Sheila wasn’t happy with the second crew member I’d printed. I was always a fan of the Gnarly Caribbean pirate, swash buckling tough guy, that sort of thing….so when I found in the bio 3d catalog this ancient mariner I printed him. Sheila gritted her teeth but had to accept the old salt. I’ve put him in charge of the engine room. I’m calling him the engine room hermit…on account of I’m restricting him to the engine room. He might get into trouble anywhere else. Sheila ask, “what’s his background, his experience? “Well”, I launched into a description of the hermit’s history. “He started as a cabin boy on the run to Mercury. Since then he’s tickled M-Drive engines from the edge of the sun to the ort cloud. “Is that it?” asked Sheila in a mocking tone. That’s a lifetime of plying the solar system, what more do you want. “Glen”, Sheila reminded me, ” The hermit’s entire CV is made up!” I cleared my throat, well, this is fiction. She agreed but added, “just as in real life, some characters are more real than others”. Nothing to object to there. The hermit of the M-Drive engine room had a thousand stories and he loved telling them. God knows on the long nights in interplanetary space its good to warm your hands siting at a holographic fire listening to stories of adventure on the briny vacuum. Space would supply the cold nights and the hermit the stories. Yes, I thought, The hermit can’t hurt the Engine because it’s made of robust fantasy itself, its impervious to doubt. The new millennium brought us the blessing of belief based reality. I’d not be on this ship heading out to Psyche to strike it rich without BBR, Believe me.
Trouble with printed characters is that they develop habits the author never intended. Like the hermit’s insistence that he needs a rum ration for his “Vacuum Fever”. I looked in the Cosmic PDR, Physician’s Desk Reference, the hypochondriac’s bible and concordance. Hmmm, Now what do you suppose it said about Vacuum Fever….ain’t no such thing. The CPDR suggested it was slang for malingering. The standard treatment for that is 40 lashes (Mascara extra). So he needs a flask of dark rum now and then. It can be printed. Just have to get around Sheila. Need to impress her with the fact that I am the master of the vessel, captain of this tub. So I assured the hermit I’d print a few pints to hold him over.
My daughter has ask if I’m busy, If I have enough to do. Really there is too much to do on this first leg to Mars. Too much to do but even more time. Even with the miraculous M drive it takes forever to move around in this tiny little solar system. The aliens laugh there heads off (several, but they grow back) when they hear we move with reaction thrust engines over hundreds of millions or even billions of miles. It should be embarrassing, still haven’t mastered FTL, faster than light. The aliens scoff and joke about us, “Those Earth people shouldn’t leave their driveway! if that’s the best they can do!”. But if I can’t imagine FTL how am I going to create it? “Sheila!, Sheila, what about it?”, About FTL ? she asks innocently. Yes, FT freakin’ el, She enjoyed winding me up while monitoring my vitals. Glen, you’re stuck with conventional physics here. The M-Drive being a special exception, something critical to driving the story arc. “Conventional Physics!” I wined. “That’s the deal”, Sheila said softly but firmly. My only chance is to come up with something with Muons or up down sideways Quarks, some loophole in the laws. Einstein didn’t deny Newton, he filled in detail. Some trick, an angle, a way. I just know there are really great planets out there. The right gravity an Oxygen Nitrogen atmosphere in the goldilocks zone. But what use is it to have another Earth if you can’t get to it. Its like…I got a great beach place in Hawaii but I CAN NEVER GO THERE. Might as well not have it!