Monday, July 20, 2009


Below is Chapter One of my new science fiction novel Pya, which is a sequel to my previous novel Skene. To read about the background of the first novel, read my post here, which will also direct you to appendices. There is a glossary of sorts for this chapter at the end of this current post.

Above is map of the Skene island Riesig, which is where most of the action in this chapter takes place. At the end of this post is a lineage chart for the family who are main characters as they appear in in this chapter. Updates will follow.


Like so many others of whom she would never know, Pyosz left for the New World because her heart had been broken. In her case, the new world was a chain of islands discovered and explored only a few years before she was born. For 500 years before that, the 1000 residents of Skene believed their own small chain of tiny islands were the only dry land to be found on an otherwise ocean-covered planet. Pyosz's generation was the first to have a "somewhere else" in their frame of reference.

Pyosz was 20, and she believed she had been in love with Sey for two years. They were in the same year at University, and had known each other since they were 3 and had begun first grade at Skene School. They had not been particular friends, however, for most of that time. Sey was from Yanja, a larger island who competed with Pyosz's home island of Riesig for control of Skene's political and commercial power. Sey, like Pyosz, came from a family of influence and ambition.

This comparison, though, fell apart on closer examination. Pyosz's family was, and had been for two decades, the most famous to have ever lived on Skene. Her abbas had been instrumental in bringing sweeping change to Skene, including the discovery of Pya. Her emma was Genist of All Skene, her sibemma Mill had been the first explorer of and immigrant to Pya, and her other sibemmas held important positions as Sigrists, leraars, pilots, and curandera. Her abba Halling had only recently retired as Sheng Zhang of the Lofthall. Abbas Yoj and Bux were Archivist and Ethicist of Skene respectively. And Bux's emmas had been similarly influential. Pyosz could not remember a time when she had not felt the weight of expectation pressing against her like the damp air of Skene, seeping through any fabric to her dark skin, reminding her Skene depended on her heavily in ways yet to be indicated.

Sey had been Pyosz's first and only lover. Pyosz thought her inability to have attracted serious amorous attention before Sey was, also, a result of her family's singularity. Or, to be precise, the unique aspect of Pyosz's birth, which had rendered her the object of gossip and fascination most of her life.

Pyosz's emma, Prl, had become Genist early. By law, Genists could not partner and could not use a Contribution -- over which they had total control -- to impregnate themselves if they happened to be an X and thus able to become pregnant. In the entire history of Skene, no Genist had violated this law. Everyone else came to the Genist for Leave to have children and for a Contribution. The Genist would look at the applicant's health, community, and mental stability. If they were two women living alone in a Manage without abbas or other help, often the Genist would suggest they obtain additional resource and re-apply. Everyone on Skene worked virtually non-stop, at one or more occupations as well as farming the tillage which accompanied each Manage, providing half their food for the year. A child needed more than two adults in the Manage to receive adequate care and attention.

If Leave was granted, the would-be emmas were given a Contribution, selected by the Genist herself based on complicated formulas to maintain the genetic vigor and diversity of the human gene pool on Skene. Everyone on Skene were cousins several times over. Most people knew only to trace their lineage through their emmas, but in fact, biological descent came only though one's aggie and an unknown Contribution.

When the first colonists on Skene realized male fertility was disappearing, even as female fertility increased, a resourceful trio had preserved sperm gathered from the 51 males still able to reproduce. These had been held in cryonic storage for 500 years now, and were the main repository from which Contributions were drawn. Currently, one out of every six births on Skene produced a Y child, and of these, perhaps 10% would be fertile as adults. The percentage in both instances was not commonly known and was still in a slow decline. Occasionally a newly-matured Skene Y would be found to have fertile sperm, and her Contribution would be added to the Genist's archive.

The Genist herself was the product of a modern Y contribution, Ng, who had been known to her family as her emma Halling's emma. Thus, Prl had been half-sister to her own emma. This sort of close relation was simply not recommended, whether or not anyone except the Genist knew about it. It had been the irrational experiment of the Genist before Prl, a woman who gave Prl's emmas five children instead of four (one set of twins), all of them descended from the same Y, their abba. Violation piled on violation. This rogue Genist had actively recruited Prl as her apprentice, and would probably have proved to be a negative influence on her save for the fact that she died abruptly before Prl's apprenticeship was quite concluded, pushing Prl into the Genist role at the unheard-of age of 18.

