Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mythmakers - A Diversion into the Political

       In my first Mythmaker analysis, I discussed the Precepts related to the nature of god and the need for human beings to take responsibility for their own actions without relying on another entity to tell them what to do.  I had intended to treat the nature and role of religion next, but this incident at the RNC, about attendees throwing nuts at a black camerawoman and saying, "This is how we feed the animals" ( -- Huffington Post) has diverted me into a discussion of another principal of the Mythmaker philosophy which is implied in the Precepts, if not directly stated.
       That principal is, "All the intelligent lifeforms of Earth share the same DNA; therefore they are ALL THE SAME SPECIES."
       In this our own time, we pay scientific lip service to this fact, but as a species we don't recognize it emotionally.  We still reject our own kind when they look different from us.  It's strange, because we don't consider a Pekinese to be inferior to a grayhound (they are all dogs, genetically, and could interbreed), and yet we condemn ethnic varieties of human beings (who differ far less in appearance than breeds of dogs) merely on the basis of their skin color, hair texture, or eye shape.
       Precept No. 17 says: There are creatures on this planet [amended later to in the universe] who speak, form symbols, and share emotions; these may be called human.  So did those attendees believe that the camerawoman couldn't speak?  Or write, recognize a logo, or understand a metaphor (forming symbols)?  Did they believe she did not have the ability to feel another's pain?  Or perhaps that she had no ability to feel pain herself (like fish  supposedly can't do, something I've never believed, personally)?  Do they actually believe her body contains some kind of alien DNA that removes her from the roll of humanity?
       All the intelligent lifeforms of Earth can interbreed; therefore they are ALL THE SAME SPECIES and should be treated with equal respect.
       But we seem to be a long way from achieving that kind of respect.  Here's an example from my own experience.  I worked  in the library of a university in a provincial, fundamentalist/conservative region of the country.  I had an assistant who had worked there for years and is the best example I've ever met of the type who threw those nuts.  When she had a new granddaughter, the first thing she and her family taught the baby to say was "jungle bunny."  She told the story like it was the most hilarious thing in the world to see that baby point at a black person and say "jungle bunny."  My jaw dropped to the top of my shoes.  I couldn't believe it. 
       And this woman touted herself as being such a "good Christian."  I never trust anybody who goes around talking about what a "good Christian" somebody is.
       I continued to work at that university for five years -- I should have left after two.  I just didn't fit with the mindset of the community.
       The emotional acceptance of all intelligent Earthers as one species is something that only the slow movement of generational change can achieve.  Unfortunately, this attitude won't prevail until we have endured a Dark Age (see my page on "Future History").  The principal of the equality of all citizens of Earth will be written into the Earth Unification Charter, which will be ratified on 20 July 2690.  By that time, after nearly annihilating themselves, human beings have finally attained that emotional acceptance -- the ability to look automatically beneath the surface of others. 
       But even in those more progressed times, humans will still sometimes have trouble relating to their fellows who look different from themselves or perhaps have a different cultural background.  I made a note for one of my WIPs.  A Professor visiting from the planet Krisí’i’aid (a member of Prf. A'a'ma's Bird people) says this in the course of presenting a lecture: "As a species, you humans seem to be incapable of the forbearance necessary to tolerate diversity.  Each variety sees itself as the Chosen and seeks to oppress all other varieties.  You were able to achieve peace, unity, and security only by sacrificing diversity."  The Professor goes on to discuss the situation on Krisí’i’aid, where three different intelligent species who can't interbreed and who are culturally quite different exist in harmony.  Even there, however, it took several thousand years for them to develop the capacity to differ in a civil and non-aggressive way.
       So maybe there is hope for Earth yet -- it's just way far in the future.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Latest Thoughts on Formatting for Self-Publishing

