Archive for the Classic Sci-Fi Category

Just a Suitcase

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Infinite City, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby’s shared apartment was on the ground floor, and he rarely had any interaction with people from the upper two floors of the halfway house. They came and went, each in their own wounded world. They said hi and bye, and sometimes smiled, but that was it.

One day a teenage boy was waiting with a large black suitcase. He stood with good posture, and looked ahead but also around. He bit his lips lightly and blinked often; a red scarf around his neck made him seem festive somehow.

“Are you okay there?” asked Bobby.

The boy seemed to be drawn out of a dream world. He blinked more rapidly and shook his head. He said, “Oh yes, thank you. I am waiting for someone to let me into the apartment upstairs.”

“Are you visiting somebody there?” People behaved strangely at the halfway house. Unless they were expecting visitors, they ignored the doorbell. They didn’t want to see people. They were ashamed of being stuck here, not knowing if they were going up or even further down.

“No, I have come to stay here. The agent said to buzz and someone would let me in, but no one is answering.”

“Look, why don’t you wait in our apartment. You can have a cup of tea while you wait.”

The boy said, “Thank you,” and lifted his suitcase. It was clearly very heavy; he hauled it up with both hands.

Bobby said, “What have you got in there? Corpses? Are you a teen serial killer on the run?” He reached over to help him, but the boy reacted with alarm.

He shouted, “No! I will carry it myself!”

Bobby backed off. “I am sorry. Okay, I will open the doors for you.”

The boy hesitated. His shoulders hunched from the effort of holding the suitcase up.

Bobby said, “Look, it was meant to be a joke. I was trying to put you at ease. Please come in. I was a stranger too when I came here. It’s nice when someone welcomes you.”

The boy’s shoulders eased. He said, “Thank you,” and walked forward with the suitcase. It’s got wheels, thought Bobby, why doesn’t he roll it? Strange boy. What’s he got in there – Venetian glass?

The boy looked around the apartment. Again, he bit his lips lightly and blinked often. Bobby made him some tea. “Just take it easy, I’m sure someone will be home soon. We’ll see them approaching the door, and I’ll grab them before they go up. What brings you here? We don’t often have such youthful guests?”

The boy looked down. He felt like crying but he had cried enough already. It was time to be strong now.

It was still had to believe that he was one of the thirty-six Righteous Ones appointed by God. Human life depended on their existence. It wasn’t usually a hereditary role, but his father had died young, and in his last days he had passed on the burden that he said was a blessing, to his son. The suitcase contained an armed nuclear bomb that was wirelessly connected to thirty-five similar devices around the world. The activation of one would trigger all the other devices, and human life would end.

Each righteous person was vital. Each could make or break the world.

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Marriage of Convenience

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2012 by javedbabar

The quiet man in the boy’s room kept himself apart. He was often dozing, and Bobby nicknamed him Zzz or Zed. When he wasn’t dozing he was connected to his computer, watching TV, or on his cell phone.

Bobby often said hello to Zed and received a similar response. Questions were a different matter though.

“Where are you from?” got a mumble back.

“What kind of work are you looking for?” There was an unintelligible answer.

“How’s the cell phone signal in your room?” Just a thumbs up.

Zed seemed to enjoy isolation, but curiously, came into the halfway house’s kitchen when he knew others were there. If a woman appeared, he left the room immediately. Maybe he wanted company but was really shy.

Everybody was in the same position here; they were unprofessional people seeking opportunities in Lucerne. There seemed to be great demand for professional people, but little demand for their less well trained brothers.

Zed left the house every day at six for his evening stroll. He went for hours and usually returned with groceries. Other than this he never left the house, and he received no visitors. It was almost like the world around him didn’t exist; he behaved as if in alien territory.

Other members of the household took turns at cooking. French, Italian, English, Swedish, and Greek food was regularly available. Zed couldn’t stomach it. “Too little taste,” was all he said. He stayed in his room during communal meals, and instead cooked alone at midnight.

Zed cooked the same food every night. He dissolved two vegetable stock cubes in a pint of water, added two potatoes and two chillies, which he boiled for an hour. This was his only dish.

Bobby was short of cash one week and so was everybody else. Denied bank accounts for having poor credit scores, the halfway house’s residents stored their earnings beneath their mattresses. The code of the poor dictated that they could borrow each other’s money when needed, as long as they returned it.

While Zed was out, Bobby took the opportunity to look under his mattress. There were piles of Indian rupees there. They looked quite strange. He examined them closely, and saw they featured complex holograms, and futuristic structures in places he’d never heard about. Other than the rupee notes, a toy telescope, and a few items of clothing, Zed seemed to own nothing.

Later that week, Bobby picked up three days of casual work, and with his earnings, bought a bottle of whisky. He was drinking it alone when Zed walked into the lounge, and sat down beside him. He asked for a measure. Bobby poured him a double. Whether or not Zed wanted to get drunk was hard to say. The fact is, he did, and it loosened his tongue.

“I am from the Orion system,” he said. “I was sent here to test the possibility of intergalactic marriage. But I hated everything in that place; the weather, people, pollution, rush, noise, cost.”

He must mean the new City, thought Bobby.

“So I came to Lucerne, but everything is still wrong here. I have come one hundred years too early. India is not a superpower yet. I learned Hindi but it is not spoken here; I can’t eat the bland food; the weather is too cold, and I cannot mate with unenhanced humans. What’s a guy to do?”

Underfunded Military

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2012 by javedbabar

The dark car appeared at 6 p.m. People should check the opening times, thought Sami. I don’t mind helping out in emergencies, but I’m getting tired of working late just so people can dump their recycling and trash. His customers at the 3D Unit booked their sessions; they knew that just turning up wasn’t a good plan. He needed to educate the regulate punters.

Sami shouted to the car, “Sorry, we’re closing. Please come back anytime tomorrow between ten and six.” He had a date tonight with Sophie, sort of. She had invited him to attend the new multimedia show at QARY, the old quarry, inspired by Tao Te Ching.

The car didn’t move. It remained there with headlamps on and engine running. Sami shouted out again. They must have loud music on, he thought, or maybe they were taking a call. All the windows were dark, even the windshield. He approached the driver’s door.

As he reached the car, the passenger’s door, and the rear door on the opposite side, flew open. Before he knew what was happening, he heard sharp clicks and two soldiers stood with rifles pointing at his chest. Sami shuddered.

“No sudden movements please,” said a cheerful voice from within the car. “We wouldn’t want to shoot you. That would upset the lovely Sophie. You are seeing her at eight tonight, is that right?”

Sami couldn’t speak.

The voice continued, “You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to. But I must warn you that anything you do say may be taken down and used as evidence against you in a court of law.”

Sami decided not to speak.

There was laughter, and a tall man with thick beard, green eyes and green turban exited the rear of the car. Even though he wore combat gear, he was clearly no ordinary soldier. “Stand down,” he instructed the other soldiers. They put on their safeties and lowered their rifles.

“I hope you didn’t mind too much,” said the senior soldier. “It is standard operating procedure. I am General Singh, responsible for Extraordinary Logistics. You were approaching the vehicle in a potentially hostile manner; my men took the right course of action. Now let’s go inside. This won’t take long. An hour maybe.”

Sami led him to the 3D Unit. The general took a seat and said, “Do you enjoy living in Arcadia? Very good. We all do. It is a wonderful land. But we must not take our blessings for granted. There is always the likelihood of threat, and occasionally some aggression is required. We have an unstable world and the cost of maintaining the military is rising. It is a function of the size of the economy, which as you know is shrinking, and there are other demands on funds, and government and public willingness to spend on military budgets is waning.”

He looked around conspiratorially and continued, “To run operations with our big allies, or to run smaller independent campaigns, we need certain levels of technology. I will cut to the chase. We need nuclear bombs but we can’t afford to build them. I have heard about the wonders of 3D printing. Can you fabricate some for us?”

