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  • About Me | H Peter Alesso

    My Story I love words, but that wasn't always the case. ​ I grew up with a talent for numbers, leading me to follow a different path. I went to Annapolis and MIT and became a nuclear physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Only after retiring was my desire to tell stories reawakened. ​ In recent years, I have immersed myself in the world of words, drawing on my scientific knowledge and personal experience to shape my writing. As a scientist, I explored physics and technology, which enabled me to create informative and insightful books, sharing my knowledge with readers who sought to expand their understanding in these areas—contributing to their intellectual growth while satisfying my own passion. But it was my time as a naval officer, that genuinely ignited my imagination and propelled me into science fiction. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy and serving on nuclear submarines during both hot and cold wars, I witnessed firsthand the complexities and challenges of military operations that seamen face daily. This allowed me a unique perspective, which I channeled into creating Henry Gallant and a 22nd-century world where a space officer fought against invading aliens. Through this narrative, I explored the depths of human resilience, the mysteries of space, and the intricacies of military conflict. ​ My stories let me share the highlights of my journey with you. ​ I hope you enjoy the ride. 1/9

  • Contact | H Peter Alesso

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  • Hall of Fame | H Peter Alesso

    Science Fiction Writers Hall of Fame Isaac Asimov Asimov is one of the foundational voices of 20th-century science fiction. His work often incorporated hard science, creating an engaging blend of scientific accuracy and imaginative speculation. Known for his "Robot" and "Foundation" series, Asimov's ability to integrate scientific principles with compelling narratives has left an enduring legacy in the field. Arthur C. Clarke The author of numerous classics including "2001: A Space Odyssey," Clarke's work is notable for its visionary, often prophetic approach to future technologies and space exploration. His thoughtful, well-researched narratives stand as enduring examples of 'hard' science fiction. Robert A. Heinlein Heinlein, one of science fiction's most controversial and innovative writers, is best known for books like "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Starship Troopers." His work is known for its strong political ideologies and exploration of societal norms. Philip K. Dick With stories often marked by paranoid and dystopian themes, Dick's work explores philosophical, sociological, and political ideas. His books like "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" inspired numerous films, solidifying his impact on popular culture. Ray Bradbury Known for his poetic prose and poignant societal commentary, Bradbury's work transcends genre. His dystopian novel "Fahrenheit 451" remains a touchstone in the canon of 20th-century literature, and his short stories continue to inspire readers and writers alike. Ursula K. Le Guin Le Guin's works, such as "The Left Hand of Darkness" and the "Earthsea" series, often explored themes of gender, sociology, and anthropology. Her lyrical prose and profound explorations of human nature have left an indelible mark on science fiction. Frank Herbert The author of the epic "Dune" series, Herbert crafted a detailed and complex future universe. His work stands out for its intricate plotlines, political intrigue, and environmental themes. William Gibson Gibson is known for his groundbreaking cyberpunk novel "Neuromancer," where he coined the term 'cyberspace.' His speculative fiction often explores the effects of technology on society. H.G. Wells Although Wells's works were published on the cusp of the 20th century, his influence carried well into it. Known for classics like "The War of the Worlds" and "The Time Machine", Wells is often hailed as a father of science fiction. His stories, filled with innovative ideas and social commentary, have made an indelible impact on the genre. Larry Niven Known for his 'Ringworld' series and 'Known Space' stories, Niven's hard science fiction works are noted for their imaginative, scientifically plausible scenarios and compelling world-building. Octavia Butler Butler's work often incorporated elements of Afrofuturism and tackled issues of race and gender. Her "Xenogenesis" series and "Kindred" are known for their unique and poignant explorations of human nature and society. Orson Scott Card Best known for his "Ender's Game" series, Card's work combines engaging narrative with introspective examination of characters. His stories often explore ethical and moral dilemmas. Alfred Bester Bester's "The Stars My Destination" and "The Demolished Man" are considered classics of the genre. His work is recognized for its powerful narratives and innovative use of language. Kurt Vonnegut Though not strictly a science fiction writer, Vonnegut's satirical and metafictional work, like "Slaughterhouse-Five," often used sci-fi elements to highlight the absurdities of human condition. Harlan Ellison Known for his speculative and often dystopian short stories, Ellison's work is distinguished by its cynical tone, inventive narratives, and biting social commentary. Stanislaw Lem Lem's work, such as "Solaris," often dealt with philosophical questions. Philip José Farmer Known for his "Riverworld" series, Farmer's work often explored complex philosophical and social themes through creative world-building and the use of historical characters. He is also recognized for his innovations in the genre and the sexual explicitness of some of his work. J. G. Ballard Best known for his novels "Crash" and "High-Rise", Ballard's work often explored dystopian modernities and psychological landscapes. His themes revolved around surrealistic and post-apocalyptic visions of the human condition, earning him a unique place in the sci-fi genre. AI Science Fiction Hall of Fame As a science fiction aficionado and AI expert, there's nothing more exciting to me t han exploring the relationship between sci-fi literature and artificial intelligence. Science fiction is an innovative genre, often years ahead of its time, an d has influenced AI's development in ways you might not expect. But it's not just techies like us who should be interested - students of AI can learn a lot from these visionary authors. So buckle up, as we're about to embark on an insider's journey through the most famous science fiction writers in the hall of fame! The Science Fiction-AI Connection Science fiction and AI go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, one could argue that some of our most advanced AI concepts and technologies sprung from the seeds planted by sci-fi authors. I remember as a young techie, curled up with my dog, reading Isaac Asimov’s "I, Robot". I was just a teenager, but that book completely changed how I saw the potential of AI. ​ The Most Famous Sci-Fi Writers and their AI Visions Ready for a deep dive into the works of the greats? Let's take a closer look at some of the most famous science fiction writers in the hall of fame, and how their imaginations have shaped the AI we know today. ​ Isaac Asimov: Crafting the Ethics of AI You can't talk about AI in science fiction without first mentioning Isaac Asimov. His "I, Robot" introduced the world to the Three Laws of Robotics, a concept that continues to influence AI development today. As an AI student, I remember being fascinated by how Asimov's robotic laws echoed the ethical considerations we must grapple with in real-world AI. ​ Philip K. Dick: Dreaming of Synthetic Humans Next up, Philip K. Dick. If you've seen Blade Runner, you've seen his influence at work. In "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (the book Blade Runner is based on), Dick challenges us to question what it means to be human and how AI might blur those lines. It's a thought that has certainly kept me up late on more than a few coding nights! ​ Arthur C. Clarke: AI, Autonomy, and Evolution Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey" has been both a source of inspiration and caution in my work. The AI character HAL 9000 is an eerie portrayal of autonomous AI systems' potential power and risks. It's a reminder that AI, like any technology, can be a double-edged sword. ​ William Gibson: AI in Cyberspace Finally, William Gibson's "Neuromancer" gave us a vision of AI in cyberspace before the internet was even a household name. I still remember my shock reading about an AI entity in the digital ether - years later, that same concept is integral to AI in cybersecurity. ​ The Power of Creativity These authors' works are testaments to the power of creativity in imagining the possibilities of AI. As students, you'll need to push boundaries and think outside the box - just like these authors did. ​ Understanding Potential and Limitations The stories these authors spun provide us with vivid scenarios of AI's potential and limitations. They remind us that while AI has massive potential, it's not without its challenges and dangers. ​ Conclusion And there we have it - our deep dive into the most famous science fiction writers in the hall of fame and their influence on AI. Their work is not just fiction; it's a guiding light, illuminating the path that has led us to the AI world we live in today. As students, we have the opportunity to shape the AI of tomorrow, just as these authors did. So why not learn from the best? Science Fiction Greats of the 21st Century Neal Stephenson is renowned for his complex narratives and incredibly detailed world-building. His Baroque Cycle trilogy is a historical masterpiece, while Snow Crash brought the concept of the 'Metaverse' into popular culture. China Miéville has won several prestigious awards for his 'weird fiction,' a blend of fantasy and science fiction. Books like Perdido Street Station and The City & The City are both acclaimed and popular. His work is known for its rich, evocative language and innovative concepts. Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his Mars trilogy, an epic tale about the terraforming and colonization of Mars. He's famous for blending hard science, social commentary, and environmental themes. He continues this trend in his 21st-century works like the climate-focused New York 2140. Margaret Atwood, while also recognized for her mainstream fiction, has made significant contributions to science fiction. Her novel The Handmaid's Tale and its sequel The Testaments provide a chilling dystopian vision of a misogynistic society. Her MaddAddam trilogy further underscores her unique blend of speculative fiction and real-world commentary. Alastair Reynolds is a leading figure in the hard science fiction subgenre, known for his space opera series Revelation Space. His work, often centered around post-humanism and AI, is praised for its scientific rigor and inventive plotlines. Reynolds, a former scientist at the European Space Agency, incorporates authentic scientific concepts into his stories. Paolo Bacigalupi's works often deal with critical environmental and socio-economic themes. His debut novel The Windup Girl won both the Hugo and Nebula awards and is renowned for its bio-punk vision of the future. His YA novel, Ship Breaker, also received critical acclaim, winning the Michael L. Printz Award. Ann Leckie's debut novel Ancillary Justice, and its sequels, are notable for their exploration of AI, gender, and colonialism. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, a rare feat in science fiction literature. Her unique narrative styles and complex world-building are highly appreciated by fans and critics alike. Iain M. Banks was a Scottish author known for his expansive and imaginative 'Culture' series. Though he passed away in 2013, his work remains influential in the genre. His complex storytelling and exploration of post-scarcity societies left a significant mark in science fiction. William Gibson is one of the key figures in the cyberpunk sub-genre, with his novel Neuromancer coining the term 'cyberspace.' In the 21st century, he continued to innovate with his Blue Ant trilogy. His influence on the genre, in terms of envisioning the impacts of technology on society, is immense. Ted Chiang is highly regarded for his thoughtful and philosophical short stories. His collection Stories of Your Life and Others includes "Story of Your Life," which was adapted into the film Arrival. Each of his carefully crafted tales explores a different scientific or philosophical premise. Charlie Jane Anders is a diverse writer who combines elements of science fiction, fantasy, and more in her books. Her novel All the Birds in the Sky won the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novel. She's also known for her work as an editor of the science fiction site io9. N.K. Jemisin is the first author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row, for her Broken Earth Trilogy. Her works are celebrated for their diverse characters, intricate world-building, and exploration of social issues. She's one of the most influential contemporary voices in fantasy and science fiction. Liu Cixin is China's most prominent science fiction writer and the first Asian author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel, for The Three-Body Problem. His Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy is praised for its grand scale and exploration of cosmic civilizations. His work blends hard science with complex philosophical ideas. John Scalzi is known for his accessible writing style and humor. His Old Man's War series is a popular military science fiction saga, and his standalone novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He's also recognized for his blog "Whatever," where he discusses writing, politics, and more. Cory Doctorow is both a prolific author and an advocate for internet freedom. His novel Little Brother, a critique of increased surveillance, is frequently used in educational settings. His other novels, like Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, are known for their examination of digital rights and technology's impact on society. Octavia Butler (1947-2006) was an award-winning author known for her incisive exploration of race, gender, and societal structures within speculative fiction. Her works like the Parable series and Fledgling have continued to influence and inspire readers well into the 21st century. Her final novel, Fledgling, a unique take on vampire mythology, was published in 2005. Peter F. Hamilton is best known for his space opera series such as the Night's Dawn trilogy and the Commonwealth Saga. His work is often noted for its scale, complex plotting, and exploration of advanced technology and alien civilizations. Despite their length, his books are praised for maintaining tension and delivering satisfying conclusions. Ken Liu is a prolific author and translator in science fiction. His short story "The Paper Menagerie" is the first work of fiction to win the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards. As a translator, he's known for bringing Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem to English-speaking readers. Ian McDonald is a British author known for his vibrant and diverse settings, from a future India in River of Gods to a colonized Moon in the Luna series. His work often mixes science fiction with other genres, and his narrative style has been praised as vivid and cinematic. He has won several awards, including the Hugo, for his novellas and novels. James S.A. Corey is the pen name of collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. They're known for The Expanse series, a modern space opera exploring politics, humanity, and survival across the solar system. The series has been adapted into a critically acclaimed television series. Becky Chambers is praised for her optimistic, character-driven novels. Her debut, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, kickstarted the popular Wayfarers series and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her focus on interpersonal relationships and diverse cultures sets her work apart from more traditional space operas. Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire trilogy, beginning with Ninefox Gambit, is celebrated for its complex world-building and innovative use of technology. The series is known for its intricate blend of science, magic, and politics. Lee is also noted for his exploration of gender and identity in his works. Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series is a speculative future history that blends philosophy, politics, and social issues in a post-scarcity society. The first book in the series, Too Like the Lightning, was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Her work is appreciated for its unique narrative voice and in-depth world-building. Charlie Stross specializes in hard science fiction and space opera, with notable works including the Singularity Sky series and the Laundry Files series. His books often feature themes such as artificial intelligence, post-humanism, and technological singularity. His novella "Palimpsest" won the Hugo Award in 2010. Kameron Hurley is known for her raw and gritty approach to science fiction and fantasy. Her novel The Light Brigade is a time-bending military science fiction story, while her Bel Dame Apocrypha series has been praised for its unique world-building. Hurley's work often explores themes of gender, power, and violence. Andy Weir shot to fame with his debut novel The Martian, a hard science fiction tale about a man stranded on Mars. It was adapted into a successful Hollywood film starring Matt Damon. His later works, Artemis and Project Hail Mary, continue his trend of scientifically rigorous, yet accessible storytelling. Jeff VanderMeer is a central figure in the New Weird genre, blending elements of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His Southern Reach Trilogy, starting with Annihilation, explores ecological themes through a mysterious, surreal narrative. The trilogy has been widely praised, with Annihilation adapted into a major motion picture. Nnedi Okorafor's Africanfuturist works blend science fiction, fantasy, and African culture. Her novella Binti won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Her works are often celebrated for their unique settings, compelling characters, and exploration of themes such as cultural conflict and identity. Claire North is a pen name of Catherine Webb, who also writes under Kate Griffin. As North, she has written several critically acclaimed novels, including The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Her works are known for their unique concepts and thoughtful exploration of time and memory. M.R. Carey is the pen name of Mike Carey, known for his mix of horror and science fiction. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts is a fresh take on the zombie genre, and it was later adapted into a film. Carey's works are celebrated for their compelling characters and interesting twists on genre conventions. Greg Egan is an Australian author known for his hard science fiction novels and short stories. His works often delve into complex scientific and mathematical concepts, such as artificial life and the nature of consciousness. His novel Diaspora is considered a classic of hard science fiction. Steven Erikson is best known for his epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen. However, he has also made significant contributions to science fiction with works like Rejoice, A Knife to the Meat. His works are known for their complex narratives, expansive world-building, and philosophical undertones. Vernor Vinge is a retired San Diego State University professor of mathematics and computer science and a Hugo award-winning science fiction author. Although his most famous work, A Fire Upon the Deep, was published in the 20th century, his later work including the sequel, Children of the Sky, has continued to influence the genre. He is also known for his 1993 essay "The Coming Technological Singularity," in which he argues that rapid technological progress will soon lead to the end of the human era. Jo Walton has written several novels that mix science fiction and fantasy, including the Hugo and Nebula-winning Among Others. Her Thessaly series, starting with The Just City, is a thought experiment about establishing Plato's Republic in the ancient past. She is also known for her non-fiction work on the history of science fiction and fantasy. Hugh Howey is best known for his series Wool, which started as a self-published short story and grew into a successful series. His works often explore post-apocalyptic settings and the struggle for survival and freedom. Howey's success has been a notable example of the potential of self-publishing in the digital age. Richard K. Morgan is a British author known for his cyberpunk and dystopian narratives. His debut novel Altered Carbon, a hardboiled cyberpunk mystery, was adapted into a Netflix series. His works are characterized by action-packed plots, gritty settings, and exploration of identity and human nature. Hannu Rajaniemi is a Finnish author known for his unique blend of hard science and imaginative concepts. His debut novel, The Quantum Thief, and its sequels have been praised for their inventive ideas and complex, layered narratives. Rajaniemi, who holds a Ph.D. in mathematical physics, incorporates authentic scientific concepts into his fiction. Stephen Baxter is a British author who often writes hard science fiction. His Xeelee sequence is an expansive future history series covering billions of years. Baxter is known for his rigorous application of scientific principles and his exploration of cosmic scale and deep time. C.J. Cherryh is an American author who has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s. Her Foreigner series, which began in the late '90s and has continued into the 21st century, is a notable science fiction series focusing on political conflict and cultural interaction. She has won multiple Hugo Awards and was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Elizabeth Bear is an American author known for her diverse range of science fiction and fantasy novels. Her novel Hammered, which combines cybernetics and Norse mythology, started the acclaimed Jenny Casey trilogy. She has won multiple awards, including the Hugo, for her novels and short stories. Larry Niven is an American author best known for his Ringworld series, which won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. In the 21st century, he continued the series and collaborated with other authors on several other works, including the Bowl of Heaven series with Gregory Benford. His works often explore hard science concepts and future history. David Mitchell is known for his genre-blending novels, such as Cloud Atlas, which weaves six interconnected stories ranging from historical fiction to post-apocalyptic science fiction. The novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and adapted into a film. His works often explore themes of reality, identity, and interconnectedness. Robert J. Sawyer is a Canadian author known for his accessible style and blend of hard science fiction with philosophical and ethical themes. His Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, which started in 2002, examines an alternate world where Neanderthals became the dominant species. He is a recipient of the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards. Daniel Suarez is known for his high-tech thrillers. His debut novel Daemon and its sequel Freedom™ explore the implications of autonomous computer programs on society. His books are praised for their action-packed narratives and thought-provoking themes related to technology and society. Kazuo Ishiguro is a Nobel Prize-winning author, known for his poignant and thoughtful novels. Never Let Me Go, published in 2005, combines elements of science fiction and dystopian fiction in a heartbreaking narrative about cloned children raised for organ donation. Ishiguro's work often grapples with themes of memory, time, and self-delusion. Malka Older is a humanitarian worker and author known for her Infomocracy trilogy. The series, starting with Infomocracy, presents a near-future world where micro-democracy has become the dominant form of government. Her work stands out for its political savvy and exploration of information technology. James Lovegrove is a versatile British author, known for his Age of Odin series and Pantheon series which blend science fiction with mythology. His Firefly novel series, based on the popular Joss Whedon TV show, has been well received by fans. He's praised for his engaging writing style and inventive blending of genres. Emily St. John Mandel is known for her post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her works often explore themes of memory, fate, and interconnectedness. Her writing is praised for its evocative prose and depth of character. Sue Burke's debut novel Semiosis is an engaging exploration of human and alien coexistence, as well as the sentience of plants. The book was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and spawned a sequel, Interference. Burke's work is known for its realistic characters and unique premise. Tade Thompson is a British-born Yoruba author known for his Rosewater trilogy, an inventive blend of alien invasion and cyberpunk tropes set in a future Nigeria. The first book in the series, Rosewater, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. His works are celebrated for their unique settings and blend of African culture with classic and innovative science fiction themes. Send Your Suggestion First name Last name Email What did you like best? How can we improve? Send Feedback Thanks for sharing your feedback with us!

  • Excerpts | H Peter Alesso

    Excerpts Writing Porfolio Finding Inspiration in Every Turn ​ The Henry Gallant Saga Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space Lieutenant Henry Gallant Henry Gallant and the Warrior Commander Gallant Captain Henry Gallant Commandor Henry Gallant Henry Gallant and the Great Ship Rear Admiral Henry Gallant Midshipman Henry Gallant at the Academy Dramatic Novels Youngblood Dark Genius Captain Hawkins Short Stories All Androids Lie Computer Books Connections Thinking on the Web The Semantic Web The Intelligent Wireless Web E-Video Computer Apps Graphic Novels Screenp lay

  • Home | H. Peter Alesso science fiction author

    H. Peter Alesso Portfolio of Work Past, Present, and Future. " Oh, why is love so complicated?" asked Henry. ​ Alaina said, "It's not so complicated. You just have to love the other person more than yourself." Not everyone who fights is a warrior. ​ A warrior knows what's worth fighting for.

  • Portfolio | H Peter Alesso

    The Henry Gallant Saga COURAGE is only a word . . . until you witness it. Then . . . it is contagious. Henry Gallant is the only Natural left in Earth's genetically engineered space navy. Despite overwhelming odds and the doubts of his shipmates, Gallant refuses to back down as he uses his unique abilities to fight for victory at the farthest reaches of the Solar System. Follow Gallant as he finds the spine to stand tall, vanquish fear, and rain violence upon the methane-breathing enemy aliens. The nation needs a hero like Henry Gallant. He fights! For fans of Horatio Hornblower and Honor Harring ton. 1/9

  • Research | H Peter Alesso

    Research AI HIVE I invite you to join my AI community. Come on a journey into the future of artificial intelligence. AIHIVE has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of our lives, from the way we work to the way we interact with the world around us. ​ Here, we explore the latest advances in AI, discuss the technical and ethical implications of this technology, and share our thoughts on the future. We believe that AI has the potential to make the world a better place, and we are committed to using this ability to create a world where AI benefits all of humanity. ​ Here are some of the things you can find on our website: Directory of leading AI companies News and analysis on AI software Discussions about AI business opportunities Tutorials on artificial intelligence tools AI experts in Silicon Valley Video Software Laboratory The entertainment industry has always been at the forefront of technological innovation, continually transforming the way we create and consume content. In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) have become the primary forces driving this change. These cutting-edge technologies are now dominating the video landscape, opening up new possibilities for creators and redefining the limits of storytelling. AI video innovations are changing in Silicon Valley. Small businesses are creating AI video software tools for interchanging text, audio, and video media.

  • Midshipman Space | H Peter Alesso

    Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space AMAZON Joining the Fleet 1 A massive solar flare roared across the sun, crackling every display console in the tiny spacecraft. “No need to worry, young man. We’re almost there,” said the aged pilot. ​ “I’m not concerned about the storm,” said newly commissioned Midshipman Henry Gallant. Eagerly, he shifted in his seat to get a better view of the massive battlecruiser Repulse that would be his home for the next two years. She was a magnificent fighting machine, a powerful beast in orbit around Jupiter. ​ The pilot maneuvered to minimize the effects of the x-ray and gamma radiation until the craft slid into the cold black shadow of the Repulse. Gallant could hardly contain his delight as the tiny ship quivered in the grip of the warship’s tractors. ​ By the time the docking hatch finally slid open, Gallant was waiting impatiently for his first glimpse inside the warship. ​ He hurried to the bridge. The officer of the watch stood next to the empty captain’s chair, surrounded by a dizzying array of displays and virtual readouts. The officer rested his hand on the panel that concealed the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tactical analyzer. ​ “Midshipman Henry Gallant, reporting aboard, sir.” Drawing his gangly seventeen-year-old figure to its full height, he gave a snappy salute. He tugged at his uniform jacket to pull the buttons into proper alignment. ​ “Welcome aboard, Mr. Gallant. I’m Lieutenant Mather.” Mather was of average height, barrel-chested with angular facial features and a stoic look. Beyond a glance, he showed little interest in the new arrival. “Give me your comm pin.” ​ Gallant handed over his pin, Mather made several quick selections on a touch screen, then swiped it past the chip reader. ​ While his ID loaded into the ship’s computer, Gallant took the opportunity to look around. The semicircular compartment, though spacious, bristled with displays, control panels, and analysis stations. ​ From his academy training, he could guess most of the functions. There were communications, radar, weapons, and astrogation, plus a few he couldn’t identify. Several of the positions were vacant operating automatically. Gallant’s fingers twitched, eager to be a part of the bridge’s efficient operation. A huge view screen dominating the compartment displayed Jupiter. An orbiting space station was visible against the vastness of the gas giant. He marveled at the spectacle. ​ “Junior officer authorization verified. The ID pin has been updated with Repulse’s access codes,” a computer’s voice announced from a nearby speaker. Its neutral, disinterested tone reminded Gallant of a rather cold and distant teacher he had had in basic math years ago. ​ ”Did you bring your gear aboard?” asked Mather. ​ “My duffle bag is at the docking port, sir.” ​ The aged pilot had helped Gallant carry his gear from the shuttlecraft onto Repulse. Then, after a cheery smile and a friendly, “Good luck,” he climbed back in his shuttle and left. Having no family of his own, Gallant had found some faint comfort in the good wishes. ​ ”I’ll have your gear sent to your quarters. But, for now, you had better see the captain,” said Mather, raising an eyebrow at Gallant. ​ “Aye aye, sir,” said Gallant. ​ Mather turned to one of the bridge’s junior officers, a young woman. She wore a single thin gold stripe on her blouse sleeve, indicating her rank as Midshipman First Class, one-year senior to Gallant. He ordered, “Midshipman Mitchel, take Mr. Gallant to the captain’s cabin.” ​ As they left the bridge, Mitchel said, “Henry Gallant . . . I remember you from the academy. I’m surprised you’re still in uniform.” ​ Gallant gritted his teeth, as he had done many times before when confronted with what he perceived as overt disapproval. He didn’t recognize her, but he couldn’t help but observe that she was an attractive brunette with a trim figure. ​ “Will you be training as a fighter pilot or missile weapons officer?” she asked. ​ “I had basic fighter training on Mars and will be taking advanced pilot training with Repulse’s Squadron 111.” ​ “I’m a qualified second-seat astrogator in 111. Most likely, we’ll wind up flying together at some point.” ​ Because her demeanor revealed nothing about whether that idea repelled or appealed to her, Gallant nodded. ​ When they reached the captain’s cabin, she said, “I’m Kelsey, by the way.” Then, as she turned to leave, she added as an afterthought, “Good luck.” ​ Gallant watched her walk away. He wondered if her remark was sincere. ​ *** Gallant stood like a statue inside the open hatch. ​ Captain Kenneth Caine was seated with his back to him, reviewing Gallant’s military record, which was displayed on a computer screen. Clean-shaven with close-cropped graying hair, Caine was solidly built with square shoulders and a craggy face. His well-tailored uniform hugged his robust frame, accentuating his military bearing. ​ From his brief time onboard, Gallant had already realized that Repulse was an orderly ship, and that Kenneth Caine was an orderly captain. Precision and discipline were expected. He was suddenly conscious that his tangled brown hair was longer than regulations allowed. ​ The cabin was sparsely furnished in a traditional, starkly military fashion. A desk in one well-lit corner held the single personal item in the room: a photo of an attractive, mature woman with a pleasant smile. The sadness in her eyes hinted at the difficult bargain she had made as the lonely wife of a dedicated space officer. ​ While the captain flipped through the personnel folder, Gallant’s gaze wandered to the compartment’s viewscreen. The solar flare had subsided, leaving gigantic colorful Jupiter filling most of the view. ​ “At ease, Mr. Gallant,” said Caine, finally turning to face the newcomer. “Welcome aboard the Repulse.” ​ Gallant relaxed his stance and said in a strong, clear voice, “Thank you, sir.” ​ Caine looked him up and down and scrunched his face before asking, “What do you know of this ship’s mission, Mr. Gallant?” ​ “As the flagship of the Jupiter Fleet, Repulse must prevent alien encroachment along the frontier, sir,” ventured Gallant. ​ “Quite right, as far as that goes. But you’ll find, Mr. Gallant, that this task is more nuanced and layered than may be apparent. As a United Planets officer, you must find shades of meaning that can affect your performance. What would you surmise is behind this frontier watch?” The captain’s brisk voice demanded a resolute answer. ​ Gallant spoke guardedly at first, but as his confidence grew, his voice gained assurance. “Well, sir, UP knows little about the aliens’ origins or intentions. They appear to have bases on the satellites of the outer planets. Clashes with their scout ships have proven troublesome, and Fleet Command wants to gather more intelligence. With so little known about alien technology, it isn’t easy to assess the best way to repel it. Still, this fleet must forestall an invasion of Earth by preventing the aliens from gaining a foothold in this sector.” ​ ”And what would you say will be essential in achieving victory in battle?” ​ Leaning forward with his hands behind him to balance out his jutting jaw, Gallant said with fierce intensity, “Surprise, sir! I assume that is why you’ve dispersed most of the fleet. So you can search the widest possible region of space for the first signs of significant alien activity.” ​ Caine examined the young man again as if seeing him for the first time. “Good. We will not be the ones surprised. We will be prepared. You can appreciate how important it is that Repulse performs well.” Then, he added, “And I will allow nothing, and no one, to interfere with our mission.” ​ “Yes, sir,” said Gallant, feeling the sting from the pointed comment. ​ “Tell me, Mr. Gallant,” said the captain, shifting in his chair to find a more comfortable position, “why did you apply to the academy?” ​ Gallant’s voice swelled with passion. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to pilot spaceships and explore the unknown, sir.” ​ ”You are undoubtedly aware that many people wanted your hide raised up the flagpole.” Caine’s eyebrow twitched. “Although your progress for two academic years at the academy was respectable, many doubt that a Natural can compete in the fleet. Today, your real qualification for advancement is your double helix.” ​ Caine continued, “Frankly, I’m astonished you have gotten this far without the advantages of genetic engineering. You’re a bit of a mystery that has yet to unfold.” ​ Gallant didn’t like being referred to as a mystery, but he had his own uncertainty about how his future might evolve. ​ Caine said, “Now that you are commissioned, you must serve a two-year deployment on Repulse. Then, if you complete all your qualifications and receive strong ranking marks, you may be recommended for promotion to ensign.” ​ He gave a weak smile and added. “Learn your duties, obey orders, and you will have nothing to fear.” Caine searched Gallant’s face. “Well, nothing to say for yourself?” ​ Gallant thrust his chin out and said, “I am prepared to do my duty to the best of my ability, sir!” ​ “It is exactly ‘the best of your ability’ that is in question, young man,” responded Caine.

