Hello, my name is…
1 - Hello, my name is Charles. Contact gave us many questions we had avoided for centuries. Millennia. But most of us did not ask them. We were content with our bread and circuses. Our entertainments. Most of us listened to the calming words of politicians and news anchors. Most of us went on about our lives as normal, accepting the existence of extraterrestrial life with little more than a nod. For most of us, the worlds did not change beyond having access to a few more technological toys derived from alien technologies. Life went on and ever on, with only slight changes to accommodate newer ripples. But alien life was no minor ripple in the stream of life.
2 - Betty - The Races of Humanity - Peloran. The first test run of Peloran crashed and burned when they hit puberty after two years of accelerated life. They became rebellious and cavalier. Each of them wanted to prove they were better than the others, and drove each other to greater and more dangerous stunts. The Albion researchers in charge tried to limit their ability to get into trouble, but they underestimated the ability of hyper-intelligent, rebellious, young men to find ways to get into trouble. The Peloran broke out of the research base and found their way into the nearest town where they soon realized that their sheltered existence had not prepared them for life in the public.
3 - Hello, my name is Jack. I was assigned a Personal Assistant AI as part of school when I was a kid. She helped me study and learn things and all the other school stuff. We were taught to customize our assistants during Middle School, as we began to branch off into our later courses of study. It was in high school that we generated our first Personal Assistants from scratch. Mine was a redhead with green eyes because that was rare in Minnesota. And I’ve always enjoyed being different. She was a good study buddy. Though once I discovered real girls, I started spending a lot more time with them. Still, she helped me get through school, so I owe her a lot.
4 - Hello, my name is Charles. Contact was an answer to the greatest question mankind had ever looked out into the darkness and asked. “Are we alone?” When the answer arrived though, we did not recognize its importance. Centuries of fantasy and science fiction stories had left us comfortable with the idea of alien life while we lost contact with our own human brothers in other cultures. And when the aliens turned out to be as human as we were, most of us expected them to act rationally. The way we would. Most of us had forgotten that the word alien was once used on fellow humans from other cultures we did not understand. Most of us forgot how truly alien someone with a human face could act. That is why The War surprised so many of us.
5 – Forge of War 19 – Father Knows Best.
6 – Betty – The Races of Humanity – Peloran. The first test run of Peloran proved they were inventive enough to escape their creators, but they were not prepared for what they found outside the facility that created them. They had grown up in a controlled environment, dedicated and trained towards a future as soldiers of the Albion. Civilization in all its chaotic beauty was the one thing they were not prepared for. And seeing girls for the first time pretty much turned them into drooling idiots. Many would say that it is fairly common for the male of human species to become drooling idiots around girls, of course. But by any measure, those first Peloran made a crowning statement for all drooling idiots in the galaxy. Nobody died. Though if pure embarrassment could cause death, it would have been a mass casualty event.
7 – Remember Pearl Harbor. On Sunday, December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. Over two thousand American soldiers died that day, and one thousand were wounded. Four battleships sank, four more were damaged, and hundreds of aircraft were destroyed or damaged. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and 5 midget submarines. It was one of the most lopsided victories in the annals of human history. It was a sneak attack during a time of peace. They sought to defeat us. They sought to break us. They failed. We stood back up. We brushed ourselves off. We fought back. We defeated them. And we still remember Pearl Harbor.
8 – Forge of War on Smashwords. Forge of War is now available at the Smashwords store, where you can download formats for your Amazon Kindle, Standard Epubs for your Nook or other electronic reader, Sony, PDF, and other formats. I rather enjoy that they generate all of those formats for you, the lucky reader. It gives you control to read however you want. And I’m always happy letting people read however they want.
9 – Betty – The Races of Humanity – Peloran. After recovering the first test run of Peloran, the Albion scientists created new protocols for raising their super soldiers. The first protocol was controlled interaction with the female of the species. They had a lot to teach. The second change was that all future Peloran runs were fifty percent male and fifty percent female. Controlled socialization between the sexes began in childhood, so such a shock would never happen again. The first run Peloran made swift progress in all their studies, and soon became promising soldiers. Then the second run of Peloran hit puberty. And all the Albion controls failed again.
10 – Hello, my name is Jack. I'm not sure what it's like when you read this, but the Personal Assistants I grew up with weren't real people. They were just AIs. Artificial. Not truly intelligent. They were designed to help us. To make our lives easier. A lot like servants. But they weren't alive. The way biological or cybernetic intelligences are. They only thought what they were programmed to think. They couldn't make themselves better like we can. They weren't sentient. They weren't human. Even mine. But you know something? I always wished she was. A real girl. A real person. Someone who could really care about me. Not just…follow her programming. Lots of people are content with the programming. I wasn't. Lucky for me, I discovered real girls…
11 – Hello, my name is Charles. So many of us spent so much of our time in the past concerned over who was more human than another. There were real scientists who once said that people from Africa were fallen humans. That they deserved to be our slaves because we were better than they. We thought the Chinese were less than us. And the Chinese taught their people that they were the only people in all the world that mattered. We have all spent massive amounts of time and energy saying we are the best and everyone else is less than us. Less intelligent. Less feeling. Less right. Less human. But I have learned one thing in my life. Our humanity is not defined by the genes that run through our bodies. Our humanity is revealed by how we treat others.
12 - Forge of War 20 - Devilcats
13 - Betty - The Races of Humanity - Peloran - There is an old saying about bold warriors making horrible soldiers. The Peloran are actually one very good example of that. Both male and females are born to fight, with genetic imperatives built into their reactions to do so in the most aggressive and deadly ways. The Albion lost control of one Peloran generation after another as they entered puberty. They were courageous, fearless, and completely unable to function in any normal society. They constantly fought each other over positions of dominance until the Albion despaired of ever succeeding in their mission of creating controllable super soldiers.
14 - Jack - Ten Days From Mars. I had this dream of making movies when I was a kid. I actually filmed quite a few back during high school. One of the first good ones I did was this old science fiction noir film about traveling to Mars on an old reaction rocket. I actually studied old NASA videos to get the details right. It was mostly montage, showing how people survived in a box the size of a bus as it crawled through space towards the red planet in a trip that took days. It featured a lot of guns being cleaned, shot, and prepped, a pretty girl played by my newest personal assistant AI, and a scarcity of nonessential clothing. Pretty much everything guaranteed to appeal to teenage boys everywhere. You might say I planned that one out. Hehehe.
15 - Hello, my name is Charles. Everybody knows the Africans were once used as slave labor in the cotton fields. Their lobby does not let anyone forget it. But a little known secret is that the Chinese maintained slave trading markets long after the American Civil War officially ended the practice of Slavery. They were kept apart from the Americans, and many never learned English at all. They never found out that Slavery was illegal here. Most never ran because they did not think they could. Some few did, and it was they who helped us fight the Chinese markets, but we never fully ended them. The lack of a common language kept us divided and forever hampered our efforts to end that slave trade.
16 - Betty - The Races of Humanity - Peloran - After several generations of Peloran children that fought like demons but couldn't be controlled, the Albion scientists changed their strategy. They dialed back the aggression and dominance genes, as well as numerous other modifications, and created their next generation of Peloran super soldiers. The children were model kids as they spent two years growing into puberty and then the project went sideways. They were genetically predisposed towards passive nonviolence and they quickly adopted one of the Albion's most peaceful religions. They became monks and simply refused any martial training at all. They had the bodies of super soldiers controlled by minds similar to Free Tibetan Buddhist Monks. The Albion scientists were beyond frustrated.
17 - Jack - One Hour From Mars. My Ten Days From Mars film was supposed to take place back before Contact, when we still had to boost people out of the planetary gravity wells on booster rockets or the space elevators. Back when it took days of old school rocket acceleration to travel between planets. I saw it as a mix between an art film and a chance to play with guns. And show off a pretty girl. Can never forget that last part, you know. So of course I had to show her getting ready for landing once the whole trip was coming to an end. Mars was waiting, you know. For what? Well…why else would a nice girl like that travel all those days on a rocket ship with all the guns she could carry? She had a job to do…
18 - Hello, my name is Charles. Another lesser known fact of the Slavery era in America is the role that Irish slaves filled. The British first sold political prisoners at a cheaper cost than the stronger African slaves, and then began a program of removing Catholicism from Ireland entirely through a mix of simply killing them or selling more of them into slavery. Since most of the new Irish slaves had learned to read and write they were useful in household duties the African's couldn't do. They tutored children, did the books, and many other duties. Many men also found them more pleasing in bed. The Irish could be used like that because they were Catholics. They were different. And those differences were enough to keep us divided as a people for centuries.
19 - Forge of War 21 - The Pav
20 - Betty - The Races of Humanity - Peloran - After numerous generations of failed supersoldiers, the Albion scientists had succeeded in one thing. Their techniques in forming genetic compulsions were improving greatly. Whether they were warriors or monks, the imperatives were working. The problem was that they wanted warriors with the control of monks. The pure monk route had failed entirely. And while a warrior could learn the control after years of practice, that was outside the scope of their mission to grow supersoldiers in three years. They didn't want to spend years teaching the new soldiers how to maintain control. So they began manipulating the genetic structures further to see if they could impose that control from the genes up.
21 - Jack - Five Minutes on Mars. I had a lot of fun shooting that little Ten Days from Mars movie. I also learned a lot. Doing it in black and white made for some interesting shifts in colors that I hadn't anticipated. My personal assistant's white coat made her very visible in even the darkest shots. While a black outfit was a bit harder to see on screen. Yeah, that was me wearing the black trenchcoat. Did you really expect me to shoot a film about going to Mars with all the guns I could acquire and not put myself into it somehow? There was a story to it all of course. We get on Mars and immediately march out to deal with the bad guy we were sent to deal with. That's a euphemism for “kill it until it is dead” just in case you don't speak Politician…
22 - Hello, my name is Charles. We have spent thousands of years raiding, killing, and enslaving each other. Our civilizations are built on the burial grounds of much older civilizations. We killed some of them. Others collapsed on their own. We have lurched from one apocalypse or war into another, pausing only to take a breath in between each one. Even the vaunted peace we forged during the interstellar race merely changed the battlefields. The Core Worlds were safe from war, but not our colonies. We continued to raid, kill, and enslave out there. We merely declined to report it in the inner worlds. Our greatest civilizations never brought true peace. We never treated our fellow man as actual human beings. Why did we ever expect aliens to be any better than us?
23 - Betty - The Races of Humanity - Peloran - With both the warrior and the monk genetic imperatives mastered, the Albion scientists began developing a third set of control programs to act as a bridge between the two natures they wanted to use. They theorized that a properly developed set of genetic codes would allow them to default their soldiers in the peaceful monk mode, but unlock the aggressive warrior when the Albion required them to fight. Early successes and failures resulted in Peloran stuck in one mode or the other, and particularly devious consultants turned the Peloran on their masters to show it could be done. That of course forced more delays on the project. The Albion did not want to lose control of their new supersoldiers.
24 - Jack - One Hour on Mars. I wasn't going to shoot a whole movie with a girl playing with guns, only to end it with the Good Guys marching off screen and fade to black. Yeah, I know a lot of artsy people like to do that. But even if I was experimenting with artsy techniques, I'm still a red blooded American male. I like pretty girls, shiny guns, and I love to watch a good pretend fight on the screen. So my film's climax was a really big monster slipping loose and terrorizing the locals. I got a classmate to play the part of one and she did it real good. Then it was glorified American-style violence time. You know. Lots of bullets in the air. Screaming citizens. Roaring monsters. Some engaging Bebop Jazz to lighten the mood. And of course, nobody important dies. Everybody wants a happy ending for the Good Guys, you know.
25 - Merry Christmas.
Wherever you are, I have a wish for you. Whatever your life has been like this year, I have a wish for you. Whatever you want to see when you wake up, I have a wish for you.
Today I celebrate the birth of Jesus. Today I celebrate the grace of God. Today I have a wish for you.
Glory to God. Peace on Earth. Good will towards Men.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas.
26 - Merry Christmas
Santa Claus may have a tight schedule coming to town all over the place, but there are always others willing to don the outfit with some naughty or nice spirits.
Jack, Betty, and Jasmine are always happy to dress up for a party, and Jack always likes to arrive in style…
27 - Goodbye Princess Leia
Today I found out that Carrie Fisher died. 2016 has shown a lot of people dying. People who I will forever miss. Musicians and actors that I loved. So many. But today we lost one who has truly dominated my destiny in a way that none of those others have.
I only knew her from Star Wars. I knew she did other stuff, but Star Wars was where I met her. I wore out video tapes watching those movies over and over in my childhood. I memorized those movies, and I purchased every Star Wars book I could find. And then they began coming out with NEW Star Wars books. The timeline moved beyond the end of Jedi for the first time in my life and showed us what happened later. It showed us how Leia Organa Solo, her husband, and her brother continued to fight the Empire and protect the fledgling New Republic from utter destruction. I remember her raising her children as she fought for freedom in the galaxy. She was the ultimate bad ass mother, turning the galaxy on its ear through the force of her will. She kicked a returned Emperor’s ass when her brother failed. She out maneuvered enemies across the galaxy through cunning and subtlety. And she changed the destiny of a galaxy far far away by simply being there and refusing to ever surrender to the Empire or its minions.
All of this was written by people who watched Carrie Fisher play Princess Leia in those three Star Wars movies. They took the life she breathed into that role and built a galaxy-changing character with decades of experience fighting the Empire and finally driving it into the corners of the galaxy. She even served as President of the Republic, and introduced many of us to the idea that a woman could be President.
Carrie Fisher gave life to one of my generation’s greatest heroes.
A Princess. A Rebel. A Mother. A Jedi. A President.
She will be missed.
28 - Betty Picture Betty is a cybernetic intelligence born to be a fighter. With Jack, she pilots an F-12 Avenger starfighter as part of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron/Wing 112, the Cowboys. Whenever she thinks she can get away with not being in uniform, she prefers to wear a yellow sundress and sandals. It is her way of reminding herself that even if she was born to fight, The War does not define her. She looks forward to an end to The War, and hopes one day to explore the galaxy.
29 - Charles - Tis the Season. This is a time of year that we try to remind ourselves about the basic goodness of mankind. A season of taking time off from work and school. We go out of our way to spend time with family and friends. We give gifts to each other. We celebrate the coming New Year with Yule logs on the fire and Mistletoe hung in strategic places in hopes of sneaking a kiss or two from a random or not-so-random stranger. We call for Peace on Earth and Good Will towards Men. Sometimes we get it. Often we do not. But at least we try. Most of us. That gives me hope for humanity.
30 - Races of Humanity - Peloran In an effort to secure their new supersoldiers from being turned against them, the Albion built a series of behavioral laws into the Peloran genetic code. Do no harm to any Albion, or allow harm to come to an Albion if you can act to stop it. Protect your own existence at all costs, unless doing so would harm an Albion. Follow the orders of any duly appointed Albion superior, even if it violates the other laws. Many researchers have commented on their similarity to Asimov’s Laws of Robotics with interest. These laws were built into the genetic code of every Peloran after they were developed, and became the foundation of the greatest army the galaxy had ever known up to that time. They were impossible to turn against their masters, and exceptionally hard to kill. Though there was a weakness in the laws that Albion’s enemies learned to exploit.
31 - Betty Closeup Picture Betty is a cybernetic intelligence born to be a fighter. With Jack, she pilots an F-12 Avenger starfighter as part of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron/Wing 112, the Cowboys. Whenever she thinks she can get away with not being in uniform, she prefers to wear a yellow sundress and sandals. It is her way of reminding herself that even if she was born to fight, The War does not define her. She looks forward to an end to The War, and hopes one day to explore the galaxy.