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Laura 'ad astra' Ackerman writes...

Another try at sending this out-

I just typed up a particularly long question that didn't post and got lost, and I was foolish not to copy it somewhere before hitting submit. I apologize if it turns up later and this becomes a double post, and also if I can't get rid of the autoformating in Word and it looks a little screwy. After losing that long a question I am not taking a chance working directly into the web page.

It has been a long time since I posted a question... of course it has been a long time since I have been caught up with your answers. After reading all of the new responses, particularly those dealing with Oberon and Titania, a question has come to mind. [Actually two, but how many new ways can you ask, "What did Titania whisper to Fox?"? That question should almost have its own section.] The short form of the question is this: Just how different are Oberon's hildren from humans? I am not referring to physical or magical characteristics, but rather do they think in a quantifiably different way than do humans?

The long version of the questions comes after the long digression:

A while back a friend practically shoved an anthology into my hands and insisted I read a particular article. I believe it was called, "Hamlet in the Bush". The gist of it was that a young anthropologist found herself with an indigenous culture for a long boring stretch. [She had thought the off season would be a wonderful time to get to observe their culture. Had she asked them they would have told her the off season is the off season because the weather is so miserable that they cannot even visit the next village. They spend the time drink the local equivalent to bear waiting for it to pass.]

Before leaving she had had an argument with a friend. She argued that at base all humans are the same and once you do some explaining to take care of cultural differences, a great work of literature would be recognized as such by all people. The example that was bandied about was Hamlet, so he gave her a copy as a going away present.

With nothing else to do she sat in her tent and read it over and over until the locals asked her what on Earth she was doing. They were a non-literate culture and to them reading papers meant reading boring legal documents. Even a white person could not be so daft as to spend weeks doing so. She seized upon it an opportunity to test her theory and they, being a story telling culture, were happy to oblige.

She immediately ran into two problems:
-1-They didn't have a concept of "ghost". Zombie, yes. Evil spirit in false guise, yes. But the idea of a dead person's spirit hanging around this world was simply ludicrous to them.
-2-They thought Claudius was a great guy. He acted as an exemplary uncle and brother-in-law, although he waited a bit long in taking care of his brother's household. [Three whole months! And with only one wife to tend the fields!]

In the end they loved the story (with their corrections) and thought she was on her way being a great storyteller, (being female aside). They also told her to be sure to tell her elders that they had been good hosts and had corrected her misremembering lest she continue in error.

I think her premise held, but she hadn't realized how far cultural difference went. The more complex the story, the more it was tied to its own cultural assumptions and the harder it is to explain to another culture.

Back to Gargoyles-

In Gargoyles the basic emotions seem pretty much universal. Gargoyles, humans, New Olympians, and even Nokar and Matrix as far as we have seen them, display them. Love, hate, curiosity and fear, as well as slightly more complex emotions of protection and loneliness are clearly expressed and are more easily understood than some lost cultures of our own ancestors. Are Oberon's Children fundamentally different, or if we can imagine long enough the effects of great power and incredibly long lives we can empathize without too much brain-sprain?

There are great works of speculative fiction that try to understand the mind of The Other. Zelazny had a whole series of stories of robots worshiping and trying to understand the long last human race. I recently read a great book called "Exogesis" (a post-modern Prometheius) by Astro Teller dealing with how a newly emerged AI might think and how humanity might respond. If I would list every book I could think of on the topic I will never stop typing and will eventually have feel the urge to start listing plays and movies as well, (and probably have to deal with Frankenstein, and I am not fond of the book. It is hard to like a book when you hate the main character. Perhaps the movies were right to make the monster the lead character. :).

It all boils down to this: Are the Children of Oberon "the Other", or something very much like ourselves?

Boy this is long! sorry.

Greg responds...

Don't apologize. It's fascinating.

Boiling it down...


Are Oberon's Children fundamentally different, or if we can imagine long enough the effects of great power and incredibly long lives we can empathize without too much brain-sprain?

I'd have to say the latter. Great power. Little or no responsibility. Long lives. Being able to look however you feel at a given moment. You add these things up and they may seem other for awhile. But fundamentally, it's about extrapolation on our human emotions.

Because fundamentally, as a writer, what else can I do? Maybe someone else has the talent, ability, INTEREST in truly creating the OTHER. But not me. I'm interested in US. Gargoyles, humans, Oberon's Children. Toss in the New Olympians, Nokkar, the Space-Spawn, the Lost Race, etc. I'm fundamentally interested in figuring out what makes us real world humans tick. Or boil it down further, and I'm fundamentally interested in figuring out what the hell makes ME tick. All the characters in the Gargverse are just there as an alternative to me being in therapy, I guess.

Does that make sense?

Response recorded on June 29, 2001