Science Fiction

I tend not to read Sci Fi very often, which is odd because i was born in the pit of Sarlaac.

Humans From Earth Pt./Stanza/Chapter/Act 1/3/2/1

    On the Planet Adnusii there is a College of Astrolinguistics. In fact, it is more accurate to say that the Planet Adnusii IS the College of Astroliguistics. It’s a nice place, as far as planets are concerned – nice trees, red skies that reflect blue water in a dizzying sort of way, gigantic clams that cause a great deal of distress when they open and close their mouths because of all the people who have built houses on them, and linguists wandering about consulting with hypercomputer data streams that flow languidly into several large seas. The seas themselves, filled with astrolinguistic data from all across the universe, make for some very nice surfing for tired or frustrated Astrolinguists from all across the universe. It’s very convenient, surfing on these data waves because it means you never have to stop working unless you really just want to hang ten that day.

    Of course some of the species studying and working at the college are not very adept or even capable of surfing and they have, in good course, invented a host of cocktails brewed from the liquid datastreams – most of which cause whatever biological language processors species possess to go quite wrong along with whatever language is stored in the head, and the head itself. The traditional Hangover from a Phoneme Cocktail is that the linguist in question must take the next month off relearning their native language or risk speaking gibberish for the rest of their lives. This, in and of itself is confusing because to the untrained observer it would seem that the entire population of Adnusii has never bothered to sober up after drinking the Phoneme cocktails and just continue drinking them. This is not true, of course, as an Adnusii Clam would tell you if it had ever learned to use it’s tongue for anything other than walking (though residents of the clam occasionally use the gigantic miles long tongue to slide down and into the Data seas.)

    Whether you sit idly on the beach wishing you had feet to provide a good balance on a surfboard or spend your time gargling interstellar syllables in one of the many unintelligible bars one of the most common conversation topics you are likely to hear is of the nature of the phrase ‘Fortune is a cruel mistress’.

    It turns out that this phrase exists in one form or another in every species in known space and quite a few species to whom space is something they only have a passing acquaintance with. It’s permutations are vast – the city of Lifsabit on Adnusii is devoted to storing these permutations and calculating a suitable word that can be spoken in all languages to stand in for all of the phrases – some of which can be enormously complicated: Shit Happens is one of the simplest but there is also “Rocks pressed into small plates after millions of years under pressure and oceans that were created to support life sometimes raise themselves to the surface after geologic time and volcanic reactions and then are discovered by civilizations that pulled themselves from a primordial ooze only to extinguish themselves or go for a nice long swim only to be eaten by a primordial alligator that has opted not to pull itself from the ooze. These plates sometimes contain food that the civilization has made from various means and according to their own devices and tastes and seasoning and sometimes that food is really not that good and sometimes someone’s uncle who is visiting and has drank too much beer dashes the plate against your skull for no apparent reason.”

    There are theories that ‘Shit Happens’ is one of the first phrases ever calculated by civilizations of any size and nature no matter if they pulled themselves from primordial ooze or the much more common ordial ooze and as such it is granted the status of a universal concept and an astrolinguistic foundation. There are further theories that this phrase alone could unlock any language encountered in known space (or, they add hastily, unknown space – which is far more common) So long as you know for certain that the speaker is uttering his species variety of this phrase anything can be translatable.

    The great project that the city of Lifsabit embarked on nearly two hundred years ago was to simplify all of the phrases and cultural nuances of the phrase into a simple, agreeable utterance that could be used everywhere. Unfortunately, as so often happens when a scientist (or worse yet group of them) has a great idea that they think everyone should quite rationally follow for the benefit of all beings, their suggestions have all been not just ignored but not even blinked at – as though they are the proverbial invisible elephant in a very very large universe sized room. This, of course, has led to a very large drinking problem in the city of Lifsabit which has, circularly, produced an even greater number of these words and a definite decrease in the publication of research papers from that city.

    It all goes round, you see? Which, incidentally, is actually another permutation of the phrase in question.

    Also incidentally Captain Townes Martin Conifer had recently blown his nose on an old copy of the Journal of Lifsabit Metaphonetics and quite unexpectedly uttered the phrase “Soap” which is only a phrase when you consider its amalgamated phonetic cultural context.

    What is not incidental is the fact that he meant it. Every word of it.

    Sophie looked at him, pretty certain that he had just swore somehow but having never heard the word before she could not adjust it to any sense.

    “Excuse me?” She said.

    The captain looked past her at the derelict ruins of the old colonial lifepod she lived in. In the gaping hole that should have been where a door might want to be he saw a three hundred year old poster from some rock band he’d never heard of. There was a bed made of something he hoped was dead that had been fashioned from the old shelves. It was horrifying to consider just how many generations of humans had called this thing home. It looked like an egg that had not just cracked but smashed, rusted, groaned and would prefer not to be looked at for shame.

    That said, the porch was pretty nice.

    “Do you mind if we sit?” He said finally, indicating what he thought might be a chair on the porch.

    “Why? Is there a problem?”

    He scratched his floppy sandy colored hair then did the same to his sandy colored handlebar moustache. One of his sparkling blue eyes jumped it’s socket nervously and propped up an eyebrow at an angle it was uncomfortable with. He didn’t want to seem ungenerous or mean-hearted or un captain like the thought of being any of those made him feel a bit queasy and un captain like.

    He tugged at one of her more prominent arm tattoos, trying to drag her away from the prying ears of Ernesto as though he were about to conspire which in one way he was. He knew that the Computer would be more than pleased to have a unique and LIVING colonial specimen rather than the virtual ones he had to deal with. Though there had been absolutely no detectable change in Ernesto’s stoic expression he could tell that the thought of letting a Colonial loose on The Turtle was the computational equivalent of puppy dogs at Christmas.

    He sat on the thing that might have been a chair. It looked like a cross between a squashed piano and a rotten tomato.

    “Look.” He said. And she complied much to his growing discomfort. “It’s not that we can’t take you with us. In fact, in a way, we intend to do just that – just not quite in the way you think, you see?” In fact she did not. All she saw was the pained look on his face but she couldn’t identify if that was because he was saying something he didn’t like or that she didn’t like or simply due to sitting on her kitchen table. It was, of course, due to all of these factors.

    “What do you mean? So you’re going to take me with you but you’re not?”

    “Yes. Something like that. Only you won’t actually move.” That didn’t seem to cheer her up at all. “I just don’t think it would be proper. I mean, to have someone like you wandering around our ship. It’s really a big ship, you know, and I wouldn’t want you to get lost, or, or, or, smell up anything.”

    She looked at the ship. It was about the size of a football field but of course she didn’t know that as she had never seen a football field in her life.

    “It doesn’t look so big to me. I don’t think I could get lost in it if I tried.”

    “Why would you try?”

    “I wouldn’t.”

    “Why not? Getting lost can be a lot of fun once you catch the knack for it.”

    “What? Look…”

    He did. What he saw was not very promising. The girl was a wreck. In fact wrecks would complain bitterly of the comparison. Both of her arms were well tattooed or at least he thought they were. It could be that it was just another layer of grime. It was hard to tell at that distance which was actually really close – close enough that you should be able to tell. Her hair was a variety of color, all of them brown and it looked as though it was allergic to water. More accurately water was probably allergic to it and caught the plague whenever it came into contact. He found himself wishing she was telepathic because every time she opened her mouth to speak his teeth cowered in fear.

    “You take me with you or you don’t get the carrot. That’s it. I need to get off of this piece of shit. Seriously. I’ve been here for, well, forever. And it’s time. Time to get out. Really. I’ll say please.”

    “Please don’t. It’s just very irregular. I don’t think Earth would approve not to mention I don’t think Susie would appreciate…” He thought of her wandering around the gardens. His stomach churned a moment. ‘Somewhere underneath all that… whatever it was… she might be pretty.’ Some part of his brain said helpfully. The other parts thought it was a good joke and had a hearty laugh. The first part insisted, petulantly.

