May 27, 2013

Parthney and the Ek'col

Hank's house in Vermont
About a year ago I started thinking about a new science fiction story that would reveal how we humans were designed, created and scheduled for replacement during the past quarter million years. The first two characters that I had in mind met on Earth and were called Henry Montpellier and Hana Davgon. Of course, "Hank" Montpellier was just a cover name for a mysterious visitor from a distant planet and I later decided that his birth name was Parthney. The spelling of Hana's name has since morphed to "Davyon" and the story was given the name Exode.

I originally imagined calling Chapter One of Exode "Vermont" since that was where "Hank" had a dramatic scene with Hana and that was from where he teleported her away to a distant planet (now called Klyz).

Parthney the Interventionist
secret agent Robert Lansing
My original plan was to follow Hana when she left Earth and allow readers to learn about Genesaunt civilization by way of her experiences. However, Henry Montpellier quickly captured my attention and before long I realized that Parthney would be the main character of Exode.

In a very real sense, Parthney became my version Gary Seven since I decided to equip Parthney with teleportation technology similar to that depicted in the Star Trek episode Assignment: Earth.

I can easily imagine Robert Lansing playing the role of secret agent James Bond, but it would be laughable to cast Parthney as a shrewd and tough agent. I've previously had some fun mocking Parthney in his role as an Interventionist agent. In fact, Parthney was sent off to Earth with the expectation that he would bumble around on Earth and be captured by the Overseers.

Parthney (to the right); Reginal (center)
Garage Band Parthney
Picture a kid down the street who dropped out of high school and who spends his days playing music in his parent's garage with his buddies...that's a good first approximation of Parthney as a young man on Hemmal. Snicker all you like: I feel no obligation to equip Exode with a conventional science fiction hero.

On the planet of Parthney's birth there is no real concept of a "rock star". First of all, nobody on Hemmal has ever heard of Rock and Roll music. Second, there is only one other human on Hemmal and she's not a fan of Parthney's style of music. However, the young Parthney is something like the Hollywood stereotype rock star in that he seems to always have a pretty girl on his arm.

I do mean "seems". Parthney is in his 60s before he finally "gets the girl". Up until then, his sexual partners are an odd collection of robots, other assorted artificial lifeforms and a surgically altered member of the Buld Clan.

Parthney starts climbing out of his adolescence, not when he is kicked out of his parent's basement, but, rather, when he is kicked off of his home planet. Parthney never actually gets to meet his parents since he is a clone and his parents are long dead. His birth mother is Reginal, a pek.

What is Parthney's crime that gets him booted off Hemmal? Making fun of musical conventions of the Prelands. The Prelands take their music seriously and they view Hemmal as their world and they insist that the Buld behave like guests. While living on Hemmal, Parthney is known as a "false Buld", which means he is viewed a mutant member of the Buld Clan. In fact, Parthney's genetic background is more complex than that, but he is one of only two humans on the planet. The term "human" is a problem in this context: more specifically I should say "humans who are genetically similar to Earthlings".

Although, it must be said that the Buld are almost human...they have an extra pair of chromosomes not found in we Earthlings. And the Prelands are Human Version 2.0, the next in the long line of primates that have been designed and crafted by the pek. The Prelands were designed to replace we humans. Hemmal is a convenient planet where Parthney can be born and grow up speaking English.

When Parthney leaves Hemmal he is on his way to Earth. If Parthney can be said to have a mission in life it is this: he was created so that he could play a role in giving we Earthlings a chance to survive. Originally, it was our fate to become extinct and be replace by Prelands.

Our chance for survival was won by Parthney's mother, a time traveler from the far future of Earth. Just as the name "Gary Seven" is never mentioned in Exode, the name of Parthney's mother is also not included in the pages of Exode. However, I don't mind saying -here- that Parthney's genetic mother is Noÿs, a character from Asimov's time travel novel The End of Eternity.

As described in The Start of Eternity, Noÿs is living in the 20th century when the Huaoshy have their opportunity to put the positronic robots out of the time travel business and regain control of Observer Base on the Moon.

The Ek'col
While writing The Start of Eternity I imagined that Noÿs and Harlan would live out their lives together in 20th century Earth. Later, while developing Exode, I decided that Harlan would be captured by the Overseers and Noÿs would go on to have two children fathered by Ekcolir/Deomede. Ekcolir and Deomede are the same person, they just exist in two different Realities.

Noÿs and Ekcolir have a son who they name Thomas. Parthney is genetically identical to Thomas. Parthney is interesting genetically because both Noÿs and Ekcolir have unusual genes. Noÿs is from 10,000,000 years in the future along the timeline of the Mallansohn Reality. Ekcolir is an Ek'col. The Ek'col are a variant of the human species that was designed specifically by the Huaoshy to be able to  breed with Noÿs and produce a male descendant.

As discussed previously, there are some major biological differences between Noÿs and Earthlings of the 20th century. Noÿs is from a population of humans where there are no males, only females and hermaphrodites. During her negotiations with the Huaoshy, it was agreed that Noÿs would not remain on Earth past 1974. However, while using Huaoshy "Reality viewing" technology, Noÿs selected a Reality in which she saw her son welcoming a Buld spaceship to Earth in the year 2012.

In order for Noÿs to have a son, the Huaoshy created the Ek'col. There are several genetically distinct types of human in Exode:
1) Earthlings
2) the Overseers are a genetically modified variant of Homo neanderthalensis.
3) the Buld Clan; specialized for space travel
4) the Kac'hin
5) the Prelands; designed to replace we Earthlings
6) the Ek'col

The Ek'col were designed after the Huaoshy realized that positronic robots had invented time travel. The Buld and the Kac'hin already existed, but they were heavily utilized to help prepare Earth for the Buld Reality. All three of these human variants were provided with some of the genetic features of Prelands, most noticeably, they are hermaphroditic (although the Ek'col are not exclusively hermaphrodites). The Buld were designed to specialize in travel between stars using spaceships that travel just below the speed of light. The Kac'hin were designed to function as humanoid "puppets" that allow the Huaoshy to interact directly with humans (this is important in The Start of Eternity). Both the Buld and the Kac'hin have extra pairs of chromosomes compared to we Earthlings. However, mutant Buld and Kac'hin can be born who lack those extra chromosomes. During the past 15,000 years quite a few "false Buld" have been sent to Earth as Interventionist agents.

The Kac'hin were created on the planet Luk'ru in the Andromeda galaxy. Parthney, Kach, Boswei and Izhiun all get to interact with some hermaphroditic Kac'hin on Luk'ru. Kach is the only "false Kac'hin" in Exode.

Exode does not show the home world of the Ek'col, a planet which is populated mostly by hermaphrodites. The Ek'col were designed to have androdioecy. The Ek'col have a large collection of gene combinations derived from Noÿs. Also, the Ek'col have some phenotypic features that differ from those commonly found among we Earthlings. The most obvious anatomical difference is that that the Ek'col have 4 fewer teeth than we Earthlings.

Exode includes two Ek'col/human hybrids who are the children of Noÿs. Gwyned is the daughter of Deomede and Noÿs. Phenotypically female, she has no interest in males. Born in 1939 and growing up on Earth, Gwyned is not very happy.

When Gwyned is teleported off Earth and sent to Lendhalen, she is exposed to a powerful magnetic field that is designed to remove nanites from her body. She learns that she has lived her entire life on Earth with nanite symbionts in her body that have disguised the fact that she has unusually small finger nails and no toe nails. When Parthney arrives at Lendhalen he has the same experience. As the son of Ekcolir and Noÿs, Parthney is Gwyned's sister.

Parthney at Lendhalen
When Parthney first meets Gwyned at Lendhalen, she is working in her laboratory and wearing gloves that hide her hands. She notices that Parthney has finger nails like her own, but she hides from Parthney the fact that they both share this unusual anatomical feature.

Noÿs, from 10,000,000 years in the future, has no finger or toe nails and fewer teeth than we Earthlings. While interacting with humans in her distant past, her futuristic anatomy is disguised by by nanite symbionts that she carries in her body. The Ek'col were designed so as to make sure that hybrid children of Noÿs and an Ek'col male retain the ability to host the type of nanite that Noÿs brought with her from the future.

When Parthney reaches Klyz he is provided with new "Noÿs nanites" that allow him to function on Earth as an Interventionist agent without his unusual anatomy being noticed.

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