"The Novelway Prototype Shop" is the first story in the saga's timeline SagasTimeline, and most of it was written in the author's first participation in the NanoWriMo's activity 2004. The necessary 50,000-word level was not reached by the end of November 2004; but it was great experience; and it was subsequently heavily revised, freed from the constraints of creative writing solely in the month of November. Thus I was able to more nicely include some brief writings written even back in the mid-1980's.
Having the freedom of not having met the requirements to "win" the NanoWriMo activity, I began a few weeks later to re-write the story, now not constrained by the online activity rules, and put on a new blog http://novelwayproto.blogspot.com/ The result is copied below.
Its major focus was on a ground commute system concept I conceived back in early 1970's sitting in the gas lines, and added to it over the years. In this story, it also links into the beginnings of the KESTS concepts.
As my first effort at full novel writing in a hurry, it needs much more finishing up. Someday, maybe. But as-is, it has some fun ideas and sub-stories in it. Like, the redwood forest's vast aware beingness ...
The Novelway Prototype Shop
A Science Fiction story by James E. D. Cline
Ch. 1: Redwood Forests Remembering
The great redwood forests had memory of their past eons of greatness, and the mind of their collective beingness came to a decision: it is time to have the change. Their aura was so expansive that it had felt the entire planet's saga, now written into their essence.
And that aura felt how now the carbon-stored sunshine energy, so patiently and laboriously stashed away by countless plant beings ages ago, so as to enable an oxygen-based animal life to exist, was being poured back into the atmosphere faster than sea and land photosynthesis beings can re-absorb it. What was causing this? They felt deeper into it, seeking.
It was these new two-legged scrapy beings with their machines, who, like a mosquito on a bird's back, stuck a probe deep into the earth's mantle and drew up the fluid petrochemicals, then burned them back into the atmosphere, heedlessly. It was not for the carbon to build their clever machines out of; no, it was to pull out the stored past energy of the sun that was consumed to stash the carbon away from the atmosphere, so long ago, that life might wonderfully expand and prosper, based on oxidation power.
So the great redwood beings coalesced into their planetwide aura, a new pattern of thought channels for those scrappy knowledge-gathering beings and their machines so clever. Like the river channels, new thoughts would flow as time went on, engraving new patterns for their civilization which now squatted so heavily on the world of nature's vast life flow.
The misty morning fresh dawn cooly sifted down through the great redwood tree, its top so high the Pacific Ocean was in view, multitubular cluster strong long trunk, down to where its roots fingered along in the soil below it, tasting the moist chemistry for the building pieces for today's construction. The great tree sipped of the earth's dainty water and aired her limbs in a fresh breeze, then focused on the interesting pair of beings who had chosen to nestle between her roots and great branches overnight. The couple were snuggled peacefully in each others' arms, knowing in their dreams of the warmly loving dance of life, down there in their tent so tiny, a cold campfire nearby, and a metal car machine. The redwood tree resonated with that peaceful togetherness intertwined in love so quietly gentle resting, resonated like she had always resonated with all her spread family across the great land across time in oneness, spreading bole to bole, bonded family united in auric oneness knowing of beingness so detailed. She spread her part of the forest aura around to tuck in the loving couple a bit more, and waited with the patience of eternity for new things to happen. Yet this pair of cuddly beings, in the tent sandwiched between her awning branches and anchoring root field, were of the kind that had brought forth the metal machines that crawled around releasing the CO2, so as to utilize the energy of the sun that so long before had been stored so as to lock the excess carbon away from the air. And the metal machine they had brought, was it not one of them? Yes. So the redwood tree gently laid upon the dreamy couple, a holographic piece of the new auric pattern which the great forest had formed. The new auric pattern so softly and gently merged with that of the two sleeping beings, now became as one with them.
