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Old September 20 2011, 11:57 AM   #6
Deranged Nasat
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Location: ...But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete, when I wore a younger man's clothes.
Re: Sigils and Unions/SigCat: The Spark in Yartek's Eye

There's a real depth to this story; it might not have the pure emotional power of some of your work, but it's very subtle in the complexity it implies. The writing really gives the sense that this is a fully realized world; what we see hints at many layers to your Hebitia. It's three dimensional, and as usual there's the sense of real meat under the skin. A reader can learn a lot about how you envision this world without needing to be told outright. It's good worldbuilding, which is usual for your work, of course.

The characters are engaging; it's charming to see a well-adjusted married couple, and their conversation and concerns are very "humanizing" while retaining the alien edge that your Cardassians/Hebitians always have. The religious divisions in the Mejuraks' society were particularly interesting, with the large number of sects and individual people challenging the usual script, without rejecting the core faith (indeed to many of these dissenting voices they see themselves as reaffirming the true intent of the Records). That's a very Hebitian/Cardassian way to behave, isn't it? - to step outside the structure of society is near unthinkable, but that certainly doesn't mean they're stagnant or unquestioning (the relatively rapid success of their drive to reach another world demonstrates that). They have a lot of investment in the desire to better themselves and are every bit as varied in opinion and willingness to change as any other race - only the variety operates within a framework of order that to the ignorant outsider might appear rigidly inflexible. The debate and the ideological shifting is subtle but powerful, and if the Cardassian/Hebitian psychology isn't understood an outsider might miss what's going on. Which is something that always works in your stories' favour - it makes the social and spiritual disscussions feel powerful yet controlled, and subtle without losing any of their impact.

One thing I thought was very well played: "The Tan Man of the Sand". That's a great label, in the sense of conveying the attitude held by a lot of people towards the Hăzăkda. It has just the right balance between a worryingly casual dismissal and a sort of awe or at least fascination at the "almost-like-us-but-funny-coloured" being. An "exoticism" that is nonetheless considered vulger somehow, and a perception of the Hăzăkda as balanced between savagery and civilization. Almost respectful in an odd "look at the fascinating man-creature" way, but ultimately pointing to an inability to fully grasp their humanity (well, Hebitianity) and concealing a rather ugly sense of outrage or disgust. It really does sound like something you'd read in British literature of a century back, for example. It really rang true.

Overall, this is another inspirational piece. There's a sense of deft creativity and compassion, and subtle power. I really liked it.
We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile, and nothing can grow there. Too much, and the best of us is washed away.
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