       Before I return to the serious side of life and continue my discussion of the Mythmaker philosophy, I thought I would comment on the system I've worked out for formatting later volumes of "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head."  I don't know whether anybody will find it useful, but people do seem interested in how-to-do-it material.
       In my post on my other blog "So What's New with v.2 of 'Labors'?" I discussed the new title I've settled on for v.2 ("The Storm-Wing") and mentioned I was in the process of doing some revision on the text.  I'll have to go through this same process with each of the remaining five volumes, so I'm beginning to fall into a routine.
       I set up what I call the "Master Copy."  (I'll remind everybody that I use Word.)  When I divided the original v.2 into two parts, it effectively messed up the formatting.  Word never seems to carry styles over between documents.   I don't know what other people do, but I've always composed using a style called Body Text or Body Text Indent that I've engineered to fit my requirements of paragraph indention, spacing, etc.  This will work OK when you are formatting for print (PDF doesn't seem to care what styles you use), but it won't work for Smashwords (not sure about Kindle).  So the best thing to do is simply Select All and convert the entire document to Normal style right at the beginning.  Basing the whole thing on Normal will work for all formats and it's what Smashwords requires.
      Once you're in Normal, all formatting disappears, even centering, bold type, paragraphing -- everything except the ToC, where the field links to the chapter headings remain (which is nice -- you can still easily navigate the document).  So you have to go through and reformat things like the title page, the chapter headings, the division breaks within chapters (by that I mean, the row of asterisks or whatever you use to break up your chapters).  All that is easily done as you make your final revision and proofing of the text.
       The section breaks also will remain.  Keep those in the Master Copy -- again, for ease of navigation.  Remove any headers or page numbers.  When you do the CreateSpace template, those will have to be inserted in that format; it will be entirely different from what you do in your basic document.
       Base everything you do on the Master Copy.  If, for example, you change some text when you're fitting the document into your CreateSpace template, be sure to make the change in the Master Copy.  That way when you're ready to do Kindle and Smashwords, you'll know you have exactly the same text you used for print.
       Add all the back-of-the-t.p. material to the Master, but don't worry too much about form, since each version will have some differences.  Same with the end matter; write in whatever you want for the print version, and be prepared to adapt it for the e-books.
       Don't mess with the ToC form.  It won't look right in Normal style, but it's still usable; besides,  for the print version it will have to be done over by hand, and it will have to be completely reworked and relinked using bookmarks and hyperlinks for the e-book versions.
      You'll have to reformat all your paragraphing.  I do the chapters one at a time.  I set up the chapter headings, then select the entire chapter text, right-click, click on Paragraph, and then set up the Indents and Spacing the way I want it.  Be sure to remove any paragraph indentions on centered material like chapter headings, title page materials, division breaks, etc., or they'll be off-center.  I use 0.3 indention and single space, and left justification.  There is no point in justifying the Master Document because it doesn't work for e-books; and in the CS template, as I recall, it justifies itself when you copy the text in. 
       I also take Widow and Orphan control off for the entire document.  That way I don't have to remember to remove it when I set up the print template.  That is done in the paragraph formatting box by clicking on the Line and Page Break tab, then unchecking Widow and Orphan Control.
       Do not activate Automatic Hyphenation for the Master Copy.  That's only needed when you put the material into the print template; you don't want it in the e-books because you'll get weird hyphenated words in the middles of lines.  Because line lengths aren't set, there is no way you can divide words at the ends of lines in e-books.
       Use a basic type face like TNR and 12-point type for the Master Copy.  Or you could change it to 11-point if that's what you want for your print copy.  I prefer to use 12-point because that's what I'll want for the e-books.  But be careful when you're doing the print template; if you change the text in the template and copy it over to the Master, you'll get a mix of type sizes; and vice versa -- if you copy a change from the Master into the template, it will remain 12-point.  I had that problem with v.1 of "Labors" and had to check type sizes carefully throughout both documents before I was finished.  I found a way to do that using the Find and Replace feature.  You can search for type-size and simply replace all instances of the wrong size with the right size.
       On the t.p. I type "This is the Master Copy" and highlight it in blue, so I won't get it mixed up with any other draft.  As for the document title, what I do is simply leave it short.  For example, v.2 is titled, "MS - Ki'shto'ba Tales - v.2, Storm-Wing."  When I do the different versions, I add to that basic title terms like:
"Createspace Template"
"CreateSpace Template - PDF"
"Kindle HTML"
as appropriate.  Thus, everything remains grouped together in the Documents List, with the Master Copy title at the top.
       When you're ready to do the Kindle version, make a copy of your Master (don't make changes in the master itself, or you'll lose all your work).  Then replace all the section breaks with page breaks (Kindle wants page breaks between chapters).  When you do the Smashwords, make a copy of your Master and remove all section and page breaks (Smashwords doesn't want any breaks at all except paragraph returns, and not an excessive amount of those). 
       Kindle won't take hanging indention, but it will take a combination of indented lines and unindented lines (block paragraphs) and I believe it will take built-in before-and-after spacing on paragraphs.  However, Smashwords won't; they insist on nothing but centered text and indented paragraphs (no mix of block and indented paragraphs is allowed).  Smashwords also won't take built-in before-and-after spacing on paragraphs -- the meat grinder will kick it back at you if you leave some of that in.  If you stick to only centered material, indented paragraphs, and line spacing using only paragraph returns, you're safe in all e-books.  Be sure to activate the paragraph marks so you can see exactly what you've got, because those rules have to be applied to blank lines as well, and it will also enable you to make sure you've taken out the section breaks.  That's important to remember, especially with Smashwords.
       This post is kind of a nit-picky mess, but maybe some of you will find some useful information in it.  I hope so!  Comment with any questions you might have!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beginning My Mythmaker Analysis (Long Delayed)

       Back on March 31, 2012, I wrote the first post in this series, entitled "Who Are the Mythmakers and Why Do They Matter?"  In it I discussed the role the Mythmakers played in setting up the moral foundation for the resurgence of civilization in the 27th century.  The Mythmakers were an anonymous group of writers and artists whose works were preserved in the Underground Archives (the system of knowledge preservation undertaken by groups of far-sighted individuals during the Second Dark Age -- see the separate page My Future History for background; it's an excerpt fron my novel "The Termite Queen"). I printed the Twenty Precepts in that post and it would be helpful if you re-read it, or read it for the first time, before you continue here.
       I'm don't pretend to be a trained philosopher, social scientist, or historian, and I'm sure professionals in those fields could tear the following presentation to pieces.  I do, however, have my opinions and beliefs, which the Mythmaker ethic reflects, and I feel I have something to contribute to modern thought.  Therefore I'm going to throw my ideas out there and hope they might be reflected upon and even discussed.  It would be great if we didn't have to endure a Dark Age and wait six centuries for these tenets to be accepted and put into practice!
       Since religion plays such an important (and distorted) role in the 21st century, I'm going to start my discussion there.  The Mythmaker ethic is humanist and the resultant 27th-30th century society is based in humanism.  In this post, I'm going to discuss Precepts 1-5, which relate to the idea of gods.   Precepts 10-11 discuss the role and nature of religion and should be considered in tandem with 1-5, but this post was getting too long, so I'll treat those in my next essay into the subject. 
1.    No one can know deity; neither can it be proven that it does not exist.

       Right away we establish that the Mythmakers are not atheists.  They simply do not know what god is, or even whether there is a god or gods.  After all, they are called Mythmakers for a reason.  Myth always incorporates ideas of the supernatural.  The supernatural answers a need evolved in the genetic structure of humanity -- the urge to explain the unexplainable, an urge that  is often answered by science as humans advance intellectually.  Ultimately, however, there is always something that science cannot unexplain.  One of the traditional attributes of god is that he/she/it is unknowable.  If you can never know what this entity is, you cetainly can't demonstrate anything about it using scientific methods.  You can neither prove nor disprove the existence of god or define its nature.
       This is exactly what I believe and why I call myself a "spiritual humanist."  I don't reject the possibility of unknowable spiritual forces.  It would be impossible to write fantasy if I did.  There would be nothing to write about.
2.    Humans have within themselves the ability to see beyond themselves and hence to act rightly without supernatural stimulus.

