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Chapter 3: At the Entry Station
9Bliss, entering their chamber, said, "Did Trevizetell you that we are going make the Jump and go through hyperspace anymoment now?"Pelorat, who was bent over his viewing disk, looked up, and said,"Actually, he just looked in and told me `within the half-hour.'""I don't like the thought of it, Pel. I've never liked the Jump. Iget a funny inside-out feeling."Pelorat looked a bit surprised. "I had not thought of you as a spacetraveler, Bliss dear.""I'm not particularly, and I don't mean that this is so only in myaspect as a component. Gaia itself has no occasion for regular spacetravel. By my/our/Gaia's very nature, I/we/Gaia don't explore, trade,or space junket. Still, there is the necessity of having someone at theentry stations ""As when we were fortunate enough to meet you.""Yes, Pel." She smiled at him affectionately. "Or even to visitSayshell and other stellar regions, for various reasons usuallyclandestine. But, clandestine or not, that always means the Jump and,of course, when any part of Gaia Jumps, all of Gaia feels it.""That's too bad," said Pel.
"It could be worse. The large mass of Gaia is not undergoing the Jump, so the effect is greatly diluted. However, Iseem to feel it much more than most of Gaia. As I keep trying to tellTrevize, though all of Gaia is Gaia, the individual components are notidentical. We have our differences, and my makeup is, for some reason,particularly sensitive to the Jump.""Wait!" said Pelorat, suddenly remembering. "Trevize explained that tome once. It's in ordinary ships that you have the worst of the sensation.
In ordinary ships, one leaves the Galactic gravitational field on enteringhyperspace, and comes back to it on returning to ordinary space. It's theleaving and returning that produces the sensation. But the Far Star is a gravitic ship. It is independent of the gravitational field, anddoes not truly leave it or return to it. For that reason, we won't feela thing. I can assure you of that, dear, out of personal experience.""But that's delightful. I wish I had thought to discuss the matterearlier. I would have saved myself considerable apprehension.""That's an advantage in another way," said Pelorat, feeling anexpansion of spirit in his unusual role as explainer of mattersastronautic. "The ordinary ship has to recede from large masses suchas stars for quite a long distance through ordinary space in orderto make the Jump. Part of the reason is that the closer to a star,the more intense the gravitational field, and the more pronounced arethe sensations of a Jump. Then, too, the more intense the gravitationalfield the more complicated the equations that must be solved in orderto conduct the Jump safely and end at the point in ordinary space youwish to end at.
"In a gravitic ship, however, there is no Jump-sensation to speakof. In addition, this ship has a computer that is a great deal moreadvanced than ordinary computers and it can handle complex equationswith unusual skill and speed. The result is that instead of having tomove away from a star for a couple of weeks just to reach a safe andcomfortable distance for a Jump, the Far Star need travel for onlytwo or three days. This is especially so since we are not subject to agravitational field and, therefore, to inertial effects I admitI don't understand that, but that's what Trevize tells me and canaccelerate much more rapidly than an ordinary ship could."Bliss said, "That's fine, and it's to Trev's credit that he can handlethis unusual ship."Pelorat frowned slightly. "Please, Bliss. Say `Trevize.'""I do. I do. In his absence, however, I relax a little.""Don't. You don't want to encourage the habit even slightly, dear. He'sso sensitive about it.""Not about that. He's sensitive about me. He doesn't like me.""That's not so," said Pelorat earnestly. "I talked to him aboutthat. Now, now, don't frown. I was extraordinarily tactful, dearchild. He assured me he did not dislike you. He is suspicious of Gaiaand unhappy over the fact that he has had to make it into the future ofhumanity. We have to make allowances for that. He'll get over it as hegradually comes to understand the advantages of Gaia.""I hope so, but it's not just Gaia. Whatever he may tell you,Pel and remember that he's very fond of you and doesn't want tohurt your feelings he dislikes me personally.""No, Bliss. He couldn't possibly.""Not everyone is forced to love me simply because you do, Pel. Letme explain. Trev all right, Trevize thinks I'm a robot."A look of astonishment suffused Pelorat's ordinarily stolidfeatures. He said, "Surely he can't think you're an artificial humanbeing.""Why is that so surprising? Gaia was settled with the help ofrobots. That's a known fact.""Robots might help, as machines night, but it was people who settled Gaia; people from Earth. That's what Trevize thinks. I knowhe does.""There is nothing in Gaia's memory about Earth as I told you andTrevize. However, in our oldest memories there are still some robots,even after three thousand years, working at the