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Excerpt from the journal of Zephyr Nina Anderson (Zinnia), FHEN Historian/Poet

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23 December 2094, Linville Gorge, Appalachian Free State

To begin a story with an awakening has been called taboo, but I assure you, when Earth awoke to the roar of the human engine tearing her heart asunder, killing off her eyes and ears, denying her ability to taste and feel, that she reacted with massive rage was anything but cliché.

We are the first to awake on Earth as it is now and, as we open our eyes, we find our home plundered from within.  There is no escape to Space.  Biosphere contraction grips our throat like a world anaconda, the circle of life growing smaller as the serpent eats its own tail. If anything lives through this bottleneck it will be a story worth retelling – a warning for all ages.

No sunlight reaches beneath the Permacloud. We are in constant shade, yet we are blanketed in rancid heat. There is no natural air to breathe, only filtered in the city. Toxic residue and carbon, burned oil and gas, melted plastic, pelletized trees, a once perfect atmosphere force-filled with soot. Fallout from the fires contaminates our oceans, rivers, and streams and, though it rains incessantly, we have no fresh water to drink, much less to splash on our face at the break of day.  Whether fox, cricket, sapien, or lizard, none sing joyously, and barely alive, we linger.

But, I assure you, all that has the will to live is a miracle, triumphant and autonomous, connected to all other living things, each with a story to tell in its own way, or it is we who value nothing, left unable to separate truth from lies, dark from light, we must stand together, never alone, or humanity will not survive.

So, if you are reading this, it was written especially for you – a survivor on our enraged planet – and I wonder what life is like in your damaged future. I imagine you standing in the thawed mouth of a cave over-looking the once arctic island of Ellesmere. Let’s say it’s August 17th, 2388, a date chosen, first, for a selfish reason – it’s the 400th anniversary of my father’s murder. Second, it will be four hundred years since greed and power rejected our scientist’s warnings, a decision that marks the beginning of The Areopagitavocene Era – The Age Without Reason.  And third, Earth will have compressed ten thousand years of geological change into a disastrous, dramatic, and short four hundred. If I were with you in that cave, I might summarize events of my time like this:

Early in the Anthropocene, Homo sapiens solarensis was a newly described subspecies. The frontiers of space had been breached; twenty-thousand Astralnauts spread throughout the Colonies. But my investigations show, 2094 was critical. Forty years after the Second World Surge, the Three InnerStellar Transports were complete. Billions of people vied for a few thousand positions within the Solarensis Exploratory Alliance. Those with superior biopsyionic hacks, or the most carseq credits, escaped the planet to join the SEA. The First Humans Earth Now movement, however, had their own ideas for building new worlds.

Leave no one behind!”

The chant echoed in the heart of the FHEN. Terran-bound peoples resisted the harvest of Earth by the International Stabilizing Authority.

“FHEN nemo resideo!” 

Legend has it Joshua Robert Wood, captain of the USSS Arecibo Fermi, first read the phrase in the margins of an Army Ranger manual, a relic that predated the retreat of the glaciers and democracies, before the Permacloud formed, likely it was in his father’s books. Yet no one knows how young Bryanna of New Rayleigh influenced Joshua’s attempt to relevel the Seas. I imagine it will be a story long hidden from history, but I have written it down to ensure it gets told. Despite our ancestor’s heroic self-sacrifice, most species will not survive. Venusuvian Earth Transition Stage II is here. Soon there may be nothing but rock walls that remember.

At least, I might write this, if I believed in a future hollowed by the worse yielded by human reason.  Yet, there is still a chance.  History is complicated; there are many stories, but reality is simple really – truth abides to be discovered. 

Born in 1971, I am tired . . . I am old. I have kept my journals since I was seventeen, when my father died, an unbelievable one hundred and six years.  And now I realize, as I prepare to pass on, I am one of the few who knows what Joshua and Bryanna actually did; hopefully their efforts are not in vain.  Yes, I have written everything I know of them.  I preserved what I could from the Silicon Solon, and what I personally witnessed, including the many places on Earth I visited.  I recorded our broken plans, and how such fragile things might be resown. You may find seeds of wisdom in my words, or you may never forgive the harm we inflicted on the infinite innocents, all of the living beings we killed by weaponizing geologic time, an intergenerational hyperstrike so to speak, which continues unabated, whose objective may be out of our control.  If only . . . if only we got it right the first time, long ago.

So, with the future unknown, I go to seal myself in Linville Cavern.  It is a two night walk, even in my biosuit.  I have my writings with me.  Now bound, I call them The Lost Tome of the Ecologian.  Don’t know why, I just like the ring of it, maybe one day they will be found.  I stop and take a last view from the aerie of Table Rock and recognize all is still beautiful, despite smoke from the Trial Lift that thickens the distances.  I imagine once, on a clear day, I could have seen almost half way home, to the sea.  Well, I am master of my world for a little longer.  Behind the clouds, the sun has just set.  It is time to begin my walk, no need to run.  I’ll go quietly, softly without a trace, as in darkness devastated air cools and life retreats in its own wake.

 

 

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Thanks for visiting.  For sample reads, and a few quotes, please see here and the “Excerpts” page.  Directly below is part of Chapter 3 titled “Silicon Solon’s Carotene Pen”.  It is a quick sample that introduces Nicolas, one of the main characters, but to read more, and in textual order, go to the “Excerpts” page first.  There you will find all of Chapter One “Atavistic Environmental Touchstone Architect,” and Chapter Two “The Lost Girl of Mars Ten.”  These chapters introduce Joshua and Bryanna, respectively.

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. . . from Chapter 3 out of Part 1, “An Ancient Song of Mourning” . . .   

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“Silicon Solon’s Carotene Pen”

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Nicolas ran in pursuit of something quite the same as himself. He wanted to feel alive and welcomed the chance to disappear into the forest, only to emerge more than whole. Despite the damaged landscape, he sought secret places to explore, spaces to immerse his spirit, or at least redoubts he could enjoy, if only for a few minutes. He knew his fate was intertwined with that of the Earth, but he still longed for its broken refuge. He ran to escape the truth, while he feared answers to his errant questions would intrude. And he knew, if the path was taken too far, his run could lead to exile. We should forgive them. They know not what they have done. We will absolve them by what we do.

Time before the Second World Surge passed through Nicolas’ mind as quickly as his life manifest in New Rayleigh. He mourned the destiny of the land under the guidance of the failed democracies. The will of the people subjugated the final untamed frontiers, they subdued the inhabitable Terran brace. Their world was stable, they took what they wanted, then the seas releveled and The Chaos came.  Would it have been different if they knew how bad it would be?  Would we still be forced ex situ into the Colonies?

Biosphere contraction was a malaise that depressed Nicolas’ soul. He ran through the thinned forest and its demeanor touched his heart as surely as the waves that rolled over his lost home. No, the damage was self-inflicted. Previous generations failed to protect those who came after, their kingdom had flourished, and now it was gone. But Nicolas still had faith. He believed the sorrowful veil of the Permacloud would part and humans would live again; live free and unrestrained again. Humans would live without fear of the Ocean, without fear of the heat, without fear of the wind and the rain.  They would live without fear of the sky itself; the vast tumultuous purple sky that loomed overhead like a raucous storm on an inverted Sea. No matter, we can rebuild again when we get out from under this Cloud. We will rebuild in the Colonies. We will rebuild and call another place home.

Nicolas picked up speed through the sparse trees of Umstead Park. Dark Asperatus undulatus clouds rolled in from the north and west. Light gusts tousled the branches and multi-colored leaves sprinkled to the expectant forest floor. He noticed a crisp green leaf cutting across a span of water by the trail, adrift on a tiny corner of space, like a small boat blowing on the wind, its crew hoping to make the best of where they might land. The Three Sisters InnerStellar Transports were ready to sail the Solar Sea as well. To not go forth and multiply in the Colonies, and instead remain Earth-bound, would be to lie fallow, senescent, and unsown. It is our moral duty. Failure is not an option. The Trial Lifts must yield results, the Three Sisters transports must succeed.

The red mud of Reedy Creek splashed from under Nicolas’ biosuit clad feet. He recalled a vague memory of running with his father on a beach. He thought of his abandoned home, islands falling prey to waves, a graveyard for a thousand ships under the sea. They were tenuous recollections, not because the current terrain was strange, but because all ecosystems had distended to unfamiliarity. The sandy, sea-side borders were gone.  There were no marching armies of fiddler crabs nor turrets of periwinkle snails on Spartina grass like when he played with his dad.  Little contact with the Sun’s rays remained. Where heat once burned tender toes, water now covered mansions and flooded luxurious escapes. It was as if memories from before the Relo War were from a different era, a different epoch even, one extirpated from life forever. Now was a new geologic span – the Areopagitavocene – loosely translated as ‘No Age of Ares Rock’, but Nicolas knew its real meaning – The Age Without Reason. There was neither rhyme nor reason to remaining on Earth, history was no longer underpinned by the firmament; the Solar Sea had opened up and swallowed everything. His body was encased in an alien ilmythril alloy. The land, the people, the animals, and the trees, all of existence, succumbed to the dank heat; the world itself struggled to remain. But why, for what reason? Nicolas stiffened his stride and ran to the song that played in his head. Yes, I know why, tomorrow is the Trial Lift. I will never give up. The Solarensis Exploratory Alliance needs us in the Colonies.

The lakeside view invigorated Nicolas and gave him hope. Protected by the surrounding hills, the shoreline harbored the last stands of mature trees within the walls of New Rayleigh. The short distance between the Park and the Codex Tower, neither more than four miles from his apartment, did little to separate his recreational and professional responsibilities. But it was enough. It had to be enough. He could not leave the city in good conscious without preparations for the neural checks and bioscan gates. Like his carbon sequestering mini-drones, Nicolas had to stay close – work always called. I can cover this distance and leave my job in the Codex for a short while. This is my time, this is my run. Since when do I have to make excuses to speak with myself, alone.

But he knew he could not escape his commitment to the Trial Lifts by running. At the vanguard of science, the Codices propelled humanity off Earth. He had dedicated his life to the International Stabilizing Authority. He had to be healthy in body and spirit. Running by the lake was nothing more than strength training, mental attenuation for re-entering Astrayl Tower. And he knew it. One day I will explore further afield, maybe even Lift. There I‘ll live without this carseq unit in my throat. Then I’ll run only for myself.

Nicolas increased his biosuit’s impact quotient.  His armored feet pounded the Earth toward his destination with more force. He had turned off his Aeta and savored the quiet without her.  He anticipated a few moments atop the rocky promontory in peace. A solemn morning haze came in off the lake’s face.  He breathed it deep. The CO2 tainted mists entered his throat, but thanks to his graphene filtering, he did not notice the ambient particulates that adhered to his tracheal screens. I don’t think these trees see me, even as I take carbon from their air, but I wonder what passes through their secretive networks as they breathe?

He revered the trees in Umstead State Park. They had their own way of speaking, though regal personalities were muted by broken crowns, dialects of splintered trunks mangled by incessant storms that tore off limbs. Locals sarcastically referred to the once verdant landscape as Stumps Instead. Yet Nicolas ran through what remained of the forest with an appreciation for its tenacity. He relished the psychedelic blur of the colorful faux-November leaves; a fresh deciduous lime green here and there, with many hued to fall as red, yellow, and orange carotene. He imagined the poly-chromatics that passed his retinal scanner as a scene reminiscent of concerts from the Age of Aquarius; an era maligned, though not yet completely purged by the arc of time. Either way, Nicolas felt fine on his run through the woods. The damaged Earth did not preclude joys he shared with distant ancestors; running the edge of trees by an expanse of water to the call of a visceral song.

Nicolas streamed Jimi Hendrix in from the Silicon Solon, from the Summer of Love. He increased his impact quotient, communing with the echoes of All Along the Watchtower, and ran more quickly through the downtrodden landscape. His eyes widened, then squinted, as he dodged low branches and, with each wail, each guitar riff, each foot placed ahead of the other, he ran to escape his responsibilities. Running made him feel alive and gave him solace, the music spurred his imagination of the forests that must have been. Mom told me my great, great grandfather was at Woodstock. Now that is a legacy I can appreciate.

The music seized his thoughts and the forest floor reverberated under his feet. He ran into the light breeze. It carried the ever-present purple haze of burning wood and soot, the pungent smell of sulfurous smoke, the peripheral flitting of what once might have been Carolina parakeets.  He hungered to see around the next corner, expectant of the next vista or hazard to overcome, while the beat drove him forward faster, revealing old stories in new ways, live-linking him to a power sourced from another time and place. Being biopsyionically naked, without his Aeta’s mediation, his natural senses were heightened to the interpretive task. One day, when we inhabit another planet, we will explore and run free like we once did. We will discover unknown, secret places and replace those that have been lost to the past. Humanity will not be at childhood’s end, but at childhood’s beginning. We will be Homo sapiens solarensis.

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“I’ll tell you kid, if the Sea goes sideways again, you’ll have to hold on by your fingernails until the bitter end.”  – Evander Freeman, RUPTURE Engine Owner

Evan is speaking with sixteen year old Bryanna about his experience with sea releveling during the Second World Surge in the late 2050s when the oceans spilled “sideways” over the landscape, no longer going up and down under influence of the Moon like they had for thousands of years.  (Sideways like the cover of the book.)

In the next quote, from The  Lost Tome of the Ecologian, Zinnia imagines a “great drift of woods” occurred during Meltwater Pulse 1A; an event approximately 14,500 years ago when the oceans last invaded vast swaths of coast.

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“The remains of great forests were strewn along the beaches like ancient alabaster statues waylaid by the Sea, worn smooth by time, struggling to ever rise, limbs as arms, knots on trunks resembling knees, but forever broken, roots ripped out from under their feet.”

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Zinnia wonders what it was like when the seas rose; what her ancestors experienced as they were forced to flee their primeval homes.  She speculates sea level was relatively stable on both sides of the Last Glacial Maximum 20,000 years BP, so they had accumulated much to lose.  She also imagines massive forests stood along the coasts of the world for thousands of years, only to be tossed aside by the Sea.  How large were human coastal settlements?  What stories did they tell themselves to explain the rise?  What did they sing as they marched to new lands?  Sad laments?  Probably so.  Trail-blazing motivationals?  Maybe some, but not all.   Which stories were lost from generation to generation?  Will they ever be found?  Which are repeated today, unknowingly with such deep roots?  Will humans tell ourselves similar falsehoods after cataclysmic climate change, or will all be forgotten?

Though Zinnia is not the center of action in UpLyft Protocol, her generational influence runs under the words and through the text, mostly quiet and unseen.  However, you may catch more than a glimmer of her presence.  Zinnia is always there, like the history of Earth under our feet.

For Bryanna, however, the story she hears from Evan is for a specific purpose – to aid her survival – over a narrow, compressed window of time, just as it is for humans today.  A story story that situates the ever-present past in the human now and remind us, as long as history continues to be “discovered,” that new stories of survival and triumph will inevitably emerge, whether or not we welcome the conditions under which they arise.

Biosphere Lost views our human story, and where it might lead, through the lens of science and of fiction.  History is a great earthen field we walk through every day, finding touchstones to our human past here and there, by accident or intentionally.  Neither epochal natural events, nor a bee’s temporary arc of flight,  have ended since we gained the ability to watch happenings on Mars with hand-hewn tools at our fingertips.   

With that introduction, thank you again for visiting.  I do hope you enjoy the reads.  

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