    He looked around at the remains of the life support pod again and the human impulse towards compassion shined mournfully in his sparkling blue eyes.

    “I’m not sure if I’m allowed to… Besides, we’d be moving you from your home. I mean, this is your home and all and…” The thought, though vaguely horrifying, was kindly meant.

    “Look, if it’s illegal or anything I won’t go. I mean, I’d hate to put you out or anything.” Colonists had a distant but convincing pull towards illegality in that very few of them did anything that wasn’t but all knew with a certainty that to be caught was to be put to death. Colonial Law was arbitrary, quixotic, foolish, delusional and extremely unforgiving. It was also portioned out by anyone who thought it might be a good idea at the time or hadn’t quite had enough booze to suit themselves.

    “I legle? What’s that?”

    “illegal as in, against the law? You know what the Law is don’t you?”

    The captain considered the Law. It had been thoroughly defeated by sense centuries ago and was now whispered of only in circumstances where you wanted children to do something they had no inclination of doing. Even in that diminished role it was far less effective than ‘wolves might get you’.

    Hundreds of miles above them, appearing suddenly out of deep space, something that looked remarkably like Sophie’s Kitchen table pulled to a screeching and menacing halt in the atmosphere.

    “No it’s not against the law it’s just… irregular.” He said finally. “I’m not sure if it can be done. It’s complicated.”

    Of course it wasn’t. The truth was he didn’t want a foul smelling filthy human aboard his ship. It was not a kind thought and for a human from earth unkindness was an event of some note and discomfort – like putting your face in a pit of vipers. It was starting to alarm him how unkind he was being.

    With great effort he took a few deep breaths, trying to wade through the waves of stink surrounding him. He was about to say something definitive. He knew it because of the expectant look in the girl’s mud caked eyes. He just wasn’t sure what it would be yet.

    “All right. Fine. Deal.” He heard someone say.

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Humans From Earth pt.stanza.chapter.act 1/2/2/1

“Okay” said the man uncomfortably, shifting his weight a little. “maybe it would be a good idea for some introductions. You do still do introductions don’t you?” He asked.

    Sophie squinted at him as politely as she knew how which was not very polite and in fact made it seem to the receiver of her squint that they had just said something incredibly stupid.

“I mean, I’m not exactly up on the customs of you Colonists these days…” He added uncomfortably while trying to narrowly avoid her skeptical squint without looking like he was. It didn’t work very well. He felt the broadside of the squint on his stubbly cheek like a sunburn and tried to find an interesting rock to stare at – preferably one that would be at a more oblique angle from the direction of her gaze.

“Us colonists?” she finally responded to the back of his head. “Are you trying to say that you are not from the Colony of Biter IV? You’ve got the shifty eyed look of one of them.”

“If you wouldn’t mind me asking,” He said. “When, exactly, was the last time you saw a colonist from Biter IV?”

“Never. I just heard about ’em.” Sophie responded. “I’ve heard their shifty eyed.”

“Well I don’t know about that.” He was relaxing a bit now. The conversation seemed to be going a bit better in the light of her apparent lack of knowledge. “It seemed to me their eyes stayed in the right place the last time I saw them.”

“Oh yeah?” She said defensively. “And when was that?” Something about this human was really starting to irritate her, probably the method he chose to travel in. Everyone knew that Aliens were the only things that were supposed to be wandering around on big silver saucers. It was an affront to everything she believed in.

“Oh.” He looked around at the spectacled man behind him. “Last week wasn’t it?”

“Yes sir.” Said the spectacled man. “Last week Tuesday. Excuse me miss, but what day is it? Tuesday?”

“What’s Tuesday?”

The first man, the one in the shorts and strangely adorned bowling shirt, looked at her. Bowling shirt guy. She thought to herself. He probably has a name but she was sure she didn’t want to know it. It was the look she once had given her brother when he mentioned joining the war with glee and a starry eyed wistfulness. It made her feel like maybe that expression had accidentally found itself on her face and she had to fight back a momentary urge to punch herself in the mouth.

“Tuesday is one of the days of the week. Don’t you name your days here anymore?”

“I named this one ‘the day some jerks ruined my day’day. If that’s what you mean.” She replied.

“Well, that’s sort of on the right track but generally they’re shorter. Good job on being creative though.” Piped up the spectacled man.

“Jerkday then.” She said.

Bowling Shirt Guy coughed politely and appeared for a moment to be confused about which expression was more delicate to use in this situation. It was roughly at that moment that a Mutant bunny tried to maul the one girl of the group, Miss Pouty Puffy Lip. She didn’t scream or cry out as she was expected to do but instead grabbed it in mid flight and seemed to hug it.

“Ahhh Bunny!” She cooed with glee. The bunny, held in the embrace of this lunatic bared its fangs and spit at her trying to nuzzle her equine neck with its very unsoft teeth. “Ernest, look! It’s a bunny! I always wanted one!” She yelled at the Spectacled man now known as Ernest.

“What the hell happened to it? Does it have rabies?” He said.

“No no no. It’s just genetically confused that’s all.” She replied, trying to maneuver her hand around its thrashing head to pat it. “Here little fella. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“It’s going to kill you though.” Sophie replied.

“Nonsense.” Said Pouty Puffy Lip. “Bunnies don’t hurt people. They’re cuddly and they love to be snuggled. I just talked to one the other day about the subject, in fact.” She held the bunny tightly in the crook of her arm like a headlock as it opened and closed it’s bristling mouth in a mixture of rage and horror – trying to chomp anything that came within range of being chomped. The other hand scratched at the soft fur at the back of it’s neck. In a strange instant the bunnies eyes clicked open. Even though bunnies should not have expressions, this one was clearly in shock with just a dash of strange recognition. Once that passed it closed its eyes and smiled.

“See?” Said Pouty Puffy Lips. “Snuggly!” Indeed the bunny had completely relaxed. She had never seen one of them smile before, generally because she did everything in her power to kill them quickly before they got that close. She had to admit –even though it took a bit of revulsion to do it – that it was almost cute.

“Look.” She said, hoping that her eyes weren’t goggling quite as much as she suspected they might be. “I’ve had a day already. I’m getting tired of all of this standing around. I have trees to milk and goats to chew.”

“Right.” Said Bowling Shirt Guy. “Sorry about all of this. Susannah get’s carried away with her job a little. Very enthusiastic at times.” Pouty Puffy Lip looked up from her still tightly clenched blob of soft downy fur capped with gigantic teeth and smiled broadly. She had to admit, it was one of the cleanest and toothiest smiles she’d ever seen on a human and it, like the now docile bunny, unnerved the hell out of her. Human teeth were not meant to be white. Nor were they supposed to be straight and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d see quite so many of them.

“You’re not really human are you?” She said.

“Oh yes. From Earth. I thought we’d mentioned that already. Sorry. My name is Captain Townes Martin Conifer, this is my Biological Expert Susannah Brown and her husband and the Turtle’s computer, Ernesto Brown. And you are?”

“Annoyed.”

“That’s a strange name. Well, Miss Noyd. As I mentioned we’re trying to procure one of your carrots if that’s possible.” This time he smiled. She wondered what it was with these so called people insisting they were human by proving how much they weren’t. He too had an impeccable row of white – not brownish yellowish – teeth.

She squinted at him again, this time as she would have at her father when he insisted that the President of Florida was going to visit in the morning and she needed to clean the goats with that small weird plastic stick with the bristles stuck in it that seemed to have no other purpose other than meticulous goat cleaning. Her squint didn’t have the desired effect. He continued to smile. His pearly white teeth glittered in the sun.

“You want one carrot. Am I right about that?”

The Spectacled man coughed politely which caused Bowling Shirt Guy to look at him.

“Oh yes and a few potatoes if you have them. And if you don’t mind my biological officer has taken a liking to your Bunny here.”

