Friday, October 12, 2007

Ω The Starman Succumbs to my Will

Each night, once I have finished reading, I turn on my side, pull a pillow over my ear and seek sleep. Because I know that my mind will inevitably grind on, reiterating the unpleasantness and stress of my waking day, I immerse myself in a fantasy scenario, in which I am safe and wholly disconnected from my real life.

I enter the body of a space traveller.

He has no ship and drifts aimlessly between the stars in a suit that can sustain his life indefinitely. The suit is possessed of an artificial intelligence able to describe the surrounding environment in fine detail.

A vessel appears on the suits sensors, a black shadow against the stars. I command my suit to fire its small reaction jets and I fall towards the looming form. An airlock becomes visible, outlined in luminous green. With a clunk I impact the hull. I attempt to use magnetic clamps to attach myself, but the material does not respond. My suit informs me that the hull refuses analysis.

The airlock reacts to my presence. It irises open and I pull myself inside. The hatch closes behind me. Indicators on a control cluster show that the lock is rapidly filling with gas. I inquire of my suit:

- Is it breathable?

- Perfectly.

- What are the chances that the biological needs of its builders match my own?

- They are negligible.

- Might it have... analyzed me? And deliberately provided the gases I need?

I feel the suit shrug around me.

The inner door to the airlock opens and I step inside the ship. Lights flicker on, though their source is not immediately visible.

- Again, comments my suit, the ship has chosen lighting that matches your visual requirements.

- It has analysed my eyes?

- And the relevant processing centres in your brain.

- Does it know I am sentient?

- That is a relative term ...

- I could be a space born parasite, the deadly
Xenomorph from Alien...

- The ship, or its controllers have let you in. They know you are not dangerous.

There is no one or nothing to greet me. The chambers ahead of me are roughly semi-circular and match the contours of the hull. There are no bulkheads, merely circular apertures that lead in many directions. The design is neat, elegantly functional, yet comfortable: not sterile like the
Discovery of 2001: A Space Odyssey; not utilitarian like the Nostromo. I find a doorway that opens towards the rear of the vessel, and see what must be a hangar bay: a surprisingly large volume, mostly empty but for four small scout ships or runabouts, each of a radically different design. And several machines, in varying states of disrepair, lie scattered around.

- Gravity, I say.

- The vessel is possessed of anti-gravity technology. The hangar deck remains in zero-G in order to maximise available space.

Before me is a ladder. i climb and emerge on what must be the bridge. Forward, there are two control stations, set beneath a large view screen currently showing the forward path of the ship. Behind them is what I guess to to be the captains seat. I test it. The upholstery is proto-sentient and instinctively compliant to the needs of my body. Above and behind, there is a sort of gallery, accessed by another ladder. I climb to find a bedroom: a capacious bed with huge down pillows and a coverlet of black, shot through with gold. The walls are lined with books from my house on Earth [including the
Common Sense of Nudism, Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker, an Uncle Oojah Annual and my 23 copies of The Twilight of The Vilp]. Many of my favourite curiosities are here too: the stuffed chicken which, to my chagrin, is fast becoming my hallmark; my collection of antique syringes; my furry mangrove seed, my Henry Bolte candle, my hookah, my vagina vase, and my set of masonic aprons.

I notice a flexible urpolymer arm attached to an abbreviated control console. This is designed to extend and then hover above the bed. From here a captain could control the vessel, refuel from the atmosphere of gas giants, spar with armoured vacuumed-adapted gastropods, and rescue drifting
Breeder Barges - all without leaving his bed. I realise that I could lie in this bed, dim the lights, pour myself some wine, murder a doobie ... and explore the boundless universe at my leisure.


I shuck my suit. Ease myself beneath the covers. They are of an unknown fabric, yet comprise the most comfortable bedding I have yet experienced. Instinctively, I know that I need not bother sweeping the sheets for toenails, daggs and flea eggs.

For a time I watch the stars approach and fall behind. I watch the
Triffid and the Horsehead Nebulae sweep by. I see ancient giga-structures built by lost civilizations of the Hydrogen Era. I see the vast wheel-like accretion disc of a black hole, orbiting a black hole I cannot see...

Then I sleep, having named the starship "

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Anonymous said...

It was all going along nicely until..."I know I didn't have to sweep the sheets for toenails, dags and flea eggs"!!!!
Love Amanda

Sam Sejavka said...

Sorry, It has something to do with me being a boy, I think. I can't resist throwing in some yucky stuff here & there - and, hey, the world is full of it

K&E said...

Why "ørn"?
Love Kristine

Sam Sejavka said...

I guessed it might be Norwegian for 'orca' Am I right? Wrong? Is there a special name for the O with a line thru it?

I'm thinking of following up this science fiction scenario from time to time - to mix things up a bit

steve kilbey said...

its norwegian for eagle

K&E said...

Yes, as Steve says, it is norwegian for eagle...It is a special name for the o with the line thru it, but I cant write it.
the norwegian have three letters more than the english alphabet. they are æ, ø and å. they come in the end of the alphabet, after z...