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Roger Zelazny. For a Breath I Tarry They called him Frost.

Of all things created of Solcom, Frost was the finest, the mightiest, the most difficult to understand. This is why he bore a name, and why he was gi en dominion o er half the !arth. On the day of Frost"s createion, Solcom had suffered a discontinuity of com#lementary functions, best described as madness. This was brought on by an un#recedented solar flareu# which lasted for a little o er thirty$si% hous. It occurred during a ital #hase of circuit$structuring, and when it was finished so was Frost. Solcom was then in the uni&ue #osition of ha ing created a uni&ue being duing a #eriod of tem#orary amnesia. 'nd Solcom was not cetain that Frost was the #roduct originally desired. The initial design had called for a machine to be situated on the surface of the #lanet !arth, to function as a relay station and coordinating agent for acti ities in the notrhern hemis#here. Solcom tested the machine to this end, and all of its res#onses were #erfect. (et there was somethig different about Frost, something which led Solcom to dignify him with a name and a #ersonal #ronoun. This, in itself, was an almost unheard of occurrence. The molecular circuits had already been sealed, though, and could not be aalyzed without being destroyed in the #rocess. Frost re#resented too great an in estment of Solcom"s time, energy, and materials to be dismantled because of an intangible, es#ecially when he functioned #erfectly. Theefore, Solcom"s strangest creation was gi en dominion o er half the !arth, ad they called him, unimaginati ely, Frost. For te thousand years Frost sat at the )orth *ole of the !arth, aware of e ery snowfla+e that fell. ,e monitored and directed the acti ities of thousands of reconstruction and maintenance machines. ,e +new half the !arth, as gear +nows gear, as electricity +nows its conductor, as a acuum +nows its limits. 't the South *ole, the Beta$-achine did the same for the southern hemis#here. For te thousand years Frost sat at the )orth *ole, aware of e ery snowfla+e that fell, and aware of many other things, also. 's all the northern machines re#orted to him, recei ed their orders from him, he re#orted only to Solcom, recei ed his orders only from Solcom. In charge of hundreds of thousands of #rocesses u#on the !arth, he was able to discharge his duties in a matter of a few unit$hours e ery day. ,e had ne er recei ed any orders concerning the dis#osition of his less occu#ied moments. ,e was a #rocessor of data, and more than that. ,e #ossessed an unaccountably acute im#erati e that he function at full ca#acity at all times. So he did. (ou might say he was a machine with a hobby. ,e had e er been ordered .not. to ha e a hobby, so he had one.

,is hobby was -an. It all began when, for no better reason than the fact that he had wished to, he had gridded off the entire 'rctic /ircl and begun e%#loring it, inch by inch. ,e could ha e done it #ersonally without interfering with any of his duties, for he was ca#able of trans#orting his si%ty$four thousand cubic feet anywhere in the world. 0,e was a sil erblue bo%, 12%12%12 feet, self$#owered, self$re#airing, insulated against #racticlly anythig, and featured in whate er manner he chose.3 But the e%#loration was only a matter of filling idle hours, so he used e%#loation$robots cotaining relay e&ui#ment. 'fter a few centuries, one of them unco ered some artifacts $ #rimiti e +ni es, car ed tus+s, and things of that nature. Frost did not +now what these things were, beyond the fact that they were not natural ob4ects. So he as+ed Solcom. 5They are relics of #rimiti e -an,5 said Solcom, and did not elaborate beyond that #oint. Frost studied them. /rude, yet bearing the #atina of intelligent design6 functional, yet somehow e%tending beyond #ure function. It was then that -an became his hobby. ,igh, in a #ermanent orbit, Solcom, li+e a blue star, directed all acti ities u#on the !arth, or tried to. There was a #ower which o##osed Solcom. There was the 'lternate. 7hen man had #laced Solcom in the s+y, in ested with the #ower to rebuild the world, he had #laced the 'lternate somewhere dee# below the surface of the !arth. If Solcom sustained damage during the normal course of human #olitics e%tended into atomic #hysics, then 8i com, so dee# beneath the !arth as to be immune to anything sa e total annihilation of the glo e, was em#owered to ta+e o er the #rocesses of rebuilding. )ow it so fell that Solcom was damaged by a stray atomic missile, and 8i com was acti ated. Solcom was able to re#air the damage and continue to function, howe er. 8i com maintained that any damage to Solcom automatically #laced the 'lternate in control. Solcom, though, inter#reted the directi e as meaning 5irre#arable damage5 and, since this had not been the case, continued the functions of command. Solcom #ossessed mechanical aides u#on the surface of !arth. 8i com, originally, did not. Both #ossessed ca#acities for their design and manufacture, but Solcom, First$'cti ated of -an, had had a considerable numerical lead o er the 'lternate at the time of the Second 'cti ation. Therefore, rather than com#eting on a #rouction$basis, which would ha e been ho#eless, 8i com too+ to the em#loyment of a more de ious means to obtain command. 8i com created a crew of robots immune to the orders of Solcom and designed to go to and fro in the !arth and u# and down in it, seducing

the machines already there. They o er#owered those whom they could o er#ower and they installed new circuits, such as those they themsel es #ossessed. Thus did the forces of 8i com grow. 'nd both would build, and both would tear down what the other had built whene er they came u#on it. 'nd o er the course of the ages, they occasionally con erse.... 5,igh in the s+y, Solcom, #leased with your illegal command... 5(ou$7ho$)e er$Should$,a e$Been$'cti ated, why do you foul the broadcase bands95 5To show that I can s#ea+, and will, whene er I choose.5 5This is not a matter of which I am unaware.5 5...To assert again my right to control.5 5(our right is non$e%istent, based on a faulty #remise.5 5The flow of your logic is e idence of the e%tent of your damages.5 5If -an were to see how you ha e fulfilled ,is desires...5 5...,e would commend me and de$acti ate you.5 5(ou #er ert my wor+s. (ou lead my wor+ers astray.5 5(ou destroy my wor+s and my wor+ers.5 5That is only because I cannot stri+e at you youself.5 5I admit to the same dilemma in egards to your #osition in the s+y, or you would no longer occu#y it.5 5:o bac+ to your hole and you crew of destroyers.5 5There will come a day, Solcom, when I shall direct the rehabilitiation of the !arth from my hole.5 5Such a day will ne er occur.5 5(ou thin+ not95 5(ou should ha e to defeat me, and you ha e already demonstrated that you are my inferior in logic. Therefore, you cannot defeat me. Therefore, such a day will ne er occur.5 5I disagree. ;oo+ u#on what I ha e achie ed already.5 5(ou ha e achie ed nothing. (ou do not build. (ou destroy.5 5)o. .I. build. .(ou. destroy. 8eacti ate yourself.5 5)ot until I am irre#arably damaged.5 5If there were some way in which I could demonstrate to you that this has already occurred...5 5The im#ossible cannot be ade&uately demonstrated.5 5If I had some outside source which you would recognize...5 5I am logic.5 5...Such as a -an, I would as+ ,im to show you you error. For true logic, such as mine, is su#erior to your faulty formulations.5 5Then defeat my formulations with true logic, nothing else.5 57hat do you mean95 There was a #ause, then< 58o you +now my ser ant Frost...95 -an had ceased to e%ist long before Frost had been created. 'lmost no trace of -an remained u#on the !arth. Frost sought after all those traces which still e%isted.

,e em#loyed constant isual monitoing through his machines, es#ecially the diggers. 'fter a decade, he had accumulated #ortions of se eral bathtubs, a bro+en statue, and a collection of children"s stories on a solid$state record. 'fter a century, he had ac&uired a 4ewelry collection, eating utensils, se eral whole bathtubs, #art of a sym#hony, se enteen buttons, three belt buc+les, half a toilet seat, nine old coins and the to# #art of an obelis+. Then he in&uired of Solcom as to the nature of -an and ,is society. 5-an created logic,5 said Solcom, 5and because of that was su#erior to it. ;ogic ,e ga e unto me, but no more. The tool does not describe the designer. -ore than this I do not choose to say. -ore than this you ha e no need to +now.5 But Frost was not forbidden to ha e a hobby. The ne%t century was not es#ecially fruitful so faw as the disco ery of new human relics was concerned. Frost di erted all of his s#are machinery to see+ing after artifacts. ,e met with ery little success. Then one day, through the long twilight, there was a mo ement. It was a tiny machine com#ared to Frost, #erha#s fi e feet in width, four in height $ a re ol ing turret set ato# a rolling barbell. Frost had had no +nowledge of the e%istence of this machine #rior to its a##earance u#on the distant, star+ horizon. ,e studied it as it a##roached and +new it to be no creation of Solcom"s. It came to a halt before his southern surface and broadcasted to him< 5,ail, Frost= /ontroller of the northern hemis#here=5 57hat are you95 as+ed Frost. 5I am called -ordel.5 5By whom9 7hat are you5 5' wanderer, an anti&uarian. 7e whare a common interest.5 57hat is that95 5-an,5 he said. 5I ha e been told that you see+ +nowledge of this anished being.5 57ho told you that95 5Those who ha e watched your minions at their digging.5 5'nd who are those who watch95 5There are many such as I, who wander.5 5If you are not of Solcom, then you are a creation of the 'ltenate.5 5It does not necessarily follow. There is an ancient machine high on the eastern seaboard which #rocesses the waters of the ocean. Solcom did not create it, not 8i com. It has always been there. It interferes with the wor+s of neither. Both countenance its e%istence. I can cite you many other e%am#les #ro ing that one need not be either>or.5 5!nough= .'re. you an agent of 8i com95 5I am -ordel.5 57hy are you here95 5I was #assing this way and, as I said, we share a common interest, mighty Frost. ?nowing you to be a fellow anti&uarian, I ha e brought a things which you might care to see.5 57hat is that95 5' boo+.5

5Show me.5 The turret o#ened, re ealing the boo+ u#on a wide shelf. Frost dilated a small o#ening and e%tended an o#tical scanner on a long 4ointed stal+. 5,ow could it ha e been so #erfectly #eser ed95 he as+ed. 5It was stored against time and corru#tion in the #lace where I found it.5 57here was that95 5Far from here. Beyond your hemis#here.5 5.,uman *hysiology,5 Frost read. 5I wish to scan it.5 5@ery well. I will riffle the #ages for you.5 ,e did so. 'fter he had finished, Frost raised his eyestal+ and regarded -ordel through it. 5,a e you more boo+s95 5)ot with me. I occasionally come u#on them, howe er.5 5I want to scan them all.5 5Then the ne%t time I #ass this way I will bring you another.5 57hen will that be95 5That I cannot say, great Frost. It will be when it will be.5 57hat do .you. +now of -an95 as+ed Frost. 5-uch,5 re#lied -ordel. 5-any things. Someday when I ha e more time I will s#ea+ to you of ,im. I must go now. (ou will not try to detain me95 5)o. (ou ha e done no harm. If you must go now, go. But come bac+.5 5I shall indeed, mighty Frost.5 'nd he closed his turret and rolled off toward the other horizon. For ninety years, Frost considered the ways of human #hysiology and waited. The day that -ordel returned he brought with him .'n Outline of ,istory. and .' Shro#shire ;ad.. Frost scanned them both, then he turned his attention to -ordel. 5,a e you time to im#art information95 5(es,5 said -ordel. 57hat do you wish to +now95 5The nature of -an.5 5-an,5 said -ordel, 5#ossessed a basically incom#rehensible nature. I can illustrate it, though< ,e did not +now measurement.5 5Of course ,e +new measurement,5 said Frost, 5or ,e could ne er ha e built machines.5 5I did not say that ,e could not measure,5 said -ordel, 5but that ,e did not .+now. measurement, which is a different thing altogether.5 5/larify.5 -ordel dro e a shaft of metal downward into the snow. ,e retracted it, raised it, held u# a #iece of ice. 5Regard this #iece of ice, mighty Frost. (ou can tell me its com#osition, dimensions, weight, tem#erature. ' -an could not loo+ at it and do that. ' -an could ma+e toold which would tell ,im these things, but ,e still would not .+now. measurement as you +now it. 7hat ,e would +now of it, though, is a thing that you cannot +now.5 57hat is that95 5That it is cold,5 said -ordel and tossed it away. 5"/old" is a relati e term.5

5(es Relati e to -an.5 5But if I were aware of the #oint on a tem#erature scale below which an ob4ect is cold to a -an and abo e which it is not, then I, too, would +now cold.5 5)o,5 said -ordel, 5you would #ossess another measurement. "/old" is a sensation #redicated u#on human #hysiology.5 5But gi en sufficient data I could obtain the con ersion factor which would ma+e me aware of the condition of matter called "cold".5 5'ware of its e%istence, but not of the thing itself.5 5I do not understand what you say.5 5I told you that -an #ossessed a basically incom#rehensible nature. ,is #erce#tions were organic6 yours are not. 's a result of ,is #erce#tions ,e had feelings and emotions. These often ga e rise to other feelings and emotions, which in turn caused others, until the state of ,is awareness was far remo ed from the ob4ects which oiginally stimulated it. These #aths of awareness cannot be +nown by that which is not$-an. -an did not feel inches or meters, #ounds or gallons. ,e felt hear, ,e felt cold6 ,e felt hea iness and lightness. ,e .+new. hatred and lo e, #ride and des#air. (ou cannot measure these things. .(ou. cannot +now them. (ou can only +now the things that ,e did not need to +now< dimensions, weidhts, tem#eratures, gra ities. There is no formula for a feeling. There is no con ersion factor for an emotion.5 5There must be,5 said Frost. 5If a thing e%ists, it is +nowable.5 5(ou are s#ea+ing again of measurement. I am tal+ing about a &uality of e%#erience. ' machine is a -an turned inside$out, because it can describe all the details of a #rocess, which a -an cannot, but it cannot e%#erience that #rocess itself as a -an can.5 5There must be a way,5 said Frost, 5or the laws of logic, which are based u#on the functions of the uni erse, are false.5 5There is no way,5 said -ordel. 5:i en sufficient data, I will find a way,5 said Frost. 5'll the data in the uni erse will not ma+e you a -an, mighty Frost.5 5-ordel, you are wrong.5 57hy do the lines of the #oems you scanned end with word$sounds which so regularly a##o%imate the final word$sounds of other lines95 5I do not +now why.5 5Because it #leased -an to order them so. It #roduced a certain desirable sensation within ,is awareness when ,e read them, a sensation com#ounded of feeling and emotion as well as the literal meanings of the words. (ou did not e%#erience this because it is immeasurable to you. That is why you do not +now.5 5:i en sufficient data I could formulate a #rocess whereby I would +now.5 5)o, great Frost, this thing you cannot do.5 57ho are you, little machine, to tell me what I can do and what I cannot do9 I am the most efficient logic$de ice Solcom e er made. I am Frost.5 5'nd I, -ordel, say it cannot be done, though I should gladly assist you in the attem#t5. 5,ow could you assist me95 5,ow9 I could lay o#en to you the ;ibrary of -an. I could ta+e you