3.    Since the purpose of deity for humans, or even whether it had a purpose for humans, is unknowable, it is incumbent upon humans to look within themselves and find the way to right action.       
4. Humans must take responsibility for their own behavior, not seeking to put blame on imposed rules (of deity or human) or on fate, chance, or the intervention or willfulness of deity.
       These three introduce the humanist element.  They belong together and reinforce one another. 
       No. 2 emphasizes that the ability to understand  right action is inherent in the human identity; evolution initiated a drive toward altruism, and we don't need a god to tell us what kind of behavior is moral.
       No. 3 emphasizes that since we cannot know (in the scientific sense) the purpose of deity, it becomes even more imperative for human beings to understand that they must look for and find that inherent morality that exists within themselves.
       No. 4 concerns the importance of taking responsibility for one's own actions, a central tenet of all Mythmaker literature.  You can't blame the rules laid down by an external entity for your bad behavior (saying, the gods demand a sacrifice, for example, so killing this woman is justified; or, the government has decreed that practitioners of Judaism are evil, therefore the killing of Jews is justified).  Likewise, you can't say, fate has decreed that we should kill this enemy; the Mythmaker philosophy recognizes free will.  While chance and coincidence do exist, you can't lay blame on those things; you can't say, I have no responsibility for this accident, because chance caused this child to run in front of my car when I was too drunk to stop in time.  And you can't blame or praise a deity for the fact that my house burned and my neighbor's didn't (that indeed is an instance of chance, where no intention can be assigned).  You also can't say, God isn't consistent; it saves one person from the bullets of a crazed assassin and not another.  Therefore, god must be evil or it must simply not care.  Neither can you say, god must love me more than it loves that person and have some special purpose in mind for my life.  You can't make any absolute statements about god; you can't even know if any god  exists, so how can you ascribe any intentions or motives or purposes to deity?  "God" may be simply an underlying Life Force, will-less and indifferent. 
       To summarize: The focal point of these first four Precepts is the phrase "without supernatural stimulus" in no. 2. Human beings have the innate ability to find the Right Way; they don't need an external supernatural being whose nature they cannot know telling them, do this and don't do that. They don't need to have imposed or forced on them a set of Commandments that are purported to come straight from a benevolent divine tyrant. They have to work out their own positive human ethic.
         So might one present the caveat that the 20 Precepts are a set of Commandments?  They are not that at all -- they are a set of ethical guidelines that can be thought about, debated, rejected, or altered. They are not rules laid down by a deity; the Mythmakers are not deities, as Kaitrin Oliva keeps pointing out so vehemently in "The Termite Queen." 

       To call oneself a humanist, one has to remain an incorrigible optimist, especially with the behavior seen in the world today (or for that matter, in any period of history -- it's just that the evils of our own time -- the Aurora theater massacre and the shooting at the Sikh temple are only two examples -- are so much more vivid to us than are the evils that have faded into the dry texts of history, like the Holocaust or the Cambodian atrocities or the Bibighar Massacre of British women and children in 1857 India.  One has to recognize that humanity has the ability to deny the very qualities that make it admirable.  To remain a humanist, you have to believe that human beings really can look within themselves and find the Right Path.  You have to believe that the essential altruism of humanity will prevail.

      Of course, the Mythmakers recognized humanity's shortcomings; they lived in a period when it was all too apparent.  They were realists; they understood that human beings are fallible -- suffering under the rampant ego, as well as from misunderstandings, lapses in judgment, inadequate education, mental and genetic aberrations.  They never expected the attainment of perfection, but they did insist that people keep trying.   Therefore, they demonstrated their compassion and realism by adding the following precept: 

5.   Humans will never succeed absolutely in achieving these goals; nevertheless striving for right action is its own purpose.     

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ye Olde Grammarian

       I'm sure you know that "Ye" in the above title isn't pronounced "ye" as in the archaic familiar plural for "you."  It's simply a very old way to write "the."  The "y" is a corruption of the ancient thorn letter, þ, which represented the sound that is spelled "th" in all modern languages except Icelandic, which still uses the thorn.  If you're interested in how its use evolved in early modern English, go to Wikipedia, article entitled Thorn (letter).  I was going to copy a table from that article here, but the attempt blew my computer's mind!

       Now, down to the intended business.  When I was in grade and high school (way back in the Dark Ages, although we had discontinued using the thorn letter by that time!), I was pretty much taught prescriptive grammar.  I know that's a no-no among trained linguists -- one is supposed to study how the living language functions and evolves rather than being told, do it this way or else.  But that approach is a bit sophisticated for youngsters struggling to learn the meaning of arcane terms like subject, predicate, number, and case.  There are rules involved and if you study them as a basis of knowledge, you can always adjust your approach after you learn the ropes.
       I've mentioned that my mother was a Romance language major in college and taught in high school, mostly Spanish and English .  She absolutely loved grammar.  She liked the literature part of teaching English, also (particularly Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Beowulf), but her real love was grammar.  I happened to have my sophomore and senior English classes with my mother and I credit her with giving me the kind of foundation one needs to be a writer.
       We diagrammed sentences.  I'll bet a lot of today's young people don't even know what that means.  It's supposed to be old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy stuff -- busy work.  I can't remember exactly how to do it -- it's been (gad!) somthing like 55 years since I graduated from high school! -- but as I recall ...  No!  I don't need to recall!  Wikipedia comes to the rescue again!  We did the Reed-Kellog System of diagramming -- see the article "Sentence Diagramming."  The various components of the sentence are separated out and hooked onto the parts they belong with -- a bit like shaking pottery shards through a sieve and then piecing them together.  Lots of people in my classes, I recall, found this tedious and useless and even difficult to the point of being incomprehensible.  I never found it that way.  I enjoyed it, even though I got a little bored with it at times because it was so easy!  Easy for my mother and me, at least!
       When you've practiced diagramming for a while, you come away with a picture of how a sentence works -- how it's structured, how elements modify one another.  You get a feel for how a sentence should flow, how to avoid awkward constructions and ambiguities -- how to put the elements together so the sentence makes the best sense.  Isn't that kind of knowledge a great foundation for becoming a writer?
       One thing diagramming teaches is how clauses and phrases can function as adjectives and adverbs.  And that leads me to a discussion of what actually started me down this path today -- an error you see occasionally in many writers.  It's called the dangling modifier.  What got me started on this topic was a sentence in a book I'm  currently reading; I won't quote it exactly, but I'll paraphrase it.  The setting is the 12th century. "Never having learned the art of writing, a scribe penned some words for me to send to my father." Strange that the scribe had never learned the art of writing! The author might better have written: "Never having learned the art of writing, I asked a scribe to pen some words for me to send ... etc." Or, "Since I had never learned the art of writing, I asked a scribe, etc."

       The basic rule for this situation is this: a participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence always modifies the subject.  If you were diagramming this sentence, you would be forced to think, what does this clause or phrase really modify?  And you would quickly realize that it modifies the scribe, a condition that just doesn't make sense. 

       Sometimes these kinds of errors can be really funny.  Here are some examples, some of which are adapted from Wikipedia (article: Dangling modifiers -- sources of the quotations are cited there).