Sami was alarmed by the request, but also relieved. This wasn’t a job for him at all; it was a job for Alfred. He said, “Have you tried AMP Co. in the village. It is a government funded facility doing vital work. It was recently declared a Strategic National Asset. I just run the public interface here.”

“Drat!” said General Singh. “You see the results of cuts in research funding? I can’t afford a full time assistant, so looked it up myself. Now, which way is AMP Co.? My GPS software needs updating.”

SFX Monsters

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2012 by javedbabar

Before managing the Transfer Station’s 3D Unit, Sami had acted as Guru Baba’s assistant. During this period he had also taken freelance jobs, such as local project manager for the global launch of the film HUMANITY, by auteur Manish. Nobody knew if Manish was his first name or last name; being so artsy he only required a single moniker.

The film could have been launched in London, New York, Paris or Mumbai, but the idea had come to Manish whilst climbing mountains in the Lucerne Valley, and he wanted to “return the idea home”.

The film received huge media attention, and being part of the launch crew got Sami noticed. He received requests to help out with films around the world, but many of the producers seemed hokey. They didn’t know anything at all about Sami, they just wanted him involved. After harassment on social media he had gone underground, but people still tracked him down.

His cell phone rang. “Hello, Sami? Oh good! I called you a few times yesterday but couldn’t get through. Where are you these days? Out in the bush?” It was Manish’s assistant, Sarah.

“Hello, Sarah, I’m at Lucerne Industrial Park. Cell reception is terrible here. Sorry about that. What can I do for you?”

“Manish is in Lucerne for three days. His visit was spur of the moment. He dreamt about the end of the world, but he said it could also be its beginning, and he wants to film his vision right now. He wants a mix of audio, video, photography and virtual reality. We can do the optical effects on set, and CGI after, but we need props for mechanical effects. Manish wants you to make monsters.”

“Make monsters? What kind?”

“He says it doesn’t matter,” Sarah attempted a Manish accent, a hybrid Hindi-American. “I can work with anything, okay?”

Sami attempted the accent too. “I am not saying that I am genius, but I have the genius gene.”

Sarah burst out laughing. “He said you decide – make them prehistoric or futuristic; he will use them either way.”

“Okay, when do you need them? I’ve got a busy day today. I could probably fit them in tonight.”

“Definitely?”

“Yes, definitely. I’ll have them done by twelve. Can you send me reference materials? Ideally in CAD, but I can work with photos and models too, and give them a Sami Style makeover.”

“Thanks, Sami, can I come over at… oh, hang on, it’s Manish on the other line. Why doesn’t he just come over? He is literally 10 metres away. Can I call you back?”

“Sure.” Sami put down the phone and then became nervous. This work takes careful planning and choreography. What had he been talked into – making monsters today for use tomorrow!

An hour later, he still hadn’t heard back from Sarah. He’d better start thinking. What was the nastiest monster he could think of?

He wrote down a list of scary things.

Huge. Uncontrollable. Unstoppable. Bloodthirsty. Destructive.

He could add the worst human qualities to give it personality.

Violent. Extreme. Paedophile. Murderer. Deranged.

We don’t want to overhype. Maybe tone them down a bit.

Trivial. Superficial. Anarchist. Lying. Cheating. Controlling.

He realized he didn’t have to invent anything. He just logged into his social media account for further inspiration. Everything he needed was there.

Diamonds Are Forever

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by javedbabar

Guru Baba appeared in the 3D Unit. It seemed the retired holy man had manifested miraculously. He had in truth walked through the doorway, with Sami too busy to notice, tinkering with feedback loops causing unexpected effects.

“I hate to ask,” said Guru Baba, “but can you please help me with some admin? You know it’s not my strong suit.”

Sami had felt bad about leaving Guru Baba’s side but he’d had no choice. The Authority had repurposed him, changing him from the holy man’s personal assistant to manager of the Transfer Station’s 3D Unit.

His new job was enjoyable – prototyping designs, fabricating components, and creating unusual gifts – but he was aware that Guru Baba’s organization was in trouble. Its charitable projects were struggling, and recent events had been poorly attended. This was all due to a lack of organization, leading to a lack of funds.

