The Amazing Adventures
of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey
A Matter of Gravity
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
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>
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
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: http://php.iupui.edu/~jewest/Cat
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
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'.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
© Patrick Hill, 2000