The dangling prepositional phrase:
"After years of being lost under a pile of dust, Walter P. Stanley found all the old records of the Bangor Lions Club."  (Wow, I'll bet that man sneezed a lot!)  If you diagrammed that sentence, you would realize that "after years" should modify the verb "found" because it tells when he found the items -- it's an adverbial usage, and a pretty awkward one at that.  When it's dangled at the beginning of the sentence, it appears to modify Mr. Stanley.

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know." – Groucho Marx.  (Needs no comment!)

"As a mother of five, and with another on the way, my ironing board is always up." (A new phenomenon!  A pregnant ironing board!)

And then there is the always illustrative old chestnut: "For sale, chest of drawers, by lady with Hepplewhite legs."  

The dangling participial phrase:
"Walking down Main Street, the trees were beautiful."
"Reaching the station, the sun came out."  (In both of these, the item to be modified isn't even present in the sentence.)

"I saw the trailor peeking through the window." (A voyeristic trailor! How paranormal can you get?)  In this case, all you need to do is move the participial phrase to the beginning of the sentence. 

And one more, which illustrates another point I wanted to make:
"Roaring down the track at seventy miles an hour, the stalled car was smashed by the train."
Obviously, it wasn't the car that was roaring down the track.  This demonstrates how easy it is to make this error when the passive voice is involved.  All you have to do is change the main clause of the sentence to active voice: "the train smashed the stalled car."

       Why don't you try rewriting some of these examples so they make sense and flow smoothly?  Visit the Wikipedia article cited if you should be interested in reading more examples.  And sensitize yourself to the connections between modifiers and the thing modified.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Post on Posts 2: What Deserves Another Look

       Since I wrote the first "Post on Posts" on August 1, the item on formatting with CreateSpace has jumped from 101 views to 114! Hyphenation in CreateSpace seems to  be a popular search topic this week, and I'm also getting hits for Smashwords problems.

       However, what I want to talk about today is some of the disappointments.    What I call my Nostalgia posts (reminiscences about some elements of family history) fell flat. Only "My Grandmother's Indian Head" (24 views just since July 18) attracted any attention (and also some of the more mystifying search terms.  When people searched "plaster Indian busts," "bust of skin cote," and "1800s Indian head plaster bust," was it simply a generic search or were they looking for my post?  Awfully specific terms!)  I'm glad people enjoyed that one!  But you might also enjoy the Christmas post on my mother's Christmas card collection (7 views) and the later one I wrote on my mother's experiences teaching out on the Colorado prairie during the 1930s Dust Bowl (11 views).
      The lesser-viewed posts include some of the topics that are the most important to me. The posts on the use of epigraphs and poetry in literature have been duds. Please do give them a try if you have any interest at all in poetry: The Use of Epigraphs in Literature (16 views), and Of Poetry and Epigraphs, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 (15 and 9 views respectively).
       My biggest disappointment is that very few people have taken an interest in the Mythmaker philosophy that underlies the 30th century ethic. I promised that I would elaborate, but I haven't done that yet because one cannot lightly toss off a piece of this depth.  That one post has gotten up to 17 views, however, and I encourage people to read my Future History and then give the Precepts a look.  They are intended to make you think.
       I was pleased to find that I've had 9 page views in the last week on my discussion of why Evangeline Walton is important to me, which brings all-time views to 23.  I attribute this to an exchange about the Mabinogion that I had on someone else's blog, namely, Pechorin's Journal, which is one of the best literary book review blogs I've found.  
       Another disappointment is "You Say Alien and I Say Extraterrestrial. Plus a Follow-up on "My Future History" -- a measly 4 views of what is an interesting, debatable, and even controversial subject. Maybe the fact it came right before Christmas played a part in that. It includes my opinion on the illegal "alien" debate. 
       The earlier posts, such as What Are the Termite People Really Like? (only 8 views), Why Do I Write about Termites? (6 views), and the sequence of three posts beginning with An Introduction to My Non-Termite ETs ...  (8, 6, and 18 views respectively) are certainly worthy of more interest, and I would hope that this summary might send some of you back to them!  Those posts are quite important for a clear understanding of all my books, should you ultimately decide to read them!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: "I Never Came to You in White," by Judith Farr

       I have had a policy that I was not going to post book reviews here, but I'm changing my mind.  It's a way to make this blog more literary and give it variety.  I recently posted this review on Amazon and Goodreads.  The author is a Professor Emerita from Georgetown and an authority on the life and works of Emily Dickinson.  When I was doing the "permissions grind," one of the poems I wanted to use was by Léonie Adams and I traced the holder of the copyright to Prof. Farr.  She graciously allowed me to use the poem at no charge, and we struck up an email acquaintance.  I bought her novel on the youthful Emily Dickinson, and here is my review of it.

A Beautifully Conceived Epistolary Novel about Emily Dickinson

        This is a novel – a piece of fiction.  I want to stress that fact because some people seem offended (or confused) that a noted scholarly authority on the subject of the poet Emily Dickinson would have fictionalized her life.  Yet I doubt if many readers object to fictionalized renditions of the lives of Shakespeare or Byron or Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  Sometimes the dry facts of scholarship and perfectly edited scholarly editions of letters don’t bring the subject to life as a novel can.  And bringing Emily to life, to say nothing of her era (which is becoming more and more remote by the day to modern young people), is just what Prof. Farr has done.
       First, let me say that the epistolary form is perfect for this story; it allows the same events to be viewed from differing perspectives and keeps the author’s POV invisible.
       The symbolism of wearing white pervades the story.  At Mary Lyon’s repressive seminary for young girls in puritan-dominated New England of the 1840s, emphasis is placed on “declaring for Christ” and ensuring one’s place in heaven as part of the Chosen.  (Ironically, cramming love-starved young girls together in one place encourages lesbian tendencies to flower, and it is even more ironic that the Headmistress herself is revealed to have “sinned” in this way herself as a young woman.)  Mention is made of the white robes donned in Revelations after they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.  Emily chooses to wear white even though she has not “declared for Christ”; it’s a symbol of her faith, but her god is not Christ the Lamb but the “Master” – Poetry, Inspiration, Imagination, the Muse.  The nature of the “Master” seems perfectly clear to me, especially at the very end of the book.
       One of her letters to Sue (for whom she has a lesbian passion as a 17-year-old) contains one of the most important passages in the book: “I would declare for Christ if I could feel his presence in my heart as you do, and Abiah does.  What I feel in my heart is a speaking Silence that is holy enough.  But hush! tell no one of it.  I have heeded beautiful tempters.  The Angel of my Annunciation the Testament does not speak of.  I never came to you in white.  Therefore, you really do not know me yet, Sue.”  When Emily goes to the entity that is her personal god, she does go in white – her poetic gifts automatically make her one of the Chosen.  Sue is not yet fully Emily’s object of worship and unfortunately turns out to be unworthy of Emily’s love.  And ultimately who can say which god is more real – Christ or the Muse?  Perhaps one could view the two as one thing.
       It is the inner life of Emily Dickinson that we glimpse here, and that is what really matters with a poet of her stature.  Recommended for anyone who loves good poetry and has an interest in poets and what makes them the special creatures that they are.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sample Chapter 22 from "The War of the Stolen Mother"

