A Cyberpunk Book

Blood Orbit: A Gattis File Novel, by K.R. Richardson, was published in 2018.

The first sentence is: “Matheson! Get here now!

Blood OrbitEric Matheson is a rookie cop. He’s not a Police Officer, however. He’s an “Ofiçe” – an employee of the Gattis Corporation. He doesn’t answer to the law. He answers to the will of the corporation.

Matheson is stationed in Angra Dastrelas, the capitol city of Gattis, a planet entirely owned by the Gattis Corporation.

Late at night, in an ethnic ghetto, Matheson and his Training Ofiçe, Santos, discover the scene of a mass murder in an after-hours club. The Gattis Corporation decides that the crime is worth investigating.

Matheson is assigned to assist Chief Investigating Forensic Ofiçe J.P. Dillal in the investigation of the murders. Dillal has been recently fitted with new, untested cypernetic implants. Dillal’s doctor says it’s too soon for him to leave the hospital. The Gattis Corporation says otherwise.

It becomes apparent to Matheson that his actual assignment is to “babysit” his new partner – to watch over the new cybernetics, and make sure nothing goes wrong. Matheson is dedicated to solving the crime, however.

Angra Dastrelas is a city with a strong ethnic class structure. Dillal is “mixed”, with both parents of lower-class ethnicity. Dillal receives a lot of verbal abuse from his fellow ofiçes. The fact that he’s half robot doesn’t help his status.

Matheson is fresh out of the police academy. His assignment to Gattis, his training with Santos, the discovery of the murders, and his assignment to Dillal, have all happened in less than a month. Dillal trains Matheson in the art of forensics. He teaches Matheson to think like an ofiçe – to evaluate by what he observes, rather than by what others have said.

When rookie ofiçe Matheson investigates the possibility that the murderer could be a fellow ofiçe he becomes even more hated, and the subject of worse abuse, than Dillal.

Blood Orbit is around 490 pages long, and covers roughly eight days. It’s a complex, multi-layered story. It’s an excellent piece of world building. Gattis is a terraformed planet with a rich history, multiple dialects, and diverse geography. It’s a very believable place.

Of course, I won’t tell you who committed the murders, or why, but I will tell you that this is not the standard evil corporate conspiracy story. It’s something different, and something more complex.

Blood Orbit is classic cyberpunk – “low life, high tech” – a mash-up of noir and science fiction. It’s a wonderful novel.

I loved this book a lot.

Why I chose this book:

One evening, Phillip closed the book he’d just finished reading, and asked me what categories I had left.

I read down the list of categories I’d hadn’t yet completed for the 2018 Reading Challenge.

“Cyberpunk,” said Phillip, “This is the book you should read for your Cyberpunk book.” It just came out this year, he explained, and it’s by a local author. That book was Blood Orbit, by K.R. Richardson. Trusting his judgement, I put it on my “For Later” shelf at the library. I didn’t put a hold on it, because the book was available at a few Seattle libraries.

Later, after I’d finished a book about oranges, I saw that one copy of Blood Orbit was on the “New Book” shelves at the Central Library. I walked over from my office, during my lunch break, and checked it out.

Geographic Oddity

This morning, I took a different, slightly roundabout, way into work this morning. As I walked up Columbia Street, I spotted a building behind, and slightly to the left of, the F5 Tower, that I didn’t recognize. No, that wasn’t it, I realized. I did recognize the building, but it was in entirely the wrong location. Was I heading in the wrong direction? I felt disoriented, which is an uncharacteristic feeling for me.

I was looking at a dark, silver-gray glass building. The side facing me was curved, with a flat portion jutting out, almost as if it was two buildings stuck together.

Then, suddenly, I understood. I was mistaking this building for the Fourth & Madison Building, which is a dark, silver-gray glass building. It has flat sides, with a curved portion jutting out, almost as if it’s two buildings stuck together.

The building I was seeing this morning is the Madison Centre.

The two buildings don’t actually look identical, but close enough to disorient me.

(I don’t actually know the names of all the buildings in Downtown Seattle. I had to look these up later.)

