Genre: Space Opera
Self Publication Date: January 1st, 2024
The year is 2091. All major problems are about to be solved: the solution to the energy crisis, world hunger, and all the thorny particulars of medicine, mathematics, and metaphysics is, at most, 3-5 years away. Human civilization is starting to realize that this might not be the best of times to be alive. After all, after titanic corporations solve these irritating little problems, what the hell will people do to pass the time?
I saw him. I know he’s real. The guy they call Mr. Achimedes, now. I knew him before he had that ridiculous name. I saw him for about 40 seconds, back in the days when he was a human and not a god-priest or whatever you think he is now. It was at a conference in Houston and I was walking across a room he was speaking in, trying my hardest not to disrupt a man who was, indeed, a riveting speaker.
“Ideas of any sort have value,” I remember him saying. “Any sort, so long as its a real idea. Not something begged off, borrowed, or stolen. Whatever.”
He paced. Gestured wildly, and continued: “in fact they may be the last thing that has any value at all, after we work out how to give everyone metal and energy and whatnot. We add value to the universe by coming up with ideas. The problem is that not everyone can do that.”
I remember this clearly. He turned. Mr. Archimedes looked RIGHT AT ME with those eyes like fuel-rod pools. “In fact, only a very small number of people can do that and even then it’s only once or twice in their lives…but you gotta be valuable, right? You gotta have a reason for getting out of bed and not jumping out a window. So when ideas become not just valuable but the only thing that has value we come up with an entire language that exists not to persuade or convert, or to silence arguments or to facilitate their transmission…but simply to signal the possession of an idea. Seriously, that’s what we’re doing here, that’s what this forum is for and that’s why I’m holding this microphone and that’s why you’re all pretending to write stuff in your notebooks, and what every bullet on every slide of this presentation is really here to say: ‘I am thinking, and my thoughts have value. See how I process these complications? See how I incorporate an issue of worldwide importance into my cognition?’ It’s an elaborate social courtesy, our way of allowing everyone to have ideas, even though very few people do, even though very few people really ask questions, unless specifically prompted.”
I can’t remember how he finished this little rant, I ducked out… but Peter remembers it very clearly. Mr. Archimedes looked out at the assembled masses, asked “any questions” and smiled as every hand rose. Then he walked away. Peter says he looked sick. I’ve seen him look like that before. Like he’s afraid everyone else is a puppet full of sawdust. It’s entirely possible that was the first time he had that thought….