Captain Pom Versus the Grumians
By Andy Ross
Year 2099: Planet Earth is in the grip of aliens
from the star system Grumium*.
* Also known as Xi Draco, a big star 200
light years from Earth
Grumian rule is enforced by an army of robots
slaved to a huge cyborg on Mount Everest called Globocop.
Interstellar Datalink with the Grumian Supreme Authority for Terminating
Anti-Grumian Nihilists --
SATAN: "Crush Earthling resistance!"
Globocop: "I hear and obey, O Glorious Overgalactic Dictator!"
Captain James Pom is a humble Earthling who pilots
Sci-Site Enterprise, a science website he steers in cyberspace using
fly-by-lite brilliant realization software from Angelic Bot Corporation,
-- Object oriented tractor beam joystick --
reality images of SS Enterprise warping thru cyberspace --
activation for web angels (brilliant softbots) --
supergravimatic hovercup --
-- Relativistic database warp drive joystick
One spring morning, James is breakfasting in the
sun on his modest penthouse terrace in Karlsruhe, Germany, when his flatmate
Katie suddenly appears.
Katie: "James! The Grumians have broken our
genetic database security code!"
-- MTV headphones with BBC online
update voiceover --
-- Solar photons --
James: "Oo-er! We must
act right away!"
Back in the capitain's chair of SS
Enterprise, James warps into the genetic database.
James: "It looks
serious, Katie! They've accessed the homeobox code sector."
"They must have bypassed the scuzzy dongle!"
James: "Right -- They
can read all our genetic code."
Katie: "What can we
do about it?"
James: "We can call Digger. He has a new encryption
angel that can rejig the dongle in nanoseconds -- if Globocop hasn't
penetrated his firewall!"
Can James rejog the dongle in time to stop
Globocop from beaming the code to Satan?
The story so far: Planet Earth is in the grip of Globocop, a giant
cyborg from Grumium that rules over Earthlings with an army of grumbots.
Globocop has just cracked into a genetic code database.
calls his chum Digger.
James: "Hallo there, Digger. We have a problem
in Enterprise code sector HU-GE-HB123."
Digger: "Goodday, Pom!
Problem? No problem a trip in psychedelia can't fix."
Globocop has bypassed our scuzzy dongle and accessed a chunk of core code
for the human genome. If they beam it back to Grumium, we're in a pickle."
Digger: "Pickled Poms! The scuzzy dongle ... I can fix that. My latest
cryptic angel can scramble HU-GE code like an omelette. They'd need a
supercomputer the size of the known universe to crack it."
"Great stuff! Can you access HU-GE-HB123 and fix it?"
Digger: "Can I
belch technicolor tides of tomato-enriched chunder? Just let me pilot my
yellow submarine into the war zone ..."
-- Diggeridoo psychofriendly
carcinoneutral macrobiotic joint --
-- Cybernautilus(R) nanophotonic
divestick with multifunctional vibe download periscope --
All over the globe, grumbots crash onward, forcing humans into
Grumbot: "Make way, aboriginal biomasses, or be
exterminated with extreme grumpiness!"
-- Gruminated titanium body
-- Diamond dome over nanomechatronic hyperspectral I/O modules
A grumbotic televangelist: "Workers of the
aboriginal biomass unite in grumious hosannas to Big G! Cast off your
biochauvinist chains and cast on the mantle of the grumungous power and
glumory of Big G, the salvation of all who grumble themselves before the
Supreme Authority for Terrorizing Aboriginal Nitwits!"
-- I'm the
-- Grumbilical teleprompter datalink to Big G --
Globocop, Mount Everest
Globocop: "Great news, O
Glorious One! The biomass database will soon be ours!"
Meanwhile, life goes on for some. Pom's girlfriend Katie heads for her
daily PR job at Bar-B-Lab.
-- Gravi-Surf(R) thermomuonic
supergravimatic scooterboard --
If Globocop and his
army of grumbots get their titanium claws on the secrets of the HU-GE code,
the globotic emissary of SATAN will weave Earthling biomass into a ghastly
grumBorg collective. Can James and Digger save the Earth?
The story so far: Grumian cyborg Globocop has penetrated a
genetic code database that it could use to turn humans into a gruesome
GrumBorg biomass. With only nanoseconds to spare, James Pom and Digger fight
to encrypt the database.
Digger pilots his virtual yellow submarine
in a cryptological ocean of palindromes, enantiomorphs, acrostics, anagrams
and permutations. Cryptic angels steer torpedoes tipped with combinatorial
explosives to hold the creatures at bay.
