An Interview With Bobo


Recently, Bobo agreed to answer some questions that I had. If you have any questions, please feel free to submit them at any time!

Ken:
I was wondering if you could explain the diet of a person from Homeland.
Bobo:
That is a very interesting subject! Biologically speaking, all of the Homelanderoid species are omnivorous, meaning that they can eat, digest, and obtain sustenance from both vegetables and meat. A very interesting book Sentience and Diet: Probable Links by Dr. Lahas Norti (Fomin City College Press, 4592) explores this topic further. In it, Dr. Norti maintains that strict herbivores (such as cows and horses) do not develop sufficient social conflict to need a civilization, and that strict carnivores have too many conflicts to rise above savagery. Civilization requires a large brain and a large body to carry it around. Since strict carnivores eat very high up on the food chain, they require too much hunting territory to develop sufficient interdependence. Thus Dr. Norti reasoned that sentience and civilization will develop primarily in omnivores.

If Dr. Norti is correct (and it appears that he is), then it is no coincidence that Human and Homelander diets are basically the same: meat, vegetables, fruit, and so on.

Ken:
What about vegetarians?
Bobo:
Vegetarianism is a matter of conviction, not biology. A number of Homelanders are vegetarians.
Ken:
Are there any differences between Homelander and Human diets that you can think of?
Bobo:
Oh, definitely. Although both species can enjoy the cuisine of both planets and benefit nutritionally, there are some differences. Homelanders on Earth have to increase their salt intake and take a mineral supplement; however this depends on the individual. There are some minor problems which look like food allergies; for example, Homelanders generally can’t eat strawberries. Which is a shame, because I love them.
Ken:
How does spaceflight work? How can Melissa get to Homeland so quickly without going faster than light or experiencing Einsteinian time distortion?
Bobo:
I am an anthropologist, not an astro-navigator, so I can only give you a simplistic answer. We are all Homelanderoids, none of us have feathers, and none of us can fly. Until the airplane was invented, our movements were limited to the two-dimensional surfaces of our planets. If you wish to go from New York to San Francisco without an airplane, you must cross rivers, deserts, swamps and mountains. Some of these are formidable barriers, and the journey takes a long time, because you are limited to the two dimensions of left-right and forward-backward. When the airplane was invented, it added a third dimension: up-down. In an airplane you can simply maneuver around the obstacles that caused you so much grief before, and the journey is much quicker! Our spaceships are simply a straightforward improvement over airplanes. They are simply capable of maneuvering through a few additional dimensions.
Ken:
I see. Are there any intelligent creatures in these alternate dimensions?
Bobo:
(Laughing heartily) You’ve been reading too many comic books! Did you discover any intelligent creatures when the airplane allowed you to explore the mysteries of the up-down dimension? Of course not! A tribe of Homelanderoids living on a birdless plain under a permanent heavy cloud cover might not think of the up-down dimension. Once it was demonstrated, it would be obvious, even though it had not been apparent before. That’s the way it is with interstellar maneuvers.
Ken:
What about time as a dimension?
Bobo:
Technically, that is considered a dimension, but I don’t know what role, if any, it plays in space flight.
Ken:
What about artificial gravity on spaceships? I notice that Melissa was not weightless from the Moon to Homeland.
Bobo:
Interplanetary traffic, from the Earth to its Moon, or from Homeland’s first Moon to Homeland, does involve some weightlessness. Interstellar traffic does not, for health and comfort reasons. There is no such thing as artificial gravity in the sense of a mysterious field projected by some sort of generator. However, there is simulated gravity. One possible way to achieve this is to rotate the ship so that centrifugal force provides the physiological and psychological comforts of gravity. However, I don’t know the precise method used on either of Melissa’s ships.
Ken:
Is the gravity the same on all civilized worlds?
Bobo:
For the most part, yes. The greatest difference is between Earth and Zerpick. It’s not possible to make a subjective comparison between two planets, because space travel in simulated gravity makes it difficult to remember precisely how the gravity used to feel on the planet you left behind. After all, gravity just feels like different degrees of down!

Zerpickers living on Earth do not report any particular discomfort, but research shows that they develop a statistically significant number of gravity-related illnesses if they remain here over a long period of time.

