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“We're a little light on mathematicians in this expedition, damn brain-boxes tend to not travel well.”
   — Ken Bowring



Doctor Ken Bowring was a seismologist working for the US Geological survey and was sent to Earth West 1,217,756 aboard the USS Brian Cowley to lead a team of scientists in order to study the silver beetles around 2058.[1]

The Long Utopia

Earth West 1,217,756 and the silver beetles

Around 2058, the militaries sent the USS Brian Cowley to Earth West 1,217,756 to study the phenomena of the silver beetles and try to find why the days were shortening.[1] Ken was put in charge of the team of scientists that travelled aboard the ship.

Despite having taken the Cowley on a tour on this footprint of North America, the ship's crew still didn't know why the silver beetles were building their viaducts. It took the intervention of George Abrahams, a local pioneer, to learn that the beetles were building a Dyson motor.

George was introduced to Ken by Margarita Jha, the chief science officer of the ship.[2] George explained the principle of the Dyson motor using a globe made from a basketball. When George told them that the beetles were not from Earth, over the carcass of one of the creatures, Ken asked what proof they had of that claim. Helped with the local kids, Ken and the militaries were brought to the the Planetarium.

During his time at the Planetarium, where the militaries had set up camp, Ken was able to guess the location of the planet and that the beetles were also not from there.[3] He explained to Margarita and George that the creatures were xenophorming this planet and that they were an expansionist species. The trio came to the conclusion that somewhere across this galaxy, someone was fighting against the beetle, slowing their progress. As a result, having met humans on Earth and having learned to anticipate resistance, they didn't try to xenomorph the planet but accelerated their project in order to dismantle this Earth.

World tour

In January 2059, the day was now reduced to twelve hours, Nathan decided to take a selected group of passengers on a global expedition to show the extent of the damages caused by the silver beetles and what they had learned so far.[4] Among the passengers were the famous Joshua Valienté, Sally Linsay, George Abrahams and his wife Agnes who proved to be androids, a long-lost copy of George back from the remote Long Earths, Oliver and Marina Irwin as representatives of the locals and two Next, Stella Welch and Marvin Lovelace, summoned by George.

As Ken and Margarita were discussing the consequences of the shortening of the day to the local lifeforms, they were scolded by Marina Irwin for being cold and thinking what was happening was 'interesting'. Ken seeing that he had hurt the feelings of the pioneers apologized.

The next day, they finally reached New York's footprint.[5] As they were hovering on top of this world's version of Rhode Island, Joshua saw that it was bare rock now when a few months ago there were still trees on it. Margarita and Ken explained to their passengers that any attempt at contacting or harming the beetles failed. They even used a nuke to destroy the viaduct by it was rebuilt in forty-eight hours.

Understanding that the beetles couldn't be stopped, Stella Welch, one of the Next, stepped up and announced that this world was doomed but they had to prevent the beetles to spread to the other Earths by sealing this world off from the inside. For this, they would have to ask for the help of a young boy named Stan Berg, supposedly the strongest Next there was, but it meant that Stan would be sacrificing his life.

The Cauterizing

The operation of sealing the world off was named the Cauterizing by the militaries.[6] The day was now reduced to eight hours. Sally Linsay went all the way to Miami West 4 to get Stan and came back. The Cowley was still hovering on top of what was left of this world, the New Springfielders long gone somewhere else, as people were saying goodbye to those giving up their lives to save the Long Earths.

The ship stepped away with its passengers as Stan Berg, Sally Linsay and George Abrahams stayed behind.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Long Utopia - Chapter 38
  2. The Long Utopia - Chapter 39
  3. The Long Utopia - Chapter 40
  4. The Long Utopia - Chapter 45
  5. The Long Utopia - Chapter 47
  6. The Long Utopia - Chapter 51

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