Dec 8, 2013

Connecting the Asimovs

The Exode Trilogy began innocently enough. I was motivated by the fact that Isaac Asimov was taken from us before he had the chance to write a Foundation saga novel depicting events following the story told in his novel Foundation and Earth. Originally, when he began the Foundation stories, Asimov developed the idea that Humanity was to reside within a "humans only" galaxy. After a hiatus of thirty years, when the original Foundation Trilogy was finally extended, Asimov raised the specter of aliens who would arrive from beyond our galaxy. Then, sadly, Asimov was gone and we were left with...silence.

by Eduardo Tarasca
One of the tricks that Asimov played in his Foundation saga was to make it possible for there to be "lost" planets within our galaxy. In particular, the positronic robot Daneel arranged for Earth to be removed from maps of the galaxy and so our planet came to exist only as a world of myth and legend for the people of the Galactic Empire.

In The Foundations of Eternity, the first book of the Exode Trilogy, I extend this idea of "lost worlds" to include the presence of about 20 hidden planets in our galaxy each of which has its own native population of technology-wielding life forms. As long as Daneel controls the galaxy, those 20 worlds exist as little more than nature preserves, hidden from view, their cultures bottled up as if locked behind zoo walls.
Able to view Realities, able to leap over eons of time, built like a force-field latrine...

The Exode Trilogy became a little more convoluted when I decided to bring time travel into the story. Asimov suggested the idea that positronic robots had played a role in establishing Eternity. So, positronic robots used time travel to make sure that humans dominated our galaxy, but at the point in future history where Asimov left the Foundation story hanging unfinished, Daneel was still playing out the end game in his two great plans for the Galaxy.

One plan was to perfect the Second Foundation and establish a new Galactic Empire that would be  guided by Second Foundationers with mentalic powers. Daneel's other plan was to form Galaxia, a galaxy-spanning group mind. How could either or both of these 20,000 year long projects allow Daneel to satisfy his programming and prevent harm from coming to Humanity?

I wanted to include Asimov's character Noÿs Lambent (from his novel The End of Eternity) in the Exode story. Noÿs is a time-traveling secret agent from 10,000,000 years in the future who is "built like a force-field latrine"...I could not resist having her appear in the sequel to Foundation and Earth.

Here is a sentence from The End of Eternity that I find intriguing: "Left to itself, mankind would not have learned the truth about Time before their technological advances in other directions had made racial suicide inevitable". So, if mankind was not left to itself, then what else is there to act and intervene and save our species from "racial suicide"? This intriguing question is explored in the Exode Trilogy.

Viewing Realities in the 111,394th century
Here is what Noÿs says: "...we are not alone in the Galaxy. There are...other intelligences..." Noÿs is on a mission to end time travel, to push Humanity off of Earth and move our species to a greater destiny out among the stars. She must destroy the Reality of Eternity, the Reality of the Malansohn time loop, and bring into existence a Reality of Humanity's Galactic Empire, the Foundation Reality.

Imagine Isaac Asimov as a man living in the 20th century of the Foundation Reality, a century that gives rise to an industry devoted to the construction of positronic robots as depicted in Asimov's robot stories.

The Early Asimov
The Exode Trilogy became much more twisted when I decided to write Asimov into the story as a character.

Imagine a young Isaac Asimov, living in the Foundation Reality. This is an Asimov who sold a few science fiction stories, but who never had a mentor and who never successfully established himself as a leading science fiction writer of the "golden age". During his 20s, he drifted away from his first love (speculative fiction) and gradually learned the crafts of investigative reporting and nonfiction science writing.

The Asimov Reality
Reality Chain
In The Exode Trilogy Isaac Asimov travels back through time from 1947 to 1939 and meets himself. How many of us, given such an opportunity and knowing the future, might try to provide some guidance to our younger self? Asimov never hesitates to do so! The older Asimov becomes the mentor of his 19 year-old self. He does so by pretending to be John Campbell (after Campbell's tragic death in 1940).

Asimov's excursion through time brings into existence the Asimov Reality which is part of a Reality Chain that leads next to the Ekcolir Reality, a Reality in which Noÿs is able to view many alternative Realities and select the Buld Reality (the universe as we know it) as the best future for Humanity.

Species Suicide

Thomas, Ekcolir and Trysta initiate the Buld Reality
In the Asimov Reality, like the Foundation Reality before it, Earth's surface becomes dangerously radioactive. The Ekcolir Reality (which I originally called the Noÿs Reality) has its own problem: Earth goes through catastrophic global warming and sea level rise.

