Instantaneous Interstellar Travel & Cultural Meltdown

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Good (Space) Fences Make Good (Planetary) Neighbors

Dredd_Spock_Skywalker_Kimono_Marine Dress_Trek_Star Wars_culture Clash

Imagine downtown Tokyo and New York City’s Times Square connected by a door that bends the rules of physics, at least as we understand them today. People could walk between these cities as easily as crossing the street. Much in both cities would change, and it wouldn’t take long.

Separation is a key factor in maintaining cultural differences. Permanent connection, without time delay, injects alien ways, undiluted, directly into the mainstream. The areas around these super-doors would soon begin to cater to the foreign visitors. Languages would mingle, signage would begin to change, new commercial trade would emerge.

What kind of culture develops buildings that don't even make sense?

What kind of culture develops buildings that don’t even make sense?

Soon the transit areas would become mishmash cultures resembling neither origin city. Imagine cultures with significant ideological differences. One is dominant and seeks to push its ways upon the other. In Tethered Worlds, that’s precisely what’s happening to civilizations far from humanity’s cradle.

They developed unique cultures during centuries of frontier separation, largely based upon the personal responsibility needed for the open spaces of newer worlds. When a super-door opens in orbit right above their heads, their culture will be influenced, some would say corrupted, by the older, cosmopolitan ways whether they like it or not.

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In Tethered Worlds the super-doors are the mighty hexagonal egresses. The contest between those who seek to protect their way of life and those pushing cultural rot for their own benefit has been joined. Some of the key players enter the fray with fleets. Others use an ancient technology with unpredictable results.

Check out the arrival of the egress in book one, Unwelcome Star. And check out this thoughtful review of book two by DED over at Podler Reviews.

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Tethered Worlds depicts many cultures. None are perfect as they are built by imperfect humankind. But some cultures do promote freedom, happiness, and the general welfare better than others. See where you belong by checking out the series.

You might also be interested in reading:

The AIs and Mankind Posts:

AIs and Mankind part 1: Combat and the Future

AIs and Mankind part 2: Robots and Romance

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AIs and Mankind Part Two: Robots & Romance

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Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should…

Tethered Worlds_android_Alex_Negrea_painting

“Before the war, before humankind matured to where they are today, we dallied with the artificial creations of our own hands… As you can imagine, it did not end well.” A lesson that didn’t have to be learned the hard way, and yet was, made an indelible change in humanity’s culture in the Tethered Worlds universe. Whether specifically stated, or unspoken through the media, undue emotional investment in artificial creations is curtailed.

But first, as postulated in PART ONE, what about war? Machines make powerful aides in wartime. But societal mores keep war machines and combat bots at arms length. Tools sans personality to be used without emotional investment. Handy, but just a means to an end. Most look at a humanoid combat bot as one today might observe a tank.

"You can't let machines fight your wars without you! Do you see what happens?"

“You can’t replace my character with a machine! Don’t you see what will happen?”

AIs, on the other hand, simulate emotion for better interactions with humans. But their bodiless form (usually a ring or bracelet), their core design architecture, and everyday utilitarian use, almost always relegate them to the role of “friend” at most. We say at most, because half of those who use personal AIs don’t even choose personality types. So the greatest challenge to humans, when it comes to emotional investment in creations, remains androids.

In the Tethered Worlds universe, these robots designed to look like humans are still produced in small numbers. Because of the uncanny valley effect, androids must duplicate human form precisely. Those that fall just short cause revulsion, and that has only become more pronounced since the societal lessons were adopted. So marketable androids must maintain a host of expensive cosmetic features.

One of many AIs, robots, and androids Capt. Kirk somehow talked into destroying themselves.

One of many AIs, robots, and androids Capt. Kirk somehow talked into destroying themselves.

They are tolerated by some, and looked upon with disdain by others. Because of their cost, and lack of necessity, they are rare. The rich, the powerful, those high in bloated government may have one as an aide. But any kind of romantic involvement is shunned. It is only openly displayed on strange Chryson Genos, a planet alluded to in Blue Star Setting.

In Tethered Worlds, society has sometimes foolishly, sometimes wisely, focused on the perfection of humankind. Androids only shine an uncomfortable light on the issue. With robots of all types available for any conceivable job, the niche for androids is narrow, and their potential for trouble-making wide.

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Tethered Worlds is a lot cheaper than an android, and has less potential to cause trouble. In fact, it will transport you onto an adventure. One which you will come out better for having trod it.

* Android painting by Alex Negrea

The AIs and Mankind Series:

AIs and Mankind part 1: Combat and the Future

AIs and Mankind part 2: Robots and Romance

Living With Force Fields

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Whatever you say bounces off of me and back onto you.
OUCH!

OUCH!

Force fields have been a science fiction dream since before Gene Roddenberry conceived his “Wagon Train to the Stars” (Star Trek) in the mid 1960s. The ability to stop energy rays comes in handy not only for rogue Klingons or Romulans, but because of the inherent dangers of outer space itself.

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Wait… What? KIRK as a Romulan?

Once we leave Earth’s amazingly protective magnetic field, the beyond is filled with hard radiation, meteorites, and particles—that when impacted at high speeds might as well be bricks. In T.G. Franklin’s novel, Heavenfall, “2027 – Earth is in the path of a raging cosmic storm, and most people believe Hadrian’s energy web will protect the planet from the destruction of the wave.”  However the web has its own side effects and consequences.

In the Tethered Worlds universe, radiation protection is accomplished with cold, warm, and hot plasma shielding. Cold plasma can be generated by devices worn on the forearm. It is invisible and harmless to the touch, but quite effective against radiation. It’s the main reason we don’t see use of laser pistols and such.

ForbiddenPlanet robby ray gun leslie neilsen crop

final battleHowever, cold plasma does nothing to stop projectiles. Warm and hot plasma are required for that, and serious machinery not suited to personal protection. It’s relegated to spaceships and such. But any shielding has limits, be it the armor on a WWII battleship or the Perigeum’s destroyers in Tethered Worlds.

Long term spaceflight needs to address hard radiation, for every ship cannot be built with six inches of protective lead… and the titanic amounts of extra mass it comes with.

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Gregory Faccone hopes you will get the lead out and go on a fantastic romp through space in the Tethered Worlds series. It is hard radiation and micro-meteorite free!

AIs and Mankind Part One: Combat and the Future

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The machines are not taking over… right?

Ultimate Computer Star Trek_M5_750

Behold the M5 Computer from Star Trek the original series. It was designed to remotely operate a starship in combat, thus sparing humans from such a dangerous endeavor. What could possibly go wrong? Of course, in the decades since this episode first aired we have seen depicted repeatedly the dangers of machines going amok. Because “evil” machines make such good villains, such plots have outweighed their more benign counterparts.

At a former workplace, the common joking refrain was how the machines were taking over, much like “Skynet” from the Terminator franchise. In the universe of Tethered Worlds mankind is too spread among the stars to be endangered by even a planetary computer gone bad. Additionally, it is implied in Unwelcome Star that humanity has progressed through various eras of human/machine interactions, and now the relationship is settled and mature.

"Why do I have teeth?"

“Why do I have teeth?”

But apparently it did not come without difficult learning experiences. It is said that before the great war that separated humanity into two prominent political regions, mankind went through a disastrous flirtation with androids. That could be the subject of another post by itself. Suffice to say it is quite possible other kinds of incidents also occurred which firmly solidified the boundaries of computer roles in society.

Two centuries after the war, the time of the novels, most of humanity enforces accepted norms for all thinking machines. Combat bots have limited capacity, and are almost always fielded with humans. Greater danger lies in the more powerful thinkers, AIs.  But whole AI lines are unceremoniously pulled from the market if they show a tendency toward unlawful behavior. Profit and self interest keeps large AI creators from endangering their business and/or facing criminal penalty. Society has little tolerance for killing machines, and AIs corrupted to such ends is looked upon even more unfavorably than if done by human hands.

"There's no need for Concern captain. The M5 computer is perfect. It's based on my brain pattern, after all."

“There’s no need for Concern captain. The M5 computer is perfect. It’s based on my brain pattern, after all.”

However any tool (or AI) can be misused, and even with interaction protocols matured, what about war? It’s hard and brutal. Machines “think,” or at least calculate, faster than people. And robots are tougher. We will touch on this and other notions in part II of the post series.

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Tethered Worlds was not written by machines, nor is it for machines. It is the author’s hope that many humans will go on its adventure, and through the highs and lows come out the other side better for the experience.

The AIs and Mankind Series:

AIs and Mankind part 1: Combat and the Future

AIs and Mankind part 2: Robots and Romance

Must Spaceships Have Sonic Showers?

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In the Future, Showers are Still Wet

I remember a Star Trek  character once referencing a sonic shower. Because, you know, in the FUTURE you cannot use plain old water. Come on, that is positively ancient. But even if you could invent a “sonic shower,” would anyone want to use it?

Just because you can do something, does not mean you should. There are many things that could be invented today, but they are not because of impracticality, cost, or just lack of market. We could invent food pills that could sustain us, but would we want to live that way? Would we not miss the the taste and pleasure of eating and sharing meals?

Water is the most abundant staple for life. Our bodies are mostly water. We drink it, clean with it, and enjoy the feeling of it running warm against our skin. I do not think mankind will so radically change in a few hundred years that they eschew it. Not unless robot bodies become all the rage…

In the Tethered Worlds future, like in Star Trek, space travel has become somewhat routine. Spaceships have more than enough space for water and provisions, and bags of energy to run recycling and purification systems. There is no reason to not have a shower. Of course, in sci-fi, there is no reason to just leave a shower a shower either.

Tethered Worlds puts a fun little twist to today’s commonplace experience, and also adds functionality that is beginning to enter the marketplace. So in a future where clothing can keep people clean, and the need to constantly cleanse is reduced, there is still room for sensation, relaxation, and thought.

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Tethered Worlds is a series with no sonic showers. They use just plain old water. But they do have a twist…