the alien occupation

Thank you for inviting me to speak today. I am pleased to present all of you who share an interest in Terran affairs with the most recent discovery made possible by your support for the Terran Archivist Group: this interesting multi-volume study whose title roughly translates as A Definitive History of the Alien Conquest and Occupation of Eusa. This compendious work, written roughly 300 Terran (approximately 40 Tlönian) years ago but discovered only recently during excavatory work on Terra, and apparently produced by an indigenous historian named Brandon Harbury Thorne, is a remarkable addition to our knowledge about the Galatean occupation of Terra.

As you are all aware, Terra was invaded and occupied by the conquering Galateans for approximately 1,000 of their years, and it has only been since the relatively recent (perhaps 25 Tlönian years) decline and dissolution of that enormous empire that Tlönian archaeological brigades have been able to visit Terra and try to reconstruct some of its fascinating and complex history under Galatean rule. We now have Thorne’s painstaking–and so far unique–work to thank for illuminating a previously obscure area of that history: The large land area of Eusa, which was only sparsely inhabited by seemingly primitive and fragmented tribal societies at the time of first contact with the Galateans, had previously revealed to our scholars only tantalizing hints of the traumatic experience of invasion and conquest. Now the picture is much more complete.

The indigenous population of Eusa was not even confirmed to have retained the capacity for written historical record until the discovery of Thorne’s work. It is evident to us that Thorne was probably a member of a select group of indigenous scholars who were trained in Galatean “thought-enclaves,” as their universities were called, and thus became skilled in advanced techniques for historical research and analysis, which would have been far beyond the capacity of the vast majority of the degraded and diminished indigenous population of Eusa.

With your courteous permission, I will now proceed to try to summarize some of the major revelations that this long-awaited Tlönian translation of Thorne’s work has produced in the field of Terran studies. First and perhaps foremost, Thorne indicates to us that the indigenous population of Eusa was already in severe decline from a series of centuries-long shocks at the time the first Galateans literally stumbled upon those shores. We can now confirm, thanks to Thorne’s corroboration of findings from our own initial excavations in several different parts of the Eusan land mass, that at least some of the scattered and disunited peoples of Eusa may have descended from a fairly complex cosmopolitan civilization of their own, of which they themselves had but scant memory, preserved mainly through some bizarre rituals whose origins were lost in the mists of time, and a scattering of oral histories. Current theory now has it that intractable and unending wars, famines caused by an unstable climate and mass deaths from a variety of forms of toxic contamination may have decimated the Eusan population and reduced its civilization to these degenerate remnants, perhaps even centuries before the Galateans arrived.

For their part, when the Galateans invaders, who came to Terra seeking to start afresh after unleashing a series of civil wars on a previously conquered planet, made their first excursions on Terran soil, they apparently had no knowledge even of the exact location of the Eusan landmass. Before venturing to land on Terra, they had monitored communications from the only still-functioning cosmopolitan civilization they could find, located on the Asean landmass, and they spent nearly a century conquering it and establishing themselves in that area. Apparently, internal factional disputes among the Galatean colonial leadership led to a group of Galateans setting off from Asea with poor navigational capability (this seems to have had to do with the inadaptability of some of their most sophisticated technology to the Terran planetary environment) and insufficient supplies, and, as I said, literally discovering the Eusan landmass by mistake.

From there, a fascinating sequence of events transpires. Thorne’s reconstructions, involving transcribed oral testimonies, access to Galatean archives and museums of indigenous Eusan artifacts, may be somewhat fanciful—for how can thousand-year old encounters with few or no written records, or records that were kept by the self-serving Galatean chroniclers themselves—be truly reconstructed? But they are also very compelling. Thorne’s intention is to portray more fully the indigenous experience of the encounter, and in that he succeeds remarkably.

For example, he vividly describes the experience of a small, settled indigenous group living in a place called the Naranjo Riding, in the coastal desert of Eusa’s southwestern quadrant, when the first Galateans, apparently exhausted and near starvation, appeared from the sea and attempted to negotiate their survival with the inhabitants.

A poignant and ironic tragicomedy of mutual misapprehension and failed communication results. The urban-dwelling, culturally sophisticated peoples with whom the Galateans had become familiar in Asea were nothing like the Naranjo Group, and of course the Naranjans had never seen anyone like the Galateans in dress, physique, or bearing. According to Thorne, the Naranjans lived in basic, poorly handcrafted dwellings and practiced subsistence farming and herding, scratched out of a denuded and desertified landscape. They were forced to protect themselves from the periodic violent raids of at least one, and possibly several, nomadic groups, whom they collectively called the “Ateos.” These aggressive, loosely knit clans intermittently descended upon them from their bases deep in the eastern mountains, killing their men and stealing their women and domestic animals.

According to Thorne, the Naranjans also preserved a set of archaic rituals centered on a wrathful and vengeful deity. This deity was Terran in aspect, and according to their legends had murdered his son for trying to usurp him. However, the son was subsequently exalted as the savior of any people who collectively agreed simply to repeat his name at every possible opportunity. The Naranjans’ mythology, passed down from century to century, maintained that their god would one day return. Thus they may initially have mistaken the exotic Galateans for harbingers, or prophesied beings of some kind. And the Galateans, as they had done in their first contacts with the Asean peoples, slyly—and in this instance, desperately—attempted to make use of their superior technology (at least in weaponry) and their bizarre appearance to cow the natives into accommodating their needs. The Galateans basically seem to have survived among the Naranjans because of their strangeness, as well as their unshakeable sense of innate superiority and single-minded desire for acquisition. These were, of course, the qualities that had driven them to set out across the galaxy in the first place.

Ironically, in this initial phase, the Naranjans seem to have been interested in implementing their own agenda with regard to the invaders, whom they believed might be of use to them in ridding them of the depredations of the Ateos. And so they even permitted the Galateans to live among them, and treated them with relative hospitality, showing them how to eke out their subsistence from the unforgiving land. Remarkably, after some years among the Naranjans, this Galatean exploratory group managed to re-establish communication with a Galatean outpost on a remote chain of islands. They then informed their conspecials of the vast and relatively commodious lands awaiting them across the ocean from Asea.

From this inauspicious beginning, in which the survival of a desperate band of confused Galateans amid suspicious and potentially hostile primitive peoples was by no means a given, stems the centuries of their rise and the spread of their occupation throughout the Eusan landmass and beyond. Thorne chronicles the subsequent arrival of the first full-sized armed expeditionary force, and the seemingly immediate and total submission of the coastal peoples. This was facilitated, according to Thorne, by the Galatean ability to generate electricity and overwhelm Eusan suspicion and resistance through the exhibition of projected images that stunned, fascinated and pacified the inhabitants. Thorne indicates that machines for the reception of these images were installed directly in the homes of collaborating Eusan tribal leaders whom the Galateans considered sufficiently influential, which gave them added prestige and also enabled the Galateans to monitor their activities and conversations without their knowledge.

Accompanying the first large-scale voyages of colonization were Galatean religious missionaries, whose evangelical zeal had provided a good deal of the impetus, or at least the justification, for the Galatean galatic imperial project. The Galateans worshipped a large white edible object, something like a Tlönian radish, from which they said all wisdom flowed. The discovery that coastal tribes such as the Naranjo were highly religious, but foolishly believed that the supreme deity was a Terran like themselves, caused great consternation in the Galatean church. These missionaries, who had been largely irrelevant to the Asean conquest, were dispatched with each succeeding expedition to Eusa, to rectify the theological error and set the primitive Eusans on the correct path.

As a result of actions that Thorne maintains were largely misinterpreted by the natives, the missionaries, in their early communications, triumphantly claimed to have converted thousands. This they apparently did by giving the Eusans bits of dried radish (which they carried for just such eventualities) to eat, and sprinkling radish-water on their foreheads while mumbling unintelligible baptismal rites over them. These performances eerily but serendipitously mimicked the Naranjans’ own ancient ceremonies of initiation.

This missionary fervor, however, would ultimately backfire, resulting in the fiercest resistance the Galateans would encounter in their conquest and colonization of Eusa. The Naranjans had held on to their superstitions with utter conviction for centuries; they gave them identity as a people and enabled them to forget the most difficult physical circumstances by simply continually projecting the imminent arrival of a world in which life would be blissful due to their god’s return. It was only a matter of time before they began to reassess their initial conclusion that the strange invaders had some connection to their own deity.

Thorne informs us that the Galatean attempts to convert the Eusans peacefully did meet with some initial success, as there were many who appeared willing to adopt the radish-god as their savior, mostly in order to be left alone, or because they were provided with benefits like better dwellings or weapons or personal televisory machines as a result. In the syncretic image-making of the early colonial period (Thorne’s book also has some stunning interactive plates, including early digital maps, Galatean photography, and reproductions of the aforesaid Eusan carvings and paintings) the radish-god has been conflated with the Terran filial god. He appears as a pale green Terranesque figure with a large, round, white, somewhat misshapen head, bearded, and surrounded by a halo of light. In one image, Galatean priests have obviously attempted to paint out his beard.

However, such syncretism only worked as long as the Galatean governors and priests refrained from outright abuse of the population. This, unfortunately, was not largely the case. The Galateans were unshakably convinced of their divinely-ordained superiority over the Terran races, and on Terra they were far removed from the rules and restrictions of their own heavily bureaucratic society, and this left the door wide open for extremely aggressive, ambitious and cruel colonial behavior.

The Galateans, when they entered a settlement, publicly read out long treatises of formal appropriation and lists of proscribed social behaviors that were completely incomprehensible to the illiterate Eusans, and yet whose dictates they were expected to obey to the letter upon pain of torture or death. The coastal peoples, overwhelmed by the ever-greater numbers of Galateans who continued to flow onto their shores within a decade or so after first contact, were conscripted as forced labor to build Galatean installations, made to turn over their livestock and crops at will, and finally to work as virtual slaves in the enormous radish plantations the Galateans established in areas that had previously been uninhabited wilderness.

But perhaps the worst scourge wrought by Galatean colonialism was not even intended by the conquerors. Their alien bodies hosted a variety of organisms, extra-Terran diseases, to which indigenous Terrans had little or no resistance. These diseases had also been significant in the Asean conquest, but their effect was much greater among the long-isolated and genetically uniform populations living along the Eusan coast. Thus within decades of first contact, the already-sparse Eusan population was weakened and further reduced by mysterious epidemics that neither colonists nor Eusans could identify or check.

Thorne continues to focus here on the specific chronology of the Naranjans as an exemplary case. They came to believe that their adoption of the Galateans’ false god had unleashed these plagues, and tried to revive their old son-worship in secret, in clandestine caves and remote desert hide-outs where they painted the right-angle crosses that were the chief emblem of their faith, and supposedly performed the ancient rituals that the Galatean priests had tirelessly tried to suppress. Still their population continued to decline, and the Galatean abuses persisted.

From their midst emerged a leader whose name was something like Wan Daylacruss (in phonetic rendering), a Naranjan who was fanatical and charismatic enough to build a formidable resistance movement. He did this by declaring that an apocalyptic battle with the Galateans was necessary in order to obtain the desired return of their true god. There is an incredibly vivid rendering of his clandestine meetings with the Naranjan patriarchs to rally and ensure their support, and his launching of the bloody revolt. We are told that hundreds of Galateans were killed in a single day throughout the Riding, mostly with their own stolen weapons, as blood-curdling cries of the names of prehistoric Naranjan saints “Robarson” and “Falwil” filled the air, generating terror in the Galatean settlers as they sought uselessly to flee.

Fear of spiritual and physical annihilation at the hands of the Galateans thus led to the first of many uprisings—some, like this one, provisionally successful—attempted by the coastal Eusans. It also led indigenous groups that had previously considered themselves bitter enemies to form temporary alliances in their attempts to evict the Galatean overlords. However, these alliances tended to disintegrate quickly once they had achieved their objective, and Eusans reverted to raiding and warring with each other as soon as they succeeded in banishing the Galateans from their midst.

Nomadic and settled tribes, never able to overcome their fundamental opposition, tended to take opposing sides, and once they became cognizant of this, the Galateans fomented such division whenever they could.