  • e-Video | H Peter Alesso

    e-Video AMAZON Chapter 1 Bandwidth for Video ​ Electronic-Video, or “e-Video”, includes all audio/video clips that are distributed and played over the Internet, either by direct download or streaming video. The problem with video, however, has been its inability to travel over networks without clogging the lines. If you’ve ever tried to deliver video, you know that even after heroic efforts on your part (including optimizing the source video, the hardware, the software, the editing and the compression process) there remains a significant barrier to delivering your video over the Web. That is the “last mile” connection to the client. ​ So before we explain the details of how to produce, capture, edit and compress video for the Web, we had better begin by describing the near term opportunities for overcoming the current bandwidth limitations for delivering video over the Internet. ​ In this chapter, we will describe how expanding broadband fiber networks will reach out to the “last mile” to homes and businesses creating opportunities for video delivery. In order to accomplish this, we will start by quantifing three essential concerns: ​ the file size requirements for sending video data over the Internet, the network fiber capacity of the Internet for the near future and the progress of narrowband (28.8Kbps) to broadband (1.5 Mbps) over the “last mile.” This will provide an understanding of the difficulties being overcome in transforming video from the current limited narrowband streaming video to broadband video delivery. ​ Transitioning from Analog to Digital Technology ​ Thomas Alva Edison’s contributions to the telegraph, phonograph, telephone, motion pictures and radio helped transform the 20th Century with analog appliances in the home and the factory. Many of Edison’s contributions were based on the continuous electrical analog signal. ​ Today, Edison’s analog appliances are being replaced by digital ones. Why? Let’s begin by comparing the basic analog and digital characteristics. ​ Analog signals move along wires as electromagnetic waves. The signal’s frequency refers to the number of time per second that a wave oscillates in a complete cycle. The higher the speed, or frequency, the more cycles of a wave are completed in a given period of time. A baud rate is one analog electric cycle or wave per second. Frequency is also stated in hertz (Hz). (Kilohertz or kHz represents 1000 Hz, MHz represents 1,000,000 Hz and GHz represents a billion Hz). ​ Analog signals, such as voice, radio, and TV involve oscillations within specified ranges of frequency. For example: Voice has a range of 300 to 3300 Hz Analog cable TV has a range of 54 MHz to 750MHz Analog microwave towers have a range of 2 to 12 GHz Sending a signal along analog wires is similar to sending water through a pipe. The further it travels the more force it loses and the weaker it becomes. It can also pick up vibrations, or noise, which introduces signal errors. ​ Today, analog technology has become available world-wide through the following transmission media: 1/. Copper wire for telephone (one-to-one communication). 2/. Broadcast for radio & television (one-to-many communication). 3/. Cable for television (one-to-many communication). ​ Most forms of analog content, from news to entertainment, have been distributed over one or more of these methods. Analog technology prior to 1990, was based primarily on the one-to-many distribution system as show in the Table below where information was primarily directed toward individuals from a central point. Table 1-1 Analog Communication Prior to 1990 Prior to 1990, over 99% of businesses and homes had content reach them from any one of the three transmission delivery systems. Only the telephone allowed two-way communication, however. While the other analog systems where reasonably efficient in delivering content, the client could only send feedback, or pay bills, through ordinary postal mail. Obviously, the interactivity level of this system was very low. ​ The technology used in Coaxial Cable TV (CATV) is designed for the transport of video signals. It is comprised of three systems: AM, FM, and Digital. Since the current CATV system with coaxial analog technology is highly limited in bandwidth new technology is necessary for applications requiring higher bandwidth. In the digital system, a CATV network will get better performance than AM/FM systems and ease the migration from coaxial to a fiber based system. Fiber-optics in CATV networks will eliminate most bottlenecks and increase channel capacity for high speed networks. ​ Analog signals are a continuous variable waveform that are information intensive. They require considerable bandwidth and care in transmission. Analog transmissions over phone lines have some inherent problems when used for sending data. Analog signals lose their strength over long distances and often need to be amplified. Signal processing introduces distortions and become amplified raising the possibility of errors. ​ In contrast to the waveform of analog signals, digital signals are transmitted over wire connections by varying the voltage across the line between a high and a low state. Typically, a high voltage level represents a binary digit 1 and a low voltage level represents a binary digit 0. Because they are binary, digital signals are inherently less complex than analog signals and over long distances they are more reliable. If a digital signal needs to be boosted, the signal is simply regenerated rather than being amplified. ​ As a result, digital signals have the following advantages over analog: Superior quality Fewer errors Higher transmission speeds Less complex equipment The excitement over converting analog to digital media is, therefore, easy to explain. It is motivated by cost-effective higher quality digital processing for data, voice and video information. In transitioning from analog to digital technologies however, several significant changes are also profoundly altering broadcast radio and television. The transition introduces fundamental changes from one way broadcast to two-way transmission, and thereby the potential for interactivity, and scheduling of programming to suit the user’s needs. ​ Not only is there an analog to digital shift, but a synchronous to asynchronous shift as well. Television and radio no longer needs to be synchronous and simultaneous. Rather the viewer and listener can control the time of performance. ​ In addition, transmission can be one of three media: copper wire, cable, or wireless. Also, the receiver is transitioning from a dumb device, such as the television, to an intelligent set-top box with significant CPU power. This potentially changes the viewer from a passive to an interactive participant. Today, both analog and digital video technologies coexist in the production and creative part of the process leading up to the point where the video is broadcast. ​ Currently, businesses and homes can receive content from one to six delivery systems: analog: copper wire (telephones), coaxial cable (TV cable), or broadcast (TV or radio); digital: copper wire (modem, DSL), Ethernet modem, or wireless (satellite). ​ At the present time, analog systems still dominate, but digital systems are competing very favorably as infrastructure becomes available. Analog/digital telephone and digital cable allow two-way communication and these technologies are rapidly growing. The digital systems are far more efficient and allow greater interactivity with the client. ​ Competing Technologies ​ The race is on as cable, data, wireless, and telecommunications companies are scrambling to piece together the broadband puzzle and to compete in future markets. The basic infrastructure of copper wire, cable and satellite, as well as, the packaged contents are in place to deliver bigger, richer data files and media types. In special cases, data transmission over the developing computer networks within corporations and between universities, already exist. Groups vying to dominate have each brought different technologies and standards to the table. For the logical convergence of hardware, software and networking technology to occur the interface of theses industries must meet specific inter-operational capabilities and must achieve customer expectations for quality of service. ​ Long distance and local Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOC) telephone companies started with the phone system designed for point-to-point communication, POTS (plain old telephones) and have evolved into a large switched, distributed network, capable of handling millions of simultaneous calls. They track and bill accordingly with an impressive performance record. They have delivered 99.999% reliability with high quality audio. Their technology is now evolving toward DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) modems. AT&T has made significant progress in leading broadband technology development now that it has added the vast cable networks of Tele-Communications Inc. and MediaOne Group to telephone and cellular. Currently, AT&T with about 45% of the market can plug into more U.S. households than any other provider. But other telecommunications companies, such as Sprint and MCI, as well as, the regional Bell operating companies, are also capable of integrating broadband technology with their voice services. ​ Although both routing and architecture of the telephone network has evolved since the AT&T divestiture, the basics remain the same. About 25,000 central offices in the U.S. connect through 1200 intermediate switching nodes, called access tandems. The switching centers are connected by trunks designed to carry multiple voice frequency circuits using frequency division multiplexing (FDM), or synchronous time-division multiplexing (TDM), or wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) for optics. ​ The cable companies Time Warner, Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications have 60 million homes wired with coaxial cable primarily one-way cable offering one-to-many broadcast service. Their technology competes through the introduction of cable modems and the upgrade of their infrastructure to support two-way communication. The merger between AOL and Time Warner demonstrates how Internet and content companies are finding ways to converge. ​ Cable television networks currently reaches 200 million homes. On the other hand, satellite television can potentially reach 1 billion homes. These will offer nearly complete coverage of the U.S., digital satellite is also competing. DirecTV, has DirecPC, which can beam data to a PC. Its rival, EchoStar Corp., is working with interactive TV player, TiVo Inc., to deliver video and data service to a set-top box. However, satellite is currently not only a one-way delivery system, but is also the most expensive in the U.S. In regions of the world outside the U.S. where the capital investment in copper wires and cable has yet to be made, satellite may have a better competitive opportunity. ​ The Internet itself doesn’t own its own connections. Internet data traffic passes along the copper, fiber, coaxial cable, and wireless transmission of the other industries as a digital alternative to analog transmissions. The new media is being built to include text, graphics, audio, and video across platforms of television, Internet, cable and wireless industries. The backbone uses wide area communications technology, including satellite, fiber, coaxial cable, copper and wireless. Data servers mix mainframes, workstations, supercomputers, and microcomputers and a diversity of clients populate the end-points of the networks including; conventions PCs, palmtops, PDAs, smart phones, set-top boxes, and TVs. Figure 1-1 Connecting the backbone of the Internet to Your Home Web-television hybrids, such as, WebTV provide opportunities for cross-promotion between television and Internet. Independent developers may take advantage of broadcast-Internet synergy by creating shows to targeted audiences ​ Clearly, the future holds a need for interaction between the TV and the Internet. But will it appear as TV quality video transmitted over the Internet and subsequently displayed on a TV set. Or, alternatively, as URL information embedded within existing broadcast TV set pictures. Perhaps both. ​ Streaming Video ​ Streaming is the ability to play media, such as audio and video, directly over the Internet without downloading the entire file before play begins. Digital encoding is required to convert the analog signal into compressed digital format for transmission and playback. ​ Streaming videos send a constant flow of audio/video information to their audience. While streaming videos may be archived for on-demand viewing, they can also be shown in real-time. Examples include play-by-play sports events, concerts and corporate board meetings. But a streaming video offers more than a simple digitized signal transmitted over the Internet. It offers the ability for interactive audience response and unparalleled form of two-way communication. The interactive streaming video process is referred to as Webcasting. ​ Widespread Web-casting will be impractical, however, until audiences have access rates of a minimum of 100 Kbps or faster. Compression technology can be expected to grow more powerful, significantly reducing bandwidth requirement. By 2006 the best estimates indicate that 40 Million homes will have cable modems and 25 Million DSL connections with access rates of 1.5 Mbps. ​ We shall see in Chapters 5, 6 and 7 how the compression codecs and software standards will competitively change “effective” Internet bandwidth and the quality of delivered video. ​ The resultant video quality at a given bandwidth is highly dependent upon the specific video compressor. The human eye is extremely non-linear and its capabilities are difficult to quantify. The quality of compression, specific video application, typical content, available bandwidth, and user preferences all must be considered when evaluating compressor options. Some optimize for “talking heads” while other optimize for motion. To date, the value of streaming video has been primarily the rebroadcast of TV content and redirected audio from radio broadcasts. The success of these services to compete with traditional analog broadcasts will depend upon the ability of streaming video producers to develop and deliver their content using low cost computers that present a minimal barrier to entry. Small, low cost independent producers will effectively target audiences previously ignored. Streaming videos steadily moving toward the integration of text, graphics, audio, and video with interactive on-line chat will find new audiences. In Chapter 2, we present business models to address business’s video needs. ​ Despite these promising aspects, streaming video is still a long way from providing a satisfactory audio/video experience in comparison to traditional broadcasts. The low data transmission rates are a severe limitation on the quality of streaming videos. While a direct broadcast satellite dish receives data at 2 Mbps, an analog modem is currently limited to 0.05 Mbps. The new cable modems and ADSL are starting to offer speeds competitive with satellite, but they will take time to penetrate globally. Unlike analog radio and television, streaming videos requires a dynamic connection between the computer providing the content to the viewer. Current computer technology limits the viewing audience to up to 50,000. While strategies to overcome this with replicating servers may increase audiences, this too will take effort. ​ The enhancement of data compression reduces the required video data streaming rates to more manageable levels. The technology has only recently reached the point where video can be digitized and compressed to levels which allow reasonable appearance during distribution over digital networks. Advances continue to come, improving look and delivery of video. ​ Calculating Bandwidth Requirements ​ So far we have presented the advantages of digital techology, unfortunately there is one rather large disadvantage - bandwidth limitations. Let’s try some simple math that illustrates the difficulties. Live, or on-demand, streaming video and/or audio is relatively easy to encode. The most difficult part is not the encoding of the files. It is determining what level of data may be transmitted. The following Table contains information that will help with some basic terms and definitions: Why the difference between Kbps and KB/sec? File sizes on a hard drive are measured in Kilobytes (KB). But the data that transferred over a modem is measured in Kilobits per second (Kbps) because it's comparatively slower than a hard drive. ​ In the case of a 28.8Kbps modem the maximum data transfer rate is 2.5 KB/sec even through the calculated rate is 28.8Kbs / 8 bits in a byte = 3.6KB/sec. This is because there is approximately a 30% losses of transmission capabilities lost due to Internet “noise.” This is due to traffic congestion on the web and more than one surfer requesting information on the same server. ​ The following Table 1-4 provides information concerning the characteristics of video files. This includes pixels per frame and frames per file (film size file). We can use the information in Table 1-4 to compare to some simple calculations. We will use the following formula to calculate the approximate size in Megabytes of a digitized video file: ​ (pixel width) x (pixel height) x (color bit depth) x (fps) x (duration in seconds) ​ 8,000,000 (bits / MB) ​ For three minutes of video at 15 frames per second with a color bit depth of 24-bit in a window that is 320x240 pixels, the digitized source file would be approximately 622 Megabytes: (320) x (240) x (24) x (15) x (180) / 8,000,000 = 622 Megabytes We will see in chapter 4, how data compression will significantly reduce this burden. ​ Now that we have our terms defined, let's take the case of a TV station that wants to broadcast their channel live 24hrs a day for a month over the web to a target audience of 56 Kbps modem users. In this case, a live stream generates a 4.25KB/sec since a 56Kbps file transfers at 4.25KB/sec. So how much data would be transferred in a 24 hr period if one stream was constantly being used? ​ ANSWER = 4.25 KB/sec * (number of seconds in a day) * 30 days per month = 11 GB/month So, one stream playing a file encoded for 56 Kbs for 24hrs a day will generate 11 gigabytes in a month. How is this figure useful? ​ This figure becomes important if you can estimate the average number of viewers in a month, then you can estimate the total amount of data that will be transferred from your process. Ultimately the issue becomes one of the need for sufficient backbone infrastructure to carry many broadcasts to many viewers across the networks. ​ For HDTV with a screen size of 1080x1920 and 24-bit color, a bandwidth of 51.8 Mbps is required. This is a serious amount of data flow to route around the Internet to millions of viewers. ​ Transitioning from Narrowband to Broadband ​ In telecommunications, bandwidth refers to data capacity of a channel. For an analog service, the bandwidth is defined as the difference between the highest and lowest frequency within which the medium carries traffic. For example, cabling that carries data between 200 MHz and 300 MHz has a bandwidth of 100MHz. In addition to analog speeds in hertz (Hz) and digital speeds in bits per second (bps), the carrying rate is sometimes categorized as narrowband and broadband. It is useful to relate this to an analogy in which wider pipes carry more water. TV and cable are carried at broadband speeds. However, most telephone and modem data traffic from the central offices to individual homes and businesses are carried at slower narrowband speeds. This is usually referred to as the “last mile” issue. ​ The definitions for narrowband and broadband vary within the industries, but are summarized for our purposes as: Narrowband refers to rates less than 1.5 Mbps Broadband refers to rates at or beyond 1.5 Mbps A major bottleneck of analog services exists between cabling of residents and telephone central offices. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable modem are gaining in availability. Cable TV companies are investing heavily in converting their cabling from one-way only cable TV to two-way systems for cable modems and telephones. In contrast to the “last-mile” for residential areas, telephones companies are laying fiber cables for digital services from their switches to office buildings where the high-density client base justifies the additional expense. ​ We can appreciate the potential target audience for video by estimating; how fast the “last mile” bandwidth demand is growing. Because installing underground fiber costs more than $20,000 per mile, fiber only makes sense for businesses and network backbones. Not for “last mile” access to homes. Table 1-5 shows the estimated number of users connected at various modem speeds in 1999 and 2006. High-speed consumer connections are now being implemented through cable modems and digital subscriber lines (DSL). ​ Approximately 1.3 million home had cable modems by the end of 1999 in comparison to 300,000 DSL connections primarily to businesses. By 2006, we project 40 million cable modems and 25 million DSL lines. Potentially data at the rate of greater than one megabit per second could be delivered to over 80 per cent of more than 550 million residential telephone lines in the world. Better than one megabit per second can also be delivered over fiber/coax CATV lines configured for two-way transmission, to approximately 10 million out of 200 million total users (though these can be upgraded). ​ In2000, the median bandwidth in the U.S. is less than 56. This is de facto a narrowband environment. But worldwide there is virtually limitless demand for communications as presented by the following growth rates: The speed of computer connections is soaring. The number of connections at greater than 1.5 Mbps is growing at 45% per year in residential areas and at 55% per year in business areas. Because of improving on-line experience, people will stay connected about 20% longer per year. As more remote areas of the world get connected, messages will travel about 15% father a year. The number of people online worldwide in 1999 was 150 million, but the peak Internet load was only 10% and the actual transmission time that data was being transferred, was only 25% of that number. With the average access rate of 44 kbps this indicates an estimate of about 165 Gbps at peak load. In 2006 there will be about 300 million users and about 65 million of these will have broadband (>1.5 Mbps) access. With the addition of increased peak load and increased actual transmission time, this will result in an estimated usage of about 16.5 Tera-bits per second of data processing. ​ It all adds up to a lot of bits. It leads to a demand for total data communications in 2006 of nearly a100-fold increase over 1999. With the number of new users connecting to the Internet growing this fast can the fiber backbone meet this demand? Figure 1-2 answers this question. ​ Figure 1-2 shows the growth in Local Area Networks (LANs) from 1980 to 2000 with some projection into the next decade. In addition, the Internet capacity is shows that over the last few decades and indicates the potential growth rate into the next decade. The jump up in Internet capacity due to Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) is a projection of the multiply effect of this new technology. As a result this figure shows that we can expect multi-Tera-bit per second performance from the Internet backbone in the years ahead. This will meet the projected growth in demand. Great! But, what about that “last mile” of copper, coax, and wireless? ​ The “last mile” involves servers, networks, content and transitions from narrow to broadband. Initially, the “last mile” will convert to residential broadband not as fiber optics, but as a network overlaid on existing telephone and cable television wiring. One megabit per second can be delivered to over 80 % or more of 550 million residential telephone lines in the world. It can also be delivered over all fiber/coax CATV lines configured for two-way service. The latter represents a small fraction of the worldwide CATV lines however, requiring only 10 million homes out of 200 million. But upgrade programs will convert the remainder in 5 years. The endgame of the upgrade process may be fiber directly to the customer’s home, but not for the next decade or two. A fiber signal travels coast to coast in 30 ms and human latency (period to achieve recognition) is about 50 milliseconds. Thus fiber is the only technology to deliver viewable HDTV video. However, due to the cost and man-power involved, we’re stuck with the “last mile” remaining copper, coax and wireless for a while yet. ​ The Table 1-7 below summarizes how the five delivery approaches for analog and digital technologies will co-exist for the next few years. In chapter 8, we will present network background on the technologies and standards and revisit this table in more detail. ​ ​ One-way * (FFTH is fiber to the home, FTTC is fiber to the curb, MPEG-2 is a compression standard see chapter 4, ATM is Asynchronous Transfer Mode see chapter 8, TDM is Time Division Multiplexing see chapter 8). Preparing to Converge ​ To be fully prepared to take advantage of the converging technologies, we must ask and answer the right questions. This is not as easy as it might seem. We could ask, “Which company will dominate the broadband data and telecommunication convergence?” But this would be inadequate because the multi-trillion dollar world e-commerce market is too big for any one company to monopolize. ​ We could ask, “Which broadband networks will dominate the Internet backbone?” But this would be inadequate because innovative multiplexing and compression advances will make broadband ubiquitous and subservient to the “last mile” problem. ​ We could ask, “Which transmission means (cable, wireless, or copper) will dominate the “last mile”?” But this would be inadequate because the geographical infrastructure diversity of these technologies throughout the world will dictate different winners in different regions of the world demonstrating this as a “local” problem. Individually, these questions address only part of the convergence puzzle. It is e-commerce’s demand for economic efficiency that will force us to face the important q estion of the telecommunication convergence puzzle. ​ “What are meaningful broadband cross-technology standards?” ​ Without globally accepted standards, hardware and software developers can’t create broad solutions for consumer demand. As a result, we will be concerned throughout this book in pointing out the directions and conflicts that various competing standards are undertaking. ​ Conclusion ​ In this chapter, we presented the background of analog technology’s transition toward digital technology. This chapter provided a calculation that illustrated why digital video data is such a difficult bandwidth problem. It evaluated the rate of change of conversion from narrowband connections to broadband. This rate establishing a critical perspective on the timeline of the demand for Internet video. ​ On the basis of this chapter, you should conclude that: The Internet backbone combination of fiber and optical multiplexing will perform in the multi-Tera-bps range and provide plenty of network bandwidth in the next few years. The “last mile” connectivity will remain twisted pair, wireless, and coax cable for the next few years, but broadband (1.5Mbps) access through cable modems and x-DSL will grow to 40 million users in just a few years. Streaming video was identified as the crossroads of technology convergence. It is the bandwidth crisis of delivering video that will prove decisive in setting global standards and down-selecting competing technologies. The success of streaming video in its most cost-effect and customer satisfying form will define the final technology convergence model into the 21st Century

