Feb 22, 2014

Fire Goddess

A few weeks ago I began contemplating the possibility of starting the Exode Trilogy with the story of Trysta and Ekcolir. Trysta and Ekcolir are magically brought together from across 10,000,000 years and 15,000 light-years. From their union springs the means to put an end to the conflict between Earth and the alien Huaoshy.

On a parallel track, I've come to recognize the need to provide "the editor" of the Exode Trilogy with a collaborating "information conduit", Angela, one of the clones of Ivory Fersoni. I had to invent the "Atlantis Clones" in order to make it possible for the story of the Exode Trilogy to be told. Ivory is very protective of her clones, and there is no real reason for Angela to have a public role in Exode.

Save the Planet!
I've long been amused by the back cover of my copy of Assignment: Nor'Dyren. Large print implores: "Save the Planet!" From far across space, Tollan Bailey and Laarica Johns are brought to the world Nor'Dyren where they collaborate to save the planet. Tollan is given a vision of this alien world in the guise of a vast sentient being. In this dream-like vision, only Tollan is allowed to enter the goddess Nor'Dyren. Once inside her iron womb, Tollan can use his silver screwdriver to heal the dying world.

Laarica and Tollan are brought together on Nor'Dyren through the scheming manipulations of the chairman of CalMega's Serendipity Project. Tollan is a problem for the giant CalMega corporation: he is not satisfied to have a job. Tollan wants work, honest hands-on labor. Nor'Dyren is perfect for Tollan, a world full of work just waiting for him. Nobody on Nor'Dyren ever repairs the aging machines, so Tollan's skills as an experienced repairman are in need.

As soon as Tollan is on Nor'Dyren he is stricken with a strange illness. How could an alien virus stricken him? If not a virus, perhaps an invisible nanite probe enters his body and induces delirium. While his brain is in a hyperpyretic state, an "accident" occurs; he strikes down a citizen of Nor'Dyren, thus creating an excuse for Laarica to be sent out from Earth to join Tollan in his task of healing Nor'Dyren.

In a stroke of "luck", the first Nor'Dyren factory that Tollan visits is supervised by a Gonnegon who happens to be familiar with an Earthly philosopher. Coincidentally, some of the factory workers know Patt, who turns out to be a second generation revolutionary known to the head of Nor'Dyren's government. Perhaps the largest "coincidence" of all is that Tollan "just happens" to end up staying in the part of Nor'Dyren near the fantastic "burial chamber" that holds the secrets to Nor'Dyrenese history. Are all these happy "coincidences" just random chance or has some unseen power conspired to "save the planet"?

Cadwal Chronicles
The planet Cadwal is a world so full of exuberant life that the Naturalist Society set it aside, for all time, as a nature preserve. However, after a mere 1000 years the world is in danger of being tamed and over-run by humans.

Can a planet defend itself? Miraculously, Cadwal gives birth to Glawen and Wayness, and the planet's natural beauty seduces Lewyn Barduys...between them, these three have the drive, connections and resources to rescue Cadwal from impending doom.

The fate of one additional thread of support for Cadwal, Lewyn's "associate", Felitzia Stronsi, hung on the outcome of a terrible storm that destroyed Bainsey Castle on the world Rosalia. Left an orphan, "Flitz" came into the care of Lewyn. Vance goes to considerable pains to depict Rosalia as a world full of native life forms with inexplicable powers.

Tourist attractions on Rosailia included trees that grow seven hundred feet tall. High above the tourists live "tree-waifs", nearly invisible creatures who make "stink-balls" which they drop on the gawking humans below. Glawan's partner, Eustace Chilke, explains that cameras fail to focus on tree-waifs. Chilke tells Glawen and their boss, Bodwyn Wook a story about a scientific study of tree-waifs. Working from a study platform settled into one of the tall trees, a team of scientists daily reported back to their central base. On a day when their messages suddenly stopped, investigators found the scientists three weeks dead in their tree-top observation station.

If we take telepathic and paranormal phenomena for granted, if we assume that telepathy is perhaps a feature of the universe not yet understood by humanity but widespread among life forms on the many worlds in our galaxy, then why not imagine a far-flung network of telepathic connections between worlds? Could Cadwal telepathically reach out to Rosalia and attract the attention of Lewyn Barduys, just the man who can save Cadwal?

In his novel Nemesis, Asimov shows Earthlings struggling to save Earth from the danger posed by a red dwarf star that is going to enter the Solar System. But in orbit around the dwarf star is the planet Erythro, home to a form of life that might be a billion years old. Is it the vast telepathic mind of Erythro that reaches out to Earth and creates the means for the Earthlings to "save their planet"? Might the human species be a "device" crafted by the telepathic mind of Erythro, a mechanism that is able to produce the technological means to save Erythro from destruction?

Did the telepathic mind of Erythro reach out and guide the evolution of primates on Earth, create the human species and even endow a few select humans with telepathic powers?

If Earth is embedded in a "paracosmos" of sedronic matter, a "sedronic domain" where the Huaoshy have access to a complete record of Earth's existence through time, could Grean be given the task of making sure that we Earthlings are provided with an account of the hidden history of Earth?
The third eye of Shiva.
On Nor'Dyren, when Tollan has his vision of a goddess dispensing heat to the worthy residents of an icy world, his feverish mind half imagines the broken water heater in his bath as this iron goddess of warmth. What if such a "religious vision" was not just the random construct of his over-heated brain, what if it was transmitted into his mind from outside?

For Exode I've been having fun imagining how cultural contamination might influence Earthly religions.

If the Kac'hin like Grean can exert some control over the sedronic symbionts that exist inside all humans, then they can exercise control over the fates of we "mere mortals" simply by exerting their will and using their thoughts to operate the bimanoid interface. How would primitive Earthlings interpret such power of the Kac'hin?

In older stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe I imagined that Overseers could send swarms of nanites into the brains of Earthlings and cause them to suddenly forget or stop moving or pass out. What if the Kac'hin are endowed with even higher powers such as the ability to activate a "bimanoid interface" for the sedronic domain and instantly teleport people away from Earth?

There might be times when a Kac'hin would want to intimidate primitive Earthlings. Rather than simply teleport away obstreperous folk, it might be useful to make a display of it. A flashing light emitted from the head, a flutter of ash where the unruly target was standing a moment before. Thus might be born tales of a god like Shiva.

Trysta and Ekcolir
Trysta presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Grean. At first, it is not clear that Grean will be able to contain Gohrlay and the positronic robots who have sent Trysta into the primitive era of Earth's history. It appears that Humanity will become just one more species that extinguishes itself through its application of advanced technologies. However, Ekcolir is crafted as the tool that can save Earth and allow humans a chance to spread among the stars.

The Huaoshy are willing to grant humans this opportunity because the time travel technology that was developed by Gohrlay gives the Huaoshy the means to shift the dimensional structure of the universe to a more favorable configuration.

From our human perspective, the Huaoshy are the true Fire Gods. Gohrlay makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to placate the Gods and win a future for Humanity.

The Huaoshy are remote from we primitive humans. Within their sedronic domain of existence, the Huaoshy have very little interest in the mundane affairs of our material universe. The pek recognize the importance of Gohrlay's revolt and craft the Kac'hin as an interface between Humanity and the Huaoshy.

Inevitably, humans are confused by the Kac'hin who seem so nearly human and mystified by their advanced powers. I originally imagined that Kach becomes bored with the Prelands on Hemmal, but it would be more fun to allow her to reveal something of her special Kac'hin abilities to the Prelands. The Prelands might begin to treat her like a prophet. Finally, Kach must depart from Hemmal, certain that she can learn nothing of value from the Prelands about the Creators.

Related reading. "Mud" by Kimberly Davis.

2015 blog post: Sentient Planets

Feb 9, 2014

Religion as Cultural Contamination

A world tree
I've been making plans for how to fit religious belief into the Exode Trilogy and slipping them into blog posts over the course of more than a year. When Parthney arrives at Lendhalen for training as an Interventionist agent he is quite familiar with religion as it exists on Hemmal, but what could possibly prepare him for what he will find on Earth?

