10
$\begingroup$

In one of the stories I'm writing, I have a character that falls from our world into another, far less advanced one, and brings his smartphone with him (along with a few other things, but they aren't important). Now, due to a magical artifact he finds in the region he ends up in, his smartphone is constantly charged, and has an internet connection through which he can view a static image of everything available on the internet at the time he left (no posting on forums or watching livestreams, but reading old blog posts/info sites/SE questions and watching videos that aren't live still works).

Now, the battery I can explain away fairly easily with magic involved, but the DNS system and others that make up internet connections aren't as simple (there's a reason it's called a net, after all). I could just say, "It's magic," and leave it at that, but I'm not the kind of writer to toss out internal consistency; and, frankly, the restrictions inherent in a logical explanation will most likely make for interesting plot points. So, without unduly stretching suspension of disbelief, what is the most logical way that magic could get around the handshaking and delays inherent in the internet system, and provide a static representation of the internet at a single point in time that is otherwise indistinguishable from how our internet appears here?

EDIT Section! Yay! There are a few things I need to clarify here, so I'll make a list:

  • The MC isn't Batman-level prepared; he's just a prospective author who likes researching his stories. That makes the magically-boosted cache answer more plausible, but still tricky to pull off. Also, as a semi-techy person myself, code is hard. Just tossing in that "one super-techy friend" would strain the boundaries of plausibility, even if only for me, and when the author doesn't believe in their own story there's a problem.
  • He wasn't summoned back by a spell or anything; his arrival was entirely unplanned. The general background plot I'm working with is that the ever-branching, butterfly-effect tree of chaos theory is an actual tree, and every once in a blue moon or five, someone falls down the branches.
  • The world he ends up in is mostly non-magical; except for a little divine tomfoolery, there are no spells or enchantments to work with. The artifact he finds, however, is an example of said divine tomfoolery, but I still want it to be internally consistent.
  • The idea of "Help, I'm trapped in a parallel universe" is fine and all, and I'll keep the idea in mind for later stories, but it simply won't work here; the plot of the story is much longer-term than that idea would allow. Also, the parallel-ness of the universe is slightly questionable; it diverged from ours a lot further back than most parallel universes.

Thanks for all the answers so far, though. I'll refrain from accepting an answer yet; the situation I'm working with is a lot more specific than my original question stated, and I don't want to accept an answer that fits my scenario over a better answer that's slightly too far from what I'm doing (but might work for others).

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Would you be happy with a fraction of the whole Internet? Maybe a mobile cell with a big cache fell through the same hole. $\endgroup$ – Diego Sánchez Aug 6 '16 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Diego Sánchez: The items he brought with him were the contents of a duffel bag carried on his person, and saying that some portion of the internet was brought with him would raise the question of who put it there (he certainly wouldn't have; he's not Batman-level prepared), and why. $\endgroup$ – Lepidolite Mica Aug 6 '16 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ If everything is static, why does it have to be connected to the internet? Make it a computer/laptop with a number of external drives that contain all the information your story needs. $\endgroup$ – Hackworth Aug 7 '16 at 1:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For the record, technically you can't view the Internet in "read only" mode without affecting the servers. When you request a static web page, a server processes this request - it searches through its files, writes logs, statistics, etc. $\endgroup$ – enkryptor Aug 8 '16 at 13:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @frodoskywalker: In that case, a better one could be the Web Archive, but I wonder how massive it is. $\endgroup$ – DrakaSAN Oct 14 '16 at 16:10

12 Answers 12

6
$\begingroup$

How about this:

The magical artifact he found is one that was created by a god ("divine tomfoolery" and all that) who values knowledge and embodies curiosity. That god, absolutely horrified by a book-burning cult, created this artifact with the purpose of protecting any repository of knowledge (he meant mostly books, but wanted to keep the wording open-ended in case the people of his world might invent other methods of storing knowledge) from becoming unuseable.

