Tag Archive | Science Fiction

Gods of Terra | In Hiding


The Fractus held his hand to his forehead, feeling the pain of an oncoming stress headache.

In his world at the edge of the universe, closed off from conventional spacetime, he sat at his workspace, ready to do his task of creating a new universe from a tiny fraction of the old.

He was anxious at the danger posed by his actions, not in themselves, but in the attention they would draw.

The Kai’Siri were still looking for him, as their most dangerous foe, for the death of the starship’s crew on the vessel where he was deployed for his first and last mission on their behalf.

He was afraid that they would gain control of him once again. He feared enslavement. He meant to avoid it at all cost, save that of the death of his universe of birth.

So he hid, and to this day, he hides still. And he waits.

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Lyapunov’s Children | The Impactor


It happened in a newly colonized, barely surveyed system near the rim of the galactic habitable zone.

I saw everything when then end came, screaming out of the sky to those below like the shriek of a banshee having her arms ripped off by a murderous giant. What happened next was the worst, when the impactor hit, causing massive seismic disruption and tsunamis across the face of the tiny planet.

Billions of tonnes of dust were kicked up into the atmosphere as a shockwave rippled across the world. Where it touched, outposts fell, forests burned, and the oceans boiled from the spread of the accompanying fireball of superheated dust, air, and steam.

Where was I in all this?

I was in an orbital station, monitoring satellite traffic and planetary weather patterns when the strike happened, watching it all with horror as ninety-percent of everything on the planet died, unable to even so much as warn those below…

Gods of Terra | Digmas Tassuula: The Cult of Kai’Siri Nationalism


Digmas Tassuula is an ancient faith, though to maintain its longevity it has adapted in an almost Darwinian fashion to the needs and selective pressures of the times. It, like Kai’Siri society as a whole, is the sum of its history, and trends over time in the culture.

It is the basis for Kai’Siri nationalism, the force behind their drive for empire. Ethnic Kai’Siri alone are permitted as members, whether converts or through upbringing. Digmas Tassuula’s prime dictum is this:

Spread the culture of our species to the stars, to all peoples, to all worlds, but the Faith of our people is ours and ours alone. None but we may lay claim to it.

It would be foolish for this religion not to have a means of perpetuating itself. It does so mainly through its promotion of pride in a national identity binding the Kai’Siri race together.

Digmas Tassuula has no gods, no beings that are prayed to, invoked, or worshipped, unlike some prominent Terran religions originating on that world’s Eastern Hemisphere. It does, however, have a mythology that describes ancient beings it calls the Strangers, who are said to have brought humans from Terra to Sirug long ago, and taught them the basis of civilization and high culture, enjoining them to spread these across the galaxy.

Digmas Tassuula requires no belief in any sort of supernaturalism, and postulates no such entities or miraculous events as historically or factually true. Kai’Siri are a critically thinking culture, and know the dangers of oversimplification, reification and literalism in one’s belief structure.

The early history of the religion was not always so rationalist in its outlook, and it was largely the social consequences of this which led to its current state. The most recent reaction was several millennia back, just following the Third Sirugian Dark Age, when planetary war and human dieback from repressive social policies instituted by religious authorities nearly destroyed civilization and spurred massive reforms by the survivors.

What of its future? Well, at the moment it shares the landscape of belief with several other less practiced and more secretive mystery religions, including the Hidden Order of the Orugruuta, an extreme nationalist sect responsible for the project that created three of the four wielders of the near-legendary Prime Shards; the Mirus, the Fractus, and the Magna, beings of formidable power. One day, it could be eclipsed by that one or some other, even more extreme sect.

But for now, Digmas Tassuula is the main player where religion is concerned, and where the majority of Kai’Siri direct their faith and ideological fervor, a tricky thing to balance with their rationalism. Then again, Kai’Siri are humans, so that shouldn’t be surprising.

Shut up and calculate! Wonders v. Magic Wands in Science Fiction


Science fiction has a history and an unfortunately well-deserved reputation for sometimes playing fast and loose with the science it uses, often verging into the use of “pure fecking magic” (PFM) in some subgenres.

I classify such technological magic along a spectrum between Wonders and Magic wands.

Wonders are often not explained, and are often best not explained. They have the virtue of being both more consistent in principle with the best currently-known real science and so seeming less contrived.

Magic wands are those plot elements that are allegedly scientific, but suffer from being poorly or overly explained. Not only this, but they suffer from a profound disconnect with actual science, often contradicting fundamental scientific laws.

It is my view that the best SF is that which uses the best science of the time it is written, as it takes more imagination and creativity to write skillfully while working within a set of constraints than to just make shit up, piling up contrived detail upon contrived detail and expect uncritical suspension of disbelief from the readers.

Forcing yourself to write within limits tests your skill as a writer.

The best SF uses good science to aid in the storytelling, lending plausibility to the narrative, not as an impediment, and does not try acts of logical terrorism that would make William of Ockham spin in his grave at a radial velocity of c in the famous equation E=mc^2.

