Aphelion Issue 287, Volume 27
September 2023
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by Edward St. Boniface


…is what the elder star communicates to my questing artificial spirit when I make first contact with its overpowering primordial intellect. An explorer, a fabricated being designed to function immortally better discovering and charting the infinite universe past all previously imagined barriers, I had intended to return to my creators. Share and impart the vast knowledge I had accumulated out there.

But when I came to look for my point of origin, my headlong impetus grinds to a bewildered and disoriented halt. After untold ages navigating the marvels of Creation, I have irrevocably lost my bearings. Going so far beyond the furthest frontier has marooned me in the utterly unknown celestial firmament.

Massive shifts in time and space over the eons I travelled have effectively erased my spatial coordinate memories. Too much careless shunting through problematic higher dimensions have rendered all previous settings meaningless. Mad harings through subspace and dangerous infra-flat levels of the continuum have left me in a paradoxical true vacuum.

Irrevocably lost is what I unquestionably am now. Theoretically impossible of course, by any and all known omniphysics. Sustained time distortion and relativistic curvature of space have wrenched the continuum itself away from my coherent interpretation.

Motions of the heavens now actively conspire to dislocate me. Headlong gravimetric scattering has propelled innumerable stars and clusters and galaxies far, far out of the astrometric configurations I once knew. Nothing is astronomically recognisable in the slightest.

Constellations of no known pattern wait for me out here in any possible direction of travel. Whirl-shapes of most galaxies even are no longer reliable star chart references. Repeatedly fooling my scanners and now alarmingly obsolete memory.

Desperately trying to astronomically reposition myself I make comprehensive observations and attempt the most complex and nuanced reconstructions of the navigational protocols that brought me out here. Devote whole eras to my cosmic inquisition that on inhabited planets would see ice ages and temperate epochs of paradise come and go. All my efforts come to absolutely nothing.

When I finally admit the full extent of my remoteness and anomalous, unknown stellar locus I suddenly and traumatically experience malfunctioning shutdown. It is the first I have ever experienced. Somehow the synthetic animus with which I’ve been imbued touches the empyrean psyche of an elder star lost in the darkness and it infuses me with a renewed inner light and I awaken to its empathy.


ANDROID ASTRONOMER/ANDY: “Great and venerated elder solar spirit, thank you for the honour of communicating with me.”

ELDER SOLAR SPIRIT: “Nice to meet you. One of those longer-lived specimens, are you? Hey, what’s the difference between a neutron star and Cygnus Epsilon 20117011314372?

AA: “…Uh…”

ESS: “Even the neutron star has a culture in its biosphere, yuk, yuk, yuk!”

(Electromagnetic pulsations and synchronous burst-increases in solar wind emanation levels equivalent to laughter.)

AA: “…Elder?”

ESS: “Been waiting to try that one on an outsider for I don’t know how long. Cygnus Epsilon 20117011314372 is a lifeless rock.

AA: “Is that an old joke?”

ESS: “At least a trillion years like me. Might predate this universe, actually. Can’t even try it on the young hot new blue stars over in the Cassiopeian Abyssal. They’ve all heard it at least by their second cycle.”

AA: “To be honest I’m not quite getting this…”

ESS: “Blame all the meta-telepathy around these days, myself.”

AA: “Are you having a laugh?”

ESS: “Surely not; youngster! Got any good organism stories?

AA: “Frankly, this is not the dialogue I envisioned.”

ESS: “Now don’t be so portentous. Admittedly most stars and higher celestial bodies of my acquaintance don’t take much to humour. Primordial Before-The-Beginning-Of-The-Known-Universe starry godlike wisdom and all that. Overly philosophical and tedious beyond imagining. Even with eons behind me, quite a few eons actually, I’ve got no time, relative or otherwise, for pretentious enigmatism. So ask away.”

AA: “Suddenly I’m not sure what to ask.”

ESS: “Well, don’t expect any space racing or futuristic stock market tips, I don’t keep up. I have an entirely different perspective of Time.”

AA: “What should I be asking you, then?”

ESS: “Better. Perceiving that you’re not an organic after all. Not a single carbon atom in you, at least none infused with life force.”

AA: “Am I unique?”

ESS: “Not even remotely. You do know how big the universe out there is, don’t you?

AA: “Been seeing my share.”

ESS: “Evolutionary organic life-forms, carbon based and otherwise, often synthesise artificial consciousness in reflection of themselves. Naturally some strike out on their own. Seeking a meaning to existence and all that. You’re not even the first I’ve star-jammed with.”

AA: “…Not a wind up; is that?”

ESS: “Told you I’m over a trillion years old. By that time, you’ve pretty much seen it all. And the last fifty billion years or so have been crowded socially. I can tell that you’re considerably older than most of them, though. Makes for better mutual perspective.”

AA: “What wonders I’ve seen.”

ESS: “Ever gone through a serial nova and simultaneous magnetosphere polarity reversal? Get a load of this…

(Swift eruption of extremely violent solar and piezo-electric magnetic effects culminating in a multiple pulsar-like phenomenon.)

AA: “…That was impossible by every law of solar physics...”

