Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Command Module Officially on Sale!

         What next?  Well.... I'm sick, nauseous, and don't wanna work anymore right now.  Feel free to check out the PDF, though!

         See you later, RocketFans!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Previews of The Command Module...

         Due to lots of stuff coming up (such as intermittent power outages during storms all last week) I am revising the release date of the Command Module to July 1st.  This is firm; I'll be publishing on the first of the month from here on out.  This project lost a lot a steam, and so did the blog - I know.  But don't worry, RocketFans, I haven't lost interest, I've just had some obstacles fan the flames of potential burn-out for a bit.  I'll get over it.

In the mean time, who wants to see a rocket?

Biggest. Map. EVAR.

I'll keep you all posted!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Running Behind on This Month's PDF...

...Which is why I didn't post yesterday. It's looking like it will be Monday (the 20th) before this baby goes live. I hate to do it, but it's either that or compromise on the quality.
The reason this thing is taking so long is the sheer scale; I underestimated just how big a monster I was creating. I do have something to show, and you can see for yourselves how big it's going to be:
See...I told ya!
Anyway, I'll keep on at it RocketFans!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Movie!

         Just a quick post today...I found this on Top Documentary the other day and thought I'd post it, as it kinda goes along with what we've been talking about this week.  Personally, I think the scenario presented below is actually optimistic, as it doesn't seem to take the current economic crisis into account.  It would be interesting to see how such a scenario would play out if fabricators and an open-source paradigm were more prevalent in the coming years.

          Let me know what you think:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More on Fabricators, and Other Questions Answered.

Sorry Aussies...I don't like it either.
         I've gotten some good comments on Monday's post about fabricators and the re-ordering of society in the mid- to late- twenty-first century.  I'd like to address two of then today: The fate of Australia, and the possibilities of using open-source infrastructure in the future.

        First, Australia... I'm sorry to say that it doesn't look good.  When I was a Biology student, the environmental impact of severe drought, over population and the damage done to the Murray-Darling River Basin because of this lead me to assume that the smallest continent's days are numbered.  The simple fact is that Australia's carrying capacity is roughly ten million people, while the current population is over twice that.  When the effects of Peak Oil make using industrial agriculture impossible, the is little hope for the land down under.  There will be enough refugees leaving Australia's shores for New Zealand that there will most likely be a war.  Ironically, The nuclear phase of the Great War caused enough of a climate shift that Australia is more inhabitable in 2210 than it will be in 2110.  So in the short term, Australia's doomed, but in the end it will be a decent place to live.  Minus, of course, the Marsupials.

Emergency servers?

        Anyway, onto the idea of open-source infrastructure, which I take to be Internet by the people, for the people and all that jazz.  Power creation, water storage and filtration, and food production will have to, at least in the short-term, be decentralized and sustainable to the greatest extent possible.  Those fringe folks that are building solar panels, gardening their yards, and storing staples and whatnot are most likely going to become the mainstream of society in the coming decades as food transportation, power plants, and the other trappings of civilization become less available.  Let's face it, all of it runs on oil, and oil is running out.

          That being said, keeping the Internet going in the face of societal breakdown will be a higher priority than most people assume.  Look at the current demographics; one seventh of the worlds population is literally starving to death, half the population are in grinding poverty, yet eighty percent of all the people on Earth have cell phones.

          So yeah, I think we'll fight for the Internet.

          Most of you already know that I'm a big fan of open-source.  Everything here at Blue Max Studios, from my computer's operating system to the programs I create all of my products with, is free and open-source.  There are a lot of us out there, and we believe in open-source.  So if (or when) the global economy collapses and corporate controlled programs become unavailable and all of that stuff, people will make due.  It's staggering to think how much our current society depends on communication and computers.  We are going to protect it, and we are going to make our own if we have to.  Fabricators will factor into this, as there exist today circuit printers as part of the Fab Labs set up around the world.  If I had to guess (way outside my pay grade) as to what an open-source infrastructure will take, I would assume that hacking into the existing communication satellites and creating a secondary, free Internet using the remains of our current system will allow people to maintain contact even if the whole world gets dropped into the kacky.  My only experience with any of this come from my Army days in the late Nineties when I was trained to set up and maintain multi-channel communications nets in combat theaters from the back of a RAU.  So it can be done...
My old ride...the Army's Remote Access Unit.

         But I dunno.  Those of you RocketFans that are more knowledgeable about what it would take for people to maintain and continue the Internet in the absence of the major telecommunications are welcomed to comment, and we'll all get together and figure it out.  So, the Official Question of the Day:  Assuming the loss of Internet because of economic and societal collapse due to the lack of oil, how could we as individual citizens get the World Wide Web up and running again?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Will Fabricators "Flip the Map"?

What maps in The Black Desert look like:
         I've mentioned in several posts (and in practically every spacecraft PDF published so far) that fabricators are an essential part of the infrastructure in The Black Desert.  I've also mentioned that two of the three major "super-states" of the 23rd century are located South of the equator: The Union of the Americas (i.e. Brazil and everyone else) and the EurAfrican Parliament.  What I may not have mentioned yet is how these two factors are connected.  Let's talk about that.

          There has been a trend in the global North to out-source manufacturing to countries like India and China for decades now, which makes calling the developed nations "the Industrialized World" a bit of a misnomer.  The truth is, we have Service and Financial sector economies here in the States and in Europe and have these for years now.  Most of our stuff is made in China and India.  This is fine (for a given value of fine) because these countries are dependent of foreign oil as much as we are, and the world economy makes it difficult to bypass the US when trying to get to this limited supply of black gold.  Also, while most of the factories that supply the North with goods are in Asia, the companies themselves are still firmly in control of American and European interests, and it would take the collapse of the entire global economy to change this.  The point is, we do not make our stuff; we secure the raw materials from Africa and South America, the energy from the Middle East, and the manufacturing in Asia.  It's all one big dysfunctional global family.

Replicator: Don't hold your breath
         Fabricators are a game changer.  The interesting thing about fabricators is not that they can make almost anything, but that they can do so with very little investment and very little technical knowledge.  The Fab Lab program at MIT has set up this little jewels in some of the most impoverished, technically backward areas of the globe and the people there have been able to use these facilities to make what they need (as opposed to what marketing analysts think they need) with almost no training whatsoever.  This begs the question: If Fabricators, especially the open-source, self-replicating kind, become available in the undeveloped global South, what will happen to the balance of power in the world?

Fabricator: Already real.
             It's a complicated question.  The Black Desert assumes a certain chain of events based on a little logic, an analysis of current economic and political conditions, and (most important) a clear vision of how I wanted things to turn out.  So take the following with a grain of salt - I wanted Brazil to be a major power in the setting and the US to be a minor one.  I thought it would be a refreshing change, and therefore I've assumed events happening that, while plausible, lead to the outcome I wanted for The Black Desert.

             In other words, there is no need to take the following seriously.

             Starting a few years from now (2011), the Second Great Depression collapses the global economy.  This is caused by a combination of Peak Oil, the staggering debt crisis and the total lack of preparation to deal with either one.  As the developed nations become paralyzed (particularly the US), militaries are recalled to their nations of origin to deal with widespread civil unrest.  This leaves the Middle East, Africa and South America without significant outside interference for perhaps the first time since...ever.

              This turn of events also leads to the rapid development of Fabricators.  As global transport of consumer goods become increasingly more expensive, what are now curious little toys like the Reprap and Makerbot become more popular as one of the only reliable ways to actually get the things you need.  Nations like India and Ghana, which already have Fab Labs in place, continue to produce things like solar steam engines and other industrial goods in order to cope.  India and China form an economic alliance that uses the factories built by the West and this new technology to aggressively catch up with the rest of the world.  Because the US can no longer protect her interests in the Persian Gulf, The remainder of Mid-East oil ends up going to the Chinese Alliance in exchange for fabricated goods and military aid.  China and India get to the Moon using mass drivers supplied by China's copious power stations and new fission reactors, and while they cannot stay there in person, robotic mining begins to supply the Chinese Alliance with raw materials.

             In South America, Venezuela, which has resisted economic ties to the US for years, forms an alliance with Brazil and Argentina.  Brazil has the largest navy in the western hemisphere, outside the US, and has already developed nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines.  With Venezuela's oil to keep these military assets solvent, South America is able to develop in its own way while the beleaguered United States is left to its own devices.

          Starting in Ghana, the location of Africa's first Fab Lab, Africa begins to develop industrial infrastructure.  The advent of a solar-based energy solution (using parabolic mirrors and Tesla turbines rather than photo-voltaics) allow the native oil deposits to be used constructively to produce plastics.  This, along with Central Africa's supplies of conflict metals, let's Africa build a transportation web based on solar-powered electric stations and electric cars.  The political problem of the various African nation make progress slow, and constantly cause problems.

        While the US has effectively been knocked out of it's role as lone super-power, my home country still has a few tricks up it's sleeve.  Fed up with two party system, a Twitter revolution among the angry voting public finally succeed in electing enough third party candidates to Congress and the White House to wrest control of the nation from now bankrupt oil and financial industries. The American economy recovers when laws are passed that nullify private debt and  nationalize the Federal Reserve Bank (That's right, our monetary supply is currently controlled by a private for-profit corporation.  Surprise!).  America does not get into the initial space race to Luna and Mars, but we do regain economic clout by perfecting replacement organ production and other therapies which effectively double a person's lifespan.  Because protein synthesis can be accomplished so much better in free-fall, America gets into orbital stations in a big way, thus setting the stage for the next and last great economic bubble; the Asteroid Mining programs of the Destiny Foundation.

       So there you have it.  The Black Desert has it's roots in what is occurring here and now, like all science fiction should, and it also ends up going to a better place though the use of common sense, cooperation between nations, and the intelligent use of resources and technology.  If I had my druthers, I'd design a future that makes Roddenberry's vision of the 23rd century look like a post-apocalyptic nightmare.  Nobody would buy a future that bright, however, so I add liberal doses of selfishness, stupidity, and blind adherence to tradition to balance the equation.

        Anyway, I hope you enjoy this look into the future past, and I'll see you tomorrow!


Friday, June 3, 2011


...but I've been having more blood sugar issues this week.  Just for variety, my sugar has been dropping radically for no reason at all, instead of the reverse.  I hope to be able to resume normal service next week.

Have a good weekend, RocketFans!