Dreamed 2016/9/18 by Wayan
I bike down to the San Francisco Fringe Festival, to see a troupe called All That Jazz improvise a musical based on a setting and title the audience shouts--tonight it's The Wrecked Cigar set in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Poor Carlos our singing hero is caught between Russian & American spies. A peanut allergy does in the Russian spymaster--the same actor as the sleazy American general. Musical flashbacks to a submarine, a life raft, cannibalism. Ewwwww...
Fun, if not profound playwriting. But it's not about art. Improv is like dancing dogs--it's a triumph they can do it at all.
At home, reread an early Andre Norton novel, Star Gate (1958). The planet Gorth had a medieval culture, but after a generation of Terran contact, cities are modernizing. Young Kincar's half-native, half-Terran. Soon as we're clear on Gorth's hybrid culture and see an identity-crisis/coming-of-age novel, Norton throws a curve: the Terran settlers decide they're harming Gorthian self-determination; they vote to leave and find an uninhabited world.
Kincar's left behind. Between. Racism soon leaves him disinherited, then exiled.
The dislocations keep coming! In desperation he joins a mixed-race group that's set up a portal leading into an alternate Gorth. They aim for an empty world where they can found a hybrid civilization, but instead...
They stumble into an occupied Gorth. Horribly occupied: natives as slaves, under brutal Terran rule. They must face, and fight, alternate versions of their own kin--and, potentially, themselves.
Quite a wild ride, so far. No wonder I liked Norton's early books, up through the sixties and seventies. Men dominated in her early books like The Last Planet (1953), but female characters here are stronger. Norton also treats ESP and animal rapport matter-of-factly this early. She had already had a human mutant as hero in Star Man's Son (1952)--but is this her first alien protagonist? Rare in science fiction even now; but extraordinary then. Was Kincar the very first?
I'm standing in a wide-mouthed cave high on a cliff; a waterfall pours in a glass curtain past the mouth and down out of sight. We're in Amazonia, on the Brazilian side of the Roraima Plateau, and the waterfall thundering over the lip is taller than anything in Yosemite; not Angel Fall, but a Brazilian rival nearly as high--over 600 meters (2000') in a single drop.
The Russian athlete heads out--rappeling down beside the fall, on the far side, the right side. His trainer comes over to me and hisses "Stay away from him. If you show him up we'll make you pay for it!"
Now the American's about to go--a tall beefy white guy in a red white & blue jumpsuit. I'm a small & slender brown girl, in a Brazil-green swimsuit. He looks me over, leering--ugh, he's gross--then crowds me, leaning down to mutter "You better go down the left side away from me. Don't crowd me if you know what's good for ya, little girl."
He jumps a cave-creek, runs to his rope, and rappels out of sight behind the booming fall--down the right side, again; the better side.
His team crowds me, muttering threats--how they'll break in and rape me, what they'll do to my family...
They push me toward the left side, an awkward unsafe corner of the chimney, wet, stormy, slick. Take it and I'll certainly lose. And quite possibly die.
The Russian intimidated me. But... bullied by two Northern Powers, I lose my temper. When my starting gun cracks, I dive down the right side, tight by the Russian rope and right on top of the American rope. With no rope at all. Freefall! I have a small chute, and maybe I can grab his rope... for I aim to hit him. Rape me, attack my family? Not if he's dead.
He's climbed over 15 meters down by now...
So I hit hard. Knock him right off! Even if I die, I took him out with me.
Pity I couldn't hit the Russian squarely. He hangs on, but spins wildly. Will he fall too? Still could. I hope.
Free fall. Booming white water around me.
I reach to pull the gold ripcord opening my emergency chute, but before I learn if I'll live or die... I wake.
Notes in the Morning
Note a Year Later
Now the slow burn of outrage that drove me to risk a suicidal attack on American & Russian bullies makes more sense to me--after Trump rode "They're all corrupt!" all the way to the White House, while Putin quietly pulls strings... Though it's the poor Brazilians, with half their politicians under indictment (and the other half deserving it), who know what corruption really is.
I just worry that voters' "Down with 'em all!" mood WILL be suicidal, as in my dream--will crash our already shaky economic and political system. Working people, unlike politicians, can't trust in golden parachutes.
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