Playback Before the Gendarmes Arrive

This rough sketch continues the story started in The “Great Engine of Atosa” and picks up after “Before the Gendarmes Arrive.” Atosa, being one of the things on Hlau’s list 800 years later, is the site of a gigantic engine mainframe complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century.

Jing and Zo led the errant priest to the data terminal where they had witnessed the hack in progress. The data spool was still in place and hadn’t been re-wound yet. Even with the all the analytical engine mainframes down, electricity still fed into the complex from the windmills and the nearby river, stopped-up by a hydro-electric dam. The terminal couldn’t connect with the engines in its current state, but it could display the data that was recorded onto the spool. Zo pulled down one lever to re-wind the roll of punch paper and pushed it to stop, and then hit a button to play the data.

Ikaya grabbed the cable that connected the monitor to the the keyboard, the telegraph key, and the engine when the day’s data come on. He had Zo fast-forward the roll to the point when the mysterious access happened. He had clearly sensed something before, even if he didn’t say it. When the source with no origin appeared on the screen, it confirmed that there was something more to this than a masked identity. He knew something.

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Before the Gendarmes Arrive

This rough sketch takes place a close to 800 years before Hlau’s investigation of a string of hacks on some computer mainframes. Atosa, being one of the things on his list, is the site of a gigantic engine mainfame complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century. Jing, the protagonist of this sketch, is witness to some of the early events of the Great Engine Heist. There is a discrepancy in the calendar system and the dates used here and some of Hlau’s stories. I’ll definitely correct it in future drafts. This part picks up from The Great Engine of Atosa, III.

Ikaya, the holy man, nervously looked at Jing and his young apprentice. It had been years since Jing last saw him, when he and his fiancee Mura had seen him to discuss officiating the wedding that never happened. Then the last time he heard the priest’s name was when Mura broke off the engagement, saying that she just could not stop the forces of nature. But she had to tell Jing this while he was working, coding away on an important file. His sojourn in Tiago, which he thought would become something permanent, had ended with a phone call. And this man ,who had stolen what could have been his life, arrived shortly after another one. One did not need to be a telepath to grasp that Jing was seething with anger.

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The Great Engine of Atosa, III

This rough sketch takes place a close to 800 years before Hlau’s investigation of a string of hacks on some computer mainframes. Atosa, being one of the things on his list, is the site of a gigantic engine mainfame complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century. Jing, the protagonist of this sketch, is witness to some of the early events of the Great Engine Heist. There is a discrepancy in the calendar system and the dates used here and some of Hlau’s stories. I’ll definitely correct it in future drafts. This part picks up from the second part.

Jing took the phone and put it back into its holder on the wall. He had called the local temple – there were no high level telepaths there, but they told him they would call the School of Wisdom in Shusa. There may be an expert there or they could find someone to dispatch. They didn’t tell him something he already didn’t know. Supposedly, some of them could teleport. He hoped one of them could simply think themselves over and caught whoever broke into the system.

All he knew was that the fez-heads were coming and they’d be utterly useless. Police always were.

The local police never investigated computational crimes. Neither did the Tribal Affairs officers – they only came to the Engine Complex if there was a crime involving a Tanesh on the grounds. Some agents and uniformed policemen from the Agency would come soon. They weren’t equipped to handle psychic crimes, though.

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The Great Engine of Atosa, II

This rough sketch takes place a close to 800 years before Hlau’s investigation of a string of hacks on some computer mainframes. Atosa, being one of the things on his list, is the site of a gigantic engine mainfame complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century. Jing, the protagonist of this sketch, is witness to some of the early events of the Great Engine Heist. There is a discrepancy in the calendar system and the dates used here and some of Hlau’s stories. I’ll definitely correct it in future drafts. This part picks up from the first part.

On the rasterizer viewscreen, Jing monitored the requests that came in from all the engines networked with the Great Engine Complex. There was always a code identifying the engine and location requesting data, and this was all recorded on the spools of punch paper. Once he saw a spool was running out, he tapped the code for “halt.” Below the monitor was  a keyboard with the 60 syllabic characters of Phonic, with a key to tap a few times to select a Universal Character. Each syllable key on the keyboard automatically emitted the series of beeps – the longs and the shorts – but Jing preferred to tap it out on his singular telegrapher’s key, as the engines operated on a binary code, which was easily rendered in longs and shorts.

