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Sep 29, 2009

The Djinn


I previously blogged about the story Moon Hammer, a science fiction ghost story. I'm getting close to writing the "thrilling conclusion" of the story and I've started thinking about the main character as a genie.

I'm fairly certain that I was introduced to the concept of a "genie" by the television show "I Dream of Jeannie". By thinking of them as a silly Hollywood plot device, I was successful in dismissing genies from my thoughts until I read Gödel, Escher, Bach and saw Douglas Hofstadter's description of meta-genies. A meta-genie can grant meta-wishes. For example, a regular genie cannot grant a wish about wishes such as, "I wish that you grant me 100 wishes". Of course, there are also meta-meta-genies, etc. In Arabian mythology there are several types of sentient beings including humans, angels and genies. In what sense is the "Moon Hammer" character Brother Institoris a genie? If Institoris is a genie, then are there also meta-genies in Moon Hammer?

"Moon Hammer" is a story set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. The Exodemic Fictional Universe includes the idea that there are "layers" of sentient beings between Earth humans and aliens from other star systems. For stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe it is essentially impossible for Earthlings to meet space aliens...if you are lucky you might get to interact with a Genesaunt. In "Moon Hammer", Brother Institoris is a "poor man's Genesaunt", existing on the lowest rung of Genesaunt culture. Institoris was taken off of Earth 500 years ago and allowed to have an "afterlife" with his mind housed inside a robotic body.

It has been suggested that in some ancient Middle Eastern cultures "genies" were sometimes viewed as evil females who could do things like spread diseases among humans. Spreading disease was one of the claims that has sometimes been made against witches by European witch hunters like Institoris. It is a bit of a crazy, but fun, strange loop to think of Institoris as being a genie. A genie is "concealed through time" and that describes Brother Institoris in Moon Hammer. After 500 years on the Moon he is "released from his bottle" and allowed to haunt Earth.

It will be a shame to have to stuff Brother Institoris back in a bottle, but the meta-genies are ready and willing to do so. We might wonder why any responsible meta-genie would leave a genie's lamp laying around where bumbling Earthlings can get at it. In the case of Moon Hammer, the problems arise because curious Earthlings cannot keep from bumbling around the Solar System.

Image. "FataMorgana8" by Wim Strijbosch. GFDL

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