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CONTACT -Carl Sagan

For Alexandra, who comes of age with the Millennium. May we lea e your generation a world !etter than the one we were gi en. "A#T $ T%& M&SSA'& My heart trem!les li(e a )oor leaf. The )lanets whirl in my dreams. The stars )ress against my window. $ rotate in my slee). My !ed is a warm )lanet. -MA#*$N M&#C&# ".S. +,-, Fifth 'rade, %arlem New .or( City, N... /+01+2 CHAPTER 1 Transcendental Numbers 3ittle fly, Thy summer4s )lay My thoughtless hand %as !rushed away. Am not $ A fly li(e thee5 Or art not thou A man li(e me5 For $ dance And drin( and sing, Till some !lind hand Shall !rush my wing. -6$33$AM 73A8& Songs of &x)erience 9The Fly,9 Stan:as +-- /+;0,2 7y human standards it could not )ossi!ly ha e !een artificial< $t was the si:e of a world. 7ut it was so oddly and intricately sha)ed, so clearly intended for some com)lex )ur)ose that it

could only ha e !een the ex)ression of an idea. 'liding in )olar or!it a!out the great !luewhite star, it resem!led some immense, im)erfect )olyhedron, encrusted with millions of !owl-sha)ed !arnacles. & ery !owl was aimed at a )articular )art of the s(y. & ery constellation was !eing attended to. The )olyhedral world had !een )erforming its enigmatic function for eons. $t was ery )atient. $t could afford to wait fore er. 6hen they )ulled her out, she was not crying at all. %er tiny !row was wrin(led, and then her eyes grew wide. She loo(ed at the !right lights, the white and green-clad figures, the woman lying on the ta!le !elow her. On her face was an odd ex)ression for a new!orn-)u::lement )erha)s. = = = 6hen she was two years old, she would lift her hands o er her head and say ery sweetly, 9>ada, u).9 %is friends ex)ressed sur)rise. The !a!y was )olite. 9$t4s not )oliteness,9 her father told them. 9She used to scream when she wanted to !e )ic(ed u). So once $ said to her, ?&llie, you don4t ha e to scream. @ust say, 9>addy, u).94 8ids are smart. #ight, "resh59 So now she was u) all right, at a giddy altitude, )erched on her father4s shoulders and clutching his thinning hair. 3ife was !etter u) here, far safer than crawling through a forest of legs. Some!ody could ste) on you down there. .ou could get lost. She tightened her gri). 3ea ing the mon(eys, they turned a corner and came u)on a great s)indly-legged, long-nec(ed da))led !east with tiny horns on its head. $ towered o er them. 9Their nec(s are so long, the tal( can4t get out,9 her father said. she felt sorry for the )oor creature, condemned to silence. 7ut she also felt a Aoy in its existence, a delight that such wonders might !e. = = = 9'o ahead, &llie,9 her mother gently urged her. There was a lilt in the familiar oice. 9#ead it.9 %er mother4s sister had not !elie ed that &llie, age three, could read. The nursery stories, the aunt was con inced, had !een memori:ed. Now they were strolling down State Street on a !ris( March day and had sto))ed !efore a store window. $nside, a !urgundyred stone was glistening in the sunlight. 9@eweler,9 &llie read slowly, )ronouncing three sylla!les. = = = 'uiltily, she let herself into the s)are room. The old Motorola radio was on the shelf where she remem!ered it. $t was ery !ig and hea y and, hugging it to her chest, she almost dro))ed it. On the !ac( were the words 9>anger. >o Not #emo e.9 7ut she (new that if it wasn4t )lugged in, there was no danger in it. 6ith her tongue !etween her li)s, she remo ed the screws and ex)osed the innards. As she had sus)ected, there were no tiny orchestras and miniature announcers Buietly li ing out their small li es in antici)ation of the moment when the toggle switch would !e clic(ed to 9on.9 $nstead there were !eautiful glass tu!es, a little li(e light !ul!s. Some resem!led the churches of Moscow she had seen )ictured in a !oo(. The )rongs at their !ases were )erfectly designed for the rece)tacles they were fitted into. 6ith the !ac( off and the switch 9on,9 she )lugged the set into a near!y wall soc(et. $f she didn4t touch it, if she went nowhere near it, how could it hurt her5 After a few moments, tu!es !egan to glow warmly, !ut no sound came. The radio was 9!ro(en,9 and had !een retired some years !efore in fa or of a more modern ariety. One

tu!e was not glowing. She un)lugged the set and )ried the uncoo)erati e tu!e out its rece)tacle. There was a metallic sBuare inside, attached to tiny wires. The electricity runs along the wires, she thought aguely. 7ut first it has to get into the tu!e. One of the )rongs seemed !ent, and she was a!le after a little wor( to straighten it. #einserting the tu!e and )lugging the set in again, she was delighted to see it !egin to glow, and an ocean of static arose around her. 'lancing toward the closed door with a start, she lowered the olume. She turned the dial mar(ed 9freBuency,9 and came u)on a oice tal(ing excitedly--as far as she could understand, a!out a #ussian machine that was in the s(y, endlessly circling the &arth. &ndlessly, she thought. She turned the dial again, see(ing other stations. After a while, fearful of !eing disco ered, she un)lugged the set, screwed the !ac( on loosely, and with still more difficulty lifted the radio and )laced it !ac( on the shelf. As she left the s)are room, a little out of !reath, her mother came u)on her and she started once more. 9$s e erything all right, &llie59, Mom.9 She affected a casual air, !ut her heart was !eating, her )alms were sweating. She settled down in a fa orite s)ot in the small !ac(yard and, her (nees drawn u) to her chin, thought a!out the inside of the radio. Are all those tu!es really necessary5 6hat would ha))en if you remo ed them one at a time5 %er father had once called them acuum tu!es. 6hat was ha))ening inside a acuum tu!e5 6as there really no air in there5 %ow did the music of the orchestras and the oices of the announcers get in the radio5 They li(ed to say, 9On the air.9 6as radio carried !y the air5 6hat ha))ens inside the radio set when you change stations5 6hat was 9freBuency95 6hy do you ha e to )lug it in for it to wor(5 Could you ma(e a (ind of ma) showing how the electricity runs through the radio5 Could you ta(e it a)art without hurting yourself5 Could you )ut it !ac( together again5 9&llie, what ha e you !een u) to59 as(ed her mother, wal(ing !y with laundry for the clothesline. 9Nothing, Mom. @ust thin(ing.9 = = = $n her tenth summer, she was ta(en on acation to isit two cousins she detested at a cluster of ca!ins along a la(e in the Northern "eninsula of Michigan. 6hy )eo)le who li ed on a la(e in 6isconsin would s)end fi e hours dri ing all the way to a la(e in Michigan was !eyond her. &s)ecially to see two mean and !a!yish !oys. Only ten and ele en. #eal Aer(s. %ow could her father, so sensiti e to her in other res)ects, want her to )lay day in and day out with twer)s5 She s)ent the summer a oiding them. One sultry moonless night after dinner she wal(ed down alone to the wooden )ier. A motor!oat had Aust gone !y, and her uncle4s row!oat tethered to the doc( was softly !o!!ing in the starlit water. A)art from distant cicadas and an almost su!liminal shout echoing across the la(e, it was )erfectly still. She loo(ed u) at the !rilliant s)angled s(y and found her heart racing. 6ithout loo(ing down, with only her outstretched hand to guide her, she found a soft )atch of grass and laid herself down. The s(y was !la:ing with stars. There were thousands of them, most twin(ling, a few !right and steady. $f you loo(ed carefully you could see faint differences in color. That !right one there, wasn4t it !luish5 She felt again for the ground !eneath herC it was solid, steady... reassuring. Cautiously she sat u) and loo(ed left and right, u) and down the long reach of la(efront. She could see !oth sides of the water. The world only loo(s flat, she thought to herself. #eally it4s round.

This is all a !ig !all... turning in the middle of the s(y... once a day. She tried to imagine it s)inning, with millions of )eo)le glued to it, tal(ing different languages, wearing funny clothes, all stuc( to the same !all. She stretched out again and tried to sense the s)in. May!e she could feel it Aust a little. Across the la(e, a !right star was twin(ling !etween the to)most !ranches. $f you sBuinted your eyes you could ma(e rays of light dance out of it. SBuint a little more, and the rays would o!ediently change their length and sha)e. 6as she Aust imagining it, or... the star was now definitely a!o e the trees. @ust a few minutes ago it had !een )o(ing in and out of the !ranches. Now it was higher, no dou!t a!out it. That4s what they meant when they said a star was rising, she told herself. The &arth was turning in the other direction. At one end of the s(y the stars were rising. That way was called &ast. At the other end of the s(y, !ehind her, the ca!ins, the stars were setting. That way was called 6est. Once e ery day the &arth would s)in com)letely around, and the same stars would rise again in the same )lace. 7ut if something as !ig as the &arth turned once a day, it had to !e mo ing ridiculously fast. & eryone she (new must !e whirling at an un!elie a!le s)eed. She though she could now actually feel the &arth turn--not Aust imagine it in her head, !ut really feel it in the )it of her stomach. $t was li(e descending in a fast ele ator. She craned her nec( !ac( further, so her field of iew was uncontaminated !y anything on &arth, until she could see nothing !ut !lac( s(y and !right stars. 'ratifyingly, she was o erta(en !y the giddy sense that she had !etter clutch the clum)s of grass on either side of her and hold on for dear life, or else fall u) into the s(y, her tiny tum!ling !ody dwarfed !y the huge dar(ened s)here !elow. She actually cried out !efore she managed to stifle the scream with her wrist. That was how her cousins were a!le to find her. Scram!ling down the slo)e, they disco ered on her face an uncommon mix of em!arrassment and sur)rise, which they readily assimilated, eager to find some small indiscretion to carry !ac( and offer to her )arents. = = = The !oo( was !etter than the mo ie. For one thing, there was a lot more in it. And some of the )ictures were awfully different from the mo ie. 7ut in !oth, "inocchio--a lifesi:ed wooden !oy who magically is roused to life--wore a (ind of halter, and there seemed to !e dowels in his Aoints. 6hen 'e))etto is Aust finishing the construction of "inocchio, he turns his !ac( on the )u))et and is )rom)tly sent flying !y a well-)laced (ic(. At that instant the car)enter4s friend arri es and as(s him what he is doing s)rawled on the floor. 9$ am teaching,9 'e))etto re)lies with dignity, 9the al)ha!et to the ants.9 The seemed to &llie extremely witty, and she delighted in recounting it to her friends. 7ut each time she Buoted it there was an uns)o(en Buestion lingering at the edge of her consciousness< Could you teach the al)ha!et to the ants5 And would you want to5 >own there with hundreds of scurrying insects who might crawl all o er your s(in, or e en sting you5 6hat could ants (now, anyway5 = = = Sometimes she would get u) in the middle of the night to go to the !athroom and find her father there in his )aAama !ottoms, his nec( craned u), a (ind of )atrician disdain accom)anying the sha ing cream on his u))er li). 9%i, "resh,9 he would say. $t was short for 9)recious,9 and she lo ed him to call her that. 6hy was he sha ing at night, when no one would (now if he had a !eard5 97ecause9--he smiled--9your mother will (now.9 .ears later, she disco ered that she had understood this cheerful remar( only incom)letely. %er )arents had !een in lo e.

= = = After school, she had ridden her !icycle to a little )ar( on the la(e. From a saddle!ag she )roduced The #adio Amateur4s %and!oo( and A Connecticut .an(ee in 8ing Arthur4s Court. After a moment4s consideration, she decided on the latter. Twain4s hero had !een con(ed on the head and awa(ened in Arthurian &ngland. May!e it was all a dream or a delusion. 7ut may!e it was real. 6as it )ossi!le to tra el !ac(wards in time5 %er chin on her (nees, she scouted for a fa orite )assage. $t was when Twain4s hero is first collected !y a man dressed in armor who he ta(es to !e an esca)ee from a local !oo!y hatch. As they reach the crest of the hill they see a city laid out !efore them< 9?7ridge)ort54 said $... 9?Camelot,4 said he.9 She stared out into the !lue la(e, trying to imagine a city which could )ass as !oth nineteenth-century 7ridge)ort and sixth-century Camelot, when her mother rushed u) to her. 9$4 e loo(ed for you e erywhere. 6hy aren4t you where $ can find you5 Oh, &llie,9 she whis)ered, 9something awful4s ha))ened.9 = = = $n the se enth grade they were studying 9)i.9 $t was a 'ree( letter that loo(ed li(e the architecture at Stonehenge, in &ngland< two ertical )illars with a cross!ar at to)--5. $f you measured the circumference of a circle and then di ided it !y the diameter of the circle, that was )i. At home, &llie too( the to) of a mayonnaise Aar, wra))ed a string around it, straightened the string out, and with a ruler measured the circle4s circumference. She did the same with the diameter, and !y long di ision di ided the one num!er !y the other. She got -.D+. That seemed sim)le enough. The next day the teacher, Mr. 6eis!rod, said that 5 was a!out DDE;, a!out -.+F+G. 7ut actually, if you wanted to !e exact, it was a decimal that went on and on fore er without re)eating the )attern of num!ers. Fore er, &llie thought. She raised her hand. $t was the !eginning of the school year and she had not as(ed any Buestions in this class. 9%ow could any!ody (now that the decimals go on and on fore er59 9That4s Aust the way it is,9 said the teacher with some as)erity. 97ut why5 %ow do you (now5 %ow can you count decimals fore er59 9Miss Arroway9--he was consulting his class list--9this is a stu)id Buestion. .ou4re wasting the class4s time.9 No one had e er called &llie stu)id !efore, and she found herself !ursting into tears. 7illy %orstman, who sat next to her, gently reached out and )laced his hand o er hers. %is father had recently !een indicted for tam)ering with the odometers on the used cars he sold, so 7illy was sensiti e to )u!lic humiliation. &llie ran out of the class so!!ing. After school she !icycled to the li!rary at the near!y college to loo( through !oo(s on mathematics. As nearly as she could figure out from what she read, her Buestion wasn4t all that stu)id.According to the 7i!le, the ancient %e!rews had a))arently thought that 5 was exactly eBual to three. The 'ree(s and #omans, who (new lots of things a!out mathematics, had no idea that the digits in 5 went on fore er without re)eating. $t was a fact that had !een disco ered only a!out D,H years ago. %ow was she x)ected to (now if she couldn4t as( Buestions5 7ut Mr. 6eis!rod had !een right a!out the first few digits. "i wasn4t -.D+. May!e the mayonnaise lid had !een a little sBuashed, not a )erfect circle. Or may!e she4d !een

slo))y in measuring the string. & en if she4d !een much more careful, though, they couldn4t ex)ect her to measure an infinite num!er of decimals. There was another )ossi!ility, though. .ou could calculate )i as accurately as you wanted. $f you (new something called calculus, you could )ro e formulas for 5 that would let you calculate it to as many decimals as you had time for. The !oo( listed formulas for )i di ided !y four. Some of them she couldn4tunderstand at all. 7ut there were some that da::led her< 5EF, the !oo( said, was the same as + - +E- I +E, -+E;..., with the fractions continuing on fore er. Juic(ly she tried to wor( it out, adding and su!tracting the fractions alternately. The sum would !ounce from !eing !igger than 5EF to !eing smaller than 5EF, !ut after a while you could see that this series of num!ers was on a !eeline for the right answer. .ou could ne er get there exactly, !ut you could get as close as you wanted if you were ery )atient. $t seemed to her a miracle that the sha)e of e ery circle in the world was connected with this series of fractions. %ow could circles (now a!out fractions5 She was determined to learn calculus. The !oo( said something else< 5 was called a 9transcendental9 num!er. There was no eBuation with ordinary num!ers in it that could gi e you 5 unless it was infinitely long. She had already taught herself a little alge!ra and understood what this meant. And 5 wasn4t the only transcendental num!er. $n fact there was an infinity of transcendental num!ers. More than that, there were infinitely more transcendental num!ers than ordinary num!ers, e en though 5 was the only one of them she had e er heard of. $n more ways than one, 5 was tied to infinity. She had caught a glim)se of something maAestic. %iding !etween all the ordinary num!ers was an infinity of transcendental num!ers whose )resence you would ne er ha e guessed unless you loo(ed dee)ly into mathematics. & ery now and then one of them, li(e 5, would )o) u) unex)ectedly in e eryday life. 7ut most of them--an infinite num!er of them, she reminded herself--were hiding, minding their own !usiness, almost certainly unglim)sed !y the irrita!le Mr. 6eis!rod. = = = She saw through @ohn Staughton from the first. %ow her mother could e er contem)late marrying him--ne er mind that it was only two years after her father4s death--was an im)enetra!le mystery. %e was nice enough loo(ing, and he could )retend, when he )ut his mind to it, that he really cared a!out you. 7ut he was a martinet. %e made students come o er wee(ends to weed and garden at the new house they had mo ed into, and then made fun of them after they left. %e told &llie that she was Aust !eginning high school and was not to loo( twice at any of his !right young men. %e was )uffed u) with imaginary self-im)ortance. She was sure that as a )rofessor he secretly des)ised her dead father, who had !een only a sho)(ee)er. Staughton had made it clear that an interest in radio and electronics was unseemly for a girl, that it would not catch her a hus!and, that understanding )hysics was for her a foolish and a!errational notion. 9"retentious,9 he called it. She Aust didn4t ha e the a!ility. This was an o!Aecti e fact that she might as well get used to. %e was telling her this for her own good. She4d than( him for it in later life. %e was, after all, an associate )rofessor of )hysics. %e (new what it too(. These homilies would always infuriate her, e en though she had ne er !efore--des)ite Staughton4s refusal to !elie e it--considered a career in science. %e was not a gentle man, as her father had !een, and he had no idea what a sense of humor was. 6hen anyone assumed that she was Staughton4s daughter, she would !e outraged.

%er mother and ste)father ne er suggested that she change her name to StaughtonC they (new what her res)onse would !e. Occasionally there was a little warmth in the man, as when, in her hos)ital room Aust after her tonsillectomy, he had !rought her a s)lendid (aleidosco)e. 96hen are they going to do the o)eration,9 she had as(ed, a little slee)ily. 9They4 e already done it,9 Staughton had answered. 9.ou4re going to !e fine.9 She found it disBuieting that whole !loc(s of time could !e stolen without her (nowledge, and !lamed him. She (new at the time it was childish. That her mother could truly lo e him was inconcei a!le. She must ha e remarried out of loneliness, out of wea(ness. She needed someone to ta(e care of her. &llie owed she would ne er acce)t a )osition of e)endence. &llie4s father had died, her mother had grown distant, and &llie felt herself exiled to the house of a tyrant. There was no one to call her "resh anymore. She longed to esca)e. 9?7ridge)ort54 said $. 9?Camelot,4 said he.9 CHAPTER 2 Coherent Light Since $ first gained the use of reason my inclination toward learning has !een so iolent and strong that neither the scoldings of other )eo)le... nor my own reflections... ha e !een a!le to sto) me from following this natural im)ulse that 'od ga e me. %e alone must (now whyC and %e (nows too that $ ha e !egged %im to ta(e the light of my understanding, lea ing only enough for me to (ee) %is law, for anything else is excessi e in a woman, according to some )eo)le. And others say it is e en harmful. -@KANA $N&S >& 3A C#KL #e)ly to the 7isho) of "ue!la /+G0+2, who had attac(ed her scholarly wor( as ina))ro)riate for her sex $ wish to )ro)ose for the reader4s fa oura!le consideration a doctrine which may, $ fear, a))ear wildly )aradoxical and su! ersi e. The doctrine in Buestion is this< that it is undesira!le to !elie e a )ro)osition when there is no ground whate er for su))osing it true. $ must, of course, admit that if such an o)inion !ecame common it would com)letely transform our social life and our )olitical systemC since !oth are at )resent faultless, this must weigh against it. -7&#T#AN> #KSS&33 S(e)tical &ssays, $ /+0D12 Surrounding the !lue-white star in its eBuatorial )lane was a ast ring of or!iting de!risM roc(s and ice, metals and organics--reddish at the )eri)hery and !luish closer to the

star. The world-si:ed )olyhedron )lummeted through a ga) in the rings and emerged out the other side. $n the ring )lane, it had !een intermittently shadowed !y icy !oulders and tum!ling mountains. 7ut now, carried along its traAectory toward a )oint a!o e the o))osite )ole of the star, the sunlight gleamed off its millions of !owl-sha)ed a))endages. $f you loo(ed ery carefully you might ha e seen one of them ma(e a slight )ointing adAustment. .ou would not ha e seen the !urst of radio wa es washing out from it into the de)ths of s)ace. For all the tenure of humans on &arth, the night s(y had !een a com)anion and an ins)iration. The stars were comforting. They seemed to demonstrate that the hea ens were created for the !enefit and instruction of humans. This )athetic conceit !ecame the con entional wisdom worldwide. No culture was free of it. Some )eo)le found in the s(ies an a)erture to the religious sensi!ility. Many were awestruc( and hum!led !y the glory and scale of the cosmos. Others were stimulated to the most extra agant flights of fancy. At the ery moment that humans disco ered the scale of the uni erse and found that their most unconstrained fancies were in fact dwarfed !y the true dimensions of e en the Mil(y 6ay 'alaxy, they too( ste)s that ensured that their descendants would !e una!le to see the stars at all. For a million years humans had grown u) with a )ersonal daily (nowledge of the ault of hea en. $ the last few thousand years they !egan !uilding and emigrating to the cities. $n the last few decades, a maAor fraction of the human )o)ulationhad a!andoned a rustic way of life. As technology de elo)ed and the cities were )olluted, the nights !ecame starless. New generations grew to maturity wholly ignorant of the s(y that had transfixed their ancestors and that had stimulated the modern age of science and technology. 6ithout e en noticing, Aust as astronomy entered a golden age most )eo)le cut themsel es off from the s(y, a cosmic isolationism that ended only with the dawn of s)ace ex)loration. = = = &llie would loo( u) at *enus and imagine it was a world something li(e the &arth-)o)ulated !y )lants and animals and ci ili:ations, !ut each of them different from the (inds we ha e here. On the outs(irts of town, Aust after sunset, she would examine the night s(y and scrutini:e that unflic(ering !right )oint of light. 7y com)arison with near!y clouds, Aust a!o e her, still illuminated !y the Sun, it seemed a little yellow. She tried to imagine what was going on there. She would stand on ti)toe and stare the )lanet down. Sometimes, she could almost con ince herself that she could really see itC a swirl of yellow fog would suddenly clear, and a ast Aeweled city would !riefly !e re ealed. Air cars s)ed among the crystal s)ires. Sometimes she would imagine )eering into one of those ehicles and glim)sing one of them. Or she would imagine a young one, glancing u) at a !right !lue )oint of light in its s(y, standing on ti)toe and wondering a!out the inha!itants of &arth. $t was an irresisti!le notion< a sultry, tro)ical )lanet !rimming o er with intelligent life, and Aust next door. She consented to rote memori:ation, !ut (new that it was at !est the hollow shell of education. She did the minimum wor( necessary to do well in her courses, and )ursued other matters. She arranged to s)end free )eriods and occasional hours after school in what was called 9sho)9--a dingy and cram)ed small factory esta!lished when the school de oted more effort to 9 ocational education9 than was now fashiona!le. 9*ocational education9 meant, more than anything else, wor(ing with your hands. There were lathes, drill )resses, and other machine tools which she was for!idden to a))roach, !ecause no matter how ca)a!le she might !e, she was still 9a girl.9 #eluctantly, they granted her )ermission to )ursue her own )roAects in the electronics area of the 9sho).9 She !uilt radios more or less from scratch, and then went on to something more interesting.

She !uilt an encry)ting machine. $t was rudimentary, !ut it wor(ed. $t could ta(e any &nglish-language message and transform it !y a sim)le su!stitution ci)her into something that loo(ed li(e gi!!erish.7uilding a machine that would do the re erse--con erting an encry)ted message into clear when you didn4t (now the su!stitution con ention--that was much harder. .ou could ha e the machine run through all the )ossi!le su!stitutions /A stands for 7, A stands for C, A stands for >...2, or you could remem!er that some letters in &nglish were used more often than others. .ou could get some idea of the freBuency of letters !y loo(ing at the si:es of the !ins for each letter of ty)e in the )rint sho) next door. 9&TAO$N S%#>3K,9 the !oys in )rint sho) would say, gi ing )retty closely the order of the twel e most freBuently used letters in &nglish. $n decoding a long message, the letter that was most common )ro!a!ly stood for an &. Certain consonants tended to go together, she disco eredC owels distri!uted themsel es more or less at random. The most common three-letter word in the language was 9the.9 $f within a word there was a letter standing !etween a T and an &, it was almost certainly %. $f not, you could !et on # or a owel. She deduced other rules and s)ent long hours counting u) the freBuency of letters in arious school!oo(s !efore she disco ered that such freBuency ta!les had already !een com)iled and )u!lished. %er decry)ting machine was only for her own enAoyment. She did not use it to con ey secret messages to friends. She was unsure to whom she might safely confide these electronic and cry)togra)hic interestsC the !oys !ecame Aittery or !oisterous, and the girls loo(ed at her strangely. = = = Soldiers of the Knited States were fighting in a distant )lace called *ietnam. & ery month, it seemed, more young men were !eing scoo)ed off the street or the farm and )ac(ed off the *ietnam. The more she learned a!out the origins of the war, and the more she listened to the )u!lic )ronouncements of national leaders, the more outraged she !ecame. The "resident and the Congress were lying and (illing, she thought to herself, and almost e eryone else was mutely assenting. The fact that her ste)father em!raced official )ositions on treaty o!ligations, dominoes, and na(ed Communist aggression only strengthened her resol e. She !egan attending meetings and rallies at the college near!y. The )eo)le she met there seemed much !righter, friendlier, more ali e than her aw(ward and lusterless high school com)anions. @ohn Staughton first cautioned her and then for!ade her to s)end time with college students. They would not res)ect her, he said.They would ta(e ad antage of her. She was )retending to a so)histication she did not ha e and ne er would. %er style of dress was deteriorating. Military fatigues were ina))ro)riate for a girl and a tra esty, a hy)ocrisy, for someone who claimed to o))ose the American inter ention in Southeast Asia. 7eyond )ious exhortations to &llie and Staughton not to 9fight,9 her mother )artici)ated little in these discussions. "ri ately she would )lead with &llie to o!ey her ste)father, to !e 9nice.9 &llie now sus)ected Staughton of marrying her mother for her father4s life insurance--why else5 %e certainly showed no signs of lo ing her--and he was not )redis)osed to !e 9nice.9 One day, in some agitation, her mother as(ed her to do something for all their sa(es< attend 7i!le class. 6hile her father, a s(e)tic on re ealed religions, had !een ali e, there was no tal( of 7i!le class. %ow could her mother ha e married Staughton5 The Buestion welled u) in her for the thousandth time. 7i!le class, her mother continued, would hel) instill the con entional irtuesC !ut e en more im)ortant, it would show Staughton that &llie was willing to ma(e some accommodation. Out of lo e and )ity for her mother, she acBuiesced. So e ery Sunday for most of one school year &llie went to a

regular discussion grou) at a near!y church. $t was one of the res)ecta!le "rotestant denominations, untainted !y disorderly e angelism. There were a few high school students, a num!er of adults, mainly middle-aged women, and the instructor, the minister4s wife. &llie had ne er seriously read the 7i!le !efore and had !een inclined to acce)t her father4s )erha)s ungenerous Audgment that it was 9half !ar!arian history, half fairy tales.9 So o er the wee(end )receding her first class, she read through what seemed to !e the im)ortant )arts of the Old Testament, trying to (ee) an o)en mind. She at once recogni:ed that there were two different and mutually contradictory stories of Creation in the first two cha)ters of 'enesis. She did not see how there could !e light and days !efore the Sun was made, and had trou!le figuring out exactly who it was that Cain had married. $n the stories of 3ot and his daughters, of A!raham and Sarah in &gy)t, of the !etrothal of >inah, of @aco! and &sau, she found herself ama:ed. She understood that cowardice might occur in the real world--that sons might decei e and defraud an aged father, that a man might gi e cra en consent to the seduction of his wife !y the 8ing, or e en encourage the ra)e of his daughters. 7ut in this holy !oo( there was not a word of )rotest against such outrages. $nstead, it seemed, the crimes were a))ro ed, e en )raised. 6hen class !egan, she was eager for a discussion of these exing inconsistencies, for an un!urdening illumination of 'od4s "ur)ose, or at least for an ex)lanation of why these crimes were not condemned !y the author or Author. 7ut in this she was to !e disa))ointed. The minister4s wife !landly tem)ori:ed. Somehow these stories ne er surfaced in su!seBuent discussion. 6hen &llie inBuired how it was )ossi!le for the maidser ants of the daughter of "haraoh to tell Aust !y loo(ing that the !a!y in the !ullrushes was %e!rew, the teacher !lushed dee)ly and as(ed &llie not to raise unseemly Buestions. /The answer dawned on &llie at that moment.2 6hen they came to the New Testament, &llie4s agitation increased. Matthew and 3u(e traced the ancestral line of @esus !ac( to 8ing >a id. 7ut for Matthew there were twentyeight generations !etween >a id and @esusC for 3u(e forty-three. There were almost no names common to the two lists. %ow could !oth Matthew and 3u(e !e the 6ord of 'od5 The contradictory genealogies seemed to &llie a trans)arent attem)t to fit the $saianic )ro)hecy after the e ent--coo(ing the data, it was called in chemistry la!. She was dee)ly mo ed !y the Sermon on the Mount, dee)ly disa))ointed !y the admonition to render unto Caesar what is Caesar4s, and reduced to shouts and tears after the instructor twice, sideste))ed her Buestions on the meaning of 9$ !ring not )eace !ut the sword.9 She told her des)airing mother that she had done her !est, !ut wild horses wouldn4t drag her to another 7i!le class. = = = She was lying on her !ed. $t was a hot summer4s night. &l is was singing, 9One night with you, that4s what $4m !eggin4 for.9 The !oys at the high school seemed )ainfully immature, and it was difficultMes)ecially with her ste)father4s strictures and curfews--to esta!lish much of a relationshi) with the young college men she met at lectures and rallies. @ohn Staughton was right, she reluctantly admitted to herself, at least a!out this< The young men, almost without exce)tion, had a )enchant for sexual ex)loitation. At the same time, they seemed much more emotionally ulnera!le than she had ex)ected. "erha)s the one caused the other. She had half ex)ected not to attend college, although she was determined to lea e home. Staughton would not )ay for her to go elsewhere, and her mother4s mee( intercessions were una ailing. 7ut &llie had done s)ectacularly well on the standardi:ed college entrance examinations and found to her sur)rise her teachers telling her that she was li(ely to !e offered scholarshi)s !y well-(nown uni ersities. She had guessed on a num!er of multi)lechoice Buestions and considered her )erformance a flu(e. $f you (now ery little, only enough

to exclude all !ut the two most li(ely answers, and if you then guess at ten straight Buestions, the is a!out one chance in a thousand, she ex)lained to herself, that you4ll get all then correct. For twenty straight Buestions, the odds were one in a million. 7ut something li(e a million (ids )ro!a!ly too( this test. Someone had to get luc(y. Cam!ridge, Massachusetts, seemed far enough away to elude @ohn Staughton4s influence, !ut close enough to return from on acation to isit her mother--who iewed the arrangement as a difficult com)romise !etween a!andoning her daughter and incrementally irritating her hus!and. &llie sur)rised herself !y choosing %ar ard o er the Massachusetts $nstitute of Technology. She arri ed for orientation )eriod, a )retty dar(-haired young woman of middling height with a lo)sided smile and an eagerness to learn e erything. She set out to !roaden her education, to ta(e as many courses as )ossi!le a)art from her central interests in mathematics, )hysics, and engineering. 7ut there was a )ro!lem with her central interests. She found it difficult to discuss )hysics, much less de!ate it, with her )redominantly male classmates. At first they )aid a (ind of selecti e inattention to her remar(s. There would !e a slight )ause, and then they would go on as if she had not s)o(en. Occasionally they would ac(nowledge her remar(, e en )raise it, and then again continue undeflected. She was reasona!ly sure her remar(s were not entirely foolish, and did not wish to !e ignored, much less ignored and )atroni:ed alternately. "art of it--!ut only a )art--she (new was due to the softness of her oice. So she de elo)ed a )hysics oice, a )rofessional oice< clear, com)etent, and many deci!els a!o e con ersational. 6ith such a oice it was im)ortant to !e right. She had to )ic( her moments. $t was hard to continue long in such a oice, !ecause she was sometimes in danger of !ursting out laughing. So she found herself leaning towards Buic(, sometimes cutting, inter entions, usually enough to ca)ture their attentionC then she could go on for a while in a more usual tone of oice. & ery time she found herself in a new grou) she would ha e to fight her way through again, Aust to di) her oar into the discussion. The !oys were uniformly unaware e en that there was a )ro!lem. Sometimes she would !e engaged in a la!oratory exercise or a seminar when the instructor would say, 9'entlemen, let4s )roceed,9 and sensing &llie4s frown would add, 9Sorry, Miss Arroway, !ut $ thin( of you as one of the !oys.9 The highest com)liment they were ca)a!le of )aying was that in their minds she was not o ertly female. She had to fight against de elo)ing too com!ati e a )ersonality or !ecoming altogether a misanthro)e. She suddenly caught herself. 9Misanthro)e9 is someone who disli(es e ery!ody, not Aust men. And they certainly had a word for someone who hates women< 9misogynist.9 7ut the male lexicogra)hers had somehow neglected to coin a word for the disli(e of men. They were almost entirely men themsel es, she thought, and had !een una!le to imagine a mar(et for such a word. More than many others, she had !een encum!ered with )arental )roscri)tions. %er newfound freedoms--intellectual, social, sexual--were exhilarating. At a time when many of her contem)oraries were mo ing toward sha)eless clothing that minimi:ed the distinctions !etween the sexes, she as)ired to an elegance and sim)licity in dress and ma(eu) that strained her limited !udget. There were more effecti e ways to ma(e )olitical statements, she thought. She culti ated a few close friends and made a num!er of casual enemies, who disli(ed her for her dress, for her )olitical and religious iews, or for the igor with which she defended her o)inions. %er com)etence and delight in science were ta(en as re!u(es !y many otherwise ca)a!le young women. 7ut a few loo(ed on her as what mathematicians call an existence theorem--a demonstration that a woman could, sure enough, excel in science--or e en as a role model.

At the height of the sexual re olution, she ex)erimented with gradually increasing enthusiasm, !ut found she was intimidating her would-!e lo ers. %er relationshi)s tended to last a few months or less. The alternati e seemed to !e to disguise her interests and stifle her o)inions, something she had resolutely refused to do in high school. The image of her mother, condemned to a resigned and )lacatory im)risonment, haunted &llie. She !egan wondering a!out men unconnected with the academic and scientific life. Some women, it seemed, were entirely without guile and !estowed their affections with hardly a moment4s conscious thought. Others set out to im)lement a cam)aign of military thoroughness, with !ranched contingency trees and fall!ac( )ositions, all to 9catch9 a desira!le man. The word 9desira!le9 was the gi eaway, she thought. The )oor Aer( wasn4t actually desired, only 9desira!le9--a )lausi!le o!Aect of desire in the o)inion of those others on whose account this whole sorry charade was )erformed. Most women, she thought, were somewhere in the middle, see(ing to reconcile their )assions with their )ercei ed long-term ad antage. "erha)s there were occasional communications !etween lo e and self-interest that esca)ed the notice of the conscious mind. 7ut the whole idea of calculated entra)ment made her shi er. $n this matter, she decided, she was a de otee of the s)ontaneous. That was when she met @esse. = = = %er date had ta(en her to a cellar !ar off 8enmore SBuare. @esse was singing rhythm and !lues and )laying lead guitar. The way he sang and the way he mo ed made clear what she had !een missing. The next night she returned alone. She seated herself at the nearest ta!le and loc(ed eyes with him through !oth his sets.Two months later they were li ing together. $t was only when his !oo(ing too( him to %artford or 7angor that she got any wor( done at all. She would s)end her days with the other students< !oys with the final generation of slide rules hanging li(e tro)hies from their !eltsC !oys with )lastic )encil holders in their !reast )oc(etsC )recise, stilted !oys with ner ous laughsC serious !oys s)ending all their wa(ing moments !ecoming scientists. A!sor!ed in training themsel es to )lum! the de)ths of nature, they were almost hel)less in ordinary human affairs, where, for all their (nowledge, they seemed )athetic and shallow. "erha)s the dedicated )ursuit of science was so consuming, ,so com)etiti e, that no time was left to !ecome a well-rounded human !eing. Or )erha)s their social disa!ilities had led them to fields where the want would not !e noticed. &xce)t for science itself, she did not find them good com)any. At night there was @esse, lea)ing and wailing, a (ind of force of nature that had ta(en o er her life. $n the year they s)ent together, she could not recall a single night when he )ro)osed they go to slee). %e (new nothing of )hysics or mathematics, !uy he was wide awa(e inside the uni erse, and for a time so was she. She dreamed or reconciling her two worlds. She had fantasies of musicians and )hysicists in harmonious social concert. 7ut the e enings she organi:ed were aw(ward and ended early. One day he told her he wanted a !a!y. %e would !e serious, he4d settle down, he4d get a regular Ao!. %e might e en consider marriage. 9A !a!y59 she as(ed him. 97ut $4d ha e to lea e school. $ ha e years more !efore $4m done. $f $ had a !a!y, $ might ne er go !ac( to school.9 9.eah,9 he said, 9!ut we4d ha e a !a!y. .ou wouldn4t ha e school, !ut you4d ha e something else.9 9@esse, $ need school,9 she told him.

%e shrugged, and she could feel their li es together sli) off his shoulders and away. $t lasted another few months, !ut it all had really !een settled in that !rief exchange. They (issed each other good!ye and he went off to California. She ne er heard his oice again. = = = $n the late +0GHs, the So iet Knion succeeded in landing s)ace ehicles on the surface of *enus. They were the first s)acecraft of the human s)ecies to set down in wor(ing order on another )lanet. O er a decade earlier, American radio astronomers, confined to &arth, had disco ered that *enus was an intense source of radio emission. The most )o)ular ex)lanation had !een that the massi e atmos)here of *enus tra))ed the heat through a )lanetary greenhouse effect. $n this iew, the surface of the )lanet was stifling hot, much too hot for crystal cities and wondering *enusians. &llie longed for some other ex)lanation, and tried unsuccessfully to imagine ways in which the radio emission could come from high a!o e a clement *enus surface. Some astronomers at %ar ard and M$T claimed that none of the alternati es to a !roiling *enus could ex)lain the radio data. The idea of so massi e a greenhouse effect seemed to her unli(ely and somehow distasteful, a )lanet that had let itself go. 7ut when the *enera s)acecraft landed and in effect stuc( out a thermometer, the tem)erature measured was high enough to melt tin or lead. She imagined the crystal cities liBuifying /although *enus wasn4t Buite that hot2, the surface awash in silicate tears. She was a romantic. She had (nown it for years. 7ut at the same time she had to admire how )owerful radio astronomy was. The astronomers had sat home, )ointed their radio telesco)es at *enus, and measured the surface tem)erature Aust a!out as accurately as the *enera )ro!es did thirteen years later. She had !een fascinated with electricity and electronics as long as she could remem!er. 7ut this was the first time she had !een dee)ly im)ressed !y radio astronomy. .ou stay safely on your own )lanet and )oint your telesco)e with its associated electronics. $nformation a!out other worlds then comes fluttering down through the feeds. She mar eled at the notion. &llie !egan to isit the uni ersity4s modest radio telesco)e in near!y %ar ard, Massachusetts, e entually getting an in itation to hel) with the o!ser ations and the data analysis. She was acce)ted as a )aid summer assistant at the National #adio Astronomy O!ser atory in 'reen 7an(, 6est *irginia, and u)on arri al, ga:ed in some ra)ture at 'rote #e!er4s original radio telesco)e, constructed in his !ac(yard in 6heaton, $llinois, in +0-1, and now ser ing as a reminder of what a dedicated amateur can accom)lish. #e!er had !een a!le to detect the radio emission from the center of the 'alaxy when no one near!y ha))ened to !e starting u) the car and the diathermy machine down the street was not in o)eration. The 'alactic Center was much more )owerful, !ut the diathermy machine was a lot closer. The atmos)here of )atient inBuiry and the occasional rewards of modest disco ery were agreea!le to her. They were trying to measure how the num!er of distant extragalactic radio sources increased as they loo(ed dee)er into s)ace. She !egan to thin( a!out !etter ways of detecting faint radio signals. $n due course, she graduated cum laude from %ar ard and went on for graduate wor( in radio astronomy at the other end of the country, at the California $nstitute of Technology. = = = For a year, she a))renticed herself to >a id >rumlin. %e had a worldwide re)utation for !rilliance and for not suffering fools gladly, !ut was at heart one of those men you can find at the to) of e ery )rofession who are in a state of unrelie ed anxiety that someone, somewhere, might )ro e smarter than they. >rumlin taught &llie some of the real heart of the su!Aect, es)ecially its theoretical under)innings. Although he was inex)lica!ly rumored to !e

attracti e to women, &llie found him freBuently com!ati e and unremittingly self-in ol ed. She was too romantic, he would say. The uni erse is strictly ordered according to its own rules.The idea is to thin( as the uni erse does, not to foist our romantic )redis)ositions /and girlish longings, he once said2 on the uni erse. & erything not for!idden !y the laws of nature, he assured her--Buoting a colleague down the hall--is mandatory. 7ut, he went on, almost e erything is for!idden. She ga:ed at him as he lectured, trying to di ine this odd com!ination of )ersonality traits. She saw a man in excellent )hysical condition< )rematurely gray hair, sardonic smile, half-moon reading glasses )erched toward the end of his nose, !ow tie, sBuare Aaw, and remnants of a Montana twang. %is idea of a good time was to in ite the graduate students and Aunior faculty o er for dinner /unli(e her ste)father, who enAoyed a student entourage !ut considered ha ing them to dinner an extra agance2. >rumlin would exhi!it an extreme intellectual territoriality, steering the con ersation to to)ics in which he was the ac(nowledged ex)ert and then swiftly dis)atching contrary o)inions. After dinner he would often su!Aect them to a slide show of >r. >. scu!a di ing in Co:umel or To!ago or the 'reat 7arrier #eef. %e was often smiling into the camera and wa ing, e en in the underwater images. Sometimes there would !e a su!marine ista of his scientific colleague, >r. %elga 7or(. />rumlin4s wife would always o!Aect to these )articular slides, on the reasona!le grounds that most of the audience had already seen them at )re ious dinner )arties. $n truth, the audience had already seen all the slides. >rumlin would res)ond !y extolling the irtues of the athletic >r. 7or(, and his wife4s humiliation increased.2 Many of the students gamely went along, see(ing some no elty they had )re iously missed among the !rain corals and the s)iny sea urchins. A few would writhe in em!arrassment or !ecome a!sor!ed in the a ocado di). A stimulating afternoon for his graduate students would !e for them to !e in ited o er, it twos or threes, to dri e him to the edge of a fa orite cliff near "acific "alisades. Casually attached to his hang glider, he would lea) off the )reci)ice toward the tranBuil ocean a few hundred feet !elow. Their Ao! was to dri e down the coast road and retrie e him. %e would swoo) down u)on them, !eaming exultantly. Others were in ited to Aoin him, !ut few acce)ted. %e had, and delighted in, the com)etiti e ad antage. $t was Buite a )erformance. Others loo(ed on graduate students as resources for the future, as their intellectual torch!earers to the next generation. 7ut >rumlin, she felt, had Buite a different iew. For him, graduate students were gunslingers. There was no telling which of them might at any moment challenge him for the reigning title of 9Fastest 'un in the 6est.9 They were to !e (e)t in their )laces. %e ne er made a )ass at her, !ut sooner or later, she was certain, he was !ound to try. $n her second year at Cal Tech, "eter *alerian returned to cam)us from his sa!!atical year a!road. %e was a gentle and un)re)ossessing man. No one, least of all he himself, considered him es)ecially !rilliant. .et he had a steady record of significant accom)lishment in radio astronomy !ecause, he ex)lained when )ressed, he 9(e)t at it.9 There was one slightly disre)uta!le as)ect of his scientific career< %e was fascinated !y the )ossi!ility of extraterrestrial intelligence. &ach faculty mem!er, it seemed, was allowed one foi!le< >rumlin had hang gliding and *alerian had life on other worlds. Others had to)less !ars, or carni orous )lants, or something called transcendental meditation. *alerian had thought a!out extraterrestrial intelligence, a!!re iated &T$, longer and harder--and in many cases more carefully--than anyone else. As she grew to (now him !etter, it seemed that &T$ )ro ided a fascination, a romance, that was in dramatic contrast with the humdrum !usiness of his )ersonal life. This thin(ing a!out extraterrestrial intelligence was not wor( for him, !ut )lay. %is imagination soared. &llie lo ed to listen to him. $t was li(e entering 6onderland or the &merald City. Actually, it was !etter, !ecause at the end of all his ruminations there was the thought that may!e this could really !e true, could really ha))en. Someday, she mused, there might in fact

and not Aust in fantasy !e a message recei ed !y one of the great radio telesco)es. 7ut in a way it was worse, !ecause *alerian, li(e >rumlin on other su!Aects, re)eatedly stressed that s)eculation must !e confronted with so!er )hysical reality. $t was a (ind of sie e that se)arated the rare useful s)eculation from torrents of nonsense. The extraterrestrials and their technology had to conform strictly to the laws of nature, a fact that se erely crim)ed many a charming )ros)ect. 7ut what emerged from this sie e, and sur i ed the most s(e)tical )hysical and astronomical analysis, might e en !e true. .ou couldn4t !e sure, of course. There were !ound to !e )ossi!ilities that you had missed, that )eo)le cle erer than you would one day figure out. *alerian would em)hasi:e how we are tra))ed !y our time and our culture and our !iology, how limited we are, !y definition, in imagining fundamentally different creatures or ci ili:ations. And se)arately e ol ed on ery different creatures or ci ili:ations. And se)arately e ol ed on ery different worlds, they would ha e to !e ery different from us. $t was )ossi!le that !eings much more ad anced than we might ha e unimagina!le technologies--this was, in fact, almost guaranteed--and new laws of )hysics. $t was ho)elessly narrow-minded, he would say as they wal(ed )ast a succession of stucco arches as in a >e Chirico )ainting, to imagine that all significant laws of )hysics had !een disco ered at the moment our generation !egan contem)lating the )ro!lem. There would !e a twenty-firstcentury )hysics and twenty-second-century )hysics, and e en a Fourth-Millennium )hysics. 6e might !e laugha!ly far off in guessing how a ery different technical ci ili:ation would communicate. 7ut then, he always reassured himself, the extraterrestrials would ha e to (now how !ac(ward we were. $f we were any more ad anced, they would (now a!out us already. %ere we were, Aust !eginning to stand u) on our two feet, disco ering fire last 6ednesday, and only yesterday stum!ling on Newtonian dynamics, Maxwell4s eBuations, radio telesco)es, and hints of Su)erunification of the laws of )hysics. *alerian was sure they wouldn4t ma(e it hard for us. They would try to ma(e it easy, !ecause if they wanted to communicate with dummies they would ha e to ha e a fighting chance if a message e er came. %is lac( of !rilliance was in fact his strength. %e (new, he was confident, what dummies (new. As a to)ic for her doctoral thesis, &llie chose, with the concurrence of the faculty, the de elo)ment of an im)ro ement in the sensiti e recei ers em)loyed on radio telesco)es. $t made use of her talents in electronics, freed her from the mainly theoretical >rumlin, and )ermitted her to continue her discussions with *alerian--!ut without ta(ing the )rofessionally dangerous ste) of wor(ing with him on extraterrestrial intelligence. $t was too s)eculati e a su!Aect for a doctoral dissertation. %er ste)father had ta(en to denouncing her arious interests as unrealistically am!itious or occasionally as deadeningly tri ial. 6hen he heard of her thesis to)ic through the gra)e ine /!y now, she was not tal(ing to him at all2, he dismissed it as )edestrian. She was wor(ing on the ru!y maser. A ru!y is made mainly of alumina, which is almost )erfectly trans)arent. The red color deri es from a small chromium im)urity distri!uted through the alumina crystal. 6hen a strong magnetic field is im)ressed on the ru!y, the chromium atoms increase their energy or, as )hysicists li(e to say, are raised to an excited state. She lo ed the image of all the little chromium atoms called to fe erish acti ity in each am)lifier, fren:ied in a good )ractical cause--am)lifying a wea( radio signal. The stronger the magnetic field, the more excited the chromium atoms !ecame. Thus the maser could !e turned so that it was )articularly sensiti e to a selected radio freBuency. She found a way to ma(e ru!ies with lanthanide im)urities in addition to the chromium atoms, so a maser could !e tuned to a narrower freBuency range and could detect a much wea(er signal than )re ious masers. %er detector had to !e immersed in liBuid helium. She then installed her new instrument on one of Cal Tech4s radio telesco)es in Owens *alley and detected, at entirely

new freBuencies, what astronomers call the three-degree !lac(-!ody !ac(ground radiation-the remnant in the radio s)ectrum of the immense ex)losion that !egan this uni erse, the 7ig 7ang. 93et4s see if $4 e got this right,9 she would say to herself. 9$4 e ta(en an inert gas that4s in the air, made it into a liBuid, )ut some im)urities into a ru!y, attached a magnet, and detected the fires of creation.9 She would then sha(e her head in ama:ement. To anyone ignorant of the underlying )hysics, it might seem the most arrogant and )retentious necromancy. %ow would you ex)lain this to the !est scientists of thousand years ago, who (new a!out air and ru!ies and lodestones, !ut not a!out liBuid helium, stimulated emission, and su)erconducting flux )um)s5 $n fact, she reminded herself, they did not ha e e en the foggiest notion a!out the radio s)ectrum. Or e en the idea of a s)ectrum--exce)t aguely, from contem)lating the rain!ow. They did not (now that light was wa es. %ow could we ho)e to understand the science of a ci ili:ation a thousand years ahead of us5 $t was necessary to ma(e ru!ies in large !atches, !ecause only a few would ha e the reBuisite )ro)erties. None were Buite of gemstone Buality, and most were tiny. 7ut she too( to wearing a few of the larger remnants. They matched her dar( coloring well. & en if it was carefully cut, you could recogni:e some anomaly in the stone set in a ring or a !rooch< the odd way, for exam)le, that it caught the light at certain angles from an a!ru)t internal reflection, or a )each-colored !lemish inside the ru!y red. She would ex)lain to nonscientist friends that she li(ed ru!ies !ut couldn4t afford them. $t was a little li(e the scientist who first disco ered the !iochemical )athway of green )lant )hotosynthesis, and who fore er after wore )ine needles or a s)rig of )arsley in his la)el. Colleagues, their res)ect for her growing, considered it a minor idiosyncrasy. = = = The great radio telesco)es of the world are constructed in remote locations for the same reason "aul 'auguin sailed to Tahiti< For them to wor( well, they must !e far from ci ili:ation. As ci ilian and military radio traffic has increased, radio telesco)es had to hide-seBuestered in an o!scure alley in "uerto #ico, say, or exiled to a ast scru! desert in New Mexico or 8a:a(hstan. As radio interference continues to grow, it ma(es increasing sense to !uild the telesco)es off the &arth altogether. The scientists who wor( at these isolated o!ser atories tend to !e dogged and determined. S)ouses a!andon them, children lea e home at the first o))ortunity, !ut the astronomers stic( it out. #arely do they thin( of themsel es as dreamers. The )ermanent scientific staff in remote o!ser atories tend to !e the )ractical ones, the ex)erimentalists, the ex)erts who (now a great deal a!out antenna design and data analysis, and much less a!out Buasars or )ulsars. 'enerally s)ea(ing, they had not longed for the stars in childhoodC they had !een too !usy re)airing the car!uretor in the family car. After recei ing her doctorate, &llie acce)ted an a))ointment as research associate at the Areci!o O!ser atory, a great !owl -H, meters across, fixed to the floor of a (arst alley in the foothills of northwestern "uerto #ico. 6ith the largest radio telesco)e on the )lanet, she was eager to em)loy her maser detector to loo( at as many different astronomical o!Aects as she could--near!y )lanets and stars, the center of the 'alaxy, )ulsars and Buasars. As a fulltime mem!er of the O!ser atory staff, she would !e assigned a significant amount of o!ser ing time. Access to the great radio telesco)es is (eenly com)etiti e, there !eing many more worthwhile research )roAects than can )ossi!ly !e accommodated. So reser ed telesco)e time for the resident staff is )erBuisite !eyond )rice. For many of the astronomers, it was the only reason they would consent to li e in such godforsa(en )laces.

She also ho)ed to examine a few near!y stars for )ossi!le signals of intelligent origin. 6ith her detector system it would !e )ossi!le to here the radio lea(age from a )lanet li(e &arth e en if it was a few light-years away. And an ad anced society, intending to communicate with us, would dou!tless !e ca)a!le of much greater )ower transmissions than we were. $f Areci!o, used as a radar telesco)e, was ca)a!le of transmitting one megawatt of )ower to a s)ecific locale in s)ace, then a ci ili:ation only a little !it in ad ance of ours might, she thought, !e ca)a!le of transmitting a hundred megawatts or more. $f they were intentionally transmitting to the &arth with a telesco)e as large as Areci!o !ut with a hundredmegawatt transmitter, Areci!o should !e a!le to detect them irtually anywhere in the Mil(y 6ay 'alaxy. 6hen she thought carefully a!out it, she was sur)rised that, in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, what could !e done was so far ahead of what had !een done. The resources that had !een de oted to this Buestion were trifling, she thought. She was hard )ressed to name a more im)ortant scientific )ro!lem. The Areci!o facility was (nown to the locals as 9&l #adar.9 $ts function was generally o!scure, !ut it )ro ided more than a hundred !adly needed Ao!s. The indigenous young women were seBuestered from the male astronomers, some of whom could !e iewed at almost any time of day or night, full of ner ous energy, Aogging along the circumferential trac( that surrounded the dish. As a result, the attentions directed at &llie u)on her arri al, while not entirely unwelcome, soon !ecame a distraction from her research. The )hysical !eauty of the )lace was considera!le. At twilight, she would loo( out the control windows and see storm clouds ho ering o er the other li) of the alley, Aust !eyond one of the three immense )ylons from which the feed horns and her newly installed maser system were sus)ended. At the to) of each )ylon, a red light would flash to warn off any air)lanes that had im)ro!a!ly strayed u)on this remote ista. At F A.M., she would ste) outside for a !reath of air and )u::le to understand a massed chorus of thousands of local land frogs, called 9coBuis9 in imitations of their )lainti e cry. Some astronomers li ed near the O!ser atory, !ut the isolation, com)ounded !y ignorance of S)anish and inex)erience with any other culture, tended to dri e them and their wi es toward loneliness and anomie. Some had decided to li e at #amey Air Force 7ase, which !oasted the only &nglish-language school in the icinity. 7ut the ninety-minute dri e also heightened their sense of isolation. #e)eated threats !y "uerto #ican se)aratists, con inced erroneously that the O!ser atory )layed some significant military function, increased the sense of su!dued hysteria, of circumstances !arely under control. Many months later, *alerian came to isit. Nominally he was there to gi e a lecture, !ut she (new that )art of his )ur)ose was to chec( u) on how she was doing and )ro ide some sem!lance of )sychological su))ort. %er research had gone ery well. She had disco ered what seemed to !e a new interstellar molecular cloud com)lex, and had o!tained some ery fine high time-resolution data on the )ulsar at the center of the Cra! Ne!ula. She had e en com)leted the most sensiti e search yet )erformed for signals from a few do:en near!y stars, !ut with no )ositi e results. There had !een one or two sus)icious regularities. She o!ser ed the stars in Buestion again and could find nothing out of the ordinary. 3oo( at enough stars, and sooner or later terrestrial interference or the concatenation of random noise will )roduce a )attern that for a moment ma(es your heart )al)itate. .ou calm down and chec( it out. $f it doesn4t re)eat itself, you consider it s)urious. This disci)line was essential if she was to )reser e some emotional eBuili!rium in the face of what she was see(ing. She was determined to !e as tough-minded as )ossi!le, without a!andoning the sense of wonder that was dri ing her in the first )lace.

From her scant su))ly in the community refrigerator, she had made a rudimentary )icnic lunch, and *alerian sat with her along the ery )eri)hery of the !owl-sha)ed dish. 6or(men re)airing or re)lacing the )anels could !e seen in the distance, wal(ing on s)ecial snowshoes so they did not tear the aluminum sheets and )lunge through the ground !elow. *alerian was delighted with her )rogress. They exchanged !its of gossi) and current scientific tid!its. The con ersation turned to S&T$, as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence was !eginning to !e called. 9%a e you e er though a!out doing it full time, &llie59 he as(ed. 9$ ha en4t thought a!out it much. 7ut it4s not really )ossi!le, is it5 There4s no maAor facility de oted to S&T$ full-time anywhere in the world, as far as $ (now.9 9No, !ut there might !e. There4s a chance that do:ens of additional dishes might !e added to the *ery 3arge Array, and ma(e it into a dedicated S&T$ o!ser atory. They4d do some of the usual (ind of radio astronomy also, of course. $t would !e a su)er! interferometer. $t4s only a )ossi!ility, it4s ex)ensi e, it needs real )olitical will, and it4s years away at !est. @ust something to thin( a!out.9 9"eter, $4 e Aust examined some forty-odd near!y stars of roughly solar s)ectral ty)e. $4 e loo(ed in the twenty-one centimeter hydrogen line, which e ery!ody says is the o! ious !eacon freBuencyM!ecause hydrogen is the most a!undant atom in the uni erse, and so on. And $4 e done it with the highest sensiti ity e er tried. There4s not a hint of a signal. May!e there4s no one out there. May!e the whole !usiness is a waste of time.9 93i(e life on *enus5 That4s Aust disillusionment tal(ing. *enus is a hellhole of a worldC it4s Aust one )lanet. 7ut there4s hundreds of !illions of stars in the 'alaxy. .ou4 e loo(ed at only a handful. 6ouldn4t you say it4s a little )remature to gi e u)5 .ou4 e done on-!illionth of the )ro!lem. "ro!a!ly much less than that, if you consider other freBuencies.9 9$ (now, $ (now. 7ut don4t you ha e the sense that if they4re anywhere, they4re e erywhere5 $f really ad anced guys li e a thousand light-years away, shouldn4t they ha e an out)ost in our !ac(yard5 .ou could do the S&T$ thing fore er, you (now, and ne er con ince yourself that you4d com)leted the search.9 9Oh, you4re !eginning to sound li(e >a e >rumlin. $f we can4t find them in his lifetime, he4s not interested. 6e4re Aust !eginning S&T$. .ou (now how many )ossi!ilities there are. This is the time to lea e e ery o)tion o)en. This is the time to !e o)timistic. $f we li ed in any )re ious time in human history, we could wonder a!out this all our li es, and we couldn4t do a thing to find the answer. 7ut this time is uniBue. This is the first time when any!ody4s !een a!le to loo( for extraterrestrial intelligence. .ou4 e made the detector to loo( for ci ili:ations on the )lanets of millions of other stars. No!ody4s guaranteeing success. 7ut can you thin( of a more im)ortant Buestion5 $magine them out there sending us signals, and no!ody on &arth is listening. That would !e a Ao(e, a tra esty. 6ouldn4t you !e ashamed of your ci ili:ation if we were a!le to listen and didn4t ha e the gum)tion to do it59 = = = Two hundred fifty-six images of the left world swam !y on the left. Two hundred fifty-six images of the right world glided !y on the right. %e integrated all ,+D images into a wra)around iew of his surroundings. %e was dee) in a forest of great wa ing !lades, some green, some etiolated, almost all larger than me. 7ut he had no difficulty clam!ering u) and o er, occasionally !alancing )recariously on a !ent !lade, falling to the gentle cushion of hori:ontal !lades !elow, and then continuing unerringly on his Aourney. %e could tell he was centered on the trail. $t was tantali:ingly fresh. %e would thin( of nothing, if that4s where the trail led, of scaling an o!stacle a hundred or a thousand times as tall as he was. %e needed no

)ylons or ro)esC he was already eBui))ed. The ground immediately !efore him was redolent with a mar(er odor left recently, it must !e, !y another scout of his clan. $t would lead to foodC it almost always did. The food would s)ontaneously a))ear. Scouts would find it and mar( the trail. %e and his fellows would !ring it !ac(. Sometimes the food was a creature rather li(e himselfC other times it was only an amor)hous or crystalline lum). Occasionally it was so large that many of his clan would !e reBuired, wor(ing together, hea ing and sho ing it o er the folded !lades, to carry it home. %e smac(ed his mandi!les in antici)ation. = = = 96hat worries me the most,9 she continued, 9is the o))osite, the )ossi!ility that they4re not trying. They could communicate with us, all right, !ut they4re not doing it !ecause they don4t see any )oint to it. $t4s li(e...9--she glanced down at the edge of the ta!lecloth they had s)read o er the grass--9li(e the ants. They occu)y the same landsca)e that we do. They ha e )lenty to do, things to occu)y themsel es. On some le el they4re ery well aware of their en ironment. 7ut we don4t try to communicate with them. So $ don4t thin( they ha e the foggiest notion that we exist.9 A large ant, more enter)rising than his fellows, had entured onto the ta!lecloth and was !ris(ly marching along the diagonal of one of the red and white sBuares. Su))ressing a small twinge of re ulsion, she gingerly flic(ed it !ac( onto the grass--where it !elonged. CHAPTER 3 White Noise %eard melodies are sweet, !ut those unheard Are sweeter. -@O%N 8&ATS 9Ode on a 'recian Krn9 /+1DH2 The cruelest lies are often told in silence. -#O7&#T 3OK$S ST&*&NSON *irgini!us "uerisBue /+11+2 The )ulses had !een Aourneying for years through the great dar( !etween the stars. Occasionally, they would interce)t an irregular cloud of gas and dust, and a little of the energy would !e a!sor!ed or scattered. The remainder continued in the original direction. Ahead of them was a faint yellow glow, slowly increasing in !rightness among the other un arying lights. Now, although to human eyes it would still !e a )oint, it was !y far the !rightest o!Aect in the !lac( s(y. The )ulses were encountering a horde of giant snow!alls. &ntering the Argus administration !uilding was a willowy woman in her late thirties. %er eyes, large and set far a)art, ser ed to soften the angular !one structure of her face. %er long dar( hair was loosely gathered !y a tortoise !arrette at the na)e of her nec(. Casually dressed in a (nit T-shirt and (ha(i s(irt, she strolled along a hallway on the first floor and entered a door mar(ed 9&. Arroway, >irector.9 As she remo ed her thum! from the finger)rint deadloc(, and o!ser er might ha e noticed a ring on her right hand with an oddly mil(y red stone un)rofessionally set in it. Turning on a des( lam), she rummaged through a drawer, finally )roducing a )air of ear)hones. 7riefly illuminated on the wall !eside her des( was a Buotation from the "ara!les of Fran: 8af(a<

??Now the Sirens ha e a still more fatal wea)on than their song, namely their silence... Someone might )ossi!ly ha e esca)ed from their singingC !ut from their silence, certainly ne er.?? &xtinguishing the light with a wa e of her hand, she made for the door in the semidar(ness. $n the control room she Buic(ly reassured herself that all was in order. Through the window she could see a few of the +-+ radio telesco)es that stretched for tens of (ilometers across the New Mexico scru! desert li(e some strange s)ecies of mechanical flower straining toward the s(y. $t was early afternoon and she had !een u) late the night !efore. #adio astronomy can !e )erformed during daylight, !ecause the air does not scatter radio wa es from the Sun as it does ordinary isi!le light. To a radio telesco)e )ointing anywhere !ut ery close to the Sun, the s(y is )itch !lac(. &xce)t for the radio sources. 7eyond the &arth4s atmos)here, on the other side of the s(y, is a uni erse teeming with radio emission. 7y studying radio wa es you can learn a!out )lanets and stars and galaxies, a!out the com)osition of great clouds of organic molecules that drift !etween the stars, a!out the origin and e olution and fate of the uni erse. 7ut all these radio emissions are natural-caused !y )hysical )rocesses, electrons s)iraling in the galactic magnetic field, or interstellar molecules colliding with one another, or the remote echoes of the 7ig 7ang red-shifted from gamma rays at the origin of the uni erse to the tame and chill radio wa es that fill all of s)ace in our e)och. $n the scant few decades in which humans ha e )ursued radio astronomy, there has ne er !een a real signal from the de)ths of s)ace, something manufactured, something artificial, something contri ed !y an alien mind. There ha e !een false alarms. The regular time ariation of the radio emission from Buasars and, es)ecially, )ulsars had at first !een thought, tentati ely, tremulously, to !e a (ind of announcement signal from someone else, or )erha)s a radio na igation !eacon for exotic shi) that )lied the s)aces !etween the stars. 7ut they had turned out to !e something else--eBually exotic, )erha)s, as a signal from !eings in the night s(y. Juasars seemed to !e stu)endous sources of energy, )erha)s connected with massi e !lac( holes at the centers of galaxies, many of them o!ser ed more than halfway !ac( in time to the origin of the uni erse. "ulsars are ra)idly s)inning atomic nuclei the si:e of a city. And there had !een other rich and mysterious messages that had turned out to !e intelligent after a fashion !ut not ery extraterrestrial. The s(ies were now )e))ered with secret military radar systems and radio communication satellites that were !eyond the entreaty of a few ci ilian radio astronomers. Sometimes they were real outlaws, ignoring international telecommunications agreements. There were no recourses and no )enalties. Occasionally, all nations denied res)onsi!ility. 7ut there had ne er !een a clear-cut alien signal. And yet the origin of life now seemed to !e so easy--and there were so many )lanetary systems, somany worlds and so many !illions of years a aila!le for !iological e olution--that it was hard to !elie e the 'alaxy was not teeming with life and intelligence. "roAect Argus was the largest facility in the world dedicated to the radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence. #adio wa es tra eled with the s)eed of light, faster than which nothing, it seemed, could go. They were easy to generate and easy to detect. & en ery !ac(ward technological ci ili:ations, li(e that on &arth, would stum!le on radio early in their ex)loration of the )hysical world. & en with the rudimentary radio technology a aila!le-now, only a few decades after the in ention of the radio telesco)e--it was nearly )ossi!le to

communicate with an identical ci ili:ation at the center of the 'alaxy. 7ut there were so many )laces in the s(y to examine, and so many freBuencies on which an alien ci ili:ation might !e !roadcasting, that it reBuired a systematic and )atent o!ser ing )rogram. Argus had !een in full o)eration for more than four years. There had !een glitches, !ogeys, intimations, false alarms. 7ut no message. = = = 9Afternoon, >r. Arroway.9 The lone engineer smiled )leasantly at her, and she nodded !ac(. All +-+ telesco)es of "roAect Argus were controlled !y com)uters. The system slowly scanned the s(y on its own, chec(ing that there were no mechanical or electronic !rea(downs, com)aring the data from different elements of the array of telesco)es. She glanced at the !illion-channel analy:er, a !an( of electronics co ering a whole wall, and at the isual dis)lay of the s)ectrometer. There was not really ery much for the astronomers and technicians to do as the telesco)e array o er the years slowly scanned the s(y. $f it detected something of interest, it would automatically sound an alarm, altering )roAect scientists in their !eds at night if need !e. Then Arroway would go into high gear to determine if this one was an instrumental failure or some American or So iet s)ace !ogey. Together with the engineering staff, she would de ise ways of im)ro ing the sensiti ity of the eBui)ment. 6as there any )attern, any regularity in the emission5 She would delegate some of the radio telesco)es to examine exotic astronomical o!Aects that had !een recently detected !y other o!ser atories. She would hel) staff mem!ers and isitors with )roAects unrelated to S&T$. She would fly to 6ashington to (ee) interest high at the funding agency, the National Science Foundation. She would gi e a few )u!lic tal(s on "roAect ArgusMat the #otary Clu! in Socorro or the Kni ersity of New Mexico in Al!uBuerBue--and occasionally greet an enter)rising re)orter who would arri e, sometimes unannounced, in remotest New Mexico. &llie had to ta(e care that the tedium did not engulf her. %er co-wor(ers were )leasant enough, !ut--e en a)art from the im)ro)eriety of a close )ersonal relationshi) with a nominal su!ordinate--she did not find herself tem)ted into any real intimacies. There had !een a few !rief, torrid !ut fundamentally casual relationshi)s with local men unconnected with the Argus )roAect. $n this area of her life, too, a (ind of ennui, a lassitude, had settled o er her. She sat down !efore one of the consoles and )lugged in the ear)hones. $t was futile, she (new, a conceit, to thin( that she, listening on one or two channels, would detect a )attern when the ast com)uter system monitoring a !illion channels had not. 7ut it ga e hera modest illusion of utility. She leaned !ac(, eyes half closed, an almost dreamy ex)ression en elo)ing the contours of her face. She4s really Buite lo ely, the technician )ermitted himself to thin(. She heard, as always, a (ind of static, a continuous echoing random noise. Once, when listening to a )art of the s(y that included the star AC I ;0 -111 in Cassio)eia, she felt she heard a (ind of singing, fading tantali:ingly in and out, lying Aust !eyond her a!ility to con ince herself that there was something really there. This was the star toward which the *oyager + s)acecraft, now in the icinity of the o!it of Ne)tune, would ultimately tra el. The s)acecraft carried a golden )honogra)h record on which were im)ressed greetings, )ictures, and songs from &arth. Could they !e sending us their music at the s)eed of light, while we are sending ours to them only one ten-thousandth as fast5 At other times, li(e now, when the static was clearly )atternless, she would remind herself of Shannon4s famous

dictum in information theory, that the most efficiently coded message was indistinguisha!le from noise, unless you had the (ey to the encoding !eforehand. #a)idly she )ressed a few (eys on the console !efore her and )layed two of the narrow-!and freBuencies against each other, on in each ear)hone. Nothing. She listened to the two )lanes of )olari:ation of the radio wa es, and then to the contrast !etween linear and circular )olari:ation. There were a !illion channels to choose from. .ou could s)end your life trying to outguess the com)uter, listening with )athetically limited human ears and !rains, see(ing a )attern. %umans are good, she (new, at discerning su!tle )atterns that are really there, !ut eBually so at imagining them when they are altogether a!sent. There would !e some seBuence of )ulses, some configuration of the static, that would for an instant gi e a synco)ated !eat or a !rief melody. She switched to a )air of radio telesco)es that were listening to a (nown galactic radio source. She heard a glissando down the radio freBuencies, a 9whistler9 due to the scattering of radio wa es !y electrons in the tenuous interstellar gas !etween the radio source and the &arth. The more )ronounced the glissando, the more electrons were in the way, and the further the source was from the &arth. She had done this so often that she was a!le, Aust from hearing a radio whistler for the first time, to ma(e an accurate Audgment of its distance. This one, she estimated, was a!out a thousand light-years away--far !eyond the local neigh!orhood of stars, !ut still well within the great Mil(y 6ay 'alaxy. &llie returned to the s(y-sur ey mode of "roAect Argus. Again no )attern. $t was li(e a musician listening to the rum!le of a distant thunderstorm. The occasional small )atches of )attern would )ursue herand intrude themsel es into her memory with such insistence that sometimes she was forced to go !ac( to the ta)es of a )articular o!ser ing run to see if there was something her mind had caught and the com)uters had missed. All her life, dreams had !een her friends. %er dreams were unusually detailed, wellstructured, colorful. She was a!le to )eer closely at her father4s face, say, or the !ac( of an old radio set, and the dream would o!lige with full isual details. She had always !een a!le to recall her dreams, down to the fine details--exce)t for the times when she had !een under extreme )ressure, ad !efore her "h.>. oral exam, or when she and @esse were !rea(ing u). 7ut now she was ha ing difficulty recalling the images in her dreams. And, disconcertingly, she !egan to dream sounds--as )eo)le do who are !lind from !irth. $n the early morning hours her unconscious mind would generate some theme or ditty she had ne er heard !efore. She would wa(e u), gi e an audi!le command to the light on her night ta!le, )ic( u) the )en she had )ut there for the )ur)ose, draw a staff, and commit the music to )a)er. Sometimes after a long day she would )lay it on her recorder and wonder if she had heard it in O)hiuchus or Ca)ricorn. She was, she would admit to herself ruefully, !eing haunted !y the electrons and the mo ing holes that inha!it recei ers and am)lifiers, and !y the charged )articles and magnetic fields of the cold thin gas !etween the flic(ering distant stars. $t was a re)eated single note, high-)itched and raucous around the edges. $t too( her a moment to recogni:e it. Then she was sure she hadn4t heard it $n thirty-fi e years. $t was the metal )ulley on the clothesline that would com)lain each time her mother ga e a tug and )ut out another freshly washed smoc( to dry in the Sun. As a little girl, she had lo ed the army of marching clothes)insC and when no one was a!out, would !ury her face in the newly dried sheets. The smell, at once sweet and )ungent, enchanted her. Could that !e a whiff of it now5 She could remem!er herself laughing, toddling away from the sheets, when her mother in one

graceful motion swoo)ed her u)--to the s(y it seemed--and carried her away in the croo( of her arm, as if she herself were Aust a little !undle of clothes to !e neatly arranged in the chest of drawers in her )arents4 !edroom. = = = 9>r. Arroway5 >r. Arroway59 The technician loo(ed down on her fluttering eyelids and shallow !reathing. She !lin(ed twice, remo ed the head)hones, and ga e him a small a)ologetic smile. Sometimes her colleagues had to tal( ery loudly if they wished to !e heard a!o e the am)lified cosmic radio noise. She would in turn com)ensate for the olume of the noise--she was loath to remo e the ear)hones for !rief con ersations--!y shouting !ac(. 6hen she was sufficiently )reoccu)ied, a casual or e en con i ial exchange of )leasantries would seem to an inex)erienced o!ser er li(e a fragment of a fierce and un)ro o(ed argument unex)ectedly generated amidst the Buiet of the ast radio facility. 7ut now she only said, 9Sorry. $ must ha e drifted off.9 9$t4s >r. >rumlin on the )hone. %e4s in @ac(4s office and says he has an a))ointment with you.9 9%oly Toledo, $ forgot.9 As the years had )assed, >rumlin4s !rilliance had remained undiminished, !ut there were a num!er of additional )ersonal idiosyncrasies that had not !een in e idence when she had ser ed !riefly as his graduate student at Cal Tech. For exam)le, he had the disconcerting ha!it now of chec(ing, when he though himself uno!ser ed, whether his fly was o)en. %e had o er the years !ecome increasingly con inced that extraterrestrials did not exist, or at least that they were too rare, too distant to !e detected. %e had come to Argus to gi e the wee(ly scientific colloBuium. 7ut, she found, he had come for another )ur)ose as well. %e had written a letter to the National Science Foundation urging that Argus terminate its search for extraterrestrial intelligence and de ote itself full-time to more con entional radio astronomy. %e )roduced it from an inside )oc(et and insisted that she read it. 97ut we4 e only !een at it four and a half years. 6e4 e loo(ed at less than a third of the northern s(y. This is the first sur ey that can do the entire radio noise minimum at o)timum !and)asses. 6hy would you want to sto) now59 9No, &llie, this is endless. After a do:en years you4ll find no sign of anything. .ou4ll argue that another Argus facility has to !e !uilt at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in Australia or Argentina to o!ser e the southern s(y. And when that fails, you4ll tal( a!out !uilding some )ara!oloid with a free-flying feed in &arth or!it so you can get millimeter wa es. .ou4ll always !e a!le to thin( of some (ind of o!ser ation that hasn4t !een done. .ou4ll always in ent some ex)lanation a!out why the extraterrestrials li(e to !roadcast where we ha en4t loo(ed.9 9Oh, >a e, we4 e !een through this a hundred times. $f we fail, we learn something of the rarity of intelligent life--or at least intelligent life that thin(s li(e we do and wants to communicate with !ac(ward ci ili:ations li(e us. And if we succeed, we hit the cosmic Aac()ot. There4s no greater disco ery you can imagine.9 9There are first-rate )roAects that aren4t finding telesco)e time. There4s wor( on Buasar e olution, !inary )ulsars, the chromos)heres of near!y stars, e en those cra:y interstellar )roteins. These )roAects are waiting in line !ecause this facility--!y fat the !est )hased array in the world--is !eing used almost entirely for S&T$.9

9Se enty-fi e )ercent for S&T$, >a e, twenty-fi e )ercent for routine radio astronomy.9 9>on4t call it routine. 6e4 e got the o))ortunity to loo( !ac( to the time that the galaxies were !eing formed, or may!e e en earlier than that. 6e can examine the cores of giant molecular clouds and the !lac( holes at the centers of galaxies. There4s a re olution in astronomy a!out to ha))en, and you4re standing in the way.9 9>a e, try not to )ersonali:e this. Argus would ne er ha e !een !uilt if there wasn4t )u!lic su))ort for S&T$. The idea for Argus isn4t mine. .ou (now they )ic(ed me as director when the last forty dishes were still under construction. The NSF is entirely !ehind--9 9Not entirely, and not if $ ha e anything to say a!out it. This is grandstanding. This is )andering to KFO (oo(s and comic stri)s and wea(-minded adolescents.9 7y now >rumlin was fairly shouting, and &llie felt an irresisti!le tem)tation to tune him out. 7ecause of the nature of her wor( an her com)arati e eminence, she was constantly thrown into situations where she was the only woman )resent, exce)t for those ser ing coffee or ma(ing a stenoty)ic transcri)t. >es)ite what seemed li(e a lifetime of effort on her )art, there was still a host of male scientists who only tal(ed to each other, insisted on interru)ting her, and ignored, when they could, what she had to say. Occasionally there were those li(e >rumlin who showed a )ositi e anti)athy. 7ut at least he was treating her as he did many men. %e was e enhanded in his out!ursts, isiting them eBually on scientists of !oth sexes. There were a rare few of her male colleagues who did not exhi!it aw(ward )ersonality changes in her )resence. She ought to s)end more time with them, she thought. "eo)le li(e 8enneth der %eer, the molecular !iologist from the Sal( $nstitute who had recently !een a))ointed "residential Science Ad iser. And "eter *alerian, of course. >rumlin4s im)atience with Argus, she (new, was shared !y many astronomers. After the first two years a (ind of melancholy had )er aded the facility. There were )assionate de!ates in the commissary or during the long and undemanding watches a!out the intentions of the )utati e extraterrestrials. 6e could not guess how different from us they might !e. $t was hard enough to guess the intentions of our elected re)resentati es in 6ashington. 6hat would the intentions !e of fundamentally different (inds of !eings on )hysically different worlds hundreds or thousands of light-years away5 Some !elie ed that the signal would not !e transmitted in the radio s)ectrum at all !ut in the infrared or the isi!le or somewhere among the gamma rays. Or )erha)s the extraterrestrials were signaling a idly !ut with a technology we would not in ent for a thousand years. Astronomers at other institutions were ma(ing extraordinary disco eries among the stars and galaxies, )ic(ing out hose o!Aects which, !y whate er mechanism, generated intense radio wa es. Other radio astronomers )u!lished scientific )a)ers, attended meetings, were u)lifted !y a sense of )rogress and )ur)ose. The Argus astronomers tended not to )u!lish and were usually ignored when the call went out for in ited )a)ers at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society or the triennial sym)osia and )lenary sessions of the $nternational Astronomical Knion. So in consultation with the National Science Foundation, the leadershi) at Argus had reser ed D, )ercent of the o!ser ing time for )roAects unconnected with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Some im)ortant disco eries had !een made--on the extragalactic o!Aects that seemed, )aradoxically, to !e mo ing faster than lightC on the surface tem)erature of Ne)tune4s !ig moon, TritonC and on the dar( matter in the outer reaches of near!y galaxies where no stars could !e seen. Morale !egan to im)ro e. The Argus staff felt they were ma(ing a contri!ution at the cutting edge of astronomical disco ery. The time to com)lete a full search of the s(y had !een lengthened, it was true. 7ut

now their )rofessional careers had some safety net. They might not succeed in finding signs of other intelligent !eings, !ut they might )luc( other secrets from the treasury of nature. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence--e erywhere a!!re iated S&T$, exce)t !y those who tal(ed somewhat more o)timistically a!out communication with extraterrestrial intelligence /C&T$2Mwas essentially an o!ser ing routine, the dull sta)le for which most of the facility had !een !uilt. 7ut a Buarter of the time you could !e assured of using the most )owerful array of radio telesco)es on &arth for other )roAects. .ou had only to get through the !oring )art. A small amount of time had also !een reser ed for astronomers from other institutions. 6hile the morale had im)ro ed noticea!ly, there were many who agreed with >rumlinC they glanced longingly at the technological miracle that Argus4 +-+ radio telesco)es re)resented and imagined using them for their own, dou!tless meritorious, )rograms. She was alternately conciliatory and argumentati e with >a e, !ut none of it did any good. %e was not in an amia!le mood. >rumlin4s colloBuium was in )art an attem)t to demonstrate that there were no &xtraterrestrials anywhere. $f we had accom)lished so much in only a few thousand years of high technology, what must a truly ad anced s)ecies, he as(ed, !e ca)a!le of5 They should !e a!le to mo e stars a!out, to reconfigure galaxies. And yet, in all of astronomy there was no sign of a )henomenon that could not !e understood !y natural )rocesses, for which an a))eal to extraterrestrial intelligence had to !e made. 6hy hadn4t Argus detected a radio signal !y now5 >id they imagine Aust one radio transmitter in all of the s(y5 >id they reali:e how many !illions of stars they had examined already5 The ex)eriment was a worthy one, !ut now it was o er. They didn4t ha e to examine the rest of the s(y. The answer was in. Neither in dee)est s)ace not near the &arth was there any sign of extraterrestrials. They did not exist. $n the Buestion )eriod, one of the Argus astronomers as(ed a!out the Loo %y)othesis, the contention that the extraterrestrials were out there all right !ut chose not to ma(e their )resence (nown, in order to conceal from humans the fact that there were other intelligent !eings in the cosmos--in the same sense that a s)ecialist in )rimate !eha ior might wish to o!ser e a troo) of chim)an:ees in the !ush !ut not interfere with their acti ities. $n re)ly, >rumlin as(ed a different Buestion< $s it li(ely that with a million ci ili:ations in the 'alaxy-the sort of num!er he said was 9!andied a!out9 at Argus--there would not !e a single )oacher5 %ow does it come a!out that e ery ci ili:ation in the 'alaxy a!ides !y an ethic of noninterference5 $s it )ro!a!le that not one of them would !e )o(ing around on the &arth5 97ut on &arth,9 &llie re)lied, 9)oachers and game wardens ha e roughly eBual le els of technology. $f the game warden is a maAor ste) ahead--with radar and helico)ters, say--then the )oachers are out of !usiness.9 The remar( was greeted warmly !y some of the Argus staff, !ut >rumlin only said, 9.ou4re reaching, &llie. .ou4re reaching.9 = = = To clear her head it was her )ractice to go for long solo dri es in her one extra agance, a carefully maintained +0,1 Thunder!ird with remo a!le hardto) and little glass )ortholes flan(ing the rear seat. Often she would lea e the to) at home and s)eed through the scru! desert at night, with the windows down and her dar( hair streaming !ehind her. O er the years, it seemed, she had gotten to (now e ery small im)o erished town, e ery

!utte and mesa, and e ery state highway )atrolman in southwestern New Mexico. After a night o!ser ing run, she would lo e to :oom )ast the Argus guard station /that was !efore the cyclone fencing went u)2, ra)idly changing gears, and dri e north. Around Santa Fe, the faintest glimmerings of dawn might !e seen a!o e the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. /6hy should a religion, she as(ed herself, name its )laces after the !lood and !ody, heart and )ancreas of its most re ered figure5 And why not the !rain, among other )rominent !ut uncommemorated organs52 This time she dro e southeast, toward the Sacramento Mountains. Could >a e !e right5 Could S&T$ and Argus !e a (ind of collecti e delusion of a few insufficiently hardnosed astronomers5 6as it true that no matter how many years went !y without the recei)t of a message, the )roAect would continue, always in enting a new strategy for the transmitting ci ili:ation, continually de ising no el and ex)ensi e instrumentation5 6hat would !e a con incing sign of failure5 6hen would she !e willing to gi e u) and turn to something safer, something more guaranteed of results5 The No!eyama O!ser atory in @a)an had Aust announced the disco ery of adenosine, a com)lex organic molecule, a !uilding !loc( of >NA, sitting out there in a dense molecular cloud. She could certainly !ust herself usefully in loo(ing for life-related molecules in s)ace, e en if she ga e u) searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. On the high mountain road, she glanced at the southern hori:on and caught a glim)se of the constellation Centaurus. $n that )attern of stars the ancient 'ree(s had seen a chimerical creature, half man, half horse, who had taught Leus wisdom. 7ut &llie could ne er ma(e out any )attern remotely li(e centaur. $t was Al)ha Centauri, the !rightest star in the constellation, that she delighted in. $t was the nearest star, only four and a Buarter light-years away. Actually, Al)ha Centauri was a tri)le system, two suns tightly or!iting one another, and a third, more remote, circling them !oth. From &arth, the three stars !lended together to form a solitary )oint of light. On )articularly clear nights, li(e this one, she could sometimes see it ho ering somewhere o er Mexico. Sometimes, when the air had !een laden with desert grit after se eral consecuti e days of sand storms, she would dri e u) into the mountains to gain a little altitude and atmos)heric trans)arency, get out of the car, and stare at the nearest star system. "lanets were )ossi!le there, although ery hard to detect. Some might !e closely or!iting any one of the tri)le suns. A more interesting or!it, with some fair celestial mechanical sta!ility, was a figure eight, which wra))ed itself around the two inner suns. 6hat would it !e li(e, she wondered, to li e on a world with three suns in the s(y5 "ro!a!ly e en hotter than New Mexico. = = = The two-lane !lac(to) highway, &llie noticed with a )leasant little tremor, was lined with ra!!its. She had seen them !efore, es)ecially when her dri es had ta(en her as far as 6est Texas. They were on all fours !y the shoulders of the roadC !ut as each would !e momentarily illuminated !y the Thunder!ird4s new Buart: headlights, it would stand on its hind legs, its forelim!s hanging lim)ly, transfixed. For miles there was an honor guard of desert coneys saluting her, so it seemed, as she roared through the night. They would loo( u), a thousand )in( noses twitching, two thousand !right eyes shining in the dar(, as this a))arition hurled toward them. May!e it4s a (ind of religious ex)erience, she thought. They seemed to !e mostly young ra!!its. May!e they had ne er seen automo!ile headlights. To thin( of it, it was )retty

ama:ing, the two intense !eams of light s)eeding along at +-H (ilometers an hour. >es)ite the thousands of ra!!its lining the road, there ne er seemed to !e e en one in the middle, near the lane mar(er, ne er a forlorn dead !ody, the ears stretched out along the )a ement. 6hy were they aligned along the )a ement at all5 May!e it had to do with the tem)erature of the as)halt, she thought. Or may!e they were only foraging in the scru! egetation near!y and curious a!out the oncoming !right lights. 7ut was it reasona!le that none of them e er too( a few short ho)s to isit his cousins across the road5 6hat did they imagine the highway was5 An alien )resence in their midst, its function unfathoma!le, !uilt !y creatures that most of them had ne er seen5 She dou!ted that any of them wondered a!out it all. The whine of her tires on the highway was a (ind of white noise, and she found that in oluntarily she was--here, too--listening for a )attern. She had ta(en to listening closely to many sources of white noise< the motor of the refrigerator starting u) in the middle of the nightC the water running for her !athC the washing machine when she would do her clothes in the little laundry room off her (itchenC the roar of the ocean during a !rief scu!a-di ing tri) to the island of Co:umel off .ucatan, which she had cut short !ecause of her im)atience to get !ac( to wor(. She would listen to these e eryday sources of random noise and try to determine whether there were fewer a))arent )atterns in them than in the interstellar static. She had !een to New .or( City the )re ious August for a meeting of K#S$ /the French a!!re iation for the $nternational Scientific #adio Knion2. The su!ways were dangerous, she had !een told, !ut the white noise was irresisti!le. $n the clac(a-clac(a of this underground railway she had thought she heard a clue, and resolutely s(i))ed half a day of meetings--tra eling from -Fth Street to Coney $sland, !ac( to midtown Manhattan, and then on a different line, out to remotest Jueens. She changed trains at a station in @amaica, and then returned a little flushed and !reathless--it was, after all, a hot day in August, she told herself--to the con ention hotel. Sometimes, when the su!way train was !an(ing around a stee) cur e, the interior !ul!s would go out and she could see a regular succession of lights, glowing in electric !lue, s)eeding !y as if she were in some im)ossi!le hy)er-relati istic interstellar s)acecraft, hurtling through a cluster of young !lue su)ergiant stars. Then, as the train entered a straight-away, the interior lights would come on again and she would !ecome aware once again of the acrid smell, the Aostling of near!y stra)hangers, the miniature tele ision sur eillance cameras /loc(ed in )rotecti e cages and su!seBuently s)ray-)ainted !lind2, the styli:ed multicolored ma) showing the com)lete underground trans)ortation system of the City of New .or(, and the high-freBuency screech of the !ra(es as they )ulled into the stations. This was a little eccentric, she (new. 7ut she had always had an acti e fantasy life. All right, so she was a little com)ulsi e a!out listening to noise. $t did no harm that she could see. No!ody seemed to notice much. Anyway, it was Ao!-related. $f she had !een so minded, she could )ro!a!ly ha e deducted the ex)ense of her tri) to Co:umel from her income tax !ecause of the sound of the !rea(ers. 6ell, may!e she was !ecoming o!sessi e. She reali:ed with a start that she had arri ed at the #oc(efeller Center station. As she Buic(ly ste))ed out through an accumulation of daily news)a)ers a!andoned on the floor of the su!way car, a headline of the News-"ost had caught her eye< 'K&##$33AS CA"TK#& @O7K#' #A>$O. $f we li(e them, they4re freedom fighters, she thought. $f we don4t li(e them, they4re terrorists. $n the unli(ely case we can4t ma(e u) our min(s, they4re tem)orarily only guerrillas. On an adAacent scra) of news)a)er was a large )hoto of a florid, confident man with the headline< %O6 T%& 6O#3> 6$33 &N>.

&NC&#"TS F#OM T%& #&*. 7$33. @O #AN8$N4S N&6 7OO8. &NC3KS$*&3. T%$S 6&&8 $N T%& N&6S-"OST. She had ta(en the headlines in at a glance and tried )rom)tly to forget them. Mo ing through the !ustling crowds to the meeting hotel, she ho)ed she was in time to hear FuAita4s )a)er on homomor)hic radio telesco)e design. = = = Su)er)osed on the whine of the tires was a )eriodic thum) at the Aoins of swathes of )a ement, which had !een resurfaced !y different New Mexico road crews in different e)ochs. 6hat if an interstellar message were !eing recei ed !y "roAect Argus, !ut ery slowly--one !it of information e ery hour, say, or e erywee(, or e ery decade5 6hat if there were ery old, ery )atient murmurs of some transmitting ci ili:ation, which had no way of (nowing that we get tired of )attern recognition after seconds or minutes5 Su))ose they li ed for tens of thousands of years. And taaaaal(ed errrry slooooowwwwly. Argus would ne er (now. Could such long-li ed creatures exist5 6ould there ha e !een enough time in the history of the uni erse for creatures who re)roduced ery slowly to e ol e to high intelligence5 6ouldn4t the statistical !rea(down of chemical !onds, the deterioration of their !odies according to the Second 3aw of Thermodynamics, force them to re)roduce a!out as often as human !eings do5 And to ha e lifes)ans li(e ours5 Or might they reside on some old and frigid world, where e en molecular collisions occur in extreme slow motion, may!e only a frame a day. She idly imagined a radio transmitter of recogni:a!le and familiar design sitting on a cliff of methane ice, fee!ly illuminated !y a distant red dwarf sun, while far !elow wa es of an ammonia ocean !eat relentlessly against the shore--incidentally generating a white noise indistinguisha!le from that of the surf at Co:umel. The o))osite was )ossi!le as well< the fast tal(ers, manic little creatures )erha)s, mo ing with Buic( and Aer(y motions, who transmitted a com)lete radio message--the eBui alent of hundreds of )ages of &nglish test--in a nanosecond. Of course, if you had a ery narrow !and)ass to your recei er, so you were listening only to a tiny range of freBuencies, you were forced to acce)t the long time-constant. .ou would ne er !e a!le to detect a ra)id modulation. $t was a sim)le conseBuence of the Fourier $ntegral Theorem, and closely related to the %eisen!erg Kncertainty "rinci)le. So, for exam)le, if you had a !and)ass of a (ilohert:, you couldn4t ma(e out a signal that was modulated at fasted than a millisecond. $t would !e (ind of a sonic !lur. The Argus !and)asses were narrower than a hert:, so to !e detected the transmitters must !e modulating ery slowly, slower than one !it of information a second. Still slower modulations--longer than hours, say--could !e detected easily, )ro ided you were willing to )oint a telesco)e at the source for that length of time, )ro ided you were exce)tionally )atient. There were so many )ieces of the s(y to loo( at, so many hundreds of !illions of stars to search out. .ou couldn4t s)end all your time on only a few of them. She was trou!led that in their haste to do a full s(y sur ey in less than a human lifetime, to listen to all of the s(y at a !illion freBuencies, they had a!andoned !oth the frantic tal(ers and the laconic )lodders. 7ut surely, she thought, they would (now !etter than we what modulation freBuencies were acce)ta!le. They would ha e had )re ious ex)erience with interstellar communication and newly emerging ci ili:ations. $f there was a !road range of li(ely )ulse rates that the recei ing ci ili:ation would ado)t, the transmitting ci ili:ation would utili:e such a range. Modulate at microseconds, modulate at hours. 6hat would it cost them5 They would, almost all of them, ha e su)erior engineering and enormous )ower resources !y &arth standards. $f

they wanted to communicate with us, they would ma(e it easy for us. They would send signals at many different freBuencies. They would use many different modulation timescales. They would (now how !ac(ward we are, and would ha e )ity. So why had we recei ed no signal5 Could >a e )ossi!ly !e right5 No extraterrestrial ci ili:ations anywhere5 All those !illions of worlds going to waste, lifeless, !arren5 $ntelligent !eings growing u) only in this o!scure corner of an incom)rehensi!ly ast uni erse5 No matter how aliantly she tried, &llie couldn4t ma(e herself ta(e such a )ossi!ility seriously. $t do etailed )erfectly with human fears and )retentions, with un)ro ed doctrines a!out life-after-death, with such )seudosciences as astrology. $t was the modern incarnation of the geocentric soli)sism, the conceit that had ca)tured our ancestors, the notion that we were the center of the uni erse. >rumlin4s argument was sus)ect on these grounds alone. 6e wanted to !elie e it too !adly. 6ait a minute, she thought. 6e ha en4t e en examined the northern s(ies once with the Argus system. $n another se en or eight years, if we4 e still heard nothing, that4ll !e the time to start worrying. This is the first moment in human history when it4s )ossi!le to search for the inha!itants of other worlds. $f we fail, we4 e cali!rated something of the rarity and )reciousness of life on our )lanet--a fact, if it is one, ery much worth (nowing. And if we succeed, we4ll ha e changed the history of our s)ecies, !ro(en the shac(les of )ro incialism. 6ith the sta(es this high, you ha e to !e willing to ta(e some small )rofessional ris(s, she told herself. She )ulled off the side of the road and did a shallow racing turn, changed gears twice, and accelerated !ac( toward the Argus facility. The ra!!its, still lining the roadside, !ut now )in(ed !y dawn, craned their nec(s to follow her de)arture. CHAPTER 4 Prime Numbers Are there no Mora ians in the Moon, that not a missionary has yet isited this )oor )agan )lanet of ours to ci ili:e ci ili:ation and Christiani:e Christendom5 -%&#MAN M&3*$33& 6hite @ac(et /+1,H2 Silence alone is greatC all else is wea(ness. -A3F#&> >&*$'N. 3a Mort du 3ou) /+1GF2 The cold !lac( acuum had !een left !ehind. The )ulses were now a))roaching an ordinary yellow dwarf star and had already !egun s)illing o er the retinue of worlds in this o!scure system. They had fluttered !y )lanets of hydrogen gas, )enetrated into moons of ice, !reached the organic clouds of a frigid world on which the )recursors of life were stirring, and swe)t across a )lanet a !illion years )ast its )rime. Now the )ulses were washing against a warm world, !lue and whit, s)inning against the !ac(dro) of the stars. There was life on this world, extra agant in its num!ers and ariety. There were Aum)ing s)iders at the chilly to)s of the highest mountains and sulfur-eating worms in hot ents gushing u) through ridges on the ocean floors. There were !eings that could li e only in concentrated sulfuric acid, and !eings that were destroyed !y concentrated sulfuric acidC organisms that were )oisoned !y oxygen, and organisms that could sur i e only in oxygen, that actually !reathed the stuff. A )articular lifeform, with a modicum of intelligence, had recently s)read across the )lanet. They had out)osts on the ocean floors and in low-altitude or!it. They had swarmed to e ery noo( and cranny of their small world. The !oundary that mar(ed the transition of night into day was swee)ing westward, and following its motion millions of these !eings

ritually )erformed their morning a!lutions. They donned great-coats and dhotisC dran( !rews of coffee, tea, or dandelionC dro e !icycles, automo!iles, or oxenC and !riefly contem)lated school assignments, )ros)ects for s)ring )lanting, and the fate of the world. The first )ulses in the train of radio wa es insinuated themsel es through the atmos)here and clouds, struc( the landsca)e and were )artially reflected !ac( to s)ace. As the &arth turned !eneath them, successi e )ulses arri ed, engulfing not Aust this one )lanet !ut the entire system. *ery little of the energy was interce)ted !y any of the worlds. Most of it )assed effortlessly onward--as the yellow star and its attendant worlds )lunged, in an altogether different direction, into the in(y dar(. 6earing a >acron Aac(et dis)laying the word 9Marauders9 a!o e a styli:ed felt olley!all, the duty officer, !eginning the night shift, a))roached the control !uilding. A (latch of radio astronomers was Aust lea ing for dinner. 9%ow long ha e you guys !een loo(ing for little green men5 $t4s more than fi e years, isn4t it now, 6illie59 They chided him good-naturedly, !ut he could detect an edge to their !anter. 9'i e us a !rea(, 6illie,9 another of them said. 9The Buasar luminosity )rogram is going great guns. 7ut it4s gonna ta(e fore er if we only ha e two )ercent of the telesco)e time.9 9Sure, @ac(, sure.9 96illie, we4re loo(ing !ac( toward the origin of the uni erse. There4s a !ig sta(e in our )rogram, too--and we (now there4s a uni erse out thereC you don4t (now there4s a single little green man.9 9Ta(e it u) with >r. Arroway. $4m sure she4ll !e glad to hear your o)inion, 9he re)lied a little sourly. The duty officer entered the control area. %e made a Buic( sur ey of do:ens of tele ision screens monitoring the )rogress of the radio search. They had Aust finished examining the constellation %ercules.They had )eered into the heart of a great swarm of galaxies far !eyond the Mil(y 6ay, the %ercules Cluster--a hundred million light-years awayC they had tuned in on M-+-, a swarm of -HH,HHH stars, gi e or ta(e a few, gra itationally !ound together, mo ing in or!it around the Mil(y 6ay 'alaxy DG,HHH light-years awayC they had examined #as Algethi, a dou!le system, and Leta and 3am!da %erculis--some stars different from the Sun, some similar to it, all near!y. Most of the stars you can see with the na(ed eye are less that a few hundred light-years away. They had carefully monitored hundreds of little sectors of the s(y within the constellation %ercules at a !illion se)arate freBuencies, and they had heard nothing. $n )re ious years they had searched the constellations immediately west of %ercules--Ser)ens, Corona 7orealis, 7oOtes, Canes *enatici... and there also they had heard nothing. A few of the telesco)es, the duty officer could see, were de oted to )ic(ing u) some missed data in %ercules. The remainder were aiming, !oresighted, at an adAacent )atch of s(y, the next constellation east of %ercules. To )eo)le in the eastern Mediterranean a few thousand years ago, it had resem!led a stringed musical instrument and was associated with the 'ree( culture hero Or)heus. $t was a constellation named 3yra, the 3yre. The com)uters turned the telesco)es to follow the stars in 3yra from starrise to starset, accumulated the radio )hotons, monitored the health of the telesco)es, and )rocessed the data in a format con enient for their human o)erators. & en one duty officer candies, a coffee machine, a sentence in el ish runes out of Tol(ien !y the Artificial $ntelligence 3a!oratory at Stanford, and a !um)er stic(er reading 73AC8 %O3&S A#& OKT OF S$'%T, 6illie a))roached the command console. %e nodded )leasantly to the afternoon duty officer, now collecting his notes and )re)aring to lea e for dinner. 7ecause the day4s data were con eniently summari:ed in am!er on the master dis)lay, there was no need for 6illie to inBuire a!out the )rogress of the )receding hours.

9As you can see, nothing much. There was a )ointing glitch--at least that4s what it loo(ed li(e Min forty-nine,9 he said, wa ing aguely toward the window. 9The Buasar !unch freed u) the one-tens and one-twenties a!out an hour ago. They seem to !e getting ery good data.9 9.eah, $ heard. They don4t understand...9 %is oice trailed off as an alarm light flashed decorously on the console in front of them. On a dis)lay mar(ed 9$ntensity s. FreBuency9 a shar) ertical s)i(e was rising. 9%ey, loo(, it4s a monochromatic signal.9 Another dis)lay, la!eled 9$ntensity s. Time,9 showed a set of )ulses mo ing left to right and then off the screen. 9Those are num!ers,9 6illie said faintly. 9Some!ody4s !roadcasting num!ers.9 9$t4s )ro!a!ly some Air Force interference. $ saw an A6ACS, )ro!a!ly from 8irtland, a!out sixteen hundred hours. May!e they4re s)oofing us for fun.9 There had !een solemn agreements to safeguard at least some radio freBuencies for astronomy. 7ut )recisely !ecause these freBuencies re)resented a clear channel, the military found them occasionally irresisti!le. $f glo!al war e er came, )erha)s the radio astronomers would !e the first to (now, their windows to the cosmos o erflowing with orders to !attlemanagement and damage-assessment satellites in geosynchronous or!it, and with the transmission of coded launch commands to distant strategic out)osts. & en with no military traffic, in listening to a !illion freBuencies at once the astronomers had to ex)ect some disru)tion. 3ightning, automo!ile ignitions, direct !roadcast satellites were all sources of radio interference. 7ut the com)uters had their num!er, (new their characteristics and systematically ignored them. To signals that were more am!iguous the com)uter would listen with greater care and ma(e sure they matched no in entory of data it was )rogrammed to understand. & ery now and then an electronic intelligence aircraft on a training mission-sometimes with a radar dish coyly disguised as a flying saucer cam)ed on its haunches-would fly !y, and Argus would suddenly detect unmista(a!le signatures of intelligent life. 7ut it would always turn out to !e life of a )eculiar and melancholy sort, intelligent to a degree, extraterrestrial Aust !arely. A few moths !efore, an F-D0& with state-of-the-art electronic countermeasures )assed o erhead at 1H,HHH feet and sounded the alarms on all +-+ telesco)es. To the unmilitary eyes of the astronomers, the radio signature had !een com)lex enough to !e a )lausi!le first message from an extraterrestrial ci ili:ation. 7ut they found the westernmost radio telesco)e had recei ed the signal a full minute !efore the easternmost, and it soon !ecome clear that it was an o!Aect strea(ing through the thin en elo) of air surrounding the &arth rather than a !roadcast from some unimagina!ly different ci ili:ation in the de)ths of s)ace. Almost certainly this one was the same thing. = = = The fingers of her right hand were inserted into fi e e enly s)aced rece)tacles in a low !ox on her des(. Since the in ention of this de ice, she was a!le to sa e half an hour a wee(. 7ut there hadn4t really !een a great deal to do with that extra half hour. 9And $ was telling Mrs. .ar!orough all a!out it. She4s the one in the next !ed, now that Mrs. 6ertheimer )assed on. $ don4t mean to toot my own horn, !ut $ ta(e a lot of credit for what you4 e done.9, Mother.9 She examined the gloss on her fingernails and decided that they needed another minute, may!e a minute-thirty. 9$ was thin(ing a!out that time in fourth grade--remem!er5 6hen it was )ouring and you didn4t want to go to school5 .ou wanted me to write a note the next day saying you4d !een out !ecause you were sic(. And $ wouldn4t do it. $ said, ?&llie, a)art from !eing !eautiful, the

most im)ortant thing in the world is an education. .ou can4t do much a!out !eing !eautiful, !ut you can do something a!out an education. 'o to school. .ou ne er (now what you might learn today.4 $sn4t that right59, Mother.9 97ut, $ mean, isn4t that what $ told you then59, $ remem!er, Mom.9 The gloss on her four fingers was )erfect, !ut her thum! still had a dull matte a))earance. 9So $ got your galoshes and your raincoat--it was one of those yellow slic(ers, you loo(ed cute as a !utton in it--and scooted you off to school. And that4s the day you couldn4t answer a Buestion in Mr. 6eis!rod4s mathematics class5 And you got so furious you marched down to the college li!rary and read u) on it till you (new more a!out it than Mr. 6eis!rod. %e was im)ressed. %e told me.9 9%e told you5 $ didn4t (now that. 6hen did you tal( to Mr. 6eis!rod59 9$t was a )arent-teacher meeting. %e said to me, ?That girl of yours, she4s a s)un(y one.4 Or words to that effect. ?She got so mad at me, she !ecame a real ex)ert on it.4 ?&x)ert.4 That4s what he said. $ (now $ told you a!out it.9 %er feet were )ro))ed u) on a des( drawer as she reclined in the swi el chairC she was sta!ili:ed only !y her fingers in the arnish machine. She felt the !u::er almost !efore she heard it, and a!ru)tly sat u). 9Mom, $ gotta go.9 9$4m sure $4 e told you this story !efore. .ou Aust ne er )ay attention to what $4m saying. Mr. 6eis!rod, he was a nice man. .ou ne er could see his good side.9 9Mom, really, $4 e gotta go. 6e4 e caught some (ind of !ogey.9 97ogey59 9.ou (now, Mom, something that might !e a signal. 6e4 e tal(ed a!out it.9 9There we are, !oth of us thin(ing the other one isn4t listening. 3i(e mother, li(e daughter.9 97ye, Mom.9 9$4ll let you go if you )romise to call me right after.9 9O(ay, Mom. $ )romise.9 Through the whole con ersation, her mother4s need and loneliness had elicited in &llie a wish to end the con ersation, to run away. She hated herself for that. = = = 7ris(ly she entered the control area and a))roached the main console. 9& ening, 6illie, Ste e. 3et4s see the data. 'ood. Now where did you tuc( away the am)litude )lot5 'ood. >o you ha e the interferometric )osition5 O(ay. Now let4s see if there4s any near!y star in that field of iew. Oh my, we4re loo(ing at *ega. That4s a )retty near neigh!or.9 %er fingers were )unching away at a (ey!oard as she tal(ed. 93oo(, it4s only twenty-six light-years away. $t4s !een o!ser ed !efore, always with negati e results. $ loo(ed at it myself in my first Areci!o sur ey. 6hat4s the a!solute intensity5 %oly Toledo. That4s hundreds of Aans(ys. .ou could )ractically )ic( that u) on your FM radio. 9O(ay. So we ha e a !ogey ery near to *ega in the )lane of the s(y $t4s at a freBuency around 0.D gigahert:, not ery monochromatic< The !andwidth is a few hundred hert:. $t4s linearly )olari:ed and it4s transmitting a set of mo ing )ulses restricted to two different am)litudes.9

$n res)onse to her ty)ed commands the screen now dis)layed the dis)osition of all the radio telesco)es. 9$t4s !eing recei ed !y ++G indi idual telesco)es. Clearly it4s not a malfunction in one or two of them. O(ay, now we should ha e )lenty of time !aseline. $s it mo ing with the stars5 Or could it !e some &3$NT satellite or aircraft59 9$ can confirm sidereal motion, >r. Arroway.9 9O(ay, that4s )retty con incing. $t4s not down here on &arth, and it )ro!a!ly isn4t from an artificial satellite in a Molniya or!it, although we should chec( that. 6hen you get a chance, 6illie, call u) NO#A> and see what they say a!out the satellite )ossi!ility. $f we can exclude satellites, that will lea e two )ossi!ilities< $t4s a hoax, or some!ody has finally gotten around to sending us a message. Ste e, do a manual o erride. Chec( a few indi idual radio telesco)es--the signal strength is certainly large enough--and see if there4s any chance this is a hoaxC you (now, a )ractical Ao(e !y someone who wishes to teach us the error of our ways.9 9A handful of other scientists and technicians, alerted on their !u::ers !y the Argus com)uter, had gathered around the command console. There were half smiles on their faces. None of them was thin(ing seriously of a message from another world Buite yet, !ut there was a sense of no-school-today, a !rea( in the tedious routine to which they had !ecome accustomed, and )erha)s a faint air of ex)ectation. 9$f any of you can thin( of any other ex)lanation !esides extraterrestrial intelligence, $ want to hear a!out it,9 she said, ac(nowledging their )resence. 9There4s no way it could !e *ega, >r. Arroway. The system4s only a few hundred million years old. $ts )lanets are still in the )rocess of forming. There isn4t time for intelligent life to ha e de elo)ed there. $t has to !e some !ac(ground star. Or galaxy.9 97ut then the transmitter )ower has to !e ridiculously large,9 res)onded a mem!er of the Buasar grou) who had returned to see what was ha))ening. 96e need to get going right away on a sensiti e )ro)er motion study, so we can see if the radio source mo es with *ega.9 9Of course, you4re right a!out the )ro)er motion, @ac(,9 she said. 97ut there4s another )ossi!ility. May!e they didn4t grow u) in the *ega system. May!e they4re Aust isiting.9 9That4s no good either. The system is full of de!ris. $t4s a failed solar system or solar system still in its early stages of de elo)ment. $f they stay ery long, their s)acecraft4ll !e clo!!ered.9 9So they only arri ed recently. Or they a)ori:e incoming meteorites. Or they ta(e e asi e action if there4s a )iece of de!ris on a collision traAectory. Or they4re not in the ring )lane !ut in )olar or!it, so they minimi:e their encounters with the de!ris. There4s a million )ossi!ilities. 7ut you4re a!solutely rightC we don4t ha e to guess whether the source is in the *ega system. 6e can actually find out. %ow long will that )ro)er motion study ta(e5 7y the way, Ste e, this isn4t your shift. At least tell Consuela you4re going to !e late for dinner.9 6illie, who had !een tal(ing on the )hone at an adAacent console, was dis)laying a wan smile. 96ell, $ got through to a MaAor 7raintree at NO#A>. %e swears u) and down they ha e nothing that4ll gi e this signal, es)ecially not at nine gigahert:. 4Course, they tell us that e ery time we call. Anyway, he says they ha en4t detected any s)acecraft at the right ascension and declination of *ega.9 96hat a!out dar(s59 7y this time there were many 9dar(9 satellites with low radar cross sections, designed to or!it &arth unannounced and undetected until an hour of need. Then they would ser e as !ac(u)s for launch detection or communications in a nuclear war, in case the first-line military satellites dedicated to these )ur)oses were suddenly missing in action. Occasionally a dar( would !e detected !y one of the maAor astronomical radar systems. All nations would deny that the o!Aect !elonged to them, and !reathless s)eculation would eru)t that an extraterrestrial s)acecraft had !een detected in &arth or!it. As the Millennium a))roached, the KFO cults were thri ing again.

9$nterferometry now rules out a Molniya-ty)e or!it, >r. Arroway.9 97etter and !etter. Now let4s ta(e a closer loo( at those mo ing )ulses. Assuming that this is !inary arithmetic, has any!ody con erted it into !ase ten5 >o we (now what the seBuence of num!ers is5 O(ay, here, we can do it in our heads... fifty-nine, sixty-one, sixty-se en... se enty-one... Aren4t these all )rime num!ers59 A little !u:: of excitement circulated through the control room. &llie4s own face momentarily re ealed a flutter of something dee)ly felt, !ut this was Buic(ly re)laced !y a so!riety, a fear of !eing carried away, an a))rehension a!out a))earing foolish, unscientific. 9O(ay, let4s see if $ can do another Buic( summary. $4ll do it in the sim)lest language. "lease chec( if $4 e missed anything. 6e ha e an extremely strong, not ery monochromatic signal. $mmediately outside the !and)ass of this signal there are no other freBuencies re)orting anything !esides noise. The signal is linearly )olari:ed, as if it4s !eing !roadcast !y a radio telesco)e. The signal is around nine gigahert:, near the minimum in the galactic radio noise !ac(ground. $t4s the right (ind of freBuency for anyone who wants to !e heard o er a !ig distance. 6e4 e confirmed sidereal motion of the source, so it4s mo ing as if it4s u) there among the stars and not from some local transmitter. NO#A> tells us that they don4t detect any satellites--ours or any!ody else4s--that match the )osition of this source. $nterferometry excludes a source in &arth or!it anyway. 9Ste e has now loo(ed at the data outside the automated mode, and it doesn4t seem to !e a )rogram that some!ody with a war)ed sense of humor )ut into the com)uter. The region of the s(y we4re loo(ing at includes *ega, which is an A-:ero main seBuence dwarf star. $t4s not exactly li(e the Sun, !ut it4s only twenty-six light-years away, and it has the )rototy)e stellar de!ris ring. There are no (nown )lanets, !ut there certainly could !e )lanets we don4t (now anything a!out around *ega. 6e4re setting u) a )ro)er motion study to see if the source is well !ehind our line of sight to *ega, and we should ha e an answer in--what5--a few wee(s if we4re restricted on our own, a few hours if we do some long-!aseline interferometry. 9Finally, what4s !eing sent seems to !e a long seBuence of )rime num!ers, integers that can4t !e di ided !y any other num!er exce)t themsel es and one. No astro)hysical )rocess is li(ely to generate )rime num!ers. So $4d say--we want to !e cautious, of course--!ut $4d say that !y e ery criterion we can lay our hands on, this loo(s li(e the real thing. 97ut there4s a )ro!lem with the idea that this is a message from guys who e ol ed on some )lanet around *ega, !ecause they would ha e had to e ol e ery fast. The entire lifetime of the star is only a!out four hundred million years. $t4s an unli(ely )lace for the nearest ci ili:ation. So the )ro)er motion study is ery im)ortant. 7ut $ sure would li(e to chec( out that hoax )ossi!ility some more.9 93oo(,9 said one of the Buasar sur ey astronomers who had !een ho ering in the !ac(. %e inclined his Aaw to the western hori:on where a faint )in( aura showed unmista(a!ly where the Sun had set. 9*ega is going to set in another cou)le of hours. $t4s )ro!a!ly already risen in Australia. Can4t we call Sydney and get them loo(ing at the same time that we4re still seeing it59 9'ood idea. $t4s only middle afternoon there. And together we4ll ha e enough !aseline for the )ro)er motion study. 'i e me that summary )rintout, and $4ll telefax it to Australia from my office.9 6ith deli!erate com)osure, &llie left the assem!led grou) crowded around the consoles and returned to her office. She closed the door ery carefully !ehind her. 9%oly shitP9 she whis)ered. = = =

9$an 7roderic(, )lease. .es. This is &leanor Arroway at "roAect Argus. $t4s something of an emergency. Than(s, $4ll hold on.... %ello, $an5 $t4s )ro!a!ly nothing, !ut we ha e a !ogey here and wonder if you could Aust chec( it out for us. $t4s around nine gigahert:, with a few hundred hert: !and)ass. $4m telefaxing the )arameters now.... .ou ha e a feed good at nine gigahert: already on the dish5 That4s a !it of luc(.... .es, *ega is smac( in the middle of the field of iew. And we4re getting what loo(s li(e )rime num!er )ulses.... #eally. O(ay, $4ll hold on.9 She considered again how !ac(ward the world astronomical community still was. A Aoint com)uter data-!asing system was still not on-line. $ts alue for asynchronous telenetting alone would... 93isten, $an, while the telesco)e finishes slewing, could you set u) to loo( at an am)litude-time )lot5 3et4s call the low-am)litude )ulses dots and the high-am)litude )ulses dashes. 6e4re getting... .es that4s Aust the )attern we4 e !een seeing for the last half hour.... May!e. 6ell, it4s the !est candidate in fi e years, !ut $ (ee) remem!ering how !adly the So iets got fooled with that 7ig 7ird satellite incident around 4;F. 6ell, the way $ understand it, it was a K.S. radar altimetry sur ey of the So iet Knion for cruise missile guidance.... .es, a terrain ma))er. And the So iets were )ic(ing it u) on omnidirectional antennas. They couldn4t tell where in the s(y the signal was coming from. Al they (new was they were getting the same seBuence of )ulses from the s(y at a!out the same time e ery morning. Their )eo)le assured them it wasn4t a military transmission, so naturally they thought it was extraterrestrial.... No, we4 e excluded a satellite transmission already. 9$an, could we trou!le you to follow it for as long as it4s in your s(y5 $4ll tal( to you a!out *37$ later. $4m going to see if $ can4t get other radio o!ser atories, distri!uted )retty e enly in longitude, to follow it until it rea))ears !ac( here.... .es, !ut $ don4t (now if it4s easy to ma(e a direct )hone call to China. $4m thin(ing of sending an $AK telegram.... Fine. Many than(s, $an.9

&llie )aused in the doorway of the control room--they called it that with conscious irony, !ecause it was the com)uters, in another room, that !y and large did the controlling--to admire the small grou) of scientists who were tal(ing with great animation, scrutini:ing the data !eing dis)layed, and engaging in mild !adinage on the nature of the signal. These were not stylish )eo)le, she thought. They were not con entionally good-loo(ing. 7ut there was something unmista(a!ly attracti e a!out them. They were excellent at what they did and, es)ecially in the disco ery )rocess, were utterly a!sor!ed in their wor(. As she a))roached, they fell silent and loo(ed at her ex)ectantly. The numerals were now !eing con erted automatically from !ase D to !ase +H... 11+, 11-, 11;, 0H;... each one confirmed as a )rime num!er. 96illie, get me a world ma). And )lease get me Mar( Auer!ach in Cam!ridge, Mass. %e4ll )ro!a!ly !e at home. 'i e him this message for an $AK telegram to all o!ser atories, !ut es)ecially to all large radio o!ser atories. And see if he4ll chec( our tele)hone num!er for the 7eiAing #adio O!ser atory. Then get me the "resident4s Science Ad iser.9 9.ou4re going to !y)ass the National Science Foundation59 9After Auer!ach, get me the "resident4s Science Ad iser.4 $n her mind she thought she could hear one Aoyous shout amidst a clamor of other oices. = = = 7y !icycle, small truc(, )eram!ulatory mailman, or tele)hone, the single )aragra)h was deli ered to astronomical centers all o er the world. $n a few maAor radio o!ser atories--in China, $ndia, the So iet Knion, and %olland, for exam)le--the message was deli ered !y telety)e. As it chattered in, it was scanned !y a security officer or some )assing astronomer, torn off, and with a loo( of some curiosity carried into an adAacent office. $t read< ANOMA3OKS $NT&#M$TT&NT #A>$O SOK#C& AT #$'%T ASC&NS$ON +1h -FM, >&C3$NAT$ON

"3KS -1 >&'#&&S F+ M$NKT&S, >$SCO*&#&> 7. A#'KS S.ST&MAT$C S8. SK#*&.. F#&JK&NC. 0.DF+;GG1F '$'A%&#TL, 7AN>"ASS A""#ON$MAT&3. F-H %&#TL. 7$MO>A3 AM"3$TK>&S A""#ON$MAT&3. +;F AN> +;0 @ANS8.S. &*$>&NC& AM"3$TK>&S &NCO>& S&JK&NC& OF "#$M& NKM7&#S. FK33 3ON'$TK>& CO*&#A'& K#'&NT3. N&&>&>. "3&AS& CA33 CO33&CT FO# FK#T%&# $NFO#MAT$ON $N COO#>$NAT$N' O7S&#*AT$ONS. &. A##O6A., >$#&CTO#, "#O@&CT A#'KS, SOCO##O, N&6 M&N$CO, K.S.A. C%A"T&# , >ecry)tion Algorithm Oh, s)ea( again, !right angel... -6$33$AM S%A8&S"&A#& #omeo and @uliet The isiting scientists4 Buarters were now all occu)ied, indeed o ercrowded, !y selected luminaries of the S&T$ community. 6hen the official delegations !egan arri ing from 6ashington, they found no suita!le accommodations at the Argus site and had to !e !illeted at motels in near!y Socorro. 8enneth der %eer, the "resident4s Science Ad iser, was the only exce)tion. %e had arri ed the day after the disco ery, in res)onse to an urgent call from &leanor Arroway. Officials from the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and S)ace Administration, the >e)artment of >efense, the "resident4s Science Ad isory Committee, the National Security Council, and the National Security Agency tric(led in during the next few days. There were a few go ernment em)loyees whose )recise institutional affiliations remained o!scure. The )re ious e ening, some of them stood at the !ase of Telesco)e +H+ and had *ega )ointed out to them for the first time. O!ligingly, its !lue-white light flic(ered )rettily. 9$ mean, $4 e seen it !efore, !ut $ ne er (new what it was called,9 one of them remar(ed. *ega a))eared !righter than the other stars in the s(y, !ut in no other way noteworthy. $t was merely one of the few thousand na(ed-eye stars.

The scientists were running a continuous research seminar on the nature, origin, and )ossi!le significance of the radio )ulses. The )roAect4s )u!lic affairs office--larger than in most o!ser atories !ecause of wides)read interest in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence-was assigned the tas( of filling in the lower-ran(ing officials. & ery new arri al reBuired an extensi e )ersonal !riefing. &llie, who was o!liged to !rief the senior officials, su)er ise the ongoing research, and res)ond to the entirely )ro)er s(e)tical scrutiny !eing offered with some igor !y her colleagues, was exhausted. The luxury of a full night4s slee) had eluded her since the disco ery. At first they had tried to (ee) the finding Buiet. After all, they were not a!solutely sure it was an extraterrestrial message. A )remature or mista(en announcement would !e a )u!lic relations disaster. 7ut worse than that, it would interfere with the data analysis. $f the )ress descended, the science would surely suffer. 6ashington as well as Argus was (een to (ee) the story Buiet. 7ut the scientists had told their families, the $nternational Astronomical Knion telegram had !een sent all o er the world, and still rudimentary astronomical data-!asing systems in &uro)e, North America, and @a)an were all carrying news of the disco ery. Although there had !een a range of contingency )lans for the )u!lic release of any findings, the actual circumstances had caught them largely un)re)ared. They drafted as innocuous a statement as they could and released it only when they had to. $t caused, of course, a sensation. They had as(ed the media4s for!earance, !ut (new there would !e only a !rief )eriod !efore the )ress would descend in force. They had tried to discourage re)orters from isiting the site, ex)laining that there was no real information in the signals they were recei ing, Aust tedious and re)etiti e )rime num!ers. The )ress was im)atient with the a!sence of hard news. 9.ou can only do so many side!ars on ?6hat is a )rime num!er549 one re)orter ex)lained to &llie o er the tele)hone. Tele ision camera crews in fixed-wing air taxis and chartered helico)ters !egan

ma(ing low )asses o er the facility, sometimes generating strong radio interference easily detected !y the telesco)es. Some re)orters stal(ed the officials from 6ashington when they returned to their motels at night. A few of the more enter)rising had attem)ted to enter the facility uno!ser ed--!y !each !uggy, motorcycle, and in one case on horse!ac(. She had !een forced to inBuire a!out !ul( rates on cyclone fencing. $mmediately after der %eer arri ed, he had recei ed an early ersion of what was !y now &llie4s standard !riefing< the sur)rising intensity of the signal, its location in ery much the same )art of the s(y as the star *ega, the nature of the )ulses. 9$ may !e the "resident4s Science Ad iser,9 he had said, 9!ut $4m only a !iologist. So )lease ex)lain it to me slowly. $ understand that if the radio source is twenty-six light-years away, then the message had to !e sent twenty-six years ago. $n the +0GHs, some funny-loo(ing )eo)le with )ointy ears thought we4d want to (now that they li(e )rime num!ers. 7ut )rime num!ers aren4t difficult. $t4s not li(e they4re !oasting. $t4s more li(e they4re sending us remedial arithmetic. May!e we should !e insulted.9 9No, loo( at it this way,9 she said, smiling. 9This is a !eacon. $t4s an announcement signal. $t4s designed to attract our attention. 6e get strange )atterns of )ulses from Buasars and )ulsars and radio galaxies and 'od-(nows-what. 7ut )rime num!ers are ery s)ecific, ery artificial. No e en num!er is )rime, for exam)le. $t4s hard to imagine some radiating )lasma or ex)loding galaxy sending out a regular set of mathematical signals li(e this. The )rime num!ers are to attract our attention.9 97ut what for59 he had as(ed, genuinely !affled. 9$ don4t (now. 7ut in this !usiness you ha e to !e ery )atient. May!e in a while the )rime num!ers will turn off and !e re)laced !y something else, something ery rich, the real message. 6e Aust ha e to (ee) on listening.9

This was the hardest )art to ex)lain to the )ress, that the signals had essentially no content, no meaning--Aust the first few hundred )rime num!ers in order, a cycling !ac( to the !eginning, and again the sim)le !inary arithmetic re)resentations< +, D, -, ,, ;, ++, +-, +;, +0, D-, D0, -+... Nine wasn4t a )rime num!er, she4d ex)lain, !ecause it was di isi!le !y - /as well as 0 and +, of course2. Ten wasn4t a )rime num!er !ecause , and D went into it /as well as +H and +2. &le en was a )rime num!er !ecause it was di isi!le only !y + and itself. 7ut why transmit )rime num!ers5 $t reminded her of an idiot sa ant, one of those )eo)le who might !e grossly deficient in ordinary social or er!al s(ills !ut who could )erform mind!oggling feats of mental arithmetic--such as figuring out, after a moment4s thought, on what day of the wee( @une first in the year ++,0;; will fall. $t wasn4t for anythingC they did it !ecause they li(ed doing it, !ecause they were a!le to do it. She (new it was only a few days after recei)t of the message, !ut she was at once exhilarated and dee)ly disa))ointed. After all these years, they had finally recei ed a signal-sort of. 7ut its content was shallow, hollow, em)ty. She had imagined recei ing the &ncyclo)edia 'alactica. 6e4 e only achie ed the ca)acity for radio astronomy in the last few decades, she reminded herself, in a 'alaxy where the a erage star is !illions of years old. The chance of recei ing a signal from a ci ili:ation exactly as ad anced as we are should !e minuscule. $f they were e en a little !ehind us, they would lac( the technological ca)a!ility to communicate with us at all. So the most li(ely signal would come from a ci ili:ation much more ad anced. May!e they would !e a!le to write full and melodic mirror fugues< The counter)oint would !e the theme written !ac(wards. No, she decided. 6hile this was a (ind of genius without a dou!t, and certainly !eyond her a!ility, it was a tiny extra)olation from what human !eings could do. 7ach and Mo:art had made at least res)ecta!le sta!s at it. She tried to ma(e a !igger lea), into the mind of someone who was enormously, orders of magnitude, more intelligent than she was, smarter than >rumlin, say, or &da the young Nigerian )hysicist

who had Aust won the No!el "ri:e. 7ut it was im)ossi!le. She could muse a!out demonstrating Fermat4s 3ast Theorem or the 'old!ach ConAecture in only a few lines of eBuations. She could imagine )ro!lems enormously !eyond us that would !e old hat to them. 7ut she couldn4t get into their mindsC she couldn4t imagine what thin(ing would !e li(e if you were much more ca)a!le than a human !eing. Of course. Nor sur)rise. 6hat did she ex)ect5 $t was li(e trying to isuali:e a new )rimary color or a world in which you could recogni:e se eral hundred acBuaintances indi idually only !y their smells.... She could tal( a!out this, !ut she couldn4t ex)erience it. 7y definition, it has to !e mighty hard to understand the !eha ior of a !eing much smarter than you are. 7uy e en so, e en so< 6hy only )rime num!ers5 = = = The Argus radio astronomers had made )rogress in the last few days. *ega had a (nown motion--a (nown com)onent of its elocity toward or away from the &arth, and a (nown com)onent laterally, across the s(y, against the !ac(ground of more distant stars. The Argus telesco)es, wor(ing together with radio o!ser atories in 6est *irginia and Australia, had determined that the source was mo ing with *ega. Not only was the signal coming, as carefully as they could measure, from where *ega was in the s(yC !ut the signal also shared the )eculiar and characteristic motions of *ega. Knless this was a hoax of heroic )ro)ortions, the source of the )rime num!er )ulses was indeed in the *ega system. There was no additional >o))ler effect due to the motion of the transmitter, )erha)s tied to a )lanet, a!out *ega. The extraterrestrials had com)ensated for the or!ital motion. "erha)s it was a (ind of interstellar courtesy. 9$t4s the goddamnedest most wonderful thing $ e er heard of. And it4s got nothing to do with our sho),9 said an official of the >efense Ad anced #esearch "roAects Agency, )re)aring to return to 6ashington. As soon as the disco ery had !een made, &llie had assigned a handful of the telesco)es to examine *ega in a range of other freBuencies. Sure enough, they had found the same signal, the same monotonous succession of )rime num!ers, !ee)ing away in the +FDH megahert: hydrogen line,

the +GG; megahert: hydroxyl line, and at many other freBuencies. All o er the radio s)ectrum, with an electromagnetic orchestra, *ega was !leating out )rime num!ers. 9$t doesn4t ma(e sense,9 said drumlin, casually touching his !elt !uc(le. 96e couldn4t ha e missed it !efore. & ery!ody4s loo(ed at *ega. For years. Arroway o!ser ed it from Areci!o a decade ago. Suddenly last Tuesday *ega starts !roadcasting )rime num!ers5 6hy now5 6hat4s so s)ecial a!out now5 %ow come they start transmitting Aust a few years after Argus starts listening59 9May!e their transmitter was down for re)airs for a cou)le of centuries,9 *alerian suggested, 9and they Aust got it !ac( on-line. may!e their duty cycle is to !roadcast to us Aust one year out of e ery million. There are all those other candidate )lanets that might ha e life on them, you (now. 6e4re )ro!a!ly not the only (id on the !loc(.9 7ut >rumlin, )lainly dissatisfied, only shoo( his head. Although his nature was the o))osite of cons)iratorial, *alerian thought he had caught an undercurrent in >rumlin4s last Buestion< could all this !e a rec(less, des)erate attem)t !y Argus scientists to )re ent a )remature closing down of the )roAect5 $t wasn4t )ossi!le. *alerian shoo( his head. As der %eer wal(ed !y, he found himself confronted !y two senior ex)erts on the S&T$ )ro!lem silently sha(ing their heads at one another. 7etween the scientists and the !ureaucrats there was a (ind of unease, a mutual discomfort, a clash of fundamental assum)tions. One of the electrical engineers called it an im)edance mismatch. The scientists were too s)eculati e, too Buantitati e, and too casual a!out tal(ing to any!ody for the tastes of many of the !ureaucrats. The !ureaucrats were too unimaginati e, too Bualitati e, too uncommunicati e for many of the scientists. &llie and es)ecially der %eer tried hard to !ridge the ga), !ut the )ontoons (e)t !eing swe)t downstream. This night, cigarette !utts and coffee cu)s were e erywhere. The casually dressed scientists,

6ashington officials in light-weight suits, and an occasional flag-ran( military officer filled the control room, the seminar room, the small auditorium, and s)illed out of doors, where, illuminated !y cigarettes and starlight, some of the discussions continued. 7ut tem)ers were frayed. The strain was showing. = = = 9>r. Arroway, this is Michael 8it:, Assistant Secretary of >efense for C-$.9 $ntroducing 8it: and )ositioning himself Aust a ste) !ehind him, der %eer was communicating... what5 Some unli(ely mix of emotions. 7emusement in the arms of )rudence5 %e seemed to !e a))ealing for restraint. >id he thin( her such a hothead5 9C-$9--)ronounced cee-cu!ed-eye-stood for Command, Control, Communications, and $ntelligence, im)ortant res)onsi!ilities at a time when the Knited States and the So iet Knion were gamely ma(ing maAor )hased reductions in their strategic nuclear arsenals. $t was a Ao! for a cautious man. 8it: settled himself in one of the two chairs across the des( from &llie, leaned forward, and read the 8af(a Buote. %e was unim)ressed. 9>r. Arroway, let me come right to the )oint. 6e4re concerned a!out whether it4s in the !est interest of the Knited States for this information to !e generally (nown. 6e were not o erAoyed a!out your sending that telegram all o er the world.9 9.ou mean to China5 To #ussia5 To $ndia59 %er oice, des)ite her !est effort, had a discerni!le edge to it. 9.ou wanted to (ee) the first DG+ )rime num!ers secret5 >o you su))ose, Mr. 8it:, the extraterrestrials intended to communicate only with Americans5 >on4t you thin( that a message from another ci ili:ation !elongs to the whole world59 9.ou might ha e as(ed our ad ice.9 9And ris( losing the signal5 3oo(, for all we (now, something essential,

something uniBue might ha e !een !roadcast after *ega had set her in New Mexico !ut when it was high in the s(y o er 7eiAing. These signals aren4t exactly a )erson-to-)erson call to the K.S. of A. They4re not e en a )erson-to-)erson call to the &arth. $t4s station-to-station to any )lanet in the solar system. 6e Aust ha))ened to !e luc(y enough to )ic( u) the )hone.9 >er %eer was radiating something again. 6hat was he trying to tell her5 That he li(ed that elementary analogy, !ut ease u) on 8it:5 9$n any case,9 she continued, 9it4s too late. & ery!ody (nows now that there4s some (ind of intelligent life in the *ega system.9 9$4m not sure it4s too late, >r. Arroway. .ou seem to thin( there4ll !e some information-rich transmission, a message, still to come. >r. der %eer here9--he )aused to listen to the unex)ected assonance--9>r. der %eer says you thin( these )rime num!ers are an announcement, something to ma(e us )ay attention. $f there is a message and it4s su!tle--something those other countries wouldn4t )ic( u) right away--$ want it (e)t Buiet until we can tal( a!out it.9 9Many of us ha e wants, Mr. 8it:, she found herself saying sweetly, ignoring der %eer4s raised eye!rows. There was something irritating, almost )ro ocati e, a!out 8it:4s manner. And )ro!a!ly hers as well. 9$, for exam)le, ha e a want to understand what the meaning of this signal is, and what4s ha))ening on *ega, and what it means for the &arth. $t4s )ossi!le that scientists in other nations are the (ey to that understanding. May!e we4ll need their data. May!e we4ll need their !rains. $ could imagine this might !e a )ro!lem too !ig for one country to handle all !y itself.9 >er %eer now a))eared faintly alarmed. 9Kh, >r. Arroway. Secretary 8it:4s suggestion isn4t all that unreasona!le. $t4s ery )ossi!le we4d !ring other nations in. All he4s as(ing is to tal( a!out it with us first. And that4s only if there4s a new message.9

%is tone was calming !ut not unctuous. She loo(ed at him closely again. >er %eer was not a )atently handsome man, !ut he had a (ind and intelligent face. %e was wearing a !lue suit and a cris) oxford shirt. %is seriousness and air of self-)ossession were moderated !y the warmth of his smile. 6hy, then, was he shilling for this Aer(5 "art of his Ao!5 Could it !e that 8it: was tal(ing sense5 9$t4s a remote contingency anyway.9 8it: sighed as he got to his feet. 9The Secretary of >efense would a))reciate your coo)eration.9 %e was trying to !e winning. 9Agreed59 93et me thin( a!out it,9 she re)lied, ta(ing his )roffered hand as if it were a dead fish. 9$4ll !e along in a few minutes, Mi(e,9 der %eer said cheerfully. %is hand on the lintel of the door, 8it: had an a))arent afterthought, remo ed a document from his inside !reast )oc(et, returned, and )laced it gingerly on the corner of her des(. 9Oh yes, $ forgot. %ere4s a co)y of the %adden >ecision. .ou )ro!a!ly (now it. $t4s a!out the go ernment4s right to classify material ital to the security of the Knited States. & en if it didn4t originate in a classified facility.9 9.ou want to classify the )rime num!ers59 she as(ed, her eyes wide in moc( incredulity. 9See you outside, 8en.9 She !egan tal(ing the moment 8it: left her office. 96hat4s he after5 *egan death rays5 6orld !lower-u))ers5 6hat4s this really a!out59 9%e4s Aust !eing )rudent, &llie. $ can see you don4t thin( that4s the whole story. O(ay. Su))ose there4s some message--you (now, with real content--and in it there4s something offensi e to Muslims, say, or to Methodists. Shouldn4t we release it carefully, so the Knited States

doesn4t get a !lac( eye59 98en, don4t !ullshit me. That man is an Assistant Secretary of >efense. $f they4re worried a!out Muslims and Methodists, they would ha e sent me an Assistant Secretary of State, or--$ don4t (now--one of those religious fanatics who )reside at )residential )rayer !rea(fasts. .ou4re the "resident4s Science Ad iser. 6hat did you ad ise her59 9$ ha en4t ad ised her anything. Since $4 e !een here, $4 e only tal(ed to her once, !riefly, on the )hone. And $4ll !e fran( with you, she didn4t gi e me any instructions a!out classification. $ thought what 8it: said was way off !ase. $ thin( he4s acting on his own.9 96ho is he59 9As far as $ (now, he4s a lawyer. %e was a to) executi e in the electronics industry !efore Aoining the Administration. %e really (nows C-$, !ut that doesn4t ma(e him (nowledgea!le a!out anything else.9 98en, $ trust you. $ !elie e you didn4t set me u) for this %adden >ecision threat.9 She wa ed the document in front of her and )aused, see(ing his eyes. 9>o you (now that >rumlin thin(s there4s another message in the )olari:ation59 9$ don4t understand.9 9@ust a few hours ago, >a e finished a rough statistical study of the )olari:ation. %e4s re)resented the Sto(es )arameters !y "oin-carQ s)heresC there4s a nice mo ie of them arying in time.9 >er %eer loo(ed at her !lan(ly. >on4t !iologists use )olari:ed light in their microsco)es5 she as(ed herself. 96hen a wa e of light comes at you-- isi!le light, radio light, any (ind of

light--it4s i!rating at right angles to your line of sight. $f that i!ration rotates, the wa e is said to !e elli)tically )olari:ed. $f it rotates cloc(wise, the )olari:ation is called right-handedC countercloc(wise, it4s left-handed. $ (now it4s a dum! designation. Anyway, !y arying !etween the two (inds of )olari:ation, you could transmit information. A little right )olari:ation and that4s a :eroC a little left and it4s a one. Follow5 $t4s )erfectly )ossi!le. 6e ha e am)litude modulation and freBuency modulation, !ut our ci ili:ation, !y con ention, ordinarily Aust doesn4t do )olari:ation modulation. 96ell, the *ega signal loo(s as if it has )olari:ation modulating. 6e4re !usy chec(ing it out right now. 7ut >a e found that there wasn4t an eBual amount of the two sorts of )olari:ation. $t wasn4t left )olari:ed as much as it was right )olari:ed. $t4s Aust )ossi!le that there4s another message in the )olari:ation that we4 e missed so far. That4s why $4m sus)icious a!out your friend. 8it: isn4t Aust gi ing me general gratuitous ad ice. %e (nows we may !e onto something else.9 9&llie, ta(e it easy. .ou4 e hardly sle)t for four days. .ou4 e !een Auggling the science, the administration, and the )ress. .ou4 e already made one of the maAor disco eries of the century, and if $ understand you right, you might !e on the erge of something e en more im)ortant. .ou4 e got e ery right to !e a little on edge. And threatening to militari:e the )roAect was clumsy of 8it:. $ don4t ha e any trou!le understanding why you4re sus)icious of him. 7ut there4s some sense to what he says.9 9>o you (now the man59 9$4 e !een in a few meetings with him. $ can hardly say $ (now him. &llie, if there4s a )ossi!ility of a real message coming in, wouldn4t it !e a good idea to thin out the crowd a little59 9Sure. 'i e me a hand with some of the 6ashington deadwood.9 9O(ay. And if you lea e that document on your des(, someone4ll !e in here and

draw the wrong conclusion. 6hy don4t you )ut it away somewhere59 9.ou4re going to hel)59 9$f the situation stays anything li(e what it is now, $4ll hel). 6e4re not going to ma(e our !est effort if this thing gets classified.9 Smiling, &llie (nelt !efore her small office safe, and )unched in the six-digit com!ination, -+F+,0. She too( one last glance at the document that was titled in large !lac( letters T%& KN$T&> STAT&S *S. %A>>&N C.7&#N&T$CS, and loc(ed it away. = = = $t was a grou) of a!out thirty )eo)le--technicians and scientists associated with "roAect Argus, a few senior go ernment officials, including the >e)uty >irector of the >efense $ntelligence Agency in ci ilian clothes. Among them were *alerian, >rumlin, 8it:, and der %eer. &llie was the only woman. They had set u) a large tele ision )roAection system, focused on a two-meter-!y-two-meter screen set flush against the far wall. &llie was simultaneously addressing the grou) and the decry)tion )rogram, her fingers on the (ey!oard !efore her. 9O er the years we4 e )re)ared for the com)uter decry)tion of many (inds of )ossi!le messages. 6e4 e Aust learned from >r. >rumlin4s analysis that there4s information in the )olari:ation modulation. All that frenetic switching !etween left and right means something. $t4s not random noise. $t4s as if you4re fli))ing a coin. Of course, you ex)ect as many heads as tails, !ut instead you get twice as many heads as tails. so you conclude that the coin is loaded or, in our case, that the )olari:ation modulation isn4t randomC it has content.... Oh, loo( at this. 6hat the com)uter has Aust now told us is e en more interesting. The )recise seBuence of heads and tails re)eats. $t4s a long seBuence, so it4s a )retty com)lex message, and the transmitting ci ili:ation must want us to !e sure to get it right.

9%ere, you see5 This is the re)eating message. 6e4re now into the first re)etition. & ery !it of information, e ery dot and dash--if you want to thin( of them that way--is identical to what it was in the last !loc( of data. Now we analy:e the total num!er of !uts. $t4s a num!er in the tens of !illions. O(ay, !ingoP $t4s the )roduct of three )rime num!ers.9 Although >rumlin and *alerian were !oth !eaming, it seemed to &llie they were ex)eriencing Buite different emotions. 9So what5 6hat do some more )rime num!ers mean59 a isitor from 6ashington as(ed. 9$t means--may!e--that we4re !eing sent a )icture. .ou see, this message is made of a large num!er of !its of information. Su))ose that large num!er is the )roduct of three smaller num!ersC it4s a num!er times a num!er times a num!er. So there4s three dimensions to the message. $4d guess either it4s a single static three-dimensional )icture li(e a stationary hologram, or it4s a two-dimensional )icture that changes with time--a mo ie. 3et4s assume it4s a mo ie. $f it4s a hologram, it4ll ta(e us longer to dis)lay anyway. 6e4 e got an ideal decry)tion algorithm for this one.9 On the screen, they made out an indistinct mo ing )attern com)osed of )erfect whites and )erfect !lac(s. 96illie, )ut in some gray inter)olation )rogram, would you5 Anything reasona!le. And try rotating it a!out ninety degrees countercloc(wise.9 9>r. Arroway, there seems to !e an auxiliary side!and channel. May!e it4s the audio to go with the mo ie.9 9"unch it u).9 The only other )ractical a))lication of )rime num!ers she could thin( of was

)u!lic-(ey cry)togra)hy, now widely used in commercial and national security contexts. One a))lication was to ma(e a message clear to dummiesC the other was to (ee) a message hidden from the tolera!ly intelligent. &llie scanned the faces !efore her. 8it: loo(ed uncomforta!le. "erha)s he was antici)ation some alien in ader or, worse, the design drawings of a wea)on too secret for her staff to !e trusted with. 6illie loo(ed ery earnest and was swallowing o er and o er again. A )icture is different from mere num!ers. The )ossi!ility of a isual message was clearly rousing unexamined fears and fantasies in the hearts of many of the onloo(ers. >er %eer had a wonderful ex)ression on his faceC for the moment he seemed much less the official, the !ureaucrat, the )residential ad iser, and much more the scientist. The )icture, still unintelligi!le, was Aoined !y a dee) rum!ling glissando of sounds, sliding first u) and then down the audio s)ectrum until it gra itated to rest somewhere around the octa e !elow middle C. Slowly the grou) !ecame aware of faint !ut swelling music. The )icture rotated, rectified, and focused. &llie found herself staring at a !lac(-and-white grainy image of... a massi e re iewing stand adorned with an immense art deco eagle. Clutched in the eagle4s concrete talons... 9%oaxP $t4s a hoaxP9 There were cries of astonishment, incredulity, laughter, mild hysteria. 9>on4t you see5 .ou4 e !een hoodwin(ed,9 >rumlin was saying to her almost con ersationally. %e was smiling. 9$t4s an ela!orate )ractical Ao(e. .ou4 e !een wasting the time of e ery!ody here.9 Clutched in the eagle4s concrete talons, she could now see clearly, was a swasti(a. The camera :oomed in a!o e the eagle to find the smiling face of Adolf %itler, wa ing to a rhythmically chanting crowd. %is uniform, de oid of military decorations, con eyed a modest sim)licity. The dee) !aritone oice of an

announcer, scratchy !ut unmista(a!ly s)ea(ing 'erman, filled the room. >er %eer mo ed toward her. 9>o you (now 'erman59 she whis)ered. 96hat4s it saying59 9The Fuehrer,9 he translated slowly, 9welcomes the world to the 'erman Fatherland for the o)ening of the +0-G Olym)ic 'ames.9 C%A"T&# G "alim)sest And if the 'uardians are not ha))y, who else can !e5 -A#$STOT3& The "olitics 7oo( D, Cha)ter , As the )lane reached cruising altitude, with Al!uBuerBue already more than a hundred miles !ehind them, &llie idly glanced at the small white card!oard rectangle im)rinted with !lue letters that had !een sta)led to her airline tic(et en elo)e. $t read, in language unchanged since her first commercial flight, 9This is not the luggage tic(et /!aggage chec(2 descri!ed !y Article F of the 6arsaw Con ention.9 6hy were the airlines so worried, she wondered, that )assengers might mista(e this )iece of card!oard for the 6arsaw Con ention tic(et5 6hy had she ne er seen one5 6here were they storing them5 $n some forgotten (ey e ent in the history of a iation, an inattenti e airline must ha e forgotten to )rint this ca eat on card!oard rectangles and was sued into !an(ru)tcy !y irate )assengers la!oring under the misa))rehension that this was the 6arsaw luggage tic(et. >ou!tless there were sound financial reasons for this worldwide concern, ne er otherwise articulated, a!out which )ieces of card!oard are not descri!ed !y the 6arsaw Con ention. $magine, she thought, all those cumulati e lines of ty)e de oted instead to something useful-the history of world ex)loration, say, or incidental facts of science, or e en the a erage num!er of )assenger miles until your air)lane crashed. $f she had acce)ted der %eer4s offer of a military air)lane, she would !e ha ing other casual associations. 7ut that would ha e !een far too co:y, )erha)s some a)erture leading to an e entual

militari:ation of the )roAect. They had )referred to tra el !y commercial carrier. *alerian4s eyes were already closed as he finished settling into the seat !eside her. There had !een no )articular hurry, e en after ta(ing care of those last-minute details on the data analysis, with the hint that the second layer of the onion was a!out to un)eel. They had !een a!le to ma(e a commercial flight that would arri e in 6ashington well !efore tomorrow4s meetingC in fact, in )lenty of time for a good night4s slee). She glanced at the telefax system neatly :i))ed into a leather carrying case under the seat in front of her. $t was se eral hundred (ilo!its )er second faster than "eter4s old model and dis)layed much !etter gra)hics. 6ell, may!e tomorrow she would ha e to use it to ex)lain to the "resident of the Knited States what Adolf %itler was doing on *ega. She was, she admitted to herself, a little ner ous a!out the meeting. She had ne er met a "resident !efore, and !y late-twentieth-century standards, this one wasn4t half !ad. She hadn4t had time to get her hair done, much less a facial. Oh well, she wasn4t going to the 6hite %ouse to !e loo(ed at. 6hat would her ste)father thin(5 >id he still !elie e she was unsuited for science5 Or her mother, now confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home5 She had managed only one !rief )hone call to her mother since the disco ery o er a wee( ago, and )romised herself to call again tomorrow. As she had done a hundred times !efore, she )eered out the air)lane window and imagined what im)ression the &arth would ma(e on an extraterrestrial o!ser er, at this cruising altitude of twel e or fourteen (ilometers, and assuming the alien had eyes something li(e ours. There were ast areas of the Midwest intricately geometri:ed with sBuared, rectangles, and circles !y those with agricultural or ur!an )redilectionsC and, as here, ast areas of the Southwest in which the only sign of intelligent life was an occasional straight line heading !etween mountains and across deserts. Are the worlds of more ad anced ci ili:ations totally geometri:ed, entirely re!uilt !y their inha!itants5 Or would the signature of a really ad anced ci ili:ation !e that they left no sign at all5 6ould they !e a!le to tell in one swift glance )recisely

which stage we were in some great cosmic e olutionary seBuence in the de elo)ment of intelligent !eings5 6hat else could they tell5 From the !lueness of the s(y, they could ma(e a rough estimate of 3oschmidt4s Num!er, how many molecules there were in a cu!ic centimeter at sea le el. A!out three times ten to the nineteenth. They could easily tell the altitudes of the clouds from the length of their shadows on the ground. $f they (new that the clouds were condensed water, they could roughly calculate the tem)erature la)se rate of the atmos)here, !ecause the tem)erature had to fall to a!out minus forty degrees Centigrade at the altitude of the highest clouds she could see. The erosion of landforms, the dendritic )atterns and ox!ows of ri ers, the )resence of la(es and !attered olcanic )lugs all s)o(e of an ancient !attle !etween land-forming and erosional )rocesses. #eally, you could see at a glance that this was an antiBue )lanet with a !rand new ci ili:ation. Most of the )lanets in the 'alaxy would !e enera!le and )retechnical, may!e e en lifeless. A few would har!or ci ili:ations much older than ours. 6orlds with technical ci ili:ations Aust !eginning to emerge must !e s)ectacularly rare. $t was )ro!a!ly the only Buality fundamentally uniBue a!out the &arth. Through lunch, the landsca)e slowly turned erdant as they a))roached the Mississi))i *alley. There was hardly any sense of motion in modern air tra el, &llie thought. She loo(ed at "eter4s still slee)ing formC he had reAected with some indignation the )ros)ect of an airline lunch. 7eyond him, across the aisle, was a ery young human !eing, )erha)s three months old, comforta!ly nestled in its father4s arms. 6hat was an infant4s iew of air tra el5 .ou go to a s)ecial )lace, wal( into a large room with seats in it, and sit down. The room rum!les and sha(es for four hours. Then you get u) and wal( off. Magically, you4re somewhere else. The means of trans)ortation seems o!scure to you, !ut the !asic idea is easy to gras), and )recocious mastery of the Na ier-Sto(es eBuations is not reBuired. $t was late afternoon when they circled 6ashington, awaiting )ermission to land. She could ma(e

out, !etween the 6ashington Monument and the 3incoln Memorial, a ast crowd of )eo)le. $t was, she had read only an hour earlier in the Times telefax, a massi e rally of !lac( Americans )rotesting economic dis)arities and educational ineBuities. Considering the Austice of their grie ances, she thought, they had !een ery )atient. She wondered how the "resident would res)ond to the rally and to the *ega transmission, on !oth of which some official )u!lic comment would ha e to !e made tomorrow. = = = 96hat do you mean, 8en, ?They get out459 9$ mean, Ms. "resident, that our tele ision signals lea e this )lanet and go out into s)ace.9 9@ust exactly how far do they go59 96ith all due res)ect, Ms. "resident, it doesn4t wor( that way.9 96ell, how does it wor(59 9The signals s)read out from the &arth in s)herical wa es, a little li(e ri))les in a )ond. They tra el at the s)eed of light--+1G,HHH miles a second--and essentially go on fore er. The !etter some other ci ili:ation4s recei ers are, the farther away they could !e and still )ic( u) our T* signals. & en we could detect a strong T* transmission from a )lanet going around the nearest star.9 For a moment, the "resident stood ramrod straight, staring out the French doors into the #ose 'arden. She turned toward der %eer. 9.ou mean... e erything59 & erything.9 9.ou mean to say, all that cra) on tele ision5 The car crashes5 6restling5 The )orno channels5 The e ening news59

9& erything, Ms. "resident.9 >er %eer shoo( his head in sym)athetic consternation. 9>er %eer, do $ understand you correctly5 >oes this mean that all my )ress conferences, my de!ates, my inaugural address, are out there59 9That4s the good news, Ms. "resident. The !ad news is, so are all the tele ision a))earances of your )redecessor. And >ic( Nixon. And the So iet leadershi). And so are a lot of nasty things your o))onent said a!out you. $t4s a mixed !lessing.9 9My 'od. O(ay, go on.9 The "resident had turned away from the French doors and was now a))arently )reoccu)ied in examining a mar!le !ust of Tom "aine, newly restored from the !asement of the Smithsonian $nstitution, where it had !een consigned !y the )re ious incum!ent. 93oo( at it this way< Those few minutes of tele ision from *ega were originally !roadcast in +0-G, at the o)ening of the Olym)ic 'ames in 7erlin. & en though it was only shown in 'ermany, it was the first tele ision transmission on &arth with e en moderate )ower. Knli(e the ordinary radio transmission in the thirties, those T* signals got through our ionos)here and tric(led out into s)ace. 6e4re trying to find out exactly what was transmitted !ac( then, !ut it4ll )ro!a!ly ta(e some time. May!e that welcome from %itler is the only fragment of the transmission they were a!le to )ic( u) on *ega. 9So from their )oint of iew, %itler is the first sign of intelligent life on &arth. $4m not trying to !e ironic. They don4t (now what the transmission means, so they record it and transmit it !ac( to us. $t4s a way of saying ?%ello, we heard you.4 $t seems to me a )retty friendly gesture.9 9Then you say there wasn4t any tele ision !roadcasting until after the Second 6orld 6ar59 9Nothing to s)ea( of. There was a local !roadcast in &ngland on the coronation of 'eorge the Sixth, a few things li(e that. 7ig time tele ision transmission !egan in the

late forties. All those )rograms are lea ing the &arth at the s)eed of light. $magine the &arth is here9--der %eer gestured in the air--9and there4s a little s)herical wa e running away from it at the s)eed of light, starting out in +0-G. $t (ee)s ex)anding and receding from the &arth. Sooner or later, it reaches the nearest ci ili:ation. They seem to !e sur)risingly close, only twenty-six years for the 7erlin Olym)ics to return to &arth. So the *egans didn4t ta(e decades to figure it out. They must ha e !een )retty much tuned, all set u), ready to go, waiting for our first tele ision signals. They detect them, record them, and after a while )lay them !ac( to us. 7ut unless they4 e already !een here--you (now, some sur ey mission a hundred years ago-they couldn4t ha e (nown we were a!out to in ent tele ision. So >r. Arroway thin(s this ci ili:ation is monitoring all the near!y )lanetary systems, to see if any of its neigh!ors de elo) high technology.9 98en, there4s a lot of things her to thin( a!out. Are you sure those--what do you call them, *egans5--you sure they don4t understand what that tele ision )rogram was a!out59 9Ms. "resident, there4s no dou!t they4re smart. That was a ery wea( signal in +0-G. Their detectors ha e to !e fantastically sensiti e to )ic( it u). 7ut $ don4t see how they could )ossi!ly understand what it means. They )ro!a!ly loo( ery different from us. They must ha e different history, different customs. There4s no way for them to (now what a swasti(a is or who Adolf %itler was.9 9Adolf %itlerP 8en, it ma(es me furious. Forty million )eo)le die to defeat that megalomaniac, and he4s the star of the first !roadcast to another ci ili:ation5 %e4s re)resenting us. And them. $t4s that madman4s wildest dream come true.9 She )aused and continued in a calmer oice. 9.ou (now, $ ne er thought %itler could manage that %itler salute. %e ne er ga e it straight on, it was always s(ewed at some wac(o angle. And then there was that fruity !ent el!ow salute. $f anyone else had done his %eil %itlers so incom)etently he would4 e !een sent to the #ussian front.9

97ut isn4t there a difference5 %e was only returning the salutes of others. %e wasn4t %eiling %itler.9 9Oh yes he was,9 returned the "resident and, with a gesture, ushered der %eer out of the #ose #oom and down a corridor. Suddenly she sto))ed and regarded her Science Ad iser. 96hat if the Na:is didn4t ha e tele ision in +0-G5 Then what would ha e ha))ened59 96ell, then $ su))ose it would !e the coronation of 'eorge the Sixth, or one of the transmissions a!out the New .or( 6orld4s Fair in +0-0, if any of them were strong enough to !e recei ed on *ega. Or some )rograms from the late forties, early fifties. .ou (now, %owdy >oody, Milton 7erle, the ArmyMcCarthy hearings--all those mar elous signs of intelligent life on &arth.9 9Those goddamn )rograms are our am!assadors into s)ace... the &missary from &arth.9 She )aused a moment to sa or the )hrase. 96ith an am!assador, you4re su))osed to )ut your !est foot forward, and we4 e !een sending mainly cra) to s)ace for forty years. $4d li(e to see the networ( executi es come to gri)s with this one. And that madman %itler, that4s the first news they ha e a!out &arth5 6hat are they going to thin( of us59 = = = As der %eer and the "resident entered the Ca!inet #oom, those who had !een standing in small grou)s fell silent, and some who had !een seated made efforts to stand. 6ith a )erfunctory gesture, the "resident con eyed a )reference for informality and casually greeted the Secretary of State and an Assistant Secretary of >efense. 6ith a slow and deli!erate turn of the head, she scanned the grou). Some returned her ga:e ex)ectantly. Others, detecting an ex)ression of minor annoyance on the "resident4s face, a erted their eyes. 98en, isn4t that astronomer of yours here5 Arrowsmith5 Arrowroot59

9Arroway, Ms. "resident. She and >r. *alerian arri ed last night. May!e they4 e !een held u) in traffic.9 9>r. Arroway called from her hotel, Ms. "resident,9 olunteered a meticulously groomed young man. 9She said there were some new data coming through on her telefax, and she wanted to !ring it to this meeting. 6e4re su))osed to start without her.9 Michael 8it: leaned forward, his tone and ex)ression incredulous. 9They4re transmitting new data on this su!Aect o er an o)en tele)hone, insecure, in a 6ashington hotel room59 >er %eer res)onded so softly that 8it: had to lean still further forward to hear. 9Mi(e, $ thin( there4s at least commercial encry)tion on her telefax. 7ut remem!er there are no security guidelines esta!lished in this matter. $4m sure that >r. Arroway will !e coo)erati e if guidelines are esta!lished.9 9All right, let4s !egin,9 said the "resident. 9This is a Aoint informal meeting of the National Security Council and what for the time !eing we4re calling the S)ecial Contingency Tas( 'rou). $ want to im)ress on all of you that nothing said in this room--$ mean nothing--is to !e discussed with anyone who isn4t here, exce)t for the Secretary of >efense and the *ice "resident, who are o erseas. .esterday, >r. der %eer ga e most of you a !riefing on this un!elie a!le T* )rogram from the star *ega. $t4s the iew of >r. der %eer and others9--she loo(ed around the ta!le--9that it4s Aust a flu(e that the first tele ision )rogram to get to *ega starred Adolf %itler. 7ut it4s... an em!arrassment. $4 e as(ed the >irector of Central $ntelligence to )re)are an assessment of any national security im)lications in all of this. $s there any direct threat from whoe er the hell is sending this5 Are we going to !e in trou!le if there4s some new message, and some other country decodes it first5 7ut first let me as(, Mar in, does this ha e anything to do with flying saucers59 The >irector of Central $ntelligence, an authoritati e man in late middle age,

wearing steel-rimmed glasses, summari:ed. Knidentified Flying O!Aects, called KFO4s, ha e !een of intermittent concern to the C$A and the Air Force, es)ecially in the 4,Hs and 4GHs, in )art !ecause rumors a!out them might !e a means for hostile )ower to s)read confusion or to o erload communications channels. A few of the more relia!ly re)orted incidents turned out to !e )enetrations of K.S. air s)ace or o erflights of K.S. o erseas !ases !y high-)erformance aircraft from the So iet Knion or Cu!a. Such o erflights are a common means of testing a )otential ad ersary4s readiness, and the Knited States had more than its fair share of )enetrations, and feints at )enetration, of So iet air s)ace. A Cu!an Mi' )enetrating DHH miles u) the Mississi))i 7asin !efore !eing detected was considered undesira!le )u!licity !y NO#A>. The routine )rocedure had !een for the Air Force to deny that any of its aircraft were in the icinity of the KFO sighting, and to olunteer nothing a!out unauthori:ed )enetrations, thus solidifying )u!lic mystification. At these ex)lanations, the Air Force Chief of Staff loo(ed marginally uncomforta!le !ut said nothing. The great maAority of KFO re)orts, the >C$ continued, were natural o!Aects misa))rehended !y the o!ser er. Kncon entional or ex)erimental aircraft, automo!ile headlights reflected off o ercast, !alloons, !irds, luminescent insects, e en )lanets and stars seen under unusual atmos)heric conditions, had all !een re)orted as KFO4s. A significant num!er of re)orts turned out to !e hoaxes or real )sychiatric delusions. There had !een more than a million KFO sightings re)orted worldwide since the term 9flying saucer9 had !een in ented in the late 4FHs, and not one of them seemed on good e idence to !e connected with an extraterrestrial isitation. 7ut the idea generated )owerful emotions, and there were fringe grou)s and )u!lications, and e en some academic scientists, that (e)t ali e the su))osed connection !etween KFO4s and life on other worlds. #ecent millenarian doctrine included its share of saucer-!orne extraterrestrial redeemers. The official Air Force in estigation, called in one of its final incarnations "roAect 7lue 7oo(, had !een closed down in the 4GHs for lac( of )rogress, although a low-le el continuing interest had !een maintained Aointly !y the Air Force and the C$A. The scientific community had !een so con inced there was nothing to it that when @immy Carter reBuested the National Aeronautics and S)ace Administration to ma(e

a com)rehensi e study of KFO4s, NASA uncharacteristically refused a )residential reBuest. 9$n fact,9 interAected one of the scientists at the ta!le, unfamiliar with the )rotocol in meetings such as this, 9the KFO !usiness has made it more difficult to do serious S&T$ wor(.9 9All right.9 The "resident sighed. 9$s there any!ody around this ta!le who thin(s KFO4s and this signal from *ega ha e anything to do with each other59 >er %eer ins)ected his fingernails. No one s)o(e. 9@ust the same, there4s going to !e an awful lot of $-told-you-so4s from the KFO yo-yos. Mar in, why don4t you continue59 9$n +0-G, Ms. "resident, a ery faint tele ision signal transmits the o)ening ceremonies of the Olym)ic 'ames to a handful of tele ision recei ers in the 7erlin area. $t4s an attem)t at a )u!lic relations cou). $t shows the )rogress and su)eriority of 'erman technology. There were a few earlier T* transmissions, !ut all at ery low )ower le els. Actually, we did it !efore the 'ermans. Secretary of Commerce %er!ert %oo er made a !rief tele ision a))earance on... A)ril twentyse enth, +0D;. Anyway, the 'erman signal lea es the &arth at the s)eed of light, and twenty-six years later it arri es on *ega. They sit on the signal for a few years--whoe er ?they4 are--and then send it !ac( to us hugely am)lified. Their a!ility to recei e that ery wea( signal is im)ressi e, and their a!ility to return it at such high )ower le els is im)ressi e. There certainly are security im)lications here. The electronic intelligence community, for exam)le, would li(e to (now how such wea( signals can !e detected. Those )eo)le, or whate er they are, on *ega are certainly more ad anced than we are--may!e only a few decades further along, !ut may!e much further along than that. 9They4 e gi en us no other information a!out themsel es--exce)t at some freBuencies the transmitted signal doesn4t show the >o))ler effect from the motion of their )lanet around their star. They4 e sim)lified that data reduction ste) for us. They4re... hel)ful. So far, nothing

of military or any other interest has !een recei ed. All they4 e !een saying is that they4re good at radio astronomy, they li(e )rime num!ers, and they can return our first T* transmission !ac( to us. $t couldn4t hurt for any other nation to (now that. And remem!er< All those other countries are recei ing this same three-minute %itler cli), o er and o er again. They Aust ha en4t figured out how to read it yet. The #ussians or the 'ermans or someone is li(ely to tum!le to this )olari:ation modulation sooner or later. My )ersonal im)ression, Ms. "resident--$ don4t (now if State agrees--is that it would !e !etter if we released it to the world !efore we4re accused of co ering something u). $f the situation remains static--with no !ig change from where we are right now-we could thin( a!out ma(ing a )u!lic announcement, or e en releasing that threeminute film cli). 9$ncidentally, we ha en4t !een a!le to find any record from 'erman archi es of what was in that original !roadcast. 6e can4t !e a!solutely sure that the )eo)le on *ega ha en4t made some change in the content !efore sending it !ac( to us. 6e can recogni:e %itler, all right, and the )art of the Olym)ic stadium we see corres)onds accurately to 7erlin in +0-G. 7ut if at that moment %itler had really !een scratching his mustache instead of smiling as in that transmission, we4d ha e no way to (now.9 &llie arri ed slightly !reathless, followed !y *alerian. They attem)ted to ta(e o!scure chairs against the wall, !ut der %eer noticed and directed the "resident4s attention to them. 9>r. arrow-uh-way5 $4m glad to see you4 e arri ed safely. First, let me congratulate you on a s)lendid disco ery. S)lendid. Km, Mar in...9 9$4 e reached a sto))ing )oint, Ms. "resident.9 9'ood. >r. Arroway, we understand you ha e something new. 6ould you care to tell us a!out it59 9Ms. "resident, sorry to !e late, !ut $ thin( we4 e Aust hit the cosmic Aac()ot. 6e4 e.. $t4s... 3et me

try and ex)lain it this way< $n classical times, thousands of years ago, when )archment was in short su))ly, )eo)le would write o er an old )archment, ma(ing what4s called a )alim)sest. There was writing under writing under writing. This signal from *ega is, of course, ery strong. As you (now, there4s the )rime num!ers, and ?underneath4 them, in what4s called )olari:ation modulation, this eerie %itler !usiness. 7ut underneath the seBuence of )rime num!ers and underneath the retransmitted Olym)ic !roadcast, we4 e Aust unco ered an incredi!ly rich message--at least we4re )retty sure it4s a message. As far as we can tell, it4s !een there all along. 6e4 e Aust detected it. $t4s wea(er than the announcement signal, !ut $4m em!arrassed we didn4t find it sooner.9 96hat does it say59 the "resident as(ed. 96hat4s it a!out59 96e ha en4t the foggiest idea, Ms. "resident. Some of the )eo)le at "roAect Argus tum!led to it early this morning 6ashington time. 6e4 e !een wor(ing on it all night.9 9O er an o)en )hone59 as(ed 8it:. 96ith standard commercial encry)tion.9 &llie loo(ed a little flushed. O)ening her telefax case, she Buic(ly generated a trans)arency )rintout and, when an o erhead )roAector, cast its image against a screen. 9%ere4s all we (now u) to now< 6e4ll get a !loc( of information com)rising a!out a thousand !its. There4ll !e a )ause, and then the same !loc( will !e re)eated, !it for !it. Then there4ll !e another )ause, and we4ll go on to the next !loc(. $t4s re)eated as well. The re)etition of e ery !loc( is )ro!a!ly to minimi:e transmission errors. They must thin( it4s ery im)ortant that we get whate er it is they4re saying down accurately. Now, let4s call each of these !loc(s of information a )age. Argus is )ic(ing u) a few do:en of these )ages a day. 7ut we don4t (now what they4re a!out. They4re not a sim)le )icture code li(e the Olym)ic message. This is something much dee)er and much richer. $t a))ears to !e, for the first time, information they4 e generated. The only clue we ha e so far is that the )ages seem to !e num!ered. At the

!eginning of e ery )age there4s a num!er in !inary arithmetic. See this one here5 And e ery time another )air of identical )ages shows u), it4s la!eled with the next higher num!er. #ight now we4re on )age... +H,F+-. $t4s a !ig !oo(. Calculating !ac(, it seems that the message !egan a!out three months ago. 6e4re luc(y to ha e )ic(ed it u) as early as we did.9 9$ was right, wasn4t $59 8it: leaned across the ta!le to der %eer. 9This isn4t the (ind of message you want to gi e to the @a)anese or the Chinese or the #ussians, is it59 9$s it going to !e easy to figure out59 the "resident as(ed o er the whis)ering 8it:. 96e will, of course, ma(e out !est efforts. And it )ro!a!ly would !e useful to ha e the National Security Agency wor( on it also. 7ut without an ex)lanation from *ega, without a )rimer, my guess is that we4re not going to ma(e much )rogress. $t certainly doesn4t seem to !e written in &nglish or 'erman or any other &arthly language. Our ho)e is that the Message will come to an end, may!e on )age DH,HHH or )age -H,HHH, and then start right o er from the !eginning, so we4ll !e a!le to fill in the missing )arts. May!e !efore the whole Message re)eats, there4ll !e a )rimer, a (ind of Mc'uffey4s #eader, that will ena!le us to understand the Message.9 9$f $ may, Ms. "resident--9 9Ms. "resident, this is >r. "eter *alerian of the California $nstitute of Technology, one of the )ioneers in this field.9 9"lease go ahead, >r. *alerian.9 9This is an intentional transmission to us. They (now we4re here. They ha e some idea, from ha ing interce)ted out +0-G !roadcast, of where our technology is, of how smart we are. They wouldn4t !e going to all this trou!le if they didn4t want us to understand the Message. Somewhere in there is the (ey to

hel) us understand it. $t4s only a Buestion of accumulating all the data and analy:ing it ery carefully.9 96ell, what do you su))ose the Message is a!out59 9$ don4t see any way to tell, Ms. "resident. $ can only re)eat what >r. Arroway said. $t4s an intricate and com)lex Message. The transmitting ci ili:ation is eager for us to recei e it. May!e all this is one small olume of the &ncyclo)edia 'alactica. The star *ega is a!out three times more massi e than the Sun and a!out fifty times !righter. 7ecause it !urns its nuclear fuel so fast, it has a much shorter lifetime than the Sun--9 May!e something4s a!out to go wrong on *ega,9 the >irector of Central $ntelligence interru)ted. 9May!e their )lanet will !e destroyed. May!e they want someone else to (now a!out their ci ili:ation !efore they4re wi)ed out.9 9Or,9 offered 8it:, 9may!e they4re loo(ing for a new )lace to mo e to, and the &arth would suit them Aust fine. May!e it4s no accident they chose to send us a )icture of Adolf %itler.9 9%old on,9 &llie said, 9there are a lot of )ossi!ilities, !ut not e erything is )ossi!le. There4s no way for the transmitting ci ili:ation to (now whether we4 e recei ed the Message, much less whether we4re ma(ing any )rogress in decoding it. $f we find the Message offensi e we4re not o!liged to re)ly. And e en if we did re)ly, it would !e twenty-six years !efore they recei ed the re)ly, and another twenty-six years !efore they can answer it. The s)eed of light is fast, !ut it4s not infinitely fast. 6e4re ery nicely Buarantined from *ega. And if there4s anything that worries us a!out this new Message, we ha e decades to decide what to do a!out it. 3et4s not )anic Buite yet.9 She enunciated these last words while offering a )leasant smile to 8it:. 9$ a))reciate those remar(s, >r. Arroway,9 returned the "resident. 97ut things are ha))ening fast.

Too damn fast. And there are too many may!es. $ ha en4t e en made a )u!lic announcement a!out all of this. Not e en the )rime num!ers, ne er mind the %itler !ullcra). Now we ha e to thin( a!out this ?!oo(4 you say they4re sending. And !ecause you scientists thin( nothing of tal(ing to each other, the rumors are flying. "hyllis, where4s that file5 %ere, loo( at these headlines.9 7randished successi ely at arm4s length, they all carried the same message, with minor ariations in Aournalistic artistry< 9S)ace >oc Says #adio Show from 7ug-&yed Monsters,9 9Astronomical Telegram %ints at &xtraterrestrial $ntelligence,9 9*oice from %ea en59 and 9The Aliens Are ComingP The Aliens Are ComingP 9She let the cli))ings flutter tot he ta!le. 9At least the %itler story hasn4t !ro(en yet. $4m waiting for those headlines< ?%itler Ali e and 6ell in S)ace, K.S. Says.4 And worse. Much worse. $ thin( we4d !etter curtail this meeting and recon ene later.9 9$f $ may, Ms. "resident,9 der %eer interru)ted haltingly, with e ident reluctance. 9$ !eg your )ardon, !ut there are some international im)lications that $ thin( ha e to !e raised now.9 The "resident merely exhaled, acBuiescing. >er %eer continued. 9Tell me if $ ha e this right, >r. Arroway. & ery day the star *ega rises o er the New Mexico desert, and then you get whate er )age of this com)lex transmission--whate er it is--they ha))en to !e sending to the &arth at the moment. Then, eight hours later or something, the star sets. #ight so far5 O(ay. Then the next day the star rises again in the east, !ut you4 e lost some )ages during the time you weren4t a!le to loo( at it, after it had set the )re ious night. #ight5 So it4s as if you were getting )ages thirty through fifty and then )ages eighty through a hundred, and so on. No matter how )atiently we o!ser e, we4re going to ha e enormous amounts of information missing. 'a)s. & en if the message e entually re)eats itself, we4re going to ha e ga)s.9

9That4s entirely right.9 &llie rose and a))roached an enormous glo!e of the world. & idently the 6hite %ouse was o))osed to the o!liBuity of the &arthC the axis of this glo!e was defiantly ertical. Tentati ely, she ga e it a s)in. 9The &arth turns. .ou need radio telesco)es distri!uted e enly o er many longitudes if you don4t want ga)s. Any one nation o!ser ing only from its own territory is going to di) into the message and di) out--may!e e en at the most interesting )arts. Now this is the same (ind of )ro!lem that an American inter)lanetary s)acecraft faces. $t !roadcasts its findings !ac( to &arth when it )asses !y some )lanet, !ut the Knited States might !e facing the other way at the time. So NASA has arranged for three radio trac(ing stations to !e distri!uted e enly in longitude around the &arth. O er the decades they4 e )erformed su)er!ly. 7ut...9 %er oice trailed off diffidently, and she loo(ed directly at ".3. 'arrison, the NASA Administrator. A thin, sallow, friendly man, he !lin(ed. 9Kh, than( you. .es. $t4s called the >ee) SRace Networ(, and we4re ery )roud of it. 6e ha e stations in the MoAa e >esert, in S)ain, and in Australia. Of course, we4re underfunded, !ut with a little hel), $4m sure we could get u) to s)eed.9 9S)ain and Australia59 the "resident as(ed. 9For )urely scientific wor(,9 the Secretary of State was saying, 9$4m sure there4s no )ro!lem. %owe er, if this research )rogram had )olitical o ertones, it might !e a little tric(y.9 American relations with !oth countries had !ecome cool of late. 9There4s no Buestion this has )olitical o ertones,9 the "resident re)lied a little testily. 97ut we don4t ha e to !e tied to the surface of the earth,9 interAected an Air Force general. 96e can !eat the rotation )eriod. All we need is a large radio telesco)e in &arth or!it.9

9All right.9 The "resident again glanced around the ta!le. 9>o we ha e a s)ace radio telesco)e5 %ow long would it ta(e to get one u)5 6ho (nows a!out this5 >r. 'arrison59 9Kh, no, Ms. "resident. 6e at NASA ha e su!mitted a )ro)osal for the Maxwell O!ser atory in each of the last three fiscal years, !ut OM7 has remo ed it from the !udget each time. 6e ha e a detailed design study, of course, !ut it would ta(e years--well, three years anyway-!efore we could get it u). And $ feel $ should remind e ery!ody that until last fall the #ussians had a wor(ing millimeter and su!millimeter wa e telesco)e in &arth or!it. 6e don4t (now why it failed, !ut they4d !e in a !etter )osition to send some cosmonauts u) to fix it than we4d !e to !uild and launch one from scratch.9 9That4s it59 the "resident as(ed. 9NASA has an ordinary telesco)e in s)ace !ut no !ig radio telesco)e. $sn4t there anything suita!le u) there already5 6hat a!out the intelligence community5 National Security Agency5 No!ody59 9So, Aust to follow this line of reasoning,9 der %eer said, 9it4s a strong signal and it4s on lots of freBuencies. After *ega sets o er the Knited States, there are radio telesco)es in half a do:en countries that are detecting and recording the signal. They4re not as so)histicated as "roAect Argus, and they )ro!a!ly ha en4t figured out the )olari:ation modulation yet. $f we wait to )re)are a s)ace radio telesco)e and launch it, the message might !e finished !y then, gone altogether. So doesn4t it follow that the only solution is immediate coo)eration with a num!er of other nations, >r. Arroway59 9$ don4t thin( any nation can accom)lish this )roAect alone. $t will reBuire many nations, s)read out in longitude, all the way around the &arth. $t will in ol e e ery maAor radio astronomy facility now in )lace--the !ig radio telesco)es in Australia, China, $ndia, the So iet Knion, the Middle &ast, and 6estern &uro)e. $t would !e irres)onsi!le if we wind u) with ga)s in the co erage !ecause some critical )art of the message came when there4s no telesco)e loo(ing at *ega. 6e4ll ha e to do something a!out the &astern "acific !etween %awaii and Australia, and may!e something a!out the Mid-Atlantic also.9

96ell,9 the >irector of Central $ntelligence res)onded grudgingly, 9the So iets ha e se eral satellite trac(ing shi)s that are good in S-!and through N-!and, the A(ademi( 8eldysh, for exam)le. Or the Marshal Nedelin. $f we ma(e some arrangement with them, they might !e a!le to station shi)s in the Atlantic or the "acific and fill in the ga)s.9 &llie )ursed her li)s to res)ond, !ut the "resident was already tal(ing. 9All right, 8en. .ou may !e right. 7ut $ say again this is mo ing too damn fast. There are some other things $ ha e to attend to right now. $4d a))reciate it if the >irector of Central $ntelligence and the national Security staff would wor( o ernight on whether we ha e any o)tions !esides coo)eration with other countries--es)ecially countries that aren4t our allies. $4d li(e the Secretary of State to )re)are, in coo)eration with the scientists, a contingency list of nations and indi iduals to !e a))roached if we ha e to coo)erate, and some assessment of the conseBuences. $s some nation going to !e mad at us if we don4t as( them to listen5 Can we !e !lac(mailed !y some!ody who )romises the data and then holds !ac(5 Should we try to get more than one country at each longitude5 6or( through the im)lications. And for 'od4s sa(e9-her eyes mo ed from face to face around the long )olished ta!le--9(ee) Buiet a!out this. .ou too, Arroway. 6e4 e got )ro!lems enough.9 C%A"T&# ; The &thanol in 6-No credence whate er is to !e gi en to the o)inion... that the demons act as messengers and inter)reters !etween the gods and men to carry all )etitions from us to the gods, and to !ring !ac( to us the hel) of the gods. On the contrary, we must !elie e them to !e s)irits most eager to inflict harm, utterly alien from righteousness, swollen with )ride, )ale with en y, su!tle in deceit... -AK'KST$N& The City of 'od, *$$$, DD That %eresies should arise, we ha e the )ro)hesie of

ChristC !ut that old ones should !e a!olished, we hod no )rediction. -T%OMAS 7#O6N& #eligio Medici, $, 1 /+GFD2 She had )lanned to meet *aygay4s )lane in Al!uBuerBue and dri e him !ac( to the Argus facility in the Thunder!ird. The rest of the So iet delegation would ha e tra eled in the o!ser atory cars. She would ha e enAoyed s)eeding to the air)ort in the cool dawn air, )erha)s again )ast an honor guard of ram)ant coneys. And she had !een antici)ating a long and su!stanti e )ri ate tal( with *aygay on the return. 7ut the new security )eo)le from the 'eneral Ser ices Administration had etoed the idea. Media attention and the )resident4s so!er announcement at the end of her )ress conference two wee(s !efore had !rought enormous crowds to the isolated desert site. There was a )otential for iolence, they had told &llie. She must in future tra el only in go ernment cars, and then only with discreetly armed escorts. Their little con oy was wending its way toward Al!uBuerBue at a )ace so so!er and res)onsi!le that she found her right foot of its own olition de)ressing an imaginary accelerator on the ru!!er mat !efore her. $t would !e good to s)end some time with *aygay again. She had last seen him in Moscow three years !efore, during one of those )eriods in which he was for!idden to isit the 6est. Authori:ation for foreign tra el had waxed and waned through the decades in res)onse to changing )olicy fashions and *aygay4s own un)redicta!le !eha ior. "ermission would !e denied him after some mild )olitical )ro ocation a!out which he seemed una!le to restrain himself, and then granted again when no one of com)ara!le a!ility could !e found to flesh out one or another scientific delegation. %e recei ed in itations from all o er the world for lectures, seminars, colloBuia, conferences, Aoint study grou)s, and a full mem!er of the So iet Academy of Sciences, he could afford to !e a little more inde)endent than most. %e often seemed )oised )recariously at the outer limits of the )atience and restraint of the go ernmental orthodoxy. %is full name was *asily 'regoro ich 3unachars(y, (nown throughout the glo!al community of )hysicists as *aygay after the initials of his first name and )atronymic. %is fluctuating and am!iguous

relations with the So iet regime )u::led her and others in the 6est. %e was a distant relati e of Anatoly *asilye ich 3unachars(y, an old 7olshe i( colleague of 'or(y, 3enin, and Trots(yC the elder 3unachars(y had later ser ed as "eo)le4s Commissar for &ducation and as So iet Am!assador to S)ain until his death in +0--. *aygay4s mother had !een @ewish. %e had, it was said, wor(ed on So iet nuclear wea)ons, although surely he was too young to ha e )layed much of a role in fashioning the first So iet thermonuclear ex)losion. %is institute was well staffed and well eBui))ed, and his scientific )roducti ity was )rodigious, indicating at most infreBuent distractions !y the committee for State Security. >es)ite the e!! and flow of )ermission for foreign tra el, he had !een a freBuent attendee at maAor international conferences including the 9#ochester9 sym)osia on high-energy )hysics, the 9Texas9 meeting on relati istic astro)hysics, and the informal !ut occasionally influential 9"ugwash9 scientific gatherings on ways of reducing international tension. $n the +0GHs, she had !een told, *aygay isited the Kni ersity of California at 7er(eley and was delighted with the )roliferation of irre erent, scatological, and )olitically outrageous slogans im)rinted on inex)ensi e !uttons. .ou could, she recalled with faint nostalgia, si:e u) someone4s most )ressing social concerns at a glance. 7uttons were also )o)ular and fiercely traded in the So iet Knion, !ut usually they cele!rated the 9>ynamo9 soccer team, or one of the successful s)acecraft of the 3una series, which had !een the first s)acecraft to land on the Moon. The 7er(eley !uttons were different. *aygay had !ought do:ens of them, !ut delighted in wearing one in )articular. $t was the si:e of his )alm and read, 9"ray for Sex.9 %e e en dis)layed it at scientific meetings. 6hen as(ed a!out its a))eal, he would say, 9$n your country, it is offensi e in only one way. $n my country, it is offensi e in two inde)endent ways.9 $f )ressed further, he would only comment that his famous 7olshe i( relati e had written a !oo( on the )lace of religion in a socialist society. Since then, his &nglish had im)ro ed enormously--much more than &llie4s #ussian--!ut his )ro)ensity for wearing offensi e la)el !uttons had, sadly, diminished.

Once, during a igorous discussion on the relati e merits of the two )olitical systems, &llie had !oasted that she had !een free to march in front of the 6hite %ouse )rotesting American in ol ement in the *ietnam 6ar. *aygay re)lied that in the same )eriod he had !een eBually free to march in front of the 8remlin )rotesting American in ol ement in the *ietnam 6ar. %e had ne er !een inclined, say, to )hotogra)h the gar!age scows !urdened with malodorous refuse and sBuaw(ing seagulls lum!ering in front of the Statue of 3i!erty, as another So iet scientist had when for fun she had escorted him on the Staten $sland ferry during a !rea( in a meeting in New .or( City. Nor had he, as had some of his colleagues, ardently )hotogra)hed the tum!le-down shanties and corrugated metal huts of the "uerto #ican )oor during a !us excursion from a luxurious !eachfront hotel to the Areci!o O!ser atory. To whom did they su!mit these )ictures5 &llie wondered. She conAured u) some ast 8'7 li!rary dedicated to the infelicities, inAustices, and contradictions of ca)italist society. >id it warm them, when disconsolate with some of the failures of So iet society, to !rowse through the fading sna)shots of their im)erfect American cousins5 There were many !rilliant scientists in the So iet Knion who, for un(nown offenses, had not !een )ermitted out of &astern &uro)e in decades. 8onstantino , for exam)le, had ne er !een to the 6est until the mid-+0GHs. 6hen, at an international meeting in 6arsaw--o er a ta!le encum!ered with do:ens of de)leted A:er!aiAani !randy snifters, their missions com)leted--8onstantino was as(ed why, he re)lied, 97ecause the !astards (now, they let me out, $ ne er come !ac(.9 Ne ertheless, they had let him out, sure enough, during the thaw in scientific relations !etween the two countries in the late 4GHs and early 4;Hs, and he had come !ac( e ery time. 7ut now they let him out no more, and he was reduced to sending his 6estern colleagues New .ear4s cards in which he )ortrayed himself forlornly crosslegged, head !owed, seated on a s)here !elow which was the Schwar:schild eBuation for the radius of a !lac( hole. %e was in a dee) )otential well, he would tell isitors to Moscow in the meta)hors of )hysics. They would ne er let him out

again. $n res)onse to Buestions, *aygay would say that the official So iet )osition was that the %ungarian re olution of +0,G had !een organi:ed !y cry)tofascists, and that the "rague S)ring of +0G1 was !rought a!out !y an unre)resentati e anti-socialist grou) in the leadershi). 7ut, he would add, if what he had !een told was mista(en, if these were genuine )o)ular u)risings, then his country had !een wrong in su))ressing them. On Afghanistan he did not e en !other Buoting the official Austifications. Once in his office at the $nstitute he had insisted on showing &llie his )ersonal shortwa e radio, on which were freBuencies la!eled 3ondon and "aris and 6ashington, neatly s)elled out in Cyrillic letters. %e was free, he told her, to listen to the )ro)aganda of all nations. There had !een a time when many of his fellows had surrendered to national rhetoric a!out the yellow )eril. 9$magine the entire frontier !etween China and the So iet Knion occu)ied !y Chinese soldiers, shoulder to shoulder, an in ading army, 9 on of them reBuested, challenging &llie4s )owers of imagination. They were standing around the samo ar in the >irector4s office at the $nstitute. 9%ow long would it !e, with the )resent Chinese !irthrate, !efore they all )assed o er the !order59 And the answer was )ronounced, in an unli(ely mix of dar( fore!oding and arithmetic delight, 9Ne er.9 6illiam #andol)h %earst would ha e felt at home. 7ut not 3unachars(y. Stationing so many Chinese soldiers on the frontier would automatically reduce the !irthrate, he arguedC their calculations were therefore in error. %e had )hrased it as thought eh misuse of mathematical models was the su!Aect of his disa))ro al, !ut few mistoo( his meaning. $n the worst of the Sino-So iet tensions, he had ne er, so far as &llie (new, allowed himself to !e swe)t u) in the endemic )aranoia and racism. &llie lo ed the samo ars and could understand the #ussian affection for them. Their 3una(hod, the successful unmanned lunar ro er that loo(ed li(e a !athtu! on wire wheels, seemed to her to ha e a little samo ar technology somewhere in its ancestry. *aygay had once ta(en her to see a model of 3una(hod in a s)rawling exhi!ition )ar( outside of Moscow on a s)lendid @une morning. There,

next to a !uilding dis)laying the wares and charms of the Tad:hi( Autonomous #e)u!lic, was a great hall filled to the rafters with full-scale models of So iet ci ilian s)ace ehicles. S)utni( +, the first or!ital s)acecraftC S)utni( D, the first s)acecraft to carry an animal, the dog 3ai(a, who died in s)aceC 3una D, the first s)acecraft to reach another celestial !odyC 3una -, the first s)acecraft to )hotogra)h the far side of the MoonC *enera ;, the first s)acecraft to land safely on another )lanetC and *osto( +, the first manned s)acecraft, that carried %ero of the So iet Knion Cosmonaut .uri A. 'agarin on a single or!it of the &arth. Outside, children were using the fins of the *osto( launch !ooster as slides, their )retty !lond curls and red 8omsomol nec(erchiefs flaring as, to much hilarity, the descended to land. Lemlya, it was called in #ussian. The large So iet island in the Arctic Sea was called No aya Lemlya, New 3and. $t was there in +0G+ that they had detonated a fiftyeight-megaton thermonuclear wea)on, the largest single ex)losion so far contri ed !y the human s)ecies. 7ut on that s)ring day, with the endors haw(ing the ice cream in which Mosco ites ta(e so much )ride, with families on outings and a toothless old man smiling at &llie and 3unachars(y as if they were lo ers, the old land had seemed nice enough. $n her infreBuent isits to Moscow or 3eningrad, *aygay would often arrange the e enings. A grou) of six or eight of them would go to the 7olshoi or the 8iro !allet. 3unachars(y somehow would arrange for the tic(ets. She would than( her hosts for the e ening, and they-ex)laining that it was only in the com)any of foreign isitors that they themsel es were a!le to attend such )erformances--would than( her. *aygay would only smile. %e ne er !rought his wife, and &llie had ne er met her. She was, he said, a )hysician who was de oted to her )atients. &llie had as(ed him what his greatest regret was, !ecause his )arents had not, as they had once contem)lated, emigrated to America. 9$ ha e only one regret,9 he had said in his gra elly oice. 9My daughter married a 7ulgarian.9 Once he arranged a dinner at a Caucasian restaurant in Moscow. A )rofessional toastmaster, or tamada, named 8halad:e had !een engaged for the e ening. The man was a master of this art form, !ut &llie4s #ussian was !ad enough that she was o!liged to as( for most of the

toasts to !e translated. %e turned to her and, foreshadowing the rest of the e ening, remar(ed, 96e call the man who drin(s without a toast an alcoholic.9 An early and com)arati ely mediocre toast had ended 9To )eace on all )lanets,9 and *aygay had ex)lained to her that the word mir meant world, )eace and a self-go erning community of )easant households that went !ac( to ancient times. They had tal(ed a!out whether the world had !een more )eaceful when its largest )olitical units had !een no larger than illages. 9& ery illage is a )lanet,9 3unachars(y had said, his tum!ler held high. 9And e ery )lanet a illage,9 she had returned. Such gatherings would !e a little raucous. &normous Buantities of !randy and od(a would !e drun(, !ut no one e er seemed seriously ine!riated. They would emerge noisily from the restaurant at one or two in the morning and try, often ainly, to find a taxica!. Se eral times he had escorted her on foot a distance of fi e or six (ilometers from the restaurant !ac( to her hotel. %e was attenti e, a little a uncular, tolerant in his )olitical Audgments, fierce in his scientific )ronouncements. Although his sexual esca)ades were legendary among his colleagues, he ne er )ermitted himself so much as a good-night (iss with &llie. This had always distressed her a little, although his affection for her was )lain. There were many women in the So iet scientific community, )ro)ortionately more so than in the Knited States. 7ut they tended to occu)y menial to middle-le el )ositions, and male So iet scientists, li(e their American counter)arts, were )u::led a!out a )retty woman with e ident scientific com)etence who forcefully ex)ressed her iews. Some would interru)t her or )retend not to hear her. Then, 3unachars(y would always lean o er and as( in a louder oice than usual, 96hat did you say, >r. Arroway5 $ didn4t Buite manage to hear.9 The others would then fall silent and she would continue a!out do)ed gallium arsenide detectors, or the ethanol content of the galactic cloud 6--. The Buantity of DHH-)roof alcohol in this single interstellar cloud was more than enough to maintain the )resent )o)ulation of the &arth, if e ery adult were a dedicated alcoholic, for the age of the solar system. The tamada had a))reciated the remar(. $n their su!seBuent toasts, they had s)eculated on whether other forms of life would !e

intoxicated !y ethanol, whether )u!lic drun(enness was a 'alaxy-wide )ro!lem, and whether a toastmaster on any other world could !e as s(illful as our Trofim Sergei ich 8halad:e. = = = They arri ed at the Al!uBuerBue air)ort to disco er that, miraculously, the commercial flight from New .or( with the So iet delegation a!oard had landed a half hour early. &llie found *aygay at an air)ort sou enir sho) negotiating the )rice of some trin(et. %e must ha e seen her out of the corner of his eye. 6ithout turning to face her, he lifted a finger< 9One second, Arroway. Nineteen ninety-fi e59 he continued, addressing the ela!orately disinterested sales cler(. 9$ saw the identical set in New .or( yesterday for se enteen fifty.9 She edged closer and o!ser ed *aygay s)reading a set of hologra)hic )laying cards dis)laying nudes of !oth sexes in )oses, now considered merely indecorous, that would ha e scandali:ed the )re ious generation. The cler( was ma(ing halfhearted attem)ts to gather the cards u) as 3unachars(y made igorous and successful efforts to co er the counter with the cards. *aygay was winning. 9$4m sorry, sir, $ don4t set )rices. $ only wor( here,9 com)lained the cler(. 9.ou see the deficiencies of a )lanned economy,9 *aygay said to &llie while )roffering a twentydollar !ill to the cler(. 9$n a true free-enter)rise system, $ )ro!a!ly could )urchase this for fifteen dollars. May!e twel e ninety-fi e. >on4t loo( at me in that way, &llie. This is not for me. 6ith the Ao(ers there are fifty-four cards here. &ach of them will ma(e a nice gift for some wor(er at my institute.9 She smiled and too( his arm. 9$t4s good to see you again, *aygay.9 9A rare )leasure, my dear.9 = = = On the dri e to Socorro, !y mutual !ut uns)o(en agreement, they mainly tal(ed )leasantries. *alerian and the dri er, one of the new security )eo)le, were in the front seats. "eter, not a olu!le man e en in ordinary circumstances, was content to lean !ac( and listen to their con ersation, which

touched only tangentially on the issue the So iets had come to discuss< the third le el of the )alim)sest, the ela!orate, com)lex, and still undecoded Message they were collecti ely recei ing. The K.S. go ernment had, more or less reluctantly, concluded that So iet )artici)ation was essential. This was true es)ecially !ecause the signal from *ega was so intense that e en modest radio telesco)es could detect it. .ears !efore, the So iets had )rudently de)loyed a num!er of small telesco)es across the entire &urasian land mass, stretching 0,HHH (ilometers o er the surface of the &arth, and recently had com)leted a maAor radio o!ser atory near Samar(and. $n addition, So iet oceangoing satellite trac(ing essels were )atrolling !oth the Atlantic and the "acific. Some of the So iet data were redundant, !ecause o!ser atories in @a)an, China, $ndia, and $raB were recording those signals as well. $ndeed, e ery su!stantial radio telesco)e in the world that had *ega in its s(y was listening. Astronomers in 7ritain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, 'ermany, and C:echoslo a(ia, in Canada and *ene:uela and Australia, were recording small )ieces of the Message, following *ega from starrise to starset. $n some o!ser atories the detection eBui)ment was not sensiti e enough e en to ma(e out the indi idual )ulses. They listened anyway to an audio !lur. &ach of these nations had a )iece of the Aigsaw )u::le, !ecause, as &llie had reminded 8it:, the &arth turns. & ery nation tried to ma(e some sense out of the )ulses. 7ut it was difficult. No one could tell e en if the Message was written in sym!ols or in )ictures. $t was )erfectly concei a!le that they would not decry)t the Message until it cycled !ac( to )age one--if it e er did--and !egan again with the introduction, the )rimer, the decoding (ey. May!e it was a ery long message, &llie thought as *aygay idly com)ared taiga with scru! desertC may!e it wouldn4t cycle !ac( for a hundred years. Or may!e there was no )rimer. May!e the Message /all o er the )lanet, the word was !eginning to !e ca)itali:ed2 was an intelligence test, so those worlds too stu)id to decry)t it would !e una!le to misuse its contents. $t suddenly struc( her what a humiliation she would feel for the human s)ecies if in the end they failed to understand the Message. The moment the Americans and the So iets decided to

colla!orate and the Memorandum of Agreement was solemnly signed, e ery other nation with a radio telesco)e had agreed to coo)erate. There was a (ind of 6orld Message Consortium, and )eo)le were actually tal(ing in those terms. They needed one another4s data and !rain )ower if the Message was to !e decry)ted. The news)a)ers were full of little else. The )itiful few facts that were (nown-the )rime num!ers, the Olym)ic !roadcast, the existence of a com)lex message--were endlessly re iewed. $t was hard to find anyone on the )lanet who had not in one way or another heard a!out eh Message from *ega. #eligious sects, esta!lished and marginal, and some newly in ented for the )ur)ose, were dissecting the theological im)lications of the Message. Some thought it was from 'od, and some from the >e il. Astonishingly, some were e en unsure. There was a nasty resurgence of interest in %itler and the Na:i regime, and *aygay mentioned to her that he had found a total of eight swasti(as in the ad ertisements in that Sunday4s New .or( Times 7oo( #e iew. &llie re)lied that eight was a!out )ar, !ut she (new she was exaggeratingC some wee(s there were only two or three. A grou) that called themsel es 9S)acaryans9 offered definiti e e idence that flying saucers had !een in ented in %itler 'ermany. A new 9unmongreli:ed9 race of Na:is had grown u) on *ega and was now ready to )ut things right on &arth. There were those who considered listening to the signal an a!omination and who urged the o!ser atories to sto)C there were those who considered it a To(en of Ad ent and urged the construction of still larger radio telesco)es, some of them in s)ace. Some cautioned against wor(ing with the So iet data, on grounds that they might !e falsified or fraudulent, although in the longitudes of o erla) they agreed well with the $raBi, $ndian, Chinese, and @a)anese data. And there were those who sensed a change in the world )olitical climate and contended that the ery existence of the Message, e en if it was ne er decry)ted, was exercising a steadying influence on the Buarrelsome nation states. Since the transmitting ci ili:ation was clearly more ad anced than ours, and !ecause it clearly--at least as of twenty-

six years ago--had not destroyed itself, it followed, some argued, that technological ci ili:ations did not ine ita!ly self-destruct. $n a world gingerly ex)erimenting with maAor di estitures of nuclear wea)ons and their deli ery systems, the Message was ta(en !y whole )o)ulations as a reason for ho)e. Many considered the Message the !est news in a long time. For decades, young )eo)le had tried not to thin( too carefully a!out tomorrow. Now, there might !e a !enign future after all. Those with )redis)ositions fa oring such cheerful )rognoses sometimes found themsel es edging uncomforta!ly toward ground that had !een occu)ied for a decade !y the chiliastic mo ement. Some chiliasts held that the imminent arri al of the Third Millennium would !e accom)anied !y the return of @esus or 7uddha or 8rishna or The "ro)het, who would esta!lish on &arth a !ene olent theocracy, se ere in its Audgment of mortals. "erha)s this would )resage the mass celestial Ascent of the &lect. 7ut there were other chiliasts, and there were far more of these, who held that the )hysical destruction of the world was the indis)ensa!le )rereBuisite for the Ad ent, as had !een unerringly foretold in arious otherwise mutually contradictory ancient )ro)hetic wor(s. The >oomsday Chiliasts were uneasy with the whiff of world community in the air and trou!led !y the steady annual decline in the glo!al stoc()iles of strategic wea)ons. The most readily a aila!le means for fulfilling the central tenet of their faith was !eing disassem!led day !y day. Other candidate catastro)hes--o er)o)ulation, industrial )ollution, earthBua(es, olcanic ex)losions, greenhouse warming, ice ages, or cometary im)act with the &arth--were too slow, too im)ro!a!ly, or insufficiently a)ocaly)tic for the )ur)ose. Some chiliast leaders had assured mass rallies of de oted followers that, exce)t for accidents, life insurance was a sign of wayward faithC that, exce)t for the ery elderly, to )urchase a gra esite or ma(e funeral arrangements in other than urgent necessity was a flagrant im)iety. All who !elie ed would !e raised !odily to hea en and would stand !efore the throne of 'od in only a few years. &llie (new that 3unachars(y4s famous relati e had !een that rarest of !eings, a 7olshe i(

re olutionary with a scholarly interest in the world4s religions. 7ut the attention *aygay directed to the growing worldwide theological ferment was a))arently muted. 9The main religious Buestion in my country,9 he said, 9will !e whether the *egans ha e )ro)erly denounced 3eon Trots(y.9 = = = As they a))roached the Argus site, the roadside !ecame dense with )ar(ed automo!iles, recreation ehicles, cam)ers, tents, and great crowds of )eo)le. At night the once tranBuil "lains of San Augustin were illuminated !y cam)fires. The )eo)le along the highway were !y no means all well-to-do. She noticed two young cou)les. The men were in T-shirts and worn Aeans, !elted around their hi)s, swaggering a little as they had !een taught !y their seniors u)on entering high school, tal(ing animatedly. One of them )ushed a ragged stroller in which sat a carefree !oy a!out two years old. The women followed !ehind their hus!ands, one of them holding the hand of a toddler new to the human art of wal(ing, and the other cantile ered forward with what in another month or two would !e a further life !orn on this o!scure )lanet. There were mystics from seBuestered communities outside Taos who used )silocy!in as a sacrament, and nuns from a con ent near Al!uBuerBue who used ethanol for the same )ur)ose. There were leather-s(inned, crin(ly-eyed men who had s)ent their whole li es under the o)en s(y, and !oo(ish, sallowfaced students from the Kni ersity of Ari:ona in Tucson. There were sil( cra ats and !urnished sil er string ties sold !y Na aAo entre)reneurs at exor!itant )rices, a small re ersal of the historical commercial relations !etween whites and Nati e Americans. Chewing to!acco an !u!!le gum were !eing igorously de)loyed !y enlisted men on lea e from >a is-Monthan Air Force 7ase. An elegantly attired white-haired man in a S0HH suit with a color-coordinated Stetson was, Aust )ossi!ly, a rancher. There were )eo)le who li ed in !arrac(s and s(yscra)ers, ado!e ho els, dormitories, trailer )ar(s. some came !ecause they had nothing !etter to do, some !ecause they wanted to tell their grandchildren that they had !een there. Some arri ed ho)ing for failure, others were confident of witnessing a miracle. Sounds of Buiet de otion, raucous hilarity, mystic ecstasy, and su!dued ex)ectation rose from the crowd into the !rilliant afternoon sunlight. A few heads

glanced incuriously at the )assing cara an of automo!iles, each mar(ed K.S. 'O*&#NM&NT $NT&#A'&NC. MOTO# "OO3. Some )eo)le were lunching on the tailgates of hatch!ac(sC others were sam)ling the wares of endors whose wheeled em)oria were !oldly lettered SNAC8MO7$3& or S"AC& SOK*&N$#S. There were long lines in front of small sturdy structures with maximum occu)ancy of one )erson that the )roAect had thoughtfully )ro ided. Children scam)ered among the ehicles, slee)ing !ags, !lan(ets, and )orta!le )icnic ta!les almost ne er chided !y the adults--exce)t when they came too close to the highway or to the fence nearest Telesco)e G+, where a grou) of sha en-headed, (owtowed, saffron-ro!ed young adults were solemnly intoning the sacred sylla!le 9Om.9 There were )osters with imagined re)resentations of extraterrestrial !eings, some made )o)ular !y comic !oo(s or motion )ictures. One read, 9There Are Aliens Among Ks.9 A man with golden earrings was sha ing, using the side- iew mirror of someone4s )ic(u) truc(, and a !lac(-haired woman in a sera)e raised a cu) of coffee in salute as the con oy s)ed !y. As they dro e toward the new main gate, near Telesco)e +H+, &llie could see a young man on a Aerr!uilt )latform im)ortuning a si:a!le crowd. %e was wearing a T-shirt that de)icted the &arth !eing struc( !y a !olt of celestial lightning. Se eral others in the crowd, she noticed, were wearing the same enigmatic adornment. At &llie4s urging, once through the ga e, they )ulled off the side of the road, rolled down the window, and listened. The s)ea(er was turned away from them and they could see the faces in the crowd. These )eo)le are dee)ly mo ed, &llie thought to herself. %e was in mid-oration< 9...and others say there4s !een a )act with the >e il, that the scientists ha e sold their souls. There are )recious stones in e ery one of these telesco)es.9 %e wa ed his hand toward Telesco)e +H+. 9& en the scientists admit that. Some )eo)le say it4s the >e il4s )art of the !argain.9 9#eligious hooliganism,9 3unachars(y muttered dar(ly, his eyes yearning for the o)en road !efore

them. 9No, no. 3et4s stay,9 she said. A half smile of wonderment was )laying on her li)s. 9There are some )eo)le--religious )eo)le, 'od-fearing )eo)le--who !elie e this Message comes from !eings in s)ace, entities, hostile creatures, aliens who want to harm us, enemies of Man. 9 %e fairly shouted this last )hrase, and then )aused for effect. 97ut all of you are wearied and disgusted !y the corru)tion, the decay in this society, a decay !rought on !y unthin(ing, un!ridled, ungodly technology. $ don4t (now which of you is right. $ can4t tell you what the Message means, or who it4s from. $ ha e my sus)icions. 6e4ll (now soon enough. 7ut $ do (now the scientists and the )oliticians and the !ureaucrats are holding out on us. They ha en4t told us all they (now. They4re decei ing us, li(e they always do. For too long, O 'od, we ha e swallowed the lies they feed us, the corru)tion they !ring.9 To &llie4s astonishment a dee) rum!ling chorus of assent rose from the crowd. %e had ta))ed some well of resentment she had only aguely a))rehended. 9These scientists don4t !elie e we4re the children of 'od. They thin( we4re the offs)ring of a)es. There are (nown communists among them. >o you want )eo)le li(e that to decide the fat of the world59 The crowd res)onded with a thunderous 9NoP9 9>o you want a )ac( of un!elie ers to do the tal(ing to 'od59 9NoP9 they roared again. 9Or the >e il5 They are !argaining away our future with monsters from an alien world. My !rothers and sisters, there is an e il in this )lace.9

&llie had thought the orator was unaware of their )resence. 7ut now he half turned and )ointed through the cyclone fence directly at the idling con oy. 9They don4t s)ea( for usP They don4t re)resent usP They ha e no right to )arley in our nameP9 Some of the crowd nearest the fence !egan Aostling and rhythmically )ushing. 7oth *alerian and the dri er !ecame alarmed. The engines had !een left running, and in a moment they accelerated from the gate toward the Argus administration !uilding, still many miles distant across the scru! desert. As they )ulled away, o er the sound of sBuealing tires and the murmur of the crowd, &llie could hear the orator, his oice ringing clearly. 9The e il in this )lace will !e sto))ed. $ swear it.9 C%A"T&# 1 #andom Access The theologian may indulge the )leasing tas( of descri!ing #eligion as she descended from %ea en, arrayed in her nati e )urity. A more melancholy duty is im)osed on the historian. %e must disco er the ine ita!le mixture of error and corru)tion which she contracted in a long residence u)on &arth, among a wea( and degenerate race of !eings. -&dward 'i!!on The >ecline and Fall of the #oman &m)ire, N* &llie ignored random access and ad anced seBuentially through the tele ision stations. 3ifestyles of the Mass Murderers and .ou 7et .our Ass were on adAacent channels. $t was clear at a glance that the )romise of the medium remained unfulfilled. There was a s)irited !as(et!all game !etween the @ohnson City 6ildcats and the Knion-&ndicott TigersC the young men and women )layers were gi ing their all. On the next channel was an exhortation in "arsi on )ro)er ersus im)ro)er o!ser ances of #amadan. 7eyond was one of the loc(ed channels, this one a))arently de oted to uni ersally a!horrent sexual )ractices. She next came u)on one of the )remier com)uter channels, dedicated to fantasy role-)laying games and now fallen on hard times.

Accessed to your home com)uter, it offered a single entry into a new ad enture, today4s a))arently called 'alactic 'ilgamesh, in holes that you would find it sufficiently attracti e to order the corres)onding flo))y dis( on one of the ending channels. "ro)er electronic )recautions were ta(en so you could not record the )rogram during your single )lay. Most of these ideo games, she thought, were des)erately flawed attem)ts to )re)are adolescents for an un(nown future. %er eye was caught !y an earnest anchorman from one of the old networ(s discussing with unmista(a!le concern what was descri!ed as an un)ro o(ed attac( !y North *ietnamese tor)edo !oats on two destroyers of the K.S. Se enth Fleet in the 'ulf of Ton(in, and the reBuest !y the "resident of the Knited States that he !e authori:ed to 9ta(e all necessary measures9 in res)onse. The )rogram was one of her few fa orites, .esterday4s News, reruns of networ( news shows of earlier years. The second half of the )rogram consisted of a )oint-!y-)oint dissection of the misinformation in the first half, and the o!durate credulity of the news organi:ations !efore any claims !y any administration, no matter how unsu))orted and self-ser ing. $t was one of se eral tele ision series )roduced !y an organi:ation called #&A3$-T*-including "romises, "romises, de oted to follow-u) analyses of unfulfilled cam)aign )ledges at local, state, and national le els, and 7am!oo:les and 7aloney, a wee(ly de!un(ing of what were said to !e wides)read )reAudices, )ro)aganda, and myths. The date at the !ottom of the screen was August ,, +0GF, and a wa e of recollection--nostalgia was not the a))ro)riate word--a!out her days in high school washed o er her. She )ressed on. Cycling through the channels, she rushed )ast an Oriental coo(ing series de oted this wee( to the hi!achi, an extended ad ertisement for the first generation of general-)ur)ose household ro!ots !y %adden Cy!ernetics, the So iet &m!assy4s #ussian-language news and comment )rogram, se eral children4s and news freBuencies, the mathematics station dis)laying the da::ling com)uter gra)hics of the new Cornell analytic geometry course, the local a)artments and real estate channel, and a tight cluster of execra!le daytime serials until she came u)on the religious networ(s, where, with sustained and general excitement,

the Message was !eing discussed. Attendance in churches had soared all o er America. The Message, &llie !elie ed, was a (ind of mirror in which each )erson sees his or her own !eliefs challenged or confirmed. $t was considered a !lan(et indication of mutually exclusi e a)ocaly)tic and eschatological doctrines. $n "eru, Algeria, Mexico, Lim!a!we, &cuador, and among the %o)i, serious )u!lic de!ates too( )lace on whether their )rogenitor ci ili:ations had come from s)aceC su))orting o)inions were attac(ed as colonialist. Catholics de!ated the extraterrestrial state of grace. "rotestants discussed )ossi!le earlier missions of @esus to near!y )lanets, and of course a return to &arth. Muslims were concerned that the Message might contra ene the commandment against gra en images. $n 8uwait, a man arose who claimed to !e the %idden $mam of the Shiites. Messianic fer or had arisen among the Sossafer Chasids. $n other congregations of Orthodox @ews there was a sudden renewal of interest in Astruc, a :ealot fearful that (nowledge would undermine faith, who in +-H, had induced the #a!!i of 7arcelona, the leading @ewish cleric of the time, to for!id the study of science or )hiloso)hy !y those under twenty-fi e, on )ain of excommunication. Similar currents were increasingly discerni!le in $slam. A Thessalonian )hiloso)her, aus)iciously named Nicholas "olydemos, was attracting attention with a set of )assionate arguments for what he called the 9reunification9 of religions, go ernments, and )eo)les of the world. Critics !egan !y Buestioning the 9re.9 KFO grou)s had organi:ed round-the-cloc( igils at 7roo(s Air Force 7ase, near San Antonio, where the )erfectly )reser ed !odies of four occu)ants of a flying saucer that had crash-landed in +0F; were said to !e languishing in free:ersC the extraterrestrials were re)uted to !e one meter tall and to ha e tiny flawless teeth. A))aritions of *ishnu had !een re)orted in $ndia, and of the Amida 7uddha in @a)anC miraculous cures !y the hundreds were announced at 3ourdesC a new 7odhisatt a )roclaimed herself in Ti!et. A no el cargo cult was im)orted from New 'uinea into AustraliaC it )reached the construction of crude radio telesco)e re)licas to attract extraterrestrial largesse. The 6orld Knion of Free Thin(ers called the Message a dis)roof of the existence of 'od. The Mormon Church declared it a second re elation !y the

angel Moroni. The Message was ta(en !y different grou)s as e idence for many gods or one god or none. Chiliasm was rife. There were those who )redicted the Millennium in +000--as a ca!alistic in ersion of +GGG, the year that Sa!!atai Le i had ado)ted for his millenniumC others chose +00G or DH--, the )resumed two thousandth anni ersaries of the !irth or death of @esus. The 'reat Cycle of the ancient Maya was to !e com)leted in the year DH++, when--according to this inde)endent cultural tradition--the cosmos would end. The con olution of the Mayan )rediction with Christian millenarianism was )roducing a (ind of a)ocaly)tic fren:y in Mexico and Central America. Some chiliasts who !elie ed in the earlier dates had !egun gi ing away their wealth to the )oor, in )art !ecause it would soon !e worthless anyway and in )art as earnest money to 'od, a !ri!e for the Ad ent. Lealotry, fanaticism, fear, ho)e, fer ent de!ate, Buiet )rayer, agoni:ing rea))raisal, exem)lary selflessness, closed-minded !igotry, and a :est for dramatically new ideas were e)idemic, rushing fe erishly o er the surface of the tiny )lanet &arth. Slowly emerging from this mighty ferment, &llie thought she could see, was a dawning recognition of the world as one thread in a ast cosmic ta)estry. Meanwhile, the Message itself continued to resist attem)ts at decry)tion. On the ilification channels, )rotected !y the First Amendment, she, *aygay, der %eer, and to a lesser extent "eter *alerian were !eing castigated for a ariety of offenses, including atheism, communism, and hoarding the Message for themsel es. $n her o)inion, *aygay wasn4t much of a Communist, and *alerian had a dee), Buiet, !ut so)histicated Christian faith. $f they were luc(y enough to come anywhere near crac(ing the Message, she was willing to deli er it )ersonally to this sanctimonious twit of a tele ision commentator. >a id >rumlin, howe er, was !eing made out as the hero, the man who had really decry)ted the )rime num!er and Olym)ic !roadcastsC he was the (ind of scientist we needed more of. She sighed and changed the channel once again.

She had come around to TA7S, the Turner-American 7roadcasting System, the only sur i or of the large commercial networ(s that had dominated tele ision !roadcasting in the Knited States until the ad ent of wides)read direct satellite !roadcasting and +1H-channel ca!le. On this station, "almer @oss was ma(ing one of his rare tele ision a))earances. 3i(e most Americans, &llie instantly recogni:ed his resonant oice, his slightly un(em)t good loo(s, and the discoloration !eneath his eyes that made you thin( he ne er sle)t for worrying a!out the rest of us. 96hat has science really done for us59 he declaimed. 9Are we really ha))ier5 $ don4t mean Aust hologra)hic recei ers and seedless gra)es. Are we fundamentally ha))ier5 Or do the scientists !ri!e us with toys, with technological trin(ets, while they undermine our faith59 %ere was a man, she thought, who was han(ering for a sim)ler age, a man who has s)ent his life attem)ting to reconcile the irreconcila!le. %e has condemned the most flagrant excesses of )o) religion and thin(s that Austifies attac( on e olution and relati ity. 6hy not attac( the existence of the electron5 "almer @oss ne er saw one, and the 7i!le is innocent of electromagnetism. 6hy !elie e in electrons5 Although she had ne er !efore listened to him s)ea(, she was sure that sooner or later he would come around to the Message, and he did< 9The scientists (ee) their findings to themsel es, gi e us little !its and )ieces--enough to (ee) us Buiet. They thin( we4re too stu)id to understand what they do. They gi e us conclusions without e idence, findings as if they were holy writ and not s)eculations, theories, hy)otheses-what ordinary )eo)le would call guesses. They ne er as( if some new theory is as good for )eo)le as the !elief that it tries to re)lace. They o erestimate what they (now and underestimate what we (now. 6hen we as( for ex)lanations, they tell us it ta(es years to understand. $ (now a!out that, !ecause in religion also there are things that ta(e years to understand. .ou can s)end a lifetime and ne er come close to understanding the nature of Almighty 'od. 7ut you don4t see the scientists coming to religious leaders to as( them a!out their years of study and insight and )rayer. They ne er gi e us a second thought, exce)t when they

mislead us and decei e us. 9And now they say they ha e a Message from the star *ega. 7ut a star can4t send a message. Someone is sending it. 6ho5 $s the )ur)ose of the Message di ine or satanic5 6hen they decode the Message, will it end ?.ours truly, 'od4... or ?Sincerely, the >e il45 6hen the scientists get around to telling us what4s in the Message, will they tell us the whole truth5 Or will they hold something !ac( !ecause they thin( we can4t understand it, or !ecause it doesn4t match what they !elie e5 Aren4t these the )eo)le who taught us how to annihilate oursel es5 9$ tell you, my friends, science is too im)ortant to !e left to the scientists. #e)resentati es of the maAor faiths ought to !e )art of the )rocess of decoding. 6e ought to !e loo(ing at the raw data. That4s what the scientists call it, ?raw.4 Otherwise... otherwise, where will we !e5 They4ll tell us something a!out the Message. May!e what they really !elie e. May!e not. And we4ll ha e to acce)t it, whate er they tell us. There are some things the scientists (now a!out. There are other things--ta(e my word for it--they (now nothing a!out. May!e they4 e recei ed a message from another !eing in the hea ens. May!e not. Can they !e sure the Message isn4t a 'olden Calf5 $ don4t thin( they4d (now one if they saw one. These are the fol(s who !rought us the hydrogen !om!. Forgi e me, 3ord, for not !eing more grateful to these (ind souls. 9$ ha e seen 'od face to face. $ worshi) %im, trust %im, lo e %im, with my entire soul, with all of my !eing. $ don4t thin( anyone could !elie e more than $ do. $ can4t see how the scientists could !elie e in science more than $ do in 'od. 9They4re ready to throw away their ?truths4 when a new idea comes round. They4re )roud of it. They don4t see any end to (nowing. They imagine we4re loc(ed in ignorance until the end of time, that there4s no certainty anywhere in nature. Newton o erthrew Aristotle. &instein o erthrew Newton. Tomorrow someone else4ll o erthrow &instein. As soon as we get to understand one theory, there4s another one in its )lace. $ wouldn4t mind so much if they had warned us that the old

ideas were tentati e. Newton4s law of gra itation, they called it. They still call it that. 7ut if it was a law of nature, how could it !e wrong5 %ow could it !e o erthrown5 Only 'od can re)eal the laws of nature, not the scientists. They Aust got it wrong. $f Al!ert &instein was right, $saac Newton was an amateur, a !ungler. 9#emem!er, the scientists don4t always get it right. They want to ta(e away our faith, our !eliefs, and they offer us nothing of s)iritual alue in return. $ do not intend to a!andon 'od !ecause the scientists write a !oo( and say it is a message from *ega. $ will not worshi) science. $ will not defy the First Commandment. $ will not !ow down !efore a 'olden Calf.9 = = = 6hen he was a ery young man, !efore he !ecame widely (nown and admired, "almer @oss had !een a carni al rousta!out. $t was mentioned in his )rofile in Timeswee(C it was no secret. To hel) ma(e his fortune he had arranged for a ma) of the &arth in cylindrical )roAection to !e )ainsta(ingly tattooed on his torso. %e would exhi!it himself at county fairs and sideshows from O(lahoma to Mississi))i, one of the stragglers and remnants of a more igorous age of rural itinerant entertainment. $n the ex)anse of !lue ocean were the four gods of the winds, their chee(s )uffing forth )re ailing westerlies and nor4easters. 7y flexing his )ectorals, he could ma(e 7oreas swell along with the Mid-Atlantic. Then, he would declaim to the astonished onloo(ers from 7oo( G of O id4s Metamor)hoses< Monarch of *iolence, rolling on clouds, $ toss wide waters, and $ fell huge trees... "ossessed of daemon-rage, $ )enetrate, Sheer to the utmost ca erns of old &arthC And straining, u) from those unfathomed dee)s, Scatter the terror-stric(en shades of %ellC And hurl death-dealing earthBua(es throughout the worldP Fire and !rimstone from old #ome. 6ith some hel) from his hands, he would demonstrate continental drift, )ressing 6est Africa against South America, so they Aoined, li(e the )ieces of a Aigsaw )u::le, almost )erfectly at the longitude of his na el. They !illed him as 9'eos, the &arth Man.9

@oss was a great reader and, !eing unencum!ered !y a formal education )ast grade school, had not !een told that science and classics were unseemly fare for ordinary )eo)le. Aided !y his casual, rum)led good loo(s, he would ingratiate himself with li!rarians in the towns along the carni al4s tre( and as( what serious !oo(s he should read. %e wanted, he told them, to im)ro e himself. >utifully, he read a!out winning friends and in esting in real estate and intimidating your acBuaintances without their noticing, !ut felt these !oo(s somehow shallow. 7y contrast, in ancient literature and in modern science he though he detected Buality. 6hen there were layo ers, he would haunt the local town or county li!rary. %e taught himself some geogra)hy and history. They were Ao!-related, he told &l ira the &le)hant 'irl, who Buestioned him closely on his a!sences. She sus)ected him of com)ulsi e dalliances--a li!rarian in e ery )ort, she once said--!ut she had to admit his )rofessional )atter was im)ro ing. The contents were too high!row, !ut the deli ery was down home. Sur)risingly, @oss4s little stall !egan to ma(e money for the carni al. %is !ac( to the audience, he was one day demonstrating the collision of $ndia with Asia and the resulting crin(ling u) of the %imalayas, when, out of a gray !ut rainless s(y, a lightning !olt flashed and struc( him dead. There had !een twisters in southeastern O(lahoma, and the weather was unusual throughout the South. %e had a )erfectly lucid sense of lea ing his !ody-)itifully crum!led on the sawdustco ered )lan(ing, !eing regarded with caution and something a(in to awe !y the small crowd--and rising, rising as if through a long dar( tunnel, slowly a))roaching a !rilliant light. And in the radiance he gradually discerned a figure of heroic, indeed of 'odli(e, )ro)ortions. 6hen he awo(e he found a )art of himself disa))ointed to !e ali e. %e was lying on a cot in a modestly furnished !edroom. 3eaning o er him was the #e erend 7illy @o #an(in, no the )resent incum!ent of that name, !ut his father, a enera!le surrogate )reacher of the third Buarter of the twentieth century. $n the !ac(ground, @oss thought he could see a do:en hooded figures singing the 8yrie &leison. 7ut he couldn4t !e sure.

9Am $ gonna li e or die59 the young man whis)ered. 9My !oy, you4re gonna do !oth,9 the #e erend Mr. #an(in re)lied. @oss was soon o ercome with a )oignant sense of disco ery at the existence of the world. 7ut in a way that was difficult for him to articulate, this feeling was in conflict with the !eatific image that he had !eheld, and with the infinite Aoy that ision )ortended. %e could sense the two feelings in conflict within his !reast. $n arious circumstances, sometimes in mid-sentence, he would !ecome aware of one or the other of these feelings ma(ing some claim on s)eech or action. After a while, he was content to li e with !oth. %e really had !een dead, they told him afterwards. A doctor had )ronounced him dead. 7ut they had )rayed o er him, they had snug hymns, and they e en tried to re i e him !y !ody massage /mainly in the icinity of Mauritania2. They had returned him to life. %e had !een truly and literally re!orn. Since this corres)onded so well to his own )erce)tion of the ex)erience, he acce)ted the account, and gladly. 6hile he almost ne er tal(ed a!out it, he !ecame con inced of the significance of the e ent. %e had not !een struc( dead for nothing. %e had not !een !rought !ac( for no reason. Knder his )atron4s tutelage, he !egan to study Scri)ture seriously. %e was dee)ly mo ed !y the idea of the #esurrection and the doctrine of Sal ation. %e assisted the #e erend Mr. #an(in at first in small ways, e entually filling in for him in the more onerous or more distant )reaching assignments--es)ecially after the younger 7illy @o #an(in left for Odessa, Texas, in answer to a call from 'od. Soon @oss found a )reaching style that was his own, not se much exhortatory as ex)lanatory. $n sim)le language and homely meta)hors, he would ex)lain !a)tism and the afterlife, the connection of Christian #e elation with the myths of classical 'reece and #ome, the idea of 'od4s )lan for the world, and the conformity of science and religion when !oth were )ro)erly understood. This was not the con entional )reaching, and it was too ecumenical for many tastes. 7ut it )ro ed unaccounta!ly )o)ular.

9.ou4 e !een re!orn, @oss,9 the elder #an(in told him. 9So you ought to change your name. &xce)t "almer @oss is such a fine name for a )reacher, you4d !e a fool not to (ee) it.9 3i(e doctors and lawyers, the endors of religion rarely critici:e one another4s wares, @oss o!ser ed. 7ut one night he attended ser ices at the new Church of 'od, Crusader, to hear the younger 7illy @o #an(in, trium)hantly returned from Odessa, )reach to the multitude. 7illy @o enunciated a star( doctrine of #eward, #etri!ution, and the #a)ture. 7ut tonight was a healing night. The curati e instrument, the congregation was told, was the holiest of relics--holier than a s)linter of the True Cross, holier e en than the thigh !one of Saint Teresa of A ila that 'eneralissimo Francisco Franco had (e)t in his office to intimidate the )ious. 6hat 7illy @o #an(in 7randished was the actual amniotic fluid that surrounded and )rotected our 3ord. The liBuid had !een carefully )reser ed in an ancient earthenware essel that once !elonged, so it was said, to Saint Ann. The tiniest dro) of it would cure what ails you, he )romised, through a s)ecial act of >i ine 'race. This holiest of holy waters was with us tonight. @oss was a))alled, not so much that #an(in would attem)t so trans)arent a scam !ut that any of the )arishioners were so credulous as to acce)t it. $n his )re ious life he had witnessed many attem)ts to !am!oo:le the )u!lic. 7ut that was entertainment. This was different. This was religion. #eligion was too im)ortant to gloss the truth, much less to manufacture miracles. %e too( to denouncing this im)osture from the )ul)it. As his fer or grew, he railed against other de iant forms of Christian fundamentalism, including those as)irant her)etologists who tested their faith !y fondling sna(es in accord with the !i!lical inAunction that the )ure of heart shall not fear the enom of ser)ents. $n one widely Buoted sermon he )ara)hrased *oltaire. %e ne er thought, he said, that he would find men of the cloth so enal as to lend su))ort to the !las)hemers who taught that the first )riest was the first rogue who met the first fool. These religions were damaging religion. %e shoo( his finger gracefully in the air.

@oss argued that in e er religion there was a doctrinal line !eyond which it insulted the intelligence of its )ractitioners. #easona!le )eo)le might disagree as to where that line should !e drawn, !ut religions tres)assed well !eyond it at their )eril. "eo)le were not fools, he said. The day !efore his death, as he was )utting his affairs in order, the elder #an(in sent word to @oss that he ne er wanted to lay eyes on him again. At the same time, @oss !egan to )reach that science didn4t ha e all the answers either. %e found inconsistencies in the theory of e olution. The em!arrassing findings, the facts that don4t fit, the scientists Aust swee) under the rug, he said. They don4t really (now that the &arth is F.G !illion years old, any more than Arch!isho) Kssher (new that it was G,HHH years old. No!ody has seen e olution ha))en, no!ody has !een mar(ing time since the Creation. /9Two-hundred-Buadrillion-Mississi))i...9 he once imagined the )atient time(ee)er intoning, counting u) the seconds from the origin of the world.2 And &instein4s theory of relati ity was also un)ro ed. .ou couldn4t tra el faster than light no matter what, &instein had said. %ow could he (now5 %ow close to the s)eed of light had he gone5 #elati ity was only a way of understanding the world. &instein couldn4t restrict what man(ind could do in the far future. And &instein sure couldn4t set limits on what 'od could do. Couldn4t 'od tra el faster than light if %e wanted to5 Couldn4t 'od ma(e us tra el faster than light if %e wanted to5 There were excesses in science and there were excesses in religion. A reasona!le man wouldn4t !e stam)eded !y either one. There were many inter)retations of Scri)ture and many inter)retations of the natural world. 7oth were created !y 'od, so !oth must !e mutually consistent. 6here er a discre)ancy seems to exist, either a scientist or a theologian--may!e !oth--hasn4t !een doing his Ao!. "almer @oss com!ined his e enhanded criticism of science and religion with a fer ent )lea for moral rectitude and a res)ect for the intelligence of his floc(. $n slow stages he acBuired a national re)utation. $n de!ates on the teaching of 9scientific creationism9 in the schools, on the

ethical status of a!ortion and fro:en em!ryos, on the admissi!ility of genetic engineering, he attem)ted in his way to steer a middle course, to reconcile caricatures of science and religion. 7oth contending cam)s were outraged at his inter entions, and his )o)ularity grew. %e !ecame a confidant of )residents. %is sermons were excer)ted on the O) &d )ages of maAor secular news)a)ers. 7ut he resisted many in itations and some )roffered !landishments to found an electronic church. %e continued to li e sim)ly, and rarely--exce)t for )residential in itations and ecumenical congresses--left the rural South. 7eyond a con entional )atriotism, he made it a rule not to meddle in )olitics. $n a field filled with com)eting entries, many of du!ious )ro!ity, "almer @oss !ecame, in erudition and moral authority, the )reeminent Christian fundamentalist )reacher of his day. = = = >er %eer had as(ed if they could ha e a Buiet dinner somewhere. %e was flying in for the summary session with *aygay and the So iet delegation on the latest )rogress in the inter)retation of the Message. 7ut south-central New Mexico was crawling with the world4s )ress, and there was no restaurant for a hundred miles in which they could tal( uno!ser ed and unheard. So she made dinner herself in her modest a)artment near the isiting scientists4 Buarters at the Argus facility. There was a great deal to tal( a!out. Sometimes it seemed that the fate of the whole )roAect was hanging !y a )residential thread. 7ut the little tremor of antici)ation she felt Aust !efore 8en4s arri al was occasioned, she was aguely aware, !y more than that. @oss was not exactly !usiness, so they got around to him while loading the dishwasher. 9The man is scared stiff,9 &llie said. 9%is )ers)ecti e is narrow. %e imagines the Message is going to !e unacce)ta!le !i!lical exegesis or something that sha(es his faith. %e has no idea a!out how a new scientific )aradigm su!sumes the )re ious one. %e wants to (now what science has done for him lately. And he4d su))osed to !e the oice of reason.9 9Com)ared to the >oomsday Chiliasts and the &arth-Firsters, "almer @oss is the soul of moderation,9 der %eer re)lied. 9May!e we ha en4t ex)lained the methods of

science as well as we should ha e. $ worry a!out that a lot these days. And &llie, can you really !e sure that it isn4t a message from--9 9From 'od or the >e il5 8en, you can4t !e serious.9 96ell, how ad anced !eings committed to what we might call good or e il, who some!ody li(e @oss would consider indistinguisha!le from 'od or the >e il59 98en, whoe er those !eings are in the *ega system, $ guarantee they didn4t create the uni erse. And they4re nothing li(e the Old Testament 'od. #emem!er, *ega, the Sun, and all the other stars in the solar neigh!orhood are in some !ac(water of an a!solutely humdrum galaxy. 6hy should $ Am That $ Am hang out around here5 There must !e more )ressing things for him to do.9 9&llie, we4re in a !ind. .ou (now @oss is ery influential. %e4s !een close to three )residents, including the )resident incum!ent. The "resident is inclined to ma(e some concession to @oss, although $ don4t thin( she wants to )ut him and a !unch of other )reachers on the "reliminary >ecry)tion Committee with you, *alerian, and >rumlin--to say nothing of *aygay and his colleagues. $t4s hard to imagine the #ussians going along with fundamentalist clergy on the Committee. The whole thing could unra el o er this. So why don4t we go and tal( to him5 The "resident says that @oss is really fascinated !y science. Su))ose we won him o er59 96e4re going to con ert "almer @oss59 9$4m not imagining ma(ing him change his religion--let4s Aust ma(e him understand what Argus is a!out, how we don4t ha e to answer the Message if we don4t li(e what it says, how interstellar distances Buarantine us from *ega.9 98en, he doesn4t e en !elie e that the elocity of light is a cosmic s)eed limit. 6e4re going to !e tal(ing )ast each other. Also, $4 e got a long history of failure in

accommodating to the con entional religions. $ tend to !low my to) at their inconsistencies and hy)ocrisies. $4m not sure a meeting !etween @oss and me is what you want. Or the "resident.9 9&llie,9 he said, 9$ (now who $4d )ut my money on. $ don4t see how getting together with @oss could ma(e things much worse.9 She allowed herself to return his smile. = = = 6ith the trac(ing shi)s now in )lace and a few small !ut adeBuate radio telesco)es installed in such )laces as #ey(Aa i( and @a(arta, there was now redundant co erage of the signal from *ega at e ery longitude swath. A maAor conference was scheduled to !e held in "aris of the full 6orld Message Consortium. $n )re)aration, it was natural for the nations with the largest fraction of the data to hold a )re)aratory scientific discussion. They had !een meeting for the !etter )art of four days, and this summary session was intended mainly to !ring those such as der %eer, who ser ed as intermediaries !etween the scientists and the )oliticians, u) to s)eed. The So iet delegation, while nominally headed !y 3unachars(y, included se eral scientists and technical )eo)le of eBual distinction. Among them were 'enri(h Ar(hangels(y, recently named head of the So iet-led international s)ace consortium called $ntercosmos, and Timofei 'otsrid:e, listed as Minister of Medium %ea y $ndustry, and a mem!er of the Central Committee. *aygay clearly felt himself under unusual )ressures< he had resumed chain smo(ing. %e held the cigarette !etween his thum! and forefinger, )alm u), as he tal(ed. 9$ agree that there is adeBuate o erla) in longitude, !ut $4m still worried a!out redundancy. A failure in the helium liBuifier on !oard the Marshal Nedelin or a )ower failure in #ey(Aa i(, and the continuity of the Message is in Aeo)ardy. Su))ose the Message ta(es two years to cycle around to the !eginning. $f we miss a )iece, we will ha e to wait two more years to fill in the ga). And remem!er, we don4t (now that the Message will !e re)eated. $f there4s no re)eat, the ga)s

will ne er !e re)aired. $ thin( we need to )lan e en for unli(ely )ossi!ilities.9 96hat are you thin(ing of59 der %eer as(ed. 9Something li(e emergency generators for e ery o!ser atory in the Consortium59, and inde)endent am)lifiers, s)ectrometers, autocorrelators, dis( dri es, and so forth at each o!ser atory. And some )ro ision for fast airlift of liBuid helium to remote o!ser atories if necessary.9 9&llie, do you agree59 9A!solutely.9 9Anything else59 9$ thin( we should continue to o!ser e *ega on a ery !road range of freBuencies,9 *aygay said. 9"erha)s tomorrow a different message will come through on only one of the message freBuencies. 6e should also monitor other regions of the s(y. May!e the (ey to the Message won4t come from *ega, !ut from somewhere else--9 93et me say why $ thin( *aygay4s )oint is im)ortant,9 interAected *alerian. 9This is a uniBue moment, when we4re recei ing a message !ut ha e made no )rogress at all in decry)ting it. 6e ha e no )re ious ex)erience along these lines. 6e ha e to co er all the !ases. 6e don4t want to wind u) a year or two from now (ic(ing oursel es !ecause there was some sim)le )recaution we forgot to ta(e, or some sim)le measurement that we o erloo(ed. The idea that the Message will cycle !ac( on itself, as far as we can see, that )romises cycling !ac(. Any o))ortunities lost now may !e lost for all time. $ also agree there4s more instrumental de elo)ment that needs doing. For all we (now there4s a fourth layer to the )alim)sest.9 9There4s also the Buestion of )ersonnel,9 *aygay continued. 9Su))ose this

message goes on not for a year or two !ut for decades. Or su))ose this is Aust the first in a long series of messages from all o er the s(y. There are at most a few hundred really ca)a!le radio astronomers in the world. That is a ery small num!er when the sta(es are so high. The industriali:ed countries must start )roducing many more radio astronomers and radio engineers with first-rate training.9 &llie noted that 'otsrid:e, who had said little, was ta(ing detailed notes. She was again struc( !y how much more literate the So iets were in &nglish than the Americans in #ussian. Near the !eginning of the century, scientists all o er the world s)o(e--or at least read--'erman. 7efore that it had !een French, and !efore that 3atin. $n another century there might !e some other o!ligatory scientific language--Chinese, )erha)s. For the moment it was &nglish, and scientists all o er the )lanet struggled to learn its am!iguities and irregularities. 3ighting a fresh cigarette from the glowing ti) of its )redecessor, *aygay went on. 9There is something else to !e said. This is Aust s)eculation. $t4s not e en as )lausi!le as the idea that the Message will cycle !ac( on itself--which "rofessor *alerian Buite )ro)erly stressed was only a guess. $ would not ordinarily mention so s)eculati e an idea at such an early stage. 7ut if the s)eculation is sound, there are certain further actions we must !egin thin(ing a!out immediately. $ would not ha e the courage to raise this )ossi!ility if Academician Ar(hangels(y had not come tentati ely to the same conclusion. %e and $ ha e disagreed a!out the Buanti:ation of Buasar red shifts, the ex)lanation of su)erluminal light sources, the rest mass of the neutrino, Buar( )hysics in neutron stars... 6e ha e had many disagreements. $ must admit that sometimes he has !een right and sometimes $ ha e !een right. Almost ne er, it seems to me, in the early s)eculati e stage of a su!Aect, ha e we agreed. 7ut on this, we agree. 9'enri(h >mit4ch, would you ex)lain59 Ar(hangels(y seemed tolerant, e en amused. %e and 3unachars(y had !een for years engaged in )ersonal ri alry, heated scientific dis)utes, and a cele!rated contro ersy on

the )rudent le el of su))ort for So iet fusion research. 96e guess,9 he said, 9that the Message is the instructions for !uilding a machine. Of course, we ha e no (nowledge a!out how to decode the Message. The e idence is in internal references. $ gi e you an exam)le. %ere on )age +,FF+ is a clear reference to an earlier )age, +-H0;, which, !y luc(, we also ha e. The later )age was recei ed here in New Mexico, the earlier one at our o!ser atory near Tash(ent. On )age +-H0; there is another reference, this to a time when we were not co ering all longitudes. There are many cases of this !ac( referencing. $n general, and this is the im)ortant )oint, there are com)licated instructions on a recent )age, !ut sim)ler instructions on an earlier )age. $n one case there are eight citations to earlier material on a single )age.9 9That4s not an awfully com)elling arguments, guys,9 re)lied &llie. 9May!e it4s a set of mathematical exercises, the later ones !uilding on the earlier ones. May!e it4s a long no el--they might ha e ery long lifetimes com)ared to us--in which e ents are connected with childhood ex)eriences or whate er they ha e on *ega when they4re young. May!e it4s a tightly cross-referenced religious manual.9 9The Ten 7illion Commandments.9 >er %eer laughed. 9May!e,9 said 3unachars(y, starting through a cloud of cigarette smo(e out the window at the telesco)es. They seemed to !e staring longingly at the s(y. 97ut when you loo( at the )atterns of crossreferences, $ thin( you4ll agree it loo(s more li(e the instruction manual for !uilding a machine. 'od (nows what the machine is su))osed to do.9 C%A"T&# 0 The Numinous 6onder is the !asis of worshi). -T%OMAS CA#3.3& Sartor #esartus /+1----F2

$ maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and no!lest moti e for scientific research. -A37&#T &$NST&$N $deas and O)inions /+0,F2 She could recall the exact moment when, on one of many tri)s to 6ashington, she disco ered that she was falling in lo e with 8en der %eer. Arrangements for the meeting with "almer @oss seemed to !e ta(ing fore er. A))arently @oss was reluctant to isit the Argus facilityC it was the im)iety of the scientists, not their inter)retation of the Message, he now said, that interested him. And to )ro!e their character, some more neutral ground was needed. &llie was willing to go anywhere, and a s)ecial assistant to the "resident was negotiating. Other radio astronomers were not to goC the "resident wanted it to !e &llie alone. &llie was also waiting for the day, still some wee(s off, when she would fly to "aris for the first full meeting of the 6orld Message Consortium. She and *aygay were coordination the glo!al data-collection )rogram. The signal acBuisition was now fairly routine, and in recent months there had !een not one ga) in the co erage. So she found to her sur)rise that she had a little time on her hands. She owed to ha e a long tal( with her mother, and to remain ci il and friendly no matter what )ro ocation was offered. There was an a!surd amount of !ac(ed-u) )a)er and electronic mail to go through, not Aust congratulations and criticisms from colleagues, !ut religious admonitions, )seudoscientific s)eculations )ro)osed with great confidence, and fan mail from all o er the world. She had not read The Astro)hysical @ournal in months, although she was the first author of a ery recent )a)er that was surely the most extraordinary article that had e er a))eared in the august )u!lication. The signal from *ega was so strong that many amateurs--tired of 9ham9 radio--had !egun constructing their own small radio telesco)es and signal analy:ers. $n the early stages of Message acBuisition, they had turned u) some useful data, and &llie was still !esieged !y amateurs who thought they had acBuired something un(nown to the S&T$ )rofessionals. She felt an o!ligation to write encouraging letters. There were other meritorious radio astronomy )rograms at the facility--the Buasar sur ey, for exam)le--that needed attending to. 7ut instead of doing all these

things, she found herself s)ending almost all her time with 8en. Of course, it was her duty to in ol e the "resident4s Science Ad iser in "roAect Argus as dee)ly as he wished. $t was im)ortant that the "resident !e fully and com)etently informed. She ho)ed the leaders of other nations would !e as thoroughly !riefed on the findings from *ega as was the "resident of the Knited States. This "resident, while untrained in science, genuinely li(ed the su!Aect and was willing to su))ort science not only for its )ractical !enefits !ut, at least a little, for the Aoy of (nowing. This had !een true of few )re ious American leaders since @ames Madison and @ohn Juincy Adams. Still, it was remar(a!le how much time der %eer was a!le to s)end at Argus. %e did de ote an hour or more each day in high-!and)ass scram!led communications with his Office of Science and Technology "olicy in the Old &xecuti e Office 7uilding in 6ashington. 7ut the rest of the time, as far as she could see, he was sim)ly... around. %e would )o(e into the innards of the com)uter system, or isit indi idual radio telesco)es. Sometimes an assistant from 6ashington would !e with himC more often he would !e alone. She would see him through the o)en door of the s)are office they had assigned him, his feet )ro))ed u) on the des(, reading some re)ort or tal(ing on the )hone. %e would offer her a cheery wa e and return to his wor(. She would find him tal(ing casually with >rumlin or *alerianC !ut eBually so with Aunior technicians and with the secretarial staff, who had on more than one occasion )ronounced him, within &llie4s hearing, 9charming.9 >er %eer had many Buestions for her as well. At first they were )urely technical and )rogrammatic, !ut soon they extended to )lans for a wide ariety of concei a!le future e ents, and then to untrammeled s)eculation. These days it almost seemed that discussion of the )roAect was only a )retext to s)end a little time together. One fine autumn afternoon in 6ashington, the "resident was o!liged to delay a meeting of the S)ecial Contingency Tas( 'rou) !ecause of the Tyrone Free crisis. After an

o ernight flight from New Mexico, &llie and der %eer found themsel es with an unscheduled few hours, and decided to isit the *ietnam Memorial, designed !y Maya .ing 3in when she was still an undergraduate architectural student at .ale. Amidst the som!er and doleful reminders of a foolish war, der %eer seemed ina))ro)riately cheerful, and &llie !egan again to s)eculate a!out flaws in his character. A )air of 'eneral Ser ice administration )lainclothes security )eo)le, their custom-molded, flesh-colored ear)ieces in )lace, followed discreetly. %e had coaxed an exBuisite !lue cater)illar to clim! a!oard a twig. $t !ris(ly )added along, its iridescent !ody ri))ling with the motion of fourteen )airs of feet. At the end of the twig, it held on with its last fi e segments and failed the air in a )luc(y attem)t to find a new )erch. Knsuccessful, it turned itself around smartly and retraced its many ste)s. >er %eer then changed his clutch on the twig so that when the cater)illar returned to its starting )oint , there was again nowhere to go. 3i(e some caged mammalian carni ore, it )aced !ac( and forth many times, !ut in the last few )assages, it seemed to her, with increasing resignation. She was !eginning to feel )ity for the )oor creature, e en if it )ro ed to !e, say, the lar a res)onsi!le for the !arley !light. 96hat a wonderful )rogram in this little guy4s headP9 he exclaimed. 9$t wor(s e ery time-o)timum esca)e software. And he (nows not to fall off. $ mean the twig is effecti ely sus)ended in air. The cater)illar ne er ex)eriences that in nature, !ecause the twig is always connected to something. &llie, did you e er wonder what the )rogram would feel li(e if it was in your head5 $ mean, would it Aust seem o! ious to you what you had to do when you came to the end of a twig5 6ould you ha e the im)ression you were thin(ing it through5 6ould you wonder how you (new to sha(e your front ten feet in the air !ut hold on tight with the other eighteen59 She inclined her head slightly and examined him rather than the cater)illar. %e seemed to ha e little difficulty imagining her as an insect. She tried to re)ly noncommittally, reminding herself that for him this would !e a matter of )rofessional interest.

96hat4ll you do with it now59 9$4ll )ut it !ac( down in the grass, $ guess. 6hat else would you do with it59 9Some )eo)le might (ill it.9 9$t4s hard to (ill a creature once it lets you see its consciousness.9 %e continued to carry !oth twig and la a. They wal(ed for a while in silence )ast almost ,,,HHH names engra ed in reflecting !lac( granite. 9& ery go ernment that )re)ares for war )aints its ad ersaries as monsters,9 she said. 9They don4t want you thin(ing of the other side as human. $f the enemy can thin( and feel, you might hesitate to (ill them. And (illing is ery im)ortant. 7etter to see them as monsters.9 9%ere, loo( at this !eauty,9 he re)lied after a moment. 9#eally. 3oo( closely.9 She did. Fighting !ac( a small tremor of re ulsion, she tried to see it through his eyes. 96atch what it does,9 he continued. 9$f it was as !ig as you or me, it would scare e ery!ody to death. $t would !e a genuine monster, right5 7ut it4s little. $t eats lea es, minds its own !usiness, and adds a little !eauty to the world.9 She too( the hand not )reoccu)ied with the cater)illar, and they wal(ed wordlessly )ast the ran(s of names, inscri!ed in chronological order of death. These were, of course, only American casualties. &xce)t in the hearts of their families and friends, there was no com)ara!le memorial anywhere on the )lanet for the two million )eo)le of Southeast Asia who had also died in the conflict. $n America, the most common )u!lic comment a!out this war was a!out )olitical hamstringing of military )ower,

)sychologically a(in, she thought, to the 9sta!-in-the-!ac(9 ex)lanation !y 'erman militarists of their 6orld 6ar $ defeat. The *ietnam war was a )ustule on the national conscience that no "resident so far had the courage to lance. /Su!seBuent )olicies of the >emocratic #e)u!lic of *ietnam had not made this tas( easier.2 She remem!ered how common it was for American soldiers to call their *ietnamese ad ersaries 9goo(s,9 9slo)eheads,9 9slant-eyes,9 and worse. Could we )ossi!ly manage the next )hase of human history without first dealing with this )enchant for dehumani:ing the ad ersary5 = = = $n e eryday con ersation, der %eer didn4t tal( li(e an academic. $f you met him at the corner newsstand !uying a )a)er, you4d ne er guess he was a scientist. %e hadn4t lost his new .or( street accent. At first the a))arent incongruity !etween his language and the Buality of his scientific wor( seemed amusing to his colleagues. As his research and the man himself !ecame !etter (nown, his accent !ecame merely idiosyncratic. 7ut his )ronunciation of, say, guanosine tri)hos)hate, seemed to gi e this !enign molecule ex)losi e )ro)erties. They had !een slow in recogni:ing that they were falling in lo e. $t must ha e !een a))arent to many others. A few wee(s !efore, when 3unachars(y was still at Argus, he launched himself on one of his occasional tirades on the irrationality of language. This time it was the turn of American &nglish. 9&llie, why do )eo)le say ?ma(e the same mista(e again45 6hat does ?again4 add to the sentence5 And am $ right that ?!urn u)4 and ?!urn down4 mean the same thing5 ?Slow u)4 and ?slow down4 mean the same thing5 So if ?screw u)4 is acce)ta!le, why not ?screw down459 She nodded wearily. She had heard him more than once com)lain to his So iet colleagues on the inconsistencies of the #ussian language, and was sure she would hear a French edition of all this at the "aris conference. She was ha))y to admit that languages had infelicities, !ut they had so many sources and e ol ed in res)onse to so many small )ressures that it would !e astonishing if

they were )erfectly coherent and internally consistent. *aygay had such a good time com)laining, though, that she ordinarily did not ha e the heart to remonstrate with him. 9And ta(e this )hrase ?head o er heels in lo e,49 he continued. 9This is a common ex)ression, yes5 7ut it4s exactly !ac(ward. Or, rather, u)side down. .ou are ordinarily head o er heels. 6hen you are in lo e you should !e heels o er head. Am $ right5 .ou would (now a!out falling in lo e. 7ut whoe er in ented this )hrase did not (now a!out lo e. %e imagined you wal( around in the usual way, instead of floating u)side down in the air, li(e the wor( of that French )ainter--what4s his name59 9%e was #ussian,9 she re)lied. Marc Chagall had )ro ided a narrow )athway out of a somehow aw(ward con ersational thic(et. Afterward she wondered if *aygay had !een teasing her or )ro!ing for a res)onse. "erha)s he had only unconsciously recogni:ed the growing !ond !etween &llie and der %eer. At least )art of der %eer4s reluctance was clear. %ere he was, the "resident4s Science Ad iser, de oting an enormous amount of time to an un)recedented, delicate, and olatile matter. To !ecome emotionally in ol ed with one of the )rinci)als was ris(y. The "resident certainly wanted his Audgment unim)aired. %e should !e a!le to recommend courses of action that &llie o))osed, and to urge reAection of o)tions that she su))orted. Falling in lo e with &llie would on some le el com)romise der %eer4s effecti eness. For &llie it was more com)licated. 7efore she had acBuired the somewhat staid res)ecta!ility of the directorshi) of a maAor radio o!ser atory, she had had many )artners. 6hile she had felt herself in lo e and declared herself so, marriage had ne er seriously tem)ter her. She dimly remem!ered the Buatrain--was it 6illiam 7utler .eats5--with which she had tried to reassure her early swains, heart!ro(en !ecause, as always, she had determined that the affair was o er< ??.ou say there is no lo e, my lo e,

Knless it lasts for aye. Ah, folly, there are e)isodes Far !etter than the )lay.??

She recalled how charming @ohn Staughton had !een to her while courting her mother, and how easily he had cast off this )rose after he !ecame her ste)father. Some new and monstrous )ersona, hitherto !arely glim)sed, could emerge in men shortly after you married them. %er romantic )redis)ositions made her ulnera!le, she thought. She was not going to re)eat her mother4s mista(e. A little dee)er was a fear of falling in lo e without reser ation, of committing herself to someone who might then !e snatched from her. Or sim)ly lea e herC. 7ut if you ne er really fall in lo e, you can ne er really miss it. /She did not dwell on this sentiment, dimly aware that it did not ring Buite true.2 Also, if she ne er really fell in lo e with someone, she could ne er really !etray him, as in her heart of hearts she felt that her mother had !etrayed her longdead father. She still missed him terri!ly. 6ith 8en it seemed to !e different. Or had her ex)ectations !een gradually com)romised o er the years5 Knli(e many other men she could thin( of, when challenged or stressed 8en dis)layed a gentler, more com)assionate side. %is tendency to com)romise and his s(ill in scientific )olitics were )art of the accouterments of his Ao!C !ut underneath she felt she had glim)sed something solid. She res)ected him for the way he had integrated science into the whole of his life, and for the courageous su))ort for science that he had tried to inculcate into two administrations. They had, as discreetly as )ossi!le, !een staying together, more or less, in her small a)artment at Argus. Their con ersations were a Aoy, with ideas flying !ac( and forth li(e shuttlecoc(s. Sometimes they res)onded to each other4s uncom)leted thoughts with almost )erfect fore(nowledge. %e was a considerate and in enti e lo er. And anyway, she li(ed his )heromones. She was sometimes ama:ed at what she was a!le to do and say in his )resence, !ecause of their lo e. She came to admire him so much that his lo e for her affected her own

self-esteem< She li(ed herself !etter !ecause of him. And since he clearly felt the same, there was a (ind of infinite regress of lo e and res)ect underlying their relationshi). At least, that was how she descri!ed it to herself. $n the )resence of so many of her friends, she had felt an undercurrent of loneliness. 6ith 8en, it was gone. She was comforta!le descri!ing to him her re eries, snatches of memories, childhood em!arrassments. And he was not merely interested !ut fascinated. %e would Buestion her for hours a!out her childhood. %is Buestions were always direct, sometimes )ro!ing, !ut without exce)tion gentle. she !egan to understand why lo ers tal( !a!y tal( to one another. There was no other socially acce)ta!le circumstance in which the children inside her were )ermitted to come out. $f the on-year-old, the fi e-yearold, the twel e-year-old, and the twenty-year-old all find com)ati!le )ersonalities in the !elo ed, there is a real chance to (ee) all of these su!-)ersonas ha))y. 3o e ends their long loneliness. "erha)s the de)th of lo e can !e cali!rated !y the num!er of different sel es that are acti ely in ol ed in a gi en relationshi). 6ith her )re ious )artners, it seemed, at most one of these sel es was a!le to find a com)ati!le o))osite num!erC the other )ersonas were grum)y hangers-on. = = = The wee(end !efore the scheduled meeting with @oss, they were lying in !ed as the late-afternoon sunlight, admitted !etween the slats of the enetian !linds, )layed )atterns on their intertwined forms. 9$n ordinary con ersation,9 she was saying, 9$ can tal( a!out my father without feeling more than... a slight )ang of loss. 7ut if $ allow myself to really remem!er him--his sense of humor, say, or that... )assionate fairness--then the facade crum!les, and $ want to wee) !ecause he4s gone.9 9No BuestionC language can free us of feeling, or almost,9 der %eer re)lied, stro(ing her shoulder. 9May!e that4s one of its functions--so we can understand the world without !ecoming entirely o erwhelmed !y it.9

9$f so, then the in ention of language isn4t only a !lessing. .ou (now, 8en, $4d gi e anything--$ really mean anything $ ha e--if $ could s)end a few minutes with my dad.9 She imagined a hea en with all those nice moms and dads floating a!out or fla))ing o er to a near!y cloud. $t would ha e to !e a commodious )lace to accommodate all the tens of !illions of )eo)le who had li ed and died since the emergence of the human s)ecies. $t might !e ery crowded, she was thin(ing, unless the religious hea en was !uilt on a scale something li(e the astronomical hea en. Then there4d !e room to s)are. 9There must !e some num!er,9 &llie said, 9that measures the total )o)ulation of intelligent !eings in the Mil(y 6ay. %ow many do you su))ose it is5 $f there4s a million ci ili:ations, each with a!out a !illion indi iduals, that4s, um, ten to the fifteenth )ower intelligent !eings. 7ut if most of them are more ad anced than we are, may!e the idea of indi iduals !ecomes ina))ro)riateC may!e that4s Aust another &arth chau inism.9 9Sure. And then you can calculate the galactic )roduction rate of 'auloises and Twin(ies and *olga sedans and Sony )oc(et communicators. Then we could calculate the 'ross 'alactic "roduct. Once we ha e that in hand, we could wor( on the 'ross Comic...9 9.ou4re ma(ing fun of me,9 she said with a soft smile, not at all dis)leased. 97ut thin( a!out such num!ers. $ mean really thin( a!out them. All those )lanets with all those !eings, more ad anced than we are. don4t you get a (ind of tingle thin(ing a!out it59 She could tell what he was thin(ing, !ut rushed on. 9%ere, loo( at this. $4 e !een reading u) for the meeting with @oss.9 She reached toward the !edside ta!le for *olume +G of an old &ncyclo)aedia 7ritannica

Macro)aedia, titled 9#u!ens to Somalia,9 and o)ened to a )age where a scra) of com)uter )rintout had !een inserted as a !oo(mar(. She )ointed to an article called 9Sacred or %oly.9 9The theologians seem to ha e recogni:ed a s)ecial, nonrational--$ wouldn4t call it irrational-as)ect of the feeling of sacred or holy. They call it ?numinous.4 The term was first used !y... let4s see... some!ody named #udol)h Otto in a +0D- !oo(, The $dea of the %oly. %e !elie ed that humans were )redis)osed to detect and re ere the numinous. %e called it the misterium tremendum. & en my 3atin is good enough for that. 9$n the )resence of the misterium tremendum, )eo)le feel utterly insignificant !ut, if $ read this right, not )ersonally alienated. %e thought of the numinous as a thing ?wholly other,4 and the human res)onse to it as ?a!solute astonishment.4 Now, if that4s what religious )eo)le tal( a!out when they use words li(e sacred or holy, $4m with them. $ felt something li(e that Aust in listening for a signal, ne er mind in actually recei ing it. $ thin( all of science elicits that sense of awe.9 9Now listen to this.9 She read from the text< Throughout the )ast hundred years a num!er of )hiloso)hers and social scientists ha e asserted the disa))earance of the sacred, and )redicted the demise of religion. A study of the history of religions shows that religious forms change and that there has ne er !een unanimity on the nature and ex)ression of religion 6hether or not man...

9Sexists write and edit religious articles, too, of course.9 She returned to the text. 6hether or not man is now in a new situation for de elo)ing structures of ultimate alues radically different from those )ro ided in the traditionally affirmed awareness of the sacred is a ital Buestion.

9So59 9So, $ thin( the !ureaucratic religions try to institutionali:e your )erce)tion

of the numinous instead of )ro iding the means so you can )ercei e the numinous directly--li(e loo(ing through a six-inch telesco)e. $f sensing the numinous is at the heart of religion, who4s more religious would you say--the )eo)le who follow the !ureaucratic religions or the )eo)le who teach themsel es science59 93et4s see if $4 e got this straight,9 he returned. $t was a )hrase of hers that he had ado)ted. 9$t4s a la:y Saturday afternoon, and there4s this cou)le lying na(ed in !ed reading the &ncyclo)aedia 7ritannica to each other, and arguing a!out whether the Andromeda 'alaxy is more ?numinous4 than the #esurrection. >o they (now how to ha e a good time, or don4t they59 "A#T $$ T%& MAC%$N& The Almighty 3ecturer, !y dis)laying the )rinci)les of science in the structure of the uni erse, has in ited man to study and to imitation. $t is as if %e had said to the inha!itants of this glo!e that we call ours, 9$ ha e made an earth for man to dwell u)on, and $ ha e rendered the starry hea ens isi!le, to teach him science and the arts. he can now )ro ide for his own comfort, and learn from my munificence to all to !e (ind to each other. -T%OMAS "A$N& The Age of #eason /+;0F2 C%A"T&# +H "recession of the &Buinoxes >o we, holding that gods exist, decei e oursel es with insu!stantial dreams and lies, while random careless chance and change alone control the world5 -&K#$"$>&S %ecu!a $t was odd the way it had wor(ed out. She had imagined that "almer @oss would come to the Argus facility, watch the signal !eing gathered in !y the radio telesco)es, and ta(e note of the huge room full of magnetic ta)es and dis(s on which the )re ious many months of data were stored. %e would

as( a few scientific Buestions and then examine, in its multi)licity of :eros and ones, some of the reams of com)uter )rintout dis)laying the still incom)rehensi!le Message. She hadn4t imagined s)ending hours arguing )hiloso)hy or theology. 7ut @oss had refused to come to Argus. $t wasn4t magnetic ta)e he wanted to scrutini:e, he said, it was human character. "eter *alerian would ha e !een ideal for this discussion< un)retentious, a!le to communicate clearly, and !ulwar(ed !y a genuine Christian faith that engaged him daily. 7ut the "resident had a))arently etoed the ideaC she had wanted a small meeting and had ex)licitly as(ed that &llie attend. @oss had insisted that the discussion !e held here, at the 7i!le Science #esearch $nstitute and Museum in Modesto, California. She glanced )ast der %eer and out the glass )artition that se)arated the li!rary from the exhi!it area. @ust outside was a )laster im)ression from a #ed #i er sandstone of dinosaur foot)rints inters)ersed with those of a )edestrian in sandals, )ro ing, so the ca)tion said, that Man and >inosaur were contem)oraries, at least in Texas. Meso:oic shoema(ers seemed also to !e im)lied. The conclusion drawn in the ca)tion was that e olution was a fraud. The o)inion of many )aleontologists that the sandstone was the fraud remained, &llie had noted two hours earlier, unmentioned. The intermingled foot)rints were )art of a ast exhi!it called 9>arwin4s >efault.9 To its left was a Foucault )endulum demonstrating the scientific assertion, this one a))arently uncontested, that the &arth turns. To its right, &llie could see )art of a la ish Matsushita hologra)hy unit on the )odium of a small theater, from which three-dimensional images of the most eminent di ines could communicate directly to the faithful. Communicating still more directly to her at this moment was the #e erend 7illy @o #an(in. She had not (nown until the last moment that @oss had in ited #an(in, and she was sur)rised at the news. There had !een continuous theological dis)utation !etween them, on whether and Ad ent was at had, whether >oomsday is a necessary accom)animent of the Ad ent, and on the role of miracles in the ministry, among other matters. 7ut they had recently effected a widely )u!lici:ed reconciliation, done, it was said, for the common good of the fundamentalist community in America. The signs of

ra))rochement !etween the Knited States and the So iet Knion were ha ing worldwide ramifications in the ar!itration of dis)utes. %olding the meeting here was )erha)s )art of the )rice "almer @oss had to )ay for the reconciliation. Concei a!ly, #an(in felt the exhi!its would )ro ide factual su))ort for his )osition, were there any scientific )oints in dis)ute. Now, two hours into their discussion, #an(in was still alternately castigating and im)loring. %is suit was immaculately tailored, his nails freshly manicured, and his !eaming smile stood in some contrast to @oss4s rum)led, distracted, and more weather-!eaten a))earance. @oss, the faintest of smiles on his face, had his eyes half closed and his head !owed in what seemed ery close to an attitude of )rayer. %e had not had to say much. #an(in4s remar(s so far--exce)t for the #a)ture ra), she guessed-were doctrinally indistinguisha!le from @oss4s tele ision address. 9.ou scientists are so shy,9 #an(in was saying. 9.ou lo e to hide your light under a !ushel !as(et. .ou4d ne er guess what4s in those articles from the titles. &instein4s first wor( on the Theory of #elati ity was called ?The &lectrodynamics of Mo ing 7odies.4 No &TmcD u) front. No sir. ?The &lectrodynamics of Mo ing 7odies.4 $ su))ose if 'od a))eared to a whole gaggle of scientists, may!e at one of those !ig Association meetings, they4d write something all a!out it and call it, may!e, ?On S)ontaneous >endritoform Com!ustion in Air.4 They4d ha e lots of eBuationsC they4d tal( a!out ?economy of hy)othesis4C !ut they4d ne er say a word a!out 'od. 9.4see, you scientists are too s(e)tical.9 From the sidewise motion of his head, &llie deduced that der %eer was also included in this assessment. 9.ou Buestion e erything, or try to. .ou ne er heard a!out ?3ea e well enough alone,4 or ?$f it ain4t !ro(e, don4t fix it.4 .ou always want to chec( out if a thing is what you call ?true.4 And ?true4 means only em)irical, sense data, things you can see and touch. There4s no room for ins)iration or re elation in your world. #ight from the !eginning you rule out of court almost e erything religion is a!out. $ mistrust the scientists !ecause the scientists mistrust e erything.9 >es)ite herself, she thought #an(in had )ut his case well. And he was su))osed

to !e the dum! one among the modern ideo e angelists. No, not dum!, she corrected herselfC he was the one who considered his )arishioners dum!. %e could, for all she (new, !e ery smart indeed. Should she res)ond at all5 7oth der %eer and the local museum )eo)le were recording the discussion, and although !oth grou)s had agreed that the recordings were not for )u!lic use, she worried a!out em!arrassing the )roAect or the "resident if she s)o(e her mind. !ut #an(in4s remar(s had !ecome increasingly outrageous, and no inter entions were !eing made either !y der %eer or !y @oss. 9$ su))ose you want a re)ly,9 she found herself saying. 9There isn4t an ?official4 scientific )osition on any of these Buestions, and $ can4t )retend to tal( for all scientists or e en for the Argus "roAect. 7ut $ can ma(e some comments, if you4d li(e.9 #an(in nodded his head igorously, smiling encouragement. 3anguidly, @oss merely waited. 9$ want you to understand that $4m not attac(ing any!ody4s !elief system. As far as $4m concerned, you4re entitled to any doctrine you li(e, e en if it4s demonstra!ly wrong. And many of the things you4re saying, and that the #e erend @oss has said--$ saw you tal( on tele ision a few wee(s ago--can4t !e dismissed instantly. $t ta(es a little wor(. 7ut let me try to ex)lain why $ thin( they4re im)ro!a!le.9 So far, she though, $4 e !een the soul of restraint. 9.ou4re uncomforta!le with scientific s(e)ticism. 7ut the reason it de elo)ed is that the world is com)licated. $t4s su!tle. & ery!ody4s first idea isn4t necessarily right. Also, )eo)le are ca)a!le of selfdece)tion. Scientists, too. All sorts of socially a!horrent doctrines ha e at one time or another !een su))orted !y scientists, well-(nown scientists, famous !rand-name scientists. And, of course, )oliticians. And res)ected religious leaders. Sla ery, for instance, or the Na:i !rand of racism. Scientists ma(e mista(es, theologians ma(e mista(es, e ery!ody ma(es mista(es. $t4s )art of !eing human. .ou say it yoursel es< ?To

err is.4 9So the way you a oid the mista(es, or at least reduce the chance that you4ll ma(e one, is to !e s(e)tical. .ou test the ideas. .ou chec( them out !y rigorous standards of e idence. $ don4t thin( there is such a thing as a recei ed truth. 7ut when you let the different o)inions de!ate, when any s(e)tic can )erform his or her own ex)eriment to chec( some contention out, then the truth tends to emerge. That4s the ex)erience of the whole history of science. $t isn4t a )erfect a))roach, !ut it4s the only one that seems to wor(. 9Now, when $ loo( at religion, $ see lots of contending o)inions. For exam)le, the Christians thin( the uni erse is a finite num!er of years old. From the exhi!its out there, it4s clear that some Christians /and @ews, and Muslims2 thin( that the uni erse is only six thousand years old. The %indus, on the other had-and there are lots of %indus in the world--thin( that the uni erse is infinitely old, with an infinite num!er of su!sidiary creations and destructions along the way. Now they can4t !oth !e right. &ither the uni erse is a certain num!er of years old or it4s infinitely old. .our friends out there9--she gestured out the glass door toward se eral museum wor(ers am!ling )ast 9>arwin4s >efault9--9ought to de!ate %indus. 'od seems to ha e told them something different from what he told you. 7ut you tend to tal( only to yoursel es.9 May!e a little too strong5 she as(ed herself. 9The maAor religions on the &arth contradict each other left and right. .ou can4t all !e correct. And what if all of you are wrong5 $t4s a )ossi!ility, you (now. .ou must care a!out the truth, right5 6ell, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to !e s(e)tical. $4m not any more s(e)tical a!out your religious !eliefs than $ am a!out e ery new scientific idea $ hear a!out. 7ut in my line of wor(, they4re called hy)otheses, not ins)iration and not re elation.9 @oss now stirred a little, !ut it was #an(ing who re)lied.

9The re elations, the confirmed )redictions !y 'od in the Old Testament and the New are legion. The coming of the Sa iour is foretold in $saiah fifty-three, in Lechariah fourteen, in First Chronicles se enteen. That %e would !e !orn in 7ethlehem was )ro)hesied in Micah fi e. That %e would come from the line of >a id was foretold in Matthew one and--9 9$n 3u(e. 7ut that ought to !e an em!arrassment for you, not a fulfilled )ro)hecy. Matthew and 3u(e gi e @esus totally different genealogies. 6orse than that, they trace the lineage from >a id to @ose)h, not from >a id to Mary. Or don4t you !elie e in 'od the Father59 #an(in continued smoothly on. "erha)s he hadn4t understood her. 9...the Ministry and Suffering of @esus are foretold in $saiah fifty-two and fifty-three, and the Twenty-second "salm. That %e would !e !etrayed for thirty )ieces of sil er is ex)licit in Lechariah ele en. $f you4re honest, you can4t ignore the e idence of fulfilled )ro)hecy. 9And the 7i!le s)ea(s to our own time. $srael and the Ara!s, 'og and Magog, American and #ussia, nuclear war--it4s all there in the 7i!le. Any!ody with an ounce of sense can see it. .ou don4t ha e to !e some fancy college )rofessor.9 9.our trou!le,9 she re)lied, 9is a failure of the imagination. These )ro)hecies are--almost e er one of them-- ague, am!iguous, im)recise, o)en to fraud. They admit lots of )ossi!le inter)retations. & en the straightforward )ro)hecies direct from the to) you try to weasel out of--li(e @esus4 )romise that the 8ingdom of 'od would come in the lifetime of some )eo)le in his audience. And don4t tell me the 8ingdom of 'od is within me. %is audience understood him Buite literally. .ou only Buote the )assages that seem to you fulfilled, and ignore the rest. And don4t forget there was a hunger to see )ro)hecy fulfilled. 97ut imagine that your (ind of god--omni)otent, omniscient, com)assionate-really wanted to lea e a record for future generations, to ma(e his existence unmista(a!le to,

say, the remote descendants of Moses. $t4s easy, tri ial. @ust a few enigmatic )hrases, and some fierce commandment that they !e )assed on unchanged...9 9@oss leaned forward almost im)erce)ti!ly. 9Such as...59 9Such as ?The Sun is a star.4 Or ?Mars is a rusty )lace with deserts and olcanos, li(e Sinai.4 Or ?A !ody in motion tends to remain in motion.4 Or--let4s see now9--she Buic(ly scri!!led some num!ers on a )ad--9?The &arth weighs a million million million million times as much as a child.4 Or--$ recogni:e that !oth of you seem to ha e some trou!le with s)ecial relati ity, !ut it4s confirmed e ery day routinely in )article accelerators and cosmic rays--how a!out ?There are no )ri ileged frames of reference45 Or e en ?Thou shalt not tra el faster than light.4 anything they couldn4t )ossi!le ha e (nown three thousand years ago.9 9Any others59 @oss as(ed. 96ell, there4s an indefinite num!er of them--or at least one for e ery )rinci)al of )hysics. 3et4s see... ?%eat and light hid in the smallest )e!!le.4 Or e en ?The way of the &arth is as two, !ut the way of the lodestone is as three.4 $4m trying to suggest that the gra itational force follows an in erse sBuare law, while the magnetic di)ole force follows an in erse cu!e law. Or in !iology9--she nodded toward der %eer, who seemed to ha e ta(en a ow of silence--9how a!out ?Two strands entwined is the secret of life459 9Now that4s an interesting one,9 said @oss. 9.ou4re tal(ing, of course, a!out >NA. 7ut you (now the )hysician4s staff, the sym!ol of medicine5 Army doctors wear it on their la)els. $t4s called the caduceus. Shows two ser)ents intertwined. $t4s a )erfect dou!le helix. From ancient times that4s !een the sym!ol of )reser ing life. $sn4t this exactly the (ind of connection you4re suggesting59 96ell, $ thought it4s a s)iral, not a helix. 7ut if there are enough sym!ols and enough )ro)hecies

and enough myth and fol(lore, e entually a few of them are going to fit some current scientific understanding )urely !y accident. 7ut $ can4t !e sure. May!e you4re right. May!e the caduceus is a message from 'od. Of course, it4s not a Christian sym!ol, or a sym!ol of any of the maAor religions today. $ don4t su))ose you4d want to argue that the gods tal(ed only to the ancient 'ree(s. what $4m saying is, if 'od wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could thin( of doing it, he could ha e done a !etter Ao!. And he hardly had to confine himself to writings. 6hy isn4t there a monster crucifix or!iting the &arth5 6hy isn4t the surface of the Moon co ered with the Ten Commandments5 6hy should 'od !e so clear in the 7i!le and so o!scure in the world59 @oss had a))arently !een ready to re)ly a few sentences !ac(, a loo( of genuine )leasure unex)ectedly on his face, !ut &llie4s rush of words was gathering momentum, and )erha)s he felt it im)olite to interru)t. 9Also, why would you thin( that 'od has a!andoned us5 %e used to chat with )atriarchs and )ro)hets e ery second Tuesday, you !elie e. %e4s omni)otent, you say, and omniscient. So it4s no )articular effort for him to remind us directly, unam!iguously, of his wishes at least a few times in e ery generation. So how come, fellas5 6hy don4t we see him with crystal clarity59 96e do.9 #an(in )ut enormous feeling in this )hrase. 9%e is all around us. Our )rayers are answered. Tens of millions of )eo)le in this country ha e !een !orn again and ha e witnessed 'od4s glorious grace. the 7i!le s)ea(s to us as clearly in this day as it did in the time of Moses and @esus.9 9Oh, come off it. .ou (now what $ mean. 6here are the !urning !ushes, the )illars of fire, the great oice that says ?$ am that $ am4 !ooming down at us out of the s(y5 6hy should 'od manifest himself in such su!tle and de!ata!le ways when he can ma(e his )resence com)letely unam!iguous59 97ut a oice from the s(y is Aust what you found.9 @oss made this comment

casually while &llie )aused for !reath. %e held her eyes with his own. #an(in Buic(ly )ic(ed u) the thought. 9A!solutely. @ust what $ was going to say. A!raham and Moses, they didn4t ha e radios or telesco)es. They couldn4t ha e heard the Almighty tal(ing on FM. May!e today 'od tal(s to us in new ways and )ermits us to ha e a new understanding. Or may!e it4s not 'od--9, Satan. $4 e heard some tal( a!out that. $t sounds cra:y. 3et4s lea e that one alone for a moment, if it4s o(ay with you. .ou thin( the Message is the *oice of 'od, your 'od. 6here in your religion does 'od answer a )rayer !y re)eating the )rayer !ac(59 9$ wouldn4t call a Na:i newsreel a )rayer, myself,9 @oss said. 9.ou say it4s to attract our attention.9 9Then why do you thin( 'od has chosen to tal( to scientists5 6hy not )reachers li(e yourself59 9'od tal(s to me all the time.9 #an(in4s index finger audi!ly thum)ed his sternum. 9and the #e erend @oss here. 'od has told me that a re elation is at hand. 6hen the end of the world is nigh, the #a)ture will !e u)on us, the Audgment of sinners, the ascension to hea en of the elect--9 9>id he tell you he was going to ma(e that announcement in the radio s)ectrum5 $s your con ersation with 'od recorded somewhere, so we can erify that it really ha))ened5 Or do we ha e only your say-so5 6hy would 'od choose to announce it to radio astronomers and not to men and women of the cloth5 >on4t you thin( it4s a little strange that the first message from 'od in two thousand years or more is )rime num!ers... and Adolf %itler at the +0-G Olym)ics5 .our 'od must ha e Buite a sense of humor.9 9My 'od can ha e any sense %e wants to ha e.9

>er %eer was clearly alarmed at the first a))earance of real rancor. 9Kh, may!e $ could remind us all a!out what we ho)e to accom)lish at this meeting,9 he !egan. %ere4s 8en in his mollifying mode, &llie thought. On some issues he4s courageous, !ut chiefly when he has not res)onsi!ility for action. %e4s a !ra e tal(er... in )ri ate. 7ut on scientific )olitics, and es)ecially when re)resenting the "resident, he !ecomes ery accommodating, ready to com)romise with the >e il himself. She caught herself. The theological language was getting to her. 9That4s another thing.9 She interru)ted her own train of though as well as der %eer4s. 9$f that signal is from 'od, why does it come from Aust one )lace in the s(y--in the icinity of a )articularly !right near!y star5 6hy doesn4t it come from all o er the s(y at once, li(e the cosmic !lac(-!ody !ac(ground radiation5 Coming from one star, it loo(s li(e a signal from another ci ili:ation. Coming from e erywhere, it would loo( much more li(e a signal from your 'od.9 9'od can ma(e a signal come from the !unghole of the 3ittle 7ear if %e wants.9 #an(in4s face was !ecoming !right red. 9&xcuse me, !ut you4 e gotten me riled u). 'od can do anything.9 9Anything you don4t understand, Mr. #an(in, you attri!ute to 'od. 'od for you is where you swee) away all the mysteries of the world, all the challenges t our intelligence. .ou sim)ly turn you mind off and say 'od did it.9 9Ma4am $ didn4t come here to !e insulted...9 9?Come here45 $ thought this was where you li ed.9 9Ma4am--9 #an(in was a!out to say something, !ut then thought !etter of it. %e too( a dee) !reath and continued. 9This is a Christian country and Christians ha e true (nowledge on this issue, a sacred res)onsi!ility to ma(e sure that 'od4s sacred word is understood...9

9$4m a Christian and you don4t s)ea( for me. .ou4 e ta))ed yourself in some sort of fifth-century religious mania. Since then the #enaissance has ha))ened, the &nlightenment has ha))ened. 6here4 e you !een59 7oth @oss and der %eer were half out of their chairs. 9"lease,9 8en im)lored, loo(ing directly at &llie. 9$f we don4t (ee) more to the agenda, $ don4t see how we can accom)lish what the "resident as(ed us to do.9 96ell, you wanted ?a fran( exchange of iews.49 9$t4s nearly noon,9 @oss o!ser ed. 96hy don4t we ta(e a little !rea( for lunch59 Outside the li!rary conference room, leaning on the railing surrounding the Foucault )endulum, &llie !egan a !rief whis)ered exchange with der %eer. 9$4d li(e to )unch out that coc(sure, (now-it-all, holier-than-thou...9 96hy, exactly, &llie5 Aren4t ignorance and error )ainful enough59, if he4d shut u). 7ut he4s corru)ting millions.9 9Sweetheart, he thin(s the same a!out you.9 6hen she and der %eer came !ac( from lunch, &llie noticed immediately that #an(in a))eared su!dued, while @oss, who was first to s)ea(, seemed cheerful, certainly !eyond the reBuirements of mere cordiality. 9>r. Arroway,9 he !egan, 9$ can understand that you4re im)atient to show us your findings, and that you didn4t come here for theological dis)utation. 7ut )lease !ear with us Aust a !it longer. .ou ha e a shar) tongue. $ can4t recall the last time 7rother #an(in here got so stirred u) on matters of the faith. $t must !e years.9

%e glanced momentarily at his colleague, who was doodling, a))arently idly, on a yellow legal )ad, his collar un!uttoned and his nec(tie loosened. 9$ was struc( !y one or two things you said this morning. .ou called yourself a Christian. May $ as(5 $n what sense are you a Christian59 9.ou (now, this wasn4t the Ao! descri)tion when $ acce)ted the directorshi) of the Argus "roAect.9 She said this lightly. 9$4m a Christian in the sense that $ find @esus Christ to !e an admira!le historical figure. $ thin( the Sermon on the Mount is one of the greatest ethical statements and one of the !est s)eeches in history. $ thin( that ?3o e your enemy4 might e en !e the long-shot solution to the )ro!lem of nuclear war. $ wish he was ali e today. $t would !enefit e ery!ody on the )lanet. 7ut $ thin( @esus was only a man. A great man, a !ra e man, a man with insight into un)o)ular truths. 7ut $ don4t thin( he was 'od or the son of 'od or the grandne)hew of 'od.9 9.ou don4t want to !elie e in 'od.9 @oss said it as a sim)le statement. 9.ou figure you can !e a Christian and not !elie e in 'od. 3et me as( you straight out< >o you !elie e in 'od59 9The Buestion has a )eculiar structure. $f $ say no, do $ mean $4m con inced 'od doesn4t exist, or do $ mean $4m not con inced he does exist5 Those are two ery different statements.9 93et4s see if they are so different, >r. Arroway. May $ call you ?>octor45 .ou !elie e in Occam4s #a:or, isn4t that right5 $f you ha e two different, eBually good ex)lanations of the same ex)erience, you )ic( the sim)lest. The whole history of science su))orts it, you say. Now, if you ha e serious dou!ts a!out whether there is a 'od--enough dou!ts so you4re unwilling to commit yourself to the Faith--then you must !e a!le to imagine a world without 'od< a world that comes into !eing without 'od, a world where )eo)le die without 'od. No )unishment. No reward. All the saints and )ro)hets, all the

faithful who ha e e er li ed--why, you4d ha e to !elie e they were foolish. >ecei ed themsel es, you4d )ro!a!ly say. That would !e a world in which we weren4t here on &arth for any good reason--$ mean for any )ur)ose. $t would all !e Aust com)licated collisions of atoms--is that right5 $ncluding the atoms that are inside human !eings. 9To me, that would !e a hateful and inhuman world. $ wouldn4t want to li e in it. 7ut if you can imagine that world, why straddle5 6hy occu)y some middle ground5 $f you !elie e all that already, isn4t it much sim)ler to say there4s on 'od5 .ou4re not !eing true to Occam4s #a:or. $ thin( you4re waffling. %ow can a thoroughgoing conscientious scientist !e an agnostic if you can e en imagine a world without 'od5 6ouldn4t you Aust ha e to !e an atheist59 9$ thought you were going to argue that 'od is the sim)ler hy)othesis,9 &llie said, 9!ut this is a much !etter )oint. $f it were only a matter of scientific discussion, $4d agree with you, #e erend @oss. Science is essentially concerned with examining and correcting hy)otheses. $f the laws of nature ex)lain all the a aila!le facts without su)ernatural inter ention, or e en do only as well as the 'od hy)othesis, then for the time !eing $4d call myself an atheist. Then, if a single )iece of e idence was disco ered that doesn4t fit, $d !ac( off from atheism. 6e4re fully a!le to detect some !rea(down in the laws of nature. The reason $ don4t call myself an atheist is !ecause this isn4t mainly a scientific issue. $t4s a religious issue and a )olitical issue. The tentati e nature of scientific hy)othesis doesn4t extend into these fields. .ou don4t tal( a!out 'od as a hy)othesis. .ou thin( you4 e cornered the truth, so $ )oint out that you may ha e missed a thing or two. 7ut if you as(, $4m ha))y to tell you< $ can4t !e sure $4m right.9 9$4 e always thought an agnostic is an atheist without the courage of his con ictions.9 9.ou could Aust as well say that an agnostic is a dee)ly religious )erson with at least a rudimentary (nowledge of human falli!ility. 6hen $ say $4m an agnostic, $ only mean that the e idence isn4t in. There isn4t com)elling e idence that 'od exists--at least your (ind of god--and there

isn4t com)elling e idence that he doesn4t. Since more than half the )eo)le on the &arth aren4t @ews or Christian or Muslims, $4d say that there aren4t any com)elling arguments for your (ind of god. Otherwise, e ery!ody on &arth would ha e !een con erted. $ say again, if you 'od wanted to con ince us, he could ha e done a much !etter Ao!. 93oo( at how clearly authentic the Message is. $t4s !eing )ic(ed u) all o er the world. #adio telesco)es are humming away in countries with different histories, different languages, different )olitics, different religions. & ery!ody4s getting the same (ind of data from the same )lace in the s(y, at the same freBuencies with the same )olari:ation modulation. The Muslims, the %indus, the Christians, and the atheists are all getting the same message. Any s(e)tic can hoo( u) a radio telesco)e--it doesn4t ha e to !e ery !ig--and get the identical data.9 9.ou4re not suggesting that your radio message is from 'od,9 #an(in offered. 9Not at all. @ust that the ci ili:ation on *ega--with )owers infinitely less than what you attri!ute to your 'od--was a!le to ma(e things ery clear. $f your 'od wanted to tal( to us through the unli(ely means of word-of-mouth transmission and ancient writings o er thousands of years, he could ha e done it so there was no room left for de!ate a!out its existence.9 She )aused, !ut neither @oss nor #an(in s)o(e, so she tried again to steer the con ersation to the data. 96hy don4t we Aust withhold Audgment for a while until we ma(e some more )rogress on decry)ting the Message5 6ould you li(e to see some of the data59 This time they assented, readily enough it seemed. 7ut she could )roduce only reams of :eros and ones, neither edifying nor ins)irational. she carefully ex)lained a!out the )resumed )agination of the Message and the ho)ed-for )rimer. 7y uns)o(en agreement, she and der %eer said nothing a!out the So iet

iew that the Message was the !lue)rint for a machine. $t was at !est a guess, and had not yet !een )u!licly discussed !y the So iets. As an afterthought, she descri!ed something a!out *ega itself--its mass, surface tem)erature, color, distance from the &arth, lifetime, and the ring of or!iting de!ris around it that had !een disco ered !y the $nfrared Astronomy Satellite in +01-. 97ut !eyond its !eing one of the !rightest stars in the s(y, is there anything s)ecial a!out it59 @oss wanted to (now. 9Or anything that connects it u) with &arth59 96ell, in terms of stellar )ro)erties, anything li(e that, $ can4t thin( of a thing. 7ut there is one incidental fact< *ega was the "ole Star a!out twel e thousand years ago, and it will !e again a!out fourteen thousand years from now.9 9$ though the )olestar was the "ole Star.9 #an(in, still doodling, said this to the )ad of )a)er. 9$t is, for a few thousand years. 7ut not fore er. The &arth is li(e a s)inning to). $ts axis is slowly )recessing in a circle.9 She demonstrated, using her )encil as the &arth4s axis. 9$t4s called the )recession of the eBuinoxes.9 9>isco ered !y %i))archus of #hodes,9 added @oss. 9Second century 7.C.9 This seemed a sur)rising )iece of information for him to ha e at his fingerti)s. 9&xactly. So right now,9 she continued, 9an arrow from the center of the &arth to the North "ole )oints to the star we call "olaris, in the constellation of the 3ittle >i))er, or the 3ittle 7ear. $ !elie e you were referring to this constellation Aust !efore lunch, Mr. #an(in. As the &arth4s axis slowly )recesses, it )oints in some different direction in the s(y, not toward "olaris, and o er DG,HHH years the )lace in the s(y to which the North "ole )oints ma(es a com)lete circle. The North "ole )oints right now ery near "olaris, close enough to !e useful in na igation. Twel e thousand years ago, !y accident, it )ointed to *ega. 7ut there4s no )hysical connection. %ow the stars are distri!uted in the Mil(y 6ay

has nothing to do with the &arth4s axis of rotation !eing ti))ed twenty-three and a half degrees.9 9Now, twel e thousand years ago is +H,HHH 7.C., the time when ci ili:ation was Aust starting u). $sn4t that right59 @oss as(ed. 9Knless you !elie e that the &arth was created in FHHF 7.C.9 9No, we don4t !elie e that, do we, 7rother #an(in5 6e Aust don4t thin( the age of the &arth is (nown with the same )recision that you scientists do. On the Buestion of the age of the &arth, we4re what you might call agnostics.9 %e had a most attracti e smile. 9So if fol(s were na igating ten thousand years ago, sailing the Mediterranean, say, or the "ersian 'ulf, *ega would ha e !een their guide59 That4s still in the last $ce Age. "ro!a!ly a little early for na igation. 7ut the hunters who crossed the 7ering land !ridge to North America were around then. $ must ha e seemed an ama:ing gift-)ro idential, if you li(e--that such a !right star was exactly to the north. $4ll !et a lot of )eo)le owed their li es to that coincidence.9 96ell now, that4s mighty interesting.9 9$ don4t want you to thin( $ used the word ?)ro idential4 as anything !ut a meta)hor.9 9$4d ne er thin( that, my dear.9 @oss was !y now gi ing signs that the afternoon was drawing to a close, and he did not seem dis)leased. 7ut there were still a few items, it seemed, on #an(in4s agenda. 9$t ama:es me that you don4t thin( it was >i ine "ro idence, *ega !eing the "ole Star. My faith is

so strong $ don4t need )roofs, !ut e ery time a new fact comes along it sim)ly confirms my faith.9 96ell then, $ guess you weren4t listening ery closely to what $ was saying this morning. $ resent the idea that we4re in some (ind of faith contest, and you4re the hands-down winner. So far as $ (now you4 e ne er tested your faith5 $4m willing to do it for mine. %ere, ta(e a loo( out that window. There4s a !ig Foucault )endulum out there. The !o! must weight fi e hundred )ounds. My faith says that the am)litude of a free )endulum--how far it4ll swing away from the ertical )osition--can ne er increase. $t can only decrease. $4m willing to go out there, )ut the !o! $ front of my nose, let go, ha e it swing away and then !ac( toward me. $f my !eliefs are in error, $4ll get a fi e-hundred-)ound )endulum smac( in the face. Come on. .ou want to test my faith59 9Truly, it4s not necessary. $ !elie e you,9 re)lied @oss. #an(in, though, seemed interested. %e was imagining, she guessed, what she would loo( li(e afterward. 97ut would you !e willing,9 she went on, 9to stand a foot closer to this same )endulum and )ray to 'od to shorten the swing5 6hat if it turns out that you4 e gotten it all wrong, that what you4re teaching isn4t 'od4s will at all5 May!e it4s the wor( of the >e il. May!e it4s )ure human in ention. %ow can you !e really sure59 9Faith, ins)iration, re elation, awe,9 #an(in answered. 9>on4t Audge e eryone else !y your own limited ex)erience. @ust the fact that you4 e reAected the 3ord doesn4t )re ent other fol(s from ac(nowledging %is glory.9 93oo(, we all ha e a thirst for wonder. $t4s a dee)ly human Buality. Science and religion are !oth !ound u) with it. 6hat $4m saying is, you don4t ha e to ma(e stories u), you don4t ha e to exaggerate. There4s wonder and awe enough in the real world. Nature4s a lot !etter at in enting wonders than we are.9

9"erha)s we are all wayfarers on the road to truth,9 @oss re)lied. On this ho)eful note, der %eer ste))ed in deftly, and amidst strained ci ilities they )re)ared to lea e. She wondered whether anything useful had !een accom)lished. *alerian would ha e !een much more effecti e and much less )ro ocati e, &llie thought. She wished she had (e)t herself in !etter chec(. 9$t4s !een a most interesting day, >r. Arroway, and $ than( you for it.9 @oss seemed a little remote again, courtly !ut distracted. %e shoo( her hand warmly, though. On the way out to the waiting go ernment car, )ast a la ishly rendered three-dimensional exhi!it on 9The Fallacy of the &x)anding Kni erse,9 a sign read, 9Our 'od $s Ali e and 6ell. Sorry A!out .ours.9 She whis)ered to der %eer, 9$4m sorry if $ made your Ao! more difficult.9 9Oh no, &llie. .ou were fine.9 9That "almer @oss is a ery attracti e man. $ don4t thin( $ did much to con ert him. 7ut $4ll tell you, he almost con erted me.9 She was Ao(ing of course. C%A"T&# ++ The 6orld Message Consortium The world is nearly all )arceled out, and what there is left of it is !eing di ided u), conBuered, and coloni:ed. To thin( of these stars that you see o erhead at night, these ast worlds which we can ne er reach. $ would annex the )lanets if $ couldC $ often thin( of that. $t ma(es me sad to see them so clear and yet so far. -C&C$3 #%O>&S 3ast 6ill and Testament /+0HD2 From their ta!le !y the window she could see the down)our s)attering the street outside. A soa(ed )edestrian, his collar u), gamely hurried !y. The )ro)rietor had cran(ed the stri)ed awning o er the tu!s of oysters, segregated according to si:e and Buality and )ro iding a (ind of street ad ertisement for the s)ecialty of the house. She felt warm and snug inside the restaurant, the famous

theatrical gathering )lace, Che: >ieux. Since fair weather had !een )redicted, she was without raincoat or um!rella. 3i(ewise unencum!ered, *aygay introduced a new su!Aect< 9My friend, Meera,9 he announced, 9is an ecdysiast--that is the right word, yes5 6hen she wor(s in your country she )erforms for grou)s of )rofessionals, at meetings and con entions. Meera says that when she ta(es off her clothes for wor(ing-class men--at trade union con entions, that sort of thing--they !ecome wild, shout out im)ro)er suggestions, and try to Aoin her on the stage. 7ut when she gi es exactly the same )erformance for doctors or lawyers, they sit there motionless. Actually, she says, some of them lic( their li)s. My Buestion is< Are the lawyers healthier than the steelwor(ers59 That *aygay had di erse female acBuaintances had always !een a))arent. %is a))roaches to women were so direct and extra agant--herself, for some reason that !oth )leased and annoyed her, excluded--that they could always say no without em!arrassment. Many said yes. 7ut the news a!out Meera was a little unex)ected. They had s)ent the morning in a last-minute com)arison of notes and inter)retations of the new data. The continuing Message transmission had reached an im)ortant new stage. >iagrams were !eing transmitted from *ega the way news)a)er wire)hotos are transmitted. &ach )icture was an array raster. The num!er of tiny !lac( and white dots that made u) the )icture was the )roduct of two )rime num!ers. Again )rime num!ers were )art of the transmission. There was a large set of such diagrams, on following the other, and not at all interlea ed with the text. $t was li(e a section of glossy illustrations inserted in the !ac( of a !oo(. Following transmission of the long seBuence of diagrams, the unintelligi!le text continued. From at least some of the diagrams it seemed o! ious that *aygay and Ar(hangels(y had !een right, that the Message was in )art at least the instructions, the !lue)rints, for !uilding a machine. $ts )ur)ose was un(nown. At the )lenary session of the 6orld Message Consortium, to !e held tomorrow at the &lysQe "alace, she and *aygay would )resent for the first time some of the details to

re)resentati es of the other Consortium nations. 7ut word had Buietly !een )assed a!out the machine hy)othesis. O er lunch, she had summari:ed her encounter with #an(in and @oss. *aygay had !een attenti e, !ut as(ed no Buestions. $t was as if she had !een confessing some unseemly )ersonal )redilection and )erha)s that had triggered his train of association. 9.ou ha e a friend named Meera who4s a stri)tease artist5 6ith international enue59 9Since 6olfgang "auli disco ered the &xclusion "rinci)le while watching the Folies-7ergUre, $ ha e felt it my )rofessional duty as a )hysicist to isit "aris as much as )ossi!le. $ thin( of it as my homage to "auli. 7ut somehow $ can ne er )ersuade the officials in my country to a))ro e tri)s solely for this )ur)ose. Ksually $ must do some )edestrian )hysics as well. 7ut in such esta!lishments--that4s where $ met Meera--$ am a student of nature, waiting for insight to stri(e.9 A!ru)tly his tone of oice shifted from ex)ansi e to matter-of-face. 9Meera says American )rofessional men are sexually re)ressed and ha e gnawing dou!ts and guilt.9 9#eally. And what does Meera say a!out #ussian )rofessional men59 9Ah, in that category she (nows only me. So, of course, she has a good o)inion. $ thin( $4d rather !e with Meera tomorrow.9 97ut all your friends will !e at the Consortium meeting,9 she said lightly., $4m glad you4ll !e there,9 he re)lied morosely. 96hat4s worrying you, *aygay59 %e too( a long time !efore answering, and !egan with a slight !ut

uncharacteristic hesitation. 9"erha)s not worries. May!e only concerns.... 6hat if the Message really is the design drawings of a machine5 >o we !uild the machine5 6ho !uilds it5 & ery!ody together5 The Consortium5 The Knited Nations5 A few nations in com)etition5 6hat if it4s enormously ex)ensi e to !uild5 6ho )ays5 6hy should hey want to5 6hat if it doesn4t wor(5 Could !uilding the machine inAure some nations economically5 Could it inAure them in some other way59 6ithout interru)ting the torrent of Buestions, 3unachars(y em)tied the last of the wine into their glasses. 9& en if the message cycles !ac( and e en if we com)letely decry)t it, how good could the translation !e5 .ou (now the o)inion of Cer antes5 %e said that reading a translation is li(e examining the !ac( of a )iece of ta)estry. May!e it4s not )ossi!le to translate the Message )erfectly. Then we wouldn4t !uild the machine )erfectly. Also, are we really confident we ha e all the data5 May!e there4s essential information at some other freBuency that we ha en4t disco ered yet. 9.ou (now, &llie, $ though )eo)le would !e ery cautious a!out !uilding this machine. 7ut there may !e some coming tomorrow who will urge immediate construction--$ mean, immediately after we recei e the )rimer and decry)t the Message, assuming that we do. 6hat is the American delegation going to )ro)ose59 9$ don4t (now,9 she said slowly. 7ut she remem!ered that soon after the diagrammatic material had !een recei ed der %eer !egan as(ing whether it was li(ely that the machine was within reach of the &arth4s economy and technology. She could offer him little reassurance on either score. She recalled again how )reoccu)ied 8en had seemed in the last few wee(s, sometimes e en Aittery. %is res)onsi!ilities in this matter were, of course-9And >r. der %eer and Mr. 8it: staying at the same hotel as you59 9No, they4re staying at the &m!assy.9

$t was always the case. 7ecause of the nature of the So iet economy and the )ercei ed necessity of !uying military technology instead of consumer goods with their limited hard currency, #ussians had little wal(ing-around money when isiting the 6est. They were o!liged to stay in second- or third-rate hotels, e en rooming houses, while their 6estern colleagues li ed in com)arati e luxury. $t was a continuing source of em!arrassment for scientists of !oth countries. "ic(ing u) the !ill for this relati ely sim)le meal would !e effortless for &llie !ut a !urden for *aygay, des)ite his com)arati ely exalted status in the So iet scientific hierarchy. Now, what was *aygay... 9*aygay, !e straight with me. 6hat are you saying5 .ou thin( 8en and Mi(e are Aum)ing the gun59 9?Straight.4 And interesting wordC not right, not left, !ut )rogressi ely forward. $4m concerned that in the next few days we will see )remature discussion a!out !uilding something that we ha e no right to !uild. The )oliticians thin( we (now e erything. $n fact, we (now almost nothing. Such a situation could !e dangerous.9 $t finally dawned on her that *aygay was ta(ing a )ersonal res)onsi!ility for figuring out the nature of the Message. $f it led to some catastro)he, he was worried it might !e his fault. %e had less )ersonal moti es as well, of course. 9.ou want me to tal( to 8en59 9$f you thin( it4s a))ro)riate. .ou ha e freBuent o))ortunities to tal( to him59 %e said this casually. 9*aygay, you4re not Aealous, are you5 $ thin( you )ic(ed u) on my feelings for 8en !efore $ did. 6hen you were !ac( at Argus. 8en and $4 e !een more or less together for the last two months. >o you ha e some reser ations59

9Oh no, &llie. $ am not your father or a Aealous lo er. $ wish only great ha))iness for you. $t4s Aust that $ see so many un)leasant )ossi!ilities.9 7ut he did not further ela!orate. They returned to their )reliminary inter)retations on some of the diagrams, with which the ta!le was e entually co ered. For counter)oint, they also discussed a little )olitics-the de!ate in America o er the Mandala "rinci)les for resol ing the crisis in South Africa, and the growing war of words !etween the So iet Knion and the 'erman >emocratic #e)u!lic. As always, Arroway and 3unachars(y enAoyed denouncing their own countries4 foreign )olicies to one another. This was far more interesting than denouncing the foreign )olicies of each other4s nation, which would ha e !een eBually easy to do. O er their ritual dis)ute a!out whether the chec( should !e shared, she noticed that the down)our had diminished to a discreet dri::le. 7y now, the news of the Message from *ega had reached e ery noo( and cranny of the )lanet &arth. "eo)le who (new nothing of radio telesco)es and had ne er heard of a )rime num!er had !een told a )eculiar story a!out a oice from the stars, a!out strange !eings--not exactly men, !ut not exactly gods either--who had !een disco ered li ing in the night s(y. They did not come from &arth. Their home star could easily !e seen, e en with a full moon. Amidst the continuing fren:y of sectarian commentary, there was also--all o er the world, it was now a))arent--a sense of wonder, e en of awe. Something transforming, something almost miraculous was ha))ening. The air was full of )ossi!ility, a sense of new !eginning. 9Man(ind has !een )romoted to high school,9 an American news)a)er editorialist had written. There were other intelligent !eings in the uni erse. 6e could communicate with them. They were )ro!a!ly older than we, )ossi!ly wiser. They were sending us li!raries of com)lex information. There was a

wides)read antici)ation of imminent secular re elation. So the s)ecialists in e ery su!Aect !egan to worry. Mathematicians worried a!out what elementary disco eries they might ha e missed. #eligious leaders worried that *egan alues, howe er alien, would find ready adherents, es)ecially among the uninstructed young. Astronomers worried that there might !e fundamentals a!out the near!y stars that they had gotten wrong. "oliticians and go ernment leaders worried that some other systems of go ernment, some Buite different from those currently fashiona!le, might !e admired !y a su)erior ci ili:ation. 6hate er *egans (new had not !een influenced !y )eculiarly human institutions, history, or !iology. 6hat if much that we thin( true is a misunderstanding, a s)ecial case, or a logical !lunder5 &x)erts uneasily !egan to reassess the foundation of their su!Aects. 7eyond this narrow ocational disBuiet was a great and soaring corner, of !ursting into a new age--a sym!olism )owerfully am)lified !y the a))roach of the Third Millennium. There were still )olitical conflicts, some of them--li(e the continuing South African crisis--serious. 7ut there was also a nota!le decline in many Buarters of the world of Aingoist rhetoric and )uerile selfcongratulatory nationalism. There was a sense of the human s)ecies, !illions of tiny !eings s)read o er the world, collecti ely )resented with an un)recedented o))ortunity, or e en a gra e common danger. To many, it seemed a!surd for the contending nation states to continue their deadly Buarrels when faced with a nonhuman ci ili:ation of astly greater ca)a!ilities. There was a whiff of ho)e in the air. Some )eo)le were unaccustomed to it and mistoo( it for something else--confusion, )erha)s, or cowardice. For decades after +0F,, the world stoc()ile of strategic nuclear wea)ons had steadily grown. 3eaders changed, wea)ons systems changed, strategy changed, !ut the num!er of strategic wea)ons only increased. The time came when there were more than D,,HHH of them on the )lanet, ten for e ery city. The technology was )ushing toward short flight time, incenti es for hard-target first stri(e, and at least de facto launch-on-warning. Only so monumental a danger could undo so monumental a foolishness, endorsed !y so many leaders in so many nations for so long a time. !ut finally the world came to its senses, at least to this

extent, and an accord was signed !y the Knited States, the So iet Knion, 7ritain, France, and China. $t was not intended to rid the world of nuclear wea)ons. Few ex)ected it to carry some Kto)ia in its wa(e. 7ut the Americans and the #ussians undertoo( to diminish the strategic arsenals down to a thousand nuclear wea)ons each. The details were carefully designed so that neither su)er)ower was at any significant disad antage at any stage of the dismantling )rocess. 7ritain, France, and China agreed to !egin reducing their arsenals once the su)er)owers had gone !elow the -,DHH mar(. The %iroshima Accords were signed, to worldwide reAoicing, next to the famous commemorati e )laBue for the ictims in the first city e er o!literated !y a nuclear wea)on< 9#est in )eace, for it shall ne er ha))en again.9 & ery day the fission triggers from an eBual num!er of K.S. and So iet warheads were deli ered to a s)ecial facility run !y American and #ussian technicians. The )lutonium was extracted, logged, sealed, and trans)orted !y !ilateral teams to nuclear )ower )lants where it was consumed and con erted into electricity. This scheme, (nown as the 'ayler "lan after an American admiral, was widely hailed as the ultimate in !eating swords into )lowshares. Since each nation still retained a de astating retaliatory ca)a!ility, e en the military esta!lishments e entually welcomed it. 'enerals no more wish for their children to die than anyone else, and nuclear war is the negation of the con entional military irtuesC it is hard to find much alor in )ressing a !utton. The first di estment ceremony--tele ised li e, and re!roadcast many times--featured white-clad American and So iet technicians wheeling in two of the dull gray metallic o!Aects, each a!out as !ig as an ottoman and festooned ariously with stars and stri)es, hammers and sic(les. $t was witnessed !y a huge fraction of the world )o)ulation. The e ening tele ision news )rograms regularly counted how many strategic wea)ons on !oth sides had !een disassem!led, how many more to go. $n a little o er two decades, this news, too, would reach *ega. $n the following years, the di estitures continued, almost without a hitch. At first the fat in the arsenals was surrendered, with little change in strategic doctrineC !ut now the cuts were !eing felt, and the most desta!ili:ing wea)ons systems were !eing dismantled. $t was something the

ex)erts had called im)ossi!le and declared 9contrary to human nature.9 7ut a sentence of death, as Samuel @ohnson had noted, concentrates the mind wonderfully. $n the )ast half year, the dismantling of nuclear wea)ons !y the Knited States and the So iet Knion had made new strides, with fairly intrusi e ins)ection teams of each nation soon to !e installed on the territory of the other--des)ite the disa))ro al and concern )u!licly oiced !y the military staffs on !oth nations. The Knited Nations found itself unex)ectedly effecti e in mediating international dis)utes, with the 6est $rian and the Chile-Argentina !order wars !oth a))arently resol ed. There was e en tal(, not all of it fatuous, of a nonaggression treaty !etween NATO and the 6arsaw "act. The delegates arri ing at the first )lenary session of the 6orld Message Consortium were )redis)osed toward cordiality to an extent un)aralleled in recent decades. & ery nation with e en a handful of Message !its was re)resented, sending !oth scientific and )olitical delegatesC a sur)rising num!er sent military re)resentati es as well. $n a few cases, national delegations were led !y foreign ministers or e en heads of state. The Knited 8ingdom delegation included *iscount 7oxforth, the 3ord "ri y Seal--an honorific &llie )ri ately found hilarious. The K.S.S.#. delegation was headed !y 7. .a. A!u(himo , "resident of the So iet Academy of Sciences, with 'otsrid:e, the Minister of Medium %ea y $ndustry, and Ar(hangels(y )laying significant roles. The "resident of the Knited States had insisted that der %eer head the American delegation, although it included Kndersecretary of State &lmo %onicutt and Michael 8it:, among others, for the >e)artment of >efense. A ast and ela!orate ma) in eBual-area )roAection showed the dis)osition of radio telesco)es o er the )lanet, including the So iet oceangoing trac(ing essels. &llie glanced around the newly com)leted conference hall, adAacent to the offices and residence of the "resident of France. $n only the second year of his se en-year term, he was ma(ing e ery effort to guarantee the meeting4s success. A multitude of faces, flags, and national dress was reflected off the long arcing mahogany ta!les and the mirrored walls. She recogni:ed few of the )olitical and military )eo)le, !ut in e ery delegation there seemed to !e at least one

familiar scientist or engineer< Annun:iata and $an 7roderic( from AustraliaC Fedir(a from C:echoslo a(iaC 7raude, Cre!illon, and 7oileau from FranceC 8emar Chandra)urana and >e i Su(ha ati from $ndiaC %ironaga and Matsui from @a)an... &llie reflected on the strong technological rather than radio-astronomical !ac(ground of many of the delegates, es)ecially the @a)anese. The idea that the construction of some ast machine might !e on the agenda of this meeting had moti ated last-minute changes in the com)osition of delegations. She also recogni:ed Malatesta of $talyC 7eden!augh, a )hysicist fallen into )olitics, Clegg, and the enera!le Sir Arthur Chatos chatting !ehind the sort of Knion @ac( one can find on restaurant ta!les in &uro)ean resortsC @aime Orti: of S)ainC "re!ula from Swit:erland, which was )u::ling, since Swit:erland did not, so far as she (new, e en ha e a radio telesco)eC 7ao, who had done !rilliantly in )utting together the Chinese radio telesco)e arrayC 6intergarden from Sweden. There were sur)risingly large Saudi, "a(istani and $raBi delegationsC and, of course, the So iets, among whom Nadya #o:hdest ens(aya and 'enri(h Ar(hangeld(y were sharing a moment of genuine hilarity. &llie loo(ed for 3unachars(y, and finally s)otted him with the Chinese delegation. %e was sha(ing hands with .u #enBiong, the director of the 7eiAing #adio O!ser atory. She recalled that the two men had !een friends and colleagues during the )eriod of Sino-So iet coo)eration. 7ut the hostilities !etween their two nations had ended all contact !etween them, and Chinese restrictions on foreign tra el !y their senior scientists were still almost as se ere as So iet constraints. She was witnessing, she reali:ed, their first meeting in )erha)s a Buarter century. 96ho4s the old China)erson *aygay4s sha(ing hands with59 This was, for 8it:, an attem)t at cordiality. %e had !een ma(ing small offerings of this sort for the last few days--a de elo)ment she regarded as un)romising. 9.u, >irector of the 7eiAing O!ser atory.9 9$ thought those guys hated each other4s guts.9

9Michael,9 she said, 9the world is !oth !etter and worse than you imagine.9 9.ou can )ro!a!ly !eat me on ?!etter,4 9 he re)lied, 9!ut you can4t hold a candle to me on ?worse.4 9 After the welcome !y the "resident of France /who, to mild astonishment, stayed to hear the o)ening )resentations2 and a discussion of )rocedure and agenda !y der %eer and A!u(hirno as conference cochairmen, &llie and *aygay together summari:ed the data. They made what were !y now standard )resentations--not too technical, !ecause of the )olitical and military )eo)le-of how radio telesco)es wor(, the distri!ution of near!y stars in s)ace, and the history of the )alim)sest Message. Their tandem )resentation concluded with a sur ey, dis)layed on the monitors !efore each delegation, of the diagrammatic material recently recei ed. She was careful to show how the )olari:ation modulation was con erted into a seBuence of :eros and ones, how the :eros and ones fit together to ma(e a )icture, and how in most cases they had not the aguest notion of what the )icture con eyed. The data )oints reassem!led themsel es on the com)uter screens. She could see faces illuminated in white, am!er, and green !y the monitors in the now )artly dar(ened hall. The diagrams showed intricate !ranching networ(sC lum)y, almost indecently !iological formsC a )erfectly formed regular dodecahedron. A long series of )ages had !een reassem!led into an ela!orately detailed three-dimensional construction which slowly rotated. &ach enigmatic o!Aect was Aoined !y an unintelligi!le ca)tion. *aygay stressed the uncertainties still more strongly than she did. Ne ertheless, it was, in his o)inion, now !eyond dou!t that the Message was a hand!oo( for the construction of a machine. %e neglected to mention that the idea of the Message as a !lue)rint had originally !een his and Ar(hangels(y4s, and &llie sei:ed the o))ortunity to rectify the o ersight. She had tal(ed a!out the su!Aect enough o er the )ast few months to (now that !oth scientific and general audiences were often fascinated !y the details of the unra eling of the Message, and tantali:ed !y the still un)ro ed conce)t of a )rimer. 7ut she was un)re)ared for the res)onse from this-one would ex)ect-staid audience. *aygay and she had interdigitated their )resentations. As they finished, there was a sustained thunder of a))lause. The So iets and &astern &uro)ean delegations a))lauded in

unison, with a freBuency of a!out two or three handcla)s )er heart!eat. The Americans and many others a))lauded se)arately, their unsynchroni:ed cla))ing a sea of white noise rising from the crowd. &n elo)ed !y an unfamiliar (ind of Aoy, she could not resist thin(ing a!out the differences in national character--the Americans as indi idualists, and the #ussians engaged in a collecti e endea or. Also, she recalled that Americans in crowds tried to maximi:e their distance from their fellows, while So iets tended to lean on each other as much as )ossi!le. 7oth styles of a))lause, the American clearly dominant, delighted her. For Aust a moment she )ermitted herself to thin( a!out her ste)father. And her father. After lunch there was a succession of other )resentations on the data collection and inter)retation. >a id >rumlin ga e an extraordinarily ca)a!le discussion of a statistical analysis he had recently )erformed of all )re ious )ages of the Message that referred to the new num!ered diagrams. %e argued that the Message contained not Aust a !lue)rint for !uilding a machine !ut also descri)tions of the designs and means of fa!rication of com)onents and su!com)onents. $n a few cases, he thought, there were descri)tions of whole new industries not yet (nown on &arth. &llie, mouth aga)e, shoo( her finger toward >rumlin, silently as(ing *alerian whether he had (nown a!out this. %is li)s )ursed, *alerian hunched his shoulders and rotated his hands )alms u). She scanned the other delegates for some ex)ression of emotion, !ut could detect mainly signs of fatigueC the de)th of technical material and the necessity, sooner or later, of ma(ing )olitical decisions were already )roducing strain. After the session, she com)limented >rumlin on the inter)retation !ut as(ed why she had not heard of it until now. %e re)lied !efore wal(ing away, 9Oh, $ didn4t thin( it was im)ortant enough to !other you with. $t was Aust a little something $ did while you were out consulting religious fanatics.9 $f >rumlin had !een her thesis ad iser, she would still !e )ursuing her "h.>., she thought. %e had ne er fully acce)ted her. They would ne er share an easygoing coKegial relationshi). Sighing, she wondered whether 8en had (nown a!out >rumlin4s new wor(. 7ut as conference cochairman, der %eer was sitting with his So iet o))osite num!er on a raised dais facing the horseshoe of delegate tiers. %e was, as he had !een for wee(s, nearly inaccessi!le. >rumlin was not o!liged to discuss his

findings with her, of courseC she (new they !oth had !een )reoccu)ied recently. 7ut in con ersation with him why was she always accommodating--and argumentati e only in extremis5 A )art of her e idently felt that the granting of her doctorate and the o))ortunity to )ursue her science were still future )ossi!ilities firmly in >rumlin4s hands. On the morning of the second day, a So iet delegate was gi en the floor. %e was un(nown to her. 9Stefan Alexei ich 7anida,9 the itagra)hics on her com)uter screen read out, 9>irector, $nstitute for "eace Studies, So iet Academy of Sciences, MoscowC Mem!er, Central Committee, Communist "arty of the K.S.S.#.9 9Now we start to )lay hard!all,9 she heard Michael 8it: say to &irno %onicutt of the State >e)artment. 7aruda was a da))er man, wearing an elegantly tailored and im)ecca!ly fashiona!le 6estern !usiness suit, )erha)s of $talian cut. %is &nglish was fluent and almost unaccented. %e had !een !orn in one of the 7altic re)u!lics, was young to !e head of such an im)ortant organi:ation-formed to study the long-term im)lications for strategic )olicy of the deaccessioning of nuclear wea)ons--and was a leading exam)le of the 9new wa e9 in the So iet leadershi). 93et us !e fran(,9 7aruda was saying. 9A Message is !eing sent to us from the far reaches of s)ace. Most of the information has !een gathered !y the So iet Knion and the Knited States. &ssential )ieces ha e also !een o!tained !y other countries. All of those countries are re)resented at this conference. Any one nation-the So iet Knion, for exam)le--could ha e waited until the Message re)eated itself se eral times, as we all ho)e it will, and fill in the many missing )ieces in such a way. 7ut it would ta(e years, )erha)s decades, and we are a little im)atient. So we ha e all shared the data. 9Any one nation--the So iet Knion, for exam)le--could )lace into or!it around the &arth large radio telesco)es with sensiti e recei ers that wor( at the freBuencies of the Message. The Americans could do this as well. "erha)s @a)an or France or the &uro)ean S)ace Agency could. Then any one nation !y itself could acBuire all the data, !ecause in s)ace a radio telesco)e can )oint at *ega all the time. 7ut that might !e thought a hostile act. $t is no secret that the Knited States or the So iet Knion might !e a!le to shoot down such satellites. So, )erha)s for this reason, too, we ha e all shared the data.

9$t is !etter to coo)erate. Our scientists wish to exchange not only the data they ha e gathered, !ut also their s)eculations, their guesses, their. . . dreams. All you scientists are ali(e in that res)ect. $ am not a scientist. My s)ecialty is go ernment. So $ (now that the nations are also ali(e. & ery nation is cautious. & ery nation is sus)icious. None of us would gi e an ad antage to a )otential ad ersary if we could )re ent it. And so there ha e !een two o)inions--)erha)s more, !ut at least two--one that counsels exchange of all the data, and another that counsels each nation to see( ad antage o er the others. ?.ou can !e sure the other side is see(ing some ad antage,4 they say. $t is the same in most countries. 9The scientists ha e won this de!ate. So, for exam)le, most of the data-although, $ wish to )oint out, not all-- acBuired !y the Knited States and the So iet Knion ha e !een exchanged. Most of the data from all other countries ha e !een exchanged worldwide. 6e are ha))y we ha e made this decision.9 &llie whis)ered to 8it:, 9This doesn4t sound li(e ?hard-!all4 to me.9 9Stay tuned,9 he whis)ered !ac(. 97ut there are other (inds of dangers. 6e would li(e now to raise one of them for the Consortium to consider.9 7aruda4s tone reminded her of *aygay4s at lunch the other day. 6hat was the !ee in the So iet !onnet5 96e ha e heard Academician 3unachars(y, >r. Arroway, and other scientists agree that we are recei ing the instructions for !uilding a com)lex machine. Su))ose that, as e eryone seems to ex)ect, the end of the Message comesC the Message recycles to the !eginningC and we recei e the introduction or--the &nglish word is ?)rimer45--)rimer which lets us read the Message. Su))ose also that we continue to coo)erate fully, all of us. 6e exchange all the data, all the fantasies, all the dreams. 9Now the !eings-on *ega, they are not sending us these instructions for their amusement. They want us to !uild a machine. "erha)s they will tell us what the machine is su))osed to do. "erha)s not. 7ut e en if they do, why should we !elie e them5 So $ raise my own fantasy, my own dream. $t is not a ha))y one. 6hat if this machine is a TroAan %orse5 6e !uild the machine at great ex)ense, turn it on, and suddenly an in ading army )ours out of it. Or what if it is a >oomsday Machine5 6e !uild it, turn it on, and the &arth !lows u). "erha)s this is their way to su))ress ci ili:ations Aust emerging into the

cosmos. $t would not cost muchC they )ay only for a telegram, and the u)start ci ili:ation o!ediently destroys itself. 96hat $ am a!out to as( is only a suggestion, a tal(ing )oint. $ raise it for your consideration. $ mean it to !e constructi e. On this issue, we all share the same )lanet, we all ha e the same interests. No dou!t $ will )ut it too !luntly. %ere is my Buestion< 6ould it !e !etter to !urn the data and destroy the radio telesco)es59 A commotion ensued. Many delegations as(ed simultaneously to !e recogni:ed. $nstead, the conference co-chairmen seemed mainly moti ated to remind the delegates that sessions were not to !e recorded or ideota)ed. No inter iews were to !e granted to the )ress. There would !e daily )ress releases, agreed u)on !y the conference co-chairmen and the leaders of delegations. & en the integuments of the )resent discussion were to remain in this conference cham!er. Se eral delegates as(ed for clarification from the Chair. 9$f 7aruda is right a!out a TroAan %orse or a >oomsday Machine,9 shouted out a >utch delegate, 9isn4t it our duty to inform the )u!lic59 7ut he had not !een recogni:ed and his micro)hone had not !een acti ated. They went on to other, more urgent, matters. &llie had Buic(ly )unched into the institutional com)uter terminal !efore her for an early )osition in the Bueue. She disco ered that she was scheduled second, after Su(-ha ati and !efore one of the Chinese delegates. &llie (new >e i Su(ha ati slightly. A stately woman in her mid-forties, she was wearing a 6estern coiffure, high-heeled sling-!ac( )um)s, and an exBuisite sil( sari. Originally trained as a )hysician, she had !ecome one of the leading $ndian ex)erts in molecular !iology and now shared her time !etween 8ing4s College, Cam!ridge, and the Tata $nstitute in 7om!ay. She was one of a handful of $ndian Fellows of the #oyal Society of 3ondon, and was said to !e well )laced )olitically. They had last met a few years !efore, at an international sym)osium in To(yo, !efore recei)t of the Message had eliminated the o!ligatory Buestion mar(s in the titles of some of their scientific )a)ers. &llie had sensed a mutual affinity, due only in )art to the fact that they were among the few women )artici)ating in scientific meetings on extraterrestrial life. 9$ recogni:e that Academician 7aruda has raised an im- )ortant and sensiti e issue,9 Su(ha ati !egan, 9and it

would !e foolish to dismiss the TroAan %orse )ossi!ility carelessly. 'i en most of recent history, this is a natural idea, and $4m sur)rised it too( so long to !e raised. %owe er, $ would li(e to caution against such fears. $t is unli(ely in the extreme that the !eings on a )lanet of the star *ega are exactly at our le el of technological ad ance. & en on our )lanet, cultures do not e ol e in loc(ste). Some start earlier, others later. $ recogni:e that some cultures can catch u) at least technologically. 6hen there were high ci ili:ations in $ndia, China, $raB, and &gy)t, there were, at !est, iron-age nomads in &uro)e and #ussia, and stone-age cultures in America. 97ut the differences in the technologies will !e much greater in the )resent circumstances. The extraterrestrials are li(ely to !e far ahead of us, certainly more than a few hundred years farther along-)erha)s thousands of years ahead of us, or e en millions. Now, $ as( you to com)are that with the )ace of human technological ad ancement in the last century. 9$ grew u) in a tiny illage in South $ndia. $n my grandmother4s time the treadle sewing machine was a technological wonder. 6hat would !eings who are thousands of years ahead of us !e ca)a!le of5 Or millions5 As a )hiloso)her in our )art of the world once said< The artifacts of a sufficiently ad anced extraterrestrial ci ili:ation would !e indistinguisha!le from magic.4 96e can )ose no threat to them whate er. They ha e nothing to fear from us, and that will !e true for a ery long time. This is no confrontation !etween 'ree(s and TroAans, who were e enly matched. This is no science-fiction mo ie where !eings from different )lanets fight with similar wea)ons. $f they wish to destroy us, they can certainly do so with or without our coo)era--9 97ut at what cost59 someone interru)ted from the floor. 9>on4t you see5 That4s the )oint. 7aruda is saying our tele ision !roadcasts to s)ace are their notice that it4s time to destroy us, and the Message is the means. "uniti e ex)editions are dear. The Message is chea).9 &llie could not ma(e out who had shouted out this inter ention. $t seemed to !e someone in the 7ritish delegation. %is remar(s had not !een am)lified !y the audio system, !ecause again the s)ea(er had not !een recogni:ed !y the Chair. 7ut the acoustics in the conference hall were sufficiently good that he could !e heard )erfectly well. >er %eer, in the Chair, tried to

(ee) order. A!u(hirno leaned o er and whis)ered something to an aide. 9.ou thin( there is a danger in !uilding the machine,9 Su(ha ati re)lied. 9$ thin( there is a danger in not !uilding the machine. $ would !e ashamed of our )lanet if we turned our !ac( on the future. .our ancestors9--she shoo( a finger at her interlocutor--9were not so timid when they first set sail for $ndia or America.9 This meeting was getting to !e full of sur)rises, &llie thought, although she dou!ted whether Cli e or #aleigh were the !est role models for )resent decision ma(ing. "erha)s Su(ha ati was only twea(ing the 7ritish for )ast colonial offenses. She waited for the green s)ea(er4s light on her console to illuminate, indicating that her micro)hone was acti ated. 9Mr. Chairman.9 She found herself in this formal and )u!lic )osture addressing der %eer, whom she had hardly seen in the last few days. They had arranged to s)end tomorrow afternoon together during a !rea( in the meeting, and she felt some anxiety a!out what they would say. Oo)s, wrong thought, she thought. 9Mr. Chairman, $ !elie e we can shed some light on these two Buestions--the TroAan %orse and the >oomsday Machine. $ had intended to discuss this tomorrow morning, !ut it certainly seems rele ant now.9 On her console, she )unched in the code num!ers for a few of her slides. The great mirrored hall dar(ened. 9>r. 3unachars(y and $ are con inced that these are different )roAections of the same three-dimensional configuration. 6e showed the entire configuration in com)uter-simulated rotation yesterday. 6e thin(, though we can4t !e sure, that this is what the interior of the ma- chine will loo( li(e. There is as yet no clear indication of scale. May!e it4s a (ilometer across, may!e it4s su!microsco)ic. 7ut notice these fi e o!Aects e enly s)aced around the )eri)hery of the main interior cham!er, inside the dodecahedron. %ere4s a closeu) of one of them. They4re the only things in the cham!er that loo( at all recogni:a!le. 9This a))ears to !e an ordinary o erstuffed armchair, )erfectly configured for a human !eing. $t4s ery unli(ely that extraterrestrial !eings, e ol ed on another Buite different world, would resem!le us sufficiently to share our )references in li ing-room furniture. %ere, loo( at this close-u). $t loo(s li(e something from my mother4s s)are room when $ was growing u).9

$ndeed, it almost seemed to ha e flowered sli)co ers. A small flutter of guilt entered her mind. She had neglected to call her mother !efore lea ing for &uro)e, and, if truth !e told, had called her only once or twice since the Message was recei ed. &llie, how could you5 she remonstrated with herself. She loo(ed again at the com)uter gra)hics. The fi efold symmetry of the dodecahedron was reflected in the fi e interior chairs, each facing a )entagonal surface. 9So it4s our contention-->r. 3unachars(y and $-that the fi e chairs are meant for us. For )eo)le. That would mean that the interior cham!er of the machine is only a few meters across, the exterior, )erha)s ten or twenty meters across. The technology is undou!tedly formida!le, !ut we don4t thin( we4re tal(ing a!out !uilding something the si:e of a city. Or as com)lex as an aircraft carrier. 6e might ery well !e a!le to !uild this, whate er it is, if we all wor( together. 96hat $4m trying to say is that you don4t )ut chairs inside a !om!. $ don4t thin( this is a >oomsday Machine, or a TroAan %orse. $ agree with what >r. Su(ha ati said, or may!e only im)lied< the idea that this is a TroAan %orse is itself an indication of how far we ha e to go.9 Again there was an out!urst. 7ut this time der %eer made no effort to sto) itC indeed, he actually turned the com)lainant4s micro)hone on. $t was the same delegate who had interru)ted Su(ha ati a few minutes earlier, "hili) 7eden!augh of the Knited 8ingdom, a 3a!our "arty minister in the sha(y coalition go ernment. 9. . . sim)ly doesn4t understand what our concern is. $f it was literally a wooden horse, we would not !e tem)ted to !ring the alien de ice within the city gates. 6e ha e read our %omer. 7ut flounce it u) with some u)holstery and our sus)icions are allayed. 6hy5 7ecause we are !eing flattered. Or !ri!ed. There4s an historic ad enture im)lied. There4s the )romise of new technologies. There4s a hint of acce)tance !y--how to )ut it5--greater !eings. 7ut $ say no matter what lofty fantasies the radio astronomers may entertain, if there is e en a tiny chance the machine is a means of destruction, it should not !e !uilt. 7etter, as the So iet delegate has )ro)osed, to !urn the data ta)es and ma(e the construction of radio telesco)es a ca)ital crime.9

The meeting was !ecoming unruly. Scores of delegates were electronically Bueuing for authori:ation to s)ea(. The hu!!u! rose to a su!dued roar that reminded &llie of her years of listening to radio-astronomical static. A consensus did not seem readily within reach, and the co-chairmen were clearly una!le to restrain the delegates. As the Chinese delegate rose to s)ea(, the itagra)hics were slow to a))ear on &llie4s screen and she loo(ed around for hel). She had no idea who this man was either. Nguyen 97o!!y9 7ui, a National Security Council staffer now assigned to der %eer, leaned o er and said< 9Ni Jiaomu4s his name. S)elled ?ex,4 ?eye.4 "ronounced ?she.4 %ea y dude. 7orn on the 3ong March. *olunteer as a teenager in 8orea. 'o ernment official, mainly )olitical. 8noc(ed down for a nine count in the Cultural #e olution. Central Committee mem!er now. *ery influential. 7een in the news lately. Also directs Chinese archeological digging.9 Ni Jiaomu was a tall, !road-shouldered man around sixty. The wrin(les on his face made him seem older, !ut his )osture and )hysiBue ga e him an almost youthful a))earance. %e wore his tunic !uttoned at the collar in the fashion that was as o!ligatory for Chinese )olitical leaders as three-)icce suits were for American go ernmental leaders, the "resident, of course, exce)ted. The itagra)hics now came through on her console, and she could remem!er ha ing read a long article a!out Ni Jiaomu in one of the ideo newsmaga:ines. 9$f we are frightened,9 he was saying, 9we will do nothing. That will delay them a little. 7ut remem!er, they (now we are here. Our tele ision arri es at their )lanet. & ery day they are reminded of us. %a e you loo(ed at our tele ision )rograms5 They will not forget us. $f we do nothing and if they are worried a!out us, they will come to us, machine or no machine. 6e cannot hide from them. $f we had (e)t Buiet, we would not face this )ro!lem. $f we had ca!le tele ision only and no !ig military radar, then may!e they would not (now a!out us. 7ut now it is too late. 6e cannot go !ac(. Our course is set. 9$f you are seriously frightened a!out this machine destroying the &arth, do not !uild it on the &arth. 7uild it somewhere else. Then if it is a >oomsday Machine and !lows u) a world . . . it will not !e our world. 7ut

this will !e ery ex)ensi e. "ro!a!ly too ex)ensi e. Or if we arc not so frightened, !uild it in some isolated desert. .ou could ha e a ery !ig ex)losion in the Ta(o)i 6asteland in NinAing "ro ince and still (ill no!ody. And if we are not frightened at all, we can !uild it in 6ashington. Or Moscow. Or 7eiAing. Or in this !eautifill city. 9$n Ancient China, *ega and two near!y stars were called Chih Neu. $t means the young woman with the s)inning wheel. $t is an aus)icious sym!ol, a machine to ma(e new clothes for the )eo)le of the &arth. 96e ha e recei ed an in itation. A ery unusual in itation. May!e it is to go to a !anBuet. The &arth has ne er !een in ited to a !anBuet !efore. $t would !e im)olite to refuse.9 C%A"T&# +D The One->elta $somer 3oo(ing at the stars always ma(es me dream, as sim)ly as $ dream o er the !lac( dots re)resenting towns and illages on a ma). 6hy, $ as( myself, shouldn4t the shining dots of the s(y !e as accessi!le as the !lac( dots on the ma) of France5 -*$NC&NT *AN 'O'% $T 6AS a s)lendid autumn afternoon, so unseasona!ly warm that >e i Su(ha ati had left her coat !ehind. She and &llie wal(ed along the crowded Cham)s-&lysQes toward the "lace de la Concorde. The ethnic di ersity was ri aled !y 3ondon, Manhattan, and only a few other cities on the )lanet. Two women wal(ing together, one in a s(irt and sweater, the other in a sari, were in no way unusual. Outside a to!acconist4s there was a long, orderly, and )olyglot line of )eo)le attracted !y the first wee( of legali:ed sale of cured canna!is cigarettes from the Knited States. 7y French law they could not !e sold to or consumed !y those under eighteen years of age. Many in line were middle-aged and older. Some might ha e !een naturali:ed Algerians or Moroccans. &s)ecially )otent arieties of canna!is were grown, mainly in California and Oregon, for the ex)ort trade. Featured here was a new and admired strain, which had in addition !een grown in ultra iolet light, con erting some of the inert canna!inoids into the +5 isomer. $t was called 9Sun-8issed.9 The )ac(age, illustrated in a window dis)lay a meter and a half high, !ore in French the

slogan ?This will !e deducted from your share in "aradise.9 The sho) windows along the !oule ard were a riot of color. The two women !ought chestnuts from a street endor and re eled in the taste and texture. For some reason, e ery time &llie saw a sign ad ertising 7N", the 7anBue Nationale de "aris, she read it as the #ussian word for !eer, with the middle letter in erted left to right. 7&&#, the signs--lately corru)ted from their usual and res)ecta!le fiduciary ocations--seemed to !e exhorting her, #KSS$AN 7&&#. The incongruity amused her, and only with difficulty could she con ince the )art of her !rain in charge of reading that this was the 3atin, not the Cyrillic al)ha!et. Further on, they mar eled at 34O!Q+isBue--an ancient military commemorati e stolen at great ex)ense to !ecome a modern military commemorati e. They decided to wal( on. >er %eer had !ro(en the date, or at least that4s what it amounted to. %e had called her u) this morning, a)ologetic !ut not des)erately so. There were too many )olitical issues !eing raised at the )lenary session. The Secretary of State was flying in tomorrow, interru)ting a isit to Cu!a. >er %eer4s hands were full, and he ho)ed &llie would understand. She understood. She hated herself for slee)ing with him. To a oid an afternoon alone she had dialed >e i Su(ha ati. 9One of the Sans(rit words for ? itorious4 is a!hiAit. That4s what *ega was called in ancient $ndia. A!hiAit. $t was under the influence of *ega that the %indu di inities, our culture heroes, conBuered the asuras, the gods of e il. &llie, are you listening5 ... Now, it4s a curious thing. $n "ersia there are asuras also, !ut in "ersia the asuras were the gods of good. & entually religions s)rang u) in which the chief god, the god of light, the Sun god, was called Ahura-Ma:da. The Loroastrians, for exam)le, and the Mithraists. Ahura, Asura, it4s the same name. There are still Loroastrians today, and the Mithraists ga e the early Christians a good fright. 7ut in this same story, those %indu di inities--they were mainly female, !y the way-- were called >e is. $t4s the origin of my own name. $n $ndia, the >e is are gods of good. $n "ersia, the >e is !ecome gods of e il. Some scholars thin( this is where the &nglish word ?de il4 ultimately comes from. The symmetry is com)lete. All this is )ro!a!ly some aguely remem!ered account of the Aryan in asion that )ushed the >ra idians, my ancestors, to the south. So, de)ending on which side of the 8irthar #ange one

li es on, *ega su))orts either 'od or the >e il.9 This cheerful story had !een )roffered as a gift !y >e i, who clearly had heard something of &llie4s California religious ad entures two wee(s !efore. &llie was grateful. 7ut it reminded her that she had not e en mentioned to @oss the )ossi!ility that the Message was the !lue)rint for a machine of un(nown )ur)ose. Now he would soon enough !e hearing all this through the media. She should really, she told herself sternly, ma(e an o erseas call to ex)lain to him the new de elo)ments. 7ut @oss was said to !e in seclusion. %e had offered no )u!lic statement following their meeting in Modesto. #an(in, in a )ress conference, announced that while there might !e some dangers, he was not o))osed to letting the scientists recei e the full Message. 7ut translation was another matter. "eriodic re iew !y all segments of society was reBuired, he said, es)ecially !y those entrusted to safeguard s)iritual and moral alues. They were now a))roaching the Tuilerics 'ardens, where the garish hues of autumn were on dis)lay. Frail and elderly men--&llie Audged them to !e from Southeast Asia--were in igorous dis)ute. Ornamenting the !lac( cast-iron gates were multicolored !alloons on sale. At the center of a )ool of water was a mar!le Am)hitrite. Around her, toy sail!oats were racing, urged on !y an exu!erant crowd of small children with Magellanic as)irations. A catfish suddenly !ro(e water, swam)ing the lead !oat, and the !oys and girls !ecame su!dued, chastened !y this wholly unex)ected a))arition. The Sun was low in the west, and &llie felt a momentary chill. They a))roached 34Orangerie, in the annex of which was a s)ecial exhi!ition, so the )oster )roclaimed, 9$mages Martiennes.9 The Aoint American-French-So ict ro!ot ro ing ehicles on Mars had )roduced a s)ectacular windfall of color )hotogra)hs, some--li(e the *oyager images of the outer solar system around +01H--soaring !eyond their mere scientific )ur)ose and !ecoming art. The )oster featured a landsca)e )hotogra)hed on the ast &lysium "lateau. $n the foreground was a three-sided )yramid, smooth, highly eroded, with an im)act crater near the !ase. $t had !een )roduced !y millions of years of high-s)eed sand!lasting !y the fierce Martian winds, the )lanetary geologists had said. A second ro er--assigned to Cydonia, on the other side of Mars--had !ecome mired in a drifting dune, and its

controllers in "asadena had !een so far una!le to res)ond to its forlorn cries for hel). &llie found herself ri eted on Su(ha ati4s a))earance< her huge !lac( eyes, erect !earing, and yet another magnificent sari. She thought to herself, $4m not graceful. Ksually she found herself a!le to continue her )art of a con ersation while mentally addressing other matters as well. 7ut today she had trou!le following one line of thought, ne er mind two. 6hile they were discussing the merits of the se eral o)inions on whether to !uild the Machine, in her mind4s eye she returned to >e i4s image from the Aryan in asion of $ndia -,,HH years ago< a war !etween two )eo)les, each of whom claimed ictory, each of whom )atrioti-cally exaggerated the historical accounts. Kltimately, the story is transformed into a war of the gods. 9Our9 side, of course, is good. The other side, of course, is e il. She imagined the goateed, s)ade-tailed, clo en-hoofed >e il of the 6est e ol ing !y slow e olutionary ste)s o er thousands of years from some %indu antecedent who, for all &llie (new, had the head of an ele)hant and was )ainted !lue. 97aruda4s TroAan %orse--may!e it4s not a com)letely foolish idea,9 she found herself saying. 97ut $ don4t see that we ha e any choice, as Ni said. They can !e here in twenty-some-odd years if they want to.9 They arri ed at a monumental arch in the #oman style surmounted !y a heroic, indeed a)otheotic, statue of Na)oleon as chariot dri er. From the long iew, from an extraterrestrial )ers)ecti e, how )athetic this )osturing was. They rested on a near!y !ench, their long shadows cast o er a !ed of flowers )lanted in the colors of the French #e)u!lic. &llie longed to discuss her own emotional )redicament, !ut that might ha e )olitical o ertones. $t would, at the ery least, !e indiscreet. She did not (now Su(ha ati ery well. $nstead she encouraged her com)anion to s)ea( a!out her )ersonal life. Su(ha ati acBuiesced readily enough. She had !een !orn to a 7rahman !ut un)ros)erous family with matriarchal )rocli ities in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Matriarchal households were still common all o er South $ndia. She matriculated at 7anares %indu Kni ersity. At medical school in &ngland she had met and fallen dee)ly in lo e with Surindar 'hosh, a fellow medical student. 7ut Surindar was a hariAan, an untoucha!le, of a caste so loathed that the mere sight of them was held !y orthodox 7rahmans to !e )olluting. Surindar4s

ancestors had !een forced to li e a nocturnal existence, li(e !ats and owls. %er family threatened to disown her if they married. %er father declared that he had no daughter who would consider such a union. $f she married 'hosh, he would mourn her as though she were dead. She married him anyway. 96e were too much in lo e,9 she said. 9$ really had no choice.9 6ithin the year, he died from se)ticemia acBuired while )erforming an auto)sy under inadeBuate su)er ision. $nstead of reconciling her to her family, howe er, Surin-dar4s death accom)lished the o))osite, and after recei ing her medical degree, >e i decided to remain in &ngland. She disco ered a natural affinity for molecular !iology and considered it an effortless continuation of her medical studies. She soon found she had real talent in this meticulous disci)line. 8nowledge of nucleic acid re)lication led her to wor( on the origin of life, and that in turn led her to consider life on other )lanets. 9.ou could say that my scientific career has !een a seBuence of free associations. One thing Aust led to another.9 She had recently !een wor(ing on the characteri:ation of Martian organic matter, measured in a few locales on Mars !y the same ro ing ehicles whose stunning )hotogra)hic )roducts they had Aust seen ad ertised. >e i had ne er remarried, although she had made it )lain there were some who )ursued her. 3ately she had !een seeing a scientist in 7om!ay whom she descri!ed as a 9com)uter wallah.9 6al(ing a little farther on, they found themsel es in the Cour Na)oleon, the interior courtyard of the 3ou re Museum. $n its center was the newly com)leted and wildly contro ersial )yramidal entrance, and in high niches around the courtyard were scul)tural re)resentations of the heroes of French ci ili:ation. Ca)tioned under each statue of a re ered man--they could see little e idence of re ered women--was his surname. Occasionally, letters were eroded--!y natural weathering, or in a few cases )erha)s effaced !y some offended )asser!y. For one or two statues, it was difficult to )iece together who the sa ant had !een. On the statue that had e idently e o(ed the greatest )u!lic resentment, only the letters 3TA remained. Although the Sun was setting and the 3ou re was o)en until mid-e ening, they did not enter, !ut instead am!led along the Seine em!an(ment, following the ri er !ac( along the Juai

d4Orsay. The )ro)rietors of !oo(stallswere fastening shutters and closing u) sho) for the day. For a while they strolled on, arm in arm in the &uro)ean manner. A French cou)le was wal(ing a few )aces ahead of them, each )arent holding one hand of their daughter, a girl of a!out four who would )eriodically launch herself off the )a ement. $n her momentary sus)ension in :ero g, she ex)erienced, it was a))arent, something a(in to ecstasy. The )arents were discussing the 6orld Message Consortium, which was hardly a coincidence since the news)a)ers had !een full of little else. The man was for !uilding the MachineC it might create new technologies and increase em)loyment in France. The woman was more cautious, !ut for reasons she had difficulty articulating. The daughter, !raids flying, was wholly unconcerned a!out what to do with a !lue)rint from the stars. >er %eer, 8it:, and %onicutt had called a meeting at the American &m!assy early the following morning to )re)are for the arri al of the Secretary of State later in the day. The meeting was to !e classified and held in the &m!assy4s 7lac( #oom, a cham!er electromagnetically decou)led from the outside world, ma(ing e en so)histicated electronic sur eillance im)ossi!le. Or so it was claimed. &llie thought there might !e instrumentation de elo)ed that could ma(e an end run around these )recautions. After s)ending the afternoon with >e i Su(ha ati, she had recei ed the message at her hotel and had tried to call der %eer, !ut was a!le only to reach Michael 8it:. She o))osed a classified meeting on this su!Aect, she saidC it was a matter of )rinci)le. The Message was clearly intended for the entire )lanet. 8it: re)lied that there were no data !eing withheld from the rest of the world, at least !y AmericansC and that the meeting was merely ad isory--to assist the Knited States in the difficult )rocedural negotiations ahead. %e a))ealed to her )atriotism, to her self-interest, and at last in o(ed again the %adden >ecision. 9For all $ (now, that thing is still sitting in your safe unread. #ead it,9 he urged. She tried, again unsuccessfully, to reach der %eer. First the man turns u) e erywhere in the Argus facility, li(e a !ad )enny. %e mo es in with you in your a)artment. .ou4re sure, for the first time in years, you4re in lo e. The next minute you can4t e en get him to answer the )hone. She decided to attend the meeting, if only to see 8en face to face.

8it: was enthusiastically for !uilding the Machine, >rumlin cautiously in fa or, der %eer and %onicutt at least outwardly uncommitted, and "eter *alerian in an agony of indecision. 8it: and >rumlin were e en tal(ing a!out where to !uild the thing. Freightage costs alone made manufacture or e en assem!ly on the far side of the Moon )rohi!iti ely ex)ensi e, as Ni had guessed. 9$f we use aerodynamic !ra(ing, it4s chea)er to send a (ilogram to "ho!os or >eimos than to the far side of the Moon,9 7o!!y 7ui olunteered. 96here the !ell is Fo!userdeemus59 8it: wanted to (now. ?The moons of Mars. $ was tal(ing a!out aerodynamic !ra(ing in the Martian atmos)here.9 9And how long does it ta(e to get to "ho!os or >eimos59 >rumlin was stirring his cu) of coffee. 9May!e a year, !ut once we ha e a fleet of inter)lanetary transfer ehicles and the )i)eline is full--9 9Com)ared with three days to the Moon59 s)uttered >rumlin. 97ui, sto) wasting our time.9 9$t4s only a suggestion,9 he )rotested. 9.ou (now, Aust something to thin( a!out.9 >er %eer seemed im)atient, distracted. %e was clearly under great )ressure-alternately a oiding her eyes and, she thought, ma(ing some uns)o(en a))eal. She too( it as a ho)eful sign. 9$f you want to worry a!out >oomsday Machines,9 >rumlin was saying, 9you ha e to worry a!out energy su))lies. $f it doesn4t ha e access to an enormous amount of energy, it can4t !e a >oomsday Machine. So as long as the instructions don4t as( for a gigawatt nuclear reactor, $ don4t thin( we ha e to worry a!out >oomsday Machines.9 96hy are you guys in such a hurry to commit to construction59 she as(ed 8it: and >rumlin collecti ely. They were sitting next to each other with a )late of croissants !etween them. 8it: loo(ed from %onicutt to der %eer !efore answering< 9This is a classified meeting,9 he !egan. 96e all (now you won4t )ass anything said here on to your #ussian friends. $t4s li(e this< 6e don4t (now what the

Machine will do, !ut it4s clear from >a e >rumlin4s analysis that there4s new technology in it, )ro!a!ly new industries. Constructing the Machine is !ound to ha e economic alue--+ mean, thin( of what we4d learn. And it might ha e military alue. At least that4s what the #ussians are thin(ing. See, the #ussians are in a !ox. %ere4s a whole new area of technology they4re going to ha e to (ee) u) with the K.S. on. May!e there4s instructions for some decisi e wea)on in the Message, or some economic ad antage. They can4t !e sure. They4ll ha e to !ust their economy trying. >id you notice how 7aruda (e)t referring to what was costeffecti e5 $f all this Message stuff went away--!urn the data, destroy the telesco)es--then the #ussians could maintain military )arity. That4s why they4re so cautious. So, of course, that4s why we4re gung ho for it.9 %e smiled. Tem)eramentally, 8it: was !loodless, she thoughtC !ut he was far from stu)id. 6hen he was cold and withdrawn, )eo)le tended not to li(e him. So he had de elo)ed an occasional eneer of ur!ane amia!ility. $n &llie4s iew, it was a molecular monolayer thic(. 9Now let me as( you a Buestion,9 he continued. 9>id you catch 7aruda4s remar( a!out withholding some of the data5 $s there any missing data59 9Only from ery early on,9 she re)lied. 9Only from the first few wee(s, $4d guess. There were a few holes in the Chinese co erage a little after that. There4s still a small amount of data that hasn4t !een exchanged, on all sides. 7ut $ don4t see any signs of serious holding !ac(. Anyway, we4ll )ic( u) any missing data swatches after the Message recycles.9 9$f the Message recycles,9 >rumlin growled. >er %eer moderated a discussion on contingency )lanning< what to do when the )rimer was recei edC which American, 'erman, and @a)anese industries to notify early a!out )ossi!le maAor de elo)ment )roAectsC how to identify (ey scientists and engineers for constructing the Machine, if the decision was made to go aheadC and, !riefly, the need to !uild enthusiasm for the )roAect in Congress and with the American )u!lic. >er %eer hastened to add that these would !e contingency )lans only, that no final decision was !eing made, and that no dou!t So iet concerns a!out a TroAan %orse were at least )artly genuine. 8it: as(ed a!out the com)osition of 9the crew.9

9They4re as(ing us to )ut )eo)le in fi e u)holstered chairs. 6hich )eo)le5 %ow do we decide5 $t4ll )ro!a!ly ha e to !e an international crew. %ow many Americans5 %ow many #ussians5 Any!ody else5 6e don4t (now what ha))ens to those fi e )eo)le when they sit down in those chairs, !ut we want to ha e the !est men for the Ao!.9 &llie did not rise to the !ait, and he continued. 9Now a maAor Buestion is going to !e who )ays for what, who !uilds what, who4s in charge of o erall systems integration. $ thin( we can do some real horse trading on this, in exchange for significant American re)resentation in the crew.9 97ut we still want to send the !est )ossi!le )eo)le,9 der %eer noted, a little o! iously. 9Sure,9 returned 8it:, 9!ut what do we mean !y ?!est45 Scientists5 "eo)le with military intelligence !ac(grounds5 "hysical strength and endurance5 "atriotism5 /That4s not a dirty word, you (now.2 And then9--he loo(ed u) from !uttering another croissant to glance directly at &llie-- 9there4s the Buestion of sex. Sexes, $ mean. >o we send only men5 $f it4s men and women, there has to !e more of one sex than the other. There4s fi e )laces, an odd num!er. Are all the crew mem!ers going to wor( together o(ay5 $f we go ahead with this )roAect, there4s gonna !e a lot of tough negotiation.9 9This doesn4t sound right to me,9 said &llie. 9This isn4t some am!assadorshi) you !uy with a cam)aign contri!ution. This is serious !usiness. Also, do you want some muscle-!ound moron u) there, some (id in his twenties who (nows nothing a!out how the world wor(s--Aust how to run a res)ecta!le hundred-yard dash and how to o!ey orders5 Or some )olitical hac(5 That can4t !e what this tri) is a!out.9 9No, you4re right.9 8it: smiled. 9$ thin( we4ll find )eo)le who satisfy all our criteria.9 >er %eer, the !ags under his eyes ma(ing him loo( almost haggard, adAourned the meeting. %e managed to gi e &llie a small )ri ate smile, !ut it was all li)s, no teeth. The &m!assy limousines were waiting to ta(e them !ac( to the &lysQe "alace. 9$4ll tell you why it would !e !etter to send #ussians,9 *aygay was saying. 96hen you Americans were o)ening u) your country--)ioneers, tra))ers, $ndian scouts, all that--you were

uno))osed, at least !y anyone at your le el of technology. .ou raced across your continent from the Atlantic to the "acific. After a while, you ex)ected e erything would !e easy. Our situation was different. 6e were conBuered !y the Mongols. Their horse technology was much su)erior to ours. 6hen we ex)anded eastward we were careful. 6e ne er crossed the wilderness and ex)ected it would !e easy. 6e4re more adAusted to ad ersity than you are. Also, Americans are used to !eing ahead techno-logically. 6e4re used to catching u) technologically. Now, e ery!ody on &arth is a #ussian--you understand, $ mean in our historical )osition. This mission needs So iets more than it needs Americans.9 Merely meeting with her alone entailed certain ris(s for *aygay--and for her as well, as 8it: had gone out of his way to remind her. Sometimes, during a scientific meeting in America or &uro)e, *aygay would !e )ermitted to s)end an afternoon with her. More often he was accom)anied !y colleagues or a #'7 !a!y-sitter--who would !e descri!ed as a translator, e en when his &nglish was clearly inferior to *aygay4sC or as a scientist from the secretariat of this or that Academy commission, exce)t that his (nowledge of the scientific matters often )ro ed su)erficial. *aygay would sha(e his head when as(ed a!out them. 7ut !y and large, he considered the !a!ysitters a )art of the game, the )rice you must )ay when they let you isit the 6est, and more than once she thought she detected a note of affection in *aygay4s oice when he tal(ed to the !a!y-sitter< To go to a foreign country and )retend to !e ex)ert in a su!Aect you (now )oorly must !e filled with anxiety. "erha)s, in their heart of hearts, the !a!y-sitters detested their assignment as much as *aygay did. They were seated at the same window ta!le at Che: >ieux. A distinct chill was in the air, a )remonition of winter, and a young man wearing a long !lue scarf as his only concession to the cold strode !ris(ly )ast the tu!s of chilled oysters outside the window. From 3unachars(y4s continuing /and uncharacteristically2 guarded remar(s, she deduced disarray in the So iet delegation. The So iets were concerned that the Machine might somehow redound to the strategic ad antage of the Knited States in the fi e-decade-old glo!al com)etition. *aygay had in fact !een shoc(ed !y 7aruda4s Buestion a!out !urning the data and destroying the radio telesco)es. %e had had no ad ance (nowledge of 7aruda4s )osition. The So iets had

)layed a ital role in gathering the Message, with the largest longitude co erage of any nation, *aygay stressed, and they had the only serious oceangoing radio telesco)es. They would ex)ect a maAor role in whate er came next. &llie assured him that, as far as she was concerned, they should ha e such a role. 93oo(, *aygay, they (now from our tele ision transmis- sions that the &arth rotates, and that there are many different nations. The Olym)ic !roadcast alone might ha e told them that. Su!seBuent transmissions from other nations would ha e nailed it down. So if they4re as good as we thin(, they could ha e )hased the transmission with the &arth4s rotation, so only one nation got the Message. They chose not to do that. They want the Message to !e recei ed !y e ery!ody on the )lanet. They4re ex)ecting the Machine to !e !uilt !y the whole )lanet. This can4t !e an all-American or an all-#ussian )roAect. $t4s not what our . . . client wants.9 7ut she was not sure, she told him, that she would !e )laying any role in decisions on Machine construction or crew selection. She was returning to the Knited States the next day, mainly to get on to) of the new radio data from the )ast few wee(s. The Consortium )lenary sessions seemed intermina!le, and no closing date had !een set. *aygay had !een as(ed !y his )eo)le to stay on at least a little longer. The Foreign Minister had Aust arri ed and was now leading the So iet delegation. 9$4m worried all this will end !adly,9 he said. ?There are so many things that can go wrong. Technological failures. "olitical failures. %uman failures. And e en if we get through all that, if we don4t ha e a war !ecause of the Machine, if we !uild it correctly and without !lowing oursel es u), $4m still worried.9 9A!out what5 %ow do you mean59 9The !est that can ha))en is we will !e made fools of.9 96ho will59 9Arroway, don4t you understand59 A ein in 3unachars(y4s nec( thro!!ed. 9$4m ama:ed you don4t see it. The &arth is a . . . ghetto. .es, a ghetto. All human !eings are tra))ed here.

6e ha e heard aguely that there are !ig cities out there !eyond the ghetto, with !road !oule ards filled with drosh(ys and !eautiful )erfumed women in furs. 7ut the cities are too far away, and we are too )oor e er to go there, e en the richest of us. Anyway, we (now they don4t want us. That4s why they4 e left us in this )athetic little illage in the first )lace. 9And now along comes an in itation. As Ni said. Fancy, elegant. They ha e sent us an engra ed card and an em)ty drosh(y. 6e are to send fi e illagers and the drosh(y will carry them to--who (nows5-6arsaw. Or Moscow. May!e e en "aris. Of course, some are tem)ted to go. There will always !e )eo)le who are flattered !y the in itation, or who thin( it is a way to esca)e our sha!!y illage. 9And what do you thin( will ha))en when we get there5 >o you thin( the 'rand >u(e will ha e us to dinner5 6ill the "resident of the Academy as( us interesting Buestions a!out daily life in our filthy shtetl5 >o you imagine the #ussian Orthodox Metro)olitan will engage us in learned discourse on com)arati e religion5 9No, Arroway. 6e will gaw( at the !ig city, and they will laugh at us !ehind their hands. They will exhi!it us to the curious. The more !ac(ward we are the !etter they4ll feel, the more reassured they4ll !e. 9$t4s a Buota system. & ery few centuries, fi e of us get to s)end a wee(end on *ega. %a e )ity on the )ro incials, and ma(e sure they (now who their !etters are.9 C%A"T&# +7a!ylon 6ith the !asest of com)anions, $ wal(ed the streets of 7a!ylon... -AK'KST$N& Confessions, $$, T%& C#A. D+ mainframe com)uter at Argus had !een instructed to com)are each day4s har est of data from *ega with the earliest records of 3e el - of the )alim)sest. $n effect, one long and incom)rehensi!le seBuence of :eros and ones was !eing com)ared automatically with another, earlier, such seBuence. This was )art of a massi e statistical intercom)arison of arious segments of the still unde-cry)ted text. There

were some short seBuences of :eros and ones--9words9 the analysts called them, ho)efully--which were re)eated again and again. Many seBuences would a))ear only once in thousands of )ages of text. This statistical a))roach to message decry)tion was familiar to &llie since high school. 7ut the su!routines su))lied !y the ex)erts from the National Security Agency--made a aila!le only as a result of a )residential directi e, and e en then armed with instructions to self-destruct if examined closely--were !rilliant. 6hat )rodigies of human in enti eness, &llie reflected, were !eing directed to reading each other4s mail. The glo!al confrontation !etween the Knited States and the So iet Knion--now, to !e sure, easing somewhat--was still eating u) the world. $t was not Aust the financial resources dedicated to the military esta!lishments of all nations. That was a))roaching two trillion dollars a year, and !y itself was ruinously ex)ensi e when there were so many other urgent human needs. 7ut still worse, she (new, was the intellectual effort dedicated to the arms race. Almost half the scientists on the )lanet, it had !een estimated, were em)loyed !y one or another of the almost two hundred military esta!lishments worldwide. And they were not the dregs of the doctoral )rograms in )hysics and mathematics. Some of her colleagues would console themsel es with this thought when the aw(ward )ro!lem arose of what to tell a recent doctoral candidate !eing courted !y, say, one of the wea)ons la!oratories. 9$f he was any good, he4d !e offered an assistant )rofessorshi) at Stanford, at least,9 she could recall >rumlin once saying. No, a certain (ind of mind and character was drawn to the military a))lications of science and mathematics--)eo)le who li(ed !ig ex)losions, for exam)leC or those with no taste for )ersonal com!at who, to a enge some schoolyard inAustice, as)ired to military commandC or in eterate )u::le sol ers who longed to decry)t the most com)lex messages (nown. Occasionally the s)ur was )olitical, tracing !ac( to international dis)utes, immigration )olicies, wartime horrors, )olice !rutality, or national )ro)aganda !y this nation or that decades earlier. Many of these scientists had real a!ility, &llie (new, whate er reser ations she might ha e a!out their moti ations. She tried to imagine that massed talent really dedicated to the well-!eing of the s)ecies and the )lanet. She )ored o er the studies that had accumulated during her a!sence. They were

ma(ing almost no )rogress in decry)ting the Message, although the statistical analyses now stac(ed into a )ile of )a)er a meter tall. $t was all ery discouraging. She wished there were someone, es)ecially a close woman friend, at Argus to whom she could )our out her hurt and anger at 8en4s !eha ior. 7ut there was not, and she was disinclined e en to use the tele)hone for this )ur)ose. She did manage to s)end a wee(end with her coKege friend 7ec(y &llen!ogen in Austin, !ut 7ec(y, whose a))raisals of men tended to !e somewhere !etween wry and scathing, in this case was sur)risingly mild in her criticism. 9%e is the "resident4s Science Ad iser, and this is only the most ama:ing disco ery in the history of the world. >on4t !e so hard on him,9 7ec(y urged. 9%e4ll come around.9 7ut 7ec(y was another of those who found 8en 9charming9 /she had met him once at the dedication of the National Neutrino O!ser atory2, and was )erha)s too inclined to accommodate to )ower. %ad der %eer treated &llie in this sha!!y way while he was a mere )rofessor of molecular !iology somewhere, 7ec(y would ha e mari-nated and s(ewered the man. After returning from "aris, der %eer had mustered a regular cam)aign of a)ology and de otion. %e had !een o erstressed, he told her, o erwhelmed with a range of res)onsi!ilities including difficult and unfamiliar )olitical issues. %is )osition as leader of the American delegation and cochairman of the )lenary might ha e !een rendered less effecti e if there had !een )u!lic (nowledge of his and &llie4s relationshi). 8it: had !een insuffera!le. 8en had had too many consecuti e nights with only a few hours4 slee). Altogether, &llie Audged, there were too many ex)lanations. 7ut she )ermitted the relationshi) to continue. 6hen it ha))ened, it was 6illie once again, this time on the gra eyard shift, who first noticed. Afterward, 6illie would attri!ute the s)eed of the disco ery less to the su)erconducting com)uter and the NSA )rograms than to the new %adden context-recognition chi)s. At any rate, *ega had !een low in the s(y an hour or so !efore dawn when the com)uter triggered an understated alarm. 6ith some annoyance, 6illie )ut down what he was reading--it was a new text!oo( on Fast Fourier Transform S)ectrosco)y-- and

noticed these words !eing )rinted out on the screen< #"T. T&NT "". F+G+;-F+G+0< 7$T M$SMATC% HEDD;+. CO##&3AT$ON CO&FF$C$&NT H.00I As he watched, F+G+0 !ecame F+GDH and then F+GD+. The digits after the slash were increasing in a continuous !lur. 7oth the num!er of )ages and the correlation coefficient, a measure of the im)ro!a!ility that the correlation was !y chance, increased as he watched. %e ga e it another two )ages !efore )ic(ing u) the direct line to &llie4s a)artment. She had !een in a dee) slee) and was momentarily disoriented. 7ut she Buic(ly turned on the !edside light and after a moment ga e instructions for senior Argus staff to !e assem!led. She would, she told him, locate der %eer, who was somewhere on the facility. This )ro ed not ery difficult. She shoo( his shoulder. 98en, get u). There4s word that we4 e re)eated.9 96hat59 ?The Message has cycled !ac(. Or at least that4s what 6illie says. $4m on my way there. 6hy don4t you wait another ten minutes so we can )retend you were in your room in 7SJ59 She was almost at the door !efore he shouted after her, 9%ow can we recycle5 6e ha en4t gotten the )rimer yet.9 #acing across the screens was a )aired seBuence of :eros and ones, a real-time com)arison of the data Aust !eing recei ed and the data from an early )age of text recei ed at Argus a year !efore. The )rogram would ha e culled out any differences. So far, there were none. $t reassured them that they had not mistranscri!ed, that there were no a))arent transmission errors, and that if some small dense interstellar cloud !etween *ega and the &arth was a!le to eat the occasional :ero or one, this was an infreBuent occurrence. Argus was !y now in real-time communication with do:ens of other telesco)es that were )art of the 6orld Message Consortium, and the news of recycling was )assed on to the next o!ser ing

stations westward, to California, %awaii, the Marshal Nedelin now in the South "acific, and to Sydney. %ad the disco ery !een made when *ega was o er one of the other telesco)es in the networ(, Argus would ha e !een informed instantly. The a!sence of the )rimer was an agoni:ing disa))ointment, !ut it was not the only sur)rise. The Message )age num!ers had Aum)ed discontinuously from the FH,HHHs to the +H,HHHs, where recycling had !een unco ered. & idently Argus had disco ered the transmission from *ega almost at the moment it first arri ed at &arth. $t was a remar(a!ly strong signal, and would ha e !een )ic(ed u) e en !y small omnidirectional telesco)es. 7ut it was a sur)rising coincidence that the !roadcast should arri e at &arth at the ery moment Argus was loo(ing at *ega. Also, what did it mean for the text to !egin on a )age in the +H,HHHs5 6ere there +H,HHH )ages of text missing5 6as it a !ac(ward )ractice of the )ro incial &arth to start num!ering !oo(s on )age $5 6ere these seBuential num!ers )erha)s not )age num!ers !ut something else5 Or-- and this worried &llie the most--was there some fundamental and unex)ected difference !etween how humans thought of things and how the aliens thought5 $f so, it would ha e worrisome im)lications a!out the a!ility of the Consortium to understand the Message, )rimer or no )rimer. The Message re)eated exactly, the ga)s were all filled in and no!ody could read a word of it. $t seemed unli(ely that the transmitting ci ili:ation, meticulous in all else, had sim)ly o erloo(ed the need for a )rimer. At least the Olym)ic !roadcast and the interior design of the Machine seemed to !e tailored s)ecifically for humans. They would hardly go to all this trou!le to de ise and transmit the Message without ma(ing some )ro ision for humans to read it. So humans must ha e o erloo(ed something. $t soon !ecame generally agreed that somewhere was a fourth layer to the )alim)sest. 7ut where5 The diagrams were )u!lished in an eight- olume 9coffee ta!le9 !oo( set that was soon re)rinted worldwide. All o er the )lanet )eo)le tried to figure out the )ictures. The dodecahedron and the Buasi-!iological forms were es)ecially e ocati e. Many cle er suggestions were made !y the )u!lic and carefully sifted !y the Argus team. Many hare!rained inter)retations were also widely a aila!le,

es)ecially in wee(ly news)a)ers. 6hole new industries de elo)ed--dou!tless unforeseen !y those who de ised the Message--dedicated to using the diagrams to !il( the )u!lic. The Ancient and Mystical Order of the >odecahedron was announced. The Machine was a KFO. The Machine was &:e(iel4s 6heel. An angel re ealed the meaning of the Message and the diagrams to a 7ra:ilian !usinessman, who distri!uted--at first, at his own ex)ense--his inter)retation worldwide. 6ith so many enigmatic diagrams to inter)ret, it was ine ita!le that many religions would recogni:e some of their iconogra)hy in the Message from the stars. A )rinci)al cross section of the Machine loo(ed something li(e a chrysanthemum, a fact that stirred great enthusiasm in @a)an. $f there had !een an image of a human face among all the diagrams, messianic fer or might ha e reached a flash )oint. As it was, a sur)risingly large num!er of )eo)le were winding u) their affairs in )re)aration for the Ad ent. $ndustrial )roducti ity was off worldwide. Many had gi en away all their )ossessions to the )oor and then, as the end of the world was delayed, were o!liged to see( hel) from a charity or the State. 7ecause gifts of this sort constituted a maAor fraction of the resources of such charities, some of the )hilanthro)ists ended u) !eing su))orted !y their own gifts. >elegations a))roached go ernment leaders to urge that schistosomiasis, say, or world hunger !e ended !y the Ad entC otherwise there was no telling what would ha))en to us. Others counseled, more Buietly, that if there was a decade of real world madness in the offing, there must !e a considera!le monetary or national ad antage in it somewhere. Some said that there was no )rimer, that the whole exercise was to teach humans humility, or to dri e us mad. There were news)a)er editorials on how we4re not as smart as we thin( we are, and some resentment directed at the scientists who, after all the su))ort gi en to them !y the go ernments, ha e failed us in our time of need. Or may!e humans are much dum!er than the *egans ga e us credit for. May!e there was some )oint that had !een entirely o! ious to all )re ious emerging ci ili:ations so contacted, something no one in the history of the 'alaxy had e er missed !efore. A few commentators em!raced this )ros)ect of cosmic humiliation with real enthusiasm. $t demonstrated what they4d !een saying

a!out )eo)le all along. After a while, &llie decided that she needed hel). They entered surre)titiously through the &nlil 'ate, with an escort dis)atched !y the "ro)rietor. The 'eneral Ser ices Administration security detail was edgy des)ite, or )erha)s !ecause of, the additional )rotection. Although there was a little sunlight still left, the dirt streets were lit !y !ra:iers, oil lam)s, and an occasional guttering torch. Two am)horas, each large enough to contain an adult human !eing, flan(ed the entrance to a retail oli e oil esta!lishment. The ad ertising was in cuneiform. On an adAacent )u!lic !uilding was a magnificent !as-relief of a lion hunt from the reign of Assur!ani)al. As they a))roached the Tem)le of Assur, there was a scuffle in the crowd, and her escort made a wide !erth. She now had an uno!structed iew of the Liggurat down a wide torchlit a enue. $t was more !reathta(ing than in the )ictures. There was a martial flourish on an unfamiliar !rass instrumentC three men and a horse clattered !y, the charioteer in "hrygian headdress. As in some medie al rendition of a cautionary tale from the !oo( of 'enesis, the to) of the Liggurat was en elo)ed in low twilit clouds. They left the $shtarian 6ay and entered the Liggurat through a side street. $n the )ri ate ele ator, her escort )ressed the !utton for the to)most floor< 9Forty,9 it read. No numerals. @ust the word. And then, to lea e no room for dou!t, a glass )anel flashed, ?The 'ods.9 Mr. %adden would !e with her shortly. 6ould she li(e something to drin( while she waited5 Considering the re)utation of the )lace, &llie demurred. 7a!ylon lay s)read out !efore her-magnificent, as e eryone said, in its recreation of a long-gone time and )lace. >uring daylight hours !usloads from museums, a ery few schools, and the tourist agencies would arri e at the $shtar 'ate, don a))ro)riate clothes, and tra el !ac( in time. %adden wisely donated all )rofits from his daytime clientele to New .or( City and 3ong $sland charities. The daytime tours were immensely )o)ular, in )art !ecause it was a res)ecta!le o))ortunity to loo( the )lace o er for those who would not dream of isiting 7a!ylon at night. 6ell, may!e they would dream.

After dar(, 7a!ylon was called an adult amusement )ar(. $t was of an o)ulence, scale, and imaginati eness that dwarfed, say, the #ee)er!ahn in %am!urg. $t was !y far the largest tourist attraction in the New .or( metro)olitan area, with !y far the largest gross re enues. %ow %adden had !een a!le to con ince the city fathers of 7a!ylon, New .or(, and how he had lo!!ied for an 9easement9 of local and state )rostitution laws was well (nown. $t was now a half-hour train ride from midtown Manhattan to the $shtar 'ate. &llie had insisted on ta(ing this train, des)ite the entreaties of the security )eo)le, and had found almost a third of the isitors to !e women. There were no graffiti, little danger of mugging, !ut a much inferior !rand of white noise com)ared with the con eyances of the New .or( City su!way system. Although %adden was a mem!er of the National Academy of &ngineering, he had ne er, so far as &llie (new, attended a meeting, and she had ne er set eyes on him. %is face !ecame well (nown to millions of Americans, howe er, years !efore as a result of the Ad ertising Council4s cam)aign against him< ?The Knamerican9 had !een the ca)tion under an unflattering )ortrait of %adden. & en so, she was ta(en a!ac( when in the midst of her re erie !y the slanted glass wall she was interru)ted !y a small, fat !ec(oning )erson. 9Oh. Sorry. $ ne er understand how anyone can !e afraid of me.9 %is oice was sur)risingly musical. $n fact, he seemed to tal( in fifths. %e hadn4t thought it necessary to introduce himself and once again inclined his head to the door he had left aAar. $t was hard to !elie e that some crime of )assion was a!out to !e isited u)on her under these circumstances, and wordlessly she entered the next room. %e ushered her to a meticulously crafted ta!leto) model of an ancient city of less )retentious as)ect than 7a!ylon 9"om)eii,9 he said !y way of ex)lanation. 9The stadium here is the (ey. 6ith the restrictions on !oxing there aren4t any healthy !lood s)orts left in America. *ery im)ortant. Suc(s out some of the )oisons from the national !loodstream. The whole thing is designed, )ermits issued, and now this.9

96hat4s ?this459 9No gladiatorial games. $ Aust got word from Sacramento. There4s a !ill !efore the legislature to outlaw gladiatorial games in California. Too iolent, they say. They authori:e a new s(yscra)er, they (now they4ll lose two or three construction wor(ers. The unions (now, the !uilders (now, and that4s Aust to !uild offices for oil com)anies or 7e erly %ills lawyers. Sure, we4d lose a few. 7ut we4re geared more to trident and net than the short sword. Those legislators don4t ha e their )riorities straight.9 %e !eamed at her owlishly and offered a drin(, which again she refused. 9So you want to tal( to me a!out the Machine, and $ want to tal( to you a!out the Machine. .ou first. .ou want to (now where the )rimer is59 96e4re as(ing for hel) from a few (ey )eo)le who might ha e some insight. 6e thought with your record of in ention--and since your context-recognition chi) was in ol ed in the recycling disco ery--that you might )ut yourself in the )lace of the *egans and thin( of where you4d )ut the )rimer. 6e recogni:e you4re ery !usy, and $4m sorry to--9 9Oh, no. $t4s all right. $t4s true $4m !usy. $4m trying to regulari:e my affairs, !ecause $4m gonna ma(e a !ig change in my life . . .9 9For the Millennium59 She tried to imagine him gi ing away S. #. %adden and Com)any, the 6all Street !ro(erage houseC 'enetic &ngineering, $nc.C %adden Cy!erneticsC and 7a!ylon to the )oor. 9Not exactly. No. $t was fun to thin( a!out. $t made me feel good to !e as(ed. $ loo(ed at the diagrams.9 %e wa ed at the commercial set of eight olumes s)read in disarray on a wor(ta!le. 9There are wonderful things in there, !ut $ don4t thin( that4s where the )rimer is hiding. Not in the diagrams. $ don4t (now why you thin( the )rimer has to !e in the Message. May!e they left it on Mars or "luto or in the Oort Comet Cloud, and well disco er it in a few centuries. #ight now, we (now there4s this wonderful Machine, with design drawings and thirty thousand )ages of ex)lanatory text. 7ut we don4t (now whether we4d !e a!le to !uild the thing if we could read it. So we wait a few centuries, im)ro ing our technology, (nowing that sooner or later we4ll ha e to !e ready to !uild it. Not ha ing the )rimer !inds

us u) with future generations. %uman !eings are sent a )ro!lem that ta(es generations to sol e. $ don4t thin( that4s such a !ad thing. Might !e ery healthy. May!e you4re ma(ing a mista(e loo(ing for a )rimer. May!e it4s !etter not to find it.9 9No, $ want to find the )rimer right away. 6e don4t (now it4ll !e waiting for us fore er. $f they hang u) !ecause there was no answer, it would !e much worse than if they4d ne er called at all.9 96ell, may!e you ha e a )oint. Anyway, $ thought of as many )ossi!ilities as $ could. $4ll gi e you a cou)le of tri ial )ossi!ilities, and then a nontri ial )ossi!ility. Tri ial first< The )rimer4s in the Message !ut at a ery different data rate. Su))ose there was another message in there at a !it an hour--could you detect that59 9A!solutely. 6e routinely chec( for long-term recei er drift in any case. 7ut also a !it an hour only !uys you--let me see--ten, twenty thousand !its to)s !efore the Message recycles.9 9So that ma(es sense only if the )rimer is much easier than the Message. .ou thin( it isn4t. E thin( it isn4t. Now, what a!out much faster !it rates5 %ow do you (now that under e ery !it of your Machine Message there aren4t a million !its of )rimer message59 97ecause it would )roduce monster !andwidths. 6e4d (now in an instant.9 9O(ay, so there4s a fast data dum) e ery now and then. Thin( of it as microfilm. There4s a tiny dot of microfilm that4s sitting in re)etitious--+ mean in re)etiti e--)arts of the Message. $4m imagining a little !ox that says in your regular language, ?$ am the )rimer.4 Then right after that there4s a dot. And in that dot is a hundred million !its, ery fast. .ou might see if you4 e got any !oxes.9 97elie e me, we would ha e seen it.9 9O(ay, how a!out )hase modulation5 6e use it in radar and s)acecraft telemetry, and it hardly messes u) the s)ectrum at all. %a e you hoo(ed u) a )hase correlator59 9No. That4s a useful idea. $4ll loo( into it.9 9Now, the nontri ial idea is this< $f the Machine e er gets made, if our )eo)le

are gonna sit in it, some!ody4s gonna )ress a !utton and then those fi e are gonna go somewhere. Ne er mind where. Now, there4s an interesting Buestion whether those fi e are gonna come !ac(. May!e not. $ li(e the idea that all this Machine design was in ented !y *egan !ody snatchers. .ou (now, their medical students, or anthro)ologists or something. They need a few human !odies. $t4s a !ig hassle to come to &arth--you need )ermission, )asses from the transit authority--hell, it4s more trou!le than it4s worth. 7ut with a little effort you can send the &arth a Message and then the earthlings4ll go to all the trou!le to shi) you fi e !odies. 9$t4s li(e stam) collecting. $ used to collect stam)s when $ was a (id. .ou could send a letter to some!ody in a foreign country and most of the time they4d write !ac(. $t didn4t matter what they said. All you wanted was the stam). So that4s my )icture< There4s a few stam) collectors on *ega. They send letters out when they4re in the mood, and !odies come flying !ac( to them from all o er s)ace. 6ouldn4t you li(e to see the collection59 %e smiled u) at her and continued. 9O(ay, so what does this ha e to do with finding the )rimer5 Nothing. $t4s rele ant only if $4m wrong. $f my )icture is wrong, if the fi e )eo)le are coming !ac( to &arth, then it would !e a !ig hel) if we4 e in ented s)aceflight. No matter how smart they are, it4s gonna !e tough to land the Machine. Too many things are mo ing. 'od (nows what the )ro)ulsion system is. $f you )o) out of s)ace a few meters !elow ground, you4 e had it. And what4s a few meters in twenty-six light-years5 $t4s too ris(y. 6hen the Machine comes !ac( it4ll )o) out--or whate er it does--in s)ace, somewhere near the &arth, !ut not on it or in it. So they ha e to !e sure we ha e s)aceflight, so the fi e )eo)le can !e rescued in s)ace. They4re in a hurry and can4t sit tight until the +0,; e ening news arri es on *ega. So what do they do5 They arrange so )art of the Message can only !e detected from s)ace. 6hat )art is that5 The )rimer. $f you can detect the )rimer, you4 e got s)aceflight and you can come !ac( safe. So $ imagine the )rimer is !eing sent at the freBuency of the oxygen a!sor)tions in the microwa e s)ectrum, or in the near-infrared-some )art of the s)ectrum you can4t detect until you4re well out of the &arth4s atmos)here ...9 96e4 e had the %u!!le Telesco)e loo(ing at *ega all through the ultra iolet,

isi!le, and near-infrared. Not a hint of anything. The #ussians ha e re)aired their millimeter wa e instrument. They4 e hardly !een loo(ing at anything !esides *ega and they ha en4t found anything. 7ut we4ll (ee) loo(ing. Other )ossi!ilities59 9Sure you wouldn4t li(e a drin(5 $ don4t drin( myself, !ut so many )eo)le do.9 &llie again declined. 9No, no other )ossi!ilities. Now it4s my turn5 9See, $ want to as( you for something. 7ut $4m not good at as(ing for things. $ ne er ha e !een. My )u!lic image is rich, funny-loo(ing, unscru)ulous--some!ody who loo(s for wea(nesses in the system so he can ma(e a fast !uc(. And don4t tell me you don4t !elie e any of that. & ery!ody !elie es at least some of it. .ou4 e )ro!a!ly heard some of what $4m gonna say !efore, !ut gi e me ten minutes and $4ll tell you how all this !egan. $ want you to (now something a!out me.9 She settled !ac(, wondering what he could )ossi!ly want of her, and !rushed away idle fantasies in ol ing the Tem)le of $shtar, %adden, and )erha)s a charioteer or two thrown in for good measure. .ears !efore, he had in ented a module that, when a tele ision commercial a))eared, automatically muted the sound. $t wasn4t at first a context-recognition de ice. $nstead, it sim)ly monitored the am)litude of the carrier wa e. T* ad ertisers had ta(en to running their ads louder and with less audio clutter than the )rograms that were their nominal ehicles. News of %adden4s module s)read !y word of mouth. "eo)le re)orted a sense of relief, the lifting of a great !urden, e en a feeling of Aoy at !eing freed from the ad ertising !arrage for the six to eight hours out of e ery day that the a erage American s)ent in front of the tele ision set. 7efore there could !e any coordinated res)onse from the tele ision ad ertising industry, Adnix had !ecome wildly )o)ular. $t forced ad ertisers and net- wor(s into new choices of carrier-wa e strategy, each of which %adden countered with a new in ention. Sometimes he in ented circuits to defeat strategies that the agencies and the networ(s had not yet hit u)on. %e would say that he was sa ing them the trou!le of ma(ing in entions, at great cost to their shareholders, which were at any rate doomed to failure. As his sales olume increased, he (e)t cutting )rices. $t was a (ind of

electronic warfare. And he was winning. They tried to sue him--something a!out a cons)iracy in restraint of trade. They had sufficient )olitical muscle that his motion for summary dismissal was denied, !ut insufficient influence to actually win the case. The trial had forced %adden to in estigate the rele ant legal codes. Soon after, he a))lied, through a well(nown Madison A enue agency in which he was now a maAor silent )artner, to ad ertise his own )roduct on commercial tele ision. After a few wee(s of contro ersy his commercials were refused. %e sued all three networ(s and in this trial was a!le to )ro e cons)iracy in restraint of trade. %e recei ed a huge settlement that was, at the time, a record for cases of this sort, and which contri!uted in its modest way to the demise of the original networ(s. There had always !een )eo)le who enAoyed the commercials, of course, and they had no need for Adnix. 7ut they were a dwindling minority. %adden made a great fortune !y e iscerating !roadcast ad ertising. %e also made many enemies. 7y the time context-recognition chi)s were commercially a aila!le, he was ready with "reachnix, a su!module which could !e )lugged into Adnix. $t would sim)ly switch channels if !y chance a doctrinaire religious )rogram should !e tuned in. .ou could )reselect (ey words, such as 9Ad ent9 or 9#a)ture,9 and cut great swaths through the a aila!le )rogramming. "reachnix was a godsend for a long-suffering !ut significant minority of tele ision iewers. There was tal(, some of it halfserious, that %adden4s next su!module would !e called @i enix, and would wor( only on )u!lic addresses !y )residents and )remiers. As he further de elo)ed context-recognition chi)s, it !ecame o! ious to him that they had much wider a))lications--from education, science, and medicine, to military intelligence and industrial es)ionage. $t was on this issue that the lines were drawn for the famous suit Knited States . %adden Cy!ernetics. One of %adden4s chi)s was considered too good for ci ilian life, and on recommendation of the National Security Agency, the facilities and (ey )ersonnel for the most ad anced contextrecognition chi) )roduction were ta(en o er !y the go ernment. $t was sim)ly too im)ortant to read the #ussian mail. 'od (nows, they told

him, what would ha))en if the #ussians could read our mail. %adden refused to coo)erate in the ta(eo er and owed to di ersify into areas that could not )ossi!ly !e connected with national security. The go ernment was nationali:ing industry, he said. They claimed to !e ca)italists, !ut when )ush came to sho e they showed their socialist face. %e had found an unsatisfied )u!lic need and em)loyed an existing and legal new technology to deli er what they wanted. $t was classic ca)italism. 7ut there were many so!er ca)italists who would tell you that he had already gone too far with Adnix, that he had )osed a real threat to the American way of life. $n a dour column signed *. "etro , "ra da called it a concrete exam)le of the contradictions of ca)italism. The 6all Street @ournal countered, )erha)s a little tangentially, !y calling "ra da, which in #ussian means 9truth,9 a concrete exam)le of the contradictions of communism. %e sus)ected that the ta(eo er was only a )retext, that his real offense had !een to attac( ad ertising and ideo e angelism. Adnix and "reachnix were the essence of ca)italist entre)reneurshi), he argued re)eatedly. The )oint of ca)italism was su))osed to !e )ro iding )eo)le with alternati es. 96ell, the a!sence of ad ertising is an alternati e, $ told them. There are huge ad ertising !udgets only when there4s no difference !etween the )roducts. $f the )roducts really were different, )eo)le would !uy the one that4s !et- ter. Ad ertising teaches )eo)le not to trust their Audgment. Ad ertising teaches )eo)le to !e stu)id. A strong country needs smart )eo)le. So Adnix is )atriotic. The manufacturers can use some of their ad ertising !udgets to im)ro e their )roducts. The consumer will !enefit. Maga:ines and news)a)ers and direct mail !usiness will !oom, and that4ll ease the )ain in the ad agencies. $ don4t see what the )ro!lem is.9 Adnix, much more than the innumera!le li!el suits against the original commercial networ(s, led directly to their demise. For a while there was a small army of unem)loyed ad ertising executi es, down-and-out former networ( officials, and )enniless di ines who had sworn !lood oaths to re enge themsel es on %adden. And there was an e er-growing num!er of still more formida!le ad ersaries. 6ithout a dou!t, she thought, %adden was an interesting man.

9So $ figure it4s time to go. $4 e got more money than $ (now what to do with, my wife can4t stand me, and $4 e got enemies e erywhere. $ want to do something im)ortant, something worthy. $ want to do something so that hundreds of years from now )eo)le will loo( !ac( and !e glad $ was around.9 9.ou want--9 9$ want to !uild the Machine. 3oo(, $4m )erfectly suited for it. $4 e got the !est cy!ernetics ex)ertise, )ractical cy!ernetics, in the !usiness--!etter than Camegie-Mellon, !etter than M$T, !etter than Stanford, !etter than Santa 7ar!ara. And if there4s anything clear from those )lans, it4s that this isn4t a Ao! for an oldtime tool-and-die ma(er. And you4re going to need something li(e genetic engineering. .ou won4t find any!ody more dedicated to this Ao!. And $4ll do it at cost.9 9#eally, Mr. %adden, who !uilds the Machine, if we e er get to that )oint, isn4t u) to me. $t4s an international decision. All sorts of )olitics is in ol ed. They4re still de!ating in "aris a!out whether to !uild the thing, if and when we decry)t the Message.9 9>on4t you thin( $ (now that5 $4m also a))lying through the usual channels of influence and corru)tion. $ Aust want to ha e a good word )ut in for me for the right reasons, !y the side of the angels. .on understand5 And s)ea(ing of angels, you really shoo( u) "almer @oss and 7illy @o #an-(in. $ ha en4t seen them so agitated since that trou!le they had a!out Mary4s waters. #an(in saying he was deli!erately misBuoted a!out su))orting the Machine. My, my.9 %e shoo( his head in moc( consternation. That some long-standing )ersonal enmity existed !etween these acti e )roselyti:ers and the in entor of "reachnix seemed )ro!a!le enough, and for some reason she was mo ed to their defense. 9They4re !oth a lot smarter than you might thin(. And "almer @oss is ... well, there4s something genuine a!out him. %e4s not a )hony.9 9.ou4re sure it4s not Aust another )retty face5 &xcuse me, !ut it4s im)ortant that )eo)le understand their feelings on this. $t4s too im)ortant not to. $ (now these clowns. Knderneath, when )ush comes to sho e,

they4re Aac(als. A lot of )eo)le find religion attracti e--you (now, )ersonally, sexually. .ou ought to see what ha))ens in the Tem)le of $shtar.9 She re)ressed a small shi er of re ulsion. 9$ thin( $ will ha e that drin(,9 she said. 3oo(ing down from the )enthouse, she could see the gradated tiers of the Liggurat, each dra)ed with flowers, some artificial, some real, de)ending on the season. $t was a reconstruction of the %anging 'ardens of 7a!ylon, one of the Se en 6onders of the Ancient 6orld. Miraculously, it was so arranged that it did not closely resem!le a %yatt %otel. Far !elow, she could ma(e out a torchlit )rocession headed !ac( from the Liggurat to the &nlil 'ate. $t was led !y a (ind of sedan chair held !y four !urly men stri))ed to the waist. 6ho or what was in it she could not ma(e out. 9$t4s a ceremony in honor of 'ilgamesh, one of the ancient Sumerian culture heroes.9, $4 e heard of him.9 C%A"T&# +F %armonic Oscillator Sce)ticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer< there is no!ility in )reser ing it coolly and )roudly through long youth, until at last, in the ri)eness of instinct and discretion, it can !e safely exchanged for fidelity and ha))iness. -'&O#'& SANTA.ANA Sce)ticism and Animal Faith, $N $T 6AS On a mission of insurgency and su! ersion. The enemy was astly larger and more )owerful. 7ut it (new the enemy4s wea(ness. $t could ta(e o er the alien go ernment, turning the resources of the ad ersary to its own )ur)ose. Now, with millions of dedicated agents in )lace... She snee:ed and tried to find a clean )a)er tissue in the !ulging )oc(et of the terry-cloth )residential !athro!e. She had no ma(eu) on, although her cha))ed li)s re ealed )atches of mentholated !alm. 9My doctor tells me $ ha e to stay in !ed or $4ll get iral )neumonia. $ as( him for an anti!iotic, and he tells me there4s no anti!iotic for iruses. So how does he (now $ ha e a irus59

>er %eer o)ened his mouth to answer, a gesture in the ma(ing, when the "resident cut him short. 9No, ne er mind. .ou4ll start telling me a!out >NA and host recognition and $4ll need what resources $4 e got left to listen to your story. $f you4re not afraid of my irus, )ull u) a chair.9 ?Than( you, Ms. "resident. This is a!out the )rimer. $ ha e the re)ort here. There4s a long technical section that4s included as an a))endix. $ thought you might !e interested in it also. 7riefly, we4re reading and actually understanding the thing with almost no difficulty. $t4s a fiendishly cle er learning )rogram. $ don4t mean ?fiendishly4 in any literal sense, of course. 6e must ha e a oca!ulary of three thousand words !y now.9 9$ don4t understand how it4s )ossi!le. $ could sec how they could teach you the names of their num!ers. .ou ma(e one dot and write the letters O N & underneath, and so on. $ could see how you could ha e a )icture of a star and then write S T A # under it. 7ut $ don4t see how you could do er!s or the )ast tense or conditionals.9 ?They do some of it with mo ies. Mo ies are )erfect for er!s. And a lot of it they do with num!ers. & en a!strac- tionsC they can communicate a!stractions with num!ers. $t goes something li(e this< First they count out the num!ers for us, and then they introduce some new words--words we don4t understand. %ere, $$$ indicate their words !y letters. 6e read something li(e this /the letters stand for sym!ols the *egans introduce2.9 %e wrote< +A+7DL +AD7-L +A;71L 96hat do you thin( it is59 9My high school re)ort card5 .ou mean there4s a com!ination of dots and dashes that A stands for, and a different com!ination of dots and dashes that 7 stands for, and so on59 9&xactly. .ou (now what one and two mean, !ut you don4t (now what A and 7 mean. 6hat does a seBuence li(e this tell you59 9A means ?)lus4 and 7 means ?eBuals.4 $s that what you4re getting at59

9'ood. 7ut we don4t yet understand what L means, right5 Now along comes something li(e this9< +AD7F. 9.ou see59 9May!e. 'i e me another that ends in ..9 DHHHAFHHH7H. 9O(ay, $ thin( $ got it. As long as $ don4t read the last three sym!ols as a word. L means it4s true, and . means it4s false.9 9#ight. &xactly. "retty good for a "resident with a irus and a South African crisis. So with a few lines of text they4 e taught us four words< )lus, eBuals, true, false. Four )retty useful words. Then they teach di ision, di ide one !y :ero, and tell us the word for infinity. Or may!e it4s Aust the word for indeterminate. Or they say, The sum of the interior angles of a triangle is two right angles.4 Then they comment that the statement is true if s)ace is flat, !ut false if s)ace is cur ed. So you4 e learned how to say ?if and--9 9$ didn4t (now s)ace was cur ed. 8en, what the hell are you tal(ing a!out5 %ow can s)ace !e cur ed5 No, ne er mind, ne er mind. That can4t ha e anything to do with the !usiness in front of us.9 9Actually...9 9Sol %adden tells me it was his idea where to find the )rimer. >on4t loo( at me funny, der %eer. $ tal( to all ty)es.9 9$ didn4t mean ...ah... As $ understand it, Mr. %adden olunteered a few suggestions, which had all !een made !y other scientists as well. >r. Arroway chec(ed them out and hit )aydirt with one of them. $t4s called )hase modulation, or )hase coding.9 Now, is this correct. 8en5 The )rimer is scattered throughout the Message, right5 3ots of re)etitions. And there was some )rimer shortly after Arroway first )ic(ed u) the signal.9 9Shortly after she )ic(ed u) the third layer of the )alim)sest, the Machine

design.9 9And many countries ha e the technology to read the )rimer, right59 96ell, they need a de ice called a )hase correlator. 7ut, yes. The countries that count, anyway.9 9Then the #ussians could ha e read the )rimer a year ago, right5 Or the Chinese or the @a)anese. %ow do you (now they4re not halfway to !uilding the Machine right now59 9$ thought of that, !ut Mar in .ang says it4s im)ossi!le. Satellite )hotogra)hy, electronic intelligence, )eo)le on the scene, all confirm that there4s no sign of the (ind of maAor construction )roAect you4d need to !uild the Machine. No, we4 e all !een aslee) at the switch. 6e were seduced !y the idea that the )rimer had to come at the !eginning and not inters)ersed through the Message. $t4s only when the Mes- sage recycled and we disco ered it wasn4t there that we started thin(ing of other )ossi!ilities. All this wor( has !een done in close coo)eration with the #ussians and e ery!ody else. 6e don4t thin( any!ody has the Aum) on us, !ut on the other hand e ery!ody has the )rimer now. $ don4t thin( there4s any unilateral course of action for us.9 9$ don4t want a unilateral course of action for us. $ Aust want to ma(e sure that no!ody else has a unilateral course of action. O(ay, so !ac( to your )rimer. .ou (now how to say true-false, if-then, and s)ace is cur ed. %ow do you !uild a Machine with that59 9.ou (now, $ don4t thin( this cold or whate er you4 e got has slowed you down a !it. 6ell, it Aust ta(es off from there. For exam)le, they draw us a )eriodic ta!le of the elements, so they get to name all the chemical elements, the idea of aa atom, the idea of a nucleus, )rotons, neutrons, electrons. Then they run through some Buantum mechanics Aust to ma(e sure we4re )aying attention--there are already some new insights for us in the remedial stuff. Then it starts concentrating on the )articular materials needed for the construction. For exam)le, for some reason we need two tons of er!ium, so they run through a nifty techniBue to extract it from ordinary roc(s.9 >er %eer raised his hand )alm outward in a )lacatory gesture. 9>on4t as( why we need two tons of er!ium. No!ody has the faintest idea.9

9$ wasn4t going to as( that. $ want to (now how they told you how much a ton is.9 9They counted it out for us in "lanc( masses. A "lanc( mass is--9 9Ne er mind, ne er mind. $t4s something that )hysicists all o er the uni erse (now a!out, right5 And $4 e ne er heard of it. Now, the !ottom line. >o we understand the )rimer well enough to start reading the Message5 6ill we !e a!ile to !uild the thing or not59 9The answer seems to !e yes. 6e4 e only had the )rimer for a few wee(s now, !ut whole cha)ters of the Message are falling into our la) in clear. $ts )ainsta(ing design, redundant ex)lanations, and as far as we can tell, tremendous re- dundancy in the Machine design. 6e should ha e a threedimensional model of the Machine for you in time for that crew-selection meeting on Thursday, if you feel u) to it. So far, we ha en4t a clue as to what the Machine does, or how it wor(s. And there are some funny organic chemical com)onents that don4t ma(e any sense as )art of a machine. 7ut almost e ery!ody seems to thin( we can !uild the thing.9 96ho doesn4t59 96ell, 3unachars(y and the #ussians. And 7illy @o #an(in, of course. There are still )eo)le who worry that the Machine will !low u) the-world or ti) the &arth4s axis, or something. 7ut what4s im)ressed most of the scientists is how careful the instructions are, and how many different ways they go a!out trying to ex)lain the same thing.9 9And what does &leanor Arroway say59 9She says if they want to do us in, they4ll !e here in twenty-fi e years or so and there4s nothing we could do in twenty-fi e years to )rotect oursel es. They4re too far ahead of us. So she says. 7uild it, and if you4re worried a!out en ironmental ha:ards, !uild it in a remote )lace. "rofessor >rumlin says you can !uild it in downtown "asadena for all he cares. $n fact, he says he4ll !e there e ery minute it ta(es to construct the Machine, so he4ll !e the first to go if it !lows u).9 9>rumlin, he4s the fellow who figured out that this was the design for a

Machine, right59 9Not exactly, he-9 9$4ll read all the !riefing material in time for that Thursday meeting. .ou got anything else for me59 9Are you seriously considering letting %adden !uild the Machine59 96ell, it4s not only u) to me, as you (now. That treaty they4re hammering out in "aris gi es us a!out a oneBuarter say. The #ussians ha e a Buarter, the Chinese and the @a)anese together ha e a Buarter, and the rest of the world has a Buarter, roughly s)ea(ing. A lot of nations want to !uild the Machine, or at least )arts of it. They4re thin(ing a!out )restige, and new industries, new (nowl- edge. As long as no one gets a Aum) on us, that all sounds fine to me. $t4s )ossi!le %adden might ha e a )iece of it. 6hat4s the )ro!lem5 >on4t you thin( he4s technically com)etent59 9%e certainly is. $t4s Aust--9 9$f there4s nothing more, 8en, $4ll see you Thursday, irus willing.9 As der %eer was shutting the door and entering the adAacent sitting room, there was an ex)losi e )residential snee:e. The 6arrant Officer of the >ay, sitting stiffly on a couch, was isi!ly startled. The !riefcase at his feet was crammed with authori:ation codes for nuclear war. >er %eer calmed him with a re)etiti e gesture of his hand, fingers s)read, )alm down. The officer ga e an a)ologetic smile. 9That4s *ega5 That4s what all the fuss is a!out59 the "resident as(ed with some disa))ointment. The )hoto o))ortunity for the )ress was now o er, and her eyes had !ecome almost dar(ada)ted after the onslaught of flash!ul!s and tele ision lighting. The )ictures of the "resident ga:ing steely-eyed through the Na al O!ser atory telesco)e that a))eared in all the )a)ers the next day were, of course, a minor sham. She had !een una!le to see anything at all through the telesco)e until the )hotogra)hers had left and dar(ness returned. 96hy does it wiggle59 9$t4s tur!ulence in the air, Ms. "resident,9 der %eer ex)lained. 96arm !u!!les of air go !y and distort the image.9

93i(e loo(ing at Si across the !rea(fast ta!le when there4s a toaster !etween us. $ can remem!er seeing one whole side of his face fall off,9 she said affectionately, raising her oice so the )residential consort, standing near!y tal(ing to the uniformed Commandant of the O!ser atory, could o erhear. 9.eah, no toaster on the !rea(fast ta!le these days,9 he re)lied amia!ly. Seymour 3as(er was !efore his retirement a high official of the $nternational 3adies 'arment 6or(ers Knion. %e had met his wife decades !efore when she was re)resenting the New .or( 'irl Coat Com)any, and they had fallen in lo e o er a )rotracted la!or settlement. Considering the )resent no elty of !oth their )ositions, the a))arent health of their relationshi) was noteworthy. 9$ can do without the toaster, !ut $4m not getting enough !rea(fasts with Si.9 She inflected her eye!rows in his general direction, and then returned to the monocular eye)iece. 9$t loo(s li(e a !lue amoe!a, all . . . sBuishy.9 After the difficult crew-selection meeting, the "resident was in a lighthearted frame of mind. %er cold was almost gone. 96hat if there was no tur!ulence, 8en5 6hat would $ see then59 9Then it would !e Aust li(e S)ace Telesco)e a!o e the &arth4s atmos)here. .ou4d see a steady, unflic(ering )oint of light.9 9@ust the star5 @ust *ega5 No )lanets, no rings, no laser !attle stations59 9No, Ms. "resident. All that would !e much too small and faint to see e en with a ery !ig telesco)e.9 96ell, $ ho)e your scientists (now what they4re doing,9 she said in a near whis)er. 96e4re ma(ing an awful lot of commitments on something we4 e ne er seen.9 >er %eer was a little ta(en a!ac(. 97ut we4 e seen thirty-one thousand )ages of text--)ictures, words, )lus a huge )rimer.9 9$n my !oo(, that4s not the same as seeing it. $t4s a little too. . . inferential. >on4t tell me a!out scientists all o er the world getting the same data. $ (now all that. And don4t tell me a!out how clear and

unam!iguous the !lue)rints for the Machine are. $ (now that too. And if we !ac( out, someone else is sure to !uild the Machine. $ (now all those things. 7ut $4m still ner ous.9 The )arty am!led !ac( through the Na al O!ser atory com)ound to the *ice "resident4s residence. Tentati e agreements on crew selection had !een )ainsta(ingly wor(ed out in "aris in the last wee(s. The Knited States and the So iet Knion had argued for two crew )ositions eachC on such matters they were relia!le allies. 7ut it was hard to sustain this argument with the other nations in the 6orld Message Consortium. These days it was much more difficult for the Knited States and the So iet Knion--e en on issues on which they agreed--to wor( their way with the other nations of the world than had once !een the case. The enter)rise was now widely touted as an acti ity of the human s)ecies. The name 96orld Message Consortium9 was a!out to !e changed to 96orld Machine Consortium.9 Nations with )ieces of the Message tried to use this fact as an entree for one of their nationals as a mem!er of the crew. The Chinese had Buietly argued that !y the middle of the next century there would !e one and a half !illion of them in the world, !ut with many !orn as only children !ecause of the Chinese ex)eriment on statesu))orted !irth control. Those children, once grown, would !e !righter, they )redicted, and more emotionally secure than children of other nations with less stringent rules on family si:e. Since the Chinese would thus !e )laying a more )rominent role in world affairs in another fifty years, they argued, they deser ed at least one of the fi e seats on the Machine. $t was an argument now !eing discussed in many nations !y officials with no res)onsi!ility for the Message or the Machine. &uro)e and @a)an surrendered crew re)resentation in exchange for maAor res)onsi!ility for the construction of Machine com)onents, which they !elie ed would !e of maAor economic !enefit. $n the end, a seat was reser ed for the Knited States, the So iet Knion, China, and $ndia, with the fifth seat undecided. This re)resented a long and difficult multilateral negotiation, with )o)ulation si:e, economic, industrial, and military )ower, )resent )olitical alignments, and e en a little of the history of the human s)ecies as considerations.

For the fifth seat, 7ra:il and $ndonesia made re)resentations !ased on )o)ulation si:e and geogra)hical !alanceC Sweden )ro)osed a moderating role in case of )olitical dis- )utesC &gy)t, $raB, "alostan and Saudi Ara!ia argued on grounds of religious eBuity. Others suggested that at least this fifth seat should !e decided on grounds of indi idual merit rather than national affiliation. For the moment, the decision was left in lim!o, a wild card for later. $n the four selected nations, scientists, national leaders, and others were going through the exercise of choosing their candidates. A (ind of national de!ate ensued in the Knited States. $n sur eys and o)inion )olls, religious leaders, s)orts heroes, astronauts, Congressional Medal of %onor winners, scientists, mo ie actors, a former )residential s)ouse, tele ision tal( show hosts and news anchors, mem!ers of Congress, millionaires with )olitical am!itions, foundation executi es, singers of country-and-western and roc(-androll music, uni ersity )residents, and the current Miss America were all endorsed with arying degrees of enthusiasm. 7y long tradition, e er since the *ice "resident4s residence was mo ed to the grounds of the Na al O!ser atory, the house ser ants had !een Fili)ino )etty officers on acti e duty in the K.S. Na y. 6earing smart !lue !la:ers with a )atch em!roidered 9*ice "resident of the Knited States,9 they were now-ser ing coffee. Most of the )artici)ants in the all-day crew-selection meeting had not !een in ited to this informal e ening session. $t had !een Seymour 3as(er4s singular fate to !e America4s first First 'entleman. %e !ore his !urden--the editorial cartoons, the smarmy Ao(es, the witticism that he had gone where no man had gone !efore--with such di-rectness and good nature that at last America was a!le to forgi e him for marrying a woman with the ner e to imagine that she could lead half the world. 3as(er had the *ice "resident4s wife and teenaged son laughing u)roariously as the "resident guided der %eer into an adAacent li!rary annex. 9All right,9 she !egan. ?There4s no official decision to !e made today and no )u!lic announcement of our deli!erations. 7ut let4s see if we can sum u). 6e don4t (now what the goddamn Machine will do, !ut it4s a

reasona!le guess that it goes to *ega. No!ody has the slightest idea of how it would wor( or e en how long it would ta(e. Tell me again, how far away is *ega59 ?Twenty-six light-years, Ms. "resident.9 9And so if this Machine were a (ind of s)aceshi) and could tra el as fast as light--+ (now it can4t tra el as fast as light, only close to it, don4t interru)t--then it would ta(e twenty-six years for it to get there, !ut only as we measure time here on &arth. $s that right, der %eer59 &xactly. "lus may!e a year to get u) to light s)eed and a year to decelerate into the *ega system. 7ut from the stand)oint of the crew mem!ers, it would ta(e a lot less. May!e only a cou)le of years, de)ending on how close to light s)eed they tra el.9 9For a !iologist, der %eer, you4 e !een learning a lot of astronomy.9 ?Than( you, Ms. "resident. $4 e tried to immerse myself in the su!Aect.9 She stared at him for Aust a moment and then went on. 9So as long as the Machine goes ery close to the s)eed of light, it might not matter much how old the crew mem!ers are. 7ut if it ta(es ten or twenty years or more--and you say that4s )ossi!le--then we ought to ha e some!ody young. Now, the #ussians aren4t !uying this argument. 6e understand it4s !etween Ar(hangels(y and 3unachars(y, !oth in their sixties.9 She had read the names somewhat haltingly off a file card in front of her. 9The Chinese are almost certainly sending Ni. %e4s also in his sixties. So if $ thought they (new what they4re doing, $4d !e tem)ted to say, ?6hat the hell, let4s send a sixty-yearold man.4 9 >rumlin, der %eer (new, was exactly sixty years old. 9On the other hand . . .9 he counter)osed. 9$ (now, $ (now. The $ndian doctorC she4s in her forties. . . . $n a way, this is the stu)idest thing $ e er heard of. 6e4re )ic(ing some!ody to enter the Olym)ics, and we don4t (now what the e ents are. $ don4t (now why we4re tal(ing a!out sending scientists. Mahatma 'andhi, that4s who we should send. Or, while we4re at it, @esus Christ. >on4t tell me they4re not a aila!le, der %eer. $ (now that.9 96hen you don4t (now what the e ents are, you send a decathlon cham)ion.9

9And then you disco er the e ent is chess, or oratory, or scul)ture, and your athlete finishes last. O(ay, you say that it ought to !e someone who4s thought a!out extraterrestrial life and who4s !een intimately in ol ed with the recei)t and decry)ting of the Message.9 9At least a )erson li(e that will !e intimately in ol ed with how the *egans thin(. Or at least how they ex)ect us to thin(.9 9And for really to)-rate )eo)le, you say that reduces the field to three.9 Again she consulted her notes. 9Arroway, >rumlin, and . . . the one who thin(s he4s a #oman general.9 9>r. *alerian, Ms. "resident. $ don4t (now that he thin(s he4s a #oman generalC it4s Aust his name.9 9*alerian wouldn4t e en answer the Selection Committee4s Buestionnaire. %e wouldn4t consider it !ecause he won4t lea e his wife5 $s that right5 $4m not critici:ing him. %e4s no do)e. %e (nows how to ma(e a relationshi) wor(. $t4s not that his wife is sic( or anything59 9No, as far as $ (now, she4s in excellent health.9 9'ood. 'ood for them. Send her a )ersonal note from me--something a!out how she must !e some woman for an astronomer to gi e u) the uni erse for her. 7ut fancy u) the language, der %eer. .ou (now what $ want. And throw in some Buotation. "oetry, may!e. 7ut not too gushy.9 She wa ed her index finger at him. 9Those *alerians can teach us all something. 6hy don4t we in ite them to a state dinner5 The 8ing of Ne)al4s here in two wee(s. That4ll !e a!out right.9 >er %eer was scri!!ling furiously. %e would ha e to call the 6hite %ouse A))ointments Secretary at home as soon as this meeting was o er, and he had a still more urgent call. %e had not !een a!le to get to the tele)hone for hours. 9So that lea es Arroway and >rumlin. She4s something li(e twenty years younger, !ut he4s in terrific )hysical sha)e. %e hang-glides, s(ydi es, scu!a di es . . . he4s a !rilliant scientist, he hel)ed in a !ig way to crac( the Message, and he4ll ha e a fine time arguing with all the other old men. %e didn4t wor( on nuclear wea)ons, did he5 $ don4t want to send any!ody who wor(ed on nuclear wea)ons. 9Now, Arroway4s also a !rilliant scientist. She4s led this whole Argus "roAect, she (nows all the ins and

outs of the Message, and she has an inBuiring mind. & ery!ody says that her interests are ery !road. And she4d con ey a younger American image.9 She )aused. 9And you li(e her, 8en. Nothing wrong with that. $ li(e her too. 7ut sometimes she4s a loose cannon. >id you listen carefully to her Buestionnaire59 9$ thin( $ (now the )assage you4re tal(ing a!out, Ms. "resident. 7ut the Selection Committee had !een as(ing her Buestions for almost eight hours and sometimes she gets annoyed at what she considers dum! Buestions. >rumlin4s the same way. May!e she learned it from him. She was his student for a while, you (now.9 9.eah, he said some dum! things, too. %ere, it4s su))osed to !e all cued u) for us on this *C#. First Arroway4s Buestionnaire, then >rumlin4s. @ust )ress the ?)lay4 !utton, 8en.9 On the tele ision screen, &llie was !eing inter iewed in her office at the Argus "roAect. %e could e en ma(e out the yellowing )iece of )a)er with the Buote from 8af(a. "erha)s, all things considered, &llie would ha e !een ha))ier had she recei ed only silence from the stars. There were lines around her mouth and !ags under her eyes. There were also two unfamiliar ertical creases on her forehead Aust a!o e her nose. &llie on ideota)e loo(ed terri!ly tired, and der %eer felt a )ang of guilt. 96hat do $ thin( of ?the world )o)ulation crisis459 &llie was saying. 9.ou mean am $ for it or against it5 .ou thin( this is a (ey Buestion $4m going to !e as(ed on *ega, and you want to ma(e sure $ gi e the right answer5 O(ay. O er)o)ulation is why $4m in fa or of homosexuality and a celi!ate clergy. A celi!ate clergy is an es)ecially good idea, !ecause it tends to su))ress any hereditary )ro)ensity toward fanaticism.9 &llie waited, dead)an, indeed fro:en, for the next Buestion. The "resident had )ushed the 9)ause9 !utton. 9Now, $ admit that some of the Buestions may not ha e !een the !est,9 the "resident continued. 97ut we didn4t want any!ody in such a )rominent )osition, on a )roAect with really )ositi e international im)lications, who turns out to !e some racist !o:o. 6e want the de elo)ing world on our side in this one. 6e had a good reason to as( a Buestion li(e that. >on4t you find her answer shows some . . .

lac( of tact5 She4s a !it of a wiseass, your >r. Arroway. Now ta(e a loo( at >rumlin.9 6earing a !lue )ol(a-dot !ow tie, >rumlin was loo(ing tanned and ery fit., $ (now we all ha e emotions,9 he was saying, 9!ut let4s !ear in mind exactly what emotions are. They4re moti ations for ada)ti e !eha ior from a time when we were too stu)id to figure things out. 7ut $ can figure out that if a )ac( of hyenas are headed toward me with their fangs !ared there4s trou!le ahead. $ don4t need a few cc4s of adrenaline to hel) me understand the situation. $ can e en figure out that it might !e im)ortant for me to ma(e some genetic contri!ution to the next generation. $ don4t really need testosterone in my !loodstream to hel) me along. Are you sure that an extraterrestrial !eing far in ad ance of us is going to !e saddled with emotions5 $ (now there are )eo)le who thin( $4m too cold, too reser ed. 7ut if you really want to understand the extraterrestrials, you4ll send me. $4m more li(e them than anyone else you4ll find.9 9Some choiceP9 the "resident said. ?The one4s an atheist, and the other thin(s he4s from *ega already. 6hy do we ha e to send scientists5 6hy can4t we send some!ody . . . normal5 @ust a rhetorical Buestion,9 she Buic(ly added. 9$ (now why we ha e to send scientists. The Message is a!out science and it4s written in scientific language. Science is what we (now we share with the !eings on *ega. No, those are good reasons, 8en. $ remem!er them.9 9She4s not an atheist. She4s an agnostic. %er mind is o)en. She4s not tra))ed !y dogma. She4s intelligent, she4s tough, and she4s ery )rofessional. The range of her (nowledge is !road. She4s Aust the )erson we need in this situation.9 98en, $4m )leased !y your commitment to u)hold the integrity of this )roAect. 7ut there4s a great deal of fear out there. >on4t thin( $ don4t (now how much the men out there ha e had to swallow already. More than half the )eo)le $ tal( to !elie e we4 e got no !usiness !uilding this thing. $f there4s no turning !ac(, they want to send some!ody a!solutely safe. Arroway may !e all the things you say she is, !ut safe she isn4t. $4m catching a lot of heat from the %ill, from the &arth-Firsters, from my own National Committee, from the churches. $ guess she im)ressed "almer @oss in that California meeting, !ut she

managed to infuriate 7illy @o #an(in. %e called me u) yesterday and said ?Ms. "resident4--he can4t disguise his distaste at saying ?Ms.4-4Ms. "resident,4 he says, ?that Machine4s gonna fly straight to 'od or the >e il. 6hiche er one it is, you !etter send an honest-to-'od Christian.4 %e tried to use his relationshi) with "almer @oss to muscle me, for 'od4s sa(e. $ don4t thin( there4s any dou!t he was angling to go himself. >rumlin4s going to !e much more acce)ta!le to some!ody li(e #an(in than Arroway is. 9$ recogni:e >rumlin4s something of a cold fish. 7ut he4s relia!le, )atriotic, sound. %e has im)ecca!le scientific credentials. And he wants to go. No, it has to !e >rumlin. The !est $ can offer is to ha e her as !ac(u).9 9Can $ tell her that59 96e can4t ha e Arroway (nowing !efore >rumlin, can we5 $4ll let you (now the moment a final decision is made and we4 e informed >rumlin. . . . Oh, cheer u), 8en. >on4t you want her to stay here on &arth59 $t was after six when &llie finished her !riefing of the State >e)artment4s ?Tiger Team9 that was !ac(sto))ing the American negotiators in "aris. >er %eer had )romised to call her as soon as the crewselection meeting was done. %e wanted her to hear from him whether she had !een selected, not from any!ody else. She had !een insufficiently deferential to the examiners, she (new, and might lose out for that reason among a do:en others. Ne ertheless, she guessed, there might still !e a chance. There was a message waiting for her at the hotel--not a )in( 9while you were out9 form filled in !y the hotel o)erator, !ut a sealed unstam)ed hand-deli ered letter. $t read< 9Meet me at the National Science and Technology Museum, 1<HH )m tonight. "almer @oss.9 No hello, no ex)lanations, no agenda, and no yours truly, she thought. This really is a man of faith. The stationery was her hotel4s, and there was no return address. %e must ha e sauntered in this afternoon, (nowing from the Secretary of State himself, for all she (new, that &llie was in town, and ex)ecting her to !e in. $t had !een a tiresome day, and she was annoyed at ha ing to s)end any time away from )iecing together the Message. Although a )art of her was reluctant to go, she showered,

changed, !ought a !ag of cashews, and was in a taxi in forty-fi e minutes. $t was a!out an hour !efore closing, and the museum was almost em)ty. %uge dar( machinery was stuffed into e ery corner of a ast entrance hall. %ere was the )ride of the nineteenthcentury shoema(ing, textile, and coal industries. A steam callio)e from the +1;G &x)osition was )laying a Aaunty )iece, originally written for !rass, she Audged, for a tourist grou) from 6est Africa. @oss was nowhere to !e seen. She su))ressed the im)ulse to turn on her heel and lea e. $f you had to meet "almer @oss in this museum, she thought, and the only thing you had e er tal(ed to him a!out was religion and the Message, where would you meet him5 $t was a little li(e the freBuency selection )ro!lem in S&T$< .ou ha en4t yet recei ed a message from an ad anced ci ili:ation and you ha e to decide on which freBuencies these !eings--a!out whom you (now irtually nothing, not e en their existence--ha e decided to trans- mit. $t must in ol e some (nowledge that !oth you and they share. .ou and they certainly !oth (now what the most a!undant (ind of atom in the uni erse is, and the single radio freBuency at which it characteristically a!sor!s and emits. That was the logic !y which the +FDH megahert: line of neutral atomic hydrogen had !een included in all the early S&T$ searches. 6hat would the eBui alent !e here5 Alexander 'raham 7ell4s tele)hone5 The telegra)h5 Marconi4s-- Of course. 9>oes this museum ha e a Foucault )endulum59 she as(ed the guard. The sound of her heels echoed on the mar!le floors as she a))roached the rotunda. @oss was leaning o er the railing, )eering at a mosaic tile re)resentation of the cardinal directions. There were small ertical hour mar(s, some u)right, others e idently (noc(ed down !y the !o! earlier in the day. Around ; "M. SOmeone had sto))ed its swing, and it now hung motionless. They were entirely alone. %e had heard her a))roach for a minute at least and had said nothing. 9.ou4 e decided that )rayer can sto) a )endulum59 She smiled. ?That would !e an a!use of faith,9 he re)lied. 9$ don4t see why. .ou4d ma(e an awful lot of con erts. $t4s easy enough for 'od to do, and if $ remem!er correctly, you tal( to %im regularly. . . . That4s not it, huh5 .ou really want to test my faith in the )hysics of harmonic oscillators5 O(ay.9

A )art of her was ama:ed that @oss would )ut her through this test, !ut she was determined to )ass muster. She let her hand!ag slide off her shoulder and remo ed her shoes. %e gracefully hurdled the !rass guardrail and hel)ed her o er. They half wal(ed and half slid down the tiled slo)e until they were standing alongside the !o!. $t had a dull !lac( finish, and she wondered whether it was made of steel or lead. 9.ou4ll ha e to gi e me a hand,9 she said. She could easily )ut her arms around the !o!, and together they wrestled it until it was inclined at a good angle from the ertical and flush against her face. @oss was watching her closely. %e didn4t as( her whether she was sure, he neglected to warn her a!out falling forward, he offered no cautions a!out gi ing the !o! a hori:ontal com)onent of elocity as she let go. 7ehind her was a good meter or meter and a half of le el floor, !efore it started slo)ing u)ward to !ecome a circumferential wall. $f she (e)t her wits a!out her, she said to herself, this was a lead-)i)e cinch. She let go. The !o! fell away from her. The )eriod of a sim)le )endulum, she thought a little giddily, is D 5, sBuare root 3 o er g, where 3 is the length of the )endulum and g is the acceleration due to gra ity. 7ecause of friction in the !earing, the )endulum can ne er swing !ac( farther than its original )osition. All $ ha e to do is not sway forward, she reminded herself. Near the o))osite railing, the !o! slowed and came to a dead sto). #e ersing its traAectory, it was suddenly mo ing much faster than she had ex)ected. As it careened toward her, it seemed to grow alarmingly in si:e. $t was enormous and almost u)on her. She gas)ed. 9$ flinched,9 &llie said in disa))ointment as the !o! fell away from her. 9Only the littlest !it.9 9No, $ flinched.9 9.ou !elie e. .ou !elie e in science. There4s only a tiny smidgen of dou!t.9 9No, that4s not it. That was a million years of !rains fighting a !illion years of instinct. That4s why your Ao! is so much easier than mine.9 9$n this matter, our Ao!s are the same. My turn,9 he said, and Aarringly gra!!ed the !o! at the highest )oint in its traAectory.

97ut we4re not testing your !elief in the conser ation of energy.9 %e smiled and tried to dig in his feet. 96hat you doin4 down there59 a oice as(ed. 9Are you fol(s cra:y59 A museum guard, dutifully chec(ing that all isitors would lea e !y closing time, had come u)on this unli(ely )ros)ect of a man, a woman, a )it and a )endulum in an otherwise deserted recess of the ca ernous !uilding. 9Oh, it4s all right, officer,9 @oss said cheerfully. 96e4re Aust testing our faith.9 9.ou can4t do that in the Smithsonian $nstitution,9 the guard re)lied. ?This is a museum.9 3aughing, @oss and &llie wrestled the !o! to a nearly stationary )osition and clam!ered u) the slo)ing tile walls. 9$t must !e )ermitted !y the First Amendment,9 she said. 9Or the First Commandment,9 he re)lied. She sli))ed on her shoes, shouldered her !ag, and, head held high, accom)anied @oss and the guard out of the rotunda. 6ithout identifying themsel es and without !eing recogni:ed, they managed to tal( him out of arresting them. 7ut they were escorted out of the museum !y a tight )halanx of uniformed )ersonnel, who were concerned )erha)s that &llie and @oss might next sidle a!oard the steam callio)e in )ursuit of an elusi e 'od. The street was deserted. They wal(ed wordlessly along the Mall. The night was clear, and &llie made out 3yra against the hori:on. 9The !right one o er there. That4s *ega,9 she said. %e stared at it for a long time. 9That decoding was a !rilliant achie ement,9 he said at last. 9Oh, nonsense. $t was tri ial. $t was the easiest message an ad anced ci ili:ation could thin( of. $t would ha e !een a genuine disgrace if we hadn4t !een a!le to figure it out.9 9.ou don4t ta(e com)liments well, $4 e noticed. No, this is one of those disco eries that change the future. Our ex)ectations of the future, anyway. $t4s li(e fire, or writing, or agriculture. Or the Annunciation.9

%e stared again at *ega. 9$f you could ha e a seat in that Machine, if you could ride it !ac( to its Sender, what do you thin( you would see59 9& olution is a stochastic )rocess. There are Aust too many )ossi!ilities to ma(e reasona!le )redictions a!out what life elsewhere might !e li(e. $f you had seen the &arth !efore the origin of life, would you ha e )redicted a (atydid or a giraffe59 9$ (now the answer to that Buestion. $ guess you imagine that we Aust ma(e this stuff u), that we read it in some !oo(, or )ic( it u) in some )rayer tent. 7ut that4s not how it is. $ ha e certain, )ositi e (nowledge from my own direct ex)erience. $ can4t )ut it any )lainer than that. $ ha e seen 'od face to face.9 A!out the de)th of his commitment there seemed no dou!t. 9Tell me a!out it.9 So he did. 9O(ay,9 she said finally, 9you were clinically dead, then you re i ed, and you remem!er rising through the dar(ness into a !right light. .ou saw a radiance with a human form that you too( to !e 'od. 7ut there was nothing in the ex)erience that told you the radiance made the uni erse or laid down moral law. The ex)erience is an ex)erience. .ou were dee)ly mo ed !y it, no Buestion. 7ut there are other )ossi!le ex)lanations.9 9Such as59 96ell, li(e !irth. 7irth is rising through a long, dar( tunnel into a!rilliant light. >on4t forget how !rilliant it is--the !a!y has s)ent nine months in the dar(. 7irth is its first encounter with light. Thin( of how ama:ed and awed you4d !e in your first contact with color, or light and shade, or the human face--which you4re )ro!a!ly )re)rogrammed to recogni:e. May!e, if you almost die, the odometer gets set !ac( to :ero for a moment. Knderstand, $ don4t insist on this ex)lanation. $t4s Aust one of many )ossi!ilities. $4m suggesting you may ha e misinter)reted the ex)erience.9 9.ou ha en4t seen what $4 e seen.9 %e loo(ed u) once more at the cold flic(ering !lue-white light from *ega, and then turned to her. 9>on4t you e er feel . . . lost in your uni erse5 %ow do you (now what to do, how to !eha e, if there4s no 'od5 @ust o!ey the law or get arrested59 9.ou4re not worried a!out !eing lost, "almer. .ou4re worried a!out not !eing

central, not the reason the uni erse was created. There4s )lenty of order in my uni erse. 'ra itation, electromagnetism, Buantum mechanics, su)erunification, they all in ol e laws. And as for !eha ior, why can4t we figure out what4s in our !est interest--as a s)ecies59 9That4s a warmhearted and no!le iew of the world, $4m sure, and $4d !e the last to deny that there4s goodness in the human heart. 7ut how much cruelty has !een done when there was no lo e of 'od59 9And how much cruelty when there was5 Sa onarola and TorBuemada lo ed 'od, or so they said. .our religion assumes that )eo)le are children and need a !oogeyman so they4ll !eha e. .ou want )eo)le to !elie e in 'od so they4ll o!ey the law. That4s the only means that occurs to you< a strict secular )olice force, and the threat of )unishment !y an all-seeing 'od for whate er the )olice o erloo(. .ou sell human !eings short. 9"almer, you thin( if $ ha en4t had your religious ex)erience $ can4t a))reciate the magnificence of your god. 7ut it4s Aust the o))osite. $ listen to you, and $ thin(. %is god is too smallP One )altry )lanet, a few thousand years--hardly worth the attention of a minor deity, much less the Creator of the uni erse.9 9.ou4re confusing me with some other )reacher. That museum was 7rother #an(in4s territory. $4m )re)ared for a uni erse !illions of years old. $ Aust say the scientists ha en4t )ro ed it.9 9And $ say you ha en4t understood the e idence. %ow can it !enefit the )eo)le if the con entional wisdom, the religious ?truths,4 are a lie5 6hen you really !elie e that )eo)le can !e adults, you4ll )reach a different sermon.9 There was a !rief silence, )unctuated only !y the echoes of their footfalls. 9$4m sorry if $4 e !een a little too strident,9 she said. 9$t ha))ens to me from time to time.9 9$ gi e you my word. >r. Arroway, $4ll carefully )onder what you4 e said this e ening. .ou4 e raised some Buestions $ should ha e answers for. 7ut in the same s)irit, let me as( you a few Buestions. O(ay59 She nodded, and he continued. ?Thin( of what consciousness feels li(e, what it

feels li(e this minute. >oes that feel li(e !illions of tiny atoms wiggling in )lace5 And !eyond the !iological machinery, where in science can a child learn what lo e is5 %ere4s--9 %er !ee)er !u::ed. $t was )ro!a!ly 8en with the news she had !een waiting for. $f so, it had !een a ery long meeting for him. May!e it was good news ne ertheless. She glanced at the letters and num!ers forming in the liBuid crystal< 8en4s office num!er. There were no )u!lic tele)hones in sight, !ut after a few minutes they were a!le to flag down a taxica!. 9$4m sorry $ ha e to lea e so suddenly,9 she a)ologi:ed. 9$ enAoyed our con ersation, and $4ll thin( seriously a!out your Buestions. . . . .ou wanted to )ose one more59 6hat is there in the )rece)ts of science that (ee)s a scientist from doing e il59 C%A"T&# +, &r!ium >owel The earth, that is sufficient, $ do not want the constellations any nearer, $ (now they are ery well where they are, $ (now they suffice for those who !elong to them. -6A3T 6%$TMAN 3ea es of 'rass 9Song of the O)en #oad9 /+1,,2 $T TOO8 .ears, it was a technological dream and a di)lomatic nightmare, !ut finally they got around to !uilding the Machine. *arious neologisms were )ro)osed, and )roAect names e ocati e of ancient myths. 7ut from the !eginning e eryone had called it sim)ly the Machine, and that !ecame its official designation. The continuing com)lex and delicate international negotiations were descri!ed !y 6estern editorial writers as 9Machine "olitics.9 6hen the first relia!le estimate of the total cost was generated, e en the titans of the aeros)ace industry gas)ed. & entually, it came to half a trillion dollars a year for some years, roughly a third of the total military !udget--nuclear and con entional--of the )lanet. There were fears that !uilding the Machine would ruin the world economy. 9&conomic 6arfare from *ega59 as(ed the 3ondon &conomist. The daily headlines in The New .or( Times were, !y any dis)assionate measure, more !i:arre than any in the now defunct National &nBuirer a decade earlier.

The record will show that no )sychic, seer, )ro)het, or soothsayer, no )erson with claimed )recogniti e a!ilities, no astrologer, no numerologist, and no late->ecem!er co)ywriter on 9The .ear Ahead9 had )redicted the Message or the Machine--much less *ega, )rime num!ers, Adolf %itler, the Olym)ics, and the rest. There were many claims, howe er, !y those who had clearly foreseen the e ents !ut had carelessly neglected to write the )recognition down. "redictions of sur)rising e ents always )ro e more accurate if not set down on )a)er !eforehand. $t is one of those odd regularities of e eryday life. Many religions were in a slightly different category< A careful and imaginati e )erusal of their sacred writings will re eal, it was argued, a clear foretelling of these wondrous ha))enings. For others, the Machine re)resented a )otential !onan:a for the world aeros)ace industry, which had !een in worrisome decline since the %iroshima Accords too( full force. *ery few new strategic wea)ons systems were under de elo)ment. %a!itats in s)ace were a growing !usiness, !ut they hardly com)ensated for the loss of or!iting laser !attle stations and other accoutrements of the strategic defense en isioned !y an earlier administration. Thus, some of those who worried a!out the safety of the )lanet if the Machine were to !e !uilt swallowed their scru)les when contem)lating the im)lications for Ao!s, )rofits, and career ad ancement. A well-)laced few argued that there was no richer )ros)ect for the hightechnology industries than a threat from s)ace. There would ha e to !e defenses, immensely )owerful sur eillance radars, e entual out)osts on "luto or in the Oort Comet Cloud. No amount of discourse a!out military dis)arities !etween terrestrials and extraterrestrials could daunt these isionaries. 9& en if we can4t defend oursel es against them,9 they as(ed, 9don4t you want us to see them coming59 There was )rofit here and they could smell it. They were !uilding the Machine, of course, trillions of dollars4 worth of MachineC !ut the Machine was only the !eginning, if they )layed their cards right. An unli(ely )olitical alliance coalesced !ehind the reelection of "resident 3as(er, which !ecame in effect a national referendum on whether to !uild the Machine. %er o))onent warned of TroAan %orses and >oomsday Machines and the )ros)ect of demorali:ation of American ingenuity in

the face of aliens who had already 9in ented e erything.9 The "resident )ronounced herself confident that American technology would rise to the challenge and im)lied, although she did not actually say, that American ingenuity would e entually eBual anything they had on *ega. She was re-elected !y a res)ecta!le !ut !y no means o erwhelming margin. The instructions themsel es were a decisi e factor. 7oth in the )rimer on language and !asic technology and in the Message on the construction of the Machine nothing was left unclear. Sometimes intermediate ste)s that seemed entirely o! ious were s)elled out in tedious detail--as when, in the foundations of arithmetic, it is )ro ed that if two times three eBuals six, then three times two also eBuals six. At e ery stage of construction there were chec()oints< The er!ium )roduced !y this )rocess should !e 0G )ercent )ure, with no more than a fraction of a )ercent im)urity from the other rare earths. 6hen Com)onent -+ is com)leted and )laced in a G molar solution of hydrofluoric acid, the remaining structural elements should loo( li(e the diagram in the accom)anying figure. 6hen Com)onent FH1 is assem!led, a))lication of a two megagauss trans erse magnetic field should s)in the rotor u) to so many re olutions )er second !efore it returns itself to a motionless state. $f any of the tests failed, you went !ac( and redid the whole !usiness. After a while you got used to the tests, and you ex)ected to !e a!le to )ass them. $t was a(in to rote memori:ation. Many of the underlying com)onents, constructed !y s)ecial factories designed from scratch !y following the )rimer instructions, defied human understanding. $t was hard to see why they should wor(. 7ut they did. & en in such cases, )ractical a))lications of the new technologies could !e contem)lated. Occasionally )romising insights seemed to !e a aila!le for the s(imming--in metallurgy, for exam)le, or in organic semiconductors. $n some cases se eral alternati e technologies were su))lied to )roduce an eBui alent com)onentC the extraterrestrials could not !e sure, a))arently, which a))roach would !e easiest for the technology of the &arth. As the first factories were !uilt and the first )rototy)es )roduced, )essimism diminished a!out human a!ility to reconstruct an alien technology from a Message written in no (nown language. There was the heady

feeling of arri ing un)re)ared for a school test and finding that you can figure out the answers from your general education and your common sense. As in all com)etently designed examinations, ta(ing it was a learning ex)erience. All the first tests were )assed< The er!ium was of adeBuate )urityC the )ictured su)erstructure was left after the inorganic material was etched away !y hydrofluoric acidC the rotor s)un u) as ad ertised. The Message flattered the scientists and engi- neers, critics saidC they were !ecoming caught u) in the technology and losing sight of the dangers. For the construction of one com)onent, a )articularly intricate set of organic chemical reactions was s)ecified and the resulting )roduct was introduced into a swimming )ool-si:ed mixture of formaldehyde and aBueous ammonia. The mass grew, differentiated, s)eciali:ed, and then Aust sat there--exBuisitely more com)lex than anything li(e it humans (new how to !uild. $t had an intricately !ranched networ( of fine hollow tu!es, through which )erha)s some fluid was to circulate. $t was colloidal, )ul)y, dar( red. $t did not ma(e co)ies of itself, !ut it was sufficiently !iological to scare a great many )eo)le. They re)eated the )rocedure and )roduced something a))arently identical. %ow the end )roduct could !e significantly more com)licated than the instructions that went into !uilding it was a mystery. The organic mass sBuatted on its )latform and did, so far as anyone could tell, nothing. $t was to go inside the dodecahedron, Aust a!o e and !elow the crew area. $dentical machines were under construction in the Knited States and the So iet Knion. 7oth nations had chosen to !uild in fairly remote )laces, not so much to )rotect )o)ulation centers in case it was a >oomsday Machine as to control access !y curiosity see(ers, )rotesters, and the media. $n the Knited States the Machine was !uilt in 6yomingC in the So iet Knion, Aust !eyond the Caucasus, in the K:!e( S.S.#. New factories were esta!lished near the assem!ly sites. 6here com)onents could !e manufactured with something li(e existing industry, manufacturing was widely dis)ersed. An o)tical su!contractor in @ena, for exam)le, would ma(e and test com)onents to go to the American and So iet MachinesC and to @a)an, where e ery com)onent was systematically examined to understand how it wor(ed, so far as was )ossi!le. "rogress out of %o((aido had !een slow.

There was concern that a com)onent su!Aected to a test unauthori:ed in the Message might destroy some su!tle sym!iosis of the arious com)onents in a functioning Ma- chine. A maAor su!structure of the Machine was three exterior concentric s)herical shells, arranged with axes )er)endicular to each other, and designed to s)in at high elocities. The s)herical shells were to ha e )recise and intricate )atterns cut into them. 6ould a shell that had !een whirled a few times in an unauthori:ed test function im)ro)erly when assem!led into the Machine5 6ould an inex)erienced shell, !y contrast, wor( )erfectly5 %adden $ndustries was the American )rime contractor for Machine construction. Sol %adden had insisted on no unauthori:ed testing or e en mounting of com)onents intended for e entual assem!ly into the Machine. The instructions, he ordered, were to !e followed to the !it, there !eing no letters )er se in the Message. %e urged his em)loyees to thin( of themsel es as medie al necromancers, fastidiously following the words of a magic s)ell. >o not dare to mis)ronounce a sylla!le, he told them. This was, de)ending on which calendrical or eschato-logical doctrine you fancied, two years !efore the Millennium. So many )eo)le were 9retiring,9 in ha))y antici)ation of >oomsday or the Ad ent or !oth, that in some industries s(illed la!orers were in short su))ly. %adden4s willingness to restructure his wor( force to o)timi:e Machine construction, and to )ro ide incenti es for su!contractors, was seen to !e a maAor factor in the American success so far. 7ut %adden had also 9retired9--a sur)rise, considering the well-(nown iews of the in entor of "reachnix. 9The chiliasts made an atheist out of me,9 he was Buoted as saying. 8ey decisions were still in his hands, his su!ordinates said. 7ut communication with %adden was ia fast asynchronous telenetting< %is su!ordinates would lea e )rogress re)orts, authori:ation reBuests, and Buestions for him in a loc(ed !ox of a )o)ular scientific telenetting ser ice. %is answers would come !ac( in another loc(ed !ox. $t was a )eculiar arrangement, !ut it seemed to !e wor(ing. As the early, most difficult ste)s were cleared and the Machine actually was !eginning to ta(e sha)e, less and less was heard from S. #. %adden. The executi es of the 6orld Machine Consortium were concerned, !ut after what was descri!ed as a lengthy isit with Mr. %adden in an unre ealed location, they came away reassured. %is wherea!outs were

un(nown to e eryone else. The world strategic in entories fell !elow -,DHH nuclear wea)ons for the first time since the middle +0,Hs. Multilateral tal(s on the more difficult stages of disarmament, down to a minimum nuclear deterrent, were ma(ing )rogress. The fewer the wea)ons on one side, the more dangerous would !e the seBuestering of a small num!er of wea)ons !y the other. And with the num!er of deli ery systems-which were much easier to erify--also diminishing stee)ly, with new means of automatic monitoring of treaty com)liance !eing de)loyed, and with new agreements on on-site ins)ection, the )ros)ects for further reductions seemed good. The )rocess had generated a (ind of momentum of its own in the minds of !oth the ex)erts and the )u!lic. As occurs in the usual (ind of arms race, the two )owers were ying to (ee) u) with one another !ut this time in arms reductions. $n )ractical military terms they had not yet gi en u) ery muchC they still retained the ca)a!ility of destroying the )lanetary ci ili:ation. %owe er, in the o)timism generated for the future, in the ho)e engendered in the emerging generation, this !eginning had already accom)lished much. Aided )erha)s !y the imminent worldwide Millennial cele!rations2 !oth secular and canonical, the num!er of armed hostilities !etween nations )er year had diminished still further. ?The "eace of 'od,9 the Cardinal Arch!isho) of Mexico City had called it. $n 6yoming and K:!e(istan new industries had !een created and whole cities were rising from the ground. The cost was !orne dis)ro)ortionately !y the industriali:ed nations, of course, !ut the )ro rata cost for e eryone on &arth was something li(e one hundred dollars )er year. For a Buarter of the &arth4s )o)ulation, one hundred dollars was a significant fraction of annual income. The money s)ent on the Machine )roduced no goods or ser ices directly. 7ut in stimulating new technology, it was deemed a great !argain, e en if the Machine itself ne er wor(ed. There were many who felt that the )ace had !een too swift, that e ery ste) should !e understood !efore mo ing on to the next. $f the construction of the Machine too( generations, it was argued, so what5 S)reading the de elo)ment costs o er decades would lessen the economic !urden to the world economy of

!uilding the Machine. 7y many standards this was )rudent ad ice, !ut it was difficult to im)lement. %ow could you de elo) only one com)onent of the Machine5 All o er the world, scientists and engineers of arying disci)linary )ersuasions were straining to !e let loose on those as)ects of the Machine that o erla))ed their areas of ex)ertise. There were some who worried that were the Machine not !uilt Buic(ly, it would ne er !e !uilt. The American "resident and the So iet "remier had committed their nations to the construction of the Machine. This was not guaranteed for all )ossi!le successors. Also, for )erfectly understanda!le )ersonal reasons, those controlling the )roAect wished to see it com)leted while they were still in )ositions of res)onsi!ility. Some argued that there was an intrinsic urgency to a Message !roadcast on so many freBuencies so loudly and for so long. They were not as(ing us to !uild the Machine when we were ready. They were as(ing us to !uild it now. The )ace Buic(ened. All the early su!systems were !ased on elementary technologies descri!ed in the first )art of the )rimer. The )rescri!ed tests had !een )assed readily enough. As the later, more com)lex su!systems were tested, occasional failures were noted. This was a))arent in !oth nations, !ut was more freBuent in the So iet Knion. Since no one (new how the com)onents wor(ed, it was usually im)ossi!le to trace !ac(wards from failure mode to identification of the flawed ste) in the manufacturing )rocess. $n some cases the com)onents were made in )arallel !y two different manufacturers, with com)etition for s)eed and accuracy. $f there were two com)onents, !oth of which had )assed tests, there was a tendency for each nation to select the domestic )roduct. Thus, the Machines that were !eing assem!led in the two countries were not a!solutely identical. DGH Finally, in 6yoming, the day came to !egin systems integration, the assem!ling of the se)arate com)onents into a com)lete Machine. $t was li(ely to !e the easiest )art of the construction )rocess. Com)letion within a year or two seemed li(ely. Some thought that acti ating the Machine would end the world right on schedule. The ra!!its were much more astute in 6yoming. Or less. $t was hard to figure out. The headlights on the Thunder!ird had )ic(ed u) an occasional ra!!it near the road more than once. 7ut hundreds of them

organi:ed in ran(s--that custom, a))arently, had not yet s)read from New Mexico to 6yoming. The situation here was not much different from Argus, &llie found. There was a maAor scientific facility surrounded !y tens of thousands of sBuare (ilometers of lo ely, almost uninha!ited landsca)e. She wasn4t running the show, and she wasn4t one of the crew. 7ut she was here, wor(ing on one of the grandest enter)rises e er contem)lated. Surely, no matter what ha))ened after the Machine was acti ated, the Argus disco ery would !e Audged a turning )oint in human history. @ust at the moment when some additional unifying force is needed, this !olt comes from the !lue. From the !lac(, she corrected herself. From twenty-six light-years away, D-H trillion (ilometers. $t4s hard to thin( of your )rimary allegiance as Scottish or Slo enian or S:echuanese when you4re all !eing hailed indiscriminately !y a ci ili:ation millennia ahead of you. The ga) !etween the most technologically !ac(ward nation on the &arth and the industriali:ed nations was, certainly, much smaller than the ga) !etween the industriali:ed nations and the !eings on *ega. Suddenly, distinctions that had earlier seemed transfixing -racial, religious, national, ethnic, linguistic, economic, and cultural---!egan to seem a little less )ressing. 96e are all humans.9 This was a )hrase you heard often these days. $t was remar(a!le, in )re ious decades, how infreBuently sentiments of this sort had !een ex)ressed, es)ecially in the media. 6e share the same small )lanet, it was said, and-- ery nearly--the same glo!al ci ili:ation. $t was hard to imagine the extraterrestrials ta(ing seriously a )lea for )referential )arley from re)resentati es of one or another ideological faction. The existence of the Message--e en a)art from its enigmatic function--was !inding u) the world. .ou could see it ha))ening !efore your eyes. %er mother4s first Buestion when she heard that &llie had not !een selected was 9>id you cry59 .es, she had cried. $t was only natural. There was, of course, a )art of her that longed to !e a!oard. 7ut >rumlin was a first-rate choice, she had told her mother. No decision had !een made !y the So iets !etween 3unachars(y and Ar(hangels(yC !oth would 9train9 for the mission. $t was hard to see what training might !e a))ro)riate !eyond understanding the Machine as !est they, or anyone else, could. Some Americans charged that this was merely an attem)t !y the So iets to

acBuire two )rinci)al Machine s)o(esmen, !ut &llie thought this was means)irited. 7oth 3unachars(y and Ar(hangels(y were extremely ca)a!le. She wondered how the So iets would decide which to send. 3unachars(y was in the Knited States, !ut not here in 6yoming. %e was in 6ashington with a high-le el So iet delegation meeting with the Secretary of State and Michael 8it:, newly )romoted to >e)uty Secretary of >efense. Ar(hangels(y was !ac( in K:!e(istan. The new metro)olis growing u) in the 6yoming wilderness was called MachineC Machine, 6yoming. $ts So iet counter)art was gi en the #ussian eBui alent, Ma(hina. &ach was a com)lex of residences, utilities, residential and !usiness districts, and--most of all--factories. Some of them were un)retentious, at least on the outside. 7ut in others you could see in a single glance their !i:arre as)ects--domes and minarets, miles of intricate exterior )i)ing. Only the factories that were adAudged )otentially dangerous--those manufacturing the organic com)onents, for exam)le--were here in the 6yoming wilderness. Technologies !etter understood were distri!uted worldwide. The core of the cluster of new industries was the Systems $ntegration Facility, !uilt near what had once !een 6agon-wheel, 6yoming, to which com)leted com)onents were consigned. Sometimes &llie would see a com)onent arri e and reali:e that she had !een the first human !eing e er to see it as a design drawing. As each new )art was uncrated, she would rush to ins)ect it. As com)onents were mounted one u)on another, and as su!systems )assed their )rescri!ed tests, she felt a (ind of glow that she guessed was a(in to maternal )ride. &llie, >rumlin, and *alerian arri ed for a routine and long-scheduled meeting on the now wholly redundant worldwide monitoring of the signal from *ega. 6hcG they arri ed, they found e eryone tal(ing a!out the !urning of 7a!ylon. $t had ha))ened in the early hours of the morning, )erha)s at a time when the )lace was )rowled only !y its most iniBuitous and unregenerate ha!ituQs. A raiding )arty, eBui))ed with mortars and incendiaries, had struc( simultaneously through the &nlil and $shtar gates. The Liggurat had !een )ut to the torch. There was a )hotogra)h of im)ro!a!ly and scantily clad )eo)le rushing from the Tem)le of Assur. #emar(a!ly, no one was (illed, although there were many inAuries. @ust !efore the attac(, the New .or( Sun, a )a)er controlled !y the &arth-

Firsters and s)orting a glo!e shattered !y a lightning !olt on its masthead, recei ed a call announcing that the attac( was under way. $t was di inely ins)ired retri!ution, the caller olunteered, carried out on !ehalf of decency and American morality, !y those sic( and tired of filth and corru)tion. There were statements !y the )resident of 7a!ylon, $nc., decrying the attac( and condemning an alleged criminal cons)iracy, !ut--at least so far--not a word from S. #. %adden, where er he might !e. 7ecause &llie was (nown to ha e isited %adden in 7a!ylon, a few of the )roAect )ersonnel sought out her reaction. & en >rumlin was interested in her o)inion on this matter, although from his e ident (nowledge of the geogra- )hy of the )lace, it seemed )ossi!le that he had isited it more than once himself. She had no trou!le imagining him as charioteer. 7ut )erha)s he had only read a!out 7a!ylon. "hotoma)s had !een )u!lished in the wee(ly newsmaga-:ines. & entually, they got !ac( to !usiness. Fundamentally, the Message was continuing on the same freBuencies, !and)asses, time constants, and )olari:ation and )hase modulationC the Machine design and the )rimer were still sitting underneath the )rime num!ers and the Olym)ic4 !roadcast. The ci ili:ation in the *ega system seemed ery dedicated. Or may!e they had Aust forgotten to turn off the transmitter. *alerian had a faraway loo( in his eyes. 9"eter, why do you ha e to loo( at the ceiling when you thin(59 >rumlin was re)uted to ha e mellowed o er the last few years, !ut, as with this comment, his reform was not always a))arent. 7eing chosen !y the "resident of the Knited States to re)resent the nation to the extraterrestrials was, he would say, a great honor. The tri), he told his intimates, would !e the crowning )oint of his life. %is wife, tem)orarily trans)lanted to 6yoming and still doggedly faithful, had to endure the same slide shows )resented to new audiences of scientists and technicians !uilding the Machine. Since the site was near his nati e Montana, >rumlin isited there !riefly from time to time. Once &llie had dri en him to Missoula. For the first time in their relationshi), he had !een cordial to her for a few consecuti e hours. 9ShhhhP $4m thin(ing,9 re)lied *alerian. 9$t4s a noise-su))ression techniBue. $4m trying to minimi:e the distractions in my isual field, and then you )resent a distraction in the audio

s)ectrum. .ou might as( me why $ don4t Aust as well stare at a )iece of !lan( )a)er. 7ut the trou!le is that the )a)er4s too small. $ can see things in my )eri)heral ision. Anyway, what $ was thin(ing is this< 6hy are we still getting the %itler message, the Olym)ic !roadcast5 .ears ha e )assed. They must ha e recei ed the 7ritish Coronation !roadcast !y now. 6hy ha en4t we seen some close-u)s of Or! and Sce)ter and ermine, and a oice inDGF toning ?. . . now crowned as 'eorge the Sixth, !y the 'race of 'od, 8ing of &ngland and Northern $reland, and &m)eror of $ndia459 9Are you sure *ega was o er &ngland at the time of the Coronation transmission59 &llie as(ed., we chec(ed that out within a few wee(s of recei)t of the Olym)ic !roadcast. And the intensity was stronger than the %itler thing. $4m sure *ega could ha e )ic(ed u) the Coronation transmission.9 9.ou4re worried that they don4t want us to (now e erything they (now a!out us59 she as(ed. ?They4re in a hurry,9 said *alerian. %e was gi en occasionally to del)hic utterances. 9More li(ely,9 offered &llie, 9they want to (ee) reminding us that they (now a!out %itler.9 9That4s not entirely different from what $4m saying,9 *alerian re)lied. 9All right. 3et4s not waste too much time in Fantasy-land,9 >rumlin groaned. %e was always im)atient with s)eculation on extraterrestrial moti ation. $t was a total waste of time to guess, he would sayC we4ll (now soon enough. Meanwhile, he urged all and sundry to concentrate on the MessageC it was hard data-redundant, unam!iguous, !rilliantly com)osed. 9%ere, a little reality might fix you two u). 6hy don4t we go into the assem!ly area5 $ thin( they4re doing systems integration with the er!ium dowels.9 The geometric design of the Machine was sim)le. The details were extremely com)lex. The fi e chairs in which the crew would sit were amidshi)s in the dodecahedron where it !ulged out most )rominently. There were no facilities for eating or slee)ing or other !odily functions, clear e idence that the tri) a!oard the

Machine--if there was one--would !e short. Some thought this meant that the Machine, when acti ated, would Buic(ly rende: ous with an interstellar s)ace ehicle in the icinity of the &arth. The only difficulty was that meticulous radar and o)tical searches could find no trace of such a shi). $t seemed scarcely li(ely that the extraterrestrials had o erloo(ed ele- mentary human )hysiological needs. May!e the Machine didn4t go anywhere. May!e it did something to the crew. There were no instruments in the crew area, nothing to steer with, not e en an ignition (ey--Aust the fi e chairs, )ointed inward, so each crew mem!er could watch the others. And there was a carefully )rescri!ed u))er limit on the weight of the crew and their !elongings. $n )ractice, the constraint wor(ed to the ad antage of )eo)le of small stature. A!o e and !elow the crew area, in the ta)ering )art of the dodecahedron, were the organics, with their intricate and )u::ling architecture. "laced throughout the interior of this )art of the dodecahedron, a))arently at random, were the dowels of er!ium. And surrounding the dodecahedron were the three concentric s)herical shells, each in a way re)resenting one of the three )hysical dimensions. The shells were a))arently magnetically sus)ended--at least the instructions included a )owerful magnetic field generator,4 and the s)ace !etween the s)herical shells and the dodecahedron was to !e a high acuum. The Message did not name any Machine com)onent. &r!ium was identified as the atom with sixty-eight )rotons and ninety-nine neutrons. The arious )arts of the Machine were also descri!ed numerically-Com)onent -+, for exam)le. So the rotating concentric s)herical shells were named !en:els !y a C:ech technician who (new something of the history of technologyC 'usta 7en:el had, in +1;H, in ented the merry-go-round. The design and function of the Machine were unfathomed, it reBuired whole new technologies to construct, !ut it was made of matter, the structure could !e diagrammed--indeed cutaway engineering drawings had a))eared in mass media all o er the world--and its finished form was readily isuali:ed. There was a continuing mood of technological o)timism. >rumlin, *alerian, and Arroway went through the usual identification seBuence, in ol ing credentials, thum!)rint and oice)rint, and were then admitted to the ast assem!ly !ay.

Three-story o erhead cranes were )ositioning er- !ium dowels in the organic matrix. Se eral )entagonal )anels for the exterior of the dodecahedron were hanging from an ele ated railroad trac(. 6hile the So iets had had some )ro!lems, the K.S. su!systems had finally )assed all their tests, and the o erall architecture of the Machine was gradually emerging. $t4s all coming together, &llie thought. She loo(ed to where the !en:els would !e assem!led. 6hen com)leted, the Machine would loo( from the outside li(e one of those armillary s)heres of the #enaissance astronomers. 6hat would @ohannes 8e)ler ha e made of all this5 The floor and the circumferential trac(s at arious altitudes in the assem!ly !uilding were crowded with technicians, go ernment officials, and re)resentati es of the 6orld Machine Consortium. As they watched. *alerian mentioned that the "resident had esta!lished an occasional corres)ondence with his wife, who would not tell "eter e en what it was a!out. She had )leaded the right of )ri acy. The )ositioning of the dowels was almost com)leted, and a maAor systems integration test was a!out to !e attem)ted for the first time. Some thought the )rescri!ed monitoring de ice was a gra ity wa e telesco)e. @ust as the test was to !egin, they wal(ed around a stanchion to get a !etter iew. Suddenly >rumlin was in the air, flying. & erything else seemed to !e flying, too. $t reminded her of the tornado that had carried >orothy to O:. As in a slow motion film, >rumlin careened toward her, arms outstretched, and (noc(ed her roughly to the ground. After all these years, she thought, was this his notion of a sexual o erture5 %e had a lot to learn. $t was ne er determined who did it. Organi:ations )u!licly claiming res)onsi!ility included the &arthFirsters, the #ed Army Faction, the $slamic @ihad, the now underground Fusion &nergy Foundation, the Si(h Se)aratists, Shining "ath, the 8hmer *ert, the Afghan #enaissance, the radical wing of Mothers Against the Machine, the #eunified #e- unification Church, Omega Se en, the >oomsday Chiliasts /although 7illy @o #an(in denied any connection and claimed that the confessions were called in !y the im)ious, in a doomed attem)t to discredit 'od2, the 7roeder!ond, &l Catorce de Fe!rero, the Secret Army of the 8uomin-tang, the Lionist 3eague, the "arty of 'od, and the newly resuscitated Sym!ionese

3i!eration Front. Most of these organi:ations did not ha e the wherewithal to execute the sa!otageC the length of the list was merely an index of how wides)read o))osition to the Machine had !ecome. The 8u 8lux 8lan, the American Na:i "arty, the >emocratic National Socialist "arty, and a few li(eminded organi:ations restrained themsel es and did not claim res)onsi!ility. An influential minority of their mem!ershi) !elie ed that the Message had !een dis)atched !y %itler himself. According to one ersion, he had !een s)irited off the &arth !y 'erman roc(et technology in May +0F,, and Buite some )rogress had !een made !y the Na:is in the inter ening years. 9$ don4t (now where the Machine was going,9 the "resident said some months later, 9!ut if it was half as whac(ed-out as this )lanet is, it )ro!a!ly wasn4t worth the tri) anyway.9 As reconstructed !y the Commission of $nBuiry, one of the er!ium dowels was sundered !y an ex)losionC the two )ill!ox-sha)ed fragments careened downward from a height of twenty meters, and were also )ro)elled laterally with considera!le elocity. A weight-!earing interior wall was struc( and colla)sed under the im)act. &le en )eo)le were (illed and forty-eight inAured. A num!er of maAor Machine com)onents were destroyedC and, since an ex)losion was not among the testing )rotocols )rescri!ed !y the Message, the ex)losion might ha e ruined a))arently unaffected com)onents. 6hen you had no idea at all a!out how the thing wor(ed, you had to !e ery careful a!out !uilding it. >es)ite the )rofusion of organi:ations that cra ed credit, sus)icion in the Knited States focused immediately on two of the few grou)s that had not claimed res)onsi!ility< the extraterrestrials and the #ussians. Tal( a!out >oomsday Machines filled the air once again. The extraterrestrials had designed the Machine to ex)lode catastro)hically when assem!led, !ut fortunately, some said, we were careless in assem!ling it and only a small charge--)erha)s the trigger for the >oomsday Machine--!lew u). They urged halting construction !efore it was too late and !urying the sur i ing com)onents in widely dis)ersed salt mines. 7ut the Commission of $nBuiry found e idence that the Machine >isaster, as it came to !e (nown, was of more &arthly origin. The dowels had a central elli)soidal ca ity of unimown

)ur)ose, and its interior wall was lined with an intricate networ( of fine gadolinium wires. This ca ity had !een )ac(ed with )lastic ex)losi e and a timer, materials not on the Message4s $n entory of "arts. The dowel had !een machined, the ca ity lined, and the finished )roduct tested and sealed in a %adden Cy!ernetics facility in Terre %aute, $ndiana. The gadolinium wiring had !een too intricate to do !y handC ro!ot ser omechanisms were reBuired, and they in turn had reBuired a maAor factory to !e constructed. The cost of !uilding the factory was defrayed entirely !y %adden Cy!ernetics, !ut there would !e other, more )rofita!le, a))lications for its wares. The other three er!ium dowels in the same lot were ins)ected and re ealed no )lastic ex)losi e. /So iet and @a)anese crews had )erformed a range of remote sensing ex)eriments !efore daring to s)lit their dowels o)en.2 Some!ody had carefully )ac(ed a tam)ed charge and timer into the ca ity near the end of the construction )rocess in Terre %aute. Once out of the factory this dowel-- and those from other !atches-had !een trans)orted !y s)ecial train and under armed guard to 6yoming. The timing of the ex)losion and the nature of the sa!otage suggested someone with (nowledge of the Machine constructionC it was an inside Ao!. 7ut the in estigation made little )rogress. There were se eral do:en )eo)le-technicians, Buality control analysts, ins)ectors who sealed the com)onent for transshi)ment--who had the o))ortunity to commit the sa!otage, if not the means and the moti ation. Those who failed )olygra)h tests had ironclad ali!is. None of the sus)ects let dro) a confession in an unguarded moment at the neigh!orhood !ar. None !egan to s)end more than their means allowed. No one 9!ro(e9 under interrogation. >es)ite what were said to !e igorous efforts !y law-enforcement agencies, the mystery remained unsol ed. Those who !elie ed the So iets res)onsi!le argued that their moti e was to )re ent the Knited States from acti ating its Machine first. The #ussians had the technical ca)a!ility for the sa!otage, and, of course, detailed (nowledge of Machine construction )rotocols and )ractice on !oth sides of the Atlantic. As soon as the disaster occurred, An-atoly 'oldmann, a former student of 3unachars(y4s, who was wor(ing as So iet liaison in 6yoming, urgently called Moscow and told them to ta(e down all their

dowels. At face alue, this con ersation--which had !een routinely monitored !y the NSA--seemed to show no #ussian in ol ement, !ut some argued that the )hone call was a sham to deflect sus)icion, or that 'oidmann had not !een told of the sa!otage !eforehand. The argument was )ic(ed u) !y those in the Knited States made uneasy !y the late reduction of tensions !etween the two nuclear su)er)owers. Knderstanda!ly, Moscow was outraged at the suggestion. $n fact, the So iets were ha ing more difficulties in constructing their Machine than was generally (nown. Ksing the decry)ted Message, the Ministry of Medium %ea y $ndustry made considera!le )rogress in ore extraction, metallurgy, machine tools, and the li(e. The new microelectronics and cy!ernetics were more difficult, and most of those com)onents for the So iet Machine were )roduced under contract elsewhere in &uro)e and in @a)an. & en more difficult for So iet domestic industry was the organic chemistry, much of which reBuired techniBues de elo)ed in molecular !iology. A nearly fatal !low had !een dealt So iet genetics when in the +0-Hs Stalin decided that modern Mendelian genetics was ideologically unsuita!le, and decreed as scientifi-cally orthodox the crac()ot genetics of a )olitically so)histicated agriculturalist named Trofirn 3ysen(o. Two generations of !right So iet students were taught essentially nothing of the fundamentals of heredity. Now, sixty years later, So iet molecular !iology and genetic engineering were com)arati ely !ac(ward, and few maAor disco eries in the su!Aect had !een made !y So iet scientists. Something similar had ha))ened, !ut a!orti ely, in the Knited States, where for theological reasons attem)ts had !een made to )re ent )u!lic school students from learning a!out e olution, the central idea of modern !iology. The issue was clear-cut, !ecause a fundamentalist inter)retation of the 7i!le was .widely held to !e inconsistent with the e olutionary )rocess. Fortunately for American molecular !iology, the fundamentalists were not as influential in the Knited States as Stalin had !een in the So iet Knion. The National $ntelligence &stimate )re)ared for the "resident on the matter concluded that there was no e idence of So iet in ol ement in the sa!otage. #ather, since the So iets had )arity with the Americans in crew mem!ershi), they had strong incenti es to su))ort the com)letion of the

American Machine. 9$f your technology is at 3e el Three,9 ex)lained the >irector of Central $ntelligence, 9and your ad ersary is ahead of you at 3e el Four, you4re ha))y when, out of the !lue, 3e el Fifteen technology a))ears. "ro ided you ha e eBual access to it and adeBuate resources.9 Few officials of the American go ernment !elie ed the So iets were res)onsi!le for the ex)losion, and the "resident said as much )u!licly on more than one occasion. 7ut old ha!its die hard. 9No crac()ot grou), howe er well organi:ed, will deflect humanity from this historic goal,9 the "resident declared. $n )ractice, though, it was now much more difficult to achie e a national consensus. The sa!otage had gi en new life to e ery o!Aection, reasona!le and unreasona!le, that had earlier !een raised. Only the )ros)ect of the So iets4 com)leting their Machine (e)t the American )roAect going. %is wife had wanted to (ee) >rumlin4s funeral a family affair, !ut in this, as in much else, her well-meaning intentions were thwarted. "hysicists, )arasailors, hang-gliding aficionados, go ernment officials, scu!a enthusiasts, radio astronomers, s(y di ers, aBua)laners, and the world S&T$ community all wanted to attend. For a while, they had contem)lated holding the ser ices at the Cathedral of St. @ohn the >i ine in New .or( City, as the only church in the country of adeBuate si:e. 7ut >rumlin4s wife won a small ictory, and the ceremony was held outdoors in his hometown of Missoula, Montana. The authorities had agreed !ecause Missoula sim)lified the security )ro!lems. Although *alerian was not !adly inAured, his )hysicians ad ised him against attending the funeralC ne ertheless, he ga e one of the eulogies from a wheelchair. >rumlin4s s)ecial genius was in (nowing what Buestions to as(. *alerian said. %e had a))roached the S&T$ )ro!lem s(e)tically, !ecause s(e)ticism was at the heart of science. Once it was clear that a Message was !eing recei ed, no one was more dedicated or resourceful in figuring it out. The >e)uty Secretary of >efense, Michael 8it:, re)resenting the "resident, stressed >rumlin4s )ersonal Bualities--his warmth, his concern for the feelings of others, his !rilliance, his remar(a!le athletic a!ility. $f not for this tragic and dastardly e ent, >rumlin would ha e gone down in history as the first American to isit another star.

No )eroration from her, &llie had told der %eer. No )ress inter iews. May!e a few )hotogra)hs--she understood the im)ortance of a few )hotogra)hs. She didn4t trust herself to say the right thing. For years she had ser ed as a (ind of )u!lic s)o(es)erson for S&T$, for Argus, and then for the Message and the Machine. 7ut this was different. She needed some time to wor( this one through. As nearly as she could tell, >rumlin had died sa ing her life. %e had seen the ex)losion !efore others heard it, !ad s)ied the se eral-hundred-(ilogram mass of er!ium arcing toward them. 6ith his Buic( reflexes, he had lea)ed to )ush her !ac( !ehind the stanchion. She had mentioned this as a )ossi!ility to der %eer, who D;D re)lied, 9>rumlin was )ro!a!ly lea)ing to sa e himself, and you were Aust in the way.9 The remar( was ungraciousC was it also intended to !e ingratiating5 Or )erha)s, der %eer had gone on, sensing her dis)leasure, >rumlin had !een thrown into the air !y the concussion of the er!ium hitting the staging surface. 7ut she was a!solutely sure. She had seen the whole thing. >rumlin4s concern was to sa e her life. And he had. &xce)t for a few scratches, &llie was )hysically unhurt. *alerian, who had !een entirely )rotected !y the stanchion, had !oth legs !ro(en !y a colla)sing wall. She had !een fortunate in more ways than one. She had not e en !een (noc(ed unconscious. %er first thought--as soon as she had understood what had ha))ened--was not for her old teacher >a id >rumlin crushed horri!ly !efore her eyesC not ama:ement at the )ros)ect of >rumlin gi ing u) his life for hersC not the set!ac( to the entire Machine "roAect. No, clear as a !ell, her thought had !een $ can go, they4ll ha e to send me, there4s no!ody else, $ get to go. She had caught herself in an instant. 7ut it was too late. She was aghast at her self-in ol ement, at the contem)ti!le egotism she had re ealed to herself in this moment of crisis. $t didn4t matter that >rumlin might ha e had similar failings. She was a))alled to find them, e en momentarily, within her--so . . . igorous, !usy, )lanning future courses of action, o!li ious of e erything exce)t herself. 6hat she detested most was the a!solute unselfconsciousness of her ego. $t made no a)ologies, ga e no Buarter, and )lunged on. $t was unwholesome. She (new it would !e im)ossi!le to tear it out, root and !ranch. She would ha e to wor( on

it )atiently, reason with it, distract it, may!e e en threaten it. 6hen the in estigators arri ed on the scene, she was uncommunicati e. 9$4m afraid $ can4t tell you much. The three of us were wal(ing together in the staging area and suddenly there was an ex)losion and e erything was flying u) into the air. $4m sorry $ can4t hel). $ wish $ could.9 She made it clear to her colleagues that she did not want to tal( a!out it, and disa))eared into her a)artment for so long that they sent a scouting )arty to inBuire after her. She tried recalling e ery nuance of the incident. She tried to reconstruct their con ersation !efore they had entered the staging area, what she and >rumlin had tal(ed a!out on their dri e to Missoula, what >rumlin had seemed li(e when she first met him at the !eginning of her graduate school career. 'radually she disco ered that there was a )art of her that had wished >rumlin dead--e en !efore they !ecame com)etitors for the American seat on the Machine. She hated him for ha ing diminished her !efore the other students in class, for o))osing Argus, for what he had said to her the moment after the %itler film had !een reconstructed. She had wanted him dead. And now he was dead. 7y a certain reasoning--she recogni:ed it immediately as con oluted and s)urious--she !elie ed herself res)onsi!le. 6ould he e en ha e !een here if not for her5 Certainly, she told herselfC someone else would ha e disco ered the Message, and >rumlin would ha e lea)ed in. So to say. 7ut had she not-through her own scientific carelessness, )erha)s--)ro o(ed him into dee)er in ol ement in the Machine "roAect5 Ste) !y ste), she wor(ed through the )ossi!ilities. $f they were distasteful, she wor(ed es)ecially hard on themC there was something hiding there. She thought a!out men, men who for one reason or another she had admired. >rumlin. *alerian. >er %eer. %adden. . . . @oss. @esse. . . . Staughton5 . . . %er father. 9>r. Arroway59 &llie was roused somewhat gratefully from this meditation !y a stout !lond woman of middle age in a !lue )rint dress. %er face was somehow familiar. The cloth identification !adge on her am)le !osom read 9%. 7or(, 'Vte-!org.9 9>r. Arroway, $4m so sorry for your ... for our loss. >a id told me all a!out you.9 Of courseP The legendary %elga 7or(, >rumlin4s scu!a-di ing com)anion in so many

tedious graduatestudent slide shows. 6ho, she wondered for the first time, had ta(en those )ictures5 >id they in ite a )hotogra)her to accom)any them on their underwater trysts5 9%e told me how close you !oth were.9 6hat is this woman trying to tell me5 >id >rumlin insinuate to her . . . %er eyes welled with tears. 9$4m sorry. >r. 7or(, $ don4t feel ery well right now.9 %ead lowered, she hurried away. There were many at the funeral she wanted to see< *ay-gay, Ar(hangels(y, 'otsrid:e, 7aruda, .u, Ni, >e i. And A!onnema &da, who was increasingly !eing tal(ed a!out as the fifth crew mem!er--if the nations had any sense, she thought, and if there was to !e such a thing as a com)leted Machine. 7ut her social stamina was in tatters and she could not now a!ide long meetings. For one thing, she didn4t trust herself to s)ea(. %ow much that she4d !e saying would !e for the good of the )roAect, and how much to satisfy her own needs5 The others were sym)athetic and understanding. She had, after all, !een the )erson closest to >rumlin when the er!ium dowel struc( and )ul)ed him. C%A"T&# +G The &lders of O:one The 'od whom science recogni:es must !e a 'od of uni ersal laws exclusi ely, a 'od who does a wholesale, not a retail !usiness. %e cannot accommodate his )rocesses to the con enience of indi iduals. -6$33$AM @AM&S The *arieties of #eligious &x)erience /+0HD2 AT A F&6 hundred (ilometers altitude, the &arth fills half your s(y, and the !and of !lue that stretches from Mindanao to 7om!ay, which your eye encom)asses in a single glance, can !rea( your heart with its !eauty. %ome, you thin(. %ome. This is my world. This is where $ come from. & eryone $ (now, e eryone $ e er heard of, grew u) down there, under that relentless and exBuisite !lue. .ou race eastward from hori:on to hori:on, from dawn to dawn, circling the )lanet in an hour and a half. After a while, you get to (now it, you study its idiosyncrasies and anomalies. .ou can see so much with the na(ed eye. Florida will soon !e in iew again. %as that tro)ical storm system you saw last or!it, swirling and racing o er the Cari!!ean, reached

Fort 3auderdale5 Are any of the mountains in the %indu 8ush snow-free this summer5 .ou tend to admire the aBuamarine reefs in the Coral Sea. .ou loo( at the 6est Antarctic $ce "ac( and wonder whether its colla)se could really inundate all the coastal cities on the )lanet. $n the daylight, though, it4s hard to see any sign of human ha!itation. 7ut at night, exce)t for the )olar aurora, e erything you see is due to humans, humming and !lin(ing all o er the )lanet. That swath of light is eastern North America, continuous from 7oston to 6ashington, a megalo)olis in fact if not in name. O er there is the !urnoff of natural gas in 3i!ya. The da::ling lights of the @a)anese shrim) fishing fleet ha e mo ed toward the South China Sea. On e ery or!it, the &arth tells you new stories. .ou can see a olcanic eru)tion in 8amchat(a, a Saharan sandstorm a))roaching 7ra:il, unseasona!ly frigid weather in New Lealand. .ou get to thin(ing of the &arth as an organism, a li ing thing. .ou get to worry a!out it, care for it, wish it well. National !oundaries are as in isi!le as meridians of longitude, or the Tro)ics of Cancer and Ca)ricorn. The !oundaries are ar!itrary. The )lanet is real. S)aceflight, therefore, is su! ersi e. $f they are fortunate enough to find themsel es m &arth or!it, most )eo)le, after a little meditation, ha e similar thoughts. The nations that had instituted s)aceflight had done so largely for nationalistic reasonsC it was a small irony that almost e eryone who entered s)ace recei ed a startling glim)se of a transnational )ers)ecti e, of the &arth as one world. $t wasn4t hard to imagine a time when the )redominant loyalty would !e to this !lue world, or e en to the cluster of worlds huddling around the near!y yellow dwarf star on which humans, once unaware that e ery star is a sun, had !estowed the definite article< the Sun. $t was only now, when many )eo)le were entering s)ace for long )eriods and had !een afforded a little time for reflection, that the )ower of the )lanetary )ers)ecti e !egan to !e felt. A significant num!er of these occu)ants of low &arth or!it, it turned out, were influential down there on &arth. They had--from the !eginning, from !efore humans e er entered s)ace--sent animals u) there. Amoe!as, fruit flies, rats, dogs, and a)es had !ecome hardy s)ace eterans. As s)aceflights of longer and longer duration !ecame )ossi!le, something unex)ected was found. $t had no effect on microorganisms and little

effect on fruit flies. 7ut for mammals, it seemed, :ero gra ity extended the lifes)an. 7y +H or DH )ercent. $f you li ed in :ero g, your !ody would s)end less energy fighting the force of gra ity, your cells would oxidi:e more slowly, and you would li e longer. There were some )hysicians who claimed that the effects would !e much more )ronounced on humans than on rats. There was the faintest aroma of immortality in the air. The rate of new cancers was down 1H )ercent for the or!ital animals com)ared with a control grou) on the &arth. 3eu(emia and lym)hatic carcinomas were down 0H )ercent. There was e en some e idence, )erha)s not yet statistically significant, that the s)ontaneous remission rate for neo)lastic diseases was much greater in :ero gra ity. The 'erman chemist Otto 6ar!urg had, half a century !efore, )ro)osed that oxidation was the cause of many cancers. The lower cellular oxygen consum)tion in the weightless condition suddenly seemed ery attracti e. "eo)le who in earlier decades would ha e made a )ilgrimage to Mexico for laetrile now clamored for a tic(et into s)ace. 7ut the )rice was exor!itant. 6hether )re enti e or clinical medicine, s)aceflight was for the few. Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money !ecame a aila!le for in estment in ci ilian or!ital stations. 7y the ery end of the Second Millennium there were rudimentary retirement hotels a few hundred (ilometers u). Aside from the ex)ense, there was a serious disad antage, of course< "rogressi e osteological and ascular damage would ma(e it im)ossi!le for you e er to come !ac( to the gra itational field at the surface of the &arth. 7ut for some of the wealthy elderly, this was no maAor im)ediment. $n exchange for another decade of life, they were ha))y to retire to the s(y and, e entually, to die there. There were those who worried that this was an im)rudent in estment of the limited wealth of the )lanetC there were too many urgent needs and Aust grie ances of the )oor and )owerless to s)end it on )am)ering the rich and )owerful. $t was foolhardy, they said, to )ermit an elite class to emigrate to s)ace, with the masses left !ac( on &arth--a )lanet in effect gi en o er to a!sentee landlords. Others )rofessed it to !e a godsend< The owners of the )lanet were )ic(ing u) in dro es and lea ingC they couldn4t do nearly as much damage u) there, it was argued, as down here.

%ardly anyone antici)ated the )rinci)al outcome, the transfer of a i id )lanetary )ers)ecti e to those who could do the most good. After some years, there were few nationalists left in &arth or!it. 'lo!al nuclear confrontation )oses real )ro!lems for those with a )enchant for immortality. There were @a)anese industrialists, 'ree( shi))ing tycoons, Saudi crown )rinces, one ex-"resident, a former "arty 'eneral Secretary, a Chinese ro!!er !aron, and a retired heroin (ing)in. $n the 6est, aside from a few )romotional in itations, there was only one criterion for residence in &arth or!it< .ou had to !e a!le to )ay. The So iet hostel was differentC it was called a s)ace station, and the former "arty Secretary was said to !e there for 9gerontological re- search.9 7y and large, the multitudes were not resentful. One day, they imagined, they would go, too. Those in &arth or!it tended to !e circums)ect, careful, Buiet. Their families and staffs had similar )ersonal Bualities. They were the focus of discreet attention !y other rich and )owerful )eo)le still on &arth. They made no )u!lic )ronouncements, !ut their iews gradually )ermeated the thin(ing of leaders worldwide. The continuing di estment of nuclear wea)ons !y the fi e nuclear )owers was something the enera!les in or!it su))orted. Juietly, they had endorsed the !uilding of the Machine, !ecause of its )otential to unify the world. Occasionally nationalist organi:ations would write a!oat a ast cons)iracy in &arth or!it, doddering do-gooders selling out their Motherlands. There were )am)hlets that )ar)orted to !e stenogra)hic transcri)ts of a meeting a!oard Methuselah attended !y re)resentati es of the other )ri ate s)ace stations who had !een ferried o er for the )ur)ose. A list of 9action items9 was )roduced, calculated to stri(e terror in the heart of the most lu(ewarm )atriot. The )am)hlets were s)urious. Timeswee( announcedC it called them 9The "rotocols of the &lders of O:one.9 On the days immediately !efore launch, she tried to s)end some time--often Aust after dawn--on Cocoa 7each. &llie had !orrowed an a)artment that o erloo(ed the !each and the Atlantic Ocean. She would !ring )ieces of !read along and )ractice throwing them to the seagulls. They were good at catching morsels on the fly, with a fielding a erage, she calculated, a!out that of a maAor league outfielder. There were moments when twenty or thirty seagulls would ho er in the air Aust a meter or two a!o e

her head. They fla))ed igorously to stay in )lace, their !ea(s wide, straining in antici)ation of the miraculous a))earance of food. They gra:ed )ast each other in a))arent random motion, !ut the o erall effect was a stationary )attern. On her way !ac(, she noticed a small and, in its hum!le way, )erfect )alm frond lying at the edge of the !each. She )ic(ed it u) and carried it !ac( to her a)artment, carefully wi)ing off the sand with her fingers. %adden had in ited her u) for a isit to his home away from home, his chateau in s)ace. Methuselah, he called it. She could tell no one outside the go ernment a!out the in itation, !ecause of %adden4s )assion to stay out of the )u!lic eye. $ndeed, it was still not generally (nown that he had ta(en u) residence in or!it, retired to the s(y. All those inside the go ernment she as(ed were for it. >er %eer4s ad ice was ?The change of scene will do you good.9 The "resident clearly was in fa or of her isit, !ecause a )lace had suddenly !een made a aila!le on the next shuttle launch, the aging STS $ntre)id. "assage to an or!iting rest home was usually !y commercial carrier. A much larger nonreusa!le launch ehicle was undergoing final flight Bualification. 7ut the aging shuttle fleet was still the wor(-horse of K.S. go ernment s)ace acti ities, !oth military and ci ilian. 96e Aus4 fla(e off tiles !y the handful when we re-enter, and then we Aus4 stic( ?em !ac( on again !efore liftoff,9 one of the astronaut-)ilots ex)lained to her. 7eyond general good health, there were no s)ecial )hysical reBuirements for the flight. Commercial launches tended to go u) full and come !ac( em)ty. 7y contrast, the shuttle flights were crowded !oth on the way u) and on the way down. 7efore $ntre)id4s latest landing the )re ious wee(, it had rende: oused and doc(ed with Methuselah to return two )assengers to &arth. She recogni:ed their namesC one was a designer of )ro)ulsion systems, the other a cryo!iologist. &llie wondered what they had !een doing on Methuselah. 9.ou4ll see,9 the )ilot continued, 9it4ll !e li(e fallin4 off a log. %ardly any!ody hates it, and most fol(s Aus4 lo e it.9 She did. Crowded in with the )ilot, two mission s)ecialists, a tightli))ed military officer, and an em)loyee of the $nternal #e enue Ser ice, she ex)erienced a flawless liftoff and the exhilaration of her first

ex)erience in :ero gra ity longer than the ride in the high-deceleration ele ator at the 6orld Trade Center in New .or(. One and a half or!its later, they rende: oused with Methuselah. $n two days the commercial trans)ort Narnia would !ring &llie down. The Chateau--%adden insisted on calling it that--was slowly s)inning, one re olution a!out e ery ninety minutes, so that the same side of it was always facing the &arth. %adden4s study featured a magnificent )anorama on the &arthward !ul(head--not a tele ision screen !ut a real trans)arent window. The )hotons she was seeing had !een reflected off the snowy Andes Aust a fraction of a. second ago. &xce)t toward the )eri)hery of the window, where the slant )ath through the thic( )olymer was longer, hardly any distortion was e ident. There were many )eo)le she (new, e en )eo)le who considered themsel es religious, for whom the feeling of awe was an em!arrassment. 7ut you would ha e to !e made of wood, she thought, to stand !efore this window and not feel it. They should !e sending u) young )oets and com)osers, artists, filmma(ers, and dee)ly religious )eo)le not wholly in thrall to the sectarian !ureaucracies. This ex)erience could easily !e con eyed, she thought, to the a erage )erson on &arth. 6hat a )ity it had not yet !een attem)ted seriously. The feeling was . . . numinous. 9.ou get used to it,9 %adden told her, 9!ut you don4t get tired of it. From time to time it4s still ins)iring.9 A!stemiously he was nursing a diet cola. She had refused the offer of something stronger. The )remium on ethanol in or!it must !e high, she thought. 9Of course, you miss things--long wal(s, swimming in the ocean, old friends dro))ing in unannounced. 7ut $ was ne er much into those things anyway. And as you see, friends can come !y for a isit.9 9At huge ex)ense,9 she re)lied. 9A woman comes u) to isit .amagishi, my neigh!or in the next wing. Second Tuesday of e ery month, rain or shine. $4ll introduce you to him later. %e4s Buite a guy. Class A war criminal--!ut only indicted, you understand, ne er con icted.9 96hat4s the attraction59 she as(ed. 9.ou don4t thin( the world is a!out to end.

6hat are you doing u) here59 9$ li(e the iew. And there are certain legal niceties.9 She loo(ed at him Buerulously. 9.ou (now, someone in my )osition--new in entions, new industries--is always on the thin edge of !rea(ing some law or other. Ksually it4s !ecause the old laws ha en4t caught u) with the new technology. .ou can s)end a lot of your time in litigation. $t cuts down your effecti eness. 6hile all this9--he gestured ex)ansi ely, ta(ing in !oth the Chateau and the &arth--9doesn4t !elong to any nation. This Chateau !elongs to me, my friend .amagishi, and a few others. There could ne er !e anything illegal a!out su))lying me with food and material needs. @ust to !e on the safe side, though, we4re wor(ing on closed ecological systems. There4s no extradition treaty !etween this Chateau and any of the nations down there. $t4s more . . . efficient for me to !e u) here. 9$ don4t want you to thin( that $4 e done anything really illegal. 7ut we4re doing so many new things, it4s smart to !e on the safe side. For instance, there are )eo)le who actually !elie e $ sa!otaged the Machine, when $ s)ent a ridiculous amount of my own money trying to !uild it. And you (now what they did to 7a!ylon. My insurance in estigators thin( it might ha e !een the same )eo)le in 7a!ylon and Terre %aute. $ seem to ha e a lot of enemies. $ don4t understand why. $ thin( $4 e done a lot of good for )eo)le. Anyway, all in all, it4s !etter for me to !e u) here. . . . 9Now, it4s the Machine $ wanted to tal( to you a!out. That was awful--that er!ium-dowel catastro)he in 6yoming. $4m really sorry a!out >rumlin. %e was a tough old )isser. And it must ha e !een a !ig shoc( for you. Sure you don4t want a drin(59 7ut she was content to loo( out at the &arth and listen. 9$f $4m not disheartened a!out the Machine,9 he went on, 9$ don4t see why you should !e. .ou4re )ro!a!ly worried that there ne er will !e an American Machine, that there are too many )eo)le who want it to fail. The "resident4s worried a!out the same thing. And those factories we !uilt, those aren4t assem!ly lines. 6e4 e !een ma(ing custom-made )roducts. $t4s gonna !e ex)ensi e to re)lace all the !ro(en )arts. 7ut mainly you4re thin(ing, may!e it was a !ad idea in the first )lace. May!e we4 e !een foolish to go so fast. So let4s ta(e a long,

careful loo( at the whole thing. & en if you4re not thinidng li(e that, the "resident is. 97ut if we don4t do it soon. $4m worried we4ll ne er do it. And there4s another thing< $ don4t thin( this in itation is o)en fore er.9 9Funny you should say that. That4s Aust what *alerian, >rumlin, and $ were tal(ing a!out !efore the accident. The sa!otage,9 she corrected herself. 9"lease go on.9 9.ou see, the religious )eo)le--most of them--really thin( this )lanet is an ex)eriment. That4s what their !eliefs come down to. Some god or other is always fixing and )o(ing, messing around with tradesmen4s wi es, gi ing ta!lets on mountains, commanding you to mutilate your children, telling )eo)le what words they can say and what words they can4t say, ma(ing )eo)le feel guilty a!out enAoying themsel es, and li(e that. 6hy can4t the gods lea e well enough alone5 All this inter ention s)ea(s of incom)etence. $f 'od didn4t want 3ot4s wife to loo( !ac(, why didn4t he ma(e her o!edient, so she4d do what her hus!and told her5 Or if he hadn4t made 3ot such a shithead, may!e she would4 e listened to him more. $f 'od is omni)otent and omniscient, why didn4t he start the uni erse out in the first )lace so it would come out the way he wants5 6hy4s he constantly re)airing and com)laining5 No, there4s one thing the 7i!le ma(es clear< The !i!lical 'od is a slo))y manufacturer. %e4s not good at design, he4s not good at execution. %e4d !e out of !usiness if there was any com)etition. 9That4s why $ don4t !elie e we4re an ex)eriment. There might !e lots of ex)erimental )lanets in the uni erse, )laces where a))rentice gods get to test out their s(ills. 6hat a shame #an(in and @oss weren4t !orn on one of those )lanets. 7ut on this )lanet9--again he wa ed at the window-9there isn4t any microinter ention. The gods don4t dro) in on us to fix things u) when we4 e !otched it. .ou loo( at human history and it4s clear we4 e !een on our own.9 9Kntil now,9 she said. 9>eus ex machina5 That4s what yon thin(5 .ou thin( the gods finally too( )ity on us and sent the Machine59 9More li(e Machina ex deo, or whate er the right 3atin is. No, $ don4t thin( we4re the ex)eriment. $ thin( we4re the control, the )lanet that no!ody was interested in, the )lace where

no!ody inter ened at all. A cali!ration world gone to seed. This is what ha))ens if they don4t inter ene. The &arth is an o!Aect lesson for the a))rentice gods. $f you really screw u),4 they get told, ?you4ll ma(e something li(e &arth.4 7ut of course it4d !e a waste to destroy a )erfectly good world. So they loo( in on us from time to time, Aust in case. May!e each time they !ring !y the gods who screwed u). 3ast time they loo(ed we4re frolic(ing in the sa annas, trying to outrace the antelo)es. ?O(ay, that4s fine,4 they say. These guys aren4t gonna gi e us any trou!le. 3oo( in on ?em in another ten million years. 7ut Aust to !e on the safe side, monitor ?em at radio freBuencies.4 9Then one day there4s an alarm. A message from &arth. ?6hat5 They ha e tele ision already5 3et4s see what they4re into.4 Olym)ic stadium. National flags. 7ird of )rey. Adolf %itler. Thousands of cheering )eo)le. ?Kh-oh,4 they say. They (now the warning signs. Juic( as a flash they tell us, ?Cut it out, you guys. That4s a )erfectly good )lanet you ha e there. >isorgani:ed, !ut ser icea!le. %ere, !uild this Machine instead.4 They4re worried a!out us. They see we4re on a downward slo)e. They thin( we should !e in a hurry to get re)aired. So $ thin( so, too. 6e ha e to !uild the Machine.9 She (new what >rumlin would ha e thought of arguments li(e this. Although much that %adden had Aust said resonated with her own thin(ing, she was tired of these !eguiling and confident s)eculations on what the *egans had in mind. She wanted the )roAect to continue, the Machine com)leted and acti ated, the new stage in human history !egun. She still mistrusted her own moti es, was still wary e en when she was mentioned as a )ossi!le mem!er of the crew on a com)leted Machine. So the delays in resuming construction ser ed a )ur)ose for her. They !ought time for her to wor( her )ro!lems through. 96e4ll ha e dinner with .amagishi. .ou4ll li(e him. 7ut we4re a little worried a!out him. %e (ee)s his oxygen )artial )ressure so low at night.9 96hat do you mean59 96ell, the lower the oxygen content in the air, the longer you li e. At least that4s what the doctors tell us. So we all get to )ic( the amount of oxygen in our rooms. $n daytime you can4t !ring it much !elow twenty

)ercent, !ecause you get groggy. $t im)airs mental functioning. 7ut at night, when you4re slee)ing anyway, you can lower the oxygen )artial )ressure. There4s a danger, though. .ou can lower it too much. .amagishi4s down to fourteen )ercent these days, !ecause he wants to li e fore er. As a result, he4s not lucid until lunchtime.9 9$4 e !een that way all my life, at twenty )ercent oxygen.9 She laughed. 9Now he4s ex)erimenting with noOtro)ic drugs to remo e the grogginess. .ou (now, li(e )iracetam. They definitely im)ro e memory. $ don4t (now that it actually ma(es you smarter, !ut that4s what they say. So .amagishi is ta(ing an awful lot of noOtro)ics, and he4s not !reathing enough oxygen at night.9 9So does he !eha e cuc(oo59 9Cuc(oo5 $t4s hard to tell. $ don4t (now ery many ninety-two-year-old Class A war criminals.9 9That4s why e ery ex)eriment needs a control,9 she said. %e smiled. & en at his ad anced age, .amagishi dis)layed the erect !earing he had acBuired during his long ser ice in the $m)erial Army. %e was a small man, entirely !ald, with an incons)icuous white mustache and a fixed, !enign ex)ression on his face. 9$ am here !ecause of hi)s,9 he ex)lained. 9$ (now a!out cancer, and lifetimes. 7ut $ am here !ecause of hi)s. At my age !ones !rea( easily. 7aron Tsu(uma died from falling from his futon onto his tatami. One-half meter, he fell. One-half meter. And his !ones !ro(e. $n :ero g, hi)s do not !rea(.9 This seemed ery sensi!le. A few gastronomic com)romises had !een made, !ut the dinner was of sur)rising elegance. A s)eciali:ed small technology had !een de elo)ed for weightless dining. Ser ing utensils had lids, wine glasses had to)s and straws. Foods such as nuts or dried corn fla(es were )rohi!ited. .amagishi urged the ca iar on her. $t was one of the few 6estern foods, !e ex)lained, that cost more )er (ilogram to !uy on &arth than to shi) to s)ace. The cohesion of the indi idual ca iar eggs was a luc(y

!rea(, &llie mused. She tried to imagine thousands of se)arate eggs in indi idual fiee-fall, clouding the )assageways of this or!iting retirement home. Suddenly she remem!ered that her mother was also in a retirement home, se eral orders of magnitude more modest than this one. $n fact, orienting herself !y the 'reat 3a(es, isi!le out the window at this moment, she could )in)oint her mother4s location. She could s)end two days chatting it u) in &arth or!it with !ad-!oy !illionaires, !ut couldn4t s)are fifteen minutes for a )hone call with her mother5 She )romised herself to call as soon as she landed in Cocoa 7each. A communiBue from &arth or!it, she told herself, might !e too much no elty for the senior citi:ens4 rest home in @anes ille, 6isconsin. .amagishi interru)ted her train of thought to inform her that he was the oldest man in s)ace. & er. & en the former Chinese *ice "remier was younger. %e remo ed his coat, rolled u) his right slee e, flexed his !ice)s, and as(ed her to feel !is muscle. %e was soon full of i id and Buantitati e detail a!out the worthy charities to which he had !een a maAor contri!utor. She tried to ma(e )olite con ersation. 9$t4s ery )lacid and Buiet u) here. .ou must !e enAoying your retirement.9 She had addressed this !land remar( to .amagishi, !ut %adden re)lied. 9$t4s not entirely une entful. Occasionally there4s a crisis and we ha e to mo e fast.9 9Solar flare, extremely !ad. Ma(e you sterile,9 .amagishi olunteered. 9.eah, if there4s a maAor solar flare monitored !y telesco)e, you ha e a!out three days !efore the charged )articles hit the Chateau. So the )ermanent residents, li(e .amagishi-san and me, we go to the storm shelter. *ery s)artan, ery confined. 7ut it has enough radiation shielding to ma(e a difference. There4s some secondary radiation, of course. The thing is, all the non)ermanent staff and isitors ha e to lea e in the three-day )eriod. That (ind of an emergency can tax the commercial fleet. Sometimes we ha e to call in NASA or the So iets to rescue )eo)le. .ou wouldn4t !elie e who you flush out in solar-flare e ents-Mafiosi, heads of intelligence ser ices, !eautiful men and women...9 96hy do $ get the feeling that sex is high on the list of im)orts from &arth59

she as(ed a little reluctantly. 9Oh, it is, it is. There4s lots of reasons. The clientele, the location. 7ut the main reason is :ero g. $n :ero g you can do things at eighty you ne er thought )ossi!le at twenty. .ou ought to ta(e a acation u) here-with your !oyfriend. Consider it a definite in itation.9 9Ninety,9 said .amagishi. 9$ !eg your )ardon59 9.ou can do things at ninety you didn4t dream of at twenty. That4s what .amagishi-san is saying. That4s why e eryone wants to come u) here.9 O er coffee, %adden returned to the to)ic of the Machine. 9.amagishi-san and me are )artners with some other )eo)le. %e4sthe %onorary Chairman of the 7oard of .amagishi $ndustries. As you (now, they4re the )rime contractor for the Machine com)onent testing going on in %o((aido. Now imagine our )ro!lem. $4ll gi e you a for-instance. There are three !ig s)herical shells, one inside the other. They4re made of a nio!ium alloy, they ha e )eculiar )atterns cut into them, and they4re o! iously designed to rotate in three orthogonal directions ery fast in a acuum. 7en:els, they4re called. .ou (now all this, of course. 6hat ha))ens if you ma(e a scale model of the three !en:els and s)in them ery fast5 6hat ha))ens5 All (nowledgea!le )hysicists thin( nothing will ha))en. 7ut, of course, no-!ody4s done the ex)eriment. This )recise ex)eriment. So no!ody really (nows. Su))ose something does ha))en when the full Machine is acti ated. >oes it de)end on the s)eed of rotation5 >oes it de)end on the com)osition of the !en:els5 On the )attern of the cutouts5 $s it a Buestion of scale5 So we4 e !een !uilding these things, and running them--scale models and full-scale co)ies, !oth. 6e want to s)in our ersion of the !ig !en:els, the ones that4ll !e mated to the other com)onents in the two Machines. Su))ose nothing ha))ens then. Then we4d want to add additional com)onents, one !y one. 6e4d (ee) )lugging them in, a small systems integration Ao! at e ery ste), and then may!e there4d !e a time when we )lug in a com)onent, not the last one, and the Machine does something that (noc(s our soc(s off. 6e4re only trying to figure out how the Machine wor(s. .ou see what $4m dri ing at59 9.ou mean you4 e !een secretly assem!ling an identical co)y of the Machine in @a)an59

96ell, it4s not exactly a secret. 6e4re testing out the indi idual com)onents. No!ody said we can only test them one at a time. So here4s what .amagishi-san and $ )ro)ose< 6e change the schedule on the ex)eriments in %o((aido. 6e do full-u) systems integration now, and if nothing wor(s we4ll do the com)onent-!y-com)onent testing later. The money4s all !een allocated anyway. 96e thin( it4ll !e months--may!e years--!efore the American effort gets !ac( on trac(. And we don4t thin( the #ussians can do it e en in that time. @a)an4s the only )ossi!ility. 6e don4t ha e to announce it right away. 6e don4t ha e to ma(e a decision a!out acti ating the Machine right away. 6e4re Aust testing com)onents.9 9Can you two ma(e this (ind of decision on your own59 9Oh, it4s well within what they call our designated re- s)onsi!ilities. 6e figure we can catch u) to where the 6yoming Machine was in a!out six months. 6e4ll ha e to !e much more careful a!out sa!otage, of course. 7ut if the com)onents are o(ay, $ thin( the Machine will !e o(ay< %o((aido4s (ind of hard to get to. Then, when e erything is chec(ed and ready, we can as( the 6orld Machine Consortium if they4d li(e to gi e it a try. $f the crew is willing, $ !et you the Consortium will go along. 6hat do you thin(, .amagishisan59 .amagishi had not heard the Buestion. %e was softly singing 9Free-Fall9 to himselfC it was a current hit song full of i id detail a!out succum!ing to tem)tation in &arth or!it. %e did not (now all the words, he ex)lained when the Buestion was re)eated. Kn)ertur!ed, %adden continued. 9Now some of the com)onents will ha e !een s)un or dro))ed or something. 7ut in any case they4ll ha e to )ass the )rescri!ed tests. $ didn4t thin( that would !e enough to scare you off. "ersonally, $ mean.9 9"ersonally5 6hat ma(es you thin( $4m going5 No!ody4s as(ed me, for one thing, and there are a num!er of new factors.9 9The )ro!a!ility is ery high that the Selection Committee will as( you, and the "resident will !e for it &nthusiastically. C4mon,9 he said, grinning, 9you wanna s)end your whole life in

the stic(s59 $t was cloudy o er Scandina ia and the North Sea, and the &nglish Channel was co ered with a lacy, almost trans)arent, co!we! of fog., you go.9 .amagishi was on his feet, his hands stiffly at his sides. %e ga e her a dee) !ow. 9S)ea(ing for the twenty-two million em)loyees of the cor)orations $ control, ery nice to meet you.9 She do:ed fitfully in the slee)ing cu!icle they had assigned her. $t was tethered loosely to two walls so she would not, in the course of turning o er in :ero g, )ro)el herself against some o!stacle. She awo(e while e eryone else seemed to !e still aslee) and )ulled herself along a series of handholds until she found herself !efore the grand window. They were o er the night side. The &arth was in dar(ness exce)t for a )atchwor( and s)rin(le of light, the )luc(y attem)t of humans to com)ensate for the o)acity of the &arth when their hemis)here was a erted from the Sun. Twenty minutes later, at sunrise, she decided that, if they as(ed her, she would say yes. %adden came u) !ehind her, and she started Aust a little. 9$t loo(s great, $ admit. $4 e !een u) here for years and it still loo(s great. 7ut doesn4t it !other you that there4s a s)aceshi) around you5 See, there4s an ex)erience no one4s e er had yet. .ou4re in a s)ace suit, there4s no tether, no s)acecraft. May!e the Sun is !ehind you, and you4re surrounded on all sides !y stars. May!e the &arth is !elow you. Or may!e some other )lanet. $ (ind of fancy Saturn myself. There you are, floating in s)ace, li(e you really are one with the cosmos. S)ace suits nowadays ha e enough consuma!les to last you for hours. The s)acecraft that dro))ed you off could !e long gone. May!e they4ll rende: ous with you in an hour. May!e not. 9The !est would !e if the shi) wasn4t coming !ac(. .our last hours, surrounded !y s)ace and stars and worlds. $f you had an incura!le disease, or if you Aust wanted to gi e yourself a really nifty last indulgence, how could you to) that59 9.ou4re serious5 .ou want to mar(et this . . . scheme59 96ell, too soon to mar(et. May!e it4s not exactly the right way to go a!out it.

3et4s Aust say $4m thin(ing of feasi!ility testing.9 She decided that she would not tell %adden of her decision, and he did not as(. 3ater, as the Narnia was !eginning its rende: ous and doc(ing with Methuselah, %adden too( her aside. 96e were saying that .amagishi is the oldest )erson u) here. 6ell, if you tal( a!out )ermanently u) here-+ don4t mean staff and astronauts and dancing girls--$4m the young-est )erson u) here. $4 e got a ested interest in the answer, $ (now, !ut it4s a definite medical )ossi!ility that :ero g4ll (ee) me ali e for centuries. See, $4m engaged in an ex)eriment on immortality. 9Now, $4m not !ringing this u) so $ can !oast. $4m !ringing it u) for a )ractical reason. $f we4re figuring out ways to extend our lifes)ans, thin( of what those creatures on *ega must ha e done. They )ro!a!ly are immortal, or close enough. $4m a )ractical )erson, and $4 e thought a lot now a!out immortality. $4 e )ro!a!ly thought longer and more seriously a!out it than any!ody else. And $ can tell you one thing for sure a!out immortals< They4re ery careful. They don4t lea e things to chance. They4 e in ested too much effort in !ecoming immortal. $ don4t (now what they loo( li(e, $ don4t (now what they want from you, !ut if you e er get to see them, this is the only )iece of )ractical ad ice $ ha e for you< Something you thin( is dead cinch safe, they4ll consider an unacce)ta!le ris(. $f there4s any negotiating you get to do u) there, don4t forget what $4m telling you.9 C%A"T&# +; The >ream of the Ants %uman s)eech is li(e a crac(ed (ettle on which we ta) crude rhythms for !ears to dance to, while we long to ma(e music that will melt the stars. -'KSTA*& F3AK7&#T Madame 7o ary /+1,;2 "o)ular theology... is a massi e inconsistency deri ed from ignorance.... The gods exist !ecause nature herself has im)rinted a conce)tion of them on the minds of men. -C$C&#O >e Natura >eorum, $, +

&33$& 6AS in the midst of )ac(ing notes, magnetic ta)es, and a )alm frond for shi)ment to @a)an when she recei ed word that her mother had suffered a stro(e. $mmediately afterward, she was !rought a letter !y )roAect courier. $t was from @ohn Staughton, and there were no )olite )reliminaries< ??.our mother and $ would often discuss your deficiencies and shortcomings. $t was always a difficult con ersation. 6hen $ defended you /and, although you may not !elie e it, this ha))ened often2, she told me that $ was )utty in your hands. 6hen $ critici:ed you, she told me to mind my own !usiness.?? ??7ut $ want you to (now that your unwillingness to isit her in the last few years, since this *ega !usiness, was a source of continuing )ain to her. She would tell her cronies at that dreadful nursing home she insisted on going to that you4d !e isiting her soon. For years she told them that. 9Soon.9 She )lanned how she would show her famous daughter around, in what order she4d introduce you to that decre)it !unch.?? ??.ou )ro!a!ly won4t want to hear this, and $ tell it to you with sorrow. 7ut it4s for your own good. .our !eha ior was more )ainful to her than anything that e er ha))ened to her, e en your father4s death. .ou may !e a !ig shot now, your hologram a aila!le all o er the world, ho!no!!ing with )oliticians and so on, !ut as a human !eing, you ha en4t learned anything since high school. . .?? %er eyes welling with tears, she !egan to crum)le the letter and its en elo)e, !ut disco ered some stiff )iece of )a)er inside, a )artial hologram made from an old two-dimensional )hotogra)h !y a com)uter extra)olation techniBue. .ou had a faint !ut satisfactory sense of !eing a!le to see around edges and corners. $t was a )hoto she had ne er seen !efore. %er mother as a young woman, Buite lo ely, smiled out of the )icture, her aim casually dra)ed o er the shoulder of &llie4s father, who s)orted what seemed to !e a day4s growth of !eard. They !oth seemed radiantly ha))y. 6ith a surge of anguish, guilt, fury at Staughton, and a little self-)ity, &llie weighed the e ident reality that she would ne er

see either of the )eo)le in that )icture again. %er mother lay immo!ile in the !ed. %er ex)ression was oddly neutral, registering neither Aoy nor regret, merely... a (ind of waiting. %er only motion was an occasional !lin( of her eyes. 6hether she could hear or understand what &llie was saying was unclear. &llie thought a!out communications schemes. She couldn4t hel) itC the thought arose un!idden< one !lin( for yes, two !lin(s for no. Or hoo( u) an ence)halogra)h with a cathode ray tu!e that her mother could see, and teach her to modulate her !eta wa es. 7ut this was her mother, not Al)ha 3yrae, and what was called for here was not decry)tion algorithms !ut feeling. She held her mother4s hand and tal(ed for hours. She ram!led on a!out her mother and her father, her childhood. She recalled !eing a toddler among the newly washed sheets, !eing swe)t u) to the s(y. She tal(ed a!out @ohn Staughton. She a)ologi:ed for many things. She cried a little. %er mother4s hair was awry and, finding a !rush, she )rettified her. She examined the lined face and recogni:ed her own. %er mother4s eyes, dee) and moist, stared fixedly, with only an occasional !lin( into, it seemed, a great distance. 9$ (now where $ come from,9 &llie told her softly. Almost im)erce)ti!ly, her mother shoo( her head from side to side, as though she were regretting all those years in which she and her daughter had !een estranged. &llie ga e her mother4s hand a little sBuee:e and thought she felt one in return. %er mother4s life was not in danger, she was told. $f there was any change in her condition, they would call at once to her office in 6yoming. $n a few days, they would !e a!le to mo e her from the hos)ital !ac( to the nursing home, where the facilities, she was assured, were adeBuate. Staughton seemed su!dued, !ut with a de)th of feeling for her mother she had not guessed at. She would call often, she told him. The austere mar!le lo!!y dis)layed, )erha)s incongruously, a real statue--not a hologra)h--of a nude woman in the style of "raxiteles. They ascended in an Otis-%itachi ele ator, in which the second language was &nglish rather than !raille, and she found herself ushered through a large

!arn of a room in which )eo)le were huddled o er word )rocessors. A word would !e ty)ed in %iragana, the fifty-one-letter @a)anese )honetic al)ha!et, and on the screen would a))ear the corres)onding Chinese ideogram in 8anAi. There were hundreds of thousands of such ideograms, or characters, stored in the com)uter memories, although only three or four thousand were generally needed to read a news)a)er. 7ecause many characters of entirely different meanings were ex)ressed !y the same s)o(en word, all )ossi!le translations into 8anAi were )rinted out, in order of )ro!a!ility. The word )rocessor had a contextual su!routine in which the candidate characters were also Bueued according to the com)uter4s estimate of the intended meaning. $t was rarely wrong. $n a language which had until recently ne er had a ty)ewriter, the word )rocessor was wor(ing a communications re olution not fully admired !y traditionalists. $n the conference room they seated themsel es on low chairs--an e ident concession to 6estern tastes-around a low lacBuered ta!le, and tea was )oured. $n &llie4s field of iew, !eyond the window was the city of To(yo. She was s)ending much time !efore windows, she thought. The news)a)er was the Asahi Shim!un--the #ising Sun News--and she was interested to see that one of the )olitical re)orters was a woman, a rarity !y the standards of the American and So iet media. @a)an was engaged in a national reassessment of the role of women. Traditional male )ri ileges were !eing surrendered slowly in what seemed to !e an unre)orted strect-!y-strect !attle. @ust yesterday the )resident of a firm called Nanoelectronics had !emoaned to her that there wasn4t a 9girl9 in To(yo who still (new how to tie an o!i. As with cli)-on !ow ties, an easily donned simulacrum had ca)tured the mar(et. @a)anese women !ad !etter things to do than s)end half an hour e ery day wra))ing and tuc(ing. The re)orter was dressed in an austere !usiness suit, the hem falling to her cal es. To maintain security, no )ress isitors were )ermitted at the %o((aido Machine site. $nstead, when crew mem!ers or )roAect officials came to the main island of %onshu, they routinely scheduled a round of inter iews with the @a)anese and foreign news media. As always, the Buestions were familiar. #e)orters all o er the world had nearly the same a))roach to the Machine, if you made a few allowances for local

idiosyncrasies. 6as she )leased that, after the American and So iet 9disa))ointments,9 a Machine was !eing !uilt in @a)an5 >id she feel isolated in the northern island of %o((aido5 6as she concerned !ecause the Machine com)onents !eing used in %o((aido had !een tested !eyond the strictures of the Message5 7efore +0F,, this district of the city had !een owned !y the $m)erial Na y, and indeed, immediately adAacent she could see the roof of the Na al O!ser atory, its two sil er domes housing telesco)es still used for time(ee)ing and calendrical functions. They were gleaming in the noonday Sun. 6hy did the Machine include a dodecahedron and the three s)herical shells called !en:els5 .es, the re)orters understood that she didn4t (now. 7ut what did she thin(5 She ex)lained that on an issue of this sort it was foolish to ha e an o)inion in the a!sence of e idence. They )ersisted, and she )leaded the irtues of a tolerance for am!iguity. $f there was a real danger, should they send ro!ots instead of )eo)le, as a @a)anese artificial intelligence ex)ert had rec- ommended5 Are there any )ersonal effects she would !e ta(ing with her5 Any family )ictures5 Microcom)uters5 A Swiss Army (nife5 &llie noticed two figures emerge through a tra)door onto the roof of the near!y o!ser atory. Their faces were o!scured !y isors. They were gar!ed in the !lue-gray Builted armor of medie al @a)an. 7randishing wooden staffs taller than they were, they !owed one to another, )aused for a heart!eat, and then )ummeled and )arried for the next half hour. %er answers to the re)orters !ecame a little stiltedC she was mesmeri:ed !y the s)ectacle !efore her. No one else seemed to notice. The staffs must ha e !een hea y, !ecause the ceremonial com!at was slow, as if they were warriors from the ocean !ottom. %ad she (nown >r. 3unachars(y and >r. Su(ha ati for many years !efore the recei)t of the Message5 6hat a!out >r. &da5 Mr. Ni5 6hat did she thin( of them, their accom)lishments5 %ow well were the fi e of them getting on5 $ndeed, she mar eled to herself that she was a mem!er of such a select grou). 6hat were her im)ressions of the Buality of the @a)anese com)onents5 6hat could she say a!out the meeting the Fi e had had with &m)eror A(ihito5 6ere their discussions with Shinto and 7uddhist leaders )art of a general effort !y the Machine "roAect to gain the insights of world religious figures !efore the Machine was acti ated, or Aust a courtesy to @a)an as the host country5 >id she

thin( the de ice could !e a TroAan %orse or a >oomsday Machine5 $n her answers she tried to !e courteous, succinct, and noncontro ersial. The Machine "roAect )u!lic relations officer who had accom)anied her was isi!ly )leased. A!ru)tly the inter iew was o er. They wished her and her colleagues all success, the Managing &ditor said. They had e ery ex)ectation of inter iewing her when she returned. They ho)ed she would isit @a)an often afterward. %er hosts were smiling and !owing. The Builted warriors had retreated down the tra)door. She could see her security )eo)le, eyes darting, outside the now o)en door of the con- ference room. On the way out she as(ed the woman re)orter a!out the a))aritions from medie al @a)an. 9Oh yes,9 she re)lied. 9They are astronomers for the Coast 'uard. They )ractice 8endo at their lunch hour e ery day. .ou can set your watch !y them.9 Ni had !een !orn on the 3ong March, and had fought the 8uomintang as a youngster during the #e olution. %e ser ed as an intelligence officer in 8orea, rising e entually to a )osition of authority o er Chinese strategic technology. 7ut in the Cultural #e olution he was )u!licly humiliated and condemned to domestic exile, although later he was reha!ilitated with some fanfare. One of Ni4s crimes in the eyes of the Cultural #e olution had !een to admire some of the ancient Confucian irtues, and es)ecially one )assage from the 'reat 3earning, which for centuries !efore e ery Chinese with e en a rudimentary education (new !y heart. $t was u)on this )assage, Sun .at-sen had said, that his own re olutionary nationalist mo ement at the !eginning of the twentieth century was !ased< The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious irtue throughout the 8ingdom first ordered well their own states. 6ishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. 6ishing to regulate their families, they first culti ated their )ersons. 6ishing to culti ate their )ersons, they first rectified their hearts. 6ishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to !e sincere in then-thoughts. 6ishing to !e sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their (nowledge. Such extension of (nowledge lay in the in estigation of things. Thus, Ni !elie ed, the )ursuit of (nowledge was central for the well-!eing of China. 7ut the #ed 'uards had thought otherwise.

>uring the Cultural #e olution, Ni had !een consigned as a wor(er on an im)o erished collecti e farm in Ningxia "ro ince, near the 'reat 6all, a region with a rich Muslim tradition-where, while )lowing an un)romising field, he unco ered an intricately ornamented !ron:e helmet from the %an >ynasty. 6hen reesta!lished in the leadershi), he turned his attention from strategic wea)ons to arche-ology. The Cultural #e olution had attem)ted to se er a ,,HHH-year-old continuous Chinese cultural tradition. Ni4s res)onse was to hel) !uild !ridges to the nation4s )ast. $ncreasingly he de oted his attention to the exca ation of the underground funerary city of Nian. $t was there that the great disco ery had !een made of the terra-cotta army of the &m)eror after whom China itself was named. %is official name was Jin Shi %uangdi, !ut through the agaries of transliteration had come to !e widely (nown in the 6est as Ch4in. $n the third century 7.C., Jin unified the country, !uilt the 'reat 6all, and com)assionately decreed that u)on his death lifeli(e terracotta models !e su!stituted for the mem!ers of his entourage--soldiers, ser ants, and no!les--who, according to earlier tradition, would ha e !een !uried ali e with his !ody. The terra-cotta army was com)osed of ;,,HH soldiers, roughly a di ision. & ery one of them had distinct facial features. .ou could see that )eo)le from all o er China were re)resented. The &m)eror had welded many se)arate and warring )ro inces into one nation. A near!y gra e contained the almost )erfectly )reser ed !ody of the Marchioness of Tai, a minor functionary in the &m)eror4s court. The technology for )reser ing !odies--you could dearly see the se ere ex)ression on the face of the Marchioness, refined )erha)s from decades of dressing down the ser ants--was astly su)erior to that of ancient &gy)t. Jin had sim)lified the writing, codified the law, !uilt roads, com)leted the 'reat 6all, and unified the country. %e also confiscated wea)ons. 6hile he was accused of massacring scholars who critici:ed his )olicies, and !urning !oo(s !ecause some (nowledge was unsettling, !e maintained that he !ad eliminated endemic corru)tion and instituted )eace and order. Ni was reminded of the Cultural #e olution. %e imagined reconciling these conflicting tendencies in the heart of a single )erson. Jin4s arrogance had reached staggering )ro)ortions--to )unish a mountain that had offended him, he ordered

it denuded of egetation and )ainted red, the color worn !y condemned criminals. Jin was great, !ut he was also mad. Could you unify a collection of di erse and contentious nations without !eing a little mad5 .ou4d ha e to !e cra:y e en to attem)t it, Ni laughingly told &llie. 6ith increasing fascination, Ni had arranged for massi e exca ations at Nian. 'radually, he !ecame con inced that the &m)eror Jin himself was also lying in wait, )erfectly )reser ed, in some great tom! near the disinterred terracotta army. Near!y, according to ancient records, was also !uried under a great mound a detailed model of the nation of China in D+H 7.C., 6ith e ery tem)le and )agoda meticulously re)resented. The ri ers, it was said, were made of mercury, with the &m)eror4s !arge in miniature )er)etu-ally na igating his underground domain. 6hen the ground at Nian was found to !e contaminated with mercury, Ni4s excitement grew. Ni had unearthed a contem)orary account that descri!ed a great dome the &m)eror had commissioned to o erarch this miniature realm, called, li(e the real one, the Celestial 8ingdom. As written Chinese had hardly changed in D,DHH years, he was a!le to read the account directly, without !enefit of an ex)ert linguist. A chronicler from the time of Jin was s)ea(ing to Ni directly. Many nights Ni would )ut himself to slee) trying to en ision the great Mil(y 6ay that sundered the ault of the s(y in the domed tom! of the great &m)eror, and the night a!la:e with comets which had a))eared at his )assing to honor his memory. The search for Jin4s tom! and for his model of the uni erse had occu)ied Ni o er the last decade. %e had not found it yet, !ut his Buest !ad ca)tured the imagination of China. $t was said of him, 9There are a !illion )eo)le in China, !ut there is only one Ni.9 $n a nation slowly easing restraints on indi iduality, he was seen as exerting a constructi e influence. Jin, it was clear, had !een o!sessed !y immortality. The man who ga e his name to the most )o)ulous nation on &arth, the man who !uilt what was then the largest structure on the )lanet, was, )redicta!ly enough, afraid he would !e forgotten. So he caused more monumental structures to !e erectedC )reser ed, or re)roduced for the ages, the !odies and faces of his courtiersC !uilt his own still-elusi e tom! and world

modelC and sent re)eated ex)editions into the &astern Sea to see( the elixir of life. %e com)lained !itterly of the ex)ense as he launched each new oyage. One of these missions in ol ed scores of ocean-going Aun(s and a crew of -,HHH young men and women. They ne er returned, and their fate is un(nown. The water of immortality was una aila!le. @ust fifty years later, wet rice agriculture and iron metallurgy suddenly a))eared in @a)an--de elo)ments that )rofoundly altered the @a)anese economy and created a class of warrior aristocrats. Ni argued that the @a)anese name for @a)an clearly reflected the Chinese origin of @a)anese culture< The 3and of the #ising Sun. 6here would you ha e to !e standing, Ni as(ed, for the Sun to !e rising o er @a)an5 So the ery name of the daily news)a)er that &llie had Aust isited was, Ni )ro)osed, a reminder of the life and times of the &m)eror Jin. &llie thought that Jin made Alexander the 'reat a schoolyard !ully !y com)arison. 6ell, almost. $f Jin had !een o!sessed with immortality, Ni was o!sessed with Jin. &llie told him a!out her isit to Sol %ad-den in &arth or!it, and they agreed that were the &m)eror Jin ali e in the waning years of the twentieth century, &arth or!it is where he would !e. She introduced Ni to %adden !y ideo)hone and then left them to tal( alone. Ni4s excellent &nglish had !een honed during his recent in ol ement in the transfer of the Crown Colony of %ong 8ong to the Chinese "eo)le4s #e)u!lic. They were still tal(ing when the Methuselah set, and !ad to continue through the networ( of communications satellites in geosynchronous or!it. They must ha e hit it off. Soon after, %adden reBuested that the acti ation of the Machine !e synchroni:ed so that he would !eo erhead at that moment. %e wanted %o((aido in the focus of his telesco)e, he said, when the time came. 9>o 7uddhists !elie e in 'od, or not59 &llie as(ed on their way to ha e dinner with the A!!ot. 9Their )osition seems to !e,9 *aygay re)lied dryly, 9that their 'od is so great he doesn4t e en ha e to exist.9 As they s)ed through the countryside, they tal(ed a!out Ktsumi, the A!!ot of the most famous Len 7uddhist monastery in @a)an. A few years !efore, at ceremonies mar(ing the

fiftieth anni ersary of the destruction of %iroshima, Ktsumi had deli ered a s)eech that commanded worldwide attention. %e was well connected in @a)anese )olitical life, and ser ed as a (ind of s)iritual ad iser to the ruling )olitical )arty, !ut he s)ent most of his time in monastic and de otional acti ities. 9%is father was also the A!!ot of a 7uddhist monastery,9 Su(ha ad mentioned. &llie raised her eye!rows. 9>on4t loo( so sur)rised. Marriage was )ermitted to them, li(e the #ussian Orthodox clergy. $sn4t that right, *aygay59 9That was !efore my time,9 he said, a little distractedly. The restaurant was set in a gro e of !am!oo and was called Kngetsu--the Clouded MoonC and indeed there was a clouded moon in the early e ening s(y. Their @a)anese hosts had arranged that there !e no other guests. &llie and her com)anions remo ed their shoes and, )adding in their stoc(ing feet, entered a small dining room which loo(ed out on stal(s of !am!oo. The A!!ot4s head was sha ed, his garment a ro!e of !lac( and sil er. %e greeted them in )erfect colloBuial &nglish, and his Chinese, Ni later told her, turned out to !e )assa!le as well. The surroundings were restful, the con ersation lighthearted. &ach course was a small wor( of art, edi!le Aewels. She understood how nou elle cuisine had its origins in the @a)anese culinary tradition. $f the custom were to eat the food !lindfolded, she would ha e !een content. $f, instead, the delicacies were !rought out only to !e admired and ne er to !e eaten, she would also ha e !een content. To loo( and eat !oth was an intimation of hea en. &llie was seated across from the A!!ot and next to 3u-nachars(y. Others inBuired a!out the s)ecies--or at least the (ingdom--of this or that morsel. 7etween the sushi and the gin(go nuts, the con ersation turned, after a fashion, to the mission. 97ut why do we communicate59 the A!!ot as(ed. ?To exchange information,9 re)lied 3unachars(y, seemingly de oting full attention to his recalcitrant cho)stic(s. 97ut why do we wish to exchange information59 97ecause we feed on information. $nformation is necessary for our sur i al

6ithout information we die.9 3unachars(y was inteat on a gin(go nut that sli))ed off his cho)stic(s each time !e attem)ted to raise it to his mouth. %e lowered his head to meet the cho)stic(s halfway. 9$ !elie e,9 continued the A!!ot, 9that we communicate out of lo e or com)assion.9 %e reached with his fingers for one of his own gin(go nuts and )laced it sBuarely in his mouth. 9Then you thin(,9 she as(ed, 9that the Machine is an instrument of com)assion5 .ou thin( there is no ris(59 9$ can communicate with a flower,9 he went on as if in res)onse. 9$ can tal( to a stone. .ou would ha e no difficulty understanding the !eings--that is the )ro)er word5--of some other world.9 9$ am )erfectly )re)ared to !elie e that the stone communicates to you,9 3unachars(y said, chewing on the gin(go nut. %e had followed the A!!ot4s exam)le. 97ut $ wonder a!out you communicating to the stone. %ow would you con ince us that you can communicate with a stone5 The world is full of error. %ow do you (now you are not decei ing yourself59 9Ah, scientific s(e)ticism.9 The A!!ot flashed a smile that &llie found a!solutely winningC it was innocent, almost childli(e. 9To communicate with a stone, you must !ecome much less . . . )reoccu)ied. .ou must not do so much thin(ing, so much tal(ing. 6hen $ say $ communicate with a stone, $ am not tal(ing a!out words. The Christians say. ?$n the !eginning was the 6ord.4 7ut $ am tal(ing a!out a communication much earlier, much more fundamental than that.9 9$t4s only the 'os)el of Saint @ohn that tal(s a!out the 6ord,9 &llie commented-a little )edantically, she thought as soon as the words were out of her mouth. ?The earlier Syno)tic 'os)els say nothing a!out it. $t4s really an accretion from 'ree( )hiloso)hy. 6hat (ind of )re er!al communication do you mean59 9.our Buestion is made of words. .ou as( me to use words to descri!e what has nothing to do with words. 3et me see. There is a @a)anese story called The >ream of the Ants.4 $t

is set in the 8ingdom of the Ants. $t is a long story, and $ will not tell it to you now. 7ut the )oint of the story is this< To understand the language of the ants, you must !ecome an ant.9 9The language of the ants is in fact a chemical language,9 said 3unachars(y, eyeing the A!!ot (eenly. 9They lay down s)ecific molecular traces to indicate the )ath they ha e ta(en to find food. To understand the language of the ants, $ need a gas chromatogra)h, or a mass s)ectrometer. $ do not need to !ecome an ant.9 9"ro!a!ly, that is the only way you (now to !ecome an ant,9 returned the A!!ot, loo(ing at no one in )articular. ?Tell me, why do )eo)le study the signs left !y the ants59 96ell,9 &llie offered, 9$ guess an entomologist would say it4s to understand the ants and ant society. Scientists ta(e )leasure in understanding.9 9That is only another way of saying that they lo e the ants.9 She su))ressed a small shudder., !ut those who fund the entomologists say something else. They say it4s to control the !eha ior of ants, to ma(e them lea e a house they4 e infested, say, or to understand the !iology of soil for agriculture. $t might )ro ide an alternati e to )esticides. $ guess you could say there4s some lo e of the ants in that,9 &llie mused. 97ut it4s also in our self-interest,9 said 3unachars(y. ?The )esticides are )oisonous to us as well.9 96hy are you tal(ing a!out )esticides in the midst of such a dinner59 shot Su(ha ati from across the ta!le. 96e will dream the dream of the ants another time,9 the A!!ot said softly to &llie, flashing again that )erfect, untrou!led smile. #eshod with the aid of meter-long shoehorns, they a))roached their small fleet of automo!iles, while the ser ing women and )ro)rietress smiled and !owed ceremoniously. &llie and Ni watched the A!!ot enter a limousine with some of their @a)anese hosts.

9$ as(ed him, $f he could tal( with a stone, could he communicate with the dead59 Ni told her. 9And what did he say59 9%e said the dead were easy. %is difficulties were with the li ing.9 C%A"T&# +1 Su)erunification A rough seaP Stretched out o er Sado The Mil(y 6ay. -MATSKO 7AS%O /+GFF-0F2 "oem "&#%A"S T%&. had chosen %o((aido !ecause of its ma eric( re)utation. The climate reBuired construction techniBues that were highly uncon entional !y @a)anese standards, and this island was also the home of the Ainu, the hairy a!original )eo)le still des)ised !y many @a)anese. 6inters were as se ere as the ones in Minnesota or 6yoming. %o((aido )osed certain logistical difficulties, !ut it was out of the way in case of a catastro)he, !eing )hysically se)arated from the other @a)anese islands. $t was !y no means isolated, howe er, now that the fifty-one-(ilometer-long tunnel connecting it with %onshu had !een com)letedC it was the longest su!marine tunnel in the world. %o((aido had seemed safe enough for the testing of indi idual Machine com)onents. 7ut concern had !een ex)ressed a!out actually assem!ling the Machine in %o((aido. This was, as the mountains that surrounded the facility !ore eloBuent testimony, a region surging with recent olcanism. One mountain was growing at the rate of a meter a day. & en the So iets--Sa(halin $sland was only forty-three (ilometers away, across the Soya, or 3a "Qrouse Strait--had oiced some misgi ings on this score. 7ut in for a (o)e(, in for a ru!le. For all they (new, e en a Machine !uilt on the far side of the Moon could !low u) the &arth when acti ated. The decision to !uild the Machine was the (ey fact in assessing dangersC where the thing was !uilt was an entirely secondary consideration. 7y early @uly, the Machine was once again ta(ing sha)e. $n America, it was still em!roiled in)olitical and sectarian contro ersyC and there were a))arently serious technical )ro!lems with the So iet Machine. 7ut here--in a facility much more modest than that in 6yoming--the dowels had !een

mounted and the dodecahedron com)leted, although no )u!lic announcement had !een made. The ancient "ythagoreans, who first disco ered the dodecahedron, had declared its ery existence a secret, and the )enalties for disclosure were se ere. So )erha)s it was only fitting that this house-si:ed dodecahedron, halfway around the world and D,GHH years later, was (nown only to a few. The @a)anese "roAect >irector had decreed a few days4 rest for e eryone. The nearest city of any si:e was O!ihiro, a )retty )lace at the confluence of the .u!etsu and To(a-chi ri ers. Some went to s(i on stri)s of unmelted snow on Mount AsahiC others to dam thermal streams with a ma(eshift roc( wall, warming themsel es with the decay of radioacti e elements coo(ed in some su)erno a ex)losion !illions of years !efore. A few of the )roAect )ersonnel went to the 7am!a races, in which massi e draft horses )ulled hea y !allasted sledges o er )arallel stri)s of farmland. 7ut for a serious cele!ration, the Fi e flew !y helico)ter to Sa))oro, the largest city on %o((aido, situated less than DHH (ilometers away. "ro)itiously enough, they arri ed in time for the Tana-!ata Festi al. The security ris( was considered small, !ecause it was the Machine itself much more than these fi e )eo)le that was essential for the success of the )roAect. They had undergone no s)ecial training, !eyond thorough study of the Message, the Machine, and the miniaturi:ed instruments they would ta(e with them. $n a rational world, they would !e easy to re)lace, &llie thought, although the )olitical im)ediments in selecting fi e humans acce)ta!le to all mem!ers of the 6orld Machine Consortium had !een considera!le. Ni and *aygay had 9unfinished !usiness,9 they said, which could not !e com)leted exce)t o er sa(e. So she, >e i Su(ha ati, and A!onne!a &da found themsel es guided !y their @a)anese hosts along one of the side streets of the Odori "romenade, )ast ela!orate dis)lays of )a)er streamers and lanterns, )ictures of lea es, turtles, and ogres, and a))ealing cartoon re)resentations of a young man and woman in medie al costume. 7etween two !uildings was stretched a large )iece of sailcloth on which had !een )ainted a )eacoc( ram)ant. She glanced at &da in his flowing, em!roidered linen ro!e and high stiff ca), and at Su(ha ati in another stun- ning sil( sari, and delighted in the com)any. The @a)anese Machine had so

far )assed all the )rescri!ed tests, and a crew had !een agreed u)on that was not merely re)resentati e--if im)erfectly--of the )o)ulation of the )lanet, !ut which included genuine indi iduals not stam)ed out !y the official coo(ie cutters of fi e nations. & ery one of them was in some sense a re!el. &da, for instance. %ere he was, the great )hysicist, the disco erer of what was called su)erunification-one elegant theory, which included as s)ecial cases )hysics that ran the gamut from gra itation to Buar(s. $t was an achie ement com)ara!le to $saac Newton4s or Al!ert &instein4s, and &da was !eing com)ared to !oth. %e had !een !orn a Muslim in Nigeria, not unusual in itself, !ut he was an adherent of an unorthodox $slamic faction called the Ahmadiyah, which encom)assed the Sufis. The Sufis, he ex)lained after the e ening with A!!ot Ktsumi, were to $slam what Len was to 7uddhism. Ahmadiyah )roclaimed 9a @ihad of the )en, not the sword.9 >es)ite his Buiet, indeed hum!le demeanor, &da was a fierce o))onent of the more con entional Muslim conce)t of @ihad, holy war, and argued instead for the most igorous free exchange of ideas. $n this he was an em!arrassment for much of conser ati e $slam, and o))osition to his )artici)ation in the Machine crew had !een made !y some $slamic nations. Nor were they alone. A !lac( No!el laureate--said occasionally to !e the smartest )erson on &arth--)ro ed too much for some who had mas(ed their racism as a concession to the new social amenities. 6hen &da isited Tyrone Free in )rison four years earlier, there was a mar(ed u)surge in )ride among !lac( Americans, and a new role model for the young. &da !rought out the worst in the racists and the !est in e eryone else. 9The time necessary to do )hysics is a luxury,9 he told &llie. ?There are many )eo)le who could do the same if they had the same o))ortunity. 7ut if you must search the streets for food, you will not ha e enough time for )hysics. $t is my o!ligation to im)ro e conditions for young scientists in my country.9 As he had slowly !ecome a national hero in Nigeria, he s)o(e out increasingly a!out corru)tion, a!out an unfair sense of entitlement, a!out the im)ortance ? of honesty in science and e erywhere else, a!out how great a nation Nigeria could !e. $t had as many )eo)le as the Knited States in the +0DHs, he said. $t was rich in resources, and its many cultures were a strength. $f Nigeria could o ercome its )ro!lems,

he argued, it would !e a !eacon for the rest of the world. See(ing Buiet and isolation in all other things, on these issues he s)o(e out. Many Nigerian men and women--Muslims, Christians, and Animists, the young !ut not only the young-too( his ision seriously. Of &da4s many remar(a!le traits, )erha)s the most stri(ing was his modesty. %e rarely offered o)inions. %is answers to most direct Buestions were laconic. Only in his writings--or in s)o(en language after you (new him well--did you glim)se his de)th. Amidst all the s)eculation a!out the Message and the Machine and what would ha))en after its acti ation, &da had olunteered only one comment< $n Mo:am!iBue, the story goes, mon(eys do not tal(, !ecause they (now if they utter e en a single word some man will come and )ut them to wor(. 6ith such a olu!le crew it was strange to ha e someone as taciturn as &da. 3i(e many others, &llie )aid es)ecial attention to e en his most casual utterances. %e would descri!e as 9foolish errors9 his earlier, only )artly successful ersion of su)erunification. The man was in his thirties and, &llie and >e i had )ri ately agreed, de astatingly attracti e. %e was also, she (new, ha))ily married to one wifeC she and their children were in 3agos at the moment. A stand of !am!oo cuttings that had !een )lanted for such occasions was adorned, festooned, indeed weighed down with thousands of stri)s of colored )a)er. .oung men and women es)ecially could !e seen augmenting the strange foliage. The Tana!ata Festi al is uniBue in @a)an for its cele!ration of lo e. #e)resentations of the central story were dis)layed on multi)aneled signs and in a )erformance on a ma(eshift outdoor stage< Two stars were G+ lo e, !ut se)arated !y the Mil(y 6ay. Only once a year, on the se enth day of the se enth month of the lunar calendar, could the lo ers contri e to meet--)ro ided it did not rain. &llie loo(ed u) at the crystalline !lue of this al)ine s(y and wished the lo ers well. The young man star, the legend went, was a @a)anese sort of cow!oy, and was re)resented !y the A; dwarf star Altair. The young woman was a wea er, and re)resented !y *ega. $t seemed odd to &llie that *ega should !e central to a @a)anese festi al a few months !efore Machine acti ation. 7ut if you sur ey enough cultures, you will )ro!a!ly find interesting legends a!out e ery !right star in the s(y. The legend was of Chinese origin, and

had !een alluded to !y Ni when she had heard him years ago at the first meeting of the 6orld Message Consortium in "aris. $n most of the !ig cities, the Tana!ata Festi al was dying. Arranged marriages had ceased to !e the norm, and the anguish of the se)arated lo ers no longer struc( so res)onsi e a chord as it once had. 7ut in a few )laces--Sa))oro, Sendai, a few others--the Festi al - grew more )o)ular each year. $n Sa))oro it had a s)ecial )oignancy !ecause of the still wides)read outrage at @a)anese-Ainu marriages. There was an entire cottage industry of detecti es on the island who would, for a fee, in estigate the relati es and antecedents of )ossi!le s)ouses for your children. Ainu ancestry was still held to !e a ground for summary reAection. >e i, remem!ering her young hus!and of many years !efore, was es)ecially scathing. &da dou!tless had heard a story or two along the same line, !ut he was silent. The Tana!ata Festi al in the %onshu city of Sendai was now a sta)le on @a)anese tele ision for )eo)le who now could rarely see the real Altair or *ega. She wondered if the *egans would continue !roadcasting the same Message to the &arth fore er. "artly !ecause the Machine was !eing com)leted in @a)an, it recei ed considera!le attention in the tele ision commentary accom)anying this year4s Tana!ata Festi al. 7ut the Fi e, as they were now sometimes called, had not !een reBuired to a))ear on @a)anese tele ision, and their )resence here in Sa))oro for the Festi al was not generally (nown. Ne ertheless, &da, Su(ha ati, and she were readily recogni:ed, and they made their way !ac( to the O!ori "romenade to the accom)animent of )olite scattered a))lause !y )assers!y. Many also !owed. A louds)ea(er outside a music sho) !lared a roc(and-roll )iece that &llie recogni:ed. $t was 9$ 6anna #icochet Off .ou,9 !y the !lac( musical grou) 6hite Noise. $n the afternoon sun was a rheumy-eyed, elderly dog, which, as she a))roached, wagged its tail fee!ly. @a)anese commentators tal(ed of Machindo, the 6ay of the Machine--the increasingly common )ers)ecti e of the &arth as a )lanet and of all humans sharing an eBual sta(e in its future. Something li(e it had !een )roclaimed in some, !ut !y no means all, religions. "ractitioners of those religions understanda!ly resented the insight !eing attri!uted to an alien Machine. $f the acce)tance of a new insight on our )lace in

the uni erse re)resents a religious con ersion, she mused, then a theological re olution was swee)ing the &arth. & en the American and &uro)ean chiliasts had !een influenced !y Machindo. 7ut if the Machine didn4t wor( and the Message went away, how long, she wondered, would the insight last5 & en if we had made some mista(e in inter)retation or construction, she thought, e en if we ne er understood anything more a!out the *egans, the Message demonstrated !eyond a shadow of a dou!t that there were other !eings in the uni erse, and that they were more ad anced than we. That should hel) (ee) the )lanet unified for a while, she thought. She as(ed &da if he had e er had a transforming religious ex)erience.,9 he said. 96hen59 Sometimes you !ad to encourage him to tal(. 96hen $ first )ic(ed u) &uclid. Also when $ first understood Newtonian gra itation. And Maxwell4s eBuations, and general relati ity. And during my wor( on su)erunifi-cation. $ ha e !een fortunate enough to ha e had many religious ex)eriences.9 9No,9 she returned. 9.ou (now what $ mean. A)art from science.9 9Ne er,9 he re)lied instantly. 9Ne er a)art from science.9 %e told her a little of the religion he had !een !orn into. %e did not consider himself !ound !y all its tenets, he said, !ut he was comforta!le with it. %e thought it could do much good. $t was a com)arati ely new sect--contem)oraneous with Christian Science or the @eho ah4s 6itnesses-founded !y Mir:a 'hulam Ahmad in the "unAa!. >e i a))arently (new something a!out the Ahmadiyah as a )roselyti:ing sect. $t had !een es)ecially successful in 6est Africa. The origins of the religion were wra))ed in escha-tology. Ahmad had claimed to !e the Mahdi, the figure Muslims ex)ect to a))ear at the end of the world. %e also claimed to !e Christ come again, an incarnation of 8rishna, and a !uru:, or rea))earance of Mohammed. Christian chiliasm had now infected the Ahmadiyah, and his rea))earance was imminent according to some of the faithful. The year DHH1, the centenary of Ahmad4s death, was now a fa ored date for his Final #eturn as Mahdi. The glo!al messianic fer or, while s)uttering, seemed on a erage to !e swelling still further, and

&llie confessed concern a!out the irrational )redilections of the human s)ecies. 9At a Festi al of 3o e,9 said >e i, 9you should not !e such a )essimist.9 $n Sa))oro there had !een an a!undant snowfall, and the local custom of ma(ing snow and ice scul)tures of animals and mythological figures was u)dated. An immense dodecahedron had !een meticulously car ed and was shown regularly, as a (ind of icon, on the e ening news. After unseasona!ly warm days, the ice scul)tors could !e seen )ac(ing, chi))ing, and grinding, re)airing the damage. That the acti ation of the Machine might, one way or another, trigger a glo!al a)ocaly)se was a fear now often !eing oiced. The Machine "roAect res)onded with confident guarantees to the )u!lic, Buiet assurances to the go ernments, and decrees to (ee) the acti ation time secret. Some scientists )ro)osed acti ation on No em!er +;, an e ening on which was )redicted the most s)ectacular meteor shower of the century. An agreea!le sym!olism, they said. 7ut *alerian argued that if the Machine was to lea e the &arth at that moment, ha ing to fly through a cloud of cometary de!ris would )ro ide an additional and unnecessary ha:ard. So acti ation was )ost)oned for a few wee(s, until the end of the last month of nineteen hundred and anything. 6hile this date was not literally the Turn of the Millennium, !ut a year !efore, cele!rations on a la ish scale were )lanned !y those who could not !e !othered to understand the calendrical con entions, or who wished to cele!rate the coming of the Third Millennium in two consecuti e >ecem!ers. Although the extraterrestrials could not ha e (nown how much each crew mem!er weighed, they s)ecified in )ainsta(ing detail the mass of each machine com)onent and the total )ermissi!le mass. *ery little was left o er for eBui)ment of terrestrial design. This fact had some years !efore !een used as an argument for an all-woman crew, so that the eBui)ment allowance could !e increasedC !ut the suggestion had !een reAected as fri olous. There was no room for s)ace suits. They would ha e to ho)e the *egans would remem!er that humans had a )ro)ensity for !reathing oxygen. 6ith irtually no eBui)ment of their own, with their cultural differences and their un(nown destination, it was clear that the mission might entail great ris(. The world )ress discussed it oftenC the Fi e themsel es, ne er.

A ariety of miniature cameras, s)ectrometers, su)erconducting su)ercom)uters, and microfilm li!raries were !eing urged on the crew. $t made sense and it didn4t ma(e sense. There were no slee)ing or coo(ing or toilet facilities on !oard the Machine. They were ta(ing only a minimum of )ro isions, some of them stuffed in the )oc(ets of their co eralls. >e i was to carry a rudimentary medical (it. As far as she was concerned, &llie thought, she was !arely )lanning to !ring a tooth!rush and a change of underwear. $f they can get me to *ega in a chair, she thought, they4ll )ro!a!ly !e a!le to )ro ide the amenities as well. $f she needed a camera, she told )roAect officials, she4d Aust as( the *egans for one. There was a !ody of o)inion, a))arently serious, that the Fi e should go na(edC since clothing had not !een s)ecified it should not !e included, !ecause it might somehow distur! the functioning of the Machine. &llie and >e i, among many others, were amused, and noted that there was no )roscri)tion against wearing clothing, a )o)ular human custom e ident in the Olym)ic !roadcast. The *egans (new we wore clothes, Ni and *aygay )rotested. The only restrictions were on total mass. Should we also extract dental wor(, they as(ed, and lea e eyeglasses !e!ind5 Their iew carried the day, in )art !ecause of the reluctance of many nations to !e associated with a )roAect culminating so indecorously. 7ut the de!ate generated a little raw humor among the )ress, the technicians, and the Fi e. 9For that matter,9 3unachars(y said, 9it doesn4t actually s)ecify that human !eings are to go. May!e they would find fi e chim)an:ees eBually acce)ta!le.9 & en a single two-dimensional )hotogra)h of an alien machine could !e in alua!le, she was told. And imagine a )icture of the ahens themsel es. 6ould she )lease reconsider and !ring a camera5 >er %eer, who was now on %o((aido with a large American delegation, told her to !e serious. The sta(es were too high, he said, for--!ut she cut him short with a loo( so withering that he could not com)lete the sentence. $n her mind, she (new what he was going to say--for childish !eha ior. Ama:ingly, der %eer was acting as if he had !een the inAured )arty in their relationshi). She descri!ed it all to >e i, who was not fully sym)athetic. >er %eer, she said, was 9 ery sweet.9 & entually, &llie agreed to ta(e an ultraminiaturi:ed ideo camera. $n the manifest that the )roAect reBuired, under 9"ersonal &ffects,9 she listed

9Frond, )alm, H.1++ (ilograms.9 >er %eer was sent to reason with her. 9.ou (now there4s a s)lendid infrared imaging system you can carry along for two-thirds of a (ilogram. 6hy would you want to ta(e the !ranch of a tree59 9A frond. $t4s a )alm frond. $ (now you grew u) in New .or(, !ut you must (now what a )alm tree is. $t4s all in l anhoe. >idn4t you read it in high school5 At the time of the Crusades, )ilgrims who made the long Aourney to the %oly 3and too( !ac( a )alm frond to show they4d really !een there. $t4s to (ee) my s)irits u). $ don4t care how ad anced they are. The &arth is my %oly 3and. $4ll !ring a frond to them to show them where $ came from.9 >er %eer only shoo( his head. 7ut when she descri!ed her reasons to *aygay, he said, ?This +. understand ery well.9 &llie remem!ered *aygay4s concerns and the story he had told her in "aris a!out the drosh(y sent to the im)o erished illage. 7ut this was not her worry at all. The )alm frond ser ed another )ur)ose, she reali:ed. She needed something to remind her of &arth. She was afraid she might !e tem)ted not to come !ac(. The day !efore the Machine was to !e acti ated she recei ed a small )ac(age that had !een deli ered !y hand to her a)artment on the site in 6yoming and transshi))ed !y courier. There was no return address and, inside, no note and no signature. The )ac(age held a gold medallion on a chain. Concei a!ly, it could !e used as a )endulum. An inscri)tion had !een engra ed on !oth sides, small !ut reada!le. One side read %era, su)er! Jueen 6ith the golden ro!es, Commanded Argus, 6hose glances !ristle Out through the world. On the o! erse, she read< ??This is the res)onse of the defenders of S)arta to the Commander of the #oman Army< 9$f you are a god, you will not hurt those who ha e ne er inAured you. $f you are a man, ad ance--and you will find men eBual to yourself.9 And women.?? She (new who had sent it. Next day, Acti ation >ay, they too( an o)inion )oll of the senior staff on what would ha))en. Most thought

nothing would ha))en, that the Machine would not wor(. A smaller num!er !elie ed that the Fi e would somehow find themsel es ery Buic(ly in the *ega system, relati ity to the contrary notwithstanding. Others suggested, ariously, that the Machine was a ehicle for ex)loring the solar system, the most ex)ensi e )ractical Ao(e in history, a classroom, a time machine, or a galactic tele)hone !ooth. One scientist wrote< 9Fi e ery ugly re)lacements with green scales and shar) teeth will slowly materiali:e in the chairs.9 This was the closest to the TroAan %orse scenario in any of the res)onses. Another, !ut only one, read 9>oomsday Machine.9 There was a ceremony of sorts. S)eeches were made, food and drin( were ser ed. "eo)le hugged one another. Some cried Buietly. Only a few were o)enly s(e)tical. .ou could sense that if anything at ail ha))ened on Acti ation the res)onse would !e thunderous. There was an intimation of Aoy in many faces. &llie managed to call the nursing home and wish her mother good!ye. She s)o(e the word into the mouth)iece on %o((aido, and in 6isconsin the identical sound was generated. 7ut there was no res)onse. %er mother was reco ering some motor functions on her stric(en side, the nurse told her. Soon she might !e a!le to s)ea( a few words. 7y the time the call had !een com)leted, &llie was feeling almost lighthearted. The @a)anese technicians were wearing hachima(i, cloth !ands around their heads, that were traditionally donned in )re)aration for mental, )hysical, or s)iritual effort, es)ecially com!at. "rinted on the head!and was a con entional )roAection of the ma) of the &arth. No single nation held a dominant )osition. There had not !een much in the way of national !riefings. As far as she could tell, no one had !een urged to rally round the flag. National leaders sent short statements on ideota)e. The "resident4s was es)ecially fine, &llie thought< 9This is not a !riefing, and not a farewell. $t4s Aust a so long. &ach of you ma(es this Aourney on !ehalf of a !illion souls. .ou re)resent all the )eo)les of the )lanet &arth. $f you are to !e trans)orted to somewhere else, then see for all of us--not Aust the science, !ut e erything you can learn. .ou re)resent the entire human s)ecies, )ast, )resent, and future. 6hate er ha))ens, your )lace in history is secure. .ou are heroes of our )lanet. S)ea( for all of us. 7e wise. And . .. come !ac(.9

A few hours later, for the first time, they entered the Machine--one !y one, through a small airloc(. #ecessed interior lights, ery low-(ey, came on. & en after the Machine had !een com)leted and had )assed e ery )rescri!ed test, they were afraid to ha e the Fi e ta(e their )laces )rematurely. Some )roAect )ersonnel worried that merely sitting down might induce the Machine to o)erate, e en if the !en:els were stationary. 7ut here they were, and nothing extraordinary was ha))ening so far. This was the first moment she was a!le to lean !ac(, a little gingerly to !e sure, into the molded and cushioned )lastic. She had wanted chint:C chint: sli)co ers would ha e !een )erfect for these chairs. 7ut e en this, she disco ered, was a matter of national )ride. The )lastic seemed more modern, more scientific, more serious. 8nowing of *aygay4s careless smo(ing ha!its, they had decreed that no cigarettes could !e carried on !oard the Machine. 3unachars(y had uttered fluent maledictions in ten languages. Now he entered after the others, ha ing finished his last 3uc(y Stri(e. %e whee:ed Aust a little as he sat down !eside her. There were no seat !elts in the design ex- tracted from the Message, so there were none in the Machine. Some )roAect )ersonnel had argued, ne ertheless, that it was foolhardy to omit them. The Machine goes somewhere, she thought. $t was a means of con eyance, an a)erture to elsewhere . . . or elsewhen. $t was a freight train !arreling and wailing into the night. $f you had clim!ed a!oard, it could carry you out of the stifling )ro incial towns of your childhood, to the great crystal cities. $t was disco ery and esca)e and an end to loneliness. & ery logistical delay in manufacture and e ery dis)ute o er the )ro)er inter)retation of some su!codicil of the instructions had )lunged her into des)air. $t was not glory she was see(ing . . . not mainly, not much . . . !ut instead a (ind of li!eration. She was a wonder Aun(ie. $n her mind, she was a hill tri!esman standing slac(Aawed !efore the real $shtar 'ate of ancient 7a!ylonC >orothy catching her first glim)se of the aulted s)ires of the &merald City of O:C a small !oy from dar(est 7roo(lyn )lun(ed down in the Corridor of Nations of the +0-0 6orld4s Fair, the Trylon and "eris)here !ec(oning in the distanceC she was "ocahontas sailing u) the Thames estuary with 3ondon s)read out !efore her from hori:on to hori:on.

%er heart sang in antici)ation. She would disco er, she was sure, what else is )ossi!le, what could !e accom)lished !y other !eings, great !eings--!eings who had, it seemed li(ely, !een oyaging !etween the stars when the ancestors of humans were still !rachiating from !ranch to !ranch in the da))led sunlight of the forest cano)y. >rumlin, li(e many others she had (nown o er the years, had called her an incura!le romanticC and she found herself wondering again why so many )eo)le thought it some em!arrassing disa!ility. %er romanticism had !een a dri ing force in her life and a fount of delights. Ad ocate and )ractitioner of romance, she was off to see the 6i:ard. A status re)ort came through !y radio. There were no a))arent malfunctions, so far as could !e detected with the !attery of instrumentation that had !een set u) exterior to the Machine. Their main wait was for the e acuation of the s)ace !etween and around the !en:els. A system of extraordinary efficiency was )um)ing out the air to attain the highest acuum e er reached on &arth. She dou!lechec(ed the stowage of her ideo microcamera system and ga e the )alm frond a )at. "owerful lights on the exterior of the dodecahedron had turned on. Two of the s)herical shells had now s)un u) to what the Message had defined as critical s)eed. They were already a !lur to those watching outside. The third !en:el would !e there in a minute. A strong electrical charge was !uilding u). 6hen all three s)herical shells with their mutually )er)endicular axes were u) to s)eed, the Machine would !e acti ated. Or so the Message had said. Ni4s face showed fierce determination, she thoughtC 3unachars(y4s a deli!erate calmC Su(ha ati4s eyes were o)en wideC &da re ealed only an attitude of Buiet attenti eness. >e i caught her glance and smiled. She wished she had had a child. $t was her last thought !efore the walls flic(ered and !ecame trans)arent and, it seemed, the &arth o)ened u) and swallowed her. "A#T $$$ T%& 'A3AN. So $ wal( on u)lands un!ounded, and (now that there is ho)e for that which Thou didst mold out of dust to ha e consort with things eternal.

--The >ead Sea Scrolls C%A"T&# +0 Na(ed Singularity ...mount to )aradise 7y the stairway of sur)rise. - #A3"% 6A3>O &M&#SON 9Merlin,9 "oems /+1F;2 $t is not im)ossi!le that to some infinitely su)erior !eing the whole uni erse may !e as one )lain, the distance !etween )lanet and )lanet !e ing ?only as the )ores in a grain of sand, and the s)aces !etween system and system no greater than the inter als !etween one grain and the grain adAacent. - SAMK&3 TA.3O# CO3&#$>'& Omniania T%&. 6&#& falling. The )entagonal )anels of the dodecahedron had !ecome trans)arent. So had the roof and the floor. A!o e and !elow she could ma(e out the organosilicate lacewor( and the im)lanted er!ium dowels, which seemed to !e stirring. All three !en:els had disa))eared. The dodecahedron )lunged, racing down a long dar( tunnel Aust !road enough to )ermit its )assage. The acceleration seemed somewhere around one g. As a result, &llic, facing forward, was )ressed !ac(ward in her chair, while >e i, o))osite her, was !ending slightly at the waist. "erha)s they should ha e added seat !elts. $t was hard not to entertain the thought that they had )lunged into the mantle of the &arth, !ound for its core of molten iron. Or may!e they were on their way straight to... She tried to imagine this im)ro!a!le con eyance as a ferry!oat u)on the #i er Styx. There was a texture to the tunnel walls, from which she could sense their s)eed. The )atterns were irregular soft-edged mottlings, nothing with a well-defined form. The walls were not memora!le for their a))earance, only for their function. & en a few hundred (ilometers !eneath the &arth4s surface the roc(s would !e glowing with red heat. There was no hint of that. No minor demons were managing the traffic, and no cu)!oards with Aars of marmalade were in e idence.

& ery now and then a forward ertex of the dodecahedron would !rush the wall, and fla(es of an un(nown material would !e scra)ed off. The dodec itself seemed unaffected. Soon, Buite a cloud of fine )articles was following them. & ery time the dodecahedron touched the wall, she could sense an undulation, as if something soft had retreated to lessen the im)act. The faint yellow lighting was diffuse, uniform. Occasionally the tunnel would swer e gently, and the dodec would o!ligingly follow the cur ature. Nothing, so far as she could see, was headed towardthem. At these s)eeds, e en a collision with a s)arrow would )roduce a de astating ex)losion. Or what if this was anendless fall into a !ottomless well5 She could feel a continuous )hysical anxiety in the )it of her stomach. & en so, she entertained no second thoughts. 7lac( hole, she thought. 7lac( hole. $4m falling through the e ent hori:on of a !lac( hole toward the dread singularity. Or may!e this isn4t a !lac( hole and $4m headed toward a na(ed singularity. That4s what the )hysicists called it, a na(ed singularity. Near a singularity, causality could !e iolated, effects could )recede causes, time could flow !ac(ward, and you were unli(ely to sur i e, much less remem!er the ex)erience. For a rotating !lac( hole, she dredged u) from her studies years !efore, there was not a )oint !ut a ring singularity or something still more com)lex to !e a oided. 7lac( holes were nasty. The gra itational tidal forces were so great that you would !e stretched into a long thin thread if you were so careless as to fall in. .ou would also !e crushed laterally. %a))ily, there was no sign of any of this. Through the gray trans)arent surfaces that were now the ceiling and floor, she could see a great flurry of acti ity. The organosilicate matrix was colla)sing on itself in some )laces and unfolding in othersC the em!edded er!ium dowels were s)inning and tum!ling. & erything inside the dodec--including herself and her com)anions-loo(ed Buite ordinary. 6ell, may!e a !it excited. 7ut they were not yet long thin threads. These were idle ruminations, she (new. The )hysics of !lac( holes was not her field. Anyway, she could not understand how this could ha e anything to do with !lac( holes, which were either )rimordial--made

during the origin of the uni erse--or )roduced in a later e)och !y the colla)se of a star more massi e than the Sun. Then, the gra ity would !e so strong that--exce)t for Buantum effects-e en light could not esca)e, although the gra itational field certainly would remain. %ence 9!lac(,9 hence 9hole.9 7ut they hadn4t ?colla)sed a star, and she couldn4t see any way in which they had ca)tured a )rimordial !lac(hole. Anyway, no one (new where the nearest )rimordial !lac( hole might !e hiding. They had only !uilt the Machine and s)un u) the !en:els. She glanced o er to &da, who was figuring something on a small com)uter. 7y !one conduction, she could feel as well as hear a low-)itched roaring e ery time the dodec scra)ed the wall, and she raised her oice to !e heard. 9>o you understand what4s going on59 9Not at all,9 he shouted !ac(. 9$ can almost )ro e this can4t !e ha))ening. >o you (now the 7oyer3indBuist coordinates59 9No, sorry.9 9$4ll ex)lain it to you later.9 She was glad he thought there would !e a 9later.9 &llie felt the deceleration !efore she could see it, as if they had !een on the downslo)e of a roller coaster, had le eled out, and now were slowly clim!ing. @ust !efore the deceleration set in, the tunnel had made a com)lex seBuence of !o!s and wea es. There was no )erce)ti!le change either in the color or in the !rightness of the surrounding light. She )ic(ed u) her camera, switched to the long-focal-length lens, and loo(ed as far ahead of her as she could. She could see only to the next Aag in the tortuous )ath. Magnified, the texture of the wall seemed intricate, irregular, and, Aust for a moment, faintly self-luminous. The dodecahedron had slowed to a com)arati e crawl. No end to the tunnel was in sight. She wondered if they would ma(e it to where er they were going. "erha)s the designers had miscalculated. May!e the Machine had !een !uilt im)erfectly, Aust a little !it offC )erha)s what had seemed on %o((aido an acce)ta!le technological im)erfection would doom their mission to failure here in . . . in where er this was. Or,

glancing at the cloud of fine )articles following and occasionally o erta(ing them, she thought may!e they had !um)ed into the walls one time too often and lost more momentum than had !een allowed for in the design. The s)ace !etween the dodec and the walls seemed ery narrow now. "erha)s they would find themsel es stuc( fast in this ne er-ne er land and languish until theoxygen ran out. Could the *egans ha e gone to all this trou!le and forgotten that we need to !reathe5 %adn4t they noticed all those shouting Na:is5*aygay and &da were dee) in the arcana of gra itational )hysics--twistors, renormali:ation of ghost )ro)agators, time-li(e 8illing ectors, non-A!elian gauge in ariance, geodesic refocusing, ele endimensional 8alu:a-8lein treatments of su)ergra ity, and, of course, &da4s own and Buite different su)erunification. .ou could tell at a glance that an ex)lanation was not readily within their gras). She guessed that in another few hours the two )hysicists would ma(e some )rogress on the )ro!lem. Su)erunification em!raced irtually all scales and as)ects of )hysics (nown on &arth. $t was hard to !elie e that this . . . tunnel was not itself some hitherto unreali:ed solution of the &da Field &Buations. *aygay as(ed, 9>id anyone see a na(ed singularity59 9$ don4t (now what one loo(s li(e,9 >e i re)lied. 9$ !eg your )ardon. $t )ro!a!ly wouldn4t !e na(ed. >id you sense any causality in ersion, anything !i:arre--really cra:y--may!e a!out how you were thin(ing, anything li(e scram!led eggs reassem!ling themsel es into whites and yol(s . . . 59 >e i loo(ed at *aygay through narrowed lids. 9$t4s o(ay,9 &llie Buic(ly interAected. *aygay4s a little excited, she added to herself. ?These are genuine Buestions a!out !lac( holes. They only sound cra:y.9 9No,9 re)lied >e i slowly, 9exce)t for the Buestion itself.9 7ut then she !rightened. 9$n fact it was a mar elous ride.9 They all agreed. *aygay was elated. 9This is a ery strong ersion of cosmic censorshi),9 he was saying.

9Singularities are in isi!le e en inside !lac( holes.9 9*aygay is only Ao(ing,9 &da added. 9Once you4re inside the e ent hori:on, there is no way to esca)e the !lac( hole singularity.9 >es)ite &llie4s reassurance, >e i was glancing du!iously at !oth *aygay and &da. "hysicists had to in ent wordsand )hrases for conce)ts far remo ed from e eryday ex)erience. $t was their fashion to a oid )ure neologisms and instead to e o(e, e en if fee!ly, some analogous common)lace. The alternati e was to name disco eries and eBuations after one another. This they did also. 7ut if you didn4t (now it was )hysics they were tal(ing, you might ery well worry a!out them. She stood u) to cross o er to >e i, !ut at the same moment Ni roused them with a shout. The walls of the tunnel were undulating, closing in on the dodecahedron, sBuee:ing it forward. A nice rhythm was !eing esta!lished. & ery time the dodec would slow almost to a halt, it was gi en another sBuee:e !y the walls. She felt a slight motion sic(ness rising in her. $n some )laces it was tough going, the walls wor(ing hard, wa es of contraction and ex)ansion ri))ling down the tunnel. &lsewhere, es)ecially on the straightaways, they would fairly s(i) along. A great distance away, &llie made out a dim )oint of light, slowly growing in intensity. A !lue-white radiance !egan flooding the inside of the dodecahedron. She could see it glint off the !lac( er!ium cylinders, now almost stationary. Although the Aourney seemed to ha e ta(en only ten or fifteen minutes, the contrast !etween the su!dued, restrained am!ient light for most of the tri) and the swelling !rilliance ahead was stri(ing. They were rushing toward it, shooting u) the tunnel, and then eru)ting into what seemed to !e ordinary s)ace. 7efore them was a huge !lue-white sun, disconcertingly close. &llie (new in an instant it was *ega. She was reluctant to loo( at it directly through the long-focal-length lensC this was foolhardy e en for

the Sun, a cooler and dimmer star. 7ut she )roduced a )iece of white )a)er, mo ed it so it was in the focal )lane of the long lens and )roAected a !right image of the star. She could see two great suns)ot grou)s and a hint, she thought, a shadow, of some of the material in the ring )lane. "utting down the camera, she held her hand at arm4s length, )alm outward,to Aust co er the dis( of *ega, and was rewarded !y seeing a !rilliant extended corona around the starC it had !een in isi!le !efore, washed out in *ega4s glare. "alm still outstretched, she examined the ring of de!ris that surrounded the star. The nature of the *ega system had !een the su!Aect of worldwide de!ate e er since recei)t of the )rime num!er Message. Acting on !ehalf of the astronomical community of the )lanet &arth, she ho)ed she was not ma(ing any serious mista(es. She ideota)ed at a ariety of fEsto)s and frame s)eeds. They had emerged almost in the ring )lane, in a de!ris-free circumstellar ga). The ring was extremely thin com)ared with its ast lateral dimensions. She could ma(e out faint color gradations within the rings, !ut none of the indi idual ring )articles. $f they were at all li(e the rings of Saturn, a )article a few meters across would !e a giant. "erha)s the *egan rings were com)osed entirely of s)ec(s of dust, clods of roc(, shards of ice. She turned around to loo( !ac( at where they had emerged and saw a field of !lac(--a circular !lac(ness, !lac(er than el et, !lac(er than the night s(y. $t ecli)sed that leeward )ortion of the *ega ring system which was otherwise--where not o!scured !y this som!er a))arition-clearly isi!le. As she )eered through the lens more closely, she thought she could see faint erratic flashes of light from its ery center. %aw(ing radiation5 No, its wa elength would !e much too long. Or light from the )lanet &arth still rushing down the tu!e5 On the other side of that !lac(ness was %o((aido. "lanets. 6here were the )lanets5 She scanned the ring )lane with the long-focallength lens, searching for em!edded )lanets--or at least for the home of the !eings who had !roadcast the Message. $n each !rea( in the rings she loo(ed for a she)herding world whose gra itational influence had cleared the lanes of dust. 7ut she could find nothing.

9.ou can4t find any )lanets59 Ni as(ed. 9Nothing. There4s a few !ig comets in close. $ can see the tails. 7ut nothing that loo(s li(e a )lanet. There must !ethousands of se)arate rings. As far as $ can tell, they4re all made of de!ris. The !lac( hole seems to ha e cleared out a !ig ga) in the rings. That4s where we are right now, slowly or!iting *ega. The system is ery young--only a few hundred million years old--and some astronomers thought it was too soon for there to !e )lanets. 7ut then where did the transmission come from59 9May!e this isn4t *ega,9 *aygay offered. 9May!e our radio signal comes from *ega, !ut the tunnel goes to another star system.9 9May!e, !ut it4s a funny coincidence that your other star should ha e roughly the same color tem)erature as *ega-- loo(, yon can see it4s !luish--and the same (ind of de!ris system. $t4s true, $ can4t chec( this out from the constellations !ecause of the glare. $4d still gi e you ten-to-one odds this is *ega.9 97ut then where are they59 >e i as(ed. Ni, whose eyesight was acute, was staring u)--through the organosilicate matrix, out the trans)arent )entagonal )anels, into the s(y far a!o e the ring )lane. %e said nothing, and &llie followed his ga:e. There was something there, all right, gloaming in the sunlight and with a )erce)ti!le angular si:e. She loo(ed through the long lens. $t was some ast irregular )olyhedron, each of its faces co ered with . .. a (ind of circle5 >is(5 >ish5 7owl59%ere, Jiaomu, loo( through here. Tell us what you see.9, $ see. .our counter)arts . . . radio telesco)es. Thousands of them, $ su))ose, )ointing in many directions. $t is not a world. $t is only a de ice.9 They too( turns using the long lens. She concealed her im)atience to loo( again. The fundamental nature of a radio telesco)e was more or less s)ecified !y the )hysics of radio wa es, !ut she found herself

disa))ointed that a ci ili:ation a!le to ma(e, or e en Aust use, !lac( holes for some (ind of hy)errelati istic trans)ort would still !e using radio telesco)es of recogni:a!le design, no matter how massi e the scale. $t seemed !ac(ward of the *egans .. . unimaginati e. She understood the ad antage of )utting the telesco)es in )olar or!it around the star, safe exce)t for twice each re olution from collisions with ring )lane de!ris. 7ut radio telesco)es )ointing all o er the s(y--thousands of them--suggested some com)rehensi e s(y sur ey, an Argus in earnest. $nnumera!le candidate worlds were !eing watched for tele ision transmission, military radar, and )erha)s other arieties of early radio transmission un(nown on &arth. >id they find such signals often, she wondered, or was the &arth their first success in a million years of loo(ing5 There was no sign of a welcoming committee. 6as a delegation from the )ro inces so unremar(a!le that no one had !een assigned e en to note their arri al56hen the lens was returned to her she too( great care with focus, fEsto), and ex)osure time. She wanted a )ermanent record, to show the National Science Foundation what really serious radio astronomy was li(e. She wished there were a way to determine the si:e of the )olyhedral world. The telesco)es co ered it li(e !arnacles on a whaler. A radio telesco)e in :ero g could !e essentially any si:e. After the )ictures were de elo)ed, she would !e a!le to determine the angular si:e /may!e a few minutes of arc2, !ut the linear si:e, the real dimensions, that was im)ossi!le to figure out unless you (new how far away the thing was. Ne ertheless she sensed it was ast. 9$f there are no worlds here,9 Ni was saying, 9then there are no *egans. No one li es here. *ega is only a guard-house, a )lace for the !order )atrol to warm their hands.9 9Those radio telesco)es9--he glanced u)ward--9are the watchtowers of the 'reat 6all. $f you are limited !y the s)eed of light, it is difficult to hold a galactic em)ire together. .ou order the garrison to )ut down a re!ellion. Ten thousand years later you find out what ha))ened. Not good. Too slow. So you gi e autonomy to the garrison commanders. Then, no more em)ire. 7ut those9--and now he gestured at the receding !lot co ering the s(y !ehind them--9those are im)erial roads. "ersia had them. #omehad them. China had them. Then you are not restricted to the s)eed of light. 6ith roads you can hold an em)ire

together.9 7ut &da, lost in thought, was sha(ing his !ead. Something a!out the )hysics was !othering him. The !lac( hole, if that was what it really was, could now !e seen or!iting *ega in a !road lane entirely clear of de!risC !oth inner and outer rings ga e it wide !erth. $t was hard to !elie e how !lac( it was. As she too( short ideo )ans of the de!ris ring !efore her, she wondered whether it would someday form its own )lanetary system, the )articles colliding, stic(ing, growing e er larger, gra itational condensations ta(ing )lace until at last only a few large worlds or!ited the star. $t was ery li(e the )icture astronomers had of the origin of the )lanets around the Sun four and a half !illion years ago. She could now ma(e out inhomogeneities in the rings, )laces with a discerni!le !ulge where some de!ris had a))arently accreted together. The motion of the !lac( hole around *ega was creating a isi!le ri))le in the !ands of de!ris immediately adAacent The dodecahedron was dou!tless )roducing some more modest wa(e. She wondered if these gra itational )ertur!ations, these s)reading rarefactions and condensations, would ha e any long-term conseBuence, changing the )attern of su!seBuent )lanetary formation. $f so, then the ery existence of some )lanet !illions of years in the future might !e due to the !lac( hole and the Machine . . . and therefore to the Message, and therefore to "roAect Argus. She (new she was o er)ersonali:ingC !ad she ne er li ed, some other radio astronomer would surely ha e recei ed the Message, !ut earlier, or later. The Machine would ha e !een acti ated at a different moment and the dodec would ha e found its way here in some other time. So some future )lanet in this system might still owe its existence to her. Then, !y symmetry, she had snatched out of existence some other world that was destined to form !ad she ne er li ed. $t was aguely !urdensome, !eing res)onsi!le !y your innocent actions for the fates of un(nown worlds.

She attem)ted a )anning shot, !eginning inside the dodecahedron, then out to the struts Aoining the trans)arent )entagonal )anels, and !eyond to the ga) in the de!ris rings in which they, along with the !lac( hole, were or!iting. She followed the ga), flan(ed !y two !luish rings, further and further from her. There was something a little odd u) ahead, a (ind of !owing in the adAacent inner ring. 9Jiaomu,9 she said, handing him the long lens, 9loo( o er there. Tell me what you sec.9 96here59 She )ointed again. After a moment he had found it. She could tell !ecause of his slight !ut Buite unmista(a!le inta(e of !reath. 9Another !lac( hole,9 he said. 9Much !igger.9 They were falling again. This time the tunnel was more commodious, and they were ma(ing !etter time. 9That4s it59 &llie found herself shouting at >e i. 9They ta(e us to *ega to show off their !lac( holes. They gi e us a loo( at their radio telesco)es from a thousand (ilometers away. 6e s)end ten minutes there, and they )o) us into another !lac( hole and shi) us !ac( to &arth. That4s why we s)ent two trillion dollars59 9May!e we4re !eside the )oint,9 3unachars(y was saying. 9May!e the only real )oint was to )lug themsel es into the &arth.9 She imagined nocturnal exca ations !eneath the gates of Troy. &da, fingers of !oth hands outs)read, was ma(ing a calming gesture. 96ait and see,9 he said. 9This is a different tunnel. 6hy should you thin( it goes !ac( to &arth59 9*ega4s not where we4re intended to go59 >e i as(ed. 9The ex)erimental method. 3et4s see where we )o) out next.9 $n this tunnel there was less scra)ing of the walls andfewer

undulations. &da and *aygay were de!ating a s)ace-time diagram they had drawn in 8rus(al-S:e(eres coordinates. &llie had no idea what they were tal(ing a!out. The deceleration stage, the )art of the )assage that felt u)hill, was still disconcerting. This time the light at the end of the tunnel was orange. They emerged at a considera!le s)eed into the system of a contact !inary, two suns touching. The outer layers of a swollen elderly red giant star were )ouring onto the )hotos)here of a igorous middle-aged yellow dwarf, something li(e the Sun. The :one of contact !etween the two stars was !rilliant. She loo(ed for de!ris rings or )lanets or or!iting radio o!ser atories, !ut could find none. That doesn4t mean ery much, she told herself. These systems could ha e a fair num!er of )lanets and $4d ne er (now it with this din(y long lens. She )roAected the dou!le sun onto the )iece of )a)er and )hotogra)hed the image with a short-focal-length lens. 7ecause there were no rings, there was less scattered light in this system than around *egaC with the wide-angle lens she was a!le, after a !it of searching, to recogni:e a constellation that sufficiently resem!led the 7ig >i))er. 7ut she had difficulty recogni:ing the other constellations. Since the !right stars in the 7ig >i))er are a few hundred light-years from &arth, she concluded that they had not Aum)ed more than a few hundred light-years. She told this to &da and as(ed him what he thought. 96hat do $ thin(5 $ thin( this is an Knderground.9 9An Knderground59 She recalled her sensation of falling, into the de)ths of %ell it had seemed for a moment, Aust after the Machine had !een acti ated. 9A Metro. A su!way. These are the stations. The sto)s. *ega and this system and others. "assengers get on and off at the sto)s. .ou change trains here.9 %e gestured at the contact !inary, and she noticed that his hand cast two

shadows, one anti-yellow and the other anti-red, li(e in---it was the only image that came to mind--a discotheBue. 97ut we, we cannot get off,9 &da continued. 96e are in a closed railway car. 6e4re headed for the terminal, the end of the line.9 >rumlin had called such s)eculations Fantasyland, and this was--so far as she (new---the first time &da had succum!ed to the tem)tation. Of the Fi e, she was the only o!ser ational astronomer, e en though her s)ecialty was not in the o)tical s)ectrum. She felt it her res)onsi!ility to accumulate as much data as )ossi!le, in the tunnels and in the ordinary four-dimensional s)ace-time into which they would )eriodically emerge. The )resum)ti e !lac( hole from which they exited would always !e in or!it around some star or multi)le-star system. They were always in )airs, always two of them sharing a similar or!it--one from which they were eAected, and another into which they fell. No two systems were closely similar. None was ery li(e the solar system. All )ro ided instructi e astronomical insights. Not one of them exhi!ited anything li(e an artifact--a second dodecahedron, or some ast engineering )roAect to ta(e a)art a world and reassem!le it into what Ni had called a de ice. At this time they emerged near a star isi!ly changing its !rightness /she could tell from the )rogression of fEsto)s reBuired2--)erha)s it was one of the ## 3yrae starsC next was a Buintu)le systemC then a fee!ly luminous !rown dwarf. Some were in o)en s)ace, some were em!edded in ne!ulosity, surrounded !y glowing molecular clouds. She recalled the warning ?This will !e deducted from your share in "aradise.9 Nothing had !een deducted from hers. >es)ite a conscious effort to retain a )rofessional calm, her heart soared at this )rofusion of suns. She ho)ed that e ery one of them was a home to someone. Or would !e one day.

7ut after the fourth Aum) she !egan to worry. Su!Aec-ti ely, and !y her wristwatch, it felt something li(e an hour since they had 9left9 %o((aido. $f this too( much longer, the a!sence of amenities would !e felt. "ro!a!ly there wereas)ects of human )hysiology that could not !e deduced e en after attenti e tele ision iewing !y a ery ad anced ci ili:ation. And if the extraterrestrials were so smart, why were they )utting us through so many little Aum)s5 All right, may!e the ho) from &arth used rudimentary eBui)ment !ecause only )rimiti es were wor(ing one side of the tunnel. 7ut after *ega5 6hy couldn4t they Aum) us directly to where er the dodec was going5&ach time she came !arreling out of a tunnel, she was ex)ectant. 6hat wonders had they in store for her next5 $t )ut her in mind of a ery u)scale amusement )ar(, and she found herself imagining %adden )eering down his telesco)e at %o((aido the moment the Machine had !een acti ated. As glorious as the istas offered !y the Message ma(ers were, and howe er much she enAoyed a (ind of )ro)rietary mastery of the su!Aect as she ex)lained some as)ect of stellar e olution to the others, she was after a time disa))ointed. She had to wor( to trac( the feeling down. Soon she had it< The extraterrestrials were !oasting. $t was unseemly. $t !etrayed some defect of character. As they )lunged down still another tunnel, this one !roader and more tortuous than the others, 3unachars(y as(ed &da to guess why the su!way sto)s were )ut in such un)romising star systems. 96hy not around a single star, a young star in good health and with no de!ris59 97ecause,9 &da re)lied, 9--of course, $ am only guessing as you as(--!ecause all such systems are inha!ited . . .9 9And they don4t want the tourists scaring the nati es,9 Su(ha ati shot !ac(. &da smiled. 9Or the other way around.9 97ut that4s what you mean, isn4t it5 There4s some sort of ethic of

noninterference with )rimiti e )lanets. They (now that e ery now and then some of the )rimiti es might use the su!way . . .9 9And they4re )retty sure of the )rimiti es,9 &llie continued the thought, 9!ut they can4t !e a!solutely sure. After all, )rimiti es are )rimiti e. So you let them ride only onsu!ways that go to the stic(s. The !uilders must !e a ery cautious !unch. 7ut then why did they send us a local train and not an ex)ress59 9"ro!a!ly it4s too hard to !uild an ex)ress tunnel,9 said Ni, years of digging ex)erience !ehind him. &llie thought of the %onshu-%o((aido Tunnel, one of the )rides of ci il engineering on &arth, all of fifty-one (ilometers long. A few of the turns were Buite stee) now. She thought a!out her Thunder!ird, and then she thought a!out getting sic(. She decided she would fight it as long as she could. The dodecahedron had not !een eBui))ed with airsic(ness !ags. A!ru)tly they were on a straightaway, and then the s(y was full of stars. & erywhere she loo(ed there were stars, not the )altry scattering of a few thousand still occasionally (nown to na(ed-eye o!ser ers on &arth, !ut a ast multitude--many almost touching their nearest neigh!ors it seemed--surrounding her in e ery direction, many of them tinted yellow or !lue or red, es)ecially red. The s(y was !la:ing with near!y suns. She could ma(e out an immense s)iraling cloud of dust, an accretion dis( a))arently flowing into a !lac( hole of staggering )ro)ortions, out of which flashes of radiation were coming li(e heat lightning on a summer4s night. $f this was the center of the 'alaxy, as she sus)ected, it would !e !athed in synchrotron radiation. She ho)ed the extraterrestrials had remem!ered how frail humans were. And swimming into her field of iew as the dodec rotated was . . . a )rodigy, a wonder, a miracle. They were u)on it almost !efore they (new it. $t filled half the s(y. Now they were flying o er it. On its surface were hundreds, )erha)s thousands, of illuminated doorways, each a different sha)e. Many were )olygonal or

circular or with an elli)tical cross section, some had )roAecting a))endages or a seBuence of )artly o erla))ing off-center circles. She reali:ed they were doc(ing )orts, thousands of different doc(ing )orts-some )erha)s only meters in si:e, others clearly (ilometers across, or larger. & ery one of them, she decided, was the tem)late of some interstellar machine li(e this one. 7igcreatures in serious machines had im)osing entry )orts. 3ittle creatures, li(e us, had tiny )orts. $t was a democratic arrangement, with no hint of )articularly )ri ileged ci ili:ations. The di ersity of )orts suggested few social distinctions among the sundry ci ili:ations, !ut it im)lied a !reathta(ing di ersity of !eings and cultures. Tal( a!out 'rand Central StationP she thought. The ision of a )o)ulated 'alaxy, of a uni erse s)illing o er with life and intelligence, made her want to cry for Aoy. They were a))roaching a yellow-lit )ort which, &l!e could see, was the exact tem)late of the dodecahedron in which they were riding. She watched a near!y doc(ing )ort, where something the si:e of the dodecahedron and sha)ed a))roximately li(e a starfish was gently insinuating itself onto its tem)late. She glanced left and right, u) and down, at the almost im)erce)ti!le cur ature of this great Station situated at what she guessed was the center of the Mil(y 6ay. 6hat a indication for the human s)ecies, in ited here at lastP There4s ho)e for us, she thought. There4s ho)eP 96ell, it isn4t 7ridge)ort.9 She said this aloud as the doc(ing maneu er com)leted itself in )erfect silence. C%A"T&# DH 'rand Central Station All things are artificial, for nature is the art of 'od. - T%OMAS 7#O6N& 9On >reams9 #eligio Media /+GFD2 Angels need an assumed !ody, not for themsel es, !ut on our account.

- T%OMAS AJK$NAS Summa Theologica, $, ,+, D The de il hath )ower To assume a )leasing sha)e. - 6$33$AM S%A8&S"&A#& %amlet, $$, ii, GD1 T%& A$#3OC8 6as designed to accommodate only one )erson at a time. 6hen Buestions of )riority had come u)--which nation would !e first re)resented on the )lanet of another star--the Fi e had thrown u) their hands in disgust and told the )roAect managers that this wasn4t that (ind of mission. They had conscientiously a oided discussing the issue among themsel es. 7oth the interior and the exterior doors of the airloc( o)ened simultaneously. They had gi en no command. A))arently, this sector of 'rand central was adeBuately )ressuri:ed and oxygenated. 96ell, who wants to go first59 >e i as(ed. *ideo camera in hand, &llie waited in line to exit, !ut then decided that the )alm frond should !e with her when she set foot on this new world. As she went to retrie e it, she heard a whoo) of delight from outside, )ro!a!ly from *aygay. &llie rushed into the !right sunlight. The threshold of the airloc(4s exterior doorway was flush with the sand. >e i was an(le-dee) in the water, )layfully s)lashing in Ni4s direction. &da was smiling !roadly. $t was a !each. 6a es were la))ing on the sand. The !lue s(y s)orted a few la:y cumulus clouds. There was a stand of )alm trees, irregularly s)aced a little !ac( from the water4s edge. A sun was in the s(y. One sun. A yellow one. @ust li(e ours, she thought. A faint aroma was in the airC clo es, )erha)s, and cinnamon. $t could ha e !een a !each on Lan:i!ar. So they had oyaged -H,HHH light-years to wal( on a !each. Could !e worse, she thought. The !ree:e stirred, and a little whirlwind of sand was created !efore her. 6as all this Aust some ela!orate simulation of the &arth, )erha)s reconstructed from the data returned !y a routine scouting ex)edition millions of years earlier5 Or had the fi e of them underta(en this e)ic oyage only to im)ro e their (nowledge of descri)ti e astronomy, and then !een unceremoniously dum)ed into some )leasant corner of the

&arth5 6hen she turned, she disco ered that the dodecahedron had disa))eared. They !ad left the su)erconducting su)ercom)uter and its reference li!rary as well as some of the instruments a!oard. $t worried them for a!out a minute. They were safe and they had sur i ed a tri) worth writing home a!out. *aygay glanced from the frond she had struggled to !ring here to the colony of )alm trees along the !each, and laughed. 9Coals to Newcastle,9 >e i commented. 7ut her frond was different. "erha)s they had different s)ecies here. Or may!e the local ariety had !een )roduced !y an inattenti e manufacturer. She loo(ed out to sea. $rresisti!ly !rought to mind was the image of the first coloni:ation of the &arth4s land, some FHH million years ago. 6here er this was--the $ndian Ocean or the center of the 'alaxy--the fi e of them had done something un)aralleled. The itinerary and destinations were entirely out of their hands, it was true. 7ut they had crossed the ocean of interstellar s)ace and !egun what surely must !e a new age in human history. She was ery )roud. Ni remo ed his !oots and rolled u) to his (nees the legs of the tac(y insignialaden Aum) suit the go ernments had decreed they all must wear. %e am!led through the gentle surf. >e i ste))ed !ehind a )alm tree and emerged sari-clad, her Aum) suit dra)ed o er her arm. $t reminded &llie of a >orothy 3amour mo ie. &da )roduced the sort of linen hat that was his isual trademar( throughout the world. &llie ideota)ed them in short Aum)y ta(es. $t would loo(, when they got home, exactly li(e a home mo ie. She Aoined Ni and *aygay in the surf. The water seemed almost warm. $t was a )leasant afternoon and, e erything considered, a welcome change from the %o((aido winter they had left little more than an hour !efore. 9& eryone has !rought something sym!olic,9 said *aygay, 9exce)t me.9 9%ow do you mean59 9Su(ha ati and &da !ring national costumes. Ni here has !rought a grain of

rice.9 $ndeed, Ni was holding the grain in a )lastic !ag !etween thum! and forefinger. 9.ouha e your )alm frond,9 *aygay continued. 97ut me, $ ha e !rought no sym!ols, no mementos from &arth. $4m the only real materialist in the grou), and e erything $4 e !rought is in my head.9 &llie had hung her medallion around her nec(, under the Aum) suit. Now she loosened the collar and )ulled out the )endant. *aygay noticed, and she ga e it to him to read. 9$t4s "lutarch, $ thin(,9 he said after a moment. ?Those were !ra e words the S)artans s)o(e. 7ut remem!er, the #omans won the !attle.9 From the tone of this admonition, *aygay must ha e thought the medallion a gift from der %eer. She was warmed !y his disa))ro al of 8en--surely Austified !y e ents--and !y his steadfast solicitude. She too( his arm. 9$ would (ill for a cigarette,9 he said amia!ly, using his arm to sBuee:e her hand to his side. The fi e of them sat together !y a little tide )ool. The !rea(ing of the surf generated asoft white noise that reminded her of Argus and her years of listening to cosmic static. The Sun was well )ast the :enith, o er the ocean. A cra! scuttled !y, sidewise dexterous, its eyes swi eling on their stal(s. 6ith cra!s, coconuts, and the limited )ro isions in their )oc(ets, they could sur i e comforta!ly enough for some time. There were no foot)rints on the !each !esides their own. 96e thin( they did almost all the wor(.9 *aygay was ex)laining his and &da4s thin(ing on what the fi e of them had ex)erienced. 9All the )roAect did was to ma(e the faintest )uc(er in s)ace-time, so they would ha e something to hoo( their tunnel onto. $n all of that multidimensional geometry, it must !e ery difficult to detect a tiny )uc(er in s)ace-time. & en harder to fit a no::le onto it.9 96hat are you saying5 They changed the geometry of s)ace59 6e4re saying that s)ace is to)ologically non-sim-)ly connected. $t4s li(e-

-+ (now A!onnema doesn4t li(e this analogy--it4s li(e a flat two-dimensional surface, thesmart surface, connected !y some ma:e of tu!ing with some other flat two-dimensional surface, the dum! surface. The only way you can get from the smart surface to the dum! surface in a reasona!le time is through the tu!es. Now imagine that the )eo)le on the smart surface lower a tu!e with a no::le on it. They will ma(e a tunnel !etween the two surfaces, )ro ided the dum! ones coo)erate !y ma(ing a little )uc(er on their surface, so the no::le can attach itself.9 9So the smart guys send a radio message and tell the dum! ones how to ma(e a )uc(er. 7ut if they4re truly two-dimensional !eings, how could they ma(e a )uc(er on their surface59 97y accumulating a great deal of mass in one )lace.9 *aygay said this tentati ely. 97ut that4s not what we did.9 9$ (now. $ (now. Somehow the !en:els did it.9 9.ou see,9 &da ex)lained softly, 9if the tunnels are !lac( holes, there are real contradictions im)lied. There is an interior tunnel in the exact 8err solution of the &instein Field &Buations, !ut it4s unsta!le. The slightest )ertur!ation would seal it off and con ert the tunnel into a )hysical singularity through which nothing can )ass. $ ha e tried to imagine a su)erior ci ili:ation that would control the internal structure of a colla)sing star to (ee) the interior tunnel sta!le. This is ery difficult. The ci ili:ation would ha e to monitor and sta!ili:e the tunnel fore er. $t would !e es)ecially difficult with something as large as the dodecahedron falling through.9 9& en if A!onnema can disco er how to (ee) the tunnel o)en, there are many other )ro!lems,9 *aygay said. 9Too many. 7lac( holes collect )ro!lems faster than they collect matter. There are the tidal forces. 6e should ha e !een torn a)art in the !lac( hole4s gra itational field. 6e should ha e !een stretched li(e )eo)le in the )aintings of &l 'reco or the scul)tures of that $talian. . . 59 %e turned to &llie to fill in the !lan(.

9'iacometti,9 she suggested. 9%e was Swiss.9, li(e 'iacometti. Then other )ro!lems< As measured from &arth it ta(es an infinite amount of time for usto )ass through a !lac( hole, and we could ne er, ne er return to &arth. May!e this is what ha))ened. May!e we will ne er go home. Then, there should !e an inferno of radiation near the singularity. This is a Buantum-mechanical insta!ility. ...9 9Ana finally,9 &da continued, 9a 8err-ty)e tunnel can lead to grotesBue causality iolations. 6ith a modest change of traAectory inside the tunnel, one could emerge from the other end as early in the history of the uni erse as ?you might li(e--a )icosecond after the 7ig 7ang, for exam)le. That would !e a ery disorderly uni erse.9 93oo(, fellas,9 she said, 9$4m no ex)ert in 'eneral #elati ity. 7ut didn4t we see !lac( holes5 >idn4t we fall into them5 >idn4t we emerge out of them5 $sn4t a gram of o!ser ation worth a ton of theory59 9$ (now, $ (now,9 *aygay said in mild agony. 9$t has to !e something else. Our understanding of )hysics can4t !e so far off. Can it59 %e addressed this last Buestion, a little )lainti ely, to &da, who only re)lied, 9A naturally occurring !lac( hole can4t !e a tunnelC they ha e im)assa!le singularities at their centers.9 6ith a Aerry-rigged sextant and their wristwatches, they timed the angular motion of the setting Sun. $t was -GH degrees in twenty-four hours. &arth standard. 7efore the Sun got too low on the hori:on, they disassem!led &llie4s camera and used the lens to start a fire. She (e)t the frond !y her side, fearful that someone would carelessly throw it on the flames after dar(. Ni )ro ed to !e an ex)ert fire ma(er. %e )ositioned them u)wind and (e)t the fire low.

'radually the stars came out. They were all there, the familiar constellations of &arth. She olunteered to stay u) awhile tending the fire while the others sle)t. She wanted to see 3yra rise. After some hours, it did. The night was exce)tionally clear, and *ega shone steady and !rilliant. From the a))arent motion of the constellations across the s(y, from the southern hemis)here constellations that she could ma(e out, and from the 7ig >i))er lying near the northern hori:on, she deduced that they were in tro)icallatitudes. $f all this is a simulation, she thought !efore falling aslee), they4 e gone to a great deal of trou!le. She had an odd little dream. The fi e of them were swimming--na(ed, unselfconscious, underwater-now )oised la:ily near a staghorn coral, now gliding into crannies that were the next moment o!scured !y drifting seaweed. Once she rose to the surface. A shi) in the sha)e of a dodecahedron flew !y, low a!o e the water. The walls were trans)arent, and inside she could see )eo)le in dhotis and sarongs, reading news)a)ers and casually con ersing. She do e !ac( underwater. 6here she !elonged. Although the dream seemed to go on for a long time, none of them had any difficulty !reathing. They were inhaling and exhaling water. They felt no distress--indeed, they were swimming as naturally as fish. *aygay e en loo(ed a little li(e a fish--a grou)er, )erha)s. The water must !e fiercely oxygenated, she su))osed. $n the midst of the dream, she remem!ered a mouse she had once seen in a )hysiology la!oratory, )erfectly content in a flas( of oxygenated water, e en )addling ho)efully with its little front feet. A ermiform tail streamed !ehind. She tried to remem!er how much oxygen was needed, !ut it was too much trou!le. She was thin(ing less and less, she thought. That4s all right. #eally. The others were now distinctly fishli(e. >e i4s fins were translucent. $t was o!scurely interesting, aguely sensual. She ho)ed it would continue, so she could figure something out. 7ut e en the Buestion she wanted to answer eluded her. Oh, to !reathe warm water, she thought. 6hat will they thin( of next5&llie awo(e with a sense of disorientation so )rofound it !ordered on ertigo. 6here was she5 6isconsin, "uerto #ico, New Mexico, 6yoming, %o((aido5 Or the Strait of Malacca5 Then she

remem!ered. $t was unclear, to within -H,HHH light-years, where in the Mil(y 6ay 'alaxy shewasC )ro!a!ly the all-time record for disorientation, she thought. >es)ite the headache, &llie laughedC and >e i, slee)ing !eside her, stirred. 7ecause of the u)ward slo)e of the !each--they had reconnoitered out to a (ilometer or so the )re ious afternoon and found not a hint of ha!itation--direct sunlight had not yet reached her. &llie was recum!ent on a )illow of sand. >e i, Aust awa(ening, had sle)t with her head on the rolled-u) Aum) suit. 9>on4t you thin( there4s something candy-assed a!out a culture that needs soft )illows59 &llie as(ed. 9The ones who )ut their heads in wooden yo(es at night, that4s who the smart money4s on.9 >e i laughed and wished her good morning. They could hear shouting from farther u) the !each. The three men were wa ing and !ec(oningC &llie and >e i roused themsel es and Aoined them. Standing u)right on the sand was a door. A wooden door--with )aneling and a !rass door(no!. Anyway it loo(ed li(e !rass. The door had !lac(-)ainted metal hinges and was set in two Aam!s, a lintel, and a threshold. No name)late. ft was in no way extraordinary. For &arth. 9Now go ?round the !ac(,9 Ni in ited. From the !ac(, the door was not there at all. She could see &da and *aygay and Ni, >e i standing a little a)art, and the sand continuous !etween the four of them and her. She mo ed to the side, the heels of her feet moistened !y the surf, and she could ma(e out a single dar( ra:or-thin ertical line. She was reluctant to touch it. #eturning to the !ac( again, she satisfied herself that there were no shadows or reflections in the air !efore her, and then ste))ed through. 97ra o.9 &da laughed. She turned around and found the closed door !efore her. 96hat did you see59 she as(ed. 9A lo ely woman strolling through a closed door two centimeters thic(.9 *aygay seemed to !e doing well, des)ite the dearth of cigarettes. 9%a e you tried o)ening the door59 she as(ed.

9Not yet,9 Ni re)lied. She ste))ed !ac( again, admiring the a))arition. 9$t loo(s li(e something !y-6hat4s the name of that French surrealist59 *aygay as(ed. 9#enQ Magritte,9 she answered. 9%e was 7elgian.9 96e4re agreed, $ ta(e it, that this isn4t really the &arth,9 >e i )ro)osed, her gesture encom)assing ocean, !each, and s(y. 9Knless we4re in the "ersian 'ulf three thousand years ago, and there are dAinns a!out.9 &llie laughed. 9Aren4t you im)ressed !y the care of the construction59 9All right,9 &llie answered. 9They4re ery good, $4ll grant them that. 7ut what4s it for5 6hy go to the trou!le of all this detail wor(59 9May!e they Aust ha e a )assion for getting things right.9 9Or may!e they4re Aust showing off.9 9$ don4t see,9 >e i continued, 9how they could (now our doors so well. Thin( of how many different ways there are to ma(e a door. %ow could they (now59 9$t could !e tele ision,9 &llie res)onded. 9*ega has recei ed tele ision signals from &arth u) to---let4s see--+0;F )rogramming. Clearly, they can send the interesting cli)s here !y s)ecial deli ery in no time flat. "ro!a!ly thereto !een a lot of doors on tele ision !etween +0-G and +0;F. O(ay,9 she continued, as if this were not a change of su!Aect, 9what do we thin( would ha))en if we o)ened the door and wal(ed in59 9$f we are here to !e tested,9 said Ni, 9on the other side of that door is )ro!a!ly the Test, may!e one for each of us.9

%e was ready. She wished she were. The shadows of the nearest )alms were now falling on the !each. 6ordlessly they regarded one another. All four of them seemed eager to o)en the door and ste) through. She alone felt some ... reluctance. She as(ed &da if he would li(e to go first. 6e might as well )ut our !est foot forward, she thought%e doffed his ca), made a slight !ut graceful !ow, tinned, and a))roached the door. &llie ran to him and(issed him on !oth chee(s. The others em!raced him also. %e turned again, o)ened the door, entered, and disa))eared into thin air, his striding foot first, his trailing hand last. 6ith the door aAar, there had seemed to !e only the continuation of !each and surf !ehind him. The door dosed. She ran around it, !ut there was no trace of &da. Ni was next. &llie found herself struc( !y how docile they all had !een, instantly o!liging e ery anonymous in itation )roffered. They could ha e told us where they were ta(ing us, and what all this was for, she thought. $t could ha e !een )art of the Message, or information con eyed after the Machine was acti ated. They could ha e told us we were doc(ing with a simulation of a !each on &arth. They could ha e told us to ex)ect the door. True, as accom)lished as they are, the extraterrestrials might (now &nglish im)erfectly, with tele ision as their only tutor. Their (nowledge of #ussian, Mandarin, Tamil, and %ausa would !e e en more rudimentary. 7ut they had in ented the language introduced in the Message )rimer. 6hy not use it5 To retain the element of sur)rise5*aygay saw her staring at the closed door and as(ed if she wished to enter next. ?Than(s, *aygay. $4 e !een thin(ing. $ (now it4s a little cra:y. 7ut it Aust struc( me< 6hy do we ha e to Aum) through e ery hoo) they hold out for us5 Su))ose we don4t do what they as(59 9&llie, you are so American. For me, this is Aust li(e home. $4m used to doing what the authorities suggest-- es)ecially when $ ha e no choice.9 %e smiled and turned smartly on his heel. 9>on4t ta(e any cra) from the 'rand >u(e,9 she called after him.

%igh a!o e, a gull sBuaw(ed. *aygay had left the door aAar. There was still only !each !eyond. 9Are you all right59 >e i as(ed her. 9$4m o(ay. #eally. $ Aust want a moment to myself. $4ll !e along.9 9Seriously, $4m as(ing as a doctor. >o you feel all right59 9$ wo(e u) with a headache, and $ thin( $ had some ery fanciful dreams. $ ha en4t !rushed my teeth or had my !lac( coffee. $ wouldn4t mind reading the morning )a)er either. &xce)t for all that, really $4m fine.9 96ell, that sounds all right. For that matter $ ha e a !it of a headache, too. Ta(e care of yourself, &llie. #emem!er e erything, so you4ll !e a!le to tell it to me. . . next time we meet.9 9$ will,9 &llie )romised. They (issed and wished each other 6ell. >e i ste))ed o er the threshold and anished. The door closed !ehind her. Afterward, &llie thought she had caught a whiff of curry. She !rushed her teeth in salt water. A certain fastidious strea( had always !een a )art of her nature. She !rea(-fasted on coconut mil(. Carefully she !rushed accumulated sand off the exterior surfaces of the microcamera system and its tiny arsenal of ideocassettes on which she had recorded wonders. She washed the )alm frond in the surf, as she had done the day she found it on Cocoa 7each Aust !efore the launch u) to Methuselah. The morning was already warm and she decided to ta(e a swim. %er clothes carefully folded on the )alm frond, she strode !oldly out into the surf. 6hate er else, she thought, the extraterrestrials are unli(ely to find themsel es aroused !y the sight of a na(ed woman, e en if she is )retty well )reser ed. She tried to imagine a micro!iologist stirred to crimes of )assion after iewing a )aramecium caught in fla-grante delicto in mitosis.

3anguidly, she floated on her !ac(, !o!!ing u) and down, her slow rhythm in )hase with the arri al of successi e wa e crests. She tried to imagine thousands of com)ara!le . . . cham!ers, simulated worlds, whate er these were--each a meticulous co)y of the nicest )art of someone4s home )lanet. Thousands of them, each with s(y and weather, ocean, geology, and indigenous life indistinguisha!le from the originals. $t seemed an extra agance, although it also suggested that a satisfactory outcome waswithin reach. No matter what your resources, you don4t manufacture a landsca)e on this scale for fi e s)ecimens from a doomed world. On the other hand ... The idea of extraterrestrials as :oo(ee)ers had !ecome something of a clichQ. 6hat if this si:a!le Station with its )rofusion of doc(ing )orts and en ironments was actually a :oo5 9See the exotic animals in their nati e ha!itats,9 she imagined some snail-headed !ar(er shouting. Tourists come from all o er the 'alaxy, es)ecially during school acations. And then when there4s a test, the Stationmasters tem)orarily mo e the critters and the tourists out, swee) the !each free of foot)rints, and gi e the newly arri ing )rimiti es a half day of rest and recreation !efore the test ordeal !egins. Or may!e this was how they stoc(ed the :oos. She thought a!out the animals loc(ed away in terrestrial :oos who were said to ha e ex)erienced difficulties !reeding in ca)ti ity. Somersaulting in the water, she di ed !eneath the surface in a moment of self-consciousness. She too( a few strong stro(es in toward the !each, and for the second time in twenty-four hours wished that she had had a !a!y. There was no one a!out, and not a sail on the hori:on. A few seagulls were stal(ing the !each, a))arently loo(ing for cra!s. She wished die had !rought some !read to gi e them. After die was dry, she dressed and ins)ected the doorway again. $t was merely waiting. She felt a continuing reluctance to enter. More than reluctance. May!e dread. She withdrew, (ee)ing it in iew. 7eneath a )alm tree, her (nees drawn u) under

her chin, she loo(ed out o er the long swee) of white sandy !each. After a while she got u) and stretched a little. Carrying the frond and the microcamera with one hand, she a))roached the door and turned the (no!. $t o)ened slightly. Through the crac( she could see the whiteca)s offshore. She ga e it another )ush, and it swung o)en without a sBuea(. The !each, !land and disinterested, stared !ac( at her. She shoo( her head and returned to the tree, resuming her )ensi e )osture. She wondered a!out the others. 6ere they now in some outlandish testing facility a idly chec(ing away on the multi)le-choice Buestions5 Or was it an oral examination5 And who were the examiners5 She felt the uneasiness well u) once again. Another intelligent !eing--inde)endently e ol ed on some distant world under unearthly )hysical conditions and with an entirely different seBuence of random genetic mutations-such a !eing would not resem!le anyone she (new. Or e en imagined. $f this was a Test station, then there were Stationmasters, and the Stationmas-ters would !e thoroughly, de astatingly nonhuman. There was something dee) within her that was !othered !y insects, sna(es, star-nosed moles. She was someone who felt a little shudder--to s)ea( )lainly, a tremor of loathing-- when confronted with e en slightly malformed human !eings. Cri))les, children with >own syndrome, e en the a))earance of "ar(insonism e o(ed in her, against her clear intellectual resol e, a feeling of disgust, a wish to flee. 'enerally she had !een a!le to contain her fear, although she wondered if she had e er hurt someone !ecause of it $t wasn4t something she thought a!out muchC she would sense her own em!arrassment and mo e on to another to)ic. 7ut now she worried that she would !e una!le e en to confront--much less to win o er for the human s)ecies-- an extraterrestrial !eing. They hadn4t thought to screen the Fi e for that. There had !een no effort to determine whether they were afraid of mice or dwarfs or Martians. $t had sim)ly not occurred to the examining committees. She wondered why they hadn4t thought of itC it seemed an o! ious enough )oint now.

$t had !een a mista(e to send her. "erha)s when confronted with some ser)enthaired galactic Stationmaster, she would disgrace herself--or far worse, ti) the grade gi en to the human s)ecies, in whate er unfathoma!le test was !eing administered, from )ass to fail. She loo(ed with !oth a))rehension and longing at the enigmatic door, its lower !oundary now under water. The tide was coming in. There was a figure on the !each a few hundred meters away. At first she thought it was *aygay, )erha)s out of the examining room early and come to tell her the good news. 7ut whoe er it was wasn4t wearing a Machine "roAect Aum) suit. Also, it seemed to !e someone younger, more igorous. She reached for the long lens, and for some reason hesitated. Standing u), she shielded her eyes from the Sun. @ust for a moment, it !ad seemed . . . $t was clearly im)ossi!le. They would not ta(e such shameless ad antage of her. 7ut she could not hel) herself. She was racing toward him on the hard sand near the water4s edge, her hair streaming !ehind her. %e loo(ed as he !ad in the most re-cent )icture of him she had seen, igorous, ha))y. %e had a day4s growth of !eard. She flew into his arms, so!!ing. 9%ello, "resh,9 he said, his right hand stro(ing the !ac( of her head. %is oice was right. She instantly remem!ered it. And his smell, his gait, his laugh. The way his !eard a!raded her chee(. All of it com!ined to shatter her self-)ossession. She could feel a massi e atone seal !eing )ried o)en and the first rays of light entering an ancient, almost forgotten tom!. She swallowed and tried to gain control of herself, !ut seemingly inexhausti!le wa es of anguish )oured out of her and she would wee) again. %e stood there )atiently, reassuring her with the same loo( she now remem!ered he had gi en her from his )ost at the !ottom of the staircase during her first solo Aourney down the !ig ste)s. More than anything else she had longed to see him again, !ut she had su))ressed the feeling, !een im)atient with it, !ecause it was so clearly im)ossi!le to fulfill. She

cried for all the years !etween herself and him. $n her girlhood and as a young woman she would dream that !e had come to her to tell her that his death had !een a mista(e. %e was really fine. %e would swee) her u) into his arms. 7ut she would )ay for those !rief res)ites with )oignant reawa(enings into a world in which he no longerwas. Still, she had cherished those dreams and willingly )aid their exor!itant tariff when the next morning she was forced to redisco er her loss and ex)erience the agony again. Those )hantom moments were all she had left of him. And now here he was--not a dream or a ghost, !ut flesh and !lood. Or close enough. %e had called to her from the stars, and she had come. She hugged him with all her might. She (new it was a tric(, a reconstruction, a simulation, !ut it was flawless. For a moment she held him !y the shoulders at arm4s length. %e was )erfect. $t was as if her father had these many years ago died and gone to %ea en, and finally--!y this unorthodox route--she had managed to reAoin him. She so!!ed and em!raced him again. $t too( her another minute to com)ose herself. $f it had !een 8en, say, she would ha e at least toyed with the idea that another dodecahedron--may!e a re)aired So iet Machine--had made a later relay from the &arth to the center of the 'alaxy. 7ut not for a moment could such a )ossi!ility !e entertained for him. %is remains were decaying in a cemetery !y a la(e. She wi)ed her eyes, laughing and crying at once. 9So, what do $ owe this a))arition to--ro!otics or hy)nosis59 9Am $ an artifact or a dream5 .ou might as( that a!out anything.9 9& en today, not a wee( goes !y when $ don4t thin( that $4d gi e anything-anything $ had--Aust to

s)end a few minutes with my father again.9 96ell, here $ am,9 he said cheerfully, his hands raised, ma(ing a half turn so she could !e sure that the !ac( of him was there as well. 7ut he was so young, younger surely than she. %e had !een only thirty-six when he died. May!e this was their way of calming her fears. $f so, they were ery ... thoughtful. She guided him !ac( toward herfew )ossessions, her aim around his waist. %e certainlyEeft su!stantial enough. $f there were gear trains and integrated circuits underneath his s(in, they were well hidden. 9So how are we doing59 she as(ed. The Buestion was am!iguous. 9$ mean--9 9$ (now. $t too( you many years from recei)t of the Message to your arri al here.9 9>o you grade on s)eed or accuracy59 9Neither.9 9.ou mean we ha en4t com)leted the Test yet59 %e did not answer. 96ell, ex)lain it to me.9 She said this in some distress. 9Some of us ha e s)ent years decry)ting the Message and !uilding the Machine. Arent you going to tell me what it4s all a!out59 9.ou4 e !ecome a real scra))er,9 he said, as if he really were her father, as if he were com)aring his last recollections of her with her )resent, still incom)letely de elo)ed self. %e ga e her hair an affectionate tousle. She remem!ered that from childhood also. 7ut how could they, -H,HHH light-years from &arth, (now her father4s affectionate gestures in longago and faraway 6isconsin5 Suddenly she (new.

9>reams,9 she said. 93ast night, when we were all dreaming, you were inside our heads, right5 .ou drained e erything we (now.9 96e only made co)ies. $ thin( e erything that used to !e in your head is still there. Ta(e a loo(. Tell me if anything4s missing.9 %e grinned, and went Hn. 9There was so much your tele ision )rograms didn4t tell us. Oh, we could figure out your technological le el )retty well, and a lot more a!out you. 7ut there4s so much more to your s)ecies than that, things we couldn4t )ossi!ly learn indirectly. $ recogni:e you may feel some !reach of )ri acy-9 9.ou4re Ao(ing.9 9--!ut we ha e so little time.9 9.ou mean the Test is o er5 6e answered all your Buestions while we were aslee) last night5 So5 >id we )ass or fail59 9$t isn4t li(e that,9 he said. 9$t isn4t li(e sixth grade.9 She had !een in the sixth grade the year he died. 9>on4t thin( of us as some interstellar sheriff gunning down outlaw ci ili:ations. Thin( of us more as the Office of the 'alactic Census. 6e collect information. $ (now you thin( no!ody has anything to learn from you !ecause you4re technologically so !ac(ward. 7ut there are other merits to a ci ili:ation.9 96hat merits59 9Oh, music. 3o ing(indness. /$ li(e that word.2 >reams. %umans are ery good at dreaming, although you4d ne er (now it from your tele ision. There are cultures all o er the 'alaxy that trade dreams.9 9.ou o)erate an interstellar cultural exchange5 That4s what this is all a!out5

.ou don4t care if some ra)acious, !loodthirsty ci ili:ation de elo)s interstellar s)aceflight59 9$ said we admire lo ing(indness.9 9$f the Na:is had ta(en o er the world, our world, and then de elo)ed interstellar s)aceflight, wouldn4t you ha e ste))ed in59 9.ou4d !e sur)rised how rarely something li(e that ha))ens. $n the long run, the aggressi e ci ili:ations destroy themsel es, almost always. $t4s their nature. They can4t hel) it. $n such a case, our Ao! would !e to lea e them alone. To ma(e sure that no one !others them. To let them wor( out their destiny.9 9Then why didn4t you lea e us alone5 $4m not com)laining, mind you. $4m only curious as to how the Office of the 'alactic Census wor(s. The first thing you )ic(ed u) from us was that %itler !roadcast. 6hy did you ma(e contact59 9The )icture, of course, was alarming. 6e could tell you were in dee) trou!le. 7ut the music told us something else. The 7eetho en told us there was ho)e. Marginal cases are our s)ecialty. 6e thought you could use a little hel). #eally, we can offer only a little. .ou understand. There are certain limitations im)osed !y causality.9 %e had crouched down, running his hands through the water, and was now drying them on his )ants. 93ast night, we loo(ed inside you. All fi e of you. There4s a lot in there< feelings, memories, instincts, learned !eha ior, insights, madness, dreams, lo es. 3o e is ery im)ortant. .ou4re an interesting mix.9 9All that in one night4s wor(59 She was taunting him a little. 96e had to hurry. 6e ha e a )retty tight schedule.9

96hy, is something a!out to . . .9 9No, it4s Aust that if we don4t engineer a consistent causality, it4ll wor( itself out on its own. Then it4s almost always worse.9 She had no idea what he meant. 9 ?&ngineer a consistent causality.4 My dad ne er used to tal( li(e that.9 9Certainly he did. >on4t you remem!er how he s)o(e to you5 %e was a well-read man, and from when you were a little girl he--+--tal(ed to you as an eBual. >on4t you remem!er59 She remem!ered. She remem!ered. She thought of her mother in the nursing home. 96hat a nice )endant,9 he said, with Aust that air of fatherly reser e she had always imagined he would ha e culti ated had he li ed to see her adolescence. 96ho ga e it to you59 9Oh this,9 she said, fingering the medallion. 9Actually it4s from some!ody $ don4t (now ery well. %e tested my faith. . . . %e . . . 7ut you must (now all this already.9 Again the grin. 9$ want to (now what you thin( of us,9 she said shortly, 9what you really thin(.9 %e did not hesitate for a moment. 9All right. $ thin( it4s ama:ing that you4 e done as well as you ha e. .ou4 e got hardly any theory of social organi:ation, astonishingly !ac(ward economic systems, no gras) of the machinery of historical )rediction, and ery little (nowledge a!out yoursel es. Considering how fast your world is changing, it4s ama:ing you ha en4t !lown yoursel es to !its !y now. That4s why we don4t want to write you off Aust yet. .ou humans ha e a certain talent for ada)ta!ility-at least in the short term.9

9That4s the issue, isn4t it59 9That4s one issue. .ou can see that, after a while, the ci ili:ations with only short-tem )ers)ecti es Aust aren4t around. They wor( out their destinies also.9 She wanted to as( him !ow he honestly felt a!out humans. Curiosity5 Com)assion5 No feelings whate er, Aust all in a day4s wor(5 $n his heart of hearts--or whate er eBui alent internal organs he )ossessed--did he thin( of her as she thought of... an ant5 7ut she could not !ring herself to raise the Buestion. She was too much afraid of the answer. From the intonation of his oice, from the nuances of his s)eech, she tried to gain some glim)se of who it was here disguised as her father. She !ad an enormous amount of direct ex)erience with human !eingsC the Stationmasters had less than a day4s. Could she not discern something of their true nature !eneath this amia!le and informati e facade5 7ut she couldn4t. $n the content of his s)eech he was, of course, not her father, nor did he )retend to !e. 7ut in e ery other res)ect he was uncannily close to Theodore F. Arroway, +0DF-+0GH, endor of hardware, lo ing hus!and and father. $f not for a continuous effort of will, she (new she would !e slo!!ering o er this, this. . . co)y. "art of her (e)t wanting to as( him how things had !een since he had gone to %ea en. 6hat were his iews on Ad ent and #a)ture5 6as anything s)ecial in the wor(s for the Millennium5 There were human cultures that taught an afterlife of the !lessed on mountainto)s or in clouds, in ca erns or oases, !ut she could not recall any in which if you were ery, ery good when you died you went to the !each. 9>o we ha e time for some Buestions !efore . . . whate er it is we ha e to do next59 9Sure. One or two anyway.9 ?Tell me a!out your trans)ortation system.9 9$ can do !etter than that,9 he said. 9$ can show you. Steady now.9

An amoe!a of !lac(ness lea(ed out from the :enith, o!scuring Sun and !lue s(y. 9That4s Buite a tric(,9 she gas)ed. The same sandy !each was !eneath her feet. She dug her toes in. O erhead ... was the Cosmos. They were, it seemed, high a!o e the Mil(y 6ay 'alaxy, loo(ing down on its s)iral structure and falling toward it at some im)ossi!le s)eed. %e ex)lained matter-of-factly, using her own familiar scientific language to descri!e the ast )inwheel-sha)ed structure. %e showed her the Orion S)iral Arm, @% which the Sun was, in this e)och, em!edded. $nterior to it, in decreasing order of mythological significance, were the Sagittarius Arm, the NormaEScutum Arm, and the Three 8ilo)arsec Arm. A networ( of straight lines a))eared, re)resenting the trans)ortation system they had used. $t was li(e the illuminated ma)s in the "aris Metro. &da had !een right. &ach station, she deduced, was in a star system with a low-mass dou!le !lac( hole. She (new the !lac( holes couldn4t ha e resulted from stellar colla)se, from the normal e olution of massi e star systems, !ecause they were too small. May!e they were )rimordial, left o er from the 7ig 7ang, ca)tured !y some unimagina!le starshi) and towed to their designated station. Or may!e they were made from scratch. She wanted to as( a!out this, !ut the tour was )ressing !reathlessly onward. There was a dis( of glowing hydrogen rotating a!out the center of the 'alaxy, and within it a ring of molecular clouds rushing outward toward the )eri)hery of the Mil(y 6ay. %e showed her the ordered motions in the giant molecular cloud com)lex Sagittarius 7D, which had for decades !een a fa orite hunting ground for com)lex organic molecules !y her radio-astronomical colleagues on &arth. Closer to the center, they encountered another giant molecular cloud, and then Sagittarius A 6est, an intense radio source that &llie herself had o!ser ed at Argus. And Aust adAacent, at the ery center of the 'alaxy, loc(ed in a )assionate gra itational em!race, was a )air of immense !lac( holes. The mass of one of them was fi emillion suns. #i ers of gas the si:e of solar systems were )ouring down its maw. Two colossal--she ruminated on the limitations of the languages of &arth--two su)ermas-i e !lac( holes are or!iting one another at the center of

the 'alaxy. One had !een (nown, or at least strongly sus)ected. 7ut two5 Shouldn4t that ha e shown u) as a >o))ler dis)lacement of s)ectral lines5 She imagined a sign under one of them reading &NT#ANC& and under the other &N$T. At the moment, the entrance was in useC the exit was merely there. And that was where this Station, 'rand Central Station, was-Aust safely outside the !lac( holes at the center of the 'alaxy. The s(ies were made !rilliant !y millions of near!y young starsC !ut the stars, the gas, and the dust were !eing eaten u) !y the entrance !lac( hole. 9$t goes somewhere, right59 she as(ed. 9Of course.9 9Can yon tell me where59 9Sure. All this stuff winds u) in Cygnus A.9 Cygnus A was something she (new a!out. &xce)t only for a near!y su)erno a remnant in Cassio)eia, it was the !rightest radio source in the sides of &arth. She had calculated that in one second Cygnus A )roduces more energy than the Sun does in FH,HHH years. The radio source was GHH million light-years away, far !eyond the Mil(y 6ay, out in the realm of the galaxies. As with many extragalactic radio sources, two enormous Aets of gas, fleeing a)art at almost the s)eed of tight, were ma(ing a com)lex we! of #an(ine-%ugoniot shoc( fronts with the thin intergalactic gas--and )roducing in the )rocess a radio !eacon that shone !rightly o er most of the uni erse. All the matter in this enormous structure, ,HH,HHH light-years across, was )ouring out of a tiny, almost incons)icuous )oint in s)ace exactly midway !etween the Aets. 9.ou4re ma(ing Cygnus A59 She half-remem!ered a summer4s night in Michigan when she was a girl. She had feared she would fall into the s(y. 9Oh, it4s not Aust us. This is a... coo)erati e )roAect ofmany galaxies. That4s what we mainly do--engineering. Only a . . . few of us are in ol ed with emerging ci ili:ations.9 At each )ause she had felt a (ind of tingling in her head, a))roximately in the left )arietal lo!e.

?There are coo)erati e )roAects !etween galaxies59 she as(ed. 93ots of galaxies, each with a (ind of Central Administration5 6ith hundreds of !illions of stars in each galaxy. And then those administrations coo)erate. To )our millions of suns into Centaurus . . . sorry, Cygnus A5 The . . . Forgi e me. $4m Aust staggered !y the scale. 6hy would you do all this5 6hate er for59 9.ou mustn4t thin( of the uni erse as a wilderness. $t hasn4t !een that for !illions of years,9 he said. 9Thin( of it more as . . . culti ated.9 Again a tingling. 97ut what for5 6hat4s there to culti ate59 9The !asic )ro!lem is easily stated. Now don4t get scared off !y the scale. .ou4re an astronomer, after all. The )ro!lem is that the uni erse is ex)anding, and there4s not enough matter in it to sto) the ex)ansion. After a while, no new galaxies, no new stars, no new )lanets, no newly arisen lifeforms--Aust the same old crowd. & erything4s getting run-down. $t4ll !e !oring. So in Cygnus A we4re testing out the technology to ma(e something new. .ou might call it an ex)eriment in ur!an renewal. $t4s not our only trial run. Sometime later we might want to close off a )iece of the uni erse and )re ent s)ace from getting more and more em)ty as the aeons )ass. $ncreasing the local matter density4s the way to do it, of course. $t4s good honest wor(.9 3i(e running a hardware store in 6isconsin. $f Cygnus A was GHH million light-years away, then astronomers on &arth--or anywhere in the Mil(y 6ay for that matter--were seeing it as it had !een GHH million years ago. 7ut on &arth GHH million years ago, she (new, there had hardly !een any life e en in the oceans !ig enough to sha(e a stic( at. They were old. Six hundred million years ago, on a !each li(e this one... exce)t no cra!s, no gulls, no )alm trees. She tried to imagine some microsco)ic )lant washed ashore, securing a tremulous toehold Aust a!o e the water line, while these !eings were occu)ied with ex)erimental galactogenesis and introductory cosmic engineering. 9.ou4 e !een )ouring matter into Cygnus A for the last six hundred million years59

96ell, what you4 e detected !y radio astronomy was Aust some of our early feasi!ility testing. 6e4re much further along now.9 And in due course, in another few hundred million years she imagined, radio astronomers on &arth--if any--will detect su!stantial )rogress in the reconstruction of the uni erse around Cygnus A. She steeled herself for further re elations and owed she would not let them intimidate her. There was a hierarchy of !eings on a scale she had not imagined. 7ut the &arth had a )lace, a significance in that hierarchyC they would not ha e gone to all this trou!le for nothing. The !lac(ness rushed !ac( to the :enith and was consumedC Sun and !lue s(y returned. The scene was the same< surf, sand, )alms, Magritte door, microcamera, frond, and her... father. 9Those mo ing interstellar clouds and rings near the center of the 'alaxy-aren4t they due to )eriodic ex)losions around here5 $sn4t it dangerous to locate the Station here59 9&)isodic, not )eriodic. $t only ha))ens on a small scale, nothing li(e the sort of thing we4re doing in Cygnus A. And it4s managea!le. 6e (now when it4s coming and we generally Aust hun(er down. $f it4s really dangerous, we ta(e the Station somewhere else for a while. This is all routine, you understand.9 9Of course. #outine. .ou !uilt it all5 The su!ways, $ mean. .ou and those other . . . engineers from other galaxies59 9Oh no, we ha en4t !uilt any of it.9 9$4 e missed something. %el) me understand.9 9$t seems to !e the same e erywhere. $n our case, we emerged a long time ago on many different worlds in the Mil(y 6ay. The first of us de elo)ed interstellar s)ace-flight, and

e entually chanced on one of the transit stations. Of course, we didn4t (now what it was. 6e weren4t e en sore it was artificial until the first of us were !ra e enough to slide down.9 96ho4s ?we45 .ou mean the ancestors of your . . . race, your s)ecies59 9No, no. 6e4re many s)ecies from many worlds. & entually we found a large num!er of su!ways-arious ages, arious styles of ornamentation, and all a!andoned. Most were still in good wor(ing condition. All we did was ma(e some re)airs and im)ro ements.9 9No other artifacts5 No dead cities5 No records of what ha))ened5 No su!way !uilders left59 %e shoo( his head. 9No industriali:ed, a!andoned )lanets59 %e re)eated the gesture. 9There was a 'alaxy-wide ci ili:ation that )ic(ed u) and left without lea ing a trace--exce)t for the stations59 9That4s more or less right. And it4s the same in other galaxies also. 7illions of years ago, they all went somewhere. 6e ha en4t the slightest idea where.9 97ut where could they go59 %e shoo( his head for the third time, !ut now ery slowly. 9So then you4re not . . .9 9No, we4re Aust careta(ers,9 he said. 9May!e someday they4ll come !ac(.9 9O(ay, Aust one more,9 she )leaded, holding her index finger u) !efore her as, )ro!a!ly, had !een her )ractice at age two. 9One more Buestion.9 9All right,9 he answered tolerantly. 97ut we only ha e a few minutes left.9 She glanced at the doorway again, and su))ressed a tremor as a small, almost

trans)arent cra! sidled !y. 9$ want to (now a!out your myths, your religions. 6hat fills you with awe5 Or are those who ma(e the numinous una!le to feel it59 9.ou ma(e the numinous also. No, $ (now what you4re as(ing. Certainly we feel it. .ou recogni:e that some of this is hard for me to communicate to you. 7ut $4ll gi e yon an exam)le of what you4re as(ing for. $ don4t say this is it exactly, !ut it4ll gi e you a . . .9 %e )aused momentarily and again she felt a tingle, this time in her left occi)ital lo!e. She entertained the notion that he was rifling through her neurons. %ad he missed something last night5 $f so, she was glad. $t meant they weren4t )erfect. 9... fla or of our numinons. $t concerns )i, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. .ou (now it well, of course, and you also (now you can ne er come to the end of )i. There4s no creature in the uni erse, no matter how smart, who could calculate )i to the last digit--!ecause there is no last digit, only an infinite num!er of digits. .our mathematicians ha e made an effort to calculate it out to ...9 Again she felt the tingle. 9... none of you seem to (now.. .. 3et4s say the ten-!illionth )lace. .ou won4t !e sur)rised to !ear that other mathematicians ha e gone further. 6ell, e entually--let4s say it4s in the ten-to-the-twentieth-)ower )lace--something ha))ens. The randomly arying digits disa))ear, and for an un!elie a!ly long time there4s nothing !ut ones and :eros.9 $dly, he was tracing a circle out on the sand with his toe. She )aused a heart!eat !efore re)lying. 9And the :eros and ones finally sto)5 .ou get !ac( to a random seBuence of

digits59 Seeing a faint sign of encouragement from him, she raced on. 9And the num!er of :eros and ones5 $s it a )roduct of )rime num!ers59, ele en of them.9 9.ou4re telling me there4s a message in ele en dimensions hidden dee) inside the num!er )i5 Someone in the uni erse communicates !y ... mathematics5 7ut ... hel)me, $4m really ha ing trou!le understanding you. Mathematics isn4t ar!itrary. $ mean )i has to ha e the same alue e erywhere. %ow can you hide a message inside )i5 $t4s !uilt into the fa!ric of the uni erse.9 9&xactly.9 She stared at him. 9$t4s e en !etter than that,9 he continued. 93et4s assume that only in !ase-ten arithmetic does the seBuence of :eros and ones show u), although you4d recogni:e that something funny4s going on in any other arithmetic. 3et4s also assume that the !eings who first made this disco ery had ten fingers. .ou see how it loo(s5 $t4s as if )i has !een waiting for !illions of years for ten-fingered mathematicians with fast com)uters to come along. .ou see, the Message was (ind of addressed to us.9 97ut this is Aust a meta)hor, right5 $t4s not really )i and the ten to the twentieth )lace5 .ou don4t actually na e ten fingers.9 9Not really.9 %e smiled at her again. 96ell, for hea en4s sa(e, what does the Message say59 %e )aused for a moment, raised an index finger, and then )ointed to the door. A small crowd of )eo)le was excitedly )ouring out of it. They were in a Ao ial mood, as if this were a long-delayed )icnic outing. &da was accom)anying a stunning young woman in a !rightly colored !louse and s(irt, her hair neatly co ered with the lacy gele fa ored !y Moslem women in .oru!alandC he was clearly o erAoyed to see her. From )hotogra)hs he had

shown, &llie recogni:ed her as &da4s wife. Su(ha ati was holding hands with an earnest young man, his eyes large and soulfulC she assumed it was Surindar 'hosh, >e i4s long-dead medicalstudent hus!and. Ni was in animated discourse with a small igorous man of commanding demeanor, he had droo)ing wis)y mustaches and was gar!ed in a richly !rocaded and !eaded gown. &llie imagined him )ersonally o erseeing the constrution of the funerary model of the Middle 8ingdom, shouting instructions to those who )oured the mercury. *aygay ushered o er a girl of ele en or twel e, her !lond !raids !o!!ing as she wal(ed. 9This is my granddaughter, Nina . . . more or less. My 'rand >uchess. $ should ha e introduced you !efore. $n Moscow.9 &llie em!raced the girl. She was relie ed that *aygay had not a))eared with Meera, the ecdysiast. &llie o!ser ed his tenderness toward Nina and decided she li(ed him more than e er. O er all the years she had (nown him, he had (e)t this secret )lace within his heart well hidden. 9$ ha e not !een a good father to her mother,9 he confided. ?These days, $ hardly see Nina at all.9 She loo(ed around her. The Stationmasters had )roduced for each of the Fi e what could only !e descri!ed as their dee)est lo es. "erha)s it was only to ease the !arriers of communication with another, a))allingly different s)ecies. She was glad none of them were ha))ily chatting with an exact co)y of themsel es. 6hat if you could do this !ac( on &arth5 she wondered. 6hat if, des)ite all our )retense and disguise, it was necessary to a))ear in )u!lic with the )erson we lo ed most of all5 $magine this a )rereBuisite for social discourse on &arth. $t would change e erything. She imagined a )halanx of mem!ers of one sex surrounding a solitary mem!er of the other. Or chains of )eo)le. Circles. The letters 9%9 or 9J.9 3a:y

figure-1s. .ou could monitor dee) affections at a glance, Aust !y loo(ing at the geometry--a (ind of general relati ity a))lied to social )sychology. The )ractical difficulties of such an arrangement would !e considera!le, !ut no one would !e a!le to lie a!out lo e. The Careta(ers were in a )olite !ut determined hurry. There was not much time to tal(. The entrance to the air-loc( of the dodecahedron was now isi!le, roughly where it had !een when they first arri ed. 7y symmetry, or )erha)s !ecause of some interdimensional conser ation law, the Magritte doorway had anished. They introduced e eryone. She felt silly, in more ways than one, ex)laining in &nglish to the &m)eror Jin who her father was. 7ut Ni dutiftilly translated, and they all solemnly shoo( hands as if this were their first encounter, )erha)s at a su!ur!an !ar!ecue. &da4s wife was a considera!le !eauty, and Surindar 'hosh was gi ing her a more than casual ins)ection. >e i did not seem to mindC )erha)s she was merely gratified at the accuracy of the im)osture. 96here did you go when you ste))ed through the doorway59 &llie softly as(ed her. 9Four-sixteen Maidenhall 6ay,9 she answered. &llie loo(ed at her !lan(ly. 93ondon, +0;-. 6ith Surindar.9 She nodded her head in his direction. 97efore he died.9 &llie wondered what she would ha e found had she crossed that threshold on the !each. 6isconsin in the late ?,Hs, )ro!a!ly. She hadn4t shown u) on schedule, so he had come to find her. %e had done that in 6isconsin more than once. &da had also !een told a!out a message dee) inside a transcendental num!er, !ut in his story it was not 5 or e, the !ase of natural logarithms, !ut a class of num!ers she had ne er heard of. 6ith an infinity of transcendental num!ers, they would ne er (now for sure which num!er to examine !ac( on &arth. 9$ hungered to stay and wor( on it,9 he told &llie softly, 9and $ sensed they needed hel)--some way of thin(ing a!out the deci)herment that hadn4t occurred to them. 7ut $ thin( it4s something ery )ersonal for them. They don4t want to share it with others. And realistically, $ su))ose we Aust aren4t smart enough to gi e them a hand.9

They hadn4t decry)ted the message in 55 The Station-masters, the Careta(ers, the designers of new galaxies hadn4t figured out a message that had !een sitting under their thum!s for a galactic rotation or two5 6as the message that difficult, or were they .. . 5 9Time to go home,9 her father said gently. $t was wrenching. She didn4t want to go. She tried staring at the )alm frond. She tried as(ing more Buestions. 9%ow do you mean ?go home45 .ou mean we4re going to emerge somewhere in the solar system5 %ow will we get down to &arth59 9.ou4ll see,9 he answered. 9$t4ll !e interesting.9 %e )ut his arm around her waist, guiding her toward the o)en airloc( door. $t was li(e !edtime. .ou could !e cute, you could as( !right Buestions, and may!e they4d let you stay u) a little later. $t used to wor(, at least a little. 9The &arth is lin(ed u) now, right5 7oth ways. $f we can go home, you can come down to us in a Aiffy. .ou (now, that ma(es me awfully ner ous. 6hy don4t yon Aust se er the lin(5 6e4ll ta(e it from here.9 9Sorry, "resh,9 he re)lied, as if she had already shamelessly )rolonged her eight o4cloc( !edtime. 6as he sorry a!out !edtime, or a!out !eing unready to deno::le the tunnel5 9For a while at least, it4ll !e o)en only to in!ound traffic,9 he said. 97ut we don4t ex)ect to use it.9 She li(ed the isolation of the &arth from *ega. She )referred a fifty-two-yearlong leeway !etween unacce)ta!le !eha ior on &arth and the arri al of a )uniti e ex)edition. The !lac( hole lin( was uncomforta!le. They could arri e almost instantaneously, )erha)s only in %o((aido, )erha)s anywhere on &arth. $t was a transition to what %adden had called microinter ention. No matter what assurances they ga e, they would watch us more closely now. No more dro))ing in for a casual loo(-see e ery few million

years. She ex)lored her discomfort further. %ow. . . theological . . . the circumstances had !ecome. %ere were !eings who li e in the s(y, !eings enormously (nowledgea!le and )ow-erful, !eings concerned for our sur i al, !eings with a set of ex)ectations a!out how we should !eha e. They disclaim such a role, !ut they could clearly isit reward and )unishment, life and death, on the )uny inha!itants of &arth. Now how is this different, she as(ed herself, from the old-time religion5 The answer occurred to her instantly< $t was a matter of e idence. $n her ideota)es, in the data the others had acBuired, there would !e hard e idence of the existence of the Station, of what went on here, of the !lac(hole transit system. There would !e fi e inde)endent, mutually corro!orati e stories su))orted !y com)elling )hysical e idence. This one was fact, not hearsay and hocus-)ocus. She turned toward him and dro))ed the frond. 6ordlessly, he stoo)ed and returned it to her. 9.ou4 e !een ery generous in answering all my Buestions. Can $ answer any for you59 9Than(s. .ou answered all our Buestions last night.9 9That4s it5 No commandments5 No instructions for the )ro incials59 9$t doesn4t wor( that way, "resh. .ou4re grown u) now. .ou4re on your own.9 %e tilted his head, ga e her that grin, and she flew into his arms, her eyes again filling with tears. $t was a long em!race. & entually, she felt him gently disengage her arms. $t was time to go to !ed. She imagined holding u) her index finger and as(ing for still one more minute. 7ut she did not want to disa))oint him. 97ye, "resh,9 he said. 9'i e your mother my lo e.9 ?Ta(e care,9 she re)lied in a small oice. She too( one last loo( at the seashore at the center of the 'alaxy. A )air of sea!irds, )etrels )erha)s, were sus)ended on some rising column of air. They remained aloft with hardly a !eat of their wings. @ust at the entrance to the airloc(, she turned and called to

him. 96hat does your Message say5 The one in )i59 96e don4t (now,9 he re)lied a little sadly, ta(ing a few ste)s toward her. 9May!e it4s a (ind of statistical accident. 6e4re still wor(ing on it.9 The !ree:e stirred u), tousling her hair once again. 96ell, gi e us a call when you figure it out,9 she said. C%A"T&# D+ Causality As flies to wanton !oys are we to the gods-They (ill us for their s)ort. - 6$33$AM S%A8&S"&A#& 8ing 3ear, $*, i, -G 6ho is all-)owerful should fear e erything. - "$&##& CO#N&$33& Cinna /+GFH2, Act $*, Scene $$ T%&. 6&#& O erAoyed to !e !ac(. They whoo)ed it u), giddy with excitement. They clim!ed o er the chairs. They !ugged and )atted erne another on the !ac(. All of them were dose to tears. They had succeeded--!ut not only that, they had returned, safely negotiating all the tunnels. A!ru)tly, amidst a !ail of static, the radio !egan !lar-ing out the Machine status re)ort. All three !en:els were decelerating. The !uilt-u) electrical charge was dissi)ating. From the commentary, it was clear that "roAect had no idea of what had ha))ened. &llie wondered how much time had )assed. She glanced at her watch. $t had !een a day at least, which would !ring them well into the year DHHH. A))ro)riate enough. Oh, wait till they hear what we ha e to tell them, she thought. #eas-suringly, she )atted the com)artment where the do:ens of ideo microcassettes were stored. %ow the world would change when these films were releasedPThe s)ace !etween and around the !en:els had !een re-)ressuri:ed. The airloc( doors were !eing o)ened. Now there were radio inBuiries a!out their well-!eing.

96e4re fineP9 she shouted !ac( into her micro)hone. 93et us out. .ou won4t !elie e what ha))ened to us.9 The Fi e emerged from the airloc( ha))y, effusi ely greeting their comrades who had hel)ed !uild and o)erate the Machine. The @a)anese technicians saluted them. "roAect officials surged toward them. >e i said Buietly to &llie, 9As far as $ can tell, e eryone4s wearing exactly the same clothing they did yesterday. 3oo( at that ghastly yellow tie on "eter *alerian.9 9Oh, he wears that old thing all the time,9 &llie re)lied. 9%is wife ga e it to him.9 The cloc(s read +,<DH. Acti ation had occurred close to three o4cloc( the )re ious afternoon. So they had !een gone Aust a little o er twenty-four . . . 96hat day is it59 she as(ed. They loo(ed at her uncom-)rehendingly. Something was wrong. 9"eter, for hea en4s sa(e, what day is it59 9%ow do you mean59 *alerian answered. 9$t4s today. Friday, >ecem!er -+, +000. $t4s New .ear4s & e. $s that what you mean5 &llie, are you all right59 *aygay was telling Archangels(y to let him !egin at the !eginning, !ut only after his cigarettes were )roduced. "roAect officials and re)resentati es of the Machine Consortium were con erging around them. She saw der %eer wedging his way to her through the crowd. 9From your )ers)ecti e, what ha))ened59 she as(ed as finally he came within con ersational range. 9Nothing. The acuum system wor(ed, the !en:els s)un u), they accumulated Buite an electrical charge, they reached the )rescri!ed s)eed, and then e erything re ersed.9

96hat do you mean, ?e erything re ersed459 9The !en:els slowed down and the charge dissi)ated. The system was re)ressuri:ed, the !en:els sto))ed, and all of you came out. The whole thing too( may!e twenty minutes, and we couldn4t tal( to you while the !en:els were s)inning. >id you ex)erience anything at all59 She laughed. 98en, my !oy,9 she said, 9ha e $ got a story for you.9 There was a )arty for )roAect )ersonnel to cele!rate Machine Acti ation and the momentous New .ear. &llie and her tra eling com)anions did not attend. The tele ision stations were full of cele!rations, )arades, exhi!its, retro-s)ecti es, )rognostications and o)timistic addresses !y national leaders. She caught a glim)se of remar(s !y the A!!ot Ktsumi, !eatific as e er. 7ut she could not dawdle. "roAect >irectorate had Buic(ly concluded, from the fragments of their ad entures that the Fi e had time to recount, that something had gone wrong. They found themsel es hustled away from the milling crowds of go ernment and Consortium officials for a )reliminary interrogation. $t was thought )rudent, )roAect officials ex)lained, for each of the Fi e to !e Buestioned se)arately. >er %eer and *alerian conducted her de!riefing in asmall conference room. There were other )roAect officials )resent, including *aygay4s former student Anatoly 'old-mann. She understood that 7o!!y 7ui, who s)o(e #ussian, was sitting in for the Americans during *aygay4s interrogation. They listened )olitely, and "eter was encouraging now and again. 7ut they had difficulty understanding the seBuence of e ents. Much of what she related somehow worried them. %er excitement was noncontagious. $t was hard for them to gras) that the dodecahedron had !een gone for twenty minutes, much less a day, !ecause the armada of instruments exterior to the !en:els had filmed and recorded the e ent, and re)orted nothing extraordinary. All that had ha))ened. *alerian ex)lained, was that the !en:els had reached their )rescri!ed s)eed, se eral instruments of un(nown )ur)ose had the eBui alent of their needles mo e, the !en:els slowed down and sto))ed, and the Fi e emerged in a state of great excitement.

%e didn4t exactly say 9!a!!ling nonsense,9 !ut she could sense his concern. They treated her with deference, !ut she (new what they were thin(ing< The only function of the Machine was in twenty minutes to )roduce a memora!le illusion, or--Aust )ossi!ly--to dri e the Fi e of them mad. She )layed !ac( the ideo microcassettes for them, each carefully la!eled< 9*ega #ing System,9 for exam)le, or 9*ega #adio /52 Facility,9 9Juintu)le System,9 9'alactic Center Starsca)e,9 and one !earing the inscri)tion 97each.9 She inserted them in 9)lay9 mode one after the other. They had nothing on them. The cassettes were !lan(. She couldn4t understand what had gone wrong. She had carefully learned the o)eration of the ideo microcam-era system and had used it successfully in tests !efore Machine Acti ation. She had e en done a s)ot chec( on some of the footage after they had left the *ega system. She was further de astated later when she was told that the instruments carried !y the others had also somehow failed. "eter *alerian wanted to !elie e her, der %eer also. 7ut it was hard for them, e en with the !est will in the world. The story the Fi e had come !ac( with was a little, well, unex)ected--and entirely unsu))orted !y )hysical e idence. Also, there hadn4t !een enough time. They had !een out of sight for only twenty minutes. This was not the rece)tion she had ex)ected. 7ut she was confident it would all sort itself out. For the moment, she was content to )lay the ex)erience !ac( in her mind and ma(e some detailed notes. She wanted to !e sure she would forget nothing. Although a front of extremely cold air was mo ing in from 8amchat(a, it was still unseasona!ly warm when late on New .ear4s >ay, a num!er of unscheduled flights arri ed at Sa))oro $nternational Air)ort. The new American Secretary of >efense, Michael 8it:, and a team of hastily gathered ex)erts arri ed in an air)lane mar(ed 9The Knited States of America.9 Their )resence was confirmed !y 6ashington only when the story was a!out to !rea( in %o((aido. The terse )ress release noted that the

isit was routine, that there was no crisis, no danger, and that 9nothing extraordinary has !een re)orted at the Machine Systems $ntegration Facility northeast of Sa))oro.9 A Tu-+DH had flown o ernight from Moscow, carrying, among others, Stefan 7aruda and Timofei 'otsrid:e. >ou!tless neither grou) was delighted to s)end this New .ear4s holiday away from their families. 7ut the weather in %o((aido was a )leasant sur)riseC it was so warm that the scul)tures in Sa))oro were melting, and the dodecahedron of ice had !ecome an almost featureless small glacier, the water dri))ing off rounded surfaces that once had !een the edges of the )entagonal surfaces. Two days later, a se ere winter storm struc(, and all traffic into the Machine facility, e en !y fourwheel-dri e ehicles, was interru)ted. Some radio and all tele ision lin(s were se eredC a))arently a microwa e relay tower had !een !lown down. >uring most of the new interrogations, the only communication with the outside world was !y tele)hone. And Aust concei a!ly, &llie thought, !y dodecahedron. She was tem)ted to steal herself on!oard ands)in u) the !en:els. She enAoyed ela!orating on this fantasy. 7ut in fact there was no way to (now whether the Machine would e er wor( again, at least from this side of the tunnel. %e had said it would not. She allowed herself to thin( of the seashore again. And him. 6hate er ha))ened next, a wound dee) within her was !eing healed. She could feel the scar tissue (nitting. $t had !een the most ex)ensi e )sychothera)y in the history of the world. And that4s saying a lot, she thought. >e!riefings were gi en to Ni and Su(ha ati !y re)resentati es of their nations. Although Nigeria )layed no significant role in Message acBuisition or Machine construction, &da acBuiesced readily enough to a long inter iew with Ni-gerian officials. 7ut it was )erfunctory com)ared with the interrogations administered to them !y )roAect )ersonnel. *aygay and &llie underwent still more ela!orate de!riefings !y the high-le el teams !rought from the So iet Knion and the Knited States for this s)ecific )ur)ose. At first these American and So iet interrogations excluded foreign nationals, !ut after com)laints were carried through the 6orld Machine Consortium, the K.S. and the S.K. relented, and the sessions were again

internationali:ed. 8it: was in charge of her de!riefing, and considering what short notice he must ha e !een gi en, he had arri ed sur)risingly well )re)ared. *alerian and der %eer )ut in an occasional good word for her, and e ery now and then as(ed a searching Buestion. 7ut it was 8it:4s show. %e told her he was a))roaching her story s(e)tically !ut constructi ely, in what he ho)ed was the !est scientific tradition. %e trusted she would not mista(e the directness of his Buestions for some )ersonal animus. %e held her only in the greatest res)ect. %e, in turn, would not )ermit his Audgment to !e clouded !y the fact that he had !een against the Machine "roAect from the !eginning. She de- . cided to let this )athetic dece)tion )ass unchallenged, and !egan her story. At first he listened closely, as(ed occasional Buestions ofdetail, and a)ologi:ed when he interru)ted. 7y the second day no such courtesies were in e idence. 9So the Nigerian is isited !y his wife, the $ndian !y her dead hus!and, the #ussian !y his cute granddaughter, the Chinese !y some Mongol warlord--9 9Jin was not a Mongol--9 9--and you, for crissa(e, you get isited !y your dearly de)arted father, who tells you that he and his friends ha e !een !usy re!uilding the uni erse, for crissa(e. ?Our Father 6ho art in %ea en . . .45 This is straight religion. This is straight cultural anthro)ology. This is straight Sigmund Freud. >on4t you see that5 Not only do you claim your . own father came !ac( from the dead, you actually ex)ect us to !elie e that he made the uni erse--9 9.ou4re distorting what--9 9Come off it, Arroway. >on4t insult our intelligence. .ou don4t )resent us with a shred of e idence, and you ex)ect us to !elie e the !iggest coc(-and-!ull story of all time5 .ou (now !etter than that. .ou4re a

smart lady. %ow could you figure to get away with it59 She )rotested. *alerian )rotested alsoC this (ind of interrogation, he said, was a waste of time. The Machine was undergoing sensiti e )hysical tests at this moment. That was how the alidity of her story could !e chec(ed. 8it: agreed the )hysical e idence would !e im)ortant. 7ut the nature of ArrowayWs story, he argued, was re ealing, a means of understanding what had actually ha))ened. 9Meeting your father in %ea en and all that, >r. Arroway, is telling, !ecause you4 e !een raised in the @udeo-Christian culture. .ou4re essentially the only one of the Fi e from that culture, and you4re the only one who meets your father. .our story is Aust too )at. $t4s not imaginati e enough.9 This was worse than she had thought )ossi!le. She felt a moment of e)istemological )anic--as when your car is not where you )ar(ed it, or the door you loc(ed last night a aAar in the morning. 9.ou thin( we made all this u)59 96ell, $4ll tell you. >r. Arroway. 6hen $ was eryyoung, $ wor(ed in the Coo( County "rosecutor4s office. 6hen they were thin(ing a!out indicting some!ody, they as(ed three Buestions.9 %e tic(ed them off on his fingers. 9>id he ha e the o))ortunity5 >id he ha e the means5 >id he ha e the moti e59 9To do what59 %e loo(ed at her in disgust. 97ut our watches showed that we4d !een gone more than a day,9 she )rotested. 9$ don4t (now how $ could ha e !een so stu)id,9 8it: said, stri(ing his forehead with his )alm. 9.ou4 e demolished my argument. $ forgot that it4s im)ossi!le to set your watch ahead !y a day.9 97ut that im)lies a cons)iracy. .ou thin( Ni lied5 .ou thin( &da lied5 .ou--9

96hat $ thin( is we should mo e on to something more im)ortant. .ou (now, "eter9--8it: turned toward *alerian--9$4m )ersuaded you4re right. A first draft of the Materials Assessment #e)ort will !e here tomorrow morning. 3et4s not waste more time on . . . stories. 6e4ll adAourn till then.9 >er %eer had said not a word through the entire afternoon4s session. %e offered her an uncertain grin, and she couldn4t hel) contrasting it with her father4s. Sometimes 8en4s ex)ression seemed to urge her, to im)lore her. 7ut to what end she had no way of (nowingC )erha)s to change her story. %e had remem!ered her recollections of her childhood, and he (new how she had grie ed for her father. Clearly he was weighing the )ossi!ility that she had gone cra:y. 7y extension, she su))osed, he was also considering the li(elihood that the others had gone cra:y, too. Mass hysteria. Shared delusion. Folie X cinB. 96ell, here it is,9 8it: said. The re)ort was a!out a centimeter thic(. %e let it fall to the ta!le, scattering a few )encils. 9.ou4ll want to loo( through it, >r. Arroway, !ut $ can gi e you a Buic( summary. O(ay59 She nodded assent. She had heard through the gra)e ine that the re)ort was highly fa ora!le to the account the Fi e had gi en. She ho)ed it would )ut an end to the nonsense. 9The dodecahedron a))arently9--he laid great stress on this word--9has !een ex)osed to a ery different en ironment than the !en:els and the su))orting structures. $t4s a))arently !een su!Aected to huge tensile and com)res-sional stresses. $t4s a miracle the thing didn4t fall to )ieces. So it4s a miracle you and the others didn4t fall to )ieces at the same time. Also, it4s a))arently seen an intense radiation en ironment-there4s low-le el induced radioacti ity, cosmic ray trac(s, and so on. $t4s another miracle that you sur i ed the radiation. Nothing else has !een added or ta(en away. There4s no sign of erosion or scra)ing on the side ertices that you claim (e)t !um)ing into the walls of the tunnels. There4s not e en any scoring, as there would ha e !een if it entered the &arth4s atmos)here at high elocity.9 9So doesn4t that confirm our story5 Michael, thin( a!out it. Tensile and com)ressional stresses--tidal

forces--are exactly what you ex)ect if you fall down a classical !lac( hole. That4s !een (nown for fifty years at least. $ don4t (now why we didn4t feel it, !ut may!e the dodec )rotected us somehow. And high radiation doses from the inside of the !lac( hole and from the en ironment of the 'alactic Center, a (nown gamma ray source. There4s inde)endent e idence for !lac( holes, and there4s inde)endent e idence for a 'alactic Center. 6e didn4t ma(e those things u). $ don4t understand the a!sence of scra)ing, !ut that de)ends on the interaction of a material we4 e hardly studied with a material that4s com)letely un(nown. $ wouldn4t ex)ect any scoring or charring, !ecause we don4t claim we entered through the &arth4s atmos)here. $t seems to me the e idence almost entirely confirms our story. 6hat4s the )ro!lem59 9The )ro!lem is you )eo)le are too cle er. Too cle er. 3oo( at it from the )oint of iew of a s(e)tic. Ste) !ac( and loo( at the !ig )icture. There4s a !unch of !right )eo)ie in different countries who thin( the world is going to hell in a hand!as(et. They claim to recei e a com)lex Message from s)ace.9 9Claim59 93et me continue. They decry)t the Message and announce instructions on how to !uild a ery com)licated Machine at a cost of trillions of dollars. The world4s in a funny condition, the religions are all sha(y a!out the oncoming Millennium, and to e ery!ody4s sur)rise the Machine gets !uilt. There4s one or two slight changes in )ersonnel, and then essentially these same )eo)le--9 9$t4s not the same )eo)le. $t4s not Su(ha ati, it4s not &da, it4s not Ni, and there were--9 93et me continue. &ssentially these same )eo)le then get to sit down in the Machine. 7ecause of the way the thing is designed, no one can see them and no one can tal( to them after the thing is acti ated. So the Machine is turned on and then it turns itself off. Once it4s on, you can4t ma(e it sto) in less than twenty minutes. O(ay. Twenty minutes later, these same )eo)le emerge from the Machine, all Aaunty-Aolly, with

some !ullshit story a!out tra eling faster than light inside !lac( holes to the center of the 'alaxy and !ac(. Now su))ose you hear this story and you4re Aust ordinarily cautious. .ou as( to see their e idence. "ictures, ideota)es, any other data. 'uess what5 $t4s all !een con eniently erased. >o they ha e artifacts of the su)erior ci ili:ation they say is at the center of the 'alaxy5 No. Mementos5 No. A stone ta!let5 No. "ets5 No. Nothing. The only )hysical e idence is some su!tle damage done to the Machine. So you as( yourself, couldn4t )eo)le who were so moti ated and so cle er arrange for what loo(s li(e tension stresses and radiation damage, es)ecially if they could s)end two trillion dollars fa(ing the e idence59 She gas)ed. She remem!ered the last time she had gas)ed. This was a truly enomous reconstruction of e ents. She wondered what had made it attracti e to 8it:. %e must, she thought, !e in real distress. 9$ don4t thin( any!ody4s going to !elie e your story,9 hecontinued. 9This is the most ela!orate--and the most ex)ensi e--hoax e er )er)etrated. .ou and your friends tried to hoodwin( the "resident of the Knited States and decei e the American )eo)le, to say nothing of all the other go ernments on the &arth. .ou must really thin( e ery!ody else is stu)id.9 9Michael, this is madness. Tens of thousands of )eo)le wor(ed to acBuire the Message, to decode it, and to !uild the Machine. The Message is on magnetic ta)es and )rintouts and laserdis(s in o!ser atories all o er the world. .ou thin( there4s a cons)iracy in ol ing all the radio astronomers on the )lanet, and the aeros)ace and cy!ernetics com)anies, and--9 9No, you don4t need a cons)iracy that !ig. All you need is a transmitter in s)ace that loo(s as if it4s !roadcasting from *ega. $4ll tell you how $ thin( you did it. .ou )re)are the Message, and get some!ody-some!ody with an esta!lished launch ca)a!ility--to )ut it u). "ro!a!ly as an incidental )art of some other mission. And into some or!it that loo(s li(e sidereal motion. May!e there4s more than one satellite. Then the transmitter turns on, and you4re all ready in your handy-dandy o!ser atory to recei e the Message, ma(e the !ig disco ery, and tell us )oor slo!s what it all means.9

This was too much e en for the im)assi e der %eer. %e roused himself from a slum)ed )osition in his chair. 9#eally, Mi(e--9 he !egan, !ut &llie cut him short. 9$ wasn4t res)onsi!le for most of the decoding. 3ots of )eo)le were in ol ed. >rumlin, es)ecially. %e started out as a committed s(e)tic, as you (now. 7ut once the data came in, >a e was entirely con inced. .ou didn4t hear any reser ations from him.9 9Oh yes, )oor >a e >rumlin. The late >a e >rumlin. .on set him u). The )rofessor you ne er li(ed.9 >er %eer slum)ed still further down in his chair, and she had a sudden ision of him regaling 8it: with secondhand )illow tal(. She loo(ed at him more closely. She couldn4t !e sure. 9>uring the decry)ting of the Message, you couldn4t doe erything. There was so much you had to do. So you o erloo(ed this and you forgot that. %ere4s >rumlin growing old, worried a!out his former student ecli)sing him and getting all the credit. Suddenly he sees how to !e in ol ed, how to )lay a central role. .ou a))ealed to his narcissism, and you hoo(ed him. And if he hadn4t figured out the decry)tion, you would ha e hel)ed him along. $f worse came to worst, you would ha e )eeled all the layers off the onion yourself.9 9.ou4re saying that we were a!le to in ent such a Message. #eally, it4s an outrageous com)liment to *aygay and me. $t4s also im)ossi!le. $t can4t !e done. .ou as( any com)etent engineer if that (ind of Machine--with !rand-new su!sidiary industries, com)onents wholly unfamiliar on &arth--you as( if that could ha e !een in ented !y a few )hysicists and radio astronomers on their days off. 6hen do you imagine we had time to in ent such a Message e en if we (new how5 3oo( how many !its of information are in it. $t would ha e ta(en years.9 9.ou had years, while Argus was getting nowhere. The )roAect was a!out to !e closed. >rumlin, you remem!er, was )ushing that. So Aust at the right moment you find the Message. Then there4s no more tal( a!out closing down your )et )roAect. $ thin( you and that #ussian did coo( the

whole thing u) in your s)are time. .ou had years.9 9This is madness,9 she said softly. *alerian interru)ted. %e had (nown >r. Arroway well during the )eriod in Buestion. She had done )roducti e scientific wor(. She ne er had the time reBuired for so ela!orate a dece)tion. Much as he admired her, he agreed that the Message and the Machine were far !eyond her a!ility--or indeed any!ody4s a!ility. Any!ody on &arth. 7ut 8it: wasn4t !uying it 9That4s a )ersonal Audgment, >r. *alerian. There are many )ersons, and there can !e many Audgments. .ou4re fond of >r. Arroway. $ understand. Fm fond of her, too. $t4s understanda!le you would defend her. $ don4t ta(e it amiss. 7ut there4s a clincher. .ou don4t (now a!out it yet. $4m going to tell you.9 %e leaned forward, watching &lite intently. Clearly hewas interested to see how she would res)ond to what he was a!out to say. 9The Message sto))ed the moment we acti ated the Machine. The moment the !en:els reached cruising s)eed. To the second. All o er the world. & ery radio o!ser atory with a lineof-sight to *ega saw the same thing. 6e4 e held !ac( telling you a!out it so we wouldn4t distract you from your de!riefing. The Message sto))ed in mid-!it. Now that was really foolish of you.9 9$ don4t (now anything a!out it, Michael. 7ut so what if the Message sto))ed5 $t4s fulfilled its )ur)ose. 6e !uilt the Machine, and we went to . . . where they wanted us to go.9 9$t )uts you in a )eculiar )osition,9 he went on. Suddenly she saw where he was headed. She hadn4t ex)ected this. %e was arguing cons)iracy, !ut she was contem)lating madness. $f 8it: wasn4t mad, might she !e5 $f our technology can manufacture su!stances that induce delusions, could a much more ad anced technology induce highly detailed collecti e hallucinations5 @ust for a moment it seemed )ossi!le. 93et4s imagine it4s last wee(,9 he was saying. ?The radio wa es arri ing on &arth right now are

su))osed to ha e !een sent from *ega twenty-six years ago. They ta(e twenty-six years to cross s)ace to us. 7ut twenty-six years ago, >r. Arroway, there wasn4t any Argus facility, and you were slee)ing with acidheads, and moaning a!out *ietnam and 6atergate. .ou )eo)le are so smart, !ut you forgot the s)eed of light. There4s no way that acti ating the Machine can turn the Message off until twenty-six years )ass-unless in ordinary s)ace you can send a message faster than light. And we !oth (now that4s im)ossi!le. $ remem!er you com)laining a!out how stu)id #an(in and @oss were for not (nowing you can4t tra el faster than light. $4m sur)rised you thought you could get away with this one.9 9Michael, listen. $t4s how we were a!le to get from here to there and !ac( in no time flat. Twenty minutes, anyway. $t can !e acausal around a singularity. $4m not an ex)ert on this. .ou should !e tal(ing to &da or *aygay.9 9Than( you for the suggestion,9 he said. 96e already ha e.9 She imagined *aygay under some com)ara!ly stem interrogation !y his old ad ersary Archangels(y or !y 7aruda, the man who had )ro)osed destroying the radio telesco)es and !urning the data. "ro!a!ly they and 8it: saw eye to eye on the aw(ward matter !efore them. She ho)ed *aygay was !earing u) all right. 9.ou understand, >r. Arroway. $4m sure you do. 7ut let me ex)lain again. "erha)s you can show me where $ missed something. Twenty-six years ago those radio wa es were heading out for &arth. Now imagine them in s)ace !etween *ega and here. No!ody can catch the radio wa es after they4 e left *ega. No!ody can sto) them. & en if the transmitter (new instantaneously--through the !lac( hole, if you li(e-that the Machine had !een acti ated, it would !e twenty-six years !efore the signal sto)s arri ing on &arth. .our *egans couldn4t ha e (nown twenty-six years ago when the Machine was going to !e acti ated. And to the minute. .ou would ha e to send a message !ac( in time to twenty-six years ago, for the Message to sto) on >ecem!er thirty-first, +000. .ou do follow, don4t you59, $ follow. This is wholly unex)lored territory. .ou (now, it4s not called a s)ace-time continuum for nothing. $f they can ma(e tunnels through s)ace, $ su))ose they can ma(e some (ind of tunnels through time. The fact that we got !ac( a day early shows that they ha e at least a limited (ind of time tra el. So may!e as soon as we left the Station, they sent a message twenty-six years !ac( into time to turn the transmission off. $ don4t (now.9 9.ou see how con enient it is for you that the Message sto)s Aust now. $f it was still !roadcasting, we could find your little satellite, ca)ture it, and !ring !ac( the transmission ta)e. That would !e definiti e e idence of a hoax. Knam!iguous. 7ut you couldn4t ris( that. So you4re reduced to !lac( hole mum!oAum!o. "ro!a!ly em!arrassing for you.9 %e loo(ed concerned. $t was li(e some )aranoid fantasy in which a )atchwor( of innocent facts are reassem!led into an intricate cons)iracy. The facts in this case were hardly common)lace, and it made sense for the authorities to test other )ossi!le ex)lanations. 7ut 8it:4s rendition of e ents was so malign that it re ealed, she thought, someone truly wounded, afraid, in )ain. $n her mind, the li(elihood that all this was a collecti e delusion diminished a little. 7ut the cessation of the Message transmission--if it had ha))ened as 8it: had said--was worrisome. 9Now, $ tell myself, >r. Arroway, you scientists had the !rains to figure all this out, and the moti ation. 7ut !y yoursel es you didn4t ha e the means. $f it wasn4t the #ussians who )ut u) this satellite for you, it could ha e !een any one of half a do:en other national launch authorities. 7ut we4 e loo(ed into all that. No!ody launched a free-flying satellite in the a))ro)riate or!its. That lea es )ri ate launch ca)a!ility. And the most interesting )ossi!ility that4s come to our notice is a Mr. S. #. %adden. 8now him59 9>on4t !e ridiculous, Michael. $ tal(ed to you a!out %adden !efore $ went u) to Methuselah.9 9@ust wanted to !e sure we agree on the !asics. Try this on for si:e< .ou and

the #ussian concoct this scheme. .ou get %adden to !an(roll the early stages--the satellite design, the in ention of the Machine, the encry)ting of the Message, fa(ing the radiation damage, all that. $n return, after the Machine "roAect gets going, he gets to )lay with gome of that two trillion dollars. %e li(es the idea. There might !e enormous )rofit in it, and from his history, he4d lo e to em!arrass the go ernment. 6hen you get stuc( in decry)ting the Message, when you can4t find the )rimer, you e en go to him. %e tells you where to loo( for it. That was also careless. $t would ha e !een !etter if you figured it out yourself.9 9$t4s too careless,9 offered der %eer. 96ouldn4t someone who was really )er)etrating a hoax . . .9 98en, $4m sur)rised at you. .ou4 e !een ery credulous, you (now5 .ou4re demonstrating exactly why Arrowayand the others thought it would !e cle er to as( %adden4s ad ice. And to ma(e sure we (new she4d gone to see him.9 %e returned his attention to her. 9>r. Arroway, try to loo( at it from the stand)oint of a neutral o!ser er . . .9 8it: )ressed on, ma(ing s)ar(ling new )atterns of facts assem!le themsel es in the air !efore her, rewriting whole years of her life. She hadn4t thought 8it: dum!, !ut she hadn4t imagined him this in enti e either. "erha)s he had recei ed hel). 7ut the emotional )ro)ulsion for this fantasy came from 8it:. %e was full of ex)ansi e gestures and rhetorical flourishes. This was not merely )art of his Ao!. This interrogation, this alternati e inter)retation of e ents, had roused something )assionate in him. After a moment she thought she saw what it was. The Fi e had come !ac( with no immediate military a))lications, no )olitical liBuid ca)ital, !ut only a story that was sur)assing strange. And that story !ad certain im)lications. 8it: was now master of the most de astating arsenal on &arth, while the Careta(ers were !uilding galaxies. %e was a lineal descendant of a )rogression of leaders, American and So iet, who had

de ised the strategy of nuclear confrontation, while the Careta(ers were an amalgam of di erse s)ecies from se)arate worlds wor(ing together in concert. Their ery existence was an uns)o(en re!u(e. Then consider the )ossi!ility that the tunnel could !e acti ated from the other end, that there might !e nothing he could do to )re ent it. They could !e here in an instant. %ow could 8it: defend the Knited States under such circumstances5 %is role in the decision to !uild the Machine--the history of which he seemed to !e acti ely rewriting--could !e inter)reted !y an unfriendly tri!unal as dereliction of duty. And what account could 8it: gi e the extraterrestrials of his stewardshi) of the )lanet, he and his )redecessors5 & en if no a enging angels came storming out of the tunnel, if the truth of the Aourney got out the world would change. $t was already changing. $t would change much more. Again she regarded him with sym)athy. For a hundred generations, at least, the world had !een run !y )eo)lemuch worse than he. $t was his misfortune to come to !at Aust as the rules of the game were !eing rewritten. 9... e en if you !elie ed e ery detail of your story,9 he was saying, 9don4t you thin( the extraterrestrials treated you !adly5 They ta(e ad antage of your tenderest feelings !y dressing themsel es u) as dear old >ad. They don4t tell you what they4re doing, they ex)ose all your film, destroy all your data, and don4t e en let you lea e that stu)id )alm frond u) there. Nothing on the manifest is missing, exce)t for a little food, and nothing that isn4t on the manifest is returned, exce)t for a little sand. So in twenty minutes you go!!led some food and dum)ed a little sand out of your )oc(ets. .ou come !ac( one nanosecond or something after you lea e, so to any neutral o!ser er you ne er left at all. 9Now, if the extraterrestrials wanted to ma(e it unam-!iguously clear you4d really gone somewhere, they would4 e !rought you !ac( a day later, or a wee(. #ight5 $f there was nothing inside the !en:els for a while, we4d !e dead certain that you4d gone somewhere. $f they wanted to ma(e it easy for you, they wouldn4t ha e turned off the Message. #ight5 That ma(es it loo( !ad, you (now. They could4 e figured that out. 6hy would they want to ma(e it !ad for you5 And there4s other ways they

could4 e su))orted your story. They could4 e gi en you something to remem!er them !y. They could4 e let you !ring !ac( your mo ies. Then no!ody could claim all this is Aust a cle er fa(e. So how come they didn4t do that5 %ow come the extraterrestrials don4t confirm your story5 .ou s)ent years of your life trying to find them. >on4t they a))reciate what you4 e done59&llie, how can you !e so sure your story really ha))ened5 $f, as you claim, all this isn4t a hoax, couldn4t it !e a ... delusion5 $t4s )ainful to consider, $ (now. No!ody wants to thin( they4 e gone a little cra:y. Considering the strain you4 e !een under, though, it4s no !ig deal. And if the only alternati e is criminal cons)iracy . . . May!e you want to carefully thin( this one through.9 She had already done so. 3ater that day she met with 8it: alone. A !argain had in effect !een )ro)osed. She had no intention of going along with it. 7ut 8it: was )re)ared for that )ossi!ility as well. 9.ou ne er li(ed me from the first,9 he said. 97ut $4m going to rise a!o e that. 6e4re going to do something really fair. 96e4 e already issued a news release saying that the Machine Aust didn4t wor( when we tried to acti ate it. Naturally, we4re trying to understand what went wrong. 6ith all the other failures, in 6yoming and K:!e(istan, no!ody is dou!ting this one. 9Then in a few wee(s we4ll announce that we4re still not getting anywhere. 6e4 e done the !est we could. The Machine is too ex)ensi e to (ee) wor(ing on. "ro!a!ly we4re Aust not smart enough to figure it out yet. Also, there4s still some danger, after all. 6e always (new that. The Machine might !low u) or something. So all in all, it4s !est to )ut the Machine "roAect on ice--at least for a while. $t4s not that we didn4t try. 9%adden and his friends would o))ose it, of course, !ut as he4s !een ta(en from us . . .9

9%e4s only three hundred (ilometers o erhead,9 she )ointed out. 9Oh, ha en4t you heard5 Sol died Aust around the time the Machine was acti ated. Funny how it ha))ened. Sorry, $ should ha e told you. $ forgot you were . . . close to him.9 She did not (now whether to !elie e 8it:. %adden was in his fifties and had certainly seemed in good )hysical health. She would )ursue this to)ic later. 9And what, in your fantasy, !ecomes of us59 she as(ed. 9Ks5 6ho4s ?us459 9Ks. The fi e of us. The ones who went a!oard the Machine that you claim ne er wor(ed.9 9Oh. After a little more de!riefing you4ll !e free to lea e. $ don4t thin( any of you will !e foolish enough to tell this coc(-and-!ull story on the outside. 7ut Aust to !e safe, we4re )re)aring some )sychiatric dossiers on the fi e ofyou. "rofiles. 3ow-(ey. .ou4 e always !een a little re!ellious, mad at the system--whiche er system you grew u) in. $t4s o(ay. $t4s good for )eo)le to !e inde)endent. 6e encourage that, es)ecially in scientists. 7ut the strain of the last few years has !een trying--not actually disa!ling, !ut trying. &s)ecially for >octors Arroway and 3unachars(y. First they4re in ol ed in finding the Message, decry)ting it, and con incing the go ernments to !uild the Machine. Then )ro!lems in construction, industrial sa!otage, sitting through an Acti ation that goes nowhere ... $t4s !een tough. All wor( and no )lay. And scientists are highly strung anyway. $f you4 e all !ecome a little unhinged at the failure of the Machine, e ery!ody will !e sym)athetic. Knderstanding. 7ut no!ody4ll !elie e your story. No!ody. $f you !eha e yoursel es, there4s no reason that the dossiers e er ha e to !e released. 9$t4ll !e clear that the Machine is still here. 6e4re ha ing a few wire ser ice )hotogra)hers in to )hotogra)h it as soon as the roads are o)en. 6e4ll show them the Machine didn4t go anywhere. And the crew5 The crew is naturally disa))ointed. May!e a little disheartened. They don4t want to tal( to the )ress Aust yet.

9>on4t you thin( it4s a neat )lan59 %e smiled. %e wanted her to ac(nowledge the !eauty of the scheme. She said nothing. 9>on4t you thin( we4re !eing ery reasona!le, after s)ending two trillion dollars on that )ile of shit5 6e could )ut you away for life, Arroway. 7ut we4re letting you go free. .ou don4t e en ha e to )ut u) !ail. $ thin( we4re !eha ing li(e gentlemen. $t4s the S)irit of the Millennium. $t4s Machindo.9 C%A"T&# DD 'ilgamesh That it will ne er come again $s what ma(es life so sweet. - &M$3. >$C8$NSON "oem Num!er +;F+ $N T%$S time--heralded ex)ansi ely as the >awn of a New Age--!urial in s)ace was an ex)ensi e common)lace. Commercially a aila!le and a com)etiti e !usiness, it a))ealed es)ecially to those who, in former times, would ha e reBuested that their remains !e scattered o er the county of their !irth, or at least the mill town from which they had extracted their first fortune. 7ut now you could arrange for your remains to circumna igate the &arth fore er--or as close to fore er as matters in the wor(aday world. .ou need only insert a short codicil in your will. Then--assuming, of course, that you ha e the 6herewithal--when you die and are cremated, your ashes are com)ressed into a tiny almost toyli(e !ier, on which is em!ossed your name and your dates, a short memorial erse, and the religious sym!ol of your choice /choose one of three2. Along with hundreds of similar miniature coffins, it is then !oosted u) and dum)ed out at an intermediate altitude, ex)editiously a oiding !oth the crowded corridors of geosynchronous or!it and the disconcerting atmos)heric drag of low-&arth or!it. $nstead, your ashes trium)hantly circle the )lanet of your !irth in the midst of the *an Allen $ radiation !elts, a )roton !li::ard where no satellite in its right mind would ris( going to in the first )lace. 7ut ashes do not mind. At these heights, the &arth had !ecome en elo)ed in the remains of its leading

citi:ens, and an uninstructed isitor from a distant world might rightly !elie e he had chanced u)on some som!er s)ace-age necro)olis. The ha:ardous location of this mortuary would ex)lain the a!sence of memorial isits from grie ing relati es. S. #. %adden, contem)lating this image, had !een a))alled at what minor )ortions of immortality these deceased worthies had !een willing to settle for. All their organic )arts-!rains, hearts, e erything that distinguished them as a )erson--were atomi:ed in their cremations. There isn4t any of you left after cremation, he thought, Aust )owdered !one, hardly enough e en for a ery ad anced ci ili:ation to reconstruct you from the remains. And then, for good measure, your coffin is )laced smac( in the *an Alien !elts, where e en your ashes get slowly fried. %ow much !etter if a few of your cells could !e )reser ed. #eal li ing cells, with the >NA intact. %e isuali:ed a cor)oration that would, for a healthy fee, free:e a little of your e)ithelial tissue and or!it it high--well a!o e the *an Alien !elts, may!e e en higher than geosynchronous or!it. No reason to die first. >o it now, while it4s on your mind. Then, at least, alien molecular !iologists-or their terrestrial counter)arts of the far future-- could reconstruct you, clone you, more or less from scratch. .ou would ru! your eyes, stretch, and wa(e u) in the year ten million. Or e en if nothing was done with your remains, there would still !e in existence multi)le co)ies of your genetic instructions. .ou would !e ali e in )rinci)le. $n either case it could !e said that you would li e fore er. 7ut as %adden ruminated on the matter further, this scheme also seemed too modest. 7ecause that wasn4t really you, a few cells scra)ed off the soles of your feet. At !est they could reconstruct your )hysical form. 7ut that4s not the same as you. $f you were really serious, you should include family )hotogra)hs, a )unctiliously detailed auto!iogra)hy, all the !oo(s and ta)es you4 e enAoyed, and as much else a!out yourself as )ossi!le. Fa orite !rands of after-sha e lotion, for exam)le, or diet cola. $t was su)remely egotistical, he (new, and he lo ed it. After all, the age had )roduced a sustained eschatological delirium. $t

was natural to thin( of your own end as e eryone else was contem)lating the demise of the s)ecies, or the )lanet, or the massed celestial ascent of the &lect. .ou couldn4t ex)ect the extraterrestrials to (now &nglish. $f they4re to reconstruct you, they4d ha e to (now your language. So you must include a (ind of translation, a )ro!lem %adden enAoyed. $t was almost the o! erse of the Message decry)tion )ro!lem. All of this reBuired a su!stantial s)ace ca)sule, so su!stantial that you need no longer !e limited to mere tissuesam)les. .ou might as well send your !ody whole. $f you could Buic(-free:e yourself after death, so to say, there was a su!sidiary ad antage. May!e enough of you would !e in wor(ing order that whoe er found you could do !etter than Aust reconstructing you. May!e they could !ring you !ac( to life--of course, after fixing whate er it was that you had died of. $f you languished a little !efore free:ing, though-- !ecause, say, the relati es had not reali:ed you were dead yet--)ros)ects for re i al diminished. 6hat would really ma(e sense, he thought, was to free:e someone Aust !efore death. That would ma(e e entual resuscitation much more li(ely, although there was )ro!a!ly limited demand for this ser ice. 7ut then why Aust !efore dying5 Su))ose you (new you had only a year or two to li e. 6ouldn4t it !e !etter to !e fro:en immediately, %adden mused--!efore the meat goes !ad5 & en then--he sighed--no matter what the nature of the deteriorating illness, it might still !e irremedia!le after you were re i edC you would !e fro:en for a geological age, and then awa(ened only to die )rom)tly from a melanoma or a cardiac infarction a!out which the extraterrestrials might (now nothing. No, he concluded, there was only one )erfect reali:ation of this idea< Someone in ro!ust health would ha e to !e launched on a one-way Aourney to the stars. As an incidental !enefit, you would !e s)ared the humiliation of disease and old age. Far from the inner solar system, your eBuili!rium tem)erature would fall to only a few degrees a!o e a!solute :ero. No further refrigeration would !e necessary. "er)etual care )ro ided. Free.

7y this logic he came to the final ste) of the argument< $f it reBuires a few years to get to the interstellar cold, you might as well stay awa(e for the show, and get Buic(-fro:en only when yon lea e the solar system. $t woul also minimi:e o erde)endence on the cryogenics. %adden had ta(en e ery reasona!le )recaution against an unex)ected medical )ro!lem in &arth or!it, the official account went, e en to )reem)ti e sonic disintegration of his gall and (idney stones !efore he e er set foot in his chateau in the s(y. And then he went and died of ana)hylactic shoc(. A !ee had !u::ed angrily out of a !ouBuet of free-sias sent u) on Narnia !y an admirer. Carelessly, Methuselah4s ca)acious )harmacy had not stoc(ed the a))ro)riate antiserum. The insect had )ro!a!ly !een immo!ili:ed !y the low tem)eratures in Narnia4s cargo !ay and was not really to !lame. $ts small and !ro(en !ody had !een sent down for examination !y forensic entomologists. The irony of the !illionaire felled !y a !ee did not esca)e the notice of news)a)er editorials and Sunday sermons. 7ut in fact, this was all a dece)tion. There had !een no !ee, no sting, and no death. %adden remained in excellent health. $nstead, on the stro(e of the New .ear, nine hours after the Machine had !een acti ated, the roc(et engines flamed on a si:a!le auxiliary ehicle doc(ed to Methuselah. $t ra)idly achie ed esca)e elocity from the &arth-Moon system. %e called it 'ilgamesh. %adden had s)ent his life amassing )ower and contem)lating time. The more )ower you ha e, he found, the more you cra e. "ower and time were connected, !ecause all men are eBual in death. That is why the ancient (ings !uilt monuments to themsel es. 7ut the monuments !ecome eroded, the royal accom)lishments o!literated, the ery names of the (ings forgotten. And, most im)ortant, they themsel es were dead as doornails. No, this was more elegant, more !eautiful, more satisfying. %e had found a low door in the wall of time. %ad he merely announced his )lans to the world, certain com)lications would ensue. $f %adden was fro:en to four degrees 8el in at ten !illion (ilometers from &arth, what exactly

was his legal status5 6ho would control his cor)orations5 This way was much tidier. $n a minor codicil of an ela!orate last will and testament, he had left his heirs and assigns a new cor)oration, s(illed in roc(et engines and cryogenics, that would e entually !e called $mmortality, $nc. %e need ne er thin( of the matter again. 'ilgamesh was not eBui))ed with a radio. %e no longerwished to (now what had ha))ened to the Fi e. %e wanted no more news of &arth--nothing cheering, nothing to ma(e him disconsolate, none of the )ointless tumult he had (nown. Only solitude, ele ated thoughts. . . silence. $f anything ad erse should occur in the next few years, 'ilga-mesh4s cryogenics could !e acti ated !y the fli) of a switch. Kntil then, there was a full li!rary of his fa orite music, and literature and ideota)es. %e would not !e lonely. %e had ne er really !een much for com)any. .amagishi had considered coming, !ut ultimately renegedC he would !e lost, he said, without 9staff.9 And on this Aourney there were insufficient inducements, as well as inadeBuate s)ace. for staff. The monotony of the food and the modest scale of the amenities might !e daunting to some, !ut %adden (new himself to !e a man with a great dream. The amenities mattered not at all. $n two years, this flying sarco)hagus would fall into the gra itational )otential well of @u)iter, Aust outside its radiation !elt, !e slingshot around the )lanet and then flung off into interstellar s)ace. For a day he would ha e a iew still more s)ectacular than that out the window of his study on Methuselah--the roiling multicolored clouds of @u)iter. the largest )lanet. $f it were only a matter of the iew. %adden would ha e o)ted for Saturn and the rings. %e )referred the rings. 7ut Saturn was at least four years from &arth and that was, all things considered, ta(ing a chance. $f you4re stal(ing immortality, you ha e to !e ery careful. At these s)eeds it would ta(e ten thousand years to tra el e en the distance to the nearest star. 6hen you4re fro:en to four degrees a!o e a!solute :ero, though, you ha e )lenty of time. 7ut some fine day--he was sure of it, though it !e a million years from now--'ilgamesh would !y chance enter someone else4s solar system. Or his funeral !ar( would !e interce)ted in the dar(ness !etween the stars, and other !eings-ery ad anced, ery far-seeing--would ta(e the sarco)hagus a!oard and (now what

had to !e done. $t had ne er really !een attem)ted !efore. No one who e er li ed on &arth had come this close. Confident that in his end would !e his !eginning, heclosed his eyes and folded his arms ex)erimentally across his chest, as the engines flared again, this time more !riefly, and the !urnished craft was slee(ly set on its long Aourney to the stars. Thousands of years from now, 'od (nows what would !e ha))ening on &arth, he thought. $t was not his )ro!lem. $t ne er really had !een. 7ut he, he would !e aslee), dee)-fro:en, )erfectly )reser ed, his sarco)hagus hurtling through the interstellar oid, sur)assing the "haraohs, !esting Alexander, outshining Jin. %e had contri ed his own #esurrection. C%A"T&# D#e)rogramming 6e ha e not followed cunningly de ised fa!les... !ut were eyewitnesses. - $$ "&T&# +<+G 3oo( and remem!er. 3oo( u)on this s(yC 3oo( dee) and dee) into the sea-clean air, The unconfined, the terminus of )rayer. S)ea( now and s)ea( into the hallowed dome. 6hat do you hear5 6hat does the s(y re)ly5 The hea ens are ta(enC this is not your home. - 8A#3 @A. S%A"$#O Tra elogue for &xiles T%& T&3&"%ON& lines had !een re)aired, the roads )lowed clean, and carefully selected re)resentati es of the world4s )ress were gi en a !rief loo( at the facility. A few re)orters and )hotogra)hers were ta(en through the three matching a)ertures in the !en:els, through the air-loc(, and into the dodec. There were tele ision commentaries recorded, the re)orters seated, in the chairs that the Fi e had occu)ied, telling the world of the failure of this first courageous attem)t to acti ate the Machine. &llie and her colleagues were )hotogra)hed from a distance, to show that they were ali e and well, !ut no inter iews were to !e gi en Aust yet. The Machine "roAect was ta(ing stoc( and considering its future o)tions. The tunnel from %onshu to %o((aido was o)en again, !ut the )assageway from &arth to *ega was closed. They

hadn4t actually tested this )ro)o-sition--&llie wondered whether, when the Fi e finally left the site, the )roAect would try to s)in u) the !en:els again--!ut she !elie ed what she had !een told< The Machine would not wor( againC there would !e no further access to the tunnels for the !eings of &arth. 6e could ma(e little indentations in s)acetime as much as we li(edC it would do us no good if no one hoo(ed u) from the other side. 6e had !een gi en a glim)se, she thought, and then were left to sa e oursel es. $f we could. $n the end, the Fi e were )ermitted to tal( among themsel es. She systematically !ade farewell to each. No one !lamed her for the !lan( cassettes. ?These )ictures on the cassettes are recorded in magnetic domains, on ta)e,9 *aygay reminded her. 9A strong electrical field accumulated on the !en:els, and they were, of course, mo ing. A time- arying electrical field ma(es a magnetic field. Maxwell4s eBuations. $t seems to me that4s how your ta)es were erased. $t was not your fault.9 *aygay4s interrogation had !affled him. They had not exactly accused him !ut merely suggested that he was )artof an anti-So iet cons)iracy in ol ing scientists from the 6est9$ tell you, &llie, the only remaining o)en Buestion is the existence of intelligent life in the "olit!uro.9 9And the 6hite %ouse. $ can4t !elie e the "resident would allow 8it: to get away with this. She committed herself to the )roAect.9 ?This )lanet is run !y cra:y )eo)le. #emem!er what they ha e to do to get where they are. Their )ers)ecti e is so narrow, so . . . !rief. A few years. $n the !est of them a few decades. They care only a!out the time they are in )ower.9 She thought a!out Cygnus A. 97ut they4re not sure our story is a lie. They cannot )ro e it. Therefore, we must con ince them. $n their hearts, they wonder, ?Could it !e true54 A few e en want it to !e true. 7ut it is a ris(y truth. They need something close to certainty. . . . And )erha)s we can )ro ide it. 6e can refine

gra itational theory. 6e can ma(e new astronomical o!ser ations to confirm what we were told--es)ecially for the 'alactic Center and Cygnus A. They4re not going to sto) astronomical research. Also, we can study the dodec, if they gi e us access. &llie, we will change their minds.9 >ifficult to do if they4re all cra:y, she thought to herself. 9$ don4t see how the go ernments could con ince )eo)le this is a hoax,9 she said. 9#eally5 Thin( of what else they4 e made )eo)le !elie e. They4 e )ersuaded us that we4ll !e safe if only we s)end all our wealth so e ery!ody on &arth can !e (illed in a moment--when the go ernments decide the time has come. $ would thin( it4s hard to ma(e )eo)le !elie e something so foolish. No, &llie, they4re good at con incing. They need only say that the Machine doesn4t wor(, and that we4 e gone a little mad.9 9$ don4t thin( we4d seem so mad if we all told our story together. 7ut you may !e right. May!e we should try to find some e idence first *aygay, will you !e o(ay when you . . . go !ac(59 96hat can they do to me5 &xile me to 'or(y5 $ could sur i e thatC $4 e had my day at the !each. . . . No, $ will !e safe. .ou and $ ha e a mutual-security treaty, &llie. As long as you4re ali e, they need me. And ice ersa, of course. $f the story is true, they will !e glad there was a So iet witnessC e entually, they will cry it from the roofto)s. And li(e your )eo)le, they will wonder a!out military and economic uses of what we saw. 9$t doesn4t matter what they tell us to do. All that matters is that we stay ali e. Then we will tell our story--all fi e of us--discreetly, of course. At first only to those we trust. 7ut those )eo)le will tell others. The story will s)read. There will !e no way to sto) it. Sooner or later the go ernments will ac(nowledge what ha))ened to us in the dodecahedron. And until then we are insurance )olicies for each other. &llie, $ am ery ha))y a!out all this. $t is the greatest thing that e er ha))ened to me.9 9'i e Nina a (iss for me,9 she said Aust !efore he left on the night flight to

Moscow. O er !rea(fast, she as(ed Ni if he was disa))ointed. 9>isa))ointed5 To go there9--he lifted his eyes s(yward--9to see them, and to !e disa))ointed5 $ am an or)han of the 3ong March. $ sur i ed the Cultural #e olution. $ was trying to grow )otatoes and sugar !eets for six years in the shadow of the 'reat 6all. K)hea al has !een my whole life. $ (now disa))ointment. 9.ou ha e !een to a !anBuet, and when you come home to your star ing illage you are disa))ointed that they do not cele!rate your return5 This is no disa))ointment. 6e ha e lost a minor s(irmish. &xamine the . . . dis)osition of forces.9 %e would shortly !e de)arting for China, where he had agreed to ma(e no )u!lic statements a!out what had ha))ened in the Machine. 7ut he would return to su)er ise the dig at Nian. The tom! of Jin was waiting for him. %e wanted to see how closely the &m)eror resem!led that simulation on the far side of the tunnels. 9Forgi e me. $ (now this is im)ertinent,9 she said after a while, 9!ut the fact that of all of us, you alone met someone who ... $n all your life, wasn4t there anyone you lo ed59 She wished she had )hrased the Buestion !etter. 9& eryone $ e er lo ed was ta(en from me. O!literated. $ saw the em)erors of the twentieth century come and go,9 he answered. 9$ longed for someone who could not !e re ised, or reha!ilitated, or edited out. There are only a few historical figures who cannot !e erased.9 %e was loo(ing at the ta!leto), fingering the teas)oon. 9$ de oted my life to the #e olution, and $ ha e no regrets. 7ut $ (now almost nothing of my mother and father. $ ha e no memories of them. .our mother is still ali e. .ou remem!er your father, and you found him again. >o not

o erloo( how fortunate you arc.9 $n >e i, &llie sensed a grief she had ne er !efore noticed. She assumed it was a reaction to the s(e)ticism with which "roAect >irectorate and the go ernments !ad greeted their story. 7ut >e i shoo( her head. 96hether they !elie e us is not ery im)ortant for me. The ex)erience itself is central. Transforming. &llie, that really ha))ened to us. $t was real. The first night we were !ac( here on %o((aido, $ dreamt that our ex)erience was a dream, you (now5 7ut it wasn4t, it wasn4t., $4m sad. My sadness is . . . .ou (now, $ satisfied a lifelong wish u) there when $ found Surindar again, after all these years. %e was exactly as $ remem!ered him, exactly as $4 e dreamed of him. 7ut when $ saw him, when $ saw so )erfect a simulation, $ (new< This lo e was )recious !ecause it had !een snatched away, !ecause $ had gi en u) so much to marry him. Nothing more. The man was a fool. Ten years with him, and we would ha e !een di orced. May!e only fi e. $ was so young and foolish.9 9$4m truly sorry,9 &llie said. 9$ (now a little a!out mourning a lost lo e.9 9&llie,9 she re)lied, 9you don4t understand. For the firsttime in my adult life, $ do not mourn Surindar. 6hat $ mourn is the family $ renounced for his sa(e.9 Su(ha ati was returning to 7om!ay for a few days and then would isit her ancestral illage in Tamil Nadu. 9& entually,9 she said, 9it will !e easy to con ince oursel es this was only an illusion. & ery morning when we wa(e u), our ex)erience will !e more distant, more dreamli(e. $t would ha e !een !etter for us all to stay together, to reinforce our memories. They understood this danger. That4s why they too( us to the seashore, something li(e our own )lanet, a reality we can gras). $ will not )ermit anyone to tri iali:e this

ex)erience. #emem!er. $t really ha))ened. $t was not a dream. &llie, don4t forget.9 &da was, considering the circumstances, ery relaxed. She soon understood why. 6hile she and *aygay had !een undergoing lengthy interrogations, he had !een calculating. 9$ thin( the tunnels are &instein-#osen !ridges,9 he said. 9'eneral #elati ity admits a class of solutions, called wormholes, similar to !lac( holes, !ut with no e olutionary connection-they cannot !e generated, as !lac( holes can, !y the gra itational colla)se of a star. 7ut the usual sort of wormhole, once made, ex)ands and contracts !efore anything can cross throughC it exerts disastrous tidal forces, and it also reBuires--at least as seen !y an o!ser er left !ehind--an infinite amount of time to get through.9 &llie did not see how this re)resented much )rogress, and as(ed him to clarify. The (ey )ro!lem was holding the wormhole o)en. &da had found a class of solutions to his field eBuations that suggested a new macrosco)ic field, a (ind of tension that could !e used to )re ent a wormhole from contracting fully. Such a wormhole would )ose none of the other )ro!lems of !lac( holesC it would ha e much smaller tidal stresses, two-way access, Buic( transit times as measured !y an exterior o!ser er, and no de astating interior radiation field. 9$ don4t (now whether the tunnel is sta!le against small)ertur!ations,9 he said. 9$f not, they would ha e to !uild a ery ela!orate feed!ac( system to monitor and correct the insta!ilities. $4m not yet sure of any of this. 7ut at least if the tunnels can !e &instein-#osen !ridges, we can gi e some answer when they tell us we were hallucinating,9 &da was eager to return to 3agos, and she could see the green tic(et of Nigerian Airlines )ee(ing out of his Aac(et )oc(et. %e wondered if he could com)letely wor( through the new )hysics their ex)erience had im)lied. 7ut he confessed himself unsure that he would !e eBual to the tas(, es)ecially !ecause of what he descri!ed as his ad anced age for theoretical )hysics. %e was thirty-eight. Most of all, he told &llie, he was des)erate to !e reunited with his wife and children.

She em!raced &da. She told him that she was )roud to ha e (nown him. 96hy the )ast tense59 he as(ed. 9.ou will certainly sec me again. And &llie,9 he added, almost as an afterthought, 9will you do something for me5 #emem!er e erything that ha))ened, e ery detail. 6rite it down. And send it to me. Our ex)erience re)resents ex)erimental data. One of us may ha e seen some )oint that the others missed, something essential for a dee) understanding of what ha))ened. Send me what you write. $ ha e as(ed the others to do the same.9 %e wa ed, lifted his !attered !riefcase, and was ushered into the waiting )roAect car. They were de)arting for their se)arate nations, and it felt to &llie as if her own family were !eing sundered, !ro(en, dis)ersed. She too had found the ex)erience transforming. %ow could she not5 A demon had !een exorcised. Se eral. And Aust when she felt more ca)a!le of lo e than she had e er !een, she found herself alone. They s)irited her out of the facility !y helico)ter. On the long flight to 6ashington in the go ernment air)lane, she sle)t so soundly that they had to sha(e her awa(e when the6hite %ouse )eo)le came a!oard-Aust after the aircraft landed !riefly on an isolated runway at %ic(am Field, %awaii. They had made a !argain. She could go !ac( to Argus, although no longer as director, and )ursue any scientific )ro!lem she )leased. She had, if she li(ed, lifetime tenure. 96e4re not unreasona!le,9 8it: had finally said in agreeing to the com)romise. 9.ou come !ac( with a solid , )iece of e idence, something really con incing, and we4ll Aoin you in ma(ing the announcement. 6e4ll say we as(ed you to (ee) the story Buiet until we could !e a!solutely sure. 6ithin reason, we4ll su))ort any research you want to do. $f we announce the story now, though, there4ll !e an initial wa e of enthusiasm and then the s(e)tics will start car)ing. $t4ll em!arrass you and it4ll em!arrass

us. Much !etter to gather the e idence, if you can.9 "erha)s the "resident had hel)ed him change his mind. $t was unli(ely 8it: was enAoying the com)romise. 7ut in return she must say nothing a!out what had ha))ened a!oard the Machine. The Fi e had sat down in the dodecahedron, tal(ed among themsel es, and then wal(ed off. $f she !reathed a word of anything else, the s)urious )sychiatric )rofile would find its way to the media and, reluctantly, she would !e dismissed. She wondered whether they had attem)ted to !uy "eter *alerian4s silence, or *aygay4s, or A!onnema4s. She couldn4t see how--short of shooting the de!riefing teams of fi e nations and the 6orld Machine Consortium--they could ho)e to (ee) this Buiet fore er. $t was only a matter of time. So, she concluded, they were !uying time. $t sur)rised her how mild the threatened )unishments were, !ut iolations of the agreement, if they ha))ened would not come on 8it:4s watch. %e was shortly retiringC in a year, the 3as(er Administration would !e lea ing office after the constitutionally mandated maximum of two terms. %e had acce)ted a )artnershi) in a 6ashington law firm (nown for its defense-contractor clientele. &llie thought 8it: would attem)t something more. %e seemed unworried a!out anything she might claim occurred at the 'alactic Center. 6hat he agoni:ed a!out, she was sure, was the )ossi!ility that the tunnel was still o)en to e en if not from the &arth. She thought the %o((aido facility would soon !e disassem!led. The technicians would return to their industries and uni ersities. 6hat stories would they tell5 "erha)s the dodecahedron would !e dis)layed in the Science City of Tsu(u!a. Then, after a decent inter al when the world4s attention was to some extent distracted !y other matters, )erha)s there would !e an ex)losion at the Machine site--nuclear, if 8it: could contri e a )lausi!le ex)lanation for the e ent $f it was a nuclear ex)losion, the radiological contamination would !e an excellent reason to declare the whole area a for!idden :one. $t would at least isolate the site from casual o!ser ers and

might Aust sha(e the no::le loose. "ro!a!ly @a)anese sensi!ilities a!out nuclear wea)ons, e en if ex)loded underground, would force 8it: to settle for con entional ex)losi es. They might disguise it as one of the continuing series of %o((aido coalmine disasters. She dou!ted if any ex)losion--nuclear or con entional--could disengage the &arth from the tunnel. 7ut )erha)s 8it: was imagining none of these things. "erha)s she was selling him short. After all, he too must ha e !een influenced !y Machindo. %e must ha e a family, friends, someone !e lo ed. %e must ha e caught at least a whiff of it. The next day, the "resident awarded her the National Medal of Freedom in a )u!lic ceremony at the 6hite %ouse. 3ogs were !urning in a fire)lace set in a white mar!le wall. The "resident had committed a great deal of )olitical as well as the more usual sort of ca)ital to the Machine "roAect and was determined to ma(e the !est face of it !efore the nation and the world. $n estments in the Machine !y the Knited States and other nations, the argument went, had )aid off handsomely. New technologies, new industries were !lossoming, )romising at least as much !enefit for ordinary )eo)le as the in entions of Thomas &dison. 6e haddisco ered that we are not alone, that intelligences more ad anced than we existed outthere in s)ace. They had changed fore er, the "resident said, our conce)tion of who we are. S)ea(ing for herself--!ut also, she thought, for most Americans--the disco ery had strengthened her !elief in 'od, now re ealed to !e creating life and intelligence on many worlds, a conclusion that the "resident was sure would !e in harmony with all religions. 7ut the greatest good granted us !y the Machine, the "resident said, was the s)irit it had !rought to &arth--the increasing mutual understanding within the human community, the sense that we were all fellow )assengers on a )erilous Aourney in s)ace and in time, the goal of a glo!al unity of )ur)ose that was now (nown all o er the )lanet as Machindo. The "resident )resented &llie to the )ress and the tele i-sion cameras, told of her )erse erance o er twel e long years, her genius in detecting and decoding the Message, and her courage in going a!oard the

Machine. No one (new what the Machine would do. >r. Arroway had willingly ris(ed her life. $t was not >r. Arroway4s fault that nothing ha))ened when the Machine was acti ated. She had done as much as any human )ossi!ly could. She deser ed the than(s of all Americans, and of all )eo)le e erywhere on &arth. &llie was a ery )ri ate )erson. >es)ite her natural reticence, she had when the need arose shouldered the !urden of ex)laining the Message and the Machine. $ndeed, she had shown a )atience with the )ress that she, the "resident, admired )articularly. >r. Arroway should now !e )ermitted some real )ri acy, so she could resume her scientific career. There had !een )ress announcements, !riefings, inter iews with Secretary 8it: and Science Ad iser der %eer. The "resident ho)ed the )ress would res)ect >r. Arroway4s wish that there !e no )ress conference. There was, howe er, a )hoto o))ortunity. &llie left 6ashington without determining how much the "resident (new. They flew her !ac( in a small slee( Aet of the @oint Military Airlift Command, and agreed to sto) in @anes ille on the way. %er mother was wearing her old Builted ro!e. Someone had )ut a little color on her chee(s. &llie )ressed her face into the )illow !eside her mother. 7eyond regaining a halting )ower of s)eech, the old woman had reco ered the use of her right arm sufficiently to gi e &llie a few fee!le )ats on her shoulder. 9Morn, $4 e got something to tell you. $t4s a great thing. 7ut try to !e calm. $ don4t want to u)set you. Mom . . . $ saw >ad. $ saw him. %e sends you his lo e.9 ...9 The old woman slowly nodded. 96as here yesterday.9 @ohn Staughton, &llie (new, had !een to the nursing home the )re ious day. %e had !egged off accom)anying &llie today, )leading an excess of wor(, !ut it seemed )ossi!le that Staughton merely did not wish to intrude on this moment. Ne ertheless, she found herself saying, with some irritation, 9No, no. $4m tal(ing a!out >ad.9 ?Tell him . . .9 The old woman4s s)eech was la!ored. ?Tell him, chiffon dress.

Sto) cleaners . . . way home from store.9 %er father e idently still ran the hardware store in her mother4s uni erse. And &llie4s. The long swee) of cyclone fencing now stretched uselessly from hori:on to hori:on, !lighting the ex)anse of scru! desert. She was glad to !e !ac(, glad to !e setting u) a new, although much smaller-scale, research )rogram. @ac( %i!!ert had !een a))ointed Acting >irector of the Argus facility, and she felt un!urdened of the administrati e res)onsi!ilities. 7ecause so much telesco)e time had !een freed when the signal from *ega had ceased, there was a !eady air of )rogress in a do:en long-languishing su!disci)lines of radio astronomy. %er co-wor(ers offered not a hint of su))ort for 8it:4s notion of a Message hoax. She wondered what der %eer and *alerian were tellingtheir friends and colleagues a!out the Message and the Machine. &llie dou!ted that 8it: had !reathed a word of it outside the recesses of his soon-to-!e- acated "entagon office. She had !een there onceC a Na y enlisted man--sidearm in leather holster and hands clas)ed !ehind his !ac(--had stiffly guarded the )ortal, in case in the warren of concentric hallways some )asser!y should succum! to an irrational im)ulse. 6illie had himself dri en the Thunder!ird from 6yoming, so it would !e waiting for her. 7y agreement she could dri e it only on the facility, which was large enough for ordinary Aoyriding. 7ut no more 6est Texas landsca)es, no more coney honor guards, no more mountain dri es to glim)se a southern star. This was her sole regret a!out the seclusion. 7ut the ran(s of saluting ra!!its were at any rate una aila!le in winter. At first a si:a!le )ress cor)s haunted the area in ho)es of shouting a Buestion at her or )hotogra)hing her through a telesco)ic lens. 7ut she. remained resolutely isolated. The newly

im)orted )u!lic relations staff was effecti e, e en a little ruthless, in discouraging inBuiries. After all, the "resident had as(ed for )ri acy for >r. Arroway. O er the following wee(s and months, the !attalion of re)orters dwindled to a com)any and then to a )latoon. Now only a sBuad of the most steadfast remained, mostly from The 6orld %ologram and other sensationalist wee(ly news)a)ers, the chiliast maga:ines, and a lone re)resentati e from a )u!lication that called itself Science and 'od. No. one (new what sect it !elonged to, and its re)orter wasn4t telling. 6hen the stories were written, they told of twel e years of dedicated wor(, culminating in the momentous, trium)hant decry)tion of the Message and followed !y the construction of the Machine. At the )ea( of world ex)ectation, it had, sadly, failed. The Machine had gone nowhere. Naturally >r. Arroway was disa))ointed, may!e, they s)eculated, e en a little de)ressed. Many editorialists commented that this )ause was welcome. The )ace of new disco ery and the e ident need for maAor )hiloso)hical and religious reassessments re)resented so heady a mix that a time of retrenchment and slow rea))raisal was needed. "erha)s the &arth was not yet ready for contact with alien ci ili:ations. Sociologists and some educators claimed that the mere existence of extra-terrestrial intelligences more ad anced than we would reBuire se eral generations to !e )ro)erly assimilated. $t was a !ody !low to human self-esteem, they said. There was enough on our )late already. $n another few decades we would much !etter understand the )rinci)les underlying the Machine. 6e would see what mista(e we had made, and we would laugh at how tri ial an o ersight !ad )re ented it from functioning in its first full trial !ac( in +000. Some religious commentators argued that the failure of the Machine was a )unishment for the sin of )ride, for human arrogance. 7illy @o #an(in in a nationwide tele ision address )ro)osed that the Message had in fact come straight from a %ell called *ega, an authoritati e consolidation of his )re ious )ositions on the matter. The Message and the Machine, he said, were a latter-day Tower of 7a!el. %umans foolishly,

tragically, had as)ired to reach the Throne of 'od. There had !een a city of fornication and !las)hemy !uilt thousands of years ago called 7a!ylon, which 'od had destroyed. $n our time, there was another such city with the same name. Those dedicated to the 6ord of 'od had fulfilled %is )ur)ose there as well. The Message and the Machine re)resented still another assault of wic(edness u)on the righteous and 'odfearing. %ere again the demonic initiati es had !een forestalled--in 6yoming !y a di inely ins)ired accident, in 'odless #ussia through the confounding of Communist scientists !y the >i ine 'race. 7ut des)ite these clear warnings of 'od4s will, #an(in continued, humans had for a third time tried to !uild the Machine. 'od let them. Then, gently, su!tly, %e caused the Machine to fail, deflected the demonic intent, and once more demonstrated %is care and concern for %is wayward and sinful--if truth !e told. %is unworthy-children on&arth. $t was time to learn the lessons of our sinfulness, our a!ominations, and, !efore the coming Millennium, the real Millennium that would !egin on @anuary +, DHH+, rededicate our )lanet and oursel es to 'od. The Machines should !e destroyed. & ery last one of them, and all their )arts. The )retense that !y !uilding a machine rather than !y )urifying their hearts humans could stand at the right hand of 'od must !e ex)unged, root and !ranch, !efore it was too late. la her little a)artment &llie heard #an(in out, turned off the tele ision set and resumed her )rogramming. The only outside calls she was )ermitted were to the rest home in @anes ille, 6isconsin. All incoming calls exce)t from @anes ille were screened out. "olite a)ologies were )ro ided. 3etters from der %eer, *alerian, from her old college friend 7ec(y &llen!ogen, she filed uno)ened. There were a num!er of messages deli ered !y ex)ress mail ser ices, and then !y courier, from South Carolina, from "almer @oss. She was much more tem)ted to read these, !ut did not. She wrote him a note that read only, 9>ear "almer, Not yet. &llie,9 and )osted it with no return address. She had no way to (now if

it would !e deli ered. A tele ision s)ecial on her life, made without her consent, descri!ed her as more reclusi e now than Neil Arm-strong, or e en 'reta 'ar!o. &llie too( it all with cheerful eBuanimity. She was otherwise occu)ied. $ndeed, she was wor(ing night and day. The )rohi!itions on communication with the outside world did not extend to )urely scientific colla!oration, and through o)en-channel asynchronous telenetting she and *aygay organi:ed a long-term research )rogram. Among the o!Aects to !e examined were the icinity of Sagittarius A at the center of the 'alaxy, and the great extragalactic radio source, Cygnus A. The Argus telesco)es were em)loyed as )art of a )hased array, lin(ed with the So iet telesco)es in Samar(and. Together, the American-So iet array acted as if they were )art of a single radio telesco)e the si:e of the &arth. O)erating at a wa elength of a fewcentimeters, they could resol e sources of radio emission as small as the inner solar system if they were as faraway as the center of the 'alaxy. She worried that this was not good enough, that the two or!iting !lac( holes were considera!ly smaller than that. Still, a continuous monitoring )rogram might turn u) something. 6hat they really needed, she thought, was a radio telesco)e launched !y s)ace ehicle to the other side of the Sun, and wor(ing in tandem with radio telesco)es on &arth. %umans could there!y create a telesco)e effecti ely the si:e of the &arth4s or!it. 6ith it, she calculated, they could resol e something the si:e of the &arth at the center of the 'alaxy. Or may!e the si:e of the Station. She s)ent most of her time writing, modifying existing )rograms for the Cray D+, and setting down an account--as detailed as she )ossi!ly could ma(e it--of the salient e ents that had !een sBuee:ed into the twenty minutes of &arth-time after they acti ated the Machine. %alfway through, she reali:ed she was writing sami:dat. Ty)ewriter and car!on )a)er technology. She loc(ed the original and two co)ies in her safe--!eside a yellowing co)y of the %adden >ecision--secreted the third co)y !ehind a loose )lan( in the

electronics !ay of Telesco)e F0, and !urned the car!on )a)er. $t generated a !lac( acrid smo(e. $n six wee(s she had finished re)rogramming and Aust as her thoughts returned to "almer @oss, he )resented himself at the Argus front gate. %is way had !een cleared !y a few )hone calls from a s)ecial assistant to the "resident, with whom, of coarse, @oss had !een acBuainted for years. & en here in the Southwest with its casual sartorial codes, he wore, as always, a Aac(et, a white shirt, and a tie. She ga e him the )alm frond, than(ed him for the )endant, and des)ite all of 8ite4s admonitions to (ee) her delusional ex)erience Buiet, immediately told him e erything. They ado)ted the )ractice of her So iet colleagues, who whene er anything )olitically unorthodox needed to !e said, disco ered the urgent necessity for a !ris( wal(. & erynow and then he would sto) and, a distant o!ser er would see, lean toward her. &ach time she would ta(e !is arm and they would wal( on. %e listened sym)athetically, intelligently, indeed generously--es)ecially for someone whose doctrines must, she thought, !e challenged at their fundaments !y her account ... if he ga e them any credence at all. After all his reluctance at the time the Message had first !een recei ed, at last she was showing Argus to him. %e was com)aniona!le, and she found herself ha))y to see him. She wished she had !een less )reoccu)ied when she had seen him last, in 6ashington. A))arently at random, they clim!ed u) the narrow metal exterior stairways that straddled the !ase of Tele-sco)e F0. The ista of +-H radio telesco)es--most of them rolling stoc( on their own set of railway trac(s--was li(e nothing else on &arth. $n the electronics !ay she slid !ac( the )lan( and retrie ed a !ul(y en elo)e with @oss4s name u)on it. %e )ut it in his inside !reast )oc(et, where it made a discerni!le !ulge. She told him a!out the Sag A and Cyg A o!ser ing )rotocols. She told him a!out her com)uter )rogram.

9$t4s ery time-consuming, e en with the Cray, to calculate )i out to something li(e ten to the twentieth )lace. And we don4t (now that what we4re loo(ing for is in )i. They sort of said it wasn4t. $t might !e e. $t might !e one of the family of transcendental num!ers they told *aygay a!out $t might !e some altogether different num!er. So a sim)le-minded !rute-force a))roach--Aust calculating fashiona!le transcendental num!ers fore er--is a waste of time. 7ut here at Argus we ha e ery so)histicated decry)tion algorithms, designed to find )atterns in a signal, designed to )ull out and dis)lay anything that loo(s nonrandom. So $ rewrote the )rograms ...9 From the ex)ression on his face, she was afraid she had not !een clear. She made a small swer e in the monologue. 9... !ut not to calculate the digits in a num!er li(e )i, )rint than out, and )resent them for ins)ection. There isn4t enough time for that. $nstead, the )rogram races throughthe digits in )i and )auses e en to thin( a!out it only when there4s some anomalous seBuence of :eros and ones. .ou (now what $4m saying5 Something nonrandom. 7y chance, there4ll !e some :eros and ones, of course. Ten )ercent of the digits will !e :eros, and another ten )ercent will !e ones. On a erage. The more digits we race through, the longer the seBuences of )ure :eros and ones that we should get !y accident. The )rogram (nows what4s ex)ected statistically and only )ays attention to unex)ectedly long seBuences of :eros and ones. And it doesn4t only loo( in !ase ten.9 9$ don4t understand. $f you loo( at enough random num!ers, won4t you get any )attern you want sim)ly !y chance59 9Sure. 7ut you can calculate how li(ely that is. $f you get a ery com)lex message ery early on, you (now it can4t !e !y chance. So, e ery day in the early hours of the morning the com)uter wor(s on this )ro!lem. No data from the outside world goes in. And so far no data from the inside world comes out. $t Aust runs through the o)timum series ex)ansion for )i and watches the digits fly. $t minds its own !usiness. Knless it finds something, it doesn4t s)ea( unless it4s s)o(en to. $t4s sort of

contem)lating its na el.9 9$4m no mathematician, 'od (nows. 7ut could you gi e me a f4r instance59 9Sure.9 She searched in the )oc(ets of her Aum) suit for a )iece of )a)er and could find none. She thought a!out reaching into his inside !reast )oc(et, retrie ing the en elo)e she had Aust gi en him and writing on it, !ut decided that was too ris(y out here in the o)en. After a moment, he understood and )roduced a small s)iral note!oo(. 9Than(s. "i starts out -.+F+,0DG . . . .ou can see that the digits ary )retty randomly. O(ay, a one a))ears twice in the first four digits, !ut after yon (ee) on going for a while it a erages out. &ach digit--H, +, D, -, F, ,, G, ;, 1, 0--a))ears almost exactly ten )ercent of the time when you4 e accumulated enough digits. Occasionally you4ll get a few consecuti e digits that are the same-FFFF, for exam)le-- !ut not more than you4d ex)ect statistically. Now, su))oseyou4re running merrily through these digits and suddenly you find nothing !ut fours. %undreds of fours all in a row. That couldn4t carry any information, !ut it also couldn4t !e a statistical flu(e. .ou could calculate the digits in )i for the age of the uni erse and, if the digits are random, you4d ne er go dee) enough to get a hundred consecuti e fours.9 9$t4s li(e the search you did for the Message. 6ith these radio telesco)es.9 9.esC in !oth cases we were loo(ing for a signal that4s well out of the noise, something that can4t !e Aust a statistical flu(e.9 97ut it doesn4t ha e to !e a hundred fours--is that right5 $t could s)ea( to us59 9Sure. $magine after a while we get a long seBuence of Aust :eros and ones. Then, Aust as we did with the Message, we could )ull a )icture out, if there4s one in there. .ou understand, it could !e anything.9

9.ou mean you could decode a )icture hiding in )i and it would !e a mess of %e!rew letters59 9Sure. 7ig !lade letters, car ed in stone.9 %e loo(ed at her Bui::ically. 9Forgi e me, &leanor, !ut don4t you thin( you4re !eing a mite too... indirect5 .ou don4t !elong to a silent order of 7uddhist nuns. 6hy don4t you Aust tell your story59 9"almer, if $ had hard e idence, $4d s)ea( u). 7ut if $ don4t ha e any, )eo)le li(e 8it: will say that $4m lying. Or hallucinating. That4s why that manuscri)t4s in your inside )oc(et. .ou4re going to seal it, date it, notari:e it, and )ut it in a safety-de)osit !ox. $f anything ha))ens to me, you can release it to the world. $ gi e you full authority to do anything you want with it.9 9And if nothing ha))ens to you59 9$f nothing ha))ens to me5 Then, when we find what we4re loo(ing for, that manuscri)t will confirm our story. $f we find e idence of a dou!le !lac( hole at the 'alactic Center, or some huge artificial construction in Cygnus A, or a message hiding inside )i, this9--she ta))ed him lightly on the chest--9will !e my e idence. Then $4ll s)ea( out.... Meantime, don4t lose it.9 9$ still don4t understand,9 he confessed. 96e (now there4s a mathematical order to the uni erse. The law of gra ity and all that. %ow is this different5 So there4s order inside the digits of )i. So what59 9No, don4t you see5 This would !e different. This isn4t Aust starting the uni erse out with some )recise mathematical laws that determine )hysics and chemistry. This is a message. 6hoe er ma(es the uni erse hides messages in transcendental num!ers so they4ll !e read fifteen !illion years later when intelligent life finally e ol es. $ critici:ed you and #an(in the time we first met for not understanding this. $f 'od wanted us to (now that he existed, why didn4t he send us an unam!iguous message54 $ as(ed. #emem!er59

9$ remem!er ery well. .ou thin( 'od is a mathematician.9 9Something li(e that. $f what we4re told is true. $f this isn4t a wild-goose chase. $f there4s a message hiding in )i and not one of the infinity of other transcendental num!ers. That4s a lot of ifs.9 9.ou4re loo(ing for #e elation in arithmetic. $ (now a !etter way.9 9"almer, this is the only way. This is the only thing that would con ince a s(e)tic. $magine we find something. $t doesn4t ha e to !e tremendously com)licated. @ust something more orderly than could accumulate !y chance that many digits into )i That4s all we need. Then mathematicians all o er the world can find exactly the same )attern or message or whate er it )ro es to !e. Then there are no sectarian di isions. & ery!ody !egins reading the same Scri)ture. No one could then argue that the (ey miracle in the religion was some conAurer4s tric(, or that later historians had falsified the record, or that it4s Aust hysteria or delusion or a su!stitute )arent for when we grow u). & eryone could !e a !elie er.9 9.ou can4t !e sure you4ll find anything. .ou can hide here and com)ute till the cows come home. Or you can go out and tell your story to the world. Sooner or later you4ll ha e to choose.9 9$4m ho)ing $ won4t ha e to choose. "almer. First the )hysical e idence, then the )u!lic announcements. Otherwise ... >on4t you see how ulnera!le we4d !e5 $ don4t mean for myself, !ut ...9 %e shoo( his head almost im)erce)ti!ly. A smile was )laying at the corners of his li)s. %e had detected a certain irony in their circumstances. 96hy are you so eager for me to tell my story59 she as(ed. "erha)s he too( it for a rhetorical Buestion. At any rate he did not res)ond,

and she continued. 9>on4t you thin( there4s !een a strange . . . re ersal of our )ositions5 %ere $ am, the !earer of the )rofound religious ex)erience $ can4t )ro e--really, "almer, $ can !arely fathom it. And here you are, the hardened s(e)tic trying-- more successfully than $ e er did--to !e (ind to the credulous.9 9Oh no, &leanor,9 he said, 9$4m not a s(e)tic. $4m a !elie er.9 9Are you5 The story $ ha e to tell isn4t exactly a!out "unishment and #eward. $t4s not exactly Ad ent and #a)ture. There4s not a word in it a!out @esus. "art of my message is that we4re not central to the )ur)ose of the Cosmos. 6hat ha))ened to me ma(es us all seem ery small.9 9$t does. 7ut it also ma(es 'od ery !ig.9 She glanced at him for a moment and rushed on. 9.on (now, as the &arth races around the Sun, the )owers of this world--the religious )owers, the secular )owers-once )retended the &arth wasn4t mo ing at all. They were in the !usiness of !eing )owerful. Or at least )retending to !e )owerful And the truth made them feel too small. The truth frightened themC it undermined their )ower. So they su))ressed it. Those )eo)le found the truth dangerous. .ou4re sure you (now what !elie ing me entails59 9$4 e !een searching, &leanor. After all these years, !elie e me, $ (now the truth when $ see it. Any faith that admires truth, that stri es to (now 'od, must !e !ra e enough to accommodate the uni erse. $ mean the real uni erse. All those light-years. All those worlds. $ thin( of the sco)e of your uni erse, the o))ortunities it affords the Creator, and it ta(es my !reath away. $t4s much !etter than !ottling %im u) in one small world. $ ne er li(ed the idea of &arth as 'od4s green footstool. $t was too reassuring, li(e a children4s story . . . li(e a tranBuili:er. 7ut your uni erse has room enough, and time enough, for the (ind of 'od $ !elie e in. 9$ say you don4t need any more )roof. There are )roofs enough already. Cygnus A

and all that are Aust for the scientists. .ou thin( it4ll !e hard to con ince ordinary )eo)le that you4re telling the truth. $ thin( it4ll !e easy as )ie. .ou thin( your story is too )eculiar, too alien. 7ut $4 e heard it !efore. $ (now it well. And $ !et you do too.9 %e closed his eyes and, after a moment, recited<%e dreamed, and !ehold a ladder set u) on the earth, and the to) of it reached to hea en< and !ehold the angels of 'od ascending and descending on it.. . . Surely the 3ord is in this )laceC and $ (new it not. . . . This is none other !ut the %ouse of 'od, and this is the gate of hea en. %e had !een a little carried away, as if )reaching to the multitudes from the )ul)it of a great cathedral, and when he o)ened his eyes it was with a small self-de)recatory smile. They wal(ed down a ast a enue, flan(ed left and right !y enormous whitewashed radio telesco)es straining at the s(y, and after a moment he s)o(e in a more con ersational tone<9.our story has !een foretold. $t4s ha))ened !efore. Somewhere inside of yon, you must ha e (nown. None of your details are in the 7oo( of 'enesis. Of course not. %ow could they !e5 The 'enesis account was right for the time of @aco!. @ust as your witness is right for this time, for our time. 9"eo)le are going to !elie e you, &leanor. Millions of them. All o er the world. $ (now it for certain...9 She shoo( her head, and they wal(ed on for another moment in silence !efore he continued. 9All right, then. $ understand. .ou ta(e as much time as you ha e to. 7ut if there4s any way to hurry it u), do it--for my sa(e. 6e ha e less than a year to the Millennium.9 9$ understand also. 7ear with me a few more months. $f we ha en4t found something in )i !y then, $4ll consider going )u!lic with what ha))ened u) there. 7efore @anuary +. May!e &da and the others would !e willing to s)ea( out also. O(ay59 They wal(ed in silence !ac( toward the Argus administration !uilding. The

s)rin(lers were watering the meager lawn, and they ste))ed around a )uddle that, on this )arched earth, seemed alien, out of )lace. 9%a e you e er !een married59 he as(ed. 9No, $ ne er ha e. $ guess $4 e !een too !usy.9 9& er !een in lo e59 The Buestion was direct, matter-of-fact. 9%alfway, half a do:en times. 7ut9--she glanced at the nearest telesco)e--9there was always so much noise, the signal was hard to find. And you59 9Ne er,9 he re)lied flatly. There was a )ause, and then he added with a faint smile, 97ut $ ha e faith.9 She decided not to )ursue this am!iguity Aust yet, and they mounted the short flight of stairs to examine the Argus mainframe com)uter. C%A"T&# DF The Artist4s Signature 7ehold, $ tell you a mysteryC we shall not all slee), !ut we shall all !e changed. - $ CO#$NT%$ANS +,<,+ The uni erse seems ... to ha e !een determined and ordered in accordance with num!er, !y the forethought and the mind of the creator of all thingsC for the )attern was fixed, li(e a )reliminary s(etch, !y the domination of num!er )reexistent in the mind of the world-creating 'od. - N$COMAC%KS OF '&#ASA Arithmetic $, G /ca. A.>. +HH2 S%& #KS%&> u) the ste)s of the nursing home and, on the newly re)ainted green eranda, mar(ed off at regular inter als !y em)ty roc(ing chairs, she saw @ohn Staughton--stoo)ed, immo!ile, his arms dead weights. $n his right hand !e clutched a sho))ing !ag in which &llie could see a translucent shower ca), a flowered ma(eu) case, and two !edroom sli))ers adorned with )in( )om-)oms.

9She4s gone,9 he said as his eyes focused. 9>on4t go in,9 he )leaded. 9>on4t loo( at her. She would4 e hated for you to see her li(e this. .ou (now how much )ride she too( in her a))earance. Anyway, she4s not in there.9 Almost reflexi ely, out of long )ractice and still unresol ed resentments, &llie was tem)ted to turn and enter anyway. 6as she )re)ared, e en now, to defy him as a matter of )rinci)le5 6hat was the )rinci)le, exactly5 From the ha oc on his face, there was no Buestion a!out the authenticity of his remorse. %e had lo ed her mother. May!e, she thought, he lo ed her more than $ did, and a wa e of self-re)roach swe)t through her. %er mother had !een so frail for so long that &llie had tested, many times, how she would res)ond when the moment came. She remem!ered how !eautiful her mother had !een in the )icture that Staughton had sent her, and suddenly, des)ite her rehearsals for this moment, she was wrac(ed with so!s. Startled !y her distress, Staughton mo ed to comfort her. 7ut she )ut u) a hand, and with a isi!le effort regained her self-control. & en now, she could not !ring herself to em!race him. They were strangers, tenuously lin(ed !y a cor)se. 7ut she had !een wrong--she (new it in the de)ths of her !eing--to ha e !lamed Staughton for her father4s death. 9$ ha e something for you,9 he said as he fum!led in the sho))ing !ag. Some of the contents circulated !etween to) and !ottom, and she could see now an imitation-leather wallet and a )lastic denture case. She had to loo( away. Atlast he straightened u), flourishing a weather-!eaten en elo)e. 9For &leanor,9 it read. #ecogni:ing her mother4s handwriting, she mo ed to ta(e it. Staughton too( a startled ste) !ac(ward, raising the en elo)e in front of !is face as if she had !een a!out to stri(e him. 96ait,9 he said. 96ait. $ (now we4 e ne er gotten along. 7ut do me this one fa or< >on4t read the letter until tonight. O(ay59

$n his grief, he seemed a decade older. 96hy59 she as(ed. 9.our fa orite Buestion. @ust do me this one courtesy. $s it too much to as(59 9.ou4re right,9 she said. 9$t4s not too much to as(. $4m sorry.9 %e loo(ed her directly in the eye. 96hate er ha))ened to you in that Machine,9 he said, 9may!e it changed you.9 9$ ho)e so, @ohn.9 She called @oss and as(ed him if he would )erform the funeral ser ice. 9$ don4t ha e to tell you $4m not religious. 7ut there were times when my mother was. .ou4re the only )erson $ can thin( of whom $4d want to do it, and $4m )retty sure my ste)father will a))ro e.9 %e would !e there on the next )lane, @oss assured her. $n her hotel room, after an early dinner, she fingered the en elo)e, caressing e ery fold and scuff. $t was old. %er mother must ha e written it years ago, carrying it around in some com)artment of her )urse, de!ating with herself whether to gi e it to &llie. $t did not seem newly resealed, and &llie wondered whether Staughton had read it. "art of her hungered to o)en it, and )art of her hung !ac( with a (ind of fore!oding. She sat for a long time in the musty armchair thin(ing, her (nees drawn u) lim!erly against her chin. A chime sounded, and the not Buite noiseless carriage of her telefax came to life. $t was lin(ed to the Argus com)uter. Although it reminded her of the old days, there was no real urgency. 6hate er the com)uter had found was not a!out to go awayC 5 would not set as the &arth turned. $f there was a message hiding inside 5, it would wait for her fore er. She examined the en elo)e again, !ut the echo of the chime intruded. $f there was content inside a

transcendental num!er, it could only ha e !een !uilt into the geometry of the uni erse from the !eginning. This new )roAect of hers was in ex)erimental theology. 7ut so is all of science, she thought. 9STAN> 7.,9 the com)uter )rinted out on the telefax screen. She thought of her father. . . well, the simulacrum of her father ... a!out the Careta(ers with their networ( of tunnels through the 'alaxy. They had witnessed and )erha)s influenced the origin and de elo)ment of life on millions of worlds. They were !uilding galaxies, closing off sectors of the uni erse. They could manage at least a limited (ind of time tra el. They were gods !eyond the )ious imaginings of almost all religions--all 6estern religions, anyway. 7ut e en they had their limitations. They had not !uilt the tunnels and were una!le to do so. They had not inserted the message into the transcendental num!er, and could not e en read it. The Tunnel !uilders and the 5 in-scri!ers were some!ody else. They didn4t li e here anymore. They had left no forwarding address. 6hen the Tunnel !uilders had de)arted, she guessed, those who would e entually !e the Careta(ers had !ecome a!andoned children. 3i(e her, li(e her. She thought a!out &da4s hy)othesis that the tunnels were wormholes, distri!uted at con enient inter als around innumera!le stars in this and other galaxies. They resem!led !lac( holes, !ut they had different )ro)erties and different origins. They were not exactly massless, !ecause she had seen them lea e gra itational wa(es in the or!iting de!ris in the *ega system. And through them !eings and shi)s of many (inds tra ersed and !ound u) the 'alaxy. 6ormholes. $n the re ealing Aargon of theoretical )hysics, the uni erse was their a))le and someone had tunneled through, riddling the interior with )assageways that criss-crossed the core. For a !acillus who li ed on the surface, it was a miracle. 7ut a !eing standing outside the a))le might !e less im)ressed. From that )ers)ecti e, the Tunnel !uilders were only an annoyance. 7ut if the Tunnel !uilders are worms, she thought, who are we5The Argus com)uter had gone dee) into 5, dee)er than anyone on &arth, human or machine, had e er gone, although not nearly so dee) as the Careta(ers had entured. This was much too soon, she

thought, to !e the long-undecry)ted message a!out which Theodore Arroway had told her on the shores of that uncharted sea. May!e this was Aust a gearing u), a )re iew of coming attractions, an encouragement to further ex)loration, a to(en so humans would not lose heart. 6hate er it was, it could not )ossi!ly !e the message the Careta(ers were struggling with. May!e there were easy messages and hard messages, loc(ed away in the arious transcendental cum!ers, and the Argus com)uter had found the easiest. 6ith hel). At the Station, she had learned a (ind of humility, a reminder of how little the inha!itants of &arth really (new. There might, she thought, !e as many categories of !eings more ad anced than humans as there are !etween us and the ants, or may!e e en !etween us and the iruses. 7ut it had not de)ressed her. #ather than a daunting resignation, it had aroused in her a swelling sense of wonder. There was so much more to as)ire to now. $t was li(e the ste) from high school to college, from e erything coming effortlessly to the necessity of ma(ing a sustained and disci)lined effort to understand at all. $n high school, she had gras)ed her coursewor( more Buic(ly than almost any!ody. $n college, she had disco ered many )eo)le much Buic(er than she. There had !een the same sense of incremental difficulty and challenge when she entered graduate school, and when she !ecame a )rofessional astronomer. At e ery stage, she had found scientists moreaccom)lished than she, and each stage had !een more exciting than the last. 3et the re elations roll, she thought, loo(ing at the telefax. She was ready. 9T#ANSM$SS$ON "#O73&M. SENY+H. "3&AS& STAN> 7..9

She was lin(ed to the Argus com)uter !y a communications relay satellite called >efcom Al)ha. "erha)s there had !een an attitude-control )ro!lem, or a )rogramming foul-u). 7efore she could thin( a!out it further, she found she had o)ened the en elo)e. A##O6A. %A#>6A#&, the letterhead said, and sure enough, the ty)e font was that of the old #oyal her

father had (e)t at home to do !oth !usiness and )ersonal accounts. 9@une +-, +0GF9 was ty)ed in the u))er right-hand corner. She had !een fifteen then. %er father could not ha e written itC he had !een dead for years. A glance at the !ottom of the )age confirmed the neat hand of her mother. ??My sweet &llie,?? ??Now that $4m dead, $ ho)e you can find it in your heart to forgi e me. $ (now $ committed a sin against you, and not Aust you. $ couldn4t !ear how you4d hate me if you (new the truth. That4s why $ didn4t ha e the courage to tell you while $ was ali e. $ (now how much you lo ed Ted Arroway, and $ want you to (now $ did, too. $ still do. 7ut he wasn4t your real father. .our real father is @ohn Staughton. $ did something ery wrong. $ shouldn4t ha e and $ was wea(, !ut if $ hadn4t you wouldn4t !e in the world, so )lease !e (ind when you thin( a!out me. Ted (new and he ga e me forgi eness and we said we4d ne er tell you. 7ut $ loo( out the window right now and $ see you in the !ac(yard. .ou4re sitting there thin(ing a!out stars and things that $ ne er could understand and $4m so )roud of you. .ou ma(e such a )oint a!out the truth, $ thought it was right that you should (now this truth a!out yourself. .our !eginning, $ mean.?? ??$f @ohn is still ali e, then he4s gi en you this letter. $ (now he4ll do it. %e4s a !etter man than yon thin( he is, &llie. $ was luc(y to find him again. May!e you hate him so much !ecause something inside of you figured out the truth. 7ut really yon hate him !ecause he isn4t Theodore Arroway. $ (now.?? ??There yon are, still sitting out there. .ou ha en4t mo ed since $ started this letter. .ou4re Aust thin(ing. $ ho)e and )ray that whate er you4re see(ing, you4ll find. Forgi e me. $ was only human.?? ??3o e,?? ??Mom?? &llie had assimilated the letter in a single gul), and immediately read it again. She had difficulty !reathing. %er hands were clammy. The im)ostor had turned out to !e the real thing. For most of her life, she had reAected her own father, without the aguest notion of what she was doing. 6hat strength of character he had shown during all those adolescent out!ursts when she taunted

him for not !eing her father, for ha ing no right to tell her what to do. The telefax chimed again, twice. $t was now in iting her to )ress the #&TK#N (ey. 7ut she did not ha e the will to go to it. $t would ha e to wait. She thought of her Fa... of Theodore Arroway, and @ohn Staughton, and her mother. They had sacrificed much for her, and she had !een too self-in ol ed e en to notice. She wished "almer were with her. The telefax chimed once more, and the carriage mo ed tentati ely, ex)erimentally. She had )rogrammed the com)uter to !e )ersistent, e en a little inno ati e, in attracting her attention if it thought it had found something in 5. 7ut she was much too !usy undoing and reconstructing the mythology of her life. %er mother would ha e !een sitting at the des( in the !ig !edroom u)stairs, glancing out the window as she wondered how to )hrase the letter, and her eye had rested on &llie at age fifteen, aw(ward, resentful, re!ellious. %er mother had gi en her another gift. 6ith this letter, &llie had cycled !ac( and come u)on herself all those yearsago. She had learned so much since then. There was so much more to learn. A!o e the ta!le on which the chattering telefax sat was a mirror. $n it she saw a woman neither young nor old, neither mother nor daughter. They had !een right to (ee) the truth from her. She was not sufficiently ad anced to recei e that signal, much less decry)t it. She had s)ent her career attem)ting to ma(e contact with the most remote and alien of strangers, while in her own life she had made contact with hardly anyone at all. She had !een fierce in de!un(ing the creation myths of others, and o!li ious to the lie at the core of her own. She had studied the uni erse all her life, !ut had o erloo(ed its clearest message< For small creatures such as we the astness is !eara!le only through lo e. The Argus com)uter was so )ersistent and in enti e in its attem)ts to contact &leanor Arroway that it almost con eyed an urgent )ersonal need to share the disco ery.

The anomaly showed u) most star(ly in 7ase ++ arithmetic, where it could !e written out entirely as :eros and ones. Com)ared with what had !een recei ed from *ega, this could !e at !est a sim)le message, !ut its statistical significance was high. The )rogram reassem!led the digits into a sBuare raster, an eBual num!er across and down. The first line was an uninterru)ted file of :eros, left to right. The second line showed a single numeral one, exactly in the middle, with :eros to the !orders, left and right. After a few more lines, an unmista(a!le arc had formed, com)osed of ones. The sim)le geometrical figure had !een Buic(ly constructed, line !y line, self-reflexi e, rich with )romise. The last line of the figure emerged, all :eros exce)t for a single centered one. The su!seBuent line would !e :eros only, )art of the frame. %iding in the alternating )atterns of digits, dee) inside the transcendental num!er, was a )erfect circle, its form traced out !y unities in afield of noughts. The uni erse was made on )ur)ose, the circle said. $n whate er galaxy you ha))en to find yourself, you ta(e the circumference of a circle, di ide it !y its diameter, measure closelyenough, and unco er a miracle--another circle, drawn (ilometers downstream of the decimal )oint. There would !e richer messages farther in. $t doesn4t matter what you loo( li(e, or what you4re made of, or where you come from. As long as you li e in this uni erse, and ha e a modest talent for mathematics, sooner or later you4ll find it. $t4s already here. $t4s inside e erything. .ou don4t ha e to lea e your )lanet to find it. $n the fa!ric of s)ace and in the nature of matter, as in a great wor( of art, there is, written small, the artist4s signature. Standing o er humans, gods, and demons, su!suming Careta(ers and Tunnel !uilders, there is an intelligence that antedates the uni erse. The circle had closed. She found what she had !een searching for. Author4s Note Although of course $ ha e !een influenced !y those $ (now, none of the characters herein is a close )ortrait of a real )erson. Ne ertheless, this !oo( owes much to the world S&T$ community-

-a small !and of scientists from all o er our small )lanet, wor(ing together, sometimes in the face of daunting o!stacles, to listen for a signal from the s(ies. $ would li(e to ac(nowledge a s)ecial de!t of gratitude to the S&T$ )ioneers Fran( >ra(e, "hili) Morrison, and the late $. S. Sh(io s(ii. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is now entering a new )hase, with two maAor )rograms under way--the 1-million-channel M&TAESentinel sur ey at %ar ard Kni ersity, s)onsored !y the "asadena-!ased "lanetary Society, and a still more ela!orate )rogram under the aus)ices of the National Aeronautics and S)ace Administration. My fondest ho)e for this !oo( is that it will !e made o!solete !y the )ace of real scientific disco ery. Se eral friends and colleagues ha e !een (ind enough to read an earlier draft andEor ma(e detailed comments that ha e influenced the !oo(4s )resent form. $ am dee)ly grateful to them, including Fran( >ra(e, "earl >ruyan, 3ester 'rins)oon, lr ing 'ru!er, @on 3om!erg, "hili) Morrison, Nancy "almer, 6ill "ro ine, Stuart Sha)iro, Ste en Soter, and 8i) Thorne. "rofessor Thorne too( the trou!le to consider the galactic trans)ortation system descri!ed herein, generating fifty lines of eBuations in the rele ant gra itational )hysics. %el)ful ad ice on content or style came from Scott Meredith, Michael 8orda, @ohn %erman, 'regory 6e!er, Clifton Fadiman, and the late Theodore Sturgeon. Through the many stages of the )re)aration of this !oo( Shirley Arden has wor(ed long and flawlesslyC $ am ery grateful to her, and to 8el Arden. $ than( @oshua 3e-der!erg for first suggesting to me many years ago and )erha)s )layfully that a high form of intelligence might li e at the center of the Mil(y 6ay 'alaxy. The idea has antecedents, as all ideas do, and something similar seems to ha e !een en isioned around +;,H !y Thomas 6right, the first )erson to mention ex)licitly that the 'alaxy might ha e a center. A woodcut !y 6right de)icting the center of the 'alaxy is shown on the inside front co er. This !oo( has grown out of a treatment for a motion )icture that Ann >ruyan and $ wrote in +01H-1+. 3ynda O!st and 'entry 3ee facilitated that early )hase. At e ery stage in the writing of this !oo( $ ha e !enefited tremendously from Ann >ruyan--from the earliest conce)tuali:ation of the )lot and central

characters to the final galley )roofing. 6hat $ learned from her in the )rocess is what $ cherish most a!out the writing of this !oo(.

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