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Flack
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Re: Review: In the Matter of: The Gatekeeper: The Gate Contracts

Post by Flack »

Tdarcos wrote: Tue Dec 08, 2020 4:04 am The First Book I wrote is one that I don't talk about much, In the Matter of: The Gatekeeper: The Gate Contracts, is the story of George Green, a 22-year-old confused college student who has issues because of his being overweight. He is taking a class in Analytical Symbolics, an advanced math course which (although I don't say it in the book) is a thinly-disguised metaphor for programming. George explains that AnSym (the short name for the subject) is mathematics with built-in checks.

A formula is built out of "bridges" which are constructed out of "translations:" simple formulas. Once you construct a problem using Analytical Symbolics, and simplify the bridges and translations, you get the result. The result must then be correct, or it won't "balance," the rules won't allow it. One example he gives is that if you multiply any number by 9, the digit sum of the result must equal 9. While doing so does not necessarily mean your answer is right (multiplying 9x21 giving 198 does give a number summing to 9 but the result is incorrect) but if it doesn't add up to 9, it is guaranteed to be wrong.

Analytical Symbolics is hard, like advanced calculus. It is hard enough that the problems assigned require at least two, and often three people to solve. In one instance, he has a really bright partner, named "Speedy," named because of his speed in solving problems, who is actually bright them alone, and George actually slows him down. Then George is partnered with a lady named Sonya, whom he discovers is so far behind in her knowledge of the subject that she shouldn't even be in the class. Talking about it with his professor, George discovers he's not the only one who has problems with her. George gets the bright idea to talk Speedy into pairing with Sonya, and the instructor allows George to team up with another two students who were even further behind than he was.

George is paired with Lynn for the next assignment, a lady for whom he has feelings, which bothers him, because of his "secret," which, although he doesn't say, implies that he is gay. George and Lynn complete the assignment quickly, and work together so well, that they decide to pair together for the next assignment, which is so complicated, it has to be done in three part over about a months. They get the first part done in a week, and the second a few days later. This seems fast, but the equations all balance, which means it must be right.

When they come back to class, the instructor is discussing the first, early part of the project, which seems odd. At the end of class, the instructor calls out to the two of them to come see him after lunch, which usually means they've had a problem with their assignment. They arrange to meet at his office, he tells another instructor that he will miss part of the class, and takes lunch early; when he arrives outside the closed office. Lynn is there, so nervous she couldn't eat lunch. Their instructor, Mr. Allen, goes into his office, gets an envelope, and asks them to come with him, as he escorts them to the dean's office. Three older men are there, one of whom George recognizes is Mr. Wilson, head of the Math Department, and Mr. Allen's boss. Mr.Allen wants George and Lynn to explain how they got the result of the assignment, because there is a problem in how they answered. George suspects they've done something considered impossible: they got a wrong answer where the formula balanced.

What he discovered is, they did the entire month's assignment in one week, then accidentally did the following assignment, which should take two weeks, in only a few days. At one point, the dean flatly says two medium-high (B+ to A-) students couldn't do the work this fast, and he wants to know who gave them the answers. George realizes the awful truth: the issue with their assignment isn't that it's too bad, it's that it's too good, and this "meeting" is actually a formal expulsion hearing for suspicion of plagiarism or cheating.

George blows his stack, as he knows he's innocent, and as a result the dean suggests they do a few problems in front of them, and George and Lynn agree. George finds out that the two men watching this are the Head of Analytical Symbolics at the state university, and the #1 expert on the subject, Dr. Hugo Sign. After seeing copies of their work, everyone suspected the two of them were fronting for a scientist who wanted to expose some theories of their own.

George and Lynn do all the offered problems, and additional tests are performed, whereupon the letter Mr. Allen brought with him is opened and read, in which it is admitted that the whole hearing was a ruse to get them to demonstrate what they are capable of, and to confirm a suspicion, since they are not known for having such amazing capability - they had turned in an assignment before Speedy did, which is considered almost impossible - that the men suspect the reason is some form of ESP, such as telepathy or receiving information from the universe. The testing was done as an expulsion hearing because the normal rules do not allow an outside observer to watch students proving how they did their work, that can only be done during an expulsion hearing.

Dr. Sign wants to invite George and Lynn to lunch and then invite out to his University for two weeks of testing, paying them $1,000 a week plus expenses, with a $3,000 bonus for completing the testing. They agree, of course. While George is leaving the dean's office after telling him, he's able to overhear the dean dictating a letter to the registrar, a close friend, about how he expects after Dr. Sign gets his clutches into George and Lynn, they will dropout and go to Dr. Sign's university, and that they have had dealings with Dr. Sign before, who is considered almost omnipotent.

