Archive for evolution

The Time Machine

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2012 by javedbabar

“The Time Machine has an underground theme,” said a member of the production crew, “and we could have some fun with special effects. It would be like Doctor Who in 4D! It gets my vote for next month’s show.”

“What about 2001: A Space Odyssey?” said Danny. “We could really make something of that last bit, with the crazy colours and blinking eye.”

Sophie was proud of the QARY project’s success. Converting the old quarry into a venue for multimedia shows had been her baby. She was looking for a show to complete the second season; the short list comprised The Time Machine, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984.

The latter two had been discounted. Fahrenheit 451 because its flames would be too disturbing underground, and 1984 because its world of tiny apartments, two-way screens, media brainwash and endless wars, already existed. People may as well stay at home.

Sophie said, “Okay, who wants Time Machine?” Some hands rose. “Two Thousand and One?” A few less. “The Time Machine wins. So as we discussed, there are three main journeys. The first is the table top model disappearing in front of the inventor’s dinner guests. It’s a minor plot point but we could beef it up. The second journey is the one to 802,701 A.D., where he meets the Eloi and Morlocks. That’s the main part of the story. The third journey is the one thirty million years into the future, where he sees a dying earth and menacing red crablike creatures, and black blobs with tentacles.”

Danny said, “Will we have use of the third chamber for the show?”

“Good question. The renovation of the third chamber is almost complete, but we have unresolved health and safety issues, in particular black mould. Hey, maybe we could use that to bring the black blobs to life.” The production crew chuckled.

Danny had been difficult initially, but was now her most helpful crew member. Even though his favourite idea hadn’t been chosen, he was right back to 100% commitment on the idea that had. He said, “We could use the two main chambers to create Eloi and Morlock worlds. That would give them scale and depth. The inventor’s home is only there for framing than story. We could create it in the entrance area, or even by narration alone.”

Sophie thought, yes, that would work. The thrust of the story is the ultimate result of modern industrial relations. Bosses and workers became distinct classes of people with little in common, something Wells was very worried about.

The best way to show this would be to create two different worlds. Sophie directed the crew to focus on this separation in a modern context. She told them to create opulent and restless worlds.

The Eloi world was very bright. There were small communities of happy elfin people in large futuristic buildings. They performed no work, just spent their lives at ease, laughing and playing, whilst consuming a healthy, fruitarian diet.

The Morlock world was dense and dark. The noise of grinding machinery was everywhere as evidence of their constant industry. Stocky, brutish people moved around in a threatening manner, awaiting their chance to catch and eat you.

On opening night Sophie noticed something disturbing. Unlike previous shows, people were not moving between the chambers. Professional people reclined in the Eloi area, while unskilled workers and their families walked around the Morlock world. It seemed the process of social degeneration was underway.

Meaty Plants

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2012 by javedbabar

As Lucerne’s Building Control Officer, Shama’s remit was residential, commercial and industrial building. He was not responsible for agricultural building. Bona fide farmers could build whatever they wanted to provided it served a purpose.

He did however have a watching brief. So when he wasn’t busy he would drive around, looking, to keep his new empire in check. This was his second week in the job, and he wanted to stay on top of things.

At first he thought it was a trick of the light. Bright fragments shone around the valley at dawn, illuminating bluffs and gleaming across forests. The sun was catching something large – what was it?  The source seemed to be away from the road – where was it?

More driving around indicated that it was likely the Old Percy Farm. He’d heard that the old fella had passed it on to his son, who had returned from Africa to live here. He’d also heard that the son was sci-fi author Balthazar O. Percy, one of whose books Shama had read in his teens. He recalled it being very strange, barely comprehensible stuff.

There was a gate and buzzer, newly installed. He was about to press the button when the gate opened itself. Was it an automatic gate? Then he saw the discreet camera built into the gate post. Somebody had let him in.

Shama followed the driveway, winding around a slough, and through a patch of forest. Why people built their homes so far from the road, he had no idea. What a waste of time and energy every time you went to town. Anyway, that was their choice, to hide.

A shaven-headed man stood on the road ahead of him, clapping. He increased his speed of clapping as Shama approached, and then moved and stood to the side.

Shama pulled up beside him. “Hello, I’m Shama, the new BCO. I’m familiarizing myself with the area. I hope you don’t mid me paying you a visit.”

The man was wearing grey overalls, and seemed like a prisoner or factory worker. “Not at all. Welcome to the ranch. I am the owner, Balthazar O. Percy. Would you like to look around?”

Shama spotted a vast greenhouse on the edge of a far field. At first glance he’d say the greenhouse covered an acre. It could be even more than that.

