Miscelaneous Background Info

Report on the Risks of Implanted Computers in Field Personnel.

By Colonel A. J. Fields, MD
Medical Standards and Practices Board,
United States Military
November 1, 2141

A research study performed in the first six months of this year found that approximately one-third of recipients of implanted computers (quantum and otherwise) exhibited moderate to severe symptoms of dependency. The onset of symptoms appears to be associated with a wide variety of psychological factors such as stress and certain pre-existing conditions (See Appendix-B for the complete list of risk factors). That same study found that an additional sixteen percent of individuals experienced minor to moderate symptoms, making the entire implanted-computer program questionable from a medical standpoint. In all cases, the two main symptoms were:

1. Over-reliance on the computer’s memory-storage capabilities. In severe cases, recipients who suffered temporary loss of their internal computers would experience total amnesia, and be incapable of interacting with others. The affected subjects recovered after the restoration of computer services.
2. Over-reliance on the computer’s calculation capabilities. In severe cases, subjects exhibited the “thinks like a computer” syndrome, completely losing the ability to respond on an emotive level. In those individuals, their decision-making abilities became limited to logic and mathematical calculation, their ability to empathize with others atrophied. Unfortunately, tests have shown that patients suffering from this syndrome, even those suffering from a moderate form, do not recover when computer services are withheld. Instead, they exhibit symptoms of panic and confusion and appear unable to think and reason.

It is therefore recommended that candidates for implanted computers be vetted for the associated psychological conditions, and the procedure withheld from those susceptible to them. It is further recommended that individuals who receive implanted computers be examined on a yearly basis by trained medical personnel and retired at the first sign of these symptoms. Finally, knowledge of the above condition and the risks inherent in accepting the implantation procedure should be withheld from all military personnel, particularly the individual receiving the implant.


Cover Art Ideas

Possible replacement cover designs for the Version Sequence, should I ever have the services of a real artist. These designs are, admittedly, a trifle pulp-inspired.

Di-Version:

The place is a desert in Southern California. In the foreground, a man (picture Robert Lansing in his prime) dressed in an unmarked dark blue coverall is crawling through some sort of debris field. It’s the wreckage of a crashed vehicle, the rest of which is scattered around him. In the background, a large chunk of curved metal is burning, black smoke rising into the sky. The man isn’t wearing a helmet or facemask or anything like that. He is reaching out with his right hand, clawing at the ground to pull himself forward. The expression on his face shows the strain of his efforts. Other than the man and the burning wreckage, the area is completely deserted.

Sub-Version:

The location is an historic area of Philadelphia, at night. On the left side of the image, we can see a cobblestone street and what appear to be gas street lamps. The row homes look like they could be straight out of the late 1700’s. On the right side of the image, there is a brick wall extending to the right-hand border. In the foreground, a man (mid-to-late forties, a Bruce Willis type) has his back to that wall, both arms extended at a 45-degree angle to his body, his fingers spread and pressed against the brick wall. He is looking sharply to his right, almost as if he’s trying to peer around the corner of the brick wall. He is wearing a light colored shirt underneath a worn, dark brown cloth jacket of no notable style. He’s wearing dark colored slacks. He has a smirk of satisfaction on his face. At the end of the street is an ultramodern, twenty-second century glass-and-steel single-story building. That building is being engulfed by a violent explosion. The windows of every row home in the image are exploding outward, with pieces of glass suspended in mid-air. Those pieces are reflecting the light of the explosion.

Re-Version:

It’s daytime in a typical late 1970’s cul-de-sac of a California neighborhood. In the center of the image is a huge white sphere. It’s surrounded by police cars, and policemen crouched behind those cars with a variety of rifles and handguns pointed at the sphere. In the foreground, hiding behind some bushes on somebody’s front lawn is a middle-aged Caucasian man (Bruce Willis again) wearing what appears to be a policeman’s uniform. He is staring at the policemen and the white sphere. To his left is a nineteen-year-old Caucasian girl with blonde hair. She is similarly dressed in a police uniform.

In-Version:

It’s night in a darkened room. To the right-hand side of the image is a window. A man is in the process of flying backwards through that window. Blood is spraying out of his chest, the result of a gunshot wound. In the center of the image, a middle-aged man (our Bruce Willis look-a-like) is lying on the floor. He’s alive, but dazed. On the left hand side of the image, a nineteen-year-old blonde-haired girl is standing with her legs apart, holding a gun in a classic two-handed grip. We see the gun’s muzzle-flash. Clearly, she has just shot the man who’s now hurtling out the window. The room itself is mainly in shadows, so there isn’t a whole lot of detail to see. Perhaps there’s a table on the left side with an overturned lamp spotlighting the blonde.

A-Version:

It is nighttime. We don’t see much of the neighborhood, but what little we do see indicates that, while it hasn’t been abandoned, it’s poor and run-down. In the center of the image are a man and a woman, clearly ready to defend themselves. The man is on the left and he is in his mid-to-late thirties, dark haired and handsome (picture Leonardo DiCaprio). The woman has blonde hair and is about thirty. She is a bit on the chunky side. She is also the same blonde pictured in the other covers, only older.The two are armed only with military-styled knives. In the shadows around them are thugs with an assortment of makeshift weapons, including lead pipes and knives. Clearly, this is the moment before a fight breaks out. There is no fear in the faces of the two caught in the middle. They are both grim and determined.

Con-Version:

It’s late in the day. We’re on a deserted farm just outside of Dallas, Texas. In the foreground is a 47-year-old blonde-haired Caucasian woman (yes, the same person as in the previous covers, only older). She’s running towards the camera as fast and as hard as she can. You can see fear on her face, along with signs of exertion. She has just removed her grey-and-white-striped blouse, and it’s fluttering away behind her, having just left her outstretched right hand, leaving her torso covered only by a white bra. The blouse is on fire. Tongues of flame are now starting to appear on her grey skirt as well. She’s wearing black flats. Behind her is a faint cloud of some unknown gas. Embedded within that cloud are a number of policemen, who are all completely engulfed in flames and reacting as you would expect burning men to do. Clearly, she is trying to outrun that gas before she’s burned alive. Note: the gas only affects clothing, not hair or skin, which is the reason she is disrobing.


Deleted Scene

Author’s Note: I couldn’t find a good place to insert this little scene in The Version Sequence. I might use it in the first volume of the Light Years War, when I cover Project Deepspace but I haven’t decided yet. For now, it’s something that ended up on the cutting room floor.

UNISEA Headquarters,
Kansas City, Missouri.
September 14, 2157

Donald Seacrist stared across the desk at his visitor, an elderly woman with light grey hair and lively blue eyes.
“You can’t be serious, Mrs. Smith.” He knew the name was a fiction, of course, but as she herself pointed out, names weren’t really important. She was here, and she had powerful connections to the United States government. In the end, that was all Seacrist needed to know. What she chose to call herself was irrelevant.
“You read the report,” she replied, “from that nice young man – what was his name? Lawson? You’re going to have to trust me on this, Donald. That mysterious document he found in the One Eleven’s computer has to remain secret. No one else must read it, and no one else must know it even exists. Encrypt the thing, and put it away for about twenty or thirty years.”
“You can’t ask me to do that. You don’t know how important that document is.”
“Of course I do,” the woman said with a quiet chuckle. “I wrote the damned thing, after all!”
Seacrist’s dark skin paled a little.
“You mean to tell me that you’re …” The man’s eyes were wide, and his face wrapped in an expression that was half astonishment and half fear. The woman responded by laying a finger beside her nose and nodding.
“That’s impossible,” he declared. “That would make you over…”
“Hush now, Mr. Seacrist,” she said, wagging her index finger at him. “A gentleman never talks about a woman’s age.”
“But … you can’t just leave it like that. I mean, how did you manage to survive? And how the hell did you get that document on board the One Eleven?”
“Details,” the woman replied, turning serious. “They’re dangerous things, you know. You start poking too hard at that particular hornet’s nest, and you’re likely to get stung.”
“A threat, Mrs. Smith?”
“Just a warning, Donald, that’s all. This game we’re playing, you and I, has high stakes. And we’re not the only players. Specifically, there’s a man and a woman, both of whom are time travelers and very interested in our future. But those interests aren’t mine, and they’re certainly not yours. We make one false move, or fail to cover our tracks, and one or the other will win. I’m here to tell you that’s unacceptable.” She paused for a moment, thinking. “Have you ever been to the circus?”
“Circus?” he repeated, puzzled at the sudden change of subject.
“Yes, have you ever looked up at the man on the tightrope, and wonder how he manages to keep his balance? That’s us, you see, you and I. On one side is the man’s plan for us, while the other is the woman’s. One slip is all it’ll take, Donald. One slip and we plunge into someone else’s future. Staying on the tightrope and being the master of our own destiny will require our full attention. We can’t afford to be careless.”
“And what do you suggest we do?”
“Those two mustn’t suspect we’re on to them. It’s vital that they continue to think of us as mere puppets, slaves to their every whim. Their ignorance will be our greatest asset. While they carry on with their narrow-minded schemes, we’ll be manipulating them! By the time it’s all over, we’ll have won, and neither will know what hit them.”
“And how do we deal with someone … from our own future?”
“That’s just it. We actually have the high ground, not them! I happen to know what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it. In some ways, you might say I’m from their future! Listen, it’ll all be a lot clearer when I give you the uncensored version of that document. Knowledge is power, after all. Trust me, Donald. I know what I’m doing.”
“I’m getting too old for this crap!” Seacrist told her, looking down at his desktop with a shake of his head. When he looked up again, the old woman with the bright eyes was wearing a broad grin.
“That,” she said, “makes two of us!”