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Jul 31, 2016

200 Years of Frankenstein

"The night when Mary Shelley,
Lord Byron and their cohorts
gathered together at Lake Geneva
to tell ghost stories." (BBC)
2016 has been a year for looking back at 1816. The year 1816 was unusually cold, following a series of major volcanic eruptions. Here in 2016 we are setting records for high temperatures as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to climb.

A Storm in the Stars
In 1816, a very young Mary Shelley began writing the story Frankenstein. How are we, as readers some 200 years later, to look upon this story?

That dismal summer of 1816, Mary's party had been gathering near a fireplace to read stories about "apparitions of spectres, revenants, phantoms" and Mary took up the challenge to write her own horror story founded upon a "supernatural occurrence".

Supernatural Occurrence
"the golem ... has served as
inspiration for such varied figures
as Mary Shelley’s monster in her
novel Frankenstein [and] a
frightening character in the
television series The X-Files"
What was the foundational "supernatural occurrence" in Frankenstein? In his narration of his own life story, the young physiologist Mr. Frankenstein tells us that he was "animated by an almost supernatural enthusiasm" during his study of "the principle of life".

Many interpretations of the Frankenstein story accept a technical absurdity: that Mr. Frankenstein, working in the back room of his house, some time in the 1700s, made some sort of deep scientific discovery that suddenly allowed him to bring to life an artificial being that had been constructed from an assortment of materials obtained from the "dissecting room and the slaughter-house". Traveling further down that fantastic interpretive path, we must assume that this new-born artificial life form was able to go out into the wild, survive, learn to think, read and speak and then magically track down and torment Frankenstein and his family in some crazed attempt to have a complementary female creature manufactured to serve as its mate and the foundation of a new species.

the living dead
It is far easier for me to adopt an alternative reading Frankenstein and view Mr. Frankenstein as the 1816 equivalent of someone like James Holmes or Seung-Hui Cho. I view Mr. Frankenstein as a young man who descends into a psychotic state in which he imagines that he created a "monster" that killed his brother (William). Frankenstein is an unreliable narrator who ultimately finds a dozen ways to say that it was he, Victor Frankenstein himself who murdered Henry Clerval, although Shelley seems to have used some sort of supernaturally animated revenant or golem as the instrument of destruction.

the horror!
Here in 2016, 200 years after Mary created her story and abandoned it to future generations of literary propagandists, the story of Frankenstein has taken on a life of its own. There is no shortage of commentators who insist that we all view Frankenstein as a cautionary tale about the dangers of science and irresponsible scientists. Case in point: earlier this year, Michael Aeschliman took the 200th anniversary of the story Frankenstein as an opportunity to warn us about "scientific hubris". As Professor Emeritus of English Literature, Aeschliman "informs" his readers that "new advances in genetic-engineering techniques" are the reality of Frankenstein’s fictitious power to animate dead material.

The Rossi Intervention
In case you are reluctant to trust an English teacher's account of the scientific implications of Frankenstein, Aeschliman cites as a scientifically trained compadre in anti-scientism Robert Pollack, himself a scientist with fringe views who since the 1970s has delighted in crying "wolf!" within the house of genetics research.

Dealing with the unintended deleterious consequences of technology has always been part of human existence. Global warming provides a good example.

Just follow the money. We've watched while people who make a living selling fossil fuels spend decades denying the scientifically predictable consequences of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Many politicians refuse to make sensible laws such as imposing a carbon tax. Rather than work to fix the global warning problem, we have "environmental activists" who irrationally fear gene modified foods.

Fru'wu: Our Alien Prometheus
Science Fiction?
For me, Frankenstein is a lame (almost unreadable) horror story that feels cobbled together from dead and lifeless textual fragments. The major character (Victor Frankenstein) is not animated as a convincing depiction of a scientist. The mention of science and chemistry in the early part of the story leads us nowhere and that tentative, promising thread is abandoned early. To play the science fiction game, an author has to try to write a story that can entertain a scientifically literate audience. In my view, Frankenstein is anti-science fiction, possibly classifiable as cynical capitalistic exploitation of ancient religious mythology and some people's morbid fascination with psychotic serial murderers.

Professor Skyriotus
My Tribute
What if a real science fiction story had actually been written in 1816? In our Reality, science fiction did not come into existence as a specialized literary genre until the 20th century. However, in an alternate Reality, the science fiction genre might have been started sooner. As my 2016 tribute to Frankenstein, I've begun to record my imagined version of the first science fiction story in the Ekcolir Reality.

Next: fun with a reasoning robot
Visit the Gallery of Book and Magazine Covers

Shelly Bot

More evidence that the story of Frankenstein has taken on a life of its own: Shelly Bot.

The Rossi Intervention

The text of Fru'wu: Our Alien Prometheus
and the cover of The Rossi Intervention
as reconstructed by Ivory Fersoni
Fru'wu
Our Alien Prometheus

Preface
A viciously distorted version of this story having been unleashed upon the world through the odious orifice of the Coburg Theatre, the need arose to correct the record of what actually happened in 1816* (see footnote, below). Undaunted by the danger and risks, our young Mary arrived in the Po valley not long after the worst of the flooding had subsided.

Mary first visited the laboratory of Professor Cerioli at the University of Pavia. He provided her with the most up to date anti-malarial kit and instructions for how to target and select among the all too numerous bodies of standing water. The next day, Mary was on the front lines of the malaria eradication effort, spreading insecticide and distributing anti-malarial kits in her assigned portion of the valley.

Mary's "vision" of the hideous Fru'wu entered into her mind on the 13th of Jilia*. It was not until the end of Aminth that she quit the relief work and returned to our island nation. Having been given hints in Mary's letters that she had suffered a life-altering experience, it was with great anxiety that we awaited her return home. Our hopes for a happy reunion were thwarted when we received the following letter....

 * footnote. Jilia = July, Aminth = August [Editor's note: The events of Fru'wu: Our Alien Prometheus took place in the Ekcolir Reality. I've translated the years from the Etruscan calendar, but used the traditional Etruscan names for months.]
______________________

Dearest Parents,

Having found favorable travel connections to Wales, I am today traveling directly to Bangor aboard the Searapid. I have received a letter of reply from Professor Skyriotus at Bangor University and you may rest assured that I am expected in Bangor and have been given welcome by the honorable Wyn Skyriotus.

My only trepidation is that the Professor answered none of my questions about the Fru'wu in his letter. However, he wrote, "...we will fully address all of these mysteries upon your arrival." Needless to say, I will communicate to you what I learn from Professor Skyriotus. It is my intention to return home as soon as I have accomplished my investigation in Bangor.

In regard to Ralph, I would of course be pleased to have his assistance. I know he is remarkably bold and competent for a young man of just 13 years, but if I were you, I would reign him in and not even mention that I am now bound for Wales. Were he to learn of this, I have no doubt that he would at once leave home and meet me in Bangor. There is no point in such a journey since I will soon arrive home and be able to satisfy all of his great curiosity with a full account of my adventures.

Your loving daughter,
Mary

_____________________

Arriving on the dock in Bangor with my one small travel bag, I was approached by a very tall, oddly dressed man. He looked like a performer from some New England circus or Wild West show. He spoke my name and lifted the bag from my grasp. "Welcome to Wales, Mary. I am Wyn. Come, my coach is just up the street."

I hurried to match his pace and it was at once obvious that Professor Skyriotus is a man of throbbing energy and unrepressed ambition. I have never seen him in a mood of rest, repose or relaxation. The coach was a light duty one horse affair with just enough room for my bag and two passengers. Setting off towards the core of the town, Wyn asked about my travels and for a time I described my recent journey from the Continent to Wales.

Bangor is a very small city and we soon passed through the city center and quickly approached the end of pavement. Wyn warned me, "You won't likely escape being decorated by our good Welsh mud." He handed me a wad of cloth that unfolded into a sheet of stiff brown stuff, rather like canvas, but thin and smooth rather than thick and course. Wyn carefully helped cover my clothing with that protective layer and we then proceeded at full speed out of town.

Like most of Europe, Wales was floundering in the end days of the coldest and rainiest summer recorded in the climatological archives. Our horse was a marvel of sure-footedness and speed. The strategy used by the Professor was to keep us moving so fast that the thin wheels of the coach did not have time to sink into the mud. We spoke not at all during the ride and my attention was given fully to wondering when we would end up in a ditch.

Finally the mad dash out of Bangor ended and I released my grip on the ride rail. Professor Skyriotus had driven us to his mansion, which is perched high on the ridge to the east of Bangor. My face was spotted with mud, but the brown tarp had protected my clothing. Miraculously, the Professor was still clean and tidy; how he had avoided being coated by flying mud I could not fathom. His stable boy led away the scarcely winded horse and I followed Wyn into the house.

We were greeted by the house maid, Cerys who immediately took me upstairs to the luxurious suite that served as my apartment during my stay. Seemingly only slightly older than I, Cerys took me in hand like an experienced mother. She bathed me and dressed me in fresh clothing in the style worn by the Professor. My new suit of clothes clung to me like a second skin. I asked, "What is this fabric?"

Cerys was rushing me back down to the first floor and all she said was, "Dearie, you'll soon learn to stop asking such useless questions." Cerys was dressed in the conventional garb of a maid, except for her shoes which were the blackest of midnight blacks and reflected not a glimmer of light. She led me through the large rooms of the first floor and I hurried to match the pace of her flying feet that mysteriously made not a sound as she moved across the floor. Then she halted.

We'd come upon Professor Skyriotus working at a great writing desk in his library/office. He looked up from his work and seemed amused to watch how Cerys nearly forced me into a waiting chair adjacent to the desk. The chair had a metalic appearance and looked uncomfortable and I was reluctant to sit on such an odd contraption, but when Cerys forced me to be seated, it seemed to instantly adapt to the shape of my body in a way that felt as if it were a living thing. I was startled by the movements of my chair and when I could finally focus my attention on the Professor, Cerys had already slipped away and Skyriotus was watching me with a look of amusement on his face. He said gently, "Now, I'm sure you are anxious to ask me a thousand questions."