On a related subject, my parents taught me that if I don’t know something, I should look it up. I was reading a novel this morning, before the building disoriented me. It mentioned a specific address. I had an overwhelming urge to look it up in Google Maps. I knew, of course, that it was a work of fiction, so the chances were good that the address didn’t actually exist. Still, I felt I should look it up. Sure enough, the address put me in the middle of an intersection in Manhattan. It was a fake address, but close enough for the story.

The Bear Rivers Monorail

The Bear Rivers monorail was intended to be a short shuttle between the planned neighborhood of Belmont and the Point Bear City Zoo. It was seen as a way to encourage commercial and residential growth within Belmont, as well as add a second entrance to the zoo, which would relieve the overcrowding on buses serving the zoo’s main entrance.

Belmont flourished. The monorail shuttle became so popular that other neighborhoods requested monorail access as well.

The city expanded the monorail line into two circular lines serving the majority of Bear River’s residents, and well as its commercial, industrial, office, and tourist industries. Because of the area’s geography, and also because the rails would be built through existing communities, the Bear Rivers Monorail provided many engineering challenges. Tracks often make sharp turns and run up and over hills. The sturdy trains can handle it, though.

tight bend

Let’s take a ride on the Bear City Monorail!

We’ll begin at Belmont Station, the monorail station that started it all.

01 Belmont Station

This is one of only two monorail stations in which the station came first, while the district was built around it. The tracks follow a green space, reducing the noise from passing trains.

The next stop is Point Bear Station, the station at the zoo.

02 Point Bear Station

There is minimal parking around the station, which meant that very little of the zoo property had to be given up.

Next is Riverbend Station, the most controversial station on the line.

03 Riverbend Station

The residents of the upscale community of Riverbend were not pleased with the idea of monorail tracks running through their neighborhood, especially since those tracks would have to be run over an existing street. The community action committee didn’t want a noisy monorail station, either. The city’s plan for a circular monorail was nearly killed, since engineers could find no practical way to run tracks around Riverbend.

Finally, after pressure from neighborhoods that wanted the monorail, the community of Riverbend agreed to monorail tracks through their neighborhood. Since they were being inconvenienced by tracks, it seemed pointless to not have a station, too.

Riverbend Station was built on the edge of the neighborhood. It is also the most used station on the line.

Because the massive Disaster Response Unit building lies directly in its path, the monorail has to make a sharp, uphill turn directly after the station. Trains have to travel very slow through this section.

The next stop is Horseshoe Bay Station.

04 Horseshoe Bay Station

This stop is very popular, largely due to the employees of Colossal Order. Horseshoe Bay is populated with office buildings, apartments, and a technical college.

Horseshoe Bay has a large green space. Monorail riders have a great view of it.

green space

Next is RockSteady Station.

05 RockSteady Station

This station is well used by employees of RockSteady Ore, Incorporated who don’t want to live next to ore mines. It also provides off-site parking for the football stadium. It is the least used station on the line.

The next stop is Industry Station.

06 Industry Station

This station serves a small industrial community. It also connects to foot paths leading to Bear Rivers Stadium. This is a popular monorail station during game days.

The next stop is Bear City Station.

07 Bear City Station

This is the second district planned around a monorail station. The station was built in a newly acquired open field. Road access was added next. Then a tourist district, with hotels and shops, was built next to the station. There is now a 5-star amusement park across the street from Bear City Station. This is a popular station.

Next is Intercity Station.

08 Intercity Station

Intercity Station is a very short distance from Bear City Station (the shortest distance between any two stations in the system).

two stations

Intercity Station connects with the Bear Rivers Station, a train line to neighboring cities. Tourists arriving by train can take the monorail to their hotel. Most, however, walk along a foot path under the train tracks.

The next stop is St. Peters Station.

09 St Peters Station

It is named for the adjacent St. Peters Medical Center. After leaving St. Peters Station, the tracks hug the edge of the mountain. The mountaintop community of First Hill has been left out of monorail service.

Next is Zoo Annex Station.

10 Zoo Annex Station

The Point Bear Zoo build an annex, and a monorail station was built to serve it and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Finally, the tracks curve through a wilderness area before returning to Belmont Station.

forest

We hope you have enjoyed this tour of the Bear Rivers Monorail.

