Jan 20, 2013

Time Warp

The events in Chapter One of Exode all take place within a 24 hour period, the day when Parthney abandons his life on the world where he was born, Hemmal. Chapter Two describes Parthney's journey from Hemmal to the nearby planet Oib, a trip that only takes a couple of days. Counted in Earth time, Parthney is 18 years old when he leaves Hemmal.

Chapter Three of Exode encompasses four years of Parthney's life, the years during which he is trained for his mission to Earth. Jack Vance's novel Araminta Station starts with a similar chronology. The main character, Glawen, is 16 years old at the start of the story. The first two chapters (147 pages) describe Araminta Station on the planet Cadwal as well as Glawen's budding romance with Sessily Veder and her mysterious disappearance. The first six pages of Chapter III outline the next three years of Glawen's life: time spent by Glawen in his studies at the Araminta Station Lyceum and in training as a cadet in the local police force.

Gwyned Iwedon
As is the case for the first section of Chapter III in Araminta Station, the first pages of Chapter Three in Exode must mesh with the events that brought the end of the "innocent years" of the protagonist's early life. Parthney arrives at Lendhalen, the secret base of the Buld revolutionaries who have liberated themselves from their pek masters. Most of the elements of Pathney's past life begin to fade away, including his rather bumbling romantic adventures with Reginal, Muchlo, and Pla'va. At Lendhalen, Leymaygn and Gwyned teach Parthney to read and write and also how to use musical notation. Parthney is fascinated by the musical instruments of Earth, but repulsed by the more dreary aspects of life on Earth: hunger, disease, crime and war.

After Parthney has lived for three years at Lendhalen he is seriously considering the possibility of living out the rest of his life there and never going to Earth. The co-directors of Lendhalen, Pla'mak and Pla'kao, must reveal more than they would like to Parthney about the dangers facing the people of Earth. It is 1970, Earth is struggling with an exploding population, pollution, and a nuclear arms race.

For seven million years the Overseers have guided the course of primate evolution on Earth. The people of Earth have never known that alien visitors arrived on Earth long ago, but now a Buld spaceship is nearing Earth after a 15,000 year long journey from the Galactic Core. Pla'mak and Pla'kao inform Parthney that if the Buld make contact with the Earthlings then the Overseers might abandon their management of Earth. Parthney is led to wonder: could humanity survive on its own or might human civilization self-destruct, as happened to the alien Fru'wu? By explaining that events on Earth are reaching a critical juncture Pla'mak and Pla'kao manage to rekindle Parthney's desire to go to Earth.

At the end of Chapter Three, Parthney must say goodby to Gwyned. He likes the idea she return with him to Earth where they could work together as Interventionist agents, but she is left behind at Lendhalen, still struggling to make sense of the alien technology that has been given to the Buld. Gwyned makes Parthney promise that if he ever has the chance to liberate someone like herself from Earth he will do so, even if he would personally prefer to do otherwise. She offers her opinion, "Earth is giant mistake, a world of the owe it to yourself, for the sake of your own sanity, to aid anyone who wants to get out."

So Chapter Three must have two lengthy time warps, one jumping over most of Pathney's first three years at Lendhalen and another over his final phase of training. Parthney matures dramatically and goes through many changes during his years living at Lendhalen. The care-free days of his youth are put behind him and he leaves for Earth with many doubts and great apprehension, having been informed that he has a good chance of being recognized and captured by Overseers soon after his arrival on Earth. So great is that risk that he is not even told how he will reach Earth so that he cannot reveal that secret if he is identified as an Interventionist agent and captured.

The Exode poster, above, is having some fun with an old James Bond poster (image to the right). Since Parthney arrives on Earth from Oib (so he thinks; he never knows the true location of the Lendhalen training base) I put in an image of Earth. The woman at the computer terminal is meant to be Hana. Like Gwyned, Hana is a physicist. Parthney uses the name "Henry Montpellier" during some of his time on Earth, in particular, at the time when he reveals his true identity to Hana and then teleports her away from Earth.

In the original poster, I suppose that the woman behind Bond is meant to be Daniela Bianchi, in the role of a soviet intelligence agent who is used to lure Bond into a trap. In Exode, Parthney must duel with an Overseer who lives on Earth using the name Belinda Tement. Belinda's search for the source of new gene combinations that have been appearing on Earth leads her to Hana's son. Belinda befriends Hana and ultimately captures Parthney, taking him to the Observer Base on the Moon. The woman standing in the background beside Parthney is meant to be Overseer Tement.

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