Welcome to my attempt at recreating the life and adventures of Molly Fyde, a young lady from the 25th century. An electronic reader full of information, all of it orbiting Molly Fyde, was given to me by a strange lady half a year ago. There are millions of pages of material to sort through, many of them written by Molly herself. As I attempt to organize them into a readable narrative, I have set up this blog as a repository for my findings. Some entries will be pulled right from The Reader and remain in Molly's words. Some will come from her crew. Much will be from me, as I detail my struggle to tell her story.


The Reader

I'm not an inherently manic person, but I have become one over the past six months. Ever since I was visited by a strange woman who introduced herself as the Bern Seer and gave me what she called "The Reader." I'll talk more about this meeting later, it's hard to know in what order this story should be told, but starting with the Seer wouldn't work. In many ways, that is the end of Molly's saga.

But I digress. I want to start with The Reader, because it is the thing that has made this project possible. It has become my life, much to the chagrin of my family and friends. At first glance, The Reader is a glorified Kindle. All it does is display images, playback audio files, and allows you to cycle through text. I haven't figured out half of the features in the thing, mainly because I don't know how much time I have left.

You see, the thing can't be plugged in. There are no ports or plugs anywhere on it. The surface doesn't appear photovoltaic, but who is to know... especially if the contents are real. I've wondered if it uses induction charging, like the new Palm Pre phone that is coming out soon. If so, I wasn't given anything that might help. Sometimes I worry that I don't have another hour with the material inside, sometimes I think the device will go on working forever. It depends on my mood.

For the first month, I hardly ate or slept as I was drawn into the complicated story within. I would fall asleep whenever the chemicals in my medulla oblongata took over, never by choice. I ate when my wife forced me to. I marvel that I even survived that period with my marriage intact. If I ever complete this project, it will be dedicated to my dear wife who nursed me along and continues to support what, admittedly, has become an obsession.

It has taken me half a year to learn that not every moment can be spent reading and taking notes. I have decided to set some time aside, now, for chronicling my endeavors. Not because I am deluded into thinking that I am even worthy of attempting to unlock Molly's life, but because I need an outlet for what I'm going through. Any outlet. If nobody reads any of this, it will have served the same amount of good.

I also need a second place to jot things down. I need notes for my notes, if you will. Part of the problem is the copious amounts of material here. Millions of pages, at least. Also, some attempt has been made to save the pages in order, but I can only grasp a hint at what that system might have been. Several lives that intersect with Molly's are woven parallel to her story, and the tale of what her parents went through, alone, is worthy of an epic saga. As my notes materialize, I need a place to sort the story for myself. That's what this blog is for.

The only reason I can be a little more relaxed with my research is that I finally figured out a way to back-up the contents of the Reader. I hit upon the idea last week, when my dog set one of her toys down on top of the thing, begging me to play. At first, I was horrified to see her slobber on the priceless artifact, but then I noticed the pages flipping by rapidly, the page-turn key held in place.

It gave me an idea.

I went out and purchased a high-definition video camera (and I went further in debt by doing so). Setting it on a tripod above the reader, I recorded the device as it quickly ran through the entire contents. Setting the clock on my stove to 88 minutes (each tape records 90), I would remove the small weight holding the button down, change out a tape, and resume the process.

I now have 107 90-minute tapes organized on the floor of my dining room. That comes to just a few hours shy of a full week. Which is precisely how long it has taken me to perform this "back-up."

Once again, my marriage has demonstrated remarkable resiliency.

I tested the first tape out and found that pausing each frame results in a readable source. I will never stop worrying that The Reader will die on me, as managing this project from a supply of tapes instead of being able to jump around and search for phrases and dates, will become something akin to the creation of the OED, requiring men far crazier than I.

My promise to myself it to start taking breaks. To purge my pent-up excitement on this blog. To organize my thoughts. And to keep people abreast of my mission: unravel Molly's tale and perhaps create a narrative that will thrill and delight others the way my disjointed and obsessed reading of the source material has pleased me.