Ch. 2: Camping Aromas of Fresh Coffee
Aromas of fresh coffee and fried pancakes which Marsha was cooking on re-kindled campfire, wafted in along with cool breeze through the open tent flap, to awaken John to the day. What had he been dreaming? Something about the car and air and trees, what was it? Like they were all dancing together with the people a new song; strange dream.
Marsha, too, admired the aroma and flavor of the fresh coffee, and as her eyes drank in the wondrous foliage of the forest around them, and especially the curiously interesting redwood tree over their head, its branches like a mother hen over her brood of chicks, protecting and comforting in instinctual responsibility.
Marsha sipped coffee more, noticing John was stirring in the tent. What was it about these nights with him, how the next day her usual no-nonsense, get it done right, avoid the unconventional, attitude changed to add a curiosity of "what would happen if...." John was certainly low-maintenance, all she had to do was be there for him; he seemed totally addicted to her. Yet a man of dreams was he, always off in the future, could hardly take care of himself in the real tough world. Why did he let people walk all over him, make him such a fool? No dummy, him. It was times like this morning that she actually considered taking the position at her Dad's prototype shop, be lead engineer in the R & D section that normally scared her with its demands to create things college never taught her to do. Intimacy with John somehow opened up some new part of herself so that the unconventional became an interesting adventure to make happen, there would be a way, and it would be fun. Instead of the usual irritation at the very thought of having to do something not by the book, what are those idiots going to ask for her to make happen next. She had done well in college, would go back for her masters degree in a few years; she knew every engineering principle that school could teach, and applied it well at her job, no question.
John wafted out of the tent along the path of the coffee aroma, receiving a cup of brew from her. These times with her brought a joy of belief that dreams will come true, the world is here to make them happen, when she was around him. And there was a new magic in the air here somehow, more than the usual forest fine air. Life is wonderful, keenly alive, when he was with her; all would turn out OK, he knew with certainty, like now.
Ch.3: Campers, Meet Forest
Yet, the nagging thought that tomorrow he would be back at his job at her Dad's prototype shop, wiring up one-of-a-kind gizmos per others' direction, a Nobody. On the production line he struggled to keep up with the regular techs; but in the R&D shop he imaginatively found practical solutions to make the unconventional into working reality.
And the redwood tree, something was unconventional about it, he felt. Looking intently at its bark and branches, it looked like any other one. He puzzled over it a bit more, then plunged into the stack of hotcakes Marsha handed him, complete with fried egg atop and syrup poured all over it, ah, delicious cook she was, so fine.
There were few words shared between them. Few were needed with John. That was odd, she suddenly realized; all the other men - and she had known a lot of men - were a steady stream of talk of how great he was, how great she was, telling her what to do. But this man, it was OK just to be around him while they got things done. "More pancakes please" her mind filled in as he silently handed her the emptied plate and headed out to bring more wood for the fire. Yes, she smiled to herself, this one was very special to be around, indeed. And this forest place was too, here and now with John; she knew now that wonders were hers to make happen.
Ch.4: Gas Rationing
John and Marsha shared a few moments over coffee during breaktime at her Dad’s shop, Novel Way Prototypes, Inc; commenting that here it was 1974 and no indication of petroleum wells going dry yet, but they were already having to wait in long gas lines at the gas station, gas being rationed due to oil blockades overseas. Would it never end, already three months and the international conflicts were increasing. People could do so much more if they would cooperate fully instead of wasting time and resources in conflict. Already some of their coworkers could come in to work only a couple of days per week, ration of gas not enough for more commutes than that, and the busses were jammed, could not take more people. There was less work to do, too, the whole economy shutting down as increasing numbers of employees couldn’t get to work to do jobs, and electrical power being shut down to the city and homes 25% of each 24 hours, to conserve fuel energy. It wasn’t a time to start a family either, so they chose to delay their formal wedding. Rumors were that if the trend continued, no gasoline would be available for use in one’s car, leaving only fuel for buses and delivery trucks.
Ch.5: The Creative Juices Flow
They began to bicycle to work from her place, and then they could comfort each other weeknights as well as weekends. And their creative juices flowed more and more. “Let’s brainstorm about how the problem can be solved”; no one was apparently preparing for shutdown of the personal automobile use, so they might as well have a go at, if only for creative fun.
Two weeks later, Marsha went to her Dad with a plan in hand, that she and John had produced during their nightly snuggles and daily long walks together, stopping at benches to sketch out quick drawings or to write details of a more complex idea. Paid projects had come to an end at NovelWay Prototypes, so to keep people busy for part time work there, he agreed to prepare a technology to get Greater Los Angeles back to work ASAP after total stoppage of use of gasoline in privately owned cars. He had three trucks which would still have some fuel alloted, being a business. One was converted for use as a bus for the employee’s commute to work; one was converted to deliver food and essentials to homes nearby; and the third was for delivery and installation of a demonstration transportation system’s first phase of usable development. Marsha’s Dad, felt it was his duty to prepare.
Ch.6: Pulling Rollerskaters
John and Gerardo finished assembling the prototype system past the front of his house in San Fernando Valley, a cable installed along pullys and idler wheels, one cable around each nearby residential block, and kept moving by an engine pulled out of one of the cars abandoned where they had finally run out of gas in the street, half a year ago. The pull-along scooters with seats and carrying case were not yet ready for it, getting parts was very slow; so this test was to be done by using roller skates, heavy gloves and a pair of long grabber poles held by hand.
Several very skeptical members of the City Council were there to watch. The four converted automobileengines were started up, their throttles set for constant speed despite varying load, reminiscent of the original Watts steam engine governor mechanism.
Marsha insisted on being the demonstrator, she would not miss the chance for anything, since the manufacturing engineering of this system had been her baby; besides, her cute physique would perhaps distract attention from the inevitable glitches happening in any prototype test.
She stepped out of the house, with her roller skates already on, skated down to the cable which was now continuousy running past along the street in front of the houses on the block. She skated under the cable, turned to face the direction the cable was moving, reached up with one of the pair of yard-long grasping sticks and slowly increased the grasping pressure on the cable with it, the cable accelerating her up to its speed, and down the street she went rolling along on her skates effortlessly, pulled by the cable.
A couple of minutes later she re-appeared, having gone all the way around the block; now approached the street intersection corner shared with the other three neighborning block-encircling cables. Just as the cable was to bend around the corner pulley, she let go with the grasping stick, coasted across the street intersection, and with a bit of unpracticed effort she managed to re-attach the grasping stick to the next block’s cable, proceeding on down the street, intersection passed.
Gerardo explained that this could be expanded block by block all the way to downtown Los Angeles and beyond, a way to start getting at least the somewhat more atheletic people back to work. And the roller skates soon would be supplemented by the pull-along scooters with seat and carrying case, for use by most of the rest of the commuters. And he continued to explain that as the workforce began to ramp up the available goods, a lightweight streamlined home-garaged type vehicle would replace the scooters, complete with automatic graspers and an automatic routing grasper interchange system coordinated to avoid collisions between vehicles crossing intersections. And that the commute system would be able to continue to evolve to far beyond that.
Marsha re-appeared coming down the far end of one of the blocks, came to a stop in her cute ice skater’s outfit in front of the staring City Council members, and said to them “Well, is this better than what you have got now?”
Ch.7: Ethanol Power
Winter of 1975 (of this storyline starting with a "what-if" in about 1973) found Greater Los Angeles business waking up, employees getting to work and grocery store by the towed scooters and roller skates, which had become new manufacturing industries. Department of Transportation had insisted the pull-cable system be harmonious with the existing bus system, so the cable system was confined to residential areas and surface streets, and was shut down twice a day for an hour while delivery trucks accessed residential areas.
