An essential program for VMS users written by Steve Jennen. SWiM is a text mode multi-window terminal application that allows you to work in several simultaneous sessions, each one displayed in a fully movable and resizeable window.

When I first used it at school I couldn't believe what I was seeing: it turned a VT320 into an almost-graphical multitasking terminal! On the downside, as each DCL session gobbled its own screen quota time, you could run out of it pretty quickly.
In Iain M. Banks's newest novel of Science Fiction, The Algebraist, the main character, on two different occasions is afflicted with a peculiar psychological problem.

In order to explain this phenomenon I shall have to explain the setting. The story takes place in the forty-first century or so and humanity, with the 'help' of the over-arching galactic hegemony, the Mercatoria, has become a part of that expansion. Humans have spread across the cosmos and in some minor ways have become important for a number of seemingly minor functions. The main character in this book is something of a backwards ethnologist; he and a number of families of humans are the Seers, the few who are allowed to commune personally with the one of the galaxy's oldest and most widespread civilizations. These Seers have been deigned entry into the most poorly organized libraries in the galaxy, picking through to try to find small kernels of knowledge which they can turn into serious cultural enhancements.

So thousands of years in the future, slices of humanity are embroiled deeply in galactic politics. Vast armies of alien species clash and many humans fight along side them. And at the center of it all, every now and again, especially when drunk, humans will experience the feeling they've dubbed "Swim." It's a sort of nostalgia mixed with not a small amount of horror and paranoia. A feeling of detachment and homelessness. A sort of vertigo developed from being many hundreds or thousands of light-years away from what nearly every generation of your ancestors thought of as 'the ground.'

It begins with the wandering of thoughts, late at night, or what passes for it, staring up at the stars, drinking. It can be triggered by any number of things: imported genuine French wines, a glance over a star map that alights upon Sol, a post-card on a book-shelf from some great aunt's pilgrimage/vacation. The mind slips quietly toward whatever connections exist between you and that blue-green sphere in that, oh so, unfashionable spiral arm of the galaxy. And you let yourself think, "What. Am. I. DOING HERE?!" Here amongst a million different alien species, in a gigantic galactic government where every few million years the entire system is thrown into chaos and misery by vast, ancient and powerful civilizations. Here I am, a poor, pink, squishy, vulnerable human amongst a myriad alien monsters, thousands of light-years away from Home. And it all comes crashing down on you at once: all the struggles and tiresome burdens that humanity must carry, all of mind-crushing bigness of the galaxy, all of it focuses in on how small and pathetic and short lived humans are and all of it is crashing down on your ears. You look at the universe and see how futile trying to succeed as a species when nearly every other species can expect perhaps ten or a hundred thousand years before they're completely wiped out by this galactic war or that genocidal group of aliens convinced that humanity is going to start the next galactic war.

It all happens in a split second and you shake your head, probably fuzzy with alcohol. And if you are among friends you can admit to them that you just got "Swim" and you'll feel their sympathy. You'll sleep and the next day you wake up and breath in the air on a world or ship that has not seen light produced by human means and look up at a sky that's the wrong color of blue with a sun whose light is just a shade on the bluer or redder side.

This bit of space-psychology created for SciFiQuest 2107.

Swim (?), v. i. [imp. Swam (?) or Swum (); p. p. Swum; p. pr. & vb. n. Swimming.] [AS. swimman; akin to D. zwemmen, OHG. swimman, G. schwimmen, Icel. svimma, Dan. swomme, Sw. simma. Cf. Sound an air bladder, a strait.]

1.

To be supported by water or other fluid; not to sink; to float; as, any substance will swim, whose specific gravity is less than that of the fluid in which it is immersed.

2.

To move progressively in water by means of strokes with the hands and feet, or the fins or the tail.

Leap in with me into this angry flood, And swim to yonder point. Shak.

3.

To be overflowed or drenched.

Ps. vi. 6.

Sudden the ditches swell, the meadows swim. Thomson.

4.

Fig.: To be as if borne or floating in a fluid.

[They] now swim in joy. Milton.

5.

To be filled with swimming animals.

[Obs.]

[Streams] that swim full of small fishes. Chaucer.

 

© Webster 1913.


Swim, v. t.

1.

To pass or move over or on by swimming; as, to swim a stream.

Sometimes he thought to swim the stormy main. Dryden.

2.

To cause or compel to swim; to make to float; as, to swim a horse across a river.

3.

To immerse in water that the lighter parts may float; as, to swim wheat in order to select seed.

 

© Webster 1913.


Swim, n.

1.

The act of swimming; a gliding motion, like that of one swimming.

B. Jonson.

2.

The sound, or air bladder, of a fish.

3.

A part of a stream much frequented by fish.

[Eng.]

Swim bladder, an air bladder of a fish. -- To be in the swim, to be in a favored position; to be associated with others in active affairs. [Colloq.]

 

© Webster 1913.


Swim, v. i. [OE. swime dizziness, vertigo, AS. swima; akin to D. zwijm, Icel. svimi dizziness, svina to subside, svia to abate, G. schwindel dizziness, schwinden to disappear, to dwindle, OHG. swinan to dwindle. Cf. Squemish, Swindler.]

To be dizzy; to have an unsteady or reeling sensation; as, the head swims.

 

© Webster 1913.

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