Writing Hi there! You might remember me from ancient times. There is not a lot that's less entertaining than Golden Week when you have no money, so I have in boredom taken to writing. Not interesting writing, mind you, just slightly more interesting than the wall staring I would otherwise be doing. You might notice, if you read the following piece, that it is neither Diablo related, nor of the fantasy genre at all! Indeed, I invite the wrath of the gods themselves. You'll also notice, if I don't convince you not to read on, that nothing at all happens. You see, this isn't the kind of writing where things happen. It's more a way to start describing a universe I've been imagining that is not a bulleted list of locations and attributes. If I ever found it to be fleshed out well enough, I might set loose real characters in it, that would be capable of doing thrilling things. Wouldn't that be swell? For now though, nothing of the sort. If you like, you can criticize constructively. I also accept mindless praise and yen. 2522.06.13 Never get into a conversation with an anthropologist if you've got anywhere to be in the next week or so. As any one of them will be happy to tell you, the 26th century is for them what the 22nd was to astronomers. In the words of the one who ambushed me recently, a Dr. Statler, "We couldn't have set up a better experiment if we'd planned it that way!" He caught me, eight (Earth) days ago, at a little place in the north expansion wing, which I call a restaurant, but that's an Earth word, so it doesn't really work. Such is the way of most things here: something may fit fairly well into the definition of an Earth word, but simply because the word is from Earth, it is unsuitable to describe the object. They (the natives) call it by a name best transcribed to our alphabet as 'eacho'. Before I allow yet another journal entry to be hijacked by linguistics, back to the anthropologist. He was obviously a new arrival, off the cruiser that arrived from Sol yesterday. Ambling in with the unmeasured gait of an Earth-dweller, he made for me almost immediately. I reevaluated for maybe the thousandth time my fashion choices. I haven't got any problem with the standard robe (though I was a bit surprised to find, in the white light of my own room, that it's a bright green, not the dull gray it appears in the normal colony lighting). It's the patterns where I hesitate. The cost of the paste alone would be questionable on my expense report, though I could probably justify it in the name of fitting in, so long as my superiors never come here to see that any offworlder doing anything in the name of fitting in is laughable. More importantly, I would look ridiculous. Compared to the locals, any design I could render would be pitifully sloppy, probably offensive. But at least with a bit of decoration, I might not be so easily identifiable as an offworlder. Last I heard, they were building a museum on Luna to celebrate the cultures of recontacted colonies. When I head back to Sol, perhaps I'll ask a girl for one of her robes to donate, but with what I know of the culture right now, the consequences of such a request are not entirely clear. I could end up married, or expelled permanently from the planet, or both. Regardless, the more intricate of the patterns sported by females is as great an example of a culture's unique art as any one can find in humanity's history. Before I accidentally dedicate another journal entry to local culture and fashion, back to the anthropologist. He pulled out the chair opposite me and sat down, oblivious to the collective shocked intake of breath throughout the establishment. No, establishment doesn't work either. The hostess was on her way over in an instant, fire in her eyes. I signed at her best I could that he was a new arrival and didn't yet know the proper etiquette. She halted, looked on for a moment, then spun and walked back to her elevated seat. In the meantime, my new Earth friend was introducing himself, loudly. I looked back from the hostess to his extended hand, then up to his grinning face. "We don't touch in public.â€ I informed him, not particularly warmly. "And lower your voice, or we'll both be banned from the place." He withdrew his hand, and looked hurt for a moment. "Sorry. Just got off the ship yesterday, you know." "Yes, I know." He probably considered the ensuing silence awkward, which is, I assume, why he burst back into conversation all too soon. "Amazing, isn't it? How they live here?â€ He had taken out a notepad and was poking at it madly with his pen. "Still too loud. Actually, if you want to talk, it's best to do it elsewhere." "Oh... You can't talk in a restaurant?" "It's not really a restaurant." "You purchase food, and then sit down to eat it, do you not?â€ He was still too loud. I'm pretty sure I wasn't that slow when I first arrived. "Yes." He shrugged. "Well then, where do you recommend?" "Have you been issued a room?â€ I noticed the hostess staring at us again. She wanted me to get rid of him. I was doing the best I could. He looked at me suspiciously for a long moment. "You want to go back to my room?" "No, I want you to go back to your room. And there, you can talk as much as you like." He laughed, and I could actually see the ripple of irritation spreading out from him among the other patrons. I stood to leave, nodding at the hostess and signing to her my apology. The newcomer rose with me, and followed me out into the corridor. It's a couple degrees cooler in the corridors at night, a programmed simulation of the daily cycle one can't authentically experience in a contained environment. The ceilings are transparent in their simulated outdoors, wherever it's feasible to make them so, and purple light pours in from the sky, enhanced slightly by the interior lights of the same hue, which are used everywhere throughout the colony. It's very relaxing to go for a walk, or just sit down and try to pick out stars through the dust cloud, provided you don't have a noisy offworlder in tow. "Wait up!â€ He called, as I attempted escape. He quickened his pace, and was soon walking beside me. "Is it okay to talk in the halls?" I shrugged. "Good.â€ He grinned. "So, how long you-" "Three years. Why are you so loud?" His grin turned sheepish. "Last planet I called home was Kazta.â€ I'd never heard of Kazta. He anticipated my ignorance. "It orbits FI Virginis. Very loud bunch. Guess it rubbed off a bit. Anyhow, finished my studies there about five years ago, hopped the first ship to Earth, spent two weeks catching up with the universe and offloading my data, then I came out here." I didn't stop him, so he continued. "It's just fascinating, how these cultures have developed. Isolated for not quite three hundred years, but they've differentiated themselves faster than any of the old Earth nations." My distaste for the man's manner was rapidly being overcome by my fondness for his chosen conversational topic. He kept up the conversation alone for a few minutes before I finally broke down and joined him. I wasted the rest of my night talking with him about Iccap culture and language. As I've mentioned in past entries, the linguists here can't find a solid link to 22nd century English. Upon telling Statler of this, he nodded, and said the same thing was true with Kazta and old Japanese. He'd also run into a colleague during his brief layover on Earth who had spent time bouncing between the two colonies orbiting Lacaille 9352. They'd spoken Chinese when they launched, and while their writing system was nearly identical to what they left with, no outsider had managed to make even the most basic steps in the spoken language. It was sometime during our wild speculation about the acceleration of change spurred by utter isolation and radical differences in environment that I made the questionable decision to introduce him to Iccap liquor. The quote I best remember from the drifting, fragmented monologue that followed: "We always believed, you know, that culture defines language absolutely. From way back in the nineteenth century we said it... but it turns out we were right. It's just that absolute is such a relative term. I mean, that, that it's so much more absolute out here. On Earth it's absolute, but out here it's absolutely absolute.â€ His face as he said this was very serious, even solemn, and I doubt he could duplicate it while sober. That may actually be the only quote I remember. I haven't heard from him since that night. He may not want to talk to me anymore. I certainly didn't get along with the guy who put me onto the local brew for a few months. I myself have been about a week recovering, during which time I've had my room's lighting set to the colony standard dim purple instead of the bright white the locals find so abrasive. I find it nearly impossible to bear after a drink or two as well. These times are when I most feel I understand the culture. So, eventually I think Dr. Statler will thank me.