Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Man Who Fell To Earth

Once upon a time ago before I read any work by Ayn Rand I saw The Man Who Fell To Earth starring David Bowie.  I didn’t enjoy sitting through it and the one scene that stuck with me depicted a nihilist denouncing innovation.  Having never read a word of real philosophy at the time I merely saw the character as being stupid.

After the recent death of Mr. Bowie a local film society held a showing of the film.  I won’t claim the excuse of brain damage in deciding to see it.  I had actually forgot how truly awful it was.

It wasn’t just the fact that the director was a no talent hack with delusions of cleverness. 

Nor was it his insistence on using Manhattan skyscrapers as an anatomical reference along with inserting two pointless scenes that stop just short of actual pornography.

No.

Every second of the film was an expression of the hatred of human life and after only half an hour I walked out.

Remember the nihilist?  When I originally saw the film I could not understand how any character could be so stupid.  I now understand that in denouncing any improvement in the tools used by man he was denying the value of human life.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thought For The Day

It amazing how many problems can be solved with the application of weapons grade fissionables.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

From the Diary of E.A. Keller

EAK Diary -- November 24, 2015

On this day in my original life I was put to death for crimes against the state.  As a result of my actions in this life that state does not exist.  And as a result of my actions the path of life for everyone has changed.  


Has it changed for the better?
 

For those myself and who value life the answer is yes.  For those who value power the answer is a very clear no.  Although there are still mass graves from coast to coast the contents of those graves have changed.  Those who were the destroyers of life in this world are now dead or have been driven away. 
 

Do I regret my actions in this life?
 

I do regret my failures but otherwise no.  I did the best I could with the information I had.
 

So what of the future?
 

I don’t know.  I’ll just do the best that I can.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Another Segment

The first story written and sold by H. Beam Piper was based on the idea of psychic time  travel.  I'm having a go at the concept to explain the differences between our real universe and the fictional universe:

Diary of E.A. Keller, October 14, 1975

I also had an encounter with Stephanie Kane today. 

Miss Kane appears to be a narcissistic personality, that is someone who sees herself as the most important, if not the only person, in her private universe.  This materially manifests as a habit of dressing to project the appearance of being sexually attractive.  And though she wears normal clothes for the climate outside of school hours she changes over to the attractive mode and back in the girl’s restroom before and after class. 

Up to this time she had ignored me as I was properly seen before the change as a long term loser.  As I am not trying to hide the change to an adult mental state, and especially with the adult manner of grooming and speech, I’ve suddenly become a “chick magnet.”  If I wasn’t an old man in a young body I wouldn’t be bothered by this but as part of the change I’ve not only picked up a moral standard but an esthetic standard as well.

What can I say about Miss Kane apart from that she looks ridiculous?

But Miss Kane came on to me so I replied to her.

“Miss Kane, I don’t know a nice way to put this, but you look like a common prostitute.”

She was shocked.  I continued.

“Seriously, apart from the needle tracks and related heath issues, you look like one of the hookers working on Block E, or worse, one of those on Lake Street.”

She asked me what Block E was.

“It’s the west side of Hennepin Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets in Downtown Minneapolis.  I don’t know offhand what the east side is called but it’s probably worse.”

She then asked me how it could be worse.

“There’s an actual porno theater on the other side.”

At this point she just stared at me and at this point I made a suggestion.

“Stephanie, everyone is privately laughing at you behind your back, you don’t need to slut up, just be yourself.”

I don’t know if there really is a self for her to be but I had to say it.



Friday, November 06, 2015

Saigon Special

Part One

In a flash of light a black arrowhead shaped vessel appeared above the north polar region of the planet Mars.

It had been a hard journey.

The frigate UMCS Nguyen Loan was returning to Freya from its last scheduled deep space mission.  Nguyen Loan had been the first unit of a class of frigates and was the first scheduled for retirement.  There had been a discussion of the mission at the fleet command level, was it necessary to use this ship to transport a diplomat and show the flag?  Or should the mission be performed by another ship that was in better condition?

There was no question now of it.

On what was scheduled to be the last jump through hyperspace for elderly vessel had clearly gone wrong.  The first clue was general sense of nausea felt by all aboard during the jump.  The feeling of nausea was a known indication that the hyperdrive had malfunctioned and the ship misjumped.  The second sign of a misjump was the complete absence of traffic in the home system.  There was no communications or any other sign of a human presence in the system.  Furthermore the point of exit from hyperspace completely wrong.  The ship exited hyperspace further than planned from the primary and secondary stars of 10 Ursae Majoris. 

