ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 21, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from LJ user Rhodielady_47. It also fills the "measures" square in my 5-18-15 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series An Army of One.

Warning: This poem contains some harsh language, warped perceptions, and inadequate coping skills on the part of various people. When Sam the Gardener moves into Supply Base Bounty 3D3N, Router learns the fundamental truth about neurovariant people -- "If you've met one person on the spectrum, you've met one person on the spectrum." Sam has very different needs compared to Backup, and that is just going to be awkward for everyone until they figure out how to adapt.


"Seeking a Happy Medium"


Sam the Gardener built
his first hydroponic systems
for the plants that could grow
with their roots dangling into
pipes or pools of nutrient fluid.

It was simple and fast and easy,
but it didn't work for all the plants
that people wanted him to grow.

So the next thing Sam did was
to start seeking a happy medium
that could take the place of soil.

They didn't have any soil in space,
and they wouldn't for some time,
unless or until his composting efforts
paid off and produced something useful.

What they had were rocks and junk,
lots and lots of that stuff.

Asteroids were easy for Babs and Estelle
to catch and crush down to useable size.
It was simple to turn space rocks
into the equivalent of gravel,
perlite, pumice, or sand.

It was less simple, but still possible,
to make expanded clay pellets.

Making use of the scrap materials
scattered all over the Lacuna
added more challenge.

It was easy to pry the glass out of
things like faceplates and portholes,
which could then be broken down for use.

The problem was that working with broken glass
left Sam's hands full of nicks and splinters,
and since he was grubbing in a garden,
they quickly became infected.

So then Router pitched a fit about that,
which pissed off Sam because he hated
being treated like a fucking baby.

He could take care of himself, damn it,
not like that moron Backup.

Case helped by converting a material mixer into
a glass tumbler so that they could make
"friendly" sand and pebbles with
rounded edges that didn't cut.

As Sam chatted about his successes and
failures over the ciphernet, other people began
to join in the project, which led to more experiments,
and before long someone sent him a sample of
"growstones" made from recycled glass.

They looked like lava rocks, but actually came
from mixing molten glass with calcium carbonate
to make it foam, then breaking the cooled material
into rounded chunks of useful sizes.

When word seeped through the trade network
that Cascabel wanted z-balls, Bottleneck had
the bright idea of making them out of glass
as well as metal -- tiny, perfect spheres
which would support plants without
letting roots bind to any pores.

Glass allowed more light to reach the roots,
which improved growth, which made Sam happy.

* * *

Notes:

Hydroponic media include a wide range of materials. From asteroids: expanded clay pellets, gravel, perlite, pumice, sand. From salvaged glass: crushed glass, friendly glass sand, growstones, tumbled glass. Crushed glass bottles have been tested for this purpose, with positive results. "Friendly glass" has many applications, and sea glass is lovely.

Rockwool, silica sand, and sharp landscaping glass can all be hazardous. It is important to ensure that hydroponic media are safe, such as by tumbling to remove sharp edges.

Tumbled glass is safe, effective, and beautiful. You can make your own.

Glass ball bearings also have a wide range of uses. Z-balls are perfect ball bearings made in zero gravity, traditionally metal, but glass ones should work too.

Infantilization means treating someone as younger than their age/development. This can pose problems for people with disabilities such as autism. It can also spark vicious debates about whether the same action is infantilizing or empowering. Really it comes down to the fact that empowerment makes it possible for people to do more, while infantilization traps them into doing less. Router and the other neurotypical crewmen have little brothers; Backup has older brothers and needs a lot of help; so treating him like a baby brother works great for them. It does not work at all for Sam the Gardener, but neither is Sam adept at all the self-care and other techniques necessary for health and safety. They'll have to figure out some new arrangements.

Bottleneck is a neurovariant man with an interest in materials, who takes up some of the manufacturing as the Lacuna starts to produce its own goods.

Thots

Date: 2015-08-07 03:50 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Of course you've got to know who a moniker like "Sam the Gardener" immediately brings to mind!

"working with broken glass
left Sam's hands full of nicks and splinters"
resonates with a character I've been thinking of, derived from my own habit of cleaning up certain kinds of mess as I walk around the city, especially glass, whether (still) intact like beer bottles or already shattered. I'm very careful and attentive, especially with the latter, and rarely get even a tiny nick. Glazier doesn't have to worry about that: he can't be cut. I haven't decided yet whether it's restricted to glass and ceramic, or to non-metals, or unrestricted; the last means he'd need soup help to suppress his power if he ever needs surgery! And he may be developing more glass-related powers.

Re: Thots

Date: 2015-08-07 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Of course you've got to know who a moniker like "Sam the Gardener" immediately brings to mind! <<

True, though I doubt our dear Mr. Gamgee would be very happy trying to grow vegetables in a tray of crushed comet.

>> "working with broken glass
left Sam's hands full of nicks and splinters"


resonates with a character I've been thinking of, derived from my own habit of cleaning up certain kinds of mess as I walk around the city, especially glass, whether (still) intact like beer bottles or already shattered. <<

That sounds cool.

>>I'm very careful and attentive, especially with the latter, and rarely get even a tiny nick.<<

It can be done safely. I've done it too.

Then there was the Frankenstein's Family poem where the glassblower paid boys to gather shards, and some of them kept getting nicked because they weren't careful.

>> Glazier doesn't have to worry about that: he can't be cut. I haven't decided yet whether it's restricted to glass and ceramic, or to non-metals, or unrestricted; the last means he'd need soup help to suppress his power if he ever needs surgery! And he may be developing more glass-related powers. <<

That sounds like an awesome character. There are related superpowers: Shiv can not only levitate blades, he can make them out of anything hard enough for his ability to grip. Glass is a favorite.

