December 21st, 2006


Alone now, she paces the hotel room. She thinks about her training back on Darkhaven - her training at the Temple, that is, not that earlier time - and wonders what good it will do her now. She remembers the endless hours of meditation, visualizing equations and contemplating unanswerable riddles like "What is the speed of sound in a vacuum?" She knows she should meditate now, but she's too agitated. So she just recites a silent invocation to the angel Lilith for guidance, and lets it go at that.

From the window of the high-rise hotel, the lights of the Capital City gleam below. The mirror on the wall reflects a woman she barely recognizes. And that's when her wrist communicator chimes.


Our story so far:

Who or what is Lilith? Well, in Gilkesh mythology, she represents the creative force and the owtward-directed urge toward growth. She is sometimes called the Angel of Night, and some of the tribes know her by other names as well. Lilith is Eve's consort, and symbolically she is regarded as the collective bondmother of the Gilkesh people - the parent who guides us away from infancy and toward adulthood in the big universe. Eve is the prototypical birthmother; but Eve is also the Angel of Death.

The Humans also have a Lilith figure in their mythology, but she appears as a more sinister character. Recently there have been some very good studies on gender and mythology among the dimorphic races. Now, the Errioi, for example .....

Lilith? Well, everybody knows she's the angel of space travel! Because, who wants to be stuck on their homeworld forever? And that's what Lilith is all about. I mean, it was Lilith who drove Eve out of Paradise in the legend - Eve wanted to stay, because it was pleasant and comfortable, but Lilith said no, you must go out and explore the universe. You've got to grow. Because that's what life is.

In meditation, we always invoke Lilith as our guide, so that our practice will show us the right path in the world. Because that's the danger in meditation, you know? That you'll withdraw into this other space, inside yourself, and that is not the correct practice.

In pictures, Lilith is shown holding the Sword That Does Not Slay. This is the sword that keeps our souls from entering the Realm of the Dead before their time has come. It's the original non-lethal weapon.

Lilith was the Evil One. She is original sin. The Prophecies of Q'ormis teach us that Lilith drove Eve, the Great Mother, out of Paradise - and this is why the Universe is out of balance in our own time.

Lilith is growth, learning, and civilization. Without her - without the things she represents - we'd be savages, living in mud huts and birthing our babies in the woods.

Lilith is life, passion, and discovery. She's the angel of secrets and mysteries. She represents possibility, and the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

Lilith teaches us that our children must find their own way - that they cannot remain with their mothers forever. It is the hardest lesson.

Sometimes Lilith comes to me in my dreams. Sometimes she speaks to me, but I can't understand what she is saying.

Baxton Coulich

Our story so far:

It had all begun with two notes - one, an e-mail from the Human Resources department thanking him for his hard work, and the other, a yellow stickynote on the refrigerator announcing that Lirabelle had left to join a women's commune in southern Oregon, and that she wouldn't be back, and he could help himself to the TV dinners in the freezer if he was hungry.

Baxton had never been the superstitious type, but when two notes like those arrived on the same day, he figured the Universe was trying to tell him something. By the time his dinner was out of the microwave, he was on the phone to the Space Command recruiter.

The training had been tough, but hey, it was something to do. His first duty assignment had been in the communications center of a station in low Earth orbit - not very glamorous, but it was a change of scene and a steady paycheck.

With asteroid mining in full swing and Earth still adjusting to the new realities of post-Contact life, space was the place to be. There were new worlds to be explored, cultures to be encountered, exotic technologies to be studied ... oh, and money to be made. Or so they said; as a Space Command rookie, he'd have to take that one on faith. So when, about a year on, one of the guys in the comm center (and they were mostly guys) had spotted Coulich's name on a message and told him, "Hey Bax, looks like you're gonna be hanging out with the space lesbians!" - he'd taken it in stride.

The new posting was on the edge of Earth Force territory, adjoining the region of space claimed by the Gilkesh Federation. It was a small logistics base on a largely unexplored terrestrial planet about twice the diameter of Earth's Moon. Officially its main function was to provide supplies, communication, and other support for travel between the Gilkesh and Human regions. From the utterly nondescript look of the base, and the number of offices with vague names like "Joint Support Detachment", he guessed that it was home to more than a few Intelligence spooks too. But that was way beyond his clearance level and pay grade.

From what he'd seen of them, the Gilkesh weren't hard to work with. They were humanoid and looked more or less like human females; somewhere along the line, they'd evolved parthenogenesis, like the whiptail lizard and (more recently) the Komodo dragon on Earth. Their language was hard - he'd mastered a few phrases, but could never manage to pronounce those voiced gutturals. The Gilkesh themselves were capricious, subtle, and generally inscrutable ... again, he thought, not too different from human females.

You just had to know the rules, and you'd be okay. Now Pell Orner, there was a fella that didn't know the rules. He'd made the mistake of getting fresh with a Gilkesh warrior once. Pell had been all right in the end - that new arm was growing back quite nicely - but they'd still busted him to the loading docks and made him go to sensitivity training. But Baxton wasn't interested in any monkey business. He had a job to do - and that job had just started getting a whole lot more interesting.

Joint Support Detachment

Our story so far:

Two and Five stare at each other for a moment. The data don't make sense. But you can't very well put that in a report to Headquarters; in this business, if things don't make sense, you make them make sense.

"One more time," Two says, her voice raspy with fatigue. "We know their space-warping capabilities are several orders of magnitude better than they're letting on."

"Right," Five says, scratching the stubble on his left cheek.

"But this ...?" She tosses the sheets down on the desk, like a card player throwing down a bad hand. "We can't even keep a signal to Earth going. The hyperspace relay keeps losing the frequency. In a few hours we'll be incommunicado."

"It's worse than that," Five says. "Eight just reported that a Gilkesh transport aborted its mission here due to navigation problems."


Outside of the compound - which is officially an audit office - they would call each other by their covernames, but in here they address one another by their ID numbers. That's as intimate as it gets.

"You don't think it's them, do you." Five's question isn't a question.

"No," Two says, under her breath, not even wanting to say it aloud. "I think Headquarters is wrong. Of course, the Gilkesh Federation isn't politically stable - no matter what they say publicly, there are still all kinds of factional problems between the Kathrites, the Amirites, and the smaller groups. So there's always the possibility of a rogue operation. But still ... I don't think they're behind the Anomaly."

"So what do we do?"

"I'm still waiting to hear back from that one high-level mission. Seven says she'll buzz me just as soon as they touch ground on Shakti. Come on, let's go topside."

It's an impulsive decision, but for some reason she suddenly feels impulsive. As they suit up, she suddenly finds herself wondering about the man she's worked with for a year and a half, but barely knows.

The elevator reaches the surface and the airlock opens. A landing pad, radio towers, and floodlights are nearly all that's visible of the base on the surface. They walk aimlessly to the top of a small mound on the barren surface. If it were daytime (the day is ten hours long here), the stars would still be visible, but they'd have to wear glare visors to protect their eyes from the harsh light of the small, bright star that is the planet's sun. Now, though, there are only stars, and they are beautiful.

Somehow the stars look special this time. As if there are more of them in the sky. And even though it's completely against regulations, Two asks a question she's wanted to ask for a long time.

"Hey Five," she says over the helmet radio, "what's your real name?"

He never gets a chance to answer.

Solstice: "As if we were all the life there is ..."

... I should make of my heart a lodestone then,
let the flying sun go
(it will be back some day)
and pull my universe together.

I will say this to the somewhere: Let us now
as the sun rides on
down the hill of night
touch one another.

... Let us seek as our ancestors sought
some honorable cave wherein to wait
(as if there were still some waiting cave)
the long long winter out
as if we were all the life there is
and all the love.

- from 'A Solstice Incantation' by Ken McLintock (1920-2000)

Thanks for leaving us with this, Dad. You are missed.

Philip Jose Farmer question.

[Re-posted from comments; a response to sasha_feather.]

I remember reading one of Philip Jose Farmer's stories in one of the SF magazines when I was a teenager in the 70s. There was some kind of alien spaceship - the details weren't important - that appeared over the Earth and slowly, inexorably began erasing people's memories.

The story was set in the near future (i.e., now) when electronic calendars were commonplace, and at first everybody thought there was a bug in the software that was making the calendars skip dates. Then they gradually realized that their own memories were vanishing - beginning with the most recent events, and gradually working backward. Finally the characters realize that the situation is hopeless and there is nothing they can do against this progressive amnesia.

The story ended with the words, "Perhaps there are two kinds of memory."

I thought about this story a lot when I was losing my father to Alzheimer's.

There are, indeed, two kinds of memory: there are the memories of facts, names, places, and events, which allow us to navigate in this confusing world. And then there are the deeper memories - feelings and dreams, which are of no practical value to the analytical mind but which make us who we are and give our lives substance. One of these is perishable, the other durable.

Because my own memory is imperfect, I can't recall the title of the story, the date, or the magazine in which it appeared. I only remember the impression it made on me - perhaps at that deeper level of memory. But I am quite sure it was one of Philip Jose Farmer's works.

Any PJF fans out there who can help?

Calling on All Righteous Muslims

A collective statement by Muslim bloggers to the Iranian regime about its Holocaust denial conference
We the following Muslim bloggers hereby affirm that the Holocaust did happen because, not only are we quite capable of understanding overwhelming historical evidence, we also refuse to allow Muslim leaders to twist history for cruel, personal and selfish gains -- thereby reflecting negatively upon us and the message of Islam -- without confronting their actions with the hammer of righteous indignation. For religious, moral, and historical reasons, we repudiate and spit upon the Holocaust deniers conference now taking place in Iran, and stand in solidarity with student, and other, anti-fascists in that great nation, along with the victims of the Holocaust itself.
We further castigate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as an egomaniacal sociopath and incompetent world leader who has embarrassed the reputation and spiritual world of Islam with his political falsifications and distortions. His attempts to infiltrate the realm of Holocaust studies in order to focus on changing the situations of foreign nations while many of his people go hungry and are unemployed, is obviously a deranged policy.
We therefore beseech him to grow up and be a man by taking care of his own national family, instead of playing games that have no tangible outcomes. We will not tolerate the way he continues to embarrass his people and drag the entire nation of Islam down with him, while perpetuating cruelty upon another community and dirtying the teachings of the Prophet. If he thinks the free Muslims of the world will stand silently in the face of his callous rejection of logic and reason under the banner of Islam, he is in for a big surprise. Let our collective voices ring loudly and clearly that we reaffirm the right for Iranians to live in a nation whose leaders are not genocidal bigots. ...

Read the rest at the link.

And then there's this.

AlKaritha: The Arab Institute for Holocaust Research and Education.

Creative writing site.

I've just upgraded my TypePad account to allow me to create one or more extra weblogs. I'm planning to use these to organize and share my creative writing. Of course, one piece already has its own site. But there are several other projects I've had on the back burner for a while, which I want to start developing.

These include: a couple of other science fiction projects (some set in the Gilkesh universe, some not), some erotica, a couple of traditional short stories, and some Edward Gorey fanfic based on "The Willowdale Handcar". If you are interested, keep watching my journal.