In the near future, two University students are performing a chemistry experiment when something goes violently wrong. The original experiment fails, but that failure results in two ordinary copper wires becoming quantum entangled. Signals travel instantaneously from one wire to the other, no matter how far apart they are. It’s impossible to intercept that signal, or even detect that a signal exists. Soon, thanks to the Internet, people all over the world know what the two have done, and the race is on to grab both them and their discovery. The boys will soon be rich and famous, provided they live long enough!
Privacy is the new killer app!
Author’s Note: The cover needs better art if I’m going to write this up and publish it. A better Ethernet cable, perhaps, lying in a pool of blood.
The Immortality Plague
It is one of the few certainties in life. Even so, who among us wouldn’t trade everything they owned to cheat that inevitability for a single day, or even a single hour? But before handing over all your worldly possessions, consider this: some fates are worse than death!
Author’s Note: This novel takes place immediately after the events of In-Version, and was originally intended to be the fifth volume in The Version Sequence. However, as the story progressed, it became clear that it did little to advance the main arc of the larger series. Therefore, parts of it were moved to Con-Version as a series of flashbacks, while the rest of the story awaits completion as a stand-alone Joe Coyne adventure.
Tharsis Province, Mars
April 25, 2182
The top of the extinct Olympus Mons volcano vanished in a sudden flash of white light as the fusion reactor buried beneath it went supercritical. In that brief instant, not only did the mountain itself vanish, but the luxurious mansion hidden inside did as well. Vaporized in the resulting blast was the body of Birsch Pharmaceuticals’ CEO, the sole surviving member of Mars’ ruling family, Catherine Abigail Birsch.
As a result of Birsch’s death, chaos waited in the wings. The population had yet to discover their loss, but it was only a matter of time before news got out. Then the violence would begin, spreading across the globe until not even the deadly riot-control machines of the Martian police would be able to stop the rising tide of blood.
“The Red Planet” was about to get a whole new meaning.
The Light Years War Trilogy:
Volume One: Into the Abyss
Behold, I have caused a door to be opened before thee which no one can shut.
— Apocalypse: 3, 8
Over a hundred starships were sent out to explore the galaxy.
Only one came back!
This is the story of that lone Deep Space Probe, and its mission to locate and rescue the missing crews. In the process, they’ll discover a dark secret and encounter an alien race intent on Earth’s destruction.
Volume Two: Out of the Void
Born in the void of space, where air is at a premium, and life harsh and unforgiving, the aliens have lived peacefully for nearly a million years. But now their civilization is being threatened by a race playing with forces they do not understand and can barely control. That threat must be eliminated — at any cost!
The planet they are looking for is called “Earth”.
Volume Three: On Scorched Earth
“War is coming!
We’ve known its exact date for decades. That knowledge has allowed us to strengthen our defences, but we still don’t know where the fight will take place, or who the enemy is. So even after forty years, we’re still not ready.
God help us all, but we’re just not ready!
War is coming — in fact, it’s almost here.
And we don’t stand a chance!”
The Ancients Trilogy:
Volume One: Ancient Worlds
Millennia after the Light Years War, Mankind struggles to restore human civilization in the galaxy. But much has been lost in the intervening years. People still talk about those they call The Ancients, the ones who fought in that terrible conflict. The accomplishments of that race now sound like the wild imaginings of a child’s fantasy. Recovering a portion of that legendary technology has become the dream of many, including one archaeologist for whom the dream has become an obsession. That obsession will take him to the stars.
Volume Two: Ancient Secrets
The legendary homeworld of the Ancients, Earth, has finally been found. But explorers discover that the reality is far deadlier than anyone could possibly have imagined, harbouring secrets that will change the lives of the men sent to unearth them. For one archaeologist, those secrets will prove to be more than he bargained for.
Volume Three: Ancient Powers
Deep beneath the Earth’s crust, an Ancient city begins to stir, setting in motion a plan devised long before the Light Years War began. But will this plan help rebuild human civilization, or merely trigger a second Light Years War?
Sneak Preview of Ancient Powers
(c) 2015 Thomas F. Brown, All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.
Author’s Note: The following scene actually pre-dates everything else I’ve written, with the possible exception of my original Spacetime radio script. It’s that final image at the end of the scene that stuck with me, like something from an old Dracula movie. But that isn’t a vampire’s hand you see, oh, no! It’s something a lot more powerful and a whole lot more dangerous.
The nearly full moon touched the treetops at the edge of the clearing, while the grunts and heavy breathing of the couple in the clearing’s center augmented the normal sounds of a summer night. Oblivious to the world around them, they were unaware of being watched.
Those watchers began firing automatic weapons while still concealed by the forest. At first, they concentrated their fire on the man, walking slowly into the clearing, the expression on their faces one of terror. They dared not waste a single bullet on the woman until they were sure that the man was dead. They continued to fire, replacing each spent clip with a fresh one, while the naked woman screamed wordlessly at the top of her lungs.
Finally, when there was little left of the man except for blood and gore, they emptied their guns into the woman. They expended far less ammunition on her, and their faces showed relief when they were done, although they were all far whiter than the pale moonlight could account for.
Once the guns were silenced, an eerie, unnatural quiet settled over the clearing, now filled with the smell of cordite, and littered with spent shell casings.
“I don’t believe it”, one of the men said in a whisper, as if afraid to wake the dead.
“Everyone gets careless now and then,” the leader said. He pulled a small device from his shirt pocket, and raised it to his right eye. It made a click-whir sound as it recorded the carnage. “He just picked a real bad time to do it, that’s all. Come on, let’s get out of here. The sooner we get these pictures back, the sooner we get paid.”
Under other circumstances, the men might have snickered, and made rude remarks. Of course, under other circumstances, they would have waited a while before killing the woman. Even now, with two bloody corpses in front of them, fear still shone in their eyes. As bad as their employer was, even he feared this man. It wasn’t a pleasant thought.
“Didn’t the boss say to bury him?” one of the men objected as the others moved to leave.
“Screw the boss,” another man replied. “I ain’t staying here one second longer than I have to!”
The leader of the group blew an exasperated breath. He wanted out as much as the rest of them. Still …
“You volunteering to say that to his face?” the leader asked the second objector. Fear flashed for a moment in the mercenary’s eyes before he gulped nervously and shook his head.
“We won’t be safe until the bastard’s in the ground,” the leader said firmly as he put them to work. Each man had a folding entrenchment tool, and they all started digging, even the leader. By dawn, the two bodies had been dumped in a shallow grave and the men made ready to leave. They departed the clearing as fast as possible. They didn’t run, exactly, but only professional pride restrained their feet.
A day and a night passed. Finally, a grey, cloudy dawn broke over the bloody clearing. Both animals and insects seemed to be staying away from the site, and nothing was disturbed.
As the light of a new day touched the fresh grave, a man’s hand, dirt and blood encrusted, thrust itself up into the air. At first, the fingers on that hand were spread wide. Then, after a moment, they clenched into a tight, angry fist.
The grave began to stir ….
Short Stories in the Version Universe
Dream a Little Dream
A very old woman is dying in a hospital bed, attended to by a doctor and nurse.
Years ago, her husband was dying from an incurable illness, so he was placed in suspended animation. Being that the process requires the mind to be placed in a Virtual simulation while the body remains in stasis, he was given a simulation of living a normal life at home with his wife. But his wife (the now-old woman) didn’t want to spend the rest of eternity in a fantasy world, so unbeknownst to her husband, she had a simulation of herself added to her husband’s Virtual dream. She never joined him.
Her husband never noticed the switch. The old woman tells the doctor that the man has been so happy in his little dream world, and she doesn’t want to destroy that happiness. She begs the doctor not to tell him she has died. Let him live out the rest of eternity in peace and happiness with the woman he loves.
The doctor leaves the hospital room and closes the door behind him. The nurse who had accompanied him now speaks up. She’s puzzled. The woman was a spinster, and never married. The doctor explains that many years ago, the woman was suffering from acute depression. As part of her treatment, she was placed in a Virtual simulation where her “clock” was sped up dramatically. She was given the experience of a full and normal life, falling in love as a young girl, marrying the man of her dreams, having kids and growing old together. She emerged from Virtual cured. However, it seems that in the last week or so, the woman began suffering from severe dementia, and now believes that Virtual experience was real. It’s not her husband who’s living a dream, it’s the old woman.
In the 22nd Century, movies are made by placing actors in Virtual Reality and digitally “filming” the results. Not only do you get 3D as well as perfect realism, but the “viewer” has their choice of perspective. Some movies even allow a choice of plot twists and different endings by the viewer.
In the 2180’s, the current trend in modern movies is to remake films from the Twentieth Century (The movie industry has always been known for its originality). Viewing one of these remakes can be an intellectual challenge — the world being described is two hundred years old, remember, and accuracy (of a sort) is something the industry always strives for.
On the set of a new Lethal Weapon movie, the two stars are women instead of men, and the “modern twist” on the characters is that, while one is happily married with a husband and kids, the other is a lesbian with a crush on her partner.
Then one of the supporting actors dies — dies for real, not just in the Virtual simulation. One of the cast members has found a way into the computer controlling the simulation so that anyone who dies or tries to exit has their brain fried in the real world (this is the same thing described in The Version Sequence, once by accident and a second time as a security measure). Finding themselves unable to end the simulation or insert real trained detectives, the movie studio is forced to recruit the two stars of the movie (whose own research into their roles gives them the only training available) to stop the person responsible for the sabotage before more die.
A Soviet weather experiment in 2001 (in the Version timeline, the Soviet Union is still intact, although very weak and economically unstable) goes catastrophically wrong creating massive winter storms across the entire northern hemisphere. The story compares the lines of two groups: a local television station covering the “Great Blizzard of Oh-One” with an American Black Ops team assigned to HALO into Siberia to destroy the Soviet weather-control station threatening civilization.
This is the incident that results in collapsing the Soviet Union, causing the political power vacuum that allows the African Republic to form.
Author’s Note: Never written because I’m not sure the two pieces of the story work together. Plus, how in the bloody blue blazes is the military going to send a black ops team half way around the world in the middle of a civilization-ending blizzard? Not gonna happen, I’m afraid. Kept as part of history, but more as an urban legend.
A Freshman in a 20th century college keeps having vivid dreams of serving in Vietnam. But in those dreams, he’s a Vietnam soldier with vivid dreams of being a college student back in the United States. Which “dream” is real, and how can he “wake up”?
Turns out, neither one is real. The year is 2145 and the man is actually testing the space agency’s new suspended animation technology. The “dreams” are the result of an odd form of sensory deprivation as the brain and body have been suspended but the mind is somehow still awake, deprived of the memories normally provided by the body. This story illustrates why stasis must always be paired with Virtual: the mind will go crazy without it.
Author’s Note: Never written because it’s too similar to that old Twilight Zone episode with Earl Holliman. But I keep it as a part of Version history.
Just a Minute
The Light Years War has devastated the Earth. In a Long Term Stasis Facility, where people who are dying but aren’t willing to give up on life are kept in suspended animation while their minds exist in a Virtual simulation. But the outside world is now all but gone, destroyed by the alien attack. The Facility’s running on energy storage cells, but those cells will only last another day. When the power runs out, all the Facility’s residents will emerge from stasis to die within a matter of hours of their original illnesses. Getting together in Virtual, those residents must decide what to do. In the end, they speed their clocks up to maximum. That last day will now last a long, long time (centuries, perhaps). Yes, they will all die in the end, but on their terms and not the aliens’.
The Sino-Japanese Confederation has decided that their Martian Colony is a losing proposition and withdraws its financial and material support. But without continued supplies from Earth, the colony is doomed to die. It’s just a question of which vital resource will run out first. Plus, without the Earth government in control, the only way to keep the colony from descending into chaos may be to make a deal with the Yakuza, organized crime.
This won’t end well.
Author’s Note: Haven’t fully plotted this one out yet, but it does have the potential for something a lot bigger than a short story. Needs more thought, and possibly a better title. May get added as a series of flashbacks to the Immortality Plague, I don’t know.