Today a strange story, the second in the 'ravelling yarns' series. The first is here.
It won't be to everyone's taste, but if you've not disliked the recent posts,
you might not dislike this.
It's tongue in cheek as ever, and based on lessons being learnt at the feet of the great ideasmiths in the blogrolls on the left-hand side.
I'll avoid infodumps, despite agreeing with Kim Stanley Robinson, quoted today at Strange Horizons.
The inspiration came especially from the discussion still running at Ecumenical Monday, Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker and a chance listening to Johnny Cash's cover of Redemption Day and Arcade Fire's Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). I strongly recommend you listen to both of these before reading, and best of all in this order.
They come mostly from the very edge of the solar system, from the Kuiper belt or rare scattered disc. They come when they've got as far from us as they can without joining the shock surveys or taking a voidship out towards the Oort cloud. And when they've seen there's nowhere to hide. Seen that the Sprawl laps at every shore and the Men of Great are within them for as long as they stay insystem. Then they leave their stroidsteads and hitchskip in lighters from rock to rock, until they take passage on a freighter in past the giants and along the ever-brighter arcade of fire, all along that long route in, through the plasma streams and into the inner enclave, to where we thought it all started, right up to the roil of Sol itself. They come to Mercury, from where the energy flows, and they come to Heaven's Gate.
At the Gate the Keepers understand the gloaming of those who come, or appear to understand it. Sophisticates twitch and register and data is bled away; the technologies are applied; technologies of logos and mythos - Blogos. Everything is good - and apparently within the Law - and maybe that's the trouble? As the body is withered and its purpose refined, the mind is pushed further; raised higher and sunk deeper with the rites of Xen. Over the long Monaspic Months, the human ascends, and at the same time descends, is readied to enter heavens and underworld both. And becomes a Traveller, hardened to withstand the vacuum, capacity gained. Capacity long dreamt of in dreams of an Icarus forewarned; the capacity to draw on star and gather atom for sustenance; and undreamt: to manoeuvre with infinitesimal expulsion of waste gases.
Back out along that arcade of fire the Traveller moves, the route the amino acids themselves may once have followed, through the tunnels of the Lagrangians and the shadows of the dusts; out into the caverns between stars. To see what no human eyes have ever seen, and to carry the tender memories of all that vast stream they have. Long slow arcs of space, arcs of time and arcs of thought. Redemption day, if it comes, will come long after we have passed beyond; in collision with debris from the early ages of the universe, with melting before the surface of a star, or in the streams of a singularity. Perhaps... passing further... into the chasms; among the galaxies. Freedom.