The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey

A Matter of Gravity
Jonnan West

      Just thought I'd mention this — perhaps I'm missing something, but if Sara's mass naturally exerts a gravitational field approximately 65 (10,000lb/145lbs) times that of earth, and she normally suppresses that gravity field for safety reasons, why would she need to use magnetism to 'grip' metallic object when she can simply hold onto them by slightly lowering the threshold of the gravitational field near the palm of her hands. Assuming that the palm is something like two percent of the surface area of the body, she would still be able to pull something towards her with about 1.3 times the gravitational power of earth. With the additional caveat of allowing her to focus that gravitational pull in a small arc without affecting objects outside that arc, she has a quite workable tractor beam, and could levitate objects lying in the space between her and the earth, with the additional fun side affect that, since it's a wide area effect, incurring no additional structural strain on an object that may already be damaged.
      One last thing does occur to me — it would be wise to use considerable caution, as the Earth itself might well be subject to tidal effects from this experiment. The Cryptoaliens might be upset if we accidentally blew up the planet. <G>

Ta Ta…

      Thanks for the letter. Have we corresponded before? I lost most of my email messages from the past year due to some kind of 'bad sector' problem on my hard drive. There have been a few hundred Susan-related emails in that time, so please forgive me if we had a thread going at some time that I should be referring to. In any event, I appreciate your interest in Susan. I hope you're enjoying it!

       We've never corresponded to the best of my recollection.
       Why would she need to use magnetism to 'grip' metallic object when she can simply hold onto them by slightly lowering the threshold of the gravitational field near the palm of her hands?

      Woah…! That's a great trick. I wonder why Susan (or Alex or maybe Jimmie) never thought of it. Are you a Cryptoalien checking up on me? ;) I hope you don't mind if I use it. Maybe I can work you into the story to give you a little credit for the idea. You ever work for NASA?

      …with the additional caveat of allowing her to focus that gravitational pull in a small arc without affecting objects outside that arc...

      That's some caveat. I wish I had access to Susan's manual to check it out. Alas, it seems to have been wiped out along with my email. I dunno if gravity can be focused like that.

      …it would be wise to use considerable caution, as the Earth itself might well be subject to tidal effects from this experiment. The Cryptoaliens might be upset if we accidentally blew up the planet.

      I don't think we'd be too crazy about it, either.

      This Signature brought to you by WESTECH (TM) International, devising incomplete solutions for impossible problems for over thirty years! See yet another useless WESTECH (TM) product at: 

      I had to bookmark your website. Loved it! What a terrific tool for finding the neat stuff on the Web! Like — oh, say — Susan. Which, uh, doesn't seem to be listed yet. I read your FAQ, so I guess I'll have to fill out the form — just as soon as I figure out exactly what category to claim for it. Let's see… I've got it:

"Classic science fiction as a character-driven series of nested parodies separated by political satire, social commentary and cultural observations within the framework of an ersatz fan-fiction homage and fantasy genre-bashing: a cautionary tale of a modern Prometheus."

      I think that covers it.

      Well, don't worry too much about the form — I've lost access to the site to update. Not a problem exactly — more the implementation of a long existing but previously unenforced policy at IUPUI. I'm currently working on how to reinvent the site on a different server, when I get off my butt and actually get to it anyway. Working for a living just plain sucks. <G> Thus the problem with the listing.
      Nonetheless, I liked your stories — you certainly have permission to use my name.
      As for the esoteric question of focusing gravitational waves in a specific arc, I can make arguments either way, given the theory behind the gravity manipulation she accomplishes in the story. The big question contains two separate problems.
      One: Spacetime must maintain a cohesive curvature, with no discontinuities. This means that the gravitational slope within the arc will not be a simple bounded arc, but will have a funneling effect, with a slope extending from the outside of the arc (Where Terra is the dominant gravitational body) to the centerline of the arc, meaning that the 'straight line' of relativity will be for items to first fall to the center of the arc, and then down the centerline.
      Two: Tidal stresses might have a very detrimental effect on items caught within the beam. Given the apparent mass of Sara, those tidal stresses could easily damage the Earth's crust over a large area, but intuitively I suspect that that could be compensated for. Other items caught in the arc might have much larger problems though. Interestingly enough, as I have this pictured in my head, the strongrst tidal stresses would be near the outer edge of the arc — the more severely bound that arc, the greater the slope of the edges of the 'funnel' composing the tractor beam. Obviously, if you're utilizing the capacity to produce an antigravity slope to spacetime (which I have some theoretical difficulties with but which is implicit is the model your using), then Sara can produce a repulsion field within the same limitations as described with the first model, i.e.: Items will fall up the centerline, and then out from it. I hope that's a good visual description of the process I have in mind. If it's not clear, all I can say is that it's 3:20 AM, a new Millenium, and I am both sleepy and fairly intoxicated — I can try again later. Good night, Have a happy Millenium, and tell Sara I said 'Hi'. <G>

      I think I got to your site from Diana's at one point checking for new sites.