That was true, but I struggled to find my first question. It was clear that the Professor and even his house were as strange and mysterious as had been my dream vision of the previous month. The same sense of alien culture clung to Skyriotus as had my vision of the Fru'wu. I blurted out, "Who are you?"

He replied casually and instantly, "Maybe it would help if I took you all the way back to my beginnings, to the time before I began my mission here on this world."

Nothing that Skyriotus ever said to me, no matter how outlandish, really came as a surprise. In a sense, my dream vision back in the month of Jilia had already taught me his story, but it was a story that had been forced into my mind sideways. The Professor now set about the task of unfolding the jumble of information that was lodged in my head. He ran one of his long thin hands across his chest. "I grew up on a far world where clothing such as we now wear is the norm. How do you like this style of dress, my dear?"

I took a moment to examine the suit that I was wearing. The fabric seemed to perfectly conform to the shape of my body, carefully covering my skin, but at the same time failing to hide even the smallest detail of my physical form. In fact, the color of the skin-tight clothing seemed to drift in a subtle way and accent my shape. "I can't imagine how this effect is achieved. Nor how this chair conforms to my every movement nor how the suds in the bath upstairs seemed to instantly peal away the grime from my face. I'm not at all shocked to hear you admit to being from another world and it was my desire in visiting you to lay bare all such mysteries. All my shock and surprise has slowly diminished in the weeks since I was struck by my dream vision of last month. I wish to know how to speak to you and learn your secrets. So, please tell me, what is the name of your alien people?"

Skyriotus replied, "I am an Ek'col, but sadly, I've never met another Ek'col. We are a small race that was crafted for a special purpose. The world where I grew up is populated by Genesaunts, a rather diverse and rag-tag lot. Still, I was well prepared for my mission to this world and I hope to soon return to my home. I can produce a few luxuries here that remind me of my distant home, but for the most part, this is a dull and uncomfortable world for me to inhabit. Our clothing is composed of extremely tiny devices that can take on any required shape and color. In my case, I can control the shape and color, but you are at the mercy of the automated program of the clothing nanites. The chair is similar, programmed to provide comfort for a seated humanoid."

It was fascinating to watch his tumbling hair as it sparkled in the candle light. Where his flowing hair ended and the fabric of his suit began I could not judge. I could easily believe that the clothing we wore and the chair I sat in were endowed with a kind of artificial life. I struggled to not be distracted by Wyn's beauty and small mysteries like "nanites". In my attempt to keep the discussion focused on important matters, I had to ask, "So, you live here in secret as an alien visitor to this world? What is you mission? Why are you here?"

Assaulted by the desperate rush of my questions, the Professor retained his aplomb and calmly explained, "My mission is simple and rather uninteresting. You should think of me as an advance operative, preparing a safe-house for future use. I've created this home and I am in the process of establishing the Skyriotus lineage as an accepted yet nearly invisible fact of Bangor society."

"How can you be invisible? Cerys must tell everyone in town about the strange goings on here."

Skyriotus shrugged. "No, not really. Cerys is quite loyal and respects my need for secrecy." A sly smile twisted his lovely lips.

The Professor seemed unreasonably secure in his anonymity. Feeling quite uneasy, I gathered my courage and said, "Well, I must warn you: I intend to tell my parents everything that I learn here."

Wyn chuckled. "Yes, I know. And that has been anticipated. In the future time when this house will be needed, your account of me and your visit to Bangor will be nearly forgotten."

Cerys had returned on her silent feet and I jumped with surprise when she suddenly spoke to announce: "Dinner is ready, sir." She immediately turned around and left the room again.

Skyriotus closed the odd books or ledgers that rested on the desk in front of him and he sprang to his feet. He took my arm and led me to the dining room where Cerys had set out two sets of dishes at one end of the long table. He picked up two goblets of wine from the table and handed one to me. "Come, the view here is wonderful." We stepped out from the back end of the dining hall onto a deck which afforded a fine view of the ocean and a sickly sun dancing through the ugly cumulus clouds of that dismal summer. The sky was tinged a ghastly orange-brown hue due to all the recent volcanic eruptions.

Behind us, Cerys was setting out soup. I tasted the wine and after absorbing the view of the setting sun, I looked upon the Professor. There was the hint of something non-human about his features that flickered in and out of my awareness. I asked, "Exactly what will this house be used for in the future?"

Wyn Skyriotus, the Ek'col
Glancing back inside, Wyn cried out, "Ah, the soup!" He put an arm around me and guided me back to the table. I carelessly spilled some wine on my suit, but the fabric seemed to instantly suck up the liquid, leaving behind no trace of stain or moisture.

We sat down and I tasted the soup and dinner rolls. Wyn ate very little and mostly talked. He thoughtfully replied to my question. "Another Ek'col operative will make use of this house when he is here in Wales during his mission in the next century. And, not to leave you wondering, he will be here on a mission to meet and romance one of the local girls."

