asher553: (Default)
No, I haven't written any new chapters for TQC yet - haven't in quite a while - so the one concrete thing I can offer in this update is that there's nothing new. The other concrete thing I can offer is that I'm not going to make any promises about when the next chapter will be written.

Nevertheless, "The Queen's Courtesan" is like that pain in your joint that just won't go away, and I can't stop thinking about it. I've got tons of ideas for the story and for related stories, but nothing to show for it yet.

My StatCounter statistics tell me that somebody in or around Mountain View spent about an hour and a half - and some 28 page views - reading the story this afternoon. What they thought of it, or what prompted their interest in the first place, is anybody's guess. (No referrer was recorded.) Anyhow, it's always nice, though a little scary, to see somebody taking an interest in this convoluted tale. Frustrating too, because I want to write more but I'm banging my head against a solid wall of writer's block.

The good news is, I'm starting to fill in a lot of the blanks about the Gilkesh people, their world, and their history. My long-term project is to draw up a complete history of the Gilkesh people, from stone age to space age. I've identified some of the major early tribes and their homelands on the planet Shakti, along with possible routes for some of their migrations. Next I want to sketch out a timeline for the major historical periods - Stone Age, Classical Age, Industrial Age, Space Age - and the principal developments associated with each. I'll also take a look at how Q'ormis and the Singularity cult arose and how they influenced events.

I understand the political structures of Shakti as having evolved gradually from loose tribal alliances, to city-states, to queendoms and empires, to entities approximating (but only approximating) the modern nation-state. In general, leaders among the GK arose through consensus and moral authority; the ability to form friendships and partnerships was valued, and having a large number of friends and allies was the most consistent status symbol in GK culture. (Sort of like LJ ...) Individuals who possessed charisma, good decision-making ability, and strong negotiating skills tended to become chieftains, queens, and empresses. However, during certain periods, hereditary monarchies developed which led to political stagnation. (This is one reason why the family unit is so important in GK culture: the requirement of partnering and co-parenting dilutes the biological mother's control over her offspring, and enhances cultural diffusion. This principle proved to be of critical importance in the royal houses.) Most nation-states in industrial-age and space-age Shakti are neither pure monarchies nor pure constitutional democracies but hybrids of the two, somewhat like modern Britain.

So that's where the Gilkesh universe is at. But as far as the story goes, I'm still stuck.

Oh well. Heiti dhu kayash! (That's life.)
asher553: (Default)
Sagh-e gir, sagh-e gir,
Dalse miq'h prai gelam.

Sagh-e gir, sagh-e gir,
Atmise kayash tatam.

Sagh-e gir, sagh-e gir,
Nangise dayo abam.

Sagh-e gir, sagh-e gir,
Kairise shone arja.

Sagh gir, sagh dadal,
sagh kayash, sagh gir.

Sagh-e gir, sagh-e gir,
Sigse q'aya miq'h kesham.

Good night, good night,
May you fly among the bright stars.

Good night, good night,
May you breathe the breath of life.

Good night, good night,
May you drink the waters of the Infinite.

Good night, good night,
May you return in peace to the homeworld.

A good night, a good flight,
a good life, a good night.

Good night, good night,
May you dwell ever among the living.

Dedication/Sududor: Sophia Lee Fastaia
Born/Mugen: 2007, September 25, 20:33
jur 2007, sezd min-chom-lia september, min-chom saq'hat esh-chom-esh dakikin
asher553: (Default)
Of interest only to the most incurable conlang (constructed language) fanatics.

Introduction to the grammar (almost complete) and 850-word vocabulary in pdf at the link.

I've got most of the bugs worked out, and with a few more tweaks I'll call it a done deal.
asher553: (Default)
So, I've finally started writing chapter 30 of my two-page short story (ha ha) and should have the chapter finished by the end of this weekend. I'm dividing the narrative into ten-chapter sections, for no particular reason except it helps me keep a little bit of structure; so this will be the conclusion of Part III. I think Part IV may include some flashbacks, in fact the whole next section may be set "in the past" because I'm realizing I need to bring the reader up to speed on some of the backstory and it's probably most economical if I just shift scenes and narrate it directly.

Originally the story was just supposed to be about Kathris, Amira, and the affair. But then I realized I needed to give Joli a friend or two, so Dess and Atubis appeared. And then I had to create some kind of concrete external threat, and so I conjured up the Anomaly. Finally I thought I ought to add an internal threat as well, so ... Singularity.

There's an extraordinary double episode of Xena titled "Sacrifice". This is the one where Xena and Gabrielle rescue Seraphin from a cultic sacrifice and learn that she's become a devotee of Hope, the goddess of Dahak. Xena realizes that civilization may be destroyed unless Hope is killed and her nihilistic cult overthrown. She enlists the help of Callisto, who is tired of immortality and yearns for oblivion. In the end, though, an old favor is called in, and Gabrielle understands that she must sacrifice her own life to save Xena.

What makes this story so amazing is that all four primary characters - Xena, Gabrielle, Seraphin, and Callisto - all seek the same thing: death. But they all want it for different reasons. Xena understands that she may have to sacrifice her life to save the world, and Gabrielle knows that "if Xena kills Hope, Xena will die" - so she herself must kill Hope (her own daughter) to save Xena ... giving up her own life as well. Seraphin wants to give her life in order to bring the apocalypse. And Callisto simply wants to end it all. (For some reason I was weirdly reminded of the Jewish legend of "The Four Who Entered Paradise" ... but that's another story.)

This is where I got the idea for Singularity. They are a doomsday cult very much like the followers of Hope and Dahak. And this is what makes them so dangerous: because their motives are completely incomprehensible to anyone else.

This also kind of goes back to one of the key themes I'm playing with in the Gilkesh material - the temptation of the "return to the source". (I explored this in depth in the chapter on "Lilith", which presents various characters' interpretations of the role of Lilith in Gilkesh mythology.) The seductiveness of Singularity's brand of mysticism is the secret of their attractiveness to certain people.

Singularity originated on Shakti, but its membership is no longer confined to the Gilkesh. After the death of its founder Q'ormis (the Q-apostrophe is pronounced like a guttural G, by the way) and her followers, the cult was believed to be extinct but in fact it went underground. With the advent of space travel its members began recruiting converts from among the Humans, the Fao, and the other intelligent races.

The current political picture on Shakti is one of superficial stability. Kathris and Amira both emerged as clan leaders. Their marriage was intended to bring union and stability to Shakti, but it's looking pretty shaky now. Needless to say, Amira's affair with Joli isn't going to help matters. Meanwhile at Earth Central Intelligence, the Humans are watching all this and trying to "read the tea leaves" regarding the internal politics of their galactic neighbors. For this, they depend on an informant within the Gilkesh government ... but how reliable this informant is, is open to question. As we shall soon see.

The main plot of TQC still revolves around the Kathris-Amira-Joli triangle. The complications will emanate from the various major and minor characters' relationships with one another, and their responses to the Singularity threat.

Here's the link to the story. The current chapter (scroll to bottom) is still in progress.
asher553: (Default)
For those of you who are just dying to know what language Kathris, Amira, Joli, Dess, and Atubis are speaking, there's the Gilkesh Language Homepage which currently features a 700-word vocabulary and the basics of the grammar.  I'm going to add sections on pronunciation and complete grammar tables, and try to work up some sample texts in the language.

Oh yeah, and I bought a new computer.  An HP dual-core.  So far I'm quite happy with it.

More thoughts on hesed shel emet to follow soon.

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