MAY 2021


Somewhere in the off-Net past, they had been sessile dwellers of sea shores. Left to themselves, they had developed a form of intelligence almost devoid of short- term memory. They sat in the surf, thinking thoughts that left no imprints on their minds. Only repetition of a stimulus, over a period of time, could do that. But the intelligence and memory that they had was of survival value: it made it possible for them to select the best possible place to cast their pupal seeds, locations that would mean safety and food for the next generation. Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to “help” them out. Someone had put them on mobile platforms, the skrodes. With wheels they could move along the seashores, could reach and manipulate with their fronds and tendrils. With the skrode’s mechanical short-term memory, they could learn fast enough that their new mobility would not kill them.