speculative visionscience fiction and fantasy

Second Sun

Not sure if you're on the right track? Post anything from character descriptions, snippets of text, or even whole chapters to get some advice.

Moderators: Bmat, Qray

    Bookmark and Share
 

Second Sun

Postby nightlock » Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:59 am

The inquisitive reactions to the ultra-short story 'Second Sun' made me wonder about the resulting world as well. But, since it was my story, I had an obvious advantage over the rest, I could make something up and add to it. Against better judgment, I did. Or at least started to. Here's what I have so far; a first, very rough draft that will need heavy editing and rewriting of the first two chapters.



1


November 16, 2015. It was the Chinese who had heard it first. It would change us, change the world. In a grandiose press-release they told the world – told us – that they had found signs of intelligent life beyond our solar system. The news send waves of shock and astonishment around the world. Within the hour, their press-release had been translated in every living language, and before the day was over almost everyone on Earth knew: we are not alone.

November 20, 2015. One by one, NASA, ESA, JAXA and ISRO space agencies came out with their own press-releases. They had worked non-stop since the Chinese announcements, and after days of searching they managed to find and analyse the signal themselves. Their findings were in perfect accord with Chinese findings. It was now official, intelligent life existed beyond our planet, and beyond our solar system.

The signal the scientists had found was recorded and played back to us in every corner of the known world. A series of blips, barely audible, among a cacophony of static that occasionally got cut off. It sounded like history being written, and like scientific triumph. Church officials were quick to denounce the sound, claiming that God was simply testing our faith or even that this was a natural event. A distant quasar.

December 2, 2015. The newly formed international space agency, forged from the various national or local agencies, had been able to pinpoint the signal source. Deep within the Perseus constellation, and within our own galaxy at a mere forty-one light years, an unremarkable star shone dimly, invisible to our naked eye.

With all our radio-telescopes pointed towards that one star, scientists were able to filter the static out of the transmission, and a pattern quickly emerged. Mathematicians were quick with their analysis, though their result was astounding. Several times, we had send our own messages into space, complex signals, filled with genetic, chemical and astronomical information. The aliens, however, kept their message simpler.

The blips and silences spelled out the Fibonacci sequence, starting with the second and ending at the eleventh. The broadcast ended with the radio wave representations for eleven and twenty-one. It was those tracer numbers that closed the deal for mathematicians. The broadcast was exploiting one of the mathematical characteristics of the famous sequence. It had long been known that any ten consecutive Fibonacci numbers was divisible by eleven. For the numbers two to eleven, the result was twenty-one. Few people still doubted intelligent origin.

January 1, 2016. At a UN summit, world leaders were told that the Aliens had shifted their message, a new mathematical code had been received and seemed to indicate the number twenty-two. Considering the first found message indicated twenty-one, scientists carefully suggested we had missed the first twenty messages coming from Perseus. The summit, lasting a full week, focussed completely on the Perseus messages and their inherent effect on world politics.

May 23, 2016. A third and fourth Perseus algorithm indicated the numbers twenty-three and twenty-four. There was no doubt to any scientific mind now. This was no natural phenomenon, these were intelligent beings, and they had send these messages over four decades ago. Church attendance fluctuated greatly in the past few months as some saw our cosmic neighbours as proof that at the very least religious dogma had been wrong all along. Others, scared witless of the unknown, deep inside Perseus, clung to religion for safety.

Politically, old hatreds and rivalry had been almost forgotten. No one nation could stand for all humanity, and so they all would. The UN had already increased it's influence and effectiveness in January, but was now able to decide on all matters that affected the entire planet. With the UN attempting to mirror the enlightenment of the 18th century, fuelled by the internet and other high-tech communication methods, work quickly began on planning a second wave of space exploration. Science funding quadrupled by May, and the international space agency had begun planning manned missions to Mars, including permanent settlement. We were to become a true space faring race.

November 16, 2016. Perseus day. By now we had received half a dozen different mathematical transmissions and had begun sending our own, knowing they would not arrive for at least another twenty-one years. Volunteers for the settlement of the moon and Mars numbered in the millions. With the exception of a few local, territorial wars, the UN had brought us peace. But that very same day, at 7:50 PM London time, the Second Sun appeared and brightened both night and day for weeks on end. As the Second Sun slowly dimmed we slowly started to realise the terrible truth. Our friends from the Perseus constellation had stopped broadcasting. Their star was seen no more, in it's stead, a hot source of infra-red light, gamma radiation and X-rays, all that was left were hot gasses and dust. Our neighbours were no more. Once more, we were alone...

_________________________________________________________

“Pause playback. Save revisions.”
Absent-mindedly, Jerod reached for the squat glass on the table beside him. A short sound signalled his commands had been executed.

“Exit and Power down.” Jared slammed the last of his whiskey back before rising from his seat. He stretched his body and stifled a moan as his stiffened muscles came back to life. With the terminal powered down, his apartment suddenly seemed a lot darker than he had anticipated. A quick glance at the clock's faintly glowing hands told him that the night-cycle had started three hours ago, and that he was expected to welcome the President of the United North American States in less than seven. “I'd better get some sleep”, he mumbled to himself, “he'll probably want to dive right into this whole mess with новая Россия.”


2


“Listen, ehm... Jared, was it? Listen Jared, the U.N.A.S. does not want to go to war. Neither with you guys, nor New Russia.”
“новая Россия.”
“What?”
“новая Россия, or Nova Russia as we would say. Whiskey? Real Irish.” Jared held the bottle up for appraisal. On the opposite side of the bar stood the tall, wide-shouldered president of the United North American States. His retreating hairline and deep wrinkles betrayed his age, which Jared estimated to be about fifty-two or fifty-three. He was built like a rugby player, had probably played some American football when he was younger. He was a typical American in that he was good-natured, kind and friendly, and a whole lot smarter than his accent suggested.

“On the rocks, please. So it's true then, I heard you actually went out and learned to speak Russian.” Jared was impressed; retrieving information from foreign powers wasn't nearly as easy as it was prior to the Global Collapse of 2017. He hid his surprise by focussing his attention to pouring the whiskey and making sure he wouldn't forget asking the shadow department about the possibility his department had been infiltrated by American spies.

“Why would I not? I am assigned to deal with them and no-one else, both diplomatically and... less diplomatically. If our Meritocracy and your Republic had more, or rather more intense, relations we would have assigned a specialist for dealing specifically with the U.N.A.S. as well, though we wouldn't have to train him in your language specifically.”

“I am not sure whether or not I should be offended by that fact. The U.N.A.S takes the European Meritocracy very seriously, considering our shared heritage prior to Second Sun, and we would be most pleased if you'd return the favour. Now, I know you've disavowed any sort of central leadership, but I expected a bit more than just a single specialist with a security detail when I arrived.” The American grew more indignant with every uttered word, as if he finally decided to feel insulted and grew into his role slowly.

“I assure you, mister president, that we did not intend to insult you. We wished to make you feel at home. If you see all our actions since your arrival in that light, it will become clear to you that our various departments and confluences all desire good relations with North America. Please sit. Make yourself comfortable.” Jared moved away from the bar and to the circular seating arrangements in the centre of the room. “What can I do for you regarding новая Россия?“

“The citizens of the U.N.A.S. are concerned about the possibility of war between Europe and Russia. Partly because they would like to be able to avoid violence as much as possible, partly because they fear that such a conflict would escalate and draw the U.N.A.S in, and partly because you both have nuclear arms. After the devastation of Second Sun we should be mindful of adding a nuclear winter and radiation poisoning of our lands.” The room feel silent.
“In other words, mister President...”
“We hope to stop your descent into war before it's too late.”

Jared sat silently rubbing his chin and looking the American into his eyes. He wondered how much the president really knew about the brewing conflict along the borders of the former Polish and Romanian states. With the dismal state of the global information networks, his intelligence could have been out of date weeks ago.

“I am afraid it...” a sharp sound, like a miniature alarm interrupted him. “Excuse me one moment.” Jared reached above him, grabbing the monitor hanging by it's telescopic arms above him and pulled it down so he could read the message displayed upon it. It was short, and exactly what he had been waiting for for the last week. “Translate; English, American.” He pushed the monitor towards his guest and motioned him to read it while he went and retrieved some more Whiskey from the bar.

“The Russians just attacked institutions in Poland and Romania,” the American looked up at Jared with an expression of shock on his face, “they will wipe you out.” Jared handed him another glass of Whiskey and ice, a smile on his face. “Doubtful.” he said.





I like writing this, mostly because I have no idea where the story is going, even though I have a pretty well defined idea of what the world after the Second Sun event looks like (including names of new nations in their native tongues). I know that this requires heavy editing and rewriting to make the flow and pacing of the text conform to the actual events described. So what I would really like in terms of critique is ideas, suggestions and any kind of contributions. Also, since I have no practical idea concerning story (just the world itself) I would even welcome co-authors. Anything goes, really.
Image

Read New Awakenings

"This is here." :smt104
User avatar
nightlock
Site Regular
Site Regular
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:28 pm
Location: Netherlands
Blog: View Blog (3)
 

 

Re: Second Sun

Postby SerinitysChild » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:31 am

Nice story so far. I've always had a soft spot for post bang stories ( well, those and zombies :) I'm curious to see where this one goes.
More rampant silliness.
SerinitysChild
New User
New User
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:30 pm
Location: Texas
 

 

