Mar 8, 2015

Pop Power

Contact television series.
It finally happened. For the past two years, the most visited page from this blog has been Contact: Coda, but now that post has been overtaken by my Promethean Rorschach Test. This is a great disturbance in the force.

I've never seen the film Prometheus. I have no intention of ever sitting through that movie. I only blogged about Prometheus because I like the general idea of science fiction stories about aliens who came to Earth long ago and who helped bring the human species into existence.

Elizabeth Shaw
My problem with Prometheus is that I can't enjoy horror movies. I love the science fiction genre, but I'm sickened by Hollywood's penchant for endlessly contaminating science fiction with horror.

Pop Culture
I admit: I don't "get" pop culture. Sure, if you blow up enough spaceships and kill enough hapless redshirts and parade around a cute actress in her underwear you have a movie trailer and then a few million people will show up at the cineplex to eat popcorn and sit through your movie. Oh, well, I suppose it must be more than just a few million folks who see something in Prometheus that I just don't understand.

Cognitive dissonance: "What?
A Hollywood film based on a novel
that was written by a Ph.D.?
I suppose it is inevitable that there will be a $equel to Prometheu$. No my$tery there. However, I have zero interest in the burning question: how many tummy and chest-bursting aliens can Ridley Scott parade across the big screen? For me, one was too many.

Carl Sagan
Speaking of sequels, why can't Hollywood ever make meaningful sequels? The movie Contact only got part way through Sagan's novel, so why not make a Contact sequel? Answer: hell has not yet frozen over.

So it is up to us to entertain ourselves with additional Carl Sagan stories. Currently, I'm conspiring to insert Sagan into my science fiction obsession, the Exode Trilogy. In the first two chapters of Star Dance, I've introduced the idea of a mysterious Earthling who is expected to arrive on the planet Tar'tron, in the Galactic Core.

The Dancing Earth
Star Dance (A.K.A. The Dancing Earth) is my attempt to bring together in one story Isaac Asimov, Jack Vance and Carl Sagan. The origins of this effort can be traced back several years to when I created a fan fiction sequel to Asimov's Foundation and Earth.

I could not stand the idea that Asimov died before he was able to find a way to continue his Foundation Saga past the dramatic revelations at the end of Foundation and Earth. I took the liberty to write Asimov himself into Foundations of Eternity.

When I discovered how much fun it was to have Asimov as a character in the Exode Trilogy, I went ahead and imagined that in a previous Reality (what I call the Ekcolir Reality) Jack Vance had a twin brother. The twins (John and Jack) both had writing careers in the Ekcolir Reality, but John managed to slip into the Buld Reality (the world as we know it) and found the Dead Widower Society.

The Mysterious Earthling
Obsidia: waiting for Carl Sagan
In Star Dance, the mysterious Earthling who Obsidia expects to arrive in the Galactic Core is none other than Carl Sagan himself. I've long been intrigued by something that Sagan wrote about (see the start of Chapter 12 in The Demon-Haunted World) in Parade magazine: "Probably a dozen times since their deaths I've heard my mother or  father, in an ordinary, conversational tone of voice, call my name."

In the Exode Trilogy, telepathy evolved naturally on Earth, but I follow in the footsteps of Asimov and Vance and imagine that human telepathic powers were limited and mostly unconscious. What if Sagan had a particularly large dose of telepathic power? And what if there were "aliens" lurking on Earth who had the technological means to "boost" the latent telepathic ability of people like Sagan?

The Hortensia Opera Company
The "problem" is, during the 20th century, Earth was carefully monitored and efforts were made to keep aliens from interfering in the course of events on Earth. However, for Star Dance, I imagine that Ghyl Travoke and his partner Bet Pliqua are sent back through time to 1901 and they become Carl Sagan's "grandparents" (well, it is actually a little more complicated than that!).

Later, after Carl Sagan's "parents" are both dead, Ghyl and Bet are still able to contact Carl and help him find his way to Tar'tron.

"The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious"
Two Einsteins: 1891
In 2012 I toyed with the idea of some special connection between Elsa Einstein and her cousin Albert. As cousins, Elsa and Albert knew each other as children. When Albert was 40, he married Elsa (1919), but I imagined that something unusual happened to Elsa in 1910, allowing her to remember a suppressed memory and prompting her to write to Albert.

Dualities: wave/particle, gravity/acceleration
Meanwhile, in New York City, Ghyl and Bet have successfully assembled the genetic material for a new Earthling, "the mysterious Earthling" who must travel to Tar'tron and discover the Buldoon Arques. Having completed her mission in New York, Bet "dies" in 1909 and moves to Europe. Bet must remind Elsa to get in contact with Albert...she had not written to Albert since 1902. In 1902, when Ghyl and Bet sent Lieserl to the Core, they had also made use of Elsa to get Albert thinking about the idea that light can behave like quanta of energy.

Gravitational lens; Hubble Space Telescope
Space Dance
In 1910, Albert has one more task to complete before the Buld Reality, the world as we know it, can come into existence. Bet again makes use of Elsa to guide Albert's thinking towards a general theory of relativity. Bet arranges for Elsa to invite Albert to a performance by the Ballets Russes and Bet is able to shape an analogy between dance and gravitational lensing in Albert's mind.

Next: the theory of Temporal Amplification
More covers and posters.

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