Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Facts Of Lokon

"The Sharing of Flesh" also mentions Neuvamerica. (p. 685) (For full reference, see here.)

"...she bit her lips shut - blood trickled unnoticed down her chin - and drove the sled in silence." (p. 691)

If Evalyth does not notice the blood at the time, then should it be mentioned in a passage narrated from her point of view? The other way to impart this information is to tell us that she noticed it later.

Evalyth still drives her gravsled in pursuit of her husband's Lokonese murderer, Moru. See here. When she finds them, Moru, his wife and two sons resemble grotesque gnomes. Their appearance makes it easier for her to loathe them but this is not morally relevant.

Another fact is relevant. The Lokonese do not merely believe but know that their sons must eat human flesh if they are to become men. This is not a superstition to be condemned but a condition to be cured. Problem solved.

5 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But first the Allied Planets expedition on Lokon had to DISCOVER that the universal cannibalism on that planet WAS necessary for mere survival, not a barbaric custom. And only Evalyth, thinking out of the box, discovered that.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Cannibalism, especially the ritual variety, is a very old phenomenon; but it's never been universally prevalent. That ought to have been a warning sign, though it was disguised by the fact that there was only one (moderately) civilized state on the planet and the rest were all rather brutish hunter-gatherers.

It's significant that the hunter-gatherers were -so- uniformly primitive; the suspicion and feudism that compulsory cannibalism would produce would make that likely.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Exactly! Again you made points I should have thought of as well. As should the other members of the Allied Planets expedition on Lokon. Someone should have asked himself sooner: "Why does EVERY tribe or nation on Lokon practice cannibalism, despite its disadvantages?"

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Especially as, if it was just a custom however deeply entrenched, editing it out would give the people who did that a massive survival advantage.

There has to be some physical factor, some selective pressure, maintaining the custom.

If you look at Mesoamerican civilization, for instance, where large-scale human sacrifice was present from very early times, you find the fantastic elaboration and gruesome scale the Conquistadores found in the early 1500's (*) accompanied severe population pressure and ecological problems.

Mexico's population in 1516 had reached a level that it wasn't to see again until the 1920's.

(*) they ate the bodies of the sacrifices, by the way.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Yes, the "selective pressure" forcing ALL the Lokonese to practice cannibalism was the genetically transmitted flaw preventing boys from reaching sexual maturity on their own. They HAD to eat men in order to be able to have children.

I used to know online an ex Major of the US 82nd Airborne who was very read in history. And one of the things we discussed was pre-Conquest Mesoamerican cannibalism. Major Humphrey said that one big reason human sacrifice and then eating of the bodies of sacrificial victims was so widespread in this are was due to the sheer lack of food sources adequate for an urbanized society. There were no satisfactory and domesticated MEAT ANIMALS. People were largely dependent on maize and maybe some other crops. So, it was unsurprising that the Mesoamericans took to eating the bodies of human sacrificial victims. Protein is protein, after all, whatever the source!

But of course eating humans was disgusting and the Mesoamericans had to rationalize and excuse by working out elaborate religious justifications. Also, the introduction by the Spanish of cattle, swine, sheep, goats, etc., would do away with any need to eat people (assisted by their conversion to Christianity).

Sean