Always Writing

Just in case anyone actually follows this blog, I thought I’d update it with my latest doings.

I am always writing, drawing, animating. The Overlord is my great work, and it proceeds at a snail’s pace. I just finished some artwork for my buddy‘s first novel, which he is self-publishing. I did an animated spot for This Hour Has 22 Minutes which aired this December past, it’s called The Lockout Sweater. I also started teaching at the Centre for Art & Technology, which is a private career college. I also have a short film, animated in stop-motion, that is in progress (and has been for like 2 years now) which is called Onions. I have also writted a couple of scripts for a sci-fi series that a buddy of mine and I are pitching to networks.

..there’s more stuff, but I am out of time for now

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Warp Drive

Okay… so now I have to rethink my book ‘Proteus’ – it was based on the notion that you couldn’t travel faster than light, but Nasa seems to be on to something that could mess that all up

http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-scientists-begin-warp-drive-experiments-190400874.html

I will probably back-burner this story while I re-think it a bit. In the meantime, there is more Exodus in the works

Exodus – Prologue

I’m starting a second novel called ‘Exodus’, which is unconnected to Proteus. It’s science fiction as well, but a bit different in tone. I’ll be writing these simultaneously.

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Prologue

The Omega Object was coming. It was the size of the Moon, and it was on course to collide with the Earth in three years.

Humanity had united in the face of this universal threat, setting aside their differences to work together for the survival of the species. The brightest minds were brought together and given the combined resources of every government on the planet. Project Achilles was the culmination of human endeavor, the pinnacle of civilization, the very best and most significant undertaking in recorded history. There were mishaps, accidents and setbacks, but after eight months the project was completed, a month ahead of schedule. The spacecraft was a miracle of science, the crew was the best of the best, and they set out to save the world.

Everyone waited with baited breath as the Achilles Mission hurtled closer to its moment of destiny near Saturn. Every day for ten months there were reports on the status of the mission, the health of the crew, the readiness of the equipment. Humans had traveled farther than ever before as Achilles passed the orbit of Mars, navigated through the Asteroid Belt, and then sailed out past the orbit of Jupiter. Saturn was in their sights, and behind it, the glowing form of the Omega Object, blazing green like a ghostly comet, with an enormous fiery plume trailing out behind it.

It defied all attempts to analyze its composition. Its trajectory was erratic, inexplicably reacting to gravitational fields of nearby objects. When Achilles was finally within range of their sensor probes, the moment of truth had arrived. They began a live broadcast, the signal taking 75 minutes to reach the Earth. The whole world watched the rockets being prepped and launched. The first trickles of data started to come in, instantly recalculated into graphs and charts. The commander of the mission was describing a reaction from the Omega Object, some sort of flare. The image went white, and then there was nothing more from Achilles.

There was desperate hope as the seconds dragged on into minutes. Mission Control sent out repeated signals to Achilles, each time waiting 150 minutes to receive a reply. For three days, the world waited for some sign, some message, any sort of clue as to the fate of the mission.

After three days, the Achilles Project Ground Control made a final statement. Debris had been spotted in the vicinity of Saturn, consistent with a cataclysmic failure of the Achilles’ main reactor. The ship was officially declared destroyed. The Omega Object was observed to have accelerated, and its trajectory had compensated, keeping it on course to intercept with the Earth in six months. The mission was a failure.

It was officially the end of the world.

Proteus – 5

CHAPTER THREE

Strand walked to the control panel and pulled the handle. The hatch growled as it slid up and into the doorway. Varram stepped out of the locker room and stood in the corridor, unsure of which direction to go. Strand pointed to the right. “The grav-well is this way, sir.”

Varram smiled awkwardly. “Yes, of course.”

The two of them walked along the narrow corridor, and passed a medical staffer, rushing by with a bundle of supplies.  He shouted as he approached. “Make a hole!”

Varram and Strand stood to one side, backs against the wall as he passed.

Proteus – 4

Strand stood rigidly. “I understand, sir. I’ll try not to disappoint you.”

Varram had finally managed to pull the tight undersuit onto his frame and closed the seal-seam, but the collar was giving him trouble. He threw his hands up in frustration. “God! This infernal uniform will be the death of me!”

Strand turned slightly, looking sideways at the Science Chief. “Sir? If I may?”

“Would you?” Varram splayed his fingers at his neck region in a tense gesture. “This head-sleeve is impossible!”

The ensign walked over to Varram and untucked the baggy frill of material that billowed from the neck of his suit. “It’s designed to roll up into a cushion-type collar when not in use. Just leave the plastic release ring hanging out the back like this, so it’s easy to find in case of an emergency depressurization.” Strand took his wrist and guided his hand to the back of the suit, so he could feel the ring and learn its proper setup.

Varram looked at his reflection in the mirror, this time, fully dressed in the uniform of a Pantheon Space Corps Science Chief. His uniform was similar to the ensign’s, a tight-fitting black and green undersuit, but with extra gold bands around his wrists, denoting his rank. She stood respectfully behind him, and Varram saw her face, youthful and awkward. He was her commanding officer, and Varram felt his responsibility for her settle on his shoulders as the smartfoam lining of his undersuit molded to the forms of his body. He breathed a sigh and turned around. “Thank you, ensign… I’m sorry what did you say your name was?”

“It’s Strand, Chief.”

Varram held out his hand, and she shook it. “I’m sorry we got off to a rocky start there, Strand. I think I need my morning cup of tea. You seem like a good egg. I’m sure you’ll work out fine.”

The ensign nodded curtly. “I’ll try not to disappoint you, Chief. Now if you’ll follow me, Captain Hargest says we need to get to the bridge.” She handed him the data slate she had been holding.

“The bridge? But I haven’t met with my team yet, we haven’t even unpacked our experiment packets..” Varram raised his eyebrows as he thumbed the activation icon and the slate faded up “What’s this now? We’re not even in the Vela system yet?”

“That’s right, Chief. Most of the science team is still in prep for thaw-out. We’re on approach to the termination shock.”

Varram felt his senses sharpen as adrenaline spiked into his system. He knew that something unexpected must have happened. All the procedures, training, bureaucracy, all the necessary and logistical steps that had brought him to this place were falling away. The unknown was lurking close by, and this was why he had come. To stand naked in the void of space, bathed in the light of an alien sun, to push to the edge of the human sphere, this was why he had left his family. He had never felt more alive than those moments in his lab, or in the field, when his research took him into new territory. This was his reason for being. “Let’s go, Strand. You’d better tell me on the way to the bridge.”

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© Dylan Edwards, 2012.

Proteus – 3

He knew his sister Fadheela would carry on the family traditions and honour his father’s memory. He had abandoned his family; left the Earth, possibly forever, but this sacrifice would be worth it in the end. Yash would write his name in the stars, forever a part of this historic expedition to explore a new world. He saw the pride in his mother’s eyes when he said his final farewell. She had said to him, “Your father would be so proud of you.”

Now he was billions of kilometers from home, and the eyes looking back at him were not proud.

There was a sudden growling sound as servo motors pulled open one of the doors behind him. Yash turned just in time to expose himself to the woman who was entering the change room, with a data slate in her hand.

“Hey hey hey – changing in here!” Varram lurched left and right, waving his arms, grabbing the empty air for something to cover his nudity.

The woman seemed unimpressed as she fixed her eyes on the cieling. “Apologies, Chief. Your kit is in Locker 2.” She gestured towards one of the cages. He edged towards it, keeping a suspicious eye on the intruder. She wore the black and green uniform of a Science Specialist.

“You are on my team? I don’t recognize you.” He reached the locker and pulled open the door, using it as a screen.

“Ensign Inga Strand, Chief. Pantheon Command approved my assignment after launch prep was underway.” She glanced over at Varram as he popped open his trunk, and removed his uniform. He caught her looking and scowled fiercely.

“No peeking! Turn around!” Strand complied and faced the wall. Satisfied, Varram returned his attention to the task at hand. He stepped into his uniform. “You’re an ensign? How the hell did you get onto the Trident?”

“Command felt that the Science Division needed an extra set of hands, sir. Or so I was told. At the time.”

“Command felt-?” Varram struggled with the undersuit in his rising indignation. “An extra set of hands? I selected my team from a list of candidates as long as your arm, Ensign. If I had known I would get an extra set of hands..” He nodded apologetically to her back. “No offense, but there are many others I would have chosen to take your place.”

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© Dylan Edwards, 2012.

NOTE: Short post this week – it was a busy time – My eldest son graduated from high school today!

Proteus – 2

Yash Varram remembered the cold floor under his feet, the bright white lights, the stainless steel surfaces within the cryolab. He remembered a voice telling him to sit up on a steel gurney. He remembered a hissing sound, and the voice counting down from one hundred, and then nothing else.

He was itchy. He reached up to scratch his nose, but his arm was snagged on something. He moved his head but saw nothing, and then laughed softly. His eyes were not open.

“Of course..”

Varram’s arm was held in a gentle grip. An electronic voice softly droned. “Please remain still for just a moment.” There was a pinch on his forearm.

“Ok. Might as well.”

He decided to try and remember something else. He had been asleep. He had been dreaming. There was a house in the forest. She had said that he might dream and she was right. He did dream, he just couldn’t remember what. She said that during the hypersleep, people sometimes dreamed. The doctor was very nice. A nice lady. She had a kind face.

“Dr. Closson is a nice old lady.”

“And if you’re a good little boy you can have some ice cream.”

Varram started at the sound of the Doctor’s voice. “Ice cream! Doctor? I can’t see you.. oh yeah.” He laughed to himself again.

“Just a moment. This is going to feel a little warm.”

There was a squishy sound as liquid flowed over Varram’s face, and ran down his cheeks. A mask was pulled away from his eyes, and a flare of light dimmed down to soft amber. He turned his head to one side, seeing a tangle of clear tubes with multicolored fluids drizzling though them, and twinkling lights softly pulsing in the background.

He made a fist and then relaxed his hand, feeling a thick wetness. He brought his hand up to his face and saw blue gel dripping off his fingertips in clumps. Cryonic medium, the hypersleep subject is immersed in it for the duration of their journey.

“Oh yeah.. Oh!”

He sat up suddenly and looked around in alarm. He was in a small white room, paneled with rounded cushioning and lit at floor level. There were medical machines here, affixed to the wall, or held on mechanical arms. He was sitting up on a bed, dripping with slime and naked, but for a loose-fitting pair of shorts and a few strap-bands that were fastened to his arms and legs, trailing wires and tubes. A matronly woman in white medical robes stood nearby, tapping a screen. A white cylindrical robot craned up to him on its four legs and extended a padded grappler towards his shoulder.

The robot chimed softly “Please remain still for just a moment.”

“Science Chief Yash Varram?”

“Yes. That’s me.”

The doctor tapped the screen and pushed it away as she turned towards her patient “Of course it is.” She pulled a stylus out of her pocket and held it towards Varram’s face. “Open wide. Say ahh. Look here. Do you know where you are?”

Dr. Closson shone a light into his eyes while the watchbot removed tubes and straps. “Recovery Room aboard the SS Trident.”

Her firm hands felt his jaw and neck. “Correct. Except this room is multi-use. Rooms are a precious commodity on a ship like this. We call this ‘The Clean Room’ – just to help you get your terms straight.” She smiled as she touched the back of her stylus to his chest. “Breathe for me, please.”

Varram inhaled deeply and exhaled while Closson held her finger to a bead in her ear. “Good, good. Here swing your legs over the edge of the bed. Stay like this please. Can you tell me the year you left Earth?”

He squinted and recalled the details of his departure. “It was 2051 AD when I left Earth for pre-flight at Luna Prime and then 2052 when I arrived at Olympus Mons on Mars, where I was put into hypersleep.. by you, Dr. Closson.”

Dr. Closson nodded and helped him to his feet. “Can you stand up for me? Good. And do you know what year it is now?”

“A journey of 36 light years, accounting for gradual acceleration and deceleration, I’d estimate 2092, Earth time. Ship time would be less due to relativistic spacetime compression.”

“The relativistic what now?”

“It was a 40-year trip, but because we were traveling close to the speed of light it was perhaps as little as 12 years to us on board.”

“Right. Whatever you say, Chief. You’re clearly doing fine. I have about a hundred more thaw-jobs to get through so…” She thumbed her computer screen, it bleeped and flashed green. Varram’s file was displayed, with the updated status line that read: ‘Approved for active duty’. She guided him to a narrow hatchway and pressed a button. The doorway opened, revealing a stall fitted with nozzles. “You remember post-cryo procedure?”

Hesitantly, he stepped into the compartment. “Um.. “

“Welcome aboard, Mr. Varram.” Closson smiled and waved as the hatch closed.

“Thank.. you.. Doctor..” He made an inspection of the stall and found a cluster of controls. He pressed his thumb against the ID scanner, which hummed and then flashed green. A row of green lights appeared on the panel. They were going out one after the other, the line shrinking one green bead at a time. “Right. Post-cryo procedure.. which one of these is..?”

Hot water sprayed him from every angle. He screamed with the shock of it, and then started laughing. It felt amazing, his every nerve ending was opening like a garden of blossoms in spring. Warm fingers of water massaged his skin, washing away the clinging clumps of gelatinous cyro-medium, and also –

“My pants! Hey!”

Varram grabbed at the soggy clumps of dissolving material that had been his only clothing and watched as they plopped to the floor and fizzled away into foam. “Hmm! I guess there’s no underwear in space.”

With a sharp clack, the water flow stopped and the stall was lit up with a brilliant blue. He felt the flow of air as warm wind blew up through the floor grille. There was a popping sound in his ears and his hearing became much clearer. Rotors and pumps were growling in the walls, drains and pipes were circulating fluids, and behind that, the thrum and buzz of servos. He smiled to himself and kissed the wall.

“Hello Trident. This is one hell of a first date.”

As if in response, the blue lights went out, and Varram was left momentarily in darkness, naked and confused. A heartbeat later, a crack of white light appeared in front of him, and a rush of cool air blew over his skin, raising goosebumps. The line of white widened, revealing an adjoining chamber. It was a small locker room, featuring a bench, four large cage lockers, and a full-length mirror. There were two large octagonal hatches leading out of the room, each one with a standard door control operated by thumb ID scanner. He stepped out of the shower stall and into the room, his bare feet twitching against the non-slip bumps of the cool floor.

He regarded his reflection in the mirror – his dark hair was gone, buzzed close to his scalp before he awoke. His face was also shaved smooth. He turned around, examining himself. “Not too bad for a 75 year old man.” Biologically he was about 35 years old, his metabolism having been slowed to a standstill during the hyper-sleep. Back on Earth, 40 years would have gone by. His family would be much older, his sister might have a family, his mother could have passed away.

Varram stepped closer to the reflective wall and looked into his eyes. He saw his father’s eyes looking back at him, and he grimaced.

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© Dylan Edwards, 2012.