If "left to itself", Humanity might have a chance to muddle through such self-inflicted wounds. However, we are not alone.

The alien Huaoshy, originating a billion years ago in a distant galaxy, "recently" brought our species into existence and they have no intention of allowing tool-using apes to despoil Earth.  If "left to itself", Humanity will be replaced and a new species, the hermaphroditic Prelands, will inherit the Earth.

The Huaoshy long ago transcended their biological existence and they exist as a form of artificial life in the sedronic domain. Their clients, the pek, reached Earth 7,000,000 years ago and began the process of creating a primate that can be trusted to wield advanced technology without risk of destroying itself.

Noÿs (using the cover name "Trysta" during the time she lives in the 20th century) must collaborate with the Kac'hin to bring about one last Reality Change that will give Humanity the chance of not suffering through either a nuclear or climatic catastrophe while achieving for our species a peaceful future among the stars. That collaboration brings into existence the Buld Reality.

The Later Asimov
Asimov becomes a time traveler after he has a close encounter with a positronic robot who has traveled back to the 20th century from the future. Some of the robot's memories are transferred into Asimov's brain when nanite components from the robot take up residence inside Asimov.

In the Buld Reality, the world as we know it, there is only one copy of Isaac Asimov, so how does "our Asimov" become aware of events in the Foundation Reality?

Thomas. Thomas is the son of Noÿs and Ekcolir. As an Ek'col, Ekcolir is able to have children with Noÿs who is an Asterothrope. Thomas, Noÿs and Ekcolir are all brought over into the Buld Reality from the previous Reality. In the Ekcolir Reality the older time traveling Asimov dies tragically and the swarm of nanites that had been residing in Asimov are then transferred to the 14 year old boy, Thomas.

Twissell needed Andrew as a tool to prepare Cooper for life in the Primitive. Noÿs was trained as the tool that could sabotage Andrew's loyalty to Eternity and transform him into the means to end Eternity.

Grean the Kac'hin
Similarly, Grean the Kac'hin needed a tool that would shift the prejudices of Noÿs and allow her to collaborate with the Huaoshy and make it possible to bring peace to Earth and create a future for Humanity among the stars. Noÿs was the perfect tool to open Andrew's heart and play his own primal emotions against his training as an Eternal. Similarly, Ekcolir and Thomas are the perfect tools to manipulate the maternal instincts of Noÿs and defeat her distrust of the Huaoshy.

Thus, as foreseen by Grean, the time traveling Thomas steps out of the mists of Time and into the Buld Reality and targets the unsuspecting Asimov. Thomas carries nanites that resided inside Isaac Asimov for about a decade in the Ekcolir reality. The information content of those nanites includes details about the formation of an "all human" Galactic Empire in the Foundation Reality. In the Buld Reality, Thomas makes sure that Campbell mentors Asimov and helps Asimov develop stories about the Foundation and positronic robots. He does so with the help of advanced Kac'hin nanites that migrate out of Thomas and take up residence inside Campbell.

Janet Jeppson
After Isaac's reputation as a science fiction author is well established, the "Thomas nanites" withdraw from Campbell's body and return to the body of Thomas. During the years when Thomas was without his nanites, he was hospitalized and studied as a delusional patient at several institutions in the New York City area. Eventually, Thomas became a patient of Janet Jeppson.

In the Buld Reality, the new "analogue" of Ekcolir is Deomede. Noÿs and Deomede have a daughter named Gwyned. Gwyned knows that she has a (half) brother named Thomas who is a science fiction writer. Because of her unusual genetics, Gwyned does not "fit in" as a member of the human civilization of 20th century Earth. Eventually, Gwyned is teleported off of Earth and then she and Parthney become acquainted at Lendhalen.

Noÿs views the Buld Reality
As told in Trysta and Ekcolir, while viewing the Buld Reality from within the Ekcolir Reality, Noÿs is able to see Thomas and Parthney together at Observer Base. Noÿs has no deep understanding of who this "young version of Thomas" is (Parthney), but it is clear that in the Buld Reality there needs to be "two copies of Thomas" present in the Solar System in 1984.

The pek produce a series of "Thomas clones" on Hemmal, perfecting the means to make sure that one such clone will be an Interventionist agent on Earth in the late 20th century. By the time Parthney is born, Noÿs has been dead for 10,000 years, but her memories live on as a nanite symbiont inside the robot Syon.

Syon has lived at Lendhalen for the entirety of its 500 year existence as an Interventionist training base. When Parthney arrives at Lendhalen, Syon tells him about Asimov's fateful contact with a positronic robot in the Foundation Reality and how nanites were transferred from the robot into Asimov, carrying memories of the future of the Foundation Reality.

