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Jan 29, 2013

Vozgrow and Leymaygn

Dryad
I've been sketching out character and plot details for Chapter Three of Exode. Previously I mentioned that Vozgrow and Leymaygn are two Buld at Lendhalen who train Parthney for his Interventionist mission on Earth. Everyone who lives at Lendhalen is free from pek nanites, but that makes it difficult for the Buld to maintain a stable population. I've decided that Leymaygn makes use of a type of "partial change" that has been developed by the lisden of Lendhalen to help the Buld Interventionists stabilize a small population of rebels. As described for Pla'va, by going through "partial change" Leymaygn can be rejuvenated and also retain some existing brain structure and behavioral patterns although most individual memories are lost in the process.

In contrast, Vozgrow has a long personal history of experimenting with medical nanites provided by the Fru'wu. Leymaygn has the typical youthful appearance of the Buld, but Vozgrow is ancient like Yandrey.  Yandrey shows some effects of extreme age, but since thon lives on Hemmal there are pek medical nanites in thons body that do a good job of preventing most of the deleterious consequences of old age. For example, Yandrey wears a wig to hide thons baldness and makes use of a kind of makeup made from nanite components. The Fru'wu medical nanites are not as efficient as the pek nanites and so Vozgrow does not have a youthful appearance. Parthney is rather shocked by Vozgrow's odd appearance and Gwyned tries to make him appreciate the fact that there are many old and disabled people on Earth. Where Parthney grew up on Hemmal, everyone is genetically perfect and kept healthy by pek medical nanites, so before seeing Vozgrow, Parthney has never really experienced a person with alarming physical features. I've been trying to decide just how hideous to make Vozgrow.

In the Jack Vance novel Star King an alien creature called a "Dryad" is described: "They are at least half plant...bipeds, with a peculiarly human torso and head structure...the head showed...purplish-green bruises which seemed to be eye spots." I'm amused by the idea of a sapient, bipedal plant-like creature and I'm imagining that Vozgrow has been shifted in that direction by the Fru'wu medical nanites.

Glimpsed image of a Fru'wu
The two alien species featured in Exode are the Fru'wu and the Nereids. The Nereids are fairly humanoid, but the Fru'wu have an alarming body form and so they avoid showing themselves to humans. I've previously hinted at the body structure of the Fru'wu. In my thinking, the original naturally-evolved body form of the Fru'wu is lost in the distant past, but we can try to reconstruct their evolutionary origins. The Fru'wu (more accurately, the distant ancestors of the Fru'wu) were an old species when the pek arrived in our galaxy seven million years ago. The Fru'wu are half biological and half artificial; a symbiotic hybrid construct of biological cells and nanite components. Although not complete shapeshifters like the pek, the Fru'wu can easily alter their surface features and it is doubtful that humans have ever seen their unaltered form.

Fru'wu home world
The Fru'wu provided medical nanites to the Buld, but the Buld have never had a very good grasp on biology. The Buld have never been able to make the required adjustments to the Fru'wu medical nanites to fully adapt them for use in humans. With time, Buld who make use of Fru'wu medical nanites begin to have some distinctive morphological features that reflect aspects of Fru'wu biology. I'm trying to imagine how to transform an elderly human part way towards a plant, something about 10% of the way towards Vance's Dryads.

Spoilers
The original planet where the Fru'wu evolved was significantly hotter than Earth, a world with a carbon dioxide-rich reducing atmosphere where oxygenic photosynthesis never appeared. An oxygen-containing atmosphere is poisonous to the Fru'wu and humans cannot survive in the type of atmosphere that is suitable for the Fru'wu.

The star of the Fru'wu home world produced mostly long wavelength light that could be used for a type of photosynthetic acetogenesis that allowed for efficient carbon dioxide fixation and a metabolism based on carbon compounds. Nitrogen fixation was accomplished on the Fru'wu home world by a second linked photosynthetic electron transport system with a specialized vanadium-iron nitrogenase complex.

Orbits of Oib, Hemmal and Clu'ten'iun around the star Koly. Positions of some Pla spacecraft are also shown.

When Parthney arrives at Lendhalen, he believes that he is on Oib. However, the interventionist base on Oib is just for cover...Lendhalen is actually located at the next planet closer to Koly than Hemmal: Clu'ten'iun. The conditions on Clu'ten'iun are not fully compatible with Fru'wu physiology, but the high temperature, high carbon dioxide, no oxygen atmosphere makes it a reasonable place for a Fru'wu base of operations in the Koly star system. When Parthney arrives on Oib he is secretly teleported to Clu'ten'iun. The readers of Exode do not learn about Clu'ten'iun until Parthney returns to the Koly star system after his mission Earth.
Leymaygn and Vozgrow.

Jan 26, 2013

The Klyz Teleportation Hub

Pla'kao
I've been making decisions about the nature of the secret training base for Interventionist agents in the Koly star system where Parthney is prepared for his mission to Earth. One of the key issues is the location of Lendhalen. The directors of Lendhalen, Pla'kao and Pla'mak, believe that the locations of Interventionist training bases must be kept secret from the pek. This belief arose because of the fact that some Interventionist bases have been quickly and efficiently eliminated.

The truth is, it has never been possible for the Buld to keep secret the location of the bases where they train human agents. Such training facilities are allowed to operate as long as the Interventionists are playing the role that is desired by the Huaoshy. What the Huaoshy object to is Interventionists who try to undermine on-going efforts to keep primitives like the people of Earth unaware of the existence of the Huaoshy.

During the past 10,000 years, the greatest danger for Buld Interventionists has been the continual possibility that a group of true revolutionaries will arise at places like Lendhalen, revolutionaries who could start to disrupt the plans of the Huaoshy. This has happened many times, most recently in the Koly star system about 1,000 years ago.

16th century England becomes a hotbed for Interventionism
After the previous training base in the Koly star  system was eliminated, Pla'kao and Pla'mak established Lendhalen and for the past 500 years they have been very effective at training Interventionist agents with the result that the English-speaking people of Earth came to play an important role in the scientific and technological development of Earth.

One of the keys to the success of Pla'kao and Pla'mak has been their lifestyle as Pla. As described in Chapter Two of Exode, the Pla must periodically undergo a "partial change". They must auto-fertilize and allow most of the cells in their bodies to be replaced. Although not all of their brain cells are replaced, this greatly disrupts their memories and after a "partial change" a Pla individual must undergo extensive re-education. Pla'kao and Pla'mak have been careful to alternate their cycles of going through "partial change" and they take turns re-educating each other so that their strategies and methods do not significantly change through the centuries.

Center: Parthney's residence while at Klyz.
Pla'kao went through "partial change" about two years before Gwyned arrived at Lendhalen. Gwyned's description of recent events on Earth (she left Earth in 1964) startled Pla'mak and so Pla'kao has been re-educated under conditions that make her believe that the Earthlings have become a serious danger to themselves. Thus, Parthney is trained for his mission to Earth while Pla'mak and Pla'kao are in disagreement about what is best for the people of Earth and, in particular, if the effort to advance scientific and technological development on Earth has been pushed along too quickly by the Interventionists.

Klyz Teleportation Hub
While at Lendhalen, Parthney begins to wonder if he will live out the rest of his life on Earth. He is told by Pla'mak that most Interventionist agents on Earth are captured by the Overseers. Gwyned explains to Parthney that the Fru'wu have teleportation technology; she was teleported off of Earth (to part of the Klyz community, see below) and then later teleported to Lendhalen. Parthney believes that when he is on Earth, if he ever comes to the attention of the Overseers then he will be able to teleport off of Earth.

Belinda Tement
In fact, working conditions for Interventionist agents on Earth are quite different from what the Buld Interventionists suspect. The Fru'wu interventionists make use of the Buld to supply humans who are teleported first to a Fru'wu base (Klyz), not to Earth. Upon reaching Klyz, Parthney believes that he is already on Earth. There is a community of humans from Earth who reside at Klyz where they are debriefed and where they provide instruction about their future duties on Earth to new arrivals like Parthney. Further, the Fru'wu infect the brains of new arrivals with Fru'wu nanites. The human residents of Klyz never actually meet any Fru'wu, but at Klyz there are artificial life forms of Fru'wu design who pretend to be Fru'wu.

At Klyz Parthney is paired with one of the artificial life forms who will be teleported to Earth along with Parthney and who functions as his assistant while Parthney is on Earth. The Fru'wu have been working to introduce into the population of Earth some gene combinations that will allow Earthlings to survive the dangers inherent in advanced technology and the coming contact with the Buld spaceship that is on its way to Earth. While at Klyz, Parthney is trained to be aggressive in seeking out opportunities to advance this Fru'wu agenda. While on Earth Parthney's activity attracts the attention of an Overseer using the identity Belinda Tement.

1554: Jane is teleported to Klyz
The pek have designed human brains to function in two different modes. Most human brains have existed in a type of symbiotic relationship with pek nanites. In this mode humans are predisposed to tribalism and religious faith. In the absence of pek nanites humans are able to think creatively about tool use and the invention of new tools and technologies. Humans with no pek nanites in their brains are unable to understand what drives other humans towards "group think" and faith in the supernatural.

Among the first in England to have very low levels of pek nanites were Henry VIII and Jane Grey. Contrary to later constructed legend, Jane was not executed: after being dethroned she was teleported to Klyz and then subsequently resided at Lendhalen for the rest of her life.

After attaining gene combinations in Earthlings that made their brains resistant to infection by pek nanites, the Fru'wu continued to seek additional beneficial gene combinations. In particular, they wanted to produce Earthlings who would be genetically predisposed towards ethical behavior. Parthney is engaged in the pursuit of this goal when he is discovered by Overseers, captured and then taken to Observer Base on the Moon. The Fru'wu take this opportunity to infiltrate Observer Base and ultimately Parthney is teleported back to Klyz.

Jan 24, 2013

Pla'mak and Pla'kao

Pla'mak
Exode
Pla'mak and Pla'kao are the masterminds behind the training base for Interventionist agents at Lendhalen. For thousands of years they have taken pains to conceal the existence of their on-going contact and collaboration with the alien Fru'wu. The Fru'wu Interventionists are nervous about the possibility of provoking the pek, so they are careful about not revealing too much about themselves to the Pla.

Pla'mak and Pla'kao only know their Fru'wu contact by the code name "Fru'munu" and they have never actually seen the physical form of the Fru'wu species. Pla'mak and Pla'kao have learned from Fru'munu that the Fru'wu are aware of on-going changes at the Observer Base on Earth's Moon. Overseer activity on Earth has been in decline and the Fru'wu suspect that Observer Base will be closed when the Buld reach Earth. A Buld spaceship is almost in the Sol star system after its 15,000 year long trip to Earth from the Galactic Core.

When Parthney has completed training as the most recent Interventionist agent from the Koly star system, he is teleported to Earth. In the past, Interventionist agents sent to Earth arrived unconscious and were never told about teleportation. Parthney is the first agent sent to Earth with knowledge of how teleportation allows for travel from Earth to Lendhalen (Gwyned tells him). How the Buld came to have access to teleportation technology is a rather long story.

The Origin of Interventionists
banded iron formation
The story if interventionism goes back almost 1,000,000,000 years to when the Huaoshy were first spreading between the stars of their home galaxy. At first, the Huaoshy were eager to make contact with other technologically advanced life forms on other planets. In their travel from star to star the Huaoshy made gruesome discoveries: the dead remnants of once glorious civilizations. Caution began to seem wise...the Huaoshy had to wonder: was there something waiting in space, some eager force that would snuff out a growing technological culture like their own?

Eventually the Huaoshy did have contacts with other sapient species on other worlds, but with disastrous consequences. When the Huaoshy tried to help bring the other species out of their condition of primitive barbarism, invariably, everything went wrong. Slowly, the Huoashy realized that they had been lucky to survive their own technological adolescence. Most technology-wielding species manage to find a way to destroy themselves. The Huaoshy view the attainment of a technological culture by biological species in roughly the same way we view the transition of a planet from a reducing to an oxidizing atmosphere. There is always the danger that biological species will not survive such a dramatic environmental change, but if you want advanced lifeforms then you are willing to make that transition and take the risk.

Early Huaoshy efforts to intervene in the cultural development of other species always met with disaster, so the Huaoshy began to develop a new ethical code. Fundamental to those ethical precepts is the idea that primitive species must be protected from knowledge of their comparative primitiveness. In their spread from galaxy to galaxy, the Huaoshy reached Earth 7,000,000 years ago, but the Huaoshy have been careful to prevent Earthlings from becoming aware of the fact alien visitors have been watching over Earth for millions of years.

The Huaoshy learned that by slow and careful domestication it is possible to craft life forms that are compatible with advanced technology. Across thousands of galaxies and hundreds of millions of years the Huaoshy have helped many species merge into a vast intergalactic Genesaunt community. Thousands of these Genesaunt species have subsequently transcended their physical form and become artificial life forms like the Huoashy themselves. For the Huaoshy, their ethical code neatly accommodates the presence of Interventionists within Genesaunt culture.

1947: Gwyned's family moves to Australia
Since the earliest formation of Genesaunt civilization there have been biological life forms that resisted the conventional Huaoshy path to transcendence by way of an hermaphroditic end stage of biological existence. This minority faction that has always resisted the conventional Huaoshy path of social development has become known as the Interventionists. The name is misleading in that it might lead some to imagine that the Huaoshy do not intervene into the affairs of primitive cultures, but the truth is that the Huaoshy only try to make primitives believe that the Huaoshy do not intervene in their affairs.

Over the course of millions of years, the Huaoshy found that a stable Genesaunt civilization and the most efficient facilitation of the long-term survival of sapient species is achieved by allowing for a system of counterbalanced Overseers and Interventionists. If the Interventionist agents working on Earth become too bold in their efforts then the Overseers will notice their presence and capture them.

The Nereids long ago brought some Fru'wu to the Andromeda galaxy. 15,000 years previously the Nereids provided those Fru'wu with a spaceship that was equipped for faster-than-light travel. Those Fru'wu visited our galaxy and helped the Buld acquire the technological means to make their own spaceships, however, the Buld spaceships can not travel faster than the speed of light. The Fru'wu visited Earth and occasionally brought humans to Earth, thus beginning the practice of sending human Interventionist agents to Earth.

Overseer
About 10,000 years ago the Fru'wu decided that the Buld could be trusted to directly teleport human Interventionist agents to Earth. The Fru'wu had placed a teleportation target on Earth about 15,000 years ago and they now gave its transmission code to trusted Buld. The Buld in the Koly star system received the code about 5,000 years ago and became quite efficient at training Interventionist agents about 1,000 years ago. During the past 500 years no other star system in the Galactic Core has had as strong an influence on the pace of cultural development on Earth.

Parthney's Mission to Earth
When it is time for Parthney to go to Earth, the Fru'wu want to find out what the Overseers are planning to do when the Buld arrive on Earth. Previously, the Fru'wu managed to capture an Overseer. Now, the Fru'wu want to intercept an Overseer on the way to the Moon and use the Overseer as cover for a spy mission that will reveal the secrets of Observer Base. There is an Overseer who has been spending a large amount of time on Earth (using the cover identity "Belinda Tement"). Fru'munu suggests to Pla'mak and Pla'kao that it might be possible to use Parthney as "bait" to lure that Overseer into a trap. Parthney is sent off to Earth not knowing how he might be used by the Fru'wu.

Jan 20, 2013

Time Warp

The events in Chapter One of Exode all take place within a 24 hour period, the day when Parthney abandons his life on the world where he was born, Hemmal. Chapter Two describes Parthney's journey from Hemmal to the nearby planet Oib, a trip that only takes a couple of days. Counted in Earth time, Parthney is 18 years old when he leaves Hemmal.

Chapter Three of Exode encompasses four years of Parthney's life, the years during which he is trained for his mission to Earth. Jack Vance's novel Araminta Station starts with a similar chronology. The main character, Glawen, is 16 years old at the start of the story. The first two chapters (147 pages) describe Araminta Station on the planet Cadwal as well as Glawen's budding romance with Sessily Veder and her mysterious disappearance. The first six pages of Chapter III outline the next three years of Glawen's life: time spent by Glawen in his studies at the Araminta Station Lyceum and in training as a cadet in the local police force.

Gwyned Iwedon
As is the case for the first section of Chapter III in Araminta Station, the first pages of Chapter Three in Exode must mesh with the events that brought the end of the "innocent years" of the protagonist's early life. Parthney arrives at Lendhalen, the secret base of the Buld revolutionaries who have liberated themselves from their pek masters. Most of the elements of Pathney's past life begin to fade away, including his rather bumbling romantic adventures with Reginal, Muchlo, and Pla'va. At Lendhalen, Leymaygn and Gwyned teach Parthney to read and write and also how to use musical notation. Parthney is fascinated by the musical instruments of Earth, but repulsed by the more dreary aspects of life on Earth: hunger, disease, crime and war.

After Parthney has lived for three years at Lendhalen he is seriously considering the possibility of living out the rest of his life there and never going to Earth. The co-directors of Lendhalen, Pla'mak and Pla'kao, must reveal more than they would like to Parthney about the dangers facing the people of Earth. It is 1970, Earth is struggling with an exploding population, pollution, and a nuclear arms race.

Earth
For seven million years the Overseers have guided the course of primate evolution on Earth. The people of Earth have never known that alien visitors arrived on Earth long ago, but now a Buld spaceship is nearing Earth after a 15,000 year long journey from the Galactic Core. Pla'mak and Pla'kao inform Parthney that if the Buld make contact with the Earthlings then the Overseers might abandon their management of Earth. Parthney is led to wonder: could humanity survive on its own or might human civilization self-destruct, as happened to the alien Fru'wu? By explaining that events on Earth are reaching a critical juncture Pla'mak and Pla'kao manage to rekindle Parthney's desire to go to Earth.

At the end of Chapter Three, Parthney must say goodby to Gwyned. He likes the idea she return with him to Earth where they could work together as Interventionist agents, but she is left behind at Lendhalen, still struggling to make sense of the alien technology that has been given to the Buld. Gwyned makes Parthney promise that if he ever has the chance to liberate someone like herself from Earth he will do so, even if he would personally prefer to do otherwise. She offers her opinion, "Earth is giant mistake, a world of the half-living...you owe it to yourself, for the sake of your own sanity, to aid anyone who wants to get out."

So Chapter Three must have two lengthy time warps, one jumping over most of Pathney's first three years at Lendhalen and another over his final phase of training. Parthney matures dramatically and goes through many changes during his years living at Lendhalen. The care-free days of his youth are put behind him and he leaves for Earth with many doubts and great apprehension, having been informed that he has a good chance of being recognized and captured by Overseers soon after his arrival on Earth. So great is that risk that he is not even told how he will reach Earth so that he cannot reveal that secret if he is identified as an Interventionist agent and captured.

Poster
The Exode poster, above, is having some fun with an old James Bond poster (image to the right). Since Parthney arrives on Earth from Oib (so he thinks; he never knows the true location of the Lendhalen training base) I put in an image of Earth. The woman at the computer terminal is meant to be Hana. Like Gwyned, Hana is a physicist. Parthney uses the name "Henry Montpellier" during some of his time on Earth, in particular, at the time when he reveals his true identity to Hana and then teleports her away from Earth.

In the original poster, I suppose that the woman behind Bond is meant to be Daniela Bianchi, in the role of a soviet intelligence agent who is used to lure Bond into a trap. In Exode, Parthney must duel with an Overseer who lives on Earth using the name Belinda Tement. Belinda's search for the source of new gene combinations that have been appearing on Earth leads her to Hana's son. Belinda befriends Hana and ultimately captures Parthney, taking him to the Observer Base on the Moon. The woman standing in the background beside Parthney is meant to be Overseer Tement.

Jan 19, 2013

Exode Back Cover

At the end of 2012 I made the first draft of a front cover for Exode. I've now made a back cover and a blurb that could go just inside the front cover of a print version of the novel.

For back cover images I used the images from Chapter Two. These images depict Parthney and Pla'va when they are approaching the planet Oib.

For the inner blurb I tried to weave together Hemmal, the pek, Prelands, the Creators, Earthlings, the Buld Clan, Kach, Parthney and the Nereids:

Exode - change your world...or else!
On Hemmal there were four types of people: the alien pek, a shape shifting artificial lifeform; the hermaphroditic Prelands, newly crafted by the Creators as the desired replacement of the barbaric Earthlings; the Buld Clan, engineered to have an extra chromosome that makes them suited for travel between the stars; and two mutant Buld, Kach and Parthney, genetically identical to Earthlings, but born 15,000 light years from Earth. Everyone has plans for Earth...the pek, the Buld, the alien Nereids, but do any of them care if humanity is erased, replaced, forgotten? Kach and Parthney, two false Buld, reached Earth in a last minute attempt to save the human species from elimination...but why bother? After all, aren't humans defective and obsolete? Wouldn't Earth be better off if it was populated by Prelands rather than Humanity? Could Kach and Parthney help the Earthlings change their world -change themselves- or was it simply time to get away, escape from Earth before the Creators swept the human species from the planet, the superseded humans neatly replaced by Prelands?


________________________________________________
Would it make sense to the average reader to have the Prelands described as hermaphrodites and then see the term "thon" applied to the Prelands, replacing "he" in the famous saying, "We have met the enemy and he is us"?

The Prelands are "humans, version 2.0", they are like we Earthlings (we barbaric Earthlings) only better: designed by the Creators to have a chance of surviving in a technological civilization.

I'm currently writing Chapter Three of Exode which describes how Parthney finally achieves a reasonable understanding of Earth and the primitive conditions under which humans live there. Parthney arrives for training at Lendhalen with a very naive view of Earth. While on Hemmal Parthney heard stories about Earth from Yandrey, stories that filled Parthney's imagination with ideas about what it might be like to live on a planet full of other humans. But then, while at Lendhalen, the more Parthney learns about Earth the less enthusiastic he is about going to live there. As Pla'va tried to warn him, "It is a terrible place, full of war and disease and death."

While living at Lendhalen, Parthney is trained by two Buld, Vozgrow and Leymaygn, and a human from Earth, Gwyned Iwedon. Vozgrow and Leymaygn are similar to Yandrey; they are ancient Buld who have lived for thousands of years. Vozgrow and Leymaygn have vast experience gained from studying Earth and training Interventionist agents like Parthney. Gwyned lived on Earth for 25 years then, when given the chance, took her opportunity to leave Earth and join Genesaunt culture at the Galactic Core.

image source
Gwyned is vastly more sophisticated than Parthney, who can't even read when he arrives at Lendhalen. Gwyned was doing research in plasma physics when she decided to leave Earth. At Lendhalen she is studying Buld spaceship technology and trying to apply modern scientific knowledge from Earth to understand Buld spaceship propulsion.  One thing that Gwyned and Parthney have in common is a love for music.

Guiding the training of Parthney for his mission to Earth are two Pla, Pla'kao and Pla'mak, who have begun to question the entire Interventionist plan for accelerating cultural development on Earth. Gwyned has brought word of the thermonuclear arms race on Earth (she leaves Earth in 1964). Pla'kao and Pla'mak have long been collaborating with the Fru'wu to to prepare Earth for the impending arrival of a Buld spaceship. However, by making it possible for Earthlings to develop a technological civilization will Earth face the same fate as the Fru'wu home world? As if the danger of nuclear war is not bad enough, Gwyned brings an additional warning about increasing levels of carbon dioxide on Earth. The Pla begin to realize that Earth is between a rock and a hard place. Is there no way to save the Earthlings from a technological disaster?

Apocalypse New

It is 1967 when Parthney arrives at Lendhalen
Long ago, before the arrival of the pek in our galaxy, the Fru'wu became a space-faring species. The budding interstellar civilization of the Fru'wu was destroyed by a technological disaster: nanites gone out of control. The pek managed to preserve and culture some Fru'wu on worlds of the Galactic Core. Similarly, the Nereids took some Fru'wu to the Andromeda galaxy where a distinctive Fru'wu civilization grew. It is these descendants of the original Fru'wu that have since come in contact with the Buld and participated in the development of the means by which human Interventionists like Parthney are sent to Earth.

Pla'kao and Pla'mak are the two Buld who have contact with the Fru'wu. Their Fru'wu contact is known as Fru'munu. Fru'munu hints to Pla'kao and Pla'mak that Parthney is needed on Earth for a special mission in advance of the immanent arrival of the Buld spaceship in the Sol system.

Jan 13, 2013

2012 - The Year in Blogging

Dr. Wye - Contact Television Series
Back in 2010 I had a "year in review" blog post. In 2012 I had a record number of blog posts for one calendar year and I have been thinking that it would be fun to take a look back. I'm feeling a personal need to look back because of the dramatic shift in my blogging between 2011 and 2012. In 2011 I was very busy outside the blogosphere and only managed 7 blog posts during the summer of 2011. I was a welcome relief to get back to writing fiction during 2012, so this blog post celebrates that return!

Facts and figures
In the first 365 days of this blog (April 2009 to March 2010) I had over 80 blog posts. In 2012 I made 60 posts to this blog. However, during 2012 I was also posting to three other related blogs: Exode, Exodemic and The Encyclopedia of Future Science.

Parthney and Pla'va
Also, during the past year the average number of words in my blog posts has been more than three times greater than for my posts during the first year of this blog, resulting in a total of nearly 100,000 words blogged here in 2012.

Topics and time frames
During the second half of 2012 I became increasingly involved with creating a new science fiction novel, Exode.

Earlier in the year, it was my addiction to fan fiction that got me back to writing fiction.

In March of 2012 I had a series of posts devoted to a new fan fiction project: the Contact television series. Other fiction writing projects of smaller scale were also fan fiction projects, such as my first of 2012...

2012 Part 1
2012 Part 1 - Winter - 9 posts
I started 2012 with fond thoughts about the science fiction of Jack Vance. I was a ticking fan fiction time bomb and before the year was out I surrendered my dignity and sketched out some ideas for a sequel to The Book of Dreams and a fan fiction sequel to another Jack Vance novel, Marune: Alastor 933.

However, before defiling Vance's work, my first descent into fan fiction was a sequel to Assignment Nor'Dyren  by Sydney Van Scyoc.

In early March of 2012 I briefly brought my fan fiction disease under control and my thoughts turned to the first story I ever wrote that is set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. One of my favorite blog posts from the winter of 2012 is "Plato's Cave" which provides an account of why I think "exodemic" style stories are so much fun.

"I'd love to see 2012 be the start of a time of protest during which consumers refused to buy video games, see SciFi movies and buy science fiction novels that have the same tired plots." (source)


March Madness
2012 Part 2 - Contact Television series
In my own version of "March Madness" I finally broke down and had some fun imagining a television series that could be a sequel to Carl Sagan's science fiction film Contact.

I never liked the idea that Dr. Arroway could meander off through a bunch of "worm holes", meet some mysterious aliens at the center of the galaxy then magically re-appear back on Earth at the exact instant she began her journey to the center of the galaxy. Instead, I imagine that the alien-inspired "machine" secretly inserted nanoscopic devices into Ellie's brain. Those nanites provided Ellie with false memories about a trip through space to visit aliens who appear in the form of her long dead father. All the worm hole mumbo jumbo is intended to cover up the fact that "aliens" are already right here on Earth.

I'm constantly wondering if it is wise to write members of the Huaoshy "species" into stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. For Contact, I decided to include o'Seriat, a Huaoshy who takes human form and is not recognized as being an alien. Other mysterious characters include an artificial lifeform that takes the form of Shizue, a Hadden Industries employee. My favorite character is Dr. Wye, an Interventionist agent. I was particularly "evil" and even wrote Carl Sagan into the story!

Hadden is a tool of the Interventionists, long having had alien nanites in his body. The television series begins right where the movie ended and Ellie, still suffering "side effects" from her time in the "Machine" is under the care of Dr. Zelter, an Overseer. The "side effects" are caused by the alien nanites that have invaded Ellie's brain. By exploring how to adapt Contact to the Exodemic Fictional Universe I was able to shift my thinking in the direction of having more active role for Interventionists on Earth, and I later ended up going that way in Exode. Also, I talked myself into using long-distance teleportation as a plot element in Exode.

Contact: Coda is now the most visited blog post!

One of the fun blog posts during "March Madness" was a look back at images from this blog. I'm now up to 720 images for this blog! Here are some more images from 2012 (and there is a more extensive image gallery at the end of this blog post):
2012 Part 3
2012 Part 3 - Spring + Summer
After I had gotten the initial ideas for a Contact Television Series out of my system, I started a new original science fiction story (Exode) and returned to a more leisurely pace of blogging. In April I decided that I should launch The Encyclopedia of Future Science. I ended up with that blog and the Exodemic blog both of which have been useful adjuncts to this blog. One of the fun blog posts from 2012 at the "encyclopedia" website is called "The Gods Thonselves" and it explores the relationship between the Huaoshy and primitive creatures like we Earthlings. I decided that I should explore the god-like nature of the Huaoshy in Exode.

Starting in May I had a series of blog posts about science fiction films in 2012. During this time I was drafting ideas for Exode at the Exodemic blog. None of those early draft chapters went live and I eventually decided to start the Exode blog for that new novel.

In June I had a blog post with a challenge: justify the continued existence of Humanity. Other posts from summer that contained thoughts stimulated by Exode include "Death and Destruction" and "Slavery in Science Fiction". In "Death and Destruction" I was struggling with the question of what to do with an Exode character. I wondered if I should kill Hana's husband, but I later decided that he must have a central role in Exode.

When I wrote "Slavery and Science Fiction" I was struggling with the construction of the main character in Exode, Parthney. He starts out as a rather naive boy who does not question the conditions of his existence, but the more he learns about his world the more he is forced to wonder if he is just a puppet...or, worse, a slave. If your choice is between living as a content slave or not living at all, is it best to be a slave?

I've been heavily influenced by Star Trek, so it was fun to list 10 TOS episodes that are among my favorites and describe how they could be fit into the Exodemic Fictional Universe.

Near the end of summer I took a look back at the past 50 years of planetary exploration.

2012 - Part 4

2012 Part 4 - Exode
During the last part of 2012 I was highly focused on Exode. By early September I had decided on the aliens that are in Exode: the Fru'wu and the Nereids.

During 2012 one of the major advances in imaginary "future technology" was clarification in my thinking about nanite technology. Even if conventional nanites seem small, it is possible to imagine even smaller devices composed of non-convention matter.

In 2012 I got the latest version of the DAZ Studio software and made some rendered images for Exode. I was particularly interested in crafting a near-human appearance for the Prelands.

During the last quarter of 2012 I had many blog posts that allowed me to explore the settings and characters of Exode. For example, the first chapter of the story (Muchlo's Secret) takes place on the planet Hemmal in the Koly star system. The biological and cultural differences between humans, the Buld and the other Prelands were all defined during the second half of 2012.

At the end of 2012 I updated the header for this blog. Given my current focus on Exode, it seemed appropriate to use a header image that was inspired by Parthney and Kach and their trips to Earth.

In my last blog post of 2012 I discussed a first draft image for the cover of Exode. Since this novel is being constructed in electronic format it seems strange to think in terms that are appropriate for a printed book, but it is fun to create illustrations. On my "to do" list for early 2013 is the "back cover" illustration and blurbs about the story.

Below are more images from blog posts in 2012.

2012 - Image Gallery


Robots of Lendhalen

by Sabine Vogel
I've been sketching in details about the people who prepare Parthney for his mission to Earth. Parthney's training as an Interventionist agent is the subject of Chapter Three in Exode. For previous stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe the Interventionist agents have simply appeared on Earth and gone about their duties. Providing a detailed account of where Interventionists come from was one of my major goals for Exode.

Parthney spends nearly four years in training, learning to read and write and discovering how people live on Earth. During that time he only "interacts" with five other people: two Pla, two other Buld and one human from Earth. I put "interacts" in quotes because during his training Parthney has no nanites in his body and he does not come into physical contact with any source of nanites. The two Pla carry nanites in their bodies so they only communicate with Parthney by electronic communications. The other two Buld, like Parthney, have been cleansed of nanites. They live in the same small community with Parthney and a woman from Earth named Gwyned Iwedon. The Buld call this isolated little community "Lendhalen", meaning, in the ancient Buld language, roughly "tamed spring"; a name applied long ago with the intention that good things would hopefully flow from a place where people could live without interference from nanites. The exact location of Lendhalen is never revealed to Parthney; it has gravity like Earth's but since the Buld have technology that allows them to modulate gravity, Lendhalen might be anywhere in the Koly star system.

apologies to Cornelia Klimek
  and Liz Watt
In addition to the four human residents, there are some robots living in Lendhalen. These robots are of Buld manufacture, but they are not very sophisticated compared to the artificial lifeforms that Parthney has lived among his entire life: the pek. For the past 20,000 years the Buld of Oib have been slowly developing the ability to make complex devices. Initially they worked to build spaceships and by 15,000 years ago they had copied and come to understand much of the spaceship technology that had been originally provided to the Buld Clan by the pek. Originally developed as part of the Buld spaceship technology, they have the means to generate artificial gravity. A major limitation on the pace of Buld science and technology has been the small number of Buld scientists and engineers.

About 10,000 years ago the Buld learned how to make space elevators that were strong enough to lift people off of Oib. As was the case for Buld spaceship technology, Buld understanding of space elevators was possible because they could study and copy the space elevators installed by the pek on worlds like Hemmal.

Another major technology development project of the Buld has been the creation of humanoid robots. The Buld science of robotics reached its peak about 5,000 years ago when it became possible for them to manufacture humanoid robots that could comfortably live among the Buld as servants. It is not difficult to distinguish between these robots and people, but they have proven useful, particularly as assistants for those Buld who choose to live without the conveniences provided by pek nanites.

During the past 5000 years no star system of the Galactic Core has sent more humans to Earth than the Koly system. This productivity in recruiting and training Interventionist agents within the Koly system can be attributed to the strong influence if the Pla and their efficient utilization of humanoid robots. Not all of these robots take human form. Some Buld keep robotic pets that usually take the form of mammals like cats.

During the past 500 years the Interventionist agents from the Koly system have had unusually good luck avoiding capture by Overseers. This has been attributed to the fact that the Koly system has been provided with a fairly steady stream of humans from Earth. Occasionally the  Interventionist agents who are working on Earth teleport an Earthling off of Earth. All three of the Interventionist teleporters on Earth transmit to the main Interventionist base of the Fru'wu. The Fru'wu can greatly influence the final destination of these humans who arrive in the Galactic Core from Earth (see Klyz). In most cases the Fru'wu send these displaced Earthlings on to places like the Koly system where they can help train Interventionist agents for survival on Earth.

photoshop some eyes
Before Parthney arrives at Lendhalen for training, Gwyned has already been living there for three years. During that time, Gwyned has been "debriefed" by the Buld. For Interventionists, such debriefings are the main source of information about conditions on Earth. Gwyned had formed a kind of "family" with the Buld and the robots of Koly, but she is more than anxious for human companionship when Parthney arrives. However, she quickly dismisses Parthney as an ignorant and chubby kid. Also, due to her unusual parents, Gwyned is almost like a different species than Parthney, so they are not physically attracted to each other.

Jan 12, 2013

Mission to Andromeda

apology to Mr-Kelvin
I previously revealed some of the secret history of humanity such as the fact that Kach is sent to Earth by the Nereids. Kach and Parthney are the two main characters in Exode. The story Exode takes place in our time, but the story was set in motion long ago. The Nereids are a humanoid species that originated on a planet in the Andromeda galaxy. Closer to home and with a more intimate relationship to humans are the alien Fru'wu. After 10,000 years of helping to develop a technological civilization on Earth, the Fru'wu are nervous that humanity might face the same fate as the Fru'wu: the self-destruction of their home world in a technological disaster.

However, it is not at all clear why the budding civilization if the Fru'wu home world came to an end. The subgroup of Fru'wu who are collaborating with the human Interventionists have received a helping hand from another Fru'wu population that was "cultured" by the Nereids on a planet in the Andromeda galaxy. The surviving Fru'wu have no first hand knowledge about the cause of the destruction of the Fru'wu civilization on their home planet.

Did the Fru'wu home world destroy itself or was it pushed into oblivion by the Nereids? Are the Nereids now pushing human civilization on Earth towards destruction?

