1. Ghost Town
2. The Revenants
3. New Physics
4. Assembly of the Elements
6. And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
7. Sloppy Engineering
8. Organic Arcology
9. Leviathan Awakes
10. Ascent of the São Paolo
11. This Empty Earth
The is the story line for this installment of the Gaia's Children cycle:
After Gaia removes humanity in the Great Extinction, several hundred years pass. The White City, Arcosanti, has tood deserted, inhabited only by the little creatures of the desert ("Ghost Town").
Now Gaia restored its last residents from the creatures in which their souls were placed. Most are dazes and confused—revenants from a past time. But among them are five young children who are special ("The Revenants").
The White City is the center for the revival of humanity. Meanwhile, Gaia has also changed physics, something the Old Humans had only dimly begun to see. Multiple universes seethe and writhe in every atom. Always before they have cancelled each other out. But now can they be controlled? ("New Physics").
As the New Humans gather at Arcosanti, The Elements, five children—Thera, Ari, Reif, Tewar and Pristi—gifted with the power to control earth, air, fire, water and spirit, begin to look at each other and The White City differently ("Assembly of the Elements").
Their powers cease being sporadic and manifest themselves continuously. The Children implode to create a new being, a group mind in a group body that will rebuild Arcosanti for humanity's journey into space. The Children, as The Elements, are frightening. How can you deal with an entitiy that see all around it, hear everything, and merge that perspective into a new world view? And then ACT on it? ("Implosion")
It takes a great effort of the other New Humans to trust The Five and accept their leadership. But as The Five Elements become One New Child, we know what the Good Book says: "And a little child shall lead them." —Isaiah 11:6 ("And a Little Child Shall Lead Them")
The Elements use the New Physics to build with sloppy engineering. Think it won't work? Look at a bird fly, or a fish swim or a plant grow. Nature builds beautifully precise entities with sloppy techniques. These children, The Five Elements, have dominion over the power of Nature.
And they will need it...
Let's just suppose you were going to engineer something about the size of, say, a good-sized asteroid. Just supposing.
And suppose that The Five Elements, the New Children, only need the energy found in a single C cell to extract an asteroid-sized mass of rock, soil and the city of Arcosanti, and lift it and shape it into the space arcology that will be inserted into Phobos during the forthcoming journey. Sloppy engineering would be sufficient. With a large enough mass, the loss of a few rocks, and some cracks around the edges wouldn't matter.
Recent pictures of asteroids show that they can take an amazing amount of damage. Now add the powers of the imploded Five New Children and let them surround it with a bubble of air and water. Who cares if some leaks away? The New Physics allows transmutation of rock to air, or water or even gold, useful only for its electrical properties—The White City no longer uses a monetary economy—simply by appealing to the spirit of the atoms. You do know that atoms have souls? ("Sloppy Engineering")
Of course, this is only fiction behind "The Ascent of the São Paolo," but it is thought provoking. Science-fiction and fantasy often precede reality. Our imaginations are never wild enough! So COULD the future really produce GOOD things from the ascent of humanity? Is there a New Physics waiting that merges the physical with the spiritual, and that allows New Humans with the right attitude to manipulate their universe?
I'd like to think so.
Once the White City, formerly called Arcosanti by the Old Humans is detached from Earth and raised just a few inches, it groans and moans as it comes to life. The Five use their powers to create a living entity, an organic arcology. ("Organic Arcology")
This leviathan awakens, and is stocked with all the life on Earth—in its majestic size it is truly an ark!—as small ecological systems for the ocean, the rain forests, the temperate woods and plains, and, yes, the desert are brought on board to join in the celebration of life with the New Humans. ("Leviathan Awakes")
Now, awake and complete, the São Paolo begins to lift into the air, powered only—oh! only? that is Old Human thinking—by the united spirits of all who form this new kind of living being. The São Paolo ascends, leaving Earth empty of humans. ("Ascent of the São Paolo")
Gaia looks skyward and blesses her Children for a safe journey to the stars, knowing that planets are only cradles. It was time for her infants to depart. Somewhat wistfully, the goddess turns back, knowing that her cradle will not be empty long. ("This Empty Earth")
Far away in Africa, a family of meerkats stands looking upward into the sky, watching a new star depart and vanish into the sky.
—Slate, Fall 2011
The cover art is from a photo in the Arcosanti Café of the Apsedra, Paolo Soleri's model for a space-faring arcology. Arcosanti itself is a little kernel inside this spaceship that is "layered like an artichoke" in Paolo's words.
In the story, the new Arcosanti itself is embedded in Phobos. Perhaps this has already happened, and is why Phobos, that Martian moon, has such a low density, and seems hollow.
Am I writing future history? Only time will tell...
- Full Album—Thematic