Oct 26, 2013

Motives and Mystery

I've been giving some thought to the backstory of Hana and her husband. Originally I had the idea that Hana was one of the Earthlings used by the Interventionists to introduce Preland genes into the human population of Earth.

Because of her endowment of Preland genes, Hana's daughter, Hilde, had an unusual (for Earth) brain structure. In the absence of pek nanites, her brain did not develop "normally". She was developmentally delayed.

The paternity of Hilde is a lingering mystery in Exode. The reader might decide that Deomede is the father of Hilde, although I imagine that the story is a bit more complicated than that.

Deomede has a problem. He wants to use Hana as "breeding stock", but Hana is a hard-working student and a virgin. With the help of nanites, pheromones, and some alcohol, Deomede is able to entice Hana into an intimate relationship with a classmate. When Hana discovers that she is pregnant, she and her classmate get married, but the boy is not at all convinced that he is the father of Hilde. Eventually he has genetic tests done that prove he is not Hilde's father. Unable to deal with Hilde's developmental problems, he goes off to graduate school, leaving town and leaving Hana to continue raising Hilde, alone. Hilde, as a single mom, also pursues a graduate degree. However, eventually Hana burns out, and when the opportunity arrives, Hana leaves Earth and Hilde behind. From that point on, Hilde grows up under the care of Betty who, using her shape-shifting ability, flawlessly assumes the role of "Hana".
genetic evidence

The Editor
Many years later, Izhiun reaches Earth and seeks out Hana's husband, who ends up being the "editor" for Exode. I've been trying to come to some decisions about exactly what happens to Hana's husband when he is suddenly provided with access to the memories of Parthney and the nanorobotic symbiont that carries memories from a positronic robot, Asimov, and Thomas. I've toyed with the idea that his mind might literally be blown and he might have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction, reality from fantasy.

I originally imagined that "the editor" of Exode would decide to present the story of Parthney, Thomas, Hilde and Izhiun as a science fiction story. However, I later started imagining that there might by some pieces of physical evidence that support the factual basis of "the secret history of Earth" that "the editor" suddenly becomes aware of. Might "the editor" try to gather all such available evidence and actively try to convince others that Parthney's story is more than fiction? This question got me thinking about other science fiction stories that have tried to present fiction as fact.

Fiction as Fact
The Exode Trilogy is full of adventure, mystery, puzzles and play. The "What if?" game I play asks, "what if we Earthlings suddenly became aware that aliens first visited Earth millions of years ago and those aliens created the human species?"

Some science fiction stories go a step beyond presenting an amusing "What if?" scenario. Sometimes fiction is presented as non-fiction.

Mary Shelly
Imaginary science is common in science fiction stories, but some science fiction authors play the game of asking the reader to pretend that an imaginary scientific discovery or technology is real.

For example, Mary Shelly invited readers to imagine that Dr. Frankenstein actually discovered a way to reanimate corpses, although she did not try very hard.

Sometimes speculative fiction authors make a special effort to blur the boundary between fantasy and "what if" science fiction.

In Dan Brown's novel "The Lost Symbol", he tried presenting a pseudoscience as science fact. The reader is asked to play the "What if?" came and imagine that recent scientific research suddenly confirms the validity of "noetic science".

Washington's time capsule
Brown had fun by inviting readers to imagine that far in the past people discovered how to use "mental powers" to control physical reality. Of course, those ancient "mental powers" were dangerous and so began a long-lasting conspiracy to both hide and keep alive the secret of "mental powers". It is fun to imagine that historical figures like George Washington carefully hid these mystical secrets "right under our noses".

Brown also had fun weaving Freemasonry fact and fiction into his story. The 33 degrees of "Scottish Rite" Freemasonry feature prominently as a plot device in "The Lost Symbol".

Similarly, Jack Vance long ago integrated the secretive and conspiratorial "Institute" into his Demon Prince novels. Members of "The Institute" ascended through a hierarchy of "degrees" to the highest position of the Institute, the "triune", rank 111. Vance's stories were set far in the future so it is not as if he expected readers to believe that the Institute existed, but he did hint that it might have had its origins in our time.

In an alternate reality, Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park could have been a fun exploration of the biology of extinct creatures revealed through biotechnology. He decided to start out with the premiss that any powerful new technology will be used for profit. In the case of ancient gene cloning, the clear path to profit was a Hollywood movie about lawyer-eating carnivores.
It turns out that DNA molecules cannot remain intact over the course of a hundred million years, so the idea of using ancient DNA obtained from Jurassic fossils to make dinosaurs is not realistic.

M. A. Foster imagined a newly designed human variant, "The Ler", who would be superior to we "garden variety" humans of today. For example, the Ler were engineered to have two thumbs on each hand.

In the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that many different varieties of humans have been designed during the past million years or so.

Hilde is an odd hybrid of Preland genes and the more pedestrian genes that we Earthlings carry inside us. At the time when "the editor" abandons Hilde and Hana, he only knows that he is not Hilde's father, and he feels guilt about not helping Hana with the hard work of raising a developmentally abnormal child.

Only later does "the editor" learn that Hilde was designed and crafted for the purpose of introducing new gene combinations to Earth.

In some ways "the editor" is relieved to learn that Hilde was an "experiment" and he was simple a convenient "bystander" to whom paternity could be linked. In Foster's story of "The Ler", conflicts arose between the Ler and we "old fashioned" humans. In Exode, "the editor" must decide if it is wise to reveal the existence of humans on Earth who have an extra chromosome that makes them suitable hosts for nanorobotic symbionts.

Right now I'm leaning towards the idea that "the editor" might contact such "mutants" and try to find a volunteer to help process information from the nanites that have been deposited in his brain. There could be a scene in which Hilde is offered the chance to become a "helper" of "the editor", but I imagine she refuses and goes off with Izhiun into space with the Buld who briefly visit Earth. The editor of Exode might then need to contact other Earthlings with an extra pair of chromosomes in search for a volunteer helper.

I like the idea that Earthlings with Preland-like chromosomes (and with the help of "the editor") would be given the opportunity to "adopt" nanite symbionts and have nanites available to guide the brain development of their children.