Saturday, May 13, 2017

Enthusiastic Silliness

David Ackerman's Durlig?
I do not worship Jorune. There are things I found silly and the indulgence of teenagers who project their limited thoughts to the world at large.

The silliest thing was the root "durlig", which is absolutely necesary for Earth based life to survive on Jorune. It is the arrogance of thinking they know what people would think is a nasty tasting food. And very American. Around our world people eat things that cause "yuuuck" response in protected populations who have never known hunger or the diseases/conditions as a result of malnutrition. People eat fried rats, with the hair still on it - and pay for it as fast food - on a stick. I go yuck at that, but if it is wait until you can save up for a "real" meal,  or starve, you start acquiring a taste.

Mmmmmmm. Rat like mama use to hawk on street corners.

Human favorite foods are
If there was a on-crop lynch pin to human survival, there would be catastrophe with a crop failure. And, since the Thantierians survived a thousand year siege by living in great fortresses, where did they grown their durlig. Durlig is a giant root plant. Did they have two story tall planters on the roof for sun and water, or expend precious resources on hydroponics and willing sacrifice the lower classes by denying the necessary tubers?

So, I shrugged. One thing I did not agree with in a world that otherwise fascinated and drew me.

Questions of population come to me. How many people were in the original colony, how many survived. How many types of mutations did not breed true or were so mutated that it got in the way of survivability? What is a 'viable' human population.

On this planet we suspect the human population was crashed to near extinction levels, and some even argue for a genetic "Eve", a single pregnant female from whom everyone alive today has descended. But even that is now in question with discovery of breeds beyond the traditional Cro Mangan, Neandertal, and Denisovian stocks. We seem to have a similar genetic bottleneck with the Cheetah. Cheetah are all the same DNA - there is no diversity. One good Cheetah flu and the entire species sneezes into oblivion.

How big was the "Shyee" - the "Dying Times" after the Human-Shanthic war? What were the surviving populations, where, and how big? Who lost? Why did survivors survive? We know the Thantierian - the longest lived non-Shanthic civilization on the planet - survived by having a "Century of Grace" with working Earth-tec on par with the Colony, and many bits of Earth-tec survived for centuries after. But until the recent discovery of Kelvin cryo-bins, most of the original Earth-tec had become non-functional objects d'art, venerated but not actually able to do anything. (Most - some still function, but for how long?)

And the human mutations? It implies mutated children from human parents who could breed true, but where is the history of that? There was one piece written about Mayatrish, a venerated mother who bore the first Boccord (that must have hurt - spontaneous episiotomy) and her husband thought she was cheating on him. Afterall, "he" couldn't be the father of such a monster.

Which opened other problems I don't teen aged boys (or girls) are qualified to answer. What is the difference between a half-Boccord, big Human, and a puny Boccord? (A half-Boccord, big Human, and a puny Boccord walk into a shenter...) No human teenager wanted the weight of Boccord breasts on the top of his head?

Interbreeding. Wouldn't there be half-human, half-woffen running around - and maybe running really fast because of angry townfolk with pitchforks and torches. Can Iscin races interbreed? With humans? A family tree with a Boccord grandfather, a crugar grandmother, a Broth grandfather and a blount grandmother?

They had, thankfully, just implied that such interbreeding had already played thru and there were were none of those interbreeds factored into the write up. But if they are sterile to each other, wouldn't that open the door to some bizarre prostitution practices?

Prostitution was hinted at but never openly described. Thankfully.

I am grateful for that omission. Very grateful.


  1. This turned up in my eMail today. Nice synchonicity.

  2. Taking the food observation one step further: where I live, a lot of people happily snack on boiled silkworm larva, and not out of desperation or hunger: kids actually like it, it's a popular snack among kids. To me, it tastes like gym socks (and I won't even try to describe the stink of the big pots one sometimes sees it boiled in, on the streets where it's sold like hot dogs are in American cities), but from a local South Korean perspective, that's an odd reaction, as is my horror at how a boiled silkworm larva both crunches and squishes in the mouth at the same time. In fact, it's served as a side dish in some restaurants occasionally.

    Where I first tried silkworm larva, it was a side dish served with liquor while the "main dish" of the restaurant was being prepared. That is, some guy fished a live octopus out of a tank and chopped it up, still alive. "Live octopus"—another baffling and dangerous food, is popular here: the tentacles are still squirming on the plate, and if you're not careful to chew it, you can suffocate on the tentacle segments if they go down the wrong pipe, with the suckers and muscles still squirming and clinging. Despite the danger and the weirdness (even a lot of Koreans find squirming animal flesh weird, too), some people love it.

    Likewise, while some people put up the argument that dogs were eaten out of desperation and hunger, that's a defensive posture: dog meat costs more, is seen as an aphrodisiac and a fortifier against hot weather, and has long been seen that way. (Lots of Koreans never eat dog and dislike the practice, especially as people have come to keep dogs as beloved indoor pets... but enough do that there are still little restaurants in most cities and towns, if you know where to look.)

    Meanwhile, Koreans marvel in shock at the range of "weird" (to them) things that are eaten in China that they would never, ever consider using for food.

    As for the scientific inconsistencies in the Jorune history-as-written, I tend to think humans who have the tech to do FTL travel (including the ability to create the energues necessary for it, and manage any likely gravitational side effects it'd probably have) should probably also have the tech to deeply intervene in their genetics.

    This in turn also suggests that they'd be able to hack together the biological necessaries for them to live off Jorune-native food sources, put in genetic blockages preventing interbreeding with Iscin's progeny, and indeed even perhaps to hack in some capacity to work with Isho. (I mean, if we're going to analyze in scientific terms a pseudomagical force in an imaginary game world.)

    Evolution of the kind that produces muadra and Boccord (and, most notably, Trarch) doesn't happen on a 3500 year timescale, but humans with enduring memories of the theory of evolution might believe it—and might believe the alien forces of Jorune accelerated the process—when in fact some amount of genetic tinkering (either back on Earth, or in orbit around Jorune prior to landing, or after colonization) accounts for a lot of what is explained using evolution.

    Which is to say, one way of making things more plausible is to treat the "history" of Jorune as presented in the game books as the received history that is believed by many Jorune-dwellers, rather than as gospel truth. I suspect I'm not alone in thinking that way... my impression is "Sholari James" also treats the canonical history in that way in some of his essays, right? (He definitely, and sensibly, suggests that the Trarch couldn't really be an straight-up, matural-selection-driven evolutionary offshoot of Earth-humans, for example.)