Physics came to me before I understood the meaning of the word. What I remember is that I realized there were markings in books that were neither letters nor numbers, and that those symbols were math. Math was a language spoken by people who never let on they were trying to discover God. They hid their desire behind words like "observability" and "repeatability". I came to know that mathematics was unassailable in that like the rising sun it was not something we invented, but rather, a structure underlying the universe that we encountered in our journey through life.
As a child I loved math mostly because I was good at it, but secondly, because I felt like it was the genuine trace of the hand of the creator. It was irreducable. People could argue about the meaning of Biblical terminology. They could argue whose religion was "right" and which deity was "real". They could ponder the accuracy of measurement and the interpretation of symbology. But nobody could argue addition. It worked for everyone. Even in dreams.
But I did have an underlying problem with math that inevitably stopped my intellectual growth in the subject. I could not - and still cannot - "intuit" a lot of it. The way my brain works is through recognition of patterns and consistencies. If A leads to B, and B leads to C, then there is a path from A to C no matter how convoluted and I needed to understand at a deep level what that path was. With higher math, those pathways are complex and from a distance form a matrix of reality that is densly woven like the fibers in a slik cloth. Nobody made of flesh is familiar with every single fiber of that cloth, and so we humans develop abstractions to talk about things like quantum mechanics and general relativity. This bothered the heck out of me because the engine of my brain never digested the abstractions the way it could with classical physics and calculus. Thus, when I got to university and expressed my desire to become a physicist I found myself almost instantly outpaced mentally by others in my courses who could rapidly manipulate abstractions.
So, I became an electrical engineer which I did find and still do find an incredibly satisfying profession. Because at the root of my thought process is the idea that I cannot tolerate that there might be some man-made contrivance that is beyond my ability to understand. There is a comfort level I need to exist - and that is - you can't build something that I can't figure out. Otherwise, I'll focus on it with such ferocity that the sum and total of my being will be consumed by the quest to decode your machine - so much so that I shut out in the process everything necessary for survival, and the ones who love me. This is bordering on an obsessive-compulsive disorder I am sure. But my education in electrical engineering gave me the foundation to deconstruct most of the clever techie things I saw and still see around me, and so I am comfortable in my own skin.
But physics still haunts me.
When I was writing Tarantula Season I kept going back to my thin graduate-level physics background and pulling in theories from that. As we all must - I formulated my own concepts and settled on a deconstruction of physics which left a lot of mystery in my world, but gave me enough insight that I could get on with the job of being a productive part of society without causing me to devolve into OCD on some physical principle or another.
The foundation of Tarantula Season rests on a knife edge of concepts upon which my mind came to rest. That knife edge is the boundry between that which I am capable to understand, and the abstract mystery of the universe with which I must be content to have forever beyond my grasp.
Over the years I have related my theory to people, and I get the same dismissal from all of them. The religious among us are certain I have simply focused my mind upon something so untrue, it is trivially dismissed. The more advanced philosophers and scientists I speak with will nod and admit they may have happened upon the same concept - but to continue on with life they, too, like the religious, have had to discard it to get on with the deconstruction of the universe. But this idea is what lets me sleep at night and also keeps me up quite late to this day. In my mind when you read the popularized physics books on things like cosmology or quantum mechanics, you can't get more than five pages into any of the them before you realize that the author is expressing a systemic characterization of the universe in statistical terms. That is: nothing is absolutely knowable. Literally - nothing. And even worse - whatever you know comes about by the very act of you trying to know it. Absent your effort, there is nothing certain. Absolutely, literally - in every abstract and distinct notion you can summon - nothing "is", unless you ask, "what is?"
When you learn the math of this, you realize that getting in deeper with the physicists and mathematicians has only made you a deeper chasm to fall into. For there is no certitude in any of the equations, proofs, or specific solutions. So when a physicist tells you in a popularized book on quantum mechanics - you can't absolutely know the state of two quantities like speed and location (e.g. if you know where something is, you can't know how fast it is moving, or where it was moving to, and visa versa) - the fact that it reduces to some sort of average probable Hamiltonian multiplied by a state Ket Vector - leaves exactly the same question in your mind.
That question is "WTF?"
The only thing you have gained by doing the math is an absolute gut wrenching certainty that this universe of ours is some sort of continuous construction in which we take part to create.
With this backdrop I sum my deeply seated philosophy-of-life this way:
There is absolutely no difference between advanced technology and spirituality. Not in the slightest.
If this is truth to you and you're writing a science-fiction story about alien abduction - you would have to conclude that in encountering an advanced alien race we could possibly engage beings who have refined their own systemic existence within the framework of a unity between religion and a sort of engineering that is to us, in every sense of the quote from Arthur C. Clarke - "indistinguishable from magic..."
And then as is my right as a writer of fiction I presume to add my corollary:
.we have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature
exposed to our method of questioning.
- Werner Heisenberg
Your old men shall dream dreams, your young
men shall see visions.
- Joel 2:28
Elliot Canter's finger hovered above the return key for nearly a half a second before he pressed send. He was sure his conscience was about five-hundred milliseconds worried. No more than that. He had a background in
technology and worked free-lance, which meant to him that that having any job at all was the mark of mental superiority. Most importantly, he was still coded "SECRET" even after Casper Weinberger's clamp down on the liberal distribution of clearances. Because he couldn't disclose the nature of his work neither his family nor his girlfriend would ever know that his latest assignment with the FBI was mindless busy work. Like everyone else he needed to make a few bucks and
keep the bill collectors away.
The bureau needed to extract some hard evidence from the vast cache of computer data they'd retrieved from a ring of hackers they'd busted some months before. So, Elliot's days were spent constructing a narrowing cycle of database queries designed to find patterns in the hackers's methods. While he waited for the searches to run he amused himself with a variety of hobbies like investigating the whereabouts of high-school sweethearts. Setting odds on the hottest sports contest. Trolling weirdoes on internet bulletin boards.
Having access to the FBI's network gave him entry to corners of the cyber-world that were as pointless as they were interesting. He'd posted a few messages on a list that focused on alien abduction and had gotten into an electronic conversation with a character who wanted to
meet him. To vouch for his credibility Emil Lazlo had sent him a computer address to try for some very specific data. Elliot put that request into his "Notebook of future great achievements," and worked on it in his spare time. Maybe Lazlo was a cyber thief himself and Elliot could earn a couple gold stars for bringing him down.
Government budget cuts insured the PC he used on his desk at home was more powerful than the computer the FBI was using that probably
took an entire power station to run. But his clearance gained him access to DoD networks he'd grown familiar with over the years, and his FBI contract gave him the excuse for access. So he tried Lazlo's pointer. And there in a file
encrypted with an archaic technique he found something that was trivial to decode. When it did, he got up to get a beer.
He opened the bottle, and convinced himself in two swallows that the trivial protections on the old DOD files were indicative of the
government's lack of interest. It was probably some old junk mail left around by an
imaginative and very bored DoD engineer. Five-hundred microseconds later, against every rule he had memorized to get his clearance, he downloaded the data. It sat on his hard drive for weeks while he waited for a nasty internal e-mail asking him what the contents of the file had to do with his task at hand, and he developed a cover story for that.
After a month no one had said a word to him about it and he'd forgotten the cover story.
scrolled through the messages on the internet newsgroup bulletin board and
found the original message with the DOD link. Then he hit "reply," and took a section of the file and copied it into his mailer.
"This is junk," he said to the monitor, "and I'm using it to catch a criminal."
Subject: MJ-12 ALERT
Hey, Emil, you old goat. What do you make of this?
*begin included material*
(TS/ORCON) PROJECT SIGMA/ESI
MAJESTIC ALERT EYES ONLY
ACTION REQUIRED TO ENSURE THE
SAFETY OF OUR POPULATION. REQUEST
IMMEDIATE POLICY DECISION AND ACTIVITY PROGRAM. EBES CONTINUE TO VIOLATE THE ESTABLISHED TREATIES. THE DANGER CANNOT BE OVEREMPHASIZED. RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE COUNTERSTRIKE TO
PROVE OUR RESOLVE. CURRENT PEACE
PROGRAM RECOMMENDED BY THE MAJORITY OF SEATED MEMBERS DAMAGES OUR CREDIBILITY
AND NEGOTIATION POSITION.
RECOMMENDED ACTION PLAN:
0) LAUNCH IMMEDIATE-- STAR-WARS
DEFENSE STATUS 0
1) DETAIN AND DEBRIEF ALL
ABDUCTEES AT 51.
2) TERMINATE ALL OBFUSCATION
ACTIVITY REGARDING LIVESTOCK MUTILATION
3) TERMINATE PROGRAM AQUARIUS
4) ACTIVATE PROGRAM SIGMA
5) REITERATE TECHNICAL DEMANDS
6) INFORM EBE OF OUR INTENTIONS
TO DOWN SNOWBIRDS CONNECTED WITH
BIOLOGICAL OPERATIONS UNTIL SATISFACTORY ASSURANCES FOR SAFE
CONDUCT OF AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE OBTAINED
7) INFORM EBE OF OUR RESOLVE TO ERASE THE BIOSPHERE SHOULD
TIMELINE BE COMPROMISED
PROOF OF CONCEPT IS AVAILABLE IN
ANALYSIS OF THE MESSAGES CONVEYED BY THE MOST RECENT ABDUCTEE TAKEN INTO
CUSTODY AT S-4. DECISIVE ACTION
REQUIRED TO STEM THIS TREATY VIOLATION.