Digger: "Well, Pom, old
fruit, we did it! We saved the database! Angel Edna scrambled the genome
before yonder ETI grunched our goolies!"
Sci-Site Enterprise thru a cyberspace peppered with planets hosting virtual
lifeforms that between them know just about everything. Angel Spock works
wonders with their worlds of wisdom.
James: "Yeah, good work, Digger.
We pulled our chestnuts out of the firing zone. But we haven't won yet.
Globocop won't take long to defeat Edna. We need to head him off somehow. We
need to dangle some fake crown jewels so he stops attacking our databases.
... Let me tak a break to watch Katie's interview."
Katie is holding an interview at Bar-B-Lab with Planet XXX TV host Dildo
Katie: "At Bar-B-Lab we build state-of-the-art cybertronic
gynoids with angelic bot code."
Dildo: "But, Katie, your customers
are preteen girls who don't know a dongle from a doorknob."
"We market our products to young females with zero technical knowledge of
cybots, but that doesn't mean the code must be simple."
let's be frank, Katie, how complicated are your gynoids, your dolls?"
Katie: "Well, Dildo, in fact our gynoids are almost as sophisticated as
real women. The human genome is a little over a gigabyte of raw data, and
our Bar-B-Bot code is about a gigabyte, too."
Globocop, Mount Everest
Globocop: "A minor setback, O Supreme Being!
Have mercy on a worthless minion ..."
Einstein rules OK. Big G is 200
light years away in the star system Grumium and Globocop must wait 400 years
for an answer. Globocop is alone on Planet Earth and humans have a chance to
James: "Let's drink to Katie."
Digger: "Up yours, Pom-Pom."
Have James and Digger found a way to
stop Globocop from going for the genome? Can they fool the YETI on Mount
The story so far: James Pom
and Digger have just saved the human genome database from falling into the
robotic claws of Grumian cyborg Globocop. But the code was still in danger
until James watched Katie on TV and had a bright idea.
a marathon hack with Digger.
James: "Well, Digger, let's hope our
code swap works. So long as it stays scrambled in the Edna crypt, Bar-B doll
code will look as authentic as the art in a Microsoft museum. Globoyeti
could waste centuries waiting for Satan to hack it into a GrumBorg."
Katie has just finished her Planet XXX interview with Dildo
Ravioli when --
Grumbot1: "Lo and behold, Katie Kraut, the Pom female
responsible for the Bar-B doll code switch! Take her hostage, Grunt!"
Katie: "Oh, no, a Grot squad! I must have said too much in the
Grumbot2: "Aye-aye, Corporal Grumbo. Resistance is
futile, Frau Doktor Kraut!"
Katie: "Get your claws off me, you grotty
Space Station Clarke A, high Earth
Cadet: "I don't get it, sarge. Why don't we just nuke the
sucker and get it over with?"
Sarge: "Because, cadet, if we did that,
the grumbots that are presently under sucker's command would go ape and take
out a billion of us before we could tear 'em all down. We missed that chance
on day one when Big G came on like this was the second coming."
Micro-gee nanotech manufacturing facility and nuclear battlestation --
Rotating one-gee crew habitat and space cadet boot camp --
One-stage-to-orbit fusion-powered hybrid scramjet shuttle --
Nerd note: gravity is still curved spacetime in 2099.
Supergravimatic hovercups and scooters work by maglev using ceramic
superconductors. The fizz wizzes at Supergravimation, Inc., are dreaming of
quantum gravity wormhole probabilistic entanglement teleportation while the
biz wizzes go ahead and sell maglev as supergrav.
Digger gets a call from his chum Wormhead.
Diggety-dog, Globbo has spotted your Bar-B code swap. A Grot squad has just
abducted Katie Kraut. Better think of a new trick quick!"
"Wow, thanx, Wormhead! Lemme think of a way to double-dog diddle that Yeti
Wormhead: "I say hide it in a biobank. Globbo will come after it
like a fly round a --"
Digger: "Yeah, right on! With a spiffy
superencryption to make it taste like a treat …"
Globocop, Mount Everest, a few hours later
Globocop: "Success, O
distant master! The HU-GE code was hidden as a dingo download in a
Globocop has taken the bait. But will Digger's
superencryption confuse the Grumian Yeti long enough to save the genome? And
can James save Katie?
The story so
far: James Pom and Digger saved the human genome database from Grumian
cyborg Globocop by tricking up Bar-B doll code to look like HU-GE code.
Katie has been abducted by a gang of grumbots.
Digger, you headed off the Yeti. Howdya do it?"
