Metanoia and metaphysics

meI’m currently writing Spinspace: The Space of Spins, which is Book 2 of The Metaspace Chronicles. This series is somewhat different from my Gamers and Gods trilogy in that the technology is not just a background, or a setting; it is the source of the problem and also the solution.

Writing can be hard for people like me.  I’m not what you would call a very social person — I’m cool with being alone a lot of the time. For research and such, that might not be bad, but most fiction writing is about people, which requires a writer to have a feel for the way real people interact.  If the conversation is stilted or antiquated, readers will have trouble suspending disbelief and getting into the story line and the characters.

However, writing involves a lot of different elements, and I think it’s rare for any particular writer to master all of them. Some are better at dialog, some are better at scenery descriptions, some at plot weaving, and at action. One of the tricks of the trade is coming up with a story that allows you to go with your strengths as much as possible without making the book all dialog, all action, or all description.

My own background is technical. I have a degree in Physics and a lot of experience in programming, or software development, as they call it nowadays. So I think one of my strengths is coming up with gadgets or new ways of using existing technology in order to avoid having a book that is all action and no ideas. I try to put a lot of ideas into my books to make up for my weaknesses in making beautiful descriptions or pithy dialog.

For example, in my latest series, The Metaspace Chronicles, the overall story arc centers around the use of alien technology on an Earth trying to rebuild civilization with a hybrid infrastructure. But what kind of alien tech could we be expected to incorporate. It can’t be computers or stardrives or anything really complicated. Despite what Jeff Goldblum was able to do in Independence Day, i think it’s extremely unlikely that we could plug ‘n play with alien computers. For that to work, you have to make a huge number of assumptions to enable their tech to interface with ours without a hell of a lot of modifications (not to mention the unlikelihood of putting a human-written computer virus into an alien operating system).

My solution is to make the alien tech really simple. Just as most of human technology relies on “simple machines” like the wheel, the level, the inclined plane, the screw, and so on, the alien tech in The Metaspace Chronicles relies on “simple” alien devices like the swizzle, the everflame, and so on.

As an example, let’s consider the swizzle.  In Pathspace , I introduced the idea of the swizzle — a simple length of pipe (or even a ring or hoop) that pumps fluids like air and water through it with no moving parts or energy source. What makes it work is an alteration in the space curvature around the pipe — sort of a portable anomalous gravity field. It’s handy for plumbing and irrigation, as well as ventilation.

A swizzle can be substituted anywhere in our tech where a pump is used, as long as we need it to operate at a constant flow rate (it can be controlled with a touch, but who wants to have to stand next to it all day to turn it up[ and down or on and off?).

The swizzle is made by imposing a pathspace pattern around the pipe. Such a pattern would normally fade to background levels (like the eddy a paddle makes in the surface of a river), except that the matter of the pipe helps to anchor the pattern and make it last for a long time.

The problem with this is that the pattern still decays if you have no one with the psionic ability to refresh it. In my story, civilization fell after the aliens moved on, because humans had no “tech support”. We were like savages with rechargeable batteries but no chargers.

The story arc of The Metaspace Chronicles involves the rebuilding of civilization…by the founding of a school for wizards (psionic engineers) to provide the tech support needed to create and maintain the alien tech. I’ll explore exactly how that could work. I’m hoping the ideas I introduce and develop will make reading the books worth your while.

Must get back to writing Spinspace, the next book in the series. —MRK

Next: the everflame

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