Even more confused, George goes to see Dr. Wilson to let him know he agreed to accept Dr. Sign's offer and will need a leave of absence. Dr. Wilson congratulates him, telling him how they'll have a wonderful time, will like it so much they won't come back, and it doesn't matter what George and Lynn think, they will take Dr. Sign's offer because Sign will make it impossible to refuse. George has some suspicions, and discovered that Dr. Sign, who is currently 83 years old, had been a student there about 10 years earlier, and had blackmailed Dr. Wilson to let him have late admission to Mr. Allen's class, because he promised to do something amazing. He did, but it is so complicated that nobody else can figure out what it is, and Mr. Wilson is scared of what Dr. Sign could do, as he has mentioned some really bad things in an article he wrote. But George and Lynn would not be in danger going to test for Dr. Sign."It's everyone else I'm worried about."

Now George is even more confused. Dr Wilson suggests George go see Mr. Allen during his free period. He does, and Mr. Allen confirms some of what Dr. Wilson says, but offers an explanation. What Dr. Sign knows could be very powerful, and he only wants people who are not tempted to use that knowledge irresponsibly. This makes George feel better, as he was afraid Dr. Sign might try to hurt them, and he also confirms that wouldn't happen, but if George is worried, he can go see Dr. Sign (under the terms of the contract) and tell him he changed his mind. But he decides that won't be necessary, they're going.

They fly in to Chevy Chase County where Dr. Sign's university is located, and on Monday, they arrive to take tests. They split for separate lunches, where George meets Dr. Michaels, who works in Parapsychology. George almost tells him about what they are doing, then remembers there is a secrecy clause in his contract with Dr. Sign. He tries a distraction,then leave sand goes back to testing. Later, someone barges in to see Dr. sign, very upset. It turns out it is Dr. Quarles, head of parapsychology, who is upset Sign didn't inform him that he is doing Parapsychology studies. Dr. Sign is curious how Dr. Quarles found out, because of Quarles' attitude, he was going to tell him about George and Lynn, but not until the last few days of the test. George realizes it happened because he shot his mouth off to Dr. Michaels, and it shows enough that Dr. Sign spots it. Dr. Sign has a discussion with George and Lynn about how George needs to learn that he made a mistake and how to fix it. They agree to extend the contract by another week.

The next day George is in the cafeteria and runs in to Dr. Michaels, and isn't happy about it. George tells him to go see Dr. Sign if he doesn't know why George is upset. He leaves, and when George goes back to work, Dr. Sign is meeting with Dr. Michaels. It turns out it was a misunderstanding, Dr. Michaels didn't realize George would get into trouble or he'd never have said anything to Quarles. George gets over his mad and becomes friends with Dr. Michaels again

The next day, while doing tests, the Chancellor of the university calls, and Dr. Sign has George and Lynn be witnesses. The Chancellor gets Dr. Sign to allow Dr. Quarles to have George and Lynn for the remaining three days of the week, but at what it costs Dr. Sign, which is about $800 a day. Hilarity ensues as George and Lynn discover Dr. Quarles bad reputation is well deserved, at one point a fight between Dr. Quarles and George almost breaks out, until stopped by Quarles' assistant Dr. Michaels. George and Lynn run off and go back to their hotel, where Lynn gets so excited she propositions George, then discovers his secret. George isn't gay, he's a virgin. George has the most powerful experience of his life as they make love.

The remaining two weeks involve more tests, Dr. Sign having a heart attack, George getting pulled over by a police officer for making an illegal U-turn, and instead of a ticket, hears a story about how Dr. Sign did something that helped the officer's wife, and also saved his life. George and Lynn's torrid romance become public knowledge when Lynn pulls a stunt on George, and the resulting response by Dr. Sign is too much to believe. George also gets to meet the real Tansin A. Darcos, an Arizona businessman and close friend of Dr. Sign. George also gets to learn Dr. Sign's big secret, "Who is Al Johnson?"

The book can be found here (in PDF format for free).
How fast was he driving when he did the U-turn?
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The Happiness Engine
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Re: books?

Post by The Happiness Engine »

Is there any lunch George WOULD miss?!

(Also, contracts.)

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Re: books?

Post by AArdvark »

Now reading Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. Anyone else ever read any of his stuff? Actually, I'm re-reading it because it's a Christmas story, sort of.. Death has taken over the duties of the Hogfather and there's this assassin that's plotting to kill him and Death's granddaughter is having some issues and..well, it's Terry Prachett at his best.

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Re: books?

Post by RealNC »

Pratchett is on my to-read list. Once I get past my current sci-fi addiction :-P

I finished Blindsight. It kinda feels like something Robb would have come up with:
It's been two months since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since - until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who to send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn't want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder, and a biologist so spliced to machinery he can't feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior, and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust such freaks and monsters with the fate of a world.
Yes, it's hard sci-fi with freakin' vampires in it. In fact, the captain of the mission is a vampire.And it's amazing. Everybody should read it.

Also, there's a short film kind of thing about this novel. Contains minor spoilers:



Why hasn't this novel been made into a movie yet? It should. Hollywood should stop putting out all that crap they've been doing and make this movie. Or a series, that's fine too.

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Re: books?

Post by AArdvark »

Skimmed through Mugging The Muse by Holly ...somebody. Its a book on how to write for profit and become a professional writer. I tell you this right now people, I am never going to become a professional writer. It's hard enough to grind out a silly short story without having to worry or even think about having an editor. Or a deadline. Or writing about life experiences. I write to amuse myself and that's about it. I wouldn't want to be defined by it.

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Re: Review: In the Matter of: The Gatekeeper: The Gate Contracts

Post by Tdarcos »

Flack wrote: Tue Dec 08, 2020 4:45 am
Tdarcos wrote: Tue Dec 08, 2020 4:04 am The remaining two weeks involve more tests, Dr. Sign having a heart attack, George getting pulled over by a police officer for making an illegal U-turn, and instead of a ticket, hears a story about how Dr. Sign did something that helped the officer's wife, and also saved his life.
How fast was he driving when he did the U-turn?
At the time George was in a hurry, so maybe 10-15 MPH instead of the usual 5 or turning out from a full stop. He didn't get pulled over because of the speed, but because he made the turn at a place where U-turns are not allowed.
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Re: books?

Post by AArdvark »

Has anyone ever read any Doc Savage? I ask because I am almost done with a horrible story that was published in 1933. I'm thinking of a sort of blog post here with actual parts from the story. It's that bad. I thought the Shadow novels by Walter Gibson were total pulp but these are worse by far, no wonder grandparents were so messed up if this is what they had to read growing up. Maybe I will.....improve it eventually, now that I'm done with Miss Marble.

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Re: books?

Post by Jizaboz »

AArdvark wrote: Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:46 pm Has anyone ever read any Doc Savage? I ask because I am almost done with a horrible story that was published in 1933. I'm thinking of a sort of blog post here with actual parts from the story. It's that bad. I thought the Shadow novels by Walter Gibson were total pulp but these are worse by far, no wonder grandparents were so messed up if this is what they had to read growing up. Maybe I will.....improve it eventually, now that I'm done with Miss Marble.

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Yup! I read a few Doc Savage novels as a kid. I recall really liking Docs character and his buddy that mumbles but I also recall the stories getting so scattered, boring, or both that I would have to put it down.

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Tdarcos
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Re: books?

Post by Tdarcos »

AArdvark wrote: Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:46 pm Has anyone ever read any Doc Savage? I ask because I am almost done with a horrible story that was published in 1933. I'm thinking of a sort of blog post here with actual parts from the story. It's that bad.
If byou think that's bad, you should read Dahlgren by Samuel Delany. It's the sort of book you say, "I can't believe this piece of shit was released by a reputable publisher, as opposed to being SELF PUBLISHED ON A MIMEOGRAPH,"and almost won some awards. I love science fiction, yet I was only able to read about 40 pages of this dreck. I haven't read it in 30 years, but it was that bad I remember it. I only read it because I was stuck at the CSULB library overnight (the library was open to students and visitors 24/7) and saw it on the Science Fiction shelf. I remember reading a comment in a science fiction magazine by its editor about how bad Dahlgren was. He was right. Get this: the top-ranked comment about the book oj Amazon states the person hated it. Let me tell you, L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth is a much better book than Dahlgren. Hell, a book of literal shit thrown at it by monkeys would be a better book than Dahlgren.
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Re: books?

Post by AArdvark »

Oh God no, I'm having enough trouble with Doc Savage to take on more ghar-bajj. Maybe I should go back to the rest of the Terry Pratchetts I haven't read.

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Re: books?

Post by AArdvark »

Now reading Truckers by Terry Pratchett. The story of Nomes living in a department store.
Had to take a break from the last couple chapters of Gaylord Armpants.

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Re: books?

Post by odyssia76 »

I liked the historical fiction book The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead... just like the real one but with an actual literal underground railroad!
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Re: books?

Post by odyssia76 »

Tdarcos wrote: Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:47 pm If byou think that's bad, you should read Dahlgren by Samuel Delany. It's the sort of book you say, "I can't believe this piece of shit was released by a reputable publisher, as opposed to being SELF PUBLISHED ON A MIMEOGRAPH,"and almost won some awards. I love science fiction, yet I was only able to read about 40 pages of this dreck. I haven't read it in 30 years, but it was that bad I remember it.
I had an uncle who wrote a piece of alleged science fiction that was that bad. It was not literally mimeographed but self printed so almost that bad. It was gawdawful but I had to read the whole thing so I could tell him I did and pretend to have liked it. Nice guy, absurdly bad writer. Huge plot holes and inconsistencies and open questions and crappy characters.... he wrote a column in the local newspaper and should have stuck to that. He died. I bet he died with a garageful of unsold boxes of the book, poor guy.
128 char limit on sigs? Srsly? SO lame.

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