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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old May 9 2014, 08:04 PM   #1
Deranged Nasat
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Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have this)

I've mentioned my maintained-for-personal-enjoyment Trek Lit "encyclopedia" a few times, and not too long ago asked for Damiani-related pointers, since I don't have Perchance to Dream. I thought I'd share a few examples, since, let's face it, who else is going to appreciate this nonsense?

Here is Memory Beta’s Aarruri article:

"The Aarruri are a species from the Gamma Quadrant who resemble humanoid canines. Pifko Gaber, a crewmember of the Even Odds, was an Aarruri individual".


Mine is better.

Aarruri

A sapient species native to Aarru, in the Buof System. They somewhat resemble a dog, and certainly a Human’s first reaction would be comparing them to the Earth mammal. Aarruri are quadrupeds with a long snout and a slender tail, which is semi-prehensile. A narrow line of soft, floppy spines run down the back, a shade darker than the body fur, which is usually forest green. The head is sleek and streamlined, with a narrow muzzle. Unlike a dog, there are no external ears. The eyes come in several colours, including a dark brown. They often express emotion, though the face is also flexible and can be read by Humans familiar with the race’s company. Among other things, Aarruris can smile and scowl, though the former is more a grimace and to Humans can look intimidating. Another instinctive move is wagging the tail, which as in dogs indicates pleasure. Body language is also used symbolically as part of cultural expression. For example, an Aarruri good-bye ritual consists of nuzzling heads, briefly touching cheeks before stepping back.

Inside an Aarruri’s jaws are narrow teeth designed for puncturing prey. Originally pack-hunting predators, Aarruri evolved to attack living creatures and wrestle them into submission. Their diet is still largely carnivorous, though they complement it with vegetable matter. They’re susceptible to alcohol, and like many species consider it a recreational drug. Their sense of taste is acute, though in another departure from Earth canines, the tongue isn’t lengthy or flexible. An Aarruri’s vocal chords are located in its throat, as in most beings. The typical voice is lower in pitch than a Human’s, despite the smaller size of Aarruris. Sitting on their hind legs, their head reaches only above the hip of an average-sized Human male. Aarurri spend much of their time in this position, keeping their front paws off the ground to allow for use as manipulators. Each of the paws ends in four surprisingly lengthy fingers and a small opposable thumb, though these are mounted clear of the ground; the paws’ primary purpose is still to carry the body’s weight, and permit quadrupedal movement, often at speed.

Like dogs, Aarurri are mammals, and endothermic. As such, they’re highly adaptable to variant temperatures. They greatly prefer warmer climates, but they’re naturally suited to colder environs and remain energetic in low temperatures despite their discomfort. Whatever the climate, Aarruris don’t wear clothes, and their genitals are freely visible, making sexual identification easy. Occasionally they might wear a collar, though this is usually for mounting technology like communicators; taking it for a mark of domestication is greatly offensive. At least some Aarruri dislike being touched by non-mammals, though the aversion rarely translates to bigotry.

Aarruris are long-distance hunters, and thus more tenacious than aggressive. They have the sharp eyesight, smell and hearing of an active predator, and are able to track other life-forms for long periods. Despite having excellent senses and a tendency for compassion, the Aarruri are not known for any sort of psionic ability. Traits such as literal empathy are extremely rare. Social co-ordination is highly sophisticated, though, and most Aarruris are quick to make friends. As a matter of instinctual heritage, Aarruris love to run, and often howl incoherently while doing so. In their natural state, this noise is used to disorient fleeing prey. In the modern era, running is not required for everyday survival, but the instinctive need remains. Champion runners are respected and even envied, and most Aarruri use it as a form of exercise. Confined and unable to run, an Aarruri will swiftly become ill and lose their appetite. Some Aarruri run in a professional capacity, for example as couriers for local government officials. This tradition is outdated in the age of long-distance communicators, but will likely never be rescinded. The excuse is that transmissions can always be intercepted, and a trusted eyes-only courier is more secure. Everyone knows the real reason is that denying champion runners prominent positions is to lose a uniquely Aarruri custom. The highly attentive and spatially-aware psychology of the species also explains the common boast that “the best tour guides in the quadrant are Aarruris”.

Aarruris tend towards monogamy, with long-term partnerships centred on biological young. Litters vary in size from as few as two to as many as fourteen. Three to eight are the norm. In their youth, all Aarruris take prospect-propensity testing, known popularly as PPs. These suggest for the children suitable career paths, noting their personal strengths and matching skills and character traits to prospective jobs. Litters take them together, and often similar results are found across the board, due to close genetic makeup and a shared home environment.

Aarruri have two names; the first individual, the second combining their place of origin with the size of the litter they were born in. Thus, the first half is a regional province like Ga or Ri, the second a word indicating number. All such terms begin with a “B”; “bek” signifies one of four, “ba” one of six and “ber” one of seven. A “bele” is from a particularly large litter. Aarruri names include Jirro, Pifko, Ptasme and Sfeila. These are approximations, as the vocal structure of the species differs from that of Humanoids. This extends to the name Aarruri, which is taken from the planet name, Aarru. The sound emanates from deep in the throat, a very doglike, gentle bay that ends in a brief whine. The plural of Aarruri can be spelt with or without an s, with the variants used interchangeably.

Fully involved in their local interstellar community, the Aarurri are comfortable with alien contact, despite their unusual physiology, which makes them distinctive. Aarruri traders and tourists are found on multiple worlds within several hundred light-years of Aarru. Aarru itself is loosely united in a coalition, but each region is mostly self-governing, ruled by a local parliament. As noted, each of these parliaments retains professional runners employed as eyes-only couriers.

Pifko Gaber was Aarruri. A mate of his sister once dated a Humanoid, an act seemingly uncontroversial.
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Old May 9 2014, 08:05 PM   #2
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

Memory Beta doesn't even have an article for this one.

Ab’brax

A ritual performed in Betazoid culture. The Ab’brax is an ongoing display of symbolic mourning for a woman nearing middle-age without children. Primarily performed by her mother, the mourning symbolizes that the woman in question is “dead”, in the sense that her hopes for procreating and thus continuing the family line are over. In matrilineal Betazoid society, a woman remaining unwed when she hit menopause risked extinction for the house; for this reason, the Ab’brax was a “cry for help”. Despite being a “mourning” ritual, in practice the Ab’brax wasn’t performed when the child-rearing age was past but when the mother judged there was little time left. Its function was to gain attention, advertising the need in hopes that a man of another family requiring a wife would ask for marriage. As Betazoids are literally empathic and endowed with telepathic talents, the exaggerated emotion displayed by the mother is unavoidable, and prompts response from the community. For her part, as head of the family, the mother fulfils her obligation to ensure its lineage continues.

Ab’brax originated prior to the space-faring age, when Betazoids were agrarian. Life spans were shorter, and a woman’s niche more strongly defined as domestic and hopefully maternal. In some regions, among the noble Houses, it continued to be observed into the 22nd Century, but soon after even these holdouts stopped the practice. Still technically on the books as a cultural observance, it’s almost exclusively ignored. Deanna Troi described it as “provincial, even archaic”. Critics of the Ab’brax, Deanna among them, argue that it’s unduly controlling, with a woman’s decision to bear children taken from her personal consideration and made a concern of the mother. Troi compared the hypothetical woman to a farm animal, sold to a strange man by her family to satisfy outdated expectations. This may be somewhat unfair in that Betazoid women have a natural biological response to approaching menopause named Phase. In this state, a woman’s sex drive quadrupals or more, spurring her to find a mate. Unwedded women tend to focus these energies on a single man who then becomes her husband, an outcome almost inevitable among telepaths. The Ab’brax could then be considered a means of sparing both the woman in question and eligible men a potentially embarrassing experience. Thus, while some interpretations are hostile to the mother, Ab’brax can also be viewed as an act of responsibility from the matriarch, in that she advertises her need in a manner that also respects her charge, and averts potential diruption. Still, the matrilineal custom does make the daughter’s marriage and child-bearing a concern of the mother rather than the daughter, and as womens’ role became less strictly defined as domestic, the custom certainly chafed. Whatever the stance on its implications, most modern Betazoids are content to lose it as a cultural tradition.

In 2366, Deanna Troi faced its reality when her traditional-minded mother, Lwaxana Troi, observed the Ab’brax on her behalf. The elder woman was travelling to the starship Enterprise-D, where Deanna served, for a diplomatic affair, and observed the custom throughout. For her part, Deanna heard that Lwaxana was mourning for her before she boarded, and was initially distressed. Understandably, she worried that her mother believed she’d died. Soon, though, she realized what must be happening. She shared her deduction with William Riker, after making him promise he wouldn’t laugh. Indeed, when Lwaxana arrived she was fully committed to Ab’brax, addressing her daughter in a voice laden with manufactured grief. Later, Deanna privately confronted her, and the older woman defended her observance of the ritual:

“I have certain responsibilities, my dear. Perhaps others can ignore the Ab’brax, and heaven knows I would if I could. But being a daughter of the fifth house carries with it tremendous responsibilities. And one of those responsibilities is to uphold all the traditions of Betazed”.

