Post Format

Stockholm, Sweden

Which reminds me of the Roger Otip story “Executioners from the future”. Roger Otip is Ireland’s greatest science fiction author. He’s often called the father of Science O’Fiction. In “Executioners from the future” a group of survivors of an environmental holocaust travel back in time in order to put on trial a selection of those they deem responsible for their fate, and for the deaths of over five billion people plus the extinction of countless species of animals and plants. Rather than going for the leaders of nations or corporations they target a random selection of ordinary citizens, wanting to make the point that responsibility cannot be solely placed with a few rogue individuals.

The small grey-skinned prosecutors arrest a group of people and take them back to the future to stand trial. They are accused of genocide. The penalty, if found guilty, is death. Those abducted from the 20th Century are able to successfully plead ignorance but for those abducted during the final pre-holocaust century this defense doesn’t wash. The prosecution calls it willful ignorance. The information was there, they say. If you didn’t know what effect your extravagant carbon burning was having then you should have known. Willful ignorance is no defence.

Most defendants from the 20th Century are found not guilty and are returned to their time, on the whole with no memory of the trial, though some do retain memories of the abduction and a few report these to the media but aren’t taken seriously. As for those from the 21st Century, a few from less developed nations were found not guilty. Their carbon burning was not particularly excessive and their access to the media not as great as those from developed nations, who were found guilty by a unanimous verdict of the jury, which consisted of the entire adult population: 1,365,012 citizens.

One of the most damning pieces of evidence given by the prosecution was a calculation of how many deaths each was responsible for, based on the amount of carbon their were responsible for burning in the year prior to their arrest. But we came from cold countries, one of them pleaded. We thought global warming would just mean the climate would get a bit warmer and that would be it. It was never put to us the way you’ve just put it.

That got a round of applause from the other defendants, but this just turned the jury against them even more than they already were. It was as if they were applauding their own ignorance. What the defendants didn’t appreciate was the effect of the video evidence on the jury, video from their own time, showing ordinary people going about their ordinary lives, driving their cars, getting on aeroplanes, watching television, surfing the internet, but most of all talking to one another. It was the banality of what they said that was so shocking.

I’m not sure whether to tell you the end of the story or not. I know you won’t bother to read it, however good I tell you it is (and it’s a lot better than I’m making it sound here) so I might as well.

It was not a surprise when the death sentence came back for each guilty verdict, and it shouldn’t have been a surprise to the jury when three months after the executions 546,000 of them were swept away by a tsunami of temporal inconsistency. Those they had put to death were their own great great great … great great great grandparents.

It’s a little known fact that waves of temporal inconsistency take time to propagate through time, but their existence and their devastating effects were well known. LIke Gaia, the universe itself is a self-regulating system which can be thought of as alive, and it doesn’t take kindly to those who attempt to mess with its consistency.