Nov 30, 2014

Lost in Translation

Marta's place in her family tree.
This is the latest of a series of blog posts in which I struggle to "catch up" with the storm of revelations that have arisen following Ivory's death. Apparently, while she was still alive, Ivory carefully adhered to a promise that she would protect the secrets of her clones. As soon as Ivory died and her mind passed into Yrovi, "she" was no longer bound by her promise.

In my previous blog post, I described the fact that Hilde is actually a clone of Ivory. That revelation upset my thinking because I have long assumed that Hilde was a fairly normal Earth woman. In contrast, Ivory was a special "show case" for Preland gene combinations, a way of demonstrating to we Earthlings what is possible to accomplish with genetic engineering and artificial selection.

A Kac'hin female.
There are still many unanswered questions about Ivory's origins. For example, what do we know about her father? Certainly I've been led to believe that he was a "normal" Earthling, but we should rightly be skeptical about that. I suspect that he was a carrier of certain Preland genes that made him particularly attractive to Marta and the perfect choice to father her daughter.

The Mysterious Marta
Artist's depiction of Marta at Atlantis.
I recently blogged about Ivory's mother and I'm still simmering with resentment over the way she manipulated both Ivory and I. It's frustrating, but I can't bring my rage to a full boil because I'm only experiencing half-conscious flashes of dream-like memories from my time with Marta in the Hierion Domain. As far as I know, I've never actually met the real Marta here on Earth.

At the same time, I feel a debt to Marta. In some sense, it was she who converted me from a bumbling boy into a competent man. What I resent about it is that Marta was just using me as a conveniently available tool, or, maybe a better analogy is this: I was a convenient grind stone upon which Marta could sharpen a tool. Of course, in this analogy the "tool" was Ivory.

I guess I'm just irked by the idea that Marta would so relentlessly treat her own daughter like a tool, a tool that had been planned and crafted and sharpened and deployed on Battlefield Earth over the course of three generations. Still, I must admit, Ivory was a sparkling and powerful tool. Marta did her work well.

Clone War
If Ivory was a well-built sword, it must be remembered that she was only a prototype. Like me, Ivory went through the stages of embryonic brain development without any special neural network guidance nanites there to guide the shape of her mind. In contrast, her clones were produced in order to subject their developing brains to artificial guidance in an attempt to create on Earth a few minds capable of crossing over into the Sedronic Domain.

I have to admit that the whole Ivory Project was a success. Trysta, Lili and Marta relentlessly forged the steel and stamped out the blades that allowed we Earthlings to hack our way into the archives that hold the secret history of Earth and the human species. I'm still allowing myself the luxury of imagining that Anney is still here with us and still available to help reveal even more about our origins. I know that I still need help in sorting out this story, what I call the Exode Trilogy, and telling it to the world.

For the cover illustration of Trysta and Ekcolir, I tried to depict Trysta making use of the Bimanoid Interface to look into the Sedronic Domain and see her own future. She was able to see a future time (in the Ekcolir Reality) in which Ekcolir was being prepared by Grean for his mission on Earth. At that future time, Ekcolir was able to gaze into the Sedronic Domain and see Trysta, in a previous Reality while she was "viewing" him in her future. Similarly, Trysta must have had foreknowledge of the roles that Ivory and I would play in telling the secret history of Humanity.

I've previously tried to create an "artist's depiction" of Anna. Unfortunately, I was, at that time, still being tricked into believing that Ivory's natural physical appearance was similar to that of the actress Hilarie Burton. In reality, Ivory simply used Hilarie Burton as a model during the time when she was first experimenting with facial nanites. Ivory used nanites to shape her physical form to be like that of Hilarie Burton.

I really have no idea what an Ivory Clone naturally looks like. I assume that Anna grew up with a physical appearance that was very similar to that of Ivory. I now know that Ivory grew up with nanites in her body that forced her face to take on a normal human appearance. My working hypothesis is that every child born on Earth has gone through that process. We seem to exist in an unseen sea of nanites. Even when people like Ivory and Anna are born on Earth and carry a fundamentally alien gene pattern, their appearance is automatically shaped to match the human norm.

Sadly, I never knew when Ivory was toying with me and when (or if) she was being honest. The image to the left might be a fair depiction of what Anna would have looked like had she grown up on a world of the Galactic Core.

In addition to the big eyes, I suspect that Prelands also have other alien features such as non-human outer ears. For example, when I "saw" Hilde inside the Hierion Domain, she had large ears that reminded me of the Ferengi. However, when it comes to the "true" appearance of Anna, your guess is as good as mine.

Artist's depiction if Hilde within the Hierion Domain.
I suppose it was Trysta and Grean, viewing the as-yet non-existant Buld Reality, who first understood the role that the Atlantis Clones would play in revealing the hidden history of Earth.

We can list certain criteria that had to be met in order for Ivory's clone "sisters" to play their role in revealing events that occurred on Earth in past Realities. They had to grow up on Earth and care enough about the appalling ignorance of we Earthlings in order to be motivated to do something about it.

At the same time, they needed to be able to journey into the Sedronic Domain. These first two requirements are almost mutually exclusive. I believe that it is essential for Preland brains to be exposed to the Sedronic Domain at a very young age. There is probably a critical period of early brain development during which neural networks must be formed and integrated with special nanites that will make possible "excursions" into the Sedronic Domain.

Somehow, Angela did have the magical combination of genes and nanites that allowed her to gain access to the Sedronic Domain. But what about Anna and Anney? For nearly two years Ivory distracted me with the claim that Angela was the one providing us with information about other Realities. However, now that I've lost contact with Ivory and no longer receive her reports from Angela, I really need to investigate if either Anna or Anney might be able to provide me with the information that I still need. What do I really know about Anna? Regardless of Anna's physical appearance, she was the first clone of Ivory, on Earth. I suspect that there might be other "Ivory Clones" in the Galactic Core, but we ay never know. An even more alarming possibility is that Ivory herself might simply be a clone of some other "original" person who first had her combination of genes.

Origins and Endings
So, for simplicity, let's assume that Anna was the first "Atlantis Clone". I've never heard the story of how she was brought into our world. Further more, I've been relentlessly teased with clues and hints about her ultimate fate. I can't say with certainty if Anna is even still on Earth any more or if she went off to the stars.

