Aug 26, 2013

Xenon Zero, Gary Seven

Gary Seven and Roberta
Assignment: Earth is one of my favorite Star Trek episodes and I've even gone as far as to write a fan fiction story (X-Seven) using some of the characters from that Star Trek episode. It is easy for me to think of Gary Seven as an "Interventionist agent" in the sense of stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe.

I was recently reminded of the existence of The Special One, an episode of The Outer Limits, in which a "Mr. Zeno" arrives on Earth. Mr. Zeno, like Gary Seven, has a secret mission to complete on Earth.

the alien Mr. Zeno (left)
No! Not Again!
Isaac Asimov read many robot stories when he was a boy...and he was disappointed by the standard SciFi plot in which the mechanical man always did something bad: "Through the 1920s and 1930s...hordes of clanking, murderous robots continued to be reproduced story after story. I was an ardent science fiction reader in the 1930s and I became tired of the ever-repeated robot plot."

Asimov went on to write his own robot stories in which robots could be friends with humans and even guide Humanity towards a safe future. Luckily Asimov was not around to see the movie based on his robot stories regurgitate the robot rebellion meme.

Asimov and Sagan
Alien Invasions...yawn...
Just as Asimov disliked robot stories that were stuck in the standard "Frankenstein complex" plot, I dislike the standard alien invasion plot. Rule #1 for this often repeated SciFi plot is that the evil invading aliens are incompetent. We Earthlings, with our primitive technology, must successfully resist the invasion. Generally, after coming to Earth from across vast interstellar distances, the technologically advanced aliens do something incredibly stupid, dooming their invasion.

alien technology from Xenon
In The Special One, the invading aliens from planet Xenon have the technological means to convert the atmosphere of Earth from being only marginally habitable for Xenons, into an environment that would be more like Xenon. Mr. Zeno then foolishly gives that advanced technology to a school boy who turns the tables on the evil invaders. The boy uses the advanced technology provided by the aliens to make Earth an even less hospitable environment for the Xenons, thwarting their great plans to take over Earth and live here happily ever after.

The Special One is bad science (the aliens supposedly metabolize xenon, a nonreactive noble gas), bad science fiction and painful-to-watch television.

I'm intrigued by people who have made their living as a writer, jumping from one genre to another as opportunities arose. What might inspire someone who has a history of writing for television shows like Bonanza to try their hand at science fiction? I suppose there is not much difference between most science fiction on TV and shows that fall into other genres.

Gene Roddenberry
You can boil most plots from Hollywood down to a basic "good vs evil" core. Build up the "drama" by having the bad guy confidently stride towards victory, then in the last scene, allow the good guy to win. Then cue the voice over: "Tune in next week for more of the same..." If you happen to be writing an episode for a science fiction show this week, just be sure to throw in an alien invader or a robot.

Real Science Fiction
Thankfully, there have always been a few "real" science fiction writers who have been willing and able to think outside the box of Holywood's conventional dramatic formulae. Asimov brought us interesting robots and folks like Carl Sagan and Gene Roddenberry brought us interesting aliens who had motives beyond ravishing Earth and exterminating humans.

Miners of Earth; cover art detail
I've been trying to imagine the challenge of getting a science fiction story published in the 1940s. I tried to create a cover for Miners of Earth that might have helped sell the story, even though the cover art really has almost nothing to do with the story. The cover is a tease...allowing readers to imagine some horrible alien invader. While writing Miners of Earth, Thomas knew that there was a secret history of Earth. It is fun to imagine that a fantastic (and true) secret history of Earth would not sell as publishable science fiction simply because the story does not match the conventional biases of science fiction publishers and editors.

In the Exode Trilogy there is an opportunity for readers to adopt the perspective of R. Gohrlay and view the aliens as evil invaders, but I've been trying to leave the reader in doubt about the motives of the aliens who long ago came to Earth and created we humans. Why would the Huaoshy spend 10,000,000 years making us and then replace us with Prelands? Short answer: the Huaoshy just aren't that into us. The Prelands were designed and crafted to replace humans, to be an improvement over we primitive humans.

By examining his mother's memories, Thomas learned about the existence of the sprawling, billion-year-old intergalactic Genesaunt Civilization. What do the mysterious Huaoshy want? In his fiction, Thomas was able to exercise his imagination and invent an explanation for why an advanced form of life might come to care about the fate of primitive creatures like we humans.

A similar puzzle lurks within Exode. The Huaoshy honor an ethical principle that says they have no right to interfere with the natural course of life's development on worlds like Earth. However, in practice, because the aliens feared what might happen if some lifeform got out of control and became a danger to the Huaoshy, they put in place Genesaunt Civilization. Until humans came along, the Huaoshy had never faced a serious threat from another lifeform.