FOR AUGUST 19, 2012!

[You can read Chapters 2-8 at my Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head blog, but I decided to post Chapter 22 here where I think more people will find it.  This is a very funny chapter and if you can resist it ...well, you have no sense of humor! It shows Za'dut our trickster and A'zhu'lo the twin of Ki'shto'ba as they undertake to steal the na'ka'fi'zi -- the Holy Stone Image that keeps the fortress of Thel'or'ei safe (equivalent to the Palladium -- the statue of Pallas Athena that protected the citadel of Troy).  The "magic skins" mentioned at the beginning are solar-powered thermal blankets that Kaitrin Oliva gave to Ki'shto'ba and Di'fa'kro'mi before they set out on their quest to help keep them warm and cool.  It developed that these blankets also have the property of suppressing the big termites' bioelectric fields that make them perceptible to their fellows (thus functioning as the time-honored "cloaks of invisibility").]

On a warm, starlit evening with no moons shining to aid the sight of watchful Alates, the Tricky Lizard and the Twin of Ki’shto’ba, accoutered in the magic skins, set out on their mission.  A’zhu’lo’s skin fit well enough with a little tucking down the middle, but Za’dut’s had to be folded in half crosswise because my wings are so much longer than a Worker’s body; and it had to be doubled under at the edges and tied on, because it had no leg holes like Ki’shto’ba’s.  It made a rather clumsy package, even covering most of Za’dut’s head, with the antennae sticking out comically from under the edges, but extensive practice had rendered Za’dut adept at managing it.
 We said goodbye to them with care, uncertain whether they would ever return.  Ki’shto’ba was anxious, I am sure, although it hid it well. 
Twa’sei said, “I could go with you.  I am very quick and small and hard to notice.”
Za’dut whirled its antennae.  “And weak and helpless, too.  A Grower!  How much stone can you carry?”
“I am not helpless!” said Twa’sei.  “I used to cart big loads of fungus around.  I could do a lot more than anyone thinks.  I still have not had my adventure.”
Ki’shto’ba patted its helper’s belly comfortingly.  “Do not be upset, little one.  Your place is with me, helping me worry about our reckless friends.  Is that not an important task?  There will be plenty of adventures for all of us, if what Ju’mu tells us about its homeland is the truth.”
Wei’tu said to A’zhu’lo, “It is you and not your twin who will perform the wonder in this land, good Companion.”
But A’zhu’lo said, “It will not be a wonder, or worth remembering.  It is simply something that has to be done and I was the luckless one fated to do it.”
I took Za’dut aside.  “I never know exactly what you intend, dut’zei|, but if you abandon A’zhu’lo or get it in more trouble than is necessary, you will pay for it somehow.”
Za’dut scuffed its claws.  “I am crushed, kind Remembrancer.  Do you think I have no scruples at all?  Well, perhaps I do not!  But I do have feelings.  I think you alone know that, Di’fa’kro’mi.”
I did know that, and I gave it a cuff on the head and sent them both off.
*          *          *
Now, Chi’mo’a’tu, now I am going to try that different narrative technique again!  We will see what you think of it this time.
In order to stay out of sight as long as possible, Za’dut and A’zhu’lo passed down the shbu’cha’zei| siege line toward the west until they reached the swampy margin of the river, which was heavily grown with sweet grass and shbis’mu|.  They tried to move speedily, heading for the place where the perimeter wall intersected the apron of the fortress, but the thick vegetation made for slow going.  They had agreed to speak as little as possible and to communicate frequently by touch.  The magic skins suppressed their perception of each other as effectively as others’ of them.
However, suddenly A’zhu’lo exclaimed, “Ouch!”
“What?  Keep still!” said Za’dut.
“Something stung my posterior.”
Simultaneously, Za’dut hopped in the air.  tha’sask|>||  There are still shto’ug’zei| above ground on this mucky shore!  Maybe that will hurry us up!”
They tried to scamper, but quick movement was next to impossible.  They continually had to shake off the biters; the ground was soggy and the leaf-edges of the shbis’mu| were sharp as a mandible.  They were not sorry to reach the area below the wall, where the growth had been cleared.  Here they paused, sensing the hulking rampart above them, knowing that Warriors roamed the top of it and that there might also be Star-Winged sentries there. 
“What is the matter now?” asked A’zhu’lo.
Za’dut was wriggling frantically.  “I have a to’ug’zei| under the magic skin.  It is burrowing between my thorax and the first belly segment!”
“Into the water!  It might flush it out.”
They made a dash for it and plunged into the river at their left.  The bank was sharply cut, but the depth was only about the length of a Shi.  There was a considerable current, but fortunately they had trained not only in stagnant pools but in the flowing river.  In spite of this preparation, they had to paddle desperately to keep afloat – and then an undertow banged them into the apron’s buttress, which was rooted in the bed of the river.
They succeeded in maneuvering around the buttress, clinging to it with their claws.  On the other side they surfaced, swinging dripping antennae to orient themselves.  Locating the bank, they hauled themselves up by grabbing hold of bis’mu| roots.
“Wonderful!  I lost it!” said Za’dut, contorting its body.
“Lost what?” said A’zhu’lo, sprawled heaving on its belly.
“The biter, you idiot!”
“Whew!  That is not an experience I want to repeat often!”
“Well, you will have to do it once more, and with a heavy bag in tow, and against the current!”
A’zhu’lo huffed, water squirting from its spiracles.  They checked their gear, adjusted straps, felt out their surroundings.  The flank of the fortress itself stretched away to the left, the apron to the right.  There was no sign of any guards on the ground.  Za’dut gloated.
The shore sloped upward steeply and was covered with young shoots of ti’re| and old waterlogged shbis’mu| bushes.  They climbed to the wall and worked themselves along it.
“Where is the culvert opening in relation to this point?” asked A’zhu’lo.
“I have no idea.”
“You have no idea?”
“No!  I came only half a length out of it!  But it does not matter!  When we exit, we simply remember to bear to the left!”
“What if it is on the other side of the postern where we first entered Thel’or’ei?  If we bear left, we will run into the guards!”
“Uh …  I truly do not think it is.  Trust me, A’zhu’lo!  I have a Builder’s instincts!”  To forestall further discussion of this discomfiting topic, Za’dut continued hastily, “A’zhu’lo, will you defecate for me?”
