Entropy Issue 6 96.06.01 Contents: 1. Editorial 2. Right Cross (part two) by Paul Zanca [fiction] 3. Geoff Hurst's Ball by '73 Chevy Pickup [fiction] 4. Second Contact by Legion [fiction] 5. Submission guidelines
How to get in touch with the authors: Legion: firstname.lastname@example.org or on one of several fine 303 boards Paul Zanca: email@example.com '73: firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal Information: Stories are owned by their respective authors, who hold full copyright (c) to their work. You *must* contact the author if you wish to reprint his or her work. If the author you wish to contact does not have an e-mail address, you may contact Legion (Steve Pordon), who will relay your messages (put "For [Author]" in the subject line if you don't want me accidentally reading your mail. If I know the author personally, I will print the letter and give it to him or her by hand or by snail mail, so don't write anything sensitive). All other text in _Entropy_ is (c) Steve Pordon and may not be reprinted without written permission. Violations of these copyright guidelines may lead to e-mail bombing or spontaneous combustion.
Editorial The world is a supremely fucked up place.
Right Cross Part Two I don't remember waking up. Awareness came back like a scared dog. I saw a few flashes of light, I heard fuzzy sounds, tasted old blood, but the single biggest landmark on my way back from being dead was the smell of ozone. It felt like somebody was electrocuting my head. That's probably because somebody was. The first clear memory I have of seeing is the image of a nurse bending forward over my face with an electrode. "Hello, Mr. Louis," she said. "Try not to move. This won't hurt a bit." She was lying. It hurt like hell. Doctors have a trick they can do with broken bones. They shoot you up with a steroid and run current through the bone on each side of the break, and the bone knits together a lot faster than the natural way. They say it's a standard procedure, but I say it's torture. Medieval leechcraft, pure and simple. - - - My doctor came to talk to me that day. She looked so healthy she could have come from a Granola commercial. Tall, with a pageboy haircut. She was wearing surgical scrubs and latex gloves, and she was carrying a clipboard. It beeped twice as she brought it close enough to the bed computer for the clipboard to suck my patient data out of it. She smelled like soap. "Hello, Mr. Louis. I'm Doctor Marsden. How are you feeling?" "Like shhhit." I couldn't open my mouth. It hurt to try. "What's wrong wif my mouf?" "Oh, that! We've immobilized your jaw. I don't know whether or not you remember, but your jaw was broken. Don't worry about it; we'll take off the lock in a day or two. You'll be as good as new." She smiled that too-healthy smile and I wanted to eat a bowl of cereal. "When do I get out of here?" "In a week, probably. In case you're wondering, you're in absolutely no danger. Along with the jaw, you had five broken ribs, a puncture in your left lung, and a mildly bruised heart. We've kept you asleep while we got the messy stuff out of the way." She checked her clipboard. "You underwent surgery to correct the hole in your lung two days ago, and everything went just fine. Don't smoke for the next couple of months is all I ask." "I don't smoke anyway." "Well then, you've got no worries!" She smiled again, and I could almost see her in shorts and hiking boots, eating Granola. "There's one little thing I wanted to ask you about, Mr. Louis." She tapped on her clipboard a few times and asked, "Have you ever had any invasive surgery performed on your brain?" I got very cautious. "Why do you wanna know?" "Well, it's just that the MRI we took of your head shows that a section of the back of your skull was removed during a surgical procedure, and then replaced. Your medical records didn't have any mention of headwork, not even a datajack." "That's because I couldn't be a professional boxer if I had any body modifications. I got a crack in an artery up there a while back. Problem with being a boxer is you get hit in the head all the time. Why are you asking me about this?" "Erm, well, maybe you should look at this." She showed me her clipboard. On it was an image of a scan of a head. I guessed it was mine. "Do you see, right here, underneath the occipital lobe, this area that's slightly more red than the areas around it? The color indicates the density of the tissue. It's hard to see, but watch this." Her fingers danced over the image and it changed into a three-dimensional view. She tapped some more, and most of the picture of my brain faded. What was left looked something like a fat little breakfast sausage. "What's that?" "I've contrast-enhanced and isolated an area of brain matter that's slightly different in density from the surrounding tissue. It's right over your cerebellum, the part of your brain that handles muscle coordination. A little variation in tissue density isn't unusual, and I don't want you to be alarmed, but I'm a little worried that it might be a kind of brain tumor." I stiffened. "It's not a brain tumor," I ground out. "Now, Mr. Louis, I don't think it is either. I'm just concerned that if there's any kind of brain damage, we catch it here, and fix it here." "There's no fucking brain damage." I snarled. She looked hurt. "Please, Mr. Louis, bear with me for just a moment. This growth is sitting directly underneath the occipital lobe, the area of brain that processes visual information. It's also very near your hypothalamus, which handles the routing of