Chapter 2

"The Staterooms in their situation, spaciousness, and appointments will be perfect havens of retreat where many pleasant hours are spent, and where the time given to slumber and rest will be free from noise or other disturbance."

Description of a cabin on the Titanic; White Star Line

- - ❖ - -

 “She reached out both hands, touched two spots on the wall and the disappearing bed swung down. With the chairs open, there remained hardly room for one person to stand.”

Description of a cabin in the Freetrader ship Sisu; Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein


- ❖ -

 I run my ident chip over the door sensor and am granted access to my room. Entering is shocking enough that I stop shaking. In fact, I stop completely. I’m not sure what I expected, but this is not it. In the news and in space documentaries – heck, even in space holograms – they always show the rooms on a spaceship as small, with everything folded away when not in use. Well, the designers of this room never saw any of those documentaries or sci-fi shows.

To start with, the room may be large enough for a volleyball game (But because it is full of furniture, I can’t measure and find out.). There is a small sitting area with the kind of chair that looks so comfy that you would growl at anyone trying to make you get up. Unbelievably, there is a two-person couch across from it. The walls are covered in what looks like thick oak paneling that complements the carpeting quite seamlessly. Beyond the couch is a screened area where I can see a queen-sized bed. And in the far corner is a wooden desk in the French Louis XV style. It is much nicer than the one in the Mayor’s office at Gracie Mansion, his 16th century home, but here there are no toilets shooting fountains of water to flood the rug.

On the wall to the left of to the entrance, where you would expect to find the light switch, there are two control panels, each displaying a personalized welcome message and inviting me to set my preferences. The first is a slightly more complicated environmental control than the one you would see in an apartment or a home. Where a common one is for temperature, this also has settings for humidity and lighting – both calibrated with planet or colony names. The second one is one labeled AG; it is also displaying a list of planet or colony names. Out of curiosity, I move the AG setting to Luna, and suddenly I feel as if I’m in an elevator going down very fast and would probably bounce if I tried walking around. I reset it back to Earth and the floor feels normal again. It seems that everyone can set their room to the light level, temperature, humidity, and gravity that would make them feel right at home. Very considerate of the designers.

Sitting on the couch (I’m not ready to make a commitment to the chair.), I touch my wristpad. “OK, Brain, time to sync.”

“BJ, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

“Yes, but first I need more information. Please download all information about this ship and cruise that you can find.”

While my AI is downloading everything, I have a chance to think back to how I ended up in this extravagantly decorated metal box, before I leave Earth for the first time.


It was just another Friday morning and I was about finished with sorting out all the problems with the City’s AI, Gracie. She has been making strange mistakes in salary payments (Who ever saw a pay transaction with nine zeros after the decimal point followed by the correct amount?), randomly shooting geysers out of the mayor’s toilet, and other practical jokes.

Especially memorable was last week’s glitching of the antigrav in the council chamber. This managed to leave the chairwoman’s Pomeranian floating half a meter off the floor in the middle of the room. The sergeant at arms was struggling against what must have been at least three gravities while trying to get to the poor dog. All in all, those were a tough couple of weeks for everyone involved. They had suffered a few days of unexpected pranks while the internal team had failed to find the fault. I was called and arrived just before the floating Pomeranian incident. At least I wasn’t the one who had to clean the bathroom ceiling. I worked out that there was a short in the positronic chip. Once I identified the fault, it needed to be fixed to prevent the AI from acting with the sense of humor of a six-year-old. Replacing would have damaged the personality of a silicon citizen, so I had to be careful to avoid being charged with et animi detriment.

After restoring proper function to the AI, the City’s CTO came over and thanked me, handing me a card with an embedded data chip.

“The Mayor would like you to have this as a bonus in appreciation for the two weeks of more than 20-hour days you have been working to get Gracie back to her old self. I hope you don’t have another project scheduled as most of the prizes are meant to be used immediately.”

End of sample chapters. 

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