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Webcomic / Quantum Vibe

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Quantum Vibe is a Sci Fi Webcomic created by Scott Bieser under Big Head Press.

Taking place in the year 2523 C.E.(566 S.A. or Space Age), the tale follows Nicole Oresme, a girl who has an emotional breakdown following a sudden breakup with her boyfriend Philbert, resulting in her losing her job for not showing up. Figuring that she ought to get her life in shape, she decides to get a new job from a certain Dr. Seamus O Murchadha. In her meeting with Murchadha, she finds out that the job involves experiments having to do with some strange process the Doctor calls "quantum vibremonics"; he wants her to help him in continuing these studies.

The offer seems pretty good, as Nicole would get a fairly high-paying job with a boss who respects her. Furthermore, she would get to travel to many exotic locations across the solar system as the job demanded. But the job turns out to be far more dangerous than Nicole anticipated; following a near-fatal experiment close to the surface of the sun, she has several attempts on her life by assassins of unknown employment and purpose. It appears that Murchadha's experiments are attracting some unwanted and hostile attention....

Following the conclusion of Dr. Murchadha and Nicole's adventures, a centuries-long Time Skip ensues. We are introduced to a new cast of characters in a very different location, focusing on Bok and Zander, longtime friends, as they slowly uncover a conspiracy controlling their lives and those of the people around them. This section was officially titled Quantum Vibe: Venus 23, and then started the Quantum Vibe: Assimulation arc, covering the adventures of Murphy, a new artifolk named Hugo, and one of Nicole's distant great-grandchildren, Eithne. The Assimulation arc has now closed and the series will shift to focus on Venus 23 again.

The strip updates three times a week, with occasional interruptions announced by the author. Here is the first strip, and here is the latest.

Provides examples of:

  • Alternate Calendar: Most of the solar system dates from the Sputnik launch. Huǒxīng has their own calendar using Martian years (roughly twice as long), dating from the Viking 1 landing.
  • Alternate Universe: Seamus' research project has as its goal the access to these as a new frontier for humanity to explore.
  • Artificial Gravity: Electro-gravity, also acts as a form of Inertial Dampening.
  • Author Tract: The author frequently shows off his libertarian views (not, however, in a particularly uninteresting fashion).
  • Bizarre Transhuman Biology: Seamus' botched rejuvenation treatment has presented many odd changes besides turning him into an eight-foot tall, four-hundred pound giant. For example, he can fart at will(and has at least once used that ability to clear a room so he can privately contact someone). One that annoys him to no end is that each strand of his scalp hair has a single, long nerve growing in the center - he prefers having short hair, but can't cut it without the aid of a trustworthy anesthesiologist, as cutting it feels like cutting off his fingers.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: For most of the first volume, when Nicole and Seamus have an antagonistic relationship, and the audience is expected to be somewhat suspicious of him, as a regeneration error has trapped him in a 250 kg body with a dumpy face and kinky red hair. It's about the time she begins to trust him implicitly that this is fixed, leaving him thin and beautiful with a perfect face and hair.
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Dr. Seamus O Murchadha "Doctor" (despite the resemblance) - "I'm a person, not a TITLE!"
  • Brain/Computer Interface: Nicole jacks her implant into the Helio-flyer when its normal controls are fried.
  • Brain Uploading: It's possible to copy a human's memories into a planktronic brain. Seamus kept a spare one just in case one of his enemies got him, which he ended up using to replace Murphy's original planktronic brain when Bobinardi fried it. Though he is still uploaded into an android later on.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: When she's in the middle of a 30-hour trip back from Sol to Mercury, Nicole browses through news articles, physics papers, and eventually - to keep her aggravated and on edge - talk radio.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Robots are called "Artifolk."
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": In the real world, "cheese" was used for a time to refer to heroin cut with Tylenol PM; on Luna, "cheez" is heroin mixed with methamphetamine.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Claud pulls one, complete with fade-out, in his farewell towards the end of the Luna arc.
  • China Takes Over the World: Well, Mars anyway. Or Huǒxīng, as it's called in the series.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Veronica/Ventura drops a rather colorful one when she regains access to her memories.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Gensaxwal Executive Mr. Bobinardi actually initiates sex with a subordinate in front of his two 'valets', emphasizing how little he thinks of them when placed in contrast with his unwillingness to express emotion with his wife.
  • Corporate Warfare: "Mercorp wars" are alluded to a few times.
  • Corralled Cosmos: Deep space is filled with gas-giant sized clumps of dark matter. Generation Ships and light-huggers attempting interstellar travel thus get pulled off course or collide with them. As FTL travel capable of bypassing those obstacles has yet to be invented, humanity is effectively trapped in the solar system. And given that every planet, moon, and gap in space in the solar system (except Venus, which is being terraformed) has been colonized by the 26th century, they're running out of elbow room and are starting to enter a societal decline.
  • Data Pad: Despite many people having implants touchscreens that can expand from smartphone-sized to the length and width of a large tablet are in common use.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Diana is having trouble focusing on the content on this page.
  • Expy: Despite his best efforts, Bieser couldn't help but invoke some beloved science fiction characters from other franchises in Quantum Vibe:
  • Fanservice: Nicole winds up showing off to the 'camera' here and there, though never past a PG-13 rating. Though this pushes the rating a bit. As well, Murphy, who becomes rather generously-endowed by the "Assimulation" arc, ends up showing quite a bit of cleavage when Eithne initiates sex with her.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Terrans have enforced one with cruel genetic engineering. The upper class "executives" are engineered to look good and have pheromones that make you want to trust and respect them. The lowest class "associates" are engineered to be diminutive in body and spirit and to have pheromones that make them repellent and hateful even to themselves. There are also specialist castes in between that we haven't encountered.
  • Fantastic Measurement System:
    • Huoke (roughly 15 minutes), as a Martian measurement of time.
    • Gravs (1 meter per second squared), a derived unit of acceleration instead of one based on Earth's gravity. (So what we'd call "1 G" would be 9.81 gravs).
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The 'loonies' don't much care for anyone who's decidedly different, in particular Belters - their entire court system seems to drive that point home, by claiming that an eighteen-year-old is really three because of how often her home revolved around the sun.
    • Also hinted at for Artifolk, even where they're not enslaved or property.
    • Nicole herself gets a few "elf" slurs on Luna once her ears become apparent.
      • And she initially shows some discomfort with Artifolk, either as sexual partners or even just to tip them, although she does improve over time.
  • Film Noir: The Luna arc. Gangsters, crooked cops, nightclubs. You know that the artist is starting to really enjoy himself once Nicole puts on a Badass Longcoat.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: Nicole is embarrassed to be seen with her anysuit deactivated, despite it being less revealing in that state than many of the outfits she has programmed into it.
