But all is not as it seems. They’ve been set up by someone preparing them for a great destiny. What the boys capture is Dark Energy. It moves galaxies. But can it move the human heart? The brothers suffer a spiteful sibling rivalry and it causes them to overlook a conspirator’s devious plot until too late. If Jonny and Jody can’t resolve their differences, their home, family, even mankind may cease to exist. For the brothers, however, “reconciliation” is a planet they have never visited.
The Beginning I’ve read and seen all the great sci-fi from Isaac Asimov to Arthur C. Clark and Captain Video to Star Wars. Many authors, as in Star Trek, do an excellent job blending science fact with science fantasy. The makers of Star Wars, however, rarely explain their technology, nor need to; they use tech as matter-of-factly as we use batteries. To allow my characters to interact seamlessly with fantastical outer space and terrestrial locations, I sometimes replace sensible physics with daydreams. This is the beauty of science fiction.
For my book series Jonny Quest Saga, I decided extreme futuristic technology had already been done enough. So I chose near-future rather than distant-future, which meant late twenty-first century versus the twenty-fourth or beyond. The setting is 2091, when science quite possibly could perfect the many disciplines required for people to live and work in outer space. 2091 will also be a time when many of us will live and benefit from these eventual discoveries. And they will happen; science never stands still. Let’s look at how I make these possible even in the early twenty-first century.
The Science - Our society today has one basic energy resource―electricity. We use it in everything: home appliances, computers, medical and manufacturing machinery, even the watch on your wrist. We generate this power through hydroelectric dams, nuclear reactors, and generators powered by wind, water, or oil. But what about the future? Will we have enough oil to power our instruments? What if an unknown law of physics short-circuits all electricity? Could you cope without your cell phone? The Science Fiction – For my characters to live and travel in space, they needed a compact and renewable energy source. I gave them Qusion, a hybrid of electricity and plasma. Quterium, the core mineral, was discovered in the 2030 moon/asteroid collision debris. It was also found in the Yucatan Peninsula where the Chicxulub asteroid impact caused the dinosaur extinction. The secret to quterium’s ability is its unique atomic structure. Its atoms have nine electron shells, whereas today we know the maximum is seven shells (gold has six, iron has four, and so on). This also allowed quterium to replace silicon in microchips, which yielded an extraordinary sophistication in computing speed.
Artificial Intelligence The Science – Today, work goes on to develop practical artificial intelligence (A.I.). This will allow computers to be more autonomous but continue to support our growing society. But A.I. would remain a tool. Some prognosticators worry that it could go rogue, thus take over the world. I wouldn’t want my home computer telling me when and how to do homework.
The Science Fiction – In 2022, Doctor Joseph Quest perfected artificial intelligence by discovering quterium based microchips that enabled hyper-fast computing. He applied this breakthrough to his I.C.O.N. network which linked the computers in all the Earth’s industries to ease the people out of the world depression. But this ICON 1.1 version had a rather unusual side effect, which you will discover as you read the books. The 1.2 version had an effect I can happily share with you―the development of I/O, the first sentient android who mentors and protects the Quest twins, Jonny and Jody. I/O is also unique amongst the android population. He is a leader, friend, and hero to everyone and everything, except to the 1.1 software version, who hides and schemes within cyberspace.
Like us on Earth, my characters live and pursue their dramas in houses and buildings, but when in space they require more than brick and mortar. To sustain life they must have airtight structures and reliable transportation, plus they need to breathe, eat, and discard waste byproducts. No point living in space if you can’t flush the toilet. But when you do, you can’t just dump it into outer space. Life Support The Science – Currently astronauts are supplied with every need, and most items are recycled or returned to Earth. Water, food, and batteries are carried into space or replenished by unmanned cargo spacecrafts. Except for photovoltaic cells (solar panels) to generate electricity, we are not yet able to manufacture supplies in space. 3D printing could be possible, but raw materials must be launched into orbit as well. There may be a way, however, to utilize the raw materials already migrating through our solar system.
The Science Fiction – While excavating the 2030 moon/asteroid debris, large quantities of precious minerals were discovered embedded in the rock: iron, copper, gold, diamonds, even water. This spawned asteroid mining, now commonplace in 2091. Extracting these materials, especially the water, solved the problems with building habitats in space. (As seen on the Science Channel, we can test water extraction by heating a meteorite fragment in a sealed test tube and watch water droplets form on the inside glass.)