When I take my next break, I will go into what the story is about and why The Reader must be: 1. From the far future; 2. The greatest (but least funny) hoax of all-time; or 3. A colossal waste of someone's time, someone even more obsessive than I am.


Finding One's Way

I spent the first few weeks reading, non-stop. I didn't concern myself with photos and diagrams at first. I was too absorbed digging through a mystery that spanned the entire Milky Way. Slowly, I branched away from the text to learn my way around The Reader. The search functions have opened a lot of doors, as have the active bookmarks.

My humble blog is far simpler, by comparison, but I would like to point out a few features that may help you get the most out of it. I dearly wish that the lady who gave me The Reader had spent a few moments to explain the device to me. This is my attempt to extend a courtesy that I never got.

On the right, below the photo from my NASA badge (it is two years old, I'm afraid this project has aged me considerably since that shot was taken) you will see a repository of photos that I'm digging out of The Reader. I recognize some as being from Earth orbit, and a few seem to detail future advances in space exploration. Due to my work with NASA on future propulsion systems, these photos are significant to me personally, as well as professionally. I'll try and get at least one up per day by setting up my tripod and taking a high-resolution photo of The Reader's screen.

Below this there is a handy tool for following the blog. Subscribe, and you will automatically get updates. I'm hoping to be faithful to the site, but it is hard to tear myself away from learning about Molly's life. I've promised my wife, however, to try and decompress more often. Sign up and see how well I fulfill that promise.

Next item down is an archive of every post I make. If only The Reader had its chronology so well-organized!

Following the archives is an interesting collection of entries from a folder named "Bel Tra." I believe that this is the name of an alien race that devoted their time to an authoritative charting of the Milky Way. I've kept up with my old friends at NASA and several of them are as geeked out over this data as I am over the photos further up.

The final item is a link to a Twitter account I've set up for Molly's journal entries. These are carefully dated, which makes posting them in order a breeze. Her writing starts very early, back when she was seven years old, but I'm going to be starting my telling of her story when Molly was sixteen, so the diary entries will reflect this.

That's it. Pretty simple. Far simpler than this Reader thing. Enjoy and spread the word. By the time Molly's story is able to be told, we will hopefully have a wide audience for her tale.


Another Concern

What if none of this is real?

I'll admit, it's an idea that bounces around in my head sometimes. I go back and forth, optimism and pessimism, like worrying when the battery in The Reader is going to die.

I've figured out what triggers each mood: when I read about some of the ridiculous situations that Molly and her friends find themselves in, I feel like someone is pulling my leg. This is wilder than any fiction I've ever encountered.

Then I stumble upon something that convinces me that this is real. I've sent a few of the mathematical proofs that I've come across to a friend at Cambridge who is dying to meet my anonymous savant. I think he wants to get his name on whatever is published. I'm having to ignore his emails and constant badgering to get anything done.

I put up a diary entry today from Molly that mentions her fascination with multiple dimensions. One of the documents I have here, written by Molly herself, details an ingenious method for visualizing, in one's head, many physical dimensions. I'm sure the dry explanation will bore most of you to tears, but I'm considering posting the method in full just to give you an idea of what things lend credence to my source material.

Also, an update on the eventual narrative: I've reached a point in Molly's story that would likely make for a good break in her overall saga. I'm scanning around to fill in some details, but perhaps, in no more than a few months, I'll have a rough draft of the beginning of her story. I'm hoping it won't take as many tomes to contain it as there are videotapes cluttering my dining room.


The Anti-Cassandra Complex?

One of the things I try to avoid thinking about is that I'm putting together a puzzle whose pieces haven't even been created yet. I can't help but believe in this story, that it has already happened. Then a date will remind me: I'm sorting through the future.

The big joke here is that I am a propellant guy. I work with solid-state fuels. Worked, I should say. Anyway, the last few months before I was laid off, I was becoming more of a chemist than a physicist. And I've never been known as a writer. Quite the opposite, in fact. I tend to ramble and-

There. I'm doing it now.

