Friday, July 10, 2020

Weird Revisited: Ways & Sigils

The original version of this post appeared in 2015...

When humanity discovered there was a way to cheat relativity, we found, to our surprise, that it was a lot like magic. The paths that shortcut distance and connected many universes were built by ancients no species remembered--though everyone had stories. A popular one was that the precursor culture came from outside the ordered universes, from a manifold or bulk whose physical laws would have been more familiar to Jung or Frazer than Einstein or Hawking. We called it "hyperspace." It sounded more scientific than "the astral plane."

Computers, even the most advanced AI, were mostly confused by the Ways. They could tell you a lot about the apertures, but they couldn't decipher the symbols that needed to be inscribed on the hulls of craft in order to make the apertures open or to arrive safely at a desired destination. And so the casters arose; they were people with the mental aptitude to understand the ways and create the symbols needed to traverse them successfully. With a good caster, a vessel can get almost anywhere.

Sometimes, though, ships wind up someplace other than their intended destination or just disappear entirely. At times the casting is probably to blame; encoding multidimensional state vectors into a compressed, symbolic representation has always been more intuition than science, and the internal state of the caster has always been a variable. Sometimes there's just a glitch--an act of God, you might say. Who knows what might distract the hypersophont entities or idiot gods in the machinery of the multiverse that "read" the sigils and guide ships to their destinations?

So the lucky and lost just wind up making an extra stop or two before their final destination. The unlucky truly lost disappear entirely. But there are a few, the stories say, that turn after a long absence with strange stories. There's a city at the center of the multiverse, these haunted-eyed travelers will tell you. A city where castaway alien vessels from infinite universes wind up. A city so vast, so old, so integral, that it doesn't have a name, just a single location sigil-- the Sigil. That's what they call it.

1 comment:

bombasticus said...

Reading "Sigil" as a sigil is the heropath we needed!