Re: Second Sun

Postby nightlock » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:27 am

Instead of studying as I was supposed to do I made this:
Image

I would love some feedback on this, I think it's a reasonably good start but might want to re-allocate some territory. For instance I feel the Empire of the Second Sun (Red on the map) might require a bit more south Asian (Malaysian specifically) territory currently in the hands of Greater China (Yellow on the map) to even things out a bit more. What do you guys think?
Image

Read New Awakenings

"This is here." :smt104
User avatar
nightlock
Site Regular
Site Regular
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:28 pm
Location: Netherlands
Blog: View Blog (3)
 

 

Re: Second Sun

Postby Asp Zelazny » Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:20 pm

I very much liked the italicized intro piece, and feel that it has a lot to offer; it has the kind of Big Event feeling that has changed the world you want to build, and offers many intriguing possibilies. I don't know if you are familiar with Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God, but there is a very similar feel (this is meant as a compliment). With your expansion, I find it a bit harder to tell; personally, I am prejudiced against main characters with only a single name: to me, it sounds a bit pretentious. But then, maybe that is where this is going ...

The interaction with the president and Jared seems a bit too informal as well, especially in the introduction to the characters; it leaves questions open that distract from the developing story line about the nature of the world. Clearly these are important "facts", but for my tastes they hit too soon.

Concerning your political mapping: without knowing how many years into the future, and the state of world resources and climate that your story proposes, it is somewhat hard to say. I think that (perhaps) it is a bit too-easily drawn by land mass alignment, though if communications and shipping patterns are deteriorating (a suggestion in your story) that might result in something similar. Still, I would think that if there is such infrastructure breakdown, then political alignments would more likely be of the "many smaller enclaves" nature, with individual areas that are more easily, locally controlled. If I am reading it wrong, and/or you need those vast landmass sweeps, then I might suggest a few changes:

I strikes me as unlikely that China and India would merge, short of some dynastic or environmental collapse; it might be interesting to have your Second Sun political alignment a bit more branched out, including, say, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Hawaii, Singapore and some of the Australian Electorate holdings; and, unless you need the Southern Holy Christian empire to be Christian, I would suspect that it might be interesting to have, rather than a European import religion, perhaps a Mayan or other indigenous revival as the organizing factor. If you keep it Christian, it might be interesting to have Florida, Alabama, Mississippi be part of it, or perhaps include the Vatican state in its sphere of influence. Another interesting player that could be useful would be carving off some of the east African coast and Madagascar to postulate the growth of pirate states. You could even include a bit of the west coast of India in that.

But then, I'm a pessimist. Maybe you have got it right after all. And anyway, it IS your story ....
User avatar
Asp Zelazny
True Visionary
True Visionary
 
Posts: 1919
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:17 pm
Location: Arizona
 

 

Re: Second Sun

Postby nightlock » Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:44 am

These are all great suggestions, and the bits presented here still need a lot of work.

One point that might not have come across is the total ecological collapse following the Second Sun event, I will need to read up on the specific science but in effect having a supernova that close to Earth will negatively impact it's atmosphere, especially it's ability to shield us from solar radiation.

Life in all forms has diminished substantially, satellites pushed out of orbit and especially inter-continental communications heavily disrupted to the point of being all but absent. Our technology is what saved us, shielding and medicine diminish the effects of solar radiation, most of the rich world has provided shelter, either in giant domes or simply by retreating underground.

Prior to the Second Sun event the globalisation was in an advanced state, but since most of their communications have been lost the single 'government' cracked in these groups. Some were highly aggressive, such as Japan, who took the event to re-institute their emperor, and began to accumulate lands. China, much the same way, took the opportunity to invade and conquer some of their neighbours. Australia reacted and safeguarded Indonesia and other pacific islands. Afrika, still the poorest continent fell into a sort of anarchy, the free states are loosely identified as a whole but basically consist of continual warfare between sects, tribes and nations.

Others took Second Sun as a sign from God, most notably the Christians of South America and the Muslim in North Africa and the Middle East. Hindu and Buddhist tried similar things but were quickly subjected by either China or Japan. Last but not least, the European Union dissolved European national borders, and began a decentralised meritocratic government system and Russia tried to reform the Soviet Union and annexed several East European nations, which brings us to the tensions between Europe and Russia, with an American president trying to revive America's role as protector of the world.

So there's the back story. I hadn't thought about shipping and piracy yet, though in hindsight the ecological and communications collapse should put international trade on a back burner.

(Dear me, that was more than one point, wasn't it?) Thanks for the feedback, you've given me quite a bit to think about, beyond a Euro-Russian war.
Image

Read New Awakenings

"This is here." :smt104
User avatar
nightlock
Site Regular
Site Regular
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:28 pm
Location: Netherlands
Blog: View Blog (3)
 


Return to Critique and Advice

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron