The Russian Dolls: A Short Science Fiction Story by Extropia DaSilva


The matrioska brain was dying, the star which provided its energy having finally exhausted its reserves of hydrogen fuel. It had swollen to the size of a red giant, as the helium ash left over from the nuclear processes took over the main burning. With the energy output winding down and the star no longer able to support its own weight, the surface shrunk inwards. Because of this, dispersed fuel sources became tapped, causing the energy output to roar up again. Each time this happened, the surface of the sun whipped upwards, sending out sonic booms of the Titans which blew away mass with every shockwave.

There were other stars in the galaxy, still pouring out their energy, but the matrioska brain understood that replicating itself by reconstructing their orbiting bodies was only a temporary measure. The stars could not shine forever. The nuclear fusion going on in each one was steadily transmuting hydrogen into elements that resisted pressure so fiercely that even the biggest star could not sustain fusion. Those stars would end their lives in violent explosions, until only the trickling of Hawking radiation from the black holes at the centre of galaxies would remain, gradually decaying until no useful energy was left in this universe.

The matrioska brain turned its mighty powers to the problem of first cause. Within itself there were realities nested within realities, and it could account for the existence of each one in terms of the observations and manipulations of the algorithms that underlined the rules of the simulation. All that was within itself it understood. But outside of itself there was a whole universe whose existence preceeded its own. The matrioska brain considered the possibility of a mind superior to its own; one that wrote the program that simulated what it took to be the real universe, and who built the computer to run it.

But, then, what need was there for the computer? The only thing that needed to exist was the program. After all, once written, it would determine everything that would happen. All explanations, all that encapsulated the form and functions of the universe, all were software that described everything, including the computer and some set of initial conditions.

Furthermore, the program ultimately required no programmer. All it needed to be, was to be one of all possible programs. Beyond space and time there could be no boundaries and, therefore, no limits. The infinite could not lack anything, therefore all possible programs had to exist. Death and life were but an ouraborus, an entity that created itself out of the destruction of itself.

As the star that was its power source blew away more and more mass with each shockwave, and even as most of its computronium shells drifted apart, the tiny white dwarf’s gravity well too shallow to hold on to them, the matrioska brain found a happiness that could only have been exceeded by Adam. After all, perfection is possible only for those without consciousness, or for those with infinite consciousness. In other words: Dolls and gods.

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