Google+

Oct 13, 2018

Google-

google albums
I occasionally blog about google because this blog is hosted on google's blogger.com service. This blog is devoted to my obsession with science fiction and I have fun illustrating stories (see the images to the right on this page).

I've previously blogged about the saga of how google bought Picasa and the blogspot blogging service. Google's blogger.com service made use of Picasa to archive images used by bloggers. Then the Picasa web albums became integrated into google's social media platform, Google+. Why? Asking such questions is like asking what goes into sausage.


its an ads ads ads ads ads world
Killer App
To this day I don't understand Google+. Back before the age of the internet, computers had "killer applications". When the internet arrived, there was a great web page editing tool called Netscape Composer which allowed for easy creation of web pages and I used it for making web pages before there were dedicating blogging applications. For a time, back in the 1990s, Netscape Communicator was the "killer app" for nerds like me who wanted to put their ideas on the internet. Sadly, during the first Browser War, Microsoft's hideous browser was bundled with computers and Bill Gates declared Internet Explorer a "killer app".

Think of the people who created software such as Composer and how they were swamped by the Microsoft behemoth. There is a strange process by which people who know and love computers get replaced by marketing specialists. Think of tech nerds like Steve Wozniac being replaced by people like the sugar-water salesman John Sculley. After the dramatic rise of Facebook (the "killer app" for social media), the folks at google could not stand the idea of so much internet advertising revenue being channeled through social media unless they could get into that business, too.

settings for this blog
Google tried to follow the same kind of strategy that made so many people Internet Explorer users: they forced Google+ accounts on users of other google products. To this day, there is a Google+ link at the top of this blog, stuck there by google.

plus.google.com
I doubt if there was a single person at google who ever cared about Google+ for any reason other than trying to compete with Facebook for advertising revenue. And that is not saying anything special about Google+. I get exactly the same feeling for how google has "developed" their blogging platform and what they did to destroy Picasa after they bought it. In an era when insanely great computers and software have been made by dedicated and enthusiastic people, almost as many great products have been systematically destroyed by megalithic companies like Microsoft and google.

If you build it, they will come
Of course, some people actually did start using Google+. It was sad to see their dismay at the Google+ community pages this week after they got the word that Google+ is being discontinued.

That announcement of a Google+ phase-out came along with a report that there was some sloppiness in the handling of some Google+ user data (WSJ). Since there are "only" a few million Google+ users, I'm sure it is not worth google's time and effort to keep Google+ running.

Google+ link at the top of this blog
My only concern about the demise of Google+ is related to the fact that I currently have hundreds of links from this blog to web pages like this one. Will those links continue to be supported by google?

It is now 5 days after google said it is going to close Google+ and if someone follows the Google+ link at the top of this blog (and if they have so far never been forced to have a Google+ account) then they will be invited to create a new Google+ user account!

Any screen
WYSIWYG
One of the worst experiences of my life was typing my senior thesis on a manual typewriter. Lucky for me, by the time I had to put together my Ph.D. dissertation I had a Macintosh computer and WYSIWYG word processing software and access to a laser printer. In the early days of the internet, web page creators would tell the world which screen width and display resolution their web pages had been designed and optimized for. I still wish that blogging platforms such as Blogger and Wordpress shared a standardized system for web pages on which text and images would scale equally when readers use their page zoom controls. I'd like every viewer of my blog to see things exactly as I designed them to be positioned on the web page. Mega corporations such as google don't care about things like this, but bloggers do.

WYSINWYG
The screen shot image below shows what the first draft of this blog post looked like on my computer when not using google's Chrome web browser:

Here it is again with a different browser, google's Chrome:

Oct 7, 2018

Green v White

Monument Cliff on Xi Puppis X
In my previous blog post, I mentioned the the positronic robot Nyrtia and two young humans, Georgy White and Rylla. "Rylla" is a shortened, alternative from of "Verella" who is the grand-daughter of the Editor.

YYY
Here in this blog post, I will outline the links between Nyrtia, Georgy, Rylla and Qaz Nivsahham, who has long been active on Earth as an Interventionist agent that can take the form of a human being. In the 21st century, Qaz appears on Earth in the form of Georgy White, a young biologist.

Original cover art by
Boris Vallejo
At the start of A Search Beyond, the Trysta-Grean Pact is in place and alien beings are no longer allowed to reside on Earth. However, all laws create gray zones and two non-human beings who still live on Earth, R. Nyrtia and Qaz, are in a gray zone that was created by the Trysta-Grean Pact.

As time travelers, R. Nyrtia and Qaz have been struggling to control the fate of Earth over a temporal span of about 2 billion years and they can both make the claim that they have been Earthlings for billions of years, hence, they have a right to remain on Earth for as long as they choose to do so. Is there anyone who can stop them?

In the Buld Reality
Original art by Malcolm Smith
The main point of contention between R. Nyrtia and Qaz concerns one of the key parameters of the Trysta-Grean Pact. Under the terms of the Pact, there was to be one Earthling who was permitted to provide a written account of the Secret History of Humanity (the Editor). Under the terms of the Pact, the Editor was to:
1) have NO physical evidence for alien visitors to Earth
and
2) be restricted to publishing his account of the Secret History of Humanity in the form of a science fiction story.

in the Buld Reality
spaceship by Leo Morey
Qaz is trying to move Earth into a "post-Editor Era" (she refers to that goal as the PEE) in which Rylla can be the first human to have physical evidence that "ancient aliens" visited Earth and guided the creation of the human species." Qaz "acts through" her agent on Earth, Georgy White, to obtain and reveal physical evidence for the presence of the Phari on Earth over 2 billion years ago. Georgy is fascinated by the idea that fossil organisms have been waiting in rocks for billions of years, waiting just for her to discover them.

its not easy being Green
source
In contrast, R. Nyrtia believes that Qaz is misguided and worries that Qaz might cause the collapse of the Trysta-Grean Pact. R. Nyrtia suspects that the humans who currently reside on Earth are not ready to deal with the implications of obtaining physical evidence of alien beings who have visited Earth. In order to push her agenda, R. Nyrtia takes control (through the wonders of nanites) of another Earthling, Maria Green, and attempts to suppress and hide the evidence of a Phari presence on Earth that Georgy and Rylla obtain.

Max Bertolini
artist interview
According to information available to me in the Yōd infites, Maria Green published several "tell all" stories about Qaz in the Buld Reality. However, it appears that in the Final Reality, R. Nyrtia may be quietly winning her struggle against Qaz and the Interventionist forces.

Qaz selected Georgy White as her tool for revealing evidence that the Phari were visiting Earth 2 billion years ago. Georgy is a young paleobiology research student who studies the remnants of ancient lifeforms residing old rocks.

Original artwork by Gary Frank
Mocking Qaz, R. Nyrtia selected Australian science news reporter Maria Green as the means to counter Georgy and suppress release of news reports about the discoveries made by Georgy.

Playing a trick on Rylla, R. Nyrtia briefly makes use of nanotechnology to turn Maria's skin green. By doing so, R. Nyrtia was able to demonstrate to Rylla that Maria is not a normal Earthling. This knowledge allows Rylla to begin believing the wild stories that her grandfather tells in the Exode Saga.

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Oct 4, 2018

T Time

the positronic robot, Nyrtia
I've been searching through the infites that I recently obtained from Yōd. I was intrigued when I came across the name of a positronic robot who I had not previously known about: Nyrtia. Apparently the positronic brain of Nyrtia was created from the Gohrlay mind pattern shortly after the destruction of R. Gohrlay in the First Reality. In a very real sense, Nyrtia was a replacement robot for R. Gohrlay. Before being destroyed, R. Gohrlay recognized that positronic brains held the key to time travel, but eventually, after a long and arduous research effort, it was Nyrtia who became the first time traveler.

"Science fiction always bases its future visions on changes in the levels of science and technology. And the reason for that consistency is simply that—in reality—all other changes throughout history have been irrelevant and trivial. " -Isaac Asimov

Gohrlay's Brain
T? Teleportation, Telepathy and Time Travel. How (and why) have these fictional technologies become part of the fabric of science fiction story telling? For the Exode Saga, I imagine that the science fiction literary genre was created by space aliens in order to reveal to ignorant humans the truth about how the human species was created. So, the sequence of events is 1) ancient aliens developed advanced technologies that made possible teleportation, technology-assisted telepathy and time travel. 2) the ancient aliens with those advanced technologies guided the evolution of the human species (for example, shaping the human brain so that it could make use of technology-assisted telepathy). 3) Science fiction stories about teleportation, technology-assisted telepathy and time travel have been deliberately used to introduced humans to the truth about our origins as a species.
source

The Asimov Reality

Time Travel
In his time travel novel, The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov introduced the idea of there being a period of time during which humans could engage in time travel, then, at the end of the story, the time travel technology is taken away. That was an interesting twist on time travel that allows a story teller to put an end to otherwise endlessly dismal time travel wars. In the Exode Saga, R. Gohrlay was the first to fully utilize time travel technology and develop special technology for Viewing the future. Later, the Huaoshy developed a more advanced type of Reality Viewing technology that allowed Reality Chains to be Viewed.

"Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it's the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself." -Ray Bradbury

Dr. Asimov
Eternity Is A Place
In the The End of Eternity, Asimov left many of the technical details of time travel unexplained. Through millions of years, humans used time travel to shape human culture on Earth, but none of the time travelers shown in The End of Eternity really understood how time travel worked. In the middle of the story, August Sennor asks, "Why does Reality possess inertia?" He also asks how it is possible that Harlan can know exactly how to alter the flow of time so as to create a new Reality. The Eternals were not allowed to know anything about telepathy or the Bimanoid Interface. Those were secrets held by R. Gohrlay.

dangerous technology
Matter duplication is one of the advanced technologies that the Eternals were careful to edit out of the flow of Time. Matter duplication is a natural consequence of teleportation, so for as long as Eternity existed, the people of Earth were not allowed to have teleportation technology.

And of course, the Eternals make sure that humans (through all Time) are not allowed to have atomic power. Simply too dangerous.

in the Ekcolir Reality
It is instructive to compare Isaac Asimov's time travel novel to the work of his contemporaries such as Poul Anderson. Anderson was also concerned with nuclear technology. Anderson's 1952 novel Vault of the Ages is a story about events 500 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization. Anderson earned a physics degree, so maybe his time travel story can be more sophisticated than The End of Eternity, written by Asimov, a mere biochemist?

One way time travel 
I previously blogged about a story called "Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson. If you have seen the movie Avatar then you will be comfortable with the plot of "Call Me Joe" where the mind of a human must be linked (by magical "psibeam" technology) into the body of an alien creature on another world. Anderson published a time travel story called "Flight to Forever" in Super Science Stories Nov. 1950 (PDF download here).

Hierion Tubes
In "Flight to Forever", our hero, Martin, must confront the "perversity of vacuum tubes" while trying to develop time travel technology. While heading off on his way to work one day, Martin assures his sweetie, Eve, that he'll be right back: after all, he's only making a short trip of 100 years into the future in order to check on an automated time probe that never returned from the future. Of course, the problem is bigger than a faulty vacuum tube. Martin discovers that due to unavoidable facts of physics, you can only travel a few years into your past. Having gone 100 years into his future, he finds that he can never go back through time to return to his beloved Eve. Ultimately, Martin discovers that if you travel into the (very) far future then you go past the end of the universe. However, all is not lost! Everything resets and you magically find yourself at the start of the universe. So, after traversing all of the future and all of the past, Martin successfully returns home to Eve. Whew!

in the Ekcolir Reality
In general, I enjoy imaginary technologies that have constraints. In "Flight to Forever", Martin's time machine is like a battery-powered aircraft. Anderson "explains" that that it takes an infinite amount of energy to travel more than just a few years into the past. In contrast, Martin never runs out of energy during his infinite "flight" into the future.

Through most of the story, Martin stops off at various future times and everyone he meets knows about time travel technology, and everyone believes that there is no way to travel into the far past. Eventually, Martin becomes the first time traveler to discover that you can reach any point in your past "simply" by first going ahead to the far future, past the end of time. Having made this amazing discovery, will the universe suddenly change: won't everyone through all time now have time travelers showing up from their future? Anderson never tells us the answer to that question. Having reached the page limit for Super Science Stories, the story abruptly ends.

source
Teleportation
For the Exode Saga, I imagine two very ancient types of space alien. The Huaoshy (masters of sedronic physics) long ago developed a type of teleportation that has limitations: long-range teleportation of hadronic beings near large amounts of hadronic matter (such as stars) cannot be precisely controlled. Huaoshy teleportation was developed to allow for very long-range transfer of sedronic matter through intergalactic space. In contrast, the Phari (masters of hierion physics) found another method of teleportation that allows for teleportation of people between a planet like Earth and a world such as Tar'tron in the Galactic Core. The Phari method of teleportation even allowed them to move whole planets around the galaxy!

Telepathy
source
For the Exode Saga, there is both "natural telepathy" and technology-assisted telepathy. I've previously blogged about the origins of my interest in telepathy. R. Gohrlay discovered that a positronic brain makes twitino-mediated "natural telepathy" practical. However, when the Huoashy changed the Dimesnional Structure of the universe so as to put an end to time travel, that change to the physical laws of the universe also put an end to "natural telepathy". However, technology-assisted telepathy using femtobot and zeptite endosymbionts remain as options for we humans.

Bimanoid Interface
source
For the Exode Saga, I imagine that when R. Gohrlay needed a way to turn the human population of the galaxy into a telepathically-linked defense network (Galaxia), she made use of a Phari technology called the Bimanoid Interface. At first, her goal was not to provide humans with a form of technology that would allow for shared language-like communication. Even before R. Gohrlay became aware of the Phari, the Bimanoid Interface had long been used to make possible a Momentum of Time, a way to make Reality Engineering practical.

Later, at the end of the Foundation Reality, R. Gohrlay realized that in order to bring an acceptable Final Reality into existence (acceptable in terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact) she would need to endow a select group of humans with a more sophisticated form of technology-assisted telepathy. During the Trysta Truce of the Asimov Reality, human variants were selected that could use a Phari-derived femtobot endosymbiont to transmit language-like signals via the Bimanoid Interface.

An Ek'col male and an
Asterothrope female
The Asterothropes had a form of "natural" twitino-mediated telepathy, but after the Huaoshy altered the laws of physics to make further time travel impossible, twitino-mediated telepathy no longer worked.

In order to make possible the success of the Trysta-Grean Pact, R. Gohrlay was given access to a Gohrlay clone that could carry out femptobot-mediated telepathy. At the same time, the pek created the tyrp'At in order to monitor and constrain the telepathic Gohrlay clones.

Through all of Time, R. Nyrtia, the positronic robot who became the first time traveler, was kept secret by R. Gohrlay. One of the important tasks accomplished by Nyrtia was that she went far back in time to make certain that one of the Phari Bimanoid Interface modules that existed in a Phari cavern inside Earth got copied, thus ensuring that a momentum of time could apply to all Realities.

memory editing by nanites
The game that I'm playing with the Exode Saga is that I must always explain the sources of information that are used to piece together the hidden history of Earth. There is no omnipotent narrator for the story. So far, all of the sources of information have funneled down to the Editor. However, what if the "true" Editor has not yet been found? I'm currently exploring this possibility while writing about a newly discovered character named Rylla and her friend, Georgy White. Rylla and Georgy stumble upon physical evidence for the presence of alien visitors to Earth some 2 billion years ago. Rylla has a "third type" of technology-assisted telepathy that was created specifically for use by humans living under the terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact. After their discovery of physical evidence for aliens, Georgy is given a choice: have her memories of the evidence for ancient aliens erased or be teleported to Observer Base. Rylla is able to remain on Earth and take over the duties of the Editor.

Next: Georgy White vs Maria Green

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Sep 15, 2018

Leapfrog

Through the Looking-Glass
I've long wondered about the fate of Marta, Ivory's mother. Now with Yōd's infites in my head, I've been recovering some old, suppressed memories and a few of them concern people like Marta who have shaped the course of my life. Ivory, my first collaborator, was always reluctant to tell me anything about Marta, so recovery of memories concerning Marta has never been easy for me. In contrast, Ivory provided me with a detailed story about a clone of Gohrlay who I know as Phenence Chentz. Now the Yōd's infites have unlocked a second story about Phenence.

Marta's Finishing School
Zeta has warned me that there could be a type of nanoscopic warfare taking place inside me. There might be fundamental conflicts between the infites that I obtained from Ivory several years ago and those that were recently bequeathed to me by Yōd. Cognitive dissonance created by such a battle of nanites might explain the confusing swirl of memories that I am currently trying to sort through and arrange into a coherent thread. One of the surprises that has bubbled up in my churning memories is the mystery of Bonny, a woman who briefly popped into my life back in 1977.

Zeta and I have continued to argue about the identity of "Bonny" and during the past few days those discussions have frequently prompted me me think of Marta and my sister. Some of my earliest memories are of my sister reading to me. Strangely, those fuzzy memories have always been linked in my mind to my interest in mathematics. Among the memories encoded in the Yōd infites, I found what I assume is an old memory from Zeta which reveals how my sister taught me the meaning of codes and ciphers.

However, I now realize that as a very young child, I could have easily been fooled into thinking that I was being read Lewis Carroll stories by my sister when, in fact, someone else was there, preparing my mind for the idea that important information about actual space aliens could be hidden in science fiction stories.

For the past several years I've been contemplating a set of conceptual puzzles that were stored within the infites that I received from Ivory Fersoni. I suppose those fragmentary and scrambled thought trails predispose me to contemplate the idea that it was Marta who impersonated my sister and taught me about codes and now I have to wonder if "Bonny" was actually Marta in disguise. Maybe there were days in my youth when someone like Marta temporarily took the place of my sister and took that opportunity to alter the course of my life.

in the Hierion Domain
I've long imagined that Marta might still be living somewhere on Earth, but it is more likely that she simply has the ability to move between the Hierion Domain and Earth. Or maybe that should be "had". I believe that non-humans have been "phased out" and are now prevented from interacting with we Earthlings, so there may be no hope of contacting Marta and seeking confirmation of her role as "Bonny".

Today I was discussing with Zeta the idea that we might one day be able to make telepathic contact with people at Observer Base. I suggested that Marta might still be in residence there. Zeta told me, "Yōd never mentioned Marta in her accounts of events at Observer Base during the past few years. However, on several occasions she mentioned that there was a clone of you living at Observer Base."

source
Several years ago, Alpha Gohrlay casually mentioned that I am just one of a group of clones, just as Alpha, Zeta and Yōd are all clones. I told Zeta, "It is easy for me to imagine how it might have been useful to create 'backup copies' of me, but I have a strong aversion to the idea of contacting a copy of myself." I once again tried to stretch out my telepathic tendrils towards Observer Base. I felt no linkage to another mind... nothing. If there mere a copy of my brain there, we should be able to establish a strongly resonating connection via the Bimanoid Interface. "If such a copy of me were still there now, why wouldn't I be able to communicate with him by telepathy? No, I can't buy that."

Zeta nodded, "That particular aversion was carefully constructed and strengthened early in your lifetime. Similarly, I am aware of the fact that there have been Gohrlay clones in every Reality, but I don't like to think about the lives that they led in Deep Time. I've been trained to be forward thinking. Anyhow, there may once have been a clone of you at Observer Base, but he has probably been sent back to the Core."

I asked, "Do you think that more Gohrlay clones might be constructed in the future?"

"Maybe. However, I believe that events on Earth are now tightly constrained by the terms of the Pact, so even if the Huaoshy had reason to make more copies of me, I don't think those copies would make their way to Earth."

"You may have been trained to keep your thoughts centered on the future and completion of your mission on Earth, but I am more focused on the past. It is my job to write about the hidden history of Earth. Ivory shared my obsession with the past."

Zeta always gets annoyed when I start praising Ivory and recounting the important role she has played in my life. Zeta gave a deep sigh and told me, "I don't enjoy thinking about all of the past lives that were lived by my clone sisters, but when I was a child I was given access to a library that described those past lives."

I asked, "All of them?"

Zeta shrugged. "We were told that for a time, soon after the Huaoshy were forced out of this galaxy by R. Gohrlay, there was a gap in the recorded history of events on planets such as Taivasila. There have always been rumors that R. Gohrlay may have 'captured' some Gohrlay clones, but that seems preposterous. At most, some Gohrlay clones might have lived parts of their lives after being cut off from the Huaoshy. However, even if the archived accounts of the past lives of Gohrlay clones are incomplete, those archives are extensive."

I asked, "Are they so extensive that you would not have noticed gaps in the record?" Zeta shrugged. "I suppose you could not possible have read about all of those lives."

Zeta nodded. "Remember, most of my education was accomplished by means of infite-mediated information transfer.


Phenence
I don't hold onto any real hope that I might ever actually meet Phenence, so I am dependent on people such as Ivory and Zeta to provide me with information about her life. Given my scientific training, I am always concerned about the need to verify and confirm stories. I don't trust any account of the past that reaches me from only one source.

In the past few weeks, Zeta and I have been experimenting with our telepathic communications link that is made possible by the Bimanoid Interface. When Zeta completely opens her mind to me, I can "dive in" to her memories and "read out" parts of her infite-encoded memories.

Those infite memory stores are vast and finding a relevant memory is challenging each time that I "dive in". In this case, the information about Phenence that was provided to me a few years ago by Ivory has allowed me to find another story about Phenence inside Zeta's mind. Why a story? This gets complicated, but apparently there have been multiple "generations" of Gohrlay clones and several of them have devoted their lives to creating summary accounts of the lives of all the other Gohrlay Clones. According to Zeta, some of these 'Gohrlay historians' lived in the far future of the Ekcolir Reality.