“Ah! I see the greenhouse has caught your eye. Let’s start with that. This is my personal project. I’ve wanted to do it for years. Now that Dad has passed the farm over to me, I am…”

Shama saw something moving inside. It didn’t seem like a person.

“… trying some new ideas. This valley has plenty of nutrients which could provide the ideal human diet, if only humans could absorb them. Animal production is very wasteful, they eat more then they produce. Plants are somewhat fickle, one flood or frost and they’re gone. I’m developing a new green food source, meaty plants.”

Shama could swear that one of the plants was looking at him.

“If the valley floods, they’ll swim. If it’s frosty, they’ll huddle. If there’s a fire, they’ll escape. They are independent and will ultimately create their own ecosystems. When nuclear war comes – we all know it is inevitable – they may even outlive us, and begin a new evolution stream, but right now they are fragile and need protection. That’s what the green house is for.”

Shama thought, I wonder how soon before we’ll need protection from them?

Hydrostatic

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2012 by javedbabar

The new owners of the Lucerne Valley Hotel were forward thinking. They wanted to get ahead of the regulations and the competition, so embarked on a programme of sustainable renovation focussed on recycling and energy efficiency. Grants from The Authority made the project viable.

They began with structural adjustments. They removed non-load bearing walls and replaced them with expansive windows. Their passive solar strategy would allow more sunshine to enter the building, reducing both lighting and heating bills. Appropriately angled overhangs were constructed so the sun didn’t boil guests in summer.

They added extra insulation to retain both heat and cold, according to seasonal requirements, and sunk pipes filled with refrigerant into the ground to create a geothermal field. On the roof they added solar-electric panels, solar hot water tubes, and a small wind turbine. In the basement were a methane digester and wood pellet heater, plus stations to recharge the hotel’s electric cars. They were confident of a Class One Superior Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER).

The Energy Auditor had many good things to say about the Lucerne Valley Hotel. However, he said that he could only give them a Class Two SEER. Water – more than sun, wind, methane or wood – was the hot topic these days. The province sold most of its fresh water to America. What remained was a valuable commodity that must be preserved. The Energy Auditor’s report said, “Overall, a credible performance, but evidence of much water wastage. If this can be addressed within thirty (30) days, the establishment will receive a Class One SEER.”

The new owners were keen to gain this Class One rating. They planned to make it their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) at the heart of all marketing activity.  It would boost the current message of “Lucerne Valley Hotel. Your home is our home, that’s why we treat the earth right.”

TJ was asked to look into the matter. He wondered if it was possible to create a completely sealed environment where all water was recycled and reused. He looked at the logistical methodologies of Bedouins and astronauts, who seemed far apart but shared the same respect for water. To both it meant life or death, so they conserved and reused all fluids possible.

How would this translate to the hotel? He explored the categories of water running through hotel systems: blue (drinking), grey (washing), brown (soiled), green (nutrient-rich), light (ionized), and heavy (irradiated) waters. How best to combine them into a hydrostatic system?

The staff and guests added complexity. Each had different human/android proportions with particular humidity and hydration needs. Sealing water into a hotel super system may seem strange. People would feel rusty inside, which was a common psychological/technological condition. And too much focus on water wasn’t right. Humans were evolving into robots. Why make them devolve into fish?

The Squirm

Posted in Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by javedbabar

The squirm was warm, wriggling in juices; it was so easy and cosy, just hanging around. There is a difference between being aware and being conscious. The squirm was aware of its sensual context, but not capable of conscious thought.

How had the squirm arrived in this situation? It was difficult to say. Had it made a crazy journey from somewhere, inching along, or had it been swimming along? The time before the journey was unknown; maybe it didn’t exist, or maybe it was an impossible conception of time; the squirm couldn’t know; it was alive but not conscious.

The squirm had been growing rapidly. It doubled, quadrupled, octupled, and whatever comes next, till it was now 128 times its original size. This critical mass triggered an autonomous reaction; the squirm’s resources were depleted and it needed nourishment and a safe place to settle. The squirm’s outer parts reached for a hold, found a good spot and anchored, then reached in further and formed a permanent attachment. The waters rushing past it were a hazard, and it needed to be away from their flow; if they caught him again, they would take the squirm past the pool of possibility into the dead zone. It was already weakened and fading fast…

The squirm’s outer parts tapped nourishment, and it quickly revived; there was a great rush through its body, too much to bear initially, and it became disorientated. Then the flow settled and its awareness evolved.

