Project Lilliput – Chapter 2

Chapter 2  Springfield Central

Eric’s class was on a week-long field trip from Provo Central in Utah to Cape Canaveral in Florida to observe the launch of Lunar Base V.  On the way they had a one day stopover in Springfield Central, the hub of the nine cities of Springfield.  Springfield parish, which comprised all nine cities of Springfield was just south of old Springfield, the former capital of the state of Illinois.  The train slowed as it passed the outskirts of the old city.  The skyline was intact and looked like self-contained mountains in the distance.

“How big do you think those buildings are?” Kviiiy asked as they drew closer to the edge of old Springfield.

“It’s hard to imagine,” Eric exhaled slowly.  “Mr. Simms, our history teacher said that a floor of one of those buildings was often 25,000 square feet or even larger.”

“Wow, just one floor is as big as Provo Central?” Kviiiy squinted as she stared at the skyline of the old city.

“Provo 2 or 3 yes, but Provo Central is a little more than twice that size,” Eric likewise stared at the skyline.  “And that has a population of just under 100,000 people.  Three of their city blocks would take up the same space as Provo Central, the eight other cities of the parish, and all the farmland to support us.”

“That’s amazing,” Kviiiy exhaled slowly and looked away.  “And we get to see the old city tomorrow?”

“That’s the plan,” Eric nodded.

“I hope we’re not walking,” Kviiiy frowned.

Eric leaned back thoughtfully, “I wonder if Dr. Lambert will be able to walk again.  He looked pretty chewed up.”

“Well, it would serve him right,” Kviiiy scowled.

“I don’t know,” Eric grew serious, “Without him we all might be dead by now.”

Thirty-six years earlier, Dr. Joseph Lambert, fresh out of MIT graduate school, ran across classified computer records about animal miniaturization.  He wrote a grant, and began expanding on the research and within five years had successfully tested the process on more than a dozen varieties of animals.  The evidence was pointing to the ability to shrink the subjects with no ill side effects, after the initial 72 hours of implementing the protocol.  Twenty years later, on August 23rd, worldwide gassing, approved by the United Nations, and most of the free nations of the world, resulted in the global miniaturization of all animal life on the planet; correction… miniaturization of almost all animal life on the planet.  The process worked perfectly on all mammals.  However, the longitudinal impact on some species and sub-species had either been temporary, or had not worked at all.   The Aves class of animals, or birds experienced temporary impact on various species that did not remain in subsequent generations.  The result was also temporary on some varieties of amphibians and reptiles.  And for some reason, the technique failed completed with one insect group:  cockroaches.

Cockroaches were a giant menace to the new world order, but the return of the birds of prey, such as eagles, kites, falcons, owls, and hawks, had been devastating to families, and even some underprepared cities.  Children born after the Transition referred to the birds as Cloud Dragons.  Reptiles were another matter, as several cities had been decimated by isolated cases of snake attack.

As a result, Dr. Lambert was considered a hero by those who studied the histories, and remembered the famines, wars, and terrorism that preceded and caused the approval of the dramatic action taken.  Meanwhile, families who had lost relatives to animal attacks considered Lambert a monster.

The lights of the train flashed, and Eric sat up securing his backpack.  “I wonder if Springfield Central will be much different than Provo Central.”

Springfield Central was a hub for the rapid transit system going to the eastern states.  From the platform where they exited Eric and his classmates could see several lines or tubes that were concentrated in this location.  “Well, that’s one difference, Eric turned to Kviiiy, who was towing three suitcases, we only have two transit tubes in Provo.

“Provo Five gather round,” a deep voice rumbled.

Everyone in their group groaned.  Mr. Dewquist of the science department was their sponsor and lead chaperone.  He was a short, round, balding man in his 40s.  He had conveniently disappeared to the front car of the train with Miss Jackson, a new teacher who reminded Eric of an adult version of Chanel.  Eric had nearly forgotten that the teachers were even on the trip with them.