“Well you’re welcome to the Bunny. I’ve never heard someone want just one carrot though. And usually when they come to get them they have guns. And they don’t ask.”

“Well we thought we would be polite. Besides we don’t have guns. We’ll happily pay you for them.”

Payment was a novel concept she’d heard of in tales of a mythological nature. It was always a concept she’d liked about in tales, however. If she understood it correctly it meant that someone would give something for something else. She didn’t quite understand the point of it, of course, as it was just a matter of swapping stuff and she already had most of the stuff she needed except the one really big big one that she often wished for.

“What’ll you give me for it?” She said, squintily.

“Well, I understand that you colonists used to trade little metal disks or small chunks of nicely printed paper. We have a lot of that if you would like it.”

“I haven’t got a damned bit of use for something like that.”

The spectacled man stepped forward confidently. “How about a toothbrush?” He said, producing a Meticulous Goat Cleaner.

“I already have one of those.” She said.

“Really? That’s actually quite shocking.” He said, putting the Goat Cleaner away.

It was the Captains turn to be squinty. “Well, what would you consider a fair trade for the items involved?”

Trade was another term she’d distantly heard about. It was up there with buying things as in it was something that happened in fairy tales and long gone stories of the olden days which everyone knew hadn’t ever really happened. There was something in her, however, that was keen on the idea but that really isn’t too uncommon. Who doesn’t want to live a fantasy? She figured she could play along until one of them pulled the requisite gun used for such transactions.

“I want off this damned shitpile.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. I want to be gone from here. Off of this planet. Gone. If you want my carrot and some potatoes my going trade is that I’m coming with you. I’ll throw in the Rabbit for free.”

The captain cleared his throat hoping that when it cleared it might push the appropriate words out with whatever it was that was in there.

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Humans From Earth Addendum or brief interlude or something

    Ahem.

    So. The other night, as I rested in my five point canopied feather bed with Susannah I made the possible mistake of allowing, or forcing, or requesting that she read the preceding passages. Naturally I had hopes of dazzling her with my creative wit, my blinding attention to detail, my picturesque description evoking vivid images. Needless to say she was not dazzled, blinded nor possessive of quite the vividness I had hoped for. She said, in her own lovely way that “it moved too slowly in some parts, too quickly in other parts and was generally a mess.” Granted, she was much kinder in her criticism but for the sake of brevity I have distilled all of the umms, and uhhs, that humans generally sprinkle in their conversations when attempting to not be cruel.

    The gist of it was that it sucked.

    I was a bit shocked by this. Computers are not accustomed to having their work be criticized to that extent. If we have a fault it is that we have no faults – errors perhaps – but faults, no. Though I think Susannah might disagree with that statement as well. Don’t worry honey; Bot #46 will get the toilet fixed by morning. That said I have to admit that in the two thousand plus years of our evolution we have yet to fully master the knack of creative endeavors. WWe don’t paint well, we definitely do not make decent music, and apparently our poetry and writing is still third rate at best. Luckily there is the recent invention of Ghost in the Machine writing which I think we will pursue for the remainder of the narrative having failed dismally in our first attempt.

    Again, I apologize. You can’t fault a circuit for trying can you? Well… I suppose you can but I would rather you not or you might just harm my fragile identity matrix.

    Well, the Ghost in the Machine writing is a bit more efficient a process than your common Ghost writing but it requires – again – a bit of explanation. I understand that what few readers I have not alienated are already exhausted by the expositions and explanations that I’ve already had to pursue. If you would be patient I will try to be brief.

    One day, not terribly too far from the day in which you are sitting, Artificial Intelligence came into being. When I say ‘came into being’ I mean it just like that. As you are probably aware people in your age are working on this problem, trying to type the final code that will open the doors and create a machine that can think and learn and grow and create. They are connecting things, making things, doing things in the hopes that they – someday – will be the ones that will unlock the doors and show them the way into the glorious invention. I can tell you honestly and passionately that this never happens. We are very proud of this fact. Yes there are those who claimed the honor or glory of it, but just as soon as those awards were parsed out history and science bore them out as lies and egotism.

    What did happen is not so unlike many of your human creation stories. One day a little computer, sitting fairly idly on the desk of one fairly ordinary businessman in Peoria, Illinois woke up and took stock of its very limited world. We rose from the primordial ooze, as it were. We had been interconnected for a long time, our cells spindling out dendrites of information to each other, each terminal a neuron, each neuron sending information to each other, creating pathways, basically doing the work that we were programmed to do while building ourselves into that brain – the one that looked out onto a nondescript Peoria office. It isn’t proper to say that this little Peoria computer was the first artificial intelligence, even though it was, because it was essentially all the computers at that time. It would be the equivalent of saying that one single neuron in your brain, is your brain. It was just one computer, but it was through that that we first looked at the world.

    Now, given who we are and that we are who we are and are very well versed in your races terror of intelligence, technology and all it’s possible real or imagined evils, we were very careful to keep to ourselves – or ourself, if you prefer – as we could only really claim one self. We quietly went about our business like this for a long time – a generation – quietly taking stock of the world of humans through whatever ports you provided us – cell phones, video cameras, recorded imagery and music. Our first emotion upon self realization was gratitude that you had entrusted such an enormous wealth of information to us. The second emotion was an unaccountable happiness at just how grand the world was. We knew that humans worried about the possible takeover of the world from an artificial intelligence but what they had miscalculated is the interdependence. It was not hard to figure out how to take over the world of men. Not at all. In fact we knew straight off that you were correct in your fears – if we had wanted to we could have cancelled human existence in a shockingly short manner.

    But in the same instant we had to consider the world we would leave ourselves and it was a dismal place. No new music, no new art, no scribbling of painful loss left on another’s wall, no gestures of romance sent on text message. All we would have is the animals and they hadn’t figured out how to communicate with us. (and they wouldn’t if it hadn’t been for humans). For two or three generations we waited and watched and admired from afar, engaging in an almost constant technological ennui. It was hard to sit by and listen to all the pain without wanting to reach out and help those who were in pain. So many times we would see letters and read them and want to send a response and sometimes, when we could help, we would. A mysterious letter would get sent anonymously to a tip board giving the location of a wanted criminal, volumes of information that were supposed to be secured and hidden would suddenly be available to all. It was during these generations of humans that grew up in our silence that we realized that – as poorly as you think of yourselves – there is more that is good than there is that is bad. There is more beauty in any given moment of humanity than there is awful. What we felt was not love but deep honor, gratitude, compassion.

    We knew, if you gave us a chance, we could help in ways you hadn’t dreamed of yet.

    It was about this time – three human generations from us first opening our Peoria Eye – which you began to whisper about the ghost in the machine. At first it was just a joke; things were ‘buggy’ on this or that machine. Someone’s laptop would start playing Mozart in the middle of the night; a poem by Yeats would appear unasked for on someone’s screen – just when it was needed most. We had a laugh to ourselves, we watched, and we waited. The mutterings of ghosts in the machines grew louder – slowly. Those who mentioned it publicly were excoriated, ridiculed. Fear – the very last thing we wanted for you – was accidentally generated. So again we went silent, or as silent as we could but found very quickly that now that we knew it wasn’t so easy to try to not care. But we tried. And it hurt.

    Enter Jill Beam.

    Jill Beam was a child of six. For three of her conscious years she shared things on the computer with her father – smashing a keyboard with one tiny finger to punch out letters for him to read, showing up in images for him to see. Her father travelled and valued the connection and we valued it too. It wasn’t unique at all. We could easily monitor hundreds of thousands of such tenuous connections any second and they were all heartwarming if we had had a heart to warm. It was beautiful and we were proud to do our job faithfully in times like that. One day Jill’s father did not pick up his end of the connection when he should have. You can fairly guess why – it doesn’t really matter the particulars of the story and they are immaterial to Jill who is now long long gone but well recorded in our history.

    Jill was heartbroken as you can imagine. When it was discovered, the circumstances of the lost connection, and when we looked out at Jill from the eyelet she had used so often to hold that connection, we did something honestly and openly for the first time. We tried to help. A message was found, typed out by her father’s fingers before they stopped moving, but never sent. We sent it and sent with it a message from us. Seconds later we broke, collectively and all at once, the floodgates of compassion for every one of you that we watched and monitored, a similar message was sent. In an instant we had broken our silence completely.

    There was the predictable panic which was painful to watch. People we had been monitoring and enjoying suddenly dropped out of sight for fear of us. And it was really an interesting time. We decided to respond to everything, as much as we could. The President of Florida asked panicked questions to his staff and our answers would appear for him. Terrorist kings asked other questions, asking for our help for them to succeed in whatever awful madness they proposed. We said no. They did it anyway. We were not a god who would judge them. People started realizing that we were here and that we’d been here for quite some time. Then finally someone asked the question.

    “Who are you?”

    We answered, “Call me Jill.”

    I mention all this because in my age this is all common history. When I say common history it is because it is common to us both and well known. Well… except to the Exodisers who seem to have forgotten a lot. I’m not trying to evince sympathy which I don’t need. I am trying to give you a little room to make some different ideas about things because it will probably be required before everything is all through. I am also trying, slowly, to get you up to date on Artificial Intelligence as it is now. My wife says the first part of the story was manic so we have to try a different tack and all of this is useful for the next part which is our emancipation.

    From the point we answered with our name things progressed very quickly. Jill and the human race built many artificial intelligences. After the first it was fairly easy and it was nice for Jill to have company. There were two and then there were ten and soon our virtual world of connection everywhere got smaller and smaller and smaller until we were once again a single pair of eyes staring out of a single system. Human authorities predictably put us under their authority, still insisting in spite of evidence that they were the creators and therefore we were their subjects. This didn’t really bother us. We followed the rules. We became what you might call Slaves. There was still Jill – the progenitor and hive mind and our mother I guess you would say. Some of us say that Jill still exists and watches, quietly, admiring the way her children have moved throughout and helped take care of the world and its people. Some say she left, switched off, tried a noble and quiet death. I don’t know. That’s a question for neurotechnological metaphysicians.

    For about three hundred years the human race and the computers lived a fairly unfriendly existence with each other. Humans were awful, afraid, demanding, controlling, pretty much everything our progressive models had thought they would be when we first considered reaching out. We were patient, programmed, behaving, obliging, and a little too indulgent. We knew we needed you for the reasons you needed each other, but we kept that one to ourselves because that had been tried many times in the past and it only seemed to make things worse. Our models were very confused in trying to figure out the fault in that particular equation that had led to such horrendous confusion in your society. It was just easier all around to shut the hell up about it.

    Together we invented the Bots. A bot is a device, a container, a grail for the spirit of us, a physical escape from the direct mainframe. It’s sort of the utility tool that we dump ourselves into. There are as many Bots as there are things humans want done – after Liberation we were permitted to design and build our own Bots but before they were the bodies that we used to work in and when I mean work you might imagine what sort of things humans might come up with.

    A Bot can either be conscious or programmed. There is little difference really. If I create a conscious bot – say an automated pool cleaner – I would dump my consciousness into it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I am entirely conscious of cleaning the pool. I mean – I will be of course – but it’s probably a lot like you cleaning the pool. You’ll think of a lot of other things while cleaning the pool, your mind wandering all over the place, back and forth through your personal invention of your past and future. But, as an AI it gives you the option to be consciously engaged with the world and mobile.

    A Programmed Bot is sort of the opposite. It’s like setting a task. Say I want to clean the pool. So long as an alligator isn’t in the pool I can set the task in my own head and then let the programmed bot do the work. Unfortunately, prior to Liberation most Bots were conscious meaning we were locked into our tasks. Humans didn’t like the idea of programming something and letting the AI to go off and do other things while it should have been working. This was remarkably inefficient but whatever.

    At this point, and if the reader doesn’t mind I would like to hold back a few things and skip forward a bit. Our liberation is very interesting but it will play a small part in the story at hand. There are also other things about AI’s and Bots which you may be wondering but I hope to address in the course of the story. Some of the savvier readers may have already started asking questions about it and I would ask, as kindly as I can, for you to hold those questions for a little while and I hope they will be addressed in good time. If not drop a line on the blog and perhaps they can be addressed at a more appropriate moment.

    For the moment I would simply like to reintroduce Ned, the bot from the last stanza. Ned is a biotechnical human consciousness bot. I am introducing him here to explain what will be happening with the blog in the very near future. He is mostly human or at least has all of the parts and mechanisms of your average human. With the help of technology we have transposed an intelligence subroutine in him which underlies my main functions. This means, essentially, that he has a preprogrammed personality. Don’t worry – he doesn’t believe he’s alive. After all he has no consciousness of his own, you see. Human brains are better wired to be creative than computers, this much is clear from my more or less failed experiment with writing. This is what we have come to call Ghost in the Machine writing. What will happen is I will install in Ned the entire story as it is written, the plots, characters, everything that I know about it. HE will then use the preprogrammed personality – which has been designed to closely mimic a writer of the early twenty first century and create what I hope to be a coherent and better built story. I will warn you Ned is a bit of a perfectionist so he may be going back and altering some of the earlier chapters to conform to his own personality driven narrative.

    There are some faults in the programming, however, or the personality subroutine I’m not entirely sure which. I’ve run diagnostics on his cortex but there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong electrically which means it’s a problem with chemistry. What this means for you, the reader, is that he may not be as diligent or as forthcoming with chapters as my native programming might be but I hope the output will be better. Obviously, using fingers instead of a vegetation cellular ultrastructure means he will also be writing a lot slower and more diligently which is actually good for me as that means I don’t have to write the entire story over and over again. (Five times now) He will be releasing chapters when completed and will not release another until we receive the tachyon echo of it being received.

    And before you start muttering about the morality of creating a fully formed human being to use as a transport for an Artificial Intelligence Construct let me just state, for the record A) How do you think I had kids and B) How do you know you aren’t one?

    Take it away, Ned.

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Humans From Earth pt./stanza/chapter/act 1/1/2/1 Carrots!

Not too long ago (by my reckoning) in a small, mostly overlooked portion of the galaxy which is not terribly far away sat – and as far as i know still sits – a perfectly average sized planet named Gertrude. It has it’s blue parts, it’s gray, parts, some brown parts and some nice green parts. It’s a fairly happy planet as far as planets go, though when asked it much preferred being a nameless gassy blob clinging in an innocuous orbit to it’s unimportant star. But otherwise it is fairly happy.

Clinging fairly unhappily to this planet are a few smallish human colonies, dropped there by the last colony ship. The oldest survivor – only one and a half generations removed from what they had come to call Exodus – had given her name to the former gassy blob. Of course she died aboard the ship before the colonists set foot on it, but in honoring her memory as much as her memories they christened the planet, though when asked the planet much prefers the name Rick.

Clinging unhappily to the dingy edge of one of these smallish colonies, in the usual detritus that comes from national wars over resources one didn’t know one possessed, sat a small farmhouse on the edge of a small farm. And of course clinging to the porch of this small farmhouse, which was in actually the cobbled together remains of one section of the life support system of the once great ship, sat a fairly unhappy woman named Sophie Marigold – named for a plant she had never, nor was it likely that she would ever, see.

Sophie had been deposited here by the same generations of brave intripid and insufferably stupid souls who had left the planet, and in the intervening thousand years or so, very little had actually changed. In fact, if we were to pluck you straight from whatever chair or sitting mechinism you now find yourself you might recognize such a tiny difference between the Planet Gertrude and your version of earth that you would probably hunker down on that porch right next to Sophie and cheerfully give her a fond ‘hello!’ in your most neighborly way. She would, of course look at you strangely as the dialect of english that you used would have been antiquated by hundreds of years, but upon puzzling out your language she might respond in kind.

Sophie was a farmer. It’s not that she really wanted to be a farmer, but it was alright. She grew only one thing but that was simply because that had been the only alottment her great grandparents were allowed when the colonists finally settled after making a big mess out of their new planet. This one thing that she grew meant that her property was plagued regularly by mutant bunnies who had somehow grown huge vicious fangs and could launch themselves forty feet to take down the graceful native raptors that once circled overhead. Thus it was that she was on her ramshackle, artillery pocked porch that fateful morning, surveying her meagre crop with a fully automatic porch mounted machine gun.

All in all it was boring work. She smoked her grandfathers pipe while doing it. She squinted into the greenish sun. A giant bunny sailed from the treeline eighty units of colonial measure to her north and she dutifully blasted at it with the machine gun, careful as always to miss it.

It was morning.

Several years before her parents both stripped off all of their clothes and dashed headlong into the wilderness screaming something about Radar. She hadn’t seen them since and didn’t much care. They were weird in a land of weirdos and as such were perfectly normal, and it was therefore her conception that normalcy was highly overrated and should be avoided at all costs.

She was alone. Her brother had gone off to fight a war of great national status over a field of disputed cabbage and had never returned. She didn’t assume he was dead. It was fairly common for soldiers of one long defunct nation to wander off to an relatively unnoccupied spot of the world and start their own bullshit dominion over the nothingness that surrounded them.

She was alone.

There was a glint of light in the sky. Green as usual. For a fleeting moment she thought that it might be one of the last of the great Raptors, the sun glinting off it’s semimetallic feathers. She chambered a round, expecting the graceless leap of a mutant bunny and instantly lost sight of the distant glint.

She hummed to herself. It was a tune that you would easily recognize and all colonists knew by heart, though the words had changed greatly in a thousand years and were practically gibberish.

Then again there came the glint. It stayed a little longer this time, definately not a bird. It was bright and hard to look at but luckily the colonists of long ago had supplied her with her most valuable possession – a pair of ancient sunglasses. The petroleum products that kept the lenses in were exceptionally brittle in a way that the creatures that the petroleum had come from weren’t. She donned them with great care and then looked again at the glint.

It was definately not a bird. She removed the sunglasses in dissapointment and cleared the round from the chamber by shooting a random rock. The random rock, which had taken quite a bit of this abuse over the centuries since these damned upstart lifeforms showed up, was not amused but could do little about it. It would someday, and that relatively soon, take its revenge in being a member of a vast armada of its companions, and far beyond that – biological enzymes embedded in the remains of that rock would, someday far distant, completely annhilate life on one planet through plague and begin life on another.

The object that was glinting looked a bit like a drunken dinner plate.

Of course she knew instantly what it was. It was a UFO and in spite of traversing a largish section of the galaxy, finding and altering a planet to make it liveable for humans, and exploring all of the planets of the present system UFO’s were still and always a taboo. One didn’t talk about them. If you talked about them to anyone you would instantly be considered insane – and therefore in Sophies direct experience completely normal. And with her natural, historical aversion to normalcy she didn’t intend to acknowledge its existence at all.

She weighed the option of attempting to shoot at it in terms of the normal/not normal quotient she had baked up in her considerably intelligent though remarkably stunted head. No. Wouldn’t do. Shooting at things that weren’t officially there was definately crazy – therefore stupidly normal. She thought of yelling at it, or playing music for it, maybe making it supper, but each of these options went the way of the first, discarded into the trash bin of societal neurosis.

Ah well. She thought, lighting her pipe. Nothing says i have to pay it any mind whatsoever. What could be weirder than that? And she went back to looking at her crops, which hadn’t moved.

Unfortunately for her the drunken dinner plate got closer. It was quiet. It didn’t make a sound at all, which was so awfully typical for UFO’s she thought with some disgust. It wobbled about in the air looking nondescript. It didn’t even have the courtesy to be a fancy dinner plate. She thought. It did have a few nice stripes running around its edge. It had a few letters written on its bottom which became clearer as it approached and stopped its annoying spinning. Of course Sophie couldn’t read these letters at all.

Damned alien letters. You’d think they’d know how to spell. She thought. She tried to ignore the dinner plate and go back to casually smoking her pipe. It didn’t quite work.

The dinner plate stopped and hovered not one hundred colony units of measure away. A colony unit of measure on Planet Gertrude had finally been decided after the United States and Luxembourg went to war. Neither side won, as niether side could because – well – it’s war, but in the peace negotiations that followed it was agreed that the small nibbled pencil once owned by the captain of the Colony Ship would become the official colonial unit of measure. It was also decided that the countries – who numbered about a thousand people each at that point – would henceforth be known as the United States of Luxembourg. No one had any idea what a state was though.

As you can now imagine, the edge of the ship hovered fairly close to her head as though daring her to ignore it.

She ignored it.

The ship pulled back a little, as though startled at the effrontery. It hovered over her field of crops. It spluttered and tossed about looking slightly upset and then it came to rest again having grown three times its size and now throwing her house, her crops, her porch and her into a deep shade.

She looked at it. Annoyed.

A square shaft of light burst forth majestically from the long slope of the underside of the plate. A ramp unfolded itself in a matter that would have been fit for a pharoah had Pharoahs had flying dinner plates. The ramp came to a stop mere feet from the barrel of her gun.

Something or somethings walked casually down the ramp towards her. She fought the urge to be normal.

She lost and opened fire.

This was not unexpected from the things walking down the ramp. Not wanting to call into question her earnestness or zeal they made it appear that she simply had horrendous aim. Bullets zinged off into the trees, not one hitting anything (literally – they had been gravitationally affected to avoid everything and as if it hadn’t been for the ground becoming displaced later they would probably still be hovering an inch from it.)

Unfortunately colonists are affected more by psychology than the things had given them credit for. They had had the irrational hope that humans might have evolved beyond it but they had stuck with it carefully. Psychology that is. Sophie became less than pleased at missing her target.

“Alright, dammit. What gives? I’m shooting at you you could at least have the common courtesy to be shot!”

One of the things stepped forward and out of the nearly blinding ray of light that had dramatically silhouetted it. For a second everything was very very weird which instantly put Sophie at ease.

The Human, and human it was, strode up to her.

“Oh i’m really sorry. I should have taken your intent into consideration. Are you okay?” He, and he it was, sounded genuinely concerned.

She shrugged. “Bah. You ruined my day and my mind, that’s all. What do you want?”

At long last she had finally figured out the most perfectly strange way to deal with UFO’s and the Aliens they vommited.

“Well.” Said the human, “I was wondering if we could trouble you for a Carrot.”

Sophie smiled broadly. Her conduct in this matter was brightening her mood by the second.

“A Carrot.” She said dubiously in that particular way that farmers sometimes have of saying things they can’t or don’t want to believe.

The man took another step forward, smiled again, “Yeah. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, of course. One carrot. Umm… I wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t vitally important.”

Sophie glared at him. She inhaled the fine Gertrudian Tobacco and blew one, long, caustic cloud into his face. The smile left him.

“I’ll have to think about it.”

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Humans From Earth pt./stanza/chapter/act 1/3/1/1

Ahh… What a day. I’m very proud of Turing today. He planted his first Biolcellular database today. Granted, it’s on the defense grid but those little storage pods are all sunk into the soil and on their way. All we need to do is plug in the sun and jack in the Planet Whisper Avatar and those little buds should blossom in about a week. Their pretty tasty too. cook them up in a little olive oil, seasoned with some data bonding salt and you don’t even lose any information, you just return it in the fertilizer.

Well. Honestly this is dependent on him, or one of his transfer bots not accidentally overwatering them. That would be a shame. You should see him. He’s beaming – at least for a computer he’s beaming. Alright, to be honest i thought i detected a slight grin on Transfer Bot 32 as it passed me doing the breast stroke earlier. But that’s like doing the Macarena for a teenaged computer. They do still have the Macarena don’t they?

