Sep 6, 2016

The Junius Revolution

in the Ekcolir Reality
original cover art by John Schoenherr
also: rocket from Fireball XL5
This blog post is part of a series celebrating the first 100 years of the Vance Era. Simultaneously, I get to confirm and demonstrate my inability to resist creating fan fiction stories that are inspired by the novels of Jack Vance.

Junius Farfan is a character in Jack Vance's novel, Trullion. Farfan leads a revolutionary movement on the planet Trullion known as Fanscherade. The name 'Junius Farfan' was an adopted name and his birth name has not been handed down to me through the rather twisted historical "record" upon which I depend.

First thing this morning, Zeta and I got into a discussion of Junius Farfan and the idea that he was a genetic mutant who could escape from the controlling influence of his zeptite endosymbiont. By the time point in the far future of the Asimov Reality when Farfan lived, the name 'Junius' had been used by a long series of revolutionaries (example) who found themselves trapped in societies that they disliked. Below, I provide an account of another 'Junius' from Deep Time.

In the Asimov Reality
Fiction in the Ekcolir Reality.
spaceship by Rui Teixeira
Recently, I began to wonder if my memories of Zili Tanki might have been erased. I began carefully searching through a set of jumbled memories that I received from Ivory Fersoni. Those memories were placed into my head by infites that I received from Ivory, but I suspect that the remnants of those memories now only exist in the form of biological synapses in my brain.

Angela and Anney had provided Ivory with an extensive catalogue of science fiction stories from the Ekcolir Reality. In that Reality, the science fiction genre had been designed as a way to prepare Earthlings for First Contact with the alien Fru'wu. In the Ekcolir Reality, John Vance (an analogue of Jack Vance) published a story called 'Junius and the Fruqu' which included an account of contact between the Fru'wu (I don't know why they are called 'Fruqu' in Vance's story) and humans in the Asimov Reality. Here is the synopsis of 'Junius and the Fruqu' as "told" to me by Ivory:
In the Ekcolir Reality.
Original cover art by Nat White.
Jenny Pherrus arrives on Earth in a small spacecraft that can travel at faster-than-light speeds between the stars. Her one fellow passenger is an alien creature, a member of the Fruqu species named Edem. The Fruqu want to stimulate the people of Earth so as to allow them make a dramatic advance in technology. Edem is a physicist and his mission is to teach humans about hierions and sedrons.

The spaceship that carried Jenny and Edem to Earth was powered by sedrons. However, the ship had only enough sedronic fuel to carry them to Earth. The Fruqu plan is for Earthlings to learn enough about sedrons so as to be able to obtain and manufacture their own sedronic fuel. Also, by reverse-engineering the spaceship that carried Jenny to Earth, humans should be able to make their own faster-than-light spacecraft and travel to the stars.

In Part 1 of 'Junius and the Fruqu', humans learn how to use hierions as a source of energy that can replace fossil fuels. After spending some time living with humans, Edem tells Jenny that he is tired of Earth. He returns to his home world, located near a distant star.

In the Ekcolir Reality.
Original cover art by Hubert Rogers
and Edward Valigursky
After the sudden unexpected disappearance of Edem and the alien spaceship, doubts arise among the people of Earth about their ability to build a working faster-than-light drive. Jenny, using a collection of hierion-based femtobots provided to her by Edem, transforms herself into Jenius, a kind of alter-ego that can use the Bimanoid Interface and continue having contacts with the Fruqu via the Hierion Domain. Jenius departs from Earth in a hierion-powered spaceship and is never again seen on Earth.

In Part 2 of 'Junius and the Fruqu', with the help of hints that Jenius receives from Edem, Earthlings discover that they can mine sedrons from the gas giant planets of the Solar System. Working at her secret base inside an asteroid, Jenius and a team of engineers from Earth develop the required technology for mining sedrons. Her chief collaborator, Liam Hove, becomes Operations Manager at the Jenius 1 sedron mine in orbit over Jupiter.