The food was most appealing, quite the best I had consumed since leaving home for my journey to the Continent. I could feel the gaze of the Professor upon me and he seemed to enjoy glancing at my erect nipples where they protruded against the silky fabric that coated my body. I laughed somewhat nervously and asked, "So, you built this house as a base of operations for seducing young women? Is that how you have secured the loyalty of Cerys?"

As if on cue, Cerys arrived to set out the next course. She had heard my question and she told me, "I'm an artificial life form, designed to serve the Professor."

Somehow I knew what she meant. I asked Cerys, "So, you are also composed of nanites?"

Professor Skyriotus explained, "You can think of Cerys as being part nanite and part biological. An Earthly doctor would be unable to distinguish her from a real Earth woman, and indeed, she lived her first life as a biological entity." He handed Cerys his soup bowl, which he had not hardly touched while I continued to eat the delicious soup.

Cerys muttered to me, "Wyn fancies himself a great biologist, or naturalist or voyeur..... if he starts to annoy you, just call out. I'll keep him in line."

 Skyriotus chuckled, "Don't be jealous, Cerys. Mary is already spoken for."

I watched Cerys setting out the platters for next course. Small warming candles flickered under the serving dishes. I was now able to notice that her movements were fast, precise, and in some way non-human. I felt the need to inform the Professor of my situation. "Professor Skyriotus, I am-"

He interrupted and said, "You may call me Wyn."

"Very well, Wyn. I have had several suitors, but I have absolutely no plans for marriage or tying myself to anyone. I'm constructing a career in climate science and that is my priority."

The Professor, sounding somewhat deflated, commented to Cerys, "Then I suppose I need exercise no gallantries upon the girl."

Cerys said rather bitingly, "None, at all, sir." Cerys suddenly fragmented into nanite components and the elements of her body reformed into a small flock of birds that flew off to the kitchen.

I exclaimed, "What magic is this?"

The Professor said, "Cerys is a show off. She can morph the component nanites of her body into any desired form."

"I see. And as your servant, she adopts any shape and form that pleases you?"

"Well, yes, Cerys takes good care of all my needs; that is a perk of my job. Still, if you have no objections, since I so seldom have house guests, this evening I'd prefer to keep my thoughts and fantasies focused upon you."

I laughed and said to the Professor, "Oh, I don't mind your attentions. You are the prettiest man I've ever met and among the tallest. I find you and the mystery of your existence most fascinating."

Wyn sighed rather sadly and shrugged. "Well, the truth is, I am allowed no latitude in this matter, my dear. Were we to become romantically entwined, the shape of the future would be perturbed and my mission here would fail. You and I will simply enjoy a few days together then you and Ralph will return to your home in Isington."

I was taken by surprise at mention of my little brother. "Ralph?"

"He will arrive mid-day tomorrow."

"How will he find us here?"

"He will easily find us at the University."

Somehow I felt no surprise that the Professor knew the travel plans of my brother. I asked, "Exactly what is your position at the University? Nobody I spoke to on the Continent had ever heard of you."

He nodded knowingly. "My Professorship is honorary, bought by a large monetary donation to the University. I've been funding the physics department and the only useful work I do now is as a purchaser and provider of supplies and equipment for the physics research laboratories. My official title is Professor Emeritus. My colleagues at the University think I'm an eccentric old dabbler in science."

"Old?"

Wyn explained, "I can easily alter my appearance. When we are at the University I will have the appearance of an old man. Observe." While I watched, his face shifted from its youthful, almost girlish form to the weathered face of an old man. His hair changed from glossy to dull and gray. Just as quickly, he returned his appearance back to normal. This was one of the tricks I had seen in my dream vision and suddenly I realized that I was witnessing one of the scenes from my dream. Somehow I had seen this future part of my life when I was back in Jilia!

Wyn was still speaking, "My facial nanites allow me to take on any convenient form." He altered his appearance again, now taking on the form of Cerys who was just then entering the dining room with a new bottle of wine.

While Cerys opened the bottle and filled our goblets, she chastised the Professor. "Don't confuse the poor girl. Hasn't she been through enough?"

"Mary is resilient." Wyn predicted, "She'll take everything in stride." He shifted his face back to normal.

Willing myself to show no surprise at anything the Professor might say or do, I demanded, "How do you speak with such confidence about the future?"

Wyn replied brashly, "I can view the future. When I received your letter, I knew at once that you had also seen the future." Cerys gave him a cold stare and shook her head. The Professor seemed to wait impatiently until Cerys again departed from the room, then he jumped up from the table and pulled what looked like a playing card out of a fold in his pants. He tossed the "card" down on the table next to my plate. The "card" seemed to explode with color and sound, generating a complete visual scene. I found myself immersed in the sights and sounds of another room that somehow overlapped with the dining room. In that other room, there was the Professor and me and another woman and my brother Ralph, all engaged in a discussion of physics. Wyn said, "There we are, tomorrow at the university." I reached out as if to touch my dear brother, but my hand passed through his image.

