Reality Skimming

Lorel Tech

Shepherds of Sparrows by Hal Friesen was published by Reality Skimming Press in Nov 2013. Illustration, below, by Richard Bartrop. Article by Lynda Williams. Reality Skimming is celebrating with a series of articles about the book, each illustrated by an artist. Multiple artists will be participating.

By Lynda Williams

Since the first book of the Okal Rel Saga, we've always known the Lorels are scary. But it isn't until Part 10: Unholy Science that we meet some. Wait! Except, that is, in stories like Patricia Crawford's in Opus 2 and, most particularly, in Hal Friesen's Shepherds of Sparrows. In fact, the appearance of Dartha Lorel in Hal's book forced Lynda to firm up one, particular, decades-old idea about how Lorels operate and give a name to it: a sheut.

In Shepherds of Sparrows, Dartha makes a couple of eerie appearances to harass Hal's antagonist, the Caddy,

“Even if I was really here beside you,” Dartha said, “I hope you aren’t naïve enough to think you could threaten me with violence if you chose to indulge your Vrellish leanings.”

What does that mean? Nestor wondered. How is she communicating with him if she’s not here?

Amel wonders the same thing in Part 10: Unholy Science when he is rescued from another Lorel by Dartha.

“I want to go home,” Amel said, simply.

“I am sorry,” the sheut answered. “I am not a sufficiently sophisticated enactment of Dartha to address such a complex question.”

Like most Lorel Tech introduced to the saga's cast of characters in Part 10: Unholy Science, Dartha's sheut is made of seka – nanotech material able to re-arrange itself in complex ways under the direction of a master of sekan't. A sheut has the added aspect of being animated by an imprint of the personality of the sekan't master who created it. Like a temporary AI doppleganger.

However, not all seka is animated by an on-board intelligence. Most of the time, it's controlled by transmissions from the brain implants of the Lorel in charge. Here's a glimpse, from Part 10: Unholy Science, of Amel discovering how Lorels park their airships.

The plane slowed down and hovered in a way it really shouldn't have been able to do. Then it slid into a well-lighted cavern with a seka-colored floor of gold-speckled brown. The ceiling looked, for all the world, like sky above them. The plane melted around them, into the floor, causing Amel to start and scramble to his feet while Bo Lorel watched and laughed.

Lorel Tech

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