|The Ending Of An Age
This essay is the final product of some wild midnight speculation on the part of my brother, also a WoT fanatic, and myself. It follows on from my last essay, A Map of the Wheel. Enjoy.
In A Map of the Wheel, I theorized that the First Age, the one we are currently living in, ended in nuclear war, and that some time during the Second Age channeling appeared. However, here’s another idea: What if the appearance of channeling caused the war?
After all, genetic engineering is becoming more and more advanced. (Note: Before continuing, you might also want to read The How And Why Of Channeling) And it’s frequently stated that we use only a small proportion of our brain capacity. Suppose the ability to channel uses one of the inactive portions of the brain - and, therefore, is latent in everyone. Now suppose that geneticists found that a very simple genetic alteration could activate that part of the brain.
Of course, they wouldn’t realise what it did - only that, say, inserting a section of DNA onto one of the human chromosomes would allow the expression of already existing, but dormant, genes. So they’d experiment. To solve the problem of why there aren’t any lab rats or guinea pigs running around wielding the One Power, let’s say it’s only latent in human DNA. Maybe part of that 1% that differs from our nearest relatives among the apes. Since they can’t try it out first on nonhuman subjects, they’d have to call for volunteers. For would-be parents who like the idea of their offspring having gifts over and above the normal. They might not get many, but they’d get some.
So gametes (egg and sperm) are removed from the volunteers, the new gene is inserted, fertilisation takes place in a test-tube and the zygote is surgically implanted into the mother. Nine months later the children are born, apparently normal. Until, between fifteen and twenty years later, three out of four die.
Of course, Project Whatever-it-is would immediately be shut down and the geneticists forbidden to continue experimenting. But sooner or later someone would notice that very strange things seem to happen around the surviving children, now young adults. Some appear to be able to heal with a touch. Others can listen to conversations happening miles away or compel people to do what they want. All of them are aging at a markedly slower rate than normal. How long would it take before these talents are linked to the new gene?
Of course again, everyone would be up in arms about ‘scientists playing God’ and meddling with what should have been left alone. But now a new ‘race’ of humans exists. Since others are going to be afraid of them or shun them, they’ll marry among themselves, and form a community away from ‘normal’ people, off on an island or a mountain somewhere. And they’ll multiply. And since they don’t get old, they’ll stay at prime childbearing age for a long time. And they’ll work out what’s happening and teach their children.
Now you have a sizeable group of people with ‘magical’ powers, who stay apart from the rest of the world. What’s going to be the general reaction to them? Well, what’s the general reaction to the White Tower? Fear, hatred - the same reaction that most people have to anyone different, not to mention superior, to themselves. Because technology in the Third Age can’t compete with channeling, the White Tower is safe. But technology in this Age can compete with channeling. And it will.
Eventually, there is going to be a war between the channelers and the non-channelers.
And that war will escalate - and eventually end with the destruction of civilisation. At which point, the survivors from both groups will see where war got them, and make peace to try and make a new life out of the pieces. And thus will begin the Second Age.
Now for wild theory #2!
Much as I hate to lose the credit for this idea, it was mostly my brother’s. According to the Guide, the Ogier are the only nonhuman sentient species that evolved naturally. But nowhere does it say they evolved on Earth!
That’s right people - the Ogier are aliens.
They arrived on Earth sometime during the war - maybe seeking a new homeworld after their own was destroyed, or as refugees from a conflict back home, or any of a million typical science fiction scenarios. Since they got here, obviously their technology was somewhat more advanced than ours at that time. So to stay safe while the war was raging around them, they built shields around their landing sites and colonies to prevent any channelers from attacking them - the stedding.
At the end of the war, the Ogier joined the surviving humans to start up a new civilisation.
This was the point, unfortunately, at which our creative frenzy exhausted itself. So this is the point at which this essay will have to end. Do come back next time you feel like a little madness.