On Hemmal, the Prelands are efficiently indoctrinated with a religious faith in the idea that Hemmal was created for the Prelands, the Prelands were crafted by the Creators and it is destined that the Prelands will ultimately transcend their material existence and merge with the Creators.

The Prelands all experience a type of technology-assisted telepathy which reinforces belief in the religious doctrine imposed by the pek. Parthney is raised by pek who don't force him to adopt the religious beliefs of the Prelands and he cannot experience the subconscious "connectedness" that is provided to Prelands while they participate in their religious rituals.

by Ernest Smith
Parthney never thinks much about religion until he reaches Demon Lodge and he is befriended by Yandrey. I imagine that Yandrey is familiar with Earth and anxious for Parthney to begin training for a mission to Earth. However, Yandrey is cautious and does not push Parthney too far too fast. Parthney is amused by Yandrey because he has never previously met anyone who is willing to talk about evolution and say that life on Earth arose naturally, without any involvement of the Creators.

When Parthney reaches Lendhalen he meets Gwyned who was born on Earth. Gwyned lived most of her life on Earth in Australia. The last few years on Earth were in the remote desert of the interior where she came to know some of the natives and learn their theories of the dreamtime.

by Charles Bartlett
As a physicist, Gwyned was concerned with the conversion of energy and matter and the distinction between extended and compact dimensions. She is amused by perceived parallels between her own scientific view of reality and the body/spirit duality that is present in Aboriginal beliefs about dreamtime.

Through his interaction with Gwyned (who is actually his half sister) Parthney begins to appreciate the fact that Lendhalen has been a refuge for many Earthlings.

The Hidden History of Earth
The pek had long sought to achieve a fundamental change in the structure and function of the primate brain. When the pek arrived at Earth, they found apes that could easily be domesticated, but their brains instinctively functioned to integrate each individual into larger whole that included a tribal group and all of nature.

The chief pek goal was to extract from Earth a thread of life that could be joined into the great tapestry of Genesaunt Civilization, ultimately connecting Earth to the sedronic domain of existence that had been discovered and developed by the Huaoshy.

Through long experience the pek knew how to guide the evolution of creatures such as Earth's primates, how to draw them as biological organisms into a strong thread that could successfully integrate with other such threads from other worlds and merge into the Huaoshy-controlled tapestry of Genesaunt Civilization.

However, the primate brain had an annoying tendency towards a kind of madness that the pek, though their vast experience with other worlds, were quite familiar with. The human behavior pattern was one that the pek feared, for it often led to the self-destruction of many life forms throughout the universe. While creating and developing the human primate lineage, the pek adjusted the mirror neuron system of the brain to promote social cohesion and increase the efficiency of social learning. This pulled the human mind out of its primordial unity with tribe and the integrated whole of nature and shifted human consciousness into the narrowly focused axis of "you and I", an axis that all too easily can become one of two dysfunctional poles: either "you" or "I".

While the pek were busy crafting the Prelands on distant worlds like Hemmal, a mutant strain of humans arose spontaneously on Earth. Spreading like a tumor, these "modern humans" displaced the the Denisovans and Neanderthals who the pek had so carefully crafted as the ancestors to the Prelands.

The pek did not panic because the pek were masters of both biological and cultural manipulation. To counter the biological pathology of the modern human brain, they installed on Earth a cultural antidote, a religious buffer against human insanity. This cultural containment program worked efficiently and would have given the pek the time needed to finish their great Preland project: the fixation of that antidote into patterns of human genes and instinctive behavioral constraints.

The long struggle between modern humans and Neanderthals had selected for -and strengthened- a particular biological function that the pek had often previously encountered and made use of to facilitate the crafting of "strong biological threads" that could be weaved into the vast Huaoshy tapestry. Strangely mutated mitochondria within the Neanderthal brain gave the Neanderthals a rudimentary form of telepathy. The pek took advantage of this tendency and crafted the Preland brain to work efficiently with a nanite symbiont that endowed the Prelands with an efficient type of technology-mediated telepathy.

This rapidly put the Preland brain on an evolutionary trajectory into the domain of artificial life forms which would ultimately let the future descendants of the Prelands transcend their physical nature and pass their cognitive essence into the sedronic domain of existence. In this way, Earth would become yet another life-rich planet "immunized" against biological intelligence and its unfortunate tendency to produce self-anhilating species. Earth would have become yet another pek success story, a world that efficiently and peacefully channeled biological intelligence into the sedronic domain.

The Neanderthals, with their unusually robust natural telepathy, were prized by the pek for their near perfection as a stem species for the Prelands. Distressed by the fact that modern humans were pushing the Neanderthals into extinction, the pek allowed Preland gene combinations to be inserted into the Neanderthal population. Of course, since the Neanderthals and modern humans were inter-fertile, Preland gene combinations also found their way into the modern humans of Earth. The Neanderthals were exterminated from Earth and Earth stood populated by a pathological primate, one with a brain that could interface with pek nanites. Rather than constrain modern human pathological behavior with only cultural (religious) means, the pek allowed themselves the luxury of using nanites to guide human behavior on Earth. Earth became a laboratory for exploring many religion-nanite combinations.

Then the universe threw an unprecedented twist into the history of Earth. The prized Neanderthals of Earth were allowed to develop a technological cultural at Observer Base on the Moon. At the same time, modern humans were extensively studied at Observer Base in an attempt to understand this example of a "naturally" arising species that could efficiently interact with pek behavioral control nanites. In this unusual environment, a small cadre of Neanderthal scientists developed the science of positronics. With help from the curious pek, advanced pek brain scanning technology was combined with positronic circuits to allow a Neanderthal brain pattern to be instantiated in positronic circuitry.

This bizarre course of events at Observer Base created the "perfect storm". The pek had long been fascinated by the powerful role of ancestor worship in the human religions. In retrospect this was an important clue pointing towards the ability of information to move through time via a sedronic conduit.

human cortex
However, that realization had to wait until R. Gohrlay used her powerful telepathic positronic circuits to expel the pek, first from Observer Base and then from Earth and ultimately from the entire galaxy.

Eventually, the Huaoshy realized what had happened and they developed their own time travel technology. With a technological advantage in nanites and sedronics, the Huaoshy were able to finally "defeat" Gohrlay, but not before being forced into a compromise. By the terms of the negotiated settlement,  the humans of Earth would be given a chance to reach the stars rather than simply be replaced by Prelands.

Parthney's Education
Parthney has an opportunity (while he is in training at Lendhalen) to learn how other Interventionist agents have modified the course of events on Earth. While those agents lived out their lives on Earth and could not provide first hand accounts of their actions on Earth to the residents of Lendhalen, they did sometimes teleport Earthlings to Klyz. Gwyned is the living example of how such an Earth woman could end up living at Lendhalen where she could share tales of Earth with Parthney.

Three other such "messengers from Earth" provide important information to Parthney about the history of religions on Earth: Rotharkin, Katherine and Jane Grey.

Brain Grease
The nanites that infect the brains of Earthlings are a kind of cultural lubricant. At several points in human history those nanites allowed stabilization of a new cultural pattern that was important for helping Earthlings achieve just the right level of technological advancement for dealing successfully with the arrival of a Buld spaceship at Earth during the 21st century.

Rathuf and Rotharkin
For example, Rotharkin was the perfect host for a nanite variant that could efficiently shift pagans from their "old hold" pattern of human behavior to the alternate "you and I" dynamo of cultural change. After trying to fight against the catalyst for change that Rotharkin represented, Rathuf extracted her nanites, replicated them, and spread them through the population of England.

Hundreds of years later, Katherine has a strong influence on Humget. Parthney learns how Humget, while an Interventionist agent on Earth, played an important role in the ultimate unification of England.

The third major lesson for Parthney comes from his study of Rechmain and his sister Annike. While on Earth, Rechmain allows a native to witness a teleportation event. This provides a well-documented example of cultural contamination with religious implications. Parthney is taught that a similar event in the far past is what led to the "world tree" legend that was still a dominant cultural myth among northern Europeans in the time Rotharkin. Humans have always struggled to understand their place in the universe and on those occasions when an Interventionist agent has explained the truth, a garbled version has often then persisted for thousands of years, usually becoming cloaked in religious mythological garb.

Dimensional structure of the universe
During the course of European history the Interventionists first make use of Christianity as a dyadic "you and I" cultural tool for stabilizing hierarchical social structures. Later, the interventionists must work to counter the centralized power of Rome. During Parthney's time on Earth there is a solid core of scientifically educated Earthlings who can understand and logically respond to "first contact" with visitors from another world. But who is better prepared for the truth of Earth's hidden history, the atheistic scientists or the religious believers who have taken it on faith that we Earthlings were created?

I'm trying to unite the themes of religion and telepathy in Exode.

A common theme in the science fiction stories of both Jack Vance and Isaac Asimov is telepathy. I recently speculated on the idea that Howard Treesong's genetic background (the product of some odd pattern of selective breeding) might make him well-suited for having a special symbiotic relationship with alien nanites. That symbiosis might explain his unusual multiple personality. In his Foundation saga, Asimov developed the idea that telepathic abilities could be inherited and facilitated by positronic circuits.

In discussing Araminta Station, I've previously suggested that Glawen was lucky. In fact, Vance went out of his way to depict the residents of Araminta Station as inbred. What are we to make of Glawen's apparent telepathic contacts with Lilo and Zaa?

In Ecce and Old Earth, Vance describes a mysterious "potion" that when given to young children alters their cognitive development, allowing them to have telepathic powers.

In the Exode Trilogy, I expand on Asimov's theme of positronic robot telepathy and give an account of the origin of positronic robots with telepathic powers. For Exode, I've decided that the brains of humans on Earth contain advanced devices that exist as symbiotic artificial life forms. In general, these hidden devices are used to provide the pek with an accurate understanding of events on Earth...this is the basis of the pek "Earth observation program". The residents at "Observer Base" on the Moon believe that they are the means by which cultural change on Earth is observed, however their rather bumbling and low-fidelity observations are only "cover" for their true purpose.

Sometimes the symbiotic artificial life forms inside Earthlings enter into unusual modes of operation that provide their host with some limited telepathic abilities. There is no means for the primitive technology of Earth to understand the basis for these rare and non-reproducible telepathic events. The religions of Earth are sprinkled with odd elements that stem from the "unseen history" of Earth and the presence of symbiotic artificial life forms within us. Sometimes Interventionist agents visit Earth and cultural contamination occurs. When Earthlings glimpse advance technology from beyond our world, religious beliefs can be altered and modified as part of human attempts to understand "alien technology".

I continue to explore roles for religious thinking in science fiction stories in my next blog post.

Feb 1, 2014

The Δ-Files

A mysterious object falls to Earth. Agents go to investigate and find that a crashed satellite was contaminated with a dangerous virus that is now spreading through the human population.

Is this 1971, in a movie theater showing The Andromeda Strain, a film based on Michael Crichton's 1969 novel? Or, is this a 1990s episode of The X-Files?

Neither. You are watching the Australian television show Delta and the year is 1969.

The topic "germs from space" was popular in the late 1960s with NASA's missions to the Moon. Returning astronauts were quarantined just in case dangerous microbes might be present in Moon dust.

I've never seen any episodes of Delta, so I can't say if it was worth watching. What intrigues me is that there was a television show in 1969 with a leading female character (Inger Petri, played by Kirrily Nolan) who was part of a team of scientists (apparently based on CSIRO) who were ready to investigate sick sheep, aboriginal relics, river pollution, a new plant source of analgesics, ritual murder, exploding beach sand, faith healing, art fraud and other mysterious cases like a 14-year-old girl with a mind like a computer. Inger was only an assistant to scientist Jeff Mallow (played by John Gregg), but half way through this short (1969 - 1970) television series, they made room for Patsy Trench to play the role of scientist Jackie Stewart.

John Gregg and Kirrily Nolan
The similarities between The X-Files and Delta are amusing, but Delta was apparently on a tight budget and was only made in black and white.

The Inger character was a ground breaking lead role for a woman in the 1960s. "I think it's the most interesting Australian TV role ever written for an actress," said Kirrily. "...a woman trying to do a job in what is essentially a man's world....woman's intuition against John Gregg's more factual scientific information." (source)

In The X-Files, Dana Scully was the scientific anchor dragging behind Mulder's fringe "I want to believe" approach to finding the truth about mysterious aliens on Earth.

Mulder and Scully
Watson's The Double Helix had just been published in 1968, depicting Rosalind Franklin's role in the discovery of the structure of DNA. It was a great time to be abandoning stereotypical roles for women in television. Why not show men and women working together to solve scientific mysteries?

The Δ-Files
In The Exode Trilogy, Gwyned is trying to develop an alternative to fossil fuel energy sources in the 1960s. She lives in Australia, so I'm imagining a "story within a story" featuring Gwyned in an episode of The Δ-Files, what I imagine as a late 1960s version of The X-Files.

In the early 1960s Gwyned completes her Ph.D. research: "Implications of the Calabi Conjecture for Gravitational Singularities". In the mid-1960s oil exploration reveals a new geothermal energy site in Australia. Gwyned's mother Trysta mentions that there is a hidden asteroid impact site in the Cooper Basin. Gwyned examines gas exploration cores and confirms that the ancient impact site is well-suited for her idea of using an array of underground "catalytic black holes" to heat underground water.

The main problem faced by Gwyned is that when using "anchored black holes" to convert matter to energy, large amounts of hard radiation is produced. To safely convert the released energy into heat the black holes need to be placed deep underground. 

Gwyned buys land near Cooper Creek that has an active natural gas well. She assembles a small gas-powered turbine and a surplus hadron accelerator on her "ranch". She uses the accelerator to produce her first "compact dimension-anchored" black hole.

Dr. Stewart
Using the anchored black hole to convert matter into radiation, Gwyned begins to make molybdenum-99. Her plan is to use the sale of medically useful nuclides to generate seed money for development of a black hole-powered geothermal energy farm that will provide all of Australia's energy needs by the end of the 20th century.

Recognizing that her "anchored black holes" could be used as a radiation-emitting weapon, Gwyned attempts to keep their existence secret. However, investigating Gwyned's use of commercial airline flights to transport radioactive materials, a Δ-Files team including Dr. Stewart arrives at Gwyned's ranch.

It does not take long for Gwyned's secrets to be revealed. While she gives Drs. Stewart and Mallow a tour of her above-ground facility, Inger sets off with a Geiger counter and finds the hidden underground facility that houses the radiation-emitting black hole.

Gwyned is forced to explain her novel energy source, but she asks the Delta team investigators to keep the secret. Gwyned lies and claims that she discovered a naturally-occurring nuclear reactor which she reactivated by acid-leeching the ore and creating a high density of fissionable isotopes in an underground chamber.

Eventually rumors of a rich uranium deposit spread and Gwyned's father, Deomede, becomes aware of her activities. Using the nanite technology at his command, he quickly determines that a black hole is the source of radiation for Gwyned's nucleosynthesis project. Fearing that her new black hole technology will be discovered by other Earthlings and abused, Deomede teleports Gwyned off of Earth to Klyz.

Gwyned ends up at Lendhalen where she meets Parthney. Gwyned is able to pass along to Parthney some clues about her brother Thomas and his activities on Earth which eventually allow Parthney and Thomas to both find their way to the secret Observer Base on the Moon, fulfilling the "prophecy" that that there be "two copies" of Trysta's son on the Moon at that time.

Related Reading. More television from the Ekcolir Reality.