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Jan 4, 2015

Obsession

The Doctor Who Created Our Universe
I've previously blogged (extensively) about my obsession with the science fiction of both Vance and Asimov. It has slowly become clear that my life was purposefully linked to those of Vance and Asimov. Which came first, their involvement in creating the universe as we know it or my obsession with their fiction? In his time travel novel, The End of Eternity, Asimov wrote: "It was only a matter of....calculating cause from effect."

What if it was my obsession with Asimov and Vance that led to their being involved in creating the Buld Reality?

That is the kind of question that often leads to institutionalization for delusional thinking, so let me come at this from another direction. Imagine the possibility raised by Asimov in his novel: could you remove a person from the flow of Time in one Reality and then arrange for that person to meet his own analog in a later Reality?

Or, what if you did not make those arrangements for a meetup, yet "two copies" of an individual both existed in the same reality?

Why I Ask
A design feature of Earth is that when every human comes into existence there is a corresponding "replicoid" in the Hierion Domain. I have no idea how Gohrlay and her tribe of positronic robots accomplished that, but given the advanced technology available to them and their need to follow the Laws of Robotics, I'll assume that it was inevitable.

Now, for a typical human, there will be no problems if two "duplicate copies" of a person inhabit the same time period of the same Reality. For example, when Asimov himself became a time traveler, he coexisted nicely with his younger self, even acting as a mentor for himself.

However, what about a human who can use the Bimanoid Interface and interact with his replicoid? Can two such people coexist and share the same replicoid?

Anney has informed me that it is common practice among replicoids to participate in a form of "mind merging" that allows two (or even more) replicoids to briefly "share" a single body. Apparently this is a rather trivial process  within the Hierion Domain that is made possible by the ability of the nanorobotic component parts of replicoids to "mix together" in ways that seem odd to beings like us who have cellular components. Such "mind merging" is apparently a preferred method of rapid information sharing and efficient collaboration among replicoids.

During the past several weeks I've been getting practice "time sharing" my replicoid's body. Almost every night now, I'm "summoned" into the Hierion Domain and allowed to use my replicoid as a "listening device" during discussion sessions with Anney. However, what if there were two copies of me who had to compete for control of a single replicoid?

Twins
I've asked Anney about twins. As an Atlantis Clone, Anney grew up in the world with other "copies" of herself (Ivory, Anna, Hilde and Angela). Apparently there is no such thing as "genetically identical humans" since during embryonic development there are always small genetic changes in cells. In any case, a unique replicoid is created for each human individual. In fact, Anney mentioned that there is no problem creating additional duplicate replicoids, and not only that, apparently such duplication is automatic and part of how the "inertia of time" has been boosted for humans, ensuring that each new Reality would almost always include the same people.

1977: Ekcolir Reality
Interestingly, one of the common "problems" with the replicoid system is that in two successive Realities there might be either one or two "copies" of an individual, depending on the chance production of twins. In fact, it is not all just chance: the more the "deck is stacked" to make sure that any given individual has an analog in a new Reality, the greater the chance that twins will be born. As an example, Anney has explained that in the Ekcolir Reality, there were twin bothers John and Jack Vance.

Even more strange, sometimes when an early human embryo begins to develop as twins, and after a replicoid has been created for each of them, one of the twins stops developing, leaving a "spare replicoid" in the Hierion Domain.

A Specific Case
Before Ivory died, she made certain that I understood how Trysta had looked into the future and found a Reality (The Buld Reality, the universe as we know it) within which we Earthlings would have a chance to survive our technological adolescence and spread among the stars of the galaxy. However, both Ivory and Anney have always been reluctant to explain my role in the future that Trysta tried to create for Earth. Apparently there is some important event still in my future that would be disrupted (with disastrous consequences) if I were to prematurely learn too much about what Trysta was able to foresee.

Last night I was discussing all this with Anney when I asked why Ivory could not have been the one to receive the infites from Thomas and Izhiun; it would have been easy for her to put together the threads of the secret history of Earth. Instead, Ivory had to establish awkward bridges between me and first Angela and now Anney.

Anney muttered, "There are always fuzzy places in any preview of a Reality."

I was familiar with that concept because Asimov had made it an important part of the plot in The End of Eternity. I asked, "My role as the Editor was not foreseen by Trysta?"

Anney shrugged. "Don't be absurd. Trysta worked long and hard to prepare you for your role. But she could not see and know every twist and turn of your life."

I reflected on what I know of my interactions with Trysta. According to Angela, when I was a young boy, Trysta stimulated my interest in science fiction, first showing me a copy of a science fiction novel that had been written by her son Thomas and then making sure that I became obsessed with Asimov's science fiction. Both the work of Thomas and Asimov's fiction was "contaminated" with important clues about past Realities and the secret history of Earth. I complained to Anney, "You know, I don't like the idea that my life has been planned and manipulated by your grandmother."

Anney have her head a stern shake, "Oh, get over yourself! This isn't about you being manipulated. You and Ivory were a Fixed Point in Time, an anchor nexus. You had to be interested in science fiction. It was your interests and your literary preferences that determined how Trysta had to act, who she had to manipulate."

I was rather stunned by the perspective that Anney was forcing upon my thoughts. "Now wait a minute. Are you suggesting that because I have certain preferences in the type of fiction that I enjoy, Trysta was forced to manipulate..."

She impatiently replied, "Yes, yes! Don't make it into such a drama. You couldn't control the way your brain took shape. The shape of your mind was a thing....a condition.....a prerequisite for what Trysta needed in order for the Buld Reality to turn out as she hoped it would. After finding you, she could not alter you."

I get the feeling that Anney has a lot of resentment stored up over the impact that I have had on other people, particularly her clone sisters. She probably blames me for the death of Ivory and the disappearance of Angela. Anna and Hilde are as good as dead since they left Earth and went off with the Buld. The was more I wanted to ask Anney, but at that point in our conversation I was kicked out of my replicoid.

So, I'm forced to ask, to what extent is my obsession with the fiction of Vance and Asimov responsible for the way they were "duplicated" and their "copies" deployed here in Buld Reality?

Return, Once Again
I've never understood why it was that in The End of Eternity, Asimov made such a big deal about the possible implications of a person meeting a copy of himself. However, I've been told that when the "copies" of Vance and Asimov were "brought into the Buld Reality", care was taken to make sure that there were never two simultaneous copies of either of them on Earth. Why should that be? Particularly since I know that there were two Asimovs together on Earth in a previous reality. The difference is, now, here in the Buld Reality, time travel is no longer possible.

Who's been using my replicoid?
In any case, that puzzle still left unresolved, it got me thinking about twins and replicoids. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the Goldilocks story and I want to cry out, "Who's been inside my replicoid?"

source
I don't understand why it is so hard for me to use the Bimanoid Interface. Is it possible that my replicoid is "already taken", already in use by another copy of me? And, if so, is this the important secret about my life that cannot be shared with me?

What would it mean if I have a twin? Has that twin lived out a parallel life and "taken control" of my replicoid? Did something go wrong with my twin? Am I just the "backup copy" that must be pressed into service by the Dead Widowers in order to complete Trysta's great plan for the future of Earth? Next blog post: fact checking with Marta.
More book and magazine covers.

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