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This Alien Shore
- FAQs regarding This Alien Shore -


Like the interviews there are many spoilers to be found, so please don't keep reading unless you've read the book.

The FAQ page contains singleton questions or smaller exchanges than the longer threads posted to the interviews page. Please feel free to email questions to either myself at webmaster@merentha.org, the Merentha Discission Listserv, or CSF herself.

From: Isabelle Gould [gouldisa@hotmail.com]

Just a note:

The Crack in Space 1966 by Philip K. Dick

RE: In reference to the following quote below: - "cracked" space was used by Philip K. Dick in his book - 1966 - titled "The Crack in Space"

email exchange between Ms. Friedman and Bill Egan.

BE: Also, to my knowledge, this is the first time that someone has used "cracked" space (as opposed to "warped" space) to get around the light speed barrier. Is this really a first? If so, I think you should lay claim. immediately ;-)

CSF: It is a first as far as I know. Ironically, it is actually derived from a real scientific theory that blew me away when I read it. It is a theory called "strings" (not the same as the string theory of the 80's, with which it unfortunately shares a name). The theory is that at the time of the big bang, in the first expansion of the universe, compression waves caused fault lines in the substance of space-time!!! The concept was so clearly fertile ground for writers that the text even said, "it's amazing no science fiction writer has used this concept in a novel yet." I agreed. It was a leap from lines of space-time compression (used to explain the "missing mass" of the universe)to the ainniq of This Alien Shore, but the concept of a universe riddled with fault lines from its creation was so intellectually rich, from a creative standpoint, that I still remember that moment of discovery, just sitting there and putting the book down and thinking, "Holy Shit. I have to do something with this."

From: Mare
I would really like to know more about how C.S. Friedman envisions the "otta" kaja that she mentions in _This_Alien_Shore_. It would be especially helpful to know if she connects this kaja with either an MBTI personality type (like the INTJ t-shirt she mentions in her interview) or with a mantal disorder.

Reply from CSF:
The image is an otter. :-) Very subtle. (Oh no , am I giving away book secrets?) Most of the kaja are named after animals in one language or another -- usually lost languages of Earth -- chosen for some aspect of their behaviour. Some I will probably get hit for when people figure them out. Oh well, thousands of years after people were stranded on a desert planet to make their own way, who knows what was a real animal and what was a legendary one on the mother planet? Unlike Yiddish, English doesn't have all that many words for personality types, so they had to make them up from scratch. That's all the kaja are.

If you read the personality breakdowns suggested by Jung, and the fact that some authors suggest society would function a lot better if we identified kids by their grouping and treated them accordingly, as opposed to expecting us all to be, say, extroverts with an interest in sports, the kaja are kind of a conceptual equivalent of wearing a T-shirt that says: "Proud to be INTJ!"

Notes on the scene betweeen Jamisia and Phoenix just after she cleans up his place. I don't have the original email that I sent that started it all, but I think I was exasperated at how well she understood male psychology - and I'm not talking about the stuff we tell women or guys write in psych books, I mean the stuff that we only talk to other guys about.

Reply from CSF
There is no easy answer, though I am flattered that the question is raised so often. May I ask what in particular inspired this? There must be some point at which you thought, "all right, I finally have to ask her". Well, I have had a lot of male friends, with whom i was very close, and I listened.

I had a brother, and since we are Jewish, that is a culture that is more open about its feelings than most, and men are far less threatened about talking about them. (I remember at one point he was dating a girl and they had a fight, she wanted him to express his feelings more, he told her, "I'm a Jew, I GREW UP expressing my feelings, now I'm tired of it and I want to do something else.") We grew up together and shared a lot, and I learned not only from him but from his observations about the more macho crowds around him.

I read. I read male authors and try to absorb the unspoken gestalt behind their assumptions. I read those few who have successfully crossed gender lines, like James Tiptree, and look for the passages that make me say, "wow, this writer must be male, no female could know that stuff". I have fans come to me and tell me I really write like a man or not, and I ask them why.

Sometimes I get really interesting observations, like the one fan who knew I was a woman because males tend to use simpler color names -- red, blue, green -- instead of the "fancy ones" -- carmine, umber, cerulean. Who would have guessed that?

I know that under the skin men and women are both driven by the same chemicals, though in different balance, and that a lot of male behaviour is the result of feelings that women would really understand at the source, that they express differently or choose to deny, as the male template dictates.

I am aware that a lot of that template has to do with the male struggle for dominance in the Darwinian dance, the fact that males are by their nature designed to compete with each other physically and agressively, and nature rewards them for this. Vulnerability is bad. Emotions are expressed indirectly, through actions, or sometimes by the very act of not saying things. Bear in mind that the male animal was designed to do combat with its own kind, much as the stag with the big antlers, and a lot falls into place.

Beneath the template are the same hungers, the same needs, that all of us feel. Sometimes the two drives are in conflict, and those are probably the moments when readers say, "wow, that is so male, how did she know that?" It's certainly the moment that appeals most to female readers,the struggle of emotion against nature.

I could go on forever, but I guess if there are basics, those are them.

Reply from Paul:
I think what may have thrown existing readers off about that scene and parts of the book in general is that it's the first one in which you use crude imagery and descriptions, such as characters actually saying 'fuck' and describing using sex as something to procure material gain (or in this case a service).

It seems strange that the very people who regularly praise your insight into human motivation/behavior would be surprised by the scene.

Perhaps it's because most SF writers tend to show only the positive aspects of human nature - even their villians are actually not all bad - that it's a shock to have someone show them the other side of the coin.

BTW, would I be correct in guessing that you got more complaint letters from women than men on that one?

Reply from Celia:
BTW your comments on that scene are very interesting. I got a few letter saying that as a sex scene it was not all that good, and missing the point, that it was about manipulation. Sex is peripheral to the fact that she needed him bound to her, it was just a tool. I forget what quote I used for that, but wasn't it along those lines?

From: Amy Searcy [mailto:asearcy@webcorpgames.com]
After reading Ms. Friedman's response to sequels (regarding the Coldfire Trilogy), can I assume that there won't be a sequel to This Alien Shore? How very sad. Out of all the sci-fi novels she has written, this book was had the richest universe and seemed best suited for a sequel. Oh well, one can always hope!

Reply from Paul:
I'll have to dig for the email, but I think she has hinted at not so much a sequel but another story set in that universe.

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