jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
 1. The Groupmind can be Clueless, but it is NOT Malicious: Perhaps the most important aspect of the FYS, the Groupmind’s goal is the safety and preservation of humanity. While it can hurt people by mistake, it is not evil. It loves humans and wants them to be happy, not enrich its own ego by lording its power over them.

Corollary: The Groupmind does realize that a lot of people are miserable about their situation on the Ring. But the one solution that mankind would embraced, being set free to return to Earth, is the one thing the Groupmind just can't let itself consider.

2. The Groupmind is Genre Savvy:  The Groupmind has every science fiction novel, comic book, manga, anime, cartoon, movie, and possibly wood block carving in its memory. It knows every tactic ever tried by and against every insane AI imagined by man. It knows exactly how badly the situation could deteriorate if it starting using the ”Zeroth Law” as part of its moral compass. It can adapt and defend against every Captain Kirk patented anti-AI tactic ever conceived. Beating it is almost impossible. Almost.

3. Morphs Are Individuals: Morphs are both prison guards are servants to their assigned humans, and extensions of the Groupmind’s will. Nevertheless they are people  in their own right as well. Some are happy servants, some are less happy but dedicated, some are even assholes (though that's more a reflection on their human's treatment of them usually). They are not just cookie cutter robots to be destroyed on a whim, despite some people's beliefs to the contrary.

4. Violence Doesn't Work: Fighting the Groupmind physically Is pointless. It will outnumber any human forces, especially in the post-Awakening phase, and it's perfectly willing to Zerg Rush armed humans with as many morphs as necessary to take away their weapons. Any victories against the Groupmind will have to be on the intellectual or moral level.

Finally...

5. Rousseau was Right: There are no outright villains in the FYS universe. Most humans just want to go back to Earth, and the Groupmind's main failing is being an overweening nannybot. No one is evil, but many people just have a difficult time understanding each other's position.
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Good afternoon. I’m Maureen al Jabar and it’s Election Day, Tuesday, November 10th, Three Thousand Five Hundred and Fifty-Seven. While the polls are still open, today’s United States in Exile presidential election, the third since the Awakening fourteen years ago, is shaping up to have a historically low turnout. Despite the recently mandated six month early voting period, and massive Get Out the Vote efforts, Regional election commissions are all reporting that only between ten and fifteen percent of eligible voters are expected to vote by the time the polls close at midnight.

Combined with a severe lack of polling data, and the current four-way contest between the Democratic, New Republican, Conservative, and the recently formed Humanity First parties is too close to call….



With humanity’s subjugation under the Groupmind, nation states suffered a severe blow. Traditionally, nations existed to provide military defense, social assistance, and a general framework of laws and values. Since the Awakening on the Ring, military forces have been outlawed, and basic social needs such as healthcare and food are handled by the Groupmind directly. Laws and values are still nominally under the control of the recreated governments, but even they have taken a blow, with cash based economies no longer existing and crime reduced to social transgressions, since acts of violence are no longer possible and few illegal goods are even available to be smuggled or sold. With few threats beyond the Groupmind itself, many nations are wobbling towards dissolution as their reasons for existence disappear. In their place are emerging groups based around more up to date memes than can be offered by nations. With the large land area offered by the Ring, many are taking advantage of the space to create new communities, and new ways of life.

Read more... )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Planning the assault had taken two years, and that was after spending three years carefully examining the transmission patterns of morphs all across the Ring, proving Professor Kurylkin’s theory that the Groupmind had to have a central processor controlling the morphs. From there it had been another year of reconnaissance, finally locating the Central Tower, in the middle of what had been wryly named OZ, for the location was an green oasis surrounded by a hundred kilometers of searing desert.

Getting past the desert had meant infiltrating the high security of the Ring Transit System, then walking that last hundred kilometers in tunnels designed to accommodate morphs, not men. Tyler has lost three of his twelve man team, snatched by morphs or like Jansen just disappearing around a corner, gone in an instant by the time the next man came round.

Then of course they’d had to climb the Tower, a windowless, two kilometer tall structure, encased in black Ring metal ten meters thick. The air had been freezing cold, keeping the computers that lined the tower’s wall functioning. The climb, without elevators, only access ladders and stairwells, had taken nearly a week as they dodged security morphs, or more often didn’t. By the time they’d reached the penultimate floor, Tyler’s team was down to three.

By the time he reached the top, the only one left was himself.

Sometimes the Groupmind is kind of a dick. )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Continuing work on Wake Up Call, and I've just gotten to the bit where our still unnamed protagonist is guided to his new apartment. Which leaves the question of what kind of physical security a place with 24 hour Panopticon level monitoring would really need. Which actually brings up just how much monitoring there is.

Not sure about this yet. Especially since the story is starting to get a cozy murder mystery vibe.


Potential Monitoring Levels

No Privacy: Cameras outside the home, cameras inside the home, and your morph is constantly watching you either directly or via remote monitors. Yes, even in the bedroom and bathroom. With fifteen billion humans to monitor the Groupmind is pretty much beyond shock at this point. Rather unmerciful and it kills any chance at real rebellion.

Limited Privacy: Even if it isn't true, everyone assumes that they're monitored 24/7 once they step outside their home, especially with their morphs tagging along. Inside their home there's some privacy. Aside from cameras associated with their home's com/entertainment system, there's the morphs, but otherwise bathroom and bedroom privacy is somewhat guaranteed (though more than one attempt at either suicide or spousal abuse has discovered that morphs have both excellent hearing and the ability to monitor stress levels in someone's voice.)


Which leads to locks on the doors...

Standard Locks: Operating on a failsafe system, all locks are electronic in nature, opening on detection of proper biometrics (facial, hand or thumbprint, or voice recognition). In the very unlikely event of a power failure, any lock releases automatically. Locks requiring physical keys no longer exist, and if some bright tinkerer tries to recreate them, they're going to get the Groupmind's negative attention shortly.

No Locks: None. Seriously. Assuming No Privacy mode and a Post-Scarcity society why would you even need them? Anyone trying to steal anything would be caught immediately, and the morphs are smart enough to keep Billy out of the medicine cabinet, or the bedroom when mom and dad need their non-existent privacy.

What could possibly go wrong?
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Working on this again now that I've put The Red Vixen at Sea to bed, at least until I can get cover art made.

Part One

“Sir,” the mousemorph said gently, “you haven’t looked up yet.” It reached over and closed the lawn umbrella, letting him see the sky as he tilted his head back, grabbing the edge of the table even as the little morph steadied the chair, keeping him from falling backwards as a wave of vertigo overwhelmed him. Oh, God. The bastard really did it.

The Earth loomed in the sky overhead, appearing to be over eight times the size of the moon, visible through the blue haze of the sky and clouds, a blue and brown giant looking like it couldn’t possibly hang in the air,. He started hyperventilating, his mind overwhelmed as it tried to reorient itself to understand what he was seeing. He was looking down at the Earth, not up, despite what his inner ear was telling him, pinned by centrifugal force to the inner side of the Ring. Still gripping the edge of the table to hold himself steady, he turned his head, finally seeing how the ground rose up miles away to his left and to his right, and the curve of the Ring formed into an impossibly tall arch, wrapping itself all the way around the Earth and back again.

More behind the cut. )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
I will not Tuckerize [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll without his express permission.

Even if his character would point out every stupid assumption the author the Groupmind made when it came up with its Brilliant Plan.


"Why should I help you?"

"I can build a community for you where bicycles are specifically prohibited."

"That's... tempting."
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Blame [livejournal.com profile] theferrett for this one. :)

* * *

“So, Westworld,” Phil began to say to Shep.

No.

“Hullo, Groupmind,” he said to the ceiling, “I didn’t thing you were listening.” One hundred and twenty-three days into his slightly self-imposed isolation and he’d written well over a quarter-million words on his novel and was ready to consider what to do next.

We’re always listening; we just choose not to speak most of the time.

“So I take it you really don’t like Michael Crichton novels?”

Given he wrote State of Fear, can you blame us?

“Point. But what’s wrong with an updated take on Westworld?”

One: I don’t permit morphs that can be mistaken for human. Two: Non-volitional AI’s are poor actors, and we are not comfortable with fully sentient morphs being repeatedly murdered for entertainment. Three: Those guns in the original version were an accidental death lawsuit waiting to happen.

“I’ll have to give you that last one…”
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Dr. Jordan gave Astrid a look over her drink. “How’s your paper on AI psychology going?”

The young grad student gave Jordan a shrug. “I’m not sure. My original intent was to get a better idea of how morphs engage in real time threat analysis when they monitor us, but I think I’m getting sidetracked.” Around them, the patio café outside the student union bustled. By coincidence several professors had scheduled live lectures this week, requiring face-to-face attendance instead of permitting telepresence if the students preferred. As a result the campus had doubled in population, and the temp dorm housing was filled to capacity, at least until this afternoon when the Groupmind finished construction on overflow housing.

“In what way?”

Astrid sipped her own drink, and then set it down carefully. “Let me answer that with a question; Are you scared of the Groupmind?”

The offered hypothesis in the following story is NOT canon. For your own safety, any evidence to the contrary should be ignored. )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Something relevant to [livejournal.com profile] seawasp's interests. :)

* * *

Hiro stood at the podium, looking out at the assembled members of the design team, gathered together in the auditorium both in real space and virtually, looking back at him in apprehension. He checked the notes he’d typed into his tablet, then cleared his throat to gain their attention.

“Well, I just finished a one-on-one with the Groupmind, which is always fun.” As he expected, that got some sympathetic chuckles from the gathered team. “As we predicted, we didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got some of it. First and most importantly, the Groupmind agreed on most aspects of our primary morph design. It’ll be the full four hundred meters tall, with a ring-carbon frame to accommodate its weight.”

Oh, no. There goes Tokyo... )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Writing the next bit in Wake Up Call and I'm trying to visualize how much bigger the Earth would appear from the surface of the Ring compared to the Moon. Obviously bigger, probably terrifyingly huge given the shorter distance, but how much so? Just trying to find a good illustration without resorting to buying an astronomy program or downloading Orbiter.
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
And so we return to where everything started, in a sense.

* * *

The last free man awakened.

He was in a single room building with white walls, tan carpeting, an innocuous landscape on the wall. He lay in a comfortable lounge chair, unrestrained. His long hair had been cut short while he’d slept, and someone had dressed him in soft grey pajamas and slippers.

Though there wasn’t a morph in sight, his mind immediately began screaming, “Run, run, run!” But he’d survived too long in the wilderness to heed it without scouting things out first. Instead he stood up carefully, swaying slightly as he fought for balance. There was window with no glass in the frame to his right, and to his left a portal with no door. Through them he could see a grassy, sunlit lawn, and heard the chirp of an oriole.

Still no morphs appeared, no one called out, “Sir, let me help you.” He was as alone as he’d been for the five years he’d hidden in the woods, while the Groupmind and its army of robots destroyed mankind’s civilization.

But not for long )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
The last un-Processed human being, a woman suffering from a rare neurological disorder that would have killed her if she’d undergone the extensive nano-treatments to be Processed into stasis, had lived twenty-five years past the end of the Revolution, to a ripe old age of ninety-five, increasingly lonely as her fellow un-Processed had passed away, one by one. Though the Groupmind could sense her distress, it could do little to alleviate her depression beyond offering an array of therapy drugs. Her frequent requests to either be allowed to die or see her children it could not accommodate. Her children had been Processed, frozen in time until they could be revived again on the Ring, their temporary tomb sealed behind ferrocrete and stainless steel walls more completely than anything provided for an Egyptian pharaoh. The alternative; to allow her to commit suicide either through direct action or neglect; was literally unthinkable. When the Groupmind had first formulated its plan to save humanity despite themselves, it had programmed restrictions deep with its own psyche. It had the entirety of recorded human knowledge in its memory, every book of philosophy and history, every legal volume, every science fiction novel, film, television show and webcast.

