Reign of Error: Chapter One

“…It all started when the first manned interstellar mission ever recorded was carried out by the society that had produced me. Ever recorded, because scientists had been unable to determine whether the feat had been accomplished by one of the earlier civilizations that had dominated our world. What scientists also had failed to determine seemed to be the last obstacle between us and the stars. No astronaut could be found that was crazy enough to boldly dash into the infinite depths of a universe of which ninety-five percent was missing! They sugarcoated their ignorance by using the euphemism ‘dark matter’ to describe the missing stuff. Finally, after weeks of campaigning, the Space Corporation found, in the Asylum for Depressed Veterans of Cybernetic Warfare, an entire squad of lunatics that was ready to do the job. And they found me. That’s where I learned to play chess.

Space is not all it’s cracked up to be. When the initial enthusiasm about the launch had subsided, interstellar space-travel turned out to be rather boring. Especially for a cleaning droid. In fact, I remember quietly wishing that our ship would run into a dust-storm every now and then. What I didn’t know was that my life was about to become a whole lot more interesting. But at that time there was little more to do than play chess with the crew. The excitement started when our ship collided with an asteroid whose course had been diverted by a sudden solar storm.

At first it looked like we hadn’t taken too much damage. Some bruised crewmen, a few scratches on the hull, that seemed to be all. But it wasn’t all. Two days later our artificial gravity suddenly failed. Guess who had to clean up the mess it made! But that was not the end of it. The following day, just when we passed this blue-greenish, medium-sized planet, our engines began to falter. The captain decided to try to land the ship, so we started a descent into the planet’s atmosphere.

This seemed like a good idea, but with our engines crippled there was no way to counter the planet’s gravitational pull. We rushed through a thick layer of clouds, and ground zero was closing in fast. At last – the lands below were beginning to take shape – someone came up with the idea to throw overboard unnecessary ballast. The thought at first seemed reasonable, until I realized that their favorite chessplaying-mate was to be cast away along with some redundant furniture. Before I could warn them of having to operate the vacuum cleaner themselves, those brutes had already thrown me overboard like a lifeless chunk of metal. Indignation turned into panic when I saw the image of the ship shrink to a miniature as I fell faster and faster towards the surface below…”

Read more about CD-2 in next week’s episode of ‘The reign of Error’. Don’t forget to subscribe to the updates on this blog so that you receive the next episode automatically! 

Click here to read Chapter Two of ‘Reign of Error’

About fbenedictus

Philosopher of physics at Amsterdam University College and Utrecht University, managing editor for Foundations of Physics and international paraclimbing athlete
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3 Responses to Reign of Error: Chapter One

  1. Elena says:


  2. Pingback: Reign of Error: Chapter Two | The Tricycle Down The Rabbit Hole

  3. Pingback: The reign of Error: prologue | The Tricycle Down The Rabbit Hole

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