A Requiem for Homo Sapiens

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A Requiem for Homo Sapiens is a trilogy of science fiction novels written by David Zindell that is made up of The Broken God (1992), The Wild (1995), and War in Heaven (1998). This trilogy is a sequel to the standalone novel called Neverness (1988).[1]

The series has been described as containing "the most striking writing, vivid spectacles, memorable characters and insightful presentations of philosophy and religion seen in SF for many a year."[2] Some reviewers have commented on similarities between the series and Frank Herbert's Dune.[3]

Books[edit]

The Broken God[edit]

Set 10 years after the events in Neverness, and narrated by its protagonist, Mallory Ringess, this book tells the story of the early life of Danlo, Ringess's son. After the tribe he is living with is destroyed by a plague, he undertakes a perilous journey to Neverness City, where he is taken in and instructed by an alien Fravashi ("Old Father"), and joins the Academy in order to become a pilot like his father. A new religion forms around the various tales told about Mallory Ringess, and Danlo comes into conflict with his former friend, Hanuman li Tosh, who assumes control of the "Way of Ringess" for his own purposes.

The Wild[edit]

Danlo's story continues as he explores the galaxy on a dual quest: first, to locate the home of the Architects of the Universal Cybernetic Church and persuade them to stop the Program of Increase that has resulted in the continual explosions of stars in the Vild (or Wild); and second, to find the cure for the engineered plague that killed his tribe (the Devaki) and will kill the rest of the primitive Alaloi back on Neverness. Like his father, Danlo penetrates the Solid State Entity and interacts with her. Based on her information, he seeks out a remnant of the great cybernetic god Ede. With Ede's help, Danlo at last reaches the distant planet of Tannahill, home of the Architects. His coming sparks a bloody war between various factions. The defeated faction escapes with a star-killer weapon, headed for Neverness.[4]

War in Heaven[edit]

Danlo rejoins the pilots who were commissioned to find Tannahill and discovers that Hanuman li Tosh has taken dictatorial control over Neverness, and has begun construction of his "Universal Computer." Fearing that this will excite the anger of the galaxy's other cybernetic "gods," the rest of the pilots mobilize the Civilized Worlds in a great war. Danlo returns alone to Neverness and, after a series of adventures, succeeds in toppling Hanuman, restoring order, and pointing the way for the rest of humanity to counteract the gods' power by realizing its full potential.

Philosophy[edit]

Philosophical concepts abound in these works. On one level this is a story of the journey that the protagonist takes through the galaxy and his many adventures on the way. However, there is a much, much deeper level at play. The whole work essentially asks the question 'what is a Human being?' and Danlo's journey is an exploration of how that question might be answered. Part of this exploration revolves around the question of 'what is the difference between a Man and a god or even God?' As the story unfolds the story also explores concepts such as meaning and purpose in life and evaluates questions of morality and religion.

Characters[edit]

Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Seekers of the Ineffable Flame[edit]

The Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Seekers of the Ineffable Flame, or just The Order for short, is a society of people in Zindell's A Requiem for Homo Sapiens trilogy.

History[edit]

Arcite[edit]

Then known as the Order of Scientists, the Order was first founded on the ice world Arcite some time before the Vastening of Ede the God. This marks the year zero on the Order's Calendar. It was founded by Kelkemesh, then known as Rowan Madeus or the Timekeeper. A student of the Fravashi, Omar Narayama brought many new ideas that spelled the demise of the Order of Scientists and developed the Universal Syntax, that made holism begin to permeate and supersede science. The Order of Scientists became the new Order, and moved to Neverness on the planet Icefall 20 years later.

Icefall[edit]

Over time, the Order of Cetics on Simoom and other groups merged with the Order. Under the watchful eye of many Timekeepers (who, in fact, were actually the same person), the Order became an interworld educational institution, with schools spread throughout the human areas of the galaxy, with of course the prime academy at Neverness. The most glamorous and respected discipline of the order was the Pilots, and hence it was sometimes referred to as the Order of Pilots, but it also included many other disciplines ("More disciplines, it seems, each year"). 2934 years since the founding of Neverness, Mallory Ringess lead a schism against the conservative Timekeeper's rule. Leopold Soli was sent to combat this, thus beginning the Pilots War. After intervention by the Solid State Entity (a.k.a. Kalinda of Qallar), Mallory proves the second continuum hypothesis, thus earning Soli's respect and ending the war. They return to confront the Timekeeper and Mallory is made Lord Pilot. When the Timekeeper is confronted it turns out to be a double. The double explodes a hydrogen bomb in an attempt to destroy the city but it was too old. The genuine Timekeeper had already fled the city. Mallory Ringess is briefly made Lord of the Order before departing mysteriously. The Order then goes under a massive restructuring, and is ruled by consortium of the major Lords of the disciplines. After Danlo wi Soli Ringess comes to Neverness, the prevalence of Ringism under Hanuman Li Tosh grows greatly and Lord Pall, head cetic, uses his manipulative powers to make Ringism the official religion of the Order, thus installing him as the new Lord of the Order. Hanuman Li Tosh, however, controls Lord Pall. Many Lords and Masters who were not converts to the new religion were sent to found a new Order on Theills, a planet deep in the Vild. After the Danlo wi Soli Ringess poses as Mallory Ringess and uproots ringism by killing Hanuman, the Universal Computer is destroyed and Bardo, Mallory's old friend, is made Lord Pilot and Lord of the Order.

Disciplines[edit]

Major Disciplines[edit]

These are the main branches of study at the Order's academies. While novices not yet having specialized in a discipline wears grey-coloured formal clothing, the clothes of specialized students varies; each discipline having its own particular colour.

  • Pilots - Able to manipulate the "manifold" utilizing pure mathematical theorems coupled with technology, thus warping spacetime to travel vast distances in "lightships". The colour of the pilots' robes are black.
  • Cetics - Advanced computational programmers concerned with the nature, function and principles pertaining to consciousness. Their hard and rather controversial studies—resulting from long traditions of research—has given rise to a few odd and specific disciplines, like reading human emotion and thought from faces, and making tentative predictions of conscious/subconscious processes. Treated with wariness and superstition by many, a specific branch of Cetics known as cyber-shamans wear skullcaps, enabling them to continually interface with a computer. There are many different sects of Ceticism, as the Cetics were once their own Order. The colour of the cetic robes are orange.
  • Scryers - Dressed in white robes and usually with their eyes removed, the Scryers are able to perceive the future possibilities. They are often regarded with contempt, particularly by Leopold Soli, and they frequently use half-sentences and confusing language. Scryers' robes are pearl-white.
  • Remembrancers - These people are reverse-scryers. Many believe they are of the same basic discipline, but there are numerous differences. Some remembrancers are not only able to remember early memories of themselves, but are also able to remember the memories of their ancestors or even the legendary Ieldra, creators of the universe. The robes of the remembrancers are brown.
  • Akashics - Whereas the cetics study conscious processes("programs") and the principles where artificial programming and consciousness meet, the akashics focus on how information is stored in the human brain, using computers to create holograms of the human brain and extracting information, should the need arise. The akashics wear yellow robes.
  • Horologes - These people are associated with the keeping of time and time-devices. The Timekeeper, Lord of the Order for over two thousand years, was always the Lord Horologe. The robes of the horologes are red.
  • Tinkers - Tinkers devote themselves to the basic study of physics and engineering. They are responsible for realizing technological advancements. Aside from simply building/designing things, Tinkers also—together with the Programmers—are responsible for the design and creation of the pilots' lightships. Their robes are green.
  • Eschatologists - Devoted to the study of galactic gods, such as the Solid State Entity, and the study of events throughout galactic history pointing towards mankind's purpose and destiny, should there be one. In their studies, they also concern themselves with the classification of other beings, based on their progress towards Divinity, or "godhood".
  • Holists - People who study the sixth mentality of Man, holism, creating connections with all things, and claiming that the essence of everything is in everything. They are fairly involved in the study of the Universal Syntax among other things.
  • Ecologists - People who study life and its associated objects.
  • Programmers - Those who study the discipline of computational management of information; programming tutelary robots as well as defining the electronic neurologics found in numerous utilities and computers. These synthetical neurologics are made by growing diamond-like crystals into complex circuitry, used in almost all electronics of the time(and especially in the pilots' lightships).
  • Cantors - Those who dedicate themselves to the study of pure mathematics for its own sake. Their robes are grey in colour.
  • Historians - Those who are devoted to the study of history.

Examples of cults and professions found elsewhere in the Order's vicinity[edit]

  • Imprimaturs - Although all Imprimaturs are also Akashics, Imprimaturs have less prestige. They are able to implant knowledge and memory by hardwiring synapses in the brain.
  • Cutters - Those who shape the body to suit various purposes.
  • Autists - Those who believe in the world as a huge dream and eternally stay in "dreamspace".
  • Phantasts - Similar to Autists, Phantasts are believed to work in the realms of illusion and dream.

Other Disciplines[edit]

  • Neologicans

At 2929 years since the founding of Neverness, there were one hundred and eighteen disciplines in the Order, however this number fluctuated rapidly throughout the years. The Phantast discipline, for example, was not created until many years later.

Progression[edit]

There are many Order Schools throughout the arm of the galaxy. Humans travel from abroad to be educated at these schools as they are regarded as the best places for a thorough education. The best of these schools then go to the Elite Schools on planets such as Catava and Farfara. The best of these Elite Schools are then permitted into the Novice Academy, Borja, at Neverness (and later Thiells), and then later into the Resa Academy. Some lucky petitioners are harshly trialed and are allowed direct access to the Novice academy without entering the earlier stages.

Ede The God[edit]

Ede The God, also known as Nikolos Daru Ede, is said to have copied his consciousness directly into a large computer he calls "The Eternal Computer".

The Architects of the Universal Cybernetic Churches believe that he has attained Godhood through this and, according to the Cybernetic Doctrine of Totality, eventually the Ede-Computer will grow to encompass the whole universe and the universe, being a large computer itself, will reach halt state, this is known as the Doctrine of the Halting and also as the (Tiplerean) Omega Point, and that all architects would participant in the rebuilding of the galaxy at the end of time. This was not the belief of Ede himself, rather his assistant Ivi Olorun proscribed doctrine and founded the church, the chief doctrine of which is "Ede is God, and God he shall be, and there shall only be one God."

Ede The God was destroyed by the Silicon God in The Wild. Ede is supposed to have been an ally of Kalinda of Qallar. The Silicon God had presented Ede the God with a gift, a beautiful, horribly realistic simulation of how the galaxy (indeed, the entire universe) could be, and within this simulation there was viral programming that infected Ede until the last nanosecond of his existence, when he reduced himself and cut away all nonessential elements of his godly nature, to preserve himself as photons (radio). A cut-down version of his personality after his supposed death was preserved in an Architect's Devotionary computer, that is held by Danlo wi Soli Ringess on his journeys to find the planet Tannahill and recover Ede's lost human body.

The Silicon God[edit]

The Silicon God was an experiment by the technicians at Fostora, to build a self-programming and self-aware computer, that is not possessing human consciousness, unlike Ede the God and Kalinda of Qallar. Once the computer was started, it opened a window into the manifold and disappeared immediately. When it was rediscovered by the Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Keepers of the Inneffable Flame in the Deva Cluster, it had expanded to gigantic proportions and was making war against the other Gods, including Chimene, Kalinda of Qallar, and Ede the God. He developed a unique information virus that appealed to Ede's vanity, thus forcing Ede to store his remaining personality in a tiny Architect's Devotionary computer, that the Silicon God could not track. The God is considered to be evil. It makes war against Kalinda of Qallar, the April Colonial Intelligence and Ede the God.

The April Colonial Intelligence[edit]

The April Colonial Intelligence was the result of a human-engineered nanorobotic bacterium, that was used for the intelligent design and construction of buildings. The bacterium got so out of hand that its reproductive cycle caused it to overrun the entire planet it was inhabiting, against the covenants of the Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Keepers of the Inneffable Flame. This bacterium went on to occupy most of the April Cluster, forming a gigantic colonial intelligence. The only Pilot from the Order of Mathematicians to survive entering this cluster was The Richardess, a friend of Danlo wi Soli Ringess, who also knew Mallory Ringess.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charles N. Brown. "David Zindell: Back to Roots" (excerpt), Locus, v44:6 No.473 June 2000. Retrieved on 2000-09-07.
  2. ^ Simeon Shoul. "The Lightstone by David Zindell (book review)". Infinity Plus. 
  3. ^ Dave Langford. "Danlo of Dune - Idle Thoughts on War in Heaven". The New York Review of Science Fiction. 
  4. ^ Curt Wohleber. "The Wild (book review)". SciFi.com. 

Further reading[edit]

  • “Neverness, David Zindell” by Faren Miller, (br) Locus v21:3 No.326 Mar 1988
  • “The Broken God, David Zindell” by Faren Miller, (br) Locus v31:3 No.392 Sep 1993
  • “The Wild, David Zindell” by Faren Miller, (br) Locus v37:1 No.426 Jul 1996
  • “War in Heaven, David Zindell” by Faren Miller, (br) Locus v40:1 No.444 Jan 1998
  • “David Zindell’s Neverness” by Julian R. Bliss, (br) Overspace #10 1990