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Mar 29, 2014

New Worlds

One of the pleasures to be had while reading the science fiction novels of Jack Vance is the ease with which he introduces readers to new worlds. One of my favorite examples is New Concept, Marhab Six, which Vance says is "toward the middle reaches of Aries".

The Book of Dreams is set some 1500 years into the space age, a time when humans have mastered the intersplit, technology for faster than light travel that allows people to spread outward to the stars from Earth. Vance casually introduces us to the "New Concept" that heralded the founding of human settlements on Marhab Six. The "new concept" was a form of strict vegetarianism. Over the course of centuries the settlers adapted to the planet and became grazers who walk on four legs! These odd quadrupedal humans abandoned the trappings of civilization and came to be called the Feeks.

A Feek of New Concept
Kirth Gersen has come to New Concept in order to interview Ailett Mayneth, who is an employee of Kirth's magazine, Cosmopolis. While having lunch with Mayneth and discussing Demon Prince Alan Treesong, Gersen meets Mayneth's servant, a strange girl named Tiptoe. She is one of the Feeks who has been trained to walk on two legs.

As a biologist I don't take Vance's Feeks very seriously, no more so than I "buy into" many of Vance's technological and "future science" ideas. Vance puts fun and entertainment ahead of scientific plausibility, which is as it should be in science fiction. Rather than find a trivial way to provide Gersen with a small bit of information about his adversary, Demon Prince Treesong, Vance takes the time to share Marhab Six and the Feeks with us.


Lili
Searching for New Worlds
Unfortunately, my natural tendency as a writer is to keep making use of the same planets over and over again for multiple purposes. However, in my previous blog post I finally decided to include a new planet in the Exode Trilogy, Taivasila, a world which does not orbit a star.

I previously imagined Lili as a female Kac'hin who lived on the planet Tar'tron until she was brought to Earth by Grean. I originally imagined Lili as one of the few females on Tar'tron, and as such Lili could never be very happy living there.

Kach
Rather than condemn Lili and the other female Kac'hin to a miserable life on Tar'tron, I'm now imagining a Kac'hin colony on the rogue planet Taivasila. The hermaphroditic Kac'hin of Tar'tron are kept on a short leash by the pek, but female Kac'hin are allowed a much greater amount of freedom: Taivasila is just the place for them.

The Kac'hin are a human variant that was designed by the pek for one main purpose: to make it possible to insert Asterothrope gene combinations into the population of Earth. However, the hermaphroditic Kac'hin grew into a role as all-purpose tools for working at any tricky jobs the pek found at the awkward social border between humans and the Huaoshy.
Kac'hin female

Kach was the one female Kac'hin who was designated as the means by which Trysta's Asterothrope gene combinations would be passed on into the human gene pool. However, Lili eventually provided a "backup" channel for inserting some Asterothrope genes into the population of Earth. Kach was developmentally modified to have a nearly normal human appearance. While on Earth, Lili could use her swarms of endosymbiotic femtoscale devices to achieve the required shape-shifting that made her appear like an Earth human.

Mirror Image
Comments at MathFiction
One of the first science fiction novels I ever read was The Last Starship from Earth by John Boyd. Later, I read Asimov's The End of Eternity. It would be interesting to know the extent to which Boyd was influenced by having previously read Asimov's time travel story.

In both The End of Eternity and The Last Starship from Earth a sneaky female agent must make her male target fall in love. Once their guys are putty in the hands of Noÿs and Helix, the boys are sent back in time to change history. Noÿs Lambent is from the Hidden Centuries, some 10,000,000 years in our future. Helix is from Hell. Both Noÿs and Helix have no trouble getting their nerdy mark to fall in love with them.

The people of Earth have been duped into thinking that the planet Hell is a frozen wasteland where criminals are exiled. In reality, Hell is a nice place to live and the really cool folks from Earth (who don't fit into Earth's repressive society) are lucky enough to end up in Hell. Hell becomes a base of operations for developing time travel technology and changing the history of Earth so as to create the world as we know it.

Taivasila
In the Exode Trilogy, Taivasila is the planet for misfits and boat rockers. Both Gohrlay and Lili end up on Taivasila. I'm imagining to society on Taivasila as being quite different from that of Hemmal, a world carefully controlled by the pek.

The Prelands of Hemmal exist in a kind of theocracy. The Prelands have been well crafted by the pek to believe that they have been created. The Prelands expect that their descendants will eventually transcend their physical form and merge with their Creators in the Sedronic Domain.

The Prelands live in harmony with the sculpted geography of Hemmal while waiting to escape from their material bodies. In contrast, the Kac'hin of Taivasila strive to make their world into a paradise that is perfectly suited to the needs of female Kac'hin.

Taivasila seen from space.
When Gohrlay is taken away from Earth, she first visits Tar'tron, but it is quickly realized that she might be happier on Taivasila. The pek teleport the cognitive essence of Gohrlay from Tar'tron to Taivasila, instantiating the mind of Gohrlay in a body that is composed of femptoscale devices. This artificial life version of Gohrlay is able to take on any physical form. The original biological Gohrlay is "archived" by the pek and only much later does she live out the rest of her life as a biological organism.
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Next blog post: Taivasila as a "sister planet" for the world Imfulri.

August 2014. I decided to add another complication to the life history of Lili; she was born on a planet of the galactic core that is sometimes called "Rain World".

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