Sep 13, 2014

Quantum Change

Конец Вечности
Within the Exode Trilogy I describe the writing career of Isaac Asimov (and his analogues) in a series of linked Realities. My little project of imagining the kinds of books Asimov might write in an alternate universe arose from my decision to write Asimov into The Foundations of Eternity as a character. In Asimov's time travel novel, The End of Eternity, the protagonist, Andrew Harlan, wanders through a library in Eternity and takes notice of the collected works of a famous writer in Earth's history (Eric Linkollew of the 575th century). The sets of books, each from a different Reality, are of various sizes, illustrating the strange fact that there is a mysterious force of temporal inertia that gives alternate Realities similarities, yet the lives of individuals are able to diverge in interesting ways. I imagine that in the Foundation Reality, Asimov wrote very little science fiction and his writing career centered on investigative science writing.

The End of Eternity
Quantal Leap
Sometimes when I read online reviews of science fiction novels I wonder if there are alternate versions of the story out there for people to read. In the case of The End of Eternity, this is literally the case. I've never read it, but apparently Asimov's original version of the story did not depict Nöys Lambent and a time traveler from the far future. I've also never seen the 1987 Russian film (Конец Вечности) that was based on Asimov's novel, which according to the Russian Wikipedia, included a mysterious character with no spoken lines who is shown several times shadowing Nöys. This intrigues me because I like the idea that Nöys was just acting as a sort of puppet for R. Gohrlay.

In his review of The End of Eternity, Glenn McDonald wrote: "The book casually shuffles in mind-bending concepts from quantum physics".

"quantum change", an early version of the Reality Change
Similarly, in "A history of time travel fiction" we are told by Jeremy Gordon that The End of Eternity: "incorporates concepts such as quantum physics".

Quantal Concept
In the original version of the story by Asimov, he described "Reality Changes" as "quantum changes". As Asimov put it: "Quantum changes are big changes." In his longer version of the story which I have read (the novel), Asimov wisely dropped the "quantum change" terminology and simply used "Change" with a capital "C" to refer to a Reality Change and those major timeline changes were contrasted with small "c" changes, the "micro-changes" (a term that also did exist in the original version).

cover art by Christopher Foss
Thus, Asimov's imagined time travel is interesting because it includes both temporal chaos and temporal momentum. If a time traveler is careful, he can visit his own past, make some "micro-changes" and yet not change his own existence. However, if you want to, you can travel into your own past and make more dramatic alterations to the timeline that will even erase yourself from Reality. At the same time, you can remain in existence, protected by a personal temporal field generator that insulates you from the Reality Change that you cause.

Just because Asimov used the term "quantum change" in the original version of The End of Eternity, that does not mean that the story is about quantum physics or includes concepts from quantum physics. The term "quantum change" has been used in many situations to simply refer to a "big change" (example). That was the game that Asimov played.

 Grean observing herself in Time.
In the Exode Trilogy, I freely mix together Reality Changes with micro-changes. For example, the world as we know it, the Buld Reality, is brought into existence by a complex combination of time travel events. Trysta, Ekcolir, Thomas and Grean all travel through time to create the Reality Chain that finally causes the Ekcolir Reality to change into the Buld Reality.

Trysta first enters into the 20th century of our Reality from the Ekcolir Reality. She has two children with Deomede and then Trysta departs from the 20th century and goes back in time, finally living out the end of her life some 10,000 years in our past. While in our far past, Trysta cause some micro-changes in the Buld Reality such as making possible the first ever written record of one of Earth's many flood myths.

The End of Eternity
Trysta, Ekcolir, Thomas and Grean constitute a kind of "secret sauce" that is needed to bring the Buld Reality into existence. Asimov depicted Andrew Harlan as initiating Reality Changes by stepping into time and moving an object from one shelf to another. To bring into existence the world as we know it, Trysta, Ekcolir, Thomas and Grean all entered into carefully selected points of time, each with a specific (but complex) mission to accomplish. Had the final time travel missions of Trysta, Ekcolr and Thomas not been conducted as a single coordinated operation, we could count each of them as having initiated their own Reality Change. For simplicity, we can say that they worked together to convert the Ekcolir Reality into the Buld Reality.

All in the family.
Trysta is an Asterothrope from a time in the far future after the human species has become extinct. Ekcolir is an Ek'col, a human variant that was crafted by the pek. As a male Ek'col, Ekcolir is able to impregnate Trysta. Their first child is Thomas. Ek'col/Asterothrope hybrids like Thomas are able to mate with female Kac'hin. The Kac'hin are another human variant that was crafted by the pek. Parthney (a clone of Thomas) and Kach have a son (Boswei) who is able to successfully breed with Earthlings. For example, Boswei and Hana have a son, Izhiun.
A book by Ivory Fersoni
The pek send a message back into time 200,000 years to initiate the design and production of the Kac'hin. Grean (a Kac'hin hermaphrodite) later travels back 40,000 years to start design and production of the Ek'col, bringing into existence the Ekcolir Reality.

Ekcolir helps initiate the Buld Reality by going back in time 20,000 years and using his charms to seduce Gohrlay and prevent the creation of positronic robots. Trysta goes back 10,000 years and helps establish the first Fru'wu teleportation terminal on Earth. Thomas only goes back as far as 1940 where he helps alter the career of Asimov. Ultimately, the children of Deomede and Trysta (who uses the name "Nöys" in The End of Eternity) both play important roles in allowing we Earthlings to become aware of the secret history of Humanity.

strange temporal attractor
As told in the Exode Trilogy, after Trysta first arrives in the 20th century, Earth is locked in a bi-stable temporal attractor. The future of Earth either involves the crust of our planet becoming dangerously radioactive or global warming and catastrophic sea level rise.

Grean is eventually able to transition Earth into a new Reality where there is a third option, labeled "Buld" in the diagram to the right. By bringing into existence the Buld, the Pla, the Ek'col and the Kac'hin it finally becomes possible to create the Buld Reality, a timeline for Earth in which we humans have a chance to survive and reach the stars. Of course, I could not resist the opportunity to allow Asimov himself to help bring our Reality into existence.

Quantum Fiction
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