Mikhail Shavshin

Translator’s Introduction

This article, originally written in Russian by Mikhail Shavshin, appeared in a SF magazine called F-Dimension (“Ф-Измерение”), which was briefly published in Russia in early 1990s.  An English translation by Nikolai Chuvakhin was eventually published on the official ABS Web site.  This is a recently revised version of that translation.

The Chronicles of the 22nd Century 

The 22nd century was an age of major projects and great discoveries.  Like a turbulent stream, it began its way into the river of time, ending with a waterfall of equally shocking events that marked the beginning of the horizontal mankind separation.

This text is an attempt to put into perspective the events, projects, accomplishments, and sometimes even purely personal reminiscences most characteristic of the 22nd century based on the chronicles, stories, and memoirs available in the archives of the Great Worldwide Informatorium (GWI).

The beginning of the 22nd century was darkened by “the Massachusetts Nightmare”.  Back then, a team of brave researchers has designed, constructed, and put into operation the most complex cybernetic device ever built.  The machine has worked for only four minutes, which was enough for its creators to realize that they were witnessing the birth of the new, non-human civilization of the Earth with prospects completely unpredictable.  The machine has immediately been shut off, cemented, booby-trapped, and surrounded with a barbed wire fence.  These events were later described by Isaac Bromberg, a historian of science, in his book, How It Really Happened.

Fifteen years later, namely in the year 17, the attention of the Planet was captured by another event, both strange and outstanding, the return of the Taimyr spacecraft which departed from Pluto-2 launch site in early 21st century for a long-range exploration mission and was thought to be lost.  As it turned out, the crew of the spacecraft (of which only Sergei Kondratiev, the navigator, and Evgeni Slavin, the physician, made it back to the Earth) has, for the first time in the Planet’s history, completed a sigma-deritrinitation without even knowing it.  Due to the legenic accelerations, a significant distortion of time scale occurred which pushed the return of the spacecraft a hundred years into the future.  Also, the crew of Taimyr was the first to ever land at a planet of another solar system, the Blue Sands Planet.  The spacecraft itself is now kept at the Cosmogation Museum, available for public viewing.

In the same year 17, the World Council approved the project of Venus atmosphere distillation offered by a group of scientists, and thousands of volunteers rushed to implement it.  The rush captured the attention of a younger generation as well; the chronicles mention four young inhabitants of Room 18 at An’yudino School, namely Gennady “Captain” Komov, Mikhail “Athos” Sidorov, Alexander “Paul” Kostylin, and Paul “Lieber Polly” Gnedykh (all of them have later become famous).  These danger-defying young gentlemen have prepared and almost completed a plan of escaping to Venus, which failed due to the efforts undertaken by teacher Tenin. 

In 21, a Ranger named August Bader discovered a satellite of two kilometers in diameter near planet Vladislava in the EN 17 system.  The satellite was identical to those of Mars (Phobos and Deimos), constructed by the super-civilization of Wanderers and long since abandoned.  The Vladislava satellite was also very old and abandoned a long time ago.  In addition to this important discovery, other equally important events occurred.  The Great Well reached the center of the Earth, the Blind Spot near the EN 17 star was stormed, and the activity of the Progressors commenced.  At a newly discovered planet, an early feudalistic civilization has been found, so the researchers from the Institute for Experimental History decided to test their theories of feudal society development.  The researchers infiltrated the Arkanar Kingdom, the Princedoms of Irukan and Uban, the Republic of Soan, the Metropolis of Estor, and a number of other nations on the planet.  There have been, however, some unpredictable accidents.  For example, Rumata of Estor a.k.a. Anton Malyshev, a researcher of the Institute for Experimental History, has left an eternal trace in the legends of that world.

In the 30s, the Martian flying leeches formerly considered extinct have become active again, and the residents of Mars had to organize a hunting effort to destroy the entire population of the leeches.  Some preserved specimens are available for viewing at the Cosmozoology Museum.

In 31, an attempt to explore planet Vladislava has been undertaken by Rangers Leonid Gorbovsky and Mark Walkenstein.  During a probing flight into the planet’s atmosphere, a young biologist named Mikhail Sidorov has completed a risky landing which almost killed the entire crew.  Even the fact that a primitive life has been discovered as a result of the maneuver never justified Sidorov before Gorbovsky, who since then has never gone on a search mission with Sidorov.

Later on, a most curious thing happened to Gorbovsky.  During the flight to the EN 2657 star on Tariel, his six-kilometer-long D-starship, he and his crew were marked by an unknown will using an unknown technology and for a long time were emitting a strong radio noise.

