Ranh by Ian Miller

The Cultured Dinosaur by  Ian J Miller

The Cultured Dinosaur

While writing a series of novels, I have devoted quite some effort to having different forms of governance in the background, so a secondary purpose has been to explore the various failings of them. My latest effort is Ranh, and the form of governance is a theocracy. It is intended as a stand-alone novel, but it also has five major characters from previous novels, two of whom are dinosaurs, or more specifically, raptors. The necessary history is summarized at the start of the novel, but basically it is that previously a message from the future had suggested that the raptors of Ranh (around the star Epsilon Eridani) would wish to remove humanity from Earth. Natasaha Kotchetkova, Claudia Lucilla and Gaius Claudius Scaevola arrive to arrange a peace treaty between Earth and Ranh

Why would an advanced species be a theocracy? The reason is that about 65 million years previously, some advanced race of aliens moved Cretaceous life from Earth and banged an asteroid into Earth. Accordingly, when the “creation versus evolution” argument arose, they concluded both, since there were no signs of what evolved into dinosaurs, and of course this was a very acceptable compromise. That opens up the plot to having a religious fundamentalist that sees it as his holy duty to recover “the planet of creation” for the Ranhynn. (A double n ending is plural.)

The next problem was to devise a culture for them. Since I think most advanced species will have similar desires, but modified according to their physiology, the simplest start was to have public spectacles, including games. The obvious sport was tailball, so I had to devise some rules. Since the fewer rules usually lead to the more widely followed games (rugby might be an exception) it was easy enough to devise some elementary rules, and of course, the fouls. The second major spectacle was the equivalent of the dual. Raptors would like fighting, but since one had been to Earth, a new variant could be added. Because they liked fighting, or more particularly, liked watching others tear each other to bits, gross insults ended in such spectacles, as did punishment following the conviction of a crime. However, obviously you can’t have everybody doing this all the time, so there had to be laws, and culture by which this happened just often enough to be interesting, but not so as to terrorize the innocent. Law, and honour, were strong parts of Ranhyn life, and, of course, the plot can have the religious fanatic adjusting the law to his own purposes.

The insults I used might seem odd at first, but think of their means of reproduction. They have a caste system, and the lowest are the unacknowledged, i.e. those whose parents do not want to know about them, at least officially. (They refuse to acknowledge the egg as theirs, and only one needs to do it. Think of bastards.) One of the worst insults I have is to accuse one of being an egg-eater, or perhaps even worse, an egg squasher. If you think about it, neither is nice.

Then there are shops, and also the chances for misunderstandings. Once, Natasha is taken to a place with a sign saying, “Personal Services”; this turns out to be place that hires out offices for secure business meetings. Popular shops are small butcheries, and fresh liver is highly desired. Take-aways tend to be wriggling. The vain tend to spend a lot on “sheening products”, which are designed make their plumage shine most strongly. Fighting tends to start with taking off boots; if you look at the cover you should guess why. Many of the raptors wear dark glasses, because the star has a rather high UV output, but they tend to be as much for fashion as for function.To summarize, I had a lot of fun designing life on this planet. I also had a lot of fun with the plot and action, but for that you have to read the novel.

Ian Miller is the author of Dreams Defiled, Legatus LegionisA Face on Cydonia,  Puppeteer to name just a few.

When a self-aware android is made to stand in for a human, they should not have chosen the most evil man available. A programming omission leads to humanity’s greatest problem: Jonathon Munros http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EK5T6WE

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