Looking back at our Future.
In the last 5000 years, many civilisations have grown and flourished. Some we know a lot about, Greek Roman Aztec and some we know little of, Minoan, Olmec and that other one that nobody can ever remember. And that’s just on one planet. And there are almost certainly others that we know absolutely nothing of; they vanished taking their knowledge with them. And yet they existed.
And that got me thinking; in the future, I’m sure that we will finally solve our differences and set out into the galaxy. Each planet that we colonise will be like one of the old civilisations, it will develop and flourish, or it will fail and decay. Given that we will take all our human emotions and vices with us, the future will probably be as exciting and difficult to predict as the past. And who will know or remember after 5000 years of Galactic colonisation, which planet was first, or what it was like? Will we be scrabbling around in the dust of a ruined sarcophagus or chipping pieces of plastic from under a mountain of rubble? Perhaps they will lift broken laptop computers to the sky and mutter “Hmmm, it must have been a ritual object.” As usual human nature will ensure that history will be written by the victors and the past will be modified to fit the prevailing political and cultural mood. War, natural disaster, isolationism and religion will also colour memories and turn facts into legends.
So with this in mind, I sent myself 5000 years into the future and turned around to look into the past. I was indeed fortunate to have assistance in this quest in the form of the highly respected cloud-magazine “Galactographic,” which seeks out the most interesting items of Galactic history, nature and science for its articles.
The present editor Lev Alysom is descended from one of the legends of Galactic exploration so it’s in his genes to want to explore. Each issue in his editorial he gives the prevailing ideas on the biggest questions of the day. I’ll leave you with his capable touchpen.
Where did we come from?
It’s a very emotive question and one that every citizen is asked at some point. If you’re a seasoned traveller you probably get asked it a lot.
In these days of the fifth Federation, it’s not supposed to matter if you’re ‘Old World,’ ‘New World,’ or if you come from the Mud Pits of Thall because we’re all citizens of the Federation. The official line is one thing but of course being human we feel the need to belong, we like to have an identity. And to be able to say ‘My Planets better than your Planet’ to anyone who is listening.
So if you hail from Wishart or Tauro or Callo you can be assured people will mutter ‘Old World,’ in a slightly jealous and deferential way. Reply Nara, Beldix or Agamen and eyes will roll and you’ll be expected to be uncivilised and provincial.
So that’s where you come from, where WE come from is slightly harder to define.
We’re all ‘New World’ really since all of us were born in a world that was not the origin of our species. Some of these worlds are ‘Older’ than others, that’s inevitable but none of them are the ‘One.’
And where was it? We know through universal legend that it was called ‘Earth’ and we know it was in Sirius somewhere but that’s about it. To explain why we don’t know any more we need a brief history catch-up.
In the days of the First Federation, the Capital was a place called Brethren’s Host on Wishart. The first Federation was a quasi-religious society with a single deity and a rigid structure. Inevitably there were tensions and what we now know as the Holy Wars were the result.
When Brethren’s Host was destroyed all of the central records of the past were lost. We can only speculate at what they contained. It was one of the most devastating losses of the wars. (And that’s saying something)
In the aftermath, planets were given a choice, join a new Federation, a looser and less restrictive one or continue in religious harmony. It was a pity no-one had thought of that before the killing started but when mankind moved into the Galaxy he brought all his faults with him. The result was the formation of the Second Federation and the Coalition of Independent Worlds.(Proving human nature again, the restrictive religious one was called the Independent Worlds, as if to convince the populous) The new Federation was less authoritarian and desperate not to make the mistakes of the past.
Obviously, we can’t tell what knowledge from before the Holy Wars survives on the Independent Worlds since few of us ever go there (or return) but here we are left with contradictory remnants. It seems, however, that to ensure less tension no effort was ever made to rebuild a collective memory in our part of the galaxy. The very idea was seen as stirring up trouble.
With no requirement to do so, no planet really likes to admit that it’s not old and cultured if it thinks it can get away with it and any suggestion that it may be the oldest is promoted. Hence everywhere now claimed to have been settled directly from Earth although no records existed. Time passed and nothing was done to correct this, mankind muddled through and in the end, the truth was lost in the fog of boasting.
The trouble this caused and still causes in the scholarly world is immense. Historians just want the truth and short of going to every world and digging holes, it’s difficult to separate the facts from the hype. Sirius being in the Independent Worlds sphere of influence doesn’t help either.
For all we know Earth is flourishing in their midst, again the popular line is that it must have been destroyed as it’s not in the Federation.
The most important fact that it shows is that even though you would expect not to be able to lose a Planet, it happens.
I know that ‘Galactographic’ is seen by people all across the Federation, and someone, somewhere, must know the one thing that we need to complete our search. So I appeal to any readers to get in touch if they think they can help us.
Back in our own time, I hope that after reading the problems of an eighth-millennium explorer you can see that they are no less than those of Columbus or Cook or Cortez.
Things disappear despite the best efforts of everyone and although it is said that nothing disappears without a trace when there is no desire to remember, it’s the people who forget. Or maybe not, after all, the official line and the personal memory are very often two different things. Perhaps Lev will get his answers and make some progress, just like the ancient civilisations on Earth were found by the intrepid and dogged explorers of our time.
The Federation features in my novel Freefall and the soon to be published prequel, Myra.