The Godmakers by Frank Herbert
Electronic Edition 2013
Copyright 1972 Herbert Properties LLC
Originally published 1972
Some portions were also published/serialized under the title “The Priests of Psi.”
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You must understand that peace is an internal matter. It has to be a self-discipline for an individual or for an entire civilization. It must come from within. If you set up an outside power to enforce peace, this outside power will grow stronger and stronger. It has no alternative. The inevitable outcome will be an explosion, cataclysmic and chaotic. That is the way of our universe. When you create paired opposites, one will overwhelm the other unless they are in delicate balance.
—The writings of DIANA BULLONE
To become a god, a living creature must transcend the physical. The three steps of this transcendent path are known. First, he must come upon the awareness of secret aggression. Second, he must come upon the discernment of purpose within the animal shape. Third, he must experience death.
When this is done, the nascent god must find his own rebirth in a unique ordeal by which he discovers the one who summoned him.
—“The Making of a God,” The Amel Handbook
Lewis Orne could not remember a time when he had been free of a peculiar, repetitive dream, when he had been able to go to sleep in the sure knowledge that the dream’s wild sense of reality would not clutch at his psyche. The dream began with music, this really hokey unseen choir, syrup in sound, a celestial joke. Vaporous figures would come out of the music adding a visual dimension of the same quality.
Finally, a voice would override the whole silly thing with disturbing pronouncements: “Gods are made, not born!”
Or: “To say you are neutral is another way of saying you accept the necessities of war!”
To look at him, you wouldn’t think him the kind of person to be plagued by such a dream. He was a blocky human with the thick muscles of a heavy planet native— Chargon of Gemma was his birthplace. He possessed a face reminiscent of a full-jowled bulldog and a steady gaze, which often made people uncomfortable.
Despite his peculiar dream, or perhaps because of it, Orne made regular obeisance to Amel, “the planet where all godness dwells.” Because of the dream’s pronouncements, which remained with him all through his waking life, he enlisted on the morning of his nineteenth birthday in the Rediscovery and Reeducation Service, thereby seeking to reknit the galactic empire shattered by the Rim Wars. After training him in the great Peace School on Marak, R&R set Orne down one cloudy morning on the meridian longitude, fortieth parallel, of the newly rediscovered planet of Hamal, terra type to eight decimal places, the occupants sufficiently close to the homo-S genetic drift for interbreeding with natives of the Heart Worlds. Ten Hamal weeks later, as he stood at the edge of a dusty little village in the planet’s North Central Uplands, Orne pushed the panic button of the little green signal unit in his right-hand jacket pocket. At the moment, he was intensely aware that he was the lone representative on Hamal of a service which often lost agents to “causes unknown.”
What had sent his hand thrusting for the signal unit was the sight of about thirty Hamalites continuing to stare with brooding gloom at a companion who had just executed a harmless accidental pratfall into a mound of soft fruit. No laughter, no discernible change of emotion.
Added to all the other items Orne had cataloged, the incident of the pratfall-in-the-fruit compounded Hamal’s aura of doom.
Orne sighed. It was done. He had sent a signal out into space, set a chain of events into motion, which could result in the destruction of Hamal, of himself, or both.
As he was to discover later, he had also rid himself of his repetitive dream, replacing it with a sequence of waking events which would in time make him suspect he had walked into his mysterious night world.
A religion requires numerous dichotomic relationships. It needs believers and unbelievers. It needs those who know the mysteries and those who only fear them. It needs the insider and the outsider. It needs both a god and a devil. It needs absolutes and relativity. It needs that which is formless (though in the process of forming) and that which is formed.
—Religious Engineering, “Secret Writings of Amel”
“We are about to make a god,” Abbod Halmyrach said.
He was a short, dark-skinned man in a pale-orange robe that fell to his ankles in soft folds. His face, narrow and smooth, was dominated by a long nose that hung like a precipice over a wide, thin-lipped mouth. His head was polished brown baldness. “We do not know from what creature or thing the god will be born,” the Abbod said. “It could be one of you.”
He gestured to the room full of acolytes seated on the bare floor of an austere room illuminated by the flat rays of Amel’s midmorning sun. The room was a Psi fortress buttressed by instruments and spells. It measured twenty meters to the side, three meters floor to ceiling. Eleven windows, five on one side and six on the other, looked out across the park rooftops of Amel’s central warren complex. The wall behind the Abbod and the one he faced gave the appearance of white stone laced with thin brown lines like insect tracks—one of the configurations of a Psi machine. The walls glowed with pale-white light as flat as skimmed milk.
The Abbod felt the force flowing between these two walls and experienced the anticipatory flash of guilt-fear which he knew was shared by the acolyte class. Officially, this class was called Religious Engineering, but the young acolytes persisted in their impiety. To them, this was God Making.
And they were sufficiently advanced to know the perils.
“What I say and do here has been planned and measured out with precision,” the Abbod said. “Random influence is dangerous here. That is why this room is so purposefully plain. The smallest extraordinary intrusion here could bring immeasurable differences into what we do. I say, then, that no shame attaches to any one of you who wishes at this time to leave this room and not participate in the making of a god.”
The seated acolytes stirred beneath their white robes, but no one accepted his invitation.
The Abbod experienced a small sensation of satisfaction. Thus far, things went within the range of his predictions. He said: “As we know, the danger in making a god is that we succeed. In the science of Psi, a success on the order of magnitude which we project in this room carries profound reflexive peril. We do, in fact, make a god. Having made a god, we achieve something paradoxically no longer our creation. We could well become the creation of that which we create.”
The Abbod nodded to himself, reflecting on the god creations in humankind’s history: wild, purpose
“The god comes anew each time out of chaos,” the Abbod said. “We do not control this; we only know how to make a god.”
He felt the dry electricity of fear building in his mouth, recognized the necessary tension growing around him. The god must come partly out of fear, but not alone from fear.
“We must stand in awe of our creation,” he said. “We must be ready to adore, to obey, to plead and supplicate.”
The acolytes knew their cue. “Adore and obey,” they murmured. Awe radiated from them.
Ah, yes, the Abbod thought: infinite possibilities and infinite peril, that is where we now stand. The fabric of our universe is woven into these moments.
He said: “First, we call into being the demishape, the agent of the god we would create.” He lifted his arms, breaking the force flow between the two walls, setting eddies adrift in the room. As he moved, he felt a simultaneity, a time-rift in his universe with the image awareness within him that told of three things happening together. A vision of his own brother, Ag Emolirdo, came into his mind, a long-nosed, birdlike human standing in pale light on faraway Marak, sobbing without cause. This vision flowed into the image of a hand, one finger depressing a button on a small green box. In the same instant, he saw himself standing with arms upraised as a Shriggar, the Chargonian death lizard, stepped from the Psi wall behind him.
The acolytes gasped.
With the exquisite slowness of terror, the Abbod lowered his arms, turned. Yes, it was a true Shriggar—a creature so tall it must crouch in this room. Great scratching talons drooped from its short arms. The narrow head with its hooked beak open to reveal a forked tongue twisted left, then right. Its stalk eyes wriggled and its breath filled the room with swamp odors.
Abruptly, the mouth snapped closed: “Chunk!”
When it reopened, a voice issued from it: deep, disembodied, articulated without synchronization of Shriggar tongue and lips. It said: “The god you make may die aborning. Such things take their own time and their own way. I stand watchful and ready. There will be a game of war, a city of glass where creatures of high potential make their lives. There will be a time for politics and a time for priests to fear the consequences of their daring. All of this must be to achieve an unknown goal.”
Slowly, the Shriggar began to dissolve—first the head, then the great yellow-scaled body. A puddle of warm brown fluid formed where it had stood, oozed across the room, around the Abbod’s feet, around the seated acolytes.
None of them dared move. They knew better than to introduce a random force of their own into this place before the flickering Psi currents subsided.
Anyone who has ever felt his skin crawl with the electrifying awareness of an unseen presence knows the primary sensation of Psi.
—HALMYRACH, ABBOD OF AMEL,
Psi and Religion, Preface
Lewis Orne clasped his hands behind his back until the knuckles showed white. He stared darkly out of his second-story window at a Hamal morning. The big yellow sun dominated a cloudless sky above distant mountains. It promised to be a scorcher of a day.
Behind him there was the sound of a scratchy stylus rasping across transmitpaper as the Investigation-Adjustment operative made notes on the interview they had just completed. The paper was transmitting a record of the words to the operative’s waiting ship.
So maybe I was wrong to push the panic button, Orne thought. That doesn’t give this wise guy the right to ride me! After all, this is my first job. They can’t expect perfection the first time out.
The scratching stylus began to wear on Orne’s nerves. Creases furrowed Orne’s square forehead. He put his left hand up to the rough wooden window frame, ran his right hand through the stiff bristles of his close-cropped red hair. The loose cut of his white coverall uniform—standard for R&R agents—accentuated his blocky appearance. Blood suffused his full-jowled face. He felt himself vacillating between anger and the urge to give full vent to a pixie nature, which he usually kept under control.
He thought: If I’m wrong about this place, they’ll boot me out of the service. There’s too much bad blood between R&R and Investigation-Adjustment. This I-A joker would just love to make us look stupid. But by god! There’ll be some jumping if I’m right about Hamal!
Orne shook his head. But I’m probably wrong.
