Apr 5, 2013

Clones in Exode

I previously described Hemmal as a planet "where knowing your parents can have no possible benefit". I made that statement in the context of receiving help from one's parents to "get ahead" in life. Kach and Parthney, two major characters in Exode were born on Hemmal and they do not know who their parents were. That is normal for Hemmal.

Kach and Parthney were raise by pek, artificial lifeforms that normally do all the parenting of false Buld who are born on Hemmal. I'm forced to say "normally" because Kach provides an exception to this general rule by having a son (Boswei) and raising him herself. Boswei becomes the first person born on Hemmal who knows his parents.

False Buld
Not very many false Buld are born on Hemmal. It is theoretically possible for false Buld to arise spontaneously, but on Hemmal such things are not left to chance. The pek generally monitor (and frequently control) Buld pregnancies. For example, Kach is the first female born on Hemmal. Prior to the need for Kach, all the false Buld ever born on Hemmal were males. Like Parthney, those false Buld were all intended to be trained at places such as Lendhalen for missions on Earth as Interventionist agents.

The pek keep great records. For example, they have "on file" the genomes of everyone who has ever lived on Hemmal. They also have the technological means to produce a cloned individual who is genetically identical to any of the previous residents of Hemmal (or anyone else for whom they have the gene pattern).

I previously mentioned that in Exode, when Parthney finally does arrive on Earth, Janet Jeppson notices the close similarity between Thomas and Parthney. It turns out that Parthney is genetically identical to Thomas. How can that be?

Thomas is born on Earth and Parthney is born on Hemmal about 15 years later. When Noÿs is teleported to Klyz (see the timeline) she provides the pek with the genetic pattern of her son Thomas and shares with them a plan: when the Buld spaceship arrives at Earth, "Thomas", a carrier of the advanced nanites that Noÿs brought from the future, must be there to meet the Buld. The pek interpret this to mean that they must clone Thomas and have the clone on Earth when the Buld arrive. Parthney is a clone of Thomas and the pek make sure that Parthney arrives on Earth in the 20th century.

However, the situation is even more complicated than that, because Noÿs, as a time traveler, reaches Klyz about 10,000 years before Parthney is born. During the subsequent 10,000 years, the pek  produced multiple clones of Thomas and test how they respond to life on Hemmal. The pek discovered that these "copies of Parthney", like Thomas, are creative individuals who tended to have fun on Hemmal participating in artistic/cultural endeavors...and they never really wanted to leave Hemmal, even when told that they can go to Earth. When it was finally time to send Parthney to Earth, Kach was brought into existence as a woman who could efficiently push Parthney off of Hemmal and send him on his way towards Earth.

The Other Clone
One other clone figures in Exode. The pek are not the only source of clones. The Nereids have a fairly advanced level of technology and they can also produce copies of humans. When Kach arrives in the Andromeda galaxy she persistently investigates the Nereids, at first suspecting that the Nereids are the Creators. Parthney is "along for the ride" and he is carrying some of the special nanites that originated from Noÿs. I previously mentioned that some of the Buld develop a "Bimanoid Theory" which, in its form that appeals to Noÿs, says that the Creators are constantly lurking within every human. The Nereids have a similar theory and their history documents times when a few Nereids seem to have "channeled" the Huaoshy.

The nanites inside Parthney simulate such a "channeling" of information from the Huaoshy to the Nereids by way of Parthney. Noÿs, when looking into the future, saw the role that Kach must play in the Solar System. Parthney delivers a message to the Nereids that convinces them that Kach must be sent to Earth. Kach does not believe that she can learn anything useful about the Creators by going to Earth, but she agrees to go as long as she is given the "Parthney Option"...a way to escape from Observer Base. As was the case when Parthney made his escape from the Moon, the Nereids must arrange to "spring" Kach from Observer Base without alerting the Overseers to the fact of her escape. They make a clone of Kach and send the clone to Earth with Izhiun. When Kach completes her mission in the Solar System, Izhiun makes it look like Kach was killed, but it is the clone's body that is recovered while Kach is teleported safely out of the Solar System.

Avi Katz's Vision
What Makes Kach Tick
So, what makes Kach persistently seek contact with the Creators? I assume that unlike Parthney, there is nothing special about her genes. What is it in her environment that makes her special?

As mentioned above, Kach is the first woman born on Hemmal. For the unfolding plot of Exode, her experiences as a woman are important, particularly her desire to be a mother. However, Kach is on a quest to make known the unknowable: what makes her persist in that quest under conditions where nobody else around her can understand what drives her?

Part of "Bimanoid Theory" suggests that if a human does become intrigued by the mystery surrounding the Creators then the Creators can "step in" and suppress or terminate that curiosity. So, the question becomes: is Kach simply not subjected to any efforts to dissuade her from an obsessive desire to meet her makers or do the Huaoshy actively "step in" and encourage her to keep searching? Since Exode is told from the perspective of Parthney and Izhiun, this puzzle is never explicitly answered for readers.

Some Buld know about the evidence for biological evolution on planets like Earth. However, many Buld do adopt the religious beliefs of the Prelands. Even before leaving Hemmal, Parthney is exposed to "free thinkers" like Yandrey who are well aware of the fact that Earth has had an evolving biosphere for billions of years. Parthney is a skeptic: if there are Creators then why don't they show themselves? Parthney dismisses the matter from his thoughts, but Kach is not so easy to satisfy. Kach actively goes in search of the Creators while adopting the assumption that they have a reason for staying out of sight.

Nereid Intervention
When I wrote The Start of Eternity I was using a rather simplified conceptualization of the struggle between Overseers and Interventionists on Earth. A major goal for me in writing Exode has been to create a more detailed understanding of Genesaunt Civilization. In particular, I wanted to answer this question: where do Interventionists come from?

At the most fundamental level, the answer to that question is that interventionism springs from the natural desire of people to help others. From the time long ago when they were still biological organisms, the Huaoshy have always struggled to find just the right balance between 1) letting primitive species like humans solve their own problems and 2) giving a helping hand. Maintaining the continual competition between Overseers and Interventionists is how the Huaoshy allow "wiggle room" for some possible "interventionism" without allowing it to go too far and get out of control.

In Exode, the the story concerns an unusual situation where the balance between Overseers and Interventionists has been disrupted by a freak discovery: the invention of positronic robots by humans. Sorting out the implications of that discovery requires the Huaoshy to pay unusually close attention to events on Earth. Primitive creatures like we humans normally do not come to the attention of the Huaoshy, no more than individual blades of grass in a field are of concern to a horse rancher. However, if a poisonous weed starts growing in a pasture then a concerned rancher is likely to take action before all the horses are killed by the poison. In this analogy, because of the creation of positronic robots, we humans became something like a dangerous weed.

When positronic robots were created on the Moon, the Earth was left without its normal complement of Overseers, but some "backup" help could be brought in from outside the Solar System. However, the dynamic of cultural development on Earth was dramatically changed because there were no more human Overseers available for duty in the Solar System. Under these new conditions on Earth, the Nereid Interventionists were able to assure that the Earthlings began a slow climb towards development of a technological civilization on Earth. Essentially, what changed due to the loss of human Overseers was that important advances like the development of agriculture and use of writing could no longer be prevented from spreading on Earth.

In the Buld Reality, Noÿs negotiates a deal with the Huaoshy. As a consequence of that deal, time travel is used so as to make sure that the development of positronic robots is prevented and the Huaoshy are given back control of Observer Base on the Moon, but the Huaoshy agree to allow the Earthlings to rise from the stone age and establish a technological civilization, as occurred in the Reality when positronic robots existed. The Huaoshy agree to activate a "timer" that establishes a fixed point in time for Earthlings to begin making the transition from their long ignorance of the existence of Genesaunts towards having regular interactions with Genesaunt Civilization. Historically, such transitions only occur on primitive worlds like Earth when the Huaoshy feel that a young sapient species like humans can safely sustain a technological civilization. The Huaoshy do not feel that Earthlings are ready, but they agree to give humans on Earth a chance to prove themselves worthy of greater independence.

In an effort to increase the chances that Earthlings will survive their technological adolescence, the Huaoshy allow the Interventionists to start shifting Preland gene patterns to Earth. This process of genetically modifying the human population of Earth is complicated by the fact that the Huaoshy also obtain the genetic patterns of Noÿs and other humans from the far future. In Exode, the reader is never given a look at the far future of Humanity: the story ends with lingering doubts about our future.

When Noÿs is given the change to look into the future of the Buld Reality it is not yet clear exactly what form the future will take. As discussed previously, the structure of the Buld Reality is dominated by three attractors, three patterns that the future can adopt, but even very small changes in what people like Noÿs do can shift the course of the future between those three patterns. However, even given that uncertainty, the Huaoshy manage to "harvest" human genetic patterns from the far future.

The diversity of types of human genetic patterns available to the Huaoshy is never explained within Exode (however, see Kac'hin), but the presence of these genomes in the hands of the Huaoshy helps explain how the Huaoshy are able to improvise and work to convert Earthlings into a form of humans that has a chance to deal constructively with the powers and risks afforded by advanced technologies. The Nereid Interventionists are able to play an important role in facilitating the movement of useful gene combinations to Earth during the 15,000 year-long trip of the Buld spaceship from the Galactic Core to Earth.
Note: Ekcolir and Deomede are not clones, they are two versions of the same person in two different Realities.
Note: A clone of Gohrlay is subjected to destructive brain scan. I've also hinted that Gohrlay is a clone of a previous resident of Observer Base. I later decided to include additional clones of Thomas in Exode. Also, see The Atlantis Clones.

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