I restarted a book I left ten years ago.
Satellite Sister by Maurice Dantec, the sequel to its Babylon Babies.
The story has an amazing cyberpunk setting, taking place in 2030, involving space race, global governance, UNollar, Richard Brandson. It’s the perfect Deus Ex bootleg. Unfortunately this book does not exist in English, but I can recommend its previous opus, Babylon Babies, also known as the Babylon A.D. and I recommend you the book rather than the movie, which is at its best average.
Here is a preview.
-SIVY AMBY FOO-
A giant electric guitar falling from the sky, embedded in the desert, emitting sounds and lights, dominant: rustling jet engines, cobalt blue; counterpoints: orange lights in signal staccatos, brief crashes of vertical take-offs; harmonics: visual noise, hypersonic icons. Tonic: Spaceport NeoAmerica. The giant electric guitar that fell from the sky, embedded in the desert, opens onto one of the territory’s rare watering holes. If we took the trouble to observe where its wiring comes from, its generators, where and how its energy windings are formed, we’d see an immense sphere of light, a concentrated cluster of constellations, each brighter than the last, flashing, intermittent-continuous, drifting-changing highways of lumens, we’d see the megalopolis that gave birth to it.
We’d see the Great City of Games, we’d see the Rome of Casinos. Eyes magnetized by artificial photons would be the optical avant-garde of bodies dancing to the chaotic yet perfectly ordered tempo of Isotope Lotteries and machines of Chance/Program. The rigged Chance that always makes the Bank win. In other words, the goddess of a thousand names who reigns unchallenged over the palaces of artificial light, where collective reality-hallucination is multiplied in the form of little colored tokens.
This is the Elec-tri-city synthesis: Space city, game city, desert city, the holy trinity of imperial capital, a one-of-a-kind world created in clandestine silicon, a synthesis of ultra-secret military bases of ultra-secret military bases, megadetonating thermonuclear power, and devices of unknown origin with impossible kinetic moments, the gendarmes of aeromobile crashes. We’d see the future in the process of being overtaken, we’d see the present close at hand.
The two men stood side by side, atop what had been called Constellation Ridge. They dominated the entire view, all the way to the black-indigo horizon veined with extinguishing fire, overlooking the guitar that fell from the sky and the urban titan illuminated by its millions of lights, the planar desert in the night and the orchestra of high-tech buildings that had joined SpacePort NeoAmerica in just a few years, transforming the entire area into a nation dedicated to the conquest of the High Frontier, according to the semantics in force among all those who passed through, worked here, lived here. All those who eventually left the triple territory. To leave for the sky.
One of the men pointed his index finger at this dome studded with native sparkles, indicating an aerial mobile haloed in blue/silver, pursued by a bright orange flare. Over there, beyond a vast expanse of salt lakes winding through the golden-bronze desert, a vast assembly of concrete circuits, casemates, pylons, satellite dishes, solar panels, where a two-kilometre-long steel slide overhung a long series of electromagnetic coils, blue-green twisted cylinders twisted blue-green cylinders. This was the second aerospace complex, then under construction. Nova Terra Spaceport.
Between them: a supermachine implanted in the Nevada desert and pointed towards the outer skies, they formed the unified Alpha & Omega binomial, the most advanced launch platform on the planet. The man pointing his index finger at the hypersonic-flying machine wore a sand-colored suit, a white shirt and a pair of recent-looking cybermetric glasses. His hair fell close to his shoulders, old blond veined with silver-gray, delicately resourced by genetically modified hair implants. Her smile seemed to light up the celestial machine. Her hand moved towards the horizon, where the immense magnetic slide gleamed in titanium-steel.
– The HyperWave program: multi-mission spaceplane/magnetic catapult or vertical takeoff, by our firm Far Space United, with Elon Musk’, Franklin Chang-Diaz and Paul Allen. Aeroplastic wings, scramjet engines for atmospheric exit, latest-generation high-power electric motors for access to high orbit and interplanetary transfers, then heavy-ion engines for exploration beyond…
– Where is this orbital aircraft?
-Not ONE orbital aircraft… TEN HyperWaves built and already in orbit, Fedor. Over there, in the assembly hall, they’re completes realization of the last-born, the next generation: the Deep Black Angel. When everything is ready, Mars will be the new New World within our reach.
– And the craft fired from Neo-America with your Falcon Halo reusable launcher assemblies, test flight? The man in the desert-colored suit smiled frankly and said just one word.
– The Kraken “RedRay”. Designed by Elon Musk, of course. A high-capacity, long-distance freighter. The ultimate culmination of the Dragon of the 2010s.
