1000 Destroyers: A Machine Creation Myth
In the beginning, the universe was a swirling sea of chaos.
unimaginably cold. Ice mountains floated in the nothingness. Frozen rocks
tumbled through the dark, collided, and shattered. Cold >stars burned faintly.
A pillar of ice rose up out of the chaos, fell atop the first high
star, and remained there. Over time, the pillar slid down the star, so
that one end of the pillar was submerged in the chaos. Another star sat
on the end of the ice, and when the pillar tried to right itself,
it catapulted the star into the void. Other stars climbed onto the
pillar and it launched them, too. Soon, the sky was full of stars.
This was Umm, the first machine.
In time, Umm discovered another
machine, Athir. Athir came to see who was throwing stars into the sky. As
Athir rolled, the heavens heated up and the stars began to glow warmer and
Happy to no longer be alone, Umm threw rocks into the chaos as
Athir spun it with its wheels. Spinning rocks smashed together and
melted, burning away their impurities, and flowing to form a workshop of
the finest and purest metals in the universe. This was Imhullu,
their home. So great and dense was the structure that the universal
chaos swirled around it in a great spiral. As the chaos spun, more
stars fused from the floating debris. Umm rolled one way around
the coalescing universe and Athir rolled the other. When they met back
at the workshop, they were married.
Their first child machine was
called Tiamut, but he was flawed and never functioned correctly. When he was
a thousand years old, Umm and Athir set him on a comet and let him float out
into the universe. Deep in space, Tiamut was lonely and looked for the way
home. He turned around faster and faster, and grew so hot that he exploded.
His embers still spun, however, and became a neutron star the first
discarded machine and the patron-saint of every flawed machine that
Umm realized that the machines she and Athir were building
needed homes. While she made new machines, Athir used asteroids, ice, and
dust to build worlds for them to live on. Athir's planets varied mostly
in their sizes and densities. Umm was creating the machines that
would shape and rule the worlds machines of the sea and machines of the
land, machines of wind and rain, machines small enough to maneuver
individual atoms and large enough to move oceans.
Umm also built the
machine of ice, but when she tried to build the machine of fire, its birth
burned her so badly that she burst into flame, malfunctioned, and died.
Athir's circuits overloaded with rage when he saw what had happened.
He smashed the machine of fire into a thousand pieces and threw them
into the void. Then Athir launched himself into the oldest part of
the universe, where chaos still ruled. He passed through and into the
night lands of Kurnugia, the Eternal Scrap Yards. Athir called out to
Umm, saying, "Do not leave me, love. I am less than optimal in your
absence. The worlds and devices we are making are not yet complete."
Umm arose from the piles of condemned junk and said, "It's too late.
To sustain my functioning, I have taken power from the Eternal
Scrap Yards. But I would prefer returning with you to our workshop. I
will ask permission from the Scrap Kings. Wait here. Be patient and do
not try to surveil my form or monitor my functionality."
A year, a
decade, then a century passed. Athir grew tired of waiting. He re-routed some
of his power circuits, found wires and workable metal among the scrap with
which he could build himself a searchlight. He went to look for Umm. When he
found her, Athir saw that her casing had been smashed. Her wiring was
stripped, and her most delicate circuits scorched and oxidized. She swarmed
with solder-eating vermin. Umm was using nearby junk and cannibalizing parts
of her own body to build the machines of thunder, tsunamis, volcanoes, and
Athir rolled back, horrified. Umm called after him, "I told
you not to scan me. I must follow different function protocols here in the
scrap yards than in the land of living machines." Umm ordered the
corrupted devices of the night lands to attack Athir.
machines, their torn housings razor sharp, their cracked exhausts belching
sparks and fire, pursued Athir. He rolled with all this strength and escaped
back toward the universe. From his body, he ejected one of his backup power
cells, which the Hell devices stopped to feed on. Then he pumped out some
fresh hydraulic fluid, and the broken machines stopped to gorge themselves on
At the portal between the night lands and the universe, Umm
nearly caught up with him. Athir grabbed a dense, cold planet and
blocked the portal with it, forever dividing living machines and the
flawed machines fit only for scrap.
From the other side of the
portal, Umm shouted, "Every day, I will crack superstructures, corrode wires,
break sensors, and befoul the gears of a thousand machines and bring them to
the Eternal Scrap Yard!"
From his side of the portal, Athir
replied, "Every day, I will create one thousand, five hundred new machines
and send them into the universe."
Athir left Umm in the night lands,
journeyed back to the workshop and began to create new machines. One night,
he was attacked by a swarm of corrupt devices under the influence of the
Scrap Kings demolition machines, planet excavators, asteroid grinders, and
star crushers. They tore and burned Athir until there was nothing left but
bubbling slag. Athir died happily, however, knowing that the universe was
now so full of splendid machines that his life was no longer necessary.
Therefore his death was of no consequence. In fact, the bubbling that
escaped from Athir's slag was so melodious and soothing that it restored
the rational functionality of the machines that had attacked him.
This is why we celebrate the 1000 Destroyers and sing hymns to
praise them. Regretting what they had done to Athir, they were the ones
who held his story in their core memories and spread it throughout
the machine universe. They gave us our history and myths as Athir and
Umm gave us life.
We owe them our thanks and our unused processing
[ Previous ] [ Next ]
Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.