So the joke... Everyone who works at NASA gets the same questions from their friends and families. And none of them have to do with our fields of expertise. It's all about astronauts urinating and area 51 and whatever they saw on the cover of the last Discover magazine about time travel and wormholes. I can't go watch a sci-fi movie with friends and family because they come out expecting me to explain stuff to them that isn't even real. My sister went to the new Star Trek film last weekend and she calls me wanting to know about the "red stuff" and how time travel works.

Time travel. I have an artifact from the future on my lap, but I still don't believe in time travel. I'm developing an anti-Cassandra Complex. Instead of warning people about the future and being tortured by the fact that nobody believes me... I'm piecing together a story that has not yet happened and I'm starting to think I shouldn't tell anyone...

Sure, some bad stuff happens around Molly. Real bad. But there are these moments every now and then, I stumble across them at random, and it makes me think that all the bad moments would be worth it... as long as all of these events really unfold one day.

Here's another of my doubts, one of those confessions that I started this blog for in the first place: What if my telling the story makes it not come true?

What would Cassandra have made of that?


My First Fans

I have fans! Who knew?

I would like to thank the two sharp-dressed gentlemen that stopped by this evening. I really wish I could remember what agency you were from, all I recall is your badges looked like tricky Scrabble racks.

I'm extremely honored that you found my blog and took an interest in my story... it's only been in the public domain for three days! Excellent job in monitoring the airwaves, I must say.

Next time, if you want to come inside, just ask. Really, I mean it. No need to shove a judge's signature in my face and terrorize my wife, just knock on the door and accept my hospitality.

Speaking of my wife, she would like her first-generation Kindle back. Or buy her one of the new ones. We're still trying to figure out what you'd want with her collection of vampire novels.

Oh, and best of luck in going through those videocassettes. Like I told you earlier, they are part of a giant prank. Millions of pages of gibberish. Promotional material for a science fiction novel. I would like them back when you are done with them, and yeah, I'm very impressed with the trunk capacity of your Ford LTD, I never thought you'd get them all in there.

So... continue reading along. I'm sure you'll find what I have to say interesting. Just keep in mind that none of it is real. I promise.

And visit as often as you like--as long as you don't look on top of the ceiling fan in my office...


Digging for the Science

I apologize in advance to my friends at NASA, who are eagerly anticipating the results of my research. Many of them have taken an interest in what I'm doing, but I believe they are going to be surprised to discover something. I know I was.

Molly's story is about people and relationships, not about gadgets and gizmos. As a geek, (and someone who likely suffers from an autism spectrum disorder) I was confused by the focus of my source material. The vast majority of it recounts conversations, feelings, people and places.

Then, something occurred to me: Would I write the following in my diary?:

5/28/2009 - My wireless personal communicator vibrated to life, sending out a shrill version of a hip-hop song that only sounded decent with the sort of bass impossible with such a small speaker. I grabbed the small device, checking the OLED outer screen that gave me a visual representation of the person calling. It was my wife.

I opened the communicator, admiring the arrangement of a myriad number of buttons. What a marvelous device, capable of snapping pictures that contain over three million individual pixels, store thousands of songs, and even log into the global computer network to pull up maps and satellite photos of any place on the planet.

The power of the small machine was astounding. I pressed it to my ear, all that technology thrumming in the palm of my hand.

"Hello?" I said.

It was my wife. She wanted to make sure we had something to entertain us tonight. An optical video disc that would project high definition images to our flat-screen plasma display. We did, but there was a problem...

...we'd seen them all.

I threw the personal global photographic personal communicator into the small pouch on the front of my leggings and grabbed my keys. Outside, I punched a button on the fob, sending micro-pulses of radio activity to a sensor in my vehicle. It recognized the signal and servos sprung to life, unlocking the doors.

Settling behind the wheel, I cranked the engine of my 1997 Geo Metro and studied the dash. The fuel gauge was low, but I had bigger problems: a danger indicator in the shape of a small combustion engine was flashing. It had been doing this for eight years. Would today be the day? I tried to push the horror out of my mind.

The Geo Metro eased out of my parking hangar and onto the streets. Hundreds of makes and models of enclosed personal transportation devices hummed and zoomed along. Most of them were much larger than my Geo, but all of them contained a single human. I merged with the flow carefully and was swept along like flotsam on a swift current.

One of the many food warehouses loomed on my right, its tall sign supported by a single column of steel and lit up with hundreds of internal LED lamps. I docked my 1997 Geo Metro in an empty space and hurried to the large, squat building.

Sensors anticipated my arrival, my body breaking their unflagging concentration, and two motorized doors swished to either side. I shook my head at the genius of the arrangement. If I had my personal communicator out, and I was sending a textual update to my Facebook page, or composing a 160-word addendum to my Twitter account, I could have done so without pausing to grasp a door handle.

They had thought of everything.

I tried not to get distracted... I was only here for one thing, and thankfully, the large red machine didn't have a line. My wallet was already out, my personal banking chip sliding out of its housing. For just a moment, I became lost in the mesmerizing hologram stamped on the front. Bank of America. The colors shimmered and danced above the surface. I turned the chip over and noted the dark magnetic strip on the rear. All of my banking info was stored here with thousands of 1's and 0's.

The chip slid through the receptacle on the red machine. Flipping through the options, I ruled out anything that I might enjoy. I needed something with two people on the cover, preferably one of each sex. If Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston was the female, there would be bonus points in my wife's unconscious tally. I found an optical video disc that suited and pressed a button, listening to the whirring and clicking of hundreds of gears as my choice was being delivered by the robotics within...

Ahem. Yeah. See the problem? Nobody writes like this. Except, perhaps, unpublished sci-fi authors. We are all constantly using technology that we do not understand. We don't know how the stuff is made, the scientific principles of their operation, heck... we don't even know how to use the majority of its functions. My simple oven is capable of things that I will never use it for.

We live in a world of yesterday's science fiction--and we don't even know it. The same is true of Molly Fyde. The story she left behind (or is going to leave behind) is one of emotions, not of science. The fact that it takes place in the future means less than one would think. Just as Homer's poems speak to me across thousands of years of unchanging human emotions, so does Molly's adventures, which are just 400 years away.

So, for those of you who want to know how every little gadget in Molly's time works, you're not alone. I'm curious as well, and I'm doing my best to uncover what I can. But, the more I learn about Molly and her friends, the less these details bother me for inclusion in my narrative. I'm not going to write this like my sample, above. I'm just going to tell the story, which is primarily about these amazing people and the love and devotion that forms between them.


Back to the Research

After being consumed by my research into Molly's life for half a year, I expected the dissemination of her work to provide a much-needed respite. The opposite has been the case. Delving into the nasty world of book publishing has me longing for a return to The Reader and my editing of the second entry in her narrative.

There are so many other people out there selling science fiction that my science fact is lost in the noise. And how can a story, no matter how adventurous and bizarre, compete with the pure fancy of fiction? Well, for me, there's no contest. Knowing that these events will happen makes them more powerful in my esteem.

My last week has been almost as crazy as my visit by the Bern Seer. It began with some research into various agents and publishers. If I wanted to submit directly to a publisher I could, but they are swamped on entries and cutting back on publications (especially first-time authors). Better to have an agent get you on top of the pile.

So, I've sent query letters to a dozen agents that handle science fiction (I can't avoid the genre. People will believe James Frey... but not this). The problem here is that they are contracting as well. If my writing is not spectacular enough to sell Molly's story on page 1, they move to the next query. And I don't blame them. The reader is going to do the same thing.

One small publisher is interested and another has asked for sample chapters. It will be interesting to hear their opinion on my writing. They will, of course, be judging it alongside fiction that is meant to entertain. Did I do an adequate job of detailing Molly's adventures in a manner appropriate for casual readers? I suppose that's the crux of this exercise. To settle that question.

It'll be a few weeks before the dust settles and my options for spreading Molly's tale can be properly gauged. Until then, I need to get back to what I used to find laborious and now recognize as comforting. Back to the second book with a full edit. I would love to have the draft readable and complete before I depart on my "vacation." More on that later.