Psi and Psi-Like Abilities

Mundane: A person without psionic abilities beyond erratic, rudimentary telepathy or precognition.

Fey: One with psionic abilities that are measurable, reliable, and genetically inheritable.


Absolute Direction: Unerring directional sense, manifested as a homing instinct, or as a sense of framework (i.e. always knowing the way North).

Agstone (sometimes "Hagstone"): Complex machinery, usually resembling polished stone, which amplifies natural psi abilities.

Astral Projection: Ability to project a visible or invisible body across distance. The original body is usually comatose during an astral projection.

Augmentation: Ability to increase the effect of other psi powers.

Bilocation Ability to be in two or more places at the same time.

Clairvoyance: The ability to sense present events, regardless of distance, size, or intervening barriers. Gross clairvoyance deals with the macroscopic world and is limited in resolution; micro-clairvoyance has nearly unlimited resolution. The verb "behold" is usually used to distinguish clairvoyance from mundane senses.

Forever Dream: An alternate state of consciousness in which the Daamin live most of their lives. Characterized by nonlinear causality.

Inner Voice: Form of mental communication used by the Hlutr.

Kedankat: Lorecanist mental state akin to the Forever Dream of the Daamin.

Linguistic Sense: Possibly a type of telepathy, which allows one to communicate easily, even with unfamiliar languages.

Location Sense: A form of clairvoyance that manifests as a tracking ability, enabling one to sense the location of an object, person, etc.

Pattern Formation: Ability to recognize/impose patterns on chaotic data/events. A Pattern Former is excellent, for example, at finding paths through labyrinths, trackless forests, etc.

Personality Projection: Ability to project portions of one's personality (i.e. moods, emotions, etc.) onto inanimate objects or places, so that others who contact them will feel the same.

Postcognition: Ability to sense events of the past. A form of clairvoyance.

Precognition: Ability to sense events before they occur.

Psiamine First of a class of drugs known as "telepathic dampers." Psiamine and its derivatives are primarily used in infancy and adolescence to dampen psi powers so as to protect Fey children from inadvertently harming themselves or others in exercising their abilities.

Psi-Block: A simple machine which serves to block psi influences. In the First Empire and much of the Interregnum, psi-block technology is in its infancy and effectiveness is low.

Psychokinesis ("pk"): Ability to influence matter by means other than physical contact. Gross psychokinesis deals with the macroscopic world and is nearly unlimited in power; micro-psychokinesis has sharp distance, mass, and force limits.

Psychometry: Ability to read the history of an object by physical contact.

Psychon: Hypothetical tachyon exchange particle for psi. Psychons are influenced by large, complex molecules (i.e. proteins and protein analogs).

Pyrokinesis: Ability to produce fire.

Song of the Hlutr: The total concert of Hlutr communication in the Inner Voice.

Stasis Formation: Ability to create a zone of stasis, in which time passes at a different rate than outside the zone.

Telepathic Projection: Ability to impose thoughts & feelings on others.

Telepathinet: A network of telepaths.

Telepathy: The ability to directly communicate mind-to-mind; also can include the ability to sense, read, or influence the thoughts of another. The drug psiamine is one of a class of drugs called telepathic dampers; they can deaden a telepath's sensitivity and are often used in raising young telepaths.

Teleportation: Rare psionic ability to move from one point to another in negligible time, without crossing intervening distance. "Zap" is slang for "teleport."

Temporal telepathic Resonance: Ability to link to similar minds in the past or future.

Watchers (of the Stones): Cadre of telepathic-sensitive volunteers on Nephestal, who attempt to divine meaning from the music of the Singing Stones.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Nobedila is one of the Scattered Worlds, notable for its population of sapient rock formations, an offshoot of Talebba lifeforms. Nobedila has an atmosphere of almost pure nitrogen and argon, and is absolutely devoid of biological life. Nevertheless, it supports a thriving (if extremely slow-paced) culture and a varied silicon-based ecosystem.

The dominant lifeform on Nobedila is the craton, a stable and long-lived formation of subcontinent size. Cratons swim on the denser mantle, taking millions of years to move any appreciable distance across the planet. Cratons generally communicate with one another via seismic waves propagated through the mantle and core of Nobedila. Craton communication has been likened to the song of whales, but of course the timeframe is hundreds of thousands of times slower.

The inhabitants of Nobedila also communicate with the rest of the Scattered Worlds through a form of telepathy. They are best able to communicate with other long-lived lifeforms such as the Hlutr. One craton of Nobedila, an individual colloquially known as "Grandpa Basalt," allowed a portion of itself to be moved to the Secluded Realm, where it serves as a platform for th Eldest Hlut.

Nobedila is one of the few inhabited worlds in the Galaxy to have no native Hlutr population.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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The New Renaissance

The New Renaissance was the period of the Interregnum, roughly 7540 CE - c. 10,600 CE, which witnessed the rebirth of dynamic, growing civilization in the Galaxy.

