(Here's an excerpt from the final part of the last chapter of the Movie Serial, so that readers will know where we left off. Chapter Nine to follow.)
The image paces about its cell for a long minute, staring at the floor, before it looks again directly at the camera-- toward the questioner-- and returns to its monologue.
"I am from the greatest generation: the Creators of Empire. We are the Wise Men. We created the literary world you live in. In many ways, it could be said, we created you.
"We know that those who follow won't be up to our ability. It's the nature of the universe that in a civilization such as ours, the ruling generations decline. Not due to any fault of their own. Don't mistake me, please. It's a natural process. It's inevitable that you're less forceful, less intelligent, less shrewd. Your own father mocks you about this, I know. The question is whether you're intelligent ENOUGH to rule this machine we the Creators have set into motion.
"Why is this struggle important? This battle over literature? Because literature is language, the foundation of culture, of civilization, of thought itself. Without words we are not even human, will regress to become mere grunting animals. Beasts! Mere beasts. This fate is what we oppose. Without our wisdom to guide humanity, through literature, through ideas and discussion, we will have in this world only chaos. Another Dark Ages. Freedom equals Chaos. We have given humankind the illusion of freedom but we've always directed their path. You know this." (The image pauses.)
"I will give you now, to arm you for the intellectual battle ahead, a proper way to view the map of battle.
"Think for a moment about science fiction novels which use the universe of galaxies, planets, and stars as metaphor for this planet. Let's use this metaphor to explain real objects. Let's imagine-- imagine!-- this nation as an entire galaxy."
The Image of Plimpton turns suddenly. Behind him has come alive a large map of America dotted with lights-- sparks of lights representing cities of the civilization, as if they were glowing planets against a night sky. He points with wonder and pride at this sparkling backdrop before continuing the narrative.