Sunday, October 26, 2008
Author Interviews, Continued: Al Past with Ana Darcy
Ana Darcy, of the Distant Cousin series, is the first alien to have come to Earth from another planet. She is a human alien, though, since her people originally lived on Earth over 3,000 years ago. She graciously consented to this interview in the interest of promoting the amicable unity of her fellow Thomans and the peoples of Earth. The questions were submitted by her fans (whose initials appear after each). Her responses have been minimally edited by Al Past.
1. What was the most amazing and astonishing thing that you discovered when you first set foot on earth? (CH)
Oh, my. It was the majesty of Earth, the overwhelming beauty that struck me immediately. When I arrived, I was terrified. I had lived for so many years in a tiny place. Then the passage through the atmosphere was very violent, and I was afraid the escape pod was being destroyed. I didn't know if I had landed at the right place, or if something might attack me when I opened the hatch. My first sensation was the feeling and the smell of the west Texas night-time air, crisp and fragrant, cool and dry. (Later I learned the aroma was from the juniper trees and creosote bushes.) When I climbed to the top of the ridge and saw the dawn, with the mountains and lights far in the distance, lying peacefully under the dome of the stars, it was so beautiful. I realized I was home; our people were home at last. I will never forget that.
2. Ms. Darcy, besides being a woman of extraordinary talent and intelligence, you seem to have the knack for bringing out the very best in everyone with whom you interact. Do you consciously seek to do this, or is it merely the positive effect your own personality has on others? (JW)
You do me too much honor. Thank you! I do not consciously use any particular strategy when dealing with other persons. People generally respond well to respectful treatment. Not all do, to be sure, neither here nor on Thomo, but most do. I like to be treated that way myself. It's a different matter when I am in public as myself, however. Celebrities seem accorded great license. It is often a burden.
3. Ana, I am always impressed by your character, your determination to do the right thing. You act like a serious Christian and I wonder, have you and your husband ever thought about taking your children to church? He must have been a Roman Catholic and taking your children to his church would seem natural and it would help them understand the culture too. (MM)
Yes, my husband was raised in a Roman Catholic family. He tells me they were "relaxed" about it (his word). His father is an independent-thinking gentleman, and I believe his son is much the same. As for myself, while I have been fascinated by Earth's religions, I have not found myself drawn to any to the extent of abandoning my own. I do believe there is a creator of the cosmos, but I cannot claim to understand its nature, nor can I believe that the creator has an awareness of us as individuals. But I do know the universe is orderly, even the parts we do not understand. The source of that order has to be the creator. It falls to us, as parts of that creation, to honor and maintain it in harmony, and to assist others in doing the same.
Our children have attended Roman Catholic services with their grandmother, as well as services at a number of other places of worship. They are aware of a great number of belief systems. As they mature, I expect they will be able to choose the paths that best fulfills them.
Followup question: Did you have anything like a religion on your home planet? Or did you study ethics and morals? Meditation? Anything of a spiritual nature? (MM)
Oh, yes, of course we have religion! Surely, that's one thing that distinguishes us as humans! The first of us to arrive on Thomo were animists, believing that objects and the phenomena of nature had spirits. Those beliefs were shaken by our translation from Earth to Thomo. Over time this system coalesced into worship of a dual supreme being, cosmic heads of clans, in effect. In more recent times, approximately 600 years ago, the two entities gradually melded into a single deity. Today, most Thomans believe in an abstract deity. It reminds me of what I have read of the American Indians' concept of a "Great Spirit." Many Thomans attribute a consciousness to this spirit; some do not. We disagree among ourselves about a great many things, but theology, fortunately, is seldom one of those.
As to ethics, morality, and the other branches of philosophy, yes, there are those of us who ponder these matters. Again, how could one be human and not ponder them? Meditation is not practiced as a separate technique. I suspect that the various schools of meditation on Earth are a function of your many cultures. Thomo, unfortunately, is homogeneous, and lacks the variety and richness of your cultural resources.
4. Your native language, Luvit, fascinates me, Ms. Darcy. Could you briefly explain its relationship to Earth's languages? How many languages do you speak yourself, presently? (BS)
I'll try! Luvit has been determined to be a separate branch of Indo-European, which is one of the 15 super-families of Earth's languages. Within the Indo-European family, English belongs to the Germanic branch. Russian and Polish belong to the Slavic branch. Luvit shares characteristics with both, and therefore must have branched off from Proto-Indo-European a very long time ago, perhaps 3000 years. Linguists have found it a useful source of data to recreate the original Proto-Indo-European language, which has disappeared without a trace. It is an additional benefit that since the separation, Luvit has not been affected by contact with any other human language. Though it has changed over the centuries as all languages do, it offers a much closer and purer tie to the linguistic parent of all European and Scandinavian languages, as well as Hindi and and Iranian and Afghani. I owe a great debt for this explanation to Dr. William Sledd, philologist and linguist, who together with a team of linguists, studied Luvit in great detail. I served mainly as their informant.
As for my other languages, I am most fluent in Luvit and English. I also have passing familiarity with French and Spanish, as well as very elementary abilities in Czech, Russian, Sedlak, Hindi, Japanese, and Chinese, which I studied privately for some years.
5. What stories and legends do your people have about the race which removed you from Earth and about the journey from Earth to Thomo? Did the alien race that transplanted your people to Thomo give you any assistance for survival on the new planet? Have your people ever encountered any artifacts of that alien race on Thomo? (DS)
We have only the most basic conjecture as to the beings who took our earliest ancestors to Thomo. At the time, we were not literate and not experienced enough to understand what we were going through. At first the travelers' memories were preserved in oral verses, passing through several generations, until being written down. Here is what little we know.
No one ever saw the beings directly, because they wore some sort of covering. Surviving drawings and legends indicate they were large, perhaps half again as tall as humans and maybe three times the weight of a human. We do not know if the covering was so they could remain hidden or because Earth's atmosphere, and Thomo's, might have been harmful to them. We know nothing about the method of transport, only that our ancestors were treated well. We were approximately 1300 in number.
Thoman history is counted in generations as well as in Thoman years, which would be meaningless to you (although they are 14.7 Earth months long). When I left Thomo, we were in the 162nd generation, with a generation counting as 20 Earth years. According to our stories, the beings returned seven times, the last being in the 14th generation. After that, they communicated electronically through the 65th generation. Since then we have heard nothing from them. We don't know if they disappeared or if they are still following our affairs. If they are, we have been unable to detect it.
The first generations had a very hard time. Many died. Gradually, the beings (the Thoman word for them is the Others) supplied assistance and technology. A writing system was created. Agriculture was developed. (Our ancestors had been nomads.) Civil engineering began. Over the generations, materials technology, tool making, electricity, medicine, and basic physics were introduced. The Others never spoke to us with sounds. Since the 85th generation, we have been on our own, inventing and innovating without further help. Thus, if Thomans are more advanced in some respects than the people of Earth, it is not necessarily because we are smarter. We had help!
We have no artifacts of the Others whatsoever, beyond the developments they fostered. We don't know why they moved us to Thomo. Perhaps most significantly, we do know that there is at least one race of alien beings besides humans in the universe. That has had a great impact on our thought.
(To be continued)