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Earth 1 Billion Years CE

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Wade Hampton III

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Earth 1 Billion Years CE

PostSun Nov 05, 2017 2:44 am

The Earth is old and mostly desert. The increasing heat of the sun as
it proceeds through its own life cycle, and the ongoing loss of volatile
molecules from the upper atmosphere into space, has reduced the seas to
scattered, salty basins amid great sandy wastes. Only near the north and
south poles does vegetation flourish, and with it the corbicules, Earth’s
eleventh and last intelligent species. Their ancestors in our time are an
invasive species of freshwater clam. (Don’t laugh; a billion years ago
your ancestors were still trying to work out the details of multicellularity.)

The corbicules have the same practical limb structure as the rest of their
subphylum: six stumpy podicles for walking, two muscular dorsal tentacles
for gross manipulations and two slender buccal tentacles by the mouth for
fine manipulations. They spend most of their time in underground city-
complexes, venturing to the surface to harvest vegetation to feed the
metafungal gardens that provide them with nourishment. By some combination
of luck and a general tendency toward cephalization common to many
evolutionary lineages, Earth’s last intelligent species is also its
most intellectually gifted; hatchlings barely out of crèche get fun
little logic problems such as Fermat’s last theorem for their amusement,
and most adult corbicules are involved in some field of intellectual
endeavor. Being patient, long-lived, and not fond of collective stupidities,
they have gone very far.

Some 8,000 years back, a circle of radical young corbicule thinkers proposed
the project of working out all the physical laws of the cosmos, starting
from first principles. So unprecedented a suggestion sparked countless debates,
publications, ceremonial dances, and professional duels in which elderly
scholars killed themselves in order to cast opprobrium on their rivals.
Still, it was far too delectable an intellectual challenge to be left
unanswered, and the work has proceeded ever since. In the course of their
researches, without placing any great importance on the fact, the best minds
among the corbicules have proved conclusively that nuclear fusion, artificial
intelligence, and interstellar migration were never practical options in the
first place.

Being patient, long-lived, and not fond of collective stupidities, the
corbicules have long since accepted their eventual fate. In another 6 million
years, as the sun expands and the Earth’s surface temperature rises, the last
vegetation will perish and the corbicules will go extinct; in another 90 million
years, the last multicellular life forms will die out; in another 200 million
years, the last seas will boil, and Earth’s biosphere, at the end of its long,
long life, will nestle into the deepest crevices of its ancient world and drift
into a final sleep.

By John Michael Greer

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