Saturday, April 08, 2006

A City of the Year 4 Million

Waking, that is to say, integrating his various consciousnesses at optimum power to consider the day,and leaving only the merest traces, spread across the wetware of his herds, and dreaming in the archive rocks, to deal with the standard traffic of his life, Patrick O’Henry Abraham Malone Donderry Zaterpek Hyde London the IVth – yawned with all his myriad mouths.

He had a lot to do today. Some of his selves were renovating shelters along the border with his Neighbour to the East, others were drafting his contributions to the monthly art-fest for later multiple consideration, but that was all barely
conscious, above his bovine and argricultural maintenance concerns certainly, but hardly in the realm of high-brow cogitation.

Today he had to decide on his contribution to the next generation, a task he had been putting off if only because it signalled the onset of middle-age. What
had he accomplished when he considered his meagre 2,000 years of life? Oh he had built a few reasonable cities, maintained himself in moderate comfort, kept
his part of the ecology glowing at a seven star rating in the lists. He had enacted the classic dramas watched by as many as seventy Humans, and his retellings had gained him considerable applause in his younger days. He had sent his erotic feelers deep into his Neighbour’s citadels tweaking their selves to the tender consummation of the orgy, and if he had not yet mated in earnest he had played the game with style nevertheless.

And yet, and yet. What did it amount to really except a moderately comfortable, middling existence, composed in the final analysis of the same round of activities,
differently coloured by the seasons and the centuries, but still essentially the same? Perhps he should have joined the migrants in the photosphere of the sun, working to increase its lifespan. But there were, according to the rocks,
nearly ninety Humans working on that project, far in excess of the number needed for projected success and indeed – he judged reading between the lines of data
- its overstaffing was a source of much friction. Besides was a love of comfort, and of the earthly pleasures of sea, sky, and the herds moving with his consciousness barely floating in their braintaps so poor a thing that it needed to be burned away in the dying sun? He still loved the Earth, although at times like this it was too familiar to him.

What did that leave? He could apply for twinning, forgo mating to have instead a copy of himself transferred subspacia aternalis to another world. Then he would share in a new pioneering life, have a twin striving in the new worlds, while retaining to himself the old. Hmm, he had heard distressing stories about feuds between twins, which if true (rather than myths, or horror stories) must have
resembled in broad, the ‘psychosies’ of the ancient dramas. Would he resent the ‘self’ who left? Would it resent the ‘self’ that remained? He doubted it. Did
his farmering hands hate his building hands, or his cattle his sheep?


Tardieu said...

Way cool, I have often wondered what would have happened should Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison co-write. That's a compliment by the by. Is there more of this? or is it just an abandoned introduction? or an experiment in that style of writing?

Personally, if I started reading something like this in Analog I would be very disappointed if it finished after only two pages.

Philip said...

It's very nice. For some reason, while I remember you posting this (was it to the Pagoda?), I've no clear memory of actually reading it before. But it's great.

Site Owner said...

I posted it to JPTV when we were discussing the depiction of future societies. I think you might have put off reading it because you were working on one of your own (peculiar lives?) Which incidently I've now read and is brill, and I must hype next main post.

Simon BJ

Philip said...

Oh yes, that's right. I was writing "The Long Midwinter", which is set in a similar period but a completely different location, and was worried about cross-contamination.

Glad you enjoyed Peculiar Lives.

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