A Sandfly Under The Stars

Former renegades and captives, natives and converted slaves, Jews and new Christians, adventurers and convicts formed an important contingent of a specific category inside the frontier society of the Portuguese empire: that of the interpreters or linguas. Their functions could be executed by those who were not marginal, but the ideal profile required to competently fulfill this position presented some characteristics such as the facility to evolve in several worlds, which was not a quality found in the milieux of the imported society.

On the other hand, these characters, being difficult to classify or to ascertain to which culture they belonged, were troubling due to their knowledge of different languages. The interpreter was suspected of having his soul corrupted, being contaminated by “the other side” (outro lado), because employing other languages necessarily implied the use of the thought mechanisms of the Asian world. He had access to forms of a mental universe which escaped his masters.

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Portuguese_Brazilian_Studies/ejph/html/issue2/html/couto_main.html

This description matches that of the debugger given by Kerry Nietz in his book “A Star Couriously Singing”. Due to his affinity for technology and logical thinking is the debugger a low profile pariah in a society of faith that is as well depending on technology as it is deceiving it. His way of thinking brings him in a permanent conflict with the holy scripts that dominate the spiritual world of the so-called Abduls.

For the sake of society is he legally a slave, powerless, virtually even diminished to a sexual neutrum. His mental universe which escapes his masters and let him escape their world is the so-called stream. An implant enables him to use the internet without any technical devices.

Debugger 63, or as he prefers to be called “Sandfly”, is one of these guys. Able in his profession as well as expendable for his master and his society is he ordered to an orbital station. There lies docked the new space ship “DarkTrench”, back from it’s maiden flight to the star of Yad-al-gausa, Betelgeuze for the non-Arab-speakers, the crew quarantined. Somewhere en route the service bot destroyed itself, an incident that makes the Abduls fear contamination of their own systems.

There he starts to repair the bot and restore it’s memory to find out what happened. But struggling with this task he learns about the Abduls and their readiness to get rid of him and of his later called colleague HardCandy, one of the few female debuggers.

At this point he manages to put the bot back in operation just to learn that it smashed itself after catching a kind of stream in Beteigeuze’s orbit that also made the members of the crew better humans. Sandfly receives that stream also in the form of a song and is now a freehead, someone who cannot be punished from or by his implant.

In the end the spaceship’s crew travels down to earth to form an underground movement to change the society and the two debuggers set out to Beteigeuze to get more information.

From my point of view is ’“A Star Curiously Singing” quite well written. But there is a point when Nietz switches from the conflict between the biggot society of the Abduls and the scientific orientated insights of Sandfly to one between a religion that fences technology and one that is open for it. He even introduces an entity that is not A(llah) but A³, a being that is even higher and obviously more interested in mankind.

http://www.amazon.com/Star-Curiously-Singing-Kerry-Nietz/dp/0982104987

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