Posted by Glenn Kempf on 01:30 4/26/02
In reply to: (none)
I'm sorry, but I have one major (perhaps silly) question:
In your section on Almea as a whole, you describe the Zone of Fire as a virtually uncrossable barrier, and note that the biota of the northern and southern hemispheres of Almea "differ significantly; but only at the species and sometimes genus level, rarely higher," which is consistent with the Zone being created "seven to ten million years ago" (all of which is fascinating in and of itself...)
However...the section on the evolution of the _lesüasi_ notes that the ilii (the "oldest" of the intelligent races, at least in terms of civilization) took their modern form 400,000 years ago, and the world map shows ALL of the "Thinking Kinds"--ilii, ktuvoki, icëlani, elcari/múrtani, and uesti--distributed throughout the globe (the flaids on Flora are an exception). This would seem hard to square with the Zone's impenetrability--the ilii and ktuvoki, as aquatic races, are easier to explain; the land-based races less so. (The Nan have spread to Bekkai, of course, but this seems to be a more modern development, as an "extension of Nanese civilization"--or is it?)
So...the question is, how did the intelligent races all manage to spread throughout Almea, despite the Zone of Fire dividing virtually all (at least terrestrial) biota? Fortunately, there are a number of possible explanations:
1. The intelligent (land) races in the northern and southern hemispheres may in fact be separate species, if related ones. There is no evidence for this, however, and it seems like too big an evolutionary coincidence.
2. Since the lesuasi evolutionary line splits off from the other lesuniae well before the formation of the Zone of Fire, different populations in north and south may have developed into the modern species. (This explanation is similar to #1, and is an extended form of the "multiregional hypothesis" of human evolution, in which populations of _Homo erectus_ in Asia, Africa, and Europe evolved into modern _Homo sapiens_ over a million years or more, as opposed to the "Out of Africa" hypothesis, that a new population of more modern human spread from Africa less than 200,000 years ago and replaced the rest). The period involved is awfully long, however--at least for the stable evolution of individual species--and the multiregional model depends on different populations being able to mix freely, not the opposite.
3. Divine intervention: the god(s) may have scattered peoples appropriately on the different continents.
4. Iliu intervention, an alternative form of the above--the ilii are the most advanced and most mobile race, and have certainly influenced the others and the world as a whole. After all, they may(?) have been responsible for bringing the flaids to Flora (would that be before or after they won the bet with the ogre?...)
5. The simplest explanation: penetrating the Zone is difficult, but not impossible, particularly for intelligent beings; at some point in the past, groups of uesti, icëlani, and elcari/múrtani did so, and spread and multiplied on the "other" side thereafter--probably on several occasions. (The ktuvoki would probably have crossed the Zone at a time when they were more aquatic; the ilii have been covered already.) Such crossings would probably have taken place, by land or sea, along coastal regions of the zone (Bekkai, Vipodokh, the Arcél-Curym isthmus); inland or sea crossings are possible, but more difficult (although you already spoke of the Almean "Polynesians'" long sea voyages, and the ilii, uesti, icëlani, and elcari/múrtani have had time to reach all of the continents--and the ktuvoki most of them.)
This explanation fits the Nanese penetration of Bekkai, as well as the description of the elcari-múrtani wars leading to the múrtani "fleeing to other parts of Almea." (The race map doesn't distinguish between elcari and múrtani; how widely are the two distributed?)
6. Finally, the possibility of the Zone of Fire being an intermittent phenomenon is mentioned; if this is the case, in addition to its long-term phases (7-10 million years or more), there may be shorter periods in the middle when it lessens or disappears altogether, allowing the equator to be crossed. This is the case with Earth's magnetic poles--over the course of the millenia, the north and south magnetic poles "flip" and reverse themselves (this is a valuable tool to geologists in mapping the ages of certain rocks). The flips themselves are relatively rapid, and in addition to long "north" and "south" periods, there are usually shorter periods of reversal within each. The Zone of Fire might be similar.
So...what do you think of all this babbling? When I first realized that matching the evolution of the Zone and the intelligent races might be a problem, I was quite shocked--but it turns out that there are quite a few "reasonable" explanations after all. There's probably a moral in there somewhere...
By the way, now that you're using the accents, you'd might as well learn how to do italics as well: use the <i> and </i> tags around what you want italicized. (This is straight html; I just copy the mail text into the message's web page.)
Not only have you asked a good question, but you've provided several good answers. :) The closest answer to my way of thinking is #5. Under the right climatic conditions, ilii and ktuvoki can cross the Zone unaided, and the hominid races can with help from magic or technology. The Bekkayin region, for instance, was evidently colonized when a single ship made it across the Zone.
Neolithic hominid populations were apparently taken across the Zone by the ilii or ktuvoki. Almean studies are based on human records, so we have only second-hand information about the great iliu-ktuvok wars; but we know that both sides used hominid auxiliaries, as well as technology no longer seen today.
The ilii maintain that both the Zone and the hominid races are creations of the Powers in an even earlier era-- that is, they were not witnesses to their creation, but encountered them as they themselves explored the world. The iliu records probably record where each race was encountered, but ilian place names meant nothing to the humans (e.g. the Cuzeians) who talked to the ilii. So, we don't know which species evolved on which continent, and evidence was further confused by the iliu-ktuvok wars.