It's not only an end (maybe not the end, but definitely an end, for now), after almost two decades or more, to my exploration of the universe of the Quiet War. It was written in rather special and difficult circumstances, as the acknowledgements at the end makes clear. But I'll talk about that another time. Next week, maybe. Meanwhile, here's a short extract about one of the characters.
Dr Gagarian was a tall skinny tick-tock person some three hundred years old. His jointed carapace of black fibrogen resembled an ambulatory pressure suit or an animated man-sized insect; his major organs had been replaced by machine equivalents; his brain was laced with neural nets that formed a kind of shadow mind that stored his every thought and reaction; his eyes were dull white stones in a leathery inexpressive face. A remote, forbidding figure. Inhuman, barely mammalian. In an age where there was very little philosophical investigation, and most of that was theoretical, he was an incredibly rare beast: an experimental physicist. For the past twenty years, he and his small crew of collaborators had been attempting to identify, measure and define changes in the fine grain of space-time caused by the passing of the Bright Moment. Pabuji’s Gift, whose exploration of remote ruins often took it far from the background noise of human civilisation, was an ideal platform for his latest experiments, and its store of ancient machines and the debris of half a hundred clades and cultures provided useful components for his experiment apparatus.
Nabhomani believed that Dr Gagarian was a charlatan. A magician disguised as a philosopher, consumed by a fantasy of mastering secret powers. Nabhoj and Agrata had little time for Dr Gagarian’s experiments, either. But Aakash was convinced that the tick-tock philosopher and his collaborators were engaged on a hugely important project.
‘We are able to make a living from mining the past because so many of the old technologies have been forgotten,’ he told Hari. ‘Baseliners have given up on philosophy, and posthuman clades prefer theory to application. We live in an age that cannibalises its past because it has lost faith in its future. But with our help, Dr Gagarian and his friends will change that. We will be at the root of a great new flowering of practical philosophy. Think of what we will be able to do, once we master the principles that created the Bright Moment! New kinds of communication devices. Unlimited computational capacity within the metrical frame of space-time. New technologies, Hari. New technologies and new ideas.’
'Will we be rich?’ Hari said.
‘Everyone will be enriched,’ Aakash said. ‘That’s the important thing. Everyone will benefit, and everyone will be enriched.’