When I learned about the existence of Roben and Phenence from Ivory, Zeta was watching me and she was motivated to reviewed an archived story about the life of Phenence. When I went prowling through Zeta's memories, I accessed Zeta's memories of her review of that historical account of the life of Phenence. That all makes sense... just as long as you accept that creating dozens of Gohrlay clones has been common practice in every Reality and as long as one is able to deal with the idea of an 'historical account' that was written in the far future and could reach me here in the past by means of infites.

Phenence was the first Gohrlay clone to reach Earth since back in the First Reality. Phenence was born in the Asimov Reality. The copy of Phenence who briefly visited Roben in the Ekcolir Reality was apparently an artificial lifeform, a copy of the original biological Phenence.

___________

The barriers of mistrust and antagonism that had separated R. Gohrlay from the Huaoshy for millions of years began to crumble in the face of the vast power exerted by a single microscopic egg cell. R. Gohrlay was allowed to grow and nurture a clone of Gohrlay that grew into a young woman known as Phenence.

Phenence became obsessed with Earth and her fellow humans. Growing up in the Hierion Domain among positronic robots, Phenence had know love and serenity, but she was driven by her curiosity to seek out contact with her fellow humans. In her seventeenth year, those simmering forces of curiosity had reached the point where R. Gohrlay was forced to assist Phenence in making plans for a visit Earth.

Phenence had long been training for a mission to Earth: she was to provide Trysta Iwedon with an update on her mission parameters. For several years her trainers had routinely told Phenence that it was not until she was 21 that she would travel to Earth. When she turned 16, Phenence began proposing "field trips" to Earth, short visits that would acquaint her with the culture of Earthlings. She'd made her case: "At least allow me the opportunity to see where Trysta lives. I don't want to stick out like a sore thumb when I eventually meet Trysta. I want to blend in with the local residents and not attract attention."

Of course, there were complications and delays. It was not until the following year that arrangements had been made for Phenence to arrive in Bangor, Wales and stay for a month, playing the role of an exchange student visiting from Wellington, New Zealand.

Mrs. Parnell met the train from London and had no trouble recognizing Catherine the second she stepped off the coach. The girl stood there looking around the platform, holding a big, over-stuffed cloth bag. Edith stepped forward and called, "Welcome to Wales, Miss Fenence!"

Catherine turned and recognized Mrs. Parnell from the photograph she had received. She smiled and said, "I'm very happy to finally arrive! Please call me Cathy."

"Very well, Cathy... and I insist that you call me Edith." She took the military style pack from Cathy's hand and asked, "Is this your only bag?"

Cathy replied, "It is. I followed your instructions and traveled light."

"Excellent. Then let's be on our way." Carrying the rather heavy pack in one hand, Edith put her arm around Cathy's slim waiste and guided her off the platform to where she had parked two bicycles, one of which had attached a small two-wheeled cargo trailer. Edith placed the pack into the trailer and the two women peddled off through the city.

Phenence in the
role of Cathy;
Wales, 1936.
After a last push up a steep little hill they reached Edith's house. Around back was a shed where they left the bicycles. Again carrying Cathy's pack, Edith pointed down slope and said, "That brick building is the school. You are welcome to attend classes, but if you want to treat the next month as a vacation then I need not mention the word 'school' again."

They went directly to the second floor of Edith's house and Cathy was introduced to her new wardrobe. Edith said, "If you want anything more frilly and less functional, we can pick it up in town. My biases run towards sporty and comfortable."

Cathy held out some cash and said, "I'm pleased that you went to the trouble of providing me with local clothing, but please allow me to pay for this expense"

Edith shook her head. "You know the rules. You are my guest. I have more money than I know what to do with. I inherited this house and I am well paid as a writer for the Women's Daily. Every year it is my pleasure to host a visiting student on exchange. I only regret that you will be here for a single month." Edith pulled a pair of pants out of a drawer. "You certainly weren't fibbing about your height and the length of your legs. I hope these are long enough for you."

Cathy took the pants from Edith and began changing her clothes. "I'm afraid I've grown two more inches during the past year, but I'm sure these are fine." While she dressed, Cathy felt Edith's eyes upon her. Buttoning up her blouse, Cathy asked, "You live here all by your self?"

"I often travel, so sometimes this place seems little more than another hotel. When I'm away for an extended period of time, often I rent to artists and scholars who want to spend a few months in Wales, so I'm not too attached to this place. It belonged to my uncle and aunt, but they moved to America and so now it is mine. Any ash trays, whisky and tobacco that you see in the house are remnants of the men who I've rented to. Now, I suspect you are hungry... you certainly are skinny enough to look hungry! Let's go to the kitchen and get you a snack."

Cathy found that she was a bit reluctant to eat. She had only been on Earth for a day, having been teleported into London. The smells of Earth were unsettling and in many cases off-putting. She sat in front of a plate of cookies and a big glass of whole milk that had chunks of cream floating on the surface. She asked Edith, "So you never married?"

Edith laughed. "You are quite forward... I approve. I don't like mousy little girls. I grew up sailing and fishing and hunting with my brothers, but they died in the war. I found it a challenge to find other boys who lived up to my fond memories of my brothers. Oh, I've had suitors and lovers, but most men find me arrogant and brash and not prized marriage material. For one thing, I can't cook. Well, more to the point, I'm too antsy and busy to take the time to cook. Here in my old age, I've discovered other interests besides men. I call myself 'Mrs. Parnell' and pretend to be a widow just so as not to offend those folk who expect a woman to be attached to a husband."

Cathy tried soaking one of the stale cookies in the milk. "If you don't mind revealing your secret, how old are you?"

"I'm thirty five."

"That's not old. I'm pleased... when I applied to the student exchange program I had imagined getting a sponsor who might have gray hair and an addiction to knitting."

"Oh, I'm sure that's how I will end up... a lonely old hag, but I'm not there quite yet. Hosting exchange students such as you helps keep me young and gives me ideas for the stories I write."

Cathy was making a mess on the kitchen table with cookie crumbs and split milk, but Edith did not seem to care. With no napkin in sight, Cathy wiped her chin with the back of her hand. "You'll write a story about me?"

"Not about you, but something interesting that you do will inspire me and I'll write about that. When I meet new people I usually find myself searching for shared interests."

Cathy gave up nibbling and set the soggy cookie on the plate. She said, "Thank you for the snack. I just discovered that milk here tastes different than back home."

Edith cleared the table. "It all depends on what the cows eat. My aunt used to keep some goats right out back, here. Have you ever had goat milk?" Edith led the way through the back door and they stood on the back porch. Rolling pastures stretched off into the distance. The ocean sparkled to the west.

Cathy said, "When I learned of your skill at swimming, I decided to investigate and found that swimming is great fun."

"You didn't learn to swim as a child?"

"No, unless you count my first nine months in amniotic fluid."

"No, that is just floating, not swimming. If you like, you can join me on my morning swims, but be warned. You have to get up before dawn and I don't want to hear complaints about cold water." She pointed to the row of outbuildings behind the bike shed. "That's the old goat barn and this used to be a chicken coop, but I rebuilt it into a sauna. Each morning when I get back from my swim I warm myself up in there. Yes, I've learned to pamper myself in my old age."

And so it was. Each day Cathy and Edith were up before dawn to swim, then they relaxed in the sauna until they started to over-heat. Usually they would have brunch at one of the nearby inns and then head out for the day on a hike or they would bike to a scenic destination. Cathy never tried going to the school. She did not really understand the concept of schooling or how children were expected to learn while sitting in box-like rooms.

Edith Parnell
One day they visited the ruins of an ancient church and got back home late. Edith looked through her mail and immediately read a note that had arrived in a small pink envelop. That night, laying in bed, Cathy heard Edith slip out of the house.

Cathy had been waiting for such an opportunity. Her main goal during this visit to Earth had been to try to get a glimpse of Trysta Iwedon. Or, short of that, at least see Trysta's house.  Cathy watched Edith set of through the low light of a crescent moon across the pasture behind the house, moving in the direction of Trysta's house. Cathy followed, carrying a small device in her pocket. It was a device of alien origin, designed to block telepathic communications. The device was absolutely essential for Cathy's mission.

She had been warned: "Trysta can easily detect nearby people using her telepathic powers, so don't try to approach her house unless you are wearing this device. It will shield your thoughts from Trysta, but she will still be able to see you. That might be the most dangerous possibility of all, that she could see you and fail to detect any thoughts in you."

When Cathy reached Trysta's house, there was only some dim candle light in the upstairs bedroom. Before coming to Earth, Cathy had been briefed on Trysta and knew that on this night there were two children in the house, but Trysta's husband was out of town. Edith was one of Trysta's secret lovers. Cathy tried both the front door and the back door, but found them locked. Then a light came from the kitchen. With irrational boldness driven by powerful curiosity, Cathy looked into the kitchen through a small gap in the window shade. Trysta and Edith were there, drinking wine. Cathy was getting dressed, but Trysta was naked. Seeing the two women share a goodbye kiss, Cathy tore herself away from the window and lost herself in shadows of the forest to the side of the house.

A minute later, Edith came out the back door, pausing for one last kiss with Trysta, then she set off back towards home. The door closed and soon the house was dark. Cathy set off, following Edith at a discrete distance, her biggest worry was that she might step on a dry stick and make a noise. It was not long before Edith stopped and looked around. She started walking across the pasture towards the trees where Cathy stood. No more than fifty feet away, Edith stopped again and called out. "Cathy! Show yourself."

Cathy stepped out of the shade and into the dim moonlight. "Here I am." She approached Edith, feeling silly at having been caught spying. For a moment Cathy wondered why she had not been warned to be more careful. Surely R. Gohrlay had looked into the future and seen this unwelcome turn of affairs.

Edith took hold of Cathy's hand and led them across the pasture back towards her home. "I suppose I should have told you that I was going out and invented a reason to leave you home alone."

Cathy shook her head. "That would have made no difference."

Edith laughed. "I see... you are clever and curious... a dangerous combination. You remind me of me!"

"I'm glad you understand the fantastic power of curiosity. The next time I come to Wales I must contact Trysta and provide her with important information. Tonight I simply wanted to see where she lives."

Edith asked, "Did you see more than you expected to see?"

"I had hoped to get a look at Trysta and I got lucky. I don't know who has the more remarkable body, you or Trysta."

"It is Trysta, without any doubt. She's given birth to two babies in recent years but she still has the body of a nubile. And the libido to match. We often keep each other company when her husband is out of town and her kids know me as auntie Edith. Trysta's husband is quite friendly towards me and I suppose he knows that Trysta and I are lovers."

Cathy sighed. "I begin to understand how you survive living alone."

"Well, I do prize solitude; that is when I write. However, I have many friends and lovers. Usually my friends don't follow me for five miles through the night."

"I'm sorry. I could have warned you about my interest in Trysta, but I imagined that I would not get caught sneaking around tonight."

"I saw your tracks in the dew and then I heard you walking. Your big feet and long strides are distinctive. I knew it was you following me even before I saw you step into the moon light."

Cathy admitted, "Before coming to Earth, I did not think to practice walking through forests in the dark."

Edith asked, "Where are you from?"

"That isn't easy to explain. I was born in another physical domain that exists outside of the universe as you know it. Soon I will return to my home. Really, after tonight there is no need for me to stay here any longer. However, I am enjoying my time with you."

Edith said, "I knew there was something unusual about you when I read your essay for the student exchange program. You wrote something about wanting to explore the ancient and modern cultures of Wales."

Cathy laughed. "I had help writing that essay. I needed to attract you attention."

"I'm sure it seemed odd to everyone who read it."

"I had help with that, too. You were the only Earthling who got to read it. You were targetted because it was easy to work you into an intimate relationship with Trysta. You are exactly her type."

For a long while they walked in silence across the wet grass. Finally Edith said, "I suppose the whole course of my life was shaped just to make this night possible, just to provide you with your opportunity to see Trysta. And somehow that amazing idea does not shock me."

Cathy explained, "Right now your mind is being kept relaxed and receptive to new ideas. I'm pleased you are able to recognize how unnatural your life has been."

"I've always known that I lead an unconventional life, and I've long wondered why I am so blessed. I often feel that a guardian angel is watching over me."

"That's not a bad way to describe it. I hope you don't resent having been used in this way."

"No, but I am starting to feel a little fear... I worry that I might have to pay a price for my blessings."

"Yes, you will. That price will be your memories of tonight. I must take those memories from you."

"How?"

"The same way that your fears and resentments are being held in check even now. There are molecular scale devices at work inside your brain, editing your thoughts and emotions. After we get home and I put you to bed, I'll erase your memories. In the morning, I'll simply be Catherine from New Zealand and you won't remember anything about tonight or the fact that I'm a visitor to Earth."

"You know, I should be allowed to remember something. I still have Trysta's note inviting me to visit her, and I should have other memories to go along with that."

"Don't worry; you will remember your time with her this evening, but not this conversation with me." They fell quite and picked up their pace, jogging across the fields.

As they were approaching Edith's house, Edith slowed her pace and she finally spoke again. "Before you take my memories, why don't you let me write for a while. In that way I will later construct memories of this night, built around what I write."

Cathy said, "I can do that, but I'll have to read what you write, just to be sure that you don't reveal anything about my secret mission on Earth."

"Fine. Fine."

They went inside and Edit lit a fire in the big downstairs fireplace. She settled into her chair near the fire and began to write on a pad of paper. Cathy had grown chilled in the cool night air. She took off her wet shoes and went to the sauna and stoked the fire there. When she grew too hot, Cathy went back in the house. The eastern sky was just beginning to brighten. Edith was looking through the pages she had written, trying to make sure that nothing there would need to be redacted by Cathy.

Cathy took the writing pad away from Edith and took her by the hand. They went upstairs and Cathy put Edith to bed. "Now you will sleep." Almost at once Edith lost consciousness. Cathy went to her own room, got into her bed and read what Edith had written.

for the Women's Daily

Manufactured Memory
I often reflect upon our wonderful history of women writing and sharing the worlds of their imaginations through literature. Sometimes I am asked by younger writers about the sources of my own story ideas. I am inspired by the millions of amazing women who carefully and expertly construct their lives out of our world's vast resources of love, laughter and sweet memories.

Recently, I was made to think a little more deeply about my own sweet memories. I was forced to do so by a remarkable young woman who refused to tell me her real name. She was a visitor to our land and she was taking a great deal of delight in hiding her identity behind a false name, so I will refer to her as Kathy le Fay, in honor of her magical ability to shape my thoughts and memories.

Kathy was not a dainty little fairy. She had long, lovely legs and she could swim faster than I can even though she was a true amateur in all sports. I hope to meet Kathy again when she has grown into the full glory of her womanhood. In fact, she promised me that she would be returning to our island nation in a few years, so there is a real and exciting possibility that we will again cross paths.

When I first met her, I quickly realized that Kathy was still a reckless child. I frequently advise young women to take risks, but at the same time it is important to be wise. In the end, all that got wrecked was a night's worth of my memories, so I'm probably the only person who will ever tempted to call her reckless. You, dear reader, may simply want to thank Kathy for what she did to me.

We all know that the popularity of my writing stems from the nature of my little personal adventures which I enjoy sharing with others through my writing. I've been labeled as shameless and even a 'braze hussy' and indeed I wear those labels with pride. Kathy caught me out in one of my nocturnal adventures. On that night, I had slipped into the isolated country mansion of one of England's most interesting young bachelors, a famous author who I have promised that I will keep his identity shielded and who I here give the code name 'Prince Don'.

You, my dear reader, know that I am a tireless advocate for a woman's right to have loving and intimate relationships with no greater and no lesser objective than the construction of happy lives and rich, warm memories. I suspect that Kathy would also champion that right, were she not such an innocent and virginal child of just 18 sheltered and blissful years. However, Kathy insisted on altering and editing my memories of the wonderful night of my recent tryst with Prince Don.

Now, dear reader, allow me to warn you against assuming that Kathy was jealous of my relationship with Don. Not so... although Kathy is deeply infatuated with Prince Don, her motives have nothing to do with petty things like jealousy, wealth or revenge. Then what motivates Kathy and why did she insist an trading my real, hard-won memories for some counterfeit manufactured memories? Here we must be creative, because Kathy was intent on achieving a goal. The details of her mission in our land are unknown to me, but it is clear that she wanted to make sure that nobody in this world, particularly Price Don, would ever suspect that a magical entity like Kathy was prowling around in our world.

As a writer, I was forced to pit my own magic against Kathy's. I appealed to her sense of fairness: why should an innocent author (me) be prevented from writing about a magical event (Kathy's appearance in my life)? Kathy has a heart as big as Jupiter, so she relented and allowed me to write this story about the night of my romantic interlude with Don. Of course, Kathy's rules were strict: this story cannot include any details about the real identities of either Kathy or Don. Had I not adhered to this requirement, I would not have retained any record of how Kathy stole my memories of that night.

Although I wrote this account of that night in long-hand, I do wonder about the extent to which what I wrote was forced upon me by Kathy. She had complete control over my thoughts and memories, so she could have made me believe that I wrote this story when, in fact, she could have imprinted it all upon the blank slate of my mind.

I am left to marvel that wizards of this magnitude walk the green hills of our world. Previously, I viewed such feats of magic as the domain of ancient history, lands of myth and legend. Kathy told me that she is from such a distant place where magic is part of everyday life. I am enthralled by the hope that she will one day return here to our mundane world. And so, dear reader, I ask you to be watchful. Tend your garden of friends and lovers with care for you never know when magic will come into your life. For me, because of Kathy's magic I live with the belief that one day it might be possible for little old me to marry a Prince.

Really? I wed Don? I? It seems strange to contemplate. I know that Prince Don is a fun toy, but why would a rambler, a rolling stone like me wish to be tied to a pretty boy who has invited me into his bed a few times? Such is the power of Kathy's magic. Be warned. Such other-worldly magic may next be worked upon you.

___________________________

source
I said to Zeta, "It is hard to believe that such obvious clues to the identity of Trysta Iwedon would have been published in a newspaper with wide circulation."

Zeta laughed. "It was a perfect way to send a message to Trysta. The Asimov Reality was going to be thrown away and replaced by the Ekcolir Reality. Trysta was R. Gohrlay's deep agent on Earth, but there was nothing for Trysta to do in the Asimov Reality. Most of the action within that Reality would take place on far worlds, not on sleepy old Earth. Trysta could relax and enjoy a pleasant life with her children, her husband and her other lovers."

I asked, "Well did she?"

I could sense that Zeta was searching through her vast storehouse of infites. Finally she said, "I wonder if that story, 'Manufactured Memory' was manufactured for you and I."

"What do you mean?"

Zeta explained, "There should be more accounts of the life of Phenence in my memory, but they seem to be either missing or blocked from access. Why should this one story remain unless it carries a message for me?"

Trysta and Grean
"Or for both of us. So... we are told to relax and enjoy our lives?"

"And stop worrying that magical beings will show up and alter our lives."

"Do you believe that? That there will be no more magic in our lives?"

Zeta suggested, "Maybe we have reached the limit. Maybe there is simply no more room in our lives for additional magic."

I muttered, "I still believe that there are artificial lifeforms at Observer Base; copies of humans... copies so perfect that nobody on Earth would be able to recognize them as artificial beings. That creates a gray area for the Trysta-Grean Pact. And Phenence may be on such copy, someone who I might still be able to contact, someone who could become a source of information about the secret history of Humanity.

Next: R. Nyrtia and Nylla


Sep 3, 2018

Bonny Lynn

With a big dollop of infites recently arriving in my head, it is inevitable that some old memories are now bubbling to the surface. Zeta spent many years watching me from her location within the Hierion Domain, so she was aware of how I was programmed to efficiently carry out my function as the Editor. It makes perfect sense that Zeta's sister Yōd would have been briefed on my past by receiving a set of infites from Zeta. In the fullness of Time, eventually those infites got handed along to me. Below is an account of an old memory from 1977 that those Zeta/Yōd infites recently shook lose in my head.

___________________________________

Fall of 1977 was an exciting time for me because I was just starting my university studies. For me, the most dreaded component in my first semester schedule was a mandatory English course. I grew up as a native speaker of English, but it always has seemed like a foreign language to me. According to Zeta, a big chunk of my brain that would normally have been devoted to my language-processing neural network was instead adapted for another function: it allows me to use the Bimanoid Interface. Such is the cost of being provided with telepathic abilities.
image source

So, language proficiency was sacrificed for telepathy: should I view that as a fair trade? I know that the course of my life would have been entirely different without my ability to use the Interface for technology-assisted telepathy. Zeta, reading this over my shoulder and using our telepathic connection: You were created and stationed on Earth only because of the need of the tryp'At to have a deeply embedded agent on this world.

Okay. So maybe I would not have ever even existed without my language skills having been degraded and my brain modified to allow me to fulfill my mission on Earth. Back in 1977, I did not know that I am tryp'At and so it was simply an annoyance that I would have to demonstrate my terrible language skills to a university professor. However, I felt like I had found a sneaky way to ease my pain. In the course catalog I had discovered that there actually existed a section of freshman English that was built entirely around science fiction. I was thankful that I would not have to read and pretend to understand literature that had been written by dead people from previous centuries and millennia. Instead, I would be reading stories from a relatively new genre that had been named and developed in the century of my own birth.

It should not be a surprise to anyone that in 1977 my favorite author was Isaac Asimov (although this was about to change). Asimov made a special effort to write in a clear and logical style that did not greatly strain my defective language processing neural network. Zeta again: Most of your neurons devoted to the Interface are located on the right side of your brain. Your mostly-intact left brain language centers are well suited to processing Asimov's prose. I suppose a detailed description of the tryp'At brain was provided to her as part of Zeta's education. After all, to complete her mission on Earth she had to understand me and help guide the course of my life.

Zeta now speaking: "No, that was my sister's job. I was the backup, the second string player in that game. I only got my hands on you after Alpha departed from Earth."
Grean the Kac'hin

Be that as it may, Zeta is still my prime suspect. I can't escape the suspicion that it must have been her who visited me in 1977 and left me with a packet of information nanites embedded in my brain. However, it may have been one of her clone sisters. Zeta: It would not have been difficult for Grean to have disguised herself and tricked you into thinking that you had met a Gohrlay clone.

