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Jun 23, 2013

Thomas

Precocious Realist
When one-year-old Thomas began speaking his mother was not surprised. She had long been in nanite-mediated deep communication with her son, a habit that they had developed while he was still gestating.

(Reminder: Thomas is born in the Noÿs Reality. He grows up as described in this blog post. Eventually, along with Noÿs, he slips into the Buld Reality which is our Reality, the world as we know it.)

Trysta, sketched by Thomas when he was 28 months old
At age two Thomas discovered that charcoal can be used for drawing. This time his mother became concerned about his precocious skills because Thomas sketched her at work using her nanorobotic Reality viewing implant. In his sketches, she looked like some kind of witch casting spells...Thomas was gently asked to find another model for his artistic impulses.

Right at that time, his sister was born. Thomas finally understood the source of the voice that had been growing increasingly loud in his head and the little siblings quickly became inseparable.

Thomas' childhood home in Wales
Parents and sister
Thomas knew his parents by the names Trysta and Merion Iwedon, which gave no hints as to their real identities. As children growing up in Wales, Thomas and his sister Gwyned were full-time playmates and they had little interaction with other children.

Writing
When he was three years old Thomas could read as well as a school boy. He found a copy of "Liffe Chain" by Hortence Yurnstrew at the local library and fell in love with the idea of a "wizard" who had the task of finding elf babies who were mistakenly born to humans.

When four, Thomas started writing stories, often inspired by the mystery of what his father did when he was away from home. His audience was his sister. The main characters in these stories were Anna (modeled after Gwyned) and the not otherwise named "Ma" and "Pa". Anna always knew when some boy or girl was in danger in Codybren Forest, the wild tract behind her house. First, Anna would have to get the attention of Ma, who was always slipping off in a daze and viewing her daydreams. Anna would explain to Ma the tense situation that needed fixing and then Ma would fire up the radio and call PA. Next came an obligatory struggle to convince the skeptical Pa to go investigate the latest crisis. Pa, the Codybren Warden, would bumble around the forest for a while while Anna went off on her own and fixed the problem. Upon returning home, the ever-distracted Ma, who never noticed when Anna went out, would congratulate PA on a job well done.

Auntie Smith
photo by Greg Gawlowski
Outside of his immediate family, "Auntie Smith" was the other major influence on the young Tom. Of course, "Smith" was a cover name and there was no family relationship between Tom and his "auntie". "Smith" wasn't even human.

After spending time with Thomas and Gwyned and reading several of Anna's adventures in Codybren Forest, Ms. Smith realized that Thomas had some degree of telepathic contact with his sister. Rycleu told Thomas the story of how a "mechanical man" gave a little girl the power to "see with her mind". Thomas shrugged and explained, "Mommy gave Gwyned mindvoice and mindsight."

Rycleu held up a hand-written copy of one of Thomas' Codybren Forest adventures and gently reminded Thomas, "Most people would not like the idea that a little girl can see distant wolves with her mind."

Thomas objected, "It's just a fairy story."

Rycleu shook that off. "No, Tom, it is quite plain that you were writing about your sister and the adventures that you two create together in your thoughts. There is danger if others realize how different you two are."

At that time, Thomas abandoned his Codybren Forest stories. He began a new series of tales that was also set in his native Wales, but time shifted into the far past. His "Master of Iron" stories featured the struggle of Ovik Ifan against the Romans. In a raid on Ovik's village, the Romans killed his wife and took away his young son and daughter. Ovik then became the organizer of a ragtag gang of bandits. After steadily building up his assault force over the course of a decade, Ovik ordered an attack on a Roman stronghold and freed his son from his Roman captors. Ovik's son, only called "boy", "the scribe" and "son of Ovik" in the stories, had been taught to write by the Romans.

Now freed and in hiding, he chronicles the adventures of Ovik's band of rebels and their ongoing guerrilla warfare against the Romans. Ovik's son was born under an enchanted star and he has at his command the magical powers of the forests, streams and hills. Dismissed as a bookish scribe by his father's soldiers, he secretly aids them in their struggles against the Romans who have come to strip metals from Ovik's native land. Thomas, still insisting on inclusion of a "Gwyned analog" in his stories, describes "the scribe" as constantly scheming to travel to Rome where he believes his mother and sister were taken by the Romans. During this period, he always wrote "by Thome Jeket" on his manuscripts.






The Miners of Earth
When Thomas was five he quickly exhausted the ancient history resources of the local library and began tasking his parents with finding him better research materials when they were off on their frequent trips away from home.

When he turned seven, Thomas switched genres and started on his first science fiction story. Even at this tender age, through his reading Thomas knows that the Earth is billions of years old.

He starts The Miners of Earth with its main character, Mary Nova Goidel, arriving at Cambridge University. While at Girton College, Mary hears a lecture by Arthur Holmes explaining how radioactive isotopes can be used to date rocks.

In the audience for the science lecture is a strange young man who catches Mary's "eye". Sensing an odd connection to the man, Mary tries to find him in the crowd after the lecture, but he seems to evaporate into thin air.

Girton College
Four years later Mary is hired as the teacher in the small school at Wenvoe. Arriving in the sleepy village at the start of a new school year with little more than the clothes on her back and the job offer letter from the local school superintendent, Mary learns that most of her students are boys, the sons of prospectors who continue to prowl and exploit the depleted and officially closed mines of the area.

Mary sinks into a mild depression, feeling isolated in the tired rural village and wondering why most of her students seem so strangely quiet and reserved.

Besides the school, there are few other going concerns in Wenvoe. The semi-retired Dr. Nader still maintains a medical clinic, but more often than not her patients are livestock on the nearby farms. Most of the time Dr. Nader can be found in the town library working on a multi-volume history of Wales.

The only remaining business in the village is the DeCosmo Trade and Supply Depot, located in the old rail depot on the abandoned rail line that used to service the once thriving mines of the district. To Mary's surprise, she learns that the proprietor of the Supply Depot, Malin Crunn, is the strange man who she glimpsed at the Holmes lecture four years previously. With little else to do, Mary spends an hour or two each day chatting with Malin.

DeCosmo Trade and Supply Depot
Mary learns that Malin is well educated and devoted to the welfare of the Depot's patrons who are mostly the local prospectors and their "families". As the school superintendent, Malin is Mary's boss, but he is seldom seen around the school. The Depot's stock boy, Jack, helps out at the school and the library doing maintenance work and cleaning.

Over the course of several weeks, Mary can't figure out where most of her students, the prospectors or Malin live and she never sees any of their wives. Pressed hard by Mary for answers to these mysteries, Malin only admits to not being married. Mary asks, "Why are there so few women around here?"

