Letters Column for July 2011: “Eaten by Nobilis”

Wow, I wanted to get a lot further into letters today but I have 16 minutes to write this. Prepping Nobilis for shipping has EATEN me, except last night when instead it was crazy noisy. At least I’ve kept a record of the silly Greek dictionary I’ve been writing in the contributor’s comp copies, so you’ll see something funny and cool.

I will try very hard to make it up to you and have a post on Friday or two next week.

Three responses I wrote last night:

That is the best C.S. Lewis tie-in I have ever read. Even better if it wasn’t deliberate. Well, I guess when you draw from the same source material, after a certain point, Aslan is assumed.

Don’t end the story the same way. (Not that I would ever need to tell you, or Jane, that.)
— Aetheric, on Stupid Words and their Stupid Power, Anyway

“Further up and further in!” laughed Jane, ripping back the sky to show yet another layer of the onion that is the Lands Beyond.


Does that mean that firvuli could secretly be pink without the monster even noticing?
— Aetheric, on There is a King

The population of pink firvuli has tripled in the past sixth months alone.


I find this astonishingly creepy.
— charlesnooooo, on There is a King

Was it the Tarzan joke? Because I have a less creepy Tarzan joke!

What happens when Tarzan and Jayna bump fists?

He turns into a bucket of tar-water!

I do not know, however, if he says, “Wonder Tarzan powers—activate!” as he transforms or if it is “by the power of Greystoke!” All of these kids’ shows are an incestuous tangle of memes ultimately deriving from the fertile, heaving brain of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who also invented the Batman villains Edgar Nygma, Rice Boy*, and Rotten Burroughs. If you did not know that Superfriends and He-Man were based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories you will probably not have understood why Virginians like Kal-El and Prince Adam were able to display such terrifying strength in the feeble “yellow gravity” of Earth.

* Rice Boy was defeated by Batman and sent to Arkham Asylum where, under the conscientious care of the Arkham Asylum medical personnel, he fully recovered from his derangement, renounced villainy, and went on to become a productive if always somewhat rice-themed member of society. I think there is a webcomic focusing on his adventures somewhere, although for obvious reasons Batman had to be a robot.


A Greek lexicon or dictionary or THING, because I couldn’t number the artist/editor/layout copies but the space where I’d write a number was just staring at me!


α is for αbαcus!

The αbαcus of Krowl computes the world—so very very slowly!


β is for βubble!

The cosmos is stretched on a βubble’s edge.

Once you pop, you can’t stop!


γ is for γ radiation.

After being exposed to this radiation some people turn green. Others shout: “Whyyyyyyγyγγyγ‽”

It is a pun because γ looks like y and y sounds like why but in fact when exposed to gamma radiation people just yell it reflexively.


δ is for δancing.

δance, and the world, it will not have to enδ!


ε is for εthεr.

Luminifεrous εthεr is what spacε whalεs brεathε. That is why thεy wεrε always laughing and having dental work donε until thε Michεlson-Morlεy incidεnt sεnt all of thε shining spacε whalεs away.


ζ is for ζxζ.

ζxζs are animals, like striped, evil ponies, that wanted to be ζebras but couldn’t because ζ doesn’t look at all like a Z*. Luckily they are OK with their fate. If you ask them how they are they will howl their eerie yet more or less satisfactory cry: “ζxζ”

* particularly in a handwritten font, such as the font I used when writing these into artist copies, where they look like fancy 5s.


η is for ηoise. ηobody likes ηoise wheη tryiηg to think up what η staηds for but ηoise is actually a very useful predator that eats the household bugs that are made of sileηce and sileηt sorrow! η η η! It is the only Greek letter that has six invisible legs and one invisible zeppeliη, the which you cannot see.


θ is for θutterflies.

The Greeks had more copies of θ in their alphaθet θut after they flew away the Greeks invented unique identifiers.

So that was OK.


θ is for θutterflies.

The Greeks had more copies of θ in their alphaθet θut after they flew away the Greeks invented unique identifiers.

So that was OK.


ι is for “ι do not know what this thing is.”

I do not know what thιs thιng ιs but ιt starts with ιota.

I think maybe thιs thιng ιs a ιaser-hawk that has become two-dιmensιonal to escape the cyber-magιcιan purge.


κ is for κaκκarot. It is the only Greeκ letter with a bowl of water balancing on its head. κappa does this because it is good training. The Greeκs did it because they really loved Dragonball Z.

(Achilles was not “sulking.” He was watching the Buu saga. Read your Homer!)


λ is for the λ calculus.

The λ calculus is performance art by the unfinished stick figures of Logopolis, where ambient mathematics brings them to life and fills them with a desperate urge to dance and to compute functions — but oh! So very soon!

How great their dances would be, if they were only finished; for then the female λ would have long luxurious hair, and the male λ a goofy hat!

If they could wait for completion before they δance!

… but they do not.


μ is for μotorcycle.

When the μotorcycles of angels fall to Earth we think that they were stars.


ν is for νerifiable. It is νerifiable that this is the letter “nu” from the Greek alphabet and not the letter “ν” from the English alphabet, but the proof of this statement is too extensiνe for the space allocated for writing herein.


ξ is for ξalls-ξhort.

This is the least of the problems with Ianthe’s last name (see pg. 134 of Nobilis). It was also something of a problem for the Greeks, at least until they invented Tiggerξ!

(Because it looks like a Tigger tail OK don’t judge me)


ο is for “ο why did I think it would be obvious from context, if someone only sees one of these entries, that this is a dictionary of Greek letters? Whγγγγγγγγγ!!!”

That is an in-joke to the entry on γ, by the way. I am a terrible, terrible person.


π is for πoothpaste.

πhe Ontario Actual cannot return while the children of the world keep their teeth brushed clean—

and while it stays gone, our circles shall be clean in form and not in ratio.


ρ is for ρde Island, the smallest U.S. State. I have included a scale map for your convenience.



(This one’s special. It’s just for you! It wasn’t written into anybody’s book. But, seriously, I can’t just skip Ωmega!)

Ω is for Ωranges. Ωranges were invented in the late 1920s by Dr. Kelly Superb, rhymologist, who used them to reform the hip-hop Victorian rhyming slang scene. She has been lost to history. At least, until now!


ς is for ςupreme Being. It’s the last entry in this dictionary. It’s the ςupreme entry. Whγ? Because frankly scholarship isn’t what it was in the modern day. A girl’s got to reflect the times, you know what I’m saying? You can’t expect people in today’s ultraserious academic world to keep track of how many Greek letters there may or may not have been.

Anyway, ς is for ςupreme Being. If you are lucky enough to have this entry on ς in your hands, that could—

in sum—

be you!


Best wishes,


6 thoughts on “Letters Column for July 2011: “Eaten by Nobilis”

  1. Woo, Nobilis! Any idea when those of us who missed the Special Edition will be able to order hardcopies? *totally not impatient at all*

  2. I don’t really know how ordering Nobilis will work! I’ve been too burdened to figure that out. I will find out soon and let people know, though.

  3. I called my FLGS about Nobilis 3e the other day. They seemed unaware that any such thing was in the offing. (And their computer was down so they couldn’t check. It wasn’t brick-and-mortar retail’s proudest day.)

    Don’t have anything to say about recent Hitherby, and probably won’t for some time, since I’m in the process of rereading from the beginning, to refresh my memory and then to catch up from where I drifted off some years ago (some time after Unclean Legacy, I think, but not sure exactly where).

    A paragraph of It’s Only Wounds (I/I) sent me into helpless bitter tears earlier this morning. Will attempt to persevere nonetheless. Tantalus(I/IV) had me repeatedly in stitches. That helps a bit.

  4. “It’s Only Wounds” hits me hard as well…not least because of the coincidence that my sister who killed herself was named Erin.

    (A sense of fairness compels me to note that our mother resembles the mother in the story in — to borrow a phrase from another Hitherby story — only the vaguest and broadest respects.)

  5. So, here’s the thing that gets me about Tarzan:

    Raised by apes.
    Only learnt English from books – he understands written English, but never learned to associate the letters with sounds. It’s a plot point that at first, he communicates with Jane only through written notes.

    So where did he learn how to spell Tarzan?

Leave a Reply