      Diana the Valkyrie...!?! Whew… I can't imagine that they'd like my kind of story over there. So far, my character hasn't crushed a single man to death with her tits. I'm not sure my story could even qualify for a PG-13 rating. As far as I know, I'm only linked from some of the Aurora Universe sites, even though my stuff isn't really part of their canon (they seem to tolerate me in the Aurora Universe Writers' Group, probably because they feel sorry for me).

      Working for a living just plain sucks.

      That's why I stopped doing it. I can make enough as a bandleader and itinerant musician to eke by, supplemented with the occasional website construction gig here and there. Since my divorce a few months ago, I'm in a $300/month (bills paid!) apartment my sister is renting to me, I don't have any bills other than child support and a car payment, and I get my kicks writing (a friend who owns an ISP — Cyberhouse — comps me server space for the story).

      As for the esoteric question of focusing gravitational waves in a specific arc...

      Whoa...! Boy, I love this backstory stuff. Yeah, yeah… Pour it on…!
      I think I mentioned in the story that Sara cannot match the speed or acceleration presumed of DC canonical Kryptonians (Jor-El, Kara Zor-El, et al), which is about the only measure by which she comes up short in comparison. Partially because our planet has a relatively weak and diffuse gravity well (compared to, say, a neutron star), and also because she runs the risk of damaging it, she is constrained to have to get by with pulling only a few hundred g's and a top speed of just a few hundred thousand MPH. It will have to do, but it should be enough for most purposes. I think it only took her about fifteen minutes to get from the White House to Singapore — and only took that long because she had to hold her speed down in the atmosphere to avoid creating collateral damage on the ground below from hypersonic shockwaves.
      A real danger would be getting nearly stranded in deep space where the gravitational gradient is almost flat. I don't think Susan would allow Sara to get in such a fix, such as shooting away from Terra without a sufficiently massive destination. Of course, there's always a little bit of matter even in deep space, but you can imagine how long it would take a multi-billion-ton mass Susan to decelerate and turn around between stars.
      The chief objection I would have as an author against Sara employing some kind of gravitational tractor beam is a narrative one. Sara is just plain too powerful as presently constituted to deal with in the usual manner. There are plenty of other nascent super-powers of which she should be capable given her construction — such as shape changing. After all, she's basically a thin film of degenerate crystalline iron that is constrained to adopt her present shape by something analogous to a software routine. Change the parameters and — voila! — she looks like the giant robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still, or Lassie, or even a toaster.
      I would think that the reason the Cryptoaliens made her in her present image was to present her as the most harmless and friendly possible icon imaginable. She will eventually have to make an issue of her immutability to allay fears that she could assume whatever shape she wants. That would be frightening, working at cross-purposes to the image her creators so carefully crafted in the first place, so they presumeably have written her basic routines in such a way as to preclude her accessing these and perhaps other abilities — and 'dumbed her down' (Sara, anyway) enough to prevent potentially dangerous wholesale technological transfers to a primitive race like humans.

      The narrative question is the important one. Look at DC's pre-Crisis Superman, the man that destroyed the multiverse. <G> As a synopsis (in case you hadn't already heard the rationale), the primary reason behind the entire Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline from DC Comics some years ago was that DC's major character had become too powerful to challenge — he could move planets, travel through time, ignite stars, pass lightspeed, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. If your villain wasn't a mage or didn't have kryptonite, he not only wasn't a challenge, he might as well pack up and leave.
      As currently constructed, you are going to have similar problems if you construct any kind of physical challenges to Sara. The only forces that might in theory damage Sara are completely outside of Earth's practical grasp. A black hole would almost certainly do it, as might an antimatter explosion at ground zero. Anything short of these (Including thermonuclear devices) would not affect Sara on any level.

      Her most important powers, of course, relate to her vast computational capacity. The strength and flying and other stuff is just a byproduct of her underlying essence. She is, basically, a metaphor for the Internet, a Frankenstein's monster presently under construction by — us. She — the Internet — will have profound effects on all of human society and evolution in the next decades. Imagine a society that passed the equivalent of today's milestone a billion years ago. That's where I'm headed in this story, culminating in something approaching the metaphysical.

      Just as a notation, Sara's composition also has some other interesting properties. Assuming that her construction is in fact of ferrous neutronium, Sara almost certainly exhibits the property of having a single (albeit highly complex) macroscopic quantum state/waveform that governs her structure, rather than having a plethora of quantum states that govern her on the microscopic level. I'm not certain precisely what the effect of this would be, either in terms of the story or as a theoretical model, but it is interesting from a theoretical standpoint. Other objects exhibiting this include superconductors, supercooled helium, and neutronium, all of which tend to exhibit the effect by in some way violating the laws of entropy in a closed system: superconductors maintain current indefinitely, helium climbs surfaces rather than staying at the minimal level of potential energy defined by entropy, and neutronium is believed to exhibit similar properties. At a minimum, it would imply that, rather than operating in a digital fashion, equivalent to billions of processors operating in parallel, her operating system operates in a holistic fashion, capable of perceiving data as it impinges upon her single quantum state as a whole, rather than processing parallel data paths and adding them up to 'create' a picture of an outside object/entity.

      Fundamentally, I suspect that she has only the sense of kreening, which is filtered through her subconscious OS and presented to her conscious mind as separate senses in order to fulfill her role of passing as pseudo-human, though I have no idea how to prove it. Certain theories indicate that the human brain may have some of the same characteristics of maintaining a single quantum state, although they tend more towards the parapsychological end of the spectrum than the hard sciences.
      But I really like contemplating the possibilities. Your ideas about the shape of the gravitational gradient slope are very interesting. I hadn't seen this, myself — but it makes a lot of sense. It would be especially useful for managing some of her 'internal' processes, such as disposing of all the junk food she stuffs into her mouth, or separating out, compressing and storing nitrogen for her ultra-cold superbreath. Also, the compartment in her cape she uses as a suitcase (introduced in the Enterprise chapter) will come in handy eventually as a replicator/processor akin to Robbie the Robot's in The Forbidden Planet (or Star Trek, as a pale imitation). Then, too, I'm wondering about her own internal communications — perhaps by gravity waves. In this case, internal also means linking her disparate parts as what amounts to a cohesive whole. Her costume is an integral part of her, I believe, even when physically separated by large distances, and 'independently' capable of doing everything she can do, especially when it comes to sensory acquisition and processing.
      Currently, Susan's link with our own primitive Internet is via multi-channel electromagnetic communication. Eventually, I mean to have her incorporate detachable parts — principally fragments of her hair — into key parts of the physical structure of the Internet so that Susan essentially 'mind-melds' with the whole damned thing. That's what she was sent to do. Our choice, as a recipient of this gift, is to figure out the extent to which we will be willing to let Susan manage everything perfectly — and thus compromise our own ability to take charge of our own destinies.
      Hmmm — I seem to be rambling on… Well, this kind of thing helps me organize my thoughts about where I'm going, so please forgive me. If you have any other ideas or comments (especially about this gravity stuff!), please let me know. Thanks for the excellent letter.
      Oh, and Sara says 'hi' back-atchya. Happy Millenium...!

      If my theory about Sara maintaining a single quantum state is correct (a big if), then Sara doesn't have any internal communication as such, simply an incredibly complex unique wave function describing all information Sara has encountered. I do note for reference that I'm not sure that Sara's taking a bit of hair to remotely interface with the internet is possible. As soon as the hair was physically separated from Sara, two things would happen. 
      One: two new wave functions would exist, fundamentally copying a highly degraded form of Sara's signiture to the hair while slightly degrading (ohh. kinky! Degraded degenerate matter. Sara Corel, CryptoDom! Or would that be Crypto-Sub? whatever… <G>) Sara's own wave function — similar to cutting a hologram into two parts — both new pieces contain the entire picture that was/is the hologram, but the quality of both pictures is directly related to how much of the original hologram they originally consisted of.
      Two: both wave functions would immediately begin to change and separate as they absorbed new data. The counter- argument is the Bell theorem, which says that two widely separated but related quantum events can communicate with each other at speeds that appear to be instantaneous. I don't think it applies in this case though. As a practical matter… Ummmm, how are you planning to cut Sara's hair?
      Well, I seem to be rambling rather more than you did, so I've one last thought and then I'll bring this to a close. Sara can only 'shapechange' to the extent that it doesn't violate her quantum state, which (I suspect) includes in itself her self-image. Although she can undoubtably convince herself she's overweight (why not — all too many real women do so), or that she's irresistibly sexy, it's a much larger mental 'leap' to convince herself that she's President Clinton (or her husband… <G>). Probably an impossible leap to make, and one that, if she did succeed, would make her actually Hillary Clinton if she managed to do it, or at least her perception of Hillary. Suicide of personality of a sort.
      Fortunately, Alex raised her to have a pretty strong self-image.
      That's it — I'm officially bringing this to a close. Thanks for the letter, and I hope this might help, or at least give some pseudo-science to back-up whatever you feel like doing. Be well, and have a happy Millenium.

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© Patrick Hill, 2000