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Shayanan background and biology; was Re: Kinship terms?

From:Elyse Grasso <emgrasso@...>
Date:Thursday, March 6, 2003, 20:06
On Thursday 06 March 2003 01:39 am, Nik Taylor wrote:
Lots of interesting stuff including the following questions:

> > Interesting. This pouch-fosterage is compulsory? >
> > So, it's not obligatory for a pouchling to be fostered to another? >
> What's this Counter-Occupation? Are the "Imperial colonists" human? > Are there any other sentient species besides humans and Shayanans?
> did this contact occur? >
Ok... some of this info is available on the cherani website, but a lot of it isn't written anywhere yet. Cherani Station is the counterweight of a beanstalk that was built in patrnership by the Shayanans and the people whose planet the beanstalk is attached to. There are about 8 species the regularly come through, including Shayanans, Earthans (Humans), Imperials and others. The people on the planet don't come up off it (part of why they agreed to the partnership, which lets them take advantage of their economically valuable location). The Chief of Police is an Earthan named Daffydd Rhys Owens. The Imperials are decadent, 300 pound free-range chickens (except they have teeth, arms instead of wings and dinosaurlike tails). The females are smaller. A few centuries ago they showed up at Shayana, dropped a large rock from orbit onto the only city with electric lights, and announced that they now owned the place. Throughout the Occupation the Imperials has orbital platforms in place that could target the entire planet. At the peak of the Occupation, Imperials on the ground never had access to more than about 40% of the major continents... "And that's if you count places where they patrolled in double-platoons and did dare to step out of each other's sight to relieve themselves". Once the orbital platforms were finally hacked, the Imperials found out the hard way that a lot of Shayanans lived in places Imperials didn't consider habitable, so they were way more outnumbered than they had ever realized. (Shayanans are neither pack hunters nor territorial in our usual senses of the term, so they don't have words for war, battles, etc. They do have a word, "Lliassi", which means "a hedge or biological trap that will take 64 years to ripen, or a plot or strategem that will take that long to mature". On the other hand, normal Imperial life expectancy is only about 64 Shayanan years.) Imperials assigned linguistic gender terms to the Shayanan sexes. One could argue that they got them backwards biologically, but the Shayanans don't care. References to the sexes in the following discussion will follow the Imperial assignments. In the Nedranetsta, a related species with less complex social structures and shorter lifespans and childhoods, twins are the norm, and will usually be pouched by the two seed parents, with elderly and pre-adult members of the group as backups. (It's been suggested that the ability to handle more complex social interactions was the evolutionary advantage that led to the spread of speech in teresstiral hominids. Their more complex social system may be why Shayanans are a linguistic species and Nedranetsta mostly aren't.) In both Shayanans and Nedranetsta, once a hatchling is pouched by an adult, it stays with that pouchparent, except in rare situations usually involving death or the imminent threat of it. A mother has the option of pouching a hatchling herself, bestowing it on another (in Shayanans usually the seed-father or a member of the mother's household, sometimes a grandparent with a separate household) or discarding it if it looks or tastes wrong. The discard option is rare, and causes gossip the will impede the future reproduction choices of both seed-parents, but is considered better than raising a seriously defective pouchling. If the mother's status is high enough that she mated early in the breeding season, she may try again the same year when a discard occurs, though breeding late will do nasty things to her status. (The breeding season sort of starts in the center of a community and ripples outward pheromonally.) In both Shayanans and Nedranetsta the parent of an unweaned pouchling will not be involved in a breeding season. For Nedranetsta that generally means missing alternate breeding seasons. For Shayanans, that can mean missing as many as 4 successive breeding seasons. Shayanan pouchparents are often elderly, or young adults (there is a term, sellithi, for people who are mature enough to be pouch parents but not physically mature in the ways needed to be a seed parent). They may be reproductive adults who want an official heir. Or they may be subordinate adults within a community. The dlia, kellya, and acharya terms are concerned with who your parents are and who you inherit which kinds of property from (or bequeath them to). The default primary heir is acharya (both seed and pouch child) of the same sex. The residuary legatee for household and personal effects is the youngest pouch-child, either dlia or acharya. (Grandma pouches a seed-child of her own acharya-Heir, and the kid gets Grandma's house, is a very common pattern.) The current Hasri lacks an acharya child of her own sex, -- kind of like the Bennett's in Pride and Prejudice not having a son. She still has time to produce an Heir... but the situation is beginning to have political effects. Seed children who aren't pouch-children are entitled to some support when they are small (if their pouchparent is not part of a seed-parent's household) and a hefty lump of support (sort of a dowry or scholarship/apprenticeship fee) when they're old enough to go out on their own. An estate can't be fully probated until all of the minor seed-children have grown up and been dowered. Males compete to be the mate of an in-season female. If there were less than 4 competitors involved in producing a specific child it's very scandalous. If there are 16 or more competitors, some may be sellithi advertising their availability as pouchparents, or females who want to block one or more of the male suitors. Being part of a chevet as a competitor (if she does well) may also accelerate the onset of a female's own breeding season, improving her effective status within the community. (Males only breed once per season, and some competition losers won't breed at all that year, so an early female has better choices. Late breeders are mating with losers, or guys who didn't get close enough to the important females to compete seriously.) -- Elyse Grasso


Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>