In 2091, a specialized machine provides life support onboard large space-based facilities. The Dynaempyrean Generator is six-hundred feet long and produces oxygen, water, electricity, and rocket fuel, plus it recycles human waste. Asteroid ore is ingested and conveyed to treatment areas where it is crushed and heated. The extracted water turns to steam and is then pumped through turbines. The steam is returned, condensed, and purified for consumption. A portion is separated into oxygen and hydrogen—O for the air handlers, H for thruster fuel and ore furnaces. Human waste is broken down through vacuum pyrolysis, which creates still more fuels and fertilizer for the astrocultural gardens. Spent ore is ejected back onto space barges and delivered to a local Mining Colony where the iron, copper, and other minerals are forged into building materials―pipes, panels, I-beams, etc. This intricate system is dependent upon an out-of-this-world group of ships. Transportation
The Science – The evolution of space flight came through various NASA programs, from unmanned satellites, single passenger Mercury crafts, multi-person ships used in Gemini and Apollo, to the International Space Station. So far, though, it takes months or years to reach our neighboring planets and moons, and man himself is not yet able to survive such long voyages. Finding a faster way to travel is NASA’s optimal dream. The Science Fiction – In the year 2091, space flight is as common as driving a car through town. Quest Industries (QI) markets an extensive catalog of commercial and personal starjets, which includes air and space worthy skyliners for StellarAir, sleek and agile Blacktip Fighters for SkyGuard, the Kestrel Class S1260 transport used by the Nimitz Space Station, and the Mining Consortium’s spunky two-seater Ritedozer capable of chasing and capturing rogue meteor fragments. QI is also developing Earth’s first gravity-defying automobile. Propulsion
The Science – The current type of engine utilized for launch and space flight maneuverability is a chemical based rocket. A fuel and an oxidizer are burned to create thrust. These solid and liquid propellants are made primarily of petroleum products. Future engines could be ion, nuclear, or perhaps fusion. Speed is the roadblock to reaching distant planets and stars. There is no doubt that one day science will achieve a reliable, cost-effective, and deep-space worthy engine. The Science Fiction – The quterium atom led to the development of Qusion Drive, a gravity-assist engine. Gravity binds everything―electrons to nuclei, atoms to atoms, planets to their suns, our feet to the ground―and it can be interactive. Within the engine, a quterium core is surrounded by an iridium shield, vacuum sealed, and exposed to microwave radiation, thus affecting electron polarity which shifts the magnetic field from parallel to anti-parallel, and that attracts or repels the engine and spacecraft to a planet’s or moon’s gravitation field, literally pulling or pushing a craft through space. So efficient is this process that mining barges reach and return captured asteroids within a few weeks.
Space Stations The Science – There have only been a few manned space stations, such as Salyut 1, Skylab, and the International Space Station. These are proficient research platforms but not ideal living quarters. Only much larger facilities would benefit and support human life, but modern science has yet to prove that centrifugal force, what generates the stable gravity we’d require, can be produced in outer space. Some suggest this force cannot exist because there is no gravity in space, while others contend planetary gravity fields would do the job. The Science Fiction – Terren Space Station is a classic wheel and spoke style structure spinning in Earth orbit. Its polished titanium rim spans five-kilometers in diameter and has four connecting tunnels terminating at a central satellite array hub. The rim section is 250 feet wide, 175 feet tall, and has four primary decks for its 5000 residents: (1) Command Deck - station operations, private business suites, and Terren Hotel, (2) Quarter Deck - residents’ apartments, Diversarama, and Arboretum, (3) Evasion Deck - housing one-thousand escape pods, and (4) Operation Deck - StellarAir docking bays, Quest Laboratories, SkyGuard Operations, Dynaempyrean Generator, and Cosmiquarium.
The Science – The human condition requires periodic rest and diversion from the daily grind. The International Space Station offers email, news feed, music, and an occasional digital movie. Video games are not allowed; they’re too distracting. But staring out the many windows at the spinning blue Earth below can be entertaining in itself. The Science Fiction – Onboard the Terren Space Station, teenagers enjoy the Diversarama, a virtual reality domed theater that utilizes iridolucent cell technology to generate live-action and interactive scenes. Gamers stand and control omnidirectional treadmills which simulate cars, starjets, and even surfboards. VoidSurf is the most popular game. Players “surf” stellar matter swirling around a massive black hole and earn points for avoiding rogue meteors and comets. Conclusion
There is much more to the Quest Universe than can be described in this short article, like anti-gravity Q Skates, Arc-cycles, the Bluepearl, Toid Com, Grout Creepers, and even the much maligned but necessary zero-gravity toilet. But you’ll have to read the books. Please check out the Jonny Quest Saga by visiting my website www.cjatticus.com, then take the book to your Commissary. A peanut butter and sardine sandwich awaits you.
C. J. Atticus