Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.
All the intruders look Vrellish!
Dela rose like a puppet on strings and went to look out of the window.
Two motorized vehicles, powered by space-charged batteries, were driving up the gravel road that led from the landing fields to Dee Manor. Their tires crunched over white chips of granite. A stretch farther back, a mounted honor guard occupied the packed-dirt paths on the road's wide margins, which constituted a breach of protocol. Someone being escorted by a horse guard was supposed to keep pace with the horse guard--a symbolic echo of the pack of limitations implicit in the use of swords to settle differences.
The crunching stopped when the cars passed onto the flat, fitted stones of the courtyard. Parked in front of the manor's doors, they disgorged people dressed in purple uniforms, and wearing a ship-and-sun symbol. Dela had seen the emblem only once before. It belonged to the villainous House of Dem'Vrel.
And the intruders all had black hair.
The only good sign was the swords they wore. Dela had heard rumors about places in the empire, beyond Demora, where Okal Rel broke down in wars which destroyed the very habitats fought over, even slaying entire bloodlines so that unbodied souls became stranded forever to extract their bitter vengeance on Okal Rel’s violators. The Gods of Earth were also stranded spirits, rendered mad by their forced exile and cruel by their boredom. They might war with themselves through their favorites, or torment the living to test their resolve, but suffering rewarded the honorable soul with a higher ranking body when he or she was next reborn. There was no redemption under Okal Rel for those who proved themselves as foul as the commoners whose long forgotten quarrels destroyed the world of humanity’s origins, forcing Sevolites of all ranks to take responsibility for inferior spirits too weak to be honorable.
Lady Ril appeared at Dela's elbow. "You should not be watching this, Princess," she said, kindly.
"What is going to happen?"
"I do not know."
A man dressed, respectfully, in the black of mourning stepped out of a car onto the courtyard. He carried himself with his eyes downcast, face in shadow. He did not bear a sword. That was unnerving. But the way he moved reminded Dela of her youth at the Golden court where any room or balcony might surprise you with a graceful figure. Then he raised his head to look around him, brushing back his dark hair with his left hand.
Dela's eyes widened.
Ethics in SF: A series of interviews, articles and debates on the Reality Skimming blog, hosted by Lynda Williams, author of the Okal Rel Saga.
Justine Graykin is a writer and free-lance philosopher sustained by her deep, abiding faith in Science and Humanity -- well, Science, anyway –- and the belief that humor is the best anti-gravity device. She lives with 1 husband, 2 kids, 2 dogs, too many cats and a flock of chickens on 50 acres in New Hampshire, occasionally disappearing into the White Mountains with a backpack. Further details, diatribes, and antidystopian fiction can be found on her website, and on her LiveJournal.
Today There is no Pain
“On Monday, June 23rd, Doctor Professor Uberman shut down his computer and turned off his cell phone. He left his iPad, lanyard and badge, wallet and keys on the table in the hall and went through the sliding glass doors, across the deck, and down into the back yard.
“The weather was fair. It had not rained for several days. The ground was dry. He sat down on it. Today there would be no pain.”
Thus begins my contribution to the Broad Universe Sampler anthology, a piece of flash fiction called, “Today there is no pain.” Uberman, a scientist in the service of the great, grinding Moloch of a corporate government, in a moment of personal crisis and despair, simply disconnects and walks away. He spends a few precious hours contemplating only the immediate reality of the present moment as perceived directly by his mind and senses. In it, he sees infinity and infinite interbeing.
The story is a call to all of us to stop our headlong daily rush of doing, filled with assumptions and obsessions. We live unstuck in time, agonizing over past and future, mindless of the passing of each present moment. Yet these ticking moments are the only access we have to what is truly real. Uberman experiences a day of bliss, of freedom, not because he has escaped from reality, but because he has stopped to look deeply into each moment and sees what is truly real.
“A small movement refocused his eyes onto a spider. Within the intricate chemical clockwork of that alien body were strands of genetic material that duplicated his own. Somewhere down the strobe-flash of incalculable days, a creature spawned siblings that would diverge, procreate, a million upon a million times over, to become someday, a spider and a man. They were distant kin.
