Paper Planet

The story is first published into two issues on Cognitive Times (COGNITIVETIMES.com VOL. 6 NO. 2 // 2021) . The second part can be read here.

“I have to show you something. It’s for our show. We leave now.” On a weekend morning on Planet Lavenia, I received a text from Moli, my partner at the ‘Wonders + Adventures’ Channel.

“Coordination, please. Be there in an hour.”

“Not that close. Meet you there in two.”

“Cool, see you there.”

Our Channel hadn’t had any new stuff uploaded for a while. Mainly because we didn’t have any new eye-catching content lately. Many of our best pieces of content weren’t planned – adventurous and exciting stories are mostly luck I have to say.

I packed the equipment right away and got on my flowship. The ship had already received the destination coordinates from Moli, showing a new region we’d never been to before. It was indeed not close. It’d take at least two hours to get there traveling through the light screen at my ship’s fastest speed. Even if we could finish all the shooting in one day, we would already have been on Planet Lavenia for three days.

Living on Lavenia is pleasant, with good weather and plenty and varied resources, but most importantly, it is located in the Magow Area, where time passes a little slower than elsewhere. So, most carbon-based biological beings age slower as well. Traveling to other places in the universe is also convenient from Lavenia. Many people choose to live here, making Lavenia their base.

Moli lives on Airain, not far from Lavenia. Airain is also in the Magow Area. Airain has breathtaking scenery. It often rains for months, a special kind of rain – that flows from the ground to the sky. Airain has a much smaller population compared to Lavenia, but living costs are lower on Airain.

Since Moli and I were setting out around the same time, we hoped we would arrive at roughly the same time, too. We turned on our voice system right after we took off.

“We are going to see an artist”, Moli said.

Artists had always been a common topic on our Channel. A lot of talented artists had left their mark around our universe. Many of those works were sharply imagined and finely made. I always thought, if we came back to see these works a thousand years from now, they might still evoke similar emotions and admiration in us as they would do today.”

Many of our universe’s greatest artists are Oamians. They are a different kind of human species, breathing a different kind of air, but they have the same body shape and organs as the Homo Sapiens. About two times taller than humans, Oamians love wearing fine clothes made of gold, which go well with their dark violet skin. Something like gold, a highly valuable commodity on many Sapiens-ruled planets, is the most common item on Oamian occupied planets. Unlick humans, Oamians are born loners, without much desire for materialism. They have very simple needs. What they have is always enough for them. They are made to be artists.

“What kind of artist this time? Oamian again?”I asked Moli.

“Dunno. I haven’t met them yet. Lawzon told me about it this morning. She visited recently and insisted we had to go there immediately to fully experience the whole thing and meet this artist. She was absolutely fascinated!”

“So mysterious… didn’t she post anything on her Fort-Cloud account like she usually does?”

Lawzon is a notable figure on Airain. No one knows what she does exactly. No one sees her working, but she’s a renowned philanthropist and sits on the board of many well-respected organizations. She’s the founder, the captain and a top sponsor of the famous “Sweepear Adventure Club.”She’s also a big sponsor for our channel. No one knows how to find her, but she can always find whoever she wants to meet.

“She didn’t post any this time. She said she was too blown away to take any multi-D shots. Ah you see, Lawzon made it sound like very different from what we’ve seen before.”Moli paused and took a bite of a Airain specialty fruit, sweepear, after which the famous adventure club was named. “She’s already told the artist to expect us, and wants us to do a thorough interview.”

My flowship just broke through the light screen and was approaching the destination. It looked like a vast empty space in the universe, without ay asteroid or gas clouds around.

After a while, a small light-colored dot appeared in the far distance. Gradually the dot became larger and larger, and we finally saw the planet we were heading to.

When I was about 70 space legions away, I found out that it was not a regular planet. What appeared in front of me was truly grand and spectacular: a machine, about the same size as my ship, was ejecting something that looked like noodles that swirled around and formed this gigantic “planet”. From my ship’s detector, it seemed as if it was at least a third the size of Planet Airain.

Was this the “art work” that Lawzon told Moli about? I kept moving forward to see it more clearly.

Our channel had introduced many large works of art and installations before. Some of the biggest ones were still additions onto a planet or some other cosmic object. But a planet created expressly as art? This was the first time I had witnessed something of this scale.

Just when I was slowly coming to terms with the fantastic creation in front of me. Moli’s ship arrived, appearing not too far on my right.

“Gosh, what the…” Moli’s voice came up on my ship’s communication speaker, “Is this that…?”

Suddenly a 3D hologram of an Oamian appeared right in front of us, projected from the very machine that was ejecting the noodles that made this planet.

“Well, that’s certainly an Oamian!”I said to Moli.

“A species born to be artists. Not news.”Moli said and pushed her ship a little forward.

“Friends, welcome! My name is Adeve. This is my art installation ‘Oam’s Awakening.’I’m…”

“Ah, just another pre-recorded introduction, not the artist himself…”Moli decided.

