Category Archives: Contact Ascension

Having taken much of my creative energy, now begins the public side of my novel.

“Contact Ascension” – Teaser

The story so far…

The world has seen an Alien Contact event
only to be dispossessed of its meaning.
An event heralded as a journey to meet
an extraterrestrial intelligence
becomes a 6 second non-event
leaving only the word of scientist Eleanor Arroway
that she experienced 18 hours of contact
with the avatar of her father.
No evidence remains except for a recording
containing, coincidentally, 18 hours of noise.
The story continues…

Security advisor Michael Kitz is appointed to discreetly investigate whether the coincidence of 18 hours holds any significance. He takes the recording to his colleague General John Meredith who heads a team investigating the mind’s ability to control prosthetics for injured war veterans. Quadriplegic Frank Valetti has a Deep Brain Stimulation device surgically inserted for this research, but he is unable to decode the signal. When one of John’s team find a tenuous mathematical connection the possibility of decoding this enigmatic signal calls for a supercomputer. Not to be discouraged Kitz seeks the use of the computing facility of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in South Africa. He gains access through approaching Rachel Constantine, subauthority of the Chief of Staff, with the political chicanery of an exchange of project management resources in the building of their radio telescopes.

The noise signal is also attracting the interest of other teams. Willie Sharp, Ellies collaborator from the first Contact event, has found a tape in a drawer. It is his copy of the telemetry taken by Ellie’s personal recording device. He provides it to an eccentric and high functioning autistic, postgraduate student James Fraser. James is exploring quantum mechanics and its application in solving problems of complexity using a quantum computer.

Ellie, now working for the SKA consortium, is invited to comment on a computer program currently consuming the resources of the South African computing facility. With all the telescopes nearing completion the mysterious process has come under scrutiny. Ellie takes a sample of the source data and provides it to Willie for his insights. Employing his “Shazzam-like” system, he is dumbstruck to find the signal is the same as that on the tape being analysed by James. This comes at the same time as new patterns begin to emerge from James’ research. On learning this Ellie contacts Rachel Constantine for her advice. Rachel, hoping to mitigate the embarrassment of a presidential administration, arranges for the collaboration of the two teams. Ellie is introduced into the research at The Fishbowl; a large instrumented spherical room bisected with a plastic floor and designed to minimise external signals in experiments of telepathy.

More?

Go to where we lead you in … Part 2 Chapter 8

Go to the spoiler? (no regrets; you can’t “unread it”)

Go and read it from  the beginning

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Clash of Memes

Greeds converge to steal the prize

Spiral Dynamics
Spiral Dynamics

In the quiet thaw of the post cold war there is a meritocracy slowly yielding to the open slather of enterprise; money is power. It meets a rogue splinter of unfettered neo-feudalism; knowledge is power. In Chapter 20 of “Contact Ascension” these two powers converge upon a prize that could tip the balance. One force is patiently waiting for the prize to fall into its hands, a guardian of the path. The other force will seek to divert the path using guile and coercion. Both forces meet at the prize which involves not simply technology but also the knowledge retained by an individual James, a person who may be potentially easily led.  The result is a distress call and a lockdown that looks like a stale mate with the pawn being the likely victim.

This theme is suggestive of the conflict as memes of spiral dynamics clash. The Tier one 6th Green level meme of Chinese communism meets with the Tier two “Yellow” Flex Flow of a reinvented capitalism. But is this capitalism simply the old red “Power Gods” doing what it must to protect it’s power? The philosophies clash until the ascendance of the turquoise meme, the Eighth level, the Global view. In older days, when the memes clashed, revolutions like the French and American were fought, or impositions like the Spanish Inquisition were held.

We may not fight as many wars but are we really yet enlightened? What does the enlightened consciousness of eons of ‘transcending-and-embracing’ do? How do you embrace conflict?

Can you transcend it?

Contact’s Rationale

Why did it end like it did?

Open ended books and movies have a certain enigmatic appeal.

circle2A narrative that leaves you pondering, and trying to reconcile a koan into something sensible is “bran for the brain”.

The open end leaves a hunger, a festering hole that demands satisfaction.

The best of solutions have repercussions that resonate, they suggest something beyond the mundane. Both the book and the movie Contact provided this; the book in the form of something secreted in transcendental numbers (PI), the movie left us pondering the purpose of 18 hours of noise. But these scientific or mathematical artifacts are not the only enigmas, the one that strikes more deeply is why make contact and then disappear?

In actual fact it is almost the glaring ommission. The book explains having to engineer a consistent causality but when the topic moves to future contact it is Ellie that suggests that the link is severed by saying “We’ll take it from here”.

In Chapter 18 of Contact Ascension Ellie deliberates over this as she prepares herself for a second journey, this one radically different from the first, and one where she hopes to  gain answers. It is Palmer that pioneered the first real Journey and while Palmer has learnt much (in Chapter 17) Ellie is about to learn much more (in Chapter 19 still to come).

