Click covers for info. Copyright (C) Rudy Rucker 2021.

Teleportation Via Fear and Doubt

Even though this post could have been called PS2 Notes #11: Hylozoic, I got tired of putting that tag into my entry titles. I guess I could flag these novel notes via a Category tag at the end of each entry, but I find that too much trouble, too. The blog’s internal Search box takes care of categorization actually. Search for Hylozoic or PS2, and you’ll find the entries about the novel.

[Here, by way of segue, is an Art Sample from the Glorious Seventies.]

I was set off on today’s line of thought by a comment on my blog from RedSlime: “I think you need a good physics reason for limiting teleportation — suppose that, say, humans’ Higgs particle interactions are unique, with the difference caused by some quality of human mentation.”

Yes, what if the human ability to teleport is very rare among the intelligent beings of the cosmos? It would be cool if the Khan and need humanoids to drive the teleportation engines of their intergalactic spaceships. Maybe they’ve enslaved a humanoid race in another galaxy.

This puts me in mind of Robert Sheckley’s 1953 story ‘Specialist,’ from his landmark anthology, Untouched By Human Hands. In the story, humans are so-called Pushers, who can push starcraft to faster-than-light speeds. The starcraft is in fact a symbiotic organism composed of cooperating aliens: Walls, Engine, Thinker, Eye, Talker. Their Pusher has died, and they land on Earth to abduct a regular guy to help them.

He Pushed. Nothing happened.

“Try again,” Talker begged.

Pusher searched his mind. He found a deep well of doubt and fear. Staring into it, he saw his own tortured face. Thinker illuminated it for him. Pushers had lived with this doubt and fear for centuries. Pushers had fought through fear, killed through doubt. That was where the Pusher organ was!

Human—specialist—Pusher—he entered fully into the Crew, merged with them, threw mental arms around the shoulders of Thinker and Talker.

Suddenly, the Ship shot forward at eight times the speed of light. It continued to accelerate.

[Passage quoted above is from Robert Sheckley, “Specialist.” The image below is from Sheckley’s journals.]

It occurs to me today that this is a transreal description of becoming a writer! Doubt and fear is why I write. Also, of course, the jonesin’ for “the narcotic moment of creative bliss.” But in any case, it’s the doubt and fear that make me need that rush so much.

Back to teleportation, yeah, it’s gotta be what the Sheck-man says. Doubt and fear. That’s what makes me write; that’s what allows humans to teleport. And hardly any other beings have our levels of doubt and fear.

Certainly it seems as if animals don’t have doubt and fear in the same way that we do. If a predator comes, an animal runs away, end of story. If cornered, a rat bares his teeth and fights. Animals don’t worry about what might happen; they don’t brood over what they did in the past; they don’t mentally agonize—or at least one can suppose that they don’t. [Maybe elephants do, though. Maybe elephants can teleport, too.]

And it’s easy to suppose that the silps that inhabit natural processes don’t have doubt and fear either. Silps don’t much care if they die. A vortex of air forms and disperses, no problem.

And for the purposes of the story, we can suppose the aliens—the Kang and Rull—are also lacking in doubt and fear. They’re like kiwis/cockroaches and manta-rays/rats. So they can’t teleport either.

I still need to cook up some physics-like explanation for why the human qualities of doubt and fear entail the ability to teleport.

As a first stab, I’m thinking that having doubt and fear involves creating really good mental models of alternate realities. And being able to create good mental models of alternate realities means the ability to imagine yourself being there rather than here. And this means that we can spread out our wave functions in ways that other beings can’t. We carry out certain delicate kinds of quantum computation.

I found a version of the kiwi-like Kang’s starship in a photo supply store, it’s a black natural-rubber dust-blower bulb called Giottos Q.ball. The tip tilts over and poof, the kiwi Kang come tumbling out.

And, dig this, the Kang have a pilot. A humanoid Pusher who allows them to teleport between the galaxies. He’s black and stocky and he wears shades. He’s modeled on the jazz hero Charlie Parker! Maybe he’ll win Thuy away from Jayjay. Maybe he plays an alien instrument that’s something like a saxophone.

I’ve been listening to Charlie Parker all day every day lately—I’m a born-again late-life convert to the Church of Bepop. I’m reading this great biography, Bird Lives, by Ross Russell (Charterhouse, New York 1973). Got this picture off a KC library site. Not much video of Bird online, most of it seems to be excerpted from an unfinished movie of him with Coleman Hawkins playing first, you gotta wait a minute for Charlie.

Also there’s a nice YouTube clip of Bird playing “Hothouse” with Dizzy Gillespie at a DownBeat awards event where Charlie only gets “Alto Sax of the Year 1951” and Diz gets “All Time Jazz Great” award, which I’m sure bugged the Bird a certain amount.

I’m not so into embedding YouTube video on the blog page as I was a couple of weeks ago, as I find the embeds really slow down the page load time.

