Dec 24, 2015

Pheni of Yrinna

Cursar Pakken: starmenter investigation
aboard Lord Gensifer's yacht.
click image to enlarge
At the start of December, I threw off the usual restraints and allowed myself to begin exploring a fan-fiction sequel to one of my favorite books, Trullion, by Jack Vance.

65% of the way through Trullion, space pirates have just carried out a raid on Welgen, interrupting a hassade game to kidnap 300 members of the wealthy aristocratic families of Jolany Prefecture. At this point in the story, the protagonist has managed to save the two beautiful sheirls, helping them escape from the hussade stadium and avoid being captured by the pirates.

Space Pirates
Vance wrote three novels that are set in Alastor Clustor. Only in the first of these three books (Trullion) do space pirates play an important role in the story.

Cover art by Hans Wessolowski.
As a boy, Vance read a large amount of fiction. During those years, science fiction was just being born as a new literary genre and it was inevitable that some early science fiction stories would be written about "space pirates". Given Vance's interest in the sea, it is no surprise that he included space pirates in some of his own stories.

Cover art by Edmund Emshwiller.
Trullion was published 10 years after The Star King. In the backstory for the Demon Princes novels, Kirth Gersen's home and family were destroyed by marauding space pirates. Gersen devotes his life to hunting down and murdering the five pirate captains who carried out the raid on Mt. Pleasant, Gersen's childhood home.

In Trullion, Vance introduces us to a constellation of space pirates (known in Alastor Cluster as "starmenters"): Sagmondo Bandolio, Alanzo Dirrig (known as "Dirrig the Skull-maker") and Bela Gazzardo. As was the case for Gersen, space pirates shape the entire structure of Glinnes Hulden's life. As the protagonist of Trullion, Glinnes is both cursed and blessed by the starmenter raids that plague the planet Trullion. By the end of Trullion, Glinnes has taken possession of 30 million ozols worth of ransom money, originally intended for Bandolio.

Cover by David Mattingly.
Hussade Sheirls
For Trullion, Vance invented the sport of hussade. Glinnes Hulden grows up as an avid player of hussade. We learn that he was born into a family that is known for producing hussade players. Hussade is popular on many planets of Alastor Cluster and each world has its own local rules for the game. On Trullion, hussade players are men, but each team fights to protect the honor of a woman, the sheirl, who stands on the field during the game.

In Trullion, Duissane Drosset becomes sheirl for Glinnes' hussade team. At the end of Trullion, Vance depicts Duissane and Glinnes as walking off together along a beach. Both Duissane and Glinnes return in the sequel.

The League of Yrinna
For my fan-fiction sequel to Trullion, I wanted to explore what might happen to Glinnes after the end of Vance's story. Of course, I simply had to include space pirates and hussade in the sequel.

human breeding projects
"The League of Yrinna" has two meanings in the sequel. First, there is a professional Hussade League on the planet of Yrinna. Glinnes becomes involved in a Whelm investigation of starmenters that leads him to Yrinna. To provide cover for his investigation, Glinnes ends up playing hussade on Yrinna.

"The League of Yrinna" is also an organization of starmenters. Glinnes works to reveal the secrets of The League of Yrinna and in so doing, he learns some of the dark, secret history of his own family.

The rules for playing hussade are significantly different on Yrinna compared to Trullion. The professional Hussade League of Yrinna had its "major league" and a "minor league". In the minor league, both men and women can be position players on the teams. Each team has a sheirl, who can be male or female, but usually the sheirl is a woman. On Yrinna, the sheirl does not simply stand on the field awaiting capture, but rather dresses in the team uniform and is excluded from the team's "citadel". In fact, the game ends in defeat if the sheirl is forced to retreat to the citadel.

interior illustration by Paul Orban
In the major league, each hussade team fields three female players: the sheirl and two "guards". They must be great athletes since they are required to participate in the game play and move about on the hussade field. Another important difference in the game is that there is no water under the runways of the playing field. Instead, any player who is knocked off of the runways will free fall down into one of the two "air traps" below the field where blowing air first slows the player's fall then automatically moves the fallen player back up to the team's citadel, thus allowing for a delayed return to play.

If the sheirl falls, she controls her own fate by selecting which team's citadel she is returned to. Returning to her own team's citadel is surrender: her team automatically loses the round. If she chooses to fight on, then a fallen sheirl returns to the field by way of the opposing team's citadel, which is dangerous, but it can occasionally result in victory.

Pheni of Yrinna
In The League of Yrinna, Duissane also ends up on a hussade team, playing according to the rules of planet Yrinna. The special features of hussade on Yrinna can be traced back to the Pharazen, an extinct indigenous species of Alastor Cluster. Long ago, the Pharazen created an artificial life form known as the Phari. On Yrinna, the Phari became endosymbionts for a species of flying animals, who by the time when humans arrive, have evolved into what the human colonizers call the Pheni.

in the Ekcolir Reality
Original cover art by Milton Rosenblatt
Falling under the influence of the Phari and the Pheni, the first humans on Yrinna (who were space pirates) became involved in a human breeding project. The goal of that project was to create a type of human that could telepathically communicate with the Pheni. Through his investigations on Yrinna and with the help of Duissane (who has some natural ability to use the Bimanoid Interface), Glinnes makes contact with the Pheni and he learns the secrets of his own past.

Related Reading
Original cover by Miller
In 1954 Pohl Anderson published a short story called "The Chapter Ends". Set about 60,000 years in our future, humans have colonized the Galactic Core and genetically engineered themselves to have modified brains that give them the power of flight.

Next: computers in science fiction

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