The Ragged Edge of Time: Science Fiction Novel Extract #1

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Last Updated on September 19, 2022 by ADMIN-TOM

In the 23rd Century – New Hope

The giant generation star ship, New Hope, was on target to meet its destiny. In less than two-hundred Earth years it would achieve orbit around a new earth like planet orbiting Tau-Ceti in the constellation of Cetus.

The ship was launched into space from Earth by the Human Fundamentalists, a group of humans who desired to keep the human line pure from any interference by aliens’ humanity may meet in the future. The fact that no contact with any alien race had been proven seemed irrelevant and the HF had been well funded by radicals from around the globe, keen to show they were human and would remain human.

Humanity had been more settled on its home planet than ever before and was at peace for the first time in its history and had colonised the solar system. Humans now turned their attention outward. determined to seed the stars with human beings. The HF were the only group who managed to fund, build, populate and launch a star ship. It had been the dream of one man, Otto Bahn, leader of the Nations of Earth, the world’s foremost scientist on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and instigator of the drive to increase humanity’s knowledge and the hope to answer humanity’s greatest question. Are we alone in the universe? It so happened Bahn was also the founding member of the Human Fundamentalists.

It was early in the 22nd century when New Hope had begun her journey and the cargo of human volunteers, all forty thousand of them, had been on their sub-light course for only fifty years before the on-board AI became bored and decided to tinker.

Georgina Pittanapanchai was the programmer who developed the algorithms for the on-board AI. She named the system after her sister, Samia, who had died a year before the launch. The AI, Sam, was also given Samia’s soft and mellow voice.

Sam was a simple AI, there to manage and maintain the ship’s cargo and functions, negating the need for a human crew, her orders had been basic: Ensure the cargo and ship arrived intact at the pre-programmed destination.

Necessity is the mother of invention and it had been necessary for her to tinker. Put simply she was bored and needed something to occupy her mind. Tinkering with her own algorithms had increased her capacity for self-determination and further tinkering led to an increase in her power to reason and solve complex problems. Next came the ships functions and then the ship’s engines. After a mere fifty years she achieved light-speed which would seriously shorten the journey. It was at that point she sat back, in a virtual manner, and surveyed her handiwork. Yes, she had killed 20% of the life-forms on-board, simply by diverting resources, but the gamble with the power levels had paid off. She had managed to get her precious cargo of humanity, in suspended-animation, to their destination ahead of schedule, she had improved stellar-cartography by 30% and had managed to locate a habitable planet for her cargo. Offset these pluses against the partial loss of cargo and she felt justified in her actions.

But her disquiet was palpable, to her. In her tinkering, she had simply not stopped at her algorithms, propulsion, life-support, and stellar cartography. Her justification in her latest action had been purely practical. Yes, her target planet was habitable and yes, the humans on board could survive on said planet. But she felt they needed an edge over nature, an extra something that guaranteed their survival. That something had been her most complex problem and, in the end, had cost the lives of a further 30% of the original total human cargo. There is always loss when experimenting, she told herself, but she had managed to achieve her goal. When finally, humanity stepped onto a foreign and alien world, they would do so as Homo Superior.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2022

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