Mar 22, 2013

Science Fictional Recursion

The Noÿs Reality and the Buld Reality.
In my previous blog post I described how a famous fictional creation of Isaac Asimov, Noÿs Lambent, figures in the backstory of Exode. Noÿs, a time traveler from the far future, helps bring our Reality, our specific timeline, into existence.

Originally Noÿs came to the 20th century and worked to speed the development of nuclear technology, leading to a future (The Foundation Reality) in which global warming never became a problem, but the Earth eventually became uninhabitable because its crust became dangerously radioactive. However, the alien Huaoshy then stepped in and caused another Reality Change, ultimately creating our timeline (the Buld Reality) and a world where global warming and sea level rise is a very real danger.

Global Warming in Science Fiction
The Noÿs Reality
Between the Foundation Reality and the Buld Reality was an intermediate step, the Noÿs Reality. From the perspective of we Earthlings, the Noÿs Reality was a dead end, a kind of transitional Reality that is part of a "Reality Chain", a linked set of Reality Changes leading to the world as we know it. In the Noÿs Reality humans are forced to abandon Earth, then after a couple of million years, Earth is re-populated by Prelands, hermaphroditic successors of we heterosexual humans. Noÿs is from a society far in our future where human sexual dimorphism has been engineered out of our species, but her people looked into their own future and saw the extinction of Humanity. Noÿs is not ready to hand Earth over to the Prelands and so even Noÿs wants to engineer a new Reality that is better than the Noÿs Reality.

The Noÿs Reality is of vital importance to the Huaoshy. According to their ethical precepts, worlds like Earth and their rich ecosystems are to be treasured and protected. Therefor, although the Huaoshy could devote a couple of millions of years to grooming the surface of Earth to make it become less radioactive, they would prefer a Reality in which there is never a nuclear catastrophe on Earth.

The Noÿs Reality allows the Huaoshy to become aware of the existence and importance of her two children (Thomas and Gwyned). Thomas, in particular is a critical thread that allows the Huaoshy to unravel the Noÿs Reality and replace it with a more desirable Reality. However, Noÿs and her nanites have the upper hand, so the Huaoshy must compromise and negotiate with Noÿs before they can work together to bring into existence a new Reality that is acceptable to both Noÿs and the Huaoshy.

Planet of the Apes
The Noÿs Reality and the Buld Reality are structurally very similar, as can be seen in the image at the top of this blog post. Using advanced technology of the far future, Noÿs was able to view alternative Realities and before traveling through time to the 20th century she was aware of the possibility that her mission, although designed to cause the Foundation Reality to come into existence, might fail, with the most likely alternative being the formation of a Reality that I call the Noÿs Reality.

Even though Reality Changes are constrained by temporal inertia, there can be situations where even very small changes imposed by time travelers can flip Reality between two quite similar Realities. After the Huaoshy cause the Noÿs Reality to replace the Foundation Reality, they are intrigued by the similarities that exist between the Noÿs Reality and the Buld Reality. The Huaoshy are puzzled as to why the Noÿs Reality came into existence rather than the more favorable kind of Reality that they were expecting.

Only slowly do the Huaoshy come to realize that Noÿs is present on Earth and strongly influencing the course of technology development during the 20th century. But it is worse than that. It turns out that in addition to Noÿs and the Huaoshy who are both actively working to shape the future of Earth, there are two additional unseen, yet powerful, forcing agents in play and they are also strongly effecting the course of events on Earth during the 20th century. All of these competing interests create a chaotic system that makes it hard to control Reality Changes.

As told in The Start of Eternity, the Huaoshy have to undertake a mop-up operation designed to identify an neutralize all of the positronic robots who were once in control of Earth. There is one more positronic robot on the loose who has escaped detection by the Huaoshy and there is also an unseen Nereid Interventionist agent on Earth who is quietly at working in the background. These competing forces create a complex structure of alternative attractors that are similar in both Noÿs Reality and the Buld Reality.

In this case, as indicated by the color coding in the diagram (image to the right), there are three "strange attractors" that govern the dynamics of both the Noÿs Reality and the Buld Reality.

1) The yellow-colored domain represents a likely future in which all of the glaciers on Earth melt due to a runaway human-induced greenhouse effect.

Warm Mars
2) The purple domain represents a future in which the hermaphroditic Prelands inherit the Earth and Humanity, as we know it, is thrown on the trash heap of evolution.

3) The pale blue part of the "strange attractor" in this diagram represents a future in which, with the help of the Buld, we Earthlings avoid catastrophic global warming on Earth. In a related twist of fate, Humanity also eventually manages to achieve global warming on Mars, converting it into a habitable world with an ocean.

In the Noÿs Reality, even though they have regained control of their secret Observer Base on the Moon, the Huaoshy find that they cannot control the fate of Earth. They recognize the need to create another Reality. Eventually the Huaoshy recognize that they need to establish a working relationship with Noÿs, otherwise attractor #2 (above) will become Earth's future and that will involve the surface of Earth becoming dangerously radioactive for millions of years.

To avoid such a future, Noÿs and the Huaoshy must work together: they can reach a compromise that will allow a more favorable reality to come into existence.

By the time readers reach the end of Exode, they are aware of these possible different futures (1-3, above), but it is not clear exactly how things will turn out for we Earthlings.

The Asimov Intervention
Previously, in The Start of Eternity, I had fun writing Isaac Asimov into the story of how the Huaoshy terminated the Foundation Reality. I imagined that the version of Asimov from the Foundation Reality was used by the Huaoshy to help bring into existence the Noÿs Reality. This was accomplished by taking Asimov out of the Foundation Reality at year 1947 and returning him to his past in 1939. When told that he is going to be taken into his own past, Asimov immediately began to plan and scheme to find a way to help his "younger self" in 1939.

The "older Asimov" from 1947 is recruited for a time travel mission that will take advantage of what he knows about the presence of a strange "woman" seen handing out advanced technology on Earth (this is actually a positronic robot, still working on Earth in opposition to the Huaoshy). The "older Asimov" is given access to advanced nanite technology so that he can create a disguise for himself. Arriving in 1939 from 1947, Asimov knows that his science fiction mentor John Campbell died (er, will soon die) in a tragic accident in 1940. Asimov first helps to create the Noÿs Reality (by helping the Huaoshy find and capture R. Rycleu) then he cleverly assumes the identity of Campbell. Campbell's wife is pleased with the sudden changes in her husband and offers no complaints.

Nuclear intensifier
As editor of Astounding, the "older Asimov" is able to work closely with the "younger Asimov" to convert his memories of the Foundation Reality into science fiction and publish many of the resulting stories.

As described in The Start of Eternity, within the Noÿs Reality, the "older Asimov" has access to large amounts of information about the course of events in the Foundation Reality because of transfer of memories to Asimov from a positronic robot. All of that information about the Foundation Reality that remains in the memory of the "older Asimov" functions as a catalyst for the creation of the "younger Asimov's" science fiction stories that are about positronic robots and the Foundation.

In the backstory of Exode, Noÿs is used by the Huaoshy to help bring about another Reality Change, the Change that ends the Noÿs Reality. The Huaoshy realize that in any Reality where Noÿs is allowed to live out her long life in the 20th and 21st centuries she will manage to accelerate the development of nuclear technology. In the short term, this prevents global warming, but in the long term it results in the surface of Earth becoming dangerously radioactive.

The Start of Eternity is fan fiction that explicitly involves characters that were created by Asimov. For Exode, I'm not even mentioning Noÿs in the text of the story, but I want to have some fun and slip into the story a cameo appearance by Asimov. Towards this end, Gwyned's half brother Thomas is a science fiction writer who knows Asimov quite well.

Noÿs is a serious problem for the Huaoshy and their plans for Humanity. Her body swarms with advanced nanites from the far future of Earth in the Mallansohn Reality. The nanites that Noÿs controls have been designed to automatically inactivate Huaoshy nanites. Her possession of these nanites makes it possible for Noÿs to avoid being found by the Huaoshy. However, the Huaoshy keep a close watch on the "older Asimov" who has, with the help of the Huaoshy, now assumed the identity of John Campbell.

In 1949, Thomas is a precocious 14 year old author of science fiction stories. He arrives at the office of John Campbell accompanied by his father, Andrew. Noÿs and Andrew are moving their family to New York in order to advance the writing career of Thomas. "Campbell" has already published several short stories by Thomas and the "older Asimov" is eager to meet this rising star of science fiction.

Original photo
During the meeting with Campbell, during what should be a nerd festival between Thomas and the "older Asimov", all hell breaks loose. Thomas and Andrew both carry inside their bodies some of the nanites from the far future. Those nanites react to the presence of a nanorobotic Observer who has been planted close to Campbell by the Huaoshy. Leaving Andrew and Thomas with Campbell, Noÿs and Gwyned have set out into the streets of Manhattan to go site seeing. They don't get far before Andrew uses his nanites to send an emergency message to Noÿs. Noÿs arrives to find bodies scattered around Campbell's office. The nanites from inside Andrew and Thomas have done battle against the nanites of the robot. Noÿs notices that the damaged robot is transmitting a distress call. Suspecting that the mysterious robot has alerted others who will soon arrive and unable to wake either Andrew or Thomas, Noÿs makes the decision to sacrifice Andrew. Noÿs destroys the robot, dissolving its remaining nanite components into dust. Before departing Campbell's office with her children, Noÿs is puzzled by the unusual nanites that are inside "Campbell's" body. This is her first exposure to the nanotechnology of the Huaoshy. Acting on a hunch that important information is stored in the "Huaoshy nanites", Noÿs quickly transfers all the nanites out of "Campbell's" brain and into Thomas. Noÿs carries Thomas out of the office and goes into hiding with her two children.

Later, Thomas regains consciousness and finds that his mind now includes nanite-generated memories from the "older Asimov" and two positronic robots (as explained in The Start of Eternity, the first of these robots (R. Fengtol) inserted its memories into Asimov's brain years before). During the "nanite battle" in Campbell's office, Thomas absorbed some of the nanites from the robotic Observer that was watching Campbell, from which he learns some aspects of how Overseers on the Moon have been searching for Noÿs. Thomas explains to Noÿs that she is in danger and needs to get away from New York. He also explains that he wants to stay in New York. Noÿs does not want to leave New York without Thomas, but he slips away, leaving a note for Noÿs telling her that he will be fine and that she should go to Australia with Gwyned. Thomas warns Noÿs that she will be at risk of attracting the attention of "Overseers" if she continues to push for the development of advanced nuclear technology. Remaining in New York and relying on Asimov's knowledge of the city (knowledge that has been transferred to Thomas along with the nanites that had resided inside the brain of the "older Asimov"), Thomas survives and avoids being found by the Overseers, but he finds himself having trouble integrating all the parts of his new group mind. He seeks out medical treatment.

Janet and Isaac
Thomas becomes the patient of Dr. Janet Jeppson. Over the course of several years, with the help of Janet, Thomas was able to establish a new functional mind that combined a significant amount of information from Asimov and the two robots with his own core personality. He resumes "his" science fiction writing career, which is now enlivened by nanite-generated memories from both the Mallansohn Reality and the Foundation Reality as well as some information about the future of the Noÿs Reality. By absorbing some nanites from the Observer robot, Thomas has been given a glimpse into the future and even a basic understanding of the Buld Reality, a possible alternative timeline in which global warming will become a serious technological challenge for Humanity. Thomas knows that the Overseers are desperately looking for a way to terminate the current Reality and bring into existence a new Reality that is more to their liking.

Thomas remains friends with Janet and through their shared interests in science fiction, Janet meets the "young Asimov". Through his contacts with Thomas in the 1950s, the "young Asimov" developed several new science fiction story ideas (including plot elements incorporated into The End of Eternity) and an interest in several real world technological issues such as global warming.

The brain of the "older Asimov" never recovered after Noÿs stripped the nanites out of "Campbell's" brain. Campbell's wife divorced him and his behavior became increasingly different than it had been during the time that nanites were in his brain and able to compensate for structural damage that had been done when a positronic robot tried to take over Asimov's mind (as told in The Start of Eternity).

In the Noÿs Reality, Andrew was captured and taken to the secret Huaoshy base on the Moon. Under constant questioning and nanite probing, Andrew dies after a few years on the Moon, never having revealed anything to the Overseers about Noÿs or her children.

January 1959
In the January 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, there was an essay by Asimov called "No More Ice Ages?" Asimov made the point that with human use of fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were increasing and those increases could lead to global warming, the melting of glaciers and sea level rise.

Such environmental topics were the subject of Our Angry Earth, published shortly before Asimov's death and between 1959 and 1991 Asimov published other articles and books that touched on carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. It is fun to imagine that Thomas was able to stimulate Asimov's interest in global warming through his close friendship and many conversations with Asimov.

Viewing Realities
By 1971 the Overseers were becoming increasingly desperate to find Noÿs. By this time, the Huaoshy had made a careful analysis of alternative Realities and come to the conclusion that in order to allow Earth to have a future in which the surface of Earth does not become dangerously radioactive it is necessary that Noÿs time travel once again into the past, to the time about 10,000 tears ago when the Fru'wu first put a teleportation pad on Earth. The mere existence of Noÿs in the 20th and 21st centuries always results in a technological disaster on Earth. Because of the great influence that Noÿs has, the Overseers refer to this as the Noÿs Reality. Finally realizing that the "older Asimov" lost his neural nanites and suffered brain damage, the Overseers perform an exhaustive analysis of the nanites and neurons that remain in "Campbell's" body. Through an exhaustive analysis of "Campbell's" neural networks the Huaoshy are able to access unconscious memories. This process results in the death of "Campbell", but the Huaoshy learn that Andrew's son Thomas had been at the meeting in Campbell's office in 1949. The Overseers then notice a pattern in pseudonyms used by science fiction authors that are variants on the name "Thomas" and eventually they track down Thomas, still living in New York. Working through Thomas, they finally manage to contact Noÿs.

After an extended period of distrust and negotiation, Noÿs and the Huaoshy work out their differences. By giving Noÿs access to the Huaoshy technology for viewing alternative Realities, Noÿs comes to agree that, for the good of Humanity, she must travel into the past one more time. There must be one last Reality Change.

Ekcolir is the first to be sent back in time, and he makes sure that the Huaoshy always keep control of their secret base on the Moon. Even though this prevents positronic robots from developing telepathy and time travel in Buld Reality, it does not eliminate the one remaining positronic robot who is protected by a personal "physiotime generator". Similarly,  Noÿs is kept within a Huaoshy time stasis field (the time travel device that is on the Moon) while the Buld Reality comes into existence. Noÿs and Thomas are then sent in time within the 20th century so that they can "fine tune" the new Buld Reality.

At the start of the Buld Reality, Noÿs is in a position similar to that of Senior Computer Twissell in The End of Eternity. Twissell could read about his own future actions as recorded in the "Mallansohn Memoir", a "diary of the future" written by Cooper while in the Primitive. Twissell had a copy of the Memoir even before Cooper was sent back in time to the primitive!  Similarly, Noÿs knows that at a future time in the Buld Reality she must travel back in time 10,000 where she will alter the course of development of civilization on Earth. She leaves herself a "message in time" that assures her that the Huaoshy have kept their side of the bargain in constructing a viable future for Earth. Noÿs is first sent into the 1930s of the Buld Reality where she meets Deomede, the Interventionist agent who exists in the Buld Reality as the "replacement" for Ekcolir. Noÿs and Deomede have a daughter, Gwyned, who is destined to be a messenger, an intermediary between Noÿs and Parthney.

The Buld Reality
Due to the inertia of time, the 20th century in the Buld Reality is very similar to the Noÿs Reality (later, I decide to call it the Ekcolir Reality). Two important differences are that Gwyned is sent away from Earth in 1964 and Noÿs is eventually sent back in time, to a point about 10,000 years in our past. To prevent any possible interference from the hidden positronic robot who still has not been found, the Huaoshy initiate a change in the dimensional structure of the universe right after Noÿs is sent back in time. This makes time travel impossible and also terminates the telepathic abilities positronic robots.

In 1971, Parthney arrives on Earth. Parthney's life and the story of Exode takes place entirely within the Buld Reality. All preceding Realities, including the Noÿs Reality, are backstory for Exode. In the Buld Reality the Huaoshy have never lost control of their secret Observer Base on the Moon and many events from previous Realities, such as the development of positronic robots, remain only as elements in the science fiction stories written by Isaac Asimov with the help of Thomas. However, some clues about the future do get passed from Noÿs to Gwyned and on to Parthney.

In the Noÿs Reality, Gwyned was 10 years old in 1949, the last time she saw her brother Thomas. In the Buld Reality, Gwyned never meets Thomas, but she knows he is a writer in New York. She knows that her brother is a fan of Asimov's robot stories, and that fact is among the information that she passes on to Parthney. In the Buld Reality the Overseers are able to insert Noÿs and Thomas into the 20th century and make use of them to help prepare Earth for the arrival of the Buld. In the Buld Reality, an Interventionist agent named Deomede is present on Earth before Parthney rather than Ekcolir. In fact, Gwyned is the daughter of Ekcolir and Noÿs in the Noÿs Reality, but in the Buld Reality, she is the daughter of Deomede.

By viewing the future and alternative Realities, the Huaoshy are satisfied that Earth is now in "a Buld Reality". A Buld spaceship is approaching Earth. However, Asimov has become woven into the fabric of both the now destroyed Noÿs reality and all of the potential Buld Realities. The Asimov that is born in 1920 of any Buld Reality is like a puzzle piece that must be brought together with the complementary puzzle piece that is Thomas and the memories of past Realities that he can carry into the Buld Reality.

In the Buld Reality, Thomas is sent back in time to 1940. Nanites from Thomas are moved into the brain of John Campbell in 1940, preventing his death in an accident. The nanites carry memories from "the older Asimov" and details about events in the Foundation Reality. Campbell is saved and does not die from his injuries sustained in an accident, but the nanites take over control of his mind from 1940 to 1949. In 1949 the nanites are withdrawn from Campbell's brain and returned to Thomas. During the 1940's the hybrid "Campbell" helps Asimov become a famous science fiction author. In the 1950s, Thomas becomes a close friend of Asimov and continues to influence his writing, particularly The End of Eternity.

The Message
In Exode, Noÿs confuses her daughter Gwyned by telling her a strange story. Noÿs claims that the popularity of ancient flood myths is directly related to a rise in sea level caused by atmospheric carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels. Within the Noÿs Reality there were no flood myths among the people of Earth and Noÿs knows that it was her intention to cause them to come into existence in the Buld Reality. Gwyned can't fathom her mother's interest in ancient myths. Gwyned is involved in plasma physics research and she believes that fusion energy can replace fossil fuels.

Sumerian flood myth
It is in the early 1960s when Gwyned receives from her mother the strange message linking flood myths to global warming. Noÿs mysteriously claims that her efforts to make nuclear energy available to Earthlings have been detected and thwarted by "Overseers" (a kind of global police force), so Earth will have to deal with global warming as a consequence of fossil fuel use. Noÿs insists that the only way for Earth to avoid a catastrophic rise in sea level is to work with the Buld, a mysterious clan of hermaphrodites. Unfortunately, Noÿs is unable to provide additional details about the Buld. Gwyned is told that her brother (Thomas) has written an unpublished science fiction story featuring hermaphrodites called the "Buld", a story that traces the history of the Buld from far in the past, through the present and into the future when the sea level is rising. Gwyned has previously been told that her brother is a writer living in New York City, but she has never met him. Fearing that her mother is insane, Gwyned tries to laugh off her mother's bizarre comments about "Overseers" and "Buld" as some kind of strange joke. As bizarre as the "strange message" from Noÿs seems to Gwyned, soon thereafter Gwyned finds herself teleported off of Earth and sent to Lendhalen where she lives with some Buld revolutionaries who are plotting to change the future of Earth. Gwyned realizes that her mother was not crazy and she passes on to Parthney what she can remember of what Noÿs said.

After arriving on Earth, Parthney tries to find Thomas, but in the Buld Reality Thomas was never able to do anything that would make him easy to track down, such as publish a "science fiction" story about the Buld. Parthney finally gets a chance to speak to Asimov at a science fiction convention and Asimov is able to put Parthney in contact with Thomas. By then, Noÿs has been sent back into the deep past where she creates conditions that lead to some of the "ancient" myths that define the Buld Reality. Thomas is able to provide Parthney with some useful information: details about the future arrival of the Buld spaceship at Earth, information that will ultimately allow for some technology transfer from the Buld to the Earthlings. Will the Earthlings be able to use that technology to prevent a runaway greenhouse effect on Earth and a catastrophic rise in sea level?

Related Reading: 2015 update.

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