Hapdorn stories

Hapdorn

Capital of the Grand Duchy of Thorgelfayne

An Interview With Bobo

Recently, Bobo agreed to answer some questions that I had.

Ken:
I was wondering if you could explain the diet of a person from Homeland.
Bobo:
That is a very interesting subject! Biologically speaking, all homelanderoid species are omnivorous, meaning that they can eat, digest, and obtain sustenance from both vegetables and meat.
A very interesting book Sentience and Diet: Probable Links by Dr. Lahas Norti (Fomin City College Press, 17810) explores this topic further. In it, Dr. Norti maintains that strict carnivores have too many conflicts to rise above savagery, while strict herbivores (such as cows and horses) do not develop sufficient social conflict to need a civilization. A carnivore’s food might fight back, so its strategy is to stand and fight. Herbivores never face the problem of their food fighting back, so they don’t need a strategy. They just run away and graze somewhere else. This is why no one has seen a bear stampede, and why no one has been mauled by a cow.
Since strict carnivores eat very high up on the food chain, they require too much hunting territory to develop sufficient interdependence. Thus Dr. Norti reasoned that sentience and civilization will develop primarily in omnivores, who need to strategize like carnivores and cooperate like herbivores.
If Dr. Norti is correct (and it appears that he is), then it is no coincidence that human and homelander diets consist mainly of meat, vegetables, fruit, and so on.
Ken:
What about vegetarians?
Bobo:
Vegetarianism is a matter of conviction, not biology. A vegetarian is an omnivore who chooses not to eat certain foods. A number of Homelanders are vegetarians.
Ken:
Are there any differences between homelander and human diets that you can think of?
Bobo:
Oh, definitely. Although both species can enjoy the cuisine of both planets and benefit nutritionally, there are some differences. Homelanders on Earth have to increase their salt intake and take a mineral supplement; however this depends on the individual. There are some minor problems which look like food allergies; for example, Homelanders generally can’t eat strawberries. Which is a shame, because I love them.
Ken:
How does spaceflight work? How can Melissa get to Homeland so quickly without going faster than light or experiencing Einsteinian time distortion?
Bobo:
I am an anthropologist, not an astro-navigator, so I can only give you a simplistic answer. We are all homelanderoids, none of us have feathers, and none of us can fly. Until the airplane was invented, our movements were limited to the two-dimensional surfaces of our planets. If you wish to go from New York to San Francisco without an airplane, you must cross rivers, deserts, swamps and mountains. Some of these are formidable barriers, and the journey takes a long time, because you are limited to the two dimensions of left-right and forward-backward. When the airplane was invented, it added a third dimension: up-down. In an airplane you can simply maneuver around the obstacles that caused you so much grief before, and the journey is much quicker! Our spaceships are simply a straightforward improvement over airplanes. They are simply capable of maneuvering through a few additional dimensions.
Ken:
I see. Are there any intelligent creatures in these alternate dimensions?
Bobo:
(Laughing heartily) You’ve been reading too many comic books! Did you discover any intelligent creatures when the airplane allowed you to explore the mysteries of the up-down dimension? Of course not! A tribe of Homelanderoids living on a birdless plain under a permanent heavy cloud cover might not think of the up-down dimension. As soon as it was demonstrated, it was obvious, even though it had not been apparent before. That’s the way it is with interstellar maneuvers.
Think of a twelve-story apartment building. No matter what story you are on, the floor seems to be as far down as you can go. If you live on the first floor, there might be eleven identical apartments above you, all of which have a different “ultimate down.” You and your upstairs neighbors live in the same place in the first two dimensions (on the ground), but in different places in the third dimension (above the ground).
In a some strained sense, all those apartments are in the same space in different dimensions. The device for interdimensional travel in an apartment building is called an “elevator.” You might say that to get around the speed of light, the spaceship just takes a cosmic elevator.
Ken:
What about time as a dimension?
Bobo:
Technically, that is considered a dimension, but I don’t know what role, if any, it plays in space flight, except that we avoid time dilation.
Ken:
What about artificial gravity on spaceships? I notice that Melissa was not weightless from the Moon to Homeland.
Bobo:
Interplanetary traffic, from the Earth to its Moon, or from Homeland’s first Moon to Homeland, does involve some weightlessness. Interstellar traffic does not, for health and comfort reasons. There is no such thing as artificial gravity in the sense of a mysterious field projected by some sort of generator. However, there is simulated gravity. One possible way to achieve this is to rotate the ship so that centrifugal force provides the physiological and psychological comforts of gravity. However, I don’t know the precise method used on either of Melissa’s ships.
Ken:
Is the gravity the same on all civilized worlds?
Bobo:
For the most part, yes. The greatest difference is between Earth and Zerpick. It’s not possible to make a subjective comparison between two planets, because space travel in simulated gravity makes it difficult to remember precisely how the gravity used to feel on the planet you left behind. After all, gravity just feels like different degrees of down! That does not mean that all planets inhabited by homelanderoids are the same size. There are homelanderoids living on planets that have a larger surface area than earth. The size of a planet is only one factor in its gravity.
Zerpickers living on Earth do not report any particular discomfort, but research shows that they develop a statistically significant number of gravity-related illnesses if they remain here over a long period of time.
Ken:
What sort of gravity-related illnesses?
Bobo:
Certain cardiovascular disorders, compressed spinal disks, broken bones as a result of falls; things like that.
Ken:
I am intrigued by the sexual equality in Thorgelfayne, especially by the female Duke!
Bobo:
Manni Thologar is Duke because she qualifies, so Melissa, John and I consistently use the term duke instead of duchess to avoid any possible implication that’s she’s only a sort of Ducal first lady.
As far as sexual equality is concerned, we abhor it! We disdain any sort of equality at all, although there are some democracies on Homeland that still prize this political concept! Thorgelfayne prides itself on individuality. Each person stands without prejudgment before the law. It is repulsive to our legal system to assume that any individual possesses virtues, vices, talents, or handicaps simply because they appear to belong to some group. The fact that Manni Thologar is a woman may be interesting trivia to some people. What is most important is that Manni Thologar is Manni Thologar.
Ken:
Are there any matriarchies on Homeland?
Bobo:
The days of matriarchies and patriarchies on Homeland ended centuries ago.
The definitive (but dusty) work in this area is Sexual Identity and Political Form by Prof. Dr. E. Fargnon (Snodgrass Press, 17815). You might want to read it, if you are interested in ancient history.
Nowadays these distinctions do seem silly. In the ancient proto-Halakanian empire, only people with red hair could join the priesthood. This apparently silly distinction had a valid historical origin: the red-heads were the descendants of a conquering tribe. Because red hair is a recessive trait, the way to ensure red-headed offspring was inbreeding, but inbreeding has additional consequences. It became more and more difficult to find an intellectually competent head of state as years passed. The last three high priests were of remarkably dull intellect, having attained the office solely by hair color; so the empire fell.
Matriarchies and patriarchies run into the same problem. At some point, the people of the 'right' sex don't have the right talents, but the people with the 'wrong' sex do.
Ken:
Melissa has mentioned some temperatures. What scale is she using?
Bobo:
The International Standard Measurement System, adopted in ancient times. The temperatures are in degrees Halakanian: water freezes at 0 degrees and boils at 256 degrees. Normal human body temperature is 94.7 decimal, and normal homelander body temperature is 95.0 degrees.
Ken:
Someone asked me if you have any special powers.
Bobo:
It is quite popular here on Earth to attribute all sorts of exceptional talents and even magical powers to Homelanderoids from other planets. Of course, we don’t have any, and that will be very clear as soon as we go public. In the meantime, the only special powers I possess are the power of observation and the power to go home.
Ken:
How soon do you think that the World Council of Countries and Independent Jurisdictions will make its presence on Earth known publicly?
Bobo:
I have no idea. At least there are no plans that I know about.
Ken:
Can you compare the technological levels of Homeland and Earth?
Bobo:
Yes. Aside from space travel, there really is not much difference. Technological progress is uneven over time: it starts out fast, and then levels off. Humans are in the fast start-up phase at the moment. Homelander technology excels mainly in quality and reliability. Another major difference is in distribution: most humans live much as they did before the industrial revolution. Since we have had our technology longer, it is more uniformly distributed.
None of the humans on Homeland are experiencing any sort of future shock. Culture shock, yes, you get that just from settling in a different country, but future shock, no.
Ken:
What to you have to say to the reader who thinks that all this is fictional?
Bobo:
I’ve never lived in a novel before, especially not one where the characters discuss and even criticize the author. However, to these people I say: Skepticism is good intellectual hygiene, keep it up!