MVC Podcast 3: Ishtar Terra Coniferous Dome
[00:30:20] January 7th, 2023
Charles Reuben's first trip to "The New World Empire" universe.
or listen through
or the RSS feed.
If you recall, we left on a cliff-hanger, almost literally. It was more of a cliff-slide-downer while unconscious, technically, but I digress. So, to start, I’ll jump right it where we left off with the recital, then I’ll talk a bit about it and break it down afterward.
Without further ado, chapter two: ISHTAR TERRA CONIFEROUS DOME
I heard voices in the distance, as I began to resurface toward consciousness. At first, I didn’t remember where I was, or what had happened earlier.
I heard a man in the distance, as if in a dream, speaking like a drunk Scotsman performing Shakespeare.
I think it’s safe to say that since, for centuries, the Fathoms only ever talked to themselves, their dialect was even more difficult to understand than everyone else in that universe.
Still, I was able to make out that he was saying that the sun was low on the horizon. A child’s voice replied, seeming a bit annoyed with the adult. Rather than trying to remember their exact words, I’ll record here what I’m pretty sure they meant to say.
I opened my eyes and sat up. I took in the scene for a few moments. I was on some kind of stretcher in a pine forest, and I could hear woodpeckers pecking, and other birds. I looked up beyond the treetops at the sky, and realized I was inside a large clear dome. I could see the curved image of the reflected treetops, and the clouds in the twilit sky beyond. In spite of this, I felt a breeze, and all of my other senses told me I was outdoors.
I looked to my right and saw a man and a boy facing a panel of computer screens. The boy was blonde and sitting on a stool. The man beside him stood, had silver Beethovenesque hair, and wore a kind of white lab coat. I laughed, thinking that from behind they looked a little like Rick and Morty.
Beyond the computer screens was some kind of car, or tank, like a chrome steampunk dune buggy.
The boy turned and saw me. He had a gentle face, with green eyes. He said, “Arthur.” The older man, who I now presumed must be “Arthur” turned. He also had green eyes.
I asked them, “How did I…?” and at that moment I remembered my throat burning, and passing out trying to get back into The Coffeehouse.
Arthur said something like, “He speaks English! Joe, he’s awake, and he speaks English!”
They walked up to me, “I am Arthur Fathom, and this is my apprentice, Joseph.”
“I’m Charles Reuben, pleased to meet you,” I shook their hands.
“You’re from Earth?”
I replied, “Born and raised. You?”
“We might have been born on Earth, we’re not sure, but we grew up here on Venus.”
“This is Venus?”
Arthur laughed, “The man doesn’t know what planet he’s on!”
I said, “There was a mountain. I was choking, and I started falling.”
“How did you climb up so far without a mask?”
“You saved my life, didn’t you?”
Joseph piped up, “I did, actually. I saw a door appear and disappear several days ago. I told my predecessor, but he didn’t believe me.”
Arthur nodded, “I recall you said something about a door. What does that have to do with Charles?”
Joseph rolled his eyes, turning to me, “You’ll have to forgive him, he’s starting to degrade. It’s the radiation, I think. Gets us early.”
“Do you see what I have to put up with?!” Arthur said, feigning exasperation, but it was clear that this was just their banter.
Joseph said, “You’re the first person we’ve ever met that wasn’t genetically identical to ourselves.”
“Oh, I assumed you were father and son.”
“No, this was the project of our original, Samuel Fathom, centuries ago. He worked for the richest woman in the world, allowing him to do,” Joseph motioned with his arm to the domed forest around them, “all this.”
I said, “Those machines in the sky, blowing the air… are they terraforming Venus?!”
“Who is they? We are!” Joseph said, indicating Arthur and himself.
I sat on one of the stools, “I think I get it. So, you raise another version of yourself to continue the work through the centuries?”
“And you’re the only Humans on Venus?”
“Until you arrived.”
Arthur interjected, “There’s a bit more to that story.”
Joseph rolled his eyes, “You’re not going to tell him that tall tale.”
Arthur raised an eyebrow, “There may be some truth to it, I think”
“You think that because your brain is damaged. It was surely some fantasy made up by one of our predecessors to tease his apprentice. He must have died before he could tell him he’d made it up.”
Arthur seemed distracted by something on one of the screens.
I asked Joseph, “You were saying, you saw a door open and close up on the mountain?”
Joseph nodded, “I set up a camera there, and I saw you walk through. It was very useful to learn that a person can already breathe so easily outside, provided they are directly under a filter-craft.”
“Glad I could help.”
Arthur said, “Where do you come from on Earth?”
“Do you know Los Angeles?”
“California! Of course, that explains the accent.”
“What year is it?”
Arthur asked, “According to which calendar?”
“I’ve never heard it referred to that way, but I know the Pope you’re referring to. For a man who doesn’t know what year it is or which planet he’s on, you sure know your history. By Greg’s reconning, I believe the year would be 2316, the year of our Lord,” Arthur crossed himself mock ceremoniously.
Now it was my turn to laugh.
“What tickles you?”
I told him, “It just strikes me as funny that you’re 300 years in my future, yet you’re speaking Elizabethan English.”
“You’re a time traveler?”
“Time, space, dimension.”
He said, “I’ve never heard this term ‘Elizabethan’, I assume to refers to a woman named Elizabeth?”
“Queen of England back in the 1500s. The daughter of Henry the 8th?”
Arthur shook his head and said, “I am quite certain that Henry 8 had no daughters, only the son, Henry 9.”
“Really?! …and how many wives did Henry the 8th have?”
“Just the one, Catherine of Aragon. Their son Henry 9 united all of Europe, and Henry 10 commissioned the first dictionary in Greg’s 1604.”
I remembered my parents talking about how two particular universes had once been one, referring to the separation point between them as the ‘Original Divergent Incident’.
I took out my new journal, turned to the second page, and wrote “Original Divergent Incident, Henry VIII gets a son on the first try. Venus, 2316.”
Joseph watched me write it, “An interesting turn of phrase. May I see your notebook?” I thought nothing of it at the time, and handed it to him.
“Arthur, if you don’t mind my asking, what was the rest of that story you mentioned?”
Arthur looked to young Joseph for approval. Joseph shrugged, so Arthur explained, “Back when I was his age, my mentor was named Edgar Fathom. He told me the reason we’re making Venus habitable. In Greg’s 1947, the Reticulans arrived. We call them The Greys.”
“I’m familiar with The Greys.”
Arthur continued, “Valorous. The story goes that one particular Reticulan fell in love with the richest woman in the world. They wanted to have children, but they didn’t want them to be outcasts in Human society. With their friend, Samuel Fathom, they developed a plan to terraform Venus, using Reticulan technology, so that they could populate it with their offspring.”
Joseph interjected, “Now you can see why I think the story is absurd.”
“How else could they have done it?! It explains the technology, how it was financed…”
Joseph said, “It stops with me. I won’t be telling this ridiculous story to my replacement.”
Arthur insisted, “Then why is it they never send us any females? Every generation it’s the same, ‘Happy midlife, now train your replacement’. Why don’t they let us have a family? Settle here, build a colony? I’ll tell you why, because they don’t want any Humans here mucking up the place after we’re finished! How else do you explain it?”
Joseph shrugged, “Slim resources.”
Arthur gave up.
After a time, I changed the subject, “So… if that door opens up again…”
Arthur nodded, “We’ve got a ladder we can attach to the vehicle.” (Actually, he called it the ‘Chariot’.)
I then entertained them with my own story, about the time my parents introduced me to The Interdimensional Coffeehouse, about rediscovering the entrance just a few hours ago, and finding my way there.
Joseph asked me to explain Trigintasex to him, so I did.
They gave me a salad, explaining that the ingredients were gathered from various domes strategically placed throughout the surface of Venus, each with a biome anticipating the sort of weather that the area could expect in about another 80 years (or 50 Earth-years). If all went according to plan, versions of them would then remove the domes and allow the biomes to spread out, covering the surface.
Eventually, they went to sleep, but I was wide awake. I wandered through the forest.
“The door has reopened!”
I awoke to see young Joseph’s face.
Arthur gave me a quick breakfast before we left, another salad. He tried to explain how the filter-crafts floating up above making all that noise were using Reticulan technology to separate the oxygen from the carbon dioxide, while using the carbon to repel the gravity of Venus, somehow generating nitrogen in the process. I took a few notes, but didn’t really understand.
After breakfast, Joseph handed me a suit that looked like tin foil but felt like silk, and a helmet that was like a thin goldfish-bowl. We all three put them on, and climbed into The Chariot.
We drove partway up the mountain, and they extended the ladder to the place where the doorway was shimmering.
I thanked them for their hospitality, wished them the best, and climbed up the ladder back into The Coffeehouse.
So, the title of the chapter. First, Ishtar. Ishtar is an ancient Akaadian, and later Babylonian, goddess of love, war, prostitution et cetera who, on one hand, is related to Easter, and on the other hand is fairly directly the reference being made in the Book of Revelation when it talks about the “derogatory-term-for-prostitute” of Babylon. Thank you, Sam Kinison. These days we call that region Iraq.
She is a recurring theme in the subtext of The New World Empire and, you could say, the character of Lucy is in some ways a representation of that unflattering portrayal of that same ancient goddess as seen through the lens of a kind of 19th century American interpretation of what she represents in the book of revelation, sort of the evils and decadence of modern, or indeed ancient Babylonian, civilization as contrasted with the sort of anti-materialist Jainist or Buddhist philosophy promulgated by Yeshua the son of Yusef. Legally speaking I mean, of course, obviously, since his biological dad was the Holy Spirit, so they say. We haven't gotten to Lucy yet, though, but for those who've already read the book you'll know who I'm talking about and, for everyone else, don't worry, we'll get there.
Anyway, in a more down-to-Earth sense, or in this case down-to-Venus, Ishtar Terra is the region on Venus where you'll find Maxwell Montes. Maxwell Montes, as we learn, is the mountain which Charles Reuben found himself sliding down at the end of Chapter One, "Trigintasex and Fathom's Numerals."
Coniferous means cone-bearing seed plants, referring to most pine trees. Dome, of course, refers to the dome which Charles Reuben wakes up inside of. So, it's a dome which contains pine trees in the region on Venus where you'll find Maxwell Montes. Pretty simple, really.
Now, as I mentioned in the previous episode of this series, this chapter contains within it the chapter called "The Multiverse Cartographer" from "The Small Grey Mouse and other short stories." That was my first attempt at writing Shakespearean dialogue. Like, ever. I got better. Thank you, John Cleese. So, my explanation as to why their particular brand of Elizabethan, or Shakespearean, English was so indecipherable, with even a bit of French thrown in there, was that the Fathoms had been on Venus raising clones of themselves for centuries. So, like Jodie Foster’s "Nell" and her twin sister, The Fathoms’ particular dialect sort of went its own direction, and it was particularly difficult to understand, as it was in the third episode of The Interdimensional Coffeehouse Podcast and that chapter of “The Small Grey Mouse and other Short Stories.” So, in this chapter of "The Multiverse Cartographer" I thought it would be a good idea for Charles Reuben to translate what he remembers of their conversation into regular modern English, so we can actually understand what they said, rather than straining to guess.
Their conversation sets up some important details for The New World Empire universe, so it would be good to know what they are. By the way, this chapter is taking place within The New World Empire universe, albeit a few hundred years before Blythe and Charles the Grey and all the main events which we’ll later follow in that universe.
