Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

1 +-+ +-+ +-+ +-+--+-+--+-+ VOLUME THREE NUMBER FIVE | | ========================================== +___________+ FFFFF SSS FFFFF N N EEEEE TTTTT | ++ | F S F NN N E T | ++ | FFF SSS FFF N N N EEE T | | F S F N NN E T |_________| F SSS F N N EEEEE T /___________\ ========================================== | | BITNET Fantasy-Science Fiction Fanzine ___|___________|___ X-Edited by 'Orny' Liscomb <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> CONTENTS X-Editorial Orny The Acquisition, Conclusion Roman Olynyk Review: Soul of the City - TW8 Orny Narret Chronicles, Book 2 Mari A. Paulsen Narret Chronicles, Book 1 Mari A. Paulsen Date: 012086 Dist: 091 <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> X-Editorial Well, folks here it is, the end of volume 3! In this issue conclude both Mari Paulsen's Narret Chronicles and Roman Olynyk's Acquisition serials. Sandwiched in between is a short review of another new Thieves' World book, "Soul of the City". In the next issue, Volume 1, issue 1, the first of the Dargon writing project stories will appear, and I'll go into that in more detail in the editorial-cum-prologue in that issue. I would encourage readers to send in their comments on either Narret or the Acquisition, and they will be considered to printing in issue 4-1. By the way, Mari is considering writing a sequel series for Narret, and Roman is incorporating Banewood and Sod into the Dargon writing project, so you can expect more from them, as well as the other authors involved with Dargon. And, of course, I'll plod on with news, reviews, and featured authors as time and submissions permit. Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing. I hope you all enjoy the zine and the upcoming fruit of the writing project as much as I have enjoyed writing for it. Catch you later... -Orny <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> The Acquisition Part Four: Conclusion Banewood and Sod remained awake most of the long night and occasionally fed more wood to the pyre. Only when they were sure that nothing remained of Kathryn's carcass did they rest for the waning hours before dawn. For breakfast, they ate a hasty meal of dried meat and bread, and then they departed in the same direction from which they arrived. Banewood managed to gather some of the strange simples and root stocks from the ancient herb garden he had passed on the way in. The path through the tangled thorn brush was certainly no easier than it was on the way in. Nature did not go out of her way to extend its thanks for a job well done. When they passed out of the thorn thicket and reached the forest, the two men found the same path they had traveled with the Silvan Lord. Surprisingly, the path was actually straighter than they thought when they travelled it a couple of nights earlier. Lessy, no doubt disheartened, was not to be found on their return trip, but Banewood and Sod were not dismayed, for now the dark forest seemed more alive than before. Previously somber birds were now joyfully singing, and occasional butterflies could be seen flitting among the treetops. On their way back home, Banewood and Sod found more to talk about. Banewood was excited about the book of ancient secrets he had found in the hut of Baba Yaga. He felt that this book could unlock the doors blocking his quest for knowledge of the Shaman's arts. Already, Banewood was practicing strange, new spells that he had translated from the book. His prowess was increasing steadily. Sod spoke of his dream to break away from his life as a plowman. He wished to sever his roots to the soil and become a journeyman, a knight errant of this kingdom upon the plains. He found that he now had the confidence to realize his dream. When Banewood and Sod arrived once again at the Ludki village, they were greeted by the entire population of little people. The smiles were upon the round faces and bright and exotic feathers dressed the tall caps worn by all. It was a state reception for the two heroes. Banewood and Sod walked waist-deep through the cheering crowd and stopped directly in front of Stickleburr. "Hey Sod, hey Banewood! It seems that you've killed Kathryn, for she can no longer be alive. The forest and plains are free again, though they've hardly known any freedom. Congratulations, yes, most certainly!" Spoke Stickleburr from atop his royal stump. The little people all cheered and waved their hats. All around the Ludki village stood cloth-covered tables layed out with fragrant foods -- all of the delicacies that could be concocted. Kegs of mead were everywhere in anticipation of a great feast in honor of the slayers of the monster Kathryn. "You've done an Immeasurable Service to all of The Ludki by Your Slaying of the Great Wolk and Kathryn," said Stickleburr in his finest rhetoric, adding: "Since your Service is Most Certainly not Measurable to even a single Ludki, and Since It wasn't actually Your Slaying of the Great Wolk and Kathryn because the Wolk wasn't all that Great and Kathryn wasn't at all Kathryn." Sod found it difficult, to say the least, to follow the circuitous speech of Stickleburr, but he did manage to glean the meaning: Kathryn was not really Kathryn. Did they kill the wrong monster? Worse yet, was there actually another monster like Kathryn? Stickleburr said: "I know what you're thinking, Sod, even if you don't. There is no other monster, for there was only one; Kathryn was really Baba