“Defecate!  I want to smear Da’no’no Shshi dung on my scent glands.  You may not smell exactly like a thel’or’ei’zei|, but you smell more like one than I do!  I do not want anyone to know who was in the shrine, but if I had dabbed myself before we left, the river would have washed me clean.  Will you hurry up?”
Infuriated, A’zhu’lo retorted, “I am trying!  Why did you not warn me about this?  I would have eaten more and closer to when we left.”
When this annoying diversion was completed, Za’dut said, “Let us begin to climb here.”
“Why here?”
“One place is as good as another.  It is all up and ends at the top.”
A’zhu’lo huffed again.  They searched out chinks between the building stones, dug in their claws, and began to climb. 
“This is very steep,” said A’zhu’lo.  “How can you Builders do this all the time?”
“I have no idea.  But Warriors have superior muscles and formidable claws, although not quite so hooked as a proper Builder’s.  Have courage, my valiant Da’no’no Companion!”
A’zhu’lo muttered some unintelligible imprecations.  They continued to climb.  It was joint-numbing work and occasionally they stopped to rest, clinging with one set of claws at a time.  At length they sensed odors above and they slowed, feeling their way cautiously.
“What is this?” said A’zhu’lo, groping with its antennae.  “The wall projects outward!”
“The edge of the first terrace.  tha’sask|>||  I did not know it overhung the lower part of the wall!”
“It seems to me you did not know anything!”
“Bosh!  This is not a real obstacle!  Stick your claws into the mortar and pull yourself up!”
“Help!  I am swinging free!”
“Hush your antennae!  Pull up your belly!”
tha’sask|>||  My head is heavier than your whole puny body!”
But they both managed to pull themselves over the rim and fall in a heap on the inside.  With the luck of the neophyte, they found no guards nearby.  They lay very still, getting their breaths, monitoring their surroundings.
Then they both detected a sentry approaching.  “This way!” hissed Za’dut, and they scrambled to crouch against the inner wall.  A single guard passed by, walking close to the battlement.  It hesitated, cast about as if it sensed something it could not identify, then passed on, satisfied that nothing was amiss.
They both relaxed in relief, then Za’dut said, “Up again!”
A’zhu’lo projected a desperate sizzle and began to climb.  “You said, my short-thinking comrade, that this way would be easier than mounting the inside of the culvert.”
“Well, perhaps I was wrong, but I still think going in one way and out another is a good idea.  And there was the problem of tracking in filth.  Now keep climbing!”
“And what else can I do, pray tell?”
The size of the building stones was growing smaller; the higher Builders have to climb during the construction of an edifice, the less they can carry.  This made it easier for the climbers to find places to hook their claws.  They discovered a good many plants and vines growing in the chinks, bespeaking a lack of wall maintenance in the besieged fortress.  There were also some alarming cracks and gaps between the stones, some of which even seemed to have fallen out.
“The groundquakes,” said Za’dut.  “I think this impregnable fortress is much less sound than it appears.”
They reached the second terrace.  The overhang there was not so extreme and they had less trouble getting over it – only to tumble into the midst of a flock of shza’zei| that were being stabled out-of doors.  With them were two Herders, both of whom were sleeping obliviously a short distance away.  Fortunately, shza’zei| cannot speak (if their primitive antennae emit any kind of sending, Shshi cannot detect it), so there was nothing to wake the Herders.  But all Little Ones have eyes and they immediately swarmed around these two interlopers in great curiosity, poking them with their antennae and trying to climb on them.  To make things worse, the Thieves began to sense the approach of a guard some distance away.  Desperate, they made a break for it, scattering the Little Ones in all directions, and bolted up the wall.
They continued to the third level where to their great relief they found no guards, no shza’zei|, and no adventure, and they began the final ascent to the eye at the top of the sacred shrine of Thel’or’ei.
They reached it and snuffled around, clinging to the edge of the hole.  The wall here was made of smooth dressed stone and was very sheer. 
“I think there is nobody inside,” said Za’dut.  “I expected that.”
“I thought perhaps Ta’hat’a’pai would be waiting for us,” said A’zhu’lo.
“I did not.  If her Seeing told her we are coming, she will be sure to be somewhere very public, like the Holy Chamber, so nobody can suspect her of …  What?”
“Za’dut, you idiot!  You said the hole was big enough!”
“Is it not?” said Za’dut in alarm.
“I say again, you forgot I have a Da’no’no Shshi Warrior’s head!  My cranium will not begin to pass through this hole!”
Za’dut shoved A’zhu’lo aside and thrust its own head into the hole.  It fit with room to spare.  It turned and began to feel the head of A’zhu’lo, who twitched and wriggled away. 
“Stop pawing me, you dolt!”
“Put your belly in first.”
“What good would that do?  I would be left hanging by my head like a stopper in a water vessel!”
“That is humorous to contemplate!  Can you not wriggle … ?
tha’sask|>||  The head of a Warrior is like a stone!  You cannot wriggle it – it is not flexible!”
There was a moment of wordlessness while A’zhu’lo huffed in despair.  “Am I going to have to climb back down?  That would be worse than climbing up!  I would certainly fall to my death!”
“No, I cannot steal this thing without you.  Here, I know!”  Za’dut began to scrabble about on the rim of the hole.  “The mortar is half washed out from between these stones.  I can pull out a couple and then wedge them back in.  No one will notice, at least not right away.”  As it scraped the cracks with its mandibles, Za’dut swung its antennae in grim amusement.  “How ironic if removing stones from the apex of the fortress made the whole edifice fall down in a heap!  That would be justice!”
“Huh!  Justice!” said A’zhu’lo sourly.  “Tei’mo’ma’na’ta would be buried and we would be crushed to a pulp!”
“True enough,” returned Za’dut with brisk indifference.  “There!  Stick your head in and see how it is now.”
“It still scrapes on this side here.  But I think – yes, it is through!    Za’dut!  I cannot get it back out!  Nameless One, help me!”
Za’dut was clutching the dislodged stones with two legs while swinging precariously from two others.  The rear pair was flailing at the slippery surface of the cone.  The claws hooked over the hole rim were getting squashed between A’zhu’lo’s head and the stones.
“Pull your body through!  Jump!” cried Za’dut.
“What if somebody is down there?” came A’zhu’lo’s muffled sending from inside the hole.
“There was nobody just now.  You will have to take the chance!”

