Femtotech Messiah of Gatewai, The

The Femtotech Messiah
Image from Steve Bowers

One of the more controversial religious events of recent times was the 'Femtotech Messiah' of the shared Metasoft-NoCoZo world Gatewai.

In 9963 a.t. a humanoid being appeared near the small undersea city of Pandey, proclaiming it was a representative of Higher Power. It demonstrated a number of posthuman abilities such as superintelligence, overcoming all local network security limits and doing inexplicable physical feats. It orated in a nearly incomprehensible ancient Anglic dialect heavy with allusions to such diverse topics as 4th century a.t. human mythology and the history of the To'ul'hs, poetically explaining that if the people of today did not cease with the sins/grand work being done the gates of hell would be opened and the anti-singularity arrive. It did not answer any questions, instead repeating its speech with minor variations and demonstrating unusual powers. For instance, it appeared to transmute a nearby mass of diamondoid into an equal mass of iridium without any equipment or emission of radiation, claiming that it was using 'femtotech' to accomplish these feats. Skeptical commentators suspect that this was a sophisticated feat of legerdemain, but no satisfactory explanation has yet been found.

Perhaps most puzzling was the coordination of the manifestation at Gatewai with that of several nearly identical incidents on worlds and habs in systems thousands of light years distant, and the apparent ability of the Gatewai 'messiah' to describe events around its other manifestations well ahead of any possible light-speed communication.

Its only communicative response to inquiries was to deny that it was worth worshipping and to deny that it was itself divine. Despite this warning a number of locals attempted to found a religion based on it. When they continued to worship it, it killed them with a burst of coherent gamma radiation.

Despite this violent demonstration millions tried to get to Pandey to witness its teachings, and various cults and explanations grew on the net (where it also preached through a virtual avatar patched into one of the main virchspaces). Local authorities tried unsuccessfully to confine it and to keep the local media from angering it, but it was clear the situation was getting out of hand. After two weeks it suddenly dispersed explosively. Analysis of the remains strongly imply that it was a clarketech construct, although the details were uncertain. Its origin remains unknown.

The meaning of the Messiah has been debated endlessly. One popular explanation is that it was either an insane minor AI, a transapient joke, or a form of obscure advertising. Others think that the message, garbled as it might be, contains important and/or sacred truths and try to analyse it; a large Messiah hermeneutics has emerged on Gatewai. Several AI-worshipping religions have claimed it was a messenger of their AI, and despite its fierce denial of divinity several cults believe it to be a representative of the True God (the destruction of the worshippers was either a test of faith or a direct transference to a higher state). The perhaps most unusual claim is from the Awaiters of Recurrence, claiming it was a thermodynamic miracle: it spontaneously formed from random atoms as a sign that a new era of thermodynamic miracles is imminent as the universe prepares to achieve recurrence.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlevadditional material by Stephen Inniss, Steve Bowers
Initially published on 14 October 2000.