Tuesday, 22 May 2012


The star Zoria is an F8 sun, a third again as luminous as Sol. The terrestroid planet Dennitza is half covered by ocean. Axial tilt and rotation period cause extreme weather and climate. Less than a million years ago, a shower of giant meteoroids caused an ice age. Now, sea levels rise in the Great Spring.

Terrestrial human beings colonized Dennitza about 2450. About 200 years later, Merseian immigrants arrived and in 3047 comprise 10% of the population. Their self-designation is "ychani," seekers. The human Dennitzan term, possibly contemptuous in origin, is "zmayi." Displaced by political conflicts at home, ychani provided labor for new Dennitzan industries. Able to endure cold better than humans, they mainly live on the Obala, the east coast of Rodna, the main continent in the northern hemisphere, where they specialize in fishing and pelagiculture. The legendary ychan hero Gwyth dared the storms and sea beasts of the Black Ocean.

In Dubina Dolyina province, Danilo Vymezal is both the voivode (hereditary aristocrat) and the nachalnik (governor chosen both by the Gospodar {planetary head of state} and by the popular assembly).
Cultural influences: Vymezal's bugle call is an immemorial Merseian war song; his wife sings an Eriau lullaby to their daughter, Kossara: Dwynafor, dwynafor, odhal tiv.

Religions: human Dennitzans, Orthochristians worshiping in St Clement's Cathedral, later canonize Kossara Vymezal, who has a large tomb on Founders' Hill. Some ychani of the Black Ocean remain pagans referring not to "the God" of Merseian religion but to Afherdi of the Deeps, Blyn of the Winds and Haawan who lairs on the reefs.  

Yovan Matavuly led the human pioneers who, like other emigrant groups at the time, wanted to preserve traditions, customs, language, race etc. They speak Serbic and Imperial Anglic while the ychani/zmayi speak archaic mutated Eriau. 

Dennitza, still in its ice age, has limited habitable areas. Mahovina turf and woodland duff are soft and springy. Evergreen equivalents are low and gnarled with blue-black plumes. Firebush burns spontaneously to ripen and scatter its seeds. There are no ornithoids but orliks are winged theroids. Flocks of yegyupka fly south; guslars trill; a horned bull leads a herd of yelen; riba caught from the Lyubisha River can be fried to eat. 

The original colonists, having to survive without sophisticated technology, developed a baronial clan system which persisted under industrialization. The Shkola, university and research center, preserved learning almost from the beginning of the colony. Lake Stoyan and the capital Zorkagrad are in the center of the Kazan, an astrobleme containing woods, farms and rivers, on Rodna. In Zorkagrad, the fountain before the Capitol in Constitution Square contains bronze statues of the hero Toman Obilich in combat with wild Vladimir. On a rock hill beyond the Square are the battlements of the Zamok or Castle, the executive center.

The Gospodar, elected out of the Miyatovich family by the plemichi, clan heads and barons, has supreme executive authority subject to Grand Court rulings on constitutionality. Court verdicts are reversible by the Skuptshtina, a Parliament with chambers for plemichi, commons and zmayi, although more than once in history a demonstration of zmayi has marched into the House of the Zmayi and been heard. One demonstration in 3047 carries the white star on blue standard of Yovan Matavuly and the red axe on gold of Gwyth. A militia, the Noradna Voyska, has been basic to Dennitzan society since the Troubles.

The nachalniki, i.e., heads of okruzhi (baronies or prefectures), are hereditary or elected by resident clans or appointed by the Gospodar depending on ancient usage. Towns and rural districts have elected councils. Ychani have preserved the Merseian organizational form, Vachs. For example, Ywod is Hand of the Vach Anochrin as well as steadcaptain of the fishing village of Nanteiwon on the Obala. Kyrwhedin is Hand of the Vach Mannoch, a member of the House of the Zmayi and moot-lord of the Obala steadcaptains. In this third capacity, he presides when the steadcaptains meet around a table made from timbers of Gwyth's ship in Council Hall at Novi Aferoch at the Elena River mouth.

Gospodar Bodin Miyatovich, having supported the Imperial usurper Hans Molitor, was rewarded with governorship of the Taurian Sector which faces the Merseian Rhoidunate. Ychani, not wanting Merseian rule, are loyal to Gospodar and Emperor. The Dennitzan poet Andrei Simich celebrated the deeds of the Founder and other ancestors but, in the absence of Simich, we must make do with a prose account of Bodin's raid into Merseian space.

Source: Anderson, Poul, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, London, 1978.

(For convenience, dates are as given in Sandra Miesel's Chronology of Technic Civilization but see here.)


Paul Shackley said...

I am still rereading A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS so there may be a few more details to add.

Paul Shackley said...

A few details have been added.