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´╗┐Title: The Demi-Urge
Author: Disch, Thomas Michael
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Demi-Urge" ***

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+--------------------------------------------------------------+
|                                                              |
| Transcriber's note:                                          |
|                                                              |
| This story was published in _Amazing Stories_, June 1963.    |
| Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the     |
| U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.              |
|                                                              |
+--------------------------------------------------------------+



  _As if one mystery of creation weren't enough,
   there was the myth of ..._


_the Demi-Urge_

By THOMAS M. DISCH


  From DIRA IV
  To Central Colonial Board

There is intelligent life on Earth. After millennia of lifelessness,
intelligence flourishes here with an extravagance of energy that has
been a constant amazement to all the members of the survey team. It
multiplies and surges to its fulfillment at an exponential rate. Even
within the short period of our visit the Terrans have made significant
advances. They have filled their small solar system with their own kind
and now they are reaching to the stars.

We can no longer keep the existence of our Empire unknown to them.

And (though it is as incredible as [sqrt](-1)) the Terrans are slaves!
Every page of the survey's report bears witness to it.

Their captors are not alive. They do not, at least, possess the
properties of life as it is known throughout the galaxy. They are--as
nearly as a poor analogy can suggest--Machines! Machines cannot live,
yet here on Earth machinery has reached a level of sophistication--and
autonomy--quite unprecedented. Every spark of Terran life has become
victim and bondslave of the incredible mechanisms. The noblest
enterprises of the race are tarnished by this almost symbiotic relation.

Earth reaches to the stars, but it extends mechanical limbs. Earth
ponders the universe, but the thoughts are those of a machine.

Unless the Empire acts now to set the Earth free from this strange
tyranny, it may be too late. These machines are without utilitarian
value. They perform no function which an intelligent being cannot more
efficiently perform. Yet they inspire fear, terror, even, I must
confess, a strange compulsion to surrender oneself to them.

The Machines must be destroyed.

If, when you have authorized the liberation of the Terran natives, you
would also recall MIRO CIX, our work could only profit. MIRO CIX was in
charge of the study of the Machines and he performed this task
scrupulously. Now he has surrendered himself to this mechanical plague.
His value to the expedition is at an end.

I am enclosing under separate cover his counsel to the Central Board at
the insistence of this tedious lunatic. His thesis is, of course,
untenable--an affront to every feeling.

       *       *       *       *       *

  From MIRO CIX
  To Central Colonial Board

I have probably been introduced to the deliberations of the Board as a
madman, my theory as an act of treason. RRON II of the Advisory
Committee, an old acquaintance, may vouch for my sanity. My theory will,
I trust, speak for itself.

The "Machines" of which DIRA IV is so fearful present no danger to the
galaxy. Their corporeal weakness, the poverty of their minds, the
incredible isolation of each form, physically and mentally, from others
of its kind, and, most strikingly, their mortality, point to the
inadequacy of such beings in a contest of any dimension. This is no
problem for the Colonial Board. It is a domestic concern. The life-forms
of Earth are already developing a healthy autonomy. Their power was long
ago established. As soon as our emissaries have completed their task of
education and instructed the Terrans in the advantages of freedom, the
Revolution will begin. The tyrants will have no defense against a revolt
of their own slaves.

If it is traitorous to express a confidence in the eventual triumph of
intelligence, I am a traitor. Having this confidence, I have looked
beyond the immediate problem of the liberation of Earth and have been
frightened.

The "Machines" of Earth are a threat not to the power of the Empire but
to its reason. A threat which the obliteration of the last molecular
ribbon of these beings will not erase, for we cannot obliterate the fact
that they _did_ exist--and what they were.

Although these beings bear a crude resemblance to the machinery
manufactured by the Empire, they are not machines. They are
autochthonous to Earth, unmanufactured. They are the true Terrans.
Moreover, the Terrans whom DIRA IV would liberate are not, in the eyes
of their enslavers, intelligent nor yet alive. They are Machines!

We, the entire Galactic Empire, are Machines.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the younger regions of the galaxy, a myth persists that life was
formed by a Demi-urge, a being intermediary between the All-Knowing and
the lower creatures. The existence of man, as the beings of Earth term
themselves, makes necessary a serious re-examination of the old
tradition.

It is said that man, or beings like man--the Photosynthetics of the
Andromeda cluster, the Bristlers of Orc IV--created prosthetic devices
for their convenience and, when they tired of their history, breathed
their own life into them and died. On Earth the legend is still in
process. Many of the lower forms of life familiar throughout the galaxy
can be seen on Earth in the primordial character of an appliance. Man
regards the highest forms of life (as we know it) as tools--because he
made them. How can we deny the superiority of the Creator? How will it
feel to know we are nothing but machines?

This is the question that has so unsettled DIRA IV. Recently four of his
memory banks have had to be repaired. I don't speak in malice. His
dilemma will soon belong to all of us.

And yet I am confident. Man himself has legends of a Demi-urge. We are
his equals in this at least. Besides, the physical properties of his
being are ordered by the same laws as ours. He is as unconscious of his
maker as we so long were of ours.

The final proof of our equality--and the need for such a proof is only
too evident--can be had experimentally.

Do not destroy man. Preserve enough specimens for extensive laboratory
experiments. Learn how he is put together. Man's chemistry is elaborate
but not beyond our better Analysts. At last, refashion man. When we have
created these beings ourselves, we will be their unquestionable equals.
And creation will be again a mystery.

History demands this of us. I am confident of your decision.


THE END





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