CHIEF Constable Bodwyn Wook (retired) says:
‘WHEN It came time to die — some twenty-five hundred years from “to-day”! — I gave into the first impulsive act of my life.
‘Was it craven fear, of extinction? Horrid, to contemplate non-being….
‘Or was it, rather, an act of sublime curiosity?
‘Naturally enough I prefer the valorous explanation — and, indeed, I had then many questions about the nature of life, here on Old Earth before the space-faring age.
‘Accordingly I approached a certain criminal with whom my work in policing had brought me into propinquity. I was aware that certain illegal experiments had long been done Beyond, in time-travel. Their “illegality” stemmed not so much from the fact that so-called criminals were undertaking them as that they consisted in certain unauthorised manipulations, of the patented “Jarnell” process for faster-than-light travel. Indeed the question of “legality” was moot — in the Beyond, no writ runs except that which the agent can enforce by his own wit and quickness and skill.
‘Nor was I any such “agent”, contracted by the Jarnell Corporation to pursue these people, and to enforce their copyrights. For one thing I was now much too old for cutting such didoes and pranks.
‘No, not a bit of it! I must confess, my enquiries were entirely personal and in my own interest. As I say I had long entertained a good deal of curiosity, about — history.
‘So it was then that one fine Spring morning on Cadwal planet I eluded my numerous and (now that I was old!) over-officious relatives and friends, with their vile wagging stethoscopes and proffered oxygen-bottles, and their false you look very well to-day, Great-grandfathers. I rolled along in my electric chair to the spaceport, was swung aboard by voice-actuated waldos, and then “borrowed”, my nephew Glawen’s spaceship and so made my way for many months at faster-than-lightspeed to the farthest reach of Beyond.
‘”BEYOND, There will always be a ‘beyond!””
‘This is the great slogan — and, eternal despair !– of policemen in all ages and all places.
‘As it is also our sure guarantee of employment, one perhaps had ought not to be maudlin.
‘And for a fact the Beyond is that whole human (and, post-human!) belt that is far larger as to sheer cubic light-years than the entire civilised and settled volume of the tamed and regulated Gaean Reach.
‘The ambiguous great advantage of the Beyond is that — literally, I mean — anything (or, anyone!) may be obtained….
‘My own arrangements in this department were well laid, a (large!) number of SVU’s had passed through many hands and, on my arrival on a certain darksome little world circling by capture at long range from a bloated red star of gargantuan size, I handed myself over to certain experimentalists. You may wonder at my temerity — after all the Beyond was full of persons whom at one time or another I had detained and thwarted and investigated, all in the course of my long police-career–but I retained every confidence in the matter.
‘I am, in a contemporary phrase, “an old cop”, and so I well know it, that beyond all the usual forms taken, above all by greed, there is in some admittedly dark and stick-at-nothing hearts an immense profound lust for more — knowledge.
‘Accordingly, I was strapped and sedated and wired, and by certain electromagnetic processes the entirety of my thought and character and “being” was lifted and transferred posthaste across light-years and aeons, plop, into the newly-fertilised zygote of a little human foetus here on Old Earth — the “virgin” birth in the fable of Redemptor Feistersnap has nothing on it!
‘I Had opted for the “full experience” as it was phrased — this meant that the experimentalists were not entirely sure of their processes in other words — and, convinced by certain mathematical descriptions, I assented. After all it was clear that even though I should spend a childhood and adolescence in ignorance of my true origins, in the end I would be become — aware! Certain “triggers” were embedded into the data-packet with my soul’s algorithm, and these assured the matter….
‘Hence on a certain dreary night in the spring of 1986 AD/CE, and when I was in my thirty-eighth year, at a sordid “Embers” greasy restaurant under a certain bridge in Old Mankato, in Minnesota, I was handed Mr Jack Vance’s science-fiction book The Palace of Love.
‘It was after an AA-meeting, of course, and the book was proffered by an acquaintance in sobriety whom I have learnt since is, himself, the re-incarnation of Unspiek, the Baron Bodissey, whose ten-volume Life was (or rather shall be — it will not yet be written for another thousand years!) to be the bane of my schooldays, on Cadwall planet.
‘I leave it to you to conceive of my initial despair when once I had read The Palace of Love through in its entirety, and the embedded mnemonics had done their work:
‘I was indeed Chief Constable Bodwyn Wook (and, now, retired for a fact!).
‘And — the horror! — the calibrations were seventy-five years awry. I had wanted to be born in England, in 1874. And here I was, this wretched Emmett Smith-farmer, born in 1949. Of course there was still plenty of work to be done, but…
‘I Had wanted to be–Winston Churchill.’
(CHIEF Constable Bodwyn Wook [retd] served for many years in ‘Bureau B’ of the Cadwal Conservancy, based on Araminta Station. As Chief Constable and IPCC-affiliate, CC Wook directed the successful renewal of the Naturalist Society Charter against a renegade cabal of IPF-er’s [Independence, Peace & Freedom factionalists; or, ‘peefers’]. As a result, Cadwal Planet continues ‘to-day’ to be preserved as a Conservancy of the now-superseded [Old Earth] Naturalist Society
(Upon retirement, CC Wook [retd] took advantage of new breakthroughs in the technology of the Jarnell Intersplit to be re-incarnated [sic] as a man of the final decades of the late-modern age [Gaean era, ie]. CC Wook [retd] was born into his present embodiment in 1949 AD/CE; and, he lives among us as a completely unexceptionable example of late-modern european-american man. Now, just past the middle of the second decade of the so-far-inadequately-called ‘post-modern’ age, CC Wook [retd] has come forward in his role of an amateur historian of some force and salience, to offer his guidance in our understanding of the looming advent of post-human and post-terran awareness.
(In the days ahead you may very well find retired Chief Constable Wook’s insights and commentary instructive and enjoyable; and, your responses to the work of the gentleman are most sincerely and courteously invited.
(NB: Those who may wish to learn more of retired Chief Constable Wook’s ‘previous’ career are invited to direct their attention to the writings of future-historian Mr Jack Vance; most notably his Araminta Station trilogy, the first volume of which was published in 1988 AD/CE. ERS)
[Emmett R Smith
[all transcription rights reserved
[19 April 2006]