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Question about the extra material


How could you do that to Joslire/us?  (Significant Spoilers)

Is Aznir culture really that baroque?

What’s all this “firstborn and eldest” stuff?

What is up with the Malcontent, anyway?

I’m dying to hear all about arpac-fowl.  Really.


There are vignettes, Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor, even novellas available as extras for some novels, but not for others.  What is up with that?!!

Well, er, if there is any material, it’s posted.  For AN EXCHANGE OF HOSTAGES, for example, there are no missing scenes or material that was cut from the novel between the draft and the final published version, unless you count the one where — never mind.  (return to top)

There’s a gap of more than four years between PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE and HOUR OF JUDGEMENT. What happened during that time?

There’s a lot of ground to cover with Andrej Koscuisko’s arrival on the Ragnarok and his adjustment to Captain Lowden, Security Chief Stildyne, and Serge of Wheatfields, not to mention the other personalities involved. I think of this as “Ghost Novel Ragnarok,” though it’s going to be more of a series of novellas than a formal novel in structure.  You can find a novella covering some of this material here on this site.  Other material will be posted as it gets written!  (return to top)

(SPOILERS) It hasn’t been the same for me since Joslire left the story. Why did you do that, anyway? Are you going to write more about Joslire?

It’s never the same after someone you’ve been close to “leaves the story.” Joslire continues to be an important part of Andrej’s life. I’m working on a novella from early in the Scylla years that features Joslire; I’ll post a link here when it’s completed (it’ll be loaded elsewhere on this site). My short story “Insubordination,” published in Mike Resnick’s anthology “New Faces in Science Fiction,” features Joslire versus a former Student of Assignment; and there’s some Joslire material in the “Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor,” link to be provided.

And it’s not my fault. The first Koscuisko novel I ever wrote was The Inquisitor’s Cup (first draft 1979). Then I worked back from there to The Devil and Deep Space, back one step further to Hour of Judgment, forward to Blood Enemies, and only then went back to the beginning with An Exchange of Hostages. Joslire didn’t come into the story at all until the first draft of An Exchange of Hostages, thirteen or fourteen years ago.

When he did, he identified for me (finally) some reasons behind details in Andrej’s background that I knew were there but had never exactly figured out, such as what a man of Andrej’s social class would be doing with something as low-class as throwing knives and why he was so attached to them. At the same time Joslire’s participation in the story had clearly come to a traumatic end somewhere between “An Exchange of Hostages” and “Hour of Judgment,” by which time Robert St. Clare was still there and Joslire wasn’t.

That background, including the traumatic event that separated Joslire from the story-line, was simply too important a part of who Andrej is by that time for me to be able to skew the story-line to preserve a character that I loved. An integral part of Andrej’s character is the fact that somebody that he loved was killed in an ambush that was meant for him, and that Andrej had to be the one to let Joslire go.

It’s made him a little intense on the subject of assassination attempts: he understands why people would want to kill him, and he doesn’t take it particularly personally; but if you touch a single hair on the head of one of his Security while you’re trying to kill him, he is going to be really, really unreasonable about the whole thing.  (return to top)

Azanry culture seems pretty repressed. Surely people don’t live that way every day?

In Andrej’s class, they do. Check out the Infamous Linen Document for a glimpse at one aspect of Dolgorukij courting rituals…  (return to top)

Clearly, Dolgorukij refer to their family and other relations differently than I do. Please help me understand all the different forms of address.

Dolgorukij are fussy about titles. You might want to check out discussion of “Firstborn and Eldest” elsewhere on this site; which only scratches the surface of a subject dear to the heart of everyone on Azanry.  (return to top)

What is up with the Malcontent, anyway?

Saint Andrej Malcontent is the patron saint of the perverts of the Dolgorukij Combine.

In his life the Malcontent — a petty princeling, and one of Andrej Koscuisko’s ancestors — was a chronic drunk, and a thoroughly dissolute person who resisted the efforts of the Autocrat to increase central government control of — and influence over — the lives of the peasants he owned or for whom he was responsible (the difference is difficult to detect, amongst Dolgorukij).

One of the many perverse acts committed by the Malcontent was a famous incident in which two farmers were brought before him to be punished by fire for homosexual behavior. Sitting in judgment over them, required by canon law to have the sinners burned alive for their blatant disrespect of the Holy Mother, the Malcontent refused to execute his lawful duty.

“The Holy Mother herself has loved bodies such as these,” he is supposed to have said. “How then dare I damage so cruelly what has been found beautiful in Her eyes?” Releasing the farmers, he kept them in his own household, permitting them to live under the same roof as his own family and protecting them from reprisals — to the immense disgust of the Church.

Such defiance of the power of the Church could not long be tolerated. The Malcontent soon added defiance of the secular authority to his list of crimes. He refused to permit his people to be pressed for taxes to support the Autocrat’s court, and instigated a tax revolt that was ultimately resolved only by concessions from the Autocrat — which concessions are claimed by some as the Malcontent’s first miracle.

How, where, why, and if he died are subjects hotly debated in ecclesiastical circles even today, more than eight hundred years after the disputed fact.

Some say he was killed during the fighting associated with the tax revolt.

Some say he died of natural causes as a result of an excess of wine and cold weather.

Some say he was murdered in his bed by the homosexual lovers he had refused to kill, who took the sin upon themselves to prevent his capture and execution by burning — the fate from which he had saved them.

And some say he was lifted bodily into Heaven by the hand of the Holy Mother Herself, who never stopped loving him for his unquestioned devotion to her worship, proven by the jealous care he took of her children — regardless of his unfilial behavior toward the Autocrat and the Church.

Whatever the cause of death, it was not long before miracles began to occur at the crypt in which he either was or was not buried; and the Malcontent’s miracles were of a peculiar nature from the first.

In his life he had been characterized by a blatant disregard for peoples’ politics or religious opinions; he was notoriously interested only in whether they had enough to eat and were warm and dry.

In his death he wrought miracles of reconciliation: societal misfits of every sort came to the tomb of the Malcontent to seek relief from the suffering their deviance brought upon them.

The Malcontent delivered.

People who were tormented by inappropriate desires, by passions that were outside the careful limits established by a loving Church — these people could seek the Malcontent; and be no longer tormented by such desires or passions.

It would be disrespectful in the extreme to hint that the Malcontent relieved the suffering of such persons by providing a desired outlet, since such outlets would themselves naturally be obscene and intolerable.

Nevertheless the Malcontent soon gathered a grateful congregation of passionately devoted servants who were uniquely qualified to obtain information about any person, any where, any place, any time. The Autocrat’s Court and the Church recognized the usefulness of such devotion almost immediately; and for the past seven hundred years and more the Malcontent has been the secret service of the Dolgorukij Combine.

Pledged devotees of the Malcontent are “slaves” of the Malcontent, and have no legal existence.

On the one hand this removes them from legal inheritance of any kind, so that to elect the Malcontent means to lose all material possessions including any claim to material possessions. On the other hand, before slavery was outlawed under Jurisdiction, the actions of the slave were the responsibility of the master.

The slaves of the Malcontent therefore possess a limited legal immunity from negative impacts of their actions — if you have a problem with any individual Malcontent, you must take the issue up with their master; who is a saint. And who is also dead. Difficult to call into court, one way or the other.

In the present day the Malcontent is the most rigorous religious discipline within the Dolgorukij Combine. Malcontents are considered to have severed every connection between them and the rest of the world; they have no legal rights of kinship or inheritance of any sort.

The dissolution of kinship ties is of particular severity to Dolgorukij, who grant kinship ties and filial piety an importance that exceeds almost all other values.

Malcontents are honor-bound in religious duty to offer Reconciliation to any soul in pain, which naturally means that they are very filthy people (since sexual aberration is very painful to decent people). In return the slaves of the Malcontent get only one thing: whatever it is that they need.

All the children of the Holy Mother have the unalienable right to alienate all of their rights and elect the Malcontent.  The Combine has negotiated this right with the Bench as part of the “religious exceptions” that the Bench makes as reasonable accommodation for the unique requirements of individual cultures.

The Bench is also satisfied that the internal discipline of the Malcontent, the Spartan lifestyle of the slaves of the Malcontent and the unique social position it holds within the Combine makes electing the Malcontent an acceptable substitute for a sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor.

In much the same way in which it was once an occasional practice in wartime for violent offenders to be excused prosecution if they joined the Marines, children of the Holy Mother who have fallen under Jurisdiction may call upon the Malcontent for their salvation; and be released to the Malcontent’s permanent custody, contingent upon negotiation of an acceptable contract.

There have been no instances recorded under Jurisdiction of a slave of the Malcontent being returned to Jurisdiction custody. The Malcontent takes care of its own housekeeping.

Dirty linen is washed in private; but it is washed without fail, and washed thoroughly enough to satisfy the Bench that the Malcontent’s laundry serves as a genuinely effective deterrent (detergent?).  (return to top)

For other issues pertaining to the Malcontent I invite you to Ask Cousin Stanoczk, and see what happens (grin).  (return to top)

I’m dying to hear about arpac-fowl.  Really.

Arpac isn’t a goose. It’s not a turkey. It’s a flying rat, a chicken-like object that breeds like starlings, a pigeon-sized something. It may be a pigeon, for all I know. The most important thing about arpac is that it’s not factory-farmed, because it breeds like vermin and there’s no need to farm it. When it’s time to make your next shipment you just open up the processing facility doors, lay down a trail of anything that looks like it might be edible on a slow day, and wait.

Arpac-fowl processing centers are completely transportable, and they’re moved every few months from place to place so that the droppings from the mass flocks can lay down a good layer of manure that can then be plowed under for planting in the following growing cycle (but you have to give it at least several months to gas off and rot the amonnia complexes into something that won’t burn the tender roots of a bramble or a blackberry or a milkweed or a bindweed or Ghod help us an ivy, which reference points are introduced only to indicate how toxic the stuff is (but it’s like, man, totally organic)).

The lowest paid job under Jurisdiction is arpac-fowl processing inspector, because nobody wants it. The highest-paid jobs in an arpac-fowl processing facility are the line carcase gutters, because arpac-fowl is full of, er, requires a certain degree of care for effective sanitation and food-grade cleaning. The bones are springy, so the carcase can be packed into a cube for freezing, and then when it’s thawed it it still looks kind of like something you’d eat. If you eat the bones by accident and very hungry Security troops have been known to do so it won’t cause you any problem because the digestive system of a Security troop can handle battery acid and iron filings without noticeable derangement to the organism.

Arpac is good with cream sauce. It’s good broiled, especially if you can get a good carmelization of the skin, and if you can’t, heck, just paint the damned thing with brown-colored salty sauce (you can get thick brown salty sauce by the freighter-load from any Chigan supply center, it’s a staple of the Chigan diet and if you took a look at the Chigan diet you’d understand why). You can pound it to a mush (without worrying about the bones, that’s just extra nutritional value) and call it Eskevetch meat-balls. You can dry it in the sun and use it to build your house, in dry climates (which can then be very useful in lean times).

It probably shares some genetic source of origin with much more respectable eating-birds across Jurisdiction space, but if so it’s been a long, long time ago, and still and all it’s still cheaper to process arpac-fowl for Fleet stores and supplies than it is to factory-synthesize meat protein. Even Stildyne got arpac-fowl when he was a child, that’s how cheap arpac-fowl is.  (return to top)