Original cover art by Hubert Rogers
With a supply of sedrons in hand, Jenius splits herself into two parts. Her remaining biological components produce her son, Lije Hove. The femtobot components of Jenius reconfigure and bring into existence Junius, a simulated Fruqu. Junius, pretending to be a Fruqu and newly arrived in the Solar System, works with a new generation of human physicists who have an understanding of hierions. After much effort, Earthlings managed to manufacture a primitive sedron-powered spaceship. Earthlings could now finally travel to the stars using a spaceship built on Earth and the expansion of human civilization to distant exoplanets began.

In Part 3 of 'Junius and the Fruqu', humans began to spread outward from Earth to distant stars. However, the first generation of sedron-powered spacecraft could not exceed the speed of light. Among the first explorers who set out to visit nearby star systems was Captain Lije Hove. Meanwhile, Junius continued to educate Earth's physicists and engineers and improvements were made in spaceship design. Now able to quickly travel hundreds of light-years on voyages of discovery, the son of Lije Hove, Sir Julian Hove, became the first star-ship captain to visit the Rigel Concourse.

cover by Howard Kistler
Reading this over my shoulder, Yōd commented, "What if this 'Junius' in Vance's story was really Zili Tanki'?"

Answering with a question, I asked, "Would Vance have named a female character 'Junius'?"

"Are you sure it was Vance?"

"According to Ivory, most of the Junius stories were written under various pseudonyms, but they were all apparently written by the two Vance twins."

Zeta was working nearby, using her tablet computer. She looked up and said, "Didn't you tell me that in the Ekcolir Reality, the analogue of Jack Vance was born as twins and one of the twins was female."

"That's what I was told by Ivory, but it never made sense that two identical twins could be born with one a boy and the other a girl."

Yōd sat down and fired up her new computer. "No problem there. Developmental control nanites such as those that shaped my embryonic development on Tar'tron could easily convert a male embryo onto a female."

"Interesting. Here's something else I've long puzzled over. In his novel Trullion, Vance said that there was a word 'fan' in a language called 'old Glottisch'. He gave a derivation of 'Fanscherade', saying that in old Glottisch the word 'fan' was used to refer to a 'corybantic celebration of glory'.

Zeta asked, "So, the founder of Fanscherade named himself 'Farfan'?"

cover art by L. Galluppi
"Yes. Junius Farfan."

Yōd looked towards the shelf where I keep my copy of Trullion. She asked, "What sort of revolution did Farfan hope to achieve?"

"Unlike most residents of Trullion, the Fanschers were not satisfied to live their lives only for the rewards obtained from simple daily pleasures. Their goal was to awaken the great human quest for new knowledge and revive from past ages of Humanity the glories of exploration and discovery."

Zeta has some familiarity with the works of Jack Vance in the Final Reality. She asked, "Didn't Jack Vance write a story about how humans obtained the secret of faster-than-light spaceflight?"

"In this Reality, Vance's story 'The Five Gold Bands' was published in 1950. It later appeared in book format under several different titles." I paused, thinking about what Ivory Fersoni had told me about the versions of this story that had been published in the previous Reality.

Yōd suggested, "Maybe I should read that story. It might hold clues to how humans actually attained access to Intersplit technology."

Fiction in the Ekcolir Reality
Five Gold Bands
I continued with my account of the various versions of the 'gold bands' stories from Deep Time, "However, in the Ekcolir Reality, 'Five Gold Bands' was a different story, co-authored by Asimov and Vance. In that version, much of the secret history of alien contact with humans was told."

Yōd complained, "And yet, none of this really gets us any closer to knowing the details of First Contact in the Asimov Reality. All we know is that multiple accounts of that First Contact event have been written, and all of the accounts that we are aware of might simply be smokescreens that were designed to hide the truth."

At that moment I noticed a knowing glance that was shared by Yōd and Zeta. "At one time, I made a serious effort to take control of my replicoid in the Hierion Domain. I was blocked out by Irhit and so I have since relied on others, for example, Alpha Gohrlay."

Both Yōd and Zeta pretended to work busily at their computers. I pressed my point, "I'd like to know to what extent either or both of you can use the Bimanoid Interface to obtain information about Deep Time."

Again Yōd and Zeta glanced at each other. Silence hung heavy and neither of them seemed to want to respond. Finally Zeta suggested, "Maybe there is a way to trick the tryp'At."

Yōd giggled, "It seems unlikely. Here we sit in this room with the tryp'At agent who has been stationed on Earth. For his whole life, all the details of his life have been monitored by Irhit in the Hierion Domain."

Replicoid Time
Zeta nodded, "Worse, if we did ever discover a hidden secret from Deep Time, the tryp'At Overseers would not hesitate to wipe our memories or even cart us off Earth. We're playing with fire just by continuing to investigate First Contact in the Asimov Reality. We know perfectly well that there is a secret there, something that has been carefully concealed from Earthlings."

I objected, "Concealed, yes, but also brought to our attention. I suspect that there is some aspect of this secret that we must reveal, even if we remain ignorant of the full story." Neither Yōd or Zeta wanted to look me in the eye. "My question remains: can either of you go directly to the source and probe the Sedronic Domain for information about Zili Tanki?"

correcting time
Zeta said, "Irhit wants to explain something to you."

I heard a subtle swooshing sound and then suddenly there was a copy of me there in the center of the room. Irhit spoke directly to me, "You've already repeatedly guessed, discovered or been told the secret of First Contact in the Asimov Reality. I've removed that knowledge from your mind each time. Neither Yōd or Zeta was put on Earth to provide yet another opportunity for you to waste time on this matter."

I was not happy to be confronted by Irhit, boldly standing there in my home. "This cat and mouse game reminds me of the battle between Baley and Giskard in Robots of Dawn." I could tell that Irhit knew exactly what I meant. "Eventually Baley was allowed to remember Giskard's secret."

First Contact
Zeta confessed, "Irhit has already been forced to make such a compromise with Yōd and I."

That irked me. "What? You know... and you have been pretending that you do not know this secret?"

Yōd explained, "Irhit shared the secret with our replicoids, just a short time ago. Both Zeta and I agree that it is for the best if you do not know the full details of this particular aspect of Deep Time."

Irhit added, "So, ask yourself: do you trust Yōd and Zeta to act in your best interests and for the good of all Earthlings?"

Miners of Earth
I growled, "Of course not; you know me better than that."

"You drove away Alpha Gohrlay with this foolishness."

I was still licking the wounds that I'd suffered from the departure of Alpha Gohrlay, but I felt stronger for all my travails. "Maybe so, but I don't think you can just subtract everyone from Earth. Yōd and Zeta and I are all part of Earth's timeline. You're stuck with us. Why not work with us?"

Irhit scowled at Zeta and then was gone. I muttered, "I suppose this is why there are so many different versions of the First Contact story. Eventually, a writer simply has to sit down and write the story."

Yōd grimaced and said, "Well, if you are ready to write, I better set up a website to hold the story." She went to work with her new computer.

The Asimov Reality
Zeta pulled a copy of Trullion off the book shelf and sat down beside me. She murmured a question, "When do you think the truce between R. Gohrlay and Grean began?"

"Ivory never specified a date for the return of Jenny Pherrus to Earth, but I suspect it was in the early 21st century." For a moment I watched her reading the page in Trullion that describes the miserable fate of Junius Farfan. "R. Gohrlay and Grean must have agreed to facilitate the spread of humans to thousands of worlds in order to make possible the creation of new human variants."

Zeta closed Trullion and suggested, "It makes no sense that Farfan would be disposed of so casually if he had a new gene combination that allowed for block of his zeptite endosymbiont's ability to suppress scientific curiosity."

According to Ivory, the Farfan character was based on a real individual who lived in the Asimov Reality. "Note that Vance never described the ultimate fate of all the Fanschers."

human gene experiments
Some of the Fanschers probably shared a similar genetic pattern with Farfan. I could not dismiss from my thoughts the possibility that Zeta knew more about this matter than she was allowed to share with me. Once more I noticed Yōd and Zeta sharing a knowing glance. I tried not to begin thinking of Yōd and Zeta as being my handlers rather than my collaborators.

Next: working with Yōd

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