Isle of Myth
Excerpts from the journal of Jean Dubois
The gig moves easily to the motion of the waves. I stare out across the endless waters, thinking back.
It has been fifteen months since the trihorn ripped my leg and made me a cripple. By now the herds will have come and gone, and all the men will once again have distinguished themselves. The young men will have taken wives.
Thinking back. And burning with hungers I can never appease.
Where do the herds go? Every year they come from the north, running with the melt. It has been thus since the Lydia arrived. Every year they come from the north, go south, but they never return from south to north. Therefore, where do the herds go, and where do the herds come from again the next year? People say the beasts cross the polar cap and return by following the northward melt on the other side of the planet. This is pure nonsense as anyone can tell from the reports in the computer. Jandrax – Andrax – may have known but he never passed the information on.
(FYI, reader, Andrax knew and talked about it with his friends from the Lydia, but apparently none of the other colonists got the message – or knew but did not pass it on.)
What happened to Jandrax? No one will tell and I could not find the answer in the landing craft’s computer. Of course, I am no technician and the questions I can pose are quite elementary. I fear for our future. We have wrapped manhood up in hunting until no one who is not lame or blind will even smith the guns the hunters use. What madness. Only six of us still know how to run the computer.
Here is another mystery. The computer gave me the roll of the Lydia. Andrax was a supernumerary. There were eight crew members and one hundred colonists. None of the crew members still live. Why?
And what of the precursors? Who built the ruins that the elders sometimes mention? And who are those others whose existence the elders would like to deny?
The elders meet every such question with silence. They have fairly killed the curiosity of my whole generation.
I have with me a map of this region and another of the whole planet. I transcribed them painstakingly from the computer. It seems to me that the herds must follow the northward melt and that the only place they can do this is on the opposite side of the lake. That is a region as unknown to us as another planet. I am going there; again (and this question I must aim at myself), why?
Three comments —-
1. This is the other remnant of the first draft which I left in first person, like the Hallam story, because it clearly works that way.
2. This is a story within a story, and longer than a normal chapter, so it is divided into sub-chapters. I like that effect, and used it widely in Cyan. It probably contributed to T. A.’s impression that this was a bunch of shorter works glued together. No, it is a basically simple story, with enlivening elements treated discursively.
3. This section comes dangerously close to committing the young author’s besetting sin of whining. Thou shalt not whine. Write it down and tape it on your computer screen.
Jean doesn’t whine, quite. His character is saved by his fortitude after his maiming, by his work with Levi-Steur, and by the fact that this quest is his way of continuing to fight against his fate.
Structurally, it is important that this comes late in the novel. If thou must whine, don’t do it in Chapter 1 or your reader will never reach Chapter 2.