Aug 26, 2014

Stroma Fiord and Stronsi Ranch

Sessily Veder in her butterfly costume,
part of a theatrical performance at
Araminta Station's annual fall festival.
Stroma Fiord and Stronsi Ranch are two of the settings for events in the novel Throy by Jack Vance. I've previously blogged about both Araminta Station and Ecce and Old Earth, the two novels in the Cadwal Saga that precede Throy.

Stroma Fiord
Stroma Fiord is one of the scenic locals on the continent Throy of the planet Cadwal. The soaring cliff face of the fiord was selected as the one place on Cadwal where members of the Naturalist Society could establish and maintain residences on the planet. It was hoped that the harsh conditions would naturally limit the number of settlers, allowing most of Cadwal to remain an unspoiled nature preserve.

That plan worked well and over the course of centuries the population of Stroma never grew very large. During the time of the events told in Throy, only a few hundred families reside at Stroma. However, other unauthorized residents of Cadwal settled on Lutwen Atoll and grew into a distinct subpopulation (the Yips) with an unacceptably large population of over 100,000.

Stronsi Ranch on the planet Rosalia. The childhood
 home of Flitz, where she meets Chilke and hears
his "drunken tales" of adventures among the stars.
In the most horrific part of Throy, two thirds of the residents of Lutwen Atoll perish, victims of a ghastly act of revenge carried out by  "Peefers", the Stroma faction that seeks greater commercialization and exploitation of Cadwal's riches. The Peefers are crazy for revenge after the settlement at Stroma is blasted into oblivion by the wicked Simonetta. Simonetta Clattuc is a vengeful outcast from Naturalist's administrative depot at Araminta Station. Simonetta has managed to infiltrate and take command of the Yip community with the hope of using their vast numbers to overwhelm the Araminta Station police force and achieve a triumphant and vengeful return to her childhood home.

Stronsi Ranch
Stronsi Ranch is far away from Cadwal on the planet Rosalia. Rosalia is home to native creatures including the elusive wind-waifs, the mysterious tree-waifs, the dangerous water-waifs and a small population of human colonists. The once peaceful Stronsi Ranch becomes caught up in the ongoing struggle between the loyal Conservationists and the "Peefers", the dissident faction that is fighting for control of Cadwal and wishes to allow more commercial development of the planet and greater exploitation of Cadwal's natural resources.

The main character of the Cadwal Saga is Glawen Clattuc and readers follow the story of his coming of age on Cadwal where he trains as a member of the Cadwal police force. In Throy, Glawen ends up pursuing an investigative mission that takes him to several planets including Rosalia. One goal of this investigation is to find his clan member, Namour Clattuc, who is a fugitive from Cadwal justice.

During his mission to Rosalia, Glawen partners with the versatile Eustice Chilke. Chilke, like many of Vance's key characters, is portrayed a resourceful man who seems to often be in the right place at the right time. For example, without even being aware of the fact, in a strange quirk of fate, Chilke inherited title to the world Cadwal. However, without Chilke even knowing what was going on, Glawen relieves Chilke of his inherited responsibility for the planet Cadwal by replacing the old Naturalist Society (that had for centuries controlled Cadwal) with a new Cadwal Conservancy. Is Chilke then left empty handed?  Of course not.

Fortunatus spaceyacht
When Glawen and Chilke return to Cadwal, their commanding officer, Bodwyn Wook, reviews the high points of their mission. In one of the many humorous scenes in Throy, the two operatives try to explain how they managed to appropriate a large amount of money from the bank accounts of their enemies, the Peefers, while they were on the planet Soumi. As part of those financial transactions, Glawen and Chilke also gained title to a luxurious and expensive Fortunatus spaceyacht, a prize that Bodwyn Wook insists is now the property of the Cadwal Conservancy. Bodwyn then has another question for Glawen and Chilke: during their time on Rosalia did they gain some other "advantage or perquisite"? Chilke admits that he has developed a close friendship with Felitzia Stronsi, the owner of Stronsi ranch.

Chilke's romance with "Flitz" (as Felitzia prefers to be known) provides an amusing counterpoint to the evil that is visited upon Stronsi Ranch by Namour Clattuc. Namour slyly arranges for Felitzia's guardian and mentor, Lewyn Barduys to be called away from the Stronsi family residence. Barduys is ambushed by Namour, shot and left for dead at the old Bainsey Castle site. Glawen and Chilke heroically rescue Barduys by fighting off a swarm of aggressive water-waifs. Barduys and Glawen are severely injured. During their recuperation at Stronsi Ranch, Chilke, who suffered lesser injuries, is able to pursue a romantic relationship with Flitz.

In the end, Chilke and Flitz take the Fortunatus spaceyacht and go off on their own adventures as vagabonds wandering among the stars. Bodwyn Wook's objections are muted because Barduys makes available to him a Clayhacker spaceyacht that was confiscated from the defeated Peefers. Bodwyn Wook announces his intention to make use of the Clayhacker spaceyacht for a visit to Old Earth.

Renee Robbins
I've previously commented on the way that Vance weaves mention of "paranormal" abilities into his stories. Is it just by random chance that Chilke and Flitz are brought together? The planet Cadwal, when facing despoilment by the Peefers, reaches out for help to Rosalia in order to attract the attention of Barduys. Rosalia provides a solution to Cadwal's Peefer problem, but does Rosalia get anything in return?

The entire Stronsi clan, with the exception of Flitz, was wiped out by the wind-driven waves of a terrible storm that destroyed Bainsey Castle while the Stronsis were visiting their coastal retreat. Why was Flitz saved? How is it that Barduys, an engineer visiting Rosalia, became the guardian of Flitz?

"Born to Multiply" by Renee Robbins
Vance describes the mysterious establishment of a relationship between Flitz and Barduys at the recently destroyed Bainsey Castle. After the bodies of the Stronsi clan members are flown away by ambulance from the Castle ruins, Barduys becomes aware of a compulsion to return to the site of the disaster:

"I became uneasy. I tried to reason with myself, but in the end I flew back alone. I went close to the ruins and stood looking about. I thought I heard a cry, very weak and thin. It was a little girl who had been trapped beneath the stones." This strange and seemingly paranormal sensitivity displayed by Barduys is what allowed Flitz to survive. With no other family, she is raised by Barduys, firmly linking him from that day onward to both Stronsi Ranch and the planet Rosalia.

Clattuc House, Araminta Station
Was it only by a quirk of fate that Simonetta departed from Araminta Station on Cadwal and ended up on the planet Rosalia, a world where Namour could experiment with the Yips as indentured laborers? Ultimately, Barduys adopts the idea of transporting all the Yips from Cadwal to Rosalia and using them to staff a network of tourist resorts, including one at the site of old Bainsey Castle. In the end, a long series of seemingly lucky and miraculous events save the Cadwal Conservancy and those Yips who survive the horrific Peefer attack on Lutwen Atoll find a new home on Rosalia under the benign guidance of Barduys.

There are time travel machines and other advanced technologies in the Exode Trilogy that give some of the characters seemingly magical powers. I've previously commented on the power of "memory nanites" to move information from one mind to another. In my previous blog post I commented on the role that memory nanites have played in allowing me to begin telling the secret history of Humanity.

I have fun speculating about mysterious events that Jack Vance described as arising from paranormal processes: maybe they were actually caused by advanced alien technology. And if I can speculate about how and why Chilke and Flitz came to play their roles in saving the Cadwal Conservancy and bringing Yips to Rosalia, then I should also be willing to explore the reasons for my own involvement in the Exode Trilogy.

Were Adão Fersoni, Hana and I all just random Earthlings who happened to be in the right place at the right time to interact with people like Peter and Marta and become involved, just by chance, in telling the secret history of Humanity? Or,  alternatively, were we selected?

In Hana's case, Peter seemed certain that he could not impregnate Earth girls. Was Hana more than just a typical Earthling? Was Adão more than just a random shipwreck survivor? Was he, perhaps, purposefully brought into the Hierion Domain in order to father Ivory?

Opportunity from Adversity
I'm not happy at the prospect of having been selected to be "the Editor" of the Exode story because I happen to have a brain that can efficiently interact with nanites.  I suspect that this high susceptibility to the influence of nanites has made it possible for Trysta and others to treat me (and Hana and Adão as well?) like a puppet and guide the course of my life. However, what if there is a positive side to this "affliction"? Is it possible that my brain can access information located within the Sedronic Domain?

Humans have the innate ability to speak, read and write but these skills only develop in a suitable environment. Similarly, Ivory's clone sister Angela was carefully nurtured under conditions that allowed her to develop her innate ability to access the Sedronic Domain. Is it possible that I could discover and create conditions that would allow me to follow in Angela's footsteps?

I've previously speculated that Peter might still be on Earth. Now that I've lost contact with Ivory and access to Angela's understanding of the Sedronic Domain, I'm forced to wonder if it might be possible to contact Peter and obtain his help. Given his role in making it possible for Angela to access information about other Realities, what are the chances that Peter could help me achieve the same sort of access to the Sedronic Domain?

Related Reading: my brain

Throy, published by Tor, 1992

My copy of Throy has a blurb inside the front cover that includes this: "...a conspiracy of humans and aliens to wrest control of their world away, and open it to full commercial use." Indeed, there is mention of aliens in Throy. As describe above on this webpage, the planet Rosalia is home to indigenous creatures called "waifs" who use their primitive spears to inject poison into the bodies of Glawen and Chilke. Similarly, Cadwal is home to its own humanoid natives, however they seem strangely oblivious to the human colonists who treat places like Mad Mountain on Cadwal as tourist destinations. So, who are the aliens that conspire to open Cadwal to commercial exploitation? My best guess is that Tor's blurb writer was referring to the Yips. However, the Yips are humans. Confusion might have been generated by the fact that the Yips on Cadwal are not inter-fertile with the other human residents of the planet. However, Vance explains that this is due to the diet of the Yips.

Still and yet, I like the idea that unseen alien influences are at work guiding the human events described by Vance in the Cadwal Saga. Why were the Peefers interested in putting an end to the banjee battles at Mad Mountain? The banjees of Cadwal are native humanoid creatures who live in migratory tribes. As sophisticated tool makers, they craft battle implements: lances, axes, spikes and battle armor. If two different tribes meet where their migration routes cross then battle ensues. The Peefers speak of moral outrage over the practice using the bloody battles as a way to attract tourist dollars to Cadwal when they try to justify their plan to intervene and prevent the banjee battles.

Sessily in telepathic contact
with a Muldoon tangle-top
The staunch Naturalists, who strictly enforce a non-interference hands-off policy with respect to the native life of Cadwal, suspect that the Peefers only selected the dramatic battles as their best chance of rousing emotions and setting a precedent for taming the natural environment and unruly biosphere of the planet. It is fun to imagine that the indigenous life of Cadwal can sense the threat posed by meddling humans and act to protect itself.

Early in Amaminta Station, Sessily Veder suggests that the tangle-tops, another native lifeform of Cadwal, have telepathic powers. Vance describes two scenes in which Glawen experiences a telepathic sensation arising and originating from a distant place. I like to imagine that the ancient natives of Cadwal have access to a kind of technology-assisted telepathy that they can share with select humans who want to protect the Cadwal Conservancy and not allow Peefer interference with the Cadwal environment.

The blurb on the back cover of Throy says, "A new extremist faction seeks to restore Cadwal to a pristine condition, and will allow no concerns for life or property to stop them." Here, I suppose that Tor's blurb writer is referring to Glawen and other members of the Cadwal Conservancy. However, Vance makes clear that the Cadwal Conservancy does NOT aim to return Cadwal to a an absoltely "pristine condition". Yes, they want to remove the Yips from Lutwen Atoll. Yes, so as not to have a refuge on Cadwal for hypocritical Peefers, the Cadwal Conservancy starts an evacuation of Stroma. The residents of Stroma are invited to join the new Cadwal Conservancy and live at Araminta Station, which is expanded in size to accommodate the influx of new residents.

Opal Springs Lodge on Cadwal
Under the Cadwal Conservancy, in addition to Araminta Station, other select sites of Cadwal will continue to be used by humans. Places like Mad Mountain Lodge and Opal Springs Lodge serve as long-developed and lucrative tourist destinations, funds from which are used to support the administrative staff of Araminta Station. The Cadwal Conservancy will continue the centuries-old practice established by the former Naturalist Society to use ecotourism as a source of funding for bureau B, the Cadwal police force that protects Cadwal from interlopers who would otherwise plunder the riches of Cadwal. The fine wines produced at Araminta Station and the tourist trade are important sources of income and represent a necessary limited commercial exploitation of the planet that has long financially supported administration of the planet as a nature conservancy.

August 28, 2014
Jack Vance was born August 28, 1916. This blog post is a tribute to Vance and a celebration of his 98th year. He still lives on in his amazing writing and the hearts of his readers.
Also: May tribute posts for Jack Vance
August 2015. Howard Treesong: genetic engineering in the Maunish district on the planet Moudervelt.
August 2017 Vance Tribute

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