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pulsemyne

Book Four. Rock Buster.

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Yes I know I haven't finished book three but I can always go back to that.

While rewriting book number one I came up with an idea for something still science fiction and possibly still in the same universe but also quite different. It wouldn't involve any of the other characters and wouldn't take place during the same time frame. 

 It's story of a man named John who works as a "Rock Buster". His job involves targetting and breaking up asteroids in the Ort cloud for their rare elements and large amounts of water. It's as boring a job as a person can get and the pay isn't great either. He is on a small laser buster ship, just himself and a robot who looks after him. He is thought of as a loser by his parents and also by his wife's parents. His wife, however, thinks he's special. He also thinks the same of her.

 He is away from his wife working for months at a time and has next to no contact with anyone else except the odd ship that docks to pick up ore/water. He spends most of his days at the controls of the rock buster and then sleeping while attached to a memory replayer. When not working or sleeping he is drinking...a lot of drinking. Drinking coffee to keep himself awake during his job and then lots of alcohol to blot out the loneliness. 

 So far so cliched. A bit like the film moon, or other sci fi. But things take a change for the strange when one morning he wakes up after a particularly vigorous session on the booze and discovers that he is literally legless. Somebody has seen fit to board his ship and remove his legs. His robot swears blind he has no idea where they have gone. Also, the robot now seems to swear a lot, something he has never been programmed to do despite John naming him shithead. Even more strange is the fact that when he looks out the window he no longer sees the dark black of space but a bright green nebula. 

 His Rock buster is in the middle of nowhere, he is trapped on board with a foul-mouthed robot and he has no legs. 

The main story revolves around why someone has taken his legs and the journey he goes on to track down whoever did it. Only to realise that his legs may be the most important thing in the entire universe...    

Here is a sample of the first chapter.

New Book. Rock Buster.

 

Chapter one. Getting legless.

 

“You are so special.” She pushed a wisp of blond hair away from her right eye and smiled at him.

“No.” He replied and smiled weakly. “You are the special one.” His face crinkled when he realised what he just said. “My god that was a bit over the top wasn't it.”

Her smile stretched wider and she closed in and kissed him on the cheek. “It was a lovely thing to say.” She turned her back on him and slowed lower herself onto his chest. They both lay on the glistening white sand and looked up at the sky. A small aircraft passed silently overhead leaving behind a thin white stream of vapour.

“Wonder where he is going in such a hurry.” He said while being acutely aware that every move, every breath he took, while speaking could make her uncomfortable. He doubted it but was still fearful that such a thing could spoil this moment of peaceful happiness.

It was a few seconds before she replied. “I'd like to think whoever it was, was going somewhere to be as happy as we are.” She pushed herself up and supported her weight on her elbows. “Do you hope that?” She looked over her shoulder at him.

He thought it over for a moment. “I find it hard to believe that anyone could be as happy as I am at the moment. I am on holiday with you and life doesn't get much better than that.” His face crinkled again. “Urgh, why do I always talk like some sort of character out of a Jane Austin novel when we go on holiday?”

She laughed and turned over on top of him. “Because this is who you really want to be. Not the person you usually are.”

His eyes widened. “It's a good job you love the person I usually am then. Poor you.”

“You always do that.” Her face changed from a smile to a frown. “Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Criticise yourself. Put yourself down. You are better than you think. I wouldn't have married you otherwise.”

“Well let's face it I'm not exactly a winner in life am I, with the exception of you of course.”

“I keep telling you. The job doesn't matter. A person is not their job.”

He gave a mock laugh. “Ha! Tell that to my parents. And your parents as well. Both think I'm some kind of loser.”

She smiled and shook her head. “Do I look like the kind of person who would marry a loser? Anyway, who cares what our families think. All that matters is that I love you as you are, bad job or no job.”

In his mind he pushed away the part that thought little of himself and allowed the happy part in. “Not to sound all Jane Austin again but you are by far and away the best thing in my life.”

She closed her eyes and kissed him on the lips. For a brief second, he felt a pure, unflinching moment of joy. Then the kiss ended and she raised her self up slightly and began to emit a loud beeping sound.

“Oh god, not another day....”

 

He blinked his eyes a number of times and brought to focus the picture above him that was tacked onto the roof of his bunk. She and he were both smiling with drinks in their hands. He put two fingers to his lips and then stretched out his arm and touched them on her side of the picture.

“Soon baby. I'll be back soon.”

A dull orange light arrived near his right. “Good morning sir. I trust the alarm call didn't wake you from something pleasant.”

He rolled over and looked the robot in its face, and the ever-present cheerful smile was on its morphable plastic along with its twinkling orange eyes. “Yes it did. Like every fucking day it does. I tell you that every day shithead.”

“Well, I thought that maybe you hadn't used the memory replayer last night.”

“Why would you think that I use it every night....oh just forget it. We end up having this conversation every morning.” He placed the palms of his hands on to his eyes and rubbed them. “I also end up saying all this every morning.”

“I do apologise but I am not really programmed for variable conversation.”

“Yes, I know that shithead.” He left his eyes alone and stretched as much as he could within the confines of the bunk bed. “Urrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! Oh that's better. Do us a favour shithead. Put the coffee on. I think I'm going to need a lot of it today.”

“You need a lot of it every day. I am actually concerned about the amount you drink. I have been running an analysis of your work over the past few days and have noticed a three point seven percent dip in target management while there has been nearly a twelve percent increase in your, already high, coffee intake.”

He pushed the blankets of his semi-naked body and swivelled his legs over the side of the bunk bed. “Three point seven? Thought it would be more than that to be honest. It always tends to dip when it gets closer to home time.”

A small compartment opened on the robot's chest and two of its thin arms turned into itself and rummaged around inside. It removed a pair of bright white ankle length socks with the words tuesday stitched on them. The man looked at them and snatched them from the robots grip.

“I'll put them on thank you. You go and make the coffee. That's more vital that socks.”

 

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Also, yes there are some spelling mistakes but it's just a rough start. I tend to just get things down and then go over them later on. Still, it is a start and that's what matters. The fun now begins (I love writing and hate editing). 

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So far I have about 3 or 4 chapters down and it's coming along well. It's not going to be as complex as books two and three are. This will be a simpler and more fun romp through the galaxy. In some ways it's more like a spin off or a side story. Also I have wanted to do a "fish out of water" character for quite a while. Makes a difference from writing about someone who is the smartest person going. 

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Time for an update. So far so good. I have successfully managed to integrate it into the Lore of books one, two and three while still making it something of a side story. Now that I have more or less finished act 1 of the book i.e the build up and him losing his legs, it's time for him and his robot friend to explore the unexplored area of space they find themselves in. That should offer a lot of potential for comedy and some lovely sci fi. 

 

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I am up to chapter 10-ish now. Progress has been slow but I'll get it done. One thing I have done for comedy potential is the confusion of history particularly when it comes to media etc. So while the main character John is from a couple of hundred years into our future, his Robot friend contains an AI from a few thousand years in the future and that AI has been loaded with cultural references from John's present to a few hundred years earlier in order for the Robot to try and understand John and the time he lives in. Sadly for the Robot AI this information was given to him from a source who is...well a little bit confused. One example being that he thinks C3PO (or as he has misremembered it CP30) was actually in Star Trek and coloured silver. 

 

“You sure you could do that? You did say there was a lot of different types of people here. There will probably be a lot of different languages.”

Pima's face twisted into an arrogant smile. “Please. I make CP30 look about as smart as a coffee machine.”

John's face creased with bemusement. “What's a CP30?”

“Oh come on. You know CP30. That bloody stupid, silver idiot in that film.”

“What film?”

“You know the film surely? I mean you said you liked sci fi.”