In Chapter 18 – ‘The Key’ I’ve introduced the notions being developed through Spiral Dynamics and Integral Theory. Here we find the parallel with umpteen episodes and books of Star Trek; ‘The Prime Directive’. It is now evident even to us that intervention with a civilization, and any attempt to bootstrap them to an enlightened state is almost always doomed to failure. While Spiral Dynamics provides a scaffolding to facilitate evolution (not revolution) we must attain a pre-requisite level before transcending to the next.

I guess this is what I have gained from the book and movie Contact. In taking a quote from Einstein:

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

How do we find the state of consciousness to solve the problems that we now face? We solve the problem of the open ended book. This is the koan that we all seek to understand. In order to transcend it we need to think beyond the point where our personal books close.

If you love something – set it free

I have decided to set “Contact Ascension” free.

I’ve released the first 7 chapters of Part 1 and the rest will follow. The world can now read it for free, and at some point in time I will probably put it out as a pdf or even an ebook. Contact Ascension’s editing is limited to what my wife and I have been able to inject, but I’m assured its a good read. Being online I can now respond to any feedback and continue the ‘gardening’ process.

So what can I say about the book without giving too much away?

After reading Carl Sagan’s “Contact” I felt it left many questions unanswered. OK, this is the hallmark of a good book. The movie then contemporarised the narrative and departed from the book in two main ways: through only allowing Ellie to experience contact, rather than multiple people; and through the analysis of PI which finally provided Ellie with evidence for the contact event.

Rather than using PI the movie finished with simply 18 hours of noise. This was a masterstroke waiting for expansion that seemed never to arrive. I felt “Contact Ascension” was a story that needed to be told. Dwelling upon this led to the natural progression for Contact and its ascending from the passion that Sagan held for the Cosmos to the fabric that holds it together.

A story can sometimes explain the principles of Quantum mechanics better than the theory. Watch “Sliding Doors” or “Groundhog Day” for two examples of quantum wave collapse. These movies have set the scene for people to grapple with these heady concepts. The raison d’etre for Contact Ascension is to call it for what it is.

Quantum Mechanics holds the deepest mystery humanity has yet to unfold. From the Uncertainty Principal to the Many Worlds Interpretation and the paradoxes like Dark Matter and the Double Slit experiment. These studies are beginning to tease open the veil that separates the behavior of the universe and our role as the observer.

Wave collapse and quantum mechanical measurements insinuate a deep connection with our consciousness, despite our being inextricably organic. So what may be in store from other fields of study that might unexpectedly bridge the gap from a classical world to a quantum mind? Quantum computers may play a role, as may mind control of prosthetic devices and the BRAIN initiative announced by President Obama.

Back to the novel.

Eleanor Arroway must finish her journey. Contact Ascension sets her free, and if there are like minded people who want to see her ‘free’ then setting this book free will free her in other minds.

Writing a Book (midwifry)

After Gestation…

This would be a short blog but for the fact my first novel “Contact Ascension” suffers from the publishing equivalent of “placenta previa” 1.
In short “Contact Ascension” is a sequel that is subject to copyright. ( you can read about what possessed me here)

To rescue my brainchild am seeking some way to make contact with  the Sagan foundation. I hope to be able to propose this idea:

  • That my novel “Contact Ascension” and the ideas it embodies be allowed to live the life it was intended to; to thrive or fail on its own merits.

I wrote this novel with the objective of expanding our consciousness and with the intent of making a difference:

  • With the help of Carl and many others like him “Contact Ascension” embodies how I perceive the wonder of the universe.
  • Having had a hand in its creation I would want it to nurture the nursing grounds of its genesis. I would want the majority of proceeds to pass directly to Wikipedia.

I respect that Copyright is a principle of merit. I also worry that merit is choked in less privileged areas of the world, and I think this impoverishes us all. The only cure is freedom from the protection of privilege.

For my story this freedom represents an embrace by the copyright to “Contact”. If it was consistent with their charter, I hope that the Sagan foundation would support this freedom. (I know Ann Druyen actively supports Wikipedia, without which the book would not have been possible.)

Now I just need this idea to be passed on to others. Perhaps, if there are but six degrees of separation, this will get to the right people and “Contact Ascension” can breathe life.

If this someone is you…

Thanks,

Greg Stroot.

1 Without intervention it was doomed from inception.

Continue reading Writing a Book (midwifry)

Writing a book (gestation)

What possessed me?

As a guy we can never experience pregnancy or childbirth.
Ideas, though, have the potential to impregnate a mind.
So it was that Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, and the movie of the same name, awakened something big, bold, audacious and naive:
to write a sequel called “Contact Ascension”.

Having read umpteen books on Physics, the conundrums of Quantum Mechanics and the promise of a “Theory of Everything”; and being of the generation that could remember the events of Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 first hand; and having been disappointed that we had not yet invented the warp drive or even the hover board, I thought: “We need more flights of the imagination”. But I’ve grown a little tired of the SciFi genre being subverted by Alien monsters that invade earth, or swashbuckling astronauts seeking treasure, princesses, dispossessed princes and fighting the cosmic Nazi equivalent.

*I* needed something different. I needed something that didn’t challenge my suspension of disbelief quite so much. Maybe others did too.

After much deep and profound brain things inside my head…

I realised that the book that fitted this bill was “Contact”. It took real science, real society, real people, real history, and simply extrapolated it out to its most amazing best case scenario.

The movie? Well it stayed as true to form as possible and extrapolated it a little further, at a different time. But just like the book it left something open. While the book closed with exploration of transcendental PI, the movie had a seed too: Noise.

It was this seed that grew and flowered in my mind. I honestly believe that the amazing story that took root, grew, and fed upon the imaginary planet where myriad books and Wiki articles had decomposed and evolved into its own symbiotic, fertile and evolving humus and loam, is not of my own volition. My mind had been impregnated.

For me the gestation of a book has gone through several phases:
  1. What if ? This is where a good story ends and another starts.  Hungry for more? Unfinished and waiting for a sequel?
  2. Has anyone else thought of this? (check the internet, superficially nothing yet, start now and keep tabs)
  3. Visualise it as a movie: (so hard to step beyond this media)
  4. First endeavour: A screenplay using “Plotbot” (a collaborative screenplay tool). This was good to string ideas together and prod them about. Aborted this idea as no collaboration was forthcoming.
  5. Sketch ideas out in the train: Used my Android tablet, some basic scribble pad type tools and Evernote. This was good to restructure the whole chronology, the fundamental concepts and the ‘rules for my universe’ to adhere to. These had to be cross correlated with fact (remember – ‘suspension of disbelief’ – Thank the cloud for Wikipedia).
  6. Choices: Away on a conference in a distant city do I watch TV or write a book? The latter seemed the nobler endeavour and is really when it began in earnest. Spontaneous, with a strange compelling conviction, and a feeling I could see the sculpture in the stone.  I became Michelangelo, and I needed to uncover it.
  7. Technology: Even though it began on a desktop Word Processor I wanted a document accessible from anywhere, so I moved it to “the cloud”. I tried Dropbox, but then moved to Google Docs because I could have my wife proofreading while simultaneously writing and doing rework on any device. (Tip: use a table of contents to do navigation).
  8. Research, write, research, rewrite, peer/friend reviews, rewrite: The fun part. This is where I could see it grow, and it was when I was inspired with the name.
  9. Midwifry: This is where I am as I write this, and I face a particularly interesting challenge: copyright. With the legal action against Fredrik Colting for his unauthorised and commercially published (ergo non-fan-fiction) sequel of “The Catcher in the Rye” the precedent is set against the commercial release of the novel.
So where do I go from here?

Fan fiction? OK I’m cool with that but it’s unlikely to result in publishing and it would get lost in the fluff.  Kindle Worlds would need a new world for the Carl Sagan canon Wattpad has some fan fiction but copyright rules prevail.

Forge ahead? Self publish and weather the storm (see “The Catcher in the Rye” -> “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye”)

Put it to sleep? This Ripvanwinkle idea would extend it till 1996 + 50 (or 70)= 2046 (if the copyright hasn’t passed to his wife and co-author Anne Druyen). “Post mortem auctoris” would make the book irrelevant.

Change the names? OK, I may as well rewrite the original “Contact” novel. Not as silly as it sounds; SETI has moved on, and actual first contact could be different enough. Could we really tell it any better than what Carl did? It would insult him and any pretentious author attempting it. No, I have written a sequel, maybe not nearly as eloquently as Carl and Anne could, but perhaps worthy of the name.

Find a way to have it published with the blessing of the copyright holders. This leads me to my next Blog: Writing a Book (midwifry)

Contact Ascension

A novel by Greg Stroot (start reading here)

Description

Contact Ascension is a science fiction homage to the Carl Sagan bestseller that takes up where it left off.  Aimed at mature thinking readers the story now evolves into an adventure that takes the reader from the pinnacles of science to the raw Australian outback. Contact Ascension will tap into aficionados of both sci fi and general fiction genres, with a tantalising touch of romance.

Using enigmas of science-fact as suspenseful scaffolding to the fiction, it is a journey through science that resolves the mysteries left by the original book and movie. The story then covers the popular topic of alien contact to evoke further questions on consciousness, humanity, spirituality and human evolution.

Contact Ascension combines the concepts developed by Carl Sagan’s ‘Contact’ and Fred Hoyle’s ‘A For Andromeda’ with contemporary ideas softened from Greg Egan’s works such as ‘Glory’, and some of the rich “chocolate” language of David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’. Using mixed tense and the use of paradoxes in physics as a device will transform the reader into observer and transcend their 4 dimensional view of the world.

More later…

To read from the Epigraph: https://reponderance.com/epigraph/

Then head over to the menu on the left.