atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4390: SF meandering

The flashback sequence has not progressed a single word, but I've got about 1.5 pages' worth of notes on how it will progress once I've got the gumption to write it down. Mostly this is the visible result of a lot of subconscious creative work, stuff that had to be decided before I could advance any further.

The main issue is, how do you reconcile the following:
1) A highly technological society
2) Very advanced medical technology
3) A Star Trek energy economy
4) Long lifespans
5) Near-instantaneous interstellar transportation
6) The ability to terraform, move, and even build planets
7) Overcrowding
8) Impending social breakdown
There are a whole bunch of Promethean elements that would prevent or mitigate the effects of the Epimethean ones, and that must be explained. (Larry Niven once said that in a world where use of fusion power had reduced the Earth's sea level by an inch, there could not be people starving to death in the cold.)

The answer, however, hit me that the Epimethean elements are themselves the explanation: the instantaneous interstellar travel is not magic; it requires that a "tramway" be constructed, and if you can't get to the far end of where you want to built it faster than the speed of light, it's going to take a damned long time. These people have the technology for hyperspace travel but have stopped using it since the tramway system went up, and while they still have the knowledge they've lost the infrastructure required to build hyperdrive ships.

This is similar, in the real world, to how we used to have spaceships that could take us to the moon--ie the Saturn V--and no longer do. We have the engineering know-how to build such rockets, but no longer have the infrastructure. In order to go back to the Moon we first would have to re-develop the infrastructure required to build the machines, which incidentally includes having people learn how to do the technical tasks that would have to be performed.

Example: we don't have the source code for Apollo computers, most of them. While we couldn't and wouldn't run such programs on modern hardware, the ability to compare that code to code used on modern hardware would be very useful and would obviate a couple of steps in their development process.

The same is true of this story. It's been on the order of 700-800 years (more or less our years) since the last hyperdrive vessel left the shipyards. The society stopped expanding, stopped colonizing new worlds because there was no way to get to them, and most people didn't want to bother because they had everything they needed anyway. Advanced medicine has treated or medicated the misfits, precisely because the safety valve of a frontier is not present, and the result is a decadent society which is one serious technological failure away from total collapse.

Fortunately for them, their infrastructure is very, very robust...until the day that it suddenly isn't. (And it's made plain in the story that the tramway infrastructure isn't being maintained, which is also meant to imply that other infrastructure may not be receiving the best of maintenance.)

Here's where it all comes together, then: the main character is the utter bitch I've whined about in previous posts, and because of nothing other than blind luck and ordinary human cussedness, she is able to keep humanity from extinction...barely. And she ends up being a hero.

There are a lot of other things going on, and it all fits together rather neatly. The hard part is going to be getting it out of my head and onto paper in a form that resembles the idea.

It's hard to motivate myself with the most recent rejection still weighing heavily upon me, but I soldier on.

* * *

Douglas Adams just got the planet wrong: Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of EARTH now exists. Maybe this will garner us more room in the book besides "mostly harmless".

I say "whore" advisedly. If this woman were only doing this for herself, I doubt she'd feel the need to hire a camera crew to shoot a documentary about her life as a woman with an extra (and fake) mammary gland. But while "whore" may be too strong a term, Douglas Adams didn't write about "Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted CARNIVAL FREAK of Eroticon VI", so I'm trying to work with the material I'm given.

* * *

At work, the other day, I saw a widget which contains a Bluetooth receiver. One version has a 30-pin Apple connector, so it will plug into anything that will dock a device with a 30-pin Apple connector. (The other has a simple 1/8" stereo phono plug that will plug into a standard 1/8" AUX IN jack.)

This lets you connect any device that can play audio via Bluetooth to...well, what have you got?

So if you have a sound bar, for example, with an iPod dock, you can get the 30-pin version and plug it in, and presto! You can play music to your sound bar from your phone or tablet or Bluetooth-enabled what-have-you. If your car stereo has an AUX IN jack, you can plug the 1/8" version in, and off you go.

This is a very good idea.

...of course at present I have absolutely no need for this thing, for a variety of reasons. But I can see how it can solve a variety of problems that people can have with getting audio from their device to an amplifier, and that's what makes it cool.

And it was science fiction a decade ago.

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