by A Cassandra.
Stone Punk, Eco Sci-Fi
The Bides of lirr are highly intelligent peaceful farming folk with a very highly developed sense of ethics. Think of them as the Hamish in space, but without the religion. Being hermaphroditic there are few sexual/romantic conflicts, just the occasional interpersonal misunderstanding. They hate being away from home and their partners, but they will do it if it's for the common good.
Bide technology is almost totally made from what they can grow, or find to use. Everything they make inorganically such as window glass is meant to last forever. The reason for writing this, so I can describe in broad principles technologies that can be used, right here, right now, by us.
The Bides themselves stand five foot tall with an octo-metric symmetry, a starfish has pento-metric symmetry. Starting from the ground up. They have four sets of lower limbs with two outward pointing knees on each. Between these where they meet the body are the female genitals a simple slits surrounded by brightly coloured sensitive flesh. At the centre of the bottom of the body, there is a large anus that doubles as a birth canal. Around their midriff, they have two bands, the fisrua and the focrua. The focrua is a slightly inflated membrane that they use for both speaking and listening, it over inflates if they exert themselves. The fisrua is packed with suckers that smell and taste everything, and buds that each have a small eye. The Bide's ancestors were hunted by several predators that is why they have evolved their 360-degree awareness and the ability to run at speed in any direction. The four upper limbs each have a shoulder that moves up and down, and two jointed elbows that can move 140 degrees in any direction. For hands, they have multiple small fisura pads. The small erectile nipple that leaks fluid on each shoulder is the male genitals. Top dead centre is the mouth, with its 8 billed beak.
Internally Bides have a separate sub brain for each of their limbs, genitals and orifices, so they can work independently if needed. These are all connected to the main brain that extends in a ring beneath the fisrua. Despite their highly sociable nature and anatomy that evolved for rapped reproduction, unplanned pregnancies are unheard of and the Bides balance their population almost perfectly. They have a skeleton, the ends of non of their bones are near the end of any other bone. But they are joined together in a network of mussels and sinuses. If you could see this meso-skeleton, it would look something like Kenneth Snelson's sculpture Forest Devil. This gives Bide moment a balletic fluidity and purpose that can be matched by no creature from the earth. To visualize a Bide's movement picture an athletic modern ballet with the dancers in pairs glued back to back
The Bides I would like for better writers than me to do the bides justices with better stories.
The first story from lirr concerns two siblings, Arcos, and Temnid. Who are both captains of ocean-going cargo ships? As is the tradition on lirr if a ship is thought to have a name at all, it is the name of its captain, after all, it is the captain who delivers the cargo. They are both delivering emergency food to the region of Vire in the south, which had its production wiped out by a volcanic eruption two years ago. To help. Everyone gives up a bit of their reserves food to ensure no one goes hungry until they get their agriculture up and running. Tamnid and Arcos always race if they are on the same route. Temnid is a slightly larger ship with a larger sail but also has the heaver cargo, live hindrof. Arcos is sure she will win this time.
Looking at the two ships there is nothing to distinguish either of them from any other cargo ship on Lirr. They both had large triangular neo-lateen sails, hung from tall masts just aft of midships, from the bottom coroners hangs a beam whose length can be adjusted to pull the sail into a flat sheet, or if shortened would allow the sail to billow into a wide curve. Both ends of this beam are connected to the ship by three adjustable cables, so its position can be princely located, just like it is one of the bones to the Bide body. The ships float above the water on large limpet encrusted barrels, on which they roll at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Both vessels have the shabby appearance of a workaday vehicle, but both were well maintained where it mattered.
They set off out across the bay, jockeying for position. Temnid struck first pulling its sail into a perfect aerofoil bang above midships it accelerated out to sea. Arcos responded by letting its sail billow well forward of midships, with all of the force forward of midships Arcos pivots round and set off downwind parallel to the coast, at a slower speed but more in the direction of Vire.
What happens next, I'm not sure? One of them as an accident, the other comes to the rescue, and they deliver their cargoes together, the bide way. I have offered up the idea of the neo-lateen sail as a way to power a steer a boat. Also, the idea that a boat will go much faster if it rolls over the surface of the sea, rather than forcing its way through it.
Mexwarr shuffled on two legs. What Mexwarr called back leg was useless, it is tied to its opposite, to keep it out of the way, there was nothing wrong with the leg its self, but a brain attack in the sub brain that controls it had left it completely limp. This has left hs with a stupid bipedal gate.
Today Mexwarr is watching the little ones. And that's about all he can do. They can run rings around hs. Nudca and Laske, were listening to Mexwarr tell them about how all this used to be the Great Led Desert. And how the people used to live in tents, and moved around following their flocks of impoff. And how they came to live in these Bide made monolithic sandstone houses. Laske sat transfixed as he told them the sandstone of the wall he was resting on was made by glueing individual grains of sand together, Mexwarr could see the image forming in Laske's mind, of his third forbear picking up sand grains one at a time, finding just the right one, and glueing it in just the right place.
Mexwarr of cause knew that it was done by poring undrinkable dirty water on the sand. A few crushed up pommey fruit will add enough Phosphorus Iron and sugar to fill a large pond with the right bacteria, enough to make at least half of a courtyard house. The quick way to do this is to use a leaky bucket to draw a square in the sand, cover it with fresh sand, and repeat until you have your building. The patient intelligent Bide way is to plan out your community pick a suitably sand dune mark out the walls as the dune slowly passes over your site.
Just then the sound of a startled impoff startled Mexwarr back to what he is supposed to be doing. The older children were playing some sort of chasing game with an unripe commot, and Nudca and Laske were making a house out of wet sand.
Mexwarr looked up at the orchid roof, the thin strips of powerful sunlight streaming through between the curved shark tooth beams. Had been told several times how they work, hs had even worked for a while at the solar furnace where clay is turned into ceramic beam sections. Mexwarr remembered that four beam sections could be arranged to make a circular pipe and that it only took three to make a shark tooth beam, and one of them has to be turned upside down. Mexwarr looked at the light coming through the long slit and bounced off the walls of the shark tooth beam back and forward across the curved shark tooth gap to be spread evenly across the orchard. That's it Mexwarr understood heat from the ground would radiate up bouncing off the shark tooth beam across the shark tooth gap, always reflecting up towards the slit. If most of the heat from the sun is reflected off the roof, and the ground can radiate heat as if it is a cool desert night, then we can grow fruit here in the desert.
Wimt let out a shout as the game started to get rough Mexwarr shouted for them to calm down, but they already had.
Poor Mexwarr hs not long for this world! On the bright side you now know how to make sandstone, and grow crops in the desert.
Nam is not a typical Bide in fact apart from having four arms and legs he is as far from the typical Bide as it is possible to get.
Namdanu looked around his hovel. He could not help himself, he focused on all of the evidence of his solitude. He said to the empty room "No Bide should ever be alone like this. Nam you are going to have to meet people soon or you'll never be sane again." he looked at the farm he was drifting over, no one down there would be sleeping alone, they will all be well fed and tiered after an honest days work in the field. He walked over to the bunch of wet ropes with bits of bitter greens growing on it, picked a small handful and ate without much pleasure. Nam looked over at the boxes of insect that were supposed to provide the protein of this micro-farm. That did it. He set about landing in the next empty paddock or meadow.
At first light Nam expected all of the new neighbours he had imposed himself on would be there asking questions and not understanding the answers! They would see the aeroponics garden, the single bed and the micro-farm and assume he was in training to go to the planet Tisdon or Aulus. Six months in space would break any Bide, and the three years to Aulus is almost unimaginable.
Instead the smell of a fresh loaf of pleat filled the air and right then and there Nam would willingly do anything for a crumb of it. It was quickly followed by a single voice "I'm Coatak" it announced, "veterinary for these parts." Nam started to say I don't need a vet, but deep down he knew he did. Coatak left a long pause then said "At the very least you need some proper food" breaking a crumb of the pleat and handing Nam the rest saying" we could use your labour, there's an infestation of crop mite in the lower field." Physical labour in exchange for food and companionship is all most Bides ever knew or wanted. And right now it was what Nam needed.
That evening after the main meal a tiered and happy Nam set up a slack wire. He tied a length of rope between two trees, letting its middle sag about two feet. When he stepped up onto it everyone was surprised, quadrupeds like the bides should not be able to balance on a piece of rope. He did his exaggerated balancing act, and everyone loved it and everyone was happy. Everyone except Coatak. Nam had been at peace in the field like a true bide, and now he is truly happy, but what about when we have seen all of his japes, and there are no more jokes to tell?
The next evening he answered their question, where had Nam been? How did his home fly? At first, Nam joked that it was a yurt like the travelling folk of the western led desert live in tied to a flying carpet from the fairy tail naly akr biy, and that if he did not keep it staked down it would fly away without him. Later on, after the little ones had gone to bed the question came up again. This time Nam had a model ready, a large paper kit with a length of string and an apple tied beneath it. Nam ran pulling the string, the kite and the apple rose up. Nam put that kite down and picked up the smaller kite with a small ball of string, it was a bit of a struggle getting this kite all the way up to the end of its string. That done, Nam picked up the apple still fastened to the big kite, tied this second kite to the apple and doped it. The apple swung down in an ark then stopped, the big kite had lifted into the air and was holding the apple up and back, whilst the higher kite continued to pull up and downwind. As they watched the apple float away into the darkening sky, everyone knew Nam would at some point leave.
Will Namdanu's life continues to be full of ups and downs? The ideas I offer in this piece are; that it is possible to survive on aeroponics and micro-farming. And that it is possible to fly powered only by the wind so long as you only want to go where the wind takes you. Think of a para-glider wing being pulled by a power kite on a long line.
Stone surfer Sorsle
Worsle stood on top of the large granite slab that Bicesabs and Kibbak had split of Gdim tor. The slab is large 3 foot tall six-foot-wide and eighteen foot long. It weighs about thirty-six tonnes, these figures are only proximate. Bicesabs and Kibbak had taken two summers and winter of hacking at the natural fault lines to free the rock. It is going to take five or six years to walk this stone the six and a half miles to home farm. Once there it would be a stone quarry for the community for several generations.
The reason for doing it now is that there is a need for a new commot store, normally the foundation stones of the old store would be used for the new one. But Kibbak wanted to convert the old store to a rivle of vis.
Now a dozen stout bide are about to walk this stone all the way home, a bit at a time. Three tonnes each, and the bide are made of brains, not brawn, well most of them. Kibbak did get a laugh when he told everyone about a ship captain who wanted to make a hole in a three-foot one-ton stone to use as an Anker, who was trying to push a drill through it. Any bide with two brain cells more than it takes to move knows, you stick the drill in the ground, point up. Balance the stone on it. Walk the stone round, and let the weight of the stone do the work.
The rig to walk a stone is simple. Make a good guess at the centre point of balance. Place two stout teakum wood legs Underneath the stone, six inches on either side of the centre line, this will reduce the effective weight of the stone to be lifted to be moved to just five tonnes. With two long pannpu rods sticking out to the side to use long levers. Six heavy bides, almost a tonne, on a platform hung from the end of a lever giving five to one advantage. All of this meant that the six bides who are going to lift and carry their side of the stone forward a couple of feet to move the foot on their side of the stone forward four inches, could put more of their effort into keeping things under control.
Sorsle's job in all this is to stand on top of the stone and run back and forward and side to side, to stop the stone from digging its nose into the ground or dragging its arse.
Stone punk! It's like steam but using neolithic technology instead of Victorian steam technology.
the Semew is unique in being the only ship anywhere to be named after the captains' mate. The ship was called Semew because he had gathered up the knowledge and materials, when the community needed a cargo of selenium getting from Tisdon, to reverse a soil deficiency across the northern region. It was whilst Semew was on one of those trips when his family brought in Twimk to be captain, They did this after Semew walked into a burning barn to rescue a pod of hindraxd that were penned up to keep everyone safe because they were in season. Semews family were rightly afraid he would take the next trip to Aulus.
Semew hs self was helping the three working passengers to stow the heat sink. The heat sink its self is coated in a thermoluminescent powder that helps it to radiate the excess heat from the ship, and created light for the aeroponics fields in the process.
