Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Convergence

I guess it's only a matter of time before I end up writing a piece of fiction here. I've been threatening it through the BOAPW (Best of All Possible Worlds) pieces that I've been playing with.

And yes, that is the purpose of fiction, Uncle John. Play.

So, it may be like watching sausage making, this gruesome blundering of mine as a poor substitute for worldbuilding. There have been inept attempts at producing some kind of science fiction world, some abortive. Some mutagenic. Still, this thinking out loud that I've done, through these essays, I think I'm getting close. I'm starting to realize what aspects of this world I wish to construct are worth pursuing, and what other aspects are superfluous, or not particularly enticing. Those who are sticking with this prose exploration, I apologize, although I'm starting to think that any fiction that comes out of this is going to have fan base of perhaps one. Me.

What the hell, maybe it's all just catharsis anyway.

But I am at a point where my universe is starting to come together. And 'universe', first of all, is the most important operative concept in this sordid little drama I'm working on. As in, the whole damn, as in "make no small plans", as in, big enough to insure that the most outrageous things are possible within it. Am I making it too easy on myself? Or could it be I'm building entirely too big of a house to ever furnish properly?


But that's the most important component. The possible. And the best of all possible. Let's start with that particularly awkward acronym. It's a worthwhile turn of phrase, owing everything to the novella Candide, which I've never read. But, that story, penned by Fran├žois-Marie Arouet Voltaire, savaging, albeit in a playful manner, Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz as the character Doctor Pangloss, is where I am getting that operative slogan: "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds".

And yes, I tire of the BOAPW acronym, and now give it a new name, The Convergence

(Which, by the way, I'm trying to do blogger maintenance and go back and label all the commonly themed essays with the label 'The Convergence').

I call this fictive universe the Convergence for the same reason one speaks of a convergence in mathematics, and specifically, using infinite series. Bear with me here for a second, and let me see if I can explain my chosen nomenclature.

Let's say I take a series of numbers, and add them up, and that series continues all the way out to infinity. For example, the series 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... is added up in an infinite series 0+1=1, then 1+2=3, then 3+3=6, then 6+4=10, then 10+5=15, etc. all the way out to infinity. The answer of this series, summed up, is infinity. And in mathematics, this is called a divergent series.

Are there number series that don't add up to infinity? Are there series that converge to a limit, that are convergent? Consider the halving fractions, the geometric progression: 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32,... and when you add up the series, you get, 1+1/2= 3/2, then 3/2+1/4=7/4, then 7/4+1/8=15/8, then 15/8+1/16=31/16, then 31/16+1/32=63/32... So it looks like the series can be added up to 1/infinity and never quite get to 2! And that's what happens.

It turns out there are all sorts of infinite series like this, that will converge to some number, even though they have an infinite number of terms to add up. And I borrow this concept for those possible worlds, within all possible worlds, where we, as a species, survive. Since we, as a species, survive, this the best of all possible worlds. 

(What is so important about we, as a species, surviving? Well, I'm in the stories. It's about me, right? So it's probably best that humanity get to tag along as well). 

As it turns out, in my pretend world, all those possible worlds where we survive, big picture and long term, eventually converge to that one world, thus termed The Convergence.

(And yes, I know the unfortunate tendency in science fiction to whup out the capitalization for important shit, and I will try to keep it to a minimum).

So, all of those worlds where we don't make it? Those are called Divergences.

What else? How is this all known? I took a shot at it in the essay "2050CE: A Fable". And in that particular parallel universe, wherein Mark Everett, son of Hugh Everett III, is not a mathematically challenged rock and roll star, and wherein Hugh Everett III, PhD, has produced a coherent set of equations that allow for the empirical and theoretical exploration of parallel worlds. These are discovered in the basement of the family home, and are called, appropriately enough, The Basement Equations.

And they allow for, among other technological marvels, such as wormholes (once, of course, the materials science and ancillary technologies are up to speed), the construction of the Peranoscope.

Google tells me this word does not exist. Google suggests "panoscope" or "pianoscope". Hmm. I kind of like pianoscope, but no.

Kurman has created a neologism! I construct this word, from the Greek peran-, an apparently accusative case of an obsolete derivative of the word piero  "to pierce", meaning "beyond, over, across, on the other side, farther side", and scope (like microscope, or telescope). And the peranoscope (though important, I don't think it needs constant capitalization) is a device that allows one to see all possible outcomes to an action. 

A Peranoscope
It shows you what happens if you had chosen heads instead tails, gone left instead of right, or even that you could not have gone left, but only right. And with the peranoscope, one can find one's way into that world known as the Convergence.

Is this enough masturbation for one essay? I think so. The hard part is, you know, actually writing a story to inhabit this worldbuilding exercise.

Oh, wait, what about those aliens? The Kraken? Comic relief, maybe? I've a feeling this story will need a light touch, ala Stanislaw Lem (big, big fucking fan, RIP).

Oh, and what about those abandoned Texans? The ones thrown millions of light years from Earth, and thousands of years into the past, feeling maybe a little resentful and orphaned? Well, I don't want to get the story line too complicated, but they are there just in case I need to write a space opera, with cattle. 

I mean, who better to chew up the scenery in florid melodrama then our friends from down Texas way, now, uh, out Fornax way?

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