Malin shrugs and a pained grimace appears on his face. He mutters quietly, "We seem to scare off most women."

Mary laughs. "You're such a shy man." She winks at Malin. "I get the feeling that it is you who is afraid of women."

Malin says rather gloomily, "I'm just afraid for women."

Mary laughs nervously and feels a tingle up her back. She comments, "When I moved in I found some old letters in a drawer addressed to a Miss Wiley...was she the former school teacher?"

Malin nods. "Aye. She lasted two years."

Mary's favorite game had become teasing Malin about how dead and dull Wenvoe was. "Fancy that, a young woman who lasted two whole years in this ghost town!"

Malin ignores her flip commentary and sinks deep in thought. There is a long pause in the conversation, during which Mary looks through a rack of women's clothing that Malin had just brought in to the Depot...all in Mary's size. Malin finally frowns then shrugs and he mutters, "I found her at Sumerville College."

Oppressed by Malin's dark mood and terse replies, Mary doggedly makes an effort to engage Malin in further conversation. She says rather brightly, "Oh, that's the school of Vera Brittain, a writer I just discovered. My mother suggested that I attend Sumerville, but my aunt Jane's opinion won out and so for me it was Girton."

Malin seems surprised and asks rather pointedly, "Your aunt?"

"Both my aunt and my mother are very clever and opinionated. While growing up, I often felt like I had two mothers who never agreed on anything."

"Hmmm...is that your cousin Diana's mother?"

Mary is surprised. "You know Diana?"

Malin nods. "Yes. She's at Newnham."

"That's right, or she was. I'm afraid I got so busy I lost track of her progress. Last I heard she was trying to arrange some post-graduate research. But tell me, how do you know Diana? Did she also apply for the teaching job here?"

Annoyingly, Malin just gives his head a little shake and he will say no more about Diana. Mary returns the conversation back towards Wenvoe. "Was Miss Wiley not happy here?"

Malin looks at the well-worn Depot floor and scuffs his foot on the protruding corner of a warped board. "She was not a suitable choice."

"You regret having hired her?" Malin just shrugs. "Was she a good teacher?" He nods but then he will say no more.

Mary observes, "My salary here is twice that of my other job offers and I get a big furnished house at no rent and you've never let me pay you for anything I get here at the Depot. Do you imagine that you can induce a woman to live beyond the edge of civilization as long as the pay is high?" Malin remains silent. "What's your story Mr. Crunn? Should I recognize that name? Is your father some philanthropist trying to pay back a dept to a tired old mining town that his business exploited?"

Malin finally cracks a bit under the barrage of her questions. "As you can tell by my accent, I'm a local boy. I learned to learn here at Wenvoe school. I've only occasionally gone elsewhere, for special events like that Holmes lecture."

"I can't fault the way you keep up the school, particularly the library. And the village library is amazing. Still, I don't understand where all the money comes from."

"Don't worry about the money...we're in no danger of running out. Just teach the children, Miss Goidel."

"I never worry, Mr. Crunn, I'm just naturally curious." Mary takes an amazingly decorative blouse off of the rack and puts it on. For a few minutes she struggles with the buttons that are on the back of the blouse. She feels Malin's eyes on her. "You're so quiet, I believe you enjoy frustrating my curiosity." Malin turns away and busies himself placing some cans on a shelf and mutters quietly. Mary turns her head towards Malin and asks, "Did you say something?"

Malin finishes with the cans and glances back at Mary. He walks over and stands behind Mary where she is looking at her reflection in a mirror and holding a jacket up in front of her chest. "I feel a cold winter coming. I thought you could use a warm coat."

"That's not what you said. I believe you said 'Curiosity killed the cat'."

"I'd never say such a rude thing." Malin wonders: Was she in my mind?

Mary looks at Malin's reflection in the mirror and notes his eyes sweeping over her image. For a moment she imagines that she can read his mind and suddenly she feels a rush of blood to her neck and cheeks. Blushing like a school girl...

She asks, "You picked this out for me?" Malin takes the fur jacket and holds it so that Mary can put her arms through the sleeves. "It's so soft. It must be very expensive."

"It complements your hair and skin tones nicely. It's yours."

"I can't possibly accept such an expensive gift."

Malin finally takes his eyes off of her reflection in the mirror and walks away. "Long ago when the mines were active, superintendent Brenner set up the Wenvoe Education Trust and built the new school. Of course, it's no longer new, but the Trust fund keeps us going. The fund disbursing rules specify that the school staff is to be adequately compensated... for all duties."

"Mr Crunn, you've sent my mind wheeling to imagine what duties I could perform to justify all the money you've spent on me during the past month. You are insanely wild in your spending, like when I complained about the old globe in the library...the next day you had a wagon load of new globes shipped in, one for each student."

Malin chuckles. "You reminded me just how much I love maps. I personally wore out that old globe when I was in school." He takes the fur jacket and places it in Mary's shopping bag. Then he helps her unbutton the blouse. "This is designed so that your servant does the buttons."

"You went to Cardiff and got this blouse for me and you expect me to wear it and forever need you nearby to do up all these annoying buttons?"

Malin puts the blouse into the bag with the jacket. "Of course...you'll wear this lovely blouse on Friday night for our dinner with Doc."

"Malin, why do you enjoy provoking doctor Nader into lecturing me about how to find a husband?"

"It's funny. I don't think she ever so much as kissed a man."

"That's obviously wrong. She's always talking about her great love and her tragic loss. You enjoy seeing her live vicariously through me."

"Miss Wiley couldn't tolerate Doc meddling in her long-distance romance."

Mary tried to draw some racy gossip about Miss Wiley out of Malin, but he again became silent.

For ten minutes Mary tried to argue Malin into letting her pay for the blouse and jacket.

National Railway Museum
Malin cleverly shifted the subject of their conversation. "I've been thinking about replacing the supply wagon and buying a lorry. Jack is old enough to drive now. Look at this ad in the Adviser...here's a cheap used truck for sale." He waves the newspaper in front of Mary. "I was ready to buy it, then I saw this enclosed van that's now on the market. Isn't it so much more elegant? If you think my spending is reckless maybe you can advise me on the purchase of a motor vehicle." 

Jack was the stock boy for the Supply Depot who routinely carted in supplies from Barry or Cardiff.

Mary points towards the bag that now holds the fur jacket. "Spending lavishly on other things like globes and a van won't make me feel any better about having such an expensive coat."

Malin rubs his chin and stares off into space. "In a few months, when I see the January snow falling down on the shoulders of that jacket, we'll both feel justified by the expense."

Mary giggles, "My, my...you have such a romantic soul, Malin. I suspect that were I to ask for it, tomorrow you'd have Jack hauling the Moon into Wenvoe by wagon."

"Mary, you might not have noticed, but even though we are beyond the edge of civilization, most nights we already do have the Moon here in Wenvoe. Come out with me tonight and I'll show you."

Mary asks, "Are you proposing a date, Mr. Crunn? When I decided to take the teaching position here, my mother warned me to be cautious about coming and going out with strange Welsh men."

"Bah. All you do is sit there in your tower all night reading."

"How do you know what I do at night, Mr. Crunn?"

Malin says no more and he begins whistling while he putters around the shop pretending to clean and making an obvious point of ignoring Mary's further questions.

Frustrated by Malin's elusiveness, Mary gives her students a writing assignment in which they are to describe their homes and their families. However, only the sons and daughters of the few local farmers complete the assignment, depriving Mary of any insight into the mysterious lives of the prospectors.

That evening, Malin arrives at Mary's house, which is one of the few inhabited residences in the crumbling village. He informs Mary that as the school superintendent he can't allow her to disrupt the education of the students with frivolities. He suggests that she not force upon her students any more blatant probes of their private lives disguised as school work.

Resenting Malin's evasiveness and the idea that he would presume to interfere with her classroom assignment, Mary bluntly asks, "Are you running some strange cult here? The prospectors and their boys all resemble you. Are you adherents of some freakish religion where you keep all the girls and women hidden away?"

Malin sighs deeply and asks, "Do you really want to know? Can't you just do your job and not stick your cute little nose into other folks' business?"

Mary knows that there is something strange going on and she can't control her curiosity. Pleased to hear him make a favorable comment about her physical person, but chilled by his mysterious aloofness, Mary comes to a sudden and firm decision. "I want to know."

Source: Ben Salter
Malin takes Mary by the hand and leads her  towards the door. Passing through the front entry she says, "Let me grab my hat!"

They step out of her house and amble down the shabby street to the Supply Depot. He takes her through a secret sliding door hidden inside a closet in the back office of the Depot. They go down a long set of spiral stairs. As the light from above fades, Mary complains, "I can't see."

Malin says, "Look, you'll be happier if you just turn around and go back up." He continues downward, his feet clanking on the metal steps.

Mary asks, "Where are you taking me? Can't we bring a torch?"

Malin calls up to her, "Just a second." Suddenly Mary can see a light below. She continues down to the bottom of the old mine shaft and is puzzled by the array of strange light fixtures that look like quartz panels set in the stone walls. Malin again takes her hand and pulls her into a small room.

A sliding door whisks shut behind them and he says, "Be warned, the elevator is fast." Suddenly the floor seems to drop out from under Mary and she grabs hold of Malin. As they plummet downward the air begins to warm. The heat keeps building and the elevator keeps dropping and dropping.

Finally the elevator stops and Malin pulls Mary by the hand through a second sliding door that opens in the back wall of the elevator car. They quickly walk through a long echoing tunnel that looks like it might be part of a mine. At the end of the tunnel the walls transition into a finished corridor where Malin pulls open a sliding door and they step out of the sauna-like air of the corridor and into a much cooler room.

The room looks like a factory locker room. Malin undoes his belt and takes off his trousers then opens a locker. He hangs up his pants then lifts a strange jacket off of a hook and pulls on the complex garment. Mary asks, "What is that?"

Malin tersly says, "You have to wear one of these coolers. Take off your dress."

Her heart racing and her thoughts swirling with questions about what Malin has in mind, Mary hesitates. Malin approaches her and undoes the buttons of her dress and removes a bulky beaded bracelet from her wrist and matching necklace from her slender neck. Mary shrugs off the dress and Malin offers a comment on the fabric band that constrains and flattens her breasts into boyish slimness, as dictated by the current fashion. "You'll be happier without that."

"Mr. Crunn, I suspect you will be happier the less I wear."

He acknowledges the truth of her suspicions with a nod and a grin. "I was favorably impressed that first day I saw you in Cambridge and I've been happy every day since your arrival and for my seeing you in Wenvoe...you are clever enough, I am sure, to know that you are a delightful sight clothed or ...not, Miss Goidel, and I understand the reluctance that you naturally feel in undressing now, but please believe me...this is for your own comfort and safety. I ask you to please disregard any pleasure I might gain from seeing your body and think only of yourself."

Mary pulls off the elastic breast restrainer and sighs, "It's a relief to be free of that pinching concession to high fashion."

Malin silently helps Mary pull on one of the complicated cooler suits. After her torso is again covered, Malin finds his tongue, "I like you better as woman than as a pretend boy."

Mary laughs. "Two compliments in one day. I had no idea you possessed such a gallant nature, Malin."

Malin busily roots around in a locker. Speaking ever his shoulder he says, "It might interest you to know that I wanted to bring you to Wenvoe two years ago when the opportunity first arose."

Mary asks, "Do you mean to tell me that Miss Wiley literally wasn't 'suitable'...did she refuse to undress for you and put on this silly jumpsuit?"

Malin approaches with an armful of equipment. "She was constantly writing to some distant and unseen don. If you found some of her letters you may know more about her great long-distance romance than I. She was never happy at Wenvoe and always seemed eager to leave. Hold this."

After meticulously adjusting her suit to fit the feminine contours of her body, he explains, "These are body coolers. You'll be glad to have one in a few minutes as long as you keep the flow of coolant circulating through the fabric...that means no tight spots or bunches in the suit. Put on these boots."

Slipping her feet into the odd boots, Mary is startled when they seem to magically seal closed and couple themselves to the rubbery legs of the cooler suit. In the thick soled boots she is suddenly three inches taller and a bit wobbly on her feet. Standing erect she sways and grabs Malin's arm to steady herself. She looks up into his eyes and says, "You are quite tall, Mr. Crunn."

"As are you." Malin hands her gloves and explains the set of complex head gear. It takes them several minutes to strap into the complicated equipment and activate the cooling and radio systems of the suits. He then pulls Mary through a doorway at the far end of the locker room and into a second elevator. They drop again and as the heat intensifies, now they need to pull the transparent masks tightly closed over their faces. Malin speaks to Mary using the radio units that are built into their suits. "Careful now, don't step in any puddles. The floor is just about at the boiling point."

When the elevator stops, the door slides open and they step out into a long tunnel that sparkles with crystals in the walls. Mary can feel intense heat under her boots, but the cooling suit prevents her from being burned. Still, she is very warm and sweating. "What is this place?"

Malin dryly says, "Some call it hell." After a long, down-sloping walk along the tunnel, he guides her through another sliding door. Once again in a cooled room, they pull open their masks and let the cool air caress their faces. Malin points to a strange device on a bench. "This is what you wanted to see."