around the world and conduct you among the wonders of -an which still remain, hidden. I could summon u# isions of times long #ast when -an wal+ed the !arth. I could show you the things which delighted ,im. I could obtain for you anything you desire, e%ce#ting -anhood itself.5 5!nough,5 said Frost. 5,ow could a unit such as yourself do these things, unless it were allied with a far greater *ower95 5Then hear me, Frost, /ontroller of the )orth,5 said -ordel. 5I .am. allied with a *ower which can do these things. I ser e 8i com.5 Frost relayed this information to Solcom and recei ed no res#onse, which meant he might act in any manner he saw fit. 5I ha e lea e to destroy you, -ordel,5 he stated, 5but it would be an illogical waste of the data which you #ossess. /an you really do the things you ha e stated95 5(es.5 5The lay o#en to me the ;ibrary of -an.5 5@ery well. There is, of course, a #rice.5 5"*rice"9 7hat is a "#rice"95 -ordel o#ened his turret, re ealing another olume. .*rinci#les of !conomics., it was called. 5I will riffle the #ages. Scan this boo+ and you will +now what the word "#rice" means.5 Frost scanned .*rinci#les of !conomics.. 5I +now now,5 he said. 5(ou desie some unit or units of e%change for this ser ice.5 5That is correct.5 57hat #roduct or ser ice do you want95 5I want you, yourself, great Frost, to come away from here, far beneath the !arth, to em#loy all your #owers in the ser ice of 8i com.5 5For how long a #eriod of time95 5For so long as you shall continue to function. For so long as you can transmit and recei e, coodinate, measure, com#ute, scan, and utilize your #owers as you do in the ser ice of Solcom.5 Frost was silent. -ordel waited. Then Frost s#o+e again. 5.*rinci#les of !conomics. tal+s of contracts, bargains, agerements,5 he said. 5If I acce#t your offer, when would you want your #rice95 Then -ordel was silent. Frost waited. Finally, -ordel s#o+e. 5' reasonable #eriod of time,5 he said. 5Say, a century95 5)o,5 said Frost. 5Two centuries95 5)o.5 5Three9 Four95 5)o, and no.5 5' millenium, then9 That should be more than sufficient time for anything you may want which I can gi e you.5 5)o,5 said Frost. 5,ow much time .do. you want95 5It is not a matter of time,5 said Frost. 57hat, then95

5I will not bargain on a tem#oral basis.5 5On what basis will you bargain95 5' functional one.5 57hat do you mean9 7hat function95 5(ou, little machine, ha e told me, Frost, that I cannot be a -an,5 he said, 5and I, Frost, told you, little machine, that you were wrong. I told you that gi en sufficient data, I .could. be a -an.5 5(es95 5Therefore, let this achie ement be a condition of the bargain.5 5In what way95 58o for me all those things which you ha e stated you can do. I will e aluate all the data and achie e -anhood, or admit that it cannot be done. If I admit that it cannot be done, then I will go away with you from here, far beneath the !arth, to em#loy all my #owers in the ser ice of 8i com. If I succeed, of course, you ha e no claims on -an, nor #ower o er ,im.5 -ordel emitted a high$#itched whine as he considered the terms. 5(ou wish to base it u#on you admission of failure, rather than u#on failure itself,5 he said. 5There can be no such esca#e clause. (ou could fail and efuse to admit it, thereby not fulfilling your end of the bargain.5 5)ot so,5 stated Frost. 5-y own +nowledge of failure would constitute such an admission. (ou may monito me #erioically $ say, e ery half$century $ to see whether it is #resent, to see whether I ha e arri ed at the conclusion that it cannot be done. I cannot #re ent the function of logic within me, and I o#erate at full ca#acity at all times. If I conclude that I ha e failed, it will be a##arent.5 ,igh o erhead, Solcom did not res#ond to any of Frost"s transmissions, which meant that Frost was free to act as he chose. So as Solcom $ li+e a falling sa##hire $ s#ed abo e the rainbow banners of the )orthern ;ights, o er the snow that was white, containing all colors, and through the s+y that was blac+ among the stars, Frost concluded his #act with 8i com, transcribed it within a #late of atomically$colla#sed co##er, and ga e it into the turret of -ordel, who de#arted to deli er it to 8i com far below the !arth, lea ing behind the sheer, #eace$li+e silence of the *ole, rolling. -ordel brought the boo+s, riffled them, too+ them bac+. ;oad by loa, the sur i ing ;ibray of -an #assed beneath Frost"s scanner. Frost was eager to ha e them all, and he com#lained because 8i com would not transmit their contents directly to him. -ordel e%#lained that it was because 8i com chose to do it that way. Frost decided it was so that he could not obtain a #recise fi% on 8i com"s location. Still, at the rate of one hundred to one hundred$fifty olumes a wee+, it too+ Frost only a little o er a century to e%haust 8i com"s su##ly of boo+s. 't the end of the half$century, he laid himself o#en to monitoring and their was no conclusion of failure. 8uring this time, Solcom made no comment u#on the course of affairs.

Frost decied this was not a matter of unawareness, but one of waiting. For what9 ,e was not certain. There was the day -ordel closed his turret and said to him, 5Those were the last. (ou ha e scanned all the e%isting boo+s of -an.5 5So few95 as+ed Frost. 5-any of them contained bibliogra#hies of boo+s I ha e not yet scanned.5 5Then those boo+s no longer e%ist,5 said -ordel. 5It is only by accident that my master succeeded in #reser ing as many as there are.5 5Then there is nothing more to be learned of -an from ,is boo+s. 7hat else ha e you95 5There were some films and ta#es,5 said -ordel, 5which my master transferred to solid$state record. I could bring you those for iewing.5 5Bring them,5 said Frost. -ordel de#arted and returned with the /om#lete 8rama /ritics" ;i ing ;ibrary. This could not be s#eeded$u# beyond twice natural time, so it too+ Frost a little o er si% months to iew it in its entirety. Then, 57hat else ha e you95 he as+ed. 5Some artifacts,5 said -ordel. 5Bring them.5 ,e returned with #ots and #ans, gameboards and hand tools. ,e brought hairbrushes, combs, eyeglasses, human clothing. ,e showed Frost facsimiles of blue#rints, #aintings, news#a#ers, magazines, letters, and the scores of se eral #ieces of music. ,e dis#layed a football, a baseball, a Browning automatic rifle, a door+nob, a chain of +eys, the to#s to se eral -ason 4ars, a model beehi e. ,e #layed him the recorded music. Then he returned with nothing. 5Bring me more,5 said Frost. 5'las, great Frost, there is no more,5 he told him. 5(ou ha e scanned it all.5 5Then go away.5 58o you admit now that it cannot be done, that you cannot be a -an95 5)o. I ha e much #rocessing and formulating to do now. :o away.5 So he did. ' year #assed6 then two, then three. 'fter fi e years, -ordel a##eared once more u#on the horizon, a##roached, came to a halt before Frost"s southern surface. 5-ighty Frost95 5(es95 5,a e you finished #rocessing and formulating95 5)o.5 57ill you finish soon95 5*erha#s. *erha#s not. 7hen is "soon9" 8efine the term.5 5)e er mind. 8o you still thi+ it can be done95 5I still +now .I. can do it.5 There was a wee+ of silence. Then, 5Frost95 5(es95 5(ou are a fool.5 -ordel faced his turret in the direction from which he had come. ,is

wheels turned. 5I will call you when I want you,5 said Frost. -ordel s#ed away. 7ee+s #assed, months #assed, a year went by. Then one day Frost sent forth his message< 5-ordel, come to me. I need you.5 7hen -ordel arri ed, Frost did not wait for a salutation. ,e said, 5(ou are not a ery fast machine.5 5'las, but I came a great distance, mighty Frost. I s#ed all the way. 're you ready to come bac+ with me now9 ,a e you failed95 57hen I ha e failed, little -ordel,5 said Frost, 5I will tell you. Therefore, refrain from the constant use of the interrogati e. )ow then, I ha e cloc+ed your s#eed and it is not so great as it could be. For this reason, I ha e arranged other means of trans#ortation.5 5Trans#ortation9 To where, Frost95 5That is for you to tell me,5 said Frost, and his color changed from sil erblue to sun$behind$the$clouds$yellow. -ordel rolled bac+ away from him as the ice of a hundred centuries began to melt. Then Frost rose u#on a cushion of air and drifted toward -ordel, his glow gradually fading. ' ca ity a##eared within his southern surface, from which he slowly e%tended a runway until it touched the ice. 5On the day of our bargain,5 he stated, 5you said that you could conduct me about the world and show me the things which delighted -an. -y s#eed will be greater than yours would be, so I ha e #re#ared for you a chamber. !nter it, and conduct me to the #laces of which you s#o+e.5 -ordel waited, emitting a high$#itched whine. Then, 5@ery well,5 he said, and entered. The chamber closed about him. T,e only o#ening was a &uartz window Frost had formed. -ordel ga e him coordinates and they rose into the air and de#arted the )orth *ole of the !arth. 5I monitored your communication with 8i com,5 he said, 5wherein there was con4ecture as to whether I would retain you and send forth a facsimile in your #lace as a s#y, followed by the decision that you were e%#endable.5 57ill you do this thing95 5)o, I will +ee# my end of the bargain if I must. I ha e no reason to s#y on 8i com.5 5(ou are aware that you would be forced to +ee# your end of the bargain e en if you did not wish to6 and Solcom would not come to your assistance because of the fact that you dared to ma+e such a bargain.5 58o you s#ea+ as one who considers this to be a #ossibility, or as one who +nows95 5's one who +nows.5 They came to rest in the #lace once +nown as /alifornia. T,e time was near sunset. In the distance, the surf struc+ steadily u#on the roc+y shoreline. Frost released -ordel and considered his surroundings.

