From the gate it was a short walk to the ship, under the high protective dome which had been erected on their arrival the year before. The leader could see his crew was excited: they would find back their cubicles, their personal possessions, holograms, books, games, even the small pets they were allowed to keep on the journey. They would also find, for the lucky ones, messages from family and friends. He looked at each of them, smiling, as they stood before the door, at the foot of the small elevator. They exchanged jokes and greetings. Over half of them were humans, fourth or fifth generation colonists who had volunteered for the reconnaissance of their old world. The others were replicants, but an uninformed observer could not have guessed. He thought the replicants tended to be smaller and somehow more fragile looking, many were women for whom it was the first long range spatial experience. From what his first officer had told him, he knew already that it was them who had been the most agitated until his return. Now they were all boarding slowly and orderly the big ship.
He found the size and glow of the hull pleasing. Two thirds of the vessel were taken up by the drive, the giant fusion reactor that allowed the ship to achieve trans galactic speed. But they would use the much smaller magnetic drive to leave the earth. The leader had several hours of tests and preparations to work through before their departure. He was looking forward to this work. Himself a replicant of the twelfth generation, cosmonauts and navigators, he would steer the ship into orbit, and then out of the solar system. The entire crew, bar himself and the first officer, would then be sent to cryogenic sleep for most of the journey. This would happen about a year after their departure from earth.
As he initiated the first test programs, the leader reflected on their mission. It had been a great success. They had plenty of recordings and measurements. Non-human life was now again plentiful on earth. The machines the previous mission had left to roam the oceans had done beautiful work of removing and destroying the plastic and other noxious material that polluted them. The atmosphere was clean.
There was more. One of the replicant ladies expected a baby. The first human being conceived on earth for three hundred years.
Picture: Rachael, Blade Runner
On this far-away horizon we fly, age-old balloonists, at peace. I long thought, in the moonless nights, reading, dreaming, of those eons ahead of us – the universe ‘s infinity, the long journeys, our transformation, progressive, imperceptible, on the shores of time.
Old-fashioned I am – we are – in the eyes of the past centuries, albeit not our own: fashionable we might become, on those alien planets we visit in the midst of our everlasting sleep.
Explorers, yes, young still, without the edge of possible awake, for we will never return, to the old world, to the mother ship: lost we are, willing prisoners of an endless tale, one many times recounted – till now.
Now, we live the dream, sliding by foreign stars, through the intricacies of space, as we were convinced we would, one day, not by magic, but driven, prepared, accepting the fate of those who deny their own mortality…
She’s a great captain: in her world, perhaps the most decorated of them all, besides being a beauty.
Sailing is her life, through the eery oceans of virgin planets, observed by multiple stars, and by alien, voracious and concupiscent eyes.
Adulated by her crew – and what a crew! of crustacean giants, sea spiders and weird creatures from the depth…
She’s feared by her rivals, but does she have any, or just jealous dwarves?
For she, who will conquer them all, is inviolable, the true mistress of Space.
As a lover of navigation history I was delighted when I fist visited Greenwich, in East London, once the home of the Royal Navy College, and, of course the locus of the meridian that sets the time for the whole world! Greenwich is close to our home, we often visit its beautiful park and old streets. If you happen to visit London, don’t miss Greenwich!
“Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) refers to the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, which became adopted as a global time standard. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is arranged so that it runs no more than 0.9 seconds fast or slow of Greenwich Mean Time. The name Greenwich Mean Time is especially used by bodies connected with the United Kingdom, such as the BBC World Service, the Royal Navy, the Met Office and others particularly in Arab countries, such as the Middle East Broadcasting Center and OSN. It is a term commonly used in the United Kingdom and countries of the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Malaysia, and many other countries in the Eastern hemisphere.
Greenwich Mean Time is the same as Universal Time (UT), a standard astronomical concept used in many technical fields. In the United Kingdom, GMT is the official time during winter; during summer British Summer Time (BST) is used. GMT is very close to Western European Time. Some countries using Western European Time may base their standard on UTC.
Noon Greenwich Mean Time is rarely the exact moment when the sun crosses the Greenwich meridian and reaches its highest point in the sky there, because of Earth’s uneven speed in its elliptic orbit and its axial tilt. This event may be up to 16 minutes away from noon GMT, a discrepancy calculated by the equation of time. Noon is the annual average (i.e. mean) time of this event, prompting the inclusion of “mean” in “Greenwich Mean Time”.
Historically the term GMT has been used with two different conventions, sometimes numbering hours starting at midnight and sometimes starting at noon. The more specific terms UT and UTC do not share this ambiguity, always referring to midnight as zero hours. Astronomers preferred the latter GMT convention to simplify their observational data so that each night was logged under a single calendar date.”
Image: “Greenwich clock” by Alvesgaspar – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greenwich_clock.jpg#/media/File:Greenwich_clock.jpg