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Aug 27, 2013

Dé Jà Vance


Figure 1. Cover art: The Face
"...the most fun you can have without a vibrator..."

My copies of the Demon Princes novels by Jack Vance are worn and tired with pages falling out and covers falling off. To the right is a scan of the front cover of The Face. These old DAW covers are wonderfully evocative of events in the novels.

Having decided that there should be a novel called Trysta and Ekcolir, I've been thinking about possible cover art images for another Exode Trilogy book (Exode cover, The Foundations of Eternity cover).

Tristan and Iseult
Trysta and Ekcolir become lovers, and are part of a love triangle (with Merion) that was foreseen by the aliens who designed and crafted the human species. 

Fig. 2. source
In Isaac Asimov's time travel novel, The End of Eternity, Noÿs says to her lover Andrew, "I studied the Realities...I chose this alternative so that our love might be true."

Similarly, the pek spend 200,000 years carefully crafting Ekcolir so that he can win Trysta's heart and accomplish his mission on Earth.

I'd like to hear the story of the origins of -and relationships between- the images shown on the right side of this page. In The Face, Gersen throws his blade into the neck of his adversary while his lover watches nervously from a safe distance. Neither of these images exactly matches the text of the story, but the upper image comes much closer to matching the fight scene and the novel's setting as written by Vance.

Tristan and Iseult
Trysta and Ekcolir
Of course, Trysta is not human. She is an Asterothrope. Asterothropes are a primate variant that was designed and crafted in the far future of Earth, after humans became extinct. However, Trysta's entire life was carefully planned so as to allow her to be sent to the 20th century. Here features and behavior were made to match those of a woman from the Primitive.

The dramatic "fight scene" in Trysta and Ekcolir does not involve swords, it involves invisible nanites. It might be possible to visually hint at the presence of the nanites in this scene by using odd clouds or strange lights, but there is no blood to indicate the dire nature of the struggle.

Figure 2 detail
Trysta isn't some passive maiden in distress: she is the winner of the "fight scene" in Trysta and Ekcolir. Both Vance and Asimov have been criticized for a dearth of strong female characters in their science fiction, but they had to work within the "old school" of male-dominated publishing...I can't fault them for writing stories through the eyes of male protagonists.

Vance and Asimov created some memorable female characters including Wayness Tamm and Noÿs Lambent. In my fanfiction stories, "Trysta" is the name used by Noÿs Lambent when she is living in the 20th century. Asimov suggested that Noÿs is "built like a force-field latrine", and in order for her to accomplish her mission she needed to be able to seduce and infatuate Andrew. Her mission involved time travel and the destruction of Eternity.

Wayness Tamm
Vance's character Wayness Tamm boldly goes off her own dangerous mission in search of the Cadwal Charter. Still, it is Glawen Clattuc who Vance depicts as the competent hero who must rescue Wayness after she gets into trouble. In the Exode Trilogy there is a series of major female characters (Gohrlay, Trysta, Kach) who, like Wayness, push their agendas to the breaking point. Even though all four of these ladies follow their ambitions into hopeless dead ends, eventually it is their spunk and persistence that helps make possible a final victory for their cause.

Possibly using the "fight scene" in Trysta and Ekcolir as the basis for a cover illustration has another serious drawback in addition to the problem of depicting the presence of invisible nanites. Unfortunately, Ekcolir is not present in New Your City during the "battle of the nanites". I'd like to have Ekcolir and Trysta both on the cover. In Figure 1 (above, right) the leering face of Lens Larque can be seen over Gersen's shoulder. This floating head in the sky makes sense only after you read the last few pages of The Face, but it nicely provides a way to show Gersen's adversary on the cover. I'm not clever enough to visualize a version of the key fight seen in Trysta and Ekcolir that adequately depicts the nanites and also manages to include Ekcolir. 

viewing Realities
David Russel's cover
Another Cover
Eventually, Ekcolir provides Trysta with access to an advanced device for viewing alternative Realities. In the past, I have tried to depict Trysta in the act of viewing Realities by showing the pattern of strange attractors that constitute the structure of critical decision points in the Realities.

Using the Reality viewer, it is possible for Trysta to "focus" on particular events in a Reality Chain and see the people and places involved. Some events fall at the chaotic core of strange attractors and they are very hard to observe and relate to other key events in a Reality. Trysta is able to view a scene in an alternate Reality in which her son meets the first Buld who arrive on Earth.

by Thomas Iwedon
This observation is hard for Trysta to make sense of because she believes that both her husband Merion and her son Thomas were captured by Overseers and taken to the Moon after the "battle of the nanites".

As a consequence of Trysta's vision of the future, a complex plan is devised that involves sending a clone of Thomas (Parthney) to Earth. The plan involves slipping Parthney into Observer Base and having him take the place of Thomas who is to be liberated so that he can welcome the Buld to Earth.

Of course, this great plan completely falls apart. In fact, Thomas is not captured by the Overseers when Merion is.  Thomas simply goes into hiding on Earth: it is only Trysta's mistaken assumption that he is captured after the "battle of the nanites" (this is a slight change from my original thinking about this scene).

The "great plan for Parthney" is worse than a failure. Parthney is captured by the Overseers and Thomas must sacrifice his own freedom in order to liberate Parthney from Observer Base. Thus, it is the incredibly complex plan that involves cloning Thomas and sending Parthney to Earth that results in Thomas being held captive on the Moon.

So, here (to the left) is a first draft of a scene for the cover in which Ekcolir watches while Trysta views Realities. In her view of a possible future Reality, there is a scene on the Moon. That "scene within a scene" is when Parthney has been living as a prisoner at Observer Base, but then he is rescued and teleported to safety by Thomas. For the version shown here, I've included an Overseer who is lying unconscious nearby while Parthney is teleported to Klyz.

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