8FOLD/HCC: Orphans of Mars # 1, "Imperatrix Rex!"

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Tue Jul 16 20:34:24 PDT 2013

On Monday, July 15, 2013 3:12:05 AM UTC-4, Andrew Perron wrote:
> On Mon, 15 Jul 2013 03:45:32 +0000 (UTC), Tom Russell wrote:
> >    "Our mothers said much the same thing to justify their actions," says
> > Petara.
> >    "Hold your heresy, apostate. Garaka might have brooked it, but Quasha
> > shall not. I take this chair, unless one seeks to take it from me."
> And immediately mad with power. I see!

Perhaps, but Petara also forms a special case, as hinted at here and in JOURNEY INTO # 12, and will be developed more fully in subsequent adventures. The society from which they hail is very religious, ordered, and bound to traditions. They are not particularly tolerant of, say, snarky atheist vegetarians. (And even the vegetarianism might be an offense when you're talking about a society that actually has bottles specifically designed to store the blood of one's enemies for drinking later). As Ress mentioned in the first story, all the other heretics were executed by the White City, but not Petara. There's a reason for that, which we'll get to somewhere down the road, but for now the reader will want to keep in mind that Petara is fairly ostracized from her fellow Daughters of Mars, and in some ways deliberate ostracizes herself. So Quasha lashing out or threatening her might not play to the other Daughters as mad-with-power, but finally,-someone-who-will-lay-down-the-law-on-that-godless-heretic. So it might even be a populist gesture and populism, as the Gracchi discovered, is an excellent way to keep and hold power. Though in this particular case, it did not work out so well.

> >    "I do not need you to be with me or against me," says Quasha. "There is
> > but one vote, and that is mine alone."
> >    Jarissy nods her head in submission.
> Everybody seems to have signed onto this really quickly!

Well, this is also meant to be a little bit of world-building, but perhaps I could have established it with a bit more finesse. The idea is that the Imperatrix has absolute authority, and so what they so, goes. This power is supposed to be divinely-derived. The little speech that Quasha gives, that rather than ask if something is right (morally), they do a thing, and because they did it, it must have been right. So if Quasha declares herself Imperatrix, it is the goddess's will that she be Imperatrix, and if Nerrine becomes Imperatrix, well, it is also divine will. Everything that happens is meant to happen. Now, there's a lot wrong with that logic, but it's not anything that bothers the Daughters of Mars (other than perhaps Petara).

That said, it's Jarissy that "honestly" submits without harboring any doubts. And Jarissy is the brawny crazy warrior type who would sign on whole-heartedly and enthusiastically to Quasha's plan.

> Naturally I love this world. <3 And I'm pretty excited about these
> characters, too. The plot was a bit predictable, tho, after it became
> obvious Quasha was powergrabby without a huge amount of competence.

That's a fair criticism certainly. I would say that Quasha perhaps does not have a huge amount of competence *in this context*. In a context with which our Daughters of Mars are more familiar-- say, warfare against other humanoids, or even the beastly fauna of the now-red planet-- Quasha, and Garaka before her, might be very competent leaders both militarily and socially.

Think of them, in some ways, as being like hotter Klingons. Klingons in their natural environment are extremely good at what they do, and what they do is live for battle and die with honor and on and on and on. They're not hiders, sneakers, or survivors: they're full-frontal violence. And that's okay, in a context that doesn't require hiding, sneaking, and surviving.

So another reason, besides the Imperatrix-as-only-voice concept, that the others buy into or at least don't put up much of a fuss when Quasha declares herself Imperatrix is that she, like Garaka and Jarissy, is likely a very competent and successful leader in the context of Martian warfare and society. On a planet filled with dinosaurs, you're quite right, she's dumb as rocks.

And so, probably, was Garaka. Nerrine seems a little smarter and more competent, but she's also in some ways very fragile, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Anyway-- yeah, I can see how the basic outlines of the plot (that Quasha's leadership would lead to disaster and Nerrine would step up to the plate) pretty obvious. What we intended as the "twist"/unpredictable element was how things went haywire-- that being that we went in a more comical direction (the massive sauropods ignoring everything) rather than, say, everyone getting eaten by a T-rex. That was my co-writer's rather inspired idea, as I probably would've went for them being in deadly danger.

Being that the plot was pretty bare bones-- and, fair warning, with this series the plots are likely to be pretty straightforward-- I tried to focus more attention on the world-building details and character elements (specifically Nerrine and Ress). I'm glad I had enough of both in the story for you to enjoy it despite the predictability of the plotline.

> Overall, though, I'm DEFINITELY looking forward to more.

So am I!

> Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, hm hum hum

Thank you for reading, and the kind words.


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