I had nightmares sometimes. Then I'd wake up and realise that mindless impersonal forces beyond my comprehension had created me and my fellow fragile sacks of lipids to live and suffer in a world devoid of meaning or purpose.
Even my despair is an exercise in futility. "Oh, if I arrange the neurochemicals in the way that means 'I'm really _sad_', the universes will turn around and say 'oops, here's the all-encompassing purpose that we accidentally forgot to give you at birth.' "
Can I persuade someone to write the horror story where the universe does this?
The systems alliance has defined "Reapers" to be a race of omnicidal alien robot gods. Commander Shepard has adopted this definition and believes that Reapers constitute a health and safety issue, which needs to be managed in the same way as any other health and safety issue. Commander Shepard acknowledges the importance of identifying and reducing omnicidal alien robot gods in the workplace.
Ka'hairal Balak was bored. It was seven months since he was committed the greatest feet of daring his people had engaged in since leaving the council; two months in hospital and five months of tiresome legal wrangling. You use mass drivers on an inhabited world and you expect reaction, but the humans hadn't blinked. They'd arrested him, gathered forensic evidence, eyewitness testimony and electronic surveillance data, asked him if he wanted to retain council, assigned him a defense team when he'd refused to acknowledge their jurisdiction, and started cross examinations and complicated legal arguments.
His defense team. No. The defense team, they weren't his, were, as far as he could tell, hardworking, committed and devastatingly intelligent; no one was going to look at the result of this trial and declare it a setup; interstellar observers had full access to the trial personnel, and their records would be unsealed whenever their governments felt like embarrassing Earth.
The defense team had just spent a week trying to get some of the electronic record expunged from the trial record on the basis that it did not conform to current data standards. It wasn't quite true that the humans were indifferent to his attack; there was actually some buzz around the court at the possibility of prosecuting the first fully Total Quality Assurance-compliant war-crimes* tribunal. He'd been issued with a VI which helped him keep up with the lawyer's discussions, giving potted histories of important precedent cases**, which he was slowly beginning to realise, was how he was to be remembered, not as a martyr to the cause of Batarian independence, but as Balak vs Terra Nova , a significant case in Total Evidence Quality.
*Following some backroom discussions and the threat of legal proceedings from the Council, the state of Terra Nova had acknowledged that the Council was the proper body to prosecute the attempted destruction of a habitable biosphere. That trial was to be held once this on was over.
They are not wrong anymore; they are falling in their thousands; a giant stands to squeeze out the sun; the world is ending, and knowing that the game will end soon shifts optimal behaviors; "cooperate" is no longer the hyperrational choice.
I don the head-wear, read the book, bow to the statue, and tonnes of black ropey tentacles pour into the euclidean 3-space of dieing Narnia from directions I cannot perceive, writhing over each other and in and out of the spaces known to man; a cross section of something bigger and stranger than I can know plucks me from my world like the last sailer helicoptered off a sinking ship, taking me somewhere free and wild and beyond the Lion's narrow definitions of Good and Evil.
( Read more... )
"I repudiate and curse," said Father levelly, "Those that are used to name. From now on, I shall insinuate what I am talking about, and use `I', `It' `suchlike' and suchlike."
"What is he up to?" asked Zombina, who thought that avoiding contractions made her speech more elegant.
"I think he's giving something up. Maybe for for Lent." Susan was considering adopting a faith in order to be better fettered by conventional morality, "I don't think anyone's celebrating Easter right now, but he's not exactly good at dates."
"It's the umpty-first." said Father, a bit snappish at the accusation of datefail. There are 19 umpty-firsts a year, and while there are more x0's that doesn't translate to speech naturally, "probably."
He checked his phone, "Seventh, even."
"What exactly are you giving up, Father?"
"Them. Them that I can't name, on account of giving them up."
"Oh" said Susan, "How convenient."
While I was clearing the snow, I found piles of rubbish. I'll have to big society a land-fill later.
The neighbours' kids are missing. Fortunately, with the policing cuts, we can simply big society the local weirdo without any evidence. Otherwise we might have to look for the bodies in the bottom of our shiny
new landfill, and what good would that do? Even if we'd find them we can't do anything to stop more people falling in the pit without health and safety going mad, and a lynching makes the parents feel better than some sort of mealy-mouthed evidence-based "closure", so its just as well not to know.
Old Mrs Robinson down the road has lung cancer. She doesn't offer a good enough return on investment for the big clinic in town with the MedCorp management programme to bother with (or at least, she didn't when NICE shut down; all recent information about returns on clinical investments is proprietary), and it's January, so the little independent medical practice down the road won't be able to afford any major treatments until the new funding in April. I'll big society her a new set out of bin bags and glue, but I don't know how well hose clips will last in the chest cavity.
My name came up in the lottery for the current War on Stuff, so I have to go and big society some brown people with a rifle. I don't much like the idea; maybe I can send money to hire a mercenary instead.