Mary examines the glowing machine, which she has trouble focusing her eyes on. Malin touches the device and its appearance seems to become more solid. It is humming and vibrating slightly. She can't imagine what it might be for. It reminds her of some of the strange devices she saw in the physics labs in Cambridge. On the bench there are several heavy dewars. Malin unscrews the lid of one and pours what looks like water into a slot on the side of the humming device. "That's all there is to it."

Perplexed, Mary asks, "All there is to what?"

"This is why the prospectors hang around Wenvoe. There's a platinum deposit down here with a couple hundred leaching fields. The leached ron goes in here." He pats the odd machine. "That's all there is to it."

"Platinum mining?"

"No, there's little market for platinum. These are persistent ore fields because the platinum doesn't leach out."

"Then what's the point?"

Malin takes off his gloves and sets them on the bench. He pulls off his ring and hands it to Mary. He jokingly says, "With this ring I do thee indoctrinate into the secrets of hell." He leans over and gently brushes his lips across her sweaty cheek. "I've been wanting to do that for weeks."

Mary laughs. "Give me a ring? Is this a proposal?"

"Actually, I've dreamed of kissing you for years. Since that first day I saw you in Cambridge I've known that one day we would be here, together. I knew before that, even...but until that day four years ago I did not know who you were or when I'd meet you."

Mary shivers with the chill now being generated by her body cooler and the strangeness of Malin's words and the surprise of the unexpected hell she has found below Wenvoe. Here in this odd place, Malin suddenly seems fully alive and unguarded. Mary reaches towards him and gently strokes his chin with her finger tips. "When I first saw you I...I felt a connection. Like I already knew you."

Malin shuts off the cooler suits. "Of course you did. You're a recent, too."

"Recent?"

"Recently updated human. The Clyte is constantly tinkering, modifying, improving us." Malin opens another dewar and peers inside. "Look in here. Look through the ring." He takes hold of her hand and guides her fingers so that she holds the ring near her eye.

Bending over the bench top, Mary looks through the ring and into the dewar. She can suddenly see what looks like an explosion of blue sparks. The sparks are not visible except when looking through the ring. Malin explains, "All the prospectors use rings like this one to detect the ron."

"Ron? Do you mean radioactivity?" She draws back apprehensively.

"No, this is not dangerous."

"But what is it?"

Malin shrugs. "I can't do more than put a name on it. The Clyte call it ron. I'm not sure that the Clyte really knows much about it either."

Mary is growing dizzy. "I feel strange." She leans against the bench and closes her eyes. "Did you hear that?"

Malin whispers. "Relax. Hush. The Clyte is trying to explain something to you."

Mary "hears": Ron is a valuable form of matter. It is why the Clyte came to this dingy world.

Mary opens her eyes and looks at the glowing machine. "Radio?"

Malin smiles and says, "You heard it!" He shakes his head and replies to her question, "Something like radio, but in your head. I was worried that you might not be ready for this, but all is fine...Clyte is inside you. You are one of us."

"Us?"

"We prospectors. We who collect the ron. The Clyte only communicate with us, not other people, outside the mines. I don't think the Clyte are particularly interested in people."

Mary "hears" the disembodied "voice" again: Eventually humans or your descendants may become interesting.

Certain now that the voice is in her mind, Mary grabs hold of Malin's arms, "What's going on?"

Malin can see growing terror in her eyes. "Relax. Just relax. Come on, let's get out of here. There's nothing more to see."

Show her the clytellum.

Malin says, "No." He turns on their coolers, closes up their face masks, puts the ring back on his finger and they put their gloves on again. They return to the elevator shaft, but now the elevator will not move.

The Clyte insists: Show her the clytellum.

Mary asks, "Malin, what is going on? Tell me. Tell me everything."

Malin puts his arms around her and presses his mask against hers. I'm afraid. There's never been a woman down here. I don't trust the Clyte. The clytellum isn't something any woman wants to...

His lips were still...Mary felt Malin's "words" inside her...his thoughts inside her mind. She tries to send him her thoughts. Can you hear my thoughts?

Malin nods. But so can the Clyte. There can be no secrets.

The Clyte comments: Foolish man thing, why do you want to hide the truth from this garbha?

Mary could feel Malin's mind pulling back into his shell of secrecy. Returning to spoken language, Mary asks, "Malin, what are you hiding? Please, tell me... what is this hell hole really for?"

He shakes his head and looks away. The radio transmits his words, "There is too much to tell...and I don't know the whole story..."

The Clyte complains: Enough drama. Just tell her...or I will...

Malin feels Mary's arms around him and he can sense in her mind that she is wise and strong and can deal with the truth. Knowing that the Clyte has just put those reassuring thoughts in his head, suspecting that the Clyte is taking control of her mind and forcing her to be strong and curious, still he gives in and says, "The Clyte came here billions of years ago."

The Clyte elaborates: Only two billion.

"First they harvested the primitive life that was here and then blasted Earth with a giant asteroid. That cracked the crust and allowed a magma plume to reach the surface and cool. The ron came up from deep in the Earth."

The Clyte adds: All the planets with molten cores and crust are treated thus. The Clyte harvest ron from all the worlds.

Malin continues, "The Clyte started changing Earth's lifeforms and finally planted back in the seas of Earth the altered organisms...newly designed forms of life."

I've altered organisms through all of these past two billion years. I made humans.

Mary looks into Malin's eyes seeking confirmation. "These invisible Clyte creatures made us? Made humanity?"

Malin nods. "And the Clyte is still at it. Tinkering, modifying. So I don't understand why the Clyte let you come down here, why it makes any sense at all for you to see the clytellum. Or why the Clyte explained any of this to me in the first place."

Because you asked me to explain.

"But why did you explain?"

Silly boy. I've worked two billion years to make a creature on this rock that could begin to understand what a billion years is. After all that time I've earned the right to share the truth with you. As your creator, are you going to defy me? Why? Because you love this cute garbha?

Malin shouts, "Don't call her that!"

Oh my, a temper tantrum. I do believe your male protective instincts are fully engaged. How charming. But I warn you, Miss Mary is not impressed by male rage.

Mary speaks to the unseen Clyte, "Even if you created me, I don't give you permission to snoop around in my mind and analyze my private thoughts."

Private thoughts? What a quaint idea. I can repeat and tell you every thought you've ever had. Malin, it might interest you to know the fantasies that Mary built up around you during the past four years...

Mary shouts, "Don't tell him that!"

The Clyte did not laugh, but Mary sensed from it something like amusement. Your pleading is futile. With time, your minds will fully open to each other and all your inner thoughts will be shared. Why fight this? I designed you to love each other. I've worked rather hard to perfect this thing called love.