Which is when Prl discovered the truth about her own conception and ancestry.

Perhaps it was the fact that these violations had resulted in an unusually close and important family. Perhaps it was Prl's youth. Perhaps it was the example of her emmas, who had altered Skene culture more in her growing-up years than had occurred during the previous 500.

Prl decided to utilize a closely-held secret, the fact that eggs could be taken from a single X and combined to form a viable embryo, enabling a single woman to give birth to her own child -- not a clone, a new combination of her own DNA. There was no law against a Genist becoming pregnant, per se. It had not been thought necessary to prohibit pregnancy, since on Skene single people could not get Leave from the Genist to become pregnant or receive a Contribution. Prl realized if she did not use a Contribution, or partner, she would not suffer prosecution if she turned up pregnant and revealed the mechanism by which it had occurred.

Release of this information would mean, of course, a revolution in Skene's approach to childbearing. All lev would break loose. Prl kept weighing the options, as her cycles came and went four times a year. Skene was still adjusting to the changes wrought by her emmas, and by the addition of Pya to an altered world view. Prl had trained a new apprentice Genist who was adequate to carie for Skene should something happen to Prl, though Prl felt the apprentice was a bit of a dullard.

Prl's emma Yoj worked next door each day in the Archivist's Manage. Since Yoj was not actually living in all that space, Prl suggested Yoj ask her best friend Qala and Qala's partner Lawa to move in, sharing the tillage with the Genist Manage. Qala was radio operator and secretary at the Lofthall, one of the key figures who had helped their family bring change to Skene. Lawa was actually Halling's sibu and worked at the state-run ejida across the lane. They quickly accepted Yoj's offer, and Prl felt they would also jump at the chance to be on-hand abbas to any child she might have.

Finally, when Prl felt her own fertility was at a peak, and after her emma Bux had been elected Ethicist (thus reducing the chance that Prl would be sent into exile on Peisuo for not-quite-breaking the law), Prl harvested her own eggs and had a go at becoming an emma.

She had always wanted a child. More than anything, including being Genist.

It worked the first try. Once she was starting to show, raising questions among her family about what she was eating these days, she confessed her state to her family. They sat up most of the night talking things over. In the morning, Bux as Ethicist announced the news over Sigrist radio and called for a week of public discussion, followed by a vote about what action to take. Prl temporarily turned over her Genist duties to her profoundly shocked apprentice and went in for an ultrasound to make sure her child was all right.

Four months later, Pyosz had been born, the first of her kind. Prl had managed to hang onto her position as Genist, though laws were promptly passed prohibiting anyone from repeating her means of reproduction. An exhaustive set of tests run after Pyrosz's birth verified that, indeed, she carried only DNA from her emma. Every time Prl went into public with her baby, people stared at them, comparing Prl's light brown skin and round face to Pyosz's blue-black color and high cheekbones. Truth was, Pyosz looked a lot like her abba Halling had as a child, down to the blue spot on her lower back and her elongated arms and legs. But Pyosz had the smoky blue eyes of Prl, Bux, and Bux's aggie before her. Prl thought she was the ultimate success of Skene's careful attention to reproduction. She loved Pyosz more than any emma had ever loved a child, she was sure. And she named her for not only one of their ancestors, through her emma Yoj's side, but also Pya itself. This was a child of the New World, her name proclaimed.

Which is all well and good when you're little and spoiled by your abbas, but once you start school and other children make fun of you on the playground for having only one emma, for having been "stirred up in a mixing bowl", even for having a name that seemed to put on airs, well, it was hard being Pyosz. Children who would have befriended her were advised by their emmas to keep a distance, because what if Pyosz went home and told her emma the Genist about some incident in that child's home life? What if an innocent secret kept that family from being allowed to have more children?

By the time she reached puberty, Pyosz's status as a brilliant child who was desperate to please but always on the social periphery had been set in rongyan. At 13, she suddenly shot up to near Halling's height but without Halling's slender build. Instead, she grew breasts and hips before any of her cohort, large fleshy curves which could not be concealed despite Prl readily agreeing to Pyosz's request for a new wardrobe. Now Pyosz became the genetic-mutation one-emma freak with a body like one of Yanja's ginny dancers. She began walking with her arms crossed over her chest, her legs stiff to keep her ass from jiggling, and she stopped going to dances altogether. Instead, she went to her abbas' Manage, where they taught her to cook and grow things and talked about history all the time.

