Google+

Mar 22, 2019

15 Year Mission

Blogger is easy and free. You get what you pay for.
Back in the mid-1990s I started blogging before the word "blog" existed. In 2005 I started several blogs using Google's Blogger platform. I've never wanted much more than an easy-to-use online diary and Blogger provides that for free. Using the Blogger service became a major part of my 15-year-long mission to explore strange new platforms for online collaboration. One of my first imaginary collaborators was Nora Yetman.

the pointy hair blog
When I first used the Blogger platform, things were rather rocky. Like other evolving software systems, Blogger has had its share of bugs and glitches, so during the past decade, I've explored other options for blogging including Wordpress and Tumblr. My main problem when using any of these free blogging services arises from the fact that I have been a user of Macintosh computers ever since Apple began trying to accommodate the desire of humans to have a friendly user interface for their computing devices. I've been spoiled by occasionally having used software that was sensibly designed and nicely documented. When I find myself struggling to use poorly designed software that does not provide good documentation of its features then I begin to despair. My thoughts become clouded with dreams: I start to fantasize that maybe I can stop using this miserable POS software and go find a better blogging service.
It is easy to get started using the Blogger platform.

Metablogging
One of the "features" of the Blogger service is that since 2005 "the Blogger team" has had their own blog with "The latest tips and news from the Blogger team".

Sometimes I allow myself to imagine exactly what constitutes the "Blogger team", but that quickly leads to fear that the Blogger service will shut down tomorrow. Maybe the Blogger service will be the next to go down the drain after Google is done destroying their Google+ service. Currently, the latest blog post at the Blogger blog is about how the demise of Google+ will impact users of the Blogger service:
ABOVE: the latest blog post at the Blogger blog (in early March of 2019).

Google+ link
Central Hub
If you click on the "Google on G+" link from the Blogger blog, you go to the following Google+ page:
ABOVE: screenshot showing the "central hub" for Blogger news!


Blogger Help
Amazingly, the "central hub" (shown in the image above) for Blogger was last updated two years ago. I suppose that was about the time when Google decided that their Google+ service was going to be terminated and they probably told their employees to stop posting to Google+. Even with the demise of Google+ imminent, the interwebs are still cluttered with links that say "Join Google+". I seriously wonder if there are any Google employees who actually use Google's services.

Help
Google helps those who help themselves.
All tech companies struggle to provide support to their users. My mind boggles when I think of the millions of people who have started blogs on the Blogger platform and then needed some technical support. For the Blogger service, Google has always tried to make it possible for Blogger users to help each other, hence, the dreaded words: "support forum" and "help community".

Example
The current Blogger user interface for creating a new blog post is shown below. There is a tool bar with a row of buttons such as the button for making bold text. Mousing over the icons on the tool bar will provide the name of each button (shown below, mousing over the "insert jump break" button):
ABOVE: screenshot of the Blogger user interface while drafting a new blog post. This image shows the mouse-over text for the "insert jump break" button on the tool bar.

the "help" button
Imagine
Imagine that a new Blogger user sees the "insert jump break" button on the tool bar and wants to know what a jump break is. While a user is composing a new blog post, there is no "help" button available inside the Blogger user interface. Where is the "help" button? As shown in the image below, when a Blogger user first enters into the "design" mode, "help" is the last button down at the bottom of the page:
ABOVE: the Blogger user interface, in the "design" mode.

Blogger help results
Bugland
First, notice that there is a bug at the top of the screen (image, above). Upon entering into the "design" mode, the "Theme" tab is automatically activated (shown above), but at the top of the screen it shows "All Posts" as the current page title. The Blogger user interface has always had these kinds of annoying glitches. Just move on.

Blogger "help" for "jump break"
If a user clicks on the "help" button, they are given access to a search tool. The image shown to the left illustrates search results for "jump break". Clicking on the first search result ("Jump break") leads to the Blogger help forum content that is shown in the image to the right. I don't use "jump breaks" in my blog posts, but I have an good idea what they are used for. I doubt if Diana Studer's help forum post would be useful for a new Blogger user who wants to learn what a jump break is and why they might want one in their first blog post.

As far as I can tell, even though "insert jump break" is one of the 25 core tools provided to users for making Blogger blog posts, there is no help page called "jump break". There is a help page for "Create, edit, or delete a post" which does not show the word "jump" unless you first click on a drop-down button that says "Add a Read More link". While reading the instructions for how to create and edit a blog page, an experienced blogger might know to use the drop-down link that is called "Add a Read More link", but a new user probably would not associate the mysterious term "jump link" with the term "Read More link".

The "help" that is provided under "Add a Read More link" mentions "jump link" but does not explain what a jump link is (see the image below):
....they call this "help"

Question
What do you call a user "help" system that is not very helpful? Answer: state of the art for Google and many other mega corporations. I'm dismayed when software companies have billions and billions of dollars to squander, but they can't adequately document their products and services for their users.😲

Blogger on social media
Google Sites
I have no memory of how I first became aware of Google Sites. However, I once created a Google-hosted site (Exodemic) for an experiment in collaborative fiction writing. It is either because of the existence of that site or my Blogger blogs that I started getting emails about Google's Search Console after the roll-out of a new version of the Console in 2018.

Google has been trying to promote "mobile friendly" websites, so I've received emails from Search Console touting Google's on-going efforts to fit web pages onto smart phone screens. I suppose I should be interested in the challenges that arise from presenting webpages on small screens, but if a "smart" phone manufacturer can't give users the tools needed to easily zoom and scroll through webpages then I say: "don't buy that crappy phone".

Goggle: it all comes down to $$$$$$
Recently, Google finally figured out that both the "Exodemic" website and one of my Blogger blogs (this one) are both my "properties". Why making this match took 10 years is a mystery. Another mystery is why all of my other Blogger blogs were not similarly identified and added to the list of my "properties" that is maintained by Search Console. I went ahead and told Search Console about all of my other Blogger blogs including the wikifiction blog.

Soon after connecting the wikifiction blog to Google's Search Console system, I got a warning from Search Console saying that their web crawler bot had been "blocked by robots.txt" at the wikifiction blog.
ABOVE:  warning from Search Console.

The search tool at the top
of the wikifiction blog.
I'd never previously concerned myself with the robots.txt file that Blogger provides by default to Blogger blogs. In that file is "Disallow: /search".

Blogger search URLs
Google bots
Blogger has a tool that allows users to enter a search term and then the tool returns a list of all the blog posts that contain the search term. For example, entering "Google" into the search tool returns these results... https://wikifiction.blogspot.com/search?q=Google

By default, Blogger has a robots.txt file that prevents web crawlers from indexing those artificial search URLs (they are not the real blog content). Google's Search Console does not seem to know this. I recommend that the folks at Search Console learn more about this issue and fix their email alerts system so as not to warn Blogger users that their blog's robots.txt file is doing what Google wants it to do. Google is like a giant flailing octopus and each tentacle (service) has no idea what the other services are doing.
🐙
ABOVE:  buttons linked to the pages of the wikifiction blog. Page example: About this blog.
The URLs for the 800+ blog posts for the wikifiction
blog are on six subpages of the sitemap.

Blogger Pages Not Indexed
For several years Blogger has been trying to shift blogs towards using https rather than just http for URLs such as https://wikifiction.blogspot.com/sitemap.xml
When I first took the opportunity to look at the sitemaps for my blogs, I saw none of the pages such as https://wikifiction.blogspot.com/p/about-wiki-fiction-blog.html listed as been available for indexing by Google's web crawler. I went ahead and tried to use Google's Search Console to add "https://wikifiction.blogspot.com/p/about-wiki-fiction-blog.html" to their list of indexed pages.
ABOVE:   says that the blog page at http://wikifiction.blogspot.com/p/about-wiki-fiction-blog.html is "not on Google".

Google's Search Console also informed me that http://wikifiction.blogspot.com/p/about-wiki-fiction-blog.html is the "canonical" page, but it also is not "in the index" (see the image, above). I submitted http://wikifiction.blogspot.com/p/about-wiki-fiction-blog.html to Google's Search Console for indexing and after a few days it had been added to the index. However, other pages in the /p space of my blog were still not indexed. I find it astonishing that Google would not automatically index every Blogger blog page that users create.

I was relieved to discover that some pages for another blog (example......  http://exodemic.blogspot.com/p/glossary.html) had been automatically indexed:
ABOVE:  is on Google
Apparently Blogger blog pages can be crawled by Google's bot and not be indexed. Other pages can be indexed but they do not appear in the sitemap. None of this makes sense to me.

Twitter
Blogger has had a twitter account since 2009, but a while back they made it "private". My advice: don't hold your breath waiting for it to return.

Bottom Line
Search Description
I'm comfortable using Blogger websites as a convenient diary. For most of my blog posts, I make many hypertext links to older blog posts about my Exodemic Fictional Universe. Usually Google's search engine can find my old blog pages when I search for them, but not always.

Google search returns a WordPress blog page first.
Over the years, I got into the habit of crafting a "Search Description" for each blog post. For many years, Google search would show those search descriptions in search results. They recently stopped doing that; I suppose almost no Blogger bloggers bother to make search descriptions and don't care. Woe to those bloggers who do care. Such heavy-handed decisions by Google come with the "free" price tag attached to Blogger.

visit the Gallery of Book and Magazine Covers

Mar 15, 2019

The Case of the Telepathic Teetotaller

Below is the third part of a science fiction story called "The Dead Widower Society". To read Part 1, click here. Part 2.

The Case of the Telepathic Teetotaller
It was just a few days after the sensational news of the Arlesheim Elf swept around the world. I'd learned that the "Elf" was an alien visitor to Earth named Cyndir. After our escape from Switzerland, Isaac Asimov had given both Cyndir and myself refuge at his mansion.

Cyndir then revealed that there was a second alien on Earth, a creature named Noah. In the far past, Noah's actions had been orally transmitted and magnified and ultimately given rise to the biblical story of the flood.

With Earth now under the restrictive terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact, the Lunar Overseers do not tolerate the presence of any aliens on Earth. Asimov had promised to reveal a means to send the two aliens away from Earth and back to their home worlds in the Galactic Core. I suspected that the fate of Humanity and the future of Earth depended on Asimov fulfilling his promise, something he arranged to do at a meeting of The Dead Widower Society.

With the members of the Society assembled and comfortably arrayed around the sofas and chairs in the den of his mansion, Asimov first instigated several boisterous toasts. I contemplated the odd mix of people who had been gathered together that night. In addition to Asimov and myself there was the mystery writer John, the brother and sister pair Peter and Marta, Peter's wife Jane and Anney the clone.

Then, with the room grown quiet in anticipation, Asimov said, "I've promised you dramatic entertainment tonight, but I must warn you that I intend to talk a lot."

Jane said sarcastically, "What a surprise."

Asimov laughed and said, "I intend to talk even more than usual."

We all followed Asimov's directive that we proceed to the dining room. I asked Asimov if "Dead Widowers" was an appropriate name for this group of misfits. He replied that even if there was only one dead widower, John, the group could elect anyone they liked as a new member, regardless of their death and marriage status.

While his guests ate, Asimov regaled them with the story of how he had brought back to the States the Arlesheim Elf, an alien Preland. The Dead Widowers listened attentively while eating, sometimes almost forgetting to eat. Henrike, the health care aide of John, kept trooping back and forth to the kitchen, acting as our server during the meal.

Over dessert, Peter congratulated Asimov on having provided a most entertaining story. He asked, "Has this tale been accepted for publication, perhaps by the National Enquirer?"

For his answer, Asimov invited everyone to return to the den for after dinner drinks. There waiting for us was Cyndir, fully decked out as a Preland both in bodily shape and sporting traditional Preland garb. After introductions and some undignified pinching and bodily probing of Cyndir by Marta, we were all settled in with our drinks and Asimov struck a dramatic pose in front of the fireplace. Cyndir, as a Preland and lacking a digestive system, neither ate nor drank.

Peter said, "Well Isaac, I'm impressed. I never expected to see a Preland here on Earth."

Asimov, without shame, admitted that he was the most interesting person on Earth and others should expect him to have astounding party guests.

Having cleared the dining room table and leaving the hired cook to clean up the kitchen, Henrike joined us in the den. I offered to fix him a drink, but refusing any refreshment he simply settled into a chair next to John.

Then, in his most pedantic voice, Asimov said, "Allow me to explain why I brought you here tonight. As you know, if you stayed awake through my dinner time lecture, the Preland waif, Cyndir, stranded on Earth and lonely for fellow hermaphroditic company, is desperately looking for a way to get off this planet. Who among you can offer a solution to this difficult problem?"

Jane said, "I suppose you expect any solution to include quick and efficient transport of Cyndir back to the galactic core."

Asimov nodded, "Exactly so."

Peter mused, "You know, were NASA to transport Cyndir as far as the Moon.....well, I've heard rumors of a teleporter device at Observer Base."

Anney confirmed the existence of an emergency lunar teleportation device. "That's how Parthney was sent back to the Galactic Core."

