Coming of age, 2484 - Series stories

Coming of age, 2484

Dervlah inhales. She clenches, clenches every thing. Retro terminal open on the dash, she loves the classic look.

Just a few twinkles out the front windscreen. Just enough to make it hard to see what she sees. ‘It’s just a pipe’. Dervlah exhales. Slowly. This is it. Her freedom. Well, as much as she can expect for now. Twenty years of studying done. Guilt feeling that she hasn’t got a… ‘proper job’. But that guilt feeling is kicked in the balls and fucked out the window. It’s been too much good girl. This is the payout. The promised land.

One thousand coins in her l-pocket, scrimped and saved making far too many starters and desserts. A full coil of energy thrumming in the back of her second hand cart named Kit, and her passport’s up to date.

Launch OK? Hit the Big Red Button and ‘oh my god did I stop clenching no thank god I didn’t’. Ohhhh the squeeze of the G force. Acceleration. Vision starts to fade on the outside. Slowly the twinkles approach. Faster they approach. Like lines then streaks they approach.

‘It’s just a pipe’ ten thousand nine hundred and twenty one kilometres long. Constant acceleration at three earth Gs. Eh…

[ins] In [1]: import math

[ins] In [2]: distance_m = 10921 * 1000

[ins] In [3]: distance_m
Out[3]: 10921000

[ins] In [4]: acceleration = 9.8 * 3

[ins] In [5]: final_speed_squared = 2 * acceleration * distance_m

[ins] In [6]: final_speed = math.sqrt(final_speed_squared)

[ins] In [7]: final_speed
Out[7]: 25340.773468858442

[ins] In [8]: initial_speed = 0

[ins] In [9]: time = (final_speed - initial_speed) / acceleration

[ins] In [10]: time
Out[10]: 861.9310703693347

‘Fourteen minutes twenty one seconds at 3G. I can’t clench for fourteen minutes. I can’t clench for one minute. Why the fuck do I keep thinking about clenching? Remember the training video. Try to relax. Try to fucking relax. They didn’t mention clenching. Fuck it, only twelve minutes left, and I will be outta here at oh… 25 kilometres per second’

Dervlah is sure, feeling like an elephoth is sitting on her for fourteen minutes is worth it; the feeling of getting out of this shit pit at twenty five kilometres per second, is, well, it’s fantastic!

Continued here: Coming of age, 2484 (2)

stories The Shouter Series

The Shouter (6)

Part 1 -> The Shouter

It was the smallest driver in the center of The Shouter. Small and skinny like the expensive cans of coke in the pub. It’s so small, a few kilowatts pushed through it’s windings move it fast. Move it very fast.

It shoots forward, fast. Faster than the speed of sound. A sphere of super compressed air left sitting there, about the size of a ping pong ball. The centre driver moves so fast, but the sphere of pressure sits, compressed, kilowatts of energy, formed in the air itself.

The larger driver, encircling the thinner driver, moves backwards. A donut of almost vacuum. The focus drivers, sitting around the perimeter of The Shouter like eyelashes of a fucked up looking eye, they squeeze.


Observe a slinky shook on one end, and the wave of energy speeding down it. Observe, a nugget of compressed shock, speeding down a path shaped out of thin air.

Slow motion. Dermot and Declan’s faces pan by, slightly out of focus. Open Mouthed. Hints of Tuborg making a hasty exit from Dermot’s right nostril (he’s had a bit of a cold, hence the asymmetry). In sharp relief we see a small ball of hell travelling past. It appears to be growing as it passes them. Declan, who knows about sound, has a hint of a smile on the corner of his mouth.

Crack. Crack may be too small a word for what happens next. Our favourite small (although bigger than when it started) ball of hell energy, impacts a solid lab wall. Cavity block and steel structure.

A few kilowatts of energy finds a nucleation point on the dappled paint, a tiny scratch. Our hell ball vanishes. The few kilowatts (a few more now as it had some mass added along the way) is a thin root, squeezed between molecules of paint and cavity block, and it expands.

A hole appears. Energy is released, then absorbed by every bit of glass in the building. Every crystalline structure gets a dose. The glass is sick of this abuse, the stress of these fuckin ejits messing around. The glass gives up. All the glass, in the entire…. fucking… building.