This is one of my earliest drawings (dated 2003). It
could use some work.
A’zhu’lo wriggled frantically, trying to get its legs through the hole.  Za’dut swung its body around and whacked A’zhu’lo’s posterior with its own belly.  The Da’no’no Shi sizzled madly as its cerci disappeared through the opening.
Za’dut hoisted itself and thrust its head into the hole.  tha’sask|>||  This is the last time I ever include a Warrior in one of my tricks!  A’zhu’lo!  Are you receiving me?”
In a moment came the sending, “I receive you.  It was not so far down, but I landed right on top of the na’ka’fi’zi|.  Nearly speared myself on the damned mandible parts.”
“You were supposed to jump a little to the side.”
“When somebody is smacking your rear end and your legs are being scraped off, you do not have much leisure for choosing your landing site!”
“Is the image all right?”
“I think so.  And I believe I am, too, thank you very much.”
Za’dut hastily wedged the loose stones back into their sockets.  “Hold on!  I am coming down!”  And it jumped into the unknown.
It landed on top of A’zhu’lo and they rolled, coming to rest against the na’ka’fi’zi|, which had been knocked over in the scramble. 
“We were supposed to not do a lot of thumping,” said Za’dut reproachfully.  “Might alert the guards.”
A’zhu’lo simply cursed its annoyance.  The eyeless ones could sense but not see the hollow emptiness that surrounded them.  Above the hole in the ceiling the eye of the Nameless Mother was not watching.  They pulled themselves together and assessed their situation.
There was no indication that anyone had detected them.  They straightened their magic skins, which seemed undamaged, and checked their gear.  A’zhu’lo extracted the mesh bag from a pouch under the skin and they tried to wrestle the na’ka’fi’zi| into it.
They found that the stone was mortared into a base, which had also tipped over when image fell.  The base was heavy and would not fit into the bag.  Desperate, Za’dut started chipping at the mortar while A’zhu’lo applied pressure to the joint.
“I cannot get over how well you had all of this thought out,” A’zhu’lo grumbled.
“Keep still and push!”
Finally the stone broke free from the base and they maneuvered the image into the bag.
“Where is this drainage duct?” said A’zhu’lo.  “I suppose we will find they have plugged it up.”
“Very humorous!  It is right here.  I will remove the cover.”
Za’dut did so and A’zhu’lo dived into the culvert, dragging the na’ka’fi’zi| after it.  Za’dut followed posterior first and replaced the cover.  There was just enough room for it to turn around.  “Go, A’zhu’lo!”
It did so.  “At least you were right about the size of this shaft.  My head actually fits inside it.  I am amazed – you finally got something right!”
“Will you stop your carping?  I am getting tired of it!”
They scuttled along with the na’ka’fi’zi| between them.  The stone was heavy and kept sliding faster than A’zhu’lo could move so that it was continually bumping its rear end.  Za’dut tried to restrain it with its mandibles.  “Turn around and back down, A’zhu’lo.  That famous inflexible head of yours would hold the stone back more efficiently than your tails do.”
“No room to turn around,” grunted A’zhu’lo.  “Ouch!  I have a biter sting on a cercus.”
“Wait.  Stop a minute.  We’re coming to the first turn.”
“Turn!  You never said anything about turns!”
“What was there to say?  It actually broadens a bit here.  Try turning around now.”
A’zhu’lo squirmed and writhed and succeeded in reversing its orientation.  “There is a hole above me.”
“It is an intake from one of the levels.  Speak nothing!  Someone might be up there.”
They continued with A’zhu’lo backing along, controlling the stone’s slide with its labrum and mandibles.  The passageway began to level out midway along so that sometimes it was necessary to pull the stone or at least nudge it into motion.  They made two more turns.  One was tight and both the na’ka’fi’zi| and A’zhu’lo’s head became stuck, but they managed to work everything through.  There was a lot of fresh dung along with spoiled honeydew in this part of the culvert and soon both of them, as well as the holy image within its mesh bag, were liberally smeared.
Then they came to the fourth turn and Za’dut said, “Hold up!”
“This is the entrance to the second level where I left the duct the first time.  I want to go in again.  There is something I need to do.”
“Go in!” cried A’zhu’lo incredulously.  “What for?  I do not want … ”
“I said nothing about your going in.  Remember how I was forced to leave my tools behind when we fled?  I want to recover them.”
“Your tools?  I cannot believe what I am receiving!”
“I nearly broke a mandible prying this stone off its base!  Imagine how much easier it would have been if I had had my tools!”
  “You would jeopardize this whole enterprise just for … ?  Besides, you do not even know what has become of them!”
“Yes, I do.  There was a cubbyhole in the wall of our sleeping chamber, and I stashed my tools there behind a stone.  I would wager anything they are still there.”
“But you do not know what the room is being used for now!”
“If it is occupied, I will simply turn around and leave.”
“You miserable little runt!  You are enjoying this!”
“Of course I am, my stone-headed Companion!  Now wait for me!”
“What if you fail to come back?”
Za’dut hesitated.  “Wait a reasonable period and then … ”
“What is a reasonable period?  There are no water vessels here!”
“I do not know.  Use your own judgment.  But if I should not …  Then go on alone, A’zhu’lo.  Do not be concerned for me.  No one ever is.”
And Za’dut was gone, leaving A’zhu’lo muttering distractedly to itself.  “‘No one is ever concerned for me.’  I do not know whether to find that humorous or pathetic.  How long should I wait?  I hope the Charnel Workers do not use this hole to dump rotten corpse leavings.  There is a limit to what one can endure …  tha’sask|>||  This stone is getting heavier.  I am skidding!  Za’dut, where are you?” 
The stone continued to slip inexorably claw-length by claw-length, forcing A’zhu’lo downward before it.  Soon A’zhu’lo could not feel the air current from the exit hole.  “What if it does not come back?  How can I leave it?  Should I go looking for it?  I am sure I would get caught, magic skin or no.  I am not adept at skulking and hiding like that da’sask| rascally little worm.  But how can I leave it without at least attempting a rescue? 
“I am sure Ki’shto’ba would not leave it behind.  My ni’a’zei| probably could have stopped it from behaving like such an idiot …  Ki’shto’ba wanted to surname me ‘Good Protector’ …  I could scramble over the na’ka’fi’zi|, I think, but how could I keep it from slithering all the way down while I am gone?  Maybe hook the ties over a projecting stone …  I shall have to try to rescue the little pest – it is one of the Twelve, of Ki’shto’ba’s Twelve …  ‘No one is ever concerned for me,’ it said … ”
A’zhu’lo succeeded in clawing its way across the stone, which immediately started slipping away.  The Warrior caught the bag loops in its mandibles and hung on, desperately feeling about for a projection.  Then it sensed and smelled a presence some distance behind. 
It was Za’dut.  “A’zhu’lo!  Where are you?”
“Ah … ”  A’zhu’lo let its head sink to the mucky floor.  “Here I am!”
Za’dut scrambled down the shaft.  “Why are you all the way down here?  tha’sask|>|| Where is the image?  Oh, on the other side …  What is it doing down there?”
“It kept slipping and pushing me ahead.  And I was … well, I was coming back to look for you, you blasted nuisance!”
“You were?  I told you not to do that.”
“You said, ‘Nobody is ever concerned about me.’  You miserable insect, that is not true, you know!”
Neither spoke for a moment.  Then Za’dut said, “Well!  Perhaps …  I thank you, friend A’zhu’lo.  I am sorry – I thought … I still think … oh, never mind!  Here, I got the tools!  What did I tell you?”
“What happened?” said A’zhu’lo a little shakily.
“Nobody noticed me skulking along the corridor.  They are using the room for honeydew storage and there was no guard.  The tools were right where I left them.  Our supply of simples was gone, but of course it was right out in plain sight.  I had a good drink of ti’wa’zi|.  Do you want some?”
“I … yes, it would taste good.”
Za’dut regurgitated and fed A’zhu’lo, who gulped and sizzled.  “I had forgotten how inferior the honeydew is in Thel’or’ei.”
“Yes, disgusting!  But at least it quenches the thirst.”
“Sliding!  Sliding again!  Help!”
Together A’zhu’lo and Za’dut skidded down the corridor, hauling on the bag.  Finally they got it stopped.
“We make a halfway decent team,” said Za’dut gruffly.
“You may be the death of me, though.  Come on, we should get this over with.”
Quickly they negotiated the steep final segment of the culvert and came at last within sensing distance of the exit.  They hauled desperately on the stone, fearing it would tumble out of the aperture, but a lip on the edge halted its progress.  After scenting for danger and finding none, they pushed the na’ka’fi’zi| over the lip.  It caught and hung in the shbis’mu|, which had grown thick here because of the fertilizing wastes that washed out of the culvert.  They skittered after the image and caught and hung as well, the sharp leaves of the five-claw plant slicing their softer parts.
Cool night air swept refreshingly over them as they clawed their way out of the bushes onto a bed of fresh, sweet grass.  An eye of the Nameless Mother had just risen above the horizon to gaze at them, but they could not see it.
“Well!” said Za’dut.  “The holy image is outside the walls.  Do you think they will fall down?”
“I hope they wait until we are clear of them!”
A cautious check of the air revealed a distant reek of Warriors to their right, reassuring them that the postern entrance was located as Za’dut had predicted.  They extricated the stone from the bushes and eased it along the margin of the river until they sensed the apron looming before them, then let it slide into the water and plunged in after it. 
Then the hardest part of the adventure began.  The stone sank – well, like a stone – and transporting it along the bottom against the current was even more difficult than they had expected.  The bed was covered with rocks that had fallen into the river during the construction of the fortress, and it was overgrown with projecting roots of shbis’mu| and tangles of water plants.  Little water creatures flitted around them, tickling their setae distractingly.  The only advantage was that the stone anchored them and there was no danger of getting swept downstream. 
Finally they succeeded in maneuvering the image beyond the apron and they hauled it up on the bank, where it showed alarming signs of sinking into the swampy ground.  A’zhu’lo hoisted it onto its head, the first time it had been able to carry it in a proper manner, and they made a ponderous dash for cover. 
*          *          *
At the west end of the siege line we were all waiting for them – Ki’shto’ba and Nei’ga’bao and other Chiefs of the shbu’cha’zei|, along with Wei’tu and Twa’sei and myself.
Then at long last Za’dut and A’zhu’lo staggered into view.  “We are expecting the walls to fall at any moment!” cried our Little Thief.  “For here it is!  The center post of Thel’or’ei!”
A’zhu’lo threw off its burden, an amorphous lump in a filthy bag, with streamers of weeds caught in the muddy mesh, along with a long, blue water-worm that squirmed unpleasantly.  Everyone gathered around the object, knowing neither what to expect nor how to feel.
But Nei’ga’bao Swift-Foot cried, “My noble friends!  You have worked a miracle!”
Then Ki’shto’ba jumped on its twin and they rolled happily together in spite of A’zhu’lo’s befouled condition.
“What is that you are carrying, Za’dut?” asked Wei’tu, snuffling the Thief with delicate distaste.
“My tools!  Di’fa’kro’mi, my tools that you made me leave behind!  I got them, too!”
“Was it difficult, A’zhu’lo?” asked Ki’shto’ba, paying no attention to Za’dut.  “Did you have any close calls?”
“Routine!” interjected Za’dut, snapping its claws.  “Would you not agree, A’zhu’lo?”
A’zhu’lo bounced and then sank exhaustedly to the ground.  “Oh, yes, of course!  Routine!  Just do not ask me to do it again!  But … ”  It wagged its antennae.  “If we ever must do such a thing again, we should enlist this crazy dut’zei|.  It is the only individual I know of who could make a success of such an unlikely adventure!”