Mar 16, 2013

Prophecy by Time Travel

In my previous blog post I mentioned a strange story that is passed from Noÿs to her daughter, Gwyned. Noÿs is a time traveler from 10,000,000 years in our future, so it easy to imagine that she could tell some interesting tales to the people of the 20th century. Noÿs provides Gwyned with a warning about global warming, but this takes place in the early 1960s, before there is widespread recognition of the idea that human activity can alter the global climate.

How much did Noÿs know about her own future? According to the backstory for Noÿs that was developed by Asimov in his novel The End of Eternity, she made use of advanced technology from the future that allowed her to view alternate "Realities", alternative time lines that might come into existence. Speaking to Andrew Harlen, Noÿs says, "I studied the Reality in and I, together, returned to the Primitive. I saw our lives together and they were happy...."

Captain Christopher's son will command the first
manned mission to Saturn. Left. Right: Kirk.
Does Noÿs have the power of prophecy because of her use of advanced technology that allowed her to watch her future self? I've hinted that Noÿs and the humans from 10,000,000 years in the future might be prophetic in another way: because of access to special knowledge by way of their contacts with the Huaoshy, an advanced alien artificial lifeform that has god-like powers. The Huaoshy are fanatical about keeping secrets from Earthlings, so anyone with special access to the Huaoshy will know things about Earth that nobody else on Earth can know.

Journey into the Primitive
For Noÿs, the "Primitive" means specifically the 20th century. In Exode, Noÿs arrives in the 1930s and she does live happily there with Andrew for a while and they have a son, Thomas, but then Andrew is captured by the Overseers. If she was able to see her "future" life with Andrew in the 20th century then why didn't Noÿs know that Andrew would be captured, why didn't she take steps to protect Andrew?

Assignment: Earth
As Noÿs explained to Andrew, "No matter how finely we focus on a given Reality...there are fuzzy spots. One fuzzy spot spoiled things." So, although Noÿs saw into her own future, the future that she helped to create was different in detail from the future that she originally saw, planned for and tried to bring into existence. Most importantly, as described in The Start of Eternity, the Reality that Noÿs brings into existence (what I call the "Foundation Reality") is one that ultimately allows the Huaoshy to discover that positronic robots on the Moon have invented time travel.

However, regardless of the differences between the version of the Foundation Reality that Noÿs tried to bring into existence and the Reality that was actually formed, I like to imagine that Noÿs did know that Andrew might have to be sacrificed to the Overseers even before she traveled with Andrew to the 1930s. However, she would have tried to bring into existence a Reality in which Andrew avoided that fate. Similarly, she tells Andrew, "There is a probability, not a certainty, of course, that that Earth will end up with a largely radioactive crust." Asimov later described how Earth did become so radioactive that it could no longer support human life (in Robots and Empire). I imagine that Noÿs believed it was desirable for Earth to be abandoned by Humanity, for the same reason that Giskard allowed Earth to become dangerously radioactive.

Noÿs views her future in the Primitive
I imagine that Noÿs and Andrew lived "happily ever after" in the "Foundation Reality" (see below), although Andrew died long before Noÿs, simply because of the extended life span enjoyed by Noÿs. The most interesting thing about the Foundation Reality was that it eventually allowed the alien Huaoshy to realize that time travel had been invented by robots living on the Moon. With that critical understanding finally achieved, the Huaoshy set about creating another Reality in which, when the time to sacrifice Andrew approached, I imagine that Noÿs discussed with Andrew the advantage to be gained from allowing himself to be captured and he volunteered to be taken to the secret Observer Base on the Moon. I imagine that Noÿs was aware of the possibility that Overseers might notice the presence of Andrew and Noÿs in the 19th century and in anticipation of being detected she had a plan that would involve allowing Andrew to sacrifice himself so that Noÿs could escape and continue her effort to establish a future that involved control of the galaxy by Humanity.

The Foundation Reality
In The Start of Eternity, I imagined that Noÿs works in the 1930s to bring into existence the Foundation Reality, a timeline within which events unfold as told in Isaac Asimov's fictional universe. However, despite the best efforts of Noÿs, the Huaoshy develop their own time travel technology which they use to put an end to the Foundation Reality and bring into existence the Reality that we know (for reasons described below and in Exode, I call this Reality the "Buld Reality"). Further, after regaining control of their secret base on the Moon, the Huaoshy put an end to all time travel. For Exode, I imagine that Noÿs, while living in the 20th century, is contacted by time traveling Huaoshy and her efforts in the "Primitive" are re-directed towards the task of creating our Reality.

