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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Proclamations of the Red Queen

28th March 2010

Fiction: Sere

Posted by: Craig Young

Right, I’ve had far too many fact-based blogs here recently, so here’s another SF short story…

Eleusine Arcology Fortrayne: Year 40, 026 of the Great Confederation.

Subject: Sere.

Sere is the third planet of a main-sequence yellow primary star, accompanied by a relatively large planetary satellite and was well within its primaries ecosphere envelope. Until a millenium ago, it was a habitable world.

Now, its oceans are grey and lifeless and anaerobic, its landmasses mottled yellow, black, grey and brown and desolate desert or rock. Some rudimentary extremophile life forms exist around submarine volcanic vents on a formerly icebound polar continent, as well as ruins.

What happened to Sere? It is a story that is not unfamiliar. When many species become capable of high-speed planetary transformation and accelerated scientific development, many also fall victim to the phenomenon that our social scientists call Pri’ithys Oulounde [Encyclopedia Galactica crossref: Pri’ithys Oulounde is a metaphor taken from Eleusine mythology and primarily refers to a succulent yet narcotic high-theobromine fruit]. That term is a venerable metaphor that refers to addiction to old paths and rejection of societal diversity. Like Eleusines, Sere’s dominant species was mammalian, although descended from augmented and evolved a’athours- analogues [Eleusine anthropoids] rather than our own felinoid remote ancestors. Eleusine rejected the temptation of the Oulounde. Sere did not, and therein lies its tragedy.

It seems that a monotheist faith evolved, surviving until the rise of empiricist physical science, whereupon panicked and paranoid, its leadership retreated into scientophobia and fear of social diversity and change. It sought global dominion through infiltrating political factions and seeking the exclusion of designated “deviant’ philosophical beliefs and ‘outgroups’. One such group were samesexers.

Cnadour leads me to acknowledge Sere is not the sole recorded case of such adverse social development. Amongst other extinct species, different aspects of morphology and genome have been stigmatised and served as bases for social exclusion, pogroms and ethnocide. On some worlds, it is dermal or exoskeletal variation or pigmentation, while on others, psionic capabilities or neuromorphology cause stigmatisation and exclusion.

(For non-Eleusines, bear in mind that our use of the metaphor is dependent on recognition of the narcotic effects of the Oulounde on our physiologies and avoidance of its addictive routinised and regularised use. Continued intake of the seductive fruit led to our eventual incapacity and death).

Sere bit deeply into the oulounde, regrettably. The authoritarian monotheists learnt that within their species, samesexer sexual preference and social networks had a series of genetic precursors. As a result of ancillary genomic research, they covertly crafted an intricately calibrated genetically engineered virus to attack any genetic sequences that manifested latent same-sexer development in postnatal life within their oocytes and spermatozoa. Their ploy was successful and within a generation, they eradicated samesexers from their species.

Unfortunately for the Sereans, this had some fatal and unintended consequences. Their species lost its capability for creative endeavour and scientific innovation, given the colocation of genes for higher intelligence potential and social adaptation alongside the samesexer sequences. Scientific and cultural development stagnated and although the Serean monotheists ‘won’ their cultural conflcit through samesexer eradication, they accelerated the decline of the nation state upon which they resided. This led to the rise of authoritarian government and almost a millenium ago, it fought a devastating thermonuclear conflict with other nation-states that challenged its faltering and collapsing global hegemony. This accelerated cumulative results of centuries of intensive ecological damage.

It took sixteen years for the desperate pleas of the irradiated, starving and irreperably wounded survivors of the global holocaust to reach the nearest world of starfarer sentients. They embarked at once, but when their rescue and emergency medical fleet dropped down from FTL, there was nothing left but desolation and planetwreck.

Sere is a funereal, desolate and toxic outcrop of rock, dirt and nightmare, devoid of life. It could have been so much more.

Tags: General

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