Sep 29, 2013

Gohrlay's Brain

Isaac Asimov ended his Foundation Saga with the prospect of the positronic robot R. Daneel downloading his memories into the brain of the hermaphroditic Fallom.

Gohrlay's Brain
The Foundation of Eternity starts with the story of how the first positronic brain was made. Poor Miss Gohrlay must sacrifice her brain in order to provide a pattern that can be imprinted on the positronic circuits, imparting human-like behavior to the robots.

I previously had some fun with the idea that The Foundations of Eternity can be viewed as a horror story. I'm going to continue that theme here in this blog post.

The Brain that Wouldn't Die
The Brain from Planet Arous
The Brain that Wouldn't Die was apparently made in 1959, two years after The Brain from Planet Arous was in theaters.

The Brain from Planet Arous features an alien character named Gor.

Gor and the other residents of Arous were depicted as having the appearance of large play-dough brains with eyes stuck on the front.

I've never seen The Brain from Planet Arous, but it seems an amusing coincidence that I ended up with the name "Gohrlay" for the Neanderthal woman who would provide the brain template for positronic robots.

Seeing the Future
As early as 1934, Sci Fi fans were reading about the Arisians, an ancient alien species with large brains. I've long wondered if Campbell and Asimov read the Lensman stories and if they were influenced by Smith's idea of "giant brains" that could mentally calculate and predict future events.

Whudja mean they aren't big enough?
Together, Asimov and Campbell sketched out the idea of Psychohistory, a fictional future science modeled after statistical mechanics, but rather than predictions about the behavior of molecules, Psychohistory could predict the behavior of social groups composed of large numbers of humans.

Eventually the Psychohistory Project initiated by Seldon provides cover for the secretive Second Foundationers. The Second Foundationers have telepathic abilities, but they need time to grow their ranks and condition the bulk of Humanity to accept the guidance of a new ruling class of telepaths.

In the Exode Trilogy, Trysta uses Reality Viewing technology that was developed by the Huaoshy to look into the future and select the Buld Reality, the world as we know, from among all possible Realities.

Head Transplant
Jan's head
In The Brain that Wouldn't Die, Dr. Bill, a surgeon, is soon to be married to Jan. Sadly, Jan loses her head and her body is incinerated in a car crash. Bill must go on the hunt in search of a new body for his future bride.

Jan spends the rest of the movie as a telepathic talking head in a tray of nutrient solution on a bench top.

In search of a hot new body for Jan, Bill is reminded of Doris, who pays the rent by posing in a bikini during "art classes". Doris has a hideous scar on the left side of her face and she tells Bill that she'd do anything to get rid of her face.

Oh, No! Mr. Bill!
As The Brain that Wouldn't Die plays out, Dr. Bill, is ready to dispose of Doris' head and transplant Jan's head onto Doris' body. Nobody thinks this is a good idea except Bill.

The End
Even the grotesque monster that Bill keeps locked in a closet knows that Doris should not be sliced and diced for spare parts. This monster, played like a Frankenstein's monster by Eddie Carmel, has apparently been pieced together during Bill's earlier transplantation "research" efforts.

There is even an "Igor" analog in the movie, Bill's assistant who has a disfigured hand. In the end, Bill, Jan and and the assistant end up dead and the monster heads off stage, carrying the unconscious Doris out of the now burning transplantation laboratory.

The Fate of Gohrlay
The Foundations of Eternity describes the origin of the Laws of Robotics and how those behavioral imperatives become programmed into positronic brains. One of those laws says that robots must obey orders from humans.

I previously decided that it would be useful to have Gohrlay give the order to R. Nahan that would allow the Huaoshy to defeat R. Gohrlay. I was thinking that a clone of Gohrlay would be used for this purpose.

Now I'm thinking about how it would be possible to actually have the "real" Gohrlay be present rather than a clone.

Um, but isn't Gohrlay dead?
No. People at Observer Base on the Moon such as Doltun and Klempse are tricked into believing that Gohrlay dies when her brain is destructively scanned. However, Orbho Anagro secretly uses advanced Huaoshy technology to nondestructively obtain the detailed structure of her brain. For show, a disposable clone of Gohrlay goes through the destructive brain scan.

Gohrlay is quietly slipped out of Observer Base aboard the Many Sails. Gohrlay is taken away from Earth to the center of the galaxy. Back at Observer Base, her brain pattern is incorporated into positronic circuits, giving rise to R. Gohrlay. About 20,000 years pass before R. Gohrlay is defeated by the Huaoshy. How might Gohrlay remain in existence for 20,000 years?

Time Travel
Time travel is the obvious way to bring Gohrlay 20,000 years into her future. Grean need only use the Huaoshy technology for traveling through time to pluck Gohrlay out of the past and bring her to the point in time when her presence can be most useful. R. Nahan will be torn between continuing to protect R. Gohrlay, as he has done through millions of years of physiotime, or following an order from Gohrlay. R. Nahan has long since come to think of both himself and R. Gohrlay as human. After all, both their brains originated from the structure of Gohrlay's brain.

Another option that could shift Gohrlay into her future is to harness relativistic time dilation. I could send Gohrlay off on a sublight-speed journey or two that would result in her physiological age still being young enough that she could still be alive 20,000 years after she first left Earth.