Deanna still refused to take it seriously, calling the Ab’brax ridiculous and embarrassing. She also expressed anger over her mother’s lack of concern for how it might affect her:

“How am I supposed to take something where you’re telling total strangers that you’re in mourning for me?!”

After further discussion of its archaic nature, Lwaxana had a final defence of her choice:

“My dear, anyone can uphold traditions that have meaning. Upholding the pointless traditions - that, Deanna, takes style”.
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Old May 9 2014, 08:28 PM   #3
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

Finally, because Duane is so popular...

A'Kweth

Immense life-forms native to Vulcan; a secretive, near-legendary race inhabiting the desert regions. Subterranean and rarely encountered, they’re one of the planet’s greatest mysteries, and are strongly mythologized in Vulcan culture. Those who see them are supposed to gain great insight into spiritual matters. Although the a’kweth are often believed to be a legend, in part due to this mystical portrayal, they’re not. Their mythical status is due to the rarity of encounters, unfamiliarity with their lifestyle, and deep, near-religious respect for their mental power. They’re otherwise an accepted if little-understood part of the Vulcan biosphere. A’kweth are found in the larger deserts of Han-shir and Na’nam. Sometimes assumed to be silicon-based, they’re physically immense, rising like living mountains out of the sand. The exact form of the a’kweth is still unknown, though is supposed to be somewhat like a worm. They reportedly have semi-prehensile tentacles that sometimes play with objects on the surface - bright stones or other interesting items. The most commonly seen part of the a’kweth’s body is the back (or what’s believed to be the back), which arches through sand dunes like a whale in water. What is certain is that a’kweth are among the largest planet-bound creatures known to science. Unconfirmed reports suggest they reach thousands of metres, even rearing over mountains on the rare occasions they surface. Most of their lives are spent beneath the ground, sliding through the deep sand of the greater deserts. Sensor records show that they skirt the outcroppings of mountains like a ship between islands. Their behaviour in terms of movement is often simple, and seemingly random. These are not lower animals, though, but beings of sapience, albeit a type alien to Vulcans or Humans. Tales and witness reports suggest immense intelligence, a wise and benevolent spirit, and incredible intellect. Their thoughts are conveyed through a telepathic process that may coincide with aural stimuli; a’kweth communications are often referred to as song by Vulcan witnesses. This song is more reminiscent of pressures in rock strata than the calls of living creatures, though.

A’kweth have never deigned to establish permanent relations with Vulcan Humanoids. Nor have they been observed under controlled circumstances, with attempts at scientific study giving, at best, contradictory data. Still, there are usually a few dozen credible sightings per Vulcan year, and the occasional telepathic contact, rarely with obvious motivation. In the age of modern technology, a’kweth are subject to occasional sensor scans, yet they still prove strangely hard to monitor. Even now, when Vulcan has been mapped by advanced technology, and satellites can see any grain of sand on the planet, very little is known about the movements and nature of the a’kweth. Indeed, most scans prove of little use, considering the weight of natural elements between the creatures and the scanning equipment. What is known is that a’kweth are biologically distinct from other Vulcan fauna. Sensors turn up vast life-sign readings, a level of vitality that would normally belong to a thousand creatures, but movement readings rarely pinpoint more than one source of motion. Sometimes a tracked vital sign disappears completely, without explanation, and without trace. Still, monitoring their movement has led to some insight; for example, realization that a’kweth encounters trail off in the days preceding a major ground-quake. This has led Vulcan geologists to monitor reports of a’kweth encounters; silence from the a’kweth is generally a sign of impending seismic disturbance.

Equally mysterious is the origin of the beings. They are seemingly unrelated to other Vulcan lifeforms and appear not to respire or take in food. Some scientists think they were seeded on Vulcan by an older space-faring power, perhaps as an experiment. If they are silicon-based as is sometimes proposed, they’d be the only such species (until the Horta) to coexist on a planet with carbon-based life. Some argue that this stance is unsubstantiated by data, and the assumption of silicon composition flawed. Further, a’kweth may not be so alien as first assumed; it cannot be known what kind of feeding and respiration takes place in a creature that lives hundreds of metres below the surface. A final theory explains the a’kweth’s unique biology as a holdover from an older biosphere otherwise vanished. That is, a’kweth may be the only survivors of a previous mass extinction, and thus the eldest species on the planet.