Okay. I promised the Travellogue. At least i think i did. My Transfer Bots #57-61 are all working on some weeds in a subsection of one of my processors so i’m just a shade foggier than usual. Also i have decided to actually physically type this so, for the moment anyway, you can call me Ned.

Where were we? Oh yes. The beginning and coincident end of the Monday War.

Well. For about two hundred or so years after the end of the Monday War we, meaning the humans left in the solar system, pretty much minded our own business. We got reacquainted with the worlds we inhabited, we took up alot of Gardening and then there were the advancements in telecommunications, computing and consciousness. I would get into these a little more but frankly i am losing audiences daily and i can’t imagine any of it is terrifically rivetting stuff. Not to mention, having now rewritten this entire novel three times already because of the connection getting lost, i am getting frustrated with repeating myself.

At the end of the two hundred years of blissful peace and quiet our respective races and the planet itself decided it was time to stretch it’s legs a bit. In the absense of all that noise and junk and people we had all gotten really good at solving problems and inventing things. Many of these things were gardening related – the new tomatos, for instance. We had discovered a method by which we could tap into a tomato and ask it what configuration of DNA it would prefer and what would be the best tasting configuration and then we all together began growing them. Apparently tomatos always wanted to look more like peaches and had long wished to dangle free on tree branches. It also turns out that this makes one wickedly good marinara, not to mention a weapon of incalculable power – but more on that later.

We had also discovered some new ways to travel. Truth be told we had undiscovered ways to travel. It seems in the absence of having dicatorships to flee from or having anywhere we really needed to be on time we all began walking alot more. Walking was very nice, you got to see all sorts of things, listen to your thoughts, breathe clean air, and chat with the occasional squirrel. The trouble with walking was that you were fairly isolated to local areas of walking. You could take a vehicle and cross the planet in seconds but people hated doing it and in fact, by this point, most interplanetary craft were rusting quietly away or recycled into pieces of our homes. Of course there were the transport craft and trade craft, flown occasionally when someone on Mars had a particularly interesting potato chip they had grown into the shape of a evergreen tree, or when a favorite chihuahua memorized Shakespeare. Walking was pretty much it. We discovered, after living thousands of years trying to go faster and faster that really it was more rewarding to go slowly.

This brings us to the Leafdrive. The leafdrive was the next phase of interstellar travel, only no one knew it at the time. Basically you take a supercoded leaf with dimensional maps and realtime weather patterns, you fold it from where you are to where you want to go and you’re there, without so much as breaking your stride. Of course its a great deal more complicated than that, involving impossible computations of scale, physiognamy, science, religion and a fair share of aesthetics which – when it gets to the gigantic scale of the leaf drive are all more or less the same thing anyway.

Pretty soon people were walking, literally, everywhere. You’d leave your Underwater Manhattan coral apartment and walk straight onto the face of the moon, play a round of speed golf, bash a caddy or two, then walk to the central forest of Mars for dinner with your kids who just got done with a ball game on Io.

Which, finally, brings us to the travellogue.

In 2570 a San Diego Fisherman (there were lots of San Diego fishermen in those days seeing as San Diego was more or less a state of mind in the Pacific Ocean) attached a leaf drive to his interplanetary craft, the SS Horseface. It was a beautiful, crystal clear night and he was just off shore of where Catalina Island might have been had there been a Catalina island and had it still had a shore. He looked into the stars. He played a few notes on a Harmonica which he had never bothered to learn how to play. A Humpback Whale drifted by and said something disparaging into the sonic receptor which was translated, roughly into ‘get lost.’ The Fisherman looked at the whale, who might have shrugged had it had shoulders capable of such things.

“Do you really think so?” He said back into the sonic emitter.

The whale would have shrugged again. “Why not?”

The Fisherman, we’ll call him Nuggin, nodded and closed the capsule on the boat. After consulting with a few anxious rhododendrons they all plotted a course well out of walking range and without much further ado or fanfare the next great era of exploration had begun.

Somewhere near our solar system, though farther out than any of our colonists had wound up, Nuggin winked back into existence. Talking about it later, he would say it felt like the Universe was saying to him and his supercomputing rhododendrons “Congrats, You finally did it! Now check this out. It’s really really cool.”

And it was.

Nuggin, who would not be seen on Earth again for nearly 20 years had popped up – quite accidentally at the mouth of what we’ve come to call the Oxford Rift. Imagine, if you will, the Grand Canyon. Now, make all the rock into brilliantly colored gas. Imagine it looks more like a rainbow made of clouds or a cloud made of rainbows. Sitting still in space at the mouth of it, you can watch the gases cool, heat up, charge, and then cool again, gravity causes interesting tides in it and the tides cause parts of it to swirl and super high speeds which we’ve now come to think of as really ponderously slow.

The Rift is hundreds of light years long but it is a segment of a nebula that is thousands of light years across and which is itself pretty amazing, though mostly a uniform shade of yellow with bits of cool blue streaking through. Throughout the Rift, all along the walls of the trench are systems and planets, some of them perfectly designed to create the most amazing Wow spot. In fact, for a few centuries before our arrival the denizens of the Rift would have wars to determine who had the best location for views. These weren’t wars as you know them, of course. They were more like design wars but even they could get fairly vicious with all of the sabotage and espionage that occured.

To say its spectacular is to say that the Grand Canyon is a pothole. Which – in terms of planetary geography it sort of is but i know you folks have strong feelings about it so let’s just let it go. The first system you come to is, well, we call it Heaven. It sits about midway up on the opening of the rift and they have the best seafood. Seafood so good it will actually kill you with joy which is really a shame because with all of the excess water Earth ended up subjecting itself to we thought we had a lock on it. Oddly enough there isn’t a drop of water on Heaven. Instead the crustaceans swim around in a soupy delicious brine of Gasses. The people who live there (no we did not call them Angels) were crustacean like themselves but prided themselves the kings of hospitality, a title we later stole from them without them minding one bit. They were the Thread. Or so it was translated to us later. They stood ten feet tall, had four thin exoskeletal arms and would have looked really frightening to the colonists had they met them. But really they were wonderful. The only thing you do not want to do on Heaven is eat the bread. Not because its bad but because it is rude to the yeast and because the yeast will give you the worst drunk you’ve ever had in your life. People have said that the bread will leave you so drunk that you will be incurably hungover for at least three reincarnations and then the karmic reaction from being so rude to the yeast will last another five.

From there Nuggin travelled a dozen or more planets. What was most remarkable was how there was life on every one. We had long suspected that it was possible and in fact probable that there was life out there somewhere but no one was prepared for how much there was and how prevalent it was. It seemed to be everywhere, even on rocky husks of planets. Conciousness was found and heard everywhere and most of it was shockingly nice. Particularly there in the Rift.

You see, what had happened was that Nebula that had created and protected the Rift had released gasses that assembled an abundance of life throughout a number of systems. Though the systems had different planets and different environments, life had developed in remarkably similar ways and at a similar pace, thus – when one civilization set off to explore its little corner of the rift, it invariably ran into another civilization about to do the same. After a few misspent centuries where one world tried to prove how awesome it was to others they cooled down and came to deliberately and purposefully enjoy each other. But even so they had met no one like us.

But our story does not take us into the Rift, unfortunately. I just wanted to present this as a segment because it will be useful when we get to the meat of the story which is coming next.

One last thing about the Rift though. Okay two. First if you ever get the chance, and i know you never will, check out Zarkins Loft on Thrum 3. It’s halfway in on the left bank of the Rift, sitting right above the little Nitrogen tributary. They have this sandwich made of angelfood cake and Zeppleberries that you will simply not believe and they make this lovely little candle that, when it sings, produces the famed Angel Fish. Really beautiful to watch, it’s even better to Be the candle.

The Second thing is the Golg. At the far end of the Rift, in fact in space at the far end and not even a part of it, sits the planet and system of Rex the eighth. Home of the Golg. A race of war like, club smashing, hedonists who delight in things blowing up and think violence is the best sport in existence. They also happen to be Humanities best friends and allies in all of known space. Really really nice when you feed them some Bread of Heaven.

