Roots: The Lady of Lorelei boasts paintings of the Mary Rose, the Matthew, the Beagle, the SS Great Britain, the QE2, and the Titanic. There are references to Pirates of Penzance, and Rage Against the Machine.
Dialogue Disasters: "Non-Visphoi scum!"
Continuity: The Saraani have recently have arrived on Dellah after an atheist revolution by "Renaissants" on Saraanis resulted in the exile of the religious groups. Saraani religion forbids alcohol. The Saraani are tall, horned and reptilian, with gills, mandibles, and two large, bright-green eyes. Their tongues are very long. They have broad chests and narrow waists. Their life span is approximately ten Earth years. They are genderless and as such lack libido. A Khulayn is a Saraani holy man equivalent to a high priest or bishop. The Saraani that settle on Dellah worship the GodUniverse. They carry rocks from the Holy Mountain of Saraan. Holy Transference is a process by which a Saraani extrudes a probe from its mouth and uses it to connect to the brainstem of a dying Saraani, taking its mind into its own; the mind of the dead Saraani communes with that of the host, before consciousness fades; the knowledge and experience of the dead mind is then passed on to the Saraani's offspring in a process called Holy Instruction. There are no Saraani texts.
The Silvasic Sea is the largest body of water on Dellah. The Saraani want to consecrate a shrine on one of the Silvasic Islands so that they can start a settlement there. Despite Dellah being a watery planet, sea travel is not common, since most travellers prefer to fly. The Goll Navy owns most of the large ships on the planet. St Oscar's has one large seafaring vessel, the Lady of Lorelei. Dellahan squid is edible. There are dragonflies in the Silvasic Islands. A region of the Silvasic Sea is territory contested by the Goll, Sylan and Zhurunti governments.
Bernice wears tight blue trousers, boots, and a baggy black t-shirt. Her tutor group currently includes Vitor Pluse and Jane Waspo. She currently likes Jazz. Whilst on the three-week Saraani pilgrimage, she lends her bicycle to Menlove Stokes. She has two bottles of Isle of Jura 45-year-old single malt confiscated when she boards the Lady of Lorelei. She gets seasick, overdoses on "Doc Shanley's Anti-Heave Pills", and promptly vomits and passes out. She drinks apple juice. She dons a purple velvet bikini with gold adornments to sunbathe in. She describes herself as an atheist and a humanist. She accidentally obtains a small bottle of Brettellian Potato Spirit, which she takes a sip of. The Visphok bioconstruct that used to be Theo stabs her through the leg with a foot-long metal spike, confining her to a wheelchair until it heals. She dons a skirt instead of trousers whilst recovering from her wounds. She gets drunk on whiskey after Maeve is murdered.
Maeve Ruthven is a Professor of Comparative Religion at St Oscars'. She is a couple of years younger than Bernice and has Scottish ancestry. She is deeply religious, a Marunian. Dr Brion Arvaile is a Biogeneticist from St Oscar's and Maeve's estranged husband, as well as Covert Agent for the Czaritza Violaine. The Visphok bioconstruct that used to be Theo strangles her to death; Vilbian performances Holy Transference on her, transferring her body into another Visphok bioconstruct. Unable to control the bioconstruct's killing instinct, she kills her husband. She dies a second and final time when her bioconstruct body is deactivated.
Professor Urquhart is Head of the Department of Comparative Religion. Other academics from St Oscar's on the Lady of Lorelei include Professors Smith, Southernay, and Martine Ingerskjöld.
The Urtilaxian ruins consist of a line of grey slabs leaning at angles in the deserts of Urtilaxia, a "dreary" planet in a system near to Dellah. They were last surveyed a century earlier. There are two theories about them at St Oscars', one, favoured by the Archaeology Department, that they are the remains of a palace of the ancient, once-great Urtilaxian Empire, and another, favoured by the Department of Comparative Religion, that they are the remains of a huge temple of a vanished faith.
Planets mentioned here include Fenistris, Troxos 4, and Penelope-216. Quinsidd and Verene have accepted other groups of Saraani pilgrims. The Saraani spent some time on the Freblon waystation on their way to Dellah. The Oblongooni have thirteen genders.
Links: There are references to Grel (Oh No It Isn't!), Canopusi (Ghost Devices), Chelonians (The Highest Science, Zamper, The Well-Mannered War), Krakenites (Dreamstone Moon), Xarax (Dancing the Code), Tzun (First Frontier), and Tractites (Genocide). Yquatine is mentioned here and will later appear in Walters' The Fall of Yquatine. Likewise the Valethske are mentioned and later appear in Superior Beings.
Location: Dellah, c2494.
Future History: Marunianism arose circa 2294, when the mainstream Protestant Church accepted all science including genetic engineering; a Scottish Protestant named Marunia Lennox opposed this and established her own faith, which rejected all science. Marunianism found numerous converts after the plagues but gradually became more liberal, rejecting only genetic engineering, vivisection and experimentation for the sake of it.
Visphok is an early Earth colony, settled by Slavs and Russians; by 2594, the planet is in the grip of a revolution to overthrow a regime obsessed with genetic purity. Czaritza Erishkigal Violaine ruled the planet until she was deposed; she flees to Dellah, where she takes refuge on one of the Silvasic Islands. The Visphoi use Vugnix-class battle cruisers. Violaine plans to use the Saraani to transfer the minds of old soldiers into the bodies of bioconstructs; in return she agrees to re-conquer Saraanis for them, but is lying. Maeve kills her.
Wisdom teeth were edited out of the human genome before Bernice was born. By 2494, cigarettes contain no harmful substances whatsoever; possibly as a result, very few people smoke.
Unrecorded Adventures: Bernice has recently spent a fortnight visiting the ruins of Urtilaxia, along with Maeve. They became close friends after several sessions drinking Chateau Yquatine together.
The Bottom Line: "They'll do anything as long as their religion justifies it." A well-written study of religious and political fundamentalism which embraces the obvious clichés in order to subvert them, and in which virtually nobody has black-and-white motives. The Saraani are fascinating, a tribute to the world-building skills of both authors, although the best character by far is Professor Smith, a magnificent bastard who learns a valuable lesson.