Theories by Strange Planet.

Karmic Civilization Theory (debunked)

Karmic Civilization Theory
Theory history
Submitted 2009-06-23
Debunked 2011-03-08
Location in Subnet

The whole thing starts with Karma arms and Karmic portals. Some people have the power to draw Karmic portals (seen in Sub 2) using their Karma arms. This ability remains dormant in people until something forces it to the surface, such as that accident Mur had in Kent. But way before Mur, there was an ancient group of people who had this power. They were cut off from the rest of civilization and formed their own society in a set of extra-dimensional areas which can only be accessed through Karmic portals or teleports. Karmic portals can be drawn manually, without the aid of machinery, but Karmic teleports are entirely mechanical. Ever notice that civilization tends to regress every now and again? Eratosthenes proved mathematically that Earth was round long before the fifteenth century explorers of Europe did it physically. Perhaps if Greek civilization hadn't been wiped out, they'd have discovered electricity by the first century CE. The ancient Karma people managed to avoid any threats to their civilization by ducking and covering in their own Submachine world. Therefore, they discovered electricity and nuclear physics long before Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. They had conducted their own research in the scientific world, and began to mechanize the Submachine Network they'd built during the Roman era. The ancient section in Sub 4 is an early Submachine, dating back to the Greeks perhaps, given that nothing in it is electrified; everything works mechanically. The mover and its destination are later Submachines; a defense network built as people were getting curious. It's extremely dubious that Murtaugh was the first human with Karmic abilities ever to meander into the Subnet. There must have been hundreds, perhaps thousands. Most kept quiet lest they be ostracized or killed (or burned like witches--hint, hint), but some were in the right place at the right time and Karma-ed their way into the Subnet. Once their, they either joined the society of ancient Karma people or, like Murtaugh, started pushing the envelope. Perhaps they disagreed with the ancient Karma civilization. Perhaps they wanted it for their own. Perhaps they wanted to bring it and normal human civilization together. Whatever the reason, the defense network was built. That's where we're going in Sub 6 And then what happened? Perhaps the ancients discovered space travel. Perhaps a civil war broke out. Most likely, it was both. The Karma people split into two distinct groups, fought each other, died en masse, and left the Subnet, perhaps for...another Subnet? Another planet? Who knows. Maybe they gathered together the remnants of their civilization and rebuilt. But the main thing is that they left their old Subnet--or the old part of it--behind. It's entirely probable that some of these people still haunt the ancient Subnet. The problem is finding them. Of course, people still kept stumbling upon the Subnet. There is still a Karma civilization, but in a reduced form. They are the ones who decided to bury the Kent lighthouse in Sub 2. After all, it does have a Karmic portal in it, albeit a mechanical one. People are still joining the current Karma civilization. And other people are still trying to exploit it. Murtaugh falls somewhere in between. He wants to integrate the ancient society into normal society. And the ancients don't like that. Consider society itself. For most of its life, humanity has taken everything on faith, but with the age of science comes the age of curiosity. So, sometime prior to the turn of the 20th century, someone Karmas his way into the Subnet. Instead of fearing it, he starts reverse-engineeering it. He gets a substantial following and in the late 40's or early 50's, he and his team built the Root (Sub 5). By the time the current Karma people learned of this man and his research team, they had mapped out about 43 locations (the room in the Root where you get the first key has room for six, and an empty teleport key holder still takes you somewhere). Unfortunately, they were unable to continue thanks to the current Karma people. Not sure what they did, but it left the Root behind. Problem is, people found this guy's notes and started building their own Submachines. As far as the wisdom gens are concerned, they are a data medium similar to a flash drive or floppy disc. They can be read using either the ancient Karma peoples' equipment (seen in Sub 5, right at the end), or the current Karma peoples' equipment (seen and used in Sub 2). So, now we get into Murtaugh himself. He's been exploring the Subnet for 32 years at least. Consider the present to be the 2000s. Sometime in the 1960s or late 1950s, Mur had an accident while exploring the Kent waterfall. Obviously, the Root was still in operation then. Murtaugh made his residence the Kent lighthouse to keep society out, then found the Root mapping team. He helped in the effort for 32 years, but then the current Karma people struck. Murtaugh escaped, albeit barely, and started getting his own team together, composed of ordinary, non-Karma people. These people were to continue the Root's mission and complete the things they couldn't. However, Mur knew the current Karma people were on his tail. He has hidden himself, perhaps in his own Submachine, where he talks to members of his team. And that's you; his team. Oh, did I mention Mur first found his way into the Subnet by following this cat named Einstein who belonged to one of the Root team? Here's where you come in; Sub 1. The basement is a laboratory built by Mur and the Root team, and maintained by Mur after the team's disappearance. You first end up there, Karmically teleported by Mur, having proven a potential candidate for the team. The basement introduces a few elements of the Subnet's warped physiognomy. Pressing a button on a radio (which is really a tape loop) triggers the drawer opening; it's only a mechanical trick, but the Subnet may easily be like this in person, so to speak. The Karmic Portal is the door that appears after all tiles are placed; an adaptation of the first mechanized portals (see Sub 4). This later takes you to... The lighthouse was Mur's home when he was working with the Root team, but he had to make a mad dash when the Root team disappeared. He ended up in the Loop, but left behind the mechanized portal he used to jump to the Loop. Under the lighthouse are some of the team's digouts to the original Subnet, which we get to visit in Sub 4. Note the bricked-up connection to the Root. That was part of Murtaugh's mad dash from the Root. The tiled room is merely Murtaugh's lab, and the room below a secret study. Once you leave the lighthouse, you take Mur's route to... The loop was an early defense system protecting the ancient Subnet. Mur, thanks to his random leaps, ended up caught there, but was able to Karma teleport out and ended up somewhere totally random. He then built... The lab was Mur's base for a while, but they found it. Mur bugged out, but before he did, he built his own electro-mechanical Karmic teleport, which he invented while he was still working for the Root team. Once he arrived at his present base, he started recruiting ordinary joes for his cause. How? By sticking puzzles in the Basement, Lighthouse, and even the Loop. I'll bet you don't actually die of dehydration, but are instead returned to wherever you came from via Karmic teleportation. Thing is, though, it's also a review of the circumstances the subject is under. A wisdom gem reader is introduced in Sub 2, and the bit where you reach into the movie memory reader is an example of the physics of the Subnet; a reach into the fourth dimension. The sand traps are part of the original Subnet, as is the ship; a fixed location able to move between two other locations. Finally, most of where you go in the root is either an ancient location or a satellite location for the Root team.

Portal Entropy Theory (likely)

Portal Entropy Theory
Theory history
Submitted 2011-10-09
Doubtful 2013-01-27
Still alive 2014-11-05
Likely 2016-01-15

I don't know if anyone's realized this before, but the effect the karma portals have is akin to entropy; the immediate vicinity around the portal is disintegrating faster than the rest of the location it's in. Liz hints toward this, asking us not to use Karma portals because they have a destructive influence on the Subnet. However, the condition of the immediate vicinity of the portals suggests an entropy-like decay. Ergo, by logical extension, the Subnet is a macro-universe. Immediately after leaving the ship in Sub 7, we're presumed to be heading towards a different "layer" of the Subnet, and Liz hints that the microverse you just left collapsed (awfully apologetic about abandoning us, isn't she?). What does that mean? One of two things: either heat death or a Big Crunch (though the latter might result in that layer of the subnet being reborn or reset in a way as postulated by the Big Bounce theory). So where are you going after you've left a collapsed microverse? Well, where else is there except another microverse, or layer, of the Subnet. Two things, though: (1) how many microverses are there, and (2) can you go outside the microverses, into the macroverse?

Well, briefly speaking, the various layers of the Subnet are micro-universes, the Subnet itself is a macroverse containing them, Karma portals increase entropy within these micro-universes, and the one you used at the end of Sub 7 was the last straw; that layer collapsed and you (and possibly Murtaugh) got out just in time. I'm just hanging a name on the reason why the area around the Karma portals is more disintegrated than the rest of the general area.

See also