Ken:
What sort of gravity-related illnesses?
Bobo:
Certain cardiovascular disorders, compressed spinal disks, broken bones as a result of falls; things like that.
Ken:
Another reader wants to know how many years to the 47th hexacentury. She thinks that Panu implied to Melissa that there are only seven more to go!
Bobo:
Oh no, that would be wrong. It’s 4599 now, and that means that the year 4600 is one hundred and three years off. Your decimal numbering system gives me a headache sometimes, so you’ll have to pardon any computational errors. You gave me a copy of Melissa’s letter, and I see right away what the problem is. “Fep” means 9 hex, and “fepen” means 90 hex. But when we talk of hexadecades, we talk about the “fep years,” the “kan years,” the “dot years,” and so on. Melissa accurately reported what Panu said: in essence, we have the kan, dot, lot, dens, eps, and lekto hexadecades (not years) ahead of us before 4600. Barbara should be commended for her sharp eyes! The misunderstanding is entirely Melissa’s fault. She should have translated this figure of speech a little more freely.
Ken:
I am intrigued by the sexual equality in Thorgelfayne, especially by the female Duke!
Bobo:
Manni Thologar is Duke because she qualifies, so Melissa, John and I consistently use the term duke instead of duchess to avoid any possible implication that’s she’s only a sort of Ducal first lady.

As far as sexual equality is concerned, we abhor it! We disdain any sort of equality at all, although there are some democracies on Homeland that still prize this political concept! Thorgelfayne prides itself on individuality. Each person stands without prejudgment before the law. It is repulsive to our legal system to assume that any individual possesses virtues, vices, talents, or handicaps simply because they appear to belong to some group. The fact that Manni Thologar is a woman may be interesting trivia to some people. What is most important is that Manni Thologar is Manni Thologar.

Ken:
A reader who wants to be anonymous asked if there are any matriarchies on Homeland.
Bobo:
The days of matriarchies and patriarchies on Homeland ended hexacenturies ago.

The definitive (but dusty) work in this area is Sexual Identity and Political Form by Prof. Dr. E. Fargnon (Snodgrass Press, 458A). You might want to read it, if you are interested in ancient history.

Nowadays these distinctions do seem silly. In the ancient proto-Halakanian empire, only people with red hair could join the priesthood. This apparently silly distinction had a valid historical origin: the red-heads were the descendants of a conquering tribe. Because intermarriage made red hair rare, it became more and more difficult to find a head of state as years passed. The last three high priests were of remarkably dull intellect, having attained the office solely by hair color; so the empire fell.

Ken:
Melissa has mentioned some temperatures. What scale is she using?
Bobo:
The International Standard Measurement System, adopted in ancient times. The temperatures are in degrees Halakanian: water freezes at 0 degrees and boils at 100 degrees (256 decimal). Normal Human body temperature is 5E.C degrees (94.7 decimal). Normal Homelander body temperature is 5F.0 degrees (95.0 decimal).
Ken:
Someone asked me if you have any special powers.
Bobo:
It is quite popular here on Earth to attribute all sorts of exceptional talents and even magical powers to Homelanderoids from other planets. Of course, we don’t have any, and that will be very clear once we go public. In the meantime, the only special powers I possess are the power of observation and the power to go home.
Ken:
How soon do you think that the World Council of Countries and Independent Jurisdictions will make its presence on Earth known publicly?
Bobo:
I have no idea. At least there are no plans that I know about.
Ken:
Can you compare the technological levels of Homeland and Earth?
Bobo:
Yes. Aside from space travel, there really is not much difference. Technological progress is uneven over time: it starts out fast, and then levels off. Humans are in the fast start-up phase at the moment. Homelander technology excels mainly in quality and reliability. A major difference could be found in the distribution of technology: most Humans live much as they did before the industrial revolution. Since we have had our technology longer, it is more uniformly distributed.

None of the Humans on Homeland are experiencing any sort of future shock.

Ken:
What to you have to say to the reader who thinks that all this is fictional?
Bobo:
I’ve never lived in a novel before, especially not one where the characters discuss and even criticize the author. However, to these people I say: Skepticism is good intellectual hygiene, keep it up!