The next evolutionary change, that to include home-garaged streamlined minimal-engined vehicles, was required to also be integrated into the existing vestiges of gasoline powered vehicles: car carriers originally carrying seven new cars, now carried thirty of the pull-band cars shuttling along express routes between downtown Los Angeles and the suburbs. The railroad modified train cargo container flatcars to carry the pull-band vehicles, eventually provided a covering and a restroom and snack bar for each. By 1980 Detroit had bought into Pull-Band commute technology, Los Angeles being unable to manufacture the new vehicles fast enough for the whole nation, especially since they were exporting them to the Far East while those countries also built up their own manufacturing capability.
Ethanol powered external combustion flash boiler engines began to replace the recycled automobile engines which had been keeping the system running most places up until them. Thin bands had long ago replaced the round cables, and higher-speed bands circulated towoard the center of streets. The Pull-Band had built-in gripper acceleration locators along them, and the entire pull-band coordinated so gaps would allow cross trraffic to pass through without thought.
Executives had Pull-band extensions installed spiraling around taller buildings, delivering their management personnel direct to each one's office, their personal car parked just outside.
Ch.8: Tubeways and Light Rail
In 1985 the first tent-tube enclosed thruway between Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay area was installed, one direction per tube, a single stream of pulled vehicles so fast that they were lifted by air cushion, wheels no longer in contact with the ground, whizzing along at several hundred miles per hour, upper air column moving along with them as they tobogganed along down the environmentally isolating tube.
Personalizing one's Pull-band car became an art. Its external shape and interface to the Pull-band system was standardized along with total maximum weight of occupied vehicle; otherwise, the personal vehicles were modified as one pleased. The seat would be up for leaving room to haul groceries and a child or two; would recline for relaxed sleeping during long commutes. Artwork often adorned exterior surfaces, and artists gained a new profession, hand painting the Pull-band cars, some owners likely to change their art design as often as their wardrobe styles.
By 1995 Los Angeles had recovered economically enough to begin construction of a light rail system connecting downtown with Long Beach, North Hollywood, Pasadena and Santa Monica. Those light rail trains mostly pulled platforms where Pull-band cars would be carried for the trips, although some seat cars were available for people on foot.
Ch.9: Licensing Technology
The NovelWay Prototype Shop licensed out the pull-cable and Pull-Band commute technology for only a token fee, figuring the faster the system could get LA up and in business again, so equally would their regular business get going again.
Their reputation grew as creative experts on moving things around by distributing energy via high spoeed moving cables and bands. Their innovation extended into technologies for coupling that high velocity movement to move along much slower objects and vehicles. As the Pull-band commute system expanded, increasing the number of users, the need to deliver much higher energy to the overall system at first involved stronger cables and bands, then high speed became necessary, the kinetic energy stored in the moving bands increased as the square of the velocity, so the same band at three times the volocity could deliver nine times the amount of energy to the movement of people and goods.
Next, magnets attached to the moving bands enabled electrodynamic drag to pull vehicles along without mechanical roller contact with the "graspers."
Permanent magnetic levitation bearings next allowed the magnetic bands to slide along without mechanical contact to anything, enabling higher velocities and efficiencies; the bands were broken up into short segments and the number of them launched down a pathway was in proportion to the system energy demand ongoing, especially useful along hundred-mile straightaways.
The curves of the structure soon required strengthening due to the high centrifugal forces of the high velocity band segment aggragate mass changing direction; then that property was utilized deliberately in the vertical plane to arch the structure over obstacles and canyons.
With mechanical contact elliminated, wear dropped, and reliability was stressed in R&D for awhile, eventually the pathway of the segmented "bands" was enclosed in a hard vacuum, enabling electromagnetic energy coupling through the non-conducting tubing through which they traveled at ever higher velocities, energy losses now less than equivalent long distance electric power transmission wires.