Wyn picked up the "card" off the table and the image of Ralph was erased from the dining room. The professor tucked away the "card" and returned to his chair. "I'm comfortable viewing the future, but I dare not expose you to very much of your own future. Earthlings do not like the idea that their future is fixed and pre-determined."

"So, you've always known that I would arrive here today?"

"No, actually this whole Rossi Intervention was kept secret from me. I did not learn of your existence until last month when I received your letter. Then I started investigating you."

I suggested, "If you can be surprised by me contacting you, then maybe the future is not pre-determined."

Wyn enigmatically said, "There are many futures."

"What does that mean?"

"The Fru'wu provide a good example."

I was pleased that our conversation had finally turned towards the Fru'wu. "Are they one of the alien Genesaunts on your home world?"

"No, the Fru'wu are true aliens. An Ek'col like myself is part of the Sedronite family, quite closely related to you humans. The Fru'wu are part of another branch of life that evolved completely independent of Earth. However, the Fru'wu have become entangled with with Humanity and in our future they will arrive here on Earth, providing Humanity with a First Contact experience."

Having experienced a vision of the Fru'wu a few weeks previously, I could well appreciate what Wyn was telling me. From what I had seen of the Fru'wu, they were a bizarre type of un-Earthly creature. "Why are these alien Fru'wu coming to Earth?"

"This will be difficult for you to understand, but human contact with the Fru'wu is mostly a matter of temporal momentum. In a past Reality, Humanity was forced from Earth and into the galaxy by a horrible ecological catastrophe. The surface of Earth had become dangerously radioactive. In this Reality, Earth will become a hellish place because of global warming and acidic oceans."

I was delighted to hear the Professor mention a climatology topic. The study of climate was my scientific specialty and if these Fru'wu were involved with altering Earth's climate then it made sense for me, of all people, to have been informed of the ugly fate that lay in our world's future. "Ah, so that is why I was given a vision of the Fru'wu!"

Wyn nodded. "It is convenient that you are one of the world's experts on climate change.  You are among the few who can appreciate what I mean by global warming."

Cerys brought in a dessert cake and set it on the table between Wyn and I, but neither of us was hungry. I had efficiently and voraciously consumed the main course of my meal. Cerys cleared away the diner plates and retreated to the kitchen. I asked, "Don't you eat?"

Wyn chuckled. "Cerys prepared this meal for you. Frankly, I find Earthly food repulsive, even when Cerys is trying to cook to match my preferences. Don't let my finicky eating deter you from enjoying your dessert."

"I'm quite full, myself. Maybe later I'll sample the cake. It looks and smells like the kind of spice cake that my mother makes."

"I'm sure Cerys tried to duplicate your mother's recipe right down to the type of chicken eggs available to your mother in Isington. Cerys is a stickler for detail. But come, if you are full, I have something to show you." Wyn took me by the hand and led me to the south end of the mansion. The south wing was a largely glass-enclosed conservatory containing citrus trees and pineapple plants. We passed through a airlock and I found myself bathed in humid tropical air. Butterflies darted among the green foliage.

I had previously visited a similar indoors tropical sanctuary that is run by the Botany Department at Isington. I commented on the beautiful foliage, "You have a green thumb, Wyn."

"Give all the credit to Cerys." He picked an exotic orange flower from a shrub and clipped it in place among the tumble of hair that framed my face. He asked, "Do you understand how a greenhouse works?"

"Sunlight comes in during the day, but heat is trapped. At Isington, they grow tomatoes indoors during the winter."

"You've heard of the recent liquification of carbon dioxide?"

"Yes, I've read descriptions of the cryonics experiments of Harriet Davy."

"Soon, new experiments will show that carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, able to trap heat on Earth."

"My own research concerns cooling of the atmosphere by emissions from volcanoes."

"Unfortunately, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide persist in the environment long after the quicker cooling effects of volcanic eruptions have passed. And worse still, humans will soon produce carbon dioxide waste at a rate far faster than natural processes like volcanism."

I could well imagine a future in which rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide would cause the Earth to heat up. It is easy to predict that in such a future, glaciers and the Antarctic ice cap would melt, the ocean levels would rise and the seas become poisoned by acidity. I asked, "What do the Fru'wu have to do with Earth's climate?"

"The alien Fru'wu will arrive here and offer Earth a technological solution to global warming. Offered a supply of cheap energy, Earthlings will abandon the burning of fossil fuels like coal. The population of Earth will explode and a great migration of Humanity into outer-space will begin."

"That sounds like a wonderful future."

"Humanity is easy to seduce." Wyn was still standing close to me and in the hot humid air, I felt a trickle of sweat on my brow. He reached out an wiped it away. I noticed that there was no moisture on his face. "Come." I followed him out the end of the conservatory and we stepped into the cool night air. Distant flashes of lightening flickered in the sky out over the sea.

For a while we strolled through the gardens behind the house, then Wyn said, "Yes, Humanity will be seduced by the Fru'fu, but then it will all go wrong. Earth will be suddenly cut off from the alien-provided clean energy source and humans will fall back on fossil fuels to meet the energy needs of the vast populace. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will rise and the Antarctic ice cap will melt quicker than anyone had imagined possible. The heavily populated coastal plains will eventually all be submerged."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because you asked."

