by Ronald W. Hull
Universal Explorer in Deep Space: 703 BC, Earth Time
Dom was communing with the Collective. It was now 1528 rotations since
his relief. And he felt as one with them. His mission was clear, and it
gave him purpose. Though he retained his original form, his mind was melded
with the others, no matter how far away he was.
His craft was hurtling through space at nearly the speed of light, but he had long since stopped worrying about hitting something. A living being itself, the ship had an uncanny way of detecting obstacles and adjusting its speed and direction while unerringly maintaining its course. Gathering space dust and radiated energy as it went, the craft reinvented and renewed itself as it traveled--space dust in, space dust out.
The Kaleidoscope Effect is a short, historical, science fiction novel of sweeping proportions. From the Iceman, a Copper Age hunter, to a disillusioned astronomer at the end of the Twentieth Century, if you've ever wondered what will happen to ordinary people when extraterrestrials arrive, follow Albert on his quest for the answer. You won't find flying saucers, aliens, or visitors from Mars, but you will understand the meaning of intelligent, extraterrestrial life.
Dom's craft was one of billions of such vehicles, seeking a way to unite the Universe. But the Universe was vast and expanding at the speed of light, faster than his craft, and the task required all those who had been given relief. The task was simple: To seek out and relieve intelligent life. Dom had not done so yet. While life was abundant. Intelligent life was much rarer. Even in the right conditions, it took billions of years for intelligent life to evolve. Life was very fragile and the stars kept evolving, creating cataclysmic disasters that in an instant, would annihilate life in a solar system. It was almost too horrible to contemplate. Imagine a star growing old and larger, consuming its planets as it did. Unless life on those planets was capable of escaping their own system, the source of their lifeblood, they would be consumed. Hence, Dom's mission: to provide relief before the cataclysm came.
Dom was not alone on the ship. Even though he knew the thoughts of all the others, his thoughts were his own. Like his body, now made as perfect as possible, he was separate, but still part of the Universal Intelligence. But he carried it with him. He was not in touch. The distances were too great. Until the physical limit imposed by the speed of light was breached, this was the only way to proceed.
Before him in the large chamber, floated a model of a solar system the Collective was studying. It lay over 1896 light rotations off, and the Senses had been gathering information from it for many rotations. It was one of many candidates, sifted down from billions in their range, and their collective decision about it would forever determine the course of their journey. This system contained a single star, insuring more stable system gravitational forces, of medium age. It had eight primary planets, revolving with sufficient distance apart to reduce collisions, and enough matter and energy to produce life. But was there intelligent life? The third and fourth planets, and two of the secondary planets of the great, fifth planet, showed the most promise. Calculating all factors, including gravity, rotation, stability, raw material, and energy, the system most probably contained life. And, there had been time for intelligent life to evolve. But, aside from the reflected light, over 1896 light rotations old, from the system's star off the bodies in question, there was no evidence of intelligent life.
The signature of intelligent life was clear, and the Universal Intelligence knew it well. Dom had never heard or seen it, but he knew what to look for. Intelligent life forms with advanced technology communicated with electromagnetic waves that traveled at the speed of light and escaped their star systems. First, there would be faint sounds above the galactic noise, in patterns, like tapping. Then, there would be simple voices and music. Finally, images, first in monocolor, then in many colors, then in three dimensions, would flow from the planet like a beacon. These radiations developed at different time frames, depending on the planet and the nature of the intelligence, but the Universal Intelligence was infinitely patient. All that was needed for the Senses to lock on for contact was the simple tapping, insuring intelligence. The other forms would grow, like life itself, as the Explorer approached.
With a thought, Dom turned off his gravity and floated to the third planet. Colored in blue, white, brown and green, this planet showed the most promise of the lot. The blue meant water. The white signaled clouds, snow or ice. The brown was the planet itself or dead vegetation. And green signaled plant life. The Senses and his own mind told him that it was a fertile bed for life. Dom had seen such planets before, teeming with life, but the Senses had passed them by. But this planet was older than those, and more stable. It held great promise. He touched it, turned it in his hands, and absorbed its data. He could see and feel its mountains, valleys, and rivers flowing. With its gravitational field, and water covering most of its surface, he sensed an atmosphere rich and heavy, yet transparent, revealing its surface through wispy clouds of ice crystals. Yes, until a better candidate was found, the Universal Explorer would, unerringly, head for this one.
Note to the reader. If you liked this chapter you can buy the book at your local bookstore, Booklocker.com and other online stores. Sample Chapter 5: A Glimmer of Doubt. Or, if you want to publish a review or have a way for me to get the word out about the story send an email to me with your suggestions. I might be persuaded to send you a free copy.
Copyright (c) 2000 Ronald W. Hull