Globus Cassus

An orthogonal view of Globus Cassus.

An orthogonal view of Globus Cassus.

The Invisibles refers to the Kardashev scale, a speculative system of measuring a civilization’s technological advancement based on the amount of energy and resources it can wield. Loosely, a type one civilization uses what’s available on its local planet, type two can take advantage of the local star, and so on. A civilization capable of building Globus Cassus might be the pinnacle of type one — unless it took more energy than the planet contains to retrofit it into a hollow sphere.

Picture it: the Earth is mined for the material making up the core. That material is piled up on the outside and arranged in various ways. The squashed sphere of Earth becomes more like a flattened egg.[1] Some portions of the exterior become windows to let in light from the sun. Humanity lives on the portions of the interior where centrifugal force generates gravity, which provide more than ample living space. Low gravity and airless zones have specialized purposes: manufacturing, storage and so on.

Exerting that level of control over one’s environment must be a step on the road, probably an early one, to becoming peers with civilizations like the People or the Culture. How big — and ridiculously well-equipped — would an interstellar empire have to be to decide, “You know, there’s nothing happening in that star system. Let’s hollow out some planets to create habitable space”?[2]

On the other end of the timescale, an excavated world would be a fascinating artifact of a bygone civilization to run across in the deep of space. It’s a bit like Ringworld, but I’m put more in mind of Terry Pratchett’s Strata, for some reason. Maybe it’s the psychological component of going down into the hollow world. The exterior hides its secrets. Explorers “descend” into the unknown. There could be anything down there: bug-eyed monsters, detrimental robots, anarcho-syndicalist communes scraping by, anything!

It’s gnarly and a bit more atypical than yer Dyson sphere or ringworld. I like it.

Wikipedia article via @AllenVarney.

[1] A flattened icosahedron, no less!

[2] Come to think of it, I am reminded of the Draconis campaign frame in GURPS Bio-Tech, only remodeling the planet instead of terraforming it.

The Tower of Eben-Ezer

Historical Thursday over on There, I Fixed It brings us another neat-o example of weird stuff in the real world: the tower of Eben-Ezer. In 1963, Robert Garcet built a tower in Belgium. He designed it to match the dimensions of the temple of New Jerusalem, mentioned in the Bible. The top of the tower holds statues of four figures that signify in the book of Revelation: a bull, an eagle, a lion and a man. Here‘s another example of the occult symbolism throughout the tower.

Plus, there are claims of an ancient network of tunnels running beneath the tower and surrounding area. Garcet claimed even to find remains of an ancient town dating back 70 million years, which was subsequently lost in mining demolitions, as the writer at Soul Guidance relates:

This village, he claims, was once cut into the rocks, but was exposed to the open air. On top of the village are now three layers of ocean deposits, showing that Belgium has been covered three times by the ocean. This means that the village existed some 70 million years ago . . . Moreover, he says that all the walls, and stone benches had been cut into flint rock, and that all surfaces in these houses are smooth. This is a second anomaly, as flint cannot be worked, it chips, and stays rough.

You can find more tantalizing bits about the tower and its curious features, including photos, at Atlas Obscura and Soul Guidance.

Update! @fortEbenEmael kindly clarified the situation regarding the fortress of Eben-Emael and the tower of Eben-Ezer:

please, do mind that the tower (= Eben-Ezer) has nothing to do with the fortress! Situated apr. 3km from eachother!

I think I’ve corrected the errors. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Hailing from the Fashionable Upper Cambrian

Just in case you needed a strata of rock of a particular antediluvian vintage from which a hibernating monstrosity may spring or creature may be reconstituted, here’s a list of known fossil sites around Vermont and the geological eras in the history of Earth to which they belong.

[via Geek Mountain State]

Plot Seed Medley

Writing plot seeds is tricky. It’s easy to let yourself become repetitive. I find myself writing and rewriting them to stand out as unique. That’s why I so easily stalled on Plot-Seed-a-palooza. I do mean to get back to that someday.

In the meantime, enjoy revisiting some previously published plot seeds.

  1. Beastmen of the North Country lurk in the dark, silent woods.
  2. The Ghost Writer finds herself compelled to fulfill the authorial aspirations of the long-departed.
  3. Lincoln’s Blood proves a turning point for secret histories and wars.
  4. The Roxbury House is a spooky old house inspired by pictures taken by a friend of mine.
  5. Slayers and ‘Busters brings together two monster-hunting franchises to amuse the spectator in the incongruities and similarities.
  6. Something in Lake Champlain Uses Bio-Sonar is a highly suggestive thought about the sort of marine life lurking at the edges of human activity.
  7. Starless takes the contracting universe seen at the end of season five of Doctor Who and adds archaeologists of true history to the mix.
  8. This Man draws on an urban legend to create an ally or antagonist based in the dream world.
  9. Turn Me On, Dead Man presents an alternate history in which the star-crossed fates of two Beatles puts the world in jeopardy.
  10. The Voynich Manuscript is one of those archetypal plot seeds that everyone takes a stab at.

The Roxbury House

The House in Roxbury, Vermont. Photo by A. Liptak

The Roxbury House — or just “The House,” as it’s called by those investigators most intimately familiar with the strange goings-on documented over the decades on its grounds — is supposedly located somewhere in central Vermont. Not Roxbury, itself, of course; that would make the house too easy to find. But somewhere around there, up a disused track, shrouded in a stand of old growth forest, or down in a hollow in the rolling, ancient Green Mountains, is the House.

Judging by its outward appearance, the Roxbury House would fit seamlessly into any B grade movie filled with ghosts, spooks and poltergeists. Any of the half dozen or investigators privileged enough to have studied the structure and its phenomena, though, will assure you that whatever’s going on here, it has nothing to do with the dearly departed.

No flying crockery or slamming doors plague the House’s residents. They do, however, have a near-constant reminder that their home is shared otherworldly residents. Any time between sunset and sunrise, an observer can catch sight of shadowy silhouettes, two dimensional but seemingly floating through mid-air without an object nearby to cast a shadow. The Roxbury House has possibly the most perfectly aligned case of shadow people ever recorded.

One of the typical characteristics of a shadow person sighting is the apparition doesn’t line up with our world, as it were. Figures pass through walls as though the wall didn’t exist, suggesting that if this silhouette were a real entity as we understand the term “real,” it might be living in a physical world overlapping with our own in such a way that we can see the entity’s shadow, but not the inanimate matter around it.

In the House, however, the movements of the shadow people line up perfectly with the doors, walls and windows. They stroll down the hallways, climb the stairs and even putter in the kitchen with a disturbing similarity to flesh and blood and humans, barring their two dimensionality, insubstantiality and, of course, attendant cold spot phenomena.

The shadow people inhabiting the House are always accompanied by cold spots, zones of inexplicable chill that move with them around the House. Regardless of the local temperature, whether the wood stove is lit or not, a shadow person is always significantly cooler, by twenty or more degrees. Touching the silhouette of a shadow person is always a shock, but usually one has warning that it approaches, as the local temperature gradually cools. A shadow person almost seems to absorb heat as it moves around the House. Even in the day time, when shadow people aren’t normally visible, the rise and fall of temperatures seemingly at random — although they have their own morning and evening routines, which fall into that realm of odd comfort other haunted residents experience; “Oh, that was George the ghost slamming the toilet lid” — can be more eerie than seeing the shadow person outright in the dark hours.
Continue reading