As the navigator examined her data it appeared that something else was wrong.  The planets were all in the wrong positions.  On the possibility that there was a temporal factor to the misjump she checked the planetary positions against the shipboard database.

“Let me get this straight,” said the captain, “we’ve also jumped backwards in time?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Commander Susan Glasgow was one the rare women in her family to pursue a military career.  Although she wasn’t observant Susan could trace some of her ancestry back to several Israelites who fled to Scotland after the fall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  Her most famous recent ancestor was Dave Glasgow, who served in the United States Army with Al Keller and was the commander of the Special Unit during The Reformation.  All members of the Special Unit and their families would go out on the first load of civilian colonists to the planet Mars.

Commander Glasgow asked the question.

“So what day is it now?”

“September 2, 2014 Standard, ma’am.”

Commander Glasgow mentally cursed.

While The Reformation was winding down in the United States there would still some years to go in The Final War on Earth.

“Okay,” she said. “I need to think on this.”

When Commander Glasgow came to a decision she called a meeting of the command staff.  She began by explaining the full effect the temporal misjump and then she announced her decision.

“We’re going to Earth.”

Everyone was dumbfounded at the decision, some of those present had even dropped their jaws.

The chief engineer, Lieutenant Dennis Sterling. was the first to respond.

“Ma’am. I have to disagree with that, we’ve just came through a misjump and I wouldn’t attempt another jump without a full overhaul of the system.”

Now the navigator, Junior Lieutenant Lisa Holland, spoke up.

“Ma’am, we have two perfectly good worlds here in the home system, we don’t need to go to Earth.”

Junior Lieutenant John Keller, the leader of the SURFER team responded.

“I have to disagree with you there Lisa.  This was our home system and it could be again, but we don’t have the numbers or the right gender balance to set up a viable colony.  And even if we did we wouldn’t be able to maintain our technology and culture.  When John Vance and the Endeavor drop into the system in 2125 he will find a stone age community if we were fortunate.”

The first officer, Rav Seren {1] Uri Stern of the Masada Defense Forces, spoke up.

“We’ll have to go over the hyperdrive with a fine tooth comb.  We will have to carefully nurse the drive and we may have to make single parsec jumps instead of full jumps, but we will reach Earth.”

With careful nursing of the hyperdrive it would take six months to the cover the 54 light years from 10 Ursae Majoris to the Solar System, and there would be two suicides along the way, but they would make it.  The initial meeting ended with a long discussion on how to contact the people on Earth.

Junior Lieutenant Mark Keller, who was a history geek off duty, spoke on the the current mess on Earth.

“Apart from some holdouts under siege in New York, Boston, Chicago, and the San-San Strip in California, the Reformers are in full control of the United States, The State of Israel is gone and the survivors have been evacuated to the United States.  France, Russia, China, and the various Islamic states are gone.  The good news is  that British Spacelift is still sending out OTV’s with supplies to support the Mars Expedition.”

In the history of the Mars Expedition one the female members of the mission accidentally  became pregnant and had given birth to a daughter at the Lowell Base.  There was some debate as to the feasability of being able to bring the infant girl home to Earth.

Commander Glasgow asked Keller a question.

“So how should we contact Earth?”

Keller answered.

“Given that the ballistic missile defense systems of the Omaha Pact are still up I recommend that we contact the Mars Expedition directly.”

“Right.”  She replied.  “Let’s do that.”

In normal space above the Martian northern hemisphere Rav Seren Stern supervised as the fire control and navigation sensors began to scan for the Mars Expedition.

He then spoke up.

“Ma’am, there’s a problem.”

Commander Glasgow stepped across the command deck to the fire control station.

“What’s wrong?”

Rav Seren Stern replied.

“There’s no sign of an expedition on the planet.”

“What?”

“There should be at least two orbital transfer vehicles in orbit around Mars at this time also  there’s no infrared signature on the surface for Lowell Base.”  He replied. 

“Are you using the active sensors?”  She asked.

“Yes, apart from what may be a robot orbiter there’s nothing.”

“Nothing at all?”

Yes, ma’am.”

“And there’s nothing on the surface?”

Rav Seren Stern shook his head.

“Even in broad daylight the heat emissions from the base should be lighting up the fire control sensors, but there’s nothing here at all.”

Commander Glasgow thought for a moment and made a decision.

“Take us in for a closer look.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am.”

The close examination of the martian surface revealed that there were two active unmanned rovers on the surface.  Commander Glasgow ordered Lieutenant Keller to recover one for examination.

Later in the city of Washington NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. was very, very, annoyed.

The loss of the Mars Excursion Rover Opportunity to an obviously human act was a major event.  But the effort to notify the President ran into multiple walls of bureaucracy and outright idiocy.  The fact was the the planet Mars and the future of Humanity meant nothing to President Obama.  Not even the apparent fact that there were now humans on Mars apparently meant nothing to him and the effort to schedule an appointment to see the president was a virtual nightmare.

But the photograph in his briefcase was about to change that.

[1] Equivalent to Major or Lieutenant Commander.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Another Unused Portion

I was attempting to rewrite (steal) the Watershed scene from The Tactics Of Mistake by Gordon R. Dickson but I wasn't happy with it:

For Colonel Thomas Kearney the operation had gone off without flaw and with no casualties for his men.  The objective of this operation was a small mining town on one the minor outer colony worlds.

Vance was a barely habitable and tidally locked moon of a Jovian class gas giant that in turn orbited a red dwarf star.  The initial settlement had served as a way station for the exploration and colonization of better worlds further out from Earth.  But a more detailed survey of the world had found recoverable minerals in the platinum group and a rare earth element used in the manufacture of hyperdrives.

The world was named for Sir John Vance, an Australian astronaut employed by the Martian Relocation Project.  Although the MRP had set up their own outpost on this world they also opened it to settlement dissident groups from Earth.  What made the operation possible was the fact that not all of the settlements had joined the newly independent central government.  But for Colonel Kearney this action was also a step forward in the recovery from two disasters.  The minor and most recent was the defeat of the unit that left him with a bit less than three hundred effective soldiers out of was once a first class mercenary regiment.  The more distant and most devastating to him was the loss of the home world and his family to what was in practical effect a band of invading savages.

The first part of operation was a night march through the forest bordering Federal Republic of Vance and the dissident colony of Vermillion.  The march to the objective was illuminated by the reflected light of the gas giant planet that was permanently fixed on the southern horizon.  The objective of the operation was the town of Runoff and the mining sites surrounding it.  Which was a cluster of homes, small businesses, and offices. Very few of the people were awake at the time and once the mercenaries were in position their unit simply walked in and seized the town. 

With the streets, the government buildings. and the local militia armory of the town secured Kearney ordered the transmission to the client of the code for the successful mission.  But as Kearney waited for arrival of the sponsors there was unfinished business to be dealt with.

Kearney sat at the official desk as the Mayor of Runoff was dragged in.  The Mayor was barefoot, unshaven, and hastily dressed.  He looked around the room and shook his head before speaking to his captor.

“So you think you’re special?”

“We’re professional soldiers.”

“You’re only criminals.”  The Mayor replied.  “Did you kill anyone yet?”

“No.”  Kearney replied.

There was no resistance from the police or any of the civilians that were awake.

So much for the sea of armed civilians.  Kearney thought.

The Mayor looked directly at Kearney and spoke.

“Then if you leave right now and cross the border back into Vermillion you and your unit may yet get away.”

Kearney mentally dismissed the statement and placed a document on the desk before the Mayor.

“Sign it.”  Said Kearney.

The Mayor briefly scanned it and then replied.

“No.”  Said the Mayor.  “You are nothing, you have no authority and thus no power over any of us.”

Kearney stared at the Mayor for a moment.

How can he say that?  He thought.

“I can have you shot.”  Kearney replied.

The Mayor looked Kearney straight in the eyes and then calmly replied.

“In that case you will actually become something, but it would only be a diseased animal that should be put down quickly and with mercy.”

Kearney could not believe what he had just heard.

Is he insane?

The Mayor spoke again.

“Now you should lay down your arms, go home, grow up, and get a life.”

For Kearney and his men this wasn’t possible--there was no place they could call a home.  With
the refusal to sign the surrender document Kearney sent the Mayor downstairs to the town jail with the police officers that were on duty and other elected officials.

The local sun was beginning to rise as the gee-vee arrived with two well dressed civilians.  The first man represented the sponsor of the operation, the Superior Mining Company, and the other was an official of the official central government.  Superior Mining originated on the Iron Range of Minnesota in the late 19th Century and the firm had barely survived into the Interstellar Era.  But under new management the firm would expand again by exploiting the resources found on the colony worlds and shipping them to Earth.  Or it did until the extinction event that killed most of the population and the advanced civilization of Earth.

Friday, August 14, 2015