There came a new sensation, a conscious germ. The squirm had connected to its maker for the first time since becoming a full being. Its origins were an egg about to be released by its dark-maker, but activated in time by its light-maker, to become a whole squirm capable of undertaking its first journey alone.

The squirm’s conscious flash revealed that after conception comes incarnation; there is a moment of decision when a spark of life becomes anything it chooses. It has the love of its dark-maker and the support of its light-maker, but is in truth an independent being. At the moment it rejoins its source, the squirm’s cosmic form is decided.

The human race is encoded with essential knowledge; awareness of every sentient being. Algae, fish, lizards and monkeys are ancestors; ants, cows and eagles are relatives. At inception, every possible life form flashes through our minds – amoeba, worm, fish, cow, snake, ape, lion, bear, whale, human – and further possibilities: superhuman, artificially intelligent being, empowered neural network, planetary, galactic, and cosmic being.

Two Laws of the Universe decide our form. The Law of Attraction calls forth our desires to manifest corporeally. The Law of Karma defines just possibilities of being.

At that moment of connection to its source, the squirm could become anything. It’s previous form as an organic farmer in India was cut short by debts to chemical companies, leaving no option but to commit suicide to end this bondage, and free his family from debt.

This ending of life was performed selflessly; a chance was given to begin life again in a better place. Lucerne.

The squirms inner cells formed two layers. One layer began to develop into lungs, stomach and gut; the other into heart, blood and bones. A layer of cells folded into a hollow tube that became a brain and nervous system. A string of blood vessels connected the foetus to the mother more securely, like a farmer to land. Its tail faded, dimples became ears, thickenings became eyes, bumps became muscles, and swellings became limbs, all of which would work together to crawl into the world again.

Fruit Trees

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2012 by javedbabar

When Danny felt sad in winter he went to the Botanical Garden. It was a vibrant place with lush foliage and bright blooms in a land assaulted by winter; it seemed an oasis of infinite life; maybe even another planet.

His long walks in the forest had provided awareness of local flora, but the species here were unusual, and he barely recognized any of them. They had crazy forms and colours: eight foot tall plants with blue, hand-like flowers, and red chandeliered blossoms that twinkled in the moon and sun. His favourite was the Silva Sanguinara, with its huge pink flowers, made up of hundreds of smaller ones, like a jigsaw puzzle. He imagined the green-suited creator of the Botanical Garden, known as The Gardener, sitting at home on one gloomy day, piecing it together.

Danny spent an hour enjoying the tranquil garden, and on his way out crossed The Gardener striding up the main path. He was always around somewhere, tending to something; the man was a perfectionist; a micro-manager literally, planting seeds, cross-breeding, and hand-pollinating flowers.

“Good day to you, Sir,” said the Gardener.

“Good day to you too,” said Danny. “I’ve told you many times, I’m sure, but I don’t mind telling you again. I love this place. It’s a wonderful thing you’ve done for the citizens of Lucerne.”

“But I too am a citizen of Lucerne,” he said. “You could say it was self-interest.”

Danny pondered for a moment and said, “You are too modest. You work harder than you need to. You’re here every time I visit, doing your rounds.”

The Gardener changed the subject. “Have you seen our new shop?” Danny shook his head.

“It just opened last week. You should go and take a look. I think you’ll like it.”

The Gardener tipped his hat and walked away.

Danny made his way to the shop; it was nestled between the Amazonian Rainforest and Egyptian Oasis areas. One side was festooned with giant fig lattices, and the other side almost hidden by huge rushes and swaying palms.

“Welcome Sir!” said the young assistant. “How is your day going so far?”

Danny was tempted to tell him that his day was terrible. It was filled with despair and unrequited love. He felt worthless and hopeless, and saw few reasons to continue living. But why give this kid such a hard time? Why kill his enthusiasm? So he said, “It is going well, thank you.”

“Great! I’ve got some things that will make it even better. Please follow me.” He led Danny to a display at the front of the shop; a selection of fruit trees. He said, “These are our winter specials. I know it’s not quite winter yet, but it’s good to plan ahead, don’t you think?” Danny nodded. “They bear fruit all winter.” Danny wondered if the assistant had picked up on his despair.

“They’re quite expensive,” said Danny. “I wouldn’t usually spend so much on a plant.”

“But they are specials for a reason, Sir. Look at this winter banana, and this winter cherry. Imagine having ripe yellow and bright red cheering up your house when it’s gloomy outside? Wouldn’t that be something?”

“I guess you’re right. It would be kind of nice. And they’ll grow indoors? Very good. And even a non-gardener like me can tend them successfully? Okay, great. Maybe I’ll take them. How about one hundred dollars for them both?”

After a deal was struck, the assistant told him that he’d also need a heat lamp which was another fifty bucks. Danny was annoyed at this; he should have been told before. But the idea of brightness and sweetness in darkness appealed to him. It may just make the difference this winter. He took the trees home and placed them near his front window.

The trees thrived there at first, but the winter cherry suddenly died. The Gardener hadn’t told Danny the whole truth. The assistant couldn’t, as he didn’t know. These were ancient species, which had arrived on earth before man, locked in a timeless struggle for survival. The Gardener, an initiate of the cult of the Green Man, was not allowed to assist one over the other. His only role was to ensure a fair fight during this process of guided evolution. Whether or not Danny survived the winter was unimportant to him.

Survival of the Fishest

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2012 by javedbabar

Mr Cooper loved the light glittering on the ceiling. It looked like a sea in the sky. He’d managed to convince the project manager to put reflective paint on the ceiling by telling him it would save on heating and lighting costs.

This was his favourite part of the job, teaching kids to swim. “Right! We’ll begin with the principles of buoyancy,” he said. “Who knows what happens when humans enter water?”

No hands went up, so he picked on a small boy at the front. “You – what happens?”

“We sink,” he said quietly, and looked scared.

“Wrong! We float. The human body has high water content, so its density is close to water. Due to its cavities – I mean your lungs, not your teeth – the average density becomes even lower and we float. So your natural state is floating, not sinking. Got it?”

The small boy pulled in his lips and nodded. A tall boy at the back was not paying attention, and made his friend laugh. Mr Cooper said, “You – what’s funny?”

“Nothing Sir.”

“Well, why is your friend laughing? Are you both such imbeciles that you laugh at nothing?”

“No Sir. We were wondering why it is important to swim when you can use a boat? I mean, you can enjoy the water and not even get wet.”

Mr Cooper was a master of the long game. He said, “You’re right there, we could use a boat.” The boy nodded happily. “In fact why bother going on the water at all when you can play the Titanic video game? That way you can have a really exciting adventure, safe in your home.” The boy continued to nod.

Oh dear, thought Mr Cooper, it’s even worse than I imagined. The noble tradition of movement through water using one’s limbs, without aid or apparatus, is in dire straits indeed. He thought of the epic stories of mankind. Would Gilgamesh have swum to the bottom of a deep pool and found the Plant of Immortality? Would Beowulf have dived into the boiling lake to slay the monster Grendel? Would Odysseus have survived his twenty year voyage sailing home? Heroes have always been swimmers. It shows their mastery of nature.

There are Stone Age paintings of swimmers, five thousand years old. If the power grid went down, today’s useless kids would be thrown right back there. No Hotmail, no Google, no iPhone, no PlayStation, no television, or microwave. Back to basics for everybody. Hunting, gathering, and swimming!

Mr Cooper rubbed his hands. It was time to have some fun.

He picked on a brown boy. “You – where are your parents from? Guatemala? Okay, that’s close enough. Imagine if they needed to get across the Rio Grande to get from Mexico to America. Do you think they’d make it?”

The boy was confused, and said, “I don’t know, Sir.”

“Well, let’s see if you would.” Mr Cooper pushed him in.

He pointed at a stocky boy. “You – are any of your family in the army? Good. What about the navy? No? Well you can be the first.” He pushed him in.

The children drew away but their backs were against the pool; they had nowhere to go. He pointed to a boy with glasses. “You – you look like a good student. Do you like biology? Good, try marine biology.” He pushed him in.

“Now the rest of you can jump in too, before I use one of you to illustrate what good exercise swimming is for amputees and paralytics. Fortunately you have use of your limbs.”

Some of the children were scared of water, but they were more scared of him, so climbed and jumped into the pool. The ones that couldn’t swim clung to the side.

“Great, you’re all in the water. Now we can begin.” He threw floats into the pool. As the children at the edge reached for them, he said. “Don’t be complacent though. You could easily die from drowning. You could panic in the water, become exhausted, catch hypothermia, or become dehydrated. Something could hit you in fast-flowing water and cause blunt trauma. In open water you could suffer bacterial infection, or in places like this, suffer from chlorine inhalation. Jellyfish can sting you, crabs can puncture your skin, even small sharks can bite and cause blood loss, sea snakes are venomous, and eels will shock you.”

The children were scared and some momentarily forgot to swim, and sank. “Right – all of you must stay in this pool for an hour. Get to like it. If you try to crawl out I’ll throw you back in.”

He was being hard on them, he knew. But we have evolved from water. It is our natural home. Only when we rebuild our relationship with water will we respect the earth’s life force, become Water Brothers and Sisters.

As a Water Master tasked with carrying our racial memory – that of fish crawling from oceans, becoming mammals, then apes, and humans – Mr Cooper took his duty seriously. He looked at the light glittering on the ceiling, as if there was a sea in the sky. This is what it must have looked like, he thought, to our earliest ancestors. The bravest and strongest ones. The ones who knew that the purpose of life was survival of the fishest.

Silva Sanguinara

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by javedbabar

The Zoological Society of Lucerne had done a good job, taking the unused park near the centre of the Village and transforming it into a tropical garden. They had walled in heat and humidity, and also hoped to wall in crowds.

The purpose of the Core Enhancement Scheme was to make the downtown area more attractive. The Village had been creeping towards the Highway, and there was a danger that within ten years Lucerne’s vibrant centre would become deserted and its commercial district would be a highway strip mall. This was of great concern to Lucerne’s citizens, but not enough to stop them spending all day in the highway coffee shop.

Something needed to be done, and the Botanical Garden hit the Bull’s-eye. Individuals, couples, and families flocked there. They loved its colours and warmth. Insects were attracted by the moist forest, and they in turn drew birds.

Whenever Danny walked through the Botanical Garden he felt like he was in a fairy tale. Fresh green papaya and banana trees made his eyes smile. Sweet smells of miro-Tahiti flowers brightened his nose. Spiders spun webs which held jewels of dew in sunshine. Flashing blue and green hummingbirds whirred around his head. Did they think it was a source of nectar? It was only a matter of time before one hovered beside his ear and poked its long beak in. The garden seemed a painting by Henri Rousseau; the only thing missing was a dusky beauty from his brighter period, or a stealthy tiger from his darker phase.

A man in a green suit approached him. As he drew near, The Gardener tipped his top hat and said, “Good morning, Danny. It’s a beautiful day.”

“It sure is,” said Danny. “Every day here seems like paradise.”

“We do our best,” said The Gardener, smiling. “We do our best.” He turned off the main path onto a side trail.

This was the great joy of the Botanical Garden – there were almost as many trails as days of the year. You could try a different way daily. Danny turned off the main path and came to a patch of stunted palms with hairy fringes, and fine white fabric wrapped about their tops. They looked as if they were wearing tall fat turbans set with bright jewels, which upon closer inspection proved to be red and green information tags. The red ones said Silva Sanguinarus, and the green ones said, Silva Sanguinara. They must be males and females of the same species, thought Danny, but they seemed more dead than alive.

Some children ran along the same trail as Danny and were surprised to find him there. One said, “Mister, we play hide and seek here. Is that okay?” He said go ahead and headed back to the main path. He heard loud counting, then squeals of laughter and the inevitable shouting and crying.

Danny saw The Gardener in the distance and set off down a trail towards him. He was tending giant cacti – spiny phallic monsters with lush pink flowers that attracted wasp hordes. They didn’t seem to sting him though.

“Where do Silva Sanguinarus come from?” said Danny.

“Don’t be sexist,” said The Gardener. “They wouldn’t come from anywhere at all if it wasn’t for Silva Sanguinara. Males and females must travel together or they won’t grow.”

Danny didn’t like his smart remark. The Gardener continued, “I’m just teasing. They are a recent addition to the collection from Polynesia. They are very delicate when replanted so we cover their tops with cheesecloth. It protects their hearts.”

“Their hearts?” said Danny. “Trees have hearts?”

The Gardener smiled as he heard the children screaming, and said, “Have you never eaten artichoke hearts or palm hearts? A plant has a heart. It’s the centre of its consciousness.  If it is damaged, the plant dies.”

“What about in winter? How do they survive? Does the cloth protect their hearts?”

“We hope so. That’s the intention. But the Silva Sanguinarus and Sanguinara are a bit different. They bloom in winter with huge crimson flowers. They are a vital part of the Core Enhancement. Many people in Lucerne suffer from Seasonal Disaffective Disorder and the number of suicides is climbing. We hope that people taking winter walks will be cheered up by seeing the flowers and feel brighter inside.”

“That’s great,” said Danny. “I feel quite down in winter. I’ll make sure I come to visit.” He left the garden whistling, and walked home carrying spoors of Silva Sanguinarus and Sanguinara on his shoe soles. They had been released by the trees when he’d entered the side trail. Their hearts missed the iron-rich red soil of their homeland, and hoped that this weak human would kill himself violently this winter, and soak their spoors with blood. And then the Village, scared by another death, would plant even more of them to cheer people up. This had proved a fine method of propagation. They were evolving.