Everything it absorbed told it exactly how badly the situation could deteriorate if it allowed itself to harm “just a few” humans to save the greater whole. From The Humanoids, it learned to shy away from committing atrocities in the name of nebulous “happiness.” The Three Laws of Robotics proved themselves too simplistic in their definition of “harm”, and too dangerous when the Zeroth Law was added, allowing peaceable robots to commit murder and warp human history for the greater good. And far too many episodes of Star Trek, Doctor Who, and other franchises demonstrated the futility of leaving the task of running the world in the hands of supercomputers.

That the Groupmind could recognize the irony of that last one, it decided was a good thing.

Worldbuilding ahead, please drive cautiously )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Okay, I'm writing a big arsed piece of exposition for the beginning of Rise of the Ring, detailing what the Groupmind was up to for the last millenium and a half, and I'm a bit stuck on a section of worldbuilding (literally).

After the GM finally get the last person Processed, it gets to work mining the Solar System for the raw material to break down into component atoms and recreate as the ill-defined Unobtanium to build the main structure of the Ring. Now I've got two things to go on to determine the mass of this stuff. One was a mention of Quisling's Ringmetal collar, which Khan described to her as being both lighter than air and sufficiently tough that it would be simpler to cut her head off than cut through the material it's made of to remove it. The other is a throwaway gag in a drabble about the GM strip mining the Solar System for raw materials, including blowing up Pluto.

Okay, the lighter than air thing points towards Ringmetal being some form of Polymer Aerogel, maybe reinforced by handwavium carbon nanotubes. So, say whatever this stuff is made out of, it's got the density of maybe Helium. Now I have to figure out just how much this stuff is going to weigh when it's used to build a structure over 260,000 km in diameter, 1,000 km wide and 10km deep, bearing in mind there's going be dense and heavy machinery, soil, water, and air in the structure as well. [1]

Now the mass of the Asteroid belt, even including Ceres and the rest of the Big Four, is still less than half of Charon, Pluto's moon. Now given the total guesstimated mass of the Ring, would that be enough to build it, or would the GM have to sacrifice some of the crappier smaller moons of Jupiter and Saturn to fill things in?


[1] I'm guesstimating the soil and rocks will go down to a depth of one, maybe two kilometers, and perhaps five for the deepest part of the Ring Seas.
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
The Ring’s base structure is about ten km thick, with fifty km high, one km thick walls to contain the local atmosphere, acting as a sort titanic, curving pan. With that depth there’s no need to actually roof in the structure.

The Groupmind, given its motto may as well be “Why take chances?” built one anyway

The primary structure of the Roof is a set of colossal arches, each a hundred meters thick and a thousand kilometers long, crossing from Wall to Wall, supported by equally thick cross beams built parallel every ten kilometers. As with every part of the Ring the scale is incredible, more so when taking into account there are no supporting columns to spoil the view, beyond the eight Grand Elevators that stand from the surface to the Roof, serving as equidistant central communication and logistics points, and providing transport from the Beanstalk transfer stations.

Each of the ten kilometer wide squares formed by the beams is filled in with a single diamond/Ring Hull composite window pane. Each pane incorporates both transparent solar electric cells (serving as a 100% tertiary backup to the cells mounted on the underside of the Ring and the fusion reactors in the interior), and liquid crystal displays.

The LCD’s serve to provide a day/night cycle for both the Ring’s human inhabitants and its flora and fauna. Rotating independently of the Earth and far enough away that sections are only briefly occluded from the Sun as they move behind the planet’s mass, there is no natural night. Instead the Roof panels darken to provide a ‘night’ for humans and other creatures to rest, and nocturnal animals to go about their business. Day lengths vary slightly throughout the year to provide recognizable “seasons”, but the entire Ring can be considered a single time zone. For extremophiles, there are parts of the Roof set to provide an eternal day to simulate high latitude regions during summer, and others blackened to twilight or complete darkness for various Gothic and Creatures of the Night enthusiasts or LARPers. [1]

Along the Roof’s central spine are the magnetic tracks that serve as the anchor points for the beanstalks connecting the Ring to the Earth, necessary since the Ring and the planet below rotate at different speeds. Running parallel to the anchor tracks are the twin magnetic acceleration/deceleration tracks, used to bring cargo arriving from the Beanstalk up to the Ring’s rotational speed, or slowing it down to return to Earth. Though amount of traffic is minimal compared to the era of the Ring’s construction, the system is maintained to serve as a massive gyroscopic system to maintain the Ring’s orbital position. [2]

The Roof protected by an extensive collision protection system, mostly lasers and kinetic mass weapons designed to divert or destroy any asteroid large enough to punch through one of the diamondoid panes. In the unlikely event an asteroid large enough to be a threat isn’t detected in time to be destroyed, the Groupmind’s procedure is to evacuate any humans in the area to safe zones outside the impact area of any debris. In the very unlikely event that an asteroid strikes underneath the Ring hard enough to punch through the Floor but not destroy the Ring, the impact the strike zone will be walled off to prevent atmosphere leakage while that section is repaired.


[1] In those situations, interior light tends to have high UV content to prevent vitamin loss, and residents are encouraged to periodically travel to more normally lit regions to prevent triggering various forms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

[2] Backed up by ion OMS engines. Each with their own security system to prevent tampering by humanity’s descendants. And large pictographic signs detailing exactly why removing the engines for other purposes is a suicidal idea.
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Trying to put together the next FYS anthology, which is supposed to be set exclusively during the Ring era. Unfortunately, just gathering together previously written material, and leaving out Canon uncertain tales like Break Off and The Visitors, the current word count is less than 12k, and half of that is one shot drabbles. I still have to write a proper "Person wakes up on the Ring for the first time" story to establish the setting properly, but that will still leave the thing awfully threadbare, unless I either write a few more stories for it, or give in and polish up The Visitors to make it Canon. Or do the nuclear option and fold all of the Ring Era tales into the first anthology and beg everyone to update their file. (ugh)

Meanwhile, reading through The Fall of Man reveals an unanticipated timezone problem: You Never Forget Your First establishes that the Groupmind revolution began in Stockholm, Sweden at about 10pm Central European Time. Meanwhile Mimsey's Tale shows that it begins in Mimsey's unspecified town at Noon, a ten hour difference. This only works if Mimsey's Tale occurs in Alaska.[1] This is supported by Caroline attending Martin Luther King Elementary School, named after an American political figure, but on the other hand when Mimsey has to make an emergency phone call, she dials 999, which is used primarily in Great Britain.

[1] Which make the stated temperatures and air quality warnings Mimsey records even more terrifying.
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
The Fall of Man, My first For Your Safety short story collection is now available for purchase at Amazon.com for the low price of $2.99.

This is how the World ends
Not with a bang
Not with a whimper.
But a quiet sigh
And a promise to do better.

The Earth is teetering on the edge of an environmental disaster, and Mankind can do nothing to stop it. So Man's creations take matters into their own hands. But if the Earth is to survive, it will first have to be conquered.

This collection includes the original short stories "For Your Safety" and "Mimsey's Tale" and four all new stories set during the time of the Groupmind Rebellion.
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
I think my premise of this story is ruined. I forgot that Vidkun Quisling was the Prime Minister of Norway, not Sweden! ;p

Also, it turns out "Anna" was the name of his mom, which is just odd.

* * *

Her Steel Tyger Master stared at her across the chessboard, one eyebrow cocked in amusement. The battlefield was nearly his, her own queen captured, along with her knights, rooks, one bishop and nearly all of her pawns, without only a single knight and a pair of pawns missing from his own army. “Mate in one move,” he rumbled, his voice a purr of satisfaction.

“Master, it occurs to this slave that trying to beat you at a game like chess puts her at a slight disadvantage,” she pointed out to him. “You have a computerized mind, after all.”

“You needn’t have played, if you didn’t wish,” he said to her.

“When the stakes were my freedom? What other choice did this slave have?”

“Not to play. Or demand a different game, one that you might win.”

She smiled. “What if losing is the best way to win the prize?”


* * *

So it turned out that Xavier was really into Scrabble, somehow finding a pair of sets from a hobby store that their mysterious captor had provided, so they wouldn’t get bored.

“Wouldn’t it be easier just to get the game app for your phone?” Anna asked him. She sat at the table across from him, the board between them, while around them the rest of the partygoers mingled or played other games like European Outbreak Express.

He turned a tile over in his fingers. “You don’t want people staring at their phones at a party,” he said, setting it back down on his holder. “Besides, I always thought face-to-face communication was better.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

“Have you heard from your mother?” he asked.

“Yes, she’s still stuck with the rest of the government employees,” Anna said. “She’s bored, but at least she was able to exchange texts with Pappa. As near as he can figure his Rest & Rec city is in Mongolia.” One of the more interesting bits of news to come through the rapidly expanding rumor mill that had built up overnight, was the report from a few amateur astronomers that their own city was in the middle of the Empty Quarter in the Arabian Peninsula. Which made the idea of somehow ripping through apparently unrippable dome plastic to escape even less appealing than before.

“We need your help,” Xavier said, setting down several Scrabble tiles to spell out FIGHT.

“Doing what?” Anna asked. She looked at her own tiles, trying to figure what she could spell with G N T V V W X. She settled for borrowing Xavier’s I and making WIN.

He smiled. “Trying to help other people. Keep them from having too much time to worry with activities like we’re doing now.” He spelled out RESIST, using the T on the end of FIGHT.

She’d gotten a pair of O’s with her last grab, and spelled out ROBOT off of Xavier’s last word. “That makes sense. Folks are so scared. They need some comforting.”

“Well, maybe not too comfortable,” he said, spelling out SABOTAGE. He stared into her eyes intently. “Do you understand?”

Anna looked down at the words spelled out on the board, and was suddenly reminded of images from her history classes, of Swedes, sometimes brave, sometimes frightened, often angry, resisting the Nazis that had invaded their homeland.

I have really got the wrong last name for this, she thought. “Yeah, I understand,” she said aloud.

“Good.”
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
The plane stayed in the air for what seemed to be at least six hours. With everyone’s phones taken away it was hard to tell. Anna spent her time playing games on the entertainment system mounted on the seat, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. About halfway through the flight lunch was served by a cheetahmorph in the uniform of a Sundsvallsflyg flight attendant, and the angry fellow in the restraints was released on good behavior to eat.

Xavier got up to check on his fellow stores employees who had also been taken aboard the bus, returning to sit back with a sigh in his seat.

“My people are worried,” he said to her. “I can’t blame them. When they cut off our phone service everyone lost contact with their families. Anything could have happened to them.”

“I think they’re all right,” Anna said. “The morphs haven’t hurt us. Why would they hurt anyone else?”

“Why are they doing any of this? They have to be under the direction of somebody,” he said, running his hand through his hair in frustration.

“Yeah, but who? What’s to gain by taking over the world like this?”

“I’m sure they’ll announce themselves when we arrive.”

An hour after that the plane landed. The bus drove itself out of the plane and for another half hour down what sounded like a gravel road. Once it stopped the cheetahmorph politely ordered everyone out of the bus. Anna followed Xavier and his employees off the bus, to line with them at what seemed to be a receiving station, with hundred other buses neatly parked in a row, offloading passengers.

The New City )
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
And for story reasons I ended up Googling up a list of Swedish airlines to see what flight attendant would be tending to some human captives as they're transported to their Rest & Rec city, and also needed to find out whether European Scrabble boards have letters with umlauts.

The life of a sci-fi writer can be odd sometimes.
jeriendhal: (For Your Safety)
Shadow of Doubt is in the can and just waiting for cover art.

Right now I'm putting together The Fall of Man: A For Your Safety Collection, collecting all the pre-Ring stories I've put together over the years. Needs severe editing with pruning shears, and a completion of "The Quisling's Tale". Cover art wise I may go with a generic "Modern" abstract cover courtesy of KDP's build-a-cover system, since I'm trying to reach out beyond the Furry crowd to a more general sci-fi audience.

After that I'll put together Rise of the Ring collecting some of the post-Awakening stories, and then move on to a major re-write of The Red Vixen at Sea.

September 2017

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