The Ninth World
The Ninth World is Earth. But it is an Earth that has undergone multiple dramatic changes, for it is Earth approximately a billion years in the future. Over that nigh-incomprehensible span of time, nothing remains constant. Add in the rise and fall of civilizations so great that to us they would seem, again, nigh incomprehensible, and anything is possible.
When attempting to grasp the Ninth World, there are two complementary shaping forces to keep in mind. First is the vast amount of time. Even if Earth
were left completely alone, the drastic changes of celestial mechanics, continental drift, erosion, mass extinction, and evolution would render our home
The second force is that of intelligence. Over the billion-year span, the earth has been home to at least eight civilizations that have arisen (or arrived) here, flourished and advanced to incredible power, and then either declined or left, never to return. Although we know little about these civilizations, we do know the following:
1. At least one was the center of a galactic (or perhaps intergalactic) space-faring empire.
2. At least one wielded the power of planetary engineering and stellar lifting
3. At least one had the knowledge of the fundamental forces of reality and could alter those forces as they wished. The very laws of physics were theirs
to play with, like toys.
4. At least one filled the world with invisible, molecule-sized machines called nanites (or nanomachines) that could deconstruct and reconstruct matter and manipulate energy.
5. At least one explored the multiverse or other dimensions, parallel universes, and alternate levels of reality.
6. At least one of these civilizations were not human.
Most of the land mass has once again joined to form a gigantic supercontinent, leaving the rest of the globe to the mercy of a single ocean dotted with
islands. The moon is smaller than we are accustomed to because its orbit is wider. Due to the effect this has on the planet’s rotation, days are now 28 hours long. The year’s length has not changed, however, so a Ninth World year has only 313 days. Words like “week” and “month” retain their meanings, and for the sake of understanding, this book also uses terms like “second,” “minute,” and “hour,” although the inhabitants of the world probably use different terms, perhaps with slightly different meanings.
The people of the Ninth World don’t realize it, but at its current age, the sun’s luminosity should have increased to a point where life on Earth (as we know it) is impossible. And yet it continues. Something happened millions of years in the past to prevent life from disappearing. Most planets in the solar system remain, although their orbits have altered somewhat, but the planet we call Mercury is long gone. (Ninth Worlders don’t know it ever existed, so they don’t wonder why it’s absent.).