Golden Witchbreed

Tanaqui tweaver at imbolc.ucc.ie
Thu Mar 2 21:54:16 EST 2000


Philip:
 
+ Well, I was actually thinking of the Orthe (Pentarchian) as the place "where 
+ the Other Peoples lived".  I agree there is very little in common, but I was
+ wondering (since DWJ read Golden Witchbreed shortly before she wrote SWM)
+ whether the name might have been poached.

It's always possible that it passed unconsciously. I was chatting with Ken
Macleod on Wednesday, and trying to establish how much of his references to SF
besides the chapter headings were deliberate - and he said he'd made up the 
band name "Babies with Rabies". Now, I was utterly convinced that that was a 
nod to Vonnegut's _Cat's Cradle_ (the guy in the elevator calls the Hoenikker
kids "Babies full of rabies") - and, since Ken Macleod has read the Vonnegut
book, it may have percolated deep into his consciousness and surfaced as some
flash of unacknowledged inspiration. 

Who would the Other People in Gentle be? The fenborn, those Uplifted by the
Golden, the Golden themselves raised by the transient insect-people, or those
stranded sojourners? There isn't the diversity of Diana's magical races, be
they centaurs or winged peoples... or the pale bloodline of the guardians? 

+ > Pentarchian place has no notion of the n'ri n'suth relationship binding 
 
+ No, I didn't mean that at all!  (So it doesn't matter that I don't agree...)

Sorry, sorry. Much easier to misconstrue in e-mail.
 
+ > Carrick V feels like a real world, and has real people.
+ 
+ Agreed.  (Why is it that you and I agree on so little?  No, don't bother to
+ answer!)

hmm, we seem to be fairly consonant, but niggling over little points |-)
 
+ Actually I found the title, "Golden Witchbreed", rather offputting, and nearly
+ didn't buy the book as a result.  Just as well I did, though...

See? Agreement point - I thought it would be a dire fantasy, but it turned out
to be good empathic SF/fantasy.
 
+ The other thing I find offputting, since you mention it, is the use of the 
+ title Hexenmeister.  Why this isolated German word?  (= master of witches)  
+ Is it supposed to be a native word - in which case why choose a German word 
+ so close in meaning? - or a translation - in which case why German, of all 
+ languages?  It sticks out like a sore thumb...  The only thing I can think of
+ is that she may be using a different Earth language as a way of showing that 
+ it is a different Orthean language.  In which case, I see what she means - I 
+ just don't happen to like it.

Ah, now, the way I see it: I think the word is supposed to stand out. Avoiding
spoilers for the sequel, the Brown Tower is shown to be like Browning's -
without an equal in the whole world. The Witchbreed and the standard Ortheans
have witch-fingers (what a sixth finger would be called on a human), and a tech
which is a mastery of soft-science: gene sculpting and the mind/blood-controlled
chiruzeth. In _Golden Witchbreed_, Barris Rakviri's manipulation of chiruzeth
is a matter of mental trickery like incantation, with some mechanistic twiddling- the Hexenmeister, though, is unique - a serial immortal manipulating all the
peoples of Orthe from kir hidden fastness. 

I don't think it's supposed necessarily to be from a different Orthean dialect,
but I think it is supposed to be slightly remote and awkward (like Stephen
Donaldson using Buddhist titles for his Ravers, but also sprinkling the 
Chronicles with commonplace Giants and Lords). 

Tanaqui 
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