The Pulse

Contents, Maps, & Characters

The Pulse is an experimental novel about being, belonging, and the danger of talking to intergalactic strangers. Because it contains multiple narrative threads, is set in different locations, and dips into several genres, I’ve provided brief plot points, maps, and a list of characters.

While the basic structure isn’t likely to change, I’m still writing the second half, which often requires reworking previous chapters.


Part One

(Paris) The Actress - Martine, a Parisienne actress and intellectual, tells her story about ESP to Kenneth, a skeptical lecturer at the Latin Quarter’s Collège de France

(Paris) Equations - Kenneth ponders Martine's story

(Italy) Di Parma - Lucia, an art student in Parma, goes to a cafe on her day off

(Lactar8) On Lactar8 - K, a Lactari astronomer, explores the meaning of two alien images — Lady Madonna - The Cultists of Lacter27

(BC) Dinner Guests from Baulis Prime - Berry wonders what the neighbours would think if they knew he was an alien — Roots - Soil - Light

(BC) On Becoming Human - Berry confesses a soft spot for humans — Mammary Glands - The Infraction

(BC) In the Dark Water: The Subcircadian Homework Blues Matthew stares face to face with an English exam

(BC) In the Dark Water: My Own Personal RheinmaidenMatthew enlists the help of water spirits

(Alberta & Fallar Ultima) Fairy Tales - Antonio, a Fallarian in a human body, plots against his earthly father — Summerland, BC - Natural Selection - The Brothers from Göttingen - Vulcan, Alberta

(Alberta) Quest - Antonio searches for the perfect victim — From One End to the Next - The Green Earth

(The Soul Star) The Hidden Star - astronomers try to pinpoint the Soul Star within the Local Void

(Alberta) Seduction - Antonio uses black magic to entice Beatrice — Vulcan

(Baulis Prime) The Ascendancy of Baulis Prime - the Baulians rise from pink water to create an Empire — Time & Place - The Great Temple - History

(BC) In the Dark Water: J. Alfred & the Weird Sisters - Matthew witnesses a gender battle between his instructor and a rebellious student

(BC) In the Dark Water: The Prophecy of the Völva - Matthew journeys into the misty realms of Norse myth - Northern Versions of Doom - Snorri’s Bath

(Paris) The Academic - Waiting for Martine, Kenneth thinks about Martine

(Baulis Prime) Fractal Masters & Fractal Mystics - Rablanar, a Fractal Mystic on Baulis Prime, considers a frightening possibility

(Paris) Probabilities - Still waiting for Martine, Kenneth thinks about probability

Part Two

(Italy) Di Firenze - Lucia suffers from a rare condition — Ganglia - Fra Sole - Febbre Fiorentina

(Alberta) And Carbunkle His Eyes - Antonio stalks the garden outside of Beatrice’s home — Vulcan

(BC) The Stories They Told Themselves - Berry ponders the solipsistic oddity of the human brain

(NYC) Prophecy 1: The Political Climate - Curtus Rufius watches the political scene from New York — If Winter Comes - Can Spring Be Far Behind?

(Paris) Lestatique - Kenneth mocks Martine's ex by creating an anime Dracula scenario

(Alberta) Mirror, Mirror - Antonio uses a magic mirror to hypnotize Beatrice — Vulcan

(BC & Vicino Lontano) At Sea - Berry ponders religion, unaware of the history of Vicino Prossimo — The Bright Shore - from The Book of Fractals: Ch. 1 - The Religion of Art

(Florida & NYC) Jason & the Diplomat: Part 1 - Remy (a lawyer) and his wife Francine (a French diplomat) take a trip to Florida

(Rome) The Outskirts of Rome - Sandra, a Canadian student, meets a gypsy in Rome — Campo de' Fiori - Le Differenze - The Gypsy - Mei-lin - Zigana

(BC) Still Waters - Berry compares human and Baulian views on outer space

(NYC) Prophecy 2: Fax Americana - Curtus Rufius comments on history and American power

(Alberta) Prester John - Antonio enacts his evil plans, while Beatrice takes advice from Prester John, the town priest — Vulcan

(Rome) Times New Roman - Matthew contemplates the future of writing while on a Roman holiday — Uno - Due - Tre 

