Twitch wrote:The chasm we can see underwater is the result of thirty years of regular plate tectonics pulling the islands apart and forming a regular old faultline. (Very fast plate tectonics, yes, but remember that they are being forced to occur by the contradictions)
He had built ten such Ages in the past few weeks. Two for each experiment. In this and one other he was testing whether the changes he sought to make in the orbital system of Age Five would have the desired effects, while in others he was experimenting with the structure of the tectonic plates beneath the planet’s crust, the type and strength of the oceanic currents, fluctuations in gravitational fields, and the composition of the crust itself.
What he had done, here and elsewhere, was to recreate the same underlying structures that he had found in the Age Five book, only incorporating specific minor alterations—additions mainly—to the way the thing was phrased. If that new phrasing was correct, then this Age was now stable. And if this was stable, then so would Age Five be once he had written the changes into the book.”
Looking about him, he jotted down his observations, then, closing the journal, slipped it into his knapsack.
Thus far his tests had proved one thing conclusively. Age Five was doomed. It would degenerate and be destroyed within a generation, unless he made these vital, telling changes to the book.
Lifting his glasses, he blinked, then rubbed at his eyes. He was tired, more tired than he’d been in years, yet he could not let up now. It was only ten days until the ceremony, and everything—everything—had to be ready for that time.
Pulling his glasses back down, Atrus waited. The moon would be rising soon, and then he’d know.
If he was right, Gehn had placed Age Five’s single moon well inside the synchronous orbital distance from the planet. This had the effect of increasing the planet’s tides dramatically, and, ultimately, would result in the moon being dragged into ever-lower orbits until it would finally smash into the planet’s surface. That final catastrophe would take many lifetimes, but long before that happened, the great tides generated by the moon’s ever closer orbit would destroy the island, smashing it into the surrounding sea.
He needed to push Age Five’s moon back into a stable, synchronous orbit: one where its rotation rate would be equivalent to the planet’s. What complicated the task was that he would have to achieve this in a manner that could not be directly observed.
From: Richard A. Watson
To: The Riven Lyst
Subject: Re: Ages: created or bridged?
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 1997
I have a question about some of Atrus’s observations in BoA. Gehn tells him that the books actually create the ages, thus giving Gehn the excuse to act like a GOD once he gets there. And why not? If he actually did create the world, then this is a GOD-like act... (even if this would be considered breaking rule #1 of the D’ni Guild writers).
BUT, Atrus comes to the conclusion that the books don’t create the Ages; they act as a bridge to an infinite number of pre-existing worlds--and I believe that in BoT, this idea is the one they support as well....
The D’ni histories indicate that the D’ni did not believe that they were creating the Ages they linked to. They seemed to understand that the Ages already existed, and that they were merely creating the _links_to these Ages. This is Atrus’ view as well.
Gehn, on the other hand, wants to control the Ages he has made, and uses the power of the Books to intimidate the inhabitants of those worlds. He believes he has the power to create, and therefore the right to do what he wishes with the Ages (and the inhabitants).
So, my question is this: if Atrus is right, then how is it possible for Catherine and Anna to rewrite Riven while Gehn and Atrus are there and then all the changes they wrote alters the Age?
This is the most complicated and confusing aspect of The Art.
In order to gain a deeper knowledge of the workings of the Books, we’ll need a working knowledge of quantum mechanics.
!! WARNING !! - GREAT, BIG, HEAVY, COMPLICATED EXPLANATION - !! WARNING !!
Many of the interpretations of quantum theory say that until a state of matter is observed, it exists in many states simultaneously - it creates a bizarre “probability wave” that contains all of the possible states of that matter. Therefore, as was proposed in Schrodinger’s famous cat analogy, bizarre things happen on the quantum level that allow things like Schrodinger’s cat to be both alive and dead at the same time, until one of the states is observed, locking it in a single state, and collapsing the “probability wave.”
What the D’ni seem to have concluded (proved?), is that those waves don’t actually cease to exist altogether, instead each possibility continues to exist in an alternate quantum reality (read “parallel universe”), until a state is observed in that quantum reality, and the possibilities not observed in that quantum reality continue to exist in still another, and so on ad infinitum. This makes the universe infinitely complex, with every possible quantum combination since the creation of the universe existing in a quantum reality somewhere (even the “unstable Ages”). The Books somehow allow observation of (thus the locking of) and travel to those quantum realities.
So, you can make “unobserved” changes (probabilities that haven’t been locked down by description in the Book, or by physical observation in the Age itself) without forcing the Book to link to a new quantum reality.
This is why being careful of contradictions is so important. The problem with contradictions is that the Book attempts to link to a quantum reality that matches a contradictory description, and the closest thing it can find is usually fairly unstable.
I could write for days and still not do this subject justice, but that’s the best I can do right now. Hope it helps explain it a bit.
Oh, and I see that hand in the back.
“What about the changes to Riven? You still haven’t answered that.”
The changes made to Riven near the end of the Book of Atrus (pg 268 in the hardcover edition), were a collaboration between Anna and Catherine. Anna’s main contribution was probably keeping the Book free of contradictions. Catherine’s intuitive (but D’ni rule-breaking) style was so bizarre that earlier Atrus had claimed that her Books wouldn’t even work - yet they did.
The daggers which mysteriously appeared around the island, and the lava filled fissures were made possible by her odd style - which I cannot explain. And although Catherine and Anna intended for the lava filled fissures as part of their plan to rescue Atrus while still leaving Gehn trapped in his Fifth Age, the Star Filled Fissure was not intentional or anticipated.
To me, it remains the most mysterious object in all the D’ni histories.
CYAN - Richard A. Watson
[If you’re interested in further study of quantum physics, my two favorite books on the subject are: “In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat” by John Bribbin, and “Quantum Physics” by Nick Herbert.]
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