ODN317

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Starprober, Celestial, Occupation

In the year 2300, planet Earth harnessed cold fusion.  By 3001 the world was a different place.  There was no more famine and disease was almost nonexistent.  The applications that the new fusion process made available to humanity were too numerous to count.  The land mass of the entire planet was now available for use; cold fusion engines were so cheap to run that it cost next to nothing to transport goods into and out of previously inaccessible places.  It cost nothing to heat and cool your living space, as the cold fusion process was part of the public domain.  Anyone could produce it and everyone could use it.  It powered lamps so that food could be grown anywhere using hydroponics.  

The discovery of cold fusion and advancements in cryotechnology allowed mankind to finally reach out and touch the stars.  By the end of the 21st century it became widely accepted that the human body could withstand the effects of cryopreservation (storage in liquid nitrogen) for only about 70-80 years.  Thus a safety limit was accepted, which allowed us to effectively freeze a human and reanimate him in 50/5 (50 frozen, 5 awake) year cycles.  Any more than that and the risks were considered unacceptable.  When cryo-freezers were combined onboard with powerful cold fusion engines we could travel wildly faster and farther than ever before.

The Podnik Dále was an Explorer class spaceship, made from a new metal called Transmacite, mined from asteroids orbiting a nearby sun.  At normal atmospheric pressure the metal was the hardest substance ever found.  It was impervious to light, heat, sound, corrosion and pressure.  Exploratory travel deeper and deeper into the atmospheres of gas giants like Jupiter had seen many a starprober disintegrate.  Not only did transmacite successfully resist the incredible heat and cold, the crushing atmospheres and the raging tempests on these planets, it came out the other side unscathed.  One interesting aberration had been recorded; transmacite changed color constantly.  It was a fascinating property and scientists were hard at work to determine any possible benefits from its use.

Once celestial travel had been achieved science turned its eye toward interplanetary colonization.  Major countries united in their efforts to build spaceships that would carry thousands of people at once to the far planets to colonize new worlds.  These spaceships were seeded with people from every country and race, every beneficial occupation possible was represented.

At 24, Marcie Anderson was a librarian, a keeper of knowledge and records.  When they arrived at the planet (right know it was known only as ODN317) they would colonize she would help to set up the first off-Earth library ever made.  It was exciting stuff.  When she had been notified that she would have the opportunity to go she had been ecstatic.  Marcie had been looking to the skies her entire life, she supposed that was in part due to her late father.   He had been a star-gazer and a scientist.  He evaluated the star systems they passed to see what useful elements/metals/liquids could be mined.  His eye was constantly aimed out, to new planets and stars.  There was always another galaxy coming; he found each and every one of them astonishing.  It had been a blast to be a child growing up on this ship around him, his enthusiasm was contagious.  Marcie shared that tendency with her father, it was part of what made her such a good librarian.

“Mith An-r-then?”  A small child stammered, tugging on the pocket of her pants.  Marcie looked down and smiled, a lot of people had mixed feelings about allowing children to go on these maiden voyages, but she believed it was a good thing.  Everyone would perform better knowing they could go home to their families at night, and as far as safety, well you stood as much a chance of a random death on Earth as you did on one of the Explorer class spaceships.  People had lived on them for years and years now.

“Loupe, how are you today?”  Loupe De Canta was one of her favorite little friends; at 4 years old she had a bit of a lisp but they read almost daily and she hoped that the little girl would overcome the lisp in time.  She turned to find that Loupe had brought friends with her.  Six of them!  “Well.  What do you want to read about today?  Hmm?  How about lions and tigers and bears!  Or, a white rabbit with a pocket watch?”

“Lions and tigers and bears!”  They agreed happily.  Marcie already had a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum loaded into the viewer.  She got them settled and started the show.  It wasn’t long before she could hear the Good Witch Glenda and her evil sister the Wicked Witch of the West.

Marcie turned her attention back to the project at hand.  Back on Earth, time continued to flow as normal.  Everyday events took place and what have you.  But here on the ship messages only came in about once every few months.  What she had in essence, was a feed of information coming from planet Earth that was already history when it came in.  The new bits of data had to be added to the old ones, and the history updated.  That was her job in the library.  Keeping history up-to-date.  For example, when they left planet Earth, Atlantis was nothing more than a fabled land.  It had been discovered and excavated back in the late 2800’s.  So the data pertaining to Atlantis as well as that of Plato had to be altered.  Sometimes the new data came in complete and she would simply delete the old file and substitute the new.  Increasingly these days, the data was simply info coming in and it was up to her to collate and write the new data into the old.
Data storage was becoming a problem.  Enough so that she was going to have discuss it with the head librarian soon.  Predictably, the library had only been allotted so much of the Podnik’s memory banks and that space was rapidly filling.  There were less-efficient options, such as the out-dated Compact Discs and actual hard drive storage, although the possibility of these methods breaking down with time would have to be considered.  Also, with physical files she would have no control over what happened to them while she was in cryostasis.  There could be a leak in a water pipe or a hydraulic line and a storage cabinet could be flooded.  There could be a fire.  Because of the location of the library Marci was reasonably certain that she could protect the actual data files from corruption, so the greatest risk would depend on unknowables in the future.  While using these other methods the risk of destroying irreplaceable information is a great deal larger, but something would have to be done within the next 10 years.

Marcie would write all of this down for presentation to the head librarian when he woke.  It would be a few years until he was scheduled for his 5 year cycle.  When he awoke, she would not be there to brief him, as her cryostasis would resume a few months before he came out.  She would have to find out 50 years later what he had decided to do.

Marcie wandered back over to where the children were watching their book.  “Surrender Dorothy…” was just forming in the air over their heads when she came over.

“Mith An-r-then! The witch ith mean!”  Loupe was a bit scared.  The other kids echoed the sentiment, shivering a little.  Marcie went over and threw her hands up in the air, waving them wildly.  The letters dissipated quickly to the smiles and cheers of the kids.  She laughed and sat down, pulling Loupe into her lap.  Seriously, was this the best job in the universe or what?

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5 responses »

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    Like

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