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May 24th, 2008

New draft


So... hmmmms.

Even though some people keep telling me that the subject of the relationship of Earth with some intergalactic confederation is mega-old-hat, the story of Ambassador continues to generate genuine interest. I think what has been done less often is setting more than half of it on a future Earth, and developing both Earth and alien cultures, and then seeing Earth through the eyes of the alien culture. Often, these stories take place in an unrecognisable future, or indeed not even on Earth at all. Where the stories do take place on Earth, they are concerned more with the discovery that there *are* aliens in the first place.

The other thing is that the story isn't *about* Earth joining the alien federation. Although there are talks to that effect, it isn't happening in any hurry for all sorts of reasons, and this scenario merely forms the backdrop for the story, which is about the question: who killed the president?

So, OWW members may have noticed I've pulled everything. That is partly because I had some ideas that require me to change the beginning of the story, so there's not much point in leaving the to-be-changed chapters up on the workshop.

So I'm opening another draft and I will start by writing a chapter outline and then filling it in.

More about Dawkins tomorrow.

cargo cults


OK, a little bit on Dawkins then... but no dissertations, just something really cool I didn't know about, something which I've absolutely GOT to include in some story or rather... In fact, I can already see some slots for it...

Cargo Cults.

In making points for an argument I shall talk about later (either tomorrow or Monday, depending on when I finish reading the book), Dawkins illustrates how religions can spring up very quickly. He does this by mentioning the totally cool cargo cults which sprang up in response to white visitors on several Pacific islands (these were independent 'religions' which were all remarkably similar in design).

It went something like this:

Islands in the Pacific being numerous and widely-spaced, there were quite a few of them where the first serious contact with white people only came in the early to mid 1900's. These people saw the white men coming in boats such as they had never dreamt existed, and these white men then set about some really weird behaviour. They erected tall poles and spent talking to garbled voices in a box, while dressing up locals in uniforms and marching them up and down. All the while, the white man never did any work. Sitting in an office was obviously not work. Yet every now and then, another boat would come with this wonderful cargo.

ERGO!

The pole, the voice-in-the-box and the dressing up were rituals to appease a deity who would then send all this incredible material, so if the locals only repeated that behaviour...

Apparently, there is one such cult still in existence in Vanuatu, built around a mythical figure by the name of John Frum. David Attenborough apparently documented this cult (must look this up). Apparently a woman sits in a 'tower' with bamboo 'earphones' on and a piece of electrical wire wrapped around her waist. Dawkins says it is disconcerting that even though he was supposed to have come to Vanuatu some time not too far before 1940, there is no evidence that John Frum ever existed (so much for western record keeping) although it is clear that the cult must have been inspired by SOME white man.

oh - isn't this just begging to be included in a story somewhere?

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