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out to be an earthy, dark meat in a stew of tangy vegetables. He ate heartily,
and in response to Dors' rather obviously amused silence said, "I'd point out
that pans understand commerce, too. Food for sex, betrayal of the leader for
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sex, spare my child for sex, grooming for sex, just about anything for sex. "
"It does seem to be their social currency. Short and decidedly not sweet. lust
quick lunges, strong sensations, then boom it's over. "
"The males need it, the females use it. "
"Ummm, you've been taking notes. "
"If I'm going to model pans as a sort of simplified people, then I must. "
"Model pans?" came the assured tones of ExSpec Vaddo. "They're not model
citizens, if that's what you mean. " He gave them a sunny smile and Hari
guessed this was more of the obligatory friendliness of this place.
Hari smiled mechanically. "I'm trying to find the variables that could
describe pan behavior. "
"You should spend a lot of time with them, " Vaddo said, sitting at the table
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and holding up a finger to a waiter for a drink. "They're subtle creatures. "
"I agree, " said Dors. "Do you ride them very much?"
"Some, but most of our research is done differently now. " Vaddo's mouth
twisted ruefully. "Statistical models, that sort of thing. I got this touring
idea started, using the immersion tech we had developed earlier, to make money
for the project. Otherwise, we'd have had to close. "
"I'm happy to contribute, " Hari said.
"Admit it you like it, " Dors said, amused.
"Well, yes. It's... different. "
"And good for the staid Professor Seldon to get out of his shell, " she said.
Vaddo beamed. "Be sure you don't take chances out there. Some of our customers
think they're superpans or something. "
Dors' eyes flickered. "What danger is there? Our bodies are in slowtime, back
here. "
Vaddo said, "You're strongly linked. A big shock to a pan can drive a
back-shock in your own neurological systems. "
"What sort of shock?" Hari asked.
"Death, major injury. "
"In that case, " Dors said to Hari, "I really do not think you should immerse.
"
Hari felt irked. "Come on! I'm on vacation, not in prison. "
"Any threat to you "
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"Just a minute ago you were rhapsodizing about how good for me it was. "
"You're too important to "
"There's really very little danger, " Vaddo came in smoothly. "Pans don't die
suddenly, usually. "
"And I can bail out when I see danger coming, " Hari added.
"But will you? I think you're getting a taste for adventure. "
She was right, but he wasn't going to concede the point. If he wanted a little
escape from his humdrum mathematician's routine, so much the better. "I like
being out of Trantor's endless corridors. "
Vaddo gave Dors a confident smile. "And we haven't lost a tourist yet. "
"How about research staff?" she shot back.
"Well, that was a most unusual "
"What happened?"
"A pan fell off a ledge. The human operator couldn't bail out in time and she
came out of it paralyzed.
The shock of experiencing death through immersion is known from other
incidents to prove fatal. But we have systems in place now to short circuit "
"What else?" she persisted.
"Well, there was one difficult episode. In the early days, when we had simple
wire fences. " The ExSpec shifted uneasily. "Some predators got in. "
"What sort of predators?"
"A primate pack hunter, Carnopapio grandis. We call them raboons, because
they're genetically related to a small primate on another continent. Their
DNA '
"How did they get in?" Dors insisted.
"They're somewhat like a wild hog, with hooves that double as diggers. They
smelled game our corralled animals. Dug under the fences. "
Dors eyed the high, solid walls. "These are adequate?"
"Certainly. Raboons share DNA with the pans and we believe they're from an
ancient genetic experiment. Someone tried to make a predator by raising the
earlier stock up onto two legs. Like most bipedal predators, the forelimbs are
shortened and the head carried forward, balanced by a thick tail they use for
signaling to each other. They prey on the biggest herd animals, the
gigantelope, eating only the richest meat. ", "Why attack humans?"
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"They take targets of opportunity, too. Pans, even.
When they got into the compound, they went for adult humans, not children a
very selective strategy. "
Dors shivered. "You look at all this very... objectively. "
"I'm a biologist. "
"I never knew it could be so interesting, " Hari said to defuse her
apprehension.
Vaddo beamed. "Not as involving as higher mathematics, I'm sure. "
Dors' mouth twisted with wry skepticism. "Do you mind if guests carry weapons
inside the compound?"
9.
He had a glimmering of an idea about the pans, a way to use their behaviors in
building a simple toy model of psychohistory. He might be able to use the
statistics of pan troop movements, the ups and downs of their shifting
fortunes.
Pictured in system-space, living structures worked at the edge of a chaotic
terrain. Life as a whole harvested the fruits of a large menu of possible
path-choices. Natural selection first achieved, then sustained this edgy
state.
Whole biospheres shifted their equilibrium points amid energetic
flowthrough like birds banking on winds, he thought, watching some big yellow
ones glide over the station, taking advantage of the updrafts.
Like them, whole biological systems sometimes hovered at stagnation points.
Systems were able to choose several paths of descent. Sometimes to stretch the
analogy they could eat the tasty insects which came up to them on those same
tricky breezes.
Failure to negotiate such winds of change meant the pattern forfeited its
systemic integrity. Energies dissipated. Crucial was the fact that any
seemingly stable state was actually a trick of dynamic feedback.
No static state existed except one. A biological system at perfect equilibrium
was simply dead.
So, too, psychohistory?
He talked it over with Dors and she nodded. Beneath her apparent calm she was
worried. Since
Vaddo's remark she was always tut-tutting about safety. He reminded her that
she had earlier urged him to do more immersions. "This is a vacation,
remember?" he said more than once.
Her amused sidewise glances told him that she also didn't buy his talk about
the toy modeling. She thought he just liked romping in the woods. "A country
boy at heart, " she chuckled.
So the next morning he skipped a planned trek to view the gigantelope herds. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]