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Dreamed 1994/11/13 by Chris Wayan

I inspect the mermaids' experimental solar dish

I dive into the Golden Gate, on the south side, to inspect the new mermaid dish just past the surf zone. It's a heater the local mermaids designed. In their environment fire's impossible, so solar was the way to go. A friend greets me, leads me out to the dish, a parabolic reflector about ten feet down and over 2 meters wide. The sunlight's fractured by surface ripples, of course, but on average, energy concentrates at the focus, and whatever's there gets a lot of heat and light--surprisingly effective.

"So can you forge your own metal?" They've depended on trade until now.

My friend says "We plan to try, with a bigger model. This one's just an experimental cooker and house-heater."

A black boiler's at the focal point, with an insulated pipe to distribute the scalding hot water...

I swim over the edge and look underneath. Razor-clams and gooseneck barnacles encrust the bottom already, though not the working face. My friend notices my look, flicks her tail and arcs over the dish to me and says "Yeah, keeping the reflector clean is gonna be a problem."

But I'm confident they'll solve it. The merfolk want to be energy-independent.


Arthur C. Clarke argued decades ago that worlds without fertile landmasses won't evolve past the Stone Age. Sea-worlds may be common, but, he argued, dolphins and squid will never fly to the stars, for you need fire to create ceramics and metals.

But maybe there are ways around it.

Also... the undersea realm often means dreams, the unconscious. I think this dream's saying something about dreams' resourcefulness. There are ways around the fire of consciousness, and as the techno-world gets hotter, I think dreams are looking for ways to catch up.

And will find them.

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