Qualia, Koalas, and You

The following chapter from a 27th-century textbook for 9th graders is a prolog that didn’t make it into the final cut of Soul Boundary….


Qualia, Koalas, and You: A reality-based video-immersion textbook

Chapter 8: The Discovery of Soul Fabric

Now that you’ve seen how soul fabric is manufactured and how it lies hidden inside the soul-detection gadgets we use every day, you’ll be surprised and amazed to learn that soul fabric didn’t always exist. Hardly!

Before 2312, most people didn’t believe souls existed, so you can bet nobody was looking for ways to detect them. But three centuries ago, Dr. Elizabeth Subraman accidentally discovered soul fabric and … this just logically follows … the soul! Eureka.

It took her a few decades of fiddling around, though, and more than one lucky break.

But let’s back up. Here’s a sample of soul fabric—please touch it. We know, it’s sticky. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice it’s a lot like electrode webbing (remember Chapter 2?), which is the stuff neurologists sew into people’s heads during surgery.

Maybe you know someone who’s had an implant touch up? Well, doctors monitor these people for a few weeks after the surgery, right? It’s the electrode webbing that lets the doctors keep track of what’s going on inside their patients’ brains. The webbing amplifies low-frequency signals that would otherwise be too weak to penetrate the closed skull. Coolio!

After a few weeks of soaking in cerebrospinal fluid, the electrode web dissolves.

Anyway, Dr. Subraman was messing around with electrode webbing. How could she make it amplify more signals? Could she do that by splicing organic components, a living part or two, into the webbing? Hmm. She had a hefty grant, meaning she had a lot of money and time to play around with. 

The first samples she created had veins and a shiny, velvety surface, as you can see here. Ew! (Don’t worry, those are only your virtual fingers getting wet.) This gunk no longer worked as electrode webbing, but it had bizarre properties all its own. When you left it close to a living mammal, bird, large tree, anything like that, it was fine. But if you left it alone with only machinery, it would die. Why?

Dr. Subraman’s best friend Julia spoke the answer one evening as she and Elizabeth faced each other over the dinner table. “Maybe the fabric can’t live without being close to someone,” Julia said.


The material Dr. Subraman had invented only thrived in the presence of living humans and certain other living creatures, those with coherent macro quantum patterns. (More on this if you make it to college….)

It wasn’t scientists who called this stuff “soul fabric,” by the way. And it certainly wasn’t any of them who called the macro quantum patterns that it detects “souls”—ha ha. It was regular people like us. Once we realized what this fabric did, we named it, and our name stuck.

So here’s where you come in, O intrepid freshmen. Plenty of questions still need answering: What is a soul, anyway? What does it do? Why? Do souls live forever? Have souls evolved? Do we each get just one, or can we have two or three? Can a soul move from person to person? Can a soul live without a body? You might not have thought about these puzzles, soulistics professors of the future, but there they are, yours for the solving.

Quiz: What’s the only event known to change a living creature’s effect on soul fabric?

Hospitality question: Are you tired of watching this lesson? Right-blink “pause” any time to take a break. We’re getting tired too.

Quiz answer: Death! 

Learn more about Soul Boundary.