Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Moon Miner: A Lunar Series Short Story



Remembered Earth Universe

Volume 11

Lunar Series

Book 3


Copyright © 2024 D.W. Patterson

All rights reserved.

First A Printing – September, 2024

Future Chron Publishing

Cover – Copyright © 2024 D.W. Patterson

Cover Image – Photo 206983251 © Archangel80889 | Dreamstime.com

No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission, except in the case of brief quotations for the purpose of review. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are products of the author's imagination and should not be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events and people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Hard Science Fiction – Old School

Human Generated Content

Website: https://dwpatterson.com

Email: d.w.patterson.writer@gmail.com

To Sarah

I went down to Cape Canaveral for the first time three years ago.

- - -

I walk into the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is 400 feet high, and I go up in the elevator and look down – and the tears burst from my eyes!

- - -

The size of this cathedral where the rockets take off to go to the Moon is so amazing, I don't know how to describe it.”

- Ray Bradbury


In this story (and most of my stories), if I use a date, I know I am using the antiquated dating system, A.D. I blame this on the book Daybreak – 2250 A.D. by Andre Norton, which I read some time in elementary school (and of which I recently bought an old paperback copy). So, I was imprinted early with that dating system and think it sounds cooler than C.E. No social, political or any other kind of statement is meant.

Science and technology are important to me and I enjoy developing them as I develop a series. However, a problem arises if I have to reintroduce the science and technology in each story as the series progresses. For a reader that has been reading all along the reintroduction must be tedious and somewhat boring. For a reader entering later in the series (and I do like for the stories to stand alone) the lack of explanation could be off putting. So, as a compromise I have included the previous science and technology explanations in a Glossary at the end of this story, it also contains other facts about the series. Probably not a perfect solution, but the only one I could come up with at this time.

Chapter 1

2040 A.D.


So thought Harry Wells about the abode he lived in. Harry had come to the Moon to work for one of the mining companies. Really, it was surface mining and the area was just a few miles from the small settlement of Tima. The Frigoris Mining camp consisted of just three buildings. One of the buildings was for the employees quarters and work area. The employees consisted of six people. Another building, which was for maintenance of the equipment, had a “porch” in front where some light maintenance could be done during the lunar day in a reduced radiation environment. And the third one was a storage building.

When needed, water and food was trucked the five miles from Tima aboard the hauler. An open cab vehicle, the hauler required the operator, actually mostly a passenger as the AI followed the electronically marked path, to wear a full spacesuit.

The mining equipment was mostly teleoperated. The vehicles operated in a combine with each one adapted to a particular task. First came the scooper and crusher, its job was to scoop and breakup the surface regolith if needed. Next, came the separator, the now sand-like regolith was separated into storage bins for solids like basalt, and tanks for gas molecules.

The combine essentially scavenged the Moon's surface for carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and the rare earth elements such as rubidium and lanthanum. Thorium could also be found in the regolith and was handled separately from the other elements. It was expected that as the string of settlements grew across the northern bounds of Mare Frigoris, a thorium power plant would eventually be constructed, to provide power to all the current and future settlements in the area.

Finally the basalt of the area was rich in iron oxide, aluminum oxide, and magnesium oxide, three more elements needed for building. Basalt that evaded the separation processes in the rest of the machine was also kept as a building material which could later be made into blocks, beams and the wet slurry that fed the 3D building printers.

Harry was just under five feet ten inches and had light brown hair, cut short and even, which seemed to be the predominant style on the Moon, he also had an even temperament. He had always dreamed of heading “north” to the Moon, but it turned out that his grades weren't good enough to get in on the early rounds of lunar employment. But as more and more people were recruited for longer and longer stays, Harry persisted until Frigoris Mining gave him a chance. It turned out that his duties for the company were more like playing a video game than some science gig, and that was something that Harry was good at.

His job was to remotely operate the mining combine from the operations room incorporated into the same building as his small apartment. Except apartment was a grandiose term to use for his ten by twelve foot single room living quarters. In it Harry slept and groomed and entertained himself until it was time to take the walk down the length of the forty foot long building to operations or the kitchen. And each time he took that walk the building reminded him not of an apartment building or office or industrial building but of a bunker, with its low peaked roof of nine feet.

The modified arch that spanned the building had an internal footprint of twenty-five feet. The length of the building was forty-five feet. On top of the arched roof was six feet of regolith which provided almost complete protection from radiation and most micrometeorites. Both ends had airlocks, with the front one used for normal access, and the back for emergencies.

Harry's shift was just about over. The mining area was only a couple of miles west of him. Sitting in what some classified as east-central Frigoris which was a semi-rectangular area about two-hundred miles long and fifty miles wide with a very irregular border. The entire Mare Frigoris was some eight to nine-hundred miles long and fifty to sixty miles wide and it bent in the middle like a boomerang only not as acutely.

Harry was watching the remote view from the camera mounted on the combine's front chassis. In area being worked the maria was unusually flat, like the Iowa cornfields of his youth. Another similarity was that the combine worked the area like a tractor in a cornfield, up and back tracks shifted only by the width of the “scoop,” which was about forty feet wide.

Then it happened. The combine stopped, an alarm flashed on the control screen. Harry froze at first but then responded, first shutting off the alarm.

Then Janet showed up behind his chair.

What's up Harry?” she asked.

Combine has an emergency shutdown. I've started a diagnostics, should know in another minute,” he said.

Harry watched as the AI in the machine ran diagnostic, after diagnostic, and when it finished, no problem was found.

Well, that's strange,” he said.

What did it find?” asked Janet, she could not see the screen well.

Nothing,” he said.

Nothing?” she repeated.

Yeah,” he said.

So why's it stopped?” she asked.

I don't know,” said Harry.

Okay, figure it out, and let me know, I'll be in the office,” she said.

Harry sat there wondering what he should do next. He had been taught to run the diagnostics and respond to the results, but there weren't any results. If he reached a point where he could not keep the combine running he was to turn to the equipment tech, that would be Billy Vech.

But if the diagnostics shows nothing, what's Billy going to do?

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Special Edition - From The Earth: Complete

Click For Store
For a limited time a special edition of my collection of novellas From The Earth: Complete is available for 60% off on my online store. 

This is edition is available no where else.

It contains the 10 novellas and 1 short novel that make up the two collections From The Earth Book 1 and From The Earth Book 2.

It also contains the Future Chron Universe timeline relevant to these stories.

Over 150,000 words about humanity's journey from the Earth to the stars, $3.99 with 60% off if you enter the code SPECIALDISCOUNT60 at checkout.

Here is the extended description:

From The Earth: Complete

A Collection

Space was not only the final frontier, it was also the final abode of freedom from the Earth's creeping, soft totalitarianism. Space meant freedom to act and to think and generations of the Jackson family pursued it, even if it meant leaving their home far behind, even if it meant death.

Starting from the Earth, in these eleven stories the Jackson family will leave their home and begin a journey to live as free men and women among the stars.

Science Fiction Writers - Janet E. Morris

"But people don't go after information themselves, they believe what they hear. This is, historically, the failing of democracy. You have mass rule and you have ascendancy of the mediocre. It's happening in science fiction too. You get a readership which is wider, editors who are only doing science fiction on the way to something more exciting, such as women's romances, and therefore you get mediocre science fiction.

From the book Dream Makers by Charles Platt. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Science Fiction Writers - Poul Anderson

"I've been interested off and on in the fact that if this industrial civilization of ours suffers a hiatus, we may never be able to rebuild it, not because the knowledge will be lacking but because we won't have the rich natural resources on which the first civilization was founded."

From the book Dream Makers 2 by Charles Platt.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Null Infinity - Chapter 4

If you are reading along, chapter 4 of the novel(?) Null Infinity has been posted. Find the new installment under the Forgotten Earth Universe tab above. Thank you. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Futurist Alvin Toffler - Institutional Collapse

"Systems do change, and institutions do collapse and die, and new ones spring up. One way this happens is by internal restructuring in a coup d'etat, as the young turks take over from the old turks. Usually this is in response to great external pressures on the system. Another possibility is that outsiders simply topple the institution and create a new one.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Futurist Alvin Toffler - Obsolete Institutions

"Some of our best-known leaders in business and industry are actually very intelligent people, but they make very unintelligent decisions. I think the explanation of this paradox lies in the decision-making institutions. I believe that our institutions are stupid, because they're obsolete, and you could put teams of geniuses to work in those institutions and the results would still be stupid."

From an interview by Charles Platt in the book "Dream Makers 2" forty years ago.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Futurist Alvin Toffler - Unanticipated Consequences

"The peculiar position we find ourselves in today challenges the old political assumptions that have been made by radicals of both Right and Left, that an elite is running things for its own advantage, against our best interests. That presupposes that the decisions being taken by an elite will actually bring about the results which they anticipate.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Futurist Alvin Toffler - Economic Disruption

"We're not going to go through a classical depression or classical inflation. What we're seeing is the emergence of a differentiated society. While some people are eating dog food, there's money to burn in other communities - the sharp contrast between a Second-Wave community like Youngstown or Detroit, and embryonic Third-Wave

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Null Infinity - Chapter 3

If you are reading along, the next chapter of the novel(?) Null Infinity has been posted. Find the new installment under the Forgotten Earth Universe tab above. Thank you. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Science Fiction Writers - Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur Clarke writing in the 1960s:

Whatever the eventual outcome of our exploration of space we can be reasonably certain of some immediate benefits - and I am deliberately ignoring such 'practical' returns as the multi-billion dollar improvements in weather forecasting and

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

AI #5

It is also worth noting that significant subsets of the AI community are motivated by forms of open-source ideology that consider it desirable to deploy AGI systems with effectively no safeguards, in the interest of promoting technological advancement at any cost.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Science Fiction #3

 . . . science fiction developed out of fantasy when technology began to shape the way people lived and the future became a better guide to decision-making than history, when what is going to happen became more important than what has happened.

                                                        - James Gunn from his book Alternate Worlds

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Null Infinity - Chapter 2

If you are reading along, the next chapter of the novel(?) Null Infinity has been posted. Also note that Chapter 1 changed quite a bit, so you may want to reread it (sorry, but I did warn you it might happen). Even the name of the universe changed somewhat. Find the new installment under the Forgotten Earth Universe tab above. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Science Fiction #2

Science fiction is that class of prose narrative treating a situation that could not arise in the world we know, but which is hypothesized on the basis of some innovation in

Monday, April 1, 2024

AI #4

There are already indications that even previous generations of LLMs can be modified to display chemical synthesis capabilities, and robust scaling laws have even been proposed that apply specifically to these capabilities. On the basis of these results, it seems likely that, in the near future, the application of scaled transformers to