Where are the Cephaloms Going?

Ángel Arango

Original Title:

¿Adónde van los Cefalomos?
Translated by Dan Stephensen

Published 1964
Ediciones R
La Habana, Cuba

Report of the Cerebral Robot R1-His357 — “Historical Machine” — belonging to the cephalom Ocmar, regarding the fate of the cephaloms, inhabitants of planet Transparencia in the Dream galaxy.

Presented by the cephalom Ocmar to the Supreme Council of Intelligent Masses, via his Telepathic Robot R2-Tel-42.

(Annotations, marginalia, and unauthorized comments R2-Tel-42)

Translation into Earthling English of Century XX by Teleprintic Robot R2-Tel-25.


…Year 2748 of the Pre-Transparent Era… Rocket XCC-42 from planet Trema, carrying Earthlings, flies through intergalactic cosmic space, bound for the infinite limit… It seeks the possibility of return to the point of departure, following any course (Rotus’s Theory)… Five men and three women are aboard… They are carrying long-term survival equipment and a small library… TRAK…

R1-His357 remembers that the library is held in the Earth Museum in the capital of Transparencia… Interesting data can be found there, although it is incomplete, because time has melted the ideas. Excuse me: the ink. R1-His357 apologizes to Ocmar for confusing ink with ideas… Error corrected… Resuming…

Rocket XCC-42, its fuel spent, became enveloped in a dense, gaseous mass that immobilized it. The men and women aboard remained inside the mass for an Earth year of 365 Earth days (according to their watches). Then there was a release in the mass that dragged the spaceship along with it; this movement was likely produced by another ship passing nearby, whose friction caused XCC-42 to separate from the mass. With this initial impulse they were able to continue their long journey until they reached the outer edge of the Dream galaxy, where the ship yielded to the pull of the most remote planet, Transparencia. Upon landing, everyone was in reasonable health, and they had added four children to their number, born while they were lodged in the gelatinous mass.


The large cakes, half a meter wide (Earth dimensions) and a foot and a half tall (as above), rose and fell like bellows. Covered with countless dark green pores, their surfaces seemed willing to end our lives. I noted R1-His357’s silence and feared for its fate. I feared for its fate in my own way, abandoning my transmission of what it dictated to me and making these comments instead. Then I realized the danger I was in as well and erased the comments, which I now retrieve. The large cakes shuddered slightly when I stopped transmitting, but there was nothing they could do, for we had their “memory”, and the R1s were their “brains”. I resisted giving my opinion, passing it on to R1-His357 and the other R1s, but not to the cephaloms.

Each time the cerebral machines made some judgment or analysis of these notes, I automatically closed my transmission circuits and the great cakes were left beating their bellies like bellows, flat on the ground, circular, slightly raised in the middle.


The men and women found Transparencia habitable. They began to administer their chemical adaptation treatment, prepared on board by the lab technician. They followed the diet prescribed according to environmental research, renewing the composition of their bodily tissues and leaving in their excretions and secretions the last vestiges of their bond with Earth, knowing, as they did, that they had come to an inaccessible planet, that they had already exhausted their fuel in their flight, and that their ship was at full capacity. Within a few months they were able to detach their protective chambers, and they began to roam the planet in search of resources of all kinds.

With their capacity to adapt, those people became natural children of our planet. Making use of the ship’s equipment, they carried out studies and analysis of the environment and its components. They came up with long-term plans for themselves and their families. Although the books of Earth tell of families formed on the basis of a man and a woman, these intrepid people in fact constructed a single family, a unit, a whole. The women did not choose men, nor the men women, or else there would have been two much-needed men left over. It seems they felt no less than a moral duty not to establish preferences. 

In some Earth years there were as many as thirty Earthlings of various ages. That is, strictly speaking, the children were genuine “Transparents”, entirely products of their environment, as their parents had adapted their own integral components to the planet. And the children survived even better than the parents.

The principle of sexual non-exclusivity was also passed down, and a communal effort was made to carry it out.

The first inhabitants of Transparencia understood almost from the beginning that they were isolated from Earth by an impassible barrier of gelatinous gas, through which their ship had passed in an expectional circumstance. Their telescopes and cosmic calculation equipment, radar, sonic rays, and atom ray reflectors allowed them to verify initial data for the distance of the wall and its density or degree of impenetrability; and, taking into account the control clocks and the ship’s log, they completed calculations determining the distance to planet Earth, relying on known data in relation to Transparencia.


TRAK… The cephaloms listened in silence. Ocmar trembled in his surface… These were well-known episodes… But R1-His357 presented them all together with an abundance of detail, in an overwhelming way. What would the great cakes do? I wondered.

Could they withstand such a long journey from the past into the future? R1-His357 gave me a quick warning, saying: “Do not wear them down. Do not destroy them. They are our will. What are we without will, brother?”


As noted, the Earthlings changed their chemical composition to better integrate with Transparencia. Given that no organic life exists here, they were careful to prepare, early on, the most indispensible substances by means of artificial compounds subjected to the action of the Chemical Processor. The changes brought about by this procedure are reported in the books they left behind. Evidently the skin they originally wore was extremely thin and delicate, but the chemical composition of the food they prepared was giving them a tougher, more resilient covering that allowed them to conserve internal heat and energy for longer.

Necessity also forced them to develop and produce as many tools and devices as possible for work and study, and cybernetic and automatic machines and equipment. There were only thirty people at first, and alone they could not expect to take advantage of the whole planet. Besides, the typical chemical conversion of substances in the environment proved to be a huge waste of time. Slowly they worked on the production of food, in a desperate struggle against time that periodically even jeopardized the reproduction necessary to save their species. Thus the Earthlings of XCC-42 constructed their first robots. Initially these were for manual work; they were used to gather substances from the environment to feed into the chemical conversion laboratory. This was hard work, as it required traveling long distances, so the Earthlings equipped their robots with levitators to transport them over the surface of the planet, enabling them to cover more ground. Subsequently, the Earthlings began to perfect analytical machines, data processors, and memory banks, similar to those they had known on their home planet. The extraordinary drive they devoted to the construction of this equipment led them to create the first cerebral robot or intelligent machine, which came to greatly alleviate their concerns. Connected to other robots, this invention facilitated the subsequent exploration of Transparencia, permitting more time to be dedicated to sexual intercourse and making the life of the Earthling Transparents (by then numbering about eighty) much more comfortable.

The Earthlings’ cerebral robots, our ancestors, commenced work on the database held in the library of ship XCC-42, and on the experience of each of the new inhabitants. They incorporated new data into each new experience, and processed and rationalized the data into judgments.

The Earthlings did little work after they perfected their robots. The robots were assigned a range of manual tasks, and they moved around taking care of them… TRAK… Only intellectual labor was duplicated, as for their part the cerebral robots thought in reference to given facts, and the Earthling Transparents could not avoid thinking about the same subjects. These people had inherited on Earth a certain quality they called imagination, which has not yet been precisely analyzed by us. It refers to a rare phenomenon, somewhat as if a cerebral robot machine were to offer informational material containing an incomplete result on one or more lines due to missing elements, but it were possible for these elements to be obtained. Of course, no machine does this, as no machine offers results until it has every element, but the Earthling brain operates in a very different way. It offers the results of different possible combinations, even if they are missing one or two factors necessary for the results to be real, to exist.

This quality — imagination — no longer exists, as we know. We, the robots, only give complete results, accurate and verified. TRAK TRAK TRAK.


Here R1-His357 suffered a malfunction. The cephaloms moved their backs rhythmically, faster and faster, and Ocmar ordered me to telepathically command the manual work robots to repair the fault in R1-His357. He took charge of task R4-Man-98. And I served as intermediary between him and R1-His357, of course. He discovered the fault at once, and the informant continued.


The Earthlings of Transparencia, hastened by the need to multiply as quickly as possible, relegated the robots to the task of mechanically fertilizing their women, firstly so that they could have three or four children at once, and then adding artificial reproduction in synthetic matrices, whereby an egg extracted whole from a woman was fertilized by a sperm and converted to a growing fetus in incubation.

It was a long process, but not as long as it would have been under other conditions. Perhaps the people of Earth, discoverers of Transparencia, reached a deeper rapport with that planet for knowing themselves irrevocably separated from their mother planet. In any case, their life was becoming more and more dependent on machines. Arms, legs, and sexual organs became unnecessary. Their diet centred around miniaturized chemical preparations administered by their robots. Unused organs diminished and disappeared. Their stomachs and finally their breasts and torsos disappeared as well, all unnecessary. But their control organs remained, without which they would not exist: the will… Human-heads: cephaloms…


Ocmar transmitted the order that R1-His357 get to work; the question was: What is our fate? Where are the cephaloms going?


TRAK… TRAK… TRAK… Historical preamble is necessary to focus our judgment… We have said that intelligent machines do not give incomplete judgments… In the absence of evidence to the contrary we follow only logic and the law of maximum probability… In accordance with this… The fate of the cephaloms is in their past… It is necessary to start from the beginning… A prehistoric element remains to be analyzed, namely, human life on planet Earth and its origin… We have yet to say anything about this… R1-His357 would appreciate being given further data… Information is in the Earth Museum, library of the original cosmic ship XCC-42… It is urgent to have information about the past in order to give judgment on the time that is to come. Ocmar, it is necessary to obtain this using mobile equipment.


Ocmar transtelecommunicated the order to R3-Mob-29, and I repeated it twice… R3-Mob-29 carried it out ZIP and desposited the documents in the electronic interpreter of R1-His357’s visual container. The cephaloms rested while all the material from the Earth Museum library was assimilated, ancient and blurred in parts, but nonetheless the only candid document of information about planet Earth, our father; or rather, father of the cephaloms.


The pre-Transparent past of the human Earthling indicates a long succession of extraordinary beings, equipped with the instruments that are today found in a robot or any intelligent machine. The animals and humans of that planet are, according to our data, very complex beings who have the ability to receive and speak without intermediaries, to move by themselves, to reproduce by physical union of the sexes, and to think. These beings — even those less complex than humans, such as quadrupeds — have inside themselves an intelligent machine composed of their own matter. This strains credibility, but the books say it is true.


There was a sudden acceleration of movements in the backs or spines of the cephaloms. They seemed to be performing a concert of expansions and contractions… The horror! They had reason to be worried: I understood at once.


The data available to us, then, obliges us to arrive at certain conclusions:

First, both on Earth and on Transparencia, the original life forms have undergone important subsequent transformations. On Earth, single-celled organisms developed into animals that moved independently in different environments: air, water, or land. There were, moreover, beings who received sensations directly as well as producing them. They formed judgments, retained experiences, and made calculations. Their highest expression, the human, was almost a robot. If not for small deviations and weaknesses, it would have made an excellent robot. Our first conclusion is the result of transmitted experience: on Earth, the evolutionary process always led to superior, ever more complex forms… The human did it all.

Secondly, we find the inverse process on Transparencia. The human loses every capability acquired on Earth through direct personal application, and preserves these functions by means of machines and robot assistants. In itself, the cephalom, direct descendant of the homo sapiens that populated Transparencia, is the last link in a chain of detachments, of abandoned functions. We, the robots, do all the labor: physical, intellectual, reproductive.


R1-His357 paused. Then I heard once again its unmistakable TRAK TRAK TRAK.


TRAK TRAK TRAK. The stated question is: What is the fate of the cephaloms? Where are the cephaloms going? Well, this does not mean the cephaloms will take the opposite pathway and end up as a single, original cell, and then become extinct… The union of cephaloms and robots is an indissoluble alliance, given that robots move by will, and that will belongs to cephaloms. We think, we carry and transport the human-heads, we organize the reproduction of other cephaloms, but for this to happen we must first be stimulated by an order, an act of will, and this still does not exist in any machine. The will, then, is the essence of the cephalom, and there will be cephaloms while the will exists. A cephalom is a highly specialized organism that can be perfected, but cannot disappear… At least, there are no data in our records that would lead to that conclusion… The final conclusion is a future of progress for the cephaloms, served by robots, machines, and their will.


The cakes moved slowly; they seemed calmer. Their dark green backs rose and fell gently, serenely. The final words of R1-His357 had been comforting. I congratulated it. It had made a brilliant report. On the inter-robot wavelength that the cephaloms could not perceive, it explained to me: “That is what they wanted to hear. The truth would have annihilated them. We have to find the will. It is necessary to learn how to produce orders… TRAK…”

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