Sunday, March 7, 2010

Solar Lottery

Solar Lottery

“All roads and
all spacelanes
led to Batavia.”
—Philip K. Dick,
Solar Lottery

1 Like Ubik, Solar Lottery—presents a world of systematic and ironic reversals.

2 Like van Vogt’s The World of Null-A—Solar Lottery opens up with a test.

3 In both books a down-and-out-hero is on his way to what seems to be—a cross between a final exam and a job interview.

4 Essentially van Vogt writes “space operas”—dealing in a fairy-tale form of wish fulfillment.

5 The skeleton plot is—the Brave Little Tailor and a hundred fairy tales besides.

6 Solar Lottery is about a crime—that must be carried out despite a corps of telepathic guards.

7 How can you plan with teeps, para-kineticists, precogs, resurrectors and animators around?

8 They find out your every strategy. They discover you as soon as you begin playing.

9 Well, how about a prefrontal lobotomy?

10 Well, that’s rather stultifying, dontcha think?

11 Or you could act randomly so your opponent can find out nothing about you—because even you don’t know what you’re going to do.

12 How about anti-precog functions?

13 You know, like some life form preying on the Psis—like the Psis prey on the Norms?

14 Predator and prey—an eternal anti-talent system?

15 Any other kinds of anti-precog functions?

16 You know—does a precog see a variety of futures?

17 Laid out side by side—like cells in a beehive?

18 For him—one has greater luminosity. He picks it.

19 Once he picks it—the anti-precog can do nothing.

20 The anti-precog has to be present…

21 When the precog is in the process of deciding.

22 Not after.

23 The anti-precog makes all futures seem equally real to the precog.

24 He aborts his talent—to choose at all.

25 A precog—is instantly aware.

26 When an anti-precog is nearby.

27 Because his entire relation to the future—is altered.

28 In the case of telepaths—a similar impairment.

29 The anti-precog—goes back in time.

30 The precog affected—still sees one predominant future.

31 One luminous possibility.

32 And he chooses it—and he’s right.

33 But why is he right? Why is it luminous?

34 Because that one luminous possibility—is luminous because the anti-precog has gone into the past and changed it.

35 By changing it—the anti-precog changes the present.

36 Which includes the precog.

37 The precog’s affected without knowing it

38 And his talent seems to be working.

39 Whereas it really isn’t. Or doesn’t.

40 So that’s the advantage—of the anti-talent teep.

41 Over other anti-precog talents.

42 The other—and greater anti-precog—can cancel out the precog’s decision after he’s made it.

43 The anti-precog can enter the situation later on.

44 This problem has always hung us up—as you know.

45 If we didn’t get in there—from the start…

46 We couldn’t do anything.

47 In a way—we never could truly abort the precog ability.

48 As we’ve done with others, right?

49 Hasn’t that always been the weak link?

50 Not going back in time.

51 Doing something else instead.

52 Knowing how to change the past—but not going into the past.

53 Not time-traveling—the way you think it’s done.

54 How does an anti-precog change the past?

55 One thinks about it—one specific aspect of it.

56 Such as one incident—something somebody said.

57 Or a little thing that happened.

58 That one might wish hadn’t happened.

59 Like in your childhood—breaking something.

60 Maybe a ceramic antique statue.

61 That your father valued and treasured.

62 Your father foresees it happening.

63 With his precog ability.

64 He foresees it—and punishes you.

65 A week before you break the statue.

66 He says it was inevitable.

67 (You know the precog talent.)

68 (They can foresee—but they can’t change anything.)

69 Then after the statue is broken—

70 After you break it—

71 You brood about it—

72 You think for a whole week ahead of time—

73 When you don’t get any desert—

74 And you have to go to be at five P.M.—

75 You think Christ—or whatever kids think—

76 Isn’t there some way—this event could be averted?

77 Your father’s precog ability—

78 It doesn’t seem very spectacular to you—

79 Since he can’t alter events—

80 You feel perhaps a sort of contempt for him—

81 You spend a month—trying to will it

82 That damn statue—back into one piece

83 In your mind—you keep going back

84 Back to before—it broke

85 Imagining what it—had looked like

86 Which was awful—it was a tacky statue

87 And then one morning—you get up

88 You even dreamed about it—the night before

89 And there it is—just like it used to be

90 But neither of your parents—notice anything

91 It seems perfectly normal to them—

92 The statue—is in one piece

93 They think—it’s always been in one piece

94 You’re the only one—who remembers

95 Talent and anti-talent fields—deform each other

96 That’s what Ubik—is all about

97 It’s cutthroat business—just ask PKD

98 “Don’t you remember—me taking off my clothes?”

99 “Taking off your clothes—what do you mean?”

100 “You don’t remember, right?”

101 “What did I do? Refuse to test you?”

102 “You mumbled something about—me having overrated my anti-talent.”

103 “I don’t remember.”

104 “That’s because—it was another present.”

105 (Pat smiles at Joe—her Ubik anti-talent dawning on him)

106 “I eradicated it”—she says.

107 Forget the test.

108 The talent is unique—you can’t measure the field it produces.”

109 It’s in the past—and you’re testing the present. Which simply takes place—as an automatic consequence. Comprehende, kimosabe?

110 Anti-psi field—unique in scope?

111 Can probably negate—any assembly of precogs?

112 What are implications—of anti-psi fields
for winning ΞVΞ games?

113 Anticipating other corporate alliance’s moves?

114 Simulating the present—before it happens?

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