Jacket Or No Jacket Kind Of Day

Today was Writers’ Group. The weather forecast called for a high of 71 (down from around 89 these past weeks) and isolated thunderstorms (as opposed to no rain since… I don’t remember when it’s rained last).

I didn’t know whether to bring a jacket or not. 71 isn’t that cool, but it may feel cool compared to the past weeks. And it may rain. I decided to bring a jacket.

I slung my jacket over my shoulder and walked up the hill. It was overcast and warm. Even without wearing my jacket, I was sweating when I rang Barbara’s doorbell.

Writers’ Group was just Barbara and me today. It was the first time I’d spoken to Barbara since Mom died.

I read four blog posts relating to Mom’s death. I read them off of my phone. I’d memorized the titles of the posts so I could easily find them, forgetting that the mobile version of this blog doesn’t have a search feature. So, there was a lot of scrolling involved.

I think Barbara enjoyed Mom’s jokes.

Barbara read a wonderful poem about blackbirds and black birds.

I had never talked about my family to anyone in Writers’ Group. Barbara and I talked a lot about our families and our histories. (As always, Writers’ Group was 10% reading and 90% socializing.) Barbara is very much into ancestry and family trees. My family has never placed too much importance on it, but I provided what information I could. I knew that Barbara has family ties to Nebraska, as I do, but I didn’t know until today that we both had family in David City.

When I said goodbye and stepped outside, I saw that it had rained during my visit. It was cool enough to wear my jacket, but I would have been comfortable without it.

I caught the 10 bus home.

It was a terrific afternoon.

Six Issues Of Eternity Girl

6 issuesI stopped into Phoenix Comics and Games, on my way home yesterday, and bought the sixth, and final, issue of Eternity Girl.

I read it as soon as I got home, but decided to put off posting my thoughts until today.

Eternity Girl has been a fascinating story.

Caroline is an eternal being with shape-shifting abilities. Things have gone horribly wrong, and she’s been put on administrative leave.

Caroline is suicidal, but she can’t die. She’s eternal. Every attempt to end her life has failed. (This is a DC comic, by the way.) Caroline is contacted by her arch-enemy, the very person she’d been hired to stop, who offers her a way to die. Ending Caroline’s life would mean destroying the universe. Caroline is conflicted.

Eternity Girl is a dark, twisting story about the nature of being. It’s about the conflict between preservation of self and the preservation of others.

Then I reached the end of Issue 6, and I was underwhelmed – maybe even disappointed. I was expecting something grander, something more thought-provoking.

Or, maybe I missed something.

Another Engineer

We started a new role-playing game in Everett today. I’m thrilled that we’re returning to the Star Trek universe.

I was looking forward to reviving my favorite character: José Yamamoto III, the hard-drinkin’, skirt-chasin’, borderline-screwup, Human engineer. However, the thing I was aware of, but didn’t consider the implications of, is this game is set in the Enterprise time line (in other words, when Archer, not Kirk, was the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise). José Yamamoto the First wasn’t even old enough to be serving on a starship.

So, I created a new character.

Screenshot_2018-08-05-15-25-28.pngHis name is Ahn. He’s a Kelpien. He comes from a world where his species is at the bottom of the animal food chain. He’s used to being hunted, rather than being the hunter. Kelpians live in constant fear. Ahn, like all Kelpians, is a vegetarian.

Ahn is not a fighter. His best method of defense is running away. Obviously, he avoids confrontation.

Ahn grew up on a farm on the Kelpien home world. Eventually, though, he came to believe that his mechanical skills (useful on farm equipment repairs) and his field medicine skills (useful on a planet where you’re the bottom of the food chain) could be of better use in Star Fleet.

Then he got assigned to MACO (Military Assault Command Operations) where he was handed a gun.

Ahn is going to be an interesting character to play.

When I discovered that I was going to be creating a new character, I wasn’t intending to create another engineer. But the dice rolls, the character’s background, and the game setup, lead Ahn into the engineering assignment. That’s fine.

It was Brian, Kathi, Jason, Phillip, and me today. The day was taken up with character creation, food, and no game play.

It was a fun day.