AntipodeanSF Issue 308

By Ed Errington

A green sky surrounds a green sun.

It overlooks a land as far as the eye can see, when there are eyes to see it.

With the wave of an unseen hand, the green flows into more Earthly colours.

From an undefined somewhere, fifty circular, ancient stadiums rise majestically without a sound.

One on top of the other — each stadium contributes a level to a single tower that finally reaches high into a deepening blue, cloudless sky.

Each stadium is crammed with thousands of chattering spectators — sitting, waiting — for something, someone.

At the spatial centre of this graduated tower appears an enormous projection of a human face. It extends from ground level — upwards towards the pinnacle of the highest stadium. 

This face appears front-on to every spectator. Its eyes look steadfastly into those of each spectator.

On some hidden signal, the multitudinous spectators rise and let out a voluminous cheer as the face comes into full focus.

When the cheering subsides everyone resumes their seat.

A moment of silence and the face speaks:

“Simoids, Simoids, Simulation believers — hear me. At the end of yet another year, we are reminded of the valiant achievements of Zadia — founder of our simulated — Simoid — world.

“Without her ceaseless curiosity and fine hacking skills, this very space would be wrongly classified as a simple organic entity. Organic indeed — all that technical potential overlooked! Nothing more than a dystopia where humans engage in chaos, mayhem and turmoil. Okay, so Earth has bad days too.

“So, let me take you back to a time when Earth’s direction changes for the better, thanks to the Great Hacking escapades of Zadia. 

“Picture this — she singlehandedly creates a pathway straight into the very heart of the Great Simulation. What people believe about Earth as being an organic entity — Zadia exposes as an optical illusion. 

“Zadia happens to read Skitter Fiction Sheet 869 on her local Bookbot. In it, the editors suggest that all Earth’s creatures, including humans, are mere occupants of a unilateral, real-time, pre-determined simulation. They are not agents of free-will. The editor goes on to claim the Earth, in its present configuration, is a multi-situational context generator designed to help Simulators study human behaviour.

“Zadia is unable to rid her mind of the whole simulation proposition — and, (presumably) the minimal role most humans are expected to adopt within it. Are human lives fact or fiction?

“Due to certain protocols, no one is really certain how Zadia manages to actually infiltrate the Great Simulation. She probably compares what she experiences with what she reads on the Skitter Fiction Sheet, and investigates from there. 

“In her desire to spread the truth about what she later calls the ‘Earth Delusion,’ Zadia founds the Church of the Very Big Simulation. And, due to further compelling revelations, she later renames it the ‘Church of the Even Bigger Than You Thought Simulation.’

“She broadcasts her views to anyone who will listen — offering a very different perspective to a Gaia-centric world. Being of a technical disposition, Zadia deduces Earth is probably a larger-than-life model of a 100x100 simulation vector — sustained by a multi-illusionary holographic engine.  

“Not too long after sharing her assessment publicly, Earth v1.4 goes awry. Someone who the media labels, Person ‘X,’ takes the blame. In a careless moment, he spills a drop of double expresso coffee (of the Brazilian persuasion) directly into the multi-illusionary holographic engine. The potentially dangerous caffeine additive is accompanied by a staggering six ginger nut biscuits. 

“This act immediately shuts down the primary holospeed engine of the whole Iberian Peninsula. What a shock for Spanish and Portuguese inhabitants! They wake to find themselves in the middle of a ginormous bare green grid beneath a green sky. Citizens are left utterly confused when all they can see are countless numbers of green grids instead of their own familiar world. The Spanish holo-press later labels this unfortunate incident as, ‘El Gran Verde’ — the Big Green.  

“Zadia volunteers to sort out the Iberian disaster. She finds a way to modify the simulation parameters, and engage the Emergency Simulation Default — reverting Iberia to its recognisable topography. At the same time, Zadia’s actions raise further global awareness regarding the actual existence of the Grand Simulation. This prompts many disbelievers to abandon or at least reconsider their resistance to Simoid ideas.  

“Inevitably, more cynical Simoid supporters reach the conclusion that Earth v1.4 is probably manipulated by a bunch of adolescent Simulators whose sole purpose is to have a good time at this world’s expense. I must point out most strongly — there is no evidence to support this reckless, irresponsible view.

“The existence of some Grand Simulator who manages this world simulation, takes some time to register on Outernet media. Zadia believes there has to be a creative Grand Simulator. And is this Grand Simulator the same entity as a God of this world- who many people believe in? 

“Zadia wants people from all walks of life to discuss, and not dismiss, the possibility of God, as the Grand Simulator. She encourages families and friends to meet at their local pub to discuss significant issues. Maybe over a pretty good glass of something to stimulate the flow of ideas?  

“She guesses that such discussions will lead inevitably to sighs of bewilderment, exhaustion and frustration at the sheer complexity of human life. She also anticipates that one question will likely lead to another. Not so much — ‘where are you going for your holidays?’ — but rather — ‘God, Grand Simulator, or both? Zadia brings people together to consider life’s big questions. 

“The most resistant to any discussions about the God-Simulator problem are small groups of religious extremists. Zadia decides to tackle them head-on. Using the Outernet, she plays Devil’s Advocate by asking questions, such as: ‘Is there a God?’

“Those who respond give her a resounding ‘Yes!’ 

“Zadia replies: ‘Okay, if we accept God exists — when will He, She, or It, sort out the mess made by human agents claiming free-will here on Earth? Isn’t this a good a time as any for this God to own some responsibility for Earth’s continuing chaos? Instead of blaming everyone else?’ 

“Years pass, as years do, and thanks to Zadia’s efforts, many progressives adopt a more reconciliatory stance on the God question. They reason: ‘We believe God is responsible for Earth coming into existence. So, perhaps earthly chaos happens when She, He or It is, you know, absent, or maybe taking a break? Even God or Grand Simulator needs a rest now and again. And as they both coincidentally take a break at the same time — then maybe God and Grand Simulator could be, you know, one and the same?’

“Despite the flawed argument, this duality is something Zadia has been promoting for a long time. It is an attempt by religious progressives to re-join the socio-political mainstream. They want to come in from the cold.

“More traditional religious advocates ask: ‘If Simoids are indeed right about the existence of some Grand Simulator instead of a personal, caring God — where does the meaning of life reside for us? For all humanity?’ These questions — though clearly articulated — are never addressed.

“Most of Earth’s population soon shares the view — that a God (of whatever denomination) could also be the Grand Simulator. Earth scientists prefer the term, ‘Grand Designer’ — avoiding any notion of being manipulated by some external entity  which would compromise their cherished status as independent thinkers.

“Which brings me back to our illustrious founder — Zadia. May the Grand Simulator constantly update her role function and unitary capacity. 

“Simoids — please lower your oxygenators in Zadia’s honour as I read her final words. Words she spoke — while gazing at — some say — the green horizon itself.

“She said, and I quote directly: ‘What the …?’  

“Take some time to reflect on her last words. Know that Zadia protects you all.”

………………………………………………….

The crowd stand — cheer — and wave farewell to the fading face without a name. 

………………………………………………….

“How was that Freyon? Okay?”

“Zadia…interesting character?”

“Yeah, took some time to create. One of our best.”

“Not a genuine historical figure then? Those words: ‘what-the……what?’”

“You’re new to our games Simulator Freyon. I’ll explain all later.”

“Why does everything have to be Great or Grand?”

“Just gives that epic touch. Enjoy it. Nothing’s real.”

“Yes, but, real enough for them.”

“Hey, we just create and play the program — they’re probably happy to live it.”

“And what about us? Are we real? Alive?”

“Who knows? Who cares Freyon? Not me.”

“Okay — down-time it is in one. Check.

“Players returning to their native nothingness. Storage pens closing. Check.

“Stadiums entering Sub-level 25. Check.

“Multi-colours dissolving. Greens coming up full. Check.

“Phew!  All done, so what now?”

“Tradition has it Freyon — you buy the first drinks.”

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

ed-errington

Dr Ed Errington lives a charmed life as a would-be retiree and wallaby wrangler. He lives with his wife and a dozen hedonistic rock wallabies in Tropical North Queensland.

Ed’s writing interests focus on Stanislavsky’s age-old question of ‘what if,’ and the many consequences that could flow from a response.

‘What if’ - the world we accept as ‘real’ is instead a monolithic simulation - sophisticated ubiquitous, and yet invisible? Are we humans mere players within its confines?

aus25grn

Issue Contributors

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