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With the first comprehensive translation of the handwritten notebook, the paradox was complete. Now there were two consistent and apparently irrefutable bodies of evidence, one proving that the Lunarians must have evolved on Earth, and the other proving that they couldn't have.

All at once the consternation and disputes broke out afresh. Lights burned through the night at Houston and elsewhere as the same inevitable chains of reasoning were reeled out again, and the same arrays of facts scrutinized for new possibilities or interpretations. But always the answers came out the same. Only the notion of the Lunarians having been a parallel line of evolution seemed to have been abandoned permanently; more than enough theories were in circulation already, without this being invoked. The Navcomms fraternity disintegrated into a myriad cliques, with strays scurrying about to ally first with one idea, then with another. As the turmoil subsided, the final defense lines fortified around four main camps.

The Pure Earthists accepted without reservation the deductions from Charlie's diary, and held that the Lunarian civilization had developed on Earth, flourished on Earth, and destroyed itself on Earth-and that was that. Thus, all references to Minerva and its alleged civilization were nonsense; there never had been any civilization on Minerva apart from that of the Ganymeans, and that had been to far in the remote past to have any bearing on the Lunarian issue. The world depicted on Charlie's maps was Earth, not Minerva, so there had to be a gross error somewhere in the calculations putting it at 250 million miles from the Sun. That this corresponded to the orbital radius of the Asteroids was coincidence; the Asteroids had always been there, and anything from the Iliad that said otherwise was suspect and needed checking.

That left only one question: Why didn't Charlie's maps look like Earth? To answer this, the Earthists launched a series of raids against the bastions of accepted geological theory and methods of dating. Drawing on the hypothesis that the continents had formed a single mass that had been shattered by the weight of immense ice caps and pushed apart by polar material rushing into the gaps, they pointed to the size of the ice caps shown on the maps and stressed how much larger they were than anything previously supposed to have existed. If the maps showed Earth and not Minerva, it meant that the Ice Age on Earth had been far more severe than previously thought, and its effects on surface geography correspondingly more violent. Add to this the effects of crustal fractures and vulcanism as described in Charlie's observations of Earth (not Minerva), and there was, perhaps, enough in all of it to account for the transformation of Charlie's Earth into modern Earth. So why were there no traces to be found today of the Lunarian civilization? Answer: It was clear from the maps that most of it had been concentrated on the equatorial belt. Today that region was ocean, dense jungle, or desert-adequate to explain the rapid erasure of whatever was left after the war and the climatic cataclysm.

The Pure Earthist faction attracted mainly physicists and engineers, happy to leave the geologists and geographers to worry about bothersome details. Their main concern was that the sacred principle of constancy of the velocity of light should not be thrown into the melting pot of suspicion along with everything else.

By entrenching themselves around the idea of Earth origins, the Pure Earthists had moved into the positions previously defended by the biologists. Now that Danchekker had led the way by introducing his fleet of Ganymean Noah's Arks, the biologists turned an about-face to rally behind their new assertion of Minervan origin from displaced terrestrial ancestors. What about Charlie's Minerva-Luna flight time and the loop delay round the Annihilator fire-control system? Something was screwed up in the interpretation of Minervan time scales. Okay, how could Charlie have seen Minerva from Luna? Video transmissions. Okay, how could they aim the Annihilator over that distance? They couldn't. The dish at Seltar was only a remote tracking station. The weapon itself was on a satellite orbiting Minerva.

The Third flag flew over the Cutoff Colony Theory. According to this, an early terrestrial civilization had colonized Minerva and then declined into a Dark Age, during which contact was lost. The deteriorating conditions of the Ice Age later prompted a recovery on both planets, with the difference that Minerva faced a life-or-death situation and began the struggle to regain the lost knowledge in order to make a return to Earth. Earth, however, was going through lean times of its own and, when the advance parties from Minerva eventually made contact, didn't react favorably to the prospect of another planet to feed. Diplomacy having failed, the Minervans set up an invasion beachhead on Luna. The Annihilator at Seltar had thus been firing at targets on Earth; the translators had been misled by identical place names on both planets-in a way similar to hundreds of places in the USA, many towns on Minerva had been named after places on Earth when the colony was first established.

The defenders of these arguments drew heavily from the claims of the Pure Earthists to account for the absence of Lunarian relics on Earth. In addition, they produced further support from the unlikely domain of Pacific corals. It had been known for a long time that analysis of the daily growth rings of ancient fossil corals provided a measure of how many days there had been in a year at various times in the past, and from this how fast the forces of tidal friction were slowing down the Earth's rotation. These researches showed, for example, that the year of 350 million years ago contained about four hundred days. More recent work had revealed that the continuity from ancient to modern had not been as smooth as previously thought. There was a confused period in the recent past-around fifty thousand years before-during which a comparatively abrupt lengthening of the day had occurred. Furthermore, the rate of rotational deceleration was measurably greater after this discontinuity than it had been before. Nobody knew why this should have happened, but it seemed to indicate a period of violent climatic upheaval, as the corals had taken generations to settle back to a stable growth pattern afterward. It all seemed to indicate widespread changes taking place around this mysterious point in time, accompanied by global flooding, and all in all there could be enough to explain the disappearance of all records of the Lunarians' existence.

The fourth main theory was that of the Returning Exiles, which found these attempts to explain the disappearance of the terrestrial Lunarians artificial and inadequate. The basic tenet of this theory was that there could be only one satisfactory reason for there being no signs of the Lunarians on Earth, namely that there never had been any Lunarians on Earth worth talking about. They had evolved on Minerva as Danchekker maintained and had evolved an advanced civilization, unlike their contemporary brothers on Earth, who remained backward. Eventually, compelled by the Ice Age threat of extinction, the two Lunarian superpowers of Cerios and Lambia had emerged and begun the race toward the Sun in the way described by Linguistics' translations. Where Linguistics had gone wrong, however, was that by the time of Charlie's narrative these events were historical; the goal had already been achieved. The Lambians had drawn ahead by a small margin and commenced building settlements on Earth, several of them named after their towns on Minerva. The Cerians following on their heels established a fire-base on Luna, the objective being to knock out the Lambian outposts on Earth before moving in themselves.

This theory did not explain the flight time of Charlie's ship, but its supporters attributed it to unknown differences between Minervan and local (Lunar) dating systems. On the other hand, it required only a few pilot Lambian bases on Earth by the time of the war; whatever remained of these after the Cerian assault could credibly have vanished in fifty thousand years.

As battle lines were drawn up and ranging shots started whistling up and down the corridors of Navcomms, in no-man's land sat Hunt. He knew the competence of the people around him and had no doubts of their ability to get their sums right. Therefore, the paradox had to be an illusion. To argue who was right and who was wrong would be missing the whole point. Somewhere in the maze, probably so fundamental that nobody had thought to question it, there had to be a fallacy-some wrong assumption that seemed so obvious that they didn't even realize they were making it. If they could just get back to fundamentals and find the fallacy, the paradox would vanish, and everything that was being argued would slide into a consistent, unified, whole.

 
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