In Verse Proportion; Chapter 118, Kondor 214

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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 118:  Kondor 214
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 232

Kondor was still miserable, but the others were right about one thing:  life wasn’t going to wait for him to get over it.  He’d been persuaded to eat some of the fish one of the Slades had made, with some kind of vegetable.  It had been a few years since he was here, but it did have something of a familiar flavor.

“So,” he said, “I gather that you are guests of a university, and you give their engineering students information about machines they might invent, and as they invent these they patent them and sell them, which makes the university a lot of money and justifies what they’re spending on you.  Right so far?”

“Yeah, that’s the gist of it,” Slade answered.

“So, what did you teach them?”

“Well, I had to start by figuring out what they knew.  It looked like they had steam engines a little better than the Watt engine, because they were starting to use them for cars.  They also had electric generators, electric motors, and a couple kinds of chemical batteries.  I think they have electric cars, but these don’t go very far or carry very much.”

“So, they’re right at the beginning of an industrial revolution.”

“Right.  I gave them, let’s see, the telegraph, but they had to invent their own code.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

“Everything for hot water--the concept of water heaters, dual-faucet spigots, hot water radiators for heating systems, and some of the little stuff that goes with all that.  I launched audio recording, and they’ve got something like a Victrola on the market already.  We invented speaker/microphones to use in intercoms, and pushed forward to a simple telephone system.  It requires operators to connect parties, and doesn’t have the amplification needed for long distances.  For the telegraph, they use simple relays, the low power signal closes the switch for the high power signal, and the reverse down the line, so the distance is pretty much unlimited.”

“Clever,” Kondor said.

“They’ve built an atomizer, which they use for perfume, but they understand its application to fuel/air mixture for an internal combustion engine, which they’re working on.  They’ve got the spark plug, and a magneto system for small engines, working on a distributor for something more powerful.  Working on motion pictures, starting with a kinetoscope, and working on the light bulb.  They really just started on bullets--they’ve been using cap-and-ball muzzle-loaded rifles--and they’re aware that this concept will give them shotguns, revolvers, Gatling guns, and eventually automatic weapons.  Did I miss anything?”

“You’ve mentioned flying machines, m’lord,” Shella said.

“Right.  Of course, my concept of wings and propellers is pretty basic, and it’s going to take a lot of experimentation--unless you can help?”

“Maybe.  I know a lot about spaceships, but not so much about airfoils.  I can help with amplification--once they have light bulbs, vacuum tubes are easy, and that’s the starting point for a lot of electronics, even computers.  I might be able to teach them how to make semiconductors--transistors, diodes, eventually integrated circuits--but it will take a while.”

“As far as I can see, as long as they believe we’re giving them information that’s producing marketable products, they’re going to honor their contract and provide us with a fair share of the profits, usually in the form of material goods.  But of course, you can help with their weaponry, too, right?”

Kondor froze a moment.  Obviously, he could help with their weapons.  Slade had mentioned that they could advance to automatic weapons, and he had a rifle and a pistol that had such mechanisms.  His concern, though, was whether he wanted to advance their military capabilities.  After all, if they needed guns for hunting, a six-shooter and a Winchester rifle were more than adequate.  The only reason you would need an automatic weapon was to go to war.

“Do we really want to give these poor people our advanced weapons?  What about the Prime Directive?”

“The what?” Slade said.  “Oh, you mean that nonsense from that television show?  Frankly, I think the only time they ever mentioned that law was when they needed to find a way around it.  I figure they’re going to invent these things eventually, and we might as well be the ones who get paid for the invention.”

“That’s not entirely the point.  If we accelerate their weapons development programs, we increase their ability to kill each other.”

“Maybe.  But if we’re giving them to people who don’t want war, we increase their ability to discourage someone else from attacking them.  I mean, you’ve got quite a bit of fighting power yourself.  Would you attack someone who had a row of Gatling guns?”

“Probably not.  I suppose it depends on why I thought I should attack them, and who was fighting with me.  But you’re talking about creating an arms race.  I’m having trouble finding a good reason to do that.”

“There are always wars, Joe.  You can’t avoid that.  All you can do is make sure that your side can win them.”

He nodded.  That sort of made sense.  Anyway, he didn’t have to start with the military hardware--from the sound of it, they were just starting to work on a few simpler weapons, and he could work on basic electronics and see how far that took him.

“O.K.  I guess I have to meet some peop--er, some birds?”

“Yeah, well, we’ll work on that tomorrow.  You guys need anything for tonight?  The lights are gas, and I like to be certain they're off before I go to bed.”

Next chapter:  Chapter 119:  Slade 206
Table of Contents

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 #452:  Versers Ready.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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