This is the public log of DeeDee 'dzyjak' Jackson, a fictional character. DeeDee lives and works aboard a space station which orbits Saturn, and sometimes he writes about it.


Doc Hester's Fundamentals

I took Pipster to see the Doc. I simply had to ask about the row of whisker-like quills growing all the way down the cat's back and tail.

At one point during the examination, Doc took out a strong magnet and moved it through the air above Pipster. The cat lay down her ears, twitched her new quills, and released a lingering growl.

"There's nothing to worry about, but it is certainly fascinating. Thank you for bringing her here."

"It just doesn't seem natural to me," I said.

"It's this way, boy," Doc Hester said, pulling the magnet away. "Life is here to make changes. It's what we do. We store energy, we change it's direction, and we release it to make changes in the universe. Space ships were invented because many thousands of years ago one of our ancestors noticed he or she could drag a desired object which was too big to carry. It's all natural, boy. All of it."

"You designed these things," I said, pointing at Pipster's back. "Mistakes happen. Maybe you..."

Doc actually laughed uncontrollable for about two minutes. She wiped at her watering eyes and gasped out "sorrysorry" between bursts of ear piercing guffaws. Still out of breath, she said at last, "I found a tiny symbiotic life form in Saturn's Rings. It's sentient."

"Whaa..." I looked down at Pipster and stared at the quills vibrating along her back. I thought about giant vines growing out of ice, and had discovered a motive for the strange activities of one chimpanzee named Curious. This reminded me of Kelly and what she calls The Personality Thieves--which naturally led to thoughts about Ion Jack's environmental system. "Those things have taken over my spaceship," I objected.

This inspired another round of apologetic giggles which trailed off breathlessly. "Didn't intend... you invited..."

After I had a few seconds to think about it, there was no way I would give up the freshest air this side of a hydroponic park. "I guess so," I said.

"I'll try to explain later if you like," Doc said, shooing me out the door. "Take Pipster home and get some rest.

"And don't tell anyone," she shouted after me.


Spin Off

The mag-gyros have been powered down. The timing surprised me. We expected it to happen six or seven weeks ago, and then it felt like it would never happen.

It will take about five weeks for spin to stop completely. We have about three weeks to transfer our lives into little boxes which we plan to spin on a string most of each day.

Sorry. I'm feeling a bit metaphorical, and have been consuming alcohol. To sum it up, I'm very drunk. Not in celebration--never for this. Remember how much I hate this idea? It ain't natural for a space station not to spin.

I achieved my present condition at Rick's place... Counter-spin. Him and his chimp (Envro-tech Misty is what Rick called her), and an uncountable but reasonably small number of cats (and some mice... which seem to go with the cat trees and I'll explain when I'm sober) are headed for a 'ice mass rendezvous' or some shi... He's leaving, and I will miss his unique perspective.


World Reliance

When I was a child, my Nana worked the spot maintenance crew for our section. This consisted of 27 apartments, three feline habitats, and one social club.

Nana wasn't much for cats. "Cats are cats, boy. Cats fight as easy as they play, and they don't do either unless it's their own idea," she would say. Then she would add, "Don't let that stop you doing what needs done for them. They don't know we take care of the world, and probably wouldn't like it none if they did."

But Rat Bane knew. I could see it in the way he glared at me the first time we met, and the way his tail always lashed against the air. He had always known, and Nana was right, he didn't like it none.

Don't feel too bad for him. Rat Bane has claimed my spaceship, and I suspect a conspiracy involving Curious, the other two cats, and possibly Doc. Why would a cat need a vac-suit? I don't know what else it could be.

Like the one Curious wears, it looks like an exoskeleton, only for a cat instead of a chimpanzee. The spikes on Bane's upper spine are slightly magnetic, and they fuse to Bane's living vac-suit when he's wearing it. The suit's tail and feet are magnetic also, and Bane doesn't take it off when we are in freefall.* Bane's new magnetism has Paula so fascinated that I'm feeling a bit neglected, but at least Bane is no longer angry all the time.

  • I still haven't worked out how he gets in and out of the suit. He does it without human or chimpanzee assistance, inside his favorite tree root. I'm fairly certain no one has seen the suit unless Bane was wearing it.
  • Most cats don't like freefall because they need to feel where they are. The vac-suit Bane wears appears to provide some replacement for 'down.' Whenever we are in freefall, Bane bounces around in a frenzy of armored joy and gets into places and trouble beyond his wildest dreams.
  • Paula believes the magnetic crest along Bane's upper back is the key--plus she keeps going on about having designed it as a collar. (Like anything ever goes as planned.)


Spiked Attitude

"What the hell did you do to Rat Bane?" I shouted. Curious and Paula both leaned away from my angry glare, but I'm fairly certain that was a grin on the chimp's face, and not a threat response.

Paula said, "We did nothing against his will."

"Against his will?" I asked, still shouting.

"Stop yelling or this conversation is over," Paula said calmly. I knew she meant it.

"Fine," I said, after a couple of deep breaths. "Did you get written consent from a cat?"

Paula looked at me with a frown. "What are you talking about?"

"Those spikes growing out of his back," I said, taking more deep breaths.

"Spikes?" Paula asked, looking around at Curious.

Curious shrugged, but I wasn't convinced.

"What did you think I was talking about?" I asked sarcastically.

"The new atmo-suit," Paula said, standing up. "But we don't know anything about spikes, Dee."

"Bane was chasing something through my workshop. I wouldn't have given it any attention, but he looked strange. He has spines..." I paused and pointed at Curious, "Like that thing Curious has growing on his back, only it's a lot bigger on Bane, like a ridge of five or six horns."

Paula turned to look at Curious speculatively. "Those things respond to their symbiont's needs. I don't think Rat Bane is in any danger."

"I don't want you using my cats like lab animals," I said. "Get that thing off of him."

Paula laughed at me. Curious just shook his head.

"We can't take it off, Dee Dear, but if Rat Bane didn't like it, it wouldn't be there. The choice is his."

"How do you know he wants that thing growing on him?"

"Because... it's... still... there."

My ears caught up with my mouth and I said, "Oh."

But I was thinking, 'How the hell does THAT work?'


Relative Movement

The most important thing you learn in Station Tech 101 is movement is relative. The first day, my instructor droned on about inertia frames and relative motion for two hours. Anyone who lasted through the lecture without falling out of his or her seat was allowed to come back the next day.

During that lecture, I was trying to fix my voice recorder, so I didn't fall asleep once. Later, while feeling naked inside an ion-loader, I happened to flash on the lecture and began to suspect I had missed something terribly important which would keep me from falling into the ring plane.

I was orbiting the station at the time. The station was orbiting Saturn. Saturn orbits the sun. The sun orbits the center of the galaxy. How far (through space) do we move each day? I'm sure someone has figured it out. It doesn't feel like we are moving at all.


Building the World

Kelly and Doc have become good friends. I overheard one of their friendly conversations the other day. It went something like this, only I left out the parts which confused me.

  1. New ideas don't really exist. We polish them up and make a few changes based on what we have learned from failure, but most are simply variations on old ideas, or stories, or music...

  2. Ideas come out of language. Language comes out of society. Everything an individual understands about the world, and can express about the world, comes out of language and was formed by his or her social environment.

  3. We cannot discount the individual either. Once an individual has reached an understanding with the universe, he or she can add to the language, and can make ideas better. Individuals strengthen society.

  4. Language contains all ideas even before society becomes conscious of them. Individuals with ideas are simply Avatars of society, expressing the ideas which are coming clear to society.

The conclusion, at least as I understand it, is that society and language and ideas are all the same thing, and no matter how you say it, we are building the world just by talking about it.


Literary Paranoia

Kelly is what my mom would refer to as a 'New Spiritualist.' I'd always understood this to mean 'flake' until I met Kelly in person.

She wrote a book called Grok the Classics. This book, and the author herself, are banned from Mars and Mars-Metro Station. It's stupid if you ask me... something to do with her exploration of a classical novel involving fictional Martians. Martians are really up-tight.

I'm firmly confident that Kelly could be living in style anywhere in Jupiter System. Instead, she is planting fist-sized pods all over her apartment. At first, everyone thinks Kelly is a vac-head... a very lovable vac-head. The real truth is all about laser-like focus on the present. Kelly is a rival for Doc Hester in her conversational puzzles.

I delivered the third load of hydrofluid to Kelly's apartment personally.

"I thought you didn't like those things... the big ones anyway," I said casually, looking at the vine erupting out of a 2 unit hydro-vat.

"Silly Boy. It looked like something was trying to wriggle out of the ice. I would know if such a life-form had been discovered. I'm also working on a new book entitled The Personality Thieves, a study of classical fiction based on alien or spirit possession themes. Many of these stories end badly for the characters you know. I was lost in the thesis, and those seed-pods.... You should have told me what would occur."

"Exactly what I told Doc," I said. "So you think it's a good idea?"

"I never answer rhetorical questions. The answer would be meaningless."

I had to think about that for a minute. "Why do you think this is a good idea?"

"I spoke at length with Doc Hester," Kelly said, smiling like a proud teacher. "I will not pretend to understand the science behind her work, but have assimilated her plan and concur with her philosophies. I have no choice."

"All right," I said, none the wiser. I had to let her kiss my forehead before I could leave.


Ice Pods

Doc Hester's new plant is just another clue that life in Fort Falling is anything but normal. The seeds are as big as a vac-helmet. They grow into a large and sprawling vine which produces both runners and more seeds.

It seems that Doc Hester is letting Curious in on a lot of plans she hasn't told us lowly techs. When I asked her about it, she told me I hadn't been paying attention.

"I thought Curious was installing more devices like those cat trees," I said. "Besides, you should have told me what was going to happen. Yesterday Kelly called me in hysterics, babbling about alien parasites coming out of the ice. I thought she was going spin-happy until I went down there to look at it myself."

"Ah," Doc said with a nod. "My apologies. I hadn't expect such rapid growth."

"I'm fairly certain that hatch was flawed, but I can't prove it. Please tell me those plants won't be blowing out bulkheads and hatches all over the station."

"Those plants won't be blowing out hatches and bulkheads all over the station," Doc said, putting her hand over her heart. "They won't even grow unless they are rooted in ice. They like cold."

"All right," I said, and left. I wanted to ask questions, a lot of questions, but Doc finds it difficult to remember I know vac about enviro tech. To be honest, even if Doc is good company and all, I'd rather spend the time with Paula. Paula likes it when I ask questions. Really.