October 04, 2010
I am completely out of it today. Two naps, more caffeine than usual, and I feel like I weigh about half a ton. I can't write.
But there is an idea that occurred to me the other day about Phil Foglio's "Buck Godot" stories that won't leave me alone. So here goes:
Early in the canon (maybe the story about the teleporter?) we learn about the law machines. They're sapient robots who, one day, appeared on all human worlds simultaneously and implemented The Law. Nobody knows where they came from, or why the human race was the only species they picked on in this way.
There were 21 (IIRC) elements to the Law, and each would come into force when a certain (unspecified) proportion of the population voted for it. But you could only vote "yes" and you could only vote once. When the required number of yes-votes had accumulated, that law went into effect and henceforth was enforced by the law machines.
The deal about New Hong Kong was that when the law machines arrived there, someone hacked the voting process and change it so that it read, "There is no law on New Hong Kong." It immediately accumulated an overwhelming number of yes votes, and though the law machines found the hacker and did something with him, they didn't change it. That's why New Hong Kong has such a wild-west feel to it. It's the only world in Humanspace where The Law doesn't apply.
Now... in Gallimaufrey we learn that for the last several hundred years, the human race has been the custodian of the Winslow, as part of a deal with the Prime Mover. In exchange, the Prime Mover guaranteed that the human race would not go extinct.
What occurred to me was that the Law Machines were the way that the Prime Mover fulfilled his side of the bargain. He's the one who created them and sent them to humanity, and their implementation of The Law had the effect of suppressing the most pernicious tendencies of the human race, which otherwise might have led to self-destruction. If I've got the chronology right, it seems that they showed up just about the time that humanity took over as guardians of the Winslow.
And the reason the Law Machines didn't override what happened on New Hong Kong was that their mission only required that enough humans survive to represent a viable breeding stock. If New Hong Kong did eventually self-destruct, it was OK as long as other human worlds continued to exist.
Not too impressive an idea, is it? But when ideas like this seize me, the only way I can get them out of my head is to write them down. And I don't have the energy to write anything else today.
I wonder if the author could be convinced to comment on this?
Posted by: Siergen at October 04, 2010 05:19 PM (Xh3Fu)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 04, 2010 05:35 PM (+rSRq)
It's not enough. Law-bots may have done a good job of keeping people from killing each other, but they were clearly inadequate against an external threat, such as attack by another species... or, say, against a rogue bio-weapon.
That said, it's definitely got the right flavor to it. Prime Mover comes up with an elegant solution, implements it, quits worrying about the details. And yet with holes in it... well, we know that the Prime Mover is not nearly as omniscient as he's cracked up to be.
Posted by: Avatar_exADV at October 04, 2010 06:18 PM (pWQz4)
Posted by: Boviate at October 04, 2010 06:25 PM (PJNgE)
It isn't the whole solution, of course. But it was a good way to cope with the main threat facing humanity.
I just sent an email to Foglio. If I get a response, I'll let you know.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 04, 2010 06:31 PM (+rSRq)
This is what I sent:
I have no idea whether this is a unique idea or very widespread, or even whether it's canon. But I thought I'd share it with you, just in case you might find it amusing.
The Law Machines came out of no where and imposed the Law on all human worlds. No one knows who sent them, or what their ultimate mission is.
If I understand the chronology, they showed up about the time humanity became guardians of the Winslow.
I think it was the Prime Mover who sent them. And I think that the Law Machines are the primary means by which the Prime Mover prevented the human race from becoming extinct, because The Law suppressed the worse instincts and inclinations of the human race, which would otherwise have led to self-destruction.
And the reason why the Law Machines permitted the Law to be avoided on New Hong Kong was that their mission didn't require saving every single human world. All they needed was to protect an adequate breeding stock.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 04, 2010 06:57 PM (+rSRq)
The other Check, IIRC, was Lord Thezmothete himself, decreeing a version of the Prime Directive would be obeyed, as far as trade was concerned, to prevent over-exploitation of younger races.
Posted by: Douglas Oosting at October 04, 2010 10:36 PM (N9Lwt)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 05, 2010 01:45 AM (PiXy!)
Posted by: Mark A. Flacy at October 05, 2010 07:57 AM (Lbkvv)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 05, 2010 08:19 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Wonderduck at October 05, 2010 05:40 PM (blg68)
To a normal human, we'd probably rank as rather scary.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 05, 2010 06:53 PM (PiXy!)
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
[spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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