Table of Contents
The NovelWay Prototype Shop
A Sci-Fi Novel by James E. D. Cline
This is still a "Work In Progress" at this writing.
Since only the first 6 chapters is first displayed, to view the later chapters, click on "December" in archives listing to the right side on the start page, and scroll down to desired chapter.
Contents, by timeline:
The story is about a "if only... had been done back then", diverging from conventional "real" history in about 1974. From then, it follows a fictional series of events involving many more "what if's."
Chapter 1, Redwood Forests Remembering
Chapter 2, Camping Aromas of Fresh Coffee
Chapter 3, Campers, Meet Forest
Chapter 4, Gas Rationing
Chapter 5, The Creative Juices Flow
Chapter 6, Pulling Rollerskates
Chapter 7, Ethanol Power
Chapter 8, Tubeways and Light Rail
Chapter 9, Licensing Technology
Chapter 10, Envisioning Rail to Space
Chapter 11, Building Up
Chapter 12, New Uses for Petrochemicals
Chapter 13, New Fields of Education
Chapter 14, First Stanford Torus in GEO
Chapter 15, Living System Study Toward Mars
Chapter 16, Crisis on First KESTS Chapter 16, Crisis on First KESTS
Chapter 17, Crisis on KESTS 2
Chapter 18, The Ark of 1984's Future
Chapter 19, Another Attack Against the KESTS
Chapter 19, Another Attack Against the KESTS
Chapter 20, From Technician's Viewpoint Enroute
NOTE: for Chapter 21 and later chapters, click on Archives "November 2004"
Chapter 21, Researching Councilman's Viewpoint Chapter 21, Researching Councilman's Viewpoint
Chapter 22, From the Attacking Pilot's Viewpoint
Chapter 22, From the Attacking Pilot's Viewpoint
Chapter 23, From the Defending Pilot's Viewpoint
Chapter 24, From the KESTS Holodyne's Viewpoint
Chapter 25, RailSkin Intervenes
In mentally flailing around, at the start of the nanowriter's 30-day novel's creation, for a subject, a story line, I recalled one I had begun long ago, that never got finished, or even much of a start, when back in 1985 I wrote the beginnings of a ground transportation story.
It was in conjunction with getting up steam to get a real project going, to create a ground transportation system that would have better convenience and time efficiacy than that of the personal automobile, and have far better transportation energy efficiency.
I'd been mulling over the idea since the oil shortage gas lines of the early 1970's (which gave me much time and reason to think about such a thing, sitting there in the worrisome gas lines) and among the efforts to gain public interest, in 1985 I had again written up the concept's basics and this time sent it in as unsolicited input to a major auto research corporation, where I had some hope of finding a job; I found the address in newspaper's help wanted section.
No reply was received except when returning home to my apartment one day a couple weeks later, to find that everything I had written on the concept, including my carbon copy of that letter, had been carefully removed from my possession ... except for the beginnings of that story still in the memory of my Adam computer's records, its tree-story start probably put the professional burglar off-track for a moment.
The implications were that it would now be a waste of my time to attempt to get such a project going, with my records of precedence gone, maybe even already some corporate engineer was entering the idea into legal patent record notebook as if theirs, to then be locked away from public view. Taught me a lesson, I think...? Even though the same company had built the car that was my good buddy during High School, going to an auto company for help creating a "competitive" transporation idea (thinking they were responsible for transportation systems in the country), me being an unknown in the field, was asking for ripoff by those narrow-visioned ones addicted to "winning" by ruining the "competition." Even if they were the only ones who were capable of creating the new transportation system, one clearly to be needed in a finite energy existence.
Being naive frees mental capacity to be creative technologically, but leaves one unprotected from those who have vested interests they consider rival.
And so the public (including myself) has been denied the technological head start for a better time-and-energy-efficient transportation system, due to some greedy clever wealthy businessmens' narrow vision. This was neither the first nor the last time Americans would lose out, prevented from utilizing potentially very helpful ideas produced by my unusual technological creative nature, since I'm no entrepeneur. (As for selling my ideas to corporations who can make their resulting products available to the public, I probably could not sell a tall cool glass of water for a dime to a powerful rich man dying of thirst in the hot desert, my sales skill is so poor.)
So now may be a good time to begin that kind of story anew; the original one not being "politically correct" nowadays. I have had a lot more time to think about the need for much better general commute transportation in these past 30 years. The automobile has been my companioning friend all my life; I have seen it change greatly in that time. Nowadays the city bus and light rail systems enable more economical passage around the city; yet, the convenience of one's home-garaged transportation is part of my life and that of others around me.
The transportation concept that I had conceptually designed eventually went by the title of "PullBand Commute", (an earlier title of TowCable Commute not wise as gave one mental images of one's car being towed out of some no parking zone, complete with ticket....) since the privately owned and home-garaged lightweight minimal-engined vehicles would be pulled around by inductive dragging against speedy circulating bands that run along the vehicle passageways. Originally the concept went from a scenario of worsening of the early 1970's gas lines to no gas available except for trucks and busses, initially a desperation system to get the cities up and going within a few weeks, then the system developing into more refined systems, then surpassing the current automobile-based system by far. Concept has roots in the cable car systems such as still in operation in San Francisco (mostly for tourists). However, uses currently available high tech mechanisms, and for freeways and intecity paths, would use air bearing sliding within tubeways, could be 300 mph pulled sliding on air along such environmentally protected stretches. Autopiloting for routine commutes in suburbs and cities is implied; and for offices in newly designed buildings, the people could park their vehicles up the side of the building and walk into their office directly, for examples.
Time to invite nature to help technologically marry the car to the bus and train and freighter and airplane and ... dare I seemingly-even-more-crazily say... also eventually to rail riding spacecraft up to businesses in rotating cities in high Earth orbit? Eventually not just the daily commute to work, or distant city or country, but also out of the home's garage and all the way up to a space habitat in high orbit near the Earth? So a story of that courtship and marriage ... and technological family resulting... begins in an unusual way: under a great Redwood tree.
No doubt this story won't entirely be "politically correct" either; but at least it starts from a today.
by Jim Cline 2004 10 27 / 20041116
Revision, 20041110 JEDCline: The storyline has formed into one that has a past like the one taught in our history books, up to about 1973. From 1973, I went into the "what if they had listened to me (and my technological ideas worked, as they have so often)" starting with the ground commute system now called "Pullband Commute" roughed out in about 1974 and then mentally developed to about the present level in about 1985; "Mooncable" in 1971-72, "Centristation" 1988 (later published as "Wet Launch of Prefab Habitat Modules" in 1995), "Microelevator" 1988, which has evolved into "KESTS to GEO". Some older Ideas I had even earlier are being tossed in casually, as I write, some of which have been used, even though rejected by my corporate employers's management when I attempted to raise their attention way back then (example: when offshore oil spills were considered corporate game for ways to deal with them via mechanical means, I proposed the use of oil-eating microorganisms such as had been found in aircraft fuel tanks in WWII: corporates ignored me, 1968-69 era. I have recently heard that the oil-eating micro-organism technique has been successfully used on oil spills; thusly vindicating another of my ideas.)
Chapter 1: Redwood Forests Remembering
The great redwood forests had memory of their past eons of greatness, and the mind of their collective beingness came to a decision: it is time to have the change. Their aura was so expansive that it had felt the entire planet's saga, now written into their essence.
And that aura felt how now the carbon-stored sunshine energy, so patiently and laboriously stashed away by countless plant beings ages ago, so as to enable an oxygen-based animal life to exist, was being poured back into the atmosphere faster than sea and land photosynthesis beings can re-absorb it. What was causing this? They felt deeper into it, seeking.
It was these new two-legged scrapy beings with their machines, who, like a mosquito on a bird's back, stuck a probe deep into the earth's mantle and drew up the fluid petrochemicals, then burned them back into the atmosphere, heedlessly. It was not for the carbon to build their clever machines out of; no, it was to pull out the stored past energy of the sun that was consumed to stash the carbon away from the atmosphere, so long ago, that life might wonderfully expand and prosper, based on oxidation power.
So the great redwood beings coalesced into their planetwide aura, a new pattern of thought channels for those scrappy knowledge-gathering beings and their machines so clever. Like the river channels, new thoughts would flow as time went on, engraving new patterns for their civilization which now squatted so heavily on the world of nature's vast life flow.
The misty morning fresh dawn cooly sifted down through the great redwood tree, its top so high the Pacific Ocean was in view, multitubular cluster strong long trunk, down to where its roots fingered along in the soil below it, tasting the moist chemistry for the building pieces for today's construction. The great tree sipped of the earth's dainty water and aired her limbs in a fresh breeze, then focused on the interesting pair of beings who had chosen to nestle between her roots and great branches overnight. The couple were snuggled peacefully in each others' arms, knowing in their dreams of the warmly loving dance of life, down there in their tent so tiny, a cold campfire nearby, and a metal car machine. The redwood tree resonated with that peaceful togetherness intertwined in love so quietly gentle resting, resonated like she had always resonated with all her spread family across the great land across time in oneness, spreading bole to bole, bonded family united in auric oneness knowing of beingness so detailed. She spread her part of the forest aura around to tuck in the loving couple a bit more, and waited with the patience of eternity for new things to happen. Yet this pair of cuddly beings, in the tent sandwiched between her awning branches and anchoring root field, were of the kind that had brought forth the metal machines that crawled around releasing the CO2's carbon, so as to utilize the energy of the sun that so long before had been stored so as to lock the excess carbon away from the air. And the metal machine they had brought, was it not one of them? Yes. So the redwood tree gently laid upon the dreamy couple, a holographic piece of the new auric pattern which the great forest had formed. The new auric pattern so softly and gently merged with that of the two sleeping beings, now one with them.
Chapter 2: Camping Aromas of Fresh Coffee
Aromas of fresh coffee and fried pancakes which Marsha was cooking on re-kindled campfire, wafted in along with cool breeze through the open tent flap, to awaken John to the day. What he been dreaming? Something about the car and air and trees, what was it? Like they were all dancing together with the people a new song; strange dream.
Marsha, too, admired the aroma and flavor of the fresh coffee, and as her eyes drank in the wondrous foliage of the forest around them, and especially the curiously interesting redwood tree over their head, its branches like a mother hen over her brood of chicks, protecting and comforting in instinctual responsibility.
Marsha sipped coffee more, noticing John was stirring in the tent. What was it about these nights with him, how the next day her usual no-nonsense, get it done right, avoid the unconventional, attitude changed to add a curiosity of "what would happen if...." John was certainly low-maintenance, all she had to do was be there for him; he seemed totally addicted to her. Yet a man of dreams was he, always off in the future, could hardly take care of himself in the real tough world. Why did he let people walk all over him, make him such a fool? No dummy, him. It was times like this morning that she actually considered taking the position at her Dad's prototype shop, be lead engineer in the R & D section that normally scared her with its demands to create things college never taught her to do. Intimacy with John somehow opened up some new part of herself so that the unconventional became an interesting adventure to make happen, there would be a way, and it would be fun. Instead of the usual irritation at the very thought of having to do something not by the book, what are those idiots going to ask for her to make happen next. She had done well in college, would go back for her masters degree in a few years; she knew every engineering principle that school could teach, and applied it well at her job, no question.
John wafted out of the tent along the path of the coffee aroma, receiving a cup of brew from her. These times with her brought a joy of belief that dreams will come true, the world is here to make them happen, when she was around him. And there was a new magic in the air here somehow, more than the usual forest fine air. Life is wonderful, keenly alive, when he was with her; all would turn out OK, he knew with certainty, like now.
Chapter 3: Campers, Meet Forest
Yet, the nagging thought that tomorrow he would be back at his job at her Dad's prototype shop, wiring up one-of-a-kind gizmos per others' direction, a Nobody. On the production line he struggled to keep up with the regular techs; but in the R&D shop he imaginatively found practical solutions to make the unconventional into working reality.
And the redwood tree, something was unconventional about it, he felt. Looking intently at its bark and branches, it looked like any other one. He puzzled over it a bit more, then plunged into the stack of hotcakes Marsha handed him, complete with fried egg atop and syrup poured all over it, ah, delicious cook she was, so fine.
There were few words shared between them. Few were needed with John. That was odd, she suddenly realized; all the other men - and she had known a lot of men - were a steady stream of talk of how great he was, how great she was, telling her what to do. But this man, it was OK just to be around him while they got things done. "More pancakes please" her mind filled in as he silently handed her the emptied plate and headed out to bring more wood for the fire. Yes, she smiled to herself, this one was very special to be around, indeed. And this forest place was too, here and now with John; she knew now that wonders were hers to make happen.
Chapter 4: Gas Rationing
John and Marsha shared a few moments over coffee during breaktime at her Dad’s shop, Novel Way Prototypes, Inc; commenting that here it was 1974 and no indication of petroleum wells going dry yet, but they were already having to wait in long gas lines at the gas station, gas being rationed due to oil blockades overseas. Would it never end, already three months and the international conflicts were increasing. People could do so much more if they would cooperate fully instead of wasting time and resources in conflict. Already some of their coworkers could come in to work only a couple of days per week, ration of gas not enough for more commutes than that, and the busses were jammed, could not take more people. There was less work to do, too, the whole economy shutting down as increasing numbers of employees couldn’t get to work to do jobs, and electrical power being shut down to the city and homes 25% of each 24 hours, to conserve fuel energy. It wasn’t a time to start a family either, so they chose to delay their formal wedding. Rumors were that if the trend continued, no gasoline would be available for use in one’s car, leaving only fuel for buses and delivery trucks.
Chapter 5: The Creative Juices Flow
They began to bicycle to work from her place, and then they could comfort each other weeknights as well as weekends. And their creative juices flowed more and more. “Let’s brainstorm about how the problem can be solved”; no one was apparently preparing for shutdown of the personal automobile use, so they might as well have a go at, if only for creative fun.
Two weeks later, Marsha went to her Dad with a plan in hand, that she and John had produced during their nightly snuggles and daily long walks together, stopping at benches to sketch out quick drawings or to write details of a more complex idea. Paid projects had come to an end at NovelWay Prototypes, so to keep people busy for part time work there, he agreed to prepare a technology to get Greater Los Angeles back to work ASAP after total stoppage of use of gasoline in privately owned cars. He had three trucks which would still have some fuel alloted, being a business. One was converted for use as a bus for the employee’s commute to work; one was converted to deliver food and essentials to homes nearby; and the third was for delivery and installation of a demonstration transportation system’s first phase of usable development. Marsha’s Dad, Gerardo, felt it was his duty to prepare.
Chapter 6: Pulling Rollerskaters
6: Pulling Rollerskaters
John and Gerardo finished assembling the prototype system past the front of his house in San Fernando Valley, a cable installed along pullys and idler wheels, one cable around each nearby residential block, and kept moving by an engine pulled out of one of the cars abandoned where they had finally run out of gas in the street, half a year ago. The pull-along scooters with seats and carrying case were not yet ready for it, getting parts was very slow; so this test was to be done by using roller skates, heavy gloves and a pair of long grabber poles held by hand.
Several very skeptical members of the City Council were there to watch. The four converted automobileengines were started up, their throttles set for constant speed despite varying load, reminiscent of the original Watts steam engine governor mechanism.
Marsha insisted on being the demonstrator, she would not miss the chance for anything, since the manufacturing engineering of this system had been her baby; besides, her cute physique would perhaps distract attention from the inevitable glitches happening in any prototype test.
She stepped out of the house, with her roller skates already on, skated down to the cable which was now continuousy running past along the street in front of the houses on the block. She skated under the cable, turned to face the direction the cable was moving, reached up with one of the pair of yard-long grasping sticks and slowly increased the grasping pressure on the cable with it, the cable accelerating her up to its speed, and down the street she went rolling along on her skates effortlessly, pulled by the cable.
A couple of minutes later she re-appeared, having gone all the way around the block; now approached the street intersection corner shared with the other three neighborning block-encircling cables. Just as the cable was to bend around the corner pulley, she let go with the grasping stick, coasted across the street intersection, and with a bit of unpracticed effort she managed to re-attach the grasping stick to the next block’s cable, proceeding on down the street, intersection passed.
Gerardo explained that this could be expanded block by block all the way to downtown Los Angeles and beyond, a way to start getting at least the somewhat more atheletic people back to work. And the roller skates soon would be supplemented by the pull-along scooters with seat and carrying case, for use by most of the rest of the commuters. And he continued to explain that as the workforce began to ramp up the available goods, a lightweight streamlined home-garaged type vehicle would replace the scooters, complete with automatic graspers and an automatic routing grasper interchange system coordinated to avoid collisions between vehicles crossing intersections. And that the commute system would be able to continue to evolve to far beyond that.
Marsha re-appeared coming down the far end of one of the blocks, came to a stop in her cute ice skater’s outfit in front of the staring City Council members, and said to them “Well, is this better than what you have got now?”