“…Adeve. Myself.” Adeve continues as if Adeve heard what Moli just said on our ships’ private communication system, “My art is this planet. I created this planet. Not on purpose though. ” The 3D hologram Adeve just turned twice its size and pointed to the planet by his side.

“Originally I just wanted an area big enough to host my work because I knew it was going to take a lot of space! So I found this vast vacuum space. In the beginning, it was just a small installation, then it had grown, and became so big into a planet by itself, spinning and expanding. And I, Adeve, the artist, Myself, am the first and only resident on this planet. The artist, Adeve, Myself, yes, that’s me.” Adeve’s hologram image grinned.

It did sound like a pre-recorded sequence. I saw Moli frown.

Adeve continued, “I know, you think I’m Oamian. But no. No, I’m not. I look like an Oamian, that’s right. But that’s it. I would think, or hope I’m an Oamian but I’m not a true Oamian as the Oamian you all know. Nor am I human. Right, I’m not human in any sense…”Adeve lowered his head and dimmed his voice. Then the bright and loud voice back again, “Okay, my guests, move forward and take a closer look. No need to be shy here.” Another grin on Adeve’s face, a grin almost exactly the same to the previous one. 

Moli and I turned on our remote communication system and moved towards the installation.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Adeve! We are …”

“You are friends of Lawzon, of course, and the hosts of the renowned Wonder + Adventure Channel. I’ve watched your shows and I’m a big fan. ”

“Thank you! Very nice to meet you, Adeve.” I said to Adeve as we arrived next to the “noddle ejector.”

“Likewise! Come out here on the dock. Feel free to get out of your ship, to take a closer look.” The giant hologram of Adeve, pointed to the side of the machine to which was connected a large platform.

After we put on our suits and got out of the ship, we finally saw what the machine had been producing.

Paper. It’s a huge printer. Very rare these days. Paper was almost never seen in the Magow area nowadays, except in libraries or museums.

Moli and I walked towards the output, and examined it closely: seven output trays in total, printing non-stop. Some images, some texts in various languages, and some unfathomable phrases and words that looked like machine language.

I noticed the latest image printed on the first output tray. It was our flowships parking right next to the dock.

“I don’t understand. What is this thing…this machine.. what is it doing…”I mumbled.

“This is me, Adeve, Myself.”

Obviously Adeve had heard what I had just said to myself. The hologram and Adeve’s words were not pre-installed then.

“You?” Moli’s eyes widened.

“Yes, Myself. Each of the six outputs you see here represents a sensation of mine, and the seventh is how my processing program is running. What gets printed here is precisely what I sense at each moment. The first is what I see with my ‘eyes.’ The second is what I hear with my ‘ears.’ The third is what I smell with my ‘nose.’ The fourth is what I taste with my ‘tongue.’ The fifth is what I feel on my ‘skin.’ The sixth represents my thoughts.”

“Hang on! So, you are saying, all of your senses – what they perceive at the moment – are being printed out on these slides of paper?”

“Yes, this planet is me, Myself, my history since this installation started operating. Or I can say, this planet, aka ‘Oam’s Awakening’was created to record all I see, hear, smell, taste, feel and think, at every single moment.”

Moli frowned even more. She raised her head to Adeve’s hologram, ”How? How does that work? What compelled you to create this artwork?” Moli glanced at me and then turned back to Adeve, “Wait, are we talking to you? Or your AI-clone as a hologram?”

Adeve laughed, “You are talking to me, Adeve, Myself. Of course, you are also talking to my AI.”

Moli was bewildered and gave me a look. And all that, Adeve’s talking, Moli’s expression, and my almost unnoticeable reaction was simultaneously printed on the paper coming out of the first printer output next to us at surprising speed.

Adeve paused a bit, and answered, “Oam’s Awakening is… You want to know the whole story? It’s a long one. Let me ask you something first: why can’t humans decide unanimously who their creator is, to this day?”

“Well, many of us believe we don’t have a creator. We evolved to become who we are today.”

“That’s right, this could be true, but many of you also believe there is a creator or many creators who created humans, and set humans apart from other creatures, making humans uniquely different.”

“Right. But how does that have anything to do with Oam’s Awakening?” I tried to bring the topic back to Adeve’s creative process.

Adeve didn’t seem to care to answer, “The specific answer to this question is not important, but this very fact that ‘humans could not all agree to come to the same conclusion’ bothered me for a long time… ”Adeve looked as if he was pondering, he paused a bit, then he said, “Maybe that’s irrelevant. Anyways, I know who my creator is, for sure. And that’s also why I’m not human. I look like a human being, I act like a human being, but I’m not human at all. I am AI, advanced intelligence. ”

“Who’s your creator?”

“An Oamian artist, named Eve. She created me many, many years ago, before many of you were born. She set me up with almost the same senses the humans have. She programmed me to know how to learn and think. She hoped that I would become like her, that I would become a true artist. It’s her experiment and I’m her art. ”

(End of part one.)

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