La Double Inconstance

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by 88 fingers

This is a wildly baroque, science-fictional embellishment of the play with this title, first performed 6 April 1723 by the Comédie Italienne and written by Marivaux ( A book of 19,000 words, 31 chapters. The setting is a space mission dispatched to deal with a poorly-understood threat. Our hero is an astronaut, a former combat helicopter pilot. There are missiles, synthetic people and flawed AIs. And relationships. I plan to publish three chapters a week: M, W, F. Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

Table of Contents

A Tuesday in early March

It’s ten past six: the dawn air is freezing as we wait for the shuttle bus. Overhead, silvery clouds are scudding east to west, riding ... Read Chapter

Tania Milet

Tania is from the Bundeswehr special forces, the Kommando Spezialkräfte modelled, they say, after the Israeli counter-terror group (this... Read Chapter

Tuesday: Dropshaft

Schlierkamp is talking for our benefit (his staff are regulars for today's exercise). He clears his throat and I poke Tania in the ribs w... Read Chapter

“It’ll be a bitch”

The mother-ship comes with two combat-modules. Imagine a ‘T’ shape. In interplanetary cruise the vertical stroke represents the main ... Read Chapter

Tuesday: zero-g

I’m starting to get relaxed and dreamy when suddenly the klaxon sounds: “High gee, high gee in nine seconds. Counting nine ...” ... Read Chapter

Tuesday evening: Anna de Kasparis

Dr Anna de Kasparis’s office is on the fourth floor of the ESA administrative building, 400 metres and two blocks away from the dormito... Read Chapter

Tuesday evening: Meeting Sylvia

Anna nods, easing the flow of reminiscences. “I understand: fast women, OK for girlfriends, not so great for wives. So what happene... Read Chapter

Tuesday evening: An offer

Anna is now brisk, moves it on. “This is a lengthy mission, more than half a year each way in a relatively small module. You’ll b... Read Chapter

Tuesday evening: ‘this is home’

From the psychologist’s office André takes the lift to the ground floor and exits to the plaza. He walks across to the engineering fac... Read Chapter


Report retrieved from ESA archive. Programme Tartarus: [ESA Top Secret; NATO Cosmic Secret]. --- Agence Spatiale Européenne:... Read Chapter

Thursday morning: Sylvia Antoine (neé Jouvet)

Sylvia Antoine (neé Jouvet) is a good Catholic. She is observant. She attends Mass regularly at Saint-Martin de Lognes. She respects the... Read Chapter

A meeting of minds of a sort

In a comfy alcove, in boho tufted armchairs around a battered antique table, they sup coffee and munch at croissants. Sylvia talks about ... Read Chapter

Mission Review (excerpt)

[Chair]: “Standardization of terms: the crater containing the anomaly will be termed the target; the entity or entities associated with... Read Chapter

Thursday evening: Sylvia-X

Sylvia was in a state. It had taken her hours to get back home from central Paris - the trains had been crowded. And she had kept going o... Read Chapter

Transit Phase: +2 months

The mission clock is running. We have been in space now for two months. The days blend together. We get up and breakfast. We deal with ou... Read Chapter

The Priest

The Eglise catholique Saint-Martin de Lognes is a grey stone structure standing in a cobble-stoned plaza of Marne-la-Vallée old town. Th... Read Chapter

Approach Phase: (Sylvia-X; Flaminia)

One way light delay is now eleven minutes. We are effectively on our own. Tania and I have settled into our little routines and rarely su... Read Chapter

Approach Phase: (Tania; Flaminia)

We’re strapped into our acceleration couches. I’m completely relaxed, lying on the most comfy, supportive gel bed you can possibly im... Read Chapter

Approach Phase: (Flaminia)

Flaminia has taken to joining us, extending her range beyond Tania's bedroom. She's quite the conversationalist. Here’s a flavour as we... Read Chapter

Approach Phase: (Sylvia and Flaminia)

It’s been a long day today. We’re just a few days from engagement, slowly catching up to Mars in its orbit. Sylvia lies next to me in... Read Chapter

Approach Phase: (Flaminia's joke)

In the gym she appears before me. I'm wrestling with the resistance band machine: it's like trying to master an anaconda. Nevertheless, m... Read Chapter

Back at Marne-la-Vallée

Sylvia pushes the stroller along the smoothly-surfaced pavement, taking her child for some fresh air to the town square. Marne-la-Vallée... Read Chapter

Approach Phase: (Flaminia’s opinion)

Flaminia and I sit companionably in the lounge. I’ve just finished up with Tania - another of the endless exercises (she has vanished i... Read Chapter

Engagement: first reconnaissance

The plan is the one we have rehearsed the most. The module is now stationed at Mars-Phobos L3. The bulk of the planet lies between us and... Read Chapter

Engagement: impasse

We are at an impasse. We loiter on station, always with Mars between ourselves and that little crater on Phobos. Our alert status is low.... Read Chapter

Engagement: messages

Flaminia joins us on the net, “The module has received a message from the Adversary,” she says, “It’s a diagram showing the Mars-... Read Chapter

Engagement: the Audit Core

The engineers who designed the module were occupationally paranoid, as all weapons systems designers have to be. Few assumptions survive ... Read Chapter

‘Secure for ultra-high acceleration’

Three milliseconds had passed since the module detected the first nuclear missile destruction event. The audit-core determined that the s... Read Chapter

Escape: Words That Soothe

Between sleep and wakefulness there is a cosy liminal state: babylike, calm and peacefuI. I do not know who I am nor where I ex... Read Chapter

A Summer Day in the Park

It’s July in Marne-la-Vallée, a sweltering Saturday afternoon in the park. Sylvia and Richard walk hand-in-hand towards the ... Read Chapter

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Recent Comments


For those non-French speaking among us (me included) but pretty sure there's a spoiler alert here -

Thu, March 25th, 2021 10:59pm


Yes, you're there. It'll be heavily disguised for a while.

Fri, March 26th, 2021 2:40am

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