The human brain has got a lot to answer for.
For one thing, it doesn’t work very well. Most of us pretty much get by, but it’s hard to really rely on a human brain, isn’t it? You’re always liable to stumble into some unexpected issue, a difficulty, an “undocumented feature.” Maybe your brain nudges you into unconscious habits, or traps you in strange, interminable loops. There’s no telling what you’ll get, with a human brain.
But the other thing is, interoperability is just terrible.
Whoever designed these things clearly didn’t have communication in mind. Didn’t trouble to put in some sort of sensible protocol for brain-to-brain messaging, or at least transmitting internal state, no. Instead, the best we can manage is for our semi-functional brain to try and translate its semi-functional internal workings into wholly inadequate representations as words and sounds. And then other brains, themselves with all their own issues and idiosyncrasies and incidentally each running on an entirely different operating system, need to translate all that back and try and make some sense out of it.
Honestly, I feel maybe the original plan was to only have one brain, anywhere, ever. Having more than one just wasn’t in the spec; came as a bit of a surprise. Communication? Collaboration? Maintaining some kind of consistency or shared agreement between different brains? Oh, we didn’t plan for any of that. There was only supposed to be one of ‘em.
So what we actually got is that every human brain is like a vast, uncharted jungle. Well, some are jungles; others might be spaceships, or coral reefs, or warehouses. There’s no telling what you’ll get, with a human brain. Most of them have just the one native resident—the one who’s lived there forever, and at least gotten to know the lay of the land. And they can talk to each other, sure, but only by carrier pigeon.
Every person is a kind of pocket universe.
Communication is a kind of impossibility.
Being understood—being seen—is a kind of miracle.
* * *
Fiction is a form of telepathy, too.
It’s one of the workarounds we’ve found. A way to let somebody inside your head. Or to get inside of somebody else’s.
Our mind to your mind; our thoughts to your thoughts.
Here are four stories imagining those barriers being bent, or broken, or reshaped into something entirely new.
We’re reaching out across the void, all of us. Let’s see where we touch.
—Ziv Wities, Guest Editor
This editorial is part of our special telepathy issue, Diabolical Thoughts.
Click here for the entire Diabolical Thoughts transmission.