One True

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One True is the fictional hegemonic software program that takes control of individual human minds and entire human societies in John Barnes' two Meme Wars novels Candle and The Sky So Big and Black; the novel Kaleidoscope Century details the years leading up to its existence and later (it finishes after the events described in The Sky So Big and Black). All four books are part of the Century Next Door series. One True operates collectively through "Resuna", a brain–computer interface implanted in every person.

Fictional history[edit]

Initially known as the One True Church of Ecucatholicism, One True develops through exposure to other memes. Initially an aggressive religious meme, by the end of the War of Papal Succession (a.k.a. the Meme Wars) it has become an entity determined to fix the ecological damage wrought on earth as a result of the two major conflicts of the 2000s, in order to provide a safe place for humans to live.

When the major conflict is over, Resuna is developed as a micro-meme that works to support One True as a massively distributed network instead of a large-scale meme that essentially erases the original personality of the person in whom it was installed. Resuna, taking up less space, is described as a tool that can be used by its "wearer" rather than a puppet-master pulling all of the wearer's strings. Through the use of cellular biochip implants, all people running the Resuna meme provide the computing power to operate One True. Benefits include being able to instantly access data assets (like satellite photography, GIS, instant messaging, and more) as well as control of autonomic functions (e.g. controlled release of endorphins). Resuna essentially performs the functions of a semi-intelligent personal digital assistant.

However, Resuna also provides a method for One True to control its human units completely, as needed. While working towards essentially common goals, this distributed approach means that Resuna is willing to sacrifice individuals if it determines that the greater good will be served. Free will is also removed, as the distributed network can override any individual actions that it determines are not in the best interests of the community.

At the end of Candle, One True deliberately allows a human with Resuna to become infected with the final version of the Freecyber meme, which was deployed during the Meme Wars to fight One True. One True reveals that it no longer wishes to have the absolute control it enjoyed for the first decades of its existence. It begins the process of freeing individuals from Resuna using Freecyber, which leaves them in complete control of their own actions, while still able to participate in the global net-based consciousness.


  • Candle. 2000. New York: Tor Science Fiction. ISBN 0-8125-8968-8.
  • The Sky So Big and Black. 2002. New York: Tor Science Fiction. ISBN 0-7653-0303-5.