Her emma did not notice Pyosz's isolation because Prl herself didn't really have friends. Who on Skene was brave enough to be friends with the Genist? Prl had always been close with her siba Dodd, who lived a short walk away on Sigrist Poke. However, when Pyosz was a newborn, Dodd had stunned her entire family by emigrating to Pyra with her partner and their two children. Dodd became the second-grade leraar at Pya School, and her partner Briel helped found the clinic in Koldok, a double coup for Pya.

Prl's oldest siba, Mill, also lived on Pya with her family and was Sheng Zhang of the Lofthall there. Mill's partner Oby was a skilled pilot who ran the business end of trade between Pya and Skene. Oby's aggie, Api, had once been Ethicist on Skene but emigrated to Pya and was immediately elected Ethicist of All Pya, a post she retained election after election. Oby's other emma, Ollow, built the kelp-processing factory on Pya. This extended family constructed a Manage on their own small island close to the coast of the main island, Dvareka.

The summer Pyosz was three, she made the then-14 hour flight to Pya on a visit with her abbas. She fell in love with the open space, the abundance of wheat and cheese, and especially cousins her own age. Her cousin Ngall became her best friend, and Mill persuaded Prl to let Pyosz stay the month with them. After that, Pysoz returned to Pya every summer, sleeping in the same room with Ngall and younger cousin Abbo at Mill's Manage, riding the ferry to her Sibemma Dodd's house where books were everywhere and children romped wide, tree-lined streets or explored nearby fields free from close adult scrutiny.

On Pya, Pyosz was not a Special Child. Nobody traveled back to Skene for a consultation with the Genist or to obtain Leave for pregnancy, a laughable idea. Instead, folks went to Pyosz's sibemma Briel if there was no fertile Y in their partnership. Babies on Pya were more likely to be like Pyosz than otherwise. This did not result in a wave of emigration to Pya, however, because Pya was still regarded by most of Skene as a savage wilderness with unfamiliar forests and strange new animals.

Prl dealt with missing Dodd by focusing more on work, particularly on the growing wave of rogue pregnancies on Skene using the method by which she'd had Pyosz. At least one curandera on Verzin had figured out the technique and was risking exile by performing it for emmas who could not get Leave legally. Emmas who turned up pregnant without having using a Contribution swore one of them was a Y or, if this were patently not the case, that the aggie had had a brief affair with someone who turned out to be a fertile Y. Debate about the whole issue raged through Skene for years. Finally, laws were passed which removed the penalties for pregnancy without Contribution, but only if a genetic sample was obtained for the Genist's files and only if no fee was given to whoever performed the fertilization. The latter step significantly reduced financial incentive for at least the Verzin curandera.

Pyosz graduated head of her class at 16 and spent the summer at Pya, as usual. Her cousin Ngall was already at the University in Skene, and they planned to share Pyosz's spacious room at the Genist Manage in the fall when Pyosz enrolled to get a degree in mathematics. With a ready-made friend, Pyosz's neediness disappeared. In the perverse way of things, this made her more attractive to folks she had desperately wanted to befriend before. Her abbas' constant conversation had given her an ability to listen and make clever quips which made her popular among the U's self-proclaimed intelligentsia. She still avoided dances, but she hung out in cafes drinking tea and having earnest, dramatic discourse with Ngall and their crowd.

She had also stopped being the only student who noticeably filled out a gilet and kalsongers. She began to like the appreciative looks cast her way. She had occasional chances to kiss or be kissed, and made the most of these episodes. She'd heard her abba Yoj say more than once that sex was the only thing on Skene free from bureaucratic regulation, and her partners always laughed lasciviously. Sex was remarkably easy to come by on Skene, at least for most people. Pyosz felt a little cursed by her emma's choices and did not find anyone who was willing to progress beyond kissing to total immersion, as Ngall referred to it.

At midwinter break that year, Ngall stayed in Riesig instead of returning to Pya to visit her emmas. She and Pyosz took ferries all over Skene, visiting each crowded island and having adventures. One afternoon they went to Pomar, the orchard island next to Riesig, and roamed the rows of trees there, agreeing it was a joke compared to what Pya had to offer. They eventually got cold and hungry, but the ferry wasn't running for another hour, so they went to the cafe frequented by mostly those who lived on Pomar.

