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Esaiyasar: SirenePicture of the planet Sirene - 28k


From February to August of 1996, Dan Corrigan ran a local Austin bulletin board called Sirene. Sirene was intended as a test of the 'laissez faire' philosophy as applied to the online community is it possible to create a BBS where the sysop does not interfere at all (that is, no post or user deletion), maintains a policy of free speech and completely open access, and trusts to the users to police themselves, with castigation their strongest weapon?

The answer, in this case, was no. The BBS was quickly overrun by various sorts of munchkins who effectively stifled the desire of the regular users to post.

One interesting feature of the BBS, the online story which follows, requires some explication. Alongside the purpose mentioned above, Sirene BBS was also meant to capture the flavor of a particular short story by Jack Vance, The Moon Moth. Vance's taste for the bold and Byzantine was neatly presented in this tale of an anarchic, self-regulating society where music must accompany one's every word, and you are free to wear the finest and boldest mask you like as long as you can back up its inherent symbolism, with sword if necessary. The planet Sirene had an abundance of easily-gathered natural resources; not needing to labor for survival, the Sirenese labored for fine art, until daily life approached the intricacy of a Noh play.

For "musical accompaniment," substitute "good diction;" for "mask" substitute "handle or nick;" for "sword" write "flaming;" replace "lack of labor" with "enough time to waste calling BBSes;" and you have what we hoped to achieve with Sirene BBS. You can read Sirene BBS's original mission statement here.

[The Moon Moth is an excellent story but may be troublesome to locate; it appears in The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Vol. Two B. (Doubleday, 1973).  If you can't find a copy, a summary is available.]

The Sirene online story grew from a desire among the regulars to try their literary skills at portraying Sirenese. The storyboard was made accessible to all in true Sirenese manner, with the proviso that all would sink or swim on their own merits. This last condition caused much trouble when a participant was snubbed who happened to be not only fourteen years old, but a girl. (Gender had never been a criterion of acceptance, but it made a handy side issue.) This led to a minor flame war which was moved to "The Docks," Sirene BBS's flame sub, and allowed to burn out.

Was there intellectual elitism in action?  Certainly.  I prefer intellectual elitism to ineffectual elitism. <RANT>There are places in the United States where it is physically dangerous to use words of more than two or three syllables.  Most citizens of this country are not capable of understanding our Declaration of Independance when it is read aloud to them, and will consider you a suspicious radical if you try.  Americans cheer when we beat other countries in sporting events and are not even aware that our kids are getting their asses kicked in international scholastic competitions.  Endless movies are made glorifying the happy-go-lucky idiot who wins through twists of fate and no particular mental or physical effort - Billy Madison, Ace Ventura, and Beavis & Butthead are America's select heroes as we head to the next millenium.

The "Marching Morons," as Cyril Kornbluth called them, are everywhere.  They are the majority - the arbiters of cultural taste, the electors of each President. They are the reason why Astrology thrives, why Budweiser tastes like watery horse urine, why Star Trek: Voyager exists.  And, since it is mostly smart people who are able to foresee overpopulation problems and practice responsible birth control, while the Marching Morons continue to breed like bacteria, brainlessly slogging towards worldwide starvation and war, intelligence seems to be reaching the end of its usefulness as an evolutionary experiment.

Fake sciences, such as Astrology, Creationism, and Parapsychology, easily satisfy any curiosity they may have had about the Universe. Real science - the kind that actually produces results and requires years of mental training to accomplish - they scorn and hate.  They rant about Federal money being devoted to egghead projects as they drive home in trucks designed for them by these same eggheads.  They begrudge every penny devoted to the space program as they watch football on television sets designed by scientists, in air conditioned houses cooled by science, wearing clothes with synthetic fibers produced by science, as their kids disdain reading books in favor of hi-tech video games made possible by science.  The kind of science that works, that is.</RANT> Of course I'm for intellectual elitism.  Why aren't you?

Activity on the storyboard, as on the rest of the BBS, tapered off, and the story has been in limbo until now.  When several of the previous participants showed interest in continuing, it was decided to place the story online once more - hence the page you are now reading. And while we're still letting anyone apply to join the story, we've tightened up the entry rules a tad.  You'll find out more info after you've read it.

In the following cooperative story, I play Kwangpard, Darren Shalich plays The Welcome Rain, and Dan Corrigan plays The Sea-Dragon Conqueror. The actual names of other players will not be mentioned unless they contact me to give permission. A few handle equivalences should be noted: Dragon Sorceress was also Endless Questions and A Contradiction Of Terms; and Ost Von Eden was Cyan the Great.

Proceed to the story:

NOTICE: Jack Vance (and whatever literary agencies or publishers he may have assigned the honor) owns the rights to the short story, The Moon Moth, and its contents. This online story is done for no profit, save the ineffable and inmaterial pleasure of the participants, and is meant in no way to infringe anyone's copyright.