Thursday, March 23, 2017


Zeta Vaucouleurs Kyklos 1c
By E.S. Wynn (on Zero Dusk)

Waves of kinetic wake rumble through your ship's phasedrive as you drop out of between-space and into orbit around a pristine, blue-green orb set like a jewel against the backdrop of a yellow sun aging towards orange. A single cratered, white-gray moon follows the dusk line across the face of the world, its pitted face stitched with the vinework of a shining, silver-blue metropolis that glows amidst the lunar sands. A massive network of linked organic and synthetic minds reaches out to you, receives you and connects with you with all the warmth and love of a huge, psychic hug. This world is conscious. It recognizes you as one of its children, one of the nodes returning to the center of the network.


Carefully conditioned and controlled, the cradle of humanity is a pristine park at the far edge of Kyklos, The Milky Way Galaxy. Almost the entire population lives in orbit, digitized minds and stored bodies connected to the network, all hurtling around the gorgeous garden world, forever looking down, studying, pouring over records, never able to actually touch the world that birthed their ancestors.

Gentle queries and offers come in, lead to a database of virtual planetside tours lovingly constructed by humanity's most respected historians. Curious, you briefly browse the tours on tap, sink for a moment into interactive feeds that showcase everyday life in Ancient Rome, Information Age New York and Detroit's own “Rockin' 2270's.” There are lives to be lived in every period in human history, every country that ever rose and fell, every city, every strata of old civilization. A mind could spend a hundred thousand years living virtual lives here, getting to know everything that was Earth before the cities were scrubbed from the surface and remade as forests, before humanity rose and spread its wings to seed the stars. Curious, you dip into a few of the feeds, live a couple years here and there in the space of a handful of fleeting minutes, soak in the sounds, the smells, the duties and dangers that were ever-present and real in those long-ago times. Minds in Earth orbit suggest other interactive tours based off your decisions, preferences and memory patterns, but you turn them down politely. Earth is not new territory. Earth is not the frontier anymore, and there is still so much more to see among the stars that wait in the deeper reaches of the cosmos.

Grateful for the warm welcome, the hospitality of the caretaker minds in orbit, you let your gratitude ring across the orbitals that comprise the center of the network, watch as digital joy spreads from soul to soul, brings a soft and equally grateful response. The mother, the collective Terran spirit and lovingly restored world smile at you as one as you depart, as another child of Earth turns and ventures back into the stars seeking new knowledge, new experiences to share with humanity, with the network that binds you all together so fluidly.

Return when you can, she says, and then you're gone, back into the rushing wash of between-space.

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E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print. Explore more alien worlds on Zero Dusk.

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