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Marilee J. Layman

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07:22 pm: Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith

I never read this before, and while this version was published in 2002, the words clearly came from the mid-60s. It has the feel of conservative 60s, rather than hippy 60s.

Way way way far in the future, Earth has been completely damaged and a group of people from Australia get their own planet, North Old Australia, and the name turns into Norstrilia. It's a rough planet and rough people, who, even though they're really rich (stroon from mutated sheep makes you live almost forever) live in poverty. A 16-year-old boy, Rod (much longer book name), would be the next person in charge of the first and important station, but only if he passes a test. All children go through the test and some are killed while they giggle and others stay alive. His problem is that everybody else on the planet spieks and hiers (telepathy) and he rarely does. When he does, it's so loud it hurts everybody.

It turns out that a guy he knew in school is trying to kill him, so Rod talks to his computer about it. The computer suggests making enough money to get offplanet and Rod agrees. In some hours, Rod actually owns the current Earth. A lot of people, including the guy who tried to kill him before, start working against him. He gets help from people and ends up on Earth as a cat-person, named C'Roderick. They give him a girlygirl, C'Mell, who's known by almost all the people on Earth.

While he's on Earth, he learns about other cultures and how the people there are against the underpeople (mixed human and animal) and just throw them out if they don't like them. He meets the Prophet of the underpeople and agrees to give almost all his money to a foundation that will help underpeople and take the rest home. It'll still make him the richest person on Norstrilia. The Prophet uses "magic" to get Rod back home, where the girl he liked before he left comes running.

It felt a bit clumsy and could be pared down, but the idea is good.

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[User Picture]
From:chomiji
Date:February 15th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
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It also contains some strangely moving poetry.

I'm very fond of the scene where C'Mell takes Rod to an Underpeople cafe, and also the one where Rod is being questioned about the "brain bomb": "Me very smart cat man. Handsome, too."

(My current one and only RPG character is a dog person, inspired by the Smith Underpeople characters.)

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