What is certain is the prominent, if understated, role the a’kweth play in Vulcan culture. Their presence has long been influential on Vulcan artistic expression, though direct mention is surprisingly rare. This is largely due to respect, a belief that to maintain the mysteries of the creatures is to best honour them. Such a convention may seem at odds with the Vulcan’s science-oriented culture and infamous curiosity. However, there appears to be an unwritten understanding that the a’kweth are to be kept shrouded in mysticism. The word “a’kweth” even literally translates to “hidden”. It’s one of several names for the creatures, another being tcha-besheh, the Underliers. In equatorial regions of the Han-shir continent, early encounters with a’kweth led to a popular mythology surrounding “the Underlier”, a singular figure similar in function to a genie. This being is said to be the repository of all knowledge, no doubt a detail based in the a’kweth’s formidable intellect and vital spirit. Some Vulcans still claim to have “mystical encounters” with the Underlier, which may or may not be actual meetings with a’kweth.

One of the most prominent legends concerning the a’kweth is the tale of Surak’s encounter. According to popular legend - a legend supported by Surak’s own tales and referenced in the Kir’Shara - the founder of modern Vulcan culture encountered an a’kweth as a young man. Having fled his home in horror at the state of Vulcan society and its path to self-destruction, he met with the being in the shadow of Mount Seleya. It made contact telepathically, and “sang” to him, sharing its joy at their meeting. The encounter had a profound effect on the young Vulcan. To commune with something so intellectually powerful, and yet so different from himself, was a privilege, and a joyous insight into the benefits of diverse perspectives. This incident is said to have influenced Surak into finding his philosophy of Kol-ut-shan, and sharing it with the rest of Vulcan, despite the near-certainty of his eventual death by violence. As Surak is often considered akin to a prophet, having met with divine inspiration, so the a’kweth - or at least this particular a’kweth - has become a symbol of a’Tha, the immanence.

The a’kweth feature often in Vulcan poetry, though rarely are they made its focus or explicitly described. As can be expected, the meeting with Surak is particularly prominent in verse, including a well-known poem by Segalt.

Poetry aside, a’kweth are little more than a legend to the wider Federation. Perhaps due to the secrecy in which Vulcan veils its culture, the sand-dwelling beings have attracted surprisingly little attention, despite being one of the galaxy’s wonders. Non-Vulcan writings on the culture or history of Vulcan do occasionally make reference to them, though rarely do they offer anything substantial. For example, in her seminal work The Romulan Way, Terise Haleakala-LoBrutto refers to “intelligences of the deep sand” while discussing Vulcan contact with non-Humanoid life. No elaboration is offered, though. One Human text that does attempt to describe them is quoted below; like so much writing on the a’kweth, it’s more poetic than scientific:

There is little agreement about the Underliers. Some have likened them to the Vulcan equivalent of dinosaurs...but dinosaurs that never became extinct, content to live their long, strange lives in remoteness and silence, only occasionally having anything to do with the busy, hungry hominid species that came to spread across their planet. In silence they go their own ways, and what thoughts they think about the planet above them, in our day, they do not share.

One final mystery is whether a’kweth ever had contact with offworld sapience. The Cetaceans of Earth, another form of intelligence without spaceflight or technological tools, were nonetheless in semi-regular contact with a major space-faring culture, that which produced the Whalesong Probe. It’s often speculated that a’kweth might have similarly sent greetings to spaceborne life, particularly given their great vitality and apparent telepathy. Some theorists even speculate that the a’kweth are themselves extra-Vulcan in origin, even suggesting that the sands of the deep deserts are full of subspace tunnels, by which the beings come and go as they please. This, they say, explains the tendency for sudden disappearance of life signs being tracked from orbit. Whatever the truth, the a’kweth remain one of the greatest treasures of planet Vulcan, and perhaps the least understood.

Tuvok once had an encounter with an a’kweth, which he described as “near-mystical”. He believed the experience contributed to his decision in 2349 to return to Starfleet.
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Old May 9 2014, 09:00 PM   #4
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

Wow, Nasat! Looks like you are a Star Trek treasure trove!
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Old May 9 2014, 10:54 PM   #5
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

I'm glad your focusing your time on this, not other more questionable endeavours.
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Old May 9 2014, 10:57 PM   #6
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