Yaga because she was nothing else." Once again all of the Ludki cheered loudly. The feast was on and the music was struck. Flagons were filled with bubbly mead poured from the aged kegs. This was the best of brews, for this was to be the best of celebrations-- Kathryn was dead and Baba Yaga was no more. Without prompting, the two heroes joined in the merriment. Food and drink were both brought to the guests of honor. The large, round eyes of the Ludki bulged in disbelief at the sight of Banewood and Sod drinking their mead. Surely, the two strangers must have hollow legs to hold so much drink. Banewood and Sod could very well have had hollow legs, for they drank considerable amounts of mead even for men. They had had a long and difficult ordeal, and this was a welcome relief from the events of the past several weeks. And most certainly, this mead was the best they had ever tasted! While Banewood and Sod were enjoying themselves and filling their bellies, the Ludki danced furiously, spinning and hopping and clapping their little hands. The musicians were adept with their instruments-- strange varieties of many-stringed wonders. Suddenly, from some occult cue, the music and dancing and laughter all stopped. A lone minstrel approached Banewood and Sod, bowed, and began to pick his instrument. After several introductory bars, he sang a song whose chorus was joined in by all: "Tell a tale of Kathryn, a tough old sow with tougher skin. She razed the fields with flame and fire now where did she go? Hey! Chorus: "They ground her up for sausage links. They boiled her down for candle sticks. They tanned her hide and sewed some shoes so now she's hit the road. Hey! Tell a tale of Shaman folk who packs himself an awful smoke. He smoked a bit with Kathryn now where did she go? Hey! Tell a tale of a man named Sod who found himself a sharp old sword. He smote a bit on Kathryn now where did she go? Hey!" Banewood and Sod were both deeply touched by this tribute. In their dim age of little writing, great deeds were memorialized in an oral tradition. The song of their deeds could very well outlive any scrap of paper or even any memory of just who Sod and Banewood actually were. Stickleburr once again mounted his royal stump. The thin-haired and pot-bellied leader of the Ludki swayed slightly, for it was apparent that he'd been sampling his share of the mead. He rubbed his bulbous little nose to see if it was still there and then spoke to the gathering in long-drawn syllables. "My fellow Ludki. We are gathered here, for we aren't elsewhere, to Honor these Two Humans whom we don't wish to do dishonor for their Deeds. Hic. Since it wouldn't be Right to take them away, I'll present these Medallions to Sod and Banewood for their uncowardly Courage in defeating Kathryn-Who- Couldn't-Be-Defeated. These Medallions make known that which is not unknown: Sod and Banewood are forever Friends of the Ludki, for we cannot be your enemies even for a short while." Stickleburr paused to hang the medallions around their necks. He hiccuped and continued: "I must tell you, for it wouldn't do to tell another, that both of you will find Greatness, unless Greatness cannot be found but rather achieved. Hic! Sod, it is not a coincidence, though You may think it is, that You found Wolksmert. Wolksmert found You. Wolksmert, the wolf-slayer, was crafted many hundreds of years ago by the Ludki, for it could have been crafted by none other. It seeks the hand which can guide it, unless that hand can't be found, then it will evade the unsure hand, though an unsure hand is more likely itself to evade the sword! Hic! Sod, wield Your Sword wisely, for to do otherwise would be foolish. Hic! Hic! "Banewood, you shall be a Powerful and a Good Sorcerer, though You may not think You are either. In Your lifetime You will undo much of the evil that has already been done by the Evil Sorceress, for You can't undo that which hasn't already been done. Hic!" Stickleburr was quite obviously reeling now and finding it difficult to keep his balance. He continued to feel for his nose, but he couldn't find it for the numbness. "So let Me say, unless you say I can't say it, that You Two have found Greatness that you never lost because you sought to acquire it. Hic! It was there-- it wasn't anywhere else. Hic! I... I... I must stop now, for I think I've had too much to drink, though if I start on it, hic, I'd say it wasn't the drink that I drunk-- the drink's not drunk, rather, I drank the drink, unless I drunk it. It was already drunk, but now I'm the one who's drunk-- Hic!" With that, Stickleburr spun off his stump, much to the relief of the other Ludki, who had become almost as confused as Banewood and Sod. While Stickleburr lay passed-out with a smile upon his numb lips, the other Ludki-- those who weren't also passed-out-- endeavored to follow their leader. Banewood and Sod joined in the twirling, leg-kicking dance of the Ludki and shouted "Hey!" The dancing, music and magic lasted long into the night, and remained in the memories of the two humans long after many things had passed. A warbler's song awoke Sod from his slumber. Rosy morning rays penetrated the covering of trees and illuminated the Ludki village with radiance. All around the beehive ovens and little houses and strewn-about kegs lay the supine bodies of Ludki, some still wearing their pointed hats and bright feathers. Sod's pre-breakfast mind pondered over the many events that had recently come to pass. He'd