Analysis of the God in the Machine
There is a preoccupation in confic writing for world-enders. The things which bring about the end times so many these days are anxiously awaiting. As much as we fear the death of the world we also long for it. Long to not be responsible for the endless petty demands of human society, to live in that anarchic state of nature where we can die any day that we want.
For some of us going back to that soul-crushing office job feels infinitely worse than living a life where they’re fighting every day to survive. They long to struggle for survival, to feed an instinct which overrides comfortable abstractions of life, a mentality that only kicks in once rubber meets road. SCP-2000 is about that moment, a species living past multiple ends of their time somehow seeing yet another dawn’s break. Cataclysms to liberate us from our rat race society, once more with feeling.
An iconic work of containment fiction, SCP-2000 continues to influence and reverberate in ways that dwarf its contemporaries placing it in the pantheon of the most important pieces of containment fiction. Themes of SCP-2000 include rebirth, second chances, and living through transition. What is SCP-2000 and why does it matter?
SCP-2000 opens with a thick barrage of technobabble assembled in a dense opening paragraph positioned over a collapsible. It’s slightly overwhelming which gives readers the feeling of palpable relief when opening the collapsible and seeing the extremely evocative image of SCP-2000, a landscape photo where the narrative really begins. The first line of the story is found in this image; a faint white text that could almost be missed: “Remember us…”
The story itself is told in the same way, structurally dense patches of description made thick with jargon broken up by interludes of desperate characters pulling out their hair at the feasibility of ever using SCP-2000, the possibility that it has been used before, and the implications posed by the duality of those ideas. Have we done this before? Can we do this again? Contextualized by SCP-2000 it is impossible to choose questions with more terrifying answers. A palpable sense of panic is present throughout, the excruciating detail explaining why everything is broken, with panicked notes asking what they are now supposed to do if they need to use SCP-2000? They’ll perish.
The article’s title, Deus ex Machina, is a well-tread Latin phrase meaning ‘god out of the machine’ and used in a literary context to describe an apparent act of god which resolves an otherwise intractable problem in the story. It is well-fit to SCP-2000, an article which describes an underground facility which can reboot humanity should some terrible calamity cause life as we know it on earth to be annihilated. This process is known as the Ganymede protocol and Procedure Lazarus-01, which are the least subtle and most appropriate nomenclature for these processes.
Two key elements were introduced or popularized by SCP-2000 which would go on to have profound influence on future writing: the fictional invention known as Scranton Reality Anchors and the popularization of the Thaumiel Object Class. The latter was first used in the original Keter Duty 001 Proposal and the former was an in-universe device serving a similar purpose to objects such as Telekill which had existed before it; a way to ground the anomalous, to make the impossible into the ordinary. Scranton Reality Anchors have gone on to have prolific use throughout the SCP writing scene, dovetailing with humes and other pseudo-scientific aspects of the universe to make the soft science SCPs seem that much more real.
[Scranton Reality Anchors] would have been built on-site at Yellowstone[sic] sometime in old-as-hell BC no one would expect a person who's not supposed to be there to be there. Except maybe Xyank might notice the count of anchors is wrong and go looking for it with a Kant counter. [Since] he's so hung-up on progress and on fixing all the things he did wrong, [someone taking the Anchor] might actually be able to convince him that it's okay by telling the truth. At the very least, it'll make Xyank pause to reflect[...]
The connection to the earlier Keter Duty also connects it to a fictional concept introduced in that article, the VK-Class Reality Restructuring Scenario. Creating a new world in which that which we now find anomalous is normal, and that which we find normal is now anomalous. If that is all we had ever known, it would be impossible to ever know that things had been different before. That is what is suggested by SCP-2000, that those worlds which came before ours may have been impossibly different beyond our comprehension but they have ended, now all we can know is ourselves and how we are now, without the context of our forebears.
The Scranton Reality Anchors became the reality-enforcer de jure for the SCP Foundation because the other technological element used in SCP-2000’s containment- five Xyank/Anastasakos Constant Temporal Sinks- are a little too much to say fluidly even with their nice initialism provided in the article (XACTS). There are also Bright/Zartion Hominid Replicators (BZHR) which are noted as being non-functional. SCP-2000 may be capable of bringing humanity back from the brink but it won’t be without endless technical difficulties if they ever really thought to try.
So do our actions matter? If we can undo the consequences of the end of the world, roll things back, is there ever really going to be an escape from this world we live in? In the pursuit of eternal Normalcy, the Foundation demands that old systems and modes of thinking be preserved well past their shelf life. They do not buy into the adage that sometimes death is better. They say that life is precious and should be rescued from the depths to which it has plunged.
But is it really such a noble endeavor, or is the Foundation covering its own ass? They could just as easily do their work if human society were annihilated. They have been shown to have nigh-infinite resources time and time again. But without a species to protect, why do they even exist? They would lose that which allows them to justify their means; if humanity ends there is nobody left to stand in the light. Only darkness remains. The Foundation takes upon themselves the burden of keeping the candle of humanity going after the species has been wiped out. But really, it’s because if every person not already employed by the Foundation died they would have no way to differentiate themselves from the anomalies. They would be just as unusual as the objects they collect and curate, that kind of identity crisis is the thing that destroys great empires.
In the article, a note at the end of the containment procedures says ‘We can only suspend God’s disbelief so many times before the universe just says “no” ’ which shows that the Foundation has some level of this problem in-universe. You can only tape over the cassette so many times before the snow and the static dominate any pictures or sounds which may once have been recorded there.
There is an implication that it had been activated at least twice before, during the first and second World Wars. The seminal events of the 20th century and which even in our own corporeal world ushered in a world completely unlike that which had come before. In a thirty-one-year span from 1914 to 1945 the world was completely unmade and remade. Twice! The human species has never known such dislocation as was caused by these wars, not before and one can only hope never again.
There is no meaning to be, no going into that good night. The Foundation rejects that reality and substitutes their own. They see the problem of creating a seed bank for humanity, a doomsday vault holding all of what makes life livable and find an oblique solution. Obviously it makes sense that you bury it in Yellowstone and wait. Who do they choose to watch over this precious final stopgap for humanity? The Foundation’s man unstuck from time, a character invented for this story but who has cast a long shadow over those who have come after him, Thaddeus Xyank.
Thaddeus Xyank is one of the most unique characters in confic. A man unstuck in time haunted by an impossible task he feels obligated to compile. Making reality concrete again because he feels breaking it down in the first place was all his fault. Righting past wrongs. A character more or less anyone could identify with. Someone who knows everything well enough to realize that his knowledge will do absolutely nothing for him. Arrogant, steely-eyed, and with a million lifetimes of regret behind him, Xyank knows what it means to lose everything and will do everything to keep it from happening again. It is fitting then that the article ends with Clef baffled by the conundrum Xyank faces each day. This is as fitting a moment to describe a passing of the torch as any.
Anyway, I've[sic] thought about it, and Xyank is necessarily malleable[...]
1. Xyank might be Rick Sanchez smart
2. He's very rarely rattled
3. He feels no need to explain himself, only to achieve results. (Sometimes results mean explaining. Sometimes it means lying a lot)
4. He has a big problem with guilt.
Xyank dying is of little consequence to his existence. ;)
HammerMaiden wrote SCP-2000 and has been a containment fiction writer for almost a decade. Her contributions to the medium through this article alone are innumerable. In the early modern period of the SCP Wiki she used SCP-2000 to smash through barriers around what sort of stories could be told and how rigidly applied the unwritten rules surrounding things like object classes should be. You can see in the comments that there are people at the time questioning the use of an object class outside the standard Safe/Euclid/Keter dichotomy. As the taboos of restriction broke down, SCP-2000 brought about more opportunities for writing that were available after it was posted than from before it was posted.
The winners of SCP-K000 contests are following this same vein, a thematic continuity present in that which came before and which will come after. In short, it is a direct continuation of the themes pursued in SCP-1000. That of the Foundation being able to be the ones who broke the world, then fix it to die another day. SCP-1000 introduces the idea of the world being totally undone then remade without anyone remembering it, thus SCP-2000 is showing us the practical how. We break, we fix.
SCP-2000 is destroyed in the text of SCP-5000, showing how future iterations of the KCon winner continue interacting with those that came before it. The winner of every KCon contest has been an object the Foundation utilizes to shape the entire world as they see necessary. But there is more tying them all together. Rebirthing intent is obvious as the article itself is a compound designed to restart life on this earth after it had been rendered uninhabitable due to abnormal means. As Henrietta Eisenhower states in the article, “Isn’t one ‘Great War’ hard enough to keep track of?”
The past is a stranger, the present a half-truth, the future completely unknowable. We’re all stumbling forwards, blind in a lost fog and with the potentiality of death ebbing and flowing through time. Life is fragile, it’s important to have a backup. The people are extinct, long live humanity. You never know when the next Y2K moment will be.
There are two eras in confic: Before 2000, and the times of our present. SCP-2000 matters because it broke the old mold on everything to make containment fiction, as we know it now, possible.
WWI... that [...] is fascinating to me. It was the growing pain of the modern era, and yet, somehow, we hadn't yet hit peak evil. Well... maybe that's relative.