During the 30s, another event happened which greatly influenced the subsequent history of the human race.  Planet Leonida was discovered near the white EN 23 star.  A group of Pathfinders led by Gennadi Komov and including Boris Fokin, Pathfinder and archaeologist, and Dr. Mboga, an animal psychologist, discovered a civilization living in perfect harmony with its environment.  The discovery has inspired the creation of the FSG (Free Search Group) which was joined, among others, by Alexander and Marie Semyonov, the future parents of the “space Mowgli” later found on planet Ark.

At the same time, planet Garrota was discovered.  Its inhabitants, non-humanoid slugs, turned out to be intelligent.  The humans were completely unable to establish a contact with them as the slugs considered the humans to be figments of their own imaginations.

Also in the 30s, attempts have been made to search for the Mutually Penetrating Spaces using the efforts of Earth’s Readers.

The mid-30s were marked by two large-scale projects.  One was the dive into the EN 2000025 Black Hole completed by the Yormala group using the unique Darkness starship.  The other was the completion of the Operation Mirror, global top-secret exercise featuring the defense against an aggression from the outside (presumably, the Wanderers’ invasion).  Managing the operation was Rudolf Sikorski, who by that time became the head of COMCON-2.

In 37, a group of Pathfinders led by Boris Fokin landed on a nameless planet of the EN 9137 star to explore the remains of structures supposedly constructed by the Wanderers.  On December 23, an artifact later dubbed “the sarcophagus” was found in an underground hall made of amberine, a construction material highly typical for the Wanderers.  The artifact later on turned out to be an embryonic safe box containing thirteen frozen fertilized eggs of Homo Sapience.  The eggs made their first division, and the World Council, forced into the scenario devised by the Wanderers, made the decision to adopt into the family of mankind thirteen newly born citizens of the Earth who were to come into the world by will and skill of an alien civilization.  Soon thereafter, in a meeting of the commission formed to oversee this special case, the Sikorski Memorandum was introduced.

Soon after that, the natives of planet Tagora, until then maintaining a great relationship with the civilization of the Earth, broke all contacts with the humans.  The reason, it appeared, was the very reaction of the humans to the fact of finding “the stepchildren”.  The Tagorans have found something similar about 150 years ago and immediately destroyed the discovery.

The late 30s were marked by another three important events, namely development of mechanic embryos by “Athos”-Sidorov, the birth of the infamous Maxim Kammerer, and the discovery of planet Ruzhena, an almost exact copy of Earth, but completely void of intelligent life.  In the mid-40s, the case of The Ugly was quickly resolved and then sealed in the archives of COMCON-2.  The essence of the case is as follows.  Some time ago Jonathan Pereira, a famous biologist, decided to shut down his research in theoretical eugenics and advised the World Council to close up this area of research.  However, due to an information leak, five talented but careless researchers from the Schweitzer Laboratory in Bamako commenced and almost completed their experiment aimed at the creation of a new version of the Homo Super.

In 48, the agents of COMCON-2 found out that certain signs began to appear inside the Stepchildren’s right elbows, each Stepchild bearing a unique sign.  About a year later, thirteen “life support elements 15/65A” (which later became known as “the detonators”) were discovered inside “the sarcophagus”.  The “detonators” were round items bearing signs identical to those born by the Stepchildren.  After an experiment involving destruction of the element 12, Edna Lasco (file 12, sign “M Gothic”) died in an accident in the Northern Andes.  Since then, any work with “the detonators” was forbidden.  During this time, the Sikorski Syndrome, an uncontrolled panic fear of the Wanderers’ incursion, was born to lead to a tragic outcome some thirty years later.  In the early 50s, “the Case of the Baker’s Dozen” took place.  Thirteen fanatics of science voluntarily implanted computer devices into their brains to get rid of the human weaknesses.  The experiment turned out to be a disaster; twelve human machines destroyed themselves and the last one named Camill continued to operate without communicating to the outside world.

Approximately at the same time, Paul Gnedykh (a Hunter whose name was mentioned in the chronicles of the 10s) hunting at the Crux system (EN 92 star) shot a “three-fingered four-hander” which turned out to be an intelligent alien.  Crushed by his sense of guilt, Gnedykh could not forgive himself for the rest of his life.

In 57, Maxim Kammerer, a twenty-year-old FSG volunteer, accidentally “discovered” planet Saraksh, which by that time was under COMCON’s custody for about five years.  After six months of adventures in the spirit of the twentieth century action movies, Kammerer, by that time also known as Mak Sim, had been caught by Rudolf Sikorski, then COMCON’s station chief on Saraksh.  As a result, Kammerer became involved in the Progressors’ activities and succeeded at that.  He devised Operation Virus, for which the Super President personally awarded him a nickname, The Big Bug.  Also, Kammerer was the first (and the last) man of Earth who had been to the capital of the Island Empire.  He remained COMCON’s chief of station at Saraksh until the mid-60s.

