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Thread: April/May 2012 Lite Challenge Entry: 20:12

  1. #1

    Wip April/May 2012 Lite Challenge Entry: 20:12

    Work in progress based on James Blish's short story Surface Tension

    ### Latest WIP ###
    Click image for larger version. 

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    It is 20:12 and the fifth sun is getting hotter across the face of the dying world. The world's habitats are failing, the chlorofil mines are failing within the dying world.

    Sunward columns of refugees are preparing to flee AntiSunward

    AntiSunward armys are being raised to go against the interlopers, the scant resources can't be shared.

    In the windward direction most of the habitats have already been destroyed or shaken smaller, now the sun threatens these remnents of life

    Even Stemward travellers bring tales of aphids moving closer
    Last edited by Jaxilon; 05-05-2012 at 01:26 AM.

  2. #2


    What's the short story Surface Tension about?
    You forgot the Latest WIP again

  3. #3


    from wiki and I have taken a few liberties with the story

    "Humans crash on a distant planet which is earthlike but completely water-covered; their ship is too damaged to take off, nor do they have sufficient supplies to survive for long. The humans create a race of microscopic aquatic humanoids to carry on their legacy before they themselves die. The majority of the story concerns these creatures and their intelligence, curiosity, and evolving technology. In particular, the aquatic humanoids develop a "space ship", or rather "air ship", which enables them to pierce the previously impenetrable surface of the water and travel through what is, to them, hostile space—open air—to other worlds in other bodies of water."

  4. #4
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    Nov 2009


    Nice idea. I added the latest WIP to your first post but you will have to remember from here on out or that one will be the map that goes up for the voting

    The scraper just goes through your post and grabs the last one in the thread with the 3 # signs 'Latest WIP' and another 3 #s.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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  5. #5
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Lukc's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Lausanne, CH


    I like the concept and it sounds like a fascinating story!

  6. #6


    Thanks for your help ...

    and a more detailed rendition of the story. Been years since I read the original

    Story summary.
    In this era of faster than light travel, humans have been colonizing space by a rather exotic means: send a "seedship" to an earth-like world, create new life forms adapted to live on that world but still essentially humans - basically reengineering the body but not the thought processes or thinking ability. Ensure these locally adapted "humans" will survive, & the ship goes off to repeat the process on next world.

    One such ship ("la Ventura") has just landed, or rather crashed, on the world called Hydrot, in Tau Ceti system. It's a waterworld - "only one small, triangular continent, set amid endless ocean; and even the continent was mostly swamp." Crew know they are doomed; cannot get help - communications gear is gone.

    Their "germ cell bank" is gone too, so "can't seed this place in the usual way". They won't last a month - the air is poisonous. They will "be able to populate this world with men, but ... won't live to see it." They must create local versions of humans that can survive, & then rediscover their humanity in due course. The world has a lot of local life - but none that is intelligent.

    Panatropes (machines for this reenginnering of humans) "take human germ cells - in this case, our own, since our bank was wiped out in the crash - & modify them toward creatures who can live in any reasonable environment. The result will be man & intelligent. It usually shows the donor's personality pattern too, since the modifications are usually made mostly in the morphology, not so much in the mind, of the resulting individual.

    ... The adapted man is worse than a child in his new environment. He has no history, no techniques, no precedents, not even a language. Ordinarily the seeding teams more or less take him through elementary school before they leave the planet, but we won't survive long enough for that. We'll have to design our colonists with plenty of built in protections and locate them in the most favorable environment possible, so that at least some of them will survive the learning process.

    ... One of the new creatures can have my personality pattern, but it won't be able to remember being me...

    ... There may be just the faintest of residuums... we'll leave behind people who behave as we would, think and feel as we would, but who won't remember la Ventura, ... - or Earth."

    They choose to create the local humans as microscopic shallow fresh-water-inhabiting life forms - an individual about 500 microns in size! Adapted for puddles & lakes of this swamp. They will be equipped with limbs to make & use tools etc. These descendants of humans will eventually have to come out of water again, the way our ancestors once did!

    Crew of ship also leave corrosion resistant metal plates with text that tells the story of humans & how locals came to be. Hoping the descendants will some day figure it out & eventually claim their rightful place in the bigger star-faring community of humans.

    That's may be first 10% of the story. Rest of it is the story of these microscopic water-borne humans. They have survived & thrived, have discovered tools & agriculture, medicine & pets, have subdued hostile natives, etc. They have decoded parts of ancient plates left by colonists, though some are lost; but these texts are treated with skepticism by practical people.

    Lavon, hero of the story, will lead the discovery of the world above water - & dreams of eventually figuring out if the little lights in the night sky are indeed stars mentioned in the ancient plates.

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Guild Journeyer octopod's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Ann Arbor


    This is an awesome idea! I think I need to read this book. Man, this is a great idea for a challenge.

    As far as the actual map goes -- maybe you should have it more obviously a dying leaf in terms of background colours? Because as it is, it's not immediately clear that the veins are alive, which makes the living capillaries look kind of weird. I'm thinking background colours something like this.
    I didn't qualify for the River Police, so I became the Tectonics Vigilante.

  9. #9


    Nice catch Octo, you caught me out Click image for larger version. 

Name:	leaf-closeup-with-water-droplets-on-veins-f4.jpg 
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ID:	44529 Is the original image but i was thinking if they have a civilistion there they wouldn't necessarily see their world as a leaf. So i was thinking as the leaf dies the viens would be the last areas to lose the resourses so needed by their civilisation and the increasingly desicated leaves would resemble desert so far as their needs are concerned. Still needs more work.

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