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Page 16.
Machine Man (serial)

“One of the problems with legs,” I said, “is they can’t survive on their own. They need to be attached to a body to function. They’re not—”

Lola Banks looked up from fiddling with her access badge, her eyes wide. “Standalone?

“Right.” I realized this was a quip. “Right.”

“I like your thinking, Charlie. I’m just not sure what benefit you get, in a practical sense, from a self-powered leg.”

The elevator doors slid open. My chair-leg rollers clickety-clacked over the uneven exit. “Well, you’re no longer limited by the body’s energy supply.”

“How far down are we?” Lola Banks said, looking around at the steel buttresses that reinforced the walls.

“About a hundred feet. So obviously if you can install a small reactor in the leg, and raise the energy supply from around a kilojoule per second to, say, 4.2 megajoules per second, that increases the functional possibilities.”

“Why are we down a hundred feet?”

“In case something goes wrong.” I swiped my card. The first set of doors to the Glass Room began to depressurize.

“Wait,” said Lola Banks. “Back up. Did you say you reactor?”

“Small. Small reactor. We build those here.”

“What are you doing with a small reactor?”

16.

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Machine Man subscriber Ian Manka (#3916)

Location: Los Angeles, California (school) | Akron, Ohio (home)
Quote: "Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance."
Posted: 4980 days ago

I love the nonchalant-ness of people working at Better Future. "Yeah, we build small reactors, create black holes, you know -- usual futuristic hi-tech company stuff. Did I mention we sponsor a softball team?" (Booya! Callback to page 11!)

Matt (#808)

Location: AZ
Quote: "The only 3 books I've read in the last few years have been from the Barry Collection"
Posted: 4980 days ago

Can't wait to see how this plays out!! It seems like it's the first page where I actually kind of know where the next page might take us. Looking forward to it :)

Machine Man subscriber John (#394)

Location: Work, Maryland, USA
Quote: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes that cigar is ploughing your mother."
Posted: 4980 days ago

Okay, that was a neat page.

I've been keeping up, but basically coasting until today. I like the ridiculous-cyborg possibility that you've created. Although, I kinda hope the science is prevalent throughout. I don't want him to become half cyborg just to end up doing the lawyer he fell in love with and have normal problems. I'd rather see the cyborg leg become sentient and conspire to create it's own black hole, tearing him apart and leaving a crater the size of Dallas underneath the building, into which the building (and a solid 4 or 5 mile radius spread) crumbles.

That would be neat, too.

Machine Man subscriber Shola Gordon (#3902)

Location: London, United Kingdom
Quote: "We are all history's middle children."
Posted: 4980 days ago

I was basically going to say what Ian said. Main thought is it's the best page so far. Made me proper LOL at "Small. Small reactor. We build those here."

Abgrund (#3357)

Location: Atlantis
Quote: ""Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority." - Ayn Rand"
Posted: 4980 days ago

If a reactor that small was possible (it's not), a 4.1 MWe reactor would generate at least 2 MW of waste heat (operating at more than 600 ºC), which would boil about 50 liters a minute of water.

I'm sure you wanted to know that.

Machine Man subscriber John (#394)

Location: Work, Maryland, USA
Quote: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes that cigar is ploughing your mother."
Posted: 4980 days ago

That's the kind of science we need, Abgrund! So not only does he destroy the building and the surrounding district, but he melts himself to boot! Awesome!

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 4980 days ago

Doesn't that depend on what kind of reactor it is, Abgrund? I somehow doubt it's a heat engine; so you may get a better efficiency than 1-minT/maxT.

Machine Man subscriber SilverKnight (#2210)

Location: St. Louis
Posted: 4980 days ago

Am I the only one immature enough to make every other sentence dirty because I Googled Lola Banks?

...hehe, I Googled Lola Banks. :P

I like the pacing. It's fast without feeling rushed, and the balance between exposition and action feels very natural. Keep up the good work, Max!

Chris Makowski (#3926)

Location: Charlotte, NC
Quote: "All morons hate it when you call them a moron. ~J.D. Salinger"
Posted: 4980 days ago

Good science fiction uses the knowledge of today to further a current technology into the realm of imagination. Anything is possible - from a small reactor to immortality. We may not have found the scientific solutions to explain it yet, but that doesn't mean they're not out there waiting to be discovered.

Machine Man subscriber Ben (#3924)

Location: Alberta, Canada
Quote: "I don't wanna ride the elevator."
Posted: 4980 days ago

Subspace. Don't build it here, all good sci-fi fans should realize reactors of any size are only a link to a bigger reactor in subspace where you dont care if it melts half of Canada, its in a different dimension, your melting someone elses Canada.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4980 days ago

@Abgrund: Clearly you don't have access to the kind of heat-control technology we have developed here at Better Future. But when you gain sufficient clearance, I'll be happy to explain how it works.

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 4979 days ago

@Abgrund - it's Mega Joules not Mega Watts - slight scale of difference.

Abgrund (#3357)

Location: Atlantis
Quote: ""Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority." - Ayn Rand"
Posted: 4979 days ago

A Megajoule per second IS a Megawatt, by definition...

@Max: Curses, foiled again! But you'll be glad to know that, under reasonable assumptions concerning drive train efficiency and Charlie's (if that's his name) stature, that leg should enable him to leap about 25 stories (neglecting air resistance and the discomfort of the 150g acceleration).

Engineers are lousy science fiction readers.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4979 days ago

I am coming to you with all my technical questions from now on.

Machine Man subscriber Jason Wallwork (#4608)

Location: Peterborough, ON, Canada
Quote: "Soylent Green is people."
Posted: 4737 days ago

Thought the depleted uranium would come in handy. Looking forward to having some more body parts removed to make room for the reactor.

stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 4265 days ago

Hiya Max -- now you have slave legs - independent in every way - except the executive position - which the master occupies - then you get the "master-slave" relationship - and my today's quote is "cogito ergo sum"

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