Bearing Light

Here's a science-fiction novella I wrote more than 35 years ago, when I was a young punk in the math department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In it I made no concession to the reader, and the USSR has since gone out of business. So a word of introduction is in order.

Spoiler Alert! If you prefer, you may skip ahead.

The year is 2070. It is forty-five years after World War III, when the Soviet Union rolled over Western Europe in a blitzkrieg, nuked China, and gained dominion over most of the world. So traumatized were the few surviving democratic nations, that their view of reality was shattered. In the months and years after the war, strange new "ways of knowing" emerged.

The United States, surrounded and demoralized, turned within, to the realm of the mind. In Provo, Utah, a government project experimented with these new "ways of knowing," using drastic methods of psychological reconditioning. Test subjects were taught how to interface with a mental image called "the Pattern," and unleash on the outer world forces drawn from archetypal depths within.

Though as one character asks another, "How much of your psyche did they have to gut and overhaul, to make you what you are?"

One spin-off of "the Program" was the discovery of a way to traverse outer space by plumbing the depths of inner space. "It was not Robert Goddard who had proved to be the father of American star travel, but Carl Jung." Teams were dispatched to other star systems, to spread among alien races the nihilistic turn of soul which had become au courant in the West.

One team member is the narrator, Fritz, a Swiss physicist who joined the Program after World War III, when the bottom dropped out of the field of physics. Along with other charter members of the Program-- such as the biochemist Reinfeld, and the anthropologist Marilyn-- Fritz has long since realized that he has entered into a Faustean bargain.

Fritz has gained preternatural powers. Forty years later, he has aged only ten years. But he has sold his soul. He has become a professional "serpent in Eden." Like Lucifer himself, Fritz is now "bearing light."

Warning! Warning! Warning! The story which follows is not for kids, nor for those with a weak stomach. It features intense situations, strong language, and a method of interstellar travel which cannot be described in polite company. If you are not fazed, you may proceed. Otherwise turn back now.

Hey, written 1980-81. Was I prescient about the self-loathing self-hating course of the postmodern West, or what?

Oh, yeah, I oughta mention. The phaens and their third-sex pronouns are borrowed from David Lindsay's intriguing science-fantasy novel, A Voyage to Arcturus...