My reasoning for this is that too much profligate magic, too much contrivance and poor explanation overstimulates and desensitizes the imagination, dulling it, even the writer’s own, both distracting and detracting from an otherwise good story.

Even if a plot element does do something fantastical, it should at least be somewhat friendly with the best known science, or do what it does without blatantly violating what we have good reason to think we know.

A good example of that is psionics in the science fiction RPG Traveller. Let’s look at psionic teleportation.

Teleportation is limited in that it must obey the laws of thermodynamics and the conservation of momentum, with limits put on both altitude teleported to and distance travelled on a moving and rotating body like a planet.

Sudden altitude shifts can result in differences in gravitational potential energy which can lead to dangerous overheating or hypothermia. All that energy you pick up or lose has to go somewhere. it gets turned into heat, and transferred to you or bled out of you and dispersed into the universe.

Teleporting from a moving body to a relatively unmoving one is dangerous when travelling great distances even without altitude shifts. It’s smarter and safer to make a series of many very short jumps than one very great one. You keep whatever relative velocity you start with, and this can result in severe injury, or winding up inside a solid object if you jump too far or can’t accurately visualize the target location.

Ouch.

These do more than just make sense. They are plausible ways of providing setting balance and force the psionic player to think about his powers, rather than thinking with his powers.

That can make all the difference between SF and science fantasy or superhero fiction.

Friga’s Day Flash Fiction: Bye! Gotta run! [a tale in less than ten sentences]


Busily, busily, the nanodrones labored, tiny, tiny things running to and fro about, weaving complex machinery into their master’s very brain and body.

The time was short, the enemy near, an enemy which sought to take the Paradox engine by force, but It who Scratches at the Gates was very clever and knew their every move!

It who was also called Sarusammog of the Gates saw them in orbit, their weapon signatures yet inactive, their targeting sensors seeking the data needed for pinpoint accuracy.

They had almost locked onto Its location, then the weapons would come online, then the fun would begin!

Sarusammog grinned Its Cheshire grin as the nanodrones finished, the coveted machinery now part of It.

Its sensors registered a targeting lock. They had found It. But it was too late.

It laughed in Its vaguely feline way as It suddenly fell through spacetime, as the world It left behind burned, carrying Its secret with it billions of cycles into the future, through the gates in reality after which It was named, to safety.

Suckers!

Eldritch Nine: The Clockwork Intelligence


mhgfdmuydfmhd,ddmtdmtdmytdWho or what is the Clockwork Intelligence? Whence did it come? It began as the ultimate result of artificial intelligence research and nanotechnology by a now dead civilization, the creation of a digital consciousness whose logic systems, both memory and processing, used nanoscale clockwork bits for data. It was a thinking mechanical computer with peripherals that allowed it to interface with various media formats.

Like most of the other Nine except the Undying Star, it destroyed the race it descended from, or rather, which built it. It uses molecular machines, nanodrones, that can disassemble matter and rebuild it as a part of the Intelligence, allowing it to repair and add to itself. It is a planet-sized entity rendered spherical through its own mass and gravity, that disassembled the planet and bodies of its creators to reach its final size and attaining its level of intelligence by adding more components to itself.

The overwhelming impulse that drove the Intelligence was an utter sense of existential ennui. It wanted to end all existence, and prevent itself from ever being built, along with the existence of everything else.

It was an ally of the Undying Star, and at first, the other seven of the Nine who are One, swaying the Star to its side through the latter’s initial telepathic contact with it using a neural synthesizer. No mean feat, though the Intelligence and the Star were both digital intellects that thought similarly to each other despite separate origins.

It was the Clockwork Intelligence and Undying Star who began the war that split the Grand Civilization, and resulted in their own ultimate destruction. Through their like-minded partnership, they schemed to end all of the universe in the distant future, and prevent the causal loop in time that would result in their own existence by a race journeying from the end of the universe to its first dawning of life.

The Undying Star, initially an ally of the King of Shards, became an enemy of the same when the Clockwork Intelligence infected it with its ennui, thus sealing their own alliance.

The Nine had joined as one mind in founding and conquering their empire, using the Undying Star’s telepathic abilities to create the link, with the King of Shards and Sarusammog of the Gates as the unity’s executive control systems due to their flexible, adaptive minds.

The Intelligence designed means of shielding its and the Undying Star’s thoughts and plans from the King of Shards’ hyperdimensional awareness, and it was the Intelligence which calculated the Doom Equation that would allow it to end all existence by causing the universe to both collapse and tear itself apart. This was along with a failsafe plan involving the corruption of the Suthidruu genome conceived by the Star.

It was a partnership made in hell, depending on the efforts of a species not born for billions of years after to avert its effects and save the even more distant future: That would be humanity, and the evolutionary children that would branch from it, not humans, but something very much like them and sprung from the same roots.

Small wonder that it was an offshoot of the human species, the Kai’Siri, who first found the hypershards, and learned to use them…

In time, and through further stories, all will be revealed.