Reality Skimming

Sunday, August 07, 2005
Feisty Rebels and Their Impact on the Status Quo
 
Everyone wants to overthrow Sevildom. This is a good thing. After all, I do not advocate the fictional oligarchy of the Gelack side of the Okal Rel Universe as desirable. I would be a huge failure in my own estimation if the net result of the Okal Rel Universe was to foster an elitist obsession with bloodlines and birth ranks in the real world. The problem I have with readers and writers who want to tear down the status quo of Sevildom has nothing to do with idealogy.

It is about oversimplifying the problem.

I recently came across a story that illustrates this very well. It is a story about an amazing woman. I am taking it as a given, here, that the story is true. It is based on journal entries made by Northwest explorer David Thompson, on two separate occasions, and on one journal entry made by Sir John Franklin. The Manlike Woman overcame the cultural limitations imposed on her as a female to carve out a life better suited to her unique personality. She did it despite the humiliation of being deemed a "loose" woman by natives and Thompson's European fur traders alike. She did it without any obvious role model to inspire her. She blazed her own trail. She had a huge impact on her immediate followers and defined her own life, on her own terms. How much impact did she have on the world at large? Almost none.

In fact, she barely qualifies as a footnote in history.

I discovered her in a two page article entitled "Columbia River / Indian Prophetess"
in Mysterious Canada: Strange Sights, Extraordinary Events, and Peculiar Places by John Robert Colombo (Doubleday Canada, 1988). Few articles in this charming and entertaining book, endorsed by none other than SciFi's own Spider Robinson, are as authoritatively documented as Manlike Woman's story. Two pages back, you are into ghosts and claims concerning visitations by UFOs although Colombo tackles the chronicling of such things more in the style of a folklorist than with the breathless, question-posing habits of an Erich von Daniken.

The only mention I could find on the web to Manlike Woman, was a post on a forum, (See http://roxen.xmission.com/~drudy/hist_text-arch4/msg03326.html), although whether that is due to the difficulty of referencing someone without a name, I cannot know. (In an effort to remedy Manlike woman's obscurity, I have submitted an article to Wikipedia called Manlike Woman the Indian prophetess of the Upper Columbia River.)

My point in all this is not to belittle the heroic life of someone like Manlike Woman. It is to rebut any reader or writer of the ORU who says: "Yes, but surely some feisty rebel will have overthrown all this horrible, Sevolite-centric hierarchy by standing up for him or herself, hundreds of years ago!" My suggestion is that attitudes of this sort are innocent of any realistic grasp of history and the potence of the obstacles involved, in particular.

The ORU does seek to chronicle improvements in social justice, through change. But those who want to write for it must accept the complexities and very real difficulties inherent in the process. In other words, any story that solves the problem of Sevolite dominance, in 6,000 words, with a feisty commoner who says "fooey" to the whole thing, is unlikely to find favor with me. On the other hand, such a story might be very interesting if the author took the time to research how similiar rebels were treated by history, first, and to understand the ORU well enough to produce a plausible interpretation or variation on the theme in a genuninely ORU setting.

I would be excited to see such a story. In fact, if nobody else beats me to it, I might write one or two of them myself.

Comments:
Regarding the "Manlike Woman", her name was Ka˙xuma N˙pika. If I find the time, I'll put together some more information and add it to the Wiki.

Thought you might be interested for your own research
 
Thanks for the input, technotaoist.
 
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