The early 60s were marked by the ill-fated Operation Ark headed by M. Sidorov.  The goal of the project was to move the population from planet Panta whose star was about to turn into a supernova.  However, planet Ark initially chosen for that purpose turned out to be inhabited by a non- humanoid civilization unwilling to communicate to the outside world.  Also found on the planet was the space Mowgli, the Little One, Pierre Semenov, the son of Alexander and Marie Semenov mentioned above whose starship crashed there in the 30s.  Found near the planet was the Wanderers’ armed satellite, which shot down the Semenovs’ starship, the Pilgrim.  There has never been a contact established with the civilization of the planet.

At approximately the same time, a nightmarish event occurred at Rainbow, an earth-type planet given to null-physicists for experiments.  During one of null-transportations, two deadly Waves formed at the planet’s poles and began to converge towards the equator, killing every living thing on the way.  Only luck saved the human community of Rainbow; close to the equator, the Waves had offset each other.  Thanks to Leonid Gorbovsky being present at Rainbow at the time of the crisis, the World Council has forbidden conducting similar experiments anywhere but in the open space.  However, this experiment led to the development of null-T, which remains widely used to this day.

In 63, the relationship with Tagora was restored.  A little earlier, in 60, Lev Abalkin, a Stepchild (file 7, sign “Stylized Asterisk”), who became a talented animal psychologist, began his work with the Bigheads, intelligent non-humanoids earlier discovered by Maxim Kammerer on planet Saraksh.  Lev Abalkin carried out several assignments to establish a contact with the Bigheads; Operation Man and Bigheads on Saraksh in 60-62, Operation Bigheads in Space on planet Pandora in 62-63, and finally, together with the Bighead named Schekn, Operation Dead World on planet Hope.

This planet deserves special attention.  There, people of Earth have found evidence of the most recent intervention of the Wanderers in the affairs of other civilizations.  Through reckless disregard of its government and scientists, the planet had experienced a genetic catastrophe.  The whole population of the planet suffered accelerated metabolism and related fast aging.  It appeared that the Wanderers led the population to other worlds through the hyperspace tunnels.  Only a small percentage of population voluntarily stayed at the planet.  This was the target contact group for the expedition headed by G. Komov and joined by Abalkin and Schekn.

After the operation, Abalkin, at the request of COMCON-2, was relieved from work with the Bigheads and involved (against his preference) in the Progressors’ operation on Saraksh, which led to his mental breakdown in 78.

By the mid-60s, the work with the Stepchildren carried out by the psychologists became more intensive.  In 62, the mystery of his origin was disclosed to Korney Yashmaa (file 11, sign “Elbrus”).  He became a voluntary ally to COMCON-2.  The same experiment conducted in 65 with Thomas Nielsson (file 2, sign “Slanted Star”) led to horrible consequences.  Nielsson died on planet Gorgona under the circumstances that do not allow ruling out the suicide.  In 67, Toivo Glumov was born, ignorant of his cosmic future.  And finally, by the end of the 60s, the Bigheads left the Earth.

The beginning of the 70s was full of light and promise.  This is when a new type of starship, Ghost, was designed based on the biotechnology, the branch of science that gained momentum after studying the civilization of Leonida (see the chronicles of the 30s).  The space expansion of the mankind reached the scale never seen before.  During a short period of time, Yaila, Redoubt, Nistagma, and Cassandra were discovered.

In the mid-70s, Paul Gnedykh, still feeling guilty of murder, wrote The Book of Wanders.  At the same time, Korney Yashmaa, a Stepchild, became the chief of Progressors on planet Giganda.

At the same time, the Bigheads, as incomprehensible to the human race as seventeen years ago, founded its permanent mission in Canada.  Finally, in 78, there had been a chain of events that became known as Operation Beetle in an Anthill.  Rudolf Sikorski, the maitre of COMCON-2 and a long-time sufferer of Sikorski Syndrome, murdered Lev Abalkin.  Due to Sikorski’s criminal act, Abalkin died before he understood why he came to the Extraterrestrial Cultures Museum.

The 80s were quiet except for three outstanding events.

In the early 80s, two young tourists named Vadim and Anton accompanied by “an office historian” Saul Repnin landed on a planet located in the system of EN 7031 yellow dwarf.  The planet, duly named Saula, turned out to be inhabited, with a civilization in an early stage of development.  The planet turned out to be located in the hypothetical Path of the Wanderers, in complete accordance with the Gorbovsky/Bader list.  In addition, a hyperspatial transportation channel built by the Wanderers was discovered on the planet.  A huge amount of machinery was transported through the channel, both origin and destination unknown.  Information about the planet was immediately communicated to COMCON.  However, this is not the strangest thing in this story.  The strangest part is the very personality of Saul Repnin.  Judging by circumstantial evidence, he was born in the twentieth century, which he escaped and to which he returned later.  Competent experts believe that, living in the twentieth century, he was one of the Metahomi.  It is quite possible that he was the very first Metahomo.

The second event was a breakthrough beyond the Blind Spot by a fleet of Ghosts, an outstanding victory of the human race.

The third without a doubt is the unexpected cancellation of the bio-blockade (fukamization) approved by the World Council on February 2, 85 as an amendment to the Bio-blockade Act in response to a mass protesting campaign.  As it turned out later, the Earth owes this to the Metahomi who by that time were actively building their “mankind within the mankind”.

Then the fateful 90s began.  These were the years of mankind’s separation, years of thrust into the unknown, years of gradual conversion of the planetary man into the man of space, the Wanderer.  This decade remained in the history as the years of the Great Revelation.

In the early 90s, Camill, the last of the Baker’s Dozen, had seemingly seen the connection between finding “the sarcophagus” in the 30s, the outcome of the Stepchildren Case, and the inevitable conversion of humans into the Metahomi, and then destroyed himself.  The end of the century confirmed his expectations.

In May 93, there was a case of temporary lapse of reason of three members of a research party stationed on planet Tissa near the EN 63061 star.  Two of them left for the desert, but the chief of party was able to continue the operation; soon, someone dressed in white appeared to him and said that he is accepted as a candidate to the Wanderers’ community.  As a result of this event, Maxim Kammerer, then head of the Emergency Department at COMCON-2, after securing an approval by Mikhail Sidorov, the President of the Urals/North Sector, opened a case devoted to studying possibilities of the Wanderers acting as the Progressors on Earth (see GWI, archives of COMCON-2, case code Old Lady’s Visit).  In December 94, a new employee, 27-year-old Toivo Glumov, joined Kammerer’s department after working as a Progressor for three years.

Six months before that, Maxim Kammerer called on Isaac Bromberg, a famous historian of science, to create a model of the Wanderers’ possible Progressor activity on Earth.  This is how the famous Bromberg Memorandum was written (I. Bromberg, The Monocosmos: the Top or the First Step? Notes on Evolution of the Evolution).  The Memorandum defined the principles according to which the mankind will be separated into the Metahomi and common humans.  On June 11, 94, Isaac Bromberg died at the age of 150.  No documents related to the Monocosmos model development were found in his archives.

Since early 95 until early 99, Maxim Kammerer assisted by Toivo Glumov has done a significant amount of research under the Old Lady’s Visit.  The information they were able to obtain linked together fairly well: early 30s, the emergence of the Stepchildren; late 40s, the detonators found; late 70s, the tragedy of Sikorski and Abalkin; mid-80s, unexplainable disappearances of people and the advent of strange phobias such as “the Penguin syndrome” or fukamiphobia; and finally, the 90s, the accident at Tissa and the formation of the Oddball Institute.  The mankind quickly approached the yet invisible boundary.

In March 99, the notorious Wizard from Saraksh visited the Earth and the Oddball Institute.  After visiting the Institute, he left the Earth in panic.  Immediately after that, the events in Little Pesha took place.  Kammerer quickly understood that the participants of those events, in strict accordance with the Bromberg Memorandum, were separated by someone into groups based on their reactions.  A little later, he logically arrived at a complete list of all Metahomi initiated between 96 and 99.  Then, the Metahomi decided that it was time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.  In mid-99, there has been a meeting between Daniel Logovenko, “the Metahomi obstetrician”, and two members of the World Council, Gennadi Komov and Leonid Gorbovsky.  At the meeting, the Metahomi disclosed their origin.  Logovenko explained that a Metahomo is a transformed human.  Komov demanded that the Metahomi leave Earth immediately.

Right after that, Kammerer told Glumov that the latter was a carrier of the “third impulse system” required to transform a human into a Metahomo.  In other words, Glumov turned out to be a potential Metahomo.  After a long consideration, Glumov agreed to be initiated.  So ended the life of Toivo Glumov the human and began that of Toivo Glumov the Metahomo.

Every human being lived through the Great Revelation in his or her own way.  But everyone realized that the era of stationary horizontal development is over.  The Modern History began, the era of vertical progress. 

Such was the end of this brilliant century, the last century of the mankind’s horizontal development.

— Recorded by M. Shavshin,
one of the remaining
horizontal losers