Sep 11, 2016

Rackham's Law

As usual, today began with a three-way argument between myself and my two collaborators, Yōd and Zeta, over the best way to write about the Asimov Reality. I have little interest in pretending that the story of Deep Time is science fiction. In contrast, Yōd is intrigued by the idea that it could be vital for us to adhere to standard conventions of science fiction writing in order to avoid provoking the ire of tryp'At Oveseers. Zeta is a pragmatist and simply wants the job to be completed.

That breakfast-time argument descended into a philosophical discussion of the nature of science fiction as a literary genre. Yōd casually mentioned "Rackham's Law". She asked innocently, "Can't we all agree that the terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact require that the secret history of Humanity be written in the format of a science fiction story?"

Next: illustrating A Search Beyond
Reconstructed from the Ekcolir Reality. Special thanks to Miranda Hedman ( for the DeviantArt stock photograph "Black Cat 9 - stock" that I used to create the blue "sedronite" who is in this image. Original cover art by Carolus Thole, John Gaughan and Dwight Morrow.

Reconstruction from the Ekcolir Reality.
the Final Reality (cover: Milton Rosenblatt)
Zeta nodded, but asked, "What is your definition of 'science fiction?"

Yōd then suggested, "A story written by someone who makes use of the science fiction method."

I complained, "Whatever that means. I'm skeptical that there is only one such method. My two favorite science fiction authors approached story writing from totally different directions."

Zeta was not so sure about that. "Well, Asimov and Vance were both entertainers. Their love for good stories flowed through their finger tips into the stories that they wrote."

As usual, Yōd was using her new computer. She handed it to me. "Here is Fred Pohl's suggested method... imagine a change in the world and then write about how that imagined world would work."

I find Pohl's 'science fiction method' to be rather broad. How does it distinguish science fiction from other types of fantasy stories? When Yōd mentioned Rackham's Law, I did not know much about John Phillifent beyond the fact that he was born in the same year as Jack Vance. I was aware of his 1954 story about smoking on Mars (The Master Weed) because of my interest in nicotine and I find it amusing that his 1973 space elevator story is called Beanstalk.

I handed Yōd's computer back to her. "You know, the bumpha imagined a change in their world. Look where that led."

Zeta chuckled. "Yes, and even Parthney adopted the motto of the bumpha: Change Your World."

In the Ekcolir Reality.
original cover by Milton Rosenblatt
 Yōd was puzzled. "Parthney? What world did he change?"

Since meeting her, I'd been surprised to learn that while Yōd's knowledge of Deep Time is quite complete, in contrast she knows very little about recent history. I launched into a little monologue sharing some of what I knew about Parthney with Yōd. Summing up, I said, "In one sense, Parthney was a place-holder, but he was the one who set Hana free. Eventually, he did start the chain-reaction that led to Thomas spending some time at Observer Base. Later, when Thomas passed his infites to me, I finally got some useful insights into Overseer operations. For that reason alone, I'm grateful that Parthney visited this world."

In the Ekcolir Reality.
original cover art by Milton Rosenblatt
Zeta added, "Yes, Parthney's mission on Earth was largely a waste of time and effort. It was as if he only visited this world in order to eventually be captured by the Overseers."

Yōd began skimming through what I had previously written about Parthney. She looked up from her computer screen with a grin on her face. "Now I remember! Asimov told me about Parthney and his relentless efforts to contact Asimov. Poor Parthney got treated like a kook."

Zeta mused, "It is ironic that in the Final Reality, the Asimov analogue was allowed to know so little about Deep Time. It must have been quite a revelation when he was finally contacted by his replicoid."

"Yes, he was quite shocked; the copy of Asimov who was taken off of Earth was, at first, offended by the idea that his Foundation fictional universe had actually once existed as part of Deep Time."

I asked, "Did Asimov know anything about First Contact between the Phari and Earthlings?"

Yōd replied, "When his replicoid was running the Writers Block, Asimov funneled vast amounts of information about the Asimov Reality to writers such as Patricia Pohl. Sadly, the Asimov analogue here in the Final Reality knew almost nothing about the Asimov Reality... he was still caught up in temporal momentum from the Foundation Reality."

"Right!" That jogged my memory. "Ivory left me a summary of a story called 'The Phari Portal'. Apparently the Phari could infiltrate the Hierion Tube that R. Gohrlay had created for Earth." I had been unable to stop myself from wondering if Yōd was functioning as an agent for the tryp'At. She had effortlessly slipped herself into my life and was now altering my thinking about how to tell the secret history of Humanity.

I was speculatively looking at Yōd and trying to imagine the processes that went on in her mind. When Zeta had taken Yōd shopping, some new clothes were purchased along with a new computer. Yōd refused to wear the new clothing, instead she preferred ancient garments that either Gohrlay or I had worn out. Apparently Yōd was having trouble adapting to the feel of rough clothing on her skin.

Yōd looked up from her computer screen and discovered my eyes resting upon her. She asked, "What?"

Zeta had been watching me and she told her sister, "He can't keep his eyes off of you."

Trysta and Ekcolir
"Well, a strange idea just popped into my head." I tried to capture the structure of that idea. After a long pause, I continued, speaking to Yōd, "Paranoia comes naturally to me. That Zeta knows well. I asked myself: why did the two of you suddenly arrive and start pushing me to focus my efforts on writing the story of the Asimov Reality?"

Zeta interrupted to ask, "Pushing?"

I continued, "I'm not complaining. I'm glad I was pushed because I started thinking about the optimal way to describe Earth's Reality Chain to a naive audience that knows nothing about Deep Time. I was knocked out of my old rut in which I had become comfortable with the idea of starting the Exode saga with the tale of Trysta and Ekcolir. During the past week I've changed my mind and I'm willing to go along with the idea of starting the entire Exode story with an account of the Asimov Reality."

Foundations of Eternity
Yōd nodded and said, "Good. Now we can get to work and-"

I cut her off. "No, not quite. That does not mean now is the time to push ahead with my investigation of that Reality. I've decided that it makes more sense to wait until Asimov arrives back on Earth next year. Right now, I'm going back to what I was doing before the two of you arrived and distracted me."

Yōd and Zeta exchanged a long mutual gaze. I could imagine an on-going discussion in the Hierion Domain among the gathered replicoids who were monitoring our Earthly conversation. Zeta finally said, "According to Irhit, you intend to now investigate the First Reality."

"Correct. Now, while I have the two of you here, I'm going to wring out of you everything I can concerning Gohrlay and events leading up to the revolution that she launched at Observer Base."

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