Infinite Entanglement story discussion

Jer

The Living Flame
I’ve been listening to the Infinite Entanglement trilogy a fair amount lately, and while I have a pretty good grip on the story, there are still a few holes. I figured I’d toss out my understanding and see what other people’s thoughts were.

Characters:
  • Captain William Christopher Black: The main character, a former special forces officer who later became a mercenary after believing his wife had killed herself and their daughter. He murdered with abandon during his time as a mercenary, and was later surreptitiously recruited for the space mission.
  • Pembridge: The man behind the space mission who has a secret plan to murder all of the mission’s passengers and any indigenous people on the new planet, then start a new human civilization with the genetics of his choosing, installing himself as a god.
  • Brewer: A scientist working for Pembridge who has developed a method of transferring human consciousness into robotic forms. She also appears to be familiar with hypnotic suggestion, and has a way to communicate with the sentient robots in a form that feels to them like telepathy. She may be secretly working against Pembridge’s interests.
Story:

William Black is recruited into the space mission. Brewer has developed a method to transfer human consciousness into a robot body, but instead of telling Black about this, they just feed him a story about some procedure that will artificially extend his life, and explain that he will have a space suit surgically attached to his body for his own safety during the mission.

It doesn’t seem like this ruse works very well, because Black questions his humanity the first time he looks upon himself in the robot body, and appears to know that he’s at least part machine.

The three ships that are part of the mission are charged up and propelled by solar flares and radiation, carrying them to light speed. Black grapples with his doubts and loneliness over the long journey. (There’s an out of place reference to the Eagle Spirit here, which doesn’t show up again until much later.)

Black has nightmares about Brewer and Pembridge discussing his fate, an “undermission”, and memories of going on a killing spree on the ship. He is assured that these are only nightmares, and at first he believes this, but begins to have doubts.

Black eventually remembers Pembridge discussing his plan to cleanse the new world, the ship, and Black himself, and explicitly remembers killing the other occupants of the ship. He now knows for sure he’s been lied to, and that his death is imminent.

Pembridge orders the ship to be cleansed by fire. Black attempts to escape, and winds up outside the ship, damaged but not destroyed. Brewer communicates with him remotely and gives him a pep talk and some vague direction to find his way back to the convoy’s destination.

Black seems to confuse his memories of Brewer and his dead wife, thinking back on a simpler time when he was happy, then noticing that his telepathic connection with Brewer is fading with distance, while thinking back to the last special ops mission he took and how it ultimately cost him the lives of his wife and child. As his telepathic connection fails, Black again confuses his memories of Brewer and his wife, thinking back on what they meant to him and how he fell short.

Pembridge’s plan is laid out in more detail, with his intention to rule the new world as its god. The first ship will carry weapons to eliminate the indigenous people, the second will arrive 32 years later to build his “holy city”, and the third will arrive another 32 years later, carrying Pembridge himself, now in immortal form (presumably transferred into his own robot body), to rule over the “genetically perfect” humans he will create.

Black sputters his way toward the new world on his own, eventually reaching its atmosphere around the same time as the first ship, crashing to the ground as a shooting star. This apparently matches a prophecy of the indigenous people that a dead “eagle brother” would arrive at the same time that a ship full of golden gods would show up to hunt them.

Black awakens, realizing he has arrived at the new world, and marvels at what this means. The locals pray for him, giving him the strength to stand up and carry on.

Black thinks back to the moment he left on his final mission, and how it devastated his wife; then he thinks about all he has endured since that moment, and again revels in the fact that he has arrived in one piece on this new world. He finally lets go of his regret, accepts who he is and where he is, and resolves to change.

Standing among the locals who revere him as an agent of prophecy, William Black recognizes their pain and sufferering and realizes that he is there for a reason — to fight for these people against those who had used and deceived him.

Questions:
  • Doesn’t the song order seem a bit jumbled in places? Black seems to be onto the lie about his space suit immediately in “Human”, and he’s already talking about knowing their plans on the first album when it seems like “Blood” is the moment he’s supposed to actually remember, leading into “Eating Lies”. Also, “Escape Velocity” seems like it should have happened early on the first album.
  • What’s with the Eagle Spirit references in “Solar Wind”? I thought that was supposed to be something from the aliens’ local religion, so Black shouldn’t have any point of reference for it before then.
  • Why did Pembridge need Black at all, if he already had a way to burn out the insides of the ship?
  • Why were a billion people on the ship in the first place? Did Pembridge take their money to finance the mission and then turn on them?
  • Did Pembridge blow up the Earth when he left? I thought I heard some mumbles to that effect in one of the instrumental sections, but I wasn’t sure.
  • If the ships were traveling at light speed, how could Black ever catch up to them after being ejected from the ship and left behind?
  • What happened to Brewer after Black was left behind? We never hear anything else about her, even though she wanted Black to find her.
  • What’s the deal with Black munging together his memories of his wife and Brewer? That seemed kind of weird.
  • How could Brewer stay in contact with Black during the entire millennium-long mission unless she had also transferred into a robot body, or her voice was just a figment of his imagination at that point?
The trilogy does seem to leave the story hanging, since Pembridge is supposed to show up in another 64 years, and at that point Black presumably would have put a stop to the pre-invasion and there would be some sweet robot-to-robot fisticuffs and a reunion with Brewer, but I guess it’s just not meant to be.

Any thoughts? Any different understandings of the story?
 
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Jer

The Living Flame
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the business about Brewer orchestrating the murder of Black’s wife and daughter and making it look like a murder-suicide. I mean, WTF. Black never really seems to react to this, so maybe that was just a tidbit for the listener.
 

Jer

The Living Flame
OK, I guess I’m deaf, because I only just realized that the beginning of “Redeemer” is talking about Brewer being killed and having it set up to look like a suicide. There must be two female characters that just sound a lot alike.

So she must have been killed before the ships left, which begs the question of who Black was communicating with “telepathically”. Or was she just a figment of his imagination after all? Maybe that better explains his repeatedly confusing Brewer and his dead wife, if it’s all just thoughts in his damaged robot mind.
 
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