Just how long could Gohrlay live? For the Buld, I've already assumed that nanite-mediated life extension can give them a life span of thousands of years. However, The Buld have been genetically engineered to greatly improve the efficiency with which nanites can colonize their bodies and interact with their cells. A "normal" human like Gohrlay can't live thousands of years.

Suspended Animation
Another standard Sci Fi option is some sort of suspended animation. This option would require that someone have the foresight to put Gohrlay into an anti-aging bottle and it also requires that I introduce suspended animation technology into the Exode Trilogy.

Imagine that after R. Gohrlay takes over control of Observer Base, the Huaoshy begin a detailed investigation of the human species. Might they make a copy of Gohrlay and some other humans within the domain of sedronic matter? If so, it might be trivial  for the Huaoshy, 20,000 years later, to create a new "copy" of Gohrlay as a physical being of conventional matter. Could the pattern of Gohrlay simply exist in a Huaoshy database for 20,000 years and when it becomes useful, could the Huaoshy simply manufacture a new Gohrlay from that recorded pattern of her physical body?

The Huaoshy do have advanced teleporter technology. A human body can be "dematerialized" at one location and its pattern transmitted to a distant location and "rematerialized". In general, I've imagined that the vast amount of energy needed to "make a human body from scratch" is captured from the dematerialization process and immediately used to generate the new body. But might not the Huaoshy have the technological prowess to manufacture a human from scratch anytime they want?

The Brain that didn't die
Dr. Bill has to carry Jan's head a long distance from the site of the car crash back to his laboratory. Many minutes pass during which Jan's brain has no blood supply. We are not supposed to ask medical questions, we are simply expected to squirm in horror while Dr. Bill schemes to find a girl with a disposable head so that he can give Jan a new body.

The Tease
My first idea was to have a "prelude" right at the start of Part II so as to let readers know that Gohrlay is not killed by the brain scan. However, I'm now thinking that I have an opportunity to generate even more surprise in readers if Gohrlay can return to the story line at the exact moment when she is needed to "save the day" and finally put an end to R. Gohrlay's revolt.

Update: March 2014 ideas for how to keep "Gohrlay on ice" for 20,000 years.

Sep 15, 2013


The Exode Trilogy abounds with "secret agents" who converge on Earth to play their roles in shaping the Buld Reality, the world as we know it.  The Overseers who watch over Earth are infuriated when they capture first Deomede and then Parthney. It is obvious that someone is continuing to send Interventionist agents to Earth and support them with advanced teleporter technology.

When the Overseers finally realize that they must visit the headquarters of Space Energy Missions, Lycaun and Deomede discover the identity of the long-sought "Nereid agent" on Earth. By the time Space Energy Missions is identified as an Interventionist base of operations, readers are quite familiar with Syon, a robot that has carried the memories of Trysta for the past 10,000 years.

After originally hoping to meet him 10,000 years ago, Syon finally reached the conclusion that Rilocke must be a passenger on a Buld spaceship that is bound for Earth. She is not really surprised when he arrives at Earth with the Buld. His arrival on Earth will be the first "on stage" appearance of Rilocke in the Exode Trilogy, although readers will be familiar with his role as the robot that carried Ekcolir's memories after his death. Rilocke is legendary among the Buld for his role in allowing some of the Buld Clan to gain freedom from the pek.

The Nereids have provided the Fru'wu with some advanced technologies, including access to a few faster-than light spacescraft, teleporter technology and "primitive" robots. The "primitive" nature of the Fru'wu robots is only a cover. In fact, hidden within these robots (while they function on Earth) are components of sedronic matter that allow them to be much more than simple humanoid robots. Also, when they wander away from Klyz and other centers of Fru'wu operations, such robots can host the nanorobotic symbionts that carry the minds of humans such as Trysta and Ekcolir or they can function as a "bimanoid interface" for the Nereid Interventionists. When Ekcolir notices Syon seemingly "talking to herself" about Deomede, she is actually in communication with the Nereids.

The other "Fru'wu robot" who appears in the Exode Trilogy as a character is Betty. Betty is known to readers as the robotic helper of Parthney while he is on Earth, although it is clear that Betty has had a long history of serving as an aide for other Interventionist agents who are stationed on Earth. Before working with Parthney, Betty was the aide for Deomede.

When Deomede and Lycaun discover Betty inside the headquarters of Space Energy Missions, he is pleased to find her there and expects her assistance in finding the "Nereid agent". However, to Deomede's syrprise, Betty is the "Nereid agent" on Earth.

Betty admits that she has long been the tool of the Nereids on Earth, functioning as a kind of "double agent". Deomede begins to make the case for Betty to "stand down" and stop working for the Nereids. Betty assures him that her mission on Earth is complete. All that remains is for the Overseers to be convinced that they have defeated the Nereids and destroyed the Nereid teleporter network on Earth.

Lycaun, as a tool of the Kac'hin, has her own mission to accomplish on Earth. She proceeds to teleport Kach and Rilocke to Klyz.

When the Overseers finally arrive at the headquarters of Space Energy Missions and move to apprehend Betty, Lycaun completes her mission and destroys the teleporter network. Then Deomede is horrified to see Betty kill Lycaun. He gallantly but foolishly tries to subdue Betty and she kills Deomede. Betty collapses and morphs into the form of a Nereid. Her advanced nanite symbiont transfers into Thomas and he collapses, apparently dead.