By spreading Genesaunt Civilization from galaxy to galaxy the Huaoshy had been able to spread their influence through the universe, guiding thousands of different lifeforms to a safe existence that did not threaten the Huaoshy. The Huaoshy are rather smug about their system since the evidence indicates that, left to develop on their own, most technological societies self-destruct, but within Genesaunt Civilization many technological species did manage to survive and peacefully merge with the Huaoshy. With the development and use of time travel technology on Earth, the Huaoshy feel threatened as never before. Suddenly they need to understand and regain control of Humanity.

For his story Miners of Earth, what Thomas imagined was that even if we humans are primitive and even if we might be worthy of being replaced, there could be some aliens who would value us, or even, after spending millions of years watching us evolve, simply want to help us, possibly because they had grown fond of us. Thomas imagined "collectors" who would be forced by the Rules of Intervention to collect samples of interesting lifeforms and take them to "zoos" for safe keeping.

I've imagined that according to the ethical rules of the Huaoshy, they permit some aid to primitive lifeforms, but only as long as the primitives remain ignorant of any help that they receive.

As mentioned in my last blog post, I've started thinking about the discovery of genetic evidence on Earth that would reaveal a secret history of Interventionism. Specifically, I'm thinking about the presence of a small sub-population of Earthlings, including people like Andy and Hilde, who have unusual genomes that show clear evidence of genetic engineering.

By the end of Exode, the Overseers have given up and they are no longer trying to protect we Earthlings from realizing that we were created by intelligent design. However, there is fear among the Interventionists that we humans, if free of Overseer protection, are a real danger to ourselves.

In Miners of Earth, Thomas imagined that aliens might actively suppress certain types of cultural advances on Earth in an effort to prevent humans from developing advanced technologies that could become a danger to the ecosystem or our species survival. In his story, the "Clyte" are trying to gather evidence of such interference in the development of human civilization.

Before Gohrlay came along, the Overseers of Earth were planning to prevent development of a technological civilization on Earth until the time when the hermaphroditic Prelands were ready to replace we humans. This state of affairs created an opportunity for R. Gohrlay to become aware of such organized "suppression" and that significantly strengthened her determination to protect Humanity from the Huaoshy. Only slowly could R. Gohrlay come to realize and appreciate the reasons for that "suppression" and the true danger of giving powerful technologies to apes.

If much of the development of human culture on Earth during the past 20,000 years can be accounted for by the removal of Overseer-imposed "suppression", then how much human development was due to Interventionists like the Nereids? There was a long period during which R. Gohrlay had cleared away the Earth Overseers and the Nereids were free to visit Earth. Eventually, R. Gohrlay obtained spaceship and time travel technology. What kind of a relationship did she have with the Nereids and the Fru'wu?

I imagine that Gohrlay was very distrustful of all aliens, but eventually, during the end game, with Trysta on Earth in the 20th century, there was a working relationship between Trysta and the Nereids.

I've imagined that the Nereids would mostly influence events on Earth indirectly by supporting the Fru'wu and the Pla. However, what if the Nereids played the game of taking some humans from Earth and establishing a colony of humans on a planet in the Andromeda galaxy? They could then train some of these humans for return missions to Earth.

The Interventionist training bases of the Pla such as Lendhalen took advantage of the carefully crafted conditions that existed in the Koly star system. Using data about cultural conditions on Earth that were collected at Observer Base on the Moon, the pek were able to manufacture and provide a cultural environment on worlds like Hemmal that was similar to conditions on Earth. It is not clear that the Nereids would be able to maintain a similar system. Their "agents" might not really fit in on Earth.

Under the terms of the agreement between Trysta and Grean, Trysta must help make sure that the Nereids back off and allow only the Buld to continue having contacts with Earth. I've imagined an intense episode, just before the Buld spaceship reaches Earth, when the Nereid presence in the Solar System must be forcefully terminated. I've been trying to imagine how the Nereid Base of operations for Earth might escape detection until that time. I'm imagining a small group of humans who live somewhere on Earth, people who are all rather like Gary Seven: trained by the Nereids and devoted to the Interventionist cause.

It is tempting to select some actual fringe group and write them into the story, but I'm thinking that I should invent from scratch the location and nature of the small Interventionist community on Earth that is sponsored by the Nereids. Right now, I'm thinking that the "Nereid Interventionists" might have been established, maintained, disbanded and reconstituted many times during the past 20,000 years.

I've previously decided that there was a major shift in Earth Interventionism starting about 500 years ago, corresponding to the use of Lendhalen as the most important Pla-run base for training Interventionist agents for assignments on Earth. Also, there was a known Intervention into English history at that time.

In keeping with that, I want to design a small community in Europe that could have an influence on cultural development in England during the early 1500s. Maybe there was a group of interventionists with connections to Marienthron (Mary's Throne) in Nimbschen, which is famous for its connection to one of the important women of the Protestant Reformation. It is fun to imagine a group of Interventionists reaching out to women across Europe and supporting social change. Both Trysta and Hilde might have had dealings with these "Nereid Interventionists" and in the end game Kach might not be happy to play a role in severing their connections to -and support from-  the Nereids.

Related: the Nereid-supported Interventionists in the 21st century.

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