Essays and discussions
The Secret Life of Hedgehogs
In this article, I will detail part of the role that the Awakened Animal Kingdom (AAK, say 'ack') has played in human history over the past thousand years. Although humanity has been aware of the AAK for at least 30 years now, the majority of the population is ignorant of much about this ancient entity. This article is a preface, or 'taster' for my book on this subject, which will be published next year.1
The AAK has been self-aware for over eleven hundred years, since the time of the First Industrial Revolution in the 19th century and has played some part in human society for most of that time. In this article, I will consider three case studies that examine the influence that the AAK has had on the evolution of our society and consider several speculations as to the origin of this entity.
I will start in a period not more than a century after the Awakening. Most historians agree that it was the death of President George W. Bush in 2004 and subsequent election of President Femur Wilburheimer2 that prevented the American war from becoming global in scope. The decline of American influence in world politics - the so-called 'American Empire' - also stems from this time. Although the details of Mr. Bush's death have never been fully explained, AAK records from that time do exist and indicate that the president was poisoned by his daughter's pet hedgehog. Hedgehog spines are, of course, not poisonous, but these had apparently been tipped with the poison of a South American sturrin sloth. Since this animal was not discovered until the 22nd century, its poison could not be detected at the time so the autopsy merely revealed that several organs, including the heart, had collapsed.
This event shows that the AAK has been involved in human politics from very early on after its awakening. This should not really be particularly surprising, since its own fate was intimately connected with that of humanity.
The Third World War has been extensively documented and a good initial reference to this is Diegman's World War III (published by All-Solar, 2395). To recap, the mining of the asteroid belt in the early 22nd century led to practically infinite raw materials and a boom in industry so great that it has become known as the Second Industrial Revolution. One of the major states in the heart of the Second Industrial Revolution was Australia, ruled at the time by an expansionist regime with militaristic tendencies (obviously, this is a major simplification. For more details of the political situation of the time, see Diegman, chapter 9). Disputes between Australia and several other major nation states, including China, Europe, United West Africa and India led to a war that encompassed the world as neither of the wars in the 20th century ever had. However, it has been noted that at no point during this war did any side attempt to use any sort of nuclear technology against their opponents. According to the records of the AAK, this is not true. Both the Europeans and the Indians tried at various times during the war to use nuclear devices3. However, both these attempts failed. The reason for failure was not apparent at the time but records dating from that time indicate that detailed analysis later showed that the triggers of the warheads had been damaged, apparently by insects. Both governments were so embarrassed by this that it was covered up for centuries.
The third, and final, case study in this article takes place during first contact, when humanity first made physical contact with an extra-terrestrial civilisation - the Alain4 - in 2649. Earth's first extra-terrestrial visitor first landed near Lough Neagh in the early hours of the morning and was first encountered by a paranoid insomniac whose fear and mental instability led him to attempt to attack and kill the alien. However, before this man (whose name is, alas, lost in the mists of time) could confront the alien, he was accosted by a dog who forced him from the scene before fetching his owner - that owner being, of course, the now-legendary Jimmy O'Bready.
Before I end this article, I will attempt to deal with the question of how the AAK formed. Here we can only speculate, since the entity itself has no real recollection of this event. From what it has described, it appears that the experience can be analogised to the slow rise into consciousness experienced by the transition out of sleep in humans. One theory put forward for the formation of the AAK suggests that it could be the product of extra-terrestrial involvement. For example, the Paramalariens probably have the technology to engineer the moulding of such a consciousness. They are also well known as pranksters as well as being anthropologists and so might have engineered this feat to see what happens when cultures collide in such a manner. Since the Paramalariens refuse to either confirm or deny this theory, it remains popular, especially with conspiracy theorists. Another theory says that the awakening of the AAK could have been a natural occurrence. We know that consciousness is linked with brain size, perhaps there is a telepathic equivalent - once the population reaches a certain threshold, consciousness may be inevitable.
Whatever the true answer, humans have been fascinated by the animal kingdom since the dawn of time. We have raised them as equals and gods in our stories and mythology5 and now we see those images and stories returning in reality. The AAK has helped shaped human lives and human civilisation for a millennium. Now that we are finally acquainted with each other, let us hope that the two sentient civilisations of the Earth can learn from each other and eventually face the rest of the galaxy as equals.
If you want to find out more about the AAK they have a dedicated node on StarNet.
– October 2001
2) The rise to power of President Wilburheimer is interesting in its own right. For further details, see Early Twenty-First Century Political Leaders of North America by Martin Cosworth, 2153, on the historical node of StarNet
3) This can be at least partially verified. I have found several
documents that corroborate this in European military archives that are
not part of the StarNet. They can, however, be found on an local
precursor to StarNet called the Internet. A gateway between the two
networks does exist and using this gateway, the documents can be
4) This name for this species is now so common that it has almost been forgotten that Alain was the name of the first member of this species (whose language is almost unpronounceable by the human thorax) to visit Earth. For more details on the Alain civilisation see Alain: The Person and the People by Indra Meenam, 2803, on StarNet