The alpha centauri proje.., p.1
The Alpha Centauri Project (Thinking Worlds), p.1Marco Santini / Science Fiction
THE ALPHA CENTAURI PROJECT
by Marco Santini
“Know more” section: Nikola Danaylov
Graphic project: Lilia Morales y Mori
This novel is available in English, Spanish, French and Italian
Rev. February 22, 2014
Copyright Marco Santini 2007-2014
Standard Copyright License - All right reserved
Lilia Morales y Mori
To he who explores new horizons,
because knowledge doesn't have limits;
to he who tries new ways,
because dreams become reality;
to he who pursues brotherhood,
because peace is not a chimera.
In the Net
Around the solar system
A fashionable place
A strange person
Waiting for revenge
A leap into the past
Computer Science Institute
Close to the sky
A hundred years later
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!
According to future studies, the world will be dominated soon by disruptive technologies, able to plunge Mankind into an era of accelerated progress. Main outcomes will be the achievement of immortality, the creation of smarter than human Artificial Intelligence and the spread of the new species through the universe.
“The Alpha Centauri Project” is a breathtaking story set in a near future altered almost beyond recognition by disruptive technologies.
24th century. Humans live on Earth and the Moon, last strongholds of their past power. Mars and the Net are inhabited by artificial intelligences and souls, these last obtained by digitizing the brain after death. The virtual reality allows the two races to communicate. Their differences are deep.
With digitization, humans have postponed real death to an indeterminate future, but they are not happy. Towards the virtual beings they feel admiration but also inferiority and envy.
The digital creatures instead cannot bear being relegated in worlds too small for their unbounded ambitions. Their Martian experience has allowed them to develop the competence necessary in extra-terrestrial environments, most of all to acquire the self-confidence indispensable for the colonization of other star systems. The Alpha Centauri project is born.
The mission obtains the humans’ support. In exchange the digital beings abandon the idea of expanding on the Earth. Just before departure, Earth Security intercepts a suspect message from the Space Agency. Terrorism? The evidence leads to the Elects, a sect that entered Net fifty years before through a collective suicide...
Eve and Victoria, the main characters, are “souls”, digital beings whose brain was digitized after death. They move in a context of epoch making events, becoming more and more involved and finally merging their destiny with that of the digital people.
Scenes in Net are marked by @.
Digital being, historian
Artificial intelligence, an Elects’ member, son of Eve Dirac, Victoria and Martin Wing
Artificial intelligence, Security officer
Soul, Master of the Elects, information technology scientist
Human, Victoria’s partner
Human, Defense general
Soul, Councilor of the Elects, civil rights leader
Human, Victoria’s companion
Soul, Grand Master of the Elects
Soul, James’ partner.
At the beginning of the 24th century, Man, proud of his own successes, looked to the future with optimism, convinced that in a future not far away his rashest wishes would change into reality.
Meanwhile, the newborn Net people undertook the first interstellar voyage: a Cyclopean enterprise with which all the population was sailing to a new world, an event destined to change the protagonists of History.
IN THE NET
@ Year 2300, eve.
From the dining room, come the presenter's jokes followed by roars of laughter. The head waiter takes Victoria to a hall crowded with customers in elegant suits.
In a cheerful dance, laser beams are criss-crossing the gigantic hologram of a Christmas tree with iridescent reflections. Shortly before midnight the ‘tree’ will vanish leaving the floor free for celebrations. On one side, three colored musicians dressed in white are performing compositions from past times.
This spot, famous for its excellent food, first-rate service and famous artists, is placed in one of the most exclusive zones of Net and reproduces the environment and the atmosphere of a much earlier epoch, when the virtual world was not yet born.
Victoria orders an aperitif and checks her appearance in the mirror in front. Her big jade eyes show up a lovely face, her raven hair covers her naked shoulders and the blue lace dress, plain but provocative, reveals her perfect breasts.
The longing solo played by a frenzied trumpet, seems a distant melody.
The chair in front is empty.
She opens her leather handbag, scans inside for a moment, tightening her lips. Then she concentrates on the clients at the entrance. Elegant overcoats.
There he is! Impressive height, black hair and handsome features. In dinner-jacket, with a silver strip around his waist, a white handkerchief in his breast pocket. A waiter rushes to him and points to the table.
