David Madore's WebLog: Gratuitous Literary Fragment #157 (The Empire harks back)

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Gratuitous Literary Fragment #157 (The Empire harks back)

Chilon shook his head. There he goes again with this Emperor business. Do you really have to believe in such fairy tales?

Chatter on the subject was something of a ritual. But because of Miranda's presence, today's recurrence took a slightly different turn.

You see, Chilon explained, Halcyon fantasizes about a mythical being who supposedly rules over the entire Universe.

Oh, he isn't mythical at all! Halcyon protested. He's a man just like you and I. Only he lives in a distant galaxy.

You think there are human beings on other planets? Miranda asked. What do you make of the Earth myth, then? Is it related?

I don't know about the Earth story, but I'm sure we came from another planet. We can't possibly have originated on this one. And if humans arrived here, they must have settled on other places…

Maybe. Chilon sounded doubtful. But if so, we've lost the ability to travel across space. We're stranded. And the only ruler whose word matters here is the Aedile, not some hypothetical overlord of all the galaxies.

Our Aedile is only one of many, and he answers to a greater ruler, and himself to another, and so on, each more powerful than the last, until we reach the Prime Prefect, and above him the Minister of the Provinces who reports directly to His Majesty the Emperor.

There goes his mythology, said Chilon, addressing Miranda. It's quite elaborate, really. Very inventive. He even has a name for each one of the intermediate ranks of rulership, there are something like twenty of them: procurators and viceroys and governors and I forget what else. Be thankful he didn't get into that! What he can't tell you is where he got the specifics. Even if I were to believe in a grand human civilization spanning the entire Universe, why couldn't it be a Republic?

Miranda ignored Chilon's comments. If these rulers exist, she asked, how come we never get to hear from them? Or even about them?

I don't know. But I think the Aedile is deliberately keeping us in the dark. Surely he's depriving us of our rights as subjects of the Empire!

And the proof? Chilon demanded. You have exactly none.

There's the Great Seal, for one. This was Halcyon's master argument.

The Seal doesn't prove anything. Even if it's authentic, we're not even sure what the words mean. Besides, that thing is ancient.

Here's a thought, said Miranda. What if your theory was right, but a long time ago? Maybe the Empire once stood, but then died out?

Halcyon looked distinctly unhappy at the suggestion. The Empire can't die out, he protested. That's impossible.

Or maybe they've forgotten all about us, we're the most obscure backwater of the Universe, and our planet's very existence is lost from the archives.

Halcyon looked even more distressed now. Well, if that's so, then I'll find a way to make contact again, and we can leave this pile of dirt.

Halcyon's theories, of course, were wrong in almost every respect; but the most important way in which he erred was in failing to understand how the pile of dirt they were standing on was, in a very real sense, the capital of the Universe.

[I already wrote about my fascination with Asimov and galactic empires, so I am, obviously, making fun of myself here. That being said, I think I would be curious to read the rest of a novel of which this were a part!]

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