Artificial Uterus
One possibility is that Anna simply did not have a biological mother. It is my understanding that on worlds such as Hemmal, people are born by artificial means. The pek are apparently able to gestate humans or Prelands and give birth to children without them ever knowing that their "mother" was an artificial life form. The term "Atlantis" is just a joke, but the reality is that Ivory was born inside the sentient spaceship Many Sails. Maybe Anna was not only born inside "Atlantis", but she might have gestated inside an artificial womb provided by Many Sails.

Just Beam Me In
Another alternative is that Anna was crafted on a planet of the Galactic Core and then teleported to Earth. Ivory tried to explain to me the concept of "selfies", artificial life forms that are in some sense a "copy" of a previously existing biological life forms. I might have missed the point she was trying to make. I now realize that "selfies" and people can co-exist, and maybe provide a positive feedback system for exploring and amplifying the powers of a human's brain. The "Ivory model" of alien-human hybrid might have been carefully crafted and developed on a world of the Galactic Core. The "Anna copy" of that model might simply have been teleported to Earth. Earthlings asking about the circumstances of Anna's birth might be wasting their time if she was born on a distant planet.

My Theory
An Ek'col male and an
Asterothrope female.
For some reason, another alternative sprang into my mind: the idea that Marta was Anna's birth mother. Marta was probably in her 40s when Anna was born, but Asterothropes and Prelands seem to age slowly.

Ivory never mentioned that her mother had other children. However, it is possible that when Ivory went away from home and off to her college studies, it would have been possible for someone like Betty to step in an impersonate Marta for a few years.

As soon as I became aware of Ivory's memories from the Hierion Domain, I became intrigued by the idea that she had spent "several lifetimes" living in the Hierion Domain with my replicoid. I believe that if Ivory could do that, then why not also Marta?

I have fragments of dream-like memories that might reflect a period of time during which Marta raised Anna within the Hierion Domain. I suspect that my replicoid was there the whole time, helping Marta raise the baby Anna. My working hypothesis is that during those years, occasionally Marta brought me, my conscious self, into the Hierion Domain from Earth. Sadly, I have no key, no set of available memory threads to bring my memories of those visits into my full conscious awareness. Still, I have a hunch that I am right about this.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3.
Why Me?
I've become captivated by the horrifying possibility that Anna, like Ivory, is dead. Strangely, that might be a good thing. Why else would Anna be cavorting with the Dead Widowers?

In his novel, The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov depicted an Eternal, the time travel Technician Andrew Harlan, trying to explain why some forms of technology are too dangerous to leave in the hands of primates. "When you duplicate mass, you can duplicate persons, too....there is no satisfactory solution to the mas duplicator problem. It's one of those things like atomic wars and dreamies that just can't be allowed."

I don't know exactly what Asimov had in mind when he wrote about "dreamies", but I agree that from our perspective in time we can view them as some sort of virtual reality experience, something that people can become addicted to, causing them to withdraw from the real world.

See "Elf 3" by TwiggXstock
What if the "Ivory Clones" had to be exposed to the virtual reality of the Hierion Domain at a young age? According to Ivory, she almost became trapped in the Hierion Domain, preferring her "life" in there to the reality of Earth. I've gotten the impression that something went "wrong" with Anney, something terrible that Ivory never wanted to talk about. Maybe Anney was pushed too fast and too deep into the Hierion or Sedronic Domain.

I believe that Anna gave birth to Anney. I fear that Anna could not live with what happened to Anney when she was put into contact with the Sedronic Domain at a young age. When given the chance, Anna seems to have left Earth. I previously thought that Anney also went off into space aboard the Buld ship, but maybe not.

The translator
In a very real sense, it has become my task to translate the experiences of Izhiun, Thomas, Ivory and her "sisters" into a coherent story that can be understood by Earthlings. It's a big job and I need help. Right now, by hope is that Anney is still on Earth and willing to help me. No doubt she expects me to do my share of the work and I am trying to understand how I can push my brain in a direction that will allow me to better explore and understand the information nanites that I carry in my brain. Even if Anna did go off with the Buld, might it be possible to contact her (possible through the Hierion Domain) and persuade her to help me? At the very least Anna might be able to put me in contact with Anney.

More book and magazine covers.
More posters.

The Hidden History of Hilde

Artist's concept of Hilde
I was recently shocked to learn of Ivory's death, but before she slipped away to pursue her second life, she left me with a gift: a swarm of infites that contain memories of our shared time together in the Hierion Domain.

Ivory's clones were experimented upon and used as test subjects for exploring the possibility that Earthlings might successfully be given access to the vast information content of the Sedronic Domain. Previously, I've assumed that Ivory had good reasons for protecting the identities of her clone "sisters". However, my old conceptualization of the twisted fates of the "Atlantis Clones" has now been shaken.

I now believe that Anney is still on Earth and functioning as part of a secret cabal: the Dead Widowers. Someone, probably Anney, recently sent me a cognitive stimulant that has allowed me to awaken some of my repressed memories of my time "inside" the Hierion Domain.

Thomas and Hilde
In addition to the infites that I received from Ivory, I also carry memory nanites that long resided with the brain of Thomas. I suppose I should not have been surprised to learn that Thomas and I have interacted by way of the virtual reality interface of the Hierion Domain. By matching my own nicotine-boosted "dream" memories of the Hierion Domain to the infite-generated memories of Thomas' experiences in the Hierion Domain I've confirmed that he and I met "inside" the Hierion Domain. In fact, what I learned from Thomas during those meetings was what allowed me to begin crafting stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe.

I'm not doing quite as well accepting a second, similar revelation about the Hierion Domain. It turns out that I first had "dealings" with an Atlantis Clone in 1982. Previously, I was allowed to make the false assumption that Hilde was the daughter of Peter and Hana. Of course, there was always something odd about Hilde's origins. Hana believed that I was Hilde's father. I knew that I was not Hilde's father, but I still felt guilt for "abandoning" her. Somehow my guilt was largely washed away by the "revelation" that Peter was Hilde's father.