“Every righteous crusade, every rendezvous with destiny, all the thunder and drum of human achievement, was compressed by geological time into a wafer. Uberman looked into the eyes of the spider, an event equally important as any other human act.”
Uberman does not pass judgement on the state of human affairs; he merely sees it for what it is: Insignificant. But he does not find that depressing. Quite the opposite. He finds it liberating. In that moment there is no pain. There is joy.
Q: What was Von's answer to Ann's question, "Are you sane?"
A: "I don't think so, but it doesn't matter."
From Part 1: The Courtesan Prince, p. 291. Compiled by Angela Lott c.2009.
The Okal Rel Universe has inspired many beautiful, curious, fun and touching moments, objects and re-mixes or interpretations over the years. This page celebrates them one by one. Found one that should be here? Tell us about it for the finder's reward of the month. Send your discovery to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mel, Angie, Catherine and Tegan started a collection of ORU pictures on Deviant Art circum 2008-9. Below is a snapshot showing the logo-banner Mel created, in the upper lefthand corner, which rotates through three images. See: http://okalrel-fanclub.deviantart.com/gallery/
A colleague on SFCANADA mailing list, today (Aug 26, 2012), was fishing for people's takes on scientifically valid reasons why an intelligent civilization might not have good communications. Here's my response on behalf of the Okal Rel Unvierse. (Lynda)
My space opera (Okal Rel) includes broken communications in a few ways. First, because reality skimming connects worlds and it is faster-than-light, there's no faster communicaton than a pilot arriving. Bit like the old pony express. Reality Skimming requires a pilot. The pilots themselves are the bioengineered tech in this case but that's another story.
For inside environments I base communication impairment on oen materials science explanation and one social one. Hullsteel is based on "memory" aspect of advanced materials science thinking. It is like the "Wonderful One Horse Shay" (Reading no Youtube) of an old poem my father liked. It won't crack and can't be warped. It will take extreme stress. But at breaking point, it shatters to smithereens. It also bounces signals so you can't send radio transmissions through it. The social aspect I use is that communications takes a lot of cooperation on the part of the groups behind it. Agreeing on bands to use. Shared codexes. Leaving physical equipment alone if it relies on wires vs. transmission and not interferring with each other if it does require transmission. In UnderGelion, the hullsteel enclosed city where a lot of my "hub of the neo-feudal empire" stories are set, the families in power interfer with each other's communications. The situation, and various people's attempts to work around it, are peppered throughout my series.
It is a judgment on us!
Lady Ril came in and closed the door. She took a long look at Dela, sitting in her chair, trembling, with tears running down her cheeks, and turned on Ronan. "What have you said to her?"
Lord Ronan spun around. "She must marry Pureblood Amel! For Dee."
"Do you think he will offer marriage!" Ril mocked the plan. "Do you think he will be honorable?"
Ronan ground his teeth. "Then she must make him ask!"
"If he does it will not be a real marriage," Ril objected stridently. "He will treat her like one of his Vrellish whores! Chandad, at least, kept a single mistress, and only once he had left Dela's bed forever. The Vrellish act like stray curs."
Dela wanted to stop her ears. Her arms were wooden.
"She must marry Amel, great-aunt Ril," Ronan said, "or we are all ruined. Do you understand? Ruined!"
Ril was as hard as a drawn sword. "That is the same male logic that sent The Sacrifice to Gelion. We must do the unthinkable, or we will be ruined. Don't you see what it has earned you? A descendant of our beloved Emperor returns armed with the traditional rights of the Family of Light but possessed by a dark-souled conqueror! It is a judgment on us, Ronan!"
"It is easy for women to talk about being honorable," Ronan said, stubbornly. "It is not you who must defend Demora: in space, where the soul is risked, or by the sword on a challenge floor where you can be killed by the Vrellish, like Chandad!"
Sounds from the yard ended their quarrel.
Lord Ronan said, "That will be Pureblood Amel." He left.