And it has been open since 1986 at least…
For anyone who's read Jack Chalker's “Well of Souls” novels, you'll understand what I mean when you see the following:
For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, go read the series, it's pretty good.
Chalker was sort of an unsung visionary, and a lot of what he wrote has shown up in countless SciFi movies and TV shows – though he never saw a penny for any of it. Everything I write here, regardless of how much it sounds like “Stargate”, preceeds the movie by some 20 years… He also wrote a series of novels called “The Wonderland Gambit” which reads like a much deeper version of “The Matrix”, but pre-dates the movies by about 10 years.
Essentially in Chalker's “Wellworld” novels there was a vast and ancient alien race, the “Markovians”, who basically evolved to the highest point possible in this universe, but decided that since they had not achieved a zen-like oneness with everything, that they'd obviously made a wrong turn somewhere in their evolution…
So they built a planet-sized computer capable of controlling the very mathematical functions that define “reality”, and set about an experiment to determine if there was another evolutionary path that would reach the pinnacle of existence…
These “Markovians” were nutty about the number six and tended to build everything hexagonally, and left these hexagonal transporter 'gates', which they used to get around, all over the universe.
Well, the “Well of Souls” was the Markovian final experiment; it's a world of hundreds of hexagonal “labs” which contain topographical, atmospheric, and technological limitations found on various alien worlds. The Markovians designed hundreds of life forms to cope with these environments, then ran themselves through their computer to seed these races. The computer altered the math for the Markovians who entered it and instantly transformed them into the various seed races, then several generations later transported these races onto seed worlds to start the Universe over again, leaving just enough 'natives' in the lab spaces to keep the experiment running should the transplanted race fail for some reason outside of their own doing.
And it's still running, billions of years later, and basically determines the laws of this universe we live in. it also tends to suck up random people who get too close to these gates and plops them, according to some program, into one of the lab spaces as some alien race.
Oh, and there's still one Markovian running around, the janitor if you will, and he's been hanging out on Earth pretty much forever – immortal and unchanging – but occasionally he has to go fix the big computer before something bad happens and the lights go out on reality as we know it. He goes by the name Nathan Brazil, and if you ever encounter him, look out, because all manner of weirdness will soon follow. 🙂