Something Goes Wrong in Space (Idea), part I

by johannespunkt

So, here is a thought-process detailing a space horror movie. Developed by me and Drakekin.

Let’s start at a moment in time defined as T101. There are 200 Ts in the movie, and the movie starts in the middle. It then goes forwards and backwards, with scene 1 being T101-T109, scene 2 being T91-T100.  Etc. I liked it when Ian M. Banks used this narrative technique in Use of Weapons and we shall copy it.

This post is mainly for sci-fi fans. There is lots of assuming that you, the reader, are familiar with hard sci-fi here.

Elevator Pitch

Something goes wrong in space.

The Spaceship Details

There is a mesh of hexagonal stuff (honeycomb) with the cells containing pods of things-with-which-to-start-a-new-planet (i.e. people, batteries, matter compilers, information). The mesh is in a tube-form, about 200 metres wide. There are three elevator shafts running along the outsides, mostly used by the ship’s repair robots. The tube is 5 kilometres long. With multiple people per pod, rough maths tells us this ship contains about 604.000.000 pods. With some other arbitrary assumptions, this means loading 650 million people onto the spaceship and, when getting to the planet to be their new home, reviving and retro-genoforming about 500 million of those.

At one end (the front) there is the control pod/the bridge which is large. The crew’s stasis pods are there, and they are not part of the mesh. The crew get woken up now and then – say twice a year – to make sure everything is alright. The control pod is in the middle of the giant dish made out of positionable mirrors. These vaporize micro-meteorites and nudge bigger meteorites to the side. Then, the thing self-repairs. The dish is large enough to keep starlight away from the centre-tube.

At the end there is an engine, connected to the centre-tube with long pillars, that act as shock absorbers. The engine is far away from the organic matter of the centre-tube. The engine also has a dish – connected by more shock absorbers – but this dish has a hole in it, wherethrough one shoots nukes. The nukes then explode in a ring, and push the spaceship further ahead. This is how the spaceship accelerates.

The ship’s computer can understand and produce human speech, process complex logic arguments, and understand from context. It’s basically Wolfram Alpha, on coke, plugged into a nuclear engine. There are dozens of brain-like things alive on the ship, all slaved to a quantum computer. There is a heat exchange between the computer and the brains, as they like to work at different temperatures. There are general radiators that cool the ship down.

The ship is called the ISV Alhambra.

Main Cast

Most of the crew gets, er, erased, early on, and these are the main survivors. For lack of a better word.

* Irving Duzzah. The Ship’s Technician 4-3. (The fourth technician on the third shift of being woken out of stasis.) Has crazy hair on the part of his head that still grows hair. One of the oldest people on the ship, but won’t say how old he is. Knows how to work an ansible but refuses to touch those things nowadays. He was on a ship bound for a system that had been corrupted. The ansibles had been hit by That-Which-Speaks and Irving … got curious, spoke to it, and Listened.

* Wvera Yrai. Ansible Communicator 0-3. She practices old religions, watches the ansible, drinks tea. Doesn’t doesn’t doesn’t listen to Irving, doesn’t like going near him. The ansible only transmits about one byte per hour, so the conversation is painstakingly slow. The ansible is connected to a matter compiler and receives information from an ansible built on the planet. The ansible has been built by an unpeopled vehicle sent out long ago, faster than the human-cargo ship.

* Solvieg Beodeen. The ISV Alhambra’s Psych Counsellor 9-3. Head of the Android Ambassadors (the conflict-resolving, placating robots that defuse most interperson issues on the ship). Pumped full of pheromones that make people like her. Reprograms androids if they develop too much sapience. Also tries to make people not notice this.

* Antruth. One of the engineers (13-3). Lost two of his six arms (two on the right side) in an accident reattaching a thing that had gone missing along the elevator shaft.

* Danetage. Engineer 14-3. Genoformed and vaccuum-adapted. Looks terrifying when blowfished-up. Has a non-space-suit ze uses a lot to hang around the non-climate-controlled areas.

* Clokstamm Mikohai. ISV Alhambra’s Medical Doctor 3-3. Specializes in the body-mods.

* Kiloyield Ob. The Ship’s Philosopher 0-25. Very old, but ageless. Claims to have been around for a long time, and to know more than he lets on. Most philosophers have, by now, according to Kiloyield, killed themselves due to the way one’s thoughts go when one is a ship philosopher. Has partially accessed the brain images of a bunch of other philosophers, and carries the images in brainlike things on his person, slipping in and out of consciousnesses. Never sleeps. Has arrived at some nonstandard conclusions about true emptiness, and That-Which-Speaks.