When Charles Reuben wakes up and sees Arthur and Joseph Fathom, he notes that he chuckled thinking that from behind they looked a bit like Rick and Morty. There's a story behind this. You can find the story on page 269 of my poetry compilation “y Burrito.” Now, the original story of Charles Reuben meeting Arthur and Joseph I wrote in 2015, but I added that bit about him noting that resemblance to Rick and Morty when I was compiling the story in “The Multiverse Cartographer” in the end of 2021. When I first wrote it, I had neither seen nor heard of Rick and Morty.
Back in 2015, I was driving for Uber (Lyft occasionally, when the mood struck me). I picked up this guy.
“Oh really, what kind of Podcasts do you host?” he asked me.
"Well, there are several, there’s a personal one, an esoteric one, a yoga one, a sci-fi one..."
“Oooh I love sci-fi! What’s it about?”
"Basically, there’s this Interdimensional Coffeehouse-"
“Interdimensional! I love it! Have you seen Rick & Morty?”
"No, I haven’t."
“Sorry, I interrupted you, please continue.”
"So, the main character opens these portals to travel between different timelines-"
“That’s totally Rick & Morty!”
"Hmm. So anyway, in the most recent episode, he travels to Venus and meets this guy with wild grey hair like Beethoven wearing a white lab coat, and there’s this kid that at first appears to be his son but it turns out they’re both clones of the same man-"
“That’s! You’re describing Rick! That’s what he looks like, and everybody keeps saying Morty is a clone of Rick! That’s like, the number one theory!”
"Okay. Well, I have other Podcasts, the esoteric one for instance, comes from both a mystical and a sceptical perspective. See, my dad read tarot cards but my maternal grandpa was a scientist, he was always in his garage inventing something-"
“Oh my God, you’re fucking with me! You’re totally fucking with me! That’s all Rick & Morty! Everything you’re saying is a reference to Rick & Morty! and you say you haven’t seen it, you are the funniest Uber driver I’ve ever had. This is me, here on the right. Five stars buddy, that was hilarious! G’night!”
So that's the story of how I was introduced to Rick and Morty. I eventually started watching it, of course. Anyhow, in “The Multiverse Cartographer,” the book, version of this story, Charles Reuben is also familiar with Rick and Morty and so, of course, he notes the resemblance in their dress and appearance, though when I originally wrote the episode of the podcast in 2015, I hadn't seen it.
Most of this is pretty self-explanatory, Arthur and Joseph are the latest in a long line of clones of Samuel Fathom, all of whom have been focused on the task of terraforming Venus, or making Venus Earth-like and habitable. They are in the final stages, apparently, since it isn't hundreds of degrees, but the air isn't quite breathable yet, unless one is standing directly underneath the machines which are filtering the air.
Arthur assumes that Charles Reuben flew to Venus to climb Maxwell Montes, but young Joseph already knows that Charles Reuben came through a mysterious door which he'd noticed previously and had set up a camera and seen Charles Reuben come through.
Joseph makes reference to their lifespans being shortened by the radiation on Venus, which is confirmed in an upcoming chapter called, "Timelines."
Arthur, the older one, is fairly certain that they are terraforming Venus to be the future home of a race of cross-breeds between Grey-aliens and humans, specifically the children of the richest woman in the world hundreds of years ago, and the alien who landed in 1947. Those familiar with the Roswell conspiracy theories might already have an ear perked up, but for you others we'll hold off on that one until we read the next chapter.
Arthur refers to the Grey aliens as “Reticulans.” In 1969, in the real world not in the story, a woman named Betty Hill claimed to have been abducted by Greys. Under hypnosis, she said that while aboard the flying saucer she’d been shown a map of the home of the Greys. She drew what she remembered, and a schoolteacher named Marjorie Fish identified it as being a binary star system called Zeta Reticuli. However, since these days we have the technology to be able to assert with confidence that there are no planets orbiting the stars in this constellation, in The New World Empire, as will be explained in the next chapter, while the Greys are referred to by humans as Reticulans, that constellation only indicates the direction which they are from, which they “come in” from, but their true home is much further away in a galaxy unknown to us, or at least it was unknown in 1947. We’ll get into that a bit more in the next episode.
