A Fly's Eye View
This is one page of the Metaphoriuminomicon
You are a fly on a wall. The wall is a living wooden wall. You are inside a giant gall; an open room grown out of the trunk of a huge tree. A transparent bubble window has been secreted over an opening in the wall and outside of the wall you can see a dark sky and stars and you think you are looking up from the surface of a planet, but then you notice that the stars are rotating past too fast for the rotation of a planet. As you notice this the stars disappear, glared out of view by the emergence of the crescent of a brightly lit blue green world.
Below you on the floor a group of children have gathered around a holoprojector. Out of the projector an image of Gaia appears. She says to the children, "Your sabbath lesson today is about a time, long ago when the SolSeed Movement was a small movement, before we spanned 7 star systems, before we had 98 billion dedicants, when we were small ... "
You are distracted from her speech as you see a wolf spider jumping towards you. You try to leap away from the wall and the spider and start your rapid wing beats. But you are too late. The spider's venomous mandibles pierce your exoskeleton and you feel your consciousness fading. But death is no longer a finality. Nanites whose religious programming make them value your consciousness above all else, the very nanites who have been maintaining your consciousness and uplifting it to the point where you could understand the speech of the hologram, these nanites, collect your consciousness more rapidly than spider venom can erase it and beam it to a nearby computer for simulation.
You find that you have entered the simulated world of the Gaia's lesson to the children. At first you can hear her voice booming over the forming simulation, "... when we were just 176 thousand people scattered and hiding in the Oort cloud ... " but the simulation forms and the nanites have loaded you into it. You are a fly again. You are flying under a bright yellow sky across a huge field of flowers and shrubs. The roof of the dome is a massive lens focusing the light of the sun on a relatively small area. In every direction, dark shadowy glaciers loom. Children with flying squirrel-like wings stretched between their arms and sides are gliding through the sky. Your nanites tell you that the size of their wings and the way they drift lazily on the wind, indicates microgravity. They grab hold of a shrub and pull themselves to the ground around a woman who is sitting and waiting patiently for them.
The woman speaks, "My name is Elm. I am your Sabbath teacher today. Today we are going to learn about the History of the SolSeed Movement, back to a time when we lived on Ceres, before we were persecuted and driven out. Back before anyone had really taken notice of us. When we had far fewer dedicants, when we couldn't dream of travelling to the stars as we do today. Back when we were small ... " The woman is showing the children a simulation on a flexible display membrane that she has unrolled and clipped into a stand for them. But you don't bother looking at it because you notice that the lovely smelling flower that you have landed on, the one you thought was full of sweet nectar, has turned out to be carnivorous. The nectar is sticky and the flower is closing around you. You struggle to free yourself but the nanites know that it is hopeless. They collect your consciousness and beam it into the finger nail sized computer that is glued to the corner of the flex screen.
Once again you have entered the simulation that the woman was showing to the children, a simulation within a simulation, you can once again her a woman's voice introducing the simulation, " ... we were just fourteen hundred people living in a crater near the South Pole of the asteroid ... we had dedicants on all of the worlds inhabited by humanity but we were such a tiny part of everything that no one really noticed us. We mined the asteroid and grew small ecosystems in greenhouse domes ... " but again the voice fades and the nanites fully load you into the simulation. You are again a fly busily flying across a dome. The Sun is smaller than it would be on Earth but the dome is warm using layer after layer of glass to keep the heat and atmosphere inside. Children are picking fruit from an orchard. They climb high up in the branches of giant fruit trees. You see one fall from the tree her basket spinning and ejecting a stream of lush red fruits as it falls. The child falls with it and it takes a long time for her to reach the ground. She is giggling as she falls. It must be a hundred meters to the ground and she is falling with a crazy slowness. After what might have been a couple of minutes she lands on the soft thick carpet of old fallen leaves and great cloud of fruit from her basket rains down around her. She giggles and collects them into the basket again.
A man walks into the orchard and calls to the children to gather around him. The children jump down from the trees and after a few minutes settle down around him as he begins to speak. "Today your Sabbath lesson is about a long time ago, when the SolSeed movement was just starting. We were just 123 people living on Earth. We were scattered about in communities all over the world. We spent most of our time arguing on something called Google Hangouts ... " Once again your attention is pulled from the talk by a fatal fact. You have landed in the fruit basket and were happily feeding on the juice leaking from a bruise on one of the fruit as you listened. But apparently the giggling girl didn't want to share her fruit with you. Too late you have noticed that she is swatting you. As her hand crushes you, once again your nanites save you by transmitting you to the nearest computer, the touch-surface that the man has held up to show the children. Once again you are loaded into a simulation running on that computer. How many levels of simulation have you descended now? It is so hard to keep track!
As the simulation loads or you are loaded into it, you hear the man's voice, "Google Hangouts was a simulated reality where people could meet while sitting in front of their computers wearing virtual reality glasses and lasers scanned their hand movements. Their hand movements represented their entire body movements and they could become so used to controlling their motion with slight movements of their fingers and hands that they would have trouble walking in real life after long sessions in the simulation ... " You realize you have descended two levels of simualtion at once. You are not in a simulation of that Earth but actually inside the Google Hangouts simulation as a simulated fly. You buzz around an empty room and then suddenly several different avatars appear and more pop in every few seconds until there are a dozen avatars in the room.
The largest avatar looks like Gaia but strangely a man's voice comes from her mouth, "Children gather around and sit," you buzz by her head, and she looks at you and says, "Who brought the fly? or is the fly one of you kids? This is so weird? Do I have to wear this avatar?" he seems to be speaking to someone who is not in the simulation but is one level up in the simulation of the Earth, "I know its the teacher's avatar but it is just too weird? Well maybe the next time I fill in for her we can have a different avatar ready for me." He turns his attention to the children's avatars, mostly a collection of trucks and contruction equipment and ponies, "Ok children, today we are going to learn about the past, decades ago, when SolSeed was small. In fact, we are going to learn about Brandon Sanders and how he thought up SolSeed ... The Google Hangouts room disappears and is replace by an apartment balcony in a small city. All the strange avatars follow the Gaia avatar to look through the window into the appartment. A young man is sitting on a couch in the appartment living room. He sighs. A young woman looks in from the neighbouring room where she is working on a computer reading medical papers. She looks worried but returns to her work. A couple of minutes pass and the man sighs again.
The Gaia avatar speaks, "Mr. Sanders, our founder spent a lot of time thinking about the point to Life. As an atheist without a spiritual framework he was unable for a long time to see a point to Life. Legend has it that a one moment, while sitting on his couch sighing and pondering the pointlessness of existence, he suddenly had a Eureka moment and realized our founding principle and what it meant. The man stands up, a look of awe and happiness on his face. He turns to the woman and says, "Shelley, Life. Is. Precious."
The Gaia avatar speaks again, "How it really happened is lost in time. But however it happened, that realization was the birth of SolSeed."