I've made what I hope is some kind of breakthrough with the plot outline. Primarily, I wanted to find some way to prevent McCowan from hearing what the other biotech-enhanced hear. If he'd been able to hear what they heard, he'd have solved the mystery of where they were all disappearing off to and the book wouldn't have been. So I needed a way to keep him in the dark, and I figured some kind of drug that acts like a block. Except I couldn't figure out just why he'd take it.

Then I came up with the idea of the drug containing nano-level machine viruses that effectively reprogram his internal biotech, a kind of 'trojan horse' that gets inside him and invades. The drug is supplied by Gallmon, and it allows Draeger (for whom Gallmon is working) to make the connection between the biotechs and the Scattered Minds. It also, assuming Gallmon supplies samples of the drug to Sieracki (for whom Gallmon is also working), allows Sieracki to become aware of certain things concerning both the biotechs and the Scattered Minds; and may even be the initial impetus for Sieracki and his people to launch an attack on the Scattered Minds, once they realise Draeger has good reason to believe the Scattered Minds have developed zero point field technology.

On other things: sometimes I think I forget more than I even knew in the first place. I know a lot of people do searches on their own name on Google, but I don't, unless a friend comes round and decides to show me how high his own name ranks. So naturally, by way of experimentation I give it a go, and to no surprise I turn up on various bibliographies and records of short story publications over the past ten years or so.

What I didn't expect was to find my name listed as being amongst a million others inscribed on one of two microchips mounted inside a space probe called Stardust, launched in 1999 with the intention of sampling tail gases from a comet called Wild 2; the probe is expected to intercept the comet in 2004.

So I sat there gaping, thinking when the hell did that happen? Then I remembered. It had been when I'd been working for an environmental and green issues news and information agency back in the mid-nineties. I'd just started using the net (at work) and signed my name up because I thought it sounded cool. I had completely forgotten, until now, like Proust being driven to recall deep-seated memories buried in the unconscious when he scents some food that has strong associative properties for him. It all sprang back, that and a few other things.

So I go to bed and tell my girlfriend my name is stored on a starprobe, and she spends the next fifteen minutes giggling so hard she almost chokes herself. I think, perhaps, she wasn't so impressed.

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