Future History and the Current Transmissions
Shortly after the events described in my last transmission I was led off by some Yther officials to a private suite – I can hardly call it a cell – and have been here ever since. I am, if you like, in solitary confinement but I am perfectly comfortable and supplied with anything one could reasonably desire. I am not, I think , suspected of direct involvement in the Yther plot – if that is what one calls it – although I cannot be absolutely sure of this.
For the moment everyone leaves me alone and I shall not be interrogated until the Special Commission arrives though I was asked if I wanted to make a statement straightaway – I declined to do so. As far as I can make out, Cykarthyia and the senior officials here have been put under ‘direct restraint’ and the most junior members who are unlikely to have been implicated in any decision-making (such as Dorlonia, the objectionable Guardian of the Gate) have suddenly been placed in positions of power. Exactly who has given these wide-ranging orders I do not know. The version of the events that the world has received via memorials is that a prominent member of the Yther movement divulged to the Interdominants details of an Yther plan to immobilise all DETP centrals and to oust the Magnatte Dominants from their current position.
But, of course, you in the early twenty-first century know nothing of the ‘Dominants’ nor of the various calamities that we see as gigantic shadows cast over your fragile epoch. I am communicating with you from some two hundred and sixty years ahead in time. I know that this sounds completely ridiculous but so it is, I assure you. Certainly I consider myself quite as real as you, indeed rather more so. I cannot explain what is happening but I shall shortly explain how this time-hopping came about – it came about more or less by accident. But first I should perhaps briefly recount what has happened – or will happen depending on one’s point of view – during the interval between your epoch and mine. There have been enormous changes in Sarwhirlia – our name for ‘the Earth’ – since your time and that is putting it mildly. Vast areas that were teeming with animal, bird and human life are now desert wastes; your great cities have long since been abandoned and no humans visit them now except daredevil adventurers wearing oxygen suits and protective clothing in order to scavenge or just for the fun of it (for official purposes we send AEEs).
How and why did all these changes come about? Principally because of the sudden thinning of the atmosphere and the spread of the Amoeba Plague some two and a half centuries ago. Indeed, I am sorry to say that you are about to enter the catastrophic era which we know as the Abyss and which functions as a sort of No-Man’s-Land separating us, the survivors, from you, the doomed inhabitants of a sort of Tytanic that comprises most of what you see and know. But for the intervention of the first Parthenogens, the Sarlang, it is generally agreed that your species and mine would by now be extinct.
However, it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and the calamities yet to come did end up by resolving some of the problems besetting your society, if I may be allowed to mix my time-terms in this fashion. Unlike you, we do not have a (human) population problem because the Amoeba Plague in one fell swoop reduced the world population to a minute fraction of what it had previously been. And despite the fact that population has been increasing since the beginning of the Age of the Parthenogens, today the total count of human biologicals is, I believe, still well short of fifty million, of whom some ten million live in the voluntarily backward region, Majentia, with whose citizens we ultra-civilised individuals have very little contact. There are also some two hundred thousand (largely mefam) humans who live permanently on the artificial orb, Mortalysium, from which locality I am transmitting at this very moment, or on its twin, the natal orb Naroube. These two localities are artificial worlds constructed during the Typhen era and are situated in what you call the asteroid belt.
Moreover, the population distribution remains extremely uneven since for a long time now mefam – as you have doubtless gathered the term ‘m*l*’ is no longer used — have been numerically in regression and at present comprise only about fifteen per cent of the human biological population, if that. (Originally, this imbalance came about because Coertius Rheomanensis, the bacillus responsible for the Amoeba Plague, attacked mefam much more readily than fam.) The fam population is itself divided into so-called Subdominants, who are if you like the ‘ordinary’ people, and the Interdominants, a sort of higher professional caste recruited by examination from subdominants. The latter, however, are very small numerically. Also, according to official estimates AEEs already comprise thirty per cent of the ‘intelligent’ population and most people think this is a gross underestimate – according to Latislan and other anti-AEE organisations we biologicals are already outnumbered many times over though I personally think this is something of an exaggeration. As if this were not enough, there also exist some experimental mixed electronic and biological species of which the Cleoi are the most important.