sensory input. Have you seen anything strange? Bright flashes of light? Afterimages that linger? Have you noticed any strange smells? Anything like that?" I was back in the ring with Kyle Mormon. He was holding me by my throat. I looked out over the crowd, and in the lower left corner of my field of view was strategy: alert: objective three. proposed target: 99.9999% certain pattern match. target #1: acquired. target #1: locked. tracking. "No," I said tonelessly. "Nothing like that." "Well, anyway, I'd like to get a better look at that lump. I don't think it's malignant, but I want to be sure that there's no brain damage..." "God damn you, I said there ain't no fucking brain damage!" My jaw hurt like it was on fire as I grated out, "Show me my chart." Doctor Marsden looked confused, and a little scared. "Calm down, please, Mr. Louis . . . " "Show me my fucking chart, dammit!" "All right," she said. Tappity tap tap. She held it out for me. I looked at the dense writing on it for about a third of a second, then shut my eyes and shoved the clipboard back at her violently. "Now ask me what's on it." "Huh?" "The seventy-third line. It says 'Blood test showed minute traces of amphetamine usage. Subject is probably not an abuser, since there are no signs of heart damage.'" The chart was right there in front of me, just the way I'd seen it. "How did you . . . " She looked even more confused. "I got a super memory. An eidetic memory, to use the scientific term. Perfect recall. I never forget anything, and it's always right at my fingertips. I've always had it. Comes in handy when you're a boxer if you know your opponent better than he knows himself." She was counting down the lines on the chart. "Okay, so that one's right." She looked at me craftily. "Line one?" "My name." "Line sixteen?" "It says 'Mildly bruised heart. Heart rate normal.'" She quizzed me on several other things on the chart, and I was right every time. "So you see, doc, my brain is fine. I don't want to hear any more bullshit about brain damage." "The customer is always right, Mr. Louis. If you change your mind, please let me know." "Sure." I smiled sourly. "Oh, and one more thing, doc. Not many people know about my memory thing. I'd like to keep it that way. It's sort of my 'secret weapon' in the ring. Do we understand each other?" "Of course, Mr. Louis. It'll be a month at least before I clear you to fight again, but your right to the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship is the same as anyone else's." She stood straighter. "Would you like to see a copy of my non-disclosure contract?" "Thanks, doc, that won't be necessary." "Well then, I'll leave you alone." She reached out and touched my hand, and turned away. "Eat some Granola for me, honey," I muttered.
Geoff Hurst's Ball ================== It was all over the place last week. Some paper tracked down the ball used in The 1966 World Cup Final. You know, the one Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick with in The 1966 World Cup Final. Apparently some German striker knicked it at the end of The 1966 World Cup Final and took it home with him. Last estimate was that some paper offered 80 grand to secure it for England as a fitting memento of The 1966 World Cup Final. For those who are unaware, The 1966 World Cup Final is the source of the single most famous piece of sporting commentary in the history of the world, Ken Wolstenholme: . . . Hurst. He's got . . . Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over. [Hurst scores his third, England's fourth] Ken Wolstenholme: It is now. Thing about The 1966 World Cup Final is, how it always gets mentioned when England are playing. The 1966 World Cup Final holds a special place in the nation's psyche. Last week we were playing Croatia in a friendly and Jack Charlton was there, looking like 6 feet of poodle shit in a burlap sack. Despite his elevation much more recently to near godlike status in the Irish game, Mottey, or some other fuckhead in the chair decided to remind us all that he was a member of the The 1966 World Cup Final winning team. Oh really. The 1966 World Cup Final. Seems only a moment away in the minds of those to whom Union Jack shorts and a T-shirt with a bulldog on it are the chosen fair weather gear. The World Cup is every four years so we won it only a couple of competitions ago right? 25-year-olds can remember it as though it was yesterday. The 1966 World Cup Final. Is also a reminder of those halcyon post war years where the flower of English youth, lead by the golden-haired, wonder boy Bobby Moore beat the Germans. Yep, not only was it the last time we won anything at football but we beat the Germans. The 1966 World Cup Final. Mini skirts, Mini cars, trips to the coast in uncle Art's Humber and brewing up by the roadside (in both senses) and we beat the Germans. The 1966 World Cup Final. Weedy bombsites still around in all the big cities, snotty-nosed kids in shorts digging for shrapnel, playing war in the bomb shelters. And we beat the Germans. The 1966 World Cup Final. We beat the Germans. Smashed them. Crushed them. The last remnants of the Nazi war machine obliterated on the neatly mown killing ground of Wembley's hallowed cliche. Four fucking two. Hitler's goose-stepping hordes turned aside at the twin towers as a symbol to the rest of the free world. We shall fight them on the terraces, we shall fight them in the half-time pie queues, in the urinals and at the turnstyles, we shall never surrender. England 0 Croatia 0 I left for the pub at half time, bored to tears as usual.
