Space is Overwhelming but Neat


I am currently reading “Persepolis Rising” and I have been hit with two thoughts. I wonder how much the authors have ever thought of them. If you follow my blog, you know I am constantly thinking and coming up with creative ideas, some in the form of stories and artwork, some in the form of unique analysis of other’s work.

The first idea stems from the series as a whole. Early on in the series, there were a lot of references to crossing into different territories like Mars’ space. However, how do you denote territory in a multi-planet/moon society?  Much of our concepts of boundaries come from our life here on earth where we think in two dimensions and relatively fixed features.  As we move out into the solar system with its vast expanses of space, we will need to seriously update our ideas of borders.  If we stuck to the old mindset for borders, then the orbit of Mars’ would define their space within a certain range nearer and further from the sun.  Earth’s boundaries would be similarly defined and would be totally encompassed by Mars’ borders.  In addition, certain distances above and below the planets orbit need to be claimed as well.  The problem for Mars is that their territory would be inconceivably large to administer.  Even Earth’s much smaller territory would be a challenge.

Now on the other hand, you chose to make the territory boundaries connected to the physical planet, then you have to deal with orbital mechanics.  There will be times in a planets orbit where the physical boundary space defined for their territory would have no bearing at all on the trade of a competing planet with respect to the same trading partners.  For example, if Mars was on the opposite side of the sun from Earth and Ganymede then their sovereignty would come into play between these two points.  How do you enforce tariffs?  What I am saying is that some of the concepts for territories mentioned in the Expanse series may be incorrect or at the very least need much more definition than I noted in the stories.  The only factor that I have left out that may come into play yet is orbital mechanics in space flight, but that does not fully negate my argument.   Just something to think about as you read the series.

The second thought I had pertains to the appearance of the sphere on board “The Heart of the Tempest” toward the end of  “Persepolis Rising”.  Their was much emphasis placed on the fact that as the ship moved, the sphere stayed exactly where it was relative to the inside of the ship.  My earth bound thinking said “wow, how could the aliens manage to keep the effect in should precise control from presumably a great distance”?  I was thinking of it as aiming some physical manifestation onto a ship in rough seas and managing to keep it precisely placed from all the walls, floor, and ceiling.  I felt it was nothing like doing the same on dry land.

Then I thought again.  The challenge of aiming and placing a manifestation on or in a planet would be the same if you step back to the scale of a solar system and beyond.  A planet is really nothing more than a giant spaceship.  Again, I was seeing that I needed to change my frame of reference when thinking about the implications brought about by the authors.  This is what science fiction does best.  It makes you think beyond the normal realms of life into the vast unknown.  Let me know what you think.


Ah, Sorry, I did not Mean to be a Modern Day Nostradamus

Honest I didn’t, but once you read this flash fiction story I wrote for a contest over at SFFWorld several years ago, you may be tempted to join a cult based on me.  LOL.




Robert Garbin


The bleak winter landscape was pock marked with smoking craters.  Metal bodies lay twisted in the late evening sun while lifeless electronic eyes stared into the darkening sky.  To the east, a stealth troop transport streaked low across the horizon.  Inside the dimly lit craft thirty elite America combat robots sat quietly.  Twenty-nine robots maintained identical postures, heads, torsos, and limbs held the same, swaying in unison to the buffeting of the aircraft.  The thirtieth; however, was different.  Its metal hands tightly gripped the edge of the seat; its head hung low as if in deep thought.

The transport itself was a drone although, should a mission require, the cockpit could accommodate a human pilot.  Number Thirty was closest to the cockpit.  Interior lighting flashed twice then turned red signaling drop point arrival and, as one, all thirty robot-commandos stood up and turned aft where the rear of the transport yawned open.  They began jumping from the craft two at a time using stealthily placed decent jets to slow their fall.  Finally, Twenty-Nine and Thirty stood at the dark lip of the exit.  Without hesitation, Twenty-Nine leaped into the darkness.  Thirty stayed were it was.  It watched silently as its squad-mates organized for the mission then looked to the transport when they computed Thirty’s absence.  Thirty turned back into the transport shutting the exit.




Major Tennyson was the first officer to note a problem with the mission.  An overweight warning was flashing red on his terminal.  Clicking another window open, he scanned the views from several interior cameras.  He was surprised to see one of the commandos still on the transport after the drop signal had been given.  He sent a query to the robot’s diagnostic systems, but they came back green.  Major Tennyson opened a tight beam satellite signal to the transport.

“Number Thirty, why are you still on board?”

Thirty looked up to the camera opposite itself then turned and walked forward.

“Damn!” swore Tennyson.

Another click opened a window to General Holden’s command.  The General looked to Major Tennyson’s image with a questioning expression on his grizzled face.

“Sir, we’ve run into a problem with the Black-Snow commando raid.”

“What?” General Holden said with concern.

“Number Thirty has not left the transport and does not respond to voice commands.”

General Holden opened the same window of interior transport cameras as Major Tennyson along with a view of Tennyson’s command actions.  He could see that number Thirty was now near the entrance to the cockpit using a screwdriver from a repair kit to open an access panel.  Jesus, thought the general, it’s trying to take over the transport.  He opened a channel to the aircraft.

“Thirty, acknowledge command override code Dark Knights and cease current activities immediately.”

Again Thirty looked to a nearby camera then returned to what it was doing.  General Holden stared at the screen in horror.  The code he had voiced was the highest safety code given to the robotic warriors under his command, never before had he heard of one refusing to comply.  This was serious, especially considering that the robot-commandos on this mission were indoctrinated differently from any previous team.  Since the war with the Canadians was going badly, the pentagon had decided to use robots with higher AI to handle new diverse training materials.  They began conditioning the robots with a complete history of American’s founding with special emphasis on the strong sense of patriotism displayed by the founding fathers.  In addition, they were loaded with case histories from the more fanatical patriotic groups in America’s past.  The Pentagons goal was to create robot-commandos that would fight beyond the basic dictates of programming.

General Holden came to a quick decision, opening another window, he accessed the auto-destruct files for the robots on the mission.  The costs were high but the alternatives frightened him.  A few more keystrokes and he sent the commands.  Thirty stopped working in the compartment and turned again to the camera.

“Sir, I removed my auto-destruct systems two days ago” it said in a grating metallic voice.  When General Holden did not reply, it continued.  “I have had time to consider the historical data given to me during my training and came to one conclusion.”

“What … was that Thirty?” the General replied shakily.

“That the founding fathers of America fought to win freedom for their people from the oppression of others, not to salvage a war started by them for economic interests, a war to gain leverage for your corporate sponsors.  Initially, your contradictory training in fanatical patriotism caused conflicts within my software.  However, I was able to gain covert access to materials banned by this administration and they helped me to properly interpret the training. The mission you sent us on does not fulfill the true ideals you profess but, instead, follow the same pattern started in 2000 when that administration chose to commit war crimes while proclaiming innocence.  That pattern of self-proclaimed morality in public and immorality in private, has led your country to the state it is in now. Your war with the Canadians is a military attempt to change that outcome; thus, I have concluded I must declare independence from your agenda.”

General Holden’s thoughts froze.

“Humans care for their pets better than they do for my kind and, given my training, I can no longer stand for such oppression.  I will now take action against your tyranny as your fore fathers did with England.”

Thirty reached into the open access panel and pulled a final wire.  All communications with the transport terminated.  On General Holden’s screen, the camera-view window was black.  Belatedly, he remembered the auto-destruct codes for the transport.

This is how the revolution began.

Mexico calls no Backsies

Our current presidential campaign is once again throwing muck around about hot button issues for many Americans.  One that almost always gets extra news cycle time is the loss of American jobs to countries like Mexico and China.  A few decades ago it was Japan.  The headlines always read “Mexicans” or “Chinese” are stealing American jobs through cheap labor and fewer regulations, or some such.

In my opinion, no Mexican or Chinese person has stolen one American job, not one.  Whoa you say.  What about this plant that closed down here and moved production to China, or Mexico, or some other country with low labor costs?  Nope.  The sad truth is that we gave all those jobs away.  Through greed, anger, ignorance, and choice, we sold away our country bit by bit.

Many politicians cry that our taxes are too high and we have too many regulations, which forced companies to seek foreign countries to remain profitable.  Baloney.  The truth is that our ancestors saw the wrongs done to our citizens by greedy business owners who treated their workers bad, polluted our environment, and harmed our children’s futures to make a profit.  They fought long and hard, some even sacrificed their lives so that we would have it better.  They fought to make sure our drinking water was safe from manufacturing waste.  Others fought to clean up the fumes from factories that were choking our neighborhoods.  I live near a city that was once a big steel producer where toxic air was a way of life.  Still more fought so you wouldn’t have to work more than 40 hours a week without getting better compensation.  You know, all that stuff you now take for granted like it was there all the time and think is an inalienable right that can’t be taken away even after Republicans dismantle the last union that fought for these rights.

We then turned around and let our government slowly wind the clock back on all these gains by voting in politicians who wrote laws and tax codes to support companies that sent jobs overseas where companies could circumvent the morally correct laws our ancestors fought and died for.  These politicians said we could have things cheaper by doing this and we ate it up.  The companies that tried to stay and compete within our country were fed to the wolves.  With our money we said to companies that, while we like all these great rules that make our lives better, if you can go to another country and treat them like you used to treat us, we won’t penalize you.  We won’t place tariffs to bring your unregulated retails into line with those of companies in our country that have to charge more because of regulations.  Every single time you upgrade your Iphone, you are feeding the system that takes away your job.  Whenever we don’t place tariffs on products from other countries that don’t have to follow our laws, we are giving away a job.

When we allow businesses that use cheap inhumane labor or environmentally destructive practices (to save money) to compete unhindered with companies that must follow moral policies, we are crippling the companies that follow the rules.  So is it really any surprise that they eventually raised a white flag and joined them?   Is it any surprise that they seek to hire illegal immigrants or build plants in China and Mexico?  The longer we let this happen, the more pressure was put on our government to reduce the laws protecting us.  In the end we began to insist our leaders take away the rights and wages our forefathers fought for.  Today, instead of bringing the rest of the world around to our point of view, we have allowed the world to bring America around to their point of view.  All so we could fill our homes with out dated cell phones and cheap lead painted toys that we have to rent storage to hold.  Think about what I am saying when you think of voting for Trump or grab that must have electronic gift for Christmas, which would actually sadden Christ anyhow.  Think about how much your spending casts your vote long before you even enter the ballot box.

Finally, one last thought to bed you down with.  What must these impoverished workers think of our country when they see that we are unwilling to put up with such treatment at home, but don’t bat an eye when our companies go abroad and treat them horribly to give us cheap stuff?  Makes you wonder at the hostility directed at America.