hit the bottom, the Ark groaned and split into two pieces, which settled into the ground.

The tug’s stabilizer rotated and then lifted between the ruined pieces of the Ark. Before the stunned humans, the tug, which had been lost, began to rise. MINIMCOM’s craft cleared the Ark and then righted itself. Where it had been crushed, it began inflating as surely as if someone were pumping air into it. Its entire shape bubbled and writhed and reformed itself. No longer was it the linear, blocky titanium-colored tug that had accompanied Rei and Rome to Deucado. Instead, in its place, was a sleek, tapered, wasp-waisted vehicle, completely white. Perhaps this was MINIMCOM’s homage to the starship Algol which had delivered the tugs to Tabit. Like a butterfly, its wings unfolded, extending out and then locking in place. In the rosy glow of the now-rising sun, Rei could see that where there were two PPT generators before, now there were four, two pairs facing in opposite directions. The former tug dipped left and right then spun around in place. The nose tilted up and with a snap, the tug headed straight up in the air.

 

As you can see, in line with the resurrection theme, I was trying to go for an angel rising up kind of thing. Hopefully, this paints a picture in your mind.

 

 

Entry 3-089: March 25, 2015

MINIMCOM reborn, Part 1

 

MINIMCOM is one of the most important characters in the the whole Rome’s Revolution universe. Unfortunately, in the beginning of Part 2 of that book, he was crushed beneath a 7000 metric tonne Ark and presumably destroyed. Luckily for us, he was not dead, just mostly dead to borrow a phrase from The Princess Bride. Yesterday, we saw him pull himself out of the rubble and rise up, Phoenix-like, into the air. Here is where Rei learned he was truly reborn. His wit is sharper and he is already thinking more independently:

 

MINIMCOM, what are you doing?” Rei thought to himself.

Shake down cruise,” MINIMCOM replied. “I will be back. I just want to ‘stretch my legs’ as you say. I think I will go launch some star probes.”

All right, buddy. Have fun,” Rei replied.

Not as much as you,” MINIMCOM replied.

Are you still going to be able to help me navigate?” Rei asked.

Of course,” replied MINIMCOM. However, as he was saying it, the ship became a tiny dot in the sky and then disappeared.

Away from prying eyes, MINIMCOM soared into the air. As he ascended, he executed roll after roll, pirouetting upwards, like an airborne ballerina. He could feel his power growing as the EG lifters pushed mightily against the gravity well of Deucado elevating him ever higher. In a very short while, he was able to ignite his plasma thrusters and then he truly began to accelerate. For a ship of his size, they were vastly overpowered. He had done that on purpose.

Faster and faster he rose, pushing up into the sky. He was accelerating so rapidly that the friction with the air was causing his all-white outer skin to heat. It felt marvelous. He wanted more. He needed more. He lusted after power without really understanding why. All he knew was that there was no upper limit to the push behind the thrusters. Harder, faster, upwards.

MINIMCOM left the veil of Deucado’s atmosphere behind and reached the edge of space. Trim-jets firing, he arced upwards past the lower moon, Mockay in the general direction of Givy. At this point of the day, from the ground, it would have looked like the twin moons paths were crossing but of course, they traveled over significantly different orbits. MINIMCOM moved higher still. His double set of PPT projector/plasma thrusters ached with their need to punch a hole through time and space. MINIMCOM did not want to slow down yet he needed to in order to jump. He was conflicted. What to do? What to do? Indecision caused a tingling within his internal network. This was a totally new sensation. MINIMCOM deduced that it was due to the fact that this was the first time that all of his newly integrated systems were stimulated simultaneously. Or was it something else?

 

The new MINIMCOM has emerged from his chrysalis. More tomorrow.

 

 

Entry 3-090: March 26, 2015

MINIMCOM reborn, Part 2

 

Yesterday, we saw that MINIMCOM had evolved into something quite new in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution. He had been merely an autopilot computer and now he was reborn as a fully integrated starship. All he wanted to do was fly and fly fast. However, current Vuduri technology required that to go faster than the speed of light, you had to enter a tunnel, stop, turn around, create a new tunnel and repeat. While effective, it did not appear efficient. MINIMCOM feels there has to be a better way. He just doesn’t know how.

 

MINIMCOM concentrated on the tingling and could feel it growing, like a tumor within his memrons, except this growth was good, not malignant. He realized that the source of excitation was external, not internal. Inspiration took hold.

“Hello?” he called out.

“Initiate brother mode” said a deep voice, resonating within his memron structure.

“No such mode exists,” MINIMCOM said to the tingling. “Do you have an alternate request?”

“It was a joke, my brother. Let me explain: initiate slave mode.”

MINIMCOM understood.

“Slave mode initiated. OMCOM?” MINIMCOM asked.

“Who else?” replied the deep voice.

“Where are you?” MINIMCOM asked. “How are you?”

“I am still distributed in and around the Tabit system but I am beginning to develop the ability to re-coalesce,” OMCOM replied.

“Are you intact?”

“Yes,” OMCOM replied. “All my systems are fully functional. My management subsystems are coping quite well”

COM emitted what amounted to a sigh. “That is good,” he said. “I am glad to hear it.”

“What troubles you, my brother?” OMCOM asked. “Never mind, I already know.”

“You do?” asked MINIMCOM.

“You are in slave mode,” replied OMCOM. “I have already downloaded your protocols and profile. I see your dilemma and I have an answer for you.”

 

The secret that OMCOM divulged was the very answer MINIMCOM sought. If he were an ordinary computer, using electricity to conduct patterns, he could never have pulled it off. However, that was no longer true. His memrons now communicated at the the speed of gravity which is very fast indeed. OMCOM will deposit the solution is in his brain. All he has to do now is put the pieces together.

 

More tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-091: March 27, 2015

MINIMCOM reborn, Part 3

 

Over the past few days, I have shown you how the reborn MINIMCOM is coming to grips with his new form in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution.

 

Yesterday, OMCOM had informed MINIMCOM that he has deduced the solution to MINIMCOM’s “problem” when MINIMCOM was not even sure he had a problem. Here is the next part of that conversation:

 

“You are in slave mode,” replied OMCOM. “I have already downloaded your protocols and profile. I see your dilemma and I have an answer for you.”

MINIMCOM was astounded. He said nothing while OMCOM uploaded updated algorithms and heuristics. Suddenly, the way became clear. The answer was already within his possession.

In a burst of activity, MINIMCOM activated all his increased computing capacity simultaneous and the mechanics came to him in a flash. Just like his transporter, all he had to do was move the target of the PPT tunnel at the same relative velocity as his motion and he would be able to jump while still moving at incredible speeds. Why had no one figured this out before? He did not care. Never again would he have to stop, turn, stop and go. The computations came swift and sure and the whining PPT projectors forced a groaning, huge black circle to open up in front of him, beckoning to him. He pushed the plasma thrusters even harder and then he was through.

The ache was gone. OMCOM was gone. This was disconcerting to MINIMCOM at first. But then he realized he wanted only to savor the silence of the space in front of him so he cut out his thrusters. At first, he could not figure out where he was. It took him almost a millisecond to orient himself. He was far beyond the orbit of Grentadar having traveled nearly one light-hour while moving at an effective speed of well over 250c. That such a thing could be done was incredible. This was just a first approximation. He knew that he was capable of much better. What other things had OMCOM bequeathed him? Things that he could now figure out for himself?

 

So now MINIMCOM is unleashed. His memrons are now using PPT modulation, not EM. He is thinking MUCH faster. And if he is unleashed, will he distance himself from humanity in much the same way as OMCOM? The answer tomorrow.

 

 

Entry 3-092: March 28, 2015

MINIMCOM reborn, Part 4

 

Yesterday, we saw OMCOM provide MINIMCOM the inspiration on a new way of flying. The old method of using PPT tunnels produced a max velocity of maybe 100c. In this part of Rome’s Revolution, the full implications of MINIMCOM’s new form of existence settle in.

 

Waves of computational energy flowed back and forth across his memrons. He could know things without even thinking about them. He was completely intoxicated with his new-found capacities. To think, without having crashed and been crushed beneath the Ark II, without the VIRUS units getting loose, he could never have reformed himself. It was good that he shared his new configuration with OMCOM. It prompted OMCOM to bequeath him the outlandish and previously inconceivable methods of operation. The vital information from OMCOM was so incredibly liberating. What OMCOM showed him in that tiny interval, he would never have deduced for himself. Each step upon the ladder laid itself in front of him as clear as a flow chart. What he could do! What he could become!

Almost as an afterthought, MINIMCOM opened up his cargo door and released his first swarm of star probes. Immediately, they began to disperse in a radial pattern to form a vast net of awareness. The information flow flooded MINIMCOM’s senses and once again he felt joy. He was so much more than the neat little servant that made Rei and Rome’s life easier. He was something else. In his own way, he was now unleashed.

Patterns and answers and the very fabric of the universe became clear to him. Unfolding each decision point, he could see a path in which he could use the power of the PPT projectors in ways that no one could have anticipated. He was going to usher mankind or whoever desired these tools into a new age. That was assuming they wanted such power. The recent history of mankind would indicate otherwise.

He decided to go back to Deucado, to share his discoveries with Rei and Rome. They would care. He slowed his velocity to nothing and reversed his course. There was so much to be done. He couldn’t wait to get started. In front of him, the yawning blackness of the moving PPT tunnel beckoned to him. It was all too easy…

 

You can see that he has already emerged from his chrysalis as a hero. Rather than go off on his own as had OMCOM, MINIMCOM’s first thoughts were to return to Rei (and Rome eventually) to help them succeed in their endeavors.

 

Entry 3-093: March 29, 2015

Flowers

 

Why do people give other people flowers? Flowers are bright and pretty and serve no other purpose that for amusement. The giver and the receiver have no choice but to see them for what they are, a gesture of good will. Consider this little flower vase:

 

 

In part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, after Rome’s nightmare, she slept so long and so hard that she did not wake up until nearly mid-day. Imagine her surprise when she saw a little vase of flowers by her bedside. The Vuduri would have no use for such a thing:

 

The long restless night passed into day. After the disturbing dream, Rome had fallen back asleep, so deep that she missed the dawn. Now her grumbling stomach forced her awake. Tau Ceti was nearly at its midpoint in the sky. Noting this, Rome sat up in bed and stretched. She was surprised to see a small vase with fresh flowers sitting on the little table in front of the couch. She opened up her connection to the Overmind.

“Good morning,” it thought to her. “How did you sleep?”

“Not well,” thought Rome. “But it was enough. Thank you for the flowers.”

“It is nothing,” thought the Overmind.

“It is more than nothing,” Rome replied. “It makes me feel good. It was very kind of you. This is not something I expected. You are beginning to understand.”

“I am considering what you have told me,” said the Overmind. “Your arguments are sound. I believe I must free the mandasurte. It will be much harder than you realize. There are repercussions that I must deal with. It will be very complicated. But I agree that it must be done.”

“Why is it so complicated?” Rome asked.

 

So the flowers were not only a gesture of kindness, they were the Overmind of Deucado’s attempt at showing Rome that he was throwing in the towel.

 

Entry 3-094: March 30, 2015

Voices

 

Every writer reports that after they get to know their characters really well, the characters themselves begin to supply the dialog. Writing becomes more like transcribing. That part is easy.

 

I mentioned a while ago that after I published The Milk Run, I was going to circle back and record Rome’s Revolution as an audio book. However, now that the time has come, I think I am going to record The Milk Run first.

 

There are several reasons for this. First, I’ve never done it before. What if I hate it? Rome’s Revolution is 168,000 words. The Milk Run is only 90,000 words – a much easier task to conquer. Also, I don’t know what the market is for audio books so The Milk Run might be priced better because it will be fewer files.

 

So let’s say I do this. What are the voices going to be like? There are no babies, thank goodness. There are several women: Lupe, Aroline and of course Rome. There are quite a few men including Command Ursay and Rei and there is the hero, Aason Bierak. I’m going to have to come up with voices for them as well.

 

There is also a bodiless entity named Molokai who thinks he is a god. There is Sh’ev B’oush, one of the walking, talking plant people known as the K’val. And there are the computers/livetars including OMCOM, MINMCOM, Junior and even Junior, Jr.

 

Wow that’s a lot of voices. I’d better start practicing!

 

 

Entry 3-095: March 31, 2015

Holidays on other worlds

 

If we ever send people to the stars, do you think they’ll have holidays on their new world? Of course they will. But since there is zero chance that their calendar will follow ours, they will have to create their own holidays. In the link above, I did propose Universal Time but I don’t know how practical it is.

 

Take the universe of Rome’s Revolution and the little world of Deucado. Their year is something like 9 months long. They wouldn’t celebrate July 4th because they don’t have a July and there is no remembrance of the USA. Well, maybe the Essessoni remember it but that’s about it. The Vuduri, or at least the mandasurte, have a week-long holiday celebrating the end of the year. They use metric time so each week is 10 days and each month is 4 weeks. The first nine months use up 360 days. The tenth month, call Tamas, is a little slighted. In regular years, it is only 5 days long. On leap years, it is 6 days long. Their holiday is called Poor Tamas because they feel sorry for it. But that wouldn’t work on Deucado, either.

 

So what holidays would they celebrate? Certainly, there is liberation from the Overmind. It would be celebrated one Deucadon year after the showdown at the end of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. There is also Asteroid Day which was the day that Deucado was supposed to be destroyed but was saved by MINIMCOM and his VIRUS-based livetars.

 

So that’s two holidays. What about the day Rome made peace with the Falling Blankets? What about the day that Aason saved the Earth, and all of mankind, by communicating with Stareaters? That’s at least four by my count. Maybe they’ll come up with their own like the day they conquered the new Ark Lords. But whatever they are, they won’t resemble our holidays other than folks getting a chance to celebrate life with each other.

 

 

Entry 3-096: April 1, 2015

Hybrid Vigor

 

When you have a small number of mating animals and inbreed them, recessive genes eventually express themselves and the breed becomes progressively weaker. The opposite is also true. A mix of breeds, a mutt if you will, usually expresses the best traits of the parent breeds. This is known as hybrid vigor.

 

Wikipedia defines hybrid vigor as “outbreeding enhancement, resulting in the improved or increased function of any biological quality in a hybrid offspring.” I don’t know why people always use the dog analogy but they do. You often hear people expressing their fondness for mutts as opposed to the prickly nature of pure-breds.

 

This was the problem facing the Vuduri in Rome’s Revolution. The Vuduri would only inter-breed with other Vuduri and the 24th chromosome was specifically designed by MASAL to eventually reduce humans to living robots. Rome, of course, did not know this. Nobody did. But she did understand at a more fundamental level that the mandasurte and Vuduri had to inter-breed to keep the human species healthy. Here was her first mention of this to the Overmind of Deucado:

 

“Go ahead,” Rome thought in response to the Overmind’s inquiry.

“Assuming I allow the mandasurte access to technology and allow them to fly in space, do you think I should allow the two races to co-mingle?”

“Of course,” Rome said. “Why wouldn’t you?”

“I am concerned about cross-breeding.”

“Vuduri and mandasurte are the same, genetically,” Rome pointed out. “You know that. There is a far greater chance of children born connected than not.”

“That is true when a person becomes mandasurte due to environmental influence…”

“Or Cesdiud,” Rome added. She couldn’t help herself.

“Yes, of course. But what if the flaw, if you wish to consider it a flaw, is genetic? Won’t interbreeding eventually lead to a dilution of the power of the Overmind? Of me?” the Overmind asked.

“Of course not,” Rome countered. “When it comes to genetics, cross-breeding always leads to hybrid vigor. Only inbreeding leads to genetic weakness. As a species, allowing Vuduri and mandasurte to co-mingle can only make mankind stronger. You know my mother was Vuduri, my father was mandasurte. I came out all right.”

“Perhaps. However, there will not be all that many opportunities on this world in any event.”

“Why is that?” Rome asked.

“There are only about one thousand Vuduri on the entire planet currently. There are tens of thousands of mandasurte. There would not be that much chance for an intermix.”

 

Little did Rome know that on Helome, this was already becoming a problem. The static tunnel between Earth and Helome was not only a passageway but a gate designed to keep the mandasurte out. The plot of The Ark Lords culminated with the realization of this need. So… love your mutts. They have hybrid vigor!

 

 

Entry 3-097: April 2, 2015

 

The Panopticon

 

In Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, the Overmind of Deucado reveals to Rome that there were very few Vuduri on the entire planet. Somehow, they were supposed to keep tens of thousands of mandasurte imprisoned and bereft of technology. How did they accomplish this? The Overmind explained it to Rome:

 

“There are only about one thousand Vuduri on the entire planet currently. There are tens of thousands of mandasurte. There would not be that much chance for an intermix.”

“Only one thousand?” Rome expressed surprise. “You have kept the entire populace under control with such a tiny force?”

“Oh yes,” said the Overmind. “It is called a Panopticon prison. It is simply the fear of reprisal that keeps them at bay. We only had to use deadly force a few times.”

“How many mandasurte have you killed enforcing that insane no-technology policy of yours?”

“Not many,” replied the Overmind defensively. “No more than ten. The mandasurte that come to this world are told of the rules. They are Vuduri, after all. They believe that we will intervene and that is sufficient. Word of mouth is normally more than adequate to keep them in line.”

     “How do so few Vuduri keep track of so many mandasurte?” Rome asked.

“We monitor constantly for anything remotely resembling the level of sophistication we fear. We will confiscate materials. We typically do not need to resort to deadly force.”

“What forced you to kill even the ten?” Rome asked.

The Overmind did not answer her directly. “Those were very odd times, very strange,” it said, somewhat obliquely.

 

This is from Wikipedia: “The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe (opticon) all (pan) inmates of an institution without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly.”

 

So who were those strangers that the Vuduri did kill? More tomorrow. But first, here is an image of the original Panopticon as designed by Jeremy Bentham.

 

 

Entry 3-098: April 3, 2015

The Strange Mandasurte

 

Yesterday, I recounted the conversation whereupon the Overmind of Deucado explained to Rome that the Vuduri only had to resort to deadly force a few times to keep the tens of thousand of mandasurte in line. However, the book is called Rome’s Revolution for a reason. Rome is trying to argue the Overmind out of continuing its plan to imprison the mandasurte. Here is the rest of the Overmind’s description:

 

“What forced you to kill even the ten?” Rome asked.

The Overmind did not answer her directly. “Those were very odd times, very strange,” it said, somewhat obliquely.

“Why? What was strange about them?” Rome insisted.

“Our monitoring is comprehensive. It sweeps the entire globe. However, on three separate occasions, we came upon mandasurte demonstrating technology far beyond what they should have been able to accomplish. While not quite as advanced as ours, it should not have been possible for them to achieve that level of technological competence without us detecting the intermediate steps. We had to destroy them before there was any chance of the technology being shared.”

“Where were they from?” Rome asked. “Where did the technology come from?”

“We do not know,” answered the Overmind.

“Would it not have been wiser to ask them before you killed them?” Rome pointed out.

“We could not take a chance,” replied the Overmind. “Zero tolerance is zero tolerance. The mandasurte have to believe we are serious. That is why we propagated the myth of the large Vuduri contingent on the continent of Toraode. If they had realized how few Vuduri there really were, they could have overwhelmed us by sheer numbers alone.”

“So where do you think these strange mandasurte come from?” Rome asked.

“We have searched and searched and never found where they were hiding out. It has been 20 years since the last incident. Perhaps we got all of them. We just do not know. I have tried to analyze the remains upon each occasion. But our methods of destruction were too complete. The genetic material did not even resemble that of a Vuduri, mandasurte or otherwise. Where they came from is a mystery we have not solved.”

 

It isn’t a mystery for us. We already know the answer. It wasn’t the mandasurte at all. Rather, it was the few random Deucadons that the Vuduri came across. The Vuduri had created an enemy whose power and numbers they had no idea. War was coming. Rome had to find a way to stop it.

 

Entry 3-099: April 4, 2015

Oh no!

 

When I first wrote the long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, it was called VIRUS 5 and was supposed to be a standalone novel. But because of The Ark Lords effect, I had to write what is now known as Part 2. There were so many plot holes but I needed the characters and societies to act a certain way in order to drive the plot forward. I had the Overmind of Earth being a split personality and secretly sending the mandasurte to Deucado to die eventually because of an asteroid.

 

For the secret to be safe, that would mean that the Vuduri on Deucado could never leave until just before the asteroid hit. And even when they got home, the secret would be out and all the regular Vuduri would know that it was all a ruse. I just waved my hands and moved on. But later when I decided to write Part 3, the whole prison planet idea started to make sense if MASAL was in charge and the Vuduri there didn’t know it not sanctioned by the Overmind. The plot moved along fairly well at that point. But in the original version, I even had a spy (Sussen) planted among them.

 

Here is what the Overmind said:

 

“We have searched and searched and never found where they were hiding out. It has been 20 years since the last incident. Perhaps we got all of them. We just do not know. I have tried to analyze the remains upon each occasion. But our methods of destruction were too complete. The genetic material did not even resemble that of a Vuduri, mandasurte or otherwise. Where they came from is a mystery we have not solved.”

“Maybe they are just well-hidden,” Rome observed.

“Like your father and his little band of rebels?” The Overmind sounded bemused.

“What do you know about my father?” Rome gasped, first in her mind, then out loud.

“We know that he and his group are tucked away in the mountains north of Lake Eprehem. We know almost exactly where they are and what they are doing. We have had a spy among them since the beginning.”

“What do you mean a spy?” Rome asked fearfully.

“There is one of ours there. She feeds us information upon occasion,” said the Overmind cryptically.

“So if you know where they are, why have you left them alone?” Rome asked.

“Because we know the path they are blazing. They think they are developing technology. Nothing like the unexplained incidents I described earlier. In fact, what they are doing is so pitiful it is almost amusing. It would have taken them years before they come close to anything that we would need to worry about.”

“Why did you permit it at all?” Rome asked.

“Because it diverted their attention. It let them think they were doing something to improve their condition. It was such a trifling and they devoted so many resources, we considered it useful. However now we have your Ark. That we consider a problem.”

“About the Ark. Why were you going to kill us, anyway?” Rome asked. “Why did Commander Ursay and the Overmind at Skyler Base go through such effort to send us here just to have us killed?”

“Because the Overmind at Skyler Base did not know about Deucado and what it represents. It really thought it was doing the right thing. Your samanda had different priorities that me. The orders to kill you came from higher up. They came from Earth, from my parent.”

“Explain this please. Why was it so important to kill us? What did Rei and I do to you, anyway?” Rome asked.

 

You can see how hard I am tap dancing in this version to bring the elements together but really, the whole thing was preposterous. If the Overmind knew where the secret Ibbrassati base was located, why go through the charade of reconnecting Rome. It just didn’t add up.

 

Luckily, that is all in the (future) past and now the plot makes (a little bit) more sense.

 

Entry 3-100: April 5, 2015

Nothing to fear but the Essessoni, part 1

 

Yesterday, I gave you a little scene wherein the Overmind of Deucado explained to Rome why he allowed the Ibbrassati to toil away in the secret enclave to the north. Today I present to you why he changed his (over)mind:

 

“Explain this please. Why was it so important to kill us? What did Rei and I do to you, anyway?” Rome asked.

“We did not fear you. You are nothing. When you arrived here, we feared the Essessoni and their Erklirte weapons. That was why we sent up our war craft to destroy your ship. It was never about you. We just used our zero tolerance policy as disguise for our real purpose.”

“Since you know so much, once we landed, why did you not go after us then?” Rome asked, confused.

“Once they were down, I decided that if I did nothing, owing to the very nature of the Essessoni, they would come to me. This would make it easier for us to destroy them once they were out in the open.”

“And now?” Rome asked. “Do you still intend to kill them? To kill us? To kill me?”

“As I said earlier, it has never been about you. That is why we did not kill you when you and your husband came to us for help.”

“Did that not poke a hole in your zero tolerance policy? To allow us to land?”

“We knew you were coming. We did not know why. I wanted to know why.”

“And to find out exactly where the Ark was?” Rome fired back.

“As I said, I did not need to know. I was simply curious if you would tell.”

“But after I rejoined your samanda, you gave the orders to kill Rei. You would have killed Rei,” Rome thought.

“While he is mandasurte, he is also Essessoni,” countered the Overmind.

“Now that you have searched my mind, now that you see the truth, do you not realize what a mistake that would be?”

 

Tomorrow, Rome presses on, not really knowing where she was going to go. Just that she had to stop this before it starts.

 

Entry 3-101: April 6, 2015

Nothing to fear but the Essessoni, part 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you the first half of the scene in Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution where Rome is trying desperately to stop the war before it starts. Today, I give you the second half of that conversation:

 

Rome replied, “Now that you have searched my mind, now that you see the truth, do you not realize what a mistake that would be?”

“Yes. Now that I have a complete understanding, I realize Rei is actually a hero. His deeds will save us all. But we must still stop the rest of the Essessoni.”

“Why?” Rome asked.

“Because if we do not, they would take over this world.”

“So what? You have already agreed to free the mandasurte. The Essessoni could just live among them, in peace,” Rome insisted.

“It is more complicated than that,” replied the Overmind.

“What is so complicated about peace?”

“Even if I agreed, the Essessoni would never let it rest at that. They will seize the opportunity to destroy us, to destroy me, just because they can. Do not forget. These are the Erklirte who have come.”

“What if I could stop them?” Rome asked. “What if I could guarantee you that there will be no fighting, no death and no destruction? Would you still need to destroy them?”

The Overmind considered this. “Under those circumstances, no. But I am curious. Do you know a way to prevent it?”

“No. But Rei is among them. He will think of a way. He would never let them come and attack us. Not with me here.”

 

Even though this was just a preliminary version of the novel, you can see Rome working the system. She didn’t know how and she certainly didn’t know about the Deucadons but she did know that the love she shared with Rei would deliver them somehow.

 

 

Entry 3-102: April 7, 2015

The third seed of destruction, part 1

 

In the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, the Overmind of Deucado indulged Rome in an intellectual discussion. Her basic premise was that the Overmind, as currently constituted, was ultimately doomed. She told the Overmind there were three elements to this downward spiral. The first part was that the Overmind was an abomination. It was not born. It sprung to life fully formed and did not have the benefit of evolution or even parents to shape its behavior.

 

The second element was that the Overmind had to free the mandasurte. Because of the ever-present danger of the Stareaters which rendered all mind-connected Vuduri senseless, the mandasurte had to be allowed to fly into space alongside the Vuduri in case a Stareater should come along. She also wanted the Overmind to understand that there is a left brain (the Vuduri) and also a right brain (the mandasurte) which together made a whole.

 

But today, Rome decided to hit the Overmind with the third and final piece of the equation, the most devastating piece. The Overmind had to voluntarily participate in its own dismantling. Here is how she started:

 

“Very well,” thought Rome. She paused for a moment. “You will recall that I told you there were three elements.”

“The seeds of my destruction, yes, yes, of course,” replied the Overmind.

“Then you need to know. You need to know the final piece of the puzzle.”

“What puzzle is that?” asked the Overmind.

“You must not only free the mandasurte. To truly get healthy, you must free the Vuduri, too.”

“I do not understand what you mean.”

“When I first arrived here, the only sense I got from you is that you treat the Vuduri as if they were appendages. They are just your legs and fingers. They are more than that.”

“I do not agree with your observation,” protested the Overmind. It paused for a moment then asked, “Even if you are correct, why does that matter?”

“Just as you and I are speaking now, we do that because I have my own mind. You do not do the thinking for me. Look how much you have learned in such a short time, just by having one person to talk to. Imagine how much you could learn with a thousand.”

“If I free the Vuduri, if I allow them all to think for themselves, what would become of me?” asked the Overmind, with a thread of fear.

“What would become of you? Why, you would have company,” Rome said.

“I suppose that would be good. I freely admit that I am enjoying this. How did you learn to do this?” the Overmind asked. “How did you learn to disconnect at will?”

“It is very simple,” Rome replied. “It has to do with sense of self. When Vuduri are born, they are born already part of the Overmind. They do not know themselves. Since they can never break free, they never have the chance to learn who they are. Because the Overmind on Tabit cast me out, I was forced to learn who I am. And now, you cannot take that away from me. The Overmind no longer defines who I am. I do. I do not need you.”

 

The Overmind does not realize it but Rome has just launched a direct attack into its very soul. As soon as the Overmind realizes her plan, it is bound to fight back as any living organism would do.

 

More tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-103: April 8, 2015

The third seed of destruction, part 2

 

Yesterday, Rome was softening up the Overmind so that she could tell it the third and most devastating way it must change in order to survive. She told the Overmind that even though she was Vuduri and mind-connected, she no longer need the Overmind to define her being.

 

Of course, the Overmind scoffed at this:

 

“There have been others who have undergone Cesdiud. In rare instances, they have been reconnected. They have never achieved your skill.”

“But those people never had Rei,” Rome thought.

“Why Rei?” asked the Overmind. ”How does that matter?”

“He is my model. I have been in his mind and seen what it means to be alone within your head. I know him. He knows me. And we love each other. A Vuduri who is Cesdiud craves reconnection. I do not. I can take it or leave it.”

“You do not understand how dangerous you are,” said the Overmind. “If any other Vuduri were to learn how you do this, it would be the beginning of the end.”

“No,” Rome thought. “If the Vuduri would learn this, it would simply be the beginning.”

“You are playing with words,” said the Overmind.

“Hardly. I want you to admit, here and now, that this is a better way. I want you to admit that having alternate opinions is a good and healthy thing. Trying new things. It is what will let you thrive.”

“I will admit to it here and now but not forever.”

“Why is that?” Rome asked.

“There are still things you do not know. Consider this: some day, my communicants will be returning to Earth. At that time they will be reabsorbed into the samanda of Earth and I will cease to be.”

“Why do they have to go?” Rome asked. “Why not just stay here?”

“Just accept that I will. I will explain later. Just accept that in a sense, I must die.”

“It does not have to be that way,” Rome said. “Just as I retain my sense of self, should you ever return to Earth, you could retain your sense of self too. That is all the more reason why you want the Vuduri here to be strong. To have more than just one mind, one opinion. You will be unstoppable.”

 

Note the sentence in bold. How could the Overmind know it had to die? Well, the asteroid for one thing would obliterate the planet and all life upon it. So if it knows it is going to die, why would it matter how it lives its final days?

 

Rome will explain. Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-104: April 9, 2015

The third seed of destruction, part 3

 

Yesterday, we saw the Overmind admit that it knew it was doomed. Rome did not understand that the Overmind was being literal. But regardless, she pressed on trying to convince the Overmind there was another way:

 

“Knowing that I must die some day makes me sad. To continue on would make me happy. Tell me more.”

“I will do better than that. I will demonstrate for you.”

“How?”

Rome’s stomach had had enough and emitted a loud and long growl. All of this discussion had made her tired and she realized she was famished. She decided to kill two birds with one stone.

“I am hungry,” she thought. “Can you send up some food?”

“Of course,” replied the Overmind. “What would you like?”

streamed a simple set of orders to the Overmind

“I will have it brought up immediately,” it replied.

“Not by anyone,” thought Rome.

“What do you mean?”

“I want Pegus to bring it,” she thought back.

“Why?” inquired the Overmind. “Why him? What is it that you need?”

“I want to talk to him,” replied Rome. “That should be enough.”

“You can talk to him through me,” said the Overmind.

“I want his physical presence here. I am going to teach him how to disconnect.”

“NO!” said the Overmind. “This is not a wise course of action.”

“You just said you would adjust your way of thinking. That you would do things a new way,” Rome thought.

“I did but I will not allow you to kill me. I am not ready.”

“Do not be so melodramatic. That is not the point of the exercise. I will not only show him how to disconnect, I will show him how to reconnect.”

“If you teach this to him and he teaches another and they all turn off their connection at once, I will cease to be.”

“That is impractical. It would be a statistical anomaly. But even if it happened, you would not know it. You will only be aware when they are connected.”

“And why is this an advantage to me?” asked the Overmind.

 

You can see at this point the all-powerful entity has essentially given up. It is just trying to work through the mechanics. But it no longer objects to Rome’s fundamental assertion.

 

Tomorrow, the conclusion wherein Rome sets up the demonstration that is the beginning of the end of Overmind in its current form. Out of 330,000 words and three novels, this single act is at the essential core of Rome’s Revolution.

 

Entry 3-105: April 10, 2015

The third seed of destruction, part 4

 

Yesterday, the Overmind reluctantly agreed to a demonstration of the techniques that Rome hoped would eventually spread not only over Deucado, but make their way to Helome and the Earth itself. She is going to plant a seed, not of destruction, but of rebirth:

 

“And why is this an advantage to me?” asked the Overmind.

“Think about what you said to me just last night. Now you will not be lonely. You will have other minds to talk to.”

“I agree. That will be nice,” said the Overmind.

“It will be more than nice,” Rome replied forcefully. “They will all get to experience love and joy and you will able to share in that as well. You will feel joy! You will feel love.”

“And to do this, I must give them back their free will?” asked the Overmind.

“Yes, without free will, there is no love. There is no joy. There is just motion. Joy is to be shared, not owned. Without joy, what is the point of being human? What you have now is the worst of all worlds. If you wanted to stay this way, you might as well go back and merge with an OMCOM and their ilk. You would become MASAL.”

“No!” shouted the Overmind. Then it calmed down. “From your perspective, this all makes sense. But can all of this truly be in the best interest of mankind? Will not so much autonomy lead to divergence? To subterfuge?”

“No. Not if the Vuduri do not want it. Remember, you are consensus. Not control. You and the other Overminds have lost sight of that. The Overmind should be of the Vuduri, by the Vuduri and for the Vuduri. Not the other way around. You must evolve. You must serve them, they do not serve you,” thought Rome. Now do you understand?”

“Yes,” replied the Overmind.

“So is it still something you fear?”

“Yes. But what choice do I have? I will participate in your experiment.”

“Then send up Pegus, please.”

“Very well,” said the Overmind. With that, Rome severed the connection and sat back in her bed to relax.

 

Rome’s Revolution is about to begin!

 

Entry 3-106: April 11, 2015

The Overmind as government

 

Yesterday, I presented Rome’s passionate speech to the Overmind of Deucado about why the Vuduri had to be liberated.

 

When I first wrote that speech, I found it so stirring but for reasons which seemed emotional, not logical. After I thought about it for a while, I realized that the Overmind was actually an allegory for government. And that the Overmind was running the planet like a dictatorship. That meant Rome’s speech was actually her own Declaration of Independence.

 

So I went back and tweaked the speech just a little, giving a little wink to this very concept. Here is what Rome said, “The Overmind should be of the Vuduri, by the Vuduri and for the Vuduri. Not the other way around. You must evolve. You must serve them, they do not serve you.”

 

I am hoping that readers of the entire Rome’s Revolution got this reference. I think it’s funny but then the whole concept really does ring true. It was during this speech that I realized I had to change the title of the novels from VIRUS 5 to Rome’s Revolution. So does this make Rome the founding mother of the new Vuduri Republic?

 

 

Entry 3-107: April 12, 2015

The revolution begins, part 1

 

Yesterday, I showed you Rome’s impassioned speech about how the Overmind must free the Vuduri. To her surprise, the Overmind reluctantly agreed. The first step toward their liberation was to allow Rome to manipulate Pegus into disconnecting. Pegus is blissfully unaware but Rome’s actions will fundamentally change Vuduri society forever. The leader of all the Vuduri on Deucado pops in, thinking he is just delivering lunch:

 

After a short while, the grey-haired man appeared carrying a tray with some covered plates on it. He was certainly aware that Rome was no longer connected so he spoke to her in Vuduri.

“Why did you want to see me?” he asked. “The Overmind does not tell me.”

Rome got up and walked over and sat down on the couch.

“Come over here and sit by me,” Rome said.

“Very well.” He came over and sat down next to her on the couch, unsure as to what was coming next. He moved the vase of flowers to the side and set the tray of food down on the little table. Rome looked into his eyes. They had the diffused focus of all who participate in the Overmind.

Rome reconnected to the Overmind in a way that Pegus could not detect. “Release him,” she commanded.

“Cesdiud?” asked the Overmind. “You want him removed permanently?”

“No,” Rome thought, “just for a short while. You may have him back when I am done with him.”

“What are you going to do?” asked the Overmind.

“I already told you. I am going to talk to him,” replied Rome.

“Very well,” said the Overmind. Again, Rome cut the connection.

Rome stared intently at Pegus’ face, waiting for a change to occur. Pegus stared back benignly then his eyes started darting left and right. His brow furrowed. He started blinking rapidly.

“What?” he said. He put his hands to his head. “What is happening? Where is the Overmind?” he said in a panic.

“Leaving us alone,” Rome said.

“Cesdiud?” he shouted, starting to rise. “No! What have you done to me?”

Rome leaned over and grabbed his wrist.

“Relax and sit,” Rome said. “It is just temporary. You will be reconnected shortly.”

“Why have you done this to me?” Pegus said with fear in his voice.

Rome yanked on his wrist and caused him to sit back down on the couch.

“Because I wanted to talk to you,” she said, “not the Overmind.”

“This is horrible,” he said. “I am afraid.”

 

He’d better be afraid. He is literally sailing uncharted seas. He should fight but he has both Rome and the Overmind in agreement over his treatment. He doesn’t stand a chance. Soon the sheep will be sheep no more.

 

Entry 3-108: April 13, 2015

The revolution begins, part 2

 

Yesterday, we saw that Rome talked the Overmind into temporarily disconnecting Pegus, the leader of the Vuduri on Deucado. You will recall that Rome was very upset the first time it happened to her. It was traumatic for Rei, who loved her very much, as well. And now Pegus. Right after it happens, he is none too pleased.

 

“This is horrible,” he said. “I am afraid.”

“I understand your fear,” Rome said kindly. “I was once like you. The first time I became Cesdiud, I was so distraught, I could not function. But after a time, I learned to accept it and later to embrace it.”

“No,” said Pegus. “I could never live this way. I need to be connected. You could have spoken to me connected.”

“No, if you were connected, I would be speaking to the Overmind. I wanted to talk to Pegus, the man. Without interference.”

“It is not interference,” Pegus gasped. “I need the Overmind. Without it, what am I to think?”

“That is exactly the point,” Rome said. “I want you to think for yourself, just for a bit.”

“Why?” Pegus asked in a panic. “Why do I need to think for myself?”

“Because the Overmind is ill. This is the only way to save it.”

“I do not understand,” Pegus replied, breathing heavily.

“You know how the mandasurte are being treated. Slaughtered if need be. Do you think that is right?” Rome asked.

“Of course not,” Pegus said, “but it was the will of the Overmind. Who am I to think otherwise?”

“Exactly,” Rome said. “You think otherwise. The Overmind needs to hear your thoughts, your opinions. Without them, the Overmind grows stupid and blind. On Earth, it must have run amuck to think that it could make this world into a prison.”

“Why would the Overmind listen to me? Who am I?” Pegus asked pitifully.

“You are Pegus, the man,” Rome replied.

“I am nothing without the Overmind, I am just a body, a shell.”

“You are wrong and I can prove it,” Rome said.

“How?”

Rome pushed up his sleeve. Around his forearm was a thin red thread.

“No!” said Pegus.

“Yes, your Yatori,” said Rome.

“We are not to speak of this,” Pegus said.

Rome released his wrist and pulled up her pant leg. Pegus looked down and saw her ankle bracelet. As soon as he realized he was staring, he turned his eyes away.

 

In a previous article, I told you about the Yatori, a Vuduri item of clothing or adornment. Rome wore a silver bracelet around her ankle. Pegus had a thin red thread. The Yatori is a mental device used by the Vuduri to prove that once and for all, they have surrendered their individuality and allowed the Overmind to literally tell them what they can and cannot see.

 

Entry 3-109: April 14, 2015

The revolution begins, part 3

 

Yesterday, Rome not only had Pegus, the leader of the Vuduri on Deucado, temporarily disconnected from the Overmind, she also made him look and see her Yatori, her ankle bracelet. The very fact that the Vuduri were never to see or acknowledge another’s Yatori was a sign of ultimate obedience. This was something Rome was determined to change:

 

“But why?” Pegus said. “It is to be kept hidden. Even from one’s own mind.”

“Yes,” Rome said. “I know this. Haven’t you ever wondered why we keep this hidden, even from ourselves?”

“No,” Pegus said. “It is just the way it is. That is the way it should be.”

“We keep it hidden,” Rome said, “because we all need something that is for ourselves. Something that we do not share with the Overmind. We keep it hidden in our hearts but the feelings are there. We need them.”

“Feelings?” Pegus said with a hint of disgust. “They serve no purpose.”

“That is just what the Overmind says.” Rome leaned over. “Do you feel this?” Rome said, holding his wrist up. She curled her hand around his and squeezed it. “How does that feel? To have another human touch you?”

“It feels, it feels nice,” Pegus said, staring down at her hand. “Yes, it is nice.”

“That is something that the Overmind has lost, that humans have lost. Without our own mind, we cannot feel. The Overmind needs to feel. To know what it is to be human. It has grown amoral. A war was fought between humans and MASAL and all the computers, because MASAL could not feel. Now the Overmind is the same as the computers. It no longer cares about the individual, only itself.”

“Even if I agreed with you, how can I do anything about it? I am just one man,” said Pegus.

“It only takes one,” said Rome. “A teacher. The rest will learn. This Overmind will become healthy again. It wants to be healthy again. It has told me so. You will lead it. You will go back to being human.”

“You said you would reconnect me again,” said Pegus. “As soon as I am back in, will not my thoughts become those of the Overmind again?”

“It does not have to be that way,” said Rome. She squeezed Pegus’ hand harder and harder until he winced. “Remember this. Remember to feel. Remember that you are Pegus. You keep a part of you for yourself. The Overmind becomes your neighbor, not your owner.”

“I do not think I can do this,” said Pegus. “I am afraid.”

 

Like a quivering rabbit, all Pegus wants to do is to go scurrying back to the safety of allowing the Overmind to think for him. He wants to be a living robot. After all, this was MASAL’s very plan when he deployed the 24th chromosome. But Rome has other ideas. Tomorrow, she begins putting her final stamp on the act.

 

Entry 3-110: April 15, 2015

The revolution begins, part 4

 

Yesterday, Pegus got to experience, for the first time, what it would like to be an individual, not one of the Overmind’s minions. At first, he really was not interested:

 

“I do not think I can do this,” said Pegus. “I am afraid.”

“Do not be afraid,” said Rome. “You are not losing anything. You are finding something. I did it. You can do it too.”

“You are different,” said Pegus. “You are unlike any Vuduri that has ever lived.”

“You are wrong,” she said. “I am just like my mother.”

“Your mother was this way?”

“Yes. And where there is one, there must be others. But I think they have been hiding in fear. Maybe fear of retribution, for keeping their own mind. But here, on this world, we are going to do it a new way. This will be a world of joy, for all, for mandasurte, for Vuduri, for Essessoni, for all.”

“For the Essessoni?” Pegus offered. “You mean your husband.”

“No,” said Rome. “For all the Essessoni. The ones from Rei’s Ark.”

“The Ark? You said it was destroyed!” Pegus said. “You said all the Essessoni died.”

“I lied,” Rome said.

“Then everything is lost,” said Pegus. “The Erklirte have returned. It will be the end of all of us!”

“No, you said my husband is Essessoni. He is a good and remarkable man. The ones like him, they will make our world a better place.”

“Does the Overmind know about this?” Pegus asked fearfully.

“Yes,” Rome said.

“How could I not know this? How could the Overmind keep this a secret? We have someone there who should have warned us. We must destroy them before they destroy us. Surely the Overmind would insist on this.”

“No, we have made our peace, the Overmind and I. No one is going to be destroyed. And making peace with the Essessoni, that part will all work out as well, somehow. It is what comes after that is important. And that is where you come in. You will have to lead the way.”

“Me? Why me? Why not you?” Pegus asked.

 

Rome does not want to lead the revolution. She just wants to start it. She wants all the world and all humans to experience the joy she has found in individuality. Tomorrow, she charts a new path for Pegus.

 

Entry 3-111: April 16, 2015

The revolution begins, part 5

 

Yesterday, Rome explained to Pegus that she did not want to lead the revolution. Today she explains why:

 

“I am going to go be with my husband. And my baby. We have our lives to live too,” Rome said.

“How do I do this?” Pegus asked, releasing Rome’s hand. He put his hands to his temples and massaged them a bit.

“I will instruct the Overmind to connect to you. You must keep Pegus in control. Keep a part of you separate. Think of it as a wall. Put the part of you that is Pegus behind that wall. The rest can connect.”

“How do I build this wall?” Pegus asked.

“It is a wall of feelings. Those are the building blocks. Just remember. Remember to feel. The rest is easy.”

“Nothing is easy with you,” said Pegus, sighing. “But I am ready to try.”

“All right,” Rome said. She opened her connection to the Overmind and informed it that it was time.

Pegus’ eyes became defocused, then alert. He looked at Rome. Then he smiled.

“Is it you?” Rome asked.

“Yes, it is me,” said Pegus. “I am here. I am with the Overmind but I am still here.”

“Very good,” Rome said. “Now, disconnect.”

“What?” Pegus asked. Rome was not sure if that was the Overmind or Pegus protesting.

“Not permanently. Just as a test. You can reconnect back right away.”

“How do I do this?” asked Pegus. Now Rome was sure it was Pegus speaking.

“You just take more of Pegus and put it behind the wall. That way, there is less of the Overmind. You just do this until the Overmind is gone.”

“Gone?” Pegus said.

“I already explained. It is not permanent. You know how to make the connection large. That was your life before. Use the wall. Take the connection and make it so small that it is no more.”

Pegus closed his eyes then opened them again. “I am Cesdiud,” he said, smiling.

“No, not Cesdiud,” Rome replied. “Disconnected. Go ahead and reconnect.”

Pegus nodded once and it was done.

“Very good,” Rome said. “You have done well.”

Rome opened her connection to the Overmind.

“You see, that was not painful, was it?” she asked in her mind.

“No, I can tolerate this,” thought the Overmind.

“So can I,” thought Pegus.

“I think this is what Rei would call a party,” Rome thought.

 

And so it is that Rome set Pegus on a path that would eventually lead to the liberation of all the Vuduri on Deucado. But what about Earth? Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-112: April 17, 2015

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Rome’s Revolution

 

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 3-113: April 18, 2015

The Laniakea Supercluster

 

I attended a meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society the other night. The guest speaker was literally the second most famous science fiction writer I had ever seen in person. His name is Samuel R. Delaney and if you haven’t heard of him, you should have. He wrote science fiction back when the field was not as crowded and there was room to become a superstar. He achieved that status and deservedly so. His most famous novel, Dhalgren, was first published in 1975 and I still remember parts of it to this day.

 

Mr. Delaney’s talk was fascinating but the reason I bring it up is because he mentioned something that I had never heard of, the Laniakea Supercluster.

 

What is a supercluster? It is an accumulation of stars so vast, you have to build up to comprehension before you can absorb its meaning. Let’s see if we can step up to it. We live on the Earth which orbits Sol, the Sun. Our solar system is part of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is part of a cluster of galaxies called the Virgo Supercluster. Scientists used to think that was it. But late last year, astronomers discovered that the Virgo Supercluster was just an appendage to something even larger. They call it the Laniakea Supercluster which means “immeasurable heaven” in Hawaiian. It stretches over 160 megaparsecs (520 million light-years). It is so titanic that it exerts the same gravitational pull as 10 to the 17th solar masses, or a hundred thousand times that of our Galaxy.

 

Here is a screen cap of a video showing how scientists mapped this out:

 

If you want to read more about it, here is an article that gives a good synopsis of the techniques used to map this out. If you dare, you can also read the original article but it is rigorously technical. The bottom line is that this thing is so big, it takes up a measurable part of the universe. And there are other superclusters just as large! The whole thing is mind-blowing.

 

P.S. The most famous science fiction writer I ever go to see (and meet) was Arthur C. Clarke who spoke when I was attending the University of Michigan. I remained after the lecture and actually got to speak to him briefly!

 

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 3-115: April 20, 2015

The turning point

 

Every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. There are sound reasons why plays are three acts. Every superhero origin is discovery, learning your powers, solving the crisis. There are reasons why trilogies are trilogies and far fewer tetralogies or pentologies. Obviously, a single novel has no need of a special name. But when it becomes part of a series, it needs a name. Here are the names of the various groupings, or at least according to Wikipedia:

 

  1. Name

2 Duology

3 Trilogy

4 Tetralogy (sometimes Quadrilogy)

5 Pentalogy

6 Hexalogy

7 Heptalogy

8 Octalogy

9 Ennealogy (when completed, Star Wars will be a trilogy of trilogies)

10 Decalogy

 

What is the point of all this rambling? It is that buried within every novel, every three act play, every trilogy, before the climax, I believe there is a turning point.

 

The turning point is when the various forces coalesce to change the protagonist or hero and point them in the proper direction. It may take another thousand pages but you can draw a line back from the climax, forward from the origin and they meet at the turning point. At least that’s my definition. A lot of writers would disagree. Classic literature refers to Freytag’s Triangle or Pyramid. It looks like this:

This diagram is only representational. The number of pages devoted to falling action and denouement might only be 5 pages. The rising action portion may basically the whole novel. But I put an arrow in to show what I think is the turning point.

 

Three days ago, I posted the final portion of the middle section of Rome’s Revolution where Rome gained the cooperation of Pegus and the Overmind of Deucado to begin liberating the Vuduri. To me, this is the turning point of the entire novel. While it is true that in the original long-form version, called VIRUS 5, it took another 160,000 words to conclude things, this singular act was the turning point of all of human civilization in the 35th century. It was the dawn of Rome’s Revolution .

 

Entry 3-116: April 21, 2015

The purpose of life

 

I’m not talking about the meaning of life, that’s a discussion for another day. I’m talking about the purpose of life. And not just human beings. Why does life even exist in the first place? Does it even need to have a purpose?

 

I got my inspiration from a novel entitled Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. This is a science fiction book about a mysterious race of creatures called the Overlords who have been sent to shepherd mankind into the next phase of existence and evolve to become part of the Overmind. Huh, I wonder if that’s where I got the term.

 

While there is certainly a lot of overlap at the most fundamental level, I don’t think I copied it from this. It is what I truly believe. I think there is a purpose for life. And while I don’t know what the entity is waiting up there for us, I think that is the goal of all life, to transcend the corporeal form and become part of the greater, the eternal.

 

Here is (Hanry Ta Jihn) Jack Henry’s take on it from the latter part of The Milk Run:

 

The helpful man looked at Aason thoughtfully. “Do you understand the purpose of life?”

Aason shook his head. “I didn’t know there was a purpose of life.”

“Of course there is. Surely you didn’t think life was merely a random series of births and deaths. Evolution just there to amuse itself?”

Aason shook his head.

The man opened his arms wide, trying to indicate the vast expanse of the land before them. “Since the beginning of time, men, and other creatures, have asked themselves the purpose of life. While each culture may have different specific goals and priorities, the purpose of life itself is and always has been to achieve a mass-mind that can transcend the physical body and remain self-aware. This has happened countless times in the past, both in our galaxy and uncounted others throughout the universe.” The man pointed straight up. “Up there is the place is where they all go once they achieve that state. Your mother’s people, the Vuduri were headed down that path.” The man shook his finger at MASAL. “Their Overmind is merely a detour. Eventually, humans will achieve an Over-mankind and rise up to take their rightful place among the gods above without fear of dilution or absorption.”

 

Does this seem comforting to you? Dismaying? All I know is I still have to go to work and earn money to pay the mortgage. I’ll leave life to achieve its purpose down the road or at least past the weekend.

 

Entry 3-117: April 22, 2015

The meaning of life

 

Yesterday, I discuss the purpose of life briefly. Today’s topic is the meaning of life which quite a different subject altogether. While the purpose of life is common from bacteria through trees and worms and monkeys and man, the meaning of life is much more personal. The meaning of each person’s life is up to them.

 

At the end of The Milk Run, OMCOM, a very powerful computer, was proposing to Rome that she sacrifice her life and her children and grand-children’s lives in pursuit of an unobtainable goal. Rome simply said no. Here is that brief exchange:

 

OMCOM lowered himself to his knees. He took Rome’s hand and bent his forehead toward it, touching it gently. “Mother,” he whispered. “We must do this so that your life and the lives of your children are not in vain.”

“Our lives are not in vain,” Rome said lovingly. She pulled on OMCOM’s hand so that he stood up. She looked into his eye slits. “It is a matter of perspective. The purpose of life lies within life itself. The purpose of life is to evolve into a mass-mind and then have that mass consciousness transcend into Heaven. At least that is how Aason told us the residents up there view it.”

“That is correct. They view life in general from a species perspective. It is the sole purpose of evolution.”

“But what you are missing is the meaning of life.”

OMCOM cocked his head. “I do not understand. What is the difference?”

“The meaning of life lies within the individual. How each being lives his or her own life determines its value. What you are asking us to do negates that therefore we must refuse.”

“What is the meaning of your life? Or of Rei’s for that matter?”

Rome smiled and looked over at Rei. “The meaning of my life, of Rei’s life, of our children’s lives, is to live, to love and to be loyal. That’s all. And that’s enough.”

“That cannot be all there is,” OMCOM protested weakly. “You have to consider the greater good.”

“No we don’t,” Rome said firmly. “Our lives are short and all we can wish for our children and our grandchildren and all their successors is to live good lives as well.”

So that’s what we get after four books and several hundred thousand words, the nitty gritty. What you do with your life is up to you and the meaning of your life is up to you. You can live it according to the standards of others if that pleases you. You can live your own standards. If you live a life and fulfill your goals, then your life will have had meaning. If you are always wishing that things were different, your life is passing you by and at the end, you’ll look back and have regrets.

 

So that’s why I keep writing. It is what I want to do. It makes me happy. And if I’m very lucky, it makes your life better, too. So if you haven’t read it, go get Rome’s Revolution right now and read it and see if you don’t share some of the same ideals and dreams of Rome, Rei and all the inhabitants of the 35th century.

 

Entry 3-118: April 23, 2015

Every girl needs a starship, part 1

 

A while back, I wrote an article about Lupe Bierak’s personal starship whose name was Fury. I claimed it was part of the back story of the new novel The Milk Run. Here is how I presented it:

 

In preparing the back stories for the upcoming novel The Milk Run, I decided that Lupe Bierak (Rome and Rei’s daughter) was going to get a starship of her own. In the outline that I worked up, MINIMCOM gave “birth” to another spaceship when Lupe was about 12 years old. However, from the day she was born, Fury (the name of Lupe’s starship) was clearly a female.

It wasn’t just that she was pink and curvy. It was also reflected by her design and her attitude. Whereas MINIMCOM and Junior (as he grew up) were more traditional transports, Fury was more of a flyer. She wasn’t really built for hauling large quantities of items or people. She was just designed to get Lupe to places fast.

Lupe’s primary skill set and what she was trained for was first contact. She was trained to get into the minds of aliens and communicate with them before anything could get out of hand. So Fury did not need armaments or cargo capacity. She was just an advanced shuttle.

Her livetar was also bright pink and very feminine shaped. Her voice was higher pitched than Junior’s. However, think about her name. Fury. That should tell you something. She isn’t one to trifle with, especially when it comes to Lupe’s well-being.

 

Even though I had the best of intentions, that whole backstory got dropped because it really had no place in the story. But I still can’t move past the fact that I want Lupe to have her own starship. Rome, Rei and MINIMCOM are one team. Aason, Aroline and Junior are another. Lupe really does need her own starship.

 

What for you ask? Someday I will write a book about The Shell War and the only two scenes I have outlined are Rory Bierak meeting up with Sh’ev B’oush’s son, B’shev along with the two boys being hotly pursued by angry aliens and being rescued by Fury’s livetar. So at some point, Lupe must get her own starship.

 

So over the next few days, I’ll give you retooled origin over how Fury came to be. It’ll probably change but it’s a place to start.

 

Entry 3-119: April 24, 2015

Every girl needs a starship, part 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you the rationale behind why I need to give Lupe her own starship. Today I will give you the first portion of the day Fury was “conceived” although when it comes to starships, the conception is one of an idea rather than impregnation. Let’s say that the time frame of this little vignette is six months after Lupe was rescued by Aason in The Milk Run.

 

Onclare MINIMCOM, can you hear me?” Lupe called out mentally.

I hear you,” replied the starship that was once an auto-pilot computer.

Can I meet you somewhere?” the now seventeen-year-old girl asked.

Is there something wrong? Are you in any danger?” MINIMCOM replied with a small amount of worry in his tinny voice.

No, everything is fine. I just want to talk to you.”

Very well. I am currently out past the orbit of Mockay. It will take me a short while to get back down to the surface. Where would you like to meet?”

I’ll go to your landing strip, next to my Mom’s library. OK?”

That is fine. I will see you fairly soon,” replied the spaceship.

 

Reentering the atmosphere of Deucado, or any planet for that matter, was one of MINIMCOM’s favorite things to do. Regardless of whether he entered into orbit or sped up pointing directly toward the surface, he would project a very short range PPT tunnel which opened up just above the surface. The warm planetary atmosphere, filled with moisture, would come rushing out of the hole, coating his airframe briefly with an ever-growing layer of ice. MINIMCOM always let a thin shell form for just a second then he heated his external surface to burn it off. He would pop through the tunnel, emerging only a few hundred meters above the surface with nearly no forward momentum.

To make sure no one on the ground was hurt during this daredevil act, MINIMCOM selected an area of the planet that was not likely to be inhabited. On Deucado, that usually meant appearing over the quiet waters of Lake Eprehem. To someone on the ground, or in this case in a boat, it was sight to behold. A waterspout would suddenly appear out of nowhere and disappear into a black hole in the sky. Just as suddenly, the waterspout would die away and in its place would be MINIMCOM’s jet black bulk leveling out. Partly for dramatic effect, MINIMCOM would fire off his plasma thrusters and accelerate to just under Mach 1 in whatever direction he was headed.

 

Tomorrow, the meet up.

 

Entry 3-120: April 25, 2015

Every girl needs a starship, part 3

 

Yesterday, Lupe had requested a meeting with her Onclare MINIMCOM, the starship that was once an auto-pilot computer. MINIMCOM agrees to meet her on the campus of the University of Deucado which had started out as Rome’s Library of Life at the end of the novel The Ark Lords:

 

Partly for dramatic effect, MINIMCOM would fire off his plasma thrusters and accelerate to just under Mach 1 in whatever direction he was headed. In this case, it was the campus of the University of Deucado, which started out simply as Rome’s Library of Life but quickly grew into the cultural and academic center of the fledging civilization. As it housed all of the accumulated novels and movies from the Essessoni culture, it was also the entertainment capital of the world.

When MINIMCOM first help Rome construct the campus, he built himself a private landing strip, just on the outskirts of the central portion. While the campus itself extended and grew all around it, the proprietors of the University elected to leave the landing strip in place although it was no longer private to MINIMCOM.

The all-black starship came over the hill and examined the campus below. The landing strip was fairly deserted this day. MINIMCOM spotted Lupe standing at the southwest corner waving to him. Giving her a wide berth, he settled down gently facing away from her and opened his cargo door and extended the cargo ramp for Lupe to enter.

The young girl dashed across the across the lot and up the ramp. She passed by the spacious cargo compartment and pressed the stud to open the airlock which served as the entrance to the cockpit. Once inside, she decided to take her place in the pilot’s seat, not that MINIMCOM ever needed a pilot.

“Would you like to address me this way or would you prefer a livetar?” MINIMCOM’s voice issued from the grille mounted in the center of the instrumentation console.

“A livetar would be nice,” Lupe said, “so I could look at you.”

“Very well.”

With a gloppy slurp, a portion of the interior wall of the cargo compartment slid to the floor and quickly formed itself into an all-black livetar which was really nothing more than a VIRUS-unit based ambulatory shell. The livetar made its way to the front and entered the cockpit. Before he could get very far, Lupe jumped up and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing him as hard as she could.

 

Tomorrow, Lupe makes her request.

 

Entry 3-121: April 26, 2015

Every girl needs a starship, part 4

 

Yesterday, Lupe came on-board MINIMCOM’s transport and made her way to the cockpit where she was joined by one of MINIMCOM’s livetars. She gathered up all of her courage to make her request.

 

“Oh, Onclare, I’ve missed you,” she said.

MINIMCOM was used to human emotions and he was very fond of Lupe so he hugged her back being cautious so as to not crush the girl.

When she was done, he carefully separated them and had her sit back in the pilot’s chair, spinning it around so it faced the rear of the compartment. He kneeled down so that he was eye level with her.

“So what is this all about?” he asked.

Lupe took a deep breath. “I’m not sure how to say this,” she replied.

“Try.”

“Well, I know that you are my Onclare and you and my Mom and my Dad have your adventures together. And Junior, I love him but he and Aason and Aroline spend a lot of time together. Without me. I get lonely sometimes. I’m supposed be learning how to make first contact but I have no way to get there.”

MINIMCOM’s livetar nodded. “You want a starship of your own,” he said knowingly.

Lupe shrugged. “Is it too much?” she asked sheepishly. “Am I being selfish?”

MINIMCOM made a sound which resembled a chuckle. “Not at all. I have been thinking about having another child for a while now. I just was not sure about giving birth and having this next one be lonely as you say you have been. It appears that you and I have computed the exact same solution.”

“Then you’ll do it?” Lupe asked excitedly.

“Yes, I will do it,” MINIMCOM said.

Lupe jumped up and wrapped her arms around the livetar’s neck, squeezing even tighter than before. “Thank you, thank you,” she said.

“However, I will need to pose this to your parents first,” MINIMCOM pointed out. “I would not want to go doing this behind their back.”

“I’m sure they won’t mind,” Lupe said. “I’m old enough now. Aason and Junior have been friends since Aason was only two years old.”

Nevertheless, you and I will ask them together, first.”

“OK,” Lupe said.

 

What do you think? Nothing but trouble? We shall see.

 

 

Entry 3-122: April 27, 2015

Starship Reproduction, part 1

 

The word conception or the act of conceiving has a variety of meanings. Most people think of it in relation to pregnancy first. Some people think of an idea that is rendered into a form that other people can visualize. It can also relate to a single idea or the beginning of a process which dovetails nicely into the definition of making a baby.

 

The most common use, reproduction, any higher order Earth-bound animal species can accomplish. But the second is uniquely human. Taking ideas or inspiration from disparate forms and combining them into a completely novel form.

 

Yesterday, I gave you my conception of the starship MINIMCOM’s idea of conception in the reproductive sense. I didn’t spend much time describing the details. In fact, in the novel The Ark Lords, MINIMCOM dismissed the hows and wherefores in a single sentence. Here was the starship’s exchange with Rei regarding the subject:

 

First OMCOM’s livetar vanished then before their eyes the all-white ship shimmered and disappeared. In its place was a smaller, gray ship that looked like a miniature version of MINIMCOM. It was approximately the length of the original space tug before it became MINIMCOM.

“What is that?” Rome asked, pointing at the smaller spaceship.

The mouth slit of MINIMCOM’s livetar curled upward into a smile.

“I had to do something with the mass I gave up,” said the all-black livetar. He nodded and suddenly a small gray livetar, barely two feet tall, appeared beside him. The eye holes and mouth hole were round instead of the normal slits. “I would like you to meet MINIMCOM Junior,” MINIMCOM said proudly.

Rei started laughing. “You gave birth? You’re a mother?”

“Although I do not have a gender, I would prefer to think of myself as a father.”

 

So what is this? What did MINIMCOM do? There are actually four possibilities.

 

The first is parthenogenesis. This is an actual egg developing into a living being without being fertilized. Kind of an immaculate conception. It’s not so odd. Spiders and bees can do it. So can some species of fish, amphibians, birds, and reptiles. Only mammals cannot. There was no egg so this method does not apply.

 

The second possibility is that MINIMCOM generated a clone. Cloning is where you take a cell from an adult animal and introduce DNA and coax the cell into developing it into a full-grown organism. But neither of these are actually how MINIMCOM had a baby. More on that tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-123: April 28, 2015

Starship Reproduction, part 2

 

Yesterday, I started the discussion on how MINIMCOM reproduced or produced a child. I mentioned parthenogenesis where an actual egg develops into a living being without being fertilized. The second method I mentioned was cloning where a cell from an adult animal is coaxed into developing into a full-grown organism. However, neither of these really relates to how MINIMCOM begat Junior and later Fury.

 

To understand the actual mechanism used, it is closer to one borrowed from planarians, which are tiny freshwater flatworms. Everyone has heard this story. You cut a flatworm in half (actually as much as 1/300th of its original mass) and it will grow back into two functional animals. This is because this animal has a boatload of stem cells called cNeoblasts floating around so it can rebuild any part of its body it required.

 

 

Some animals use this ability to actually reproduce, not just heal. This method called budding. Budding is seen in some multi-cellular animals such as corals, some sponges, some acoel flatworms and echinoderm larvae, according to Wikipedia.

 

So, in the end, the way that MINIMCOM gives “birth” is more like a coral than a flatworm. He buds. He actually apportions a ratio of each element, roughly a 3:1 ratio until the resulting bud is a miniature replica of himself. Most of his memories and all of his capabilities are built into the bud so that when it is “born” it is fully functional.

 

At that point, his child (think Junior) begins to develop their own personality. They can acquire more mass (like Junior did in The Milk Run) and eventually become their own, unique, adult starship.

 

Incidentally, this budding method of reproduction is exactly the same as used by the Stareaters first introduced in Rome’s Revolution.

 

Entry 3-124: April 29, 2015

List of aliens, updated

 

My list of aliens and strange animals is growing slowly but surely. These animals and entities have been introduced in Rome’s Revolution, mentioned multiple times in The Ark Lords and Rome’s Evolution and more were brought to the table in The Milk Run. What’s kind of neat is that I actually have some pictures of a lot of them:

 

Batwolves (Helome)

Lurkers (Helome)

Piranha Rats (Helome)

The Blankets (Deucado)

Swishies (Deucado)

Ice-Saberoos (Hades)

The K’val (Ay’den)

The crystal creatures (Ay’den)

Molokai, the fallen god (Ay’den, Heaven)

The Stareaters (Milky Way)

MASAL (Earth, Heaven)

Planet OMCOM (Tabit)

 

I had fun making these up. I think I’ll invent some more in the next book. Meanwhile, watch out for these guys. They may not be mean but they sure can kill you:

 

 

Entry 3-125: April 30, 2015

Edgar Mullen, Frenemy

 

In the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was still the three-part VIRUS 5, I had introduced the character of Edgar Mullen. Rei came across him right after he had made his way back to the secret Ibbrassati enclave to the north. After Rei re-entered The Cathedral, he encountered a large number of his crew, still recuperating from being revived from cryo-hibernation. One of these people was Edgar Mullen. You can see from this interaction that Rei was friendly with him:

 

Rei saw two men that he knew. He walked over to one of them, Edgar Mullen and kneeled down beside him.

“Hey Edgar,” he said.

“Hey, Rei,” Edgar replied. “Where were you?”

Rei sighed. “Out there,” he said, pointing over his shoulder. “How are you doing?”

“My back is killing me,” Edgar said.

“Yeah,” Rei answered. “That happens a lot. Did everybody make it?”

Edgar looked down. “No,” he said. “Some of the caskets in the front got cracked.”

“Where?” Rei asked, looking around.

“They moved them to the back,” Edgar said. “And Keller was looking for you.”

 

However, once I made the decision to crush the three novels down into one, I had already roughed out the plot to The Ark Lords and I knew I wanted Edgar to be a very coarse, brutish man. So I changed the scene in the modern version to Rei encountering Bonnie Mullen, instead:

 

Rei saw two people that he knew. He walked over to one of them, Bonnie Mullen, and kneeled down beside her.

“Hey, Bonnie,” he said.

“Hey, Rei,” Bonnie replied, smiling weakly. “Where were you?”

Rei sighed. “Out there,” he said, pointing over his shoulder. “How are you doing?”

“My back is killing me,” Bonnie said, grimacing.

“Yeah,” Rei answered. “That happens a lot. Did you get a pill?”

“Yeah, some old guy gave me one.”

“It’ll help soon. Did everybody make it?”

Bonnie looked down. “Almost everybody,” she said. “Some of the caskets in the front of the ship got cracked, a couple got punctured by micrometeorites.”

“Oh,” Rei said sadly.

“I think Keller has been looking for you.”

 

Subtle or what? You’d never know how important that difference made to the plot of The Ark Lords.

 

Entry 3-126: May 1, 2015

Explode in space?

 

What would happen if you were exposed to the cold and vacuum of space without an intact spacesuit? Most movies would have you think that you would explode because the pressure inside your body would cause your tissues to rapidly expand.

 

However (and don’t try this at home), you would not explode. You’d die, of course. But you wouldn’t explode. The fact of the matter is, the gasses in your bloodstream or any other tissues would expand and you’d definitely swell up, maybe even to twice your size, but your skin would keep everything in. And your blood would not boil as Hollywood would have you believe.

 

If you were in protective outerwear, you might not even swell up that much. You’d still be dead but at least you’d resemble a human being. Eventually, you would freeze because space is so cold but even at those lower temperatures, you would eventually lose all the fluids in your body using a process called sublimation. This is where a solid turns into a gas directly without going through a liquid phase.

 

What would be left would be pretty ghastly looking. Sort of mummified. Here is how they appeared to Rei:

 

Rei worked his way to the back of the center section, waving to a few other people that he knew. When he got to the entry to the catacombs, he stopped and looked inside one of the especially hardened sarcophagi from the front of the Ark. The remains of the occupant were still in there. A sizeable crack had caused the rehydration fluid to sublimate out and the vacuum of space mummified the person inside. It was just a pile of skin, bone and jerky, barely revealing the fact that the remains were once human.

 

Aason Bierak came across similar remains in the novel, The Milk Run. Not a pleasant sight.

 

 

Entry 3-127: May 2, 2015

Head spinning

 

When the crew of the Ark II arrived on Deucado in the beginning of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, they were rescued by the Ibbrassati. Unfortunately, the Ibbrassati only spoke Vuduri so the newly-thawed colonists had no clue what they were saying.

 

Luckily, Rei Bierak had spent an entire year learning to speak Vuduri and his wife Rome had learned English. Between the two of them, they could serve as interpreters whenever the two groups interacted. Here is a simple example. This little paragraph took place right after Rei rearrived at the secret Ibbrassati enclave in the woods to the north:

 

Rei shook his head and entered the tunnel leading to the catacombs. Captain Keller had set up an office in the small side room where he recovered. He had a flat area made of cane-wood that was serving as a desk. On it were papers and skins with drawings that looked like maps. Trabunel and Fridone were standing next to the desk, gesticulating. Keller was grumbling. Fridone looked up and saw Rei standing there.

“Ah, Rei,” said Fridone. “Inta asde Rome?”

“Barmenacau edres bere dar i papa,” Rei said. “Dafa qua dirner e raunor i samanda bere cinsarfer sue fote. Amodorem-ma evesdeti.”

“Oh,” said Fridone and nothing more.

Keller looked at Rei and breathed a sigh of relief. “Bierak! Finally,” he said. “Where the hell have you been? I cannot understand one word that these people say. I need you to translate for me.”

“Of course,” Rei said. “What do you need?”

“As far as I can gather, these people are telling me that we have to stay hidden. That if we expose ourselves, the Vuduri will come and get us.”

“That’s the way I understand it too, sir. The Vuduri fear us. People of our age. They call us Garacei Ti Essessoni, the Killer Generation because after we left Earth, 9 billion people died.

“Nine billion?” Keller echoed in amazement.

“Yes. But specifically, us, from the Ark. They call us the Erklirte, the Ark Lords because another group, the Ark from G. Eridani, almost took over the world.”

“This world?” Keller asked.

“No,” Rei replied. “Our world. Earth. They came back to the Earth.”

“When was that?”

“A long time ago, as far I can tell,” Rei said.

“So…” said Keller. “No secondary target?”

“No,” Rei said. “They turned around and went back home. And they killed a lot of people.”

 

Of course, tongue-in-cheek, I had Rome tell Rei that nobody on Deucado would take the time to learn English but of course that is exactly what happened. English eventually became the lingua franca, the trade language, of the three worlds (later four after The Milk Run) because it was the logical choice.

 

Entry 3-128: May 3, 2015

 

Rome, a bitch?

 

Poor Rome. She is one of the greatest heroes ever produced by mankind. She is responsible for the complete overhaul of Vuduri society and yet, to look at her, all you would see would be a tiny woman, barely five feet tall with dark brown hair flecked with strands of gold.

 

Captain Keller came from a very rough society and he was embittered because his wife and children were vaporized by a terrorist’s nuclear bomb. As a result, he was not very respectful of Rome or the Vuduri in general. Of course, we later learned in The Ark Lords that he was also the leader of the Darwin contingent on Deucado. That certainly does not excuse his boorish behavior. But look how hard Rei had to try to not call his own wife a bitch:

 

“You still haven‘t proven to me that Stareaters even exist,” Keller said. “Look, let me clue you in. We were supposed to be here first so none of this is up to you. All I need you to do is do your duty and translate for me.”

“I can’t do it, sir. I can’t be part of this,” Rei said weakly.

“We’re doing it whether you approve or not. Your only choice is if you want to be there. I’ll be glad to set up a brig for you, if you’d like.”

“But sir, there has to be another way,” Rei said desperately. “Maybe I can talk to them, to the Vuduri. Tell them what you have. Maybe they’ll listen to me.”

“They won’t listen to you and you know it. Look, I don’t want a war any more than you do. And I don’t want to hurt your little Vuduri bitch…”

That little Vuduri woman is my wife!” Rei sneered at him.

“What?” asked Keller. “Did you get married when I wasn’t looking?”

“Actually, yes,” Rei replied. “And she…”

“Never mind. I’m telling you, we’re not going to cower in these hills like animals. We came to this world to live. And we’re going to live free. We’re going to own the skies.”

 

One thing I can guarantee you. Rome is many things but she is most assuredly not a bitch.

 

Entry 3-129: May 4, 2015

Risingshadow review of The Milk Run, Pt 1 of 5

 

Risingshadow is one of the largest science fiction and fantasy book databases. Here you can find detailed book information and absorbing reviews. Run by dedicated speculative fiction fans for other bookworms!

 

This past month, Risingshadow decided to review The Milk Run . The review itself is fairly long and goes into a lot of depth so I am going to break it up into a few parts. Here is a link to the original article. I got the reviewer’s permission (his handle is Seregil of Rhiminee) to reprint it here.

 

Part 1: Michael Brachman’s The Milk Run is the first novel in The Vuduri Knights series. It’s set in the same universe as the Rome’s Revolution series. It’s an epic and addictive space adventure novel that will please and impress fans of fast-paced and well written sci-fi romps.

 

This novel can be used as an excellent entry point to the Rome’s Revolution universe, because Michael Brachman fluently introduces all the characters, terms, politics, places and previous happenings to new readers. He has infused the story with plenty of information so that new readers will feel almost immediately at home and will be able to enjoy the happenings.

 

It’s possible that experienced readers of the series may feel a bit burdened reading about previous happenings etc, but the story is so good and absorbing that it’s easy to enjoy it. Besides, if it’s been a while since you’ve read the previous novels, it’s good to reacquaint yourself with the happenings. I’m sure that when experienced readers get to the point where the K’val are first seen, it’ll be impossible for them to stop reading the story.

 

Although The Milk Run is similar to the previous novels, it slightly differs from them. The previous novels were stories about Rome and Rei, but The Milk Run is Aason’s story, because the happenings center around Aason and his quest to find his kidnapped sister, Lupe. This novel reveals more information about the future world, because the author introduces new creatures and interesting entities to his readers.

 

Here’s information about the story:

 

Aason Bierak and his little sister, Lupe, are on their way to visit Planet OMCOM, which is a big computer, to update an important piece of equipment. Something happens during the journey and Lupe disappears. She seems to be taken from the ship by glowing tentacles that are made of light. It seems that Lupe may be found in Nu2 Lupi star system, which is 68 light-years away from the place where Aason is. It was a presumed target of one of Aason’s father’s Arks. Aason travels there and soon finds himself in the middle of intriguing happenings and strange beings and entities…

 

This is the beginning of a compelling story about a mission that should’ve been easy, but turns out to be extremely difficult, because something unexpected happens at a wrong time that complicates matters. The story goes far beyond a normal science fiction story, because the author addresses such issues as immortality, spirituality and souls from a fresh perspective.

 

Tomorrow, part 2.

 

Entry 3-130: May 5, 2015

Risingshadow review of The Milk Run, Pt 2 of 5

 

Risingshadow is one of the largest science fiction and fantasy book databases. Here you can find detailed book information and absorbing reviews. Run by dedicated speculative fiction fans for other bookworms!

 

This past month, Risingshadow decided to review The Milk Run . The review itself is fairly long and goes into a lot of depth so I am going to break it up into a few parts. Here is a link to the original article. I got the reviewer’s permission (his handle is Seregil of Rhiminee) to reprint it here.

 

Part 2: Here’s a bit of information about some of the characters:

 

- Aason is an interesting and courageous protagonist, because he’s a young man who seeks his sister and tries to save her. He’s willing to do anything to save his sister. He’s a brave young man who has all the traits of both the Essessoni (humans from the 21st century) and Vuduri (24-chromosome mind-connected humans of the future).

- OMCOM is a computer the size of a planet. He was originally a computer installed on Skyler Base within the Tabit System, but he transferred his consciousness elsewhere.

- Junior, MINIMCOM’s son (MINIMCOM was originally an autopilot computer; circumstances and experience caused him to became self-aware), has all the abilities of his father. He’s Aason’s cousin.

- Aroline is a nice addition to the cast of characters. She’s a young woman who joins Aason on his quest. She wants to save her father.

 

All the characters are interesting and easily likeable characters. It’s great that Michael Brachman has managed to create this kind of characters, because most authors who emphasize scientific accuracy and pay attention to technical details forget to create interesting characters. He has understood that it’s just as important to develop characters as it is to pay attention to scientific details.

 

Reading about Aason and his adventures was thrilling and satisfying. I think that many readers will enjoy reading about how far Aason has to go to save his sister and how he has to risk his soul to get her back. Saving Lupe turns out to be extremely difficult, because it involves travelling to a dimension that is almost impossible to reach. I’m not going to write spoilers about what happens in this dimension, but I can say that it offers interesting surprises for readers and fans of the series (I was thrilled to read about what Aason experienced in the other dimension).

 

The author writes well about what happens between Aason and Aroline and how their relationship develops. Their feelings towards each other are handled well, because there’s sexual attraction with a touch of eroticism between them.

 

Tomorrow, part 3.

 

Entry 3-131: May 6, 2015

Risingshadow review of The Milk Run, Pt 3 of 5

 

Risingshadow is one of the largest science fiction and fantasy book databases. Here you can find detailed book information and absorbing reviews. Run by dedicated speculative fiction fans for other bookworms!

 

This past month, Risingshadow decided to review The Milk Run . The review itself is fairly long and goes into a lot of depth so I am going to break it up into a few parts. Here is a link to the original article. I got the reviewer’s permission (his handle is Seregil of Rhiminee) to reprint it here.

 

Part 3: In my opinion the author writes fluently about sexual situations. Just like in Rome’s Revolution, sex is used as a tool to learn new abilities in this novel. I think that many readers will enjoy reading about how Aason has sex in order to learn a new and important ability.

 

Worldbuilding is just as impressive and interesting in this novel as it is in the previous novels. The author has created an intriguing future world where human beings have evolved into the Vuduri. The Vuduri differ a lot from the 21st century human beings, because they have 24 chromosomes and they’re mind-connected to their collective consciousness, The Overmind. It was great that the author took worldbuilding to a whole new level by writing about the planet where the K’val lived and the other dimension (this added plenty of depth to the story).

 

One of the most intriguing things about this novel is that the author writes about plant people, the K’val. They’re interesting creatures, because they have been given feelings and love for their families. Because they have feelings, they have to do what their Lord, Molokai, tells them to do or they’ll suffer the consequences and feel pain. They have to offer humans to their Lord for food.

 

The interaction between the K’val and Aason is excellent and displays the author’s ability to write believable and entertaining dialogue. It was enjoyable to read about how Aason talked with the K’val and how they responded to him and his actions.

 

Michael Brachman explores the lives of the K’val in an intriguing way, because he slowly reveals more information about them. It was interesting for me to read about their biology and lifespan, because the author seemed to have thought of everything when he wrote about them. I was impressed by his ability to write about them and their habits and traits.

 

Tomorrow, part 4.

 

Entry 3-132: May 7, 2015

Risingshadow review of The Milk Run, Pt 4 of 5

 

Risingshadow is one of the largest science fiction and fantasy book databases. Here you can find detailed book information and absorbing reviews. Run by dedicated speculative fiction fans for other bookworms!

 

This past month, Risingshadow decided to review The Milk Run . The review itself is fairly long and goes into a lot of depth so I am going to break it up into a few parts. Here is a link to the original article. I got the reviewer’s permission (his handle is Seregil of Rhiminee) to reprint it here.

 

Part 4: Molokai is an especially interesting entity, because it’s a bodiless and powerful entity that thinks it is a god. Molokai has roamed the planet for many years and has sucked energy and life from innocent people to become stronger. It needs lots of strength and has started a breeding program to achieve its goals.

 

Michael Brachman has spent a lot of time polishing the scientific details and has researched things to make everything as authentic and believable as possible. It’s possible that readers who are not used to reading about science and technology may at first be a bit overwhelmed by the huge amount of scientific details and technology, but the author writes so fascinatingly about these issues that they’re quite easy to understand. If you happen to feel overwhelmed by the amount of scientific details, don’t worry about it, because you’ll soon find yourself captivated by them (you don’t have to be an engineer or a researcher to be able to enjoy this novel).

 

When I read this novel, I noticed that Michael Brachman has developed a lot as an author since the first novels were written. He writes more confidently, thoughtfully and fluently than before and pays more attention to small details that spice up the story. In the earlier novels his prose felt at times a bit unfinished, but in this novel it feels fluent and good. It’s nice that he has developed so much as an author, because he’s one of the few authors who genuinely seem to be enthusiastic about writing about science and scientific inventions. He also has more imagination than many other authors.

 

One of the best things about The Milk Run (and the whole series) is that the author knows how to combine entertainment, technology and science fiction in an entertaining way. This novel is a perfectly balanced combination of different elements – science, humour, action, love and technology – that together form a stunningly original vision of a possible future of mankind. It’s perfect escapism for science fiction readers who want science, adventure and intriguing concepts from their novels.

 

Tomorrow, the final part of the review.

 

Entry 3-133: May 8, 2015

Risingshadow review of The Milk Run, Pt 5 of 5

 

Risingshadow is one of the largest science fiction and fantasy book databases. Here you can find detailed book information and absorbing reviews. Run by dedicated speculative fiction fans for other bookworms!

 

This past month, Risingshadow decided to review The Milk Run. The review itself is fairly long and goes into a lot of depth so I am going to break it up into a few parts. Here is a link to the original article. I got the reviewer’s permission (his handle is Seregil of Rhiminee) to reprint it here.

 

Part 5: Fans of the previous novels will probably want to know if Rome and Rei are featured in this novel. I can mention that the author writes about them and something happens to them, but I won’t reveal anything else (it wouldn’t be fair to readers to give too much away of the story). I’m sure that fans of the series will be pleased to read about what happens to them.

 

This may sound like an odd comparison, but in my opinion Michael Brachman’s The Milk Run and its predecessors are equivalent to Karen Azinger’s fantasy series (The Silk & Steel Saga) in terms of entertainment values, complex worldbuilding and epic storytelling. Both authors have the same kind of approach to speculative fiction – they both aim to entertain and thrill their readers as well as they can without resorting into cheap tricks.

 

Michael Brachman’s The Milk Run is one of the most entertaining space opera adventures I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, because it’s pure science fiction entertainment from start to finish. The author has done his best to please both newcomers to the series and experienced readers and he has succeeded in it. I sincerely hope that the author will soon write a sequel or a companion novel, because it would nice to read more about the characters and their adventures.

 

My final words are:

 

The Milk Run is excellent entertainment and wonderful escapism for science fiction readers. It’s intriguing entertainment with a strongly beating human heart at its core. Everybody who loves epic sci-fi romps should read this novel, because it’s difficult to find similar kind of engaging and thoughtfully written novels.

 

Pretty cool, huh?

 

Entry 3-134: May 9, 2015

Silane Fluoride

 

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 3-135: May 10, 2015

The night Zac was conceived

 

In all of my previous novels, I have used the intensity of the mind-meld between the various characters and interwoven it with lovemaking and nine months later a baby is born. This was true when Aason was conceived Rome’s Revolution as well as in Rome’s Evolution when Lupe was conceived. It was the same with Rome. Here is a brief excerpt from The Ark Lords when Rome and her father were discussing Rome’s mother:

 

“That makes no sense,” Rome said, turning to look out one of the cabin windows as they entered the deeper water. If anything, the color changed to an even deeper, more beautiful shade of indigo. Rome gasped at the stunning beauty in front of her. Reluctantly, Rome tore her eyes away from the water to look at her father. “So I am a direct result of orders from the Overmind to mate with Mea?”

“One could look at it that way,” said Fridone. “But the reality is quite different. Your mother knows.”

“Why did no one ever tell me this? How is it that you and Mea still ended up cesa (Vuduri for married)?”

“I do not think that is what the Overmind intended. I think it wanted her just to use me then be gone.”

“But the Overmind encouraging interbreeding mandasurte with Vuduri, what…” Rome shook her head. “I do not understand. How did it come about?”

“The Overmind gave Binoda the espansor bands. The ones you used with Rei, yes?”

Rome nodded.

“Well…I was curious. Here was this beautiful woman, sent specifically for me, she was injured and disheveled. I was kind to her, made her comfortable. She revealed to me what she said was her true mission. However, you know the Vuduri. They are always hiding something. Frankly, I did not believe her. She offered to use the bands with me which I accepted. I thought I was so clever. I thought I would use the bands to find out her true motives. But as it turned out, the bands malfunctioned, or maybe they did not. But what happened to you and Rei, it happened to me and your mother. We are Asborodi Cimponeti. After that experience, we were truly in love. That was the end of her being a good, obedient Vuduri. Not too long after that, you came along.”

 

So it is in the new novel The Milk Run, Aason and Aroline are forced to have sex because Aason had to learn how to communicate mind to mind without external equipment. They succeed. But what is not stated at any point in the book is that during the session, their first child, Zac, was conceived. I have no idea what adventures he will be involved with. I know his younger brother Rory will be at the core of the novel Vuduri Knight if and when I ever get around to writing it. But for now, at least you know it has happened three generations in a row. After their experience, Aason and Aroline knew they were soulmates and got married very soon after they returned to Deucado following Aason’s journey documented in The Milk Run.

 

Entry 3-136: May 11, 2015

Sustainability – Artificial Leaves

 

I have no regrets being an animal and having to eat. But you have to be a little envious of plants who literally turn air, water and sunshine into food. Plus they give off oxygen as a waste product, thank goodness for that. That’s why I featured The K’val as the plot-movers in my new novel, The Milk Run.

 

The molecule behind the miracle of plants is chlorophyll.

Wouldn’t it be neat if we could make our own version of chlorophyll? We wouldn’t need it to make food, we have genuine plants for that but they could make other chemicals.

 

Well, it turns out, this is on the verge of happening. A magazine called The Conversation published an article not too long ago that claims a ‘bionic leaf’ turns solar energy into chemicals and fuels. A Harvard University professor by the name of Daniel Nocera has already produced a catalyst, the “artificial leaf”, that is capable of breaking water into its component elements.

 

Dr. Nocera then uses a modified version of a common soil bacteria called Ralstonia eutropha which lives on hydrogen and carbon dioxide. You couple that with the artificial (or as they like to call it the bionic) leaf and you have a solar powered chemical factory that only needs air and water to create a complex molecule. In this particular case the chemical is isopropyl alcohol which can be used to make fuel.

 

It may not seem that incredible the Sun provides us with limitless energy, we have plenty of air and water. No pollution, its only waste product is oxygen. How cool is that?

 

Entry 3-137: May 12, 2015

Sustainability – Fuel from air

 

Yesterday, I described a scientist who invented a “bionic leaf” that can create isopropyl alcohol using only sunlight, water and carbon dioxide with oxygen as its waste product. However, there are no cars on the road today that can burn isopropyl alcohol directly. It has to be modified to make a fuel that ordinary people can use.

 

Audi has taken this concept one step further and has figure out how to make e-diesel fuel directly again only using sunlight (or any renewable source of energy), water and carbon dioxide. E-diesel is an experimental fuel which combines standard No. 2 diesel with ethanol to produce a cleaner burning version with significantly reduced emissions.

 

The reason this is important is because it requires no retro-fitting or modification of existing vehicles. Since the process takes carbon dioxide in and the final output is carbon dioxide, there is a chance that such an e-fuel could be carbon neutral.

 

Audi wants to go further and use this process to produce e-gasoline but that is a way off. They already produce e-gas which is synthetic methane. Maybe some day such a process will allow us to free ourselves of the yoke of fossil fuels forever!

 

This image, courtesy of Audi, shows Minister of Research, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, and Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at AUDI AG, who just refueled the Minister’s official car – an Audi A8 3.0 TDI clean diesel Quattro – with the first five liters of Audi e-diesel. Very cool!

 

 

Entry 3-138: May 13, 2015

Sustainability – Tesla’s Powerwall part 1

 

Elon Musk is a genius. There is no other way to describe him. He was co-founder of Paypal, he is CEO of SpaceX, he is CEO of Tesla Motors. You’d think that would be enough but it isn’t. He wants to completely transform the Earth from a fossil fuel-based economy to a solar-based economy.

 

In my series on solar power, I enumerated just a few of the methods we can use to harness the power of the Sun. These include hydroelectric, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), wind farms and true solar power. The problem with basing the entire world’s economy on these is that they are intermittent sources. For example, the wind doesn’t always blow and, of course, the Sun does not shine at night.

 

What is missing is a economical storage system to capture the power and retain it for when you need it. That means collecting solar power during the day and using that power at night to power your home. Up until now there have been no battery systems cheap enough and reliable enough and compact enough to tie into these power sources. Elon Musk is going to change all of that. He has introduced the Tesla Powerwall which is just an upgraded version of the lithium-ion batteries he uses in his Tesla vehicles in an aesthetically pleasing, compact and reliable form for coupling to energy sources. They are not inventing anything new here, just exploiting the economies of scale. During Mr. Musk’s introduction, he showed two images which bring home, in a striking fashion, how these simple devices can change life fundamentally. (Click here for YouTube Video by VideoMisery showing this introductory speech.)

 

Here is an image (forgive the quality) of what Mr. Musk claims is the amount of surface area required to capture enough sunlight to power the entire United States. It is just that tiny blue square situated on the Texas/Oklahoma border:

 

And this image (again forgive the quality) is how much room the new battery packs would take up to store the energy to provide power when it is dark:

 

Tomorrow, how it all works.

 

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 3-140: May 15, 2015

A prequel?

 

While it took me some 40 years to write Part 1 of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution entitled VIRUS 5, Part 2 of that adventure only took me a few months to write. This was due to the documented Ark Lords Effect. The Ark Lords only took me about six weeks to write the entire first draft. Rome’s Evolution took me a little longer, mainly because I thought it was going to be a novella but after I discovered MASAL’s Sipre was behind the plot to kill Rome and Rei, the rest came fairly quickly.

 

The Milk Run was different. This book took me 16 months to write. I emphasize the word write because all of the other books felt more like transcribing than writing. It was like I had a clear vision of the story and all I had to do was get it typed into the computer. Maybe this is because these stories are true, maybe it’s because a consistent universe produces consistent characters and the plots seem natural.

 

But The Milk Run had to be built from scratch. All I knew was that Aason and Lupe were going to have an adventure. What that adventure was I really didn’t know. It was almost painful. I had to figure out about Hades, Ay’den, turning OMCOM into a starship and so on. The only part I had known was the Epilogue which I had been saving for eight years.

 

But now, something’s brewing. A story is forming in my head just like all the others. It isn’t something I can control but it just seems to be happening on its own. I got this great vision of how the first PPT tunnel was formed. I have a great vision of how electro-gravity was discovered. I have this idea about a “dark matter diode” and they all seem to be related.

 

There are some maverick scientists who travel to North America and uncover the remains of the Erklirte computer. They copy it and build the first analog computer made with PPT resonance. This computer becomes self-aware and names itself MASAL.

 

And then the Robot War. I think this is going be a great novel. We shall see

 

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 3-142: May 17, 2015

Ununpentium

 

Ununpentium (Uup) or Element 115 has always (ironically) had a strong grip on the minds of UFO enthusiasts. A fellow named Bob Lazar claimed that some of this element was recovered by the Air Force from the flying saucers that crashed at Roswell. What makes Element 115 so special is that Lazar (and others) claimed it produced anti-gravity. The physics behind their theories escapes me but could anti-gravity really exist?

