The adventures of longtail
a far-future-oss scenario

xiangjun zeng

[ links to: A Distant Sun - Field Observations from a Far-Future Mars - Into the Darkness]

introduction for the website a distant sun

Stepping out into the unknown can be a terrifying and exhilarating experience. I remember the first time I did tandem skydiving. Like most foolish endeavors, it started out as "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

The day was warm, but not overbearing. The airstrip was in a large open field ringed with tall grass a few hours into the country side by train. A large tent was set up where people who were jumping were waiting for their turn to go up. There were quick instructions on how to put on the harness and what to do before and during the jump.

I was thrumming with excitement. When my turn came, I boarded the plane with 3 others who were jumping as well and I could not wait.

It was not until the plane was halfway up, and as the ground fell away and everything that loomed so large before became little specks that the enormity of what I was attempting hit me. All of a sudden, I was screaming to myself in my head "What the **** were you thinking??!"

I was beset by balls crushing fear when it came to my turn. We shifted to the edge of the doorway, ready to push off. My legs were dangling outside, the landscape below stretching out like a tapestry. A tapestry that could hurt very much if I dropped, and the only thing holding me up was the harness connecting me to my tandem, which he could release at any moment. My stomach shrank into a small pit, and I stopped breathing.

The plan was on the count of 3, the tandem would push us out of the plane and we will be in free fall. He counted "One."

And pushed off. The bastard, lol. I had no time to think. Didn't even know what was happening. I'm sure I squealed like a pig as I was going down. Thank the Old Gods that I didn't participate in any foolishness like hiring a photographer so that shameful moment is lost forever in the sands of time.

But then something wondrous happened midway through the free fall.

To this day, I struggle to put that experience into words. It was breathtaking, literally! The wind rushing by and snatching your breath away. That feeling of weightlessness and sense of freedom! The fear fell away, and I'm in the air, 4 thousand feet up. I'm soaring through the skies like a bird!

Well, more like falling through the sky like a rock, but whatever.

Jumping off into the unknown is like that. Fear and apprehension in the one hand, and excitement and exhilaration on the other, balancing each other like finely weighted scales.

The Adventures of Longtail will be taking a leap into that unknown. After making his home here on the OSS for over a year, the Longtail will finally have his own corner of the internet. There will be a Facebook page for updates and announcements about his latest adventures, as well as a YouTube channel where I hope to have the chance to break the ice with the readers. A Fireside chat.

The plan rolling forward is that there will be a new chapter published on the website second week of every month. In between, there will be a fragment, and weekly videos uploaded. We have plans to upload some of our extended conversations between Zendexor and myself. In time, perhaps other creators will join us as we stretch our legs and lift our tankards of ale.

New chapters of the Adventures of Longtail will continue to be uploaded here, but the older chapters will live on in the Grand Library's Archives, on the Longtail's website, should readers want to revisit the old chapters.

Join me. Lend your voice to help weave richer tales of the Solar System millions of years in the future, in A Distant Sun.

A Distant Sun Facebook

YouTube Channel

earlier introduction to the adventures of longtail

Adventures in a far-future, post-human, habitable Solar System...  My advice to readers: start with Sleeping Fury.  Eventually you'll want to refer back to the Prologue for background information, rather than expect to read it as a structured story.

An introductory message from the author:

Indiana Jones meets David Attenborough in space.

That's how I would describe my story to my friends who asked me about it.

I want to build an empire. A sandbox universe that you, my reader, can loose yourself in and tell stories to yourself. I want to turn your imagination on and make you wonder just what is in this corner of this universe and how does that work?

The Adventures of Longtail got its inspiration from many many different things.

The concept of the character was drawn from Indiana Jones and David Attenborough. He is an explorer with an insatiable curiosity about the world he is in. But Indiana Jones, action hero that he is, is not a good person if you think about it. He breaks into priceless historical landmarks and steal treasures that belong to native cultures, destroying much of where he goes. He is a vandal, and the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark had him doing just this.

Likewise, the Longtail has his own motivations for doing what he does. His actions will not always lead to good outcomes, and his intentions are always his own. The Longtail is neither hero nor villain.

In my reading of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it seems to me that the protagonist of Victor Hugo's story is not Quasimodo or Esmeralda. It is Notre Dame itself that is the main character.

For me, the Adventures of Longtail is the same. The Longtail is a guide, just like David Attenborough, a childhood hero of mine. He takes you, dear reader, through this universe, the real main character of the story, and along the way he will point out to you, "Oh look, isn't that interesting?"

Unlike David Attenborough, he's not going to explain everything about what he sees. I want you, dear reader, to feel the mystery and the wonder I see in my mind's eye when I think about the Longtail. Him standing on the edge of a cliff, looking out to an endless vista, where landmarks jutting out from that landscape are just so strange, that we can't help but wonder what's in it. And overhead, the sky. A magnificent tapestry of stars and galaxies glittering like jewels, hinting at even more.

Every story needs a port of call, a place to sally forth. In the Adventures of Longtail, that port of call is the Red Desert.

The Red Desert is an amalgamation. Barsoom, in John Carter of Mars. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan the Barbarian. The Dark Sun setting for those of you who are also D&D nerds.

I have a particular love of monsters. I loved pouring over the old D&D's monstrous compendium. Before they became the soulless templates that they are now, each monster entry came with a little story about their origins, ecology and legends. When I came across a captivating entry, I would shut the book, hold it to my chest, and my mind would take me off on a little journey where I wonder and wander.

My day job is in the visual effects industry, working on movies and animated features. Every page I write comes with a vivid mental imagery that I try to paint for you, my reader.

Come dream with me. Let's play in this sandbox and I hope you have as good a time as I am having.

My Best Regards,


See also Gor the Enemy of Longtail.

For the Roll Off a Tangent podcast discussion of Chapter One, see