Sami had to face the fact that he’d left his previous employer in the lurch. Widows, orphans, disabled people and disaster victims were suffering because of him.

“Guru Baba, I will come to your office after work. I’m sorry I can’t come right now as I have many orders to complete today. Shall we say 6.30pm?”

The sage nodded and left.

Sami’s first job today was fabricating a range of jewellery. It was amazing how things like this could now be designed and made locally. No India or China required.

He set the printer to multi-materials, loaded metal, glass and pigment powders, processed the design, set it to high definition, and pushed GO.

While the jewellery was fabricating, Sami thought about Guru Baba’s situation. How could he help his organization. What was…

A flash of white caught his eye, and then a blue flash, a red flash, and yellow, green and brown. He was dazzled by light. Diamonds! That was the answer, diamonds!

Guru Baba had often used a diamond metaphor for spiritual growth.

Its cut was how you caught and revealed the light that was given unto you.

Its carats revealed your spiritual weight, which was substantial yet also weightless.

Its colour was every colour possible, fused together and shining alone.

Its clarity was the vision that guided your life, making all things manifest.

Sami could make diamonds to fund Guru Baba’s charitable projects! Sure, they provided good abstract metaphors, but they were even better as material goods, and there wasn’t any law against fabricating diamonds, as there was against printing cash.

He knew that a diamond’s atoms form a rigid lattice, allowing very few impurities to enter. The ones that do enter may degrade, but can also improve, the diamond, like grit in an oyster forming a pearl. One impurity per million atoms is all it takes. Boron creates a blue diamond, nitrogen a yellow or red one, lattice defects make brown diamonds, and radiation exposure, green. Their desirability differs by culture. Green diamonds had once been the most precious in Europe, but now it was blue and red.

What didn’t change were superlative physical properties. Diamonds are incredibly hard and have remarkable optical dispersion, creating dazzling lusters. Guru Baba said they were the mineral equivalent of great souls. Like those of diamonds, the tints and taints of people were easily confused.

Sami could fabricate diamonds easily at the 3D Unit. They were allotropes of carbon arranged in variations of cubic crystal structures. He could build these lattices at the push of a button. GO.

What about the powerful natural forces required to make these wonders: high temperatures, hundreds of kilometres of depth, billions of years of time, and volcanic eruptions? In the modern age are these things inconsequential?

He produced a test diamond, and showed it to the rag-pickers working the trash after school. “You joker!” said Jamz. “Trying to trick us! That’s not a real diamond. It’s too perfect. It seems artificial.”

“Isn’t it good to be perfect?”

“Maybe it is, but it is better to be real.”

Feedback Loop

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by javedbabar

The mayor seemed angry and not in a good way. There were times when his ire was productive, like when he stood up for local citizens, local issues and local foods. Lucerne’s citizens admired him then. That’s why they had elected him thrice, despite his style of politics being known as B&B: Bullying and Boring.

“Just coming,” said Sami, opening the door to the 3D Unit at the Transfer Station. He had seen the mayor’s truck pull in, and the way he had stalked towards the container and banged the door. He was angry about something.

“Those models you made for me, they’re not the same. They’re all different!”

How could they all be different? Sami wondered. He hadn’t checked every one as it came off the printer, but he had checked each batch. The mayor was accurately depicted, looking handsome and strong.

Sami said, “I’m not sure what you mean. I thought they turned out okay.”

“Look!” said the mayor, handing him a pair of small blue busts. Sami examined them carefully. The colour was consistent, so was their size and texture. The shape was the same.

Upon close examination, he realized it was true. They were different. Not in a dramatic way, but a series of small differences accumulated, creating a big difference. Thick hair became wiry, bright eyes became beady, a slim nose became thin, and the strong jawline became clunky. All in all he became a different person, not the one people were voting for.

“I am really sorry about that,” said Sami. “Can you please leave these with me today, and I‘ll look into the matter?”

“Well, you’d better hurry. Today is Monday and the election is next Monday. I need to get them all out by the weekend.”

When the mayor left, Sami tested the printer. It was fine mechanically but he noticed a quirk in information transfer. There seemed to be an extra factor, a hidden one, causing replication variations.   Sami had produced them in ten batches of a hundred. He needed to examine some more models, so called the mayor and asked him to bring one from each box. He checked and then rescanned each sample bust.

He detected qualitative and quantitative components. There was confirmation, correction, explanation, diagnostics, and elaboration of information involved. He detected gaps between actual and reference levels of system parameters, and dynamic data exchanges. He realized there was a feedback loop, a chain of cause and effect.

Sami analysed the mayor’s nose, which had gradually become thinner. This shouldn’t happen with digital reproduction, where every replication is exact. There was evidence of informational feedback, dependent on the context of the gap. Like the mayor’s nostrils, or his vote margins, there was widening or narrowing.

Sami examined the mayor’s jawline, which had become clunkier during the production run. He found traces of motivational feedback, dependent upon the context of action. The mayor used words as awards or weapons, and they were returned in kind. There was a tense dance of reward and punishment.

“So?” the mayor said that afternoon on the phone. “Are you making some other ones?”

“I don’t think they’ll turn out any different. The 3D Unit is a self-regulating system, and recognizes the local democracy process as its analogue counterpart. Your features are affected by your behaviour. It is modelling this over time.”

Fossilicious

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2012 by javedbabar

“Stop! Stop! Stop!” Sami shouted. The truck didn’t stop, and continued reversing towards the compost area. He ran towards it, waving his arms, and shouted up to the cab, “Where are you going?”

The driver stopped.

“You’ve got bulk building waste, it doesn’t go there. Can you please put it in the bin over there?” He pointed to a double-height yellow steel container.

Maybe it was an honest mistake, thought Sami, a new driver backing up to the wrong bin. Or was it deliberate, a trick to reduce costs?

Dumping compost was free, but building waste was $200 per truck load. Why didn’t he go to the commercial facility, which was cheaper and better suited to bulk waste? Coming to Lucerne’s Transfer Station was a soft option, especially with the regular guy off today and Sami managing the 3D Unit and waste facility. The driver thought he’d get away with it.

“It’s quite tight here. Shall I help you back up? No? You’re okay? Then go ahead.” Sami kept an eye on his manoeuvres. Truckers were always the best drivers on the road, but they were careless here. He didn’t want any more bins bashed.

As the trucker tipped his building waste, Sami saw it was mainly red, but with cream flashes. Had they demolished a clay brick structure, held together by mortar? Who built like that around here?

When the trucker handed over the cash Sami said, “Where is this waste coming from?”

“The Taxila area, up towards Mt Negra. They’re digging out an old water channel. It’s a long way to haul it here, but there are tough regulations for heritage areas.”

“Was there a structure? Why is the waste red?”

“I don’t know, pal. I just bring it here.”

The trucker drove off. Sami was curious about the waste, and walked to the bin. He saw one of the cream objects, and another one, and more. Though it broke regulations, he climbed into the bin and poked around. The cream flashes were bones, huge bones, bigger than cows and horses. More like elephants. But no, Guru Baba had an elephant’s foot stool as a reminder of man’s brutality to beasts, and Sami knew the scale of elephants. These bones were bigger.

Sami hauled them out, one by one, and lay them on the ground. The red material fell away. Some bones were bigger than he was. He treated them like pieces of a puzzle, but he couldn’t fit them together successfully. Then he had an idea.

He scanned the bones individually with the hand-held scanner, and then modelled the form on his computer. It was the strangest beast he had ever seen – like a triceratops, but with six legs, and horns all along its spine. He looked the creature up online but found no references.

He scaled it down 1:50 and printed out a model in red. It was the first Samisaurus seen in Lucerne for two million years. Sami took it for a “walk” in the yard on a trolley, and said to the creature, “Look, there’s Mt Alba, and over there, Mt Negra. Imagine them smoking, like they were when you were alive.”