Aug 3, 2017

Jack Be Nimble

cover art by Jasper Schreurs
I've previously blogged about Trullion by Jack Vance. Much of the plot for this novel involves the sport hussade, which takes the form of ritualized hand-to-hand combat, played before a crowd on grid of runways suspended over a pool of water.
"The ideal hussade player was powerful, intelligent, cunning, nimble and merciless."
Alastor Cluster
Welcome to the planet Trullion, one of 3,000 inhabited worlds of Alastor Cluster. It is a quiet world where most of the residents are something like hippies from the 1970s. The protagonist of Vance's story is Glinnes Hulden, a resident of the Fens. The Huldens are a sporting family and like his father and his older brother before him, Glinnes grew up playing hussade.
Glinnes grows up near the mouth of the Saur River, on Rabendary Island. Click on the map to enlarge.

Baroba Felice, sheirl of the Voulash Gannets
Life on Trullion is mostly quite relaxed and the majority of Trills prefer to enjoy simple lives of ease and pleasure. Vance informs us that an average Trill seldom works very hard and then only to:
"... earn a pulsor for his boat,  a pot for his kitchen,  a length of cloth for his paray: that easy skirt-like garment worn by men and women alike."
Like Glinnes, Vance grew up in a rural river delta. Vance adopted the needed discipline to write a million words a year and earn a living writing stories. Glinnes took on the discipline required of a top hussade player, following the advice of his father:
"Run five miles every day to develop your stamina. Jump the practice pits until you can make sure landings blindfold."
With a taste for adventure, at the age of 17 Glinnes joins the Whelm, Alastor Cluster's space-faring military that tries to protect the cluster's residents against endless and persistent raids by space pirates. While in the Whelm, Glinnes continues to play hussade. He terminates his service in the Whelm and returns home to the Fens when his father suddenly dies.
Duissane's aunt Nadya (source)

Upon returning to Trullion, Glinnes meets a Trevanyi woman named Duissane Drosset. The Trevanyi are a small minority group on Trullion, something like Earth's gypsies. Glinnes is immediately attracted to the fiery Duissane, but he soon discovers that the Drossets recently killed his older brother.

Culture Clash
Glinnes schemes to achieve revenge against the Drossets, but he also faces additional challenges. A new social movement has grown on Trullion: Fanscherade. The Fanschers, mostly of the younger generation, now stand in opposition to the gluttonous, amorous and undisciplined ways of their parents.

While Glinnes was away from Trullion, Glay, his twin brother, has become a Fanscher. Glay donated to the Fanscherade organization a large amount of money that he obtained from selling a valuable portion of the Hulden family lands.

Upon returning home, Glinnes is mystified by the Fanscherade movement and he is determined to regain the lost Hulden family property. Akadie the mentor, a long-time friend of Glinnes, tries to explain the Fanscherade movement:

Cover by David Mattingly.
World Inverting
In creating the imagined world Trullion, Vance was able to cleverly invert the social conditions of mid-20th century Earth. Rather than a world with hippies rebelling against their conservative parents, the Fanscherade youth movement of Trullion involves an attempt by the younger generation to create a new age of orderly conduct and achievement. The Fanschers cut their hair short and dress in clean gray uniforms, holding themselves aloof from typical Trill pursuits like hussade.

cover by Gene Szafran
I have a copy of the June
1973 edition of Trullion.
Strangely, the Beatles, who in the 1960s represented the winds of change in the cultural atmosphere of Earth's middle 20th century America, could just as easily serve as icons representing the gray-suited Fanschers of Trullion. Through the nimble artistry of Jack Vance, the pattern of Earth's cultural change has been neatly inverted to create a social backdrop on Trullion for the personal struggles of Glinnes.

Duissane Drosset
By the end of Trullion, the Fanscherade movement has been crushed. Through persistence and good luck, Glinnes has managed to regain ownership of the parcel of family land that Glay previously sold off. Duissane's father and brother (the murderers of Glinnes' older brother) are now dead.

Vance ends the story at this point, and the final scene of the novel suggesting that Glinnes and Duissane might have a future together:
The final two paragraphs of Trullion.

Merlank, the lone continent of Trullion. (source)
In the way that Vance wrote Trullion, Duissane is something of a mystery. Normally, Glinnes would never have had significant contact with a Trevanyi woman. It was only through an odd quirk of fate that the Drosset family was present on Rabendary Island when Glinnes returned home from serving in the Whelm.

During the time when Glinnes was away from Trullion, Glay spent several years wandering around Merlank, the only continent of Trullion. While on his travels, Glay lived for a time with the nomadic Drossets.

Trevanyi camp
The Trevanyi develop odd skills like the art of knife juggling. While usually keeping themselves apart from most ordinary Trill pass-times like hussade, the Trevanyi are willing to mingle with the Trill majority and even participate as entertainer at Trill parties and starwatches.

Owing them favors, Glay must have offered the Drossets a chance to pitch their tents for a while in the forest of Rabendary Island. When Glinnes arrives home after 10 years in the Whelm, the Drosset family is camped near his home and Glinnes meets Duissane on his first day back.

Hussade Sheirl
Underwood-Miller edition
Strangely, Duissane becomes a hussade sheirl, even though nobody can remember another time when a Trevanyi was a member of a hussade team. The other players on a hussade team fight to protect their sheirl against the charges mounted by the opposing team's players.

Vance never explains why it is that Duissane is given permission by her father to join a hussade team and why that permission is granted specifically for the team that Glinnes plays for. I like to imagine that unseen forces were at work, bringing together Glinnes and Duissane for some special purpose. However, I suspect that Vance simply wanted to construct an unlikely romance as part of the literary game he played: Vance wanted to place many challenges in the path to a happy future for Glinnes.

In the Ekcolir Reality
Duissane tries to seduce Glinnes by giving him cauch. Cauch is a valuable drug derived from a mold that grows on Trullion. The Trills routinely think of cauch as an aphrodisiac, but it is fun to imagine that the Trevanyi know how to use it for additional purposes. What if cauch can be used to activate the Phari endosymbionts that reside within the inhabitants of Alastor Cluster?

For A Search Beyond, I imagine that in the Ekcolir Reality an analogue of Jack Vance not only wrote additional novels set in the Alastor Clustor, but that version of Vance had access to more information about events that occurred in the Asimov Reality.

The Nicotine Mystery
Currently, to study the possibility that cauch was a form of nanotechnology, I'm making use of Yōd and her ability to access information within the Hierion Domain. We are pursuing the possibility that "cognitive amplifiers" such as cauch might have been stored and archived within the Hierion Domain.

A replicoid of Vance and Yōd's replicoid are working together in the Hierion Domain at the library of the Writers Block to further this investigation. So far, we have hints that both nicotine (on Earth) and cauch (on Trullion) may contain the same Phari nanites. From my end, I'm trying to make use of the infites that I obtained from Ivory. Ivory and her clone sisters previously investigated this topic by means of their access to the Sedronic Domain.

Next: Jack Vance and Isaac Asimov in Eternity
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1 comment:

  1. Really nice post..filled with photos and research.
    Jack Be Nimble

    Thanks for sharing.