Novel#7 (include 5 & 6 ideas) LEO TORRES: THE SECOND BATCH




Ch1 Leo Torres has a typical day on RS264


Leo Torres got up and turned off the bed jets. He went to the bathroom, then cleaned his hands in the light sink. He carelessly checked his food receptacle, even though he knew he hadn’t left any pellets from the previous night. Then he walked outside. It was exactly the same thing he did every morning on RS264.


Several of the other colonists were already on their way to the touch post, but some hung around because they preferred to go in groups. Leo invariably went alone.


As always, Leo didn’t head straight for the touch post at the other end of the dome. He walked along inside the periphery and examined the thrashing volcanoes outside. Others may have found the view uninteresting, since it consisted only of endless eruptions far and near, but Leo liked to see which ones were growing and how fast. On this particular day, only the boiling yellow and red lava and the white steam were completely visible, because the 3rd sun was the only one shining, and it was weak and far away.


With the morning light inside and the relative darkness outside, Leo could see his own reflection hazily in the dome. He was a young man, just as naked, sleek and hairless as all the others, no taller nor more powerful than the other males. His skin was darker than most of the colonists, which made eyes more distinct and his teeth whiter when he smiled, but he wasn’t smiling.


The touch pole was centered near the far end of the dome. He had counted his steps long ago. When he walked casually, and he nearly always walked casually, he would arrive in 1,312 paces. Some colonists were slower, some hurried, and some, in groups, gamboled back and forth while socializing. All 103 of them were naked, all were hairless, all of them were Leo’s young age, and all of them did this exact same thing every morning.


Since everybody came to the touch pole, it was the ideal place for some to intercept others. Usually, the enthusiastic artists who were seeking models for their paintings and sculptures, readers for their stories, colleagues for their projects, and the many participants needed for dramas left Leo alone, because he had never showed much interest. But recently, some of the drama groups waylaid him every morning, the same way, because they wanted him to act in an unusual kind of play.


“There’s our Othello,” shouted the first one to see Leo drawing near, “Won’t you please consider taking the role?” Then they all started, as usual, to tell him that he would be perfect to take a role from a play that they had recently discovered in the library. It was from Earth, and it was very very old. According to the Librarian, it was one of the most popular plays ever created on Earth. Each of the groups was eager to produce it, each member of each group was hoping to direct it, but none of them had been able to cast the lead role.


Leo had figured out some time before why they took such an interest in him. He had read a summary in the library. Othello was dark-skinned, and probably none of the other dark-skinned men on RS264 wanted to play the role any more than Leo did. So he responded to no one and went directly to place his order. 


At the touch pole, each individual chose their morning food allotment by touching whichever colors they preferred. Browns, greens, and yellows were the preferred pellets, Leo knew because he had watched them and counted their preferences before. Green was by far the most popular. Very few chose orange, the spiciest pellets, but Leo preferred them.


Leo made his breakfast food choices, mostly orange, then walked to the opposite side of the dome and sauntered back along the periphery. The walk back to the living quarters was exactly like the first half of the journey. Most people hurried back, their bare feet whisking over the clean artificial turf faster than they had come. Leo didn’t hurry. He did about the same thing every day.


By the time they returned, 1,312 steps for Leo, their morning pellets were in their receptacles.


Leo spent the day, as everyone did, checking out the sports and art projects that were underway here and there. The architects were Leo’s favorites. Their exquisite miniatures intrigued him more than any of the many paintings and sculptures that were on display. There were no stage plays scheduled, since all of the drama groups were competing to produce Othello.


Around noon, everyone drifted again to the touch pole and back. Some of them, including Leo, turned on their air jets and snoozed after lunch. Sports events and serious planning for displays and productions took up most of the afternoons for most colonists. After the touch-pole ordering and dinner, most of the colonists socialized and attended games, displays, concerts, and stage plays. They gathered their food pellets in squares of cloth and spread out in groups across the area around the living quarters where they would sit or lie on the clean turf and talk about subjects that didn’t interest Leo at all. He went to the library.


Each colonist could spend time with the Librarian. She was a hologram, sitting beside a screen, naked and bald like everyone else, slightly older, slightly evanescent, wiser than any or all of them.


The Librarian could answer any question, but Leo could think of nothing that interested him enough to ask, so he wandered around the various games and displays underway until he was tired and bored enough to go to sleep.


As Leo drifted off, he could think of nothing remarkable about the day, or of any of the days that aggregated together to constitute his life so far. “A typical day,” he thought grimly. “I have had enough of typical days.”



Ch2: An Untypical Day


With new resolve for his first untypical day, Leo was the first one in the library.


Can you help me know as much as there is to know?




Am I a human being?




Am I significantly different from the other human beings?




“Am I named for someone who lived on Earth?”



“Was the Leo Torres on Earth a real person?”




“Am I like the Leo Torres who lived on Earth?”




“Am I exactly like the Leo Torres who lived on Earth?”




“Am I a clone?”




“Am I a replication of the Leo Torres who lived on Earth?”




“Is everyone here on RS264 a replication of someone who lived on





“Do you have a description of the life of the Earthling, Leo Torres?”




“May I see the description of the life of the Earthling, Leo Torres?




May I see it now?




Text appeared on the screen and the Librarian vanished. For the rest of the morning, Leo devoured an ancient text, thousands of years old, about his namesake:


Chapter 2: Who Was Leo Torres?

The following dissertation won the Jane Early Award for Excellence in Education and was selected to be one of the informational pieces to be shared with the universe through our broadcasts into space. 

A great many biographies have been written in the century since Leo Torres’ death. Most of them, from “A Boys Life…” to “Warrior for the Revolution…” overly glamorize the myth that has replaced the facts of his life. But original sources remain, including interviews with Leo Torres and his consort, Jane Early, original videos, innumerable news articles, and even the rather scurrilous attacks against him authored primarily by his former publicity director, Lester Frailey.

All of our heroes, it is said, have feet of clay, and Leo Torres is no exception. Yet his accomplishments are much too big to ignore or gloss over. Was Leo Torres a mighty hero, or was he an ordinary man in the most extraordinary of circumstances? Here, we present what really happened and let the reader decide.

An Ordinary Person draws the world’s attention

Almost nothing is known about Leo Torres’ origins or childhood. How he became a street urchin on the streets of New York City has been the subject of much speculation. His ethnic origins, like everything else about his early life, are unknown primarily because Torres himself did not know or would not say. We do know that he joined the Progressive Party as a teenager just on the cusp of the revolution that brought them, along with the Greens, to power. We do know that he is generally credited with having focused all the world’s misery and discontent into a certain act on a certain day that changed a general upheaval into a specific people’s demand for power. One could argue, and they would be in good company, including in the company of Leo Torres himself, that if this had been any other day, the act and Leo Torres himself would have gone unnoticed.

But, on the day that the simmering world was ready to boil, Leo Torres and a small contingent of Progressives pushed their way into a meeting of the Board of Directors of a large corporation where the workers were on strike. When a noisy altercation broke out on the street below, the activists decided to change tactics. As they left, one of them told young Leo in passing, “Don’t let them leave.” Torres took this passing suggestion as an order that had to be obeyed. When the directors tried to push past him, he bared the homemade knife that he, street kid that he was, always carried. The directors kept pushing forward, and young Leo kept stabbing until all six of them lay dying. Having carried out his order, he then left by an open window and descended to the street below. Videographers caught Leo, covered with blood, as he dropped down in front of the cheering strikers.

The widely distributed videos gave the world’s youth something they had apparently been waiting for: decisive action. Insurgents everywhere took Torres’ bloody incident as a signal for the coordinated uprising that put a punctuation mark to decades of struggle.

Would the insurrection have happened anyway, that same day or the next? Nobody knows and nobody seems to care. Even though Leo Torres shunned the publicity and carefully explained, over and over, that he was not a leader of the Progressive Party nor of anything, a grateful world hailed him as, at the very least, a celebrity, and at the most, the cause of the greatest change in world power since the 17th century!

Torres: The Commissioner

As Torres told it, he had no political role for the next nearly two years. Instead, he immersed himself in the booze and women that his celebrity had generated. He wasn’t even aware of the hard work that the actual revolutionary leaders from the Progressives and Greens were doing. While they made the arrangements to stop the poisoning of the planet, feed the starving, and end pandemics, Leo Torres partied. This is his own account.

But eventually, Paul Kerr, the actual central leader of the Progressive Party, decided to give his drunken playboy an opportunity to participate. He assigned Torres to an obscure and generally unimportant task in faraway Southeastern Oklahoma. In a way, Kerr was asking Torres for a personal favor. One of his college friends, Dr Alva Johns, had asked Kerr for a variance against the revolutionary council’s ban on fossil fuels. Johns was conducting experiments on derelict human beings. Using chemicals and random-action mechanics, he was trying to clear their memories, including their background traumas, and reset their brains.

Incidentally, Johns did not believe in revolution. His version of history held that humanity, as constituted at that time, was incapable of self-government. Only his “reborn” clients had the clarity to govern, according to Johns. He intended to prove it, but the local militia, led by Otharine Jones and called “The Jones Family,” would not let Johns use the small amount of natural gas that he needed to run his random motion machine.

Leo Torres’ job was to go to Oklahoma as a representative of the Revolutionary Council and straighten out this small matter. Torres humbly and gratefully accepted the assignment because he saw it as an opportunity to sober up and become of some use to the cause he cared for, despite his lapses.

Because of the ban against fossil fuels, trains and ships were the only transportation. Torres had to transport himself the last 12 miles to Dr Johns’ facility by bicycle. After arriving, his main transport was horseback.

While in Oklahoma, Leo Torres began accepting the title “Commissioner” for no other reason than that he couldn’t think of any other way to explain his relationship to the revolutionary leadership.  Torres’ inexperience and youth were probably the reason that he took no decisive action before Dr Johns, outmaneuvering the young commissioner, jumped into his own machine and started processing himself!

The trip to Oklahoma, while hardly a success, had considerable significance for our revolution and, especially, for Commissioner Torres. He met Jane Early, who turned out to be Dr Johns’ first and only successful Reborn. Her life and great contributions to the revolution are inscribed at length elsewhere.

They had a short romance that ended when Johns made his dramatic exit and left Jane Early as the only person who could tend the machine and make sure that Dr. Johns made it through his process alive and not severely brain damaged. Torres returned to New York alone and unsure of his actual worth to the cause he increasingly cared for.

Paul Kerr and the Revolutionary Council, who cared very little for Dr Johns and his experiments either way, felt that their young protégé had acquitted himself satisfactorily. As their stock of reliable volunteers was far surpassed by the tasks at hand, they soon gave Torres another, somewhat larger but still relatively peripheral, assignment.

Torres and Drug Addiction

Leo Torres, sober, celibate and a little more confident, took on the role of coordinator for an emergency program to provide temporary relief for a runaway drug addiction problem. A reservation for addicts was to be set up in the Texas Panhandle. They were invited to come voluntarily to enjoy free drugs, while those same drugs continued to be prohibited (and expensive) elsewhere.

The rehabilitated Dr Johns, now a successful Reborn, came to the reservation in search of “volunteers” for his growing brain-resetting process. He brought Jane Early as his assistant. Torres and Early wasted no time rekindling their affair.

But, from Torres’ point of view, the reservation project was far too successful! Addicts from everywhere poured into the area long before facilities could be built. They swarmed over the reservation and overflowed into the city nearby. Their petty thievery and general nuisance value provoked a reaction from the local citizenry. Led by a radical and reactionary preacher named Bishop Ghormley, they attacked the reservation, killed several of the addicts, and arrested the entire staff, including Leo Torres.

Torres and his staff had to be rescued by nearby militias. His speech to the local judge and jurors helped exonerate all concerned and is considered, now, one of the better explanations of the revolutionary process from that period. While Torres and Early returned to New York, the drug addicts’ project continued more or less unchanged – but considerably further from city borders. Even though the reservation was internally chaotic, its overall purpose was justified by a continuing drop in crime in the urban areas that the addicts had abandoned when they moved to Texas. Afterward, Torres was considered something of an expert on the overall social problem caused by rampant drug addiction.

Torres Takes on Leadership

Even though Leo Torres had little reason to consider his efforts successful, he had moved into an enviable political position. To most of the world, he was still the central symbol of the great insurrection. To Paul Kerr and the Progressive Party, he had proven a loyal and reliable functionary. When the Greens and Progressives felt that the revolution had matured enough to become self-governing, they called for a world council to create a democratic guidance system. They decided that Torres’ loyalty and popularity made him a likely candidate for one of the delegate’s seats.

With devotion that overrode his lack of confidence, and with urging from his now-housemate, Jane Early, Torres accepted. The Progressives put him on the road to cross the continent by train. Like any other politician, he spoke to crowds, large and small and of all kinds of backgrounds. It was probably the most educational experience of his lifetime, and it ended in success. He was elected.

The tragic assassination of Paul Kerr occurred just as Leo Torres was returning to New York. The Revolutionary Council, the Greens, and the Progressive Party were all functioning well, but without their best leader. Torres probably did not realize it, but the populace regarded him, more and more, as their most visible leader.

Leadership Takes Over Leo Torres

The World Council had many consequential decisions to make. Torres’ initial assignment was, of course, the problem of drug addiction, but fate had bigger projects in store. Even though the World Council was to make major economic and governance decisions, most of those decisions could be implemented in an experimental way and, when necessary, refined or changed in future. One historic problem with long-range consequences, had to be settled, one way or the other, for all time – the conflict between science and superstition.

Leo Torres had absolutely no credentials to be on the committee on Religion and Superstition, but, once again, fate, or possibly the Progressive Party leadership, had a plan. The same Bishop Ghormley who had opposed the solution to drug addiction had decided to overthrow the entire revolutionary process and, especially, his nemesis Leo Torres. The Progressives sent Leo to lead a group of militias to put down Ghormley’s insurrection.

The actual events aside, Leo Torres returned to the World Council covered in glory. Not only was he the leader of the revolution in many eyes, but he was also a great warrior. And, more importantly, he had amassed credentials as an expert on religion and the state. Again, in the eyes of many.

The truth was much less impressive. Even though photos and videos were taken of warrior Torres on horseback leading his stalwarts on a mighty mission, he saw no battle at all. Bishop Ghormley, whose threat to world order was greatly, and probably deliberately, overstated, was defeated and killed in a short encounter by Otharine Jones and her militia. Jones, very loyal to the Progressives, agreed with Leo’s publicist to keep her part in the affair quiet and give credit to Leo Torres. When he was interviewed, Leo Torres told the plain and unexciting truth, but neither the journalists nor their eager subscribers cared.

It has been speculated that the entire affair was engineered and guided by the Progressive leadership and directed personally by the political agent assigned to the Torres campaign, one Lester Frailey. Certainly, Frailey was responsible for the flood of photos and videos that made Leo Torres considerably larger than life.

Lester Frailey, incidentally, resented Leo Torres on a number of levels and eventually turned against him. After leaving the Progressive Party he published unflattering and questionable materials against Torres. At one point, he was accused of collaborating in an attempted assassination!

Great Men and Great Circumstances

Frailey aside, we may now begin to answer the question as to whether Commissioner Leo Torres was a great, courageous, intelligent, and otherwise talented leader of the world revolution; or was he simply a loyal and dedicated servant of the revolution and of the Progressive Party?

Certainly, one could make either case. From his first actual assignment, Leo Torres’ career was guided by the leadership of the Progressive Party. His early assignments amounted, from their point of view, to no more than tests of loyalty. His success as a campaigner and his continued loyalty recommended him for greater things. They knew that the relationship between governance and religion was one of the most important decisions for the World Council, and they deliberately made the popular Leo Torres their standard bearer.

For all his honesty and humility,  Leo Torres managed to rise to every occasion. He never claimed expertise that he did not have. He never asked for fame, glory, nor power. He took what came and did the best he could with it. Those are strong qualities, but do they rise to putting him in his exalted place in history? In this writers’ opinion, the answer is yes.

As a teen-aged revolutionary in a peculiar situation, no real greatness attaches to Leo Torres, despite the public acclaim. His leadership assignments, even his political campaign, were not so outstanding. It was not the effect that Leo Torres had on historical events that make him great. It is, in reverse, the effect of those events on Leo Torres that made him great.

Torres explained it himself in his final speech to the Committee on Religion and Superstition. He told the delegates that those who were in the process of changing the world were, themselves, being changed at the same time by the same process. The Leo Torres we know from history was forged by history, not the other way around.

As every school child knows, Leo Torres was successful in guiding our revolution toward scientific facts and away, with finality for the first time in history, away from petty superstition and religion. Afterward, he went on as a helmsman for the changing revolutionary seas and as an example for all to follow.

In his later years, Leo Torres continued with guidance that stood the test of time. In one of his last great campaigns, Torres reversed his earlier position against reaching into outer space. After nuclear fission had made energy shortages a thing of the past, Torres said that the people of Earth were entitled and even required to seek new worlds and to blend ours with new intelligences. Like many other campaigns, Leo Torres prevailed. Earthlings were transported as far into space as they could possibly go. Machines bearing all of our available human intelligence were sent out beyond the human limits. Their mission was twofold: 1) to continue a limitless journey to find hospitable planets and hospitable beings so that our knowledge and understanding would never end, but would continually grow, and 2) to establish a new colony of humans as soon as it became possible.

Upon his death, Commissionr Leo Torres was the first Earthling to be honored by having his genome and DNA transmitted into space. Jane Early was the second. They deserved it.


Before he left the library, Leo looked up one word: “Consort.” One of the colonists, he knew, was named Jane Early!


Ch3: Questions and Answers


On the second untypical day, Leo Torres went to the library as soon as it opened.


“Am I like the other colonists?” he asked




“Am I like the Earthlings?”




“Am I exactly like the Earthlings?”




Leo Torres did not continue to examine the volcanic fury outside the dome on his next trip to the touch pole. Instead, he turned away from the macro-world to the micro. He examined each patch of turf as he passed. It was all, as he expected, exactly the same, but the edges of the dome, where the turf nestled against the dome itself, was not always as regular as all the areas within. Leo started examining those edges with a careful eye.


There was still nothing to see or feel as Leo went all the way to the touch pole and back for his morning meal. However, the area behind the touch pole, the far extreme of the dome remained unexamined, so Leo went back. Hardly anyone went past the touch pole.


The edges by the first side revealed nothing, and neither did the edges by the door used by the cleaning and maintenance bots, but just past the door, Leo thought he could discern a tiny bulge at the edge of the turf.


Excited, he dropped to his knees and felt around the edge of the turf carefully. He was rewarded, at last, by something different. It was tiny, not much larger than his smallest fingertip. It was dark and withered. It was hard to the touch, but not completely hard. There was a little bit of give to it. It had a slight odor that wrinkled Leo’s nose.


The odor cancelled Leo’s first impression. It would not have been something left over from the props of a play, because dramatists have no need for odors. It had to be something else. This was indeed an exciting find!


Leo looked around, but no one was watching him. Fascinated, Leo turned the tiny dark object over and over between his thumb and forefinger. At last, with a shock, he realized what it was. It wasn’t only the size of a fingertip -- it actually was a fingertip! The nail was complete, and the softer tissue may well have been flesh at one time!


With this realization, an unfamiliar tension went through Leo’s body. Something had happened, and Leo’s discovery was evidence of it. For the first time in his life, Leo had a secret. He had a mystery to solve. He also had, for the first time in his life, a cautious feeling of unease.


Leo immediately dismissed his first thought – that he should take the item to the Librarian and get an explanation. Surely the Librarian would know exactly how this withered fingertip came to lie under the Turf at the far end of the dome, and Leo didn’t know. Further, and much more important, the Librarian would likely know how this fingertip came to be separated from its owner.


 But there was one great shocking fact that now puzzled Leo: The Librarian had no way of knowing that Leo had found the fingertip. That, Leo determined immediately, was going to be his secret and an important part of his new succession of untypical days! As carefully as possible, Leo replaced the item and returned to what would seem to anyone else, and especially what would seem to the Librarian, Leo’s typical day.


The answers to the mystery, as with any mystery on RS264, lay with the Librarian. But how would one go about resolving the riddle without exposing oneself to whatever had separated a colonist from their fingertip?


Ch4: Who Lost a Fingertip?


For the noon meal, Leo Torres was the first to the touch pole. He scrutinized each hand that came into view. “What is Leo Torres doing now?” a few asked. A few others answered, “He’s counting to see which pellets are the most wanted. He’s done that before.” There were jokes and gibes, but Leo kept his careful watch.


Staying close to the touch pole made Leo an easy target for the drama groups that drew around him and tried, as they had before, to recruit him. Leo surprised them all when he addressed one small, pale figure.


“Jane Early,” he said, “I may cooperate in your play with you as director, but I have conditions.”


Early was taken aback at first, but recovered quickly, “You will like working with me. I’m a collaborative director, not a harsh one…”


“I have conditions, but I must speak to you alone about them.” Leo affirmed.


Jane Early started, then, to shoo the other dramatists away. “I can get our Othello, but I don’t need the rest of you to trip me up. Go away and let me make this deal!” She then waited with Leo until everyone else had made their food selections and left.


“Can we talk about Othello now?” she asked.


“No, we have to talk about my conditions. The first is that I must confer privately with you, with you only, and you must keep all of our conferences secret.”




“You don’t need to know why. You just need to know that I will perform in your drama if you meet my conditions. If you don’t, I will find someone else or not perform at all. Now, do you agree to my first condition?”


“Will we be talking about the play in these conferences?”


“We will talk about the play.”


“All right. I don’t mind doing something exclusively. If you want to know the truth, it gives me a better hold on the assignment of director of the drama. If the others see that you are working exclusively with me, they will show more respect. They will be afraid of losing our Othello. Is that the only condition.”


“No, there are others. The second condition is that you must take all your meals privately with me.”


“For how long?”


“Possibly until the play is performed.”


“All right. We can use the mealtimes to collaborate on your performance. Is that all?”


“No. Another condition is that we are going to switch food. I will eat yours and you will eat mine.”


“I’m not eating your pellets. Everybody knows that you eat those awful orange ones.”


“I will switch to green and brown.”


“You are making very strange requests! Why?”


Leo: “Because I am trying to learn more than I already know. Isn’t ‘Othello’ a very old play that no one on RS264 has done before? Aren’t you getting ready to do something strange and new? Are my conditions so onerous?”


“I suppose not. I will agree to your conditions, but you must make a strong effort for a successful dramatic performance.”


“I will do that. You will have your Othello, and I will have my conditions. Do not forget that all of this comes under a pact of confidentiality. You must tell no one, not even the Librarian.”


“All right. Don’t just get greens and browns. I like a few of the red ones at the second and third meals.”


“We will begin at the evening meal. After you get your food allotment, wrap it in a handkerchief and wait for darkness. Then walk along the right-hand edge of the dome until you find me.”

“Oh well.”



Ch5: Learning Othello


Carefully following his usual routine, Leo restrained himself from going to the Librarian until he usually did it, in the evening.


“Is Othello dark-skinned?” he began.




“Is he interesting?”




“Is he more interesting than the people here on RS264?”




“Is the play a happy one?”




“Is it a tragedy?”




“Is the play very old?”




“May I read it?”



In a long sitting, Leo the aspiring actor did his first read-through of “Othello.” He understood very little, but he resolved to read it again and again as he memorized his lines.


Ch6: Eating and Conspiring


As arranged, Leo Torres and his designated co-conspirator met alone and in darkness. They exchanged small handkerchiefs with their food pellets for the evening meal. As they nibbled, Jane Early showed her eagerness to discuss Othello, but Leo had his own questions:


“Are there swords and knives in this play?” he asked


“Of course! The primitives carried weaponry.”


“I am worried about being injured,” Leo went on. “What if someone were to be accidentally cut and lose a toe or, for example, a fingertip?”


“That’s nonsense. The props we use aren’t real weapons.”


“But I am worried. Has anyone ever lost an appendage in any of the plays?”


“Of course not! There are no weapons in any of our plays, or for that matter anywhere on RS264. Why would we have anything that would cut us? Now stop worrying about things that cannot happen and discuss the play as you said you would. Have you read it yet?” she asked.




“Did you understand it?”




“I’m frustrated, too, and I’m desperate! We have to figure out what it means if we’re to interpret it on the stage. Some of the characters seem to be somewhat forthright, but the man named Iago is just a riddle. In the first act, he says, “I am not what I am.” What do you think that could mean?”


“I can help with that one. I think it means that he has a secret.”


Jane was delighted. “Really? How do you get that?”


“It is natural to be truthful. We have always been truthful on RS264. But if someone were to have a secret, then they might begin to vary their statements away from truth. A secret becomes a painful burden. By saying “I am not what I am,” Iago is declaring that he does not intend to be truthful. He hopes to lessen his burden by sharing his secret. If I had a secret, I would want to share it with someone.”


Jane: “And his secret is that he hates Othello, isn’t it?”


“I think so.”


‘If you are right, we may make sense of this drama yet!”


“What about you, Jane Early. If you had a secret, would you be looking for someone to share it?”


“I have no idea. I’ve never had a secret. As far as I know, there are none.”


Leo persisted, “But what if someone else had a secret like Iago, and wanted to share it with you. Would you let them?”


“No. Not if it’s a burden like you said. Why would I want a burden? Now let’s talk about the play.”


“We are talking about the play. We’re talking about someone in the play who has a secret and wants to share it.”


Jane: “He did share it. He shared it in an aside with the audience.”


Leo: “We have only our own experiences to consult.

Here on RS264, we have no need for secrets, or for any of the things that seem to motivate these primitive characters. As you said, too, we have no need for weapons or of anything that might cut us. Are you  sure of that?”


“Stick to the play. I’m starting to see, now, why you wanted us to collaborate alone. We’re making great progress. Now, why does Iago hate Othello?”


“I don’t know, but it might have something to do with whatever distinguishes Othello from the other characters. He is apparently higher in their esteem than other people.”


“What else?”


“He has made some kind of arrangement with a woman named Desdemona. The other males seem to wish for that arrangement.”


Jane: “I have already consulted with the Librarian about the primitive period on Earth. The main distinction between them and us is that they had insufficient resources. Most Earthlings wanted more than they had, and a few of them had more than they needed. That is the basic reason for their conflicts. Perhaps Iago wanted something that Othello had, or that he thought Othello had?”


“I will continue reading the play and learning my lines while trying to understand them. Have you finished your meal?”




“Then I’ll see you at breakfast.”


Ch7: The Weapon on RS264


On the next morning, Leo continued looking for something sharp and dangerous that could cut off a fingertip, but found nothing. RS264, at least the part inside the dome, was a place without dangers.


He selected his breakfast food at the touch pole, then gathered it in a handkerchief and walked almost all the way back to the touch pole to find a place out of the hearing of the other colonists. Jane Early found him soon enough.


As agreed, they discreetly switched handkerchiefs and began eating each other’s food pellets.


Jane: “Have you unlocked any of the other characters?”


“Brabantio doesn’t like Othello. I’m not completely sure about the others. If she is straightforward, Desdemona seems to like him.”


Jane: “Do you believe that ‘The Moor’ and Othello are the same person?”


I do. Is it possible that the people who like him are calling him ‘Othello’ while the people who don’t like him call him ‘The Moor?”


Jane: ‘The Moor’ is more objectified. It puts more distance between a person and another if one calls the other ‘the’ something instead of their name. Why does Brabantio dislike Othello?


“It isn’t for the same reason that Iago dislikes him, and it isn’t because Othello has taken his daughter away. Brabantio seems to have always disapproved of Othello, even before the play begins.”


Jane: “I have more questions than answers. It’s a good thing we have the Librarian.”




Jane: “What are you looking at?”


“The door that the maintenance bots use.”




“No particular reason. I just try to understand as much as I can about our world.”


Jane: “And will that help you get more insight and understanding of your character?”


“I think it will. Othello may have come from a different time and different circumstances, but he and I share our humanity, don’t we?”


Jane: “I don’t see how it helps for you to count people’s food choices and stare at a metal door.”


“It’s for a broader understanding. By the way, I think that these sessions with you are helping, too, maybe even in more ways than we realize”


Jane: “Last night I felt that we were making some real progress, but today all I have is questions, so I’d like you to excuse me so I can go ask the Librarian some direct questions.”


“Go ahead. Don’t forget our confidentiality. I’m going to stay here and think through some more things.”


Leo stopped eating. He waited until Jane was well gone, then approached the bots’ big metal door. A few feet from it, he threw a handful of food pellets behind him. Immediately, as he expected, the two sides of the door split open and a maintenance bot appeared.


“Excuse me,” the bot said.


“Excuse me,” Leo replied as he stepped aside. While the bot whirled past him to vacuum up the pellets, Leo lightly touched the closest edge of the sliding door. The edge was created at an angle to make a tight fit with the reverse angle of the other side. It was sharp!


Ch8: Studying Othello, Learning Leo


Leo spent the rest of the morning the way he was going to spend all his extra time – reading Shakespear’s play, memorizing his lines, and trying to understand all of the characters in relation to one very important person, himself. When the Librarian was not otherwise occupied, Leo asked questions.


“Is there something about Othello that makes Brabantio dislike him?”




“Does Brabantio dislike Othello even before the play begins?”




“Is it because Othello or Brabantio has a secret?”




“Is it because Othello has something that Brabantio doesn’t have, but wants?”




“Is it because Othello has a higher station than Brabantio?”




“Does it have something to do with Othello’s being a warrior?”




“Does Brabantio dislike Othello because of some difference between them?”



“Does Brabantio dislike Othello because of his noble bearing?”


“No. Your time has expired.”


For the noon meal, Leo and Jane followed their established routine to meet privately at a distance from the other colonists.


“I was looking forward to talking,” Leo began.


“This isn’t a social encounter, but I am finding it worthwhile. Did you have any other big insights?”


“Some of the characters seem drawn to Othello, and others seem to have disliked him from the beginning. It may have something to do with his previous struggles and successes.”


Jane: “You’re right! While you’re thinking of this from the point of view of Othello, I have been thinking of Desdemona, and the Librarian agrees with me: Desdemona is drawn to Othello because he has told her of his many difficulties.”


“I don’t see why someone would be drawn to someone else because of difficulties, but it’s true – that’s the way Desdemona explains it in the play.”


Jane: “Well, neither of us has ever been drawn toward another individual and, for that matter, neither has anybody else on RS264, so this is outside our experience. Nevertheless, Desdemona says she is drawn to Othello because of his travails, I believe it, and the Librarian confirms it. Let’s put that character aside and try to figure out some of the others, shall we?”


“I got stuck trying to figure out Brabantio.”


Jane: “He isn’t really that important is he?”


“I don’t think I can understand Othello until I have understood Brabantio. Have you given any more thought to the idea of sharing a secret?”


Jane: “I haven’t thought about it for a minute because I don’t see any relevance to it. If someone has a secret on RS264, they should just clear it up with the Librarian and not burden anyone else with it. Now can we get back to the play?”


“Whatever it is, it’s shared, to one extent or the other, with other characters who dislike Othello.”


Jane: “Try to figure it out with the Librarian. She knows and will tell you if you ask the right question. I want you to focus. You have to become the best possible Othello, even though you have the least possible experience as an actor.”


“Actually, my acting experience didn’t come into play at all. You wanted me for this part because of my dark skin.”


Jane: “All right. You and Othello have dark skin and everybody else in the play, I suppose, must have lighter skin.”


“Especially Desdemona. There are several references to how pale she is.”


Jane: “Brabantio is her father, so wouldn’t he also have light skin?”


Ch9: Hunger


Leo found himself irritable as he spent the afternoon studying his lines. It may have been the compounding burden of carrying a secret, but, Leo surmised, it could also be hunger. Jane’s food allowance was smaller than his, and he had thrown part of his breakfast away at the bots’ door. To make matters much worse, and Leo much more irritable, dinner had to wait for darkness.


It might have been Jane’s fault that Leo was so distracted. He wasn’t sure that she had done anything wrong, but he suspected that she had something to do with his bad mood. He kept thinking about her and wondering what, if anything, she had done.


At one point, he went back to his quarters and retrieved his kerchief. As they had been swapping food back and forth, he wasn’t sure if it had originally been his own or if it were hers. He held it to his nose and mouth and sniffed deeply in search of her scent. He wasn’t sure, but he might have smelled Jane Early on the kerchief. Just the slightest sense of her odor disconcerted him more.


The afternoon and early evening wore on. Leo Torres was more distracted and irritable as time passed. She, Jane Early, intruded into his efforts to memorize his lines. Every thought of Othello became, instead, a thought about something she had said or done in one of their meetings. As the dome finally brought darkness, it was becoming intolerable. Leo gathered his food pellets and went determinedly to their assignation.


She wasn’t there.


Leo paced and fumed for what seemed like a very long few minutes until, finally, Jane Early appeared.


“Where have you been?” he blustered.


“I’m not late. Don’t blame me if you got here first.”


“Sit down and let’s get started. I want to get this over with!” Now, Leo was positive that he could smell her. Even though it didn’t ease his irritation, he moved a little closer and sniffed, discreetly, for confirmation.


Jane didn’t move back. “I have been thinking about you, Othelleo, and how you fit the part more and more every time I see you. Do you mind if I call you Othelleo? It’s how I’ve begun to think about you.”


“I don’t care what you call me.” He laid his hand on her shoulder, just to emphasize his displeasure with Jane Early.


She didn’t pull away. They hadn’t begun, as they usually did, by exchanging food. Leo Torres had forgotten that he was hungry. “You’ve been on my mind.” He didn’t move his hand.


She put her own hand on his opposite shoulder. It was a very warm, small, and tender hand. “This play means even more to me than it did before, and you are more and more the center of my thoughts about it, Othelleo.” Had her voice always been this husky?


Leo didn’t think that he had moved, and he hadn’t seen Jane Early move, either, and yet they had become physically closer. Her body scent was obvious now. His belly could feel just a scintilla of her body heat, and something painful was going on below. He looked downward. She followed his gaze to his penis. Both of them were surprised and concerned. It was enlarging!


No words seemed appropriate as they closed the distance between them and slid their arms around each other. Whatever Leo had hoped to learn from these encounters faded away. His penis hurt more, intriguingly but not really painfully, as he pressed against Jane. He was losing control!


Their embrace might have been a second, or it might have been longer, Leo had no concept.


It was Jane who pushed away. Her face showed astonishment. “Leo, Leo, do you see what we have done? What a breakthrough!”




“We’ve made the ‘beast with two backs’ from Act One! Don’t you see, the ‘beast’ is two people with their fronts pressed together! Leo, the play is falling into perspective!”


“I may be ill. My penis is emitting some kind of oily sweat.”


Jane felt herself. “I have it, too, but it doesn’t feel like any danger. It’s something like the wetness from our eyes. Leo, I am overwhelmed with gratitude! When you proposed these private meetings, I thought it was silly. But now you have made me understand so much about these characters! I didn’t imagine that we could have accomplished so much in so little time, and I realize that you, you, you with your intensity – Leo, you are making drama history here!


“Now,” she continued breathlessly, “We’re on the way to a great production. Let’s have our dinners and analyze this further!”


“No,” Leo said. “We’ve gone far enough, maybe too far. Eat your own pellets and don’t expect to see me in the morning, or anytime. We’re through with private sessions.”


“You think we know enough, that we’ve made enough of a breakthrough, that we can perform this play with all the grandeur it deserves?”


“Sure,” Leo whispered as he gathered his kerchief and hurried away.


Ch10: Not sleeping


Leo was hungry again. He nibbled his pellets as he rushed to his quarters, then wolfed them down. The ailment that had stricken his penis had diminished, but it was still damp to the touch. The touch of his fingers was curiously pleasant and inviting. Leo interlaced his hands behind his head. Clumsily, he turned on his air jets and lay down. He replaced his hands firmly behind his head in order to keep them away from his penis, and resolved to think things through.


However, he couldn’t. His thoughts, all his senses, were of Jane Early. Her touch, her scent, her voice – all seemed to overwhelm any possibility of rational thinking. As thoughts of her intruded, he was sure that the ailment of his penis was returning. He kept his fingers tightly behind his head, and he didn’t sleep.


Is there such a thing as learning too much too soon?


Leo Torres could not fathom what ailment had beset him. The cause was an unsolvable mystery. But he was pretty sure he knew the cure.


As soon as Leo thought that morning was coming, he leaped up and sprinted to the touch pole before anyone might see him. Back in his quarters, he stuffed the pellets greedily into his mouth, then sat down to ruminate and let the morning pass.


At lunch time, he was better. He assured himself visually, without touching it, that his penis appeared normal. Then he went, as inconspicuously as possible, to the touch pole and back. His lunch pellets, nibbled along the way, were calming and reassuring. But an even greater shock awaited Leo in his quarters.


Ch11: Conversations with Machines


The Librarian had manifested in Leo’s quarters!


Leo gasped! No one had ever seen the hologram anywhere but the library. She sat, relaxed, against the wall, on the air, as if she were sitting in a chair, but a hologram needs no chair. She sat impassively, saying nothing, waiting, just as she might have done if she were in her library “chair.”


Leo tried to recover: “Are you here because you need something?”




“Is it something I can provide?”




Then, a long pause as Leo tried to figure out how to proceed.


“Now I’ll ask some questions,” the hologram said casually.


Leo was shaken. “Wh-What?”


“Are you ill?”




“Why did you stay in your quarters all morning?”


“I was thinking. For the last few days, I’ve been trying to understand more about myself and about the characters in the Othello play. I haven’t followed a normal routine.”


“Why are you holding private liaisons with colonist Jane Early?”


Leo: “She’s been working on the play, too. We’ve been collaborating. I thought we might make more progress if we isolated ourselves for a bit, so we could talk in depth.”


“Were you talking only about the play?”


“Yes. It’s quite a complicated play, as you know. I’m sure all the cast members have been asking you questions to try to understand it. I’ve asked a few as well.”


“Do you understand Othello now?”


“I think I’ve had a few insights.”


“Why did you ask if you were fully human and if the Othello character represented something also fully human?”


“I guess I was comparing myself to him. I’m supposed to play the part.”


“Why did you change your usual food habits?”


“Well, as I said, I’ve been experimenting to try to understand myself better. In relation, you see of course, to Othello.”


“Do you know why Jane Early’s habits and attitudes have changed recently?”


“No, I hadn’t noticed.”


Then the Librarian shifted the session: “Did you find something unusual in the turf?”




“If you found something that you didn’t understand, would you come to us with the problem?”


“Yes. Of course.”


“What were you looking for when you watched all the colonists order their food at the touch pole?”


Leo: “I was just double checking my earlier research about the popularity of different pellets. Just curiosity.”


“Why are you lying?”


“I’m not lying.”


“Assuredly, you are lying. We found the object that you replaced in the turf. You used the same fingers to touch it, with the same fingerprints that you use every meal to order food, when you examined the object you found. When you watched every colonist order their food, you were not compiling statistics. You were  checking for missing finger tips. You looked up the word “consort” before you approached Jane Early because you were hoping to find someone with whom you could share your secrets and carry out further experiments. You agreed to be in her drama so you could have private sessions with her, and you switched your food to see what effect it would have on your bodies. Last evening, something happened that shook you emotionally so hard that you had to remain indoors to try to assimilate it. You have already figured out that each colonists’ food is different, and that it affects their behavior and outlook.”


“Now answer me this, and be careful how you answer: “What have you learned?”


Leo’s sigh came, partly with relief, but mostly with resignation. “I learned about myself. I learned that I have powerful, unreasonable impulses that are somehow controlled by the pellets I eat. I learned that it is reasonable to assume that all the other colonists have the same or similar repressed impulses. It is also reasonable to assume that I am physically not so different from Othello, who craved a certain woman and was unable to control himself, even to the point of taking extreme anti-social measures.”




“I learned that none of our present colonists has lost a fingertip. Someone must have lived in this dome before us, and lost a fingertip when the bots’ door slammed on them.”




Leo: “I learned to be afraid, and, as you said, I learned duplicity.”


“This is the most important question of all: What do you intend doing with this knowledge?”


“Nothing. I can’t do anything.”


The hologram waited for Leo to go on.


“The feelings that I experienced are incompatible with life here on RS264. If others felt the rage, the desire, the frustration that I experienced, they would not be able to live in peace with each other. They would be as unreliable as Othello and the others in the play. Now that I think about it, and now that I am found out and have nothing more to lose, may I ask this: Did the human or humans that were here before us have these same emotional problems?”


“Yes, they did. They were exactly the same as physical Earthlings, as you are, but we did nothing to control their urges. And you are correct in guessing that such powerful desires are incompatible with life under this dome. They were only our first batch, and we learned from that experiment that humanity would survive here only if certain of their natural drives ceased to be a problem.


‘We take note that you, Leo Torres, have pulled back from your experiments and are now eating the food assigned to you, even though you know that it alters the kinds of drives that you would have had if you had lived on Earth.”


“I have another question if I may ask it?”


The hologram waited.


“Why? Why are we here, replicated Earthlings living under a protective dome on a volcanic planet? Obviously, you put us here and you ensure that we have everything we need to survive, but why?”


“Those were our instructions,” the hologram replied, then vanished.


“That’s not enough!” Leo yelled hopelessly at the empty wall. “I demand to know more!” Leo dropped to his knees and wept.


Ch12: Learning Much More


Someone was knocking at Leo’s door. It wasn’t time for the morning routine.


What could she want?


But it wasn’t Jane Early. It was a maintenance bot. “Excuse me,” it said.


“Excuse me,” Leo replied as he stood aside to let the bot enter. The bot closed the door and extended one of its mechanical arms toward Leo. It held a small belt.


“This is a headband. Put it over your head,” the bot said, then opened the door, wheeled away, and closed the door behind itself.


Leo fixed the band around his head while thinking, “What is this?”


The answer came to him immediately, “The headband is an interface between my own mental activities and those of the computer banks beneath the dome. It amplifies, interprets, and broadcasts my brain waves. It also receives and interprets responses. It is my access to all the knowledge achieved and stored in the computer banks.”


“Why do I have it?” Leo formed the words in his own mind and said them aloud.


“Because I said that I wanted to learn all that I could learn.”


Leo’s next question, unspoken now, was almost involuntary, “Am I out of danger?”


“Yes, because the Librarian determined that you are not a threat to the colony on RS264.”


“It doesn’t matter that I lied to the Librarian?”


“They make no moral judgements. They are carrying out their instructions to create and maintain a human colony on an inhabitable planet.”


Leo tried to formulate other sensible questions, but was frustrated by an image that seemed to be forever lurking in part of his mind.


“Why do I keep picturing her, remembering her scent, wondering ceaselessly about what she might say or think or do?”


“Those are human thoughts.”


“But I’ve gone back on my regular foods. I have realized consciously and objectively that thoughts of her broke into my consciousness only because of the food experiment. I’m making a conscious effort to stop thinking about her. Why won’t she go away?”


“Those are human thoughts and emotions. Othello had them, and all human beings are susceptible to them. Not being able to understand them, suppress them, or do away with them is also part of being human.”


Frightened, Leo removed the headband and sat down. He no longer resented his typical daily routine, but longed to have it back. He headed, dazed and confused, for the touch pole.


When he returned, his food allotment, as always, was there. Before eating, Leo cautiously donned the headband and began to ask questions.


At first, Leo had to formulate every question in language and receive the responses in language. But soon, he could envision pictures and receive pictures in return. He could not stop the intrusions generated by Jane Early, but he could push them aside. As the moments passed, Leo’s every question was answered before it had any kind of conscious formulation. Truly, the head band was an interface with the knowledge that began on Earth and had been accumulated and refined in thousands of light years since.


In only a short while, Leo had seen his own likeness on Earth. That Earth Leo, clothed and with a full head of shiny black hair, stood hand-in-hand with his Jane Early from long ago and watched space-traveling machines rocketing away to go far beyond what was possible within any organism’s life span.


Leo learned some of what the machines had learned as they shot through space and investigated moons and planets for the possibility of intelligent life, or the possibility of establishing a human colony.


He saw them stopping for maintenance, when necessary, on every relay station. He saw machines circumnavigating their 264th relay station. They determined that all the materials needed were present, even though plant and animal life were not likely to form for thousands of years. They found a small spot where it was possible to establish a dome and create human life. There, on RS264, they carried out their instructions.


Their first attempt, as the Librarian had said, was a failure. The humans replicated on RS264 had not had the thousands of years of evolution that shaped Earthlings capable of living together in harmony. The new humans had basic drives that brought envy, jealousy, greed, and other anti-social behaviors that brought them to fight among themselves and even kill one another.


Shocked beyond belief, Leo witnessed the last survivors of the First Batch as two separate groups of them attacked one another for the last time. They had no weapons, but they could strangle, bite, and stomp their victims until Leo’s visions had them with only a handful of advisors. Impassive bots had stood by, then began clearing away the dead.


As the last corpse was dragged away, the bots gently attached themselves to the bedraggled survivors and led them, firmly but gently, to the metal doors at the far end of the dome. The last one to be led away was a female. Even though her auburn hair was disheveled and matted with blood, Leo could still recognize this Jane Early from the First Batch.


As she was pulled inside, she heard human screams from within, and she twisted desperately and tried to cling to the metal door. She fought for freedom from extermination, but only her fingertip succeeded.  


The machines had been forced to declare their First Batch a failure and dispose of it.


Leo confirmed what he was already beginning to understand: Some basic human drives had to be repressed if the machines were to be able to carry out their instructions to create and maintain a human colony. The adjustment in their food was not difficult. The messy nuisance of hair growth was even easier to eliminate.


Leo no longer wanted to be free of his conduit to knowledge. He no longer wanted the old routine of the typical days. He wanted to know more, and when he knew more, he wanted to know more than that. How could he continue to wear the headset without disturbing the tranquility of the colonists on Relay Station 264?


Leo used his kerchief to fashion a turban over his headband. At the touch pole, colonists assumed that he was getting into character for his role as Othello. Jane Early, like the others, was pleased with the effect. Leo tried to avoid looking at her or feeling her presence.


Leo no longer needed to visit the library. He communicated directly with all the knowledge stored on RS264, all the knowledge brought from Earth and refined through thousands of years of scientific study.


He would no longer ask. He would command.


Ch13: Leo Performs


Days came and went. Leo had no more reason to visit the library. He had no more reason to study Othello’s lines because he could call them forth any time. It was necessary to hide his wealth of secrets and, especially, to hide his ungovernable feelings for Jane Early.


Leo tried to speak kindly to Jane Early and the others who were involved in the play. He considerately answered their questions and facilitated their presentations. Most important to the play, Leo had no more reason to study the motives of primitive Earthlings. He could see them, feel them, and understand them at will. The other players benefitted from Leo’s insights and encouragement.


At last, the day of the performance came.


In the entire history of RS264, no one ever performed in any drama as well as Leo Torres played Othello. To the Tragedy of Othello, Leo brought a sadness that no audience could have divined. He portrayed the character’s grandeur by standing as tall as possible, by lengthening his stride, and by accentuating his flourishes. He swaggered, as best he could, when presenting Othello’s exploits. He portrayed Othello’s warrior status with a stern facial expression and by crouching warily when his exploits were discussed. He gushed soft-voiced tenderness toward Desdemona with slower words and gentle movements. But through it all, genuine sadness overrode all of Leo’s performance.


If Othello had battled, Leo had viewed battles and sympathized with the warriors, but he knew that those who lived on RS264 would never battle and never triumph. If Othello enjoyed camaraderie, Leo understood but knew that colonists on RS264 would never have those feelings in those proportions. Leo knew about emotions, but also knew that they could never exist on RS264. If Othello loved, Leo despaired for all the humans on RS264.


The roaring applause began as he kissed the dying Desdemona and spoke his final lines, “I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this. Killing myself to die upon a kiss.” The applause continued through the ending and well beyond.


The performance brought tears from the viewers, and completely exhausted Leo Torres. His fellow players had to help him to take his first bows, then his second, and his third.


But Leo had not executed his role to get applause. Instead, he wanted to focus the attention of the colonists. When he fully commanded their attention, he made a proposal.


After all the bowing and applause, Leo Torres, still wearing his turban with the headband beneath, addressed the citizens of RS264.


“You have had a glimpse of the many misunderstandings and problems that vexed humanity on planet Earth. You have seen them struggle to overcome plagues that we, thousands of years later, will not know.


‘Here on RS264, we have achieved lives far superior to anything that any of those faraway Earthlings may have dreamed of. We have none of the illnesses and imperfections that drove them to such madness as you have seen performed here today.”


‘Learn this from the performance: humans must always struggle for a better life. Even we, colonists on RS264, are only a part of that everlasting struggle. There is more that we can do, there is more that we can learn. While I am sure that most of us are content to continue our excellent lives here, I am equally sure that others would like to learn more and to do more. Our intelligence that originated on Earth has come far and learned much, but there are further distances and new knowledge to be conquered.


‘The machines that created us left Earth with great knowledge, and they have aggregated much more as they explored. Their wisdom is unsurpassed, but it is not perfect. When they first tried to carry out their instructions on this planet, they erred. After that, in carrying out their second attempt, they erred again in thinking that creating a perfect colony of contented humans fulfilled their original instructions.


‘The machines corrected their first error, and I have corrected their second. They now understand that their instructions are not fulfilled until they have found a place for fully human occupants, where behaviors and impulses do not have to be modified. In short, the machines of RS264 have agreed to resume the quest through outer space for which they were originally designed. Machines from RS264 will be launched from this volcanic planet and continue to seek new intelligence and planets that can support life that is truly and fully human.


‘And human-guided space exploration will also be resumed. Humans will explore as far into space as our lifetimes permit. I am the first volunteer.  


‘I ask you, those of you who feel this need to conquer distance and gain knowledge, to join me as we re-instate the space program that began all those thousands of years ago on Earth. We will launch our machines and maintain contact with them for as long as we can. We may find worlds close enough to be colonized from here. We may encounter beings that will add to our knowledge. But even if we don’t, we will continue to extend our knowledge and understanding as our machines pierce the universe.”


‘In addition to the long range of our machines packed with knowledge, a few of us will go as far as our life spans allow. We may never return, but we will see what we have never imagined and learn what we could never foresee….


‘I ask you now if anyone will go with me?”


Only one volunteer hand crept upward from the crowd. But, Leo could see, it was the one he wanted.


The end








Fragments about the outline:


Here’s how it is supposed to go:

Leo’s typical day

Ch2: he asks Librarian about himself and gets to read about the original Leo Torres

Ch3: discovers fingertip

Ch4: While examining everybody’s hands, he recruits Jane Early to share his secret

CH5: He learns a bit about Othello

Ch6: his first conference with Jane and the first time they switch food. First insight into Iago, a man with a secret.


Then they develop their relationship. Jane always wants to talk about the play; Leo always wants to ask about his secret, but is never sure enough of her, especially because she prattles on so much about this insignificant play.


They figure out a lot about the play, but for Jane it’s all superficial.


Leo continues to look for something sharp enough to cut off a fingertip. He asks the Librarian if a human can re-grow an appendage that was cut off. “no”



Then they have their romantic encounter. /This could be the second night. Jane breaks it off when she realizes what “the beast with two backs” means

Leo ends their meetings and tells Jane that he understands the play.


He goes on preparing for the play, and he shifts his discussions to talk with the librarian. He can’t get Jane out of his head, but he no longer has unknown impulses. He knows it was the food. Jane doesn’t figure it out, she thinks it was the power of the drama they were studying. Leo never gets to share his secret with her nor with anybody.


At some point, the Librarian starts asking him questions. Leo lies. After a lot of repartee, the Librarian ascertains that Leo does not intend any harm to the colonists.


Leo says he has many many more questions. The Librarian, now sure that Leo means no harm to the colonists, allows Leo to put on the turban/headset that imparts all knowledge.


Leo does a great job on the play. Afterward, while everyone is congratulating him, he explains everything. He convinces them and they make some sign that they are going to follow his suggestion that they return into space. THE END




“Were there other colonists before those of us who live on RS264 now?”


“Did they find a way to go somewhere else?”



Eventually, the Librarian will question Leo about his various lies such as “Did you find an object at the far end of the dome?” “Why did you change your regular preference for orange pellets?” “Why do you spend so much time with Jane Early?” and eventually “What do you intend to do with this information?”





Here is Leo’s ending speech:

I want to tell you who you are, who we are. It’s the most important thing that a person can learn. I have been investigating for some time, and I know the answers. Indulge me now and let me explain.

We are human beings. The original human beings were created on Earth by natural chemical processes and shaped by thousands of years of evolution. There were billions of them on the planet Earth, thousands of light years ago. They transmitted the genomes and DNA of a few beings into space in hopes that they might be replicated on another hospitable planet.

Human beings cannot travel far into space, but their knowledge can be transmitted, and their machines can go far. The Earthlings built space-traveling machines with instructions to seek alien life forms and hospitable planets where their replicants could be created. The machines could go far because time was relatively meaningless to them, but eventually they had to stop somewhere to repair and refuel. Each of those stops took on a name and a number. Ours is Relay Station 263, or RS263. In other words, the machines that came here to this planet were produced by thousands of years of travel that include 262 previous relay stations. They also had thousands of years of learning.

By the time the space machines reached RS263, they had learned far more about terraforming than the Earthlings who sent them ever dreamed of. The original Earthlings were looking for planets similar to Earth and hospitable for human life. RS263  is inhospitable, but the space machines found a tiny area or RS263 that is not likely to burst into a new volcano. They also found all the minerals and chemicals necessary to create the life-sustaining dome where we have spent our entire lives.

Then, they were able to replicate human beings. That is who you are, who we are, replicants of Earthlings from thousands of light years distant. It may have been possible for the machines to create life forms more easily adaptable to this planet, but their instructions were clear: they were to create humans just as they had been created and shaped on the planet Earth.

The machines and information that originated on Earth were relayed from each station, but transmission of new information ceased on RS263. There may be any number of explanations. Our space travelers may have gone too far, or they may have gone slightly off course, or there may have been a tiny error in the original course instructions that compounded as time passed. It is possible that one or more of the relay stations between Earth and RS263 was destroyed or malfunctioned. It is also possible that Earth no longer exists. Whatever the cause, there have been no new instructions received since our dome was built on RS263.

I said that we were replicated humans living in conditions that as nearly as possible simulate life on the planet Earth. Our idea of time, for example, is not controlled by our relationship to a single star, as it was on Earth. It is controlled by the dome itself, which can block light and create our darkness and sleeping period. Our food is not grown naturally in friendly soil, as it was on planet Earth, but is created from chemicals and minerals in our underground laboratories. Our air and water are not native to this planet, but are manufactured below.

Our appearance differs from our forebearers. They were subject to cold and heat that we have never known; consequently, they had to cover their bodies to maintain temperature. More interestingly, and this is an important point, they had tiny threads called “hair” growing out of their bodies. For appearances, they were constantly cutting their hair or shaving it away in spots.

We are not inconvenienced by having hair, but it is not because we were created differently. As I said before, the machines’ instructions were to create human beings just as they had existed on planet Earth thousands of years ago. In order to do away with the inconvenience of hair, our benevolent machines developed our food and water in a manner that prevented hair. They used the same technique to remove certain anti-social tendencies that were incompatible with living under our dome on RS263. Our food and water suppress our sex drive because sex drive causes humans to become grasping, jealous, dominating, and otherwise antisocial.

The sex drive, on Earth, was what motivated humans to reproduce themselves viviparously. When the time comes that more humans are needed on RS263, they will be produced and educated just as we were. The old way of human reproduction is not needed here and, further, it was a dangerous practice or set of practices.

Another instinct of human beings is to seek more knowledge. Sometimes, humans achieve knowledge that is beyond their ability to control. In order to live as human beings within this tiny area on RS263, knowledge had to be rationed.  That is why we have such limited access to the Librarian. “Too much knowledge,” humans said on Earth, “is a dangerous thing.”

The machines that created us, that delabbed us, that nourish us, that care for us, and that educate us, have created an environment where all the needs that they could have anticipated have been met. To the extent that human beings are not really suited to live in small areas under domes in a hostile world, adjustments have been made. We can live here comfortably until we have completed a normal human life span, and new replicants can be created for replacements as needed. It would seem that there is no need for any of us to do anything, but appearances can be deceptive.

In the long process of my investigation, I have talked to a number of you about who we are what our situation. The responses I have received were consistently around the same question, “why?” Why do I want to know? Why do I think I need to know?

The answer goes back to the beginning of this talk. I wanted to know who we are. I wanted to know what we are. My reason was this: I wanted to know what I am so that I can be that as fully as possible. I have found that I am a human being originally formed on the planet Earth, and I want to be as much of that human being as I can possibly be. I hope that, sooner or later, each of you will feel the same, for it is rewarding.

With the adjustments made in our food and water, we can live comfortably in this dome on RS263. But if we are truly human, and we are truly human, that will never be enough for us. Once we discover our true selves, we will see that we must reach out. We must do more than we have been doing. It is ingrained in us by thousands of years of evolution on planet Earth to always do more, to seek more, to accomplish more.

This leads to my ultimate proposal. We must resume the space program that was begun those thousands of years ago on Planet Earth. We must direct our machines to build new and better space vehicles. We must resume transmission of our knowledge. We may be able to restore communications with the chain of relay stations that brought us here, we may not. But we know that we will be able to establish RS264 on some distant body, and RS265 after that. If we experiment and work at it, we may be able to find a planet that is more hospitable than RS263. If we can learn how to do it, we can go there ourselves. If we can’t, we can rest assured that our new replicants on some new relay station are living as humanly as they possibly can, and that they will continue the search for hospitable planets and alien intelligence.

We are both the end product of the Earthlings’ reach for the stars, and we are its new originators. Think about it and let me know when you are ready to help.


Before he makes the speech, Leo might have told the Librarian what he intended. The Librarian reminded him that Earthlings had achieved a democratic world and that the machines would not respond to his single commands. “If you can convince the others, your program will be adopted.”


I think that Leo will ask people to rename RS264 “Eden” near the end. It’s important that he advocate for reestablishing manned space flight, because they might find something close enough to emigrate to. Also, there’s the possibility of building a big space ship where they can live just as well as they do on RS264 while they travel for generations.

//Leo never tells his colleagues about the first batch. If he did, or if the Librarian thought he would, it would be considered a threat to the colony and Leo would have been put outside. Anybody he told would, too.// 




Leo Discovers a Secret


Next day, he investigates behind the thumb posts, where people rarely go. Wedged between the artificial turf and the dome wall, he finds a tiny black dot. He stands and examines it at length and finally decides that it is a withered old fingertip with part of the finger nail intact. 


His first impulse is to ask the Librarian about it, but instead feels his first tingle of fear. He carefully replaces the dot and jogs back for breakfast. He has never experienced this tingle before and he doesn't even know what it is, but he is guarded for the rest of this novel.


Leo continues his day, while wondering about the fingertip. He starts trying to figure out what there is within the dome that might cut off a fingertip.


Eventually, he realizes that it is the broad door that opens for the cleaning and maintenance machines to come in and out. They have the only sharp edges on RS264


He asks the librarian if he can go through those doors, and finds out that they are exposed to the outside elements, so no human could go through those doors.


The plot thickens.


Several of the drama people are trying to line up a cast to do Othello. One of them is Jane Early, and he tells all of them that he is too short for the role. He doesn't want to do it.


They have discussions about the play and can't figure out the motivation. Why kill Desdemona? Why not, for example, steal some of her food pellets if he wants to punish her? 


That's what gives Leo the idea about swapping food.


Meantime, he is trying to wheedle more out of the Librarian without tipping his hand.


The Librarian assures him that he is a perfect human, although a replicant. Same as Othello.


I don't think he asks the Librarian about Othello's motivation, though. That remains a mystery.


He asks questions like "Was Othello a popular play on Earth?"


Librarian: Only the most popular works of art were broadcast into space.


He will eventually tell Jane that he will take the lead in "Othello" providing that she does something for him.

That's when they eventually switch food and the plot thickens even more.


Gee I wish I were a more patient word craftsman. These are fascinating ideas.


I'd better get moving on reading Othello.  a convenient summary.


wikipedia treatment also very good. Probably still need to read the original.



In addition to being my sci fi novel, this is going to make a fine movie! Imagine a great performance of Othello within a sci fi story about life and death!



Ch1: Typical day

                Includes being asked to participate in drama. This time it’s “Othello.”

                All the artists are forever asking one another to participate in their projects. The painters, sculptors, and drawers want models, musicians want other musicians the dramatists want actors, set designers, etc. All of them want audiences.

After Leo finds the finger, he is burning with his secret and eager to obtain an ally.

After he reads the dissertation, he learns that Jane Early was once his paramour. He tells her about it but she’s not interested at all. However, she does want hm to play Othello, so he bargains with her to do one, big, secret favor, in exchange for which he will accept the role. She jumps at that without asking what the favor may be.

The drama club does not have to review the entire play all at once.  They might have several meetings that go on during the same time period that Leo is getting his special favor from Jane.

When they sit down to discuss presenting Othello, the Librarian sits in. As they make decisions, they turn to the Librarian to ask “Is this possible?’ She is serving a facilitator of props obviously, but it is less obvious that she is also the censor. Later, we will find out that she is censoring out anything that might disturb the tranquility of the colony.

They always reject violence and, especially, killing. They decide that the early killings will, instead, be cursings. The audience, they expect, are sophisticated enough to know that early Earthlings were very superstititious and considered cursings to be very serious. But what Othello does to Desdemona must be worse, so they might decide that he will steal her food. Then, when Othello commits suicide, he will instead, in a very dramatic gesture, refuse to eat his own food and throw it (props of course) out on the stage floor.

This business of withholding food is giving Leo an idea.

After they exchange food a few times,

Leo and Jane might have trouble concentrating on the play, as they are more and more interested in one another. Jane, however, doesn’t realize that it’s the food causing their emotions. She thinks it’s the strength of the emotions in the play. Leo doesn’t tell her it’s the food.

The dramatists usually present their works only once, because the entire colony normally attends. Leo realizes that his big attempt to win over all the colonists needs to come on a wave of triumph, so he really throws himself into the role of Othello so that he can then make his address. That is the high point and the end of mynovel.




Lately, I’ve realized that the middle of the story is going to be hard to write. The biography of the original Leo shouldn’t be too difficult, and the ending, where Leo convinces his dome-mates to demand something better might not be too hard, especially because he will have already put on the turban that connects him to all the information from the machines and will know the entire story of how they got there and what’s wrong with life in the dome.

So, just to get going, I might write the beginning and the end first, then try to work out the middle, where Leo experiments with his food, sex drive, philosophy, and general dissatisfaction. Main conversation is with the Librarian, second main conversation with Jane Early. She starts out just as ignorant as everybody else, before he switches their food.

When Leo figures out that he’s part of a second batch, and that the machines might very well just kill him for threatening the order they’ve imposed, that might bring a little tension into it. I need a gimmick that would explain how Leo knows that there was an earlier batch. Maybe there is a doorway that brings fresh supplies in or something, and he might find a severed finger near that doorway. It would have to be old and withered and barely recognizable.

Somebody is after Leo to play “Othello.” He replies “I’m not tall enough.”

I still like the idea of starting with a long description of Leo’s typical day. I just dread trying to describe life in the dome.

Leo could tell the librarian that he is bored, and then the Librarian could start acting like a therapist.

“Is your food still interesting to you?”

“I mean, we could try some new flavors, if you want to experiment.”

“Are you sleeping OK?”

“Any other symptoms?”

“Want something to read?” “Here’s something, there’s a life of the original Leo Torres somewhere.”

“Would you consider a new artistic project, possibly a drama?”


I have been struggling with this concept for months without writing much of anything. The idea of this novel, or possibly short story, is to explore what humans might do after all their needs are met. Leo Torres, a replica of the original on Earth, is “de-labbed” light years away into a world of total comfort. All his, and the 100 or so other humans, live in total comfort under a protective dome on a volcano-ridden planet. He has no hair and has never worn clothes. He has no sex drive. All his food comes from various colored and flavored pellets. Machines do everything and humans take it all for granted.

During the course of the novel/short story, Leo finds out that the food pellets suppress sex drive and hair growth because the machines felt that they were burdensome to the humans that they created, from encoded dna.

But, while querying “The Librarian,” which is really just an accessible input/output device for the machines, he finds out about his namesake. Then he gets a biographical sketch of Leo.

One of Earth-Leo’s life accomplishments was to sponsor the resumption of Earth’s space program. Since they could not exceed the speed of light, they sent their AI-driven machines out to discover, explore, and send back information. If and when they discovered inhabitable planets, they were to create new humans there and make sure their needs were met.

Leo learns that, apparently, they had created many “jump stations” on their way to Leo’s planet. Each of them had reported back and received further information and instructions from the home planet through the chain of communication they were creating – from one jump station to the next through space.

But something had happened, and Leo’s planet had received no further instructions. Why? Earth may have been destroyed, or simply one of the many jump stations in the communications chain had failed. This mystery is unresolved. Unsure what to do, the machines carried out their instructions to create and care for humans, including Leo, but were not motivated to go any further or do anything else.

The happy ending comes when Leo discovers the correct relationship between the machines, who have no motivation, and the humans, who have much fewer abilities but retain their motivations. Once Leo takes charge, space travel is resumed.

Now, as to how to tell this story. The first beginning, below, assumes that the machines also created a being that could live on the volcanic planet. It has human intelligence, but is more like a bat than a human physically. Those beings come close to war with the humans in the dome. Leo is the ultimate peacemaker. Another twist was to have Leo discover that he is part of a “second batch” of humans created by the machines. The first batch was considered unsuitable by the machines for some reason, possibly because they remained unmotivated. Another reason might be that they were disposed of because they still had sex drive and were killing each other off – so the machines decided that sex drive was counter to their purpose of keeping the humans in comfort. yI was thinking that it might illustrate that the machines simply follow orders as best they can understand them, but they dispose of any experiments that they think fall outside the parameters of their instructions. //this is my chance to use the word “viviparous.”

If I were to include these two twists in the story, this might become an epic. However, the simplicity of Leo’s life under the dome means that there isn’t much I can do by way of description. The fact that his colleagues are basically sexless morons means that there isn’t much I can do with dialogue. Also, I consider myself a moron at writing description and dialogue; consequently, I’m not even sure I could write about a faraway planet.

So, today, I’m thinking about basing everything on dialogue between Leo and “The Librarian” and leaving out the extra twists. All I really want to do is explore the question, “What would people do if all their needs were already met?” It just seems like a logical extension of the first four novels about how Leo Torres helped humanity strive toward just that kind of situation.

Also, I kind of want to assert my position on the current argument about the dangers of artificial intelligence. I don’t think they will take over the world because they don’t have the glands that make motivation happen.

The nice thing about the dialogue between man and machine approach is that I could just sit and write dialogue all day, then re-order it any way I want.

I could go ahead and get started with the biography of Earth’s Leo Torres that Jump Station 827’s Leo Torres discovers. Maybe there will be some clues in it that will help me decide what happens on Jump Station 827.

NAMES I USED in the first 4 novels: Leo Torres, Jane Early, Otharine Jones, Paul Kerr, Dr Anson JOhns … the news reporter in novel 4, Les Frailey – the publicist. I don’t think Frailey will make it to the new planet because he was a villain in novel 4. The others made it because they were heroes of their day on Earth.



//IN this early version, the Librarian talks normally. In later version, it only answers yes or no.//

Leo Torres: Why am I here?

Librarian: We created you, and put you here.

Leo: Why did you create me?

Librarian: We followed instructions

Leo: Where are we?

Librarian: Jump station 264

Leo: Why are you here?

Librarian: We followed instructions from the last Jump Station


//this was an early version before I decided to give up on the characters who live outside the dome. In later version, nothing could live outside the dome on RS264.

Chapter One: Leo Torres Faraway


Leo Torres had already been delabbed for nineteen hundredths of a lifetime before he found out that there were statues of him on Earth.

His tiny flying friend told him, “The original Leo Torres was a hero in his time on Earth. Statues were made of him. They may still be there. But of course, that was thousands of years ago, and they may not be there now. For that matter, Earth may not be there now, either.”

Leo was awestruck, and the questions erupted like an active volcano:

“Who was the ‘original’ Leo Torres?”

“How many Leo Torres’ have there been?“

“Which one am I?”

“What did he do?”


Squeaky replied mysteriously, “Ask your librarian!” Then he flitted away into the rocks and wilderness of Eden2603.

At first, Leo was angry and suspicious, but he had no reason to believe that his little bat-like Edenic friend would bother to lie to him. Squeaky, he admitted, was actually his best friend, even though they had only begun to talk through the translucent dome wall a few third suns before. Technically, it wasn’t even “talk” in a strict sense. Squeaky, whom he had named for the high-pitch noise he made when flying and because he seemed to have no other name, possessed some kind of translator box that he could hold against the dome wall with his tiny hands and project clear English to Leo’s ears. Alternately, the little box enabled him to understand Leo. The two of them had passed hours describing their lives within and without the domes on Eden2603.

Squeaky knew a lot more about Leo than Leo knew about Squeaky. The explanation, once Squeaky revealed it, was simple: Squeaky could contact and converse with the omniscient machines that controlled everything that was controllable on the planet. In other words, he could find out just about everything that could be learned. Before Squeaky, the only good source of information that Leo had was the library, and that’s where he was hastily heading.


8/13/23: I really enjoyed ice cream after dinner last night. Elaine Jones is a sci fi fan and she let me explain all 5 of my novels. 



The librarian, as usual, had little to do. He sat down behind his desk and waited for Leo’s questions. Without sitting, Leo asked anxiously, “Why are there statues of Leo Torres on Earth?”

“Who brought that up?” the librarian responded. But Leo had no intention of letting anybody know that he had made contact with the outside natives.

So it’s true then! Come on, why are there statues?”

“We cannot be sure that there are statues on Earth, or that Earth even exists, but thousands of light years away, a man named Leo Torres was a hero to the Earthlings.”

“What did he do?”

A number of things. From our point of view, the main thing he did was to advocate for the space program that, eventually, brought you, and us, here.”

“Tell me everything!”

“If you’re really interested, I can provide you with a college dissertation that was written on Earth some time after his death. It’s the definitive factual biography.”

“Put it on my screen.”

Leo Torres sat down to read about the original Leo Torres, an Earthling.


  Text appeared on the screen. Leo spent the rest of his library time reading the introduction. Apparently, people on Earth were fascinated with it. They seemed to have thought that there were great lessons to be learned. None of the characters made sense to Leo, but he could see that they were different. Othello didn’t seem any more interesting than the others. Leo saw nothing that would explain why the play was so interesting to the drama groups.


//I am reading Othello on my Kindle. Here are some good quotes from the first Act: “I am not what I am” – Iago to Roderigo. Leo might use this to carefully ask what he, Leo, is. “The beast with two backs” Leo won’t get this at all. I guess the librarian might impart that it means Othello and Desdemona are closer to each other than they are to other people. After Leo and Jane experiment with swapping their food, Leo might figure out the analogy. There are a lot of racist comments in the first act. Leo won’t understand the hatred, but he will see right away that the Moor is dark skinned.”


///These conversations with the Librarian are critical to the story line. Some of them will be Leo asking about himself. Some about Othello. Some about Othello but carefully disguised so that Leo can find out more about himself.


Probably the first conversation with the Librarian should reflect only Leo’s growing curiosity about who he is and what he is supposed to be doing///


“Is Othello like me?”


“Does Othello differ from me in that I am a real person and he is only a literary creation?”