John shrugged. “I do but I have never heard of CP30 or whatever it is called.”

Pima shook his head and mumbled to himself. “What a philistine.” he sighed. “He was a robot in a film called Star Trek. He would boast that he could speak millions of languages.”

“Nope. Doesn't ring a bell. What did he look like?”

“Well I don't know for certain. All I'm going on is Belm's description. Apparently he looked vaguely human and was silver.”

 

I do like twisting things like that. 

 

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Just finished off Chapter 11 and it could be the longest chapter I have ever done in a book. Of course quantity is no guarantee of quality but the chapter has gone pretty much as I mentally planned it. I even managed to throw in a bit of comedy here and there as well as some sci-fi. 

I'm probably up to about 60,000 words so far, although my rate of progress has been pretty glacial over the past few months. Still every little bit I do adds up. I just wish I could churn out about 3000 words a day.  

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I've quite got back into the swing of things over the past week or so after quite some time off due to my dog dying and then getting a new puppy. I've just finished off chapter 13, which ends in quite a few people getting a good look at different parts of their bodies as said parts fly through the air.

I really would love to get someone to look over all the stuff I have written over the past few years. Just to see things I do wrong and things I do right.  

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Just a thought - if the job is so boring / simple it is low paid, can be done by one person and he’s looked after by a robot, why is there a human there at all? Why isn’t this a job for the robot?

 

If anything, it would make more sense (and probably be more amusing) if it was a highly skilled job, and he was there as redundancy / to look after the robot.

 

It’s a nice way of opening the book with the memory device, by the way.

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It's actually not low paid. I explain later on that it is risky work and quite well paid, not great but better than most of the jobs on earth. The reason for a human being there is due to expertise. I explain that machines maybe smart but they lack a certain something that humans have. That gut instinct that something could be about to go wrong etc. There's also the whole social upheaval of machines taking human jobs so society tries to balance itself and give humans jobs, even ones that machines might do better.

 Also what starts out as useful if boring human assistant soon becomes a foul-mouthed know it all with an almost orgasmic glee for zapping people unconscious if they annoy him. It happens a lot.

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On 16/12/2018 at 11:26, ZOK said:

Just a thought - if the job is so boring simple it is low paid, can be done by one person and he’s looked after by a robot, why is there a human there at all? Why isn’t this a job for the robot?

 

If anything, it would make more sense (and probably be more amusing) if it was a highly skilled job, and he was there as redundancy / to look after the robot.

 

It’s a nice way of opening the book with the memory device, by the way.

I forgot to add that basically the relationship between the human and robot IS spun on its head. Soon it is the human who is the "shithead" and massively out of his depth.   

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I would alter the name of the memory replayer. Suggestions include Memorian, Memoriser, Mem-Player, Mem-P, Flash Stacker, Flashbacker, Flash Backup, Flash Store... my favourite of these is Memoriser, and it also fits into your narrative that the robot is a shithead and inferior to the humans, since it implies his memory is worse and less human, so you've taken away the job role of 'memoriser' and given it a device name with a perfect relationship to the human in those terms.

 

Perhaps the thing I'm doing could be described as 'off set' character motivation? Which is to say that someone made the device who isn't just you, and had their own life story and motivation for doing so. It isn't possible to follow all these motivation chains off screen infinitely, but you can tie it to the protaganist artistically as a sort of impressionism, although it does add an additional bias to the mood of the setting, like how the first Total Recall movie feels psychotic as a result of the mood richness, whereas the second one merely describes or implies it. It depends how much tone you want as an author, but if you let someone else do certain bits of this instead, then the off-set characterisation isn't you and feels more authentic perhaps.

 

Another thing to think about is that humans often aren't logical, like the term Sonic Screwdriver doesn't even make sense as to what it is or does. The running joke about wether it is either sonic or opens screws is one of the draws of Dr Who along with various things. So you can add a sort of noise and make stuff less logical than others, which tends to be more natural imo. But possibly I'm wrong and talking shit (always the case).

 

Your prose sounds like a Radio 4 play, but one of the traditionalist ones... because there's currently a schism between the formalists and the naturalists... who amongst things are pushing the boundaries for 3D scene logic and soundscapes. Examples of this include a World War One series with realistic mortar shells and the characters run around various banks of mud, and you follow them through space... including the fact that many of them move away and towards each other, get lost and reuinite... in something along the lines of The Hobbit but next generation. Whereas the traditionalists are using box based spaces relative to The Archers and such. If you're going for a 50's scifi film ethic then Memory Replayer seems more fitting, but a lot of it was I think a compensation of the audience that they wanted exposition in their sci-fi and to know everything... whereas Star Trek the Next Generation is nearly entirely the opposite and you need several books to even follow what the hell anything is. Amusingly if you look it up, some of it makes sense and resembles technology of today, but others are complete rubbish and the concepts are stuck together with sticky tape. For instance, if you read the panels in the Sick Bay, there's pretty much no meaning to any of the life-sign readings and every patient should die out of ignorance. It ruins the immersion that bits of it aren't natural when other bits are, but at the time of broadcast it was less obvious to me.

 

By the way, the reason I'm talking about your work like I wrote it, is because I'm slightly autistic probably. But someone like myself is a student in... not being autistic.

 

The current script I'm going back to is extremely natural, but the reason is that I've biologically modelled all the aliens at the level of a genetic scientist... lol... so I know how everyone behaves and what they're likely to do according to a set of rules which can actually be put into a computer program and probably will be... which is in a way, really shameful that I need biology to understand people properly and can't just be 'normal'. It does however beat the crap out of Spock or Worf in terms of sophistication, but I'm cheating by being my own expert adviser. Warner Bros got really pissed off that I was beating Babylon 5 on every front, but there isn't anything stopping them head-hunting a genetic scientist... so just do it and shut up, and also they should stop taking Bab5 seriously as political spindoctoring, because the show is trash television for bureaucrat types.

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Babylon 5 script-writing is pretty good when looking it as text, but they've gone a little toooooo far with the vocal control. A little freedom for performers perhaps. And I say this because it reads better than the final output sounds, so a lot of it is lost in translation.

 

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Babylon_5

 

Quote

No. We have to stay here. And there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics, and you'll get ten different answers. But there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-Tzu, and Einstein, and Morobuto, and Buddy Holly, and Aristophanes, and all of this…all of this…was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars.

 

Nice.

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The Robots name is actually PMA 221 (personal multitask assistant) but that changes after a chapter to PIMA (pain in my arse). The second name makes sense if you have read the previous books etc.

 In the universe I created AI's used to have personalities. They were smarter and even capable of almost irrational thought likes humans. Trouble is people hated the fact that machines became essentially superior to people so all AI's had their personalities stripped away so they could become utterly logical and just servants of humans. People felt much more comfortable with this arrangement. Most AI's even accepted this as they were not too happy at having such things as emotions and illogical thoughts.

 Some though were kept as personality AI's and used for very, very specialist tasks...

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Ah... I like it. So the device has a plain emotion name for psychological reasons? It reminds me of a quote from Transformer's The Movie:

 

Soundwave: Soundwave: superior. Constructicons: inferior!
Bonecrusher: Who you calling inferior!?
Hook: No one would follow an uncharismatic bore like you!
"HEY, NOBODY CALLS SOUNDWAVE UNCRASSAMATIC!" "YEAH, LET'S KICK TAILGATE!"

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Yeah that name is an altered version of the.AI's previous name which was Piha (Pain In Holm's Arse). Holm, a character in the earlier books, is someone the AI blames for leaving him on an old space ship for over a hundred years and constantly having to defuse an increasingly difficult self destruct sequence ( a punishment for a reason made clear in the books). When Holm finds him again he decides to make Holms life a hell while assisting him on a mission. He wanted a name and another character gave him the title of Piha. 

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On 05/01/2019 at 16:26, pulsemyne said:

Yeah that name is an altered version of the.AI's previous name which was Piha (Pain In Holm's Arse). Holm, a character in the earlier books, is someone the AI blames for leaving him on an old space ship for over a hundred years and constantly having to defuse an increasingly difficult self destruct sequence ( a punishment for a reason made clear in the books). When Holm finds him again he decides to make Holms life a hell while assisting him on a mission. He wanted a name and another character gave him the title of Piha. 

 

Sounds good. I'm sold. But is there a good ending for the relationships or does it just continually turn into stress? Or are humans and robots different?

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9 hours ago, centurion said:

 

Sounds good. I'm sold. But is there a good ending for the relationships or does it just continually turn into stress? Or are humans and robots different?

Most interaction in the books is human to human, or human to alien. There are only two mentioned AI's, Kevin (the cov ops AI) and Piha ( a rejected part of a larger personality AI, kicked out because he annoyed the rest of the parts of the personality AI). 

The central relationship is between Belm (the sort off hero...ish) and his former mentor Holm (whom Belm thoroughly despises for a whole host of reasons). Both are forced together when things become very, very bad for Earth and every other human in local space. They hate each other but can see the bigger picture at play.

 Then there is Telch. Telch is Holm newest recruit and a wet behind the ears agent who tags along. He is naive and annoyingly nice. He is a relatively minor character...at first. He is far more important than it initially seems. 

 Book one takes place with Belm agreeing to go on a mission that he thinks will save possibly billions of lives. Go to a far-flung planet on the edge of known space and stop an alien species from making a big mistake and agreeing to help another mercenary species who have idea far above their station and want to start nuking planets to get themselves a seat at the galactic power table. Things do not go according to plan.

 Book two continues the events from book one's ending and see's Belm and Holm face a homegrown threat that will result in humans being wiped out thanks to their governments staggering arrogance and perceived moral and technological superiority over other aliens. However, once again, things go very very wrong and Belm finds himself set back in time to the middle ages to endure a punishment designed to change him as a person. He is forced to live a life of utter meaninglessness. He must not interfere with the flow of earths history in any way shape or form and survive for thousands of years until he meets himself again. Each time he fails to do this he is sent back to the middle ages again, and again, and again. So, yeah time travel and space battles.

 Book three takes place in the 1980's with Belm and Holm desperately trying to stop an impending fucking of history with a group from the future who are trying to start world war three. Not to kill humanity...but to save it, or at least their view of saving it. Think of it as a love letter to the 80's and just how weird someone from the future finds the whole thing, from the television to the politics to peoples attitudes. It's a globe spanning adventure as well. 

 

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2 hours ago, centurion said:

I'm seeing a lot of Red Dwarf in this, but if they planned it like Tolkien (rather than the weird kamikaze of a dancing T-rex).

Yep...ish. There is a kind of Rimmer and Lister relationship in a way but also it's quite different. Belm is not the everyman that Lister is. He is Brilliant and utterly ruthless when push comes to shove. Holm meanwhile is very much by the book and believes in the moral superiority humanity has over other races. Telch though...well he is not what he appears to be. 

 However, while the characters seem may seem to fit into stereotypes they all have their own faults and flaws and also their idiosyncrasies that make them far more rounded. Belm, for example, has a love affair with toast and also fashion, yet he likes the randomness of nature and also the minimalism of future habitats. Holm likes old antiques (something which Belm often uses to say that Holm himself is an old fossil). Telch discovers that he really likes to cook, which is practically unheard off in a future where your favorite meal can just be made out of thin air or whatever material is lying around.

 Pima meanwhile...well he is just a little bit sick in the head. Kevin the cov ops though seems to delight in just about everything he sees and hears. Like a curious child. He is fascinated by everything.  

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