the “roots of humanity,” a weakly connected — yet global — web of artificial underground caverns, cavities, castles; much of it is the legacy of past ages' industry which, driven off the surface, went partly into space and partly sub terra — into the invulnerable, nearly limitless layers that wont stain the outer wraps of the planet. Innerwald predates sparsening; the technological civilizations “hellish intestines” were expected to depopulate and wither first — but, in a sense, they survived the surface cities, even proliferated after digging became explosively affordable: the entire planetary crust was suddenly as penetrable, malleable, livable as arf. Resistance, inhomogeneity of the ground makes roots more artistically interesting than branches, density complexifies easier than emptiness: the “Gardens of Heavy” — “caverns measureless to man” — still grow in their infrasound silence. ■    Are we witnessing an allopatric speciation? Deep below the archaeologically or paleontologically interesting layers, modern Innerwald remains visited and sparsely populated — clumping around labs, datacenters, stationary compilers, byrunning ranges; ever since the dwarves (an early fandom), “the Basement” has lured in and assimilated ascetics, inside the rock literalists, detached and experimental seekers. Much of it is unstepped and untouched (“halls self-building, self-maintaining, self-destructing when abandoned”) — but so is Earth from surface up; once proclaimed a “true frontier” (forget outer space: heres inner), Innerwald may or may not be incubating its own branch of humanity: we evolve unhurriedly down here — subjective time is slow underground.

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