ABOVE: The Milky Way in 7500 CE

The Inngebauer Dynasty

In 7540 CE (5387 CI), disgusted with the Purchik Dynasty, the Credixian Reichstaag chose Josef Inngebauer as Imperator. Josef was the son of Stevn Inngebauer, an obscure Credixian Noble, and Meria Kerteza, heiress to the monarchial throne of Vetret. Josef's older brother reigned as King Denal of Vetret until 7540 CE; Josef I inherited the throne of Vetret and brought Vetret under the rule of the Imperium.

Josef was a dynamic, expansionist ruler; during the year he reigned, Credix conquered vast territories around Vetret and began looking beyond its borders for the first time in a millennium.

Josef's daughters reigned as Antonia XIII (7541 - 7574 CE) [5388 - 5421 CI], and continued her father's work. She reigned for 33 years and had three co-Imperators: her sister Marcia X (7546 - 7551) [5393 - 5398 CI], her lover Augusta XI (7545 CE) [5392 CI], and Augusta's daughter Nina VI (7545 - 7583 CE) [5392 - 5430 CI].

Prior to the reign of the Inngebauers, Credix had virtually no foreign policy. Perhaps because of Josef's childhood in the courts of Vetret, he was deeply aware that there were other powers in the Galaxy, somewhere far beyond the unorganized territories taht surrounded the Imperium. He was determined to bring Credix into contact with those powers; Antonia XIII and her successor Imeprators carried out his dream.

Under Antonia XIII, Credix signed a treaty with the Independent Traders, giving the Traders diplomatic immunity in Credix space, and allowing them to make full use of Credixian repair facilities and trade companies.

ABOVE: The Milky Way in 7600 CE

Teleskany-Credix Cultural Exchange

About 7650 CE, the Adelhardts of Teleskany allied themselves with New Sardinia and Borshall through a series of diplomatic marriages. Working through the Independent Traders, the Adelhardt Family entered into an alliance with the Credixian Imperium, assuring peace and mutual co-operation between Credix and Teleskany/Borshall/New Sardinia.

Jontan Adelhardt was sent to Credix and married Imperator Augusta XII (7650 - 7679 CE) [5497 - 5526 CI]. Their son became Imperator Mark XVII (7679 - 7740 CE )[5526 - 5587 CI].

The political agreement was little more than symbolic -- the two realms were on opposite sides of the Galaxy, and neither had the inclination to aid in wars that far away. But the real significance of the agreement was social. For the first time since the First Empire's fall, there was massive cross-cultural exchange between two of the Galaxy's major power groups, and exchange largely facilitated by the Independent Traders. The agreement also showed other powers an alternative to war -- an example of peaceful co-operation.

ABOVE: The Milky Way in 7700 CE

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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Dance for the Ivory Madonna Soundtrack

What’s All This, Then?

When I started working on Dance for the Ivory Madonna, I put together a tape of songs that I found inspirational, relevant, or just plain evocative. Through the planning and writing processes, these songs were constantly with me -- playing in the car during commuting time, in the background when I was writing, and in my head all the time.

In some of these songs you may recognize the genesis of some ideas, characters, and situations from Dance for the Ivory Madonna. Sometimes the inspiration is direct and obvious; in other cases the song bears little resemblance to what ultimately wound up in the book.

In these notes, I figured I would try to explain how some of the songs relate to the book, along with some reflections on the songs themselves.

Master Jack (Four Jacks and a Jill; from Four Jacks and a Jill)

This song was an obvious precursor of Penylle’s relationship with Jack/Marc Hoister.

Four Jacks and a Jill were a South African folk/pop group of the 1960s. Looking back on it, this song is a pretty courageous attack on apartheid and a social system that used the educational system and restrictions on travel to keep citizens -- particularly young people --ignorant of the rest of the world.

Wrapped Around Your Finger (The Police; from Synchronicity)

Another version of the Marc-Penylle relationship.

Rubenesque (The Duras Sisters; from Rubenesque)

I wasn’t exposed to the Duras Sisters until half the book was written. It’s a pity that I didn’t know about Rubenesque when I was sketching out Miranda’s character. Oh, well, at least I found it in time to include it in the official soundtrack.

Your Move (Yes; from The Yes Album)

This one helped me to get a handle on the relationship between a Nexus operative and his/her boss -- in this case, I see Miranda as the White Queen and Damien saying “Move me onto any black square.”

Of course, such a relationship can become damaging -- unless the boss is wise enough to force her operative to fly on his own.

Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel; from Peter Gabriel)

In this song I see the Nexus watching the U.N. and other governmental bodies, and becoming increasingly disgusted with the way nations play pointless, meaningless games with one another.

Games Without Frontiers probably got me looking into Medecins sans Frontieres, and so was at least a partial inspiration for Jamiar Heavitree.

The Logical Song (Supertramp; from Morning in America)

Here I see Damien’s dilemma…and the solution. As the book begins, Damien (like the singer) is waiting for someone to tell him “who he is.” And (as Miranda knows full well) any true answer to that question can only come from Damien himself.

