Friday, August 19, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Dear Earth

Dear Earth,

Today we have the miracle of telling you that you are not alone. We cannot say if there is life in the rest of this universe, but there is life in others. You have at least 16,777,216 sister earths out there. We are one of them.


The main difference between us is that you are one of 128 earths that does not have an Isayas or a comparable analog. That’s 128 out of 16,777,216 currently accessible parallel earths that have life on them at all.

Our comedians joke that you are an “evil” parallel earth full of mustached versions of us. Most of us don’t see you as an anomaly. You’re not so different from us. After all, in both our earths the mustache represents a mock-evil parallel universe self. And we are all made of stardust; we all evolved from single-celled organisms. We all have two eyes, ears and nostrils; we all have hair on our heads, and many have unwanted hair in other places. 16,777,214 of the earths share the same fascination with dinosaurs, aside from the two where humans co-existed with them and have some understandable prejudices. Like you, we had our caveman, hunter/gatherer and feudal periods. We have two hemispheres, a Europe, an Asia and an Australia. Jesus Christ is important in our Bibles as well. We even called our great leap forward ‘The Enlightenment,’ as your Europeans call theirs.

When you understand our similarities, perhaps you’ll understand how perplexing the absence of Isayas is from your earth. Isayas the Good Heretic was (in our world and most of the 16,777,216) an Islamic king who converted to Christianity. The conversion was loose, retaining his Persian identity and throne, and using his stations to merge the two mega-religions. Being a king during the height of Persia’s scientific exploration, he managed to advance industry in Asia Minor and West Europe. By improving life expectancy and quality of life, and eliminating most governmental and religious disputes by instituting his own intellectual product. Isayas used market forces to create a trans-continental empire across what you see as Europe, the Middle East and Africa. His theocrats used their Islamo-Christian amalgam to mediate with lesser superstitions like the Irish pagans. Within 500 years on nearly every earth, the Isayas kingdom openly traded and had influence in Southern Africa and Asia Proper.

As fond as we are of our culture, few here believe there is an ideal earth. None of our scientists have yet located one. Our own will never outlive its mistreatment of the Outlets – the Americas in your world. They were mistreated or annihilated on nearly every world where they were not the conquerors themselves. But for most earths this is the World War, where you have had least two. Your earth has substantially more governments and inter-governmental conflicts. With that openness of governments, Communism, Autocracy and general xenophobia is greatly exaggerated against the worlds where there is an Isayas- or Isayas-analog revolution.

Perhaps related, your earth also has atypically wide divides between religion, art and science. Like most earths, though, all three of those forces are tied closely to the fourth force of economics. It seems almost universal that where there is intelligent life that you can spread knowledge, belief and opinion through sales.

Our comedians joke that we should exploit that economic opening and treat you like Isayas treated the Pagans. Humor is very important to us – we call it the Seventh Estate. We’ve taken their advice and left one hundred million one-pill cures for HIV in crates along your Sub-Saharan Africa. These we offer to you for free. If you’d like more, we’d be happy to exchange with you.

Another similarity between our earths is that deserts spread. But there is a difference: only your Sahara is experiencing rapid desertification. On 8,388,608 earths, including our own, are nearly out of arable land. Frustrating as it is, we’ve developed inter-dimensional communication before effective terraforming or transplanetary travel. Talking to you is actually cheaper than flying to Venus or Mars, let alone making them habitable. The market moves in mysterious ways.

All 16,777,216 earths we’ve found so far have a nearby Venus and Mars. You’re one of the few that seems serious about living on them.

We hoped another earth would have a terraforming-rich culture, yet of the 16,777,216 examples, none is adept. Curiously, some of your 128 earths have the most advanced space stations. We research space by cheap drones, but you just went there again. While your earth lags behind most of the 128 in deep space travel, it seems your scientists have some of the keenest ideas for terraforming. Many of the 128 treat other planets like campsites, bringing what they need, destroying a little, and leaving their trash behind as they hop to the next. This isn’t sustainable, and 120 of these 128 earths are near or at extinction as a result. Sustainability is the essence of a good market. Many more seem headed for extinction.

So will you work with your transdimensional sisters? There are economic openings to exploit.



  1. Quite an interesting one this week. I love the topic of alternate universes, and there are so many different ways to go with stories about them. Enjoyed your take!

  2. Hi John, we both had 'we are the stuff of stars' in our flashes this week. Must be something in the air! I too love the alternate universes thing and this was originally done. Love the practical points, 'it's cheaper to talk with you than travel'. Lots of brilliantly wry elements 'mustached versions' and my fav line 'It seems almost universal that where there is intelligent life that you can spread knowledge, belief and opinion through sales'. At first the politics bogged me down at bit but on another read through it clicked and it's so imaginatively done. A great piece all round.

  3. As fantastically inventive as ever, sir.

    *doffs cap*

  4. Time to grow a mustache and become one of the "bad" guys.
    And like Icy, I too, doff my hat.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  5. I'm a huge fan of alt-history fiction, and this is a fantastic foray into it. Well done, sir. Well done.

  6. Great alternate universe story, the premise is unique and believable ("hey, let's trade stuff!"). The "Isayas" thing threw me at first, but then you explained it… added a touch of realism to the narrative, I thought.

    I'll probably have to come back to this one to find stuff I missed the first time around.

  7. What an interesting world (worlds? universes?) you've created here!

  8. "As fond as we are of our culture, few here believe there is an ideal earth."

    Sad, but true.

  9. This is a fascinating world(s). It requires more explanation. That is to say, more stories! Lots and lots more stories.

  10. I loved all those powers of 2 - made me think that, practically, the choices we made for "our" Earth may literally have been a flip of a universal coin.

  11. You always find a way to make me smile, John:)

  12. I always like a good multi-verse tale.

  13. Very informative. I like the way your mind works. Also the bit about the dinosaurs was awesome. Great job.

  14. I hope all the earths don't send christmas cards, or would some send Isayas cards?
    Imaginative and wry as ever.

  15. Mustachioed me is obviously from one of the evil earths. I do hope these earths group together to solve all our big problems. :)

    Minor typo: "are nearly out [of]" arable land".

  16. Very inventive, I like the idea of the communicator talking about sustainability - will we join and play the game? That's another story.


  17. I know it has already been used, but the word "Inventive" can't be overused enough describing this tale. A brilliant concept John, it made me sigh for the want of a better world for us all. Wouldn't it be terrific if the African HIV epidemic could be solved just like that too?

  18. God, what a terrifying thought - not only our earth, but nearly all of them living by what sells rather than by what's important. "The market moves in mysterious ways" makes clear how close to a religion that is. Subtlely done, sir.


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