At his side stood a tall, powerfully built individual, short hair, bright red t-shirt printed with a military crest, gray-black camouflage pants, a beard a few days old pricked his round face. His round face with the innocence of a child lost in an icy world.
He never took his eyes off the aircraft that had just taken off from the first launch pad, above which they stood side by side. His smile could have sent the flying machine crashing to the ground.
Prototype, really? asked the short-haired man. It looks like a production model. Falcon-Halo for departure, and the latest of your capsules for high orbit and distant destinations, it looks like anything but an experimental craft.
– The final test. If all goes nominal, like the other test flights, operations will begin as early as next month.
Everything is ready to go. Assembly centers, launch pads, control and communications towers. Everything.
– You play on diversity – that’s how wars are won, and that’s why Cosmos Robotnika wants to cooperate with you.
– Of course we do. And I’m not talking about our Millennium-Phoenix program, and its latest-generation plasma engine, co-developed with Ad Astra, Franklin Chang-Diaz’s company. And if I don’t mention it, it’s because it’s still a project shrouded in secrecy. We won’t reveal it to you until we’re in orbit, once all our agreements have been signed.
-Tell me Richard, you’ve advertised one launch a week, right? Are you sure you can keep up the pace?
– Once we’ve reached cruising speed, so to speak. There will be a preparatory phase lasting two or three months, then a weekly launch into orbit to start with, using all the means at our disposal. We’ll soon be celebrating our 1,000 Falcon launches in ten years. Nobody would have bet a button of their pants on our gamble in 2020. But we’re in business, not entertainment.
– Celestial Las Vegas. But not just a casino-city in space, I understand.
– It’s much more than that, Fedor, as you know. There are orbital hotels and space tourism, to finance the main part of the program, the one I told you about yesterday. Fedor didn’t reply. The day before, Richard Branson had uttered an essential word, the one that had covered all the others with its sunlight.
Rows of slot machines: a polychrome cohort swallowing or spitting out UNollar with every isotopic pulse, radioactively harmless fissile micro-reactors radiating fortune or ruin in a fraction of a second. Electronic gaming tables: invisible croupiers integrated by nano-networks into translucent surfaces, megabytes dispensing Black-Jacks and pokers’ hands, artificial intelligences in the secret service of Her Majesty the Bank.
Ultra-light metal disc wheels controlled by non-linear
accompanied by the humanoid/cyborg presence of a young artefact-woman or a costumed animatron, a stylized 50s robotic imitation, Frank Sinatra software machine.
Floors, walls, ceilings, equipment: geometries of lumens studded with all visible and invisible frequencies, abstract formulated spectrometry or grand master paintings from a replicated digital museum-show past, psychedelia-neuroprogramming.
The Casino is open 25 hours a day. The 25 hour is integrated into the electric day, second after second, in amplified optical mode, hallucination turned objective reality, an object that has become a convolution of your brain.
Welcome to Las Vegas.
In the middle of the afternoon, the “American Night” program was suddenly triggered, without warning, as always. The skies turned indigo blue, thousands of fictitious stars appeared holographically, and a mercurial moon appeared alongside the Big Dipper.
Las Vegas loved the night, to the point of making it a parameter of the day.
Metallised chrome veined cyanosis, words made their appearance as astral diodes, words signed Virgin Galactic, words of the man named Richard Branson, words of the man from the SpacePorts embedded in the desert, they diffuse cometary in the artificial nocturnal gas, fiery verses that made the backdated heavens the pages of a book open to all residents of the Tri-City.
WELCOME TO THE MORE THAN BLACK HIGH FRONTIER
The puppet-arrow magnetic polygon rolling dice slid neatly into the winning magnetized hypercube slot, a small bluish flash announced the value of the win and Shane Warner Stark activated the control that would handle the monetary transfer. Gulping down a cocktail of micro alcoholic Russian vodka and Javanese ecolocafé, his right optic nerve displayed the sum of his evening’s profits, a substantial addition that wouldn’t make the Casino Bank weep, but would see him through several more days in the hotel’s Telescope Dharma Suite.
Enough time to meet the man he was supposed to meet.
The man who would invest millions of Unollars in SpacePort NeoAmerica. The man who would become his friend.
The man for whom he would have to kill many men.
Sir Richard Branson: Founder of The Virgin Group and CEO of Virgin Galactic.
Elon Musk: PhD in energy physics, South African-born, founder of Paypal (online banking), Tesla Motors (electric sports cars), SpaceX (space launch vehicles) and SolarCity (largest solar cell park in North America).
Franklin Chang-Diaz: astronaut, businessman and physicist, inventor of the plasma engine.
Paul Allen: co-founder of Microsoft.