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Fictional non-fiction

The Social Aspects of the Aydax Phenomena: A Literature Review

by Andrew Gudgel

November 2043

Authors: Hanna Knudson, City College of London; Zhang Simei, China Academy of Social Sciences; Paolo Villarreal, Arizona State University; Margarethe Kohlmann, Universität Wien

Abstract

The arrival of the Aydax in July 2039 raised fundamental questions in physics (Lennon, 2041), xenobiology (Tao, 2039) and even philosophy (Magnette, 2042). No field has been as diverse in its response as sociology, with hundreds of journal articles generated in just a few years. Yet to date there has been no meta-analysis of the effects of the Aydax arrival on the societies of Earth. The authors attempt to take first steps towards illuminating themes in the human response to this watershed event.

Background

The first three Aydax ships were detected at 2049 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on July 8, 2039, by the US Space Surveillance Network at a distance of 35,000km. Two minutes later, three more ships were detected. Detections continued until a total of 21 ships were observed approaching the Earth (US DoD, 2039). The first three ships entered the atmosphere less than five minutes later and landed near Orebro, Sweden; Prague, Czechia; and Troyes, France. Landings occurred then across Eurasia, Australia, Antarctica and finally, North and South America.

At 1216 UTC on July 12, 2039—four days after arrival—the ships simultaneously emitted a noise interpreted by local security cordons as “Ay-dax!” Immediately thereafter, the bottoms of the ships lowered to the ground, revealing a conical ramp. The first wave of tightly packed, walking cephalopods were seen coming down at 1220 UTC and upon reaching the ground, immediately began to disperse in all directions (Salton, 2039).

Messages were transmitted at the Aydax using sound, light, and electromagnetic waves up to the microwave band, but attempts to communicate with this (and all subsequent) tranches of disembarking Aydax proved fruitless. Within six hours, five hundred and twelve waves of sixty-four Aydax proceeded from each ship, for an assumed total worldwide population of 668,128 individuals (Salton, 2039)–though this number has decreased due to the freezing to death of the 65,000-plus Aydax on the two ships that landed in Antarctica, predation by wild animals, and losses in subsequent encounters with humans.

Lack of Communication and Interaction

The singular aspect surrounding the arrival of the Aydax has been the lack of successful communication. In addition to attempts using sound and electromagnetic radiation, there have been attempts using neutron beams and alpha particles (Diaz and Burchfield, 2040), pheromones (Wu and Keegan, 2040), and even an informal attempt using capsaicin (Cleary, 2040). None have caused the slightest reaction. Claims of “Whispering Aydax,” telepathic communication, or gestural language have either been disproven (Stahl, 2042) or shown to be hoaxes; similar and more sensational versions of these tropes have appeared in numerous tabloid newspapers and merit no serious consideration.

An examination of the abandoned ships three months after the landing found no evidence of control mechanisms or written language, only alcoves that presumably housed individual Aydax. It’s likely travel occurred in a state of suspended animation, as there were no food preparation areas or hygienic facilities on board (Lutz et al, 2039). We still have no idea of where in space the Aydax may have originated, why they came to Earth, or their goals and aims. It’s unknown if they produced the ships in which they traveled. It has been argued they might not even be sentient at all (Mingus, 2042). If so, this raises the obvious question of who sent the Aydax to Earth and why.

Immediately after their dispersal, fear of a potential invasion sparked panicked humans to kill an unknown number of Aydax individuals worldwide–probably on the order of several thousand. In addition, some have subsequently been killed in remote areas by predators such as brown bears, lions and dingoes. To this day, Aydax are occasionally crushed when they wander onto roads or train tracks, and sporadic killings by humans still occur (Calvino, 2040).

However, the complete lack of any reaction or retaliation by the Aydax did not lead to mass slaughter. Instead, Aydax seem to have become accepted as a quasi-natural phenomenon. Individuals that obstruct or interrupt human activities are more likely than not to simply be ignored and worked around or picked up and moved out of the way (Fox, 2041).

Friend or Foe?

The popular press has painted Aydax as everything from angelic saviors to Machiavellian devils just biding their time before taking over the world (Brooks, 2040). However, there is currently no evidence that the Aydax are concerned with human activity to any degree.

Yet some humans have come to impute behaviors to the Aydax through their mere presence. Farmers in the northwestern districts of Peru have attempted to “herd” Aydax into churches just prior to weddings–having an individual at the ceremony is considered lucky, possibly through retro-association with Pre-Columbian deities (Cruz, 2042). In North America, Aydax that wander into sporting arenas are often “adopted” as mascots, believed to confer luck on the home team. The time spent in an art gallery by an Aydax (and the implied approval of certain artworks) was the basis of a subsequent lawsuit over those artworks’ actual value (Johnson, 2041). Aydax have been used to sell everything from consumer products to political candidates. They have also been accepted as part of Japan’s Kawaii aesthetic (Tadao, 2042), where they form the basis for the InterToy Company’s “Squidoo” series of characters.

The Aydax have been the source of a number of short-lived social phenomena during the 2040-41 time frame: the act of “Aydax Tripping,” and the online memes “AliensInHats,” “¡Hola!,” and “HuggingMyBuddy.” Recent streaming media have used the presence of Aydax in family homes in a number of contrived comedic situations (Yeager, 2043).

However, this does not mean that humans have become blasé to the presence of the Aydax. The low moan of air moving through their breathing throats and their uncanny ability to somehow enter and depart even locked spaces such as bank vaults, prisons, and family homes can be unnerving. This ability has led to Aydax body parts being used in sympathetic magic rituals among burglary gangs in Thailand and West African inmates during attempted prison escapes (Yost, 2043).

In North America and Europe, the rate of self-reported feelings of paranoia and “persecution” has shown a small but marked increase since the arrival of the Aydax (Gerson, 2042). Anecdotal reports of decreases in the number of house pets and small rodents in neighborhoods through which Aydax pass also worry many people. (Though see Hart and Duckworth, 2041, for an analysis which sheds doubt on this phenomena.)

The effect of the arrival of the Aydax on religious belief has varied. Abrahamic religions initially experienced both a questioning of basic tenets and a drop in congregational attendance. However, within a year, attendance at weekly services rebounded to just above pre-arrival levels. A similar effect was seen in both Judaism and Islam (Halston, 2040). In primarily Buddhist regions, Aydax have gradually come to be considered fellow beings in the wheel of Samsara (Pan, 2041).

The effect on world politics was both brief and muted. Once the initial shock of the Aydax landing and early fears of an invasion passed, most governments ended emergency declarations and went back to business as usual. However, in what could be described as the first case of true xenophobia, a populist government in Eastern Europe passed a law mandating the removal of all Aydax from within its borders. These measures proved impossible to enforce and were repealed less than a year later (Duchowski, 2040).

Conclusion: Mirror, Mirror

Human societies appear to be acclimating themselves to the presence of the Aydax. After an initial wave of fear and some temporary turmoil, humanity seems to be embracing the Aydax as a new part of the natural world, and in some cases attaching value to their presence. While the authors acknowledge that unfortunate and sometimes lethal encounters will likely continue in the future, such incidents have already become uncommon.

The authors further believe that barring a resolution to the communication problem and/or some indication of ill will on the part of the Aydax, the trend towards acceptance will continue. Yet the complete inability to communicate with the Aydax, and thus discern their intentions, has made them a blank canvas upon which humanity can project its own hopes, fears, goals and desires. This aspect of the “Aydax Phenomena” is unlikely to change until such time as human nature does.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank research assistants Donald Previn, Wan Quanhong, Deborah Johnson and Andreas Hartlieb for searching numerous databases for relevant information prior to this article’s creation. They also wish to thank their families for their understanding during the months in which the authors spent too many nights in online meetings and discussions. Finally, Hanna Knudson would like to thank the Aydax individual she saw standing in the yard while searching for the family dog on August 4, 2042, for being the genesis of this article.

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References

Brooks, Killian, “Media Coverage of the Aydax Landing, July 2039-January 2040,” National Press Club [Australia] Magazine, June 2040, pp. 20-24

Calvino, Sophia, “Carcere per l’omicidio alieno,” La Stampa, 6 Aprile 2042, p. 12

Cleary, Alice, “Man Arrested for Giving Alien a ‘Hot Sauce Red Eye,'” Chicago Tribune Online, August 23, 2040

Cruz, Antonio, “Revival of Moche Beliefs in the Trujillo Region of Peru in the Post-Aydax World,” Sociology, (73:11), November 2042, p. 45-48

Diaz, Fernando and Aaron Burchfield, “Particle Beams as a Method of Communication with an Aydax Individual,” IEEE Bulletin (No. 648), April 2040, p. 730

Duchovski, Marcin, “Zgromadzenie Narodowe uchwala Prawo Anti-Kosmita,” Gazeta, 21 Styczen, 2040; “Prawo Anti-Kosmita zostało uchylone,” Gazeta, 11 Listopad 2040

Fox, Stanley, “Cloudy With a Chance of Aydax: Acceptance of Dramatic Change and the Status Quo Ante,Sociology, (72:9), September 2041, p. 31-37

Gerson, Tabitha, “Trends in Psychiatric Case Rates,” Journal of International Psychology, Vol. 18, Iss. 6, November 2042, pp.757-785

Halston Worldwide Associates, “Depth of Faith and Weekly Church Attendance post-Aydax Arrival,” September 2040 polling data, September 31, 2040

Hart, Angela and Brian Duckworth, “Observational Study of Lost Pet Notices After Aydax Passage,” Statistical Bulletin, 246:5, May 2041, p. 361-372

Johnson, Lily, “Judgment Against Gallery Owner in Aydax Case Leads to $800K Settlement,” New York World, July 30, 2042, p. A10

Lennon, Valerie, “Transluminal Propulsion and Einstein–a Reassessment,” Nature, 6 February 2041, pp. 12-15

Lutz, Dora, Karl Dorfmann and others, “A Technological Perspective on Aydax Spacecraft,” United Nations Special Technical Bulletin No. 36, November 2039

Magnette, Thomas, “Aristotle’s On Marvelous Things Heard and the Aydax: Categorically Improbable Truths,” Trans. Phil. Grecae (Vol 16:11), November 2042, pp. 345-70

Mingus, Stephen, “Canaries in a Coal Mine: The Case for Aydax as Ecological Indicators for a Yet Unknown Species,” in New Perspectives on Exobiology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2042

潘兰香[Pan, Lanxiang], “外星人会参加轮回吗? [Can Aliens Participate in Reincarnation?]” 《佛学 [Buddhist Studies]》 120:4, 2041年 4月,47-49页

Salton, David, “Report on the Arrival of the Aliens and Attempts to Make Contact,” United Nations Xenobiological Paper No. 1, August 2039

Stahl, Charles, “Contextual Gestures and Implied Meanings in Nonverbal Communication,” Linguistics, Vol. 27 Iss. 3, Spring 2042

Tadao, Takeshi, “Latest Trends in Japan’s Subcultures,” Commercial Journal, November 2042, p. 4

Tao, Yuanguang, “Morphology of a Newly-Discovered Species, Xenokalamari vagus aydaxUnited Nations Xenobiological Paper No. 2, September 2039

US Department of Defense Press Release, July 9, 2039

Yeager, Donna, “Shoehorning Aliens into Shows is a Trend We Can All Do Without,” Hollywood Magazine online, October 3, 2043

Yost, Michael, “Use of Human, Alien and Animal Body Parts in Sympathetic Magic Rituals,” in Paganism in the 21st Century, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2043

Wu, Hongmei and Dominica Keegan, “Am I Making Scents? An Attempt at Interspecies Communication,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 25:6, June 2040, pp. 182-87

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Bio:

Andrew Gudgel is a freelance writer and translator. His fiction has appeared at Writers of the Future, Flash Fiction Online, Escape Pod, InterGalactic Medicine Show and other publications. He lives in Maryland, USA, in an apartment slowly being consumed by books. You can find him at www.andrewgudgel.com.

Philosophy Note:

This piece was the result of meditations on aliens and first contact tropes. The first question pondered was: What if the
aliens were SO alien, we can’t even communicate with them? From there I extrapolated how humanity might react. Fear and/or curiosity seem to be the default responses in many first-contact stories, but how would humans react longer term with aliens who remained an enigma?

Humans

by Madeline Barnicle

Pursuant to galactic policy 10-93, no humans are permitted in microdimensional (4-11) transport vessels, except as licensed Observers to resolve any quantum inconsistencies that may arise.

Passengers must provide their own oxygen for humans.

Policy 13-72 guarantees that no licensing institution can require humans to limit their reproductive capabilities as a condition of becoming Observers. However, humans in transit for more than 2.5 megaseconds may experience higher-than-average tissue discharge.

As a matter of etiquette, please refrain from insulting other passengers’ humans. Humans from all planets, and those of undetermined ancestry, can become qualified Observers.

Unfortunately, empathy-processing companions are not allowed.

~

Bio:

Madeline Barnicle holds a PhD in mathematical logic from UCLA, and now lives in Maryland. Find her stories at madeline-barnicle.neocities.org.

Swag Of Distant Earth

by Matt McHugh

The Journal of Cultural Xenology

Volume 4,236,957 – Issue 3 (Supplemental)

Analysis of Crypto-Marketing Symbology in the Pioneer 10 Advertisement for 2001: A Space Odyssey

SubLord Gormatu (Lead Author), Professor of Xenoglyphics, The Empress B.A.T. University; k]i[n+Xi(ah)vün-te’əl, Associate Professor of Adjacency, Institute of Dimensional Topology; Jeet Patel (Corresponding Author), Intern.

Mass Tariff Funder Statement: Grants provided by The Empress Beautiful and Terrifying, Foundation for Expansion Studies; and Viewers Like You.

Abstract

A gold-anodized plaque affixed to the artifact dubbed “Pioneer 10,” which was set adrift by a pre-quantspace society inhabiting the third planet of a mid-galactic star, is an advertisement for an audio-visual narrative entitled 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Introduction

Since the start of the Eighth Age of the Empress Beautiful and Terrifying (all praise and submission to Her horrific glory) our team of xenologists has focused on the cultural particulars of the inhabitants of a remote planet known in its most common local dialects as Earth, or more descriptively, Dirt Ball (地球). (NOTE: The inhabitants use many dialects and scripting systems, the study of which is a specialty of our team.)

Relatively recently, the planet’s dominant primate species has developed the technology to process visible light and acoustic waves for storage. This stored information is manipulated to produce narrative sequences known as moving pictures, or more commonly by the quaint diminutive “movies”—though again an alternate dialect offers a more technically illuminating moniker: electric shadows (电影).

Electric shadow movies are extremely popular on Dirt Ball. Fees charged for their viewing fuel entire sectors of the economy. The industry is highly competitive and, somewhat paradoxically, must invest heavily in marketing expenditures to recoup production costs. Physical signage with cryptic imagery, intended to suggest but not reveal details of the narrative’s storyline, is a common advertising strategy.

The electric shadow known as 2001: A Space Odyssey (Erratum: The numeric prefix refers to a time-keeping system, not—as previously thought—the number of discarded versions produced by its creator) is a speculation on what the natives might encounter beyond the gravitational field of their planet of origin. Since Pioneer 10 was designed to travel outside Dirt Ball’s gravity, placing advertising for 2001 upon it was an inspired marketing gimmick.

Materials and Methods

Access to the Quantspace Omniscope, enabled by the boundless largess of the Empress B.A.T. (oh, what ecstasy to behold Her magnificent oblivion!), was essential to our remote observational research. Also, the Homeomorphic Space Grapnel, on loan from the Institute of Dimensional Topology, allowed us to obtain the actual Pioneer 10 artifact for direct inspection. From there, our team of iconographers collaborated to decode the marketing message.

Finally, it must be mentioned that culling the archives of Dirt Ball provided enormous insight. A popular maxim among Empire xenologists is “No one understands undeveloped primitives like other undeveloped primitives” and to that end we acknowledge the contributions of the American Film Institute, Wikipedia, and reddit user pFloyd237.

Analysis

Analysis of the Pioneer 2001 advertisement begins in grid square [1A] with multiple circles extending to square [1K]. These represent the local star and planetary bodies (Dirt Ball itself is in [1E]). Their unnatural alignment, a common motif in 2001, plays to native superstition that planetary conjunctions herald momentous events.

The line extending from Dirt Ball to [2H] indicates the travel of the space vehicle in 2001 called Discovery, depicted as a parabolic communications antenna, known as the AE-35 unit, aimed toward Dirt Ball. Note Discovery passes between two planets. The ship’s stated destination in the 2001 moving picture was “Jupiter” [1G] while the scripted version said “Saturn” [H1]; this is obviously a compromise to appease the substantial ego needs of the respective version creators.

Turning now to the circular objects in [10C] and [10E]. These suggest the relationship between Discovery’s support vehicles, referred to as pods, and the singular eye of the sentient computing machine named Hal. Discovery’s primate crew believe the pod to be safe from Hal’s omnipresent awareness, but are proven incorrect when Hal assumes control of a pod to lethal effect. These linked symbols illustrate that the primates’ technologies have aligned against them.

On to the most conspicuous feature: the representation of the primates themselves in grid [9I] to [3M]. They are a sexually dimorphic species—highlighted with a striking lack of modesty in [6J] and [6L]—with the male obviously the more submissive as shown by the gesture of supplication in [8I]. Note the geometric arc-and-chord behind the male. This depicts a tension-based projectile launcher called a bow. The protagonist of the 2001 narrative is named as “Dave Bowman” so the symbolism here is rather blunt. For one more subtle, note the pair of right triangles with adjacent vertices in [7N]. Baffling at first, these become meaningful when rotated perpendicularly in conjunction with the bow: it is a boat with a wind-driven sail. Oriented vertically, the sailboat is aimed against the vector of gravity, the significance of which is revealed by delving into a defunct primate dialect where “astro” means star and “naut” refers to travel by boat. Dave Bowman is an astronaut, sailing to the stars. Very clever. (NOTE: Due to local moral conventions, Dave Bowman is never depicted in the electric shadow in a pristine uncovered state, except during a regression to infancy.)

Finally, to the most contextually significant images: the rectangle cornered in [9H] and the multiple radiants centered in [6D]. The rectangle is an object in 2001 called The Monolith (a defunct dialect for “single stone”). The Monolith is intended to be an artifact originating from an unknown civilization outside of Dirt Ball. It is described with a frontal proportion in the ratio of 4×9, although this two-dimensional depiction here is 3×9. This discrepancy is possibly due to the marketing department receiving incorrect information from the movie producers (a common occurrence in the electric shadow industry) or the marketing department simply being stupid (also common, see: Gormatu et al. “A Case Study in Xeno-Economic Fatuousness: The ‘New Coke’ Fiasco.” Seminars in Social Inferiority, sponsored by the Empress B.A.T. Academy of Inevitable Destiny).

Taken overall, 2001 is the story of the primates’ attempt to discover the civilization responsible for The Monolith. That quest is aided by an accidental excursion through a quantspace conduit—i.e., the figure centered in [6D]. Referred to as “The Stargate sequence,” the visual representation of a quantspace journey in 2001 is astoundingly accurate for a society yet to achieve one. This leads to the disturbing notion that a rogue element from the Fleet of the Empress Beautiful and Terrifying (may all who defy her exquisiteness burn in agony before her pediments) has traversed to Dirt Ball and communed with the locals for some treasonous purpose.

Conclusion

Given that 2001: A Space Odyssey reveals that a primitive society has speculated on the existence of an advanced trans-galactic civilization with worrisome precision—and then chosen to boldly go and advertise that speculation via an extra-gravitic projectile—our team proposes immediate invasion and subjugation of the planet Dirt Ball. Let it be noted that SubLord Gormatu is prepared to assume the heavy burden of full Lordship in service to the insatiably righteous hunger of the Empress Beautiful and Terrifying, and is willing to accept the lowly governorship of Dirt Ball. In doing so, Lord Gormatu will be ideally positioned to plunder Dirt Ball’s archives, transmitting via Omiscope uncorrupted versions of the electric shadows most favored by the Empress (Her radiance, Her ruthlessness, matched only by Her sophistication) including the “Disney Princess” series and the complete oeuvre of Jackie Chan (成龍), especially the early-career efforts when he was still “yummy buff” (with great apology for quoting the candid ejaculation of the Empress in Her aesthetic reverie). This analysis and conclusion is hereby submitted with prostrate humility for the peerless review of the minions of the Empress B.A.T for the undeserved honor of basking for a fleeting moment in the all-consuming glow of Her unrivalled and devastatingly gorgeous wisdom.

~

Bio:

Matt McHugh was born in suburban Pennsylvania, attended LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and after a few years as a Manhattanite, currently calls New Jersey home. Website: mattmchugh.com

Silica Field Study SOP

by E. A. Lawrence

CONGRESSIONAL DISCOVERY EXPEDITION

AUTHOR and DIVISION PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Zephraim A. Mallory, Jr., P.hD

MISSION DATE:  2467_1.42.8

CDE CARRIER: PEREGRINE

CDE CARRIER DEAN: Zephraim C. Mallory, Sr., PhD

RESEARCH DIVISION: XENOANTHROPOLOGY

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE OUTLINE FOR: FIELD STUDY INTERVIEWS

ON: SILICA [14.03.49.60.22.23]

WITH: Social Amphibian Ectothermic Digitigrade Biped Society

INDIGENOUS SELF-APPELLATION: Wannana

IN: Southern Hemisphere, Central Riparian Region, Bordering the West Coast Beta Ocean

DURING: Quinquennial Vernal Precipitation Event called “Anamee”

BACKGROUND: The Meteorology Division defined that five years are needed for Silica’s atmosphere to gather enough moisture from the ice caps and scattered seas for one planet-wide storm season. The xeric environment recedes, the seas rise, and the seeds thrive in loamy sand. The plants are efficient. Cell growth from germination to maturity in the Southern cirronns, a photosynthetic plant similar to the Bambusoideae, is effective enough to capsize a poorly placed hover ferry because it grows 91 cm an hour; operators must use care. It is strongly recommended that no field work be attempted until the cirronn groves are mature.

Silica is dominated by amphibious life forms. It is likely that Silica was an aquatic or at least a more water-abundant world between 1 to 2 million years before present. Based on the magnetic fields of the poles and the geologic record, it is probable that Silica’s axis of rotation shifted.  This cataclysm triggered widespread extinction when abundant terrestrial freshwater became a quinquennial sight. The amphibian vertebrates underwent an adaptive radiation event and two dominant species emerged (see related CDE Argos Geology & Paleontology Dual Division Ground Science Report, by Pichard, J. & Mallory, Z.C.): the omnivorous, sentient Wannana and the alpha-predator rotpar. These species differ genetically by 2.5% of novel genetic code (see related CDE Peregrine Biology and Xeno-Linguistic Division Co-Report, by Mallory, Z.C. et al). Wannana do not resemble rotpar beyond an equivalent camouflage of nutrient dependent chromatophores that facilitate dermis ranging between cirron-grove-green and loamy beige in color. At 3 meters tall, the average Wannanan towers over human field researchers but though obligate digitigrade bipeds, they prefer to crouch when casually conversing and human researchers are able to communicate with them well. It is comfortable for humans to read their wide, round faces. The Wannanan expressive brow ridges are hypothesized to facilitate a copacetic degree of micro-expression during conversation and their language is effectively translated by our software but the word Wannana is consistently translated as “dreamer” regardless of context.

Silican organisms reproduce synchronous to the Anamee. Both the Wannana and rotpar depend on the cirronn groves as well as the dynamic riparian ecosystem bordering the Beta Ocean to survive. Like the majority of Silica’s terrestrial animals, the Wannana estivate in the sand during the inter-Anamee years. Rotpar hunt and scavenge on the wing, in the water, and even in the sand without aestivating on the scale of the rest of Silica. The only amphibian on Silica with true flight, in appearance a rotpar resembles the extinct amphiuma of the North American southeast of Earth, with a conical head on the end of a muscular, serpentine neck. Rotpar have a long tail with a keratinized terminal spine. The anterior legs are short with excavating claws; the powerful posterior legs terminate in talons. The rotpar are obligate carnivores, highly intelligent, and opportunistic apex hunters. A wurnn, the juvenile rotpar, is a diminutive version of its parents. Rotpar fathers guard the growing wurnns while females hunt, and occasionally bring food to the males guarding their eggs. Every step the wurnns take is within sensory range of the father. However, the rotpar offer no recorded interpersonal nurturing behavior to their young. Rotpar actively hunt the Wannana. All field researchers engaged in Wannana interviews must follow standard off-ship safety practices with particular emphasis on wearing full personal protective equipment and working in teams to avoid injury (see Peregrine Field Safety Checklist, edition XII, sub-section 4, Predation Avoidance & Survival).

During Anamee, the Wannana congregate in the riparian zone parallel to the sea to dance, sing, and reproduce. Prior studies conducted by the CDE Argos and earlier work done by the CDE Peregrine have documented the natural history of the Wannana but have succeeded in only minimal xeno-anthropology. Couples mate and lay their eggs. However, the complete metamorphosis of Wannana-tadpoles to metamorphs must occur beneath the sand during estivation. Wannana-tadpoles have been observed burrowing beneath the muddy pools to estivate as the Anamee ends, using their powerful, fatty tails to propel them underground. During Anamee stubby-tailed metamorphs emerge at half their adult size and act familiar with their adult caregivers who do provide parental care. The females and post-Anamee metamorph juveniles guard the eggs at night, when the young wurnns and Rotpar females hunt. Guarding behavior consists of performing fierce threat displays of vocalizations and twirling cirron-trunk stave weapons. The guardians circle the eggs in shifts, relieving each other to sleep, eat, and otherwise relax. The mature male Wannana care for the elderly and act as sentinels of the eggs within their individual rookery pools.

Though the rotpar hunt the Wannanan rookery pools daily and the Wannana vigorously protect their eggs to a sufficient degree, they do not retaliate with lethal violence against the rotpar even after observed high depredations of eggs, Wannana-tadpoles, and metamorphs. Numerous observations and encounters with the Wannana provide evidence for a hunter-gatherer society with distinct language groups, complex social communication culture, and sophisticated cirron & bone-based tool use (see related reports from both the Peregrine and Argos Biology Divisions by Mallory, Z.C. & Goodel et al), but no formal Xeno-anthropology Division study has been conducted to better understand Wannanan culture. The landmark Mallory & Goodel studies posited in their respective Discussions that the societal development of the Wannana is constrained by the lack of surface time to technologically develop effective agriculture and long-term survival infrastructure to overcome the incredible predation of both the rotpar, meso-predators, and the harsh environment of Silica. However, their post-autopsy descriptions of Wannana physiology describe a large brain to body ratio as well as complex brain physiology that both Mallory, Z.C. and Goodel admitted defies an easy analog to known physiologies described by CDE missions. Given the complex social behavior evidenced in previous missions that suggest estivation acculturation due family-group behavior despite a presumed absence of direct contact. No artificial subterranean structures have been found on Silica during numerous geologic studies.

KEY QUESTIONS: How does a culture persevere when it is active only one-year for every five spent estivating? How do Wannanans complete metamorphosis and acculturation to their social band during estivation? Are there structures in their brains or body that allow for a way to socially function?

PROCEDURE: This is a broad scale procedural outline to direct plans on site.

  1. Arrive five days post-Anamee (coordinate with Meterology Division)
  2. Set up operations in the same area explored by both Mallory, Z.C. and Goodel to facilitate data comparison
  3. Make contact with Ziarrara (see attached photo)
  4. If Ziarrara is unavailable, Xharrara or Syggl, her kin are also good contacts
  5. Ask to be guests
  6. Interview every host group member and take detailed notes
  7. See attached interview form from the CDE Argos Xeno-Anthropology division mission to Alpha Centauri
  8. Offer every development stage possible of the host group the emotional imaginary communication set
  9. The more mature individuals show most curiosity about visible media, especially watercolor paint
  10. The adults are more interested in building bricks, pliable textured metals, and felt boards
  11. The metamorphs are most interested in the beeswax-based polymers
  12. The interests of the Wannana-tadpoles are unknown but will be explored 
  13. Catalogue and discuss all products of both steps five and six to build relationships and answer key questions
  14. Assist in everyday food gathering and predation avoidance activities to the safest extent possible
  15. See reports from both the Peregrine and Argos Biology Divisions by Mallory, Z.C. & Goodel et al for a comprehensive list of possible hazards and means of navigating same
  16. Ask individuals with whom a rapport has been cultivated to complete both EEG and MRI testing over the course of various stimuli like emotional imaginary communication, ordinary conversation, and song.
  17. Offer to share all results and be explicit about activities to build trust
  18. If possible, explore how the estivation process is prepared for and conducted

PROPOSED RESULTS ANALYSIS & FUTURE DIRECTIONS: A full portfolio of imaginary communication projects as well as all interview notes and brain activity records will be tabulated for analysis by both the Peregrine Statistical Division and its Analytic A.I., Quest. The results will be prepared to present at both the CDE Conference at Io and the Intra-galactic Research Symposium. A better understanding of cultural development in a periodically xeric, high-predation-risk environment and the intersectional role of physiology, ecology, and social behavior in survival will enrich the Xeno-Anthropology discipline across diverse worlds. Silica is a singular world in the experience of the CDE. Creative approaches to cross-cultural communication are necessary to truly understand a society that defies easy comparison to known terrestrial experience and there is much that we can potentially learn to inform future CDE missions across multiple worlds.

~

Bio:

E.A. Lawrence’s fiction has been published in the anthology ROAR 7, edited by Mary E. Lowd and in the August 2020 issue of Electric Spec. She lives with multiple sclerosis and many fountain pens in the upper Midwest of the USA. When she’s not writing fiction, she works in academia as a scientist to support medical research.

The Minotaur’s Rebellion

by Ben Roth

The Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology

University of Athens

Greece

March 15, 2020

To the Editors:

Please find enclosed a submission to the journal concerning the myth of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth, in light of recent archaeological discoveries on Crete. I am well aware that such radical findings, coming from an unknown scholar such as myself, will be received with skepticism by the academic community, but I trust that your anonymous peer reviewers will examine the evidence presented carefully and dispassionately.

Title: The Minotaur’s Rebellion

Abstract: According to mythology, at the behest of King Minos, Daedalus built the Labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur, the offspring of Minos’s wife Pasiphaë and a white bull. Each year, seven young men and seven virgin women from Athens were forced into the Labyrinth, to be eaten by the Minotaur. Evidence from a recent archeological dig near the Palace of Knossos is presented.  Comparing the layout of the site to historical descriptions, it is argued that it is a plausible candidate for the long undiscovered site of the Labyrinth. Analysis of the extensive site’s middens reveals that it sustained a sizable population, and included open-air farming areas and fresh water sources. Reinterpreting certain artistic representations and offering possible translations of fragments of Linear A, it is hypothesized that the Minotaur’s father (i.e., “the Bull”) was actually a political dissident, his son imprisoned rather than killed by the king both out of deference to his wife and out of fear of fueling revolt. Over the course of multiple generations, the supposedly sacrificed Athenians, led by the Minotaur, created a self-sustaining community within the Labyrinth, which took up the Bull’s political cause. More speculatively, it is suggested that an eventual conflict between this community, emerging from the Labyrinth, and the surrounding one in Knossos might have contributed to the still unexplained decline of Minoan civilization.

Word Count: 9,752 words and eleven figures.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your decision.

                                                                                   Sincerely,

                                                                                   Nolan Robinson, Ph.D.

                                                                                   Adjunct Instructor of Anthropology

                                                                                   Western Massachusetts College

                                                                                   USA

~

Bio:

Ben Roth teaches writing and philosophy at Harvard. Among other places, his short fiction has been published by Blink-Ink and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, his criticism by Chicago Review and 3:AM Magazine, and his scholarly articles by the European Journal of Philosophy and Philosophy and Literature (forthcoming).

Some Facts Regarding The Temple Of The Bearded Man At Chichen Itza

by Paul Goldberg

Some Facts Regarding the Temple of the Bearded Man At Chichen Itza.

By Lester Tell[1]

At one end of the Great Ballcourt at Chichen Itza is the North Temple, also known as the Temple of the Bearded Man. On the back wall of this structure is a portrayal of a tall, fair-skinned, bearded figure that differs from the typical portrayal of Mayan warriors and priests. Through the years there has been speculation as to the origin and meaning of this image. It is known that the priests portrayed here are associated with the feathered serpent Kukulkan.[2]

E.H. Thompson[3] attributed the figure to a legendary Toltec chieftain who conquered the Yucatan. He was said to have been fair-skinned and bearded. His symbol was the feathered serpent. Other stories have come down through the years that spoke of visitations by fair-skinned bearded divinities.

We have come into possession of a document that suggests another possible explanation for the image at the North Temple. This document is comprised of fragments of a letter written by an obscure Kabbalist, Jacob Levi of Burgos, Spain. Jacob Levi was known later in life as Jacob the Blind.

Little has come down to us regarding Jacob Levi. He was born in 1098 in Leon; the date of his death is unknown. His name has been associated with Abraham Abulafia, a proponent of ecstatic Kabbalah. From descriptions found in the small amount of extant writing available, it appears that Jacob Levi was able to enter a mystical state by the contemplation of various combinations of Hebrew letters while exercising control of the breathing. This trance-like state was believed to result in one’s soul leaving the body with the ability to undertake a journey.

Jacob developed a small circle of followers, one of whom was Avner of Burgos. Avner was considered to be a Neo-Platonist. As is seen in much Neoplatonic writing, he speaks of reality as being generated by a series of emanations from the godhead. The Sephiroth—the Kabbalistic term for these emanations—were frequently imagined as taking the shape of a tree.[4] In Avner’s one surviving piece of writing there is the following reference to his teacher, Jacob the Blind:[5]

“Towards the end of his life, after the blindness overtook him, the master would speak of souls of the righteous taking flight and attaching to the tree.[6] As Jacob Levi, blessed be his name, spoke these words he would be overcome with ecstasy and wonder.”

Some theosophic aspects of Avner’s thought regarding the nature of the Sephirot appear to have been taken up by the Zohar, but the ecstatic aspects which Avner received from Jacob Levi were forgotten.

Jacob Levi most likely wrote the above-mentioned letter around 1130 C.E.[7] The contents illuminated some of Avner of Burgos’s comments regarding his master. It unexpectedly added another possibility as to the origins of the Bearded Man image on the North Temple at Chichen Itza.

Below are the salient parts of the material:

“In the year 4890 in the month of Elul with the help of the Holy One, may His Name be exalted, while contemplating the sacred letters in a certain way with the breath, I accomplished what I had long hoped for. My soul was separated from my body and I flew through the heavens as if in a chariot and visited a peculiar country. It was hot and steamy; overrun with greenery. In the city of this wondrous place was a pyramid such as existed in the land of Egypt from whence our Teacher Moses, blessed be his name, brought us forth.”

He goes on to describe his time in Chichen Itza where he encounters Kukulkan, the feathered serpent whom he associates with Samael, the serpent in the Garden of Eden:[8] 

“I sojourned there for 40 days and came to know the priests of the people of the city of that pyramid and saw many things, some wondrous, some evil. The city is large, filled with myriads of buildings and temples. Like the Moabites, the people engage in idol worship. There is a feathered serpent who flies through the air like Samael who descended into the Garden of Eden [may the Holy Name protect us from evil]. There are sacrifices made on an altar at the top of the pyramid and in a body of water. Heaven forbid that the words to describe the horror of these sacrifices should pass my lips.”

Presumably, Rabbi Jacob is referring here to human sacrifice which was known to have occurred both in a chamber in the pyramid [El Castillo] at Chichen Itza and in the ‘sacred cenote’.[9]

“We sat under the heavens and the priest told me that the bright band of stars across the night sky that we say is the river of fire from Daniel’s dream[10] was to them a tree where the world began. From this tree came forth all things that men know. When I heard these words, I looked up and saw the heavenly lights glittering with color. They began to swirl and dance and then there came into being a magnificent tree which we know to be the Sephiroth—the divine emanations of that which is beyond thought and words. This I saw with my own eyes.”

Jacob the Blind’s vision of the night sky is a representation of the Sephiroth as a tree. This is, as noted, a commonly occurring motif in Kabbalistic material. On the back wall of the temple is a representation of an elaborate tree said to be the Mayan version of the axis mundi—the ‘world tree’. Some Mesoamerican scholars believe the Milky Way, when in vertical position, was thought by the Mayans to be this ‘world tree’.[11]

The images inscribed on the temple wall are believed to portray a narrative of the ascension of the rulers of the city.[12] If Jacob Levi did indeed encounter the priests and inhabitants of Chichen Itza, the occasion of his visit might well be memorialized as the bearded man pictured on the wall of the North Temple.

The events related above, had they occurred, indicate a contact between Spain and the New World several hundred years before the era of the Conquistadores. Such events might also imply a Judeo-Mayan connection heretofore unrecognized.


[1] From The Modern Antiquarian: 49, pp. 140-144 [1994]. This communication was published by Dr. Tell in what was apparently the final issue of this journal. [P.E.G.].

[2] The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl.

[3] Journal of American Antiquities Society; October 1933

[4] See e.g. Sholem, G: Kabbalah, Keter Pub. House, Jerusalem, 1974.

[5] MS 127: Rider University Library.

[6] See Sefer Bahir 119 where similar language can be found

[7] Tell, L: Modern Antiquarian; 43; 1989, pp. 34-50.

[8] He [i.e. Samael] flies through the air [Targum to the book of Job]: The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

[9] For example see J. Eric S. Thompson: Maya History and Religion, 1970; University of Oklahoma Press. Norman, Oklahoma.  A cenote is a naturally formed sinkhole found in abundance in the Yucatan. Human remains and other sacrificial objects have been recovered from the ‘Sacred Cenote’ at Chichen Itza. Note: J. Eric S. Thompson is not to be confused with E. H. Thompson—see above. Both men were noted Mayan Scholars.

[10] Daniel 7:10 i.e. the Milky Way.

[11] Freidel, Schele, Parker: The Maya Cosmos. 1993; Quill, William Morrow. NY.

[12] Ibid. Freidel, Schele, Parker.

~

Bio:

Paul Goldberg is a practicing physician near Philadelphia (United States). He has a long time interest in the commonalities between myth and religion. He would like to explore how speculative fiction might work well when intentionally based on myth. This is his first publication.

The Rise And Fall Of Collective Consciousness

by Anthony Lechner

An Annotated Bibliography

The Antiquity of God Particles by Rene Pliggins

In this dry, yet fascinating history of what the ancients called mass particles or material existence (what we understand as monada, they crudely called matter), Pliggens explores a variety of competing theories that attempt to explain the nature of being. The 20th through 21st centuries developed a model of understanding that explored a variety of forces or fields consisting of electromagnetism, gravitation, strong interactions, weak interactions, and even a field where the rapid decaying of energy created material particles. Though it seems obvious why now, they were never able to unite all of these theories into one functional theory, I surmise the main problem with the ancients’ lack of understanding regarding the nature of existence rests in their myopic view of reality. Rather than exploring the internal structure and causation of consciousness, they were exploring the external effects of consciousness. It is like a child being distracted by pretty much anything within their field of vision. They focus on the phenomena rather than the internal components of what makes observation possible. Because they didn’t understand consciousness, they reduced it to brain chemistry without recourse to the common understanding of interdimensional ontology that is known today. Yet, the experimentations the ancients did with subatomic structures opened the door to the discovery of quark decimals.

The Discovery of QD: Quark Decimals by Stephany Critus

In this historical analysis, Critus argues that the discovery of quark decimals single-handedly started the movement of social justice. I admit, it is difficult to think of a conception of reality where QDs are not the starting point. QDs started the process of collective consciousness. QDs provided evidence that the universe continuously folds and unfolds itself endlessly. Like the notion of pi being a number whose decimal place is non repeating and infinite, the existence of consciousness is infinite (in both parts and whole). Although at this point in history, the understanding of monada was half a millennium away from being discovered, the implications of QDs in the creation of synthetic half protons is undeniable. After all, it was the union of these conscious particles that led to the half proton. To think there was a time that people believed in some sort of unconscious substance is absurd. Unconscious is the wrong term here, more like non-conscious. They actually believed consciousness was a myth. How is a civilization supposed to overcome the plight of pains, poverty, sickness, narcissism, and all the other long, lost and forgotten causes of everything wrong with society by believing that consciousness is a myth? It is a wonder how much sooner science would have progressed if ancient scientists weren’t so opposed to reality being consciousness itself. I conjecture the problem was within what they called the uncertainty principle. Ancient scientists failed to see commonality within various functions. They were too obsessed with difference to fully grasp the similarities within wavefunctions. There were not two non-conscious entities, but rather entities bonded through consciousness. There is no such thing as without. There is only within.  

The Modernization of Synthetic Half Protons by Sagorny Simone

Simone’s history of this time period is refreshing. While it is hard to believe there was once a time of violence, conflict, and misunderstanding, Simone shows the reader how the transformation, really the evolution, occurred. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to live in the first generation of the synthetic half proton users. To instantly feel the consciousness of not only the whole collective existence of humanity, but more specifically those in your immediate vicinity, especially in a time where pain, poverty, and persecution existed. These generations cured so many social injustices. It is one thing to speculate about the right way to live, and quite another to fully experience the consciousness of others and their lifeworld. While there was resistance at first to the mandates regarding synthetic half protons, the benefits outweighed the fear of losing one’s self. In fact, just the opposite happened. Individuality was heightened because there were no more marginalized people. Each life was experienced and celebrated. Personal freedom and growth needs the collective in order to properly come into fruition. Too much of history is shadowed by and rooted in fear. It wasn’t until all members of society installed the synthetic half protons that the concept of ethics became a historical triviality. It was the equivalent of having what the ancient’s called a divine mind. This is what they should have called the god particle, even though it was created by the work of humanity.

Monada and Interdimensional Ontology by Gottfried von Newton

Over 1,000 years (that’s over 40 generations) of collective consciousness passed by before the work of GVN brought forth the monada and undeniable existence of interdimensional beings. Even as a first-year secondary student, I am able to grasp what GVN called the horizon of monada. I perceive it more as a silent presence. The monada is the link between the other dimension, and I am almost there. It is consciousness itself, as far as I can interpret. GVN talks about the seeing. I’ve always imagined it is like seeing a big eyeball in the sky watching you, but I know that is not the case. And though I can perceive what my elders have experienced, I have not experienced it myself. I speculate there are levels of the synthetic protons, but I am not sure if they are activated by thoughts, biological age, or other worldly experiences. The monada is the link to the interdimensional being that is conscious of our existence – or perhaps created our existence. (This connects to Critus’ thesis that there are an infinite number of worlds.) When we become aware of the interdimensional existence, we become part of the unfolding, which is discussed in the last book I read for this project.

The Unfolding of Cosmos Generating: What It Means to Be Created by Ching Dao 

While the concept of a cosmic deity has existed since time immemorial, Dao became one. Dao was the first to create their own universe. At least the first human to do such. Dao argues that monada are more like units of consciousness that can be shaped or molded at will. The trick is in the unfolding—the way in which monada transverse through dimensions. The monada that make up our reality are the same monada from the interdimensional, which are the same monada Dao used to create a new universe. Creation is transformation, the union of opposites. Dao writes there is no precise location where left turns into right, large into small, or up into down. In like manner, there is no precision between the collective and the individual. From the collective we rise, and toward the individual we fall, only to rise again. The monada bind the opposing forces of consciousness. There is no existence without perception, and because of this truth, Dao affirms that each monada is capable of creating its own universe. Dao managed to unfold a billion years of creation from only 60 years of his own monada. The destiny of being created (being transformed) is to become the creator. I feel better equipped, after reading this book, to transform my monada into my own personal universe and watch it unfold.

~

Bio:

Anthony Lechner lives in Idaho, USA. He is a special education teacher and philosophy instructor.

Go Paleo!

by Louis Evans

So what IS the PaleoBomb™ diet?

While most diets have hard-to-follow rules and arbitrary restrictions, like “don’t eat anything green on Thursdays,” the PaleoBomb diet is real simple. In fact, we can describe it in a single sentence:

If your primitive ancestors didn’t eat it, neither should you!

Every animal’s nutritional needs are determined by the environment in which it evolved, and humans are no different! For modern humans, that environment was the blasted, apocalyptic wasteland that existed in the aftermath of the Cataclysm.

While creationist Beyoncists continue to insist that the Cataclysm was God Bey’s just and wrathful punishment upon a hateful world, which will eventually be reborn with Her glorious return, scientists today agree that, actually, the ancient pagan myths were right all along! The Cataclysm was a global thermonuclear conflagration that occured at the end of the Zero War and ushered in the world we know today!

Armed with this understanding, nutritionists have uncovered the diet that our ancestors relied on as they picked through the rubble of the destroyed civilization of the Dawn Age. And if you adopt this diet, you will have the same fitness success that allowed your ancestors to triumph over the roving bands of mutant badgers, and you, too can once more take your place at the top of the food chain!

The PaleoBomb diet breaks down into three major categories:

90%: Packaged Snacks

In the immediate aftermath of the Cataclysm, vast clouds of dust blocked out the sky, killing all plants. And while we’ve all seen classic pulp illustrations of wasteland survivors bravely hunting down rats, scientists now believe that the Cataclysm-era rats and cockroaches hunted each other into extinction within mere weeks.

With no access to fresh vegetables or meat, our ancestors relied primarily on processed and pre-packaged food from the Dawn Civilization. These food products were rich in dense calories, and would have powered our ancestors through hard days foraging for useful relics and nights fighting for limited room in makeshift underground shelters.

While many heritage snacks and flavored beverages have been lost forever, nutritional scientists believe that some modern snack foods nearly approach the same calorie densities of the Doereeto, or the fabled Twin-key. Make sure to get the vast majority of your daily calories from foods like SEISMOCRYSPS™ and NUKEPUFFS™.

Fun fact! The secret recipe for Coka Coala, long though lost in the Cataclysm, was recently rediscovered when the Ravagers conquered Atlanta to transform it into the “Agony Capital” of their “Empire of Woe”. You can now buy Authentic Dawn-Age Coka Coala POWERBEVERAGE from a RavageMart near you.

Truth in advertising laws require us to mention here that CROGDOR FOODS, the maker of both Seismocrysps and Nukepuffs, is the primary funder for the Paleo Diet Foundation. “Crogdor! The Name You Trust, To Nuke Your Puffs.” And if you can’t trust the geniuses that nuked your puffs, who can you trust?

9%: Cannibalism

Processed, prepackaged foods provided our wasteland ancestors with all the calories they needed, but humans also require proteins and other micronutrients that can’t survive the packaging process. What was their secret?

It is a well-known fact that any nutrient one human needs can be found inside another human. And the anthropological record is clear: our ancestors ate each other, a lot.

Fortunately, cannibalism today is a bit more genteel than the deadly game of cat and mouse played by two ancestral gas-mask-wearing desperados in the irradiated ruins of a city—though think of the cardio benefits! Nowadays, you can get “long pig” from any certified mortuary butcher in most major cities, and nearly every small town.

Fun fact! People used to call pork “short man”.

1%: Radioactive Waste

The final key ingredient of the PaleoBomb diet is radioactivity! While the best evidence suggests that our wasteland ancestors tried to minimize the radioactivity in their diet, today the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction! Because of the Decontamination Projects the average meal today contains literally zero detectable radioisotopes, and that’s far too few.

Many companies today will sell high-quality radioactive supplements at affordable prices, containing all the cesium-137 and iodine-131 your body needs. Or, if your budget is tight, you can just crack open your smoke detector for a quick bite.

[WARNING: Radioisotopes are known to the state of New New New California to cause cancer, birth defects, and Super-Mutant syndrome.]

Is that all?

No way! PaleoBomb’s not just a diet—it can be a whole lifestyle! For example, many people today complain of back pain. But did you know that our wasteland ancestors spent over half their lives hunched over in the subterranean tunnels of their underground shelters? The next time your spine starts aching, just make like a Cataclysm survivor and hunch! And there are countless more lifeways from the Wasteland Era you can adopt, from mutant-hunting to worship of dread atomic deathgods. The sky’s the limit!

PaleoBomb is a journey—from our healthier past, and to a fitter future—that we can all go on together! Remember the PaleoBomb motto: if your ancestors did it, it must be good for you.

~

Bio:

Louis Evans is a science fiction author living and working in NYC. Louis has previously been published in Analog, Escape Pod, Interzone, and other magazines, and is a member of SFWA and of the Clarion West class of 2020/2021.

Pedagogy Of The Disembodied

by Peter T. Donahue

Dear Educator,

Thank you for registering for Pedagogy of the Disembodied, a two-day webinar designed to provide you with both philosophical discussion and concrete takeaways for classroom practice.

The Connectome Mapping Disaster began in 2032, and it is now estimated that one in seven students in secondary classrooms (grades 9-12) is disembodied. This number is only expected to rise. With the aid of tablets, touch-input whiteboards, and other technology, many teachers have begun adapting their pedagogical approaches to the needs of cloud-based students. However, studies have shown a persistent achievement gap between flesh-and-blood and disembodied students.

This weekend, you will have access to the following sessions, presented by leading educators, school administrators, and psychologists:

Saturday, AM session

Differentiating Instruction for Mixed Bodied / Disembodied Classrooms

Presenter: Dr. David Lu

Many staple techniques in the classroom, such as hands-on activities, group projects, and even the process of note taking, are valuable because of what we know about how physically embodied students learn. Social context, muscle memory, even the spatial layout of a room all affect learning—if you have a body, that is. In this session, Dr. Lu will take participants through a series of classroom activities modified for the bodiless. Even if you are already employing many of these techniques, the session will be a valuable refresher.

Saturday, PM session

Are “Disembodied” Students “Disabled”?

Presenter: Jeanine Stackhouse

In an open discussion format, Ms. Stackhouse will present her controversial claim that disembodied students fare best in classrooms where teachers believe them to be disabled. “It’s not so much a question of the students’ abilities as a question of the teacher’s mindset,” says Stackhouse. In her trademark no-nonsense way, she will address questions about the psychological traits and beliefs of teachers who succeed with disembodied students. You may leave this session convinced that “Belief is a Muscle,” to borrow the title of Ms. Stackhouse’s blog.

Sunday, AM session

The Instructional Challenges of Non-bodied Ontological Schemas

Presenter: Dr. Gita Chowdhury

Many disembodied students have been in the cloud since early childhood, and thus have no physical experiences upon which to base their understanding of the world around them. Cloud-based students, Dr. Chowdhury argues, can’t be asked to “pick themselves up and dust themselves off” after a failure, or to “stretch themselves out of their comfort zones.” It is just as senseless to praise them for “knocking it out of the park.” Following a deconstruction of structural metaphors commonly used in the classroom, Dr. Chowdhury will guide you through a deep evaluation of the ways your language might perpetuate achievement gaps.

Sunday, PM session

Equity in Assessing Cloud-Based Intelligences

Presenter: Lorenzo Williams

The traditional constraints on test-taking — a secure room, a time limit, no access to online tools — has long been eroded by changing social and technological norms. Now, cloud-based students have rendered these restraints completely meaningless. In this session, participants must bring a quiz or test for workshop, and will leave with a valid asynchronous, aspatial, cheating-resistant assessment.

We are looking forward to working with you this weekend. Know that passionate educators like you are leading the way to a better future. As a disembodied person myself, I would not be where I am today without the patient, kind assistance of teachers like you.

Kind Regards,

Pamela Olenska v2.81

Director, Cloud Nine Educator Workshops

~

Bio:

Peter T. Donahue lives with his wife and children in New Jersey, where he teaches Creative Writing. He’s a southpaw, obsessive font-spotter, grapheme-color synesthete, and chronically dehydrated. His speculative fiction has appeared in Metaphorosis, Ripples in Space, and No Spider Harmed in the Making of this Book.

A Brief History Of Procrastination Theory

by Darren Goossens

Ludwig Wergenergener

Ph.D. (Oxon.), Dip. Ed.(Utrecht), D.Sc. (Knutsford)

The initial work on procrastination theory was begun in the late 1930s by Professor Bing Salinski of Edward Lear Memorial University, Chipping Ongar; but he never got around to publishing his results. His notebooks languished unnoticed in a desk drawer until an inquisitive postgraduate student reopened them in 1965. She then put them down again and had lunch. In 1979 the notebooks were passed on to the archival librarian of the East Thwurp Mechanics Institute, where the most recent research has taken place.

Salinski’s highly mathematical, yet uniquely desultory, treatment involves what he called ‘something or other, I’ll come up with a proper name later’, and which has since become known as ‘procrastinative calculus’. This is not procrastination as performed by an undergraduate but a specifically formulated branch of mathematics whose fundamental operations are indifferentiation and disintegration.

Salinski’s formalism has helped unveil the underlying physical nature of procrastination, and the nature of the procrastination field, a real physical vector field that interacts directly with neurons in the brain and, regardless of the position of the observer, is directed backwards at all points. The theory also aids in the construction of a classification scheme, in which we have oscillatory procrastination, known as dithering, and circularly polarised procrastination or ‘going around in circles’.

Fillingham, during his sabbatical year at East Thwurp, investigated second-order procrastination, whereby he procrastinated by discussing procrastination. One afternoon, when he was laid up with a broken leg and could find absolutely nothing else to do, he found time to formulate his laws of procrastination:

1) An object at rest will remain at rest if it possibly can;

2) Every inaction has a larger and opposite inaction;

3) This law has not been formulated yet.

And in his final, ground-breaking paper (which now sits under his coffee cup in his office), Fillingham showed, much to everyone’s relief, that we should not study procrastination theory as it is logically inconsistent to do so.

The E

~

Bio

Darren Goossens is a writer, editor and educator, based in Australia. He has published a little bit of short fiction, and coauthored some physics text books, in which he did not write about procrastination theory.

Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Directors of CYBIMPLANT INC held at 10:00 AM on 14 May 2036

AS RECORDED BY: RICK NOVY

PRESENT:

CHAIRMAN:

Kermit Sayman

PRESIDENT/CEO:

Louis Gormant

VICE PRESIDENTS:

Derek Fong

Khin-Khin Tanaka

Michel LaFond

DIRECTORS:

Jose Herrera

QUORUM: Met

AGENDA: (1) Action Regarding Delinquent Payments on Majority-Owned implant customers.

1.1  The board considered and unanimously approved the Draft Minutes of the meeting of 7 May, 2036 (DOC:CII-BM-20360507).

2.1  Mr. Sayman opened discussion of the first and only agenda item by displaying a graphic depicting the P&L figures for the current quarter. Cybimplant is bleeding capital and projections indicate a loss for the seventh consecutive quarter.  Mr. Sayman also reminded the board that Cybimplant has not issued a quarterly dividend for over a year, and B shares are at a historic low on the NASDAQ.

2.2  Mr. Sayman presented figures showing majority-owned customers as a percentage of all customers to be 7.2%, numbering 381,600 individuals. The percentage of delinquent accounts is 17%, numbering nearly 65,000 individuals at a total cost of over $90M in bad debt per month.

2.3  Mr. Sayman proposed Cybimplant implement a repossession program to recover the bad debt and bring the quarter into the black. He also suggested Cybimplant could initiate a secondary market program to monetize the repossessed implants.

2.4  Mr. Sayman requested open discussion on the agenda topic.

2.5  Mr. LaFond moved that the discussion of a secondary market program be tabled.

2.6  The board recorded its approval to table a discussion of a secondary market program.

2.7  Mr. Herrera asked Mr. LaFond for an approximate ROI on the cost of implementing and maintaining a repossession team. Mr. LaFond estimated ROI to be 41% during the first year, gradually dropping to a baseline of 15% over five years under a logistic function model.

2.8  Mr. Tanaka asked Mr. LaFond whether a 41% ROI would be sufficient to overcome the negative cash flow for Q2. Mr. LaFond said initial calculations indicate that as very likely.

2.9  Mr. Fong suggested shareholders will demand a dividend in Q3 if Cybimplant shows a profit in Q2. Mr. Gormant took the action item to write a shareholder letter to be mailed with Q2 results.

2.10 Mr. Herrera inquired whether a repossession program would include purchase plan delinquencies or be restricted to lease delinquencies.

2.11 Mr. Sayman reminded the board that purchase plan customers agreed to different language and expressed concern that the legal department would need beyond the end of Q2 to complete analysis and create language to justify repossession defensible in a court of law.

2.12 The board unanimously approved tabling a discussion of purchase plan delinquency repossession until the legal team completes its analysis.

2.13 Mr. LaFond requested clarification on whether life-critical implants would be included in the repossession program, as not including them might impact the ability of Cybimplant to eliminate the Q2 negative cash flow. Mr. Gormant reminded the board that lease customers must agree to all contract terms before an implant is installed, regardless of the implant purpose, and repossession of delinquent leased equipment is always a possibility in any industry.

2.14 Mr. Tanaka expressed concern that repossession of life-critical implants might result in a drain on revenues in the form of wrongful death lawsuit defense. Mr. Sayman stated that lawsuits are a recognized and budgeted cost of doing business and wrongful death lawsuits were expected to be well within acceptable numbers for the industry.

2.15 Mr. Gormant moved that the proposal be brought to a vote. The motion was seconded by Mr. Fong. The board recorded its unanimous approval of the creation of a repossession program for delinquencies under lease for majority-owned customers. Mr. Tanaka was given the action item to implement the decision immediately.

3.1 Mr. Gormant moved to adjourn. The motion was seconded by Mr. Herrera. The board adjourned at 10:38 AM.

~

Bio:

Rick Novy is an engineer by day and writer by night. He lives in Arizona. Learn more at ricknovy.com.

Red Card

by Madeline Barnicle

FIFA and the AUNZ organizing committee thank fans and players around the world for the trust you have placed in us. We look forward to hosting the following World Cup, and we trust that the forty-eight finalists will compete in the spirit of fair play and friendship.

After much deliberation, the organizing committee has declined to accept the application of the Autonomous Martian Territories (hereafter, “Mars”) to compete in the qualifying tournament. We recognize that this decision will be disappointing to many. This is a reflection of current FIFA policies, and we do not intend it to set a precedent for other sports governing bodies.

FIFA traditionally has six continental zones, or regions, from which teams qualify. (Because New Zealand will qualify automatically as co-hosts, and Australia are currently affiliated with the Asian zone, the remaining Oceania Football Confederation teams have been exceptionally drawn against other Asian teams for this tournament.) Mars, for somewhat obvious reasons, does not have an existing affiliation with any continental federation. This is not an insurmountable barrier, however; despite geographical constraints, Israel has been variously part of the Asian, Oceanian, and European federations.

Assuming an existing federation was willing to allow the Martian team entry, qualification would likely require them to play home-and-away legs against some or all of the other competitors in that zone. Many teams have voiced their opposition to travelling to space for competitive or even unofficial matches; notably, the friendly match scheduled between clubs FC Barcelona and Bayern München at the RoyCro Multiplex was cancelled after athletes expressed concern that the travel would needlessly disrupt their training regimen. Many fan organizations also noted that, while a potential revenue opportunity for the clubs, the match would have been played almost entirely in front of residents of the United States Lunar Territories and have been inaccessible to local supporter groups. After that controversy, national teams such as Scotland and Chinese Taipei preemptively declared they would not be willing to travel to matches in non-Earth areas until a more consistent policy was implemented for which teams qualified as “national.” (FIFA does not intend this document to resolve that question.)

We have been in consultation with the current Mars staff as they applied for participation. It was impossible to travel to inspect their stadiums or training facilities, as accepting funds for travel to Mars would have far exceeded the stipends permitted in the Transparency and Oversight Standards of 2033. However, the virtual reality reconstructions of these buildings suggest that they are well-maintained and in compliance with regulations. If and when travel to Mars is feasible for opposing teams, there will be little significant investment needed to bring the pitches up to international standard. The altered uniforms and artificial grasslike fields may present a challenge for visitors unused to this terrain, but it is not an unreasonable disadvantage since the pitch conditions affect both teams equally. Therefore, as with Bolivia’s high-altitude stadium, it should be possible to host games.

Fabrice Ekoko, a former manager of the Mars team, has stated that they would be willing to remain Earthside for several months to play their qualification matches in an abbreviated timeframe. The 2025 guidelines on scheduling international matches were written in the context of players who split time between their national teams and domestic clubs. Because the Martian league is not professionalized, we expect that clubs would be willing to release their players for such a compressed qualifying series, so the guidelines could be waived in this case.

However, we believe that the World Cup is not only a celebration of athleticism; it is also a celebration of national spirit. Regardless of its political status, a team unable to play any games in a “home” stadium in front of compatriots is not fully experiencing the opportunity for peaceful competition that the World Cup provides. There are a few exceptions, such as Iraq, where political violence has sometimes made home games impractical. Mars, however, is very socially stable and its population can experience spectator sport in venues other than the World Cup. Rather than make accommodations for a lessened experience, we believe Mars ought to wait until it has the transit infrastructure to play meaningful games against opposing teams, wherever that may be.

It is likely that, were the Mars men’s national team approved to participate in World Cup qualification, their women’s team would also apply to the next Women’s World Cup tournament. However, young men and women are not always on equal footing when it comes to interplanetary travel. Samples of liability contracts from Martian settlements such as Borealis III and 6 Noach suggest that many more women than men have voluntarily agreed to forgo extramartian travel as a condition of their sponsorship, due to concerns about the effects of radiation on egg cells. Certainly, the details of any specific individual, footballers or otherwise, are private matters. Nevertheless, in a roster of twenty-three healthy athletes, it is likely that at least one would be contractually obliged not to play matches on Earth. Giving male players the opportunity to repeatedly travel, when their female counterparts do not necessarily have that right, would be at odds with FIFA’s mission of promoting diversity in sport.

Other sports’ governing bodies have taken, and will continue to take, different approaches to extraterrestrial sport. For individual rather than team sports, it is increasingly likely that financially-independent athletes will travel to and from Earth in the course of their career. The IWF recognizes its own set of weightlifting records set on the moon and on Mars, which exist alongside the records set in Earth gravity. Table tennis player Sung Bowen competed as an Independent Martian Athlete at the last Summer Olympics. FIFA will continue to monitor the challenges and rewards of non-Earth football, but with the upcoming qualification cycle about to begin, now is the time to issue clear guidelines on eligibility. Questions may be directed to Eileen Bogaerts of the AUNZ team or Gabriel Lopez of FIFA.

~

Bio:

Madeline Barnicle holds a PhD in mathematical logic from UCLA, and now lives in Maryland. She enjoys worldbuilding fantastical settings, especially simulating their sports leagues.

How to Check if Your Peacekeeper-2000 Is Loaded

by David F. Shultz

Congratulations on your purchase of a fully-licensed Peacekeeper-2000 from Interplanetary Defense Innovations, LLC. The PK2Ktactical squad assault machinegun features fully automatic plasma discharge effective to 800 meters, built-in grenade launcher compatible with the full line of IDI minicell cartridges (please see attached ordering form 2A for tactical grenade options), and the artificial intelligence SmartKill(TM) system. The PK2K is your total peacekeeping solution.

Loyalty, duty, honor, purpose. IDI understands what it means to be a soldier. For more than three-hundred years IDI has provided peacekeeping solutions, combining cutting-edge developments in military science and technology from across the galaxy. We stood with the Terrans on Ceta-Gamma. We were there for the uprising on Ares-6. We are the leading supplier of armaments for the Alpha-Quadrant Allegiance, the only manufacturer approved by both the Cerulean Empire and the Legion of the Fallen, and the official sponsor of Captain Kelly Donovan and the Freedom Brigade. We are now proud to offer the PK2K assault model as our flagship assault weapon for close quarters combat.

You need a weapon that’s as reliable as you are, that’s as much a part of you as you are a part of your people (or faction). Whether you are a brave freedom fighter defending your homeworld of Yll’Risa from villainous imperial tyrants, or a noble soldier of the empire pacifying the terrorist rebel scum of Yll’Risa, IDI has solutions for your peacekeeping needs.

The PK2K is equipped with biometric fingerprinting to ensure that your trusted weapon does not fall into enemy hands. This is your weapon—it’s a part of you. If the PK2K does not recognize its user, it will discharge the fusion cartridge through our patented KILLoWATT system, neutralizing all threats within a radius of five meters. Upon initial activation, please follow calibration procedures to ensure the PK2K syncs with your identity. In accordance with standard assault weapon good practices, please ensure that your weapon is safely secured when not in your possession. IDI is not liable for any injuries and/or deaths to owner, family, squad members, or others as a result of accidental activations of the KILLoWATT system due to negligence of the owner or failure to follow weapon protocol as outlined in the full terms of your license.

Thanks to our AI SmartKill(TM) system, you don’t even need to pull the trigger — in Kill Assist mode, the weapon will discharge automatically during sweeps to maximize tactical advantage and lethality when directed towards legitimate combatants. The AI recognizes targets, accepts strategic orders from command, coordinates activity across squads, and maximizes the effectiveness of your unit, firing when you’ve got the perfect shot. The SmartKill system automatically tracks confirmed kills, facilitating strategic planning and promotion decisions. To reduce friendly fire incidents, your PK2K comes packaged with four IDI Friendly Forces ID chips (please see attached ordering form 2C for additional squad tag options).

Owing to our state-of-the-art power system, you never need to check if your PK2K is loaded! IDI‘s microfusion cartridge revolutionizes the industry, ensuring your weapon is always ready to serve — the ideal firearm for the ideal fighter. The cartridge is to a weapon what a warrior is to their country: indispensable. That’s why we’ve designed the PK2K cartridge with a microfusion reactor for maximum reliability, providing a usage of 20+ years under proper conditions, and a life-time replacement guarantee. If at any time your fusion cartridge is operating below performance specifications, simply return the damaged or malfunctioning unit for safe disposal and IDI will provide a replacement. You never need to worry about spent cartridges again.

As a licensed PK2K owner, you are eligible for our Galaxy Hero rewards program, which awards free equipment and supplies based on individual and squad standings in the SmartKill performance ladder. Simply activate the SmartKill system, and your confirmed kills will automatically place you and your squad in the competitive ladder. IDI is proud to recognize soldiers and squads for outstanding performance in the field. Don’t just be a hero—be a Galaxy Hero!

The PK2K model is affiliated with the Trans-Galactic Bounty Program. As a licensed owner, you may opt-in to the TGBP in order to earn galactic credits and bonus rewards. Your weapon will be updated with bounty data, including locations, targets, and credit values. If the SmartKill system is active, your PK2K’s legitimate target list will include active bounties, so you can begin supplementing your income with freelance work and improve your ranking in the Galaxy Hero ladder. IDI is here to help you do what you do best.

Thanks to myriad industry and government partnerships, IDI is able to offer extended support to licensed veteran users of any series-1 IDI ground-level product, including the PK2K. If you have been afflicted during the course of your service by PTSD, loss of limbs, death, or any approved ailment specified in form 17-D, you may be eligible for credit assistance. Simply submit forms 16 A-through-D to their respective organizations’ appropriate channels or representatives. Void where prohibited by law. Additional limitations and restrictions may apply. Consult your organization’s relevant information services or human resources representative for locally applicable rules and regulations.

~

Bio:

David F. Shultz writes speculative fiction from Toronto, Canada, where he manages the 600-member Toronto Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers group, and is lead editor at TDotSpec. His over-fifty published works are featured or forthcoming through publishers such as Diabolical Plots and Third Flatiron. David holds degrees in cognitive science, philosophy, law, and education. Author webpage: davidfshultz.com/about

John XX

by Timons Esaias

The nearly complete suppression of Pope John XX from the pages of history is unparalleled in all the long, sad story of censorship. So thorough and so widespread has this suppression been, that it now seems impossible to guess, with any precision, how long he reigned, or, more surprisingly, even when.

[Encyclopaedists attempt to dismiss the matter by claiming that a clerical error in the Liber Pontificalis assigned two dates to John XIV, and thus confused some of the papal catalogues. Oddly, it did not confuse John XV, John XVI, John XVII, John XVIII or John XIX. We are asked to believe that the Vatican — which keeps such careful record of its papal names that it accepts the numbers claimed by antipopes — somehow lost count. This is absurd, no matter how often this lame excuse has been reprinted. It is an argument for the ignorant, a Sunday School cant. No serious scholar accepts it. -Ed.]

Some historians have conflated the missing John XX with the legend of Pope Joan: the woman who supposedly gave such extraordinary lectures at the University of Paris (all the while disguised as a man) that she was elevated to the papacy. Elevated to the papacy without being first a Cardinal, and by a unanimous vote of the College. Previously those who believed the Pope Joan story attempted to identify her with a certain John Anglicus, putative successor to Leo IV, but he is not listed in the catalogues either, and the name is probably just a piece of the same legend. Attempts have been made to tie her with other popes of known date (John XVII, Clement III) including, rather outrageously, Pius XI (in the 20th century!). Nonetheless, it is tempting indeed to conflate one unlisted pope with the other, especially when the names Joan and John are gender versions of each other.

Increasing the allure of this hypothesis that she was John XX is that the story of Pope Joan is first recorded in the 1240s. This creates a space of two centuries after the death of John XIX (in 1032) into which to insert this elusive reign, which is said to have ended in childbirth, exposure and violent death.

While this period most likely does enclose the suppressed reign of John XX, recent archeology reveals that “Pope Joan” is an updating of a legend from pre-Republican Rome. It seems that a woman infiltrated the office of pontifex maximus, a religious desecration so heinous that its discovery would require the immediate execution of the defiler, just as modern legend preserves.

Scholarship having thus deprived us of this easy solution to the problem, and endless hours of research among all the chronicles of medieval Christendom having uncovered as yet no clear candidate for the missing prelate, it would be beneficial, some think, to examine this question from the other end. From the cause.

What would lead the Church to utterly eradicate the name of one of its leaders from history?

History records many attempts to expunge certain figures from memory. Akhenaton attempted to replace the names of all the gods with that of Aten, and in his turn had his name chiseled out of monuments by his angry polytheistic successors. But neither attempt was sufficiently thorough. We still know the names of Akhenaton and the gods that ruled the earth before his birth.

King Arthur of Britain suffered considerable suppression by the Church, and his name is found in none of the chronicles preserved by monks. In Gildas, for instance, his battles are described and his government discussed, but it is as if the ruler of the Britons had no name. It is from Welsh poems that we know the name of Ambrosius’s successor, and from some Saint’s Lives that suggest the cause of the suppression of his name. In these tales Arthur is the bad guy, trying to extract taxes from the Church. In retribution, the Church moved to make his very name vanish. Again, however, they failed. We know Arthur’s name, and battles, and rough dates.

In the most recent century we have again seen this impulse to censorship in action, but despite the best efforts of the Soviet Encyclopedists, we still know the name of Beria, and that of Trotsky, and all the other original revolutionaries whom later leaders sought to outshine.

In these, and many other such cases — despite the best efforts of those who sought to erase — we know the names. Just as we know the names of many anti-popes through the ages, no matter how heretical or fraudulent or evil their rival rule.

But of John the Twentieth we have nothing, nothing but a blank in the papal lists, a missing designation between John XIX and John XXI. This suggests that his crime, if crime it was, must have been worse than mere political rivalry; worse than attempted taxation; worse than doctrinal originality; worse than heresy; and far, far worse than being a woman.

There are three main schools of thought on this issue, but all agree that whatever the cause of this suppression, John XX’s time on the papal throne must have been short. A reign of years, perhaps even of months, would have left traces even the most conscientious pursuer would not have found. Communications in those days were simply not reliable enough to enforce an order to suppress a name, and Church and royal rule was insufficiently rigorous for such a task. We would be more likely to find copies of the order to suppress the name than to find the name’s complete absence.

The primary theory (called the Berne Conjecture, after the location of its original proponents) is that Pope John XX was discovered to be worse than a mere heretic. Had he been a secret Jew or Muslim, however, this would have provided the Church an excuse for burnings, exiles, or new Crusades; none of which it shrank from using in this period. A practitioner of the Black Arts, or an alchemist, on the other hand, might have been a greater problem. In the mind of the public a woman, or a Jew, or a heretic might become Pope through deception. While deplorable, it casts no clear stain upon the office; and in those days before the Pope became infallible the fallibility of the College of Cardinals might be sensitive but it was not crucial.

But the first thought one has when hearing that the Pope was an alchemist or sorcerer is different. One is inclined to leap to the conclusion that it was special powers that brought him to the office. And this, goes the line of reasoning, threatens the office itself by implying the supremacy of magic over religion. Just as Peter gave short shrift to Simon Magus, so might the protectors of his throne to a magician successor.

Another theory, objected to as somewhat fanciful by sober theological historians, has nonetheless gained currency among Charismatics and Sanctificationists. Regarded as “New Age” by some critics, and as derivative of Dostoevsky by others, it predates both. A Dutch follower of Swedenborg, one Luther Diogenes Kuyptmann, wrote a short commentary on his master’s Arcana Coelestia in which he contended, in a brief footnote written in awkwardly phrased modern Latin, that John XX had been a heavenly angel. This angel, Kuyptmann asserts, lasted less than a day as Pope. Having declared it his purpose to divest the Church of both its property and temporal power, he was immediately dispatched (how one dispatches an angel is not made clear) by an outraged Curia.

Though the source of this story is unclear, and many attribute it to an unrecorded vision of Swedenborg, it has proven surprisingly resilient over the years. At least three separate scholars have visited the Vatican Archives in the last decade in an attempt to find corroboration; and there was a report in the 1950s that the KGB had found proof of the matter in a Russian Orthodox library, but nothing of this has surfaced in the post-Soviet era.

Those who have given serious consideration to this claim argue that the Church could easily have insisted that the angelic impostor was in fact a demon, and dispensed with the need for suppression. A similar argument can be applied to the last contending theory, except that in this case, unlike that of the reputed angel, there might have been awkward physical evidence to deal with. Evidence that might still reside in the bowels of Paris.

The hints upon which this third conjecture were first based are to be found in certain odd passages in both the Summa Theologiae and the Summa contra Gentiles of St. Thomas Aquinas. Amidst the discussions of such questions as How many angels can stand on the head of a pin?, or In the same place?, and Whether they have corporal bodies? are scattered several surprisingly modern inquiries. Aquinas asked whether “Intelligences live among the celestial spheres?” and “Can those in the upper air move from place to place without the passage of time?” and, rather intriguingly “Can the bodies of those who live among the fires of the upper air be burned while alive?”

Theologians over the years have tended to neglect these passages as of minor relevance, and a search of the standard database reveals no doctoral theses on these items, or any published paper in the last two hundred years. My own copy of Aquinas has a rather lame footnote suggesting that some of Marco Polo’s stories had raised questions about flying people and other fabulous types of humans and demons, hence these odd interludes.

Aquinas (1225-1274) lived in the last part of the period in which John XX can be assumed to have ruled, dying just two years before the investiture of John XXI. Just as his questions concerning angelic messengers remind the modern reader of a discussion of photons (no mass, instantaneous travel), so these questions make the modern reader think of extra-planetary aliens.

And if a true non-human from the sky was discovered in the papacy, this might give rise to a reaction of secrecy and suppression. This might especially be so if the problem was ongoing, even after the alien pope had been replaced.

Specifically, the question about a creature from the sky having a body that can’t burn while alive has encouraged a few thinkers to imagine that an auto-de-fé of the offending prelate had in fact been attempted. And failed.

One need look no further than the Vatican’s own art collection to find possible supporting evidence for this. A number of anonymous works, all dating from after 1180, as well as the works of known painters (3 Titians and 2 Botticellis, and a Theotokopoulos among them) right into the Renaissance contain an iconographic character, always in the background, known in art circles as The Chained Figure. His body is hulking, despondent, and his head usually shrouded, helmeted or hidden in shadow. He has typically been referred to as a symbol of sinners not yet redeemed by Christ, but there is no predecessor for such an image before the late 12th century, and it entirely disappears from Catholic art simultaneously with the shameful treaty of Pisa in 1664, in which the Pope surrendered abjectly to the demands of Louis XIV.

This is the precise time that the famous Man in the Iron Mask appears in French documents, imprisoned at Pignerol. This prisoner would die in the Bastille in 1703 and be buried (not traditionally cremated) in great secrecy.

Could Aquinas, the supporters of this Contact Conjecture ask, have been discussing a very specific case, one known to him personally? And could a man from the sky have somehow been made Pope, been discovered, dethroned, expunged from history, unsuccessfully burned at the stake, imprisoned, and have lived perhaps another 500 years?            

But that would be, as Montaigne used to say, altogether too fantastical.

~

Bio:

Timons Esaias is a satirist, poet, essayist and short fictionator. His works have appeared in twenty languages. He won the Asimov’s Readers Award and the Louis Award for poetry and was a finalist for the BSFA. He teaches in the Seton Hill University MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. He reads more than is probably good for him, sometimes in languages that have long ago died. Interests include chess, aikido, maritime history and military history. He spends entirely too much time inspecting coastal fortifications. People who know him are not surprised to learn that he lived in a museum for eight years.

Catalog For A Dead Planet

by Andrew Gudgel

Notice of an Auction of the Estate of Evelyn Chen-Ortiz

Auction Date: May 23, 3985, 1600-2100 hours. Preview May 21 and 22, 1200-1700 each day.

Location: Hillis Auctions, 567 Main Street, Suites 16a-c, Milwaukee, Republic of Wisconsin.  Map.  Directions.  Contact.

All items obtained off-world warranted to have passed through certified biological and/or radiological decontamination. All sales subject to a 15% buyer’s premium plus applicable taxes.

The highlight of this Auction is a collection of artifacts discovered on January (Beta Aquarii V) by John Barron Chen as part of his initial, privately-funded exploration of the planet (3880-3882). The following objects were part of Chen’s personal collection until his death in 3919 and have remained in the family until now. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own one or more of the only items from January still in private hands, and provenance documents signed by the Chen-Ortiz family will be provided for any item upon request. Please note that export of these items to countries not signatories of the UN Convention on Interstellar Artifacts is prohibited, documentation notwithstanding.

Lot No. 44 — Description: Chinese-style Beitie stone rubbing of a frieze in the “Temple of Two Monsters.” Framed, 1.0 meters wide by 2.0 meters long. Produced by Chen himself using Terran paper and Chinese calligraphy ink. Scene depicts rows of Januarians, first two pairs of forelimbs upraised, flanking an altar (?) upon which is heaped a possible food offering. Incised lines reach down from a sphere, perhaps indicating fire or divine power appearing above the offering. Estimate: 10000-12500 Standard Units.

Lot No. 72 — Description: Caftan 2.4435 meters long, 0.613 meters wide including sleeves, made of a blue synthetic polymer similar to nylon with quilted-in patches of unknown gray animal skin. Believed to be a ceremonial robe for clan gatherings or possibly clerical garb, as this artifact was removed from a single individual found facing a “congregation” of other individuals in a small building near the center of the city, believed to be a social hall or small temple. (Nomura’s theory that the garment is a cooking apron is unlikely, due to the low melting point and flammability of the synthetic cloth used in this item’s manufacture.) Other examples contain quilted-in material, but the use of animal skin in this caftan is unique. Estimate: 25000-35000 Standard Units.

Lot No. 93 — Description: Pair of Tannoak seeds. Identification of the plant that produced these seeds is tentatively accepted from iconography in multiple temple friezes. Found together, the wear patterns on the surface of each seed and the purposeful treatment with multiple coats of lipids indicate they may have been rolled against one another as the Januarian equivalent of stress balls or worry beads. Biochemical examination reveals that neither seed is viable. This is likely due to the sterilizing effects of gamma-ray pulsar PSR Q2132-0535 which passed through the Beta Aquarii system approximately 500 years ago. Estimate: 5000-10000 Standard Units.

Lot No. 98 – A “Singing Crystal.” Description: A single 1.629cm x 1.629cm x 1.629cm, slightly cloudy, off-white crystal composed of over 21 discrete chemical elements. Scanning the crystal with blue laser light between 4250 and 4500 angstroms produces exitons and polaritons which, as they collapse, produce an acoustic phenomenon described by Lauren Wilkerson, expedition xenotechnologist, as sounding like “a combination of chimes and a gently babbling stream.” Evidence of atomic-level manufacture indicates the object had some other primary/secondary purpose, perhaps data storage. Estimate: 35000-50000 Standard Units.

Lot No. 102 – “The First Skull.” Description: Skull of a Januarian in sapphire-glass case with rosewood base and brass mounts. This is the original object collected by Chen himself in the Necropolis. Sealed in shatterproof sapphire-glass and stored in a Carbon Dioxide/Nitrogen mixture that simulates the atmosphere of January to prevent degradation of the bone through oxidation. Prominent “Chief Ridges” located between the central and lateral eye sockets and the oral grinding plates indicate what is believed to be the status/mating hierarchy of the individual within the social collective. The rosewood base and brass mounts were added by Chen the year after his return to Earth. Estimate: 100000-150000 Standard Units.

Lot No. 204 — Description: Two Codices written in an undeciphered Januarian script. Both items roughly 22.5cm by 30cm. The first codex is hand-written on 162 folded and linked panels of a thick paper made of organic material and bound in wooden boards. Carbon dating adjusted for Januarian historical CO2 uptake rates and conducted after the item’s return to Earth indicates a manufacture date of approximately 650 years before the exploration of January. Rubrication of initial letters in each “chapter” and the general quality of both materials and workmanship further suggest the codex was a religious text, possibly either a family heirloom or a collector’s item. Codex includes a later, tipped-in illustration of two suns—one violet-black, one yellow—rising over a mountain range, possibly a representation of PSR Q2123-0535’s passage through the stellar system. The second codex consists of nine folded and linked panels machine-printed on a thin paper of synthetic fibers. Illustrations inside suggest it may be a user’s manual for a piece of communications technology not yet discovered. Estimate: 20000-35000 Standard Units.

Lot No. 208 — Description: A doll. Made of a green and black organic cloth 0.4 meters long with three black glass beads for eyes. One bead “eye” unlike the others, likely a later replacement. The individual depicted appears to be an idealized, non-gendered Januarian as fore- and hind-limb pairs terminate only in rounded “hands” and “feet.” Fabric well-worn (well loved?) with some fading of the dyes and dirt stains on the soles of the hind limbs. Roughly two-centimeter repair on belly, possibly the owner’s handiwork, using black synthetic thread. Removed from a small, unmarked grave just outside the entrance to the Necropolis. Estimate: 2500-5000 Standard Units.

~

Bio:

Andrew Gudgel is a freelance writer and translator. His fiction has appeared at Writers of the Future, Flash Fiction Online, Escape Pod, InterGalactic Medicine Show and other publications. He lives in Maryland, USA, in an apartment slowly being consumed by books. You can find him at www.andrewgudgel.com.

Regarding Bridges

by J. L. Royce

July 6th, 1918

To the Editors –

Regarding The Bridges to the Island of Manhattan, and Corpses Depending therefrom:

I write to object in the most strenuous possible terms to the substance and tone of the editorial which appeared Monday last in this newspaper, entitled ‘The Crisis of Leadership’.

Since the very beginning of our first term, my administration has endeavored to strengthen our city: to root out the rot of Tammany corruption, and prepare America for its role in the War that consumes Europe. In the ‘puzzling’ election of November last (and despite political machinations) the people voted to stay the course. And now, strengthened, we face together an unprecedented challenge, a Crisis of Nature.

Let me first extend my sympathy to the families of all those affected. Our hearts go out to you, and all those suffering the consequences of this bizarre epidemic. Next, I thank our Police and militia forces, who are on the front line of our emergency every day.

This return of our dearly departed represents an event unprecedented in human experience. Science can and will arrive at an explanation—moreover, a solution—to this affliction.  But the medieval proposal cited in your editorial, to suspend these undead still writhing piteously from the superstructure of bridges and other public works of our Fair City as a ‘solution’ to this plague is unsupported by anything but superstition.

Interdiction at the bridges has already been established, as well as Neighborhood Watches. Yet certain groups propose the barbarous practice of gibbeting as a deterrent to the undead phenomenon. These vigilantes have taken it upon themselves to capture and display the undead in this fashion, aided and abetted by those who would see this administration torn down.

And where is our humanity, in proposing that these unfortunates, after capture, be put on public display? We become no better than the horror that we face. The fallacy should be apparent: the undead lack the power of reason, and respect no deterrent save for brute force. But of course, this ghastly display is a warning not to the dead, but the living.

Need I remind any of your readers that it is the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Great War who, through no fault of their own, first became the unthinking, puppet-like mob now shambling through Europe? Rising from their rude graves in the French countryside, they spread the contagion, through contact with the living, around the world. And now that this threat has reached our shores, those same Isolationists who sought to prevent America’s intervention in Europe would stigmatize our returning soldiers as possible plague-carriers!

We must not lose faith. Consider the threat posed by influenza – had medical science not fortuitously isolated the responsible virus within months, a catastrophe of global proportions might have developed. These same medical minds are already hard at work on this latest challenge.

I trust the readership will join with me in denouncing as unscientific any harmful ‘solutions’ such as this, and will put their faith, as I have, in American Science to solve this mystery and provide us all relief. When the Allies prevail (as they surely will) and our brave troops return, it must be to adulation, not superstition and fear. My recent re-election tells me that there is no ‘crisis’ in leadership, and I intend to do everything in my power to see our City through this emergency.

(Signed)

John Purroy Mitchel

Mayor, New York City

~

Bio:

J. L. Royce is an author of Science Fiction and macabre writings (and whatever else suits his fancy) residing in the upper American Midwest. Some of his other publications may be found at amazon.com/author/jlroyce.