Dimesdan wrote: View Post
I'm glad your focusing your time on this, not other more questionable endeavours.
I'm glad you're expressing your natural aggression in a more understated and subtle fashion. You'll be domesticated yet.
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Old May 9 2014, 11:10 PM   #7
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As long as it isn't NASCAR history....
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Old May 10 2014, 12:17 AM   #8
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Have you ever thought about setting up a Wiki? With you as senior editor (I don't know if wiki's have "owners") perhaps you'd draw other more detail oriented beings like yourself. It would be nice to have a resource for non canon licensed works that actually seemed to give a crap about detail. In my opinion generally speaking Memory Beta is a joke when compared with Memory Alpha.
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Old May 10 2014, 05:41 AM   #9
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

Stoek wrote: View Post
Have you ever thought about setting up a Wiki? With you as senior editor (I don't know if wiki's have "owners") perhaps you'd draw other more detail oriented beings like yourself. It would be nice to have a resource for non canon licensed works that actually seemed to give a crap about detail. In my opinion generally speaking Memory Beta is a joke when compared with Memory Alpha.
I think that might be a little harsh - after all, both of them are fan-edited, not anything official or something that the people who edit and update it are paid for. Memory Alpha has the benefit of being a bigger draw for people, because not everyone who watches the shows reads the novels.

The biggest problem of Memory Beta, I think, tends to revolve around how it's attempting to chronicle ALL non-canon Trek, be it books, comics, games, etc. Naturally, that seems like a daunting task, made a lot more difficult by how detail-oriented wikis are. Because of that, it probably scares off the more casual people from going in and making large scale edits, which would leave only a handful at best who are really putting out these major edits, while there are still more books and games coming out, in some cases requiring updates of things where the update is already delayed.
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Old May 10 2014, 08:54 AM   #10
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
Dimesdan wrote: View Post
I'm glad your focusing your time on this, not other more questionable endeavours.
I'm glad you're expressing your natural aggression in a more understated and subtle fashion. You'll be domesticated yet.
Touche. I think.
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Old May 10 2014, 10:53 AM   #11
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

DGCatAniSiri wrote: View Post
Stoek wrote: View Post
Have you ever thought about setting up a Wiki? With you as senior editor (I don't know if wiki's have "owners") perhaps you'd draw other more detail oriented beings like yourself. It would be nice to have a resource for non canon licensed works that actually seemed to give a crap about detail. In my opinion generally speaking Memory Beta is a joke when compared with Memory Alpha.
I think that might be a little harsh - after all, both of them are fan-edited, not anything official or something that the people who edit and update it are paid for. Memory Alpha has the benefit of being a bigger draw for people, because not everyone who watches the shows reads the novels.

The biggest problem of Memory Beta, I think, tends to revolve around how it's attempting to chronicle ALL non-canon Trek, be it books, comics, games, etc. Naturally, that seems like a daunting task, made a lot more difficult by how detail-oriented wikis are.
Yes; I have an advantage here in that it's just me, and I can include and exclude what I want, because this isn't a shared resource or community effort, it's just my personal decision. Basically, I include anything canonical or from the modern novel 'verse continuity, as well as anything from other sources (older novels, RPG, etc.) that doesn't yet contradict the novel 'verse or can be tweaked and made to fit without major effort, then I tie it together with my own speculation.
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Old May 10 2014, 05:02 PM   #12
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

Nasat, will you be uploading these entries to Memory Beta? Or would you mind if others did? They are so helpful, and as you point out with the above, far more helpful than MB at times.
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Old May 10 2014, 05:08 PM   #13
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Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
Nasat, will you be uploading these entries to Memory Beta? Or would you mind if others did? They are so helpful, and as you point out with the above, far more helpful than MB at times.
The problem is, I'm not sure these would meet with MB's requirements or standards. There's speculation involved (mostly in terms of linking different sources together or smoothing over discrepancies), and citation would be difficult if not impossible in some cases, given how mashed-together it is.

I did go through a period in which I adapted some of it to MB; the current Nasat article (http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Nasat) is an example of that, since it's about 90% info from my encyclopaedia, but I lost interest given how different their goals, standards and practices are.

Still, I guess it wouldn't hurt to update the Aarruri article, since everything in my entry for them is from Rising Son and there's next to no speculation.
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Old May 11 2014, 11:33 AM   #14
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

^^ I see, Nasat. MB does have some strange goals and prohibitions, although I have managed to sink some more psychological analyses into some characters and events. And since psychological analysis is so subjective, even if drawn from the text, it may be possible.

Still, I still think you should publish these somehow. A blog perhaps?
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Old May 12 2014, 05:23 AM   #15
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Re: Excerpts from The Encyclopedia (some people have lives; I have thi

^ Or just a "regular" website that you would own/maintain. (A blog seems a strange format for an encyclopedic reference...)

It would certainly be interesting to read what else you have available.
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