Psychoanalysis of Konrad Schreiber

Konrad Schreiber is an incredibly complex character, hence why it took me so long to create him. That being said, certain aspects of him were obvious to me from the very beginning: I knew he would have to be a quantum programmer, I knew he would have to become a killer, and I knew he would have to be a schizophrenic. Everything else evolved over time.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt. 9

Along with today’s post on The Placeholder Theory, I’m happy to announce that Placeholder is now available in Ebook in all major formats (ePub, Mobi, Palm doc, Sony LRF, PDF, RTF, Plain Text, and HTML/JavaScript versions for instant online gratification), and of course, you can read a free sample of the book right there on the website (no sign-in required).  Check out my twitter feed for a limited time half-price coupon code, too. also distributes ebooks to all major vendors, so keep an eye out for it in the coming weeks on the Apple iBookstore, Amazon Kindle store, Barnes & Noble Nook store, and even from Kobo.  If you haven’t already checked it out, now’s the best time.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.8

We finally arrive at quantum computer programming.  The thing you have to understand about quantum computers is that they aren’t just an improvement on technology, they are part of a whole new science of computing.  Being able to harness quantum states and systems as data and operators will allow us to accurately and precisely model all knowable aspects of quantum systems (inasmuch as ‘accurate’ and ‘precise’ serve as reliable descriptors of quantum phenomena).  And as a whole new science of computation, new low-level and high-level languages will be needed to program these quantum computers, because classical data types and operators are simply incompatible with quantum systems.  But there’s more to it than that—quantum computers also give us unique new approaches to computing that a classical system cannot even fathom.  That’s why Feynman suggested a quantum computer be built in the first place.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.7

We’ve finally arrived at my favourite subject: computers.  Specifically, the quantum and optical computers used in the SPQS Universe.  Amusingly enough, I designed my first optical/quantum computer hybrid when I was 14 (it was the summer between grade 9 and 10, the same summer I postulated my first TOE, a hyperspace theory of quantum gravity—yeah yeah, it was hopelessly derivative and full of significant holes, but I was only a teenager and I had only just begun studying quantum mechanics and string theory.  Hyperspace seemed like a legitimate option until I realized it was the theoretical physics equivalent of the Aether).  At the time I didn’t really believe a solely quantum computer was possible, and I didn’t have much hope for any significant progress with nanocomputers either—even though around the same time I was a member of the Nanocomputer Dream Team.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.6

Field-induced Molecular Reconstruction and Rearrangement.  A technology seemingly so fanciful that some might question its place in Hard Sci-Fi.  But as strange as it might be to say or conceptualize, it is a technology we can legitimately expect this century.  First, to dispel some obvious criticisms: no, I’m not talking about Star-Trek-like replicators.  The technology, if energetically feasible, will have certain inescapable limitations—and in regards to its applications for food preparation, those limitations will be in the area of preparing a very limited range of dishes, from mush to brick, with certain specific key ingredients.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.5

Metamaterials are perhaps one of the most exciting areas of 21st century physics and engineering, and will allow us to accomplish effects not possible with naturally-structured materials.  But I should make something clear up-front.  Metamaterials aren’t necessarily new synthetic chemical substances exhibiting strange properties, they are new periodic structures of existing materials (though certainly, custom-designed polymers could be useful for certain applications), that allow for desirable macroscopic effects.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.4

I have always felt that nuclear power was our future, because the power of the atom is undeniable.  But power that great needs to be respected, controlled, and very carefully monitored.  The current tragedy in Japan is a fair enough example of that, but the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters should have been more than enough.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.3

As promised, today’s post will focus on legitimate and speculative (plausible, albeit beyond our current capabilities) methods of creating ‘artificial gravity.’  There are actually very few options, so for the SPQS Universe, I settled on two primary approaches: the sloppy and cheap way, which civilians and research vessels are stuck with, and the right way, which only military and luxury vessels/stations can afford.  Although, it should be stated up-front that “the right way” isn’t really ‘artificial gravity’ at all—because, technically speaking of course, ‘artificial gravity’ implies using a different force to achieve the impression of gravity where there is little to none (microgravity, or micrograv for short).

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.2

One of the more important pieces of technology in Placeholder is the Lévi–Yang Field Generator.  In practice, it is similar in purpose and function to the Stasis or Hypersleep pods that commonly appear in science fiction; only, I took the time to think of how a piece of technology like that might actually be possible.  It’s not enough to say ‘it freezes time’, or as in the pilot episode of Red Dwarf, Todhunter puts it:

The stasis room creates a static field of time. See, just as X-rays can’t pass through lead, time cannot penetrate a stasis field. So, although you exist, you no longer exist in time, and for you time itself does not exist. You see, although you’re still a mass, you are no longer an event in space-time, you are a non-event mass with a quantum probability of zero.

— Red Dwarf, Ep. 1.01 “The End”

Funny?  Yes.  But effectively (and purposely) meaningless.  Red Dwarf can get away with it because it’s a parodic sci-fi comedy, but since I was going for Hard Sci-Fi, I felt I had a responsibility not to shrug it off.

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The Science of Placeholder, Pt.1

If you’ve been working through Placeholder, you may have noticed that the first half of the book is a little science-heavy.  I determined right from the first moment I decided to write science fiction, that I wanted to write Hard Sci-Fi; no compromises, no fluff, and no technobabble.  Being only a hobby physicist at best, I naturally doubted in my ability to accomplish this feat, but with the kind guidance of the web and some choice textbooks on all the subjects that would have to be presented with an explanation to be believable, I went to work.  It’s up to my readers now to tell me how well I fared.

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