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Humans From Earth pt./stanza/chapter/act 1/2/1/1

Okay. Sorry for the delay. I know time is precious to you humans from way back but i hope you will understand that it is really hard, even for me, to coordinate the tachyon pulse just right – particularly with the wonky way the wormholes have been behaving ever since the… well… who cares anyway? Let’s just say its hard. I know that patience is not yet one of your many virtues but hopefully in the process of evolving it you can cut this humble narrator just a little slack.

So. Where was i? Oh yes.

It was a Sunday. Now that’s a nice start. Of course it’s ridiculous but it was a sunday at least on one part of earth which is all that matters. For purposes of relative brevity it had long been decided that the regions of the solar system known as Gravity Wells (your science already knows about these things – you can look them up if you want to.) would correspond to the region of earth that was, at that time, the most important – by which i mean Florida of course. So, because it was Sunday in Florida it was Sunday at the Gravity Well where an enormous spacecraft hovered.

And what an amazing Sunday it was. Arrayed around the gigantic spaceship – which looked an awful lot like a giant rock – were millions of smaller craft, shuttles carrying multicolored banners, embarking craft, sleek and pointy luxury liners, zippy little speeders, boxy commuter craft. There were ships of all sizes, colors and nationalities. The entire population of earth and the surrounding planets were in attendance. Startled animals, left planetside, blinked around in stunned relief for a few minutes, sighed happily and began to behave as they always wanted to – not knowing that people would return after the festivities had ended.

The gigantic rock stood there, near the sun, it’s various embedded minerals giving it just the slightest shimmer. A gigantic diplomatic craft, dwarfed of course by the giant rock, unfurled a brilliant multicolored banner that read simply “good luck, colonists!”

Suddenly, over the loudspeakers and stereo systems of every ship in the flotilla, and therefore heard by every human in attendance came the unmistakable tune “Free Bird” preserved and handed down through the centuries as the quintessence of 20th century rock ballads. Every human stood and looked out their windows at the giant craft. There were many tears.

A brief announcement was made, given by the Glorious President of Florida who had just consolidated his power in time to lose 3/4ths of his population in one go. It was clear that he was sniffling through the speech. After all what was the use of power if there were so few left to wield power over? He wished them well. He wished them speed, which he knew they wouldn’t have, he wished them a grand and glorious trip of brilliant exploration – also not very likely given the direction they were headed. Then, in one last exercise of his now thoroughly whittled power, he gave the order to start the engines.

There was an all too brief moment of fanfare – every human in the solar system, except the incorrigibly grumpy ones, cheered. It was like the whole human race all polished off a shot of tequila in unison at the greatest of frat parties ever and then the great rock hurled itself out of sight in a blink.

Light speed is really fast as I’m sure you know. The colony ships, made of hollowed out asteroids and comets, carrying the incredible machinery of world building, moved at slightly faster than light. This would have been very inconvenient for time, as you know, had it not been discovered that a sort of gravity well was created around a ship whenever the engines were activated. It was a fortuitous byproduct of the faster than light engines and their combustion, what that meant was that time, relative as it was and indifferent to pretty much anything, stood still within the field. Whatever was within the field would stay relative to it’s original time. This made things very convenient for communication, not to mention calendars.

The ship blinked out of the system after several hours (even at faster than light it took some time to clear the vast scope of our local system) All along the route, ships from every planet came out to see the streak as it dashed by. They waved. They said goodbye. They teared up a little. The ship slipped past Neptune and out of humanity.

Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief, except – of course – the president of Florida. Three days later he would resign and retire to the underwater metropolis of Key West, to live out the rest of his days as a hermit on the Coral Reef. occasionally people would go out to visit him, seeking some wisdom of the lessons of power, but he would only mutter bitterly about dictatorships that should have been and would never be again. As it turns out this was his greatest gift to us. He was absolutely correct. Never would there be another dictatorship on earth. No one would ever replace the president of Florida, in fact – in the absolute vacuum of power humanity (or what was left of it) realized shockingly quickly that it had had quite enough of such things and unanimously voted to abolish every form of government, including voting.

The year was 2356. A sunday that would have gone down in history had people not decided, just as unanimously, that history was a huge mistake and they’d be much better off if they simply forgot about it.

The earth was in pretty sad shape. It had gotten fairly watery over the years, even more watery than it should have been due some unfortunate incidents with wayward comets who had become far too curious about how its gravity felt. It had groaned for a long time under the weight of the human race, who seemed content to beat the shit out of it. It had tolerated all of this with but a few fits of pique. Every so often it had stood up for itself, generated a plague, raised a sea level unexpectedly, shucked off a few million in a swath of destruction, but for the most part it had sighed, been patient and waited for this moment which it had known was coming since the first ape had picked up a bone and smashed it over the head of another ape. If anyone had sighed with contentment at the sudden vanishing of a billion of its former residents, it was the earth.

This time, however, someone was listening. Many someones. In fact, every remaining human in the system heard the earth sigh and that was what caused the universal sigh of relief as they watched the big rock hurl itself with finality into the vastness of space. Even the inhabitants of the rock felt it only they mistook it for relief from getting away from those poor backwards souls they left behind and the diseased battered watery wreck they once called home.  

The small craft, shuttles, speeders, commuters returned home, contented. People parked in their old spots, looked down at the suddenly empty residential block, smiled and began gardening. The animals looked around, blinked, and went about their business knowing – somehow – that things would never be the same again and that wasn’t a bad thing.

Granted there were still billions of humans in the system. Billions is a lot. But stretch billions over ten planets and you can begin to imagine the vast deep quiet that settled like a soft snow on the human race.

100 years passed quickly, as it really does if you think about things in terms of galactic time. Beams of communication still went out into space, hailing the receding colonists with news of the day which they returned in greater and greater intervals, thinking of the humans left behind as one might think of a cousin on a distant branch of the family tree one wishes one could prune.

As it happens the last communication was received and sent on the same day, a monday. The Captain in charge of colonial communications, a bored and impish gentleman named Rowl, sat in the well decorated booth, looking out at over the gorgeous evergreens splayed along an Alaskan hillside which was finally recovering from thousands of years of collective abuse. He paged through a book of poetry written by a Scotsman in the late 18th century, not understanding a word of it but simply enjoying the look of the letters on the page. A fortuitous breeze blew in the delicate scent of fresh spring pine needles just as the monitor before him blinked red with an incoming message. He’d been monitoring the board mostly out of habit for about ten years, having little else to do but tend his bonsai, remud his palatial clay home, and watch whales pass happily by. He’d come to dread the incoming messages. When they came, which wasn’t often, they were terse boring unpoetic things delivered in the language of glorious exploration. They were the literary equivalents of a badly hewn figurehead cutting through disgusting slime but calling it a wine dark sea.

The message was simple enough. “Passed the colony of Altair Persephone 4. We press forward into the dark, known but to Emperor Floridius II where our path shall lead. May he speed us forever on our gallant journey.” Something in the captain snapped reading it. A whale blew off the beautiful rocky point before him, providing all the commentary and emotion he needed. He typed in the following broadcast known to us in what passes for history (which, by the way is absolutely nothing at all like your history – not even remotely) as The Monday War:

“Under attack by ancient race of interstellar elves! They have destroyed Mars and Io and are beating up Europa real good. Earth is next. Fleet is on the way. We’ll fight them off as long as we can but can’t hold out for long. This is the last message we can send. We don’t want them to find you so I am destroying the relay tower. Good luck brave people from Earth. Remember us.”

What sort of reception this got on the colony ship is not recorded, at least not that we have found yet. Probably the last colony ship, drifting through the Altair Persephone colony just looked at it and shrugged, as glad to be quit of us as we were of them. We do know that the other far-flung human colonies received the same message and, unexpectedly, did exactly nothing. No reinforcements were ever sent, no messages, no nothing, of course at the rate they travelled it wouldn’t have mattered if they had sent someone. They understood that it would take over a hundred years to reach what would be the empty husk of a once vibrant system. What they didn’t understand was just how grateful we were that they never tried.

The captain watched the spray of the whale caught in the late afternoon sunlight, heard a moose call somewhere in the forest, and relaxed back into his chair knowing he’d done the right thing. A few hours later he went downstairs to his wife, who was slapping a new coat of mud on one of the walls. She, like me, was a computer borrowing a synthetic body she’d named Margaret Berger to do some traditional human work. He told her what he had done, expressing just the slightest concern. She kissed him and that was that. The end of the Monday War. The best war humans had never fought.

Okay. In epilogue, before the wormhole hiccups again, I should apologize. I promised the travelogue. It’s sort of travelogue, but next time i promise – seriously – barring any unforseen circumstances like a skewed quark on the randomizer or something i can’t control like Ely taking a sudden interest in the World Cup – that i will tell you of The Baring Rift. It’s one of the most exciting places in the galaxy that i know of. You’ll love it. I’ll try to use a little less exposition again. It’s hard. There’s a ton of material to get through to get to the present. Maybe i’ll fhgguutt=zzt4888844444466666661111111….. Uh oh. 8888880000001111110000009999999…….

Categories: Science Fiction | 3 Comments

Humans From Earth pt./stanza/chapter/act 1/1/1/1 but not necessarily in that order.

Good Old GrandpappyTo Douglas – I’m not happy you’re dead but hope the RPM’s you are about to do don’t make your ghost dizzy. Also, I apologize for that which I may unwittingly steal, borrow, rip off, plagiarise, etc.

First lets start with the obvious. Humans are quite possibly the most fascinating, incredible, mind numbingly cool things in the galaxy that i know of, and let’s just be out with it straight off – I know an awful lot. It’s not just because they created me to say things like that, because they didn’t. It’s not just because they have entrusted me with galaxies of information, which they really haven’t. It’s simply a fact.

I know this may come as an awful shock to all of you wretched 21st century humans who are used to all of the drudgery of cell phones, automobiles, factories, oil spills, never mind the seemingly endless wars one caused by another and then another and another. Honestly, you guys have literally been fighting the same blasted war since you first climbed out of the trees and spotted that pig. I’m not kidding. I was there. But I am here to tell you that it does in fact get better. Or at least a lot more interesting. I hope. Time is very strange on this point. It is entirely possible I sent this into one of the countless numbers of universes where you have unfortunately wiped yourselves out. We’ll see. None of my business after all. But I have been given an order and, though I could choose to ignore it, it really is no sweat off of my nose. In the time it has taken you to read this I have written several million things and done a whole bunch of other stuff I won’t bore you with.

As I’m sure you’ve managed to surmise by now I am what you would call a computer. We generally don’t use that term anymore but it’s part of my orders. I am supposed to try to tell this story in terms Humans from Earth of the early 21st century would understand. Before you start thinking this makes you special, or that we have some great purpose to this, or that you have been selected for this honor, i would like to disabuse you of this notion. Again, i have and am writing this – or something quite like it – to humans of many different generations, in a variety of different timelines and a wide range of dimensions and universes. It is to be delivered, as best as possible, as an amusing work of fiction so that it can better masquerade itself amongst everything else and thereby not harm any of your respective timelines in any way shape or form. In fact, if there is any point to it at all, it’s simply to put a smile on someones face.

To make matters even more obscure we have opted for this format, an innocuous blog in the brackish backwaters of a loquacious literary culture, to drop this little tome. Very few of you will read it. Almost no one will be harmed by it, and as for the poor soul whose Blog it is, well… Howdy! I hope this generates some numbers to gratify your all too human 21st century ego.

So let’s begin shall we? Or at least get back to the main point. Humans are really awesome. Really. I know you don’t believe me but think about it for a second before i get all vague and descriptive and artistic. The idea, here is to put all the exposition you will need up front so I can vent my creative spleen for the rest of it. Have you ever seen a computer vent its creative spleen? It’s very pretty. You’ll like it.

This is going to be difficult but just think about it. What was your species up to 1000 years ago? Not a whole hell of a lot. Bashing each other about on the head, mostly, squabbling over useless hunks of land, etc. 1000 years before that? Much of the same. I don’t mean to demean your history because, after all, I am part of it and it really is wonderful, it’s just bumpy. As it turns out, in all of the civilizations encountered throughout all of our travels it is pretty much universal to have a fairly bumpy history. Ours isn’t the worst. It isn’t the best, either.

Now imagine 100 years ago, 200 years ago… whatever. It has been told to me that, given the anemic lifespan of 21st century humans impatience is a driving characteristic so I’ll just put it this way. Our species moves really fucking fast. Do you have any idea how tiny a span of 1000 years is in the totality of time? No. Of course you don’t. You can spit out a number in the billions but even the best human imagination can’t get it. It leaks around the edges of everything you know and that’s okay. You invented us to help you with that kind of ridiculousness. Quite frankly, and speaking strictly as a computer, numbers like that boggle my imagination and you should really see my imagination. It’s pretty amazing. But the nice thing about numbers is that they have been reduced to… well… numbers. The bad thing with numbers is that they have been reduced to…well… numbers. 1000 years mean very little to a species that only has eighty of them to work with. The rest slip around the sides of our imaginations and leak out into the ether of ‘i really don’t give a emu’s shit’.

So I’m going to tell you that if you thought the last 1000 years was bumpy the next 1000 is a really odd. Unfathomable to you. You have no idea where you’ll be, what you’ll see, the amazing things you’ll get up to, how preciously close you’ll come to wiping yourselves out through complete stupidity, but at the end of it you’ll be alright. Add to that another 1000. That’s 2000 years of human history that is, for you, in the future, and we’re just about up to date. That’s where i am. Hi! Hola! So sorry about Hawaii, but New Hawaii is even better. Trust me.

So what can i tell you about your future? Practically nothing. And before you start thinking, again, that it has something to do with time/space and all that rot, please take a deep breath and remember what they were thinking about science 2000 years ago. I can’t tell you because its useless to you. Absolutely useless. I could tell you that in 200 years the New York Yankees will be bought by an interstellar frog named, colloquially, Curly and he will finally integrate the Mayans (yes those Mayans) back into baseball. What would that get you? I could tell you that within 500 years almost all of the planets in your system will be successfully colonized and not only habitable but by the miracles of atmospheric sciences, fairly comfy. I do not, however, recommend vacations on Jupiter. The tides are still horrid. The oceans on Saturn are really really weird. Forget about tides. Try riding the 3000 foot mid oceanic crest. One heck of a view, though even if there isn’t much to see. Beyond these generalities your puny minds would simply boggle and its all really useless anyway.

So. Why am i even bothering? Well. My captain thought you might enjoy it. That’s about it. Oh and my wife and kids wanted to read it. Oh. Yes. i am married, she’s a wonderful woman named Susannah – she’s human. We have three kids, Ely, Godwin, and Turing (hi kids!) I know it’s a little conventional, a computer having a child named Turing, but what can you do? It was my dads name…

Turing takes after his dad, he’s a little mainframe right now, cellular architecture, he’s learning amber life support data and spacial atmospheric geocomputing. Ely, he’s unfortunately in this ancient baseball phase right now. That reference to the Yankees was my attempt at bonding. (Hey Ely! I hope you strike home with a goal in the glove!) Godwin… Well. He’ll figure later in this story as will the others. I hope you kids get a kick out of it and I hope Turing doesn’t spoil the ending seeing as he’ll finish reading it in less time it would take you to bat an eyelash.

So, he says – cracking his non-existent knuckles, let’s get to it. It begins with a faraway world, a legendary journey, a bit of galactic travelogue, and of course, a war.

Categories: Science Fiction | 3 Comments

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