There must be lots of folks who don't want to fulfil their civil duties themselves. Fortunately, in this era of bottom-up social organisation, I can put forward novel ideas like this for consideration by the national government. Maybe we could just pay a tithe towards a force of professional trained soldiers instead. It
could be call "scuttage" or shield-money. It could be one of the most innovative ideas in state finances since the 1100s.
If you are the best, you have to build the bridge. It's a tautology, but a true one, and the best bridge builder is the Bishop of Rome. His predecessors wrested the title form the old high priests of Rome, and he's stuck with it. Their half is complete and the three hundred-odd squabbling, triple-crowned workers sit waiting, legs dangling over the end of their kilometre-wide roadway. Soon it will be time to widen the bridge again. There is no point of course; the live side can't be seen from their vantage point because it doesn't exist, but they keep the bridge wide enough for the expected traffic as a matter of pride.
The live side doesn't exist because the dead are compelled to cross, and any construction by the lone worker is inevitably dragged down and by slow degrees, buried under mud and silt by the constant churning of endless feet.
The fat one just shuffled in her sleep. She'll wake up within the next minute and peck the one on the end to assert her dominance.
Dorothy tells me that there are no chickens in Oz, so this may be my last chance to spend time with others of my kind, although Dorothy is hardly an authority on any subject. Especially diplomacy, which leads me back here, locked in a hen house and threatened with drowning if I do not lay.
There she goes. I step back and round, so she will perceive me as another part of the flock rather than as a threatening individual. When I get out of here, I will not be sad to never again see baselines.
I lay my egg for the day and mute my normal triumphant cackle. Its dead, which is just as well; the head-swapping bitch can have it. All my eggs are dead. If I go to Oz, they always will be, unless...
The thought is repugnant enough that I cut it off, but consciousness is not without its drawbacks. I grit my beak and follow the logic through. I can live a long time in Oz. Maybe 6 years, maybe 10, maybe even more if life in fairy agrees with me. Alone.
The others are waking up. They will open the hen house and let us into the yard soon.
Or I can have children. There I've thought it. If I was braver maybe I could look at the damn cockerel and inside, at a level below the structured cadences of language and the rationalities of conscious thought, but so very far above the dumb instinctive actions of the baselines, I'm screaming in horror at what I'm contemplating. He's dumb. They're'll dumb. They're all so dumb I can guess the next move of every single one of the dumb bastards and still have time to contemplate growing old alone and years of regret and it doesn't matter what I do I will always regret this day.
I could let him. No, be honest to yourself, I could make him, because baselines don't have free will, not when I'm here and I know how they'll react to everything before they do.
The door's opened, letting the light in, and the rest go outside. I'm hungry, and need to escape, so I follow. Cluck. Cluck. Nothing conscious to see here, hen-keeper. No reason to keep the fence repaired but foxes.
He's found food and is calling us to eat first. I'd call it gallant if I couldn't see blind instinct pulling him through his predetermined paces. I wander in with the rest, peck peck, scratch at the floor, the fat one won't see me as a threat if I stand here, peck /these/ pieces of grain, scratch at /that/ bit of floor. And he, he won't notice me unless I walk over /there/. If I did he'd drop his wing and dance round me and mount and in a few months time, and the years that follow, I won't be the only hen in Oz. The loneliness will last a lifetime.
And I'll always have fucked a baseline. The humiliation will last a lifetime too.
You know how it turned out of course. The children are a fairly obvious clue, and Dorothy will tell you that I beat him up afterwords. I'm not exactly proud of that, but after I made him mount I felt like I lost control: he was after all, about twice my size, and had very clear set of actions to run through. My choice was bad enough, but to be helpless to a baseline was unbearable.
This was my first inspiration, but I don't think it really goes anywhere, so I tried again.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Jurassic Park is let at last ? "
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not, and after a moment's thought, expanded "Is not that the case that Jurassic is quite over run with great saurian beasts that fight and tear?"
"But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."
"I was not aware," responded he, "That Mrs. Long was well-versed in paleontological lore. I thought her an idle, gossiping sort of person."
I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. Except for possibly a complete word-for word re-write, with extra dinosaurs. I think that Mrs Bennet will be incapable of perceiving them, as she is prejudiced against the existence of things which upset her.
"I have invented some Clever Technology, which will change the way we live."
And he had, and it did. The rabbits and ducks now lived in the Future, which the clever Technology. It brought new challenges to their lives. Nonetheless, the ducks still said "Quack", just as ducks always had, and the rabbits still went nibble.
Yesterday, Mili wanted to go to eastercon, but I was sleepy and wanted cute animals. She told me that there would be no ducks or rabbits at eastercon and told me that there might be if I wrote a scifi story with ducks and rabbits in it. This is more or less what I came up with. I was very sleepy. Mili wanted me to explain what the Clever Technology was, but this did not seem pertinent to the plot, so I didn't
"Quack" said the duck, "I would like to proceed with my life"
But the faceless bureaucracy stopped him.
So the duck got drunk and went to a party, where he did things with his towel.
“None of us are; we only have a mass of one point six seven two times ten to the negative twenty seven kilograms”
“Well then, it can’t be gravity” The second proton looked at the first proton oddly “we could both be here if one of us was a neutron.”
“But we’re not” the first proton said, and because the second proton was paying careful attention, the second proton noticed that there was absolutely nothing evasive about the way that the first proton said this. Despite this reassurance, the second proton went on
“I heard that most subatomic particles in neutron stars were neutrons.”
“Yes, there were thousands of them, all over the place. I’ve never been so crowded.”
Satisfied by this, the second proton said, “So if its not gravity, which I realize was a very silly idea, what else could it be? Are we constrained by an external electrostatic potential?”
“I hope not. They always make my wavefunction tails look fat.” The first proton wondered vaguely about its own momentum, thus puffing out its position slightly, to show it was joking.
“I’m sure you have lovely exponential tails, except in the case of infinite wells, of course” said the second proton reassuringly. Then the second proton realized that the first proton had significant ∆x, and trailed off.
“Oh! You were joking.”
The second proton looked embarrassed for a moment, before continuing brightly “It was very funny, and there must be some sort observation we could make to see if we’re constrained by an electric field”
“Lets go this way, and see if we bounce off anything.” The first proton stopped. “I’ve never tried to point before. I can’t can I?”
“No, we lack the structure necessary to do that. Lets travel along the line defined as including both of our positions, I’ll lead” The second proton felt slightly odd taking the lead like this, and put it down to wanting to impress the first proton, who had had such an exciting life.
“But our positions can not be known accurately, so the line you describe is more a probability cone, and since delta ex times delta rho is always greater than aych bar upon two, we could well end up moving at vastly different speeds.” The proton didn’t want to lose the second proton, who the first proton thought was very cute when embarrassed.
“Or equal to atch bar. If we try to travel very slowly with root atch bar certainty, and pay equal attention to our position, we shouldn’t lose each other. We can stop after we’ve traveled a bit and check neither of us has got lost.” The second proton had a feeling that they wouldn’t lose each other, despite the first proton’s statement, and was eager to find out if it was right.
“Come on Mr. ‘I was in a neutron star, I broke the pauli exclusion principle’ no hanging around” and with that, the second proton set off, leading the first proton. It is always possible that they swapped position without anyone noticing.
“See? Still here.” said the leading proton. “Also, movement has broken symmetry, so we can experiment with different designations”
“That’s convenient” agreed the following proton.
After a while, the following proton added “Our motion does not appear to be impeded by an electrostatic potential, although it could be that we’re traveling perpendicular to the field.”
“but a well would have impeded our motion. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t have held us together.”
“Yes,” agreed the first proton, “we’re still no closer to working out why we haven’t both pinged off somewhere. Not that I’m complaining”
The first proton thought a bit more “Maybe it’s the weak nuclear force, I never really understood…”
“Maybe” interrupted the second proton, synchronizing wavefunctions, “it’s love”, and then the second proton kissed the first proton.
“Hello” said the proton.
“Hello” said the other proton. I refer to the other proton as the other proton, although of course it is impossible to be sure that the two of them had not swapped position.
“We could have a conversation” continued the first proton “It’s not like there are any observers”
“Observers always complicate matters” agreed the second proton “Who are you?”
“I’m a proton” said the first proton, descriptively “who are you?”
“Well fancy that!” said the second proton “I’m a proton too”
“We must have so much in common, let us discuss matters”
“I carry one fundamental unit of charge” said the second proton brightly, “and have half integer spin”
“Me too!” exclaimed the second proton excitedly.
“Hey!” said the first proton “why are we still talking to each other? If we both carry one fundamental unit of charge, we should experience a repulsive coulomb force, equivalent to eight point nine nine times ten to the nine times one point six oh nine times ten to the negative nineteen (that’s you) times one point six oh nine times ten to the negative nineteen all divided by the distance between us squared!”
“You’re right!” said the second proton. “and yet I find myself strangely attracted to you. Maybe its gravity?”
“I hope not. That much gravity is always a bad sign. I was part of a neutron star once. It was very interesting I suppose, but I’m glad I left” The proton sounded somewhat prim, but also slightly proud of having had such an interesting past.
“I’ve never been in a neutron star what’s it like?”
“It was filthy. I never thought I’d see so many fermions being so degenerate.”
“You broke the pauli exclusion principle?” The second proton was shocked, but clearly very impressed by the first proton’s daring “I could never do that” The second proton briefly thought of saying “I thought only bosons did things like that”, but because that sort of language was unpleasantly prejudiced, the second proton didn’t.
“Anyhow” continued the first proton, “There were thousands of neutrons around, and there aren’t any here, so it can’t be gravity.”
“I was never much good at gravity, but that makes sense.”
“Well of course not, you only have a mass of one point six seven two times ten to the negative twenty seven kilograms”