[a short story by Sha’Tara]
(Inspired, in part, by Isaac Asimov’s “Prelude to Foundation)
Ansar and Elita were what you would call lovers. Ansar was a member of the galactic arch-council located at that time on the pivotal world they called Juno. Elita was mathematician and social historian at the famed university of Urtank, in the central high mountains of Sector T-41 of planet Quatl-Iln. The following is a time-captured record of a brief exchange that took place in those long ago days after Elita worked out a program from a theory that stated that “time” was primarily a recording device in which could be read both past and future events. The sharper the “reader” the more accurate would the reading of the sought events be. It is all old hat now, as they say, but in the years prior to mankind’s initial scattering from his original galaxy (circa year 22,000 old reckoning) this was considered very naïve and pseudo-scientific. But let’s hear what they were saying…
“We have a past, you know, Ansar. A real past, which to this day society insists on dubbing a myth. I’ll be brief. We originated on one world only and you’ve heard that “myth” before, I’m sure. You don’t buy it, but I do. And then I don’t.”
“Make some sense, Elita. Don’t speak to me in your usual riddles. Either you do, or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.”
“No riddle. Just simple fact which I can have “both ways” as you so eloquently put. Our world of origin in the preserved language was called earth. There mankind evolved, so it was thought, and taught, and from there he spread his wings and flew away to discover the galaxy. And now, we are once more precariously balanced upon the horns of an old dilemma. For centuries our real growth has been in decline. At the same time, mankind is again looking beyond his doorstep, this time looking to jump to other galaxies and perhaps begin again. And I can generally predict what is going to happen. We are going to make the jump. We will “begin” again and what we leave behind will continue to decline, to shrivel upon itself and die. As did earth.”
“How do you know this?”
“Mathematical projection says so. Observation says so. Simple statistical projection says so. Increasingly indolent ways of a pampered population says so. Breakthroughs in non-ship-non-moving travel says so. Shortages in resources marginalizing and starving millions of poorer planets says so. The leadership vacuum says so. Before rebellions and total war engulf the galaxy, you will have a scattering. These scatterings are the seedings, and every time a group of humans seeds itself upon a new world as yet untouched by previous human presence and exploitation, that group is irreversibly changed. Those who survive become, to the eyes of those left behind (if they are able to see) either monsters, mutants, or super-human depending on the point of view. And, what was left behind fears these who have escaped. Their authorities pursue them, hoping to control them and to feed from them. Failing that, trying to destroy them.”
“But what does any of that say to your belief that some mythical world called earth was man’s original world?”
“Don’t you see? Earth man was a seedling. It was planted on that ancient now long-gone world and it flourished there. But it did not actually originate there. It did not, as was then claimed, physically evolve from the muck and mire of the planet, anymore than we evolved from the rocky strata of this stony world. The early people of earth were ruled and enslaved by their forebears but in their fevered discovery of new-found abilities, they shook off the yoke of their masters, of the sowers, and unmindful of the consequences, literally exiled themselves upon their world with no means of leaving, or of contacting any other possible sown worlds. So engrossed did they become with self-discovery and exploitation of their world that they soon forgot how they got there. New leadership, fearful of having to share power with galactic powers, ordered the re-writing of history and established religions that relegated the real-life human sowers to ineffable divinities to be idolized in worship.
It would be thousands of years before the ever-present urge to resume the sowing cycle would obsess these Earthians and they would abandon their internecine warfare to concentrate on going to the stars. Predictably they did so, for we are here. And predictably, they carried with them the belief that they originated on earth, thus making that world the ruling world of the galaxy. Sadly, that is why it was slagged by the “new” children who did not tolerate that a backward little planet so far from galactic centre would rule over the whole. Much was lost in the destruction of earth but the greatest loss was in records of what happened so long ago, before Earthians were solidly established on their new world. Records of previous generations, previous intelligences, previous star-farers who gave birth to Earthians and thence, to us. We must re-discover those records.”
“You make a persuasive argument but I remain unconvinced. You have no real proof that what you have conjured could ever have some basis in fact.”