Shortly before she left Earth and went off on her adventure among the stars, Hilde contacted me and and tried to explain the role that Peter had played in her life. Reviewing my memories, I now realize that Hilde did not explain very carefully and I was too upset to really listen anyhow. Actually, Thomas once explained it "better", but I only just recently gained conscious access to what Thomas told me.

River City
Space and time do not have their normal anchors in the Hierion Domain. I've previously mentioned the fact that Lili, Ivory's grandmother, was born on Rain World, a planet of the Galactic Core. I believe that "modern humans" evolved on Earth, but it might be that more human replicoids trace their origins to worlds of the Galactic Core than to Earth itself.

I borrowed the image to the right from a video game, but it is not a bad match to the setting within the Hierion Domain where Thomas told me the truth about Hilde.

For me, at least, entry into the Hierion Domain is a near death experience. Each time it happens, I am snatched from the safe tranquility of my dreams and pulled through a Hierion Tube. I experience the transition as if my conscious self is ripped out of my physical body. Somewhere above me, a deep vibration begins and my mind is caught in a psychic wind. Soon my mind rises above my body and then I'm there, inside the Hierion Domain.

Hilde, Lili and Thomas in River City
My mind seems to barely be able to survive the experience of being inside the Hierion Domain. What I experience is a kind of virtual reality interface. Often I have been summoned into the Hierion Domain by some acquaintance (like Thomas) who is trying to be helpful, but I seem to be a source of frustration. Usually I arrive and feel like I've joined a party at just about the time when the last few stragglers are cleaning up the mess and getting ready to depart. My replicoid is always there in the Hierion Domain, but occasionally it occurs to someone like Thomas that "me", the flesh and blood extension of of my replicoid, might benefit from some tidbit of information.

On this occasion, I found myself in what can best be translated as "River City", what I believe to be the Hierion Domain's virtual reality version of the home town of Lili. Nobody has ever explained to me the popularity of River City with the rag-tag band of Earthly residents who have, through the years, repeatedly dragged me into the Hierion Domain. I guess it serves as their base of operations for planning my life. Upon my arrival there, I found Thomas in conversation with two "aliens". As usual, I was struggling to adjust to the Interface. Apparently my replicoid had just collapsed and fallen off his chair. "My" first task, now that my conscious mind controlled the body of my replicoid, was to get up off the floor.

The two aliens noticed my arrival, then Thomas turned and waved towards me. He said cheerfully, "Ah, you did make it through. Join us! You'll be pleased to hear about my latest discovery."

I half walked, half stumbled to my stool. While helping to guide me, Thomas introduced me to the alien who was sitting at the bar. "This is Hilde."

She grabbed my arm and helped me get into a fairly stable position on the bar stool. Thomas held my other arm and steadied me. He pointed to the alien who was standing on the other side of the bar. "And this is Lili."

My head was spinning with my usual effort to adjust to the Interface and I struggled to accept the idea that Hilde could be there with us in the Hierion Domain. She seemed perfectly at ease and did not seem to be struggling like I was to adjust to the Bimanoid Interface.

Lili said, "You look like you need a drink."

Everyone laughed. Of course, I was not really there, and I could not be effected by any simulated drugs from within the Hierion Domain. I looked at the right hand of my replicoid and was impressed by how closely it resembled my own hand. Somehow that fragment of normalcy steadied me and I croaked, "I'll be okay now."

Thomas slapped "me" on the back and said, "Good man!" Before saying anything further, he nervously toyed with one of the tobacco leaves that were scattered across the shiny surface of the bar. After a long pause he said, "Hilde is still hiding from me on Earth, but she relented and came groveling to me here."

Lili said sharply, "She's not groveling, you jackass."

I still had hold of Hilde's arm with my left hand and now I reached across and took hold of her hand with my right hand. Although I was freaked out by her alien appearance, I still managed to say politely, "It's nice to finally meet you."

She squeezed my hand reassuringly and said, "I'm sorry I've caused you so much trouble."

Responding to the kindness in her voice and what seemed like empathy in her alien eyes, I said, "I'm sorry I ran out on you and Hana."

Hilde shook her head, rejecting my natural tendency to wallow in a mire of self-flaggelation and pity for the 'poor fatherless child'. She spoke rather wistfully, "Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if you had stayed with Hana and pretended to be my father, but everything worked out just fine."

Lili asked, "With Betty on the job, what could have gone wrong?"

At that point in my life, I'd never heard of Betty. I asked Lili, "Who is this 'Betty'?"

Thomas tried to deflect the conversation towards his reason for dragging me into the Domain. He explained briefly, "Betty took care of Hilde after Hana left Earth." I probably had a confused look frozen on "my" face. Thomas said, "Anyhow, that's a detail. What's important is that I've finally learned the truth about Hilde's father."

Lili shook her head and voiced an aside, "I can't believe that anyone was confused."

Thomas muttered, "I'm still confused. Why the hell was Peter handing out clones of Ivory like they were door prizes?"

Lili admonished Thomas, "Don't make a federal case out of it, it was just a simple experiment. Only one clone was taken out of Atlantis." Lili looked me in the eye and pleaded with me, "Don't you understand? Anna was too young to carry a baby and Peter was too eager to wait."

Hilde added, "And no harm was done."

Thomas complained, "Given what Hana went through, I wonder if she would agree with that assessment."

I touched Hilde's alien-shaped ear. "I thought you were human."

She giggled, "As an Ivory Clone, I have a lot of alien genes. Here in this domain I can play around and try to reconstruct my natural appearance."

Trying to look past the alien facial features, I could see hints of Ivory in the form that Hilde's replicoid was using on that occasion. I knew Ivory quite well and now that I was back in the Hierion Domain I could remember the many times she had mentioned her "sisters" Anna, Anney and Angela. I asked foolishly, "Ivory was cloned?"

Thomas laughed, "She's a very popular model. So far there are four clones of Ivory, on Earth. Hilde is the oldest of the second generation."

I had no idea what he meant by "generations" of clones and the way he had said "on Earth" seemed ominous. Before I could percolate a question up through the swirling confusion of my thoughts, Hilde explained, "Anna was the first; Lili's handiwork....just five years younger than Ivory. The proof of concept. Then Anna took charge and made the next generation of clones. Anna was like a mad scientist...she showed no restraint."

Thomas added, "With Lili and Peter pushing her to experiment with developmental guidance nanites, she had no choice."

Hilde nodded, "Ya, and since Peter was going to school with Hana, I suppose she was an obvious choice to be my birth mother. Still, he could have explained to her what was going on before he blasted her life."

Lili disagreed. "No, not in those days. Everyone on Earth was afraid of the Overseers. Peter had to secretly implant you in Hana and keep watch over the nanites. As it was, his experiment attracted the attention of Parthney. Lucky for us all it ended there."

I tried to rub my head and make sense of what I was hearing, but I was lost. I asked, "Who is Peter?"

Thomas laughed and pulled me to my feet. "That will become clear when the Buld arrive. Now, your replicoid is getting edgy and wants you out. So, goodnight!"

I felt myself being pushed out of my replicoid and sent back to Earth through the Hierion Tube. My dreams swallowed up the memory of that trip into the Hierion Domain, but now, I'm able to look back on that experience with new understanding.

I had originally assumed that Hilde was part of an experiment performed by Deomede in which the effects of certain alien gene combinations were tested in the environment of Earth. Under that working hypothesis, I might very well have been Hilde's father.

Then I latched onto the idea that Peter was Hilde's father. For a time, I could tell myself that Peter was just some guy that Hana and I knew when we were in college.

I still don't understand why it had to be me and Hana who were swept up in Peter's little science experiment.

More book and magazine covers.

Nov 28, 2014

Nicotinic Anney

In a recent blog post, I explained that I now have access to memories that were generated within the Hierion Domain. Ivory had the ability to "awaken" my consciousness and pull me from my dreams into a virtual reality that exists in the higher dimensional space of the Hierion Domain.

Ivory triggered my access to old memories of those times spent in the Hierion Domain when she inserted into my brain a swarm of infites that carry her own memories of our shared adventures in that virtual reality. In addition, I had recently received in the mail a small bottle of a "magic potion" that was sent to me by members of the Dead Widower Society. The "potion" contains a special mixture of chemicals that can safely stimulate a human brain and help someone like me better utilize the Bimanoid Interface.

I've previously assumed that Ivory's clone "sister", Anney, left Earth several years ago by hitching a ride on the Buld spaceship. However, I've now begun to question the validity of that assumption.

Anney and Angela have the ability to explore the past Realities of Earth. Ivory always told me that Angela was providing us with information about the Ekcolir Reality, but I now have reason to suspect that Ivory was deceiving me. Her tangled lies began to unfold when Ivory provided me with some infites that hold her memory of a conversation between Ivory, Marta and Anney. First, I'll provide a concise account of Ivory's recollection of that event, then I'll give my analysis of its deeper meaning.

At Atlantis
Ivory was discussing the Ekcolir Reality with Anney. Anney said, "Of course, when New York was evacuated, not everyone left."

Ivory was trying to understand how Thomas had slipped from the Ekcolir Reality into the Buld Reality. She asked, "Thomas ignored the evacuation orders?"

Anney replied, "Trysta could get them out at a moments notice. They were in no danger."

Ivory was confused by this revelation. "Wait. Are we talking about the same storm? The hurricane of 1973?"

Anney nodded. "Yes. That was his last chance to be with Trysta in the Ekcolir Reality. She was lonely and anxious because Ekcolir had departed from the Ekcolir Reality almost a year earlier. When the storm hit, Thomas was then teleported to the Moon and kept safe inside the space-time bubble of the original time travel device. Trysta did not fully trust Grean, even then."

Ivory shook her head, "But Angela told me that Thomas never knew about Trysta's plans for the new Reality."

Anney shrugged, "Ya, Trysta told Thomas nothing useful about his future."

Right then, Marta entered the room. She was carrying her niece, the newborn daughter of her brother, Peter. For a few minutes the baby was handed around and examined by Ivory and Anney. When Anney was holding the baby, Ivory glanced at her mother and met Marta's eye. She said, "Don't say it."

Anney looked up and asked, "Say what?"

Marta shrugged, "I didn't say anything."

Anney smiled and said, "Oh, ya....the grandchildren thing."

Marta put an arm around Anney and whispered, "Ivory is an old maid, but I still have hopes for you."

Anney giggled, "Babies are cute, but I can't imagine bringing a new life into this pek-forsaken planet. Besides, with my ability to examine any man's replicoid..." She shrugged and left it at that.

Ivory added, "And Angela's the same way. Face it, mom, your only hope for grandchildren lies with Anna, and she's getting too old to do anything stupid."

Anney gazed off into the distance, her eyes unfocussed while she peered into the Sedronic Domain. "Although, Trysta did imply that she would have descendants on both sides of the family, from both Deomede and Ekcolir."

Marta asked, "What do you see?"

Anney shook her head and returned her sense of vision to her hadronic body. "Trysta felt it was important to keep some secrets." She whispered to Marta, "You know how that is." Anney handed the baby back to Marta.

Ivory asked her mother, "Ya, are you ever going to open up your vault of secrets?"

Marta tried to look innocent. "Whatever do you mean?"

Ivory complained, "If you ever explained your motives then I might listen to you when you spin your fantasies about me going back out into the world."

Anney said, "You're just stubborn, Ivory. You've been out there before. You're the logical choice. You can't expect someone like me to abandon the safety of Atlantis and go out among the Earthlings." She said "Earthlings" with a tone of disgust and shiver of repulsion.

Ivory nodded, "Yes, I did my time among the Earthlings. You can't expect an escaped prisoner to volunteer to go back to jail."

Marta said, "It's not that bad. Just think: this sweet little baby will grow up out there and find someone wonderful and have a completely happy life as an Earthling. You two are just spoiled. It's a mistake to introduce little girls to the Hierion Domain".

Anney muttered, "You certainly can't use the Hierion Domain as a way to brainwash people."

Ivory eyed her clone sister suspiciously, "What do you mean, brainwash?"

Anney said, "Nothing."

Ivory knew Anney well and could sense when something was being concealed. She said, "For me, the Hierion Domain was only a source of frustration. I wandered around in there for years and accomplished nothing."

Anney commented quietly, "You've admitted before that you were happy in there, with your companion."

Ivory shook her head and said thoughtfully, "I was lonely, but it was all fake. Eventually I realized that I was living a lie and got out of there."

Anney whispered, "Nobody escapes from the Hierion Domain."

Ivory said firmly, "I did. Lucky for you, I did."

Anney laughed at Ivory, "You know that your replicoid is still in there. Aren't you even curious-"

"No!" Ivory shouted. "And don't bother pretending that you have wonderful news from my replicoid. I won't believe anything you say."

The shout had startled the baby. Marta said, "Quiet, the baby was almost asleep." She shifted the warm bundle of blankets and baby to her shoulder. "You know Anney's right. Why does it make you so angry to hear the truth?"

Anney answered for Ivory. "Ivory hates men."

Ivory snapped back, "I do not!"

Anney pushed her point. "You told me that men are stinkers."

Marta shook her head sadly, "I'll have to put Peter to work on the pheromone problem. Nose plugs could solve the problem if you weren't all so stubborn."

Ivory asked her mother, "Was that your solution? Nose plugs? I owe my existence to nose plugs?"

Marta replied, "Your father ravished me out there on the beach. I just kept him down wind."

The three women laughed and then grew quiet. Anney said to Ivory, "Grandchildren to the side, you are the logical choice to go out into the world and test the waters."

Ivory nodded. "I know. But these days I can do everything via the internet. I don't need to physically go out among the Earthlings."

Marta added, "Don't lie to yourself. You are an Earthling, Ivory."

Anney sighed. "Truth. How rare. But, yes, it is true, not all Earthlings stink."

Ivory asked, "How would you know?"

Anney explained, "When I'm in the Sedronic Domain I can access information about each person's genome. A few Earthlings are like us, full of Preland gene combinations. Ekcolir made sure of that."

Ivory was skeptical, "I'm the geneticist. You've never explained how Preland gene combinations can be identified within the Sedronic Domain."

"I can't explain the details, but I can read the gene analysis results. Just like Peter, your old flame lacks the genes that manufacture the stink."

Ivory shrugged, "I told you, I'm not going to believe any of your stories. I'm happy here and I'm not going back out there."

Marta sighed and asked. "How did I raise such a stubborn girl?"

Anney suggested, "Part of the problem is your refusal to tell Ivory the truth."

Marta nodded, "But she's so far gone that she won't listen to the truth even when it is told."

"Ivory likes gossip." Anney looked speculatively at Ivory. "Maybe if I told her your secrets then she'd listen."

Marta laughed, "Ya, right." Then Marta seemed to take Anney seriously. She asked sharply, "What are you pretending to know of my secrets?"

Anney shrugged, "Oh, nothing much."

Ivory laughed, "You better tread lightly Marta, Anney and Angela will eventually find out everything. It's all in the Sedronic Domain, just waiting to be discovered."

Marta tried to pretend that she did not care. "All my secrets are old and useless."

Anney chuckled, "He is old, now, but so is Ivory."

Ivory asked, "Who are you talking about?"

Marta said, "Anney, you don't have to answer."

Anney and Ivory returned to discussing Thomas and his transition from the Ekcolir Reality to the Buld Reality. Marta grew bored and tired of holding the baby and she wandered off.

When Marta was out of the room, Anney said, "You know, he had an analog in the Ekcolir Reality."

Ivory did not try to pretend that she did not know that Anney was returning to their previous conversation. She asked, "You found his analog in the Sedronic Domain?"

Anney nodded. "I found clues to his existence in previous was enough for me to track him down within the Hierion Domain, particularly when I put two and two together."

Ivory asked, "What does that mean?"

"It means that your attempt to get me to think like a scientist sometimes pays off. I hypothesized that Marta could still summon him into the Hierion Domain. I was right."

Ivory sighed. "You know, I'm a bit jealous. For years he's been safely tucked away in my memories. I'm not happy hearing that you've been in contact with him."

Anney suggested, "You're still in love with him."

Ivory shrugged. "Love? We lived a dozen lifetimes together. He is part of me. In the end, it just became endless frustration. Back then, Marta refused to let me contact him in the real world. All we had was the lies, the absurd virtual relationship that we constructed. It was like a dream, particularly for him. I had to end it and return to reality. Otherwise I'd still be in there, trapped in the dream."

"So, now when Marta suggests that you seek him out in the real world, why do you refuse?"

"It has to be on my terms. The time is not right."

"What are you waiting for?"

"What we are all waiting for. For the Buld to arrive."

"That's crazy. The Buld mean nothing to him. He could die tomorrow and be gone. Why wait?"

Ivory put her arms around Anney and looked her square in the eye, "You don't know everything. Trust me on this. If First Contact turns out well with the Buld, when the time is right...I will act."

Here is my interpretation of that memory (above) from Ivory.

In some sense, there have been two copies of "me" within the Hierion Domain. I've recovered some memories from the times when I was in the "virtual reality" of the Hierion Domain with Ivory. However, even when "I" was not there with Ivory, there was always my "replicoid", the artificial life version of me that lives out its own life in that Domain. I believe that Ivory did live "a dozen lifetimes" within the Hierion Domain with my replicoid.

At some point in my life, Ivory realized that she had to stop summoning me into the Hierion Domain. By then, she was apparently content to do without "me" and continue living with my replicoid. However, Ivory was not the only one who could summon me. Marta apparently continued to bring me into the Hierion Domain, and she continued to pretend to be Ivory. Anney discovered this fact and took a certain amount of delight in teasing Marta about her secret contacts with me.

Ivory waited as long as she could before contacting me in the real world. She did not want to disrupt my life and make me a slave to the task of telling the secret history of Earth. She cared enough about me to arrange for one last visit after her death.

A remaining puzzle is Anney. I now suspect that she remains on Earth and is part of the Dead Widower Society. Anney apparently spent years searching through both the Hierion Domain and the Sedronic Domain, learning about the secret history of Earth and the differences between humans and the alien Prelands. I don't understand how Marta and Ivory summoned my consciousness into the Hierion Domain, but I wonder if Anney also has that power.

"long skirt, sitting 1" by Jamari Lior
At the very least, Anney seems to have once "followed" Marta into the Hierion Domain and observed her interacting with me (or my replicoid). Someone associated with the Dead Widowers (Anney?) recently sent me a nicotine-based brain stimulant that allows me to recover my memories of the Hierion Domain.

