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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 120: Kondor 82
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Summer came, and Kondor was invited to a special ceremony. It was something of a celebration of their accomplishments, he was told. It would be part academic recognition, part drunken bash. Kondor didn't drink, but he thought he would still enjoy the party.
Drunken bash was overstating things significantly. There was a champagne toast to their successes, and a variety of alcoholic beverages were available along with the soft drinks he preferred. One or two of the revelers had too much, but most were only mildly affected. Dinner was wonderful, a meal which made him wonder whether they had fired the entire kitchen staff and replaced them or whether all this time the cooks had been holding out on them. There was music; Kondor knew none of it, but it was not entirely unlike the music of home. Some even danced, and Kondor found this most entertaining of all. The strange gyrations which characterized most of the popular dance steps were the best proof he had yet seen that he was not in his own universe.
After dinner, Dr. Breyer took the podium. "We come here tonight," he said, "with a purpose both serious and jovial, joyous, in the most solemn sense of that word. We are here to confer recognition on those of our company who came to us as students and have proved themselves capable of being teachers. Each of you honored tonight have contributed something significant to our knowledge, to the world's knowledge. What you have written will be read by many, and others will build on your work. In the centuries to come your names may be forgotten, but your work will have been the foundation for much that they take for granted. You have changed the world."
He then recited a list of names and had them come forward. He explained in a few sentences that these people had been involved in assisting with the projector design department, and were all receiving what Kondor surmised was the equivalent of a masters degree. Handing them each a rolled piece of paper and shaking their hands, he sent them back to their seats. Another list of names followed, and another, each group part of some portion of the project which had moved their understanding forward, each contributing significantly to the total work.
"I trust," he said at the end of this, "that you will all stay with us in the days ahead. We have made great progress, and developed the theories and the prototypes which will make real much that was science fiction when we first arrived here, but there is much still to be done, and every one of you is an important part of that process."
With that he turned his attention to doctoral theses. These were all people who had done something more. They were heads of departments, contributors of major breakthroughs, important theorists. Each had written an extensive paper detailing his portion in the whole. The boy who had set up the popgun in the cyclotron was first, and was given a few minutes to explain how his work had shown the concept of patterned gravity. There was another who had determined the differences between push circuits and pull circuits in projectors, and how they interacted. Contributions to power supply and circuitry knowledge were on the list. In all there were about twenty people who were receiving doctorates based on studies in this project.
"There is one more person to recognize," Dr. Breyer finally said. "We might have thought this man was not one of us. Although he made the project possible, it was not initially the advanced knowledge he brought, but an accident of who he was. Yet in a very short time no one can deny that he has caught up with nearly all of us, and in some ways excelled us. He has learned everything that we have discovered, and discovered much that we then learned. More than once he put us on the right track; more than once he saw what we missed. He has not written a thesis; he has not suggested a theory. Probably he does not care whether he is remembered in ten years let alone a hundred. But he has changed our world, and for all that he learned he taught us far more. I am of course speaking of Doctor Joseph Wade Kondor, the medic whose toy was to become the basis of our studies and whose participation in those studies helped us reach our goal.
"I hereby confer upon Doctor Joseph Wade Kondor this Doctorate of Physical Sciences, for his work in artificial gravity and kinetic energy. Joe, would you come forward?"
It is difficult to express how Kondor felt. At first he wondered to whom Dr. Breyer had been referring, thinking perhaps it was some administrator or financier behind the scenes. Then he was trying to think which of the students who had made a difference had not yet been named. He had not yet realized they were speaking of him when his name was spoken, and even as he was called he did not fully understand what was happening.
He rose, somewhat dazed, and walked forward. Dr. Breyer shook his hand, congratulated him, and offered him the podium.
"I'm not sure," he began, then again, "I'm not sure, what to say. This is–this is completely unexpected, and thoroughly appreciated. Some years ago I had consoled myself with the idea that knowledge was far more important than these paper trinkets which recognized it; but holding this in my hands, I realize it is in one sense the most precious trinket I have, more valuable than the gold and gemstones–I can only say thank you."
He returned to his seat, and thought maybe he would have that glass of champagne. This was something to celebrate.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #122: Character Partings. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: