Glotmorf on 9 Apr 2002 04:57:38 -0000

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spoon-business: Nomilogue #5

{{ _Where No Player Has Gone Before_


They were quiet as we boarded.  The lab crew, the construction team, the maintenance staff, all the people who weren't going to be on the maiden voyage, standing there, silent, watching.  Their faces spoke tension, anticipation, excitement, dread.  What they tried not to say, what none of the watchers actually voiced, was, "God, I'm glad that's not me."

So much excitement caused by so unexciting a thing.  I could see why the staff called it "boring" to look at, even if I would never use the word myself; after all, I've never been so bored by something that I'd wanted to wet my pants over.  Still, walking up to the huge, boxy hulk, I couldn't help but think it could have been a little more sleek, a little more impressive...perhaps a racing stripe spraypainted on one side?

At least this time, though, conditions had to be tightly controlled. That meant ordinary -- no style, no charm, nothing that would engender respect, except on the part of those inside, who were trying not to be scared out of their minds.

The Old Man didn't show his feelings, but then he never did beyond a vague dyspepsia.  I tried not to let anything show, even though I felt the drops of sweat trickling down my back.  I paused at the hatch to try to give the ground crew a cheery wave; they dutifully tried to give me one in return.

And then I was inside.  The hatch closed.  I could hear muffled clanking on the outside as the staff removed the ramp and utility hookups.  The drive techs went left toward the Engine Room, the service techs started ensuring storage lockers were secured, and the Old Man and I headed right, into the Control Room.

I sat down at the control console in front of the main display screen; the Old Man settled himself into the big swivel chair mounted behind me.  I turned on the intercom to listen to the final system checks being performed, then activated the screen and cycled through the various external cameras, leaving the view set to the camera directly in front of me.  Finally I clicked on the outside channel. "Frank?"

"Right here."

"All clear?"

"All equipment removed."

"Scans okay?"

"Looks good from here."

"Anything else I should know about?"

"Nope.  You're all out of excuses."

Okay, I probably deserved that. "Thanks, Frank," I said dryly, then tried the engine room. "Monty?  How's it look?"

"Ah, she's lookin' good, sir.  Whenever yer ready for 'er."

"Thanks.  Powering up now." I started flicking switches; lights glowed yellow, then green.  Three switches left.  Two switches.

One switch.

I glanced over my shoulder.

"In your own time, Mr. Morf."

"Yes sir."  I flicked the switch.

The craft did not explode.  Fire did not fill the control room.  Sparks did not fly from the console.  I was not aware of being bathed in radiation.

The last indicator glowed green.

I took a deep breath and said, "Minor displacement in the direction of..." I twisted dials. "...positive charm and negative respect..." My fingers hovered over the Engage bar.  The com channels were silent. ""  I pushed the bar.

And nothing happened.

I waited a few seconds.  Nothing kept on happening.

"We do not seem to be moving, Mr. Morf."

"No sir."  I turned on the screen.  It obligingly showed the warehouse wall. "Monty?  You getting power back there?"

"We ha' plenty o' power here, sir."

I looked at the indicators; they still showed gree, but then indicators were only as good as the people who installed them.  I switched channels. "Frank, we're having a problem...Do you have the report for the connectivity diagnostics?"

There was no answer.


Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement.  I turned to see the Old Man, standing and scowling fiercely at the screen.  I looked at the screen -- still the warehouse wall -- and back at him.

"Mr. Morf," he asked quietly, "were there floodlights on that wall?"

I turned back to the screen.  Yes, there had been floodlights on that wall, and the other walls as well.  Silently I cycled through the views again; the lights, the equipment, the people...all were gone.

Or -- a chill passed through me -- we were.

The Old Man's face was deathly pale as he carefully seated himself again. "Congratulations, Mr. More...your craft appears to be a success.  I propose we immediately return and have a...victory drink."

I took deep breaths to calm myself. "Return.  Yes sir.  Right away, sir."  I adjusted dials.  I pressed the bar.

I had no idea I could drink that much champagne.

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

Later trials went for longer distances, primarily along single axes.  In the course of these explorations we found we could derive the existence of other dimensions that we couldn't otherwise imagine.  I took notes on everything we saw; the Old Man would sometimes rumble with impatience at my work, but he poured over those notes long into many evenings.

Those notes came to be called, "The Rulebook" for our little game of N-dimensional hopscotch.  Some wondered if that made sense, seeing as how we seemed to be changing or breaking the rules all the time.  The answer, if we thought about it enough, was obvious: we weren't making or breaking rules; we were discovering them.  If we saw or did something we never could have before, that was a rule we hadn't discovered yet.

We were surprised to find, for example, that entropy was a dimension.  We explored along this axis for a while, seeing the effects of increased and decreased entropy.  At the upper range of our entropy buoyancy we discovered a landscape that was largely given over to geometric shapes in primary colors.  As we watched we saw an area along the edge of the simplified shapes slowly transforming before our eyes.

A closer look revealed a colony of microorganisms that constantly labored to simplify form.  Jagged surfaces were being smoothed; dist was collecting into lumps...we imagined the restructuring was proceeding all the way down to the molecular level, and the world coalescing into a gigantic smooth featureless sphere.

On impulse I dug out a copy of Descartes' writings and tossed it out the hatch.  The colony fell on it at once, working first to deconstruct the writings themselves, shortening the words and condensing the ideas.  I got a glimpse of "I think, so I is" before the paper itself was reduced to carbon and water.  Apparently logic itself was the most complex structure, and therefore the first to be broken down.  I made a note of this observation, and theorized on the implications.


Amend the Entropy rule (r440) as follows:

Replace "500" with "Maximum Entropy (currently 500)".

Add the following paragraph:

"If a player's Entropy exceeds Maximum Entropy / # of players / 2, all eir messages posted to the public forum must consist of words of two or fewer syllables.  If a player's Entropy exceeds Maximum Entropy / # of players / 3, all eir messages posted to the public forum must consist of words of one syllable.  Comprehensible abbreviations and acronyms are acceptable in order to comply with this."


The idea that this was what the future holds disturbed me...that order would inevitably progress until it consumed itself and everything with it made me want to curl up in bed and stay there.  I made another see what was at the other end of the axis.