Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Microstory 1608: Par Excellence

I was tempted to believe at first that this next world involved mass spiritual abilities. There appears to be no particular reason why half the population possesses the same special ability, and the other half does not. It’s quite clearly not genetic, as one twin will often have it, while the other does not. But not always. It seems to be, on the whole, random. One in every two people will, early in their childhood development, start to be accompanied by a guide. This guide, which this world calls their excelschian, appears in the form of a person, and can alter their shape to fit their human’s needs or preferences. Only the human attached to the excelschian can see it. It’s unclear if excelschians came to be due to some evolutionary necessity, but it seems rather unlikely, since like I said, it happens to only half the population. The other half is left to their own devices, which as we’ll discuss, may not be a bad thing. The excelschian can answer any question that their human has, as long as the answer falls within the realm of humanity’s current well of knowledge. They could not, for instance, explain the answer to life, the universe, everything, because no one knows what that is. For the excelschian to know it, enough other people need to know it so that it’s accepted as fact, if only until new evidence comes to light. It couldn’t tell you someone else’s password, and it couldn’t reveal some other well-protected secret. It could, however, reveal other secrets, if too many people are cognizant of it, which is what really makes this universe so much different than others. State and trade secrets, and other proprietary information, does not exist, because it would not be able to. It wouldn’t even occur to this version of the human race to try to hoard such hidden knowledge, because it would get out, and it would get out quickly. So their civilization was built from a place of honesty and openness, not because they were more virtuous than you or I, but because it wouldn’t work anyway.

The assumption here is that people who have excelschians are more intelligent than the people who don’t. After all, they can pass any test simply by posing the questions to their excelschians. The excelschian won’t answer you if you don’t ask it something, but the asking can come in many forms. You could rub your finger along the paper, underneath the text, so it knows what you want to know, or someone else can ask it, and you can use microexpressions to defer it to your excelschian. This is all well and good, except that the excelschianed never really learn anything for themselves, because they never need to. Regular people have to work hard, and study new data, and memorize concepts, and fully grasp practical information. They’re generally more independent, stronger-willed, and far more likely to make the informational breakthroughs that people with excelschians will come to take for granted. They’re the ones moving humanity forward, and advancing science and technology. They’re changing the way people live, and ultimately making the world a better place. Sadly, this was not enough. With only half the people actually working for progress, this version of Earth was not able to develop sustainable strategies early enough to satisfy the antinatalist eco-terrorist Ochivari. In the early days of The Darning Wars—if there even is such a thing—the Ochivari came to this Earth, and destroyed it. And since this universe did not allow time travel, the attack could not be undone. They never stood a chance.

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