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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 35: Brown 206
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 179
Derek lost track of time as he worked at the computer, fruitlessly trying to find these hand-held computers, where they were stored, how to get them, even what they were. The only clue he had that they were there at all was that the Captain had said so.
That was odd, that the Captain could know that. It didn’t seem likely that it would have anticipated Derek’s need, and therefore it must have found the hand-helds in that brief pause while they were talking. Yet Derek couldn’t find them at all.
It struck him that the Captain, being an artificial intelligence, had a significant advantage: it could interface directly with the ship’s computer and get information inputted directly to its memory circuits. Derek couldn’t do that--but his computer could do that. He’d done something very like that with his computer already. If he connected his computer to the ship again, he could have the computer do the search. That wasn’t as good as doing it himself, but it was undoubtedly faster. He could type pretty quickly, but not as fast as thought.
Then he wondered whether he could go one step better. Could he connect his brain to the computer, and so do essentially what the Captain did?
There were a lot of problems. The obvious way to do it would be to run microfibers into his brain and somewhere put a socket on his skull so that he could plug into the computer directly. This would require a level of study in neurology beyond anything he had ever undertaken, and the resources for that were not going to be found in this world--that is, they might once have advanced neuroscience to a level beyond what was known on earth when he left, but it would all be related to their brains, which he already had reason to believe were different from his. Besides, he didn’t have a surgeon available, and while early surgeons were known to have operated on themselves, it was unlikely that anyone could do brain surgery that way, and certainly he couldn’t.
However, he had worked briefly with biocomputers on TerraNova, and done some study in the field. He had some notion of how to connect an organic system to an electronic one. And besides, maybe he didn’t have to wire it into his brain. Back home they already had electroencephalograms, machines that read brain activity by touching points on the skin of the skull. Some kind of headpiece that held contacts against his skin might be sufficient to transfer data from his brain to the computer; could it work in reverse? Perhaps very carefully focused alternating magnetic fields could generate currents in his head that his brain could understand as thought. Then he could use a Wi-Fi connection between the headpiece and his computer to connect to that, and he could connect his computer to the ship’s mainframe to access files there, with his computer as a buffer.
This was going to be a lot of work--but if he could do it, it would solve a lot of problems. He would need to put in a sort of stress circuit breaker--kind of a botch protector, that if the machine was overstressing the brain the system would shut down, and have to be reset to continue. He was going to need a lot of parts, including probably a couple of those mini computers to include at the headdress end.
He sighed. This would be good, but it wouldn’t be soon enough. He was going to have to build the translators first. That meant he was going to have to find those hand-helds--but not today, he had already shorted himself on sleep. Vashti was already asleep. He quickly changed and joined her.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #437: Characters Relate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: