I thought I'd post a recent line of thinking I had about the memory catacombs of Brunnis.
Basically, why would the Brunnen-G go in for such a pointless and horrifying death process? What purpose did the catacombs of memory serve, if any, and why didn't it go to Brunnis 2?
I don't know that I can fully answer those questions. But I have a theory.
Essentially, I'm thinking that the Brunnen-G were trying to replicate, with their technology, the soul or essence transmitting abilities of the insects. They were only partly successful, but built a cult around an immature technology.
The Insects, Mantrid tells us, had the ability to pass their essence from one individual to another. Both the Insect and Mantrid, in that episode, tell us that the Insect essence is their soul, their life force, and equivalent to the human soul.
The Insect, in its flashback in Mantrid, tells us that it passed its essence into humans. We know that it was able to pass its essence from one human to another, although imperfectly - it's observed in IWHS, GigaShadow and Mantrid.
In IWHS we see His Shadow kill Kai and steal his memories, or his soul from his body, at the moment of his death. When this happens we see a milky stream of images flow from one to the other. This phenomena, this milky stream or flow, happens clearly only a couple of other times. Two of these occasions are when Kai destroys a predecessor.
We know from the Predecessors, that they've killed and stolen the memories of thousands. It is a skill or ability particular to them alone, that we know of. I would suggest it is part of the Insects abilities, and is related to or the same ability that it uses to pass its essence from host to host.
However, the most similar time is when the Brunnen-G 'burst of life' machine, cuts Kai in half. We see the same sort of thing. In this case, the life essence, or soul, or memory stream is drawn into and stored on a compact disk.
The Burst of Life machine is apparently designed to kill a person in the most horrifying and terrifying way, and at the moment of death, to capture their 'lives' at the point of the extreme emotions of their death, on CD's, which are then stored, along with a template or map of their bodies.
I note that Kai doesn't revive until the light from the Blue Star strikes his CD and apparently releases his memories/life essence/soul back to his body.
The similarity of effect suggests that the Brunnen-G were trying to imitate, or reproduce, technologically, the Insects ability to capture or take souls.
However, Mantrid states that while the Insects had the ability to transfer their essence, souls, from one body to another, it was 'not something we humans have ever been able to master.'
Obviously, Mantrid has no direct knowledge of the Insects. His knowledge must come from the ancient records. Possibly even old Brunnen-G records. His phrasing suggests that at some time in the past, there was an effort to duplicate this insect ability in humans. An effort that never succeeded.
Interestingly, Mantrid has built a machine to capture his soul, or memories, or life essence, at the moment of death. This part of it appears to be similar in intention to the Brunnen-G burst of life technique.
But it seems inadequate, since Mantrid requires the Insect transduction organ to make it work.
Of course, the Brunnen-G technique seems to require a sudden and horrifying death after a period of terror, so their technique may have required an emotional 'burst' to raise the life energy to the point where it could be recorded.
The big difference between Mantrid's machine, and the Brunnen-G, is that the Brunnen-G were simply stored. Mantrid's machine's purpose is to allow his mind to function, to 'live' in the machine.
Here's where I start to speculate.
What if the Brunnen-G were after Immortality?
What if one of their avenues of research was to try to duplicate the insect technique for passing their souls/memories/life forces into new bodies? If they could do that, they need never fear death again. Instead, they could live forever in a succession of healthy young bodies. They could even switch genders. Be tall or short, slim or powerful, white or black. Physical perfection and freedom awaited them.
I think we can almost guarantee that they tried for it. Certainly from Mantrid's old records, we can assume that someone was doing research along those lines.
We also know from Brigadoom that the Brunnen-G did seek immortality and find it after they left Brunnis. This suggests that they may also have searched for it before they left Brunnis.
Their Burst of Life Machine is very very suggestive, as I've observed before. And we know from the memory record, that the technique or technology dates back at least to the Insect Wars, because Stan encounters a record from that time.
We do know for sure that the Brunnen-G were up to their elbows in the Insect Wars. And from Kai's stinger ship, that they were involved in trying to use or adapt insect technology, or perhaps adapt insects to their technology.
And we also know, from Mantrid, that whoever was looking for this ability, did not succeed.
Assume that the Brunnen-G were after immortality. That they tried to master the insect technique for transferring souls, and that they were only partly successful. They could remove and store souls. But they weren't able to 'download' them into new bodies...
All this is speculation, but I think its reasonable speculations.
Here's where I go out on a limb...
Assuming they got this far. What would they do?
I think we have a modern equivalent. Cryogenics. Currently, we can freeze people, but we can't revive them. Perhaps we may never be able to do it. But, or so modern folklore goes, there are people right now having their bodies frozen after or at the time of death, in the hopes that they can be revived at some time in the future when technology catches up to them.
So perhaps the Brunnen-G were doing the same thing. They'd half mastered a technology that would give them godlike immortality.
Perhaps all those CD's were the Brunnen-G taking a chance that in the near/far future, they'd master the technology to download into a new body, and they could be reborn, immortal.
It seems a much better bet than Cryogenic freezing. They'd already seen it worked for the Insects. And they'd already mastered half the process. Perhaps, to the Brunnen-G, it just seemed like it would only be a matter of time. Inevitable.
If there was a good prospect of rebirth and immortality thereafter, then suddenly the whole burst of life thing begins to make a whole lot of sense.
Of course, the process was never fully mastered. The Brunnen-G were never reborn. I can imagine a social craze slowly dying down as the breakthrough never comes.
But I suspect that neither the research, nor the burst of life process ever goes completely away. The people who participated in the burst of life probably also put away trusts to make sure that the research continued, to guarantee that they would be reborn. As well, the people who went through the process probably put away annuities or trusts to make sure they were well cared for or well heeled when they were reborn.
In short, its likely that if the Burst of Life caught on in any significant way, it would be almost inevitably become a long term social institution. The whole point of a Burst of Life and eventual rebirth would be that you wanted a long term infrastructure in place. So substantial resources were probably committed and stayed.
In addition, the continuing, if diminished prospect of long eventual immortality probably meant that the Burst of Life kept receiving a small but steady stream of clients, even after the initial enthusiasm passed.
After all, hope for the Burst of Life process may have become remote. But just about every modern religion does great business by promising immortality on much slenderer threads of hope.
But the status of all those CD's might become legally tricky. For instance, if this CD was a Brunnen-G waiting to be reborn, what was its legal status? Person in waiting? Person on holiday? What would happen if you destroyed one of those? Would that be murder? Manslaughter? What if one was tampered with? Partially erased? Stored somewhere unsafe? Taken offworld? Misfiled? Lost? The Brunnen-G or some of them were serious about this, so whatever financial, legal, or civil rights or powers these individuals were able to exert in life, they'd want to use to ensure their safety until their rebirth.
In short, once this sort of thing started up, I think it might become legally impossible to dismantle, even if they decided it wasn't feasible. Any scientific argument that it couldn't happen, would always run up against the legal argument that some day, new, currently unknown technology would win the day. You couldn't touch it. It would self perpetuate, legally and socially and as an institution, long after all reasonable hope was gone.
It's entirely possible that the Catacombs of Memory weren't taken away to Brunnis 2 because the legal structure of the Burst of Life was so impenetrable and ironclad that there was no legal way to remove them from the planet.
Or possibly the Brunnen-G took copies with them. Who knows.
Or possibly by the time of the departure, the whole Burst of Life thing had turned into an embarrassing but unremoveable social wart. A loony cult leftover from the past, that they were glad to leave behind. Poet Man certainly has unkind things to say about it, and seems to have set it up as a trap. This suggests that it was largely discredited in his eyes, and possibly in the eyes of the Brunnen-G of his time.
In any event, the Brunnen-G left Brunnis and some time after discovered immortality through another method. If there was any interest left in Burst of Life by that time, it probably was negligible after that. This is probably why Kai has trouble recognising it when he encounters it. By his time, the Burst of Life was forgotten, it was a minor footnote, an embarrassing dead end in the quest for immortality.
Mantrid and Brizon, in their own search for immortality, shifted their attention from trying to download the captured memories/soul/essence and focused instead on designing an environment within the machine which would allow them to have a sort of life, or at least experience a continuing analogue of consciousness or existence.
© 2000 July, Darrow.
© 2000 WordWrights.
The Darrow Files