“We’re staying at the Spoon River Suites,” Mr. Dewquist announced with a voice of authority.  Dinner is at six o’clock sharp at the hotel, so don’t be late.  The hotel is the first stop off the red line, so don’t get distracted and miss the step off.  I’ll lead, and Miss Jackson,” he paused to smile in her direction, “will bring up the rear.  Any questions?”

Like Provo Central, the city was served by high speed walkways.  The system was set up on a three parallel track system.  The outer track was slow moving and fairly easy to get on and off.  The middle track moved at a higher pace, about jogging speed, and the inner track moved at a sprinting pace.  Moving on and off, or between tracks was fairly easy as long as you paid attention.  Like Provo Central, the transit map indicated eight lines, all merging on the intercity hub, and three belt lines that circled the city in six city block increments.

Spoon River Suites looked much like the Timpanogos Suites in Provo.  It was a two story white building just off the exit.  It bore the same white plastic exterior as all the buildings in Provo.  This was not an accident.  Worldwide construction prior to the Transition had built infrastructure for 10 billion people in the form of over a quarter million cities.  Cities were grouped in constructs for 25,000 people enumerated one through eight, with a city construct for 100,000 people designated as central.  A group of cities for 300,000 people was termed parishes in the United States.  The entire area for a parish was between one and two square mile depending on the required agricultural area needed to support the population.  The project of creating 35,000 parishes around the globe resulted in a cookie cutter approach to designing the cities and parishes.

“Want to go for a swim after dinner?” Kviiiy asked Eric as they approached the front lobby of the hotel.

“I’m beat,” Eric replied honestly.  “Why did you bring so much stuff anyway?” he pointed with his eyes at Kviiiy’s three suitcases.

“Bait,” she smiled.  “Come on, I need your help.  I overheard that Tony and his trolls are going to the pool after supper,” she pouted convincingly.

“Why do I feel like a tool in your evil plot,” Eric sighed.  “Okay, I’ll tag along if you don’t try to dunk me.  I’m good for a lounge chair at best.”

Eric skipped the hamburgers that most of his classmates were locked into, and tried the local favorite, a pork tenderloin sandwich.  He liked the combination of meat and grease.  He was also happy that he decided to join the group at the pool.  Springfield was experiencing a heat wave.  The temperature was only 89 degrees, which was a lot cooler than Provo this time of year.  But the humidity was so thick that he could barely breathe.  Despite the heat he left on a black tee-shirt with his swim trunks.   He decided that dunking Kviiiy in the pool was better than a lounge chair.

The next morning the class met in the lobby for the tour of Old Springfield.  For the trip Mr. Dewquist had chartered a two-deck copter.  It was a tourist model with seats paired up with the windows of the circular cabin that had room for forty passengers on the lower deck.  The upper deck had a snack bar and a closed off navigation room.

Eric had taken copter lessons before the incident, but had not been in a copter since and had some trepidation about going on the sightseeing day trip.  His fear wasn’t of flying, but of the cloud dragons or birds.  Illinois was along the migratory route of the massive ducks and geese.  In turn it was home to thousands of predatory birds.

As the copter lifted off, Eric saw the central park, which was covered in shaded glass to protect individuals from aerial attacks.  The copter soon rose above the four towers representing north, south, east and west at the edge of the circular city construct.  As they rose higher the ivory white color of the circular city stood out brightly against the lush green vegetation that surrounded the city looking like some medieval castle.

Cultivated fields of corn and soybeans grew in rows that were tended by robotic farm units that rose like giants moving slowly across the fields.  On the horizon, perhaps a quarter mile away, Ryder could spot two, then three of the seven satellite cities that made up Springfield parish.  Beyond the fields rose a tangled forest of oak trees and underbrush that were kept at bay by more robotic field units.

“Sure is green,” Kviiiy commented from the next seat over.

“Yeah, it’s a lot prettier than the brown and red dirt with the greenish blue sagebrush of home,” Eric sighed.  But it sure is sticky out here.  I guess it’s all the humidity that keeps it so green.  I’m not sure if I’d trade the dry air just to get this much green, but its’ a close call.”