I could not stop myself from becoming angry. "That's all? How can you be so dispassionate about such a catastrophe?"

"I told you that it would be hard for you to understand."

"I'm not stupid, Wyn. Explain it to me. If there are multiple futures, then why must the future of Earth be so dismal?"

"Tell me, Mary, why do you think a future of global warming is dismal? There are worse possible outcomes for Earth. Far worse." Suddenly the breeze stiffened and a splattering of large cold rain drops began to fall on us. Wyn took me back inside. We returned to the dining room where he cut a large piece of the spice cake and placed it on a plate for me, topped with a dollop of whipped cream. We then went and sat in the parlor where Cerys was building a small fire in the fireplace. Rain began pouring down outside and the night became absolutely black. With the fire now flickering cheerfully, Cerys quietly left the parlor.

For a while I sat without speaking and ate the cake. I thought of my parents and tried to imagine what they would think when I told them about Professor Skyriotus and his tales of the future. I vowed to myself that I would (by theft, if necessary) obtain physical evidence of alien visitors to Earth, evidence that I could share with my parents and the world. Cerys returned with a silver pitcher.

Cerys served coffee and once more tended the fire. Wyn sat in his chair, alternately looking into the flames and glancing at me. Cerys adjusted the flu and then returned to the kitchen. The Professor seemed content to let me enjoy my dessert. Finally I set aside my plate and asked, "What is this Rossi Intervention that you mentioned?"

"As you may know, Jette Meigen named the genus of mosquito responsible for malaria after Ross and Grassi, the co-discoverers of the malarial parasite."

I shook my head. I had not known the origin of the name 'Rossi'. "I've never studied the insects."

"And yet you spent the past month battling the Rossi mosquitoes and malaria. Are you aware of just how old that battle is?"

"Some say that the Etruscan civilization was destroyed by malaria."

"Yes, well, that is an exaggeration. Still, the battle against malaria got serious when Etruscan scientists first deployed insecticides against mosquitoes. As you know, the ancient African traders brought back many plants from the New World, including maize, coca and tobacco. The ancient Etruscan's made extracts of tobacco leaves and discovered that nicotine was a useful insecticide. Of course, with time, resistant mosquitoes arose."

"Yes, resistance to insecticides was one of the examples of artificial selection used by Evelynn Darwin in her writings about evolution." I set aside my coffee cup. "Professor Cerioli's lab is now into making second generation nicotine derivatives. Such newer insecticides are an important part of current malaria eradication efforts."

The Professor and I proceeded to then have a long discussion of evolution and biological topics. I understood very little of what he told me, but it was clear that my own understanding of life and living creatures was quite primitive compared to what he knew. The more Wyn talked, the more I could appreciate how much we humans have to learn about the world. As the evening progressed, my head was swirling with dozens of new scientific concepts that the Professor had introduced me to.

Wyn finally brought the rather theoretical scientific discussion we were having back around to me. "Any how, as a foot soldier in the war against malaria, you were exposed to high levels of one of Cerioli's new insecticides. That is what triggered your vision of the Fru'wu."

"Wait, now. How did an insecticide give me a vision of alien visitors to Earth? Visitors who have not yet arrived?" At that moment a clock in every room of the house signaled the arrival of midnight.

When the chimes and gongs had all echoed away into silence, Wyn stood up and took my hand. He guided us to the second floor. "We have reached the end of the day. You will have two more days here with me, so we need not try to answer every one of your questions tonight." He pushed open the door to my suite and Cerys was already there, pulling off the decorative bed covering from my bed. Wyn wished me a good sleep and went down the hallway to his own rooms.

Cerys asked, "Would you like a hot bath, my lady?"

"No, I just want to write a letter."

Cerys lit candles on a large writing desk and pulled paper, ink and pens out of a drawer. "Can I get you anything else?"

I sat down at the desk and again marveled at how the seemingly living chair adjusted itself to my body. I asked, "Is there any way to make these chairs stop groping and massaging me?"

"Yes, of course." Cerys gave a flick of her hand and instantly the chair I was in stiffened and felt like a normal chair. "You will not be bothered again. That's one of Wyn's juvenile tricks and exactly what I meant when I told you to let me know if something is bothering you."

"Thank you. If it is not too much trouble, could you bring me a small glass of milk?"

"At once!" She departed and I quickly wrote a short note to my parents.

___________________

Dearest Parents,

Today I was met on the dock in Bangor by Professor Skyriotus. Wales is also suffering through a cold and wet summer. I greatly fear that all of Europe and possible the world will face starvation this winter.

I am now at the Skyriotus Estate, just east of Bangor. Tomorrow we plan to collect Ralph at the University.

The Professor is a spinner of tall tales and fabulous stories. I have no way of judging if he has told me the truth about my dream vision of last month and I am reserving judgement until two days hence at which time Ralph and I will depart Bangor and return home.

Wyn Skyriotus in not a normal man. He claims to be from a world on the other side of our sky, sent to Earth on a mysterious mission. Strangely, the more he explains his past and our future the more confused I become.