  • Intelligent Wireless Web | H Peter Alesso

    The Intelligent Wireless Web AMAZON Chapter 10.0 Progress in Developing the Intelligent Wireless Web In this chapter, we take the components developed in earlier chapters and lay out a plausible framework for building the Intelligent Wireless Web including our evaluation of the compatibility, integration and synergy issues facing the five merging technology areas that will build it: ​ User Interface – from click to speech Personal Space – from tangled wires to multifunction wireless devices Networks – from wired infrastructure to integrated wired/wireless Protocols – from IP to Mobile IP Web Architecture – from dumb and static to intelligent and dynamic. Finally, we present strategic planning guidelines and the conclusions you could reach as a result of this book. We began this book by describing what we meant by the “Intelligent Wireless Web and presenting an overview of the framework for plausibly constructing it. Our concept of an Intelligent Wireless Web weaves together several important concepts related to intelligence (the ability to learn), “wirelessness” (mobility and convenience) and its advances in telecommunications and information technology that together promised to deliver increasingly capable information services to mobile users anytime and anywhere. ​ We suggested putting these concepts together to form the “Intelligent Wireless Web.” We stated that it was certainly possible to develop intelligent applications for the Internet without media (audio/video) Web features or wireless capability. But, it was our suggestion that Web media, such as, audio could lead to improved user interfaces using speech and that small wireless devices widely distributed could lead to easier access to large portions of the worlds population. The end result could be, not just an intelligent Internet but a widely available, easily accessible, user friendly, Intelligent Wireless Web. ​ Fundamentally, our vision for an Intelligent Wireless Web is very simple - it is a network that provides anytime, anywhere access through efficient user interfaces to applications that learn. Notwithstanding the difficulty of defining intelligence (in humans or machines), we recognized that terms such as “artificial intelligence”, “intelligent agents”, “smart machines” and the like, refer to the performance of functions that mimic those associated with human intelligence. ​ The full range of information services is the next logical step along with the introduction of a variety of different portable user devices (e.g., pagers, PDAs, web-enabled cell phones, small portable computers) that have wireless connectivity. The results will be wireless technology as an extension of the present evolutionary trend in information technology. In addition, Artificial Intelligence and intelligent software applications will also make their way onto the wireless Web and that a performance Index or measure should be developed to evaluate the progress of Web smarts. ​ In the following sections, we will bring together the components of the Intelligent Wireless Web and how it is being constructed. But building it will be a broad and far-reaching task involving more technology integration and synthesis than revolutionary inventions. ​ Future Wireless Communication Process ​ Ideally, the future wireless communication process should start with a user interface based on speech recognition where we merely talk to a personal mobile device that recognizes our identity, words and commands. The personal mobile device would connect seamlessly to embedded and fixed devices in the immediate environment. The message would be relayed to a server residing on a network with the necessary processing power and software to analyzed the contents of the message. The server could then draw necessary supplemental knowledge and services from around the world through the Internet. Finally, the synthesized messages would be delivered to the appropriate parties in their own language on their own personal mobile device. ​ To build this ideal future wireless communication process we must connect the following inherent technologies of communications along with their essential components: ​ Connecting People to Devices – the user interface. Currently we rely on the mouse, keyboard and video display; speech recognition and understanding deployed for mobile devices is a key component for the future. ​ Connecting Devices to Devices. Currently hard-wired connections between devices limit mobility and constrain the design of networks. In the future, the merging of wired and wireless communication infrastructure require the establishment of wireless protocols and standards for the connection between devices; future smart applications require the development and improvement of intelligence services. Also needed is a method to measure the performance and/or intelligence of the Internet so that we can assess advancements. Connecting Devices to People. To deliver useful information to the globally mobile user, future systems require advances in speech synthesis and language translation. ​ So lets start connecting the necessary technologies to fulfill the vision of an Intelligent Wireless Web. The physical components and software necessary to construct and implement the Intelligent Wireless Web require compatibility, integration and synergy of five merging technology areas: ​ < >User Interface – to transition from the mouse click to speech as the primary method of communication between people and devices;Personal Space – to transition from connection of devices by tangled wires to multifunction wireless devices;Networks – to transition from a mostly wired infrastructure to an integrated wired/wireless system of interconnections;Protocols – transition from the original Internet protocol (IP) to the new Mobile IP; andWeb Architecture – to transition from dumb and static applications to new applications that are intelligent, dynamic and constantly learning. FIGURE 10-1 Building the Intelligent Wireless Web User Interface – from Click to Speech ​ We have evaluated communication between humans and their machines and found the problem of how to obtain speech recognition functionality in a handheld or embedded device to be challenging; however efforts currently underway look favorable for solutions in the relatively near term. While we may expect speech interfaces to permeate society steadily, we anticipate that successful traditional interfaces, such as, mouse and touch screen, will continue to be in operation for a very long time. Particularly, for such high power applications as selecting events on detailed graphical representations. Certainly, it is not a difficult problem for a handheld device (such as a cell phone) to perform limited speech recognition activities (such as voice activated dialing). But since the demands for speech functionality increase with the greater complexity of the speech recognition tasks, it becomes more and more difficult to provide these capabilities on a small mobile wireless device with limited capabilities. Therefore, the problem becomes one of distributing the capability for speech recognition and understanding between the local wireless device and remote processing resources to which it is connected. This problem is being currently addressed in far-reaching research at several places, but most notably at the MIT AI Laboratory and at Microsoft Research. The Microsoft effort is directed at technology projects supporting and leading to the vision of a fully speech enabled computer. The Microsoft concept Dr. Who, uses continuous speech recognition and spoken language understanding. Dr. Who is designed to power a voice-based pocket PC with a web browser, email, and cellular telephone capabilities. The highly promising initiative know as, Project Oxygen, is ongoing at MIT’s AI Laboratory. This visionary effort is developing a comprehensive system to achieve the objective of anytime anywhere computing. In this concept, a user carries a wireless interface device that is continuously connected to a network of computing devices in a manner similar to the way cell phone communications maintain continuous connection to a communications network. The local device is speech enabled, and much of the speech recognition capability is embedded in the remote system of high-capability computers. ​ Systems for conversational interface are also being developed that are capable of communicating in several languages. These systems can answer queries in real-time with a distributed architecture that can retrieve data from several different domains of knowledge to answer a query. Such systems have five main functions: speech recognition, language understanding, information retrieval, language generation and speech synthesis. ​ Speech recognition may be an ideal interface for the handheld devices being developed as part of the Oxygen project, but the Oxygen project will need far more advanced speech-recognition systems than are currently available to achieve its ultimate objective of enabling interactive conversation with full understanding. Figure 10-2 identifies the main requirements for an effective speech-based user interface and identifies the current status of each. To meet the needs of the Intelligent Wireless Web, the ultimate desired result is that speech recognition, understanding, translation and synthesis become practical for routine use on handheld, wearable and embedded devices. USER INTERFACE – from click to speech REQUIREMENTS STATUS Speech Recognition Speech Understanding Text to Speech Translation Speech Synthesis Speech Synthesis Markup Language Advanced Continuing Advanced Continuing Continuing Lagging Speech recognition, understanding, translation and synthesis become practical for use on handheld, wearable and embedded devices. RESULTS FIGURE 10-2 Building the User Interface Personal Space – from Wired to Wireless ​ We imagined living our life within the confines of our own Personal Space - without wires, but with devices to “connect” us wherever we travel. Implementation of a Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN), composed of the personal devices around us as well as our immediate environment is one solution. In the office, devices improve work productivity by enabling access to data, text, and images relating to performing our jobs and by providing for analysis, access to software applications and communications as needed. Creating a WPAN of our immediately available devices will enable a future where a lifetime of knowledge may be accessed through gateways worn on the body or placed within the immediate environment (including our home, auto, office, school, library, ect). ​ WPAN will also allow devices to work together and share each other's information and services. For example, a web page can be called up on a small screen, and can then be wirelessly sent to a printer for full size printing. A mobile WPAN can even be created in a vehicle via interface devices such as wireless headsets, microphones and speakers for communications. ​ As envisioned, WPAN will allow the user to customize his or her communications capabilities permitting everyday devices to become smart, tetherless devices that spontaneously communicate whenever they are in close proximity. Figure 10-3 summarizes the requirements and their status for this element of the Intelligent Wireless Web; the objective is the achieve the ability for handheld, wearable, and embedded devices to connect easily without wires and share software applications, as needed, producing office, home and mobile Wireless Personal Area Networks. PERSONAL SPACE – from wired to wireless REQUIREMENTS STATUS Advanced Continuing Lagging Lagging Adaptable wireless devices Wireless protocol Wireless small screen applications “Nomadic” or mobile software for devices Handheld, wearable, and embedded devices connect easily without wires and share software applications, as needed, producing office, home and mobile Wireless Personal Area Networks. RESULTS FIGURE 10 - 3 Building the Your Personal Space Networks – from Wired to Integrated Wired/Wireless ​ The earliest computers were stand-alone, unconnected machines. During the 1980’s, mergers, takeovers and downsizing have led to a need to consolidate company data in fast, seamless, integrated database have for all corporate information. With these driving forces, Intranets and local networks began to increase in size, and this required ways to interface with each other. Over the past decade, enterprise models and architectures, as well as, their corresponding implementation in actual business practices have changed to take advantage of new technologies. ​ The big lure to wireless is the potential for big money in implementing wireless architectures that can send information packets from people with small personal devices, such as cell phones, to the a company’s Web site and there to conduct transactions. The number of wireless subscribers is expected to grow globally from the current few million to more than 400 million by 2005. ​ The vast system of interconnecting networks that comprise the Internet is composed of several different types of transmission media, dominated by wired media but including: ​ < >WiredFiber opticTwisted pairs (copper)Coaxial cable < >WirelessMicrowaveInfraredLaser NETWORKS – from wired to integrated wired/wireless REQUIREMENTS STATUS Wireless LAN Wireless WAN Satellites Wired Interface Advanced Advanced Continuing Continuing ​ Networks continue migration to optical fiber for long haul while last mile is met by both fiber, mobile wireless, and fixed wireless (LMDS & MDDS) RESULTS FIGURE 10-4 Building Integrated Networks Protocols – from IP to Mobile IP ​ To achieve the mobility requirements of the Intelligent Wireless Web, the Wireless Appliance Protocol, WAP, provides a global standard for data-oriented services to mobile devices thereby enabling anywhere and anytime access. In so doing, access will be provided to far more end-users than can be reached by using the personal computer as a fixed end point. Figure 10-5 provides an overview of the needed changes to support the Intelligent Wireless Web. The anticipated result is to provide intelligent networking software for routing and tracking that leads to general changes in IP networking protocols toward mobile IP. Sitting on top of the entire layer infrastructure will be a new control-plan for applications that smooth routing. PROTOCOLS - from IP to Mobile IP Continuing Continuing IPv6 Mobile IP standard REQUIREMENTS STATUS Intelligent networking software for routing and tracking that leads to general changes in IP networking protocols toward mobile IP. Sitting on top of the entire layer infrastructure will be a new control-plan for applications that smooth routing. RESULTS FIGURE 10 - 5 Building the Mobile Internet Protocols Web Architecture - Dumb & Static to Intelligent & Dynamic ​ Ideally, the wireless communication process should start with the user talking to a personal, or embedded, device that recognizes his identity, words and commands. It will connect seamlessly to the correct transmission device, drawing on whatever resources are required from around the Web. In one case, only database search sorting and retrieval might be required. Or in another case, a specialized Web Service application program might be required. In any case, the information will be evaluated, and the content of the message will be augmented with the appropriate supporting data to fill in the ‘blanks’. If there is appropriate supplementary audio, or video, it will be included for reference. Finally, the results will be delivered to the appropriate parties in their own language through their own different and varied connection devices. ​ For the Web to learn how to conduct this type of intelligent processing requires a mechanism for the adapting and self-organizing on a hypertext network. In addition, it needs to develop Learning Algorithms that would allow it to autonomously change its structure and organize the knowledge it contains, by "learning" the ideas and preferences of its users. ​ The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) suggests the use of better semantic information as part of web documents, and of the use of next generation Web languages Figure 10-6 provides a summary of the semantic web architecture needed to support the Intelligent Wireless Web. Intelligent applications running directly over the Web, as well as, AI Web Services served from AI service providers will progressively increase the tasking performed with adaptive, dynamic intelligent products. In addition, a Web performance Index will provide some useful measures of Web progress. WEB ARCHITECTURE – from dumb and static to intelligent and dynamic REQUIREMENTS STATUS XMLschema RDF schema & Topic Maps Logic Layer Dynamic Languages Adaptive Applications Distributed AI AI Web Sevices Registration and Validation of Information Intelligent applications running directly over the Web, as well as, AI Web Services supported from AI service providers progressively increasing the percent of applications performed with adaptive, dynamic intelligent products. An overall increase can be expected in the total percentage of learning algorithms operating on the Web. RESULTS ​ FIGURE 10- 6 Building AI Servers with the Semantic Strategic Planning Guidelines Strategic planning is the determination of the course of action and allocation of resources necessary to achieve selected long-term goals. But charting strategic direction for wireless communications networks in a diverse and competitive landscape is complicated by an economy that has introduced dynamic rules for success. Both the rate of technology change and the speed at which new technologies become available have increased. The shorter product life cycles resulting from this rapid diffusion of new technologies places a competitive premium on being able to quickly introduce new goods and services into the marketplace. In order to develop guidelines for strategic planning, we must consider enterprise goals. Traditionally driven by technology, network planning has evolved and now faces new challenges. But the network planning process itself includes two "discordant" requirements: first, to optimize of the network’s long-term investment while second, optimizing of the time to market for each new product. Finding the right balance is not easy. However, opportunities for developers and service providers will exist if they can reach all mobile users by developing infrastructure to support: ​ < >any wireless carrierany wireless network (TDMA, CDMA, etc.)any wireless device (pager, digital cell phone, PDA)any wireless applicationsany Web format (XML, HTML, etc.)any wireless technology (WAP, SMS, pager, etc.)any medium (text, audio, text-to-speech, voice recognition or video)balancing innovations in software (e.g. adaptive software, nomadic software) against innovations in hardware (e.g. chip designs), balancing proprietary standards (motivating competition) against open standards (offering universal access), and balancing local(centralized) Web innovations (e.g. Web Services) against global(distributed) Web architectural evolution (e.g. the Semantic Web).A vendor dominates a market and sets a de facto standard (for example; POTS telephony from AT&T, or PC operating systems from Microsoft).Standards organizations establish standards (for example; HTML).Vendor and market collaboration that is not clearly attributable to any one organization (for example; TCP/IP or VCR formats). FIGURE 10-7 Possible Technology Timeline Conclusion In this chapter, we presented the components developed in earlier chapters and outlined a feasible framework for building the Intelligent Wireless Web, including our evaluation of the compatibility, integration and synergy issues facing the five merging technology areas: User Interface, Personal Space, Networks, Protocols, and Web Architecture. Ten conclusions you could reach from this book about building the Intelligent Wireless Web include: - User Interface - < >Speech recognition and speech synthesis offer attractive solutions to overcome the input and output limitations of small mobile devices, if they can overcome their own limitation of memory and processing power through the right balance for the client-server relationship between the small device and nearby embedded resources. The essential components for achieving this balance are new chip designs coupled with open adaptive nomadic software. The new chips may provide hardware for small devices that is small, light weight, and consumes little power while having the ability to perform applications by downloading adaptive software as needed.- Personal Space - < >Handheld, wearable and embedded devices are upgrading many existing office and home locations making computing access more universal through Wireless Personal Area Networks.Competition between the wireless networking standards Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11b, as well as general networking software, Jini and UpnP, will continue for several years as each finds strong points to exploit before a final winner emerges. MIT’s Project OXYGEN may introduce some innovative protocol alternatives within several years. - Networks - < >Wired and wireless networks will continue to merge and improve backbone performance to greater than the 10 Tera-bps range as well as produce improved interoperability. < >Over time, there will be a migration of core networks to optical fiber simply because photons carry a lot more information more efficiently and at less expense than electrons. By 2003, ultra-long haul (> 4000 km) high bandwidth optical transport will be deployed in the US. The quest for the last mile will be met with a combination of fiber and wireless. In dense metropolitan areas free-space optical networks will provide 622Mbps of bandwidth to buildings without digging the streets. Second generation LMDS and MDDS fixed wireless will be deployed to buildings requiring less bandwidth.- Internet Protocols - < >Intelligent networking software for routing and tracking will lead to general changes in IP networking protocols to include IPv6 and mobile IP. Sitting on top of the entire layer infrastructure may be a number of new control-plane software applications that may add intelligence to the network for smooth integration of routing (layer 3) and wavelength switching. - Web Architecture - < >Intelligent agents, intelligent software application and Artificial Intelligence applications from AI Servers Providers may make their way onto the Web in greater numbers as adaptive software, dynamic programming languages and Learning Algorithms are introduced into Web Services (including both .NET and J2EE architectures).The evolution of Web Architecture may allow intelligent applications to run directly on the Web by introducing XML, RDF/Topic Maps and a Logic Layer.A Web performance Index, or measure, may be developed to evaluate the progress of Internet progress in performing intelligent tasks utilizing learning algorithms.The Intelligent Wireless Web’s significant potential for rapidly completing information transactions may become an important contribution to global worker productivity. ​ 1 [1] Bogdanowicz, K.D., Scapolo, F., Leijten, J., and Burgelman, J-C., “Scenarios for Ambient Intelligence in 2010,” ISTAG Report, European Commission, Feb. 2001.

