I Heard it Through the Grapevine. Thank you, Marvin.

The title of this post might confuse you, what does a 1960s soul classic have to do with Sci-fi? Read on and all will be revealed.

It concerns that bane of my life, the new idea. With so much half-finished work, the last thing I needed was another new idea. But, as I’ve said before, I’m not in control of these things.

Here we go with a little background.

I remember when I was at sea in the 1970s and 80s. That was well before the days of satellite communications, when you were out of sight of land and V.H.F. range, all messages had to be passed through the ship’s radio officer.

To ensure security and confidence in secrecy, they were bound by law not to divulge the contents of messages given to them for transmission or received on behalf of the ship’s crew. There was a large notice posted on the radio room bulkhead that warned of severe consequences for failure to preserve this requirement.

Keep that in mind for a moment.

In my story Jungle Green, I devised an instantaneous galactic communications network, based on the principle of Quantum Entanglement. Like a lot of the science that I find a use for, theoretically it might work in the way I have described it. There’s no real way of knowing, but it was based on a known scientific principle and that’s the important thing. Because everything I write has to sound real and be based on hard facts.

Anyhow, I called it the Q-com and had relay stations scattered across the inhabited galaxy keeping everywhere connected.

In Jungle Green, I never gave much more detail about the Q-com other than the fact that it used Quantum Entanglement and that it worked instantly, just like a phone call does now. I had plans to use it again in the next Balcom story, The Circle has no End, which is one of my works in progress but recently, on a long journey, I heard a song on the car radio and my mind did some quick gymnastics.

The song was “I heard it through the Grapevine.”

In my mind, I could hear it as “I heard it on the Q-com.” Don’t ask me why, it’s just how my brain is wired. Then things got a little more convoluted as I worked out just what it was that you might have heard.

Returning to the secrecy aspect of communications.

In the future, when messages can be passed between planets by my Q-com (other systems may well be available), presumably the same legal obligation would still be in force.

What if the future equivalent of a radio operator heard something that he should have kept secret; until he discovered the moral responsibilities and potential consequences of having that knowledge?

The fate of worlds, not to mention his own safety, could well be at risk.

Should he do what’s right, more importantly, what is right?

Before I knew it, I had another story to get my teeth into.

As usual, I designed a book cover, just a rough idea to focus my mind on the concept.

Now I just have to wait for more details, from those who choose to tell me.

What do you think?

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