Get Smart Before The Squid Take Over!

I felt like writing about some of my other story ideas that don’t fit in the Hermes 925 or City of Gate plots. These are far from being fully fleshed out stories as yet, but maybe writing about them and getting your feedback will help them become so. First, though I want to let you know about a couple of great resources, particularly if you’re a fellow writer. They’re also useful to anyone looking to expand their personal education.

The one I’m most excited about is PubSpace from NASA. Starting in autumn this year, all their research papers from 2016 onwards will be publically available on this website. I find this particularly pleasing because it makes one of the key points of Hermes925, that Jaime was able to find information about the Hermes project publically within the N•Viron  network. Besides that though it means we can all find out what NASA is working on, and that makes my little nerd heart happy.

Beoing Tech Vito Niel performs fusion welds on the tank plugs.
Beoing Tech Vito Niel performs fusion welds on the tank plugs.

There’s also websites that will expand your general education for free. I’ve known about the Khan Academy for some time now, and you should absolutely check them out. I also just learned about another free education site, founded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called OpenStax. Make use of either, or both, of these websites to boost your brain power without having to dig yourself into a giant pit of student loan debt.

Now, story ideas. I was discussing an idea with my Mum that I think most of us have had from to time. What if you could go back in time and do things differently? This idea has been explored before of course, but the approach I’d like to take is a little different. A device that allows you to scientifically observe alternative timelines. Perhaps based on a sophisticated algorithm that can predict how small changes in the past could change the present.

If we had access to this information, what could we do with it? Would we be more determined to pursue the development of actual time-travel, or would being able to see the simulated results of meddling with the timeline be enough to put us off for good? Would such a system be inherently flawed because it would be based on the data we provide? Our own limited perspective and understanding of history would doubtless affect the system’s assumptions and conclusions. Perhaps it would be considered an entertaining novelty rather than a practical tool.

My other story idea is based on these guys. Cephalopods. Squids, octopi and cuttlefish, and other similar creatures. They’re fascinating creatures, and have remarkable problem solving intelligence and an almost playful curiosity. I was going to use the viral video of a squid opening a jar from inside to show you what I mean, but I think this video showing an octopus making novel use of coconut shells illustrates it better.

There have been quite a few books, games and movies exploring what life might be like on a post-apocalyptic planet Earth. Most of them feature zombies, or feral humans, as the primary threat against what remains of civilised human society. I think that, if humans are almost wiped out, or perhaps completely wiped out, that the next dominant species would be as different from us as we are from the dinosaurs. Particularly if the cataclysmic event happens to cause widespread flooding. I think cephalopods are among the most likely candidates to fill our evolutionary niche should we ever vacate it.

What I’m having trouble with is visualising what this new civilisation would actually be like. It’s tempting to make them humanoids with squid tentacle faces reminiscent of Cthulu or the Ood from Dr Who. It’s far more likely that they would retain much of their current morphology which has already proven highly adaptable.

What would they think of the technology we left behind? Much of which would be completely useless once the power stations are submerged. Would they forget we existed and imagine that the ruined structures will built by earlier forms of their own culture, or even aliens? Would our remains be so different from their own that they would find it almost impossible to imagine that we were ever intelligent enough to create such things?

I have yet to find a starting point for either of these story ideas, but I’ll let them percolate in the back of my mind until they become something. Perhaps I’ll end up using ‘the timeline predictor’, or perhaps ‘the planet of the squid’, as part of the Time-Chain idea. Personally I rather get started on The War on Magic or The Lord Highwayman once Hermes is finished. What are your thoughts?

I look forward to your comments. Have a great day.

Coming Along

I got some more actual writing done today. Not just this blog article, but also the next part of my Hermes925 story, Discon in Distress. Obviously it’s a little silly to get excited about being able to keep up with my writing goals for just 2 days in a row, but I’m choosing to feel good about myself anyway.

I think the journaling format works. Though I wonder if I should include some kind of date system. Having dates would clearly indicate how long it’s been since the last entry, but there are inherent problems with setting sci-fi in a particular year. I want the year vague to try an make the story somewhat timeless, and make the story relevant for as long as possible. However the technology itself is going to date the story before too long. Perhaps I could use a day and month, with no year? I might be able to get away with that. I could even use a two digit year I suppose, leaving the century uncertain.

There is another possibility of course. It could be an alternate timeline. The current Hermes925 story arc already combines 3 older story ideas into one narrative. I could bring in another. The working title had been ‘time-chain’, and the core idea came to me in a dream once. In the dream I had been walking through an American town in the fifties. In a used car lot next to a diner, among the beautiful vehicles you’d expect to see in the 1950’s, was a modern Chrysler 300.


I kept walking and entered a small hardware and homewares store. Again, most of the items in there where fairly typical of the time, but there’s a pegboard display that’s a little out of place. Hanging from the hooks are little plastic baggies containing electronics components. Resistors, diodes, transistors and chips. This is what I had been looking for, to complete the time machine, the plans arrived on my kitchen table that morning along with a list of parts I would need to purchase.

It occurred to me upon waking that if you could build a machine that could send things back in time, you could send them the means to build another time-machine, along with instructions to do the same. The time-line would be drastically altered as people send back car-parts, components, computers, and even literature. I abandoned the idea, because I couldn’t imagine the chaos the world would be thrown into.

I’m fairly certain I’m not going to try an incorporate this into Hermes 925. It would completely confuse the current plot. If you don’t want to know what the plan is then skip this bit until you get to the paragraph starting ‘It’s safe now’.  The plan is to have Jaime jump at the chance of joining the Hermes project after his relationship with Tanisha goes spectacularly wrong. The project involves using a set of quantum entangled ‘doorways’ to allow people to be astronauts from 9-5. When your shift is over, you just walk through the doorway and go home.


Of course something goes wrong, leaving Jaime, a female bio-technician, and the ship’s AI Hermes, stranded in space, unable to communicate with earth. Cut off from the N•Viron system. The bio-technician goes crazy first and kills herself. Jaime gets depressed and neglects his duties, resulting in an overpopulation of the ship’s lab rats.The rats and plants from the hydroponics bay spread throughout the ship. Hermes itself narrates the story from here.

Decades, perhaps even a century or two passes, before Hermes flight-path brings it back to earth to find the connection it was seeking long gone. There is no N•Viron, nor any recognisable civilisation at all. Hermes crash lands allowing the savage rat-folk on board to spill out. This leads to a fight for dominance against post-civilised humans (or whatever new species has taken their place), and a new narrator for the last part of the story. Adding the time-chain plot could make nonsense of all of this. Unless the time-chaining is actually directly responsible for the fall of civilised humanity? I may need to think on this some more.

It’s safe now. I hope you like what I’ve posted so far, and that you’re looking forward to another Hermes925 entry tomorrow. If you have any comments, concerns, suggestions, or words of encouragement, I’d love to hear from you. I have a new e-mail address, or you can use the comments section below, contact me via the Contact/Commissions page, or track me down on Facebook.

Have a great day.