task of completing themodification of Gaia into a habitable world. We were at that time alsoforming Gaia as a planetary consciousness that took a long time,Pel dear, and that's another reason why our early memories are dim,and perhaps it wasn't a matter of Earth wiping them out, as Trevizethinks ""Yes, Bliss," said Pelorat anxiously, "but what of the robots?""Well, as Gaia formed, the robots left. We did not want a Gaia thatincluded robots, for we were, and are, convinced that a robotic componentis, in the long run, harmful to a human society, whether Isolate innature or Planetary. I don't know how we came to that conclusion but itis possible that it is based on events dating back to a particularlyearly time in Galactic history, so that Gaia's memory does not extendback to it.""If the robots left ""Yes, but what if some remained behind? What if I am one ofthem fifteen thousand years old perhaps. Trevize suspects that."Pelorat shook his head slowly. "But you're not.""Are you sure you believe that?""Of course I do. You're not a robot.""How do you know?""Bliss, I know . There's nothing artificial about you. IfI don't know that , no one does.""Isn't it possible I may be so cleverly artificial that in everyrespect, from largest to smallest, I am indistinguishable from thenatural. If I were, how could you tell the difference between me and atrue human being?"Pelorat said, "I don't think it's possible for you to be so cleverlyartificial.""What if it were possible, despite what you think?""I just don't believe it.""Then let's just consider it is a hypothetical case. If I were anindistinguishable robot, how would you feel about it?""Well, I I ""To be specific. How would you feel about making love to a robot?"Pelorat snapped the thumb and mid-finger of his right hand,suddenly. "You know, there are legends of women falling in lovewith artificial men, and vice versa. I always thought there was anallegorical significance to that and never imagined the tales couldrepresent literal truth. Of course, Golan and I never even heardthe word `robot' till we landed on Sayshell, but, now that I think ofit, those artificial men and women must have been robots. Apparently,such robots did exist in early historic times. That means the legendsshould be reconsidered "He fell into silent thought, and, after Bliss had waited a moment,she suddenly clapped her hands sharply. Pelorat jumped.
"Pel dear," said Bliss. "You're using your mythography to escapethe question. The question is: How would you feel about making love toa robot?"He stared at her uneasily. "A truly undistinguishable one? One thatyou couldn't tell from a human being?""Yes.""It seems to me, then, that a robot that can in no way be distinguishedfrom a human being is a human being. If you were such arobot, you would be nothing but a human being to me.""That's what I wanted to hear you say, Pel."Pelorat waited, then said, "Well, then, now that you've heard me sayit, dear, aren't you going to tell me that you are a natural human beingand that I don't have to wrestle with hypothetical situations?""No. I will do no such thing. You've defined a natural human beingas an object that has all the properties of a natural human being. Ifyou are satisfied that I have all those properties, then that ends thediscussion. We've got the operational definition and need no other. Afterall, how do I know that you're not just a robot who happensto be indistinguishable from a human being?""Because I tell you that I am not.""Ah, but if you were a robot that was indistinguishable from a humanbeing, you might be designed to tell me you were a natural human being,and you might even be programmed to believe it yourself. The operationaldefinition is all we have, and all we can have."She put her arms about Pelorat's neck and kissed him. The kiss grewmore passionate, and prolonged itself until Pelorat managed to say,in somewhat muffled fashion, "But we promised Trevize not to embarrasshim by converting this ship into a honeymooners' haven."Bliss said coaxingly, "Let's be carried away and not leave ourselvesany time to think of promises."Pelorat, troubled, said, "But I can't do that, dear. I knowit must irritate you, Bliss, but I am constantly thinking and I amconstitutionally averse to letting myself be carried away by emotion. It'sa lifelong habit, and probably very annoying to others. I've neverlived with a woman who didn't seem to object to it sooner or later. Myfirst wife but I suppose it would be inappropriate to discussthat ""Rather inappropriate, yes, but not fatally so. You're not my firstlover either.""Oh!" said Pelorat, rather at a loss, and then, aware of Bliss'ssmall smile, he said, "I mean, of course not. I wouldn't expect myselfto have been Anyway, my first wife didn't like it.""But I do. I find your endless plunging into thought attractive.""I can't believe that , but I do have anotherthought. Robot or human, that doesn't matter. We agree on that. However,I am an Isolate and you know it. I am not part of Gaia, and when weare intimate, you're sharing emotions outside Gaia even when you letme participate in Gaia for a short period, and it may not be the sameintensity of emotion then that you would experience if it were Gaialoving Gaia."Bliss said, "Loving you, Pel, has its own delight. I look no fartherthan that.""But it's not just a matter of you loving me. You aren't merelyyou. What if Gaia considers it a perversion?""If it did, I would know, for I am Gaia. And since I have delight inyou, Gaia does. When we make love, all of Gaia shares the sensation tosome degree or other. When I say I love you, that means Gaia loves you,although it is only the part that I am that is assigned the immediaterole. You seem confused.""Being an Isolate, Bliss, I don't quite grasp it.""One can always form an analogy with the body of an Isolate. Whenyou whistle a tune, your entire body, you as an organism,wishes to whistle the tune, but the immediate task of doing so is assignedto your lips, tongue, and lungs. Your right big toe does nothing.""It might tap to the tune.""But that is not necessary to the act of whistling. The tapping ofthe big toe is not the action itself but is a response to the action,and, to be sure, all parts of Gaia might well respond in some small wayor other to my emotion, as I respond to theirs."Pelorat said, "I suppose there's no use feeling embarrassed aboutthis.""None at all.""But it does give me a queer sense of responsibility. When I try tomake you happy, I find that I must be trying to make every last organismon Gaia happy.""Every last atom but you do. You add to the sense of communaljoy that I let you share briefly. I suppose your contribution is toosmall to be easily measurable, but it is there, and knowing it is thereshould increase your joy."Pelorat said, "I wish I could be sure that Golan is sufficiently busywith his maneuvering through hyperspace to remain in the pilot-room forquite a while.""You wish to honeymoon, do you?""I do.""Than get a sheet of paper, write `Honeymoon Haven' on it, affixIt to the outside of the door, and if he wants to enter, that's hisproblem."Pelorat did so, and it was during the pleasurable proceedings thatfollowed that the Far Star made the Jump. Neither Pelorat norBliss detected the action, nor would they have, had they been payingattention.
10It had been only a matter of a few months since Pelorat had metTrevize and had left Terminus for the first time. Until then, for themore than half-century (Galactic Standard) of his life, he had beenutterly planet-bound.
In his own mind, he had in those months become an old space dog. He hadseen three planets from space: Terminus itself, Sayshell, and Gaia. And onthe viewscreen, he now saw a fourth, albeit through a computer-controlledtelescopic device. The fourth was Comporellon.
And again, for the fourth time, he was vaguely disappointed. Somehow,he continued to feel that looking down upon a habitable world from spacemeant seeing an outline of its continents against a surrounding sea; or,if it were a dry world, the outline of its lakes against a surroundingbody of land.
It was never so.
If a world was habitable, it had an atmosphere as well as ahydrosphere. And if it had both air and water, it had clouds; and ifit had clouds, it had an obscured view. Once again, then, Pelorat foundhimself looking down on white swirls with an occasional glimpse of paleblue or rusty brown.
He wondered gloomily if anyone could identify a world if a viewof it from, say, three hundred thousand kilometers, were cast upon ascreen. How does one tell one cloud swirl from another?
Bliss looked at Pelorat with some concern. "What is it, Pel? You seemto be unhappy.""I find that all planets look alike from space."Trevize said, "What of that, Janov? So does every shoreline onTerminus, when it is on the horizon, unless you know what you're lookingfor a particular mountain peak, or a particular offshore islet ofcharacteristic shape.""I dare say," said Pelorat, with clear dissatisfaction, "but what doyou look for in a mass of shifting clouds? And even if you try, beforeyou can decide, you're likely to be moving into the dark side.""Look a little more carefully, Janov. If you follow the shape of theclouds, you see that they tend to fall into a pattern that circles theplanet and that moves about a center. That center is more or less atone of the poles.""Which one?" asked Bliss with interest.
"Since, relative to ourselves, the planet is rotating in clockwisefashion, we are looking down, by definition, upon the south pole. Sincethe center seems to be about fifteen degrees from the terminator theplanet's line of shadow and the planetary axis is tilted twenty-onedegrees to the perpendicular of its plane of revolution, we're eitherin mid-spring or mid-summer depending on whether the pole is moving awayfrom the terminator or toward it. The computer can calculate its orbit andtell me in short order if I were to ask it. The capital is on the northernside of the equator so it is either in mid-fall or mid-winter."Pelorat frowned. "You can tell all that?" He looked at the cloudlayer as though he thought it would, or should, speak to him now, but,of course, it didn't.
"Not only that," said Trevize, "but if you'll look at the polarregions, you'll see that there are no breaks in the cloud layer as thereare away from the poles. Actually, there are breaks, but through thebreaks you see ice, so it's a matter of white on white.""Ah," said Pelorat. "I suppose you expect that at the poles.""Of habitable planets, certainly. Lifeless planets might be airless orwaterless, or might have certain stigmata showing that the clouds are notwater a clouds, or that the ice is not water ice. This planet lacks thosestigmata, so we know we are looking at water clouds and water ice.
"The next thing we notice is the size of the area of unbrokenwhite on the day side of the terminator, and to the experienced eye itis at once seen as larger than average. Furthermore, you can detecta certain orange glint, a quite faint one, to the reflected light,and that means Comporellon's sun if rather cooler than Terminus'ssun. Although Comporellon is closer to its sun than Terminus is tohers, it is not sufficiently closer to make up for its star's lowertemperature. Therefore, Comporellon is a cold world as habitable worldsgo.""You read it like a film, old chap," said Pelorat admiringly.
"Don't be too impressed," said Trevize, smiling affectionately. "Thecomputer has given me the applicable statistics of the world, includingits slightly low average temperature. It is easy to deduce somethingyou already know. In fact, Comporellon is at the edge of an ice ageand would be having one, if the configuration of its continents weremore suitable to such a condition."Bliss bit at her lower lip. "I don't like a cold world.""We've got warm clothing," said Trevize.
"That doesn't matter. Human beings aren't adapted to cold weather,really. We don't have thick coats of hair or feathers, or a subcutaneouslayer of blubber. For a world to have cold weather seems to indicate acertain indifference to the welfare of its own parts."Trevize said, "Is Gaia a uniformly mild world?""Most of it, yes. There are some cold areas for cold-adapted plants andanimals, and some hot areas for heat-adapted plants and animals, but mostparts are uniformly mild, never getting uncomfortably hot or uncomfortablycold, for those between, including human beings, of course.""Human beings, of course. All parts of Gaia are alive and equal inthat respect, but some, like human beings, are obviously more equalthan other.""Don't be foolishly sarcastic," said Bliss, with a trace ofwaspishness. "The level and intensity of consciousness and awarenessare important. A human being is a more useful portion of Gaia than arock of the same weight would be, and the properties and functions ofGaia as a whole are necessarily weighted in the direction of the humanbeing not as much so as on your Isolate worlds, however. What'smore, there are times when it is weighted in other directions, whenthat is needed for Gaia as a whole. It might even, at long intervals,be weighted in the direction of the rocky interior. That, too, demandsattention or, in the lack of that attention all parts of Gaia mightsuffer. We wouldn't want an unnecessary volcanic eruption, would we?""No," said Trevize. "Not an unnecessary one.""You're not impressed, are you?""Look," said Trevize. "We have worlds that are colder than averageand worlds that are warmer; worlds that are tropical forests to a largeextent, and worlds that are vast savannahs. No two worlds are alike,and every one of them is home to those who are used to it. I am used tothe relative mildness of Terminus we've tamed it to an almost Gaianmoderation, actually but I like to get away, at least temporarily,to something different. What we have, Bliss, that Gaia doesn't have,is variation. If Gaia expands into Galaxia, will every world in theGalaxy be forced into mildness? The sameness would be unbearable."Bliss said, "If that is so, and if variety seems desirable, varietywill be maintained.""As a gift from the central committee, so to speak?" said Trevizedryly. "And as little of it as they can bear to part with? I'd ratherleave it to nature.""But you haven't left it to nature. Every habitable worldin the Galaxy has been modified. Every single one was found in a stateof nature that was uncomfortable for humanity, and every single one wasmodified until it was as mild as could be managed. If this world hereis cold, I am certain that is because its inhabitants couldn't warm itany further without unacceptable expense. And even so, the portions theyactually inhabit we can be sure are artificially warmed into mildness. Sodon't be so loftily virtuous about leaving it to nature."Trevize said, "You speak for Gaia, I suppose.""I always speak for Gaia. I am Gaia.""Then if Gaia is so certain of its own superiority, why did you requiremy decision? Why have you not gone ahead without me?"Bliss paused, as though to collect her thoughts. She said, "Because itis not wise to trust one's self overmuch. We naturally see our virtueswith clearer eyes than we see our defects. We are anxious to do whatis right; not necessarily what seems right to us, but whatis right, objectively, if such a thing as objective rightexists. You seem to be the nearest approach to object............
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