Letters Column for June 2005


Welcome to July. It is my hope that July is a month in which things get better for you. ^_^

In June, I received $1105 in donations, plus books by Homer and others. Thank you very much! I hope that you found it worth your while.

My friends are back from their honeymoon and I assume the second monthbook will be ready pretty soon. I am hesitating on the third monthbook until I decide whether to put the second and forthcoming third Rainbow Noir pieces in it; other than that, I believe it is edited.

Thank you for all your kind comments!


Does it follow from the title’s premise — that “here there be dragons” when something to be mapped couldn’t be — that then dragons help map the emptiness primarily by indicating what of the emptiness can’t be mapped?
— Taper

Imagine a child with no concept of death. She is in the forest and her parents die.

This is inexplicable; incomprehensible; a destruction of the boundaries of sanity and the world.

Now give her the concept of death. Suddenly they are not mysteriously absent, but dead. Suddenly their fate is not incomprehensible but pseudo-comprehensible: she can say, with authority, “I understand where they are, which is to say, they are in the place dead people go, about which I know nothing.”

In such a fashion do dragons help map the emptiness.

It is fundamentally epistemologically different to have a blank space on the map which is unknown, and a blank space on the map marked as the place where dragons sail, about which we know nothing.


However, I’m not sure sharks qualify as an entity type in the same way as angels or dragons, since they have only appeared in a single legend, and never in a story or history.
— Metal Fatigue

This is a source of great debate amongst the dolphins. Of particular concern to dolphin philosophers is the traditional question of externalism vs. internalism in the categorization of sharks, or, more precisely, whether an object falsely but reasonably imagined to be a shark can be considered a shark for purposes of oral history.


It just occurred to me: the sheep here, and the lamb in Having Missed the Dragonflies Entirely, are undoubtedly portrayed by the same actor. I would love to know how said actor came to join the GTTC.
— Metal Fatigue

She fell from the sky during a sheepstorm.

(I am lavish with the spoilers today!)


I’m so glad they ate those damn urethra birds.
— Elazair

They also ate the nose finches, which is why no one has special tiny finches that live in their nose.

Not even rich people! Or celebrities!


Words fail to adequately describe my joy at seeing a return to Rainbow Noir’s little land.
— Ford Dent

Yay! There should be a treat for you soon, then.


I wouldn’t want to live in a world (where pickle and corned beef sandwiches do not taste good)
— S

Think globally, act locally! If we work together we can stop the corrupt entrenched corporate interests from altering the observed evidence of reality to fit their twisted corned beef and peanut butter world.

It is my understanding that they would also have us add chives.


This is the most political hitherby I can remember, or maybe I’m just off my meds. Just wondering if this is a direction we can expect in the future.
— tem2

Hitherby will never be particularly political.

That said, I reserve the right to tell legends about political things directly relevant to the themes of this story, such as Creationism, Guantanamo Bay, Alberto Gonzales’ memo, and the Patriot Act.

In the end, I admit, I do not think these things are good.


The Mayan calendar ends in 2012. I assume that this is when the jaguars finally land?
— David Goldfarb

I hope so! It’d suck for them to have to wait a whole nother long count!


I would add that in structure, style, and several of the unusual elements (like the part of the story that is acknowledged to not be resolved, but is kept because it is part of the story) the legend is like an African folk tale about how something came to be.
— rpuchalsky

Yay! I was, in fact, aiming for that.

Speaking of which, I have another story inspired by an African myth in the Ethereal Player’s Guide for In Nomine. I’m rather pleased with it, but no one ever talks about the EPG around me. It makes me sad! ^_^


Billowing, eight-armed
Once he had been smaller
Once he had a name
Now he was simply the Kraken
And his tentacles stretched, grasped
With suckers larger than millstones
Clamping to the undersea fiber optic cables
He could tap the lines somehow
And would wallow in the wash of words
Saying nothing himself, sometimes only a chirp of mystery
He would know all the seas
The silent meditation
Within the whisper of the deep streams

— rpuchalsky

Huh! I wonder if this is the same Kraken who wanted to store $8.2 million dollars of money from the land of the named in my account.

(I nearly drowned but learned a valuable life lesson about meeting mysterious business contacts underwater.)

I also like the bit about the nodding.


Panto can gulp air down and hold it for up to an hour then burp it out all at once
— Juke Moran

This is an extremely valuable skill!

I am glad in a way that Panto did not sell out to the corporate gulping machine but it is kind of sad that he did not appear to make a profit from his gifts.

I also like the last line.


“If you never had a soul,” Jacob’s corpse notes, “you obviously couldn’t leave a ghost behind when you were turned into a candy cane.”
— Metal Fatigue

This has the unsettling implication that no candy cane has a soul.

. . . so, then, what does it have?

Also, I liked the corpse’s unimpressedness.


enjoy eating produce
— HedgeMouse

I will!

I am really flattered that you went to the effort of building a magic square story. Thank you! Also, the crabs are cute.


“It is the word of God! What is here will create a new world order! A pillar of fire and light descended from the sky and the hand of God gave this to ME! I have been chosen by God to deliver this message to man kind!” And so on and so forth.
— thezood

I understand this message is also available on Betamax videocassette.

I liked this story’s premise.


Thoughts on the Original Purpose of Gods

. . . “No, no! I need you here. Without you, I would be alone.”
— HedgeMouse

You can also propitiate them to resolve crop failures!

I liked the bit about real estate.


I think it’s too bad that souls work in Hitherby this way, though. If in the Hitherby-universe soulless creatures have no empathy, like androids in PKD’s _Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep_ or vampires in _Buffy_, it would be to some degree OK that they never-endingly sacrifice themselves, and we shouldn’t feel sympathetic about Ivan not wanting to be made into a candy cane and his choice not being honored.
— rpuchalsky


I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling sympathy for the things that happen to the mini-people.

But are they capable of suffering?


Well, I’m posting because it’s criminal that this has no comments yet.
— Elazair

Thank you! Also, thank you, JasonP. ^_^


he’s just gliding on it, one foot wearing only a brown argyle sock.
— Juke Moran

Argyle pales before arhonesty!


Technically speaking, it would seem that only the Secretary of the Treasury, rather than the Senator Domino, would be empowered to instruct the Bear-Fires to audit the one-way sign demon, and cut off his supply of funding.
— ADamiani


I was wondering if someone would look that up.

That’s it for now! Thanks again, and see you all this coming month. ^_^


9 thoughts on “Letters Column for June 2005

  1. “I also like the bit about the nodding.”

    I’m glad that you do!

    That poem was based in part on what I see as the four basic archetypes of Hitherby commenters: the conversational ones, the celebratory ones, the analytical ones, and the cryptic but occasionally seen lurkers. I might have added another stanza and another explorer to add something for the creative writing/drawing types, but I decided that people who do that generally comment as well. (Besides, the four explorers in the poem are also the four subsidiary characters in The Wiggles, after appropriate post-cyberpunk change, and there wasn’t a fifth one.)

  2. Metal Fatigue: “However, I’m not sure sharks qualify as an entity type in the same way as angels or dragons, since they have only appeared in a single legend, and never in a story or history.”

    But they are a common repeating trope in Hitherby, as part of the idea of a set of animals that can be cruel without conscience or hate. For instance, Jane describes giant spiders in The Castle (III/IV): “But I think it’s the way that they’re cruel without hating. They do monstrous, horrible things. But inside their heads, it’s cold, clear, and empty. They’re not ugly like demons. They’re pretty. Like the winter. And they have potential.”

    There are many, many mentions of sharks and spiders, as generic animals, in Hitherby.

    So they aren’t a Hitherby entity in the sense of a type of magical entity that really exists in the Hitherby world (the giant spiders presumably do exist, since they’re in a history, but they aren’t gods), but they do exist as a recurring metaphor in Jane’s mind.

  3. Yay! I was responded to thrice! My existence is validated! I feel all warm and tingly! [size=9:00e8a1eaa4”>…In one sense it’s pretty awful that this was the high point of my week, but in another it’s not. Many things are unimportant compared to Hitherby.[/size:00e8a1eaa4”>

    Rebecca: candy canes have sugary peppermint goodness, of course! (Or sugary peppermint evil, if you have diabethics. It’s all in the pancreas of the beholder.)

    Rich: good point re: spiders & sharks. And I kinda dig being Skeletal Dog.

  4. Re: looking up:

    To be honest, I was mostly just checking to see if you had, or simply plucked one at random. The scope of your erudtion is truly astounding at times, and I occasionally like to gauge just how impressed I ought to be . :)

    That, and the Sailor Senator piece deserved a mildly wonky comment!

  5. I was responded to only once…but then I’ve been much lazier about commenting recently. Of course, histories tend to inspire me to comment more than legends do, and histories have been thin on the ground lately.

    And I don’t think it’s pathetic of you at all to enjoy being noticed by Rebecca. Rebecca is cool.

    How’d you do that thing with the font, btw?

  6. David: [color=#FF0000:93543cd46a”>’tis[/color:93543cd46a”> the [size=18:93543cd46a”>wonder[/size:93543cd46a”> of BBCode.

    And I didn’t say it was pathetic; I said it was awful. As in, this has not been a good week for me.

  7. It occurs to me that Rebecca, being a gamer, but not a filker, is probably not aware of Ben Newman’s songs. More particularly, I’d like to point her toward Here Be Cartographers, which features lyrics like:

    Have you ever read “Here there be dragons,”
    Out on the edge of the world that is known?
    Well, if you have, go and tell your cartographers:
    “Yes, there are dragons, they’d rather you left them alone!”

  8. That poem was based in part on what I see as the four basic archetypes of Hitherby commenters

    I defy your attempt to categorize me, sir!

    The principle of full disclosure, however, compels me to admit that I have forsworn analysis of Hitherby Dragons content. For the most part.

    – S –

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