Dear Greg Bear,
Hello, it's me DecepticonCobra again and I have another theory to run by you. Can you let me know what you think?
Since information on the Precursors is scare, I've decided to give it a shot to offer a few theories on their origins. Just like our ancient ancestors, I'm going to use myths to try and explain that which we do not understand. I will be using mostly Greco-Roman, Norse and Judeo-Christian. Please do not be offended by that statement.
So according to most creation myths, there was nothing in the beginning until supernatural forces began the creation. To the Greeks and Romans, there was Chaos and from Chaos came two children called Night and Erebus. To the Norse, there nothing but a void until the rivers of Niflheim flowed and froze to create the land. To Christians, Jews and Muslims, God created the world in 7 days. What is the relevance? The Precursor's concept of neural physics comes to mind here as it contends that the universe is a living being beyond comprehension. So much like the universes of mythology, could the universe be the supernatural force that formed itself? It may not be clear just HOW this came to be, but neither is the reasoning in the myths either. It just did. In this case, the universe brought itself into existence and then brought into existence the Precursors.
This is paralleled heavily with Greco-Roman myth and the first beings born from the universe were the 100 eyed, 50 headed monsters, Cyclopes and the Titans.
Creation of Other Life
The Titans in particular had in the creation of man as did their offspring the Olympians. Prometheus, a Titan, in some myths is said to have helped make man with his brother Epimetheus. Prometheus molded men from clay and tasked his brother to give them and animals their traits, yet Epimetheus stupidly gave animals the desirable traits for protection and strength, like fur and horns, so Prometheus game them fire and molded them in the image of the gods. God, in Judeo-Chirstian circles, created man out of the dust of the Earth and women from Adam's rib. To the Norse, Ymir created men and women from the ooze of his armpit, not very glamorous but so be it.
The point is, these first beings created other life. We know the Precursors created humanity and Forerunners and likely all life in the galaxy and universe. Yet why? The myths offer a variety of reasons each. God was lonely and wished for worshipers, the Olympians and Prometheus didn't seem to have a specific reason and Ymir made them completely bu accident. For the Precursors, I would wager that they tend to be closer to God in this regard although perhaps not for their own worship, but to populate the universe and fulfill their role of the Mantle.
Destruction of Their Created Life
Common among all of these myths is the gods seeking retribution against their creations for various reasons, mostly wickedness. The story of the Great Flood is one found in most myths and the most common form of widespread destruction. God sent a flood, Zeus sent a flood, etc. The Sumerian gods, for example, sent a flood to destroy humanity because they were too noisy. Plenty more can be found elsewhere. This obviously parallels with the actions of the Precursors, they would delete species they created when they failed a thus far unknown test. Their most well-known method of disposal is the Flood. The description of Silentium hints that the Flood's creation occurred over 10 million years ago and the Primordial implies they were made after the Forerunner-Flood War when the Precursors fled the Forerunners reach and creation continued. Still, this behavior is not original to the Precursors.
Threats to their Existence
With all this power under the grasp, how could anything threaten the Precursors and warrant the destruction of the threat? It's not so far fetched for the almighty to look out for their best interests. In Judeo-Christian faith, God gave man different languages to halt the construction of the Tower of Babel because to him if they could use it to reach Heaven then there is nothing their unified spirit could not do. The Greco-Roman gods and goddess would routinely punish individual humans who said blasphemies against them and sometimes after beating them in contests, like Athena did to Arachne when Athena turned her into a spider. The Precursors, wrong or no, obviously saw threats in the beings they created, be it to them or other life.
So what caused the fall of the Precursors at the hands of the Forerunners? We don't have much to go on, but I have doubts that the Forerunners did it by their own merit. Usually when the gods in myth are in trouble, an element within their own society causes it. With God, Satan rebelled against God and when he failed, he placed sin within the hearts of Man. Prometheus stealing fire from the Olympians was something they did not take kindly too. Loki, the trickster god, was a pain in the side to the Norse gods. With this common theme, is it unlikely that a Precursor or Precursors could've intervened in saving the Forerunners? Still, how could gods be killed? That is explored next.
Kinds of Precursor
Here is where a lot of speculation on my end comes in. Thus far I've discussed the Precursors as a singular presence, but are they? The words of the Primordial about him being the last of "this" kind of Precursor makes me think there are more than one kind. Sometimes the gods use intermediaries that are still considered holy to act on their behalf. God has his Angels, the Sumerians in the Epic of Gilgamesh created Enkidu as a way to stop Gilgamesh and sent the Bull of Heaven to wreak havoc later on in the same myth and the Olympians had the Oracles. Seeing as how the Primordial could be killed and remarked about being the last of his kind of Precursor, could its race have been the same way? After all the gods did not tend to build actual structures and live amongst their creations. Their were Precursor structures and mortal Precursors.
Still, the Primordial could technically be considered a Precursor due to its ancient being. Yet where would potentially "real" Precursors be? The gods lived in places man could never get to by themselves, Heaven, Olympus, Asgard, where would the Precursors live? We know Slipspace has several types of dimensions and it is generally inhospitable to any life. Could they reside there?
So there is my analysis on the Precursors and how they relate to mythology. Judging from the information presented, we may have a guide as to where the Precursors story may go and the influences that may be used or have been used. Do I have a point? Is there any relevancy?
You decide. Thank you.
From: Greg Bear
Thanks, DC! Let me know how all this connects with SILENTIUM, where much will be revealed in March.