Joseph Fathom is not convinced that they are terraforming Venus to be a home for the children of the Roswell alien and this as yet unidentified wealthy woman from the mid-20th century. His rationality will not allow him to accept such an absurd-sounding idea, and he refuses to pass the story along to the next generation.
Charles learns that, in this universe, Henry the 8th's first son with the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon survived, and this seems to have drastically altered history. For one, their son later united all of Europe, as opposed to in our world where his daughter Queen Elizabeth I's navy sank the Spanish Armada making Britain the new Western super-power after Rome.
In our world, for those who weren’t paying attention that day in history, Henry the 8th grew frustrated with Catherine of Aragon's not having another son after their son Henry died, and wanted to divorce her. This resulted in Henry splitting the Church of England off from the Church based in Rome. Then, a generation later, when the British navy sank the Spanish navy, this in a way transferred the power of Empire to the Protestants, rather than the Catholics, then Spanish and Portuguese settled territories in the New World, the Americas, were in a way culturally incompatible, for a long time, with those established by the Protestant British.
In these two lines in this chapter are implied that no such split between British and Spanish cultures occurred, that, as intended, the alliance forged by the marriage of Henry and Catherine was a success, and their half-English half-Spanish son then "united all of Europe," which we can only assume was a bloody affair.
Then the next Henry commissioned Shakespeare to write the first English dictionary some 150 years before the first English dictionary in our universe was written, hence the English of the late 16th and early 17th centuries having stuck around a lot longer than it did in our universe.
All of this also sets the stage for what later became known as The New World Empire, with its Capitol in what we know as New York City.
Like I mentioned before, much of the story in only implied, and will unfold through contemplation and analysis. If one just reads it all the way through without stopping to reflect, then reaches the end and says, "And then what happens?" well... I won't judge. That's just not the best way to approach the story, will all due respect to Mrs. Brunke.
So, when Charles Reuben makes a note of all of this in his journal, Joseph asks to see his journal, and later asks Charles Reuben to explain Trigintasex to him. This is kind of the point alluded to in the opening of the first chapter, the causation loop which Charles Reuben was unaware that he was a part of. Joseph would pass these numerals along to his apprentice, and they would eventually become known on Venus as “Fathoms’ Numerals.” Charles the Grey, a future Venusian, would use them when creating The Interdimensional Coffeehouse where, after 16,000 years of its own internal time, it will have become known as “Trigintasex.” Then, Charles Reuben will learn it from Isaac, and travel back to this period in history to teach it to Joseph Fathom, and so the cycle continues. But where did the cycle begin? Who really invented the numerals known as both Trigintasex and Fathoms’ Numerals?
Well, I did, obviously. That's a bit meta, though. Just a bit. A tiny bit meta.
So, "The Multiverse Cartographer" story in "The Small Grey Mouse" begins with Arthur asking Charles Reuben “whither he jumps from on Earth,” and ends with the story about the Grey ambassador falling in love with the rich human woman, and wanting to terraform Venus and populate it with their children. This chapter, though, finishes the scene.
The Fathoms go to sleep, and Charles Reuben wanders the forest. Eventually he falls asleep, and young Joseph wakes him up telling him the door has reopened, since he is observing the location where the doorway appears on the mountain through a camera, as established earlier.
They give Charles Reuben the silver suit and gold-fish bowl helmet which he will be wearing for the remainder of his story, which goes on for a few more days after this point. Presumably, he is not wearing it ten or so years later when he meets with some of the other main characters in the courtyard before Palace Three of New Ancient Land. We'll get to all that later.
So, that about covers it. In the next episode, I’ll be reciting two chapters, as chapter three, called “Roswell, 1947” is a bit short. Chapter four, “Timelines” will give a birds-eye-view of the whole story, history, and future of The New World Empire universe, and will be a useful key to refer back to in later chapters. If one finds oneself confused, thinking, “Wait, did this happen before or after this other thing,” one can simply check the timeline and know exactly when each major event happened, and how things are connected.