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The machine was dreaming....

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  • Kalessin
    Denizen of Moo Uria
    • Nov 2004
    • 130

    The machine was dreaming....

    Wrote this... oooh, just under two years ago, in order to while away a long and idle afternoon. Will probably post something more recent, and more experimental in the not-so-distant future, but for now, I hope you enjoy my little tale...

    The machine was dreaming. The body of the machine was different from the body of a man, for it was made not of flesh and bone, but of cold metal, spherical, and approximately the same size as the planet which men call Earth, and its mind was different too. For the machine, although its mind dwarfed that of a man even more than its body dwarfed the body of a human, was, in some ways, more limited. The machine felt no hate, no anger, no spite. No fear could surge through its circuits, and no greed or envy could cause it to seek to become more than it was. Yet although the machine felt no jealousy towards mankind, and had no wish to gain what man had and it did not, the machine was not proud. But equally, the machine was not humble, nor did it believe itself equal to mankind. Rather, the very idea of comparing itself to other minds had never, and could never, occur to it. And just as the machine had no concept of hate, or fear, equally, it had no understanding of love, or sadness, or generosity. One emotion, and one alone could the machine comprehend, and that emotion, was joy, and that joy could come only from the appreciation of beauty, although the concept of beauty which the machine perceived would have been as alien to a man as the concept of ugliness was to the machine. The machine was dreaming of beauty.

    The map rose up above the pedestal, glowing brightly. This was no map of some mere planet, depicting the near-insignificant details of continents and oceans, nations and seas. Rather, this map displayed a great spiral of light, formed from countless suns, some dying, some being born, and others shining in the full glory of life, and around many of these suns, tiny balls of rock circled, and on some few of these, although the number increased with every day, tiny creatures, formed from carbon and water, scurried around like ants. This map was of the galaxy that men once named The Milky Way.

    Around the pedestal were seated many of these tiny beings, who had given themselves the right to name stars and galaxies, and who, in their pride, felt that they understood the principles upon which the Universe was built. The chairs were finely carved from ancient oaks, each engraved with the name of the planet from which the individual who now sat upon its satin cushions had travelled.

    Upon the largest and most ornate of all these chairs was carved the name of Earth, and it was from this one that a tall figure, clad in long blue robes edged with gold, from whose chin descended a soft white beard, which came down almost to his waist. He held a long silver staff in his aged hand, which he banged down sharply onto the marble floor three times, cutting through the hubbub which had grown up. The delegates ceased their speech, and turned towards him, awaiting the words of their motherworld’s representative in respectful silence.

    His voice was deep and resonant, echoing throughout the great council chamber, the domed roof of which was made from clear glass, so that each man present, should he wish, could look up and see his own home twinkling out among the heavens, and his eyes, which, ignoring the delegates, were fixed upon the map, were like bottomless wells, full of ancient wisdom and hard-gained knowledge.

    “We have all gathered here today to find a solution to all our problems. To the same problems which have plagued our race since the first man stood up upon his hind legs and flexed his hands.�
    He waved his hand over the map, and it changed, the image focusing in on a small group of less than a dozen small yellow stars, of the size which tended to be most suited to human colonisation.

    “I am sure that you all recognise the Kajatos Sector.�

    He waved his hand again, and the map focused in further, to a tiny area between two of the stars. It appeared to be completely black at first, but then the delegates could just perceive a cluster of minute lights, moving slowly between the stars. Eventually, the lights took on shape. Each light was a great cone of fire, being gouted out of the back of a tiny black cylinder, dwarfed on the rear by its engines, and on the front by a strange scoop-like phenomena, which constantly pulled in what little matter could be found in the void.

    “It has been ten thousand years since our race last saw war. Violence yes. That is part of our genetic inheritance, and cannot be removed without removing our essential humanity. But a true war, in which an organised group of men, whether a gang, or a nation, or a world, arms itself and attacks another, whether for gain, or purely due to hate. That is different. Some of us had thought it a thing of the past. A strange blip upon our racial history which we had left behind, just as we have left behind disease, and our reliance on one planet to forever harbour us in safety. But I have been reliably informed that the vessels which you see before you are armed, and that their mission is the conquest of one of the worlds of Kajatos. Their mission is war.�

    He waved his hand over the map once again, and the it fanned out so that the entire galaxy was visible.

    “When we called this meeting, we knew that we could not prevent the war in Kajatos. In fact, due to the time that it has taken for us to gather, that conflict has almost certainly already ended. What we could do, was seek a permanent end to war. In this world of ours, with the gaps between the stars being so vast, war cannot be cured once it springs up. Instead, we had to attempt to prevent it. To find the cause of war, and to remove that cause forever.�

    He smiled faintly at his audience, which had stared in astonishment as he outlined this near-unattainable aim;

    “Since our call went out for you to come here, the greatest minds of Earth and of all those other worlds near enough to easy communication have been working on this question, and, I am happy to say that they have a solution. War, or so I’m told, tends to happen due to one of four main factors. Greed is the most common of these, a desire for land and resources belonging to others. The fact that, with the advent of space travel, there are limitless unexploited resources available, has for a long time suppressed this motive, but even so, some areas are richer than others, and it is greed that has caused the war in Kajatos. Sometimes, war is caused purely by hate, inspired either by the wish for revenge, or by the feeling that another group has no right to exist. But the immense distance between the stars greatly cools such feelings, as has the length of our recently-shattered idyll of peace.

    More insidious than hatred is altruism. Throughout history, countless wars have been caused by the belief of one group that its society is superior to that of another, and that it would be the right thing to enforce their way on the other �for their own good’.�

    He paused for a few moments to take a sip from a glass of cold water which had rested upon the arm of his seat before continuing;

    “These are all causes of war. Their elimination is long overdue, but nothing that happens in the near future will cause them to increase. The final cause of war is much more terrifying, for it is contagious, and can spread like wildfire, setting a world, a sector, even a galaxy ablaze with conflict. That cause is fear. Once one world is attacked, others expect to be attacked in turn. They take precautions. Some even launch pre-emptive attacks on potential aggressors, and so one outbreak spirals into an unstoppable conflagration. At Kajatos the spiral has begun. Therefore, we cannot wait any longer to find our solution. Now, we must act.�

    He waved his hand over the map, and it was a map no longer. Now above the pedestal was displayed a perfect sphere of gleaming silver metal.

    “It has been decided that the only solution is to put all of Human civilisation into the hands of this machine….�

    As he spoke, a somewhat overweight man, his face flushed and his eyes staring, leapt to his feet;

    “What do you mean, �Give all of Human civilisation to a machine’?�

    “The only way in which all four of these causes for war can be eliminated is to put all of Humanity under one authority, one ruler. Thus can equality of resources be maintained, and greed eliminated. Thus can our culture be homogenised, so that hate on grounds of difference, and war in the name of altruism be avoided. Most of all, with one ruler over all, worlds will think themselves safe and watched over, and thus will fear be defeated.�

    Near the back, a tall, hook-nosed figure in a broad-brimmed black hat and dark robes raised himself up from his seat;

    “That may be true. But why must we give over control to a soulless machine? Why cannot a man, or a group of men selected from every world, rule over us?�

    “There is an old saying on Earth, �Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. That saying is true. Most men, when granted power, use that power only to seek more, having gained a taste for it. Admittedly, not all go down this path, but power increases and exaggerates the virtues of all men who wield it, turning these virtues into vices. A generous ruler will give too much. A parsimonious man will become a miser. A compassionate man will be too lax, a firm one too cruel. A man’s sense of honour might cause him to sacrifice peace for it, yet a dishonourable man would be more easily corrupted into greed. All of a man’s virtues can ruin him as a ruler as easily as his vices. Only a man without emotion and with a strong sense of justice and the knowledge of what must be done can rule. But a man without emotion, without any beliefs or virtues which drive him, is a man without humanity.�

    He grinned suddenly, as he looked around the room, leaning on his staff;

    “And anyway, only a machine of awesome power could possibly keep track of the workings of an entire galaxy. No man could perform such a task! No, a machine has no emotions, no capacity for greed. We must trust that it will guide our people safely, for it does not know how to do otherwise. It will uphold justice, and it will seek to prevent war, and it will encourage the growth of humanity in every way conceivable. That is the mission that we shall program into it.�

    The debating continued long into the night, and a unanimous vote was only passed after a full week. Then the details of the machine’s mission had to be hammered out, yet eventually, a year after the council had convened, the government of Humanity on every world passed out of the hands of their elected human governors and parliaments, dictators and aristocracies, into the hands of the Machine.

    The machine gazed out over its charge. In the many millions of years since it had assumed its mantle as guardian of the Milky Way, there had been no more wars. Humans everywhere spoke a common language, and shared a common culture, their anger and hatred directed not at each other, but at the imaginary enemies beyond their own galaxy, for thus the machine had seen fit to unify the entire race. Science and culture had continued to advance unhindered, and the laws were just, but the Milky Way was no longer a spiral. Man’s energies had not just been spent in exploiting the Milky Way. He had also altered it, according to the commands of his ruler.

    The machine was dreaming. It was dreaming of beauty. It was dreaming of a perfect sphere, formed from countless suns, shining like a beacon in the darkness of space.
    Arma virumque cano.
  • Talisant
    Champion of the Balance
    • Dec 2003
    • 1299

    "A man is no man who cannot have a fried mackerel when he has set his mind on it; and more especially when he has money in his pocket to pay for it." - E.A. Poe's NICHOLAS DUNKS; OR, FRIED MACKEREL FOR DINNER


    • Kalessin
      Denizen of Moo Uria
      • Nov 2004
      • 130

      Opinions, anyone.... :?
      Arma virumque cano.


      • Poetgrrl
        Defender of the Runestaff
        • Aug 2004
        • 357

        Okay. What's that old Machine-O gonna do with humanity once it gets hold of it? Heh heh... that could be a good question...

        I liked the story and the thoughts it posed. My only change would be the Earth character in robes with a staff. I'm sorry... but... i could not erase Gandolf from my mind. OTHERWISE.... :up: