“When I first arrived on this world, I was much the same as you. I too noticed a peculiar difference in Cenobar Trinordis. The world is impoverished, technologically backward, and diseased, just as the Homeworld was eight thousand years ago. The people suffer, and have every reason to be miserable, yet they are not. There are no states, no currency, and no war. The common political elements of every developing planet ever known are missing here. Why? For decades, anthropologists of the Core Worlds postulated theories about advanced mysticism, and believed them; but mark my words, there is no mysticism practiced here that was not practiced much more perfectly and earnestly on the Homeworld in its adolescence.
“Mysticism, or any religious practice, is most commonly a form of escapism, or at best, a coping mechanism. Life is hard, and the human mind is too developed for its own good. We suffer, and the suffering becomes enormous in our mind as a horrendous possibility, eternally repeating into the future. We observe death, and death becomes the inevitable curse in our own future, the great flaw of our existence. We encounter concepts that baffle us, and the fear of what we do not understand consumes us. It has long been known by philosophers, that Fear is the father of religion.
“There is no less to fear on Trinordis; yet there is no religion. Thus it stands to reason that something must be taking the place of religion. This something must logically also be connected to the absence of government, laws, war, money, etc.
“I wondered about this for a while, just as you are wondering now. The answer, I found, is related to the work of a certain Gillam Chawmi.”
I started at the name. “Not Chawmi, the insane messianic? the madman who tried to…create God?“
“The same, though I think you’ve received a somewhat biased perspective of him from your teachers. It is true, he attempted to create a god, or at least, a supermind. He lacked the resources to execute a formidable attempt, but others in the generations following his gruesome suicide were able to experiment with his ideas more expansively—with devastating results.”
At this point, I begin to fear that I know precisely what Binere is driving at. But it could not be true…surely not…
Artor Binere continues, in a low, distant voice: “He was, primarily, a writer. He wrote dozens of novels, usually filled with sexual perversions and macabre concoctions. They were abysmally unpopular apart from his small cult following, who were truthfully more of a cult than a following. Most of his ‘fans’—‘disciples’ is probably a better word—believed in many of his fictions, including the story of the vile ancient deity, Khorku, who (according to one story) stole elements of the human psyche millions of years ago, leaving our species bereft and confused.
“When Chawmi died of a massive brain hemorrhage after smashing his own head repeatedly against one of the support beams of his lice-infested attic room in a fit of madness, it was, ironically, not the literary critics, but rather the coroner, who announced with some grim confidence and authority that he would most assuredly not be completing his final work, tentatively entitled Through Blood of Reinfestation…”
I am only half-listening. I do not want to hear any more, yet somehow I am drawn in, and my mind is weaving its own web of magic in rapidly expanding spirals from every word that springs from Binere’s mouth. Chawmi…I remember reading of his life and his madness, more than a decade ago. His literature had an uncanny knack of linking the bizarre and the unbelievable with the mundane and factual, and I recall several prophetic coincidences that confirmed the mystique forever in his disciples’ minds.
“…his theory was simple, but poignant,” Artor is saying. “He suggested the creation of a great mind that could both rule and serve simultaneously, a mind that understood the needs and passions of the human race, but without sharing in the base excess of those same needs and passions. Even a novice of philosophy or religious study could easily see the connection between his idea and the idea of God, or demi-gods, or overmen. Religious groups on many worlds banned his writings for what they termed ‘an attempt to replace the one true God with a vile machination,’ though the various factions who proclaimed this were at variance as to which god they all deemed one and true.
“In any case, he eventually garnered many followers (though this never seemed to improve his financial situation). One world became devoted almost entirely to his cause, and the factions and states thereupon invested their time and energies into the creation of his Overseer…the results were disastrous, ranging from occult fanaticism to genocide, mass suicide, and general widespread insanity of the highest degree. One faction attempted to splice their genetic lineage with that of a common indigenous aquatic mammal…”
A Trinordian would surely listen, patiently, absorbing every detail of this rambling monologue with equanimity—but I am not a Trinordian. “What’s the point behind all this?” I ask, as politely as I can manage.
Binere smiles, one of those peaceful smiles you see on the faces of idols and iconic portraits of messianic figures. “There is a god,” he says, “and it lives on Cenobar Trinordis.”