seen so many things that he'd never thought he'd see-- the Ludki and the Silvan Lord and parts of the great countryside surrounding Gorod. Things he'd wished he'd never seen-- the Great Wolk, Kathryn and Baba Yaga's hut. Stories from his childhood had come to life, and all he had to do was to brave seldom-travelled paths. How many more wonders lay waiting to be seen? He didn't know, but now he would endeavor to find them, for his curiosity had finally been aroused. After they had both broken fast, the two journeymen washed away the grime of the last few days and bid farewell to their friends, the Ludki. Banewood and Sod promised to respect the privacy of the little people; they would not divulge the existence and location of the Ludki, who wished to maintain their distance from the human race. As Stickleburr explained, once upon a time, many thousands of years ago, the Ludki lived near humans. It was Ludki adroitness with smithing that led humans to request from them weapons of iron -- weapons the Ludki had no wish to forge. The few weapons they did make, the Ludki imbued with a magic that would not allow their use without purpose or good intent. Wolksmert was one such weapon which had survived that golden age of metal working. By the time Banewood and Sod reached the center of Gorod, they had acquired a persistent throng of followers eager to hear news of their adventures. Most expressed murmured amazement that Banewood and Sod returned alive, uninjured and not white with fright. If anything, they even looked healthier than when they had originally undertaken their quest. Banewood's Ludki-crafted arrows were hidden away and both of their medallions lay hidden beneath their tunics. Banewood and Sod only offered unembellished details of Kathryn's final moments. They didn't mention Baba Yaga's hut or even the great wolk. There was considerable rejoicing among the populace at the news of Kathryn's death. Regardless of how little the two travelers told, they were highly regarded by the folks of Gorod. They were heroes. Inside the Antlers, Sod and even Banewood were offered seats of honor and given drinks of crude tavern mead. As the days went by, Banewood and Sod would often meet there to discuss their plans for travel. This time they were going across the plain in search of distant cities. Tales were told of men in the far away cities who rode upon the backs of four-legged beasts, and Banewood and Sod both agreed that they would like to explore more of their world. It was now late autumn, and what little harvest there was that was spared by Kathryn's harsh breath was stored away. The daily work routine was slowing in pace. The time was ripe for travel. A few large bottle flies were marauding about within the Antlers, enjoying the late warmth and making a general nuisance of themselves with the few customers. One daring fly kept alighting near Sod, trying to divert the normally stolid plowman. The air intermittently cracked with the resounding whack of Sod's large hand upon the table. He couldn't kill the pesky fly. "Yeauh, Sod," yelled the Miller from across the tiny room. "Why don't you let Banewood give the fly some of his smoke. The little critter'd get so dizzy it would burn itself into a hole! Harr! Harr!" Banewood cast a glance at the bottle fly buzzing around their heads and sent it to the great beyond with a tiny, explosive pop. The Miller, who saw this, inhaled part of his mead and coughed. Banewood and Sod laughed. -Roman Olynyk <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> REVIEW: The Soul of the City Thieves' World Book 8 When I first saw the new Thieves' World book on the shelf, I thought to myself: Oh, boy, another TW book to drudge through and review for FSFNet. Well, the seventh book (which also came out only recently), "The Dead of Winter" was good, so I jumped in, even though it takes too much time to read and go to school. Folks, if you haven't read "the Dead of Winter" and the most recent book, "Soul of the City", you're in for a TREAT! After Aspirin's third or fourth book, I had lost interest, due to a stagnation in the characters and events in Sanctuary. As if reading my mind, these most recent books each seem to focus on one aspect of the authors' writing styles that had been lacking. "The Dead of Winter" contains superb characterization, and each character portrayed leaves a lasting image on the reader. The book reads like several short stories about Sanctuary's inhabitants. The new book, "Soul of the City" is it. For all you people who knew that it would eventually come down to war in the streets, here it is: the resolution of all the conflicts of Ischade and Roxanne, and everyone who's anyone is town, including the new Rankan emperor. In contrast to the style that "the Dead of Winter" was written in, this book flows and has excellent continuity. It is an action-packed novel, not a collection of short stories, and despite my schoolwork, I had a very difficult time putting the book down. This book, written entirely by Lynn Abbey, C.J. Cherryh, and Janet Morris, is supposedly the lead-in to a forthcoming book by Abbey entitled "Beyond Sanctuary". I encourage any Thieves' World fans out there,as well as fans who have become disenchanted with the series, to pick up books 7 and 8. Each is in a different style, but both are well worth the time. -Orny <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> The Narret Chronicles Book the Second "The forum you requested is waiting Dr. Ht" said Colonel Roberts as they escorted Samo to a waiting helicopter. "Both the president and the premier are anxious to meet with you." "They should be, I've come a long way to meet them." Samo replied rather smugly. "Ladies and gentlemen," Samo began, "I have been sent here by a very costly effort on behalf of my people. By the words "my people" I do not mean the people of my country, or even the people of my planet, Amrif Arret. By those words I mean the people whose lives you will destroy, those people whose advanced knowledge and advanced technologies may never be shared with any of you in this room, or with any human. "Why? Not because there are no longer any humans to understand us. Why? Not because we are unable to communicate with you, or to bridge the gap of space between us. But simply because you would rather collect a set of nuclear playtoys for winning childish squabbles over masses of dirt to put your under-populated, over-fed, fat human bodies on. And go about praising your documents of law, your 'Declarations of Independence' your 'Constitution' and its 'Bill of Rights' with their claims of perfect unions, the establishment of justice, and most of all the self-evidence of all men being created equal. Those were noble thoughts. Thoughts, far more they were than words, they were the Ideals upon which this great country was founded. These thoughts, these ideals of peace, equality, and justice came from men far nobler than those before me. "Surely you may grow impatient with my gruffness, please hear me out I implore you for your own sakes and the sakes of my people, hear me out. "I cannot understand how two adults can even think to begin compiling the weapons you have compiled while there are thousands, no, millions of your brethren dying throughout your world. How much can these rights mean to you? How much does the equality of creation mean, when you will tomorrow blow each other off of your precious land masses and ruin your world for those who had nothing but hope anyway, all for naught. "All because you worried that you may not be free tomorrow to have all your own little worries and troubles taken care of, that tomorrow you may not be as comfortable as today. Soon, very soon, if you continue this deadly and insane weapons compilation, there may not be that tomorrow you're so desperately worried about today. "If you were to continue, and had a last and final war, you gentlemen should be congratulated. For you gentlemen would be responsible for the ultimate extermination of entire solar systems in not one, but two universes at the same time. "You see, what you've failed to realize is that if you blow your planet to the fifth physical dimension, you'll be blowing my people up with you. And not only will the destruction of good old Terra Firma have an effect on the Solar System, but it will have an equally disastrous effect on the Losar System. Our entire planet will merely "go out of existence" as you know it. In addition, my people will have no say whatsoever in that event. Is that within your concept of fairness equality, and justice? If so then how about within your forefathers? "Furthermore, who knows what may be said will happen at the unbalancing of energies within this universe itself. How many other life-forms' chances of survival will you destroy, in that solitary instant of selfishness? "I came here hoping to find some reasonable men. Men of a knowledge of peace, and instead I found the ignorance that breeds belligerence. I did find hope though, and that hope lies where I knew it would, in the men of science. The hope lies in those who were bright enough to create weapons of war, and it rests in those men with talents to make the weapons of mankind's enemy, disease. Your physicians are those within whom your hope lies now. "Before I came here, I met with two of your physicians to better the knowledge of mankind in defeat of Cancer. You will find, if you take the time to decrease your stockpile of weaponry, that if you give your doctors the insurance that their efforts will not be in vain and the assurance that there will be a world full of people to help tomorrow, they may just be able to find a cure. The hope of peace, and of life itself lies in your hands. Why don't you give it back to the men who deserve it most. The men in both your countries who have been fighting for years for the same thing, the prolonging not the extinguishing of life--your physicians." -Mari A. Paulsen <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<> The Narret Chronicles Book the First Samo stood there in silence as his last words echoed throughout the auditorium. Then suddenly his ears were filled by the tremendous sound of applause by third world countries while both the president's, and the premier's eyes welled with tears as they looked at each other realizing how right he was... "<<>>" "Catabilizer--Load Future Analog tape running from last approach to Terran planet number three." Samo replied to his onboard computer. "Well, so it was..." Samo said to himself, wondering if he was going to be as successful on this trip to Earth. He sat there wondering, in the quiet of his spacecraft, rather dazed by the immensity of it all, as a great light appeared in the heavens in front of him. And at once he new he was late. Ignorance had won, and greed had gone too far. -Mari A. Paulsen <>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>X<>


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank