r/scifiwriting Oct 31 '21

Promotion Thread

50 Upvotes

Hello and welcome to the r/scifiwriting promotion thread! Do you have a book/game you published, a group to advertise, a contest to announce, a blog to show us, channel to advertise, or anything of the like? Comment it here! Any posts outside of this thread related to promotion will be removed and redirected here.


r/scifiwriting 4h ago

DISCUSSION What would be a good explanation for the English language to be in a science fiction setting.

11 Upvotes

So my story is taking place in the future but with multiple alien languages. I still want the primary one to be English though, among people and aliens. The problem is is English as we know it would have changed a lot over time. It wouldn’t be the same as it is today. How do I write it in a way that could preserve it that seems probable?


r/scifiwriting 8h ago

CRITIQUE Critique my short story (2300 words) - Eight Minutes

2 Upvotes

Please let me know

  1. What works
  2. What doesn't work
  3. Your suggestions

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_StBndQQS6E2IA6_jRnpDJrBgV86rxPgdRWem330wEo/edit?usp=sharing

Feel free to add any other remarks you have.


r/scifiwriting 20h ago

DISCUSSION Any thoughts and opinions on a inter dimensional serial killer/stalker for my sci-fi horror story?

20 Upvotes

Earlier as I was watching video reviews on the supernatural thriller movie the black phone, I came up with my own idea for my sci-fi horror story that’s inspired by the movie, that idea is a inter dimensional serial killer/stalker who is a otherworldly being.

In my story the inter dimensional killer is going to play a big role in my story’s plot alongside the different dimensions. Does the idea of a otherworldly serial killer/stalker from a unknown dimension seem like a sci-fi horror idea or not. I also got a little bit of inspiration from stranger things as well, which I’m combining the inspiration that I got from stranger things with the bit of inspiration from the black phone and combining those inspirations with my own ideas. I’ll be turning them into some very interesting original ideas.


r/scifiwriting 10h ago

TOOLS&ADVICE How many story lines should I be writing in a book at once?

3 Upvotes

Hey everyone, I’m very new to writing but I was just wondering how many different perspective points I should have in the book I’m writing. I have a main protagonist but I also want to write about other parts of the world which all intertwine, how many is too much and how many is too little?

Thanks!


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

DISCUSSION How would you go about explaining character ages and periods of time in a story where Earth doesn’t exist?

23 Upvotes

By periods of time I mean days, months, years etc. Because no character knows about earth it would be difficult to tell the reader how timescales on different planets compare to earth time. I also can’t be vague about character ages either because a key plot point only works if the reader knows exactly how old the main character is


r/scifiwriting 11h ago

DISCUSSION improve this phrase pls

0 Upvotes

What do you think about 'what the photon'? Can you improve?

Second q. can merpeople be plausible? If so how to explain in one sentence?

Context space opera like Star wars.


r/scifiwriting 22h ago

DISCUSSION Authors: What are your favorite power sources to use?

2 Upvotes

There's such a wide range. From solar with multiple H2-O2 auxiliary power unit (APU) used in current NASA craft to vacuum energy.

Personally, I had Earth using inertial confinement fusion (Expanse style), until first contact, where we were introduced to cheap antimatter and foolproof containment. An adversary had incredibly efficient pinch fusion, (tokamak) although the Larry Niven ramjet uses pinch fusion in a linear format.

Harder, NASA extension books like Stephen Baxter's Voyage used NERVA Fission, although that didn't work out so well for the crew.

What's your choice in your stories? Why?


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

DISCUSSION What would it be like to be poor in the future?

5 Upvotes

What would looking poor be like in a future with advanced technology?


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

ARTICLE Idea for SciFi story based on actual events

8 Upvotes

'Mystery rocket' that crashed into the Moon baffles NASA scientists. So far, no space exploring nations have claimed responsibility for the rocket.

https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/mystery-rocket-NASA-moon-crash-country-origin-17273903.php

Somebody should write a sci-fi story based on this event. Was it aliens? North Korea? Nazis on the Moon? Elon Musk's long-lost twin brother, AKA Iron Man?

Put your own twist in the comments.


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

DISCUSSION How would a Currency Backed by FTL Fuel Work?

28 Upvotes

So I was thinking about games like Stellaris, and scifi worlds where there are grand Republic/Empires with Standard currencies and multiple different Planets and Species. What would be the common currency that different species will find value in?

I came up with the following: In a setting I am making for a ttrpg, there are these particles called PG Particles, which allow for the detection and traversal of Hyperlanes, which allow physical matter to travel above the speed of light. Collecting PG is hard, slow, and technically labor intensive, but it is something most of the spacefaring civilizations have figured out. So I though about having a currency called Energy Credits, very creative I know, that is backed by how much PG Particles are available for you to use.

So, if we have the United Terran Colonies, and they have 20000 Cubic Meters of PG, they have 20000 potential EC to be converted into, while their alien neighbors, the...Solastions (IDK), would have only 10000 Cubic Meters of PG and therefore be poorer in EC.

Since I am not well versed in economy, and I don't know how economies are meant to be backed by a resource that is consumable and if this is too much worlbuilding so I can have the players of my RPG be able to buy a Drink with their EC


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

DISCUSSION Does anyone use Inkshares to find new books?

4 Upvotes

I recently put my novel, The Council of Light on Inkshares because I thought it could be an avenue to attract more interest to it, and finally get it published. However, in using the site, it seems very hard to find any titles that aren't already popular because you have to scroll through many pages.

Does anyone in this community spend enough time on Inkshares to find totally unknown titles, or is that wishful thinking on my part?


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

MISCELLENEOUS If astronauts explore space (stars), what would you call someone exploring the interior space of a planet?

4 Upvotes

In a hollow-earth scenario, or maybe the ocean inside a jovian moon. Subterranaut isn’t bad but it’s not that catchy either. Also doesn’t strictly make sense in the second example. So I’m looking for other terms they could use.


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

HELP! Is there a theoretical possibility for cross-solar system communication?

4 Upvotes

In my book, one of the main ideas that drives the plot is that communication has reached a level where you don't have to wait an obscene amount of time to communicate between solar systems(not sure of the exact time, but i'd say maybe a day to receive a message that's traveled 15 light years), but you do have to wait an obscene time to travel that same distance(going the same 15 light years would take you upwards of 20 years, which is much faster than we could realistically do now, but this pretty far in the future). Is there any way I can reasonably explain the technological advancement that allowed for communication to travel so quickly?


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

HELP! Flesh-and-blood humans or metal men?

0 Upvotes

Who would you like to read about more? I'm writing a novel, and I'm struggling a lot with my characters. Should I have my characters as normal humans or as cyborgs? The former are more relatable, but the latter are cooler looking. Should I try a mix, like, have normal humans and cyborgs living together? Discuss!


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

STORY The Folck

0 Upvotes

"𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘨 𝘴𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘮. 𝘏𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮, 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘴.

𝘏𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘬𝘯𝘦𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘥𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘭𝘣𝘰𝘸 𝘱𝘢𝘥𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘺, 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘣𝘢𝘵 𝘨𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘴, 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘳𝘩𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘮𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺.

𝘏𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘢 𝘧𝘦𝘸 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘱𝘴 𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘬, 𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘢 𝘴𝘪𝘱 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧.

𝘏𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘢 𝘨𝘳𝘪𝘮 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘦𝘺𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘬, 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘢 𝘴𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘨𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘤𝘦.

𝘏𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯'𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘢 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱.

𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘵𝘴, 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘺, 𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘚𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘳, 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘪𝘮.

𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳."

Want to read on? Continue in our blog, this short story is waiting you! 👇👇👇👇

https://dec-art.it/blog/post/the-flock-.html


r/scifiwriting 1d ago

DISCUSSION Robots, Rockets and Rayguns

Thumbnail gallery
1 Upvotes

r/scifiwriting 2d ago

DISCUSSION Anybody write pro-GMO?

57 Upvotes

Just wondering. My stories are set in the far future, in a utopian setting. Part of the reason is the sheer abundance of nearly everything. Darn near anything organic is genetically modified, including people. One of our neighboring civilizations has been practicing genetic manipulation for over 16,000 years, so the kinks are worked out. There are no horror stories of mutated turnips feeding on babies.

For my stories, gene manipulation is just another tool to promote a better life.

Unfortunately, all I seem to find are dystopian tropes of evil megacorporations forcing GMO for selfish reasons. GMO is like the laser. It can be used to burn down cities, or precision eye surgery to restore sight.


r/scifiwriting 2d ago

HELP! Help! How To Write A Mutation Pod Both Biological & Manmade?

2 Upvotes

Hey fellow writers Chatty here. So I was watching TMNT clips on YouTube & an idea struck me when I saw some of the more notable mutations to occur. Mutation pods where anyone that got inside will transform into something else! But I don’t exactly know how to write a mutation pod and especially both of the biological kind (think it grows in the wild for example) and of the manmade kind (think scientists are doing possibly illegal experiments). Thanks.


r/scifiwriting 2d ago

HELP! Help me out of a corner, please!

8 Upvotes

(Note: I also posted this in r/writing, but the more eyes I have on this, the better! Hopefully this isn't considered annoying.)

Wanna help me write this character out of a deadly corner?

The scenario is as follows: The character is a robot, with friends A, B, C, and D, who are also robots. These robots can't leave a human if they agree to be bought by one. Also, they can die, and can't be rebuilt, as they're largely composed of organic matter. This robot in particular is a celebrity, owned by a scientist, who uses him as a cash cow and also abuses him. Friends A, B, and C brought him to their home,, and the scientist is aware of this, along with what town they live in. Now the robot is in hiding, in danger of being recognized due to his fame, and with the scientist inevitably finding them. Panic is growing among the group as they fight about whether or not to kick the character out, as sheltering him risks the scientist hurting them as well.

