Syoom and Fyaym

 

Continued from The Hydrogen Era

Tisswa Ardea decided to keep the discovery of the mascon a secret from most of humanity, for the time being.  She, and those few in whom she confided, feared that if the news were released straightaway, it might cause war between the several urban tyrannies existing at that time, who would probably start manoeuvring against each other as they vied for the new resource, and moreover, as they each used the opportunity to try to enforce internal unity on their contados, civil wars would break out as well, and the internal and external strife would exacerbate each other..... 

The Dmaran, the Liquid Man who had helped her find the mascon, offered no comment on her policy of secrecy.  In fact, from now on he fades out of the story.  He may have been the last of his kind; their numbers were dwindling rapidly by this time, leaving the true humans - the Nenns - to tackle their problems on their own. 

Tisswa Ardea and her friends belonged to an international secret society called the Unity Club.  This organization aimed to solve the main problem of the age - and as we shall see, it succeeded.

 Ooranye has never been, and probably never will be, "conquered" by Man in the sense that Earth has been.  As has been noted, the strangeness of the giant planet was posing a threat to human identity, a threat which called forth harmful and severe reactions from some human governments.  What was needed was a philosophy, an attitude or mental tool which would enable mankind to cope with the strangeness of Ooranye, to adapt to it without either conquering (which was impossible) or yielding (which was unacceptable). 

Terrestrial readers may need to be reminded that this wasn't simply a matter of needing to find some "sustainable" or "ecologically sound" way of life.  Ooranye isn't Earth: on Ooranye the pull of the environment is so much greater, that there's no question of mankind over-exploiting or polluting it; rather, the influence works the other way.  In the Hydrogen Era, pioneering Man was like a shape dissolving at the edges, in danger of losing all definition and becoming something else.

The brilliance of the Unity Club's insight was in realizing that the key to the problem was the human  urge to understand .  The Club succeeded in devising a way to live in the world without trying to understand it. 

The way to avoid that trap was to chart perils statistically, solely by their effects, and not to worry about causes any more.  This revelation marked the birth of the unique craft of Uranian cartography.  Maps were henceforth to be given peril-contours, derived from the frequency of survival among wayfarers travelling in the areas covered by the maps.  

The key contour, "sfy-50", would be the boundary separating the lands where, never mind the reason, one had an over-50% chance of surviving a lone 1000-mile journey, from the lands where one's chances were under 50%.  The former, relatively civilized lands would be called Syoom; the latter, most dangerous lands Fyaym.

The Unity Club had worked all this out, but had not yet publicized the idea.  It had been seeking a way of sparking off a revolution in thought and practice, to inaugurate Syoom "with a bang".  Now, at last, with Tisswa Ardea's discovery, the Club had the key.  A date was provisionally fixed.  Secretly the world went out to armed supporters to gather at Contahl, for Contahl was a free city, friendly to the new idea, and with a vested interest in the success of the enterprise, since it was the nearest of all the cities to the mascon - which was beginning to be called Idun-Sjalsk, or more familiarly Jad-Zolm, shortened to Dzolm, "the Sun-Egg".

Further secret military preparations were made, Contahl's defences were strengthened and when it was judged that the moment was right to break the news to mankind, both of the existence of the Sun-Egg and of the concepts Syoom and Fyaym, the code-word went out by semaphore: "Unfurl!"

That utterance marked the end of the Hydrogen Era.

Sail-waggons bearing the news began trundling along several routes out from Contahl and from a few other prepared locations.  As they got underway, they were outpaced by the release of tension which quivered through the atmosphere, borne by the micro-organisms which sensed it and transmitted it in the form of a shock to the rhythm of day and night.  The Helium Era had begun.

Unlike the Hydrogen Era, which had lasted 19,636,085 days, the Helium Era lasted 18 days, 18 hours and 36 minutes.  It was occupied by the spread of the concepts "Syoom" and "Fyaym", and by all that that implied in terms of the re-orientation of the human mind.  Just as the Unity Club had planned, the great hope held out by the discovery of Dzolm became fused in the popular mind with the advent of the new cartographical ideas, and all of a sudden a great weight was lifted off the mind of Uranian Man.

>> The Lithium Era

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