Image credits. See the deviantArt stock image called "long skirt, sitting 1" by Jamari Lior.
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The Man Who Invented Eternity

David Mattingly
cover art - 1981
Isaac Asimov was the man who invented Eternity. In this blog post, I want to explore the nature of science fiction and use Asimov's novel, The End of Eternity, as a jumping off point for my comments.

During his career, Asimov promoted the idea that science fiction plays a special and important role in our culture that goes far beyond entertainment. Asimov wrote, "Science fiction is the one branch of literature that accepts the fact of change, the inevitability of change." - from a 1981 editorial by Isaac Asimov called "The Influence of Science Fiction"

Asimov enthroned by Rowena Morrill
Asimov stressed the importance of science fiction stories as a source of healthy exercise for the imagination, as a playful learning tool that can shape the human mind and allow people to cope successfully with change. He also suggested that  "Science fiction is at its best if the events described could not be played out at all except in in a social or physical background significantly different than our own." I understand what Asimov was trying to say, but I've spent more than decade trying to prove him wrong about this last point.

In that 1981 editorial, Asimov listed examples of people who had grown up reading science fiction stories and who were therefore ready, as adults, to engineer and usher in important technological and cultural changes. One of the interesting cultural changes that took place during my lifetime was a startling new willingness of people to think about the possibility of alien creatures that might visit Earth. In my science fiction stories, I particularly like to contemplate the Fermi Paradox and the mystery of why we have no evidence for the existence of alien beings.

Time Machine by Dave Globerson
The "Eternity" of my title (The Man Who Invented Eternity) is the Eternity that Asimov invented in 1953: his imagined time travel device. Asimov's Eternity is not just a machine that you can sit inside of and ride into the past or future. Asimov's Eternity is a place, a human-created space-time bubble where the Eternals exist outside of the normal flow of Time. From their base of operations in Eternity, the Eternals (like Andrew Harlan) can reach out into Time and change the course of human history.

Mushroom cloud
In The End of Eternity, Asimov created a "what if?" thought experiment, a playground for the imagination where it is possible to explore what might happen to Humanity if we had the power to correct and prevent all of our mistakes, particularly all of our "technological disasters".

In the year when Asimov invented Eternity, the world was confronting the newly-realized human power to explode thermonuclear bombs. Asimov wrote a mushroom cloud into his story. The plot of The End of Eternity centers on the idea that if humans used time travel to prevent the development of nuclear weapons then Humanity would survive for 10,000,000 years but then die out.

Mental Time Travel
Example of play: The Dead Widowers.
Asimov thought that science fiction is good for us. What good is such a story as The End of Eternity? To answer that, I want to shift gears and briefly move this discussion over into the world of scientific research.

In an article called "The power of possibility: causal learning, counterfactual reasoning, and pretend play", it was suggested that human evolution provided us with a long juvenile period during which we can engage in exploratory play. During that play, children can experiment with causal models of reality. Later, as adults, we can exploit what we learned through play. In fact, many of us never stop playing with ideas and models and we constantly engage in "mental time travel", imaginary projections of future behavioral possibilities and outcomes.

Amžinybės pabaiga
I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that our well-developed capacity to engage in play has become a central element in the human survival strategy. However, curiosity can kill the cat and primates playing with fire can ultimately give us the power to destroy ourselves.

In The End of Eternity, nuclear war is depicted as the technological end point that Eternals strive to avoid at all cost. Of course, there are many other ways that tool using primates can cause havoc. Asimov also discusses "dreamies" and matter duplication as technologies that never result in favorable outcomes.

Play and Causal Thinking
Asimov started out as an obsessed reader of science fiction stories and that obsession turned into a compulsion to write and publish his own stories. Because of his need to write, Asimov became one of the world's most prolific authors, writing both science fiction and other types of fiction as well as millions upon millions of additional words of nonfiction. He even wrote obsessively to himself in his diary and about himself in his autobiographies. Sadly, he died just before he could have started writing webpages. Imagine what Asimov's blog would be like, were he still with us.

Cover art for the edition of
The End of Eternity that I currently own.
Asimov made a living by selling the products of his fertile imagination to his fans. It was easy for both meddling editors and book reviewers to piss off Asimov. We live in a society where stupid and clueless book reviewers can confuse and distract book readers and cost an author large amounts of money, not to mention their peace of mind. Asimov wrote, "I have never made any secret of the fact that I dislike the concept of reviews and the profession of reviewing".

Asimov kindly provided a list of requirements that must be met for a book reviewer to be competent. Given his strong emotional reaction against clueless reviewers, it might actually be for the best that Asimov did not live into the age of the internet where it is now possible for every Tom, Dick and Harry to put book reviews out on the internet. At least in Asimov's era, influential book reviews were likely to be written by paid professionals who had a chance of acting like a professional when they wrote and published a book review. Still, even in the previous millennium, plenty of opportunities existed for book reviewers to publish bumbling reviews of Asimov's books and trigger the emotional pain that he always felt when receiving a "bad review".

"novel of the future"?
Similarly, a meddling book editor can enrage an author just by changing one word of a story .... or rejecting a story because of the editor's own irrational prejudices, or adding a silly illustration ... or ..... well, there are probably an endless number of ways. However, Asimov gladly admitted that there were times when editors improved his stories with small alterations. For example, an editor changed the title of his first Black Widowers mystery story by the addition of one word, a change that pleased Asimov. When Cele Goldsmith rewrote the ending of Asimov's story called "What Is This Thing Called Love?", Asimov was happy with her contribution to the spirit of the story.

I discovered Asimov's time travel novel, The End of Eternity, by way of the 1970s paperback edition that sports a cover illustration by Paul Lehr. I like to think of the (tiny) couple towards the bottom of Paul's depiction as being the time travelers Noÿs and Andrew. The contrast between the floating obelisks and the ancient ruins is a good fit for the story. I've previously blogged (repeatedly) about The End of Eternity and my belief that it is something of a SciFi masterpiece. Below, I allow myself to be diverted into a nonreview of the The End of Eternity that was provoked by a published review of the story.

Novel of the Future?
by Franco Castelluccio
Is The End of Eternity a "novel of the future" as was proclaimed on the cover? Wendy Lesser seemed to think so when she wrote her review of the novel. It must be a homework assignment at some college: students forced to analyze how closely Asimov "predicted" the future in one of his science fiction stories. The idea that a fan of science fiction would expect a science fiction author to predict the future is bizarre.

Wendy states in her review that when she was in her teens she was an obsessed science fiction fan. Maybe her obsession ended when some college professor made her write a term paper analyzing how closely a science fiction writer like Asimov "predicted" the course of the future in a science fiction story.

Wendy found it remarkable that Asimov, writing in 1950s, could have imagined a small electronic device that could hold an audio recording of 60,000,000 spoken words. However, as a trained chemist, Asimov knew just how tiny molecules are and the "double helix" model of "recording" information at the molecular level (as our DNA does) was big news in the scientific community in 1953, the year when Asimov started writing his time travel story. Need we be surprised that Asimov provided an Observer like Andrew Harlan with a handy-dandy "molecular recording device"? No.

And yet, Wendy begins her review of The End of Eternity by insisting that the idea that "an entire bookshelf of bound volumes can be stored in a gadget the size of a fingertip" was not "even a mote in a scientist’s eye". Of course, Asimov had long been writing about robots with positronic brains. Asimov knew that since biological evolution had discovered ways to store huge amounts of information in a human brain then some day it would become possible to make an artificial brain with vast amounts of information stored in a small space.

Rosalind Franklin
As a scientist, Asimov was immersed in the scientific milieu of his age and it was widely known that since miniature information storage was already used inside living organisms then it was reasonable to extrapolate, theoretically, to future man-made computing machines that would also use very small memory storage devices.

In 1944 the scientific evidence was accumulating that DNA was the "genetic molecule". At that time, Erwin Schrödinger explained theoretically how patterns of covalent bonds in large molecules can store information. People like Rosalind Franklin were stimulated by that theoretical analysis to do biology experiments and discover the detailed structure of the genetic storage molecule, DNA. Other theoreticians like Francis Crick took the hard-won experimental data and made the double helix model of DNA.

Alan Turing, who worked with the first clumsy memory devices of the early computing age, none-the-less expected (in 1950) that by the start of the new millennium advances in computing would make it possible for people to build machines with human-like abilities such as using human languages. 

Writing in 1959, Richard Feynmen suggested that, by the year 2000, great advances would be made in making tiny devices, and the only puzzle would then be why it had taken computer engineers so long to begin working on the task of miniaturizing their machines. Of course scientists and engineers were not slackers, they "simply" had to invent and build a new industry for creating nanoscale computing circuits.

Should we be surprised that Asimov depicted Andrew Harlan using a molecular recorder from the year 5500? Wendy claimed that, "Asimov thought all this would take many centuries". So, simultaneously it is a miracle that Asimov could imagine a "molecular recorder" and he was also a bozo for "predicting" that such devices would require centuries of R and D rather than decades? No, no, no, And no. In The End of Eternity, Asimov never predicted when any technological advance would occur. It is absurd and abominable for anyone to even suggest such a thing, let alone make it the kick-off point for their review of Asimov's book.

The Pace of Technological Advance
In The End of Eternity Asimov explored the idea that Eternity is simultaneously 1) a place outside of Time, 2) a time travel device, and 3) a kind of cultural stasis device.

Wendy apparently misunderstood the key implications of the idea that the Eternals, who live within the Eternity time travel device, do not travel through time to consult with their future selves. Using time travel to meet yourself is explicitly described by Asimov as being taboo among the Eternals.

Eternity is some type of space-time bubble where the Eternals reside in "sections" that are constructed living spaces that each connect to a particular century. When working as a time travel Technician, Andrew must travel to the correct section of Eternity and then cross over into the "nearby" desired part of Time in order to apply his Technician's Touch and alter the course of history.

Within The End of Eternity, an Eternal who is stationed and living in the section for the 575th century is living his life in parallel with other Eternals who are stationed in the 3000th century. Wendy is confused by this and she thinks it should be possible for Andrew to travel through time and arrive either in his past or future at the section for the 3000th century. However, that's not how Asimov depicted Eternity. His whole plot would collapse if Wendy's version of time travel were true.

Reality Chain
According to Wendy, the effect of Eternity on human society is to create a "slightly dull equilibrium". However,  Asimov went to a great deal of trouble to explain that the Eternals were constantly making Reality Changes that prevent Earthlings from making "harmful" technological advances. In other words (Wendy, are you listening?) the Reality depicted by Asimov (which we can call the Mallansohn Reality) involves a totally manipulated and altered pace for technological development. Asimov explicitly shows that the Mallansohn Reality has a completely different rate of technological advance than we should expect in our future. In our Reality, where Eternity does not exist, we are free to develop new technologies without the watchful Eternals being there, waiting to step in, remove dangerous technologies and "correct" our mistakes. It is a fool's errand to compare the pace of technological advance in Asimov's fictional Mallansohn Reality to what has happened in our world and then gloat or pretend to be surprised that Asimov could be so wrong about the pace of advance in electronics. We can conclude nothing about Asimov's "powers of prediction" just because it takes until the year 5,500 for a really good molecular voice recorder to be made in the Mallansohn Reality while we already have iPods.

The Eternal Past
Had the blurb writer actually gotten to the end of The End of Eternity then it should have been obvious that all of the events in the novel are depicted by Asimov as taking place in the past, not the future. At the end of the story, the time traveling Noÿs and Andrew arrive in the 1930s and begin their new lives as residents of the 20th century. Their arrival in the Primitive triggers a Reality Change, putting an end to Eternity and bringing into existence a new Reality, a whole new timeline in which the nature and pace of technological advance will be radically altered from what Asimov describes for the Mallansohn Reality.

The Hierion Domain
Science fiction authors have long invented imaginary particles in order to account for plot devices like faster-than-light travel or time travel. Within Eternity, in the playground of his imagination, Asimov spoke of there being seemingly material things that were actually immaterial. 

For the Exodemic Fictional Universe I imagine that in the future we Earthlings will discover that there are many more fundamental particles that go beyond our current Standard Model of hadronic matter.

I divide these additional particles into two families, the hierions and the sedrons.

Fun with Hierion Tubes.
Another long-time staple of science fiction stories are "extra dimensions". I like to imagine some kind of "explanation" or excuse for how Eternity could exist as a bubble beyond normal space-time. I've taken to using the term "hierion domain" to refer to the "location" of such space-time bubbles. Also, I use the term "hierion tube" to refer to the portals that link from the hadronic domain to the hierion domain.

Asimov wrote about "Eternity" as the place where the Eternals like Andrew lived out their lives and some readers never "got it". They never noticed that the Eternals do not normally travel into their own pasts. The whole point of The End of Eternity is that it could be dangerous to travel into the could disrupt the very existence of Eternity itself. Of course, that is exactly the mission of meta-technician Noÿs.

Cheesy Romance
In her review of The End of Eternity, Wendy wrote, "Cheesy as the love story inevitably is"...

Asimov is frequently criticized for his portrayal of Noÿs, in particular, and women, in general, in The End of Eternity. In my view, such criticisms make about as much sense as complaining in his life time Plato never proclaimed Jesus as Lord.

The Desired Response
Why is Noÿs in the story at all? Yes, she and Andrew fall in love, but really, that is not the point. Asimov was not trying to write a love story. In particular, Asimov was not trying to write a love story that would appeal to the many women who make it their business to criticize male science fiction authors for their inability to write love stories that appeal to women.

Noÿs is a meta-technician. As a Technician of Eternity, Andrew must slip into Time and secretly alter the course of history. As a meta-technician, Noÿs had to slip into Eternity and try to secretly destroy Eternity from within. 

As Noÿs ultimately explains to Andrew, using the advanced technology of her age (far in our future) she was able to look into their shared future and see that she and Andrew would fall in love and live happily together. For that reason, she selected him as her target for her mission to destroy Eternity. In my view, that is a very romantic notion. I applaud Asimov for realizing that he could create a fun story where the very nature of a male-dominated Eternity allowed for its easy destruction by a female secret agent from the far future. And yes, some women do recognize the brilliance of Asimov's plot and how he brought together Noÿs and Andrew from across a gulf of 10,000,000 years so that their love might be true.

Not About You
One of Asimov's rules for how to be a good reviewer of books is "the review must not be a showcase for the reviewer". And yet Wendy felt impelled to tell us about: 1) her education in the Palo Alto school system, 2) that her father worked for IBM, 3) the obscure model name (Kaypro) of her first computer and 4) how much she despised having to feed punch cards into a computer. Most annoyingly, Wendy had to inform readers of her own personal opinion: "Part of the pleasure of reading old science fiction is precisely this: with the special powers vested in you by historical hindsight, you can compare the playfully visionary forecasts with what actually took place." I've explained above, why playing that game, in the way that Wendy played it, is misguided and futile in the case of The End of Eternity. I suspect that what was really going on was that Wendy had gotten into a time machine and come back to warn us in 2010 that her book "Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books" would be forthcoming and full of her opinions about the joy of reading.

However, I think Asimov got into his time machine and went even further back in time to write a warning for reviewers like Wendy: "...this is the point where even the cleverest reviewer (perhaps especially the cleverest reviewer) can come a cropper". Asimov warned, "The purpose of the review is not to demonstrate the superior erudition of the reviewer or make it seem that the reviewer could write the book better than the author."

I'm glad that Wendy had fun pretending that The End of Eternity was a failed attempt to make "visionary forecasts", but I wish she had not shoe-horned her play time into her review of Asimov's book. Mercifully, Asimov himself did not have to read her review. Sadly, it provoked enough emotional reaction in me to cover both mine and Asimov's account. As an addendum to Asimov's rules for reviewers, I'd add the special Wendy Rule: don't go more than 500 words into your review before actually telling the reader about the story you are reviewing.

Unearthly Powers
Source. Click image to enlarge.
I suppose that Wendy posted her review of The End of Eternity under the heading "Unearthly Powers" because she views the Eternals as "unearthly". However, the reason why Noÿs must destroy Eternity is because aliens on other worlds of the galaxy spread out and settle all the available planets while Earth concerns itself with time travel and "safe" technological development as selected by the Eternals. When humans of the far future finally developed practical technology for interstellar travel, it was too late. There was no place left in the galaxy for humans to spread out to from Earth and Humanity slowly died out. In order to give Humanity a chance to spread to the stars and survive, Eternity must be destroyed.

Daneel the conductor
Under the influence of John Campbell, Asimov developed the idea of an "all human galaxy". He even suggested the idea that robots had used time travel to create conditions in our galaxy so that we humans did not have to compete with alien species that had evolved on other worlds. Since most of Asimov's science fiction stories are set in the "all human galaxy" of the Foundation, The End of Eternity is something of an anomaly. At the very end of his Foundation Saga (in Foundation and Earth), Asimov suggested that aliens would eventually arrive in our galaxy from other galaxies.

In The End of Eternity, Asimov posed an interesting dilemma: what if human survival depends on our ability to harness the power of dangerous scientific discoveries like nuclear fission? Asimov depicted Noÿs as being certain that Humanity must risk using dangerous technologies. The potential damage that might be done outweighs the mundane existence that we would have if we always took the "safe alternative".

The Exode Trilogy is really a fan fiction sequel to both Asimov's Foundation Saga and The End of Eternity. I agree with Asimov about the important role that science fiction can play in stimulating the minds of readers. The Exode Trilogy is mental exercise that challenges readers to ask: what if aliens from distant worlds long ago visited Earth?

What if the very existence of the human species was made possible by aliens? Since the Exode story originated with my ruminations about Asimov's science fiction, I've found it impossible to resist inserting Asimov into my story as a character. I depict Asimov as a time traveler who is sent into his own past where he can help establish his own writing career.

I had so much fun inserting Asimov into the Exode Trilogy that I also made myself a character in the story. As "the Editor" of the Trilogy, I must struggle to reveal and publicize the secret history of Earth. The story is still under construction and collaborating authors are welcome. With the recent loss of Ivory, I'm currently feeling the need for a new collaborator.

More posters and cover images.
Related Reading: my blog post about science fiction as a literary genre
2015: More comments and another non-review for The End of Eternity