SIGNATURE MAJESTIC EPSILON
*end included material*
In the time it took for him to run for a quick pee, he had a reply from Lazlo.
Subject: re: MJ-12 ALERT
That memo is authentic. I’d heard it leaked. How the hell did you get your hands on
it? The DIA disinformation crew
certainly couldn’t get it. The
President himself hasn’t seen it.
Gotta give you guys a lot of credit for your ability to hack your way
into secure government databanks.
You’re either criminals or patriots.
EPSILON is the code name for the
man holding MJ-12 seat number five.
That man is Lt. Colonel Robert T. Craig, base commander at Nellis Air
Field. Craig is also seated on the
board directing EBE/human activities at S-1, and is prime negotiator between the Zetas and the U.S. Government.
EBE = Extraterrestrial Biological
Entity -- in this case the Zeta Reticulans,
which we call
"Zetas," or "Reticulans."
ESI = Extremely Sensitive
Information Grade 39
SCI = Sensitive Compartmentalized
Information graded ESI/SCI is
classified 39 levels above “Top Secret.”
Project SIGMA is an MJ-12 program
to bring military force against extraterrestrials. This is a STAR WARZ project initiated during the Reagan administration. Proword MAJORITY
indicates “eyes only” status for MJ-12 seated members. Project AQUARIUS is code word for the
MJ-12 propaganda project to disseminate information about U.S. government
activities with extraterrestrials.
The unstated purpose of AQUARIUS is the gradual education of the U.S.
population about the existence of extraterrestrial life and terms we’ve
negotiated with them for peaceful coexistence. This plan includes release of such films as “ET-The
Extraterrestrial," and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind," as
vehicles to indoctrinate the population, thus lessening the expected
shock. Why they'd want to
terminate this program is a big question.
Since 1945 the government of the
United States has had a standing treaty with the occupants of the craft currently found performing biological
testing on livestock and abduction of human subjects; the treaty grants
permission to use livestock at will, but human subjects must be returned
unharmed. The extraterrestrial
race we’re dealing with is, in many ways, responsible for the development of
the human species: They planted the DNA seed which sprouted the human race and
have been manipulating our history through religion, mythology, and other
cultural drivers. We agreed to
cooperate with their activities in exchange for information about technology of
deep military significance.
While the EBEs are certainly more
developed and technically superior to us, we have the wherewithal to conduct
limited tactical operations against them (see project SIGMA). This could be enough to deter uninvited
activity. It's been rumored the
Air Force has successfully downed several
Zeta craft since the STAR WARZ people reverse-engineered craft retrieved
from Roswell and Long Island. It's
possible the recent cooperation with the former Soviet Bloc nations enabled us
to do this. If it's true, then we
can be sure the Zetas are pretty tweaked.
I believe the EBEs violated our
treaty by abducting and mutilating that two year-old boy taken from his home in
New Jersey. By now you are aware
of the Baby Marks case through newspapers, books, and made-for-tv movies. Notice the MJ-12 note you found says
they must require the Reticulans to let them screen all abductees through Groom
Lake? Want to guess where Sammy
Marks’s body is? Try calling your
friendly NSA personnel at Nellis Proving Grounds, Area 51, Groom Lake.
The human race has little
choice. Faced with a superior
enemy, we must fight them to the
last man. Should all else fail, we
do have a final solution and should be prepared to use it. We are the project they’ve been
conducting for the past 10,000 years, so we must consider total destruction of
their project the trump card in the game.
It’s possible the Mutually Assured Destruction nuclear overkill potential
of the cold war kept them at bay because they didn’t want us to annihilate
ourselves. Now we must be ready to
pull that trigger should they attempt to force slavery on our race. We must be prepared to use this
strength in any negotiations.
chuckled to himself as he read Lazlo's message and then stared at his fingers. "You've betrayed me, idiots," he said, then wiggled his index finger to make sure it heard him. "This guy is a nutcase jackass, not a criminal, and I've just released classified material."
Well, it wouldn't be that hard to cover his tracks digitally. Would it?
grabbed another beer.
Nah, why worry. Thank God for cranks like Lazlo. He's the one in possession of classified info that was just echoed back to me.
Subject: re:MJ-12 ALERT
> Now we must be ready to pull
that trigger should they attempt to force slavery on
> our race. We must be prepared to use this
strength in any negotiations.
Lazlo. Wasn’t there a Mel Brooks movie with this plot? I remember a
scene where a black cowboy held a gun to his own head and ordered everyone in
the saloon not to move or he’d kill himself.
This time he didn't get up, and he didn't count the seconds before the e-mail arrival bell sounded on the PC. Nobody could have read the message that fast. But the message wasn't for him. It was sent to the newsgroup.
Sender: * * *
Subject: re: MJ-12 ALERT
Emil Lazlo. Marks has been mainstreamed. We are go on your demands
re: MJ-Alpha. All you have to do is show.