Zeus Alone Worlds


Zeus Alone tells the story of Mik Sturm's thrilling quest in 2120.

Just a hundred years earlier, humans inhabited only Earth. Now there are three worlds. Together with a few friends, Mik travels from Earth to Alpha Base on Luna, and then on to Olympus City on Mars. About a year later, they return to Earth, and to the source of the evil they thought was behind them.

It is highly probable that the three worlds of Zeus Alone will emerge after the Great Tilt—a period of global disruption (beginning circa 2030), caused by climate change, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and a few other global challenges. These worlds will share several distinctive and radically new features—three different geographies, but a family resemblance:

Ubiquitous Surveillance
Immersive VAR
Smart Sims
Media Saturation
Genetic Engineering
Gender/Racial/Sexual Equity
Planetary AI Cores
Universal Brain Training


Earth is an information-connected planet surrounded by a data cloud of Earth Core's nodes and comms. (Image by Pete Linforth)


Luna depends on "home world" and Earth Core's inputs and outputs. (Image by David A. Hardy)


Mars in 2120 has two cities that are simply dome clusters connected by spokes and by Mars Core's data network. (Image by Mauricio Pampin)

Zeus Alone 2120 Worlds Profile

Ubiquitous Surveillance

In the aftermath of the Tilt, most population centers and city states of Earth are surviving; a few are flourishing. Much money is invested in security and surveillance systems. Security capitalism has became a useful business model for post-Tilt corporations. Companies like NodesᴙUs developed rugged surveillance units or nodes with sensitive eyes, ears, and noses that could triangulate to the location of the source of unusual stimuli. The nodes talked to each other, and they all talked with Earth Core or Mars Core.

Individuals' identities can be tracked via Wiegand ID pins and proximity readers. Also, the Cores can use face-match data, voice and behavior-match profiles, comm transaction logs, and data feeds from multiple geospatial positional satellites. ID fraud is a capital offense.

From Zeus Alone . . .

My front, and only window sputtered on and roughly resolved into my outside view conveyed by the old node installed outside my door. I remembered the day when I first understood why my mother called them "shadow windows" that may or may not show truth. It was the day she explained to me where the boxes of artificial eyes and ears and noses came from. She told me that, even before the Tilt, much money had been invested in security and surveillance systems. Security capitalism became a fast-growth business sector as people became more afraid of the uncertainties of those times. They feared for their safety at every turn. Many paid many credits to buy the illusion of ensured safety in that topsy-turvy world.

I remembered the sadness in her voice when she described the security debates by Earth's city states that were still coalescing at the end of the Tilt. Security for all was everyone's top priority. The trade-off was the loss of any meaningful expectation of privacy. The security of all required a castration of individual privacy. We had to relinquish anonymity for the right to be assumed innocent. It was part of the new tilt. She explained that part of Earth Core had become an enterprise data cloud that could be seeded by private businesses like NodesᴙUs Corporation that developed rugged surveillance units with eyes, ears, and noses that could identify the sources of unusual stimuli. The nodes talked to each other, and they all talked with Earth Core. I remembered how she squeezed my hands tightly when she told me to always be aware that I am probably being watched and listened for––even in the forests where there are nodes that watch and sniff for fires and wild animals.

▲TOP

Immersive VAR

A Virtual/Augmented Reality (VAR) program is immersive to the extent that it is vivid and interactive—ideas explored by Jonathan Steuer and Albert Borgmann. Vividness, the force that virtual reality exerts on a person, has two dimensions: depth and breadth. Depth refers to resolution, and breadth is the number of human senses a VR device addresses. If high-res sights, sounds, smells, and touches can be integrated in a VAR program with real-time interactivity, users can lose direct awareness that they are in a virtual reality world.

In the worlds of Zeus Alone, people use VAR caps or helmets that cover the eyes and ears. VAR programs range from brain training routines to interactive games with multiple players. The VAR cap, with the right setting, can keep a camera window open to the real-world scene in front of the user. Some advanced caps can produce synesthesia effects.

Most miners in Lornga on Mars spend their "waking hours" in group dens smoking hookah-type pipes and playing various adult VAR games. Compulsive "denners" wear their VAR caps all the time and rarely encounter their fellow miners face-to-face.

VAR games are a popular form of entertainment and diversion in the time of Zeus Alone. Five games stand out in this story:

  • Aquarium of the Gods (played by Mik with Aletheia at Alpha Base, and with Venna)
  • Gardens of Eldorado (a favorite game of Loong's)
  • Taboo Chambers of Venus (a favorite game of Loong's )
  • fORkU (played by Mildo and Angela)
  • desolation torment (forced on Mik)

From Zeus Alone . . .

“So Ace, I hear that Aquarium of the Gods is a big bongo game. Do you like VAR games?”

“Yeah, on Mars and long hops, I played a feckin lot. But the Psimon, they don’t use that stuff. Long time since I be playin'.”

“Tong told me he just bought the latest Aquarium game…said it’s got tracks by Infiltration...and the bongo Insurgency Resurgencey.”

“They be one of my forkin faves!” I said loudly enough to make nearby heads turn and titter.

“I’m in the groove with synthofrag too.” Eretheme’s deep green eyes widened in delight. “Tong told me that Globe4U and Dysney are going to make zillions, with all the blatts and links with Mama’s Real and all. Tong is up on all the latest games—gets them for his crews to pass the space weeks. He said this Aquarium is the most fun VAR ever.” Eretheme opened her comm and told it “gloss for Aquarium of the Gods.” I leaned in to view the comm's scroll:

<gloss || Aquarium of the Gods> 4-D sim game calibrated for all ARQs. 4-D graphics, infinitely variable synthofrag settings, nano response times, and enhanced synesthesia VAR cap. Next gen AI pushes the boundaries of immersive realism. You can swim like there’s no tomorrow. Play sim now. Pay min later. >> Flick or say SWIMMING GOOD to order. <endgloss || Aquarium of the Gods | Dysney AdultLand and Globe4U Entertainment | 03-19-2116 | E-Core/M-Core>

▲TOP

Smart Sims

Hi-res holographic projections that can be produced by some stationary and mobile coms. They understand human speech and actions, and can have distinct personalities. For example, Ajax aboard the S.S. Ajax for the voyage to Mars.

From Zeus Alone . . .

"Hello Mr. Bing Wong. Are you awake Mr. Bing Wong?" a husky voice asked. Grudgingly, I opened my eyes and stared at the cabin's ceiling in the dim light. "Are you waking up Mr. Bing Wong?" I unfolded my lounge and sat up to see a tall, taut-bodied man standing in the corner, naked but for a plumed helmet and a shield that he held below his waist. "I am Ajax, the ship's steward. Your companions have asked me to wake you in time to attend Captain Ribundo's reception dinner this evening."

▲TOP

Media Saturation

A comm is an integrated sensor array, communication device, and local computer. Stationary comms typically appear as a piece of furniture or a small globe attached to a wall or suspended from the ceiling. Mobile comms can be carried as personal accessories or worn like arm or wrist bands. Advanced comms have sim projectors and can travel on autonomous, mobile platforms.

Comms are everywhere, especially on Earth. And everything is available via comms. Parts of Earth Core and Mars Core had become enterprise data clouds that could be seeded by private businesses—for a price. The Cores offered millions of news and entertainment channels that are available according to the user's ARQ score (see universal brain training), and personal subscriptions.

▲TOP

Genetic Engineering

Human genetic engineering is prohibited on Earth, but the Psimon Order has produced genetically altered animals called donzi that are capable of rudimentary speech. On Mars, human genetic engineering is allowed and many Mars-born humans, called phids, are genetically altered for the Martian environment. Female phid clones help to expand the small Mars population.

From Zeus Alone . . .

“In recent years, we have watched the Martian colonists ambitiously expand Olympus City and Lornga. We have watched as many of them genetically altered themselves into phids. And we have all witnessed growing tensions and conflicts between Earth humans and Mars humans." Again, Master Alor paused, gathering his robe about himself as if a cold wind were rising.

The tall, sinewy, grey-skinned phid blinked his owl-like eyes and smiled broadly showing perfectly formed pearl-grey teeth between his dark grey lips.

She was dressed in a provocative phid manner with only iridescent bub cups, short pants, and heavy boots that extended to her taut calves. "There you be... my favorite guest," she called out louder than necessary as she jumped to her feet and walked over, her hands on her slender swaying hips. "Why you never give me winks at Captain table? You say you have big fun with me and Besoo that night with Zeus play."

▲TOP

Gender/Racial/Sexual Equity

Even before the Tilt, a binary societal structure based on the stereotypical attributes of the male gender was beginning to be questioned. After the Tilt, it was obvious to most humans that patriarchy had become condescending, elitist, and self-serving as a power structure. Sexual and racial diversity come to be seen as both normal and desirable.

Political and economic control structures on Earth and Luna are female-gendered dominant, reversing the male-dominant social order before the Tilt. The Temperance Templars hierarchy are all female priests who trace their roots to the great priestess Ohprah a hundred years ago. Most corporate enterprises are headed by women.

However, the control structures on Mars are still male-gendered dominant by virtue of the ratio of males to females in the early years of Mars colonization. Nevertheless, female phids (see genetic engineering), are aggressive and often sexually dominant.

▲TOP

Planetary AI Cores

Earth Core and Mars Core are the top-level AI systems that control all network inputs and outputs on each planet. Because of the electromagnetic signal transmission time gap between Earth and Mars (between 4.3 minutes and 21 minutes, depending on the current distance between the two planets), the two Cores cannot be synchronized with each other. They can only send certain delayed data and code updates to each other.

Both Cores calibrate and revise and administer the ARQ test and the Brain Train (see universal brain training), system to all humans. The current ARQ score for each human determines level of access to Core content.

Earth Core and Mars Core ensure that all brain training is equal, uniform, and continually calibrated. Centroid Logics was the first developer of the Inner Core—often called Core Control, or simply the Core.

▲TOP

Universal Brain Training

The ARQ (ambiguity-resolution quotient) is computed by the Cores during a person's brain training. The current ARQ score for each human determines the level of access to Core content. A low ARQ limits access to simple, highly literal, and idealized content; higher ARQs enable people to access increasingly higher levels of content—increasingly complex, ambiguous, and explicit and graphic in presentation or representation.

The components of the Brain Train system are intermingled with the messages and responses continually being sent to people on Earth and Mars via their comms, sim projectors, and VAR caps. In a random and subtle manner, the Brain Train components are designed to reinforce previous social-value learning and to present clever insinuations that associate priority values with new consumption behaviors.

The Brain Train system covers:

  • ID & comm hygiene and security
  • basic values formation
  • conditioned responses to law enforcement prompts
  • emotional Intelligence assessment: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills

▲TOP

► Zeus Alone Preview

Zeus Alone is a science fiction novel by Joseph Corrado. Contact: jkc@centroidcafe.com.



The Grid Falls
by Joseph Corrado

Read Chapter 1 of Zeus Alone.

Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2019 centroidcafé.com