In the distance, they could see the ribbon of one of the many small rivers that were common in the region.  Beyond the river rose the decaying towers of Old Springfield.  “I understand that Old Chicago is even bigger than this,” Kviiiy replied in awe as they approached the outer neighborhoods of the city.  Roofs of homes were collapsing, ancient vehicles were rusting, roads and sidewalks were breaking up with the cracks filled with weeds.  One entire neighborhood looked like it had been hit by some sort of bomb with buildings collapsed and dead trees scattered about like toppled toys.

The recorded narration and laser pointers helped identify the old rail lines and a derelict diesel powered train engine and cars.  The copter flew in close to the massive engine, and disturbed a murder of crows.  A couple of the crows came within a few feet of the copter as it hovered and Eric almost jumped out of his seat.  The crows moved on and settled further down the rail line.

The copter continued its pattern pointing out office buildings, restaurants, and a car dealership with over a hundred cars sitting in a giant parking lot.  It moved on to the first of two stops, the Wyndham.  The Wyndham was the tallest building still standing in Springfield rising 352 feet in the air.  The recording pointed out that by way of comparison to the pre-transition people, the Wyndham would have had to shoot two miles into the air to give a comparable affect.  This drew ooohs and aaahs from the students.

The copter flew through the lobby and in and out of the building through large broken windows.  Finally, it settled on the roof of the aging structure.  “Fifteen minutes,” the canned narration paused.  “Follow the yellow line for restrooms and snacks.  The view area is just beyond the snack shack.”

The walkway was covered with bird-resistant netting.  The snacks were expensive and bland.  Eric was hesitant, but eventually moved to the view area.  “It’s pretty much the same view as inside the copter,” he complained to Kviiiy.

Tony joined them with a fast melting ice cream cone, “Still nice to be standing here.  I almost feel like I’m watching it on television when we’re in the copter.”

“Suits me,” Eric continued.  It’s hot and muggy out here.  I feel like it’s raining inside my clothes.”

“Hey look over there,” Kviiiy pointed.

Tony joined her, “What are you looking at?”

“The sky,” Kviiiy smiled.  “Have you ever seen a green sky before?”

Eric, Coul, and Chanel joined them, “I don’t see anything,” Chanel frowned.

“It’s different,” Eric supported Kviiiy’s claim.  “It is sort of blue, but sort of green too.”

“Yeah, I see it,” Coul agreed, but was looking west rather than south.

“That way,” Eric whispered.

“Oh yeah,” Coul looked perplexed but continued his affirmation.

A loud bell sounded scattering some birds resting on a corner of the building and spooking Eric.  “I guess we better get back if we don’t want to get left behind,” he turned and started walking back down the yellow marked path.

The final stop on the tour, and the one many of the students had been excited about, was the zip line tour inside the former State Capitol building.  The building infrastructure was still intact despite sixteen years of abandonment.  The zipline tour started on the third floor and descended at a gentle slope that provided an up close view of the stained glass centerpiece of the capitol building.  The plaster friezes were showing some cracks, but otherwise stood intact.  Periodically the cable carried the passengers through open areas, which made Eric nervous, but he did not see any birds inside the rotunda.  His eyes caught glimpses of movement along the floor far below, most likely cockroaches that now infested all the abandoned cities.

They were still several minutes from the end of the tour when the recall bell sounded from the copter.  Trying to push forward more rapidly, Coul somehow managed to jam his pulley, blocking the progress of the rest of the class.  Dangling, Coul kept taking swipes toward the cable, but could not get a firm grip on anything, making matters worse.  Eric was stuck behind three other classmates who were starting to panic.

Tony had moved on ahead oblivious to the problem until he heard some of his classmates yelling.  Turning he saw the dilemma and worked his way back up the cable to where Coul was dangling.  “Calm down,” he commanded, and Coul finally relaxed enough that Tony, with longer arms, was able to reach the jam and tease it loose.  The process had taken nearly half an hour, and the constant ringing of the recall bell was getting on everyone’s nerves as they worked their way to the final platform.

“What’s going on?” Eric was probably the fifth or sixth student to ask Mr. Dewquist, as he was motioned quickly to his seat.

“Tornado alert,” Miss Jackson tried to smile, but it just further exposed her worry lines.

Eric had barely taken his seat when the copter lifted off the shelf where it picked up the last of the class members.  It raced across the breadth of the rotunda to where a narrow panel opened electronically to allow their escape from the building.  As soon as the vehicle hit the exterior it started bouncing around with air turbulence.    Strong gusts of wind lifted the vehicle skyward, and then sheer winds drove it back down, all as the copter jerked left and right.  A seat belt light came on, but it was a bit late, as class members were either hanging onto their seats, or had been thrown across the chamber.

Eric had conscientiously fastened his seatbelt when re-boarding the copter, and was mesmerized with the effects of the wind.  Leaves and debris were flying near their craft as it continued to wobble to maintain control.  The sky had darkened.  Off to the left and still in the far distance he could see clouds beginning to swirl into the tale tell signs of a tornado funnel.

The chime of the speakers rang and a voice came over the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are unable to return to Springfield Central in this storm.  We’re going to have to return to the Capitol building and wait this out.”

Eric watched as the copter turned and tried to return to the Capitol building, but as he watched the copter fighting the wind, the craft continued to lose ground against the driving air currents.

The chimes echoed, and the pilot’s voice came back on the intercom.  “We’re not going to make it back to the Capitol.  Make sure all you and all of your companions are belted in tightly.  Please prepare for a crash landing.  We’ll try to make it back to the Wyndham.”

Eric turned his attention back to the battle between nature and the pilot.  Rain began to pelt the copter hard, sounding like bullets crashing against the windows.  What seemed like an eternity, but could not have been more than five minutes later, the copter whipped through a broken window of the Wyndham, and then settled into a hover, while the pilot looked for a landing site.  In the semi-darkness, the craft moved out of the path of the wind blowing through the broken window and settled to the floor.

Again the chime rang, “This is your captain.  Please keep your seat belts fastened.  We’ll have to wait out the storm here.

Miss Jackson yelled out, “We need a doctor.”

Eric released his seatbelt, and ran up the stairs to the second deck and pounded on the pilots’ cabin.  “We need medical assistance.  Do you have anyone with medical skills aboard?”

The door to the pilot’s cabin opened, but no one was there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Lilliput – A new Sci Fy Novel

Image result for Lilliput Island

Aloha – I finished a new YA novel manuscript and am now working on clean up.  I like to write free style, then go back and polish the manuscript, then have a third party proofread.  So I’m up to stage two.  Your feedback is welcome :o)  Chapter 1 follows:

 Chapter 1  Cloud Dragons

Eric Brice was a firstling.  He was not unique.   All 27 members of his class were firstlings.   They were the first born after the Transition, and provided evidence that the planet-wide initiative had worked.

Eric often wondered what his mother had thought.  Had she been afraid?  Did she think she would die?  He realized that his mother must have been the bravest person in the world.  Correction, all the mothers of his generation must have been the bravest people in the world.  Trying to imagine the fear they must have endured for nine months terrorized him even now at sixteen years of age.

“Beautiful, isn’t it,” a voice startled him.

“Huh?” Eric turned to see the smiling face of his friend Kviiiy as she slide in facing him on the padded bench seating.

“I just noticed that you were looking out the window, and assumed you were taking in the rolling hills of Iowa,” Kviiiy responded smiling.  “Or were you just meditating again?”

Kviiiy was the same age as Eric and had been his best friend since they were both six years old.  She was a bit shorter than Eric and had recently filled out with a solid, curvy build.  She had red curly hair that she was always fighting, and a face full of freckles.  When they were eight, she asked Eric to count the freckles on her face, but he lost count at a hundred.

Turning back to the window, Eric replied reflectively, “Yes it is pretty; a lot nicer than the brown weeds of home.”

The bullet train they were riding sank back to the surface after zipping across a bridge spanning the North Skunk River.

“Haven’t we crossed this river already?” Kviiiy asked, leaning across Eric to get a closer look.

“You smell good today,” Eric grinned.  “Making another play for Tony?”

“He’ll come around,” Kviiiy smiled knowingly.

“To your question,” Eric turned back to the window.  “We’ve crossed the North Skunk River four times and will cross it twice more according to the maps.  It writhes back and forth like a snake.  The train line is moving southwest, so we intersect it six times before we cross into Illinois.”

Kviiiy plunked down beside Eric.  She was dressed in a denim shirt and jeans, and wore a white head band holding back her rebellious red hair.  “How fast are we going now?”

“You know that as well as I do,” Eric scowled, “200 miles per hour with the mag-lev system.  You know all this; don’t play dumb with me.  What gives?”

“I’m bored,” Kviiiy replied.

“So Tony blew you off?” Eric grinned.

“No… yes… sort of,” Kviiiy sulked.  “Chanel is all over him.”

“Okay, how about a game of cards?” Eric exhaled slowly.  He reached under his seat to pull a deck of cards from his backpack when the lights inside the car flashed to warn that the train was slowing down.  Even so, he toppled over onto Kviiiy as the train quickly decelerated.  As he recovered he noticed her blue eyes staring into his.  “Sorry,” he blushed as he stood back up.

Eric was stocky but tall compared to his peers.  His ink black hair contrasted his pale face, which exacerbated the redness in his face when he blushed.  He preferred slacks to jeans and wore a blue, button down collared shirt, which was his signature look.  “I wonder why we’re stopping.  We’re still in Iowa.  We shouldn’t get to Springfield Central for another forty-five minutes.

As the train came to a rest, the lights flashed again, and a neutral computer voice came over the PA ordering everyone to stay in their seats.

Eric and Kviiiy joined their classmates, ignoring the announcement, and stood and staring out the window trying to figure out what was going on.  It was a lightly wooded area with green rolling hills.  The area immediately surrounding the train was covered with some sort of thorny wild berry plant.  The berries and formed, but they were still green.

“I’m going outside to see what the problem is,” a voice that Eric recognized as belonging to Anthony Dennett rose above the din.  Tony was the class president.  He was also captain of the junior class basketball team.

“I’m going with you,” came another voice.

Female.  Chanel Savage obviously, Eric thought.

Kviiiy moved to stand, but Eric dragged her back into her seat.  “This is not the time nor place to be wandering outside,” he whispered.

“But…” Kviiiy began.

“No buts,” Eric cut her off.  “We wait and see.”

Several minutes passed before the chatter of classmates started again as Tony returned.  Standing at the doorway he announced, “Looks like a broken tree limb blocking the track.  They’re unloading the lasers to cut it away.”

“Come on out,” Chanel called.  It’s a beautiful day out here; just a bit muggy.”

The call to enjoy a sunny day in Iowa was too much for Eric’s classmates, as they rose from their seats and started to disembark.  “Don’t you want to go outside?”  Kviiiy asked as she got out of her seat.

“I’m thinking about it,” Eric stalled.  “It would be interesting to watch the lasers at work.”  He had a sudden urge to scratch at the scars on his back.  “I think I’ll stay here,” he replied indecisively.

“Come on,” Kviiiy encouraged.  “I’ll protect you.”

“Even Tony can’t protect us,” Eric growled.  Nonetheless, he rose to follow Kviiiy.

Just as they reached the doorway to the train he heard screams and backed away from the door; a too familiar screech followed.

As students shoved to get back to the safety of the train Eric heard someone outside yell, “Cloud Dragons.”

“Great!” Eric exhaled.  The engineers weren’t dumb enough to remove all the defensive lasers were they?  He wondered.

One screech was followed by another and another.  Eric finally got up the nerve to approach a window.  Three, four… no five.  I don’t recognize this variety.

Kviiiy joined him, “Looks like kites,” she stood mouth agape.

“Did everyone make it back inside?” Eric asked as he spotted a stream of light from the front of the train hit one of the kites that released something or someone.

A second laser beam from the top of the center car drew Eric’s attention away from the fallen bundle.  The green light seared the right wing of the cloud dragon causing it to squeal as it took flight.  Two more beams were creating a light show from the front of the train now.  The predators were dancing and screeching trying to avoid the burning light.

