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Dec 26, 2015

Breaking Bad

"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
The title of this blog post might have been "breaking bad habits" or even "breaking barriers". I've never seen the TV show. The topic here is, as usual, science fiction and my starting point is writer Samuel A. Peeples.

Wagon Train
I arrived as a child of the Space Age, coming into existence at the same time as NASA. The early 1960s were a strange time to become conscious. My brother, just 2 years old than I, was a fan of Westerns. In contrast, I became a fan of science fiction.

In the black and white world.
Going where no European Settler
has gone before.
Some of my earliest memories: watching people who were watching Westerns on television, shows such as Wagon Train. Back then, the world was only black and white. I was like a dog watching people who were watching television and thinking: "Please take me outside for a walk."

Breaking the color barrier.
When my eyes could finally focus on the images that danced upon our small black and white television screen, I tried to understand my strange world, a place where primates would sit for an hour watching horse-drawn wagons spend 8 years traveling from Missouri to California.

Wagon Train to the stars
source
Of course, primates were making rapid progress. Soon, the world was in color and Project Apollo took us from Yuri Gagarin in low Earth orbit to the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon in just 8 years. Peeples, a writer of Western-themed novels, ended up writing some television scripts right at the start of the Space Age. He crossed paths with Gene Roddenberry and when Roddenberry started talking about the idea of creating a television program set in outer space, Peeples suggested that the new show be a "Wagon Train to the stars".

From the stars to Wagon Train.
In a previous blog post, I expressed my fascination with writers who had the audacity to "cross over" from Westerns to science fiction. In the case of Peeples, while his main interest was in the Western genre, he was apparently a fan of science fiction. Wagons spaceships, ho!

Galactic Barrier
When Star Trek was being born, Peeples wrote a script for what became the episode called "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This story and its paranormal theme provides a fascinating example of the boundary between science fiction and fantasy.

Sally Kellerman
We can take the Star Trek story that Peeples wrote as a challenge: can we imagine future science that would "explain" the events depicted on screen in "Where No Man Has Gone Before"? A fundamental bit of future science that Peeples inserted into the Star Trek fictional universe is the idea that humans have a latent capacity for paranormal abilities. Contact with the "energy barrier" at the edge of the galaxy causes those latent abilities to activate, so Sally Kellerman was soon able to wield an amazing telekinetic superpower.

Gary Lockwood
Good vs Evil
And, lucky for us, Sally happened to be on board the Enterprise because she was able to resist the temptation to become a goddess and she helped Kirk and Spock kill Gary Lockwood. Apparently Lockwood was selected to play the role of lieutenant commander Gary Mitchell because he naturally struck other people as being an arrogant and egotistical prick. In the episode, Lockwood did a great job of transforming into an evil god-like creature who would not hesitate to lord his paranormal superpowers over lesser beings. In 1965, Peeples would not have been working in Hollywood unless he was willing to write 50 minute morality plays in which good triumphs over evil.

Village of the Damned (1960 movie)
The Peeples Monster
In Hollywood, one formula for creating a "science fiction" story involves first inventing a monster. Freaky monsters with paranormal abilities are fairly common in Hollywood, but where do all these raging monsters come from? In Hollywood, a popular method to create a monster is by "mutation". Suddenly, an ordinary guy or critter transforms into the star of a horror story! Peeples transformed Gary Lockwood into a monster by crashing the Enterprise into an "energy barrier" at the edge of the galaxy.

Galactic "energy barrier"
The question becomes, why does crashing your starship into the "negative energy" barrier at the edge of the galaxy trigger the latent paranormal abilities of humans to activate? What part of Gary Mitchell is the source of his paranormal abilities? His eyes? His brain? What is his source of power? The melanin of his graying hair? Well, in 1965, in Hollywood, we are not supposed to ask such questions.

The nicotine laser!
I blame John Campbell for giving a paranormal tinge to science fiction. Through his editorial biases, Campbell gave authors motivation to include paranormal plot elements in science fiction stories even if there was no thought given to the future science that would account for magic tricks like telekinesis.

When it came to his favorite types of paranormal phenomena, Campbell favored non-critical thinking over skepticism. Apparently he was a sucker for people like Joseph Banks Rhine and Lafayette Ronald Hubbard who found ways to deceive themselves and others about paranormal phenomena. After helping create the science fiction genre, Campbell became an embarrassment to writers such as Isaac Asimov.

A Sedronite family tree.
2015
However, here in 2015, I've been exploring the future science of telepathy and precognition. Specifically, my current writing challenge is this: how should the Phari activate the latent "paranormal" abilities of Glinnes Hulden and Duissane Drosset? Ya, I put "paranormal" in quotes because in the Exode Trilogy, all of the seeming magic can be accounted for by advanced technology at work. My fan fiction story, The League of Yrinna, fits nicely into the Exode Fictional Universe.

Gift Exchange
Both humans from Earth and the Pheni of planet Yrinna are Sedronites. As such, they contain within them sophisticated artificial lifeforms.

Sedronites
Those artificial lifeforms are composed of zeptites and the bumbling humans have no means of detecting such tiny sedronic devices. All of the zeptites inside each person function as a living endosymbiont that can influence the behavior of the host organism. Reading this over my shoulder, Gohrlay continues to insist that my distinction between a human organism and its zeptite endosymbiont is an artificial distinction. Humans evolved in the presence of zeptites and all of our biology and behavior is constrained by the presence of zeptites inside our bodies.

Special thanks to Miranda Hedman (www.mirish.deviantart.com) for the DeviantArt stock photograph "Black Cat 9 - stock" that I used to create the blue "sedronite" who is in the image to the left.

If we think of our zeptite endosymbionts as being a "gift" from the pek then we can ask: what would happen if we could exchange our usual endosymbiont for a different "style" of endosymbiont? In particular, let's say, the kind of endosymbiont that is inside a Pheni on the planet Yrinna.

in the Ekcolir Reality
(click image to enlarge)
For The League of Yrinna, I imagine that this type of "endosymbiont swap" was performed long ago and the results were dramatically bad. Then the Phari began trying to adapt humans to become better hosts. Glinnes Hulden and Duissane Drosset are not perfect hosts for the Phari, but at least they don't die or go insane when a Phari takes up residence inside them. In particular, with a Phari endosymbiont, Duissane can use the Bimanoid Interface and (with some help) access information in the Sedronic Domain.

Psychomorphosis
A key issue that I have not yet resolved is if such a "gift exchange" of one endosymbiont for another is permanent. I'm toying with the idea that Glinnes and Duissane might have to travel through time in order to find a time/place where they can live happily ever after.

I like the idea that they might do historical research at the Connatic's Library on Numenes and discover some of Glinnes' ancestors. Only later will they realize that they must travel back through time and become their own ancestors, thus providing Trullion with critical genes that were needed for the Phari breeding project on Trullion.

Related Reading: going beyond science fiction -Ray Palmer
Related Video: 16mm format Star Trek

Next: do you have the reading disease? 

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