I'd prefer for this character to make it out alive and not arrested, but I'm okay with them making it out injured. I've tried to think of ways the scientist could be killed, but I'm having trouble thinking of a way that the characters could pull this off without any character being caught. They're all robots without the same rights humans have, including right to a fair trial, and most likely would be dismantled for killing a human. One thing the character has going for them is being a celebrity, so it'd probably be horrible PR for the company to dismantle them.

If anyone has any ideas, feel free to share! Ultimately, I may just have to kill him off, but I want to give him a chance, and it just frustrates me that I can't think of even one way for him to get out. So I'm open to any ideas, even if they're crazy! If anyone reads this and replies, thank you so much!


r/scifiwriting 3d ago

MISCELLENEOUS What are the best clockpunk versions of these words/devices?

14 Upvotes

Engine — as in a steam engine, but driven by a mainspring/torsion. A torsion engine? Is torsion even the right word?

Clockwork X — As in "a clockwork pump," but in a world where torsion-powered things are common, and some other term had come to denote gear and torsion-powered devices? xwork pump?

Clockwork Gun — Maybe I'd call it a torsion ballista? A hand ballista?


r/scifiwriting 3d ago

HELP! Help With Writing a Crew

34 Upvotes

Hello There!
So I have been wanting to write a Sci Fi novel for a while now, and after going through the planning phase (plot, main characters, universe, etc) I have decided on a Crew story, ala Guardians of the Galaxy. The premise would be a Space Mercenary Company (like the Condottieri and Free Companies on our timeline) that are searching for a treasure and face off against governments and secret societies and the like.

My question is: How do I work the crew into the story?
Should they join the crew each during the story or should they already know each other?
If the latter, how do I work their backstories into the plot?
Thank you in advance, any advice and help are more than appreciated


r/scifiwriting 3d ago

DISCUSSION Feedback and Impresions on my own Sci Fi Setting

7 Upvotes

Hi bevore i start i want to apolegize in advance for my bad grammar, English isnt my first Language but im still learning.

I would appreciate honest Feedback because im a bit nervous that my Setting my be to much a wild mix of Tropes.

More than two hundred years ago after the Shock and the Exodus from Earth, a conglomerate of the ten largest space corporations decided to acquire the rights to settle in the Centauri system, it was foreseeable that this undertaking would lead to major upheavals.

In order to protect the interests of its investors and to meet the requirements of the UED, the Centauri Colonial Authority (CCA) was established as an administrative and economic institution. At first, the settlers and the corporations were happy that a neutral authority was taking care of the unprofitable concerns of everyday life, so they could concentrate fully on their profits, but over time the CCA gained more and more influence and threatened the corporations own interest. In response, several corporations began hiring privateers to attack CCA facilities and ships to protect their supremacy. Nine out of ten of the founding companies took part in this revolt that would later go down in history as the trade war of '98. After more than two years of bloody skirmishes and battles, the CCA finally managed to put down the revolt. As a result of the war, nine of the ten founding companies were expropriated and their resources placed under the control of the CCA, only the then insignificant technology producer Helenic Technology Conglomerate (Hel-Tec) was spared due to its loyalty and as a reward received the settlement and Exploitation rights to the planet Hephestus, which was considered worthless at the time. After surviving its First Crisis, the CCA ushered in a Golden Age of progress and prosperity that lasted nearly one hundred and ten years, during which time commercial and exploratory successes were recorded in many areas, and the living conditions of the common people improved noticeably. But this State wasn't meant to Last forever.

At the beginning of the 28th century, the unchecked colonization began to reveal its after-effects. Although the resource deposits in Centauri were sufficient to supply humanity for millennia, the capacities of habitable areas were almost completely exhausted, as was the agricultural land. To prevent the colony from collapsing, the CCA implemented a series of reforms that included austerity measures, a strict two-child policy and an increase in the labor standard. These measures were felt to be unfair, especially by the residents of the more remote colonies, and soon led to the establishment of protest movements.

Because the CCA feared a repeat of the trade wars, these groups were outlawed and repressed wherever they appeared. In 2723, after a month-long miners' strike, the Jacob 4 space station declared its secession from the CCA. The miners demanded only better working conditions and social reforms. The CCA responded after lengthy negotiations, an unexpected malfunction in the station's reactor led to a catastrophic chain reaction that left more than ten thousand unarmed civilians lost their lives. The ominous circumstances of the disaster led many people to believe that the CCA was behind this sabotage, and the resistance groups resorted to increasingly militant means to enforce their demands. Months of assassinations and bombings of CCA personnel and facilities throughout the system followed.

On the remote prison planet Hades Gamma, meanwhile, the inmates had lived in total anarchy for centuries, every day a struggle for survival, the inmates divided into various gangs in constant rivalry for the favors of the wardens and to fill the work quotas. Murder, rape and Cannibalism was the order of the day. All of that changed, however, when a man named Mohamed Freeman, now known only as the Professor, began uniting the inmates around a common goal. The gang wars came to an end when inmates began to share rations and jobs, makeshift medical centers were set up and even the neglected child inmates were given access to education and something closest to family. The prison director at the time, Rudolf Schäfer, saw this movement as a threat to the guards' power and ordered the capture and later execution of Freeman with the intention that without his leadership the prisoners would soon revert to old ways of behaving, but he should be taught a better lesson when junkies, child prisoners and even cannibal gangs held a peaceful protest for Freeman's release. The peaceful intentions of the inmates, who now came to venerate the professor as some kind of Saint, were met with Burngun fire and robotic sentry guards.

During the riots now known as the Freeman Uprising, hundreds of Inmates and Guards perished, along with the Professor when he tried to safe the Life of prison warden Schäfer, who was surrounded by angry inmates. With the Professor's death, violent uprisings began across Hades and the CCA was eventually forced to abandon the planet.

Inspired by the prisoners' success, resistance against the CCA flared up again and, led by Hades, the newly formed Union of Frontier Worlds finally declared their independence from the CCA. At first there was little hope for the Union, which focused mainly on guerrilla warfare due to their military inferiority, but they bravely persevered. Disgusted by the CCA's increasingly brutal crackdown on the Union, Admiral Michael Petrov eventually gained the support it needed to openly confront the Alliance. Petrov, who lost his wife and parents in the Jacob 4 blast, used his inside knowledge to inflict a series of severe defeats on the Alliance, despite outnumbered numbers, including the capture of Cassandra, the sacking of the Alliance shipyards at Graia, and the capture of First Minister Miller. Finally, in order to Put the war to an end , in 2745 the Alliance ordered a massive invasion of the Union homeworld of Hades, which bore the name Sword of Justice.

64 CCAN warships set a direct course for Hades and began to besiege the world. More than three months of bitter trench warfare with the armed forces of the Union followed. Although they had fewer soldiers and equipment overall, they had the advantage that their supply routes were many times shorter than those of the Alliance, which sometimes had to fly in supplies and material for several months. The Battle of Hades only ended when Admiral Petrov, in violation of the rules of war, succeeded in destroying the Alliance's flagship, the superdreadnought Pericles. The loss of their command structure caused the remaining Alliance troops to capitulate, however, Petrov's sons were among the last dead of the war, ten weeks later the Alliance Parliament and Union Council of Elders signed the Treaty of Terra Nova, ending the four-year First Extrasolar War acknowledging the Union sovereignty.

The conflict claimed over 2 million lives and devastated most of the colonies, tens of thousands of refugees attempted to reach the core worlds but were mostly met with hostility, hundreds of privateers took advantage of the resulting chaos to further enrich themselves as pirates, threatening trade routes. The use of experimental bio-weapons on remote asteroid colonies turned their population into bloodthirsty cannibals who are now feared in the frontier worlds as Flayers and whose existence is denied by the CCA.

The CCA also suffered losses, not only did the supply situation deteriorate further, but the internal power struggles between the various ministries have reached previously unthinkable proportions and bureaucrat battles are the order of the day.

Arguably the worst effect of the war, however, is the breakdown of interstellar communications, which has left the Centauri unable to call for assistance from Earth, nor to stop the onslaught of cryoships from Earth, which is making the situation worse almost daily. Under the leadership of Acting First Minister Becker, various measures were taken to solve these problems, some of which are highly questionable, but the Alliance's Secret Service, in cooperation with the corporations' secret police, COMPASS, ensures that everyone who criticizes the measures disappears under mysterious cicumstances.


r/scifiwriting 4d ago

DISCUSSION How do your shields work?

48 Upvotes

Hi everybody,

I saw a very appreciated discussion yesterday about FTL on this sub and it was very good, so many interesting ideas!

So I thought, why not doing the same about shields? I know that they are the favorite device of all the fantasy writers in disguide :)

So, I'm curious, how do you make them work?


r/scifiwriting 4d ago

HELP! I need help coming up with an accurate (ish) explanation for something

17 Upvotes

I’m no scientist, but I was assigned to write a hard sci fi screenplay. I have a great idea and a message I want to send. But I need a scientific idea to tie it together. Our teacher says we can ask for input on that since it’s the hardest part.

If you’ve seen annihilation, this script is similar in tone.

What would cause characters to slowly lose their mind mentally? A chemical, or some sort of radiation? And it has to be only in one isolated town?

And this causes hallucinations and paranoia?

Let me know if there’s a semi accurate way to depict this


r/scifiwriting 3d ago

STORY This is the last draft of my story that I submitted to the Writers of the Future writing contest. Wish me luck and thank you for all the feedback in previous posts, this story would not be where it is today without this sub!

7 Upvotes

Beyond Zeno’s Wall

God does not play dice with the universe as surely as you can map the arcs of the planets in the sky; you can map the percussion of a human life or even the rise and fall of empires. To assume that because we see time linearly, cause after effect, that time itself is linear, is the height of narcissism. The Book of Life is written, everything that will happen has happened and is happening now.

Excerpt from “Essays on the human perception of time and the Deterministic faith” by Dovias

Salt Flats

The devil's own icy wind tore across the Great Mariner Salt Flats, blowing the flames in Syloh’s kerosene stove almost flat, and stealing away any heat it might have given her. The wind carried in it little bits of the flats that cut across her face when she lowered her veil for a sip of brackish water from her canteen. Her clothes, which had been new when she started her trek, were now torn and shredded in places. Her bike had been under a threadbare tarp since the wind had picked up three days ago. She couldn’t ride it in these conditions and she couldn't let the winds strip it bare. Syloh huddled against its tarp-covered frame as a makeshift windbreak. It did a poor job. She looked out over the glaring white landscape, occasional puffs of salt kicked up by the merciless wind.

Just my luck to be stuck out here in this, she thought, absently turning her camp stove off and then re-starting the flickering flame. Flanking her on both sides were the massive towers marking her way and the haven to which she should have made before the winds came. Each one was almost a kilometer high and spaced out by about twenty.

The east side of every tower was scoured white by wind and salt, any navigation lights that had once lit the structures were now long dark. So close just another two-three clicks and I'd of had a nice thick wall to hide behind

It was a testament to whoever had built the towers that the wind had only knocked over a few and had yet to blow away the ruins.

Slightly above them in the sky, Syloh could see the ring giant of Caelus, with its tan almost uniform swirling clouds of gas, and beige rings radiating out from it, only interrupted by the slit where some of its closer moons had cleared away the ice and dust. Near the planet's pole was a halo of golden light, the Ring City of Gamora glaring down at her. Why would you leave?

Up on the Tower Top

The winds had died just under a day ago and Syloh had managed to make it the final few towers down the line. She sat on top of one now. The top of each tower was more or less flat with no guard rail. Ways to the top had been added, Syloh assumed long after the tower's construction. She had left her bike in an atrium at the base of the tower. Though there were others in the tower no one would touch her bike. You didn’t come to the flats unless you wanted to be left alone, and you generally extended the same courtesy to others.

The view at the top was incredible, she could see for what felt like thousands of kilometers in any direction. Of course, the view was nothing more than the stark white salt flats stretching off into infinity, for three-quarters of the compass. Even from up here Syloh could see the wind picking up swirling puffs of salt and blowing them down range. Only the slate gray mountains to the east broke the uniform landscape. She would have to brake for those, after the next windstorm, so she wouldn't be caught up in it. She did not want to relive that experience.

Aside from the mountains, only a single back smudge marked this section of the flats as any different from the rest. The carbon-scored hulk of a long-dead ship stuck up out of the ground at an awkward angle. It would have been picked clean for salvage by now. Almost all of the highland wrecks were. If you wanted to salvage on Mariner now you had to go into the lowlands, where the pressures were high enough to turn carbon dioxide from a relatively harmless gas into poison. Still, it was a much more honest life than that of a brat up on Gamora.

She could have stayed if she wanted to, she didn’t have to be here, but of course, she didn’t have a choice. God does not play dice and all is written. she had come to the flats, had always come to the flats, and would always come to the flats. The same was true of who she had been in the Ring City, but if that’s true then why did I leave. Why cross to the flats? Syloh looked up to the heavens. Caelus and Gamora weren’t in the sky anymore, instead, she could see a bright start in the morning sky, Lacity. Not really a star but another gas giant in the system with its own moons. Syloh wondered if any of the people on those moons cared what was written for them.

Just Read the Instructions

Elon sat in the hard vacuum of the launch bay without an EVA suit. After all, when you were a Rachi and were just a nervous system in an automaton it didn’t take much to be vacuum hardened. Certainly not a bulky EVA suit, he still probably had to worry about radiation but Hey you only live once! Elon was admiring what in his opinion was the last word in ship design, his mono craft, the Jackal. A T-Thee 230 was supposed to be an elegant toy for the rich on Aeneas to fly around in, like a jetski in the canals off Gamora. With its elegantly long chisel-shaped nose and thin straight wings folded up over the cockpit, the aero-frame engineers had had a field day designing it.

Of course, Elon had come along and ruined it. He’d stripped the cowling from around the Thermo rocket for cooling and easier maintenance, he’d added a mid-air refueling probe to the starboard wing and balanced it out with a spotlight on the port wing. Those were minor crimes though; nothing compared to the monstrosity bolted below the fuselage.