I told Zeta, "No, I don't buy that. It seems unlikely that Yōd would have ever come into possession of Grean's infites."

Zeta shrugged. "Well, you tell me. Is your memory from 1977 entirely your own? If so, it could have been triggered by something that Yōd knew, even if it was Grean who visited you in 1977."

Zeta is so smart. Smart enough to have been the one who I met in 1977 and still cloud my judgement enough to make me wonder if Grean was involved instead. I feel it is important that the girl who I met in 1977 (she called herself "Bonny") referred to herself as being human and I doubt if a Kac'hin such as Grean would have done that.

Zeta insisted, "Grean could have lied to you and it is possible that the Kac'hin think of themselves as being a human variant."

Yes, but I know that I was telepathically linked to Bonny via the Bimanoid Interface. In 1977, I could not consciously think about engaging in telepathy, but at a subconscious level I felt like I was connected to Bonny, connected in a way that shocked me and amazed me... for a moment. My shocked amazement did not arrive from being in telepathic contact with an alien Kac'hin... no, I feel certain that my mind was resonating with a human mind. I've recently had lots of experience with that kind of resonance and I know that the pattern of each person's mind is distinct and recognizable. Now, when I think back to 1977 and my recently recovered memories from that year, I feel that I recognize the pattern of Bonny's mind.

Anyhow, enough dithering. Here is what happened in 1977...

During the first week of class, me and my fellow English students had been given a writing assignment that was due on Friday. We were told to write a one page summary account of our favorite science fiction story. That was a fun assignment, and I arrived at the next class session with a feeling of confidence: this English course might not turn into the kind of disaster that all my previous English classes had been!

My newly recovered memories from 1977 are from that Friday. While walking across campus to class that day, I began feeling light on my feet. I don't know how else to describe the change that came over my cognitive system. Through my entire life I have occasionally had the feeling that gravity is weaker than normal. Actually, this usually happens in my dreams and it was unusual for me to experience disruption of my somatic senses while I was awake. I now believe that this kind of strange sensation arises from the reactivation of a memory of those times when my mind has been telepathically linked to my replicoid in such a way that I feel like I am living inside my replicoid and located within the Hierion Domain. It is a distorted sensory effect that is larger than just a gravitational anomaly: it arises from the effects of my mind temporarily functioning inside a different body.

I now understand that during those times when my mind has been in the Hierion Domain, I was using the Bimanoid Interface so as to make possible technology-assisted telepathy. Now, any time that I start using the Interface, doing so triggers the sensation of low gravity, even if I am here on Earth in my own body. That day in 1977 was a glorious Fall day. Walking across campus on my way to class, I was happy and confident; I now believe that I had actually slipped into some sort of trance-like state induced by someone linking into my mind via the Bimanoid Interface. At the time, I did not notice what was happening to me, but now, while thinking about my newly-revived memory of that day, I can tell that something unusual was happening in my mind, even if it was happening beyond my conscious awareness. I now suspect that Zeta was prowling around in my mind and not being very subtle about it. She had a job to complete on that day; a rather tricky re-programming of my thought processes.

Then, at the start of the Friday class period, our English professor told us to exchange what we had written with a classmate who was sitting beside us. That was how I met "Bonny". In my memory, Bonny was older than I was in 1977. I was 18 and my guess is that she was at least ten years older. However, I now realize that with the use of facial nanites, some visitor to Earth like Zeta could have altered her appearance and her apparent age.

I had already noticed the presence of Bonny as a fellow student in that English English class. A striking if unconventional beauty clung to her and she was quite tall; I was very much aware that a gorgeous woman was sitting in the seat beside mine even before that class session began.

When the time came, we shared a quick glance and then we wordlessly exchanged our papers and I started reading her homework assignment. I quickly discovered that I already knew what she had written even before I read it. All my attention was on the format of her writing, which surprised me. The sheet of paper that she handed to me smelled nice, like a mixture of cinnamon, lavender and some weird ester from organic chemistry lab. Here is what Bonny had written:

Star Kings by Bonny Fennland

In 1967 I read the short science fiction novel Star King by Jack Vance and it remains my favorite because of what it tells readers about space aliens. In that story, the Star Kings are a type of alien creature that has been engineered to be almost human in appearance. Vance never tells readers who was responsible for that engineering, but it is suggested that maybe "the people who left ruins on the Fomalhaut planets" were involved. The Star Kings are from a distant planet called Lambda Grus III, but in the future era in which the story is set, it is believed that many alien Star Kings freely live among the human population of Earth and the many other planets that were colonized by humans as they spread outward through the galaxy.

In 1968 I read the book Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past by Erich von Däniken.

I paused my reading at that point, looked up from "Star Kings" and saw that Bonny was already done reading my assignment. Of course, I had hand-written my summary of Asimov's novel The End of Eternity. In contrast, Bonny's assignment was printed. I could tell that her little essay had not been typed because there was no compression of the paper from having been struck by the type heads of a typewriter. Her beautiful paper had the titles of books spelled out in italics and there was that perfectly printed "ä" in the name "Däniken". The title "Star Kings" was printed in a larger font than was the rest of her assignment. I wondered how Bonny had managed to produce what looked like a professionally printed document. Even the paper felt glossy, like a page out of a magazine. The room was quiet and everyone else was still reading. When I looked at her, she asked me, "Have you read anything by Vance?" There was something strange about the way she "spoke" and on that day I simply attributed the weirdness of her "speech" to her having an accent, maybe Australian.

For a moment I was tongue-tied. Bonny's pale, pretty face was partially concealed by her wild mop of dark wavy hair that extended down to her shoulders. Her dark eyes seemed large and intent on drinking in my thoughts and possibly my soul. Looking back into my old and long-suppressed memories of that day, it seems like her lips were not moving when she asked me: Have you read anything by Vance? I replied: No, I've never heard of Vance. Now, give me a minute, I'm still reading. Strangely, in my memory of that moment, I did not speak those words out-loud. It was a natural part of my trance-like state to use telepathy with Bonny and do so without even noticing. Now, here in 2018, while I examine my memory, the events of that day seem bizarre and I am surprised that my 1977 self did not even notice that he was in telepathic communication with another person.

Bonny's assignment continued:

The contents of Chariots of the Gods? were presented to the world by von Däniken as an investigation into the facts of human history, but it was easiest for me to read that book as a science fiction story, one that raises similar questions about space aliens as had Vance's story Star King.

The most audacious idea in Star King is the idea that modern humans (of the Cro-Magnon variety) had come into existence about 100,000 years ago on the planet Lambda Grus III. In the Star King story, it is suggested that a tribe of Mousterian Neanderthals had been transported to Lambda Grus III. After evolving on that world and transforming into a new variety of human organism, some of the Neanderthal descendants, now Cro-Magnons, were brought back to Earth.


For me, the interesting question that is raised in Vance's Star King story is this: why had the Earthlings of the 20th century never met the space-traveling beings who first took some Neanderthals to Lambda Grus III and then later brought the newly evolved Cro-Magnons back to Earth? Vance never even tried to provide an explanation for that and Chariots of the Gods? also fails to explain why "ancient astronauts" have often visited Earth in the past and frequently interacted with our ancestors but now they no longer do so. This strange invisibility is a profound and fundamental puzzle for all science fiction story tellers who write about unseen alien visitors to Earth, ancient or contemporary.

That was the end of her short essay. It seems certain to me, here in 2018, that Bonny had already transferred some infites into my brain. Those information nanites held the text of her essay in a form that was made readily accessible to my conscious mind as soon as I saw her homework paper. By the time I had finished reading, the room was noisy with other pairs of students talking about their favorite types of science fiction. Glancing up at the front of the room, I saw that the professor had written our next assignment on the blackboard; for homework we were to work in our newly established teams of two students to write a new, original short story That was due the following week. I told Bonny, "I have read Chariots of the Gods? and now I'll have to find a copy of Star King."

Bonny immediately seemed pleased that I wanted to read Star King. She said, "I'll give you my copy of Star King, although you might prefer to start with Vance's third book in that series, The Palace of Love."

I knew nothing about Vance as a story teller, so I tried to shift our conversation towards Asimov. I asked Bonny, "Have you ever read The End of Eternity?"

Bonny replied, "I sure have." Just then a teaching assistant came by and collected our homework assignments. Bonny continued, "I agree with your view that it is Asimov's best science fiction novel."

She had put extra emphasis on "science fiction" so I asked, "There is some other type of Asimov story that you prefer over his science fiction?"

Bonny nodded. "I'm a fanatical lover of mystery and Asimov is a great mystery writer. Last year I was bowled over by his newly published self-referential mystery story, Murder at the ABA."

I admitted, "I only know his science fiction."

Bonny asked, "So, you accept Asimov's assertion in The End of Eternity that all the other alien intelligences of the galaxy would catch up to the technological level of Earthlings if we humans wasted the next few million years playing time travel games?"

I laughed, "No! That's silly, but it does not ruin the story for me. I can easily imagine other reasons why the human addiction to Reality Changes might be broken." At that point I launched into a long, rambling account of why mention of aliens was not needed in The End of Eternity. I thought I knew how to 'fix' a defect in Asimov's novel and I was determined to subject poor Bonny to the complete details of my contorted scheme for improving Asimov's time travel story. I don't think Bonny could have possibly heard my complex proposal very well over the noise in the classroom.

I must provide some background information. My brain is wired up in such a way that if I begin telling a story, then while I am talking I won't pay attention to incoming sensory information. I can become trapped in the flow of my inner thoughts and not even notice if anyone is still listening to me.

After a few minutes of listening politely to my spiel, Bonny took me by the hand and pulled me to my feet. I grabbed my backpack and found myself quick stepping to keep up with her long strides as be exited from the building. She was quite the tallest girl I'd ever met.

Just being in close proximity to Bonny had been exciting and I'd quickly discovered that it was pleasant to talk to her. The magic of the spell she had cast over me was completed when she took hold of my hand. Her skin was amazingly soft. The surface of her skin seemed slippery, almost like it was covered in oil, but her skin was perfectly dry and clean. Too perfect.

While we strolled across campus, we discussed the Fermi-Hart Paradox and the Drake Equation and we each shared our personal estimate of how many technological civilizations might exist in the galaxy and how far away the closest one might be. I was entirely caught up in the flow of our conversation and not paying attention to where we were walking. I still had the sensation of walking on air, although that might have been caused by my rapidly growing infatuation with Bonny. Within minutes our conversation was flashing out into the depths of space and across the galaxy. Then Bonny finally let go of my hand and she said, "Here's my car."

Now again becoming aware of my surroundings and something other than the amazing Bonny, I noticed that we were in a parking lot and I was standing near a pinkish colored vehicle. I got into her car, an old Ford Galaxie, and I said, "You really are a science fiction fan... driving a Galaxie!"

