In the early 1970s Asimov wrote about the impact of humans on our planet's global ecosystem. In 1971 he predicted that by 2070, fossil fuel burning and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would be causing sea level rise and "enormous damage to mankind". Good ol' Asimov published that in an article called "The End".....in Penthouse.
The Gods Themselves
I was introduced to Asimov through his novel The Gods Themselves. That was also my introduction to science fiction novels. Apparently Asimov came up with the idea for The Gods Themselves while thinking about conditions under which an "impossible isoptope" might be present in our universe.
Inspired by Asimov and the idea that platinum is important for positronic brains, I put a "story within a story" (The Saga of Uvadekoto) into The Foundations of Reality that explains how platinum can introduce humanoids to the wonderful world of sedronic matter. Similarly, Exode includes another story within a story (Daveed the Luk'ie) that is a kind of tribute to Asimov and his science fiction.
I've seen several people draw parallels between the plot of The Gods Themselves and the problems (like sea level rise) that we Earthlings are facing due to global warming. I doubt if Asimov tried to create a literary parallel between the "energy crisis" that figures in The Gods Themselves and our own fossil fuel conundrum.
However, what if he did? I explore this possibility in Exode.
|The Second Experiment|
For my science fiction novel Exode, I've been trying to find ways of explicitly demonstrating (my imagined) influences of Thomas on Asimov's writing. The period from 1970 to 1973 was when Asimov had left his first wife and was becoming seriously involved with Janet Jeppson.
|October 23, 1964|
It is fun to imagine what it must have been like when Isaac and Janet started living together. Picture them each writing a science fiction novel at the same time.....
|Isaac and Janet|
While still a young lad, Thomas suffers severe damage to his brain when he suddenly becomes the host for several conflicting swarms of zeptoscale symbionts. Tragically, Thomas is separated from his parents and he grows up alone in New York City. The means by which Thomas is able to slowly recover his faculties is not explored in the pages of Exode. Maybe Thomas first sends some of his stories to Asimov then, later, Isaac mentions Thomas to Janet and she becomes one of his doctors.
in his 0̸λ23
As part of a plan of therapy for Thomas, Janet encourages him to write his "stories" for publication. At first, Thomas obstinately refuses to submit his stories for publication as fiction, insisting that "J.W.", the "Watcher", Fengtol and "0̸λ23" were all real, not fictional characters or creations of his imagination.
|In his novel Obsidia of Tar'tron, Thomas depicts the young doctor Janet's dreams of alien contact.|
However, Janet soon starts having dreams about Obsidia and begins to imagine that she is going crazy. Janet desperately begins seeing Dr. Ben Yudovi, a psychiatrist who works at N.Y.U.
|Janet the psychonaut makes alien contact.|
Dr. Yudovi becomes obsessed with Janet's case and depressed over her continually declining health. Ben begins to compile his notes about Janet into what he imagines as a script for a science fiction television drama.
|Ben and Vicky|
Vicky is able to take seriously the possibility that Janet is not crazy, that she is actually in contact with an alien creature.
|Obsidia of Tar'Tron by Tomas Iwedon (writing as Ben Yudovi)|
After she has seen enough of Earth, Obsidia explains that it is possible for Janet to travel to Tar'Tron, a world of the galactic core. Janet does not hesitate to have her mind "transmitted" to Tar'Tron for symbionic insertion into the brain of an alien.
|Return to Tar'Tron by Tomas Iwedon|
Daveed the Luk'ie
With time, Thomas regains his mental stability and he no longer needs to be institutionalized. However, he and Janet stay in touch, and Thomas eventually convinces her to show Asimov a copy of "Daveed the Luk'ie". I imagine that Isaac is not amused and feels that Thomas' book is mocking Asimov's "Lucky Starr" stories.
Isaac will later claim that he never read more than a few pages of the book, but what if he is intrigued by the detailed account of global warming and sea level rise that Thomas provided?
It is fun to imagine that both Asimov's fiction and his nonfiction writing might be influenced by Thomas. Because of the advanced technologies at his command, Daveed has seemingly god-like powers, but, frustratingly, he must work through others.
Buld" arrive at Earth. Daveed is a mysterious "hybrid", part human and part alien who must struggle to build a constructive relationship between Earthlings and the Buld. Half of that struggle involves Daveed working on Earth and trying to assemble a team of humans who will construct a "receiver" for the collection of a new type of energy that is unexplained by the primitive human science of Earth. The other half of Daveed's travails involves his subversion of some Buld rebels for a mission to Mercury. Most of the Buld who arrive in the Solar System decide to adopt Mars as their new home and they set about warming their new planet and bringing water and nitrogen to Mars.
|The completed hierion receiver, ready to collect energy sent to Earth from Mercury.|
The Buld rebel faction is torn between a desire to help the primitive Earthlings and fear that by providing Earth with a cheap and vast energy supply they will stimulate human over-population of Earth and cause even worse problems than sea level rise. In the final part of "Daveed the Luk'ie", the technology is in place to begin proving Earth with energy, but the Buld rebels are engaged in an investigative visit to Earth during which they try to devise and implement a means of using their nanotechnology to limit the human population of Earth to what they view is a reasonable level for the long-term health of the planet...about 100,000,000 people.
The fundamental ethical rules of the Huaoshy, spread across thousands of galaxies and down through a billion years, mandate that worlds such as Earth should be gardens, and that no species can be allowed to damage the ecosystems of these worlds. The pek spent 7,000,000 years devising and executing a plan that would have handed Earth over to a small cadre of Preland gardeners.
The Exode Trilogy describes how Gohrlay is able to upset those pek plans and give humans the opportunity to establish a space-faring civilization on Earth. At the end of Exode it is not at all clear that Gohrlay has really won anything of value. Is placing Earth at the mercy of a tribe of tool-using apes the foundation for a splendid adventure for Humanity among the stars or a huge mistake -the quick path to human extinction?
Asimov was deeply concerned about the relentless growth of the human population on Earth. I'm tempted to let Thomas include in "Daveed the Luk'ie" the idea of a nanodevice with actions similar to the human immunodeficiency virus...the Buld approach to thinning the weeds of Earth.
"we are doing such a miserable job in preserving the Earth and its life forms that I can't help but feel the sooner we're replaced the better for all other forms of life" -Isaac Asimov