Emotionally and psychologically, we are very different from human beings living in your times: we do not have the same concerns and aspirations though to be sure many of the basic traits are still there lurking underneath. Possibly, the horrors of the Abyss have radically transformed the human material for the better – but I am by no means convinced of this. Compared to you, the current inhabitants of Sarwhirlia are a good deal more peaceable: we – or perhaps I should say ‘they’ – have been content to trade in what you call ‘freedom’ for security and survival. In fact the Andirax term ‘frae-dein’ which derives from your ‘freedom’ has something of a negative sense, more ‘absence of protection’ than ‘absence of restraint’. The instability and competitiveness of your era appear to us s horrifying rather than attractive. Mefam especially, since they are assured not only of the basic utilities of existence but are at present also provided with free Extasense, find the present situation very tolerable indeed. I should explain that Extasense is a powerful drug that is available free of charge in most mefam clusters – fam subdominants, with rare exceptions, do not use Extasense. You strap yourself onto a machine a bit like your rocking-horse and choose from a selection of mind-blowing psycho-sexual experiences. Each individual is only allowed a certain number of sessions per month and once you have used up your ration it is not possible to get any more as each Extasense machine is person-specific.
Since 2050 or thereabouts by your reckoning, when the Abyss is considered to have come to an end, life on Sarwhirlia has been controlled by the Parthenogens, so-called because they reproduce as**ually using a process called Introjection. The technique was developed by the first Parthenogens, the Sarlang, during the Abyss itself and seems to have been a sort of mentally induced cloning. A Parthenogen usually only introjects once, at about the age of twenty-eight and the offspring strikingly resembles the parent not only in physique but also in character. Also, it inherits the parent’s memory store: it is a more or less exact replica of the parent or, if you like, its extension in place-time. After a lapse of time which varies but is usually not far from being a multiple of twenty-eight years, the entire Parthenogenic type becomes exhausted and type-introjection takes place. Once the succeeding type is produced the previous one eliminates itself. In the case of type-introjection, however, there is considerable variation in character and, since the Parthenogenic type has an effect on almost everything, this gives rise to clearly differentiated eras which are named after the current type. For reasons that are none too clear, it is universally believed that there will in all only be eight Parthenogenic types – after the eighth the whole system will come to an end. There have been two types that were genetically defective, the Tryollin and the Lintrunn, and they lasted for a very short time, some months at most. The high-point of the entire Parthenogenic era is supposed to have been reached with the Typhen: certainly this was the most creative period in terms of architecture, music and religious fervour – one might perhaps compare it to the baroque era in your Europyia. We have currently reached the time of the Magnatte who are the seventh type: they are more technologically orientated than their predecessors and the most striking development has been the proliferation of artificial entities. The Magnatte have been the dominants here on Sarwhirlia for over eighty years already – the longest span to date of a Parthenogenic type – and it is not expected that they will last for much longer.
The Parthenogens are often referred to as ‘Dominants’ because this is in a sense what they are – but this term, along with the classifications ‘Interdominant’ and ‘Subdominant’ will inevitably give people of your era the wrong impression. Hardly anyone resents the dominants: the great majority of us view them with gratitude and respect because we believe that without them there would most likely be no biological life on Sarwhirlia at all. Even inhabitants of the Conglomerate who consider themselves ‘misfits’ or rebels – as I do up to a point — do not in general feel antagonistic towards the dominants (though there is one partial exception, Aruella, whom you will eventually meet in these transmissions). Possibly, there is something in the doctored atmosphere which prevents aggressive feelings towards our controllers, though it may simply be that, as more or less reasoning beings, we are convinced that any outright revolt against the dominants would be completely suicidal. It is striking that even during the recent ‘Revolt of Kaghin’ the insurrectionaries only expressed grievances about the Interdominants and claimed to remain ‘loyal to the essential principles of the Magnatte Conglomerate’ – whatever that meant. In any case, we in the Age of the Parthenogens tend not to get excited about such vague principles as ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ – the latter term sounds old-fashioned and many people today would find it hard to understand what it means to you and why you consider it to be so desirable. And the Andirax term ‘fraedein’ which derives from your ‘freedom’ has something of a negative sense, implying rather ‘absence of protection’ than ‘lack of restraint’. The only issue the run-of-the-mill mefam gets excited about is the ‘neutrax issue’: we view the vast numbers of AEEs now in existence as a direct threat though most people have not seriously considered how we could get on without them.
The principal role of the Dominants is to maintain the atmosphere which became dangerously thin as far back as 2035 by your reckoning and even now necessitates very complicated arrangements of which I understand very little. Some regions have completely artificial environments (including my own cluster) and even those that do not are protected by (invisible) filters and oxygen veils.
The dominants are never seen or heard, not even on memorial (roughly the equivalent of your television) and they live entirely within revolving cloud-masses which orbit Sarwhirlia. They are in effect as remote as the Olympians of ancient mefam mythologies with whom they are sometimes compared, though we do not offer sacrifices to them or attempt to ask their advice about personal matters. Even in Past-View programmes the dominants are not represented realistically and the only biologicals ever to enter into contact with them are the Interdominants, a sort of administrative caste that makes most of the important day to day decisions. It is doubtful if the current dominants can be properly described as ‘human’, but their origins are certainly biological and more fam than mefam. As to their numbers, even on this point we know little, though they cannot be that numerous.
How and why did such strange creatures as the Parthenogens ever develop in the first place? The official story goes something like this. During the Abyss all government on Sarwhirlia broke down and, as stated earlier, the human species very nearly became extinct because of the Amoeba Plague, originally contracted from seaweed. The distant ancestresses of the Sarlang were groups of fam living in underground cave settlements in North West Territory 2. They seem to have retired underground originally in order to avoid the armed bands of humans roaming the countryside who not only killed people indiscriminately but reputedly even indulged in cannibalism on a large scale. Also, it was a lot easier to maintain an artificial atmosphere in underground conditions. Here, in these unpromising circumstances, these groups of young fam – the mefam amongst them did not survive — developed strange new technologies such as ways of cultivating plants that require very little light, ways of reproducing without insemination and a complicated symbolic system based on body pulses (‘Whoirl’) which could be used not only for inter-human communication but also to contact species’ minds and other non-human biologically based entities. Indeed, it was indirectly because of Whoirl that the Amoeba Plague ended since various representatives of a self-styled ‘world government’ at the time, having heard of the Sarlangs’ strange abilities, asked them to intercede at a higher level to save the species. This the Sarlang originally refused outright to do but, after some negotiation, they reluctantly agreed to contact various higher level bio-minds with the result that the thinning of the ozone layer was halted and the bacillus responsible for the Amoeba Plague transferred to another galaxy where it is quite possibly wreaking as much havoc as it did within the Sol system for all I know (or care).
The Sarlang were subsequently invited to preside over the re-construction of society and/or the species itself. But they refused to have anything to do with government as such, limiting themselves to maintaining the atmosphere, and indeed in their latter days they conceived an aversion not only for the species they had saved from extinction but for bio-form altogether. They very rarely ventured outside their Hydrophylias, sort of windowless towers whose rooms could be flooded with a peculiar liquid of their own invention in which they immersed themselves, living off various plants they cultivated in these dank, insalubrious surroundings. They spent most of their time refining and extending Whoirl with the aim of communicating with immaterial entities who are reputedly a good deal more numerous than material ones and, according to those who have encountered them, more intelligent and amiable also. As if this were not enough, the Sarlang also started constructing a parallel world, Rhewenia, which they sited in the Manifest Non-Occurrent. This enormous task they never completed (the Katylin term Rhewenia means literally ‘Unfinished World’) but enough of it remains for it to be a favourite site for the sort of people who in your era absorb ‘recreational drugs’ – I have even been there once myself as I will perhaps have the occasion to recount later on during these communications.
There exist several accounts of the end of the Sarlang. According to the best known of these, the Sarlang, having already created their successor type, the Scisterl, flew en masse to a pre-arranged site just south of the Girdle of Sarwhirlia. Here they dispersed by atmospheric absorption, a method of extinction which does not allow re-emergence. According to another story, the Sarlang created by ‘witr-consl’ (literally ‘image constructing’) an artificial world, Neptunia, which they miniaturized when once inside it. They then set it adrift on the Sea of Scisterl where presumably it still is, drifting about like a lost buoy.
It is said that when really needed the Sarlang will return to save humanity a second time, but for my part I do not pin any more faith on such a story than most of you who are reading this do to the legend about ‘Drayke’s Drum’. The Sarlang either never existed at all or they are gone for ever, that is what I think.
The Sarlang were immediately succeeded by the next type whom they produced before their departure, the Scisterl. We have now reached the seventh Parthenogenic type, the Magnatte and it is generally believed that, for reasons that are none too clear, there will be a maximum of eight types in all. Then the Era of the Parthenogens will come to an end.
You are perhaps curious about my physique and appearance. I do not think there have been any very great changes since your time, though mefam tend to be taller. Most people today have skin of an intermediate colour by your standards although Majentians are very definitely darker. Skin colour is not an issue with us today nor is ‘race’ as such – the term is never used — although the inhabitants of Majentia do not mix with those living within the Conglomerate proper: this incidentally is entirely their decision, not ours. On the other hand gender and what you might think of as ‘rank’ have infinitely more significance in our society than in yours. A central concept amongst us is ‘hrith’, a term difficult to translate though ‘proper position’ gives some idea of what we understand by it. To be in one’s ‘hrith’ brings inner poise and contentment, not finding it brings permanent anxiety. We consider a person in a ‘high’ place but without hrith to be quite as unfortunate as someone who seems to merit a more brilliant situation than he or she actually occupies. It is because of this belief that almost everyone accepts the dominants: on the other hand, we are instinctively hostile towards neutrax and their growing importance in society because we feel that the principle of hrith is being violated.
I am by our standards of medium height – just under two metres, I think, in your measurements – and in common with most mefam of my cluster I wear my hair fairly long and swept back over my head, held in place by (unscented) lacquer or our equivalent. I have the bow legs and slightly shambling gait of a straylkha player and look a good deal more impressive on the straylkha cone than I do walking across the floor – or at least this is what I like to think. Currently, young fam subdominants especially admire very tall and thin mefam with a large nose, thick lips, high forehead and jet-black hair, exactly the physique of Litvin, the leading straylkha player of my cluster – though I must confess I personally would not call him good-looking by any stretch of imagination.
As to clothes, we prefer simpler ones to those you wear. In a warm (artificial) climate as here on Mortalysium mefam wear a white or beige ‘tulkha’, sort of linen blouse, also loose trousers made of a single piece of cloth. We avoid zips and buttons which we regard as unsightly or affected. Undergarments for mefam are not unlike those you wear though they clip together in a Velcro-style arrangement on the right side rather than in the middle. Mefam today, the younger ones anyway, give considerable importance to dress – more so than fam – and many wear highly ornate undergarments at mixed gatherings (even though they are not visible). I myself rather disdain this sort of thing though I do try to select undergarments that match the location or occasion.
Because of rejuvenation, most adults look roughly the same age when seen from a certain distance, give or take six years or so. However, on careful examination it is not difficult to distinguish between younger and older humans: the latter look pasty though they do not have more wrinkles. Fam become thickset, but not corpulent, with age. Rejuvenation is without a doubt unhealthy and leads to forced withdrawal at an age you would not regard as being especially advanced: nonetheless practically everyone undergoes it as we are, most of us, very concerned, not to say obsessed, about our appearance. I have considered refusing rejuvenation when it is offered to me but I am not sure that I will have the courage to go through with this – it would make me something of an outcast.
I must add that everything I have said, along with many other things, is true only for the so-called Major Conglomerate though this covers the greater part of inhabitable Sarwhirlia. In Majentia – a place I have never visited – no one undergoes rejuvenation: if they did they would be forced into exile or imprisoned. Members of the Yther, as you have seen, do not practise rejuvenation, nor do the subjects of Aruella in Zarfyll. The Yther object to the practice because they consider physical appearance of little account. Aruella on the other hand considers the practice to be anti-biological and thus ipso facto bad in her eyes, though there is perhaps something of sour grapes involved because, as a rebel against the Conglomerate, she would never have been granted rejuvenation in the first place. Indeed, the threat of withholding rejuvenation from persistent offenders acts as a powerful curb on criminality in our era.
It is now time to explain, or rather recount, how these transmissions that you are presumably reading in the early twenty-first century came about. More or less by ‘chance’ as I have said – though one is never sure whether or not there is a ‘hidden hand’ directing events, or at least giving them a prod in a certain direction.
Yther novices are not allowed access to memorials or suchlike devices but I, as a visitor here and not an initiate, was originally provided with a multi-faceted one for my strictly personal use. But a few days ago it was disconnected — whether deliberately or not I am not sure. Out of boredom I started experimenting with certain Yther meditational techniques as described in an antiquated manual I came across in a wall-hold here.
The manual had obviously been intensively studied by an exceptionally keen Yther novice: there were underlinings and useful comments written in the margin on almost every page. The handwriting was neat and graceful and had quite a strong effect on me, almost as if I could hear the person talking. I do not know why but I soon became convinced that this manual had once belonged to Alcilthyia, the previous Praesidian of this Sanctuary and the personage who is currently at the centre of the DETP controversy.
Be that as it may, without this manual I would not now be in contact with persons such as yourselves in your very distant era. A certain section in the manual lists various weird experiences that may come to persons practising meditation in an intensive way, amongst them what the manual calls ‘visits to other places and eras’. The Yther of course is not in the least interested in such experiences since it regards the ordinary present as a sufficient obstacle to true knowledge of Aoullnnia, let alone the past history of the species and any additional regions that have been tacked on during the last hundred years (such as Rhewenia). However, the manual does give instructions as to what to do should one find oneself inadvertently in unexpected sites: amongst other things it tells you how to get back as rapidly as possible to the simple present. Also, by providing guide-lines on how to avoid future (sic) place-time travel, the manual does in effect tell you what to do if you are perverse or foolhardy enough to make the attempt. For all you have to do is to perform the operations in the reverse order and thus deliberately bring about the very conditions you have been warned against. This, apparently, is what the possessor of the manual did some twenty or so years ago, and her successes and failures are briefly recorded along with many invaluable hints and reflections, although she eventually concludes that the whole enterprise is both futile and harmful (as the manual itself states on more than one occasion).
Though generally placid enough, at particular moments I become absurdly rash and this apparently was one of them. I at once started experimenting with some of the more outlandish mental procedures described. The results were quite spectacular – far more interesting than what one generally gets from Extasense in my opinion. I found myself dipping into an incredible assortment of milieux and atmospheres, some vaguely recognizable from Past-View (a facility on memorials which provides very life-like reconstructions of the better known eras of the past), others totally fantastic. The effect was something like what happens when you idly turn the tuning knob on one of your radios. To begin with, I did not get the impression that I was actually participating in the scenes I observed but the unknown user’s comments in the manual tell you how to ‘home in’ as it were on a particular time-place situation and even temporarily inhabit the mind and body of someone in another era – it is because of this faculty that I know so much about your habits and thought-processes. The danger with this sort of thing is that it is all too easy to get sucked into a different mind/body set so completely that you cannot get back again. Fortunately, the manual has a lot to say on the subject of ‘extrication’.
I experimented only for short spaces of time, then returned to normality so-called to reflect on what I had experienced and to consult the manual. If one is not careful one becomes rapidly addicted to time-place hopping – or so the user states in the margin of the manual. I am a fairly well-disciplined person, however.
After a certain time, again according to the margin notes, one finds oneself being repeatedly drawn to a particular period, then a particular country at this time, eventually to a town or village and so on. It seems that Alcilthyia – if it really was her – entered the latter Middle Ages and quite enjoyed the scene there, eventually homing in on the famous staryll (virgin) Jayne d’Arke, or so at any rate she declared in a footnote, though she managed to extricate herself before the latter’s trial. For some reason I got sucked into the early twenty-first century and, fatuous though it sounds, established some sort of contact with a mefam entity of this time, hence these transmissions which were originally oral. I do not incidentally consider myself a reincarnation of this personage about whom I know very little.
You should above all not get the idea that people in my era make a habit of this kind of thing: on the contrary as far as I know it is very uncommon and I have always believed that people who claimed to be able to time-place travel were simply deluding themselves. The idea that one can leap-frog through history, either backwards and forwards, has always struck me as being ridiculous in the extreme, and indeed it still does. For if one could pass on messages to the past, as apparently I am now doing, one could give instructions to prevent oneself being born which is clearly nonsense – there was reputedly an individual in the Typhen era who claimed to have done precisely this but he disappeared suddenly without a trace and many historians seriously doubt that he ever existed. Presumably, if time-place travel really does exist, there are inbuilt rules of the game which prevent any such absurdities as killing oneself before one is born. Such rules, if they exist, also presumably ensure that material like the present transmissions is never taken seriously enough to lead to any large-scale political and social decisions.
Alternatively, one could suppose that I am not contacting the past of my own era but instead have crossed over onto a parallel track, a world that is lagging behind the one I am living in by the right number of years to enable us to share the ‘present’. According to this interpretation it would be possible to give advice to people in a ‘previous’ era and so one could, for example, prevent the rise of Heitler or for that matter stop the spread of the Amoeba Plague and save humanity without any need of the intervention of the Sarlang. On the other hand there are serious dangers involved because the recipient of such a message would have no means of knowing whether the so-called advisor was speaking the truth, or whether he was benign rather than malevolent. I have as a matter of fact heard it said that the spread of the Amoeba Plague itself was the result of a practical joke played across place-time that got out of hand: in the past (my past) I never took this suggestion seriously for a moment but now I am not so sure. On this rather sombre note I leave you to take up the story of my current odyssey in a future session.