A smoking, football shaped hole in the wall. Alarms all over City West shreeking their siren calls; they are jealous of The Shouter.

Declan, who knows about sound, Dermot, who doesn’t. Still there. Still have Tuborg (less now thanks to sympathetic foaming actions). Can’t say anything cause they can’t hear anything. They don’t need to. The smiles on their faces says it all.

Continued in part 7 -> The Shouter (7)

stories The Shouter Series

The Shouter (5)

The Shouter < Part 1 here

The Crack cracks every bit of glass in the lab, it cracks every bit of glass in the building. It cracks the shit that shouldn’t fucking crack at all!

The night in question. Drizzle, wet, manky. Dermot and Declan. Few cans of Tuborg. They got a few bob now, no strings attached. They got a swag in their step now that gets them the few cans in the offie with no ID.

Their pirate radio station, Radio Wow ( ‘Wowing you out every Monday to Thursday after homework yowsa‘) has not been Wowing anyone after homework for about two months now. That’s ok tho, cause it was the summer holidays. But now… The end of summer is coming on like an onrushing truck now. The boys sense it. No way could they make this trip to citywest after school, once school comes on.

The end of this whole project was coming on like an onrushing truck now. The end of the fuckin night was coming on like an onrushing truck now.

Dermot, who dreams and and looks at too much YouTube, leans back on the beanbag, faces the roof and closes his eyes. Like an onrushing truck now. In his closed eyes he sees a centre of quiet black, and all around is black with thin silver lines. Movement and indistinct shapes on the edge of his vision. ‘Am I looking at my phone too much? Have my nurons formed new patterns that see a bright rectangle in front of my eyes that brings me laughter, joy, sadness and anger? Nurons which in times past arranged around faces of people I saw everyday, now arrange around this bright rectangle in space? Ignore the surrounding? Makes my heart beat fast? Makes me fall into the quiet black hole, fall down the tunnel like an onrushing truck now?’

Declan, who knows about sound; ‘What if… What if the inner driver went faster than the speed of sound? What if we got the Shouter to break the sound barrier?’

Dermot, who doesn’t, lifts from his torper. He sees the inner coke-can looking driver getting rammed through the tube like an onrushing truck now. The driver that looks like a coke can, pushed faster than air likes to move. He says, ‘What if we focus it?’.

Crack goes the building, like it was hit, by a truck now.

Contines in -> The Shouter (6)

stories The Shouter Series

The Shouter (4)

The Shouter < link to the first part

The big yellow warning sign on the lab entrance states “Ear protection must be worn”. They bought the sign on amazon, but they had a few bob now, no strings attached.

A lack of thinkimentation and a lot of experimentation happened. The power output of The Shouter quickly grew with better materials. A few 1 farad capacitors from the boy-racer scene brought Dermot and Declan closer to their own mortality, but also brought The Shouter to ever higher performance levels.

Dermot went to a science fair once and saw an ‘air cannon’. A bin with a circle cut out at the bottom and an elasticated plastic bag at the top. He saw the performer scienctist invite young ‘uns up onstage and fire air at their parents.

Declan, who knows about sound, listens to Dermot, who has little sense, gush about how exciting it would be to make The Shouter act like an Air cannon.

Surprisingly easily, Declan, who knows about sound, manages to make the driver tube (the coke can looking bit) nested, with a smaller coke can, like the ones pubs charge a fortune for, sitting inside the larger driver. Dermot, who knows a little about a lot, places a number of smaller shouters around the circumference of the central, nested shouters.

Hook up a controller, Dermot, who likes computers, models the new, admittedly scary looking, Shouter, in the open source Godot game engine. By moving the different drivers at slightly different delays, they can make a highly linear smoke ring looking thing travel all the way down the lab.

Declan, who knows about sound, wants to experiment some more. It’s a computer game now, like a brilliant new toy hooked up and ready for action, but what else can it do?

Dermot, who likes to shmoke a bit, blows shmoke into the front of the Shouter “Ha we should rename it the Shmoker” Declan plays with the Xbox controls. ‘Bang’ a square of shmoke rolls down the lab, ‘Boom’ an octagon skews to the left and rattles glasses on the rack.

Rattles glasses? What if…. Schreeeech pull over a rack full of science looking glasses. They came with the lab who cares.