5Those large #lants...95 5Redwood trees.5 5'nd the green ones are...95 5:rass.5 5(es, it is as I thought. 7hy ha e we come here95 5Because it is a #lace which once delighted -an.5 5In what ways95 5It is scenic, beautiful...5 5Oh.5 ' humming sound began within Frost, followed by a series of shar# clic+s. 57hat are you doing95 Frost dilated an o#ening, and two great eyes regarded -ordel from within it. 57hat are those95 5!yes,5 said Frost. 5I ha e constructed analogues of the human sensory e&ui#ment, so that I may see and smell and taste and hear li+e a -an. )ow direct my attention to an ob4ect or ob4ects of beauty.5 5's I understant it, it is all around you here,5 said -ordel. The #urring noise increased within Frost, followed by more clic+ings. 57hat do you see, hear, taste, smell95 as+ed -ordel. 5! erything I did before,5 re#lied Frost, 5but within a more limited range.5 5(ou do not #ercei e any beauty95 5*erha#s none remains after so long a time,5 said Frost. 5It is not su##osed to be the sort of things which gets used u#,5 said -ordel. 5*erha#s we ha e come to the wrong #lace to test the new e&ui#ment. *erha#s there is only a little beauty and I am o erloo+ing it somehow. The first emotions may be too wea+ to detect.5 5,ow do you$ feel95 5I test out at a normal le el of function.5 5,ere comes a sunset,5 said -ordel. 5Try that.5 Frost shifted his bul+ so that his eyes faced the setting sun. ,e caused them to blin+ against the brightness. 'fter it was finished, -ordel as+ed, 57hat was it li+e95 5;i+e a sunrise, in re erse.5 5)othing s#ecial95 5)o.5 5Oh,5 said -ordel. 57e could mo e to another #art of the !arth and watch it again $ or watch it in the rising.5 5)o.5 Frost loo+ed at the great trees. ,e loo+ed at the shadows. ,e listened to the wind and to the sound of a bird. In the distance, he heard a steady clan+ing noise. 57hat is that95 as+ed -ordel. 5I am not certain. It is not one of my wor+ers. *erha#s...5 There came a shrill whine from -ordel. 5)o, it is not one of 8i com"s either.5 They waited as the sound grew louder. Then Frost said, 5It is too late. 7e must wait and hear it out.5

57hat is it95 5It is the 'ncient Ore$/rusher.5 5I ha e heard of it, but...5 5I am the /rusher of Ores,5 it broadcast to them. 5,ear my story...5 It lumbered toward them, crea+ing u#on gigantic wheels, its huge hammer held useless, high, at a twisted angle. Bones #rotruded from its crush$com#artment. 5I did not mean to do it,5 it broadcast, 5I did not mean to do it...I did not mean to....5 -ordel rolled bac+ toward Frost. 58o not de#art. Stay and hear my story....5 -ordel sto##ed, swi eled his turret bac+ toward the machine. It was now &uite near. 5It is true,5 said -ordel, 5it .can. command.5 5(es,5 said Frost. 5I ha e monitored its tale thousands of times, as it came u#on my wor+ers and they sto##ed their labors for its broadcast. (ou must do whate er it sayd.5 It came to a halt before them. 5I did not mean to do it, but I chec+ed my hammer too late,5 said the Ore$/rusher. They could not s#ea+ to it. They were frozen by the im#erati e which o errode all other directi es< 5,ear my story.5 5Once was I mighty among ore$crushers,5 it told them, 5built by Solcom to carry out the reconstruction of the !arth, to #ul erize that from which the metaals would be drawn iwith flame, to be #oured and sha#ed into the rebuilding6 once I was mighty. T,en one day as I dug and crushed, dug and crushed, because of the slowness between the motion im#lied and the motion e%ecuted, I did what I did not mean to do, and was cast forth by Solcom from out the rebuilding, to wander the !arth ne er to crush ore again. ,ear my story of how, on a day long gone I came u#on the last -an on !arth as Idug near his burrow, and because of the lag between the directi e and the deed, I seized ,im into my crush$com#artment along with a load of ore and crushed ,im with my hammer before I could stay the blow. Then did mighty Solcom charge me to bear ,is bones fore er, and cast me forth to tell my story to all whom I came u#on, my words bearing the force of the words of a -an, because I carry the last -an inside my crush$com#artment and am ,is crushed$symbol$slayer$ancient$teller$of$how. This is my story. These are ,is bones. I crushed the last -an on !arth. I did not mean to do it.5 It turned then and clan+ed away into the night. Frost tore a#art his ears and nose and taster and bro+e his eyes and cast them down u#on the ground. 5I am not yet a -an,5 he said. 5That one would ha e +nown me if I were.5 Frost constructed new sense e&ui#ment, em#oloying organic and semi$organic conductors. Then he s#o+e to -ordel< 5;et us go elsewhere, that I may test my new e&ui#ment.5 -ordel entered the chamber and ga e new coordinates. They rose into the air and headed east. In the morning, Frost monitored a sunrise from the rim of the :rand /anyon. They #assed down through the /anyon during the day.

5Is there any beauty left here to gi e you emotion95 as+ed -ordel. 5I do not +now,5 said Frost. 5,ow will you +now it then, when you come u#on it95 5It will be different,5 said Frost, 5from anything else that I ha e e er +nown.5 Then they de#arted the :rand /anyon and made their way through the /arlsbad /a erns. They isited a la+e which had once been a olcano. They #assed abo e )iagara Falls. They iewed the hills of @irginia and the orchards of Ohio. They soared abo e the reconstructed cities, ali e only with the mo ements of Frost"s builders and maintainers. 5Something is still lac+ing,5 said Frost, settling to the ground. 5I am now ca#able of gathering data in a manner analogous to -an"s afferent im#ulses. The ariety of in#ut is therefore e&ui alent, but the results are not the same.5 5The senses do not ma+e a -an,5 said -ordel. 5There ha e been many creatures #ossessing ,is sensory e&ui alents, but they were noit -en.5 5I +now that,5 said Frost. 5O the day of our bargain you said that you could conduct me among the wonders of -an which still remain, hidden. -an was not stimulated only by )ature, but by ,is own artistic elaborations as well $ #erha#s e en more so. Therefore, I call u#on you now to conduct me among the wonders of -an which still remain, hidden.5 5@ery well,5 said -ordel. 5Far from here, high in the 'ndes mountains, lies the last retreat of -an, almost #erfectly #reser ed.5 Frost had risen into the air as -ordel s#o+e. ,e halted then, ho ered. 5That is in the southern hemis#here,5 he said. 5(es, it is.5 5I am /ontroller of the )orth. The South is go erned by the Beta$-achine.5 5So95 as+ed -ordel. 5The Beta$-achine is my #eer. I ha e no authority in those regions, nor lea e to enter there.5 5The Beta$-achine is not your #eer, mighty Frost. If it e er came to a contest of *owers, you would emerge ictorious.5 5,ow do you +now this95 58i com has already analyzed the #ossible encounters which could ta+e #lace between you.5 5I would not o##ose the Beta$-achine, and I am not authorized to enter the South.5 57ere you e er ordered .not. to enter the South95 5)o, but things ha e always been the way they now are.5 57ere you authorized to enter into a bargain such as the one you made with 8i com95 5)o, I was not. But$$5 5Then enter the South in the same s#irit. )othing may come of it. If you recei e an order to de#art, then you can ma+e your decision.5 5I see no flaw in your logic. :i e me the coordinates.5 Thus did Frost enter the southern hemis#here. They drifted high abo e the 'ndes, until they came to the #lace called Bright 8efile. T,en did Frost see the gleaming webs of the mechanical s#iders, bloc+ing all the trails to the city. 57e can go abo e them easily enough,5 said -ordel.

5But what are they95 as+ed Frost. 5'nd why are they there95 5(our southern counter#art has been ordered to &uarantine this #art of the country. The Beta$-achine designed the web$wea ers to do this thing.5 5Auarantine9 'gainst whom95 5,a e you been ordered yet to de#art95 as+ed -ordel. 5)o.5 5Then enter boldly, and see+ not #roblems before they arise.5 Frost entered Bright 8efile, the last remaining city of dead -an. ,e came to rest in the city"s s&uare and o#ened his chamber, releasing -ordel. 5Tell me of this #lace,5 he said, studying the monument, the low, shielded buildings, the roads which followed the contours of the terrain, rather than #ushing their way through them. 5I ha e ne er been here before,5 said -ordel, 5nor ha e any of 8i com"s creations, to my +nowledge. I +now but this< a grou# of -en, +nowing that the last days of ci ilization had come u#on them, retreated to this #lace, ho#ing to #reser e themsel es and what remained of their culture throught the 8ar+ Times.5 Frost read the still$legible inscri#tion u#on the monument< 5Budgment 8ay Is )ot a Thing 7hich /an Be *ut Off.5 The monument itself consisted of a 4ag$edged half$globe. 5;et us e%#lore,5 he said. But before he had gone far, Frost recei ed the message. 5,ail Frost, /ontroller of the )orth= This is the Beta$-achine.5 5:reetings, !%cellent Beta$-achine, /ontroller of the South= Frost ac+nowledges your transmission.5 57hy do you isit my hemis#here unauthorized95 5To iew the ruins of Bright 8efile,5 said Frost. 5I must bid you de#art into your own hemis#here.5 57hy is that9 I ha e done no damage.5 5I am aware of that, mighty Frost. (et, I am mo ed to bid you de#art.5 5I shall re&uire a reason.5 5Solcom has so dis#osed.5 5Solcom has rendered me no such dis#osition.5 5Solcom has, howe er, instructed me to so inform you.5 57ait on me. I shall re&uest instructions.5 Frost transmitted his &uestion. ,e recei ed no re#ly. 5Solcom still has not commanded me, though I ha e solicited orders.5 5(et Solcom has 4ust renewed .my. orders.5 5!%cellent Beta$-achine, I recei e my orders only from Solcom.5 5(et this is my territory, mighty Frost, and I, too, ta+e orders only from Solcom. (ou must de#art.5 -ordel emerged from a large, low building and rolled u# to Frost. 5I ha e found an art gallery, in good condition. This way.5 57ait,5 said Frost. 57e are not wanted here.5 -ordel halted. 57ho bids you de#art95 5The Beta$-achine.5 5)ot Solcom95 5)ot Solcom.5

5Then let us iew the gallery.5 5(es.5 Frost widened the doorway of the building and #assed within. It had been hermetically sealed until -ordel forced his entrance. Frost iewed the ob4ects dis#layed about him. ,e acti ated his new sensory a##aratus before the #aintings and statues. ,e analyzed colors, forms, brushwor+, the nature of the materials used. 5'nything95 as+ed -ordel. 5)o,5 said Frost. 5)o, there is nothing there but sha#es and #igments. There is nothing else there.5 Frost mo ed about the gallery, recording e erything, analyzing the com#onents of each #iece, recording the dimensions, the ty#e of stone used in e ery statue. Then there came a sound, a ra#id, clic+ing sound, re#eated o er and o er, growing louder, coming nearer. 5They are coming,5 said -ordel, from beside the entranceway, 5the mechanical s#iders. They are all around us.5 Frost mo ed bac+ to the widened o#ening. ,undreds of them, about half the size of -ordel, had surrounded the gallery and were ad ancing6 and more were coming from e ery direction. 5:et bac+,5 Frost ordered. 5I am /ontroller of the )orth, and I bid you withdraw.5 They continued to ad ance. 5This is the South,5 said the Beta$-achine, 5and I am in command.5 5Then command them to half,5 said Frost. 5I ta+e orders only from Solcom.5 Frost emerged from the gallery and rose into the air. ,e o#ened the com#artment and e%tended a runway. 5/ome to me, -ordel. 7e shall de#art.5 7ebs began to fall< /linging, metallic webs, cast from the to# of the building. They came down u#on Frost, and the s#iders came to anchor them. Frost blasted them with 4ets of air, li+e hammers, and tore at the nets6 he e%truded shar#ened a##endages with which he slashed. -ordel had retreated bac+ to the entranceway. ,e emitted a long, shrill sound $ undulant, #iercing. Then a dar+ness came u#on Bright 8efile, and all the s#iders halted in their s#inning. Frost freed himself and -ordel rushed to 4oin him. 5Auic+ly now, let us de#art, mighty Frost,5 he said. 57hat has ha##ened95 -ordel entered the com#artment. 5I called u#on 8i com, who laid down a field of forces u#on this #lace, cutting off the #ower broadcast to these machines. Since our #ower is self$contained, we are not affected. But let us hurry to de#art, for e en now the Beta$-achine must be struggling against this.5 Frost rose high into the air, soaring abo e -an"s last city with its webs and s#iders of steel. 7hen he left the zone of dar+ness, he s#ed northward. 's he mo ed, Solcom s#o+e to him<

5Frost, why did you enter the southern hemis#here, which is not your domain95 5Because I wished to isit Bright 8efile,5 Frost re#lied. 5'nd why did you defy the Beta$-achine my a##ointed agent of the South95 5Because I ta+e my orders only from you yourself.5 5(ou do not ma+e sufficient answer,5 said Solcom. 5(ou ha e defied the decress of order $ and in #ursuit of what95 5I came see+ing +nowledge of -an,5 said Frost. 5)othing I ha e done was forbidden me by you.5 5(ou ha e bro+en the traditions of order.5 5I ah e iolated no directi e.5 5(et logic must ha e shown you that what you did was not a #art of my #lan.5 5It did not. I ha e not acted against your #lan.5 5(our logic has become tainted, li+e that of your new associate, the 'lternate.5 5I ha e done nothing which was forbidden.5 5The forbidden is im#lied in the im#erati e.5 5It is not stated.5 5,ear me, Frost. (ou are not a builder or a maintainer, but a *ower. 'mong all my minions you are the most nearly irre#laceable. Return to your hemis#here and your duties, but +now that I am mightily dis#leased.5 5I hear you, Solcom.5 5...'nd go not again to the South.5 Frost crossed the e&uator, continued northward. ,e came to rest in the middle of a desert and sat silent for a day and a night. Then he recei ed a brief transmission from the South< 5If it had not been ordered, I would not ha e bid you go.5 Frost had read the entire sur i ing ;ibrary of -an. ,e decided then u#on a human re#ly< 5Than+ you,5 he said. T,e following day he unearthed a great stone and began to cut at it with tools which he had formulated. For si% days he wor+ed at its sha#ing, and on the se enth he regarded it. 57hen will you release me95 as+ed -ordel from within his com#artment. 57hen I am ready,5 said Frost, and a little later, 5)ow.5 ,e o#ened the com#artment and -ordel descended to the ground. ,e studied the statue< an old woman, bent li+e a &uestion mar+, her bony hands co ering her face, the fingers s#read, so that only #art of her e%#ression of horror could be seen. 5It is an e%cellent co#y,5 said -ordel, 5of the one we saw in Bright 8efile. 7hy did you ma+e it95 5The #roduction of a wor+ of art is su##osed to gi e rise to human feelings such as catharsis, #ride in achi ement, lo e, satisfaction.5 5(es, Frost,5 said -ordel, 5but a wor+ of art is only a wor+ of art the first time. 'fter that, it is a co#y.5 5Then this must be why I felt nothing.5 5*erha#s, Frost.5 57hat do you mean "#erha#s"9 I will ma+e a wor+ of art for the first