The Piper (Abba; from Super Trouper)

This is how Marc Hoister’s preaching -- enhanced by Penylle -- affected the population.

And it’s a “dancing” tie-in. I don’t know, perhaps this song gave me the notion of “dancing” for the Ivory Madonna.

La Cage Aux Folles (from La Cage Aux Folles)

This song captures some of the outrageous feel I wanted for the Maris Institute.

The Time Warp (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

In the book, this became the Hyperspace Jig. I still like the original better.

The particular version I used is an extended and enhanced dance mix from Europe. I like to think that this is the version that played at the Institute on Friday nights…

You Don’t Believe (The Alan Parsons Project; from Eye in the Sky)

Another dimension of the relationship between Penylle and Marc Hoister.

I always mis-hear the fourth line as “Well it’s my need, but always your connection,” which seems to connote a junkie/supplier dynamic. It’s that, I think, that informed Marc’s supplying of prolactin -- combined with a synthetic opiate -- to Penylle.

Undun (The Who; from Greatest Hits)

To me, this song is all about Marc gloating over mistakes that Miranda has made. I picture the tone as gleeful as Marc anticipates Miranda’s fall and ultimate destruction.

After the Gold Rush (Neil Young; from Decade)

The first verse inspired InfoPol’s raid on the Institute.

In the second verse I see Penylle’s reaction to being told about Marc’s treachery.

The third verse, of course, is the source for Jack/Marc’s mercy dream at the end of the book. I think this is probably the root of the entire “migration to Mars” theme.

Hallelujah Chorus (Händel; from Messiah)

This played, endlessly repeating, during the hours I was writing the “Dagon’s House” scene. It’s a wonder my housemates didn’t strangle me. The whole Hallelujah Chorus element came from Darkover Grand Council, where the whole convention gathers around the pool on Saturday night to sing the Chorus.

Blood Makes Noise (Suzanne Vega; from 99.9 F°)

I think Suzanne Vega’s jagged, brutal song perfectly captures the anxiety that gripped a world which had seen plague after cruel plague sweep through defenseless populations. “The thickening of fear” is such a marvelous phrase for a constant doom that hung over the world, just as the threat of thermonuclear war was a constant doom hanging over the world in which Miranda grew up.

Part of the Plan (Dan Fogelberg; from Greatest Hits)

Miranda’s plans, Marc Hoister’s plans, the plans of the AIs -- Damien and Penylle are parts of the plan, but whose?

Cobwebs and Dust (Gordon Lightfoot; from If You Could Read My Mind)

Originally, I included this song in the hope that it would help me get a handle on WWH, especially in the scene where Damien and Penylle go to ask his help. Well, it didn’t turn out to be very much of a direct inspiration -- but I think some of the otherworldly tone crept into what I actually wrote.

Oh, and I do know that this song was the reason that WWH had settled on an island…

We Didn’t Start the Fire (Billy Joel; from Storm Front)

This song, as a reflection of the history of the Baby Boom generation, belonged here. It obviously informed a lot of my thinking about the Boomers as a superogranism.

And, of course, finally deciphering the line “children of thalidomide” was what gave me the idea of having Penylle’s mutation spring from the drug miruvorane…

Blinded by the Light (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band; from The Roaring Silence)

The line is “revved up like a deuce,” and it is a clear reference to the famous “little deuce coupe.”

I don’t know why people hate this song so much. Not only is it full of enough evocative names and images to inspire a whole shelf of books, but Manfred Mann’s orchestrated version is so superior, dramatically and in every other way, to Springsteen’s sleepy, mumbled variation, it's just not funny.

This song, more than any other, influenced Dance for the Ivory Madonna. In fact, this song informs just about every chapter of the book.

In particular, in the entire song I see the framework of the Terrad meta-program: that moment when Penylle and Damien brought all of cyberspace to a halt and changed the course of worlds ("With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round; with this very unpleasin’ sneezin’ and wheezin’ the calliope crashed to the ground.”)

You’ll find much more of the song, though, in the book.

There are the Nexus codenames: Silicon Sister, Go-Kart Mozart, Lil’ Hurly-Burly. There are capsule characterizations: Marc Hoister is “some brimstone-baritone, anti-cyclone Rolling Stone preacher from the East” and Penylle is “some silicon(e) sister with her manager mister.”

While I didn’t deliberately try to match events of the book to images from the song, there are echoes all over the place. I’m sure that the police helicopter in Kampala bears some relationship to the line “Little Hurly-Burly came by in his curly-whirly and asked me if I needed a ride.” Likewise, “Indians in the summer” relates to the Navajo homeland and the Dekoa flu outbreak.

Besides all this, the surreal images of the song certainly got me thinking about the different ways that the AIs thought and communicated.

This was another song that I played constantly over and over while I was writing the last chapters of the book.

copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers

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