Testosterone and brain sexual dimorphisms
The Noÿs Reality. When Andrew is captured and taken off of Earth (1949), Noÿs and her young daughter, Gwyned, escape from the Overseers and go to live in Australia. Andrew is the first father that Gwyned knows, but he is not her biological father. While living in Australia, Noÿs uses the name Trysta and she eventually marries Merion Iwedon. Upon reaching adulthood, Gwyned knows Trysta and Merion as her parents and Andrew fades from her memories. Gwyned never really knows Ekcolir, her biological father, very well. Ekcolir is an Interventionist agent from Hemmal and he is something of an absentee parent. Gwyned never understands why Ekcolir only occasionally shows up to consult with "Trysta" and only stays for brief visits. Thomas is Gwyned's half brother. Thomas grows up to be a writer of  fiction: science fiction stories that involve "alternative histories". I expand on the life of Thomas in my next blog post.

Temporal Inertia
One of the features of "Reality Changes" in The End of Eternity is the inertia of time, by which Asimov meant that even if a time traveler causes an altered course of events, time tends to "heal itself" and the course of events can return to its original shape after a limited period of time travel-induced alterations.

As a further example of the resiliency of time as depicted by Asimov in The End of Eternity, the main character, Andrew, visits a library in Eternity that has records for many alternative Realities. Among the library holdings for alternate Realities of the 575th century are 15 that included novels written by Eric Linkollew, "usually described as the outstanding writer" of that century. Each of the 15 different sets of "complete works" of Linkollew are different: "One set was noticeably smaller than all the others." Asimov never explained how many alternate Realities in a particular century could be brought into existence by Reality Changes while leaving most people unchanged, but since I'm using Asimov's version of time travel for Exode, I'll adopt this feature of time travel. The Reality that we know is slightly different from any that Noÿs "viewed" in preparation for her time travel to the 20th century, but most of the people that she viewed remain the same and have an existence in our Reality.

Noÿs brings nuclear technology to the 20th century
I imagine that when Noÿs "viewed" her own future in the 20th century she saw her son Thomas and her daughter Gwyned. Gwyned grows up as a gifted science student and starts a career in physics research. I imagine that in the Foundation Reality she played an important role in the development of fusion power.

As a biological product of her two unusual parents, Gwyned is not  typical Earthling. When Gwyned is teleported off of Earth (in the Buld Reality) and arrives at Lendhalen she provides Parthney with a rather perplexing introduction to the existence of a human female who is not sexually attracted to men.

For Exode, I imagine that Noÿs comes from the far future, a time when there is only one human gender. As described by Asimov in The End of Eternity, humans "just die out" at some point in time more than 10,000,000 years in our future. Noÿs is part of a project that is designed to put an end to Eternity, the time travel system on Earth. The mere existence of Eternity is blamed for the inevitable extinction of the human species in the Mallansohn Reality. For her mission back in time, Noÿs has been surgically engineered to have the appearance of a human female of our primitive age and she has some advanced nanites that facilitate her disguise. In the Buld Reality, Gwyned, as a biological hybrid between Noÿs (with the mono-gender genes of humans in the far future) and Deomede (a false Buld from Hemmal), is genetically unable to respond to males as potential sexual partners. Parthney is not particularly attracted to Gwyned, either. They are almost two different subspecies of humans.

Leymaygn on Oib
Gender Wars
Gwyned's sexual preferences come to the attention of Deomede and when he decides to teleport her off of Earth he is happy to so. Ekcolir (in the Noÿs Reality) and Deomede (in the Buld Reality), as Interventionists, are rather aggressive and militant in their efforts to make sure that heterosexual humans inherit the Earth rather than the hermaphroditic Prelands. Also, the Overseers are all genetically modified females, which further biases Interventionist agents on Earth (who are all males) against women like Gwyned. Their prejudice against the Prelands and the Overseers often extends to include humans who are not obviously heterosexual. Deomede does not trust Gwyned so he gladly teleports her off of Earth.

Spock: "Interesting experiences...." Smirking Kirk.
When Gwyned is on Earth, her mother (Noÿs)  talks to Gwyned about certain myths and legends and she hints that they are relevant to the future of Earth. Gwyned can't make sense of what Noÿs is telling her, but later, at Lendhalen, she passes along what Noÿs said to Parthney. When Parthney reaches Earth he "connects the dots" and realizes that Noÿs provided useful information about global warming and how the Buld, soon to arrive in the Solar System, can help the Earthlings deal with their technological adolescence and problems like rising sea levels.

Parthney comes to understand the concept of global warming because of Leymaygn's skilled interpretation of Gwyned's reports about events on Earth. Leymaygn is familiar with the on-going effort to warm Oib, and she correctly recognizes the cryptic warning from Noÿs about melting glaciers and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on Earth. Leymaygn tells Parthney about the technology that is used by the Buld to transmit vast amounts of energy to Oib.

In The End of Eternity, Asimov showed the Eternals confronting the implications of people who, through the use of time travel technology, know their own futures. August Sennor proposes the theory that time paradoxes are impossible, that people cannot know their own futures: something will always prevent people from obtaining knowledge of their own future. Asimov does not adopt that conservative theory, but the people working within Eternity are depicted as having an almost superstitious aversion to even contemplating the idea of meeting yourself in time. Similarly, in Star Trek, allowing people to learn about their future was often just too much fun to avoid. In Tomorrow is Yesterday, the crew of the Enterprise tells Captain Christopher that in his future he will have a son. In Assignment: Earth, Spock and Kirk can't resist telling Roberta and Gary that they have interesting experiences ahead of them, together in their future.

The Start of Eternity: the first positronic robot.
Does Parthney go to Earth knowing his own future? Not really. He has some hints about Earth that help guide his actions, but it is only after he has made critical decisions and already acted that he realizes the meaning of the message that Noÿs provided to him by way of Gwyned. Still, with the help of Parthney that critical information persists in the Solar System and is available when Kach and Izhiun eventually arrive.

The Start of Eternity
Is Exode a sequel to The Start of Eternity? I'm not going out of my way to make sure that Noÿs can jump cleanly from the pages of The Start of Eternity into Exode. It was a happy coincidence that when I finally decided that Exode should start in the 20th century Noÿs was in the right place at the right time to play a role in Parthney's mission to Earth.

For The Start of Eternity I, originally imagined that the Huaoshy would terminate time travel in 1947. However, for Exode, I want Noÿs and Ekcolir to travel back in time, departing the 20th century from a time point in the early 1970s (possibly 1971, more than 20 years after the proposed end of time travel in The Start of Eternity). So, for Exode, I imagine that the Huaoshy put an end to time travel around 1971 rather than 1947. It might be possible to make The Start of Eternity consistent with this later date, but I'm not going to worry very much if the ultimate fate of Noÿs in Exode is slightly different. The Start of Eternity can end with events still taking place in the Noÿs Reality and Exode can be in the Buld Reality.

In The Start of Eternity I imagined that the Huaoshy lost control of their secret base on the Moon. For Exode, I imagine that when the Huaoshy allow a Buld spaceship to depart for Earth (shortly after the time when they lose control of their Moon Base in the Mallansohn Reality) doing so is part of how they create our Reality (the "Buld Reality"). This is part of the Huaoshy plan in which Ekcolir goes back into the past near end of the last glaciation where his  presence will allow the pek to prevent the positronic robots (including Gohrlay) from capturing the Moon Base that was established long ago by the Huaoshy. In exchange for her help in thwarting the revolt by positronic robots, the Huaoshy agree with Noÿs to give the humans a chance to create a technological civilization on Earth (what becomes the "Buld Reality").

I like this "Exode variation" on the end of Eternity (in which Noÿs dies far in our past at about the time when written language first appears on Earth) better than what I had originally imagined in 2009 for The Start of Eternity. It is fun to imagine ways that "ancient Interventionists" could have left behind cultural artifacts that have gone unrecognized. In what way could Noÿs have made a cultural impact about 10,000 years ago that could have persisted and transmitted information about our present times all the way into the 20th century?

Technological Intervention
Ancient lenses?
In the original Exodemic story I imagined that Interventionist agents showed Alexander the Great how to use simple lenses to make possible a system for microscopic writing. That technology for microwriting was discovered by the Overseers and they put an end to its use on Earth, but some of the lenses remained behind as puzzles for archeologists.

For Exode, we can ask how Noÿs might have arranged to have stories about the 20th century propagate across 100 centuries. Recognized evidence for writing that was preserved in stone and clay only goes back about 50 - 100 centuries. However, it is fun to imagine that we might some day discover evidence of unusually advanced artifacts at a 10,000 year old archeological site. Some forms of mnemonic aids that might assist in the propagation of stories through long periods of time might not leave clear evidence of their existence in ancient times. Noÿs is able to compare the ancient myths of the Noÿs Reality and the Buld Reality and notice a difference that she attributes to her own presence on Earth 10,000 years ago.

The Buld Reality
Sequence of Realities: Eternity, Foundation, Noÿs, and Buld.
Before the Huaoshy can cause the "Buld Reality" (which is the world as we know it) to come into existence, there is an intermediate "Noÿs Reality". In the Noÿs Reality the Huaoshy take control of their Base on the Moon at a point during the 20th century. In the Noÿs Reality, Noÿs lives out her life in the 20th and 21st centuries. Under the influence of Noÿs, advanced nuclear technology is developed and Earth never makes heavy use of fossil fuels and never goes into an age of serious global warming and catastrophic sea level rise. However, Earth suffers a nuclear catastrophe instead. The Huaosy show Noÿs that future and in so doing, gain the help of Noÿs for initiating another Reality Change. By sending Ekcolir back into the distant past at the end of the last glaciation the Huaoshy are able to keep control of Observer Base on the Moon and arrange for a Buld spaceship to arrive in the Solar System early in to 21st century. At the end of Exode, we are left wondering if Earthlings can make use of Buld technology to prevent catastrophic sea level rise.

My next blog post further sorts out the differences between the Noÿs Reality an the Buld Reality.

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