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May 7, 2016

Scutinary Vitalists

cover art by David Russell
When he wrote The Book of Dreams, Jack Vance was at the peak of his literary form, throwing out amusing ideas "like a dog scratching off fleas". Even the title of the book is one such "flea". In Vance's story, protagonist Kirth Gersen must hunt and destroy the Demon Prince known as Howard Alan Treesong. I love the fact that the title of Vance's novel is the title of a book that Treesong wrote.

Treesong had become the preeminent criminal in the galaxy, the self-proclaimed "King of Thieves". In his early criminal career, Treesong killed Gersen's parents.

Gersen poses as a journalist and tries to lure the secretive Treesong into the open by pretending that he wants to publish Treesong's biography. Gersen's "secretary", Alice Wroke warns that Treesong will "never allow you to publish undignified things about him". Gersen is persistent: "He can write the story himself. We'll sell a hundred million copies." Alice asks, "Do you think it is wise to publicize the exploits of such a man?" Gersen replies: "Certainly. Sooner or later he will come to a bad end."

two lifeforms of Bethune Preserve
Treesong ultimately "comes to a bad end" on the planet "Bethune Preserve". Bethune Preserve was discovered by Trudi Selland. Trudi was a "locator", one of the many space explorers who searched through the star systems of the galaxy for habitable planets. After finding Bethune Preserve, Trudi's description of the planet attracted the attention of the Naturalist Society. Bethune Preserve was soon set aside as a "planet-sized vivarium" for the study and preservation of its many unique lifeforms.

Scutinary Vitalists
In addition to the Naturalist Society, Bethune Preserve was of interest to many lesser-known organizations such as the Biological Falange, the Sierra Club and the Scutinary Vitalists.

image credits
I like to imagine that Vance's Demon Princes novels describe real worlds that existed in Deep Time, possibly within a previous Reality such as the Ekcolir Reality. In that Reality, the Scutinary Vitalists was founded by Gerald, Tonya and Jane Carlyle. They published many books about the theory of humans as "puppets" for nanoscopic devices that were thought to reside inside people, what became known as the Scutinary Doctrine.

The Scutinary Doctrine led to a fringe scientific research program that finally resulted in the isolation of what was called the "Vital Residual", an unidentifiable material that could be isolated from living organisms that had been rapidly incinerated. The Scutinary Vitalists were able to show that the Vital Residual existed inside living creatures on other planets, including Bethune Preserve.

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After hierion physics began in the Ekcolir Reality, Sam Jackie published the idea that the Vital Residual might be a form of hierion matter. Only much later was the Vital Residual recognized as sedronic matter, the residue of destroyed zeptites.

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In this series: Director of Forestlands

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