They can smash them all easily, just by turning it up, but Declan, who knows about sound, picks them off, one by one like some gun toting sherrif in the wild west. A sound like scratching your thumb down the low E string on a guitar, a smash of glass giving up all hope.

They have a few bob now, no strings attached, What if…. Laser range finder, exact distance to wall is… 8 meters, resonant frequency would be…. f =c/2L, let’s say air temp is normal, dunno how to account for all the fuckin shmoke in here, 343 meters per, lets call it 21.267hz. Infrasonic eh, well if a pipe organ can do it so can we.

Eyeballs vibrating in their own sockets, plaster shearing off the walls in sheets, Dermot and Declan, swallowing hard to keep their hot chicken wraps down, looking at eachother. Fuck.

The Shouter (5) < Part 5

Meta stories

Faster than Light, hyperspace, and how to deal

A common problem with Sci-fi is how to deal with the speed of light.

Why is it interesting, who cares I hear you ask? I suspect some of the most interesting world building and storylines may happen when the corner cases are explored.

Please note, this isn’t real life. Real life is that you can’t go faster than the speed of light. Furthermore, an object with mass can’t even go at the speed of light. (Although I heard a PhD recently say photons may have a tiny mass but look, this isn’t a bleedin cutting edge paper!)

Now, back to the glorious world of sci-fi where we can pick and choose what we write!

There are a few options, and whichever is taken generally impacts the “world building”.

By far the most common way to deal with the speed of light is the ‘universal now’ that is, there is a ‘now’ that is true, whichever your perspective, distance or speed.

The interesting thing about this framework is that most people believe the real world is like this! It works pretty well for sci-fi because of this. It is the invisible way of dealing with light speed in fiction, and is, ahem, generally harmless.


The boat (Hyperspace); The time taken to travel from one part of the galaxy to the other is akin to a boat ride, very far away takes a long time, so that’s maybe like crossing the ocean. Going to a different galaxy is often ruled out due to this, going to a closer star system, is of course, quicker (culture series), like sailing up the coast perhaps.

The boat and wormhole; Other methods involve “worm holes”, like shortcuts, where your ship can travel slowly, and then go through a worm hole somewhere else instantly or very quickly (expeditionary force).

Sub-light; There is the hibernation options that are sub light speed. Unfortunately this generally means star systems are isolated from each-other in your world. Immortality can also fix this (savages from Galaxy’s Edge).

The set up

Planet ‘Alfalfa’, centre of your universe, Planet ‘Beetroot’ (you are a vegetable orientated species), a light year away. 1LY is not a measure of time, it means 10 trillion kilometres (ish).

The plague planet “Sprout” lies somewhere in the vast expanse between these two herbaceous planets. We don’t like them, they get up to ‘all sorts’.

Sprout likes no one, and has developed a… Hard to call it a weapon, maybe a overly developed sense of personal space? This “definitely not a weapon”, when triggered, can cause both Alfalfa and Beetroot to start moving away from eachother very quickly.

Initially concerned, the great kingdoms on Alfalfa and Beetroot no longer care, because they’ve managed to invent… Wormholes!

How it gets interesting

Here are a few things which I feel would be interesting to explore as a writer. I understand that many have been explored before, but thankfully, it doesn’t mean they can’t be looked at again!

If you were to travel to planet Beetroot at the speed of light; from your perspective, you would arrive instantly. To a photon, it’s journey is instantaneous. This kinda blows the boat analogy out of the water. As a passenger on a light speed ship, there is no delay to your destination once you get to light speed.

To the great vegetarian peoples of Planet Alfalfa however, it would have taken a year for you to get to Beetroot, and they, themselves, would be a year older.

Enders Game (the later ones) explored this problem. People who regularly travelled to other planets, gradually lost all their connections to “back home”. While the travellers stayed the same age, their friends and family left at home all aged and got older. Do this a bit too much and wham, you’re meeting your own grandkids, and they are older than you!

The universe in motion

The ‘universal now’ is great, and we need the universal now for worm holes to work (as the appear in most fiction). The Now is great… until we consider that everything is in motion. Here’s how it breaks causality, or allows ‘time travel’ backwards in time.

Forward in time

Forward in time is easy, as stated above, wormhole to somewhere moving very fast (Beetroot when Sprout is having an ‘off day’), and travel home again. Forwards in time is easy, you just need speed.