  • Rear Admiral Henry Gallant | H Peter Alesso

    Rear Admiral Henry Gallant AMAZON Chapter 1 Far Away ​ Captain Henry Gallant was still far away, but he could already make out the bright blue marble of Earth floating in the black velvet ocean of space. ​ His day was flat and dreary. Since entering the solar system, he had been unable to sleep. Instead, he found himself wandering around the bridge like a marble rattling in a jar. His mind had seemingly abandoned his body to meander on its own, leaving his empty shell to limp through his routine. He hoped tomorrow would bring something better. ​ I’ll be home soon, he thought. ​ A welcoming image of Alaina flashed into his mind, but it was instantly shattered by the memory of their last bitter argument. The quarrel had occurred the day he was deployed to the Ross star system and had haunted him throughout the mission. Now that incident loomed like a glaring threat to his homecoming. ​ As he stared at the main viewscreen of the Constellation, he listened to the bridge crew’s chatter. “The sensor sweep is clear, sir,” reported an operator. ​ Gallant was tempted to put a finger to his lips and hiss, “shh,” so he could resume his brooding silence. But that would be unfair to his crew. They were as exhausted and drained from the long demanding deployment as he was. They deserved better. ​ He plopped down into his command chair and said, “Coffee.” ​ The auto-server delivered a steaming cup to the armrest portal. After a few gulps, the coffee woke him from his zombie state. He checked the condition of his ship on a viewscreen. ​ The Constellation was among the largest machines ever built by human beings. She was the queen of the task force, and her crew appreciated her sheer size and strength. She carried them through space with breathtaking majesty, possessing power and might and stealth that established her as the quintessential pride of human ingenuity. They knew every centimeter of her from the forward viewport to the aft exhaust port. Her dull grey titanium hull didn’t glitter or sparkle, but every craggy plate on her exterior was tingling with lethal purpose. She could fly conventionally at a blistering three-tenths the speed of light between planets. And between stars, she warped at faster than the speed of light. Even now, returning from the Ross star system with her depleted starfighters, battle damage, and exhausted crew, she could face any enemy by spitting out starfighters, missiles, lasers, and plasma death. ​ After a moment, he switched the readout to scan the other ships in the task force. Without taking special notice, he considered the material state of one ship after another. Several were in a sorrowful dysfunctional condition, begging for a dockyard’s attention. He congratulated himself for having prepared a detailed refit schedule for when they reached the Moon’s shipyards. He hoped it would speed along the repair process. ​ Earth’s moon would offer the beleaguered Task Force 34, the rest and restoration it deserved after its grueling operation. The Moon was the main hub of the United Planets’ fleet activities. The Luna bases were the most elaborate of all the space facilities in the Solar System. They performed ship overhauls and refits, as well as hundreds of new constructions. Luna’s main military base was named Armstrong Luna and was the home port of the 1st Fleet, fondly called the Home Fleet. ​ Captain Julie Ann McCall caught Gallant’s eye as she rushed from the Combat Information Center onto the bridge. There was a troubled look on her face. ​ Is she anxious to get home too? ​ Was there someone special waiting for her? Or would she, once more, disappear into the recesses of the Solar Intelligence Agency? ​ After all these years, she’s still a mystery to me. ​ McCall approached him and leaned close to his face. ​ In a hushed throaty voice, she whispered, “Captain, we’ve received an action message. You must read it immediately.” ​ Her tight self-control usually obscured her emotions, but now something extraordinary appeared in her translucent blue eyes—fear! ​ He placed his thumb over his command console ID recognition pad. A few swipes over the screen, and he saw the latest action message icon flashing red. He tapped the symbol, and it opened. TOP SECRET: ULTRA - WAR WARNING Date-time stamp: 06.11.2176.12:00 Authentication code: Alpha-Gamma 1916 To: All Solar System Commands From: Solar Intelligence Agency Subject: War Warning Diplomatic peace negotiations with the Titans have broken down. Repeat: Diplomatic peace negotiations with the Titans have broken down. What this portends is unknown, but all commands are to be on the highest alert in anticipation of the resumption of hostilities. Russell Rissa Director SIA TOP SECRET: ULTRA - WAR WARNING He reread the terse communication. ​ As if emerging from a cocoon, Gallant brushed off his preoccupation over his forthcoming liberty. He considered the possibilities. Last month, he sent the sample Halo detection devices to Earth. He hoped that the SIA had analyzed the technology and distributed it to the fleet, though knowing government bureaucracy, he guessed that effort would need his prodding before the technology came into widespread use. Still, there should be time before it becomes urgent. The SIA had predicted that the Titans would need at least two years to rebuild their forces before they could become a threat again. Could he rely on that? ​ Even though he was getting closer to Earth with every passing second, the light from the inner planets was several days old. Something could have already transpired. There was one immutable lesson in war: never underestimate your opponent. ​ A shiver ran down his spine. ​ This is bad. Very bad! ​ Gone was the malaise that had haunted him earlier. Now, he emerged as a disciplined military strategist, intent on facing a major new challenge. ​ Looking expectantly, he examined McCall’s face for an assessment. ​ Shaking her head, she hesitated. “The picture is incomplete. I have little to offer.” ​ Gallant needed her to be completely open and honest with him, but he was unsure how to win that kind of support. ​ He rubbed his chin and spoke softly, “I’d like to tell you a story about a relationship I’ve had with a trusted colleague. And I’d like you to pretend that you were that colleague.” ​ McCall furrowed her brow, but a curious gleam grew in her eyes. ​ He said, “I’ve known this colleague long enough to know her character even though she has been secretive about her personal life and loyalties.” ​ McCall inhaled and visibly relaxed as she exhaled. Her eyes focused their sharp acumen on Gallant. ​ “She is bright enough to be helpful and wise enough not to be demanding,” continued Gallant. “She has offered insights into critical issues and made informed suggestions that have influenced me. She is astute and might know me better than I know myself because of the tests she has conducted. When I’ve strayed into the sensitive topic of genetic engineering, she has soothed my bumpy relationship with politicians.” ​ He hesitated. Then added, “Yet, she has responsibilities and professional constraints on her candidness. She might be reluctant to speak openly on sensitive issues, particularly to me.” ​ McCall’s face was a blank mask, revealing no trace of her inner response to his enticing words. He said, “If you can relate to this, I want you to consider that we are at a perilous moment. It is essential that you speak frankly to me about any insights you might have about this situation.” She swallowed and took a step closer to Gallant. Their faces were mere centimeters apart. ​ “Very well,” she said. “The Chameleon are a spent force. After the loss of their last Great Ship, they are defenseless. They agreed to an unconditional surrender. They might even beg for our help from the Titans. Their moral system is like ours and should not be a concern in any forthcoming action. However, the Titans have an amoral empathy with other species.” ​ He gave an encouraging nod. ​ She added, “Despite the defeat of Admiral Zzey’s fleet in Ross, the Titans remain a considerable threat. They opened peace negotiations ostensibly to seek a treaty with a neutral zone between our two empires. But we can’t trust them. They are too aggressive and self-interested to keep any peace for long. One option they might try is to eliminate the Chameleon while they have the opportunity. Another is to rebuild their fleet for a future strike against us. However, the most alarming possibility would be an immediate attack against us with everything they currently have. They might even leave their home world exposed. But that would only make sense if they could achieve an immediate and overwhelming strategic victory.” ​ Gallant grimaced as he absorbed her analysis. ​ She concluded, “This dramatic rejection of diplomacy can only mean that they are ready to reignite the war—with a vengeance. They will strike us with swift and ruthless abandon.” ​ Gallant turned his gaze toward the bright blue marble—still far away.

  • Midshipman Academy | H Peter Alesso

    Midshipman Henry Gallant at the Academy AMAZON 1 Threadbare ​ Still a boy, not yet a man, Henry Gallant dug his stiff fingers deep into his pockets. He shivered as the bitter-cold wind clawed through his threadbare clothes . ​ “Do you see it?” asked the elderly woman beside him, pulling her shawl tight around her. The overhead streetlamp offered little illumination as they squinted down the dark, winding dirt road. “Not yet,” said Gallant, standing on his tiptoes. ​ The woman was a head shorter than him with a careworn face that the chill air made rosy. Her elegant features revealed that she had once been a beauty, and while time had weathered her, she had aged gracefully. ​ Gallant stomped his feet impatiently while his mind was already racing, considering the prospects for his future. ​ She asked, “Will you visit me when you get liberty?” ​ “Of course, Grandmother,” he said, but he had no idea when that might be. ​ “You know I’ve always tried to do my best, ever since . . .,” ​ Gallant took a deep breath and wrapped his arms tight around his chest. ​ “They were heroes, you know,” she said softly. ​ “I know,” he said as the painful memory boiled up. ​ She had told him many times about the meteor that struck the family outpost on Phobos when he was a child. His parents had only seconds to seal him in an escape pod and couldn’t save themselves. The picture his mind conjured up was of their selfless act. ​ Since that ordeal, he had become obsessed with controlling his emotions. He had learned to set his own rules of behavior, things he would allow himself to express and things he wouldn’t. He kissed her gently on her forehead. “You gave meaning to my parents’ sacrifice by caring for me all these years.” ​ Her work as a clerk by day and a seamstress at night had been taxing but necessary to make ends meet. ​ She said, “You have been a blessing to me. Your freelance programming helped us manage.” ​ She brushed back a tangled lock of brown hair from his forehead and said, “I wish I could have done more to mend your clothes.” ​ “There’s nothing wrong with them,” he said. He stretched his arms wide as proof, but he was careful not to tear open a seam. “They’re perfect.” ​ Anxiously, he stared down the road, wishing the bus had wings. ​ Several minutes later, he said, “I think I see lights.” ​ She brightened. “You’ll soon have a brand-new uniform.” ​ While the bus approached, his grandmother continued to give him last-minute advice and encouragement, but he couldn’t concentrate on her words. As he looked into her eyes and saw her love, he could only feel guilt at leaving her alone. He planned to send her his meager midshipman’s allowance. It wouldn’t be much, but it was all he could do. ​ It will be all right , he thought. ​ The bus sputtered to a stop in front of them. A creaking door opened. ​ Gallant barely had time for a quick hug and kiss before getting aboard. He carried a small bag that contained a change of underclothes and a few toiletries. He made his way to a rear window seat and waved as the bus departed. ​ He watched her figure wave back as it faded into the shadows. The darkness seemed to swallow her like a living thing. ​ Gallant sat next to a woman holding a small spaghetti-armed child. He remained quiet, staring straight ahead. ​ The night was dark and cold along the remote, meandering mountain road. During the first hour of his journey, he worried about leaving his grandmother alone in their tiny mountain cabin. Although it was set in a pastoral valley with a natural spring, it lacked many modern conveniences. ​ Besides his financial contribution over the years, he helped her by taking care of daily necessities. He cleaned the solar panels and maintained the storage batteries. Unfortunately, home delivery in rural areas had not yet taken hold, so he undertook the long jet-flyer trip to the nearest store. Now she would have to manage on her own, and her arthritis had been acting up. ​ How will she manage without me? ​ His emotional baggage shifted during the second hour. ​ While he bounced around in the obsolete vehicle, self-doubt crept in. All his weaknesses, failings, and fears blossomed full form into his mind. He had never been aboard a spaceship, wasn’t a legacy, and didn’t even know a space officer. Most likely, he would be hazed, ridiculed, and driven out as undesirable within a week. ​ His frown deepened with each passing mile, and he began to wish he had never applied for admission to the academy. Finally, he considered getting off and catching the return bus. I’m getting too good at predicting adverse outcomes, he thought. ​ Gallant decided that untrustworthy emotions wouldn’t control him. Instead, he would let his logical mind guide him. He tried to calculate his chances of success. Then, after weighing the pros and cons, he thought, ​ I must be bold. ​ He straightened his spine, lifted his head, and vanquished guilt and fear. ​ Either I make it, or I die trying! ​ That’s all there was to it. Everything changed after that. As daylight trickled over the last hill, the road broadened into a smoothly paved highway. The sun’s resilient brightness lifted his spirits. He couldn’t wait for the adventure to begin.

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