She laughed, started up the car and told me, "This particular Galaxie was produced in the first model year, 1959."

I had grown up in a family that drove a Galaxie 500 in the late 60s but I'd never realized that the model line had its roots back in the 50s. I remarked, "I had no idea that a Ford could last 20 years in New England with all the salt, sand and rust."

She shrugged, took her right hand off of the wheel and patted the seat between us, "This car has gotten special care." Bonny turned on the radio and "Weekend in New England" was playing. She set her hand back down on the seat between us. Already addicted to the feel of her body, I took hold of her hand. Bonny laced her fingers through mine and I was pleased that she seemed to also enjoy touching me. She had quickly driven us off campus and we were heading up and out of the flood plain that runs along the river. As we ascended into the nearby hills, she pushed a button and the roof of the car retracted. Her hair sailed back, pushed by the wind.

I looked at the profile of her face and I almost realized how strange it was to meet her that day. Strange. That word did somersaults in my mind. Looking back into my recently revived memory of her, I now realize that Bonny had the appearance -almost- of my future wife. Wives. Back in 1977, I new nothing of the future and the woman I would one day marry; I was simply enthralled by Bonny and her strange magic. I said, "Bonny with a 'y'. You know, that's not a real name."

She laughed and for a moment took her eyes off the road to look at me. "Ya, so I've been told. When I got around to the task of selecting that name for use during this mission, I had just spent a week studying your preferences. I'd carefully designed my physical features so as to appeal to you and make me be beautiful in your eye. It was a bit of a joke to name myself 'Bonnie' or 'Bonny' and I did not care that my preferred spelling of 'Bonny' was not conventional." Almost as an after-thought she said, "I don't like the name Bella. It sounds like a war, so that was not an option."

source
She drove on for a while in silence. I was happy to watch her dark hair flow and swirl around her neck. Bonny then added, "I was mostly thinking about the Lynn part of the name, which I had decided to use because Fred Lynn is your favorite baseball player. I guess I liked the two 'y's together."

I was amused by the idea of naming one's self and I did not question it. On that day, Bonny could have told me anything and I would have accepted it. I was that far under her spell.

The radio station's D.J. said, "Next is the hit single from the album Leftoverture by Kansas, 'Carry On Wayward Son'."

Bonny had done something to my brain and I had lost my normal capacity to be surprised by strange occurrences. I could still recognize when I was being told something new, but my response was simple child-like wonder and a desire to learn new things. I guess my fear of the unknown had been completely quieted when Bonny connected her mind to mine that day. In essence, I was a zombie, ready to be programmed by her. Watching her, but noticing the wooded hills zip past, I asked, "Where are we going?"

"Back to my place. I want to show you my book collection. You can pick out a Vance novel to read. It is important that you start reading Vance's work. I think we should use a Vance theme for our homework assignment."

I liked Bonny (well, that is a silly understatement... having known her for almost half an hour, I was well on my way to falling in love with her) and I was pleased with the idea that we could collaborate as a team to write a short story. I was not comfortable with the idea of writing a story that was inspired by Vance since I knew nothing about the man. I asked, "What is so special about this guy, Vance?"

Bonny shook her head. "Ya, this was so much easier in the Ekcolir Reality... there, female story tellers dominated science fiction and there was even a female analogue of Vance. I've read the statistical chronodynamic proof of why this Reality had to be male-dominated, but you are not interested in that. We can't have you questioning why it is that you are male."

I laughed. "You say the strangest things, but somehow they make sense."

Bonny explained, "You should relax and enjoy yourself. For the rest of this weekend just soak in what I tell you. I'm preparing you for the role you must play in order to stabilize the Pact."

I repeated, "The Pact."

Bonny winced. "Forget I mentioned that. Let's keep our attention on the homework assignment and the process by which you will become familiar with Vance's stories."

I suggested, "It would be more logical to start with Asimov. After all, we've both read his work. I love his idea of positronic robots."

Bonny gave a little sigh of exasperation. "Back in the 40s, when Asimov started writing robot stories, he was caught up in the Momentum of Time and overly optimistic about robots." Bonny shook her head slowly. "He was out of sync with this Reality."

I repeated that word: "Reality."

She casually said, "Ya, Asimov was a better fit for the Ekcolir Reality, where technology was accelerating at a slightly quicker pace than here in this Reality."

I repeated, "The Ekcolir Reality." I was well aware of how Asimov had used the technical term 'Reality' in The End of Eternity. I muttered, "Asimov only wrote about the Mallansohn Reality."

in the Ekcolir Reality
Bonny corrected me, "He wrote about many Realities, but so far you only know the name of the Mallansohn Reality. In the Ekcolir Reality, science fiction was dominated by women and the stories could be much more explicit about the role that space aliens have played in the history of Humanity. Take Carolyn Cherry for example."

I had never heard that name. "Who?"

"You recently read her novel, Brothers of Earth. She used C. J. Cherryh as a pen name."

"Oh, yes. An amusing story, but I think she was lazy. I don't like it when writers design the cultures of distant planets as mere reflections of human cultures from Earth's past."

"Well, in the Ekcolir Reality, Carolyn wrote a much more interesting book called The Gods of Earth, full-on ancient astronauts and right up your alley. Sadly, writing that sort of story has to be much more tightly regulated here in this Reality." Bonny slowed the car and turned off the road. We went slowly down a long driveway that led towards an old farm house and barn then continued on past.

On the radio, "Let Your Love Flow" by the Bellamy Brothers started playing. I had no idea who Ekcolir was, nor did I care about the details of the Ekcolir Reality for more than just a minute before my thought pattern was adjusted. Forty years later, I now realize that Bonny could not explain everything to me; her mission for that day was quite narrowly focused on adjusting my reading habits. It was going to take decades for me to reach the point where I could make sense of the Ekcolir Reality and the grand sweep of Deep Time.

We passed by the farm house and a group of cows grazing in a pasture and entered into a forest. Bonny drove carefully down the narrow driveway, which for a distance seemed almost like a tunnel through the trees that grew close to either side. Ignoring the idea of past Realities, I argued with Bonny about robots, a topic that I did care about.

"You don't like Asimov's robot stories?"

Bonny shrugged. "Sadly, in the robot stories of this Reality, the whole idea of a positronic brain is treated just like mumbojumbo and all we get is hand-waving rather than technical details. That's frustrating for someone like me who knows the truth about positronics."

I asked, "What do you think about very large scale integration? It seems to me that we are entering into a new era of transistor miniaturization, exactly like what Asimov imagined with his positronics."

The golden leaves of a low-hanging tree branch brushed our heads. Bonny pushed the control toggle and the car's retractable roof came back up. She explained, "In the Ekcolir Reality, transistors were invented a few decades earlier. Asimov became one of the first science writers to explain transistorized circuits and computers to the public. But the pace of scientific advance was retarded here in this Reality. I find it painful to read Asimov's robot stories, knowing that they do not really fit in with this Reality." We emerged from the forest at the top of a ridge. Green pasture land stretched away down slope, off towards the east.

Reaching the end of that very long driveway, we parked in front of a relatively new house, maybe "only" about 100 years old. It had been beautifully restored and rebuilt as a modern residence. I got out of the car and examined the fancy tile work in the terminal loop of the drive way; it was laid out in a stylized galactic spiral.

Bonny came around the Galaxie and put her toe at the center of the spiral. "I was born on a world in the Galactic Core." She again took my hand, pulling me away from my admiration of the driveway tiles and lead me to the front door of the house. As we approached the doorway, I saw metal letters above, spelling out "Fennland Farm".  The door swung open and I could see a very tall man standing inside. I assumed it was Bonny's father and I said, "Hello Mr. Fennland."

Bonny went quickly through the doorway and jumped at the tall man. He caught her up in his arms like he was holding a small child. After their brief shared hug during which her feet were off the floor, he set Bonny back down. She pulled me inside the house and said, "This is just Cal." With a bit of sadness in her voice, she said quietly,  "My parents never got to visit Earth."

Cal closed the door and seemed to be gazing down upon me with suspicion. He must have been over seven feet tall. Cal asked, "Will there be two for dinner, Miss Bonny?" His voice was deep and he was dressed formally, almost as if in uniform, but in a style that I did not recognize.

Bonny now had both of her hands on my arm. She asked me, "Won't you stay?" She actually seemed a little bit nervous, as if fearful that I might say 'no'. "We can work together on the homework assignment tonight."

The house was full of wonderful odors, including what smelled like baking apple pie. More importantly, I was totally captivated by Bonny. With Cal there looming over us, I might have been intimidated, but I could sense that Bonny was either nervous or just naturally shy. She did not mind revealing her uncertainties and vulnerabilities to me and I knew that deep inside she was a sweet and gentle person who shared my interests in science fiction. I was feeling very comfortable and happy with her leaning against me and I decided to tease her. I replied to Bonny's question, "Alternatively, we could go back and eat on campus at the dinning commons."

Bonny laughed, "I'm sure Cal's cooking is far better than what you get at the DC."

Bonny's face was only inches from my own and I was feeling like a floating feather on the breeze. I had recently read an article about the powerful x-ray source Cygnus X-1, what was almost certainly a black hole. Now I imagined that I was falling into the sparking black holes that were Bonny's eyes. "I'd be happy to join you here for dinner," I glanced questioningly up at Cal's face, "As long as it is not an imposition."

Bonny told Cal, "Two it will be!" She asked Cal, "What were you planning to prepare?"

Cal replied, "My traditional Friday fish dinner."

Bonny squeezed my arm, "You'll love the way Cal prepares trout." She pulled me towards the stairway that led up to the second floor of her home. "Now, for Vance..."

From halfway up the stairs, I glanced down at Cal, whose eyes followed me suspiciously. I tried to imagine the origin of his strange accent, which seemed almost like an unknown eastern European accent. When he spoke, his words popped out very slowly and precisely, like he had only recently learned English. From my perspective here in 2018, I can tell that I was never in telepathic contact with Cal back in 1977. My semi-conscious sense of some lurking presence in my mind was a manifestation of Bonny and her efforts to guide me safely into the future.

As soon as we reached the top of the stairway and passed out of Cal's range of vision, Bonny put her arms around me and gently kissed my cheek. She whispered in my ear, "Thank you for staying."

I put a hand on the back of Bonny's head and for a dozen seconds I was captivated by the feel of her soft hair against the skin of my hand and my face. Finally I mumbled, "Why would I ever leave you?"

She explained her self-doubt, "I wasn't sure that you would like me... and tolerate Cal."

I know now that I was in telepathic contact with Bonny and I suspect that she had quickly loaded up my mind with information nanites that day. Whatever the source of the information flow, I knew that Bonny was a kind of Time Technician. I said, "Well, I suspect that you have seen our future... that you knew we would be here now, right here, with our arms around each other."

Bonny made no attempt to deny her knowledge of the future. "The problem is, the future is contested. I'm trying to make the Pact become a success, but there is no consensus about exactly how to shape the Final Reality. Someone could step in and disrupt my plan. You could ruin everything if you started making difficulties tonight."

"I feel like you can stop worrying. " I tightened the circle of my arms around her. "I've fallen completely under your spell and even my jealousy over Cal can't change my desire to get to know you and my curiosity about Mr. Vance."

"Don't be jealous of Cal."

I held her at arm's length and looked into her lovely eyes. I asked, "You live here, just the two of you, together?"

"This is my base of operations for my mission on Earth. Cal is my assistant. He prepared this safe house before my arrival and he will clean up and remove all traces of me after I complete my work on this world."

My mind had started swirling with questions about Bonny's origins and the details of her mission on Earth, but then my thoughts were suddenly diverted into a new path; a cognitive mode dominated by burning curiosity and an inescapable need to discover everything that Bonny knew about science fiction in general and Jack Vance in particular. Bonny was deep in my mind: Let me introduce you to the alternate Reality of Vance.....

Most of the second floor had been remodeled into a library. The walls were covered by well-stocked shelves of books. There were several big comfortable chairs, a couch, a small writing desk and a larger table. Bonny pulled my backpack off my shoulder and she tossed it into a big leather chair. She turned and went to one of the shelves, "Here is my collection of Vance's works." Selecting from among the many books by Vance, she pulled three thin paperback novels off of a shelf. "These are the three novels in the Star King series, but in time there will be two more." She handed the books to me and I noticed that a sly little grin had curled her lips.


I looked at the cover of The Killing Machine and asked, "Is this a machine or a bug?"

Bonny explained, "That is supposed to be a mechanical replica of a giant multi-legged creature that lives on a far planet called Thamber."

I commented, "Interesting... Asimov wrote about robots in human form. Vance imagined robots in the form of giant insects?"


Bonny explained, "It is not an autonomous machine. It is a vehicle, designed to carry a dozen human passengers inside and be controlled by a human driver. In the story, it functions more like a Trojan Horse or a tank than a robot."

I muttered, "I took this particular English class so that I would not have to deal with Trojans or Athenians or any literature older than the science fiction stories of the 1920s."

"Don't worry!" She gestured towards the books that I held. "These stories are set more than a thousand years in our future."

I was ready to learn everything about Vance and his writing. I asked innocently, "Our future?"

"Well, almost." Bonny paused briefly, apparently at a loss for how to effectively communicate with someone like me who knew nothing about the sequence of recent Realities in Deep Time. "Actually, Vance's stories were inspired by events in the Asimov Reality, which came just before the Ekcolir Reality. In the Asimov Reality, Earthlings were given early access to interstellar space drive technology. That allowed the many Earth-like planets of the galaxy to become sites for human genetics experiments and the creation of new human variants such as the tryp'At."

I examined the cover illustration for The Palace of Love. "I'm seeing insects everywhere. Even the Palace of Love looks like it has bug legs growing out of it."


Bonny shook her head in dismay, "That cover is by Richard Power who also did some cover art for a few of Asimov's books." She pulled a copy of David Starr: Space Ranger off of a nearby shelf. "This one is by Asimov, writing as Paul French."

"I own a newer edition of the Space Ranger story with cover art by Bruce Pennington, one that has Asimov's real name on it."

Bonny said, "Just imagine if Space Ranger had become a popular television program like Star Trek."

I shook my head, "I can't imagine that." I was somewhat embarrassed to admit that I had even read Asimov's space ranger books. "I still find it hard to believe that Asimov wrote so many David Starr stories. I much prefer his mainstream writings."

There was no way I could deceive Bonny. "Still, you did read the David Star books. All of them."

"Yes, I did."

"Asimov knew what he was doing. He introduced a new generation of budding astronomers to the solar system and also put an end to silly planetary adventures set on Mars and Venus."

I pointed to the 1974 edition of The Oceans of Venus that was there on the shelf. I commented, "Sadly, Asimov imagined an ocean on Venus. By the time I read this book, it was known that the surface of Venus is hot and dry, crushed under a heavy greenhouse atmosphere."

"Writing about the solar system in the 1950s, Asimov did the best he could to combine fun space adventures with astronomical reality."

I was impressed by Bonny's seemingly vast knowledge of science fiction. I looked at all the books there in that room and asked, "Have you read every one of these books?"

Bonny wandered along the shelves, occasionally reaching out and touching a favorite book. "My mind can quickly receive and process entire books that have been encoded in the form of information nanites. Reading is too slow. She turned and looked at me. I was about to ask her a question about nanites but my desire to do so died almost immediately. "Both Asimov and Vance have written in many genres, and written some things just for children, but I think we should pay attention to the fact that they are both attracted to mystery stories. Don't you think that good science fiction is always a mystery story?" Bonny re-shelved the copies of David Starr: Space Ranger as well as Star King and The Killing Machine, leaving me holding The Palace of Love. "Start with that one; it should appeal to a biologist... it involves human cloning."

Bonny grabbed the copy of the The Palace of Love out of my hands and put it on top of my backpack then she led me to a another shelf. She took down a book and handed it to me; the title was The Gods of Earth. "This was Carolyn's first published novel in the Ekcolir Reality. It tells how the bumpha and the pek created humans and our replacements, the Prelands. It is a time travel story, mostly set in the ancient Aegean."

I saw that there were dozens of books on that shelf authored by Cherryh. I muttered, "I had no idea that she's written so many books."

Bonny explained, "Here in this Reality, her publishing career is just getting started. These are her books from the Ekcolir Reality."

I opened The Gods of Earth and started reading. Bonny said, "Let's get started on the homework. You can read this later." She took the book out of my hands.

She tossed The Gods of Earth onto the big wooden table in the middle of the library. "You can read this while you are here, but I can't let you take this book with you, its not from this Reality."


We sat down at the table and Bonny started writing on a piece of paper. She spoke while she wrote: "Even The End of Eternity is a mystery story. Asimov keeps readers guessing right to the last page of the novel." I saw that she had written in large letters: 'Mystery of the Future' at the top of the sheet of paper.

Bonny said, "The End of Eternity is a novel with several twists and turns." She placed her hand on top of mine. "Do you think we can write a science fiction mystery story that is far shorter, just a few pages, within the specifications for our homework assignment?"

I confessed, "I've never really thought about the necessary elements of a mystery story."

She said, "You don't like mystery."

I shrugged. "Don't put words in my mouth. Artificially constructed mystery -and dishonesty- annoy me. I prefer knowledge to mystery... I guess that is what attracts me to science."

Bonny squeezed my hand, "Mystery is all around us, all we need to do this evening is just write it down."

I was staring rather intently at Bonny. "You are the mystery."

She smiled and winked at me. She nodded and said, "Very good. The central mystery is: why does Bonny Fennland show up and bring the fiction of Jack Vance to your attention?" Once more she wrote on the paper...

The mysterious Bonny began the story: "The distant worlds that are described in Jack Vance's stories are the actual worlds that we humans will eventually discover in outer space: they are out there in the galaxy, waiting for us."

Reading what she had written, I laughed. "Wait, you want to make our homework story be self-referential?"

"Why not? I love stories that feature their authors as characters."

"You want us to write you into the story, not even changing your name?"

"What's wrong with my name? I selected a name that would attract your attention and be of interest to you." Bonny seemed to stare off into space for just a moment. "The importance of my mission is two-fold; first, to interest you in Vance's stories and secondly, to let you know that it is possible to write about the truth and pass off what you have written as fiction. So just forget about my silly name."

"There is nothing wrong with the name, really. I just think it is a bit odd. Part of my problem is that I can't think about the name 'Fennland' without thinking about baseball."

Bonny laughed. "I hope you don't want to include baseball in our science fiction story."

"No, but I enjoy baseball. Did you ever play?"

Bonny scrunched up her nose. "Ug. Hitting balls? There are much better games to play with balls, but don't distract me." She put a hand on my thigh. "We need to get our work done this evening."

I laughed and shook my head. "Fine. The rest of this evening is all yours..." I placed my hand on her thigh. "...but I'm planning a mound visit for shortly after midnight."

Bonny put her hands under her small round breasts, jiggled them and said, "I play for the Twins. Which mound do you have your eye on?"

"So you do follow the sport." I asked, "Who do you think will win the pennant?"

Bonny heaved a great sigh. "The Yankees will win, but who in their right mind would listen to my opinion? I don't really understand baseball any better than you understand cricket."

I shook my head. "Completely unimportant. I listen and I believe you." Somehow it seemed obvious to me that Bonny had already seen the outcome of the ballgame and had viewed our future. "I'm totally enthralled and dazzled by your miraculous appearance in my life, Miss Bonny. Just tell me one thing... that you aren't only teasing me with your beauty and all the attention that you are paying to me."

Bonny giggled and played a bit with her hair, wrapping a strand around her finger. "I am teasing you and manipulating your emotions so that I can have your complete attention. Believe me, from my side it is not easy to program your memory system in this way. My other option was to simply program you with a new layer of infites, but there is no fun to be had in that. I fully intend to get all sweaty and intimate with you before this weekend is over. That will be fun. But I have to warn you... you won't be allowed to remember our love making. In a few years you must fully imprint on your wife, and nothing we do together can be allowed to interfere with that. And our joy of sharing our bodies can't be allowed to distract me from completing my mission this evening." Bonny picked up my hand, pulled it to her lips and she kissed the back of my hand. Then she casually pointed her finger at me and a felt my mind tilt. "So until we get to know each other a bit better, let's tone down the flirtation. Cal suggested a good way to keep you from slipping into one of your internally-genrated fantasies... so while I tell you my story, the Mystery of the Future, and while I write it out for you, you can be slid into and out of your game-watching mode, as needed. Cal has arranged all the details..."

Just then, Cal came into the library, pushing a fancy wooden serving cart that had a big color television set on it. He plugged in the television and attached it to an antenna cable that was set into the wall beside the door. The Red Sox baseball game came to the screen. Cal reached into a lower compartment of the cart and pulled out some chilled drinks and snacks which he placed on the table near us. He asked us, "Can I bring you anything else?"

Bonny replied, "More paper. I thought there was a bunch of paper in here."

Cal went to a high shelf and returned with an entire ream of paper. "Sorry, Miss, I mistakenly put it up out of your view. I keep forgetting how short Earthlings are. Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes." He turned and retreated from the library. He had to duck his head to get through the doorway.

Reality Chain
I wanted to know what the score was, so my eyes went back to the ballgame, but I noted, "And Cal is a mystery. He walks around like a robot. He talks like a robot. And he just called us Earthlings. What's up with that?"

Bonny replied, "Well, I don't think we can include Cal in our story and stay within the page limit. As an artificial life form, he's amazing, but I don't have time to explain hierions and sedrons."

I repeated, "Hierions. Sedrons."

Bonny nodded. "Those are technical terms from the future of physics; they are explained in The Gods of Earth."

I reached towards the copy of The Gods of Earth that was there on the table, but Bonny intercepted may hand. She whispered, "Later."

She pointed to herself. "Cal and I are not of this world. Now, just forget all about Cal and the fact that he does not fit in here. I was forced to adopt a short stature just for this mission. I figured you would be intimidated if I was taller than you, but I was not comfortable being any shorter than you are. Cal only shrinks himself down to Earth human size when I send him into town to do the shopping."

I laughed. "You have a great imagination. For our homework, you want us to submit a story in which you are an alien pretending to be an Earthling?" I shook my head and looked back at the televised baseball game. I wanted to find out the score of the game, so I found the volume control for the television and turned up the volume.

I could tell that Bonny was annoyed by me watching the ballgame. She turned down the volume of the broadcast then tried to get us back to the task of working on the homework assignment, "Really good mysteries are built upon a foundation of truth."

Realizing that I had annoyed her, and since I had finally learned the score of the game, I turned my attention back to Bonny. I reached out and took hold of her hand. I was fascinated by the amazing smoothness of her skin and I knew on some subconscious level that only a visitor to Earth from another world could possible have an artificial servant like Cal and casually discuss time travel. And yet, part of me still resisted the idea that Bonny was a visitor to Earth. She looked like a normal human being except for the fact that she was exceptionally tall and pretty. "You are serious, aren't you? You expect me to simply accept that you are from another planet. A space alien."

She laughed. "Don't let your imagination run wild. I'm just as human as you are, but everyone is tall on my home world. For this mission on Earth, I had to shrink myself down so that I don't attract too much attention. In any case, you are the alien." She jabbed a finger into my chest.

I laughed. "Right."

"Yes, exactly. But that's irrelevant. The tryp'At have been engineered to pass as human, so we won't even mention aliens in our story. We have to stay within the length limit for this assignment. And besides, tomorrow you won't remember anything about the tryp'At. In fact, you won't remember any of what I've told you today, not until about 40 years in the future when my sister reminds you about it. Now, we have a limited amount time together, so don't keep wandering off topic." She sniffed the air. "Golly, I smell Cal's wonderful fish frying... let's hurry this along."

Bonny pointed a finger at me and I felt my mind shift. I no longer cared if she was a visitor from a distant planet. It had been interesting to hear her call me a tryp'At, but I suddenly lost all curiosity about that. Now working efficiently as a team, we quickly formulated the basic plot of our story which was concerned with secret messages about space aliens that Jack Vance had embedded in his stories and how I needed to decode those hidden messages. Of course, the story was largely about Bonny and how she had to inform me about the importance of reading Vance's books.

image source
Before we could finish writing the entire story, Cal called us downstairs to dinner. I enjoyed the trout and the whole meal, which Cal served to us as multiple courses, like we were in some fancy restaurant. While we ate, Bonny kept telling me about the details of "our" story, such as how Jack Vance was himself guided to write about particular exoplanets by his replicoid, an artificial lifeform who had originated in an earlier Reality. Of course, I asked Bonny to explain what replicoids are, but she said that there was no time for "pesky little details like that". She told me, "Later in the semester, as another writing assignment, you can create a story explaining what a replicoid is."

All through the evening, each and every time that I started getting off topic, Bonny would point her finger at me and more of my mind was edited and additional thought trails were blocked off from further discussion. After dinner, we went back up to the library and finished writing up the story.

There was one small part of what Bonny told me that might explain why my memories of that evening were suppressed until I recently received a set of infites from Yōd. Bonny told me about a Vance story that needed to be "corrected" just before the Final Reality.

in the Buld Reality
In the Buld Reality, Jack Vance wrote a version of The Blue World that explicitly mentioned hierions and endosymbionts. That novel was published as an Ace Double with Vance's The Brains of Earth. I was horrified by the idea of human brains secretly hosting alien lifeforms as described in The Brains of Earth. It remains my greatest fear that my own behavior has been controlled during my whole life by Irhit the replicoid making use of the Bimanoid Interface to control my phari endosymbiont. That night in 1977, Bonny mentioned Yōd and the role she would play in freeing me from Irhit. Sadly, I was not allowed to remember that until 2018, after a change was made in the Bimanoid Interface, a change in its functioning that liberated me from Irhit.

Towards the end of the writing session, I just sat there watching the final inning of the Red Sox game on the television, so I barely noticed how the hand-written story had been processed by a neat little computer that was embedded in Bonny's pen and how Bonny was able to quickly print out the whole story using a silent little printing device that was on a shelf there in the library. When she had the printing completed, she tucked the pages of the story into my backpack along with the paperback copy of The Palace of Love.

The last thing I clearly remember from that evening and from that entire weekend was the sportscaster commenting that it was almost midnight. The Red Sox won both games of a double header that evening, and the late game was exciting back-and-forth affair with Fred Lynn hitting both a double and a triple. Looking back on that weekend, as Friday ended and we went into the early hours Saturday, my memories become foggy.

I think I understand how Bonny made use of the ballgames that evening. While she wrote out  Mystery of the Future, something marvelous that I had just learned about Vance's imaginary universe  would often me into my own "story telling mode" during which I could talk endlessly about the minutia of a subject I was intrigued by. Bonny had some means to flip my brain over into "game watching mode". Quietly watching a baseball game was about the only way to keep me seated and quiet when I was in my teens. I would imagine that it was me playing the game and I was completely absorbed, anticipating each and every pitch. Then, after a few minutes of baseball, when my thoughts had calmed down (or had been pruned and edited by Bonny), Bonny could switch my mind back to listening to her explain the next part of Mystery of the Future. Most likely she could manipulate a nanite control circuit in my mind to switch me back and forth between my available cognitive  modes. I wish I could remember the details of Mystery of the Future, but those details were apparently not important. Bonny's mission was a success because she taught me an important concept that I could instantly apply later in my life when I received information about past Realities from my collaborator, Ivory Fersoni.

I've lived the past 40 years of my life without remembering any of that magical weekend that I spent with Bonny until I received a big packet of infites from Yōd here in 2018. I am certain that Bonny provided my with infites that contained the complete text of her "Star Kings" essay, so I remember that little tale word for word. I suspect that she did the same with Mystery of the Future, but I'm not sure about that. If she did, then something might still be blocking me from fully accessing the information that is contained in those particular infites. Alternatively, the reason I cannot remember more than the first line of Mystery of the Future might be that the infites I received from Yōd here in 2018 have now erased or destroyed some of the infites that were given to me back in 1977.

Zeta is still reading this as I write. Zeta says, "I've told you that there are some truths that my sisters and I are not allowed to share with you. Some of those truths we are aware of, but others may have been taken from my conscious awareness before I was ever allowed to come to Earth." When she was a child, Zeta was explicitly told that her memories would be manipulated and controlled by infites. In my case, I have slowly discovered this fundamental concept: infites were used to make possible the programming of my mind, but it seems like I may never be allowed to understand the details of my programming because of the powerful resentment that I have over this matter. To retain my sanity, I must believe that I have some freedom of action in my daily behavior. My worst fear is that I carry virus-like infites that automatically edit my knowledge so as to keep me guessing and prevent me from knowing that I am a simple puppet with my behavior completely controlled by others.

I can't really be sure if that was Zeta who visited me back in 1977. Maybe it was Alpha Gohrlay. Maybe it was Grean the Kac'hin with her appearance altered so as to look like my future wife. Whatever her real identity, Bonny's mission had been to plant in my mind the basic and fundamental idea that Jack Vance's science fiction stories contain hints about real events that took place in the Asimov Reality

That homework assignment, the story called "Mystery of the Future", prepared my mind so that I was later able to accept the idea that there had been analogues of Jack Vance who had been allowed to write less fictional accounts of space aliens in the Ekcolir Reality. By temporal momentum, all the same topics were written about by Jack Vance here in our Reality. Sadly, Vance was severely constrained in terms of what he could reveal about aliens to readers like me, here in the Final Reality. However, Bonny had equipped me with the idea that it was possible to decode Vance's writing and by so doing, learn truths about the origins of the human species.

The Last Grendel on Earth
Image credits.
To this day I feel bad about having gotten an "A" on "Mystery of the Future". Bonny wrote that story and all I contributed was a few suggestions for how to better explain some of the "far out" topics. I remember the professor's reaction to our collaborative homework assignment. After reading "Mystery of the Future", our professor wrote on our story: Let me guess, you are both trekkies.

In the second week of the semester, Bonny dropped the English class and disappeared from campus. A day after her departure, I could barely remember her, but for about a year I rode my bike down every road up there in the hills, as if I might find something interesting down one of those shady lanes. Now I understand why she had called her artificial life assistant "Cal". Bonny had known the future, or, if not the future, she had seen some future in which Asimov wrote about a robot named Cal.

I think I know why the name "Bonny Fennland" was used back in 1977. As I already mentioned, after dinner, Bonny finished up writing "Mystery of the Future". I slowed her down by making her explain many things to me, those points that formed the interesting plot elements of her story, elements that had mostly been lifted from the pages of Jack Vance's stories. After she had placed the printed copy of the story into my backpack, she quizzed me about my interest in baseball. Based on her questions, I soon realized that she did have a good understanding of the game, but as if she had simply read the rule book. I think she envied me for having grown up with the luxury of spending time on silly recreations like playing baseball.

Asterothrope female
When the Red Sox game was over and I turned my full attention back to Bonny, we discussed many other topics all through the small hours of that night. One topic that I now recall discussing with Bonny was the Grendels and why Vance had originally described the alien in Star King as "Grendel the Monster". Bonny explained to me how through the course of thousands of years the Grendels had guided the development of human civilization, operating out of their hidden bases in inaccessible wetlands like the fens of Europe. Maybe with continued effort I will recover more memories from that magical Saturday and Sunday, but right now, as I write this, those two days are still mostly blank space in my memory with just a few memory fragments from early on Saturday leaking through to my conscious mind.

In retrospect, one of the most surprising "memories" that have been revealed to me by Yōd's infites is that the natural height if the Gohrlay clones is apparently much above that of Earth-normal humans. Or is that an over-generalization? I have to believe that it was Zeta who visited me in 1977 and introduced me to Jack Vance's writing, and the more I think about my recovered memories from 1977 the more I feel like I do have a memory of being in telepathic contact with Zeta back then. Each person's mind has a distinctive "flavor". (Zeta is reading this and she still denies it.)

image source
I've long imagined that the great height of Asterothropes and the Ek'col was something relatively new, but it is possible that Gohrlay originated from a very tall human population that existed all the way back in the First Reality. Zeta now refuses to discuss that topic with me and as far as I can tell there is nothing explicit about Gohrlay's natural height in the infites that I received from Yōd. I have to conclude that this is one of the topics that I am not allowed to know about. Another mystery for the future: why should it matter if Gohrlay was naturally tall?

Taivasila
Having read all of the above, Zeta told me, "Now that I've read your full account of that weekend, I suspect that Bonny was a completely artificial replica of a human being."

I asked Zeta, "An artificial lifeform that enjoys eating pan-fried trout?"

in the Ekcolir Reality
"A human replica that enjoys the taste of food the touch of her lover's hand and all other human pleasures. There have been Gohrlay clones in every Reality. Bonny might have originated as a being that was genetically my sister, but also someone who could only exist in the Final Reality as an artificial lifeform."

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Error Patrol and The Ivory Infites

Next: Phenence goes to Earth
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