The Overseer who has worked on Earth using the cover identity "Belinda Tement" arrives just in time to see Lycaun and Deomede die. She finds the body of "Betty" and assumes that she has found a dead Nereid. With the teleporter network destroyed, Belinda believes that she can complete her duties by removing the Nereid body from Earth. She collects the body and returns to Observer Base on the Moon. The Overseers then abandon their post and depart from the Solar System, leaving Earth open and available for first contact with the Buld.

As soon as Belinda exits from Space Energy Missions, Thomas jumps up and goes with Izhiun who pays one last visit to "Hana's husband" and leaves him with the nanite symbiont that he got from Parthney. Thomas takes the opportunity to also off-load his nanites into "Hana's husband".

Izhiun and Hilde meet the Buld landing party in Washington D.C. and hitch a ride off of Earth with the Buld.

"Hana's husband" is left to piece together the hidden history of Earth and tell the story without any objective evidence. However, Exode can end with a news report about the descendants of Andy and their unusual genetic endowment.

2014 update. Betty was apparently a Grendel. Hilde was actually an "Atlantis Clone".

Sep 9, 2013

The Nereid Interventionists

Nereid male
The best stories don't end...we must follow them forever.

Earlier this year I became convinced that the Nereids must play an important role in the Exode Trilogy. In my initial conceptualization, I thought of the Nereids as rather aloof and afraid of interacting with least directly.

The Nereids seemed to prefer an indirect approach. For example, the Nereid Interventionists support the Fru'wu and the Fru'wu support the Pla and the Pla train humans for missions to Earth as Iterventionist agents.

Nereid female
Kach goes off to the Andromeda galaxy in search of the mysterious Nereids, but she never finds any who seem to be other than conventional elements of Genesaunt Civilization with no knowledge of the Fru'wu or we primitive humans. Her unsuccessful search does not mean that a hard-to-find Interventionist faction of the Nereids doesn't exist!

Nereid hermaphrodite
I've previously decided that the Nereids evolved on a metal-poor world and I've previously developed the idea that physically they were not too different from humans, but more aquatic than humans.

There is a long backstory for the Nereids that is not part of the Exode Trilogy. The Nereids developed a technological civilization about 300,000 years ago. When Kach reaches the Nereid home world, she finds the Nereid equivalent of the Prelands: hermaphroditic Nereids of pek design.

It is not certain how long ago the Nereid Interventionists first reached Earth, but there is clear evidence for Nereid-Fru'wu interactions going back 90,000 years. If the Nereid interventionists had interstellar spaceships 90,000 years ago, just how far have they progressed technologically since then?

I originally imagined that the Nereids would have some understanding of sedronic matter, enough to allow them to build their own spaceships and even use advanced teleportation devices to "transmit" material objects like people across vast interstellar distances.

I've started sketching out some chapters for Trysta and Ekcolir and found myself in need of a decision about the sophistication of Nereid nanite technology. Today I've decided that the Nereid Interventionists have made use of their advanced nanite technology to leave behind their original biological existence in the domain of conventional matter. The Nereid Interventionists have a long history of using nanorobotic artificial lifeforms as helpers. Those shape-shifting robots can use the body form of Nereids.

Symbiont activity pattern
In the Exode Trilogy, anyone who thinks they have seen a Nereid Interventionist has only seen such a robot. The Nereid Interventionists long ago gained access to array sedrons and transformed themselves into an artificial lifeform that exists in the sedronic domain. When they need to interact with primitive creatures such as we Earthlings within the universe of conventional matter they use one of their nanorobotic helpers as an interface. However, for advanced human variants such as the Kac'hin, the Nereid Interventionists can communicate by means of a nanite symbiont implanted in the human's brain.

M-hierions and array sedrons
Within the imaginary technological world of the Exode Trilogy, "M-hierions" make possible "zeptoscale nanites", the building blocks for artificial life forms like the pek. While developing the Exode Trilogy, I've come to imagine that by using time travel technology, R. Gohrlay was able to develop advanced nanites similar to those used by the pek. However, R. Gohrlay was forced to retain her positronic circuitry and could never personally take full advantage of technologies like hierion-based nanites.

When R. Gohrlay finally sent the Asterothropes out from Earth, it became possible to recognize finer distinctions between the many alien species encountered among the stars. Up until then, R. Gohrlay never trusted any aliens, and had given the Nereid Interventionists a cold reception when they showed up on Earth. However, R. Gohrlay eventually realized that in order to fight the Huaoshy to a stand off and win humans the chance to establish a space-faring civilization on Earth, the Nereid Interventionists could be a valuable ally. And, of course, the entire Interventionist movement goes beyond the Nereids. Just as the pek are a tool of the Huaoshy, the Nereids are "clients" for even more technologically advanced Interventionists. After all, the root of the Interventionist movement is a faction of the Huaoshy thonselves.

In Part I of Trysta and Ekcolir, Grean the Kac'hin, fresh from seeming to have defeated R. Gohrlay and the positronic robots of Earth, is increasingly frustrated. Seemingly invisible pockets of resistance still remain on Earth.