  • Funetik Aksent: The lunar dialect (used in a lot of media) tends to do this, and adds just a smidgen of LOLCats.
  • Future Slang / Pardon My Klingon: Words like "crat" (Obstructive Bureaucrat/crap), "feek" (fuck), and "shuck" (shit/fuck) pop up from time to time.
  • Gender Bender: Hitomi, an artifolk courtesan for a ship of four men can change into a man at will.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Nicole.
  • Harmful Healing: When we first meet him, a botched rejuvenation has left Seamus with uncontrolled weight gain, nerves in his hair that make it painful to cut, and the ability to fart at will.
  • Holographic Disguise:
    • The Anysuit qualifies, though it is generally only used for fashion.
    • Artifolk have this feature built in.
    • A "Pinocchio" is an artifolk who uses this technology to disguise his real nature.
  • Homage: Davis Family Caverns on Luna are a homage to The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
  • Human Subspecies: There's the different castes on Terra. The Belters developed multi-armed Spyders and apelike Beltapes. And a fur-covered rejuv doctor appears in the Luna arc.
  • Immune to Drugs: Nicole metabolizes alcohol quickly thanks to her genetic modifications, so every time she gets drunk she had to consume more than enough to knock out a Beltape three times her mass,
  • Intrepid Reporter: Claud Southend, who seems at first to be more of a celebrity-chasing Paparazzi but who becomes an invaluable ally to Nicole in the Luna arc.
  • It Seemed Trivial: "Oh, by the way, your new uniform can turn into an environmental suit." Mentioned less than a day after its owner is sort-of Thrown Out the Airlock.
  • Killed Off for Real: Generally the comic avoids actual deaths "on-screen", but Buford, one of the beltapes who became friends with Nicole and Murphy, dies of a shot to the head during the rescue of Seamus.
  • The Lad-ette: Hard-drinking, bed-hopping Nicole.
  • Language Drift: Five centuries into the future Loonies (residents of Luna) have developed a dialect that resembles Lolcats. In Venus 23, another 500 years later, most people of "Oz" speak a pidgin of English and Portuguese called "Portanglo".
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: Smith & Holder Resolutions.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Quoted word for word here.
  • Libertarians IN SPACE!: A central plot element, with Libertarian concepts such as asset-based currencies, contract resolution, and individual accomplishment being the key to peaceful, prosperous, humane societies, as opposed to Luna's increasingly-bureaucratic democracy or the Mercorps that rule Earth, Mars and the Jovian satellites - badly. Each statist society is noted to have a large underclass - Beltapes on Luna, poor people on the Jovian moons. Mars has android slaves, and Earth has genetically engineered entire subraces in a Fantastic Caste System; can't have an upper class without a lower class.
  • Lightworlder: Beltapes can't stand in even Martian gravity for very long. Not that you could tell from their appearance. Humans themselves seem to have gotten more accustomed to low gravity, with various characters complaining about environments of even 5 or 6 m/s^2 (for reference earth's gravity is 9.81 m/s^2).
  • Longevity Treatment: Rejuvenation treatments are readily available. One of the main characters is reportedly in his third century, but there's evidence that he's over 500 years old.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Turns out, Nicole's mother used chromosomes from eleven other people to create her and Seamus is a donor. That Corrupt Corporate Executive probably too.
  • Mega-Corp: Earth is split between two gigantic Mega Corps, and all the other off-world planets and stations seen so far have been owned by corporate joint ventures except for Luna. And even Luna has had its government nearly-completely swallowed by Omega Tek. Joe's Diners and Muc Ar Foulain, from the asteroid belts and the L5 Colony respectively, are a lot less evil than the conventional Mega-Corp, though.
  • The Metric System Is Here to Stay: Except on Zytemonde, for whatever reason they measure distance in "peters" instead of meters. They still use SI prefixes though.
  • Mix-and-Match Woman: Nicole is an "osmotic clone" that her mother created from the chromosomes of herself and eleven other anonymous donors. She originally intended to use the genes of 2400 people but couldn't get it to work.
  • Neural Implanting: Nicole has an implant giving her the minimal skills to pilot a Helio-flyer, Seamus still insisted she get some simulation training.
  • Nixon Mask: Mr. Graves has a holographic mask that is set to President Obama when we first meet him. Later, he switches to Bush and Clinton.
    • Another android, Mr Tombs (possibly Graves again under a different pseudonym), also has one that is actually set to Nixon.
  • No New Fashions in the Future / Space Clothes: Flips between these. Many of the styles wouldn't look too out of place in modern society, but just as many draw inspiration from some of the wildest fashions Science Fiction has to offer. The Anysuit actually lets the wearer project holographic clothes in any style they desire, including fashions from either of these.
  • Offhand Backhand: An invading soldier does this to a technician that tries to attack him with a tablet.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Sort of. Seamus is an Objectivist model "practical scientist"; whereas tame "theoretical scientists" spend their lives in laboratories performing "endless, incremental experimentation and publishing in journals," he "approaches science by jumping in with both feet, grabbing nature by the throat and throttling the truth out of her. As a result his discoveries and inventions are often quite game-changing."
  • Orphaned Punchline: "So they find another boy a ways up the roadside, laughing his ass off. They ask him what's wrong and he says, 'I sneezed and that house blew up!'"
  • Our Showers Are Different: "Clean-branes", first seen in Timepeeper - membranes of memory plastic that one simply steps through to strip all detritus from one's body, leaving the user not only clean as a whistle but bone-dry.
