Sep 29, 2013

Gohrlay's Brain

Isaac Asimov ended his Foundation Saga with the prospect of the positronic robot R. Daneel downloading his memories into the brain of the hermaphroditic Fallom.

Gohrlay's Brain
The Foundation of Eternity starts with the story of how the first positronic brain was made. Poor Miss Gohrlay must sacrifice her brain in order to provide a pattern that can be imprinted on the positronic circuits, imparting human-like behavior to the robots.

I previously had some fun with the idea that The Foundations of Eternity can be viewed as a horror story. I'm going to continue that theme here in this blog post.

The Brain that Wouldn't Die
The Brain from Planet Arous
The Brain that Wouldn't Die was apparently made in 1959, two years after The Brain from Planet Arous was in theaters.

The Brain from Planet Arous features an alien character named Gor.

Gor and the other residents of Arous were depicted as having the appearance of large play-dough brains with eyes stuck on the front.

I've never seen The Brain from Planet Arous, but it seems an amusing coincidence that I ended up with the name "Gohrlay" for the Neanderthal woman who would provide the brain template for positronic robots.

Seeing the Future
As early as 1934, Sci Fi fans were reading about the Arisians, an ancient alien species with large brains. I've long wondered if Campbell and Asimov read the Lensman stories and if they were influenced by Smith's idea of "giant brains" that could mentally calculate and predict future events.

Whudja mean they aren't big enough?
Together, Asimov and Campbell sketched out the idea of Psychohistory, a fictional future science modeled after statistical mechanics, but rather than predictions about the behavior of molecules, Psychohistory could predict the behavior of social groups composed of large numbers of humans.

Eventually the Psychohistory Project initiated by Seldon provides cover for the secretive Second Foundationers. The Second Foundationers have telepathic abilities, but they need time to grow their ranks and condition the bulk of Humanity to accept the guidance of a new ruling class of telepaths.

In the Exode Trilogy, Trysta uses Reality Viewing technology that was developed by the Huaoshy to look into the future and select the Buld Reality, the world as we know, from among all possible Realities.

Head Transplant
Jan's head
In The Brain that Wouldn't Die, Dr. Bill, a surgeon, is soon to be married to Jan. Sadly, Jan loses her head and her body is incinerated in a car crash. Bill must go on the hunt in search of a new body for his future bride.

Jan spends the rest of the movie as a telepathic talking head in a tray of nutrient solution on a bench top.

In search of a hot new body for Jan, Bill is reminded of Doris, who pays the rent by posing in a bikini during "art classes". Doris has a hideous scar on the left side of her face and she tells Bill that she'd do anything to get rid of her face.

Oh, No! Mr. Bill!
As The Brain that Wouldn't Die plays out, Dr. Bill, is ready to dispose of Doris' head and transplant Jan's head onto Doris' body. Nobody thinks this is a good idea except Bill.

The End
Even the grotesque monster that Bill keeps locked in a closet knows that Doris should not be sliced and diced for spare parts. This monster, played like a Frankenstein's monster by Eddie Carmel, has apparently been pieced together during Bill's earlier transplantation "research" efforts.

There is even an "Igor" analog in the movie, Bill's assistant who has a disfigured hand. In the end, Bill, Jan and and the assistant end up dead and the monster heads off stage, carrying the unconscious Doris out of the now burning transplantation laboratory.

The Fate of Gohrlay
The Foundations of Eternity describes the origin of the Laws of Robotics and how those behavioral imperatives become programmed into positronic brains. One of those laws says that robots must obey orders from humans.

I previously decided that it would be useful to have Gohrlay give the order to R. Nahan that would allow the Huaoshy to defeat R. Gohrlay. I was thinking that a clone of Gohrlay would be used for this purpose.

Now I'm thinking about how it would be possible to actually have the "real" Gohrlay be present rather than a clone.

Um, but isn't Gohrlay dead?
No. People at Observer Base on the Moon such as Doltun and Klempse are tricked into believing that Gohrlay dies when her brain is destructively scanned. However, Orbho Anagro secretly uses advanced Huaoshy technology to nondestructively obtain the detailed structure of her brain. For show, a disposable clone of Gohrlay goes through the destructive brain scan.

Gohrlay is quietly slipped out of Observer Base aboard the Many Sails. Gohrlay is taken away from Earth to the center of the galaxy. Back at Observer Base, her brain pattern is incorporated into positronic circuits, giving rise to R. Gohrlay. About 20,000 years pass before R. Gohrlay is defeated by the Huaoshy. How might Gohrlay remain in existence for 20,000 years?

Time Travel
Time travel is the obvious way to bring Gohrlay 20,000 years into her future. Grean need only use the Huaoshy technology for traveling through time to pluck Gohrlay out of the past and bring her to the point in time when her presence can be most useful. R. Nahan will be torn between continuing to protect R. Gohrlay, as he has done through millions of years of physiotime, or following an order from Gohrlay. R. Nahan has long since come to think of both himself and R. Gohrlay as human. After all, both their brains originated from the structure of Gohrlay's brain.

Another option that could shift Gohrlay into her future is to harness relativistic time dilation. I could send Gohrlay off on a sublight-speed journey or two that would result in her physiological age still being young enough that she could still be alive 20,000 years after she first left Earth.

Just how long could Gohrlay live? For the Buld, I've already assumed that nanite-mediated life extension can give them a life span of thousands of years. However, The Buld have been genetically engineered to greatly improve the efficiency with which nanites can colonize their bodies and interact with their cells. A "normal" human like Gohrlay can't live thousands of years.

Suspended Animation
Another standard Sci Fi option is some sort of suspended animation. This option would require that someone have the foresight to put Gohrlay into an anti-aging bottle and it also requires that I introduce suspended animation technology into the Exode Trilogy.

Imagine that after R. Gohrlay takes over control of Observer Base, the Huaoshy begin a detailed investigation of the human species. Might they make a copy of Gohrlay and some other humans within the domain of sedronic matter? If so, it might be trivial  for the Huaoshy, 20,000 years later, to create a new "copy" of Gohrlay as a physical being of conventional matter. Could the pattern of Gohrlay simply exist in a Huaoshy database for 20,000 years and when it becomes useful, could the Huaoshy simply manufacture a new Gohrlay from that recorded pattern of her physical body?

The Huaoshy do have advanced teleporter technology. A human body can be "dematerialized" at one location and its pattern transmitted to a distant location and "rematerialized". In general, I've imagined that the vast amount of energy needed to "make a human body from scratch" is captured from the dematerialization process and immediately used to generate the new body. But might not the Huaoshy have the technological prowess to manufacture a human from scratch anytime they want?

The Brain that didn't die
Dr. Bill has to carry Jan's head a long distance from the site of the car crash back to his laboratory. Many minutes pass during which Jan's brain has no blood supply. We are not supposed to ask medical questions, we are simply expected to squirm in horror while Dr. Bill schemes to find a girl with a disposable head so that he can give Jan a new body.

The Tease
My first idea was to have a "prelude" right at the start of Part II so as to let readers know that Gohrlay is not killed by the brain scan. However, I'm now thinking that I have an opportunity to generate even more surprise in readers if Gohrlay can return to the story line at the exact moment when she is needed to "save the day" and finally put an end to R. Gohrlay's revolt.

Update: March 2014 ideas for how to keep "Gohrlay on ice" for 20,000 years.

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