There Ngall met Ehuy. She insisted it was love at first sight. Ehuy harvested fruit and nuts, living in her emmas' Manage nearby. Suddenly all of Ngall's free time was devoted to spending time with Ehuy, riding the ferry back and forth from Pomar because the only privacy the young couple could find was in a drying room at the fruit barns. To the entire family's outrage, but especially Pyosz, Ngall announced midterm that she was leaving the University and moving to Pomar with Ehuy. They were going to partner and have children, sleeping in the loft above the living room in Ehuy's emmas' Manage. Ngall could not be dissuaded, and Pyosz finished her first year on her own.

She did return to Pya that summer, hoping Ngall would come for a visit without Ehuy. Pyosz stayed in Koldok at the Manage of Dodd and Briel instead of on Arta Island with Mill's family, because Dodd's house had more room and Pyosz found Mill's youngest, Abbo, extremely annoying. Abbo had graduated from Pya School, gone to the Lofthall on Skene for pilot training, and was now back on Pya to stay. She had the typical insecure bravado of beginning pilots, but with an Abbo-like obstinance that Pyosz did not find as charming as the rest of her family did. Pyosz avoided the Lofthall that summer, instead visiting Arta Island when Abbo was out with her swaggering friends.

Ngall did not come to Pya. At summer's end, during Mchele, she wrote her family that she and Ehuy had received Leave to become pregnant and she would be trying to aggie with her next cycle. Pyosz stayed on Pya long enough to help with Pirinc's rice harvest before returning to living with her emma again.

She continued to go on occasional dates, forcing herself out from Prl's cocoon and welcoming the chance to fumble in a dark lane with an agreeable student within her sui. Pyosz preferred swots who were a year or two older than herself, the shyer, the better. They were usually feverish, once aroused, and matters could progress to hands inside pants or mouths on nipple through an undergarment, standing up in a dark alley. But there was not really enough privacy on Riesig to go all the way unless you had a room with a door.

Pyosz did, of course. She was extremely rare among Skeners of any age to have a bedroom all her own. However, she was not about to risk taking someone home under the scrutiny of the Genist of All Skene until she'd established herself as their lover. And she could not become lovers without a room.

Finally, at the end of her second year, she'd consented to attend a documentary with Sey. Sey was short, plump, and deeply ambitious. They rode the ferry to Argile, saw the film which was as dull and didactic as most documentaries on Skene, and decided to stop at the local cafe for a meal before returning. Sey managed to get the ferry timetable wrong, which Pyosz later realized she'd done deliberately. They discovered they were stranded for the next nine hours without a way to leave Argile. Sey, more suave that most of Pyosz's dates, suggested they rent a room at the local hostel, to "keep talking in a warm place".

Pyosz instantly recognized what was about to occur, and felt moisture flood her knickers. She agreed, trying to match Sey's nonchalance, and said they could split the cost of a private room at the hostel -- this time of week, it would surely be available.

The next morning, Sey was dismayed by the bite marks on her neck and shoulders. Pyosz pulled her away from the mirror and back into bed, plunging two fingers into Sey as she said "We've missed morning classes anyhow, no need to leave until noon."

That night, Pyosz moved Sey into the Genist Manage without asking Prl's prior approval. Sey was thrilled to meet Prl, to meet all the illustrious abbas, and to be living in the most prestigious address on Skene. Her manners and flattery managed to win over Prl, once Prl was done being furious with Pyosz. The abbas were not so readily taken with Sey, although they expressed only congratulations to Pyosz. Qala privately referred to Say as "that Yanja schemer", and Lawa complained about how many hard-to-come-by oranges they were going through now in the Genist's larder.

Bux reminded them all that Sey was earning top marks in chemistry and Pyosz's grades never slipped. They saw much less of Pyosz, because she now had a date for every weekend. Once the sexual haze wore off, rather sooner than Pyosz had hoped it would, she and Sey made appearances at every trendy event they could. Pyosz still couldn't muster even a slow waltz, but she liked to sit at a table away from the band, holding hands with Sey and entertaining their friends with pointed remarks about folks passing by on the dance floor.

Pyosz did not go to Pya that summer or the next. Halling retired from her Sheng Zhang position, after more than 35 years of service. Her protege Danaan was elected in her stead. Qala retired as well, saying she wanted to grow onions and never listen to a radio again. Lawa went on half-duty at the ejida. Ngall had her baby and got pregnant again, and Pyosz visited rarely, always with Sey in tow.

Her final semester at the U, abba Halling arranged for Pyosz to visit with Szebel, head of the powerful Vetriste Guild on Yanja and Halling's occasional lover. Pyosz took Sey with her, who turned out to be distantly related to Szebel. Szebel offered Pysoz a commission with the Vestrite Guild after graduation. Sey also thought her best chance at occupation with rapid advancement was on Yanja. Pyosz was not excited about living on Yanja, but Sey said with loans from each of their families, they could afford to acquire a Manage of their own on the ridge overlooking South Ocean or, if they were very lucky, with a view of the olive grove. Sey said she wanted children as much as Pyosz did, but they should wait until their careers were both firmly established.

The week before graduation, Pyosz barely saw Sey, who was studying for finals and twice fell asleep in the library, having to spend the night in the stacks. Pyosz was herself consumed with cramming or, when too exhausted to read one more line, daydreaming about plans for her partnering ceremony with Sey, scheduled for Ljeto, a month off. She had a new outfit made for commencement, hanshan and jirekinu of the finest gold silk with calças of black silk sporting fine gold lines from waistband to cuff. She was about to get dressed before going to meet Sey and the rest of her family for dinner at Riesig's best restaurant when a knock came at the Genist's door.

She glanced at the clock -- it wasn't visiting hours for the Genist. She didn't hear the apprentice with her shuffling gait heading to the door, so Pyosz pulled up her new calças quickly and went to the front of the Manage. She was surprised to see Ngall standing on the wet steps, her belly large with child and her toddler Ehall gripped tight by the hand which wasn't holding an umbrella.

"Did you come to see me alone before dinner?" exclaimed Pyosz, pleased. "Here, let me give the little one a cookie."

Ngall followed Pyosz into the kitchen, but her face was grave. "What's wrong, Ngall? Sit down, are you feeling all right?"

"Where is Sey?" asked Ngall.

"Turning in a final paper, I think. She's getting dressed at a friend's house, closer to the U, she said. She picked up a bag of things yesterday while I was at an exam. Why, did you -- is she all right? Tell me, Ngall."

"She's having an affair. With someone in your class -- Woalt, I think her name is." Ngall shifted her weight from one foot to other, looking miserable.

Pyosz gaped at her, then laughed. "Whoever told you this is lying. Sey loathes Woalt, they can barely stand to speak to one another."

Ngall's voice was apologetic. "They've been seeing each other secretly for a couple of months. Woalt's family is hiring Sey as head of product development in their soap and cleanser factory on Verzin, starting next week. My Ehuy is cousins with Woalt's sib-in-law, she heard it directly from the source. I'm so sorry, Pyosz. I couldn't believe it myself, I went to verify it first." Ngall finally sat down, her kind face stricken.

"It's not possible" Pyosz whispered. "Why would she -- I'm supposed to meet her in an hour, she can't have..."

"Can I have anuvver cookier?" Ehall asked. Pyosz moved woodenly to the shelf and set the entire jar on the table within the child's reach. Ngall swiftly intervened, limiting Ehall's chubby fist grab to one.

"I'm so sorry" Ngall repeated.

"I have to go find her" said Pyosz, turning on her heel.

"Wait -- Pyosz, you only have on a maillot" said Ngall, standing. "I'll go with you, but you have to put on a shati."

Pyosz strode into her room and jerked the gold hanshan over her head, leaving the jirekinu on her bed. She passed Ngall on the way to the door, and Ngall grabbed her arm. "I'm going with you" insisted Ngall. "It's pouring out there, you'll ruin those clothes, put on a burzaka."

Pyosz jerked her raincoat from the hook by the door, feeling anger start to replace disbelief inside her. She handed Ngall her soaked umbrella and chafed at how slowly Ehall walked. Pyosz turned down the lane which held her abbas' Manage. She stopped to knock at their copper door, but no one answered. She looked at the cao engraved who knows how long ago, a beautiful patina making it seem like an animal she might have once seen somewhere. No Manage door for me she thought. Nobody wants me except this household.