Even Average (0) Toughness would make someone well-nigh glassproof, whether it's specific to that material or general. For comparison:

* Armor typically refers to garments, suits, or a layer of toughened skin. The former can be taken on and off, the latter usually not but it can also apply to shapeshifter-like ability of manifesting scales or whatever. Armor tends to degrade as it deflects damage. It is also primarily exterior rather than interior. Super-Armor works on the super scale.

* Super-strength and some other physical powers come with a protective energy field that prevents the body from tearing itself apart, and may affect interactions with other objects. So with innate Super-Strength you get the field which allows you to pick up a car by the bumper, whereas someone in a Battlesuit could not unless it was explicitly engineered for that. This type of power shows why it is just generally harder to hurt soups than naries. But it's responsive, it shifts on and off, based on whether the person is using their ability at that moment. If you hit a strongman with a crowbar while he is asleep, it will have a normal effect. But if you hit him while he's busy pulverizing a car, it will just slide off. The field activates on the offensive, not on the defensive, but it can have defensive side effects. In a fight, it tends to stay on, although someone might get in a lucky blow. And while the strength itself is usually under conscious control, the field rarely is.

Re: Thots

Date: 2015-08-07 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com

* Toughness refers to an overall, through-and-through resistance to most types of damage. On an ordinary level, it's the guy who smiles after you break a chair over his head. On a super level, it seriously reduces the effectiveness of attacks, which means the minor ones don't really register but heavier stuff may get through. It's usually shallow damage, which can sometimes be a nuisance. One of the most common hassles for a tough guy is that a bullet will break skin but be turned aside by denser muscle or bone, and wind up traveling several inches -- where it's difficult to remove, because the superpower makes the skin resistant to cutting. Toughness is mostly static; if you hit a tough guy while he's asleep, the effect will be the same as if you did it awake, usually nothing. A heavy fight can wear it down temporarily. However, it's responsive in a different way than Super-Strength. Toughness intensifies to fend off attacks, so if you throw a brick at a tough guy, it will bounce off the dense energy field without touching him. But he can pick up a knife with no problem. Some healers and medics are finding that it's possible to 'talk down' the level, but it's far more a tactile conversation with the superpower itself rather than a verbal discussion with the owner.

* Invulnerability ignores all ordinary damage except for mass destruction (bombs, lava, etc.). Some superpowers can still affect it, and some are particularly tuned to go right through. (Notice that Shiv's blades cut through Stalwart Stan like butter. Shiv's power has a 'penetrating' quality that circumvents defensive powers.) At higher levels, an Invulnerable character could stand up and dust himself off after a comet strike. Invulnerability is a stable power that is always on, and it doesn't wear down either. An exception is for artifact-based powers; Stalwart Stan can take off the fetish and all his powers go with it, but while he's wearing it, he can't turn the Super-Strength on and off like the Communication.

So yes, that has some unfortunate medical drawbacks. This is one reason why nary medics have trouble accommodating soup needs. For Super-Strength you just need to make sure the client is not combative. You cannot simply tie them down and start sawing away; if they're fighting, the field is on and you'd need special equipment (or someone with an ability like Power Nullification) to get through it. For the skin type of Armor, if it can't demanifest, it's basically like working on an alligator or a rhino, etc. Once you manage to get through that outer layer, the inside is squishier. For Toughness, most ordinary tools won't penetrate, it takes gizmotronic or at higher levels Super-Gizmotronic equipment; or an equivalent superpower. Some Healing abilities can part flesh, which is useful in this situation. But the fact that Armor can be punched through and Toughness can sometimes be worn down means that some nary medics have tried rather ghastly techniques. Cuoio has some appalling stories involving nail guns and industrial staplers. For Invulnerability, you're usually just shit out of luck. A few Super-Gizmos or superpowers can get through, but nothing less has a chance.

It also varies with regard to hair. Some soups have hair that is just generally resistant to cutting -- especially if their power runs through their hair. Some people with Toughness or Super-Strength have similar issues, and some of it pretty much won't cut. This can be a nuisance too.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-07 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhodielady-47.livejournal.com
This is a fine poem that fits in well with the others in this story-verse.

BTW: Sam needs a helper or helpers or perhaps a second gardener needs to set up shop somewhere...
Maybe someone who can grow mushrooms on the plant waste?
:^}

Thank you!

Date: 2015-08-08 06:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>This is a fine poem that fits in well with the others in this story-verse.<<

Yay!

>> BTW: Sam needs a helper or helpers or perhaps a second gardener needs to set up shop somewhere...
Maybe someone who can grow mushrooms on the plant waste?
:^} <<

Sam does need help. Eventually they will start rotating other people through the space, partly for that reason. But right now, he's the person with the most interest in plants, so it starts with him. A few other folks are trying to grow one of this, one of that. It'll just take time.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-09 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
I didn't know you could foam glass, but it makes sense.

I guess even in the Lacuna, people make mistakes and mistaken assumptions, but it sounds like they're trying to work things out.

Thoughts

Date: 2015-08-10 03:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>I didn't know you could foam glass, but it makes sense. <<

It's kind of cool, but can be risky.

>>I guess even in the Lacuna, people make mistakes and mistaken assumptions, but it sounds like they're trying to work things out.<<

Sooth. They're still human. They'll figure it out eventually.

Profile

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
ysabetwordsmith

April 2019

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 222324252627
282930    

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags