Feb 23, 2013

Collaborators at Lendhalen

I'm more than 8,000 words into Chapter Three of Exode and still trying to decide what to call this chapter. I had been leaning towards "The Conspirators at Lendhalen". However, I'm writing the scene for when Parthney and Gwyned first meet at Lendhalen and having trouble convincing myself that "conspirators" is really the right word to apply to folks like Parthney, Gwyned and Leymaygn and their struggle to prepare Earthlings for the shock of first contact. I particularly don't like the usual connotation that implies "conspirators" are trying to accomplish something nefarious.

The word "collaborators" is interesting because it can introduce an ambiguity that is appropriate for Interventionists. It is possible to "collaborate with the enemy" and Chapter Three of Exode highlights the self-doubt of Interventionists: they must wonder if they are really puppets of the Huaoshy. The Interventionists like to imagine that they have been working to thwart the plans of the Huaoshy, but they can never be sure about that. Possibly, just possible, the Interventionists are doing exactly what the alien Huaoshy want them to do. If so, then while striving to be rebels, the Interventionists might unwittingly be collaborating with the mysterious aliens who the Interventionists regard as the enemy.

Glawen and Sessily
In the Cadwal Chronicles by Jack Vance, the protagonist, Glawen, is pitted against a gang of evil conspirators who want to put an end to the nature Conservancy of the planet Cadwal. Glawen is sent off from Cadwal and into the depths of space to pursue a police investigation aimed at revealing the identity of the conspirators. It turns out that Glawen's partner during the investigation, Kirdy, is well motivated to betray Glawen. On the planet Tassadero, Kirdy warns Ordene Zaa that Glawen will soon arrive at the seminary on Pogan's Point. Zaa casually tosses Glawen into a dungeon, having been assured that no rescue party will come looking for him. Glawen later learns that Kirdy is actually the murderer of Glawen's girl friend, Sessily. With "friends" like Kirdy, Glawen does not need enemies. The main advantage that Glawen has is that his enemies can't avoid fighting among themselves.

Similarly, in Exode, the Interventionists are not all members of a single unified organization. There are multiple subgroups of Interventionists that are unable to work together closely in a coordinated fashion. Gwyned is called upon to help train Parthney for a mission to Earth, but Gwyned can't escape the feeling that to help Parthney is tantamount to doing harm to Earth. When Gwyned was on Earth she was not at all impressed by Parthney predecessor,  Deomede. Gwyned has to wonder: maybe Earth would be better off if she went back to Earth as the next Interventionist agent rather than Parthney. The Buld administrators of Lendhalen such as Leymaygn are horrified to learn of Gwyned's plan to take control of the teleportation pad at Lendhalen so that she can send herself back to Earth. Gwyned wants to go back to Earth while avoiding any oversight by the Fru'wu Interventionists, but Leymaygn and the other Buld have been collaborating with the Fru'wu for thousands of years. The Buld fear losing the of help of the technologically advanced Fru'wu, but Gwyned is willing to rely on her own technological proficiencies and she has no compunction about double-crossing the Fru'wu.

Cover art by Boris Vallejo
In the Cadwal Chronicles, there are several factions aligned against Glawen and the Cadwal Conservancy including 1) the "peefers" at Stroma who are a political faction that want's to overthrow the Conservator, and 2) the Yips who want to win free of their squalid existence on the Lutwen Islands and invade the mainland of Cadwal, wild and pristine land that is protected by he Cadwal Conservancy as a nature preserve.

Lucky for Glawen and the Conservationists, the leaders of the peefers and the Yips can't agree on common goals. Dame Clytie (head of the peefer party) and Simonetta (who has made herself queen of the Yips) literally come to blows when they can't agree on a shared plan of action against the Cadwal Conservancy.

Finally, "Smony" decides that Dame Clytie and the peefers are in her way, so she tries to eliminate them in one quick and decisive action: blasting their home, the cliff-side settlement of Stroma into the sea.

Smony's dastardly plan fails to eliminate Dame Clytie who then takes revenge by launching a murderous attack on the Lutwen Islands resulting in the death of most of the Yips.

In Exode, the reader comes to imagine that the only hope for Humanity lies with the rather bumbling efforts of the Interventionists. However, it is hard to have much faith in the Interventionists because it seems like no two Interventionists can agree on anything. While the Interventionists don't start attacking each other, some decide that it might not be wise or safe to keep pushing the Earthlings ever faster towards an uncertain future of rapid technology-powered cultural change.

In the second book of the Cadwal Chronicles, Glawen faces a similar problem. He wants the Cadwal police to take swift action to rescue his father who is being held captive at a secret base on Ecce. However, his supervisor is unwilling to risk precious resources on a dangerous rescue operation into enemy territory.

Glawen must heroically go on the rescue mission by himself with only makeshift resources at his disposal. Glawen is well aware of the danger he faces, so when he boldly goes off to rescue his father we have no difficulty viewing his actions as heroic.

In the case of the Interventionist agents like Parthney in Exode, they are not at all well informed. In fact, Parthney is quite naive about what he is getting himself into. He is intrigued by the opportunity to go to Earth and finally live among other humans, but he can't really bring himself to imagine that going to Earth might bring him personal danger. Gwyned tries to make Parthney so comfortable at Lendhalen that he will never want to go off and face the hardships of being stationed on Earth. Gwyned provides Parthney with a robotic assistant, Robin and she helps Parthney pursue his musical interests.

After Parthney grows too comfortable at Lendhalen something must be done! The Buld have to ratchet up pressure on Parthney to make him fulfill his destiny and go off to Earth. The reader might feel that it is foolish to not let Gwyned go to Earth instead, but she is unable to make progress in her attempts to take control of the teleportation equipment at Lendhalen. Frustrated in her attempts to reverse engineer the advance technology at Lendhalen, Gwyned eventually returns to Klyz and tries to strip away the secrecy that shrouds the Fru'wu. Gwyned is at Klyz when Hana arrives from Earth. Neither of them have good things to say about Parthney and Gwyned helps lead Hana towards the suspicion that Parthney is responsible for the death of Hana's husband.

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