Tuesday, March 15, 2005

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.

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