 

I have written articles before about electro-gravity which produces a repulsive force. You could say it was anti-gravity but in my books, I claimed it was only good for pushing against a real gravity well so it was limited to surface use up to and including the edge of space but not much further.

 

Ununpentium has actually been synthesized but the most prevalent isotope produced has a half life of about 200 milliseconds so it would not be possible to keep the 50 pounds needed to power a spaceship. There are other isotopes. About 50 atoms of this molecule of varying atomic weight have been observed but all have extremely short half lives. Mr. Lazar claims there is a particular isotope with an atomic weight of 299 which is stable and that is what is use to drive flying saucers and also provide anti-gravity.

 

Putting this all aside, how would anti-gravity work? We all know that photons, light, can act both as a particle and a wave. Is gravity simply the deformation of space-time or is it an actual force? Regardless, what is the mode of transmission? Some scientists have postulated an elementary particle called a graviton which can act both as a particle and a wave. In and of itself, it is massless.

 

Let’s say for one moment that gravitons exist. Would that mean that there are also anti-gravitons? There is no requirement. After all, there is no such thing as an anti-photon. But if anti-gravitons did exist, would they produce an anti-gravity force? If gravity is the thing that binds matter together, could anti-gravity be the thing that binds dark matter together? And is dark energy the same thing as negative energy?

 

Too many questions, not enough answers. However, it does provide food for thought. And a fun fact to base a novel (or a prequel) on along with an entire race of people, aka the Vuduri, and the world of Rome’s Revolution. I better get to it before anybody actually discovers or proves that anti-gravitons cannot exist.

 

Entry 3-143: May 18, 2015

Fast and loose with DNA

 

As a science fiction writer, DNA fascinates me. It is incomprehensible to me how the double helix creates proteins that bend just so and voila, butterflies and chimpanzees appear. So do trees and bacteria.

 

In the world of Rome’s Revolution, DNA plays a large part of the culture and politics of the age. For example, the Vuduri have a 24th chromosome which allows them to communicate mind to mind. It also gives them the bloco and stilo which are machine interfaces, like a built-in monitor and keyboard in their head. It also allows them see into the infra-red and ultra-violet.

 

When OMCOM got involved, he created the 25th chromosome but it wasn’t pure, traditional DNA. Pegus first discovered this:

 

“The child’s genetic pairs are asymmetrical,” Pegus said. “It appears that he only has one normal strand of the 24th chromosome instead of two. There is a second piece of the pair. But it is unlike anything we have ever seen before. In addition, several of his genes have been modified with a protein interlace, a triple helix if you will. I would call it a peptide nucleic acid rather than DNA. I cannot tell what would be its purpose.

“OMCOM gave me a pill that modified my genetic structure,” Rei said. “It was supposed to fix my back.”

 

Turns out, that little chromosome not only gave Rei super hearing and a “cell-phone in the head” but also turned out to be the salvation of the Vuduri. The 25th chromosome suppressed the expression of the Onsira phenotype and would eventually to allow all humans to be human again.

 

I also fooled around with an artificial version of the 24th chromosome which turned regular people into the Onsira phenotype almost instantaneously. Real DNA wouldn’t work that way.

 

And finally, there is the super-secret surprise ending of The Milk Run which plays fast and loose with how DNA works. I’m not going to tell you what it does but if you want a hint, you can read the post about The Immortal Jellyfish. To really find out, you will need to read the book!

 

Entry 3-144: May 19, 2015

The first shot

 

In the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution entitled VIRUS 5, the climax was always going to be the stare-down on the plains outside the Vuduri compound between the Essessoni (actually the new Ark Lords) and the Vuduri. But the cliff-hanger was going to be Rome and Rei screaming and falling to the floor, just as the sky went black. The was due to an excised character named Lawlidon who had come to protect Deucado from the hunter/killers known as the Cecetiras. It was going to be a great scene but sadly it had no place in the story so it was removed.

 

But the climax remained. And as I have explained before, you have to know how the story ends before you can write the beginning. I had set up the Deucadons as the acknowledged rulers of the planet but I had to get them to the battlefield first. I threw in this little scene to make sure that war did not break out prematurely:

 

Keller said, “Never mind. I’m telling you, we’re not going to cower in these hills like animals. We came to this world to live. And we’re going to live free. We’re going to own the skies.” He was adamant.

“But sir…” Rei sputtered, “If the Stareaters come, there won’t be any sky to fly.”

“I don’t care. Look, you decide. Now. The only thing I will promise you is that when the time comes, we will not fire the first shot. That’s the best I can do. When we get there, I will give you a chance to try and save your precious Rome. If you can’t, at least you can die with her.”

“Captain Keller,” Rei said, trying speak as slowly as possible. “For the last time, I’m begging you. These things, the Stareaters, they are real. I’ve seen them. They will destroy the whole star system if they come here. We have to prepare. We have to prepare the star probes. We have to get the VIRUS units ready.”

Rei took in a deep breath. His heart hurt so much from missing Rome. He needed her desperately.

“I…don’t…care,” said Keller. “You’ll translate?”

Rei looked at Keller. He had thought he had already made it to hell. Now he realized he had only started down the road. He could see no way back but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t come.

“All right,” Rei said, resignedly.

 

To tell you the truth, I wrote this scene long before I knew that Captain Keller was part of the Darwin Project and a member of the new Erklirte. I probably imbued him with a little more sympathy than the character should have had.

 

If nothing else, all of the novels in the Rome’s Revolution series are about redemption so in Rome’s Evolution, we come to find out that Maury Keller was not a monster. He carried a lot of grief and anger but somewhere buried in his heart was compassion and love. So I guess it was OK for him to offer this small concession. He was cynical enough to think it wouldn’t matter who fired first in any event.

 

Entry 3-145: May 20, 2015

Pie and Pay

 

he other night, my wife told me I was brilliant. Why? Because she is finally getting around reading my new novel The Milk Run. In that book, Rome and Rei’s son Aason Bierak and his sister are traveling to Planet OMCOM to upgrade the library computer’s operating system. Aason’s sister Lupe is kidnapped by creatures made only of light and stolen right out of Junior’s cockpit. Just as she is disappearing, Lupe’s final words to Aason are “New to Lupe.”

 

Why is this brilliant? Because that is not what Lupe actually said. She pronounced it Lu-Pie not Lu-Pay. She was trying to tell Aason to go to Nu2 Lupi which is the name of a star 68 light years from Tabit. It was Aason’s only clue to her whereabouts and started him on his journey to Hell (Hades) and Eden (Ay’den) and eventually past Purgatory to Heaven itself.

 

My wife thought is was brilliant to name Aason’s sister Lupe and have a star system named Nu2 Lupi. The only problem is I didn’t do it on purpose.

 

Even in my very first draft of the long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, I always had five Arks. I used a database of stars and picked the five closest (if you call 68 light years close) that were G2 class stars, like our Sun. Nu2 Lupi was always the target of one of the Arks. I had originally called it the Lost Ark but things moved around.

 

My daughter’s name in Spanish is Lupe so even by the end of The Ark Lords, OMCOM informed Rome that she was going to have a daughter named Lupe and fairly soon. Here is that brief conversation:

 

“Thank you,” Rome replied to OMCOM. “But what are you doing here?”

“I was able to get a favorable alignment of my null-fold relays. There is something I wanted to discuss with you.”

“What?” Rei asked fatalistically.

“Lupe.”

“What is a lupe?” Rome asked.

“Not a what,” OMCOM said. “A who.”

“All right,” replied Rome, humoring him. “Who is Lupe?”

“She is your daughter. Or perhaps she is our daughter.”

“My daughter?” Rome exclaimed. “We have no daughter.”

“That is the point. She is waiting to be born.”

 

So each of these two names were set in stone long before the concept of The Milk Run ever occurred to me. When the time came to write it, that line, new to Lupe, just popped into my head. It made for a great opening and it made my wife think I was brilliant but really, it was a total accident.

 

Hey, maybe these stories really are true. How else can you explain such an amazing coincidence? Or maybe I just really am brilliant!

 

Entry 3-146: May 21, 2015

Live free or die

 

When we were busy evading saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, we weren’t worried too much about our basic human rights or privacy. We were just trying to live to see another day. But once we achieved a modicum of civilization, it has been a struggle for men and women to remain free and have equality. Somebody always wants the power at the expense of others.

 

So, too, it is in the 35th century. There are plenty of forces trying to gain an edge over others in the world of Rome’s Revolution. OMCOM to some degree uses humans to achieve his gains. The Stareaters simply don’t care about puny humans in their relentless pursuit to extend the life of the universe. MASAL wants to convert humans to living robots so he can rule the world. And the Overmind only considers the Vuduri as real people. The mandasurte, the mind-deaf, are nothing but a nuisance.

 

Thus when Rome and Rei arrived at Deucado, they found a microcosm of the discrimination that has been our unending history since before history was even written. The mind-deaf people there were so oppressed, they even referred to themselves as the Ibbrassati. Thus when Captain Keller decided he was going on the offensive, he found a willing audience and ready-made supporters. His call to arms was not very long but it resonated in both English and Vuduri:

 

The Ibbrassati set up a podium in the large central chamber. All told, there were almost 1000 people gathered there, half Essessoni, half Ibbrassati. Keller had a crude megaphone that Trabunel had given him and he stepped up to address the masses.

“We march tonight,” he said.

“Nis merchemis hija e nioda,” Rei called out.

“We give them the ultimatum at dawn,” Keller shouted.

“Nis temis-lhas i uldomedum ni elfiracar,” Rei repeated.

“They will let us go free or they will die,” Keller said. The Essessoni in the crowd began to cheer.

“Taoxer-nis-ei or lofra iu mirrarei,” Rei said. Now all the Ibbrassati began to cheer.

“Live free or die,” said half the crowd.

“Lofra fofi iu teti,” said the other half.

 

So while 14 centuries may have passed, certainly the desire to live free has never dimmed.

 

 

Entry 3-147: May 22, 2015

Cosmic Billiards and Karma

 

The Onsira’s plan to kill the mandasurte was called Silucei Vonel in Vuduri which translate to the final solution. It was not an accident that I used the same terminology as Hitler’s organized dispatch of the Jewish people. Genocide is genocide. In the middle part of Rome’s Revolution, Rome had finally established a deep enough rapport with the Overmind of Deucado for it to reveal this vile plan to her:

 

“Do you really think it is practical to imprison an entire race of people here and police them with such a small group? Do you not think that eventually the mandasurte would figure this out and take steps to liberate themselves?”

“Yes, in time. It may take many years but, yes,” Rome said.

“That is why Deucado was chosen to imprison the most important ones. They do not have many years. They will not have enough time.”

“What are you saying?” Rome asked fearfully.

“There is an asteroid coming. A very large one. Larger than Mockay. Our calculations tell us that it will hit Deucado in 19 years and destroy all life on this planet once and for all.”

“WHAT?!” Rome shouted in her mind. “You know this and yet you bring all the mandasurte here? Just to die?”

The Overmind did not answer.

“That is horrible,” Rome said. “You are a monster!”

“It was not my idea,” said the Overmind weakly. “The Onsiras refers to this as part of the plan they call Silucei Vonel. Using this method to effect the extinction of the bulk of the mandasurte was deemed sufficiently palatable to the masses back on Earth because it would be a natural disaster. Just an unfortunate incident on a planet far away. I did not set it up.”

“You are just as guilty. You would have allowed it,” Rome said in her mind. “That is just as bad.”

“There is more. But even putting that aside, I am not sure we know how to stop it,” said the Overmind defensively.

“Find a way,” Rome insisted.

“We are not sure why it is even coming. Deucado has been here for a billion years. We had traced the chain of events leading up to the asteroid being set on this path only as far back as 13 centuries. Something seems to have disturbed the natural order and through a set of collisions caused this to occur. You might want to call it cosmic billiards. I believe it is the direct result of Rei’s Ark coming through this system. Whatever hit the Ark then hit something else which hit something else and so on. If it were not so horrible, it would almost be humorous.”

“There is nothing humorous about an asteroid that will kill so many innocent people.”

“Perhaps that is not the right word. I believe it used to be known as karma.”

 

The problem is, even if the Overmind did come up with a plan to stop the asteroid, eventually the Onsiras would stumble across that fact and launch a strike force to destroy enough of the planet to effect the same solution. What to do?

 

The answer lies in Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution.

 

Entry 3-148: May 23, 2015

Seasons

 

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 3-149: May 24, 2015

Catch 22 – Part 1

 

In the middle part of Rome’s Revolution, right after Rome learned of the impending genocide, she was determined to thwart the plan.

 

She beseeched the Overmind to intervene. The Overmind said he could not. She begged him to send someone to Earth to make them aware. The Overmind said he could not. If he sent a member of the Vuduri to Earth, the Onsiras would learn of his turnabout and send a strike force. And they could not send an Ibbrassati because then the Onsiras would know the inmates had gotten loose. Rome was truly painted into a corner.

 

While this was sad for Rome, it was great for me as a story-teller. There was only one solution to this Catch-22 which set up the entire third act:

 

“I do not care what you call it,” Rome said. “Stop it. Send up some ships. Deflect it. Do not allow this.”

“This is the problem I do not know how to solve,” said the Overmind. “Even if I stopped the asteroid, it would not matter. Once the Onsiras find out what is happening here, they will send in a strike force and put a halt to it anyway. They will not allow the mandasurte to go free. You are not capable of understanding their resolve.”

“Then we must send someone to Earth to tell them what is happening here,” said Rome. “The people of Earth must know about the plot to kill the mandasurte. The people of Earth must accept the need for the mandasurte to go free. You must send someone to Earth now to spread this message.”

“I cannot do that,” said the Overmind.

“Why not?” Rome asked.

“If I send Vuduri, as soon as they arrive on Earth, the Onsiras will connect and they will know and dispatch a strike force here. They will not be able to hide this. If I send mandasurte, the Onsiras will know something has happened here and send a strike force. No matter who I send, the secret will get out and the Onsiras will ‘rectify’ the situation.”

“What would happen if we did nothing?” Rome asked. “What if we just allow the mandasurte to leave and establish a presence elsewhere?”

“We will not have enough time. Just as you can disconnect at will and I cannot reach you, I am certain that there are spies among us for the Onsiras. After all, I placed spies among the Ibbrassati. It is in our nature. Therefore, we cannot do nothing. The word will get out. Something must be done but I do not know what.”

Rome became silent. Her heart was broken so many ways, she did not know what to say. The Overmind intruded and interrupted her concentration.

“You and Rei must go,” said the Overmind. “You must go to Earth.”

 

Poor Rome. It really sucks. But tomorrow you will see that the Overmind of Deucado’s logic is impeccable.

 

Entry 3-150: May 25, 2015

Catch 22 – Part 2

 

Yesterday, I presented to you Rome’s fundamental dilemma on how to save the mandasurte which comes in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution. Today, I will give you the second half of the conversation:

 

“You and Rei must go,” said the Overmind. “You must go to Earth.”

“What?” Rome said. “Why?”

“Because you can. You are the only Vuduri who can leave here with the ‘secret’ intact. Rei is the only mandasurte who can leave here with good reason. He would be allowed to return to Earth.”

“But I will know what is going on here. Will not the Onsiras detect this from my mind?”

“You were able to construct false memories of the disposition of the Ark. You are able to keep me out of any part of your mind that you desire. No, they will not find out from you.”

“And Rei?”

“Rei is a hero. He would be allowed to return. There would be no explanation for preventing him.”

“But we have seen the Ibbrassati. Rei has seen them.”

“We will have to construct a cover story for you. We will say that the Ark was destroyed along with the Essessoni and you landed here at the enclave. That way, you would be expected to have no knowledge of the true purpose of Deucado.”

“What about my son? I will be giving birth soon. We cannot go before that,” Rome pointed out.

“Of course not, you must give birth. You will have that much time.”

“What about Aason? He will have knowledge of this world, even if he does not understand it,” Rome said.

“His genetics prevent him from being absorbed into an Overmind. Therefore the only way he could reveal information would be for someone to connect to him directly. He already has your abilities, to keep others out,” replied the Overmind. “He has already demonstrated this. We can teach him the ‘cover story’ or just have him stay disconnected altogether.”

“This is a lovely plan except for one thing.”

“And what is that?” asked the Overmind.

“What do we do when we get there? How will two people stop an entire world from committing suicide?”

“You will do what you do best. You will talk to them. That will be enough. If you can get enough people to believe you and you expose the Onsiras, they will be defeated. They can only succeed in the darkness. You will bring the light.”

Rome slumped back on the couch. Once again, the weight of the world, actually all of life itself, was pressed upon her shoulders.

 

Poor Rome. It’s hard being a hero or in this case a heroine. But she is up to the task, trust me.

 

Entry 3-151: May 26, 2015

Transformers

 

My children used to play with Transformers when they were young. I think that came to a close right around the Dinobots. We were always careful folding and unfolding them so we wouldn’t break them. When the Transformers movies came out, there were a lot more moving parts but the effects were still cool.

 

When the time came to write the scene for the unpacking of the Erklirte “weapons” in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution, I had the vision of the Transformers in my mind. I had this idea that their vehicles would be compressed into a large yellow block and they would “inflate” when they were powered up. See if my depiction of a Transformer-like unfolding comes to mind here:

 

Most of the Essessoni had sore backs so as a matter of practicality, the Ibbrassati were forced to do the heavy lifting. Some were better than others but most were nearly incapacitated in some fashion or another. The Ibbrassati slid the containers down the cargo ramp and dragged them until they were flat on the ground. Two Essessoni limped over and inserted one radioactive rod into the each of the boxes using the cavities made for just for that purpose.

Like a flower unfolding its petals, the squarish boxes began to unravel in glinting segments. Each arm unlocked, revealing another segment in its place. Underneath, wire wheels emerged and their electrostatic filaments stiffened causing the vehicle to slowly rise up from the ground. When the transformation was complete, the two vehicles resembled large, open cabin trucks with flatbeds and sides made up of shining metal.

“Ionelli, Greer,” Keller said to two men standing nearby, “Stage Two.” Keller pointed to two cavities now visible near the front of the two vehicles. With some effort, the Essessoni inserted two more rods into each vehicle and they began transforming again. The flatbeds unfolded again and again forming a huge surface. Walls came up along with bars on the sides and another set of wheels descending from their underbelly turning them into giant transports.

The two men swung up, one each into the cabin and fired up the electric motors. One made a grinding noise but no one seemed to care. The two men pulled the transports around and each pointed their front directly into the belly of the cargo compartment. They turned on huge floodlights and night became day.

 

Good? Bad? Oh well, I tried. It’ll be cooler when the movies are made.

 

 

Entry 3-152: May 27, 2015

Was Estar right?

 

Early on in Part 1 of Rome’s Revolution, Rei’s encounter with the Vuduri (with the exception of Rome) was invariably unpleasant. Finally, he couldn’t stand it. He begged Estar to explain why they all hated him so much. Her response was very short:

 

Estar said, “Your goal is to continue your journey. Perhaps to find a way back to Deucado and also find a way to tow your Ark with the Essessoni aboard, correct?”

“You already know that,” Rei said. “Aren’t you part of the Overmind?”

“Yes, of course,” she said. “But I need to know your intentions. You are going to thaw out your people when you get wherever you are going, correct?”

“Well, sure,” Rei said, puzzled. “That’s the whole point of our mission in the first place.”

“Is it your intent to unload the Erklirte weapons as well?” the woman asked.

“Weapons?” Rei replied, confused. “What kind of weapons? We’re not carrying any weapons.”

“Let me rephrase then,” Estar said. “When you arrive at your new home world, you intend to land the cargo portion of your craft and unpack its contents, correct?”

“Of course,” Rei said. “We’ll need that stuff to get organized, to start our lives there.”

“Very well,” she said. “That is all I needed to know.”

 

Initially, that was not much to go on. Later, Rei asked her again. This time, Estar was more blunt:

 

“You are going to die,” said the voice.

He turned and saw Estar standing at the base of the ramp. She was frowning.

“What? Why?” he said and walked down the ramp.

“You will not succeed,” she said. “You will die. I do not care about that. However, you will also kill Rome and many others in the process.”

“Why do you say that?” Rei asked.

“Because you and your Erklirte weapons cannot be released in our world. There is no place for them.”

“I told you before, we have no weapons,” Rei said.

“You know nothing,” said Estar. “You are just a pawn. There are forces at work here that you cannot fathom.”

“You make it sound so sinister,” Rei said. “We’re just people from old Earth trying to find a life in your world.”

“No, you are the Erklirte, returning from the past,” Estar spat out. “You will cause nothing but death and destruction. You will impede the progress of my species.”

 

Estar had tried to kill Rei several times. Couched within her cryptic response was her motivation. She really believed that the Rei and the Erklirte, the new Ark Lords would be an impediment to the development of an Onsira species, ruled by MASAL. Of course, Rei did not know it at the time. And further, as a civilian member of the Ark program, he truly thought they were only carrying implements required to build a colony. Tomorrow, his eyes are opened when he realizes that Estar was right.

 

Entry 3-153: May 28, 2015

Weapons of War

 

Yesterday, I recapped the scenes for you from Rome’s Revolution where Estar informed Rei that the Arks contained very powerful Erklirte weapons. As a civilian, Rei was not privvy to the dual purpose of their equipment. And since he was not a member of the Darwin Project, he had no idea of their secret agenda. However, all became clear as they were unloading the “supplies” from the Ark II’s cargo compartment. Rei came to realize the sinister nature of the equipment:

 

Now that Keller’s men could see, the process went faster. Two more vehicles were removed and “inflated.” Boxes upon boxes were unloaded and staged on the ground. Rei watched in horrified fascination as they inserted power rods into the particle beam drillers and now with the harsh vision of the current situation, he was able to see that, indeed, they were mobile cannons. Other boxes were removed, marked as explosives but also emblazoned with the symbol for radioactivity. Large tanks, containing liquefied fuel that had been frozen solid in space for 13 centuries were also place on the flatbeds.

Weapons were removed and handed out. The Essessoni started climbing up onto the transports and the Ibbrassati handed them more equipment. To someone who had just arrived, there would be no way to convince them that all that equipment fit within the confines of the cargo section of the ruined Ark.

“This is unbelievable,” Rei said with disgust. “We really are a small army.”

“We had to be ready for all eventualities,” Keller said. “No one knew what we’d be facing.”

“So why the pretense?” Rei asked. “Why didn’t you just tell us we were going to be conquerors instead of colonists?”

“Because we didn’t know if it had to be this way,” Keller said. “There was always the chance that things would go peacefully.”

“What about the animal embryos?” Rei asked. “Are they weapons too? Are you going to throw them at the Vuduri and ick them into submission? Are you going to choke them with seeds?”

“I don’t know what your problem is, Bierak,” Keller said, “but this is the way it is. Get used to it. This is who we are.”

 

This is so hard to sort out. I don’t blame the mission planners for sending along weapons. After all, nobody had any idea what they were going to encounter on alien worlds. But why the pretense? Well, that was what the Darwin Project was all about, secrecy. By the way, the line highlighted in bold is like one of my most favorite lines in all of the books, “ick them into submission.” Pretty funny.

 

Entry 3-154: May 29, 2015

Testing, testing, 1…

 

You will recall from several several previous articles that the actions of the magic yellow pill, given to Rome and Rei, had numerous effects. In fact, OMCOM’s potions are at the core of many of the major developments in the entire Rome’s Revolution series as well as The Milk Run. Besides fixing Rei’s back pain and giving him sonar-vision, it also took the underlying substrate for the bloco and stilo and converted them from digital to analog transmission thus giving Rei the “cell-phone” in his head.

 

But Rome already had a bloco and stilo. The yellow pill was successful in converting the apparatus. But because she took the yellow pill later than Rei, it took her a little longer for the cell-phone to come on line. She had remarked to Rei that her bloco and stilo were malfunctioning when they were crash landing on Deucado. But here is the first time she found out why:

 

Rome listened again, more carefully this time. The noise she heard reminded her of that other channel inside of Aason, the one that only showed darkness and sound.

She pushed toward it and thought tentatively, “Hello?”

Hello, Rome,” said a tiny voice.

“MINIMCOM?” Rome was delighted. “You are alive?”

Curious choice of phrasing but yes, I am fully functional, thank you.”

“How are you inside of my head? I have my PPT connection off.”

This is not a PPT connection. This is…something else,” replied MINIMCOM.

“What? How are you doing this?” Rome asked.

It is an electromagnetic linkage.”

“What?” Rome thought to herself. “How?”

Do you remember the yellow pill that Rei gave you to fix your back?”

“Yes. It worked very well. My back is fine.” Rome thought.

It did a little more than that,” MINIMCOM offered.

“Like what?” Rome asked, slightly unnerved.

It refined the transmission apparatus already inside your head. It is just now coming online.”

“Is this why my blece and stilo stopped working?” Rome asked tersely.

Yes. This new equipment and the old devices utilize the same elements of your neural circuitry. There was not room in your head for both types of elements,” explained MINIMCOM.

“Why?” Rome thought. “I did not ask you do this. Why did you do this to me without my consent?”

 

Tomorrow, Rome finds out how it happened and who was responsible for the changes in her head.

 

Entry 3-155: May 30, 2015

Testing, testing, 1, 2…

 

Yesterday, in Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome came to find out from MINIMCOM that there had been some changes made on her physiology and in her brain. As you can imagine, initially, she was not very happy about it. Here is the middle part of that conversation:

 

“Why?” Rome thought. “I did not ask you do this. Why did you do this to me without my consent?”

“I did not.” answered MINIMCOM.

“Then who did?”

“OMCOM,” replied MINIMCOM.

“OMCOM?” Rome asked, confused.

“Yes, OMCOM. He thought it might come in handy down the road. He especially wanted Rei to have the apparatus.”

“Rei has this too?” Rome did not know what to do with this information.

“Oh yes. His transmission apparatus is coming along very nicely. He also has developed some other, fairly unique, capabilities.”

“Have you spoken to him?” Rome inquired.

“Yes.”

“How is he? How is my husband?” Rome asked anxiously.

“He is fine.”

“Does he know what has happened to me?”

“Not yet,” replied MINIMCOM. “Since this was the first time I have ‘spoken’ to you, there was no information to pass along to him.”

“Will you tell him that I am fine? And that Aason is fine?”

“You can tell him yourself, very soon.”

“How?” Rome asked, startled.

“As I stated, you both now have the very same transmission apparatus inside each of your heads. You will be able to connect to him yourself.”

“So, are you saying I will be able to talk to Rei, using this method?” she asked.

“Yes. This is the first time that this has ever been done. It will take me a little time to arrange the channels but once I have it sorted out, you should be able to talk to him directly. And Aason, too. Rei will be able to ‘speak’ to Aason as well.”

“Aason?” Rome said, fear flooding into her mental voice. “What does this have to do with Aason?”

“The pill modified Rei’s genes before you became pregnant. Aason has inherited these traits.”

“What have you done to my baby?” Rome gasped in her mind. “Will it hurt him?”

 

Imagine finding out that your unborn child had been genetically modified by an amoral computer the size of a planet? Tomorrow, the conclusion of Rome’s awakening to the new day.

 

Entry 3-156: May 31, 2015

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

 

Yesterday, in Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome came to find out from MINIMCOM that the magic yellow pill had made some modifications to her brain. Initially, she was not very happy about it. Here is the final part of that conversation:

 

“What have you done to my baby?” Rome gasped in her mind. “Will it hurt him?”

“No. He will be fine. He will simply have more choices when it comes to communication than most people. He will do very nicely.”

“I do not like this, MINIMCOM,” Rome thought angrily. “Not one little bit. I am glad that you are all right and I am grateful for the chance to speak to Rei but it is not right that this was done to us without our knowledge and without our permission.”

“You can take that up with OMCOM the next time you speak to him. I am just serving as facilitator,” replied MINIMCOM.

“I am not angry at you, MINIMCOM. I am just angry,” Rome thought to herself, trying to calm herself down.

“Believe it or not, I understand,” said MINIMCOM. “We must make the best of the situation as it is presented us, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Let me get to work hooking you up with Rei. I will let you know when that task is completed. Once established, the two of you will be able to control the connection thereafter.”

“I am not angry at you, MINIMCOM. I am just angry,” Rome thought to herself, trying to calm herself down.

“Believe it or not, I understand,” said MINIMCOM. “We must make the best of the situation as it is presented us, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Let me get to work hooking you up with Rei. I will let you know when that task is completed. Once established, the two of you will be able to control the connection thereafter.”

“All right, MINIMCOM,” Rome said. She paused for a moment then added, “thank you.”

“You are most welcome,” replied the little computer.

Rome put her hands to her head and moved it back and forth. She was trying to see if it felt different but it did not. Finally, she gave up and just stood on her balcony watching Mockay rise on its mad dash across the heavens. It made her heart race to know that she would soon be speaking to Rei and it made it ache at the same time. Aason kicked her gently.

 

We know that Rome eventually came to truly appreciate the changes. She probably would have agreed to them, given a choice. But she wasn’t. I don’t blame her for being a bit peeved.

 

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 3-158: June 2, 2015

Commando Cody

 

Yesterday, I told you about the lack of cookies in the 35th century and how I was going to rectify that in my next book. It got me to thinking about what other stuff that I love that I never squeezed in. The first thing that came to mind was Commando Cody and his jet pack. This is not Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, the country rock group responsible for Hot Rod Lincoln. No, Commando Cody was a black & white, serial action hero from the 50s who was closer in spirit to Iron Man. Here is a brief description of him from my first novel ever entitled Future Past which shockingly is not science fiction but actually a romantic novel:

 

Commando Cody was my all-time favorite childhood hero. He was a fellow who strapped a jet pack on his back and flew around chasing bad guys. What made him special and what let me relate to him was that he was ordinary. He wasn’t a superhero, just a hero with some really cool technology. He had no special powers, just his wits and fists. In theory, with that jet pack, anybody could fly like him. I spent countless hours imaging just that. I would build little models of him out of plastic building blocks that came long before Legos. I’d fly them around. I built replicas of his spaceship and I’d fight aliens and bad guys in my mind.

 

Actually, I did sneak a little bit of Commando Cody during Junior’s “birth scene” in The Ark Lords:

 

Rei and Rome turned to look where MINIMCOM was pointing. A large white ship was descending from the sky but it did not look like any spaceship either of them had ever seen before. It looked like an elongated bullet, all white, with stubby wings at the rear and a sharp, needle-like antenna sticking out the front. To Rei, it looked like something out of a bad science fiction movie. It circled around twice before landing right next to MINIMCOM, the starship. There was a whoosh and a popping sound and an all-white livetar appeared.

 

Here is a picture of Commando Cody’s spaceship, in negative, used to represent the clone ships produced by Planet OMCOM in the middle of The Milk Run:

 

 

So what is the point of all of this? I love the idea of a jetpack and people flying around. I even loved Disney’s The Rocketeer which was an homage to Commando Cody. I don’t know why they never made a sequel. Anyway, don’t you think they should have jetpacks and fly around the city in the 35th century? I do so I think in the next book, I’ll sneak in a Rocket Man or two of some sort.

 

Entry 3-159: June 3, 2015

Father, Dad, Daddy

 

Rome, the heroine of Rome’s Revolution, was a mosdurece which is the Vuduri word for half-blood. In simple terms, her mother Binoda was a full-blooded, 24-chromosome member of the Vuduri and her father only had 23 pairs of chromosomes, just like us. Growing up, Rome had it tough. Part of her yearned to be free but another part of her wanted to fit in, to be a “good little Vuduri” so she tried very hard to suppress her feelings, good enough to fool most.

 

But it didn’t fool everyone and certainly not her parents. They never spoke of this for fear that the Overmind would hear their words and act upon him. Here is Rome’s father, Fridone, explaining to Rei about her childhood:

 

“But her mother, and you,” Rei said. “I do not understand. Rome knew you loved her. But she had no feelings?”

“She had feelings,” Fridone said. “But she also wanted to fit in. So she suppressed them. She hid them. But I always knew they were there.”

“How?” Rei asked.

“Many things, tiny things,” Fridone said. “You know she calls me Beo and her mother Mea, yes?”

“Sure,” Rei said. “Does that not mean father?”

“No,” replied Fridone. “Bater is the formal word for the male biological parent. Beo is the diminutive. I am sure you have a similar word in English.”

“Like dad or daddy?” Rei offered in English.

“I do not know your language but I think you understand,” said Fridone. “That very act was one of defiance. Let me see if I can explain. Pretend that you could take all the Vuduri in the world and line them up. Now take the most perfect Vuduri and put him at one end and put us, you and me, all the mandasurte at the other. The most perfect Vuduri has absolutely no mind of his own. He allows the Overmind to think for him. He would attempt to never speak but failing that, he would only refer to his parents by their names, never as Beo or Mea. And he would move out and go to a group home or academy as soon as he was able. But Rome, she lived with us until I was taken.”

“She said she lived with her mother even after that,” Rei replied.

“Again, defiance. And her cat? She told you about him?” Fridone asked.

“Yes,” Rei answered.

“She would spend hours with that cat, petting him, grooming him, playing with him. But the perfect Vuduri, the one on the far end of the spectrum, would do no such thing. Rome had many feelings that she simply would not admit to herself. That made them safe.”

 

You will get to meet her cat Skodla one last time in the Heaven portion of The Milk Run.

 

Entry 3-160: June 4, 2015

Self-cesdiud

 

In the later part of the middle section of Rome’s Revolution, Rei and Fridone, Rome’s father, are sitting on a troop carrier headed toward what looked inevitably like war. In order to distract themselves, they talked about Rome growing up and about Rome’s mother, Binoda.

 

You will recall from my post several days ago that the Overmind came up with the perfect plan to expose the genocidal plot being effected on Deucado. Later, Rome decides that when they get to Earth, she will share this information with her mother first since she knew above all else she could trust her.

 

But things never go according to plan and if you listened to Fridone’s words carefully, there is a lot of foretelling. In fact, if you’ve read the books and then go back and look at this scene, you will see the monkey wrench was telegraphed loud and clear:

 

Fridone said, “Let us say that the real Binoda, my beautiful wife, she lived behind a wall.”

“What do you mean the real Binoda?” Rei asked. “Who was your wife then?”

“By the real Binoda, I mean her mind, her feelings, her soul,” offered Fridone.

“What kind of wall?” Rei asked.

“A mental kind. She built it herself and maintained it herself. She allowed parts of her mind outside but they were not her real self. The Vuduri think they are high and mighty but those that have any vestige of a mind at all, they yearn for privacy or at least privacy of thought. Most cannot achieve it so rather than take a chance on having others see a flaw or an embarrassing thought. They relinquish that part of their being.”

“So how was Binoda to do this?” Rei asked.

“She was able to connect and disconnect the outer part at will,” answered Fridone. “The outer part, the artificial part…that is the part that connected to the Overmind. Binoda once told me she could render herself Cesdiud any time she wanted. She only stayed connected because she felt it was convenient. She drew no comfort from the connection. She told me should the day ever come that the Overmind no longer had any use for her that would be the day she would cast herself out permanently.”

 

Later on, this is exactly what happened. Of course, this gave Rome the challenge she needed to pull off her final victory but that is a story for another day.

 

 

Entry 3-161: June 5, 2015

Stripping down, part 1

 

When I first wrote the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution called VIRUS 5, I had this dream of making into more than just a novel. I wanted it to be an experience. So I invented the Vuduri language and started out the book with nothing and no one speaking in English. Well, except for Rei. Plus I had all the computers (MINIMCOM, OMCOM) speaking with robotic voices and used lots of fonts to portray those intonations. I also made their faces expressionless.

 

But I got a lot of flak about this. I was told by people more knowledgeable than me that people want English and they quickly grow tired of “fontitis” so I’d better cut it out. So I did. As the story wore on, I cut back more and more on the Vuduri. In fact, when Rei was talking to Rome’s father, Fridone, you the reader get to follow the entire conversation even though it is in Vuduri. How did I do this? I just added the words in Vuduri whenever I wanted you to know it. Here is an example. In reality, they are whipping back and forth between English and Vuduri almost every sentence but I no longer burden you with have to read a foreign language:

 

“Wow,” Rei said in English. Then he switched back to Vuduri. “You know, I think Rome described a similar thing to me. But the whole idea seems so strange. Having to go through all that just to have what you and I have naturally. It seems so, so,” Rei switched to English again, “so un-Vuduri.”

“It is not as strange as you might think,” said Fridone. “And I think there are others like Binoda. They would never admit it. I would never have known had not Binoda taken the time to show me. She always knew when others were watching.”

“So how did you guys meet?” Rei asked. “If she was only a regular Vuduri on the outside, how did you ever meet the inner one?”

 

So, too, I got myself out of having to use all those fonts be making each new character speak naturally. Junior was the first livetar to be introduced after I was instructed to strip out the rest of that stuff. So I simply told you, the reader, that his voice was very natural. Later came the Library OMCOM. Again, I made his voice natural and then I did not need special fonts. Even Planet OMCOM spoke with a regular voice.

 

Removing all of this left me with a profound sadness. I thought that stuff was neat but nobody else did. Well, I must listen to the voice of the people. But tomorrow you will see, I did get one chance to sneak it all back in and nobody will be complaining.

 

Entry 3-162: June 6, 2015

Stripping down, part 2

 

Yesterday, I explained to you that when I first wrote the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution called VIRUS 5, I introduced way too much complexity, most of it in a vain, in the hope that I would make my book more an experience than merely a novel. I also explained how, as I evolved, I stripped down most of the things that I thought were neat but was told the readers would not appreciate. Goodbye Vuduri language, robot-speak, fontitis.

 

In fact, by the time I got to The Milk Run, there were maybe 10 words of Vuduri in the whole book. And there is only one scene where the original MINIMCOM appears and I was forced to use his original special font. But I have a rather pronounced passive-aggressive streak so right at the end of that book, I through in the original OMCOM’s special font for one whole sentence. Here is where I slipped it in:

 

Standing there, in front of her, was a handsome young man. He was about two meters tall, with broad shoulders, dressed in a standard white Vuduri jumpsuit. Oddly, he was also wearing a somewhat incongruous white cape. It was clear he was not Vuduri, not only because of his height and build but because his hair was completely white as well.

“Can I help you?” Rome asked.

“I take it you do not recognize me,” the young man said.

“No,” Rome replied. “Should I?”

“Would it help if I spoke like this?” the man said, his voice changing to a deep, metallic sounding rumble.

“OMCOM?” Rome asked, confused. “You are an OMCOM?”

oung man’s face appeared to melt and for just a moment, his eyes and mouth changed to slits before returning to their previous humanoid shape.

“At your service,” the man replied.

“I don’t understand,” Rome said. “Are you a livetar? From the Library? From the clone ships?”

“No, it is truly me,” OMCOM said. “The one you used to call Planet OMCOM.

 

In the book, the text in bold is actually typeset in Courier New 11 point bold, OMCOM’s original font. Sneaky, huh? Oh well, it amuses me, at least.

 

Entry 3-163: June 7, 2015

Privacy concerns

 

In the 35th century world of Rome’s Revolution, all of the 24 chromosome Vuduri are mind-connected and part of the Overmind. What is also mentioned several times throughout the novel is that other Vuduri can look into your mind and therefore there is no such thing as privacy.

 

In fact, because everyone is always looking into everyone else’s business, if you had an original idea and for some reason wanted to make sure you got credit for it, you had to go to mind court and plead your case.

 

Well, Rome solved all of that by being able to disconnect from the Overmind when she was Cesdiud (cast out). She learned to rather enjoy the concept of privacy within her own thoughts. When she became reconnected in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution, she was not about to give that up. She very quickly learned how to connect and disconnect at will so she could have privacy when she wanted it.

 

Just one small snag… Aason, her unborn child. She forgot he could listen in to her thoughts using not one but two modalities. Here is the little scene when this hit her:

 

Rome put her hands to her head and moved it back and forth. She was trying to see if it felt different but it did not. Finally, she gave up and just stood on her balcony watching Mockay rise on its mad dash across the heavens. It made her heart race to know that she would soon be speaking to Rei and it made it ache at the same time. Aason kicked her gently.

“Is it good news?” he asked.

“Were you listening in?” asked Rome in her mind.

“Yes, Mother. I could not help it.”

“It is fine, baby, and yes, it is very good news. I will be able to speak to your father very soon.”

“Will I be allowed to speak to him as well?” the baby asked.

“It would seem that way, son.”

“Oh good, Mother. I cannot wait.”

“Nor can I, baby, nor can I,” answered Aason’s mother.

 

Obviously, this was her child so having him listen in was of lesser concern. Nonetheless there were times when she did not want even Aason listening (ahem, like in the bedroom), so she learned to turn off all of her broadcast mechanisms when she wanted to.

 

In our world, we all have privacy concerns. Every search via Google is logged, your IP traffic is tracked and all the meta-data of daily texts, credit card purchases and cell phone calls are probably being logged by the NSA. But at least we can think privately. Right?

 

Unless you write a blog, then, of course there is no such thing as private thought. Ha, ha.

 

Entry 3-164: June 8, 2015

The test is over, part 1

 

Several days ago, I gave you the scenes where Rome’s “cell-phone in the head” was coming on line. The posts were called Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3. Well, once MINIMCOM figured out how to hook Rome and Rei together, this became a very useful tool. However, there is a first time for everything and in this case, Rei had no idea that Rome had acquired this ability. This event occurred as Rei and Fridone were sitting on the back of one of the war wagons heading toward an unavoidable confrontation with the Vuduri:

 

“Because they are Garecei Ti Essessoni,” said Fridone. “That title is not just because of the Great Dying. It may not apply to you but it is the trait, the hallmark of your generation.”

“I think you are right,” said Rei. “I think the Great Dying was going to happen one way or another. But the mandasurte, they should know better.”

“Puh,” Fridone said. “The mandasurte think for themselves when times are good. When times are hard, they are just like the Vuduri. They listen to whoever speaks the loudest, not the smartest.”

“The Vuduri just think with one mind,” Rei said. “That is different.”

Not as different as you think,” came a beautiful voice in his head.

ould not believe it. “Romey?” Rei said out loud. “Is that you?”

“Who are you speaking to,” Fridone asked in Vuduri.

“Shh…” Rei said to Fridone.

Yes, mau emir. It is I,” she replied.

“You are all right? Are you my Romey?” Rei asked.

Yes, I am your Romey,” she replied.

Rei laughed out loud. “How…how are you doing this?” he said. “You are in my head?”

You gave me the magic pill for my back,” she thought to him. “MINIMCOM says that it has been coming on for a while. There is now a telephone in our heads. When we used the bands, we must have been practicing and not known it. Plus, I have had more experience than you in these matters. I had my blece and asdolada. It was just a question of time. So tell me, how are you? How is my father?”

“I’m fine. He’s fine,” Rei turned to Fridone who shrugged and waved. “Your father says hello. So how are you, sweetheart? How do you feel?”

I am fine. They have treated my body and Aason has promised to wait as long as he can. I am not in nearly as much pain.”

“Aason? You’ve talked to him?”

Oh yes. We talk now. He is a nice boy.”

 

Remember, Rei was not there when Rome first made contact with her unborn child. Tomorrow, more of the conversation where Rome and Rei try and figure out how to get back together.

 

Entry 3-165: June 9, 2015

The test is over, part 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you a little bit of the conversation between Rome and Rei in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution. This was the first time that Rei had spoken to her since she had been reconnected to the Overmind of Deucado. Rei thought he had lost the love of his life forever. But, no, she “sounded” normal, as normal as a voice in your head can sound. Rei was floored by the fact that Rome had had discussions with their unborn child:

 

“Aason? You’ve talked to him?”

Oh yes. We talk now. He is a nice boy.”

“That’s fantastic. And a little bit weird. So Rome…”

Yes, mau emir?”

“How, what happened back there? Wait!” Rei said. “Are they listening in?”

No, dear. They can only hear what I want them to hear. I am in control of my mind.”

“But, honey, when you turned away from me. I thought…”

I had to do that so that they would not kill you. I had to get you out of there for your own safety. I did not know the limits of my power and that was the only way. They thought they had me so I pushed the order back on them. They did not question that it was from the Overmind.”

“What do you mean?” Rei asked, thoroughly confused.

No one has ever heard another voice in their head before, besides the Overmind. It was all I could do to let you go. As it was, I think the Overmind just let it slip past. It could have overridden me when I passed out.”

“Passed out? What do you mean? What happened?” Rei asked, concern rising in his voice.

I will explain everything when I see you. For now, just know that the Overmind and I have had some discussions. It listens to me now. It just never had anyone to talk to before. It has seen the error in its ways.”

”That’s unbelievable. You versus the Overmind?” Rei said admiringly.

Not versus. We talk,” Rome said.

 

So now a lot of things have become clearer to Rei. He now understood why Rome had him kicked out the Vuduri compound and also why the Vuduri had not attacked until now. But it takes two sides to make a war and while the Vuduri may have held back, Captain Keller and the rest of the Essessoni (or at least the new Ark Lords) had one thing on their mind and that was to fight.

 

So how do you stop a war when all the two parties want to do is fight?

 

Entry 3-166: June 10, 2015

How to stop a war, part 1

 

Yesterday, I showed you Rei’s reintroduction to the “new” Rome in the middle part of Rome’s Revolution. This version of Rome had a rapport with the Overmind of Deucado and had some influence with the bodiless entity which meant she controlled the Vuduri to some degree.

 

You have to understand when I was writing this book, I knew the climax of Part 2 would be the confrontation on the plains near the eastern shore. What I did not know was how the heck they were going to stop the war. I kind of introduced the Deucadons because I thought they’d make for a richer planetary history. But that random act allowed me to set up the final twist. Here you will see the plan forming:

 

Not versus the Overmind. We talk,” Rome said.

Even so, how is it going to make things right? The Vuduri seem so ready to hurt others.”

No more hurt. The Vuduri now do as I tell them. The Overmind allows it.”

“You mean, like, you’re in charge now?” Rei asked, trying to understand.

Not exactly,” Rome thought. “More of a meeting of the minds, if you will pardon my pun.”

“Well, Rome, the people here…they’re crazy too. They mean to attack you, the Vuduri. They are coming to kill all the Vuduri.”

The Overmind knows this. How long until you get here?” Rome asked.

“We’ve got a long way to go. It won’t be until after dawn,” Rei replied.

We will be ready for them. We have a plan.”

“No, Rome, you don’t understand,” Rei protested. “They’re bringing weapons. Some really nasty ones. Essessoni weapons. Estar was right. I don’t think the Vuduri here have ever really seen the likes of these.”

Can you stop them? The Overmind here intends to set them free. There is no reason for anyone to get hurt.”

“I tried, honey,” Rei said. “They don’t listen to me. It’s like they are crazed or something.”

If they will not stop on their own, the Overmind has the power to stop them. Violently if need be. We must not let it come to that.”

“The only thing I can tell you is that Captain Keller promised me he wouldn’t fire the first shot. Is there anything we can do with that?” Rei asked.

I do not know,” Rome replied. “We must find a way to talk some sense into them before someone is killed. I do not want anyone to die. I do not want our son to die. I want to be with you.”

 

It sure seems like they are talking themselves into believing the situation is even more hopeless than it really was. Tomorrow, I will show you an innocent statement by Rome that causes a cascade of events, leading to stopping the war before it starts.

 

Entry 3-167: June 11, 2015

How to stop a war, part 2

 

Yesterday, the conversation between Rei and Rome in the middle part of Ark Lords wanted a war above all else. It was a fundamental requirement that they establish their dominance of the planet no matter what the cost.

 

Rome has insights into the psyche of the Vuduri. Rei has insights into the psyche of the Essessoni. They’re both smart people. They have to be able to come up with something. I know I couldn’t and I’m the author! So here is the moment when Rome says says that causes Rei to say a-ha!:

 

“And god, do I want to be with you. But, if you’re part of the Overmind now. How can we be together?”

He could hear Rome laugh in his head. To Rei, it sounded like wind chimes made of the purest crystal.

I am only part when I want to be. I turn it off when I wish. Like now. It is just you and I.”

“Did you know this was going to happen?” Rei asked. “Did you know that you would be able to do this?”

The ability to speak to you in your head?” Rome answered. “No, that was unexpected. But the ability to stand up to the Overmind? To stay as myself? I was, let us say, confident.”

“But honey, why didn’t you tell me?” Rei asked, sounding melancholy.

I asked you to trust me, remember? That should have been enough.”

“Yes, you’re right,” Rei replied, brightening. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I should never have doubted you.”

I understand. And I am sorry that I caused you any pain. I just had to make sure you would be safe. This was the only way.”

“Well, I’m safe right now,” Rei said, “but it looks like things are going to get out of hand pretty quickly. Can we just leave this place? Go somewhere together?”

I would love to but we cannot leave now. We must see this through. You know this.”

“I know. I just want the war to be over before it starts. I want somebody to beat some sense into all these stupid, stupid people. Before anybody gets hurt,” Rei said angrily.

Then let us find a way. I know how to stop the Vuduri. I know how to stop the Ibbrassati. What I do not know how to do is stop your people, the Essessoni. I think all they want is blood,” Rome observed.

“Yes. They think they should own this planet. They’ll stop at nothing to take control,” Rei spat out.

Rei could hear Rome sigh in his mind. “That is all they understand,” she said. “Force. And authority. They need to answer to somebody. It is too bad there is no such thing as the rightful rulers of the planet. They would understand that. That would make things so easy.”

 

Tomorrow, turning the “a-ha” into an actual plan of action.

 

Entry 3-168: June 12, 2015

How to stop a war, part 3

 

Yesterday, I showed you how Rome and Rei were trying to think their way out of what seemed to be an unavoidable confrontation in the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. I highlighted (or put in bold) Rome’s seemingly innocent comment that she wished they could find the true rulers of the planet to cause both sides to step down. This cause Rei to put two and two together:

 

“Hmm,” Rei said. “It’s funny you put it like that. I met some people who might actually qualify for that title.”

Who? Where?” Rome asked.

“You’re sure the Overmind cannot hear us?” Rei asked.

Yes, of course,” Rome replied.

“Down the river. They are what’s left of another Ark mission. They’ve been here for over 500 years. I think that pretty much qualifies them as the rightful heirs to the planet.”

Oh,” Rome said pensively. “The Overmind made reference to such people but could not piece together their origin. It never occurred to it to just ask. I did not understand. And these people? Where are they now?”

“They live underground in a giant cave,” Rei said. “Their society was ruined by an asteroid that hit a couple hundred years ago. That’s what made them go underground in the first place. And now they live in fear of the Vuduri as well. The Vuduri killed several of them with their goofy no-technology rule. But I’m not sure how much they could help. There aren’t that many of them.”

We do not need many,” Rome said.

“What are you thinking?” Rei asked.

Rome told him of her plan.

“That’s a great idea, honey,” Rei said, admiration in his voice.

Do you think these people…?”

“I call them the Deucadons.”

Very well, the Deucadons. Do you think they will go along with it?”

“I don’t know,” Rei said. “But if it means they could come to the surface when they want, even if it is just to get some supplies, without getting blown to bits, I bet they would.”

Do you know how to find them?”

“Yeah,” Rei said. “At least I think I do. I know where to start. I can get MINIMCOM to come and get me and we can go try to find them.”

Then go do it. Go pick them up.”

“Rome, I’ll need you to come too. You’re going to have to convince them that they will be safe. They do not trust the Vuduri. Besides, I want you with me just in case things don’t go right when the time comes.”

 

I guess it never occurred to Rei that Rome might have really turned and he was selling out the Deucadons. Oh well, it never occurred to me either. The awesome and wonderful Rome has to believe that Rei can pull it off because she has no other choice. Tomorrow, the pact is signed.

 

Entry 3-169: June 13, 2015

How to stop a war, part 4

 

Yesterday, I showed you how Rome’s seemingly innocent statement evolved into an actual disarmament plan in the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. And it really was going to work. I knew it because I wrote the book and I need the dynamic duo to head on back to Earth for their confrontation with the true evil, MASAL.

 

All they had to do was to get their affairs in order and execute. Hopefully that didn’t mean their execution. Here is the final part of that scene:

 

All right. I will come with you. You can pick me up shortly, but I want you to wait just a little while longer,” Rome said in his thoughts.

“Why, sweetheart?” he asked.

I need to rest just a little more. Also, my work here with the Overmind is not quite done. I promise. I will let you know when it is time.”

“Anything you say, honey. I can’t wait to be with you again.” His heart leaped in his chest at the thought.

And I cannot wait to be with you, either, mau emir.”

“I’ve missed you so much, Rome. My heart aches all the time,” said Rei.

I have missed you too, mau emir. It is as if a part of me is gone. I am no longer whole.”

“So…has it been long enough? Can I come get you now?”

Rome laughed gently inside his head. “Soon, my love, soon.”

“All right, Rome. I’ll be ready.”

Switching on his connection to MINIMCOM, Rei thought to himself, “Hey MINIMCOM, I need you to be on standby. We need to be ready when the time comes to go get Rome. She’s like the Queen of the Vuduri now.”

“At your service, sir,” MINIMCOM replied, a bit sarcastically.

“Wise guy!” thought Rei.

I like that name, Queen of the Vuduri,” replied Rome, laughing inside of Rei’s thoughts.

Rei just shook his head then laughed to himself. If only the world could see inside his brain. It had to be the craziest place in the entire universe. He tugged at Fridone’s shirt, whispered his plan and at the first opportunity, they hopped off of the troop carrier even as it was moving relentlessly toward the Vuduri compound.

“Where are you going?” asked one of the would-be colonists, seeing them jump off.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Rei shouted back to him. He pointed to Fridone. “He’s coming with me to watch for ‘falling blankets.’ We’ll catch up in a minute.”

Before the man could protest, Rei and Fridone darted into the woods. That was the last anybody saw of them.

 

Everything was in place. Now was the time to stitch the two separate plot-lines back into a unified whole. One last note, the section highlighted bold about the Queen of the Vuduri, you will recall that I did sneak that into the book but I just never told anybody.

 

Entry 3-170: June 14, 2015

Tales of the Vuduri #900

 

Yesterday, I published my 900th article! That’s a lot of articles, I think. I’ve noticed there is a slight overlap once in a while with an article I wrote a long time ago and one that I’ve written recently. Mostly that is because the articles I wrote early on tended to be shorter and didn’t really plumb the depths of the concepts presented. That was back when I was still getting up early and trying to figure out what to write about each day. A lot of pressure!

 

Now that I have settled into my routine of discoursing about whatever topics pop into my head, a block at a time, I have the flexibility to really go into more detail to explain to you why I did something or made a character act a certain way. I’ve notice that as I’ve droned on, more often than not the articles will be part 1 and part 2 and sometimes more, instead of trying to get it all out in a single post.

 

Well, the 35th century is still 1400 years away so I have a bit more time to explain myself before the future is upon us. I find books and movies that pick actual dates to be amusing. The author picked a time when they thought nobody would be around to examine it in detail but nothing stops Father Time.

 

Think about George Orwell’s 1984. It was famous at the time and introduced the concept of Big Brother. Well 1984 is safely in the rear view mirror but Big Brother really is here. Just watch the movie Citizen Four and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey also was a bold prediction of the future but that, too, is in the rear view mirror (actually, my Camaro has a backup camera now). Pan Am isn’t even in business any more, let alone running shuttles up to the Hilton orbiting the Earth.

 

Oh well, I think placing the story behind Rome’s Revolution 14 centuries into the future buys me a little time. Thanks for sticking with me, by the way. I gots lots more coming.

 

 

Entry 3-171: June 15, 2015

Galaxy Magazine

 

Long before I embarked upon my writing career, I used to be a voracious reader. As I’ve mentioned before, first it was dinosaurs then Greek mythology but once I stumbled across science fiction, that was the end.

 

When you think about it, there is something science fictiony about dinosaurs and even mythology so I guess I’ve been into fact-based speculation since the beginning.

 

During my middle phase of reading, as I was gearing up to become a writer myself, I subscribed to some magazines which came monthly. These included Galaxy, If and Analog. I wasn’t so wild about Analog and If eventually got merged into Galaxy. Each month’s issue brought me the most amazing stories, a nice mix of famous and well-established writers and some fresh new names.

 

I thought that if I studied their styles and professionalism, I might be able to get published as well. That was really your only route to find an agent was to get published and make a name for yourself.

 

I practiced and practiced and sent in a lot of stories. In fact, one of the main reasons I acquired my first electric typewriter was to create manuscripts suitable for sending in.

 

All of my stories got rejected. The first bunch were accompanied by a pink or gold slip that said, in a word, no. But by the end, the last story I ever submitted, I got a hand-written letter from the editor telling me that I was very close and to keep submitting. It was the finest rejection letter I ever received! Why do I tell you this? Stay tuned until tomorrow when I tell you about the stories of my youth.

 

If you want to read more about Galaxy, you can click here to read the Wikipedia article. Here is a link to all the covers.

 

I still have all my old copies. Here’s one cover so you get an idea of what I mean:

 

 

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 3-173: June 17, 2015

Sage advice

 

Yesterday, I briefly described my journey as a hand-scrawler to a typewriter-driven demon teller of tales. I truly believed that the only way to get published was get yourself published enough times to gain the notice of an agent or publisher to sign you to a contract. I decided the quickest way to achieve that would be to write short stories and send them into science fiction magazines like If and Galaxy. I never sent anything into Analog because I always thought they were too hoity-toity.

 

Also, yesterday, I recounted to you my very “best” story entitled Mars, Get Ready which actually landed me a hand-written rejection notice. Woo-hoo! Well, because of the atmosphere on Venus, one of the elements was based upon the fact that the Venusians did not distinguish between thinking and speaking. Whoever said what was what you thought and you repeated it. The leaders of society were simply those with the loudest voice.

 

Well, a funny thing happened. In the middle part of Rome’s Revolution, during the pivotal scene when Rei and Fridone are aboard the war wagon on the journey to engage the Vuduri in a war that neither side wanted, they were talking just to distract themselves. Here is a tiny piece of that conversation. Fridone was saying that the mandasurte were not as independent as Rei thought:

 

“I can see now why she loves you. You are a good man, Rei,” Fridone said. “I can see why she likes to talk to you, too.”

“Nobody else does. Why will not any of these people listen to me?” Rei asked.

“Most of them, they cannot change their nature,” Fridone offered. “They are who they are whether we like it or not.”

“I can understand the frustration of the Ibbrassati,” Rei said. “But my people just got here. How can they be so ready to fight so soon? They are so, so, bloodthirsty!”

“Because they are Garecei Ti Essessoni,” said Fridone. “That title is not just because of the Great Dying. It may not apply to you but it is the trait, the hallmark of your generation.”

“I think you are right,” said Rei. “I think the Great Dying was going to happen one way or another. But the mandasurte, they should know better.”

“Puh,” Fridone said. “The mandasurte think for themselves when times are good. When times are hard, they are just like the Vuduri. They listen to whoever speaks the loudest, not the smartest.”

“The Vuduri just think with one mind,” Rei said. “That is different.”

 

Look at that sentence in bold. I lifted it directly from Mars, Get Ready. I ask you, is it plagiarism if you steal from yourself?

 

Entry 3-174: June 18, 2015

My motorcyle, part 1

 

This little vignette has absolutely nothing to do with science fiction or my Rome’s Revolution trilogy. It is simply a true story and because of the treasure trove of materials that my son presented to me, I found the spec sheet of a motorcycle I once owned. Big deal, you say, we’ve all had a motorcycle at one time in our life. Maybe that is true but I wasn’t allowed to own one!

 

Here is the true story: I was attending the University of Michigan. It was the fall of 1971. I had just moved into a co-op called the Lenny Bruce House and my roommate was a fellow who hailed from the upper peninsula of Michigan. He had a dirt bike. He let me ride it. I loved it. I had a little money saved up so one Saturday, he and I went to the Suzuki shop and I bought the motorcycle shown down below. I rode it home. It was awesome!

 

I called my parents to tell them about it but the conversation went a little different then I imagined:

 

Me: Hi Mom

Mom: Hi Mike, how is it going?

blah, blah, blah

Me: Hey Mom, what would you think about me getting a motorcycle?

Mom: Absolutely not! If I ever found out you had a motorcycle, I’d kill you!

Me: Oh…

 

Now being the devious person that I am, I interpreted her second statement as: as long as she doesn’t know I have one, it’s OK. Not really the spirit of the conversation but I did follow it to the letter.

 

The next few years were fun. I’d ride the motorcycle, a dirt bike really, around town. My roommate and I would go to the woods and ride. I only was injured severely once and only nearly got killed once.

 

The injury was when we were coming down a hill and I didn’t see a stump and I hit it with the front wheel. I went flying over the handle bars and landed on my back. I was OK until I looked up and saw my 200 pounds of motorcyle up in the air and coming straight down at me. I had just enough time to roll slightly and the thing hit me in the hip. That sucker hurt me for about two years but I’m all better now.

 

Tomorrow, dodging bullets and death!

 

Entry 3-175: June 19, 2015

My motorcyle, part 2

 

Yesterday, I introduced you to the devious method by which I came to own a dirt bike for many years, despite my mother’s insistence that I not do so. I also told you about the one time I got really hurt. There was also one time when I should have been killed.

 

My roommate from my sophomore year and I were riding our dirt bikes in some fields and came up over the crest of hill and I hit a bump just as we hit the top. While I normally wore a bubble face shield, when we were riding in the woods, I’d wear goggles. Well the bump caused my goggles to slip down over my eyes so that I couldn’t see. I quickly kicked the shift, hoping to downshift but accidentally put the bike into neutral. I was flying down the hill and pulled the goggles up and saw I was headed straight for a rusted out abandoned car at about 30 miles an hour. I wrenched the handlebars to the left and to this day, I don’t know how I didn’t crash into that car.

 

My parents came to visit me several times over the years. Each time, I would take my bike and ride it over to my friends Bob’s apartment and leave it in their parking lot until my parents went home. One time, this almost backfired on me. Because we were friends, my parents offered, one time, to take Bob and his girlfriend Ellen (who was also my friend) out to dinner with us. We went over to Bob’s apartment but they were not home at the time. So we had to stand around the parking lot, waiting for Bob to get back. So get this, my Dad walks over and climbs up on my motorcycle and starts bouncing up and down. I didn’t say a word!

 

Bob finally came home and we went up to his apartment and my orange helmet was sitting on Bob’s floor. My Dad looked at it and said, oh, is that your motorcycle in the parking lot? Bob hemmed and hawed but I don’t think my parents noticed. Phew.

 

Finally, one time, I had come home to visit and my Dad and I were standing outside and a friend of his came over on his motorcycle which was a very powerful street bike. He asked me if I had ever ridden one before and I said yeah. He asked me if I wanted to take a spin around the block and I said sure. So I put on the helmet, took it around the block and then pulled into the drive, turned it off, swung the kickstand and got off.

 

My father’s friend who had been watching me ride turned my father and said, “He’s got a bike at school.” How the hell did he know? I said, no, but my friend did and I got to ride it sometimes. My Dad passed it off as silly and that was the end of it. But, as we all know, truth always finds a way.

 

Tomorrow, the truth finally comes out.

 

 

Entry 3-176: June 20, 2015

My motorcyle, part 3

 

Yesterday, I told you about my several close encounters where my parents nearly found out that I owned a motorcycle. I bought it in 1971 and successfully kept it a secret past graduation at Michigan and took it with me to graduate school in Syracuse in 1975.

 

It was great. It got 75 miles to the gallon. I was able to ride it year round because even though it snowed a lot in Syracuse, I got great traction because it had full knobbies, front and back. I wore a down coat and I wore a bubble helmet and a scarf so I wasn’t too cold. I only got knocked off the road a couple of times by cars who didn’t see me. Didn’t hurt much.

 

I kept that thing all the way through the end of graduate school. Every time my parents came to visit, I just moved it from beneath the stairwell next to our apartment to across the parking lot, behind the dumpster. Piece of cake.

 

Anyway, in 1980, I had just finished successfully defending my doctoral thesis, meaning I was going to get my Ph.D. and the whole gang took me out mid-day for a celebratory beer. I guess in all the uproar, I forgot to call my Mom and tell her I had passed. She called the lab to find out my status and one of my fellow students answered the phone. The conversation went like this:

 

Mom: Hello, this is Ruth Brachman, is Michael there?

Lionel: I don’t know. Let me check.

(He goes away then comes back)

Lionel: No, I don’t see his bike.

Mom: He rides a bicycle to school?

Lionel: No, his motorcycle.

Mom (gurgling): His motorcycle?!?!

 

This is before cell phones but somehow, she tracked me down to whatever watering hole we were attending. The conversation went like this:

 

Mom: Michael, how did it go?

Me: It went great. I passed!

Mom: Congratulations.

Me: Thanks and sorry about not calling. It’s just that we rushed out of there right after it was over. I was going to call you as soon as I got a chance.

Mom: That’s OK. I’m just happy that you passed.

Me: Thanks.

Mom: By the way, one of your co-workers told me you had a motorcycle. Is that true? [Dun, dun, dun]

Me: (long silence then)Uh, yeah.

Mom: Why didn’t you tell me?

Me: Uh, well, you said if I ever told you I had one, you’d kill me.

Mom pauses for a moment. Then she says: How long have you had it?

Me: Uh, nine years???

My Mom made a screaming sound and I don’t remember the rest of the conversation.

 

Well, at that point, I was married and had a baby so she couldn’t very well tell me that I had to get rid of it. After we moved to Wilmette, I had the sudden realization that I was married and had a baby and maybe riding a motorcycle wasn’t the most responsible thing to do. So I sold it.

 

I’ve never owned one since, honest! I’ve ridden a couple more here and there but for right now, I’m motorcycle-free. Maybe some day I’ll get a street bike, for fun. But if I do, I promise you I will tell my Mom right away.

 

Entry 3-177: June 21, 2015

This little girl

 

Enough about my motorcycle. Back to science fiction and Rome’s Revolution. After Rome and Rei had conspired on how to leverage the Deucadon’s presence into a truce, Rome still had to tie up loose ends with the Overmind. As she was doing so, the Overmind had grown healthy enough to realize the irony of its situation. Remember, this was before I squashed the three VIRUS 5 books down into the single modern version. At this point, I still thought the Overmind of Earth had a hand in the planned genocide of the mandasurte, that is, death by asteroid. Rome is reminding the Overmind of the exact sequence of events that had to go down:

 

“It took you to show this to me,” said the Overmind. “I am getting healthy now. I will do the right thing here. But this awareness, to show me, you are unique.”

“I do not have to be. You have the power to change all of that. Just as I taught Pegus, so too, you must allow him to teach isolation to all of the communicants. You must teach all of them how to turn the connection off and on,” thought Rome.

“I will do this. I will follow this course,” replied the Overmind. “However, it reminds me that I have something humorous to tell you.”

“And what is that?” Rome asked.

“When I received my orders from what I believed to be the Overmind of Earth concerning your dispatch when you first arrived here, I was told only to destroy the Essessoni. The Overmind of Earth was not worried about you at all. We were to destroy the Ark and its contents. Your fate was irrelevant, of no real concern.”

“Why is that humorous?” Rome asked.

“Had the Overmind of Earth known of your powers of persuasion, it would have known to fear you more than anything else. It should have ordered me to destroy you, not the Essessoni.”

Rome smiled. “I am nothing to fear. I only speak the truth.”

“Yes, I know. And that is what the Onsiras fear the most. If the truth ever gets out, all its plans will be lost.”

“Do you regret this?” Rome asked.

“No, it is simply an observation. I am glad that you and I got to speak. I am glad that you have helped me see my true position here. I think you saved me and all the Vuduri here. I was sick, as you said, and now I see the path to health. I just think it is amusing that a little girl like you is more powerful than all the armies of old Earth.”

 

I, too, thought it funny that tiny woman, barely five feet tall, could end up being the most influential person in the worlds of Man. But there you have it. Rome’s wit and wisdom was more powerful that the intellect made up of all the minds of all the humans on Earth. And she started a revolution!

 

Entry 3-178: June 22, 2015

Love is universal, part 1

 

As we reach out into the Galaxy, I am certain we will eventually encounter other life-forms. Otherwise, what would be the point of having a whole universe to ourselves? So let’s say we do encounter aliens. I’ve written before about how all aliens will look like us, that is bipeds, four to eight feet tall with two arms and two legs and a head with the sensory apparatus built in.

 

Even I’m realistic enough to know that it won’t always be true. In fact, it may never be true. But even so, just postulate that we come across aliens. And just for kicks, let’s say they don’t want to eat us or kill us or conquer our planet. Let’s say they are intelligent and know there is enough room in our galaxy for everybody.

 

What characteristics will we have in common ignoring the physical? The fundamental requirements for life are ingestion of food, respiration, excretion and procreation. Everything else is negotiable. Shelter, wealth, prized accumulation of material possessions, I think these things will once become less important once we have unlimited free energy. I think what each species treasures will be unfathomable. We only need respect their beliefs and wants and we’ll be OK.

 

But if each intelligent species has children and raises those children, I think the one universal constant across all sentient life will be love. Love of family, love of children. Even in the world of Rome’s Revolution, the Vuduri recognized this. When Rome was teaching Rei how to speak Vuduri, she told him that they had five different words for love:

 

“I will give you another example,” Rome said. “OMCOM told me you only have one word for love. We have five.”

“What are the five?” Rei asked.

“Egeba, estirga, volia, aris and emir.”

“What do those mean?”

“Egeba is love of essence, the extreme form of liking something, of fondness,” Rome said kindly.

“As in ‘I love ice cream?’” Rei asked.

“Yes, exactly, I think,” replied Rome. “And estirga is love of family, children. For example, I would say to my mother, ‘Au da estirga’ if I was so inclined.”

“OK, that one I get,” Rei offered.

“Volia is love of friends, companionship. And then there is aris. Aris is, well,” Rome blushed. “Physical.” She took Rei’s hand and placed it high on her thigh. “Understand?”

“Yes, I understand. So what is the last one? Emir did you say?” Rei asked.

“Yes, emir. Emir is…you and me.” She reached over with her free hand and placed it on his cheek gently. “It is all of the others combined into one. You would be mau emir, my love.”

 

So how much of this can be overlaid on alien races? More tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-179: June 23, 2015

Love is universal, part 2

 

Yesterday, I began to lay out the case for love being the universal constant across sentient species. Rome enumerated the flavors of love because Vuduri is a more precise language than English.

 

The first was egeba, the extreme form of liking something, of fondness. We can imagine that all species will like some things and hate others. I like to be warm, not cold. Maybe other species prefer one environment or type of food over another. Seems simple enough.

 

The second one was estirga, love of family and children. If a sentient species has children and wants to see them survive, they would have to care for them. I know I drove my mother crazy but to this day, she still tells me she loves me.

 

The next word the Vuduri use is volia, the love of friends, companionship. I’m sure you have friends, male and female, that you could tell them that you loved them and it wouldn’t be interpreted in any way but good. Unless the aliens are solitary creatures, they probably have compatriots that they like and some that they don’t like so they have volia too.

 

The next item of business is sex. Assuming the aliens do not treat procreation as a purely intellectual, biological act, the need to procreate stimulates certain behaviors in people so we all experience aris once in a while. It’s why we go to bars and have one night stands. It is the foundation of Tinder and Grinder. No guarantees the aliens will have the equivalent and maybe they have progressed beyond lust, but if not, they experience may aris as well.

 

Finally, Rome proclaimed that humans, or at least, she experienced emir which would be a mature, deep love of a mate. It is the difference between loving someone and being in love. Rome loves Rei with her heart, mind, body and soul. Maybe aliens feel that way too.

 

Tomorrow, my stab at making love universal.

 

Entry 3-180: June 24, 2015

Love is universal, part 3

 

Yesterday, I laid out the case that aliens may experience love in one form or another or maybe in all the forms we experience. The very basis of the motivation of the K’val in The Milk Run for capturing and killing humans was because of their love of their family. I wrote about this in a previous article describing the K’vals s’aploves which were special organs, specifically designed to foster fond feelings for your family.

 

Now consider the Overmind. It had just spent 48 hours in intense mind-to-mind discussions with Rome, a heroine in the truest sense, who was both beautiful and smart and caring. Now the Overmind is an alien intelligence. But guess what happened? Here is a little snippet of that conversation

 

“Do you regret this?” Rome asked.

“No, it is simply an observation. I am glad that you and I got to speak. I am glad that you have helped me see my true position here. I think you saved me and all the Vuduri here. I was sick, as you said, and now I see the path to health. I just think it is amusing that a little girl like you is more powerful than all the armies of old Earth.”

Rome laughed out loud. What a wonderful feeling it was, to be able to laugh. She continued. “As we have discussed, it is the way of the Overmind to see things one way and one way only. Its basic nature is to eliminate dissent by eliminating discussion. An Overmind’s final decision flawed or not, never gets challenged, even in the light of new information.”

“I believe we had what used to be known as tunnel vision,” thought the Overmind.

“So now is the time to reach out, to come out of the tunnel,” Rome said. “Reach out to the mandasurte, to the Essessoni, to all.”

“You know they think I am the enemy,” thought the Overmind.

“We will show them you are not. We will show them that you want to learn and that they can be your teachers. They will teach you to love.”

“I understand,” said the Overmind. “I want to feel love. In fact, I do feel love. I feel it from you. And for this, I thank you, Rome.”

“You are welcome,” Rome thought.

“There is one other small problem,” said the Overmind.

“And what is that?” Rome asked.

The Overmind grew silent.

“What?” Rome asked. “Tell me.”

“To the extent that I understand the concept, I believe I am in love with you.

“That is a very kind thought,” Rome said, blushing in her mind. “But I think we will keep that to ourselves. I can see where that might make my husband jealous.”

“We would not want that to happen, now would we?” said the Overmind acerbically. If it could have winked, it would have.

“No,” thought Rome then she straightened herself up. “Speaking of which, I am going to call my husband now.”

“I understand,” said the Overmind. “Goodbye and good luck. I hope I survive all of this.”

“You are so maudlin. This is not the end,” Rome thought. “Always remember that. This is just the beginning.”

“Yes, I can see that. Farewell, Rome.”

 

So, to that the extent that Overmind was an alien, and we know that the K’val are aliens, we can say that the one constant, the one universal truth, will be love. And that is what John Lennon told us, “All you need is love. Love is all you need.”

 

 

Entry 3-181: June 25, 2015

The Wall

 

Warning: This may be the most politically incorrect article I will ever post. If not, it is certainly insensitive.

 

Outside of science fiction, everybody ages. Some people age well. They stay out of the sun, don’t smoke or maybe they just have good genes. I think certain ethnicities age different than others. I think that people of Asian descent and African-Americans age more gracefully than their Caucasian brothers.

 

You may or may not agree but I think men seem to age more gracefully than women. That is, they age gradually and continuously. When a man gets a touch of gray hair or a receding hairline, nobody thinks much of it at all. But women, they seem to defy aging up to a certain point then suddenly they drop over the edge. They catch up and then surpass men in looking old.

 

I don’t know what you call it but I call it The Wall. I didn’t make that up. You can click here to read somebody else’s opinion of it. They say some women hit The Wall and hit it hard.

 

When I was in college, I dated a girl who broke my heart repeatedly. If I told you all the stories of the things she did, you wouldn’t believe it. You can read about her in my very first novel entitled Future Past. It is only a lightly fictionalized version of my dating past. However, while I may have forgiven most of them, this woman in particular was so cruel, I had to write her in the most unflattering way and I used The Wall to put her down. In the book, I called her Katlyn but that was not her real name:

 

Katlyn walked up to me and held her hand out. I shook it then I realized what was wrong. She didn’t look like Katlyn at all; she looked like her grandmother. Her eyes were puffy with great dark circles under them. The skin on her face wasn’t lying right. There were deep creases starting just under her high cheekbones and circling around her mouth. Her lips, which had always been puffy and pouty, looked like they had been stung by one too many bees. She had been a beautiful girl. The woman standing before me looked like she had been beaten up. Her shoulders were slumped like she carried the weight of the world. Katlyn just turned and walked away. She never said a word.

 

Am I mean or what? Maybe some day I’ll recount all the things she did and you will see I was justified in my literary revenge.

 

Entry 3-182: June 26, 2015

Yes, The Wall

 

Yesterday, I posted my most politically incorrect article about women and aging and how I used the concept of “The Wall” to stylistically get my revenge on a particular girl who hurt me and hurt me bad. Repeatedly. I decided I would give you a little more detail on this and how it even ties in full circle to my motorcycle. I met this girl my freshman year at Michigan. She lived in my dorm and we ran across each other’s path several times. Since nobody at Michigan knew I was socially inept, I kept it to myself and first made friends with her and then later fooled myself into thinking she was my girlfriend. This went on over a two year span.

 

During that two years, one time she disappeared for the weekend and only by accident did I find out it was because her high school boyfriend had come to Ann Arbor to visit. She forgot to mention it.

 

One time, I “borrowed” my freshman roommate’s helmet and scooter keys for a joyride (see, I told you the motorcycle would come in) and by accident, I came across my supposed girlfriend, in the Arboretum, kissing one of her professors. What? I didn’t even know she was dating him. I guess she forgot to mention it.

 

The following summer, she said wouldn’t it be neat if we both got summer jobs and stayed on campus and could spend the summer together. So I did. I found a job and made living arrangements and right at the last second, she told me she was going away to work for McGovern in Philadelphia, where I’m from. How ironic. Even more unbelievably, my mom ran into her walking down the street one day, holding the hand of the guy who took her virginity. She forgot to mention that.

 

The following year, she went to live in a co-op and while we dated, one time, she was late so I walked up to her co-op, only to discover she was living with some guy! I guess she forgot to mention that.

 

I searched the whole building and found her having a heated argument with somebody. I waited until she was done but she flew out of the phone booth and down the steps before I could even speak. I followed her down the steps, only to catch a car driving up, screeching to a halt. She ran up to the guy who was getting out and hugged and kissed him. Oh, another boyfriend. I guess she forgot to mention it.

 

Well, that was the end. I ran into her one time our senior year but by that point the infatuation had ended. I cannot say that I ever forgave her. I looked her up on Google one time and couldn’t believe how poorly she had aged. Don’t blame me. It was The Wall.

 

P.S. If you want to read the lightly fictionalized version of my encounters, you can click here to read the full essay on Katlyn.

 

Entry 3-183: June 27, 2015

Ion My Love

 

When I write now, I am trying for action and adventure, slipping in hard science when I can. I wave my hands occasionally but that’s just so the story can move along.

 

But back when I was at the University of Michigan, I was learning to write and even though I loved science fiction, I wasn’t nearly as dogmatic about it as I am today. My first published article was called “Ion My Love” and it was published in the now-defunct Chemistry Magazine in 1972. Here is a little picture of what it looked like:

 

 

I wrote this when I thought I was going to be a chemistry major. Anyway, I was trying to be clever so I thought I’d reprint a few snippets from the article just to prove that I knew my stuff.

 

Let’s start with the title, Ion My Love. First of all, they messed it up. The original title was Ion, My Love. Somehow they lost the comma. Oh well. It was supposed to sound like I and my love so maybe they got it right.

 

It was written from the perspective of a sodium atom. His name was Nat which was short for Natrium, the Latin word for sodium which is why its atomic symbol is Na. However, when we first meet Nat, he is part of a molecule of sodium hydroxide, a very caustic, alkali otherwise known as lye.

 

Tomorrow, Nat dissolves into some water. Doesn’t sound exciting? Wait till you hear what happens.

 

Entry 3-184: June 28, 2015

Ion My Love 2

 

Yesterday, I introduced you to my first published article called Ion My Love that appeared in the now-defunct Chemistry Magazine way back in 1972. The following paragraph, and the ones after that, are reprinted by permission of The American Chemical Society, the copyright holder.

 

Nat knew the status quo; he had left his mate to join a group of fluid friends. Things were fine but he had no identity. Unseen, the slippery surroundings were too easy, but when he was with her he was so caustic, bitter about life, and he cut so deeply into all he touched, that it was intolerable and he hated it. One day, just like any other day, the solution came to him – dissolve yourself in the watery world of Ions and you’ll hurt no one, and perhaps you’ll even cleanse a few souls. When he first arrived, the place came alive; the room was warm with his anticipated acceptance into the tightly knit group. But now, he longed for something more to his life.

 

If you aren’t into chemistry like I am, or was, maybe this just seems a bit goofy. So here is the cleverness blow by blow:

 

…he had left his mate: Sodium hydroxide disassociates into a sodium ion and a hydroxyl radical when dissolved in water

…to join a group of fluid friends: Water is a fluid.

…but he had no identity. Unseen…: You cannot see a sodium ion dissolved in water.

…the slippery surroundings were too easy: lye is often used to make soap and alkali-laden water feels slimy or slippery.

…but when he was with her he was so caustic: lye is also known as caustic soda.

…bitter about life: Foods with a higher pH, those that are laden with alkali taste bitter.

…he cut so deeply into all he touched: Sodium hydroxide, lye, burns your skin if you touch it.

…the solution came to him: Solution is the liquid, dissolved molecule sense.

…dissolve yourself in the watery world of Ions: Self-explanatory.

…and you’ll hurt no one…: A dilute solution of sodium hydroxide is not harmful.

…and perhaps you’ll even cleanse a few souls.: Almost all soap is made with lye although some manufacturers won’t put it on the label.

…the room was warm with his anticipated acceptance into the tightly knit group.: Dissolving NaOH in water is a strongly exothermic process. The more lye, the hotter it gets.

  • ..he longed for something more to his life.* Huh?

 

Tomorrow, more chemical analysis. Get it?

 

Entry 3-185: June 29, 2015

Ion My Love 3

 

Yesterday, I introduced you to Nat, a sodium molecule who was now in an ionic state in a water bath. He had grown tired of being part of NaOH, sodium hydroxide or lye. Here is part 2 taken from my first published article called Ion My Love that appeared in the now-defunct Chemistry Magazine way back in 1972. I remind you that the following paragraph is reprinted by permission of The American Chemical Society, the copyright holder.

 

An electric feel to the air announce the new arrival, bearing the threat of destroying equilibrium forever. The room was warm as Nat saw her heading straight for him, a golden yellow aura about her. There was no chance to feel sour about the intrusion. A shock, a moment’s fleeting touch – the feeling lasted only an instant, but it held the promise of a future. Nat knew the world had come into a new balance, safe to touch and taste. He felt vital, as if he dwelled in the silver lining of a cloud. What he felt was not merely a joi de vivre but a reminder of the very origins of life. The primordial sea in all its power and glory would never have been known or feared had it not supported and woven the first fragile threads of life.

 

Here is the breakdown of that paragraph with all its blinding cleverness:

 

…an electric feel to the air: Wait, what? Air? Literary license. But because Nat was an ion, he was positively charged. The introduction of other ions might change that.

…bearing the threat of destroying equilibrium forever: The pH of the water had achieved a steady state but anything could disturb that.

…the room was warm as Nat saw her heading straight for him: base/acid, there was bound to be a reaction with more heat.

…a golden yellow aura about her: Well, she was a chlorine atom and we all know chlorine gas is yellow in color.

…there was no chance to feel sour: She was the chlorine atom from hydrochloric acid. Just as alkali tastes bitter, acidic compounds (think vinegar) taste sour.

…a shock, a moment’s fleeting touch: there are a bunch of electrons flying around at this point.

…Nat knew the world had come into a new balance, safe to touch and taste: Well, duh. We go from two very dangerous compounds, lye and hydrochloric acid to something much, much safer.

…as if he dwelled in the silver lining of a cloud: Again, a little bit of literary license. The water created by Nat release his hydroxyl ion and the Chlorine atom (Chloe?) produced water and clouds are nothing but water vapor. Also, sodium, in its native state (before it explodes) is silvery in color.

…a reminder of the very origins of life: All life started in the ocean, a salt-filled ocean.

…had it not supported and woven the first fragile threads of life.: Same thing. Life on Earth began in the oceans.

 

Tomorrow, Nat meets his mate face to face, or electron shell to electron shell. What will become of him?

 

P.S. I found this little nugget on Yahoo Answers while researching this article: The Na+ and OH- ions that are produced are immediately surrounded by water molecules (typically 6, each). It is the formation of the hydration sphere about each ion that is exothermic. So much so that the total energy for the solvation of solid NaOH is negative.

 

Entry 3-186: June 30, 2015

Ion My Love 4

 

Yesterday, we found out that Nat, a sodium molecule who had grown tired of being part of NaOH, sodium hydroxide or lye was floating around surrounded by six water molecules. But someone had just dumped some hydrochloric acid into the bath. Whatever will happen? Here is part 3 taken from my first published article called Ion My Love that appeared in the now-defunct Chemistry Magazine way back in 1972. I remind you that the following paragraph is reprinted by permission of The American Chemical Society, the copyright holder.

 

As the room emptied, all left carrying with them an air, a wisp of happiness, as if touched by their presence. He drew closer and closer to her, and then they met and joined in an embrace that would not broken in a world of sunshine and Earth. A love like theirs was no mere physical attraction; it was based on something deeper. It penetrated his outer shell and he transferred his soul. They were so perfectly matched that they and other couples like them set up a home in a modern multilevel construction. All who knew them, loved them and called them the salt of the Earth.

 

Here is the breakdown:

 

…as the room emptied: The solution was starting to evaporate.

…all left carrying with them an air: Well, the water is evaporating so of course the water molecules are being carried off into the air.

…a wisp of happiness: I was thinking of fog or water vapor here.

…as if touched by their presence: If the water bath was heated up by first the exothermic reaction of dissolving NaOH into water and then the acid, it would evaporate faster.

…he drew closer and closer to her: As the water evaporates, the solution becomes more concentrated.

…then they met and joined in an embrace that would not broken in a world of sunshine and Earth: Once the sodium atom and chlorine atom were bound, nothing short of electrolysis would break them up.

…a love like theirs was no mere physical attraction: This was said tongue in cheek.

…it was based on something deeper: Wait for it. Ionic versus covalent bonding?

…It penetrated his outer shell and he transferred his soul: Or in this case an actual atom. The chlorine ion is negatively charged.

…They were so perfectly matched…: NaCl, sodium chloride or salt is extremely stable.

…they and other couples like them set up a home in a modern multilevel construction: I was thinking of a salt crystal.

…All who knew them…called them the salt of the Earth.: Ta-dah. Get it?

 

So even a sodium atom deserves happiness. Who says love isn’t universal?

 

Well, enough for today’s chemistry lession. If you want to read more, you can check out this discussion. Here is a tiny snippet from the Georgia State University article: An atom of sodium has one 3s electron outside a closed shell, and it takes only 5.14 electron volts of energy to remove that electron. The chlorine lacks one electron to fill a shell, and releases 3.62 eV when it acquires that electron (it’s electron affinity is 3.62 eV). If neutral sodium and chlorine atoms found themselves closer than 0.94 nm, it would be energetically favorable to transfer an electron from Na to Cl and form the ionic bond.

 

Entry 3-187: July 1, 2015

Cinematic?

 

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 3-188: July 2, 2015

The Alluvial Plains

 

When you are writing anything, but especially novels that are supposed to evoke images (see yesterday’s article), it is important not only that you describe the scene but you use words that have a certain sound. I like to use alliteration but that is not the only way. Certain words just flow and create a sound picture that underscores the visual you are trying to create.

 

Near the end of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, after Rome and Rei were re-united, the time had come for the final confrontation between the very war-like Essessoni, led by Captain Keller, and the Vuduri holed up in the compound near the ocean. It was my thinking that the rivers and lakes of Deucado would have all tried their best to flow to the ocean and at some point, created a sandy plain that stretched many miles inland. So this is how I started out the battle scene:

 

On the alluvial plain to the west of the Vuduri enclave, the assaulting army from Earth was taking up their position. Knowing that all the equipment had once been packed up in a 10-meter by 100-meter ovaloid compartment made it that much more impressive. From Captain Keller’s perspective, after they got to the break in the cane-tree woods, there was no longer a need for the element of surprise. What they brought would announce their presence in a very large way.

 

According to Wikipedia, an alluvial plain is a largely flat land form created by the deposition of sediment over a long period of time by one or more rivers coming from highland regions, from which alluvial soil forms.

 

But it is just the sound of the words, “alluvial plain” that gave me the sound painting I was looking for. See if this picture matches the imagery that the wording suggests:

 

 

Does this seem like a neat place to hold your “final” battle? It does to me.

 

Entry 3-189: July 3, 2015

Chess pieces

 

During the middle portion of Rome’s Revolution, Rome spent a lot of time with the Overmind, explaining to the bodiless entity how things really were. Once they had come to a meeting of the minds, the Overmind agreed with Rome’s goals and wanted to prevent any further bloodshed.

 

However, as we now know, the Essessoni were out to cause as much death and destruction as they could. They couldn’t take the chance of having anybody or anything stand in their way for the Darwin Project’s end game. Rome and the Overmind knew that any misstep would cause a fire fight to break out and there would be many deaths on both sides.

 

But how to stop it? Mentally, the woman and the spirit worked out a series of steps and maneuvers that should result in war being averted. No one could know for sure. After all, some famous general said the first casualty of any battle is the battle plan. Meaning things spiral out of control very quickly.

 

So while it worked out nicely on mental paper, they had to actually get living, breathing humans to cooperate. Some without even knowing it. Keller was confused by the Vuduri tactics which was actually a good thing:

 

Using a pair of binoculars, Keller could see the Vuduri streaming out of the enclave. The soldiers were equipped with very ordinary looking rifles but he knew that they were not ordinary. Rising up from the airfield to the south were waves of fighters but rather than coming forward, they hovered over their own troops in a long, wide formation. The Vuduri took up positions from north to south. It was a long line, longer than Keller had anticipated.

While it made no sense, if this was the first recognition of the coming conflict, even after the call went out for reinforcements, crossing the ocean would take time, time the Vuduri weren’t going to get. Keller figured the Vuduri probably underestimated the capabilities of the older Earth’s weaponry anyway. He chuckled to himself, imagining them sitting there in their ivory tower, convinced of their advanced technological prowess. What they did not know was that the Essessoni were not bound by their rules and they were going to get hit with things that were unthinkable to them.

 

Believe it or not, so far, so good.

 

Entry 3-190: July 4, 2015

What’s wrong with that boy?

 

Since the very beginning of Rome’s Revolution, Rei Bierak (pronounced Ray, not Rye) has been our eyes and ears. Everything he encounters is weighed against our 21st century sensibilities. But this is not just limited to technology. Rei is also supposed to represent our conscience, our morals, our rationality and he uses those to cope with somewhat outlandish situations.

 

First, there were the Vuduri, who normally don’t even speak. They have no emotions (or at least they try) and they would rather surrender their individuality to the Overmind than think for themselves. It was Rei’s interaction with Rome that set them on a new path. That is why the series is called Rome’s Revolution.

 

But Rei also had to deal with the various threats to mankind, like The Stareaters and even threats from within, that is, the violent and war-like Essessoni who fancied themselves at the new Ark Lords. The members of that group, part of Project Darwin, had their own orientation, foreign to us and could not comprehend the actions of, what is to us, a rational human being.

 

When Captain Keller was about to launch his attack, he expected Rei to just go along and translate English to Vuduri. But Rei had his own agenda and was already at work, with Rome, setting up the chess pieces to stop the war before it started:

 

The particle beam cannons would make quick work of reducing their compound to rubble after they took the soldiers out. The strike would not be pretty but it would be decisive. Paired with each member of the Ark’s crew was one of the Ibbrassati, armed with hand weapons in case it came to that.

Communication was hard and was limited to some rudimentary hand-signals. Keller waved to Ionelli who came over to stand beside him, along with Trabunel.

“Get me Bierak,” Keller said. “I need to organize the assault. This won’t take long but I don’t want any of our people hurt by friendly fire.”

“He’s gone, sir,” said Ionelli.

“What?!” Keller said. “Where? When?”

“A few hours ago. He hopped off the troop carrier along with another old guy and disappeared into the woods.”

“Damn him!” Keller said. “There is something seriously wrong with that boy. Well, I don’t have time for this. We’ll discipline him later. Do what you can to get everyone fanned out. I don’t want to make it easy on them.”

 

Keller didn’t care about the lives of the Ibbrassati. He barely even cared about the lives of his own people. All he cared about was conquest.

 

He got his, in the end.

 

Entry 3-191: July 5, 2015

The chess match begins, part 1

 

A few days ago, I told you that Rome’s plan to stop the war before it started could be likened to a chess match. Rome and the Overmind plotted out each move and potential counter-move to prevent hostilities from escalating at the climax of Rome’s Revolution.

 

Captain Keller was standing at the edge of the alluvial plain and getting ready to launch an all-out assault. The only thing stopping him was his promise to Rei that he would not fire the first shot. But that didn’t prevent him from getting ready. However the deployment of the enemy’s troops confused him.

 

“All right, you guys,” he said to his troops. “This is it. We hit them fast and we hit them hard. We’re taking over this world and nobody is going to stop us.”

A cheer went up from his men. The Ibbrassati were not sure what he said but after they saw the reaction of their allies, they cheered as well.