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The Great Engine of Atosa

This rough sketch takes place a close to 800 years before Hlau’s investigation of a string of hacks on some computer mainframes. Atosa, being one of the things on his list, is the site of a gigantic engine mainfame complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century. Jing, the protagonist of this sketch, is witness to some of the early events of the Great Engine Heist. There is a discrepancy in the calendar system and the dates used here and some of Hlau’s stories. I’ll definitely correct it in future drafts

For Jing, it was a routine night at the Atosa Engine Complex. Ever since the difference and analytical engines were invented a few hundred years before, it took that amount of time to refine the technology, to make them into working memory machines. In the late 19th millenium, a few businesses had an engine in floor, doing simple computations. By the turn of the the 20th millenium, massive warehouses were constructed to house massive engine mainframes. They were all networked and connected to the Engine Complex in Atosa, which provided backup computational power. The complex, located in the middle of the Great Plains of Atosa, which between two great mountain ranges in the Itano-Sutanese continent. It was Jing’s job to monitor all the requests for information from all the engines from all over the United Republic.

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So Much for the Afterparty

If September 11th wasn’t reason enough to cancel a party, then there was a much more down-to-earth excuse the following year. In the party that welcomed the new group of students (including yours truly) the year before, my friend Rosalyn took a fall down a flight of stairs. It was the type of mistake anyone could have made, had they been a little too close to the staircase that led from the living room to the basement floor. While there were handrails, the rectangular hole in the floor that showed the stairs was hardly noticeable. With drinks, high heels, and the stairs’ low visibility, anyone could have tumbled down and hit their head. But it had to be Rosalyn, one of the people who lobbied for the party.

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The Party

At the Universtity, the English Department traditionally sponsored a welcoming party for the MFA program at the beginning of each academic year. Fortunately, it wasn’t held on campus grounds, but in the home of a student. She was a retired English teacher-turned-professional MFA student as she had been working working on her degree for nearly a decade. The benefit of an off-campus party is the warm atmosphere only available in someone’s house, a gorgeous spread, and the alcohol. The last item is definitely essential as it facilitates socializing, but more importantly, it’s expected. The one that was held in my first semester in the graduate program would be the last one of its sort.

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Bar Hours

Henry O’Donough, this post-modernist professor at the University, kept office hours in the afternoon and “bar hours” on Thursday night, on the border of the City, between one of its eastern suburban neighborhoods and the exurban neighborhoods of two cities with names that translate into English as “The Table” and “The Box.” Most of the students who came to this little strip mall dive bar to hang out with the esteemed scholar, interviewer, and editor of several postmodern anthologies, including one that is a perpetual best seller for Duke University Press. And Professor K, ever trying to hold on to the tail of the fast-moving Zeitgeist, has a decent story in O’Donough’s best known anthology. Strangely, during my first year of knowing Professor K, I would go to “bar hours” to hang out with Henry and some classmates, past and present associates of Henry’s, and to unwind from Professor K’s classes, which were always held on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

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The Process

Professor Joseph K is the pseudonym of a professor I worked with when I was in graduate school. The name, of course, is borrowed from Franz Kafka’s protagonist of The Trial. This professor, author of small tomes, and armchair anarchist is the nemesis in much of my previous posts about him. Here, he finds himself in the midst of something I really wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. He’s definitely in that category

It’s funny that Professor Joseph K would find himself in the midst of a Kafkaesque nightmare at one point in his career. Some time after I ended my academic and professional association with him, he found himself the subject of a University investigation. I only have second-hand information on this subject. Given that I had been a student and employee of his for two years and that the investigation occurred while I was still in the MFA program, I’m surprised I was never interviewed as a witness. Getting back  to the subject at hand, the reason why the University was looking closely into Professor K’s affairs was that a student felt their grade was at stake after she objected to attending Professor K’s class when there was a sexually explicit presentation.

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Tlon

This is a world-building sketch for my Project Mintaka work. Tlon is one of the most important places in this milieu, even if may not be the story’s central setting. The name itself is a nod to Jorge Luis Borges, who created one of the strangest realms ever in fiction. My Tlon, though, isn’t his. I do like that Borges’s Tlön threatens to take over our reality.

The oldest city on Ourin is Tlon. This is where all civilizations began. Tlon is where the year, the orbit around the yellow sun, and the millennial year around Mintaka was realized. At the center of the city was the Stone of Memory, a twenty odd foot megalith believed to sentient but also the source of human telepathy and gifts. And it was long held that the Stone of Memory drew humanity to it. First they built Tlon around the Stone and then branched out to build other cities and mark spots of power with stones and cairns. Of all the sacred places in the world, the Stone of Memory was the most powerful and pilgrims throughout history constantly came to Tlon to visit it.

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