Fru'wu
The Buld have had contact with three different groups of Fru'wu:

1) The first contact with Fru'wu that is recorded in Buld written history occurred about 20,000 years ago, but oral tradition and myths of the human population of the Galactic Core suggests that there were even earlier contacts. Shortly after that first recorded contact, the Pla came into existence as a group of Buld who were free from the influence of pek nanites. Among the Buld, belief developed that these "first Fru'wu" were from the Fru'wu home planet and that they were free of pek influences. That period of first contact was of short duration.

2) About 15,000 years ago a new group of Fru'wu came into contact with the Buld. These Fru'wu had been "cultured" by the pek on worlds of the Galactic Core, much like the Buld. It is these Fru'wu who were able to share with the Buld the location of Earth. With Fru'wu assistance, the Buld learned how to build a spaceship and send it to Earth, a journey that would take about 15,000 years (traveling at just below the speed of light). Among the Buld, a common belief is that the location of Earth had also been given to the Buld at first contact with the Fru'wu. According to legend, this sharing of information had angered the pek who then destroyed the budding civilization of the Fru'wu home world. Fearing punishment by the pek, these "second Fru'wu" have secretly maintained a working relationship with the Pla for the past 15,000 years.

Nereid
3) About 10,000 years ago a third group of Fru'wu came into contact with the Buld. Long ago, some Fru'wu had been taken to the Andromeda Galaxy by the Nereids. These Fru'wu in the Andromeda Galaxy developed their own unique culture and eventually arrived in our Galactic Core, traveling in an advanced spaceship that could travel faster than the speed of light. They went to Earth and installed a teleportation terminal that could be used to send humans from the Galactic Core to Earth. This is when a sustained program of human Intervention into the affairs of Earth began. Contact with these Fru'wu from the Andromeda galaxy has only been in the form of intermittent periods of short duration. Occasionally Fru'wu from the Andromeda galaxy arrive in our galaxy. Sometimes they take passengers back to the Andromeda galaxy, passengers who are never heard from again.

Exode is the story of the what happens when the Buld spaceship completes its 15,000 year journey to Earth. The first part of Exode tells the story of how Parthney goes to Earth as an Interventionist agent and is captured by Overseers. When Parthney is rescued and returned to the Galactic Core, he finally has his chance to meet the Fru'wu (Group #2, above) and learn about their concern that the 7,000,000 year old pek program of observing Earth will be terminated when the Buld reach Earth. Both the Observers and the Overseers will be removed from their secret base on the Moon, leaving the Earthlings to fend for themselves.

Oib
Worried that Earthly civilization might self-destruct, the Fru'wu have been trying to re-establish contact with the Nereids. The Fru'wu who have the FTL spaceship that can return to the Andromeda galaxy (group #3 above) report that during the past thousand years, the Fru'wu passengers from Earth's galaxy who have repeatedly tried to make contact with the Nereids were never heard from again. It is hoped that humans might more effectively plead the case for obtaining help from the Nereids. Parthney is invited to go to the Andromeda galaxy in an attempt to get help from the Nereids. Worried that he is not actually an Earthling and therefor not the best person to represent Humanity on this mission to make contact with the Nereids, Parthney suggests that an Earth human go along to the Andromeda galaxy. At this time, Hana is studying the Fru'wu and trying to understand Genesaunt civilization. Parthney and Hana, who met on Earth, are reunited, but Hana does not trust Parthney, believing that Parthney killed her husband.

While Parthney was in training for his mission to Earth, he lived with Gwyned Iwedon, an Earth woman, in the Koly system. He decides to ask Gwyned to go to the Andromeda galaxy. The Fru'wu (group #3, above, with a FTL spaceship) take Parthney back to the Koly star system, but fearing exposure and punishment of their Interventionist cell, the Pla who trained Parthney refuse to renew contact with him. Pla'va leads Parthney to Kach and soon Kach and her son Boswei are aboard the Fru'wu spaceship. Kach is very interested in trying to make contact with the Creators and she agrees to go to the Andromeda galaxy. Kach and Boswei have always been infected by pek nanites and their nanites can spread to other people. Hana's brain becomes infected by the type of pek nanites that are used on Hemmal. Pathney's brain also becomes re-infected.

pek: artificial lifeforms
Parthney re-establishes the type of cognitive resonance that he previously experienced with Kach when they first met on Hemmal. Kach informs Parthney that Boswei is his son.

Due to her genetic makeup, Hana was one of the rare humans on Earth with a brain that was not infected by the type of pek nanites used on Earth. Her freedom from nanites on Earth eventually led to her decision to leave Earth and it was Parthney who teleported her off of Earth. Now, in the Koly star system, Hana for the first time experiences nanite-mediated cognitive resonance with people. Hana and Boswei establish a particularly strong nanite-mediated cognitive connection.

This is the start of Part 2 of Exode. Parthney, Kach, Boswei, Hana, Steph and Muchlo are taken by the Fru'wu to the Andromeda galaxy where they hope to make contact with the Nereids. Will the Nereids act to help protect the people from Earth or are they perfectly satisfied to make Earthlings responsible for their own fate?

by Dony Tamazone
The Fru'wu express doubts about the wisdom of allowing the two pek (Muchlo and Steph) to come along to the Andromeda galaxy. Muchlo denies that the pek would ever try to speed the people of Earth towards destruction and blames the Nereids for interfering in the pace of technological development on Earth. Muchlo says it is up to the Nereids to decide if they will back off: they could still prevent the Buld from making first contact with Earth.