8 am EST, Saturday, September 1st, 2131, Lake Success, New York

Michael and Slavica sat in the Foundation's meeting room, having their usual monthly review session.

"I managed not to call you," said Michael, "although I wanted to know what you were going to do next. But I thought you needed a break from me!"

"Not just from you," said Slavica. "I took myself off to Italy for a few days; my family has a house there but it's usually empty. It's very quiet, in the countryside, and I did some weeding, played the piano, thought about everything. But three days was more than enough!"

"I've not been to that house," said Michael, "but I know about it. It belonged to your great-great-grandfather, and when his first son Stewart married Claribella they had their honeymoon there. We've got pictures of it in a family album. We're not related, but our families were very close at that time. It looks very pretty."

"It's bit run-down now," said Slavica. "But the garden is beautiful. It was Stewart's father Peter who made it originally. That was where he died, actually."

"So three days of thinking must have borne a lot of fruit?"

"There were a lot of cherries on the trees, delicious; but I tried not to think too much. Honestly, there is already such a lot to do, I hardly needed to."

Michael waited. He knew Slavica too well to believe that she wouldn't be brimming over with new projects.

"You know, the first priority is to get this field stuff sorted out. I can't believe that the quantum physicists have got so little to show for the last 150 years on the theoretical level. There's a great pile of experimental evidence by now for the existence of quantum effects in this animal, that animal, this electronic mechanism, that one. There are quantum computers, you've almost certainly got half a dozen in your body; inter-stellar travel uses quantum tunneling; there are more quantum institutes than I've had hot dinners; 50% of physics Nobel prizes in the last 100 years have been for quantum research. And they still haven't got a clue how it works!"

"Do you mean you think you can solve their problem for them?"

"No, of course not. I can more or less understand their research papers, and I've worked through some of the maths about non-locality, but I'm simply not qualified to get ahead of them. I think the soft under-belly here is psi. You know that it's been the black sheep of the scientific family for hundreds of years now; and the blocking off of the telepathy pathways in RCR development work just made it all the more impossible for it to progress. It seems obvious to me that the non-locality we've already demonstrated in telepathy is the same as quantum non-locality. It's not two separate field effects; it's just one field. I can't explain it; that's metaphysics and it doesn't appeal to me. But I think I stand a chance of being able to demonstrate, well, anyway illustrate, that there is an underlying reality in which matter and thought intersect. Not in a dualist way; there is no separate 'force' which impacts on ontology. Bergson had it right with his 'elan vital'. It's an immanent property of matter, and thought is merely an expression of matter. So I don't go along with the tribe that says consciousness is a player in the universe: anyway the quantum 'observer' theories are pretty well discarded by now. There's no such thing as a 'collapse' of the wave function except in some physicist's mind. Sorry, you're looking a bit puzzled!"

"Slava, I'm a publisher, a businessman, not a scientist. I vaguely know what these words mean, but I've got no mental paradigm into which I can fit them. How are we going to take this pig to market?"

Slavica laughed.

"Sorry, I was just enjoying myself a bit too much. Talking to myself. Actually it's premature to work out how to market the pig, because we don't even know the pig's colour yet. But that does bring up the question of what I am trying to achieve here. The Institute has got a fairly wide remit, and at first at least it had a sort of political purpose, which I understood. But we seem to have reached the political goal? Are we just supposed to blast ahead and do pure research? Or are we supposed to develop socially useful tools? Or what. I must admit I'm not clear."

Michael stroked Slavica's head, and she rested it on his shoulder while he put his arm around her.

"Confused!" she admitted.

"I can't believe I'm seeing this," said Michael gently. "Slavica the all-powerful."

"Perhaps it's my period," she joked, sitting back upright in her chair and disengaging sharply from Michael.

"I can try to guide you," said Michael, "but do you really want me to? There aren't any rules, as far as I'm concerned. There's ample money for the Institute to proceed according to your wishes. You are churning out graduates and research papers. There isn't an agenda. You might be at a point of uncertainty, but if I know you it won't last long."

He paused and thought for a moment.

"Perhaps this should be a group matter? When did you last discuss it all with your mates?"

Slavica relaxed. "Yes, you're right. I haven't talked to them properly for weeks. Just chit-chat. If I get them all together, would you come along and join us?"

"Of course," said Michael. "Breakfast on Wednesday?"


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