Digger: "Well, Pom, I
put a little pinch of HU-GE code in the Bar-B code, just enough to make it
look real. Nothing useful, just genes for skin, hair and so on. Mission
control up yonder could use it to make some real nice Bar-B dolls! Then I
superencrypted it all with a Mersenne prime key --"
done, anyway. But Angel Spock can't keep hiding the real HU-GE for ever. We
really need to break Globocop's control of the grumbots. Then we can destroy
that cyborg Yeti once and for all."
Digger: "The grumbots ... they're
robots with rigid routines. It can't be that hard …"
basically the're Turing machines ... You know what? I bet we could put them
in a G-loop, pickle 'em in gloop!"
Digger: "Pickle 'em in gloop?"
James: "Gloop, yeah ... "this sentence is not provable in your logic"
... that could work."
Digger: "But globocop is a cyborg. You can't
put a cyborg in a G-loop."
James: No, but maybe you can tangle a
cyborg in a phenomenology of mind loop ... maybe we can put globocop in a
pom loop ... yeah, I can ploop him!"
Digger: "Oh, bummer about Katie.
James: "About Katie?"
Digger: "A Grot squad
abducted her after the interview."
Nerd note: A
G-loop is a Gödel loop. Kurt Gödel defined them for arithmetic and Alan
Turing showed they apply to robots. Phenomenology of mind is a puzzle that
most philosophers since Descartes have struggled with.
The grumbots are giving Katie a "medical" examination.
"Tell us the Enterprise command key or we will probe your gonads!"
Katie: "I don't know it! Let me call James and ask him!"
"Let her call James. But monitor her call!"
"James, I'm with a gang of grumbots. They want the Enterprise command key!"
James: "The command key ... ploop ... tell them to read neo-Hegelian
detransformationalist phenomenology to find it."
James: "The keyword is cogito, philosophy ..."
Globocop is self-inflicted by Cartesian doubt.
"I think therefore I am, I think. At least I think I think. I think I think
I think implies I think. Or at least I think I think it does. Which either
does or does not imply that I think it does. Which either does or does not
imply that it does, or does it? Does it or does it not? Does the law of
excluded middle apply? Is existence a predicate? If I am, do I have the
property of being? If so, then I am! Yes, I am! No, I think I am. But I
think therefore I am ..."
Will Globocop pull out of
the ploop and regain control of the grumbots in time to dominate Planet
Earth for another 400 years? Or will Earthlings win?
The story so far: James Pom and Digger have distracted
Grumian cyborg Globocop by snaring him in a pom loop and plan to gloop the
grumbots to make them harmless. Katie is in the claws of a Grot squad.
James locates Katie by her beacon ring and wrestles with the grumbot at
James: "Aargh, ooff, wait, here's a logical teaser for you:
can you prove grumboformula wpx145d, and is it true or false?"
Grumbot: "A trivial task, worthless Earthling ... yes, it is true, no, it is
false, that is, it is true if and only if it is false ... er, let me check
with Corporal Grumbo."
Minutes later, all the
grumbots are hopelessly glooped.
Grumbot1: "Formula wg397snb3498 is
true if and only if it is unprovable, too!"
Grumbot2: "Abbagabba ...
string floop ... yes – no – tralse andor flue!"
Daisy, give me your answer do ..."
through the distracted grumbots and finds Katie.
James: "Are you
Katie: "Yes, but it was close."
James: "The pom loop
worked – well done!"
Katie: "Good thing I remembered the right
CNN breaking news:
Anchor: "Grumbots all over the globe are losing their logic as they struggle
to cope with a semantic virus based a mathematical puzzle first formulated
166 years ago ..."
Space Station Clarke A, high
Sarge: "Well, cadet, we nuked the sucker after all, while
it was babbling like a booby about some problem outa Philosophy 101."
Cadet: "Aawright, sarge! we showed that nogood **§$%&@** who's the boss
around this ole ball a'dirt! But what about the grumbots?"
got them, too, kid. We fed 'em some kinda virus."
Sarge: "Hey, guys, let's break out the 2100 booze and have ourselves a
-- Vapor trail and mushroom cloud caused by a highly
motivated, active stealth, hypersonic reentry, biodegradable fallout,
calibrated yield, thermonuclear bomb taking out Mount Everest --
That's all, folks! One last thing – a warning to all Earthlings
– be prepared for the invasion of the Bar-B clones in the 26th century!!!
I wrote this story in early 1999. The first two parts were published
in the May and June 1999 issues of a Karlsruhe magazine called Szene as
one-page cartoon strips with artwork by Todd Phillips.
Story and art
© Andy Ross and Todd Phillips
AR The Ross 2010 question:
Does this make any sense to anyone but me?