Tag Archive: Africa


Year 6 Day 193

Kilimanjero, MorguefileSnow! At the Equator! How have I missed this?

Of course it’s high—very high. I can’t stay this high long without altitude sickness. But it’s the first snow I’ve seen in years.

I decided to map more of the landmarks in the interior of the continent. I find flying is easier the more I do it, so I started by teleporting to the equatorial east coast and flying west, pausing to use the stars to get coordinates whenever I saw a place I thought I might want to visit again.  It took remarkably little time to spot a snow-covered mountain.

I was night flying, to avoid the heat, but I won’t need to worry about that on this mountain!

I think I will go back in daylight and see if this snow, like the rare snowfalls we had when I was a child, will pack into snowballs.

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Year 6 Day 105

ObsidianAlmost any stone will do for pounding, Little Gnu assures me, but for tools to cut, the stone and how it is shaped depends on what is to be cut. Most of the cutting tools he showed me were some form of microcrystalline quartz: chalcedony, flint, jasper or even agate. A few decorative pieces, more for showing off or for grave offerings than for use, were of colored quartz. But his real prize, used only for the most delicate of tasks, was a carefully chipped piece of obsidian as sharp as any steel knife.

“The stone is rare,” he told me, “and not easy to work. Sometimes I can arrange to trade a worked piece for a much larger piece of the raw material. But sometimes a thorn or a spear is driven into the body, and this is the best kind of knife for cutting it out.”

“It is also,” Gazelle remarked, “the best thing for cutting hides. When I can get my hands on it.”

It took me a moment to remember that Little Gnu was not at the gather the year I presented them with obsidian. “Would you like some raw stone to work?” I asked. “I know where I can find some, and it would be easy enough to get it. You could make knives while you cannot walk well enough to hunt.”

He was delighted at the suggestion, and so was Gazelle. “If he has more of that stone, perhaps I could have a knife of my own,” she said, “just to use for cutting tanned skins.”

Year 6 Day 85

Well, they’ve left.

MorguefileI keep telling myself not to become attached to individuals of the People, because they age quickly and will die all too soon. On that basis, it is a very good thing that Songbird, Giraffe and WildDog will not be staying with me this year.

I will miss them.

I will even miss Meerkat, who has finally realized I have no interest in her as a mate and set out, very much behind my back, to seduce Lion, who lost his mate to a fever last year. I hope Lion knows what he is in for!

Not that Gazelle, the mate of Little Gnu, is not a good cook and clothing maker, or that her daughter does not remind me of Songbird as I first knew her. Gazelle has also taken to the fish traps, and we eat well even without a hunter.

Little Gnu has turned out to be remarkably adept at knapping stone. Giraffe did make a small spear point for WildDog, but he spent a great deal of time doing it. Little Gnu has almost finished his supply of stone, and every tool he has made is a success. He is not very talkative, but he has managed to make me understand that different tools are best made from different types of stone.

“If I bring you several kinds of stone,” I said, “can you show me what each is best for?”

He beamed as he has not done since the elephant attacked him. I think I may learn more about stone tools than I had intended.

Jarn’s Journal is a part of the remote back story of my science fiction universe. The entire journal to date is on my author site.

AtoZ 13 logoIf you are looking for the A to Z post, click on the logo to the left or scroll down.

Year 6 Day 46 evening

I am not a Healer, though there are times I have wished I were. Today was definitely one of those days.

I knew it would take Songbird a while to reach the hunters, so I intercepted the runner and had him tell me what he could about Little Gnu’s injuries – which wasn’t much. The runner was the youngest of the hunters, and from his description, Little Gnu (named for his shortness of stature, not his age) had been tossed in such a way that he had landed with his leg doubled under him, and the bone was sticking out. No telling what kind of internal injuries he had sustained, and at his age, he couldn’t be expected to recover as fast and as thoroughly as Songbird had. All I could do in preparation was check everything available in the computer about compound fractures, find several suitable splints and bandages, and pull together the handful of remedies I had been able to make with the computer’s help. These, thank goodness, included a wound dressing that minimized infection.

I stayed open for Songbird while I wrapped all of the things I thought I would need, including an extra warnoff, in one of the hides Meerkat had tanned for me. Meerkat herself had deputized one of the other women to watch WildDog, and was making up a pallet for the injured man in her dwelling. “His mate will tend him,” she told me, “but this place is easier to clean.” The arrangement would give her a good excuse to be important in the temporary village, I thought with some amusement.

Just then Songbird’s mind touched mine, and I picked up the hide bundle and teleported to her.

hyenas, MorguefileIt was a good thing I had thought of the warnoff. Hyenas, jackals and a couple of scavenger birds were already encircling the carcass, and the women could not have taken the meat back to camp safely without the aid of the hunters. Several spears had been broken in the desperate attack on the elephant, and the hunters were mostly using thrown stones to keep the scavengers back.

Little Gnu was barely conscious when I teleported in. A few of the hunters has seen me teleport before but most had not, and I was afraid I would have to waste time reassuring them. But Songbird promptly started explaining that this was simply the way I traveled. And I was able to concentrate on the injured man.

Setting the leg was not beyond me, and I hoped that with the aid of the wound powder it would heal properly. I suspected that Little Gnu would probably have a permanent limp, though. I thought getting him back to the encampment would be the real problem, but the other hunters had already rigged a stretcher. Their main concern was the scavengers, since several who would normally be protecting the group would be needed to carry the injured man.

I had set the warnoff to maximum range, and the scavengers were staying well back. When they moved Little Gnu to the stretcher, I bound the warnoff to it, as well. “This should tell the scavengers to stay back,” I told them. “Take him and the meat you have butchered back to camp.

The first runner had already come back with more hunters and replacements for the broken spear shafts, so I decided to leave my own warnoff with Songbird and teleport back to camp.

Jarn’s Journal is the fictional journal of a human-like alien stranded in Africa roughly 125,000 years ago. The entire journal to date can be found on my author site.

AtoZ 13 logoIf you are looking for the A to Z Challenge post, click on the logo to the left or scroll down.

Year 6 Day 32

Well, they’re back.

Orange sunsetI tried to explain my map, now transferred to a hide with Songbird and Meerkat’s help, to the gathered shamans. Songbird seems to have figured out that the map in some way corresponds to where I have been, though for the most part she considers it some sort of incomprehensible magic. Rather as I regard their ability to find their way around by using landmarks, I suspect.

The general reaction of the shamans could be summed up as “But we are standing here, on grass. How can we also be standing on that piece of hide?”

It might be possible to teach WildDog what a map means, but would it be wise? In fact, is it wise to let him grow up here? There are no other children here, and it has taken him only a few days to discover friendship with other children coming in. Songbird and Giraffe, likewise, are delighted to renew bonds with their old friends. Is it fair to them, to keep them here?

I need to think more deeply about this.

This is an except for Jarn’s Journal, supposedly the journal of a human-like alien stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago. He has made contact with a group of primitive, nomadic humans, three of whom (with their child) are staying with him at the area where the normally scattered family bands meet once a year.

Letter JJarn was a R’il’nian who lived around 125,000 years ago, during the penultimate interglacial on Earth. He was a starship designer, but he was young and he left a few safety features out of his design. As a result he was stranded in Africa, and met primitive humans there. By everything he had learned he should have avoided having anything to do with them – the morality he had grown up with emphasized that proto-sentient and sentient species were to be left strictly alone to work out their own destiny. But he could not refuse to help a badly injured child, and as a result of this and other well-intentioned acts, he wound up hybridizing with the primitives, so that ultimately all of these Human ancestors had a small contribution from Jarn’s genes. In my science fiction universe Jarn made it back to his people after several thousand years, taking many of his hybrid descendants with him.  Here he is recording his first thoughts after the crash.

His Journal is currently being blogged a bit at a time on Fridays, and is also on my author site. The Jarnian Confederation, home of all my science fiction, is named after Jarn.

Earth, as photographed from Galileo in December. Photo credit NASA I am alive, which still astonishes me. I do not know enough about this planet yet to have more than a rough idea of its year length, but no doubt I will find out soon enough. If I ever get back to where designing another starship is possible, I will design it with a few more of the standard safety features. Like the block against exiting a jump point too close to a gravity well.

If by any chance I do not get back home, and this record does, perhaps I should introduce myself. I am Jarn, a R’il’nian and a designer of starships. Not, I regret to say, as good a designer as I thought, or my third ship would be around me instead of lying in pieces on the bottom of one of this planet’s oceans. Indeed, it all happened so fast I am still somewhat confused, but I will try to state briefly what happened.

I was aiming for the vicinity of a G-type sun, and I came out of the exit jump-point too close to the third planet’s atmosphere, and heading into it. All I could do was maneuver into a braking orbit and try to kill enough energy that a water landing wouldn’t vaporize the ship and cause a major tidal wave. No, I could not have teleported to safety. I never was any good at interstellar teleports, or at going someplace I hadn’t been before. Another thing to work on if I ever get home.

Anyway, not only does the planet have lots of water, it also has land areas with large stretches of chlorophyll green. A huge one stretches almost halfway around the planet in the northern hemisphere, with an extension into the southern hemisphere at its trailing end, and a pair on the other side of the planet together extend almost from pole to pole. It looked as if there was ice at both poles, though it could have been clouds, and the readouts as I got into the atmosphere indicated one part oxygen to four of nitrogen. All this strongly suggested life, and it would be unethical in the extreme to let the ship destroy any more of that life than I could help.

I managed to trigger the escape capsule a minute or so before impact, which was toward the leading edge of the broadly serpentine north-south ocean, and flew it, with some difficulty, to the trailing edge of the southern extension of the larger land mass, where I am now recording this. I suppose it was a good landing, since I am still alive and sound, if shaken, but the capsule will never again be anything more than a rather crude shelter.

There is a small stream nearby, and an abundance of fibrous-looking vegetation which is being eaten by a wide variety of animals, including what appear to be perfectly good mammals. I don’t have and probably never will have the equipment to test whether their proteins are compatible with my own, but a fish from the stream was tasty enough. The stream water seems reasonably pure, though the larger water areas taste salty and are probably too mineral-rich to drink on a regular basis. The atmospheric oxygen content is neither so high as to allow uncontrolled wildfires nor so low as to give me any problem in breathing, and so far there are no obvious atmospheric toxins. So if I don’t swell up and die tonight from the fish, it looks as if I have the basic requirements for staying alive.

I didn’t manage to get a measurement of axial tilt, so I have no idea what the weather is likely to be or what season I am in. A lot of the vegetation looks desiccated, which may indicate that I arrived during a seasonal dry period, in which case I may need shelter when it starts to rain again. Or I may have landed in an area entering a long drought. I hope the stream does not dry up completely.

I suppose I should count myself lucky, but I have no idea of what I can do beyond keeping myself alive.

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. Background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.Banner AZ logo

Homecoming coverThis is a place where my science fiction departs from general scientific agreement. I have assumed that the modern human species – almost – evolved in Africa. But I have also assumed a R’il’nian, Jarn (who will be my “J”) was stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago, and that for some reason which is still not well understood, he turned out to be slightly fertile with these primitive humans. They were already more artistic than the R’il’nai (mostly expressed in adorning themselves) and using language, but his genetic addition, slight though it was, kindled something additional within them. In my universe we are all remote descendants of Jarn.

Jarn was a starship designer, and with the aid of the information on the computer from the escape module, he was able, over several millennia, to get his descendants to develop a starship to carry him home. But they didn’t stop there. The global population was not large, and they split between those, mostly more technically oriented, who followed Jarn back to the stars and eventually became the ancestors of the Humans in my science fiction, and those who stayed on Earth, rapidly lost their force-grown technical civilization (they were mostly the ones who disliked technology anyway) and became our ancestors.

The early crossbreds and others who showed a high percentage of R’il’nian genes were wiped out in an epidemic lethal to them but not to Humans roughly ten thousand years ago, as were many of the R’il’nai. The Jarnian Confederation in its present state developed in the period following the epidemic.

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. Background information will vary according to what I’m talking about. All of these blogs will be scheduled to go live just after midnight Alaska time.Banner AZ logo

AtoZ 13 logoIf you are looking for the A to Z Challenge post, click on the logo to the left or scroll down.

Year 6 Day 1

Africa OutlineI now know what this continent looks like. Meekat and Giraffe looked at my map with total bewilderment, obviously not seeing any relationship to the ground on which they stood. I tried to explain to Songbird, the only one who had ever seen the ground from high above. “You know how things look smaller when you are far above them? Well, this is how the land would look if you were very, very high. So high you could see water on all sides.”

I should have known better. Being Songbird, she immediately demanded that I take her up that high.

“There isn’t any air that high,” I told her. “You couldn’t breathe.”

She looked at me, puzzled. “But you can always breathe.”

I started to mention difficulty in breathing on top of mountains, and almost immediately realized she had never been up a mountain high enough that she would be short of breath. And most of my exploring has been along the coast; the great waterfall, my original landing site and the lake we live on are almost the only internal points marked on my map. I really should find out if there are any really high mountains on this continent.

Maybe the shamans will understand. They should be here soon.

Year 5, Day 271

WildDog is a year old today, by my reckoning.

We don’t celebrate birth dates, at least not as adults. There would simply be too many of them! But we do celebrate a few important ones, and one of these is when a child completes its first year. Friends of the parents come together, and the child is given its first taste of sweets.

honeycomb, MorguefileLittle WildDog is still getting almost all of his nourishment from his mother’s milk though he does have teeth, as my fingers can attest! I am not sure why, as he certainly cannot chew anything, and they merely make nursing him uncomfortable for Songbird. She is beginning to chew food and then give it to him, and it occurred to me that it has been a long time since I brought sweet fruits to my helpers. So I teleported to the sites of several palms that have had sweet fruit in the past, and brought dates for Songbird to give WildDog. I also teleported a bit of honeycomb from a wild bees’ nest – from a healthy distance!

I had a hard time not laughing at the results. WildDog screwed his face up and prepared to cry at the strange taste in his mouth, as he usually does when Songbird gives him something new. Then his eyes went wide and he blinked a time or two, working his mouth. The final stage was a beatific smile, and a mouth eagerly opened for more. “That’s a special birthday treat,” I told him firmly. “I know it tastes good, but it won’t help you grow strong.”

I am not sure how much he understands, as I refuse to employ my mind-reading talent. But I could swear he looked disappointed.

Jarn’s Journal is a bit of the back story of the Jarnian Confederation, where most of my science fiction is based. It is the journal of a human-like alien with esper abilities, Jarn, who was stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago.

By the way, I am participating in the A to Z Challenge this year, with posts live just after midnight about the characters and some of the world-building in my books. I’m letting the characters speak for themselves, though I try to tell when they’re speaking from.

Year 5 day 200

seal, MorguefileAt least it is not raining any more. More accurately, I’ve gotten out of the equatorial rainy zone.

For a while it was so wet I almost dreaded my coastline mapping, even though after the delta the coast turned more or less southward. Things have become gradually drier over the last fiveday, and I’ve increased the length of coast I’ve mapped each day. Today I think I’m back in desert, although a considerably rockier desert than the sand dunes far to the north. In fact, I rather think this may be the same desert I found when I was first exploring.

I knew there were predators such as crocodiles in the inland waters as well as on the land. But today I realized for the first time that ocean predators can be a real threat to mammals that live partly on land. I came on a group of mammals unlike any I have seen before, obviously adapted to the water. Fish are abundant along this coast, no doubt because of the cold current offshore, so there is a rich marine food supply and these mammals are adapted to take advantage of it. They are streamlined, with very dense, oily fur, their limbs are reduced to flippers and they are as awkward on land as they are graceful in the water. They are not small; even the females mass more than I do.

I watched as a mother left her pup and headed out to sea to feed. She never made it much past the first line of breakers. A great fish, with rows of sharp teeth in a gaping mouth, leapt from the water to seize her. It was so hot I had thought of dipping myself into the water, but not until I have tested that the warnoff will work with this creature!

Jarn’s Journal is the fictional journal of an equally fictional human-like alien, Jarn, stranded in Africa roughly 125,000 years ago. He is in the process of mapping the coastline of Africa. His Journal to date can be found on my author site.