May 22, 2016

The Gaia Intervention

original cover art by Margaret Brundage
Gohrlay has been unwilling to share details of her first life. Apparently she was traumatized by experiences at Observer Base and she has never fully recovered. I've been able to learn part of the story about how she and her Escapist friends tried to form their own Clan, but it has been clear that Gohrlay does not want to talk about her experience of being invited into Cliph's Clan.

However, it appears that the story of Gohrlay's first encounter with organized religion was told in the Ekcolir Reality. Thus, I have been searching back through the infites that I received from Ivory for clues relating to the mystery of how Gohrlay was traumatized in her first life.

Ivory had a very logical mind. Her knowledge of past Realities (mostly won for her by her clone sisters) was stored and catalogued in a format that reminds me of a library. For convenience, I often imagine that Ivory or her sisters published science fiction stories (for example: see 'Genetically Engineered God', below) that tell the story of Deep Time.

The Heaven Domain
The fundamental religious concept that guided Clan life at Observer Base was simple yet audacious: within their religious ceremonies, the Observers (who were residents of Observer Base) played the roles of "angelic" beings who served the deities (Overseers) who controlled the fate of all people who lived on Earth.

One aspect of Observer religious practice that I don't fully understand is their strange type of ancestor worship. The Overseers were a type of genetically modified gracile Australopith with access to nanite technology. They could use their nanites to morph their physical features and it is not clear that they ever showed their true nature to the Observers. More importantly, the Overseers used their nanites to perform "miracles" and make themselves appear like gods to the Observers.

Original cover art by L. Raymond Jones.
Australopithecus reconstruction (source).
Since the data bases of Observer Base indicated that the Ovserseers were genetically related to the evolutionary precursors of the Observers, it was believed that each species of primate was
1) first created and then
2) it passed through a golden age on Earth, then
3) became extinct on Earth and then
4) finally went through a god-like Overseer phase and then
5) ultimately transcended to an immortal existence in the "hierion domain", a concept which had a similar meaning for Observers as "heaven" does in some Earthly religions.

50 covers
The Observers took seriously their role as intermediaries between the god-like Overseers and the people of Earth. During the time of Gohrlay, the Preland population of Earth was relentlessly replacing the humans of Earth. The dual nature of the Observers, seemingly half-Preland and half-human, was constantly at the core of discussions of religious philosophy and the doctrinal disputes between the Clans of Observer Base.

"Seedism" dominated the religious philosophy of the Observers. A popular belief was that the Observers were genetically omnipotent, containing the seeds of all possible humanoids within themselves. Popular doctrine held that both the Prelands and the humans of Earth had been birthed from the Observers. It "made sense" that Observers had a phenotype that was intermediate between those of the Prelands and the humans. The fact that on rare occasions an Observer was born with the Preland or the human phenotype did not seem surprising.

The Observers knew very little about biology, particularly genetics, so they were free to create imaginary Laws of Biology that had a good fit with their religious doctrines. One common belief was the Law of Twos. Observers imagined that the Prelands and the humans of Earth had been placed on Earth at the same time in order to test which species was stronger. By the time when Gohrlay lived at Observer Base, it seemed clear that the humans of Earth would soon become extinct.

Some Observers were impatient for the struggle between Prelands and humans to end. Thus, some Observers had been caught working to speed the demise of the humans during their missions on Earth. However, the Overseers enforced a strict "hands off" policy and punished any Observer who interfered with the "natural" course of events on Earth.

Using the primitive technologies that had been discovered by the small cadre of scientists at Observer Base, Gohrlay obtained evidence that someone had been working to transfer Preland genes into the human population of Earth. It was Gohrlay's attempt to investigate that evidence that led to her illegal mission to Earth, capture by the Overseers and her punishment.

An important part of the story of how Gohrlay became entangled with Interventionism on Earth began when she met the Escapist author, Rol. Rol specialized in mining the knowledge base of the scientists and building his stories around little-known scientific facts. For example, it had long ago been discovered that Observer Base received a vast and steady stream of information from Earth. Most Observers were only concerned with the "Top Level" analysis of those data, which amounted to a map of Earth showing where Prelands and humans lived and what their total populations were.

However, vast amounts of additional information was available. According to Gohrlay, it was only after she was taken away from Observer Base and was living in the Galactic Core that she understood exactly what was in the data stream that poured into Observer Base from Earth. Within that flood of data was the complete genetic makeup of every creature on Earth. This information was automatically collected by the zeptite endosymbionts that resided inside every creature on  Earth.

Cliph's Clan
In addition to the automated data stream from Earth, there were also the direct observations made by Observers who visited Earth. Most of these direct observations concerned the small human population of Earth which had long been expected to decline to zero. Amazingly, the small remaining human population seemed to have stabilized, creating a puzzle for the Observers and a source of frustration. Why didn't the last few humans just die off?

Most residents of Observer Base had long ago lost interest in going to Earth and making observations of the humans. Only one Clan at Observer Base still followed the training and work protocols that defined the life of an Observer. Most residents of Observer Base never went through that training and did not qualify to participate in Observation missions to Earth.

The one remaining true Observer Clan was led by Cliph who held the title of Chief Planetary Observer. Cliph allowed Gohrlay to go on a brief training mission to Earth, but he was not interested in her theories about why the humans did not become extinct.

When Gohrlay met Rol, she learned about an old theory concerning the data stream from Earth. Many centuries previously, a biologist at Observer base had proposed that each feature of a person such as eye color corresponded to one of the coded entries in the Observer Data stream. Those mysterious coded entries were known as Datoids. Legend said that after this hypothesis was confirmed, the scientist who made the discovery disappeared and her name was erased from all Observer Base records. In legend, the punished scientist was known as "Gaia".

One of Rol's favorite types of story concerned Observers who were punished by the Overseers and "cast out of heaven". In Rol's stories, those who were thrown out of Observe Base went to a different part of "heaven" where another world besides Earth was under observation. However, Rol showed Gohrlay an old story ("The Gaia Intervention") in which Gaia was condemned to live out her old age on Earth.

Gohrlay was startled by that story in that it told how Gaia was able to transfer her Observer 'datoids' into the human population of Earth, thus strengthening the humans and allowing them to resist extinction in the face of the relentlessly spreading Preland population.

For Gohrlay, the most amazing part of the story was the means by which the elderly Gaia was able to insert her datoids into humans. This part of the story had never been distributed through the electronic fiction database of the Observers. Rol showed Gohrlay a hand-written book that expanded on the electronically-recorded legend. The Gaia Intervention explained that scientists at Observer Base had long ago discovered and isolated the cellular constituents of Observers.

Not only did they discover the rare and elusive germ cells of the Observers (who, like Prelands, lack sperm and produced few gametes), but they also learned how to convert other cell types into embryonic stem cells. Thus, in The Gaia Intervention, Gaia was able to produce embryonic stem cells containing her datoids and pass her datoids on into the children of many humans on Earth.

Gohrlay is skeptical that The Gaia Intervention described real events. However, it seems likely that the practice of sending Observers to Earth did allow for at least the temptation of transferring genes from Observers to Earthlings.

Next: Psychohistory in Deep Time
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