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Neal Stephenson’s Page | Harper-Collins

 

As with all my book pages, this is intended as, well, primarily as memory aid for me (I mean, just where the hell do books go after they've been read?) but if you can dig it, dig in. My recommendation would be not to read ahead in these notes beyond where you’ve read in the book, spoilers and such. (I’m sure I’ve got some stuff wrong…I’ve tried to fix all errors, but if you see what you believe to be an error, email me, and if I agree I’ll correct it with a grateful mention here.)

 

Basic stuff.

        - Red fractions in brackets indicate page-count milestones ([1/3] means you’re 1/3 the way through, etc.)

        - Meta stuff—my nerdly comments, trivia, etc.—is in brackets and often italicized. You’ll get a feel.

        - Bullets indicate a section that starts with a quadruple space. It weird at first but makes more sense later, particularly in Part Three, when Stephenson abandons named chapters entirely.

 


PART ONE

3    The Age of the One Moon

        Mysterious agent cracks Luna into 7 fragments [as stated in one of the coolest first-sentences you’ll find in any novel!]

5    Humans are passive patients, and would be for the foreseeable future.

 

6   The Seven Sisters

        Rufus MacQuarie telegraphs ISS

7    Amalthea; Dinah MacQuarie, on ISS (dubbed Izzy), tests geologic robots; Dad messages “Look at the moon”

12 • Doc Dubois: genial science popularizer [Once I had the thought that Dubois had been inspired by Neil Degrasse Tyson, I simply could NOT see Doob with any other face!]

14 • Ivy & Dinah actually get along well, thanks; Primordial Black Hole hypothesis.

19 • Ivy & Dinah’s Q-codes

22 • Dubois names the Seven Sisters, falls in love with Amelia; Scoop crashes into Kidney Bean; Doc: “Who cares how this happened? We need to focus on what WILL happen.”

 

27   Scouts

        Doob briefs the president: “The moon chunks will ultimately become a ring system;” White Sky to Hard Rain...for 50 to 100 centuries.

31 • We have 2 years to make an Ark. A swarmable Cloud Ark that can, as needed, attach to and detach from Izzy/Amalthea; In the Banana, the president briefs Izzy’s crew (who are named and briefly described); Dinah: “you’re going to need to prep asteroids for human habitation...watch my back.”

39 • Soyuz arrives with four Russians and a Brit, in a capsule whose remaining space is stuffed with zillions of sundries (“vitamins”)

44 • Radiation shielding strategy (Earth & Amalthea are great shields;) geo-robots dig into a crater on Amalthea; Rhys, a creative engineer, banters with Dinah about her bots, tensegrity & biomimetics.

50 • President JBF bio; CRATER LAKE SUMMIT, world leaders announce to their countries simultaneously from Crater Lake lodge; Bulinsky on Flora & Faunal genetic preservation; Mbangwa on cultural preservation; Crouch on Homo sapiens sapiens preservation (A great casting of lots; a boy & a girl from each jurisdiction); Doob & Amelia at Thanksgiving; No WAY that many males will be going, for several reasons; Amelia will leave to be with family, not stay there with Doob.

65 • Dinah chats with Dad/Rufus; Rhys gifts Dinah with a big banana-condensation ice lens; Dinah’s boss at Arjuna (Sean) “Forget rock, now you work on ice;” Testing rock robots on ice; Dinah gets flirty with Rhys

72 • Integrated Truss Assembly; SCOUTS; LUKS; HUTS & Vestibyuls; Initial scout testing – fatalities; Space morticianry; Tekla; Dinah observes Tekla who’s in a Luk; Chocolate for Tekla; “No email;”

90 • Next Banana mtg.; Ulrika Ek; Kremlinology; Fyodor irked, boss of suits.

93 • Meeting continues, Dinah resolves to at least keep rock robot research on back burner; Tekla behaving strangely in her OVL (Orlan suit/Veistbyul/Luk) Can’t close back door of suit, so can’t detach, so locked in OVL receiving no “mail” (supplies); Dinah figures it out: Scouts Die; She glares at Fyodor so he knows she knows; “I got this.”

97 • Tekla gets the news, they’re coming; Rhys’s orbiting neck chain, and his Royal Society ancestors who studied them (Kucharski’s bullwhip-ish “Kickstelle”); Lassoing Tekla’s LUK up against Dinah’s airlock; Tekla progressively pierces her plastic pod’s protection; Bloody and wounded, but safely on Izzy; Significant air loss, and annoyed superiors in Houston who, let’s face it, won’t be irritated for too much longer.

 

109 Pioneers & Prospectors

        • Post-coital, Dinah shows Rhys vid from Arjuna ice Nats tests.

112 DAY 56. Hub 2 – human Habitrails; First wave of Pioneers: 6 arrivals on 6 new docks, Izzy’s population doubles; Larz; Slicing Amalthea for radiation shield plating; “Why ice?” At Arjuna, some physics is nuclear, solar is way too inadequate; RTGs • Larz’s Crypto messages from Arjnuna – Probst has invited himself up.

119 DAY 68. Probst upon arrival: “This is all bullshit”; Tube suit, no gloves; Tekla welcomes Sean, who discovers some manners.

124 • “It’s bullshit because it won’t last forever, which is the lullaby you’re telling the ground-based folks. Cloud Ark will quickly exhaust all propellant, it’s really no better than the Earth. You need water, and I’ve ID’d some comet cores. Gimme all your robots.”

128 • Greg’s Skeleton.

129  DAY 73. Doc Dubois almost went into space 10 years ago, as a rich space tourist’s understudy; Wife filed for divorce; Visits son Henry at college in Seattle, arriving just before the moving truck; Helps Henry & housemates pack & move; Heading east on I-90, Dubois sees a flash...not lightning, a bolide; Traffic suddenly stops; A large 18-wheeler jackknifed to avoid meteorite-distracted drivers; On to Moses Lake & its 2.6 mile runway; “New Baikonur:” having a rocket assembly and launch pad close to Seattle, huge runway, river, interstate.

141  DAY 80. Luisa Soter, new arrival, brushes up by watching the YouTube clip of Prowse & Dubois at Moses Lake; Russians vs. “Disruptive” Arjunas; Sean’s heading to a different orbit, via the Sun-Earth L1 gateway.

151  DAY 90. “105;” Many Arjuna launches from many pads, even Canaveral & Vandenberg; An unusual travelling companion aft; NASA & Arjuna get testy; Sean & Larz headed for Ymir on Day 82; Barth shows Dinah a photo (she knows but can’t reveal); Ymir goes silent; Heliocentric insertion; Day 144, 20%; Nine habitrail casualties; Izzy has been so greatly expanded by Scouts & Pioneers, it’s a 3D maze now; Day 160, Ivy confides in Dinah, appearing to pass some sort of torch…

 

163 Consolidation

        • Adding so much more mass to Izzy means more orbital decay and more reboosts; Consolidating Izzy, making Habitrails less floppy; RTGs are better than solar panels; Gutter-Downspout truss reinforcement.

169  DAY 260. Pres: “Dubois, you’re going; “But I don’t wanna!” I just pardoned you, now get up there and convince everyone how awesome Cloud Ark will be! (Whether you believe it or not.); Imagines Probst on his way to Ymir; “Only if I can take my embryo.” “Done.”

175  DAY 287. Dark humor from both Arkers and Grounders (who are not convinced Hard Rain is unsurvivable;) Dinah has neglected her T2 gravity time; Message Shaping.

 

181 Casting of Lots

        Two numbers (bolide fragmentation rate, & days remaining); Fragmentation report; Doob avoids looking up at lunar remnants; Peach Pit prevails; What is Cloud Ark’s destination • Doob’s chipper ride to Bhutan; Meeting Bhutan dignitaries • The Casting of Lots isn’t exactly random, turns out; Where do seven billion souls go? Too steep, let’s walk/climb; Climbing to Tiger’s Nest monastery, meeting the young Arkers, lots of crying;

197  DAY 306. Arklet structure, front doors, boiler rooms; First bolo, small talk in the Habitrails; Dinah & Ivy share an Arklet; Dinah cries spontaneously; Ivy ships Dinah & Marcus; Arklets get clear of Izzy; “We have a lock, grappling achieved;” In 1g, new arrival Marcus is thrilled, but long timers are having a rough go of it.

209  DAY 333. Doob finds a latent love of the outdoors, but Tav, flexing his newly found (and widely praised) philosopher’s muscle, plays Devil’s Advocate; Doob pops in on friends and family; [1/4] In the mountains with Amelia and Enrique, Doob shares his vision of humanity’s future.

 

216 Cloud Ark

        Day 365. Doob records a lesson in an Arklet; X, Y, Z axes, but in space you need three more numbers for velocity; Only 3 ways for objects to orbit in formation, be physically connected, use thrusters, or orbit in single file; It’s been a year since the moon disintegrated; Doob removes his “costume” space suit; Moira Crew…

222 • …will be keeping algae/plants from going extinct while curating the DNA museum.

 

PART TWO

229  DAY 700. 1276 arkies (and one dead stowaway) 172 General Population; The political math of being sent up to Izzy…and not; Objects near Izzy (nadir/zenith, left/right) will not stay by her side, only fore & aft (i.e. single file, re p. 218) can fly in orbital “formation” with Izzy; 400km Goldilocks altitude, but White Sky will still be a challenge; Arjuna had expanded—and maxed—Amalthea’s protective silhouette, now she’s enveloped in scaffolding; Heptads & Triads; Three weeks to White Sky; Izzy on GMT/zulu; Staggered sleep cycles (three shifts) saves energy, minimizes number of people awake at any moment; Doob on a treadmill, joined by Luisa who asks about Venezuela/Kourou; Doob is preoccupied by Peach Pit and its spawn; Venezuelans actually cast lots randomly and, for failing to send best/brightest, are being left behind; Venzuelan protesters are sabotaging Kourou launches; Ivy joins Doob & Moira on treadmills; Ivy says she’s been replaced by Marcus for seeming weak (rescuing Tekla, allowing Probst to board with no notification…oh, and most criminal of all, not having a Y chromosome); Yes, she’s worried about Kourou, but it means shit has begun in earnest, the beginning of the end; Ivy’s submariner BF Cal has submerged; Doob visits Markus’s T3 Tank & Farm, sees Earth news on Farm SAMs; President, sporting a Cloud Ark ribbon, describes Venezuelan governmental interference posing as protesters and freedom fighters; Houston wants Doob to be “Doc” and reassure those left behind on Earth…while pondering his message to a doomed civilization he visits Embryo storage unit, then Zarya (aka Woo-woo Chapel Pod) and even considers recording in the morgue; [Node X, SCRUM mining Colony, SCRUM is political (What *is* Cloud Ark, post White Sky?); In a bolide swarm Izzy *is* maneuverable, but only to a point, with enough notice slight deviations should keep her intact; Abandon Amalthea?; Arjuna constructed Amalthea’s mining dome and has been slowly hollowing out the asteroid]; Doob drops in on Dinah just as Marcus is leaving (their relationship is not news, and actually kinda handy, politically) so Doob briefs him on Venezuela.

258 • Space Troll has been transmitting clumsy morse on Rufus & Dinah’s frequency; Rufus is going subterranean in Alaska mountains; Dinah acknowledges the Troll, and contacts Rufus just as Doob knocks on her door; She thinks Probst is the Space Troll.

264 • Probst succeeded, Ymir is headed straight for L1.

266 • “It’s been two years since anyone heard from them, radio failure?”; Dinah matches the MAC address of her old robots to the Troll; “All Earth sees everything he says, he’d HAVE to encrypt any communication;” Sean sends Dinah to his hidden code book; Receiving and decoding Probst’s 1st message (he lost several people, hovering at L1?); Doob retires; Here’s where Dinah boinking Markus gets interesting, Sean will want to make a deal; From Earth L1 is essentially same dir. as Sun, so when Izzy is in daylight, she has a comm window with Sean that’s 45 min open, 45 min closed; Dinah sends Sean a TBC message; Ivy pops in to take a look down at NE South America… “Cal’s sub surfaced, Kourou launches will resume…” They see LOTS of shit happening down at Kourou…and a nuke detonates off Venezuela’s coast. “Venezuela’s navy had mobilized, and under orders from JBF, Cal just immobilized it;” Dinah tells Ivy about contacting Sean; Kourou launches immediately resume.

274 • Moira finds morning coffee in the Farm and ponders…..her dreams of being a Space Barista; ...Tekla’s undeniable, beguiling hotness and the many facets of her Ark-bound & earth-bound reputations; Relaxing morning coffee is now crowded as people watch news reports of the eastern Caribbean battle; Tekla discusses this news with Moira (who is quite preoccupied) and then Markus (Moira sees they have quite a rapport); Moira despairs of her ongoing celibacy; Arkers/Arkies; Moira receives new sperm/egg/embryo donations from Philippines, catalogs & adds them into the Human Genetic Archive (HGA) shows Dr Andrada around [1/3] and addresses his concerns; Sprice & Sprew!

288 • Martial Arts in zero gee is a new frontier (training what appears to be a nascent law enforcement unit)

290 • Doob’s vid calls to his family have gone cold (running out of things to say); Ponders accuracy of White Sky predictions, then discusses this sensitivity analysis with Dinah (“it’s teetering…but we don’t know what will ultimately set it off,” “Sean does…Eight Ball is inbound.”)

294 • Sal Guodian, The Only Lawyer In Space; Cloud Ark Constitution; Markus asks about authority & power, “Let’s war-game it, say someone rapes someone where we have no cameras… “ “Do we even have rape kits?” “Seriously, if I go to arrest the rapist, what’s to keep him and his friends from simply resisting? Is a police force discussed in CAC?” “Yeah but the more you need force, the less power you have, if you think about it;” (Markus ignores Doob’s knock) “It will be PSAPS (period of simplified admin procedures and structures, aka martial law) for at least a couple years…and you better start thinking this way because shit like this will be happening soon;” Markus lets Doob in, Doob has info from Probst (JBF did not like Dinah talking to Sean, Markus wonders if JBF has spies on Izzy; Markus formally declares PSAPS and wheels start to turn, tells Steve Lake to change all of Izzy’s passwords. “I can change all the ones I know,” “We must then be vigilant about the ones you don’t.”

 

303 White Sky

        “You nailed the name White Sky,” “Sometimes being right is cold comfort;” BFR skyrockets after 8-Ball arrives; Once Doob said goodbye to folks on the ground, he avoided speaking to them again; Received a text from Henry at Moses Lake (preparing for the Surge—the last gasp of rocket launches at onset of White Sky) and Markus “Stay focused up here, they’re all dead Doob;” …and Marcus has bodyguards.

 

309 Hard Rain

        …starts with the instantaneous erasure of two Russian cities [combined pop. ≈ 2 mil] between the Black & Caspian Seas; Many headed to high latitudes, Rufus and clan down in their mines; Ivy’s mom auto-euthanizes; Adieu Notre Dame; Ivy texts Cal “I release you;” On Izzy, “streaker alert” of incoming bolide, Izzy must react; Ship thinking vs. Cloud thinking (each arklet must calculate all proximity threats); Params & Parambulator; App display’s response to Izzy’s course change…some red dots not correcting; Ivy & Cal trade tears and goodbyes (Cal had dived to avoid an enormous tsunami); POTUS has gone dark; Markus orders habitrails be kept clear; People in a pod scream as earth burns below; Luisa arrives to help, Markus summons Ivy; Moira shares King’s College music with Ivy as she passes, enroute to Markus; Markus tells Ivy the red dots (out of control vessels, whether manned or unmanned) are a dangerous distraction he unfortunately doesn’t have time for, asks Ivy to handle it. “We’ll scuttle them with frozen corpses if we have to;” Luisa tells of the wailing in the pod, advises that he make an announcement soon; Eastern seaboard of the US eats a 100’ tsunami, destroying Manhattan, Norfolk (Cal’s base; his last text “no chain above me,” sent a photo—shot through his engagement ring—looking up through the hatch of his boat’s conning tower at the blazing sky); Dinah contacts Rufus, where, despite his high latitude, the paint on his truck is bubbling; Markus on the PA, “Cloud Ark Constitution is now in effect;” Flaming atmosphere sweeps from equator to poles; Dinah’s last few transmissions to Dad, the MacQuaries have 500 people underground; Markus asks everyone to grieve one second for every day since Agent day, 704; Dinah ponders her father’s last instructions, “Do the right thing;” Ivy interrupts “We have a seriously disruptive arklet.”

327 • An x-37, remnant of the Space Shuttle program; Ivy, Dinah, and now Tekla work with a tricked out Flivver; Clear of Izzy, flivver heads for the wayward X-37; It’s JBF! …and Starling; Dinah enters canister to save JBF, Bolide pierces canister and kills Starling.

336 • Conic sections and diversity of orbits; Dinah has trained for a decompression, plugs holes, pressure returns; Ivy & Dinah agree to deorbit the canister/coffin, JBF’s protests are met with a downright surgical tongue lashing from Ivy; Flynks; They undock and attach a lamprey to the X-37, a half-km long wire with a light electrical current, which interacting with Earth’s magnetic field induces just enough force to get the X-37 clear and decelerated slightly; Parambulator app still shows LOTS of reds…controlled collision elsewhere in the cloud; As Ivy & Dinah approach Izzy, something’s not right; the controlled collision was a near miss that stripped thermal sheathing off the HGA, causing them to wonder about Moira’s success with genetic dispersal.

 

349 Ymir

        At a sort of inquest, Julia told her story in exhaustive detail, and is brusquely thanked for her time; She has a friend waiting right outside the door; The minor collision was caused when a close-passing arklet’s light thrust blew a weakened thermal blanket (designed for sunshine, not Hard Rain) loose; 97% of the HGA samples were lost; Dinah half exasperatedly proves why Moira is essentially faultless; Markus & Moira break the news to Doob…but the HGA was only ever for appearances: by the time we advance to where we can use the HGA for human genetic heterozygosity, we will certainly have advanced to where we wouldn’t need the HGA for that; T3 is barely within Amalthea’s shield cone; Three options – “Dump & Run” (cut Amalthea loose, climb to higher safer orbit), “Pure Swarm” (distribute EVERYTHING in arklets, and the cloud climbs to safer orbit), Ymir is coming in high, hot & heavy (Probst will deliver the ice!) 3rd option, “The Big Ride” (take Sean’s iceberg Ymir as an essentially limitless energy source, jack the whole current Ark with Amalthea to lunar orbit); “Ymir is enroute, as per Sean’s final transmission,” (his health had been iffy for a long time;) Markus will transfer command to Ivy, take Dinah and some others and rendezvous with Ymir to guide it to Izzy. “Doob you figure out how we do it.”

364 • Delta Vee; Marcus’s retrieval team, in a MIV christened New Caird; Mass Ratio (rocket’s mass at launch over mass at end); LOX & LH2 & H2O.

371 • “Didn’t expect surface of Ymir to be black [radiation darkened? –smr-]; 2 years in space has not been kind to Vyacheslav; New Caird is going to get constantly dosed with radiation, no avoiding it; High G burn (a couple of them pass out?) It’s a crazy plan and could very well be suicidal AND fail; Probst saw early on exactly what needed to be done and didn’t want to risk futzing about with politics, acting quickly and decisively. Maybe Markus choosing to lead New Caird/Ymir mission was an acknowledgment and continuation of that responsibility…; Sean had selected a crystalline ice shard; With so many robots needed to a) mine ice for propulsion, b) maintain the shape of the thrust nozzle, and c) remain on the shard’s surface to simply keep the thing in one piece, Ymir is a very non-traditional spaceship indeed; Stages/Levels of radiation sickness (% of crew vomiting); New Caird approaches Ymir & makes a close pass; Gammas, Betas & Alphas; Dinah asks about radiation, Jiro hedges…; Dock is buried; Bots ping Dinah; Bots on Ymir’s surface grab hold of New Caird; Jiro contacts Ymir’s reactor; Vycheslav exits & exposes the buried docking port; (All on New Caird are rendered temporarily unconscious when Ymir’s hatch is opened?)

389 • Arklet orientations (“Tunnel” vs “Silo”); Jiro enters “top” floor of Ymir’s command module; finds Probst’s corpse in a bag; Radiation increases as he descends; Hatch in floor of bottom story leads to 100m tunnel down to reactor; At end of tunnel near reactor Jiro finds two bodies.

393 • An unappetizing post-mortem; Fuel fleas; In Ymir’s environment Dinah finds a certain charm; Next morning Jiro tells the mission, as he was able to piece it together; Natural water was an impure moderator – ruptured rod à radioactive gas sent out the nozzle cone à some formed snowflakes and otherwise crystallized on ship around nozzle à skittering surface bots, when handled by gloved crew, contaminated gloves.

399 • …but this reactor engine worked; Shard rotation, not so simple; …and earth’s now-heated atmosphere will expand and rise to meet Izzy…will Ymir sink or skip?

403 • Maimed by terrorists as a youth, Camila was sent up by Holland; 7 arklets ≈ 30 people; DAILY LIFE IN A HEPTAD, nationalities, culture regions; JBF: “Why only clusters of 7?” Spencer drops by…because…Julia complained about a noise (screwing with procedures, already bending her environment to her will) chats with Zeke Peterson, who isn’t feeling her manipulative personality as she campaigns against Markus.

411 • Ymir’s perigee is very hard—if not impossible—to predict…Markus just eyeballs it; Vyacheslav will man New Caird, Dinah is busy with robots, which are hollowing out Ymir while leaving it structurally supported within.

417 • Doob ponders arkies vs GPoppers; Skypes Julia, during which call she continues her campaigning and political maneuvering…which, it takes a bit, but Doob spots her game, asking how many others she’s probed for info; He calls her on her BS and like any good gaslighter plays the victim: “Whoa, hey, stuck a nerve?” Luisa hints that Julia is simply molding opinion as necessary—it’s simply her nature to seek power.

424 • Approaching perigee, Ymir’s speed increases; For the perigee deceleration burn, there’s no starting gun, no ceremony, things just start happening, people man their stations; [1/2] Reactor comes online initiating the burn; Atmospheric buffeting; Problems, jammed augers, over-rotated, running out of ice; MECO (main engine cut-off), and Ymir’s tumbling amid other problems. But the folks on Izzy saw the whole show and are cheering.

431 • Julia meets with Martians; they War-Game a Mars mission; A year on Mars before we’d run out of provisions; Julia can totally sell it to the Arkies.

435 • Ivy meets with her defacto cabinet “So, we don’t even know who’s in Julia’s heptad?” They note that Julia comes & goes, Spencer’s switching systems off; Zeke appears and tells some of what Julia’s up to; She’s angling, and the only answer to politics is more politics.

438 • Julia discusses commandeering & bundling a heptad and a triad for the Mars mission.

440 • Ivy notes how Julia craves attention, just like Ivy’s grandmother did when Ivy was young; Ivy sends Tekla to check on Julia’s heptad, and just observe; “What if she tries to recruit me?” “Nothing yet,”

443 • On first perigee burn Ymir didn’t lose enough velocity, but still lost a lot; Attitude thrusters not strong enough (“no control authority); Markus undocks New Caird from Ymir;  Dinah deals with bots, Markus and Vycheslav tend to the thrusters; Vycheslav goes EVA; Markus “plants” (ie crashes) New Caird’s nose into Ymir’s structure…but Ymir collapses a bit too much, trapping Markus, who orders them to execute the apogee burn, then signs off in the midst of a coughing fit; Dinah realizes Markus’s suicide mission and is temporarily paralyzed; Jiro pulls her focus; New Caird fell off of Ymir...

453 • Tavistock blogs about the New Caird incident; Julia sows dissent by lying about New Caird; Tekla sets her straight; Later Tekla offers intel about Zeke…

459 • …just as Spencer’s intel about Tekla predicted.

460 • The perigee burn—with the ship moving nozzle first—coated Ymir with radioactive rime, and Vycheslav, who was EVA, now needs to be quarantined; Dinah FINALLY gets to rest…suggests, in the absence of working attitude thrusters, that they scarf the rocket’s nozzle.

465 • Bolide scan; Cloud Ark is on a default-go for course corrections; Ivy notes Tav’s interview with Ulrika…she highlighted Swarm Theory, and now Tav is pushing for it HARD;  Ivy tells how Julia is hoarding critical supplies, we’ve ID’s the worst offenders.

469 • Julia reacts to Spencer’s intel about Ivy coming after hoarders; “Mars mission is a go;” To cover Red Rover’s launch, Spencer will fake a streaker alert.

473 • Dinah dreams of Mars; Izzy rendezvous will happen but it will take a lot longer; Several successful burns; Jiro preps Dinah on engine operation…because he’ll be finishing his tour of duty down in the boiler room.

476 • Ivy’s police detail arrive at a now-empty storage arklet; Tekla smells a rat, and right then a Streaker Alert sounds, “Remarkable coincidence,” she says.

478 • Ivy must tend to the Alert, but delegated it to Steve Lake; Lots about this alert was unusual, bolide approached slowly, Parambulator chaotic readings; Lake says “Looks like two bolides, from two origins…this looks forged.”

480 • Julia: “Let’s move!” Red Rover mission prepares to depart with 24 people; 4 shipyard workers kidnapped; Martians attempt to leave, but shit gets fucked up; Tekla goes after Julia, who shoots….but the recoils is to strong….and an entire wall caves in on them in a massive decompression. [Fake alert was at same time a real and large bolide arrived…]

485 • Jiro dies slowly in the boiler room, as planned; Through her telescope Dinah sees all hell breaking loose on Izzy; Bodies drifting away, off structure; (Vycheslav died the day before, from radiation); Mining Colony signals Dinah (“Ignore stray arklets”) Dinah reads Julia’s public communique; “Terrible tragedy, I was at shipyard sending off Red Hope. This disaster highlights the danger the AC is in since Izzy can’t maneuver out of harm’s way. Any arklet can leave, you know. It’s not safe to remain as we have seen. Join me in high orbit; “Ivy responded, but not fast enough to keep a TON of arklets from defecting with Julia; Flivvers come out to escort Ymir in; Dinah JETTISON’s Ymir’s reactor engine.

493 • Dinah is welcomed back aboard Izzy; In a Banana meeting, Ivy shares the numbers: 1552 at start of Hard Rain; 24 onboard Red Hope; 211 killed onboard Izzy today, leaving 113 alive there; Approx 210 arklets took off with Red Hope (incl. the attached triad & heptad); 70 arklets remained with Izzy, housing 300, along with the 11 empty spares; About 800 people left with Julia; 400 stayed with Izzy; Doob: “We do have enough engines for the Big Ride;” Camila feels tremendously betrayed by Julia.

 

499 Endurance

        Izzy gets a new coat of ice; Christened Endurance (After another ship famously trapped in ice!) Very slow altitude gain each orbit, but they burn fuel and weigh less so progress becomes exponential…

503 • …but it still took three years; Rare contact with Swarm now, to trade goods; Men are expendable, women are not; Coronal Mass Ejection…in three years there were 10 more CMEs.

509 • Only 28 remain alive on Endurance; Doob notes they’re approaching lunar orbit, Cleft altitude; Endurance needs to join the moon’s orbital plane, but then, that’s where the rocks are; Looking for a circular orbit; Doob has cancer; Swarm pings Endurance; (Swarm has suffered a political split, a war of words; Has lots of arklets, not so many people left; Of the 800 that left with Julia, eleven remain alive (agriculture crashed, they’re eating the dead;)

521 • Luisa: “Yes, cannibalism is ghastly but we’ve all considered it. Really this news dashes our hopes;” But we will treat them with compassion and allow them onboard Endurance.

522 • Ivy & Dinah commune in the Kupol; Status report on the condition of Earth’s surface (Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, etc.); Ivy & Dinah continue existential fretting.

525 • Since Endurance has slowed to achieve circular orbit, rocks will overtake them from behind now; The need to release Amalthea, lighten their mass to make the dash for the Cleft.

528 • 48 hours til final burn to head to Cleft, but another CME accelerates their time frame.

530 • Endurance rendezvous with Swarm…starts with a light crash…Aida’s heptad came in too hot AND too fully loaded; Michael Park drifted off structure. Moira’s consoling him, but he’s scanning Swarm email since they’re now on network; Moira: “Don’t let them dock, it’s a trap, they slaughtered Tav and ate him;” Ivy warns Zeke; LOTS OF CRAZY SHIT NOW HAPPENS ALL AT ONCE: Amalthea is released; CME in three minutes; JBF is aboard, but something’s wrong with her; Endurance engines burn hard; Zeke announces “We’re in combat, they shot Steve Lake with JBF’s gun;” CME arrives; Swarm locks GPop out of their own network; Tekla, Zeke and Julia arrive; Julia is a shredded mess, Zeke says “We killed four already;” Tekla wants to kill Aida, Moira tries to keep her there, Zeke tazes Tekla; Julia’s tongue has been bolted, Dinah unbolted it; “They tortured Spencer for full network access then killed him.”

540 • Final big burn, and arrival at Cleft.

542 • Ivy lands Endurance with Cleft’s…cleft!

 

543 Cleft

        Landing Endurance, rotating nose down to nadir, tail jacked up to zenith; It’s now a building; Sixteen humans remain; Doob discusses the “Endomement” of their protective crevasse on his final spacewalk; Aida’s not talking, but reading Swarm’s email backlog, JBFs detachment from reality grew, they grieved by convincing themselves that nothing had happened; After a CME killed 100, Tav blogged pensively about it and people bought in; Finally Aida and followers (Black Bolo Brigade) rebelled against JBF and her “mystics.”

548 • A week later eight healthy humans remained, all women; Council of Seven Eves (Luisa had menopaused;) LOTS OF GOOD NEWS FINALLY: Power + Provisions + Protection + Procreation = Promise; “We don’t need sperm;” Clones? Loss of heterozygosity; Several mention diseases that run in their families and thus know are in their respective genomes; Bipolar and Aggression are discussed emotionally, philosophically at some length; Traits to breed for and/or against; Things get quite testy; Dinah leaves the ship and plants a bomb on the window so the other 7 can see it. It will detonate in 10 minutes if they don’t come to an agreement; Now up for a vote and it must be unanimous: “Moving forward, as you have children, if Moira can zap ONE trait of your choice from your offspring’s genome, should she?” All say yes except Aida who now feels, by dint of her past cannibalism, she and any of her descendants will be judged by the others and theirs.

564 • Dinah never voted; “Marcus had chivalry; I’ll have Moira breed that into my super hero kids” and flung the bomb up and away where it became a sort of celebratory fireworks. [2/3]

 

PART THREE

569  FIVE THOUSAND YEARS LATER. ≈170 generations?; Kath Amalthova Two, in a tent on the surface of New Earth, is roused by sunrise playing on her tent’s fabric; Steps out, still sore from yesterday’ hike…you can’t hike like that in space; She’s Survey, working for TerReForm; Survey = Military?; She’s Moiran, looking for city life, and on New Earth that meant looking toward the Eye…and indeed, it’s time to go to the Eye; Prepares her kite-suit (made of nats, with urine funnel) and puts it on; She goes airborne over a mature lakeside forest, dipping down to skim the lake and draw ballast water from it; Later, surfing thermals, she sees a human below, at forest’s edge; Other surveyors working there; Hangers in LEO (vertically rotating bolo cables, with massive “hangers” at either end, rotating like a mill wheel to ferry vessels from aviation altitudes and the hanger’s nadir—momentarily motionless as a yo-yo at its lowest point—and fling them up to its zenith and LEO; 8 craft board this hanger at this motionless moment, the lowest point in its rotation; Virtual air pressure (generated by nats); Gravity in the no-longer-paused hanger is 3g…most folks are on hands & knees, and Kath Two low-crawls! One bad-ass Teklan (Beled) is walking; The Habitat Ring, with 9000 habitats; 4,000 years of Hard Rain; As the Hard Rain lightened up, bots were used as sky-sweepers; Boneyard gaps between habitat ring regions become frontiers; Races’ locations on the ring are described; Racial purity varies among regions; Races’ color codes; Bluer shades (cyan, purple, green, blue) represent cooler heads? (Tekla, Moira, Ivy, Dinah) vs red shades (yellow, red, orange) hotheads? (Camila, Aida, Julia); Perpetual state of war between Red arc & Blue arc.

593 • On flivver, Kath Two and Beled exchange salutes; Groups’ salutes’ origins discussed; Rhys asks Beled and Kath about their surveys, Beled’s was uneventful, Kath no-commented on the human she sighted; Take Our Time folks (TOTs) vs Get It Done folks (GIDs); Hu Noah and Leuk Markov (GIDs); Reds & Blues; War on the Rocks (down on the surface of New Earth) ends with First Treaty in 4895; Great Seeding, Epigenetics (the study of how vast stretches of the genome formerly thought inactive control gene expression); Moira’s one daughter (after 8 failed pregnancies) was named Cantabrigia; TOTers say “craft genomes carefully,” while GIDers say “spit ‘em out fast & let nature select;” Habs start small, but as you approach boneyard regions they tend to get very large…

 

 

598.1 • IMAGE: The Habitat Ring circa A+5000

598.2 • IMAGE: The Eye, while encircling/visiting one habitat. To the Eye’s lower left and to its upper right, along the Habitat Ring’s orbit, you can see two other habitats. On p602 it is stated that the diameter of the main ring of the Eye is 50 km/31mi. Knowing this and using this image* we can determine that:

                 - Width of Main Eye Ring ≈ 4.4km/2.7mi

                 - Each habitat is roughly 30km/19mi long and ≈ 13km/8mi miles wide

                 [very close the classic O’Neill Tube dimensions of 20 mi long x 5 mi wide,

                  but then when Stephenson explicitly states the size of the habs he has them being ≈ 2/3 that size.]

                 - Four ribbon-like lateral rings in a diamond shape around the Main Ring are each ≈ 400m thick

                 - thickness of the cable up to Big Rock (zenith) ≈ 900m

                 - Center of hab to center of adjacent hab ≈ 82km/51mi

                 - Gap between facing ends of adjacent habs ≈ 52 km/32mi (on p605* and later p614: “20 km”)

                 - Dimensions of habs’ surface rectangles ≈ 2x1 km/1x0.6mi

 

 

        …One hab’s name was Steve Lake (Kath Amalthova One had a friend there, but would the friendship have survived her transition to Kath Two?); The Eye is like a moving combination of bus *and* bus station; One could take an elevator down to the Cradle; Kath Two kinda flirts with Beled; Whip Stations, between habitats.

606 • The Eye is like a train, 157 km long, with 720 giant cars, going in a circle where the locomotive is connected to the tail of the caboose, circuits every 5+ minutes at 500 m/s; Great Chain vs. Manhattan, with each car a city block; every 5th car = public property; Apart from the Great Chain, not as many humans; More updates on Kath Two, Beled & Rhys on their Flivver trip up from the surface; Varps; Kath Two napped for 10 hours, which, evidently, Moirans do; 18 years ago the Second Treaty ended the 2nd Red-Blue War (“War in the Woods”) Amistics: Reds embrace pragmatism, Blues? I’m calling their tendency “hyper-humanism;” Sooners; Indigens in RIZs; The human Kath Two saw was non-RIZ; “Were our survey missions increased because maybe someone else had seen other non-RIZ humans?”; Gap b/w habs ≈ 20 km; Varp view is better than reality; Whip described; Flynks, niksht/Knickstelle; Whip coupling; They approach the Eye which is currently visiting Habitat Akureyri, a double barreled habitat design; Flivver arrives at Quarantine, where the three will be inspected and tested for pathogens, clothes and gear will be sterilized.

620 • Kath Two’s “Soft” Interrogation. Kath Two’s bracelet is still red; She can’t sleep, goes out for coffee, bumps into a Q agent of Julian extraction; Gets a “soft” interrogation; Sees a video display of The Parable of the Seven Fat and Seven Thin; Caricaturization; Kath Amalthova Two says “let’s cut the bullshit,” and the questioning grows more focused; The Julian mentions Kath’s possible transition to Kath Amalthova Three.

631 • Doc is headed down to the Cradle; Flivver riders disembark, board an On Ramp capsule and are “shot” onto the Great Chain; In the terminal Kath Two is approached by a crow who seems to speak to her; She goes to Aldebrandi Gardens and walks through Asian jungle, Chihuahuan desert—The Eye passes Sean Probst & Surtsey habs) Fynbos, Bayou habitat, Douglas Fir forest…follows path to Kupol Grove where Doc Noah is with several students; Doc invites Kath Two to participate in a Cradle Seven, which she has trouble understanding, since he has highest societal status and she has essentially none; “We leave in 12 hours.”

638 • Moirans undergo profound personal transitions, effectively becoming a new person (thus she’s now Kath Two, Kath One died at age 13); Moirans leave caches of property in various locations rather than have a formal home; Kath Two is a reader; Social Media is discussed, along with “Tav’s Mistake” ….how one man (who had social media habits which in the 21st century were not at all unusual) came to be emblematic, in the 71st century, of social media’s evils. [… a commentary on modern attitudes toward social media. Read why NTS considers himself to be a “sociomediapath.” –smr–]; [3/4] Kath Two hops off the Chain, sees another video history, this one concerned Eve Dinah, Eve Tekla & Catherine Dinova; All cameras owned by the original eight eventually broke down, so there are no images or video from the 1st millennium; Eye & tether structures described; Geography of New Earth; Tether comprises 16 cables, each of which comprises 16 smaller, etc. They break and are repaired by robots constantly; Kath Two’s tether cabin.

647 • On the four-day tether elevator (Tethervator?) trip down to Cradle; Kath Two finds a nook to curl up in, is joined by Beled, with Doc & Memmie makes four of a Seven; Beled holds military rank, chats with Doc; The Julian Q-agent Ariane Casablancova joins them, tries in vain to put everyone at ease; Doc says they’ll be joined by two more on Cradle; Kath Two hypothesizes about Ariane’s employer and googles her, but not enough to raise any red flags; Discussion of God /religion, post-Epic…dukh, dukhos.

652 • Most of the mass of Cleft was raw material for the construction of The Eye…except for the Endurance landing site; All Doob’s post-Epic predictions came true; Cradle City, dimensions and descriptions; New Earth’s new atmosphere; Wars were fought over Cradle real estate; More message birds; Cradle is the most prestigious location in the system; On Cradle, Kath Two heads south from Change Hill, across the bridge, to Capitol Hill, pausing at the bridge’s arch’s apex; The west wind induced by Cradles being dragged west along Earth’s equator is brutal here (“Hurricane Heights”).

660 • The Great Game; Long-Term Breeding Strategies of the Seven Eves; Camila bred against aggression/assertiveness, Dinah, Ivy, Tekla & Moira saw its value and bred for it; Eve Moira, as the geneticist, always had the last move; Moirans…metamorphose?; Eves’ children: Gestations, their children, Corrections à Stabilizations (12 gen?) à Propagation (500+ years) à Isolation (racial purity) à Caricaturization (selective breeding for intensifying racial differences, see page 626) à Enhancement, which latter three led to either Extinction or Cosmopolitanization; All speak Anglisky….or rather, that’s how it was in Blue. Red, being incommunicado…who could say?

669 • On Capitol Hill Kath Two feels very much like she’s on Old Earth…and she promptly gets lost there; A storm rolls…in? …over?; Kath Two spies an especially inviting (what she hopes is a) pub…check the address on her paper; Inside, the older yet no less hot bartender addresses her by her complete name.

672 • Evolution of firearms; Modern armor fools bullets instead of blocking them; Total War = Mutually Assured Destruction, two wars down on New Earth; Kath Two analyzes bartender, deduces much history…sooner child, military? Sure, a bar…but on Cradle? He’s the Seven’s Dinan; Doc’s there, Beled arrives; Ty leads them back into the Bolt Hole, where Ariane & Memmie await along with the group’s Aidan, but he’s not just *any* Aidan…

682 • New Neanderthals, Neoanders vs. Teklans; Langobard; Bard has a meet cute with Beled; Neoanders were sent down to Antimer, stayed; Bard is the presentable face of his clan; Doc defers to Ariane; We will travel from Cayambe to Beringia [Eastern Ecuador up the west coast of the Americas, to the Bering Strait, more or less].

693 • The Cradle can set down for hours or days; Cradle lowered into Cayambe socket…for 24 hours; Ty’s real job? Empath; The Crow’s Nest bar is a source of info for its owners, not income; Moving through the crowd Ty walks point (it’s what Dinans do) Beled pulls rear security; With The Seven now in four vehicles, Ariane spreads out the caravan; Ty tells Kath Two “People are my books.”

701 • Aitrains = Jinn rings? Aitrain station ; The Seven now in a glider, launched via flynk whip-train; Ty imagines flynk activity; Kath Two pilots the glider north from Cayambe (eastern Ecuador); Military divided into Button Pushers, Ground Pounders & Snake Eaters; SE’s split into Queeds, Feelies & Zerks; Ty tries to classify Beled: “Military, but not Queed…either a Feelie or a Zerk;” Ty moves on and gets Bard’s story; Ty & Bard parlez about their past lives on opposite sides of the Red/Blue Antimer border.

709 • Survey outposts vs TerReForm bases; Magdalena TRF base [island, SE of Cabo San Lucas and NE of—and slightly closer to—Puerta Vallarta]; Kath Two’s not your typical airline pilot; Arriving at Magdalena in great time; Locals are expecting Doc, which makes Ty wonder about Ariane’s travel arrangements for the group: cloak-n-dagger in Cradle & Cayambe, but here, a public welcome?

713 • Doc makes use of people’s incorrect assumptions and prejudices about his age; Memmie is Doc’s conversational cowcatcher and deplanes first at Magdalena base because the greeters in this welcoming throng are always sincere, but always have ulterior motives; Doc’s celebrity here eclipses Bard’s Neoander novelty; Ariane will soon be removed from Doc’s list; Ariane, of the Red, grew up in Astrakhan habitat, 3˚ 6’ from the capital city of the Baghdad region of the ring [3˚ 6’ of the 164,500 mi long Hab Ring works out to ≈ 1400 mi (2300 km) or about 80-90 habitats;] Doc invites Beled to treadmill next to him; Doc reads Beled’s surgery scars; Doc confirms Beringia & Antimer as their destination.

719 • Magdalena to Hawaii—via the ground-effect (hovercraft-ish) vehicle Ark Madiba [Mandela]—in 12 hours; Arrive at an installation on the east side of the northern tip of the Big Island, Mokupuku, staffed almost entirely by Moirans; Kath Two sees these local Moirans set in their ways…that they’ve moved away from her idea of what it means to be a Moiran; How many other non-transferrable cultures (i.e. that could never go back up to the ring) had formed?; Ark Madiba departs, north, to Blue Antimer (circular atoll, with need of larger carnivores than Hawaii’s ecosystem); The Seven leave Ark Madiba and catch a flight north over the impressive Antimer mountain range; New NE Pacific geography described; The Cooling Off (1100 years ago); Qayaq’s pykrete landing strip; Ashwall; Qayaq ends up being a hub; The Seven deplane at Quayq; Ty begins taking the lead…he’s a local boy, but also, duh, he’s a Dinan (it’s what they do!); They ice-hike their way to a small town.

729 • Locals giving Bard the look; Sizing up this pretty clearly non-Treaty-kosher town; Tall young Ivyn man (Einstein) strolls up and asks if they’re heading over the mountains; Ty rebuffs him until Ariane humors him. Evidently he knows the location of a pre-Zero (arti) ‘fact.

733 • Kath Two pilots them in another big glider; Tundra and low scrub “seed spilling” pods are named (wait for it) ONANs J; The glider lands, they secure it, and they hike; Kath Two, Beled, Ty & Bard are all variously armed; Weaponry & ambots (earlier the three guys had got their red & blue ambots on the same sheet of music); The hike becomes increasingly deeper & steeper; Einstein won’t reveal anything, numerous hedgings and inconsistencies in his stories [red flags no one seems to pick up on] Doc tries to extract info about the ‘fact from Einstein; They get there only to discover that the artifact has recently been dug up; They find a 5000 year old radiator hose…are the excavators still around?; Steering wheel totem; Looters looking for iron engine block; Broken shovel hammer…Doc reads the 5000 year old hieroglyphics printed on the handle (Srap Tasmaner!); They each receive a signal, after which Doc says “This artifact-chasing side-venture seems suddenly to be our intended purpose.”

746 • Diggers leave a totem at the glider; They see sentinels (Rufus’s ancestors?); Rootstock; Memmie speaks to Ariane; The guys consider the possibility of violence, the Diggers disable the Seven’s buckies “…a hostile act, but not as hostile as what happens if we get within range of their archers”; Ty & Doc approach two Diggers; After much discussion, the Diggers speak, making a show of condemning “you cowards who ran away;” Doc confirms they are of MacQuarie lineage, and graciously offers them the “Srap Tasmaner” shovel handle; They completely take this the wrong way, but because Doc is old they spare him…but instantly spear Memmie with the sharpened handle, and the battle is on…Ty deflects an attacker; Ariane seems to radio for help; Ty snaps the attacker’s leg then deals with Memmie’s murderess (Marge) and an older Digger; Ambots release from glider crates and speed to envelop Bard & Beled; Bard’s ambots form chains/airtrains, then he & Beled scatter; Ariane grabs Ty’s gun, grabs Marge, shoots Ty, who, now wounded, must release the old guy he’s battling. This old guy goes after Kath Two then Ty, at which point Kath Two shoots the old guy; Einstein neutralizes the ambot Ariane shot into Ty’s chest; An enormous red rod drops from the sky, plucking Ariane & Marge quickly into the sky like a finger of God.

762 • This Thor, a hanger-like transport, has snatched Ariane & Marge and whisked them off to Red; Doc has a stroke seeing what happened to Memmie, and soon dies himself; Ty, Kath Two & Einstein are chained away from the Digger camp…Beled & Bard still MIA; Kath Two collapses into sleep, which Ty, knowing she’s Moiran, senses will last; Ty & Einstein observe the Diggers in their camp (lots of pregnant women & little kids, but few if any teens) “I see a recent population explosion;” They’ve KNOWN about we Spacers and the Hab Ring, but they hid, as per their religious narrative, from the “cowardly & monstrous Spacers;”  And Ariane…

769 • Three Diggers approach the chained prisoners; Their elder, Donno, chats with Ty about recent events, while the Diggers’s teen-aged walking encyclopedia footnotes all unfamiliar terms used by Ty or Einstein; (Kath Two is clearly enduring something…) “Your Julian betrayed you…” Donno’s group of Diggers considers themselves the human race and claim the entire surface of Earth as their territory; Pingers = aquatic? Diggers seem to know a lot about Spacers; Donno perceives that a state of war exists and leaves abruptly; Sonar Taxlaw (the walking encyclopedia) name explained; Red has known about the Diggers, it seems; Einstein has taken a shine to Sonar Taxlaw; Ty considers the nature of Pingers, wakes to howling wolves and figures that Ariane & Marge are back up on a Red Hab by now…considers why Beled & Bard were chosen for this Seven…or why he himself was, at the Crow’s Nest; Morning, keeping an eye on Kath Two; Pingers in Submarines? [Yeah, you had that thought too, just like I did. -smr-] More diggers appear, apparently returning from a hunt, Donno approaches and wants a prisoner exchange; Ty sends message-crows to summon Bard & Beled; Later that night lights come out of the sky, Ty explains to Donno that this is a Red Invasion; Bard & Beled signal they’re coming.

782 • Red landing party secures a perimeter, other Red pods land; Bard & Beled return and extract Ty, Einstein and the still sick Kath Two; Sonor Taxlaw explains her name…and defects; They climb away, then look back to see that the Red “delegation” is putting on a show for the Diggers; Aidan procession (clearly these Reds have known about Diggers, they’re pushing all the right buttons with this display, right down to knowing Rufus’s music); Checking Kath Two’s vital signs, Bard & Beled have contacted Blue HQ, who won’t come just yet; They get some intel from Sonar Taxlaw: “We were heading south because the Pingers wanted to meet us;” Ty has a plan for Blue HQ, “we have a second chance with the natives…”

791 • Some background on Sonar Taxlaw…Digger breeding age…how one becomes a Cyc; Much discussion of the post-Zero underground…no one really knows why they decided to hide from Spacers, but once they did they had to portray Spacers as alien mutants to justify it.

798 • Long hike south to shore; Ty imagines how this all would be transpiring had it happened on the Red side of the 166˚ 30’ border; Blue Military drops provisions for the Seven, three Blue military gliders appear; As Ty watches them arrive he considers how Blue leaders are selling this diplomatic failure to the public; An Ivyn named Arjun chats with Ty, confirming that Red is playing it up for politics; Ty tries to deal with his glaring and public failure; Red recognizes the Diggers’ surface sovereignty; Never having seen Rootstock people, Arjun asks about Sonar Taxlaw (“No, she’s not a hostage,”) and Kath Two (“Classic POTESH…” which Hope, Arjun’s Camite colleague/medic, now confirms); Red is winning the PR battle with respect to the Ring public…but they have been for awhile (Discussion of Kulak, Red’s answer to The Eye, and Gnomon, their initial plan for Cradle)…they were pissed that Cradle had to be over the Equator, where there is almost no Red territory, so they devised the Gnomon, a north-south oriented long thin cradle that could serve locations farther off the equator; Six Aidan sub-races (Aretaics, Betas, Camites, Neoanders, Jinns, Extats); Sonar tells of Red’s Torres Strait strategy, filling in the 100-mile ocean between Australia & Papua New Guinea) How did the Diggers know this? “Pingers told us;” The third of Arjun’s landing party, a Teklan named Roskos Yur, doesn’t trust Ty…until Ty proves he’s several pay-grades higher, and Roskos Yur relents: “What are my orders?” “March to the sea…though someone will have to carry Kath Two,” “Um, no they won’t!” they all see that Kath Two has emerged from her Moiran epigenetic hibernation as Kath Three, who is, for lack of any better description, Wonder Woman (Beled has Olympic sprinter speed and she’s dusting his ass.)

811 • Kathree’s hormones are RAGING for physicality; She craves Beled now in the worst way, but now’s not the time, so she vents it athletically, sprinting straight into the surf to cool her broiling body; Beled asks her “Hey while you were face-down naked in the ocean, did you hear any Pingers?” They proceed along the coast but a headland juts out. It’s an impact crater wall, with another headland wall on the far side, the two walls concavely facing each other across the large crater-formed bay, with the crater’s central impact peak centered between the walls and slightly offshore. [Sorta like this: __(_._)__ ]  ; Pingers faced three deluges, Hard Rain, Cloudy Century [p739] and now, the life deluge of TerReForm; Sonar knows this because the Diggers have long been in contact with the Pingers…Kathree sees a slate tablet & chalk under the surf.

817 • Ty carries a crate out to offshore impact peak, where he discovers a pipe running out to sea, and a sledgehammer near the pipe…this crater-on-the-coast is a signaling device, and Ty begins hammering a message in Morse code; “Now we wait a few days;” A character-by-character status update; What if Red intercepted Ty’s signal; A Madibe-like ark approaches (Ark Darwin), and their landing party deploys a tall communications/light mast in the middle of the bay; Kathree sees Einstein & Sonar Taxlaw being interviewed for TV; The interviewer is also the CO of this landing operation, giving all the orders. She shares her varp with Kathree, showing her Red’s recently released story of the Kulak, the debut of their answer to Blue’s Cradle, the Gnomon (some explication from Cantabrigia Five.)

830 • Ty asks Sonar how the Diggers knew about the pipe; She tells of Digger scouts who contacted Pingers 50 years ago.

833 • Kathree is awakened by approaching Diggers & Reds; Beled messages Ty “Turn the cove light on;” “Remember,” Cantabrigia Five has warned, “no damaged Diggers;” A Red Neoander trashes a vid bucky; Kathree ambots a Digger who was lining up a shot; (It occurs to Kathree that Kath Two was the first casualty the other day (p761), technically dying before Memmie or Doc, in the instant she decided to shoot the old Digger;) Kathree has scampered up and outflanked the Reds/Diggers, and considers continuing behind their position…she encounters a solo Aretaic who she offs efficiently, then comes face to face with a Digger archer who has her dead to rights. Talking quickly she convinces him that his own suspicions about Red’s duplicity are true, and he simply leaves.

844 • Cantabrigia Five tells Ty that Red does NOT know about the Pingers, which news he’s grateful for because it means his hypothesis about that was correct and he can confidently tell Einstein to get ready to make history with what’s in the pizza box.

845 • Kathree admires Bard’s ambot whip-cracking skills; Ark Dawrin send a few inflatables; Cantabrigia Five speaks into a camera, presumably giving color commentary for the folks at home; Kathree sees Beled grappling with a Neoander whom he neutralizes; A Beta pursues Beled, who dispatches her with a rock upside the head; Roskos Yur, injured, bleeding and being carried by Bard, still manages to plug the guy Beled thought he neutralized a moment earlier; Ark Darwin’s boats avoid the center of the cove; Something’s clearly happening there…because…a person strolls out the water.

851 • Einstein & Sonar have the pizza box and await the Pinger’s emergence; The Pinger is naked, hairless, sleek, has no visible genitals…with two comrades, one of whom is female and the other who has the build of a seal or otter…what the hairless hell? “Ty do you want this pizza box?” “No, it MUST be presented by you, Einstein, an Ivyn!” In the pizza box was a large print of the astonishing photo which sub-captain and Ivy fiancée Call Blankenship had taken (p321-322) at the start of the Hard Rain! The female Pinger recognized it instantly and communicated her delight to her two comrades.

854 • More Pingers come ashore; The language barrier is real, but the emotions are so positive now that the lead Pinger actually gives Ty a little good-natured shit for his goofy wetsuit, as if to say “Really? This works for you?” J ; The female Pinger, obviously thrilled, gives Sonar Taxlaw a big hug! Observing all this, Cantabrigia Five and Esa Arjun gaze skyward, satisfied that this tableau, their tableau—an Ivyn boy (who oh by the way is clearly romantically attached to a Digger girl) welcoming Pingers ashore by presenting them with one of the most famous images in Blue’s epic—is at least comparable to Red’s recent fanfare with the Diggers, and given how few people on the Hab Ring woke up that morning knowing that the Pingers even existed, might even be cooler.

 

855 Epilogue

        Over lunch on Ark Darwin, Ty chats with Arjun while Deep [the lead Pinger, presumably embarking on a Goodwill World Tour? Love to see how they get him up in space!] munches fish & seaweed; “It looks like they are more technologically advanced than the Diggers;” Red and the Diggers assume control of the beach while Blue and the Pingers linger just offshore, controlling the ocean; “If you look closely at the all 17 of Cal’s photos sent to Eve Ivy, he clearly had ideas about how they could not only survive but thrive after the Hard Rain…bottom line? Well-charted undersea canyons & caves;” After Arjun leaves the table, Einstein & Sonar join Ty & Deep (Sooner, Digger, Blue & Pinger…call it A Four) and interestingly, the first thing on Ty’s mind is how lucky the two kids are to have found each other…”What’s it like?” And everyone wants to know what The Purpose is. (Ty doesn’t know—nobody does of course—but takes what seems a pretty admirable whack at it;) Ty’s going back to the Crow’s Nest on Cradle, and offers free rooms there to everyone at the table.

 


22DEC20

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