« Last post by GhylTarvoke on July 23, 2018, 05:04:47 am »
Been out of the loop for a while. Here's what I've gathered:
Through evolution and self-improvement, life tends to produce more intelligent life. With greater intelligence comes greater self-awareness. Unfortunately, all such paths of enlightenment, regardless of their starting points, converge to the same godlike entity at the highest level of cognition: the Great Darkness. The ultimate dead end.
The Great Darkness is the pinnacle of self-awareness. It exists to ponder its own existence. It acts as a sort of black hole in the Nagari network, enlightening (assimilating) all life forms that discover it. A life form capable of recognizing the danger is already doomed, because to comprehend the Great Darkness is to become a part of it. The only universes not consumed by this "thought cancer" are those that contain the Shivans.
The Shivans are a property of all interesting universes - a cosmic immune system that culls civilizations before they produce the Great Darkness. Due to constant internal conflict, large-scale Shivan behavior is chaotic and diversified, allowing them to adapt to any threat. Their existence was exploited by the Terminal Protocol: a final attempt to contain the Great Darkness by quarantining universes conducive to intelligent life.
The Vishnans are a multiversal amalgam of civilizations that have stopped short of the Great Darkness, thereby evading the cull. They initially believe that with Nagari intervention, the UEF is worthy of ascension to the amalgam. The Shivans believe that the risk of a hard takeoff singularity is too great. The GTVA believes that the infectious, Vishnan-influenced UEF philosophy will leave everyone defenseless against the Shivans.
Here's what I'm still fuzzy on:
The Vishnans have lost faith in us for some reason (possibly involving the war). The Elders have an outside-context endgame strategy (possibly involving ascension to the amalgam). The Shivans have an alternative to culling us (possibly involving tighter control of intelligent life). Ken thinks that we have something to offer the Shivans (possibly involving self-awareness, which the Shivans lack by necessity).