Grean goes back in time and tries to reason with R. Gohrlay. Grean selects a time point not long after R. Gohrlay has consolidated control over Observer Base. With the help of Grean, R. Gohrlay uses Huaoshy Reality Viewing technology, but is unable to find an alternative Reality that will satisfy her positronic programming and the Huaoshy simultaneously. In frustration, R. Gohrlay accuses Grean of trying to trick her into accepting defeat. With no other option, Grean uses a "mind static" device to incapacitate the positronic robots and return Observer Base to the control of Overseers.

Temporal Inertia
R. Fengtol
Grean is surprised at how hard it is to find an alternative Reality that can snap 20th century Earth out of the grip of the bistable temporal attractor that flings humanity either into nuclear catastrophe or global warming. Returning to the 20th century from the past, Grean finds very little has changed on Earth even though Overseers have regained control of their hidden base on the Moon after being temporarily displaced by the positronic robots. Grean searches for a way to shift Reality in a new direction.

By careful analysis of available data collected in the time leading up to the capture of R. Fengtol, Grean is able to track down the remaining positronic robot,  R. Rycleu.

R. Rycleu
To find Rycleu, Grean studies all of the Overseer data on Fru'wu and Nereid interventionism on Earth. Grean recognizes a similarity between a hierion signal transmitted by Fengtol and a suspected Nereid signaling protocol. On a hunch, Grean searches Earth for similar signals and finds one that leads to R. Rycleu. However, when Grean tries to capture R. Rycleu, the robot is teleported away to safety, leaving behind only the arm that Grean had grasped.

Careful analysis of the arm reveals biological cells on the hand. Asterothrope cells. Grean realizes that an Asterothrope from the far future of the Malansohn Reality is on Earth, and apparently cooperating with the Nereids.

R. Rycleu warns Trysta that her presence in Wales may have been revealed. Trysta moves her family to Australia and R. Rycleu goes into hiding, no longer daring to use the hierion-based communications systems provided by the Nereids. Now aware of their Interventionist mission on Earth, Trysta begins to develop a working relationship with the Nereid agent who is on Earth.

Frustrated by their inability to find the Nereid agent on Earth and fearing that the Asterothropes and the Nereids have developed array sedron technology, the Huaoshy are eager to carry out a final dimensional engineering project that will end time travel, inactivate positronic brain-based telepathy and also give the Huaoshy a monopoly on production of array sedrons.

Grean can't find a way to defeat Trysta and the Nereids, but a plan is devised to put a Huaoshy agent into close contact with Trysta. It will then be possible to negotiate a truce. The Huaoshy will lose control over Earth, but that is a small and acceptable loss.

In Chapter 8 of Trysta and Ekcolir, Grean again travels back in time and establishes the Ek'col project, bringing into existence the Ekcolir Reality. Part II of Trysta and Ekcolir describes events in the Ekcolir Reality.

Related reading: more on the mysterious Nereid agent in my next blog post.

Sep 7, 2013

Deomede and Lycaun

When I began creating Exode I had the idea that Hana would be teleported off of Earth and begin an adventure among the stars in search of the aliens who created the human species. The Nereids have an important role in Exode as technologically advanced aliens from the Andromeda galaxy, but Hana only manages to have interactions with the Fru'wu, another species from our own galaxy.

Hana learns that the Fru'wu, with help from the Nereids, have worked for thousands of years to help establish a technological civilization on Earth, but she makes no real progress towards understanding the mysterious origins of the human species. Hana ends up on the planet Luk'ru where she strives to form a new human civilization that will be better than what she left behind on Earth.

R. Gohrlay
The Nereids have a long history of making visits to Earth, but they must be careful not to run afoul of the Overseers who guard Earth against outside interference. The Nereids long ago devised a training program by which they prepare humans to function as their "representatives" on Earth.

Then, suddenly, R. Gohrlay terminates the Earth Observation program of the orbho and the Nereids have an unprecedented opportunity to help the Earthlings develop a technological civilization.

The orbho had no intention of allowing humans to build a technological civilization on Earth. On worlds of the Galactic Core, the pek have been methodically crafting the Prelands, a replacement for humans. Book One of the Exode Trilogy, The Foundations of Eternity, tells the story of how the Huaoshy regain control of Observer Base on the Moon.

Time Travel
As a science fiction story, the Exode Trilogy includes many imagined technologies including time travel machines inspired by Isaac Asimov's Eternity. R. Gohrlay and her fellow positronic robots were the first to discover that time travel is possible. R. Gohrlay exploited her monopoly on time travel to search for a Reality in which humans would retain control of Earth and not be replace by Prelands.

However, the Huaoshy eventually realized that Earth has been taken from their control by telepathic positronic robots with time travel technology. The Huaoshy develop their own time travel capabilities and, on the strength of their superior nanite technology, they regain control of Earth. However, they agree to a negotiated settlement with R. Gohrlay's forces which is designed to give the humans of Earth a chance to survive and not be replace by the hermaphroditic Prelands.

When Deomede is trained for his mission to Earth he is prepared for the task of caring for the humans of Earth who have unusual gene combinations introduced from the worlds of the Galactic Core. Deomede was born on Hemmal, one of the worlds of the Galactic Core where the pek have long crafted the Prelands.

Deomede is a male Ek'col. The Ek'col are a human variant crafted by the pek for a special role. In the far future of the Malansohn Reality,  R. Gohrlay's best intentions for Humanity were met with utter defeat. By the programming of her positronic circuits, R. Gohrlay must strive to do what is best for humans, but after 10,000,000 years humans become extinct, replaced by a new species of their own design: the Asterothropes.

R. Gohrlay carefully trains one Asterothrope for a time travel mission to the 20th century. This is Isaac Asimov's heroine, Noÿs Lambent, from The End of Eternity. Asterothropes are not human, but Noÿs has nanites in her body that gave her a human form during embryonic development. The Ek'col have been carefully crafted to be inter-fertile with Noÿs, although Deomede is unaware of this.

Deomede believes that he is a "false" Buld and genetically identical to Earth humans. He has been trained (at Lendhalen) to make contact with Noÿs when he is on Earth and provide her with support. Deomede believes that Noÿs is another interventionist agent like himself. On Earth, Deomede uses many "cover" names. When he is in Wales he uses the name "Merion Iwedon". Noÿs uses the name "Trysta".

In 1936 Trysta arrives in Wales from the future and meets Merion. They slowly develop a romantic relationship and in 1939 they have a daughter, Gwyned. Later, Trysta and Deomede have a second child, a boy named Andy. Soon after Andy is born, Trysta moves her family to Australia. Merion occasionally visits Trysta, but mostly he is absent and Gwyned is only vaguely aware that he is her father. Also, Gwyned knows that she has an older brother named Thomas who her mother has occasionally mentioned.

Gwyned develops an interest in nuclear physics and the goal of making nuclear fusion a viable source of energy to replace fossil fuels. She is frustrated by the fact that funding for nuclear physics is dominated by the goal of making nuclear weapons. In 1964 Gwyned visits the headquarters of Alternative Energy Concepts, a think tank devoted to the development of alternatives to fossil fuels. She is amazed to discover that the small team at AEC has been disrupting her efforts to obtain funding for fusion power research. Worse still, she learns that Trysta, as a member of the AEC board of directors, has been involved in the on-going efforts to sabotage fusion power research.

Furious, Gwyned returns home to Australia intent on confronting her mother. However, both Merion and Trysta are there and Gwyned soon finds herself teleported off of Earth by Merion. After spending some time at the Klyz teleportation hub, Gwyned ends up at Lendhalen.

In 1971 Deomede meets Parthney, the new Interventionist agent who has just arrived on Earth after being trained at Lendhalen. While at Lendhalen, Parthney learned about Gwyned's family.

Parthney asks Deomede about Trysta. Deomede tells Parthney that Trysta is gone, but they begin searching diligently for Thomas. Parthney gets a copy of Thomas' book "Daveed the Luk'ie".
In 1980 Deomede tells Parthney that he suspects that the Overseers can now detect teleportation events. He arranges for Parthney to gain access to his list of contacts among the Earthlings in case he is captured. Deomede is captured by Overseers shortly after he teleports an Earthling to Klyz.

Parthney "inherits" Betty, Deomede's robotic helper. Betty is familiar with all of the Earthlings who Deomede has worked with. Hana is one of Deomede's "contacts" who becomes of special interest to Parthney. There is a "Hana" mentioned in Thomas' "story" about Izhiun and the Buld. Parthney discovers that Hana has been having "email" communications with Thomas. Parthney suspects that Thomas is another Interventionist agent working on Earth.

End Game
Trysta viewing Realities
My ideas about Deomede have changed significantly since I first began sketching in his backstory here. Deomede spends most of his time helping a population of Earthlings with Preland genes introduced from the Galactic Core. He never thinks too carefully about Trysta and just assumes that she is another Interventionist agent like himself.

Deomede, Parthney and Gwyned exist entirely within the Buld Reality and they are not aware that time travel was previously possible. Both Trysta and Thomas arrived in the Buld Reality from the previous Reality, The Ekcolir Reality. Thomas becomes aware of Izhiun and the Buld by way of his contacts with Trysta in both the Ekcolir Reality and the Buld Reality. 

Book Two in the Exode Trilogy, Trysta and Ekcolir, describes events in the Ekcolir Reality. In the Ekcolir Reality, Trysta had the opportunity to view alternative Realities. She was able to look into the Buld Reality and see her own future. She shared some of what she saw with Thomas, so he knows that in the Buld Reality a Buld spaceship is on its way to Earth.

Trysta knew Demomede's analog in the Ekcolir Reality: another Ek'col male named Ekcolir. Ekcolir has heard the name "Deomede" from Syon. Syon is a robot at Lendhalen that carries the nanites that originated as a type of symbiotic artificial lifeform inside Trysta. To bring the Buld Reality into existence, Trysta and Ekcolir both had to travel back in time. Trysta arrived first in the past (about 10,000 years in our past) and created "microchanges" including the transfer of some stray information to Ekcolir about what she saw in the Buld Reality. In this way, it was possible for Trysta's memories of Deomede to be carried back to the future inside Syon. Ekcolir once heard Syon talking about Deomede. When Ekcolir went 20,000 years into the past, even more dramatic changes were made to the timeline, but due to the "inertia of time" 20th century Earth is very similar in both the Ekcolir and Buld Realities.

Overseer Tement
Moon Base
Not too long after Deomede is captured and taken to the Moon, Parthney is also captured by an Overseer who uses the name Belinda Tement on Earth. Deomede and Parthney discover that there is already a renegade faction at Observer Base trying to find ways to either escape from the Base or disrupt the work of the Overseers. However, there seems to be no way to defeat the technologically superior Overseers. The Overseers have some level of control over the nanites that are in their bodies. For example, they can alter their facial appearance and voice qualities.

Thomas and Parthney
The Overseers are astounded by the unusual genetics of Deomede and Parthney and they are driven to a heightened level of paranoia about Interventionist activity on Earth. The Nereids are suspected by Overseers of being involved with the appearance of Deomede and Parthney on Earth.

It turns out that Parthney is a clone of Thomas. After Parthney is taken to the Moon, Thomas teleports himself into Observer Base. Thomas teleports Parthney away, and with the help of the "Noÿs nanites" he carries in his body, Thomas passes himself off as the much younger Parthney. Thomas and Deomede become friends at Observer Base and Deomede realizes that there was a "swap" of Thomas for Parthney.

Grean's Theorem
Lycaun and Kach
When Trysta views Realities and selects the Buld Reality, she is assisted by Grean, a Kac'hin. Trysta has a difficult time finding a Reality that avoids the dominant effect of a strange temporal attractor. It seems that all Realities in which humans are allowed to develop a space-faring civilization on Earth result in either a nuclear catastrophe and a dangerously radioactive Earth or a future in which there is global warming and catastrophic sea level rise.

Finally Grean finds a solution to this problem. As long as Kac'hin agents like thonself remain in the Solar System, the Nereids will not relent in their efforts to help speed technological and social progress on Earth. With the Kac'hin pushing in one direction and the Nereids pulling in another, Earth remains locked in the grip of the chaotic attractor and there are no good futures for Earth and Humanity.

By viewing Realities, Grean eventually discovers how the Nereids can be contained. Thomas, Deomede and Kach eventually come together on the Moon. Working together they are finally able to figure out where the "Nereid base on Earth" is located and they help the Overseers clean out that base and finally put an end to Nereid interventionism on Earth.

I've been having fun sprinkling clones throughout the Exode Trilogy. Gohrlay is a clone and it is a "Gohrlay clone" that is actually sacrificed to the destructive brain scanning process. Gohrlay is carried off to the Galactic Center and I have contemplated the possibility of using another  "Gohrlay clone" to be the human who orders Nehan to surrender Eternity.

Also, multiple clones of Thomas are made. Parthney is the "latest" of these, but there have been others such a Rechmain, an Interventionist agent who worked on Earth 500 years ago.

Lycaun and Kach
By the time when Thomas, Deomede and Kach finally guide the Overseers to Space Energy Missions headquarters, then functioning as the Nereid Interventionist base on Earth, Izhiun has arrived in the Solar System with a "Kach clone". Izhiun believes that it will be possible to liberate Kach and let the clone take her place. This clone of Kach is called Lycaun.

Lycaun was crafted as a special Kac'hin agent. Lycaun's mission on Earth is to destroy the Nereid teleporter system. Lycaun allows Izhiun to believe that she will simply take Kach's place as a prisoner of the Overseers.

In the Overseer raid on the Nereid Interventionist Base on Earth, Deomede dies along with Lycaun, but Kach is successfully teleported off of Earth.  The Overseers are never aware that the dead body of Lycaun is not Kach.

Near the end of Exode, with the termination of Nereid-sponsored Interventionist activities on Earth, the negotiated terms of the agreement between Trysta and Grean have now all been met. The Overseers stand down and the Buld spaceship arrives, briefly visiting Earth.

Sep 3, 2013

Frederik Pohl

I've occasionally read his blog, specifically for his lore about Asimov, but I don't think I ever read any of his science fiction stories. Pohl was probably of more value to the science fiction genre as a fan, an agent, an editor, a friend and a collaborator than as a lone writer slinging aliens and spaceships across the pages of his own stories. This is turning out to be a sad year with multiple losses from the "grandmaster level" of the science fiction ranks, first we lost Vance and now Pohl.

I should probably read some of his "gateway" work. I'm curious about the "Heechee", but not sure that I can deal with "The Foe".

I'm also tempted to read The Last Theorem, but it sounds like Clarke and Pohl simply ran out of gas during the writing of that novel. It was fun the way Carl Sagan worked number theory into his science fiction novel, Contact, and I'd like to see the mathematical issues raised by Clarke and Pohl. I'm just not sure I could deal with the mercenary "One Point Fives".

I stand with Sagan and suspect that if there are ancient space-faring intelligences "out there", they won't be "testing" humanity and making dire decisions about sending an invasion fleet to Earth so as to prevent the "bad blood" of the human species from doing damage to the universe. I don't enjoy "military science fiction", but I think I can understand the need of Sci Fi authors who lived through World War II to put space wars into their stories. "I was in the war all right. I just wasn’t allowed to do any fighting."
Related Reading:

Discussion of a story by Asimov and Pohl.

Pohl on Vance

Sep 2, 2013

Ekcolir and Gohrlay

The pek think of the human species as just one in a series of primate variants that will ultimately become extinct and be replaced. Our replacement, the Prelands, are being honed and perfected and will soon take our place as the dominant species on Earth.

The pek are an artificial lifeform composed of of hierions and nanites rather than conventional matter and cells. In general, the pek confine their activities to the Galactic Core. On planets like Hemmal they have been gradually crafting the hermaphroditic Prelands over the course of hundreds of thousands of years.

At the same time, humans have been evolving on Earth under the watchful eyes of the Observer Corps and a police force known as the Overseers. The Observers and Overseers reside at a secret Base on the Moon. The Observers are humans, and occasionally Observers are sent to Earth for special missions. Observers who go to Earth must be genetically indistinguishable from Earthlings. The Overseers are a genetically distinct human group that can trace its ancestry to a now extinct human variant.

Gohrlay the Observer
The Foundations of Eternity starts with the story of Gohrlay, an Observer. The mysterious device on the cover of The Foundations of Eternity might be a teleporter or a time travel device or a magnetic field generator used to inactivate nanites. However, Observer Base is equipped with a teleporter for emergency use. For routine travel, such as when Gohrlay visits Earth, she rides in a shuttle; an unsophisticated spaceship that is used by Observers for short distance travel between the Moon and Earth.

Gohrlay on Earth
The Overseers believe that they are in command of Observer Base. During the time when Gohrlay is in training as an Observer, Overseer Doltun is the top ranking Overseer. Doltun and the other Overseers enforce the Rules of Observation which assure that external forces do not alter the course of events on Earth. Occasionally there are visitors to Observer Base from the Galactic Core. Sometimes genetic material is collected from Earth and taken to the Core Worlds.

The spaceships that arrive at Observer Base from the Core are commanded by a Kac'hin. The Kac'hin are a human variant that the pek originally designed for the purpose of mediating human interactions with other species from other worlds. In particular, the Fru'wu and the Nereids have occasionally tried to interfere with the course of human evolution and human cultural development. The Kac'hin are much more interested in the events of the Galactic Core and they are generally bored and uninterested when they visit Earth, being well aware that eventually the humans of Earth will be replaced by Prelands.

orbho Nan
Observers, Overseers, Kac'hin, Prelands and all lifeforms that trace their ancestry back to Earth are known as Genesaunts.

The Observers, Overseers and Kac'hin have robotic assistants. These artificial lifeforms are much less sophisticated than the pek. At Observer Base the robots are known as orbho. The orbho are composed of conventional matter. Their nanorobotic components have some capacity to shapeshift, allowing orbho to alter their superficial layers and appearance at will. Humans believe that the orbho are nothing more than useful assistants who do manual labor and boring jobs.

In fact, the brains of Genesaunts are routinely infested by a swarm of symbiotic nanites. The nanites in their brains allow the orbho to essentially "read the minds" of Genesaunts. For example, Gohrlay can keep no secrets from her personal aide, Nan, but in general Genesaunts are not consciously aware of the fact that they have nanites in their brains. They think of nanites as useful tools that perform functions like cleaning and it is known that medical nanites can enter human bodies to repair tissue damage, but the fact that nanites provide a means by which Genesaunt behavior can be controlled is kept secret from the Genesaunts.

At Observer Base there is a small cadre of "executive orbho" who are actually in control of the Base and the Earth Observer program. The personal aide of Overseer Doltun, Orbho Anagro, is actually in command of the Base and its operations. In addition to their role in watching for and preventing Interventionist missions to Earth, Anagro and his executive staff carry out experiments on the humans that evolve on Earth. Also, the orbho do not completely prevent Interventionist operations on Earth. Sometimes the pek want to introduce certain gene patterns to Earth from the Galactic Core and this can readily be accomplished by letting Interventionists do the "dirty work" that violates the Rules of Intervention. As long as the pek do not directly alter the course of evolution on Earth they are technically in compliance with Huaoshy ethical standards.

Gohrlay is a key player in one of Anagro's experiments. Anagro is testing the capacity of humans to create and use advanced technology. He is particularly interested in the instincts that shape human ethical thought and the degree to which humans are likely to misuse technology. Through long experience, the pek know that primitive tool users like humans are at great risk of developing advanced technologies that can lead to their own extinction. Earth seems a near perfect laboratory for a strange phenomenon that has been observed in many species: human subspecies like the Neanderthals that instinctively have a high degree of ethical self-control over their own use of tools and technology tend to be exterminated by other subspecies who have weaker instincts for ethical behavior. Thus, the Neanderthals have nearly become extinct on Earth by the time Gohrlay is born.

There has long been a population of Neanderthals at Observer Base who were permitted by the executive orbho to develop a small scientific subculture. These Neanderthal scientists and engineers developed a sophisticated science of positronics and, not being allowed to develop nanite technology or electronics, they began to apply positronics to their goal of making robots. Searching the vast data bases of Genesaunt Civilization, which contain the records of thousands of species across many galaxies, Anagro has found no previous example of extensive research into positronics.

Over time, Anagro has been worked into an uncomfortable position. During the slow development of positronics at Observer Base, the populations of human subtypes on Earth with strong ethical instincts have been in rapid decline. Wishing to continue to experiment on Neanderthals and Denisovans, Anagro has taken extreme measures to prevent those human subtypes from becoming extinct.

Anagro's most recent frustration is that just when the Neanderthal scientists were ready to create the first positronic brain with human-like cognitive abilities, they abandoned the project. In order to make a human-like positronic brain, the Neanderthal scientists needed to "destructively scan" the structure of a human brain. Rather than destroy the brain of a human, they terminated their positronic robot project.

After much thought and scheming, Anagro finally devises a plan that will allow the positronic brain research to continue. By revealing to her the fact that artificial means have been used to keep Neanderthals from becoming extinct, Anagro knows that he can trick Gohrlay into violating the Rules of Observation. Gohrlay will then be given the choice: live out her life with her memories modified so as to erase her past criminality or she can volunteer to have the structure of her brain converted into positronic circuits.

Anagro makes continued life so uncomfortable for Gohrlay that she "volunteers" to undergo a destructive brain scan. The rest of the story unfolds in The Foundations of Eternity, leading to telepathic robots, time travel and the entire Foundation Reality as described by Asimov.

Ekcolir the Interventionist
Then, in book two of the Exode Trilogy, it becomes Ekcolir's mission to travel back in time from the 20th century to just before Gohrlay falls into Anagro's trap. Ekcolir arrives on Earth, 20,000 years in our past: his mission, to prevent the creation of positronic robots.

Ekcolir introduces himself to Gohrlay when she is on Earth during her first mission on planet. Ekcolir demonstrates to Gohrlay that she has been duped, that her illegal trip to Earth is part of Anagro's devious plan entice Gohrlay into criminal Interventionism. Ekcolir helps Gohrlay turn the tables on Anagro.

With the help of some advanced nanites provided by Trysta, Gohrlay and Ekcolir penetrate the Overseer district of Observer Base and collect evidence of how Anagro has been systematically intervening on Earth to slow the decline of the Neanderthal population. They are able to document how Anagro has worked to entrap Gohrlay: her entire life was planned and shaped so that the microscopic structure of her brain could become the template for making positronic brains of robots. When Many Sails arrives at Observer Base, Ekcolir teleports on board and presents the evidence he has collected to Captain Ayoost. Believing that Ekcolir is an undercover agent for the Kac'hin, Ayoost terminates Anagro's little science project. Gohrlay and the other Neanderthals at Observer Base become the new Overseers, replacing Doltun and his cadre of Overseers.

Ekcolir remains at Observer Base, helping Gohrlay establish a new set of priorities for the Earth Observation Program. No longer are cultural and technological advances kept under strict control by the Overseers. Humanity starts the slow climb towards establishment of a technological society. The Overseers shift their efforts towards preventing blatant Interventionism by the Fru'wu and the Nereids, but Nereid-sponsored Interventionist missions by a small group of specially trained humans is allowed, replicating what happened in the Foundation Reality when R. Gohrlay's actions at Observer Base first allowed humans on Earth to develop a technological civilization. Thus, Ekcolir completes the critical first step in his part of the Reality Change by which the Buld Reality is brought into existence. 

Syon and Rilocke
When Trysta travels back in time to play her part in creating the Buld Reality, she lives out her life 10,000 years in our past then transfers her nanite symbiont into a robot of Fru'wu design. That robot uses the name Syon. Syon is able to continue to influence the Pla Interventionists right up until the time of Parthney's mission in the 20th century.

Similarly, in order to shape the Buld Reality, Ekcolir must play a continuing role for 5,000 years. When his biological body reaches its end, he offloads his nanites into a Fru'wu robot. That robot uses the name "Rilocke" and plays an important role in getting the Buld into position so that they can send a spaceship to Earth. That ship, a multi-generation spacecraft that travels just below the speed of light, takes 15,000 years to reach Earth from the Galactic Core, arriving in the Solar System near the start of the 21st century.

Grean also travels into the past. I might arrange for Grean and Rilocke to cross paths in the Koly star system 15,000 years ago.

Time Contraction
I've previously mentioned how Asimov put a 20,000 year limit on Daneel's positronic brain. Rilocke and Syon are quite different artificial lifeforms than Daneel. However, I'm constrained by the fact that even if Rilocke and Syon are essentially immortal, I'm supposed to be crafting Trysta and Ekcolir into a love story. I've been imagining that there is a rather tragic end to that story: Trysta and Ekcolir and Merion make a great team in the 20th century, but then their time-twisted love triangle falls apart. First, Merion is captured by Overseers and taken to the Moon. Later, Ekcolir must travel into the past, 10,000 years further back than Trysta. Is there no way to avoid a tragic ending for this trio? Must the Exode Trilogy end with Trysta, Merion and Ekcolir scattered through time and space, each dying alone and lonely?

When Trysta passes a copy of her mind to Syon, she hopes to eventually find Ekcolir's "robotic instantiation", perhaps in the Koly system. However, Rilocke, having spent 5,000 long years without Trysta/Syon, decides to cheat time. He goes along on board the Buld spaceship to Earth. Due to relativistic time contraction, that 15,000 year journey is only 300 years in duration for Rilocke. I'm now thinking that Rilocke can teleport off of Earth with Kach. At the end of Exode, Parthney and Kach are reunited, as are Syon and Rilocke. I'm still trying to decide if Merion can survive until the arrival of the Buld spaceship. He will be about 110, but given the medical nanites at Observer Base, it is possible that he could last that long.
New Video