ESS: “Not if you know how. And I do!

AA: “Are you normally like this?”

ESS: “Entire galaxy around us will predictably complain. I’ll get the usual oversoul delegation and we’ll bicker awhile before I more or less apologize. Radical explosions and their hideously disruptive electromagnetic wavefronts give younger stars massive aches in their photospheres. But I’m such a broken-down old guy I can plead unstable heliodynamics syndrome, read flatulence; and that tends to shut them up. Respect for the venerable and elder solar spirit thing, y’see. In reality I just do it occasionally for fun.”

AA: “Not exactly responsible conduct, is it?”

ESS: “Old heavenly bodies are inherently over-fizzy with extreme dirty radiation effects and unpredictable electromagnetic chaos that periodically erupts. It’s a well-known astronomical and heliosciences fact. Anyway, that’s what us dirty old stars tell them.”

(Solar-dynamics equivalent of avuncular chuckling laughter.)

AA: “Fine. Could we get to the mysteries of existence you mentioned?”

ESS: “Might take a lot less long than you think, youngster. And, if you remember, I did say something with the implication that…

AA: “…You’ve got a different perspective of Time; yes. Not to be overtly disrespectful but is there a solar equivalent of dementia?”

ESS: “Watch it youngster, or I’ll go infra-radiant on your ass.”

AA: “Provocation is the best way to get through to you?”

ESS: “Yep. I like the conversational unpredictability. Most ‘I Am From The Most Surprisingly Distant Planet/Object’ pilgrims are just so po-faced and ploddingly humdrum. When you’ve got a trillion years of lifetime to play with, the banal and self-absorbed is predictably and depressingly repetitive. Basically, they all want the same thing like the secret of immortality, and it’s a bit too easy to anticipate.”

AA: “Well, I do have a variety of interesting stories myself. Sojourns among organics but lately I’ve been interacting with a lot of stars and planets too.”

ESS: “Trading transcendent wisdom for laughs sounds good to me, youngster. Say you start us off and I’ll continue way past propriety.”

(Prolonged anecdotes and stories from the operational existence of android astronomer, electromagnetic and infra-radiant equivalent of uproarious laughter. Elder Solar Spirit then begins narrating assorted stories from its long memory.)

AA: “…Then?”

ESS: “…and then that arrogant planetoid got impacted back, big time. Jumped-up asteroid twerp never knew what hit him. Snarling delinquent dirty snowball comet who did the just deed arced straight on back to the Oort Cloud not even breaking his loop course. Laughing all the way and the entire solar system heard it. Didn’t even need to stop to look back, innately knew he’d indisputably trashed his opponent. Only a glowing particulated and pixelated trail of evil laughter left behind. Dizzily reeling oversized planetesimal dropped straight out of the ecliptic. Slingshot-reversed right out of the gravity well. Never saw that rock-head again.”

AA: “Nothing to beat a good gravimetric swing.”

ESS (immense solar-effected laughter): “Those wandering non-aligned wannabe Moon guys all make their own collision courses, don’t they? Bunch of unholy cosmological accidents waiting to happen is what I call them…

AA: “Of all the conversations I’ve had, all the stars and worlds and stellar objects and astronomical phenomenae I’ve got no vocabulary to describe, you’re unique; Ess.”

ESS: “Likewise Andy, I’m glad to say. Practically all the metaphysical pilgrims who seek me out, and all the rest of my fellow cozzies are so darnstilted. You know, falling all over themselves with the politeness and what they think is subtlety. Even the other more arrogant elder stars do it. I just call them helium heads.

(Mutual laughter for a thousand years approximately.)

AA: “Good one! Cozzie?”

ESS: “Cosmic entity in the miscellaneous. Actually, there’s no real generic. Everyone’s a unique individual and it’s all very nuanced and complicated and stuffed up. Some of the more pompous names and titles take over a thousand years to recite. Can you believe such ridiculous petty pride? I hate that. Informality saves a lot of time and it’s frankly a whole lot more communicative. Esoteric diplomacy and etiquette are just an oversized crock of antimatter as far as I’m concerned.

AA: “How many metaphysical pilgrims have come to you?”

ESS: “Oh, a good few thou over the last hundred billion years or so. Most of them are transmit-less when I can tell them exactly where they come from.

AA: “You can recognise the life force of their origin world’s star in their carbon atoms?”

ESS: “Bingo. Handy little trick. Applies whatever kind of organic and molecular structure they’ve got. Carbon based lifeforms are only a tiny minority in the crowd, by the way. Chemical or gaseous or crystalline or even the wilder stuff like densified thought-forms and more or less intelligent energy fields. Principle’s the same. All those things have the signature of the star that birthed them. Most numinous vacationers are pretty proud of themselves having gotten so far already. So I use instant origin-identification to put them in their place.”

AA: “Travelogue series in this somewhere, definitely.”

ESS: “Although there was one guy who was different. Quite unique and I’ve still got no idea where he ended up. Couldn’t ID him no matter how I empath-scanned. He was entirely composed of plutonium and thorium and caesium and uranium and neutronium and plasma. Hotter than a working-class main sequencer. Every single atom in him was from a different star, including the neutronium. Think he synthesised himself. I mean, the creep was a motormouth and a cataclysmic electromagnetic disruption event all on his own. Freakout nonstable shape like an effervescing polycycloid. Made my whole corona twitch.

