Jan 22, 2017


by Jasper Schreurs
"one of the most important tasks of the artist is to create a world of his own" -Hanna Segal

I'm comfortable with the idea that science fiction world building is an artistic endeavor when it is carried out by skilled writers such as Jack Vance and Isaac Asimov. Vance and Asimov each crafted a fictional future galaxy where they could play and exercise their imaginations.

Space Aliens
One of that classic science fiction plot elements that Asimov largely ignored was the issue of encounters between humans and technologically advanced beings from other worlds. Vance was much more willing to include alien creatures in his stories, but when he did so, he was usually taking an approach that was exactly opposite from that used by Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke often depicted aliens as being much more technologically advanced than humans. Vance's aliens were usually at a technological level that seemed quite similar to that of we humans, although he included artifacts such as the Rigel Concourse and the Star Kings that suggest a previous presence of advanced civilizations in our galaxy, beings who apparently long ago moved on to bigger and better things.

An ambiguous case of an alien creature found in Vance's work are the Fwai-chi. I like to imagine that various life forms in Alastor Cluster including the Fwai-chi and the Merlings of Trullion played important roles if shaping human evolution. Maybe most of the Fwai-chi and Merling species transcended their physical bodies and "moved on" to become artificial life forms in the Hierion Domain. However, devolved versions of both species might have been crafted as "devices" for putting environmental pressure on the humans who arrived in Alastor Cluster. Such "devices" might be "puppets" that are controlled by master programs existing in the Hierion Domain. The individual Fwai-chi and Merlings who appear in Vance's stories might not actually be independent, conscious beings.

In Chapter 8 of A Search Beyond, the question is broached: might some Earthlings also be unconscious automatons? This topic is raised by Anney who is familiar with the efforts that her clone sister Ivory made to reveal part of the secret history of Earth to the people of Earth in a published format that was not science fiction. Ivory had genetic evidence of her own biological uniqueness, but when she tried to publish that evidence in a science journal, she met with resistance and was quickly removed from Earth by the tryp'At Overseers. This matter is discussed in the context of the tools and methods that are available to the tryp'At Overseers for monitoring events on Earth.

Yōd and Zeta argue that it is not a matter of some Earthlings being unconscious automatons, forced to behave in a pre-programmed way. Rather, humans were originally constrained by their zeptite endosymbionts to only be able to use their brains for the generation of wish-fulfilling fantasies. In the First Reality, the bumpha carried out a human breeding program that was designed to reduce the ability of pek zeptites to constrain human thought in this way. At Observer Base, the first Earth humans who became free of their pek zeptites started the first human flowering of artistic and scientific creativity.

Of particular importance in the First Reality were 1) the members of the Escapist Clan who became the first human science fiction story tellers and 2) the first human scientists who devised the science of positronics. Yōd and Zeta believe that first flowering of human creativity was made possible by completely liberating a few human brains from their zeptite endosymbionts.

Later, when the Trysta-Grean Pact was being crafted, the pek insisted (and R. Gohrlay agreed) that a more elegant means was needed to "liberate" humans from the constraints imposed by their zeptite endosymbionts. Thus, during the Trysta Truce, a Phari endosymbiont was crafted that could work in parallel with human zeptite endosymbionts.

A Search Beyond (image credits)
Yōd believes that here in the Final Reality, only a subset of the human population on Earth has the special genetic pattern that is required to allow them to even host a Phari endosymbiont. In contrast, Zeta suspects that all Earthlings now carry a Phari endosymbiont, but only a subset of humans have a special gene combination that allows that Phari endosymbiont to modify the activity of the person's zeptite endosymbiont. These competing hypotheses are raised in A Search Beyond, but questions about the status of humans as being truly "free" or behaviorally constrained by their zeptite endosymbionts hangs over the entire Exode Saga.

Next: Retroreading: The Star King.
visit the Gallery of Book and Magazine Covers

No comments:

Post a Comment