Thorne gives several fascinating histories of particular revolts that succeeded in eliminating the Galatean presence from specific regions –sometimes for a period of years. But the Eusan resistance was finally definitively overcome, within a century or two of the arrival of that first bedraggled band of Galateans.

The Eusans could not have known that there were untold thousands of Galateans who had not been well enough positioned during the Asean conquest to receive its spoils, and were hungering for land on its teeming shores. Or that more interplanetary ships drawn by the reported successes of the initial invasion, were arriving on Terra as well. Meanwhile the combination of Eusan susceptibility to disease, inferior weapons technology, and inability to unite diverse groups, made the final Galatean conquest of Eusa something of a foregone conclusion, notwithstanding the many excesses and ineptitudes of the conquerors.

Galatean settlement then experienced explosive growth throughout the Eusan landmass. We thus enter the period about which more is already known, thanks to Galatean communications with Tlön and provision of their historical materials to our archives. This information, however, tended to make little reference to the indigenous Eusan population and how it fared under the long centuries of Galatean rule. Thorne, writing in the latter period of the empire, brings us much new information, both to the extent that he refers (although obliquely) to an increasing Galatean decadence, and also to the fact that the Eusan indigenous population had surprisingly begun to rebound, after its nadir in the near-genocide of the early colonial period.

Another surprising revelation is that traditional Eusan lifeways had come to be romantically admired and even to some extent adopted by sectors of the dominant Galatean settler class, which now numbered in the millions. Disenchanted Galateans, tired of life in the congested and heavily technologically-mediated cities established by the empire, attempted to find Eusans who could teach them how to “live like a native,” and even paid large sums of money to Eusans who identified themselves, truly or falsely, as purveyors of that lost wisdom. Thorne indicates that most of the information the Galateans obtained from such teachers was the purest form of clap-trap, but that, as the Galateans seemed content with whatever the Eusans decided to tell them, and the Eusans needed the money, the relationship appeared to be mutually advantageous.

A far more important instrument of the indigenous turnaround appears to be the discovery by the Eusans that the Galateans were passionate gamblers, in spite of the fact that their religion prohibited gambling as a fatal sign of weakness and a rejection of radish-spirit teachings. Following the pattern of every single empire whose history resides in the Tlönian archives, the Galateans had vastly overextended themselves in their aggressive occupation of Terra and other planets, and grown complacent, hungry for sensation and, in effect, terminally bored after lifetimes of unremitting prosperity and well-being on Terra. Meanwhile the many subject-populations were kept at barely subsistence level, sharing in none of the prosperity the Galateans kept for themselves.

The Eusans realized at some point that huge quantities of the excess wealth the Galateans enjoyed due to their control of Terra could be siphoned off by facilitating their lust for games of chance. Eusan religious beliefs do not seem to have impeded the indigenous inhabitants from becoming the owners and operators of gambling establishments. Thorne reports on the exponential growth of such establishments throughout Eusa, identifying this as a contemporary development that should be of great significance to future scholars.

The rest, as they say, is history. We know of course how the Galatean empire finally collapsed, and Galatean cities on Terra and elsewhere were overrun by the indigenous populations they had exploited for so long. Many Galateans then fled to their planet of origin, but after generations away, it was no longer truly home to them. To this day there continues to be turmoil and strife on Galatea as a result of the surplus population, bitter internal rivalries, and loss of revenue resulting from the empire’s disintegration.

I conclude by expressing what a debt of gratitude we of the General Archives owe to you, the supporters of the Terran Archivist Group, for making possible the costly expeditions which unearthed Brandon Harbury Thorne’s astounding work, and funding the laborious process of its full translation. I encourage all of you to take full advantage of the wealth of information contained in this newest addition to Tlön’s ever-improving Terran archives.

A final note: Eusa’s present-day status appears to be mostly quiescent, with a relatively limited number of Galatean stay-behinds living in harmony with the various indigenous groups, and a sort of proto-anarchistic set of local governments attempting to make the best, most egalitarian use of the old Galatean infrastructure, now that the erstwhile rulers have disappeared from the scene.

Of course, with your ongoing support, the Terran Archivist Group will continue to monitor the situation there with great interest, as it continues, perhaps we can say, to evolve.

Are there any questions?

 

Advertisements

Comments are closed.