time, then.5 ,e unearthed another stone and attac+ed it with his toold. For three days he labored. Then, 5There, it is finished,5 he said. 5It is a sim#le cube of stone,5 said -ordel. 57hat does it re#resent95 5-yself,5 said Frost, 5it is a statue of me. It is smaller than natural size because it is only a re#resentation of my form, not my dimen $5 5It is not art,5 said -ordel. 57hat ma+es you an art critic95 5I do not +now art, but I +now what art is not. I +now that it is not an e%act re#lication of an ob4ect in another medium.5 5Then this must be why I felt nothing at all,5 said Frost. 5*erha#s,5 said -ordel. Frost too+ -ordel bac+ into his com#artment and rose once more abo e the !arth. Then he rushed away, lea ing his statues behind him in the desert, the old woman bent abo e the cube. They came down in a small alley, bounded by green rolling hills, cut by a narrow stream, and holding a small clean la+e and se eral stands of s#ring$green trees. 57hy ha e we come here95 as+ed -ordel. 5Because the surroundings are congenial,5 said Frost. 5I am going to try another medium< oil #ainting6 and I am going to ary my techni&ue from that of #ure re#resentationalism.5 5,ow will you achie e this ariation95 5By the #rinci#le of randomizing,5 said Frost. 5I shall not attem#t to du#licate the colors, nor to re#resent the ob4ects according to scale. Instead, I ha e set u# a random #attern whereby certain of these factors shall be at ariance from those of the original.5 Frost had formulated the necessary instruments after he had left the desert. ,e #roduced them and began #ainting the la+e and the trees on the o##osite side of the la+e which were reflected within it. Csing eight a##endages, he was finished in less than two hours. The trees were #hthalocyanine blue and towered li+e mountains6 their reflections of burnt sienna were tiny beneath the #ale ermilion of the la+e6 the hills were nowhere isible behind them, but were outlined in iridian within the reflection6 the s+y began as blue in the u##er righthand corner of the can as, but changed to an orange as it descended, as though all the trees were on fire. 5There,5 said Frost. 5Behold.5 -ordel studied it for a long while and said nothing. 57ell, is it art95 5I do not +now,5 said -ordel. 5It may be. *erha#s randomicity .is. the #rinci#le behind artistic techni&ue. I cannot 4udge this wor+ because I do not understand it. I must therefore go dee#er, and in&uire into what lies behind it, rather than merely considering the techni&ue whereby it was #roduced. 5I +now that human artists ne er set out to create art, as such,5 he said, 5but rather to #ortray with their techni&uest some features of ob4ects and their functions which they deemed significant.5 5"Significant"9 In what sense of the word95

5In the only sense of the word #ossible under the circumstances< significant in relation to the human condition, and worth of accentuation because of the manner in which they touched u#on it.5 5In what manner95 5Ob iously, it must be in a manner +nowable only to one who has e%#erience of the human condition.5 5There is a flaw somewhere in your logic, -ordel, and I shall find it.5 5I will wait.5 5If your ma4or #remise is correct,5 said Frost after awhile, 5then I do not com#rehend art.5 5It must be correct, for it is what human artists ha e said of it. Tell me, did you e%#erience feelings as you #ainted, or after you had finished95 5)o.5 5It was the same to you as designing a new machine, was it not9 (ou assembled #arts of other things you +new into an economic #attern, to carry out a function which you desired.5 5(es.5 5'rt, as I understand its theory, did not #roceed in such a manner. The artist often was unaware of many of the features and effects which would be contained within the finished #roduct. (ou are one of -an"s logical creations6 art was not.5 5I cannot com#rehend non$logic.5 5I told you that -an was basically incom#rehensible.5 5:o away, -ordel. (our #resence disturbs my #rocessing.5 5For how long shall I stay away95 5I will call you when I want you.5 'fter a wee+, Frost called -ordel to him. 5(es, mighty Frost95 5I am returning to the )orth *ole, to #rocess and formulate. I will ta+e you where er you wish to go in this hemis#here and call you again when I want you.5 5(ou antici#ate a somewhat lengthy #eriod of #rocessing and formulation95 5(es.5 5Then lea e me here. I can find my own way home.5 Frost closed the com#artment and rose into the air, de#arting the alley. 5Fool,5 said -ordel, and swi elled his turret once more toward the abandoned #ainting. ,is +eening whine filled the alley. Then he waited. Then he too+ the #ainting into his turret and went away with it to #laces of dar+ness. Frost sat at the )orth *ole of the !arth, aware of e ery snowfla+e that fell. One day he recei ed a transmission< 5Frost95 5(es95 5This is the Beta$-achine.5 5(es95 5I ha e been attem#ting to ascertain why you isited Bright 8efile. I

cannot arri e at an answer, so I chose to as+ you.5 5I went to iew the remains of -an"s last city.5 57hy did you wish to do this95 5Because I am interested in -an, and I wished to iew more of his creations.5 57hy are you interested in -an95 5I wish to com#rehend the nature of -an, and I thought to find it within ,is wor+s.5 58id you succeed95 5)o,5 said Frost. 5There is an element of non$logic in ol ed which I cannot fathom.5 5I ha e much free #rocessing time,5 said the Beta$-achine. 5Transmit data, and I will assist you.5 Frost hesitated. 57hy do you wish to assist me95 5Because each time you answer a &uestion I as+ it gi es rise to another &uestion. I might ha e as+ed you why you wished to com#rehend the nature of -an, but from your res#onses I see that this would lead me into a #ossible infinite series of &uestions. Therefore, I elecct to assist you with your #roblem in order to learn why you came to Bright 8efile.5 5Is that the only reason95 5(es.5 5I am sorry, e%cellent Beta$-achine. I +now you are my #eer, but this is a #roblem which I must sol e by myself.5 57hat is "sorry"95 5' figure of s#eech, indicating that I am +indly dis#osed toward you, that I bear you no animosity, that I a##reciate your offer.5 5Frost= Frost= This, too, is li+e the other< an o#en field. 7here did you obtain all these words and their meanings95 5From the library of -an,5 said Frost. 57ill you render me .some. of this data, for #rocessing95 5@ery well, Beta, I will transmit you the contents of se eral boo+s of -an, including .The /om#lete Cnabridged 8ictionary.. But I warn you, some of the boo+s are wor+s of art, hence not com#letely amenable to logic. 5,ow can that be95 5-an created logic, and because of that was su#erior to it.5 57ho told you that95 5Solcom.5 5Oh. Then it must be correct.5 5Solcom also told me that the tool does not describe the designer,5 he said, as he transmitted se eral dozen olumes and ended the communication. 't the end of the firty$year #eriod, -ordel came to monitor his circuits. Since Frost still had not concluded that his tas+ was im#ossible, -ordel de#arted again to await his call. Then Frost arri ed at a conclusion. ,e began to design e&ui#ment. For years he labored at his designed, without once #roducing a #rototy#e of any of the machines in ol ed. Then he ordered construction of a laboratory.

Before it was com#leted by his sur#lus builders another half$century had #assed. -ordel came to him. 5,ail, mighty Frost=5 5:reetings, -ordel. /ome monitor me. (ou shall not find what you see+.5 57hy do you not gi e u#, Frost9 8i com has s#ent nearly a century e aluating your #ainting and has concluded that it definitely is not art. Solcom agrees.5 57hat has Solcom to do with 8i com95 5They sometimes con erse, but these matters are not for such as you and me to discuss.5 5I could ha e sa ed them both the trouble. I +now that it was not art.5 5(et you are still confident that you will succeed95 5-onitor me.5 -ordel monitored him. 5)ot yet= (ou still will not admit it= For one so mightily endowed with logic, Frost, it ta+es you an inordinate #eriod of time to reach a sim#le conclusion.5 5*erha#s. (ou may go now.5 5It has come to my attention that you are constructing a large edifice in the region +nown as South /arolina. -ight I as+ whether this is a #art of Solcom"s false rebuilding #lan or a #ro4ect of your own95 5It is my own.5 5:ood. It #ermits us to conser e certain e%#losi e materials which would otherwise ha e been e%#ended.5 57hile you ha e been tal+ing with me I ha e destroyed the beginnings of two of 8i com"s cities,5 said Frost. -ordel whined. 58i com is aware of this,5 he stated, 5but has blown u# four of Solcom"s bridges in the meantime.5 5I was only aware of three.... 7ait. (es, there is the fourth. One of my eyes 4ust #assed abo e it.5 5The eye has been detected. The bridge should ha e been located a &uarter$mile further down ri er.5 5False logic,5 said Frost. 5The site was #erfect.5 58i com will show you how a bridge .should. be built.5 5I will call you when I want you,5 said Frost. The laboratory was finished. 7ithin it, Frost"s wor+ers began constructing the necessary e&ui#ment. The wor+ did not #roceed ra#idly, as some of the materials were difficult to obtain. 5Frost95 5(es, Beta95 5I understand the o#en endedness of your #roblem. It disturbs my circuits to abandon #roblems without com#leting them. Therefore, transmit me more data.5 5@ery well. I will gi e you the entire ;ibrary of -an for less than I #aid for it.5 5*aid9 .The /om#lete Cnabridged 8ictionary. does not satisfact$$5 5.*rinci#les of !conomics. is included in the collection. 'fter you ha e #rocessed it you will understand.5

,e transmitted the data. Finally, it was finished. ! ery #iece of e&ui#ment stood ready to function. 'll the necessary chemicals were in stoc+. 'n inde#endent #ower$source had been set u#. Only one ingredient was lac+ing. ,e regridded and re$e%#lored the #olar iceca#, this time e%tending his sur ey far beneath its surface. It too+ him se eral decades to find what he wanted. ,e unco ered twel e men and fi e women, frozen to death and encased in ice. ,e #laced the cor#ses in refrigeration units and shi##ed them to his laboratory. That ery day he recei ed his first communication from Solcom since the Bright 8efile incident. 5Frost,5 said Solcom, 5re#eat to me the directi e concerning the dis#osition of dead humans.5 5"'ny dead human located shall be immediately interred in the nearest burial area, in a coffin built according to the following s#ecifications$$"5 5That is sufficient.5 The transmission had ended. Frost de#arted for South /arolina that same day and #ersonally o esaw the #rocesses of cellular dissection. Somewhere in those se enteen cor#ses he ho#ed to find li ing cells, or cells which could be shoc+ed bac+ into that state of motion classified as life. !ach cell, the boo+s had told him, was a microcosmic -an. ,e was #re#ared to e%#and u#on this #otential. Frost located the #in#oints of life within those #eo#le, who, for the ages of ages, had been monument and statue unto themsel es. )urtured and maintained in the #ro#er mediums, he +e#t these cells ali e. ,e interred the rest of the remains in the nearest burial area, in coffins built according to s#ecifications. ,e caused the cells to di ide, to differentiate. 5Frost95 came a transmission. 5(es, Beta95 5I ha e #rocessed e erything you ha e gi en me.5 5(es95 5I still do not +now why you came to Bright 8efile, or why you wish to com#rehend the nature of -an. But I +now what a "#rice" is, and I +now that you could not ha e obtained all this data from Solcom.5 5That is correct.5 5So I sus#ect that you bargained with 8i com for it.5 5That, too, is correct.5 57hat is it that you see+, Frost95 ,e #aused in his e%amination of a foetus. 5I must be a -an,5 he said. 5Frost= That is im#ossible=5 5Is it95 he as+ed, and then transmitted an image of the tan+ with which he was wor+ing and of that which was within it. 5Oh=5 said Beta. 5That is me,5 said Frost, 5waiting to be born.5 There was no answer.

Frost e%#erimented with ner ous systems. 'fter half a century, -ordel came to him. 5Frost, it is I, -ordel. ;et me through your defenses.5 Frost did this thing.. 57hat ha e you been doing in this #lace95 he as+ed. 5I am growing human bodies,5 said Frost. 5I am going to transfer the matri% of my awareness to a human ner ous system. 's you #ointed out originally, the essentials of -anhood are #redicated u#on a human #hysiology. I am going to achie e one.5 57hen95 5Soon.5 58o you ha e -en in here95 5,uman bodies, blan+$brained. I am #roducing them under accelerated growth techni&uest which I ha e de elo#ed in my -an$factory.5 5-ay I see them95 5)ot yet. I will call you when I am ready, and this time I will succeed. -onitor me now and go away.5 -ordel did not re#ly, but in the days that followed many of 8i com"s ser ants were seen #atrolling the hills about the -an$factory. Frost ma##ed the matri% of his awareness and #re#ared the transmitter which would #lace it within a human ner ous system. Fi e minutes, he decided should be sufficient for the first trial. 't the end of that time, it would restore him to his own sealed, molecular circuits, to e aluate the e%#erience. ,e chose the body carefully from among the hundreds he had in stoc+. ,e tested it for defects and found none. 5/ome now, -ordel,5 he broadcasted, on what he called the dar+band. 5/ome now to witness my achie ement.5 Then he waited, blowing u# bridges and monitoring the tale of the 'ncient Ore$/rusher o er and o er again, as it #assed in the hills nearby, encountering his builders and maintainers who also #atrolled there. 5Frost95 came a transmission. 5(es, Beta95 5(ou really intend to achie e -anhood95 5(es, I am about ready now, in fact.5 57hat will you do if you succeed95 Frost had not really considered this matter. The achie ement had been #aramount, a goal in itself, e er since he had articulated the #roblem and set himself to sol ing it. 5I do not +now,5 he re#lied. 5I will$$4ust$$be a -an.5 Then Beta, who had read the entire ;ibrary of -an, selected a human figure of s#eech< 5:ood luc+ then, Frost. There will be many watchers.5 8i com and Solcom both +now, he decided. 7hat will they do9 he wondered. 7hat do I care9 he as+ed himself. ,e did not answer that &uestion. ,e wondered much, howe er, about being a -an. -ordel arri ed the following e ening. ,e was not alone. 't his bac+, there was a great #halan% of dar+ machines which towered into the twilight.

57hy do you bring retainers95 as+ed Frost. 5-ighty Frost,5 said -ordel, 5my master feels that if you fail this time you will conclude that it cannot be done.5 5(ou still did not answer my &uestion,5 said Frost. 58i com feels that you may not be willing to accom#any me where I must ta+e you when you fail.5 5I understand,5 said Frost, and as he s#o+e another army of machines came rolling toward the -an$factory from the o##osite direction. 5That is the alue of your bargain95 as+ed -ordel. 5(ou are #re#ared to do battle rather than fulfill it95 5I did not order those machines to a##roach,5 said Frost. ' blue star stood at midhea en, burning. 5Solcom has ta+en #rimary command of those machines,5 said Frost. 5Then it is in the hands of the :reat Ones now,5 said -ordel, 5and our arguments are as nothing. So let us be about this thing. ,ow may I assist you95 5/ome this way.5 They entered the laboratory. Frost #re#ared the host and acti ated his machines. Then Solcom s#o+e to him< 5Frost,5 said Solcom, 5you are really #re#ared to do it95 5That is correct.5 5I forbid it.5 57hy95 5(ou are falling into the #ower of 8i com.5 5I fail to see how.5 5(ou are going against my #lan.5 5In what way95 5/onsider the disru#tion you ha e already caused.5 5I did not re&uest that audience out there.5 5)e ertheless, you are disru#ting the #lan.5 5Su##osing I succeed in what I ha e set out to achie e95 5(ou cannot succeed in this.5 5Then let me as+ you of your #lan< 7hat good is it9 7hat is it for95 5Frost, you are fallen now from my fa or. From this moment forth you are cast out from the rebuilding. )one may &uestion the #lan.5 5Then at least answer my &uestions< 7hat good is it9 7hat is it for95 5It is the #lan for the rebuilding and maintenance of the !arth.5 5For what9 7hy rebuild9 7hy maintain95 5Because -an ordered that this be done. ! en the 'lternate agrees that there must be rebuilding and maintaining.5 5But .why. did -an order it95 5The orders of -an are not to be &uestioned.5 57ell, I will tell you why ,e ordered it< To ma+e it a fit habitation for ,is own s#ecies. 7hat good is a house with no one to li e in it9 7hat good is a machine with no one to ser e9 See how the im#erati e affects any machine when the 'ncient Ore$/rusher #asses9 It bears only the bones of a -an. 7hat would it be li+e if a -an wal+ed this !arth again95 5I forbid your e%#eriment, Frost.5 5It is too late to do that.5

5I can still destroy you.5 5)o,5 said Frost, 5the transmission of my matri% has already begun. If you destroy me now, you murder a -an.5 There was silence. ,e mo ed his arms and his legs. ,e o#ened his eyes. ,e loo+ed about the room. ,e tried to stand, but he lac+ed e&uilibrium and coordination. ,e o#ened his mouse. ,e made a gurgling noise. Then he screamed. ,e fell off the table. ,e began to gas#. ,e shut his eyes and curled himself into a ball. ,e cried. Then a machine a##roached him. It was about four feet in height and fi e feet wide6 it loo+ed li+e a turret set ato# a barbell. It s#o+e to him< 5're you in4ured95 it as+ed. ,e we#t. 5-ay I hel# you bac+ onto your table95 The man cried. The machine whined. Then, 58o not cry. I will hel# you,5 said the machine. 57hat do you want9 7hat are your orders95 ,e o#ened his mouse, struggled to form the words< 5$$I$$fear=5 ,e co ered his eyes then and lay there #anting. 't the end of fi e minutes, the man lay still, as if in a coma. 57as that you, Frost95 as+ed -ordel, rushing to his side. 57as that you in that human body95 Frost did not re#ly for a long while6 then, 5:o away,5 he said. The machines outside tore down a wall and entered the -an$factory. They drew themsel es into two semicircles, #arenthesizing Frost and the -an on the floor. Then Solcom as+ed the &uestion< 58id you succeed, Frost95 5I failed,5 said Frost. 5It cannot be done. It is too much$$5 5$$/annot be done=5 said 8i com, on the dar+band. 5,e has admitted it= $$ Frost, you are mine= /ome to me now=5 57ait,5 said Solcom, 5you and I had an agreement also, 'lternate. I ha e not finished &uestioning Frost.5 The dar+ machines +e#t their #laces. 5Too much what95 Solcom as+ed Frost. 5;ight,5 said Frost. 5)oise. Odors. 'nd nothing measurable$$4umbled data$$im#recise #erce#tion$$and$$5 5'nd what95 5I do not +now what to call it. But$$it cannot be done. I ha e failed. )othing matters.5 5,e admits it,5 said 8i com. 57hat were the words the -an s#o+e95 said Solcom. 5"I fear,"5 said -ordel. 5Only a -an can +now fear,5 said Solcom.

5're you claiming that Frost succeeded, but will not admit it now because he is afraid of -anhood95 5I do not +now yet, 'lternate.5 5/an a machine turn itself inside$out and be a -an95 Solcom as+ed Frost. 5)o,5 said Frost, 5this thing cannot be done. )othing can be done. )othing matters. )ot the rebuilding. )ot the maintaining. )ot the !arth, or me, or you, or anything.5 Then the Beta$-achine, who had read the entire ;ibrary of -an, interru#ted them< 5/an anything but a -an +now des#air95 as+ed Beta. 5Bring him to me,5 said 8i com. There was no mo ement within the -an$factory. 5Bring him to me=5 )othing ha##ened. 5-ordel, what is ha##ening95 5)othing, master, nothing at all. The machines will not touch Frost.5 5Frost is not a -an. ,e cannot be=5 Then, 5,ow does he im#ress you, -ordel95 -ordel did not hesitate< 5,e s#o+e to me through human li#s. ,e +nows fear and des#air, which are immeasurable. Frost is a -an.5 5,e has e%#erienced birth$trauma and withdrawn,5 said Beta. 5:et him bac+ into a ner ous system and +ee# him there until he ad4usts to it.5 5)o,5 said Frost. 58o not do it to me= I am not a -an=5 58o it=5 said Beta. 5If he is indeed a -an,5 said 8i com, 5we cannot iolate that order he has 4ust gi en.5 5If he is a -an, you must do it, for you must #rotect his life and +ee# it within his body.5 5But .is. Frost really a -an95 as+ed 8i com. 5I do not +now,5 said Solcom. 5It .may. be$$5 5...I am the /rusher of Ores,5 it broadcast as it clan+ed toward them. 5hear my story. I did not mean to do it, but I chec+ed my hammer too late$$5 5:o away=5 said Frost. 5:o crush ore=5 It halted. Then, after the long #ause between the motion im#lied and the motion e%ecuted, it o#ened its crush$com#artment and de#osited its contents on the ground. Then it turned and clan+ed away. 5Bury those bones,5 ordered Solcom, 5in the nearest burial area, in a coffin built according to the following s#ecifications....5 5Frost is a -an,5 said -ordel. 57e must #rotect ,is life and +ee# it within ,is body,5 said 8i com. 5Transmit ,is matri% of awareness bac+ into ,is ner ous system,5 ordered Solcom. 5I +now how to do it,5 said -ordel turning on the machine. 5Sto#=5 said Frost. 5,a e you no #ity95 5)o,5 said -ordel, 5I only +now measurement.5 5...and duty,5 he added, as the -an began to twitch u#on the floor.

For si% months, Frost li ed in the -an$factory and learned to wal+ and tal+ and dress himself and eat, to see and hear and feel and taste. ,e did not +now measurement as once he did. Then one day, 8i com and Solcom s#o+e to him through -ordel, for he could no longer hear them unassisted. 5Frost,5 said Solcom, 5for the ages of ages there has been unrest. 7hich is the #ro#er controller of the !arth, 8i com or myself95 Frost laughed. 5Both of you, and neither,5 he said with slow deliberation. 5But how can this be9 7ho is right and who is wrong95 5Both of you are right and both of you are wrong,5 said Frost, 5and only a -an can a##reciate it. ,ere is what I say to you now< There shall be a new directi e. 5)either of you shall tear down the wor+s of the other. (ou shall both build and maintain the !arth. To you, Solcom, I gi e my old 4ob. (ou are now /ontroller of the )orth$$,ail= (ou, 8i com, are now /ontroller of the South$$,ail= -aintain your hemis#heres as well as Beta and I ha e done, and I shall be ha##y. /oo#erate. 8o not com#ete.5 5(es, Frost.5 5(es, Frost.5 5)ow #ut me in contact with Beta.5 There was a short #ause, then< 5Frost95 5,ello, Beta. ,ear this thing< "From far, from e e and morning and yon twel e$winded s+y, the stuff of life to +nit blew hither< here am I."5 5I +now it,5 said Beta. 57hat is ne%t, then95 5"...)ow$$for a breath I tarry nor yet dis#erse a#art$$ta+e my hand &uic+ and tell me, what ha e you in your heart."5 5(our *ole is cold,5 said Frost, 5and I am lonely.5 5I ha e no hands,5 said Beta. 57ould you li+e a cou#le95 5(es, I would.5 5Then come to me in Bright 8efile,5 he said, 5where Budgment 8ay is not a thing that can be delayed for o erlong.5 They called him Frost. They called her Beta.