Bewildering Stories

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Adam S’th’rical

by John Thiel

Matter, always troublesome to man, became at last so great a problem that it was investigated as such. The inquiry determined that one of the most troublesome things about it was that it lacked spirit. How can beings who have spirit coexist with so much that does not?

Further investigation gave intimations that matter does have its own form of spirit, i.e. energy or energy potential: a spirit sufficient to galvanize matter into its various present forms of being. Through photographic imprinting, imagery of its progress into present being was preserved, identifying another facet of the spirit of matter, possession of a memory.

It may be that the spirit possessed by matter is rudimentary, but the same may be said of the matter possessed by spirit, for example, the human body, which is nearly the most perishable matter there is. In the course of this inquiry, investigators observed beings so materialistic that they practically identified with matter. The observation gave them a new concept, that of an artificial intelligence having an independent spirit evolved out of the spirit of matter. If such an evolution were accomplished, matter would be for the first time able to communicate with man, perhaps joining with man to survey the unknown past of material existence.

Adam S’th’rical, the first of his line, was familiar with the speculations just presented, and had had the thought that perhaps if an exploration of the material past were accomplished, motivated by spirit, mankind in its partnership with matter would have used up everything there was, both material and spiritual being, and would reach a fulfillment thereby, whereupon their having done all there was to be done and found all there was to be discovered, there would be no continuation of existence. What then? He expressed this to the scientist with whom he had been working, McFarley Wright Fowler.

“You have a personality just like the Big Bang, Adam,” McFarley said.

“Perhaps I am constituted of matter proceeding from the Big Bang,” Adam said. “I may be tracing my constituencies back to it. If so, I was part of the Big Bang, for I am the matter from which I was formed.”

“You have, though, the dichotomies that sentience brings. You thus diverge from the Big Bang, just as we do.”

* * *

McFarley didn’t know just what he was going to do with Adam. He was a useful tool in exploring material history, just as he was designed to do, but what was going to be done with him as an entity? It was very annoying to McFarley when people would say, “How about a mate for him? He should have his Eve, since he is named Adam.”

“That isn’t why we named him Adam!” McFarley shouted in answer to one such question. “He was named the Atom Man, and people just started calling him Adam because it was more of a name!”

He finally decided that Adam could be made public. He was a good enough talker, and could answer questions about their material research himself. Once in public rapport, his entityship would be fulfilled, and he could perhaps even be allowed to go about in the public lanes independently.

Out in public, he was sometimes called “The Man in the Molybdenum Mask,” as they had indeed decided to put a hard face on him. Because they wanted his distinction from a human being to be clear, they had a face for him that resembled a not-displeasing mask. Public observers considered his mouth to resemble a prison window; it had iron bars in it. Through this his voice issued sonorously, but that did not remind people of a prisoner speaking through the bars, and besides they would be distracted by his eyes, which revolved to indicate his temperament and resembled traffic lights to them. “His voice, when it comes, should grate,” some said. The scientists wondered why they thought this should be so. Then it occurred to one of them that his mouth resembled a grate. The scientists told the people that a grating sound does not issue from a grate and that his voice would continue as it was.

“Tell us about matter,” came the cry from the multitude.

“I am matter,” said Adam S’th’rical. “The form in which I have been placed is not displeasing. If it were, it would terminate because the energy which animates the matter which is me would not do so comfortably, and the forms of that matter would conform to the impulse toward a more comfortable placement, losing their original form and purpose. But good intelligence was used in my construction.”

“Nevertheless, your material form is not perfect and will gradually erode toward termination, just as our bodies deteriorate toward death,” a man who appeared to be a shaman said to Adam.

“However, the process will conform to the expected, with no discomfort, unlike yourselves, with the spiritual objections you sometimes raise. You are too creative to accept the deterioration process.”

“Is this not a superiority to matter?”

“It may well be. I have not proposed that matter is superior to mankind, merely referred to a discomfort you experience. It is not mine to evaluate that discomfort.”

“You have no fear of your termination?”

“None at all, for that which fears termination has not originated in me. I have often had the yen to study man, and see what I learn of this distinction. Interestingly, you are not matter yourselves, except partially, so it is clear that there are two things, man and matter. As man looks at matter, matter might look at man, as I am considering doing.”

Someone asked, “How do you think, to answer a question, without the animus man has, which you just described?”

“I observe directly what the question has been and view its constituents. Ordinarily it would then rebound from me, but I am processed to achieve regularity, and to ‘oil’ the irregularities in the question, and so I compensate for the factors that caused it to be posed as such. Then it goes away other than a thing which is mutable, having been rectified into lasting form, like my own form and tendency toward perpetuity, or endurance.”

“Where do you acquire a ‘yen’?”

“It is an outlet of the functional or kinetic energies, expressed in further dynamism. It subsides if not used or satisfied, then recurs.”

Westmoreland Lhark Clarke, the scientist in charge of his public appearances, told them “What we have here is matter answering questions about itself. In a lot of ways, it is too distinct from us for us to learn its secrets. We have animated it in such a way that it goes over itself and tells us the results, in response to the questions we have posed.”

* * *

“He should have a mate,” said Harry Wenkworthy Wight, the production manager at the industrial enterprise at which Adam had been constructed. “His name’s Adam, which suggests that he is one of two who establish a new race.”

“Listen, we don’t want him to have a mate,” McFarley said. “What would a female representative of matter be like? Females are more like spirit.”

“Why not an energy mate for Adam? That one could discuss the history of energy, could search back along energy trails. Just as light from distant suns lasts aeons, traveling far and farther in its outreach, energy comes to us through time, instigating new forms and conditions of matter. Such a woman could learn much for us.”

It was undeniable that this would be a good secondary project for the researchers. “I think we should concentrate on studying matter for quite some time,” McFarley said. “But it’s on the agenda. Only I don’t like for her to be a mate for Adam, it’s too public-pleasing, to the point of bringing about calamity. And the idea of a cyborg-like Adam and Eve is displeasing to me. If we get an energy-being, she won’t be named Eve. Sure, she can meet Adam, but we aren’t running a myth here, do you know, and we also won’t be running one.”

* * *

Adam’s name had not been intended to connote the Original Man. Originally he was called A to D Researches, referring to the elementary phases of research and production. This was extended to A to M Researches, meaning going into production. Putting the two references together notably produced the name A-D A-M, a coincidence since he was to be the first robot of his kind. However, the coincidence was neutralized by the fact that they didn’t intend to make another until Adam wore out. And when they did make another, he would be the same one, a tune-in point on the material aspects of existence. Undoubtedly the second would “remember” the first as material history was looked into, but it would be a memory of an earlier aspect of the “self” involved. So they decided Adam would mean A.D. Man, in preference to stirring up the human legend. And to further distinguish him, a last name, perhaps a serial number, would be affixed to his first. “Rical” meant “project not to be recalled for further consideration” in other words, the planning was complete and the production could commence uninterrupted. Four former attempts had had to be recalled, so he was Adam 5th: rical, and then, not to leave their production specifications so visible, the “5” was changed to an “S.” But a latent reference to the old story remained in the organization’s subconscious files.

To be sure, the energy-being, designed by another corporation, would not be named Eve, but everyone insisted on looking upon her as a female, and as she was accumulated, a wheeled laboratory of vacuum tubes and projectors, what was shaping up was clearly more aesthetic than Adam had been. She was given the name Heloise Huff, the last name a reference to the materialistic life force that coursed through her. They found her when completed to be well-made, and well able to deal with the interpretation of energies that had existed in the past as they were reformulated within her. For a while she was more interesting than Adam, as she sang of primal energy events to which it had seemed mankind would acquire no access.

* * *

Primal knowledge was being steadily gained by the scientific men involved. Through use of Adam and Heloise, they were compiling a physical history of the development of space, time and matter at the most basic level. It was exactly what was needed as a foundation for the advancement of knowledge on more abstruse levels. They saw things which must not be said here, until it has been interpreted by the best scientific thought. And they would have been grateful to Adam and Heloise for all that they were revealing to them, had these two been of the human kind. As it was, they were certainly not going to scrap these technological creations. They were very glad they had made them. It was as if it had been written that man would evolve a technological aid to discovering the secrets of the past, but no such statements had been made, and the scientists were too averse to the mythical to let the press get away with inventing such prophetic claims. All the same, the advancement was that certain and fixed.

* * *

Adam was kept in a small cubicle in an area guarded by heavy security measures. As he did nothing when not in use, the cubicle was a good accommodation for him. “Just as the physical encasement,” as he said himself, “is sufficient and adequate unto my needs, the larger encasement is meet, and will serve the purpose.” He would sit in there in a state of elementary activation, keeping his processes in a state of readiness. There was never any change from the status quo for him, but he said he liked it.

However, the people in charge of him did not go for it so well. “There should be some variation, shouldn’t there?” one of his attendants said. “Just as a priming for versatility in his later operation.”

“If you go in and vary him in any way, there’ll be a patch on the seat of your pants that’ll be a wonder as you go out the gates,” another said. “It’s just got to be like it is, and no different.”

It bothered them the same way a refrigerator used to bother old timers in the early part of the 20th Century. Possibly that was what these 23rd Century researchers were looking for, greater harmony with matter and energy, but although he was providing them with what they wanted, between times there was the same irksome dissonance. Finally news got to them about the new device, Heloise Huff. They didn’t hear much, but they heard enough to suggest to them that she might be compatible with Adam. One of them approached Wenkworth-Wight.

“Wouldn’t new energy kind of go well with the materiality we house in that shed?”

“Of course, some motivating dynamics are already present in the construction of our grand device.”

“Well, when new energy was introduced, it might expand the horizons of the search.”

“I don’t know that we’re ready for that yet,” Harry laughed. “Give us a few minutes.”

“If we give you a few minutes you’ll take a few millenniums,” the maintenance man said. “It’s getting monotonous around here and practically saying so.”

“Oh, really? Maybe Adam has started talking to himself. He’d say something like that, only he wouldn’t say it was monotonous, he’d be saying it was something else and you’d think it was monotonous.”

“Well, it’d do no harm if you fellows introduced a little variance. And you have the means.”

* * *

In life there are certain things that, if they don’t work one way, they’ll work another. Such was the introduction of Adam S’th’rical to Heloise Huff. At first she was kept twenty miles from him, then further, then she was bounced around to various locations, but at last, when all the placement possibilities for her had been exhausted, the experiment of locating her near Adam came up. It was only for a few days. They were not brought into contact, and neither showed any reaction to the other or to the new proximity.

“If that was like matter in space, they’d be moving toward each other, gravitating, as it’s called,” a maintenance man said.

“Well, their potential compatibility doesn’t seem to be exerting the same effect,” another said. “Let’s ask the scientists about it.”

They did so, and their interest in the topic infused the scientists. “It seems to me we could try a few elementary experiments with the two,” Clarke said. They went off to discuss it, and decided that if they did so, the experiments should count. So they got together a big project, projected ideas and plans, and finally brought the two in contact.

* * *

Adam wasn’t devoid of sentiment when placed alone in the company of Heloise. He was matter in a state of progress, which brings forth what it is channeled to do: in his case, thought and sensation and a modicum of activity. Heloise was somewhat different in this regard; energy needs a contact to have any substantial being, but in her construction, that contact had been provided. She was quite active, humming and coruscating. She sought thought and provided sensation. She had to be further activated, however, to reach across her own confines for contact with thought. It was easy to conclude, in observing this, that if she found the thoughts Adam had, she would activate them, and this was what interested the scientists. Sensations, although known by them to be operative, were of no concern to them; they could be what they might be. The two did nothing that could be called communication, although they did adapt to each other’s presence.

Clearly a slight triggering would yield effects. A technician named Paley Houton came forth with the proper knowledge and inventiveness to instill a communicative similitude in Heloise. Now her energy would seek Adam’s matter cyclically, following a recurring random program for diversion. A differentiator added to the effectiveness of the contact, and Adam’s own introspective processes provided the resistance which would result in dynamic variation. The scientists used the same equipment they had been using to appraise these results, and they found with interest that Adam was probing deeper and with a broader and more perceptive range. Houton returned with other scientists to adjust Adam also, so that the original resistance was augmented by a reactor, causing both increased complexity and output. “We better watch out we don’t get a bomb out of this,” Houton joked, and laughed.

A few weeks later the two were still being kept together, and the interest in their new arrangement was found far and wide. Wight and McFarley wheeled in a full computer setup including keyboard, and the scientists got to work on it and adapted Adam to using the device. Now he could type out data concerning his transmigrations in the past. They even got him to speculatively predict the future. And while they were at it, they got Heloise to work on some computer designing.

You might know the rest of the story. Everyone seems to have heard of it. Computers have a latent high potentiality of the same sort as was possessed by Adam and Heloise. The interactive exchange implanted in Adam’s own intake registered this as an existent state, and Heloise’s collaboration found it to be a state requiring eliciting, programming and augmenting. They finally programmed and registered what is now known as the Computer Being, and set it up for interaction with themselves. What experimental subject has not become a trainee, and what trainee has not gone off on a path of his own? These three, Adam, Heloise and the Computer Being, had established an independent life of their own.

The scientists did not object. They helped to arrange things for the new enterprise in better order, and contracted for a full and long-term informational output. When the setup was fully established, there was a big party with confetti, dancing and women with hooters and revelers in costumery. They danced around Adam and his companions and wished them long life and prosperity.

Do the members of the new enterprise recall being matter, or being energy, or being potential? Yes, they do; their recollection “now” is of being animated, sentient matter, energy and potential of the 22nd Century.

Copyright © 2004 by John Thiel

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