Tomorrow when we visit the University, Wyn will tell Ralph fantastic tales of future science. How do I know? I have seen that part of my future. This is not magic or delusion! Rather, Wyn possesses  special devices that can display views of the future. Somehow, the dream vision that came to me in Jilia also contained images from my future, some of which I have now caught up with and experienced.

I find myself in a place of wonders. Even as I write these words, I am under the cool observation of the Professor's familiar, a strange artificial creature who can take on any shape or form. Now, I must sleep, for I am eager to see the new wonders that tomorrow will bring.

Your loving daughter,
Mary

_____________________

By the time I had finished writing the letter, I had also drained my glass of milk. Cerys sat on the end of my bed, her long legs angling down to the floor. Her maid's uniform was gone and she was now clothed in only a shimmery black body suit that conformed to her every curve.

She jumped off the bed and put my letter into an envelop that already had on it the address of my parents' home in Isington. One of her hands turned into a flying creature that carried away the letter. With her other hand on my arm, Cerys guided me to the bed.

All the candles in the room were suddenly extinguished and and I found myself wrapped in the comforting embrace of Cerys, who began to sing the way my mother would sing when I was a child. Despite the strangeness of my surroundings and the many odd events of that day, I almost immediately fell into a peaceful sleep.

To be continued in Part 2 of  Fru'wu: Our Alien Prometheus

Next: 200 years of Frankenstein
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Jul 24, 2016

Dimensional Transmutation

In the Ekcolir Reality
Original cover art by Earle Bergey
One month ago I was forced to reconceptualize the boundary between the Ekcolir Reality and the world as we know it (the Final Reality). I've long been aware of the fact that time travel is no longer possible. For several years I imagined that the dimensional shift which made further time travel impossible occurred within the Buld Reality. However, a casual comment by Gohrlay finally forced me to take seriously the idea that it might be best to view that dimensional shift as the true start of the Final Reality.

temporal attractors
The transition from the Ekcolir Reality to the Buld Reality was very complex. In fact, there may have been dozens of Reality Changes between the end of the Ekcolir Reality and the start of the Final Reality. "The Buld Reality" might be a misnomer. It might be more sensible to say that there was a group of linked "Buld Realities" within which the Buld made First Contact with Earth in the late 20th or early 21st century. The Final Reality is thus the last of the "Buld Realities".

Trick or Treat
Just before the Final Reality
Original cover art by Virgil Warden Finlay
and Frank Kelly Freas
Identifying the precise beginning of the Final Reality might be perceived as an academic hair-splitting exercise, except for the fact that the Huaoshy tricked Trysta into agreeing to the terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact and then made a last minute change to the Final Reality.

Upon learning that the future had somehow been "hidden" from Trysta, I immediately suspected that she had made an error when she trusted the Reality Viewing equipment that was available for her use in Grean's workshop. However, Gohrlay insists that Trysta's Viewer was not tampered with. The problem was, any Reality Viewing device must always emphasize those potential future Realities that are the most probable.

source
According to Gohrlay, Grean was able to surprise Trysta because a favorable, low-probability future was identified by the Kac'hin of planet Tar'tron. It may be that the telepathically-linked group mind of the population of Tar'tron was able to access a vast quantum computational power that is normally only available to the Huaoshy within the Sedronic Domain.

Knowing that dozens of micro-changes would be effecting Earth during the creation of the Final Reality, the Kac'hin searched for improbable futures that optimized alignment of Earth and Humanity with Huaoshy ethical principles. By doing so, they identified a future in which Thomas Iwedon and the Dead Widowers never published any accounts of First Contact with the Buld. In that Reality (within which we now exist) it falls entirely upon a single Earthling (the Editor) to release the entire story of how the Huaoshy long ago reached Earth and set our world on its path towards the Final Reality.

prepared for publication by the Dead Widowers
Having been tricked in such a devious way, it might seem that Trysta would harbor resentments. However, it was impossible for Trysta to complain because the new Reality that was forced upon her by Grean was significantly better than the "original Buld Reality" that had been the basis of the Trysta-Grean Pact.

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 this image.

History Of Earth in the Buld Reality
spatial dimensions
One of the great secrets of the universe is the exact time when the dimensional structure of the universe was changed, making any further time travel impossible. I suspect that Deomede was able to figure out the exact time of that dimensional transmutation.

The Rossi Intervention
According to Gohrlay, Deomede departed from Earth on the Buld spaceship in 2012. It remains to be determined if he was allowed to leave behind a copy of his great opus, History Of Earth in the Buld Reality. Apparently the Dead Widowers tried to publish several accounts of the Secret History of Humanity including The Trysta-Grean Pact by Ivory Fersoni, but the tryp'At Overseers did not allow those efforts to succeed.

Next: The Rossi Intervention
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Jul 23, 2016

Prelands

I've been writing about Prelands for several years, but, of course, I've never actually seen one. Originally, I first heard about Prelands from the perspective of the Buld. In the Galactic Core, the Buld crossed paths with Prelands on worlds such as Hemmal. Both Parthney and Kach grew up on Hemmal and Kach actually spent several years interacting with Prelands. However, it is not clear that even Kach ever saw the true physical features of the Prelands.

My ideas about the physical appearance of Prelands were strongly influenced by the infites that I received from Parthney.

Three artificial life forms and Parthney.
Center: one simulated human female.
Left + right: simulated Prelands.
Most of the Buld and Parthney apparently only ever saw impersonations of Prelands as performed by the pek who lived among the Buld on Hemmal. Those performances by the pek always emphasized the unusual facial features of the pek, particularly their small jaws and narrow mouths.

The Prelands of Hemmal are what Gohrlay calls "Core Prelands". Later, when I began to receive information from the Atlantis Clones, I started learning about the Prelands of Earth, the Giant Prelands.

The Sedronite family tree.
Thus, it is not clear that any human has ever actually seen a Core Preland and lived to tell the tale. However, rumor has it that Core Prelands are small and elf-like. However, such rumors might only be disinformation.

Most recently, I've been questioning Gohrlay about the nature of her fellow Observers when she lived her first life at Observer Base in the First Reality. Also, in the First Reality, there were "wild Prelands" living on Earth. I must classify all of the the Prelands known to Gohrlay as Giant Prelands, although there were differences between the wild Prelands and the "mock Prelands" of Observer Base.

Preland Overseers
One of the most confusing aspects of Preland biology is how the Prelands have been altered in various Realities of our Reality Chain. The Prelands of the First Reality had significant differences from the Prelands that are here in the Final Reality. When R. Gohrlay and the positronic robots of Earth took control of the galaxy, they were particularly upset by the existence of Prelands. The positronic robots were devoted to we humans and deeply offended by the fact that the pek had been systematically replacing humans with Prelands.

In ways that have never been explained to me, the positronic robots altered the basic genetic character of the Prelands. Some of those genetic modifications involved the transfer of Asterothrope gene combinations into the Prelands.

Prelands of the First Reality
source
Of course, the Observers (such as Gohrlay) were almost completely ignorant about the zeptite endosymbionts that had been used to give Observers a Preland-like body form. That was a small "joke" by the pek, who in the First Reality were very close to driving the human species into extinction and making the Prelands the dominant primate of Earth.

After the positronic robots took control of Observer Base, those robots and the Observers entered into a long period of discovery. Eventually some level understanding of nanotechnology was achieved among R. Gohrlay's tribe of robots, but it was not until after the negotiated end of the Time Travel War that anyone on Earth was allowed to fully understand the importance of Earth's zeptites. It was the Atlantis Clones such as Angela who were able to access the information resources of the Hierion Domain and construct an outline of how zeptite endosymbionts were used by the pek back in the First Reality of our Reality Chain.

source
It is only now, with the help of Gohrlay, that I am able to make sense of what Angela learned about zeptites. One of the capabilities of zeptites is that they can provide organisms such as we humans with complete protection from invaders such a viruses. However, when the Prelands were designed as the primate species that would replace humans on Earth, the pek were constrained by the ethical principles of the Huaoshy. In particular, the Prelands had to be an "integral life form" of Earth, not some foreign invader that was defended against Earthly microorganisms by zeptites.

I can only speculate about how the pek solved the problem of adapting Prelands to the viruses of Earth. It seems certain that the Prelands were designed and crafted on worlds of the Galactic Core such as Hemmal. While evolving new species on worlds in the core, the pek have always been careful to maintain linkages to Earth for continual update/exchange of viruses. Thus even before Prelands were placed on Earth, they were already resistant to Earthly viruses.

source
According to Gohrlay, the pek are masters of crafting multiple "versions" of the Prelands that are genetically identical, yet have distinct morphological features. By activating different developmental guidance programs in the zeptite endosymbionts of Prelands, two major types of Prelands can be produced:

1) The "Giant Prelands" were designed to be deployed on Earth and compete successfully against humans. The Prelands of Earth were constrained by their zeptite endosymbionts so as to make them adept tool users, but with very little capacity for tool creation and manufacture. The Prelands who were placed on Earth by the pek were meant to "immunize" Earth against possible development of a technologically sophisticated primate like humans. These Prelands of Earth were able to drive humans nearly to extinction on Earth. According to Gohrlay, the Giant Prelands were morphologically quite similar to we humans.

source
2) In contrast, the physical features of the "Core versions" of the Prelands were shaped by another type of developmental program as enforced upon them by their endosymbionts. The Core Prelands such as those of Hemmal could never be confused with humans. Core Prelands were artificial primates, forced to rely on nanite-assisted feeding and reproduction. For a time, there was a cadre of "elf-like' Core Prelands who carried out missions to Earth.

The Observers at Observer Base when Gohrlay had her brain scan were actually humans crafted to have body features similar to Core Prelands. They thought of themselves as being the source of the "next evolutionary step" that would produce another type of primate that would inherit Earth. Gohrlay is amused by my misguided efforts to depict the physical features of the Prelands, but she refuses to correct my errors.

Next: Tricking Trysta
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