Re-reading Okal Rel: A series of chronological summaries of chapters of the Okal Rel Saga, written by friends and fans.
The Courtesan Prince by Lynda Williams is Part One of the Okal Rel Saga, a 10 novel series published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.
When Earth’s first attempt to conquer the far reaches of space was thwarted by the failure of a faster than light transportation system, the first colonists were abandoned.
Subsequent colonizations were successful but ideological differences in cloning caused renegade scientists to sever their contact with Earth and establish their own unique world. Now, thousands of years in the future, the scattered descendents of humanity have evolved into two distinct planetary societies: the Reetions of Rire, who rely on advanced computer technology to regulate every aspect of their lives, and the genetically superior and honor bound Sevolites, of Gelion.
With one conflict already behind them, these two cultures are once again on the brink of war. But one last desperate mission is launched and somewhere within a dark region of space, Reetions and Sevolites find themselves torn between their own alliances and the inexplicable desire that constantly draws them closer together.
The following summary contains spoilers for Part One of the Okal Rel Saga: The Courtesan Prince. Continue reading with this in mind...
Chapter 5: Field Research
(Summary by John Preet)
(In which the chaos of first contact makes a dizzying ride for the reader.)
It is said that the researcher is affected by the study.
They rarely have much of an idea what to expect at the beginning of a project. Few however, would be able to handle Ranar's first day in his study of Sevolites.
Awakening--and surely wishing he had not--he discovers he is no longer in flight but rather in a building, covered in everything he had eaten since childhood, and also finds both that their flight had been intercepted and that he is in the care of a man whose last grip on reality is gone. Thomas is aggressive, only occasionally lucid and openly pondering killing the sword-wielding Sevolites with a cobbled-together laser: his mind finally come apart under the stresses of Sevolite space flight.
So, maybe not the best start to re-opening contact.
His day only gets worse as fascination wars with repulsion at his discoveries of Gelack culture. The use of servants, the use of the skins of animals to cover books and, not much later, the casual violence employed by Sevolites all contribute to his feeling of unreality.
Still not anywhere near the top of his game, he meets the irrepressible D'Ander, who is anxious to learn everything about everything and not particularly slowed down by Ranar's condition or a lack of clarity in their communication. He is somewhat put out by Thomas' behaviour and asks Ranar if Thomas is "pol?" which Ranar correctly interprets. Ranar tell him of Rire's history and the documentation of Ameron, spurring D'Ander to offer him a copy of a book of Ameron, after telling Ranar to go speak with the current Liege, Di Mon.
However, others have become aware of the Reetions. Ranar awakens to find a furious sword fight and Thomas test-firing a laser, after which he is hustled away in mufti towards Court. Their pursuers are not yet done with them, however, and another battle ends with bloodshed on both sides and Ranar completely out at sea, wondering not only where to find purchase in this alien environment but who he will become.