Archive for April 17, 2013


Cover, The Dolphins of PernAtoZ 13 logo

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Here are the contexts of the quotes tweeted at @sueannbowling from April 11 through April 17, 2013. All but the last are from The Dolphins of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey.

“The mind can only absorb so much.” Menolly, fretting at the sheer amount of new knowledge coming from Aivas.

“Nighttime confessions and doubts generally are regretted in daylight.” Menolly is trying to laugh off her own worry.

“I’m always after my patients to exercise and get fresh air and I never listen to my own advice.” The Healer, Oldive, after the first day with the dolphins.

“Games can be as necessary as work.” Robinton, talking to Lessa who he thinks has been driving herself too hard.

“Bad ships smell, leak, ’n’ leave badness in our water.” The dolphin method of telling “good ships” from “bad ships.”

“How can you think of something like school when the whole world mourns?” Master Robinton has just died, and Readis is being lectured by Kami.

“I don’t invite myself to meals empty-handed.” Sue Ann Bowling, Horse Power. Roi is talking to Amber in the food market, just after he has added some off-world delicacies to her food order, which he intends to pay for.

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Tourist Trap coverLetter OThe Councils were originally formed to provide the R’il’nai some feedback on how the Human population of the Confederation would react to R’il’nian actions. All members showed strong R’il’nian traits, but until the development of the Çeren index (which measured the fraction of active genetic material of R’il’nian origin) membership was rather helter-skelter. By a century after the Çeren index was developed, it was formalized: those with a Çeren index of more than 72 (1/2 the active gene R’il’nian-derived) were considered R’il’noid; those with more than 108 (3/4) were called High R’il’noids and expected to act as part of the Outer Council when on Central, and the Inner Council was made up of those with Çeren indices of 120 or greater (7/8). By the time of Homecoming, the Inner Council was effectively running the Confederation, though Lai as the last surviving R’il’nian retained veto power (which he rarely used, recognizing that all too soon the Inner Council would be on its own.) The Outer Council was an advisory body for the Inner Council and its members were on call for assignments throughout the Confederation, as were all R’il’noids.

It must be emphasized that both Councils were concerned strictly with Confederation law, which dealt with R’il’noids and relationships between planets and between species. Individual planets had their own laws and governments and aside from a few things that were requited to join the Confederation (such as not trying to settle or exploit a planet with a native sentient or near-sentient species,) any form of government was accepted and could not be interfered with by the Confederation. Think of the United Nations with absolute power to stop wars between member states, but absolutely nothing corresponding to the declaration of human rights.

Thus Central, for instance, though the seat of the Confederation for historical reasons, was under the control of an elected assembly of Humans, and slavery was accepted there. On Falaron, the vacation planet in Tourist Trap, slavery was illegal.

Confederation law did trump planetary law, and R’il’noids were not subject to planetary law. There was actually good historical reason for this: R’il’noids trying to do their job had been executed for inadvertently violating some rather strange local laws. But by the time of Homecoming some R’il’noids were taking advantage of this fact.

Although the Inner Council met regularly, the Outer Council was convened only under extraordinary conditions. Such a condition might be an amendment to the Articles of Confederation. To quote Carina, the oldest member of the Inner Council and the expert of Confederation law, when she as asked about amendments:

“Part of the original Articles,” she said without opening her eyes. “Yes, it can be changed. Two-thirds of the Inner Council—not two-thirds plus—and a simple majority of the entire Council, inner and outer combined. Then two-thirds of the planets in the Confederation have to ratify it. It can be done, but it’ll take time—probably several years, if not decades.”

But for the most part, the Outer Council serves as the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of the Confederation.

I’m doing my A to Z blogs from my books, both characters and background information. For characters I’ll introduce them quickly, say what point of time they’re talking from since their situations change drastically through the books, and let them talk. The format of background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. Bold type indicates that more information has been or will be available in another A to Z post. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.

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