Marta added, "My daughter Ivory recently tricked the Overseers into taking her to the Moon." She asked Asimov, "Do you propose that Cyndir do the same?"

Asimov grinned and shook his head. I said, "Frankly, I was surprised that there was no Overseer on hand at Space Energy Missions to nab Cyndir and take thon to the Moon."

Cyndir said, "I suspect that the Overseers did capture the "Preland decoy" that was provided to the police by Asimov. We've heard nothing more from the Swiss authorities regarding the Arlesheim Elf. I bet the Overseers took the decoy to the Moon and the Swiss are too embarrass to admit that they lost their prisoner."

Anney closed her eyes and dipped into the vast data stream available to her via the Sedronic Domain. "Yes, I can confirm that. The 'decoy' disappeared from Witzwill two days ago. The Swiss police are quietly engaged in a manhunt, er, alien-hunt."

I then provided the clue that Asimov had previously shared with Cyndir and I. "Asimov has previously hinted that telepathy is the answer."

Peter asked, "Anney, didn't your sister Anna go off with the Buld? Could you use telepathy to contact Anna and arrange for the Buld spaceship to return to Earth and pick up Cyndir?"

Anney shook her head and explained, "I've tried that, but the Buld seem to have taken a vow to forget about Earth and let us bumble along and solve our own problems."

Asimov added, "And in the case of the Buld, they have no faster-than-light space travel capability. It took them 15,000 years to travel from the Galactic Core to Earth."

"But they could get Cyndir to the teleportation terminal on the Moon."

Asimov complained, "Once on the Moon, the remaining problem would be gaining access to the teleporter. We don't even know the location of Observer Base."

source
Anney said, "It is not just a matter of knowing the location of the Base's entrance. The Moon Base is not in our three dimensional space, it is inside the Hierion Domain. You must transmit a special hierion-encoded access signal in order to enter the Base. That access code is encrypted and useless without access to either an Overseer spaceship or an Overseer teleportation terminal's transmission system."

The room grew quiet. Cyndir rather pessimistically described the possibility of there being a long abandoned Preland spaceship hidden somewhere on Earth.

Jane asked, "Could you locate it using Preland telepathy?"

"I've tried, but it seems a hopeless task. Were such a ship here I should have noticed it thousands of years ago. I'm afraid my dream of a hidden Preland spaceship is just a silly and distracting idea."

Peter suggested, "Let's not be too quick to give up on the Overseers. They seem to have changed their ways since the Buld arrived in the Solar System. A telepathic call to the Moon might attract an Overseer who would be happy to send Cyndir back to Hemmal."

Cyndir said, "More likely, the Overseers would be embarrassed to learn how easily Asimov's 'decoy Preland' tricked them. No, I'd prefer not to put my fate in the hands of the Overseers. It is their duty to enforce the Trysta-Grean Pact and my presence on Earth is a violation of that agreement. I fear that the Overseers would lock me up at Moon Base and throw away the key."

The room again grew quiet and nobody seemed to be able to suggest a solution to the problem that Asimov had placed before the group. Jane called for a break and went off to the bathroom. Others refreshed their drinks and allowed their talk to drift off topic and towards casual gossip. Ten minutes later Asimov called everyone back to the task at hand.

"So, it appears that you are all stumped by Cyndir's problem. Allow me to provide the solution." Pacing in front of the fire for dramatic effect, he began, "This mystery starts with the arrival of Cyndir on Earth, just how long ago, our Preland guest refuses to say, but-"

Anney interrupted and stated flatly, "14,293 years ago."

Asimov gently patted her golden hair approvingly, "Exactly, so, my dear. And what was the nature of this alien's mission on Earth? Simply to watch over the other Prelands who came to this world? Possibly so, but why were the Prelands here on our planet?"

"I first became aware of the Prelands when I arrived in the Koly star system with Parthney. Kach told me all about the Prelands on the planet Hemmal and their plans for the future. Those Prelands believe that they are the Chosen Ones who will transcend physical existence and join with the Creators, the alien Huaoshy, for eternal life within the Sedronic Domain."

"But what of Cyndir?" Asimov glower down at the alien. "Is that why you want to return to Hemmal, so that you can 'become one' with your Creators?"

Cyndir shook thons head, "Not all Prelands share that conventional religious faith. We renegade Prelands who came to Earth cast our lot with you Earthlings. Like you, we long for the great adventure of exploring space and living the kind of life that is to be had here in the universe of hadronic matter."

Asimov spun and turned back to address the assembled members of the Dead Widower Society. "And so Cyndir informed me three months ago when we first met and laid our plans for how to create a media event and have the Arlesheim Elf be captured."

Marta interrupted to ask a question. "Isaac, how did you first contact Cyndir?"

Cyndir answered, "I've survived on Earth for fourteen thousand years by making use of my advanced nanites. I've always had the ability to detect the presence of nanite swarms. When Isaac returned after his excursion to the Andromeda galaxy, I instantly detected the familiar pattern of his nanites."

I observed, "So you do have telepathic contact with humans."

"In a sense." Cyndir quickly put on a display of thons ability to rearrange the nanite components of thons body, briefly morphing into a couple of odd physical forms. "I'm an expert at using nanites both for disguise and for communications. I can detect the swarms of nanites that reside inside people. Each nanite swarm has a unique pattern, emitting a specific kind of hierion signature. However, telepathic communication is not automatic; it depends on two people having matched nanites that can make possible technology-assisted telepathy."

Asimov added, "Likewise, I developed considerable expertise in using nanites while I was in the Andromeda galaxy. The Nereids made sure that I would have nanite-assisted communication with Cyndir upon my return to Earth."

Peter asked, "What did the Nereids tell you about human evolution and telepathy? To what extent are human brains pre-adapted to telepathy?"

Cyndir explained, "Some humans, particularly the now extinct Neanderthals, had evolved a form of natural and innate rudimentary telepathic communication. However, when the Huaoshy changed the dimensional structure of the universe so as to make time travel impossible, that change also eliminated natural human telepathy. Still, the human brain does have neural circuits that can be easily adapted for nanite-assisted telepathy. Particularly the brains of those earthlings who have inherited certain Preland gene combinations."

Jane asked Cyndir, "If you and Asimov were on the same 'nanite wave length', so to speak, then why did you wait until three months ago to contact him?"

Cyndir returned to thons chair and Asimov took up the question. "Why indeed? Why then? And why me in the first place? Cyndir claims that thons 14,000 year long mission on Earth finally ended just three months ago. For millennia, Cyndir's task was to watch over other Prelands and make sure that they did not rock the Interventionist boat and draw down to Earth the wrath of the Lunar Overseers. I now share an important clue: Cyndir previously named the last Preland colonist on Earth, a person known to earthlings as Noah."

Marta scoffed, "Do you mean the biblical Noah?"

Asimov turned again towards Cyndir and thundered at the little alien, "Well, my little friend, do you deny it?"

Cyndir replied quietly, "No, you should all know the truth. Noah met the Buld spaceship when it briefly visited Earth. Noah was ready to leave Earth and thon knew well the people at Space Energy Missions, which was a hot bed of Nereid Interventionism. Of course, everyone at Space Energy Missions left this dreary planet and went off with the Buld aboard their spaceship."

Peter asked, "Then didn't your mission end at that time, a few years ago? Why didn't you also hitch a ride off of Earth with the Buld?"

Cyndir gave a delicate shrug. "I had to carefully confirm that the terms of the Pact between Trysta and Grean were being adhered to. That took a while longer. Also, I carefully searched for evidence of a Preland spaceship that legend says was hidden on Earth long ago. When I grew tired of that fruitless search, I contacted Isaac."

Asimov continued, "And knowing that Cyndir was intimately familiar with my nanite signature, we are forced to assume that Cyndir had identified me as providing thons best chance of getting off Earth and returning to the galactic core. Why should that be?"

I said, "Isaac, you've been of interest to the Overseers ever since you became a time traveler."

Asimov shrugged, "I'm a skeptic with respect to time travel, but yes, Cyndir is avoiding the Overseers. So, why befriend me, someone who is likely to warrant Observation and Overseer attention?"

Jane looked around the room suspiciously, "Are you telling me that we are under observation right now?"

Peter patted the arm of his partner. "Relax, my dear. Asimov is one of those who thinks we are all constantly under observation."

Asimov said, "Perhaps I am wrong about that. Indeed, the entire Earth Observer Corps was dramatically altered after the Buld spaceship reached Earth. Some claim that the Overseers retired and withdrew from Earth along with the Nereid Interventionists."

Anney said, "That is only partially true. There are now new Overseers."

Marta asked, "Then should we expect a visit from an Overseer?"

As if on cue, the doorbell sounded.

I went to the front door and opened it. There stood Orbho Jandra, who I had known while living on the Moon as a prisoner of the Overseers. 'She' said, "Hello, Thomas. How are you?"

I replied, "Surprised by your presence here, but come in. I suppose Asimov has been expecting you."

Returning to the den I performed introductions, "This is Orbho Jandra, from Observer Base. Perhaps you already know the esteemed Dr. Asimov." I introduced Peter and Jane, using her real name. "This dignified matron is Marta, Peter's sister. And this charming lass is Anney, a daughter once removed by cloning from Marta's daughter Ivory." Upon Jandra's arrival, Cyndir had morphed so as to take on the appearance of a human child.

Orbho Jandra went over and took hold of one of Cyndir's hands, "And who is this sweet little girl?"

Asimov blustered and said, "This is my granddaughter, Karen."

Jandra commented, "Indeed. I fail to see a family resemblance." The orbho turned away from Cyndir and said, "What a distinguished group. I doubt if there is a higher concentration of Preland genes in any other room on Earth."

Peter said, "If that is a quantitative assessment based on genotype analysis, could you share with us what percentage of our genes are of Preland origin? This has become a matter of hot speculation within our little club."

Orbho Jandra replied, "I'm not free to answer that under the binding terms of the Grean-Trysta Pact. However, let me say that I feel rewarded in coming here tonight. I've long been intrigued by rumors of Preland visitors to Earth. Now, within minutes of arriving here, I've finally identified one earthling who is remarkably close to having a 100% pure complement of Preland genes."

Jane expressed her annoyance, "Oh, enough already! Stop playing games, Jandra! I order you to tell us why you are here!"

Jandra produced a perfectly musical and human laugh. "Yes, I am an artificial life form, but don't believe the rumor that we orbho must robotically follow orders. In any case, I don't mind telling you why I'm here."

Asimov rather noisily put ice in a glass, added some whiskey and then sat on a sofa beside Anney. I also took a seat and then Orbho Jandra spoke to fill the gathered silence. "I'm a recent arrival in this star system, so I've only been stationed here about 20,000 years. During that time, the most frustrating part of my work has been that we orbho are equipped with only primitive nanites. The Nereid Interventionists, with their more advanced nanites, always had the ability to avoid Overseer attention. We orbho are aware of our technological inferiority, but generally cognizant of the presence of Nereid agents on Earth."

Jandra continued, "Those alien agents were of four types. First, the agents who passed themselves off as humans: trained in the Koly star system and then teleported to Earth. They first appeared on Earth about 5,000 years ago and were almost always clones of you, Thomas. Parthney was the most recent of these."

Betty, A.K.A. Nora
"Second, going back to about 10,000 years ago, there has been a type of artificial life form that served on Earth as Nereid-sponsored agents. Thomas and Peter, you knew one of these as Betty, one of the Space Energy Missions folks. As a class, these were accomplished shapeshifters and sometimes referred to as Grendels."

"Third, there have been the Preland agents. The last of that kind was once known as Noah, of biblical notoriety."

"And finally, there have been Preland Overseers. That elite core never consisted of more than a single agent on Earth at any one time. All of the other Interventionists are gone from Earth, carefully adhering to the terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact. I'm here now to deal with the only violator of that Pact, the last Preland agent on Earth."

Asimov suggested, "You refer to the Arlesheim Elf?"

"Indeed. I've recently discovered that on rare occasions, Earth humans have interacted with Preland Overseers. Coming down through history in myths and legends, humans have sometimes referred to Preland Overseers as elves because of their pointed ears, narrow chins and large eyes. The Preland Overseers are small, like a human child." Jandra nodded towards Cyndir.

I demanded of Jandra, "Why were you sent here tonight? I rather expected the arrival of an Overseer."

Jandra replied, "The Arlesheim Elf is right to fear the Overseers. Overseers have no patience for anyone or anything that violates the Rules of Intervention. For that reason, I am here unaccompanied by an Overseer."

Asimov asked, "Do you intend to violate your own Rules?"

Jandra solemnly shrugged. "It is I who write the rules for Earth. The Overseers would punish anyone caught violating the Trysta-Grean Pact, but in my view, the Arlesheim Elf gets off on a technicality. I can't persecute someone who was conscientiously doing their job, particularly when, by my own assessment, it was a job well done."

Jandra explained, "For 14,000 years, years that were critical to the shape of this Reality, the Arlesheim Elf kept the last few Preland Interventionists in line. I suspect that the Elf, as a Preland dissident, has enjoyed being stationed on Earth and only now reluctantly will return home. It would not bother me if the Elf wants to stay here on Earth. In fact, the Dead Widower Society would be a safe refuge for the Elf if thon willingly decided to make Earth thons permanent home."

Asimov heaved himself to his feet. He seemed deflated and tired. He spoke earnestly to Cyndir, "This orbho knows you well enough, so no more dissembling, my friend. Which is it to be, a return to your distant home world in the Galactic Core or will you join us here on this primitive planet and join us in our adventure", and here Asimov gestured to the assembled members of the Dead Widower Society, "a great adventure to get Humanity to the stars?"

At that moment, Cyndir morphed back to Preland form. The alien said, "I am torn between these two options. Slowly, over the millennia, I saw Humanity grow and mature. With the accelerating pace of discovery and invention I grew excited by this world's prospects. I envy you earthlings for the grand adventure that awaits you among the stars."

Marta said simply, "Then stay and join us."

Asimov cleared his throat and for the first time in my experience he seemed to hesitate and show uncertainty before he spoke. All eyes were on him; he took a last sip from his glass and said, "There is one more, um, little fact, that Cyndir failed to mention. A detail that I'm sure sways thons decision making process."

We all looked at Cyndir who was gazing downward and not meeting our eyes. Asimov went on. "When Cyndir started thinking about the possibility of staying permanently on Earth, thon decided to have a child."

Peter said, "What the hell?"

Jane laughed, "Oh, Isaac, don't tell us you're going to be a father!"

Asimov shook his head. "Don’t be absurd. Prelands are a different species. A human male can't father a child with a Preland."

Anney asked, "What do you mean by "staying permanently on Earth"? Prelands have long lives due to their nanite endosymbionts, but they are not immortal."

Asimov sat back down next to Anney and put his arm around her. "Yes, dear, but Cyndir thought seriously about living out thons life and being buried here on this world."

I said, "As simultaneous hermaphrodites, Prelands can self-fertilize."

Marta gasped. "Oh, my!"

Cyndir explained, "Yes, it is true. I'd lived for thousands of years on Earth, watching innumerable families and seeing thousands of children. I've tried to fertilized my own egg cells, but about 25% of my people have lost the ability to self-fertilize. Apparently I am one such."

Jane said, "That's too bad, Cyndir. Being a mother is one of the most rewarding things about being an earthling."

Cyndir nodded, "I'm beginning to learn that for myself. Just two days ago I gave birth to my own baby."

The Dead Widowers gasped in surprise. Peter recovered his wits first and asked, "You performed an artificial fertilization?"

I suddenly realized that I had heard a squeak from Cyndir's child just the previous day. I'd come upon Asimov examining Cyndir's chest pouch because he was helping a nursing mother!

Cyndir continued, "I contacted Dr. Asimov three months ago because I wanted his help when I gave birth. And I knew that Isaac could get me home to Hemmal."

Asimov told Cyndir, "Show them your baby."

Cyndir pulled open thons chest pouch and we could see a tiny Preland snuggled inside thon.

Marta asked Asimov, "How did you arrange to have Orbho Jandra come here tonight to collect Cyndir rather than an Overseer?"

Cyndir buttoned up thon's shirt and asked Asimov, "Will you now reveal your solution to this mystery?"

Asimov explained, "I knew a method that was available to contact Observer Base on the Moon: telepathic communication. My problem was that of all the people on Earth, only Cyndir seemed to have significant experience with telepathic communication and thons experience was really only with other Prelands. Because of my experiences after I left Earth, traveling through space to many worlds and learning much about Genesaunt civilization, I pursued my hunch that Cyndir's mind could reach out and find someone who could return thon to Hemmal."

Jane asked, "Your hunch proved correct?"

Asimov shrugged. "My hunch was wrong. I was led down the wrong path due to the fact that I'm a linear thinker, a trained scientist. Sadly, Cyndir proved unable to signal telepathically to anyone on the Moon. Yesterday, in desperation, I called my granddaughter and asked for her help. She's much more intuitive than I."

The doorbell sounded again and once more I went to the front door. Two women were waiting on the front step. One was Cecilie Vedra. The other held out her hand and she introduced herself to me as Asimov's granddaughter (I'll not mention her name since she is a private person and wants no notoriety). We went inside to join the assembled Dead Widowers.

While guiding the two new guests into the house, I asked Cecilie, "What are you doing here?"

"It's your fault really. After I met you, I started investigating Vance and the publication history of the Alastor Cluster series." Before she could say more we were interrupted by shouting.

When Asimov saw his granddaughter he gave a loud whoop of surprise and shouted, "What are you doing here?"

His granddaughter hugged Asimov and explained, "After your strange phone call yesterday I thought you were losing your mind. All your talk about telepathy and contacting the Moon upset me. I decided that I needed to come see you and check on your health."

When we entered the den, Asimov turned, saw Cecilie and I and he sputtered, "Ug! The meddling cub reporter!"

I performed a quick introduction for the benefit of the other Dead Widowers. "This is Ms. Cecilie Vedra, a writer for a New York newspaper. Cecilie, you've already met our host for this evening, but under a different name. He is the famous author, Isaac Asimov."

Cecilie and Asimov shook hands. She said, "Sir, when I first saw you, you seemed familiar. I believe you are about 95, but amazingly you look like a young man."

Asimov nodded in acknowledgement of his youthful vigor then gestured towards Cyndir, "We were about to resolve the case of the Arlesheim Elf, better known as Cyndir the Preland." Asimov turned towards the alien.

Cecilie watched while Cyndir morphed back into Preland form. Cecilie's knees became wobbly and I guided her safely to a couch. Slowly she tore her eyes from the alien and turned to me and muttered, "So your crazy story was all true?" I nodded.

Asimov's granddaughter said to Asimov, "So, you're not crazy after all."

Cyndir sighed and nodded, "I'm now beginning to understand." Thon said to Asimov, "You got help from your granddaughter." He asked Asimov, "But how did you know that your granddaughter could contact Jandra?"

Jandra did not let Asimov reply. "Dr. Asimov can't answer that question. Let me explain. Like those humans who have inherited Preland gene combinations, Asimov's granddaughter has a knack for making intuitive judgments based on nanite-assisted telepathy operating at the level of the unconscious mind. As a keen observer, Dr. Asimov long ago noticed the special ability of his granddaughter to make good choices without seeming to have a logical basis for her decisions."

Asimov shouted gleefully, "Ah ha! Just like Wanda Seldon!"

"Not quite. Your fictional character, Wanda, was able to achieve conscious control over her mentalic abilities. Your granddaughter cannot."

I said, "Dr. Asimov seems to have his own remarkable powers of intuition. I wonder how many alien gene combinations he carries."

Jandra commented, "Very few, but, don't forget, there is another source of genes for telepathic ability on Earth."

Anney said, "Yes, the Neanderthals."

Jane asked, "If the Neanderthals had natural telepathy, then why did they go extinct?"

Anney explained, "Their telepathic powers gave them great empathy and a peaceful nature. Our human ancestors exterminated the Neanderthals. However, some earthlings have inherited key Neanderthal gene patterns that make their brains well suited for nanite-assisted telepathic communication."

Jander explained, "At Observer Base on the Moon, we've long monitored Asimov's family. Recently, when Asimov's granddaughter, at Isaac's request, started trying to contact the Moon telepathically, I noticed her signals. Her thoughts were rather confused and jumbled, but they led me here."

Asimov asked Cyndir, "So, will you stay here on Earth?"

Cyndir went to stand by Orbho Jandra and reached up to grasp the hand of that wonderful human-shaped artificial life form. "No, I must leave this world. I've worked long and hard to keep Preland genes flowing into the human gene pool, but only time will tell if humans eventually become a new type of Preland, one well suited for this world. For now this is a world for humans. For now, there is no place here for me. Friends, let us say farewell."

We all said our goodbyes to Cyndir and then I walked the departing aliens (including the tiny baby who was along for the ride inside Cyndir's chest pouch) to the front door. Before stepping outside, Cyndir returned to human form.

I returned to the den, where Asimov refilled all the glasses and he handed me my glass. Henrike still sat stoically beside John, the only person in the room without a drink.

Asimov lifted his glass and said, "Let's drink to our sad loss of Cyndir, a being who would have been a fine addition to the Dead Widower Society." We drank rather sadly, all except Henrike, who, like Cyndir, never seemed to eat or drink.

Asimov raised his glass again, "Now to the topic of expanding our club's membership. I propose a new member for our club: Thomas Iwedon. Thomas could have left Earth and joined the Buld, but he stayed behind, committed to the task of informing the people of Earth about their secret history. All in favor?"

I was unanimously acclaimed a Dead Widower. Asimov said to me, "Then I now inform you that as a new member, you must host next month's club meeting."

Lacking a home of my own, and nervous about how much cordiality might be expected from Asimov after all the long years I'd spent annoying him, but also thinking of our success with the case of the Arlesheim Elf, I said, "In that case, maybe I'll just move in here with you."

Asimov grumbled and looked unhappy at that prospect, so I started thinking seriously about getting a new job and earning the money I needed to host the next meeting of the Dead Widower Society.

Asimov did kindly allow both Cecilie and I to stay at his home for another week after the meeting of the Dead Widower Society. Cecilie and I immediately began collaborating on a book that will tell the secret history of Earth.

The first great discovery we made while performing research in support of our writing collaboration was that John's valet, Henrike, is actually the Preland who Cyndir knew as Noah. The whole spectacle of Cyndir's dramatic departure from Earth was engineered as a smoke screen to convince the Overseers that the last Preland on Earth was finally leaving this world.

Henrike, like the other Preland colonists who settled on Earth, is a member of a Preland subspecies that was modified to have a larger body size than normal for a Preland. Their human-like body size, along with their Nanites, allowed the Preland colonists to live among humans on Earth without being recognized as aliens.

Nanites provided to the Preland colonists by their Interventionist sponsors, the Nereids, sculpted their alien bodies into human form. Additionally, their advanced nanites provided the colonists with the ability to detect and avoid the Observers, Overseers and orbho who were stationed on the Moon and watching over Earth.

All the Nereid Interventionist agents on Earth were originally present as part of the pek master plan for introducing Preland genes to Earth and gradually shaping and transforming the human population of Earth into a new type of Preland. As long as the humans of Earth remained ignorant of that alien plan, the Lunar Overseers never needed to spring into action and take corrective action against the Interventionists.

Most Prelands departed from Earth 20,000 years ago at the time when Ekcolir had traveled through time into the past. By then, the Trysta-Grean Pact was in effect and pek plans to eventually populate Earth with Prelands had been abandoned. Henrike was among the last few Preland colonists who lingered on Earth past the time of Ekcolir's time travel mission.

Henrike considers Earth his home and he is tired of hiding his true identity. He insisted that I write and publish an account of the Dead Widower Society and his relationship with its founding member. By publishing this story I risk provoking an Overseer response, but in my view, Henrike is now an earthling. It was he, the telepathic teetotaler, who actually knew how to contact Orbho Jandra and get Cyndir off of Earth.

The idea that Asimov's granddaughter magically had the needed combination of Neanderthal genes to allow her to use nanite-mediated telepathy and contact Jandra was only a plausible fiction, designed to fool the Lunar Overseers. The Lunar Overseers should relax and, like Jandra, not interfere if Henrike wants to stay on Earth.

Simultaneously with publication of this story about the Dead Widower Society, Cecilie is also publishing a report about Preland visitors to Earth in the Port Jefferson Echo. It is now time for the whole world to learn about the Prelands and the entire secret history of Earth.

With his skill at programming nanites, Asimov was able to provide my brain with a new nanorobotic prosthesis that has re-activated my interest in being a writer. I've launched a new phase of my writing career and Asimov is relieved that I can now support myself. I recently moved into my own modest house.

I hosted this month's Dead Widower Society meeting during which Cecilie was voted in as the newest member of the Society.

As co-investigators into the secret history of Earth, Cecilie and I made a second great discovery. Our collaboration has made clear the identity of "John Doe", Asimov's co-author of "Assassin from Hemmal".

After meeting Asimov (who was then using the false identity of Agent Henderson) at the Hotel Coop Tagungszentrum in Muttenz, Cecilie reviewed the guest list at the hotel and noticed the name Saul Greek. An internet search turned up that name in the context of the New York publisher of "Assassin from Hemmal". Cecilie contacted an acquaintance at that publishing house and learned that the staff was all abuzz about that soon to be published book. The listed co-authors were obviously pseudonyms, but rumor had spread that there were two clear writing styles in the book which had each been linked to a dead science fiction author.

Cecilie's friend at the publishing house speculated that someone was imitating the writing styles of Isaac Asimov and Jack Vance. Having heard my story about Asimov's past involvement with time traveling aliens, Cecilie began investigating the possibility that "Saul Greek" was actually Asimov.

On our first day together, I never would have spoken so obsessively to Cecilie about Asimov except for two facts. First, she carried a copy of Pharism, a novel by Vance that should not have existed in this Reality. Second, her physical appearance and name were identical to a fictional character in yet another Vance novel that had also existed in Deep Time, within a previous Reality.

Cecilie's investigations quickly turned up old photos of Asimov and she recognized that "Henderson" looked remarkably like Asimov as a young man when he was growing up in the previous century.

Cecilie began a search for Asimov, ignoring the fact that he had died twenty years previously. She managed to find Asimov's granddaughter just when she was stepping out her door and traveling to visit Asimov. Thus, Cecilie and Asimov's granddaughter had arrived together at a meeting of the Dead Widower Society.

As for the secret identity of Asimov's co-author, "John Doe", our suspicions immediately fell upon the mysterious John who was the founder of the Dead Widower Society. I knew that "John" was the real first name of Jack Vance. While a guest in Asimov's home, Cecilie surreptitiously burrowed into some of Asimov's correspondence and found the address of "John Doe", the co-author of "Assassin from Hemmal".

Cecilie and I went and visited John. We found him living comfortably in an old rambling house with Henrike. John readily admitted that he was related to the Jack Vance of this Reality. However, the nature of that relationship is rather odd and twisted.

John Doe was been born in Deep Time as a member of a pair of twin boys, Jack and John Vance. In that previous Reality, Jack and John both grew up to be successful writers, often collaborating in odd ways. In their native Reality, Jack wrote the first Alastor Cluster novel then John wrote the next novel in the series, taking it in a new direction. Eventually, alternating authorship of the novels, the series grew to include a total of seven books, each about a different world in the Cluster. Pharism was one of the novels written by John.

John told us, "One day, a strange woman came to my door, here, at the version of this house in that other, similar Reality, and she told me that I would soon die in a tragic accident, a plane crash."

"Ordinarily I would have thrown her off my property, but something told me that I should hear her out. She explained that she could take me to live elsewhen and if I went with her then I would live a long and productive life."

It turned out that the "strange woman" was actually Grean, the Kac'hin who was using time travel to arrange for the creation of our Reality, the version of the universe within which Earth's future would be guided by the terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact. Grean did not actually give John an option. She transferred him into our Reality, the world as we know it.

John arrived in our Reality one week to the day after his analog died. The John Vance who arrived out of Deep Time, although old and blind, still wanted to write fiction. Grean introduced John to Henrike who soon had John equipped with a fancy new dictation system that allowed him to speak his stories and then Henrike could use a computer system to transcribe those voice recordings into publishable written format.

About that time, Cyndir showed up and spoke to Henrike. Cyndir had been trying to decide if Henrike (who Cyndir knew by thons Preland name, Noah) could continue living on Earth without being detected by the new Lunar Overseers and without being recognized as a violation of the Trysta-Grean Pact which forbids any further alien presence on Earth.

Upon learning that Grean had linked Noah up with John, Cyndir decided that Noah was being allowed to continue living on Earth.

Cyndir wanted to have a child and Noah suggested that he could be the father. At first, Cyndir was dismayed by the offer. Noah was from a separate Preland subspecies, one engineered to be twice the size of a normal Preland. Cyndir had never heard of mating between the two Preland species and doubted that it was possible for Noah to father thons child.

After some undignified trials and some nanite-mediated remodeling of Cyndir's reproductive tract, Noah impregnated Cyndir. Cyndir decided to stay on Earth, but then Grean showed up and explained that a breeding pair of Prelands could not be allowed on Earth. Cyndir agreed to return to Hemmal in the Galactic Core.

Cyndir was dismayed when Grean refused to provide transportation. Grean explained, "My duty is to turn you over to the Lunar Overseers. I can't be caught transporting you to Hemmal. I'll pretend that I never saw you, so you can try to find your own ride home before the Overseers find you."

Grean, having previously viewed the future of our Reality, provided an outline of how Cyndir should proceed. "Have John contact Issac Asimov. Issac will help create a diversion, convincing the Lunar Overseers that no more Prelands remain on Earth. Then you will be provided with the means to return to your home world."

Cyndir asked Grean for more details about the future, but none were forthcoming. In any case, events proceeded as I have described. John formed the Dead Widower Society and Asimov was the first new member recruited to join. At an opportune time, with the birth of thons child approaching, Cyndir contacted Asimov. The decoy media circus of the Arlesheim Elf's capture was played out. Orbho Jandra arrived on Earth to take Cyndir away and provide transportation back to Hemmal by means of the teleporter terminal at Observer Base on the Moon.

Cecilie and I listened with rapt attention to his account of past events and then John fell silent. He chuckled quietly, then said, "Since coming to this Reality, I've re-written some of the my old books."

I said to Cecilie, "That's why you were able to obtain a new version of Pharism that I'd never seen before."

One issue was still bothering Vance. He said, "Then last month a woman named Cecilie Vedra showed up at the Dead Widowers meeting."

I added, "Cecilie's existence here in this Reality puzzles me. Her physical appearance exactly matches the fictional character Cecilie who you wrote into one of your novels in Deep Time."

John nodded thoughtfully. "Thomas, you and I might be the only people on Earth who know about Cecilie as a fictional character in the previous Reality. How is it that you met her, just when you were responding to news of the Elf?"

I looked at Cecilie and she shrugged. "Don't look at me! I'm completely baffled to learn that I'm the flesh and blood personification of a character created by Mr. Vance."

Henrike had been listening to our conversation. Finally thon spoke, "John, when Grean was trying to get me to come and live with you, I was told something odd that now makes sense to me. Grean told me that after I was comfortably established as your aide, a time would come when Earth would be ready to hear the truth about my presence, about an alien living on Earth. I think that time has come. I now see that Thomas and Cecilie are the ones who can tell the people of Earth about me."

As I submit this story for publication, I have only two more things to add. First, I believe that the Lunar Overseers might still prevent the publication of this story and drag John and Noah and the rest of the Dead Widowers off to the Moon for safe keeping.

Second, Cecilie believes that she was brought into existence in this Reality because of my obsession with fiction. I admit that when I was living in the Ekcolir Reality, I developed a crush on the fictional Cecilie Vedra character. I've discovered that Cecilie's nature is such that she was instantly intrigued by me when I began spouting off and telling her about my past as a time traveler who originated in Deep Time. Cecilie broke things off with her former boy friend in New York and we are now happily living and working together.

I explained to Cecilie that as a hybrid Asterothrope/Ek'col I can't father children with a human woman. On a recent day, Cecilie complained of this fact to Asimov and he said, "Rest easy on that count, my dear. My nanorobotic probes tell me that you are actually a Kac'hin, carefully crafted by nanites during your development to match Vance's description of his Cecilie Vedra character. And according to my probes, your first child will be born in about eight months."

Asimov turned to me, "I take back what I've said in the past about you being a failure as an earthling. And congratulations on finally becoming a father...I suspect that when Trysta used alien technology for viewing the future she foresaw her grandchild long ago."

I could tell that Asimov was still reluctant to believe in time travel. I suggested, "Trysta's ability to view the future was exactly how you described Reality Viewing in your time travel novel."

Asimov muttered, "Time travel is the stuff of science fiction, not reality."

I put my arm around Cecilie and said, "I don't want to question the magic that brought Cecilie and I together, but Isaac, even you can't ignore the fact of Cecilie's existence."

Asimov shrugged. "I'm not ignoring her. I simply find it easy to hypothesize that you and John have been tricked into believing that time travel is real."

I whispered, "Was real. The universe has changed. The age of time travel has ended. Now we humans must find our way to the stars with no more corrections, no more second chances." 
            The End

This (above) is the third part of a science fiction story called "The Dead Widower Society". To read Part 1, click here. Part 2

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Looking back from 2019
Investigating Earth's
Reality Chain
The story (above) about the Dead Widowers and the last Preland on Earth was written back in 2014 at the time when I was conceptually shifting from the task of creating Exode as a stand-alone novel to a larger Exode Trilogy. That shift was necessitated by my discovery of the structure of Deep Time, the sequence of Realities in Earth's Reality Chain.

When I began writing Exode (in the Summer of 2012), it was to be a story that was set in the Final Reality. As originally conceived, Exode was going to be a story about space travel, not time travel. However, I was still haunted by another story, Foundations of Eternity, which did involve time travel. I had stopped working on The Start of Eternity back at the end of 2009. During 2010 I had fun writing Cellular Civilization, a story that was concerned with alien intervention into the course of development of technologies on Earth.

Earth's Reality Chain: five Realities
In 2011, I was too busy in the real world to write fiction. In March of 2012, when I returned to story writing, I was in the mood for some fan-fiction (see the Contact television show), but I was still exploring how Interventionist agents might operate on Earth and expose we Earthlings to alien technologies.

By August of 2012 I had move past my fan-fiction disease and was working on a new story set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. I had toyed with the idea of making my "new" story be a sequel to Cellular Civilization, but I had by then abandoned wiki websites as my preferred platform for writing and shifted to using blogs. I decided on a clean break from my older stories and intended to tell Exode through the eyes of Hana, an Earth woman who was exiled from Earth and able to explore Genesaunt society as it exists in the Galactic Core.
Exode cover

World Building
During 2012 I created the planet Hemmal. Soon I was populating the worlds of the galactic core with human variants such as the Prelands, the Pla, the Kac'hin and the Buld (not to mention non-humans such as the Fru'wu). At the end of 2012 I created a cover image for Exode.

Exode was developing nicely as a stand-alone novel until I decided to add in a character named Gwyned. As mentioned in this blog post at the start of 2013, I was not intending to open a can of worms by having Parthney trained by Gwyned for a mission to Earth. Gwyned was a logical choice to be the resident of Lendhalen who taught Parthney how to pass himself off as a Earthling: Gwyned had herself been born and raised on Earth.

World Collide
Trysta and Ekcolir
However, by February 2013 the previously well-isolated story Exode was being drawn into the great gravitational attractor of my older story, The Start of Eternity. Gwyned's mother (Trysta) had arrived in the 1930s of Earth during the Foundation Reality. For the Exode story, I was depicting Interventionists such as Parthney operating on Earth and I was in need of a way to trump the god-like powers of the Huaoshy. By the middle of February, I had decided that Trysta could pass advanced technology to Parthney. By making Trysta and time travel be part of the Exode story, I could no longer avoid developing and making explicit the links between The Start of Eternity and Exode.

Balance of Power
At first, the main link was the biological connection between Trysta and her daughter Gwyned. In my imagination, Trysta was an Asterothrope, a human variant from 10,000,000 years in our future. Although Trysta had a human lover, Andrew Harlan, they could not have children together; Asterothropes are a distinct species that is reproductively isolated from we humans. I imagined that Gwyned's father was Ekcolir, an Ek'col. Why had the pek crafted yet another human variant (the Ek'col) just so that Trysta could have children? Trysta had come to the Primitive Era with Harlan and she had planned to manufacture her own Asterothrope children by artificial means.
Trysta Viewing Realities

Ekcolir
By introducing Ekcolir into the Exode story, I had opened a huge can of worms. I had to think carefully about the backstory of Gwyned and the romance between Trysta and Ekcolir. In 2013 I realized that Exode was part of a trilogy that included Foundations of Eternity and a new novel called Trysta and Ekcolir. By March 2013 I had discovered that there was another Reality sandwiched between the Foundation Reality and the Buld Reality. Eventually, I realized that there was both the Asimov Reality and the Ekcolir Reality in Earth's Reality Chain.

By April 2013 I had discovered that Parthney is a clone of Trysta's son, Thomas. As described in the story above, on this page, eventually Thomas became a member of the Dead Widower Society. As mentioned here, there are also clones of Gwyned. Originally I had included a robot named Robin in Exode, but by June 2013 Robin had been transformed into Syon (Noÿs spelled backwards), the artificial life replica of Trysta. Other key steps in the creation of Exode are described in this blog post.

3 to 5
Syon and Gwyned
For a couple of years I was comfortable in imagining that all of the events described in the Exode Trilogy could be comfortably contained in three novels. However, by the beginning of 2014, I was already into the process of making room in the Exode Trilogy for additional member of Tryst's family such as Ivory Fersoni. Also, since I was having so much fun with Isaac Asimov as a character in my stories, I was branching out: soon enough I would write both myself and Jack Vance into the Exode Trilogy. Clearly, things were getting out of hand. Eventually the Exode Trilogy had to be expanded to a 5 novel Exode Saga.

A Search Beyond
When I began crafting A Search Beyond, I wanted to find a way for the replicoid of Isaac Asimov to explore events that had taken place in the far future of the Asimov Reality. For several years I had a hard time letting go of The Case of the Arlesheim Elf and the rest of the Sessily Trilogy. However, with the recent arrival of Rylla, I now have a different pathway into the exploration of the Asimov Reality, a path that can be exploited for A Search Beyond.

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