Eric saw movement out of the corner of his eye to the left.  The bundle that had fallen earlier was crawling slowly, toward the train.  “No,” Eric cried out.  “Stay still you fool.”  He realized as he spoke that it was a waste as his voice did not even carry to the next set of seats.

Eric jumped out of his seat and raced to the egress.  Without pausing he jumped to the ground and bounded to the fallen man, jumping on top of him.  “Lie still you idiot,” he whispered angrily.  As if illustrating what he meant, he lay perfectly still on top of the man who responded in kind.

One of the creatures stood less than a wingspan away from Eric staring at him with a hungry look in its red eyes.  Eric closed his eyes expecting to feel the sharp talons digging into his flesh.  His muscles flexed involuntarily expecting the pain that did not come.

Two laser beams angled into the kite from different directions.  The screech was deafening, but Eric did not move.

The creature took flight, being the last of the five predators to leave the scene.

Eric lay still on top of the man for what seemed forever, but could not have been more than a minute when he heard running footsteps.  “Come on, get up.  Let’s get back inside,” he heard the familiar voice of his friend Kviiiy.

Eric rose, then tried to help the man up he had been lying on top of.  The man struggled, but could not rise.

“Afraid my right leg is broken,” the man apologized.

“Dr. Lambert?  Joseph Lambert?” Eric’s jaw dropped.

“One and the same lad,” the man waved Tony and others back.  “Right now I could use some help, but it is going to have to be a medic, he laughed hoarsely.

“But what are you doing here?” Eric looked dumbfounded.

“On my way to Springfield,” the man started to shiver.

“I’ll get a blanket,” Kviiiy yelled and ran back toward the train.  “I think he’s going into shock,” she called over her shoulder.

A man wearing a red polo shirt, designating him as security, approached from the front of the train.  “Why did you get out of the train?  Get back aboard immediately!” he began shouting at the group of students and handful of adults that had emerged around Dr. Lambert.  “Looks like we’re going to need a medical team,” he spoke formally into the communicator attached to his shirt.

Kviiiy reappeared with several blankets, tripping into Tony Dennett.  “Sorry,” she spoke half an octave higher than her normal voice Eric noticed.

“The blankets Kviiiy,” Eric called, unusually irritated.

The security officer took over, with his focus darting back and forth between Dr. Lambert and the sky.  “You kids!  Get back on the train.”

Back at his seat, Eric watched as a Med Tech rushed up the aisle from a rear car and hesitated at the egress from the train.  With a deep breath, he moved away from the protection of the train and quick stepped over to where Dr. Lambert and the security officer waited.  A two-person team soon arrived from the front of the train with a mounted laser unit.  They scanned the sky continually, while the medic worked on Dr. Lambert.

“Nice job out there,” a warm voice distracted Eric from the scene; turning he saw Tony Dennett and his entourage standing behind him.

“It was nothing,” Eric blushed.  Still he accepted Tony’s outstretch hand.

“It was something,” Tony grinned a toothy smile.  “I didn’t even think to do what you did.  I’m not sure if I would have had the nerve if I had thought of it.”

“Yeah, we were impressed,” Coul  GoCool, agreed as he stood next to Chanel with both of their heads nodding.

Eric did not care for Coul GoCool.  In some ways he felt sorry for the guy as he had such a stupid name.  But Eric could feel his skin crawl whenever he was around him.  He decided that Coul was a Clinger.  He hung around the most popular guy in the class, whoever it happened to be.  Eric thought Coul was his best friend in second grade, but by third grade Coul was to be found with the boy who rescued the cat out of a tree.  Now it was the class president or basketball star; Eric wasn’t sure which of Tony’s roles had captured the attention of Coul.

Eric laughed to himself as he took in the trio.  Coul was as pale as Tony was black.  Coul was the shortest kid in the class, Tony was the tallest.  Tony was cool while Coul was not.

Coul always wore a hat.  This year, his choice of haberdashery was a grey beret.  The beret covered short sandy hair that looked like Coul had cut it himself.  His teeth were yellowish, and he sometimes smelled like he needed a shower.

Chanel was as short as Coul, but there the similarities ended.  She had shoulder length brunette hair, and dark brown eyes accentuated by her eyebrows and lashes that drew observers in.  She was petite and athletic.  She was attentive to whomever she was focused on that week, and laughed easily.  Half the boys in Eric’s class had a crush on her.  Today she was drawing attention to herself with a bright floral print sundress.

Eric didn’t care much for Chanel.  She acted like an airhead, but he knew she was near the top of the class academically.  She had captured the hearts of four boys in their class, dating since she was thirteen.  But Eric noticed that she tended to break up with the boys as soon as she knew they were totally focused on her and not someone else in the class.  He was beginning to think relationships were just a game for her, like basketball was for Tony.

“Hey, they have a patrol copter coming in,” Kviiiy called out drawing Eric’s attention back out the window.  The copter was huge with four sets of rotors surrounding a substantial round carriage.  They could have placed half the train in the space that the main deck of the copter occupied.  It was designed after the drones of the early twenty-first century.   The oversized construction had been necessary to ward off the cloud dragons that had mangled hundreds of standard size helicopters the first several years after the Transition.

Dr. Lambert waved in their direction as he was carefully lifted onto a gurney, and carried to the copter.

“Where do you think they’re taking him?” Tony asked no one in particular.

“Probably the hospital in Springfield Four,” Kviiiy volunteered.                 “But we’ll get to Springfield as fast, or faster, than the copter,” Chanel looked up to Tony looking for confirmation.

“But they’d still have to get him from the station to the hospital,” Tony replied seriously.

Chanel actually fluttered her eyelashes, “I hadn’t thought of that.  You’re so smart.”

On the side, Kviiiy provided a gag reflex with her fingers that made Eric laugh abruptly.  He transitioned the laugh to a cough.  “Well we better take our seats.  I think they’re packing up to get moving again.”

Kviiiy kept her seat by Eric and started talking as soon as Tony and his companions returned to their seats, “She makes me sick.”

“Chanel?” Eric asked, although he knew the answer.

“Yes, little miss prissy pants,” Kviiiy spat out.

“She’s wearing a dress today if you hadn’t noticed,” Eric smiled.

Kviiiy slapped his arm, “You know what I mean.  All lovely dovey, and pretentious.”

“Seems you’ve been taking lessons,” Eric teased.

“What?” Kviiiy yelped, drawing attention from the students nearby.  Then in a lower voice, “What do you mean by that?” she snarled.

“I saw that fake trip into Tony you pulled,” Eric whispered back, leaning in without looking directly at Kviiiy.  “Oops, look at me… classic Chanel move, if not as polished.”

Kviiiy folded her arms tightly and sat silently as the bells chimed and the train began moving forward again.  She didn’t speak the rest of the way to Springfield Central.

 

 

 

Future of Interstellar Space – In movies at least

Aloha – Looks like Star Trek IV-B is in early discussions even before Star Trek III-B is out.  Of course we also have the new Star Trek series starting later this year.

If you need a good sci-fy fix I recommend Dark Matter.  It’s very reminiscent of Firefly, although it is much darker.

We still have Star Wars to look forward to, but I’m really hoping they’ll take the story in a new direction rather than just reboot the original.

Where are some of the Robert Heinlein conversions?  Starship Trooper was done poorly even though it got three iterations.  The Puppet Masters, as original as the novel was when it was written it seemed like a rehash of other stories by the time it was finally produced.  But where are the screenplays for Citizen of the Galaxy or Podkayne of MarsFarmer in the Sky, with recent scientific findings would be a natural.  Granted, Tunnel in the Sky was a sci fy version of a more famous novel, but still worthy of consideration.

 

 

Venus to Titan

Aloha – Where to move?  I’ve often debated the merits of leaving the United States and its chaotic, and for the last eight years terminally ill political system.  But there aren’t many places less bad.  An article today caught my eye about leaving it all behind and moving off world.  The five top options appear to be:  Venus, the Moon, Mars, Titan, or Callisto.

Venus (artist rendition above) used to seem like a good option if you liked tropical forests and marshes, but research indicates that when it rains it rains sulfuric acid and Heinlein’s vision of the planet may be a bit off.  Exploration options seem to be focused on exploring and/or living above the clouds.  Seems like a high energy option, plus I like cooler climates.

The Moon.  Considering the Ding Dong’s running for political office my main concern is that it is to close to Earth.  It now appears that there may be ample water and minerals on the Moon to support human colonies.  I like the idea that lava tubes are big enough to create entire cities and parishes.  Still, it seems way too close to the Barracks, Donalds, and Hillarys whose popularity make me question the IQ of the entire race.  I think it is declining rapidly.

Mars?  Certainly far enough away for a generation or two.  The lower gravity sounds good to my joints and bones.  Kind of on the dark side if you’re afraid of werewolves or vampires.  Still can they be worse than our politicians?

Titan?  Even further away.  Got a great view of a beautiful planet.  Stable gravitational pull.  Looks like there is plenty of water.  Not a bad choice.

Callisto is even further, orbiting Jupiter.  I would have considered some of the other moons of Jupiter ahead of Callisto, but not a bad choice.  I think the view from Titan would be better though.

My vote?  Titan wins in a landslide election.

Doc

If you’d like to read the original article it is at

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/06/world-going-to-hell-here-are-the-solar-systems-five-most-livable-places/

 

 

 

Jupiter has friends in high places

Aloha – A delightful story about space exploration and politics came out yesterday.  I’m a big fan of exploring the moons of Jupiter.  Apparently so is a U.S. Congressman who locked up a portion of NASA funding to exploring the moons of Jupiter with two missions in the next ten years.

Heinlein brought us Farmer in the Sky, where with special heat equipment, Ganymede has become a habitable planet.  But right now the water baron, Europa is the moon that is getting the most love.

Ironically, the capital of the far off world of Demeter in the Orion’s Spur series is Europe.  Coincidence?  I think not.

In any case, the search for life and water outside of Earth’s boundaries should be exciting in the next decade with the theory of some limited amount of running water on Mars, and the moons of Jupiter thought to contain oceans worth of water.  We may at least discover an alien bug or two along the way.  That of course could be the source of a wonderful dystopian tale of the end of humans through a massive pandemic caused by the accidental release of a killer bacteria from the depths of Europa.  No I don’t plan to write that one.  I’m for a more optimistic future.

Doc

 

 

Mars Explosive Early Years

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Aloha – New evidence is emerging in the exploration of Mars of a much hotter climate than originally anticipated.  Curiosity Rover detected tridymite on the surface.  This suggests that Mars was a land of many volcanos with a scalding core.

This really doesn’t seem that surprising when we consider that Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the entire Solar System and calls Mars home.

So what have we learned in just the past year?  Mars did have flowing water (the H20 variety), it did have at least one surface ocean, sea or massive fresh water lake?  It now appears that there may still be some running water on Mars.  The core of Mars was much hotter than expected and may have been a planet of many volcanos.  I hate to criticize scientists as they continue to provide helpful hints of the origins of the universe, but at this point Edgar Rice Burroughs and his John Carter series appears to be much closer to reality than what scientists believed to be the facts about Mars less than a decade ago.

We need to continue to remember that the hypotheses that are being developed and have been developed are nothing more than that.  We may find that Gene Roddenberry’s vision of warp drives is closer to reality than Einstein’s theories about the limitations of the speed of light.

Doc

 

 

Venus – Cloudy and a chance of …

Aloha – NASA is not alone in bringing us stunning photos of distant planets.  The Japanese have a satellite orbiting Venus right now taking some amazing photos.  What is cloud cover like on Venus?  Take a look.

In Robert Heinlein’s Between Planets, and Later in Podkayne of Mars he suggested a heavily clouded humid planet with walking dragons who spoke through computers.  Maybe he wasn’t so far off.  Although breathable oxygen would be a distant future technological initiative, it still makes for an intriguing future world prospect.