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Aug 22, 2015

Tall Tales

Howard Treesong
In The Book of Dreams by Jack Vance, Demon Prince Howard Treesong hails from a placid backwater world of the Oikumene, the planet Moudervelt. The story is set some 1400 years in our future, during an era when the humans of Earth have spread out into surrounding regions of the galaxy, populating many scattered worlds like Moudervelt.

A Feek, a newly evolved
human variant from the
world New Concept
After arriving on far planets and then often being cut-off from contact with the rest of Humanity, the residents of worlds like Moudervelt can show strong "founder effects" and evolutionary adaptation to the new environment of their adopted world. An example from The Book of Dreams is provided by the Feeks from New Concept, Marhab Six. The human settlers of New Concept were devoted vegetarians and they evolved into four-footed grazers. In the case of Moudervelt, the planet was subdivided into 1562 independent "principalities", each with its own cultural specializations and ample opportunity for directed evolution of the residents. We must ask: what kind of strange alien forces drove the rapid evolution of human variants like the Feeks?

Extant magazine
Tall Humans
Howard Treesong was born and raised in the Maunish district on the planet Moudervelt, which served as a kind of laboratory for the study of human biology. Under the direction of non-human space aliens, the population of Maunish was taken through a kind of selective breading program. A product of alien experiment in human genetics, Treesong grew up on a farm near the village of Gladbetook. When Kirth Gersen arrives in Gladbetook, searching for clues to Treesong's origins, the first person he meets is a seven-foot-tall innkeeper.

Gersen then meets an elderly woman who was once Treesong's school teacher. She informs Gersen that Gladbetook was formerly a hotbed of "fundamentalists" (such as Runel Fluter the Didram) who took it upon themselves to sterilize those Maunish residents who were unworthy of the privilege of reproducing. The fundies enforced a program of selective breeding in which "brother married sister".

The Book of Dreams
Arriving at Treesong's childhood home, Gersen meets Treesong's father and mother, both described as tall and still adherents of the old fundamentalist beliefs. Returning to the village for lunch, Gersen is served his meal by a tall waiter. After lunch, Gersen visits the local school and meets the music instructor who once taught Treesong to play the violin: Valdemar Kutte, who is also described as tall. Finally, arriving for his school reunion, Treesong is seen close-up and in person by Gersen for an extended period of time. Of course, like his parents, Treesong is also a tall man.

Mirl and Maud ver Ahe
Treesong proceeds to entertain his old school chums by playing the fiddle and also by encouraging Professor Kutte to play "drunken squirrel style", a musical innovation pioneered by Treesong back in his schoolboy days. Treesong invites Mirl and Maud ver Ahe (daughters of his old school acquaintance Suby ver Ahe) to join him on a long cruise through the outer worlds of the Oikumene.

If Treesong sounds like a swell chap and the "life of the party" then you should reserve judgement until you read The Book of Dreams. By the time of his 25th high school reunion, Treesong has become the "preeminent criminal of the Oikumene and Beyond". His only reason for attending the school reunion is to punish and publicly humiliate those who were mean to him when he was a child. Treesong's punishments include tattooing his old foes with a large purple F for having called him by the disrespectful nickname "Fimfle".

The Sedronite evolutionary tree.
Gersen, disguised as a member of Kutte's Grand Solon Orchestra, takes advantage of Treesong's rare public appearance at the school reunion and shoots him, unfortunately, "not to serious effect".

After Gersen's attempt to kill Treesong, the festivities of the school reunion came to a quick end. Gersen was lucky to escape from Treesong's squad of ruthless bodyguards.

As "reported" in Extant magazine, Treesong expressed outrage that such a crass act of violence could take place: "He hopes to return to the next reunion, providing that it could be terminated less abruptly, inasmuch as he had staged only a few of his ingenious frivolities".

Tall Aliens
The tryp'At are a human variant
who are taller than average Earthlings.
Image source.
I've previously described the time and place when "the Editor" first met Ivory Fersoni and I mentioned the fact that she was tall. It is not clear that I have ever seen Ivory's true physical form. I've previously blogged about my speculations concerning her alien genes and what she might have looked like had her body never been altered and sculpted by the hard-working developmental control nanites that guided her growth to adulthood.

Ivory's body form.
Being tall myself, I was not particularly startled by Ivory's height: I'd say she was about 6' 4". Had my mind been clear when she first revealed herself to me, I would have taken note of her height, but she was trying to hide "in plain sight" and blend into her surroundings. At well over six feet, her effort to not be noticed was rather comical, but I'm sure that my thoughts were being guided by the nanites that resided inside my brain circuitry and my nanorobotic endosymbiont did not allow me to think rationally about Ivory's unusual height and what it might suggest about her alien genetic origins.
Marta

The image to the left attempts to illustrate the type of body that was produced by Ivory's genes working in tandem with her developmental control nanites. During her time on Earth, Ivory could pass as human, but her alien genes were not entirely suppressed.

Ivory's mother, Marta, was also tall and slim, with her body form forced to conform to human standards by developmental control nanites. Ivory's grandmother, Lili, grew up in the Galactic Core and was never exposed to developmental control nanites. However, while on Earth she used nanite implants to alter her physical features and disguise herself as a human. By all accounts, she was also fairly tall compared to Earth human averages for women, but not exceptionally tall. I have never heard that the Kac'hin are unusually tall, possibly just on the high side of the Earth human average.

Ekcol male and
Asterothrope female
Asterothropes
Unfortunately, we don't have good information about the true physical form of aliens like the Asterothropes. By all accounts the Asterothrope females were quite tall and they had long thin fingers.

Deomede, Trysta and Lili as sources of alien genes.
Ivory inherited a combination of Asterothrope and Ek'col genes that account for her physical features.

According to Gohrlay, the Asterothropes were crafted as a hybrid type of humanoid that combined both Early Human genes and genes from an alien humanoid species called the O'typ. As a species that was derived from the aquatic Nereids, the O'typ has physical features that reflected selection for life in an ocean environment, including a long and streamlined body plan.

Preland
The O'typ never contended with the stresses of a natural planetary environment. According to Gohrlay, the O'typ were designed as an artificially constructed, space-faring primate variant. When R. Gohrlay tried to spread humans from Earth to other planets, she crafted the Asterothropes and drew heavily on O'typ design features.

Average heights for Ek'col males and Asterothrope females are about seven feet. At the other extreme, hermaphroditic Sedronites tend to be relatively short. The image to the left compares a typical human to a elf-like Preland hermaphrodite. In the original pek plan for Earth, Prelands were to have inherited the planet and we humans would have become extinct. Later, with the original pek plans for Earth destroyed by R. Gohrlay, the so-called "Giant Prelands" were designed and crafted by the pek along with the Ek'col, preserving some Preland features in human variants with taller body plans.

Earth's Reality Chain
According to Gohrlay, the analogue of Jack Vance who lived in the Asimov Reality became a time traveler. He was taken into the future of the Asimov Reality, to a time long after Earth was devastated by nuclear war. That Vance analogue then had a second, artificial life as the mentor of the twins John and Jack Vance in the Ekcolir Reality.

In fact, at an early stage in the writing career of John Vance, a swap was achieved by which the artificial lifeform that carried memories from the time traveling Vance of the Asimov Reality took the place of John Vance on Earth. John Vance of the Ekcolir Reality was, in turn, prepared for his second life in the Buld Reality. During that preparation, John became aware of the novels that were being written by the artificial lifeform that had taken his place on Earth. Those stories told the "future history" of Humanity in the Asimov Reality and ultimately influence the science fiction of Jack Vance in the Buld Reality, the universe as we know it.

The End of Eternity
According to Gohrlay, Isaac Asimov was used to provide we Earthlings with a written account of Earth's future in both the Malansohn Reality (as told in The End of Eternity) and after the colonization of the galaxy by humans that took place in the Foundation Reality. Similarly, Vance's stories provide us with an account of how humans spread out through the galaxy in the Asimov Reality.

Asimov's Foundation saga
During the Foundation and Asimov Realities, Earth was in the grip of the Time War between Gohrlay and Grean. R. Gohrlay was trying to derail the pek plan to hand Earth over to the Prelands and make sure that humans would not be driven to extinction. Humans were very homogeneous in the Foundation Reality. In contrast, in the far future of the Asimov Reality, many human variants were designed and crafted.

The Asterothropes can be traced back to the Malansohn Reality and the Kac'hin originated in the Foundation Reality, but the ry'A had a later origin and were an innovation of the Asimov Reality. According to Gohrlay, the ry'A were tasked with retaining certain "essential" features of the Prelands while crafting the Ek'col. The original pek-designed Prelands were well-suited for existing on Earth as technologically advanced primates who would not harm Earth's ecosystem. In the Asimov Reality, the Ek'col were crafted as a human variant that would make it possible to end the Time War.

Written in the Ekcolir Reality (source)
In the Asimov Reality, the ry'A played an endless cat-and-mouse game with R. Gohrlay's tribe of positronic robots. Out of that "game" came the Ek'col as a new type of Sedronite that could be used to channel Trysta's Aterothrope genes back into the human gene pool. According to Gohrlay, the "Treesong Lineage" contributed useful gene combinations that were used in creating the Ek'col.

Howard Treesong's criminal career was the result of a chance event by which a malfunctioning nanorobotic endosymbiont took advantage of the unique gene pattern of the Treesong Lineage to gain access to the Hierion Domain. During the Asimov Reality, Gohrlay deployed her positronic robots so as to contain the damage from problems like the "Treesong Incident". In the stories that were written by the analogs of Vance (including the novels of the Aquarius Trilogy), Gohrlay's secret agents became inspiration for story elements such the teams of secret agents who challenged the forces of "Zodiac Control".

Next: The Aquarius connection to Eridu and Enki (Ekcolir).

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