So when this semi-sentient divine artifact sensed the smartphone within its mystical range, it identified it as an interface to a HUGE repository of knowledge - and noticed that its useability was threatened by the rapidly closing dimensional hole, which would cut off wireless internet access in mere seconds! Working quickly, the artifact downloaded all the sweet, valuable knowledge into itself, magicked the battery (which would've threatened the useability of the knowledge repository in mere hours otherwise!) to last indefinitely, and is now constantly listening for requests to access the knowledge normally available to this fantastic device, ready to answer as the smartphone expects so it will remain useable as per the artifact's divine imperative.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Alright, looks like there's been a good long time window for new answers, so I'm gonna go ahead and accept this one, as it's already been fleshed out inside my head. The effects of a divine knowledge repository getting a hold on Siri, or equivalent app, is quite frankly hilarious. $\endgroup$ – Lepidolite Mica Nov 8 '16 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ I love the idea of a priesthood built around this well understood divine repository suddenly freaking out when presented with a Cortana (Halo) like interface that appears after it sucks in all this extra knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Jontia Jul 6 '18 at 13:08
5
$\begingroup$

MAGIC COMBINED WITH NEXT-LEVEL TECH It's time-based magic, pure and simple. It's not that it's kept charged by magic, it's that it's stuck in a few minutes of time, so the battery never runs out and it can still connect to the internet, as it was. But I would add something to make it plausible. NEW TECH.

The problem is that phones today don't store the internet. If so, what the heck is it connecting to? Enter the Ghost Drive. That's just a name I came up with that I would use to handwave it all over the place.

What I would do is this--combine new tech with it. A friend has been fiddling with his/her phone and they are super techy. They're into some next level stuff. They've been messing with your main character's phone and computer because they simply can't resist. The MC doesn't understand what's been done, but somehow, the combination of this new chip or software and this magic has produced this result. Basically, they don't have to be prepared, they just have to have a reason to be carrying an experimental phone that does things a little differently. Reasons can include: they've been paid to beta test this new tech, a relative works at the company and gave it to them, or the aforementioned tech friend has messed with their phone.

Have a little fun. Make it buggy. There should be problems with it even before they fall in the hole. If your character isn't techy, they can hang a lampshade on it because they don't understand why it works either.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

I would say casting a wisdom buff on the phone could result it caching the best source of information available to that device quite similar to the effect it would have on a human. This effect would be the cache of google. When you perform a search on google, you could see text and images on a webpage from the google's internal cache. Obviously if you are checking cached page, you will not be able to interact with the website but the links are still navigable within the cache and it won't be updated. Similarly, this magic boosts the storage of the device and modifies it so that it would retrieve cached copies of websites.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

You might get away with a fairly large section of the internet, not the whole thing, by combining a couple things. I liked Diego Sanchez's comment about a phone with a really big cache, but if you're pulling magic into it anyway, maybe you can remove the question of "who put [the internet] there"

So, what the magic device actually is supposed to do, in this theory, is massively improve someone's memory (and sorta handwave support the secondary processes this improvement will need). It gets used on the phone, and the phone suddenly has a great memory - an unnaturally great memory, which manifests in the form of an infinite endless cache, of everything the phone has ever seen... including recovered, previously deleted information. Sure, the phone doesn't usually store that information for very long if at all - but if this is the equivalent of giving a person a photographic memory (that would let someone remember things they didn't even notice at the time and therefore really should have forgotten), then anything the phone ever loaded, or pre-loaded, might be fair game. So the phone doesn't actually have to have an internet connection, it just lets your person travel pages it already 'knows'.

The ever-full battery, is therefore not a primary happening, but the actual implication of the "sorta-handwaving equivalent of support" for the much-advanced memory. The brain takes up a lot of energy, suddenly improving its processing and memory will take up a lot of energy as well - so the device "handwaves" away the extra energy requirement by supplying the difference. In a small, simpler-than-a-human-brain phone, that's enough energy to keep the phone charged (though you could still have it get low on energy after continual use and need to recharge, just more like 'resting' than plugging in).

At this point, you have access to anything your person might have ever looked up - including all of their favorite sites, watched videos, and previous searches. You can broaden the base by having this person randomly browse sites when bored, do a lot of internet searches on random subjects - perhaps in service of a hobby, like SE, or the sometimes-strange questions that come up in conversations, or offer his phone to friends/family to look stuff up on (who might have any/all of the previous habits), if you want him to have access to pages he hasn't actually seen before.

You can end up with a good chunk available pages on his phone this way, especially if you add a couple things. Maybe the phone has a good buffer system (or whatever it's called), where it pre-loads all the links on a page being viewed, so that it loads faster if/when its user clicks them. Maybe the magic will let that go just a bit further, and load pages two links deep, or three. So viewing even a few pages with lots of links add a lot of previously unseen pages to the question, and a lot of pages have a few unrelated links, like ads or search engines. Very few trips to wikipedia would still net a pretty wide selection of articles, since they're pretty deeply interlinked. Having a website with lots of articles, or a search engine (like yahoo, google, whatever) as a homepage would give a really big cross section of internet-availability, even if your person rarely took time to read any of them.

So, instead of a "static view" of everything the internet had at one point in time, it would probably end up something more like a limited version of the internet archive wayback machine - multiple copies of some webpages, depending on when they were accessed, and gaps where other pages just hadn't been accessed and saved. The problem would be finding the pages, since search engines actually generate pages of results, which your person's phone doesn't have the framework to do... perhaps any "search engine" page will use a global search of the stored webpages instead, or even of the phone instead, or perhaps the search engine webpages will not work, but the phone internal search will have to substitute - then the trick will be to narrow results back down to something reasonable. Or perhaps the magic also enhances the phone's ability to figure out what your person is looking for, and generate searches and results that way, since the magic was supposed to enhance the mind and recall in the first place.

And this would take very little handwaving on the technical side, assuming a more or less normal phone. If you wanted to push the phone's capabilities a little, you could add Erin Thursby's suggestion of new phone tech, either a prototype or someone's experiment (or, really, just the latest release which is a bit further along in your person's world), to give the phone modestly greater abilities, which the magic will of course magnify all out of proportion. Maybe a bigger selection of pre-downloading pages, or a smarter user interface (like a siri or cortana or whatever, oh dear that might be explosive).

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

I'd like to propose a slight modification of @Separatrix's answer:

The phone could be stuck in a time loop, endlessly repeating the period of a few minutes before it changed worlds.

-The battery discharges during the period of the loop, but then resets to it's starting charge once the period is over.

-The phone still has internet connection because it can talk to the DNS servers and the rest of the internet in the time while it was still in our world. Any messages sent, forum posts, etc. will get reset along with the rest of the phone once the loop period ends, giving an almost static image of the internet.

-The con is that for self-consistency the screen and the internal memory of the phone will have to reset at the end of each loop period too. MC won't be able to watch long youtube videos.

For style points, whatever is causing the time loop could only cover parts of the phone (leading to dead keys, malfunctioning microphone) or extend slightly beyond the phone (tingling sensation when touching the phone).

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

The static image of the entire Internet is harder to rationalise than full access. You can have some essentially magical explanation for access, such as a spirit of communication which can access the smartphone's homeworld now that it has something from there. Indeed, you have to have a magical explanation, unless you're going to start claiming that radio leaks between worlds, and that would have been noticed in studies of radio interference and the like. A spirit possessing a smartphone has lots of potential for mischief: the Discworld's Dis-Organisers, and David Wake's novel I, Phone are good sources of ideas.

But the static image of the internet requires, not just storing the entire current content, which is a ludicrously large amount of data, but also reproducing the on-the-fly generation of much of the content. For example, you mentioned being able to read Stack Exchange postings. There is no file stored on StackExchange servers that holds the version of this web page that you're currently reading. It was generated in response to your browser's request, and the only place it exists as a page is in your browser.

So full access is easier. There's no way your protagonist can get much help, anyway, unless you deliberately create similarities between the worlds for him to exploit. Claiming you've fallen into another world will just get you treated as a joker, or a nutter if you persist.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Time and space are complicated, time is just a direction you can travel in.

He fell through a hole in space that no longer exists, but it did and he holds a link to that moment in time through his phone which is almost frozen in that moment. It holds the level of battery it had at that moment, it carries the signal it had at that moment and it still connects to the internet via that hole at that moment. The hole was there then, and he can connect via then.

It's not seeing an image of the internet, it is seeing the internet through a moment in time so always as it "was" at that time.

To allow it to actually load a page you can say that it's a constantly cycling second so it can make page requests and get responses. Perhaps his latency slowly increases the longer he stays as the signal has to travel further.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ The "constantly cycling second" doesn't actually work with https connections, such as Wikipedia, but this may be considered excessive nit-picking. $\endgroup$ – John Dallman Aug 6 '16 at 11:59
1
$\begingroup$

I agree with the other posters: it needs to be live 2-way communication.

Make that part of your plot! His posts Help! I'm trapped in a parallel universe!” are taken to be trolls or unconventional fiction, and could even be the vehicle for your story!

You can have the novel be presented as a discussion thread where he posts his experiences, gets questions back from others, and explains more details. Repeat on different social media with varied reactions until he finally finds a board where it’s assumed to be fiction roleplaying and he gets useful feedback for his “story” that seems to the others to be a role playing game where they influence the main character.

Other threads on the board would be from people who are playing other scenereos and readers make comparisons and suggestions based on others. The main character puts up with it, supposing the other threads are fiction. Then he realizes that they are other people like himself! The few non-trivial highly imaginative never-break-character (and highly rated and followed) stories are in fact all real like himself. He’s not the only one to find himself in a different universe with his phone, and at least some survive and find this board.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Why not just say that the Earth universe is a magical construct like it is in Discworld where the entire universe is a series of crystals/gems like in Men in Black each crystal being a static frame of the universe.

The phone then can use locater magic to see and locate thing in the crystal and the phone can decrypt the data in that frame that would be there. URL that is put in is simply an interface with this Locater magic. And obviously it only works for him because only his phone has the technology to decrypt the binary code that the locater magic reads and feeds the phone's internal circuitry.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ A fun idea, but the structure of the universe is already set. $\endgroup$ – Lepidolite Mica Aug 8 '16 at 17:09
1
$\begingroup$

Crystal “cellphone tower”

There still is some hand-waving magic going on, but to a degree it works. One of the objects your main character comes across, builds or enchanted is a crystal that somehow queried the entire internet during its creation and saved a static image of it. Now their cell phone (while in signal range of the crystal tower) can communicate with it as though it had access to a cell tower. There are no other phones on the network so outgoing calls are useless, but there are lots of DNS address with fixed content waiting to be accessed.

How this crystal queried the entire internet is a little iffy. That’s got to be a powerful spell, or at least a very large crystal. Maybe it’s actually a full tower, not just a crystal sitting at the top of a tower.

A little world building, maybe it’s not a perfect copy of the main character’s worlds internet, maybe it’s a perfect copy of a universe very closely related to their universe. With there being infinite possible universes eventually you will have to settle for close enough.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

I assume with static you mean you cant post or change things, but you will still get the latest info, like the mysterious disappearing of yourself in the local news.

A way to archive this: Your smartphone is no ordenary smartphone, it has special designed OS and automatically generate a VPN to your cooperation instead of your normal access to the internet, you access it through the cooperation firewall.

However your cooperation has the policy that posting is not allowed. Any HTTP request other then GET will be filtered. And maybe some other popular Sites.

While this would not completely prevent the ability to influence the internet, it could be enough for your story. You would still appear in the logs, everything that uses get to transmit data will work (unless the firewall has some special rules to prevent this, because it is a relay good firewall), but that doesn't mean your character knows this or find such services.

Some company also have the rules of no mails on holidays, which would prevent you from writing emails.

Maybe after some time someone will notice that your character access the network, and starts communicating with him. Or he will be trapped forever.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Nope, "static" means only those pages available at the point where he fell out of our world. $\endgroup$ – Lepidolite Mica Aug 8 '16 at 17:09
0
$\begingroup$

I would like to point out that phones do cache web pages (proof, go to a web page, turn off internet, restart your phone, and open the browser again. page is still there. Refresh and it will fail). While only a tiny fraction of the internet, it is on his phone (though this is usually deleted once you close that tab, if there in no restore tab feature). And these would be snapshots of when he viewed them, not right now. (and time magic could give him access to any page he's ever been to, but still not the same as a snapshot)

Aside from that, you have the problem that he fell into another universe with his phone, but not the internet (which is a separate entity). So you now HAVE to explain why he has this snapshot of the internet. The only reasonable explanation is that, somehow, the phone is still linked to the universe it came from (a magic thread from what caused the transport, or some 'source id' property that allows tracing the tree back to the moment it fell in the new universe.) Since this artifact can magically interface with the phone somehow anyways, it might be possible for it to act as the phones 'router', tracing back to it's source time, and simulating the DNS resolution on that 'image' of his universe (or actually have a sister artifact there in a closed time loop of when the fall happened. Maybe responsible for the fall?).

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.