1C: pre - launch sequence

by Skin Tone

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At the beginning of the 23rd century the resources required to sustain the vast computing and telecommunications network that had blossomed in the previous centuries were in short supply. The added demands of the extra-terrestrial colonies and the conservationist policies surrounding the asteroid belt forced the extractive industries to look beyond our solar system and thus the deep space race began. Mining corporations; heavily subsidized by the various national, international and interplanetary governments, began developing long-term exploratory missions and establishing a web of extreme deep-space communication infrastructure.Our story begins here as these missions, decades long, lifetimes long, are just beginning.
There was a recruitment station at the job fair on campus. My masters supervisor had recommended I go to the job fair. Which I took to mean that I wasn’t cut out for a PhD. The job fair was a few weeks before my defense. For the sake of my education I had accrued a great deal of debt and no immediately profitable skills. While personally rewarding at times my masters degree in linguistics was not hugely attractive to potential employers. At the job fair a young woman approached me. Her smile was improbably large. She asked me what I was looking for, I said a job. She laughed and asked me what I studied, I said linguistics. We might have some opportunities for that she said as she handed me a pen. It was a blue pen with a lanyard. BarrickTX was printed on the pen in gold. After the recruitment fair I went to the bank. The job fair had failed to inspire me and I wondered how long I had before I needed to work. I had some savings, I thought. There was coffee, in a large thermos by the door of the bank. The interior was brand new. Every surface was a touch screen. Except for the yellowed plastic of the thermos and the ecoboard cups beside it. I poured myself a cup and got in line. Predictably the bank said I had to work immediately. The banker showed me a three-dee-rendering of the architecture of my debt. It was incomprehensible to me. The banker told me I needed to start making money right now. I was afraid as I rode home on the metro. How could I repay a debt I didn’t even understand. How was I so ill-prepared for the world that I didn’t even know what the punishment could be for falling into arrears. I tried to curl myself into a ball. I tried to collapse into the seat of the metrocar. I tried to sink into the seat down and down. The people around me, I worried could see my debt, see my ill-preparedness, could see through me and see that I wasn’t like them, that I was a failure. When I got home as I fumbled for my keys in my jacket pocket my hand happened upon the pen from the recruitment station at the job fair. BarrickTX. I recognized the name they were a large company. An international player. I started looking them up before I was even through the door. What had the woman said? “We might have some opportunities for that.” It turned out that BarrickTX was an umbrella trade-name for a variety of companies involved in various parts of the extraction industry. BarrickTX like everyone else in the extraction game had been sinking vast sums of money into the development of interstellar operations. Telecom owned the Solar system. And they took a conservationist position claiming that the gravitational impact of large-scale extra-terrestrial extraction in the inner solar system was a serious risk to the long-term viability of their satellite arrays and thus their business interests. But beyond the solar colonies… Well, that was fair game and ever since ValeAstro, it became a tangible dream. BarrickTX was prepared to launch it’s phase 2 exploration and acquisition missions. Ultra deep space. They were indeed hiring biologists, geologists, roughnecks and linguists.
“So, tell us Dr. Bagayogo, what does the Balakrishnan-Li process do?” “The Balakrishnan-Li process is a method to sustain life over a long period of time. It pauses something. It pauses everything. It holds a being outside time, beyond development or entropy.” “How does this process work?” “Slowly a person is shut down. Chemically they are taken to the point of minimal function. The organs the brain, everything is taken beyond a point of rest to almost perfect idleness” “What does it feel like?” There is no feeling. These people are gone far beyond consciousness. Consciousness is epiphenomenal. It is unnecessary, it, it’s an obstacle for suspended animation. It must be removed from the equation. “And how do you do that without killing someone?” "When someone drowns there is a moment. Before the body is fully asphyxiated. When the subconscious takes over, the brain operates purely on instinct - on survival instinct and supersedes the consciousness. This is the moment we seek for suspended animation - a brain functioning just enough to avoid atrophy, to stay alive but not active enough for presence for development, for growth, for change... or regression.” “How long can a person stay like this?” "The Universe is infinitely vast. Human appetite is infinitely large. One day surely we will want to cross the vastness of the universe. Ha. And with even today’s techniques we could."


released February 15, 2016

Cast (in order of appearance)

Narrator: Francesca Tallone
The Linguist: James Goddard
Reporter: Hera Chan
Polaris Medtech Marketing Rep: Natasha Desmarais
Dr. Bagayogo: Elena Stoodley

Music by Skin Tone

All recorded / mixed / mastered by Alec Dippie

Exceptions: “a brief introduction to the future” features additional recording/mixing by Farley Miller; “a modern entrapment” features a field recording by James Goddard; and “the morning of the launch” features material from the Houston Audio Control Room at NASA Johnson Space Centre.


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Skin Tone Montreal, Québec

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