Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Space is a Deadly Sister
Copyright 2010 by Gil James Bavel
Copyright 2010 by Gil James Bavel
I realized as I was freezing to death how beautiful Jupiter is from Ganymede's surface; beautiful like a huge spider watching me with one powerful, raging mutant eye. Hanging there in its web, space; coldly staring me down, which only added to the chill I felt from my failing spacesuit. The fuel was nearly extinguished, and I found myself doing the most ridiculous things in any attempt to stay warm. Rubbing my gloved hands together, going for low-gravity jogs. I was doomed. Even if I could reach Ganymede's terminator in time, I'd probably still freeze to death.
Jupiter's natural beauty was as little a comfort as it was undeniable. Still, my suit's heads-up display dimly read 12% on the fuel gauge, which meant I had 45 minutes, maybe an hour before I would succumb to the stark cold of open space. It seemed ironic that the one thing that I had an enormous supply of was oxygen, and it was a highly combustible resource. Of course, I'd have to remove my breathing apparatus if I wanted to ignite it. I had already run over every possible scenario countless times in my mind, and I was stumped.
Io came into view from one side of massive Jupiter, a small speck brilliantly lit by the sun. Why couldn't I be on Jupiter's other moon? I knew, of course, that we hadn't settled Io because of the atmospheric conditions and because of its radio trajectory toward Earth, but we did have mining stations and a few other facilities there. I'd made the Ganymede-Io run a few times--now there's an interesting feeling of vertigo, hanging between two tiny pebbles while racing past the gaping maw of the largest planetary body in the solar system. From here, it seemed even bigger than the sun could ever possibly be. From here, Jupiter looked like the biggest object in the universe. It was all you could see from such a low orbit.
It seemed like much longer than five years since we'd settled Ganymede. It had been discussed, budgeted, shelved, mothballed, reopened, reconsidered, shitcanned again, and finally implemented. Whoever figured out that terraforming Ganymede would be much cheaper and much faster than Venus or Mars was a genius. And by now quite rich, I should think. Too bad there still wasn't enough atmosphere to lock in heat. Early on, they had proposed an orbital dusting of carbon to attract light and maintain some temperature. It wouldn't work because of radio and other early technological considerations. Keeping the radio link with Earth and Moonbase was the top priority, in case something like what did happen happened.
The accident wasn't the company's fault, nor was there any mechanical malfunction or human error. When the tidal forces inside Jupiter's massive gravity well shifted, we experienced a major quake that, by itself, we could have weathered. There would have been some damage, but not the wholesale devastation to the installation that occurred when one of the fuel storage tanks ruptured in the shuttle bay. The chain reaction took out half of the lab--the main building--and explosive decompression took care of the rest of the job. I was finishing up my fieldwork for the week when it happened.
I saw Biggs and Marquis tumble past, dead before they hit Ganymede's rocky surface. I discovered that Lisa had lived for long enough that I regretted it; she'd scrawled a few words on her notepad before giving in, "I love you Will", written in lab marker. Her face so serene in death, her beautiful, long white neck looked so strange with her comparatively Day-Glo orange blood frozen to it. I found Devon still alive behind the glass of the multipurpose building we used as radio shack, supply storage, and occasional hideaway when we needed privacy. Devon and I had conversations through the glass about the proximity of ships in the area, how we could restore the radio transmitter, if there were any way to get part of my oxygen supply to him, things like that. It didn't seem fair that I was out here and had plenty of air, but eventually Devon opened the door and choked on nothing at all instead of his own waste Co2. It wasn't the first time I'd had to put the glass of my helmet up to the bay window of the building to talk with whoever might be in there; the radio in the building was the original one they'd brought to Ganymede, now a secondary transmitter since they'd had the new one in the lab. Actually, there was a backup in the lab that was better, but we were only supposed to turn it on during a radio emergency. The multipurpose building's old radio had been screwed up for months, and we'd put in for another last Wednesday, I know, because I'm the one that requested it.
But the company said it was just a luxury, and denied the request; I think it must have gotten back to them that off duty I used to walk the underground tunnel into the building, close the airlock and communicate with radio operators back home. Because of our proximity to Jupiter, I only had a 2-hour window to send and receive messages, and because it takes weeks for messages to go both ways, carrying on one conversation often took months. I'd come in and check the computer storage banks, see if anything had come in during the Jovian day.
Of course, I don't really think the company cared a whole lot. They never mentioned it to me.
I'd gone into the building, and the lab for that matter, and tried to leave a message on the computer for whoever might find us. The company would be sure to investigate on next Friday's run when they didn't hear from us. The power was out in the lab, and when Devon finally came out, his oxygen spent, I went in the building to see about leaving some kind of message, but if you've ever tried to use a keyboard inside a spacesuit, it's pretty Godamn difficult. I eventually opened up a long-obsolete paint program and drew letters with the hands-on pad.
"Installation compromised by tidal shift," I'd scribbled, "William Jensen only survivor of initial damage, and I'm going soon." It felt funny leaving a message for someone to read after you'd died. "Mortician:" I'd almost added as an afterthought, "allergic to formaldehyde." When I was done, I saved it and shut the computer down to save energy in case I could figure out how to jury-rig a link to my spacesuit's system in the next three hours or so. It came down to tools. If I'd had the right tools, I think I could have tapped power from the multipurpose building's generator for long enough to survive until the Friday run showed up. Of course, by that time, my suit would have been full to the knees with my organic waste product (I'd always hated that company euphemism); it wouldn't have been very comfortable, but I could've made it. The tools I required, if they hadn't been melted or disintegrated in the lab blast, were probably halfway to the other side of Ganymede by now. If I had long enough, I'm sure they'd have floated past. They'll find them someday and know that they're proof of previous life on Jupiter's moons. "Spanners of the Gods;" I can see the headline now.
As it was, I had forty or so minutes, and I had run out of options.
I wondered if I should stay close to the installation, so it would be easier for them to find my body, or maybe go for a walk. The temptation to go on a final, last visionquest was irresistible. During the 3 and a half years I'd been here, I'd only ever seen Ganymede from the installation, the shuttle, or the Friday run ships. We're not supposed to take walks. Nothing to stop me now. I might even find one of those alien spanners.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
BAD NEWS FOR UFO ENTHUSIASTS
(and Truthseekers in general)
(and Truthseekers in general)
Gil Bavel, reporting for
Nobody in Particular
While Rupbert Murdoch's acquisition of the Wall Street Journal may cause alarm for those that play the markets, UFO enthusiasts have something to lose in the new deal, too--credibility.
Among other things, the Wall Street Journal has long been one of the last bastions of UFO fairness in reporting and resisted being one of the papers bought off by the government media lockdown on UFO information.
Now, with the purchase of said news outlet by NewsCorp, the most notorious of easily bribed companies, which spawned the likes of Faux News, long described as the company to profit the most from distributing the news the Bush administration most sees fit to print (or most worthy of wrapping fish), Wall Street will no longer see fair reporting on the likes of Budd Hopkins or the Phoenix Lights.
Long after Ted Turner, once a bulwark in the UFO field; a maverick who bucked the government blackout of UFO reports and information in his media juggernauts, TNT, CNN and even TCM gave out, sold out, and kept his mouth shut for a monthly wad in his pocket (I'll leave the innuendo up to you), the Wall Street Journal continued to publish insider reports on the FRONT PAGE of their paper. They probably knew that over 77% of Americans believe in UFOs and over 50% (according to Roper polls reported in the Wall Street Journal) believe that we have been visited by aliens more than once. The same Roper poll reported that nearly that many, 45%, believe that one in ten Americans have been abducted by aliens, although they may not have clear memories of them.
Ever since the "Washington Merry-Go-Round" in 1952, New Yorkers, Washingtonians and East Coasters in general have had cause for alarm when it came to light that flying saucers, especially ones due to which our Air Force-scrambled fighters either couldn't keep up with, or, on instructions from higher-ups, were told to shoot down, were buzzing the skies over the restricted airspace corridor over D.C. with impunity, and in some cases even powerfailing entire nuclear missile installations with rolling blackouts that included control codes.
Fortunately for the UFO occupants, and maybe for us as well, no UFO has ever been acknowledged by the Air Force as successfully brought down by such an attempt, although there have been pilots of American aircraft that never returned home from such missions once sent off on such dangerous orders. Surely if "they can get here from there" they have the technology to fend off a little sidewinder missile or two. In fact, there have been several cases of U.S. fighter pilots ending up on the losing side of such cases, their remains sadly never located. Even the planes in these cases were lost without trace.
But, the days of us being informed by the Wall Street Journal of these kinds of incidents is over. For only $60 a share (plus legal fees), the Bancroft family has capitulated to Murdoch's unscrupulous scheme to bring down the last of the East coast independent media, the one and only truth-teller that could not be intimidated by the government, the New World Order, or the people that slipped the mickey into Jimmy Hoffa's drink.
And disclosure, the ever-nearer promise claimed by those like Dr. Steven Greer, Steven Basset and others to be right around the corner?
Well, don't look now, but I think they're being approached by men in black with heavy Australian accents.
Nobody in Particular,
This is Gil Bavel.