One of my absolutely favourite science fiction novels is Greg Bear’s 1985 Eon, a story of first contact, politics, war, time travel, technology and humanity that centres around the aftermath of the the arrival into Earth’s orbit of a spaceship from our own future, the Thistledown. I sit down and try to read Eon at least once a year; And hark!, as I write this, I am pleased to discover that there’s a copy of the novel no more than fifty centimetres from me. It’s an excellent read, one I recommend to everyone for Mister Bear’s portrayal of a horrific nuclear war, his (one of the first of our era!) treatment of a post-scarcity society where information is the currency, and of course his gripping story and compelling characters. If you have already read the book, you’re probably asking “but what about The Way?”
I was just getting around to that.
That most addictive of sandbox games, Minecraft, recently added a system of slipgates through an ominous realm that is ominously titled the Nether. The Nether is a hellish in-between. One step in the Nether is eight in the real world. And then there are the slipgates, portals that link the two world together in interestingly unpredictable ways. I immediately began to draw comparisons between the Nether and the Way, comparisons that only worked to fire my imagination and interest. Both the Nether and the Way are an outside place that links many worlds together in ways that are unique and unpredictable. In the Way, even a skilled user of the Clavicle can only claim limited control of where the waygate will ultimately open. They can make educated guesses and follow inspired hunches. In the Nether, precisely where a portal opens seems to be quasi-random; coming from the Nether, I’ve opened adjecant slipgates into solid rock and hundreds of feet in the air above a sea that stretches from misty horizon to misty horizon.
More comparisons abound: The Way was filled with life by Korenski(sp) and the other Naderites. Earth and biomass was shipped from outside worlds to line the surface of the Way in order to supply living space. I’ve filled my network of Nether slipgates with grass, flowers, trees and flowing water. The Jarts and Ghasts; both unfathomable and implacably hostile.