Mary explains, "If you can see my thoughts, if you know my mind then surely you know that people do not like having their lives planned and arranged and directed. Particularly not by some scheming creature in hell!"

What a tongue, eh Malin? Did you guess that mild mannered Miss Mary would be so ungrateful to her creator? My child, it is quite futile to imagine that you can deny your affection for Malin just to prove a point to me. I could erase your desire to prove that point in an instant and you'd never even remember having had such a foolish thought. Yes, that's better. When you calm down you can think like the rational lifeform I designed you to be. Do you have any idea how hard I had to work just to get a few privileged garbha educated to the point where you can understand the Clyte?

 "Malin, what does it mean by 'garbha'?"

"I can only guess. It does not matter. Listen to me Mary...to the Clyte we are like insects. We are breeding stock in a breeding game that they have played for millions of years."

"Breeding? As in you and I...breeding...for them?"

"I don't know. Until today I was not sure that the Clyte would ever let a woman come down here."

Foolish man creature, years ago I told you that I would. I showed it to you in your thoughts, just as it has transpired. Twenty years ago I knew Mary was the one...I knew when I watched the little girl collecting fossils and crystals...then the woman studying chemistry and geology...

Mary complains to the Clyte, "Well now, listen. I'm very uncomfortable in this suit. I feel like I'm drowning in my own breath. Do you intend to show me this clytellum or not?"

Don't worry, my child, that suit won't let you suffocate or drown.

Malin takes Mary's hand. "Come on, then. Let's get this over with." He pushes open another door in the side wall of the elevator car, revealing a short corridor. After leading her down the corridor he pauses at another sliding door. "Remember, I warned you not to come down here. I'm warning you now not to go in there. There's nothing in there for you." Resigned to her stubborn insistence to know the truth, he slides open the door.

Mary can feel a rush of chilled air coming from the chamber beyond the door. She steps through the doorway and looks back at him, "Aren't you coming?"

Malin shakes his head. "No. I won't do anything to...this is a mistake. I'll wait here until you are finished in there."

The door closes. The chamber within is dim. While her eyes adapt to the gloom she pulls open her face mask and takes off her gloves. Moving towards the light, it seems to Mary like the black floor under her boots is stone; smooth and dry. Mary takes a deep breath of the cool air and shuts off her cooler suit. The air smells odd, like some mix of exotic spices.

With her vision adapting to the low light, Mary can now see two ghostly figures, a man and a woman, asleep in each others arms, resting on a quilt or thin mattress on the floor. To the side is another cooling suit, carelessly strewn across the floor. After taking a half dozen more steps across the floor, she can see that they are very young, apparently adolescents, perhaps a few years older than the age of the students when they graduated from the little school in the village. Mary thinks about the mystery of why she has never seen the wives of prospectors, why the sons of the prospectors refuse to describe their families. Suddenly Mary recognizes the boy: it is Jack, the stock boy.

Responding to her questioning thoughts, the Clyte says: I only make males.

Mary looks at the girl on the floor and wonders,  Then where is she from? And I thought you said that you made me, too.

Well, that is not a she. That's the clytellum...an artificial woman...an extension of me, a thing that I  designed to please a male, to collect sperm. Look at the back of its neck.

Mary approaches the sleeping couple and hesitates.

They won't awaken.

Mary kneels down and can only see a thin pillow under the boy's head. The girl's head is off the edge if the mattress, resting on the cool stone floor. Mary notices what looks like a thin, flexible tube, coiling across the floor...slowly bending and twisting with a snake-like motion. The tube runs from the back of the girl's neck into a hole in the floor. An artificial woman?

Watch this.

Mary watches as the young girl transforms into what looks like a copy of Mary. Then the artificial woman morphs into the shape of another woman, older and obviously pregnant. Then the clytellum returns to the form of the young girl.

Mary begins to tremble, not certain what she has just seen. She asks, So, this clytellum is you...Clyte, clytellum.

Almost. It is more accurate to say that this clytellum is an interface by which I can interact with animals. A convenience. 

Mary suggests: So the prospectors don't have wives. None of them.

I use the prospectors of Wenvoe as my little helpers...of course I could collect all the ron by myself, but people need to have something to do. I allow them to imagine that they are normal humans, but they've been made for a higher purpose. Letting them have wives would be a useless extravagance. The clytellum is adequate.

Mary feels sick. It disgusts me that you use people in this way. All for your precious ron?

The Clyte came here for ron. I stayed so I could play with the primitive life of this world. I made humans and still I am not satisfied. Humans are just one step along the way.

Mary asks, The way to what?

Who knows? Something like the Clyte? Something else? Only time will tell. 

Mary closes up her cooler suit, exits from the clytellum chamber, takes hold of Malin's hand and says, "Get me out of here."

New York
That's the point in Mary's Wenvoe adventure where the first chapter of "The Miners of Earth" ends. It took Thomas a few years to complete the novel, then he sent the first chapter to John Campbell at Astounding Science Fiction.

As described in The Foundations of Eternity, Campbell had long been dead by that point in time. The time traveling Asimov had taken the place of Campbell, using is implanted nanites to convincingly disguise himself as Campbell.

When the chapter arrives in the mail, Campbell/Asimov rejects The Miners of Earth. Thomas had suggested that Astounding publish the entire novel, one chapter per issue of the magazine. After getting the rejection letter from Astounding, Thomas and his family traveled to New Your City in an effort to get The Miners of Earth published. Their plan was to first meet with Campbell then go to other publishers.

Battle of the Nanites
The meeting with Campbell does not get very far before the Overseer who had been suspiciously monitoring Campbell detects the unusual nanites inside Thomas and his mother. A battle takes place between the nanites inside the Overseer and those that are at the command of Thomas' mother. The nanites that had been inside Asimov/Campbell end up being placed inside Thomas for safe keeping.

Thomas is never the same again. With time, he is able to assimilate the information content of the nanites that were inside the brain of Asimov/Cambell, including Asimov's experiences while he was taken off of Earth and sent to the Moon.

Daveed the Luk'ie
Thomas eventually slips from the Reality of his birth (the Noÿs Reality) into our Reality (the Buld Reality) where Thomas eventually writes Daveed the Luk'ie, a fantasy novel that incorporates information obtained from the "Asimov nanites".

Given the many similarities between previously published works by Asimov and his new story, Thomas sends Daveed the Luk'ie to "the real Asimov" seeking his permission to publish. Asimov initially suspects that his friend Campbell must have spoke to Thomas and helped him write Daveed the Luk'ie. Asimov refuses to let Thomas publish, but a few copies of the story circulate underground among science fiction fans who suspect that "Saul Greek" is an Asimov pen name like "Paul French".

Eventually, while Parthney is following Gwyned's hints about Asimov, he is led to a copy of  Daveed the Luk'ie which provides a clue about the methods used by Observers. This soon leads to a serious entanglement with the Overseers. Almost before he knows what happened, Parthney finds himself on the Moon, a prisoner of the Overseers.

Clones
After barging in on Janet and Isaac Asimov, Parthney is saved from being rudely turned away by the happy fact that he is a clone of Thomas. Janet is shocked by the close resemblance between Parthney and Thomas, so she gives Parthney the copy of Daveed the Luk'ie that was sent to Asimov.

Thomas, remembering well the awesome battle between his mother and the Overseer, remains in hiding, reluctant to allow his location to become known to anyone.

Spilling Beans
Eventually, after the Buld spaceship arrives at Earth, Thomas is able to "offload" the story of his unusual life to the author of Exode.
_____________________________________________
NEXT: Chapter Two of Miners of Earth.
Mary and Malin start their journey to the planet Clytel by traveling first to Italy then to South Africa. How can two young humans get off of Earth in 1926? What is the mysterious "ron"?
_____________________________________________
2015 update on Thomas

Jun 19, 2013

Rebooting Hollywood Profits

To boldly repetitively go where the ca$h will flow.

"...all the big action battles, chases, fight scenes, all that stuff would never have any meaning..." ...that just about sums it up for me.

The original Star Trek series had to have miniskirts and frequent fist fights or even occasional sword fights in order to satisfy the Hollywood money juggler$. However, in the Star Trek fictional universe humans have done away with primitive cultural artifacts like money.

Mr. Abram$ reboot$ the $tar Trek ca$h-o-matic franchi$e back into the 20th century where mindle$$ $ummer action flick$ can $till bring in the buck$.

Dr. Marcus goes undercover with Kirk on Orion
John's Summer Fantasy
J. J. could have taken us into the future and done something novel like put Spock in command of the Enterprise.

.....when Kirk gets demoted, Pike orders Spock to sell Kirk into slavery on Orion as part of a spy mission. To Kirk's surprise, there are other human slaves there, including Carol Marcus, who is in pursuit of the advanced biological knowledge of the Orions.....

Silly me
But seriously, did anyone mention to Abram$ that he was making a Star Trek movie, not a Star Wars flick? Abram$ made a Hollywood action flick using some old characters with familiar names, "an adventure that is a little bit more speedy, a little bit more action adventure, a little bit more intense" and that does nothing interesting in -or to inspire us about- the future.

And: a little bit more action than what? Last summer's no-brain action movie, some other blur of explosions that has already been forgotten?
Oh, and one more thing....
Kaaaaaaaaahn!

Search for Interesting Aliens
...oh joy, more Klingons...

Think of all the interesting characters and aliens that Gene Roddenberry brought to the screen. Imagine a reboot that showed us some backstory for Flint during his last visit to Earth before returning to Holberg 917-G.

Or show that the aliens of planet Exo III actually did have space travel and tell us where they went and how they interacted with the Federation.

On second thought, it is probably for the best that Abram$ defiled Kahn and only trotted out Klingons, aliens who I don't care about anyhow. Still, I did let myself have hope.

Flint and Rayna I visit Earth
It is easy for me to imagine Flint as an Interventionist agent on Earth. Some mysterious aliens from planet Exo III have been secretly living on Earth for millions of years. Flint is their human agent who the aliens have given extended life and a robotic assistant, Rayna. If you must involve the Klingons, have Flint's mission be to channel from the aliens to Star Fleet just enough technology so that the Klingons can be handled by the Federation.

2013 SIHA Awards
The 2013 search for interesting aliens in Hollywood has been abandoned. I'm giving my award for "interesting alien" to Wanderer, in The Host. I'm amazed on each occasion when the folks in Hollywood make a movie about aliens who arrive on Earth and do something other than mindlessly go to war or try to blow everything up.

Before the Golden Age; 1924.
Reruns: 2012 SIHA Awards
Timewarp: 2014 SIHA Award
SIHA 2015
2016 SIHA
____________________
September 15, 2013
"Screw science, this is Hollywood"
My kids are watching Into Darkness and I just heard mention of stopping a volcano with cold fusion. That might be funny if it was not in the middle of everyone shouting and trying to generate drama.

Also:




I hope James Doohan can rest in peace.

Jun 16, 2013

Forward the Foundation

In passing, I've previously blogged about Isaac Asimov's novel Forward the Foundation, the capstone novel for his million and a half word future history of robots and galactic empire. I now feel compelled to give the book a more systematic discussion.

As Asimov's last novel written for his Foundation/Robots Saga, the story is full of meaning for readers who are already familiar with Asimov's Foundation and Robot stories. However, if you don't have that background reading under your belt, then don't bother reading Forward the Foundation. Why? Because Asimov wrote Forward the Foundation so as to resolve several mysteries that were left unexplained in earlier novels in the Foundation series. My advice: read the Foundation series stories in the order that Asimov wrote them, and also read his Robot stories before you get to Foundation and Earth.

Asimov's Prelude
In Prelude to Foundation, Asimov introduced readers to the scaffold that will support the construction of the two Foundations. That scaffolding consists of:
1) Emperor Cleon, the last "great" ruler of the Galactic Empire before its fall,
2) Eto Demerzel, First Minister to the Emperor and the true power behind the thrown, and
3) Dors "Tiger Woman" Venabili, Seldon's constant companion and protector.

In Forward the Foundation, Asimov must rip down all that scaffolding. All that is left in the end is the Foundation.

Mentalics
In Rumblings of Revolution, I discussed the fact that Hari Seldon's granddaughter Wanda inherited her "mentalic" abilities from her father. By the end of Forward the Foundation, Wanda has found Stettin Palver and Bor Alurin who share her mentalic, mind-touching capabilities. Seldon sends the small but growing group of telepaths into hiding, secretly starting the Second Foundation. That is the end point of Forward the Foundation: Asimov has revealed the hidden origin of the Second Foundation. How the Second Foundation forms and how Seldon comes to recognize the existence and importance of people with "mentalic" powers is a story that unfolds in Forward the Foundation.

Daneel
Another major thread of Forward the Foundation is how R. Daneel engineers both
1) his retirement from playing the role of Eto Demerzel, First Minister and
2) the collapse of the Galactic Empire.
Along the way, Asimov must bring a significant amount of politics and social unrest into the story, which is tiresome for anyone who innocently picks up this novel without being familiar with the Foundation Fictional Universe. Jo-Jo Joranum is presented as a political threat, on the verge of upsetting all of Daneel's plans for the galaxy. Seldon and Daneel both profess to be stumped and unable to find a solution to the growing problem of Joranum's rise to power. However, Daneel has been using his telepathic powers to manipulate the course of galactic history for the past 20,000 years, so why should we take his words at face value?

Of course, these two major threads, mentalics and Daneel's plans for the galaxy, are linked. The Galactic Empire has been designed with a centralized government, so the fate of the entire galaxy depends on the politics of the Capitol world, Trantor. Bizarrely, in an age when 25,000,000 inhabited planets of the galaxy are linked by vast fleets of spaceships, Trantor's economic and political stability depends on "heat sinkers", a despised yet-indispensable minority in Dahl Sector. Seldon's adopted son is, of course, born of this despised minority, making him the logical spy for Seldon to send into Dahl Sector where the political demagogue Joranum has won his political victories.

Why does Seldon send Raych to spy on Joranum? Seldon is consciously aware of the fact that Raych has a knack for getting people to like him. Also, Seldon has deduced that Joranum is an outcast from Mycogen Sector, the part of Trantor where descendants of Daneel's home world (Aurora) hold on to their superstitious beliefs about robots. The existence of humanoid robots is otherwise an almost forgotten legend from Humanity's distant pre-Galactic Empire past.

Of course, Daneel knows a whole lot more about what is going on than Seldon does. Through all of Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation, Seldon is little more than a puppet for Daneel, a convenient channel or conduit (or front man) for introducing to humans (specifically, those special humans with telepathic powers who will form the Second Foundation) the psychohistorical equations that describe how to establish the Foundation among the crashing ruins of the Galactic Empire.

Daneel has been patiently using his own mentalic abilities for 20,000 years and crafting Gaia, a world of genetically engineered humans with mentalic abilities, a world designed to generate a single group mind...what is essentially the single-planet "trial version" of what Asimov described as Galaxia in Foundation and Earth.

On Trantor, Daneel has carefully brought together all of the required components for establishing the Foundations, including Seldon and the needed humans with mentalic abilities. The time has come for First Minister Demerzel to depart the stage of galactic politics, but someone harmless must be jockeyed into position to fill the void that his sudden departure will create.

Daneel has been studying psychohistory for 20,000 years and has been running the Empire as Eto Demerzel, First Minister of the Empire, for several decades. Daneel knows that it is time for him to bow out and let the Galactic Empire collapse...setting the stage for the Foundation Era. Can we doubt that Daneel engineers the dramatic exit of Demerzel from the stage? Yes, we can, because Daneel must arrange for Seldon to think that the Galactic Empire is inevitably dying of old age and nothing can be done about it.

So, we set off with Raych to dark, dirty Billibotton, the slum of Raych's birth. Yes, Trantor, the Capitol world of a galaxy-spanning Empire of 25,000,000 inhabited planets has slums and slave-like workers sweating in their deep pits. Get over it. Daneel has kept Humanity frozen in scientific stasis for 20,000 years. All he wanted was to spread humanity like pond scum across the galaxy...providing the basis for Galaxia...a single galaxy-wide group mind that Daneel can understand and equate with the "Humanity" that the Zeroth law demands that he defend.

Golden boy Raych, with the infallible mentalic ability to make other people like him, immediately gets into a knife fight upon reaching Dahl. Of course, that brawl is just the ticket to attract Joranum's goons.

Meanwhile, Daneel arranges for the Emperor to refresh his acquaintance with Seldon. They become tennis playing buddies. The Emperor expects results from Seldon's half-baked scheme of sending Raych to Dahl.

Raych tells Joranum that First Minister Demerzel is a robot and Joranum presses the attack, publicly spreading the rumor. Daneel/Demerzel goes on T.V. and laughs, undermining public belief that he might be a robot. This part of Forward the Foundation recapitulates events from one of Asimov's original robot stories in which a another robot politician (Byerly) must convince voters that "he" is human. In the short story Evidence, Byerly had to contend with x-rays that might reveal his internal structure.

By the time of Demerzel, the existence of positronic brains has been effectively erased from human memory. Nobody within the galactic empire would even imagine testing Demerzel for positronic circuits. Demerzel, the master manipulator of emotions, simply makes the people of Trantor laugh at the idea of him possibly being a machine. Suddenly, the previously unstoppable political ascendancy of Joranum is halted.

Seldon gets the Mycogenians to denounce Joranum as a breakaway religious fanatic and the affair is over. The Emperor is pleased at how Seldon quickly and efficiently eliminated the political threat from Joranum and he makes Seldon First Minister, neatly replacing Demerzel with someone who is sure to continue to generate Imperial support for Seldon's psychohistory research project, which has suddenly become the nexus for a rare glimmer of scientific research and discovery within the Galctic Era.

In Part II of Forward the Foundation, Seldon loses his tennis chum, the Emperor...it is time to hasten the descent of the galaxy towards barbarism.

The Tiger Woman
Forward the Foundation also has a romantic thread. Dors Venabili, Seldon's wife and protector, is some kind of bio-mechanically engineered humnoid, possibly similar with respect to mentalic abilities and similarly programmed with the Laws of Robotics as were the inhabitants of Gaia. In Part III of Forward the Foundation, Seldon loses the love of his life, Dors. By this point in time, Wanda is a young girl and her growing mentalic ability indirectly leads to the death of Dors. Here, Asimov revives from Second Foundation the idea that it is fairly easy to construct devices that will interfere with with either human mentalics or the function of positronic brains. Is this the risk that Daneel must take in creating the Foundations? Is one final burst of human freedom and scientific ingenuity needed to bring Galaxia to completion? Does Daneel know what he risks? That humans, set free to think and experiment, will likely invent tools that can destroy his own positronic brain?

Seldon resigns as First Minister and the Empire continues its decline under the control of the military. Dors dies while saving Seldon from another plot on his life, her unusual brain function targeted for disruption by a newly invented device that is a byproduct of psychohistory research. Without the benefit of any continuing Imperial support, Seldon's once booming psychohistory project crumbles. But, magically, the mathematical equations that describe the future now all safely reside in the Prime Radiant. All that remains is to assemble a core group of humans with mentalic powers who can form the Second Foundation. Magically, these hidden humans with mentalic abilities suddenly come out of the woodwork. Gathering around Wanda, they use their mentalic influence to establish the First Foundation at the rim of the galaxy, ostensibly as an encyclopedia project designed to preserve the knowledge of the crumbling Empire. The Second Foundationers take the Prime Radiant and disappear into their secret hiding place at Star's End.

In Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation Asimov did a masterful job of positioning Daneel as a sly and scheming mastermind at the heart of the Galactic Empire in the Foundation series. Did this put a nice bow on the Foundation saga? Not really: Asimov never wrote the next novel in the Foundation series, the story that must come after Foundation and Earth.

