Thursday, 26 February 2015

Rainbows, Lightning and Travel

This is a post about the Dragons Eye story line.

In any book, the “technology” only works if it happens consistently. Travel between worlds is an important part of this story. Travel occurs before the mechanisms are described because I wanted it to be experienced before being rationalised.

The Nine Worlds

Experience: Belle via Bob: There are another eight worlds Belle knew of – all near and yet far. They are far away physically. But, they all overlap and there are small gaps between the worlds. Small creatures had been moving between the worlds at the gaps for eons.

Rationalization: Simply calling on some notion of overlapping or folding space is an insufficient explanation for instantaneous travel. In the early 1980s I haunted the Mount Stromlo Observatory briefly, copying by hand the Gliese catalog of nearby stars, to plug into an early 3D simulation of our nearby space. At that time I first wondered what a map of gravity and absolute location would look like, excluding time from the equation - and when I realized that this would tell us nothing significant unless the map showed situations of significant gravitational interaction. This might have real implications (eg the foreshadowed entry of Gliese 710 into our Solar System's Oort cloud might dislodge some existing orbits) but it might also have more subtle ones - creating enduring orientation of sub atomic fields within the relevant suns. For the purposes of the story, I have identified a number of systems that have or will have significant gravitation interaction with our own system as an, admittedly, pseudo-scientific explanation for the forms of travel set out below. I justify this as a way of drawing attention to the local bubble and the behavior of near stars, but I wonder if there is a germ of an answer to a more difficult problem here.


Belle via Bob: Small beings from one of the worlds punch holes between the worlds, enlarging them. They hunt for heavy and rare metals to support their technologies.
My great-aunt Victoria Edmonstone: She thought that they lived in red mushrooms in the deep woods. She was sure that they collect vast stores of gold coins and travel the sky using rainbows. They bury their loot at the end of their rainbows.

Not any rainbow. A normal rainbow flickers into existence as sunlight hits water vapor. They glow and fade as rain clouds clear the sky. The rainbows of the dark alfs emerge after fierce lightning storms, while the static electricity still hangs in the air, setting your hair on edge. Their rainbows come from the sky like meteors, hitting the ground with an explosion of light, leaving a faint rainbow trail as mist rises.

Lightning/Static Electricity

Belle via Bob: He said – Transfers between worlds happen in different ways. Belle said the most common was a short transfer from a little static electricity. In the park, to keep warm, I wear woolen sweaters and cheap rubber boots. The boots insulate my feet while I gradually build up a charge on my sweater. Watch.

Bob: He rubbed his sweater with a small rod from another pocket. This time, when he touched my hand, there was a short burst of static electricity. I jumped. He looked seriously - Once you know how to do it, it is easy to transfer right at the node. Eh.

Bob: I said – And the mobile? He said – It takes more much more power the further away you got from the node. Maybe the mobile helps. I don’t know.

Movement or Recreation

So what really happens in a StarTrek transporter?

My story hints, at a couple of places, that static transfers leave part or a copy of the person behind. Both Pete and Anthem, while travelling in the unstable zone have forms that interact in one or the other or, in a couple of cases, in both realms.  But those back on Earth sometimes perceive them to be in coma-like states and have moved them to a specific ward. The book has not explored this, although I played in parts not included in the final with the notion of the creation of a vegetative form on static transfer which remerged on return. I have never been completely happy with transporter travel in the StarTrek Universe - it never accounted for the loss of mass or the apparent murder of people each time they got transported. However, in curing one problem, it occurred to me a bit late that I had simply created a new lack of explanation at the receiving end. A more elegant solution is proposed in Stargate Universe - an option that I could not adopt.

While  was struggling with some of these issues, +Jennifer Solomonsen came to my rescue prompting:

Time in a worm hole. A belief in alternate realities that coexist with or around the time we mark here in this space. A sort of Donny Darco scenario of the mind and body. Physical body on another planet? Might happen. Edgar C. Burroughs certainly imagined such a thing in his John Carter series. I have always agreed with my elders on one key point. The universe is a very large place. I wonder what we would see from another perspective. Go tell your friends daughter your perspective.

There are a lot of ideas compressed in these five lines.  Firstly, Jennifer forced me to rethink.  The rethink eventually turned into a full night locked away in a noisy bar with a pad of paper and a couple of pencils and lots of cider.  In the story as it stands at present, this element of the story has not been well fleshed out - when I come back to it, this is something I would like to work on.  Secondly, Jennifer talked about perspective. This ultimately changed the way I wrote the remaining two thirds of the book. It was good advice, at exactly the right time.

Peter Quinton
February 2015

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