(Florida & NYC) Jason & the Diplomat: Part 2 - Francine feels ambivalent about her family

(Paris) Madame Dupont - Madame Dupont, an elderly French widow, returns to the Collège de France

(Alberta) On Becoming Alien - Prester John’s theology resembles science fiction — Vulcan

(Alberta) Güsfreude - Güsfreude gives advice & confronts her destiny — Vulcan - Oneiricana - The Holy Grimmble - Eden Valley

(BC) Virus - Berry reviews the case for not exterminating humans

(Rome) Di Roma - Lucia and her boyfriend stroll into the Pantheon — Avoidance - The Pantheon

(BC) Alien Extraction - Berry feels conflicted about the value of humanity — Virus - Coronary Issues

(NYC) Prophecy 3: The Storm Troopers Return - Conflict brews in the Big Apple

(Paris) All Shook Up - Kenneth botches a lecture at the Collège de France & Alikiko encounters the Devil — On the Podium - Akiko & the Devil - Off the Pedestal

(BC) Total Collapse - Earth gets visitors — Frame by Frame - An Elusive Metaphor

Part Three

(BC) In the New Beginning - Berry starts to live a double life — The Common Good - The 7% Solution

(Paris) Les Mouches - Madame Dupont finds herself on the banks of the Seine — Ultralight Beam - Le Pont Notre-Dame

(BC) En Route to the Old Cafe - Berry contemplates his next move

(Vicino Lontano) The Anunnaki - Lucia and Sandra find themselves far from home — On Vicino Prime - Under the Dome - Connection

(Paris) At First Sight - Madame Dupont walks to Notre-Dame

(BC) Screen Time - Matthew realizes he didn’t have a poetic death after all

(Paris) First Contact - Madame Dupont meets the new master race

(Fallar Ultima) The Condensation of Demon Saints - Farenn gives counsel to the Demon Saints of the Black Horde — The Sacred River - Farenn of Caldemar - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Alive

(BC) Dear Matthew - Matthew receives information about his new life

(The Soul Star) The Soul Star - Madame Dupont goes to a novel reunion — from The Book of Fractals: Ch. 2

(Paris) Au Bord de la Seine - Matthew reads about the design of Paris 2.7

(Vicino Lontano & the Soul Star) The Crazy Diamond - cosmographers speculate on the nature of the Soul Star — from The Book of Fractals: Ch. 2 - A Stellar Debate - from The Book of Fractals: Ch. 2

(Fallar Ultima) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Alive - Farenn gives confusing counsel to the Black Horde

(Alberta & the Soul Star) The Ties That Bind - Güsfreude determines to help Beatrice, who’s trapped in Antonio’s mansion — Güsfreude’s Awakening - Vulcan - The Necrometer

(The Soul Star) The Bind That Flies - Güsfreude ponders the meaning of the afterlife — Beyond Whose Bourn? - From The Book of Fractals: Ch. 3 - Like a Photon

(Rome) In the Field of Flowers - In Rome, Lucia and Sandra take stock of their situation — Introductions - The Convocation of Trunks

(NYC) From the Battery - Remy meets Francine for lunch — Purple Haze - Les Liaisons Bienheureuses

… in progress …


The Cosmos - The Black Pulse Universe - Baulopolis & Baulis Prime - B.C. & Alberta

The Cosmos

In the real world there’s only one universe that we know of, although it has greatly expanded since the discovery of other galaxies a hundred years ago. In The Pulse I assume that just as we eventually found other galaxies, so we’ll eventually find other universes, even clusters of universes.

In The Pulse there are 13 known universes in a 4-dimensional cosmos. It’s not known if this cosmos is the only one that exists, yet there are no indications of any overlapping, alternate, or mirror universes.

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The Purple Pulse and The Black Pulse universes are the most ancient universes and are the furthest apart. They’re also by far the largest universes — each containing 360 trillion galaxies. As such, they determine the largest cosmic binary revolution, indicated by the largest of the broken elliptical lines (the revolutions of the universes are more or less circular, yet I’ve used ellipses to give more horizontal detail to the page). The Purple and Black Pulse universes aren’t rotating around the universes at the centre of this diagram; instead, they’re being held in a mutual binary revolution. The centre of the diagram is the barycentre rather than the gravitational centre. The two original universes are so large and exert so much gravitational pull that they take the other eleven universes with them in their extremely long revolution.

In the novel The Milky Way galaxy is part of the Violet Hoop Universe, which is part of The Great Triangle, along with The Green Buzz and The Orange Hoop universes. The Great Triangle is held in a larger mutual rotation with the three universes to its right — The Crimson Stalk, Ataari Lok, and The Copper Tarn (collectively referred to as The Grey Phantom). All six of these universes, as well as the three above them (Dolcezza) and the two below them (Nebulast) — are within the larger gravitational pulls of The Purple and Black Pulse universes.

The distances between universes are far greater than represented on the map. For instance, The Yellow Sky universe is thousands of times further from The Black Pulse than it is from The Frozen Skiff.

The distances involved in this version of the cosmos are literally and metaphorically astronomical. While we presently understand our known universe to be about 28.5 gigaparsecs in diameter (93 billion light-years), in the novel our universe (The Violet Hoop) is about three times that wide — 85 gigaparsecs (277 billion light-years). (A parsec equals about 3.26 light-years; a light-year equals about 9.46 trillion kilometres).

The Great Triangle is so large that instead of using gigaparsecs (billions of parsecs) it would make more sense to use ‘exaparsecs’ (quintillions of parsecs). Similarly, the distance between the Purple Pulse and the Black Pulse would require the use of ‘yottaparsecs’ (septillions of parsecs). One yottaparsec would equal 10^24 parsecs, that is, 10 to the power of 24 parsecs, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 parsecs, or 3,260,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 light-years. Exaparsecs and yottaparsecs aren’t used in real-world astronomy because there’s nothing that large in the known universe.

The Black Pulse Universe

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Baulopolis & Baulis Prime

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B.C. & Alberta

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The novel is set in 2020; the ages of the characters (in parenthesis) are in 2020.


Kenneth (36) - an Oxford scholar lecturing at the Collège de France in the Latin Quarter

Martine (31) - a doctoral student and ex-actress; going out with Kenneth

Antoine (40) - Martine’s ex, an instructor at the Sorbonne

Madame Dupont (86) - a widow and holocaust survivor; previously married to Conrad

Conrad (d. 2019, at 93) - an English scholar from Oxford; married for 59 years to Madame Dupont

Balazan (533) - a Baulian integration specialist who helps orient Madame Dupont


Lucia (26) - an art student from Parma who moves to Florence and visits Rome

Sandra (21) - a Canadian who studies in Geneva and visits Rome

British Columbia

Berry (28) - a UBC grad student who was born on Earth yet was “infracted’ at age 13 to become a Baulian

Juniper (28) - a UBC grad student

Matthew (23) - a UBC student and aspiring writer

Dr. Rexroth (‘Old Rex’) (65) - an English professor

Sylvia (21) - a UBC student of environmental science

Emily (20) - Sylvia’s friend

Beelzebannur (401) - a Baulian integration specialist who helps orient Matthew


Antonio (64) - a demonic figure from The Black Pulse

Beatrice (18) - the belle of the prairies

Prester John (29) - a priest in the town of Vulcan

Güsfreude (99) - Beatrice’s grandmother, living in Eden Valley

New York

Curtis Rufus (55) - an American historian

Meaghan & Kristy (19 & 20) - students

Remy (45) - a lawyer, married to Francine

Francine (42) - a French diplomat, married to Remy

Jenny & Sam (10 &11) - the children of Remy & Francine


K (d. 2015, at 240) - an elderly Lactari, the first of his species to see evidence of alien life

Glontar (390) - the Lactari rebel who writes stories about alien life forms


Rablanar (520) - a Fractal Mystic who warns the Fractal Masters about their vulnerability

Fallar Prime

Farenn of Caldemar (790) - a philosopher whose counsel is sought by the demon saints of the Black Horde

The Black Horde (ages unknown) - the most powerful beings in the Black Pulse

Vicino Lontano

The Anunnaki (ages unknown) - the most powerful beings in the Purple Pulse

The Soul Star

… in progress …