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Postsingular Outtakes in Children's Fairyland

We happened to stop by Children’s Fairyland in Oakland with our granddaughter yesterday, it's an awesome place: peaceful, otherworldly, highly retro, and with a good puppet show. Today’s pix are from Fairyland, and the text is out-takes from my Postsingular novel.

“She’s rehearsing a metasymphony with the Kazakhstan orchestra,” said Thuy loftily, her high pigtails swaying. “I’m going to sample it for Metotem. Don’t look so insultingly blank, you know damn well I’m talking about my metanovel. I’ve been collaging in all these great sounds and images and ideas. I’m just not ready to show it to anyone yet. Tune out, turn in, drop on.” It was typical kiqqie to f*ck with the word order of clichs, especially typical for Thuy, who thought about language all the time. She stuck out her tongue at Kittie and waggled it. “Am I ‘hot’ yet?”

[Flanked by daughter Georgia and son Rudy, holding granddaughter! Happiness.]

The Singularity happened when, encouraged by his business backers, President Dick Dibbs sent an eggcase of nants to Mars. Nants were self-reproducing nanomachines: solar-powered, networked, capable of gnatlike flight, and single-mindedly focused on transforming all available material into more nants. In a couple of years, the nants had eaten Mars, turning the red planet into a Dyson sphere of a duodecillion nanomachines, a three-millimeter-thick shell half a billion kilometers across, with Earth and the Sun trapped inside.

The stars were hidden by giant ads; in daytime the ads were a silvery background to the sky. Dibbs’s backers were well-pleased. And behind the scenes the nant swarm was solving a number of intractable problems in computer science, mathematical physics, and process design; these results were privily beamed to the nants’ parent corporation, Nantel. But before Nantel could profit from the discoveries, the nants set to work chewing up Earth.

At the last possible moment, a disaffected Nantel engineer named Ond Bergman managed to throw the nants into reverse gear. The nants restored the sections of Earth they’d already eaten, reassembled Mars, and returned to their original eggcase — which was blessedly vaporized by a well-aimed Martian nuclear blast, courtesy of the Chinese Space Agency.

[That fierce little creature in a zipper case is Sydney the Pomeranian, with a bark far worse than her bite.]

Public fury over Earth’s near-demolition was such that President Dibbs and his Vice President were impeached, convicted of treason, and executed by lethal injection. But Nantel fared better. Although three high-ranking execs were put to sleep like the President, the company itself entered bankruptcy to duck the lawsuits — and re-emerged as ExaExa, with the corporate motto, “Putting People First — Building Gaia’s Mind.”

For a while there it seemed as if humanity had nipped the Singularity in the bud. But then came the orphids.

His face rippled like a puddle in the wind, then settled down to a more handsome version: his glasses symmetrical and horn-rimmed; his hair clean and cropped; his lips clear of balm and chapped skin; his wrinkles gone; his skin pink instead of gray.

The burning bush seemed to grow to an immense size. A crystal sea of waves crashed violently at its roots, sending up wobbly drops of foamy spray, each drop ideally rendered. Above the bush were dark clouds enlivened by bolts lightning. A million beasts of the sea and the sky and the fields circled the burning bush, singing the praises of the Big Pig.

The angels usually disappear if you watch them closely — or if you ask them a lot of questions. It decoheres them. But thanks to our quantum-computing orphids, the orphidnet can show the angels without melting them away.

So ethereal a being could only be a coherent quantum-mechanical macrosystem, therefore Ond set to work decohering her. He knew that the best way to destroy a complicated quantum state is to closely observe it, that is, to ask a lot of questions about it. Ond subjected the alien to a barrage of questions and measurements, pinning down her sex, mass, energy, age, skin color, background, family size, voice timbre, food preferences, past ailments, education… Finally, with a sound like a locust’s abrupt chirp, Lama Gladax flipped from our world back to the Mirrorbrane she’d come from.

If the angels come for you again, remember to drive them away by asking lots of nosy questions. You have to keep after them, is all.

Alternately, be quiet with them, and enjoy their divine presence while it lasts.

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