Most Gentle Stream

In Isaac Asimov’s time travel novel, The End of Eternity, the crafty Noÿs Lambent looks into her own future and sees that she will fall in love with Andrew Harlan. Of course, that happy future is only one of an infinity of possible futures, but she makes it her own. Andrew Harlan is helpless to avoid the fate that Noÿs selects for them.

In Cellular Civilization the crafty Dexamene Gregores is not so lucky. Of course, poor Dexamene does not have access to time travel technology and other wonders from 10,000,000 years in the future. But all is not lost! Dexamene does have access to technology from the past, a past in which nanorobotic alien life forms came to Earth and stirred up trouble.

What kind of trouble? Humans.

Ancient myths are sprinkled with stories about god-like beings who have the magical ability to play with human emotions. The star-crossed lover is an age old literary concept. Arthur C. Clarke noted that advanced technology might seem like magic or the work of a god-like being.

I’ve long wondered what technological tricks were used by Noÿs to manipulate Andrew’s behavior. What kinds of chemicals were in the drink she gave to Andrew when she seduced him? Did Noÿs (or, possibly, some lurking positronic robot) use telepathy to put ideas into Andrew’s head? Or did that only require a revealing wardrobe from the 482nd Century?

Dexamene does not hesitate to use every weapon in her arsenal to make Charlie fall in love, but Dexamene is a busy Interventionist and does not have time for romance. However, Dexamene does have seven spare clones, her sisters, who can be called upon to do her dirty work.

So Dexamene brings her sister, Yasas, to Earth and arranges that Charlie and Yasas fall in love with each other….all it takes is tight pants, pheromones and some minor brain surgery…well, that and the fact that Yasas can amuse Charlie by casually discussing theoretical physics and spaceship propulsion systems. In the end, both Charlie and Yasas are content to find themselves together, splashing around in love’s most gentle stream.

True, we do not usually think of brain surgery as a means of making someone fall in love with us, but Yasas is not limited to bear skins and stone knives, as Bones once described the high technology of our primitive times. Yasas is a product of Genesaunt culture and the beneficiary of cultural artifacts arising from alien life forms that brought advanced nanotechnology to Earth millions of years ago.

In the skilled hands of Yasas, brain surgery means memetic surgery, a technique that allows individually identified synaptic connections to be trimmed and pruned. Charlie’s brain is putty in her hands, but shaping someone’s emotions it is delicate work and while she’s busy making Charlie fall in love the crafty Dexamene is making Yasas fall in love with Charlie.

Charlie and Yasas eventually figure out what happened to them, but they are resigned to their fate and offer few objections. Anyhow, they soon find themselves caught up in a larger mystery and on their way to the stars.

Image. Apologies to Domingo Alvarez Enciso.

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