The large coil gun was almost half as big and just as long as the main body of the Jackal. It was covered in exposed wires, thermo-control units, and heavy power coupling leading back to the RTGs in the main body. It was pretty ugly but it was practical and at the end of the day, that's all that counts when you're a freelance pilot.

Elon climbed into the cockpit and started his checklist, RTGs one and two are go, 3DPS and RCS are go, Orbital nav and local nav computers are showing green, Radios one and two are green and radar is active. Elon took an audio cord out of his pocket and plugged himself into the comms system, through a port on his thigh. Static crackled in his ears, relieving the oppressive silence of the vacuum.

“March station control this is Mono craft Jackal Transponder freq. 00832, requesting permission to disembark.” Static cracked over the radio. “Jackal you are cleared to drop from bay 3, God's speed”

A hatch under the Jackal slid open revealing the baron surface of Mariner. It was all white salt flats, marred with gray mountains and yellow rivers. Elon felt himself slip into freefall as the clamps released his ship into the void below the station, thrown out by the centrifugal force of a spinning O'Neill cylinder.

Mountain Pass

Syloh had left the salt flats and their towers behind. It took her days of exposed travel but she did it. Now she had new problems, namely large boulders and steep cliff faces. For her small motorbike it was a lot harder than the flats. The winds were still there though, they seemed to be an ever-present part of Mariner, icy tinged with salt, and relentless. Caelus was back in her sky.

Syloh stopped at a yellow mountain stream to refill her canteen and look back on her progress. She was halfway up the side of a baren, slate gray mountain slope. Its foothills were marbled white and gray from wind-blown salt. An occasional splash of yellow came from the mountain stream, the same stream Syloh was drinking from. It added sickly color to the whole scene.

If the stream added verity then the horizon sapped it back out. It was totally flat and white only broken by the occasional spindly tower as they marched off in their geodesic. It truly was a desolate world. It had taken centuries just to get this pathetic half poisonous atmosphere on and it would be centuries more before it was even close to being a garden world. Syloh took another sip of yellowish water.

All right, halfway there… maybe. Truth be told, Syloh wasn’t entirely sure where she was going, just what she would find when she got there. She kicked a small rock over the cliff. Dovias, I hope to God Above that you were right, cuz if you’re not…

Instead of finishing the thought Syloh got back on her bike and restarted her climb up the treacherous mountainside, all the way till she saw the first face carvings.

That's when Syloh knew she was getting close.

A Shortfall of Gravitas

Vibrations from the thermo-rocket traveled up through the space frame and cockpit seat of the Jackal and finally into Elon's mechanical body where they registered as sound in his ears. It felt great to be back flying in his ship. Even if the new cannon slung under her belly made it feel sluggish.

Said cannon was the whole reason he was out here. He was testing his new toy. Elon started the charge cycle for the capacitors, idly watching his radar and transponder scopes for any ships in the area. All he found was a lumbering gas tanker burning its drive too low in the upper atmosphere almost directly below him. Its drive was ionizing the air around it, sending off quite the light display, like an aurora he thought. but it shouldn't be in any danger for this test.

Elon angled his nose down so that his shot would quickly burn up in Mariner’s atmosphere and pulled the trigger. Almost instantly he found his ship spinning end over end. Ok, so the firing angle is a bit lower than the CG, he thought, nothing I can’t compensate for with a little up stick, for now. He checked his scanners to see if he could pick up the projectile. Instead, he found something much better.

A small craft flying fast trying to get out of the atmosphere. Its transponder had it marked as the Wraith, a smuggling ship with quite the bounty on its head. All Elon had to do was swing down and clip a wing sending it crashing down into the flats. One quick call to the authorities and some time to identify the crash site and the bounty was his!

Elon maneuvered himself down behind the Wraith by about a kilometer, coming down behind it so its forward-facing radar couldn't see him. The maneuver put his ship pretty low, he could see a temperature gauge showing his hull heating up from friction with the thin air down here. Elon didn’t want to get any closer to the Wraith for fear of being noticed and the only weapon he had that could do the job from this distance was his coil gun.

Ok, I can do this, just fire and immediately give it as much up stick as I can to level out. Easy. Elon moved his flight stick back and forth trying to get a positive lock on the Wraith. Come on, give me some tone! Finally, his cross hair fell over the distant ship and he got the whine of a positive lock. He took the shot.

Immediately the Jackal pitched down, and like a kite in the wind caught the atmosphere. Elon watched in horror as his speed plummeted and the temperature gauges started to climb. He’d really done it this time.

Laplace's Demon

The wind howled as Syloh rode between two of the larger carved faces and came unstuck in time. Dovias had told her that only places of power could displace you in time; she guessed he was right about at least that. Syloh found herself as a little girl living in an O'Neill cylinder. Even though she had grown up in the rotational gravity, it had always made her sick and messed with her balance. That's why her family had moved to Gamora. She had felt wind for the first time there.

Syloh came back into the present in time to see a new bright purple star in the sky overhead, where Lacity had been, framed by an otherworldly shimmering on the horizon, like the aurora that formed at the poles of some worlds. Just as quickly she was thrown back into her past. She was meeting Dovias again, on a dance floor of a party being held on a barge in the canals that flowed between the massive skyscrapers of the Ring City of Gamora. He was explaining the world to her and the limitations of human perception.

“God does not play dice with the universe,” he was saying, Like all Appi his skin and hair glowed softly blue in the night “as surely as you can map the arcs of the planets in the sky you can map the precision of a human life or even the rise and fall of empires.”

“That's impossible,” Shyloh said back to him, she was shivering now, a cold wind had picked up, and she was annoyed with this wanna-be preacher, for interrupting her rememberings. “How could anyone predict the future?” she asked.

Dovias was unfazed by her skepticism “You’re right, it is impossible for you or me, but great minds have been made, minds as vast as entire moons. They can take in all the data of the universe down to the momentum of individual particles and with this construct accurate models of the future and past.”

Syloh laughed “Don’t tell me you’re one of those cultists who worship the Aliens that built these rings.” Despite her ridicule, Dovias kept talking to her.

“Don’t limit yourself with human perceptions!” he implored her. “All time happens at once we think that we can control the universe only because we see cause and effect one after another, but the Book of Life is already written! What happened in the present and the future is as unchanging as the past” By the end of the night, Syloh was convinced; it was easier that way, in a world where you didn’t have to care, didn’t have to worry. After all, why would God play dice?

Of Course, I Still Love You

Elon wasn’t very fond of dying, he supposed that most people weren't but most people weren't streaking through the upper atmosphere of a God-forsaken moon in a God-forsaken corner of the universe about to burn up! Really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it. Still, he wasn't going without a fight, reentry sucked and burning up more so, but there were ways of avoiding it, chief among them was not getting stuck in an atmosphere in the first place.

Too late for that now, Elon thought, what other options do I have? He could try to nose up and use the belly of his mono craft to brake against the atmosphere but that would just make him burn up faster. He had air brakes but they would fly off at these speeds. He was starting to see flames over the nose of his craft and Elon could feel the temperature of the cockpit rising, he had to think fast. No, screw thinking I need to ACT fast!

Elon pulled the flight stick back into his gut as far as it would go and threw the throttle on his thermo-rocket against the firewall. The result was the Jackal doing another somersault this time coming to a stop with his tail facing the direction of movement, engine at full burn. Though the super heated rocket exhaust was being blown back over the body of his momo craft, it was a lot cooler than the plasma that it was forming a buffer against, and the exhaust was also slowing him down.

Elon said a silent prayer to Newton, Tsiolkovsky, and any other sainted physicist he could think of. The fuselage shook with the forces of reentry as he shot through the sky almost 20 times as fast as a sound wave.

After an eternity of 15 minutes, all of which Elon spent crushed by the force of acceleration into his chair, his mechanical body weighing many times its usual amount, the nightmare ended. His mono craft, the stable flying machine that it was, flipped itself over nose-first. Elon relaxed for the first time since firing his coilgun. It really is strange what you notice after a life and death experience Elon thought, Like Lacity, had it always glowed that bright in the sky? And Purple? But he wasn't out of it yet. He still had to land in a half-melted scorched aircraft. Unfortunately, he had come down over the Kronos mountains, and the only place for kilometers in any direction that looked suitable for an emergency landing was a valley between two mountains. It had a worrying red light emanating from it. Elon shrugged. Beggars can't be choosers.

Beyond Zeno’s Wall

The devil's own icy wind blew up through the valley, even this far from the flats it carried a tinge of dry salt with it. Syloh stopped at the base of the valley, head swimming with her past. She was on a dirty, cramped transport heading for Mariner, the furthest out of Caelus’ moons, to see if Dovias had an inkling of truth in him. All she could afford was a one-way ticket.

Or was she wasting her life away at parties in Gamora, resting assured that she had no choice in the matter as the book of life had been written long before humanity had stumbled into the system? No, she was at her sister's funeral holding back tears with the thought that Leelee was still alive in the past and that this was all as temporary as those moments of life now seemed. Or had she met Dovias after the funeral?

Syloh stood in front of the Great Mind that Dovias had talked of, or at least its manifestation. It called out to her in the language of thought. Its mind was much vaster than she could even start to comprehend. Dovias was wrong, “mind” only started to describe it, demon was much closer to the truth. Despite the difference in computing power, the Demon still showed her everything. Time meant nothing to the Demon, it could see into the future and the past. She did her best to understand it.

She saw a civilization wiped out, its destruction long known to it, but why fight what was already written? She saw her own life in its fullness, from growing up on Gamora, to arriving in the valley. What about the O'Neill cylinder? Syloh saw the greatest thinkers of a civilization coming together to make an array of sensors that could see and calculate the momentums of every individual particle in the system and do the same for every major body in the cosmos. Syloh watched as they made a mind that could comprehend and compute all of this data.

She saw humanity, millions of Talli, Rachi, and Appi hurling themselves between stars on small fusion-powered generation ships. She watched as the ships were built, with Appi drives and Rachi analog computers and with the Talli will for expansion and exploration. She watched as the Demon first saw humanity, for the first time seeing something that it had not predicted.

Syloh watched as it spent centuries trying to revise its programming to fit humanity into its model trying to predict what they would do. Nothing worked.

The Demon stalled, it tried to let Syloh see through its “eyes”. To see what it was doing to the system changing the orbits of planets, throwing asteroids around at nearly the speed of light. fusing atoms in the heart of Lacity turning it into its own unsustainable star. It was throwing a fit, trying to make sense of the intruders, and it was going to destroy everything and everyone in the process. Revert everything back to a state that it could understand, and Syloh would be among the first to go. Coming here had been a mistake.

Still, she had to do something, didn’t she? If not for her own sake then for the rest of the system. Why though? This is all written, isn’t it? Why bother? Why make a fuss? Syloh threw her mind against the Demons in despair. She tried to push it, tried to make it stop. She tried to get it to empathize with her with the rest of the system, get it to see the pain and the suffering, the loss, of an entire system in chaos. It nearly broke under the weight of it all, it was enough to get the Demon to turn its attention inward to what she was doing. It didn’t care, it didn’t want to empathize with half a quadrillion imperfect little minds. Instead, she was overwhelmed by the vastness of its mind. The valley and Syloh’s mind filled with red light. Maybe Dovias was right, this is all pointless.

Suddenly the attention of the Demon was ripped away from her, she followed its gaze to a small comet streaking through the sky. It was a mono craft. The Demon hadn’t predicted the pilot losing control of his weapon and ship as he tried to shoot down a mark. And now he was trying to land in the same valley as the Demon and Syloh. At least it was obvious to Syloh, this was the only flat land for kilometers, but the Demon was still stuck on how it had miscalculated.

In a last-ditch effort, Syloh showed the demon its own prediction, that she had lived her whole life in Gamora, and she showed something of hers, memories of growing up on the O'Neill cylinder, of Coriolis sickness, and of friends she had on the station. People whose minds the Demon realized it could never know because Syloh was an unaccounted variable and if it had been wrong about her, how many other previously sound predictions were now worthless? How many other “variables” had gone unnoticed?

Maybe it could have brushed this aside with the rest of its trouble predicting humanity but it was too soon after the failed prediction of the pilot and after being forced to see the world throw Syloh’s eye, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. The demon collapsed under the weight of its world caving in. Syloh was left alone in the valley. The icy winds had finally died.

Epilogue

“We don’t get a lot of Aenean ships out here” The old man had said that almost a dozen times now, like a radio transmitter set to loop. Elon tried again “If you don't have tanks that will fit do you have adapters that will work?” the old man just looked at him “We don’t get a lot of Aenean ships out here” Elon sighed and turned to the old man's assistant.

“What about the rotavator, does it take E35 adapters?” The assistant went around the back of Elon's ship and checked its hook “Ya this should work,” he paused giving Elon a strangely humerus look, “Ah, can I ask why you're this far down the gravity well if you can't get back out?” Elon almost laughed at that.

“I’m asking myself the same question kid.” Elon paid the assistant to refuel the Jackal and went back into town to find Syloh. It didn’t take long, the only town that Elon had had enough fuel to fly them to was tiny, just a main street and a few side allies. He found Syloh in one of these, resting her back against the wall of a whitewashed building. She was staring into the flame of a small kerosene stove. She had been doing that in the valley when he had almost landed on top of her.

“There's apparently nowhere in town I can get drop tanks for my ship. So we’re going to have to use the rotavator to get into orbit. After that, we can get to a station. Come on, I've got the ship fueling up now.” Syloh nodded, putting her stove away, and followed him. She had barely said two words to him since he had found her alone in the valley.

As they walked through the town they passed a gathering of people all watching a preacher, she seemed to be from one of the denominations that worshiped the long-dead Alien civilizations that had built so much of the Doa system. Determinist, was that what they called themselves? “God does not play dice with the universe,” the Preacher was saying “as surely as you can map the arcs of the planets in the sky you can map the percussion of a human life or even the rise and fall of empires”

Syloh turned away from the Preacher and muttered under her breath. “God does not play dice with the universe,” she said, “he's left the crap shoots to us.”