Ehall took her hand and tugged at it. "We go on?" she asked. Pyosz said "We go on" and kept hold of the small hand as they headed for downtown. As they reached the block where the restaurant was located, Pyosz felt her knees go wobbly with relief when she saw Halling standing out front under the awning, waiting for her, tall and white-haired with a pilot's erect posture.

"Habibi!" cried Ehall. But it was Pyosz who took off in a run, hurtling recklessly down the slick sidewalk and into her abba's arms. She was wailing by the time her face met Halling's shoulder. She could hear Halling's urgent questions, then the voices of other family members as they saw through the window and came out to crowd around her. Ngall told them quietly what had happened. Ehall began crying in confusion, and Bux picked her up. Yoj said through her teeth "I knew it. She's ruined, I'll destroy her for this."

Pyosz looked up from Halling's sanctuary, her eyes unable to focus, to ask "She's not here, then?"

"She won't show up" predicted Prl. "Now that she's got a better career lined up, she won't bother to tell you herself."

"What is wrong with me?" sobbed Pyosz. "You shouldn't have had me, aggie, you made a mistake and I'm proof of it!" She didn't see Prl's face go grey, but Yoj did and slid her shoulder under Prl's to keep her from falling on the ground.

"Come on" said Lawa. "We're going back to the Manage for tea and soup."

"What about my graduation?" cried Pyosz.

"We'll go later if you're up to it, there'll be gasbags making speeches for hours before they call your name" said Bux.

"I don't want to go if she's there!' said Pyosz, allowing her knot of family to start her moving down the street.

"Then we'll pick up your diploma tomorrow" said Yoj. She was glad Pyosz didn't appear to see all the onlookers who had stopped to stare at them. At the corner they ran into Prl's youngest sibu, Speranz, with her family, coming to meet them. Qala quickly filled them in and asked them to go intercept the final sib, Ndege, with her family.

"I don't think I can bear this" said Pyosz, stumbling. Halling was too elderly now to hold her up on her own, and Lawa moved in on Pyosz's other side.

"I know it's no comfort, but you will" said Halling gently. They headed up the land to their Manage, four far-flung generations gathering to staunch a breaking heart.

© 2009, Maggie Jochild.

Abba -- generic term for any grandparent, gender irrelevant.
Aggie -- the emma who is the biological parent (egg donor) of a child; there is no name for the sperm donor, as this role has no parenting function on Skene
Archivist -- state position on Skene who preserves history and records, has own Manage and protected archives behind a vault hidden in a hillside on Riesig
Argile -- Skene island dedicated to clay production
Arta Island -- small island west of Dvareka in Pya, home to Manage of Mill and family; one of the "Pea Pods" (a particular set of small islands)
Burzaka -- waterproof rain slicker
Calças -- silk pleated pants (dress attire)
Cao -- cow, historical animal seen only in ancient books
Child -- child (no differentiation as to gender on Skene)
Curandera -- doctor/healer, trained at the University
Dvareka -- largest island in Pya, home to several towns including Koldok, means "two rivers" in Skenish
Ejida -- cooperative farm run by the state, providing food for all Skeners
Emma -- generic term for any parent, gender irrelevant.
Ethicist -- governor, elected every half-year, settles interim questions of public good unless larger vote is required
Exile -- ultimate punishment for crime on Skene, which involves banishment to a remote island named Peisuo with enough dry goods delivered twice a year to keep the exile from starving, but no visiting and no hope of parole; Skene relies on community interference and lack of privacy to keep crime from occurring
Genist -- geneticist and genealogist who tracks all lineages on Skene and determines which sperm stock is chosen for an aggie requesting leave to breed; a lifelong position, determined by election when she is an apprentice; only one mother genist and one apprentice at any given time, and the two of them are often at great odds with one another; their records are completely secret
Gilet -- padded linen jerkin, laced; worn for breast support as well as warmth
Ginny -- slang term for genitals (gender irrelevant) or sexual activity itself
Habibi -- generic term for any great-grandparent, gender irrelevant
Hanshan -- silk dress blouse or shirt, various styles all same name
Jirekinu -- silk vest for dress occasions
Kalsonger -- wool pants (can be dress or work, depending on cut and occupation)
Koldok -- town on western side of Dvareka Island in Pya, site of lofthall, school, chevre dairy, and clinic
Leraar -- teacher at school for children, in contrast to teacher at university who is called a gakusha
Lev -- short for leviathan, used as profanity; levs/leviathans are the whale-sized sentient carnivores who dominate the oceans of Skene, making boat travel perilous or impossible for 500 years
Ljeto -- ninth month in Skene calendar, time of high summer
Lofthall -- the guild-like structure which regulates all air flight on Skene, headed by a Sheng Zhang and funded by the state; also the building where the guild is located, with pilotes' residence and adjacent airfield
Maillot -- thin woolen undershirt
Manage -- family home, home farm; belongs to the state but can be inherited through a lineage if occupied by an ongoing family
Mchele -- tenth month in Skene calendar, cooling begins, time of rice harvest
Peisuo -- Skene island set aside for exiles (prison)
Pirinc -- Pya island, northern side, which had been steep and rocky, covered with shu, at first discovery. Powerful lasers were used to reshape the terrain into a multitude of terraces which could be flooded with water for rice farming. A well and central pond were created, a small town of Manages was settled, and floating duck/goose houses were placed on large paddies. Pirinc supplies all the rice and fowl Pya could use, plus exports a significant extra to Skene.
Pomar -- central island on Skene, dedicated to orchards, soybeans, apiary, and large public park accessible by ferry from two main islands
Pya -- a cluster of dozens of islands with land mass many times that of Skene, discovered/deduced by Halling, Yoj and Bux in Year 557; explored by their oldest child, Mill, and her partner Oby; settled by emigrants from Skene in Year 559
Riesig -- largest central island on Skene, containing airfield, university, sigrist, genist, archives, school, fish docks all in town of Riesig Pliss, and acting as hub for the West Tendril
Rongyan -- lava sculpted into rocks
Shati -- pullover linen shirt, ubiquitous, worn long for work, tucked in for company, various sleeve lengths and colors
Sib -- sibling, any other child of shared emmas, gender irrelevant
Siba -- older sibling
Sibemma -- sibling of one's emmas
Sibu -- younger sibling
Sheng Zhang -- governor over a particular field of commerce or public endeavor, with limited powers, mostly an administrator, elected every year
Sigrist -- state position similar to watchtower, keeping eye out for trouble coming from ocean; has radio with receiver in every building, gives times, tides, general announcements, calls for emergency help
Skene -- skein of 39 islands, 14 of which are large by their standards/small by ours; 22 flings (tiny, one-house-sized islands), and 3 secanos (islands without fresh water, thus uninhabitable) which for 500 years held all the human life on a water planet in the constellation Alhena; also the name of the planet, and the name of the language humans now speak there
Sui -- Only real limit Skene places on whom one may select as a sexual partner, referring to age grade/color year; every child is born into a color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, or violet) and number (current generation is in the 60s) which determines their age grade -- adults from age grades too far distant from one another may not partner, aggie, or have sex with each other; for adults over 21, sui is four years or less
Tillage -- the cultivated fields belonging to a Manage, usually
Verzin -- large central island on Skene, heavily used for manufacture, hub of the East Tendril
Vetriste -- glassmakers on Yanja
Woman -- any adult human over age 16, regardless of whether they are X or Y; interchangeable with human being; only pronoun in use on Skene is she
X -- gendered term for a human with a vulva and.or uterus; considered extremely offensive and only used or known by one's immediate family or those with a medical need to know
Y -- gendered term for a human with a penis; considered extremely offensive and only used or known by one's immediate family or those with a medical need to know
Yanja -- Skene island dedicated to lava sculpting, glass-making, and olive trees

Naming Pattern: Everyone on Skene and Pya has a single name, which no one else has ever had. It is usually constructed from key letters and syllables of parents and other ancestors, arranged in a new configuration.

Pronunciation Key:
ç -- spoken as ssch.
J -- spoken as sh with a tiny rasp, audible mostly to Skeners
Lj -- spoken as leey followee by vowel sound.
Ng -- spoken as ing.
Sz -- spoken as soft, slurred j
X -- spoken as Hebew ch with an aspirate
Zh -- spoken as English ch.
Most names have emphasis on first syllable; Halling, however, is pronounced with equal emphasis on both syllables, as Hahl - Ing.

(Click on image to enlarge)

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.


Blue said...

Awesome. Keep it coming, please!

C. Diva said...

*grins dopily*