|No Conbook this year
||[Jun. 14th, 2010|12:41 pm]
SiliCon, an SF Bay Area Science Fiction Convention
But stories nevertheless.|
There is another world.
It is cold here. When men go north they come to endless mountains of ice. In the places where they can go south they find the same.
It is deadly here. In the lands where the sun is sometimes directly overhead, trees grow to blot out the sun, and plagues are bred. Men live among the trees, but fearfully, for in such places a man is meat, no more.
It is desolate here. Between the ice and the trees there is desert, where men have raised sheep and goats forever, and their herds have eaten every green thing that held the ground in place, so that where valleys have not trapped topsoil, bedrock is exposed.
The men live in families. Women are slaves, serving men and staying pregnant until they die. When two families meet there is usually a massacre, unless they are close to equal in strength; then women may be traded for herd animals. After a massacre the losing family's males are killed, down to the infants. The losing family's women are used daily until they are pregnant.
The only concept of rape is as a form of theft, from the man who owns the woman so used.
There is no history, for there is no writing, so stories change with every telling. If any knowledge comes into existence it disappears again.
There is no security, for there is no farming, so nobody settles in one place long enough to build walls.
There is no pity, for there is nothing to spare, so it is a measure of prosperity when unwanted elders can be left behind to starve instead of being eaten. This only happens in good years. They are rare.
In cold weather, wraps are made of felted wool. Hides are sometimes used until they rot, but tanning has never been invented. There are no trees suited to the purpose.
No one has named the world. Nobody knows it is a world. It is merely where they are.
No one has named the continents. Nobody has ever come up with the concept.
No one has named the human race. Each family is The People, and all others are Enemy— or food.
To the east of the great and tideless central sea is the oldest and bitterest of all deserts, more barren even than the one to the south.
In this desert all is rock.
In some places lichens grow on the rock, until some desperate family fleeing a stronger or hungrier family comes through and the herds eat the lichens off the exposed stones.
Every few centuries enough soil builds up for a little grass to grow. Then a family may stay for a while, until all the grass is gone and the new soil washes into the sea like the rest.
In the middle of this desert was once the most fertile land on the planet. There, forgotten millennia ago, a man once tried to grow grass that men could eat, and had a dispute with another man who wanted his herds to eat the grass.
It is a world where men are animals with hands. There are no monuments anywhere, and there never have been, nor will be. Nor can be.
Even bones are gnawed by goats, excreted, and washed into the sea.
There is no sign to mark the place where Abel slew Cain.
Matthew Joseph Harrington