8 Responses to “Teleportation Via Fear and Doubt”

  1. Al Says:

    I can’t help but think that any organism sufficiently evolved to be able to teleport themselves through force of mentation alone has already evolved beyond the states we know as doubt and fear. (Someone once suggested to me that trees are not less fully evolved than we mammals, but more so. So much more so that they have moved past the need to move.)

    But so as not to be a partypooper, let me suggest ways in which they might do this.

    1) Let’s say that the mental universe created by sentient beings, like the physical universe, is distorted by very strong emotion, volition, or thought, in the same way that physical bodies distort the fabric of space/time a la Einstein.

    That being the case, silps could simply “roll” down the incline created by that distortion. A kind of psychic gravity.

    2) Let’s say the beings in the hyloxic web are all connected by the lines of force they create, like the lines of force created by electromagnetism. These lines of force are not only connections, but pathways. They can attract and repel.

    3) It might be akin to a spider’s web: a spider feels a vibration on it’s web, and travels toward that vibration, being careful to travel on the non-sticky axes of the web. The vibration being intense mental activity. Would more potent silps prey on the less potent ones?

    4) We can always fall back on parallel dimensions or the infinite worlds posited by string theory, etc. Them new-fangled theories sure is handy! But I’ll leave that to others better versed in physics than I.

  2. Dr. Quackenbush Says:


    Although I am having yet another “bad hair day” in the lab…. I am convinced through a profound enlightenment in my speculative research linking “teleportation and sneezing”…. that given sufficient quantities of highly specialized and refined detergents that all of us can literally “sneeze” our way to a new and wonderful world…. what extraordinary freedom and stability awaits us! …. not necessairly through “teleportation,” rather “possible teleportation.” Perhaps this sounds naive and all too idealistic for the lackluster positivist sciences…. yet I believe that Professor Einstein himself would immediately see the refreshing spontaneity and vitality of this seemingly absurd vision…. Einstein being certainly familiar with the great parisian tobacconists classic snuff preparations…. Indeed, this highly speculative research will perhaps ignite once and for all a spontaneous energy that will ultimately direct us to a true and dearly beloved teleportation!…. forever grounded in the eternal romanticism and sensibility of the great mystics…. fear not Professor!

    —- Dr. Quackenbush [aka linus]

  3. Steve H Says:

    Dr Q, wait! Don’t lesnerize!

  4. Rudy Says:

    Al, I disagree with your remark that “any organism sufficiently evolved to be able to teleport themselves through force of mentation alone has already evolved beyond the states we know as doubt and fear”.

    The smarter you get the MORE doubt and fear you have!

    I don’t see doubt and fear as negative qualities, but rather as essential human qualities, they come with empathy and an ability to imagine other realities.

    That’s what Sheckley was getting at.

  5. Al Says:


    Sadly, I haven’t read “Specialist.”

    So could other emotions that humans experience in a far more complex way than animals (love, pity, humor, anger, pride, curiosity, greed…) also be used as sources of energy?

    I guess I’m wondering, Why doubt and fear? Why not some positive emotions?

    Because doubt and fear are integral to the creative drive, which is inherently restless, abhoring vacuums?

    Because they’re more dramatic, and the task at hand is to write compelling fiction?

    Someone I know likes to say that “people are motivated by two things: fear and greed.” I like to think we’re more complex than that and that carrots are more motivating than sticks.

    I’m wondering too if imagining alternative realities, or even just imagining what we’re going to do tomorrow, things that dogs can’t do, are emotive or abstract parts of human thinking? I mean, dogs can’t do math, either.

    Sorry, I tend to ramble….

  6. Rudy Says:

    I have a long answer, see my March 5, 2007 post.

  7. Peter Says:

    What are the dangers of catching wind of the doubt and fear early on? The benefits? Every human has those currents running through them, but I’m talking about when the real urgency kicks in. It’s like real creative need, it’s tangible. I’m still getting into the conversation here, so I’ll keep reading along to see how this progresses. Thanks!

  8. James Garfield Says:

    I remember Sheckley’s “Specialist”. Their ship had been in some sort of accident, and their Pusher (ie, human), got killed when he was slammed into a rigidized bulkhead (WALL). The ship (THINKER) knew they had to get back to Earth where the Pushers lived, but all they had for power was the ENGINES (sublight only). It had taken a long long time, but finally with great effort the SHIP dragged up to Earth and Talker went out to hook up (literally, as talker interfaced via very slender probes into the brain) with a Pusher. But apparently things had changed pretty drastically since any SHIP had been here last. We are led to believe that the SHIPS recruited early humans to be Pushers, but now we had developed and evolved and become (to the gasp of THINKER) UN-SPECIALZED. But the SHIP was desperate and they needed a PUSHER, so they picked up a guy and brought him on board, and he was understandably distressed and agitated… until TALKER sneaked up and got a probe into his brain. And eventually, they got down to business and the PUSHER remembered what his speciality was… and the ship leapt forward in hyper-speed once again. Did I remember it about right?? Good story.

Rudy's Blog is powered by WordPress