From Voice from the Planet: An Anthology of Living Fiction
Harvard Square Editions 2010
“You’re making progress, Kit, I like your universe. You managed to achieve rapid stabilization. This promises long life without any shock. Tell me, how do you see its future? What might its zest, or uniqueness, be, so to speak?”
Kit smiled, flattered by the words of her Professor. “You are right, Professor, it is stable, that’s true, but because of this, it is not very lively. Not much happens there. At the moment I do not see any zest, and I’m afraid I have to add one more spatial dimension.”
“And if you continue to play with the initial conditions, without adding a new dimension?”
“Fine, but remember that not much time is left, examinations are coming soon. If you need my assistance, come and see me.”
“Is there anyone left behind the door?” asked the Professor. “Tell them to come in.”
“I believe only God is waiting,” Kit said, gathering her papers.
“Come in, God, come in. As usual you’re the last,” mumbled the Professor. “Well, has there been any progress?”
“I took into account all your remarks, Professor, and look what I got,” said God, unfolding his paper.
“Well, and what have you there, God?” asked the Professor in a tired voice. This group of students was his biggest, and they exhausted him with the results of their numerous simulations.
“You see, Professor, since your last consultation I have considered many different models. You know, my specialty is bio-universes, so I tried to build a model of the universe where at some stage of the development bits and pieces based on silicon or carbon emerge. In the beginning nothing good happened, and even when I succeeded for a short time in creating large molecules, they soon broke up into component parts. But once I got lucky: I managed to create quite a complicated and twisted helix molecule, after which the process went with astonishing speed. And then I set a goal: to create, firstly, a biological object in my image, so that in its appearance it would be like me, and secondly, to ensure that sooner or later the object would realize that by its very existence it is indebted to me and only me.”
“Modesty, God, humbleness! You’re still a student and look at your ambition! You think I do not know where this new fashion comes from? Creationism, or so they call it? And what good is it? What have you achieved with it, God, tell me.”
God’s mood began to worsen. He had expected praise and support from the Professor, and it turned out that all his efforts were in vain.
Noticing this, the Professor felt his duty to support the talented, but somewhat presumptuous student.
“Do not worry, God, if it does not work with this one, build another universe. Your universe is just a file, and it can always be deleted.”
“I would like to leave it and see what happens with these amusing creatures.”
“You can leave it if you like, but for me everything is clear: your universe has entered into the nonlinear mode. You managed to create life, but it turned out that to sustain one life another one should be destroyed. These amusing creatures, as you call them, will continue to deteriorate and, eventually, they will destroy this very life for which you created your universe. My advice to you, God: Go for a new universe. By the way, how many dimensions did you have there?”
“Initially there were many, but eventually only three spatial and one time dimension survived.”
“That’s it! And does time flow back and forth there, or only in one direction?”
“Only one, Professor,” mumbled God.
“All clear! With only one time coordinate you make them forever hurry, jump like grasshoppers and overtake time, whence all this aggression. Why not try to build inverse bio-universes with one spatial and three time dimensions?” the Professor suggested cheerfully.
“I did try, Professor,” God sighed sadly. “Even worse: they crawl along a single spatial coordinate and perpetually fight, either with ancestors or with descendants, and even with both simultaneously.”
“Well, I do not know what to advise you, God. I am afraid that as long as you stick to your creationism, nothing sensible will come out. Look at Kit and others. They created quiet universes. It is a real pleasure to look at them.”
“You know, Professor, I would have removed this universe and started a new one long ago if not for some amusing creatures. You laugh, but I have become attached to them.”
“I do not understand, God.” The Professor was genuinely surprised. “You mean to tell me that you learned to work at the level of individual creatures? There should be billions of them there! How do you do it?”
“I wrote a little program called ‘Guardian Angel.’ It follows the life of every amusing creature from birth to death, after which it automatically enters the data into the archive and destructs itself. As soon as a new creature is generated, the program copies a new guardian angel for it.”
“And how do you distinguish one creature from another?”
“Simple. I added a random name generator to the program, and it ascribes a name of several words to each creature. Sometimes the names are rather hilarious …”
“Like … ?” The Professor became interested.
“Like, for example, Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim—this one I like more than any other.”
“Can you sum that up?”
“Yes! Paracelsus, meaning ‘greater than Celsus’—so he nicknamed himself. With him I have fully succeeded. He teaches that amusing creatures ‘are made by me, God, from the alchemical extraction of the world, like in the great laboratory, and bear the image of the Creator.’ I am not sure about the ‘extraction’ but, as you can see, Paracelsus realized whom he looked like and who created him. And he is not the only one who has cracked me.”
“If so, then you deserve praise, God, you accomplished a lot!”
“Ah, Professor, if it were not for one thing: These amusing creatures are mostly busy destroying each other. With each new cycle of the program they create increasingly sophisticated weapons to kill their relatives.”
“I do not want to repeat myself, God, but your single time dimension causes the problem. It leaves them no alternative; so be it, keep these three spatial dimensions—they are certainly accustomed to them—but introduce at least one additional time dimension, and you’ll see it all will change for the better.”
“I’ll try, Professor, but I fear that this would come as a shock for them.”
“So introduce it cautiously, slowly, so that initially only scientists can guess the existence of the second time dimension—there should be scientists there, right? And so on, until you reach the politicians, and then these will decide how to proceed,” the Professor suggested with sarcasm in his voice.
Knowing that the sarcasm was caused by the Professor’s recent failure in the elections, God in his own way wanted to comfort him: “Professor, you should see how my amusing creatures hold elections. Recently the opposition there has won sixty percent of the vote and, nevertheless, lost.”
“It cannot be true,” the Professor was astonished. “I do not believe it! You mean your amusing creatures have been able to think of nonlinear logic?”
“Yes, imagine that … but not the scientists, no. Scientists out there were persecuted for centuries! A few hundred cycles ago they burned at the stake a philosopher who claimed that the creation of only one universe is unworthy of me, God.”
“Imagine that! They managed to hit upon it! What insight! And what was your philosopher’s name?”
“Giordano Bruno,”[*] replied God.
“Nice name, I like it,” the Professor said thoughtfully, and unexpectedly added: “Excellent! Really, I did not expect this much from you, God. I will recommend your work for the prize.”
The Professor looked at God, wanting to see the seeds of joy on his face, but God was silent. He sat with his head bowed.
“Is something wrong, God? You’re not happy with that?”
“I am glad, of course,” God sighed. “But, you see, Professor, the data of these two visionaries, Paracelsus and Bruno, are long in the archives, and few of the amusing creatures are aware of them. There are now various fashionable theories about the origins of the amusing creatures. While some do recognize me, God, as the creator of the universe, for some reason they have decided that I did this in six days, in the end personally sculpting from clay the first amusing creatures. Complete misapprehension of the problem. Then there are those who believe that the theory about six days is a fairytale, and argue that amusing creatures emerged during the evolution of other, equally funny though less intelligent creatures. That is closer to reality, but they have completely eliminated the possibility of my very existence, while, in fact, I conceived and wrote the program that really drives their evolution,” God said with undisguised bitterness in his voice. “And one of the highest authorities in this school of thought is trying to convince everyone that I, God, am just some mental virus that gets into the heads of amusing creatures in early childhood. I do not know what to say. Me—a virus?”
“Do not worry, God,” said the Professor. “One cannot avoid surprises in such a complex problem. But that’s why it is so interesting! I was wrong. Do not delete this universe. Leave and continue to monitor its development. At the same time, here is my advice: make a backup copy and cautiously enter the second time dimension—you will see a lot of new interesting things. But only after exams!”
[*] The great Italian philosopher and poet Giordano Bruno was burned alive at Campo dei Fiori in Rome on the morning of February 17th, 1600, after spending eight years in the jails of the Holy Inquisition.