That lack of a sequel to Foundation and Earth is what motivated The Foundations of Eternity. By Daneel's unstoppable logic, Humanity must be engineered into a galaxy-spanning group mind. Trevize, the never wrong, frets, "...what if, in some galaxy, one species gains domination over the rest and then has time to consider the possibility of penetrating other galaxies"?

I like to imagine that, had Asimov not been taken from us prematurely, he would have found an ingenious way to extend his future history beyond the end of Foundation and Earth. However, in the absence of Asimov's version of the story, his fans are free to imagine what should come next.

At the end of Foundation and Earth we see Asimov struggling mightily with the consequences of the "all human galaxy" that he was forced to envision because of John Campbell's biases. Why didn't technologically advanced beings from another galaxy reach Earth long ago? If we imagine that Daneel has been manipulating Trevize through all of Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth, then we must ask: at the end of Foundation and Earth is Daneel inviting/allowing/forcing Trevize to begin to think about the existence of aliens from another galaxy? Is Daneel well aware that such aliens exist? With Galaxia almost formed, need Daneel no longer keep the truth about aliens hidden from humanity?

Related Reading: my favorite novel by Asimov - The End of Eternity

Gohrlay's Horrific Demise

spoof inspired by The Island Of Doctor Moreau
Hana's last name is Davyon. On the planet Luk'ru
she crafts her own version of Humanity.
Towards the end of last year I considered Exode as a horror story...with no blood, no monsters, no deaths...just the usual ignorant and bumbling humans worried about the ultimate fate of Humanity.

Horror is one of the genres that repels me, so I've challenged myself to broaden my interests and work at the task of finding something about horror stories that I can enjoy or appreciate.

Now, since having realized that The Foundations of Eternity is a prequel to Exode, I should give some more thought to the horror elements in that story, particularly the gruesome death of Gohrlay.

Spoiler
Of course, the first thing to say about Gohrlay's horrific demise is that her death by "destructive brain scan" is carefully staged. Orbho Anagro made "two copies of Gohrlay" and kept one in storage: a clone of Gohrlay that was kept in reserve and which had no purpose in life but to be put through the destructive brain scanning process. But the reader does not know about this subterfuge until after reading: "The nanites in her brain switched off her consciousness and a robotic surgeon cut off Gohrlay's hair and began removing her skull."

Gohrlay's Brain
So, the first two and a half chapters of the story trick the reader into thinking that Gohrlay is murdered by Overseer Doltun and that her brain is broken into microscopic bits as part of converting her neural circuits into functionally equivalent positronic circuits.

Using the primitive brain scanning technology that was developed by her fellow Neanderthals, it will take many days to scan the structure of Gohrlay's brain. Each cell has to be exposed and analyzed. First her blood is cooled in order to limit cell death during the prolonged scanning process.

I found an old Horror Stories cover that reminded me of poor Gohrlay's body being chilled down in preparation for the destructive brain scan.

The dude in the rubber suit, the klunky lab equipment and the ice cube girls in the back did not fit with events as described in The Foundations of Eternity so some modifications were needed. However, I just had to keep the retro thermometer!

I looked at a large number of pulp magazine covers and it was difficult to find a human figure that I could swap in and make look like it was involved in running the chiller tank equipment. I certainly was not opposed to including another female figure, but most of the young women depicted in old pulp magazine covers were doing little more than cringing in horror.

I found an issue of Avon Fantasy Reader that had a dramatically posed lady holding a knife; the out-stretched arm was what I needed. Her shear "lab coat" makes a nice contrast to the original rubber suit.

Spock's Brain
This was one of the more disturbing episodes of Star Trek. Supposedly written by the person who came up with the idea that Star Fleet follows the Prime Directive, in the end, the crew of the Enterprise happily throws a monkey wrench into the culture of Sigma Draconis VI. In need of a computer to maintain the infrastructure of their underground city, the Eymorgs instead steal Spock's brain and put it to work running their sewage plant and ventilation fans.

Spock and McCoy collaborate to successfully paste Spock's brain back into his body and our heroes ride off into the sunset, the Eyemorg having been told to abandon their underground city and go live on the surface where they can suffer through the raging ice age along with the brutish Morg.

There should have been a sequel to this episode in which, as soon as the Enterprise departed from Sigma Draconis VI, Kara was off in her spaceship to pick out another brain, possibly that of Harry Mudd.

Having his brain be used to run the plumbing of a city for 10,000 years seems like a fitting punishment for Mudd's crimes.

Brain Switch
In The Foundations of Eternity, Gohrlay is quietly slipped out of Observer Base. She wakes up wondering if something went wrong with the brain scan.

Jeed and Many Sails patiently explain that she was tricked, and that there was never any intention to destroy her brain. Orbho Anagro simply wanted the scientists at Observer Base to believe that their brain scan technology had been used on Gohrlay. Instead, Anagro secretly used more efficient Huaoshy technology to scan Gohrlay's brain and convert its functionality into positronic circuits.

When R. Gohrlay "wakes up" after the scanning session, "she" has a working copy of Gohrlay's mind...plus, telepathic powers. As the first positronic robot with a human-like mind, R. Gohrlay begins her struggle to defend Humanity against the alien Huaoshy, culminating in the formation of Galaxia.

Gohrlay never really knows much about the Huaoshy. Resenting how she was tricked and used for Orbho Anagro's little science experiment, R. Gohrlay makes sure that all positronic robots are programmed with the Laws of Robotics.

For the 30,000 years of R. Gohrlay's existence, "she" is in a nightmare-like struggle against the Huaoshy. Had she known exactly what she was up against she might never have led a revolt against the orbho of Observer Base. Every move she makes is ultimately countered by the Huaoshy. However, in the end, the Huaoshy recognize their own faults and the deficiencies that were inherent in Genesaunt Civilization. Prompted by Gohrlay's heroic resistance, the Huaoshy make some changes and Homo sapiens is given the  opportunity to survive.

Horror Tease
I've started giving some thought to the ending of The Foundations of Eternity. I like happy endings and I originally imagined a pleasant ending for The Start of Eternity. However, since The Foundations of Eternity is a prequel for Exode, I'd be willing to change the tone of the last chapter and even turn it into a horror-tinged teaser for the follow-up novel.

It would not be hard to depict Earth and Humanity as stripped bare of its defending positronic robots and totally at the mercy of the alien Huaoshy. At the end of The Foundations of Eternity the reader could be left wondering if we Earthlings are going to return to being just another soon-to-be-obsolete primate along the way to the Huaoshy ideal of a species that is worthy of joining Genesaunt Civilization.