“Proof. People put so much faith in that word. But perhaps there is proof. If I could actually and correctly predict a specific future event using certain formulas I’ve developed, would you consider that proof that we can draw out reality from the chaos of the unknown?”
“If, indeed! Yes, if you could predict exactly a certain future event, I’d see that as proof. But what about the past?”
“But don’t you see it? There is no difference. If we can accurately predict the future, we can just as accurately “predict” what happened in the unknown past. Let’s say that your family drove to a certain town while you were in your mother’s womb. Once in that new town, you were born there. The family possessed a past that was not yours. However, when old enough to drive, you could choose to drive forward from that town, or to, in a sense, retrace your family’s steps by driving back down the road into the past. Some things would be different, but you could verify that the world they spoke of did in fact exist.
I believe that my computer program and my calculations can do this for mankind and perhaps much more. Certainly we will be able to “verify” not only where we are going, but where we come from. There are those who are so intent on destroying all vestiges of the old myths. They want to destroy the old religions that have clung to mankind from the earth days to now. The way to demystify the past is not by pretending or claiming it did not happen, but by proving it did happen, and demonstrating how it did so. The ancient “gods” then become simple humans with what would be to us very primitive technology and were neither eternal nor all-powerful non-material beings as fabricated religions have falsely claimed for so long until now.”
“Interesting. With our funding, you claim you can develop this new science that will show not only how our future will develop but prove that the mythical past did in fact happen? Will there be more to your argument when you present it to the Council for, what must certainly become, substantial additional funding?”
“Do I need more? Are you not curious? Would you not risk a few billion credits to find out where you came from and where you are going in, say, a thousand years from now? If we, as humans, must continue to bootstrap our ways across parsecs and eons of space-time, can’t we at least secure stronger and longer straps for ourselves? Must our existence continue to be an endless, chaotic gamble against the forces of time and the universe? Must we forever be running from our enemies, be they competing intelligences or depleted environments, and towards unknown conditions that may test us beyond our abilities to resist and overcome? I think that what we term “expanded awareness” has to include an ability to remember the distant past and to appropriate to certainty a much longer portion of the future. We cannot continue to launch ourselves as dandelion seeds in the winds for the day will come when we will literally fall in among an inimical race that will destroy us, probably out of fear of our predatory ways coupled with our unnaturally prolific birthrate. We are predators, Ansar, and represent a very real threat to any other intelligent species already established around us. It would be extremely naïve to think we have not been noticed. If we know the future, we can avoid such an encounter and prevent catastrophe to ourselves.”
“My curiosity is certainly not as expanded as yours, love. But I’ll support you on Council even though I don’t share your enthusiasm for socio-history. I would be satisfied if you could predict the next day of windless sunshine so we could go mountain climbing. What do you say to that?”
“Just the two of us?”
“Just the two of us.”
“Would you accept an educated guess?”
“I will, but I have one condition.”
“Will you accept my ring? It will be a year tomorrow since the last time you said ‘no’ to me.”
“I accept your ring, Ansar. Without conditions. As to the weather, my guess is the wind will have to be reckoned with but safe enough for experts like us.”
It was ten years later that Elita’s group in Urtank saw the first fruits of her efforts. It was another twenty-three years before the theory was fully tested when a no-ship “fleet” consisting of seventeen billion people jumping off from Juno would have encountered an enemy force that would have destroyed them had they not “seen” this prior to departure and changed course accordingly. Two hundred years after that, as this inimical intelligence began to seriously encroach upon new human settlements, it was caught in a 5-pronged attack by humans and was annihilated. These perfectly timed attacks were devised using the Elita Theorem of time recordings.
To add a little explanation to this theory, let me just say that it resembles the reading of those old movie strips. Once a “time line” is focused upon, the computer can “play” the “image frames” either forward or backward. An identical “time line” can be read from any number of different places, even distant galaxies, without distortion. Hence the possibility of simultaneous action at vast distances.
And so we are in the process of conquering the universe. What will we do, should we discover that our universal space-time model does not apply beyond our universal borders? Who will break through the next mystery should the Elita theorem fail at that point? Are we still curious enough to dare go and find out? Do we even have a choice?