Dec 24, 2012

Twisted Interventionists

This past summer I started a new novel that would allow me explore the origins of the Interventionists who appear as characters in stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. Previously, I had written stories from the perspective of people like you and I who live on Earth. In those stories, the Interventionists appear on Earth, magically arriving from the stars. Exode takes the magic out of their arrival. The story begins with Parthney on his home world, Hemmal. Eventually Parthney makes his way to Earth where he lives for 15 years as an Interventionist agent. The early chapters of Exode describe "The making of an Interventionist".

In previous stories about Interventionists I have portrayed them as confident adversaries in a kind of "spy vs spy" scenario where Overseers and Interventionists have opposing views about we Earthlings. Overseers fanatically try to make sure that the residents of Earth develop at their own natural pace without any outside interference....and without any true understanding of how it is even possible for the Interventionists to be "outside" (arriving on Earth from some other world). I've typically depicted Interventionist agents on Earth as struggling against the Overseers to find ways to speed the pace of technological advance and cultural development on Earth.

The first scene of Exode that I wrote last summer did not end up as the first chapter. When I started writing Exode my goal was to put a specific new twist on the usual roles Interventionists and Overseers. In earlier stories, it had only been the Overseers who would remove Earthlings from Earth if they became aware of the fact that Earth is under constant Observation. For Exode, I started out by writing a new scene that depicted Parthney as having the technological means to send an Earth woman off to a distant world where she would need to struggle to understand the Genesaunt civilization that has spread to many planets in the core region of our galaxy. More important than just the fact that an Interventionist could do such a thing was the fact that he did it because it made life easier for himself.....and doing so had interesting particular, it allows the Exode story to not get stuck on Earth, but rather, to move on to more fully explore the detailed inner workings of the Interventionists as a group.

Thus, my decision to endow Parthney with the power to exile people from Earth quickly led to a second twist in Exode's depiction of Interventionists. I'd long had the important (although vague) idea that the Interventionists are not simply renegade Genesaunts intent on violating the ethical laws of their culture, but rather, they exist because they perform an important function, and they would not exist unless the Huaoshy themselves insisted that Interventionists exist.

If the Interventionists are not just a simple band of renegades then in order to elevate them to equal stature with the Overseers there needs to be a complex inter-galactic Interventionist movement. To start sketching in some details of what this broader coalition of Interventionists consists of, I brought an alien species into Exode, the Fru'wu.

by ReverendStrone
Judged by human esthetic standards, the Fru'wu are the opposite of what we would call "warm and cuddly" much so that they go out of their way to not let humans see their true form. The Fru'wu evolved on a world in our galaxy and they had already developed a technologically advanced civilization by 7 million years ago, the point in time when the Huaoshy first arrived in our part of the universe. In fact, the Fru'wu were engaged in the process of slowly spreading outward from their home star system to nearby stars. Unfortunately for them, the budding interstellar civilization of the Fru'wu managed to destroy itself by unleashing a plague of destructive nanoscopic artificial lifeforms.

Left to themselves, the story of the Fru'wu would have ended at that point, but a few members of the Fru'wu species were preserved and successfully "cultured" on another planet of our galaxy. To make a 7 million-year-long story short, some descendants of those rescued Fru'wu eventually came to the attention of the "inter-galactic league of interventionists". Now, there is no such organization, but if there were, a candidate for membership would be the Nereids. The Nereids are a partially artificial lifeform with its biological origin in the Andromeda galaxy. The Nereids long ago became aware of the Huaoshy and rejected the idea of going down the same evolutionary path that the Huaoshy went down about a billion years ago. The Nereids dedicated themselves to proving that, regardless of their biological limitations, they could maintain a healthy civilization over the course of millions of years. Further, they have an interest in helping other species such as the Fru'wu do the same.

by Zapato
With respect to Interventionism, the Nereids are like humanity's grandparents. Based on their vast experience, the Huaoshy view biological lifeforms as the "scum of the universe", much in the way we might view mildew on a shower wall. According to the ethical precepts of the Huaoshy, they are obligated to help primitive species like the Nereids, the Fru'wu and we humans to transcend our biological nature, as the Huaoshy did long ago. The Nereids, acting as Interventionists, long ago helped some of the Fru'wu establish a technological civilization that is free of direct Huaoshy oversight. Some of those "liberated" Fru'wu then took it upon themselves to intervene into the affairs of other species in our galaxy such as we humans. The middle part of Exode is concerned with Parthney's growing understanding of how his work as an Interventionist agent on Earth was made possible by the wider Interventionist movement, particularly the Fru'wu and the Nereid Interventionists.

After Parthney becomes aware of the Fru'wu and the Nereids, he is forced to concern himself with their motivations and he must decide if their interventions into human affairs are actually beneficial. Perhaps what the Huaoshy have in mind for humanity is the wisest course...maybe the Interventionists will only make things worse for Earth! Such nagging questions provide some of the basis for the horror elements in Exode. Finding himself off in the Andromeda galaxy, Parthney eventually reaches the point where all his worrying about Earth and humanity seems futile. Even if he knew what was best for humanity, how could he have any real impact on the course of events on Earth?

Finally, in the final part of Exode, events that were initiated by the Nereids (with the Fru'wu as their henchmen) are reaching a critical culmination on Earth. A fundamental question must be asked: might the wisest course for Interventionists be to act as to slow the pace of technological advance on Earth? Interventionists like Parthney must confront the possibility that if humanity is to survive then the Interventionists must restrain themselves.

Are you a slave if you agree to do your master's bidding? The angst provoked by such questions is why the Huaoshy work so hard to make sure that primitive creatures like we humans remain ignorant of our origins. Exode is the story of how Parthney and Koch push their luck by struggling to learn the truth about human origins. The ending of Exode drops the questions raised by Parthney and Koch into the laps of we Earthlings.

Intervention: the Manual
I'm feeling a bit guilty for having completed a first draft of the first chapter of Exode without including any mention of Interventionists. Worlds such as Hemmal are designed to produce Interventionists, but Parthney departs Hemmal without knowing what he is getting himself into. He has heard talk of Earth, but no detailed information about Earth exists on Hemmal. However, what little he has heard provides Parthney with a tantalizing alternative to creation myth of the Prelands, even if most of the Buld who live on Hemmal view Earth as mythical.

After leaving Hemmal, Parthney quickly finds himself on the planet Oib (so he believes) where he finally realizes that traveling to Earth is actually possible. He learns of the long evolutionary history of humans on Earth and the great puzzle that provokes Interventionists and focuses their efforts: the Overseers act like a police force, watching over Earth and making sure that outsiders don't disrupt the natural course of events on Earth.

Chapter Two of Exode is about Parthney's journey to Oib. Chapter Three describes his time on Oib and I want readers to exercise their skepticism about both the Preland view of reality that Parthney grew up with on Hemmal and the tales of Earth that he hears while on Oib. Hopefully readers will feel a great sense of particular, I want Chapter Three to end without revealing when it is that Exode is taking place. Will Parthney arrive on Earth at some time in our past, in our contemporary world or at some time in our future? What will Parthney be able to accomplish on will he change our world? Perhaps most importantly, will the reader have anxiety about the consequences of Parthney's mission to Earth...will he help we Earthlings or just bring us grief?

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