And then there's Midgaard.
This was a world neither young and fresh nor ancient and wise; it was a world not so much created as found, lying discarded along the cosmic roads. This happened one fine summer's morning when a young God, whose main trick was to make you think that there might perhaps be something special about him, wandered by. His name? Call him Benedict. Midgaard was, at that time, wobbling forlornly through the backtracked regions of ethereal space, looking, for all the world, like a discarded toy, a fallen souffle, the runt of a planetoid litter. Many a god -- perhaps most -- would have marked that world for what it appeared to be (gods being, for the most part rather superficial and appearance oriented) and gone on his or her or its way. But Benedict paused in his wanderings, paused and peered closer at that little, ugly world. Why? Philosophers debate whether or not some greater force than even the gods directed and inspired Benedict that day. The truth is actually much simpler. Dozens of millenia of Godhood, as well as correspondence courses and self help books had not been able to purge Benedict of his compulsion to pick worthless things up off the ground and look at them.
So was history made that day, for upon closer inspection Benedict saw much more than he would have expected, given the drab appearance of that little world. Faint signs of old glory, sparkles and glistening webs that traced the places where cities once stood, furtive movements here and there that proved life still struggled, burned and blackened woods that were slowly showing signs of shoots, recovery, and speciation to fill denuded ecological niches: all of these sights met his beady, little eyes. And he knew that once this world had teemed with civilizations, all of which were now gone. Intrigued, Benedict set to work. He wanted to know what had once been there, and what could become of this ruined place if only it were given a second chance. But rather then find things out using brute force, which might have irreversibly damaged this world, he decided upon another plan. His first job was to build a city (being male, he naturally considered the domination of nature and the imposition of pattern upon the earth to be the primary order of business) and so Midgaard was built. He built it between the ruins of two of the great cities of the past, and may have built it upon the ruins of a third; certainly, the sewers extended a bit further than he had expected. He created guards to protect it, shopkeepers to sell wares and friendly little dogs (with a slight mean streak in them) to frolic through its streets. Around the city sprung up farms and peasant villages, and the woods to the west thrived. At times caravans and nomads would take up residence to the southwest, drawn by the resources of that city Benedict had built.
Benedict saw this and it was -- well, it wasn't half bad. He waited, eagerly, to see what would develop. In time, he reasoned, the denizens he created would go out and explore this world and uncover their secrets while he would watch, surreptitiously and vicariously enjoy their discoveries. Aye, he waited.
Read the line above 27,000,000,000,000 times and you'll get an idea of how long Benedict waited.
Eventually he realized that something was wrong. Rather than go out and explore, the people he had created did little besides run through the same routines e v e r y s i n g l e d a y. He was in a quandary and was close to scrapping the whole thing, wiping it out. The people he had made were content to spend their whole lives in their little ruts. What he needed were adventurers, Ernest Hemingway wannabes, daredevils -- in short, he really needed some fools. In desperation he opened his mind to the universe.
And heard voices.
Ordinary voices, talking about ordinary things, but voices which also held and element of randomness, of boredom, of curiosity, and of bravado. He sought out the source of those voices and realized that if he could borrow some of those spirits, for a little while at a time, he could use them to animate people shells in his world, and maybe these hybrids would have the vigor to go and learn the answers to Benedict's questions about this little world.
So he strung up some cosmic cable,
set up some interstellar, interspiritual, interesting interfaces,
crossed his fingers, and turned the switch
25 March 1995 - - - email@example.com