Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Date: March 16, 645 a.t. The Starlark leaving the Solar Sytem

An image of the interstellar arkship Starlark during its six month acceleration out of the Solar System can be seen here.
Protective shields of reinforced ice are in place during the acceleration phase to protect against solar system dust; also visible are the massive auxilary fuel/propellant tanks, later discarded to save mass

March 16, 645 a.t. The edge of the Solar System

The ship is accelerating as I write; a comfortable 0.5 gee, more or less the same as the gravity in Tyr habitat, where I was born.
Tyr is now three times as big as when I was a sprog, and is getting bigger all the time; but it is hellishly crowded with refugees from the Martian surface. Last Martian year one of the rings was hit bad by swarm fever and had to be spaced; the fever has mutated again, and even the Hyperturings can't develop countermeasures fast enough. Once again I give thanks that some of us, at least, can escape to the stars.

Down below, at the bottom of the ship, the energy of the Sun's heart is burning; a steady stream of muons from the annihilation of antimatter provokes the hydrogen atoms to fuse. I am one of the fusion monitor supervisors, working shifts of an hour at a time watching the motors burn. We gather in the control hub and interface with the Ship AI, Hoyle, during our shifts; it takes a certain level of skill to switch between direct neural interface data and spoken language during the shift; but most of us have been doing it for years.
At the end of the day I suspect we are only there to shut the ship down if Hoyle bugs out; there are many subtle viruses are out there in the cybernet and not even the artificial minds can be certain of immunity.

By the way, we call our ship's brain Fred, when we are being informal; our craft is the good ship Starlark, bound for Epsilon Indi.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Date March 9, 645 After Tranquillity. (2614 christian era) The Solar System

Tomorrow the last colonists will enter vitrification. I will be going with them, if health permits, but it will be six months before they store me. By that time we will be at cruising speed and in the cold between the stars.
So many have fallen to the fever that we could barely find enough healthy specimens for storage as statics on the Ship.

Another twenty hours free of symptoms and free of antibodies in my blood and I will be one of that crew.
I can hardly express my sadness at parting from my sister, Elaine; but she cannot go to the stars carrying the swarmfever.
We need reasonably perfect specimens if we are to start anew; the cynical ones amongst us say that we will be trading the most perfect statics with the colonies already out there.

If that is the way it will be then it is better than staying here, in this dying, diseased system staring at the forbidden Earth.