Monday, 30 September 2013

Chapter 4. Of the Team

I woke in a hotel room. At least, that was my first impression. I was nude and alone in a comfortable bed, and the layout of the room seemed familiar.

But, I soon saw, this was no Earthly hotel. The bed was much longer than I would have expected, and higher off the floor as well. There wasn’t any literature on the desk telling me why I should embrace the latest enviro fad. Nor even telling me when and where breakfast was. And it was warm, several degrees warmer than you’d expect in a hotel room on Earth if the air conditioning was working.

When I padded into the bathroom, I found a tub almost big enough to drown me. I’m in a hotel, yes, I thought. But the room I’m in is made for Seraphim.

I used the tub, which was pleasantly cleansing. Then, I looked around for my clothes, and they weren’t there. Instead, there was a white gown-like robe, about my size, draped over a large brown armchair. With it were a lightweight, plain white T-shirt and shorts. And next to the armchair was a pair of stout brown shoes, with socks laid on top of them.

I swore several times, then I put the clothes on.

There was no phone in the room. But there was a metallic grille about where you’d expect a phone to be. I heard a sudden clack, and then Michael’s voice coming from it. “Good morning, Neil,” he said. “Are you ready to join us for breakfast?”

I spluttered. “Am I ready to join who?”

“The Team, of course,” he said.

“What Team?”

“The Team, that’s our party of fourteen humans on this ship. And if you remember, you’re the Team Leader.” I did remember, now.

The mention of breakfast had made me hungry. So, “How do I get to you?” I asked.

“We are at hotel co-ordinates 0B404,” said Michael. “See the big brown armchair in your room, with a foot-rest? It is a transport chair. Do you see a pad of buttons on the right arm-rest? And next to it, a card in English, telling you which button is which?”


“Then sit in the chair, and press 0, B, 4, 0, 4 on the buttons. Then press Confirm. Your chair will take you to us. It will take a few minutes to get here.”

I obeyed. The armchair lifted slightly off the floor, then made for the door. The door opened, and we went through. The corridor wasn’t much different from a corridor in an Earthly hotel – just bigger. And the lifts or elevators, at first glance, didn’t look much different either. Except… all the doors were open.

The armchair made for one of the shafts, though I could see there wasn’t a lift there. I tensed, but suddenly relaxed again. At least, I was glad I hadn’t tried to walk.

The armchair took me backwards into the shaft, then dropped gently. A little time passed. Then, it exited through another opening into a public area. The guests, I saw, were of many different species. Some like lizards, some like monkeys or humans, some like snakes, a few like horses, pigs or cattle, some like plants or trees, and some like nothing I had ever seen before. Many were on moving platforms or climbing-frames, or in chairs like mine, or on larger transport sofas. And about half of them wore robes, or frills, of various colours.

The armchair took me to a door where Michael, again dressed in a yellow robe, met me. “Welcome, Neil,” he said. I got out of the chair, and it parked itself against the wall at the end of a row of similar chairs.

I went through the door. There were thirteen people already in the room, some eating, some drinking coffee. All wore white robes like mine. And there was another Seraph. He looked exactly like Michael, except he had a mole on his left cheek. His name, I knew without having to ask, was Gabriel.

There was a breakfast buffet. Some things in it looked and tasted how you’d expect in an Earthly breakfast – the bacon, for example. Others were recognizable, but had slightly different flavours. Yet others were – well, weird. Not nasty at all, but weird. That included the “coffee.” I stuck with the tea, which was a bit weird too, but grew on me.

“This is Seraphim food,” said Michael to me. “But do not worry, our metabolisms are close. You need have no fear of poison, and you will find our food most nourishing.”

I took the hint, and didn’t take that extra rasher (or two) of bacon.

* * *

When we had finished breakfast, Michael invited us all to move to the conference area.

Imagine the scene. Fourteen people of most ages, sizes and races, all in white robes, in the audience in a conference room. At the podium, two yellow-robed Seraphim, human in design, but bigger and blockier.

“Welcome, Team,” said Michael. “All of you already know something of why you are here. And all of you have met either me, or Gabriel, before.” Gabriel smiled.

“I will tell you more. We are now in the Galactic Far Transport Vessel 18162-V, on a major stage of our journey to a planet called Perinent. That is a good place for you to perform the tasks you have agreed to do, to secure the admission of the human species into the Galaxy.”

So Galactics don’t name their ships as floridly as some Earthly science fiction writers imagine, I thought.

Gabriel looked at me uneasily, but Michael continued. “Our journey on this ship will be about eight of your Earth weeks. You have free use of the ship’s hotel facilities and parks, and freedom to meet other species.

“But I must say to you, that since you are not yet admitted to Junior Galactic status, I and Gabriel will be held personally responsible for your behaviour. Please don’t make trouble for us.”

There was a pause, then a South African voice to my right, “Where’s the bar?” Laughter, then I said, “Great idea, but shouldn’t we get to know each other first?”

Michael smiled and blanched at the same time. “I forgot to tell you,” he said, pointing to me, “that we have already selected Neil as Team Leader. He is the one who has to resolve any disputes between you. He will also have the responsibility to interface with the project managers when we get to Perinent.”

Project managers, plural? I thought. Recipe for disaster. Gabriel looked even uneasier than before.

“Right,” I said. “Let’s introduce ourselves. I’ll go first. I’m Neil, I’m from England, and by most people’s standards I’m gently mad. And, for my sins, I’m your Team Leader. Now it’s your turn – clockwise, please.”

I had already met Cees from Holland, young Elise from Sweden and fifty-ish Galina from Russia. I rapidly met: Ray and Jenna, a couple from Australia. Ben, two metres tall, mid fifties, from South Africa. Lily, slim and thirties, from Sierra Leone. Shami, a teacher from India. Dede from Indonesia. Sabrina, young and fit, from Hong Kong. Hoong an electrical engineer from Beijing. John – the oldest of us at 73 – from Minneapolis. And Marie, an artist from New Orleans. Fairly well spread across the globe, but no South Americans, for some reason.

After Marie introduced herself, I said, “Michael, can you please tell us again, so all of us have it quite clear, why we’re here?”

“Yes,” said Michael. “This is the first Team meeting of the Human Birth Project, Galactic No. DSE/11619/BV. The purpose of this project is to bring your human race to the level where you can be admitted to Junior Galactic status.”

“And why were we fourteen chosen for the Team?”

Gabriel looked apoplectic, but remained silent. Michael replied, “You were, in the opinion of our project consultant, Bart Vorsprong of the Tefla, the best equipped individuals on Earth for the job.

“But there should have been sixteen of you. Two pick-ups were missed. This is why Gabriel is silent. According to the Code of the Seraphim, any Seraph pilot who misses a pick-up may not speak until he has been pardoned for his failure.”

“I can add to that,” said John. “When Gabriel had picked up me and Marie, he turned south to make more pick-ups. But, as we flew towards South America, missiles were fired at us. He didn’t want to shoot down the missiles; that would have caused panic below. So he evaded them, but that meant he couldn’t make the pick-ups in time.”

I had a sudden feeling of power, and said, “Let Gabriel speak.”

Gabriel relaxed, and said, “John tells the truth. I failed in part of my assignment, so there are only fourteen humans in the Team, instead of the sixteen planned. I am sorry.”

“Understood and forgiven,” I said. “Thank you,” said Gabriel.

Then I said, “I think I’ll exert my authority as Team Leader. That’s enough of business for now. Let’s take Ben’s suggestion, and all repair to the bar. Where you, Michael and Gabriel, will tell us how we are to live on this ship.

“Tell us how to get back to our rooms, how to get transport around the ship, where everything is – including the food and drink. Tell us how we get the daily things done, like having our robes laundered. Tell us what there is to do on the ship, and what we must, and mustn’t, do to avoid offence. Tell us how we should ask for services, how we know what they cost, how we charge the project for them. Tell us how we talk to species who don’t know English.”

“We don’t need to go to the bar,” replied Michael. “We already have everything we need right here in this room.” He pointed to what had replaced the breakfast buffet. “Including alcoholic refreshments for later, of course.”

Monday, 23 September 2013

Chapter 3. Of My Abduction

One Sunday afternoon in spring, I was walking on a heathland in southern England – I will not name the place. Suddenly I saw, up in the air to the left of me, a black speck. It seemed to be coming towards me.

Is it a plane? I thought. Too small. Is it a helicopter? Too silent. Is it Superman? It’s the wrong colour. Is it the Flying Spaghetti Monster? No noodly appendage visible.

I stopped and looked. It was getting bigger.

I put my rucksack down beside the path, and sat on it. I had decided this could be interesting, so I would stay and see who it was.

The craft came in silently, nose well up as it decelerated, and landed on the heath about ten metres from me.

On the ground, it was as much silver as black. Maybe fifteen metres long, the back two-thirds a flattened cylinder about four times as wide as high, the front third moving forward to a point. Two tiny wings about half way along, looking like useless decorations.

A man got out. Well, not a man – for he was taller and broader than any human on the record. He was two and a half metres tall at least. He was wearing a dark yellow robe, like an academic gown. And his face had a sheen that was almost golden.

“Hello,” he said, in perfect English. “Are you Neil?”

“I am,” I replied, “and who are you?”

“My name is Michael,” he said.

Now, I had heard of Michael the archangel. And this guy fitted his description. It was in me to guffaw, but instead I asked, “What do you want with me?”

He said, “I have a proposition to put to you. It will take only a few minutes of your time to decide. But I am on a tight schedule. So, would you like to take a ride in my ’mobile here, while I tell you what I ask? No charge to you, of course.”

Having seen a very little of what the machine could do, of course I wanted a ride. But I was cautious. Sales Pitch No. 1, I thought. Fun – at someone else’s expense! No sale, yet at least.

“Not so fast,” I said. “Tell me here and now what you propose.”

Michael frowned, and started to intone like a newsreader. “The human race faces terrible problems today. Your political system has failed. All humans face extermination unless our project to save you succeeds. Do you want to die with the rest of them?”

Sales Pitch No. 2, I thought. Fear, Uncertainty, Despair. No sale here either. But I clawed at something he had said.

“Michael,” I said, “you’re not going to sell me anything with that pitch. But what’s this about a project to save us?”

Michael brightened, and his voice became more normal. “I am here to help my friends bring you humans into the Galactic Association, Junior Section. You can help this project; and if you are willing to do so, we can help you richly in return.”

Aha. There’s a job offer coming, I thought.

“Come on,” I said to Michael. “Get to the point, man.”

Michael smiled. “I offer you,” he said, “a contract, on Galactic Scale 15A, with the Company for Galactic Advancement, as Team Leader of the human team on the Human Birth Project, No. DSE/11619/BV. The contract will last around two Earth years, and we will pay you many times what you earn today. All your living expenses will be taken care of, too. And you will be compensated for any losses you may suffer on Earth as a result of being away.”

I paused. “Where’s the small print?” I asked. “Will I lose most of what I earn, through Galactic taxes? Will I be hounded by bureaucrats trying to make my life difficult?”

Michael said, “There are no Galactic taxes. We Galactics do not allow any kind of forced impositions. And, as to Galactic bureaucrats, I suppose that I am one. But we take on such roles only for the purpose of specific projects – like this one.”

I paused again – for a long time. Then, “In principle, I accept your offer,” I said. “But I will not obey anyone’s orders unless I agree with them. I’ll work with your project, as long as I can do what I think is right. If I fall short of the contract, please deduct the appropriate portion from my payment.”

After I quieted, Michael smiled once more. “So, we are back to my first offer to you. I am Michael of the Seraphim from Seraph-2, and I invite you for a ride in my Seraphimobile. We are the best short-haul pilots in the Galaxy. We’ll get you where you need to be as fast as Galactically possible, but we never make any of our passengers feel sick or scared. And this ’mobile is very comfortable for humans.”

I was sold – except for one thing. “How will you stop the criminal gangs that call themselves governments from firing missiles at us?”

“They can’t see us,” said Michael. “This ’mobile is in quiet mode. It is impossible to see or otherwise detect it at distance, unless the pilot deliberately projects an image – as I did for you.”

“OK, but what if they detect something they can’t see, which moves? Won’t they fire missiles at the hole they can’t see?”

Michael was about to reply, but at that moment a dog came round the corner of the path. I looked at Michael, picked up my rucksack, trotted over to the ’mobile, and got in.

Inside, it was much like a small plane. Four rows of four somewhat larger than human-sized seats, all empty. Black leather, they looked like. With a double-seat at the front for two Seraph pilots.

I took a window seat in the second row. I was still sinking down into its luxury, when “Sit back!” Michael said, and the craft started on a short, fast, bumpy take-off run over the heath. Then it leapt into the air, and went into a steep climb that pinned me enjoyably, but also helplessly, back in the seat.

But, as Michael had promised, I didn’t feel either sick or scared. The passenger seats in Seraphimobiles, I later learned, can be set to exude tranquillizers for whatever species are riding in them. The Seraphim don’t like to have to compromise their style when piloting, so they sedate their passengers.

In less than fifteen minutes, we came down again in a flat, green landscape. I recognized it as Holland. Michael got out. I watched him talking with an early middle-aged man with a goatee beard. I heard enough of their conversation to know the man’s name was Cees. (Pronounced “Case,” for English speakers.)

The sell wasn’t going well for Michael. So I got up from my seat – it was an effort – and went to the door of the machine, behind Michael. “I don’t know where he wants to take us either,” I said to Cees. “But I accepted his offer, and I’ve enjoyed the ride so far.

“Come on, Cees,” I said, “what do you have to lose? Are you happy with your present life on Earth? Are you happy with your prospects? Are you happy with politics as usual? Michael is offering you a chance to be part of change for the better. Will you take it?”

Michael looked back at me with what seemed like astonishment. Then Cees walked firmly across to the door, entered, and took the opposite window seat to mine.

We took off again.

We stopped twice more. Once in southern Sweden, to pick up a young girl who introduced herself as Elise. And once a little west of Moscow, to pick up Galina, a biologist. I didn’t get out of my seat either time.

After we left Moscow, Michael took us up – fast. “Now,” he said, “I must put you all to sleep. You would not enjoy the next stage of the journey. We Seraphim do not need to sleep, so for us it is a grave duty to make any sentient being unconscious. Therefore we make it as pleasant as we can for you before you go out.”

The short hiss, which followed his words, brought a whiff of a sweet-smelling gas. And shortly after, I was in bliss. I felt sexual pleasure, mental euphoria, a beautiful relaxation through my whole body. And, after a while, perhaps a minute or so, the world started to spin, and I fell into unconsciousness.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Chapter 2. The Meeting on Avoran

Balzo of the Avor’I of Avoran-2, senior project manager for the Company for Galactic Advancement, stood at ease behind his desk, and regarded Professor Bart Vorsprong of the Department for Species Emergence, who relaxed in a climbing-frame before him.

Imagine the scene. On one side of the desk, Balzo, showing his lizard ancestry by the gnarlings on his face and by the dark green colour of his skin, contrasting with his light blue robe. Yet also standing almost two metres tall, upright on his highly developed hind legs, making him look rather like a kangaroo. On the other, Bart Vorsprong, six metres long and about the same number of centimetres wide, light green in colour, closer to the anaconda than to any other Earthly species.

Balzo spoke. His voice was a deep bass, and his language not as different from human languages as you might have expected – for evolution often finds parallel paths.

“Welcome, Bart,” he said. “The Board have read ur report on the Hoomans. They have asked me to set up a project to help the Hoomans reach Junor Galactic status. U are our top expert on Hoomans. Will u jon this project as consultant?”

(A linguistic interjection. Like many lizard species, Avor’I – the I is pronounced “ee,” by the way – cannot make a “y” sound. That is why Balzo could not say “human” or “junior.” But he could do an impressive click, the quote character in words like “Avor’I.” He pronounced this click like a “k” said backwards. And he rolled his “r”s like a Russian.)

Now Bart Vorsprong, a Tefla, had neither a spoken language nor telepathy. So he needed technology to understand Balzo’s words. His translator machine converted these words to a series of dark red dot patterns on a reel of paper – or, at least, a substance not unlike paper – which moved smoothly in front of his eyes. As this conversation was private, the ink faded after thirty seconds or so.

“Subject to contract,” replied Bart. Well, he didn’t actually say it. Instead, he took a short drink of ink, and used his tongue to etch patterns on the paper passing before him. The translator, in turn, converted these to sounds in a good approximation of the Avor’I language.

Bart’s answer was a Tefla joke. For contract – an agreement in which two or more parties make mutual commitments – is one of the foundations of Galactic civilization. And Tefla, a quick-witted species descended from constrictors, like to make sure that every possible detail is squeezed out before they will commit to anything. For this reason, Tefla make some of the finest academics, and some of the best lawyers, in the Galaxy. They are also famous for their sense of humour.

The Avor’I have their skills too. For executive ability is rare in the Galaxy. Most adult Galactic species just do what they do. Few Junior species, even, are much interested in getting things done for their own sakes. So, when big things absolutely need to be done, it’s time for the experts. In the whole Galaxy, there are maybe a dozen species who can manage large projects effectively, and the Avor’I are the foremost among them.

“Good,” said Balzo, taking Bart’s answer as a yes. “The Board has suggested we might try again the plan we oosed – with success – for the speshes of Skobar-4. Do u know about that?”

“I know the Skobar recently became Juniors,” replied Bart. “But I have not seen the details. Please show me.”

“There is a planet,” said Balzo, “called Perinent. Perinent-2, to be precise. It is close to several maxima in the Galactic force feelds. From Perinent, it is quite easy to Pull and to Push objects and sentent beengs from and to anywhere in the Galaxy, even on the further side. So from Perinent we can interfare on distant planets, without beeng found out by the natives.

“The Company has set up on Perinent a Difficult Births Oonit, for cases like this. There are six camps, each housing a mixed team of Galactics and candidate speshes. Camp Two, formerly occipied by the Skobar, is now vacant. We are invited to oose it for our project.”

“Who will be the team?” asked Bart. “And will I have to go myself to Perinent?”

“For the second,” said Balzo, “u will need to visit once or twice, but not to be there through the project. For the first, that is what I want to discuss with u today. I have already a candidate for on-site manager, Harv’I of the Elo’I.”

Bart signed a question mark – for the Elo’I are not renowned as managers. “There is a speshul reason,” said Balzo. “The Elo’I have recently admitted that it was one of theirs, who visited the Hoomans’ planet a hundred and forty or so generashuns ago, and started their relidzhuns. They wish to make up for that, by helping the Hoomans reach Junor status.”

“Yes, I see,” said Bart. “And the humans themselves are good at getting things done. In their present state of development, they have too much executive talent for their own good.”

“Precisely,” said Balzo, showing his enjoyment of Bart’s pun – he had put the stress in “executive” on the first syllable, not the second. “So are u happy if Harv’I is project manager in title, but the Hoomans, with ur and my assistance, make the detaled plans? While I myself in person have the responsibility?”

Bart signed the Tefla equivalent of a smiley face.

“The Hoomans are not telepathic, are they?” asked Balzo. “Mostly not,” signed Bart, and then “but a few at least must have some ability. Otherwise they could not have understood the Elo’I who visited them.”

“Now, about the Helpers,” continued Balzo. When a species is about to become Junior Galactic, they are assigned a Helper species to ease them through their early Galactic contacts. “Who do u think would make the best Helpers for the Hoomans?”

“I have no doubt,” said Bart, “that the Helpers for the humans should be the Seraphim of Seraph-2. Their microbiology is very like the humans’ – they will be able to eat each other’s foods without any problems at all. They are good Helpers, and they enjoy it too. And they will very easily be able to learn the humans’ principal language. Indeed, some of them already know it; for Seraphim have been active in our monitoring of human communications.”

“I agree,” said Balzo. “So I will ask for a pair of Seraphim to be assigned full-time to our project as Helpers.

“U know, perhaps,” he went on, “that with the Skobar” – who were, as Bart recalled, a lizard species – “we Avor’I chose to be the Helpers ourselves. I was project manager, and it was tough work. At one point, even the Skobar were calling me Balz-up.”

Bart signed his appreciation of Balzo’s joke. It was unusual to find an Avor’I willing to try to trade puns with a Tefla. This was going to be a fun project.

“With the Skobar,” Balzo went on, “we did two things. One, we Pulled the worst of their ruling classes to Perinent for punishment. Two, we Pulled individals of promise, trained them in leading others of their speshes according to Galactic principles, then Pushed them back to lead the Transishuns.”

“And who did the Pulling and the Pushing?” inquired Bart.

“That was one of our mistakes,” said Balzo. “Because we Pulled the Skobar team to Perinent in the first place, they could not attoon themselves to the force feelds fast enough. So they couldn’t Pull or Push for themselves. We Avor’I had to do it all.”

“So,” Bart sent, “this time, you want to take a team of humans to Perinent by ship, and teach them to do their own Pulling and Pushing?”

“Quite so,” said Balzo.

“Did you have a Teacher species to train the Skobar, or did you also do that yourselves?” asked Bart.

“That was another of our mistakes,” said Balzo. “We planned to oose Avallin, who are good teachers, but they couldn’t get inside the Skobar mindset at all. Eventshuly we got a couple of Tuglay, but we still had to do most of the teaching ourselves. That, of course, put the project way over time and budget. We lost plenty of credits on that one.”

Bart signed that he was considering the matter. Eventually, he said, “Humans, the best of them at least, learn very quickly. I think you should give them the best teachers – which means Tuglay.” (The Tuglay – pronounced “toog,” “lie” – are renowned for being able to teach almost any subject to almost any Galactic species.)

Balzo nodded. “One couple of Tuglay should be within our budget.

“We need, I think, just two more speshes in our team. First, we already have a family of Cherubim assigned to the camp, to guard the Punishment Pit.” To which, Bart signalled assent.

“Last, and most important of all,” said Balzo, “are the Hoomans themselves. We took sixteen Skobar to Perinent, and I think that number was about right. Eight would have been too foo, thirty-two too many. So I want to take sixteen Hoomans for our team.

“What I would like u to do, Bart, is identify which sixteen individals we should look to take, plus a foo reserves. They should be from different parts of the planet, but should easily be able to commoonicate together. I believe their language is called” – and he spoke very carefully, as if using the word for the first time – “Inglish?”

“Many humans speak English, but not all,” said Bart. “But all the best educated among them speak at least some of it.”

“Good,” said Balzo. “They must all, of course, be individals with good Galactic potenshul. They should be evenly divided as to gender. They must be able to spend time away, so will not have families. And u will need to find, among them, one to be team leader. A thinker, with at least some manadzheral ability.”

“Roger,” said Bart, and then when Balzo looked confused, continued, “that is English for ‘I understand, and it will be done.’”

“Inglish is a very concise language, no?” said Balzo, smiling.

The meeting continued to more mundane things, like budgets, expenses, risks and mitigations. But a milestone had been passed. The project to bring the human race into the Galactic fold had formally begun.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Chapter 1. A Tale of Three Species

From: Professor Bart Vorsprong
Department of Species Emergence
Company for Galactic Advancement

To: Galactic Association
Secretary’s Office
Reference: DSE/11044/BV


The case of Sol-3

Thank you for your request for my comments and suggestions on the situation on the planet Sol-3, which its inhabitants call “Earth.”

My comments are not only for my fellow Galactics, but also for the inhabitants of Sol-3 themselves. I therefore begin with some background already known to most Galactics.

For a species to be accepted into the Galactic Association, Junior Section, they must have outgrown the primitive. They must have reached Level Three civilization. That means, in essence, that they have been through three transitions since achieving Level Two. One, the Personal Transition, where the members of the species come to understand themselves for what they are – honest, moral, peaceful, independent, civilized individuals. Two, the Social Transition, where they organize themselves to bring objective justice to every one of them. Three, the Economic Transition, where they become the masters and custodians of their planet.

The birth of new Galactic species is rare, and many things can go wrong before or during birth. Therefore, when species approach acceptance as Juniors, the Galactic Association studies them, and recommends action if appropriate.

The Sol-3 Species and their History

The Sol-3 species call themselves humans. They are oxygen breathers. They are mobile and have two legs. They are bisexual. They are a little smaller than, and far less long-lived than, the Galactic median. They have unusually high mental aptitude, though most individuals never reach anything like their potential. Many of them are dynamic and industrious, though they have also many lazy free-riders.

Their planet Sol-3, which they call Earth, is smaller than average for a planet supporting intelligent life, but is rich in variety. It is well stocked with natural resources, most of which the humans have either not yet recognized as resources, or not found yet, or consider not yet worth exploiting. And, while parts of it are liveable for many Galactics, much of it is colder or wetter than the conditions favoured by most.

Perhaps partly because of their cold, wet planet, the humans are a fast moving species. They achieved Level One civilization only a hundred and twenty or so generations ago. After much stagnation and backsliding, they reached Level Two just twenty generations ago, at what they call the Renaissance.

Their development has followed the political model. About ten per cent of Galactic species have had politics in their past. The political model involves the acquisition, by a relative few, of power over the many, and its maintenance by means of violence, fear and deceit.

Where a species has had a political phase, and survives to become Galactic, in every case the political sub-species disappears, dying out at the latest by the completion of the Social Transition. Those that use or orchestrate aggressive violence, intimidation or fraud either reform themselves and are absorbed back into the species, or are ostracized out of existence. However, this has not yet happened on Sol-3.

The humans’ Personal and Social Transitions began some dozen generations ago, with what they call the Enlightenment. The Economic Transition came a little later. It began in earnest only six or seven generations ago, when the economy started to move from agriculture to industry.

For a time, all seemed to go tolerably. The Economic Transition spread slowly indeed; but it spread. And, just as agriculture gave way to industry, so in time did physical industry begin to give way to mental industry. The Social Transition, too, made progress. The rule of law, and the idea that government should be for the benefit of the governed, became widely accepted. And the political sub-species, in many areas undergoing the Transitions, felt the need to cede nominal power to the people, through a system called democracy.

But, unlike the standard Galactic species-birth, where the Transitions are eagerly accepted by the majority, on Sol-3 there has been great resistance to them. There are still inhabited parts of the planet, which neither the Social nor Economic Transition has reached. And the Personal Transition has stalled. Those, who have been and are going through it, are seen by many as odd, and by the political sub-species as objects of hatred and persecution.

Today, the Sol-3 species are backsliding. The politicals are trying to stop, even to reverse, the Economic Transition. Far from being encouraged to make themselves masters and custodians of the planet, humans are being forcibly taxed and regulated down into a stagnant, dreary, unsustainable economy. And large parts of the planet are being allowed to run wild. That is not custodianship! That is not making their planet into a home and garden fit for a Galactic species!

As to the Social Transition, in even the most advanced areas of the planet, the politicals are in control. In some places, they are able simply to rule as they want to. In others, democracy is supposed to defend the interests of the ordinary humans against the rulers. But the politicals have subverted even democracy.

For, by propaganda, deception, threats and offers of favours, the politicals have enslaved many of the population. They have made them into zombies, who – while not actively taking part in the politicals’ violence, intimidation or fraud – still support the political system through voting for the politicals. The politicals then claim that the votes of the zombies have given them what they call a mandate. A mandate to oppress and exploit the entire population.

Comparisons with the Past

The situation on Sol-3 suggests parallels with some cases of the past. At the risk of telling Galactics what they already know, I will review three relevant examples.

On Melox-8, where a political sub-species and a potentially Galactic sub-species were vying for control of the planet, we decided to do nothing. That was a mistake. For the violent, deceitful political sub-species exterminated their peaceful, honest rivals. We lost a species – and, very soon, we lost more. For, to prevent that political species polluting the whole Galaxy with their violence, intimidation and dishonesty, we found ourselves forced to destroy them and their planet.

On Qasi-3, we took the opposite tack. We rushed in with military might to defend our potential Galactics. We expunged the political species from the planet. But the results were not encouraging. The inhabitants of Qasi-3 did, indeed, become Juniors. Yet, perhaps because we had deprived them of an opportunity to grow by solving their own problem, they proved weak and feeble-minded. They never made it to Galactic adulthood.

Happier was the outcome with what used to be Vivro-2A. There, we transported all those with Galactic potential, who were willing to go, to the sister planet 2B, leaving the politicals in control of 2A. When, in due course, the politicals blew up their planet, the inhabitants of 2B – now renamed Vivro-2 – were ready for their Junior Galactic status. They are now fully adult, and active in the Galactic Association.

Unique aspects of the Sol-3 case

There are, however, two significant differences between the current situation on Sol-3 and the examples I have given above.

The first is, that in all three past examples there were two sub-species competing – a political one, and a potential Galactic one. But on Sol-3 today, there seem to be not two sub-species, but three. On the one side, the developed humans, moral agents devoted to individual freedom, objective justice, peace, honesty, prosperity and their Galactic potential. On the other, the politicals, desiring to rule over others through violence, fear and deceit. And, in the middle, numerically the largest group, the zombies. Human in potential and in many of their actions, but neither morally strong nor fully awake.

The second difference, before the current crisis erupted inside the last two generations, was classified information. The Galactic Association pursues a policy of non-contact with species not yet developed to near Level Three standards. In the case of Sol-3, though, this policy has been violated at least once. About the time of the humans’ rise to Level One civilization, a Galactic joy-rider (an Elo’I from Elo’I-1, some say) spent time on Sol-3. That visit is recorded in the books the humans call Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and the first part of the book they call Joshua.

It seems that the joy-rider tried to teach the humans the rudiments of the Galactic way, before they were ready for it. For, from that visit, there arose among the humans a religion. And, out of that religion, unscrupulous politicals have spun a huge web of myths, which has hampered the humans’ thinking and held their progress back. It has still not entirely dissipated today.


It is proven that Galactic species and political species cannot co-exist for any significant time on one planet. If the humans are to become Galactic, politics and politicals must, therefore, be extinguished from their planet.

There is a circumstance peculiar to this case. That is, the presence of the zombies. Can they be woken up? Can they be persuaded to realize their humanity? For, if the developed humans could help the zombies – or enough of them, at least – through the Personal Transition, that would tip the balance against the politicals. And so lead to the continuation and completion of the Economic and Social Transitions.

Some answer these questions with an emphatic Yes. They think we may be seeing on Sol-3 the run-up to a spectacular event, which we have seen only five times before. We may be, if all goes for the best, about to observe all three Transitions, Personal, Social and Economic, being unleashed at the same moment. We may be about to observe an Awakening.

On the other side, right now, the political species have huge advantages over the humans. The politicals’ violence, and their control of the corrupt legal system, mean that developed humans and zombies alike find it hard to resist their intimidation and deceit. The persistent suffocation of the economy, and the drain of taxation, mean that the humans cannot prosper as they deserve. Denials of basic rights, such as privacy and the right to conduct business in the most convenient way, make it hard for humans to survive as independent, civilized beings. And the politicals’ control of the media and the education system, and their habitual lies and propaganda, make even harder the already hard work of trying to persuade the zombies to wake up. Indeed, even the most developed humans find it a constant struggle to avoid being dragged down into zombiehood, or even squeezed out of existence.

These considerations lead some to believe that the task facing the humans is too great for them, at least unaided. I myself think that the balance is close. Without Galactic help, the humans might or might not triumph over the politicals. But, even if successful, it would be a long process, with much loss of lives and happiness.

This is one good reason why we Galactics must now take positive action to help the humans. There are at least two others. First, the unfortunate incident of the joy-rider lays on us, even more than usually, an obligation to help the humans. Second, the example of Melox-8. To do nothing, I think, is not an option.


Some say we should do again what we did on Qasi-3. Invade the planet with military force, get rid of the politicals, and let the developed humans and the zombies work things out among themselves. I think that misguided. Not only because, as with Qasi-3, by taking the problem entirely away from them we would deprive the humans of an opportunity to grow. But also because of the very real risk that the humans, having had an over-simplified foretaste of our morality in “Thou shalt not kill,” might see us as indiscriminating killers, and reject us as hypocrites because of it. That would be a disaster.

Others say we should try to repeat the success of Vivro-2. If only that were practical. We might, perhaps, in three or four of their generations, make Sol-4 habitable for humans, with a little judicious atmospheric and greenhouse chemistry. (It would still, of course, be far too cold for all but the hardiest Galactics.) Unfortunately, we do not have that much time. The crux point will come inside the next half generation. And interstellar transport of more than a few, to an unoccupied planet, would be too expensive. We might, perhaps, save a remnant of the developed humans that way; but they would be no more than a remnant. Transporting the humans can only be a last resort if all other approaches fail.

Another suggested plan is Vivro-2 in reverse. Transport to Sol-4, not the humans, but the political sub-species. Take them to what they call Mars, establish them in a colony and leave them to fend for themselves. This plan scores excellently for artistic merit. However, it has drawbacks too. For, unlike Vivro-2, we would not be transporting the willing. We and the humans would have to use force to round up the politicals. And we would have to establish a hard and somewhat arbitrary line between those deserving to be transported and those deserving to be left in peace. That is not the Galactic way.

Yet others say we should show ourselves peacefully but spectacularly on Sol-3. We should – loudly and with authority – tell the zombies the score, and shock them into realizing their humanity and shunning the politicals. I think that is too risky at this stage, because it might awe the zombies so much that they retreat into their zombiehoods. Then, the humans would be worse off than before.


Here is what I suggest. First, we should not hold back from using our powers and resources for the benefit of the humans on Sol-3. But second, we must be, at least initially, covert in our help, not overt. Third, we should help those humans, who are ready for the Galactic way, first to understand it, and then to teach it to all those they can reach. We must help the Personal Transition along in any ways we can without revealing ourselves too early.

But we should let the humans take the lead in their task of bringing their species to the Junior Galactic status they deserve. We should let them have their chance to be the ones who awaken the zombies, help them realize their humanity, and eliminate politics from their planet.

If they succeed, well and good. If not, we still have the more risky option of showing ourselves.

Yours in Galactic peace, prosperity and justice,

Bart Vorsprong

A Decision

It’s fair to say that my book hasn’t so far sold as many copies as I would like. Plenty of interest, but as to people actually putting their money where their interest is...

So I have come to a decision on a different way to show off the book.

What I am going to do is re-publish my book on this blog, chapter by chapter. I will aim to put up one chapter each week. Since there are 52 chapters, the process will take almost exactly one year.

So, those who like the book, but can’t afford to buy it, will have a whole year of fun waiting for the next weekly instalment.

In the meantime, those who like the first part of the book enough to want to read it all without waiting a year, can still buy the book through the normal channels.

Chapter 1 is going up today, in place of the previous samples.