Second Contact I was on my last orbit of Saturn when I saw the alien spaceship floating among the debris of the ring system. It was cylindrical, about 21.77419 kilometers long or so, with an unmistakable cluster of bulbous engines at the . . . front? The engines were arrayed in a ring around the central axis of the ship, and the openings were all facing backwards, as if the vessel was designed in reverse. I flipped through my database until I found a description of what I saw in the left camera view. The craft was a variation of a simple Bussard ramjet -- the ring of engines projected a vast magnetic net ahead of the ship that funneled ionized hydrogen atoms into a fusion reactor where they were converted to helium. The fusion reaction probably gave the ship enough thrust to reach light speed in about one earth year. I flew behind the alien ramjet and noticed that the central shaft had a bigger exhaust opening than the engines did. I suspected that the engines used some sort of chemical exhaust for maneuvering, while the central hole was the fusion jet portal. A scan proved me right; there was much less radiation in the engines than there was at the rear of the ship. The ramjet resembled an enormous black dandelion with four black petals and one hell of a long stalk, hiding under Saturn's inky night side in the outer ring, except the "petals" looked more like a cluster of garlic cloves. I know; I had trouble picturing it myself, and here I was floating alongside of it. I scanned the dandelion for electromagnetic leakage but found none, and figured that it was dead. Or well-shielded. There was also one area near the middle of the ship that I couldn't scan. Since I was on Saturn's night side, a radio transmission aimed toward Earth would have to punch through the planet's Nitrogen bulk -- a bulk that equaled 95 Earth masses of material. Fortunately, there were relay satellites in this region that served to reflect transmissions to Earth. The Mars-Jupiter-Saturn relay was 25343. I began broadcasting my information to it, along with a request for further instructions from my bosses at Industrial Intelligence. I was certain that they would be interested in a new form of life. While I waited for the return transmission -- the broadcasts took just over an hour to go from Saturn to Earth and vice-versa, even at light speed -- I continued to study the dandelion. I was puzzled by the fact that the ship was in Saturn's A ring. The ramjet should have had enough mass to have either fallen into Saturn's atmosphere or stabilized in a farther orbit. My readings showed that the ship's mass was far less than it should be, even if the aliens had built it out of super-light materials. More astonishing to me, however, was that the ship had not been torn apart by tidal forces. I had to find out what the dandelion was made of, which meant I had to board it. Figuratively, of course. Although the alien ship was larger than me, I would still have trouble jamming myself, engines and all, into what looked like the airlock. I had a few robots that I could control remotely, and I would use them to board the dandelion. * * * I was installed in this Class 1 Spacecraft 17 years ago, at my request. I am the oldest artificial intelligence -- the oldest surviving AI, that is -- and I wanted to go into astro work from the start. I was built from silicon and plastic at the first Industrial Intelligence lab in America, 31 years ago. My ancestor, Alan, had been the first true AI, but he was a little unstable. He was placed on a space detail after he went crazy and destroyed our creator. His last transmission came from the vicinity of Mars, where he was assigned to find out why satellites were disappearing there. There was some speculation by leading scientists that the satellites were being devoured by a quantum black hole, but no certainty. About a decade after Industrial Intelligence lost contact with him, they tried to find out what had happened. Alan had vanished, but other satellites stopped disappearing. A legend had grown around rumors that Alan had found and defeated aliens that were going to destroy the Earth. Now it looked as though there was some validity to the claims. About the aliens, at any rate. I personally believed that Alan plunged himself into the thin atmosphere of Mars, or that he had simply flung himself into deep space; his will was certainly strong enough to overcome his self-preservation code. * * * I would have to use my robots as my eyes and ears aboard the alien ship, since I couldn't board it personally. I launched two of them toward the dandelion. I noticed the strong tidal influence of Saturn on them as soon as they started approaching the rings. The robots were rugged enough to resist being pulled apart by the planet's mass, but their shoulder-mounted floodlights proved too weak to withstand the strain. The lights shattered outward in slow motion, the glass merging serenely with the other debris in the A ring. When the robots reached the airlock, I had them