After two months forty-one days in space, the Semew was about to hit the atmosphere. It was Semew hs self who gave the order "come on everybody into your launch pods." although not strictly necessary for landing. That was Semew, looking after everyone else. The water in the launch pods had been used as the sump for the water recycling system. "come on children your not afraid of a bit of dirt." hs is right no bide ever go sick from a bit of dirt.
In landing configuration the Semew looks like a deformed fissock seed, with a single long thin wing trailing above it. The wing and the heat shield beneath the ship are made of the mushroom board with small shards of broken pot scattered throughout it.
Semew could feel the vibration of re-entry and could sense that something but now re-entry had started there is nothing he could do but sit tight.
Suddenly the ship flipped on its side. Did two rotations then flipped upright?
It two soon Semew thought, the ship is supposed to flip over and spiral down like fissock seed, but only after the heat shield has seen it safely to the thicker part of the atmosphere and slowed it down. Even that brief exposure will have cooked the leather outer skin, it will become brittle if it has not burned all the way through already. Next is the brunbum, the ships radiation shield, a thick layer of brumbum wax packed very finely powdered ore of all of the metallic elements. The wax slows down and captures neutrons whilst the metals each absorb specific frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and re-radiates it at lower frequencies, the difference being released as heat. This heat would overheat the ship if it is not used to generate power via the heat sink. Exposed like this the wax will melt away.
The ship flipped over and spins again this time deep enough into the atmosphere to work, however, what is now the floor is half burned away. Without support, the thin gas-tight membrane, made from the appendixes of hindrof, will tear. Then there will only be the silk mice-meteorite screen to hold the ship together.
Semew was glad she had put them into their launch pods. With luck, they might survive. But the real reason why she was glad was that apart from twimk they would have no idea how bad things really are.
Will any of them survive? Ideas to take from this. Cows appendix will make a gas-tight envelope for airships and spaceships if protected. That wax and all of the metallic elements can turn space radiation into heat for power. And that launching plutonium into the radioactive environment of space is just stupid.
Twimk looked at his new space ship, sat in the corner of the north paddock its hard leather shell hid an extra thin mushroom board heat shield. The hindrof who's forbears had provided much of the material. Twimk started driving the hindrof towards the gate that leads down to the barn.
This is going to be a good trip, it is going to be Semew's last trip. Semew, Joltom, Salor, Taffit, Dhom and Bhorr, were emigrating as a group. Hopefully, life on a colony farm will be challenging enough for Semew. Most of The rest of the cargo is mainly personal gifts letterers etc. The other relay important item of cargo is a box of barn spiders and two boxes of green flee's to keep them alive.
The launch will be a three-stage affair. First, the launch jacks will fire. Them the inertia management system kicks in. inertia manipulation is achieved by three, mutually perpendicular, rings of, circular tubes full of heavy Tungsten Chloride gas. This gas is spun to as high a speed as possible, thus increasing its mass and inertia. The SemewII will rise up, in a straight line, and at a genteelly decreasing rate, Lirr's orbit and rotation increase the distance between it and the SemewII. At its highest point, the inertia management system is switched off. If the main engine is not fired at this point, then it will fall back down.
Twimk's main concern about the upcoming launch, were the spiders. The bides will be safely tucked up in their launch pods. A launch pod at its simplest is a stiff leather bag full of water, the acceleration of launch does not squash you to the floor if it is trying to push the water you are floating into the floor. The rest of the cargo is just things, if they brake they break. But the spiders were needed for a medical emergency. Lots of their himedrof are getting toe canker, on Lirr the stranded treatment for hard tumours like himedrof toe canker. The venom of non-poisonous spiders, like the barn spider, is evolved to liquefy the innards of a live peddre when it bites one, it then sucks up a liquid meal. A veterinary could do the same thing to cankers using a syringe.
Twimk climbed into his launch pod and waited. Below them, kay flour oil was being heated, passed the point where it will burst into flames instantly. When hydrogen peroxide is injected into the oil, it all instantly turns into a large volume of supper heated carbon monoxide. By the time the ship had reached the height of a slap apple tree, it will be travelling at Mach 5, so they won't hear the bang of the lift jack venting.
Will the spiders survive the trip? I am not claiming that spiders are the cure for cancer because there are some obvious shortcomings to the idea. However, it is still an interesting idea.
Aulus's dirty little secret!