Syon and Parthney at Lendhalen
Syon explains to Parthney that those nanites later transferred into Thomas, a man who has traveled through time and now exists on Earth in Parthney's Reality. Parthney is skeptical of everything he hears from Syon. Finally, one day Syon mysteriously says, "Thomas, meet Izhiun on the Mall." Parthney is mystified, but can get no more information from Syon.

Gwyned tells Parthney that she has a half brother named Thomas, a writer of science fiction.

When Parthney goes to Earth, in the back of his mind is what he has heard from Syon and Gwyned about Asimov and Thomas and positronic robots and time travel, but he is more concerned about the details of his official mission.

Daveed the Luk'ie by Thomas
writing as Saul Greek
Eventually, Parthney does try to find the mysterious Thomas. His search leads Parthney to the door step of Isaac Asimov. This is 1977 and Asimov is recovering from a heart attack, but Parthney gets to speak to Janet.

Since Parthney is a clone of Thomas, Asimov's (now) wife Janet recognizes the physical similarity between Thomas and Parthney. That recognition allows Janet Asimov to trust Parthney and she gives him a manuscript that Thomas once gave to Isaac Asimov. Included in that manuscript (a science fiction story called "Daveed the Luk'ie") is mention of Hana and her son Izhiun, born in the Andromeda galaxy.

Parthney is surprised...he already knows Hana, and he teleports her off of Earth. This does make it possible for Hana to eventually meet Parthney's son Boswei. They have a son Izhiun.

2012 - the Buld reach Earth
In due course, Izhiun reaches Earth and does meet Thomas on the Washington Mall when the Buld spaceship lands on Earth.

What is the reason for Asimov's continued importance in the Buld Reality?

Noÿs has warned Thomas that catastrophic sea level rise is a serious danger for the future of Earth. Thomas believes that Earthlings must be prepared to seek help for the problem of global warming when the Buld arrive at Earth in 2012. Thomas successfully works to interest Asimov in green house gases, global warming and sea level rise. Asimov writes about these topics long before most Earthlings are aware of these looming problems.

"The dangers that face the world
can, every one of them,
be traced back to science"
Another Asimov
In the Ekcolir Reality, Thomas is "infected" by three different types of nanites (Kac'hin nanites, positronic robot nanites and Observer nanites). The Kac'hin nanites help keep Thomas healthy and slow his rate of aging. Later, in the Buld Reality, when Isaac Asimov has heart surgery in 1983, Thomas sends "medical nanites" into Asimov's body in an attempt to aid his recovery. Thomas is surprised to find that there are already nanites inside Asimov, nanites of an advanced type that are a mystery to Thomas.

At this time, Thomas is well aware that Parthney has been trying to make contact. Finally, Thomas contacts Parthney and they discuss the implications of the advanced nanites that are inside Asimov. Parthney was sent to Earth with two objectives: 1) try to learn the plans of the Overseers and how they will act when the Buld arrive at Earth, and 2) try to identify the suspected Nereid agent(s) on Earth and learn their objectives.

Asimov's journey to the Andromeda galaxy.
Parthney suspects that the nanites inside Asimov are either Overseer nanites or Nereid nanites. Parthney teleports a "copy" of Asimov to Klyz so that the Fru'wu can try to understand the origin of the advanced nanites. Eventually the Fru'wu report that they have identified the nanites inside Asimov as Nereid nanites. For years, those nanites were driving Asimov to superhuman feats of authorial stamina.

A "second copy" of Asimov, now with the Nereid nanites extracted from his body, remains on Earth. This Asimov's health rapidly declines without support from the Nereid nanites.

Asimov returns to Earth in 2017
Thomas shifts many of his nanites inside Asimov, allowing Asimov to recover from the surgery. The nanites from Thomas have an influence on Asimov's writing. Asimov "goes for broke" and links Daneel from his robot novels into the Foundation saga, as published in Foundation and Earth.

Later, when Parthney is teleported back to Klyz, he finally meets the "copy" of Asimov who was teleported off of Earth. Asimov is intrigued by the prospect of going to the Andromeda Galaxy in search of the Creators.

Having a copy of Asimov who can be cured of all his ills and sent traveling across the stars provides an opportunity for Asimov's later return to Earth. I've previously explored options for how to provide evidence in support of the story told in the Exode Trilogy. The magazine cover to the left is a whimsical fantasy about a star-hopping Asimov's dramatic return to Earth.

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