Ch.10: Monkeywrench in the Envisioning Rail to Space
In 1988 the beginnings of an application of the Pull-Band technology's centrifugal force structural support capability was envisioned being developed to extend entirely around the planet, along an Orbital Transfer Trajectory shape extending from the equatorial surface around the planet up to GeoStationary Earth Orbit, 20,300 miles above the equator on above the opposite side of the planet. Initial purpose was to lift construction materials to build the 1960's-envisioned Satellite Solar Power Stations, finally, direct access to power of the Sun up there, converted to beam down to Rectennas on the ground, to be converted and sent to commercial power grids to every country choosing the clean energy source. The idea began to flesh itself out, and NovelWay Prototype shop was enlisted to create the technology for the energy supported structure that would lift vehicles along itself up and down between ground and GEO.
Since the pull-band technology used magnetic bearings, electromagnetic drag coupling to vehicles, and centrifugal force to arch over obstacles, it was relatively simple to extend it for the space access task.
Convergence of nanomachine development and micromachine advances, enabled such pull-band tubeways built of a few tens of millimeters diameter, so a warehouse sized structure could house the entire structure coiled on the ground, ready for a dynamic lifting through reaction principles. And so it was envisioned by Jero.
Yet, it was not a finest hour for humanity; as it is said, life in the trenches is not well suited for lofty visions.
The year was Alternate-1988, when Jero took the conceptual pieces of the earlier thinker's Launchloop circulating ground to ground belt to above atmosphere, vertical electromagnetic fountain, and iron belt between Texas and GEO, and discarded the parts which probably caused their rejection by industry in the past, and got enough of the remaining concept fragments to pattern together, adding his own electronics and physics knowledge, to make a new kind of large scale economical space access concept that looked like it would provide a key to a new way to open up space to civilization in a huge way, solving lots of big problems otherwise to perhaps disastrously plague humanity soon.
Jero had enough resources to buy an old computer that could access a computer network used by space activists like himself. Jero's Asperger extreme social naiveté still made him believe that invent a better gadget and world would come to him and take it up, dealing fairly with him in return, for the new wealth possibilities he had provided them. By Alt-1989, he had fleshed out the initial insight, and made changes to fix the problems he had noticed. Each new idea he wrote up in text form and put it on the space activists science library for all to be able to read on the computer network.
But the world had not come to his door with thanks and cash in hand for him, saying let us do it. In fact, he got no response from others even on the network, although the log showed that some others had accessed his files OK. Apparently people were unable to take the key he had provided, and use it to open up the worlds it made possible. So Jero set about to flesh in more integrated technical details, and showed how its existence would enable the emplacement of all the SPS into GEO to provide cheap clean electrical power for the whole world, provide a high beachhead spaceport for rocket launches to the moon and other solar system places, and to build a ring of man-made Stanford-Torus rotating passive shielded space cities in GEO, of similar design to the earlier designs created for use at L-5. There was room enough to build 1.5 million of them in GEO per ring, at 10,000 people each, that was almost 3 times the present whole world population. Surely with those goals in mind, people would accept his concept, and get going in a hurry, species were going extinct every week due to man;s pressure on the earth, and Jero's concept would make that unnecessary for an abundant life for billions of people... in GEO.
There was another player in this game: Krindahl, who was no Asperger, instead was a powerful and clever businessman. Part of his fortune had been made by pirating one of Jero's earlier ideas; Jero did not even know about it, though eventually became aware of vindication of one more of his concepts thereby. Krindahl had claimed it was his own idea, since he did the work of taking the concept and running with it to make it a moneymaker, but never mentioned Jero; when the products took hold and made him a fortune, he began to worry that Jero might want compensation, even require declaration that it was Jero's idea in the first place. Krindahl was a shrewd and ruthless bully, and no way was that wimp Jero going to make him look bad, or get a penny from him in payment for what Jero had created. To Krindahl, it was all great sport, showing who was "better"; and the business principle of "buy low and sell high" was optimum when the "buy low" price paid was zero, it could not get any better than that.
Copyright © 2004-2006 James E. D. Cline
Copyright © 2008 James E. D. Cline. Permission granted to reproduce providing inclusion of a link back to this site and acknowledgment of the author and concept designer James E. D. Cline.