The man hurries towards Victoria. He bends and whispers: “This evening will be just for us.”
“I feared you had forgotten me.”
The man orders an aperitif. He looks through the menu, and when the cocktail arrives, he sips from time to time. Finally he raises his eyes: “What about an epoch dish?”
They place the order.
Victoria stares in silence at the waiter pouring a vintage Bordeaux into crystal goblets. Then she rotates the glass gently. Ruby color, fruity aroma. On her lips, a sad smile.
“Is there anything wrong?” asks James.
“For you it is easy. You spend your day in the real world. Instead I’m here waiting for you all day long…”
James stretches his arm along the table. Meanwhile Victoria continues: “When I met you in Net after my accident, I thought our love could withstand forever. Not even my death had separated us! I gave up the dehumanization to remain the person you loved. But now I'm not sure anymore.”
“I realize how difficult is here.”
“I believed I could integrate in the digital world. But without dehumanization, I am too different from the other souls!”
“You should return to the real world,” says James caressing Victoria’s hand. “I'll buy you a gynoid (1). You can install inside.”
“We could sleep together at least! But what shall we do if the law making dehumanization compulsory, passes?”
James touches lightly Victoria’s nose with his forefinger. “I’m quite sure it doesn’t. The opposition is very strong. But now let's enjoy this evening. I want to see you smiling!”
@ Scene in Net.
(1) Robot with feminine features. The digital beings can install themselves inside.
AROUND THE SOLAR SYSTEM
They wanted to mark the beginning of the new century with an out of the ordinary holiday. As in the previous years, they could choose one of the many proposals of Net, but this time they wished to measure themselves against the real world.
Finally, they opted for the Jupiter satellites.
Europe, the most sought-after destination of space tourism. A splendid view of the imposing planet, plowed with deep stripes and continuous storms, covering most of the sky. An interminable ice pack furrowed now and then with wide fractures from which volcanic water spurts. Underneath, ice caves dozens of kilometers long, and down in the depths, an ocean inhabited by rare luminescent creatures.
Io, the antechamber to Hell. Lava rivers, ash plumes and sulphur boiling lakes.
The Jupiter aerial mines. Colossal factories hanging from aerostatic balloons, which extract a helium isotope used as nuclear fuel from the atmosphere.
Just a few weeks before their departure, a business engagement arose. They fell back on a much shorter holiday, for only three days but guaranteeing intense emotions. They were going to climb a Mars canyon. Not one of the many, but the deepest chasm in the solar system. Notwithstanding their haste, they studied the preparations in the smallest detail. As for the equipment, the choice fell on the latest android model: a two-meter-tall body made of ultralight material, strengthened with carbon nanotubes; the rock-climber's dream.
Here they are on Mars, transported by laser beams. Inside their new bodies, lined up along a wall of a room crammed with equipment. Cold, the only noise the humming of the devices. They exchange a few jokes, then set out along a deserted corridor, following the markings on the map that appears in their visual fields. Their footsteps resound against the metal walls, every now and then distant echoes reach them.
They step into a garage. A hovering ovoid approaches. The doors slide open. They get in. Soft gray seats. From behind, arms like hoses wrap them gently. The automatic pilot wishes them a nice stay.
The nacelle fills up with colors. A powerful acceleration. The aircraft darts out of the garage through a round opening and heads for the desert. Behind, the white spot of the rapidly receding base, shows up in the middle of the red sand like a diamond dropped from the sky.
C573Y raises his eyes towards Phobos, one of the two small Martian moons. Its long and lumpy shape has never stopped amazing him. Nearby, three new stars are twinkling: Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, the spacecrafts of the Alpha Centauri project, one kilometer wide spheres, orbiting around the planet at twenty thousand kilometers. Smaller lights crown them: the assembly stations of the shipyard - now inactive after ten years of intense activity - and the freighters intent on transferring - from their huge tanks - the nuclear fuel extracted from the atmosphere of Jupiter and Uranus.
The ovoid flies low over the desert, covered here and there by frayed carbon dioxide clouds. An hour later, it plunges with a sharp turn, into the Marineris Valley, a deep wound in the Mars crust. On both sides, sheer cliffs, rock spikes and inlets, on the bottom an interminable expanse of rocks and sand.
The aircraft goes beyond a small settlement under construction – yards packed with equipment and robots busy assembling prefabricated modules – and skims over a series of high dunes on which the wind has drawn thin waves.
It heads for a gorge and lands at about two hundred meters from a face. When the doors open, the passengers sink their boots into the soft light sand, nearly a dust. Icy and rarefied air. Not far, a whirlwind is running along the slope of a dune. The androids raise their eyes towards the wall. Its boundaries are lost on the horizon, and the rock columns crowning it look like claws gripping the sky. It is covered with friable sediments, a serious danger even for the most expert climbers. To be avoided, not to be forced into difficult detours.
C573Y draws a piton out of his rucksack. A simple piton. It couldn’t be otherwise: the great challenges require lack of means and out of the ordinary capabilities. As the Titans did in ancient times.
They climb as fast as spiders. Tiny figures on an ochre sheet. Mechanical movements, meter after meter, always with the same concentration. Their glance towards the sky, because it is there they will have the impression of being, once on the top.
No problems for almost a day. Till they hear a distant rumble. Excited cries. Frenzied gestures, someone points at a recess. They rush into it.
A dark front of sand and rocks is swooping down, carrying away the projections along the way, devouring the wall. A threat that not even the climbing androids – technological jewels of the 24th century – can withstand.
They keep still, staring at the wall of powder bursting into the shelter and covering their shields with a thick layer.
Passed exchanging impressions and stories. Lit by the beam of a torch, that makes features of faces and bodies emerge from the darkness, reabsorbing them with each movement.
From time to time, distant bangs. Thunder? Slides?
A series of whistles and whispers announces the day. A sweet and nostalgic singsong. The lament of a wife grieving over her companion who has left on a long journey…
The androids stick their heads out of the shelter. The sunlight floods them. Jagged rocks of all dimensions stretch out clearly from the flumes, up to the horizon. The sky is spotless bright pink. A melody pervades the air.
“Look!” cries C573Y, pointing his arm at four shadows with delicate features and their hair in the wind. He didn’t expect them.
Then he turns in the opposite direction. “Come!”
Again in the chasm, clinging to the ropes with their backs in the void, they jump along the wall.
They mount a basalt slab and run along.
“The Ladies' song!” announces C573Y. “Many years ago, at the dawning of the colonization, an expedition reported having seen some female figures just around here…”
They peep round a boulder. In front, against the sun on the horizon, stand out rock columns surmounted by long filaments.
“Plants which survived the drying up of the planet billions of years ago. The sound is caused by the wind passing between the rocks.”
Evening. Here they are, at the top, sitting side by side on the edge of the precipice, intent on admiring the lights of the little colony many kilometers below. They are about to celebrate the new century.
C573Y becomes dumb. A message has appeared in his visual field:
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE EMERGENCY MEETING
ON EARTH, IN TWO HOURS
YOUR PARTICIPATION REQUIRED.
He turns towards his companions. “I have received a communication. I must go.”
He casts a nostalgic glance at the darkness, towards that alien nature that for two days has charmed him with striking views, that did not hesitate to attack and hunt him even inside his shelter.
A challenge he plunged into without any hesitation.
A companion of his slaps C573Y on the shoulder. “See you soon, then!”
The three reach a flat space about ten meters further on. They exchange a big hug.
“We will arrange to give back the android,” says a companion.
C573Y moves a few steps back. He raises his eyes to the sky, towards a vivid light in the middle of the star blanket. In his visual field, appears a menu. He activates the connection with the satellite. Then he sends a message:
REQUEST IMMEDIATE TRANSFER
DESTINATION: SECURITY GENERAL HEADQUARTERS - EARTH.
He loses his senses. In a few seconds, the programs he is made of are transmitted to the satellite and from there through a laser beam begin their voyage to Earth. The body of the android remains as stiff as a statue, the eyes misted over with indifference.
Half an hour later C573Y wakes up in a Security computer.
His assistant welcomes him, brings him up to date accurately and efficiently, and supplies the documentation. C573Y studies it, prepares a proposal, then activates the transfer.
Now he is in a uniformly lit room, sitting at a table next to the other participants.
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