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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 675 Response

In Nannion’s World

with Elous Telma

Here is a belated response to Challenge 675. These are interesting questions. They raise issues I will be addressing and clarifying in the new version of Oikos Nannion. Thanks for that!

Dr. Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis (Elous Telma)

In Elous Telma’s Oikos Nannion:

  1. What does the title Oikos Nannion mean? What words are formed from oikos in English?
  2. How does the mysterious organism seem to relate to other life forms? Is it favorable, inimical or neutral?
  3. At the end of chapter 22, are Nannion and the humanoid really Bast and Horus, respectively, or might they be mistaken for ancient Egyptian deities?
  4. In light of Frank’s visions and the message “from the deep,” what does the story imply about the search for terrestrial — let alone extraterrestrial — intelligence?

A. “Oikos” in Greek means house, or, more broadly, environment. “Oikos Nannion,” then, means “House of Nannion” and refers to Dioptra, the island where the Aquarium was carved. The cat Nannion gets stranded on the island which becomes her home.

Many English words are derived from “Oikos,” such as “Ecology,” the study of environments. This fits the novel as it is an ecological thriller, in many respects.

B. The mysterious organism has kept its cards hidden. However, it is controlling or simply affecting other organisms, each of which has different attributes. The jellies are dangerous, but they may not be hostile. They reflect organisms in real life that we both fear but cannot and should not feel hatred for.

You can categorize people by their response to this seeming paradox: There are those who hate what they fear, e.g., lions, which may want to eat us, and those who accept ecological rules and try to reject hatred. Otherwise, we should also hate ourselves for eating other animals.

Frank and Mari react differently; as does Nannion, to the influence of the lake organism. Maybe it does not direct its subjects; maybe it allows for free will. A bit like drinking alcohol, different people will react differently to it. I must say, with the feedback I am getting on this issue, I feel intrigued and driven to write a few more chapters expanding on it.

C. Nannion and the humanoid — in my mind — have such unique personalities that they are not the outcomes of reincarnation. They may invite comparisons to mythological characters but, I think, their concerns relate to different issues and philosophical questions. These two characters on Dioptra are dealing with intense emotional states and the need to establish communication between different types of creatures. Again, it will be fun expanding on this with a few additional chapters.

D. In Chapter 2, I make the case that recognizing life on Earth is not a trivial matter. There is so much weirdness in biology that one can write fascinating science fiction without the need for space travel, although that is a lot of fun, too.

Many creatures have self-awareness and consciousness and are able to communicate across species, such your cat or dog. Some animals may be particularly conscious but, for practical reasons, it may be very difficult for them to establish communication with us.

For example, what about blue whales? What if millions or even a billion people had access to a pet blue whale, day and night, over thousands of years of civilization? How far would we have progressed in terms of learning how to communicate with these beasts? What would we have found out?

The point I am making here is that, likely, we have not maxed out our potential as a species to communicate with other creatures on Earth and it is fascinating to ponder what we will learn, if we ever do.

Copyright © 2016 by Elous Telma

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