AUTHOR'S NOTE: There is no official canon for Etheras. The story here does not preclude validity of other Etheras stories. Stories involving Etheras should be considered universes unto themselves with little or no carryover except for the character of Etheras himself. So please no "If this happened then how can Etheras have done this other thing?" Answer: Two different stories. Thanks!
Reporter : Hello and welcome to Era Magazine's special on the world's elite, where we interview the swankiest, the trendiest, and the richest and most-powerful figures; The Most Important people of the modern age. My name is Emma Fortane and in our first week we are in Greater Nubia, formerly known as 'Egypt', at the palace of Etheras Dela Fay... 'the Fennecropolis'... and I have to say, this place is amazing. Prominently jutting from the lush green ferns and palms of the Dahkla Oasis, framed with desert sands as far as the eye can see in all directions, its icicle-white spires spiral into the stratosphere from its nine-mile-wide base, the Fennecropolis is the largest artifact ever made. At an astonishing six miles tall, it dwarfs even Mount Everest. How it was made, and what materials were used to make it, Etheras and his engineers keep as a closely-guarded secret. Reports have come to us that foreign agents have tried to chip the surface, to steal samples of it, in order to study it in their home countries, but all have failed; its virtually indestructible. It looks like some kind of glossy white enamel... but its incredibly hard and strong... which makes sense considering its imposing size. There are many stories about the Fennecropolis. Some have speculated that the Fennecropolis is actually hollow, and houses secret torture chambers and passages. Others have surmised that it has an extraterrestrial origin. Still others believe that it is alive. But this reporter has been here for several days and can assure you, our readers, that from what we have seen so-far the structure is just as it seems: the fantastic palace and headquarters of one of the world's greatest technologists. And the Fennecropolis isn't the only wonder to be found here... the greatest is The Fox himself. We had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him for an exclusive interview.
Reporter : Lord Etheras! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview with us.
Etheras : Your fascination was to-be-expected. I mean... how could you not be fascinated with me. (Etheras checks his fingernails. They are a perfectly manicured glossy black onyx.)
Reporter : Quite right, quite right. I suppose I should start off the first question with the obvious... How do you like being rated as one of Era Magazine's "Most important Persons"?
Etheras : It's was the most obvious choice, and I congratulate your news service on being well-informed enough to make the correct selection.
Reporter : You have conquered several industries. First broadcast media, then broadcast technologies, electronics, robotics, material sciences...
Etheras : Admittedly, Miss Fortane, these are not entirely my accomplisments. I am the visionary, but I employ some extremely talented people. Their dedication is absolute.
Reporter : Very modest of you, sir. Tell us a little bit about the broadcast media. What made you decide to pursue that avenue first?
Etheras : Actually my first accomplishments were in the realm of Mental Conditioning. Harnessing the power of suggestion, I was able to tap into the subconscious and find out what people really wanted. First I used this to attract the best talent, by providing prospective employees with offers that had just the right perks to make our positions undeniable. Then I used this to further other business opportunities. It put the industry of the whole world on its head. Rather than advertising and trying to convince people that they wanted our products, we were able to read their desires directly from their minds, and pursued those business opportunities.
Reporter : Isn't that a bit of an intrusion into people's privacy?
Etheras : We don't think of it as-such. The system is proximity-based. If you don't want your thoughts read, simply don't go near one of the terminals.
Reporter : What about the critics who say that's hardly possible nowadays... that the terminals are everywhere and avoiding them can't be done.
Etheras : That's democracy for you. Unfortunately for those who wish to keep their thoughts secret, their neighbors prefer the convenience of thought terminals. The public-at-large considers my terminals to be beneficial. They have shown this by purchasing our products in quantities never-before-seen by any industry.
Reporter : Some have postulated that the mind-scanning process is not one-way... that with a powerful-enough broadcast-station, you may actually be able to write onto the minds of others?
Etheras : That's just silly, don't you think? The crazy things people come up with...! (Etheras chuckles)
Reporter : Yes I guess it is. Tell me more about the broadcast technology you... or rather, your team... has pioneered?
Etheras : Sure. Its a simple and reliable and cost-effective means of producing a radio or microwave field uniformally across an entire planet. Its actually quite simple, so I'm surprised that it wasn't invented before I came up with it. The principle works like this: Except for extremely high-energy, and extremely low-energy wavelengths, photons do not penetrate physical matter very well. There is some penetration, of course, but anyone who's ever tried to microwave a frozen turkey will undoubtedly acknowledge that electromagnetic rays are very limited in their ability to penetrate matter. Therefore its difficult if-not-impossible to communicate from one side of a planet to the other. The typical solution to this is to put up satellites, then use Line-Of-Sight communications to the satellite, which will bounce to another line-of-sight satellite from the satellite's perspective, then to another, and so-on until its on the other side of the planet. From there the signal is beamed-down to the surface and the message arrives. This is obviously a very inefficient means of communication. Adverse weather can become a problem, as-is the latency from beaming signals being beamed all-over-the-place. Also, if something goes wrong with the satellite, it becomes space-junk, since its cheaper to send up a replacement satellite than it is to send someone up to fix it, which has left our planet with artificial ring of space junk. The solution is to have a very tall transmission tower... like The Fennecropolis... and transmit the photons at pre-calculated angles of decaying orbits and increasing intensity. We've known since Einstein's solar-eclipse experiment that the path of photons are affected by gravity. The speed of a photon through air is a known-quantity, as is the shape and size of the planet. Therefore it is trivially easy to communicate with the other side of the planet, provided you have a tall-enough transmitter. You simply focus the beam of the transmission at an angle where the decay of the photon's orbit will arrive on the ground on the other side of the world. There is some trickery to this, in that you have to stagger the transmission of the message so that it is sent from the top transmitters first, in order that people who are on the boarder of intersecting regions don't get distorted traffic, but once again... its just simple math.
Reporter : Yet there is controversy around this, as-well. Since your transmissions from Greater Nubia arrive all-over the world, and at such power-levels, no nation can "ban" your transmissions. Doesn't The Fennecropolis have implications for the sovereignty of nations?
Etheras : It does. But I would argue that any government who wishes to deny a media source access to its people is probably doing it nefariously and has something to hide. It is generally considered to be a good idea that governments do not control the media. But if its a choice between a promise not to interfere and the physical inability to do-so... obviously the latter is preferable.
Reporter : Perhaps.... but to the contrary.... Considering the output strength of The Fennecropolis, doesn't this also mean that you have the ability to suppress the transmissions of national governments at your will?
Etheras : I never thought of it that way, but I suppose it does. However, we have never done that and don't plan-to.
Reporter : But the ability is within your power. Do you see why this might make national governments nervous?
Etheras : I do. But they would have to be doing something extremely nefarious for me to ever use The Fennecropolis in that way. But since we're on the topic... electromagnetic fields, such as radio and microwave communications, operate perpendicularly to electricity. Where a field exists, it tend to create current in conductive materials. This is how an electromagnetic pulse shorts out electronics. So... not only is it conceivable that the Fennecropolis could block all wireless communications from a nation, but if we focused all of its power in one direction, could fry the electronics of an entire country and send them back into the stone-ages. (Etheras chuckles) But that doesn't mean we will do it!
Reporter : Doesn't that have implications for National Sovereignty, though? If you can, basically, destroy a country at-will, can't you dictate terms? Some have called you "The Ruler Of the World". Is there some truth to that?
Etheras : (Etheras is admiring his claws again) If I ever exercised the power, then perhaps it is true. But I've never exercised it, and I don't plan to. For now, I am content to provide the world with my excellent programming and allow them to admire my fennecy perfection from afar.
Reporter : (Emma laughs) One of the few things you've never been good at is modesty.
Etheras : On the contrary Miss Fortaine, only a person of humility so-brazanly states their quality. One who is convinced of their quality has no need to seek the validation of others.
Reporter : I suppose that is true...
Etheras : And by that logic, I am the humblest person in the world. (Etheras grins)
Reporter : Very funny. But that does bring us to another topic I wanted to discuss; your modeling career. I've been told you've been approached by several magazines and top-line designers to appear in the advertisements and to do some photo shoots. How did those go?
Etheras : Its nice to be admired for one's beauty. They went very-well. Its also good advertisement for my dance series and some of the programming on my network. To get the name and image out, you know?
Reporter : Mister Dela Fay, I doubt there are many in this world who do not know who you are already. To the next topic: space. You have begun construction of the Fennec One - the world's first manned spacecraft capable of going beyond the solar system. Rumor has leaked that the reason you ascribed to this ambitious project is that "conquest of one world isn't enough"... that "the galaxy is rightfully" your's.
Etheras : (Chuckling again) I might have said that, but if I did, it was just a joke.
Reporter : I've also heard rumor that there are is no suspended animation system aboard this ship. Critics say that, since your target world is a couple hundred lightyears away, the ship will not safely carry them there, because its too small and ill-equipped to be a multi-generational ship. How do you respond?
Etheras : That they do not understand how relativity works. You see, the transit time between any two points can be reduced if a person can travel fast enough. Most people falsely assume that science dictates that one cannot travel faster than the speed of light. That is untrue. Science has never said that. On the contrary - the opposite has been proven. What science says is that one cannot travel faster than LIGHT. Not the SPEED of light. There's an important difference. You see... the faster an object travels, the more it distorts the fabric of spacetime around it, creating a "bubble" or, as it is technically called, a "frame". Within this frame, time behaves differently. It moves much more slowly. Therefore... to simplify the math massively.... for a given distance, like 1000 miles, for example... To an outside observer, they might see that it takes the ship one minute to cross that distance. But to someone within the frame, it might take only 40 seconds. The miles are the same, and the speed is the same, but time itself is different. The faster we push the ship, the larger this spacetime distortion grows. If we can get enough energy to the ship, from the perspective of the passengers, they would arrive almost instantly. But if they turned their "headlights" on during the voyage, they would still see the photons leaving their ship at a constant 300 million meters per second... and when they arrive at their destination.... to the outside universe, 200 years will have passed. But from their perspective, almost no time would have passed, so why would we need to put them into suspended animation? Why would we need extra food stocks? Its totally unnecessary. I know its somewhat tangential to this, but this is why I like the concept of a lightyear. Its an empirical measure of distance that's devoid of any relativistic complications about "who's time is right"... provided you count a year as one orbit of the Earth around the Sun, and not 31-million seconds. The number of revolutions of a world around a star is objectively observable and the same for all viewers, no matter how distorted or undistorted your frame of spacetime is.
Reporter : I'm not sure I follow all of that... so I'll leave it to my readers. But what about critics who say that your ship will never reach the near-light velocities that you will need for the space-time distortion to keep your ship's colonists from aging?
Etheras : Its a lack of creative thinking on their part. You see... they are talking about how matter becomes more massive the faster it travels. This is actually where the spacetime distortion comes from. Anyway - because fuel has mass, there is a threshold that one cannot cross, where the increasing mass of the fuel itself is greater than the energy output that it can provide to move that mass. But they make the faulty assumption; that fuel has to be carried to make a vehicle go... but if-so, what powers the sailing ships of old? An external source, of course.
Reporter : So the Fennec One will be powered by... what? A solar sail?
Etheras : Yes and no. A solar sail is an extremely primitive concept. It wouldn't work as a practical application for travel on a galactic scale. Its simply not harnessing enough energy. We use a method invented by Arthur C Clarke. An huge array of solar cells near the orbit of Mercury has a powerful transformer and a high-precision laser. The laser is directed at a cell on the ship tuned to the lasers radiant frequency to ensure near-total absorption. Due to its proximity to the sun, the energy output of the beam is greater than that of all the powerplants on earth - easily enough to accelerate one single ship near the speed of light. Of course we can't fire the full intensity of the beam all-at-once, but as the Fennec One accelerates away, the energy will become redshifted and we will need to pour out more energy from the laser for it to arrive at the proper energy-levels at the ship. The ship is equipped with one of these lasers of its own, which it will deploy at the target solar system during its first orbit in order to assist in deceleration.
Reporter : My time with you is running out, so let me ask one final question... what do you plan to do next?
Etheras : I have several projects in the works that have not been announced yet, but the one I am most proud of is a self-squishing bug.
Reporter : A... what?
Etheras: You ever find a bug and its like... totally disgusting... so disgusting you don't even want to go near it, but its so gross you can't bear the thought of letting it go on and remain in the world?
Reporter : I guess....
Etheras : Well... I thought that a really good system would be to make the bug self-squishing. I'm creating a DNA retrovirus that will rewrite the genes of several of the grossest species of insects to grow an appendage... a big squishing arm... if certain alleiles emerge that are associated with grotesque size or terrible ugliness. It will take some time before the appendages begin to grow, to make sure that the modified DNA spreads through the population.
Reporter : That's... a really weird thing to do.
Etheras : A lot of my team's inventions have benefitted the world massively by providing better products and services. But every once-in-awhile, one has to do something for themselves.
Reporter : Quite. Anyway - thank you so much, Lord Etheras Dela Fay. I wish you the best of luck on your .. self-squishing bug program.
Etheras : Thanks!
Thanks for reading!
Artwork lines by:
Inks & Colors by:
Etheras the Fennec (c) www.etheras.com
This pic was originally of Jaspian. I got permission from the artist to ink & color, and I colored him as Jaspian, but then I sat on it for awhile... then Etheras came around and I decided to recolor it to be him. Anyway - hope you like!
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