Backwards in time was much harder to figure out, until I realised it’s actually the same thing, you just bring the Universal Now with you!

The Great Race

“Every twelve hundred moons, our ancestors have taken part in our most honoured games. The origins of this ancient and noble tradition are lost in the mists of time. Once a century(ish), the greatest families on all Alfalfa supply a team, a team who must compete in the greatest of all races, a race which will decide who rules the great garden of Alfalfa, for the next twelve hundred moons. This race, as you all know, is called ‘Pass the Carrot’….. you back there, stop sniggering!”

“After consulting with the greatest minds and spookiest oracles on Alfalfa, it is decided that ‘Pass Th… I mean… The Great Race’ participants can indeed use our new ‘faster than light, instomatic wormholes’ to complete this holiest of all races. What could possibly go wrong?”

The Parsnip Partnership had a plan. Over the last year they had been coordinating with various succulents on planet Beetroot to make sure they would have success.

What could go wrong

The year is year 0 of the Tenth cycle. Patrick Parsnip takes a look at Planet Beetroot through the amazingly good telescope his Uncle Alfonso bought him for Harvest Day. He can see Beetroot are just beginning the last year of their Ninth cycle (Light takes a year to get to him). But he ‘knows’ Beetroot is really also in year 0 of it’s Tenth cycle (the universal now is with Patrick). That blasted planet Sprout can be seen too, but he tries to ignore them, their always up to something!

Patrick grabs the holy carrot, jumps in the wormhole, and appears on the surface of Beetroot, it is Year 0, he looks back at Alfafa, but something is wrong, something is very wrong.

Without anyone on Alfalfa knowing, half a year ago, Sprout had activated their ‘not a weapon’, and started moving Beetroot away at high speed.

That meant, Beetroot was only three quarters of the way through it’s final year! Not all the way through, as Patrick expected!

When the Parsnip Partnership were first hatching their plans, they had never considered this, they had arrived on Beetroot three months too early.

‘Pass the carrot’ was on; simply race to the top of mount molehill on Beetroot, and back to the vally of Lazy Bed on Alfalfa, and the crown would be his!

But… Was this cheating? When he wormholed back from Beetroot, he would arrive on Alfalfa, weeks before the race had even started!

A moving reference

If we pick a universal now, we have to choose a reference point. And that reference point needs to come with us on our story.

The sprouts

The short green ones had a plan… There was no rule against their entry… With their shorter legs, no way could they win the great race. Just as the other entrants, they wormholed to Beetroot, but were ready for the surprise, they saw Alfalfa was three months slower than expected, and jumped back straight away. They now had three months in which to sabotage Patrick of the Parsnip Partnership, before he even had a chance to race.

All hail our new green, pungent, king!

In a moving universe, Faster than Light travel and wormholes start to allow time travel backwards. Exploring the various corners of the implications of the ‘universal now’, and causality impacted by FTL, opens a nice space (ahem) for world building!

stories The Shouter Series

The Shouter (3)

Link to the first in the series here

Fu-kin legends bai. Rumours and stories flit around the school like bats. Parish priest makes an announcement; ‘We are not sure what exactly happened in the local last Friday, but we ask that we, as a…. communitee, do not pass judgment on what looks to be two young lads working hard on the science’.

Barman, half a head of hair and covered in steri-strips, ‘sure lookit, it could put this place on de map!’. A village where everyone plays or listens to music.

A car pulls up the drive, two tweed suits get out, and crunch up to ask mammy where the ‘young fellas’ are. ‘The shed’.

Dermot, Declan, Tweedie Dum, Tweedie De, are a close fit in the shed. ‘Youse boys are running a pirate station, that’s illegal’. Dermot, who reads too much; ‘Akshually, you’re meant to make a citation in pursuance to the Broadcasting act of 2009’. Dead air. Dermot often causes silence, this was nothing new.

‘We’ve ben asked to approach yez around an opportunity’, ‘a certain company has said thy have an empty electronics lab there in city west, no strings attached’. ‘No stings me hole’. Phone number swapped. shoulders shrug and ‘sure why not’. Offer accepted that night.

Declan, who knows about sound, looking forwards to getting his hands on some better equipment. Dermot, who reads a lot; ‘No strings me hole’.

Part 4 -> The Shouter (4)