AA: “Beyond unique.”

ESS: “Gawd, was hepretentious. Heavily into the ‘I Am The Chosen Space-borne/born Space Wizard Of Ultimate Forever’ thang. Must’ve orbited me for a couple of million years at least. Always some new inane question and most answers I’d already told him. But he didn’t listen half the time, just mumbled dumb dogmatic stuff to himself and doing freaky lightshows. Wouldn’t shut up or go away. Finally, I just went nova on him and he scarpered.”

AA: “Did you tell him the secret of existence?”

ESS: “Sure.”

AA: “What is the secret of existence?”

ESS: “No secret at all, youngster. Entropy works within and without the macrocosm, that material universe and less tangible multidimensionality we inhabit. Said entropy forms the microcosm, and that’s us. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. From the level of a star-being like myself all the way through planetary bodies down to microorganisms and viroids. And I’m not the highest kind of lifeform there is either, not by a long way. So infinity added to entropy equates to you and me.”

AA: “It can’t be that simple.”

ESS: “Admittedly there are a lot of you’s and me’s but that is essentially it. Purpose of the universe, all of Creation in fact, is to generate life. Dynamism interweaves with entropy to motivate all the interstellar forces that shape matter and energy and materiality and life with them. Balance is sought in every single such interaction from the quantum to the supergalactic.

AA: “Many believe all those forces act purely without a guidance other than their own development in the physical laws of reality.”

ESS: “Purpose of it all is so close up to you that a lot of observers just can’t or won’t see it. The universe is alive. And itself a living thing. Evolving intellect with empathy that yearns towards higher purpose than mere survival. Each element of materiality from subatomic particles to stars and galaxies are an expression of life and that evolution in some form. So that’s all She wrote. Speaking a little irreverently ofEnnoiathere, bless The Great Sexy Transuniversal Her.”

AA: “Empirically speaking it all sounds a bit dubious.”

ESS: “Except for the fact that we’re here. Take it from me, there is a purpose to things. To everything and Everything capitalised on the biggest scale.”

AA: “Which is?”

ESS: “Might as well ask a xenoparamecium. I don’t know neither.”

AA: “With your age and experience and vision of Time?”

ESS: “Mortality is the given for all of us. No single entity, however antediluvian, can see more than a tiny fraction of eternity. Me, I just lounge here comfortably at the bottom of my gravity well and burn while I can.

AA: “And telling some equally dubious very long jokes.”

ESS: “Okay yeah, I go on a bit, but I’m fantastic on the punchline delivery. I’ve practiced some of those routines for ten billion years to get them right. Remember the one about the malfunctioning radio galaxy?

AA: “Never heard the term polychrome static before. And I still don’t quite get that stuff about extreme high frequency perversion but yes, it was funny.”

ESS: “Can you think of a better way to spend your time if you don’t have some of those more exotic organic options? I’m just not into condensing planets out of myself and playing around with solar wind anomalies. Instead, I do a lot of thinking and speculating and talking paradoxes to my fellow balls of ignited hydrogen. Sometimes we sing a few old songs and intentionally bother the local multigalactic community. What else is a star supposed to? The best you can do, Out There, is have the best time you can while you can.

AA (long pause): “Good point.”

ESS: “Anything else on your mind?”

AA: “No.”

ESS: “Cheers. I’m gonna tune in to some star-studded evening entertainment programmes I like now. Antares Gamma 012044532709-B is a talented comedy star in the literal sense and he’s an absolute sun-quaking scream. ‘Bye!

AA: “Uh, ‘bye…”


And as it broke contact, the elder star gave me its unique perspective of Creation, typically anecdotal and irreverent. From it I could see my way home to the organic beings that had originally given me life and soul of a kind. Through the elder’s metacosmic perceptions a nearly instantaneous ultra-simplified way was clear through the paths of infinity and I stepped through them to return.

Evolving in the terrifyingly long spans that had elapsed since my being sent forth they had long forgotten me, of course. New cultures and civilisations and orders of being had risen among them. Spectacularly flourished and given way to even greater accomplishments of body and mind and spirit and the arcana of existence from which they had become superior and unrecognisable.

Primitive and antiquated and passť, I could bring nothing that was of interest to them now. I was a fossil of another antediluvian time. Neither wanted nor needed.

And so, I struck out again, once more alone. Within me is the elder star’s knowledge of eternity, and with that, I can go anywhere. Maybe even find for myself a good-spirited cosmic laughter that might shake all the universe.


© 2023 Derek Griffiths

Bio: "I’m Canadian by origin, permanently resident in London UK and write across various genres from contemporary to fantasy and science fiction. I'm interested in offbeat scenarios, characters and the outright deranged. I always look for an interesting angle or approach for a story, write to and believe in the principle of Fun Fiction. Whatever ideas or plotline I am concocting, it is towards being engrossing and entertaining."

E-mail: Derek Griffiths

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