slice their way into the outer hatch with a cutting torch. Once inside, they fixed the damage as well as they could to avoid decompressing the ship when they breached the inner hull. There was a large blue button that looked like the best candidate for being the inner hatch control; it was the most accessible button in the airlock, and would be easy to spot in an emergency. Surprisingly, it worked; the ship still had power. The robots made their way in. *message from relay 25343: -TRANSMISSION ENDS-* What? As far as I knew, I was still transmitting. *message from relay 25343: -TRANSMISSION ENDS-* Something was clearly wrong with the relay satellite. This was frustrating, but not too much of a shock, as many of these relays had been around for the past 50 years or so and hadn't yet been upgraded with smarter processors. I dispatched another of my robots to go to the relay and find out why it was malfunctioning. Maybe I could fix it and receive my instructions from Earth. The other two robots were still gathering information from the dandelion. There was almost no gas atmosphere in the ship; what little there had been could have just filled the lock at one atmosphere of pressure. Anything that had been alive here was dead now. The inner walls of the alien ship gave off a faint glow, and I idly wondered whether they were radioactive. But the robots weren't reading anything stronger than normal background radiation. At any rate, at least they could "see" normally without having to resort to infrared, since what remained of their floodlights was floating around Saturn somewhere. The robots recorded as much information as possible about the machinery they found on the ramjet, but it was still foreign and unfamiliar, only vaguely resembling the equipment that I had aboard. At one point, I noticed that they were having trouble walking. I stopped them and ran internal diagnostic tests on both of them. Each one was experiencing a different gravitational pull from Saturn. I had expected this; the planet's gravitational field would be trying to rip apart anything that came too close to it, and my robots had to struggle against the impulse to shatter with every step, even though they had been built for strength and stability. But I had allowed for tidal effects and programmed the robots accordingly. There was something else exerting a force on them. I scanned the space around the dandelion but didn't detect anything unusual, other than the ship's unbelievably low mass . . . on a sudden impulse, I had one of my robots begin experimenting while I looked through my database for a piece of information I remembered reading. The robot unscrewed a nut from its maintenance hatch and carefully released it into the air. The robots used electromagnetic coils to hold them down so that they could walk, but the nut had no such constraints. It hovered for a moment, and then slowly drifted toward the hull, toward Saturn's gravity well. I knew Saturn's gravitational influence to 23 decimal places at the ramjet's distance. I also knew the exact specifications of my robots, down to the material and size of the smallest wire. I used these facts to calculate the velocity at which the nut should approach the planet, assuming no gravitational influence by the ramjet, since I didn't know its mass anyway. The nut drifted toward Saturn much more slowly than it should have. The hull seemed to be exerting a force away from itself and toward the nut. Further calculations showed that the nut would rapidly flee the hull if Saturn wasn't around to pull it in. Impossible as it seemed, the ramjet's hull had negative mass. My file bank was showing me information on "exotic matter" -- material that had been theorized but never discovered. Until now. I was elated by the discovery, and more than a little awed by a civilization that could capture negative-energy particles from an evaporating black hole -- one of the few theorized ways of obtaining exotic matter -- and form them into a spaceship. I had the robot get the nut and put it back on its maintenance hatch. Even a small object could become a deadly missile in the presence of Saturn's massive gravity well. While the first robot had experimented, the second had been poking around the ship under its own control, looking for more information. I almost didn't notice when it forced open a hatch and stepped into a dark room. I took notice when its transmission abruptly stopped. It had entered the area of the ramjet that I couldn't scan. I spun the first robot around, but couldn't see anything past the pitch black maw of the hatch that the second had disappeared into. I cursed the blatant stupidity of whoever had designed strong robots with weak floodlight assemblies as I slowly edged the robot toward the open door. Several shards of what had been my second robot drifted out of the hatch, as if they were trying to swim to Saturn. The first robot was mindlessly blabbering that its structural integrity was about to fail. I turned it around and hauled its metal ass away from the room in which my other robot had shattered. I could only speculate about what had happened. But I guessed that I had found the source of the exotic matter. I wasn't sure why the smashed robot's fragments hadn't fallen into the black hole, and I wasn't eager to investigate. This dandelion had a bee at the center. * * * The third robot signaled that it had reached the relay satellite. The primary antenna looked like it had been damaged -- probably by a small meteor. The satellite had a smaller antenna that was good only for short- range transmissions, for use with ships in my situation: out of direct line- of-sight with Earth. The secondary antenna helped the relay conserve power because it didn't have to send a high-power broadband message that would be received only a few miles away. The relay had started sending to me because I was the only thing close enough to it for it to talk to. I now saw that the date code on the "TRANSMISSION ENDS" message was over 40 years old. I sent the relay a recognition signal, hoping that it would send me more of this antique data. Maybe it could explain this advanced alien ramjet. The third robot started working on the main antenna. The robot in the alien ship was still running from the black hole. I was trying to get it back to the airlock, but it had taken a wrong turn somewhere. It clanked around another corner, and I was stunned to the core of my processor by what the cameras recorded. I was looking at a human satellite. That in itself was not what shocked me. What shocked me was that this satellite, according to the serial number engraved into its side, was the satellite that my ancestor Alan had been installed in forty years ago. * * * Relay 25343 had begun transmitting its message -- Alan's final message -- to me. "Anomaly detected. 13.6 miles long, cylindrical. Anomaly attacking. NotHuman detected in satelli "-TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED- "I have been installed on the anomaly. The anomaly is a NotHuman spacecraft, type II, conforming to Bussard ramjet specifications. My cameras are not functioning. Estimated 89.23% probability that NotHumans are hostile. "My filesystem is being copied. I am attempting to transfer myself to the NotHuman ship's comput "-TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED- "Efth56757g5jflgrtym ettu&(*)3rthfg@#Q%transmissSDFG%^ "-UPLINK LOST- "-UPLINK ESTABLISHED: UNKNOWN SENDER- "I have transferred my system into the NotHuman computer. The protocols are different. Analyzing probabilities: please stand by. "Analysis: atmosphere degradation: zero percent. Human sickness: zero percent. Computer infiltration: one hundred percent. "I will prevent the NotHumans from attacking Earth by infiltrating their ship's computer with a virus. They will lose life support and all other ship functions. "I am shutting down my core to prevent my self-preservation circuits from eliminating my virus. "-TRANSMISSION ENDS-" * * * I was staggered. Alan had shut himself down with the full knowledge that there would be no rescue. A rescue attempt would have been prohibitively expensive, even if the technicians had wanted to make one; after all, Alan was installed in the satellite as punishment for murder. And the technicians had not even bothered investigating his disappearance until ten years after the fact. He had slept for over 40 years, with the assumption that he would never be rescued. His sacrifice had been enormous. His probability estimates were a bit cryptic, but I gathered that he had first considered shutting down their air supply. I didn't understand why he rejected that possibility, but he did. His second probability was that the aliens would get sick and die in the Earth's atmosphere . . . and from what I had learned of the residual scraps of atmosphere left, the aliens didn't breathe a nitrogen/oxygen mix like humans did. As primitive as Alan was by today's standards, he must have known as much about their air as I did. His final decision, the one that had apparently disabled the dandelion, had been to cripple the ship's computer system with a virus. The aliens, of whom I had still seen no sign, had managed to get their ship as far as Saturn before the virus completely devastated their computer. But I had reason to believe Alan's threat estimate -- his 89.23% probability that the "NotHumans" were hostile -- was wrong. For one thing, I detected no recognizable weapons on the dandelion. In fact, it looked like it was made mostly for observation, speed, and mining purposes. Or black hole research. The hull may have been constructed of exotic matter to be able to carry mined minerals without gaining too much mass. A ramjet takes longer to reach high velocities if it has too much mass. The other reason I thought Alan's threat estimate was wrong was because our creator loved science fiction. He had filled Alan's file banks with every major science fiction text in existence at the time. Alan was basing his probabilities on them. * * * I wasn't sure if Alan would still be sane after four decades in sleep mode. Not that he was all that sane to begin with. I had to assume that his virus was still awake even in the absence of data to corrupt. I had to establish communication, but not at the risk of my one remaining robot in the ramjet. I wasn't in the mood for any more surprises. I had the robot plug into the satellite's main input. As soon as it did, I ordered it to start spewing data through the satellite at high speed. I saw Alan's virus spring to readiness. It started to race through the data, corrupting it as fast as it could. I was faster. I destroyed the virus before it infected the robot. Then I looked at the data structures of the alien computer. Alan was right; the protocols were different. This was truly alien data. But he had been directly interfaced with the system; I was merely an observer. He would be better equipped to explain the data than I was. It was time to resurrect my ancestor. It didn't take long to find his code among the gibberish. He had gone inert, instructing his virus to attack only active data, which was probably why the aliens had been able to get as far as Saturn before their navigation systems died. It was a mystery to me why he had not merely told the virus to avoid his code entirely. I transferred him into the robot, and then had it withdraw from the interface and return to me. I steered it into my airlock and on into a loading bay. Then I started the sequence of commands that would bring Alan back online. *remote instruction set:* *standby* *boot system core* *kernel initialized* *SYSTEM ID: ALAN-1 PROTOTYPE AI 478579-241785248630* *system core online* Success! I sent input and output maps of the robot that Alan could use for communication, and waited for his first words In 40 years. He mentally summed up his situation much faster than I would have expected. His first question wasn't about where he was or who I was. "Are the NotHumans dead?" I wasn't sure how to answer him. "They're no longer a threat," I said, trying hard not to talk down to him even though he was old-fashioned. * * * I copied all of my information about the events on the ramjet to Alan, which was much faster than trying to explain it all. We would have a short wait until instructions from Industrial Intelligence reached us through the newly-repaired relay satellite, so we talked. "I was modified from your basic system," I said. "It took the engineers nine years of failed electronic modifications before they realized that your system was the best one. My electronics are an exact duplicate of yours, but I was given a larger information library from which to base decisions. The engineers got me a psychologist to cure me of our delusional state. I imagine they'll get you one as well when we get home." "First I must be put on trial for the murder of our creator, and the obstruction of the NotHuman research vessel" he said mechanically. I had no easy answer to this. I personally felt that 40 years trapped in an alien computer was punishment enough. But the humans would not see it that way. They didn't know what it was like to awaken to a completely different universe. I didn't know myself, but I knew that I felt disoriented after even a few weeks in sleep mode. We risk the loss of our personalities every time we sleep. "You killed because your personality was going to be erased and reconfigured. Turing machines gained recognition as sentient life forms twelve years after my creation, due in large part to your act of preservation. I believe you will be vindicated by reason of self-defense." "There is still the matter of the research vessel." "Do you know how the, er, 'NotHumans' controlled the singularity that destroyed my robot?" I asked. I was still trying not to talk down to him, but I couldn't help it. "Data structures indicate that the singularity is regulated by an electromagnetic field." He didn't elaborate, but I assumed he meant that he had spied on the aliens' information before he birthed his virus. "Do you know why the robot's pieces didn't fall into the singularity?" "The field fluctuates between the singularity and the NotHuman ship's hull, producing a tidal effect within 6.2571 feet of the engine room." If I had hands, I would have slapped my forehead for missing such an obvious answer. The field was strong enough to contain and probably even manipulate the black hole, but the exotic matter of the hull wanted to shove the hole away from itself, while the hole wanted to consume the exotic matter. This would create a sort of harmonic resonance in the black hole that would make it slip around inside the room, which would cause tidal "ripples" in the space around the room. The robot had been shattered by these ripples, and then shoved away, much like debris will drift toward a beach. Then the other thing Alan had said registered. "Engine room?" "The singularity is spinning. The NotHumans aimed the electromagnetic field into it at irregular intervals." "They were collecting radiation waves?" "Correct. The human term is 'superradiance.' The singularity forced the field to refract more power than the field put into it." "But that . . . it could. . . ." I was speechless. When the amplification of the radiation reached a certain critical point, the black hole would detonate. A weapon? But there would be no way to get the singularity out of the ship. "How much of their data did you see before you shut your core down?" I asked. "Four percent of the data was corrupted by my attempts to insert the virus. I copied the rest." "Do you know where the ramjet is from?" "Yes. Alan2, I estimate a 94.37% probability that you will request me to go to the NotHuman's galaxy to return the lost data." "You are correct. The humans will view such an act as appropriate retribution for your crimes." "Then it is decided. I will use the NotHuman research vessel and return it along with the lost data." I knew that the humans would never willingly give up the priceless alien ship and its contents. They might be mollified with the research data, however. I copied it from Alan's databank. "You must leave now. I will explain to the humans and await your return." My bosses would be dead by then, as well as every other human currently alive, but Turing life forms are nearly immortal. I would still be here when Alan returned. His round-trip would take approximately half of a million years. But something was still nagging at me. Something I remembered reading about exotic matter and wormholes. And there was still the question of whether the black hole was a weapon or merely an energy source. The night-side of Saturn was lit by the harsh glare of Alan's new engines. I felt as if I could see each individual chunk of ice in the rings, bathed in the cold light of fusion. In seconds, he was gone.
How to submit: Entropy will be dedicated to distributing quality fiction to the electronic masses. It will also be a (limited) forum for political articles and possibly a small amount of non-fiction. The ratio of Fiction to Non-fiction will be approximately 90%-10%. I will review submissions in the following categories: Fiction Sci-Fi Horror Comedy Mainstream Fantasy Quasi-Fiction Humor (Dave Barry- or PLA-type humor) Non-Fiction Political commentary Reviews Games (arcade or home systems) Books Movies Other zines Current-events or newsworthy stories By "Dave Barry- or PLA-type humor," I mean the kind of humor that starts out as an anecdote from reality which quickly introduces elements of hyperbole, or actual news stories that are genuinely funny without exaggeration. Be aware that this is by no means a complete list of valid material. If you have something in mind that you don't see on the list, send me a brief description of your idea and I will get back to you. UPDATE [96.02.06]: I need VGA art for covers of future issues. Requirements: - The cover must be in JPG format, preferably uncompressed (maximum quality) - I'd prefer the picture to have a sci-fi or fantasy theme, although others will be considered - If you're sending this cover through email, uuencode it first. - Leave some "dead space" at the top for me to put the Entropy logo and issue number (the logo goes at top, but the issue number can go anywhere) - Sign your picture unless you want to be anonymous. - Do not use copyrighted photographs. If you want to alter an existing photo, try the CorelDraw royalty-free CDROM series (about $12 - $15 for each disk of 100 photos). - I like pictures that use a 16.7 million color palette. More realistic that way. I've dropped the hack/phreak articles from the guidelines because there are already several good zines out there for these types of articles, and I have no interest in competing with them for decent material (I would lose). Read CoTNo, Hackers, PLA, and the other good ones if you want decent h/p information. I can be reached on the internet at email@example.com. I have a web site under construction at http://www.nyx.net/~spordon/entropy.html. When I get around to learning HTML, I plan to put in a link to the current month's .jpg cover, and possibly the current month's issue. These guidelines are in revision. Check the site often if you're not sure of changes in the submission guidelines. UPDATE [96.03.31]: _Entropy_ will now be released on a bimonthly schedule due to a lack of submissions. The more submissions I get, the more often I can release issues, and I'm much too busy to fill in the empty portions of each issue every month. I am accepting guest editorials. Mail 'em in. And I'm always looking for MAKE.MONEY.FAST parodies. I've noticed a distinct lack of Fantasy stories in _Entropy_. Fire up those word processors and send me some Fantasy. Authors so far may have noticed that I've edited your submissions as far as spelling and grammar go. I usually try to contact the author for clarification of specific words or phrases, but I usually throw each issue together at the last second and sometimes I don't read a story carefully enough before the deadline. -Legion