The more he thought about it, the more he felt it had been stupid to call in the I-A. Hamal probably was not aggressive by nature. Very likely there was no danger that R&R would provide the technological basis for arming a potential war maker.
Orne sighed. He felt a vague, dreamlike uneasiness. The sensation reminded him of the drifting awareness before awakening, the moments of clarity when action, thought and emotion combined.
Someone clumped down the stairs at the other end of the building. The floor shook beneath Orne’s feet. This was an old building, the government guesthouse, built of rough lumber. The room carried the sour smell of many former occupants and haphazard cleaning.
From his second-floor window Orne could see part of the cobblestone market square of this village of Pitsiben. Beyond the square he could make out the wide track of the ridge road that came up from the Plains of Rogga. Along the road stretched a double line of moving figures: farmers and hunters coming for market day in Pitsiben. Amber dust hung over the road. It softened the scene, imparted a romantic out-of-focus look.
Farmers leaned into the pushing harnesses of their low two-wheeled carts, plodding along with a heavy-footed swaying motion. They wore long green coats, yellow berets tipped uniformly over the left ear, yellow trousers, with cuffs darkened by the road dust, open sandals that revealed horny feet splayed out like the feet of draft animals. Their carts were piled high with green and yellow vegetables seemingly arranged to carry out the general pastel color scheme.
Brown-clothed hunters moved with the line, but at one side like flank guards. They strode along, heads high, cap feathers bobbing. Each carried a bell-muzzled fowling piece at a jaunty angle over one arm, a spyglass in a leather case over the left shoulder. Behind the hunters trotted their apprentices pulling three-wheeled game carts overflowing with tiny swamp deer, dappleducks and porjos, the snaketailed rodents which Hamalites considered such a delicacy.
On the distant valley floor Orne could see the dark-red spire of the I-A ship that had come flaming down just after dawn on this day, homing on his transmitter. The ship, too, seemed set in a dream haze, its shape clouded by blue smoke from kitchen fires in the farm homes that dotted the valley. The ship’s red shape towered above the homes, looking out of place, an ornament left over from holiday decorations for giants.
As Orne watched, a hunter paused on the ridge road, unlimbered his spyglass, studied the I-A ship. The hunter appeared only vaguely curious. His action didn’t fit expectations; it just didn’t fit.
The smoke and hot yellow sun conspired to produce a summery appearance to the countryside—a look of lush growing behind pastel heat. It was essentially a peaceful scene, arousing in Orne a deep feeling of bitterness.
Damn! I don’t care what the I-A says. I was right to call them. These Hamalites are hiding something. They’re not peaceful. The real mistake here was made by that dumbo on First-Contact when he gabbled about the importance we place on a peaceful history!
Orne grew aware that the scratching of the stylus had stopped. The I-A man cleared his throat.
Orne turned, looked across the low room at the operative. The I-A agent sat at a rough table beside Orne’s unmade bed. Papers and folders were scattered all around him on the table. A small recorder weighted one stack. The I-A man slouched in a bulky wooden chair. He was big-headed, gangling and with overlarge features, a leathery skin. His hair was dark and straggling. The eyelids drooped. They gave to his face that look of haughty s
The chief operative, Orne thought. Why’d they send the chief operative?
Stetson noted Orne’s attention, said: “I believe we have most of it now. Let’s just check it over once more for luck. You landed here ten weeks ago, right?”
“Yes. I was set down by a landing boat from the R&R transport, Arneb Rediscovery.”
“This was your first mission?”
“I told you that. I graduated from Uni-Galacta with the class of ’07, and did my apprentice work on Timurlain.”
Stetson frowned. “Then they sent you right out here to this newly rediscovered backwater planet?”
“I see. And you were full of the old rah-rah, the old missionary spirit to uplift mankind, all that sort of thing.”
Orne blushed, scowled.
Stetson nodded. “I see they’re still teaching that ‘cultural renaissance’ bushwa at dear old Uni-Galacta.” He put a hand to his breast, raised his voice in an elaborate caricature: “We must reunite the lost planets with the centers of culture and industry, and take up the glo-rious onward march of mankind that was cut off so brutally by the Rim Wars!”
He spat on the floor.
“I think we can skip all that,” Orne muttered.
“You’re sooooo right,” Stetson said. “Now, what’d you bring with you to this lovely vacation spot?”
“I had a dictionary compiled by First-Contact, but it was pretty sketchy in ...”
“Who was that First-Contact?”
“Name on the dictionary says André Bullone.”
“Oh—Any relation to High Commissioner Bullone?”
“I don’t know.”
Stetson scribbled something on his papers. “And that First-Contact report says this is a special place, a peaceful planet with a primitive farming-hunting economy, eh?”