  • Pheromones: Terra has a caste system enforced by genetic engineering to produce pheromones. Executives have pheromones that make them seem more likable and attractive than their personalities would suggest, Associates make you want to kick them, and both castes are susceptible to the effects of their own scents. Not clear what the other castes have in regards to pheromones but they probably follow the pattern.
  • Pointy Ears: Nicole has them, though they're usually covered by her hairstyle. Turns out that it was a fad around the time L-5 was established, so many of their descendants have 'em, and it's the source of elf-related slurs for L-5'ers. The similarity between "L-5" and "Elf-hive" hasn't been discussed in canon.
  • Police Brutality: The Lunan cops beat Nicole so badly she spends the next three days in a Healing Vat.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: Indicated by the title itself, Seamus was attempting to invent interdimensional travel, but accidentally laid the groundwork for Faster-Than-Light Travel.
  • Really Dead Montage: After Buford is killed, there's a strip of each of the others replaying past scenes in their head.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Rejuvenation is in common use in this world. More than one character has availed himself of it:
    • Seamus claims to be almost 350, though there's some evidence suggesting that he's at least 500.
    • Hari Copperton is about 400 years old.
    • On Venus 23, it turns out that Nicole has survived to the "present day" and is 525 years in standard reckoning.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Artifolk are humaniform sentient robots. They generally do not pass for human note , but share many human traits and perform human jobs (including as sex workers).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Veronica considers this after regaining her memories of being wronged by Po Xu-Ke's nephews, but decides against it after (extensively) calculating that while she has a fairly good chance of achieving her objective, she would certainly not survive the process.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Agent Antigone Stone of Smith & Holder Resolutions, who goes from looking like this to this when her investigation calls for a little... finesse. It's quite probable that she's the lucky recipient of some good genetic engineering, given her strength in the first of those two links.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Space Pirate: Jesus Hernandez and his crew, which are actually Ionian revolutionaries.
  • Spice Rack Panacea: When Nicole begins having PTSD flashbacks, Seamus has a pharmacist prepare her an "old remedy" of vitamins and amino acids. The order also includes hashish, but this is Seamus's own addition.
  • Terraform: Mars is almost fully terraformed while Venus is about 14% done, Nicole's mother is working on the latter.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock:
    • In the Vesta chapter Nicole, Murphy, Buford, and Nigel are shot out of a cannon into space by Vesta Vista. Fortunately Nicole has her Sundiver suit with her, Murphy's a gynoid, and the Beltapes can survive half an hour in vacuum. Unfortunately they're on a ballistic arc that will make them crash into Vesta at more than fatal speeds.
    • Subverted and then played straight in this segment when Murphy interrupts a pinocchio trying to kidnap Seamus. She loses the fight, but turns the tables at the last second and tosses the would-be kidnapper out instead.
    • In a less literal example, subverted in an early arc when Nicole and Seamus's staterooms are scheduled to be "vacuumed" while they are still in them, due to an act of sabotage.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In the Mars chapter, Nicole takes the Idiot Ball and runs with it. After having been given a brutal lesson in the last chapter what lengths Seamus's enemies will go to for info on his project, what does she do in the next chapter after being alerted there might be trouble? She gets her Beltape bodyguard injured in a high-grav train ride, ditches her at a clinic to recover while she goes shopping, and then heads straight into a crime-infested part of town and gets her android companion snatched away. And later the whole group sans Seamus walk into a fairly blatant trap and end up getting shot into space.
  • Unmoving Plaid: here. The pattern may be holographic.
  • Uplifted Animal: Beltapes look like hairless gorillas. There's also birdmen, porpoises, anthrofish... furries look like modified humans though. After FTL is discovered uplift starts on a number of alien species.
  • Utopia: An Invoked Trope - Murchada points out that societies provide the greatest good for the greatest number in their dynamic phase, that is, when they have room to expand and resources to spare. Libertarianism (placing the individual before the group) can only be practiced effectively in such a phase. In all other phases, necessity sacrifices the individual to the group to varying degrees.
  • Visual Pun: There are a few scattered around.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: While issuing Che-style trials to the crew and passengers of the Argosy, Jesus Hernandez accuses one crewman of beating his ex-wife (and selling war refugees into slavery), when the crewman tries to justify his actions Jesus jumps over the table to headbutt him, gives him a stern lecture on why you should never abuse your life partner, then sentences the wife beater to airlocking.
  • Wham Line: "I am Theophilus Farnsworth."
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Artifolk can be free or owned as slaves. Mars only has the latter option.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Po Xu-Ke, the oldest man in the Solar System, dies after refusing any more rejuvenation treatments, though his exact reason for choosing to do this is left a little vague. Conversely, there are a number of others who aren't done living yet such as Seamus who's actually even older than Po.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Chari and Prebakar take this trope up to eleven.