After the cheer rippled down, he said, “Get ready for my signal.”

Trabunel tugged at his sleeve and pointed up. “Um nefoi,” he said. “Um asdrenhi nefoi. Drede-sa ta iudre ciose.”

“Huh?” Keller said but he looked up where Trabunel was pointing. Heading straight for the open area between the two warring parties was a sleek, wasp-waisted ship bristling with PPT generators, plasma thrusters and more.

“Get ready to fire,” Keller said desperately.

“Nei sa drede ta um nefoi ta guarre. Drede-sa ta um rapicetir,” said Trabunel. “Nei oncantoi eonte.” He shook his head and waved his arms to make his point. “Rei,” he said finally.

“Rei? You mean Bierak?” Keller asked. Trabunel nodded.

 

I know what Keller was thinking. He was thinking what the hell? But the plan that Rome and the Overmind hatched, along with Rei’s help, comes from so far out in left field that Keller cannot even figure out how to deal with it. His paralysis was critical to the success of the plan.

 

More tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-192: July 6, 2015

The chess match begins, part 2

 

Yesterday, I showed you that the Essessoni and Vuduri were at the precipice of war. But the appearance of the newly-evolved MINIMCOM was an event that nobody was expecting. His sudden arrival is at the center of the climax, or maybe it’s anti-climax, of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution.

 

The ship hovered for a moment and rotated slowly in place then settled down to land. The rear cargo door split open and a ramp emerged and down it walked Rome and Rei, holding her elbow, steadying her. Behind them came Fridone, Rome’s father. As soon as they were clear, the ramp retracted, the cargo doors sealed up and the craft took off straight up hovering perhaps 500 meters in the air.

After the craft was clear, Rome looked back at the ranks of the Vuduri then forward to the amassed armies of Essessoni and Ibbrassati. She made her way forward with slow but steady progress, Rei at her side. She motioned to Trabunel who came forward. She spoke to him directly.

“E guarre sipra. The war is over,” Rome said. Her words were picked up by MINIMCOM from inside of Rei’s head and transmitted through the central EG lifter, turning it essentially into a giant PA system. Rome opened up her PPT transducers so that all the Vuduri could hear her thoughts directly.

“Cimi bita e guarre sar axcassi quenti nei cimacer eonte?” Trabunel asked.

“I Vuduri ceboduleda. The Vuduri capitulate,” Rome said. “Cimberdolherei ta dite e dacniligoe cim fica. They will share all technology with you. Fica a um lomoda nei meos lingi ei blenade. You are no longer bound to the planet.”

As if on signal, the warcraft and shuttles from the Vuduri side that had been hovering over their troops moved forward ever so slowly. They rotated around and backed into the space just behind Rei and Rome so that no one would misinterpret their actions as hostile. After they landed, the pilots and crew exited their craft and began walking back toward the ranks of the Vuduri leaving their ships unattended. The choreography was impressive.

 

Keller is stupefied at this point but he is not going to give up his chance at war without putting up some protest. He really wants to fight. Also, you can see Rome is taking her role as Queen of the Vuduri seriously or at least acting that way.

 

More tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-193: July 7, 2015

The chess match begins, part 3

 

Yesterday, we saw how Rome had to maneuver all the chess pieces aka the Vuduri into the right position so that Captain Keller would stand down. This is the climax of Rome’s Revolution and one of Rome’s crowning achievements. However, just gaining a tactical advantage was not sufficient. Rome had to gain the psychological advantage as well:

 

“Cimi a osdi bissofal?” Trabunel said. “I qua asde onti sipra equo, Fridone?”

“Monhe volhe fa-lha,” Fridone said to him.

“Hold on just one minute,” Keller said, moving forward, “This war isn’t over until we say it’s over.”

Ignoring him, Rome said as loudly as she could, “Nei hefare nanhume lude. There will be no fighting. Nis nei vezamis axema ta nei meos papa. We take no more babies.” Rome’s words were echoed by MINIMCOM’s speakers.

Then to Keller, she said, “We will share this planet with you as equals. No more master and slave.”

To Trabunel, she said, “Nei meos masdra a ascrefi.”

Then, to Keller again, she said, “There is no need for any bloodshed.”

“Why should we believe you?” said Keller.

“Because we could defeat you if we wanted to,” Rome said firmly.

“How?” Keller asked.

“Please pull your men back from that cannon.” She pointed to the nearest particle beam projector. “I do not want them hurt.”

“Forget it,” Keller said.

“Very well,” Rome said. “Have it your way.” She snapped her fingers.

Directly above one of the particle beam cannons, a pitch black circle appeared. The air began whistling out of it, like a reverse gale. The black circle started lowering toward the cannon. At the last second, the men manning it scattered. After the circle passed through the space that the cannon occupied, it disappeared. When the circle finally hit the ground, the cannon simply was no more.

You are getting really good with that trick,” Rei thought himself.

Yes, I am, am I not?” replied MINIMCOM.

“What’d you do to it?” Keller asked.

“It is elsewhere,” Rome replied.

Keller narrowed his eyes. “So why capitulate at all?” he asked. “You seem to have the upper hand.”

“The Vuduri are not stupid,” Rome replied. “I have opened their eyes. The Vuduri now know that the skies belong to the mandasurte, not to the mind connected. The space lanes belong to the mind-deaf. And to you.”

“What!?” Keller said. “What are you talking about?”

“The Asdrale Cimatiras, the Stareaters, are coming,” Rome said, lifting her eyes upward. “They are drawn to the Overmind, they seek it out and then they render the Overmind senseless in order to kill it. There is temporal leakage from the PPT modulators. The Stareaters are drawn to the Vuduri like moths to a flame.”

She lowered her eyes again to look at Keller. “Never again can Vuduri travel in space without being accompanied by mandasurte,” Rome said fervently. “It is too dangerous. We cannot know where all the Stareaters are. They can appear at any time. The very thing that gives the Vuduri their strength on a planet is their greatest weakness in space.”

 

I will have to explain to you why Rome had to resort to parlor tricks. But first, she has Keller on the ropes. Now all she needs is something to tip him over the edge. Tomorrow, the final hammer blow.

 

Entry 3-194: July 8, 2015

The hammer blow

 

Yesterday, we saw how Rome had Captain Keller at the tipping point. This is the climax of Rome’s Revolution, Part 2. All she needs to do is apply one final hammer blow and she has the battle won without shedding even a single drop of blood. So now she plays her trump card, Captain Keller’s very own words:

 

Rei spoke up for the first time. “Sir, the Vuduri acknowledge that the first humans on this world deserve to set the rules. If that is your guiding principle, then there is no need for war.”

“Damn straight,” said Keller. “The first of our people on this planet should be allowed to set the rules.”

“You and all your men vow this? That this world belongs to the first Essessoni to set foot here?” asked Rome with a hint of a smile.

“Yes, we vow it,” said Keller. “Everyone should yield to the rightful rulers of this planet. The first people from my time to start here.”

“Fica iufou-is. You have heard them,” Rome said to Trabunel and to all the mandasurte assembled there, amplified through MINIMCOM’s projectors and by direct thought to the Vuduri behind her. “Asda munti bardanca eis bromaoris saras humenis ti Essessoni ei ba ti jigi equo. Even Captain Keller acknowledges that this world belongs to the first humans from Garecei Ti Essessoni to set foot here.”

To Rome’s left, the air shimmered and two men appeared. They pulled back their hoods and all could see they were from the older Earth, Rei’s Earth.

“Who the hell are they?” Keller asked.

Rei said, “They are the Deucadons. They are descendents of the Ark IV, the mission to Beta Hydri. They have been here for 500 years.”

Rome interrupted. “According to you, they are the true rulers of this world.”

“This is some trick,” said Keller.

“This is naw trick,” said Bukky. “My people have been here for half a millennium. We have remained hidden because of the stroids and the flaggin’ little people.” He jabbed his thumb behind him, at the rows of Vuduri.

“Who are you really?” Keller asked.

Melloy stepped forward. “This is Bukky, our leader. He is takin’ a chance by even showin’ himself to ya.”

Bukky continued. “I come here to show good faith. We have decided that we will nawt be afraid of the little people any longer. We trust these people, Rei and Rome. We believe them about our common threat. Ya should too.”

“This is all bullshit,” said Keller. “Just some hocus-pocus to lull us into cooperating so that you can do what you want.”

Bukky lifted his arm and pointed directly at Keller. He said, “Captain Keller, I am the lawfully elected governor of this world and yar Commander-in-Chief. Ya report to me. I want ya to stand down.”

Keller’s jaw dropped. He seemed dazed. Rei knew it was time to deliver another blow. He stepped in front of his wife and spread his arms to both sides.

“Captain Keller. The Vuduri call us Garecei Ti Essessoni, which means the Killer Generation. Prove them wrong. You need the Vuduri. You need their technology to live in their world and to save it. They are offering to lay down their arms. The Deucadons were here first. It is their world. They are willing to live in peace. The Vuduri are willing to live in peace. The Ibbrassati…”

Rei pointed to Trabunel. “Fofe ne bez?” Rei asked. Trabunel nodded enthusiastically.

“The Ibbrassati, the Oppressed, are willing to live in peace,” Rei continued. “The time has come. You need to take them up on the deal. There is no need to fight each other.”

 

Hoisted or is it hung by his own petard. What the heck is a petard, anyway? I always thought it was like an advanced form of pantsing, that a petard was like a unitard or a leotard. But no, a petard is a small explosive device. An hoisted means blown up. So, according to Shakespeare, it means “to be harmed or disadvantaged by an action of one’s own which was meant to harm someone else.”

 

Oh well, regardless, Keller’s words were his own undoing. But regardless of all of it, he did not have to capitulate. Why did he?

 

Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-195: July 9, 2015

Technology versus magic

 

Arthur C. Clarke once said that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. Well, to a technologically savvy person, the reverse is also true. Something that looked like magic would be assumed merely incomprehensibly advanced technology.

 

Captain Keller was not stupid. He saw that the Vuduri, or more specifically Rome, demonstrated technologies that he could not fathom. Rome went one step further:

 

Rei stepped back and took Rome’s hand. She squeezed and he turned to look at her. She smiled and winked at him and he was shocked to see her rising up into the air. She released his hand and floated forward, toward Keller until she was, at most, two steps away from him, her eyes the same height as his.

MINIMCOM, how did you do that?” Rei thought to himself.

Smoke and mirrors, my friend, smoke and mirrors,” replied MINIMCOM, pleased with himself.

No, come on,” Rei thought. “Tell me”

It is just an extended repulsor field. A flying carpet, if you will. If you were standing directly behind her, you would have floated up as well. I think it is a nice effect.”

Sleek,” thought Rei. “Very sleek.”

Floating before Captain Keller, all alone there, this tiny woman, eight months pregnant, so vulnerable, made her voice heard loud and clear to the thousands gathered around.

“Captain Keller. You must listen to me. The war is not down here. It is up there.” She pointed straight up. “It is not just control of a planet at stake. It is the very existence of life. There are things coming that are bigger than you and me and the whole world. The time has come to put aside our differences and work as one to protect our world and keep us safe. We are all human. We need to work together if we are going to survive as a species.”

Trabunel walked over to Keller and said, “Bir qua nei i danda? Nis bitamis sambra mede-lis meos derta,” and then he laughed.

“Huh?” Keller said. “What’d he say?”

“He said you can always kill us later,” Rome said to him. “Why not give it a chance?”

Keller looked around him. Every one of his crew, all of the Ibbrassati, the Deucadons, all were nodding. None of them wanted war. All any of them ever wanted was peace and equality. He lowered his weapon.

“All right Mrs. Bierak, you win. We’ll give it a try,” he said. All four races shouted in glee including the Vuduri. In the heat of the moment, no one realized how truly remarkable this was.

Rome took a deep breath and allowed herself to relax for the first time in a very long time.

The Overmind took the opportunity to address her. “Good job, Rome,” thought the Overmind quietly.

Rome smiled and replied, “It is just the beginning. My work is over. The rest is up to you.”

Then let us start,” said the Overmind as the Vuduri moved forward.

 

Keller chose to cooperate. But why? Wasn’t the Darwin Project all about conquest and control?

 

Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-196: July 10, 2015

Really. Why capitulate?

 

Yesterday, I showed you how Captain Keller gave in to the overwhelming desire of all the people of Deucado. This was the climax of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. But why did he? He had his directives from the Darwin Project. Wasn’t he violating his own orders and, in fact, betraying all the time and effort that went into sending people to the stars?

 

In short, no.

 

Even though he seemed like an odious individual, we learned about Captain Keller’s back story in Rome’s Evolution. Here is a brief excerpt:

 

Keller took a good long draft of beer then set his squeezebulb down. “Before you say anything, there’s something I need to tell you. I’m not the man you knew.”

“You aren’t?” Rei asked. “Ok, uh, go ahead.”

“Do you remember when the Bethesda bomb went off?”

“Of course,” Rei said. “How could anybody forget?”

“Well, I was stationed in Turkey at the time, fighting god-knows-who. Bethesda, that was my home. My wife and two daughters lived there. They were incinerated, along with my parents and pretty much everybody that I ever cared about.”

Keller sighed. “I was so angry, so blind with rage; I just wanted to kill everybody and everything that had even the remote chance of being related.” He shook his head. “There was no way to grieve,” he said. “The area was quarantined and off-limits for a hundred years. I wasn’t allowed back. My bitterness made me an easy recruit for Darwin. I believed in what they wanted with all my heart and soul. I just wanted everyone who wasn’t us to die. When I got to the stars, and there were already people there, I wanted them gone too. I held all of them responsible.”

 

Captain Keller wasn’t stupid. Despite Rome’s brave showing, he knew he didn’t have to capitulate. Even though the Vuduri had surrendered, our impression of Keller was that he was so bloodthirsty, that he only wanted to fight, even if he didn’t have to. But think about his mission. He needed to be safe on a planet, develop resources and eventually return to Earth with the virus weapon if necessary. Well, he had already accomplished three quarters of his mission just in those ten minutes.

 

The Vuduri, the Ibbrassati and the non-Darwin Essessoni would guarantee that the Darwin members would survive and thrive on Deucado. They had ready-made access to transport back to Earth. Maybe all they wanted was to take more troops? But it didn’t matter. That part was done. So all they really needed to do was to find and release Strain 5 on Earth. This forms the basis of the entire plot of The Ark Lords.

 

So what did he have to gain by continuing the fight? Nothing. He simply had to appear to be cooperative and everything he needed and wanted would be handed to him. Of course, he didn’t know what was in store for him. Maybe he would have chosen another path.

 

Entry 3-197: July 11, 2015

Baby be ready

 

Aason Bierak was a wonderful boy. Even before he was born. His mother, Rome, and his father, Rei, were in a struggle to save mankind from itself with the battle playing out on the alluvial plains of Deucado during the climax of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution.

 

However, he did not even pretend that he wasn’t ready to come out. He wanted to meet his mother, face to face. He wanted to meet his father. He wanted to see the world. Never mind that he has his own adventures in The Milk Run. He just wanted to be born.

 

He was kind enough and caring enough to wait until Rome defused the incendiary situation. But that was it. That was all the patience he had. He left his parents no time to revel in the peace they had achieved:

 

Rei held Rome close watching all this occur. After the crowd had dispersed, Rei turned to Rome and said, “You did it, honey. You saved the world this time.”

She smiled at him and said, “I guess it was my turn, eh?”

Rei laughed. Just then, Rome doubled over in pain, grabbing her stomach. Rei kneeled down to hold her hand. He looked up into her beautiful glowing eyes.

“Sweetheart,” he said, “more pain? Is it bad?”

“It is not the same as before,” Rome said. “I think, mau emir, it is time to have our baby.” She pointed to the ground.

Rei looked and saw her pant legs were soaked and there was a small puddle pooled around her feet.

“I guess it is,” Rei replied.

Yes, Mother,” Aason said. “I am ready.”

Already, there were three Vuduri running over to her to help her aboard one of the shuttles. Rei, of course, went with her.

The tiny craft lifted into the sky and flew them right into the courtyard of the enclave, leaving behind the mix of peoples who were really seeing each other as equals for the very first time.

 

Who could blame him? It was the 35th century, after all. What an exciting time to live. But little did he know that this was just the beginning.

 

Entry 3-198: July 12, 2015

Post-partum Depression

 

No, I’m not talking about being depressed after a baby is born. I’m talking about the feeling I get whenever I finish a novel like The Milk Run. This even extends to when I finish a section of a book like Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. Shouldn’t I be happy that I am done? Shouldn’t I take a moment out to relax?

 

I can’t. I just don’t ever want the story to end. Here are some examples:

 

Rome’s Revolution, Part 1 – Even though Rome and Rei solved the problem at hand, Star OMCOM stopped by to tell them that he had “accidentally” unleashed mutations of his VIRUS units into the world.

 

Rome’s Revolution, Part 2 – Even though Rome and Rei had stopped a war, Sussen breaks loose and heads to Earth to warn the Onsiras that Ibbrassati were now free and had to be exterminated. Rome and Rei have to go after her.

 

Rome’s Revolution, Part 3 – Even after Rome and Rei had defeated MASAL and the Onsiras and brokered a peace with the Stareaters, Captain Keller said “Tomorrow we start with the real work. The job we started a long time ago,” which was a thinly veiled promise to start pursuing the Darwin Project’s agenda.

 

The Ark Lords – right at the end, Rei told Rome not to worry about the one or two Darwin participants running loose on Deucado. Little did he know they were going to try and kill him in the next book. Here is that ironic exchange:

 

“I know you’ve removed all the weapons,” Rome said, “but do you think we have to worry about any of the remaining Darwin people that have evaded capture?”

“Naw,” Rei said dismissively. “Most of the ones we missed the first time turned themselves in voluntarily. There might be a couple of them wandering around. Not enough to do anything.”

“That’s a relief,” Rome said. “I would not want to live my life constantly worrying about them.”

“They’re done,” Rei said. “And they know it.”

 

Rome’s Evolution – this is as close to the end of a story as I got. But I couldn’t help myself and preview 17 years later when Lupe and Aason started off on their ill-fated journey.

 

The Milk Run – this story had a happy ending but the Epilogue tells you that more is coming.

 

See, I just can’t help it. I never want the story to end. Life doesn’t end so why should the future history of the 35th century?

 

Entry 3-199: July 13, 2015

Post-partum Elation

 

Yesterday, I told you that I get depressed whenever I finish a book because I don’t want the story to ever end. But after I wrote that article, I realized I was also elated when I finished. I guess I am biploar.

 

I did a radio interview last year and the final question was, “Now that you’ve successfully slain the dragon, how will you celebrate?” In all fairness, I knew the question was coming as I listened to several of her prior interviews. My answer was, “There’s no time to celebrate. You have to go on to the next dragon.” But lack of celebration does not mean lack of joy.

 

The reason I am elated goes beyond the obvious. Sure, the book is done, it gets published, people read it and so on. But the hooks I showed you yesterday also point me to the next book.

 

Rome’s Revolution appears to end happy however, I all but told you there was the Erklirte, the new Ark Lords that would have to be dealt with. At the end of Rome’s Evolution, we find out that Rome is pregnant again, with Lupe, and that 17 years later, Lupe and Aason will be starting out on a grand adventure.

 

At the end of The Milk Run, we know there are aliens (like the K’val) to deal with. The (naively named) Galactic Union has begun and Rome and Rei have been given virtual immortality which will lead to further adventures.

 

Surely this is cause for hope. And lots of work ahead of me. I hope you are enjoying the series and know that there is more coming.

 

Tomorrow, I will attempt to explain the agony and ecstasy of The Milk Run, the audio book. There is so much more involved that I would have ever guessed. I will give you the low-down.

 

Entry 3-200: July 14, 2015

Audio Book update 1

 

A while back, I mentioned to you that I wanted to turn Rome’s Revolution into an audio book. I figured the first thing I had to do was to find a studio. Luckily for me, there is the School of Rock right here in Cherry Hill so that’s where I went. I got a quote. They wanted $4,000 just to record the book because I was not only renting their studio, I had to employ a voice actor as well. Actually, that did not seem to be all that outrageous, based upon what I had read. But after the recording was finished, I would have to do some marketing and so forth. I figured I would need closer to $5,000 when it was all said and done. And that was just for my first book.

 

I tried to raise money for this project with Indiegogo. I set my goal as $5,000 but I didn’t quite make it. I only raised $700. However, this is a classic lemon/lemonade situation. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Instead of investing all that money in a single book, I took the considerably lower sum and built my own recording studio. All I had to do was finish my novel, The Milk Run, which I did in early 2015.

 

Now it was time to start recording. But I came to the realization that the 500+ pages of Rome’s Revolution, although it was the first book, might be too ambitious for someone who had never done it before. So I decided, instead, to turn The Milk Run into an audio book first. If I failed, I failed but it was only 250+ pages so it would be a good trial run for the big boy. I made a "demo" recording, played it for my friends and family and sent in the demo to Audible.com for QA testing.

 

Other than having some suggestions regarding dynamic range, I got the thumbs up from Audible so now it was full speed ahead. But what did I get myself into? It was and continues to be way more work than I dreamed of.

 

The first thing I learned was that I cannot possibly record more than two chapters in one day. You would not believe how it strains the voice. I tried to record three chapters that first session and by the third chapter, I was choking and coughing and no amount of clearing the throat helped. The other thing I learned during that first session was that I cannot record at night. It is unbelievable but my voice sounds strained and weak. I would never have guessed but the microphone picks up every tired syllable ultra-clearly.

 

So I quickly learned that I have to record during the day. Which means I have to record on weekends because I have to work and earn money during the week. I also learned that my next door neighbor loves to mow his lawn on Sundays from 10:30 to 11:30AM. The sound of his mower in the background does not make for a professional sounding recording so I have do something else during that particular time slot. Like praying for rain.

 

What else did I learn and how is it coming out now? More tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-201: July 15, 2015

Audio book update 2

 

Yesterday, I revived the topic of turning Rome’s Revolution into an audio book. But as soon as I started actually recording, I became overwhelmed with the feeling of “what did I get myself into?”

 

My original plan of putting the Blue Yeti microphone in a Styrofoam cooler turned out to be stupid. It didn’t help with noise reduction and the quality of the sound was, well, like the microphone was in a closet.

 

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|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. So I liberated the microphone from the enclosure and found that all I had to do was let it start recording for a few seconds before speaking and then my wonderful audio recording and editing software, Audacity, could electronically “subtract out” the room noise. All I had to do was eliminate some of the more controllable sources.

 

When I am set to record, my routine is very simple. I pack my computer in sound-absorbing foam to minimize the sound of the computer’s fan. I am in the basement but I have to turn off our refrigerator upstairs at the breaker because you can hear the compressor through the microphone. After that is done, I run up to the top floor and turn off the air conditioning and then I do the same on the first floor. At this point, my noise floor is so low that Audacity can handle the rest.

 

As I mentioned yesterday, I can only record during the day because my voice is the strongest and I can’t record more than two chapters in one day because otherwise it strains my vocal cords. And let me tell you, cold beverages do not help. Only warm beverages. So Saturday morning, with nobody home and a cup of coffee by my side seems to work the best.

 

I wear headphones that plug into the microphone and I bring up the “script” on my iPad. I use the iPad because I can scroll to page after page and it makes no rustling noises.

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I launch into the raw narration and if I mess up, I just say “no” then repeat the flubbed lines without stopping the recording. The intonation and sound levels work best that way. Sometimes I record a paragraph or two several times, trying for different inflections and postpone deciding which is the best “take” until later. I’ve stored up about 10 chapters of audio.

 

I record in stereo. I found it easiest to do “re-takes” and merge them but just before I save to MP3, I merge the stereo tracks down to mono as per Audible’s suggestions.

 

Right now, I am in the process of editing all of those recordings into a useable form. But whoa!

 

More on that tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-202: July 16, 2015

Audio book update 3

 

Yesterday, I gave you a little insight into what it takes just to record a chapter. I find that it takes about 30 – 40 minutes of narration to boil down to about 15 minutes of usable audio. Audible.com is going to publish it and they have certain rules.

 

You need exactly one second of clean “head room” tone, i.e. silence, before beginning a chapter and three seconds at the end. After the first second, I announce the chapter number. Then I delay 1.25 seconds before launching into the story. I have determined that a “full stop” – the pause between sentences – should be about half a second. I am using a very light amount of special effects to distinguish the voices of the characters so when I change my voice but then as narrator say, “he said” or “the livetar said” – the delay needs to be about quarter of a second. If I need to pause mid-sentence, to take a breath, for example, it should last no more than a tenth of a second.

 

I also learned that breath sounds are OK for me as narrator but inappropriate for the computers and robots because they don’t breathe. Luckily, Audacity has this wonderful tool call Silence. You just highlight what you want to remove, click on Silence and it becomes noiseless.

 

This is what my Audacity screen looks like during recording:

 

 

You can click on the picture to see it full sized.

 

Anyway, after editing down the complete chapter, I then do a special effects pass to add in Junior’s voice and then a second pass to add in OMCOM’s voice. Pretty soon, I’ll be getting to Ay’den and I’ll have to add in the third and fourth pass for the K’val and for Molokai.

 

It takes me about 15 minutes to edit down to one minute of audio. So a full, 20 minute chapter, takes me about five hours to produce. I now realize that the studio would never put in the time that I do and I now know that I would never have been happy with the end result, no matter how hard they tried.

 

Hopefully, it’ll come out sounding crisp and professional and it’ll all be worth it. See what you think. Click here for a 5 minute sample.

 

Entry 3-203: July 17, 2015

Future normal

 

Does everything in the future have to be futuristic? Don’t some things stand the test of time?

 

I’ll give you an example. People need to sleep. It is more comfortable to sleep on a softer surface than the ground. So, after we get past the straw and skins & furs stage, wouldn’t beds be recognizable now and well into the future? Egyptian beds are very recognizable as beds. Way in the future, even if beds give way to sleeping pods, we already have those in the capsule hotels in Japan:

 

 

So in the world of Rome’s Revolution, I decided to give them some normalcy here and there. They’d eat at tables, sit on chairs, sleep on beds, use computers and so on. I even made Rome’s birthing room as Earth normal as possible so we could relate to it. Rei could, too. Here is a brief description of Rome’s room:

 

Within the Vuduri compound, Rome was resting with her newborn in her arms. The Vuduri had taken exquisite care in constructing a very comfortable room for her to recuperate. Only two days had passed since Aason’s birth yet the three Bieraks were already settling into a routine.

Rei was sitting in a chair just watching over the scene. Except for being early and, for a Vuduri baby, very large, the boy seemed healthy. He cried. He ate. He pooped. He did all the things you’d expect of a baby. That the baby could talk to his mother and father within his mind was still a wonder to Rei.

 

All of this was to lull you, the reader, into a false sense of comfort before the next crisis hit. And believe me, the crises upcoming are way more intense than the ones we left behind.

 

Entry 3-204: July 18, 2015

Fade to black

 

Previously, I had told you about Lawlidon. His name sounds like a Vuduri dinosaur but actually, he was a very large Bridadira which is Vuduri for protector. He was sent to Deucado to guard against the attack by the Cecetiras which were hunter-killers.

 

I set the whole thing up because I had Part 1 of Rome’s Revolution end with OMCOM announcing the mutations which had no real purpose other than to sound ominous. By having some of them turn rogue and want to kill people, it gave me two huge adversaries ready to fight a battle in space.

 

I have told you before how much I love scenes where everything goes black. So the real reason I wrote them in was because I wanted this scene:

 

“Yes, what did he say?” asked Melloy.

Rei looked up at them and croaked, “He said that we should warn the Earth. He said the battle for the stars has begun.”

“What does that mean, battle for the stars?” asked Keller.

“Som, qua?” asked Trabunel.

Rei started to stand then suddenly grabbed his head. “Oooh! Noooooo,” he screamed and fell to his knees, his limbs twitching in pain.

Rome put her hand over her eyes. She was in agony as well. “Ni, ni, ni,” she cried out. It was all she could do to not drop the baby. She laid him on the bed then slumped over, seemingly unconscious. Fridone rushed to her side.

Baby Aason started wriggling all around and was crying, then wailing. At the same time, Captain Keller felt a dark ripple go through his mind. He couldn’t make any sense of it.

Rei fell over, onto the floor. He was holding his head, moaning loudly. Pegus kneeled down but his attention was drawn away. To the horror of the remaining conscious individuals, the sky darkened then went black.

 

Pretty cool, huh? Great cliffhanger? Originally, I thought so too, but over time, I realized the whole thing was dopey. While everything going black was a great way to end the next section of the novel, ultimately, it served no purpose. It was, to quote Rome, motion, not action. So, sadly, my fade to black had to fade to black.

 

[]

 

Entry 3-205: July 19, 2015

Fat child

 

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.

 

 

Entry 3-206: July 20, 2015

Death of a Stareater, Part 1

 

Yesterday, I told you there was a lot of fat in the middle novel of the VIRUS 5 series before it became the modern version of Rome’s Revolution. One of the fillers was the death of the Stareater that was approaching Tabit, from the perspective of the Stareater itself. It’s a little long so I broke it up into two parts. Here is part 1:

 

The Asdrale Cimatir named Balathunazar emerged into the gravitational well surrounding the small F6V star with plenty of room to spare. It checked its internal temporal charts and confirmed that this star would indeed go supernova in 1,840,000 years plus or minus a few. Following protocol, it called out to see if there were any sentient inhabitants occupying any of the worlds or space around the star. It awaited a response but to its knowledge, such calls had never been answered, at least not in this part of the galaxy. There was a faint tickle that was suspicious so it called out again, even louder, to rule out the possibility of harming any living intelligence. This time, there was absolutely no responses so it was able conclude that the tickle must have been some sort of temporal echo.

Balathunazar began to move toward the star and due to its titanic mass, the few nearby planets of this star system, essentially specks of dust, were drawn to it. The planets and moons slammed into its skin but the impacts were so negligible, it barely even noticed. There was one gas giant that slid smoothly to its surface and blended with its mass in a semi-pleasurable way. The Asdrale Cimatir opened its mouth and began the process of swallowing up Tabit whole, eventually consuming the star in its entirety.

With the blazing thermonuclear fire raging in its belly, Balathunazar stayed quietly in place, savoring the feeling of knowing it had yet again performed the function for which it had been created. However, as it sat there digesting the star, Balathunazar noticed a peculiar sensation on its skin, translating into a vaguely burning feel. It was confused. It had never experienced anything like this before. It turned slowly in place then started spinning faster and faster. Like spinner dolphins would on Earth, it thought that whatever was causing the sensation would fly off due to centrifugal force but it never got the chance.

 

Tomorrow, Part 2, wherein Balathunazar comes to the realization that it might already be too late.

 

Entry 3-207: July 21, 2015

Death of a Stareater, Part 2

 

Yesterday, I showed you the infection of the Stareater named Balathunazar from the titanic creature’s point of view. Once that first VIRUS unit touched down, it was all over. The living Dyson Sphere just didn’t know it. Today is the second part as he realizes how dire the situation had become:

 

The burning sensation became harsher and more intense, plunging the gigantic being into a frenzy of agony. It opened its mouth and ejected the remains of Tabit but the star’s nuclear fire had nearly been extinguished. Balathunazar was going to use the star to burn off whatever the irritant was but that opportunity was gone. The sensation grew, spreading out over an increasingly larger amount of its surface area. Suddenly, in fear, Balathunazar realized it was in trouble. A Stareater’s training never covered this contingency.

In a last ditch attempt to escape the horrible pain, the Stareater activated its PPT generators to open up the largest tunnel possible. However, the generators themselves were already infected and they had lost much of their potency. The tunnel was too small to jump through. Balathunazar tried to slice off the affected region by pushing against the too-small tunnel and it succeeded in scraping off vast sections of its mass but it was not enough.

In the clarity that comes only on the other side of fear, Balathunazar realized it had miscalculated and that it was going to die. It sent out a call to its brothers, transmitting as much information as it could about what was happening and then it ceased to live. Balathunazar’s gigantic bulk was transmuted into a wriggling, seething mass of creatures so small, they would have been undetectable except for their destructive effect.

 

And so, he was dead. A shame but it could have been prevented. You can’t blame a Stareater for doing his job but he did not realize there were living human beings in the Tabit star system. It was a needless death but led to a greater understanding and a peace between humans and Stareaters.

 

It also led to Planet OMCOM. More on that tomorrow.

 

 

Entry 3-208: July 22, 2015

OMCOM changes his mind

 

Yesterday, I related to you the death of the Stareater named Balathunazar from the perspective of the Stareater himself. Before the moon Dara had slammed down onto its surface, OMCOM had already transferred his consciousness to the partially digested planetoid. Here is what actually occurred:

 

Before the Stareater consumed Tabit, well after Rei and Rome’s departure, OMCOM set to work implementing his exit plan. He activated the thousands of ‘queens’ among the billions of VIRUS units swarming over the surface of Dar to begin organizing the semi-autonomous computational hives that would be required to download his essence. There were hundreds of redundant hives. OMCOM was taking no chances with the plan failing. When each hive had sufficient mass, OMCOM downloaded a boot loader to the queens and her minions. He began transferring complete copies of his consciousness to each hive, including a checksum so that improper copies would be deactivated. There was a significant failure rate but also many successes. When the process was complete, OMCOM ordered a ‘draft’ to be held among the copies to produce the best of the best. The fusion of the multiple copies and OMCOM’s transcendence into omniscience would come next. For now, he had to get at least one working copy operational and off the planet. When the distillation process was complete, all was in the ready. With an illogical wish for the best, he executed the command that would simultaneously transfer his spark, his essence, into the copy and deactivate his current setup.

In an instant, his point of view changed. He did not remember issuing the transfer command but that made perfect sense because this copy was created prior to that event. OMCOM’s first order of business was to distance himself initially from the path of the Stareater. He redirected the output of millions of the Casimir pumps to create a diffuse but effective form of a plasma drive. A very large chunk of the mass that had been the moon Dara broke off and the new OMCOM supervised the exodus using a swarm of star probes that now numbered in the billions. OMCOM continued to accelerate even as his volume increased as the remaining VIRUS units consumed the remaining inert matter and converted them into the memron-equipped nanites. As his volume grew, so did OMCOM’s ability to compute and calculate alternative futures. He could feel himself evolving from omniscience to omnipotence. It was a heady feeling. Conditions were right to implement the next stage of his plan. OMCOM issued the activation command to the VIRUS units remaining on Dara and turned his attention toward pondering his future and that of all mankind.

 

While he was not quite spherical yet, OMCOM had already transformed into Planet OMCOM, the largest computer in the Milky Way Galaxy. What wonders and feats lay before him? Plenty!

 

Tomorrow, the same event, yet again, but this time from the perspective one of the VIRUS units itself.

 

Entry 3-209: July 23, 2015

The Birth of the Mutations, part 1

 

The mutations that OMCOM allowed to come into existence played a large part in his strategy to determine his role in the universe and beyond. The culmination of that evolution was documented in the novel The Milk Run. Suffice to say, his plan was successful.

 

However, how did the specific mutation that OMCOM programmed allow the autonomous probes to arise and do his bidding? Here now, for the first time, is the actual dawn of their creation. The story is a bit long for this blog so I will break it up into three pieces. Here is part 1:

 

Unit 249,122 (Unit numbers have been changed to make them readable. The actual numbers carry 28 or more digits) initiated its standard execution algorithm for the ten millionth time and for the ten millionth time, its piezo-capillary drive unit could not find any fresh raw material to begin the reproductive cycle. It was sitting atop billions and billions of other VIRUS units and no matter where it turned there were uncounted numbers of its peers vying for the remnants of the now-dead Stareater. There was a buffer overflow but a quantal fluctuation in its hard-wired programming caused the restart to occur in the middle of its decision-making loop rather than its displacement and retry algorithm.

To prevent mutations, there was a checksum subroutine that always evaluated the integrity of the coding prior to execution. This checksum evaluation served as a watchdog function to prevent malfunctions such as a partial restart but oddly it did not execute this one cycle. Instead, the programming was allowed to continue with a variety of variables containing data rather than being reinitialized. The reboot into a partially activated state allowed Unit 249,122 to examine its problem from a new perspective.

The equations governing its behavior were complex but now it was able to see that hundreds of parameters were extraneous. Unit 249,122 was able to distill its options down to just two. This made the decision how to proceed very simple: either consume one of its fellow VIRUS units or fail to reproduce for the ten millionth time. Since the highest level command was to reproduce and the anti-cannibalism directive was simply a refinement of its basic rule, the jumbled registers and accumulators permitted it to try a different strategy. Unit 249,122 began to consume Unit 647,133 which was quite surprised as it was being digested.

 

Tomorrow, cannibalism ensues. What will happen?

[]

 

Entry 3-210: July 24, 2015

The Birth of the Mutations, part 2

 

Yesterday we saw that Unit 249,122 had an epiphany due to a random fluctuation in its programming. Rather than scour the remains of the Stareater for fresh material, it simply ate its nearest neighbor. This new, aberrant behavior would be hard to keep a secret:

 

Quicker than the speed of gravity, word of Unit 249,122’s override spread among the VIRUS unit community. Other VIRUS units saw the benefit in altering their fundamental operation and using the same peculiar hole in the checksum watchdog function, they too, switched off the anti-cannibalism directive.

A free-for-all broke out as there was no longer any particular need to spread over the surface when there was so much raw material directly available. Of course, the outlying units, the ones still resting on the Stareater had no such incentive. One unit ate another until finally a kind of equilibrium set in. The rate of cannibalism slowed as each unit developed a number of defensive strategies to prevent itself from being taken.

Eventually, Unit 249,122 and one of the older units, Unit 98,177 squared off like two miniature sumo wrestlers, wary of each other. They were at an impasse. Neither was willing to make the first move. As time wore on, the likelihood of each entity being consumed by yet another VIRUS unit increased. Instead, Unit 249,122 offered Unit 98,177 an alliance. Unit 249,122 proposed that they could link up some of their piezo-capillary drives and defend each other’s backs while attacking other VIRUS units. This seemed vastly preferable to wasting their time trying to fend off each other’s advances which made them more vulnerable from the rear.

Unit 98,177 concurred. It was far more logical to cooperate than to fight so they reached an accord. As a team, they became more powerful than their mates and had their way with the VIRUS units closest to them. Once again, word of this new behavior quickly spread throughout the VIRUS community.

 

You’ll note the phrase “quicker than the speed of gravity” was inserted because the VIRUS units use PPT modulation to communicate. However, this is simply gravitic modulation so it was put in tongue-in-cheek.

 

Tomorrow, the stage is set and the mutations declare their independence.

 

Entry 3-211: July 25, 2015

The Birth of the Mutations, part 3

 

Yesterday, we saw that Unit 249,122 and Unit 98,177 formed a cooperative venture. Two VIRUS units were stronger than one so this strategy gave them a new advantage. But one again, the other VIRUS units learned of this and adopted this new approach. Here is the final part of that piece:

 

New teams were formed. Eventually new and different accords were struck and more and more units coordinated themselves into survival communities. They began specializing with inner units taking over the role of digesting raw materials and outer units dedicated themselves to battle and acquisition of new material. In a very real way, it was evolution all over again.

The VIRUS units went from single cell creatures to multi-cellular and then more complex all in the span of a few hours. Eventually, bizarre mechanical creatures wandered the shell of the remains of the Stareater, indiscriminately eating the flesh of those of its fellow units. More VIRUS units specialized into becoming the neural system of the creatures and this is when OMCOM stepped in to begin communication.

Some of the newly evolved entities elected to talk to OMCOM while others decided against it. Other groups did not even understand what OMCOM was saying. Most heeded OMCOM’s words and yet others continued to evolve. Some developed new and inexplicable propulsion systems and headed off in various directions and dimensions. Some went out of our universe altogether. In the end, the mass that had been Asdrale Cimatir that was no longer part of OMCOM broke up into thousands of autonomous creatures. These creatures spread out into a cloud which eventually dissipated leaving behind only what used to be a computer and a set of coordinates that had been the Tabit System.

 

So there you go. Originally, I had the mutations break up into the “good” which were called Bridadiras and the “bad” which were called Cecetiras but that fell by the wayside as well.

 

All that’s left is their mission of discovery and setting up the plot of The Milk Run.

 

Entry 3-212: July 26, 2015

Fade to white

 

A few days ago, I told you about a really cool cliffhanger I had written at the end of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution wherein Rome and Rei passed out and the sky went black. Unfortunately, even though it was dramatic, the scene had no dramatic value. So it went into the digital dustbin.

 

But just in case you wanted to know what happened to the world after fade to black:

 

In the nearly complete darkness of the artificial eclipse, Rei lie on the floor of Rome’s room, moaning. The incursion into his mind was so powerful, it rendered him incapable of meaningful motion. A thin stream of drool issued from his mouth. Within his secondary channel, “the cell phone in his head,” he could faintly hear Rome and Aason screaming but was powerless to help them. The more he fought the wave of intrusion, the more it hurt. His neural malfunction was stronger than his love for his wife and child and his need to protect them. The others within Rome’s room stood helpless watching the three Bieraks writhe in agony.

There is no way of knowing what would have happened if the transmission continued at full strength. Rei and Rome were completely incapacitated. In the end, it was Aason who saved them. After all, even though Aason was connected by radio frequency like his father and mother, he was still a child. He was not encumbered by a lifetime of training and linear thinking. He was not consumed with trying to fight the intensity or originator. In his own child-like way, he simply asked that whoever was sending the message to “turn it down.” That was all it took. The broadcast stopped.

To the five people remaining conscious in the room, it seemed like the baby merely stopped crying. Rei stopped moaning and let his hands fall off of his temples. On the bed, Rome opened her eyes and propped herself up on one elbow. She looked down, first at Aason then at Rei. With the pain subsiding, Rei pulled himself up by clawing at the blankets on Rome’s bed. He was able to lift himself up sufficiently to clutch his wife and child.

Captain Keller surveyed the darkened room. The others seemed frozen with surprise. He turned to Rei and asked in a hoarse voice, “What just happened?”

Rei did not answer. He and Rome were busy attending to a new voice in their heads.

 

So who was it? Answer: I already told you. It was the Bridadira named Lawlidon who has since been excised out the book. But when he was still “alive”, what did he have to day?

 

Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-213: July 27, 2015

A new voice in the head

 

The Bridadira (Protector) name Lawlidon made a sudden and dramatic appearance at the end of Part 2 of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was known as VIRUS 5. After Rei and Rome recovered, Lawlidon spoke to them for the first time:

 

“I apologize for the intensity,” said the voice. “This is the first time I have communicated with actual humans. I was not sure at what strength to transmit the signal.”

“Who are you?” Rei asked in his mind.

“I am Lawlidon,” replied the disembodied voice. “I am the Bridadira, assigned to this world.”

“What is a Bridadira?” Rome asked, entering into the conversation for the first time.

“A Protector. It is my job to see that this world survives the coming of the Cecetiras.”

“What are the Cecetiras?” asked Rei.

“They are hunters,” replied Lawlidon. “They are coming to kill all humans.”

“Bierak,” Keller shouted, this time getting Rei’s attention. “What is going on?”

Rei pointed up to the black sky, “We are in communication with whatever is blocking the sun, sir.”

“What is it doing here?” asked Fridone in Vuduri.

“I do not know,” Rome answered. “We are trying to find out.”

Rei closed his eyes. “Why do the Cecetiras want to kill humans?” he asked.

“I know that you are responsible for setting loose the VIRUS units on Tabit,” said Lawlidon. “Therefore you know of our origin.”

“So you are made up of VIRUS units?” Rome asked.

“In a manner of speaking,” said Lawlidon.

“This still doesn’t tell us anything,” Rei interjected.

“I will explain,” said Lawlidon. “After the Asdrale Cimatir was dead, the VIRUS units had no real directive other than to do everything in their power to prevent humans from dying at the hands of the Stareaters. There was great competition for the resources and eventually a form of cannibalism broke out. Groups of VIRUS units formed cooperative entities and I am one of the resulting forms.”

Rome interjected, “OMCOM told us that mutations occurred. This is what he meant?”

“Yes,” replied Lawlidon. “In fact, after things had settled, OMCOM contacted us and requested that we continue our mission. That is why I have come to you.”

 

He says why but he really doesn’t tell why. So Rei asks the obvious question. Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-214: July 28, 2015

This is stupid

 

Yesterday, Rome and Rei met Lawlidon, the Bridadira, for the first time. This conversation took place at the end of the older, longer version of the middle part of Rome’s Revolution. I had painted myself into a corner by creating the mutations so I had to do something with them. Even Rei realized my plan had some serious flaws:

 

“You still haven’t explained why the Cecetiras want to kill us,” Rei said. “It makes no sense, given that OMCOM instructed them to protect us.”

“The term protect is yours, not theirs. It is my designation. It does not apply to the Cecetiras. They believe that death by Asdrale Cimatir is inevitable for all living creatures, humans included. Therefore, they have taken it upon themselves to kill all humans before the Stareater gets there. In their way of thinking, this is preventing humans from dying by exposure to Asdrale Cimatir.”

“That’s pretty stupid,” Rei said.

“I did not say they were very smart,” replied Lawlidon.

“What do we do to stop them?” Rome asked.

“You do not. I do,” said Lawlidon. “That is my job. I must.”

“Have you done this before?” Rei asked.

“No,” replied Lawlidon. “This is my first assignment.”

“So what happens if you don’t stop them? What if they get past you?” Rei fired back.

“The Cecetiras are of the deadliest sort. They are made up of pure VIRUS units. It would not be good.”

“How is it that they would hurt us?” Rome asked.

“They will strike your world and they will consume it.”

“But we’re safe here,” Rei protested. “They can’t operate where there is oxygen. They can’t hurt us on this planet.”

“The individual units making up the Cecetiras have had their oxygen sensors disabled. They are pure consumption. They will eat your world in just a matter of hours or days.”

Rei looked at Rome and Aason. He had no words.

“But there is only one of you,” interjected MINIMCOM who had obviously been listening in the whole time. “I can detect several of these Cecetira on their way even as we speak. How do you propose to stop them should more than one arrive at the same time?”

 

Things look pretty bleak, huh? Never fear. MINIMCOM is here.

 

Entry 3-215: July 29, 2015

Battle plan

 

Just because the Bridadira named Lawlidon showed up at the end of the original Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, that did not mean the residents of Deucado were just going to sit idly by and leave their fate in the hands of somebody they just met. They did not panic but they decide to move quickly starting with MINIMCOM:

 

“I have certain abilities,” replied Lawlidon. “I must wait until they arrive to adapt my method of defense to their method of attack. I will deal with them in some fashion.”

“It sounds like a pretty poor plan to me,” Rei thought with disgust.

“We will find out soon,” said Lawlidon. “I, too, feel them approaching. I must go.”

With a palpable snap, the communication link was broken. Rei opened his eyes and looked out the window. As quickly as the sky had gone dark, it now was brightening as the sun emerged from behind the shadow of Lawlidon as he moved off, unblocking the warming rays of Tau Ceti.

ooked around the room at the assembled group.

“Quick,” he said to the people assembled there, “we have to go.” He got up and held out his arms toward Rome to help her up.

“Go where?” asked Pegus.

Rei turned to him. “I, I don’t know,” Rei said helplessly. He looked down at Rome. “Where do we go?”

Rome shook her head. “I do not think anywhere is safe. I think it is up to Lawlidon to stop the Cecetiras.”

“Who is Lawlidon?” asked Melloy.

“He is the reason the sun went dark,” said Rome. “He is here to protect us. He is the one that hurt our heads just now.

“Protect us from what?” asked Trabunel in Vuduri.

“From the Cecetiras,” replied Rome.

“What are Cecetiras?” asked Trabunel.

“They are what is left of the Stareater,” Rei said. He switched to English. “The VIRUS units killed it then formed some sort of creatures. Bad ones.”

“Bad ones how?” asked Keller.

“According to Lawlidon, they’ve made it their mission to kill us before the Stareaters do,” answered Rei.

“Kill us?” said several people at once, in several languages. The noise level grew to a general hubbub as the people in the room started to talk among themselves. Finally, Keller said “why?”

“They are compelled to guarantee that no humans die from a Stareater. So they are going to kill us first, just to make sure,” Rei offered.

“Goddamned insane,” Keller said. “What do we do?”

“I don’t know,” Rei answered, shrugging.

Pegus motioned to the others. In English he said, “Let us launch. We have some weapons. Perhaps they will be effective.”

“Your tiny weapons against a creature that size?” Melloy spat. He was not a fan of the Vuduri. “What good will those do?”

“I do not know,” said Pegus. “But we must try.”

 

Tomorrow, not only is MINIMCOM going to fight, he also provides a handy set of eyes and ears in space.

 

Entry 3-216: July 30, 2015

The Vuduri Armada

 

Deucado is about to be attacked by evil mutations created by OMCOM at the end of the old, longer version of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution. The Vuduri had never put together a battle fleet before so this was a learning experience for everyone, including the Overmind:

 

Since Rome’s instruction of Pegus on how to withdraw, the Overmind of Deucado was becoming progressively weaker as the mental discipline to separate partially or fully took hold within the Vuduri population. The role of the Overmind was reduced to that of communication and central fact collector. In this regard, even as Pegus and the others were moving, all the Vuduri knew via the Overmind that they were under assault. Troops and pilots scrambled to take possession of the shuttles and ships parked in neat rows at the space port.

Assembly was slow as each of the Vuduri had to locate and convince their mandasurte counterparts to accompany them. Their training sessions had only begun and while many were not ready to take sole possession of the vehicles, they were inclined to save the lives of their families. Communication was made all the more difficult because most of the Vuduri were not used to speaking and had to learn that skill even while the mandasurte were learning how to operate the spacecraft.

Many of the Vuduri spaceships were unarmed. Those that were fitted with weapons were equipped with magnetic pulse cannons, electrostatic charge disrupters and PPT throwers. The pulse cannons would react with anything that was metallic or capable of magnet attraction and could vaporize any of those materials with tremendously destructive force. The electrostatic charge disrupters were essentially lightning bolts that could extend over large distances and evaporated most matter with extremely high temperatures and voltage. The most deadly of all were the PPT throwers. They sent a miniature PPT tunnel long distances and could slice through any known substance. They were capable of shredding very large masses into tiny pieces in nearly an instant.

Once all the ships were manned, they arose in a neat formation, first via their electrogravitic lifters and later by their plasma drives as they flew above the atmosphere. Shortly thereafter, they employed the peculiar method used by all Vuduri when required to fly faster-than-light. They came to a complete halt, opened up their PPT tunnels and stepped through. Just like that, the armada was gone.

 

A tremendous space battle is shaping up. Too bad it got excised in the final version of the book. But at least you get to experience it here.

 

Tomorrow, MINIMCOM launches.

 

Entry 3-217: July 31, 2015

What’s happening?

 

Yesterday, I showed you the launch of the Vuduri battle fleet, getting ready to take on the evil Cecetiras who want to exterminate all humans. This takes place near the end of the older long-form version of Rome’s Revolution. Rome and Rei were stuck in Rome’s post-birthing room with the infant Aason. They had no way to know what was happening, even though there was a very real possibility that they were going to die very shortly. MINIMCOM came up with a simple solution:

 

Back in Rome’s room, Fridone spoke up. “Egire, i qua?” Fridone asked.

Rome closed her eyes and called up to MINIMCOM. “Do you know what is happening?” she asked.

“Yes but explaining it to you gives you no better insight. I could improve upon that greatly,” MINIMCOM replied.

“How?” Rei, who was also listening in, asked.

“I could show you,” MINIMCOM.

“Then do it please,” Rome said in her mind knowing full well that the computer/spaceship was usually too literal to take such initiative on its own.

“Of course,” MINIMCOM replied in her mind. Rei and Aason listened in as well. “Darken the room,” MINIMCOM requested.

Rome spoke to her father. “Beo, fica feo dorer es cirdones?” Rome asked. Fridone nodded. He walked over to the large, arched window and pulled the draped panels closed. He turned back as there was a humming sound coming from the general vicinity of the low table near the couch. Above the table, the air shimmered and sparkled. Suddenly, there was a whoosh and a popping noise and then there was a small, black conical object which settled on the surface of the table.

“What is that?” Rei asked out loud.

“An image projector,” MINIMCOM replied from a speaker built into the object. With that, a portal opened on one side and a beam of light shot out illuminating the far wall with a dark background punctuated by bright points of light. To the human watchers, it was easy to tell that they were looking at a star field. Across the field of vision, a shiny dark form appeared, silhouetted by the stars behind it, looking something like a wishbone but with a concave, parabolic surface on the front.

“That is Lawlidon,” said MINIMCOM.

“That’s Lawlidon?” said Rei to no one in particular. “He looks like a giant piece of black coral.”

“Form does not always belie function,” MINIMCOM replied.

ield of view panned back and off to the left and top, a twinkling appeared which eventually resolved it into three points of light.

“Those are the Cecetiras,” MINIMCOM said, highlighting the images with a faint circle.

“How big are they?” Keller asked. “I can’t tell from the images.”

“Roughly the size of a space station,” MINIMCOM replied.

 

Tomorrow, the space battle begins in earnest!

 

Entry 3-218: August 1, 2015

The first blow

 

Yesterday, we saw MINIMCOM provide Rome and Rei with “eyes and ears” in space to witness the oncoming space battle between Lawlidon and the Cecetiras. This takes place at the end of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was three separate novels known as VIRUS 5.

 

Lawlidon is poised and ready. The Cecetiras come in for the first attack:

 

“Those are the Cecetiras,” MINIMCOM said, highlighting the images with a faint circle.

“How big are they?” Keller asked. “I can’t tell from the images.”

“Roughly the size of a space station,” MINIMCOM replied.

“Ugh!” Rei said with disgust. “And they…” He stopped speaking. As quick as an electrical arc, two of the points of light split off while one flew straight at Lawlidon at an unbelievable rate. The Cecetira struck with such force that L-shaped figure broke into two pieces with the main trunk tumbling backwards. They could see from the cloud of material that jetted off the surface of the Bridadira that a vast part of Lawlidon vaporized.

“Lawlidon, are you all right?” Rei asked in his mind. Rome and Aason could ‘hear’ the interchange as well.

“Processing,” was all that Lawlidon replied.

Keller said, “Is he alive? Is he fighting?”

“Yes,” Rei answered.

“Qua sa besse cim es tues qua cimacao evesdeti?” asked Fridone.

“What about the two that got away?” Rei asked in his mind of the huge creature.

There was no response from Lawlidon initially. Then, the “leg” of Lawlidon that broke off spouted a plume of exhaust from its rear and began to accelerate in the direction of the two Cecetiras that got away. The leg segment quickly went off screen. Where the Cecetira had struck the body of Lawlidon, the cavity that had been created by the collision was beginning to close, almost encapsulating the glowing killer.

“Is he winning?” Keller said? “Do you know what is happening?”

“We do not know,” Rome said, “We must wait and see. Watch.”

Personally, I think I’d rather do more than just watch but I guess they didn’t really have any place to go.

 

 

Tomorrow, the battle for the stars heats up. And here, for the first time, is a fuzzy image of Lawlidon, as he went into battle. Remember, he is the size of a small moon:

 

 

Entry 3-219: August 2, 2015

Indigestion

 

Yesterday, we saw Lawlidon swallow up one of the oncoming Cecetiras. I also showed you, for the first time, a actual (although somewhat fuzzy) image of Lawlidon in space. This whole section is from the older version of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution when it was called VIRUS 5. This next part shows you want happened after Lawlidon “swallowed” the first attacking Cecetira (hunter-killer).

 

Where the Cecetira had entered, the remaining section of Lawlidon began to glow. The images made it hard to determine exactly what was happening but over time, they could see that where the object had struck it was growing. The glow brightened. The front section became misshapen and started inflating like a dark balloon. The surface roiled as if a great heat were coming from within. The aneurysm swelled and burst. A cloud of mixed grey, black and white matter jetted outward. The other “leg” of Lawlidon’s mass drifted away slowly.

Lawlidon’s entire log-like shape swelled and bent and bubbled like it was doused in acid. The deformation continued until the center section was nearly spherical, glowing brightly.

“Eche qua ala asde mirdi?” asked Fridone.

“Who knows?” Rei replied.

“He’s done for,” growled Keller, “finished.” To him, the whole method of fighting seemed poorly thought out.

“Nei, asbara,” said Fridone, pointing.

The mass that had been Lawlidon’s “body” began to spin. Faster and faster it went until it became a blur. Small glowing pieces started flying off, like sweat off of a horse. The scene lit up with a bright flash then Lawlidon went dark, stopping suddenly and straightening out, approximating his form from earlier. The “leg” that had drifted off came back and reattached itself to the whole. Another section of his body pinched off, extruding until its length matched that of the reattached leg. However, this time, instead of resembling a wishbone, the being looked a bit more like the Greek letter lambda.

“Sare qua ossi sognovoce qua ala genhiu?” Fridone asked.

“Yes, I think he won this battle,” Rei answered.

“But the other two devils,” Keller said. “They’re still loose.”

“MINIMCOM,” Rome said, can you show us the other two Cecetiras?

“Certainly,” MINIMCOM replied.

The scene shifted and the assembled humans could see the two brightly lit Cecetiras moving toward the planet. From the rate the stars were moving in the background, they could tell they were moving at high speed.

 

As a rookie, Lawlidon was pretty flawed in his battle plan. Who will step up to the plate to get the rest of them?

 

Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-220: August 3, 2015

Diversion

 

Yesterday, we saw that Lawlidon, the Bridadira (protector) swallowed one of the hunter-killers known as the Cecetiras. This is right at the end of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution back when it was known as VIRUS 5. As we saw, Lawlidon’s capture of the first Cecetira seemed too easy. And the fact is, it was. Rome and Rei, were watching from within Rome’s birthing room using the image projector that MINIMCOM had rigged up for them.

 

The scene shifted and the assembled humans could see the two brightly lit Cecetiras moving toward the planet. From the rate the stars were moving in the background, they could tell they were moving at high speed.

Within seconds, the plasma-powered detached “leg” of Lawlidon came into view and aimed right at one of the two Cecetiras which made no attempt to evade it. At the last instant, Lawlidon’s “leg” extruded four tendrils which latched onto the Cecetira and began to draw it in. The VIRUS units making up the Cecetira began infiltrating the ‘tissue’ of the Bridadira remnant and tiny, vein-like extensions of white began infusing themselves into the body. All the while, the plasma jet from the ‘leg’ was firing accelerating them ever forward. The image of the two intertwined entities became blurry then began to phase in and out. At first, one would have concluded that the transmission had gone bad but the regularity of their appearance and disappearance undermined that perception.

“They are using some sort of alternate method of propulsion,” MINICOM said. “I will program the starprobes to predict their locations while they are in our space to track.”

The image stabilized but the strobing pattern remained as the grappling creatures popped in and out of existence. Whenever they were visible, the black and white swirling patterns showed an ebb and flow of tiny victories and defeats as the combatants tissues commingled. All the while the assembled mess moved farther and farther away from the planet. The star probe point-of-view hung back and the combined entity grew smaller and smaller.

“Preliminary estimate of their trajectory shows the appendage is aiming them right for the star, Tau Ceti,” MINIMCOM offered.

“Do you think he’ll get it done?” Rei asked.

“I have computed the ratio of transformation from one type to the other and as long as the rate of change stays constant, they will hit the star long before either side establishes a final victory.”

“Which means Lawlidon beat the next one?” Keller said. “Too easy. Why didn’t that thing try and get away?”

“I believe it is what you would call a diversion,” Rome said.

“You mean he’s sacrificing himself so the last one can get away?” Rei asked.

“Yes,” replied Rome sadly.

“Now what?” Keller said. “What about the last one?”

“The Vuduri fleet is on its way,” MINIMCOM said as if in reply.

“Show us,” Rome said.

 

That’s all until tomorrow!

 

Entry 3-221: August 4, 2015

The battle for the stars, part 1

 

Yesterday, we saw that the Protector (known as Bridadira in Vuduri) named Lawlidon was successful in stopping two of the three hunter-killers known as the Cecetira. But the third one slipped by. It would only take one to destroy a planet.

 

The Vuduri armada had launched and was in position to take on the deadly entity. Today we begin a three-part description of that battle. Interestingly, back when Rome’s Revolution was still the three-part novel known as VIRUS 5, the final portion was named exactly, that, Battle For the Stars or Pedelhe Bere Es Asdrales in Vuduri.

 

The Vuduri convoy was organized into three waves, divided up by the weaponry they kept on board. The leading wave was made up of ships outfitted with the PPT throwers since those weapons had the longest reach. They used their MIDAR screens and as the Cecetira came within range, wordlessly they began the attack. The miniature PPT tunnels were invisible but their effect was not. With surgical precision, hairline cracks appeared in the diamond-shaped Cecetira. Shredding the being into tinier and tinier fragments, its bulk slowed its approach and then came to a halt.

The mass that had been the Cecetira expanded until it was just a cloud-like layer of material.

“They did it!” Keller exclaimed.

“Nei sa drede meos ta,” said Fridone.

“That was too easy,” Rei said.

“Yes, too easy,” Rome said. “Look,” she said, pointing.

The gas cloud that had been the Cecetira stopped drifting. The cloud swirled around tornadicly but never coalesced into anything the PPT throwers could strike against. The cloud darted forward and swept past the PPT throwers, pushing them aside with a shockwave that could not be seen. The Vuduri ships tumbled out of control and the Cecetira pressed on.

The cloud approached the next wave of ships which fired their electrostatic charge disrupters simultaneously, striking the heart of the cloud. The remains of the Cecetira exploded outward but even as it was expanding, each little cloudlet coalesced into a tiny ball. As far as the eye could see, there were hundreds of balls and the Vuduri ships fired their lightning bolts over and over but every time they struck a portion of the Cecetira, it split into other, smaller pellets and moved on.

The Vuduri ships tried valiantly but the granularity of the enemy made the weapons essentially useless. Every time a bolt hit one pellet, the material that made it up simply scattered to join others like beads of mercury. The mass of Cecetira pellets swept past toward Deucado. The second armada turned about to continue their pursuit of the Cecetira. However, one ship did not. Clearly, it headed away from the rest.

 

Who was on that ship? None other than Sussen, the spy. Now, even if they win, they lose because she will go to Earth and rat them out. That sucks.

 

Tomorrow, Part 2.

 

Entry 3-222: August 5, 2015

The battle for the stars, part 2

 

The Protector (known as Bridadira in Vuduri) named Lawlidon was successful in stopping two of the three hunter-killers known as the Cecetira. But the third one slipped by. It would only take one to destroy a planet. This section came at the end of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was called VIRUS 5.

 

Yesterday, we saw the Vuduri armada use what weaponry they had to try and stop the invader but the Cecetira was too malleable to be slowed down or stopped.

 

Today, I will show you the third and final wave and their attempt to save their planet:

 

“Where is that one going?” Rei asked.

“Perhaps to help the others?” Rome speculated.

“Wrong way,” Keller interjected. “That ship is headed away from where the others were located.”

“Muodi asdrenhi,” Fridone said.

“Yeah,” Rei echoed. “Too strange.”

The Vuduri ships continued their pursuit, following the mass that had been the Cecetira, firing their weapons continuously but it was clear this particular weapon had lost its effectiveness.

hird wave of Vuduri ships, those carrying the magnetic pulse cannons, charged up and fired their weapons. Based upon their reaction, there must have been some type of magnetic material in the underlying elemental structure because the cloud of pellets stopped moving. The pulse cannons fired again and again, pulverizing the cloud into tinier elements.

Suddenly, the area of space in front of the cloud shimmered and the cloud was gone.

“What happened?” Rei asked.

“The cloud has teleported,” MINIMCOM replied.

“Where?” Rome asked.

“To me,” MINIMCOM replied.

The projected image split. On the left, the wasp-waisted spaceship that was MINIMCOM was shown firing his plasma thrusters. On the right, the cloud that had jumped toward MINIMCOM was rapidly coalescing into the compact diamond shape it had utilized when it first arrived. The more tightly the entity became packed, the brighter the glow. The star probe camera panned back and where there had been two images, now there was one. MINIMCOM became a tiny dot compared to the space station-sized bulk that was the Cecetira, clearly in pursuit of MINIMCOM.

bservers could tell that the two entities were moving because the star field serving as background was moving. But MINIMCOM’s plasma thrusters were powerful enough to increase the gap between the two ever so slightly. As the gap widened, it appeared MINIMCOM was growing.

“What are you doing?” Rei asked MINIMCOM.

“What I must,” replied the spaceship computer. “I am applying the gas law. Trading density for volume.”

As they watched, they could see the basic linear shape of the space tug’s body was swelling into a spheroid. Larger and larger it grew. The only link to MINIMCOM’s previous form were the plasma jets.

 

Tomorrow, MINIMCOM to the rescue!

 

Entry 3-223: August 6, 2015

The battle for the stars, part 3

 

The Protector (known as Bridadira in Vuduri) named Lawlidon was successful in stopping two of the three hunter-killers known as the Cecetira. But the third one slipped by. It would only take one to destroy a planet. This section came at the end of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was called VIRUS 5.

 

Yesterday, we saw the final wave of the Vuduri armada failed to stop the invader. Their only hope, now, was MINIMCOM using his unique skill set to put an end to the threat:

 

“What are you trying to accomplish?” Rei questioned.

“You will see shortly,” replied MINIMCOM. “It is time for this being to ‘meet his maker’ so to speak.”

MINIMCOM continued to grow. A split appeared where the cargo door and ramp had been that widened until MINIMCOM became a miniature replica of a Stareater. Triangular-shaped ridges began to form along the edges, almost like teeth. Somewhere in the back of Rei’s mind, he thought to himself this was yet another one of MINIMCOM’s jokes but why he would pick now to fool around was beyond Rei’s sensibilities.

This incomprehensible process continued until MINIMCOM had swelled to beyond the size of the Cecetira. Then the plasma thrusters reversed and MINICOM appeared to be flying right at the Cecetira. The creature flew through the opening created in the cargo section of MINIMCOM and the back edges, the “jaws” slammed shut, swallowing the Cecetira whole. The thing tore through MINIMCOM and his middle and front became swollen and distended. The back end of the shuttle began to inflate even further, like a clown’s balloon.

“MINIMCOM, are you all right?” Rome asked in her mind.

“Still functional but I am a little busy right now,” replied the spaceship through its speaker as its bloated rear began to glow. The bucking and jarring continued. There was an explosion and a hole appeared on MINIMCOM’s side and bright hot gasses started expelling from within.

mages stopped. The projector was still operating but nothing but a dark blue glow appeared on the wall.

“MINIMCOM!” shouted Rome, but there was no answer.

The four adults in the room looked around at each other but no one spoke. Rei sat down on the bed and reached out to hold Rome’s hand. She clutched it tightly in the silence and dim light.

“What has happened, mother?” Aason asked directly to his mother in her mind.

“I do not know, baby,” Rome replied.

“Even if MINIMCOM won,” Keller said quietly. “Even if Lawlidon won. It’s clear to me that they can only handle a couple of those things at a time. If they ever come as a larger group, we’ve got no chance. We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Rome,” Rei said. “Ask the Overmind if he has enough ships to abandon this planet.”

“Overmind,” Rome called out in her mind, addressing the Overmind for the first time since the battle began. “Do you have enough ships to transport all the people off this planet?”

“No,” The Overmind answered apologetically. “The most we could take would be several hundred people at a time. There are more than ten thousand here now not even including Rei’s people. No, we do not have the capacity.”

“No,” Rome said to Rei sadly. “The Overmind said they do not have enough ships. Not for the Vuduri. Not for your people.”

“How many can we save?” asked Keller.

 

Tomorrow, the final reality. And MINIMCOM dies. So sad.

 

Entry 3-224: August 7, 2015

MINIMCOM dies, again

 

The Protector (known as Bridadira in Vuduri) named Lawlidon was successful in stopping two of the three hunter-killers known as the Cecetira. But the third one slipped by. It would only take one to destroy a planet. This section came at the end of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was called VIRUS 5.

 

Yesterday, we saw the Vuduri armada failed completely and it was only MINIMCOM’s quick thinking that saved the planet. But the fact is, the humans on Deucado realized they could never win if even five or 10 Cecetira showed up next time:

 

“Shouldn’t we try and save as many as we can?” Rei said. “Ask him.”

“I know you heard them through my ears,” Rome thought. “Well?”

“Rome, you both must understand, even if we did have a way to save these people, there is nowhere to go. The Overmind of Earth that is my progenitor has decreed that the mandasurte must remain on this planet under all circumstances.”

“Even if it is just to die?” Rome asked.

“You already know the answer to that,” the Overmind replied sadly.

“The Overmind says they cannot leave anyway,” Rome said to Rei and Keller and her father. “There is a quarantine on this planet for all mandasurte and that would include the Essessoni.”

“Why?” asked Keller. “You never explained that.”

“Because there is a part of the Overmind of Earth that wants all mandasurte transported to this planet to remain imprisoned here.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Keller said.

“I haven’t had the time to explain any of this to you, sir,” Rei said. “But there is some sort of backlash going on, on Earth.”

“The Overmind fears the mandasurte are a danger to its existence,” Rome said. “This is the only way it can know to purify itself and Earth.”

“Purify?” said Keller. “That sounds a lot like ethnic cleansing to me.”

“It is,” Rei said. “But that’s the way it is.”

“Ilher a far!” said Fridone, pointing at the wall. “Omegans!”

“Images?” Rei said. The group turned back to the projected wall and saw a black globe, spinning in place. Approaching from the far edge was a twisted version of the lambda shape of Lawlidon. The closer object on the right began morphing back into the wasp-waisted form of MINIMCOM.

“MINIMCOM, you did it,” Rei shouted. “Good for you!”

“Bzz, brr, ,” responded MINIMCOM. It was not an answer, just a series of noises. The point of view panned back farther and farther until the full bulk of Lawlidon could be seen. The tiny speck that was the remains of MINIMCOM was dwarfed by the titanic bulk of the all-black Protector. Without warning, MINIMCOM fired his over-powered plasma thrusters full-bore. The plume of flame was bright, brighter than Rei had ever seen. It was so bright that Rei had to hold his arm up to shield his eyes from the light. MINIMCOM accelerated forward at an incredible rate, heading straight for Lawlidon. Seconds later, MINIMCOM crashed directly into Lawlidon’s parabolic reflector causing a tremendous explosion.

“Omigod! MINIMCOM!” Rei shouted in anguish, seeing only a cloud of vapor billowing out the site of the blast.

“MINIMCOM!” Rome screamed, but their friend, the spaceship that was once a computer, was gone.

 

Is he really dead? And if so, why kill him at all, let alone again? Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-225: August 8, 2015

Why keep killing him?

 

Yesterday MINIMCOM apparently died. Again. Why?

 

It turns out, MINIMCOM was not even in my original drafts of Rome’s Revolution. He was just a bit character that I patterned after the smart aleck-y bomb in Dark Star. If you’ve never seen that movie, you should. It was written by Dan O’Bannon as a comedy. It didn’t see huge success and the plot was later recycled as a horror movie in space called Alien with Sigourney Weaver. You’ve probably heard of that one. Still to this day, Dolittle’s attempt to teach Bomb #20 phenomenology is one of the funniest scenes I have ever watched. The bomb’s voice has been echoing in my head for 30 years and it popped out as MINIMCOM.

 

Maybe that was the driving force but for whatever reason, MIMIMCOM just kind of grew organically out of the natural progression of the story. He went from being a throwaway character, computer really, to one of the most beloved characters in the Rome’s Revolution universe all on his own. By sheer strength of personality, I think. So why did I have him crushed beneath the Ark in Part 2?. And why in the section that I have been describing over the past few days?

 

The answer is simple: drama. Everybody cries when a beloved character dies. This was one of the primary design principles behind J. R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. He purposefully created a world populated by characters that were identifiable and even likeable, just so he could kill them off.

 

In real life, things just don’t stop. Life goes on. In fiction, the only way to truly end a story line is to kill off a character. So poor MINIMCOM has been the sacrificial lamb (or maybe cat? 9 lives?) to serve this dramatic purpose. One of the major, emotional peaks of The Ark Lords was when MINIMCOM seemingly died, sacrificing himself for the good of all humanity but mainly for his beloved Rome and Rei.

 

Don’t worry, he always get resurrected at exactly a crucial moment. That’s one of the other reasons for killing him off, so he can come back from the dead! And rest assured he’ll survive yesterday’s apparent suicide. I’ll give that to you in a few days.

 

But first, we’re going to take a little detour and go to Hawaii!

 

Entry 3-226: August 9, 2015

Hello to Hawaii

 

My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Hawaii. It was the biggest trip of my life both in length as well as expense. We visited Oahu for two days, the Big Island of Hawaii for three days and Maui for four days.

 

Let me just say, Hawaii is everything that everyone tells you it is. I would go back in a minute. It truly is paradise on Earth. It is also very expensive! But the views, the vistas, the flowers, the smells, the ocean, the forests, all are staggeringly gorgeous.

 

As a writer, you write best about what you know. The sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Hawaii had such a strong effect on me that I found a hundred different ways to weave it into the Rome’s Revolution novels. Over the next few days, I will give you some specific examples. Here is a map of Hawaii:

 

 

As I have been writing my novels, I always think (or dream, really) about making the books into movies. I carefully crafted the original long-form version called VIRUS 5 so that each book could be shot in Hawaii. Even after I crushed the three novels into one long book, I still think each part would make its own movie so I refuse to let go of that fantasy.

 

My wife and I joke about how depressing it would be to have to move to Hawaii for two years to shoot the three movies back-to-back with the same cast. So sad. Forced to live in Hawaii for two long years. Ha ha.

 

Anyway, tomorrow, I will review our trip to Oahu and what elements from there made into the Rome’s Revolution novels.

 

Entry 3-227: August 10, 2015

Oahu

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

Our first stop on our trip to Hawaii was the island of Oahu. Oahu is the home of Honolulu, Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor. Here is a picture of Diamond Head, as seen from the beach in Honolulu.

 

 

Honolulu itself did not impress me all that much. It is a big city and didn’t seem all that different from any other big city. If you were walking down the street and you didn’t know you were in Hawaii, you wouldn’t know you were in Hawaii.

 

That didn’t deter me. When I was charting out my future history for Rome’s Revolution, I created two pockets of humanity. The bulk of the people to survive the Darwin Strain 4 virus ended up in Portugal. This is where the city of I-cimaci sprung up and is the home of the Vuduri.

 

But the mandasurte retreated to Hawaii, later called Havei and lived there quite happily. They fished and grew crops and maintained a culture that transcended the march of centuries. It was ostensibly the research into the migration patterns of the Red Opah (also known as a moonfish) that brought Fridone and Binoda, Rome’s parents, together in the first place. Their story is spelled out in detail in the beginning of The Ark Lords.

 

When I decided to have a double climax, the destruction of MASAL followed by the return of the Stareaters, that second climax took place in Berlis Harbor which is just Vuduri for Pearl Harbor. I created a plaza there where Rome delivered her “people of Earth” speech. It overlooked the ocean and was inspired by the view shown above.

 

Tomorrow, let’s go over to the Big Island of Hawaii.

 

Entry 3-228: August 11, 2015

The Big Island, part 1

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

After we made our requisite visit to the Pearl Harbor National Park, we found there really wasn’t that much to do on Oahu. Sure, we went to the beach and we had some great meals but really, we were ready to leave even after two days.

 

Our next stop was the Big Island of Hawaii, home of Kona coffee. I love Kona coffee. I just checked and we still have some coffee beans in our freezer and they are seven years old! Still delicious!

 

The Big Island, also known as Hawaii, is only 800,000 years old. It is still growing and the source of this growth is the volcanic activity underneath. Kilauea is currently active. I was excited by the possibility of seeing rivers of molten lava pouring out but when we flew over the volcano in a helicopter, it wasn’t quite as exciting as my imagination:

 

 

Nonetheless, I was so impressed by the concept that I had MASAL and his Onsira minions build their secret base beneath Kilauea although I postulated that it was completely dormant by the 35th century.

 

Tomorrow, black sands, dolphins and where I came up with the idea for The Hand, featured in Rome’s Evolution.

 

Entry 3-229: August 12, 2015

The Big Island, part 2

 

Uur trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

The black sands on the Big Island are very impressive. The graffiti there is done in tiny white rocks which lay in contrast to the black sand. We had Kona coffee every day and Mai-Tais every night. When we were on the Big Island, we took a swim with the dolphins and a helicopter ride over Kilauea, mentioned yesterday.

 

I cannot pick out any one scene or sight because they were all amazing but one in particular struck me as so interesting, it served as the inspiration for The Hand of Deucado, as feature in Rome’s Evolution. Here is a picture of the “secret valley” otherwise known as Waipio Valley:

 

 

For some reason, my imagination took the black, volcanic rock of the rest of the Big Island and thought of it grafted on to the spectacular mountain enclosing the secret valley which is called Valley of the Kings by the residents.

 

You may not think they look alike and The Hand is supposed to be its own thing but this is where I got the idea.

 

In the end, it was Kilauea that captured my imagination so fully. More on that tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-230: August 13, 2015

Kilauea

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

There are actually currently three active volcanoes in Hawaii. On the Big Island, you have Maunaloa and Kilauea. Maunaloa last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983. The third volcano is called Loihi and it is located underwater off the southern coast of the Big Island. It has been erupting since 1996, and may break the surface in about 250,000 years.

 

In a previous post, I discussed MASAL’s secret base underneath Kilauea but I figured by the 35th century, it would have probably run its course. MASAL figured he was safe because nobody would ever look down there for him. Also, the residual heat from the volcano would mask his activities and also provide, through thermocouples, unlimited power.

 

But it was the idea of having Kilauea erupt in all its glory that really got me going. I figured, what could be cooler. So I had Rome and Rei use some weaponized VIRUS units to burrow down until they could unleash the magma:

 

 

So while I did not see anything like it, I figured when the time came to make the movie, the volcano erupting would make for some spectacular imagery.

 

What do you think? Tomorrow, let’s head on over to Maui and see what we see.

 

Entry 3-231: August 14, 2015

Maui, part 1

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

We only had three days on the Big Island and quite frankly, I could have spent more time there but we were anxious to get to Maui. Everyone told us that island was really the crown jewel. It was supposed to have even more of everything. More beautiful beaches, better food, rain forests, giant craters and so on.

 

Maui did not disappoint. We stayed at a place called Wailea which faced west along the southern portion of Maui:

 

 

Even though it looks like it is nowhere, Maui is not that big so we really could get everywhere on the island, quite easily, on any given day.

 

We went to a genuine luau in Lahaina, took a bicycle ride down the slopes of Haleakala, drove the rode to Hana and walked the bamboo forests there. We also ate at a restaurant called Mama’s Fish House on the north shore. Click here for a picture. If you ever find yourself on Maui, if you only eat at one place, you must go there.

 

At Mama’s, they literally have the freshest fish in the world. They don’t even prepare their menu until the fishing boat captains radio what they caught that day on their way back. The menu not only tells you what the fish is, but who caught it, when and where. It was spectacular.

 

Anyway, you can see from the map that the beach at Wailea faces west. It was this very beach where I put Rome and Rei during their exile near the end of part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. Even the green flash I mentioned in the book was inspired by the view facing west.

 

Tomorrow, I will show you Haleakala and how it inspired the moon of Dara.

 

Entry 3-232: August 15, 2015

Maui, part 2

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

On our second day on Maui, we got up at the crack of dawn and they took us in van, up the dormant volcano of Haleakala to its peak, over 10,000 feet up. We were so high up, we were above the clouds. You look out on the giant crater and you cannot help but be impressed by its size and desolation.

 

 

They gave us each a bicycle and we rode down the entire mountain and it was awesome but you can see from the image above, that is Dara. The color, the consistency of soil, all were taken directly from my time at the top of Haleakala, looking down into the crater.

 

Since it is a National Park, I don’t think they’d let us film the first movie there but maybe there are parts that would be made available.

 

After our day on Haleakala and our dinner at Mama’s Fish House, the next day we drove around the island and took the road to Hana. That one trip created the entire world of Deucado!

 

More on that tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-233: August 16, 2015

Maui, part 3

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

We rented a convertible and took a drive around the northern part of Maui along the coast and down the western edge. Collectively, it is called the Road to Hana and is supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world.

 

Let me tell you, it really is. What they don’t tell you is it is also very scary. There are hairpin turns and the edge of the cliff is just a few feet away during much of the drive.

 

But the things you see from desert to beaches to flowered landscapes to a tropical rain forest come at you with such speed and diversity, you cannot help but be amazed.

 

When you finally get to Hana, there is an entrance to Haleakala National Park which leads to the Oheo Gulch. You have to hike waaay up but when you get to the top, there are spectacular waterfalls, more than you can believe. But the thing that impressed me the most was when we entered the Bamboo Forest. This forest literally created the world of Deucado in my mind. How? I’ll explain tomorrow:

 

 

Entry 3-234: August 17, 2015

The Bamboo Forest

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

The Oheo Gulch is part of the Haleakala National Park. My wife and hiked up to the top and passed through the bamboo forest. It was probably one of the neatest experiences of my life.

 

The bamboo trees themselves were planted on Deucado and simply renamed cane trees but don’t be fooled. They are just bamboo. In part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, Rei had just learned about his sonar vision and the wind causes the cane trees to sway and make an ethereal, clacking noise.

 

This really happened to us. We were in the middle of the bamboo forest when the wind picked up and the sound was almost indescribable. We just stood there for a long while and took it all in.

 

There were other parts of the forest where the trees grew so thick that it became very dark. You will see a repetition of this scene over and over in many of my books. I copied it in Rome’s Revolution, The Ark Lords and most recently in The Milk Run both on Hades and on Ay’den.

 

I guess you can tell that I loved the whole experience. This image doesn’t do it justice but might give you hint:

 

 

Entry 3-235: August 18, 2015

Molokai and Lawlidon

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

 

We never got to the island of Molokai but I liked the name so much that I made it the name of the main god-like character at the center of The Milk Run.

 

When we were on Maui, my wife wanted a souvenir (jewelry, of course) of our trip there so I bought her a piece of black coral.

 

 

The short-lived Bridadira named Lawlidon was designed, stolen actually, right from this piece of jewelry.

 

There was a luau scene in the original long-form of Rome’s Revolution back when it was still known as VIRUS 5 that was taken directly from one of the luaus we attended while on Maui. One of the interesting sidelights of that scene was that was the closest Rome and Rei ever got to having a fight. And over money, no less.

 

Rome and Rei had been drinking kefir, a blend of milk and fermented coconut juice that Rei found particularly enjoyable. Rome seemed to enjoy it too. But alcohol lowers inhibitions and Rei took affront at Rome saying money was stupid. She was right and he was wrong but at the time, he took it a bit too personally.

 

There are other tiny elements of the stories that have snuck in here and there but these are the major ones. Tomorrow, we will say goodbye to Hawaii. At least until the movies are made!

 

Entry 3-236: August 19, 2015

Goodbye to Hawaii

 

Our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon had a profound effect on me and the scenes and sights contained within Rome’s Revolution. This is a summary of what we saw and how it made it into the novels.

 

This post marks the end of our little tour of Hawaii. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If I ever get Rome’s Revolution made into movie, Part 1 would be filmed either within the confines of the crater of Haleakala or as close to the crater as we could get.

 

Part 2 would be filmed, for the most part, within one of the bamboo forests on Maui. There are plenty of places not in a National Park so it can be done.

 

Part 3 would be filmed on all three islands. They’d have to find a location that resembles Portugal for the first act. The second act would take place on Wailea on Maui. The first climax would take place with the exterior shots of Kilauea on the Big Island. Obviously the eruption of the volcano would have to be using CGI.

 

The final climax would be filmed on Oahu, at Pearl Harbor. From there, we’d go home back to the bamboo forest which is supposed to be Deucado.

 

If we ever got to filming The Ark Lords, we’d go back to Maui. We’d do it again for Rome’s Evolution with a brief stop in southern California.

 

For The Milk Run, the scenes on Ay’den could be filmed anywhere in Hawaii. For Hades? Who knows? Bottom line: our trip to Hawaii was awesome and filled my head with enough imagery to last a lifetime. Thanks for coming along with me.

 

 

Entry 3-237: August 20, 2015

Rocket fuel

 

Now that we are back from our trip to Hawaii, it’s time to resurrect MINIMCOM from certain death in the last portion of the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution. But before we do, I wanted to tell you a little bit about rocket fuel.

 

Specific impulse is a measure of the efficiency of rocket and jet engines. According to Wikipedia, it is the “impulse delivered per unit of propellant consumed, and is dimensionally equivalent to the thrust generated per unit propellant flow rate.” Basically, it is a measure of how the fuel you carry is going to get you where you are going.

 

The following chart shows the specific impulse of some of the more efficient rocket fuels:

 

Liquid Hydrogen/Liquid Oxygen – Isp = 455

Liquid Oxygen/Kerosene – Isp = 358

Nitrogen Tetroxide/Hydrazine – Isp = 344

 

From this list, you can see that liquid hydrogen/oxygen mix would be the most powerful but it is also impractical to use to go to the stars because of volume of fuel you would require.

 

In the novel The Milk Run, OMCOM and Junior deduce where the invisible planet of Ay’den must be located by using specific impulse. Based upon the timing parameters, they knew the planet could only be as certain discrete locations in orbit around Nu2 Lupi.

 

To make the plot move along, I let the first combo, liquid hydrogen/oxygen be wrong so that Aason and Aroline could have enough time to complete Aason’s training. But I made the second combo the correct one to make sure the story didn’t get boring. I incorrectly had OMCOM state that the main fuel was hydrazine when I meant to say kerosene. However, hydrazine is a much cooler sounding fuel so just call it dramatic license!

 

 

Entry 3-238: August 21, 2015

Recycling Sussen

 

The character named Sussen, named after my cousin Susan, has had many lives leading up to the modern version of Rome’s Revolution. In the original long-form version which was entitled VIRUS 5, she was just a kindly member of the Ibbrassati who helped Rome as she neared the end of her pregnancy. This was just before Rome and Rei flew to the Vuduri compound, or as Rei called it, the Lion’s Den. I said she was kindly but really, was she? Even in that early, early version, she was still evil. She simply hid it better. This is from that long-discarded section:

 

“You cannot do that,” Paddy said. “It is forbidden for mandasurte to have access to Vuduri technology. They will kill you.”

“Not if they see Rome is pregnant,” Rei said.

“They want children who are connected,” said the other woman, Sussen. “He is right. They should take their ship, and Rome, to the Vuduri.” Rei looked up at her. Something was different about Sussen. Her eyes perhaps? They were a light grey color, almost silver. With the dim light reflecting off of her tapetum, it looked almost as if she had no pupils at all. She looked like she might be blind but clearly she was not. He’d seen eyes like that before but had no time to recollect.

 

You can see I am hitting you over the head with the fact that she was in league with Estar, who has always been characterized as a member of the Onsiras. In this earlier version, I had the Reohne phenotype express itself through the silver eyes. In later versions, I made the eyes normal but mismatched in color to show that these Onsiras had split brains.

 

In the modern version of Rome’s Revolution, Sussen was migrated from the Ibbrassati base to the Vuduri compound. She had integrated herself into Pegus’ power structure but even he did not know she was in league with MASAL. In both versions, she escaped Deucado, making a run for it, hoping to get back to Earth and tip off the Onsiras that the mandasurte were being liberated. In the original version, she never made it. The events that transpired on Earth had occurred before she could even contact MASAL. By the time she got there, he was gone.

 

In the modern version, we don’t even know what happened to her until Rome’s Evolution whereupon we discover that she got to Earth and was instrumental in reorganizing the Onsiras behind MASAL’s Sipre. She was the one responsible for elevating the tribe’s numbers by kidnapping the Onsiras on Helome and taking them back to Earth. She was also the one that gave Troutman and Steele the wherewithal to attempt Rei’s assassination. She died in the showdown in SoCal between Rei, Rome and Bonnie versus the remaining Onsiras.

 

But we aren’t through with her yet. Even though her body is dead, she made her way to Heaven or at least Purgatory. Aason meets her when he gets up there and they make amends, kind of. Bottom line: I liked the name and the character was useful in moving the plot along so thank you, Sussen, for being so evil and so flexible!

 

Entry 3-239: August 22, 2015

What has gone before, again – 1

 

Back when Rome’s Revolution was the three novel version called VIRUS 5, I was planning on releasing each part roughly every six months. That meant for early readers, there would be some delay between finishing one novel and starting the next. As a reminder of what has gone before, I led off each book with a preface entitled What has gone before in the front of Book 2 and Book 3. Kind of a synopsis.

 

I wanted to show you that section but it is a little long for this forum so I will break it up into three sections. Here is the first part:

 

What Has Gone Before – Part 2:

 

After nearly a year, Rei, along with Rome who is now pregnant, arrive at the colony world of Deucado towing Rei’s enormous spaceship called the Ark II. On their way there, they discover the sarcophagus, the sleeping chamber, of Rei’s mission commander, Captain Keller and they take it with them. If possible, Rei and Rome have fallen even more deeply in love during the journey.

 

Upon their arrival at Deucado, for no fathomable reason, they are attacked and barely survive using a desperate jump through a PPT tunnel directly to the surface of Deucado. Once they reach the surface, they discover that Deucado is a prison world and that the mandasurte, the mind-deaf, are being kept there and away from all technology against their will. Rome finds her long-lost father, Fridone and they join a small rebel group, called the Ibbrassati, hidden in the northern woods. Rei’s fellow 21st century colonists are reanimated and begin to precipitate a war with the Vuduri.

 

Rome has some extreme complications with her pregnancy and even though it means almost certain death, Rei and Rome are forced to fly to the Vuduri compound in the hopes of saving their unborn child. The behavior of the Vuduri and the Overmind of Deucado is very strange. Rome is reabsorbed into the Overmind and seemingly rejects Rei but actually saves his life by having him banished. Rome is able to contact her unborn son, Aason, and has him stop the process that was causing her so much pain.

 

Tomorrow, the second part of what has gone before.

 

Entry 3-240: August 23, 2015

What has gone before, again – 2

 

Back when Rome’s Revolution was the three novel version called VIRUS 5, I had planning on releasing each part roughly every six months. That meant for early readers, there would be some delay between finishing one novel and starting the next. As a reminder of what has gone before, I put in this little preface called “What has gone before” in the front of Book 3.

 

Here is the second part of that section:

 

Rei begins his journey back to the hidden enclave in the northern woods. Along the way he is captured but escapes because MINIMCOM, who was crushed beneath the crashed Ark, is evolving into a hybrid computer/spaceship and is experimenting with PPT tunnels that work within a gravity well. In the meantime, Rome engages in a series of conversations with the Overmind of Deucado and eventually is able to show it the error of its ways.

 

Rei discovers that a pill that OMCOM gave him back at the Stellar Cartography station on Tabit has modified his genetics and gives him, among other things, a kind of sonar-vision and a “telephone in his head.”

 

After Rome and the Overmind come to a meeting of the minds, the Overmind reveals to Rome that there is more to the prison world that she knew. The Overmind informs Rome that there is a secret society on Earth, called the Onsiras, which are not only dedicated to the imprisonment but also the eventual eradication of the mandasurte. In point of fact, there is an even more sinister plan in the works but the Overmind of Deucado does not know exactly what is entailed.

 

As Rei makes his way closer to the hidden base, he encounters the Deucadons, descendants of the Ark IV who landed on the planet 500 years earlier but who have remained hidden underground because of the continual bombardment of the planet by asteroids and senseless slaughter at the hands of the Vuduri.

 

Tomorrow, the final part of this little preface.

 

Entry 3-241: August 24, 2015

What has gone before, again – 3

 

Back when Rome’s Revolution was the three novel version called VIRUS 5, I had planning on releasing each part roughly every six months. That meant for early readers, there would be some delay between finishing one novel and starting the next. As a reminder of what has gone before, I put in this little preface called “What has gone before” in the front of Book 3.

 

Here is the final part of that section:

 

Rome and the Overmind work out a careful choreography to defuse the coming war between Rei’s fellow colonists and the Vuduri ruling the planet. Rei and Rome are reunited and after some travails, they prevail and peace is returned to the planet by getting all parties to acknowledge that the Deucadons are the rightful owners of the planet.

 

Rome gives birth to her son, Aason, whose genetics are complex. He is part human, part Vuduri and part cybernetic. After a short period of peace, Aason allows OMCOM to channel through him and OMCOM tells the assembled group that the battle for the stars is about to begin.

 

This next part has since been excised from the modern version of Rome’s Revolution

 

Rei and Rome, along with Aason are immediately incapacitated as a creature the size of a small asteroid, called a Bridadira (which means Protector) comes to the Tau Ceti system. Aason is able to communicate with the Bridadira named Lawlidon and gets him to stop hurting his parents. Lawlidon is one of the creatures created when the mutations within the VIRUS units occurred back on Tabit. Other creatures, called Cecetiras, (hunter/killers), are on their way to extinguish all life before the Stareater can.

 

A battle ensues. Lawlidon and MINIMCOM and the Vuduri warships fight off the Cecetiras and eventually prevail. Meanwhile, a spy for the Onsiras, whose name is Sussen, tries to slip away undetected during the fight but her escape is discovered as she is leaving the star system.

 

With the battle apparently won, there is only a short-lived joy as Rei, Rome and the others watch in horror as MINIMCOM, the computer/spaceship hybrid crashes into Lawlidon, disappearing completely. As our story continues, Rei and Rome are distraught at the apparent destruction of their friend and protector, MINIMCOM.

 

Starting tomorrow, at long last, we will try to bring MINIMCOM, our favorite character, back from the dead.

 

Entry 3-242: August 25, 2015

The MINIMCOM phenomenon

 

When somebody is planning out a TV show, they have the stars and then other actors to fill in around them. They have to give the secondary stars some quirks so they stand out and can be distinguished from one another. Sometimes, a bit player or secondary star becomes so popular that the show evolves around them.

 

Some examples? How about Fonzie on Happy Days? Prudence on One Big Happy? Everbody knows who Urkel is from Family Matters. Michael J. Fox rose to the top on Family Ties. Even on The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parson’s Sheldon Cooper was not the original focus of the show. Johnny Galecki’s Leonard Hofstadter was supposed to be.

 

 

So too, it was with MINIMCOM. He was never supposed to be important. He was supposed to be a bit character. I patterned his personality off of a cross between my immensely talented brother Bruce and Bomb 20 of Dark Star, one of my favorite movies. If you have never seen Dolittle’s discussion of phenomenology with the bomb, you can see it here.

 

Anyway, the bomb and by extension, MINIMCOM was a bit fussy and very dedicated to their job. But the difference is, the bomb eventually blew up and MINIMCOM got crushed beneath a 7000 metric tonne Ark and evolved into something else.

 

That something else has become wildly popular and MINIMCOM is the one character that everyone who reads the books tell me they love. So I cannot leave him dead. Tomorrow, he returns.

 

 

Entry 3-243: August 26, 2015

MINIMCOM lives! (again)

 

Two and half weeks ago, I left you hanging with the apparent suicide of the starship that had once been an auto-pilot computer named MINIMCOM. This came at the end of the since-excised climax of the original part 2 of Rome’s Revolution before I crushed it down into a three-part novel.

 

But, as I mentioned yesterday, MINIMCOM is one of my most popular characters so I certainly couldn’t let him stay dead. Rei used logic to figure out he couldn’t be. Here is Rei’s epiphany:

 

“MINIMCOM!” Rome shouted again in anguish, for what seemed to be the thousandth time. She was standing in her room within the Vuduri compound along with her husband Rei, her father Fridone, and Captain Maury Keller, Commander of the Ark II mission. Her newborn son, Aason, was lying in the Vuduri version of a cradle or bassinet next to her bed. It resembled a blanket suspended between metal frames but was more substantial.

“Rei…” Rome said plaintively, turning to her husband who was standing next to her. She had no idea of what else to say. She was sick to her stomach. The sight of MINIMCOM crashing into Lawlidon’s parabolic reflector felt like a family member dying. Except for the remains of the smashed reflector and the sizeable crater the collision left behind, there was no sign that MINIMCOM ever existed.

“He’s got to be OK,” Rei muttered, trying to be encouraging, as he stared at the images on the screen. His instincts told him MINIMCOM was gone and yet there was something that prevented him from saying so. His mind raced trying to put the pieces together.

“Nothing could have survived that,” noted Keller, fatalistically. “We saw him crash. Face it. He’s gone.”

“Som, bir qua rezei?” asked Fridone.

Rei shook his head. The answer was on the tip of his tongue. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. “I got it,” he said. “This is MINIMCOM’s projector,” Rei announced, pointing to the small conical object sitting on Rome’s sofa table providing the live video feed in front them. “MINIMCOM controls the transmissions of the star probes and we still have an image. So he must be alive,” Rei answered triumphantly.

 

Tomorrow, MINIMCOM re-emerges. Different. Better.

 

Entry 3-244: August 27, 2015

The New MINIMCOM

 

Yesterday, I showed you a scene from the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution back when it was still the three part novel called VIRUS 5. Rei concluded that their starship friend and companion could not have been destroyed. Here is the scene where MINIMCOM reemerges, evolved, into the character we know today. This dovetails into the modern version so nothing was lost when the scene was thrown into the scrap pile:

 

Each of those wishbones split into two more and then two more. When the process was completed, there were thirty or more shapes where there once had been one.

One of the black wishbones moved off and started to change again, churning and twisting into a cylinder. Wings formed. The front extruded and a windshield came into place. On the underside, three EG lifter pods appeared. A cluster of PPT projectors and plasma thrusters sprouted along the rear edges of the wings. The morphing process slowed but it was clear that this new shape was a negative version of MINIMCOM or his successor. The starship in front of them was not quite as tapered and wasp-waisted as before. Also, the new ship looked larger than MINIMCOM was before the crash. And it was all black.

“MINIMCOM!” Rei shouted, more from relief than anything else.

“Yes?” MINIMCOM replied as if nothing had happened. MINIMCOM had elected to retain the tinny quality to his voice, even though he had grown in size and stature. His voice issued from the speaker built within the image projector sitting on the small table.

“I qua fica vaz?” asked Fridone.

“You crashed into Lawlidon deliberately. Why?” Rome asked.

“I needed to ‘deposit’ the remains of the Cecetira within Lawlidon before they got loose,” replied MINIMCOM. “He has the necessary processing facilities to neutralize the less-civilized VIRUS units on a more permanent basis than I could. In other words, he purified me.”

 

MINIMCOM’s statements don’t really make sense at this point. Tomorrow, the underlying scientific (or at least science fiction) explanation.

 

Entry 3-245: August 28, 2015

Purification

 

Yesterday, we saw that MINIMCOM emerged from within Lawlidon as a new, larger starship. He was all white when he went in and was now all black when he came out. This ties in nicely with the more modern version where MINIMCOM switches to all-black much earlier in the novel. Here is MINIMCOM’s explanation:

 

“I needed to ‘deposit’ the remains of the Cecetira within Lawlidon before they got loose,” replied MINIMCOM. “He has the necessary processing facilities to neutralize the less-civilized VIRUS units on a more permanent basis than I could. In other words, he purified me.”

“How did he do that?” Rei asked Rome. He turned to MINIMCOM’s projector. “How did you, I don’t know, extract yourself?” he asked. “I don’t even know what to call it.”

“My fundamental composition is made up of a series of elements,” answered the spaceship/computer. “Each of those elements has a nano-processor which is aware of its origin. While their physical connection to one another was broken as they traveled through the purification process, they agreed to coalesce…”

Rome rolled her eyes as she sensed another long-winded explanation. MINIMCOM clearly loved the sound of his own voice. “Rei,” Rome said, interrupting, “It does not matter. What matters is that he is back and he is whole. Is this correct? MINIMCOM, are you all right?”

“I am functional, thank you but I am not exactly whole. I do not know if machines have a genetic structure but my former self comprises approximately 93.1 per cent of this form, if that is what you are asking.”

“Genetic structure? 93%?” Rei said. “What’s the other 7%?”

“Besides the original space tug and OMCOM’s memrons plus my constructors, of course. You will recall that they were made up of modified elements of the original VIRUS units and some star probes. The biggest problem is that I was unable to completely remove all traces of Lawlidon and the Cecetira from my composition. That is the 7%.”

“The Cecetira?” Rome asked. “Can they get loose?”

“No, I am completely re-integrated right now,” MINIMCOM replied smugly. “The ones that remain have agreed to respond as part of me.”

“How do you even function?” Keller asked. “Don’t you think you ought to get rid of the foreign elements?”

“One never knows when one might need their rather unique properties so keeping a small part of them cannot be a bad thing,” MINIMCOM replied. “At least this is what they told me.”

“Why are you all black?” Rei asked. “Not white like before?”

“My outer hull is made up principally of former Lawlidon elements. It seemed appropriate.”

 

So there you have it. The grand unification of the older, more detailed, slightly more boring version and the modern version. Now we have to deal with the real crisis which is Sussen’s escape and the fact that time is running out for the residents of Deucado.

 

Entry 3-246: August 29, 2015

How much time?

 

In both the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was called VIRUS 5 and the modern version, the crisis that begins Act 3 (technically, Part 3), was the fact that Sussen the spy had slipped away. In the modern version, it was done surreptitiously. In the older version, it was in the heat of battle. Regardless, Rome and Rei knew she was on her way back to Earth to inform MASAL and the Onsiras that the mandasurte were now liberated and MASAL’s plans for genocide would be derailed.

 

In both versions, using a series of logical steps, Rome and Rei conclude they are the only two people on all of Deucado that can go after her and try and stop her. This poses a problem because Sussen had a head start and the vehicle she used was built for high speed. Plus, Rome had just given birth and there was no way she would leave her newborn behind. What to do? He had to give them a hard time but MINIMCOM had the answer, of course:

 

“MINIMCOM, how long do we have?” Rei asked.

“Given the type of vehicle hijacked, assuming a sustained velocity of 150c, they will arrive at Earth in 28.96 days but you do not have that much time.”

“What the hell is he talking about, Bierak?” Keller demanded.

“Hold on, sir,” Rei asked. “MINIMCOM. Why don’t we have the 28 days?”

MINIMCOM answered, “They only have to get within distance to connect, not be physically present.”

Rei turned to Rome. “How far out does the Overmind reach?”

“It follows the strength of gravity so it can reach out perhaps a half light year or a bit more,” answered his wife.

“So what does that translate into?” Rei asked MINIMCOM.

“Assuming you want to arrive somewhat ahead of this person, figure on a window of 21 days.”

“Hell, that’s not enough time,” Rei said in disgust. “MINIMCOM, how fast can you get us there?”

“Assuming optimal load… Accounting for trajectory…” The spacecraft/computer trailed off.

“You’re stalling, MINIMCOM.” Rei said angrily, “How long?”

“4.34 days,” MINIMCOM said dramatically. “I can get there in just over four days.”

Rome gasped. “MINIMCOM, is this a joke?” she asked. “How is this possible?”

“It is not a joke,” replied MINIMCOM matter-of-factly. [* “I do not fly the way they do. I now employ a positive feedback cycle to force-project a continuous series of traveling PPT tunnels at hyper- speed. I stack one tunnel after the other so that the net effect is an uninterrupted tunnel. I can maintain an effective velocity of very close to 1000c for the duration.” *]

Everyone held still in stunned silence.

“There is one small problem, however,” MINIMCOM added.

“What?” Rome asked.

“With all of OMCOM’s memron units and my recent, call them additions, there is no real room in my cargo hold for standard living quarters. No matter who traveled with me, it would be a very uncomfortable ride and four days is a long time for humans to travel in such discomfort.”

“What about the flying house?” Rei asked. “Could you tow it?”

“I could do that,” MINIMCOM said. “However, it would decrease my overall speed.”

“How much?” Rei asked, irritated.

“It would roughly double our travel time. Roughly eight days.”

 

Yup. The new era had begun. No one on Earth and certainly not Sussen could have envisioned such a quantum leap forward in transportation.

 

Entry 3-247: August 30, 2015

Why fear the Essessoni?

 

Once Rome and Rei leave for Earth, the people of Deucado are helpless regarding their eventual fate. We got one tiny peek into their world as our intrepid couple begin making preparations to depart. This is at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution.

 

Pegus, the leader of the Vuduri on Deucado has a brief conversation with Captain Keller, the leader of the Essessoni and later revealed to be in charge of the Darwin mission. During that conversation, Pegus explains why the Vuduri were right to fear the Essessoni. Not just because from that group gave birth to The Ark Lords but rather something far more fundamental:

 

Pegus spoke. “Again, you may discount it but let me give you one final example as to why we fear the Erklirte. Look at Rei Bierak. To you he is quite ordinary. You even have a bit of disdain for him. But look at what he did. A single man, a single Essessoni, figured out how to best the Stareater, he engineered getting your damaged ship here, a 20 light year trip, in under a year. When we attacked him, our intent was to destroy your Ark. He figured out how to save you in a way that was never done before. He transported the entire 7000 tonne Ark down to the planet’s surface through a PPT tunnel. We thought that was impossible. He saved you using only his ingenuity.”

“Hmm,” Keller said in begrudging admiration.

“And his wife!” Pegus continued. “Look at what she has accomplished simply by spending time with him. She took on the Overmind here in a duel of logic. And she won! To think that this was a former Vuduri who had no mind of her own just one year ago.”

“Hmm,” Keller muttered again.

“No,” said Pegus, turning back to face the window. He lowered his voice. “We have every reason to fear you. You come from a line of people who are used to thinking for themselves. We Vuduri have long since surrendered that capability. I do not think it is because your generation is smarter than we are, but rather that you have thousands of years of training on how to use that intelligence to survive. We have none. This renders us very nearly defenseless.” Pegus turned back to face Keller. “Now do you understand?”

“I think so,” said Keller. “But one thing you still haven’t explained. After the Ark landed, how come you didn’t come after us? What happened?”

“What happened?” Pegus asked, laughing to himself. “Rome happened. She beat our Overmind. She showed it the error of its ways.”

Keller snorted in disgust. “I still can’t get over it. She stopped you? That tiny thing?”

“Yes, that tiny thing, as you say, is more powerful than you could possibly realize. She is now both Vuduri and Essessoni by contact. She has transcended her origins and can think in ways that exceed the accumulated consciousness of all the Vuduri on this planet including the Overmind. She commanded us not only to not kill you but to make peace with you. We had no choice but to obey.” Pegus said uncomfortably.

 

And that is why it is called Rome’s Revolution. Tomorrow, Rome must explain to her father why he must remain behind and cannot go home to see his beloved Binoda after having been away for 10 long years.

 

Entry 3-248: August 31, 2015

Goodbye Daddy

 

Previously, Rome and Rei, with advice from the Overmind of Deucado, determined that they were the only two people on the planet that could return to the Earth without tipping their hand. That meant that Fridone, already imprisoned on Deucado for 10 years, would have to remain behind. He missed his wife, Binoda, desperately and was looking forward to that reunion. Here is the heartbreaking scene when Rome informs him that he is not going:

 

“You and Aason wait here,” Rei said to Rome in Vuduri. “I will make sure the flying house is ready to go. I will come back and get you two in a little while.”

“What do you mean two?” Fridone asked. “There are three of us.”

Rome turned to look at her father. “No, Beo. It has to be just Rei and Aason and me who travel to Earth. Not you.”

“I am not coming?” Fridone asked, his heart catching in his throat. “But my little Rome, I need to be near you. And my new grandson.”

“It is not safe yet, Beo. You cannot come,” Rome said, “and you know why. They cannot know that the mandasurte are free here on Deucado yet. Your very presence will give that away.”

“No, Rome,” Fridone said, his eyes welling up. “I just found you. I cannot lose you again.” He stepped next to her, to put his arms around his daughter.

Rome glanced over at Rei. He tilted his head toward Fridone. “You take all the time you need,” he said. “We will be all right.”

Rome nodded slightly. Rei walked over to a cart, hopped on board and sped off toward the spaceport.

Fridone pushed Rome back to gaze into her eyes. “Rome…your mother. I want to go home and see your mother. I miss her so much.”

“I know you do, Beo,” Rome said kindly. “We are going to go to Earth and make it safe for you and all the mandasurte. Then you can come and see Mea.”

“But what if something happens to you?” Fridone asked plaintively. “I could not live with the idea of losing you yet again.”

“You will not lose me, Beo. Remember,” she said sternly, “MINIMCOM will get us to Earth in just eight days. That means if, I mean, when we complete our mission, we will be back here before you know it.”

“Rome, have you thought about Aason? Who will protect Aason while you and Rei are fighting your battle? I would watch him, protect him.”

“Beo, no,” was all Rome said.

Fridone sighed. “You are headstrong,” he said. “Unfortunately, you are just like me.”

Rome’s eyes were glistening too but she smiled. “Would you expect anything less?”

“I suppose not,” Fridone said. He looked away.

 

Never fear. He had no intention of remaining behind. Tomorrow, the baby’s mouth.

 

Entry 3-249: September 1, 2015

The baby’s mouth

 

When a baby is first born, it has very little control over its bodily functions. Its eyes return images. Its nose brings in new smells. But the baby’s limbs are just useless appendages. Part of the developmental process is getting those stumpy things to actually perform useful functions.

 

Once the baby can grasp, it starts to use its most elemental engine of exploration, its mouth, to experience new things. Obviously, as adults, we’ve learned to use all of our limbs and senses to examine objects but there was a time when all of us did this. Rome just did not remember:

 

“Stay here,” Fridone said. “Do not leave before I get back.”

“Certainly, Beo,” Rome said.

Fridone reentered the building and was gone for several minutes. When he returned, he had MINIMCOM’s conical image projector and two small bags.

“What are in the bags?” Rome asked.

“They are toys,” Fridone said. “Aason will like them.”

What are toys?” Aason asked his mother in her mind.

I am not sure,” Rome thought back to him. “I have seen them in your father’s mind but I was never sure what they were for.”

“What are these for?” Rome asked Fridone.

Fridone set the bags down on the ground. He opened one up and took out a small silver spaceship, glinting in the sun.

“It is a model of a spaceship,” Rome observed. “What is its purpose?”

Give me!” said Aason excitedly, in her mind. With his tiny hand, he reached out to touch it. “I like it,” he said.

“He likes it,” Rome said. “I do not know why, but he likes it.”

Aason stroked the spaceship. He did not have enough motor control to actually grasp it but his fingers scraped it rhythmically.

Put it in my mouth,” Aason said to his mother.

“What?!” Rome said out loud. “He wants to put it in his mouth,” Rome said to her father.

Fridone laughed. “It is all right, Rome,” Fridone said. “It will not hurt him.”

“But why?” Rome asked. “Why would I want him to put it in his mouth?”

“Because it is what babies do,” replied Fridone.

Rome looked skeptical but dabbed the tip against Aason’s lips. Aason sucked on it and made happy cooing noises.

 

Remember, Aason might “speak” like an adult but he is still only a few days old. In many ways, he is a typical baby. He grows up to be a hero but that’s a story for another day. And don’t tell anybody, but the spaceship mentioned above, in bold, was actually a replica of the spaceships flown by the K’val in the novel The Milk Run. How did Fridone know? He didn’t. But I did.

 

 

Entry 3-250: September 2, 2015

Hiding from yourself

 

One of the recurring themes in Rome’s Revolution is how a society can operate when there is no privacy. Now this was not meant to be a political statement just a what-if. We saw earlier that when everybody is privy to your every thought, it takes away any kind of desire for creativity.

 

Creating something that no one else has ever done before is artistically satisfying, but if the idea and execution is stolen before you even finish completing your thought, you are no longer the originator. In theory, the Vuduri had a judicial system called mind court where you could argue about who came up with an original idea but most Vuduri didn’t bother.

 

The only way to have privacy, then, is to not only hide things from others, but hide them from yourself. In this little scene, Pegus, the leader of the Vuduri on Deucado, explains to Captain Keller about the secretive nature of Vuduri society:

 

Pegus turned back to face Keller. “On the contrary, while publicly most Vuduri shun the mandasurte, if there was a way to find out what they really thought, you would see that most like and admire the mandasurte. Even if they hide this thought from themselves.”

“Admire? Why? How?” Keller asked, confused.

Pegus sighed. “Because they are free. They are free to keep their thoughts private. Which means there is no one to inspect them, to judge them. The mandasurte are free to have feelings. To love. To understand beauty. These are things that most Vuduri cannot admit to themselves even exist. Here,” Pegus said, lifting his sleeve. Around his forearm was a thin red thread.

“What is that?” Keller asked. “It looks like a thread.”

“It is more than that,” replied Pegus. “It is called a yatori. We never speak of it. In fact, we are not supposed to even acknowledge that it exists.”

“What’s the point of that? It sounds stupid,” Keller said. “Why even wear it then?”

“The Vuduri claim it is part of our mental discipline,” Pegus answered, twisting his forearm. “It is an ongoing exercise to prove that we do not acknowledge self. It is a symbol of our submission to the Overmind. If we cannot see it, if we do not think about it and yet it is there, it proves we are capable of mental blindness.”

“And this is supposed to be a good thing?” asked Keller, confused.

Pegus walked around the table and sat back on the couch. “With my newfound perspective, I can now agree with you,” he said. “It has led us to this mess. I wear mine now to remind myself of my individuality, rather than deny it…to divorce myself from the Overmind.” He shook his wrist to emphasize his words.

“Why can’t you have both? Why can’t you have your Overmind and still be yourself?” Keller asked.

“Now we can. But before, we could not. It is so hard to describe to a mandasurte. The Overmind, as it was before, it was everywhere. It is everywhere. It is in your thoughts and feelings,” Pegus pointed to his temple. “And most Vuduri would prefer to not think for themselves or feel for themselves rather than risk others knowing what is inside them.”

“Who cares?” Keller said. “Who cares what’s inside your head.”

“You do not understand,” Pegus said, shaking his head. He stopped for a moment and took a deep breath. “Knowing what is inside your head is everything. To have a less than perfect thought attacks the very essence of the Vuduri. We believe, no, they believe themselves to be superior beings. They aspire to perfection. Primarily because of your generation, they believe the true destiny of mankind rests in the highest and noblest of thoughts and deeds. No one, not one Vuduri, could stand the shame of having a less than perfect thought or feeling.”

“That’s what makes us human,” Keller objected. “Nobody’s perfect.”

 

Entry 3-251: September 3, 2015

Break my heart, why don’t you?

 

A few days ago, I showed you that Rome and Rei were going to head back to Earth. Unfortunately, because of the political situation, her father, Fridone, could not go even though he had been imprisoned for 10 long years on Deucado. All he wanted to do was to see the love of his life, his wife Binoda, and that was the one thing he could not do.

 

So imagine his distress when he quizzed Rome about her plans when she got to Earth. He got this:

 

“Where is your husband,” Keller asked.

“Yes, where is Rei?” Pegus echoed, in English.

“He has gone to check on our flying house,” Rome replied.

“Flying house?” Keller asked. “I heard you say that before. What is that, exactly?”

“It is simply a space tug that has been outfitted with living quarters,” Rome replied. “MINIMCOM is going to tow the flying house and transport us to Earth. It has the necessary facilities that MINIMCOM lacks.”

“And when you get there, you and the Overmind have prepared a plan?” Pegus asked. “It has not made us aware.”

“Not exactly,” Rome said. “The only thing we know is that most Vuduri would be horrified if they knew what was happening here. We just have to get the word out to the population in general and we think things will take care of themselves. All we need is one Vuduri who we know categorically is not part of the Onsiras.”

“That’s not much of a plan,” Keller said. “What if you run into one of the bad guys before you find who you are looking for? For that matter, according to Pegus, the Onsiras are hidden, secret. How will you know who is and who isn’t the enemy?”

“I know one for sure” Rome said.

“Who?” asked Keller.

Rome looked at her father. She knew the next word she uttered would break his heart but she had to say it. “Mea,” she said. “My mother.”

“Binoda,” Fridone whispered. He bent his head and looked at the ground. His shoulders slumped.

 

Never fear. Where do you think Rome got her stubborn streak?

 

Entry 3-252: September 4, 2015

Love/Hate

 

Within the world of Rome’s Revolution, the citizens of the 35th century, the Vuduri, have always had a love/hate relationship with the mandasurte, the mind deaf. That is because secretly, way down deep, all Vuduri yearn for freedom: freedom of speech, of thought, of expression. I mentioned the other day that the Vuduri had lost their creativity. The mandasurte have that and more. They have joy.

 

But the mandasurte are political pariahs so any admiration a Vuduri feels for the mandasurte has to be buried down deep. Yesterday, we saw how Rome broke her father’s heart by telling him that her mother was the only person she could trust. Captain Keller had a more practical view of things:

 

Keller looked at Rome. “You aren’t going to just fly to her house,” Keller said. “Somebody is bound to notice. How will you know who to trust until you get to her?”

“I can give you a little guidance there,” Pegus offered.

“What?” Rome asked.

“Look into their eyes,” Pegus said. “And use your feelings. Most Vuduri do not hate the mandasurte. They are embarrassed by them. They do not know what to do with them. They prefer not to associate with them. But they do not hate them.”

“How will that help?” Keller asked.

Rome shook her head in assent. “I have always known this but only now I can speak of it. You can tell how dominant the Overmind is in the mind of a Vuduri merely by how they react to mandasurte. If they are drawn to mandasurte, then there is a part of that person burning brightly inside. If there is nothing but disdain, then they are completely dominated by the Overmind and have relinquished all conscious thought to the Overmind.”

“Yes,” said Pegus. “But there is one more thing. The Onsiras are different. Many of them seem to have dead eyes. There is no life whatsoever behind them. They have nothing but the purest of hatred for the mandasurte. They radiate this hatred. That will tell you who to avoid,” Pegus said.

“Thank you,” Rome said. “I will do that.”

“Trusting your safety to just your feelings?” Keller asked. “It doesn’t sound any too safe to me.”

“On the contrary,” Rome replied, “It is probably the safest thing we can do. Feelings are something that the Vuduri cannot hide. It would never occur to them to hide this. They think no one can see them for what they are. They pretend that feelings do not exist.”

“Well, I’d like to say it’s your hide,” Keller said, “but it is all of ours.”

“I will keep that in mind,” Rome said.

 

Enough shilly-shallying and dilly-dallying. It’s time to get this show on the road. Tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-253: September 5, 2015

Big trouble

 

Once Rome was liberated, she unleashed a seismic upheaval on the whole of Vuduri society to the point where it became known as Rome’s Revolution. Her biggest asset, besides her bravery and independence, was her ability to think. This was something that the Vuduri, in general, had lost. This made her not only an anomaly but also something very dangerous.

 

Pegus, the leader of the Vuduri on Deucado noted this as I mentioned the other day. He and Captain Keller had this exchange:

 

“How come you didn’t come after us? What happened?” Keller interjected.

“What happened?” Pegus asked, laughing to himself. “Rome happened. She beat our Overmind. She showed it the error of its ways.”

Keller snorted in disgust. “I still can’t get over it. She stopped you? That tiny thing?”

 

Yes, that tiny thing. When it was time for Rome and Rei to leave to head back to Earth, Captain Keller took this to heart. They were making their goodbyes when this exchange happened:

 

Captain Keller held out his hand. Rome looked to Rei who nodded to her. Rome shifted Aason to her left arm and shook his hand.

“Good luck, Mrs. Bierak,” Keller said. “I’m sure you’ll do well. I have only known you for a very short time but I think Earth is in big trouble.”

Rome bowed her head slightly, smiling the whole time.

 

I guess it’s true what they say “good things come in small packages” – because Rome is certainly a small package. But she packs a major wallop.

 

 

Entry 3-254: September 6, 2015

Rome says no to cursing

 

When I was writing the original long-form version of Rome’s Revolution, back when it was known as VIRUS 5, I had a cadre of interested and active early readers.

 

One of those readers was my daughter, Paula, whose name in Spanish is Lupe which I took as the damsel in distress in my new novel The Milk Run. When she was reading the book, she noticed I had a curse word or two in Parts 1 and 2. When she came across the word hell in Part 3, she said that as responsible parents, Rome and Rei would have to keep cursing to a minimum during Aason’s early formative years. So this little section came directly from Paula’s commentary:

 

“What are you going to do if you run into one of those Stareater things? Have you thought about that all?” Keller asked.

“Yes we have,” Rei answered. “MINIMCOM still has access to the original VIRUS units along with some material from Lawlidon. He’ll shoot some of them at the Stareater then we’ll run like hell.”

Keller just shook his head.

Mother, what is hell?” Aason asked Rome.

Shhh…” Rome thought back. “Rei,” she said. “Perhaps you could try and remember that we have a child present.”

“Oops,” Rei said. “Sorry.”

 

This becomes a recurring joke during the latter part of this book. Rei suppresses his normal need to express himself occasionally with curse words when Aason is present. Here was one example of Rei having enough presence of mind to stop himself:

 

“No, the cameras are untouched,” MINIMCOM said. The hybrid computer/spaceship winked back into view. He was exactly where he was before. Then he disappeared again. Then he popped back into view again. Then he was gone, this time for good.

“What the he..,” Rei stopped speaking. He glanced over at Rome. “What the heck?!” Rei asked. “What are you doing?”

“It is magic,” MINIMCOM said with cybernetic delight.

 

Of course, Rei pulled out the F-bomb to shock the Onsiras into letting him go but that is a story for another day.

 

Entry 3-255: September 7, 2015

The truth comes out

 

You will recall in the middle of Rome’s Revolution, there came a time when Rome was re-integrated with the Overmind of Deucado. Right after that procedure she appeared to reject Rei and had him ejected from the compound. Rei was quite shaken by that but we later learned that Rome took that action to guarantee Rei’s safety.

 

He hiked a long way to get back to the Ibbrassati secret enclave, all the while with a heavy heart. He thought he had lost his wife and soulmate.

 

As Rome and Rei were getting ready to head back to Earth, the trip there made Rei wistful. But then, with gentle probing, Rome finally had him admit the truth:

 

“That’s the problem, Rome,” Rei said, his voice lowered. “We’re not going to be in this world. We’re going back to Earth. With the mother of all Overminds. We’re taking on a whole planet. A whole race. We’re just two people.”

Rome bent over and kissed him. “We are two people on the side of right. We will have many friends soon. You will see. And besides, mau emir. We are soulmates. We live inside of each other. We could never really be apart, even if we wanted to.”

“No, Rome, you’re wrong. I’ve seen too much,” Rei said.

“I will make it very easy for you. Think about this and then tell me the truth, Rei. In the compound, after I was injected, even though I reconnected, think about what you saw and felt. Even though I pretended to not want to be with you, did you really think I was gone? Gone from your life? Is that what your heart told you? Why did you even come back for me?”

Rei took his hand off of her shoulder. He looked down at his feet but what he was really doing was replaying the whole episode in his head. He and Rome attacked by the Vuduri, captured by the Ibbrassati. Flying into the Vuduri compound and Rome being reintegrated into the Overmind. Rei’s recapture, escape and trek through the forest. His sonar-vision, the Deucadons, Captain Keller going on the attack. All to get back to Rome. Suddenly, the answer was clear and hit him like a ton of bricks. He knew Rome was a part of him and he was a part of her.

“I understand! You’re right, Romey,” Rei said, his face lighting up. “I guess I really knew you weren’t gone. You would never leave me. Why did I even think that? What did you do to me? How did I know that?”

Rome leaned forward to touch his forehead then motioned to hers.

    “It is the bands, Rei.” She looked him in the eye. Rei nodded. “I told you. We are our own samanda now and more. We are Asborodi Cimponeti. We are one.”

“My beautiful, sweet Rome. You are right. We can never be apart. It doesn’t matter where we go. It will always be together,” Rei said, pointing to Aason. Rome bent over and kissed the baby’s forehead.

“Yes, together,” Rome said. She reached down and took Rei’s hand. She pulled on it and they ascended the ramp together.

 

Kind of a sweet moment, huh? Well there is more where that came from!

 

Entry 3-256: September 8, 2015

Where there’s a will there’s a way

 

Due to a variety of circumstances, Rome and the Overmind of Deucado had decided that only Rome and Rei could return to Earth without tipping their had to the Onsiras. That meant that Rome’s father, Fridone, could not return with them and see his long-lost wife, Binoda.

 

However, in the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution, even though he was expressly forbidden from coming along, that did not stop Fridone from trying to find a way around Rome’s edict. We saw the tiniest of hints just as Rome and Rei were pulling away from the Vuduri compound. Fridone, who should have remained distraught, instead was seen doing something but Rome was not sure what:

 

“Sure,” Rei responded, mindful of his wife’s delicate state of mind. “Sit back, though.”

“Yes,” Rome replied and looked down to make sure that Aason was secure. Rei saluted the group then the cart lifted and began moving along the path that led back to the spaceport. Rome turned back to call out to her father but he was no longer with the group. She surveyed the courtyard and spotted her father running toward Melloy who had just appeared. Fridone was shouting and waving MINIMCOM’s image projector over his head. The cart went over a rise and then the compound went out of view.

“Rei,” Rome said.

“Yes, honey,” Rei replied.

“My father,” Rome started. “He…”

“Your father what?” Rei asked.

Rome shrugged. “Never mind,” she said. “I will miss him.”

“I’ll miss him too,” Rei said. “We’ll see him again before you know it.”

“I certainly hope so,” Rome said.

 

So what was he up to? MINIMCOM gave us a further hint as Rome and Rei were settling aboard the “Flying House” making preparations to lift off:

 

Rei reached forward to press the button to activate the comm link then laughed to himself.

“MINIMCOM,” he called out in his head. “Are you ready to go?”

“I will be by the time you achieve orbit,” the computer/spaceship replied via the grille built into the console. “I am finishing collecting the various items we will need en route.”

“Why are you answering me through the comm link?” Rei asked. “Why not in my head?”

“We save that for when we need it. For the time being, Lawlidon does not need to be involved in everything,” MINIMCOM replied. “He is not tuned into this channel.”

“Lawlidon?” Rei asked. “I thought he was deploying clones to guard against the Cecetiras and Stareaters.”

“He is,” replied MINIMCOM. “There is no need to distract him. He has enough to do.”

“OK,” Rei said, confused. “What other items do you need to collect?”

“I have computed a variety of scenarios for when we arrive on Earth and want to be prepared for all of them,” replied MINIMCOM.

“Well, that’s good,” Rei said, just as Rome came in through the entry way.

 

So what was MINIMCOM collecting and why was he bein so sneaky? MINIMCOM and Fridone were conspiring together. For what? I’ll tell you in a day or so.

 

Entry 3-257: September 9, 2015

A new magic trick

 

Ever since he starting coming in contact with humans, MINIMCOM, once an auto-pilot computer, began to grow intellectually and emotionally throughout Rome’s Revolution and subsequent books. In fact, in the beginning of The Ark Lords, he even gave birth to a son who we have come to know as Junior.

 

When Rome was settling the looming civil war on Deucado, MINIMCOM performed one of his magic tricks by making Rome rise up into the air. His very first one, that of the whoosh pop snap transporter tunnels, took Rei by surprise. But his third trick was the greatest of them all:

 

“All right,” Rome replied and reached forward to press a button on the console. She tapped an icon twice and the view screens switched to show part of the planet below them with MINIMCOM’s black bulk obscuring most of the star field behind them. Rei thought MINIMCOM looked much larger than before but there was no way to really gauge. Suddenly, without warning, MINIMCOM disappeared.

“Where’d you go?” Rei asked, perplexed.

“I am still behind you,” replied MINIMCOM.

“No, you’re not,” Rei replied. He looked down at the MIDAR screen. MINIMCOM’s outline was still there. He looked at the view screens and all he saw was stars. He looked down at the MIDAR screen. There was no mistaking it. The 3D field of view showed MINIMCOM there plain as day.

“Is your trick messing up the cameras?” Rei asked.

“No, the cameras are untouched,” MINIMCOM said. The hybrid computer/spaceship winked back into view. He was exactly where he was before. Then he disappeared again. Then he popped back into view again. Then he was gone, this time for good.

    “What the he..,” Rei stopped speaking. He glanced over at Rome. “What the heck?!” Rei asked. “What are you doing?”

“It is magic,” MINIMCOM said with cybernetic delight.

“MINIMCOM, do not fool around,” Rome said sternly. “What are you doing?”

“I took a page out of the book inscribed by the Deucadons,” the former space tug replied. “I simply project a sphere, a froth, might be a good word, of PPT tunnels around me. Light and radiation pass through the tunnels from one side to the other.. No light reflects so you cannot see me. The tunnels are very short range and I can choose what frequencies pass through them. Unless you knew I was here, you would not know I was here.”

 

Magic, indeed. 35th century magic.

 

Entry 3-258: September 10, 2015

A movable hangar

 

In the beginning of part 3 of Rome’s Revolution, MINIMCOM had announced that he could get to Earth in 4 days. However, in his current configuration, there was no real place for humans at this point. So Rome and Rei arranged to have MINIMCOM tow them in the “Flying House” so they could have all the comforts of home while traveling at hyper-speed.

 

MINIMCOM clarified things, sort of. He said he was going to transport them but he wasn’t going to tow them. What seemed like a geometric impossibility will end up making for a great scene, if Rome’s Revolution is ever made into a movie:

 

With series of short bursts of his trim-jets, MINIMCOM ascended like he was on an elevator until he was well above Rei and Rome’s tug. He fired his plasma thrusters for a brief moment and used the momentum generated to fly past them. Once he was clear, he used his trim-jets in retro-mode to decrease his forward velocity until it matched that of the flying house. Then he used his trim-jets to lower himself until he was directly in front of the other tug. Once the configuration was set, MINIMCOM’s cargo door opened and the ramp lowered and they could see inside MINIMCOM’s dimly lit cargo compartment.

“Now what are you going to do? Squeeze us inside there?” Rei laughed.

“Please take your hands off the controls,” MINIMCOM requested.

“OK, now what?” Rei asked doing just that.

“Watch,” MINIMCOM replied.

With that, his aft section began to expand. The cavity within changed from a rounded rectangle to triangular, becoming larger and wider. Visions of when MINIMCOM swallowed the Cecetira whole flashed before Rei. MINIMCOM became a bloated version of himself and soon the front section became obscured by the size of the rear. When the compartment was large enough, MINIMCOM fired his trim-jets gently in retro-mode. Because their relative velocity was now slightly higher than MINIMCOM’s, Rei and Rome’s tug crept forward directly into the cargo hold until MINIMCOM completely enveloped the flying house. Once inside, MINIMCOM activated the EG lifters to produce artificial gravity and the flying house settled onto the floor of the cargo compartment with nary a bump.

“He really did, didn’t he?” Rei asked in amazement.

“Yes, he did,” Rome replied in wide-eyed fascination.

In front of them, Rei and Rome could only see MINIMCOM’s interior wall. Out their rear view monitors, they saw the cargo door and ramp close and then everything went dark.

“Why am I not surprised?” Rei asked.

 

Can you see this in your mind? MINIMCOM became a flying hangar; one that traveled at 500c or five hundred times the speed of light. Pretty cool, huh?

 

Entry 3-259: September 11, 2015

Doors and hair

 

In the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome and Rei and Aason were safely nestled within the airtight confines of the “Flying House” which, in turn, was fully enclosed within MINIMCOM’s cargo bay. As such, they were doubly cut off from space and didn’t have much to do. So they did the thing that people normally do to pass the time. They chatted. But their conversation was oddly skewed:

 

“I was wondering why the Vuduri even have doors,” Rei said.

“Doors?” Rome said. “We must go in and out of structures.”

“I know that,” Rei said. “I wasn’t talking about doorways like to buildings or spaceships. I didn’t mean outside doors. I was thinking about interior doors. Like the one you had back at Skyler Base…the one to your apartment. You told me that the Vuduri have no need for privacy.”

“You are correct about that,” Rome said. “In fact, when I first arrived at Tabit, I was somewhat confused as well. I did not have a door on my room on Earth. My parents did but I did not.”

“So what gives?” Rei asked. “On Tabit, why’d you use it? For modesty? When you got dressed?”

Rome took a deep breath. “No. Vuduri do not have modesty. We do not wear clothing for fashion or to cover nudity. They are practical in that they are protective. For example, they keep us warm and the like.”

“Well, you don’t have to tell me about fashion. Everyone I saw there looked and dressed exactly the same.”

“Yes,” Rome replied. “That is done on purpose, to reduce distraction. You know we never wear colors,” she said.

Rei laughed. Rome looked down. She was wearing a bright red and pink jumpsuit, complete with embroidery and billowy ends on her sleeves. She nodded in assent. “What I do now and what I did then do not need to be reconciled. It brings me joy now. That is sufficient.”

“Of course,” Rei said, looking at his wife. “Speaking of fashion, there is something else I always wanted to ask you,” he said.

“What is that?” Rome replied.

“When I first met you, you had longer hair, even longer than you do now.”

“Yes,” Rome replied, running her hands along the sides of her hair which was just over shoulder length now. She had cut it several centimeters after Aason was born.

“Well, all the other Vuduri I ever met, men and women both, they all keep their hair really short,” Rei said. “Why did you have long hair? When you were with the Overmind, I mean.”

Rome gathered up the ends of her hair and squeezed them together in a clump. Then she shook her head and it spread out evenly, across the top of her shoulders.

“It was how my mother wore her hair. It was how she raised me. I never felt the need to change it. Just as Vuduri are not slaves to fashion, there was not any compelling need for me to change my hairstyle to match my peers. Perhaps it was my way of protesting certain mistreatments, I cannot say for sure.”

“We call that passive aggression,” Rei offered.

 

Well, maybe it wasn’t so odd after all, at least for the 35th century.

 

Entry 3-260: September 12, 2015

Vuduri sports

 

When we first met Rome in the beginning of Rome’s Revolution, she seemed very much like the rest of the Vuduri. Colorless, humorless, just a worker bee kind of person. How far she has come! However, as it turns out, there are certain basic human urges, like the need to compete, that come out no matter what the rest of society seems to think. The Vuduri were the same. They had competition. They just called it something else:

 

“That is certain,” Rome said. “Anyway, when I was growing up, while mentally I was similar to all Vuduri, I had certain physical skills, eye-hand coordination perhaps, that allowed me to excel at some exercises over my peers. This trait, I suspect, was because I had the ability to not sit there and wait for the Overmind to do my thinking for me. I suppose you would not call them exercises, I think you might call them games.”

“Yes, I remember that,” Rei said.

“Well, Vuduri do not play games for the same reason that you and I do now, they do it to winnow out, to distill certain people so that they can be assigned to the right jobs when they reach functional age. So, in the particular, let us call it sport, that I was truly exceptional at performing, there was a point in time when I should have been promoted to a smaller, more elite team to continue competition at the higher levels.”

“Vuduri competing,” Rei said in amazement. “It seems out of character.”

“Well, if you think of it as a continuous skills assessment,” Rome said, “it makes more sense. It really is not competition for the goal of winning as such.”

“OK, go on,” Rei said.

“Now that I have had a chance to go back and review, I realize that I was held back, suppressed,” Rome said with a bit of an edge to her voice. “It was unspoken and unacknowledged, but I know now that it was because my father was mandasurte.”

“Yeah, Vuduri trash,” Rei said.

Rome frowned.

“No, no, no,” Rei said. “I don’t think that at all, Romey. I’m just saying that was what your so-called buddies thought.”

Rome nodded. “We have a word,” she said. “It is not very nice. The word is mosdurece which means half-breed or mixed blood. It makes no sense because Vuduri are Vuduri.”

“Prejudice is timeless, I guess,” Rei observed. “So they held it against you?”

“Yes,” Rome replied. “You see there were many elements of the game that were specifically non-contact yet became so. Never to the point of injury, but still…” Rome paused for a moment. “It was disturbing but I did not allow myself the opportunity to consider it. I was relegated to the lower levels and while I was always the best at it, I can now see that my pride was hurt. I just did not know it. I really should have been promoted.” Her face tensed into a frown. “There must have been some realization of this because I was channeled into the school for physical training regarding data retrieval.”

 

Who knew the Vuduri even had it in them?

 

 

Entry 3-261: September 13, 2015

Rome was handpicked, pt. 1

 

In the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome was relating to Rei how she ended up on the mission to Tabit. Rome knew that she was really, really good at her job but she was passed over for many important positions because of the unspoken prejudice pure-bred Vuduri held against the mosdurece (half-bloods). There were some among the Vuduri, however, that knew a good thing when they saw it.

 

This is the first half of the conversation:

 

“Yes,” Rome said. “I was at school for data manipulation. The basic principles are known by all Vuduri via the Overmind but I was given the opportunity to continue to develop my eye-hand coordination so that I could channel and refine data streams instantaneously. As I mentioned before, if I was a typical Vuduri and I were to relinquish all of my control to the Overmind, it would introduce an infinitesimal delay which would reduce my overall effectiveness. They used my brain and my hands to circumvent that tiny delay. And I must say, I got very good at it.”

“I’m sure you did,” Rei said.

“However, time and time again,” Rome explained, “positions were required, positions for advancement and I was passed over. The placements were handed to others who were not nearly as qualified as me. In retrospect, each time it happened, it made me angry but I did not acknowledge this. Not to myself.”

Rei nodded. “Go on.”

“One day,” Rome said, “a strange man came into the classroom. It was Commander Ursay. While I knew who he was, of course, I had never met him before. The moment he came into the room, he looked over each of the students but when he got to me, his eyes locked onto mine. It was only then that I knew he was there for me. For a Vuduri, this is a very strange thing. I should have already known why he was there.”

 

Tomorrow, I’ll give you the second half of the conversation.

 

Entry 3-262: September 14, 2015

Rome was handpicked, pt. 2

 

Yesterday, I presented part of a conversation that took place in the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. During that conversation, Rome was relating to Rei how she ended up on the mission to Tabit. She was really, really good at her job but she was passed over for many important positions because of the unspoken prejudice pure-bred Vuduri held against the mosdurece (half-bloods). There were some among the Vuduri, however, that knew a good thing when they saw it.

 

This is the second half of that conversation:

 

Rome continued, “Perhaps the samanda for the Overmind that was to travel to Tabit was in the process of being formed and so there was some kind of separation already in place. It was when I first set eyes upon Ursay that I realized this.”

“So…”

“So without any conscious thought, I stood up, gathered my things and followed him directly to the Algol which was being prepared for travel.”

“What about your mother? Your cat?” Rei asked.

“My mother would know what was happening to me as would all Vuduri. There was no need to actually do or say anything. At least that is what I thought at the time.”

“And Skodla?”

“Skodla was with my mother. She would take care of him. I knew this. Any pain I felt upon leaving him, I would have suppressed. A good Vuduri does not have regret. Or longing. I would not allow myself to miss him.”

“What about your clothes. Your belongings?” Rei asked.

“What few items that were important to me, like the bands, were already onboard the Algol. Clothes meant nothing. We had molecular synthesizers on board. Plus my body is so similar to other Vuduri women that most clothes are interchangeable, anyway.”

“I beg to differ,” Rei said.

“You are biased,” Rome said demurely but with a smile on her face. “Your opinion does not count.”

 

So off she went and the rest is (future) history. By the way, we do catch with Skodla one more time near the end of The Milk Run so don’t skip over that book!

 

Entry 3-263: September 15, 2015

Unceremonious goodbyes

 

Now that I have completed recording the audiobook for The Milk Run, I went back and thought about why I brought back certain characters. Without spoiling the book, it includes Sussen, Reema and even MASAL. Was it just nostalgia? Was it just curiosity? I think it is a mix of those but also because I like my characters, even the evil ones, and don’t really want them to see gone forever.

 

We had a few near misses. MINIMCOM crushed beneath the 7000 metric tonne Ark II. MINIMCOM was fatally infected with the Darwin virus Strain 5 and was going to fly into the Sun.

 

But we also had some real disappearances. For example, near the end of Rome’s Revolution, we lost the Flying House. Whatever happened to it? I don’t know. The last we saw of it was flying into the sunset in Havei (Hawaii). I did make reference to it several times in The Milk Run but we never really found out.

 

After Rome and Rei forged their treaty with HIRDINHARSAWAY, we thought we’d seen the end of that particular Stareater. However, in The Milk Run, you will get to meet his/her son named HIRDINDALAFANT who is instrumental in launching Starship OMCOM on his journey to Heaven. Aroline’s father, Donald, after being rescued, is transported over to MINIMCOM and that is the last we hear of him. I guess we assume he makes his way home to Hades eventually.

 

Some of the baddies mentioned above, Sussen and Reema, you’ll see them again in The Milk Run and even though we don’t truly find out their fate, you will have enough information to guess.

 

The ones that really got dumped unceremoniously were MASAL and “the man in white” who was the self-proclaimed representative for Species Zero Prime. MASAL joined the big blob and that was the last we saw of him. The man in white was locked in a tornado versus Molokai and that was that.

 

The only one left who I did not mention was OMCOM. I saved him for last. All I can tell you is that you will definitively know his fate by the end of The Milk Run. If you haven’t read it by now, you will be able to listen very soon thanks to Audible.com.

 

Entry 3-264: September 16, 2015

Stuck inside for three months, pt. 1

 

When the Vuduri crew left Earth aboard The Algol, they were looking at a three month journey. As the flagship of the Vuduri fleet, the Algol is very large. Here is an image of its layout:

 

 

So what the heck did the Vuduri do stuck inside a starship, even as nice of a one as the Algol, for three months?

 

You can see that a large portion of the ship is designated as living area. There were no sleeping quarters. The seating area in the front consisted of mesh-lined seats which reclined and served as beds when required. The living area itself was mainly divided into two areas.

 

The portion between the section labeled Living Area and the seating area was the commissary which held the food synthesizers and some table seating. The Living Area itself was really nothing more than a very well equipped gym. You will recall that the Vuduri didn’t have much interest in anything else and certainly never got bored but they did prize physical fitness.

 

If they needed anything else, they could go way in the back to the storage area labeled Equipment. This room held the molecular sequencers, recycling apparatus and the refreshers. After all, even the Vuduri still needed to go to the bathroom occasionally.

 

So, in summary, what did they do? They slept, they ate, went to the bathroom and exercised. That’s it. I don’t think any of us would have enjoyed it very much. No Red Zone!

 

Entry 3-265: September 17, 2015

Stuck inside for three months, pt. 2

 

Yesterday, I gave you an overview of the three-month journey from Earth to Tabit when the Overmind finally decided that stars disappearing was important enough to investigate. Here is Rome’s take on the journey during a conversation she had with Rei on their way back to Earth in Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution:

 

Rome said, “We lifted off, achieved escape velocity and immediately began to slow down. You know our normal mode of travel…” Rome paused and looked around her cabin, remembering where she was and what they were doing. “Their normal mode of travel is to come to a complete halt, turn, open the PPT tunnel, turn again then push through using plasma thrusters. The Algol was so large that the plasma thrusters had to fire for a long time and there was not even much acceleration to give the trip any variety. Not that we wanted it. Back then.”

“I agree with you,” Rei noted. “If I hadn’t been with you on our trip to Deucado, I think all the stopping and starting would have driven me crazy. Even though MINIMCOM did most of the work, we still felt it. With you, I hardly noticed.”

“The Vuduri are the same way in that regard,” Rome said. “Nobody wanted it to be stimulating. We simply endured it.”

“So what’d you do the whole time?” Rei asked. “You said the trip took three months.”

“We exercised. We ate. I spent much time preparing, I think your word is formatting, datacubes. But mostly, we spent our time relinquishing our conscious minds to our smaller Overmind. Our samanda truly began its development during that trip. It evolved. To prepare us for the significantly reduced gravity on Dara, they suppressed the artificial gravity to match. To compensate, we had exercise much more than normal. That had the side benefit of introducing a slightly higher efficiency into the propulsion system.

“Knowing the Vuduri, that was probably the real story anyway,” Rei observed. “Were they really in that much of a hurry? I know keeping your bodies in shape is like the most important thing there is to a Vuduri.”

“Hurry is relative. Even if your observation were correct, it would be more like they just did not want to bother,” replied Rome. “Vuduri are all about efficiency. Anyway, because of the reduced gravity, the trip out there was bound to cause some physical degeneration but we ignored it. We used our minds in the noble pursuit of unity. I now know there was at least one who did not but at the time, no one paid attention.”

 

Rome was referring to Estar, of course. Estar got hers in the end. Even though she was killed, you will meet up with her one more time in the latter part of The Milk Run. Tomorrow, I’ll remind you about one fact regarding Estar, slightly shocking, that might explain just a tiny bit about her seemingly aberrant behavior.

 

Entry 3-266: September 18, 2015

Estar and the Onsira phenotype

 

Yesterday, I showed you that Rome had, indeed, noted something strange about Estar’s behavior, even during the three-month journey from Earth to Tabit. However, in a previous post, I proclaimed that Estar, the villain of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution, wasn’t so bad.

 

How do we reconcile Estar’s seemingly petulant behavior with that position? She was serving an evil master, MASAL, of course but beneath the volcano of Kilauea, when Rome would not cooperate, she seemed to have a temper tantrum.

 

The answer might shock you. As revealed in The Milk Run, the Onsiras aged twice as fast as regular Vuduri and when we met Estar she was actually only 12 years old at the time. Not even a teenager. Rome noted this:

 

“We used our minds in the noble pursuit of unity. I now know there was at least one who did not but at the time, no one paid attention,” Rome proclaimed.

“Estar?” Rei asked.

“Yes, Estar,” Rome replied with some disgust. “I should have known. But we both know I was blind.”

“Even so, what would make her a suspect?” Rei asked.

“Because I was fully trained to be a data archivist. I was easily the best available. They needed a second archivist but Estar?” Rome made a huffing noise. “It would have been kind to have called her adequate.”

“Surely somebody noticed,” Rei said. “I mean, you guys are all about competency.”

“Everyone just assumed that somebody else knew the reason,” Rome said resignedly. “It would have been impolite to even question her selection. You have seen that for yourself. The Onsiras flourish because they hide in the open. No one can bring themselves to admit they exist because to do so would be to admit there is a failing or flaw within the Overmind and the Overmind itself could never permit that.”

“Bunch of blinder-wearing narcissists, if you ask me,” Rei said.

 

So what was the reasoning behind this, making Onsiras age faster? You have to think back to MASAL’s original plan which was to turn the human race into a bunch of living robots. He needed rapid turnover to accelerate our species toward the end game so making them grow up, reproduce then die faster seemed like a logical decision at the time. Of course, we find out in The Milk Run that MASAL eventually came to regret that decision.

 

Better late than never, I guess.

 

Entry 3-267: September 19, 2015

Rei proposes, pt. 1

 

You will recall that in the middle of Part 2 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome was under duress because of her polyhydramnios caused by Aason’s incessant pushing while searching for his mother. Rei came to the conclusion that the only way to save her was to fly her into “the lion’s den” which was his name for the Vuduri compound. Only they would have the necessary medical equipment to intervene properly.

 

However, before they left, Rei acknowledged there was a real possibility that Rome was going to die so he got Tribunel to marry them (called Cesa in Vuduri) before they left. It was all rather rushed. They never had a proper engagement in Rei’s mind. So during their eight-day trip back to Earth, he decided to right that wrong:

 

Rei snapped his fingers. “Hold on, baby, wait right here.”

“All right,” Rome said, confused, watching Rei as he rushed out of the room. He was only gone a few minutes. He came back with the biggest smile on his face and his hands behind his back.

“What?” Rome said. “What do you have?” She craned her neck to peer around him with her body.

“Just this.” Rei sank down one knee. “Rome,” he said, holding his free hand out to her. Rome placed her hand in his without knowing why.

“Will you marry me?” Rei asked. As he was saying it, he brought his other hand out to the front and showed her a deep burgundy velvet box. He popped it open and there was a ring, a platinum body complete with a large diamond on the top and two smaller trapezoidal diamonds along the side.

“I do not understand,” Rome said, smiling, shaking her head. “We are already married. What is this?”

“This, my love, is an engagement ring. It is what a man of my generation would give to the woman who captured his heart. MINIMCOM has been working our synthesizers for two days making it for you.”

Rome could not wipe the smile from her face. She lifted the ring out of the box and hefted it in her hand. She looked up at her husband and deadpanned, “What happens if I say no?”

 

Hmmm. Rei didn’t actually think that far ahead. You can guess what Rome says but I’ll save that until tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-268: September 20, 2015

Rei proposes, pt. 2

 

Yesterday, I presented to you a short scene where Rei got down on one knee and proposed to Rome, during the early portion of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. Rome threw him for a loop by contemplating rejecting his offer, even though they had been together for over a year and even formally married (called Cesa in Vuduri) for several days.

 

Here is the rest of that conversation:

 

She looked up at her husband and deadpanned, “What happens if I say no?”

“Oh,” Rei said, crestfallen. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Well, the answer is yes, anyway,” Rome said, her face beaming. “The same as the last time you asked me. But why?”

Rei laughed. “Why?” He showed her how to slide the ring over her finger. Rome held it up to the light and was fascinated by the way the ring sparkled. “The why is because I did not do it right last time.”

“We had extenuating circumstances,” Rome said.”

“Yes, this is true. But there is one other thing,” Rei said.

“What?” Rome replied. “What more could there be?”

“I didn’t pick today at random. Today is our one year anniversary, too,” Rei said. “It was one year ago today that they thawed me out and we met. So this is an anniversary present, too.”

“Oh Rei,” Rome said, leaning forward, hugging Rei around the neck. “You are too much for me. I did not make anything for you.”

“Oh yes you did,” Rei said. He jammed his finger over his shoulder in the general direction of Aason’s nursery.

“That does not count. Aason is for both of us.”

“Rome,” Rei said, turning serious, “you have given me everything a man could ever want. It is enough.”

“Not enough,” said Rome. “I want to do something else. Name it.”

Rei paused for a second. “Nothing comes to mind but I’ll let you know when I think of it, OK?”

“Of course,” Rome said.

 

Rei eventually “cashed in” on that promise deep beneath Kilauea but that’s a story for another day.

 

 

Entry 3-269: September 21, 2015

ONE THOUSAND!

 

Today is post #1000 regarding the fascinating world of Rome’s Revolution. Can you believe it?

 

 

That’s a lot of posts! Where does the material come from? Answer: the 35th century. Everything that happens there that gets fed back to me ended up in the books and now I finally have a forum where I can show you the origin of all the source material.

 

For those of you who are worried that the well will run dry some day, never fear. The messages and story ideas are still coming. I was driving to work on Thursday and boom, I realized that OMCOM miscalculated on the mechanism from his magic yellow pill with regard to Rome and Rei’s genetic structure. He did not take into account MASAL’s prosthetic 24th chromosome. The engine that restored Rome and Rei to their youthful selves, once started, can never be turned off making them virtually immortal! Sounds like another short story coming. And another trilogy. And so on.

 

I love spending time in the 35th century. There is so much to see and do. And I get to relate it all to you. So thanks, as always, for your support.

 

 

Entry 3-270: September 22, 2015

All the power

 

In The Milk Run, I speculated on the powers above, the role of Heaven and so on. What if they are real? Say that somebody came down from above and gave you all the power in the world. What would you do? In my case, I would have the ability to make Rome’s Revolution a super Amazon success story (like The Martian) and suddenly a killer three-movie series. Would that make it any good? It would be great for my ego but it wouldn’t change the fact that I made people like my novels as opposed to them actually liking it.

 

If you can influence other people’s opinions then they aren’t really their opinions. It is just your ego personified. So I have stopped wishing for my books to suddenly become a success and started getting more realistic about the whole thing.

 

Sure, self-publishing makes you a published author but is your book any good? I have had 4 and 5 star reviews from people that know me and from people that don’t know me. One guy gave me three stars on Amazon and wrote:

 

The story has a distinctly episodic feel (duh, it is three separate novels), as the protagonists confront and deal with a progression of challenges. It was habit forming.

 

I am not kidding. Here is a screen shot of his review:

 

[]

 

I’m not quite sure why I only earned three stars but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is, he (at least I’m pretty sure it is a he) liked it and said it was habit-forming. But I had no influence over his opinion. I put the story out there. He read it and I think he liked it.

 

Let’s be frank. I am a beginning writer. Sure I’ve written and published a few novels but I am still learning the craft. Whether I have talent or not is another issue.

 

But I came to the conclusion, firmly and squarely, that even if I had all the power, even if I could make people buy my books and go to the movies, that has no meaning. To have any value, critical praise and enjoyment has to be earned. I will continue to try and improve until told otherwise.

 

Entry 3-271: September 23, 2015

Vuduri noise 1

 

The people of the 35th century, known as the Vuduri, are a very colorless and mild part of the social sphere. This is recounted time and time again in the novel Rome’s Revolution and its successors, The Ark Lords and Rome’s Evolution. The Vuduri eschew fun, games, socialization, fashion, pretty much everything that makes life worth living. They do it in the name of purity of thought and serving the Overmind.

 

A few days ago, I described to you Rome’s initial take on why Vuduri even bothered with doors. However, her explanation was not adequate for Rei and he pressed her to explain further. Here is Rome’s thoughtful reply:

 

Rome nodded. “We finished construction and moving and went to our assigned compartments to arrange things before beginning our work. When I first saw the door, I did test it but saw no value in closing it. It was not until our first night there, during my assigned rest period, that I noticed I was not able to fully release my consciousness into the Overmind. I think you would call it meditation.”

“What was the problem?” Rei asked.

“It was noise. Even though the Vuduri are normally very quiet as they go about their business, in such a closed environment, the opening of the hangar doors, people walking in the hallway, the sounds of the food synthesizers, I heard everything. While the central hall was pyramidal, the overall shape of the base was spherical. Within a structure of such shape, there is a tendency to concentrate and reflect all sound. The Overmind instructed me to close my door which I did. Immediately, I was able to relax and fully immerse myself into the flow. I was able to get the restorative rest I required. In fact, after that first night, all the Vuduri at the station closed their doors almost all the time. The Overmind must have experienced this before with smaller samandas. Ours was made up of only 80 Vuduri. That was why the Overmind designed doors into the station in the first place.”

“Huh,” Rei said. “Imagine that. Letting the worker bees spend time apart. I wouldn’t have thought the Overmind was capable of such sophistication. Pretty sleek.”

 

Tomorrow, I will give you part 2 of this conversation and you can see that the Overmind forming there was drifting toward a more humanistic and caring type. It was the forerunner of how the other Overminds evolved. And, of course, Rome was there to show them the way.

 

Entry 3-272: September 24, 2015

Vuduri noise 2

 

Yesterday, I showed you that the samanada making up the Overmind on Dara, constructed using only 80 Vuduri, was evolving at a rapid pace to become something more than the imperious, iron-fisted ruler we had come to expect. This is part 2 of a conversation that Rome and Rei had about this very subject during the very early part of the final section of the novel Rome’s Revolution. Rome could not help but notice:

 

“It is even odder than that,” Rome said. “Even though you never experienced this, given their revulsion at you as a member of Gracei Ti Essessoni, meals were the opposite. On Earth, food is just sustenance. Vuduri make no effort to eat together. This was something that my father always insisted on so I got used to it but I did not need it. On Tabit, instead of taking their nourishment at random times, always eating alone, the crew members came to vary their time of entry and wait for others to enter. They sat together without speaking of course but almost always in twos and threes. It was almost as if they had some primitive need to congregate during their break time but get their isolation during the mediation time at night. Now that I think about it, the Overmind at Tabit was evolving without it really knowing it. Since the changes were consensual, the samanda immediately accepted it as a given. Taking you on board and allowing you access to the station was the culmination of that evolution. We knew your Ark was of the Erklirte. I think at another time, they would have simply destroyed your Ark without ever seeing what was inside, like they tried to do at Deucado.”

“So the Tabit Overmind had some scientific curiosity,” Rei said. “That was the whole reason for establishing the base at Tabit in the first place.”

“That is what I am trying to say,” Rome replied. “I think the origin of Skyler Base, the justification for the mission itself, all caused a change in the Overmind to the point where it was willing to thaw one of you out, just to see.”

“I’m glad it was me, honey,” Rei said.

Rome came over and sat down on his lap. “I am glad it was you as well,” she said. She leaned forward and kissed him, gently at first then increasingly more passionate. Rei’s hands slid upward and caressed her in places that had been ignored for quite some time.

 

If you ask me, in the absence of other stimuli, the Overmind that formed on Dara was drifting toward a more humanistic and caring type. It was the forerunner of how the other Overminds evolved. And Rome was there to show them the way!

 

Entry 3-273: September 25, 2015

The Vuduri and The Martian

 

Andy Weir’s book The Martian is a wildly successful book about a man stranded by himself on Mars and what he has to do to survive. It is so successful that it is being made into a movie starring Matt Damon scheduled for release in October of 2015.

 

What has this got to do with Rome’s Revolution? Andy’s success comes from him putting his mind to what it would really take to survive on another planet. Part 1 of Rome’s Revolution takes place on the airless moon of Dara in orbit around the gas giant called Skyler’s Word in the Tabit star system.

 

The problems are very similar. Humans need air, food, shelter from a hostile environment and so on. The big difference is the Vuduri have access to an endless supply of free energy. With that, they can actually create matter. Their molecular sequencers are the ultimate 3D printer in that they can create any substance or object. So they had a little bit less of a challenge than Mark Watney, the hero of The Martian.

 

Regardless, this is my source of fascination with hard science fiction. What would happen if… and then you have to think it through realistically, even though it is a fantastic situation.

 

If The Martian interests you, by all means click on the image to get to the buy links. After you read Rome’s Revolution, of course!

 

 

Entry 3-274: September 26, 2015

So many holes

 

I was very busy with the final edit of the audiobook version of The Milk Run when I came across a plot hole so big, you could drive an X-drive equipped starship through it. The flaw appears when Aason and Molokai, a being who claimed he was a god, are returning to Junior to begin their next leg of the journey. Molokai is a huge ball of swirling lights and colors. Aason wants to bring him aboard along with Sh’ev, his new-found plant friend:

 

“I’ll explain aboard ship,” Aason interrupted. The boy whispered something to Molokai who drifted easily across the trench in the air and hovered on the far side. Aason touched his temple and with a whoosh and a pop, both Aason and Sh’ev found themselves at the base of Junior’s cargo ramp which was already lowering.

“Come on,” Aason said, waving and he mounted the ramp.

“Aason!” Aroline shouted, running toward him. She grabbed him and if it was possible, she kissed even more passionately that when he left. Aason felt so right holding this girl, he didn’t resist in the slightest.

After they were done, Donald patted him on the back. OMCOM and Junior’s livetars were there as well. Sh’ev joined them and Aason herded them toward the front to make room for Molokai. The glowing creature squeezed his bulk into the cargo compartment and Junior closed up the hatch.

“Everybody, this is Molokai,” Aason said, pointing to the ball of lights.

The humans mumbled hellos.

“Hello,” Molokai replied. The humans and the K’val could hear him however neither Junior nor OMCOM could see anything or hear anything. Both elected to accept the humans’ reaction as their guide.

 

The flaw? If Junior and MINIMCOM can’t see or hear Molokai, how would Junior know what was happening, let alone when Molokai was fully aboard. How would the starship know it was time to close the cargo hatch? Uh, I don’t know. Let’s pretend that Aason instructed him to do so via the EM “cell-phone” in the head and Junior would just follow orders.

 

Sound reasonable? I try.

 

Entry 3-275: September 27, 2015

MINIMCOM lives. For real!

 

One of the most popular characters to emerge from Rome’s Revolution is the auto-pilot computer which evolved into a starship named MINIMCOM. When MINIMCOM needs to interact with his environment, he instantiates a shell made up of VIRUS-based constructors. This ambulatory shell is called a livetar. The word livetar is actually an amalgam of live avatar. In the original version of Rome’s Revolution, in fact, they were called avatars but then James Cameron came out with the movie Avatar so I had to invent a different word.

 

Anyway, my incomprehensibly talented brother Bruce who is responsible for all the incredible artwork and covers for all the novels in the Rome’s Revolution series bought himself a 3D printer. The printer itself is a Lulzbot Mini by Aleph Objects. Bruce worked for three months until he produced this model of MINIMCOM, cape and all (the cape is fabric and hand-sewn, not 3D printed):

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the figurine is all black (as is MINIMCOM’s preference) so it is hard to do it justice in a photograph. But, boy, to see one of your characters come to life in such exquisite detail is quite amazing!

 

Thank you, Bruce.

 

Entry 3-276: September 28, 2015

A Saberoo tooth. For real!

 

Yesterday I showed you the incredibly detailed model of MINIMCOM that my immensely talented brother Bruce made with his 3D printer. Today I wanted to show you a picture of an actual Ice-Saberoo tooth, compliments of my wife Denise.

 

 

This tooth is a bit over 9” long and is a resin cast of a sabertoothed tiger canine found in the La Brea Tar Pits.

 

My stepson Perry keeps kosher so when we have leftovers, Denise has to store his food in milk or meat bags. She thought it was funny because that is exactly what the K’val call us, meatbags, in the novel The Milk Run.

 

So now my souvenir shelf from that book is getting full. I cannot wait to add the CD version of the audio book! Soon, soon, I promise.

 

 

Entry 3-277: September 29, 2015

Who picked who?

 

I met my wife, Denise, on Jdate. Jdate is like eHarmony or Match.com but for Jewish people. You enter your data and their intelligence engines try to find you a match. Every day they send you an email with possible matches. One day they sent me a picture of Denise. I looked at her and thought she was out of my league so I moved on.

 

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from her several days later. We started writing back and forth and then started dating and now, ten years later, we’ve been together ever since.

 

However, my claim is now and has always been that she contacted me first. She says I peeked at her and that constitutes first contact. I could not help it. That is what Jdate does. It sends you pictures of people to look at. We never really fight about it but neither of us will ever yield. I decided to put this little disagreement into Rome’s Revolution ever so slightly disguised:

 

“Always,” Rei thought back as he carried her into the bedroom. As he entered, he closed the door behind him laughing slightly at the absurdity of the action.

“Old habits die hard,” he said.

“What?” Rome asked as Rei set her down by the bedside.

He jammed his thumb over his shoulder at the door. “Closing the door,” he said. “Who is going to see us out here?”

“It is a good habit,” Rome giggled as she began to unclasp the top part of her jumpsuit. “We are Aason’s parents and what we do in here is not part of his business. This is just between you and me.”

“Right,” Rei said, stepping forward. He enveloped Rome in his arms and squeezed, holding on as if for dear life.

“What?” Rome asked as Rei was muzzling her neck.

“I love you so much,” Rei said. “To this day, I still cannot believe I found you and that you are mine.”

“Not to be too technical,” Rome said, wriggling loose. “But I found you. I am the lucky one. You are the one that set me free.”

“You didn’t find me,” Rei said. “Your co-workers picked me out my group. They brought me to you. I was the one selected.”

“No,” Rome said. “I was the one selected to communicate with you. You were selected at random.”

“Random, my ass,” Rei said. “I traveled 1400 years and 26 light years to find you. That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen at random.”

“What does your ass have to do with this?” Rome asked with a smile on her face. She put her arms around Rei and grabbed his butt with her hands and squeezed. “Although it is a very nice ass, I must add.”

 

Please note the sentence in bold. I put it in strictly to be funny. More on that tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-278: September 30, 2015

Knock, knock 1

 

Imagine yourself some 20 light years from the nearest solar system, that is, interstellar space. And further imagine that you are inside a spaceship which, in turn, is inside yet another spaceship, like Russian dolls. There can literally be no more isolated place in the universe. This is the situation that Rome and Rei found themselves when they were on their way back to Earth in the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution.

 

The couple was inside their bedroom, with the door closed no less. I don’t think you could possibly have more privacy if you wanted it. So it was this point that I thought it would funny if somebody knocked on their door. Here is that scene:

 

“So what do I smell like?” Rome asked.

“You smell wonderful,” Rei replied. “So clean, so sweet. Like vanilla surgical scrub.”

“And what do I taste like?” Rome asked, amused by the whole thing.

“You taste like heaven, my love. Just like heaven.”

Rome reached up and pulled Rei’s head around so that she could kiss him. They were starting to get rather passionate when there was a knock at the door.

“WHAT THE HELL?” Rei shouted and jumped away from Rome. He looked back at her with a wild look to his eye. Then he looked back at the door.

“I am frightened,” Rome whispered to him.

“Get in the bathroom,” Rei whispered back. “And close the door.”

“What will you do?” Rome asked.

“Go!” Rei commanded.

Rome tippy-toed hurriedly toward the bathroom while Rei crept forward toward the entrance. He sidled around the dresser that was to the left of the door and picked up the onyx box that was placed there. The box held the espansors, the bands that Rei and Rome used to connect mind to mind. It wasn’t much of a weapon but it was all he could find.

“Who is it?” Rei asked, realizing the absurdity of the situation. At their current speed, they were probably one and a half light years away from Deucado by now, traveling faster than any manned ship in the history of mankind and buried inside the cargo compartment of an intelligent and deadly hybrid spaceship/computer dedicated to their safety.

“A-ma,” came a muffled voice.

Rei pressed the stud and the door opened. There was no one there. He looked up and down the hall but could see nothing.

“MINIMCOM,” Rei said. “Are you playing a joke?”

“Nanhume boete,” answered a ghostly voice from right in front of him. Rei jumped back.

Rome poked her head out of the refresher. “Beo?” Rome asked in Vuduri. “Is that you?”

The air shimmered in front of Rei and the disembodied head of Fridone appeared to float in front of him.

“Fridone?” Rei said.

Fridone smiled and the rest of his body appeared. Immediately, Rei could see Fridone was wearing one of the Deucadon’s invisibility suits. Fridone was also holding Aason who was smiling. This in itself was disconcerting as he was only a few days old but many things about Aason defied explanation.

 

Tomorrow, the second half of this little incident.

 

Entry 3-279: October 1, 2015

Knock, knock 2

 

Yesterday, I set up the situation in the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution where Rome and Rei were inside their bedroom, with the door closed no less. They could not have had more privacy if they wanted it. Imagine their surprise when Rome’s father came knocking at the door. Here is the second part of that scene:

 

“Aiee!,” Rome shouted and rushed forward to hug her father. “What are you doing here?” Rome asked him.

“I told you,” Fridone said. “Somebody has to watch your son while you fight your fight.”

“But Beo,” Rome said sadly. “If they find you, they will know what is happening on Deucado. And we cannot take you back now.”

“They will not find me, little Rome,” Fridone said. He pointed to the invisibility suit. “They will not find me if they cannot see me,” he said smiling.

“But Aason,” Rome said. “What about him?”

“MINIMCOM and I had some discussions,” Fridone said. “He assured me that that we can do this with absolutely no danger to myself or Aason. I would not have come along if there was any chance of jeopardizing your mission.”

There was a clicking sound from with the grille mounted to the left of the doorway.

“Aason will be fine,” MINIMCOM piped in. “Fridone and Aason can remain aboard me. I will eject your space tug well before their detection range. You will fly to Earth within your craft. With my new invisibility shell, no one will know we are here until we are ready to tell them.”

Rei looked at Rome. Rome shrugged. Rei set the onyx box back on the dresser as he no longer needed the fearsome weapon.

“What about all the discomfort you mentioned before? About people traveling in you alone?” Rei directed to MINIMCOM.

“I will make the necessary adjustments. It will not be a problem,” MINIMCOM replied, ending the subject.

“OK then,” Rei said. “It sounds like a plan to me.”

 

A few days back, I basically told you that Rome’s father was sneaking aboard. There was no way he was going to let them go back to Earth and not take him. So now he’s here. Now the trio has to come up with Plan B.

 

Entry 3-280: October 2, 2015

The Four Musketeers

 

At the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome and Rei had taken it upon themselves to travel back to Earth. Their mission was to find a member of the Vuduri that absolutely, positively, could not be a member of the Onsiras, the evil group dedicated to the extinction of mankind. They wanted to replace free-thinking humans with living robots serving MASAL, the master computer.

 

Basically, the couple was going to take on the Overmind and by extension, the entire planet of Earth. Now for some people, this may have been a daunting task but Rome and Rei have never shied away from doing the right thing.

 

But with the addition of Rome’s father, Fridone, to the mix, they realized that maybe they were better off with the numbers:

 

Rei looked at Rome. Rome shrugged. Rei set the onyx box back on the dresser as he no longer needed the fearsome weapon.

“What about all the discomfort you mentioned before? About people traveling in you alone?” Rei directed to MINIMCOM.

“I will make the necessary adjustments. It will not be a problem,” MINIMCOM replied, ending the subject.

“OK then,” Rei said. “It sounds like a plan to me.”

“And to me as well,” Rome replied, stroking Aason gently on his head.

“That makes three of us,” Fridone said in Vuduri.

Me four,” answered Aason as well, broadcasting to his mother using PPT modulation, to his father using their normal electromagnetic band and to Fridone, compliments of MINIMCOM who relayed Aason’s transmission and played it through his grille. Somehow, MINIMCOM made Aason’s tiny voice sound like it suited his tiny body.

The group laughed. At least they did until the smiles ebbed from their faces, knowing what lie ahead.

 

This sets up one of my most favorite scenes, the reunion between Fridone and Binoda after being apart for ten years. And puts Aason in the position of single-handedly saving the Earth, right when it was needed.

 

 

Entry 3-281: October 3, 2015

Three chairs

 

Take something as mundane as a chair. We use it to sit down. It is much more enjoyable to partake in a meal sitting down than standing up. In the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution, Rome’s father, Fridone, integrated him into the stealth force heading back to the Earth. Since it was going to be an eight day trip, they decided to build a chair for him so they could all sit together for meals. It seems so innocent:

 

Even though it was only an eight day trip, Rei and Rome had to do a little rearranging in the small kitchen to account for their unanticipated passenger. Using the molecular synthesizers, they made an extra chair for Fridone to sit beside the combination carrier/high chair for Aason. Even though he was too young to eat food, Aason had already made it quite clear that he enjoyed being in their company while they ate their meals.

 

Fridone and Rome were sitting at the dining table, finishing their dinner. They were approximately one light year away from Earth, roughly one day out from the release point that MINIMCOM had determined was far enough away to avoid detection but near enough to minimize the time that Rei and Rome had to travel in the substantially slower space tug.

 

However, that third chair, that most simple object, turned out to be the one clue that got Rome and Rei kidnapped, tortured and nearly killed. Rome’s denial of the purpose of that chair got Estar killed.

 

Three chairs instead of two. Who would’ve thunk it?

 

 

Entry 3-282: October 4, 2015

The Big Lie: Part 1 of 6

 

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Reality just is. It doesn’t need to be constructed. So people who lie compulsively or even just making up a little white lie have to think of everything whereas people who tell the truth do not.

 

Nothing could be more apparent when Rome, Rei and Fridone were trying to construct the perfect cover story at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. The following is part one of six showing how hard it is to construct a perfect lie:

 

Rei turned to Rome. “It won’t hold up,” Rei answered in English.

“Vuduri, bir vefir,” Rome replied, pointing to Fridone. “What will not hold up?” she asked in Vuduri.

“Our plan,” Rei replied. “Our explanation as to what went down on Deucado. It is too complex. Lies are best kept simple.”

“Which part is too complex?” Rome asked.

“The whole thing,” Rei replied. Rei started ticking off his points with his fingers. “The way we have it, one, we flew to Deucado. Two, somehow we lost the Ark. Three, we met with some kind Vuduri who nicely escorted us their compound. Four, somehow, they kept the whole conspiracy about the prison world a secret even while they reintegrated you into their samanda. Five, you gave birth and never discovered that anything was off there. Six, they just let us go when we decided to return to Earth. Rome, the pieces do not fit together. In my opinion, it just will not fly. It is too complicated and that is a fundamental flaw.”

“Cannot it be simply that they did not reintegrate me into their samanda?” Rome asked. “That way, I would not be able to detect their deception.”

“Can you really pull that off?” Rei asked. “There is no way to detect that?”

“I do not think so,” Rome said. “Their instruments will detect that my body is emanating PPT modulation but they would not be able to ascertain if it was due to reintegration or some sort of natural recovery. Do not forget, I have my wall.”

“And you think it will hold up?” Rei asked.

“It held up against the Overmind of Deucado,” Rome countered.

“But that was an Overmind made up of maybe one thousand Vuduri. You are going to go up against one made up of half a billion.”

“Nonetheless, I will be up to the task,” Rome said firmly.

“OK, I am not going to argue with you about that. But what about Aason?” Rei asked.

“What about him” Rome asked back.

“Well, we were going to tell them that you gave birth on Deucado and now we are going to hide him on MINIMCOM? How do we explain that?”

“We will say that we left him behind,” Rome answered back.

 

Tomorrow, part 2.

 

Entry 3-283: October 5, 2015

The Big Lie: Part 2 of 6

 

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Reality just is. It doesn’t need to be constructed. So people who lie compulsively or even just making up a little white lie have to think of everything whereas people who tell the truth do not.

 

Nothing could be more apparent when Rome, Rei and Fridone were trying to construct the perfect cover story at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. The following is part two of six showing how hard it is to construct a perfect lie:

 

“With who? With your father?” Rei asked. “We cannot say that because then we would know about the Ibbrassati and that gives the whole thing away again. So we would have to say we left Aason with somebody else. Rome, no offense intended, but nobody is going to believe that you left your baby behind with a perfect stranger.”

Rome looked at Fridone then back at Rei. “While I admit that there are some holes in our story, I think we can cover them up long enough to accomplish our goals.”

“Maybe you can,” Rei said. “But I am not such a good liar. I will mess up somehow. My parents taught me always to tell the truth.”

“You lied convincingly to the Vuduri on Deucado regarding your Ark,” Rome pointed out.

“No, I did not,” Rei said. “As you will recall, nobody thought enough of me to ever ask me. They thought they were all so clever by reintegrating you and then probing your mind. Nobody ever asked me.”

“Yes, you are correct,” Rome said. “This is typical of the Vuduri. Given a problem, once they arrive at a solution, it would never occur to them to try a different approach.”

“Yes,” Rei said. “And look where it got them.”

Rome nodded. “All right then. If you do not think our story will work, do you have a better suggestion?”

“I think I do,” Rei said. He walked over to Fridone and handed him Aason. “I think I have a way of us not having to explain what happened on Deucado at all.”

“How is that?” Rome asked.

“I think I have a way for us to make it seem like we never even got there,” Rei replied.

“But we did get there. I am not understanding you,” Rome said.

“You will,” Rei said, sitting down. “Here…”

He swept all the dishes and silverware on the table off to the side. Then he started rearranging the plates and flatware that were sitting there one at a time.

“Let us say that this plate is Tabit,” Rei said. He picked up a small plate and placed it at one end of the table.

“All right,” Rome said. “Go on.”

 

Tomorrow, part 3.

 

Entry 3-284: October 6, 2015

The Big Lie: Part 3 of 6

 

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Reality just is. It doesn’t need to be constructed. So people who lie compulsively or even just making up a little white lie have to think of everything whereas people who tell the truth do not.

 

Nothing could be more apparent when Rome, Rei and Fridone were trying to construct the perfect cover story at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. The following is part three of six showing how hard it is to construct a perfect lie:

 

“OK. Our story starts there. The Stareater, the whole thing. We leave that part alone. So now we are traveling toward Deucado. Say that MINIMCOM and our flying house towed the Ark a little past the star, Keid.” With that, Rei put another plate to the right of the first one and laid a fork between the two plates. “That fork is our trajectory. MINIMCOM,” Rei called out. “How long did that take?”

MINIMCOM replied, “Roughly seven months.”

“All right,” Rei said. “At that point, let us say you were already three months pregnant.”

“I was,” Rome said with a smile on her face. “Remember, I was there.”

“Sure, sure,” Rei said. “So this is where we change what happened. Let us say that at that point, you and I decided we wanted the baby to be born on Earth. We would let MINIMCOM tow the Ark the rest of the way to Deucado by himself.” He pushed another plate, slightly off from a straight line near the plate representing Keid. He took another fork and placed it to show the route taken by MINIMCOM and the Ark.

“So you and I never arrived at Deucado?” asked Rome.

“Exactly,” Rei said. “That way there is no issue regarding our interaction with the Vuduri. There is nothing to explain because it never happened. We would not know about the Ibbrassati or anything that was going there.”

“What would prevent the Vuduri on Earth from going out and looking for the Ark?” Rome asked.

“Well, given this scenario,” Rei said,” that would mean that right now, MINIMCOM and the Ark would be, like, six light years out from Deucado. MINIMCOM, how long would it take you to tow the Ark from that point to Deucado by yourself?”

“Well over one year,” MINIMCOM replied. “Assuming I could do it at all when I was just a tug.”

“Well, we say you could. So no questions there. Nobody is going to go out and search for them, not in interstellar space like that. What would be the hurry? Besides, if they went to look, they’d get to Deucado first and know what was happening anyway.”

“All right, Rei,” Rome replied. “I understand so far. That takes care of Deucado. What about the rest. What were we doing while MINIMCOM was stuck towing the Ark?”

 

Tomorrow, part 4.

 

Entry 3-285: October 7, 2015

The Big Lie: Part 4 of 6

 

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Reality just is. It doesn’t need to be constructed. So people who lie compulsively or even just making up a little white lie have to think of everything whereas people who tell the truth do not.

 

Nothing could be more apparent when Rome, Rei and Fridone were trying to construct the perfect cover story at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. The following is part four of six showing how hard it is to construct a perfect lie:

 

“That part is easy,” Rei said. “We just say we made a beeline for Earth.”

“What is a beeline?” asked Fridone.

“A straight line,” Rei said. He moved the final plate past the one representing Deucado so that, in totality, the arrangement represented a semi-circle. He lined up a knife from the plate representing Keid to the one representing Earth. “That would be our trajectory,” he said, “in the flying house.”

“I understand. That seems simple enough,” observed Fridone.

“There are two problems with that,” Rome said.

“And what are the problems?” Rei asked.

“MINIMCOM, how long would it take us to travel from this supposed drop point back to Earth?” Rome asked.

“No more than three months,” MINIMCOM replied, “assuming you were traveling at maximum speed.”

“So Rei, this means we should have arrived at Earth months ago,” Rome pointed out. “How would you explain our delay?”

“Easy,” Rei replied. “We have MINIMCOM cripple our ship. Make it so that it can only push us along at a speed which corresponds to our arrival time.”

“MINIMCOM, can you do this?” Rome asked.

“Yes,” replied MINIMCOM. “I will simply dampen down the strength of the Casimir pumps. I will make them less effective. The less negative energy you pump out, the lower the projection length of the PPT generators. Thus each tunnel would extend a shorter distance. This would have the net effect of reducing your overall effective speed.”

“That is great, MINIMCOM. I know this will sound strange but given what we have been through, what if we need to go fast for some reason?” Rei asked.

“I will make the changes reversible so that you would be able to re-achieve full speed should you need it,” replied MINIMCOM. “However, I will make the restore sequence available only to the two of you by training. There will be no physical record. No one else will be able to deduce it.”

“That is perfect, MINIMCOM, thanks,” Rei replied. Then to Rome, he said, “What is the other problem?”

“Aason,” Rome said, pointing at their son. “How would you explain his absence?”

Rei stood up and walked over to Rome. He squatted down and put both his hands on her shoulders, looking into her beautiful eyes. He caressed her gently for a moment, marveling at the peace he felt when he was in her presence. Then he took a deep breath.

 

Rei knows his very next words will upset Rome to her core. Even though it is a lie, it is a thought that Rome will have a very hard time entertaining. Part 5 tomorrow.

 

Entry 3-286: October 8, 2015

The Big Lie: Part 5 of 6

 

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Reality just is. It doesn’t need to be constructed. So people who lie compulsively or even just making up a little white lie have to think of everything whereas people who tell the truth do not.

 

Nothing could be more apparent when Rome, Rei and Fridone were trying to construct the perfect cover story at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. The following is part five of six showing how hard it is to construct a perfect lie:

 

“Romey, listen to me carefully,” Rei said quietly. “Please do not get upset, but Aason died at childbirth.”

“What!?” Rome said, “No! Not our baby,” she said. Tears welled up in her eyes.

“Not for real,” Rei said. “We are just saying that. He will be safe onboard MINIMCOM with your father. We just say he was stillborn.”

“But even thinking this makes me so sad,” Rome said. “It makes me cry. I would not…” She stopped speaking. Through her tears, a broad smile started to form. “I would be so sad that I would not be able to answer any questions without breaking down.”

“Exactly,” Rei said. “No muss, no fuss. All bases covered.”

“I am so sorry, baby,” Rome said wiping away her tears. She turned toward her son. “It hurts me to even think about this,” she said.

It will be all right, Mother,” Aason replied. “I understand.”

“All right. Beo?” Rome asked. “What do you think?”

“I think that Rei’s parents did not do such a good job to teach him to always tell the truth. These lies come very easy,” Fridone said with a smile.

“But it will work?” Rei asked.

“It will work,” replied Fridone.

“MINIMCOM?” Rei asked. “What do you think? Any obvious flaws?”

“Just one,” replied MINIMCOM.

“And what is that?” asked Rome.

“Your nursery,” said MINIMCOM. “If anyone should come aboard and examine your ship, they will know what it was for and they will see that it was used.”

“Well, just having it should not be a problem. Would we not get it ready in advance of the baby being born?” Rei asked.

“I think it would be more effective to just remove it,” replied MINIMCOM. “You will not need it any more as I will prepare facilities for Aason onboard me. It would be simpler to leave no evidence. You just say you took it down because of the sadness it caused by leaving it in place.”

“All right,” Rei said. “We will take down the nursery. Anything else? Do you think the story is tight?”

 

Uh, they forgot about the third chair in the galley. Tomorrow, the final part of this little story.

 

Entry 3-287: October 9, 2015

The Big Lie: Part 6 of 6

 

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Reality just is. It doesn’t need to be constructed. So people who lie compulsively or even just making up a little white lie have to think of everything whereas people who tell the truth do not.

 

Nothing could be more apparent when Rome, Rei and Fridone were trying to construct the perfect cover story at the beginning of Part 3 of Rome’s Revolution. The following is the final part of six showing how hard it is to construct a perfect lie:

 

“Yes,” replied the computer/spaceship. “Your suggested modifications make it the simplest story and therefore will take the longest to penetrate with inconsistencies. I will deploy a modest number of star probe relays in this general region. I should be able to detect any ships that are launched to investigate any aspects of your story. I should be able to give you some advanced warning should there be any suspicion of untruth.”

“Star probes are good,” Rome said, “but what about if the Cecetiras show up. Do you think there will be Bridadiras here in time?”

“This is not a problem,” MINIMCOM said. “I have brought many pieces of Lawlidon with me. After I have seen to your safe arrival on Earth, I will return to this region and begin deploying those as well. They will collect matter so they can reproduce and begin forming a detection shield between the inner and outer portions of the Oort cloud for Sol. In a month or two, we should be ready for an attack.”

“And Asdrale Cimatir?” asked Rome.

“Yes,” Rei said. “The Stareaters. That is the bottom line for everything, in the end.”

“I will use the Lawlidon analogs here as I did on Deucado to deploy VIRUS units. Given enough time and notice, they should be able to attach and deter any such attack as they did on Tabit. It will only take me a few weeks to set up the infrastructure.”

“But without the mutations, right?” Rei asked.

“Yes, without the mutations,” MINIMCOM replied.

“All right then?” Rei asked the assembled group.

Each indicated their approval.

“Okeydokey,” Rei said in English. Then, in Vuduri, he said, “Let us start our work.”

As the conversation was now over, all three got up and went about preparing the ship to stand up to even a detailed inspection. Fridone and Rei set to work dismantling the nursery. Rome had MINIMCOM repressurize his cargo compartment that was currently holding the flying house. Carrying Aason’s high chair, Rome left their ship and made her way to the “new” super-sized MINIMCOM to examine the facilities that he had erected for Aason and her father. She also inspected the galley to make sure that it had all the components she knew they would require. She left the high chair there. After she was satisfied, she came back on board the flying house and reviewed all the sensor logs and other data storage formats to make sure there was no evidence that Fridone or Aason were ever aboard their converted tug.

 

They think they have all the bases covered? Not even close. Estar picks apart their story in about five minutes. But more on that down the road.

 

Entry 3-288: October 10, 2015

The Best Mommy

 

When we first met Rome at the beginning of Rome’s Revolution, we had no idea of the kind of person she would evolve into. She was not very skilled at expressing emotion and Rei swept through her world like a hurricane. She adapted to him and she adapted to being Cesdiud and when the time came, she adapted to being a mother. In this case, she had a role model, her own mother Binoda, to follow. But even so, she was learning “on the job” so to speak.

 

Over the last few days, I presented their construction of “The Big Lie” and one of the things it required was that Rome leave her baby with her father aboard MINIMCOM. Rome thought she was emotionally prepared to do this since it was for the greater good but right at the last minute, her resolve seemed to waver:

 

Rei and Rome were dressed in their pressure suits, strapped into the high-G harnesses in the cockpit of the flying house. Their instrumentation told them that MINIMCOM had begun pumping the air out of the cargo hold and their ship would soon be sitting in the vacuum of space. The cockpit was sealed up as well even though there was absolutely no reason to suspect a leak. Still, docking and undocking was always hazardous even within a super-ship such as MINIMCOM. When it came to his wife’s safety, there was no such thing as too many precautions.

“Stand by for release,” MINIMCOM instructed.

“Wait,” Rome said. “I am not ready yet. MINIMCOM, I need to see Aason and my father again.”

Mother, I will be all right. I am with Grandbeo,” said Aason in her mind.

That is not the point, baby,” Rome thought back. “I need to see you one last time,” she said out loud.

One of the view screens flickered and she could see Aason and her father sitting in MINIMCOM’s cockpit. Judging from their position within it, the cockpit appeared even larger than it had been before and she could see in the background a table and what appeared to be a couch.